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Another useless list

I started this blog mainly to be able to give something back to the many great wine personalities I visit during a year. This is only one amongst all of my activities, and often I have been on the backbeat, or long behind schedule, if you like… But one thing I promised myself: No matter what happens I will present one good wine every Friday, and so far I have kept the promise. Some times I have just posted a picture and a little text, then come back to finish the blogpost later. The nearest to miss was just a couple of weeks ago in Évora, walled town in Alentejo, Portugal. I had forgot that the time was one hour before my local time, so by 11 pm I had to rush out to find an open square or something, as there is almost no coverage in that town due to all the stone buildings, and in the cellar of that stone building… well, forget it. But I did it, once again in the manner of James Bond or Cinderella.

After one year of managing this wine blog I just wanted to count how many times has each country been featured in the Wine of the Week column. What does this list say, and what can you learn from it? I will not dwell to much by those questions. But it says, maybe, that I haven’t had any master plan, and that I have travelled more in certain countries compared to others. To the second question, next to nothing.

Enough talking, here is the list:

Spain: 19

France: 10

Italy: 8

Portugal: 6

Germany and Austria: 2

Slovenia, Croatia, Lebanon, USA and Australia: 1

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Number 1 Spain: Ronda vineyards in the background

As for wine regions it depends a little on how we count: Sicilia has 4 (three from Etna and one from Menfi), while Granada alone has 3 (if we extend it to the autonomous region of Andalucía, which might be logical compared to Sicilia, it would be 6, while Castilla y León has 5, two of them in DO Bierzo). Other wine regions with two entries are Alicante, Bourgueil, Beaujolais, Jura, Vinho Verde and Dão.

Folk jam i Valladolid 1

And why is Spain number 1? Probably because I travel there a lot, I have many friends (some argue that a wine critic or blogger shouldn’t have friends, it often seems). Here a jamsession in Valladolid after a day with visits in Ribera del Duero, Toro and Rueda, and several of the musicians are connected to nearby wineries.. Yours truly second from left

Which ones I miss? Maybe more from Gredos (a border area in three wine regions, and three political regions – many outstanding garnachas), more Galician wines maybe (lots of lovely, luscious reds and whites), and from Portugal undoubtedly the Lisboa region (great variation). As this post is belated too (the “anniversary” was 1st April) I know there will be wines from Alentejo on next year’s list, and a couple of articles are also in the making. But among the countries totally missing: I have tasted more Georgian wines during the last two years than ever before, maybe its neighbor Hungary ought to be present too, and New Zealand should definitely have been on the list.

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Wine of the Week

A cool reserva from Alentejo

Outeiros Altos is an interesting project outside Estremoz. The Alentejo region may normally evoke pictures of vast plains of cork oaks, warm sun and sharp shadows. But located near the Serra d’Ossa range in the north of the Borba sub-region Outeiros Altos finds itself in a cool microclimate that gives a freshness to all their wines.

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Fernanda Rodrigues and Jorge Cardoso is convinced that the organic approach is right. I was there last week in search of the wines made in clay, which they also make. And walking through the vineyards with them showed clearly that there is a thought behind everything.

This reserva is made from trincadeira (70%), alfrocheiro (20%) and aragonêz (10%), grown in schistous soils, picked by hand, and aged for a year in very lightly toasted French oak barrels. The wines are already certified organic, but in the future they will be labelled vegetarian and vegan friendly too.

IMG_3921 Jorge and Fernanda, with “the next generation”

 

O Altos Res 13 The label is almost going round the whole bottle

Reserva Biológico 2013 (Outeiros Altos)

Deep red. Aroma of red fruites, blackberry, spices and a balsamic note of eucalyptus. On the palate it’s quite full, with mature tannins, concentrated fruit, a nice coolness, and a slight touch of vanilla.

