Tim Wildman MW
Last Wednesday night the team at Dunell's opened the doors of their newly refurbished store to a group of forty plus wine lovers for a tasting that had been billed as ‘Vin de Terroir - Every Wine has a Story”.
The rest of the wines for the evening tasting had been arranged around the new counter tops in the centre of the store and our guests were free to taste the wines in any order they preferred, making it a very informal event, which had quite a party feel to it. Every fifteen minutes or so I interrupted the good natured chatter to share some stories or anecdotes about the wines in question. The wines that we tasted are as follows:
Albarino “O Rosal” 2009, Bodegas Terras Gauda, Galicia, Spain
Albarino is an indigenous grape from Galicia, “Green Spain” as they call it. The locals drink it with the national dish of pulpo (octopus) plus the multitude of seafood that makes up the local diet; lobster, razor clams, crab etc. It makes a brilliant match for seafood, being unoaked, crisp, gently flavoured with apricot and peach, and is a great alternative to sauvignon blanc or dry riesling. This particular Albarino has achieved something of a cult status in Spain, thanks to the added ingredient of a grape called Caino Branco. This was an ancient grape in the region that became almost extinct, before Bodegas Terras Gauda re-introduced it to their vineyards. It lends the Albarino extra weight, texture and a further dimension of flavour, and proved to be a big hit on the tasting night.
“Petramarina” Etna Cru, Benati 2008, Mount Etna, Sicily
From 80 year old Carricante vines grown 600m up on the side of Mount Etna, this is a unique and very special wine. The sandy volcanic soil lends a powerful minerality to the wine, giving it an almost Chabliesque brine-and-oyster-shell flavour. The plate is subtle, no new oak here, and almost light bodied, but with a deceptive intensity and length. This really surprised people, who said they had never tasted anything quite like it. The local dishes on Sicily comprise seafood (mussels, clams) with pasta, tomato sauces and lots of capers. This wine would be a great match to similar dishes.
Soave Superiore 2009 “Le Bine de Costiolo”, Tamellini, Veneto, Italy
Soave is a fascinating wine, being unique in that it can be made from two completely different grape varieties, yet still carry the name Soave. The oceans of cheap Soave that washed over our shores in the 70s were made from a grape called Trebbiano, which is a pretty unexciting variety, producing thin wines with little character. There is a band of small producers making Soave the traditional way, using a grape called Garganega, which is a whole lot more interesting, and this is what we had on show for the tasting. The Tamellini “Le Bine” is a single vineyard wine coming from vines that are 40 to 50 years old. It has complex flavours that weave in-between fruit (green plum), spice (clove) and nuts (almond).
Saumur Blanc “Insolite” 2009, Domaine de Roches Neuves, Loire Valley, France
From one of the leading biodynamic producers in France, this powerful Chenin Blanc divided opinion on the night. Some loved its weighty apple and pear fruit and honeyed texture, while others were put off by its thundering authority of acid, that rises up on the finish and rattles the teeth in your head. Not the easiest wine to taste without food, but match this with a roast goose or slab of pork belly, giving some fat for that acidity to carve through, and it would be a different story altogether.
Frappato 2009, COS, Sicily
One of the most popular wines of the night - I know because of number of bottles we had to open. This is made by another biodynamic producer this time on South Eastern Sicily. COS ferment and age their wines in terra-cotta amphora, which they believe gives then the purest transmission of terroir and fruit purity. This is made from the local Frappato grape. Frappato is a bit like Gamay on acid - all juicy fruit, light bodied,with fresh acidity and spice - think Beaujolais, but with a bit more character. Great wines do not have to be powerful and complex, and I believe that as wine becomes part and parcel of our lives, people will seek out more of these “vin de soif” (quaffing wines).
“Segna de Cor” 2009, Domaine Roc des Anges, Cotes de Roussillon, France
One of Neil's favourite wines of the moment, this is a rich and warming blend of Grenache (which gives the fruit and juiciness) and old vine Carignan (which provides structure and an earthy complexity). The winemaker is a young lady called Marjorie Galet, who by raising money from her friends and family managed to buy twenty parcels of old vines that were derelict and abandoned. Marjorie’s wines are hand-crafted, using natural yeasts and with the minimum of intervention, allowing them to transmit the flavours of the wild Mediterranean landscape they grow in, of herbs, stone and sun.
Saperavi 2007, Orevela, Georgia
Georgia (in the former Russian Caucuses) is recognized as being the ‘cradle of wine”, grape growing artifacts have been discovered dating back seven thousand years. Saperavi is the local red grape variety, and ‘Orevela” is recognized as being Georgia’s greatest red wine. Medium bodied, with layers of black fruit and spice, there is an underlying minerality and seductive aromas of violets and plum. Something completely different, and a welcome discovery for palates jaded with the usual suspect grape varieties.
Teroldego “Grenato” 2006, Foradori, Trentino, Italy