Jura is a small, yet diverse wine region. Stéphane Tissot is one of its most dynamic and creative producers, and boasts a huge varieties of styles. Here he has made a sparkling wine with vin de paille in its dosage. And vin de paille? A traditional Jura thick and sweet dessert wine made of dried grapes.
Indigène ferments with indigenous yeasts, hence the name. Then the second fermentation is begun with vin de paille. This wine has the same grape composition as Tissot’s crémant Normale: 55% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir, the rest poulsard and trousseau. These two wines are separated after the first fermentation, when Indigène is dosed with vin de paille, added daily in tiny amounts. The second fermentation takes six months – and adds to the richness and complexity of the wine.
Straw yellow. Aromas of clementine, yellow apple, spices, dried fruit, bread and nuts. Glyceric, smooth with good concentration, and a long salty finish.
The Olivier Horiot domaine is located in Les Riceys, a commune in Côte des Bar. We are in the southern part of Champagne, and it’s an area that has once belonged to Bourgogne. Here in the Aube département the vineyards are more scarce than in central parts of Champagne, and interspersed with forests, waters and farms.
The Horiot family continues to produce wonderful natural wines from biodynamic viticulture, and has by the way also done a great job to recover the region’s indigenous grape varieties, like arbane.
Maybe inspired by nearby Bourgogne, the domain separats its different terroirs into distinct cuvées. The result is champagnes with strong individual character.
The name Métisse refers to the fact that this cuvée is made from several different terroirs in the village of Les Riceys. It’s a non vintage, made from pinot noir and pinot blanc. It has a minimal addition of sulphites and undergoes neither fining nor filtering.
Métisse Pinots Noirs et Blancs Extra Brut(O. Horiot)
Pale yellow, small, delicate bubbles. Aromas of apples, pears, citrus, flowers, brioche and spicy notes. It’s fresh and lively on the palate, with a fine-tuned interplay between the autolysis and the fruit. Completely dry, good length.
This was the cheapest and, for me, the most rewarding in a local wine club tasting of Oregon pinots. The wines were generally attractive, though expensive, and far from the stereotype that says pinot from overseas are heavy, dull and oaky.
Johan Vineyards is located in the Van Duzer Corridor AVA of Oregon. The corridor stretches east to west towards the Pacific Ocean, which gives cool temperatures and winds from the Pacific. The calcareous sedimentary soils with granite contrast with the more normal iron-rich volcanic soils in the north Willamette Valley.
Johan is Dag Johan Sundby, a Norwegian who came to Denver, Colorado, to study economy. Sundby wasn’t particularly interested in wine at the time. But when he received an offer to invest in a vineyard in Oregon and went there, it was love at first sight. So he and his co-investor had no doubts. This was in 2004. He was supposed to go back to Denver to fulfill his plans. But in 2007 his partner got sick. He moved to Oregon, hired a winemaker and took over the entire winery.
There have been many ups and downs, and a lot of responsibility. It is not a job, but a way of life. In 2009, Sundby built a house on the farm and since then he has lived in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The original farm was just a garage and one planted vineyard. The rest came later. In the beginning he grew three grape varieties which he mostly supplied to other producers, but today, on his 70 hectares of vineyards, he grows 14 different ones from which he makes wine himself. All the vineyards are grown biodynamically, and the farm was certified in 2010.
This wine comes from all estate-grown fruit. Vine age averages 10 years. It is native yeast fermented in stainless steel and aged for 9 months in neutral oak barrels.
Farmlands Pinot Noir 2019(Johan Vineyards)
Cherry red. Aroma of red fruits (raspberry, cherry), flowers and an earthy touch. Medium-bodied, fine and elegant texture, super pinot fruit and good acidity.
Alexander Pflüger is third-generation owner and winemaker of Weingut Pflüger in the Pfalz. The name Pflüger means he who ploughs, and implies that the family has a long tradition as farmers. They were pioneers in organic farming in Germany, and the vineyards were certified in 1989. In the early 2000s, they switched to biodynamic. Today, Weingut Pflüger is the producer in Germany with the largest Demeter-certified vineyard.
It’s an all pinot, spontaneously fermented and raised in steel.
Buntsandstein Pinot Noir 2020(Pflüger)
Cherry red with blueish hint. Aroma of red berries (raspberry), plums, anise, an earthy touch. Juicy, fresh, medium-bodied, with fresh acidity.
Fanny Sabre has in short time, and at a young age, become a respected producer in Bourgogne. After her father passed away in 2000, she and her mother have run the family domain in a magnificent way. (Read about another wine here, also with an introduction.)
