Old Man of La Mancha – de Sol a Sol Airén 2011

Never mind the special six course foraged dinner “010 020 Het Wilde”, cooked by a crack team of chefs from Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The star of the show for me was de Sol a Sol – a thrilling, profound orange wine which transcends its seemingly extreme method of production – 403 days of skin contact!

A fiery Roter Traminer from Tauss

I’ve featured wines from several of the Schmecke das Leben producers in this series, but not Tauss until now. Roland and Alice Tauss are perhaps the least well known winery in the group, partly due to their very small size – there’s a mere 6 hectares of vines at their bucolic estate in Southern Styria.

Deep down in a Georgian qvevri – Vinoterra Rkatsiteli 2011

The spiritual and traditional nub of Georgian winemaking is the qvevri – a clay, amphora like vessel buried in the ground and described by Josko Gravner as “a womb for the wine”. Wellmade qvevri white wines can be revelatory in their freshness, intensity and uniqueness. Qvevris have become hip, and producers all over the globe are buying them up. But sometimes you need to go back to the source, to find a winemaker who really knows how to make the style sing. Gogi Dakishvili is just such a chap – head winemaker at Schuchmann estate in Kakheti, Georgia.

A new discovery at the Orange Wine Festival – Erzetič Amphora Belo 2011

This autumn’s Orange wine festival (Vienna edition) was once again a busy, joyful occasion with some 80 producers from 9 countries, and 500 or more enthusiastic tasters. Many great producers were in the room, but one new discovery wowed me enough to want to share it here. Erzetič is a long established winery in Goriška Brda (effectively the Slovenian part of Friuli Collio), with 5ha of vines. Andrej Erzetič, the youngest member of the family involved in production, told me winemaking here can be traced back to 1721.

A maceration masterclass at Il Carpino – Ribolla Gialla 2011

If you want to have a masterclass in how skin contact affects white wines, there’s probably no better place than Franco and Anna Sosol’s tasting room. Il Carpino is their 17ha estate, situated on the same winding hill road as Radikon and Gravner, in Friuli Collio.

Cornelissen’s way – Making wine without sulphur

I’m delighted that this feature was awarded “Best editorial/Opinion wine writing” in the 2015 Born Digital Wine awards. It originally appeared on Tim Atkin’s website in March 2014. Mount Etna’s most controversial winemaker, Frank Cornelissen, is a hard man to track down. After a first failed meet up (my tardiness partially to blame) and a number […]

Andreas Tscheppe – Hirschkäfer Erdfass 2006

The production methods for Tscheppe’s Erdfass (“earth barrel”), also known as Hirschkäfer (Stag beetle), seem bizarre at first glance. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnary ferments on the skins for two weeks, and is then transferred into a 600 litre oak barrel which is buried in the ground over the winter months. After the winter, the barrel is dug up, the wine continues to mature and is then bottled after 24 months.

Orange weekly: Renčel – Cuvee 2001

I employ a crude rating system when I’m jotting down tasting notes in the field. A wine gets either no stars (anything from terrible to quite good), one star (very good/excellent), or very rarely two stars (outstanding). 2015’s first two star wine was Josko Renčel’s stunning white blend, simply called “cuvée”.

Orange weekly: Albert Mathier et Fils – Amphore Assemblage Blanc 2010

Valais, Switzerland isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a Georgian qvevri, but Amédée Mathier has no less than 20 of them. Since 2008, his estate Albert Mathier et Fils (he’s the extant “Fils”) has been making two amphora, or rather qvevri matured wines, one white and one red. Sorry, I mean one orange and one red!

Sweet and sour – A vertical of Chatzivaritis Goumenissa

When I was invited to taste a vertical of wines from Goumenissa, I wasn’t initially sure if that was the wine region, producer or grape variety. Goumenissa turns out to be a tiny but highly rated appellation in Macedonia (Northern Greece), not too far from its bigger brother Naoussa. Chatzivaritis Estate is one of five quality-minded […]