Wine by the word

Is there really a unique language to talk about wine?

Not the obscure vernacular of the tasting note. Nor the language of the winemakers themselves as they think through every detail and nuance in the alchemy of turning grapes into wine.

Simply for wine lovers to talk to each other. To share wines we like. To get referrals from our wine shop on what to pair with dinner. Or to talk to the sommelier at our favorite restaurant so we end up with something we enjoy in our glasses.

Easy question. Not so simple an answer.

Wine is ever so wacky and wonderful to talk about. But perplexing when it comes to the language of appreciation.

The act of drinking and sharing connects people, culture and places with immediacy and depth. It cuts through differences amongst strangers and builds bonds of interest and easy familiarity.

Yet it’s remarkably hard to describe or talk about in non-technical terms. We more often talk around it. Maybe that’s where the magic lies.

And maybe that’s why the obscure language of the wine critic developed and the horrid simplicity of the numerical scale that stemmed from one man’s palate that came to rule the world with Parker.

In a blog post, you can tell a story. Connect the wine in the glass to the place the grapes were grown and the history of the person who made the wine. Details become syntax in weaving a tale of weather and grape varietal, geography and the mysteries of the cave. In a tasting you can do this as well. This is ideal in every way.

But in the quick phraseology of the web, the natural need to share what we like as icons and emblems, I often find myself stitching together phrases of pure excitement and hyperbole. ‘Can you say…unbelievable?’ or ‘Gamay rules!’ or ‘Eric Texier delivers again!’ attached to a tweeted picture of a wine bottle.

And most people, wine and food lovers, just want to say that they liked it and attach a memory to taste in a word. This is remarkably difficult. Or maybe just so simple we are over intellectualizing it.

Think of all the thousands of glasses of wines that are sipped in tastings every night in New York. Smart, interested people spending real dollars, seriously tasting and having a great time doing it. And many of them in the days that follow will go into their wine shop to buy a bottle for dinner or a party. When asked what they like, they usually just don’t remember. Maybe it’s the arcane nature of the names of the wine or the lack of words to attach the taste to, but many start from scratch every time anew.

Enter the experiment that made me write this post.

A friend needed a list of 20 words for a project where people would rate and share their personal ratings about wine. I was somewhat clueless past the seemingly trivial ones I usually used when blown away by a great glass when out with non-wine geeky friends.

I turned to my community of wine friends for help. They are bloggers, wine tour operators, sommeliers, and restaurateurs. Wine obsessed all. All communicators who professionally or personally share, taste and talk about wine daily.

I phrased my question something like this:

What are your top five words that you use to describe a wine to an interested, articulate and wine loving individual to get them to sense the character of what they are drinking? To give them a handle to hang onto when they might want to share their pleasure in the bottle with someone else? To strike a note that might get them more interested in finding out more about the story behind the bottle?

I unleashed hurricane of response. Some 60+ comments over my Facebook and Twitter communities. With emails on the side.

The choices below are the short list that had the most commonality across those that responded.

Everybody cares: Food friendly. Aromatic. Affordable

Feels like: Fresh. Crisp. Elegant. Full-bodied. Effervescent. Lively.

Tastes like: Floral. Mineral. Earthy. Dry. Sweet. Fruity. Acidic. Tannic.

Love it:  Yummy. Unfuckinbelievable. Quaffable. Drinkable. Refreshing.Delicious. Luscious. Big and rich. Silky.

Hate it: Yuck. Dreck. Bleah. Boring.

Moody: Ambitious. Aloof. Recalcitrant.

What’s interesting is that these words on their own are really quite unremarkable. Facile even. They are adjectives of appreciation and general snippets of categories around taste and some basic terms that are true across all wines.

What would you add?

Not to show off your knowledge but to encourage communications. This is an exercise in restraint. And it’s hard.

I think there are other creative endeavors like movies and music that have the same interesting contradiction of complex emotions and simplistic expression. In movies you have plot and dialogue, cinematography and sound to wines’ balance and character, fruit forwardness and the complexity of the finish. Beyond a handful of easily accessible ideas, it’s all about degree and personal expression.

Here’s the rub. And why this exercise is so difficult, the process so interesting and the result so unsatisfying out of context.

Wine is romantic and poetic at its core. Not only because the process of where, how and by whom is a saga when told with skill and passion. But the subject is not the wine, it is your impression of it. It is what you think and this is connected to who you are and the situation you experienced the wine in.

