Here is a rarity, an azal monovarietal. Fernando Paiva runs his Quinta da Palmirinha in Amarante, Vinho Verde. He is a pioneer of biodynamic farming in Portugal and also of using chestnut flowers in the fermentation so as to avoid addition of sulphur. (Fernando has many times been featured in this blog, such as here.)
The soil consists of clay, shale and silt. The age of the vines are approximately 30 years. The pressing was carried out with whole clusters for 2.5 hours. Fermentation spontaneously with bâtonage, and with chestnut flowers without the temperature exceeding 18 degrees. The ageing was in stainless steel, in contact with lees. Unfiltered.
Note that it’s not labeled as a Vinho Verde. The DOC’s in Portugal tend to be conservative (of what, you might ask) So this is a “Product of Portugal”.
Azal 2021(Quinta da Palmirinha)
Light yellow. It’s fresh and aromatic, with white flowers, apple and lemon. It has a vibrant acidity, but abundant supple fruit wrapped around it, good concentration, long.
In naming a restaurant, managers can provide a headline, if the content follows suit. Here it does. The relatively new restaurant Bravo of Stavanger’s ever more trendy eastern district can be summed up like this: Good food, a select wine list at good prices in a cosy atmosphere.
The food is down to earth but it comes with a creative twist. At the moment the menu consists of eight medium-sized dishes from mainly local ingredients, and a number of snacks. The by-the-glass wine list contains around 20 references, and there is also a longer wine list. The selection largely consists of what you would call natural wines, and all of them are made in an organic, sustainable way. To call the pricing moderate would be an understatement. Look carefully and you can find wines at only 1,5 times the price of the state monopoly.
We were there last Friday, and one of the owners, Rakel Juklestad Helgheim, guided us through four courses and nine wines, assisted by her partner and chef Daniel Vigdel Hansen. Eight of these were chosen from the glass menu and the last one was kindly offered from the longer list by Rakel and Daniel. The platters were shared and most of the wine glasses too.
While enjoying some Spanish olives from the snack menu we decided to go with smoked salmon from producer Jana, right down the road, with carrot and a creamy cheese. It was followed with beetroot with almonds and guasacaca (a Central American sauce), for me the best dish of the evening. Tender cucumber slices struggled to compete with the tasty crab with mustard and lime. Then the kitchen excelled again with a seafood platter with baked ling and spring onion in a mussel sauce with celery and soy.
Knochentrocken 2021(Der GlücksJäger), a sauvignon blanc-chardonnay-riesling from Pfalz, had the volume and roundness that often come with the varieties, with matching acidity. It has some yellow colour, an unfiltered appearance, with melon and lime aromatics.
More mineral with a stony character, sea and salt and some pear was the next, La Mer 2022(Dom. de la Fessardière), a Muscadet, before we with Alsacian Sons of Wine’s Soulographie 2021 were back in a darker and richer style. Made from all the so-called non-aromatic grapes of the region (pinot blanc, chardonnay, auxerrois, pinot gris and riesling) it was nevertheless aromatic, with mature apples, flowers and fennel, and full on the palate with a fresh acidity.
It’s not every day that we can add a new Chablis to the repertoire. Pommier‘s 2021 would deliver. It’s light yellow/golden, and smells of green apples, lime – and luckily only a touch of butter. In the mouth it’s concentrated and full of flavour, and has a long, saline finish.
Malterdinger 2020(Bernhard Huber), a chardonnay-weissburgunder (pinot blanc) from Baden came in a light, greenish robe. It showed a richness on the nose, with herbs and butter. The oak was maybe more evident on the palate, and added to the feeling of fullness. I would have given this wine a few years in a cellar.
Scions of Sinai is located in Stellenbosch, South South Africa. Nomadis 2020 is based on cinsault, with contribution of pinotage. Ruby red with red and dark fruits (blackberry, raspberry) and spices. Luscious and savoury. North to Germany and Pfalz, Lebenshilfe is an ecological and social organization, offering work for people with intellectual disabilities. Together with the professionals they have here made the fruity Spätburgunder Trocken2020, a wine with cherry and raspberry fruit, combined with spices and a touch of vanilla. On the palate the fruit follows up, a bit spicy and with a light structure.
