jamie goode's wine blog
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
A 90+ point Lambrusco - incredible!
A biodynamically grown, bottle-fermented Lambrusco weighing in at 12% alcohol. It's deep coloured, with sweet, complex pure dark cherry notes on the nose as well as a subtle meatiness and some lovely floral notes. The palate is focused, fresh and meaty with lovely presence and a slight fizziness. Rich and sweet, but with some savoury earthy notes under the dark fruits. Amazingly dense and savoury; a million miles away from cheap Lambrusco. Truly world class. 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Another Alsace Riesling: Josmeyer
Following on from last week's Trimbach encounter, here's a bottle I picked up at Haynes, Hanson & Clark for £11.50. Not the best ever, but a really good example of dry, fruity Alsace Riesling.
12.5% alcohol, certified Biodynamic (Biodyvin). A really attractive dry Riesling with a lovely fruity character. Spicy minerality underpins the lemony fruit, with a subtle herbiness in the background, as well as some honeyed notes. Satisfying and balanced. 89/100 (£11.50 Haynes, Hanson & Clark)
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Video: my segment with David Motion on BBC news
Friday, July 03, 2009
Biodynamic-ish Sangiovese from California
A conundrum of a wine. It's from Randall Grahm's Bonny Doon operation. It's mainly from a vineyard farmed biodynamically in San Benito County, yet it contains an ingredients list that most emphatically is not an indicator of typically natural wine making. Yet you have to respect the honesty and integrity that led to that list appearing on the bottle. It reads:
Intensely savoury with tarry, spicy notes on the nose as well as dense blackberry and plum fruit. The palate shows rich, ripe dark cherry and plum fruit backed up with savoury, spicy, earthy notes and high acidity that sticks out a little. Dense, savoury and seriously structured, this is a bit rustic, but is one of the best non-Italian expressions of Sangiovese that I've encountered, and is utterly delicious and thoroughly food friendly. 90/100 (the 2005 is £13 at Berry Bros & Rudd)
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Questions on biodynamics
A leading expert on biodynamics kindly agreed to answer some queries I had about this unusual but increasingly important way of growing wine grapes. Here are the 12 questions I sent him. Have you got any you'd like to add to the list?
- Is 'naturalness' a valid and important concept in wine?
- Does the BD approach follow through from the vineyard to impact what goes on in the cellar?
- Is there a benefit to BD over what can be achieved by organics plus composting? If so, what?
- Are there elements of BD that people can adopt and see benefit from without taking on board the whole package of treatments and timings?
- How did you first get into BD?
- How much efficacy can people achieve with just the treatments and not the timings?
- What do you think about Nicolas Joly's views on the effects of electrical currents on wines?
- Is biodynamics metaphysical, involving a realm outside the scope of scientific physical measurement?
- Is BD practical for larger companies?
- What about BD in vineyards where the grower only owns a small section, such as the isolated blocks of vines owned by growers in the top vineyards of the Mosel?
- Do you see any value in trying to reconcile conventional viticulture with BD viticulture?
- If a top Bordeaux property came to you and asked about implementing BD, where would you start them off?
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Day 3 at the Landmark Tutorial
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Drink me and Corralillo
Last night we had dinner with some friends. I always bring a few bottles along, simply because I have access to a lot of nice samples and it seems appropriate to share them around. But my buddy Karl often springs a nice surprise by bringing something interesting - and I really appreciate this. He brought along a bottle of Niepoort's 'Drink Me', which he'd bought from Hampton Hill independent merchant Noble Green. It's one of the most brilliantly packaged wines I know, with the label consisting of a series of 11 cartoons by Steven Appleby called 'Message in the Bottle'.
Dark, spicy and a bit earthy with some cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose. The palate is savoury and dense with attractive earthy, spicy notes, as well as good acidity. Fresh and quite complex, with lots of personality (perhaps a hint of brettanomyces, too, but it works well in the context of this wine, which is delicious). 89/100 (£10 Noble Green Wines)
Dark cherry and blackberry fruit nose with some spice and a distinctive meatiness. There's also a hint of Chilean character (dark rubbery edge) but this is quite subtle. The palate has sweet dark fruit with a lovely meaty, earthy savouriness, reminding me of a good Southern Rhone red. Finishes firm and tannic. I like the fact that this isn't just about sweet fruit. 90/100 (c. £12 Oddbins, but Majestic are also stocking the Matetic wines - they're all good)
Sunday, April 19, 2009
It has been fascinating to see biodynamic wine covered on mainstream news (both TV and newspapers) here in the UK over the last few days. So I thought I'd draw readers' attention to some articles on the topic.
