Lusenti’s Bianca Regina 2010

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I went to Venice yesterday. Had a delicious lunch at Estro (highly recommended, by the way!) and then decided to see if I could retrace my steps to a cute, little wine bar that I stumbled across in December.

Fortunately, my trusty nose / ability to find wine / sense of direction is pretty good and, even though I didn’t remember the name or address, I was able to find my way back to the Cantina Arnaldi (also totally worth the visit.)

Andrea at Cantina Arnaldi, Venezia

Andrea of the Cantina Arnaldi, Venezia

I actually had a secret agenda – I wanted to bring a bottle of something a little different back for my boyfriend, “A”. I asked Andrea at Arnaldi (pictured above) for a suggestion… and it turns out to have been spot on. It’s one of the most interesting wines I’ve drunk recently.


LUSENTI (Colli Piacentini DOC, Emilia) Bianca Regina 2010 Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (13.5%)

Lusenti is an organic winery and part of the VinNatur association but one that I didn’t know of before. They’re located near Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna, set in a unique micro-climate between the Po river and the Apennine mountains.

Once harvested, the grapes are left for three or four days for a skin-contact maceration at controlled temperatures.

I’m actually a pretty mean girlfriend because, once I got home, I put some aluminium foil around the bottle and poured a glass for “A” to taste blind.

On first impressions, it smells sweet: lots of ripe apricot, honey, quince and fresh nutmeg. “A” got it straight away, “Malvasia!”

With a traffic-light amber colour, the wine’s vintage was harder to guess. It’s clearly relatively mature because the juice is completely in place but there’s no hint of oxidation. Timeless.

What I found particularly enjoyable about this wine is the gustatory sensations. Despite the sweet nose, the wine is almost completely bone dry. It seduces you in phases: starting with fleshy fruits and almonds, moving through tannins, acidity and mentholated freshness and finishing on a slight bitterness, very typical of skin-contact wines. Lipsmackingly moreish!


Tasted: 13th March 2017

Price: €€

Rating: ****


Lusenti website and Facebook

Anna & André Durrmann Grand Cru Wiebelsberg 2012

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to enjoy a Snow Day. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Snow Day is when you’re able to call your boss and say “Can’t come into work today – I’m snowed in.”

The thing is, having been self-employed for just short of three years now, there is no boss to call and justify my absence.

vineyards in the snow

Walking through the snowy Soave vineyards with the puppy.

With this wintery weather, however, the road to Castelcerino was under considerable snow, making the decision to stay by the warm fire at The Boy’s house a very easy one.

While he went off to work (he, woe betide, couldn’t use the same excuse) and because his supply of teabags was already at a dangerously low level, I decided to do the responsible thing and open a bottle of wine instead!

It just so happened to be a wine from Alsace, in eastern France, and more specifically a Riesling from the Durrmann family’s Grand Cru Wiebelsberg.  Continue reading

Domaine Milan’s MGO 3

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The Domaine Henri Milan comprises 16 hectares (40 acres) of biodynamic vineyards located due south of Avignon, in the idyllic Provence region of southern France.

In an area more commonly known for its insipid salmon-pink rosé, it’s a delight to find wines with character.

The MGO – standing for Milan Grand Ordinaire – is a blend of six different vintages and cuvées: Papillon Rouge 2014, Le Vallon 2009 / 2010 / 2011, Clos Milan 2006 and the MGO2. Continue reading

Casa Pardet’s Cabaret Sauvignon

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It’s funny how sometimes you can spend ages thinking to yourself ‘I should really get another post on the blog.’ You can spend an hour looking at the screen but nothing comes. Other times, you can’t help it – the words just spill out.

And so, with no further ado, here is tonight’s practically blind tasting of Casa Pardet’s Cabaret Sauvignon.

cabaretz

The liquid pours out of the bottle. It’s almost black.

It was the label, rather reminiscent of the Moulin Rouge heydey, that drew me in at first. Natural wine with a sense of humour, it seemed to say. In the glass, the wine has a deep red colour with a gorgeous blackcurrant hue. Also very appetising.

Before I go any further in this tasting note I should mention that this bottle was actually opened two weeks ago. It was opened, had a little poured off and then was re-corked. No more than 20% was missing. It then got put in a box and somewhat forgotten, until this evening.

