Saturday, 6 July 2013

Frieze New York, not just an Art Fair

In New York primarily for the 2nd Frieze New York Art Fair but with Vineous side-effects.

At the Fair itself we spotted something intriguing at the St. Ambroeus restaurant, a Rosato from Lucca. Now we have watched the wines of Lucca progress over abut 35 years of visits to the Versilia and they have gone from being available just from local shops to getting into the supermarkets and finally making it abroad but this was the first time we have seen anything in a context such as this.

Otherwise put, with all the pink wine in the world to choose from the good people of St. Ambroeus seem to have decided on one from Lucca. Quite something.

 Planning to spend some time in the Lucca area this summer, we decided to contact the winemaker, Matteo Giustiniani of Tenuta Sardi Giustiniani just to see if he accepts visitors (he does, most graciously). There resulted a really interesting correspondence in which we learned that Sr. Giustiniani is planting experimental varieties at the Tenuta. In his own words; "a particular clone of Moscato d'Amburgo that we call Moscato nero. The Sangiovese ronco is a very old vineyard in which one we have a particular clone of Sangiovese and a variety of Lucca called Buonamico. The Buonamico and the Moscato nero give wines for all days, with rich aromas. However, The Colorino nero gives structured and very spicy wines. In our vineyards we gave a lot of Ciliegiolo grapes that we use for our Rosé wine, and a particular clone of Vermentino." Art Fairs can be fascinating for all kinds of reasons.

We couldn't be in New York without calling in on Chambers St. Wines and there we picked up two rarities; Champagne Nature, Beaufort Coteaux Champenois Blanc and Beaufort 1989 Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Rouge, i.e.Champagne nature, i.e. without bubbles) as a present for a very special person old enough to remember when Champagne Nature was more easily available.

We also took a chance on a bottle of Trepat from Josep Foraster and as it turned out we were very happy we did. Trepat is a red grape  from Montblanc, DO Conca de Barberà. The first Festa del Trepat was held in 2010 in Barberà de la Conca. Trepat is used as a constituent of Cava. This wine was a rare example of a light wine from Spain, low in alcohol. There are such wines but you have to seek them out very assiduously indeed. Bobal is another example although Big Bobals are made.We would like to admit Trepat to the Slotovino Hall of Fame.

On a mission to find specific wines we had the pleasure in discovering Flatiron Wines and Spirits in Manhattan and Heights Chateau in Brooklyn.

At Flatiron there were several wines of great interest.

A 100% Cimixia (Scimiscia) from Portofino

as well as a blend of Bosco, Vermentino and Alabarola from the Cinque Terre. They also had more or less the whole range of Clos Ouvert, the interesting Chilean wines made by Frenchmen using Pais and other varieties from very old vines vinified naturally which is unusual in that country.

At first we got a bit excited by the name Huasa but this is just a synonym for Pais. The other wines from Clos Ouvert included  their Secano Primavera (Pais, Carignan, Cinsault and Cabernet Franc), Vino Puro, and Loncomilla (both 100% Carmenere).

We were there to pick up a bottle of Ponce's Buena Pinta Moravia Agria/Garnacha blend, unavailable in the UK since the sad disappearance of Green and Blue.

 but couldn't help noticing a bottle of red Colares (Ramisco), perhaps the only one in America (North or South). Chambers St. have white Colares Arenae Malvasia. We had no interest in this until we found out Colares Malvasia is a distinct variety.

An even more extraordinary moment occurred at Heights Chateau, Atlantic Avenue in lovely Brooklyn.

Here dear Slotovino reader we actually stmbled on a bottle of Enantio. That's right, the wine grape formerly known as Lambrusco a foglia frastagliato, now called Enantio. It comes from Castello di Avio, Trentino and for years, yes years, we have been opening our gambits with floor walkers in wine shops by asking if they haven't by any chance got any Enantio (they never had).

Sadly unbounded joy subsequently turned to disappointment on tasting Enantio. It just goes to prove that rarity is sometimes deserved even if we have uncovered many gems on our voyages of discovery.

As if to prove the point, we alighted on just such a gem on the winelist at our hotel restaurant. Unlikely as this sounds, this was the undisputed highlight of our visit: Forlorn Hope's 2012 Suspiro del Moro Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa ALVARELHAO by our new hero, Matthew Rorick. Alvarelhao was a name which rang a bell. Maybe we had encountered it in Portuguese blends, maybe with characteristic Slotovino attention to detail we had misread it for Alvarinho. Forlorn Hope also rang a bell thanks to Andrew Jefford who had kindly tipped us off about this extraordinary operation in Napa. We will cover Forlorn Hope with the detail it deserves one day but in the meanwhile, the following description by Karen Ulrich lifted from T. Edward Wines website (we hope we will be forgiven) could not be better;

"The Forlorn Hope wines are the result of a project devoted to displaying the wealth of California's viticultural potential -- as well as championing varieties less common. Taken as a departure from the stereotypical Californian product, the Rare Creatures of the Forlorn Hope display what is possible when great care is taken in combining soil type, climate/site, and variety to produce wines which require no manipulation."
We were well aware that all kinds of interesting varieties are grown in California and had always wondered what happened to them since you never encountered any on the shelves of wine shops. Could they all be shoved into Jug Wine blends? 
Here are some of the Californian grapes which Matthew Rorick has sourced from various parts of the state.

Chenin Blanc
Ribolla Gialla
Trousseau Gris

Petit Verdot
St. Laurent
Tinta Amarela
Tinta Cao
Tinta Nacional
Tinta Roriz

There are two quotes from Matthew Rorick which appeal to us greatly;

"Just being wierd isn't enough. It's got to be the right variety on the right soil".

and on his website under 'Wine Elaboration'

"All Forlorn Hope wines are produced from winegrapes. That's it."

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