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Wine Chords Posts

Wine of the Week

Saravá’s Skin Contact

I have met Miguel Viseu and his wife Leli Dalla Costa several times at the Simplesmente Vinho fair. And I have also seen Miguel at Aphros, where he is winemaker. I tasted their whole range of inspiring wines earlier this year, and got the chance to re-taste two of them when they appeared in my local market. The label of this one reads only Saravá, but it’s the skin contact version, curtimenta in Portuguese, as opposed to the “normal” white loureiro.

The grapes are loureiro 70% and trajadura 30%, grown in the Lima valley. It had 5 months maceration on skins, mostly destemmed, with a short ageing in chestnut and clay.

Brazilian exclamation

Saravá 2022 (Galactic Wines)

Yellow colour. Aroma of citrus zest, white flowers and a mineral touch. Juicy looks the mouth, with a fresh acidity and a saline finish. A vibrant and balanced wine with careful skin contact.

Price: Medium

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Wine bars and restaurants and Wine of the Week

A Douro at Bar Douro

Last Thursday I popped into the Bar Douro (London Bridge) and had a few Portuguese wines. One of them was Folias de Baco‘s irresistible pét nat.

But first, Bar Douro opened in 2016 with the aim of bringing a piece of the authentic Portugal to London. Four years later another opened in the City. Max, the owner, is in fact in the family of Churchill’s port, and he spent his childhood days in Portugal. The whole staff takes pride in its passion for the country.

Michael, general manager, in front of a blue and white tiled wall

I have met and visited winemaker Tiago Sampaio several times. He is located near Alijó, one of the coolest places in the Douro. It’s him who runs Folias de Baco, and the family also have a wine bar of that name in Porto. Search the blog for more.

This wine is made with the old method, in French “méthode ancestrale”, means it is bottled with some amount of residual sugar left in the wine, so it can continue fermenting and producing carbon dioxide (which creates the bubbles). The yeasts give the natural cloudiness.

Wine waiter Oliver pours our pet nat

Uivo Pt Nat Branco 2022 (Folias de Baco)

Pale yellow colour, cloudy with discrete bubbles. Aroma of white flowers, peach and grapefruit. Medium bodied, lively and energetic, with a fresh acidity and a saline touch.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Classy Californian at Tempo

This wine concluded a jazz club meeting with tasting at my local wine bar, called Tempo, after the famous bicycles that were once produced in the building.

Scar of the Sea is ru by Mikey and Gina Giugni in San Luis Obispo, California. They work with farmers who practise low-intervention in an attempt to make the viticulture as sustainable as possible. As they say, they want their wines “to tell a story of where they come from, the people who farm them, and reflect each vintage under the California sun.”

You have by now understood that they work organic, and ferment with native yeast. The wines see only a minimum of sulphur additions, and they are not fined or filtrated.

The Bassi Vineyard Pinot Noir is produced from around 25 year old vines on the hillsides of Avila Valley by the coast. It’s in transition to biodynamic certification. It was The fruit was fermented with 70% whole-cluster. The wine was pressed once dry in a wooden basket press then aged for 10 months in old French oak.

Bassi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2022 (Scar of the Sea)

Ruby red. Fruity scent, aroma of raspberry and strawberry, white flowers and herbs. Fine tannins, good body and concentration, fresh acidity. A Californian with class.

Price: High

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Wine of the Week

Our Mann at Elliott’s

Back in London and a busy Borough Market at lunchtime. Elliott’s was opened in 2011 by Brett Redman, from Australia, with the aim of serving only produce sold at the market. It has long been one of my favourites, and you can read a couple of posts here and here.

Andi Mann is based in Eckelsheim, Rheinhessen. He makes lively, energetic wines, organic with some biodynamic methods. The soil is limestone (to which the name Calx alludes), and the age of the vines is around 40 years.

This wine is based on grauburgunder, whose official name is pinot gris. Many of you will know that this variety is not completely “white”. It has red spots, so as a skin-contact wine it will take on a red or reddish colour, depending on the length of contact. (Read about another wine of that kind here.)

Half of the grapes were directly pressed, the other half had fermentation on skins for 2 weeks. The juice was then fermented and stored in large German oak barrels for 1 year. It was bottled without filtration or addition of sulphur.

Calx Grauburgunder 2022 (Andi Mann)

Beautiful blushing colour. Aroma of citrus peel, flowers and ripe peach. Delicate tannins, quite full and juicy, with a fresh acidity. Dangerously quaffable.

Price: Medium

Food: We had it with lightly spiced chicken and beef carpaggio, but it should go with a variety of fish and light meat.

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Wine of the Week

Fresh north Lisboa tinta roriz

This is a wine from a winery that I’ve met several times at the Simplesmente Vinho fair in Porto. Quinta do Olival da Murta is located in the Cadaval area of the Lisboa region, near the mountain range Serra de Montejunto. Joana Vivas and her family make honest low-intervention wines here, only 15 kilometers from the Atlantic ocean, thus giving the wines a fresh, saline character.

José Vivas (photographed at Simplesmente Vinho 2021)

The soils are clay and limestone, and the vines are quite young, around 20 years. The gapes were harvested manually. The bunches were totally de-stemmed without crushing the grapes. Semi-carbonic fermentation was carried out in 500-liter French oak barrels, with indigenous yeasts, for one and a half days. The grapes were gently pressed in a vertical hydraulic press in a wooden basket. The fermentation process ended in barrels. Then it was aged 10 months in used 500 liter French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.

