“If June was the beginning of a hopeful summer, and July the juice middle, August was suddenly feeling like the bitter end.” – Sarah Dessen
Let’s start with France, usually the mainstay of my wines but I only had three French wines in July. Firstly, Brocard Chablis La Boissoneuse 2019. I have had a few of Brocard Chablis wines recently and this was the best so far with good concentration and definite hints of what I would call ‘minerality’. By that I mean a very dry, fresh taste with slight texture, a little like running water over pebbles. I bought these Chablis bottles as, though many rate the wines at the top of the white wine world I still struggle with it a little. This one was good though. I still preferred Marc Tempé’s Pinot Gris Zellenberg 2016. I love Alsace wines and this is a very good example of Pinot Gris with its spicy notes and clean, dry finish. Moreish and refreshing. The only French red of the month was Jean David’s Tapatara 2019 and a wine of great interest as it’s the first 100% Counoise wine I have had. From the southern Rhone, specifically the village of Séguret, this is fresh, juicy and refreshing with black fruits on the nose and in flavour. Counoise is one of the Chateauneuf grapes, usualy blended with others but I very much enjoyed this bottle.
To Italy. A warm July day was a perfect one for Maule’s Garg’N’Go 2019. This PetNat is made in the Veneto hills from Garganega and Durella grapes. Some of the grapes are dried to concentrate the sugars and some of this is added to the traditionally fermented grapes so that the sugars restart the fermentation in bottle producing the sparkling wine. Refreshing, white fruit flavours and perfect for the summer. Daniele Piccinin’s Muni 2018 is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and, once again, Durella. I read about Piccinin in Isabelle Legeron’s book ‘Natural Wine’ and was pleased to get my hands on some of his wines. The colour was very golden, looking almost oxidative but it was fresh with good fruit, a very good bottle. From the Emilia Romagna region, one of the natural wine classics, Denavolo’s Dinavolino 2019. Six months maceration produces an orange wine of citrus flavours but with a nice roundness to it. A very good introduction to orange wine, very good.
Another interesting winery I have only discovered recently is the German Staffelter Hof based in the Mosel. Jan Matthias Klein’s family have had vines there for centuries but Jan changed the winemaking of a small part of the wines around 2010 to sulphite free. They proved an instant success and have quickly established themselves on a high level of natural wines. Little Bastard 2019 is a white blend of Muller Thurgau, Muscat, Riesling (60%) and Sauvignon Blanc. I really liked it, fresh and clean, full of white fruit flavours of good length. The Muscat had some skin contact to add more depth. Another good summer wine, don’t be put off by a slight cloudiness. I praised Rennersistas wine in the previous post and I’m happy to add another big tick for Waiting For Tom 2017. A blend of Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent and Zweigelt this was a joyous bottle with full cherry fruit flavours, good depth and freshness.
Testalonga wines are a regular here and the latest Keep On Punching 2020 was another successful Chenin Blanc, very good. Cambridge Road winery in New Zealand is one of the pioneering natural wineries there. Cloudwalker 2018, a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling, is cloudy (appropriately) but very juicy and clean, direct yet long. They use concrete eggs and old barrels to ferment half of the grapes on skins so there is some skin contact texture in the wine too. I would add this to my summer wine list with pleasure. Barranca Oscura Syrnacha 2018 is a dark rosé from Syrah and Garnacha grapes made for easy drinking yet with good deep red fruit flavours. It had a good amount of CO2 fizziness at first but this settled quickly and it probably added to the wine’s attraction.
Wine of the month though was from Slovakia, one of my first bottles from that country. Slobodne Vronski 2018 is an excellent example of orange wine. Sauvignon Blanc grapes macerated for a week and then given a whole year in concrete egg. The resulting wine is a light gold in colour with herby, almost aniseedy, aromas. There is a very good texture and mouthfeel to the wine with herby, stone fruit flavours and excellent length Very good indeed.