I couldn’t agree more. So I went on a mission. Here’s who I brought with me.
Principiano’s Nebbiolo wines are always in the elegant corner of the spectrum. And in his Langhe Nebbiolo 2018 this is exemplified with conviction. This young charmer is a force of nature with its vigor and strong positives vibes. Fresh cherries, wild strawberries, a touch of autumn and a yummy licorice finish. Juicy and drinkable. Classy and handsome.
Morten and I both read that 2016 is a fantastic Barolo vintage. But none of us had tried any of them. Usually the really great vintages require a lot of patience so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Principiano’s 2016 is indeed ready to drink right now. Bright, fragrant and feminin. But – as is always the case with Barolo – with an opinion of her own. A stunning beauty with a big broad smile on her face 🙂
Quality is about meeting (or exceeding) expectations. The specifications are set and clear. Meet the specs and you’ve delivered quality.
The majority of wine produced is certainly made from set specifications. But the wine I drink (and I assume that the same goes for you) are less of a commodity to be of such predictive character.
The outcome of a truly remarkable wine is formed along the way. Because it’s not made in a factory. It’s made my a human being who knows the craft. Or the art, if you will. Like there’s a difference between a painter and an artist.
And then there are the exceptions, or gray zones:
Alsace is the essence of ‘terroir’. Riesling is probably the region’s most renowned variety to express it sense of place. And the winegrowers are packed together in a very small space. Experience have accumulated for ages and so have our expectations. A strong mental spec has formed.
My mental spec consists of words like dry, crisp, tropical, mineral, complex, uplifting and joyful.
Of course, talking about production quality we can’t avoid also taking into consideration the ever-present elephant in the room: Price
. . .
Domaine Achillée is all about quality.
And since the first time I tasted their ‘basic’ Riesling from 2018 I’ve been impressed by the precision and drinkability of this wine. I am just enjoying this wine so much.
So in the end it all depends on the price. Which by my standards is definitely acceptable.
First, what we have decided to call ‘orange wine’ is just a white wine vinified with skin contact. A white wine with 24 hours of skin contact is usually not very different from at wine without skincontact. A white wine with 9 months of skin contact is very different from one without. So when to call it a white and when to call it orange? It’s up to you. Sort of the same with rosé and red (a little skin contact / much skin contact).
Second, most of the grape’s aroma compounds sit in the skin. So a long extraction period releases a lot of aroma. Using aromatic grape varieties like Moscato, Malvasia or Gewürztraminer will initially increase the aroma of the wine. But the thing is, the aromatic imprint of the skin contact has a limit, and oftentimes it even seems to reverse. The fruity aromas become less dominant after a certain lenght of contact between must and skins.
Third, the grape skins contain phenolic compounds, most notably ‘tannins’. Tannins add this mouth-drying feeling to the wine. So the longer the skincontact, the dryer the mouth.
Fourth, orange wines seems to show less acidity as they spend time with the skins. They may be more complex, but a wine without freshness is not a lot of fun.
It’s a balancing act.
‘Sine Felle Ambrato’ is a nice way explore this balancing act. To dance a little dance with aroma, tannin and acidity. To see if you click like she and I do.
– With around four month of skin contact the color is a clear amber orange (‘ambrato’ means ‘amber’).
– The wine is made of both aromatic and more neutral varieties.
– It is definitely an aromatic wine but it’s not shouting at the top of its lungs. It is more subtle.
– There is a good tannic bite, but not too overwhelming.
To me this is an orange wine in a beautiful balance. It is made without anything added or taken away, and having known Podere Casaccia for several years I can attest to the fact that ‘Ambrato’ is clearly reflecting the place it comes from.
Or ‘Garnatxa Peluda’ as they call it in Catalunya.
Here’s an excerpt from wikipedia:
“… is a Grenache variant evolved to grow fuzz on the underside of its leaves to protect the vine from transpiration in hot climates, like the corresponding fuzz on rosemary or other mediterranean plants. Compared to its more widely planted cousin, it produces wines lower in alcohol and higher in acidity that show spicy and savory notes more readily as they age.”
Anyways… today’s wine is also made from Garnatxa Negra (the regular one) and Carignan.
‘Sang de Corb’ is pure balance. Sweet dark fruit with an anis twist on the nose. Harmonious and fruity-friendly in the mouth. A touch of iron fits the name perfectly (Sang de Corb means ‘Raven’s blood’), and beneath the surface lies something I still can’t put my finger on but desperately need to explore.
This may be the first time you hear of Celler Frisach.
But it will not be the last if you stick around here!
Daniele left his native Piedmont to study and make wine in Tuscany.
He wanted to work with Sangiovese and, in effect, had to turn his back to the local king of grape varieties, Nebbiolo. That requires great conviction I think.
In Tuscany he found a mentor in Giulio Gambelli with whom he worked for several years. In 2000, after several years of searching while making big, prominent Sangiovese wines as a consultant, he finally found the right spot to begin his own adventures.
Daniele’s “Campinuovi” is located in Montecucco, 20 km south of Montalcino.
His Montecucco Sangiovese is a great display of pure, traditional winemaking and respect for the Sangiovese’s inherent potential.
Cherries and blackcurrant stand out as the primary fruit with an underlying leafy and tomato-like aroma blending in. And then there’s the trademark balsamic taste clearly present throughout the show. The texture is fine-grained and juicy and there’s a cool touch of iron on the finish line. Though you will not be surprised to learn that this wine spent a year in giant used barrels there are no signs of excessive oak flavors in this one. And thank god for that!
Just wait ’til you pour Bábel into your glass (and please do that when the sun shines).
The luminescent, raspberry red color of this Hungarian charmer certainly whets my appetite every single time I see it. And the best part… the beautiful appearance on the eyes matches that of the nose and mouth with impressive precision.
Bábel is a raspberry tornado.
Its modest (12%) alcohol content is almost unnoticeable.
Muscat of Alexandria is a variety that seems to contain an endless stream of generosity. I spent many days and nights in its company on the island of Pantelleria where it goes under the name of Zibibbo.
On a Greek island (similarly vulcanic, roughly six times the size and 1200 km east of Pantelleria) Muscat of Alexandria is also the main ingredient in their wines.
The island of Lemnos.
A native to Lemnos, Manolis Garalis has made wine from Muscat of Alexandria since 2006. Or put in a another way, Manolis has helped his Muscat grapes do what they do best…
Because that’s the feeling you get from the very first interaction with this wine. How on earth can a grape absorb those amounts of sweet summer scents? It is packed… with a colorful range of tropic fruits like tangerine, mango, pineapple, lemon and orange peel.
Its flowery aromas and stony backdrop heightens the experience to a level far above the islands hotel cocktails that may contain the same fruity ingredients but lack the genius of the interpreter (Muscat) and her assistant (Manolis).
In the mouth it crackles and dances and releases the aromas to put the whole olfactory system at work!