On first sniff, it has curiously taken on a few funky Syrah characters. It reminds me of some of Jean Delobre’s wines (La Ferme des Sept Lunes) that I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. It’s a little lighter than that though. There’s a lot of fruit, some allspice, more fruit. It’s extracted but not overly so. It was also probably more aromatic when it was first opened, but at least it smells like wine.

Moving on to the taste, it is full and fruity. Plump, lush fruit, actually. Primary characters are slightly under-ripe damson plum skin and peppery spice. Pleasant. It’s a little short, but very drinkable.

The name would lead us to believe that this is a Cabernet Sauvignon. I know nothing about this wine (it was given to me very randomly) but I would suspect that there are possibly a couple of other varieties thrown into the mix. The thing is, the tannins are present but they’re surprisingly soft. The wine has a fuzzy edge, typical for a unfiltered, unfined wine with no sulfites.

Given that the bottle has been open for two weeks, it shows remarkable freshness.

I have to be honest and admit that it’s not a wine that I would take home to my parents (i.e. probably not adapted to those with a conventional palate) but it could definitely be a crowd-pleaser amongst a young hipster crowd who are already initiated into natural wine.

I also ought to hold my hands up and confess that I have absolutely no idea what vintage this is, nor of its ABV. Neither are written on the label. I have no idea, either, as to how much a bottle like this might cost. If I put my neck out, I’d say that I’d be happy to put around 15 euros on a bottle, which for me makes it “a weekend wine.”

Price: €€ (probably)

Rating: ****

Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia Single Vineyard 2013

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The person who first got me interested in wine, back during my university days, was a certain Peter Wood. With his natural affability and extensive knowledge, he runs the St Andrews Wine Company. I always admired his way with words and now, laid up here in my sick bed, I have his voice in my head. You see, he once compared the frustration of not being able to taste wine whilst ill to being a prostitute wearing a chastity belt.

“I feel like a prostitute with a chastity belt on.  Granted, a prostitute still may be able to do many elements of her chosen profession, whilst wearing such a garment, but ultimately if the lady of the night is unable to have sex, it defeats the purpose of hiring her!  And when you are a wine retailer, or a blogger, and you have a cold, it is as if your talent is being restrained by a phlegm coated chastity belt.  You can’t unleash the two senses that you need the most to try wines, and because of this all the other elements of my job are just pointless.  Sure, I can waffle on about the colour of the wine, the legs and how clear it is, but bottom line, if you can’t sample the goods, opening the bottle is pointless.”

http://www.thetastingnote.com/2010/02/226-prostitute-with-chastity-belt.html

For over a week now, my sinuses have been on strike. Guillaume, my favourite cheesemonger at Androuet, put a really pungent Corsican washed-rind cheese in front of me yesterday, and I couldn’t smell a thing. The problem is that I really want to drink some wine. Not in the “she needs help” sense but because I derive a immense pleasure from tasting. I love having to work my senses.

I was passing by Greek specialists Mavrommatis the other day and popped in, hopeful that I might find something amidst their selection. I wanted an intensely aromatic grape variety that I might be able to appreciate despite .. the obvious!

Malagousia is an interesting grape variety and one that would be a worthy potential successor for Pinot Grigio.

As the story goes, the variety was on the point of extinction until the 1970s when Dr. Vassilis Logothetis and Evangelos Gerovassiliou, at the time working for the Porto Carras winery, realised its potential and set in place an extensive replanting programme. It is particularly found in the Macedonia region, especially around Thessaloniki (conveniently enough where the Porto Carras and Ktima Gerovassiliou are situated.)

Gerovassilou is a Bordeaux-trained œnologue and this comes across in his rather classic style of wine. I like that he’s been able to apply those techniques to local varieties. His winery comprises 33ha and is surrounded by the sea on three sides.


So here comes this (rather brief) tasting note — underwritten by not-so-delicate hints of Tesco Finest’s eucalyptus vapour rub — of Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia Single Vineyard 2013, 13.5%

Visually, it’s clear, crisp, and green-tinted gold colour.

