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Category: Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week

Skyscraper of Nieva York

This is the tallest skyscraper of Nieva York in the ResPublic of Verdejo. In fact this one has a twin tower, because the white version has already been there for some years.

I have written about Ismael Gozalo and his wines several times, so I will not repeat the whole story. But in short, he comes from a family of vintners in the small settlement of Nieva (Segovia province), one of the highest in altitude in the Rueda area. So he has taken the verdejo variety to new heights, but he also makes wine from red varieties such as such as mencía from Bierzo, garnacha from Gredos, and rufete from Sierra de Salamanca. (You can read here about some of the reds, and here about some whites).

This pét-nat is made from 90% tempranillo planted in the 1990’s on slate, and 10% verdejo, from the more than a century old ungrafted vines on sand and clay. It’s an early harvest wine, fermented at a cool temperature to keep the turbidity down. The alcoholic fermentation is finished inside the bottle. After a few months in the bottle the lees are removed, and the bottle is filled up with dry wine from the same lot. No sulphur added.

Nieva York Pét-Nat Rosé 2018 (Ismael Gozalo)

Peach coloured, bubbly. Also peach on the nose, together with white flowers and wild strawberry. Luscious fruit, but also with a nice acidity, some texture (feels like citrus peel, such as clementine) concentration and length. Citing the back label: Good bubbles = good moments!!!

Price: Medium

Food: Excellent on its own, try with all kinds of salads, tapas from “ensaladilla rusa” to charcuterie, pizza, light meat…

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Wine of the Week

Brave Grapeheart

Marc Pesnot is located in the Muscadet part of the Loire valley. I didn’t know much about him, but two wines in a private wine club tasting made me look him up. There was the Miss Terre 2018, an impressive, concentrated wine. Here I chose the lighter one, Cœur de Raisin, meaning grape-heart, that I took home and watched the development over two days.

Marc Pesnot says that at first he was not particularly fond of the wines of the region, but realized it didn’t have so much to do with the grape variety as the methods, the industrialized way they were normally treated. The main objective of this wine is to use the melon de bourgogne grapes, bottle it early to produce a light, low alcohol wine, a so-called “primeur wine”. But ok, this is maybe true compared his other wines, but it has plenty of character still.

Pesnot now has 22 hectares of fifty year-old melon de bourgogne grapes in schistous soil. This gives a perfume and minerality very rare for Muscadet. He doesn’t recognize it as a particularly fruity grape, but seeks for a can be very complex treated the right way. To achieve this he starts with old grapes, treats them in a natural, artisan way, uses light pressing. He allows malo-lactic fermentation in all his wines.

Cœur de Raisin 2019 (Marc Pesnot)

Golden colour. Mature apples, flowers, clementine and apricot on the nose. Textured, balances between lightness and a glylceric fatness, with good acidity and a lovely mineral touch.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Back to the border

There is no end to all of the fascinating orange wines on both sides of the Italian-Slovenian border. But Sandi Škerk isn’t “just another”, he is one of the modern torchbearers for the style. Located in Carso, with a cellar in carso rock, he grows vitovska, malvazija, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. This wine is a blend of all four varieties in equal parts, each contributing their specific characteristic, such as the aroma of sauvignon and the blushing colour of pinot grigio.

The must remained in contact with the skins for two week, and it was aged in big, old barrels – and bottled unfiltered.

Ograde 2017 (Az. Agr. Škerk)

Light pink-orange colour. Very aromatic, with flowers (roses), citrus, (dried) apricot, white pepper. Quite full and smooth, but also with a lovely natural integrated acidity, persistent. A stunning, up-lifting orange wine with a remarkable personality.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

More from the Puglia project

I wrote about an orange wine of Valentina Passalacqua’s last autumn. In short she makes natural wines from the family farm inside the Gargano national park. The grapes are biodynamically farmed, the fermentations are spontaneous, and there is no fining, filtering or sulphur addition.

Ca signifies that the vines are grown in some isolated Kimmeridgian calcareous soil. 20 is the atomic number, and the atomic weight is 40.08. Most of it has a Greek, or Hellenistic, inspiration, not least the grapes. This one is a varietal nero di troia.

Read more about the project and especially the orange falanghina here.

