Spook Wine

IMG_7140.JPGSupernatural Spook Light Skin Fermented Pinot Gris 2016 – Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand; 12,5% abv; c.28€

Deep pink/orange colour. The scent is all about fruit and earth sensations with nothing of that harshness that some orange wines have. It smells of apricots, strawberries and damp earth. The palate is quite soft, too, gentle and fruity with plenty of body, low acidity but a nice bit of tannic grip. It is a gentle, autumnal wine and really quite beautiful. Not a freaky orange wine despite being skin fermented.

Roc’ Ambulle

Pét-nats are usually fun sparklers so I’m glad Alko finally got one. It is from Domaine Le Roc in Fronton and is made from the local grape, Négrette. And best of all, since it’s good, it comes in a magnum.

IMG_7082.JPGDomaine Le Roc Roc’Ambulle – 9% abv; 14 g/l RS; c.37€ for a magnum
Quite a dark pink colour. Lovely aromas: a bit stinky and earthy but with fun pure red berry aromas. Gentle sweetness on the palate but lots of fun and juicy and refreshing fruit. I think the point of these pét-nats is not to analyse them deeply but to drink copiously and enjoy something truly fun. So I’ll stop writing and go refill my glass.


A Bunch of Blinds

A wino traveller was in our little town recently so we met up with a bunch of winos to try some blind wines. I had a great time and the wines were pretty decent, too! :D

David and Nadia Sadie Swartland Chenin Blanc 2015
I liked this one though it wasn’t at all reminiscent of any CB I’ve had from the Loire. This was faintly tropical in its fruit (guava I think) but had good enough acidity to keep it moreish. Very tasty though in a style I’m not familiar with for this grape.

Gayda Vineyard’s Selection Parcellaire Grenache Gris 2014

Floral but in a refreshing rather than cloying way; good weight and body, kind of neutral fruit aromas so it was difficult to pin down. Neutral oak Chardonnay was my guess.

Quenard Chignin Vieilles Vignes Jacquère 2016
A bit leesy, not as neutral as I expected with some nice floral aromas; light body, not as high acidity as I expected, but it was still a fun little wine.

Eben Sadie Skurfberg Chenin Blanc 2011

Gold colour; smells old – all honey and apples; rich, huge, a bit too noticeable alcohol IMO. Without the heat on the finish this would have been an attractive aged wine. Though apparently it has aged faster than expected.

Rolet Arbois Poulsard Vieilles Vignes 2015

The first red was one I brought. Bright and peppery; light and juicy and pleasantly astringent. It’s just what Poulsard should be. I like it. But I tend to like these weird lighter wines that aren’t always hits. :D

Luis Pato Bairrada Vinho Tinto 1989
I really enjoyed this one. Aged aromas but not overly so, pleasantly rustic and earthy; good firm tannins but enough aged fruit to make it work. I love these rustic reds.

Luyt País de Quenehuao 2014
Chilean natural wine and seriously good also! This isn’t in the freaky end of the natural spectrum but rather is wine of pure fruit and glouglou fun. I prefer fun wine to fine wine. Very moreish.

Töövi Syrah 2008 – Sta. Barbara County, California
I’ve tried this before and this time it was a bit weird: all oak and blueberry; thick and heavy and too dominated by the oak.

Chateau Musar 1997
It smells like Musar. It tastes like Musar. It’s perfect. Awesome wine.

Sourdais Chinon 1993
It smells like nicely aged Chinon. It tastes like nicely aged Chinon. It’s perfect. Awesome wine. Nicely green, though I know some hate that greenness.

Selvadolce VB1 Vermentino 2012
Clean, easy-drinking style of “orange” wine: fruity and moreish rather than astringent and bitter and tannic. I liked it very much.

Le Rocher des Violettes Moelleux Passerillage 2010
Lovely Montlouis sweetie: smells of apricots and copper kettles; not as sweet as expected but I guess acidity hides it a bit. Apparently the who brought it felt it was a bit different to what it should have been, but I still liked it very much.

Three “Natural” Spaniards

Alko, always a decade late with all trends, has started selling limited amounts of “natural” wine. The first batch seems to have been moderately priced Spanish ones, all of which were perfectly drinkable and enjoyable and some of which were genuinely fun. I already posted on two in my previous post, but here’s three more.

La Encina Tierra de Forcallat 2016
80% Forcallat 20% Macabeo. If I understood correctly this is from the red grape Forcallat, not the white one (which is now understood to be something else entirely). A pleasant, fruity aroma, some leesy character; gentle ripe fruit, but refreshing though not terribly acidic. It’s an easy-going, sunny wine that is light enough in body that it’s wonderfully drinkable. Nothing grand but fun. Expensive though at 18€.

