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Category: Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week

Alsace Grand Cru from Frick

Domaine Frick is an Alsace favourite, for their honest work, sustainable practises and the delicious fruit and the vineyard expression in their wines.

Here is a recent post where you can read a little about the background

This particular wine comes from a vineyard in Pfaffenheim on fossil ground with limestone and some red clay and gravel. It was planted in the 1970’s and 80’s. The grapes were harvested and selected by hand, spontaneously fermented and was subject to a week of skin-maceration. It was matured in big, old vats of French oak. No filtering nor fining. Biodynamic certified by Demeter, an organization that Frick in fact has done a lot to develop.

Vorbourg Alsace Grand Cru 2016 – pinot gris macération sans soufre ajouté (Dom. Pierre Frick)

Amber with red tones. Aromas of raspberry, yellow apples, fennel. Full on the palate, a light tannic grip, integrated acidity, and a salty finish. 15% alcohol is no problem. Needs air, and “grows” in the glass.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, such as poultry and pig, white and grilled fish, red fish, shellfish (stronger types such as crab), salads, fresh and mature cheeses. Very versatile, in other words

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Wine of the Week

Argentinian Joker

Just when you needed it you slided a joker down the sleeve. A real surprise it was, from Argentina’s huge wine region Mendoza.

Gerardo Michelini and his wife Andrea Muffato started this venture in the village Gualtallary (in the Uco valley) in 2012, after having worked for a long time in wine. Everything is organically farmed. In general they use whole cluster maceration with long skin-contact. A spontaneous fermentation is carried out in cement eggs, steel or large oak vats. Additions are kept at a minimum.

This is a blend of 50% malbec and 50% pinot noir from a young vineyard (planted in 2006) situated at 1.400 meters altitude in calcareous, stony soils. It’s made in steel, and saw some carbonic maceration. Unfined and unfiltered.

Ji Ji Ji Malbec CO2 Pinot Noir 2017 (Gen del Alma)

Dark cherry, violet hue. Fruity, aromas of dark berries (blackberry, blueberry), stony minerality and a hint of pepper. Fresh, juicy and carbonic with a touch of tannin. The alcohol is low at 11.5%.

Price: Low

Food: Meat (poultry, veal, pig), white fish, salads, fresh and hard cheeses

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Wine of the Week

If natural wines can age…: Ribera del Duero edition

We have seen several natural wines now that really can age. (Here is a good one from Granada, and here an even older wine from Dão, Portugal.)

Let me tell you about one from Ribera del Duero, Castilla y León (Spain). Goyo García Viadero, the man behind it, comes from a respected family in wine. I got in touch with him through Bodegas Valduero of Gumiel del Mercado, where his sister Yolanda is winemaker.

Goyo started to produce his own naturally made wines in 2003. He has three small plots near Roa, with different soil types and at various altitudes. And they are the “toda la vida” kind of vineyards, where white varieties grow together with reds. The idea is to express the characteristics of the vineyard, rather than each grape variety.

(Credit: G. García)

All wines are de-stemmed, fermented exclusively with wild yeast, and nothing is added during elevage, neither any SO2.  The wines are raised in old French barrels in a very old underground cellar in Gumiel.

The Viñas de Arcilla is Goyo’s only mono-varietal cuvée, 100% tinto fino (tempranillo).  It comes from a very old vineyard, clay-dominated (as the name suggests) with some lime-stone, at more than 800 meters altitude. It’s produced with a similar vinification and elevage as outlined above.


Finca Viñas de Arcilla 2010
(Goyo García Viadero/ Explotaciones Valduero)

Deep cherry red, signs of development. Cherry, mature fruits, a bit earthy and peaty. Still some fine-grained tannins, lovely acidity and quite persistent. Not heavy at all, and with none of the oakiness often associated with this wine region.

At a younger stage it is perhaps the most powerful of his wines, with a solid structure, but it’s always juicy and surprisingly open too. Now I would say it’s near its peak.

Price: Medium

Food: The suckling pigs or lambs of the region, any kind of roasts and red meat, and don’t forget the wild mushrooms

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Wine of the Week

Majas’ Cortado

Domaine de Majas is run by Alain and Agnes Carrère. The 30 hectare domain is located in the Roussillon by the village Caudiès de Fenouillèdes. Tom Lubbe from nearby Domaine Matassa helped to change into organic cultivation. The vineyards are at 350-400 meters’ height in slopes with good exposure and drenage. We see around 120 year old vines of carignan, grenache noir and macabeu, and younger (30-35 years) of syrah, cabernet franc, merlot, rolle and chardonnay. The climate is affected by the nearness of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean sea.

