Valentina Passalacqua’s Calcarius project has been introduced before (like here).
A short overview: She disposes of a 80 hectares farm, where she grows vine, fruit and vegetables, based on biodynamic principles. The soils are Kimmeridgian calcareous (thus the name Calcarius). The wines, from indigenous varieties, have always great minerality and nerve.
This time it’s the Frecciabomb, an orange pét nat made from bombino bianco, an indigenous grape variety from Puglia. The Ca on the label is the symbol for calcium, 20 is its atomic number, and 40.08 is its molar mass.
Frecciabomb Orange 2021(V. Passalacqua)
Orange, spritzy, some sediments on the bottom. Aroma of ripe pineapple, lemon, aromatic herbs, a touch acacia honey. Slight tannin in the mouth, fresh bubbles, medium concentration and great acidity.
This was one of the very best from a recent tasting of pure chardonnay extra-dry grower champagnes.
Maison Fleury was established in 1895 in Courteron, in Côte des Bar, southern Champagne. The 15 hectares are all cultivated biodynamically. In fact Fleury was the first producer in Champagne to be certified biodynamic. Jean-Sébastien Fleury has since 2009 been responsible for both vineyards and cellar. He introduced plowing with horses in the vineyards, and today half of them are cultivated in this way. It was also Jean-Sébastien who introduced the first sulphur-free vintage champagne.
Near to Chablis, the grapes are grown on Kimmerigian calcareous clay soils. Most of the vineyards are located on steep slopes facing south and south-west, where the grapes get a lot of sun and thus high ripening. The grapes are hand-picked, and the wines are spontaneously fermented in steel tanks and in 6,000 liter old oak vats, where they also ripen. Cuvée Cépage Blancs Extra-Brut 2011 is elaborated from 100% chardonnay. 35% is vinified in oak barrel.
Cépages Blancs Extra-Brut 2011(Maison Fleury)
Straw yellow, careful mousse. Lovely complexity on the nose: citrus, green apple, white flowers, brioche, and a touch dried fruit. Persistent acidity, almonds and lovely fruit throughout; and even if it’s a dry wine there is a hint of honey in the finish.
Pannobile is the name of an association of wine growers in Burgenland, Austria. Pannonia was the region’s name during Roman times (thus underscoring the importance of origin), and nobile means noble, rich or generous.
In their own words, they were “a group of winemaking friends and colleagues meeting regularly in Gols, a wine village on the northeastern shore of Neusiedler See. Their aim was neither to be ‘modern’ nor ‘international’, but to be committed to the soils, the character, and the climate of their region so that premium wines made from local grape varieties could be created”.
Hans Nittnaus was the one that suggested the name. Here on this blog we have said hello to Gernot Heinrich, also one of the founders from the 1980’s, and Gerhard Pittnauer and Claus Preisinger, who joined later.
Also among the founders was Hans Gsellmann, whose son Andreas started to work in the winery in 2005, and has been in charge since 2919. Andreas says that his goal is “to harmonize traditional winemaking with the biodynamic way of working and living”. They cultivate 19 hectares of vineyards.
Gsellmann has a wine that carries the name Pannobile on the label. We will come back to this. Today we present his Blaufränkisch. The grape variety here is obviously blaufränkisch, that grows on quartz and gravel. The fermentation was spontaneous, and the maceration lasted two weeks. The wine was raised three months in used 500 liter oak barrels.
Blaufränkisch 2021(A. Gsellmann)
Dark cherry. Dark fruits (blueberry, blackberry, dark cherry), a lactic note, herbs, and also a touch of dried fruits. Juicy in the mouth with some structure, some spice and good acidity.
Even though I recently have come across a few good nouveau wines, this is probably the Beaujolais revelation of the year for me.
Romain des Grottes has since 2001 run his domaine organically, and it has been biodynamic certified since 2006. The soil is granitic. In the vineyard he does not use any synthetic substances, and very little copper. He prefers herbal teas and fermented extracts. Trees and hedges are planted to contribute to biodiversity. The domaine has been welcoming volunteers for more than 10 years to transmit their values and allow them, in Romain’s words, “to bring down into reality our dreams of a world of sharing, exchange and respect”.
Here is a super low-extraction red beaujolais made without sulfur and without filtration. It’s obviously made from solely gamay. The natural carbonic maceration lasted for 5 days.
Brut de Cuve 2018 (Domaine des Grottes)
Light amber, almost currant coloured. Lovely scent of raspberry, currant, white flowers and a touch of apricot. Super, cool fruit in the mouth, lovely acidity.
Torremilanos of Ribera del Duero is a traditional bodega that is currently taking interesting steps into the future. I have during the last months re-tasted several of their wines, and I also visited their hotel and wine shop during my last trip to the area.
The winegrowing tradition of Finca Torremilanos, or officially: BodegasPeñalba López, dates back to 1903. It was in 1975 that Pablo Peñalba López acquired the estate and the brand. This was seven years before Ribera del Duero was even recognized as an appellation. He immediately began producing estate-bottled wines, moving away from the former practice of selling bulk grapes to the local cooperative.
By the early 2000’s, the eldest son, Ricardo, had become responsible for the wines. He began investigating organic and biodynamic farming methods, including horse-plowing, hand picking, and native-yeast fermentation. Since 1988 they have even produced their own barrels of French and American oak at their in-house cooperage.
Finca Torremilanos currently has 195 hectares of vineyards, surrounding the winery by the national road 122, outside Aranda de Duero. The site is varied in terms of land composition, orientation, altitude and microclimate. The vineyards are all located on the southern margin of the Duero river at an altitude of 800 to 900 meters. The vines grow in a range of soils -sand, rounded river stones, clay, limestone- and the parcels experience a number of different sun exposures. At Finca Torremilanos they practice dry farming cultivating the vineyards without herbicides or insecticides following the criteria of biodynamic agriculture. In 2015 they became the first producer in the appellation to be Demeter certified.