Today she manages the 5-hectare domain from her cellar in the heart of Pommard. And the grapes for this week’s wine are sourced from plots in that commune. We enjoyed the wine at “the wine office”, Vinkontoret, in Stavanger, Norway.
Like for all her reds she has here used 100% whole clusters and matured the wine in mainly 400 liters and mostly used and partly some new barrels.
Pommard 2016(Fanny Sabre)
Light cherry red. Aroma of red (cherry) and dark berries, touch underwood. Juicy in the mouth with fine-grained tannins, concentration in flavours, good acidity and length. Very delicate. Will keep.
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.)
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.
This wine is, like last week’s selection, from our recent tasting of Argentine wines. The name is Blanc de Noir, a well-known expression from Champagne denoting white wine from black grapes. Here the producer has admitted a tiny amount of colour to get through.
We have been used accustomed to the thought that good (some would think: all) Argentine wines come from Mendoza. But El Esteco is found in Cafayate, a small town in the Calchaquí Valley, province of Salta. We are in the very northwestern corner of Argentina, at an elevation of 2.000 meters, with poor alluvial soils. The marked temperature ranges of the valley encourages a long maturation period.
The grape is pinot noir, grown in a finca called Chañar Punco and harvested by hand in the early morning hours, whole bunches pressed very lightly and slowly, and elevated in steel. Truly fascinating!
Blanc de Noir 2020(Bod. El Esteco)
Light salmon pink with a touch of onion-skin. Delicately fruity, of medium intensity, of redcurrant and some herbs. A bit glyceric and tannic in the mouth, yet fresh acidity shines through.
As we enter into a new year we chose a bubbly fresh wine from a promising winery. The obvious choice would be champagne, of which the is a big amount to chose from, also in the natural end of the scale. But no, our choice is from England, itself a promising wine country.
I visited the Tillingham wineryas we entered into the pandemic for the first time, and went straight into a quarantine, according to the rules that had been made while I was there. I will not go into details about the producer, as much is written already. Here is one of the write-ups.
The wines are produced as naturally as possible; which means no spraying in the vineyards, no unnecessary additives are added, and the wines are bottled with minimal sulphur.
This wine is made in and named after the italian method Col Fondo, in essence the same as the ancestral method. The grapes are mostly pinot noir, with chardonnay, pinot meunier and auxerrois. Hand-picked grapes ferment naturally in separate containers. Pinot noir and chardonnay are pressed directly as whole bunches and fermented in steel. Pinot meunier is also pressed as whole bunches of grapes and fermented in large Georgian qvevri. Auxerrois is mainly pressed as whole bunches of grapes and fermented in steel, as well as a small amount of yeast with a day’s skin contact before it is pressed into qvervi. After finishing the alcoholic fermentation, all the components in the steel tank are mixed with minimal amounts of sulphur added, and then the wine is bottled with 8 g/L added sugar. Thus the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle.
Col 2019(Tillingham Wines)
Light golden and somewhat cloudy. Aroma of lime, green fig and white flowers. Light and appealing, a moderate amount of tiny bubbles, with fresh acid, a bit creamy and with a quite long, dry finish.
Food: Apéritif, natural shellfish, white fish, tapas…Perfect for celebrations.
Domaine Georg Breuer in Rheingau, Germany was officially founded in 1980, but it’s obviously much older. Today it accounts for some 40 hectares, some of them very prestigious, like Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg and Berg Roseneck.
Berhard Breuer, a well-known promoter of dry riesling, left this world much too early in 2004. And then 19 year old Theresa Breuer, 4th generation, was suddenly in charge of it all. Now oenology educated, she has for years handled the family plantings of riesling and red with great virtuosity.
Here is a link to another wine of the domaine, and the article also contain a link to Theresa’s visit to a wine fair in Stavanger, Norway.
Spätburgunder Pinot Noir Rosé 2019(G. Breuer)
Lovely pink-orange colour. Floral aroma with cranberries and cherry, some lemon/lime. Fresh citric acidity, yet a smooth feeling that makes it excellent drinking, with and without food. Finishes dry. A very delicate wine.
Simplesmente …Vinho is the perfect wine fair. Here you find vignerons that really care for their grapes, and cultural aspects around it are also focused. In the cosy atmosphere one can feel that we are a big family of like-minded people. But important, after meeting the same artisans year after year you can really get to know the wines and follow them through storms and sunny days.
