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Showing posts with label organic wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic wine. Show all posts

07 April 2021

Varietal wines of the moment (except Sauvignon blanc)

Finest Valle de Leyda Chardonnay 2020, Chile - Luis Felipe Edwards (13.5% abv): As soon as this delicious fruity Chardy was discovered among Tesco's large 'Finest' range, it went out of stock; hopefully just temporarily. Ripe peach and melon fruit with creamy tones then zestier citrus on its weighty but balanced finished. Oak is suggested in the blurb but it was hard to spot, perhaps adding to its rounded texture and cashew flavours. £8 Tesco. (Since then, a subsequent bottle did strangely taste oaky...)

14 April 2016

Languedoc: Domaines Paul Mas, organic frog

LATEST UPDATE HERE (Sept. 2016)

You can't knock Domaines Paul Mas' boss Jean-Claude Mas for coming up with something new every year (at least) to taste and write about. His Arrogant Frog range appears to be doing well in export markets with a sense of humour - and the wines are mostly good too - which has now been boosted by a couple of organic labels too. Mas says this is part of an overall strategy, perhaps since buying the 30-hectare Mas des Tannes organic vineyard in Montagnac in the central Languedoc, across the road from their head office, winery and showcase restaurant/wine shop, which "has always been managed without any synthetic chemical products," the press blurb claims. Inspired by the 2015 vintage and "the outstanding quality of the fruit we picked... This year, we have been experimenting with low SO2 fermentation techniques and the results are convincing: the cuvées without sulphur taste far better than those to which sulphur has been used throughout the fermentation and they continue to develop in intensity,” Jean-Claude exuded.
So, I recently sampled five Mas wines positioned in this increasingly fashionable camp - whether they're worth the extra money for being organic or without added sulphites is another argument I suppose, one which will be decided by his regular wine punters. But this progressive winery is obviously trying to 'do the right thing' in terms of the environment and health. These were my favourites then...

Arrogant Frog Organic Chardonnay 2014 - 100% Chardonnay sourced from Limoux in the western Languedoc (vineyards farmed organically for 10 years), 20% of it fermented and aged for 3 months in American oak barrels, 13.5% abv. Tasty Chardy style, well made with subtle oak and yeast-lees notes complementing juicy vs sunny peachy fruit. £9.75 Vintage Roots.
Arrogant Frog Organic Ribet Rouge 'Rural' 2014 - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon / 45% Merlot, 25% of the blend aged for 3 months in new oak, 13.5% abv. Nice enough soft red, a bit too easy for the money though just because it's organic. £9.75 Vintage Roots.
Cuvée Secrète 2014 Merlot / Cabernet Franc - organic with no added sulphites, no oak, 14% abv. Quite serious red, chunky and concentrated with savoury/meaty edges, firm and spicy palate with cooked damson vs soy sauce flavours. Good stuff. £9.75 Vintage Roots.
Mas des Tannes Réserve Rouge 2014 - organic 55% Cabernet Sauvignon / 35% Grenache / 10% Mourvèdre, 6 months in French and American oak, 14% abv. Probably the best of these reds, richer spice and sweet berry fruit combo, structured yet rounded mouth-feel with good depth. Should improve over the next year or so. £12.95 Soho Wine Supply.

More about Jean-Claude Mas and his wines on this blog:

27 November 2015

Cahors: special supplement updated


I've updated my Cahors special supplement exploring one of south-west France's most exciting wine regions and 'home of Malbec,' as the PR slogan goes. This report has now expanded to nearly 20 pages of words, wines and photos including new profiles and my notes, views and reviews on/of these ten leading organic châteaux and wineries: Lacapelle-Cabanac, Chambert, Haut-Monplaisir, Le Clos d'un Jour, Cèdre, Mas del Périé, Cayrou, Tour de Miraval, Marjolière and Les Hauts d'Aglan.
It's now available as part of a massive French wine e-magazine HERE.
Photo: "150 to 200 year-old" cedar tree in front of curious round-tower outbuilding next to Château du Cayrou.

