Summer is coming, and we want a fresh rosé. Apostolos Thymiopoulos can offer this. Though it’s not what you maybe would expect at this time of year: Here is an oak-matured rosé with some backbone.
Apostolos was the first to vinify the family vineyards, in 2005. He believes in sustainable viticulture and minimum intervention during the whole winemaking process. With this philosophy Apostolos produces ten different expressions of xinomavro, to express every aspect of its potential.
We are in the Naoussa appellation of Macedonia, northern Greece. The Thymiopoulos winery is located in Trilofos, a village at the foot of the Vermio mountain. The parcels for this wine are non-irrigated, young vines of xinomavro, around the village of Fytia at 450-650 metres. The soils are schist and granite.
The Naoussa region has a warm continental climate, tempered by the cooling winds coming either from Vermio mountain or from the sea.
Lower temperatures due to high altitude, and big differences in temperatures during ripening season give freshness to the wines.
The grapes were hand-picked, destemmed, macerated for 12 hours, and fermentated with wild yeasts in stainless-steel tanks for 5 to 6 months. Then followed a 4 months maturation in 500-litre, second-use oak barrels.
Rosé de Xinomavro 2020(Thymiopoulos)
Light red. Aroma of strawberry, currant, rosehip and herbs (thyme). Juicy and rounded, with some backbone, and also a nice acidity.
Fanny Sabre has in short time, and at a young age, become a respected producer in Bourgogne. After her father passed away in 2000, she and her mother have run the family domain in a magnificent way. (Read about another wine here, also with an introduction.)
Today she manages the 5-hectare domain from her cellar in the heart of Pommard. And the grapes for this week’s wine are sourced from plots in that commune. We enjoyed the wine at “the wine office”, Vinkontoret, in Stavanger, Norway.
Like for all her reds she has here used 100% whole clusters and matured the wine in mainly 400 liters and mostly used and partly some new barrels.
Pommard 2016(Fanny Sabre)
Light cherry red. Aroma of red (cherry) and dark berries, touch underwood. Juicy in the mouth with fine-grained tannins, concentration in flavours, good acidity and length. Very delicate. Will keep.
The Lorentz family property is located in Ribeauvillé, Alsace. Georg Lorentz, sixth generation, is currently in charge – while his youngest daughter is studying to be a winemaker. The property has 33 hectares of eco-certified vineyards in the commune Bergheim (that lies within the Colmar-Ribeauvillé arondissement), among them two grand crus.
This wine is made from 54% sylvaner, 40% gewürtztraminer and 6% pinot gris. Hand-picked grapes are spontaneously fermented with skin contact. The wine is matured in steel tank. Unfiltered, without added sulphur.
Qui l’Eût Cru 2021(Gustave Lorentz)
Orange, somewhat turbid. Nose of flowers (rose petals), mandarin, acacia honey and almonds. It has an energetic acidity, quite full in the mouth, balanced, and good length. Very vital.
Here is the second part of the report from this year’s Vella Terra. We leave Spain, crosses over to Portugal, then from France and to the east, then to the north of Europe.
Fernando Paiva came with his grandson João Goucha, who studies enology in Vila Real. Fernando’s estate Quinta da Palmirinha is in Lixa, south in the Vinho Verde. He is a pioneer in biodynamic farming in Portugal, uses chamomile flowers to avoid the use of sulphur in his natural wines – and is well covered in this blog. (Read about a visit to the estate here.) His Azal and Loureiro varitals were typical and up to standard. Leviano was made for the first time in 2020, that I tasted in Porto last summer. It’s a loureiro, now in the 2021 vintage, made with 3 months skin-contact. This makes it an orange wine, or “curtimento” in Portugal. Golden to orange; aroma of ginger and flowers; full in the mouth with some structure, and a super, integrated acidity.
João Tavares da Pina is found in Penalva do Castelo in Dão. (Read here about a visit to his estate.) The family’s Quinta da Boavista dates back to 1650 and is found at an altitude of 550 meters on deep granite, quartz, clay and shale soils. These vineyards are ideal for grapes like touriga nacional, alfrocheiro and rufete. And not least for the variety jaén (mencía), a speciality of the quinta.
