Churton, new world wine tempered with old world style

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Churton was established in 1997 by Sam and Mandy Weaver. From site selection and bio-dynamic practices through to low intervention winemaking, Churton produces exceptional terroir driven wines.

Churton is a 22 hectare single vineyard and encompasses an undulating ridge line between the Omaka and Waihopai valleys in Marlborough, New Zealand. 200 metres above sea level, the distinctive property faces northeast and captures the cool morning and warm daytime sun ideal for slow and long ripening. Soils are older and denser than the neighbouring valley floor with good clay content.

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Sam and Mandy are dedicated to producing just four varietals; sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, viognier and petit manseng. Their vineyard in composed of 17 singular blocks each with its own unique aspect and topography and, at present, The Abyss and Best End are
bottled individually.

Sam describes “Often biodynamics is regarded at the crazy end of organic production. What could be dafter than stirring cow dung matured in buried cow’s horn in water for 60 minutes then throwing it about on the farm, and then what relevance do lunar cycles have to farming practices. Are we lunatics or what?

At Churton I have a strong belief that our biodynamic farming approach is rational and makes complete sense.

Above all it helps us produce better wines that have more individuality and really demonstrate the farm (terroir) where they come from.

As a microbiologist I believe biodynamics works from the ground up. We work hard to improve our microbiology by using composts and various biodynamic preparations. We run a system that is a polyculture and actively encourage biodiversity by increasing our plant and animal species (We plant companion species of flora between the rows in the vineyard, raise our own cattle and keep bees). And yes, we do take note of lunar cycles; after all didn’t our grandfathers plant by the moon?

Wine making is an art as much as a science. Growing the best grapes to make the best wine combines both of these disciplines too. Biodynamic philosophy gives us a structure to help understand these disparate approaches and in the end really.”

Montenidoli, a wine from a different era

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Travelling through the wine world, we come across many special locales and meet artists as well as technologically-sound winemakers, whose wines ring up excellent scores from reviewers. Being around nature, those involved in the trade are well connected with the environment, and every once in a while we arrive in a place where there is spirituality tied to both soil and the philosophy of all the people working there.

Montenidoli is a unique place; for one the estate lies above the town with beautiful vistas down the valley and up to the crowning forest, but it is also about the Fagiuoli family, their wines and their aim to create a “bridge” to unite different cultures in the common language of mother earth, the path of her wine is used communicate and instill friendship.

The estate covers 24 hectares of vines and 200 hectares of forests. Two very different soil types have formed millions of years ago and are the bedrock for the traditionally made wines. The white varietals flourish on the Ligurian seabed with sea shells, and the red makes unique style of wines on the Triassic soils with rocks formed over 350 million years.Traditional Tuscan varietals take the lead here. The white is Vernaccia making structured and deep wines with herbal and almond perfumes, rich flavors, and a dry, crisp finish. The red is always Sangiovese – pure or blended at times with white
grapes like in past. It is rustic, but aromatic and persistent, embodying the rural surrounding of this land, and goes very well with Beefsteak Florentine.

The essence of nature is found in each glass, however the spirituality we mentioned is best displayed with Sergio the Patriarch Foundation, which Elisabetta founded with her late husband Sergio. They met in school, where she noticed his gift to enter the mind of troubled persons and give peace and love to their spirits. She thinks what is mostly needed in our little planet is to nurture the truthful rule of attention, love, and harmony to people. So the Foundation aims to be the place that unites people. Each year they will host for one month elderly people in need of rest and love, as well as youngsters in search of their identity through the message of nature.

Atlan & Artisan 8 Vents, made by the winds

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A long time ago, I made the mistake believing Mallorca is where Germans go on holiday to drink beer, lots of beer at Ballermann. Little did I know that one day I would contemplate living there – enjoying the mild climate, scenic countryside, and pristine waters – and most importantly with access to major European cities.

It took Wine Garage and Quince partner, Philippe, many years to convince us to take the trip. But once you set foot on this island, the yearning to go back won’t ever fade. It is a place, which combines all elements of a great vacation, some indulgence, and old European culture.

The Phoenicians were likely to plant the first vineyards, but surely the industry was in full swing after the Romans settled. Being a popular tourist destination today, the consumption is mainly on the island itself, as well as countries such as Germany and Switzerland, where travelers head back after the vacation to reminisce.

We are pleased to offer 8 Vents, not only as a beautiful reminder of its heritage, but also because a good tasting Cabernet Merlot blend is difficult to find at this price range. The wine spent 12 months in French oak barrels, has the nose and body of a North Coast Californian wine, but maintains its balance and subtler fruit profile from the milder climate and strong winds that shaped it.

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Lets hope the sheer number of arrivals during the busy summer months will not one day deplete all wine stocks on Mallorca.