The wines are fermented with natural yeasts in old cement tanks, some steel and a small percentage old, used wood.

Here we experience harsh winters and warm, sunny summers. The tough northwestern wind from the Pyrenees and the wet Mediterranean breeze often follow each other.

Even if the domain lies within the AOC Côtes du Roussillon they often choose to classify their wines as Vin de Pays de Côtes Catalanes, to honour what they consider te be a unique area.

The soil is mainly chalky clay and schist.

The grapes for this wine are grenache 50%, grenache gris 25%, and grenache blanc 25%. They were hand-harvested, naturally fermented in cement and aged there for 6 months.

Cortado 2017 (Dom. de Majas)

Light ruby. Aroma of white flowers, plums, peach and raspberry. In the mouth it’s intense, fruity with round tannins.

Price: Low

Food: Light meat, white fish, salads

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Wine of the Week

Dense, dark Minervois

Chateau Maris started out in 1997, with an aim to make good wines working in harmony with nature. They soon discovered that biodynamics was the best for their vineyards.

It’s now a 32 hectares estate comprised of small vineyards on the hillside above the village of La Liviniere of Minervois, Languedoc.

This wine is a varietal syrah made with no added sulphites. Maceration went for one month with gentle pumping
over and ‘pigeage’ (punching down).

Savoir Vieillir 2017 (Ch. Maris)

Dense, dark red, almost opaque. Fruit-driven, with young berries (blueberry, blackberry), hints of spices. Luscious, juicy mouthfeel, a touch of young tannin, cool fruit, but also a touch of warm alcohol (14,5%).

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Wine of the Week

Le Cinsault at Mas Onésime

Here is another varietal cinsault. This variety can be said to be in fashion today. The reason is probably that many vintners have seen its virtues as much more than a grape for blending. Today it’s used many places, in particular have we seen many interesting wines from South Africa. Here is one from southern France, where we used to meet it most often in the past.

(Credit: Mas Onésime)

Mas Onésime is located in La Liquière, one of the tiny villages in is hillside of the Faugères appellation. The domaine consists of 12 hectares within the village.

Vigneron Olivier Villanueva talks about the many colours of the schists in Faugères, “from ochre and grey to orange with deep blue veins”. This sub-oil is among the oldest, and consists of gravelly schists that date, in his own words “back to the beginning of time”.

Most of the vines at the Mas are fifty years old, in steep vineyards with breathtaking views.

The grapes are harvested by hand, sorted, de-stemmed and brought to the cellar immediately after being picked. The grapes are placed in vats, without pumping and using only a natural gravity. Olivier strives to make authentic wines, with techniques as natural as possible.

This wine is only cinsault, hand harvested, sorted and fully destemmed. The yield was 25 hl/ha. It had 14 days of maceration in stainless steel tank, and also ageing in a tank for 14 days.

 

Le Cinsault 2016 (Mas Onésime)

Ruby red. Aroma of red berries (raspberry, plums), thyme and a touch of white pepper, juicy, luscious, supple in the mouth, with only a slight tannin and a pleasant natural acidity.

Price: Medium/low

Food: Light meat, try also lamb with provençal herbs, ratatouille, salads, grilled fish

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Wine of the Week

Phaunus Palhete of Minho

We have been familiar with Vasco Croft’s Aphros Wine labels for a long time now. Lately he has also been presenting the Phaunus, that ranges from a pét nat to amphora aged still wines.

Vasco went biodynamic from the beginning, in his farm in Ponte de Lima, Minho (Portugal). Here he has 18 hectares, that are fertilized with own compost. Needless to say, all wines are made with natural yeast.

Vasco Croft at Simplesmente

At this year’s Simplesmente… Vinhos (see one of several posts from the fair here), Porto, we could taste all his wines, most of them in the 2016 vintage. They spanned from the light, citric, uplifting Aphros Loureiro via Daphne, a fuller wine from granite soil, 12 hours skin-contact, fermented in concrete eggs.

The old tradition of palhete involves fermenting white and red grapes together, and the result is a dark rosé or a light red coloured wine. Phaunus Palhete 2016 is a blend of 80% loureiro and 20% vinhão (red). The grapes were destemmed, pressed and fermented on skins in beeswax-lined amphorae, and aged on lees for three months.

