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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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Wine of the Week

Alternative Ribera

Pablo and Andrea of Magna Vides offer an alternative to the many oaky and heavy reds of Ribera del Duero. At their estate in La Aguilera (Burgos) they work eco-friendly in every possible way. This wine is made from garnacha grapes from 90 year old vines on sandy loam soils. They are fermented with stems and with local yeasts. It’s aged 12 months in used French barrels.

Alma de Cántaro Garnacha Tinta 2020 (Magna Vides)

Dark cherry red. Fresh aroma of raspberry, wild strawberries, plums and herbs. Clear and focused garnacha fruit on the palate, it’s juicy with timid tannins, and a fresh and lively fruit. It’s carefully extracted and with no disturbing wood influence.

Price: Medium

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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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Articles

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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