On Saturday 16th Feb we have the rare pleasure of a visit from Nic Coturri and Dan Marioni, stopping off in London on their way back from the Loire. Nic and Dan will be showing their current vintage and we’ll be tapping into a keg of their 2017 Merlot. Dry farmed, organic fruit, nothing added or taken away in the cellar. Read more here.
Co-fermented Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from argilo-calcareous soils in Southern Rhone. Sourced through Christophe’s work as a negociant. Grapes are hand-harvested, 95% destemmed, 40 days maceration and 11 months in inox prior to bottling. Organic fruit, pure zerozero (nothing added, nothing taken away.) Savoury, herbaceous, super-quaffable.
2/Guillot Broux, Marisa 2017
A new cuvée for a new AOC (Bourgogne Gamay) from this venerable estate; some of the region’s very oldest organic vines, farmed as such since the 50s. Unoaked 86% gamay, 15% pinot noir, from densely planted vines, highly concentrated fruit with sour cherry acidity and green crunch.
3/Guillot Broux, Mâcon Villages Blanc 2016
Citrus, chalky chardonnay, brought-in grapes for this cuvee, from exclusively organic vineyards (or in process of conversion.) A foot in the door and a threshold wine before progressing onto Guillot-Broux’s more pricey cuvees (such as Combettes, their domaine Mâcon Villages), we love this for the way it plays off cream vs clarity and for showcasing the steely-sharp vinification we know from Emmanuel. 6 months in oak, six months in vat.
Ft. Sonoma Mtn. Winery, Domaine Vinci, Mani di Luna.
**Every Saturday, from 9am-pm find our bottle shop open at Arch 2, Spa Terminus market, SE16 4RP. Each week, we’ll have 3 of our wines open to taste. This week’s line up is as follows.**
1/ Sonoma Mtn. Winery, Testa Field Blend ’17 (Barbera, Carignane, Zinfandel)
Known as the fire vintage, made from old vine, dry farmed fruit picked the day before the ’17 wine county fires started; and pressed just after it ended. The only wine in Nic’s collection to work with fruit from the venerable Testa family vineyards, Mendocino County. A field blend by name, this is a nervy, sideways-on homage to the Testa and Coturri forefathers’ old Italian winemaking traditions. Separate blocks, then co-fermented over two weeks and aged in neutral French oak. Nothing added, nothing taken away.
2/ Domaine Vinci, Coste ’15 (Mourvedre)
From Olivier Varichon’s parcel of that name, up amongst the garrigue and the very large stones of the particularly forbidding Agly Valley, Roussillon. Up here, it’s the yellow, and the red, spiders’ domain. This is a young, unusually silky Mourvedre with bright green tracery, thanks to the whole bunch fermentation. 4/5 weeks fermentation post foot-pressing, then racked and left on lees for a further six months, then into old barriques for 18 months. Unfined and unfiltered.
3/Mani di Luna, Ametistas ’16
Strong structured orange from biodynamically-farmed 40 year old Grecchetto vines, whose soils are rich in minerals from lake Tiberium. 50% pressed whole cluster on a vertical press; the other 50% de-stemmed by hand, then macerated on the skins for 3-4 days and spontaneously fermentation over 2-3 weeks in steel. Aged 9-10 months on lees, unfined and unfiltered.
An extreme parcel of natural winemaking
This plot is an experiment, says Jerome Bourgeois-Diaz. We will try to do no ploughing here. Instead. we’ve laid down a paillage – a layer of wood fragments – over the vines which will feed the structure and balance of the soil, decomposing into a rich humus over several years, without having to disturb it. Because – soil doesn’t need intervention to work. This is at the root of Fukuoka‘s thinking, a system otherwise known as ‘do nothing agriculture’. Here, the best soil is an undisturbed virgin soil, a deeply mysterious system of naturally occurring, symbiotic layers, tilled at a micro-organic level by earthworms. Self-cultivating.
The moment we start to work this soil, we disrupt its organic composition, and undo what system has established itself there. There’s the thinking at as soon as the soil is exposed to light, it’s goodness is lost – and if you are constantly plowing, then more and more soil is being unearthed. After 5 years – all of your soil is topsoil. All ploughing, according to Fukuoka, is intervention – so where does that leave a minimal interventionist, or zerozero winemaker?
Do nothing agriculture is at the extreme point of natural winemaking. And not ploughing is tough. But think how increasingly, winemakers are taking machinery out of their vineyards. Increasingly, horses – gentler hooves, less compacting of the soil, lesser intervention – are returning to the rows. Increasingly, too, those rows are being ploughed less and less – as winemakers balance the ploughing positives with the ploughing negatives and arrive at their own manageable ratio.
There’s no right answer. But there should always be questions. And curious farmers and winemakers surely make the wines- or in Jerome’s case, zero dosage, biodynamic, austere and glacial terroir champagnes – that keep our palates alive.