24 September 2013

Roussillon: Sylvain Respaut, Montner

Grape treading party from facebook.com/DomaineRespaut
Sylvain Respaut describes himself as an "Agly valley apiqueron," which, for those of you who can't find this word in their handy Collins Robert or Larousse dic, is naturally a play on two French words, "apiculteur" and "vigneron" i.e. beekeeper and winegrower combined. Since that's what he does: the honey farm (the Roussillon is also well-known for artisan honey production), called Cara'miel, is found near the village of Caramany in deepest Fenouillèdes country and was started in 2007 "with 200 hives mainly populated with a local bee variety called the 'black bee'." (If they're the same ones I'm thinking of, which I used to get buzzing around my lavender plant on my terrace when I lived in the region, they're enormous... Ed.) Organic farming was introduced in 2009, and Sylvain caught the grape bug in 2011 with the purchase of 4 ha of vines in the Montner area. More about bees, honey and his wines on caramiel.fr or check out his FB page link under the photo.
2011 was the first vintage, so we could see these wines developing more depth and character with time, hopefully, although they're attractive drinking now. Sylvain also makes a white called 'Zumo' from old Grenache gris in addition to the three wines I tasted, which are simply labelled as 'Vin de France' and subjected to, or rather not, 'natural' winemaking such as wild yeast fermentation etc.

2012 Tangerine (Chardonnay) - citrus and orange peel notes, quite crisp and 'mineral' on the palate vs nice peachy fruit.
2011 Plein Les Ceps (Grenache made by 'carbonic maceration') - fairly light and elegant for Grenache, perfumed fruit with a riper more liquorice side, soft and easygoing finish.
2011 Gorgorlou (Grenache and 100 year-old Carignan) - richer and funkier, chunky fruity palate, quite soft; again lacks a bit of depth but it's nice now. 

16 August 2013

Roussillon: Domaine des Soulanes update

Fooled you - IT'S HERE actually...

Some of those Soulanes = south-facing hillside
Taken by Vi Erickson

15 August 2013

Sicily: Bosco Falconeria

This Sicilian estate winery's full title is Bosco Falconeria Azienda biologica Simeti Taylor (goes to their Facebook page, where I pinched the photo from), hence the "Simeti Taylor organic farm." Found near Partinico a good trek to the west of Palermo "in the hills overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare", farm is very much the right word; as you can see from the fresh mulberries below, they grow a variety of fruit, veg and nuts here as well as wine grapes, and have done organically for almost 25 years.


This old family property was resurrected in the 1970s as a holiday home initially, then brought back into production in the 80s by Antonio Simeti, an agricultural specialist, and his American wife Mary Taylor. The estate is now managed by Natalia Simeti and her husband Rami Salo, a Finnish Tai Chi Chuan instructor - that should come in handy for handling the stress at harvest time! They also run courses and seminars in this ancient Chinese body and mind art, by the way. And there's a market on the first Sunday of the month... this place sounds interesting, will have to go there some day... Anyway, here's what I said about three of their wines:

2011 Catarratto white - nutty with crisp appley notes, pretty fresh on the palate layered with nice nutty richness & intensity.
2011 Falco Peregrino white (Catarratto fermented on the skins, no added sulphur dioxide) - more exotic and perfumed, light bitter apricot character then softer finish, again refreshing acidity with good depth of fruit and more nutty flavours on the finish. Good stuff, unusual.
2011 Nero d'Avola red - it was a little 'baked' when I tried it (could have been open too long / too warm) with rather firm tannins. Not sure, would like to try it again sometime...
More info @ boscofalconeria.it

And more Sicilian and Italian wineries and wines HERE.

14 August 2013

Languedoc: Château Maris - Minervois La Livinière

from chateaumaris.com
Robert Eden, "bio-dynamic wine maker" as he describes himself on their website, has been working in the Languedoc for many years now and set up Château Maris 15 years ago, backed by Kevin Parker of Green Partners. They're obviously very committed to environmentally friendly wine production - Demeter certified since 2008, Biodyvins in 2004 (both for biodynamics), Ecocert in 2002 and the National Organic Program - and there's a fair amount of detail on this on their site: click on web link under the photo (Robert with one of their vineyard horses). But to try and go 'all the way' organically, in terms of carbon emissions, water and energy sustainability etc., they also built "the world’s first hemp cellar." Before you spliff-heads out there get too excited, this means they used hemp and lime bricks, which apparently continue absorbing CO2 for many years "as the lime solidifies into limestone," and a lot of raw wood from sustainably managed forests. They claim these materials also provide excellent natural insulation, while being able "to breathe" at the same time...

