Showing posts with label La Stoppa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Stoppa. Show all posts

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting Cork, featuring The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting

The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat
Pascal with Michael Creedon (right) of Bradley's Off Licence
Nicolas Donne of
Guy Allion
“This is what Le Caveau is about,” said Pascal Rossignol as he surveyed the scene in St Peter’s Church in the early stages of the Cork tasting of his 2017 portfolio last Thursday. And he had much to be pleased about as the visiting growers and Pascal’s staff displayed some 145 wines, all sustainable low intervention, many fully organic and some natural, for the tasting.

And if the tasting in general spoke of Le Caveau, then one wine in particular hinted at where M. Rossignol might be taking us in the future. And that was the Anne and J.F. Ganevat Vin de France Rouge called Madelon. 

Pascal was enthusiastic about this amazing blend. And no wonder! The mix of 50% Gamay from Morgon and 50% of Ganevat’s own field grapes (ancient varieties here are lost in one another) is amazing, yet so focussed, with a dry finish. This superb wine, which has spent ten months in foudre (large wooden vat) is produced outside the appellation rules, hence the Vin de France on the label and hence no vintage mentioned (not allowed!).

While the Madelon is made with his sister Anne, the other wine on show, Cotes du Jura blanc “Sous La Roche”, is produced by Jean-Francois himself. All his wines are made in very limited quantities, so are hard to get and so full praise to Le Caveau for giving us the opportunity to taste this gem with a finish that rolls on and on.

Great to have the chance too to chat to Bertrand Ambroise and his delicious Burgundy wines. We started with a Chardonnay, named after his grand-daughter, the Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This is a really round wine with balancing acidity. The Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2013 was another splendid Chardonnay (one of nine that they produce), apricot to the fore with no shortage of minerality.

Also got to taste three of his thirteen Pinot Noir, starting with the 2013 Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This has been aged in old barrels - he didn't want oak influence here. A gorgeous well-priced wine.
Bertrand Ambroise (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau
Then I enjoyed a sip of the Cotes de Nuits Villages. “Very interesting to drink now but it will last fifteen years,” said Bertrand. “It is 40% new oak, no fining, no filter and we are using less and less sulphides.” Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family. The final treat at this table was the Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’. This is faultless with an astounding finalé.

Guy Allion (Loire Valley) was represented by Nicolas Donne and I enjoyed their Touraine Sauvignon Blanc ‘Haut Perron’, very expressive and very fresh (the harvest is “early nighttime” to enhance those very qualities). 

Nicolas also had an unlisted addition, the 100% Sauvignon Chenonceau 2015. It can be made only in the valley of the Cher, a new appellation since 2011. Aromatic and elegant, it comes in its own unique bottle (made in Italy) and “can age for ten years”.

Chaume-Arnaud are pretty well known for their lovely Rhone reds but it was a white that caught my tastebuds: the 2015 blend Côtes du Rhône, very complex with excellent mouthfeel and excellent acidity as well. Thibaud Chaume explained that 2015 was “a bit hot..but this fruit is grown on top of a hill where it is fresh, also cool at night” and these factors all helped.

And he also had another off catalogue wine, “perfect for barbecue”, the 2015 Marselan, “well structured and great with food”.

Tour des Gendres are well represented on the Le Caveau catalogue and, once Guillaume de Conti began to speak, I could see why. You might think the basic entry wine might not get that much attention but Guillaume said that is the one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, so it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this certainly is, six months on lees also helps. A very reasonably priced wine too.
Lovely to meet up again with Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa (left). Her orange wine, the fantastic Ageno, has just been named as the number one natural wine in the world in the May issue of Decanter. 
Another Italian wine-maker that caught my attention was Ampeleia. Giulia Zanellati showed me three very interesting reds indeed, including the Un Litro Di Ampeleia, a blend of four varieties. It comes in a one litre bottle that is proving very popular in Italian restaurants. Giulia made me rather jealous as she described their vineyards which are near the sea. “It is a beautiful place to work, all the different levels where the views, the trees, the animals, all change as you go up or down. 
The 2016 Alicante Nero, Costa Toscana IGT, is 100 per cent from a single vineyard, at 400 metres with clay and rock dominating, another delicious fresh wine. And freshness too in the 2013 flagship, the Ampelia Costa Toscana IGT, a blend of Cabernet Franc (80%) and Sangiovese. The Cabernet Franc - they use it a fair bit - is noted as adding freshness and obviously enjoys the terroir here.

Le Caveau were also showing a large range of house wines, very acceptable house wines I hasten to add. One that I really like is the Petit Verdot, Haut Medians, Robert Vic and also the Madrigale in both red and white. And Charles Rossignol introduced me to more excellent house whites in St Peter’s (pictured right) . Perhaps the one I liked best was the Ciello Bianco Catarratto (Terre Siciliane IGT). This is certified organic and unfiltered and is refreshing and grippy, great with food I'd say.

