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Tag: natural wine

Wine of the Week

Dumenge Calling

No, it’s not a cheap joke, but the name of the wine. I am told it was made for the Garage Bar of Barcelona, in a tiny quantity of 100 bottles. I bought it from the Bendito bar in Madrid. (Read a short article from Garage here and a review of Bendito here.)

Dumenge Calling is monovarietal xarel.lo produced by Celler Dumenge in a garage in Penedès, Catalunya. The winery calls it an “ancestral”, or a pét nat. All their wines are made with a deep respect for the vineyard, seeking the highest possible expression of the grape and the soil. They opt for natural agriculture, always with minimal intervention, which results in original and true wines.

This wine has been aged in amphora, which allows it to perfectly preserve the freshness of the varietal, and at the same time it adds to the complexity.

Dumenge Calling 2017 (Celler Dumenge)

Light yellow, slightly turbid. Fruity aromas of pears, white flowers and grapefruit. Fresh fruit on the palate, vibrant acidity, quite full and with a long finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Shellfish, white fish, tapas, and many Asian-style dishes

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Beaujolais twins

This is a followup to the Beaujolais article last Friday. Today I came across two wines made by Pierre Dupond. One of the twins showed freshness and elegance, while the other was more bold and ripe. We will come back to that, but first a look at the background.

The Dupond family has its roots in Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. It began with Antoine Dupond, who was originally from Beaujolais, but began commercializing his wines in Lyon and St. Etienne in the 1860s. His son Joanny expanded the family’s estates to the Rhône area. Hervé Dupond, fifth generation, is today leading the business. Hervé has expanded production, building partnerships with nearby winegrowers and neighboring families that the they have known for generations. Each year Hervé selects the best possible plots to make his wines. A traditional method of winemaking is practiced to ensure wines produced are reflective of the land. Ageing takes place in concrete vats that allow for ideal temperatures.

The gamay grapes were handpicked and underwent carbonic maceration with indigenous yeasts. These are natural wines, both with low sulphur (one with nothing added). One is with minimal filtration, one without. To sum up: Sans Soufre Ajouté is the most fresh/acidic of the twins, while Non Filtré is the most ripe and fullbodied wine. Both are highly recommended.

Beaujolais-Village Sans Soufre Ajouté 2022 (Pierre Dupond)

Dark red, blue hint. Cherry, raspberry. Medium body, fine-grained tannins, fresh acidity.

Beaujolais Nouveau Non Filtré 2022 (Pierre Dupond)

Dark red, blue hint, a touch more dense than the other wine. Blackberry, eucalyptus, chocolate/coffee earthy tones. Medium-bodied with ripe fruit, a bit structured (more than the other wine), rounded acidity.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

A two pinots Champagne

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.

Credit: O. Horiot

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.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

More Biokult

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.

Price: Low

Food: Apéritif, salads, fish (red and white), light meat, pig

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Wine of the Week

Elegant Pirouette

Les Vins Pirouettes is a label created by Christian Binner. The idea is to give selected growers the opportunity to launch their ecologic wines under an established umbrella. Here it is Raphaël who offers his elegant crémant zéro dosage. (You can find more from the project if you search these pages. Here is another, also by Raphaël.)

This week’s wine is a Crémant d’Alsace from 2018, made from riesling 60% and pinot gris 40% planted 1970 in chalky soil. It’s spontaneusly fermented, spent 24 months on lees and was bottled without added sugar.

Le Crémant de Raphaël 2018 (Les Vins Pirouettes/ C. Binner)

Light yellow, small bubbles. Aromatic, yellow apples, lime, bisques. Fresh, dry, good acidity, quite long.

Price: Medium

Food: Apéritif, salads, white fish, shellfish, lightly spiced food…

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Wine of the Week

L’orangeade

Philippe Formentin had worked 10 years at Domaine Chabanon in Lagamas, near Montpellier, before he became a “flying winemaker”, consulting at vineyards around the world. Then he found a small winery in the south of France, just outside Clermont l’Hérault. Here in the foothills of the Larzac, Philippe has brought life to his dream of making his own natural artisan wine.

His wines are made from grapes grown organically and according to biodynamic principles. They grow in different plots with clay-limestone soils and various exposures.

