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Month: September 2016

Wine of the Week

Tissot Amphore from Jura

The Tissot wines are classics in Jura. Labelled as André & Mireille (Stéphane’s parents), today Bénédicte and Stéphane are in charge, and the Tissot family is among a handful of producers who carry the torch for the whole region.

These are emotional wines, if we dear to use such an expression: If not the wines themselves are, they can at least create emotions. They are made with a deep passion for wine and environment, and it’s nothing industrial or mass-produced about them. The vines are cultivated in a biodynamic way, Demeter certified, it’s all completely natural, free of artificial chemicals, Tissot works with natural yeasts, and -needless to say- the sulphur levels are kept down to an absolute minimum. Because of the diversity of terroir they have decided to make many wines (around 30 different ones) in small quantities, to maintain their individuality.


Bénédicte and Stéphane Tissot

This week’s wines was tasted in our local wine club on Monday this week, along with other exceptional wines from Jura, several of them from Tissot, including a crémant, a late harvest dessert wine and the fortified “Macvin”. The choices could have been many, their Vin Jaune is also exceptional, but in the end I chose to highlight the Amphore.

The Savagnin Amphore is, as you might imagine, made from the savagnin grape variety and aged in amphora. The 20-25 year old vines were grown in soil with a high clay content, the maceration was made in amphoras where it also aged for 6 months, before pressing and maturing for 3 months, then bottled without filtration and without the use of sulphur.

Some words about the savagnin (blanc) is maybe justified: This is a grape from the sub-alpine regions of eastern France. It’s most famous for being the grape used in the typical “yellow wine” (vin jaune) aged under a blanket of flor yeast, just like in the sherry area (hence some similar aromas). But it’s used for a lot more, and over in the high-altitude vineyards of the Swiss Valais region it goes by the name heida, where it makes fresh and crisp dry white wines. There have been many attempts to link it to other varieties such as albariño and gewürztraminer, but all we know by now is that it has some association with (no, not the sauvignon, but…) the traminer varieties, and that it’s part of a whole family of savagnins.


Savagnin Amphore 2014 (Tissot)

Deep orange-brown, somewhat cloudy. Loads of skin contact character in aroma, mostly orange-peel, some nuts, mature apples, spices, some “wild” aromas on the same path as a good lambic. Good concentration, smooth in texture, and with smoky notes in the mouth and aftertaste.

Price: High (but still good value)

Food: Comté, other hard cheeses (such as gruyère), light meat, several types of Asian…

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Wine of the Week

A red from the independent organization of Swartland

For the second time in a row our wine of the week is South African. And again it’s from Swartland (literally: the black land, after the indigenous, now endangered ‘rhino bush’ that turns black after rain), an area formerly famous for bushvines and for full-bodied red wines and fortified wines. It’s generally hot and dry, but with many variations on the theme.

The Swartland Independent Producers (SIP) is a group of producers that wish to express a true sense of place in the wines of the Swartland.

The SIP organization has implanted several requirements, such as a minimum of 80% of own bottling, and that an “independent” wine must be 100% of Swartland origin. Interesting for us is the requirement that the wines must be naturally produced. Their view of a natural wine reads: “a wine that has no yeast or yeast supplements added, no acidity manipulation, or tannin additions, no chemical fining, water addition / dilution, and no reverse osmosis or any other application to change the constitution of the wine. Sulphur additions are allowed, but producers are encouraged to make moderate additions.”

Another view we share 100% is this: “As over-oaking tends to ‘mask’ the essence of grape variety and site, no wine may be aged with more than 25% new wood (barrique) as a component.”

penny-and-billy-hughes Penny and Billy Hughes

The Hughes Family is located in the Malmesbury area in the middle of Swartland. It’s named after the main town, and is also the name of the most prominent type of soil. Argentinian-born Billy Hughes bought some land here in 2000 and is now running the estate together with his wife Penny. In various topsoils on granite bedrock primarily Rhône varieties are planted. The working of the land is in accordance with the organization’s principles. Did I say working? ‘Leave the vines in peace’ is their motto.

Native yeasts are integral to give the site-special aromas and flavours. The wine is always made primarily from shiraz (in this vintage 63%), with variable amounts of mourvèdre, grenache, pinotage, tempranillo, – and once in a while the white viognier, each variety vinified separately, then blended. The wines stay around 8 months in small French barrels, with only small amounts of new oak.


Nativo 2013 (The Hughes Family Wines)

Deep cherry red. Aroma of dark berries, nuances of spices, herbs and coffee. Lots of both fresh and mature fruit in the mouth, nice rounded tannins, a mineral touch, and a fruity accent all the way.