The wine may be the backdrop for romance or the linchpin of the evening to build a dinner around.

Whether you are drinking something incredible in a plastic cup on a picnic with your partner on a bike trip. Or swirling an aromatic translucent Trousseau from Arbois in the Jura in a crystal goblet at a remarkable wine bar in the 6th in Paris with the best of friends. It’s yours. It’s not just the wine. It’s you experiencing it there and then.

We romanticize our lives. We romanticize the accoutrements that make them all the more glorious. We should. This is the good stuff that life is made of. This is what we share with friends on Facebook, Twitter and our blogs and chatting in the elevator with people in the building.

I was really impressed that my wine friends who know the science of wine at its most minute detail came back with adjectives of expression that can be used by everyone. This group is an inspiration for me and can go deep into soils, indigenous yeasts, climate, root stocks and stories of fabled wine families.

The skill is not in giving that detail. It is in creating the scene so that information is indeed interesting as well. The layers that add depth and texture to the story of the bottle and the saga behind the glass.

I’m starting to appreciate this list of expressive adjectives more. A useful lexicon for amateur and pro alike. Enough choices with the perfect combination a function of what you want to express and to whom.

In late Spring last year I snapped a picture with my iPhone of a bottle of Jura red that I was drinking on the rooftop of my building with some friends. It was a marvelous Le Ginglet from Philippe Bornard. I pushed it out into my Tumblr blog and let it roll out to my Twitter and Facebook streams.

The caption said:

The wine of summer. Slightly chilled. Perfect for hot summer night.

The responses came back strong from wine friends all over the globe with Likes, smiley faces, texts and emails wanting to know where to buy it.

Simple words that grabbed the moment. Captured that truly iconic wine. Shared connections.

There was just nothing more to say.

————

I want to thank all my wine friends, especially those from EWBC for their input and inspiration and friendship.

A year of drinking wine naturally

Natural wine is a simple yet powerful idea.

It’s the belief that an organic and non-interventionist approach to winemaking can create wine that expresses terroir in a truer fashion, is more interesting to the palate, more complimentary with food and, of course, healthier for the individual and the environment.

2011 was about figuring out whether this really rung true to me.

Whether this is a niche of consequence as well as interest. Whether when orchestrated in the hands of a master winemaker, it creates a product of quality as well as uniqueness. And whether we are entering an era where the economics of the artisanal winemaker combined with the reach of the web is a possible disruptor and game changer for the wine world.

Natural wine has been a passion of mine for a while now and this blog is an homage to the winemakers I respect the most.

Friends and neighbors are hard pressed to escape the tastings and stream of stories about the flavors and bouquets of Trousseaus and Poulsards from the magical vineyards of the Jura. The rich and layered Mencias and Garnachas produced from the ancient terraces hanging over the River Sil in Ribiera Sacra. The Frappatos and Nero D’Avolas grown in volcanic ash on the smoky slopes of Mt Etna in Sicily.

These deep natural pockets of organic and biodynamic winemaking, in 2011, became part of a much longer list of true natural winemaking legends in Friuli, Beaujolais, Manchuela, the Canary Islands, Champagne, the Loire Valley…everywhere they make wine.

There is always a short list of the best of the best, but this approach to winemaking has not only been happening quietly for generations in every winemaking region but is part of a global renaissance of a non-interventionist approach to making natural wine.

There are many like Jean Bourdy in the Jura who have been making wine on their family farms for scores of generations. And many more in areas like Ribeira Sacra, who are returning to ancestral terraces, cut by the Romans 2000 years ago, tended for generations then abandoned till just now.

But most important to me this year was getting to know a few of these winemakers as real people. My visits with Friulian iconoclast Fulvio Bressan especially in Trieste and Sandi Skerk in Carso were wildly exhilarating and provoking.

Attending tastings with natural wine rock stars like Philippe Bornard, Jean Bourdy Luis Rodriguez and Eric Texier was to understand the passion and humility of these individuals. They eschewed labels to a person yet spoke their own individual language that in concept, was common across all of them. These are individuals driven by intense emotions and their success is attributable to drive, self-belief and extraordinary skill.

The validity of natural winemaking doesn’t lie with its definition.

Artisanal, organic, biodynamic, sustainable and natural all bump into each other as parts of a new way of looking at an ancient tradition of winemaking. To some it’s tradition carried forth. To some a revolution of change. None of this speaks to quality but it does speak to a promise and an approach.

I wasted too much time this year arguing with wine journalists jockeying for definition and defensive of their own roles as taste makers in the hard-wired reality of the wine world today.