20 Ca 40.08 Hellen Rosso 2019 (V. Passalacqua)

Dark cherry. Mature fruits, mulberry and plums, with a certain acidic edge. Luscious, grapey, some texture, light bitterness towards the end, finishes dry.

Price: Medium

Food: Salads, bacalao, other white fish, light meat…

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Wine of the Week

Me o my, it’s May and Maias

I must admit that Quinta dos Roques and Quinta das Maias of Dão have been neglected during the latest years, from my side. They haven’t been in the news for a while, but now it seems that something is happening again. They are both property of Luis Lourenço and his family, and he is also winemaker.

Maias is noted for the grape variety of jaen, because it’s higher and cooler than Roques, and more easily gives the grape the acidity and focus that it needs. The soil here is granite and sand, and the estate is now certified organic.

The name is derived from flor de maio, mayflower.

It’s only 40% of jaen in this wine, and in good Dão tradition it’s accompanied by touriga nacional (30%), alfrocheiro preto (20%) and tinta roriz (10%). It’s made in steel, with spontaneous fermentation.

Maias Tinto 2017 (Quinta das Maias)

Cherry red. Mature berries, plums, some herbs, a bit anis. Fruity, juicy in the mouth, some tannins.

Price: Low

Food: Bacalhau, chicken salad, everything on the grill, its freshness also invites to be served chilled on a summer day

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Wine of the Week

Garg’n’go!

A couple of days before going into a a quarantine a friend and I visited London’s Flor restaurant at the Borough Market, where the homemade bread looks burnt, but is simply delicious. They have a crowded bar at street level and a small restaurant upstairs. The name of the place is inspired by the veil of yeast (called “flor”, flower in Spanish). We chose a white wine from Sanlúcar in the sherry country, the UBE Miraflores from Bodega Cota 45, and also the Almate 2018, a magnificent and fruity tempranillo from Alfredo Maestro (Castilla y León).

Here we shall talk about a wonderful pét nat from a legendary and important producer in Gambellara, Veneto, Italy, Angiolino Maule, or La Biancara, as the company is called. The wine is unpretentious, simple maybe, but for me it is serious joy. This year it was made from the garganega grape alone, and it’s just wonderful. The year before saw problems with re-fermentation, so it had almost no bubbles, and Maule also chose to add some of the durella grape to heighten the acidity. It’s vinified in stainless steel, and the second fermentation is bottle, started with addition of dried grape must. 

The soil of Gambellara is volcanic, with a little limestone. Maule has approximately 12 hectares own vineyards on south facing slopes in these hills, about 150m to 250m above sea level. They are managed in a strictly organically way. They use naturally produced plant compost and control fungal diseases with herbal teas and other natural products. .

In the cellar they have a non-interventionist approach, though maybe not as strict as some ten years ago.

Read more from a visit to La Biancara during the summer of 2018 here.

Garg’n’go 2018 (Angiolino Maule – La Biancara)

Yellow, slightly cloudy, medium bubbles. Fresh aromas of white fruit, green apples and apricot. The 5 grams of suger is nicely balanced by the vibrant acidity, and it also has a mineral side.

Price: Low

Food: At Biancara we had it with cheese and charcuterie, but it is an excellent apéritif, and goes with a wide choice of fish, shellfish and vegetables

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Wine of the Week

Call of the wild

Azul y Garanza is a producer that is located near the protected desert area Bardenas Reales in Navarra, and up towards the Pyrenees. Dani Sánchez Nogue and María and Fernando Barrena make wonderful, inspiring wines from this extreme landscape.

They make a fruity great-value red wine called Fiesta, but this time we deal with their orange wine from the garnacha blanca grape. The soil is calcareous clay with a thin layer top-soil at 550 meters of altitude. Average age of the grapes is 30 years.

It’s harvested by hand, destemmed, spontaneously fermented in cement for 10 days, 5 of them with skin-contact. Later it’s matured in amphora for 4 months.

Naturaleza Salvaje 2019 (Azul y Garanza)

Golden colour. Lovely scent of flowers and citrus, with hints of peach and herbs. Fresh, dry, and quite smooth textured.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Kisi qvevri from Kakheti

This is an orange wine made from the kisi variety in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region. To be more precise, Gurashvili’s vineyards are located in Tibaani, a village in the Sighnaghi district.

