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Wine of the Week

Kinki from Bierzo

Bierzo is divided according to the so-called Burgundy model, with a classification pyramid. The highest level is parajes, that means specific sites, like a vineyard. Verónica Ortega’s wine Kinki is made from the paraje called La Llamilla in the commune of Cobrana. The vineyard has an altitude of 750 meters, and a soil composition of blue slate combined with some clay. The vines are 90-100 years old. Like most bierzo wines the main grape is mencía, here assisted by small percentages of palomino and godello, both white grapes.

The grapes were destemmed and poured into stainless steel tanks for spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts and a short maceration of about 10 days. The wine was then aged in a combination of French oak barrels and an 800 liter clay amphora.

Kinki 2020 (V. Ortega)

Light red. Intense aroma, complex with red fruits (wild strawberry, raspberry), currants and menthol. Fresh in the mouth, with a light texture. Electric, uplifting, elegant and saline.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Torremilanos for the future

Torremilanos of Ribera del Duero is a traditional bodega that is currently taking interesting steps into the future. I have during the last months re-tasted several of their wines, and I also visited their hotel and wine shop during my last trip to the area.

The winegrowing tradition of Finca Torremilanos, or officially: Bodegas Peñalba López, dates back to 1903. It was in 1975 that Pablo Peñalba López acquired the estate and the brand. This was seven years before Ribera del Duero was even recognized as an appellation. He immediately began producing estate-bottled wines, moving away from the former practice of selling bulk grapes to the local cooperative.

By the early 2000’s, the eldest son, Ricardo, had become responsible for the wines. He began investigating organic and biodynamic farming methods, including horse-plowing, hand picking, and native-yeast fermentation. Since 1988 they have even produced their own barrels of French and American oak at their in-house cooperage.

Hotel Torremilanos, now a part of the bodega

Finca Torremilanos currently has 195 hectares of vineyards, surrounding the winery by the national road 122, outside Aranda de Duero. The site is varied in terms of land composition, orientation, altitude and microclimate. The vineyards are all located on the southern margin of the Duero river at an altitude of 800 to 900 meters. The vines grow in a range of soils -sand, rounded river stones, clay, limestone- and the parcels experience a number of different sun exposures. At Finca Torremilanos they practice dry farming cultivating the vineyards without herbicides or insecticides following the criteria of biodynamic agriculture. In 2015 they became the first producer in the appellation to be Demeter certified.

The Montecastrillo is made from mainly tempranillo and some 3% cabernet sauvignon. It was macerated between 5 to 7 days and fermented at 19-24° in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. After malolactic fermentation in steel the final coupage was carried out. Aging for 6 months in French and American oak barrels from their own cooperage (20% first and second use barrels). Lightly filtered.

Montecastrillo 2020 (Bod. Peñalba López)

Dark cherry red. Aroma of red and dark fruits (blackberry, cherry), over a layer of spice (cinnamon). Fruity in the mouth, with an earthy tone, good tannins and a fine acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: Suckling pig and other roasts, casseroles, tapas and charcuterie

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Wine of the Week

Dumenge Calling

No, it’s not a cheap joke, but the name of the wine. I am told it was made for the Garage Bar of Barcelona, in a tiny quantity of 100 bottles. I bought it from the Bendito bar in Madrid. (Read a short article from Garage here and a review of Bendito here.)

Dumenge Calling is monovarietal xarel.lo produced by Celler Dumenge in a garage in Penedès, Catalunya. The winery calls it an “ancestral”, or a pét nat. All their wines are made with a deep respect for the vineyard, seeking the highest possible expression of the grape and the soil. They opt for natural agriculture, always with minimal intervention, which results in original and true wines.

This wine has been aged in amphora, which allows it to perfectly preserve the freshness of the varietal, and at the same time it adds to the complexity.

Dumenge Calling 2017 (Celler Dumenge)

Light yellow, slightly turbid. Fruity aromas of pears, white flowers and grapefruit. Fresh fruit on the palate, vibrant acidity, quite full and with a long finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Shellfish, white fish, tapas, and many Asian-style dishes

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Articles

Beaujolais twins

This is a followup to the Beaujolais article last Friday. Today I came across two wines made by Pierre Dupond. One of the twins showed freshness and elegance, while the other was more bold and ripe. We will come back to that, but first a look at the background.

