giovedì 22 maggio 2014

Raw wine fair London

Last weekend I spent a few days in london for the Raw fair an artisan wine fair. There were more than 150 stands with wines from all over the world. The location was the Old Truman Brewery in Brick lane; very central and an awesome spot.
I did taste lots of wines and there are always great producers present there, the vibe at the fair was subliminal, friendly atmosphere with two very sunny days.
The organization was very efficient, between the stand there was enough room to chat with the growers  or the person/sommelier in charge.
However I'll tell in this post the wine I hadn't drunk before and thanks to the Raw I discover:
 From one appellation  I really like lately, always I spoke about in this blog is the Mount Etna in Sicily. In the fair I find this amazing artisan called Etnella. They are located in the north west part of the Volcano between the town of Presa, Linguaglossa and Passopiciaro at the altitude  of 600 to 1000 meter above sea level. 13 hectare in total which 4 are dedicated to vines and the rest are olive trees and orchards to respect the biodiversity of the living soil. 5000 bottles produced with the indigenous varieties as Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccino only trained in bush vines and quite old some even prefilloxera especially for their reserve called "Notti Stellate". Etna is known for the diurnal temperature range which make this wine a full body with great refreshing acid structure.
Notti stellati was ruby red with a bouquet of black pepper, cinnamon cassis and cherry under spirit very elegant on the palate.
The Rose (the photo at the top) was my preferred wine, sour cherry and plum with pinotesque color, savor dry with great minerality. An every day wine medium body very interesting.
Catherine and Gilles Verge in the Maconnais I always heard about this producer but this was my first time to try it, sorry to come so late I do apologies I missed something very important.
At the stand were showing 4 cuvee from different vintage from 06 to 09. They farming only 3 ha of vines between 54 and 126 years old and they do not add sulphites at all and they don't age their wines in wood instead spend 4 years in steel vats.
Their wines are pure expression of Chardonnay quite chalky and limestone minerality, electric and tight with some cheese and honey character along orchard fruit and incredible saltiness. The Virè Clessè was my favorite, which is in an AOC village in the Macon with great terroir driving.
Oregon in Willamette Valley I found this producer producing only Pinot Noir with low level of sulphite only 25 mg/l and using only old burgundy barrel. The cuvee present was Crowly Station from 2012 in a single spot or climate called Eola Amity Hills.
Some blue berries unripe and fresh clean strawberry with a hint of mushroom and forest floor character. Medium plus acid and great length. Good finish and awesome drinkability.
Russian River Valley in Sonoma County California. A guy called Derek make some very interesting wine with an Italian heritage and a degree in Enology in California, he found with this project his approach on natural wine farming after woking in a brewery. The name of the winery is very funny:
 Old World Winery: 
I then tried an orange pinot gris with some skin contact quite masculine style of this delicate grapes, great orange color phenolic component and amazing structure in the palate from 2010; lovely the third character candy orange zest, baked grapefruit with hints of iron with a metallic pleasant aftertaste.
One of their red called 1890 Block from 2011 is an unusual blend from Muscadelle, Abouriou, Zinfandel, Monduese noir, Trusseau Gris and Chasselas from vines planted in the 1890 by his italian family Martinelly.
Bright ruby color with sour red fruit, palate juice and full of energy, I loved this wine.
Behind Testalonga in Swartland in South Africa there is a vigneron called Craig Hawkins, a young winemaker who has worked in Portugal and Austria and makes 3 different type of wines in maceration with skin grapes with the Chenin Blanc and Muscatel also is the winemaker at Lammershoek another organic winery in the Swartland region.
