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Month: June 2024

Wine of the Week

Classy Californian at Tempo

This wine concluded a jazz club meeting with tasting at my local wine bar, called Tempo, after the famous bicycles that were once produced in the building.

Scar of the Sea is ru by Mikey and Gina Giugni in San Luis Obispo, California. They work with farmers who practise low-intervention in an attempt to make the viticulture as sustainable as possible. As they say, they want their wines “to tell a story of where they come from, the people who farm them, and reflect each vintage under the California sun.”

You have by now understood that they work organic, and ferment with native yeast. The wines see only a minimum of sulphur additions, and they are not fined or filtrated.

The Bassi Vineyard Pinot Noir is produced from around 25 year old vines on the hillsides of Avila Valley by the coast. It’s in transition to biodynamic certification. It was The fruit was fermented with 70% whole-cluster. The wine was pressed once dry in a wooden basket press then aged for 10 months in old French oak.

Bassi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2022 (Scar of the Sea)

Ruby red. Fruity scent, aroma of raspberry and strawberry, white flowers and herbs. Fine tannins, good body and concentration, fresh acidity. A Californian with class.

Price: High

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Wine of the Week

Our Mann at Elliott’s

Back in London and a busy Borough Market at lunchtime. Elliott’s was opened in 2011 by Brett Redman, from Australia, with the aim of serving only produce sold at the market. It has long been one of my favourites, and you can read a couple of posts here and here.

Andi Mann is based in Eckelsheim, Rheinhessen. He makes lively, energetic wines, organic with some biodynamic methods. The soil is limestone (to which the name Calx alludes), and the age of the vines is around 40 years.

This wine is based on grauburgunder, whose official name is pinot gris. Many of you will know that this variety is not completely “white”. It has red spots, so as a skin-contact wine it will take on a red or reddish colour, depending on the length of contact. (Read about another wine of that kind here.)

Half of the grapes were directly pressed, the other half had fermentation on skins for 2 weeks. The juice was then fermented and stored in large German oak barrels for 1 year. It was bottled without filtration or addition of sulphur.

Calx Grauburgunder 2022 (Andi Mann)

Beautiful blushing colour. Aroma of citrus peel, flowers and ripe peach. Delicate tannins, quite full and juicy, with a fresh acidity. Dangerously quaffable.

Price: Medium

Food: We had it with lightly spiced chicken and beef carpaggio, but it should go with a variety of fish and light meat.

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Wine of the Week

Fresh north Lisboa tinta roriz

This is a wine from a winery that I’ve met several times at the Simplesmente Vinho fair in Porto. Quinta do Olival da Murta is located in the Cadaval area of the Lisboa region, near the mountain range Serra de Montejunto. Joana Vivas and her family make honest low-intervention wines here, only 15 kilometers from the Atlantic ocean, thus giving the wines a fresh, saline character.

José Vivas (photographed at Simplesmente Vinho 2021)

The soils are clay and limestone, and the vines are quite young, around 20 years. The gapes were harvested manually. The bunches were totally de-stemmed without crushing the grapes. Semi-carbonic fermentation was carried out in 500-liter French oak barrels, with indigenous yeasts, for one and a half days. The grapes were gently pressed in a vertical hydraulic press in a wooden basket. The fermentation process ended in barrels. Then it was aged 10 months in used 500 liter French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.

Serra Oca Tinta Roriz 2022 (Quinta do Olival da Murta)

Ruby red. Aromas of fresh fruits (cherry, strawberry), with a layer of wild berries also. Fine tannins, fresh acidity and a saline finish.

Price: Medium-low

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Wine of the Week

Claro’s Colar

I have met Vítor Claro several times, and I’ve had the pleasure to taste his wines at the Simplesmente Vinho fair in Portugal. Vítor is a former chef, and has worked at a well-known restaurant owned by Dirk Niepoort. Now he makes wine together with his partner Rita Ferreira in Portalegre, Alentejo – from vineyards near the winery and in Colares.

They work naturally and so-called low-intervention. The wines are not clarified nor filtered, and sulphite is typically low (around 40mg total). The varieties are local, and the style is fresh, fruit-driven and elegant, with less alcohol than you might expect.

Colar is produced with grapes sourced in a tiny plot by the Adraga beach in the Colares wine region – in limestone soil with clay. Colar means necklace, but the word also hints to where the wine is from. It is made mainly with the red castelão and the white malvasia varieties, and as Vítor puts it, “seasoned” with the red caladoc. After a short maceration, it’s fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 6 months in concrete.

Dominó Colar 2021 (Rita Ferreira & Vítor Claro)

Ruby red. Aromas of red fruits (raspberry, strawberry), backed by flowers and herbs. It has technically a low acidity, but appears fresh and fruity. The weight is light, the tannins soft, and it has a nice salty finish.

Price: Medium

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