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Tag: saperavi

Wine of the Week

Black Friday

Today we will present a wine from a virtually black grape. Saperavi is famous for being Georgia’s main black variety, for its dark flesh and for the colour of its juice. This wine however, it’s from Moldova.

Vinaria Tiganca, also called Gitana, was first established as part of the big Moldvinprom in the village of Tiganca. It took a qualitative turn when it was bought by Petr and Svetlana Dulger in 1999.

They have planted their own vineyards and modernized the winemaking process. They prefer wooden vats for the fermentation to facilitate micro-oxidation.Their vineyards are situated in 2 villages in the Leovski region, in different climate zones. Each grape variety grows in the zone that is best suited for that particular variety.

This wine is exclusively from the saperavi variety, manually picked and selected and aged in clay vessels.


Credit: Gitana

Saperavi 2015 (Gitana/ Vinăria Tiganca)

Deep and opaque, with purple rim. Ripe dark fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant), black pepper, nutmeg, also leathery tones, cinnamon and dried fruits. Tastes dry, yet with a soft/smooth feeling, with ripe tannin, and moderate acidity. Really enjoyable and in its prime.

Price:

Food: Lamb and other tasty meat, rich plates with fat, umami flavours, like wines with soy sauce

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The Real Wine fair 2019 – I. A few favourites

The Real Wine fair brings together small independent vine growers from all over, to celebrate their talent, and to illustrate the diversity in the world of artisan winemaking. This year the number of participants was around 160. The fair is organised by British importer and distributor Les Caves de Pyrène, with help from many good friends.

In addition there are guest speakers for the seminars, and it’s possible to buy delicious food from the many food stalls set up for the occation. The city is bustling with activity in the days leading up to and during the fair, with many of the producers participating. And there are pop-ups, take-overs or what you like to call it when a restaurant has guest cooks from other restaurants.

“So much wine, so little time…”, a favourite quote about the fair

I will try to cover some of this in three chapters. Here are some of my most interesting findings from the fair itself. In the next article I will talk about Simon J. Woolf’s seminar and his book. Last article will be from wine bar Terroirs, who received visitors from Norway.

Here are just a few of the many good wines I tasted. To prevent the Nile from crossing its banks, the rules of the game are: Pick 5 countries, 3 producers from each, then one special wine. Please search elsewhere on this blog, and you will find that most producers are already mentioned here.

UK

We start at home in the UK. Not far away in East Sussex and Kent we find British organic wine pioneer Will Davenport. From his Davenport Vineyards he offers well-made whites and sparklings. A new producer for me was Ancre Hill Estates, over in Wales, that showed sound winemaking and exciting results. Really expressive, and completely natural, were the wines of Tillingham, near Rye in East Sussex (not far from Hastings). The driving force is Ben Walgate, who also acts as cellar master and winemaker. All his ferments are wild, and he works with steel, oak and clay. He has some really interesting work with Georgian qvevri going on. But now…

PN Rosé 2018 (Tillingham Wines): A pét nat of mainly ortega variety (68%), the rest müller thurgau, dornfelder, rondo and pinot noir. The grapes are sourced from a number of growers, so there is also a mixture of soils and elevations. It was fermented in ambient temperatures. No filtration, fining or sulphur additions. The colour is salmon pink, has some natural sediment; a fruity aroma including gooseberry, rhubarb, some yeasty notes; refreshing acidity, easy drinking.

Serena and Ben of Tillingham

Austria

From Austria there were many splendid wines to chose from, and I could have written a long piece of praise only about the three chosen ones. Sepp of Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster were there with delicate orange wines and much more. Claus Preisinger has become a favourite with his stylish grüners, other whites, and his ground-breaking blaufränkisch reds. The “prize” goes to Christian Tschida this time, for his many superb offerings from the hot Neusiedlersee area.

Laissez-Faire 2015 (C. Tschida): This is a blend of pinot blanc and riesling (though I think it used to be a varietal riesling). Made in big barrels, no racking, no no…Christian is hinting to the laissez-faire philosophy, isn’t he? The wine is yellow with orange hints, slightly pétillant; very fruity, appley with hints of anise and fennel; super acidity reach the tongue, it’s rich, plays with oxidation. Very interesting, and very enjoyable drinking.

Christian Tschida (right) with Jimmy “just a friend”

Spain

Spain is one of my preferred countries, and very well represented on this blog. It was nice to see Pedro Olivares again, and taste his diverse portfolio of wines from sea level to 1700 meters in Murcia, Jaén and València. It’s always a pleasure to taste the cool wines of Pedro Rodríguez of Adegas Guimaro in Ribeira Sacra. Daniel Jiménez-Landi of Comando G has worked hard for the Gredos (or: Cebreros) region, since he crossed over from the family farm in Toledo. For many years now he brought to the limelight some of the most elegant, mineral and simply inspiring wines that the country has to present. I use this opportunity to express my deepest compassion for all that is lost in the recent terrible fires (vineyards, trees and land).