I love his series Rufia (meaning punk), young, fresh wines. Among those tasted this time, why not mention the Rosé 2020, from rufete, touriga and jaen. Salmon-coloured, with raspberry and wild berries, rounded with a very careful tannin. Very interesting was his Tretas 2020, a jaen and touriga nacional. It was macerated on the skins for 4 days and kept in inox for 6 months before bottling (unfiltered, unfined). Tretas means bullshit in local slang. The wine is serious fun: A quaffable glou-glou, but with depth; cherry red, ripe red fruits and with some structure.
I hadn’t met Rodrigo Melo before, but I understand that this is a producer to watch. Rodrigo is from Brazil, but worked for many years in natural wine distribution in London. In 2018 he started his own project and came to Portugal, where he already knew its terroirs and grapes. He bought 4 hectares of land with 30-year-old vines with organic certification in northern Lisboa, that is Quinta da Ermegeira. He also works with biodynamic techniques, and the winemaking is with very low intervention.
Rodrigo showed interesting samples under the label Selva. Noiva 2021 was a different chardonnay, with botrytis and with some residual sugar. Here we chose Cristovan 2020. It is an orange wine (in Portuguese curtimenta) made from arinto, in a cement tank of 1.700 liters. The colour is light orange after 10 days fermentation on skins, the fruit is lovely and the acidity is refreshing. Only 11% alcohol.
Domaine Balansa is a 15-hectare estate in Corbières, established in 2015. This family project has an organic approach to farming and also runs tourism activities in the most sustainable way possible. I tasted the whole portfolio, various styles from southern French grapes. This time we could maybe focus on one of the more “serious” wines, Can del Rey 2020 from Fitou. It’s made from carignan and grenache, from 100 year old vines on hillsides, made with some carbonic maceration and matured some months in oak. It’s dark in colour, with youngish blue; aroma of wild berries, some balsamic, and slight hint of toffee too; good weight, fine tannins and with a balancing acidity.
The Les Vins Pirouettes label covers seventeen independent Alsatian winegrowers committed to organic and biodynamic farming. Each viticulturist grows the grapes on his own land and makes the wine in his own cellar. It’s an initiative by Christian Binner, and the idea was to give the growers a helping hand so that they didn’t need to sell their grapes to cooperatives.
Many times I have been impressed by the energy and creativity behind the wines and the dedication behind the labels. In spite of this, it can be (for me) many new wines each time. As a general rule, we can say that they are affordable natural wines.
Among the most rewarding wines this time was Saveurs 2018 from producer Rafaël, a fruity, citrussy and juicy silvaner (this label also covers a blend). More slender, but equally energetic was David‘s Riesling Glou-Glous 2018, a fresh appley, citrussy wine. There was also a delicious orange gewürztraminer from Franck, L’Étalon 2019. After 10 days of skin-contact it was only light orange, with apples, pears and a (pleasant) vinegary bitterness towards the end.
Foradori of Trentino has been covered many times on this blog, so feel free to search for it all. (Here is a recent post.) Elisabetta Foradori. Earlier I have met her sons, but this was the first time that I have met the beautiful Elisabetta Foradori herself. At a young age she did remarkable work in cultivating organically, later implementing biodynamic methods, and caring for the native varieties of her area, especially the near-extinct teroldego.
I didn’t taste many wines this time, only some whites, like the all-time favourite Nosiola. I also got the chance to be reminded how good was the Fuoripista Pinot Grigio, now in its 2016 vintage. Grown in sandy limestone, it’s fermented 8 months on skins and further aged in Spanish tinajas (amphoras) for 5 month. It has a reddish hue, is flowery with red berries and herbs, and has a concentrated yet smooth appearance in the mouth.
About Carussin of Piemonte I could say the reverse (than Foradori), earlier I have only met the mother Bruna Ferro Carussin. This time I got the opportunity to greet her son Luca Carussin Garberoglio. It’s a winery that I know well from the Norwegian market, and their economic barbera Asinoi has been a house wine in my house for a long time now. Here I tasted a few wines, among them Tra L’Altro 2020, an inspiring, flowery, dry moscato/cortese. Lia Ví 2017, is a superb wine, a single parcel barbera harvested later than others. It’s made from a 35-year-old vineyard planted by Luca’s grandfather, on the sandy soil just in front of the winery. It’s a concentrated wine that shows that barbera also can do with some structure. Elegant aroma, cool fruits (cherry), herbs and flowers, and a concentrate taste with fine tannins and lovely integrated acidity. And it’s not expensive.