Labels on bottles are important certainly. Certification as assurance of credibility is critical. But these labels and certifications don’t create the reality, they codify it.

Our local shops and specialty importers are doing this job now, and well. Over time, this will move online and the category of natural or artisanal will be a first door on a search or referral funnel to finding what you like under this general contextual umbrella.

The response from the industry to the categories of natural and biodynamic is a bit too shrill to ignore. The percent of grapes grown organically or biodynamically is really small. The same with the overall revenue numbers of what is sold under this broad definition.

So…what’s going on?

Can a farmer like Christian Ducroux making wondrous no sulfer-added, 100% natural Beaujolais on his tiny 4-hectare vineyard on the hillside above the village of Regni-Durette in France really threaten the wine world?

Stangely, I think so.

Although Ducroux makes delicious wine of the highest quality, he does so in the most petite of vineyards, off the economic grid mostly with a lifestyle intent.

While there are huge variations in the definition of what constitutes natural—chaptalization, natural yeasts, filtration, sulfur not to mention vineyard practices–really wonderful wine that truly is an expression of terroir can be the result. When it’s in a goblet swirling rhythmically, it’s superfood for the soul, enthralling with bouquet, smile inducing and head nodding satisfaction when it all comes together.

This is where this gets interesting.

The most low tech (no tech actually), natural approach to making  wondrous wine is being made possible as business reality and a consumer connection by a platform of technical sophistication never before available.

The culture of the consumer has shifted on a global basis. It is not the exception to be eco-aware, health conscious, artisan supportive and curiously adventurous in seeking out new places, foods, cultures, people…and wine.

The social web has established the reality of the global local and the power of the niche to stand alone or as part of a marketplace. It has empowered the consumer, democratized information and distribution for industry after industry. It was made real the possibilities of marketplaces and given voice and commercial weight to the niche, the authentic and the unique.

I’ve blogged often about the wave of change that is sweeping our culture on how we find, purchase and consume our passions. Natural wine, defined as you will, artisanal at its very core, is part of this.

As I write this I’m sipping a truly wonderful glass of organic Malvasia from the Skerk Vineyard in Carso, Friuli, Italy. So rich and refreshing. Mineral. Vivacious. From Sandi’s cellar to my goblet. From my blog to your intent to taste I hope.

And I’m thinking of the old adage that says that the future is already here. It’s just a secret that only a few have discovered it.

To me, it’s already here and I’m living it.

Call it natural. Call it artisanal. Call it organic.

The market will decide but the connection between me in NYC and Sandi Skerk in Carso is quite real and tangible. I may have been attracted to Skerk because of his indigenous varietals, his natural approach and the magnificence of his cellar. But at the end of this string of filters, of categories, is the taste that binds.

This is a new culture of consumers demanding that the systems of discovery and distribution fit themselves to their wants. The wines are scattered in interesting pocket across the globe. The market, certainly in the states, is here.

The value chain between winemaker and consumer for natural wines is already present, like breadcrumbs scattered about. There is only that handshake between personal discovery and seamless commerce that is still wanting. And in my view, not for long.

 

A visit with Fulvio Bressan, 9th generation Friulian winemaker

 

It’s a passion of mine to blog on the importance of a natural approach to winemaking. The wonders of natural taste and the purity of letting the land and the vine find expression in a great wine are endlessly worthy of attention.

But it’s truly inspiring and humbling to spend time with a winemaker who lives this belief with uncompromised abandon, with unbridled exuberance, with brutal honesty and with a growing legacy of wondrous wines that speak to his approach.

Fulvio Bressan, 9th generation Italian winemaker in Friuli, Italy is such an individual.

Fulvio’s winery is in the Friuili-Venezia Giulia appellation in northeastern Italy on the border of Slovenia. Way out-of-the-way and in a unique corner of the world defined by the sloping vineyards of the Isonzo River Valley, with the Alps to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south.

Fulvio, along with his father Nereo, his beautiful wife Jelena and their families live on the same plot of land that his family has occupied since the early 1500s and made wine on since 1726.

To the Bressans, terroir is not an abstraction.

It’s life’s connection to the land. And a responsibility to let the place and the vine express themselves naturally. This is their passion and their mission as winemakers.

My first encounter with Bressan was a remarkable bottle of ‘04 Venezia Giulia IGT Schioppettino a few years ago. The bottle blew me away and opened my eyes to Friuli, to the bold taste of the Schioppettino grape and to this outspoken iconoclast of natural winemaking.

