Saturday 31 December 2022

Slotovino Awards 2022


It is December 31st and the Slotovino Awards are upon us once again. 


The scene is set.

Categories and winners, 2022;

Wine Personality of the year: Fra. Rino Sgarbossa
Best Sparkling Wine: Mariotti Abbatia (Fortana)
Best White: Telti-Kuruk Grande reserve, Shabo Wine Company, Odesa Province, Ukraine
Best Red: Conti Capponi, Villa Calcinaia Mammolo
Best English White: Ashdown Chasselas
Best English Red: Halfpenny Green, Penny Red Pinot Noir/Rondo/Regent
Best Show/Wine Festival: The Vineyard and Winery Show
Biggest Surprise: Bardolino Novello
Best Vine Nursery/Nurseries: Pepinieres Guillaume and Rebschule Freytag
Best PIWI discovery: Rinot
Best New Winemerchant:
Alzbeta Novotna, Wines of Bohemia
Best Winemerchant: Hedonism
Best restaurant Winelist: Brawn
Predictions for 2023: Sparkling Tea
Worst Duty Free shop: All
Best wine supplies shop: G.M. Luico Enologia, Genova
Special Award for the re-estalishment of endangered grape variety/Varieties: Joszef Szentesi
Book: Which Winegrape Varieties are grown where?: Kym Anderson and Signe Nelgen
Indispensible Website 2022: Wein.Plus
Various accolades and thanks to...


Wine Personality of the year 

Fratello Rino Sgarbossa of the Frati Francescani Minori di San Francesco della Vigna, Venice.


Fra. Rino Sgarbossa is our Wine Personality of the year. This award may be surprising. 


The most surprised would be Fra. Rino himself because his main job at San Francesco della Vigna in Venice is Director of the Biblioteca San Francesco della Vigna, perhaps the oldest and largest in Venice with over 200,000 books dating back to the 14th century. 

Fra. Rino took us on a tour of the vineyard and library together with a group of Dutch historians. He protested that the vineyard was managed by others who had re-planted mostly with Glera and would be selling the wine when it was ready and that he disn't know much else.

In fact we think he was following Saint Francis's rule;

'I frati siano pacifici e modesti, mansueti e umili' (Let the friars be peaceful and modest, meek and humble')

because he knew a great deal about the vineyard's history, the effects of the soil flooding with briney water at aqua alta, the grafting and irrigation that had taken place and so forth. For the record the plantings had previously included Raboso, Marzemino, Malvasia and Verduzzo. This made sense because until recent incursions of intermnational varieties and Pinot Grigio, Raboso and Verduzzo had been the Venetians preferred wine grapes. Even earlier, Teroldego and Refosco had been mentioned.

In general, winegrowers andthe people around wine have in our experience and until now been lovely people. Fra. Rino is as kind and dear of this group of people and so may serve as an exemplar. It is for this that we would like to award him Wine Personality of the year, not that he would accept, we are sure.

Best Sparkling wine

Mariotti Abbatia Fortana

As we have reported in this Blog;
The good news: This is an amazing tasty, aromatic discovery. 

The bad news: In short supply. Very difficult to get hold of but worth the effort.

Fortana is a red grape from Emilia Romagna producing in our experience unexceptional red wine but when 'vinificato in bianco' as here is fantastic.

Best White

Telti-Kuruk Grande Reserve, Shabo Wine Company, Odesa Povince, Ukraine.

Our Slotovino Awards 2022 are here. We didn't post between March and November but that didn't mean we paused our researches. We were busy emerging from the pandemic so posting took place all at once when we had time. In fact our 26 posts for this year are exactly double those of 2021.

In the wider world the news has been of the terrible war in Ukraine but before we are accused of mounting our own special operation in favour of Ukranian wine, let us deny any bias when we award a Ukranian grape, Telti-Kuruk the discovery of the year.



In general, discoveries of 2022 have been more numerous in white wines as you will see. Telti-Kuruk came as a bolt from the blue. It is a fabulous variety. we set about trying to import a case but unsurprisingly there were difficulties. At present no shipping companies are operating from Ukraine. However, goods are getting through. After contacting a winemerchant in Kiiv and Drinks+, the Ukrainian wine organisation we finally made contact with the maker of this particular bottle, Shabo. 