Over to Argentina: Stella Crinita is the natural wine project of Joana Foster and Ernesto Catena in Vista Flores de Tunuyán, Valle de Uco. The Catena family is indeed an important one in the history of Argentine wine, having been responsible for bringing the malbec variety to America, as the story goes.
All fermentations are spontaneous, no SO2 added at any stage, nothing fined nor filtered. These are some keywords. The vineyard has been biodynamic certified since 2012. The soils are sandy and clayey and located at 1,100 meters above sea level.
I tasted interesting pét nats and reds from a.o. malbec, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and a varietal barbera. Petit verdot can be one-dimensional and dull. Their Petit Verdot 2020 was not. On the contrary this single-vineyard biodynamic wine was a linear, long and quite elegant wine from this somewhat difficult grape. Cherry red, plums and blackberries with spice (nutmeg), fine tannins, fresh fruit (cherry) and also a touch of wood and leathertones.
It was also here I had to travel to meet Martin Bech-Ravn, a Danish cider producer, home brewer and artist based in Ekeberg, a neighbourhood in Oslo, Norway. This is a wine blog visiting a wine fair. But when Bech-Ravn in Solhøi Cider talks, then the analogue to wine is striking. For example, he uses one variety of apples to give fullness, another to give acidity. He operates naturally, without additives. He makes Floating Sunshine, Flytende Solskinn2020, a dry, fresh, flowery, lightly spicy cider bottled unfiltered – in Oslo.
Grégory Pérez was educated in Bordeaux, and came to Bierzo, where he has his roots, in the early 2000’s.
His steep vineyards are situated by the river Cúa in Espanillo, ranging 600 to 850 meters above sea level. Pérez only grows local varietals that are fermented with native yeasts, and the work is strictly organic. He plows and aerates the clay and decomposed slate soils to enhance the health and biodiversity of the earth, he strongly limits the use of fertilizers, and he never uses herbicides.
The grapes for this wine is exclusively godello, that have grown on calcareous-clay in Valtuille and Villafranca vineyards, stony soils in Carracedo – and on slate in Espanillo (the latter around the bodega). The age is 25 years, trained in goblet. They were harvested manually, pressed with whole clusters and fermented in 4,000L foudres. Then followed 7 months in foudres on fine lees with weekly stirring. Very light fining and filtering.
MengobaGodello Viejo Sobre Lías 2020(Grégory Pérez)
Light yellow. Mature pear, yellow apple, hay and herbs on the nose. Good volume in the mouth, with mature fruit, a pleasant acidity and a salty touch in the finish.
The rain in Spain was falling on the plains that day. Castilla, otherwise known for its dry, almost prairie-like landscape, was even less inviting than usual. I met a man in a cowboy hat. His name was Goyo.
I will not embark on a wild west novel. I had indeed been invited to Gumiel del Mercado (province of Burgos) by Goyo García Viadero, one of the new guns of Ribera del Duero. Goyo makes expressive, lightly extracted, terroir-focused wines without additives and without oakiness, in a region rather famous for the opposite.
I had originally been aware of Goyo through his sister, who is winemaker at Bodegas Valduero in the same village. In fact Goyo gets his oak barrels from them. He explains:
-I don’t like oak, it’s not from the grape, not from the soil. So the barrels he uses are always at least 7-8 year old barrels, and from Valduero. He uses oak with ultrafine grain, -because I like a slow evolution.
He has a careful approach to winemaking. All grapes are destemmed by hand, pressed gently, and fermentations are slow in the cold, ancient cellar. For the wines that age in barrel, Goyo uses, as we have heard, more than 7-8 year old very finely grained barriques from Bordeaux. Sulfur and other additives are never used. The resulting wines have a striking sincerity and elegance that communicate a strong sense of place. All vineyards have 800 meters or more of altitude, quite impressive. The sun of the meseta and the high altitudes bring both phenolic concentration and bright acidity to the wines.
His bodega dates from the Roman times. Upon meeting there we tasted through a number of wines from tank and barrel, some of them from vineyards both here and in the Soria province. Among these was the white skin-contact García GeorgievaMalvasía 2021 from tank, a wine with a lovely fresh acidity. The wine was pressed in an old basket press, fermented in steel with 14 days skin contact and malolactic fermentation. Bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2. Another was the Finca los Quemados Clarete 2021 from all tinto fino (or: tinto del país), a clone of tempranillo, with its splendid cherry fruit. It’s made with short maceration (5-6 days), according to the most common style of the region. The Los Quemados vineyard has almost 60 year old vines planted on red sands with pebbles 960 meters above sea level.