The grapes are manually harvested in the cool, early mornings, then stored in a cool environment 24 hours to slow start fermentation. They ferment naturally, with indigenous yeast and without sulfites.

A manual vertical press is used to gently extract the juice. The wines are then aged in containers, decanted, and bottled without filtration. L’orangeade 2020 is a varietal grenache blanc.

L’orangeade 2020 (Opi d’Aquí)

Light orange. Fresh aroma with apricot, orange peel, eucalyptus, a touch of honey. Medium full, light tannin structure, good length.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Dramatically good

The last xinomavro in this column was a very mineral wine. This one is quite different, a lot more fruity. Oenops Wines was founded in 2015 in the northeastern region of Drama by Nikos Karatzas. The grapes come from selected vineyards from Drama and Macedonia, that are cultivated by various ambitious winegrowers.

The grape for this wine is xinomavro, from Naoussa and Amyntaion, age varying from 14 to 65 years. Spontaneous fermentation was carried out in egg shaped 5 hl amphoras, with 6% whole cluster. Nothing added, and no machinery was used at any stage. After fermentation followed 6 months ageing on lees in amphoras. Bottled unfiltered.

XinomavRAW 2020 (Oenops Wines)

Ruby red. Aroma dominated by raspberry and cherries, and behind there some earth and leather. Juicy in the mouth, some tannin, lots of lovely, natural acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: Duck, light meat, Mediterranean, antipasti

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Wine of the Week

Oh when the saints

No, it’s not an attempt of making a cheap musical joke, it’s the real name of the wine. When the wine is marching in, it’s with the grape saint laurent.

Saint Laurent is ​​an aromatic, dark-skinned grape variety from the Pinot Noir family. St Laurent is perfect for sparkling wines as the variety ripens early and the skin is relatively thin. By the way, portrayed on the label is Swedish jazz saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, in a drawing by Olaf Osten.

Since they took over Gernot’s family’s small-scale wine production in 1985, the couple Gernot and Heike Heinrich have focused on the great potential of the local grapes blaufränkisch, zweigelt and st. laurent. The family currently grows their grapes on 100ha in Gols, Burgenland, using biodynamic principles.

The grapes come from a single location on the eastern Leithaberg, in mica-mixed slate soil. The grapes are pressed in whole bunches, and the must is then cooled for rapid sedimentation, before fermentation begins with natural yeast in steel tanks. The fermenting must is then bottled before the fermentation is completely finished, to get its mousse in the bottle.

Oh When the Saints 2021 (Heinrich)

Light straw, abundant mousse. Fruity aroma of yellow apples, citrus, with white flowers and quince. Creamy texture, adequate acidity, salty aftertaste.

Price: Medium

Food: Seafood, white fish, light meat, aperitif

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Wine of the Week

Vital orange wine

The Lorentz family property is located in Ribeauvillé, Alsace. Georg Lorentz, sixth generation, is currently in charge – while his youngest daughter is studying to be a winemaker. The property has 33 hectares of eco-certified vineyards in the commune Bergheim (that lies within the Colmar-Ribeauvillé arondissement), among them two grand crus.

This wine is made from 54% sylvaner, 40% gewürtztraminer and 6% pinot gris. Hand-picked grapes are spontaneously fermented with skin contact. The wine is matured in steel tank. Unfiltered, without added sulphur.

We had it with bacalao in tomato sauce

Qui l’Eût Cru 2021 (Gustave Lorentz)

Orange, somewhat turbid. Nose of flowers (rose petals), mandarin, acacia honey and almonds. It has an energetic acidity, quite full in the mouth, balanced, and good length. Very vital.

Price: Medium

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Dorado III – New initiatives, a new level

We end our journey with some more recent initiatives. Their history is not necessarily that short though. Menade for instance is relatively new, and the launch of their oxidative wine too. But the companiy’s history can be traced many generations back, and their dorado has also some history.