Shabo has managed to send wine by the pallet to the UK which is an astounding and heartwarming achievement. Pallets go via Poland and cost E.2,400 a time.They might be able to add a case for us in their next shipment. 

After some headscratching we had an inspiration and checked with Hedonism whether they had any wines from this grape and indeed they had. Hedonism was founded in 2012 by Evgeny Chichvarkin who owns it still. He lives inLondon and is a critic of Vladimir Putin. Hedonism no longer sells wine from Russia but offer Ukranian wines instead.

Beykush Winery is the maker of Hedonism's Telti-Kuruk. Beykush was founded in 2010 and is situated near Odesa. 

We thought we had seen an entry on Telti-Kuruk (aka Telti-Kyryk) in 'Wine Grapes' but that must have been wishful thinking.

We have been turning increasingly to 'Wein Plus' recently. They really are a terrific source of information. On Telti-Kuruk they have the following entry;

'The white grape variety originates from Armenia. Synonyms are Telti Kourouk, Telti Kuruk, Tilki Kuyrugu and Tilky Rairuk. The parentage is unknown. The vine is used as a wine grape and table grape.  It is cultivated in the Ukraine. In 2010, 246 hectares were still reported, but in 2016 no more stock was reported (Kym Anderson).'

Is it possible the 246 ha of 2010 have been dug up? We hope not.

Best red

Conti Capponi Villa Calcinaia Mammolo.



We first bought this in 2020, together with Villa Calcinaia's Sanforte and Occhiorosso. We presented these last two at the Athenaeum tasting last November listing them as follows;

Villa Calcinaia Occhiorosso. Rosso dei Colli della Toscana Centrale I.G.T. Italy. 2018. 13.5%

“Roberto...Bandinelli discovered the variety while talking one day to Nunziata Grassi, an 85 year old who took him around her vineyards and showed him Occhiorosso… The minute Bandinelli showed me what to look for in an Occhiorosso grapevine I was immediately able to recognise it without fail in any other vineyard I visited that day with him.”

Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy.

Purple Pages gave this 16.5 and mentioned its 'charming personality,'

Villa Calcinaia, Sanforte. Rosso dei Colli della Toscana Centrale I.G.T. Italy. 2018. 13.5%

Sanforte is listed separately from Sangiovese in Ian D’Agata’s authoritative ‘Native Wine Grapes of Italy. He tells us that he name is a contraction of Sangiovese Forte but everything about the variety differs from Sangiovese; it is more fertile, produces more bunches, ripens earlier, piles up sugar in its berries more notably and makes a more massive wine, yet one that retains elegance. Villa Calcinaia is the only winery making a monovarietal from this grape.

Jancis Robinson gave this a score of 17 and found it 'really interesting,'

To be truly honest* these were nice wines but to our taste not as distinctive as we had hoped they would be\

The Mammolo on the other hand was truly and honestly individual. The Athenaeum tasting had been for varieties made by one producer only so we were never going to include our Mammolo in that category, hence its earlier consumption. 

Mammolo turns out to be the same as Sciaccarello which is strange because our previous experience of Schiaccarello had been quite different. This may be because according to D'Agata, Corsican Sciaccarello or Sciaccarellu is usually blended with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

*The expression 'Truly honest' was first heard from an American lad at Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre this year and thinking of the Trump years in America, it seemed that merely 'honest' might now denote something that could be f;exible in meaning and that if you want to be honest you now have to qualify the term with the adj. 'truly.' The context of the lad's employment of the term was 'If I'm truly honest I don't want to climb up all those stairs.'


Attempting to buy a couple of bottles of Villa Calcimaia's Mammolo last summer we slid off a dirt track, landed with two wheels in a ditch and had to be pulled out. That provided the entertainment for the rest of the afternoon but not the bottles we wanted, not the visit to the winery we had planned. We imported 6 bottles subsequently and opened one of them with our Xmas turkey. All well that ended well.