Photo credits: landscape, vineyard and Palma from the internet

Cims de Porrera – reflections of black slate

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Cims de Porrera was founded in 1996 with the aim of exploiting the full potential of the vineyards of the village of Porrera in the Priorat Qualified Designation of Origin (Q.D.O.). Some of the vineyards are over 100 years old and consist mainly of the Carignan variety, which is highly prized for its colour, tannins and excellent coupage. Carignan, along with the light and fruity Garnatxa variety, constitute the two main native grape varieties of Priorat. The three wines – Cims de Porrera Clàssic, Cims de Porrera Garnatxa and Vi de Vila de Porrera are three classic wines produced from the vineyards belonging to the Porrera cooperative, where the vines have an extremely low yield and grow in llicorella soil, the typical terroir of Priorat, comprised of flaky shale.

Due to the nature of the land, with slopes ranging between 30 and 80%, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of the area under cultivation in Porrera. However, we estimate that it is around 40 hectares. Annual production of 70,000 litres of wine, or less than 20 hectolitres per hectare, is exceptionally low and is the key to producing such concentrated and structured wines as Cims de Porrera and Vi de Vila de Porrera. In some vineyards, production barely reaches 250 grams of grape per foot.

The soil is of carboniferous shale – heavily eroded, grey schists that sparkle with an incomparable beauty in the midday sun. The low organic content of the soil, which is extremely loose and rocky, means that the water quickly filters from the surface. The vines are therefore forced to grow very deep roots in order to reach the water sources.

Over the past year we have many times written about the sibling Vi de Vila Porrera, a wine that embodies both the sun-drenched Mediterranean climate with aromas of low yield and old vines Carinena and Garnatxa from Priorat. This unique combination makes a wine close to 15% ABV still easily enjoyable. So if you like this, the Cims de Porrera Classic from centenarian Carinena grapes will up it not only a couple of notches in terms of elegance and complexity.

Classic Label

 

Spanish Steps dinner at Bunker, May 7-9th, 2017

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We are extremely pleased to work with Arnie Marcella, Chef and Andreas Pergher, Beverage Director, on this menu and wine pairing, which traces back Arnie’s history and stories.

Microsoft Word - Bunker Spanish Dinner Wine Pairings (Update 4.0

The above 4-course menu is thb 2,250++ with optional wine pairing  at thb 1,500++.

Recently, the dining front of our City of Angels seems to progress faster than any other Asian metropoles; unfolding new entries, especially from Spain, with an array of dishes and wines that shed light on our senses.

For this dinner we propose wines from some of Spain’s most innovative regions or winemakers and invite you to join our road to discovery:

Raventos I Blanc, formerly in the Cava D.O, but Manuel and Pepe decided to depart in 2013, and began the process of creating a new, terroir driven appellation, Conca del Riu Anoia. As an aperitif we pour their chalky and dry Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2014.

Equipo Navazos, are partners Dr Jesús Barquín and Eduardo Ojeda, who have single-handedly revived the sherry landscape by releasing small lots from long-forgotten bodegas. This Florpower however is not fortified, but shows how the precise Palomino grape can become with ageing under flor for 20 months. Dense, with lovely minerality and nutty background.

Bodega K, is one of many producers in the wet and windy Basque country. We fell in love with the simple and fresh aromatics of Txacolina, which bursts with energy and pairs well with seafood.

Zarate, there is Albarino and there is Zarate. Say no more. Galicia’s favorite white wine for seafood.

Dehesa La Granja, is a mature Tempranillo from legendary winemaker Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera. The Toro region brings out powerful and intense wines, however the 24 months in oak cask followed by 6 years bottle ageing does its trick here and delivers and great drink today.

Olivier Riviere, the terroirist Frenchman in Rioja, also works a small plot in the Arlanza DO. The high elevation and old vines planted in 1930s, makes a wine unlike any other Tempranillo – showcasing floral, black wild berries and spicy notes.

Vi de Vila Priorat, is made by the Cims de Porrera cooperatives high above the Mediterranean Sea. The old vines and unique licorella soil (black slate) are responsible for a powerful and intriguing red wine.

 

Arnie

Arnie Marcella’s career was exclusively in star-studded NYC restaurants including Jean-Georges, Marea, Corton, Alto, The Elm, Aldea, Docle Stil Novo, and Ai Fiori. So perhaps, later next year, The Bangkok Michelin Guide will also have a place for Bunker?

To book please call  092 563 9991 or email reservation@bunkerbkk.com

 

Vasco Croft, winemaker Aphros, Portugal

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Vinho Verde is the most northern wine region of Portugal, bordering with Spain’s Galicia. For this reason, the Albarinho grape is also prevalent here. Typically the light-bodied Vinho Verdes will be a blend Loureiro, Avesso and Alvarinho, each contributing a fair share to acidity, aroma and body. While thank god, the fizz in the wine has gone, the overachieving winemakers, such as Vasco Croft churn out are some of the best mineralic wines on earth.

