Preparing for Christmas : Cremisan Winery Baladi 2010 from Bethlehem

The days are getting colder, nights longer and the first signs of snow have been found in Germany. Even the supermarkets are getting ready with chocolate Santa Clauses and Lebkuchen. It’s time to get prepared at least mentally so why not pop open a bottle from the holy city of Bethlehem, made by monks and used to finance a school for adults with the profits?
A wine like this Baladi 2010 from Cremisan.

BaladiBack

The grape variety Baladi is still quite an enigma. According to Wine Grapes, J. Robinson et al it is the same grape as Cayetana Blanca from Spain but a superficial look at the colour makes it clear that these two here are not the same.
Even studying the Dictionnaire Encyclopédique des Cépages, Pierre Galet shows 6 different Baladis, all of which are white grape varieties. Three of them call Spain their home while the other three are grown in the Near East. The latter variants are supplied with a translation too: le raisin de mon pays, or grape of my country.

The Nose: Sweet, ripe blackberries, violets, peony, light meat stew and stronger fresh figs.

Med Body with juicy acidity and lkight tannins. Easy drinkinjg with light blackberry, tobacco and fresh fig palate, dried fig and tobacco aftertaste.

 

Drink now or wait till next year Christmas!nbsp;

Welsh Sparkling? Ancre Hill Estate Blanc de Noirs 2010

One might have heard about the great quality of English sparkling wine or even tried some. The English are not shy about promoting their own product often bringing in a comparison to Champagne. There is the terroir (just think of the white chalk cliffs of Dover) and similar sunshine hours. Only rainfall is higher than on the other side of the channel.
Wales and its 12 wineries cannot compete in quantity with Englands 123. The majority of those are to be found in the south-east of Wales, just like Ancre Hill Estate in Monmouth. The first vines were planted in 2006. Biodynamic principles were introduced in 2011 (too late for this sparkling here). Certified organic since 2012 and Demeter certified since 2013 making this one of only two biodynamic wineries in the UK.

The 2010 Blanc de Noirs is a varietal Pinot Noir, vinified in stainless steel tanks, then 24 months on the lees in the bottle with another 6 months bottle ageing after degorging to let the wine settle before expedition.

The capsule is quite simple, a neutral one with a paper logo sticker. A little disappointment for Champagne capsule collectors.

Ancre Hill Capsule

To make up for the capsule the nose convinces with apple, buttery brioche, vanilla and a touch of aniseed.

Fine bubbles combined with lively acidity, flowery, honey and pear palate.

A long and interesting salty liquorice finish with bruised heritage apple aftertaste ending on apple kernel with seeds.

A great sparkling wine as an aperitiv, with 11.5% Vol one can even have half a glass extra.

Wine Crowdfunding – Visiting my Winery – Le Verdus @ St Cyprien-sur-Dourdou

Like at own risk:

After liking a Facebook page about rare grape varieties I was fed this link about a small young winery in Aveyron, France looking for crowd funding. Philippe Rousseau and Aline Solignac want to resurrect the old winemaking traditions of the St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou village close to Marcillac by founding their winery, Le Verdus.

They looked for the reasonable sum of €2500 with the aim of planting a new parcelle of Chenin Blanc (one of my favourite whites) and one I’ve not heard of before: Roussellou.

I decided to spend €100 which would give me six bottles of wine and a tour of the winery. Enough supporters were found and the aim was surpassed, 151% was collected.

The wines were supposed to be delivered in September and to save the winery the higher postage fees to Germany and to get my free tour of the winery it was decided to visit St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou in the Massif Central, on this years tour through France.

We did arrive one day earlier so we had some time to check out the neighbouring village of Conques, a quaint village set on a hillside retaining the mood of the middle ages and being officially one of the most beautiful villages of France.

Conques

Yes, it is quite hilly here. We did cycle here from St-Cyprien, which was ok on the way to Conques as it was going slightly downhill and the wind was blowing from behind…

Conques3

A film location for a knight and damsel in distress movie anyone?

The Camping-ground in St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou is set between the sporting ground and the municipal outdoor swimming pool. It looks as if used to be part of the parking lot, the wash rooms are quite rudimentary and are shared with the sportlers.

But who can complain: €14.40 for the camper van, exlectricity, 2 persons, a shady levelled parcelle, own water supply included. Bakery and deli/butcher/grocery within 5 minutes walking distance.

St Cyprien sur Dourdou Camping Platz

Le Verdus lies slightly outside of St-Cyprien aon a hill. After first day reconnaisance tour with the bicycle we went there with the camper van to meet Philippe, who gave us the tour.

