Posts Tagged ‘Orange wine’
Located between Siena and Arezzo, the 60-hectare Fattoria di Caspri estate has nine hectares of grape vines and seven hectares of olive trees. The estate’s founding dates back nearly to the beginning of the Common Era, when Roman general Casperius Aelianus made it his home. The current main building is a relative youngster, having been built in the 18th century.
Farming has been organic and biodynamic since 2006, when the estate was acquired by its current owners. The soil tends to be light and sandy mixed with decomposed gneiss and a little clay. While the focus is on traditional grape varieties (mainly Sangiovese, Canaiolo Cillegiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia), the estate also has experimental plots of Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir.
The wine-making is identical for all the reds. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in small, non-temperature-controlled conical vats with indigenous yeasts. Total maceration time is three to four weeks. After pressing, the wine is transferred into old barrels for 18 to 20 months’ maturation. The wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. No sulphur is added.
IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Rosso di Caspri, Fattoria di Caspri ($31.21, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from young vines. 12.3% ABV. 650 cases made. Quebec agent: WINO.
Attractive nose of bitter cherry, fresh herbs, slate, turned earth and a little ash. “Kind of meaty” is the first (and accurate) comment about the flavour of this medium-bodied and very dry wine. Red fruit, tingly acidity and fine astringent tannins made for a somewhat austere if appealingly rustic mouthful. Finishes clean. (Buy again? Sure.)
IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Poggio Cuccule, Fattoria di Caspri ($41.15, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from 45-year-old vines. 125 cases made. 13.1% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Gorgeous, floral nose of cherry, fresh almond and old wood. Medium-bodied. A sip is like biting into a morello cherry. Fresh, fleet, intense and pure. The energy is palpable and the wine seems lit from within by glowing acidity. The tannins are fruit-cloaked. Minerals, wood and earth undertones add depth, not darkness. Finishes long and clean. Stunning Sangiovese. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)
IGT Toscana Rosso 2014, Casperius, Fattoria di Caspri ($67.31, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Sangiovese and Syrah. 12.7% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Closed nose that with coaxing reveals red fruit, dried herb, violet, leather and mint notes and a whiff of barnyard. In the mouth, it’s fuller-bodied, smoother, rounder and less acidic than its flightmates, though it does share some of the Rosso’s meatiness. Depth, breadth and length it has in spades though it would probably benefit from a year or two to come together. Perhaps a little overshadowed by the Poggio Cuccule, I suspect this would prove wholly satisfactory on its own at dinner. (Buy again? Maybe.)
IGT Toscana 2010, Luna Blu, Fattoria di Caspri ($28.50 in 2013, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
An orange wine made from a 50-50 blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia. Macerated on the skins for four weeks before pressing. Matured in small wood barrels. No filtering, fining or added sulphur. Under 100 cases made. 13.3% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV at the time, now WINO. The newest vintage is slated to arrive later this spring.
Bronze with a rosé cast. Sultry nose of “elderflower,” sawdust and hints of apricot skin and dried tangerine peel. Rich and smooth in the mouth, bright acidity notwithstanding. Fruity yet dry, the flavours tending to citrus and spice with a mineral undercurrent. Faint tannins add a little grit to the otherwise sleek texture. Long. As mentioned in my October 2013 tasting note, the winemaker has stated that the wine would be at its apogee in 2017. In the event, while it may not be the deepest, most structured or even most involving orange wine, it is definitely a pleasure to drink. Paired beautifully with a selection of cheeses from Yannick, especially a raw-milk L’Étivaz. (Buy again? Moot. But I’m looking forward to the new vintage.)
MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 6 of 6
Burgunland 2015, Gemischter Satz, Alexander Koppitsch ($40.98, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The estate is located in Neusiedl am See, a village and district on the north shore of Lake Neusidel, southeast of Vienna. As implied by the Gemischter Satz moniker (though I don’t believe the wine qualifies for the Weiner Gemischter Satz appellation), this is a field blend of co-planted white varieties, including Grüner Veltliner, Brauner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Zimttraube, Ochsenauge, Isabellatraube, Neuburger, Traminer, Muskat and Sauvignon Blanc. Planted in 1934, the vines are estate-owned and biodynamically farmed. Vinified as an orange wine, spending 14 days on the skins. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in old barriques. Unfiltered and unfined, with no added sulphur. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Slightly hazy bronzy rose-gold in the glass. Savoury, spicy and not particularly fruity nose with notes of preserved lemon and browning apple as well as a whiff of volatile acidity. In the mouth, it’s medium weight, fluently acidic, faintly tannic and somewhat inscrutable, like “mineral water” or “weak tea” along with lemon, a suggestion of stone fruit and minerals. Actually quite complex, if subtly so, and long. Smoothed out and unfurled nicely after three hours. Will be interesting to see what gives in three or four years. (Buy again? A bottle gladly.)