Price: Medium

 

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Wine of the Week

And I’ll take the (Spanish) high road…

Camino Alto means high road (or street) in Spanish. On the Toledo part of the Meseta, the high plains of central Spain, we find a winery by that name, a winery that is dedicated to organic cultivation. Though I’ve been in touch with them for a while I have not visited them yet, and I have tasted only one wine. But that wine was so much to my liking that I decided to feature it as this week’s wine.

(Yes, it’s been a lot to do lately, so I must come back with a little more text here too.)

Tempranillo

Camino Alto Tempranillo 2015 (Camino Alto)

Dark red with youngish blue hue. Aromas of violets, blueberries and … Quite concentrated, with a nice dryness from the young tannins, and an appropriate acidity.

Price: Low

Food: Goes well with Spanish tapas, from cured hams to cheeses and vegetables, anchovies and more

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Wine of the Week

From southern Alentejo

I’m on a mission. And I’m in Alentejo, the apparently flat and harsh (I didn’t say dull) Portuguese region that is the world’s biggest resource of cork oak. This is a modern red wine from the southern subregion of Vidigueira, maybe surprisingly a white stronghold in this area full of surprises.

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Rocim 2012 (Herdade do Rocim)

Dark, deep red. Aroma of red fruits and deep forests, and a touch of eucalyptus, and with a sweet component too. Full on the palate, with young, round tannins and good length.

Price: Medium

Food: I had it with both roast mushrooms with garlic and olive oil and black pig with mashed apples. But any red meat or game would be near an ideal accompaniment

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Wine of the Week

A legendary cava

This is a xarel.lo based gran reserva from one of the three superior cava houses (in my opinion at least, and if you ask me I will reveal who the others are). Anyway, this is a classic, or a legend, one of several from Xavier Gramona and his team.

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III Lustros 2006 (Gramona)

Concentrated aroma of bread, almonds, hazelnuts, and citrus (grapefruit and lime). Concentrated and fresh in the mouth, and not too much mousse. To sum up, to find a fresh cava with this age you should lift some stones…

Price: High

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Wine of the Week

Ulibarri txakolí

I tasted the Ulibarri again on a recent trip to Barcelona, in a Basque pintxo bar in the Gotic Quarter. The wine was a real revelation on a trip to the Basque country in January, when I actually visited Iker Ulibarri and brother Asier in their winery.

2016-01-31 10.22.14 Iker Ulibarri wearing his typical ‘txapela’

The cellar is made of stone and is actually an extension of their home. In the backyard they have 2 hectares of hondarrabi zuri grapes. The soil contains clay, sand, slate and schist. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees with more than average of ‘batonnage’. It’s bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal SO2 added, and it’s one of the few wines in this “difficult” coastal area that is both organically grown, and certified too.

Ulibarri Txakolí 2015 (Ulibarri Txakolina)

There is only a few bubbles here (as opposed to most txakolís, at least the traditional stereotype), but the typical acidity is indeed intact. It’s fresh and appealing, yet structured and persistent (and with age, more complex too), with notes of green apple, herbs.

Price: Medium

Food: Fish, shellfish, many type of cheeses…

 

 

 

 

 

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Wine of the Week

White from black earth

With the designation Santo Spirito this wine must be said to be quite appropriate in the so-called Holy Week we are in. Now I don’t always see the importance of chosing themes and content according to the season (there is always a reason for chosing a specific wine anyway). So we hereby leave the religious aspect.

The 25-60 year old grapes are grown in volcanic soil in the eastern corner of Sicilia, north of Catania. They are mostly carricante (about 65%), but a “field blend” of several others like inzolia, catarratto and grecanico constitutes the rest. The wine is made quite naturally, with malolactic fermentation too, that contributes to its roundness.

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Etna Bianco Santo Spirito 2014 (Tenuta delle Terre Nere)

Golden colour. The aroma is clearly tropical, with mango, apricot, cooked apple maybe, a bit lactic, and with a sensation of prolonged skin-contact. In the mouth it is unctuous, waxy, not very long and with moderate acidity. But nice drinking after all.