A TALE OF TWO VINEYARDS
For Cipriano Barsanti winemaking is about interpreting a place. And each place is different.
Cipriano Barsanti stands in his vineyard, Macea, in the shadow of the Apuan Alps, holding a wild carrot. Not a vegetable but a herb, the wild carrot, pungent and aromatic. Look, says Cipriano, feel how damp its roots are – this is working for us. He gestures at the mass of wild herbs and grasses growing among the vines around him, their roots acting to lock moisture into the fast-draining schistous soil. They are crucial to the wine that ends up in the bottle, nourishing the vines and managing stress levels so that roots don’t grow too deep, staying instead in the middle ground. The middle soil, says Antonio, Cipriano’s brother, is where the flavour is and from where the character of their wine derives its sense of place.
But ‘Cipo’ (to his friends) is not only talking about wild carrots. He’s using them as an example of what he believes winemaking is about, at its heart – interpretation. Seeding wild carrot in his vineyard was just one of many possible routes into a place, and towards the identity of a wine. Here, at Macea, where he and his brother Antonio were born, and where they have been making what we believe is indisputably world-class wines for 20 years, Cipo’s form of interpretation is well-established. He knows the place like he knows himself, and he knows, just as easily as he can look at a blue sky and predict rain in the afternoon – what his wines should look like. But it is not always so easy.
Read more on Medium.
GROWER + GROWER CHAMPAGNE
Champagne Bourgeois-Diaz tasting 29th October
This is Jérome Bourgeois Diaz, who makes biodynamic champagne. When we recently tasted his Rose de Saignée, a cuvée made from 100% old-vine Pinot Meunier, 24 hours skin contact, 30% barrel press and the remainder fermented in stainless steel, we scrambled our ideas about champagne. Garnet-red; both tensity and languor – it told us we wanted his cuvées in our stable.
On 29th October, Jerome will be in London with a host of fellow organic-certified champagne mavericks – – at London’s first official organic champagne tasting. This is open both trade and public. (more…)
SPA TERMINUS TASTING TABLE 08/09
AMERIGHI HAS LANDED
The stuff of legends on our tasting table for this Saturday, just landed Syrah ‘15 from Stefano Amerighi. Back in 2002, Stefano finished with political science and embarked on visionary Syrah project in the Cortona countryside. Extensive and minute research brought him to 7ha of hillside, blessed with an aspect and soil profile which seemed to finally answer his calculations. Poggiobella di Farneta was just raw terroir but, no matter, Stefano baptised it a cru – and went off to the Rhone to personally select the first Syrah cuttings to plant there. Cycle on a decade and a half of maniacal work, and Poggiobella di Farneta is now a biodynamic vineyard and model of thriving polyagriculture. Vines, cereals, vegetables, one of the world’s oldest cattle breeds…our kind of utopia. Stefano’s political science theory seems to have gratifyingly fed into a model for a better way of living which – naturally – also produces a noble and magisterial wine.
We’ll be opening the Syrah ‘15, with the ‘14 also available; alongside a stunning oxidative chenin from Pascal and Beatrice Lambert and Mani di Luna’s Sangiovese Rosso.
ANCESTREL VISIT SONOMA 07.18
2.5 days, 18 time zones, many bottles and (almost) zero sleep: one crazy itinerary, but worth it for the people and for the wines behind us on the slow boat back to London; for the unforgettable sight of a region recovering from wildfires that turned the horizon black and erased many old vines and livelihoods.
But for all the devastation, there’s a deep kind of acceptance here. After all, this is zerozero country — the extreme core of natural winemaking in CA — where nature holds sway and the winemakers don’t baulk at the cards they’re dealt. Wildfires are just a particularly extreme example of the precariousness of a livelihood which they know well. And if anyone could shrug off the loss of a home, vines and persevere on, it’s father/daughter winemakers like Lore and Skyla Olds of Sky winery, who have actively chosen to be mastered by nature. And us? Well, if we ever needed a reminder of what it means to partner with and invest in enterprises like this, this was it.
Read more on Medium
MACEA X RAW DUCK
5th AUGUST 6 TIL LATE
Join us for a Tuscan classic with Cipriano of Macea at Raw Duck, Hackney on 5th August. Expect a marathon of BBQ roast pig and Tuscan natural wines until the hog is gone and the bottles are empty. There’s a reason Cipriano calls this The Olympigs.
Cipriano grew up in Macea and has been farming its vines biodynamically since 2003. It’s a magic place, dropped down the side of a valley between the Apennines and the Apuan Alps.
On Tuesday 24 July and Wednesday 25 July, we welcome Nic Coturri and the Sonoma Mtn Winery crew as they stop off in London on their way through old Europe from California.
This is the very first showing in the UK of the Sonoma Mtn Winery wines — for our money some of the most exciting and unclassifiable wines coming out of the West Coast in a generation. It’s a one-afternoon only chance to taste through some sold-out vintages, plus preview what we’re releasing in September.