“What’s the point of experimenting? We know how to make really good wine. Why do we want to throw away the formula and do something different?” Hugh Johnson, interviewed in the Washington Post, October 2016. Recently I’ve been wondering whether the whole arena of natural wines was becoming so mainstream, tolerated and understood that maybe there […]
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!
It’s a great joy to finally discover a true “orange wine” that retails (just) under the €10 mark (in the Netherlands). Poggio Argentiera’s “Ansonica Bucce” is that wine.
Inzolia fermented on the skins and aged in cement.
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!
Elementis 2014, like its predecessors, is 100% Chenin Blanc, fermented on the skins for 3 weeks and then matured in used French oak for 9-10 months. Jurgen gets incredible freshness and concentration from his dry farmed fruit. That’s given this wine a lightness of touch and purity that is quite startling.
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.
“The really big change was when I tasted the wine. It was something completely new, totally different and exciting. It made me crazy, just tasting it.”
This is how Stanko Radikon describes the life changing moment in 1995 which prompted him to change the family’s entire wine production to what we now know and love as “orange wines”.
Some interesting Austria producers are well nigh invisible to the English speaking world, and at a guess this is why I’d never heard of Michael Andert (Andert Wein) until late last year. His tiny estate (4ha) in Burgenland (Easterly Austria, near the Hungarian border) has been certified biodynamic since 2003, and the white wines are all fermented on their skins.
You can tell a great winemaker not by what they produce in a good year, but by what they pull together from a catastrophic one. And it didn’t get much worse than Dario Prinčič’s 2008 vintage, where some 90% of his harvest was infected with Peronospora (downy mildew). Prinčič salvaged a pitiful amount of grapes, blended the entire output together and made a one off – the aptly named “Favola”, meaning fable or legend.
There are a small number of winemakers out there who defy any attempt at categorisation, apart from superlatives. Elisabetta Foradori is one. She’s the darling of the Italian biodynamic wine movement, an early convert to amphorae, and a peerless exponent of long skin maceration for white wines. But it feels clumsy to describe Foradori’s output with such limiting terms and techniques.