Here we also tasted one of my personal favourites, a house-wine so to speak. Joven de Viñas Viejas 2021, which means young/unoaked wine from old vines, gets a richness and concentration from the age of the vines and the low yield, and it does not need any oak. It’s from a dry-farmed vineyard planted entirely with tinto fino at 880 meters altitude. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and fermented with wild yeasts in steel tank with 3 months of skin maceration, then raised in tank before being bottled without fining, filtration or any addition of SO2. Dark, lovely, concentrated fruit (blackberry, morello); juicy with fine tannins and and lovely acidity.
All the vineyards are old; the youngest 40 years, the oldest more than 100. Goyo never uses filtration, almost no additives (only sulphur and copper in the vineyards).
-Most important is the quantity of tartaric acid in the grape. It should be 7 or 8 grams tartaric acid per litre, says Goyo. All grapes are destemmed. The maceration lasts for 10-15 days at 6 degrees, and fermentation takes place at no more than 22 degrees. -We only play with temperature and batonnage, says Goyo about possible variables.
His adventure began in 2003 with three parcels of old vines, that he says the French public call “the three musketeers”, named Finca Valdeolmos in Villabuena de Gumiel (90% tinto fino, 10% of the white albillo), Finca el Peruco in Olmedillo de Roa (85% tinto fino, 15% albillo), and Finca Viñas de Arcilla in Anguix (100% tinto fino), that are still the basis of his portfolio. From these he produces his three single vineyard wines and his annual Reserva Especial, all made the same way, with two to three years in barrel. -All this is a nod to the area’s past, before it became too commercial, he says. Valdeolmos, nicknamed “the elegant” has limestone. Finca el Peruco, “the fine”, has white sand and is one of the highest in Ribera, with over 900 meters of elevation. While Finca Viña de Arcilla, “the serious”, has clay, as the name implies.
We tasted the 2017 of the three wines. Finco Valdeolmos 2017 has dark fruits (blackberry), touch of licorice; gentle tannins and some minerality. Finca el Peruco 2017 holds back, is even more mineral: evident tannins, salty (from the white sand). Finca Viña de Arcilla 2017 is more balsamic (pine, encina), evident tannin, but also more fruit. Reserva Especial is made from Goyo’s favourite each year. This wine first ages in the same fashion as the three. Then it’s blended and gets another one or two years before release. We tasted the 2015, a blend of the three. This showed a slight mousiness, so down in the storing cellar we felt like trying the 2016 also. This one was in good condition, in that vintage made only from Valdeolmos. Down in the storing cellar we also tasted the 2018 vintage of all the three muscateers.
Goyo also makes wine in Cantabria, the region where his mother comes from. He has 2 hectares of mencía and palomino grapes on slate in the mountainous Liébana Valley. Here he makes a red wine and skin-contact white wine. These are called Beâtum from the 2019 vintage on (formerly Cobero).
Beâtum Tinto is made from 80% mencía and the rest palomino fino. The latter is the same as the sherry grape. This vineyard blend is often found in the vineyards of northern Spain. The vines here are more than 80 years old and are planted on broken slate soils. The red and white grapes are co-fermented with indigenous yeasts, then raised one year in French oak barrels, without any sulfur additions. The red is typically made of 80% mencía and the rest palomino fino. The latter is the same as the sherry grape. We tasted the 2019: Very dark; super expressive, floral (violets), a touch licorice; lovely mouthfeel, luscious and [a bit spritzy]. Beâtum Blanco is made from bush vines of palomino grown on brown slate soils at 500-600 meters elevation around the town of Potes in the Valle de Liébana, Picos de Europa. It’s fermented on the skins in stainless steel tanks without added yeast, and bottled without sulfur additions. The 2020 smelled of mature apples and orange peel; it was quite full in the mouth, some tannin.
On the way out: One of the wines was Tempranillo a Mano 2019, where he takes the best grapes from every bunch, so it takes 3 parcels to fill a big barrel. The wine was big and bold, darke with some coffee. Finca de Quemado Clarete 2019, with one year in barrel, was lovely scented and perfumed. Graciano a Mano 2019 was dark and very fruity, light-bodied but long. Its origin is the Finca Guijarrales (formerly Finca Cascorrales), a vineyard planted entirely with graciano.