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.

In praise of Freisa


Freisa, where have you been all our lives?

We know pretty much where you have been, dear Freisa because with shame we have been confusing you with Fragola, the grape that tastes of strawberries. Not any longer.

Waitrose decided to offer this fantastic Freisa for £7.99 a bottle. It's still available. Get down there immediately says Slotovino. 

What a bargain and how delicious!

Freisa belongs to the fantastic grape varieties of Piemonte that are not Nebbiolo. They include Arneis, Timorasso, Pelaverga Piccolo, Pelaverga Grosso, Ruche, Grignolino, Brachetto and others.

Our 2023 vintage



2023 was a bumper year. For the first time ever we had fed our vines and they went crazy. Chicken manure was what they got and boy did they appreciate it.

We also managed our bird problem by means of a dummy Kite. That really worked.

As in previous years we bought in Italian grapes as well as picking our own.

Waiting for the gates at Uva D'Italia to open. Enfield, London.


But that resulted in almost more grapes than we could handle. Fun as it is to make wine with Italian grapes, we won't need any next year if the harvest of our own is as big as it was in 2023.

We made:

Grapes from Italy (Puglia)

A 50-50 Montepulciano/Sangiovese co-ferment

Grapes from our experimental vineyard (Thames Valley)

Souvignier Gris
Cabernet ('Cabaret') Noir


Our Trebbiano has come out a bit on the sweet side. We had trouble with this grape last time we tried to make it. White wines can be trickier than red. Vediamo.

Syrah didn't taste as good as last time but shows signs of improvement in bottle.

We co-fermented the Montepulciano with Sangiovese because previously our Montepulciano in purezza was surprisingly acidic whereas Sangiovese had been more accommodating.


Solaris was the first white to ripen. The quantity was incredible. What usually took us an hour to pick took all day. 

We have to own up to a disaster in the course of making our Solaris. A 34 litre demijohn slipped and shattered during racking and what was left of the wine was probably oxygenated. We don't have much hope but as they say in Bordeaux, 'on ne sait jamais avec ces choses.'

Rondo bottles

Next came Rondo. We have only about 20 vines of this but there was enough to vinify it separately. Normally we would have thrown whatever we had in with our Regent which makes up the bulk of the red grapes in our right block. This Rondo is tasting rather promising. (Surprise!).


As with Rondo, we had never had enough Johanniter to vinify separately and Johanniter is not quite as resistant as say Solaris so it was a pleasant surprise again, thanks to the chicken manure to find quantity enough to make for the first time a separate vinification.

We're not sure where this Johanniter is going. On bottling it tasted rather like a grassy old-fashioned English wine. Drinkable but not very exciting. Elevage could help as we have seen in the past with Solaris.

Souvignier Gris bunch

Souvignier Gris grapes have a lovely pink tinge to them and the variety is aromatic so we decided to make an experimental Orange Wine, again with our first ever separate vinification of this variety.

As you can see, a week's maceration produced a gorgeous golden wine. What little we tasted on bottling was rather awful though. Again. in Elevage we trust to bring this round to something drinkable one day. Stranger things have happened in this business.

Next came our main red variety, Regent. As you see, this was abundant and we made 60 litres in one of our Speidel fermenters. We are already quite happy with the results. 


Another great excitement in 2023 was the discovery (posted in these pages) that our Geisenheim GM8107-3 and our Geilweilerhof GF93-22-6 have recently been dignified with their own names, Fidelio and Calardis Blanc respectively. Fidelio we love but Calardis (the Roman name for Geilweilerhof) doesn't trip off the tongue so well. 

Nevertheless, once more there were quantities sufficient to make separate wines with these plantings although we threw in some other grapes to make up the Calardis - about 25% consisting of Phoenix. Helios and Orion. We call this 'Calardis and Friends.'

To start with, the Fidelio appeared to be the better of these two but now maybe the Calardis and friends is the one. 

Cab Noir

Our left block is planted mainly with the Blattner variety originally called Cabernet Noir but now obliged to be known as Cabaret Noir no doubt due to objections by the Cabernet lobby (who knew of such a thing?). Our planting there covers more than one year so the vines are of varying maturity. Another UK grower of Cabaret Noir said they only pick in October. We found this strange because when we bough this variety we understood it ripened at the same time as Rondo if not before. 

By the time we picked on October 1st, the wasps had eaten their fill so there was not much in the way of quantity. 

The grapes from the youngest vines were hard, tiny and not plentiful to say the least.

That's all, folks!

A cursory taste of the combined older and newer Cab Noir juice was not promising. 

This variety has replaced our Triomphe D'Alsace (vielles vignes) which was hopeless for wine (but made not bad grape juice). We replaces our vieilles vignes Bacchus with Soreli, deriving from (Tocai) Friulano and obtained by the Vivai Cooperativo Rauscedo. So far this Soreli has hardly produced a single grape but we live in hope.