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Good Wines on the Fork: Impressions from Stavanger Vinfest

I have recently reported from another wine fair in Stavanger, Norway. You can read the first of three articles from that one here. While the former is a one-day arrangement arranged by a wine organization (or rather: a big wine club), this one is different. Behind this are a number of local restaurants, many of the best in town (among them Michelin star restaurant Renaa, a “newcomer” in the festival’s 19 year old history). Stavanger Vinfest is a nearly full-week experience, with tastings, winemaker’s dinners, a wine “train” (7 “stations”, you have to walk between them, and you are likely to meet a wine producer, get a bite and a sip at each place, and there is a quiz involved too).

On Saturday there is an arrangement that can be said to sum up the week in a tasting where the importers and some of the producers participate. It’s held at one of the participating restaurants, called Gaffel & Karaffel (meaning fork and decanter, although the wordplay is obviously lost in translation). Here are some impressions from my short visit.

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Gaffel & Karaffel, restaurant and culture center in the heart of Stavanger

Elisabetta Foradori is a fabulous producer in Trentino Alto Adige, Italy at the foot of the Dolomites. They are strieving to practise a sustainable agriculture, according to biodynamic principles, with the biodiversity in mind. They use primarily local grape varieties, like teroldego, manzoni bianco and nosiola. Theo, one of Elisabetta’s sons, was there. He served several wines, like the Fontanasanta Nosiola 2014, a vintage with quite a lot of rain that gave high acidity: light colour, flowers and yellow apples in aroma, and a nice touch of tannins in the finish. Next the Fuoripista Pinot Grigio from 2013, a richer year with more sun: light rosé colour, raspberry and wet clay, full with a smooth texture, some alcohol in the finish.

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Theo Foradori pouring and explaining

Manzoni Bianco 2015, shipped a couple of weeks ago, thus not quite ready. The wine is always fruity, with apples, flowers and minerals though, and this cementfermented wine will settle into a seemless, lovely wine. The Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2014 is the closest we come to an “entry level” red: pure teroldego, raised in steel and old oak. Lovely, luscious drinking, fresh fruit, red berries dominating. Sgarzon 2015 is another teroldego; dark, meaty, red berries, herbs and some animal over wet forest tones. A hint of volatile acidity in aftertaste does not bother me, as it adds to the freshness, in my opinion.

From the same importer’s table I did a quick selection. La Marca di San Michele Passo Lento 2015 comes from Jesi, Marche (just off the Italian Adriatic coast). Not absolutely normal is ageing the verdicchio grape in big oak vats. Here it results in a light coloured wine, and with aromas of apple, lime and peach over some butter and nuts, and with a good length.

Jürgen Leiner is an interesting producer from Pfalz, Germany. His Handwerk Riesling Trocken 2015 showed a light straw colour, apple and lime, a good concentration and a very appealing acidity and good length.

The distance was then short over to producer Georg Breuer of Rüdesheim, Rheingau. The house was represented by Theresa Breuer, who had been in town for a variety of activities during the whole week, and together with her I made a selection of nearly ten wines from their table. The GB Gris 2015, obviously from pinot gris (or Grauburgunder as it is called here), was light and floral, with apple, citrus, a touch of honey, and a good acidity. GB Sauvage 2014: Slender, steely, lightly barrel-raised wine with flowers, apple, citrus and herbs in the aroma, slightly bitter finish. For me the best of the barrel-aged whites on show.

Berg Schlossberg 2014: Here is a prime example of Breuer’s greatness. A concentrated, mineral, complex wine in perfect balance today, and is capable of ageing as well. The dominating aromas are yellow apples, flowers and a touch of honey.

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Theresa Breuer

GB Rosé 2015 from Spätburgunder (pinot noir): Very light colour, raspberries, rounded acidity. A charming wine for immediate consumption. Its counterpart Rouge 2013, also from spätburgunder was light red, somewhat developed, with mature berries, a little spicy and smoky, a rounder taste, luscious and… yes, quaffable.

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Børge of La Mano Verde

Local lad Børge Kolstad is one of the many Norwegians with a passion for Italy and a hobby project in wine. La Mano Verde works organically, as the name suggests, and they are experimenting with amphora ageing too. From the two wines I would say that the house style is ripe barbera fruit. I like the amphora version better than the French oak wine, even if that one too was held over the water by an uplifting acidity. La Mano Verde Terra Rosso 2015 had dark, mature and slightly sweet fruit, with black cherries and plums, and a smooth texture and slightly sweet, warm aftertaste.

Knut-Espen Misje of Terroir Wines was there with a bunch of interesting wines. I tasted only a few this time, as I know quite well his careful selection. As for the two first wines, I am not sure “how organic” they are, but they are worth mentioning. The Ridgeview Bloomsbury 2014 (classic Champagne blend), shows that the English make good sparkling wines nowadays. Almost 2 years on lees, still the fruit is dominating, with green apples, flowers, a touch of the tropics, and a rounded aftertaste at around 8 grams sugar. Prager Achleiten Smaragd 2015 from Wachau: A very classy, elegant wine, complex with citrusy and tropical notes, and a fresh acidity contributing to a long finish.

The Bétoulin 2015 (Domaine de Pajot) is a quite simple, but delicious organically made, low-intervention wine from Côtes de Gascogne. From 2/3 merlot and the rest cabernet it’s light and fruity, with moderate tannins. The producer says it’s elaborated the same way as their whites, with low, controlled temperatures, frequent remontages and moderate maceration.

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Importer Knut-Espen Misje (Terroir), also lecturer for the Norwegian Culinary Academy and one of the people behind the fair

Schlossgut Diel, from Nahe was represented by some lovely wines. I tasted the Riesling from Burgberg, a Grosses Gewächs with clayey soil with slate and alluvial sand, in three different vintages. The 2013 was very expressive, very concentrated, young and citrusy, 2012 less mineral, fruity, more open, and rounder. The Burgberg Riesling GG 2011 was in turn a little more mature, round, powerful too, very rich and long.

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Sylvain Taurisson Diel 

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