Wine notes – September 2020
Slobodné Vinárstvo, 2019
A few hours lost on YouTube confirms that the name refers to a couple of rock-climbing manoeuvres invented in 1985 for a complex ascent in the south of France, which seems totally opposed to the ease with which this Slovakian rosé can be drunk. Made from a blend of Frankova Modrá (aka Blaufränkisch), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alibernet, there’s a very pleasing roundness to the wine, with a taste of rose and strawberry that keeps from being overly sweet. Fermented in amphoras and aged in egg tanks, the wine comes from a great producer located in the west of the country, another of the family estates that are popping back up in the past decade or so after the end of the communist era. They’re still having to contend with pretty tough regulations on the production of natural wine, but despite everything, they’re releasing some really stellar wines.
Andi Weigand, 2019
To quote the venerated Jancis Robinson, Müller-Thurgau is largely responsible for causing ‘the reputation of German wine to plummet’ in the final decades of the 20th century, as it became the old reliable of post-war viniculture, a high-yielding grape that could be stretched as far as needed. In Andi’s hands though, it becomes a fresh, juicy, very palatable white, with a touch of minerality from the keuper soil of the region where it’s produced. The fruit used to produce the MTH also comes from some of the oldest Müller-Thurgau vines in the region, planted around 1960, and are first pressed before being left to ferment in old oak barrels. It’s only been two years since he’s started releasing his bottles, but Andi’s already one of the up-and-coming names in German natural wine, having taken over the family vineyard located between Nuremberg and Frankfurt, not far from his friends and neighbours 2Naturkinder.
Domaine des Moriers, 2018
It took us a moment, but four months in and we’re shipping our first Beaujolais, a Gamay from the home of modern natural wine, although it’s maybe not the typical taste and feel that we’ve come to associate with this kind of light red. The Beaujolais Villages has a bit of extra texture from the tannins, it’s a little heavier, but it still has the classic red-fruit taste of the grape. On the winemaking front we’re in good hands: François de Nicolay, who started Domaine des Moriers in 2005 with a wider group of friends, comes from a family that’s been making wine in the Côtes de Beaune area of Burgundy for the past 200 years. For this particular vintage, he’s aged half the wine in cement vats and the other half in barrels, and in the end it seems like a fitting wine for the cooler evenings that should definitely have arrived by this time next month.
Esencia Rural, 2019
Castilla-La Mancha, in central Spain, is the heat-drenched region where Cervantes’ knight-errant jousted with windmills and where Franco championed Spain’s brandy industry to support the country’s economy post–World War II. That briefly turned Airén into one of the world’s most widely grown grapes, based on its huge acreage, with sparse and sprawling plots. Now it’s also where Julián Ruiz makes his single-varietal from the drought-resistant grape, giving us this intense but very pleasant orange wine. The Pampaneo is super aromatic from the ripe fruit that’s gone into it, with strong flavours of caramelised banana, nectarine, and tropical fruits. The grapes have been grown on old, pre-phylloxera vines, then completely destemmed before undergoing two months’ maceration in stainless steel tanks and being aged in clay tinajas.
Vinyes Tortuga, 2019
We’re relaying here some drinking notes picked up when talking to Dido Voorma and Jurriaan Morsink, the young Dutch couple behind Vinyes Tortuga, who settled just north of Barcelona a couple of years back. They’ve been releasing their wines since 2018 and are still deep in the process of observation and experimentation, which we’re pleased to be a part of, especially when it comes to tasting the Hurdy Gurdy. As per Dido, this light-bodied sparkling red can also be drunk as something closer to a still wine, if you prefer. The blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot was bottled with some residual sugars that wouldn’t ferment any further and have given the wine its super fine fizz. Dido’s preference is to open the wine a few hours before drinking (try six) so the bubbles can integrate into the wine and the flavours open up further—some really great notes of red fruit and cherry. Frankly, both ways are great, especially when chilled.
A few issues back in Apartamento we featured the French winemakers Patrick Bouju and Justine Loiseau at home in Auvergne, and a year or two later we’re sending off these wines from Vivanterre, their brand-new collaboration with New York fashion designer Rosie Assoulin, her husband Max, the sommelier Cedric Nicaise, and luckily also Apartamento Studios, who designed the labels. Time is a funny thing, and we’re excited to finally share these bottles, a few of the 600 reserved for the whole of Europe, made from a blend of three different grapes: a Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer from Alsace and an Ugni Blanc from Languedoc, the first being directly pressed and then aged in amphoras and oak barrels. Whole clusters of the second were left for three weeks in stainless steel, foot trodden, and then aged in amphoras, while the third was macerated for a week and aged in fibreglass. Blending occurred just before bottling earlier this year, and with everything going on you definitely get the full flavour you’re hoping for—on the nose, intense tropical fruits, mirrored by orange and lychee in the mouth.