Posts Tagged ‘Rosé wine’
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Yiannis Tselepos is a phenomenon, one of the leaders of the Greek wine renaissance and the modern day king of the ancient Moscofilero variety. A Cypriot by birth, he studied oenology at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon and, after graduating, spent a couple of years working at several Burgundy estates. He then moved to Arcadia in the eastern Peloponnese, where he found employment as a consulting oenologist, married a local girl, Amelia, and with her founded the eponymous winery. The Tseleposes currently own two estates and have an interest in a third.
Located in Rizes, central Arcadia, Ktima Tselepos is the larger and older of the two estates, dating back to 1999. It sits on a plateau on the eastern flank of Mount Parnon. While the main buildings are surrounded by 30 hectares of vineyards, the estate’s holdings actually total some 240 hectares. The soil here tends to be shale and rocky clay and the average elevation is 750 metres, helping ensure a wide difference in day and night temperatures. The handsome winery is built in the traditional local architectural style; less flashy and touristy than some, it feels like a facility whose main purpose is wine production. Although around two-thirds of the estate’s production is devoted to Moscofiliero, it makes a wide range of wines, from sparklers to still dry reds and whites to sweet wines from international as well as local grape varieties. With a total annual production of 350,000 bottles, half of which is exported, this is no small operation.
In 2003, Tselepos acquired a second property, Ktima Driopi, an 8.5-hecatre plot of 50-year-old vines rooted in steep clay soil in Kousti, near Nemea, about an hour’s drive away to the north-northwest. The estate specializes in the Agiorgitiko, another ancient indigenous variety. A small winery has since been built to handle the estate’s production. As classy as its wines, the estate’s striking labels feature a dormant tree in silhouette.
Tselepos’s latest project is a joint venture on Santorini with the Chryssou family. The family provides the grapes (from 12 hectares of ungrafted 50- to 100-year-old vines in Pyrgos and Emporio) while Yannis provides the wine-making expertise. Dubbed Canava Chryssou Tselepos Santorini, the estate currently produces around 12,000 bottles a year of a single wine, a 100% Assyrtiko.
At all three estates, the viticultural practices are enlightened without being full-bore organic. In Arcadia, the vines are trained on wires, a virtual necessity in the region’s humid climate. On arid, wind-blasted, sun-stroked Santorini, the vines are coaxed into nest-like spirals that lie close to the ground, the better to protect the fruit and preserve precious water. Irrespective of the estate, the grapes are manually harvested in the cool of the early morning and transported to the winery in small crates. Though the facilities are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, Yiannis views technology as limited to a supporting role. “Good technology makes for good wine but only the right vineyard will yield a great wine,” he says.
One aspect of this balancing act between technology and terroir was the focus of an interesting exchange during our technical tasting. A member of our party, a professional sommelier with an impressively acute palate, wondered why Tselepos used selected instead of indigenous yeasts, since, he felt, the former scalp and compress wines. Yannis countered with “I have 17 families besides my own who depend on the winery’s success. I’m not going to put their livelihoods at risk.”
I can see both sides of the argument. Obviously, indigenous yeasts – the yeasts native to a place – are a factor in terroir. And many other winemakers have shown that fine wines can reliably be made using them. So it seems a little paradoxical that the winery, which proudly describes its central winemaking philosophy as “to grow Greek varieties within their specific native ecosystem” and which, as the following notes show, does indeed make terroir-expressive wines, doesn’t go all the way down the terroir path.
Then again, Yiannis is clearly more than just a winemaker. He’s also a successful businessman, a player in the local community and a standard bearer for the wines of his region and country. His Moschofileros and Agiorgitikos are widely viewed as models for what the grapes can achieve. His Mantinias have almost singlehandedly put that appellation on the map. One of the reasons this has happened is the wines’ consistency. Why, then, tinker with a winning formula? Why introduce another variable into the process? Why do anything that could undermine the livings of so many and the reputations of a business and a region?
