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Wine Chords Posts

Wine of the Week

Canlibero can

Last Monday’s tasting in my private wine club was dedicated to wines from southern half of Italy, most of them from the grapes falanghina, fiano and greco di tufo. And it was the former, the only one without a DOCG, that excelled the most.

Ennio Romano Cecaro and his wife Mena cultivate four hectares in Benevento in the Campania region. The vines are between 60 and 90 years old, biodynamically farmed.

Credit: Canlibero

The cellar is built in an old tufo cave under the house where the couple lives, and the vinification is very simple. All the wines get a long skin-maceration in steel tanks, and no filtration or additions of any kind are carried out. The annual production is no more than 3.000 bottles.

This week’s wine fermented in open tubs, stayed five months on the skins and was bottled without addition of sulphites, clarification or filtration. I have tasted quite a few wines from the producer at natural wine fairs and bars. And once again convinced: Yes, Canlibero can!

Iastemma 2018 (Canlibero)

Amber, slightly turbid. Complex aroma of orange peel, white flowers, and a light volatility, over a layer of anise and honey. Sapid, lightly textured with integrated acidity, long.

Price: Medium

Food: Salads, light meat, fried fish, sushi, fermented food, Asian…

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Wine of the Week

Expressive Riojan garnacha

This is a Riojan garnacha with a strong varietal character, that takes me towards its relatives in the Gredos mountains on the other side of the capital. This can be because the producer’s collegues in Rioja don’t put enough focus on the grape and its qualities, – maybe because of its lack of reputation, or the producers’ tendency to oak everything in sight.

Sandra Bravo is not among them. She is one of the producers in the group Rioja’n’Roll, from a dynamic generation that wants to move forward from the stereotype of the blending eras. She was probably the first in Rioja to use amphorae for maturing wines, and she never lets the oak get in the way for the local typicity, be it Rivas de Tereso, at the foot of the Toloño) or over in Villabuena de Álava (Basque Country).

Sandra has also launched a wine called La Dula Garnachas de Altura (garnacha from the heights). This one is a single parcel wine from a vineyard in Rivas de Tereso, planted in 1944 at 700 meters altitude. It’s fermented and aged in a 300 liters amphora.

Edit: I realized that I had highlighted the same wine in the 2018 vintage three years ago, from the Simplemente Vinho fair. Read about it here.

La Dula 2018 (Sierra de Toloño)

Dark cherry red. Cool, concentrated aroma of wild berries (blackberry, elderberry), raspberry and a lovely flowery scent, with a stony, mineral touch. Rounded tannins, integrated, fresh natural acidity, expressive and long.

Price: Medium/high

Food: Game, other tasty meat, but also more delicate dishes like vitello tonnato, charcuterie

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Wine of the Week

Fumé on fire

Here is a smoky, concentrated and vivid fumé – or sauvignon- blanc. Vintner Johannes Zillinger is located in the Austrian region Weinviertel in Niederösterreich, north of Wien. He farms biodynamic and has a natural approach, which means no chemicals in the vineyard, spontaneous fermentation, unfiltered wines, and so on.

The soil is loess and limestone, and for this wine the age of the vines is 30 years. It was fermented in amphora with whole berries for a few days, then just lightly pressed, then aged for a year on the lees, first in amphora, then in used oak. Bottling was done unfiltered and without sulphites added. Only 800 bottles made.

Numen Fumé Blanc 2027 (J. Zillinger)

Light golden, a bit cloudy. Orange peel, nectarine, peach, wild flowers and herbs. Concentrated, creamy, with a mineral finish. Tasty and elegant.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, grilled fish, tasty salads

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Articles and Wine bars and restaurants

La Caníbal, Madrid

La Caníbal is a natural wine bar in the Lavapiés barrio in central Madrid. It’s often called a Galician bar. Maybe because their sister restaurant O Pazo de Lugo is in the other half of the locale. The latter was established back in 1971. (For another natural wine bar in the same neighborhood, read here.)

First time of two at La Caníbal I arrived in the bar without reservation, and I walked into the part that I later came to know as O Pazo de Lugo (pazo being a manor house and Lugo one of the Galician province capitals). While waiting to be seated in the restaurant part I enjoyed a glass of albariño, Albamar 2020. Its creator is Xurxo Alba, whom I met at a fair a few years ago. It’s made with grapes from different parcels in Castrelo, outside Cambados in Rías Baixas. A lovely straw, clean sight; aroma of citrus, pears and stony minerals, a touch of white pepper; quite glyceric, with integrated acidity and a long, saline finish. A small bowl of green olives, onion, paprika was also served while I was waiting.