Speaking in wine terms, 2021 was a difficult year. The former site, an old port wine lodge by the river Douro, had been sold. So the organizers had to find a new place. This turned out to be the university’s faculty of architecture (Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto, FAUP). In the magnificent garden the usual barrels were set up. Another notable difference, of course, was the now well-known pandemic. They had done their best to take all the precautions needed; aside of the inevitable face-masks, there were fewer producers (around 60, some forty less than in the latest years), and there were three days instead of two, to avoid too much close contact. So in spite of the difficult conditions (“a crazy project”, according to ‘big chief’ João Roseira) I think that this might have been one of the best fairs so far, and Roseira and his team can be proud of how it all was carried out.
In my reports I have earlier given myself a special theme, mainly according to the regions I have visited before or after the fair itself. This time an extensive visits program was difficult, so I chose mainly to focus on wineries that earlier had been left out because they didn’t fit into my own regional limits. In this first article I will focus on some lesser known wineries from lesser known places.
Quinta da Comenda is not exactly unknown. This producer has a long history, but has maybe found itself in the shadows of the Douro producers lately. The quinta is located in the village of S. Pedro do Sul in DOC Lafões, a granitic region between northwestern Dão and the southern tip of Vinho Verde, thus not far from Douro either. Lafões is mostly noted for white wines, and maybe not far from Verde in style. Comenda was one of the Portuguese pioneers of organic cultivation, back in the 1980’s.
A fabulous red wine, quite unusual for the area, was served at the opening dinner. This was an initiative by organizer João Roseira, but it’s made by Comenda’s Angelo Rocha. Comenda de Ansemil 2020, a blend with 6 varieties known from different parts of the country, was only made in a quantity of 100 bottles. It comes with a dark colour, an aroma of dark and red fruits with some licorice, and with a huge freshness and a vivid energy. Other than this, the tasting the day after showed several wines at a generally very high quality, from the “straight” white Comenda de Ansemil 2019, a blend of arinto, cercial (cerceal/sercial) and dona branca, to a salmon pink Rosé 2020 of the same name and vintage (but classified as Terras de Lafões, as the DOC does not allow rosés), with its raspberry tones and a more generous taste than aroma. One that I liked a lot was the white 1/3 barrel-wine Quinta da Comenda 2019. Light straw colour, quite complex nose with yellow apples, way and a touch of smoke, and with a touch of vanilla in the mouth. An inspiring acidity binds it well together, like in all the other wines.
Távora-Varosa is a small region that lies on on granite or schist between Dão and Douro. With 500 to 800 metres above sea level it has a continental climate and extreme temperatures. Last year I had the opportunity to visit the region and meet Manuel Valente in his village Aldeia de Cima, where the family has a 200 year long history of growing grapes and olives a.o. You can read more about this visit here. His project Protótipo is a highly interesting one. He had brought a few more wines this time, like a dark but fresh 7 grape red aged in very old oak for 18 months and a wonderful Protótipo Branco 2018, a waxy-textured wine with a lovely acidity, golden in colour, with white flowers and stone-fruits on the nose. But the pét nats are for me the top. The white version is perhaps the more tamed. The rosé is based on touriga nacional, tinta roriz, and a complementing field blend. Protótipo Rosé Pét Nat 2019 can be described as red-orange, turbid; fresh red fruits (raspberry, strawberry); with a slight residual sugar (2,3 grams) and an excellent acidity. It’s more to the wild side, and truly inspiring.
Alentejo is not among the unknown regions. But Heredade do Cebolal is not found in the central area where the DOC is located, but on the Alentejo coast, bordering Setúbal. Therefore the wines are much fresher. I met the producer’s British importer in London at the Real Wine fair and tasted their “subterranean” wine (read more here). Since then the winemaking has been moving towards less extraction, more elegance. The family firm is now led by Luís and Isabel Mota Capitão. Santiago de Cacém 2018 Vinha da Casa Branca is a serious wine. Made from encruzado, arinto and antão vaz, with natural malolactic and low-sulphur, this was light golden wine with a typical fresh Atlantic character, and a mineral, saline finish. A bit petrol can be associated with arinto with some age. Palhete is an interesting category. It’s the Portuguese name for a mix of red and white grapes, here in the Palhete 2020 85% aragônez and the rest antão vaz. In this wine I find both red fruits (strawberry) and yellow (tomatoes, and a tropical hint where we agreed that guayaba was a good description). In the mouth it is more concentrated than the light colour would indicate, and a dry finish with a hint of bitterness. In Spain clarete is the name for this style, while in Portugal clarete signifies a lightly coloured wine made only with red grapes. Herdade do Cebolal has a wine of this sort too. Clarete 2019 from castelão on predominantly clay soils, is made with only two days of maceration. It’s a light ruby coloured wine, the aroma had a certain warmth, dominated by forest fruits.