Menade was officially founded in 2005. But this branch of the Sanz family can trace its wine history back to 1820, when they sold their first vintage to the mayor of La Seca. At that time, there was more red wine than white. Antonio Sanz was one of the pioneers of Rueda and of Spanish wine in general; he traveled around, among other places to the Basque Country to see how they made wine there. He took part in the revolution to avoid oxidation; pick at night and use steel tanks – and to start DO Rueda. Now his three children in the 6th generation are leading the family business. Menade operates completely organically and is committed to spontaneous fermentation. The family sold the famous brand Palacio de Bornos, and the bodega which later got the same name. But they kept the vineyards. Menade benefits from the use of these today.

Ivan in Menade’s Rueda cellar

Here we meet again my musician friend, who I first met in another Rueda bodega. Ivan Acebes García is generally interested in culture and speaks long and inspired. His thoughts on the history of the Spanish nation will not be discussed in detail here. But he says that for 250 years, solera was the way to make wine here. It was to make the process cheaper that they started placing the wine out in the sun. It is natural that Ivan asks if we can meet in the old bodega in La Seca, where a living room is filled with books. Later we drive to what has been the headquarters since 2009 in Rueda town. There they have made an organic bodega, laid out a garden with all the typical plants – and supplemented with, among other things, an “insect hotel”. Menade has a total of 210 hectares, 60 here at the farm in Rueda. Their homage to the dorado tradition they call Adorado. The vines for this are between 20 and 25 years old, and the grapes are picked by hand.

-Every year we harvest earlier, says Ivan, with the global warming in mind.

We are out in Menade’s biodiversity paradise. There is a lot of fennel: -All verdejo smells like fennel, other typical smells are rosemary and thyme, he points out.

It’s getting late, and a breeze has crept in over the inhospitable Castilian landscape.

-Here, far inland there is actually a certain Atlantic influence, he says, -there is nothing to stop the wind between the sea and these fields.

The pressing takes place in a historical vertical press from around the year 1900, when it is believed that an earlier incarnation of this particular wine was made for the first time. The must is cloudy, and the fermentation starts naturally. After fermentation, the finished wine is fortified with grape spirits to obtain 2 or 3 extra grades of alcohol. Flor develops, usually in the spring, and when it has disappeared, the oxidative process resumes in the old underground bodega in La Seca. -The mother solera of Adorado dates back to 1967, but the first “saca” (withdrawal from the solera) was as late as 2018, when we made the decision to reactivate this style, Ivan continues. Unlike the other well-known producers, Menade uses 8-liter damajuana. The wine is released on the market without clarification or filtration.

This dorado has even more saline expressiveness than the aforementioned wines. In addition it has evident iodine and umami features. It has a clear amber color with a golden element.

Vidal Soblechero

I always appreciate coming back to Alicia and Vidal Vidal Soblechero in La Seca. (No, there is no misprint there.) Vidal is a passionate “bird man” and is the only one who has made me hold a bird of prey on my arm. By the way, his falcons have a function; they keep pests away from the vines. Alicia is a music lover and this time she invited me to a baroque organ concert in the local church of La Seca.

Actually, I find it strange that this producer is not more famous. They did get a lot of attention when they made Spain’s first ice wine in 2010, but it was probably quickly sorted under curiosities. No, it is their single-parcel wines that most of all arouse interest and admiration. I always make sure to taste some, if not all, of these. The wine series Pagos de Villavendimia was born precisely with the aim of expressing the characteristics of the various plots.

Alicia and Vidal

The Vidal Soblechero family has 50 hectares on 32 plots. Nothing is bought-in, no vineyard is rented. It was his father Cláudio who was behind the standard verdejo Clavidor (also derived from his name).

La Oxidativa, their dorado, comes under this label Pagos de Villavendimia. It is made from 100% verdejo from over 80 years old vines and stored in damajuanas that are always full, in a form of solera from 1947.

-It started, once told their distributor Joachim Buchta, -when Cláudio Vidal put a barrel in the yard filled with ordinary verdejo. Then he placed enough damajuanas around it on the ground. After six months, he replenished ten percent of the wine from the barrel with the wine from the damajuanas. Then he refilled the damajuans. Over the years, the number increased. Now it’s around ten.

This explanation is perhaps good for understanding how the solera system works in this context. The point here is that there are barrels that never run out, that there is a small amount left from the first vintage.