Price: Medium

Food: Meat like beef, lamb and game (and why not with tasty sauces, and possibly also with tropical fruits on the side), stews, and much more

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Wine of the Week

Keep on punching, a Swartland chenin

I tasted this wine yesterday evening at the Remedy in London’s Fitzrovia district. You can read more about the wine bar here. Since then Abel has left the building, but Dany Teixeira, French-Portuguese sommelier is holding the fort, and I gave him almost carte blanche to match wines with my gnocchi and smoked duck.

This Swartland chenin matched both. It’s made by Craig Hawkins, who bought an estate in 2014 together with his wife Carla.

Swartland is experiencing something of a renaissance these days. It has many different climates, but it’s generally warm. That’s one of the reasons that Craig likes it so much, as this is a type of climate he really knows. To make the story short, harvesting early enough is essential here if one wants to keep the acidity, even if the grape’s name is Chenin.

Each of the producer’s wines has an original name, and all come with street art labels. The name of this particular wine refers to what Craig’s friend used to say during their childhood hockey games. And what is the connection to the girl on the label? You tell me if you find out.

The wine is made according to quite strict non-intervention principles. Just a little SO2.



Baby Bandito “Keep on Punching” 2015 (Testalonga)

Light golden. Aromas of citrus, flowers, apple, a touch of orange peel due to a bit extended skin contact. Nice acidity, long aftertaste. A lightweight wine yet full of flavours.

Price: Medium


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Wine of the Week

Sublime Bandol rosé

This is an old favourite, maybe the best Provence rosé in the classic, clean style known from times past. It’s certainly the most prestigious one, and with a history to match (it can trace its roots at least back to the times of Louis XIV, and later Lucien Tempier who fought for the Bandol region and the mourvèdre grape). But this is not the occation to dig deep in history. And the wine is very much alive, as shown at my visit in Bandol in 2013, before and after, and now again even from the hot 2015 vintage.

img_3363  Natalie Sotkine (left) and Véronique Peyraud (decendant of L. Tempier) in front of a pink façade

Clearly it’s not only the people that makes this a remarkable wine. The site close to the Mediterranean, but not too close and with favourable facing, and the soils of Bandol also play their part, here mostly clay and limestone.

The grapes for this wine come from parcels of predominantly mourvèdre (some grenache and cinsault) with an average 20 year old vines. The yields are low, so the concentration can be high. The grapes are hand-harvested. Tempier aims for acidity rather than alcohol, so in a normal year the harvest is done by hand around end-August, early-September. Half of the grapes are pressed directly, and the rest follows the saignée method. The wine rests in concrete vats some 8 months before bottling.

2015 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé

Bandol Rosé 2015 (Domaine Tempier)

Typical provençal pale salmon pink. The aroma is more complex and earthy though, with hints of peach, red apple and flowers. In the mouth the notes of herbs shine through, and the acidity contributes to give it an uplifting, long aftertaste. This is a rosé to keep if you wish, maybe at its best in a year from now, depending of taste.

Price: Medium

Food: White fish, shellfish, salads, light meat and much more

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Wine of the Week

True wild NZ sauvignon

“Typical” sauvignons are by many regarded as the easiest of all to detect in a blind tasting. However, there are many factors that can contribute to the grape’s aromas, and many are still under investigation. Undoubtedly, added yeast is among the techniques. But there are also producers here with what we would call a natural approach, with Sébastien Riffault in Sancerre as possibly the most famous.

A tasting in our private wine club showed quite varied aspects of New Zealand’s wines, among the sauvignons too. There were two splendid wines from Greywacke Vineyards, a late harvest riesling and our wine of the week, the Wild Sauvignon, this one too made only with the yeasts from the grape and the environment.

Kevin Judd was co-founding winemaker when Cloudy Bay embarked on their success story in the mid-80’s. But Judd went on to fulfill his own project in 2009, after having planned it for a long time, including acquisition of vineyards in Marlborough. The name Greywacke was registered back in 1993, and named after the type of rounded stones found everywhere in the country.

Essential in the winemaking is mature grapes from quality sites in the central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys, cultivated with low yields and strong canopy management.


Bilderesultat for greywacke wild sauvignon 2014

The grapes were mostly harvested by hand, then pressed lighly. The juice was spontaneously fermented in old French oak, stayed there for around 6 months, where some 2/3 underwent malo-lactic fermentation. It then stayed on yeast lees in inox for another 5 months, and the wine was only lightly filtered before bottling.


Wild Sauvignon 2014 (Greywacke)

Straw yellow, grey, not shiny. Aromas of oranges, almonds, flowers, herbs (thyme), and a slight touch of toast and vanillin. In the mouth it shows a rich and creamy texture, nice concentration, with a balancing acidity that contributes to a lingering finish.

Price: Medium

Food: White fish, grilled seafood, sushi, creamy cheeses

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