The € prices quoted are from online retailer The Languedoc Wineshop. Their wines are well distributed in the US, e.g. Verity Wine Partners NY or Kimberly Jones in California, and in Canada (see website for more info); and through Armit Wines in London (£ prices from their online store).
2011 Maris Organic Minervois (mostly Syrah, Grenache) - lovely pure spicy violet and black cherry aromas, tasty fruit with fairly easy-going tannins, nice ripe vs peppery finish. €7.80, £59.94 for six.
2010 La Touge Minervois La Livinière (85% Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - similar pure spicy Syrah style fruit on the nose, punchier and more structured though, attractive dry tannin vs sweet fruit texture, fresh bite and good length. €12.40, £89.94 for six.
2010 Continuité de Nature La Livinière (90% Carignan, Grenache) - jammy blue fruits lined with fresh acidity yet powerful too, concentrated and tight palate, very different from the above wine considering it's the same vintage, leaner and longer; probably more versatile with food though. €21.60, £119.94 for six.
2009 Nouvelles Fraiches Grenache - 'oily' sweet liquorice notes on the nose, ripe and rounded mouth-feel, quite punchy, fades a little in the end. €16.60

18 May 2013

Roussillon: Mas Delmas, Rivesaltes

Pruning at Mas Delmas - yes, it's cold in the Roussillon in winter!
From 
masdelmasleblog.fr
Pierre-André and Mercedes Delmas' organic vineyards lie on low south-facing slopes of the Corbieres hills, in the Rivesaltes and Salses-le-Chateau area in the northeastern corner of rough-and-ready Roussillon country. This wide-open windswept terrain feels exposed and airy under a vast, bright and 'larger than life' skyline, as you look out to sea to the east and the Pyrenees to the southwest. Mind you, it isn't always dry and sunny here: I see from their blog that their cellar in Rivesaltes was flooded in March after a mega deluge. Hopefully didn't cause any lasting damage or losses. Having lived in the region, I can indeed confirm that, when it rains, it can rain big time. In addition to a few Roussillon red blends and Muscat and Rivesaltes VDN styles, they also make a new 50/50 old-vine Grenache-Syrah called 'Nature' with no added sulphites and a white and rosé.


Marie Delmas Muscat sec 2011 (12.5% abv) - pretty typical easy-going aromatic dry Muscat style, although a touch fuller and rounder than most; went well with a variety of Chinese dishes (spicy stir-fried veg, salt & chilli prawns, sesame coated pork, smoky noodles...).
Marie Delmas Côtes du Roussillion Villages 2010 (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre; 13.5% abv) - rich dark cherry fruit with savoury black olive and wild volatile edges, peppery and dry vs quite soft tannins, nice balance actually of fruit, grip and concentration giving a solid vs drinking well palate profile. Fairly wild/volatile on the nose but has attractive texture, flavour and depth too.
M del Mas 2009 (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan; 14% abv, 50 cl) - rich dried black cherry with smoky savoury meaty edges, concentrated and lush vs lovely dry yet supple tannins, hints of coconut vs nice maturing fruit, powerful yet balanced finish.
Muscat 2005 Vin Doux Naturel (aged in casks for 6+ years) - quirky complex style of Muscat, caramelized marmalade flavours blend with baked Brazil and pecan nuts, tangy long finish layered with lush dried fruits. Dessert alternative on its own or pour some over vanilla ice cream!


Going there:  29 avenue du stade, 66600 Rivesaltes. Phone: +33(0) 468 518 810.

24 April 2013

Southern Rhône: Domaine de Dionysos, Uchaux

Apparently this vineyard goes back to the 18th century, when the Farjon family left Marseille to escape the plague (rather than traffic or gangsters nowadays) and landed in Uchaux to the north of Orange. It was named 'Dionysos' in 1974 by Benjamin's grandfather, the latest generation to get stuck into the earth, in partnership with winegrower Dimitri Théodosiou who owns vineyards in the Visan area. The estate is now certified organic, and these two guys have recently turned their attentions to "working with biodynamics." Varieties planted are what you'd expect for this southern Rhône Valley region: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, "very old" Carignan and Viognier. Some of these wines are available in Ireland at Byrne hotels (three in Galway and one in Dublin) and Direct Wines/Laithwaite's in the UK (see £ below). Also sold "in the US and elsewhere in Europe" I was told: more @ domainededionysos.com.


2012 La Devèze Viognier - lovely perfumed honeyed apricot notes, juicy and rich palate with a bit of oomph (14% abv), attractive sunny style.
2012 La Devèze rosé Côtes du Rhône (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault) - juicy red fruits with oily/nutty edges, lively cherry fruit with nice bite on the finish.
2011 La Devèze red Côtes du Rhône (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan) - delicious 'sweet' liquorice and spice, soft and tasty palate, lovely easy-going style. £9.99 for the 2010 at Laithwaite's.
2011 La Cigalette Cairanne (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre mostly) - similar enticing Grenache-led profile with liquorice, ripe raspberry and peppery edges; more concentrated though with firmer mouth-feel and fairly powerful, but still drinking nicely now. £10.99 for the 2010 at Laithwaite's.
2012 Toute nue pour votre plaisir (Syrah with no added SO2 - nue meaning naked or bare) - lovely pure and spicy fruit, quite soft and layered with dark cherry Syrah fruit, bit of grip on the finish vs tasty and fruity.