More than just a winemaker? Yes. But still a winemaker at heart, as the following story shows. At one point, Yiannis told us how he came to chose oenopole to represent his wines in Quebec. One day this Greek-Canadian showed up and introduced himself as Theo Diamantis. He explained he was setting up an agency dedicated to selling “real,” terroir-driven wines with a high drinkability quotient, wines made not by industrial producers but by vignerons. And that is why he wanted Tselepos in the portfolio. “It was the first time anybody called me a vigneron,” Yiannis beamed, “and wass all I needed to know. I was ready right then to sign on the dotted line.”
You’ll find my notes on all the day two wines after the jump. For details about where we stayed and ate and what we ate and saw, including some of Tselepos’s vineyards, see the day two report on carswelliana.
Crémant d’Alsace, Brut, Rosé, Domaine Pfister ($39.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. No technical information is to be found about this traditional method sparkler, which is absent from the producer’s website and little mentioned on the Web. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Pale coppery pink with a very fine bead. Leesy nose of red berries, faint orange peel and “a hint of sweet prosciutto” (per another taster). In the mouth, it’s very dry and glowingly acidic. The subtle fruit allows the mineral underlay to come clearly through. The bitter-edged finish is nicely sustained. Serious without being severe and standing up to comparison with its more prestigious flightmate. Probably excellent with food. (Buy again? Yes.)
Champagne, Brut, Rosé, Prestige, Pierson-Cuvelier ($53.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. The colour for this traditional method sparkler comes from maceration on the skins; no other technical information is to be found. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Two shades darker than the Pfister with bigger bubbles and lots of foam. Outgoing nose of brioche and raspberry. Rounder, fruitier (red berries, pomegranate) and less dry than the crémant with zingy acidity and a pronounced mineral component. Enjoyable enough but a little overshadowed by the other sparkling rosés in the tasting. (Buy again? Maybe.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 2 of 9
In the run-up to the holidays, oenopole invited a number of wine critics, journalists, restaurateurs, sommeliers and bloggers, including me, to a tasting of champagnes from the house of Doquet. The tasting was led by the soft-spoken if loquacious owner-winemaker Pascal Doquet.
Based in Vertus, Pascal has been a winemaker since 1982. After taking the helm of the family estate (Doquet-Jeanmarie at the time), he bought out his sisters’ shares in the estate and created – with his wife Laure – Champagne Pascal Doquet in 2004. Comprising a little under nine hectares of vines, the estate has been certified organic since 2007. Pascal describes his approach to wine-growing as sustainable. The life of the soil is a primary concern, as evidenced by his careful application of homemade compost, avoidance of chemical weed-killers, use of lightweight straddle tractors and manual working of the topsoil around the vine rows.
In the cellar, pressing – always with a pneumatic press – is adapted to the characteristics of each vintage. Only the juice from the first two pressings is used. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, the wines are matured on their lees for, on average, four or five months, then naturally clarified and sometimes lightly filtered before bottling, which happens in spring for the non-vintage cuvées and in late summer or early fall for the vintage cuvées. Dosage is done with concentrated grape must, which Pascal feels is closer to the grape’s natural sugar. The wines tend to be shipped six to 12 months after disgorging.
The tasting began with the house’s rosé.
Champagne, Rosé, Brut, Premiers crus de la Côte des blancs, Pascal Doquet ($66.75, 12024296)
A blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%) from vineyards around the village of Vertus. The soil is mostly deep clay over chalk. The grapes are entirely destemmed. The colour comes from briefly macerating the juice on the skins. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured 12 months on the lees in large barrels and 24 months in the bottle. Unfiltered. Disgorged in February 2014. Dosage was 6 or 7 g/l, which Pascal intends to lower to 5 g/l in the future. Reducing sugar: 7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Salmon-orange with a fine bead and head. Yeasty nose of red berries, hard candies and hints of chalk and resinous herbs. In the mouth, it’s fruity yet delicate, ripe-sweet yet fundamentally dry. The effervescence is soft and structuring. Bright acidity swells on the mid-palate. Turns even direr on the long finish with its lingering fruit and mineral flavours. Not a throat-grabber but elegant, refreshing and delicious. (Buy? Yes.)