Serra Oca Tinta Roriz 2022 (Quinta do Olival da Murta)

Ruby red. Aromas of fresh fruits (cherry, strawberry), with a layer of wild berries also. Fine tannins, fresh acidity and a saline finish.

Price: Medium-low

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Wine of the Week

Claro’s Colar

I have met Vítor Claro several times, and I’ve had the pleasure to taste his wines at the Simplesmente Vinho fair in Portugal. Vítor is a former chef, and has worked at a well-known restaurant owned by Dirk Niepoort. Now he makes wine together with his partner Rita Ferreira in Portalegre, Alentejo – from vineyards near the winery and in Colares.

They work naturally and so-called low-intervention. The wines are not clarified nor filtered, and sulphite is typically low (around 40mg total). The varieties are local, and the style is fresh, fruit-driven and elegant, with less alcohol than you might expect.

Colar is produced with grapes sourced in a tiny plot by the Adraga beach in the Colares wine region – in limestone soil with clay. Colar means necklace, but the word also hints to where the wine is from. It is made mainly with the red castelão and the white malvasia varieties, and as Vítor puts it, “seasoned” with the red caladoc. After a short maceration, it’s fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 6 months in concrete.

Dominó Colar 2021 (Rita Ferreira & Vítor Claro)

Ruby red. Aromas of red fruits (raspberry, strawberry), backed by flowers and herbs. It has technically a low acidity, but appears fresh and fruity. The weight is light, the tannins soft, and it has a nice salty finish.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Great white Godello

Verónica Ortega has been featured on this blog several times. Here is a bit of background.

Tormenta is a new wine beginning with the 2021 vintage, that has taken over from the fabulous Cal from the same municipality. I tasted this wine in a wine club tonight where my topic was The New Spain, illustrated by ten wines.

We are in the Bierzo area. 0.8 hectares of godello grapes are grown organically in a paraje called Garbanzal in the village San Juan de la Mata, north in the appellation. The vineyard is more than 25 years old on and sits on clay and calcareous soils, at 650 meters altitude. The grapes were harvested manually, destemmed and experienced a night’s cold maceration. The fermentation was spontaneous from native yeasts. It was completed after thirteen months in barrels and amphorae.

Tormenta 2021 (Verónica Ortega)

Light yellow colour. Floral scent with yellow apples, peaches and a hint of sultanas. Delicate in the mouth, dancing between dryness and softness, tasty with a lively acidity, and a marked minerality. It tends towards some sharpness, but this is just held back. A great wine

Price: High

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Wine of the Week

Riffing with Mr. Riffault

I am fully aware that Sébastien Riffault has been in the spotlight for things other than his wines lately. Let’s keep this aside for a while. The quality of his wines can hardly be doubted. Okay, there are people who don’t like the mature style. Some even say they are not typical of Sancerre. Remember that many people believe that the early-harvested commercial yeasted cat’s pee in a gooseberry bush is the real thing. Riffault is, in my opinion, very Sancerre, but clearly a different take.

The sauvignon blanc was planted on limestone and clay some 35 years ago. Akmèniné means “made of stone” in Lithuanian (the nationality of his wife). The grapes were harvested by hand in mid-October, directly pressed without skin contact, 30 percent of the grapes having botrytis. It was then fermented in large old barrels, then aged on the lees. No sulphur added, not fined or filtrated.

Akmèniné 2019 (S. Riffault)

Pale amber. Aroma of mature apples, mango, herbs and yeast. Good volume and concentration, rich, tasty, with ripe fruit and adequate acidity.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

A cool blaufränkisch from Dorli Muhr

Here is a wine from Carnuntum, Niederösterreich that was offered in a private wine club the other day.

Dorli Muhr started wine production in 2002, in Prellenkirchen, that is situated by the Donau and not far from Bratislava, Slovakia. However the family’s wine history stretches all the way back to 1918 when Dorli’s grandmother Katarina received a small vineyard as a wedding gift. Dorli began winemaking on the old vineyard that had belonged to her grandmother. And together with Dirk van der Niepoort, her husband at the time, she expanded the production, mostly with the variety blaufränkisch.

The wine is exactly made of 100% blaufränkisch, from 5 different vineyards in Prellenkirchen with vines between 15 and 35 years old. The grapes were hand-picked and foot-trodden before the must was spontaneously fermented at room temperature. No over-pumping or excess extraction. The wine was aged for 21 months in 3.000-litre old barrels, and bottled unfiltered.

Samt & Seide means literally velvet and silk. I understand that it in German has connotations to extravagance and luxury, especially with regards to clothing. I don’t know the reason for the naming, but I guess we are closer to the literal meaning.

Prellenkirchen Samt & Seide 2020 (Weingut Dorli Muhr)

Deep ruby red. Aroma of cool berries (cherry, blueberry), with white pepper and and earthy note. Juicy in the mouth, with fine dryness, fresh berries, with decent concentration and a dry aftertaste.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Askaneli’s saperavi

The Askaneli winery was founded in 1998 by the Chkhaidze brothers, taking its name from the village of Askana in the Kakheti region.

As the name implies Saperavi Qvevri is made from the saperavi grapes and vinified in qvevri, the typical Georgian earthen vessels.The Askaneli brothers make wine as it has been done for thousands of years in Georgia, still bringing out modern and stylish wines.

Saperavi Qvevri 2020 (Askaneli)

Dark red colour. Aromas of black and red fruits (blackberry, cherry), spices, a touch of earth. It’s quite full-bodied, though not heavy, firm tannins, and good mature fruit.

Price: Medium.

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