01 December 2012

Languedoc: Virgile Joly update, Saint-Saturnin

From domainevirgilejoly.com
There's a short and sweet profile blurb on Domaine Virgile Joly HERE along with some of his wines tasted in 2010 and 2011. What's new then, apart from the latest releases / revisiting certain vintages as reported below? Well, I see the area under vine has quickly grown up by five hectares (now around 37 acres in total) in the Saint-Saturnin area, an awfully quiet village found 30 or 40 km northwest of Montpellier (although I think I heard it now has a restaurant!). And all the vineyard stuff here continues full steam ahead organic grape-growing etc. wise with "natural" winemaking. These wines were sampled at this year's Millésime Bio show in Montpellier; and I've seen Virgile around at other events entertaining English speaking customers, so export is obviously important for him.

2011 blanc (Grenache blanc + 5% Roussanne) - attractive crisp green fruit with vibrant gooseberry, grapefruit and grape aromas vs rounder oilier weightier finish. Good.
2009 Saturne blanc (Grenache blanc) - enticing nutty oxidizing Fino notes with attractive crisp dry palate vs again a rounder finish. Another good white.
2009 rouge (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - nice cherry fruit with savoury edges, developing liquorice and tobacco notes too, dry grip vs sweet fruit, tasty and quite powerful too.
2007 Saturne rouge (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault) - I tried this a couple of years ago and concluded: "...unripe? reduced? Not sure..." And this time? That 'reductive' and/or herbaceous note was still there, cassis and red pepper; quite concentrated with rounded tannins, that awkward background character lingers although there's nice sweet fruit and structured grip too.
2006 Virgile rouge - some similar notes on the nose, attractive palate though with concentrated firm framework and dark vs crunchy fruit profile. Tightens up on the finish, needs time still. Very good in the end.

29 November 2012

Languedoc: Domaine Coston update, Terrasses du Larzac

You'll find my previous words of wisdom on this very much family affair - Joseph, Marie-Thérèse, Philippe and Jean-Marc Coston to be precise - and their generally pretty good range of wines on this page (notes posted 2006 and 2008). Wow, was that really four years already?! I caught up with Philippe or Jean-Marc (sorry, can't remember which one, they do look a little alike being, like erm, brothers...) earlier this year at Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier (they have been bio since '99 actually) and tried their latest vintages, tasting-noted below. He took great relish in telling me they've recently replanted nine hectares (12 acres) of vine-land, which they acquired after the very high-profile failed Mondavi bid debacle to buy up the entire village area I think. Here we go...

2011 rosé (Mourvèdre, Carignan, Syrah) - clean and crisp style, quite taut zingy and steely finish. Nice with it though. €6 cellar door.
2010 Terrasses du Larzac red (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre) - enticing meaty edges with spicy minty wild herbs vs dark fruits, tight firm mouth-feel with subtle vs concentrated finish. Good stuff. €9
2009 Les Garigoles (Grenache, Syrah) - savoury vs rich mix, hints of oak grain on a dry solid palate, shows good balance of developing fruit, grip and weight on its still quite closed up finish. €16
2010 Les Garigoles (Grenache, Syrah) - richer and smokier than the 09, a tad more chocolate oak too but has more depth and structure, chewy savoury vs dark fruit finish with attractively textured tannins. Very good. €16

28 November 2012

Languedoc: Domaine de Roquemale, Grés de Montpellier

Valérie and Dominique Ibanez bought 11 ha (27 acres) of vines, some of them up to 60 years old, in the Roquemale valley (means something like "cursed rock," as the soils are indeed stoney around here) near Villeveyrac in the slightly schizophrenic Grés de Montpellier appellation (their vineyard lies to the west of the city, but the AOP area extends across to the other side of town too). There's a towards quirky mix of varieties planted here - Syrah, Grenache noir, gris and blanc; Cinsault, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino and some old-vine Servant (!?) - which have all been tended organically since 2008. The Ibanez's have also put a lot of work and €€ into doing up their sizeable old stone cellar in the village to combine mini-winery, tasting and sales area and a cosy room/apartment offering B&B. They hold 'open weekends' four times a year, if you're ever in the area and fancy a spot of tasting and vine gazing. All you need to know @ www.roquemale.com. I tasted these wines with Valérie at this year's Millésime Bio wine show.

