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Tag: Puglia

Wine of the Week

More from the Puglia project

I wrote about an orange wine of Valentina Passalacqua’s last autumn. In short she makes natural wines from the family farm inside the Gargano national park. The grapes are biodynamically farmed, the fermentations are spontaneous, and there is no fining, filtering or sulphur addition.

Ca signifies that the vines are grown in some isolated Kimmeridgian calcareous soil. 20 is the atomic number, and the atomic weight is 40.08. Most of it has a Greek, or Hellenistic, inspiration, not least the grapes. This one is a varietal nero di troia.

Read more about the project and especially the orange falanghina here.

20 Ca 40.08 Hellen Rosso 2019 (V. Passalacqua)

Dark cherry. Mature fruits, mulberry and plums, with a certain acidic edge. Luscious, grapey, some texture, light bitterness towards the end, finishes dry.

Price: Medium

Food: Salads, bacalao, other white fish, light meat…

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Wine of the Week

Passalacqua’s Puglia project

I am in London, mainly for music. But I never miss a chance to visit some of the many good natural wine bars and restaurants in town. Yesterday I visited Brawn again (see an earlier, more detailed report here), that’s owned by the people behind the classic Terroirs.

At Brawn one of the highlights was the orange wine from Valentina Passalacqua’s Puglia project.

The wine and light logo

Her farm is found inside Gargano National Park in Apricena, Puglia, and has belonged to the family for well over 100 years. The soil consists mainly of limestone rocks rich in minerals, at about 200 meters of altitude. It’s now worked biodynamically. All the wines are spontaneously fermented, never fined nor filtered, and they all come without sulfur addition.

Back label

The “calcareous project” came to life because Valentina felt the need to isolate some plots characterized by exclusively Kimmeridian calcareous soil. These are defined by terroir, the wines are mineral, and full of life. Falanghina is just one of the many varieties that can be called indigenous, but also with Greek influence or inspiration (along with nero di Troia, greco, aleatico, to name a few).

Valentina informs that the numbers indicated on the labels are the atomic number (20) and the atomic weight (40.08) of the chemical element of calcium (Ca). The designation is IGP Bianco Puglia, and it comes in a one liter bottle.

As you already have guessed, the fermentation was spontaneous, and it was macerated on the skins for 7 days, in open vats with manual hat break. It was racked in steel, and bottled without filtering or clarification.

Calcarius Orange Puglia (Valentina Passalacqua)

Light orange, with a reddish tone. Fresh on the nose, citric notes (mandarin), aromatic herbs and oriental spices. A slight touch of fine tannins in the mouth, saline notes and an appealing citric finish.

Price: Medium

Food: White fish, light meat, vegetarian, not too spicy Asian

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Wine of the Week

Puglia Primitivo

Primitivo is one of Puglia’s most prominent grapes. We haven’t focused much on primitivos on this blog. I don’t know, it’s maybe easy to ignore the often slightly warm wines from this corner of Europe and Italy. This remarkable wine I enjoyed at the excellent restaurant and natural wine bar Brawn of London East. (Read about it here.)

Primitivo is an early ripener, hence the name. The Gioia del Colle plateau, with its sea winds and cool nights, is one of the most favoured terroirs. We are 400 meters above the plains where all the boring stuff originates. It’s up here that we find Cristiano Guttarolo, who works his 1.5 hectare vineyard (biodynamically. The vines here are planted on a base of limestone and clay. Fermentation is done with natural yeasts in stainless steel fermentation tanks. Maceration is carried out for 16 days and aged in steel. Bottling is without clarification, filtration or the addition of sulphur dioxide.

Lamie delle Vigne 2014 (Cristiano Guttarolo)

Very dark, young colour. Aroma of berries from the woods (blueberry), and also berries bathed in the sun, and a salty minerality. Round and tasty in the mouth, with a good acidity for a Puglian wine. A hint of volatile acidity maybe, but in tiny quantities it’s ok, as it adds to the freshness in a southern wine like this.

Price: Medium

Food: At Brawn’s it came with their magnificent crispy and tasty black pudding. But it goes to a variety of light meat, salads, vegetarian, vegan and light desserts.

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Wine bars and restaurants

A new dawn at Brawn

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Brawn, on the corner of Columbia Rd.

This was my third visit at Brawn. First time was three years ago when my wife and I had first visited the RAWfair and the nearby flower market. By that time Brawn was taking pride in serving all parts of the pig. Now it seemed that the kitchen had moved on to a more diverse fare. This was confirmed by the staff, that said it was partly to be in tune with the times and many people’s wish to go for lighter menues. While I loved the former concept, that I in fact had come back for, I also appreciate the new approach. And with an equally eclectic wine selection as before: organic wines, as naturally made as possible, but with no fundamentalism either – yes, I can say that I have the strongest faith in the project. I am a bit worried that the swine in the logo could be an endangered species though.

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This eastern oasis (near Bethnal Green) could be called a classic. The kitchen puts out wonderful dishes with the strongest confidence, the menu is written in an original language, and the wines are of the versatile type. I will not dwell too much with the food, since this is primarily a wine site. But I must mention that at my latest visit I had salted padron peppers, then a tomato salad with red onions and basil, and then a marvellous black pudding with a thin, crispy crust with maize and mushroom. And by the time I reached this dish Maceo Parker’s funky sax came very appropriately through the speakers. The dessert was dark chocolate in olive oil and sea salt.

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Peppers with Pink Bulles sparkling and black pudding with a Puglia primitivo

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The wine list contains some 500 wines, all suiteable for drinking now or in the near future. No show-offs. There is a selection of around 20 wines (and some beers and ciders) by the glass, but when I look at my notes after each visit I see that some of the wines suggested by the staff has come from the main list, which is another “plus”.

With the padron peppers I had an unfiltered gamay pét nat from Auvergne (in Upper Loire, west from Beaujolais), the Pink Bulles 2015 (Jean Maupertuis), that was lightly blushing pink with an orange hint, had a delicate aroma of yellow apple, peach, and was light and fresh in the mouth. With the tomatoes came the Supernova 2015 (Danjou-Banessy) a Mediterranean muscat from Roussillon. This had some traces of extended skin-contact, with a yellow-orange colour and some notes of peel in the aroma. Quite round and soft with moderate acidity, but the dry texture from the skin-contact adds to the balance. Third wine: Lamie delle Vigne 2014 (Cristiano Guttarolo), a Puglia primitivo, that came with the black pudding. Very dark, young colour, aroma of berries from the wood, some blueberry, and in the mouth it was round and tasty. It can also be noted that it has some volatile acidity, which I think is ok in small quantities, and in a southern, warm wine like this it actually adds to the freshness.

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Pierre-Yves and Wesley at Brawn

I was also given a taste of their Guigne et Guins 2014, a wild cherry liqeur from the Laurent Cazottes destillery (with whom they collaborate, if I remember right), quite light at 18% of alcohol, fruity and not too sweet.

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With this dessert I chose a Maury, the Fagayra Rouge 2012 (Les Terres de Fagayra), a grenache-based dessert wine with hints of sweet black cherries.

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To sum up, this is that kind of place where I like to go myself, a cosy, not too formal place with focus on wine, but with a really good kitchen to match it. In a place like this I could have said that I am just a little-medium-very hungry, and let the staff bring me wines and food of their own choice. Go there you too!

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