He believes in the lees and skin to protect the wine during fermentation and enriches the final product.
On granitic soil the wines are pure expression of the new world chenin blanc with fine tannins which give an extra dimension to the wine.
Craig is the new guy of the orange wine something to be watched.
The Nouvelle Vague of Savennieres Damien Lareau, he practices byodinamic farming and he has been certified Ecocert since 2009.
The schist and slate soil of the region give brightness and charm to his wine with good balance between acidity and complexity. Talking with Damien he told me he try not tot push the harvest as sometime normal vigneron in the region do, he loves to have in his wine the perfect freshness of the Chenin Blanc with the fine and complex minerality only this small A.O.C. in the Loire valley. He's got vineyards between the two towns of Bouchemaine and Possonniere; also he's got some small parcels in Roche aux Moines. 
Les Genets was the cuvee I did really like, it's one of the more highest lieu-dit of the entire region around 85 meter above sea level on volcanic and schist soil only wild yeast on the fermentation. 18 months on lees in some new barrels and old; exotic fruit and honey, opulent and very mineral. Energetic and Superb.
Florian Looze and Cyril Alonso are the two guys behind the project Maison P.U.R. They are working their vineyards with the idea to respect the terroir with the absence of herbicide, pesticide, insecticide and any product of synthesis. They summarize their job with the description "Natural wines without inputs".
They make 4 wines in Beaujolais and the Rhone Valley, all 4 were present at the Raw fair. However for me the Cote du Py and the Regniè were wonderful.
Semi carbonic maceration, long fermentation up to 15 days to extract poliphenol and nutrients, the aging has been done in Concrete vats.
The Morgon "Cote du Py was full of cherry with peppery character quite rich, smooth with great balance.
The Regnie more feminine with nose of violet and white pepper, with a thin and nervous mouth.
Weingut Georgium in the most south region of Austria "Carinthia" near the border of Italy and Slovenian this winery working only with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
At the fair were present 3 wines two pinot noir and one chardonnay however one red was pinot vinified in white.
Very chalky and limestone soil in this region which give the wines finesse and elegance. Normally it is quite hard to find a good pinot in the old world always with the Burgundy in comparison; but these wines were a great discover for me.
Finesse and balance, electric and tight, mineral and freshness.
Poully Fume by Alexander Bain the man plough the vineyards with horse and to protect the vines sprays  tea, seaweed and others homoeopathy treatment. On silex soil with a shellfish bed the wines are super salty and very precise. A bit reductive, needs time to open, but after your patience the bottle pay you back with an infinity long lasting full of energy in the palate.
Only stainless steel and very low sulphur at the bottling.
After Dagenau, Bain is one of the man on Poully Fume.
 On monday I attended the master class about orange wine, was a great discussion between the producer and Isabelle Legeron MW which is the mind behind the fair.
The producer involved in the tasting and discussion were:
Sasa Rdikon of Radikon
Ernesto Cattel of Costadilà
Sepp Muster of Weingunt Maria & Sepp Muster
Stephane Bannwarth of Laurent Bannwarth
Craig Hawkins of Lammershock and Testalonga.
I did really like the discussion and the wines that were chosen to do that master class.
I guess now orange wines are very fashion around the planet through wine bar and restaurant, so there are very different points of view about these white wines made in red style, so with tannin and structure.
Just try it and have fun that is my conclusion. 