The wineanorak on BBC News
So I followed up yesterday's turn on Sky News with a couple of slots on BBC News this morning. It meant an early start - the car came for me before 6 am, and I was whisked off to BBC TV Centre in Shepherds Bush. Another session in make-up (no airbrush this time) then off to the tiny green room, where I met up with David Motion of The Winery (an excellent London wine shop) who I was to appear with on the programme.
Our first slot was at 0650, and went well. Then we had to wait for a while until the second slot, at 0850. Also in the green room was Sir Steve Redgrave who was there to talk about hydration (and some hydrating drinks he's involved with) in advance of next week's London marathon.
In the second slot we tasted some wine on camera - one of David's - a Spatlese Trocken Riesling from the Mosel, which was delicious. Just the sort of wine you want before breakfast. It was a fun segment, and we were all pretty relaxed. Unfortunately, I don't have a video to show you.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The wineanorak on Sky News
I was on Sky News today talking about biodynamic wine, and Tesco's revelation that they hold press tastings according to the biodynamic calendar. It was a fun experience. I got picked up, driven to the studios in Osterley, and went straight through to make-up. 'Do you do airbrushing?', she asks. I nod as if I knew what she was talking about. With my blemishes covered, I'm through to the green room. Then after a quick flick through a newspaper I'm onto the set and wired up, and then we're on air. A few minutes later, it's all over.
You can see the video on:
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Video: visiting Beaux Freres, Oregon
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Video: visiting Brick House, biodynamic Oregon producer
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Fun article of biodynamics
Regular readers will know that I'm quite a fan of many biodynamic wines, as well as being interested in biodynamics as a way of running vineyards. But, as a scientist I'm sceptical about some of its claims, although I do recognize that there are aspects of it that could have efficacy in the vineyard and be explainable by mechanisms other than those claimed by biodynamic practitioners.
Here's an article from the USA that puts the boot into biodynamics (I was alterted to this through a post on the erobertparker forum here. It's rare to see biodynamics criticized in the wine press, even though there's plenty people could go after. In particular, many BD practitioners believe in 'sensitive crystallization'. Here's a v. funny quote from the article on this topic:
Bonny Doon's Randall Graham doesn't need a consultant — he hired Biodynamics expert Corderey as his full-time viticulturist. Corderey, a brusque, strapping Frenchman who rolls his own cigarettes, has turned Graham on to the power of sensitive crystallizations. Originally developed by Steiner disciple Ehrenfried Pfeiffer in the 1930s, crystallization is a process in which a dab of material – in this case, wine — is mixed into a copper chloride solution in a Petri dish. It is left in a small oven to evaporate overnight, leaving a residue of intricately formed crystal patterns. Corderey claims the crystals are the tangible mark of the "life forces" within the wines. Boltlike veins of crystals indicate that the vines are young and unfocused, like a child with a short attention span. Denser and more organized patterns indicate maturity and age. He glances up from his computer. "You know," he says with a smile, "I also crystallize people."
Corderey had a co-worker spend the day with a vial of wine in her pocket. He then crystallized the wine from the vial and compared it to a control sample. He would not reveal what he divined from the crystals, but said that he stunned the co-worker by pinpointing "exactly where she was in life." When SF Weekly suggested that someone could merely take a sip of wine, spit it out, and have Corderey crystallize that, he nodded — that could work, too. "You see this?" he said, gesturing toward a choppy swirl magnified many times on his computer screen. Beneath the crystallization, a label read "2007 Albarino exposed to AC/DC Highway to Hell." Corderey had played the 1979 rock anthem to a glass of wine. He then played Native American music to another glass — resulting in a much smoother, more organized crystallization. "You can see the connection — these people work with nature and not against it."
Monday, November 24, 2008
I love Italian wine - a biodynamic Tuscan
It's been a busy day. After seven months of just wine, I've taken on a science gig, producing a report from a two day conference on evaluating medical research. Feels a bit strange to be back in the world of science, but I figure it is important to keep up with it, seeing as wine science has been such an important (and modestly lucrative) field for me. A change of scenery helps keep you fresh.