La Caníbal’s combined tap board – and wine list for these wines. There is a similar board for artisan beer.

La Caníbal has a tap system where they serve various wines. Their website insists that they are not bulk wines though, but authentic terroir wines, which their winegrowing friends pack exclusively for them. They can also be bought from their shop in formats such as a two liter bag-in-box.

Bodegas Bentomiz is located in Sayalonga, Málaga (read a report on a visit here). The grapes for this wine are grown predominantly in Córdoba, 90% pedro ximénez. The rest is moscatel from their home farm. Light straw; pear, citrus and flowers; rounded and yet light in the mouth. I don’t know if the wine has a name. Let’s call it Blanco 2020.

Pulpo a feira, their signature dish through 50 years (they claim since the opening in 1971): Squid, one big potato in the middle, and a generous quantity of sea salt on both sides.

They even make wine. Next was collaboratively made by La Caníbal and Marc Isart, for many famous for being formerly part of Comando G of Gredos. But otherwise he is an authority in Spain’s central areas. Las Nieves 2021 is a malvar from a single plot of old vines in Chinchón where the soil is calcareous with clay. Malvar is Madrid’s own variety. It’s most often cultivated high. When paired with airén, another Central Spain cultivar, it tends to be the acidic and aromatic part of the blend. Back to this particular wine: One half is fermented with skins in clay, the other without in oak barrels. It showed a “blushing brown” colour; aroma of mature apples, channel, herbs (thyme) and an earthy tone; in the mouth it played with oxidation, but had adequate acidity and a mineral touch. A fascinating orange wine.

Luís Oliván makes wine in several regions. To La Caníbal he currently delivers a Moristel 2021 for sale on tap and in a one liter bottle. It’s cherry red, simple, juicy and fruity. Pure joy.

El Sueño de las Aforjas of León is the bodega behind the next wine, Prieto Picudo Ecológico 2021, from the variety of that name, matured one year in concrete. Dark cherry; red and dark fruits (blueberry, morello); fine tannins, fresh acidity and a touch sweetness (banana).

Galician empanada, homemade every day

Nietos de la Señora María is located in the Alto Alberche area of Gredos. The bodega is located at 1.300 meters altitude and the four brothers who run it are guided by Daniel Ramos, a very clever vinegrower in the area. This wine comes from their ten hectares of garnacha between 40 and 60 years old. Ruby red; aromas of red fruits and herbs; a distinctive granite/pencil flavour, fine-grained tannins and a luscious body. A gastronomic wine. It’s called Garnacha on the board, and the vintage is 2020, by the way.

Fancy some cheese while summing it all up? La Caníbal have their own cheese sommelier. To make the choice easier for you the platters have musical names, like Rock’n’Roll, Indie and Celta. Pick your favourite! Strike your wine chords!

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Articles and Wine bars and restaurants

Bar Bendito, Madrid

Bendito Vinos y Vinilos (wine and vinyl) is an all natural wine bar in Madrid’s Lavapiés barrio. This hilly neighborhood was earlier a cheap place that attracted many immigrants. (Here is a link to another restaurant, to be published.) Bendito is located inside the multicultural San Fernando market, that looks like a gathering place for the cultures they represent. Lavapiés is now the most international neighborhood in Madrid. Once the Jewish quarter, much later the immigrants actually established many bars here. After Spain’s entry into the EU, there was a new wave of migration. Therefore Bendito is a good place to get to learn about the changes in Spanish culture and gastronomy.

Owner José González selects cheeses and hams from many places. These are served with economic down-to-earth wines chosen by Ilan Saltzman, wine responsible, while the vinyl records spins in the background. By the way, Bar Bendito means the blessed bar, with all the allegories that it is possible to derive from that name.

I was there last Friday and the following Sunday and enjoyed a handful of wines both days, all served with small bites of cheese or charcuterie. This report is mainly based on the first visit.

One of the wines that night was Pampaneo Airén 2020 from Esencia Rural, a very fresh, lemony sparkler from Toledo. Read more about it here.

