Friday 5 April 2024

Dutch resistance



Colonjes Knapse Witte Helios and Riesel. Beschermde Geografische Aanduiding Gelderland. 2022. 13%




Domein Hof te Dieren. Johanniter. Landwein uit Gelderland. NV. 12%



Aan de Breede Beek. Muscaris. Beschermde Geografische Aanduiding Gelderland. 2022. 12%



Smaak van Bilderhof, Dordrecht. Souvignier Gris. Nederlands Product. 2020. 11.5%


Smaak van Bilderhof, Dordrecht. Dordts Rood. Bolero. Wijn van Nederland. NV. 12.5%



Sent in recompense for missing-label bottle below

Hof van Baarle Cabernet Cantor. Beschermde Geografische Aanduiding Noord-Brabant. 2022. 11%



Wijngaard & Boerderijwinkel Maronesse Polder Passie rood. Cabernet Cortis. Marknesse, Flevoland. 2019. 12.5% NO LABEL!

Avondrood. Celtic Fields. Cabernet Noir. Matendijk, Wekerom (Gelderland). 2019. 12%



Wijngoed Wilgenhorst. Zomer Rood. Cabaret Noir. Zeewolde. Beschermde geografische aanduiding Flevoland (NL). 2022. 12.5%



Wijngaard Dassemus. Wilde Rode. Rondo, Cabernet Cortis, Baron. Beschermde Geografische Aanduiding Noord-Brabant. 20+21. 8.5%.

Achterhoekse Oorsprong. Regent. Gelderse Landwijn uit de Achterhoek. 2019. 12.5%

When you enter a Dutch wine shop and ask to buy Dutch wine they laugh and say Dutch wine is sour and expensive. 

That hasn't been our experience in the past and indeed we formed a theory that Dutch still wine was better than English and Welsh  non-sparkling. wine. The theory was based on the climate being on average 1 degree Celsius warmer and the Dutch having longer experience in winemaking that we do. 

At a wine festival in Groesbeek a while ago we tasted quite a few Dutch wines from vinifera grapes but our interest was more in those made with PIWI varieties which the Dutch seem to have embraced on a wider scale than here. Maybe this has something to do with the fact in comparison with the UK, hardly any sparkling wine is made in the Netherlands.

So with a trip to Amsterdam in the offing last year we decided to avoid the winemerchants' mockery and buy our Dutch wine online and have it delivered to our hotel. Our selection concentrated on PIWI wines especially those including less well known varieties sUch as Bolero, Helios, Riesel and so forth.

Standouts were the red of Smaak van Bilderhof of Dordrecht which is interesting because Dordrecht is not in the normal wine-growing region of The Netherlands. In fact it is just half an hour south of Rotterdam. The variety was Bolero which we were tasting for the first time. Very promising. They also made a passable Souvignier Gris.

The best white was the Muscaris of Aan de Breede Beek of Gelderland, also not the main winegrowing area. Breede Beek is 30 minutes east of Hilversum. Muscaris is something we have planted ourselves and have a further 25 vines on order for filling gaps this year. Aan de Breede Beek's Muscaris was also popular at a post-tasting dinner.

While not exceptional but yet enjoyable, the Dassemus blend of Rondo, Cabernet Cortis and Baron went down easily as did the Avondrood Cabrenet Noir (a couple of days after opening), the Colonjes Helios and Riesel and the Maronesse Polder Passie Cabernet Cortis if that is what it was ('NO LABEL').

So the takeaway could be said to be that Dutch wine from PIWI varieties is a mixed bag sometimes benefitting from drinking after a really good airing (two days or more). That geographical area appears not to be critical and that it is not sour or particularly expensive. The difference between English and Welsh wine and Dutch wine is that 60% of UK wine is sparkling whereas only a very small proportion of Dutch wine is. The choice of grapes is also rather different with the Dutch going for more PIWI kinds coming from Germany and Switzerland with our varieties more likely to be the old German and French ones like Madeleine Angevine, Schonberger and Reichensteiner with a lot of Bacchus and purely vinifera types. 

Why did we want to taste Dutch PIWI wines? Partly because we have long thought Dutch still wine is better than English and partly because we are always on the lookout for a PIWI wine to disprove Jose Vouillamoz's contention that there are no great wines from PIWI or resistant vines. We think English wines have now caught up with Dutch ones but we have still to find a wine good enough to propose to Dr. Vouillamoz.

They also make vinifira wines.


Wednesday 13 March 2024

Penedes Tasting


The fewer the tasters the better, you could say. No standing behind huge blokes like up against a pub bar. We hope the organisers achieved their goals because Penedes is a fantastic appellation and they deserve every success.

There were any number of Xarel-lo wines on show - all good. This together with its pink mutation Xarel-lo Vermell are wonderfully reliable and sometimes really terrific. It has been said that Xarel-lo might be related to Macabeo but Slotovino considers Xarel-lo to be superior.

Sumarroca, Gramona, Loxarel and other luminaries were there but for our purposes it was Torres who held the greatest attraction since they had brought some of their 'Varietats Recuperadas' from their 'Projecte de recuperacio de varietals autoctons ancestrals.'