2011 Les Cistes rosé (Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache) - attractive crisp and zingy style rosé with a touch of elegance too.
2011 Roq Blanc (Grenache gris and blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne Vermentino) - tasty exotic fruit with peach and mango aromas and nice yeast-lees edges, steely gummy notes too on the palate vs enticing fatter texture, subtle and complex vs full and rounded; drinking well now.
2010 Les Grés red (mostly Syrah + Grenache, no oak) - seductive fruity spicy Syrah characters with minty peppery black cherry fruit vs dry grip, lovely lingering fruit.
2010 Lema (mostly Grenache + Syrah, 20% of it barrel-aged) - a little closed up at first with smoky oak undertones, concentrated and more extracted mouth-feel, grippy tight tannic structure; less obvious and fruity than above but has longer finish and will probably end up more interesting.
2010 Male (not the highly scented JPG aftershave, but mostly Syrah with 50% new oak) - not too oaky though with dense extracted black cherry and chocolate flavours, attractive grainy vs rounded tannins with powerful tight finish; needs a bit of time to open up.

23 July 2012

Roussillon: Domaine de l'Ausseil update, Latour de France

Latour de France overlooking Grenache gris vines  Domaine de L'Ausseil
Latour de France watching over old Grenache gris vines
Domaine de L'Ausseil
Previous wines and words on Domaine de l'Ausseil can be found here (April 2007 and April 2009). Owner/grower/winemaker Jacques de Chancel was, as sure as flowering follows budding, at the 2012 vintage version of Millésime Bio wine fair (held in Montpellier earlier this year) with the latest vintages gleaned from about 10 organic ha (25 acres) of mostly old vines scattered around the handsome timeless village of Latour de France (photo). Among other things, Jacques told me that, in addition to organic-only treatments in their vineyards, he's also focusing on using "very little - less than 10 milligrams per litre - or no SO2" (sulphites in winemaking: without wanting to get too chemical, 10mg/l is roughly 10% or less of what could be in a 'regular' bottle, depending on the wine/winemaker). €uro prices below are cellar door (in France obviously) to give you an indication: more info @ www.lausseil.com.

2011 P'tit Piaf white - very Muscaty with orange peel vs floral grapey notes, ripe and rounded vs crisp and juicy. Nice easy style. €6.50
2011 P'tit Piaf rosé (Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah) - zingy 'mineral' touches with yeast-lees undertones, crisp dry finish. Nice style again. €6.50
2010 Papillon (Grenache gris/blanc, Macabeu, Muscat) - rich nose with complex 'volatile' edges, lovely spicy vs honeyed palate with lush and lees-y vs intense 'mineral' finish. Very good dry white. €13
2008 La Capitelle Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache) – lush vs savoury style red, again has that intriguing wilder side and lovely concentrated fruit; developing quite fast but it's still very good. €9.50
2007 Les Trois Pierres Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France – reductive/herby vs ripe and aromatic Syrah dominant profile (?), meaty and concentrated with chunky tannins, developing complex flavours with powerful finish. Lovely red. €14
2011 Prise de Bec red (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) – lively black cherry/berry and cassis to start, soft vs dry texture, attractive quaffer finishing with peppery liquorice notes.
2011 Du Vent dans les Plumes(Carignan based) – quite rustic / bretty even (?) and spicy, although the former works here thanks to its rich vs crunchy mix of flavours and textures; concentrated too with thick yet supple tannins. Very good actually despite that initial nose.

10 July 2012

Rhône: Domaine Jean David, Séguret

Jean David
I met Jean at the lunch table at Millésime Bio organic wine fair in Montpellier earlier this year, where he had a bottle of one of his commanding 2010 reds open for sampling with the nosh (organic of course). This cuvée is a touch different from the norm around these wild and spectacular parts (and in their range too), as it's made predominantly from old Carignan (47%) followed by the staple Grenache (31), Mourvèdre (11) and splashes of Syrah (8) and Counoise (3). The blend is done this way as it's sourced from a particular plot among 16 ha (40 acres) overall, where these vine varieties are all mixed up together roughly in these proportions; hence this wine's made in ye olde "field blend" style. Jean and Martine David are fair old-timers when it comes to organics, as they've been doing it in their vineyards since 1989. Respek. Séguret is one of those lovely old-as-time villages stuck on a hill and a stand-alone Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation lying somewhere between Gigondas and Rasteau in the shadow of the brooding Dentelles de Montmirail hills. They make six other wines, which I look forward to trying sometime somewhere.
More @ www.domaine-jean-david.com where, for a nice change, they say, accurately, they don't use synthetic chemicals etc. Unlike some organic growers who conveniently make generalizations about not using any chemicals, as if explaining the details doesn't matter. My point being many consumers are a bit confused and believe organic means no chemicals, which clearly isn't the case (sulphur, sulphur dioxide, copper based treatments...). These are considered 'natural', which, well, they are, and are sanctioned and difficult to do without (although some are trying with varying results...). Sorry to be pedantic but worth repeating my little rant just to clarify!