Lisboa as a wine region (formerly Estremadura) is for many readers not unknown. But some of its nine DOC’s might be, and here come four wineries from there. Generally this region is windy, but sheltered by low mountains inland, and though the landscape is not dramatic there are endless variations.
Quinta Várzea da Pedra is found in the Óbidos denomination, more specifically in the town of Bombarral. The brothers Tomás (winemaker) and Alberto Emídio are fourth generation. These guys have something going on with their reds, but for me the whites were brilliant at this moment. The entry-level Quinta Várzea da Pedra Branco 2019 from arinto and fernão pires is a textbook wine; light straw, quite glyseric on the nose, with yellow apples and flowers, full on the palate, but with a very good acidity. It was followed by an equally good 100% arinto, and a wine made from four clones of sauvignon blanc. The day before at the opening dinner, another wine really caught my attention, a fernão pires. This one like the former is simply called Quinta Várzea da Pedra, and the vintage was 2017. It was a really fresh wine, both unctuous, creamy and with a wonderful acidity. The dominating aromas were citrus, with a hint of tropical fruits and some minerality. This wine was focused last week (read here).
Nearby in Cadaval we find Quinta do Olival da Murta. Only 15 km from the sea, by the Montejunto mountain range, Joana Vivas has 20 hectars under vine. The Serra Oca 2019 is a moscatel graúdo (the alexandria family), fermented in 1.000 liter oak vats: Golden colour; floral with a touch of honey; it has some volume, but also a distinctive acidity. An interesting one was a 3 days maceration curtimenta (orange wine) from fernão pires, arinto and moscatel, partly fermented in barrique, the rest in steel. This was golden with a hint of brown; somewhat more aromatic, citric and flowers, and again both full and a bit tannic with a cutting edge acidity. I include one of the reds, also called Serra Oca, now 2015. The grapes are touriga nacional, aragônez and castelão that spent one and a half years in French, used barrels. It’s dark cherry in colour; I noted mint (and it showed that the winery has this plant near the vineyards), together with dark fruits; quite well-structured and dry.
Alcobaça is a subdivision of Encostas d’Aire. Rodrigo Martins consults for other producers, but here he has his own project Espera. The wines show a strong Atlantic influence, and the acidity is always taking the wines to places. We started with the young Espera 2019, bical and arinto from clay and limestone soils. Arinto brings an uplifting acidity to the waxy, tasty character of the bical. The Espera Rosé was made with whole bunches of touriga nacional and fermented in barriques: Light pink; raspberry and strawberry on the nose, together with a slight toasted note; again some volume and a super acidity. I also liked the Espera Curtimenta 2020. As the name implies it’s an orange wine, with 17 days of skin-contact. But the colour was very light, so the manipulation can not have been particularly rough during that time. It has a wonderful aroma of flowers and lime peel, and in the mouth it’s full with concentrated fruit, again a lovely acidity and a saline finish. The Palhete 2020 from 15% castelão and five white varieties was an appealing wine, with its early harvest acidity, red fruit nose and all. The nose was quite discreet, but on the palate it had more concentration. A super fresh and light wine, Nat Cool 2020, is a castelão that goes into Dirk Niepoort’s nationwide series of glou-glou wines of the same name in 1 liter bottles. It’s made solely in steel, with two days of maceration. It’s light ruby; red fruits (raspberry), with a hint of smoke (from the soil), mellow and easy, but with enough acidity, a saline finish – and as cool as can be.
Baías e Enseadas (bays and coves, in English) is found further south, in Codiceira, Sintra. This is the land of the famous Colares wine, and we are approaching the capital city. The soil is essentially clay-limestone, with a predominance of clay in their vineyard Vinha da Ribeirinha, that results in richer wines. In Vinha do Campo there is more limestone, that accounts for more elegant wines. Then it’s possible to combine the two to give more complexity. The white that they brought, Reserva Branco Fernão Pires 2016, was from a low-acidity year, according to Daniel Afonso. He didn’t manage to bring my impression down though, as the wine was very attractive. 6 months in wood, four of them with batonnage, gave a full-bodied wine, but (as indicated) without the acidity that this region can offer. His Baías e Enseadas 2016 from 60% castelão and the rest pinot noir was light ruby with some evolution in the colour; fresh Atlantic aroma, with red fruits, a lactic note (yoghurt?); an attractive acidity and a salty aftertaste. He also brought the red Baías e Enseados 2017, pinot noir 30%, tinta roriz 30, castelão 40, was a light wine with some evolution in appearance; red fruits (plum), some smoke; attractive and mellow with just enough acidity, and a saline finish.
We will soon meet to talk about wines from more well-known regions, and I promise a cultural element.