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.

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).

The dreaded Palomino – Daterra Viticultores

Tasting at a busy wine fair is hard. Where to go, what to taste? Did I miss something mindblowing amidst the crowds? A tall, rather statuesque lady with impressive dreadlocks grabs my attention. I offer my best/only Portuguese “Posso provar os vinhos brancos?”, she retaliates with a stream of Spanish. I catch the word “Galicia” and little else. The owner of the dreads is Laura Lorenzo, Daterra Viticultores, Galicia.

Tasting orange wines with Hugh Johnson

I’m not sure that I have heroes anymore – and those I once had were certainly not wine writers. That said, if I did, and if they were, Hugh Johnson OBE would be a candidate. Several of his books are on my shelf, and his writings have accompanied my entire journey into wine over the last 25 […]

The unknown Austria – Part 2

For the introduction to this tasting, please see Part 1. Orange Interlude Austria shares borders with Northern Italy and Slovenia – both parts of the world with a long tradition of using extended skin maceration in white wine. So it’s no surprise that Austrian winemakers have taken to this style enthusiastically, with some now well […]

The unknown Austria – Part 1

A year living in the small Austrian town of Eisenstadt developed my considerable love not just for one of its natives, but also for the restrained and elegant wines. The issue? Availability of many of the greatest wines is pretty sparse, or even non-existent outside Austria itself. Inevitably, if a restaurant in London or Amsterdam lists […]

Julien Meyer – Petit Fleur – Muscat de Maceration 2015

Patrick Meyer is the winemaker at the family owned Julien Meyer domaine in Northerly Alsace (Nothalten to be precise). He’s been in the saddle for a while – since 1982 in fact. The domaine has been farmed biodynamically (Demeter certified) since 1985, and Patrick spurns all additives including sulphur. More on that subject later!

Chameleon Chardonnay: Save our Souls “Skin on Skin” 2015

Exhibit A today is a 100% Chardonnay from a hip Aussie winemaking duo – William Downie, who became infamous for his $100 Pinot Noir in 2013, and compatriot Jason Searle, together “Save our Souls”. The fruit hails from the relatively cool climate Mornington Peninsula area, and was treated with the utmost respect – whole bunch fermentation in tank, with no additions of any kind, excepting a pinch of SO2 at bottling.

Prosecco col esterno – Costadilà 280slm

White, red and rosé wines can have bubbles – so why not orange? It hadn’t crossed my mind that such a fascinating sub-genre might exist, but it does. Ernesto Cattel might well have been one of the first to bring it to market – his Costadilà estate on the Northern slopes of Valdobbiadene was founded in 2006, to showcase the more traditional face of Prosecco.

Work in progress: Rossidi Orange 2015

Rossidi winery is the brainchild of Edward and Rosie Kourian, who make wine together with their friend and consultant winemaker Peter Georgiev. Rossidi are one of a very few producers in Bulgaria who are daring, playful and savvy about what 21st century consumers might like – Eddie’s character runs through everything from his self-confessed “extravagant” satorial style to the beautiful self-designed labels. I tried their wines at a large tasting in Plovdiv last October. They were a breath of fresh air amongst many rather clumsy, oak-monsters.