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Wine of the Week

Volcanic from Cráter

In 1998, a group of friends started this project in a splendid landscape on the northern slope of the island of Tenerife, between Tacoronte and El Sauzal. They were united in their desire to make wines that freely express the unique terroir marked by the volcanic soil, the Atlantic climate and the native varieties.

The wine is made from listán blanco with a small amount of albillo, made separately. Barrels have not been used, but it aged for 3 months on lees.

Blanco de Cráter 2021 (Cráter)

Light straw coloured. Aroma of citrus (lime), yellow apple, hay, wax. Medium-bodied, creamy with good acidity and concentration, quite long with salt in the finish.

Price: Medium

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Snapshots from a Stavanger tasting

A Portuguese island white was my first wine at yesterday’s tasting at Vinmonopolet, the Norwegian state monopoly. And what a start to the day! Producer Fitapreta is based in Alentejo, but winemaker António Maçanita is very active on the islands. Here is a wine made from palomino grapes grown in Porto Santo, brought to Madeira and finished there. Made with 30% whole bunches, 40 days of maceration, 8 months in used French barrels.

As the company explains on their website: On the island of Madeira, people from Porto Santo are called profetas (prophets), as a response to villões (villains), which the people of Porto Santo call Madeirans. The last nickname comes from vila (city), which thus takes on a double connotation. The wines of Profetas e Villões therefore reflect this duality.

Listrão dos Profetas 2021 (Profetas e Villões/ Fitapreta): Pale yellow color with some green. Intense nose with lemon peel, iodine and a flinty minerality. Rich and textured in the mouth, full of flavors with super acidity and a salty finish. Very persistent. This is Portuguese island white taken to a new level.

I have known António and Sara of Casa de Mouraz for many years now. Here I got the chance to re-taste two of their magnificent Dão wines. The Encruzado 2022 is one of the best examples of that variety that I know of. It’s fresh with notes of citrus, flowers and minerals, grapey in the mouth and full of flavours. Unfiltered, it comes really close to nature and the true quality of the grape. Casa de Mouraz Dão 2021 is a cherry red wine that smells like home at their estate, pine forest, red fruits and herbs. In the mouth it’s juicy with some spice.

Importer Non Dos also offered three magnificent sparklers. Two of them were from British producer Oxney, from East Sussex. Oxney 2019 is a complex wine with apples, peach, flowers, nuts and some brioche. Non vintage Oxney Rosé, with 25% seyval blanc, shows red berry fruit, apples and kind, with good concentration of flavours. They also represent Champagne house Fleury, here their Blanc de Noirs non vintage, that came with mature apples, dried fruits and biscuits, along with citrus and a stony minerality. Creamy in the mouth with good concentration.

Guro also poured many good wines that came with unbeatable prices. Various colours of Meinklang was among them. Their Rosa pouch (1,5 liters) in 2023 version was fabulous, with a clear-cut fruit of red berries and herbs, and with a distinct acidity leading to a delicately bitter finish. In spite of its everyday lightweight image it has a decent concentration.

The Wine Merchant is a subsidiary of Non Dos. Pierre here offered champagnes from Colin, that stands for an elegant, less autolysis-marked style. Their Parallèle is a long time favourite, clean, apple and citrus-driven with a layer of anise and herbs.

Liquid is the one importer that is supplying the largest number of Georgian wines to the Norwegian market, here represented by Lasha, himself Georgian. New in their portfolio is Dakishvili. Giorgi and Temuri Dakishvili, father and son, make wines from the family vineyards in Kakheti using the traditional qvevri method. They don’t hesitate to blend in international varieties with the local either. The Family Selection Cuvée 2021 is a beautiful blend of saperavi with cabernet sauvignon, an exciting very dark, sturdy wine that showcases a typical cabernet pepper quality. 

