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Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc


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Real Wine Fair #3 – the beat goes on

A final gathering of thoughts on the Real Wine Fair 2019. Enjoyment featured a lot in the course of the two days. Wine tastings can be pretty straight, serious events but there was a lot of laughter and appreciation going on in Tobacco Dock. The producers I spoke with said that it had been a successful event commercially and they too had enjoyed themselves. The variety of countries, regions, soils and grapes added to the enjoyment.

As well as all those producers and wines I recommended in the two previous posts I liked the following wines very much, described in order of their catalogue number.

Austrian wines have become a favourite of mine in recent years and they were to the fore. Grabenwerkstatt produce in the Wachau, I used words like pure, fresh, fruit for a number of their wines. Two which stood out for me were Wachauwerk Gruner Veltliner 18, the vintage adding depth to the wine. The other big hit was Ried Bruck Riesling 18, single vineyard, very dry but with a hint of residual sweetness.

Muster and Jurtschitsch

Other Austrian producers to impress included Jurtschitsch, Muster and Tscheppe, a favourite of many previous tastings. Andreas Tscheppe‘s wines are consistently top quality, characterful, pure, flavoursome and thought provoking. All of Tscheppe’s bottles are worth buying, my favourite three were: Blue Dragonfly 17, a fruity, round Sauvignon Blanc; Green Dragonfly 17 from a single, higher vineyard giving more direct, melon flavours; Schwalbenschwanz Muskateller 17, a skin contact wine with lovely character of the grape supported by a dry, grippy mouthfeel, lovely and another wine to convince me that skin contact often works best with aromatic grapes.

Tscheppe wines

 

The German contingent at RWF were of particular interest to me, I have already praised the Schmitt wines. Marto Wine from Rheinhessen was also the source of some good wines, especially their 2018 Pinot Gris. Another skin contact wine, another aromatic variety, another success. Spicy, fruity and with lovely texture.

Close to my heart now and Clos Fantine from Faugères. Declaration of interest of course as I consider the Andrieu family as friends and wrote about their beautiful vineyards and wines on here a few years ago. The 2017 Faugères Tradition was on top form, fresh, fruity and with a serious side too. The 2017 Courtiol of pure Carignan was big and bold with nice tannins backing up the dark fruits, a wine to keep for a few years and enjoy. Valcabrières, the white of Terret Blanc and Terret Gris was made from 2 vintages 2016 and 17 and is one of my favourite wines, rich, fruity but dry and spicy too. I include them here on merit believe me.

From Savoie I very much enjoyed the wines of Les Vignes De Paradis and especially the 2017 IGP Savagnin, a deceptively simple wine of clean fruit with a nice acidic backdrop. On to the Loire and another old favourite, Hervé Villemade from Cheverny. His Cour-Cheverny ‹Acacias› 16 was refreshing, clean, fruit gum and citrus. Made from the Romorantin grape which 30 years ago was so scorned and is now finding recognition – climate change, better vinification and probably other factors too make the wine world ever evolving.

TWR wines

To the Southern Hemisphere. Whilst in New Zealand in 2018 I tried to visit Te Whare Ra in Marlborough but they were closed that day. So I was pleased to get to know their wines at RWF with Anna Flowerday presenting them. They are lovely wines, freshness and fruit to the fore with nice complexity. Lots to recommend including Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Syrah. However, it was their 2018 Toru Single Vineyard Blend which I enjoyed most that day. A mix of Gewurz, Riesling and Pinot Noir are co – fermented and the result was a dry, clean wine with all kinds of fruit and spice.

I tasted a number of Patrick Sullivan‘s wines in Australia, bottles such as Rain and Ada Chardonnay were much appreciated. This time though it was the 2018 Baw-Baw Chardonnay which stood out for me, a wine of real concentration and power but elegant and fine at the same time. A wine to keep and cherish.

I was fortunate to spend a good half hour with Julian Castagna of Castagna Wines. He has worked in films and now wines and made a success of everything. He’s a real character as were his two sons wowing the crowd and pouring generous samples. So many wines to enjoy here, a clear Savagnin 16, Segreto 16 of Sangivese and Shiraz for example. There were also magnificent vermouths and sweet wine too. Stars for me were 2017 Quasibianco Grower’s Selection in magnum, a delicious, full flavoured skin contact Riesling. Full yes, but elegant and refined too, bravo. And Genesis Syrah 2015, rich, round and full in a Rhone style, powerful but not heavy with flavours which lasted for ages. Top wine.

On to Italy finally. The wines of Dario Princic from Friuli are in the syle of Gravner and Radikon. I have a number of these bottles at home and was glad to taste even more at RWF. The use of skin contact has to be balanced to be successful in my view, too much and the wine can become hard and bitter. Princic consistently hits the sweet spot of extracting tannin and power whilst keeping fruit. I particularly liked his Jakot 2016, the Friulano grape. Ampeleia on the Tuscan Maremma coast is another well established natural producer, a collaboration of producers such as Foradori, Widmann and Podini. Their Unilitro bottles are a staple in my house, white and red. Here I want to end on a bombshell as my favourite wine was a Cabernet Franc, a grape I really struggle to like. 2015 Cuvée Ampeleia was a big, concentrated wine but the grapes from the highest of their vineyards have a natural freshness which enlivens the wine and never makes it tiring.