2010 Cuvée Beau Nez Séguret (14.5%) - chunky vs aromatic style, powerful with lush dark fruit, firm and punchy finish with meaty savoury notes too. Needs a few months to open up but it's good stuff.

More Côtes du Rhône Séguret profiles and wines to follow (Domaine de Mourchon...)

09 July 2012

Rhône: Palai Mignon, Tavel & Lirac

Tavel
www.vin-tavel.com

The compact neighbouring wine regions of Tavel and Lirac, known for their chunky rosés and reds based on Grenache, are classed under the Rhône Valley, which they are in lying just to the northwest of Avignon; although the village of Tavel, where this wee winery is found is actually in the Gard département in the Languedoc. A not particularly confusing fact though, nor terribly interesting and who gives a damn anyway, you may be tempted to add. The curiously named Palai Mignon (cute palace?) belongs to winegrower/maker Cyril Amido and comes to a slender three ha (7.5 acres) farmed organically - he set up this label in 2005 (having worked for the local co-op for years) and has been certified organic since the 2011 vintage. I couldn't find a website or blog but his email is cyril.amido@orange.fr, if you ever wanted to call in and taste sometime or find out where he sells his wines (outside of France), which are worth tracking down imho. I sampled these two tasty little numbers at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier earlier this year:


2011 Tavel (mostly Grenache + Syrah, Clairette, Carignan) - rich colour and rounded full-bodied style rosé, nice lees edges and a touch of 'mineral' character somehow, although this isn't especially acidic with its fruity oily texture. Different, good with food I'd imagine.

2011 Lirac 'Caprice' (mostly Grenache + Syrah, Mourvèdre) - aromatic perfumed and spicy liquorice fruit, ripe and juicy palate with attractive tannins and 'sweet' fruit, quite elegant actually with subtle grip and weight to finish. Very good.

08 June 2012

Sicily: Valdibella, Camporeale


Valdibella is a mini co-operative winery set up in the late 90s, although the local 'crops' - grapes (mostly indigenous varieties), almonds (apparently there are 90 types grown in this region) and olives - have been farmed organically here for longer, as sustainable nature is the members' central common ethos. The company is also a community spirited employer and lobbying organization that supports "young people in difficulty" and the Addiopizzo movement against "mafia rackets," as it says on their site. Its six members include Massimiliano Solano, Luigi Montalbano, Gioacchino Accardo, Pietro Scardino and Filippo Giglione, who between them own 38 ha (95 acres) of undulating vineyards around Camporeale and Monreale, on the western side of Sicily inland from Palermo, planted on slopes up to 500 metres (1640 feet above sea level). The people at the co-op have also written their own biodiversity and winemaking charter - see www.valdibella.com - including a low or no sulphite policy, which is a tricky path to tip-toe down and not entirely successful in all of the wines I tried, although some of them are deliciously quirky with it. They're rather proud of their Catarratto too, an old and widely-planted Sicilian white variety, which you'll find here as 50 year-old bush vines and made into three different wines. Same story for Perricone, an almost extinct red grape vine indigenous to western Sicily. Encountered at this year's Millesime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier.


2010 Isolano (100% Catarratto "Extra Lucido") - appley nutty 'natural' style with lovely bite and intense finish.
2011 Ariddu (Grillo) - wild yeast-leesy nose, fairly rich mouth-feel vs crisp mineral bite and citrus fruits, concentrated and lively finish. Yum, very nice white.
2010 Acamante (Perricone) - perfumed and peppery with floral cherry notes, tasty palate with quite soft vs dry tannins. Different and good with it.
2011 Respiro (Nero d'Avola, no SO2 hence the name presumably meaning "breath") - a little baked/oxidised and meaty on the nose vs ripe dark fruit combo, attractive supple tannins. Was a vat sample though so might not have travelled well!
2010 Respiro - similar nose although fruitier vs those developed meaty edges, concentrated chunky mouth-feel vs rounded tannins. Good stuff.
2010 Jaki (50-50 Cabernet Sauvignon-Nero d'Avola) - dark 'tar' like aromas, rich extracted palate with again those nice tannins, very ripe oily character almost vs enticing savoury meaty maturing edges. Wow, a bit odd but delicious with it.

