From British Airways’s High Life – Isabelle Legeron chooses the ten best places for natural wine in London.
Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine
From British Airways’s High Life – Isabelle Legeron chooses the ten best places for natural wine in London.
South American wines have enjoyed quite a run in the United States, thanks to their reasonable prices and their boringly even quality. They aren’t terrible, but they aren’t, for the most part, the least bit special. So when one comes along that truly breaks the mold, it really stands out.
Louis-Antoine Luyt is a winemaker who saw an opportunity in the sea of completely ordinary wines he tasted in Chile. Bored with living in France, he arrived there as a 22 year old, got a job as a dishwasher and worked his way up to wine buyer. After studying winemaking in a class, he decided to go back to France to learn more. He studied in Beaune and worked five harvests under the tutelage of Mathieu Lapierre (the son of the legendary Marcel Lapierre) in Morgon, and then returned to Chile determined to make extraordinary wines. He found a number of small vineyards with very old vines (some as old as 300 years), but their grapes were either being sold off to huge wineries or being made into so-so wines by the locals for their own consumption. So he took over the vineyards and employed Lapierre’s techniques, converting to organic farming, plowing with horses, and staying away from irrigation. Now he makes arguably the most interesting and complex Chlean wines out there.
In the winery, Luyt uses only natural yeasts and minimal sulfur. The wines undergo carbonic maceration and they are all remarkably low in alcohol. The result is Chilean wine that can stand up to the finest red wines anywhere in the world. The Carignan Trequilemu is made from 70 year-old vines, and is a rich, dark, earthy beauty that’s amazingly vibrant and alive. 12.9% alcohol levels are a big reason why.
We sneak slightly over the $20 a bottle criteria with this one, but for a couple of bucks more you’ll get a whole new take on Chilean wines. I remember all too well my reaction to Luyt’s wines when I first sampled them, and I know you’ll enjoy that same revelatory experience. The label, inspired by the Santiago transit system, is a standout, too. You can’t miss it in a retail environment.
The Real Wine Fair 2014 happens next week in London – and there are a lot of events, tons of great wine and even a Georgian Supra to keep track of. Let the Organic Wine Journal break it all down for you:
The Real Wine Fair
This is the main event; two days of celebrating organic, biodynamic and natural wines with 150 winemakers and growers pouring for consumers and professionals.
Sunday, April 13th: For Consumers and trade. Consumer tickets are £15 in advance and £20 at the door. Purchase tickets here.
Monday, April 14th: This day is for trade and media only. So consumers – make sure you plan on going on Sunday.
The fair is located at Tobacco Dock, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Sunday is the day of the London Marathon – so public transport is your best bet. For that day they also recommend Wapping Station, rather than Shadwell, so you won’t have to cross the marathon route. Here are full transportation details.
150 Winemakers from France, Italy and Spain make up the majority, but also represented are Portugal, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, England and a whopping 10 wineries from Georgia.
From France, you’ll see a lot of OWJ regulars, like Domaine Audrey & Christian Binner, Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Domaine Cousin-Leduc and Domaine de la Tour du Bon. From Italy, there will be Cascina Degli Ulivi, Tenute Dettori and Colombaia. And from Spain, be sure to say hello to our good friends at Vinos Ambiz.
The full list is incredible though – see it here.
A Georgian Supra!
What’s a Georgian Supra? It’s a celebration of Georgian food and wine – and you don’t want to miss that. There’ll be Georgian dishes such as red beans with wild thyme, oyster mushrooms with tarragon and green plum sauce, chicken livers with caramelized onions and white wine, lamb chanakhi and churchkhela with honeycomb. All the Georgian wineries at the fair will be pouring their wines and you’ll experience traditional Georgian songs and toasts.
The dinner is April 14th at the pop-up restaurant The Unfiltered Dog, and tickets are £55. Get them here.