Phaunus Palhete 2016 (Aphros Wine)

A pale red colour that hints of blood orange, somewhat cloudy. Aromas of stone fruits (cherries, litchis), herbs, and flowers. It comes with a slight tannin texture, a wonderful acidity, and a touch of saltiness.

Price:
Medium

Food:
White and grilled fish, shellfish, sushi, salads

 

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Wine of the Week

Natural Shiraz from McLaren Vale

The original battle of Bosworth was fought on Bosworth Fields, Leicestershire, England in 1485. Joch Bosworth explains that there is also a modern day version, namely his own battle for organic certification, which he acquired in 1995. The winery is found in South Australia’s McLaren Vale, only 7 km west of the sea and around 130 metres above sea level.

This particular wine was made from 100% shiraz, harvested by hand. It was fermented in open tanks, turned around three times a day during fermentation, then pressed and brought to steel tanks. It has seen no oak, and was bottled soon after malolactic fermentation, with no sulphur added.

Puritan Shiraz (no added preservatives) 2016 (Battle of Bosworth)

Dark cherry with blue hue. Mature red and dark berries, plums, balsamic notes, meat. Young, fresh, with a slightly carbonic, yet juicy mouthfeel.

Price: Low

Food: Meat, like pepper steak or casseroles, salads…

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Articles and Wine of the Week

Next stop: Soria

Lately I have been traveling a lot in northern Spain, and many times I have been visiting, or simply crossing Ribera del Duero. I have also been passing the city and province of Soria, without stopping. Now this has come to an end: Just like I did some ten years ago it was time to explore this often-forgotten but interesting high-altitude part of the DO Ribera del Duero.

There is Bodegas Gormaz, the former cooperative of San Estéban de Gormaz, the area’s biggest village. They are the biggest company, owner of many old pre-phylloxera vines, controls over 1300 acres of vines and makes sound and solid wines.

There is Tierras de Guijarral, a private project that makes ambitious wines under the Rudeles label in Peñalba de San Esteban, on the way to Soria capital. Sergio Rupérez, one of the four owners, is the Ru- of Rudeles. He is responsible winemaker. Today there is no fertilizing, and he also tells that he will convert to only organic cultivation and only autoctonous yeasts in a not too distant future.

And there are others too. Our third article in this series will highlight a very promising producer.

Jaime Suárez at Atauta

However, few will deny that Dominio de Atauta is the leading producer at the moment. I will dedicate the next article to them, so I will not give too much about the background here.

When I made a stop (parada in Spanish) to fill up the tank and found the Parada de Atauta in the shelves of the gas station, then I understood that there must be a certain culture here. This is the entry-level wine from the producer’s classical line.

It’s a serious wine from min. 80 year old tempranillo vines, from in and around the Atauta valley. We are almost a thousand meters above sea level, and the soil is sandy and stony, typical of the area. The wine stayed a year in French oak.

Parada de Atauta 2014 (Dominio de Atauta)

Dark purple colour. Smell of dark and red berries (blueberry, blackberry), violets, pepper and some coffee. The palate is also dominated by berries, with a cool freshness, velvety tannins, and a stony minerality.

Price: Low

Food: Red and light meat, rice dishes, pasta, roast vegetables…

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Wine of the Week

Frick’s Gewürztraminer Macération

Jean-Pierre and Chantal Frick cultivate 12 hectares of vineyards in and around Pfaffenheim, Alsace. Since 1970 the domaine has been organically cultivated, and certified biodynamic since 1981. In fact Jean-Pierre has since long been a guiding light for others who want a sustainable approach to vinegrowing.

Since the beginning of the 80’s they have abandoned the use of additions, clarification and filtration, except for a small amount of sulphur before bottling for wines with residual sugar.

The Steinert vineyard was planted in the 1970’s on limestone, fossil ground and gravel. The fermentation was spontaneous, and the maceration lasted for around one week. Then the wine was aged in big vats of French oak.

Steinert Grand Cru Gewürztraminer Macération 2016 (Dom. Pierre Frick)

Light golden colour. Aromatic, hints of fennel, spices, roses and some tropics like mango and litchis. Quite fat in the mouth, intense, full-flavoured, bone dry, long, and just enough power and acidity to keep the 15% alcohol in check.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, seafood

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