All in all, quite a tasting. I didn’t get to taste all 145 but the name that stood out was that of Ganevat. The maestro from the Jura has three pages to himself in the 2017 Le Caveau catalogue but beware that quantities available “are very small and can only be managed via allocation”. He is, after all, one of the royalty of natural wine!


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ageno - No. 1 Natural Wine

Ageno - No. 1 Natural Wine

Decanter has just declared La Stoppa’s orange wine, Ageno, the world's best natural wine.

The magazine’s expert panel blind-tasted 122 natural wines “from all corners of the globe”. And the winner was La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011, the very same wine that I enjoyed with dinner in Cork’s Cafe Paradiso last week.

Some of the comments from the panel:
Full bodied, spicy and honeyed.
The full orange in colour…it has fine meal-time aptitude and dazzling compelling flavours.
A riper style that is full of energy and laden with oranges and rhubarb..memorable finish.

It is indeed memorable, from start to finish: the colour, the flavours, the finalé. The experts didn't mention it specifically but I found hints of both cider and sherry, not least in the aromas. It is though very well balanced and complex and certainly proved a winner with the vegetarian dishes in Paradiso.

It is produced using an old traditional winemaking method, where the grapes are macerated on their skins (indigenous yeast, no added sulphur) for up to a month, or more, to create an orange wine. It helps that Ortrugo tends to orange in any case. The result is rich in colour, tannic and complex.

It is a superb wine with the grape varieties being Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (60%) and Ortrugo and Trebbiano and is produced by Elena Pantaleoni. She is in Ireland this week, showing at the Le Caveau trade tastings in Dublin (Tuesday) and in Cork (Thursday). 

During last year’s visit, she told me that the first Ageno was first produced in 2002. “We do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

La Stoppa’s Elena Pantaleoni. I wish my wines to live for many years

La Stoppa’s Elena Pantaleoni
I wish my wines to live for many years

Elena Pantaleoni is part of the “Triple A” movement; you’ll see the sign on some of her wines. What's it all about? Mostly, it is against the standardisation of wines, the dumbing down, the loss of variety, of personality, of terroir, of local grapes, of character. Agriculturists, Artisans, Artists.

Essentially, it is Elena and her equivalents in Italy, in France, in Spain, in Portugal, wherever, who are up against Big Food, Big Drink. It is for nature. Natural Resistance is a film in which Elena had a leading part. And it is not just wine. The monopolising influences are everywhere, in all sectors. So wake up, get up, get out and support your local food and drink producer. Otherwise, some boring day in the future, breakfast will be Tablet 1, lunch Tablet 2, dinner Tablet 3; interchangeable. And your wine will be white or red. No variety.

Triple 'A': AGRICULTURISTS Only who cultivates directly the vineyard can build a fair relationship between man and grapevine, and obtain healthy and mature grapes through exclusively natural agronomical interventions. ARTISANS Artisanal methods and capabilities are required to carry out a viticultural and oenological productive process that does not modify the original structure of the grapes and of the wine. ARTISTS Solely the “artistic” sensibility of a producer, respectful of his own work and his own ideas, can give life to a great wine in which the characteristics of territory and vine are exalted.

Read, a little, more on the subject here.

La Stoppa Trebbiolo 2013 (Emilia rosso IGT), 13%, €19.95 Le Caveau

This certified organic natural red is a blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) and thereby hangs a tale.

For twenty years, La Stoppa estate had been growing mainly international grapes but, in 1996, Elena Pantaleoni and winemaker Giulio Armani decided to concentrate on the Italian grapes Barbera and Bonarda.

Elena: “I wish my wines to live for many years; so that when selected, they can be enjoyed for their colour, their taste and their bouquet.”

Colour here is a vibrant medium red. Aromas are fresh and  rather complex and include red and darker berries, vanilla hints, spice too. On the palate, it is light, fruity, simple, some spice too, a very refreshing acidity, lively, lovely and juicy; good on its own or with food. A wine for all seasons and Very Highly Recommended.

I met Elena for the first time at a recent lunch in Good Things in Skibbereen and she told me that they also make a frizzante version of the Trebbiolo, an everyday wine that, helped by its pleasant acidity, goes well with the local cuisine. The name Trebbiolo, she told us, comes from a local river valley.
Elena (1st left, 1st row) at lunch in Good Things, Skibbereen.

La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2015, 7%, €18.95 Le Caveau.

And that same valley produces the fruit, the Malvasia di Candia, for this unusual moderately sweet bubbly wine. Unusual to me anyhow. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%.

Note too the beautiful golden colour. Not that many bubbles. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet, honey and fruity and a good finish. This lightly sparkling beauty is a must try, perhaps with a nougat by Miena, maybe with some poached/grilled fruit such as peaches. Recommended.

La Stoppa Ageno, Emilia (IGT) bianco 2011, 13.5%, €31.95 Le Caveau

The Malvasia pops up here again and is indeed the major component in the blend for this rather amazing orange wine. Ortrugo and Trebbiano, both white grapes, also contribute. The wine is called after the founder of La Stoppa Estate, a man from Genoa. It is produced using an old traditional winemaking method, where the grapes are macerated on their skins (indigenous yeast, no added sulphur) for up to a month, or more, to create an orange wine. It is rich in colour, tannic and complex.