Selected Wine Partners presented a bunch of wines from Koncho, also of Kakheti, Georgia. Orange 2021 from rkatsiteli and kisi was light amber in colour, with evident skin-contact on the nose, with notes of orange peel and apricot, along with a full mouth-feel and a distinct acidity.

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Wine of the Week

Silky spätburgunder

Weingut Georg Mosbacher is a family-run vineyard comprising 20 hectares of vineyards. The vineyards are located around the picturesque village of Forst in Pfalz. The farm is run today by the third generation Sabine Mosbacher-Düringer and her husband Jürgen Düringer.

The vineyards are protected by the high Haardt mountains, which lie in a semicircle around Forst. The grapes are hand-picked. The wine undergoes a cold maceration for 4-5 days before the must is spontaneously fermented in large oak barrels over 3 weeks. Aged for 12 months in used barriques and tonneau.

Spätburgunder 2021 (Georg Mosbacher)

Cherry red. Aroma of raspberry, cherry with hints of price and licorice. Silky palate with good fruit, adequate acidity and sweetish hint in the finish. It had a sense of CO2 that disappeared with airing.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Oslavje from Oslavia

Radikon is a classic in the natural wine world. I took this bottle from my own cellar last week for a dinner with wine.

The winery is located in Oslavia in the Italian province of Gorizia, on the Slovenian border. The company owns 18 hectares of vineyards on steep slopes. Stanislao (Stanko) Radikon took over in 1980 and now runs the winery with his wife Suzana and their son Saša. They don’t use chemical additives at all and reduce treatments to a minimum, both in the vineyards and in the cellar.

The yields are unbelievably low, something like 4 or 5 bunches per vine. The background information that I have for this wine says 60% chardonnay and 40% sauvignon. I would have guessed some pinot grigio, as I am quite sure there is some red in there. Let’s investigate a bit on that. After de-stemming the grapes was put in oak vats, where maceration went with 3 or 4 daily stirrings. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation the vats were filled and the wine stayed in contact with the skins until December. After racking the wine rested in casks (25 to 35 hl), for about 36 months. Bottling was made without any filtration or clarification, in one liter and half liter bottles, with no added SO2.

Oslavje 2012 (Radikon)

Copper coloured, slightly cloudy. Perfumed aroma with orange peel, mango and a touch volatile acidity at first (giving way to something honeyed). Full-bodied with a dry mouthfeel, good concentration and a high acidity, lots of fruit, and a long aftertaste. It’s a wine with a lot of nerve and tension, and an underlying cool sweetness, though technically dry.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Burja’s beauty

This beautiful Slovenian white was presented a few years ago. Read some background information here.

In short: Burja is located in the Vipava valley about 40 km east of the Italian border. Primož Lavrenčič has a holistic approach and farms organically and according to biodynamic principles.

The grape composition here is laški rizling (Italian riesling or Welschriesling) 30%, malvazija (d’Istria) 30%, rebula (ribolla gialla) 30%, others 10%. 7 days skin-maceration in steel, 10 months ageing in barrel.

Bela 2020 (Burja Estate)

Deep golden. Aroma of mature fruits, orange peel peach, herbs, white pepper. Full on the palate, a touch of nuts and a natural, integrated acidity, salty in the finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, pig, veal, grilled and white fish, tasty salads

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Wine of the Week

Unveiled: Douro white

After Simplesmente Vinho I visited Luis Seabra’s winery in the Douro. Luis himself was sick in bed, but Gonçalo Pinto was there. He showed us around, my Brazilian collegue Didu Russo and me. And we got to taste an impressive range of wines.

Véu de Xisto 2015 was one. This wine I tasted during the 2021 edition of the fair. Véu signifies that it has spent three years under a veil of flor. It was moved to stainless steel for another 2 years’ rest before bottling. The grapes are rabigato 70%, côdega do larinho 15% and the rest gouveio, from 30 year old vines in the Meda region of Douro Superior.