Best English White
Ashdown Chasselas

Shortly after making this award, Jancis Robinson wrote a glowing tribute to Chasselas in 'Purple Pages.' There was even the suggestion from Michel Chapoutier that Chasselas planted in the Scilly Isles might be an idea. On the strength of Ashdown's Chasselas (Sussex), this could be a good one.

Best English Red
Halfpenny Green Penny Red Pinot Noir.Rondo/Regent



Again, if we are truly honest, we haven't tasted many English or Welsh reds this year and there were
fewer reds than whites at the Vineyard and Winery Show. Halfpenny Green was one of several wineries
we had never heard of but which are serious producers even if their wines are available only from the cellar door and a limited number of merchants.

This blend of Pinot Noir, Rondo and Regent seems to be a winner. We enjoyed the wine which is not something one can say about some of the reds to be had in this country.

Best Show/Wine Festival
The Vineyard and Winery Show

Biggest Surprise
Bardolino Novello


We have gone into the 'problem' of Bardolino Novello before. It's always intriguing when something
is so comprehensively reviled by all and sundry. So attempts actually to taste this rarity became a bit of an obsession. We love Bardolino for its charm and unpretentiosness (viz. Valpolicella) and we like nouveau wines having made some ourselves.

While still trying to work out how to get our hands on a bottle of Bardolino Novello an amazing coincidence occurred as happens from time to time. Tam Currin of Purple Pages suddenly discovered this wine and wrote a glowing appreciation of several bottles she had been tasting thanks to the Consorzio di Bardolino Novello.

Writing to the Consorzio to ask where we could buy these wines (Winesracher had not been very helpful), they replied by sending us three bottles as a gift. One of these in particular was memorable and we recommend any naysayer to try it before dismissing Bardolino Novello.

Best Vine Nursery
Pepinieres Guillaume and Rebschule Freytag, joint winners


Vine nurseries are amazing undertakings. The mind boggles at what has to be done to produce
the bare-rooted vines ready for planting. Both Pepinieres Guillaume ad Rebschule Freytag
produce a plethora of varieties. Freytag concentrates more on the PIWI varieties and
Guillaume on the French heritage ones although both have plenty of others on offer.
We also marvel at how cheaply they manage to sell their plants. Consider that for 2 Euros or
thereabouts you can have a plant that will last for decades and produce many bottles of wine.

PS. This award doesn't diminish our admiration for the Vivai Cooperativo di Rauscedo (VCR), the world's biggest vine nursery. We chose Feytag and Guillaume because they came to the Vineyard and Winery Show in Kent this year.


Best PIWI discovery



At the Rebschule Freytag stand at the 2022 Vineyard and Winery Show (Detling, near Maidstone in
Kent) there was a bottle of Rinot on tasting and we thought this wine was very interesting indeed.

Rinot is a Czech cross between Merzling and a combination of Seyve Villard and Pinot Gris. There are
therefore genes from Vitis Vinifera, Vitis Berlandii, Vitis Rupestris and Vitis Linecumii in the DNA.
This is positively the first vine we have encountered with Vitis Linecumii. In fact we've never heard of
that species although without it neither Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc or several other varieties would not exist which would be a pity. 

What a complicated business this vine breeding is but what a miracle that something
as lovely as Rinot can come out of it.

Best new wine merchant
Alzbeta Novotna, Wines of  Bohemia


Ms. Novotna is an energetic and well-informed new winemerchant specialising in the wines of Bohemia. We are fortunate that she has chosen to be with us here in the UK and to be bringing us wines of individuality. She is not the only one we have come across this year; NIKI specialising in Serbian wines is another but Wines of Bohemia is more recently established and so receives our accolade as Best New Merchant.

Best wine merchant

Hedonism is the super posh winemerchant in the heart of Mayfair, London.
Founded by a Russian oligarch, Evgeny Chichvarkin apparently because he was surprised there was
nowhere in the city you could buy a case of Petrus at short notice for those impromptu
dinners you might want to throw if a fellow oligarch happened to drop in.

OK that may be exaggerating but it was apparently something along those lines.