La Encina Forcallat 2016
100% Forcallat – this time made into a red. A very nice aroma: a little bit wild and gamy, nice sour cherry. Moderately tannic, low acidity, but still enough crunch to keep it fresh and moreish. It’s not a great wine, but it is a pleasant and drinkable one without anything truly negative, but also without anything truly exceptional. Hence, the price is a bit high at about 18€.

IMG_7051Envínate Albahra 2016
This is a fun red from Alicante Bouschet from Albacete. 50% whole cluster fermentation with wild yeasts and aged in cement all sound good. I like a bit of stemmy character and hate oak aromas. So lets see what it smells like. Oh yeah! It’s like a stemmy Pinot Noir married to sort of Grenachy elements. It’s a sweet and sunny scent but it’s also fresh and promises lightness and vivacity on the palate. Those promises are kept. It starts out ever so slightly fizzy but just a couple swirls decreases that to barely perceptible levels. Half an hour of air and nothing is noticeable. Nicely tannic, really fresh and refreshing, vivacious but still with sunny, southern fruit. I really like this one. 16€ or so and worth it even though Alko is always expensive.

Two “Natural” Spaniards

IMG_6991Masia Can Mayol Loxarel A Pèl 2016Penedès, Spain; 100% Xarel.lo; 12,5% abv; c.20€
This was a really charming orange wine. It was fermented and matured in clay amphorae of 720 litres for five months. It’s a light orange colour. The scent is really sniffable and not freaky or cidery but floral and faintly earthy. There is a gentle tannic bite but once again it is not in an extreme orange style at all. It’s really quite refreshing and bracing thanks to good acidity and fresh crunchy fruit. Intense but not overly so. Very well balanced orange wine IMO and perhaps one that might convert those who hate it for having been exposed to the astringent and cidery styles.

Gonzalo Gonzalo & The Wine Love Gran Cerdo 2016 – From “Rioja” but not allowed on label; 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano; 13,5% abv; c.12€
This was a fun wine. It looked kind of scary since the colour was so purple, but everything else was ok with it. More than ok in fact. Lovely bright and pure aromatics, all violets and strawberries and a touch of reduction. The palate is just pure fun: sweet and pure fruit, impeccable balance, glouglou-style for sure but not an insubstantial Gamay-wannabe. At 12€ you can’t expect much from Alko but this frankly gave me more fun than most 20€+ wines in Alko do. It’s fun. It’s not serious. But I see nothing wrong with fun. Cool it a bit, have some nice salami and cheese with it and I guarantee you will have a fantastic evening.IMG_6995

Lyrarakis Mandilari

Fairly recently I posted about a Plyto white from Lyrarakis that I thought was pretty wonderful for a cheap white. It was interesting both because of what was in the glass and because Plyto is a grape variety they’re rescuing from oblivion. Nice wine; nice story.

IMG_6987.JPGToday I saw another wine from Lyrarakis, the a red from the also autochthonous grape Mantilari (which comes with dozens of Latinized orthographies), so bought one to try.

Lyrarakis Plakoura Vineyard Mandilari 2014100% Mandilaria (or however you want to spell it); 13% abv; c.18€
The first sniff was not promising. Oak. Sigh. But I took a sip anyway and beneath the oaky sheen there was a wine of genuine interest: tannic but light bodied, stern and broody and almost aggressively dry. A chunk of bloody meat is what this needs and when I have that on my plate this is amazingly moreish. What a shame that the scent is so oak-dominant. Don’t you just hate it when there is an obviously fascinating wine but it’s just out of reach because of a certain component like the oak masking it?

How dare Pinotage be so tasty?

lamLammershoek Presents LAM Pinotage 2013Swartland, SA; 12,5% abv; c.14€
Treat it like a rosé (i.e. drink it cool) and you have one of the most fantastic drinks I’ve had in a while. Pale red. Wonderful “dirty” and vegetal aromas with a bit of lift and funk – it’s like a light version of Musar. There is a slight hint of cumin which is a scent I associate with Pinotage but other than that, this goes stylistically more to the successful glou-glou naturals than anything else. Really refreshing, vivacious palate with sweet and ripe fruit but very lightly done. It is weightless – like drinking a cloud – yet packed full of flavour. I love such paradoxes. Dangerously moreish: a magnum would have been a better size for this wine.