Kisi is believed to be a hybrid of the mtsvane and rkatsiteli grapes, both among the most common in Georgia. The picking times are normally medium, and as still white wine it has not all that character. But give it time on skins, and you will typically get pear, flowers, often a hint of tobacco, and nuts too.

The greapes were hand-harvested, aged in large clay qvevris placed underground. Once pressed the grapes go into the qvevri with stalks, seeds and skins. The fermentation continues for two weeks with bâtonnage three times daily. Unfiltered.

Kisi Qvevri 2017? (Gurashvili)

Pale amber colour. Aroma of apricot, white flowers, orange peel, a bit honeyed, and traces of walnuts. Glyseric and smooth in the mouth, yet with good concentration.

Price: Medium

Food: Roasted meat, light meat,

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Wine of the Week

Keep on rockin’

Continueing the rock series (a very thin thread really) from early February, Mother Rock is a producer that I have enjoyed so much over the last few years that I just had to leave you a tip of advice here. They are in a way in the shadow of leading lights and neighbours Testalonga and Intellego of Swartland, South Africa, and as such bargains. But there are many insiders who think you should take the opportunity to buy their wines now, because for natural wines their prices are ridiculously low.

Winemaker is Johan Meyer, a young Brit who who shares the values and techniques of the aforementioned producers. He was educated in Stellenbosch, but his visits to Roussillon and Tom Lubbe of Matassa took him in a whole new direction. Mother Rock Wines was established in 2014. The whole range is fabulous, and even their “entry-level” wines (if this is an adecuate expression here) are superb and have a sense of not only terroir, but a raw natural force, if this sounds meaningful.

Johan and the team have a really good hand on the chenin blanc grape, and I can also strongly recommend their “semi-orange” Force Celeste. This week’s pick is their “basic” White in 2018 version, that is made from chenin blanc 61% and lesser quantities of viognier, grenache blanc, sémillon and hárslevelu. The latter is omitted in the 2019 vintage, also in the market now. Each grape is grown in different types of soil throughout this immensly fascinating region that is Swartland.

Half of the grapes are fermented quite cold in steel, while the other part ferments in old barrels. Some, like hárslevelu, sémillon and grenache, are fermented with whole bunches with a four weeks of skin-contact before pressing. The wine stays on the lees nearly a year before bottling – unfiltered, naturally

  Mother Rock White 2018 (Mother Rock Wines)

Yellow, cloudy. Aroma dominated by citrus (lemon, lime), yeast, candle wax and a touch of honey. Appley, cidery in the mouth, lightly structured both in terms of tannins and acidity, juicy, a touch of bitterness in the finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Salmon/trout, grilled white fish and shell-fish, some Asian dishes, lighter meat…

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Wine of the Week

Gimme gimme gamay

After having heard about a “band” of winemakers calling themselves “punks” last week, let’s move on to the tale about former punk bassist Taras Ochota, who together with his partner Amber decided to form a winery in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. They got the idea for a holistic project on a surf trip to Mexico, they say, after having seen some of the most amazing wine and surf regions there are.

Before this happened he worked as a flying winemaker, or a consultant, for a number of European producers, mainly in southern Italy, but also as an expert in the field for a Swedish importer. Amber also worked both in Italy and for a winery in Skåne, southern Sweden at a time.

After a rather disappointing tasting of Australian wines I went and bought some myself, and found a beautiful line of wines from Adelaide Hills

This is an artisan project, with great attention to detail. The biodynamic approach they came across in the south of France. And they strongly believe that the most energetic and vital wines come from “organically farmed vineyards planted to earth that is alive, lo-fi technique and picking decisions made purely on natural acidity”. Texture is also an important focus, manipulating mouth-feel with limited or extended time on skins including batonnage. They experiment with low sulphur levels to find the perfect level to suit each cuvee.

The Price of Silence is a varietal gamay made with whole cluster fermentation, unfiltered.

The Price of Silence 2019 (Ochota Barrels)
Light red, some blue towards rim. Fresh aroma of cherries, plums and some pepper. Full and juicy in the mouth, but also with some tannin and a natural acidity.

Price: Medium

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