Clotaire Michal offered a structure and dark entry for a beaujolais gamay. Maybe not strange, as he had worked several places in the Rhône Valley before settling there. A Fleur de Peau 2019 opens with an animal whiff together with raspberry, plums and spices. It follows up with an impressive structured palate. It’s first of all impressive to taste now, and a terrific gastronomic wine for tasty dishes. However it would easily benefit from a few years more ageing. Back to a white wine, or to be exact… Matassa of Roussillon makes all their whites with skin-contact, so the colour would be darker. Cuvée Marguerite2021 (predominantly muscat varieties and some macabeo) is no exception: Light orange or amber colour, slightly turbid. On the nose there is citrus, white flowers and peach, and in the mouth it’s grapey and quite full, also with a slight tannin.
As it draws closer to summer I have tested some rosés. Here is one with a strong personality, and indeed a gastronomic wine that’s not restricted to be enjoyed on beaches and balconies.
The Roxanich winery has been a favourite after several fairs for natural wine, most recently at London’s Rawfair, where I took this picture of Mladen Rožanić.
It was created as a hommage to the Adriatic resort of Portorose, to smell like the freshly cut roses in its chic gardens. Now it has, in the words of the producer, “matured into a wine that can be enjoyed year-round for a refreshing reminder of summer”.
It’s made from the indigenous grape varieties borgonja istriana and teran in western Istria. The vineyard has an elevation of 167-188 m and the facing is more or less south. The must was macerated with only 1-2 hours of skin contact. The malolactic fermentation was completed; and the wine was bottled without filtration.
Dark rosé with a peach coloured tone. Aroma of sweet fruits (melon, ripe raspberry), roses, herbs, onions, earth. Vivid, tasty, with a light tannic grip, slightly sweet nuances and a fresh acidity to balance.
Caparsa is run by Paolo Cianferoni and his family since 1982. Paolo started in 1999 a renovation process. The estate now covers 11 hectares of vineyards in Radda in Chianti, all certified organic and worked biodynamically.
Paolo believes in acidity as a key factor for quality and the wine’s ability to age. In his interpretation of tradition, wine is complementary to food. To achieve the best balance he is a strong believer of cement vats, to avoid oakiness in the wine.
According to Paolo’s philosophy, healthiness means quality. “It’s the territory that gives originality to all [our] products”, he says, “flora, fauna, insects, fungal, microorganisms, soils, weather conditions, fields exposure, together with the workers and [ourselves]’, all of this make the wine unique”.
Chianti Classico was first bottled in the 2016 vintage. It is made from 100% sangiovese of 60 year old vines. The grapes are spontaneously fermented. The wine spent two years in cement and has been just lightly filtered.
Chianti Classico 2019(Caparsa)
Ruby red. Red fruits (cherry), wild berries, autumn leaves and earth. Bold and textured (a slight dryness from the clay), medium-bodied, layered, good acidity, quite long.
Best cellared a few years or paired with roasts and other tasty meat (and rich sauces)
Muller-Koeberle of Alsace was one of the big revelations at Vinmonopolet’s tasting of new listings and vintages last week. Martin Paulsen of importer Autentico Wines presented two wines from this producer. Here we chose the Symbiose as the Wine of the Week, but the other, Schlossreben, a blend of six grapes, was equally good.
David and Marianne Koeberle took over the family’s 27 hectares of vineyards in the village of Saint Hippolyte in 2005. They converted early on to organic and biodynamic practises. The latest years they have taken further measures too meet the strict demands of the Vin Méthode Nature (see article about certification of natural wines here).
Symbiose comes from a single vineyard co-planted on granite soil, surrounded by trees and forests and vegetation. Saint-Hippolyte is located at the foot of Haut Koenigsbourg and is a typical wine-producing village, particularly famous for Rouge de Saint Hippolyte (pinot noir) with its own appellation. The best vineyards are located at 250-400m above sea level on the slopes towards the Vosges in the west.
Here one hectare of the various grapes is co-planted. The grapes were hand-harvested and co-fermented with 6 days of skin-contact before pressing, matured for 6 months on lees before bottling without filtration.
The grape varieties are pinot gris 20%, riesling 20%, pinot blanc 15%, auxerrois 15%, muscat frontignan 15%, gewürztraminer 15%.
Light amber with a red hue, somewhat cloudy. Aroma of reaches, flowers, citrus and aromatic herbs. Good volume and concentration, long.