11 May 2012

Austria: Werner Michlits, Burgenland

Egg-shaped vats at Meinklang
The Michlits family - namely Anneliese, Werner, Johannes and Lukas - estate is a comforting back-to-nature flashback in time (apart from those splendidly quirky egg-shaped concrete vats - see photo - which have become the trendy thing to ferment your wine in apparently), as vines are just one of the 'foodstuffs' that receive their undivided biodynamic attention (and the fruit is turned into grape juice and wine). They also grow apples (and make apple juice, brandy and vinegar), cereals (transformed into beer) and sunflowers and rear cattle (you'll notice a bit of a cow/bull theme on their website and labels), pigs and horses too! The most planted grape varieties here are the red Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, pretty typical of the warmer Burgenland region in eastern Austria, followed by other reds Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) and St. Laurent plus a smidgen of 30+ year-old Cabernet Sauvignon, the region's oldest Cab I'm told.
On the white front, which I focused on tasting at this year's Millésime Bio wine show held in Montpellier a few months ago, they have Welschriesling (Laski Rizling, "Italian" Riesling or Graševina among other synonyms; but it's not Riesling Riesling the experts say), Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grüner Veltliner and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris). The farm, actually the most appropriate word, has been run organically since 1980 and is now Demeter registered. And, as if all of this wasn't enough to keep them busy, they have a small vineyard across the border in Somló, Hungary, hence the ever-so-familiar (not!), and rather delicious in fact, Juhfark varietal wine noted below; as well as more familiar, although much trickier to pronounce Hárslevelü. Like your style! More info, and a selection of nice little red and green cows doubling up as links, @ www.meinklang.at.

Meinklang Grüner Veltliner 2011 - aromatic and peppery nose, intense zingy green fruity mouth-feel with lively finish, nice refreshing style. €7.60 cellar door.
Graupert 2011 (Pinot Gris) - quite rich and honeyed countered by attractive spice tones, big mouthful with creamy oily texture/flavours vs crisp tight finish; good characterful stuff. €13.60
Juhfark 2010 - also lush textured with exotic fruit style, concentrated vs steely palate with lots of flavour and finish. Very good though dear at nearly €20 a bottle.
Weißburgunder Eiswein 2008 - complex dried fruits, honey and marmalade vs intense lively acidity, lush sweet dried fruit finish vs steely cut. Wow, lovely wine.


LOTS MORE AUSTRIA HERE (Pfaffl, Grüner Veltliner Galore, "I'll be back..." and other archive features) or see post below: Sepp Moser.

30 April 2012

Austria: Weingut Sepp Moser

The Moser family
Weingut Moser is an old and well-known family estate (partly due to famous ancestor Lenz Moser who pioneered new viticulture techniques in the 1950s) originally acquired in the mid 19th Century, although the Mosers have been connected with vineyards and wine for much longer than that; and it saw a rebirth and name tweak (to Sepp) with a little restructuring in the 1980s. Today it's run by son Nikolaus, who introduced biodynamic wine-growing methods in 2006 (certain vineyards are now Demeter certified) among other 'back-to-basics' ideas. They own vines in Kremstal (70 km/45 miles west of Vienna where the cellar and home is), Neusiedlersee, Lower Austria and Burgenland. At the family base in Rohrendorf near Krems, specific vineyards include the highly-rated Gebling (two wines sampled and tasting-noted below), an 8.5 ha (21 acre) plot featuring steep south-facing terraces. Apart from signature varieties "Grooner" and Riesling, they also have some Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot blanc, Muscat, a few red varieties and make a rosé too (as you do nowadays). I talked to Nikolaus and tasted these at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier:


2011 Grüner Veltliner von den Terrassen - steely green-fruited and crisp start, turning juicy gummy and spicy then oilier too, lively fresh finish although not too acidic. Good. €8.50 cellar door.
2010 Grüner Veltliner Gebling - creamier fuller style with tantalising white pepper edges, vibrant and concentrated with yeast-lees tones then long steely finish. Very good. €12 cellar door.
2010 Riesling Gebling - aromatic 'chalky' nose with hints of celery, concentrated crisp and lively with lime fruit flavours, developing oily touches on the finish. Delicious wine. €16 cellar door.
2009 Grüner Veltliner 'Minimal' - very buttery with toasty hazelnut and fino notes, rich and tasty vs dry 'mineral' palate, superb finish and style. Different too. €25 cellar door.
2009 Riesling Beerenauslese - oily nose with orange peel nuances, lush sweet mouth-feel vs lovely bite and length vs lots of lingering dried fruit flavours. Classy sweetie. €24 cellar door.

