Tuesday 26 September 2017

This year's summer drinking

Always conscious of how difficult it is to find wines that are not over-extracted high alc. fruit bombs, we tend towards lighter wines even out of summer. So our summer drinking is super-light in the main which is even more difficult to come by.

2017 found us buying a selection from a company called Meteri based in the Veneto who specialise in Natural Wine. Some of this was so light as to be on the watery side but there were nice discoveries along the way including not-so-light and aromatic finds

Garganega is a grape we like more and more. This unfiltered natural example had plenty of character despite an Abv. of 11.5%.

Zelen is a grape we have enjoyed before and this biodynamic example by Vipavska Dolina, Slovenia was very amiable despite its name - Guerila.

From the same producer we bought a Pinela This grape is not that rare but is not very often encountered. It is all right but really nothing special.

Albana is even less obscure but somehow we have never managed to get a handle on it. Perhaps we have been put off by the fact it is normally quite high in alcohol but this bottle by Vignie del Bosco, called Persefone for some reason is a real aromatic cracker. Strangely Vigne del Bosco's website doesn't mention it and Albana doesn't feature in the varieties that go into any of their other wines.

Found in London, this orange Grecanico from Cos hit the summery spot very nicely. What a great producer Cos is, making all that women's and men's apparel too!

It's now OK to take English wine seriously thank goodness. We have been doing so for years. This is an interesting blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier which we have enjoyed in previous summers.

Another good English white from M & S was this Champagne grape effort from Plumpton College. It's strange that the Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier formula isn't made more often. Since the UK's profile as a producer of sparkling wines seems to have outsripped that of still wine, why not pursue this blend. It could be given a name like Meritage and become a sort of brand. Just a thought.


We finally drank the bottle of Alsace Pinot Noir from Domaine de l'Oriel. This had been our winner from the Salon des vins des vignerons independants in Paris, 2016. We made the mistake of chilling the bottle. This stripped all flavour from the wine which is really delicious but delicate. Once free of hypothermia the wine shone as we remembered it.

From delicate to ueber-aomatic. This is the bottle that Jeanne from Versant Vins in the Marche aux Enfants rouges in Paris only sold us on the strict instruction that it was not to be drunk for at least 6 months. The time was well and truly up and the result was truly tongue-tickling. We can't imagine how it would have tasted at the time of purchase but Jeanne knows what she is talking about and who were we to disobey her?

The blend is very imaginative: Menu Pineau, Baco Blanc, Gaillard and Meslier Saint Francois. How many wines have you drunk made with those? The winemaker is Olivier Lemasson, a former sommelier who now is famous as a negociant in the Loire producing biological vins de France inmultiple blends of grapes such as Romorantin, Pineau d'Aunis, Gamay, Grolleau and Cot as well as the above.

Kakotrygis is the main white grape variety of Corfu apparently. We picked up this bottle at Athens Duty Free whose selection was otherwise not very exciting. Really rather good.

Wine writers sometimes like to use the word 'thirst' in their descriptions. Other than figuratively, we don't like to do so ourselves. Thirst should be slaked with water or some other non-alcoho;ic drink. Having said that, beer is a great thirst quencher but then we wouldn't want to be drinking wine at the saem time.

We have tried various de-alcoholised wines before including this Muscat from Torres and found them unpalatable. Nonetheless, such is our respect for Torres that we thought we'd give their Natureo another go. Opinion was divided but for some it wasn't a bad accompaniment to Sag King Prawn when chilled to within an inch before frozen. You can drink this on like grape juice and as such, we can allow it to quench a thirst. Abv. 0.5% though, so go easy.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Grau, teurer Freund

Grau is an excellent wine warehouse in Palagruell, near Girona in Catalunya, Spain. We were already aware of their wide range of wines thanks to Winesearcher so when we were invited to stay with friends nearby this summer we were detarmined to pay a call.