A delightful habit of the wine bars is when the waiter gives you a couple of sips, before you decide which wine you want in your glass. Here my waiter Ilan poured three samples. One of them Soif du Mal Blanc 2020, a muscat-dominated wine from Les Foulards Rouges, over the French border. I chose to wait until some other time, and go for a Castilian wine. Palote 2020 from Microbodega Rodríguez Morán in the province of Salamanca was made from palomino grapes. It rested one week with skins and stems. Thereafter it was aged in clay, finally bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulphur. The colour was light orange/amber, slightly turbid; nice aroma of yellow fruit, elderberry, flowers and a touch of figs; good acidity, it plays with bitterness, but it’s restrained. A blue cheese accompaned these first wines, and it went surprisingly well.

Behind Artesano Vintners is Mike Shepherd, who has a past in Australia in two important natural wine houses. Now in Catunya he grows only 2 hectares. Parellatxa 2020 is a clarete: Pale red; vibrant fruit, raspberry; very light delicate touch of tannin. The name is put together by the varieties parellada and garnatxa, but this you have already figured out.

Ilan Saltzman (originally from Canada), wine responsible, serving the Kikiriki

Kikiriki 2018 is made from ull de llebre (tempranillo) and carinyena in a vineyard from 1979, by Manel Aviñó of Clos Lentiscus, Penedès. He works employing biodynamic techniques and ferment the grapes by variety before assembling the wines. Dark cherry colour; blueberry, also lighter fruit (raspberry) and a touch licorice; juicy with light tannin, good acidity, and over all truly fascinating.

Nacho González makes his wines within Valdeorras. But he is not a member of the DO, thus his La Perdida wines carry the designation Vinos de España. A Mallada 2020 is made from sumoll and garnacha tintorera. Fermented in amphora, aged in old oak, bottled without sulphites. It’s dark, quite complex; on the nose it displays something sweet and sour (sweet cherries, acidic berry stones?) and very fresh fruit; there is a young dryness in the mouth, lovely acidity.

About the second visit I will report very briefly. It went more or less like the first visit. The two absolutely brilliant wines were Jordi LlorensAncestral de la Cristina and Oriol ArtigasEl Rall, both from Catalunya, both from 2019. The former is from the Conca de Barberà area in the province of Tarragona and lived up to normal standard, light yellow with its clean appley and mature lemony easy-going character. The latter I didn’t know. It’s a sumoll (the grape) from DO Alella, north of Barcelona city, and showed a cherry-dominated red fruits side, with a pleasant juicyness in the mouth. The best of the rest, and a surprise too, was Sin Prisa 2018, a forest fruits-coffee-scented monastrell without added sulphites from Bodegas De Fábula, Murcia, near the regional capital.

Below: Only two of the many international cuisine restaurants in the San Fernando market.

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Wine of the Week

Backwards palomino orange

Esteban Celemín is found in Castronuño, in the Valladolid province, close to Toro (Zamora). He works a lot with albillo real, that he names the emblematic variety of Castronuño and which the family has planted an experimental vineyard. All vineyards are cultivated organically.

Other varieties are also used, some of them posted under “minor white varieties from the ‘comarca’ of Toro”. At the bar named El Bar in the center of Valladolid I was offered one of these, an orange wine based on palomino, a variety not uncommon in the area. Here it’s often called jerez. Well orange, the maceration had been very gentle during its 16 ,days of skin-contact, and probably lightly filtered, so the wine showed transparent. Nothing was added to the wine, of which a “grand” total of 260 bottles were filled.

Palomino Orange Wine 2020 (Esteban Celemín Viticultor)

Light golden. Ginger, stonefruit, white flowers. Lightly textured, refreshing with a chalky mineral finish.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Essentially fresh

I am in Madrid, because I always start a trip to the central and northern areas of Spain with some days in its grand, magnificent capital that has everything to offer. This week’s pick is from the natural wine bar Bendito, that is located inside the multicultural San Fernando market, close to the two hotels where I most often stay when in Madrid.

Vinegrower Julian Ruíz-Villanueva is located in Castilla-La Mancha, in the village Quero (Toledo). His bodega Esencia Rural is named in honour to all those who spend their lives and dedication to the daily work at their farms.