Véu de Xisto 2015 (Luis Seabra)

Golden colour. Aroma of yeasts, flowers, iodine, orange. Full and rounded in the mouth, good acidity and salt, with an attractive oxidative touch. A lot of energy and character.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Renvivas, a remarkable rufete

I spent 24 hours in Sierra de Salamanca, the smallest DO in Spain, and visited four of its fourteen producers. Viñas Serranas wasn’t originally on the program. But luckily I had a couple of hours break. And vinegrower Bosi Jiménez, who delivers grapes to Bodegas Cámbrico and showed me their winery, gave me Miquel Udina’s contacts. So the next day I arrived at their bodega (a former fruit cooperative) in the small village of Cepeda and tasted the whole range.

Bosi and Miquel are two of the four partners in this interesting project. Like in all the bodegas here the ingenious rufete is the dominant grape, a really promising variety. They also work with rufete blanco (no relation) and other local grapes. They own 12 hectares, small plots high up on terraces and always in goblet (called en vaso in Spain).

Renvivas can be regarded their top wine. It’s based on rufete sourced from a less than half a hectare plot in Miranda del Castañar, planted in 1930 on a steep hillside. But it also contains a small percentage of rufete blanco. The soil is varied with presence of both granite and the area’s special type of hard slate called corneana.

The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and partly whole clusters in stainless steel, then aged in barrels of old French oak. Low-sulphur, unfined and unfiltered.

Renvivas 2019 (Viñas Serranas)

Cherry red. Bright aroma of red fruits (cherry, raspberry), herbs, stone fruit. But it also has another layer of autumn leaves and smoke. Medium-bodied, textured palate with very fine tannins, great freshness and a long finish. It’s full of flavour, and yet so light and delicate.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Nicely textured bastardo

Textura is another winery that I have known a little, but at Simplesmente Vinho I tasted the whole range. I find their portfolio sound and solid, with some stars.

Partners in Textura are Marcelo Araújo, a former hedge fund manager, and his wife, an academic professor. It was started in 2018 in Dão, on the slopes of Serra da Estrela. They work 28 ha of organic certified vineyards in Vila Nova de Tazem and Penalva do Castelo. Oenology is led by Luis Seabra. Appropriate for a winery named Textura, in 2020 they acquired a century-old textile factory in São Paio, on the banks of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. This is now renovated, and incorporated into the winery.

D. Áurea is a tribute to Marcelo’s grandmother Áurea. It’s a 100% bastardo from the sub-region Serra da Estrela, at an altitude of 600 meters and in granite soils. It ferments in an open stainless steel tank (lagar) with 30% whole clusters and stays with the skins for 15 days after pressing. Then it ages for 1 year in old French barrels.

D. Áurea 2021 (Textura Wines)

Light ruby. Delicate aromas of red fruits (raspberry, cherry), flowery with an earthy tone. Nicely textured, with fine-grained tannins, and a fresh integrated acidity. Expressive, elegant wine for immediate consumption or medium term ageing.

Price: High

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Wine of the Week

A for Amazing

I had met Pedro Coelho several times at the Simplesmente Vinho fair in Porto, and I have tasted a few wines now and then. This year I took the opportunity to taste the whole range. Which I don’t regret. I knew his white Douro wines were extraordinary. But his rosé and reds were outstanding too.

Pedro uses only old vineyards, always spontaneous fermentations and minimal intervention. He picks early to obtain the best possible natural acidity, and the alcohol levels are generally low. A vividness and vibrancy shines through in all his wines. The Pormenor winery is located in Barcos on the left bank in Cima Corgo, but he sources grapes from high altitudes in several parts of the Douro.

I could have picked anything for this column, but I finally chose a quite unusual white. A de Arinto is exactly that, a varietal arinto from 40 year old vines in granite with clay – at 650 meters altitude in the Alijó area. It underwent a 12 hours maceration in neutral oak with whole bunches, before a gentle extraction. It clocks in at 12% alcohol.