The terrain belongs to his partner’s family. The family were making a lot of wine before the Phylloxera-crisis but emigrated to Argentina where they made their fortune only to return to their origin and rebuild the family estate. It was decided: No more wine.

Instead cattle, wheat, fish were going to be the mainstay. The wine cellar was kept intact, built into the hillside to keep temperatures low and constant.

Verdus Cave

The building was built about 300 years ago, two storeyd. The bottom part is built into the hill, the top part has direct access to the vineyard via the backdoor. This is where the wine press was installed.

Verdus Pressoir

The pressed must can then be channeled down to the bottom floor using pipes and hoses without using any pumps.Verdus Cave

The wine is fermented here in the cooler bottom. The barrique barrels are used (5 seasons) and release no more oak aromas but enable a soft ripening. This room is also used to store the bottles and exudes all the charm of an old stone building.

Of course we got to see the newly planted vineyard too..

Verdus La Vigne

Two different Chenin Blanc clones were planted here, both of them originating from the Aveyron region. The Roussellou was planted using massal selection, collected by a specialist from old vines in the region.

Roussellou is the local name for St Côme, a white wine variety that Philippe got to know at a friend’s winery who has an experimental vineyard with lost vines of the region. After tasting some wines they both decided to go for this variety.

The grapes that eventually ended up in my wine are 70 year old Fer Servadou (90%) and Jurançon Noir (10%) from a rented vineyard in neighbouring Salles-la-Source. The vineyard can be used for Marcillac AOC but Philippe decided to go for a Vin de Pays de l’Aveyron for his first wine.

Philippe wants to plant a parcelle of red vines for Marcillac AOC wines but to conform with french law he has to show his ability to make a Marcillac wine first, thus the chances of him making a Marcillac in 2015 are quite high.

La Mitat

La Mitat in the local dialect: Half, Semi.

The vineyard is only half planted, the cellar is only half ready and the wine was made by Macération Semi-Carbonique.

Mitat is also used by traditional Aveyron dancers to call for another round of music if the musicians want to pack up. Hey guys, you’re too early to pack up, it’s just half time…

 

The wine is non-filtered, unfined. Indigenuous yeasts, no additives but a small amount of sulphur prior to bottling.

The nose: Beet root, violets, black currants, artificial raspberry.

Refreshing acidity with only light tannins on the palate. Joined by cassis some pepper and fermented cucumbers.

A perfect summer red which doesnt complain if served slightly cooler. 7€ at the winery.Ok, I did pay a bit more but that’s not what counts in crowd funding.

99 Years of Scheurebe Part I

In 2016 Scheurebe will celebrate its 100th anniversary, so time to pop some bottles on the balcony.

This aromatic grape variety was made by Georg Scheu in Alzey, Rheinhessen crossing Riesling and Bukettraube. Mr Scheu erroneously believed he used Sylvaner instead of Bukettraube but DNA-Testing was used to determine the correct parents.
First simply called Alzey S88 it was renamed Dr Wagnertraube in honor of a local member of the NSDAP and later Waffen-SS, involved in agriculture. 1950 the final renaming took place though in most parts of Austria the Name Sämling 88 is still in use, a close reminder of its origin.

In this first part 4 wines from Rheinhessen, the origin of Scheurebe will have to stand the balcony testing. 4 wineries, 4 vintages, all priced around 10€

Gysler Scheurebe

Directly from Alzey represented by Weingut Gysler and the oldest vintage in the ring. Gysler by the way make some interesting dry Huxelrebe too.

Vintage 2011

Nice fruity nose: Grapefruit, cat pee but also matured notes of dark crusted wood oven baked artisan bread. Soft with balanced acidity. Grapefruit and vanilla palate, flowery aftertaste.

 

Wagner Stempel Scheurebe
VDP Members Wagner-Stempel represent the 2012 vintage.

Very citrussy. Grapefruit, lime, reminding me of Sprite soda. Softer than the Gysler offering. Again lime as aftertaste.

Kuehling Gillot Scheurebe

A second VDP Member, Kühling-Gillot, with Qvinterra 2013.

A real fruit-bomb explosion, maybe too aromatic for some.

Hit by jackfruit, guava, black currants, green Mango and a touch of aromatic honey. Grippig acidity just keeping the heavy aromas in balance.

Manz Scheurebe Kalkstein

2014 is from Weingut Manz, Weinolsheim.

The youngster and also the lightest in colour. Still muted nose. Some pear, grapefruit, white flowers, touch of banana. Smell sweet but is not. Less acidity compared to the others. Bit short.
 

My personal favorites were the ones from Gysler and Kühling-Gillot.