The Montecastrillo is made from mainly tempranillo and some 3% cabernet sauvignon. It was macerated between 5 to 7 days and fermented at 19-24° in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. After malolactic fermentation in steel the final coupage was carried out. Aging for 6 months in French and American oak barrels from their own cooperage (20% first and second use barrels). Lightly filtered.
Montecastrillo 2020(Bod. Peñalba López)
Dark cherry red. Aroma of red and dark fruits (blackberry, cherry), over a layer of spice (cinnamon). Fruity in the mouth, with an earthy tone, good tannins and a fine acidity.
Food: Suckling pig and other roasts, casseroles, tapas and charcuterie
Jura is a small, yet diverse wine region. Stéphane Tissot is one of its most dynamic and creative producers, and boasts a huge varieties of styles. Here he has made a sparkling wine with vin de paille in its dosage. And vin de paille? A traditional Jura thick and sweet dessert wine made of dried grapes.
Indigène ferments with indigenous yeasts, hence the name. Then the second fermentation is begun with vin de paille. This wine has the same grape composition as Tissot’s crémant Normale: 55% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir, the rest poulsard and trousseau. These two wines are separated after the first fermentation, when Indigène is dosed with vin de paille, added daily in tiny amounts. The second fermentation takes six months – and adds to the richness and complexity of the wine.
Straw yellow. Aromas of clementine, yellow apple, spices, dried fruit, bread and nuts. Glyceric, smooth with good concentration, and a long salty finish.
Last Thursday I had the pleasure to revisit Bellies, a 100% vegan restaurant in the eastern neighborhood of Stavanger, Norway. Here you are not served “vegan burgers” and such. The focus is on the tastes of the ingredients, and there is a high level of creativity in the presentation. Add to this a select wine list that mostly highlights natural wines and you have got the picture.
I had the “Full Bellies”, a ten servings presentation (dishes of various sizes), accompanied by a package of five wines, plus an elegant champagne, the Les Vignes de Montgueuxblanc de blancs extra brut (J. Lassaigne). Among the wines were a stylish, slightly buttered, tropical fruit-scented Saint-Véran, Les Pommards 2020 by Jessica Litaud, a fresh Loire white, Saumur 2021(B. Stater-West) and an interesting relatively full-bodied oak-treated beaujolais, Morgon Dynamite 2020(A. & Y. Bertrand). All these were wines that I will keep an eye on, and good enough to be featured.
This time I concentrate on a brilliant fruity, earthy, full-of-life red from the Loire valley. Nadège Lelandais can be found in Rochefort sur Loire, a few miles southwest of the city of Angers. There she cultivates 4.5 hectares of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and chenin blanc. She has been practicing organic and biodynamic viticulture since the start in 2005.
Our wine Vigneronne is made of cabernet franc, handpicked and fermented in fiberglass vats and aged several months in older barrels.
Vigneronne 2021(Nadège Lelandais/ Les Vignes Herbel)
Dark purple. Fragrant with raw red fruits (cherry, red currant), blackberry, and with an earthy note. Juicy and fleshy in the mouth with fine tannic structure, herbaceous with fresh acidity. Simply delicious.
The Olivier Horiot domaine is located in Les Riceys, a commune in Côte des Bar. We are in the southern part of Champagne, and it’s an area that has once belonged to Bourgogne. Here in the Aube département the vineyards are more scarce than in central parts of Champagne, and interspersed with forests, waters and farms.
The Horiot family continues to produce wonderful natural wines from biodynamic viticulture, and has by the way also done a great job to recover the region’s indigenous grape varieties, like arbane.
Maybe inspired by nearby Bourgogne, the domain separats its different terroirs into distinct cuvées. The result is champagnes with strong individual character.
The name Métisse refers to the fact that this cuvée is made from several different terroirs in the village of Les Riceys. It’s a non vintage, made from pinot noir and pinot blanc. It has a minimal addition of sulphites and undergoes neither fining nor filtering.
Métisse Pinots Noirs et Blancs Extra Brut(O. Horiot)
Pale yellow, small, delicate bubbles. Aromas of apples, pears, citrus, flowers, brioche and spicy notes. It’s fresh and lively on the palate, with a fine-tuned interplay between the autolysis and the fruit. Completely dry, good length.
Alexander Pflüger is third-generation owner and winemaker of Weingut Pflüger in the Pfalz. The name Pflüger means he who ploughs, and implies that the family has a long tradition as farmers. They were pioneers in organic farming in Germany, and the vineyards were certified in 1989. In the early 2000s, they switched to biodynamic. Today, Weingut Pflüger is the producer in Germany with the largest Demeter-certified vineyard.
It’s an all pinot, spontaneously fermented and raised in steel.
Buntsandstein Pinot Noir 2020(Pflüger)
Cherry red with blueish hint. Aroma of red berries (raspberry), plums, anise, an earthy touch. Juicy, fresh, medium-bodied, with fresh acidity.
We presented a “cultic” pét nat from this producer last year. (Read here.) We continue with a white one, or more accurately: orange. It’s a group of producers from Burgenland, Austria that have got together, and get some help from Meinklang with the winemaking.
The grapes are grüner veltliner 65%, welschriesling 25% and muscat 10%. They were grown in clay and limestone soils, picked by hand and spontaneously fermented with 7-8 days of skin maceration. Maturation was done in steel, and the wine was bottled unfiltered.
Weisse Blumen 2021(Biokult)
Light orange. Aromatic with white flowers, white peach, a touch orange peel. Fresh taste, nice rounded acidity, lightly structured, salty finish.
Food: Apéritif, salads, fish (red and white), light meat, pig