Forcada 100%?

the first was Forcada 2019

Forcada with Xarel-lo

Then Forcada 2022. On the back label is written 'More than forty years ago, Familia Torres embarked on a project to recover ancestral varieties in an act of archaeology that aims to restore a shared heritage, and among its fruit is Cos Ancestral . Forcada is the first recovered white pre-phylloxera variety to be vinified and combined with Xarel-lo, it endows the wine with an incomparable authenticity.'

and Moneu, a red, albeit in a blend with Tempranillo and Garnacha Tinta,

On the back label is written 'Castell de la Bleda, in the heart of the Penedes, our homeland, has been a winegrowing area for over 2000 years. There we have found Iberian and Roman vestiges, from the Middle Ages and from the time just before phylloxera when ancestral varieties like Moneu thrived in the vineyards. It took us years of research to recover this variety, which is why we are thrilled to include it in the blend for Clos Ancestral...'

We had hear about the Torres programme to revive almost extinct varieties and had always wanted to taste some of the wine made with them. They have counted more than 50 such varieties. After Forcada and Moneu there is Garró, Querol and Pirene.This was a great opportunity to get an idea of the programme not least because bottles of these wines are made in very small quantities so far and are very expensive. 

From tasting we half understood why Forcada and Moneu have been placed in blends. The 2019 Forcada (which we presume is in purezza) was not very approachable.

It is early days and if anyone can find the best way to present these rescue varieties, Torres will.

Paris Round up.


As ever, we start with a shot of the Pont Louis Philippe around the corner from our favourite Caviste, Herve Lethielleux at 'L'Etiquette.' Check past visits to Paris posted on this blog to see the bridge in different seasons and practically submerged in a flooded Seine in one case.

Here we bought a nice looking (not too alcoholic) Alsace Pinot Noir. This is an ongoing quest for the quintessential Alsace Pinot Noir. For us it shouldn't be more than 12.5% if the essence of Alsace Pinot Noir is to come through. We most certainly don't want an APN that tries to rival a Burgundy. 

The same goes for Poulsard. Again our quest is for something low in alcohol and unmistakably Poulsardien. This one looks promising at 11.8%

Caves Bossetti in the Rue des Archives is also a good address. We were directed here by Winesearcher on another quest altogether. The great Chambers St. Wines of New York wrote about a Pinot Meunier Champagne by Dehours who rank as the specialists in this grape.

We are great fans of Pinot Meunier. Whenever we have found it in purezza it has always pleased. The Germans are the most active practitioners with a category all of their own called 'Samtrot.' The translation is silk-red and that seems appropriate.

Further researches into Poulsard cam up with an address in the 15ieme specialising in the wines, cheeses and spirits of the Franche Comte.

Here we bought a Poulsard by the Caveau des Byards which disappointed slightly as an expression of the grape. Maybe something to do with the Abv being over 12.5%?

What made the journey worthwhile was this bottle. 'Les Inattendus' indeed. A Poulsard made outside the Jura! Charcenne is admittedly just over the border in the Haute Saone but this was unexpected all the same. It's a pity that this too wasn't very Poulsardien, pleasant enough as it was. 

We also visited Les Vignerons Parisiens while in Paris (see recent post). The original site for the urban winery was in the Rue Turbigo. This has now become their retail wine shop. Named 'Nouvelle Cave' you wouldn't know it was connected to Les Vignerons Parisiens but they stock the LVP wines and much else.

Here we bought the bottle of Serine referred to in the post on Les Vignerons Parisiens. Serine is a biotype of Syrah.

Other purchases in Paris were this Ploussard

and a Grolleau. We do love our Grolleau. 

The grape is the third most planted red in the Loire. Only Cabernet Franc and Gamay are more common. Nevertheless, there has been a dramatic decline since 1958 when nearly 11,500 ha. were recorded. By 2009, there were 2,350 only.

So don't forget Grolleau. You will be doing yourself a favour as well as showing growers that this variety is appreciated.

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Les Vignerons Parisiens


Les Vignerons Parisiens is an urban winery in Paris near the Place de la Bastille. There is also a handsome wine shop near the Boulevard Haussman.

The facility offers tours, tastings and education ('Ateliers'). There was everything needed to make wine in the relatively small area of the 'chaix' under the arches of the Avenue Daumesnil.

The press

The tanks

the tonneaux

the bottling plant

The range

The grapes sourced from elsewhere in France include Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Pinot Gris, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Cinsault, Gamay, Grenache, Merlot and Syrah.

We bought a bottle of 'Turbigo' - one of the cheaper wines made from 100% Cinsault. We read subsequently that this is quite highly rated in Jancis Robinson's 'Purple Pages'.

Later we paid a visit to the retail shop and bought an interesting-looking bottle of Serine (a biotype of Syrah) among others.

Some replanting in the vineyard


Thanks to Brexit, export paperwork is now something our friends in the EU don't like to be bothered with. Whereas understandable. this makes life very difficult for UK importers so our Soreli vines ordered from VCR France in 2021 to replace those that had not survived the hot spring in the Covid lockdown in 2020 were severely held up.

When they arrived they didn't look very promising to say the least.


Surprisingly the vines were not compromised and have successfully taken.