This natural “ancestral” (sparkling) wine is made from the variety airén exclusively. It originates from 38 hectares in the hot inland landscape, with very old vineyards on sandy-calcareous soil. Here there is no irrigation, no chemical treatments, and everything is done by hand. After destemming a maceration is carried out without pressing, so only the virgin juice is used. Fermentation is obviously happening spontaneously with autochtonous yeasts, and bottled without filtration or addition of sulphur, early so it develops its bubbles in the bottle. As a side-step, one time I met Julián at the Fenavin fair in Ciudad Real he showed an airén must that had been fermenting for (…how long was it…?) 3 years. Finally it’s put no the market without dégorgement (removing the sediments).

Pampaneo Ancestral 2020 (Esencia Rural)

Light yellow colour, fine bubbles. Citrus (lemon) dominates the aroma, accompanied by pears and flowers. It’s a simple wine, lovely and fresh, with an ample lemony acidity and saline finish.

Price: Low

Food: Aperitif, white fish, shellfish, salads. At Bendito it was served with charcuterie.

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Wine of the Week

Intellego Halagasha 2020

Jurgen Gouws and his Intellego label has been focused several times on this blog. You can search yourself, but why not first read about one of his light-touch delicacies here.

This time I want to draw your attention to what he does with the “national” grape pinotage. Instead of going for an “impressive” blockbuster (yes, we know several) if has the lightest touch you can ever imagine. Lammershoek, a notable winery with links to Gouws, has a nice take on this grape (read here). This one is even more delicate.

Jurgen was an assistant to Craig Hawkins of Testalonga at the time if worked at Lammershoek. And besides this he worked more and more on his own Intellego project, with wines from rented vineyards.

This one is from a dry farmed vineyard of bush vines on granite soils near Paardeberg, Swartland. Hand-harvested grapes, whole-bunch pressing with natural yeast fermentation in steel. The wine is matured 5 months in big, old barrels, back to steel for 1 month, and bottled unfiltered and without sulphur.

Halagasha 2020 (Intelligo Wine)

Ruby red. Aroma of red berries (strawberry, currant), an earthy note. Juicy and smooth, with light and delicate tannins, good acidity, long.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, salads, pasta

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Wine of the Week

Loimer’s happy glou-glou

The minimalist cube in Langenlois, Austria that is Fred Loimer’s winery, hides precious jewels. To be more precise, the wines made by close attention of vineyards and helped by biodynamic practises are found behind these walls. (Read about another of his many inspired/inspiring creations here.)

(Cred. Loimer)

The grapes, zweigelt 70%, and the rest st. laurent and pinot noir, were grown in his leased vineyards in Gumpoldskirchen (Thermenregion) on the other side, the southern side of the river Donau – partly destemmed, partly whole cluster pressing. Then spontaneous fermentation, no fining and no filtering. Partially matured in wood, 6 month on lees. No sulphur added during maceration, 20 mg after the blend, before bottling.

Gluegglich Rosé (Weing. Loimer)

Light ruby. Fresh, young aroma of ptpawadpa, raspberry and plums. Medium-bodied, creamy, with a refreshing yet careful acidity, dry, with a fruity finish.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

So long, Merian!

Merian is here short for Mercè (Solé Llop) i Antonio (Mèlich). The finca was established in 1942 in Terra Alta (Catalunya). Today the two of them, together with Mercè’s sisters and brothers, 4th generation, run the estate, based on terroir and sustainability.

This wine is based on garnatxa negra 100% from their own organic vineyards in the municipality of Batea, a center for viticulture in Terra Alta. (Here is another Batea wine.) The soil is rich in clay with chalk, but also rolling stones, in an altitude of 350 – 450 meters.

The grapes are hand-picked, before a new selection in the winery. After a light pressing the juice is transfered to steel, and a fermentation at 26 degrees with a 15 days skin-maceration.

Here with filled aubergine incl. cheese (leftover raclette) and sliced meat

Merian Garnatxa Negra 2020 (Cellers Tarroné)

Dark cherry red, blueish hint. Young, fresh aroma (blueberry, raspberry), together with anise and some leathery notes. Fresh in the mouth, but also with a certain depth from mature berries, smooth tannins and a fruity finish.

Price: Low

Food: Red and light meat, grilled if you like, game, casseroles, pasta and salads with meat

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