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Located a 20-minute drive southeast of Athens International Airport, the Papagiannakos Winery sits on the northwestern edge of Porto Rafti in Markopoulo. Shoebox-shaped with a sloping roof and prominent girders that, in profile, look like a giant Π (pi, the first letter of the family name), the current structure was built in the mid-2000s. It is, in a word, gorgeous: clean and modern in design, integrated into the surroundings, eco-friendly and featuring extensive use of local materials, in particular stones. The equipment is state of the art, the compact barrel cellar houses Allier and Nevers oak casks. A glass wall under a large overhang faces south providing ample daylight while, on the north side, a row of clerestory windows runs above the tall stone wall ensuring good airflow and an escape route for warm air. At the far (west) end of the building are found, on the lower level, a large tasting room and, on the upper level, a beautiful, high-ceilinged event space with a sweeping view over the valley to the ridge separating the region from Athens, with the airport’s control tower just visible over the intervening hills. Carefully chosen artwork adorns the walls. In short, it’s a feel good place.
The Papagiannakos family has been growing grapes and making wine in Markopoulo since 1919. In the 1960s, the second generation upgraded the winery and improved the quality of its output. The current, third-generation owner-winemaker, Vassilis, took over in 1992, and almost immediately began the process of bringing the winery into the 21st century.
It may be a conceit but I’ve often found winemakers to resemble the wines they make. In any case, it’s true for Vassilis: classy yet down-to-earth, generous yet reserved, rooted in the past yet forward-looking, attached to a place yet also aware of the world. Speaking about his wines, he rightly said “they don’t shout,” but he could equally have been talking about himself (or his winery’s handsome labels, for that matter).
Papagiannakos has several vineyards, some around the winery and others – including ones under contract – scattered throughout the environs. Though the soil varies from parcel to parcel, it is generally rocky and infertile over a limestone base. The area receives no rain to speak of from May or June through October, so the vines are grown in low bushes; rot isn’t a problem here, in contrast to, say, the Peleponnese, where grape vines are usually trained on wires. The dry, breezy conditions also mean there is no need for insecticides or fungicides. On the other hand, irrigation (drip to conserve water) is a necessity, especially for young vines.
The winery has specialized in Savatiano since its founding. Actually, it was the only grape variety grown at the estate until Vassilis took the helm. He soon began playing with the newly resuscitated Malagousia variety and then red grapes. He also has several experimental plots, one of them Greco di Tufo, the first real vintage of which will be the 2016. “Italian grapes,” I exclaimed, unable to hide the surprise in my voice. With a shrug of the shoulders and a wry smile came the reply: “Well, as the name implies, it’s probably Greek.”
After a tour of the building, we gathered in the event room for a technical tasting with Vassilis and members of his family, including his children, affable, knowledgeable and articulate young adults who will eventually take the reins from their father. You’ll find my tasting notes after the jump.
♦ PAPAGIANNAKOS (ATTICA)
Crete 2014, Rosé de Liatiko, Domaine Economou ($32.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Liatiko from organically farmed, ungrafted old vines. After a short maceration on the skins, the grapes are pressed and the must is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Maturation is in old barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. Minimal added sulphur and then only at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Wafting, complex nose: pumice, dried herbs, distant red fruit and a touch of animale. In the mouth, it’s both mysterious and present, like a rocky landscape shimmering in a summer haze. Dried strawberry and stony, sun-baked earth are carried on a stream of acidity. The gauzy layers include garrigue, salt and dried flowers. Dry and long. A rosé with the colour and weight of a Poulsard but aromas and flavours that transport you to a Mediterranean mountainside. A profoundly beautiful wine. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG August 12th tasting: flight 4 of 8
Côtes de Provence 2015, Rosé, Domaine Houchart ($17.50, 11686503)
Grenache (35%), Syrah (25%), Cinsault (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) from vines rooted in clay and limestone. Most of the fruit was harvested mechanically. The varieties were vinified separately. Ninety percent of the fruit was direct pressed (pneumatic press); the remainder underwent cold maceration (10°C) for 12 to 24 hours. The chilled must was allowed to settle, then fermented in temperature-controlled (18°C) stainless steel vats for 12 to 24 days. After blending, the wine was bottled and closed with a screwcap. Reducing sugar: 4.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Franc-Vins.
