Tuesday 22 August 2017

'Foutre d’Escampette' 2015, Domaine de L'Octavin

Things used to be simpler. Penguins were without a doubt my favourite animal and I hated Chardonnay. It reminded me of those constantly condensing glasses at awkward art shows and tasted like vanilla butter cream pie from a can and yes this applied to all of them thank you very much, now please pass the red.

Then I had a Chardonnay by Axel Prüfer and it was crunchy, not buttery, earthy, not creamy. It tasted like hazy sunshine dappling over lazy water or running barefoot across a spring-flowered prairie: hair-flowing, fresh-aired, care-free and problematic: I liked it. But I took it in my stride, put it on the list and told people it tastes how it ‘wants’ to taste without being forced it into format.

I called it a ‘wild’ Chardonnay and an exception to the rule and was ok with that, bandying about terms like ‘straight-jacket’ and ‘homogeneity’ and posing questions like standardisation vs. individuality? 

I remember trying to explain the taste of electricity.

But of course when things seem simple you have to be sure you're not being stupid, and this wine reminds me of the time we went to Arbois / when I realised I was being stupid. 

Domaine de L'Octavin's "Foutre d’Escampette" 2015 tastes like a long summer day at a lake legs long over the dock, swimming out to the far raft, watermelon slices in bags, emerald-green slash brown water with light streams cutting through. 

What it’s not like is vanilla butter cream pie, and if they’re pouring this at art shows I wanna be there which is to say that I was totally wrong and that both penguins and Chardonnay can be ok.

Tasting notes:

Looks like cold sunshine through smoke. Tastes like hay and lemon-pithy lees with a hint of almond and stony white plums not quite ripe. Long lingering finish and cold water on your face acidity. Clean tasting, dirty name. 


"Foutre d’Escampette" 2015
Domaine de L’Octavin, Alice Bouvot and Charles Dagand
Arbois, Jura

(Brought to the table by Clavelin for Le Carton pop up Dead Sheep, Living Wines).


Tuesday 15 August 2017

High on acid | Tavkveri 2016

It’s July and we’re back in Georgia, the three of us sitting on steps very hot, talking about the cold. About how bare it was on the way to Pheasant's Tears in March and how in Kasbegi there’d been snow. But now the cicadas are burring in the sun grasses and the cold airport floor on which we’d slept our only hour in 30 is nothing more than a rumple in my corduroys and we wash our faces and go.

Vino Underground thank god hasn’t changed but it feels like we have: how instead of just a guess at what we’d like to drink, ours was now an educated one. We select six and tell Natia no tasting now, see you later, these are for while the sun is still on.

Tbilisi is also different. The stark streaming sunlight of March is softer, and the little produce hole-in-the-wall stalls that line the streets, fuller. Liberty Square (or Freedom Sq., it seems to go by both) is full of tourists making plans in languages you can understand, the Georgians now sitting on the steps they seemed always to be sweeping when it was spring. It’s humid. There are watermelons everywhere. We return to the steps under the tree full of what we assumed were cherries but which tomorrow we’d learn are cherry plums, not cherry-cherries, called Tkemali. The grasses are still burring and we have a drink.

The first and only other time we drank Mariam Iosebidze’s Tavkveri was in December in the snow, in New England. We’d asked the peeps at Chambers Street Wines ‘for something with volatile acidity', and they suggested two: Del Prete 'Torre Nova' 2015 and Mariam’s 2015 'Tavkveri' (notes). We took both. At the time, playing a board game on the floor in front of the wood stove waiting for dinner, I couldn’t make up my mind whether I found it too acidic; whether admitting I did would be to admit some sort of defeat. You have to understand: I drink vinegar dregs and eat kimchi drunk at night. You can no-sweat dress a wound or salad with my kombucha. This would have been a personal defeat.

In the end I sidestepped the issue entirely and concluded it would make more sense in a different setting, suggesting, ‘outside hot Georgian summer let’s say grilling’. Not knowing anything about Georgia whatsoever, this was a total cop-out. But it’s still nice to be right.

Tasting notes:

Fruit punch pink in your glass shimmering with sea clam on the surface bubbles. Smells like pickled hibiscus. The 16 is more rounded than the 15, starting river pebble rolling smooth to then tighten out towards a flinty edge, like running your tongue from the flat head along the edge of an arrowhead (if you think this sounds sharp, the 15 had a body like a battle axe). In the taste department you’re knee-deep in a silty cranberry bog (or while we're here, raw Tkemali) with an ocean breeze blowing hints of a wild Georgian beast your way, the beast, no doubt, with a beautiful woven blanket over its hairy back. There's also a wisp of a gun just gone off. A super-soaker thirst quencher and as much as I hate it when supermarket wine labels say it, would work with anything blackened off a hot coal grill.


"Tavkveri" 2016
Mariam Iosebidze
Kartli, Georgia

Picking Tkemali


Sunday 13 August 2017

La Cosa, The Thing 2014

For me wine is for fun, for drinking, for talking, for dancing, for taste and sometimes for thinking. Like a good tomato I like it best unadorned, sans hoo-ha, flip-flap or hullabaloo (I eat the best tomatoes over the sink). So with tomatoes vaguely in mind, we started a pop up wine project. A place for ourselves and the undies-wrapped wines in our suitcases: a no frills, no chairs, no beer-affair with an up-turned bookshelf for a bar.

We call it Le Carton and next time we’ll be pouring wines from Georgia which is kind of killing me 'cus that's all the way in October and it's only August and I’m not allowed to drink any of the wines until then. But this isn’t about then. Actually I wanted to talk about our first pop up: that time we played bar on a street corner outside a club in the rain, that time being the first time I tried "La Cosa, The Thing". 

The Thing is a sweet wine made by Bodegas Maestro Tejero from high-grown (1.000m) Muscatel de Alejandría gapes (stems, seeds, skins and all) and it smells like raisins. Like plump to burst raisin-bread toasted to caramel, slightly burnt, both sides buttered-raisins and raisins fresh stuck in fried dough powder sugar down your shirt. Of butter-oozy hot cross buns and boozy English wedding cakes and way wine cellars smell like raisins and basically any raisin you can think of except awkward musili raisins 

(Turns out the maestro does effectively, if not in fact, make The Thing with raisins; relying on noble rot to shrivel some of the grapes ((commonly grown to make raisins)) and hanging the rest out to dry for two months.)

The next thing I’d say is that drinking The Thing in the rain will make you forget it’s raining. Take a sip and sit back for (rocket) l a u n c h, sour watermelon acidity shooting >>>shocks<<< through to the dark sides of your teeth, fruity sugar stardust ricocheting around where your dentist tells you to clean better and giving you a big acid s m ile.

Tasting notes: 

Looks like a chunk of fossilised amber with things in it (unfiltered, though no mosquitos). Smells like raisins and early-stage fermentation. Tastes intensely fruity — of kiwi, rhubarb stalks dipped in sugar, an apple picked in August, yellow grapefruit, salted limes, watermelon Jolly Rancher yes I know this isn’t a real fruit — spliced through with laser-like acidity that blasts your palate clean after each sip, taking you on to the next and next and next.


"La Cosa The Thing" 2014
Bodegas Maestro Tejero
Muscatel de Alejandría
Segovia, Ribera del Duero, Spain

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