Seminars and Master Classes
2.00 – 3.00 pm – Daniel Honan – “The Secret Australian Wine Revolution”
In the past couple of years the artisan wine scene has positively exploded in Australia. Daniel will be talking about a group of young, iconoclastic Aussie winemakers, who share a love of music, poetry, food and natural wine.
4.00 – 5.00 pm – John Wurdeman, Rafa Bernabe, Giusto Occhipinti
“Feats of Clay” – a winemakers’ perspective on qvevri, tinajas and amphora wines.
2.00 – 3.00 pm – Salvo Foti from I Vigneri
Viticulture and winemaking on Mount Etna.
3.30 pm – Wink Lorch, author of “Jura Wine”
The hidden treasures of Jura.
Reserve your place by notifying the front desk when you arrive. Full class descriptions here.
Food & Drink
With all that great wine being poured, you need something to eat. Serving great dishes at the fair will be:
Duck Soup – lamb shoulder cooked in milk, broad beans & wild garlic and tarama and shaved kohlrabi and sesame salt on warm flatbreads.
Donostia – small plates such as slow-cooked pigs cheeks and arroz negro plus variations on a jamón theme.
Zucca – Cianfotta (a seasonal vegetable stew from southern Italy) and pork cooked in milk.
Handmade Food – beetroot borani & feta with crispbread; marinated pigeon breast in flat bread with watercress and pickle, and Simnel cake.
Morito – cooking lamb on the plancha with labneh, pickled chillies and green olives and serving grilled Tetilla cheese with membrillo and walnut bocadillo.
Burro e Salvia – signature fresh pasta from traditional family recipes.
La Cour de Rémi – Pressed oxtail, mustard vinaigrette & roquette leaves; fried cuttlefish and pork belly ‘à la Ibaiona’ and Scallops, marinated with lemon infused olive oil.
Also on hand will be Workshop Coffee, Camden Town Brewery and Sacred Microdistillery.
The Unfiltered Dog
The folk behind Terroirs, Brawn, Soif and The Green Man & French Horn are popping up again with a pop-up restaurant at this year’s Real Wine Fair, where consumers can rub shoulders and knives and forks with wine growers and trade professionals.
The bistro, winningly named The Unfiltered Dog, will be open for dinner on the evening of Sunday 13th April. It will serve a short-but-punchy à la carte menu of charcuterie and cheese platters, as well as hot & cold dishes and desserts featuring such comfort food as chicken noodle soup; courgettes, artichokes & broad beans; quail, bitter leaves, anchovy, chilli & garlic; bacon chop & baked beans; squid, chickpeas & chipotle salsa; chocolate mousse, chewy hazelnut meringues, and banana bread, salted butter caramel & raw crème fraiche.
Dinner will be served from 6pm ‐10pm (last orders). Unfortunately, advance bookings will not be taken but customers will be seated on a first come, first served basis.
Did we miss anything?
Probably – so go to the website www.therealwinefair.com to find out more.
Organic winemaker Emmanuel Giboulot has been fined €500 (around $685) for refusing to spray his vineyards, located in the Côte D’Or region, against insects spreading the disease flavescence dorée.
From The Guardian:
Scores of Giboulot’s supporters, including Green MEP Sandrine Bélier, had gathered outside the court in Dijon to hear the verdict. The judge ruled in line with the prosecution’s demand that he should receive a fine of €1,000, with €500 suspended. Giboulot, 51, announced that he would appeal, and said after the hearing: “I still don’t feel guilty. It’s intolerable today to be forced to hide and to be frightened for taking a stand.”
The case has aroused strong feelings in France among the winegrower’s supporters and opponents in the wine industry. An online petition criticising the potential penal sentence gathered more than half a million signatures.
Giboulot refused to comply with the official instructions on crop spraying on the ground that the insecticide caused collateral damage among pollinating insects, including bees.