Burgunland 2015, Rot No. 7, Alexander Koppitsch ($23.19, private import, 6 bottles/case)
55% Zweigelt, 20% Blaufränkisch, 20% St. Laurent and 5% Syrah from estate-owned, biodyanmically farmed vines. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in large oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered. Unfined. A tiny amount of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Screwcapped. 12% ABV. Manually harvested and partially destemmed. Fermented, with indigenous yeasts and occasional punch-downs, in large (2000-litre) oak and acacia barrels for 20 days without temperature control sitting outside in the yard. Matured in the same large barrels for 1-2 years. Lightly filtered and sulphured at bottling. 2,000 bottles made. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Outgoing nose of “clove,” “nutmeg,” candied raspberry, “frankincense incense” and a bit of poop. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. The bright supple fruit has a certain sweetness, though the wine is definitely dry, and an umami quality prompt descriptors like “soy sauce.” Sinewy tannins and a dusting of minerals only add to the interest. The finish is long but more felt than tasted. Nothing profound but eminently drinkable and something of a bargain. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 5 of 9
IGT Venezia Giulia 2007, Ribolla Gialla, Radikon ($52.00/500 ml, 12493121)
100% organically farmed Ribolla Gialla. Manually harvested. The grapes were destemmed, then placed in neutral Slavonian oak vats (no temperature control) for maceration and fermentation with indigenous yeasts and manual punch-downs three or four times a day. When alcoholic fermentation was complete, the vats were topped up and closed. In all, the wine remained in contact with the skins for between three and four months. The grapes were gently pressed and the wine racked into neutral 25- to 35-hectolitre Slavonian oak barrels for about 40 months. Further racking was performed as needed. No added sulphur, no filtering, no fining. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13.75% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Carafed. Hazy bronze, looking a little like raw cider. Very funky-reduced for the first four hours, then redolent of cedar, dried apricot, straw, white spice, sawed pine and shoe polish. Similarly complex and disconcerting on the palate. Medium-bodied. Extracted and yellow-fruity yet so dry and savoury. Richly textured with subterranean limestone, fine-edged acidity and light tannins that swell on the long, long finish. Fascinating. Serve no cooler than cool room temperature (16-18°C). (Buy again? Yes.)
The wine’s balance and structure make it a candidate for aging. And age well these wines do: opened last winter, a bottle of the first Radikon wine available in Quebec, the 2002 Oslavje (a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc), was a thing of beauty – perfectly at peak, tannins resolved, sweet and savoury and, against all expectations, totally funkless.
The wine comes in 500 ml bottles because Stanko Radkion feels that 500 ml is the ideal amount of wine for one person to drink by himself or for two people to share, assuming they’ll also share a 500 ml bottle of red. Convinced that using a standard cork would allow too high a rate of oxygen exchange, he designed his bottles to have smaller bore necks that take very long, narrow corks.
MWG October 8th tasting: flight 7 of 7
Last up were COS’s two orange wines.
IGP Terre Siciliane 2012, Ramì, Azienda Agricola COS ($30.00, 12461525)
Inzolia (50%) and Grecanico (aka Garganega, 50%) from biodynamically and organically vines averaging ten years old. The grapes are manually harvested, destemmed, soft-crushed and macerated on the skins and pips for ten days. Temperature-controlled fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation take place in concrete tanks. The wine is filtered before bottling with a 2-micron filter. No sulphur is used during the wine-making but a small squirt of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Delicious nose of straw and beeswax with hints of dried apricot, sun-baked stone and spice. Smooth and full in the mouth. The muted fruit is perfumed by dried orange, blanched almond and faint powdered ginger overtones. Bright acidity and supple tannins add tension and firmness. Long, balanced and remarkably fresh. While this may not be a radical example of the category – Orange Wine 101? – on its own terms it is wholly satisfying. It may also be the most versatile cheese wine in existence. (Buy again? Definitely.)
IGP Terre Siciliane 2012, Pithos, Bianco, Azienda Agricola COS ($42.00, 12316352)
Grecianico from biodynamically and organically farmed vines averaging a bit less than 15 years old. Manually harvested. The whole-clusters are fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured seven months in 400-litre terracotta amphorae, which are buried up to their necks to impede oxidation. Further maturation takes place in the bottle. Unfiltered. Minimally sulphured. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 10.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
By both the winemaker’s and agent’s admission, high in volatile acidity, not that you can see it. Complex nose of straw, banana peel, white spice, almond, dried yellow fruit, crushed rocks. So suave in the mouth. Smooth textured, fluid and fresh. The fruit is understated – though you definitely taste the skins along with grapes – and lightly tinted by salted caramel. Faint tannins add structure and an intriguing astringency, particularly on the finish. Not a shouter but no less wonderful for it. (Buy again? Yes.)