Loved the mix of secondary and tertiary flavors on the Gysler, the expressive aromatics on the Qvinterra.

More Scheurebe in the planning: Pfalz, Franken, Sweet, Matured

2011 Verdesse – Domaine des Rutissons – Isère

If one divides France’s wines into the main wine growing regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Jura, Corse, Provence, Rhône, Savoy and Southwest there still remain some that don’t fit the description.

One of these are the wines of the Isère department. Southwest of the Savoy it borders the Rhône, the next wine region to the south would be the Provence. The landscape is similar to the Savoy but culinary it is doing its own stuff. No Tratiflets, raclette, fondue but raviols, small parcels filled with fresh cheese and parsley.

I did find out about this one september on the way back from the Côte d’Azur to Germany. The goal was to check out Mens, but nout because of the great views.

 

Landschaft um Mens

This tiny (1200 inhabitants) but eco-friendly town is host to a big eco-food fair in september, has its eco brewery, the weekly market has a high percentage of eco producers and there are a number of community vegetable gardens for every ones use. It is also home to a wine shop specialising on wines from the Alps. Right at the market place it was easy to find but unfortunately closed because of prep work for the coming eco fair. Luckily a guy could be seen through the cellar windows ranging wine boxes. After explainng that I had come all the way from Germany to buy some of his merchandise he agreed to let me buy some.

One of the bottles I bought is the 2011 Verdesse from Domaine des Rutissons in St Vincent de Mercuze. Apart from grapes grown in neighbouring wine regions (Jacquère from Savoy and Viognier from Rhône) the y grow autochtonuos grape varieties as well, Etraire de la Dhuy and Verdesse. The Verdesse is only grown on 2ha in France (2008). The name relates to its dark green leaves. The wines are supposed to be aromatic which gave the vine the synonym of Verdesse Musquée.

Straight from the fridge I’m surprised by choucroute with apples, onions and bacon. On the palate a cristal clear mineral acidity with raspberry soda candy. Dried fruit and canned mushrooms aftertaste. The choucroute dissipates quickly leaving raspberry soda, cooked apple, smoked bacon with honey and light chalk.

A real find, just hoping it can survive commercially against the likes of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The raviols we had later in the Café des Arts. The night we spent freezing in the tent.

2013 Malinger – Walporzheimer Pfaffenberg – Johannes Hostert

The second trip with our camper van was down to Mayschoß in the Ahr region. Quite near to Cologne this is a popular spot for short weekend trips.
We parked the van at the camper van site near the train station, lying between the Ahr river and a vineyard with a view on the Saffenburg castle ruins.
Drinking water and waste water emptying facilities are avaiable, as are some lots with electricity avaiable. Some lots, especially those with electricity are far from horizontal. Despite being close to the railway tracks and the main road it is quite quiet.

In this most northern wine growing region in Germany mainly red wine grapes are grown (86% in 2008) which is not what one would expect. Many winemakers produce stil blanc de noir wines, which makes sense if you are sitting in one of the many winery outlets, in the open sun. Our main reason for coming here were not the red wines, nor wines from the village of Mayschoß but a real rarity from neighbouring Rech.

Johannes Hostert owns a small vineyard in Walporzheim planted with over 90 years old, ungrafted Malinger grapes. Also known as Prècoce de Malingre, named after the guy responsible for creating the grape variety, a Parisian gardener. Early ripening it is said to have no real character.
According to Wine Grapes the grape is grown for the table as well. Mr Hostert seems to be the only man in the world producing a varietal wine.

After a short stop at the coop winery Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoß-Altenahr and a stroll on the Rotweinwanderweg to Rech I could finally get my hands on this rarity. On the terrasses of Weingut Johannes Hostert.
Malinger 2013 im Glas

A really light colour seemed to confirm the low character of the Malinger grape. A nice suprise on the nose with roasted hazelnuts and a lot of honey. Soft with low acidity with some residual sugars. With 11.5% I would have loved to taste a dry version as well. I bought a bottle for later to see if this one can take some time in my cellar…
Flasche Walporzheimer Pfaffenberg Malinger 2013

Savoie Wine Battle Gringet Sulphur vs Natural

One of those grape varieties that I have been looking for in Germany for a long time now is the Gringet. An almost extinct variety native to the French Alps that was thought be be a mutation of the Savagnin of Jura but which has been disproved by DNA testing. To my knowledge the only winery producinf Gringet Varietals is Domaine Belluard in Ayse, between Geneve and Chamonix.

Rebenversuchsanbau Domaine Méjane Gringet

Domaine Bellaurd adheres to biodynamic principles. 95% is plated with Gringet which is used both for still and sparkling wines. The rest is made upo from Altesse and Mondeuse.