The Dupond family has its roots in Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. It began with Antoine Dupond, who was originally from Beaujolais, but began commercializing his wines in Lyon and St. Etienne in the 1860s. His son Joanny expanded the family’s estates to the Rhône area. Hervé Dupond, fifth generation, is today leading the business. Hervé has expanded production, building partnerships with nearby winegrowers and neighboring families that the they have known for generations. Each year Hervé selects the best possible plots to make his wines. A traditional method of winemaking is practiced to ensure wines produced are reflective of the land. Ageing takes place in concrete vats that allow for ideal temperatures.

The gamay grapes were handpicked and underwent carbonic maceration with indigenous yeasts. These are natural wines, both with low sulphur (one with nothing added). One is with minimal filtration, one without. To sum up: Sans Soufre Ajouté is the most fresh/acidic of the twins, while Non Filtré is the most ripe and fullbodied wine. Both are highly recommended.

Beaujolais-Village Sans Soufre Ajouté 2022 (Pierre Dupond)

Dark red, blue hint. Cherry, raspberry. Medium body, fine-grained tannins, fresh acidity.

Beaujolais Nouveau Non Filtré 2022 (Pierre Dupond)

Dark red, blue hint, a touch more dense than the other wine. Blackberry, eucalyptus, chocolate/coffee earthy tones. Medium-bodied with ripe fruit, a bit structured (more than the other wine), rounded acidity.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Thivin’s new Beaujolais

This year I haven’t tasted as many of the new Beaujolais as usual. It’s the first time I have tried Thivin‘s Nouveau, though I already knew several of their other wines.

Thivin is one of the top domaines in the Côte de Brouilly, Château Thivin is built on an ancient volcano back in the 15th century, thus one of the oldest. Claude and Evelyne, third generation of the Geoffray family, are now managing the estate with their son Claude-Edouard. They encourage biodiversity planting herbs and flowers between the rows of the more than 50 years old vines, plowing regularly and using natural composts to keep their vines healthy.

The vines for this cuvée are trained in goblet. The grapes are handpicked. Semi-carbonic maceration is used for extraction of the fruit, and the vats are handled by gravity to ensure gentle production.

Gamay Noir Vignes d’Ecussol 2022 (Thivin)

Red with blueish hint. Very much raspberry, plus some currant, fresh and young, with some structure and a nice acidity.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Indigenous

Jura is a small, yet diverse wine region. Stéphane Tissot is one of its most dynamic and creative producers, and boasts a huge varieties of styles. Here he has made a sparkling wine with vin de paille in its dosage. And vin de paille? A traditional Jura thick and sweet dessert wine made of dried grapes.

Indigène ferments with indigenous yeasts, hence the name. Then the second fermentation is begun with vin de paille. This wine has the same grape composition as Tissot’s crémant Normale: 55% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir, the rest poulsard and trousseau. These two wines are separated after the first fermentation, when Indigène is dosed with vin de paille, added daily in tiny amounts. The second fermentation takes six months – and adds to the richness and complexity of the wine.

Indigène (S. Tissot)

Straw yellow. Aromas of clementine, yellow apple, spices, dried fruit, bread and nuts. Glyceric, smooth with good concentration, and a long salty finish.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Brilliant Loire red at Bellies

Last Thursday I had the pleasure to revisit Bellies, a 100% vegan restaurant in the eastern neighborhood of Stavanger, Norway. Here you are not served “vegan burgers” and such. The focus is on the tastes of the ingredients, and there is a high level of creativity in the presentation. Add to this a select wine list that mostly highlights natural wines and you have got the picture.

I had the “Full Bellies”, a ten servings presentation (dishes of various sizes), accompanied by a package of five wines, plus an elegant champagne, the Les Vignes de Montgueux blanc de blancs extra brut (J. Lassaigne). Among the wines were a stylish, slightly buttered, tropical fruit-scented Saint-Véran, Les Pommards 2020 by Jessica Litaud, a fresh Loire white, Saumur 2021 (B. Stater-West) and an interesting relatively full-bodied oak-treated beaujolais, Morgon Dynamite 2020 (A. & Y. Bertrand). All these were wines that I will keep an eye on, and good enough to be featured.