Pickled nectarine, strawberry, sun-baked quartz, a whiff of garrigue. Vibrant, glyceriny fruit dominates from entry through mid-palate, then gives way to more mineral, saline and savoury flavours. Bright acidity brings freshness. A red berry/cherry note and some sotto voce orange sound as the finish fades to a faintly bitter aftertaste. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the perceived sugar levels – the SAQ figure seems so low as to have one questioning its accuracy – make this a bit cloying after a glass or two. One of those wines that are pleasant enough to sip but that you don’t want to think too much about when drinking. (Buy again? While waiting for the 2015 Alzipratu to show up, maybe.)
The evening before, friends and I found Tempier’s 2014 Bandol rosé to be a glorious, synergistic pairing for Chez Tante Paulette’s chicken bouillabaisse. The following evening with the leftovers, this was an interactionless meh.
Something of a cult producer – they’re currently accepting no new clients – Vouette et Sorbée has been making idiosyncratic champagnes since 2001. The estate is located in the village of Buxières-sur-Arce, which is geographically, geologically and maybe even spiritually closer to Chablis than to the champagne capital of Épernay.
Champagne 2011, Cuvée Fidèle, Vouette et Sorbée ($76.73, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blanc de noirs. 100% Pinot Noir from organically and biodynamically farmed vines rooted in Kimmeridgian marl. The manually harvested grapes are gently pressed. The free-run juice is transferred to 400-litre oak casks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Indigenous yeasts are used for primary and secondary fermentation. The wine is aged on its lees on lattes (stacked in piles with small pieces of wood inserted between the bottles to prevent them from moving) and riddled on racks. This is nearly all 2011 except for a dollop of reserve wines. Sulphur dioxide is added to the incoming grapes but not at bottling. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Extremely complex nose: miso, black pepper, “apples on the floor of the orchard” (quoting another taster), roasted white meat, barley sugar and more as the wine breathes. Dry and intense on the palate. The effervescence is light and fine but also very insistent. The remarkably pure fruit tends to red berries and apples, is grounded in chalky minerals and coloured by spice and umami notes. Lively acidity adds tension that relaxes only on the long finish with its lingering spice and brioche flavours. Not so much a vin plaisir as a vin de contemplation and quite unlike any other champagne I’ve tasted. Next time I’ll carafe it a couple of hours before serving. (Buy again? Yes.)
Champagne 2012, Saignée de Sorbée, Vouette et Sorbée ($124.85, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A rosé champagne. 100% Pinot Noir from organically and biodyamically farmed vines averaging 22 years old. More than three-quarters of the vines are planted on Kimmeridgian hillsides, the remainder in fragmented Portlandian limestone. Manually harvested. Made using the saignée method with extended carbonic maceration. Vinified in 400-litre oak casks. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Indigenous yeasts are used for primary and secondary fermentation. The wine is aged on its lees on lattes and riddled on racks. Sulphur dioxide is added only to the incoming grapes. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Strawberry carpels, miso, cooked rhubarb, pastry cream, apple peel and more. In the piehole, the wine is weighty but not heavy, textured by a fine, soft bead and mouth-watering acidity. Once again the fruit is as savoury as sweet and intertwined with minerals. Pink grapefruit, including the pith, is joined by spice and umami notes on the long finish. Continues evolving in the glass; I suspect this, too, would benefit from an hour or two in the carafe. Complex and fascinating, a rosé to contend with. (Buy again? When my boat comes in…)
These showed much better than the 2007s that the group tasted in December 2010. Or maybe our palates have evolved. In fact, at one point during the tasting, I found myself wondering whether the adage about vin jaune didn’t also apply here: you don’t appreciate it until your third encounter.
MWG March 12th tasting: flight 4 of 7