On the nose, there’s fruit, flowers and spice. At first, I’m hit by peach and canteloupe melon. It’s floral too. Bright carnations. On a lower level, there’s vanilla musk, freshly cut red bell pepper juice and some peppery basil plant aromatics coming through.*

Later, I get a full frontal of canned peaches in syrup. The mouth is short and fatty. The acidity comes later. There may have been a hint of salinity but it also might just have been phelgm… 😉

It’s a very pleasant wine. I feel there was skin-contact and probably some oak barrel ageing. Floral, fragrant and a certain crowd-pleaser.

Price: €€

Rating: ***

* I know it’s cheating… but I kept aside a third of the bottle for when my sinuses had cleared!

Further reading: Malagousia on the Fringe Wine Blog.

Grace Gris de Koshu 2011

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This week, I’m talking about the Grace Winery, situated in Yamanashi, the principal wine-growing region of Japan. The winery was founded in 1923 and took inspiration for its name from the Three Graces of ancient mythology.

Strictly speaking, the Greeks had the Charities (Χάρις) and the Romans the Graces (Gratiae.) As the story goes, these three minor goddesses of charm, good humour and abundance were the daughters of Zeus and the mermaid Eurynome. They appear frequently in Greek art and literature (from Homer to Pausanias) and the Renaissance (e.g. Botticelli and Raphael.)

At the Grace Winery, the Chief Winemaker is Ayana Misawa. A fun and bubbly young lady in her early 30s, who is the fifth generation of her family to work on the estate. Incidentally, and despite her young years, she has worked in vineyards on five different continents (South America, Europe, Australia, South Africa and obviously, in Japan.)

The label claims that since its foundation in 1923, Grace Winery has been “cultivating its own grapes respecting the bio-environmental cause and the grapes’ natural requirements.” However, I would not underestimate the impact of Ayana’s significant changes in recent years, namely identifying higher altitude vineyards and reducing yields in order to increase the quality of the resulting fruit. 

The indigenous Koshu grape takes pride of place here at the Grace Winery, making up a very large percentage of their overall harvest, but they also have a very small amount of more common varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Just as a quick aside – despite being vitis vinifera, the Koshu grape was (and is) still most widely perceived in Japan as a table grape variety. Curious, no?

So, with no further ado, here are my tasting notes for the Grace Gris de Koshu 2011, 12%.

A light, crisp wine, rounded at first but developing a marked acidity. This brings a nice touch of freshness to the finish. There is a little peppery spice which hits the palette alongside the pronounced citrus zest. It is delicate and charming in its refined elegance. The retro-olfactory notes of Granny Smith apple peel are also pleasant and refreshing.

The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel. There is very little skin extraction, apparently because the peculiar skin of the Koshu grape (a pink-purple-gray colour) can be very bitter. 

A great summer wine. Perfect for apéritifs but I’m convinced there are also some stunning food pairings to be done with white fish or shellfish. Now, if only I had another bottle…

Price: €

Rating: ***

Movia Lunar 2008

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One of the most original wines I have ever had the pleasure of trying. The wine-making process (as outlined in the video above) is so unique that it is completely mind-blowing. The modified barriques allow Ales the winemaker to fill them with whole grapes, c’est a dire, without pressing. As you can probably imagine, a very large part of this “wine” eventually becomes sediment – apparently around 35%… If you’re in the finance world, cost-controlling, consultancy etc, this may sound rather wasteful, but let me tell you, if you’re holding a glass of this wine in your hand, you don’t care anymore.

The colour is that of cloudy apple juice. A delicate light orange. A clear rim, but the centre is dense. Unfiltered, clearly.

Everyone gets something different from the nose. For me, I get the delicious aromas of tinned tangerines. Of slightly syrupy clementines. It reminds me also of the orange squash that they used to serve at Match Tea during my school days. It’s such a pleasure that I almost forget to move onto the next stage.

The mouth continues with floral (narcissus, jasmine and violet) and herbal (camomile) notes. It’s soft, delicious and it seduces you into taking another gulp as you try to comprehend the enormity of this discovery. How can a grape variety that has been sneered at for so long, the Ribolla Gialla, taste this damn good?

At the end, it develops into something more recognisable as wine, with a stroke of acidity and of bitter tannins which rejuvenate the palette nicely.

There is a stunning vivacity to this wine. As natural as it comes, the term minimal intervention just doesn’t cover it. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea… especially those uninitiated in natural wine, but for me it was worth every penny.

Price: 

Rating: *****