Dive Bouteille – wine tasting under the hills of Saumur

Feb 08, 15 Dive Bouteille – wine tasting under the hills of Saumur

Posted by in All

I was on Day 2 of my natural, biodynamic and organic wine tasting trip in the Loire and today we were in the town of Saumur for the 16th annual Dive Bouteille tasting. The Dive tasting is the oldest and most important natural wine tasting around. It was originally started by producers who wanted to showcase their wines outside of the annual Loire Valley Salon de Vins and has expanded to include wines from all over the world. The tasting took place under the hills of Saumur in the caves of Loire valley producer Ackerman wines. Ackerman are not organic, natural or biodynamic but the caves are amazing, with very high ceilings. The troglodyte caves are carved out of the tuffeau rock of the region and are used for art installations and exhibitions. The caves are strategically lit with coloured lights all of which make it a funky venue for a natural wine tasting. The lions share of producers were from France but there were also producers from Italy, Spain, Georgia, Serbia, The US, Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa and even sake from Japan. The Loire Valley was well represented but some of the most intriguing producers were from the US and Australia. Granted, they were not heavily represented but the few that I found had provocative wines. La Garagista’s wine maker Deirdre Heekin aims to put Vermont wines on the map. Deirdre is definitely of the no-intervention school of winemaking. Her vines are organic and she uses hybrids that are bred to thrive in cold climates. Cybele, La Crescent, Marquette and Frontenac  are the main grapes she uses. I first tried her sparkling wine made from the Cybele grape. It was relatively dry with good acidity. I didn’t know what to expect so this made for a pleasant surprise. I next tried the Frontenac. I was a bit dubious about red wine from such a cool climate but the Frontenac  had weight and body to it was well as a black fruit profile. Deirdre and her...

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Tasting natural, organic and biodynamic wines at the Renaissance des Appellations Greniers St. Jean

Feb 05, 15 Tasting natural, organic and biodynamic wines at the Renaissance des Appellations Greniers St. Jean

Posted by in All

What is ‘natural’ wine, exactly? Is it wine that is made without intervention – and what exactly does that mean? Is it wine that only has sulfur added at bottling? Or wine that has no added sulfur whatsoever? Or is it wine that is organically/biodynamically grown? After spending the weekend in the Loire at two of the biggest organic, biodynamic, natural wine tastings in France, I still don’t know what makes a wine ‘natural’ but it was interesting to taste through those wines. There were lots of hits but also some misses. Personally, I don’t like so called ‘natural’ wines and that term is a massive turn off for me. Wine is by definition a man made product. Grapes don’t usually pick, crush, ferment and bottle themselves, so I’m a bit suspicious of those ‘natural’ wine people. When I first was introduced to natural wines, many years ago, I was intrigued but since then I’ve had way too many faulty ‘natural’ wines to automatically think ‘natural’ means better or quality wines.  I admit I wasn’t going into these tastings with a very open mind but as I was there and had paid to get in, I should at least give them a try. The first tasting I attended was the Renaissance des Appellations Greniers St. Jean in Angers, France. The tasting is made of a group of mainly French winemakers with a smattering of other European countries included all of who are at the very least are organic and have to tend their vines in a biodynamic way. Some of the producers there called themselves natural wine makers, some didn’t.  Things are a bit murky when it comes to being certified biodynamic and some producers don’t want the certification because if they have to deviate one year from biodynamic principles they lose their certification and have to start the process all over again. I’ve always been drawn to producers who grow and make their wine biodynamically. When I taste these wines, I usually find...

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Hey, Vini Italiani, what’s up?

May 14, 12 Hey, Vini Italiani, what’s up?

Posted by in Italy, wine bars

You don’t have to go far from the UK to find exciting wines and wine regions. It’s easy to forget sometimes that we are very lucky to have access to wines from all over the world. We have so many great wine shops here. I was reminded of this last week when some Texan wine blogging friends of mine were in town and we decided to do a bit of wine tasting. We visited only a few but they were quite  impressed by the range of wines and wine shops in London. One of the shops we visited was the Italian wine specialist Vini Italiani. I like that name, if you say it out loud, it sounds like you’re referring to your friend Vinny. As in “Yo, Vinny! What’s  up?” Anyway. Italy is one of my favourite wine countries because I’m always discovering a new wine or variety or sometimes, both!  Everyone knows Barolo and Chianti, perhaps Nero d’Avola  and, of course, the ubiquitous pinot grigio but there are so many other varieties and wines waiting to be discovered. I had never been to Vini Italiani but had heard about it via Twitter and Facebook and it looked like they might have an interesting selection. What attracted me more then anything were the enomatic machines. I think they are a great attraction in any wine shop and certainly make the prospect of wine shopping a lot more fun. For those of you who are not familiar with the machines or haven’t had the opportunity to use them, they are basically wine dispensing machines which use a chip and pin type card to purchase the wine. You put on a set amount of money on the card and then slip it into the machine and make your choice. The machines dispense the wines in 3 different sizes, at Vini Italiani it was 25ml, 50 mls and 75 mls, all at various price points depending on the price of the bottle, which gets deducted from the...

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Hairy armpits and the guilty pleasures dinner

Back in February I had a guilty pleasures dinner at my house with some of my foodie blogger friends. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again. Bibendum Dan (aka The Boy) and I got to chatting about what wines we should bring along. At first we had visions of  Blue Nun and pricy claret but then Dan was hit by inspiration – why not bring some esoteric wines, mix it up a bit.  What about some of those crazy, extreme, ‘hairy armpit’ wines – you know, the ones made with grapes gone wild, no rows of vines, no filtering, no sulphur, just pure old grape juice.   So, armed with two of the hairiest armpit red wines I could find in Artisan&Vine, I showed up at Eatlikeagirl ‘s doorstep one wet and wild nite.  We sampled the Contadino #5  2005 from the slopes of Mt Etna – about as natural a wine as you can get. Made by the winemaker, Frank Cornelissen, this one is unsulphured and a bit unstable. Retail £16.50 And from La Casot des Mailloles, the La Poudre d’escampette ’07. Alain Castex farms his vines on the slopes of Banyuls and  let’s his vines run wild amongst the herbs and wild flowers of the hills. It’s all in there. This wine is given a dose of sulphur on bottling but it’s still pretty wild. Retail £19.90 What did we think…… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Berry Brothers joins the Twitterati-TTL and biodynamic wines

Berry Brothers & Rudd, only the oldest wine merchant in the world, wine purveyor to The Queen, rumoured to have  labrynthine cellars that stretch from St. James to Buckingham Palace – Has joined the twitterati. Not only have they joined the twitterati @winematters , they even did a Twitter Taste live from said cellars last week. The Winesleuth and Wine90 couldn’t make it to the cellars (we don’t like spiders) so we settled in at my house, anxiously awaiting the DHL guy who delivered the wines and then joined in via Twitter. This wasn’t any old wine tasting, it was a biodynamic wine tasting. I didn’t know this but BBR carry an extensive range of organic and now biodynamic wines. Are biodynmic wines any better or worse?  We were the judge. There were 3 wines on tasting: 2007   Mâcon, Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon (Stelvin) — Héritiers du Comte Lafon  £11.95 2006   Vacqueyras, Garrigues, Domaine Montirius — Montirius — France  £11.95 2006   L’As, Coteaux du Languedoc, Mas Conscience — Mas Conscience — France £15.40 Here’s what we thought of the Vacqueyras… A big thanks to Berry Brothers & Rudd and to Rob over at WineConversation for inviting us and getting the wines to my house just in time! Follow us on twitter! @winematters  (BBR’s tweets) @thewinesleuth  @wine90 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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