Thanks to the EWBC 2011 blogger’s conference and Pierpaolo Penco, I was able to spend some time with Fulvio at a number of tastings and at his vineyards in Friuli last week

What an experience!

Fulvio is a personality supercharged by his passion for ‘real’ wine.  His exuberance and focus are unstoppable. His excitement is palpable and infectious. He is wildly likeable and believable.

He disdains all labels, certifications, philosophies of organic and Biodynamic. He would dislike the term ‘natural’ as well.

Fulvio and Nereo just make great wine in a natural way. Nothing is added. No pesticides or herbicides. No irrigation to ‘dilute the aromatic wealth’ of the wine. No yeasts or sulfur or any additive in the winery. No filtration. Nothing at all.

Most but not all of the work  is done by hand. (See the discussion with the winemaker in the comments.) Everything is dictated by the fruit itself and its process of self discovering its own taste.

Some call him wacky and extreme. Many are threatened by his unapologetic point of view, his mastery of the craft and his remarkable wine.

To me, Fulvio is living proof that idealism in winemaking has a champion and that while difficult, great non-interventionist winemaking is indeed possible. He is the uncompromising artisan living the belief that wine is made of the intersection of the vine, the land and the winemaker.

Fulvio, on two plots of land (5 acres in Collio; 44 acres in Isonzo) has stepped beyond market forces and economic driven decisions.

He produces from 0 to 40,000 bottles a year. That is zero when the grapes aren’t right. When you strip out all external controls, nature is the determinant, plot-by-plot, vine-by-vine.

This is a living idea of what wine was and can be, stripped of commercial intent, stripped of market tastes, stripped of everything except a passion for wine that is an expression of the place at a particular time.

Fulvio is wine passion incarnate. He is the spokesperson for his terroir. And he has the personality to make you feel it deep in your soul.

To him…most wine we drink…is simply not wine at all. Garbage really.

He is vehement and his utterances are untranslatable into polite (or even acceptable) English. And he is not the least bit shy in stating that there are only 15-20 real winemakers out of the some 250 wineries in Friuli. With great bravado, he explained that winemakers who inoculate their wines with industrial yeast are not winemakers at all. Adding yeast, he exclaimed! (and I paraphrase greatly), is as unnatural as asking your neighbor to sleep with your wife to sire your child!

I love this guy, really. His unbending vigilance and uncompromising dedication to his belief rubs many the wrong way. Not I. To me he inspires…and challenges my preconceptions.

Fulvio’s success–and his wines are at times as wonderful as they are pure–stems from a generational connection to his terroir, learning to make wines at the hands of his father Nereo and an education and apprenticeship with Yves Glorie, a professor in oenology in Bordeaux and oenologist at Chateau Margaux.

Bressan’s wines are honest and pure and really quite remarkable.

They are neither inexpensive nor that easy to find but he has fans worldwide (including me). The stringent nature of the hands off approach, his obsession with a natural process and his ceaseless education of what he believes wine should has created its own market for his product.

“Natural’ means many things to different wine makers. Some are practical and spray when the weather threatens the crop. Most add sulfur. Most make wine with a market in mind.

Fulvio just makes the wine that his land creates and when great, to the winemaker’s view, he sells it.

It’s been a week since my flight from Trieste to Milan to NYC. Two thoughts keep recurring:

Inspiration and passion and humility are the great connectors. They cross time and space and language and beliefs.

With Fulvio, this is his relationship to the wine and also to people and the marketplace. He is an educator but more importantly, a doer. And his actions and his wine speak more crisply and with even more power than his words.

Many of my traveling companions are not natural wine enthusiasts in any way. All of them however, to a person, came away inspired (and entertained) and thoughtful about the possibilities of what Fulvio was accomplishing. There is bombast and hyperbole aplenty, but it is sincerity with successful results that drive belief in his approach.

And Fulvio, by the brute force of his belief, has built a global market for his wine. People care, people understand, people love a taste that is genuine and with personality…and we support what we believe in and appreciate.

Truly understanding your terroir, mastery of winemaking skills and deep knowledge of viticulture are the keys to great natural winemaking.

To make wine without any unnatural intervention requires not less skill but much, much more. Understanding the land and the vines and an appreciation at a deep technical perspective how wine is made is essential. Fulvio is zealous and boisterous, yet also deeply knowledgeable and strategic. And above all very, very patient.

