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Wine Chords Posts

Wine of the Week

Real Rabigato

Last week I visited Mateus Nicolau de Almeida in Foz Côa, in the Douro Superior. This is really the land of rabigato. One of his rabigato whites I was coincidentally offered at the Prova wine bar in the center of Porto some days later.

Mateus comes from a family that has made wine for several generations, and in 2015 he set up his own project. He is dedicated to explore the characteristics of the terroir. This can be seen in the Eremitas project, that comprises three wines, all from the same variety, but reflecting various terroirs.

Amon de Kelia originates from a vineyard planted in moderately deep quartz soils at an altitude of 500 metres. The grapes are macerated in granite for 3 hours. Then they pressed in a vertical press, and the must is racked by gravity into cement in an underground cellar, where it ferments spontaneously without temperature control.

Eremitas Amon de Kelia 2022 (Mateus Nicolau de Almeida)

Light straw. Discrete aromatics with yellow fruits, flowers and a mineral touch. More expressive in the mouth, with good volume, it’s fruity, fresh, and with a nicely integrated acidity.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

This is not a love song

This wine was offered in a private club tasting last Monday. It’s a low alcohol-high freshness wine. In fact the acidity is almost as insisting as the Public Image Ltd song of the same name. It should work well then, with risottos, rcreamy pastas or with tasty Austrian sausages.

It comes from 80 year old vines in Steiner Schreck, the steepest of all Kremstal sites, and is farmed biodynamically. We are around 320 meters above sea level, and the subsoil consists of gneiss and granite.

The grapes were pressed very slowly for two days in a self-made tree press. The pressing process itself is reductive, but afterwards the juice was deliberately exposed to oxidation. The juice was fermented spontaneously and aged for two and a half years on the lees in an amphora made in Bordeaux. During fermentation, a tiny percentage destemmed grapes were added, to restart the fermentationvim in an intercellular way, like in carbonic maceration. The wine was lightly sulphured.

This is not a Love Song 2020 (Heidelinde & Markus Lang)


Light golden yellow. Concentrated aromas of gooseberry, green apples, flowers, lemon and a touch of herbs. On the palate it’s structured from the acidity, and a fine-grained texture from the terracotta. It’s got a touch of price and saltiness. It’s a wine with tension and electricity.

Price: High

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Wine of the Week

Merlot from the East

I came across this wine at Katla, a wine bar with a decent Burgundy list but few pretentions, on a corner of central Oslo, one Thursday night not long ago.

The vineyard is located on the east side of Bordeaux, and comes under the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. The vines are south and southwest facing on clay and limestone, overlooking the Garonne River in the village of Cambes. The vines are some 30 years old, and the cultivation is organic (formally in conversion).

The blend is 80% merlot and 20% malbec. The vinification was traditional, the maturing was done in big vats and smaller barrels.

Domaine de Saint Amand 2019 (Dom. de Saint Amand)

Dark cherry red. Aroma of mature dark fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry), leather and smoke. Good volume, dense fruit, velvety tannins. Quite simple, but fresh and good.

Price: Medium

Food: Barbecue

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Wine of the Week

Soulful Tempier

Chance had it that the same vintage of Tempier that I tasted when visiting the domaine in 2013, appeared at a dinner last week. Tempier may be most famous for their stylish rosés. I am a huge fan of their reds (not to say: whites).

From my visit to Tempier

A little piece of history. When Lucie “Lulu” Tempier married Lucien Peyraud in 1936, her father gave them Domaine Tempier, a farm that had been in the family since 1834, just outside the Mediterranean village of Bandol. Tasting a pre-phylloxera bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol (a wedding gift from his father-in-law) inspired Lucien to research the terroir of Bandol extensively. Up until that point, old vineyards planted with mourvèdre had been systematically replanted to higher-yielding varietals. However, more research not only showed its historical roots to the area, but the grape proved to be more resistant to oxidation, producing wines with great aging potential. By 1941, with the assistance of neighboring vignerons, Lucien worked with the I.N.A.O. (Institut National des Appellations d’Origines) to establish Bandol as its own A.O.C.

This story is told by Anthony Lynch, American importer, whose family are close friends with the people behind Tempier. Lynch calls Lucien the godfather of Bandol and the man who revived mourvèdre to its former glory. And he continues, “if any wine can be said to have soul, it’s Tempier”.

From my visit to Tempier

The wine comes from various sites with clay and calcareous soils. The varieties ate predominantly mourvèdre with small quantities of grapes such as grenache, cinsault and carignan. It was aged in large oak casks some 18 months before bottling.

Bandol 2011 (Domaine Tempier)

Cherry red with brick nuances. Rich nose of mature fruits (cherry, plums), herbs (cinnamon, thyme), mushroom, a touch of barnyard (maybe game). Good volume in the mouth, still plenty of fruit and some fine tannins, hints of earth and toast. Subtle and balanced, maybe at its peak now.