We on the Slotovino awards committee have a similar attitude to wine snobism as Nigella Lawson
has to the concept of Fine Dining (makes her want to lie on the floor and weep).
However, Hedonism is not really despicable at all. In fact it is replete with interesting bottles
representative of all sorts of territories at normal prices. Furthermore it has a staff as
numerous as they are knowledgeable and the place is a very pleasant spot for an hour or two of
bottle fondling and education. You can even walk out with something interesting under £20
or that special bottle costing four figures if you happen to have made a killing on financial markets that morning.

Our last purchase there was the Ukranian Telti-Kuruk at around £23 as mentioned above. Any merchant carrying that bottle gets our vote.

Best restaurant winelist
This Columbia Road so-called 'neighbourhood' restaurant is as they say 'worth crossing London for', not least for the winelist. Originally set up by Les Caves de Pyrene many of the wines may still be obtained from them. The list is too extensive to check but whoever has sourced them and wherever they come from, the result is everything you could wish for, even though some prices are steep. 
Just one example, under Whites/Jura, Savoie, Auvergne - a category some restaurants don't even have - 20 wines are listed (including a white Poulsard!) ranging from £50 - £92.

Added to all that, the food and especially the service are exemplary.

Predictions for 2023
Sparkling Tea!

Yes, you read it here. Not wine at all, no grapes of whatever variety are involved. So what is it doing
here in the esteemed Slotovino 2022 Awards?

Allow us to explain. Apparently 0% alcohol 'wines' are expected to grow 35% by 2023 according to Wein.Plus. Plenty of winemakers are removing the alcohol from wine by various means but what is left is mostly unsatisfying and it might even be questionable as wine at all. Then there are the beverages using ingredients with only a tenuous connection with wine such as vinegar. Such concoctions tend to taste like, well - vinegar.

When we first saw the words 'Sparkling Tea' we thought the world had finally gone mad. Worse we
imagined this was some kind of excess as imagined by Mrs. Doyle of 'Father Ted.' It is not necessary
to go into the English obsession with tea in this blog. It gets more extreme by the day. We find ourselves siding with the aristocrat described by Bill Bryson as forbidding his family to drink tea. They of course did so secretly but one day he surprised them and threw their cups and teapot out of the window.

So what is the story? Well it takes place in a fantastic restaurant in Mousehole, Cornwall called
2, Fore Street, In keeping with the craze for non-alcoholic drinks there was an enticing list of cocktails
(mocktails) and such to satisfy teetotallers, drivers and those just wanting a healthy life. Among these
drinks was a sparkling tea so we thought 'let's see what this 'connerie' is all about and ordered a shot.
This came out of a Champagne type bottle and was poured into a Champagne flute. All quite impressive and seemly given the cost of the drink.

The colour was rather brown which was not unexpected but the taste was nothing like tea. Apparently tea is only a base for the addition of all sorts of botanicals and flavourings and in this case it was all rather pleasant even if it was rather off-dry. It may not have tasted like wine but it looked like wine and had the  same refreshing effect as some sparkling wines without the alcohol kick of course. It was something to sip rather than gulp down. Definitely not a thirst-quensher.

We are not hooked on Sparkling Tea but we can understand those who could be. So if you imagine this
catching on the sky is the limit. Think of all those who are forbidden alcohol, all those who choose not to imbibe alcohol, young people wanting something special to drink. At last something 'grown up' and
not unsophisticated.

At the moment Sparkling Tea is a luxury item. That is a good way to start off. Prices can come down
but it should maintain its cache.

Worst Airport Duty Free
All - Malaga, Barcelona, Pisa, Marseille, Genova. All as bad as eachother. What's going on?
Best Wine Supplies shop 
G.M. Luico, Enologia, Genova
This is a new category. Normally a wine/beer supplies shop would not interest wine drinkers but everyone needs at least a corkscrew and maybe some gear for preserving wine such as Vacuvin,
possibly a wine thermometer, a decanter and whatnot. We have recently proposed a two handled corker as something reasonably priced that will improve the preservation of wine left-overs without forking out for a Corovin. We're not sure if Luic sells cannisters of Argon gas but we wouldn't be surprised given the fact they appear to stock everything else for the making and drinking of wine, Also paraphernalia to do with beer  and olive oil.
Corks? Anyone making wine in the UK as a hobby will tell you it is not possible to buy top quality corks in the UK. They are available only in large quantities - multiples of 1,000 or more. Corks are 
important so when in Italy, we researched the problem and that is what led us to Luico Salita San Caterina 17r, Genova.

