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Wine Chords Posts

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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Articles

A different Ribera

Magna Vides is located in La Aguilera, Ribera del Duero. Pablo Arranz and Andrea Sanz there offer a Ribera with a difference, in a region full of oaky wines with mature fruit. Their winery lies amidst organic vineyards, and brings out fresh and terroir-driven wines.

Vera Vides 2020 (Magna Vides)

Made with grapes from vines that are more than 50 years old. 75% tinta del país (tempranillo), with garnacha, bobal, monastrell and the white albillo major. Careful maceration, grapes treated separately before blending and 10 months ageing in used French barrels. Filtered gently before bottling.

Deep red. Dark fruits (morello, blackberry), red fruits (raspberry), herbs. Good volume, fine tannins, a cool acidity. Fresh and balanced.

Magna Vides 2018 (Magna Vides)

Made with tinta del país and a part of albillo mayor. Unique century-old vineyards located at three different sites in La Aguilera. The wine matures for about 14 months mainly in used barrels. It is filtered very gently.

Deep red with blue hint. Fresh aroma of dark fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant), red fruits, herbs, coffee. Good volume and concentration, firm tannins, good acidity, long aftertaste. It’s in a way powerful, but very balanced. Can age, but is surprisingly accessible.

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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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Articles

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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Wine of the Week

Real Rabigato

Last week I visited Mateus Nicolau de Almeida in Foz Côa, in the Douro Superior. This is really the land of rabigato. One of his rabigato whites I was coincidentally offered at the Prova wine bar in the center of Porto some days later.

Mateus comes from a family that has made wine for several generations, and in 2015 he set up his own project. He is dedicated to explore the characteristics of the terroir. This can be seen in the Eremitas project, that comprises three wines, all from the same variety and made in exactly the same way, but reflecting their respective terroirs.

Amon de Kelia originates from a vineyard planted in moderately deep quartz soils at an altitude of 500 metres. The grapes are macerated in granite for 3 hours. Then they pressed in a vertical press, and the must is racked by gravity into cement in an underground cellar, where it ferments spontaneously without temperature control.

Eremitas Amon de Kelia 2022 (Mateus Nicolau de Almeida)

Light straw. Discrete aromatics with yellow fruits, flowers and a mineral touch. More expressive in the mouth, with good volume, it’s fruity, fresh, and with a nicely integrated acidity.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

This is not a love song

This wine was offered in a private club tasting last Monday. It’s a low alcohol-high freshness wine. In fact the acidity is almost as insisting as the Public Image Ltd song of the same name. It should work well then, with risottos, rcreamy pastas or with tasty Austrian sausages.

It comes from 80 year old vines in Steiner Schreck, the steepest of all Kremstal sites, and is farmed biodynamically. We are around 320 meters above sea level, and the subsoil consists of gneiss and granite.

The grapes were pressed very slowly for two days in a self-made tree press. The pressing process itself is reductive, but afterwards the juice was deliberately exposed to oxidation. The juice was fermented spontaneously and aged for two and a half years on the lees in an amphora made in Bordeaux. During fermentation, a tiny percentage destemmed grapes were added, to restart the fermentationvim in an intercellular way, like in carbonic maceration. The wine was lightly sulphured.

This is not a Love Song 2020 (Heidelinde & Markus Lang)


Light golden yellow. Concentrated aromas of gooseberry, green apples, flowers, lemon and a touch of herbs. On the palate it’s structured from the acidity, and a fine-grained texture from the terracotta. It’s got a touch of price and saltiness. It’s a wine with tension and electricity.

Price: High

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