So many great wines, so many I no doubt did not get around to tasting. To taste so many great wines in all forms, red, white, skin contact, sparkling, sweet was a treat. Not to mention that wonderful Cota 45 sherry. Lessons? That there are many exciting young and new producers spreading the natural wine philosophy around the world. That more established producers should not be forgotten, their wines are often reaching new levels of excellence. That skin contact wines are appealing more and more to me, especially those aromatic varieties. That wine is fun and should be enjoyed as well as studied.

Thanks again to all who organised Real Wine Fair 2019 and to the producers for such a high standard. To the next time.

Cota4

 


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The Real World

RWF

Whilst making a brief return to the UK I noticed that The Real Wine Fair was taking place in London, a showcase for organic, biodynamic and natural producers. Thus, I endured a 5.30am start to the day to travel down to London, returning home at 11pm – but it was worth the long day. Above all it was an opportunity to taste outside of my usual wine list of France, wines were on show from all around the world. My plan, therefore, was to taste from these other places to give myself a better context and understanding of wines.

I liked the set up where producers were set out across the rooms by country and region. It allowed easy movement and planning, the catalogue was well set out and there were good food stalls available too from the likes of Ottolenghi and Galvin. The seminars were another good feature, I’d have loved to hear Alice Feiring or Jamie Goode on the Sunday but it was a real pleasure to listen to Wink Lorch speaking on the Jura.

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Wink Lorch with Kenjiro Kagami and Julien Maréchal

So these were the wines I enjoyed the most, as ever it was impossible to get round all of the producers I would have liked to visit.

France

Mouthes Le Bihan, Cotes de Duras Les Apprentis 2010 Merlot 60% with Cab Franc, Malbec and Cab Sauv – rich cassis nose and blackberry fruit. Nice whites especially 100% Semillon Pérette et les Noisetiers 14

Roc Des Anges, Maury Blanc Terres de Fagayra 14 (GrGris/GrBl/Macc) dense fresh, a lovely style of vin doux naturel – I liked this white version a lot

Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet (Hervé Souhaut), whole range good especially the 2014 VdP Ardèche wines Roussanne/Viognier and Syrah and the 2 2014 St Josephs, Cessieux and Saint-Epine with great depth yet balanced and fresh

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Foillard, Morgon Classique and Cote De Py both 14s both classic Beaujolais, the latter very concentrated

Lapierre, Raisins Gaulois, VdF 2015 – lovely fruit, simple style but extraordinary freshness and flavour from this top Beaujolais domaine

De Moor, Chablis Vendangeur Masqué 14, lovely zesty but round finish with long, dry finish

Derain, St Aubin Blanc ‘En Vesvau’ 14, concentrated, fresh, long and round

Buisson, St Romain Blanc especially the 13 (no so2) and the Meursault ‘Marguerite’ 14 with lovely aromas and fruit and good use of oak

Domaine de la Borde, Arbois. 2014 Chardonnay ‘Caillot’ lovely, 14 Savagnin lively, zesty but yellow fruit and balance, 15 Ploussard Les Charmines looked to be older but very good soft red fruits

Domaine Des Miroirs (Kagami), Chardonnay Sonorité du Vent 13 – terrific, textured, light golden colour with fresh nutty white fruits

Alexandre Bain – all wines especially ‘Pierre Precieuse’ with 30% botrytised fruit yet still dry with roundness and length

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Italy

Proseccos from Casa Coste Plane di Loris Follador and Casa Belfi especially latter

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Princic, older wines, they do need time eg 11 Vino Bianco Trebez (PinotGrigio/Chard/SauvBl) 8 days on skins showed long, stone fruit flavours

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Vodopivec, 12 Carso Vitovska Anfore with textured pure fruit, 12 Vitovska Solo MM12 over 6 months skins, 2.5 years in foudre – orange colour lovely minerality, almost liquorice

La Stoppa, Reds best, eg Trebbilo Rosso 14 with fresh cherry acidity and best of all the intense red fruits, long maceration and years in foudre of the 07 Macchiona (possibly my favourite wine of the day)

COS, 14 Rami Bianco zesty and golden, 14 Cerasuolo deep, dark red fruits with lovely acid and best of all 14 Nero di Lupo, darker still, raspberry and cherry

Occhipinti, favourite of the Italian producers; SP 68 Rosso 2015, bright vibrant fruit and colour, tremendous Frappato 14 rounder than COS with red fruits, almost menthol freshness, lovely

Spain

Forja del Salnes, Rias Baxas – brilliant wines from old vines Albarino, 13 Leirana Finca Genoveva great concentration and depth (100 year old vines) yet still zesty, 2011 Golliardo A Telleira (60 year old vines at highe altitude) concentration, rich flavours but still clean. Red 13 Bastion de la Luna Tinto (Caino, Espadeiro and Loureiro grapes) – pure red fruits.