Founded in 1855, this little shop is a protected establishment (Impresa Storica D'Italia) in the heart of Genova right next to the Teatro Carlo Felice (opera house). The words, Cornucopia, Aladdin's Cave, Temple of wine supplies give an inkling of what goes on inside. 

The words Fabbrica di Turaccili lavorati a coltello mean 'makers of cork stoppers made by knife.' Luico used to make their own corks from cork trees in Finalmarina but the process is mechanised now, Clients of the shop included Garibaldi who spent his last years in Genova and a famous set designer Gilberto Govi who apprently used cork in his productions.

Corks are available in different sizes and 3 different qualities at between about E.1 and E.2 each.
We also bought some yeasts for re-starting stuck fermentations and so on. Rosanna Luico presided over
all this stuff and was a mine of information and good advice. 
Carlo Luico and his daughter Rosanna, direct descendents of the founders in 1855.


Especially cute was the Biodynamic table of when was best to cork wine according to the phases of the moon. 

Special award for the re-establishment of an endangered variety/varieties
Joszef Szentesi.

As a child, József Szentesi showed little interest in working in his father’s 1ha vineyard in Budaörs, 10km from Budapest. But, in 1998, he decided to make his own wine, training himself and gaining inspiration from winemakers in Burgundy. Currently, he manages 16ha on the slopes of Lake Velencei, 50km from Hungary’s capital, at an altitude of 175m. He grows 30 different grape varieties – including 20 that are extremely rare.

"I also have traditional varieties, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Kadarka from the reds; Riesling, Zengő, Sauvignon Blanc, some Furmint and Kéknyelű from the whites. In an old publication written in 1880, I read about the ancient first-, second-, and third-class grape varieties. I was surprised that I hadn't even heard about many of the first-class ones. I have chosen 10 red and 10 white varieties; I purchased the rooted grafts from the Winery Research Faculty of University of Pécs, and Dr Pál Kozma (grape breeder) helped with the grafting on. In 2001, I read an article about ‘Buda Red’ wine, which is a blend from Kadarka and Csókaszőlő grapes that was one of the most important export commodities of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. I decided that I wanted to make this wine. In 2003, we grafted 300 grapevines of Csókaszőlő (below), from which I made 40 litres of wine in 2004. In 2005, Hungarian winemakers visited me and were fascinated by the wine, because since 130 years no one made wine from this variety. Some of them also took grafts, for example, Vylyan winery from Villány. 

The reds are Tihanyi Kék, Tarcali Kék, Csókaszőlő, Kékbajor, Feketefájú Bajor, Hajnos Kék, Kékszilváni, Purcsin, Laska, Feketemuskotály. The whites are Szerémi Zöld, Balafánt, Kovácsi, Kolontár, Lisztes, Fehér Gohér, Hamvas, Sárfehér, Vörösdinka, Piros Bakator. I see a big potential in the reds, because only Kékfrankos (Blaufrankisch) and Kadarka have survived the phylloxera plague from the native red grape varieties. From eight of the reds I already made wine several times, and this year I’ll make from Purcsin and Kékszilváni. From the whites, I see potential in Szerémi Zöld. In addition, I make a blend of Lisztes Fehér and Zöldszilváni. 

How wonderful is that?


Most interesting wine trend
New resistant and hardy grape varieties for classic apellations.
Which Winegrape Varieties are grown where? by Kym Anderson and Signe Nelgen.

This is by no means a new publication although it has been updated. Of course the data is changing all the time but coming to it late in the day doesn't change its fascination. The book is quoted frequently but we are ashamed to say we hadn't taken a look at it until now. You can buy it at over £45 but if you are not in the mood to do that, you can download the 2013 or 2016 edition free of charge.

Kym Anderson re-defines the concept of Renaissance Man and measures of industry, breadth of interest and productivity.  According to Wikipedia he is an economist specialising in trade policy and issues relating to the World Trade Organisation.