Mannucci Droandi is a winery in the Valdarno area of Tuscany near the town of Montevarchi. The Valdarno is an ancient wine making region and is part of the province of Arezzo. Wine has been part of Arezzo’s history for centuries. The people living in this part of the peninsula were the mysterious Etruscans. An official registry from the 15th Century indicates that wines from the Valdarno di Sopra (on the hills) were considered to be of superior quality while the wines from around the piano di Arezzo (in the valley) sold for a lesser price. In fact, in 1716 Cosimo III de ’Medici announced ‘ a “Bando” designating four areas dedicated to the production of quality wine, – Chianti, Pomino, Carmigmano and Vald’Arno di Sopra.
The Mannucci Droandi family has been farming their land for many years, but used to sell their grapes until the 1990s, when they began making their own wines. The owner Roberto Giulio Droandi and his wife Maria Grazia Mammuccini run the estate They have two properties: the first is the Campolucci that has 6.5 hectares and is located on the eastern slopes of the Chianti Mountains at about 250 meters above sea level. The family has owned this property since 1929 and its alluvial, sandy and silt soils are organically certified.
The second property is called Ceppeto, and is surrounded by dense woodland. This property is on the western side of the Chianti Mountains at 450 meters above sea level. The soils are a mix of clay and stones and are also organically certified.
Mannucci Droandi has been practicing organic viticulture since 2000. They use what is known as “sovescio,” or composting between their rows and have an integrated pest management regime. They believe in a balanced ecosystem on their farm. Hunting is not allowed on their property and they told me they have numerous hare, wild boar and other animals that move throughout their land. Roberto told me that his winery is a “happy island unto itself.”
I visited with Roberto and his wife on a very rainy night in November. They were lovely and fascinating to speak with and the wines were exquisite. Roberto reminded me of both a gentleman farmer as well as an explorer.
The winery has been a hub for a project with the Consiglio per la Ricerca e la Sperimentazione in Agricoltura; they are working to bring back extinct and nearly extinct Tuscan varieties. Because of legislation and market forces, Tuscany, and the rest of Italy, now have many fewer varietals. Roberto said he used to have field blends throughout his lands and, at one point, grubbed them up. He is now quite sorry he did that. He also found numerous grapes growing on his land that are unique.
The study with the university is to see how some of these older varieties can grow today. According to the University, the change in viticulture is a negative consequence of specialization, and is harmful for the genetic patrimony of the vine. Some of the grape varieties that were growing did well on the property while others did not. L’Orpicchio was one that did not do well while others such as barsaglina, pugnitello and foglia tonda did.
The winery makes interesting Chianti such as Chianti Colli Aretini, a blend of Sangiovese 90%, Canaiolo 5% and ancient Tuscan red grapes 5%, as well as a Chianti Classico, thanks to their privileged location between Arezzo and the Chianti Classico area.
They also make mono-varietal wines from the rare varietals. The Barsaglina comes from three hectares of alluvial, medium-textured soil located 250 meters above sea level. They work the land by short-spurred cordon training, summer trimming, bunch thinning and leaf removal and harvesting in stages. The wine is made from 100% Barsaglina – a Tuscan grape variety originally from the province of Massa Carrara.
They also made a 100% Foglia Tonda, a Tuscan grape variety originally from the province of Siena. They use the same viticulture techniques with this variety as the Barsaglina. In the cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and gently crushed and then fermented in small vats (10–15 hectoliters), with prolonged maceration (20 days) and pumping-over alternated with delestage; a two-step “rack-and-return” process in which fermenting red wine juice is separated from the grape solids by racking and then returned to the fermenting vat to re-soak the solids. This step is then repeated daily. The wine is aged for eight months in French oak barrels used for the 2nd and 3rd time and then in the bottle for three months.
They also made a 100% Pugnitello, a Tuscan red grape variety also originally from the province of Siena. The selected grapes macerate for 25 days in 10-hectoliter barrels used for the 2nd and 3rd time and then age in the bottle for 6 months.