Sunday, September 28, 2008

Arrived: Tardy and Verdet

Two days after our return from Italy 'my' first Burgundies arrived: the domaines Tardy and Verdet.

Tardy is hard to find, and hard to get. It is sold in the Far East, in the U.S. (if they can still afford it) and in the U.K. at Berry Bros. and Rudd. On continental Europe it is only to be found at Alain Ducasse's three star restaurants in Paris and Monaco. And since this week also in Amsterdam. At Bolomey Wijnimport.

Vosne-Romanée from Domaine Jean TardyVOSNE-ROMANEE "VIGNEUX" 2006 FROM DOMAINE JEAN TARDY & FILS (THE SON IS GUILLAUME, AND HE'S THE ONE IN CHARGE NOW)

For more details about this wine I refer to an earlier posting.

The other wines come from the Hautes-Côtes village of Arcenant. Beautifully balanced organic whites. The last days I threw two tastings (that's also why I keep it short this time) and it was great to see customers react to the Burgundy blanc. Then it almost seems that one is doing good (just) by selling wine.

Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits from Aurélien VerdetBOURGOGNE HAUTES-COTES DE NUITS FROM AURELIEN VERDET, THE BIGGER SISTER OF THE BOURGOGNE BLANC

More about this domain also in an earlier posting.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Visit to Grattamacco

Back in Amsterdam. Experiencing a tiny post-vacation dip. No hills at the horizon. No rolling vineyard covered hills.

I think about our visit to Grattamacco, in the Southern part of the Tuscany coast, the Maremma; the Bolgheri wine region. Relatively young, absolutely beautiful.

The view from Grattamacco is simply stunning: at the one side woolly hills with trees, and just here and there grown with vines. At the other side the lowlands, eventually running into the azure blue sea.

View from Podere GrattamaccoTHE VIEW FROM GRATTAMACCO

Tonight we will – undoubtedly effectively – fight our dip with good pizza and the second wine from Podere Grattamacco: Bolgheri Rosso. Grattamacco is one of the so-called Super Tuscans. But Grattamacco is also small, and not as well-known as neighbouring Sassicaia and Ornellaia.

The rise of Bolgheri as a wine region started with Sassicaia (meaning "stony soil"), the wine created in the mid 20th century by Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, a marquis from the Northern (wine) region Piemonte with a passion for French wine.

All grand Bolgheri wines – more or less – sprout from the idea behind Sassicaia: simply said to enrich the Tuscany wines with French class – work with French grape varieties and French oak, and use French winemaking principles. And this in combination with the warm and dry climate of the Maremma, and the well-drained red soils of the maritime hills (rocky topsoil on an alluvial subsoil).

Sassicaia started off as a private thing, Incisa experimenting at the Tuscan coast with his French toolkit. It took a few decades(!) before the wine was brought to the market, in 1968. Today you won’t find Sassicaia below a hundred euro’s. Much later Ornellaia was created by Antinori (from Chianti).

Grattamacco: the different winesGRATTAMACCO, L'ALBERELLO (SAME STYLE, DIFFERENT SOIL), SECOND WINE BOLGHERI ROSSO, AND WHITE GRATTAMACCO FROM 100% VERMENTINO. THIS DRY WHITE (14% ALC.): ROUND, INTENSE, HONEY, EXCITING, COMBINE WITH PESTO

But the second wine created after Sassicaia was Grattamacco; it was started in 1977 by Piermario Meletti Cavallari from Milano, the first commercial vintage followed in the year 1982. The domain covers 11 hectare. From the grand estates only Grattamacco is fully organic. A few months ago I tasted the 2003 (also in Tuscany a hot and difficult vintage) and I was impressed, now I tasted the 2005 and again I was impressed.

The Grattamacco is a French-Italian marriage of 65% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot and 15% sangiovese. The latter giving freshness and liveliness to the wine, the role that is played by the cabernet franc in Bordeaux.

Grattamacco: small fermentation vatsTHE SMALL WOODEN FERMENTATION VATS AT GRATTAMACCO ARE BEING PREPARED FOR THE 2008 VINTAGE

Other than with most wines in Bordeaux, during fermentation the juice is not pumped over (remontage), but manually stirred (pieage). This happens in small wooden fermentation vats that are unique for Grattamacco. In general there’s hardly any pumping involved here: the destemmer is simply placed above these small fermentation vats, and after fermentation the young wine naturally flows into the barriques in a cellar deep underground. There the wine ages for 18 months on 100% new French oak.

GRATTAMACCO'S AGEING CELLAR: BIG HOLES IN THE WALL ENSURE THE CELLAR CAN BREATH, INTERACTS WITH THE SURROUNDING HUMID SOIL

Grattamacco combines seduction (yes, chocolate!) and stylishness, an elegant teaser so to speak. Suave, intense, ripe, dark. Very lovely wine, beautifully balanced.

In my previous posting I already mentioned my "favourite enoteca" in Castagneta Carducci, the village close to Grattamacco. It is Enoteca Castagnetana from Francesco Toninelli (Via Cavour 21). Not on the main road, thus better prices and better stories! And by the way, Francesco's father owns a restaurant with a terrace that has the most beautiful view you can imagine. Happiness is complete when you take a look in the wine list… the name: Ristorante Il Vecchio Frantoio. "Cucina Tipica Castagnetana", with wild boar from the surrounding mountains. Not to miss.

FRANCESCO TONINELLI FROM ENOTECA CASTAGNETANA IN CASTAGNETO CARDUCCI

Finally: thanks to Maria Genova from La Strada del Vino for all explanations!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Visit to Tuscany's Maremma

Dear readers, give me a break. The next two weeks me and my computer will be separated, as much as possible at least. I think that's healthy. But the thought of doing no postings also gives me a somewhat uncomfortable feeling: maybe readers will walk away from a blog that remains idle for more than two weeks. But well, I will have to take that risk.

I will be visiting the Maremma. Tuscany's fascinating young wine region near the sea (sea is mare in Italian). With the renown production area Bolgheri, named after the tiny little village in the plains. But I rather visit neighbouring picturesque hillside village Castagneto Carducci. There I will find some great bottles at my favourite enoteca − later I will share with you name and address.

Besides being a wine region, this part of Italy is one of the most beautiful and heavenly places in Europe. I can't wait to go. And luckily I don't have to.

Maybe I will share some wine experience with you in the coming weeks. I'm sure I will be drinking great stuff like Grattamacco (de-li-cious) or their second wine, simply called Bolgheri Rosso; or Sassicaia's second wine "Guidalberto", or third wine "Le Difese". Or Le Macchiole. Anyway, many very interesting wines to taste!

I'll be back. Thanks for your patience.