Our wine came with a dish that I have forgotten the name of, which contains jelly, blackberry, pepper with sea urchin, a.o.

This time I concentrate on a brilliant fruity, earthy, full-of-life red from the Loire valley. Nadège Lelandais can be found in Rochefort sur Loire, a few miles southwest of the city of Angers. There she cultivates 4.5 hectares of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and chenin blanc. She has been practicing organic and biodynamic viticulture since the start in 2005.

Our wine Vigneronne is made of cabernet franc, handpicked and fermented in fiberglass vats and aged several months in older barrels.

Vigneronne 2021 (Nadège Lelandais/ Les Vignes Herbel)

Dark purple. Fragrant with raw red fruits (cherry, red currant), blackberry, and with an earthy note. Juicy and fleshy in the mouth with fine tannic structure, herbaceous with fresh acidity. Simply delicious.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

A two pinots Champagne

The Olivier Horiot domaine is located in Les Riceys, a commune in Côte des Bar. We are in the southern part of Champagne, and it’s an area that has once belonged to Bourgogne. Here in the Aube département the vineyards are more scarce than in central parts of Champagne, and interspersed with forests, waters and farms.

The Horiot family continues to produce wonderful natural wines from biodynamic viticulture, and has by the way also done a great job to recover the region’s indigenous grape varieties, like arbane.

Credit: O. Horiot

Maybe inspired by nearby Bourgogne, the domain separats its different terroirs into distinct cuvées. The result is champagnes with strong individual character.

The name Métisse refers to the fact that this cuvée is made from several different terroirs in the village of Les Riceys. It’s a non vintage, made from pinot noir and pinot blanc. It has a minimal addition of sulphites and undergoes neither fining nor filtering.

Métisse Pinots Noirs et Blancs Extra Brut (O. Horiot)

Pale yellow, small, delicate bubbles. Aromas of apples, pears, citrus, flowers, brioche and spicy notes. It’s fresh and lively on the palate, with a fine-tuned interplay between the autolysis and the fruit. Completely dry, good length.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Smooth wine ‘de Soif’

Domaine du Bel Air is a producer of fine, age-worthy wines from cabernet franc. Jour de Soif (Day of Thirst) is their entry-level wine, made from younger vines of 20 years.

The Gauthier family is found in Benais, in the Bourgueil appellation since 1600. Today Pierre Gauthier and his son Rodolphe run the estate. It covers more some 18 hectares. Pierre Gauthier begins his winemaking work with a real philosophy. In 2000, the farm converted into organic viticulture.

The wine is a 100% cabernet franc. Manual harvest. The grapes are destemmed and then sorted on the table before being put into vats. Maceration was gentle and lasted 8 days with pumping over and a temperature not exceeding 25% to preserve as much fruit as possible. Ageing was 6 months on fine lees.

Jour de Soif 2020 (Dom. du Bel Air)

Purple colour. Aroma of dark and red fruits (blueberry, cranberry), flowers. Mouthfilling with smooth tannin, medium acidity and long fruity aftertaste. Quaffable.

Price: Low

Food: Thirstquenching, but can also be drunk with light meat, Caesar and other salads and charcuterie

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Wine of the Week

Tasty from the Pinhão

This summer at Porto’s Simplesmente… Vinho fair I met Miguel Morais and Filipa Silva of Quinta da Costa do Pinhão. I tasted their splendid range of wines, all from the Favaios area, by the Pinhão river, a subsidiary of the Douro.

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Miguel and Filipa this summer in Porto

Among them was this red, that is now available in my local shop. It comes from a scistous vineyard at 300-450 meters elevation, between 35 and 45 years old. The composition is touriga nacional 40%, touriga franca 30% and tinta roriz 30%. The grapes were foot-trodden and fermented in traditional lagares. It was aged 12 months in French barrels.

Gradual 2017 (Quinta da Costa do Pinhão)

Dark cherry red. Aroma of red and dark fruits (cherry, blackberry, plum), black pepper, herbs, licorice and some animal tones. In the mouth it’s quite full, with integrated wood, good acidity, still some tannins, and with a hint of tobacco along with the fruits. A tasty Douro, still with ageing capacity.

Price: Medium

Food: I had it with leg of lamb, but goes with a variety of tasty meat, casseroles and more

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