I really like this fresh, supple, fruit-driven yet fresh red from the little known Colline Luccesi in Tuscany. The vineyards this wine came from have been farmed organically since 1997 and biodynamically since 2002. They have limestone and sandstone soils, and are in the hills 10 km north of the northern Tuscan town of Lucca. This is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah, and it shows a bright, fresh nose of spicy-edged, rather pure black cherry and raspberry fruit, with nice freshness. The palate is fresh and supple with just a hint of greenness under the bright cherry and berry fruit, and a nicely savoury, spicy kick. This is a beautifully food friendly red of real appeal, with potential for further development. In style, it's modern and fruity, but with lovely savoury seriousness, too. 13% alcohol and really easy to drink, but if you want an oaky, rich, new world style red then this is not for you. 91/100 (£16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd)
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Video content: Pyramid Valley Vineyards, a remarkable wine venture in New Zealand's Canterbury region
This is a short film I shot while I was visiting Pyramid Valley Vineyards with owner Mike Weersing. Located in the Canterbury Hills of New Zealand's South Island, this is a remarkable project with Burgundian-style close-planted vineyards that are farmed biodynamically. The full write-up of the visit went live on the main site today - you can see it here. Even if you don't normally watch video content on the web, you really should see this! It's an incredible place.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Matetic EQ Syrah - a serious effort
Incredible stuff. Very deep coloured. Intense, pure blackberry and blackcurrant nose complemented by spicy, meaty, earthy notes, as well as a hint of olive and tar. The palate is earthy and dense with plenty of structure, but also lots of blackberry and plum fruit. There's lovely fresh acidity. Just a tiny trace of that Chilean rubbery greenness, but overall this is a really serious effort and I'll be buying some more with a view to seeing how it ages over the medium term. 92/100 (£12.75 Oddbins, reduced from £17)
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Chateau Monty: a new national TV series on wine
Monty Waldin, a British wine writer who has been living in Italy for the last few years, is one of the best known commentators on (and advocates of) biodynamic wine growing. He's the focus of a new TV series, Chateau Monty, which begins on Channel 4 (UK) tomorrow night. The program follows his efforts to make wine biodynamically in France's Roussillon region, and I have reviewed the first episode on the main wineanorak site here. I think it's worth a watch, and it's good that wine is back on national TV.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Day two of the IPNC
This morning we had our seminar on sustainability. We began with the Jasper (Morris) and Dominique (Lafon) show, which Jasper chaired fantastically. We tasted Dominique's wines as he told us about his journey to biodynamie. We were about two thirds of the way through when one of the audience asked whether Dom could explain more about how he uses Vitamin E in his winemaking. It was a wonderful moment.
- The farm should be seen as a self-contained individuality, with the goal that it should be entirely self-sustaining
- The material world is nothing more than condensed spirit, so we are farming the spirit rather than material.
- The idea of using preparations is that by putting them on the ground it enhances the spirit dimension of your farm.
- The enhanced wine and food grown using biodynamics gives us the force to confront the challenges of our lives.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Crazy French wines at Lords
France Under One Roof is the title of a large annual tasting held here in the UK, the 2008 installment of which I attended today. Held at the Nursery Pavillon, Lords, it's an event that brings together all manner of French wines, from cheap branded bottles to some smart high-end stuff.
This is a 100% Menu Pineau, an old Loire variety, grown biodynamically. It's a crazy, but lovely wine, reeking of cheese and cider. Herby, waxy, appley and pretty complex on the nose. The palate is appley and wonderfully complex with a long, minerally, acid finish. Fantastic stuff: weird but lovely. 93/100 (£15.99 Les Caves)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Organics and biodynamics unleashed: Vintage Roots tasting
Spent an enjoyable day tasting the range of UK merchant Vintage Roots. They are unique in that they only stock organic/biodynamic wine.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Organic, biodynamic and Californian
I've had mixed feelings in the past about the Bonterra wines, if I'm honest. I've enjoyed them without falling in love with them, and I have to admit to being slightly suspicious by the way that Brown Forman (the parent company) have seemed to over-play their organic hand. It just seems like there's a disconnect between big company/corporate marketing strategy and the generally smaller scale organic/biodynamic approach.
Organic. Wonderful aromatic Viognier nose showing apricot, peach, honey and lemon. The palate has appealing bright fruit with a nice rich texture. It's apricotty and fresh, with some vanilla. Good concentration: a lovely full flavoured dry white. I'm impressed. 90/100 (£9.99 Booths, Majestic [from May])
A blend of 47% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Old Vine Petite Sirah. Initially fruity and a bit oaky, but after a short while this is beginning to show its true colours: there's some earthy, minerally, spicy depth to the ripe fruit. Quite elegant, albeit in a ripe style, with an attractive plummy savouriness. A stylish, well balanced, intense wine that finishes with firm tannic structure, suggesting it has some way to go. I reckon the oak will integrate well with a few more years in bottle, and this has great potential. It's almost like a serious, traditional Rioja in terms of flavour profile. 92/100 (£19.99 Vintage Roots)
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Biodynamic wine from Montalcino
Very interesting wine tonight, after a day that started off foggy and opaque, but which ended up bright and sunny.