I’m blown away by this experience. By Bressan and his family. By this place. And by the remarkable wines.

Check out Bressan Winery. I urge you to try Fulvio’s wines. You may love them, maybe not. But they will feel pure and with personality and replete with a sense of place. This is a quest worth pursuing.

 

Great years for Bressan wines

According to Fulvio and Nereo, 1997, 2003, 2007 and 2011 were the historically great vintages for Bressan wines. 2002 and 2005 were very difficult and very little wine was made. 

 

The vineyard with Momo the dog and Fulvio

 

Exuberance and graciousness and honest enthusiasm is a Bressan trait

This is Nereo serving ‘snacks’ during my visit.

The Vaslin press in the background separates the skins after fermentation is complete.

 

For the barrel geeks


The small barriques are 225 liters of very old French oak, used mostly for Pinot Grigio.

Big wooden barrels are Slovinian oak (2000 liters). They are prepped with well water and sea salt to extract wood tannins before use.

The big green barrels are concrete lined with glass. Fulvio believes concrete is better than stainless, as steel disturbs the wine as it ages.

 

Note the glass stoppers

Cool widgets. They let the barrel stay full regardless of season and control oxidation.

There’s a second glass plate inside the stopper, which seals the vat. Simple science.

 

Barrel tasting. 1997 Pignol


Fulvio has six very old “exhausted” French Oak barriques full of this wine, aged 13 years.

These barrels are liquid gold!  It is worth a trip to Friuli just to taste them.

I tasted his 2000 Pignol as well. Very impressive. Rich. Powerful but finished.

Pignolo (Friulian for Pignol) is a wine to watch. The ’00 will only get better with age.

Fulvio harvests his Pignol grapes very late and picks only 3-4 bunches of grapes per vine.

 

Barrel tasting. 2006 Pinot Grigio

Cold maceration on the skins for 3 days but no extended skin fermentation.

Very elegant, full bodied and floral. Quite lovely.

 

Heading out to Trieste Airport from Bressan Winery

Pierpaolo Penco, Fulvio Bressan and myself.

 

Shipment to my apartment in NYC. I wish!

 

I want to thank Fulvio and his family, including his really helpful wife, Jelena for their hospitality. And of course my friends Gabriella and Ryan Opaz and Robert Mcintosh at EWBC for making this trip possible. And Pierpaolo Penco again for being an incredible host and a passionate supporter of the Friuli region.

This was truly a great experience.

 

 

 

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Tissot ‘09 Arbois Trousseau Singulier

 

Stephane Tissot is my kind of winemaker.

In his own words, he’s “on a quest for aromatic diversity” through a natural approach to winemaking and a passion for the taste of terroir.

He follows his words with actions and produces 28 different cuvees, terroir by terroir, all naturally in the Jura wine region, on the eastern border of France in the foothills of the Alps.

But put aside his deep family connections to the region. His crazy winemaking creativity, especially the Cremant de Jura. And his uncanny ability as the Jura whisperer to bring out the taste in a variety of local varietals.

Think quaffable and honest and enjoyable wine when you think of Stephane Tissot.

His approach is biodynamic (Demeter certified); his use of sulfur judiciously minimal. But his wines, especially this bottle of Trousseau, are just wonderfully approachable, delicious, and in every instance I’ve poured them, a crowd favorite.

The ’09 Arbois Trousseau Singulier is a labor of love. The grapes are harvested in small baskets, hand selected and destemmed. Then fermented with natural yeasts in old oak foudres and aged 12 months then bottled without filtration. This wine is powered by people, not machines or technology.

With Tissot’s wines, you are not drinking an experiment in ancient methods. Nor an evangelistic natural point of view. Just great taste and a true sense of place as an ingredient of the wine.

This has been ‘the summer of chilled reds from the Jura’ and it’s ending as a huge success. I want to repledge my allegiance to Trousseau as the most refreshing, most satisfying warm weather wine. If I had to choose one grape for hot afternoons and lingering evenings, Trousseau would be it.

The ’09 Arbois Trousseau Singulier is a wine for summer and friends and rooftops and easy relaxation.

Translucent cherry in color, supple tannins, crisply alive in your mouth with a long, elegant finish. It satiates the senses and satisfies your intellectual curiosity about this obscure place called the Jura and their unique wines that taste perfect and familiar wherever you drink them.

This wine is technically just…yummy. It’s about enjoyment and that’s what wine is at its core.