These wines have pretty good distribution across Europe (including the UK and Ireland), North America, Japan, China, Australia & NZ and Israel: see www.sepp-moser.at.

LOTS MORE AUSTRIA HERE (Pfaffl, Grüner Veltliner Galore, "I'll be back..." and other archive features).

23 April 2012

Corsica: Domaine de Granajolo, Porto-Vecchio

Looking at this post scribbled back in 2007, when I first/last tasted Granajolo's wines, I was obviously a little disappointed, in them and Corsica as a whole. I had the chance to catch up with owner / winegrower Gwenaele Boucher a couple of months ago at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier - meaning their vineyards are, since 1987 officially although ma and pa Monika and André worked their 20 hectares in this way from the start apparently - and tried the latest vintages from her range. And the verdict this time? Quite the opposite: I was very keen on four out of five; I didn't go for their supposedly top red "Le J", which was over-oaked and lacking in charm unlike the other wines.
Originally, like many simple grape growers at that time, Gwenaele's parents were members of a co-op, followed by an interim stint where someone else made the wines; and it wasn't until after she took over the estate that they built their own cellar, in operation since 2003. Their vineyards are found on the stark granite hillsides lying around Sainte-Lucie de Porto-Vecchio in the southeastern corner of the island (if it really has a southeast corner: look on a map and you'll see what I mean...). Anyway, it's certainly a very beautiful corner of a must-visit island if you haven't been before. These wine-lands are mostly planted with local varieties Niellucciu (related to Sangiovese), Sciaccarellu and Vermentinu (aka Vermentino, Rolle [probably] or Malvoisie de Corse, which is supposedly related to Malvasia but not to what the French otherwise call Malvoisie; clicking on the latter variety name on Wikipedia actually redirects you to Pinot Gris! I think I'll stop there as it's getting very confusing...)
www.granajolo.fr


All from the Corse-Porto-Vecchio appellation:
2011 tradition white (Vermentino) - juicy banana-scented fruit, concentrated vs crisp palate with aromatic fruit and rounded texture; very nice dry white.
2011 tradition rosé (Sciaccarellu) - lovely juicy fruit and mouth-feel with elegant touches, tasty quaffing rosé yet serious enough to go with a variety of foods. Good stuff.
2009 tradition red (Niellucciu) - quite browny-red in colour and mature showing delicious liquorice vs savoury notes, very ripe with 'tar' like tones too vs wild herb edges; enticing 'sweet/savoury' combo to finish, lovely style and drinking well now. Very good.
2009 Monika red (Niellucciu + Syrah) - again has its attractive ripe and aromatic 'garrigue' side with smoky notes, soft tasty palate with dry grip vs rounded texture; nice stylish Med red.
2009 Le J red (Niellucciu + Syrah) - a little vanilla and sweet coconut heavy and the tannins are quite wood-grainy.


More organic Corsican wines and people to follow...

20 April 2012

Roussillon: Domaine Lavista / Pouderoux update

Photo from domainepouderoux.fr
Click here to find a profile on Domaine Pouderoux and plenty of reds, whites and Maury VDNs to make your mouth water, all tasted on two previous trips to cellar and vineyards (2006 and 2009). The latest news is that Catherine and Robert Pouderoux have caught the organic bug, as I discovered catching up with them at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier recently. Domaine Lavista consists of a few hectares of organically farmed vineyards officially 'certifed' from 2011, hence just three wines from this vintage so far tasting-noted below. More info to follow on this, which looks like an exciting "project"...

2011 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Mourvèdre & Syrah) – tasty juicy dark-fruited and spicy red with black cherry/berry aromas/flavours, a hint of attractive dry grip vs lush fruity finish. Already promising (not released yet).
2011 Collection white IGP Côtes Catalanes (Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Macabeu, Malvoisie, Clairette, Carignan blanc) – enticingly crisp and juicy style with lively zingy finish, has a bit of character and weight too. Good.
2011 Muscat sec – clean and crisp grapey Muscat style, zesty dry and nice & easy too.

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