Not many winemerchants have vines growing outside. Nice.
Our wishlist included


Albarino/Godello/Lado/Loureiro/Treixadura/Torrontes, Vina Mein

Blanc Picapoll, Bernat Oller
Callet/Prensal Blanc, Quibia (out of stock)
Maturana Blanca, Vina Pomal (out of stock)
Xarel-lo, Gramona Roent


Juan Garcia/Rufete, Terrezgo
Listan Negro/Tinta Conejera. Stratvs Negre (out of stock)

Grenache/Syrah/Tintilla de Rota, Payoya Negra, Finca La Melonera. We should explain. We added this wine to our list because Finca La Melonera is a highly interesting estate from our point of view, devoted as it is to the revival of local grape varieties. In particular, they are working on Melonera. You won't find Melonera in 'Wine Grapes' because no wine is yet made from Melonera in any commercial quantity, It does appear in Galet who says of it;

Cepage de cuve noir grisatre espagnol, de la region de Sanlucar de Barrameda (Andalousie).
Mando, Paisatges

Finca La Melonera states on their website that Tintilla, Blasco (a synonym for Tinto Velasco?), Rome and Melonera are the grapes they are re-introducing but other sources also mention the reds Corchero Tinto and whites Quiebrantinajas, Moscatel Morisco (Muscat blanc a petits grains) and Platera. Corchero Tinto and Platera are not mentioned in either 'Wine Grapes' or Galet. 

Curiously, there are some websites which list different constuents for this same vintage of Melonera's Payoya Negra including Cabernet Sauvignon and Rome. La Melonera's own website doesn't go into this wine's constituents suggesting some of the 'cepages modestes' may be included (?).

In any case we were interested to try out any product of this intriguing estate while waiting for their first Melonera in purezza.

Morenillo, Finca Morenillo. Here was an actual revived variety in purezza from another estate devoted to this kind of activity, also named after the variety in mind; Morenillo. Not in 'Wine Grapes' it does get a mention in Galet of interest to ampelographers but not saying anything about its proevanance or history. Finca Morenillo is located a few miles southwest of Priorat, within the Terra Alta DO in Tarragona, Catalunya. Information is a bit unclear with one source saying the vines date back to 1902 and another 1945. Only 40 or 50 cases are made annualy. The estate is certified organic.

Prieto Picudo, Hello World. The marketing is a classic example of what we imagine results from the team being locked up in a room with only a case of the wine for company until they come up with a campaign.

Trepat, Success La Cuca de Llum.

A varied selection especially for Spain where it is sometimes difficult to find native varieties. Not quite all of these was in stock.

From those already sampled, standouts included the Picapoll, the Mando and the Trepat. The Picapoll had much more character than Picpouls from the Languedoc we had tasted, so much so we had to check that Picapoll was the same grape (it is).

The Mando was especially good'

Grau is a bit difficult to navigate but knowledgeable anf helpful people were on hand. Vaut la visite.

......gruen des Lebens goldener Baum

Friday 8 September 2017


Nice lady with good wine selection at the Norcineria in Castiglione del Lago, Umbria

In Umbria, on a search for the elusive Cornetta grape as described by Ian D'Agata in 'Native Wine Grapes of Italy.'

This estimable book is an essential item on any journey to Italy. In order to obtain the only monovariatal example of Cornetta, D'Agata redirects us to something called Vernaccia di Cannara. This wine is made by the important Umbrian producer Di Filippo. It was as a way around bureaucratic and commercial restraints that they came up with this name instead of Cornetta.

Vernaccia di Cannara/Cornetta is not the same as Vernaccia Nera which is a grape celebrated in this blog from early on (see Vernaccia di Serrapetrona). The name Vernaccia DAgata says  comes from the Latin Vernaculum which means 'local.' He points out there are many Vernaccias in Italy - none of them Guarnaccia/Grenache and all unrelated to eachother. he writes 'maybe I could have called this book Vernacular Wine Grapes of Italy.'

How 'Vernaculum' finally emerged in Spain as 'Garnacha' and how that variety went on to become the 2nd most planted red variety in the world, and why there is no grape called Guarnaccia grown in Italy but plenty of Vernaccias (white and red) is one of those unfathomable grape mysteries. Where Garnacha is grown in Italy (brought by the Spaniards at the time of their domination of Sicily and Southern Italy) it is called something else such as Cannonau or Tocai (Tai) Rosso. The name Guarnaccia Nera does occur but that is a synonym for Magliocco. there is also a Guarnaccino but that is something else altogether.

Apart from Cornetta being sold as Vernaccia di Cannara, Umbria contains another false friend: Gamay Perugino aka. Gamay di Trasimeno. This intrigued us initially but something was not right. Alcohol levels of 14% and 14.5% didn't suggest wines from the preternaturally light Gamay although we have seen beefy examples of Gamay from the New World.

Gamay Perugino/Gamay del Trasimeno is in fact another example of