Price: High

2011
2011
2011
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Wine of the Week

Pleasant Montepulciano

This is a wine with great value, typical of its land and grape variety. The Bianchi-Bernetti family, the owner of the Umani Ronchi label, has been into winemaking since 1957. They started in Marque with verdicchio. Today they operate in three Italian wine regions.

The montepulciano grapes in Abruzzo are trained in the pergola system. Montipagano is a single-varietal Montepulciano from organic cultivation.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Montipagano 2021 (Umani Ronchi)

Violet colour. Black fruits (blackberry), plums, white flowers with herbs and earthy tones. Medium-bodied, rounded young tannins, fresh fruit and a pleasant acidity.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Tasty white Toro

I say Toro, because wine lovers will know where it is. The wine is given the more generic designation Castilla y León though, but the label gives the exact address and also shows the coordinates.

we are in the southern village of El Pego, where Álvar de Dios Hernández took over his grandfather’s century-old vineyards in 2008.

Vagüera comes from a single vineyard in El Maderal further north. It sits 950 metres above sea level and surrounded by an extensive cork oak forest that shields the vines from the sun. It’s made from doña blanca grapes planted in the 1920s. They were direct-pressed, barrel-fermented and aged at least 12 months in the same barrels. The wine is neither filtered nor clarified.

Vagüera 2018 (Álvar de Dios)

Light yellow with green hints. Intense aroma with citrus (lime), green apples, white flowers. Tasty, with good volume and concentration, a refreshing acidity and good length. It’s direct, but it has also a deeper layer. No oakiness, except that it’s breathing well (from the microoxidation). Wonderful balance, and also ageing capacities.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Genuine gorgollasso

On the last day in Mallorca, 3rd January, I visited Carlos Rodríguez Furthmann in the small town of Selva. He is a veteran vigneron, but he does not own any vineyards, and for this project he buys all the grapes. This creates freedom, but in reality he says he continues to work with only the same few farmers.

The wine is made from gorgollassa, a red indigenous grape variety that Carlos calls his favourite. Elegant and subtle are two adjectives that he uses to describe it. One part of the wine was aged in 500-litre French oak barrels, another in a Mallorcan clay amphora and the remaining in stainless steel. Spontaneous fermentation. Nothing was added to the wine apart from a low dose of sulphites. It was not clarified or filtered. 

Gargo 2019 (Selva Vins)

Ruby red. Red fruits (cherry, raspberry), herbs, blackthorn (endrina), a bit earthy. Light and fresh in the mouth, smooth tannins, a slight bitterness in the finish, everything well-balanced.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

An albillo with personality

La Chanin was presented by the sommelier of La Gracia bar in Murcia as a super cool orange wine. And it sure was. Orange wines can lack interest if they just have some extra skin-contact and miss the acidity to match. This one had the underlying concentration and excelled in electricity and vividness.

Silvia and Kike Srados started their Cható Gañán project in 2014. It was born out of the need to take care of and restore the respect for the old garnacha and albillo vines of Cebreros, where the whole family lives. This is a way to honour all those farmers and peasants -gañanes- who have preserved the exceptional old vineyards that the bodega can now enjoy and work with.

The wine is made of albillo real grapes from a century-old vineyard, at about 780 meters of altitude, with granite soil and a large presence of quartz. It is completely destemmed and left with skins for approximately three weeks. Spontaneous fermentation starts with native yeasts. It is made in stainless steel and lees are stirred for five months. It is also aged for five months in French barrels of various uses. Natural stabilization was secured by the cold. The wine is not clarified or filtered. Just a minimal dose of added sulfur. Bottled, labeled and sealed by hand.

La Chanin 2020 (Cható Gañán)

Deep golden colour, almost amber. Mature apples, apricots, yeast, iodine and a touch of honey. Full on the palate, good concentration, slight tannin, and the acidity contributes to an electric, vivid sensation. A slight bitterness towards the end. It hints to an amontillado too, and surely has a great personality

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Back to Bullas

Here is a Bullas wine once introduced te me by La Gracia, a fabulous natural wine bar in the centre of Murcia. It does not bear the official seal though. I’ll investigate on that one day.

María José Fernández Llamas and Patri Morillo are its makers. It comes from monastrell and garnacha tintorera, with ages ranging between 8 and 50 years. The clusters are trodden with intact stems. Alcoholic fermentation is controlled below 25º. The soils consist of clay and calcareous clay textures, deep and rich.

Negrete 2021 (Negre-T Blue Wines)

Deep purple. Attractive and seductive aromas of mature fruits, herbs. Full and juicy in the mouth, with gentle tannins and a pleasant acidity. Easy fruit-driven drinking.

Price: Low

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