lunedì 12 maggio 2014

Naturale Dinamiche Bio @ Navelli AQ

Naturale is a wine fair in the middle of Abruzzi.
Close to the famous town of Aquila which was hit by the earthquake not long ago and Mr Berlusconi make this awesome city quite famous but apparently he didn't fix it afterwards, a shame about that.
Navelli is the name of the town where Naturale was done an old "borgo" surrounded by mountains.
The organization behind this is called Dinamiche Bio a few guys with lots of passion make this event on the map of natural wine around the world.
For me, it was the first time due to the fact I'm living overseas, I' m very glad to be present this year.
At the fair there were more than 50 growers with more than 200 wines to try; also one floor was dedicated to food and veggies was really cool the food/garden section; Abruzzo product are always tasty and not replicable and of course other specialties from Italy were excellent too.
The castle where the exhibition was done is called Palazzo Santucci and also Navelli town is popular for the "Zafferano" saffron which here they call "Red gold".
Of course I wasn't able to taste every thing but I did taste lots of new things for me.
As it was a Sunday there were lots of people all over the place.
Great harmony and passionated feeling through the visitors.
Love this feeling.

One of the first producer I really liked was Antonio Cosmi of Casale Certosa in S. Palomba in Rome.
I did love his white wine made with Grechetto and Malvasia Puntinata named Alborea quite aromatic with an interesting phenolic component and mineral structure.
antonio cosmi
Talking with the producer he told me the vines are in very good soil, friable limestone mixed with alluvial volcanic pebbles and they are quite young 10 to 15 years old. I guess this wine in 10 years will be over control for minerality and sapidity, looking forward to taste Alborea in the future.
alborea and brothers 
The other cool producer is in the Marche region in the area of Cupramontana in the provence of Ancona. La Marca di S. Michele they produce a  Verdicchio in a Mersault style ripe stone fruit with honey and creamy texture with limestone and flinty perception with a refreshing acidity to buy a case and lock in the cellar.

The producer told me he's aiming to make a pure expression of verdicchio with no influence of the barrel so he reckon in a few vintage the barrel would be used enough to not give tertiary oak character. To my point of view it's already there, quite close; I actually liked that hint of honey / vanilla taste which make me think to store in the cellar to let the wine develop.

la Marca di S. Michele
Still in the Marche region I enjoyed the Pecorino which is another native varieties of Abruzzo and Marche regions. The producer are in Ascoli Piceno a Cossignano the winery is called Fontorfio.
The pecorino was quite bright in color with an intense yeasty character along some underripe pineapple and citrus flavors. Minerality with saltiness and refreshing acidity a good deal for your everyday sauvignon blanc. 
                                                            Azienda agricola Fontorfio 
Next wine was the new super star of Abruzzo madame Cristiana Galasso from the winery Feudo D'Ugni:
She is a lovely lady working in a really minimal intervention and she has many old vines based around Trebbiano, Malvasia and Montepulciano and a very interesting surprise she makes a Gruner Veltiner from a 50 year old vines. The gruner is not so bad as my mind was thinking when she told me while she was pouring a tasting glass. "A gruner in center Italy" I said "that doesn't work", however the wine got some personality a bit close not spice as Gruner but mineral with a good acid structure. Also the trebbiano Lama Bianca it's a very good wine. I'll see if I can visit the winery soon.
From Abruzzi its always a pleasure taste the wines of Cirelli with his wines aging and fermented in Amphora a clay pot. The montepulciano was earthy and tar with farmyard with an hint of stable; the fruit blue and black tight and close. Palate very sour, tannin evidence with slate licking.
The king of Abruzzi Mr. Emidio Pepe with his pretty niece was another good tasting:
I loved the Pecorino something new for me I wasn't aware about that; I love their wines. The Pecorino got a good concentration of color quite gold with honey and pastry element on the nose along some stony steel and wet wool minerality a very good surprise. In line with their style.

Still in the Region of Abruzzi in Pescara country side i tried the Pecorino made by Palusci, without filtering and decanting in the Ovarius was a great surprise. Cloudy yeast and autolytic, creamy and cheesy. Palate medicinal, lavender with fennel and dill. A good shit to use an oxymora. I liked it.
  A stand was dedicated to an association of growers called CO.VI.BIO. which also imported some french wines into the country.
Biodinamique Growers around the country have joined together to improve their marketing size, a very cool idea. Producer I liked:
From Dicomano in Tuscany I liked the wines from Voltumna especially the Pinot Noir in a Vosne Romanee style.
Tenute Selva Dolce in the Riviera di Ponente in Liguria was a great tasting all their wines Vermentino, Pigato and Rossese di dolce d'acqua. I' m looking forward to buy some of their wines.
In the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy I loved Emmanuel Giboulot the one almost went in jail to protect his vines from chemical. The last hero of Biodinamique. 
That's was the wines I had the chance to tasted from the banquette of CO.VIO.BIO. It was very busy.
From Tuscany in Castelnuovo Berardenga a small vigneron Pacina I liked the sangiovese.
Label as I.G.T. was extremely tasty red fruit sour and sweet lots of cherry, tar and galestro minerality with hint of sweet spice for the aging in barrel, long and polish with a medium plus tannin.
Orange wine: I did prefer the Canlibero Falanghina in Benevento, wasn't much terroir driving but good and interesting.
Cappellano, from the Gabutti cru in Serralunga Barolo always a must unforgettable, no worlds to describe such a gem especially the Barolo Chinato. 09 the vintage both present the Pie Rupestris and Pie Franco.
 Podere Pradarolo from Emilia with his bottle fermented sparkling in orange wine style with Malvasia di Candia Aromatic doesn't have any equal in the world wines.
Some shots:  