El Tamboril 2016 (Comando G): This wine outside the program is sourced from a 0.2 hectares vineyard of garnacha blanca and garnacha gris on sandy quartz and granite at 1.230 metres. It’s a result of the latest harvest. Whole bunches are pressed into concrete eggs, before 10 months in old French oak. The wine is light yellow; aroma of wild flowers and herbs, mature apples, some  ginger; full, concentrated and long, with super acidity. A great modern Spanish white.

Dani (left) with his friend and fellow Gredos vintner Alfredo

Portugal

Portugal has a similar position for me, and I taste some of the wines quite often. Pedro Marques’ expressive, natural Vale da Capucha wines from the north of the Lisboa region are always worth a re-taste. The same can be said about Vasco Croft’s Aphros range from the country’s northernmost region Minho. Herdade do Cebolal on the Alentejo coast, in the southern part of Setúbal, was new to me. Luis had brought several interesting wines from small plots with a variety of soils.

Imerso 2015 (sea version) (Herdade do Cebolal): The main focus of interest this time was a wine that had been aged 10-18 metres under water, in collaboration with a professional diver that knows the coast intimately. We also tasted it alongside an “on land-version”. And it must be said that the underwater wine was softer, more elegant. Maybe the maturation is faster. The colour was cherry red; aroma of plums, with a vegetal component; round in the mouth, quite polished.

The underwater version of Imerso alongside its “on-land” counterpart

Georgia

We now move out of “the old world” and into an even older wine world. Well probably. Anyway, Georgia has long traditions, and a long unbroken tradition of wines made in qvevri, big clay pots. When we also take into account the country’s orange wines it’s no wonder that Georgia has become such a wine pilgrimage destination lately. Iago Bitarishvili from the Kartli region offered some demanding wines. Some were aromatic, some with an intriguing mix of waxy texture and bitter taste. These wines I want to re-taste. Iberieli is a family producer (named Topuridze) located in Guria to the west and Kakheti to the east. Like the two other producers presented here they use the most familiar Georgian grapes like mtsvane, rkatsiteli and saperavi. They have also taken up the tradition of qvevri making. On to something more familiar: I have tasted Pheasant’s Tears’ wines at several occasions. But this was the first time I had met John Wurdeman, the man behind the label.

Tsolikauri-Vani 2018 (Pheasant’s Tears): This time I tasted just a few wines. A really interesting wine was the Tsolikauri-Vani. Tsolikauri is a widespread variety in the west. It has a light skin, and John tells it gives fine acidity, good for semi-dry and semi-sweet wines. Vani is a place, and if my memory doesn’t fail me it’s here that the wine comes from. The winery is in Kakheti though. The wine is light in colour, with just a hint of orange; aroma of white flowers, apples, tea, some citrus; it’s quite waxy in the mouth, well-balanced and, needless to say, with a good acidity.

John Wurdeman, with Gela Patalishvili

In next chapter from the Real Wine fair we will follow the orange wine track and also move over to other continents.

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Wine of the Week

Black Friday

The grape saperavi is so dark in color it’s called black in Georgian, according to producer Pheasant’s Tears. During the last few years I have tasted quite a few saperavi wines, and the colour varies from very deep, dark red to opaque black. This one is probably the Georgian saperavi most widely found outside its homeland.

Georgia has a 8.000 year long unbroken history of fermenting and ageing the wines in qvevri, big clay vessels lined with beeswax and buried under the ground, where the temperature is stable. All Pheasant’s Tears’ wines are made according to this tradition, and with a low-interventional approach.

As pointed out in many blogposts I appreciate this way of making wine, without any oak to disturb the natural flavours of the grape. One could also say that the way the beeswax is treated, or whether it is applied at all, is also a topic (and a discussion too long for this post), but generally speaking clay is more respectful to the grape than wood.

pheasant-t

(photo: courtesy of Pheasant’s Tears)

Pheasant’s Tears is found in the Kakheti region. Here in the eastern part of the country, besides the snow-covered Caucasus, the family of winemaker Gela Patalishvili has been making wine for more than 8 generations. In summer there is more than 14 hours of sunlight a day, and the evenings are cooled down by the breezes from the mountains. The soil has limestone, chalk and dark clay over sandy loam mixed with gravel, that gives good drainage.

Though the family has been farmers for a long time it was only in 2007, when American John Wurdeman joined forces, that the modern company came to being, and 2009 was the first vintage to be bottled.

The must underwent a spontaneous fermentation, 10 days maceration with skins, and the finished wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Just a slight amount of SO2 (10 mg) was added before bottling.

 pheasants-t-saperavi

Saperavi 2013 (Pheasant’s Tears)

Black as ink, as a november night, dense. Ink, peppery, raisiny aroma. In spite of the black colour saperavi wines are often juicy, grapey, with not at all the extremely powerful body and tannin structure as indicated by the colour, nor a very long aftertaste. This one is just like that, surprisingly drinkable. Highly personal, deliciously different!

Price: Medium

Food: Lamb, pig, fowl and game. Try with mature, hard cheeses

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