Available from Chambers Street Wines for less than $30 a bottle. Go online and order a few bottles.  Serve slightly chilled (30-45 minutes in fridge). I’m very confident that this will become one of your favorites.

You might want to taste a selection of great Trousseau from the Jura. If you can’t find these vintages, do try the vineyard and winemaker.

Check out my post on his old vine Poulsard for more info on his family and vineyards.

Thanks again to my Jura maven Sophie Barrett for making me think about Arbois and Trousseau as I walk down Chambers Street in TriBeCa.

Julien Guillot’s naturally delicious reds from Macon Cruzille

There’s a wonderful bouquet, a natural crispness and an ineffable curiosity that connects your palate to the story behind the winemaker and the vineyard.

There’s a saga of an ancient vineyard that since first planting, 1100 years ago, completely side-stepped industrialized farming and modern winemaking techniques.

And there’s a tale of a family estate and the prodigal son who, late in his 20s, gave up his acting career and followed cultural gravity back to his roots to make wine with his father.

All three come together in these remarkable and delicious natural reds from Alain and Julien Guillot’s Clos des vignes du Maynes vineyard.

Sure…the natural wine geek in me is gaga over the winemaking approach, but the wine is so wonderful, so interesting and yes, so natural, that it shushes the pundits, quiets the critics and just pleases.

Alain and Julien’s vineyard, Clos des vignes du Maynes, is in Macon Cruzille, outside the village of Cruzille in the southern portion of Burgundy. A tiny, 16-acre enclosed estate originally planted by the Benedictines of the Abbey of Cluny around 900 AD, it was purchased by Julien’s grandfather in 1954. Julien is now the principal winemaker and manager of the estate.

Rumored to be France’s oldest organic vineyard, this land has never had any chemical treatment. Ever. No chemical sprays or fertilizers or pesticides. Most of the vines are ancient, some 50 to 100 years old, planted on high elevation slopes of crystallized limestone and thin clay. Ancient methods of agriculture have been used here consistently since ancient times.

Since the 10th century, replanting has been done with the classic selection massale method. No modern clone has ever been introduced. New vines are grown from in-vineyard cuttings. The entire estate was certified Biodynamic in 1998.

Clos des vignes du Maynes makes wine naturally from the vineyard to the cave. All harvesting is done by hand, fermentation in ancient oak vats and barrels. Nothing is added, enhanced or filtered out between fermentation and bottling.

This is nature’s way all the way.

Ahh…but the wine itself is the storyteller here. Not how it is made.

I tasted multiple bottles of Julian’s quite brilliant reds over the last month. The 2010 Clos des vignes du Maynes Cuvee Rouge 910 and the 2009 Macon Cruzille Manganite.

The Cuvee Rouge 910 is my kind of warm weather wine. Light and lively and lovely. It’s a true field blend of Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir where the grapes are grown, harvested and vinified together.  910 refers to the year of the  first harvest on the domaine. The methods were probably not dissimilar 1100 years ago. Hand harvested and bottled, pressed by foot, vinified and aged without sulfur.

This is a light and vivacious bottle of wine. Reminds me of the intense aromatics and long finishes that I find in the very best Trousseau from the Jura. Silky smooth and refreshing. It feels just right with the Chardonnay as an x factor. I’ve served this many times to friends and always met with an aha of pleasure and an empty glass smile for a refill. Available from Chambers Street Wines in TriBeCa  for $23.99

The Macon Cruzille Manganite, produced from 60 year-old Gamay vines has that unlikely combination of both rich fruit and of deep minerality. I’m an unabashed Gamay enthusiast and this bottle has real chutzpah.

Deeply rich flavors, intensely aromatic and an insanely long finish. Julien employs a nine-day true carbonic maceration followed by fermentation in old vats. But the tannins are still tight and you get the sense that this bottle will evolve continuously over time.  It is extremely low alcohol, 12.5%, for such a powerful red wine.

And like all of the reds from the vineyard, there are zero sulfites added.

Julien Guillot’s field blend was a bottle to drink and savor now and tomorrow. The Manganite is delicious but still in motion to my palate. There is pleasure in enjoying this bottle today; there is gravitas that will surface over time.

The 2009 Manganite is a bit pricey at $33.90 from Chambers Street Wines but well worth the plunge. I’m already looking forward to uncorking a few bottles from my cellar at Thanksgiving.

Check out the wines of Alain and Julian Guillot.

Don’t buy them because they are Biodynamic or natural but because they are delicious and a pleasure to drink. They are also as natural as wine can be.

 

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