University of New England

University of Adelaide
University of Chicago
Stanford University


Australian Defence College
Australian National University
Peking University
University of Siena
University of Sydney
Uppsala University
World Trade Institute
Swiss universities of Bern, Fribourg and Neuchatel
Georgetown University Law School

Periods of leave at

International Economics Institute and Rural Economics Institutes of Korea
Visiting Fellow, Ford Foundation
Visiting Fellow, Australian department of Trade
Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm
GATT (now WTO) Secretariat, Geneva
Research Group of the World Bank, Wasj=hington DC.


Research Fellow, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London
Fellow, Australian Academy of Social Sciences, Australia
Fellow, American Agricultural and Applied Economics Association,
Distinguished Fellow (and former President) of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society
Fellow (and Vice President) of the American Association of Wine Economists
Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
International journals' editorial board;
Journal of International Economics Law
Journal of Wine Economics
and others.

He has published around 40 books and more than 900 journal articles and chapters in other books. 

Eminence personified. -

Our award for 'Which Winegrape Varieties are grown where?' is given for its mighty snapshot of statistics relating to just that: charts from 53 named counries (including unexpected places such as Myanmar and Norway) and 'Rest of World' comprising 9 countries showing 

Total Grapevine Area Hervested

Share of World Grapevine Area Harvested

Total Winegrape Area

Share of World Winegrape Area

Share of Wine-Grapes in Total Grapevine Area (%)

Share of National Agricultural Crop Area under Grapevine

Grape Yield (tonnes per ha.)

Total Grape Production (Kt)

Share of World Grape Production (%)

We were especially amused by this chart showing UK Triomphe D'Alsace as top of the Varietal Intensity Index relative to the world in 2010.

A dubious honour.

Indispensible website 2022


There are many good websites you need to research wine. Purple Pages, Winesearcher are
two of the indispensible ones. To these we would like to add Wein.Plus which has been going
since 1998. It bills itself as the Wine Platform for Wine Lovers. It has an indispensible
Lexicon which it says is the largest wine encyclopedia in the world with 26,013 entries. It is especially good on grape varieties.

There are pages on Producers, Regions, Wine Basics, Find and Buy, plus Reviews, News, a
Business Directory and 'Events,' but you probably know all that.

Why did it take us so long to join up (free) and add Wein.Plus to our arsenal?

Various accolades and thanks to
Rosanna Luic, Hannah Tovey, Oleksandra Hryhorieva, Viktoria Palinkash, Irina Diachenkova
Valentina Parsaieva, Giorgi Iukuridze, Bill - digger, Francesco D'Affano, Francesco Visentin, Marta Poian, Paola Balli, Martina Olivo, Daniela Shahab, Baptiste Ducassou, Manuel Casagrande, Martin Distl, Paolo Addis, Elisabetta Barberis, Angelo Peretti, Alessandra Zambonin, Sam Doncaster, Volker Freytag, Alzbeta Novotna, Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, Andrew Jefford, Massimo Grasso, Emilia Holman, Elena Moreno, Emanuela Cattaneo, Elvira Ackermann, Tamas Koerner, Christian Gelbe-Haussen,


Tuesday 27 December 2022

French Vignerons forced to change grape varieties to combat Flavescence Dorée

Vitisphere publish 'La lettre des Vignerons' as their newsletter twice a week. We can't remember how we got onto their list but we're glad we did because it really is worth reading. There are often juicy bits about who's going to prison or getting fined for the latest scams and sometimes a reflection of the heat French Vignerons generate in combating the government over the many difficulties they face.

The following was a particularly interesting post concerning the vine disease Flavescence Dorée*(Grapevine Yellows). We were particularly interested to read that Fleurtai and Soreli are considered less prone to the disease having planted these two VCR varieties ourselves.

'I will not plant any more Marselan or Vermentino until Flavescence Dorée is better controlled. These two grape varieties are ultra-sensitive to this disease. 

On his Isle Saint-Pierre estate, in Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône), Julien Henry is fighting a pugnacious fight against Flavescence Dorée, treating three to four times the areas most infested with leafhoppers. Of his 240 ha of vines, he has already uprooted 47.5 ha in three years. 