100% Sangiovese from Brunello, this is a cherry red colour with a brick red rim. Lovely warm spicy nose with a savoury, earthy, slightly mushroomy tang. The palate is very savoury and a bit funky with complex, evolved spicy, earthy flavours and a hint of medicine. It's really expressive and a bit old fashioned (in a good way), and I really like it. Finishes with good acidity and a bit of tannic grip. A great food wine. 89/100 (£9.95 available from new internet wine merchant http://www.fromvineyardsdirect.com/)
Monday, November 26, 2007
A biodynamic Champagne that rocks
It's a quiet Monday evening, so time for some fizz. And not just any old fizz, but a Vintage Champagne from one of the last century's great vintages, and from a biodynamic grower to boot. It's a really fantastic wine, and it should have been saved for a special occasion. But I don't feel too bad for opening it...
A yellow/gold colour, this has a sensational nose: it's complex and full, with notes of honey, baked apples, lemons, toast and pastry. The palate is concentrated with powerful flavours of lemon, herbs and toast. It's a rich style, with lots of impact, but kept fresh by piercing acidity. A really super effort - worth the relatively high asking price. Beginning to drink well now, but with this level of acidity it isn't going to fall apart any time soon. 94/100 (£38 Vintage Roots)
Friday, November 16, 2007
NZ (7) Waipara: a nice surprise
It turns out that the last segment of my short trip, added as a bit of an afterthought, turned out to be one of the most interesting and inspiring. What a country New Zealand is!
[I'm writing this from Changi Airport, where I have 5.5 hours to recover before the next leg. Free broadband internet access this time: I'm up on floor 3 near the business class lounges, which I think is the explanation. The contrast of the relaxed ease and warmth of Changi with the clamour and busyness of Heathrow is stark.]
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
NZ (6) Gisborne and Hawkes Bay
Saturday, November 03, 2007
A biodynamic Sicilian amphora wine
The story: two grape varieties - Nero d'Avola and Frappato - grown biodynamically and fermented in terracotta amphorae. No sulfur dioxide is used until bottling, so this wine is pretty 'natural'. Bottled in a beautiful squat, wide bottle. The nose has a haunting perfume, combining red fruits of great purity with fine minerally, spicy, earthy notes that frame the fruit quite precisely. Think of the aromatic profile of a great red Burgundy, warmed up a notch or two by the sun. It's the sort of nose you can keep returning to, and each time you attend you get something different. The palate is medium bodied and savoury, with an elegant earthiness. It has a spicy, subtly meaty complexion that makes me think of brettanomyces, but I feel stupid suggesting this, because it is hinting at a wine fault, when this wine is most certainly not faulty - it all pulls together to produce a profound result. But, at the same time, this is a relatively understated sort of wine that whispers, rather than shouts. The finish is long and dry. I think it's fantastic stuff, and I reckon this will develop nicely over the next 15 years or so, although it is drinking now. Strange to think, but that with its traditional elevage, this is a wine that could have been made 1000 or even 2000 years ago. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)
Monday, April 30, 2007
Real wine tasting
A thrilling tasting today, held by Les Caves de Pyrene at the Delfina Gallery near Bermondsey Street. The theme of the tasting was 'real wine', and these are the sorts of wines that make you realise what it was that made you excited about wine in the first place. No, not absurd Californian Cabernets with 99900 points and a price tag to make you weep, containg long-hang-time dead, saggy fruit tricked up by new oak, and delivered in a heavy bottle with a big punt. These were wines with a sense of place, honestly made and sensibly priced, presented by people with calluses on their hands.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Just thought I'd point out some articles I've dug up recently in my web travels.
Wines and Vines has a nice comparative tasting of wines made with oak chips and those without, looking at the influence of oak alternatives on the final wines. First time I've seen this. There's also an earlier article in the same mag on this subject.
Sticking with Wines and Vines, there's a nice article on minerality in wine, a topic I'm really interested in. The author makes a reference to a chapter in my Wine Science book. Glad someone has read it.
The World of Fine Wine has placed a couple of my articles online as pdfs, free of charge. Here's one on the premature oxidation of white Burgundy crisis and another on grafted versus ungrafted vines.
On the same site there's a lengthy but gripping (and surprisingly high level) discussion on biodynamics. Phew!
Friday, February 23, 2007
Big tastings. We all go to them. Have to. But we all hate them. Not for the fact that we get to meet lots of producers and colleagues: that's what these events are good for. But because it's really hard to do wines justice when you are tasting one after another in an often crowded, noisy environment where it is very hard to concentrate, and where your palate definitely undergoes some sort of transformation in response to the physical assault of repeated challenge by acidic, alcoholic and frequently tannic liquids.