Another point is that at Vidal Soblechero, dorado is fermented like ordinary verdejo, with potentially about thirteen percent alcohol. You are then sure to end up with a completely dry wine.

We see that this is a type of wine that several producers are now bringing to light again, and beyond the four I had planned to visit especially with a view to dorado, I will mention two. I had agreed to visit Ismael Gozalo anyway, and he gave me a bottle of his historical wine when I was about to leave. And to a trade fair in Barcelona, ​​Malaparte had also brought their oxidative wine.

Ismael in his Nieva cellar

Ismael Gozalo

Ismael Gozalo’s father was one of the founders of Viñedos de Nieva, a reference in the area. And he himself was behind Ossian together with Javier Zacchagnini, known from Ribera del Duero. In 1998, Ismael started making wines outside the family’s bodega, and it did not take long before everything was produced organically, as natural wine without additives. Nieva, the small village where he was born in 1971, is one of the highest in Rueda, 850 meters above sea level. With less than 300 inhabitants, Nieva has four significant wineries, which must be said to be an unparalleled density.

Ismael Gozalo has 31 hectares, only “en vaso”, without upbinding, which is very common in Spain, with all its old vineyards. The wine EvoluciÓn comes from one of Gozalo’s best vineyards, 180-year-old pre-phylloxera in sandy soil. The wine is based on the vintages 2010 and 2011. It has then been over ten years in old sherry barrels. It has a permanent floor layer based on yeast cells from the bodega since the 11th century. As he writes on the baking label, it is “stored under flor (flower), bottled on a ‘día de flor’ (flower day) and you can enjoy this flor (wine flower)”. He may be called the “verdejo alchemist”, for his creative ways of dealing with this emblematic grape. Obviously, he also uses 100% verdejo for his dorado. Ripe grapes are picked by hand, spontaneously fermented and stored in barrels, which are only filled up with 5/6 of the capacity. The wine achieves an alcohol of 15%, but evaporates, and when the wine has 13.5%, it is not refilled with alcohol, but bottled as it is. It would thus not have been approved by DO Rueda. 950 half litre bottles were produced.

Old sherry bota from producer Pedro Romero
“Natural artwork” (inside a damajuana)

EvoluciÓn is stored longer under flor than the aforementioned wines. Therefore, one might call it pálido rather than dorado. Surely it is that it is also made after inspiration from the historical wines from Rueda. Because of a longer time under flor it is lighter than the others in colour. It is aromatic, with hints of ripe apples and plum and a yeasty flor characteristic. It is a very fresh wine with good concentration, vital acidity and a sweetish fruit sensation. Dry in the mouth, and good length.

Ismael’s EvoluciÓn

Like Gozalo, Bodega de Frutos Marín is located in the province of Segovia. The producer is most often called Malaparte, after its most famous label. Rubén and Elisa cultivate 5.5 hectares of vineyards near Cuéllar. They use different techniques, such as tanks, old barrels and amphorae. All plots are operated without irrigation. This is near the Ribera del Duero. Still, and despite a lovely amphora-aged tempranillo, I would say that they are mostly a white wine producer, offering several versions of verdejo and viura. Interesting for us in this round is the wine OX. This is obviously an abbreviation of “oxidativo”. It is based on verdejo and palomino fino from 65 year old vines. After a year it was transferred to damajuanas. It naturally reaches 14%, and is not strengthened. It has all the yeast, almond and dried fruit aromas one would expect, and in the mouth it is glyceric – and typically more fruity than its sherry equivalents.

Rubén and Elisa

Maybe the dorado drink can get a place at our tables again? The first mentioned wines (see part I and II) should have similar use as a young or medium aged amontillado or palo cortado sherry. If we should refer to what the producers themselves are suggesting, it can be anything from cured cheeses, via stews, anchovies, bacalao, foie and smoked and pickled starters – to salty and sweet foods, such as blue cheese and chocolate-based desserts. EvoluciÓn will probably be more like a fino, manzanilla pasada or young amontillado, with some lighter food. One of Gozalo’s importers mentions Asian-inspired dishes and red fish. It would probably suit some of the others as well.

The golden age was called the era after the discovery of America. It remains to be seen whether the golden drink is now facing a new golden age.

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