When receiving the newsletter from Vins Vivants I had to take the opportunity and buy a couple of wines, two of which will be placed side by side today: Les Alpes and Pur Jus 100%, 2012 vintage.
They are basically the same wine, just the Pur Jus 100% has no added sulphites.

The Battle:

Les Alpes 2012:

Nice yellow in the glass. Interesting Nose: Apple, smoked bacon, deep fried parsley and cooked white beans.
Quite full with lively acidity, apple juice and cidre with a chalky mouthfeel, as if some tannins had somehow found their way into this bottle. Cidre and citrus aftertaste.
Later: Flowers, apples and cooked beans.
Even later: Yoghurt, wax, apple peel, honey, mirabelles.

The next day: Pork and apple, citrus and dried flowers aftertaste with a touch of chestnuts.

Pur Jus 100% 2012:
Slightly darker colour than the Les Alpes.
Hay, dried flowers, cidre, honey and mushrooms, pork with cooked white beans, lightest touch of Brett with goat aroma. Yoghurt and honey aftertaste.
Later: Apple, powdered stock, white flowers, plum.
Even later: Honey, apple, strong, almost artificial cherry- Appley, herby aftertaste.

The next day: Mint, liquorice, apple, citrus.

Outcome
Both wines are fascinating, especially the pork and beans notes found in both wines have been a pleasant surprise. The Pur Jus 100% has been well and hygienically made. Even after a week open near the heating which I must admit I rarely use, no sign of volatile acidity. The diffrenece between both wines was great with a slightly higher complexity for the Pur Jus 100%, making it the winner of todays battle.

Battle Vin de Savoie Malvoisie 2011 vs Coteaux de l’Auxois Pinot Beurot 2010

Todays battle sees the 2011 Vin de Savoie Malvoisie Cuvée Prestige from Domaine Girard against the 2010 Vin de Pays de Coteaux de l’Auxois Pinot Beurot La Mystérieuse from Vignoble de Flavigny-Alesia pitched against each other. Both wines are made using hand picked grapes, which does not really call for a battle.
Ok. They are both whites, from France… Both winemakers are members of France-Passion,
where camping car owners can stay the night after buying a sticker valid for one year.
Not enough?
Ok, both wines are made using Pinot Gris, though both use different names on the label.
Both the pink skinned mutation of the Pinot Noir as well as its white counterpart are rarely seen in France. The amount of Pinot Gris vines grown are about 10% of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc even just 5%.
Both are mainly grown in Alsace, where Pinot Blanc is mainly used as an ingredient for Cremant d’Alsace whereas the Pinot Gris is part of the 4.5 Grand Cru gang. Why 4.5? The 4 classic Grand Cru varieties are Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris with Sylvaner being the exception for the Grand Cru Zotzenberg only.
Before Hungary’s joining of the EC Pinot Gris was called Tokay in Alsace.
Apart from the Alsace there is also the Reully AOC in the upper Loire region where it is used for rosé wines in conjuncture with Pinot Noir.
It is also allowed in a variety of burgundy reds but it is not widely planted so the chances of finding even traces of Pinot Gris in red Burgundy are pretty slim. Here it is called Pinot Beurot.

The wine growing region of Coteaux de l’Auxois is part of Burgundy but not part of Bourgogne AOC. It’s hills are rather green with grass and dotted with big cattle. The Auxois is an old earldom in the western part of the duchy of Burgundy. The vinery Vignoble de Flavigny-Alesia lies south of the quaint village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain immortalized by the film Chocolat featuring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. It is also near to the historic place of Alesia where Caesar utterly destroyed gallic resistance by defeating their army in 52 BC. Beside the Pinot Gris which is the vinery grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Auxerrois and César. Alluding to the battle of Alesia the wine bottle is roughly in the shape of an amphora.

The Malvoisie from Domaine Grisard was bought in Mens, where I bought the Verdesse as well. At first I was not sure which grape variety hid behind the Malvoisie, as there are many grape varieties using this name, like the Frühroter Veltliner or the rare Malvasia bianca di Piemonte. But the Domaine put the real grape variety on the back label and they must know, because they also grow vines for sale in their pepiniere viticole.

Fresh from the fridge:
Vin de Savoie: Pear, light muscat-note, chalk. Soft, off-dry.
Coteaux de L’Auxois: light peach, apple core, green hazelnut, rape honey. Strong acidity with light bitter note.

Room temperature:
Vin de Savoie: Pear, dried Mango, fresh and ripe Mangop as well, some beeswax. Light peppery finish.
Coteaux de l’Auxois: light button mushrooms with mustard. Savoury, raspberry vinaigrette.