giovedì 8 maggio 2014

Nebbiolo #Lessona #Spanna #Vespolina

Outside the famous Langhe Nebbiolo grape have got many brothers. The other night I was in Rome and I always know the Lessona D.O.C. was a great terroir for this amazing grape. I did order this wine from the winery Propietà Sperino my first time. We are in the provence of Biella in the north part of Piedimont. Lessona wines is also called "vino d'Italia" when in 1870 Quintino Sella financial minister of the country after Italy was unified and became political one country and one reign; he choose to drink the Lessona wines instead of champagne to celebrated this important event.
The propietà Sperino is the realization of a dream by Paolo de Marchi a famous personality in the world of Italian wines, perhaps more know for his other creature Cepparello a benchmark wine from Tuscany.
Continental climate at the foot of Biellese pre-alpine hills, soil contain ancient marine sand which give good acid structure to the wine and also allow the roots to easily discovery the nourishment of the mineral content in the soil.
The climate is dry, with generous light and cool night breeze which mitigate the hot summer days allowing a good rest to the vines in the night time without stressful them. This diurnal temperature allowing a long growing season, which results in a wine with fine flavors with mature tannin and savoury finishing.
At the restaurant in Rome the sommelier give me more information on the process of aging apparently fermentation has been done in open wooden tanks with long maceration for four to five weeks and aging in big barrel for 30 months.
 The wine was star bright ruby color with brilliant and vivid intensity with watery orange rim fade out on the edge of the nail wine. The viscosity was slowly with tight and slowly legs.
Pure freshness on the nose some violet, rose petal, red fruit as cherry, raspberry and strawberry tar, some balsamic menthol and hints of spiciness with intense minerality as sandy, earth and fossil.
Palate savoury, finesse with mellow tannin and perfectly structure.
Was a very good experience…

domenica 4 maggio 2014

Lunch @ Calandrino Alajimo's restaurant

Alajmo family owned a 3 michelin star restaurant in Padova a nice cool city in north Italy.
Today I try to eat at their restaurant Le Calandre for the fact I was nearby, however the restaurant was closed; through the phone the guys told me there was the bistro or a small version of the fine dining Calandre called Calandrino.
So I say why not, i got one table.
As I walk in, the ambience was relaxed and vibrant waitress and waiter smiling and me and greetings my dumb attitude.
Yes I'm a bit dumb, however i got straight a glass of Saten Franciacorta from a producer I wasn't aware, not too bad.
Menu coming at the table and look at the price and I saw it was a bit price, i thought Padova must be a rich city? Suddenly on the corner of the menù I saw listed a good deal for a 3 course menu two savory and one dessert. It was a good one I was able to choose through the entire list and I did.
First dishes was a delicious potatoes coated and cook in charcoal on the base there was a tasty fresh curd mayo, small bite of anchovies celery and grated very finely a bottarga wich is a cured fish eggs. Salty and tasty my Franciacorta was a great pairing.
Second course a simple lambs racks with potato and caramelized onion, was a huge portion and that was fabulous because made me the possibility to drink a couple interesting glasses of wine which was on the option by the glass. The lamb was perfectly cook and the sauce was sublime.
First glass of wine was a cool producer which I really loved is Roagna from Barolo and Barbaresco, a simple Langhe rosso from 2006. Bright, fragrant with hints of mushroom and ripe plum and red cherry with mellow tannins with a good structure of acidity; I'm not sure on the palate there was some sweetness as new world style Nebbiolo. Perhaps was the vintage a bit hot? lets googling, our friend give the right to us, google said there were some hot burning days during summer.
Next wine I had a new coming producer in Barbaresco Mr. Roccalini from a five star vintage 2010.
Here the was a difference. Star bright, ruby color with good vivacity. Nose red sour fruit, balsamic, mint and fresh herbs. Violets licorice, crushed rocks and limestone. Palate great spine acid and young tannins with finesse, mineral and complex. Very long. That's was a good drink. Lucky lately I bought some of his wines in my personal cellar.
 Dessert was very good, Citrus orange piece and juice, black olives, chilly and Mango sorbet.
Was a great lunch, I did really liked simple but tasty.
Can't wait to eat back at the fine dining one.