Brett happens

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Wild thing?

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A couple of weeks ago, the Pork Futures guys and I got together for an evening of baby sitting and burger grilling. Among the wines popped and poured was a bottle N had brought back from a recent trip to Greece. It left us scratching our heads. You’ll find our comments below.

Santorini 2012, Assyrtiko by Gaia – Wild Ferment, Gaia Wines (€13.00 in Athens)
100% Assyrtiko from an upland vineyard reputed to produce grapes more aromatic than those from other parts of the island. After pressing, the must is macerated on the skins for 12 hours at 10°C. About half is then transferred to stainless steel tanks and half to new 225-litre barrels (40% French oak, 40% American oak, 10% acacia). Fermentation with ambient yeasts is spontaneous; the tank batch ferments at 16 to 18°C, the barrel batches at 26 to 28°C. After fermentation is complete, selected tanks and barrels are blended and bottled. 13% ABV.

N: “Disjointed at first (website says to decant it for 1/2 hour). Makes no sense why one would oak Assyrtiko. Slightly narrow and linear (also a bit surprising for a wild yeast ferment – maybe the oak tramps it down). Much more agreeable with the potato salad and even the burger.” (Speaking of that potato salad, which truly did make a fine pairing, you’ll find the recipe after the jump.)

A: “Bizarre. Smelled funny. Not banana or butter but something vaguely off-putting. There’s a sourness to the nose, a bit like the drain of my sink. And the oak came off as cheesy. In the mouth, the wine had a unique texture – viscous. Quite nice with food though.”

Me: Ashy nose. Extract-rich but balanced. Honeyed but dry. Unexpected cantaloupe at the back of the palate. Minerals mainly take the form of salinity on the finish. Subdued acidity for a Santorini Assyrtiko. The oak isn’t heavy but seems beside the point. Less crystalline, rounder, smoother, softer-focused and, paradoxically, tamer than my go-to Santorinis like the Hatzidakis. On its own terms, not bad. But not what I’m looking for in an Assyrtiko.

Gaia is represented in Quebec by Le Marchand de Vin. At the Printemps grec tasting in May, one of the agency’s sales reps was pouring the 2013 vintage of the wine, which he implied may be showing up at the SAQ for around $24. My sketchy note reads: “Nose: Mineral, a bit farty, lemon, white grapefruit. Mouth: Clean and snappy. Fruit and white flowers on finish. Only a bit of an acid bite. The wood is discreet. ‘Sweet’ up front but very dry on the finish. Buy again? Maybe.”

Midsummer Potato Salad

Scrub but don’t peel 750 g (1 1/2 pounds) fingerling or new potatoes and boil until tender in lightly salted water. Drain. Slice into thick rounds while still warm. Place the rounds in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss immediately with the juice of 1 lemon. Add 1 1/2 cups (165 g or 6 oz) cooked shelled peas, 3 green onions sliced into rounds and the chopped tender parts of 3 garlic scapes. Toss with enough crème fraîche to coat everything but not to weigh it down, about 125 ml (1/2 cup). Add fresh dill fronds, chopped or not, to taste. Toss again. Adjust the seasoning. Chill until serving.

4 servings


Written by carswell

July 17, 2014 at 12:45

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