That colour is quite amazing. In addition to the maceration, it also helps that Ortrugo tends to orange in any case. The aromas are complex. For a second or two, I thought I was on a cider as I detected an autumnal orchard mustiness.

For all the intense colour and complex aromas and initial sweetness, this rich and elegant wine is definitely dry with a tannic finish (you notice it as your lips dry!). Made in the traditional manner, aged for a year in large barrels and two years in bottle, it is unique and Very Highly Recommended.
"The first Ageno was first produced in 2002 so we do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena in Skibbereen and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

That unique quality is exactly what Elena wants for this wine, for all her wines. She spends a lot of time on the road selling her wines. She knows La Stoppa will makes its mark and succeed if it has a strong identity. She and winemaker Giulio have certainly achieved that with this trio.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Good Things Cafe. People Together.

Good Things Cafe
Good Food, Wine, Company
Orange dessert

When we think of international, we think of country: Ireland v Italy in football, New Zealand v Australia in rugby, and so on. In food though, it struck me during an “international” meal in Good Things Cafe, in its sparkling new Skibbereen location, that we should be thinking more in terms of the individuals.

The Colombian farmer who grows your coffee beans, the Irish farmer who raises your free range pigs, the Indian who produces your spices and rices, the organic grower who sends us delicious clean wines and so on. The world is becoming to some small degree a collection of like-minded individuals, a collection of local producers, working hand to hand across the world, and not depending on some giant distributor who’d prefer to have the same food “from Nigeria to Iceland”.*

Orange wine
The conversation though wasn't anywhere near as serious as that. Carmel Somers, the owner of Good Things, got us off to a good start. “One of our growers has just delivered some asparagus. We are serving it with Coolea Cheese and some balsamic. Would you like that?” There was instant international accord.

“This Coolea Cheese? Is that from here?” Italian winemaker Elena Pantaleoni asked me. I had just met the lady from the famous organic vineyard of La Stoppa and she was delighted to hear that Coolea was very local indeed. Among those at the table were Pascal Rossignol, the Frenchman (now well seasoned with Irishness) who runs Le Caveau, and Sally Barnes renowned for her Woodcock Smokery in Castletownsend.

Many tongues, one language
Left to right: Clare, Elena, Billy, Nico, Pascal, Sally, Colm.
Elena’s Trebbiano was already in our glasses and she told me that they also make a sparkling version, “for food”. It is sold mainly in the local area and is great in summer, served a little chilled.

The delicious asparagus was now at the table along with a Mezze plate along with La Stoppa Macchiona 2007. “It is made from the same grapes, Barbera and Bonarda, as the Trebbiano but has spent two years in big barrels. This is the current vintage, it is warm, more powerful, more fruity,” said Elena.
Spectacular seasonal salad
The dishes and the wines, all exquisite, continued to come. Pascal asked Eleana for the story behind the names. Trebbiano is a valley, Macchiona is a very small village, and Agento is the name of the founder of the vineyard, a man from Genoa. The Agento is an amazing wine and not just because of its bright orange colour. The colour, and the extra tannin, come from three months skin contact. "The first Agento was first produced in 2002 so we do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

By now we were on to our main course. I was very much enjoying my Crab Tart, Salad leaves and a Soda Scone. And that was just one of the many tempting dishes on the menu. Pascal pointed out: “The Agento is very versatile at the table, a wine for sharing!” And Elena echoed that sentiment.

Carmel & Elena

Desserts, like other courses, are somewhat different here at this very highly recommended spot who make a “priority of sourcing locally”. Mine, and it was superb, was an Orange and Rhubarb Salad, with a Coconut and Pomegranate Praline. Finished off the Agento and then moved on to a delightful Malvasia Frizzante! Coffee by the Golden Bean set us up for a trip to sample the fresh Atlantic air at the Woodcock Smokery.

Sally's operation has been going since 1981. She pulled out some kippers, smoked with no dyes, no additives. But she wasn't very happy: “Not a great batch. Herrings can live up to twenty years but there is now a poor population due to intervention on the market by the EU a few decades ago.”

Sally and kippers

Sally, who travels quite a deal in her role in the Slow Food movement, specialises in products from slow-smoked, “fresh wild-caught fish devoid of any artificial additives or preservatives. We don’t use farmed fish; the fish we buy in is caught locally and from sustainable sources.”

She wasn't too happy with bureaucrats in general though she did acknowledge a big improvement in the bluefin tuna population. It’s been a tough enough battle for Sally over the years and no surprise that she and Elena (who also had her battle as detailed in the film Natural Resistance, shown in Cork last week) are friends. Individuals are key, locally and internationally, not countries, not big companies.

  • A quote from the film Natural Resistance. See trailer here

Sally's kit!