I’d serve them with:
Vin de Savoie: pan seared scallops
Coteaux de l’Auxois: Plate of Charcuterie

Two days later:
Vin de Savoie: pear williams, fresh ripe mango, light pineapple. Sweetness more pronounced.
Coteaux de l’Auxois: Mustard, pear, unripe mango, light onion. Acidic.

The winner is the wine from the Alps though i must admit that the interesting flavors from the burgundy were unique.

Bouzeron A&P. de Villaine Battle 1998 vs 2002 vs 2004

Bouzeron 2004

Burgundy is known for the two main grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but these are not the only ones! The third and fourth place go to Gamay noir a jus blanc and Aligoté. The latter has its own Appellation in Burgundy, the Bourgogne Aligoté AOC. The wines are light, acidic and are mainly used for mixing with Créme de Cassis to make there famous Kir. A special designated area for Aligoté is the Bouzeron AOC, a small area around the Village of Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise. All the wines are 100% Aligoté but don’t have to mention the grape variety since the 1998 vintage.

The first names that piop up when researching Bouzeron are the famous co-owners of Domaine de Romanée-Conti, Aubert and Pamela de Villaine. Here they have their own vinery where they produce good wines for affordable prices, despite their name.

The 1998 vintage, the first for the Bouzeron AOC is seen as difficult for whites because the wines generally lacked acidity which is important for maturing. The Aligoté has more than enough of it, maybe this can even it out.

The 2002 vintage is said to be a good white wine year with enough acidity and concentration.

2004 sees higher yields with lower sugar content in the must and high acidity.

Just to see, how other producers of Aligoté might fare in a competitive tasting I included the 2002 Vieilles Vignes made by Château du Cary Potet, also from the Côte Chalonnaise region whom I first met at my first visit to the wine fair in Lille.

Let the Battle begin:

1998 Bouzeron, de Villaine:

Cloudy bottle

Oxidative nose: Sherry, Soy sauce, mineral acidity with german Christstollen with raisins and marzipan on the finish.

Using the Eisch-Riesling glass the oxidative notes disappear revealing cilantro with roots and mandarine.

2002 Bouzeron, de Villaine:

 

Fresh from the fridge the wine shows light button mushrooms and honey. Reminds me of a young Chenin Blanc from the Loire. It is followed by chalk and cooked apples. Softer and with more weight than the 98, light peppery finish.

2002 Aligoté de Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes, Cary Potet:

 

Clotted milk with fresh grapes. Lighter than the Bouzeron. On the palate oxidative Soy sauce and Sherry, light raw apple and raisin.

2004 Bouzeron, de Villaine:

 

Light chalk and apple nose. On the palate light oxidative note. Sunflower oil, wholemeal bread and dried apple aftertaste. Softer than the 2002.

The 1998 Bouzeron unfortunately was a bit too old. I preferred the 2002 Bouzeron. In comparison, the Vieilles Vignes were less concentrated and more matured. 2004 was more simple, mirroring the simpler vintage. All in all I found the Aligoté difficult for laying down.

2007 Petite Arvine – Les Coteaux de Serre – Serge Heymoz

One of the not too rare grape varieties from the Alps is Petite Arvine. Mainly grown in Switzerland, and here in the Region of Valais. Some can be found in neighboring Val d’Aoste in Italy. At least two Domaines in France grow the Petite Arvine as well, the famous Aimé Guibert of Daumas Gassac and Hildegard Horat of Grange de Quatre Sous, both from the Languedoc region.

Petite Arvine wines are said to age good with a nice acidity and the telltale mark of salty taste. Definitely a grape variety with a future, as can be seen by its growing influence in the Valais vineyards: 1991 saw just 39ha which by 2012 had risen to 166ha.

 

The Vinery Serge Heymoz – Cave les Sentes has been founded in the 1980s in Sierre. Sierre being one of the middle sized wine producing villages of the Valais. Apart from Valais classics like Chasselas and Pinot Noir Serge cultivates other indigenous grape varieties like Rèze or Humagne Rouge. The wines are VITIVAL-certified.

On the nose: different types of grapefruit, starting with white then moving to pink and ripe. Also butter and honey.

On the palate: Light residual sugars, tending to off-dry. Soft acidity with light salty finish. Grapefruit aftertaste which gets underlined by light bitter note.

Later grapefruit gets company from these little spanish green peppers.

It was quite surprising to see this soft white wine in a really fruity way after 5 years in bottle. No oxidative notes, even though it lacked acidity. There are still 5 bottles lying in my cellar. I think we might see those pop up here in this blog again.