Price: Medium

Food: A full, round, and “tropical” wine, it was no big hit with yesterday’s varied cheese board. Next time I will try some Asian food, with some sweetness, maybe soy sauce. More safe suggestions would be fish and fowl, and why not a Sicilian style pasta dish with vegetables.

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Articles and Wine bars and restaurants

Remedy for the wet London weather

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I have understood that the Terroirs wine bar was something of a pioneer on London’s organic and natural wine scene. Some of the people who had formerly worked there opened in November 2013 The Remedy Wine Bar & Kitchen, located in the Fitzrovia area near Regent’s Park and the Euston train station. I was there in January (it’s just that I am well behind schedule regarding some posts), and it was like a remedy for the wet season that was about to set in. One night after having visited a nearby sax shop (yes, you heard right!) I popped in and had a standing tapas session because the locale was packed, so I thought I’d go back next day for a more relaxed lunch.

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Abel and his message on the wall

The Remedy is run by a group of friends with varied international background, among them Dany Teixeira (French-Portuguese), and newcomer in the team Abel Lamy Fernández (Spanish-French). Their aim is to create a cosy and relaxed place, something between an enoteca and a bistrot. The wine list is original, and the food is delicious. Their wine philosophy can be summed up in a few words, as they do themselves on their website: We like wine that tells a good story – about a place, a winemaker… That’s why we choose to work with small producers rather than mass-market wineries.

You will rarely find any famous wines among their selection. They are simply too curious, too obsessed to find obscure and rare oddities in this fascinating wine world.

No snobbery here, and their passion and enthousiasm is eagerly shared with all their satisfied customers – like me.

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Among the wines I savoured the first evening were a Muscadet sur lie 2013 from Delhommeau, on its own, before a developed fino from Sánchez Romate, to which Abel suggested a piquillo and anchovies toast. Then came an albariño, Cos Pés Fincas del Salnés 2013 (Forjas del Salnés with the collaboration with famous bearded wine maker Raúl Pérez, and macerated for a year on skins in used oak vats), orange or light mahoganny, with flowers, lychée and orange peel, accompanied by a “coppa” (meaning neck in Italian, a special type of cured ham). A great closing of the evening was the Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Cherbaudes 2006 (Dom. Fourrier), with lovely hints of cherry and stone-fruit, a very delicate taste with an eminently integrated acidity. To go with it: Some Spanish chorizo and handmade potato chips, and still more charcuterie, if I remember right… Sssh, don’t tell anyone! I was alone, and it was so noisy anyway…

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The whole first night I spent standing at this table. But I was in good company…

The day after I visited again with my new tenor sax as almost the only luggage. Renato Catgiu, the Sardegnan co-owner, was there with Dany and Abel – and I had another delicious meal. This time with wines like the Burgenland pinot gris 2013 from Andert Pamhogna, an orange wine with rays of red light in it, and with evident tannins, accompanied by duck on toast, with slighly fried onions, spinach, mint & dill, then a Faugère Binet-Jacquet 2014, a youngish and blueish wine, slightly spicy and very “quaffable”, as they say in this country, meaning one can drink a lot in a very short period of time. Then…

This:

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(Big silence…) Outside all winelists, and almost out of this world, Château Châlon 2007 (Dom. Macle), a vin jaune in the typical 62 cl. bottle, and with 14% alcohol: With respect for the designation (vin jaune): Yellow, with a flor- (sherrylike) aroma of almonds, a full taste with lovely acidity and a salty minerality, – and very aptly accompanied by a comté, the legendary cheese from the same region, Jura that is.

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Dany and Abel 

After this I was satisfied, and knowing Dany and Abel, they must have been too, because the customers’ satisfaction is what they apt for – in addition to their own.

And quite naturally, one has to visit that special room before going back to the wet London weather. And in a wine bar that serve wines as natural as possible, what else did I find on the toilet shelf…

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Was I surprised? I don’t know if it was the intention that I should reveal this, and if the owners of The Remedy don’t like it I will of course take it away. After all, I can’t risk being stopped in the door when trying to access this fantastic place again.

 

 

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