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Exploring Wine Myself

My visit to Eric Taillet

Eric Taillet is a champagne grower based in Vallée de la Marne.  As you might expect from this area his speciality is making Champagne based on the grape Pinot Meunier.  Sometimes as single blend (known as a blanc de noir, and sometimes with the other classic Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

Vallée de la Marne is one of the sub regions of Champagne (and the largest) and is probably most recognised for growing Pinot Meunier.  Pinot Meunier begins bud burst and flower set a week or so later than Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.  This time difference is critical, because it dramatically reduces the risk of frost killing the vine when it begins to awaken.  To a blend therefore, it can offer some much-needed quantity of grapes.  But in taste and texture profile it can also offer some softness and fruitiness to the party.  Pinot Meunier was once seen as an inferior grape variety in Champagne, but this is not the case today.  Vallée de la Marne  is a complex and evolving area with soils containing more marls, sand or clay than the classic chalk associated with Champagne region more boradly.

I remember arriving at the vineyard of Eric Taillet.  Its small and very understated, like most of the grower champagne houses.  Completely different to the houses of the big brands based in Riems or Epernay.   On arrival you see a sense of family history in the building and how as generation has passed the winery onto the future, so small improvements and innovations have been made, and yet nothing has been lost or forgotten.

To the right we have the winery.  The most notable thing is of course, the huge vertical press.  Pressing is an essential aspect of creating champagne.  The free run juice (2050 litres for every 400 kilos of grapes) must not be rushed.  Tannins and certain flavanols from the grapes will interfere with the profile of the wine.

Before the tasting we were shown the steal tanks used for first fermentation of wine.  Space is at a premium in any small winery, and here you can see how intricately everything has been designed.  There are around eight tanks.  First fermentation of sparkling wine can last anywhere from the minimum requirement of roughly four months (you cannot end first fermentation before the following January in Champagne) but in this time the first fermentation and the malolactic fermentation will complete (malolactic fermentation begins after approximately 4 to 5 weeks).

The we go down to the cellar.  Here you can feel the dampness, the humidity, and of course the chalk.  There is water on the ground, it is noticeably cooler, and there is water on the ground.  Here a second fermentation is happening in the bottles completely surrounding us.  Again, space is at a premium – everyone of these bottles is precious.  For the second fermentation a precise amount of yeast and sugar is added to the bottle (along with a little of the clarifying agent bentonight).  We need enough to get the right fizz but not too much that the bottle bursts.  Once this fermentation has occurred in the bottle, the sugar will become alcohol and carbon dioxide which cannot escape and therefore becomes the small bubbles in the wine.  The dead yeast cells have no where to go, and so they begin to decompose.  As they do, this adds a further layer of complexity to the wine.  Autolytic flavours include bread, yeast, almond nuts  Autolysis begins to happen after around nine months in the bottle, but it can continue for many years.

After disgorgement, the dosage is added.  This is the final part of the equation to balance the wine, its complexity, its acidity, and its finish.  Dosage is typically taken from the original blended wines in this vineyard.  Now we have a final product.  Back to the tasting room!  My next post will provide comprehensive tasting notes from this visit!

New Zealand wine tasting @ 67 Pall Mall

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Highlights would be a 2014 Viognier by Alpha Domus based in Hakes Bay, North Island, and two very contrasting Pinot’s.

The two pinot’s I loved were Tinker’s Field, by Rippon Vineyard, mature vines in Central Otago in  contrast to Te Whare Ra organic vineyard in Marlborough.

Marlborough and Central Otago are around 750km apart.  Central Otago is the only wine region in New Zealand to have a continental influence making the climate closer to Burgundy – it is also cooler and closer to Antarctica.

I found the Tinker’s Field to be lighter, fruit forward in style, red berries, lighter fruits, and generally a lighter style of wine / pinot.  The Te Whare Ra, was fuller in flavour and more complex, higher in alcohol with a longer finish.

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The difference in styles interested me, and I look forward to trying more Pinot in New Zealand next year.

Rioja Alta Vertical Tasting!

Vertical tastings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow, what an amazing afternoon doing this vertical tasting!  These wines are an amazing expression of Rioja and I hope we can visit the vineyard next year.  The insight of tasting the same wine from different vintages is extremely interesting.

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Loving this book right now!!

And also loving this region!  Italy has so many grapes!

Orange Wine!

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Really like this visual showing how Orange Wine is made I found on-line!

 

Orange Wine or Vino Naranja is produced in Huelva and Málaga in Andalucia, Spain with white wine macerated with orange peel. Vino Naranja del Condado de Huelva is an appellation of origin for aromatised sweet wines originating in Condado de Huelva, Spain. The system of production and aging of this wine is a white wine flavoured with macerated orange peel followed by a process of aging by the solera system. Orange Wine from Huelva is usually dark orange to brown in colour. The brown colour is a result of sun drying of the grapes prior to fermentation.

World’s Leading Wines Tasting Event

Great day out yesterday.

 

Found some very interesting wines, but of particular interest was a wine from The Douro.

 

Douro is a Portuguese wine region centered on the Douro River in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region. It is sometimes referred to as the Alto Douro (upper Douro), as it is located some distance upstream from Porto, sheltered by mountain ranges from coastal influence.  Apparently in recent years many of these wines have suffered from a poor reputation, but watch this space, as with many things a resergence is under way!  I found the grapes Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional to produce dark fruitful wines with a terrific finish.

 

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The Wine Society

The Wine Society

So today we have joined The Wine Society.

 

This is really exciting and marks a new chapter in my exploration in wine.  Every month I want to find one or two gems through this web-site and expand our collection of wines.  The Wine Society seems different to the other “clubs” that you can join.  Slightly less commercial and very wine grower / enthusiast orientated.  The balance of reasonably priced wines to expensive seems very good and I like the fact that you can find different things here.  There is also lots of content to help you learn and develop your wine repertoir.

 

Sante as my wife would say!

 

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It all started back here!

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When my then girl friend and now wife gave me a book about wine to take on holiday!

Though I had always grown up around good wine, I had never really investigated why that was, or what made good wine.

The rest as they say is history!

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