A de Arinto 2022 (Pormenor)

Pale yellow colour. Aroma of mature lemon, some apricot and minerals. Lively, fresh acidity with a waxy, spicy fruit, and a long, salty finish. It is balanced and appealing now, but has an acidity to keep.

Price: Medium

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Simplesmente Vinho 2024 – Introduction and Georgia Day

I am back from another rewarding visit to Simplesmente Vinho in Porto. They call themselves an off-salon, an alternative event. But the fair has long since become important in itself. And needless to say, it’s always worth a visit. Simplesmente Vinho showcases smaller family businesses, and it’s a perfect opportunity to keep up with the wine trade of the country. Music and arts is a part of it. Every year they invite artisans from one specific wine producing country. This year Georgia was honoured with a whole day with an impressive program. This was the 12th edition of the fair, now held in the historic toll building Alfândega do Porto. Nowadays this is a convention center down by the Douro river, a comfortable and spacious site perfect for the event. Thanks to primus motor João Roseira and his staff, several of whom happen to be among his own family!

The twelfth edition presented 112 vignerons from Portugal and Spain, and a further 11 from Georgia. It started one day earlier, with a special program: a conference, the film “Our Blood is Wine” by Jeremy Quinn, and a tasting of wines from the Georgian guests to the fair. Attention was also drawn to the Portuguese talha wines, today kept alive in Alentejo. Choir singing is another cultural feature that Georgia shares with Alentejo, and the Georgian ensemble Shvidkatsa appeared during the charity art auction held during that day’s official dinner.

Here are just a few of the many wonderful Georgian wines from that first night.

Tamar and Zurab of Iberieli

Zurab Topuridze of winery Iberieli was one of the speakers. At the fair he presented several elegant wines. Among them was Saperavi 2022, in a light style not so often seen. The grapes were de-stemmed, and there was a careful ten days maceration. This resulted in a ruby red, raspberry fruity, fresh and appealing wine.

Iberieli operates both in Guria region of Western Georgia, where they manage 2 hectars of young vineyards, and in Kakheti in the east, where they have 5 ha of mixed ages. The name Iberieli refers to the ancient people in Caucasus, ancestors of Georgians, who are believed to be the first winemakers.

Archil and Patricia of Meskhishvili

Cousins Ilia and Archil represent the fourth generation of wine producers at Meskhishvili. In spite of this they started only in 2018 to produce wine commercially, with the construction of a small winery near Lake Lisi, in the outskirts of Tbilisi. They work vineyards with a minimum of 40 years in Kakheti, naturally with minimal intervention. The vinification process takes place in qvevri. While Ilia lives back home in Georgia, Archil didn’t have to travel far, as he now is running his own restaurant in Caldas da Rainha, on the Portuguese coast. Their Venero Rosé 2022 from saperavi was a real charmer; light ruby, with red fruits, completed with grape seed, and very fresh fruits in the mouth. Lisi Wine 2021 from the khikhvi grape was light amber in colour, rich, somewhat honeyed with apricot, careful tannins. It tended towards bitterness in the end, strengthening its gastronomic potential.

Ramaz Nikoladze

Ramaz Nikoladze is a pioneer of West-Georgian qvevri wines, and president of the Georgian slow food movement. The winery is built on the site of his great grandfather’s vineyard, in the village of Nakhshirgele, in Imereti. He manages 1.5 ha of vineyards of organically grown tsitska and tsolikouri grapes, ranging from four to 100 years old. Fermentation and aging is carried out naturally in qvevri, without skins for tsitska grapes, and with skins for tsolikouri grapes. His Tsitska 2022 was a superb light yellow coloured wine, with both flowery and mineral aromas, and with a fresh acidity to match. A bit more textured, and peach-scented, was Tsoulikouri 2022, a fabulous wine that carried with it a sense of Georgian history and tradition.

The tram in Ribeira, between the Alfândega and my hotel
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