May 27, 2012

Why not choose a wine of quality?

Quality in wine, what is that? For me it would be a nose that gives a range of fragrances. A nose that evolves and give new scents as time goes. More nuances to explore. The taste should be well balanced; acidity, tannins, fruitiness and alcohol. And, very important, there should be a good length.

A wine of quality lasts longer in the glass. Consequently more is left in the bottle when the meal is over. And the second half of the bottle can be enjoyed the next day (after a night in the refrigerator). If the wine still is under development, it probably tastes even better day two thanks to the accelerated maturation when exposed to oxygen.


Quality, for example the lovely Moulin Touchais.
At tastings and wine classes, almost everyone seems to agree. There is a clear difference between a simple wine and a quality wine. And then I do not mean the most expensive wines, but quality wines affordable for the general public. The better wine would typically be double the price compared to the cheap one.

So I should be happy with that. My aim of spreading the message of quality seems to be achieved. The better wines are really appreciated and enjoyed.
But sadly I have now realised that so many revert to old habits. When they visit the store and choose the wines to have at home, their quality experience seems to have vanished.
”Yes, I know. You showed us so many great wines. But at home we’ve always bought these box-wines and it is so convenient.” Not an unusual reply to my question “Have you had any great wines lately/during the summer/during the holiday/etc?”
Of course, the choice to have a simple, soft, perhaps even a sweetish fruit bomb, with short length (where you quickly have to take another sip to know what it really tastes like – and of course drink too much) should be respected. It is not for me to judge what people like to buy. But it makes me feel so sad.
Quality is important to me. There are so many industrially manufactured wines of lower quality. Why buy them, when you instead can find so many dedicated wine makers out there? People who put their soul into the wine to give us an extraordinary quality experience. And you can often get that treat for just a very moderate price addition.
Can you understand? I can’t. Why drink non-quality wine, when there are so many great ones? Life is too short for simple wine.

May 19, 2012

Natural wine fair back home

Sunday May 20 is a great day for wine lovers who are in London. Two wine fairs focused on “natural wine” at the same time; RAW and The Real Wine fair. Unfortunately, I am not among the lucky ones.

So, what to do? No reason to be depressed for that. Make something positive about having to stay at home. I have an idea. Why not organise a little wine fair on my own? Select some of my favourite organic or biodynamic producers. Perhaps season with some new acquaintances.

Of course, Alsace must be represented. Domaine Marcel Deiss will be my Alsatian choice. From Burgundy Domaine de la Vougeraie.  And from Beaujolais my new darling Jean-Paul Brun.

The charming Johan Reyneke from Stellenbosch in South Africa would be the first pick from the New World. The Reyneke biodynamic wines are so beautiful. And the ones from New Zealand’s Millton Vineyards & Winery as well. They will be the next entry.
From Georgia I will invite Pheasant’s Tears for their wonderful qvevri-wines.

I have not yet met the wines from Foradori in Italy, so that will be the first of the new acquaintances. Elisabetta Foradori, who uses clay amphoras in her winemaking. The Eyrie Vineyards from Oregon, USA, will be the second. Would be interesting to taste their Pinot Noir together with the ones from Domaine de la Vougeraie.

That was the wines. But a good fair also needs some seminars. We are many who always want to learn something new.

I like Alice Feiring and Jamie Goode. They will however both be in London to speak. Of course, there is a solution to this little problem too. Their books are here. I can choose some good parts to be read aloud. That will be a good enough seminar substitute.

The first one: Grape ripeness and alcohol. A very interesting topic, which Goode and Sam Harrop knowledgeable discuss in “Authentic Wine; toward natural and sustainable winemaking”. Too ripe grapes imply a loss of authenticity and grape characteristic and terroir are lost.

The second one I choose from Feirings “The Battle for wine and love”. As I am big fan of the Syrah from northern Rhône, a piece from that chapter will be an entertaining finish on the seminar part.

Now I am looking forward to Sunday. Just have to call my wine loving friends to join me.

May 14, 2012

Seduced by Brun’s Beaujolais

Up till quite recently, Beaujolais was not on my shortlist for great wine experiences. Then Monsieur Brun passed by and I fell head over heels.

The first sniff was wild strawberries, next a little white pepper and some sweets. And then, when the fragrant flowery summer meadows opened in front of me, the Fleurie was really up to its name. Fruity, intense, nice tannins and structure. And it lasted for an eternity. So elegant, so lovely.  

Jean-Paul Brun, owner of Domaine des Terres Dorées, is the man behind this wonderful Fleurie 2010. If I had not known it was a Beaujolais, I would have guessed Pinot Noir from somewhere in the more northern part of Burgundy. Not Gamay.
I belong to those who have associated Beaujolais with banana. Was taught so many years ago; “Easy to identify a Beaujolais. The bananas, you can never miss it.” And consequently I have not been very fond of the wine. Even avoided it. The last few years, I have however noted that the bananas have not been as obvious as before. And now, in this wine, they had totally disappeared. Monsieur Brun had repented me. I add a new favourite to my wine list.
But what about those bananas? How can a wine have an odour like that? Maceration carbonique used to be an answer. Now there seems to be another explanation.

Recently I enjoyed reading Alice Feiring’s personal and very entertaining book*. There I became enlightened. The smell was the result of 71B! This cryptic code is the name of a yeast strain that came into use in Beaujolais during the 1980s. So instead of using the indigenous yeast, the aromatic 71B was added and the banana flavour created. 

Domaine des Terres Dorées use nothing but the indigenous yest. The vinification of the reds are in Burgundy-style with destemming and four to six weeks fermentation with punch down. The Fleurie gets eight months maturation in concrete vats. Then it is bottled, after just lightly filtered, with a minimum of sulphur.

The Domaine is located in the small village of Charnay in the south of Beaujolais. In addition to its Charnay vineyards, 15 ha are found scattered in Côte de Brouilly, Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin à Vent. Thus there is more from Monsieur Brun to explore.




*) Alice Feiring,” The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization” (2009)

May 03, 2012

The fascination of wine


What is it that makes wine so fascinating? All this great interest, commitment and enthusiasm? Wine is just another beverage. Isn’t it?
Jamie Goode mentioned the phenomena on his wine blog some days ago; “The siren call of wine”. He concluded that wine has a magnetic appeal, which affects people deeply. Sometimes wine even makes people change their lives.
I have also seen the phenomena and wondered what it is that makes wine so exciting. Once you are into wine, you cannot get loose of its spell. Well, I have a theory.
The world of wine has some unique features that tickle the first interest and then contribute to keep us spellbound. Wine is like a magic potion brewed of three ingredients.
First. Wine talks to all your senses. It is a rewarding feeling for your nose and palate to taste a wine. To see the beautiful colour, to find the aromas, to feel the texture. It is a sensory experience, which gives so much pleasure.
Second. Wine stimulates your intellect. There is so much to learn about it. History, biology, geology, chemistry, geography, etc. And not to forget, there is so much to find out about specific wines and the people dedicated to making the wine. You want to get to know these people, by meeting them or reading about them, learn their stories and their philosophy. And as the world of wine is constantly changing, there is always more to learn.
Last, but not least important. Wine is a social experience. Wine is something you share with your friends. And wine gives you new friends and memorable moments together with other wine lovers.
No wonder that the community of wine lovers are growing. Wine is magic!