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.
This is an updated and significantly longer version of an article which originally appeared in Issue 2/2017 of Meininger’s Wine Business International with additional input from Joseph di Blasi, and Geoff Cowey. And yes, another outing for that photo…. Imagine a yoghurt manufacturer decides one day that using predictable, laboratory cultured lactic bacteria to create their
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.
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.
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. But times are changing and one adventurous Dutch wine merchant “Andere Wijn” has hugely expanded their Georgian range.
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.