“All my grape varieties are affected. They say that Merlot is more resistant, but I had to pull out a plot that was just 5 years old,” he says angrily. "I'm going to replant Merlot" For the moment, he has not yet replanted the areas grubbed up. But, this year, he will have to resolve it if he does not want to lose his planting rights. “I will replant Merlot even if I am not convinced that it is not very sensitive to Flavescence Dorée. 

But what else to plant? Syrah? It's an ostrich: you don't see the symptoms, but the vine can be contaminated and contribute to the spread of the disease. Fleurtaï and Soreli seem a little less sensitive, but they are not completely unscathed. As for Muscat à petits grains, which is also tolerant, there is no market for this variety. » 

In Vergèze (Gard), the Vignoble de la Voie d'Héraclès cellar is also badly affected by this scourge. Committed to organic farming for a long time, it is all the more vulnerable as the effectiveness of Pyrévert, the only insecticide authorized in organic farming, remains uncertain. 

Organic winegrower in Poilhes, in the Hérault, Bernard Paillet has given up on certain grape varieties: 

"Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon, Cabernet-Sauvignon... it's over, I don't plant any more as long as there are the Flavescence Dorée in my area. 

This producer was forced to uproot 6 ha in five years. "Sensitivity to disease is now the number one criterion in my choice of grape varieties," he says. But we have little information about it. We rely on our observations and feedback from our fellow winegrowers. If we had the statistics of the varieties grubbed up because of Flavescence Dorée, that would already be a clue. »

If Bernard Paillet does not miss Cabernet-Sauvignon, often too tannic on his terroir, nor Sauvignon Blanc, less and less thiolated with global warming, he regrets having to do without the Albarino. Now, he favors five grape varieties: Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Fleurtaï and Soreli. To maintain a 65% white grape variety, he "viognises" his vineyard. "Chardonnay, I have to plant it because the market demands it, but I'm clenching my butt," he adds. I reserve it for areas that are less infested. »

The  'Vignerons du Pays d’Ensérune' have the same problems.. « We are sending vignerons a list of more resitstant varieties: Syrah, Merlot, Viognier and Côt (Malbec).' 

* Flavescence Dorée (Grapevine Yellows) is a relatively recent disease. First appearing in Armagnac in 1949 like Phylloxera it was said to have been brought from America. By the early 1990s it was widespread in France and has now spread all over the world. The spreading is done by an insect called Leafhopper. Signs include late budbreak, very slow shoot growth which may stop altogether while leaves yellow and droop downwards. Shoots also droop and bunches fall off. Berries are small and bitter. Half the vineyard may be affected in any one year. The fruit in the remainder is not affected. Flavescance Doree and associated diseases are potentially a worse threat than  Phylloxera because it is spreading fast and there is no way it can be controlled. Having said that, insecticides are used to some effect. There is even one called Pyrévert that can be used in organic viticulture and is to some degree effective against the leafhopper.









An essential piece of kit.





Two Handled Corker

What to do with half-finished bottles of wine/Pignoletto/English Sparkling?

We've already told you to get Argon gas wine preserver but there is sometimes a problem re-sealing the bottle, especially Champagne-style ones.

For £13.29 you can buy a Two Handled Corker on offer from Bigger Jugs which will push any cork into any bottle re-sealing it 100%

"Corking your wine can be made easy and simple using this superb heavy duty traditional style double lever two handled corker. Very easy to use, simply pop the cork into the chamber, place the corker on top of the bottle and push down on the levers - it’s that quick..."

Monday 26 December 2022

Sleeping Beauty


This had lain in our drawer since we know not when.

Fishing it out to drink with Sea Bass al horno the other day was an unexpected inspiration.

The Wine Anorak (Jamie Goode) notes 'The variety here is Mosctatel Tinto (or Muscatel Negro), which I think might be similar to Moscatel Roxo in Portugal (I’ll have to research this).' 

While waiting for the Anorak's researches, we can only say that one school of thought think Moscatel Tinto is a black mutation of Muscat Blanc a petits grains and another has it that it is Listan Prieto originally from Spain but now common to South America. 

For our taste we think it much more likely to be related to the former.