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Formerly an architect in Lisbon, Vasco switched careers and took over the century old family estate. He was one of the first to achieve biodynamic certification, and quickly focused his attention to the new-old-tools of fermenting and ageing in clay amphoras. To date, the range consists of various Loureiro wines or blends, plus some distinctive crunchy earthy and dark berried Vinhao, a red specialty of the region, plus some extremely limited Pet Nat wines.

Our wine today is Aether, is a 50-50% blend of tank fermented Sauvignon Blanc and barrel fermented Loureiro. The wine is light yet intense, exudes a melange of agrume, salty minerality, and herbal notes. Its the kind of wine that changes its character with its every sip. Try it as an aperitif, with shellfish or simply outdoors by the pool.

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Wine suggestions Miznon @ Quince-Eatery & Bar from April 18-23

Paris’ hottest Israeli street eatery makes its return to Bangkok. If you join us at Quince this week, you can enjoy Chef Pierre Bouko-Levy’s fresh and savory dishes with some of our new wines or latest vintages.

Quince Miznon IG frame

Typically, the fuller reds from the Mediterranean regions with their red fruit profile and spicy and savory notes are complementing his dishes, but this time of year we surely need to consider the hot and dry weather in Bangkok, and pick some lower alcohol and refreshing whites to cool down.

Here are our favorites:

Start of with an Old Vines Chardonnay fermented and aged in barrel for 2 years. The nose, fine bulles and persistence is very close to a Champagne. Frederic Lornet Cremant Vieilles Vignes Brut NV. Jura

Unoaked and refreshing Chardonnay from limestone soils around Limoux is akin to famous North Burgundy. Domaine Begude Chardonnay Terroir 11300 2015. Organic, Limoux

The gunflint, white peach, cut grass is a signature aromatic from Sauvignon Blanc grown on Silex soils. Domaine Francis Blanchet Pouilly Fume Silice 2015, Loire

Light, bright and vibrant rose from Mont Ventoux, the high mountain overlooking most of Provence and the Mediterranean Sea. Domaine Fondreche Rose 2015. Organic, Ventoux

Carignan with some Grenache caressed into a joyful, young and tasty wine from the wild and rugged southwest corner of Roussillon. Domaine des Enfants Le Jouet 2015. Organic, Cotes Catalanes

Meaty Syrah and Grenache from La Liviniere, a special cru tugged within the region of Minervois. Chateau Maris Minervois 2015. Organic. Roussillon

The precise, pure and elegant side of big Chateauneuf du Pape wines. Domaine Roche Audran Chateauneuf du Pape 2014. Biodynamic. Southern Rhon

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Off track France at Aldo’s Bistro

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If you want the taste of fine classic French cuisine in Bangkok, you will need to seek out Chef Herve Frerard. Now settled in at Aldo’s Bistro (Ascott Sathorn) – we hear there are also several new projects in the pipeline – his aim is to offer quality food and wine at decent prices.

Please join us for a tasting of his premium canapes paired with some very interesting grapes from highly regarded producers in far off locales of France. Seats are thb 1,650 net and limited to 16 persons.

The 5 wines served include

Aldo Off Track wine routes of France

The Naturalists from Antipodes

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The last 10 years have seen many independent growers and winemakers emerge in many of today’s “cool” wine regions including Yarra, Adelaide Hills (Australia) or Canterbury (New Zealand). Most likely, these individuals traveled extensively, worked and tasted with the best winemakers, and scraped their pennies together to either buy or rent vineyards to grow healthy grapes and make soulful wines they believe in. Be it certified organic, biodynamic, or not, these scented wines and balanced wines, often with crunchy fruit from whole cluster fermentation, are delicious to taste today.

Please join us at About Eatery on Saturday April 1st and taste the magnificent wines from James Erskine (Jauma), Gary Mills (Jamsheed), Patrick Sullivan, William Downie, Taras and Amber (Ochota Barrels) and Claudia and Mike Weersing (Pyramid Valley). They are a style one their own, and a world apart from what you find on the shelves.

Limited to 12 seats, each at thb 700. Starts 0530pm. To book email marketing@winegarage.asia

Wine & Tapas at Toro, Bangkok

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Toro is the brainchild of James Beard Award-winner Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, whose Boston outlet opened in 2005. As the queues got longer and longer, they soon ventured to New York City and since last year also opened in Bangkok. The Barcelona-inspired tapas bar is housed in Courtyard 72, a burgeoning open-plan mall, smack in the middle of bustling Thonglor.

On Wednesday, March 22, Chef Zach Watkins has selected 10 tapas dishes to pair with our wines from Penedes, Rueda, Basque Country, Jumilla, Toro and also Andalusia. The menu including wines is priced at thb 1,500++ per person and can be booked by calling

081 929 6562 or 02 392 7790

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Come taste a fresher and more delicate Spain, and discover the changes that happened the past 15 years.