Iago Bitarishvili – The Chinuri Master

Chinuri is one of the more important white grape varieties indigenous to Kartli, and Iago BItarishvili is without doubt its best exponent. His focus on the grape is absolute, inviting comparison to the Vodopivec brothers in Friuli who focus solely on their native Vitovska. Iago makes two Chinuri wines, one with and one without skin contact.

A new generation in Friuli: Draga – Ribolla Gialla “Natural Art” 2011

In November 2014, I met five winemakers at a small tasting in San Floriano del Collio. Quietly spoken and rather shy, Mitja Miklus from the Draga estate seemed to blend into the background. But this young chap is smart – he doesn’t need to adopt the bluster of a salesman, his wines do the talking quite well by themselves.

La Distesa’s Corrado Dottori – the Frank Zappa of orange wine

I’m wondering around a small winery in Marche’s Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi region. Frank Zappa pours me barrel samples of bright orange juice. Any minute now, I expect him to strap on his guitar for a blistering avant-rock solo. Then I pinch myself.

OK, I’m actually at La Distesa, and this is Corrado Dottori, who makes the wonderful “Nur”, a skin fermented white blend.

Albita – an orange wine from Peru

It’s very fitting that the first ever wine I tasted from Peru was not just anything, but rather an orange wine made in an ultra traditional style. The winemaker is José “Pepe” Moquillaza, from Lima, and Albita de Ihuanco is his skin-fermented blend of Albilla and Italia (a Muscat crossing).

A wave of Georgian qvevri wine in Amsterdam

I’m a huge fan of Georgian qvevri wines – that’s to say, wines made in the 8,000 year old traditional manner, where grapes, skins and sometimes stems are piled into a 500 – 2,000 litre clay amphora-like vessel, buried up to its neck in the ground.

The challenge has always been how to get hold of them. A tiny amount is imported into the UK, even less to the Netherlands where I currently reside. And what little there is often ends up languishing on restaurant lists, as it’s mostly too pricey to be easily sold in shops.
But times are changing, awareness of the wines seems to be increasing (admitedly from a very low base), and one adventurous Dutch wine merchant “Andere Wijn” has hugely expanded their Georgian range.

Damijan Podversic – realising a dream

Damijan Podversic’s decision in 1999 to reject his conventional winemaking education, in favour of a more “back to the roots” style, did not sit well with his dad who denied him usage of the family’s ancestral cellar. Since then he’s developed an impressive and tradition style of skin macerated white wines, following in the footsteps of Josko Gravner.

Natural wine tasting – full wine list

For those who are interested, here’s the full list of wines that Andrew Jefford, Sarah Jane Evans MW and myself tasted blind, for the Decanter natural wine tasting 2017. Wines with an asterisk next to them were scored 90 points or higher by at least one taster. Wines with two asterisks appeared in the magazine […]

Muscat Ottonel, a love story

Sometimes the path of true love really does alter everything. When Austrian Martin Lichtenberger and Spaniard Adrianna Gonzalez met in 2007, during their winemaking studies in California, they might not have predicted that they’d soon be making wine together on another continent. Not to mention a skin contact Muscat Ottonel (an orange wine).