Create a 2,000 hectare farm on marshlands that used to be part of Austria’s biggest lake, let your Pinot Grigio vineyard run wild without any pruning, harvest, then ferment in concrete eggs with the skins for three weeks.
Here’s a fittingly off-piste wine to mark my first review for The Morning Claret. Domaine Sainte Croix was created in 2004 by an English couple, Jon and Elizabeth Bowen. Jon used to be a globe-trotting winemaker, Elizabeth an agricultural economist. They dreamed of making wine in Languedoc or Roussillon, and searched rather specifically for land
We’re in an age where it’s not just small artisan wineries experimenting with minimal intervention, low sulphur and extended skin contact in white wines. The big guys want to play too. And why not? When the results are as fascinating as Domäne Wachau’s amphora fermented Riesling, I’m all for it.
“Sorry, but this is absolutely nuts!”, says one member of our group during a visit to restaurant/apartment/winery Bina 37, and he’s merely stating what everyone else is thinking. We’re talking with Zura Natroshvili, a medical doctor turned traditional winemaker. Well, almost traditional. Most winemakers don’t install their cellars on the 8th floor of a city residential block.
Tricky things these artisan-made natural wines. Some days they sing, others they sulk. I presented 17 orange wines to a large group of Dutch sommeliers back in May, and although there were gems, many of the classics just weren’t showing their best. La Castellada’s Ribolla Gialla and COS’s Pithos Bianco seemed particularly grumpy, passing muster
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.
Supernatural is the project of globe trotting Gregory Collinge, and Green Glow is the estate’s skin fermented Sauvignon Blanc. This 2015 is by far and away their best effort yet, it really blew me away. And yes folks, the label glows in the dark!
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.