Carafe these several hours in advance and don’t make the mistake of drinking them too cold; remember, they’re as akin to red wines as to whites. I usually find 14-16°C (around 60°F) about right.
MWG April 14th tasting: flight 6 of 6.
IGT Emilia 2011, Ageno, La Stoppa ($41.00, 12512046)
Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (60%) with Ortrugo and Trebbiano (for whatever reason, SAQ.com says 60% Malvaisa Nera and 40% Tebbiano) from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old. Macerated on the skins for 30 days. Fermented with native yeasts. Aged 12 months, 50% in stainless steel vats and 50% in used French oak barrels, followed by another two years in bottle. Unfined. Lightly filtered but no added sulphur. Reducing sugar content: 2.3 g/l. 13.5% ABV. About 10,000 bottles made. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Kaleidoscopic nose redolent of fresh and dried fruit (white, yellow and citrus), spice, flowers and lots more. Equally multifaceted in the mouth. Bone dry. Bright yet weighty, fluid yet chewy. The fruit tends to apricot and is shot through with straw and minerals. Surprisingly tannic especially on the long, bitter-edged finish. Involving and fascinating, though about as far from your basic vin plaisir as a white wine gets. Will surely benefit from a few more years in the bottle. If opening now, carafe it up to a day in advance, serve it at cool room temperature and drink it with food (veal in cream sauce or various cheeses spring to mind). (Buy again? Definitely.)
MWG March 12th tasting: flight 7 of 7.
Arbois 2011, Zest de Savagnin, Domaine de l’Octavin ($50.48, Les Importations du Moine, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically and biodyamically farmed Savagnin from 70-year-old vines grown in the Les Nouvelles vineyard. Macerated on the skins for three months, making this an orange wine, then matured in old barrels for around ten months. 12.9% ABV.
Complex nose of orange peel, floor wax, faint pine needles, sawed wood, peach and lemon, among other things. Smooth and round on the attack and surface though a strong acidic undercurrent quickly makes itself felt. Richly flavoured if a little monolithic for the now (of all the wines in the tasting, this is the one I most wished had been carafed), the fruit wrapped around a mineral core. Textured more like a red wine, with light tannins coming out on the long finish. Better balanced, more complete and fresher than many orange wines. Fascinating if a bit elemental; the future looks promising though. (Buy again? Gritting my teeth at the price but yes.)
Arbois 2005, Vin jaune, Domaine Michel Gahier ($71.00/620 ml, Primavin, NLA)
100% Savagnin. Matured sous voile (under a yeast veil) in old oak barrels for more than six years. 13.5% ABV.
Lightly oxidized nose of straw, apple and dried pear, developing nori and pastry notes as the wine breathes. A marvel in the mouth: so fresh and delicate yet also so present, focused and balanced. The fruit is pure, the acidity bracing. Threads of caramel, vanilla and nuts intertwine on the minutes-long finish. Obviously oxidized but not at all fino-like. Such a buoyant wine – each sip just carries you along. A synergistic match with 36-month-old Comté and walnut bread. In short, one of the best vin jaunes I’ve tasted and easily the most delicious. As remarkable as it is now, Gahier says it needs another ten to 20 years to develop fully. (Buy again? As nearly everyone at the tasting said: yes, price be damned.)
Saar 2010, Orange, Weigut Orea ($24.00, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Pinot Noir vinified like a white – a blanc de noirs, in other words – which , if I understand correctly, the winemaker, Hervé Bar, considers an orange wine of sorts, not that I know how that works with a red grape. Spontaneous fermentation. Hands-off approach to the wine-making, including no chaptalization, fining or filtering and no or minimal added sulphur. 11.5% ABV. The estate has reportedly ceased making wine, Bar having followed his wife back to his native Bordeaux.
Colour somewhere between an orange wine and a rosé. People toyed with bouquet descriptors like lemon cookies and lime zest before one of them pegged it: flat champagne. The wine has a silky, caressing texture. The sweet-ripe fruit (apple, mango, mangosteen) is brightened by acidity and dried by a faint hint of tannins. There’s a certain depth and good length. Emminently quaffable, far more so than other still white Pinot Noirs you might name. Popular with many of the assembled tasters. (Buy again? Yes.)
The estate’s Rieslings are well regarded and its Chardonnay has been compared to Chablis.