Celler Batlliu de Sort, Costers del Segre – reds a bit woody but lovely 13 Biu Riesling pure slatey Riesling, almost piercing citrus freshness

Germany

Thörle, excellent range, the dry Rieslings were all good especially Saulheimer Kalkstein 14 and impressive Schlossberg 14 (slate dry mineral). The Kabinett Riesling 15 was gorgeous, green apple with 56g of residual sugar. Spätburgunders too especially Kalkstein 14 and the single parcels 13 Probstey and 13 Holle with good concentration and depth.

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Austria

I said hello to Messrs. Tscheppe and Muster but did not taste due to time pressures as I had tasted their wines in Montpellier at Les Affranchis. They remain top of the class for me.

Warnung, 2013 Skin Contact Grüner Veltliner and 13 Riesling Berg especially the latter with spicy freshness. Nice Portuguieser Feldspiel 13 with round fruit and 13 Etsdorf Blauer Zweigelt, a rosé wine with citrus freshness and white fruit flavours.

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Schnabel, Morillon 14, a golden Chardonnay, mineral / texture and long nutty flavours, good Pinot Noir Hochegg 14 classic Pinot Noir

Georgia

Okro’s Wines, Rkatsiteli 14 more rounded than some of the other whites, tighter, Rkatsiteli Pet Nat 15 also very good appley fruit

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Bitarishvili, 14 Iago with skin contact was actually fruitier than the non contact version, a little reduced but nice

Mandidli, 2015 Mandili Mtsvane grape, fruitier and rounder than other examples of this grape elsewhere, fruity, balanced

Revasashvili, 15 Chinuri clear pear / apple fresh and textured.

South Africa

Testalonga, lovely range. El Bandito skin contact 15, lovely Chenin Blanc, apple fruit and clean. Sweet Cheeks 15, Muscat d’Alexandrie skin contact, dry, fruity clean (impressive for a grape which can become very blousy). Dark Side Syrah 15, spicy, coloured. El Bandito, Mangaliza apple and pear with lovely balance.  Keep On Punching 15 Baby Bandito, Chenin, stainless steel dry, fresh clean apples. Baby Bandito Follow Your Dream (Carignan) 15, fresh, spicy light. Very keen on these wines from Craig Hawkins, a good man to talk with too.

Australia

Patrick Sullivan, Haggis 15, assemblage of leftover wines but really good fruit

USA

La Garagista, Vermont – Unusual varieties due to climate. Harlots and Ruffians 14 – Frontenac Gris 5 weeks contact but nice and fresh. Frontenac Noir (related to Aramon) in Loups Garoux 14 lovely aromas but a bit foxy and wild.

Kelley Fox, Oregon – Momtazi Pinot Noir 13 with concentration, depth and flavour. Maresh Pinot Noir 13, lighter colour but more fruit and elegance

Clos Saron, California Sierra Mountains– Carte Blanche 14 (Albarino) green, zesty fruity. Blue Cheer 14 nice blend with Cinsault lifting the Carignan to a lighter feel, spicy. Heart Of Stone Syrah 09, truffley, good deep and balanced. Stone Soup Syrah 12, fresh, tannic but good fruit

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Ambyth, California Paso Robles – nice whites especially Grenache Blanc 13 but best was Venustas 11, (Tempranillo/Sangiovese) lovely balance of fruit and spice, complex and long

Overall impressions. Well it was good to see how the world of wine is being influenced by organic, biodynamic and natural ideas. Whatever your thoughts about these influences they are making winemakers think about the way they produce wines. Interesting to see how producers as far afield as Oregon and Georgia, South Africa and Wales have embraced similar ideas and thinking, encouraged by events such as this no doubt.

There were some negatives for me. Skin contact is fine and clearly very fashionable for white wines. However, there were a lot of clumsy wines made in this style with overlong maceration or over extraction. They ended up tasting harsh and lacked fruit or freshness.I know some people like that, but not for me. Other producers did long maceration but kept fruit, freshness and balance. Maybe it is a learning process but I had really heard enough about skin contact wines by the end of the day. There were also some reductive wines, others with brett and mousiness. However, these were few in number in a Fair where I tasted over 300 wines.

There were many interesting wines, there were many very pleasing wines, and some excellent wines. I particularly loved the ranges from Occhipinti, Testalonga, Thörle, Clos Saron, Alexandre Bain and Romaneaux-Destezet. My top half dozen wines were:

  • La Stoppa, Macchiona 2007
  • Forja del Salnes, 2013 Leirana Finca Genoveva
  • Thörle, 2013 Schlossberg Riesling
  • Romaneaux – Destezet, 2014 St. Joseph Cessieux
  • Clos Saron, 2009 Heart Of Stone Syrah
  • Testalonga, 2015 Baby Bandito Follow Your Dream

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