My last post described my overall impressions from RAW, interestingly the hybrid issue has been in the news elsewhere a little, a topic I shall pick up again. To follow up I shall describe a few of my favourite wines without too much detail. If you want more technical details then the RAW site has information on each producer and wine.
Gravner is one of the most celebrated of natural domaines, a true pioneer of skin contact wine from the Friuli region. I thought these shone out against the other big names such as Radikon and Cornelissen, though I liked their wines too. Star of the show for me was my first wine tasted in the whole RAW event, Bianco Breg 2010. A blend of grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc the skin contact gave nice tannins and a firm finish but there was a lot of enjoyable white fruit flavour to add roundness.
Brand is a well established Alsace domaine which has taken a turn to natural wine as Philippe has taken the reins. I liked a lot of these wines, my favourite was the Gewurztraminer maceration Tout Terriblement 16. As I said last time I am becoming convinced that skin contact works best with aromatic grapes and this showed lovely Gewurz notes without any of its tendency to go over the top. Lovely fruit and a long finish. (Very low sulphites)
AMI is a newish domaine in Maranges using bought in organic grapes to make natural wines. I liked all the wines here, red and white from the basic Bourgognes to a Hautes Cotes and a lovely Maranges Premier Cru. Top of my list though was the St. Romain Blanc 17, classic Burgundy with citrus, hazelnut, cream and a delicious freshness. Definitely on my shopping list.
Chateau Le Puy I had tasted before and enjoyed even more this time. The main cuvee from various years was lovely but my favourite was the Barthelemy 2016, from the Francs Côtes De Bordeaux appellation. There was such a depth of fruit in the Cabernet / Merlot blend, classic Bordeaux with lift! (No added sulphites). Similarly Chateau Meylet showed a lovely 2014 of real quality, not something I usually say about a Cabernet Franc led wine. (very low sulphites)
Agricola Marino has just 1.5ha of bush vines in Sicily making just 6,000 bottles. The two wines were lovely, my favourite the Turi Bianco 18 a pure Catarratto of white fruit and texture. Lovely labels too. Please someone, support Salvatore and import these great wines.
Karim Vionnet is a well known maker of very drinkable Beaujolais. Last year in a joint venture with Domaine Viret they produced Nous, a blend of Gamay and Syrah which was generously fruity but had a lovely tannic backbone to add complexity and length of flavour. Very good.
German wines were what first got me interested in the whole topic so it was a slight disappointment that only one producer was present. However, Andi Weigand compensated in quality for lack of numbers. Some lovely wines from the Franken region using grapes such as Muller Thurgau and Silvaner. It was the latter which made my favourite. The maceration wine Skin 15 was fermented in whole bunches for 8 weeks, kept in old barrels for 3 years then refermented using 20l of juice from 2018’s harvest. The result was a perfumed, peachy and clean, fresh wine, a real joy. Unusual winemaking with no added sulphites producing great results, bravo.
Domaine De La Touraize is a Jura producer and the Morins showed a series of excellent wines reds, sparkling and white. I’d happily buy them all but top of my list would be the Savagnin 15, left for 2 years ‘sous voile’, i.e. under the flor of the yeasts, the method used in sherry as well as in the Jura. The result was nutty, stony, fruity – my notes simply read ‘gorgeous!’ Possibly my favourite wine of the whole RAW event. (very low sulphites)
I mentioned Thomas Niedermayr last time as I was impressed and intrigued by his hybrid grape wines such as the Souvignier Gris. However, my favourite was the 14 Solaris 2017, (the 14 refers to the year the vines were planted). Solaris was produced in 1975 by crossing various grapes in Czechoslovakia. The fruit was clean and fresh, white stone fruit, almost green and yellow fruit gum. These were fascinating wines from the Alto Adige.
Also from that region was Grawü, and another exciting range of wines though from more classic grapes this time. Lovely Pinot Grigio, the Bianco with Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurz in the blend was excellent too. There was another Bianco (16?) with more Sauvignon Blanc which gave more open flavours and I especially liked, as I did the skin contact Gewurz.
Finally I must mention the delicious Banyuls wines of Domaine Du Traginer. I enjoyed their Collioure table wines but the Banyuls were something else. A lovely Rimage 17, rich and delicious Grand Cru 08 as well as a lovely Blanc 15. However, the star was a Solera 2000 which was almost clear, light in appearance but with deep, full and fresh light fruits and a rich port like finish. A special wine.
I could mention many other wines and I feel guilty for omitting some other very good wines. RAW showed that the world of natural wine is expanding and improving in reliability and quality. To counter the most common criticism of natural wines I should also mention that amongst the 350+ wines I tasted I only detected three with a problem of mousiness and one with a very slight cork taint. Any of the wines mentioned here would enrich your wine collection.