[WARMING WHITES] from La Pinte (Jura)

The endless summer has finally ended. And since autumn lasted no more than 2 weeks, the fires of winter have now been permanently lit, and we want some comfort stuff.

There’s nothing better for by-the-fire dining than the powerful white elixirs of the Jura. Start with some unctuous, generous, glowing Savagnin, or a rounded, plump, oak fermented and aged chardonnay. Then when the game meat dishes are served, don’t forget Poulsard, the curious cousin whose herb and spice aromas and fine acidity make it a great match.

More than a trend, wines from France’s Jura region are unstoppable in Australia at the moment. I believe the structure of Jura wines perfectly match the modern food revolution, asserting big flavours, yet hiding layers and layers of fine detail.

We are currently stocking the following great winter wines from Domaine de la Pinte in Arbois (Jura): Chardonnay Classic, 2011 (Blue Marl soils); Chardonnay Fonteneille, 2012 (Limestone & Clay soils); Savagnin, 2007 (Blue Marl soils); Poulsard, 2011 (Red Marl soils).


Word of ze month "Planter" (verb)

Meaning: To dig a hole and fill it with a plant.

Other uses: Se planter – To make an error or miss the desired objective. i.e. FAIL. Se faire planter par quelqu’un (or “Se faire poser un lapin”) – You’re up to your 5th glass of rose, I don’t think she’s coming… The good old no show.


by Charlie Simpson

[SKIN CONTACT] - The sensual way to wine and dine

First, a very quick refresher course in Orange wine making. The initiated can skip forward a bit.
Orange wine / skin contact white / maceration white. These are all terms to describe the same thing: wine made from white wine grapes where the wine spends an unusually long time infusing with the solids (skins, seeds, and perhaps stems, etc.). Of particular importance is the contact with the skins as they contain lots of aromatic compounds and tannins, which are thus infused into the wine. The infusion (maceration) could last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months or even a year or more. Red wine is classically made in this style. Thus the easy analogy is that Orange wine is white grapes made like a red wine.
Orange wine is not like rose. Rose is made using red grapes which are pressed off the skins immediately after harvest, prior to fermentation. Thus the juice receives very little or no skin contact. Classic white wine is made in this way. Thus the easy analogy is that Rose wine is red grapes made like a white wine.
So what’s the big deal!? Orange wines, thanks to their long maceration, contain a certain amount of tannin, which is a great carrier of flavour when food is in the picture. Likewise, the wine has had a certain level of exposure to oxygen during its maturation, which tends to generate more robust flavours, again good for food.
In gastronomy, we tend not to match white wines with robust food dishes, especially aromatic whites. This is because the majority of classic white wines would not stand up to the power of the food, i.e. the delicate aromas of the white would be wiped out by the richness of the dish. Orange wines, however, can provide the chance to match aromatic “white” wine flavours with robust dishes, thanks to the robust structure of the wine. An orange wine can therefore behave like a sprig of rosemary or a handful of bay leaves in a rich osso bucco, for example.
Marc Kreydenweiss co-planted 1 hectare of white grape varieties in his Rhone domaine in 1999. The field is planted with 3 Rhone varieties and 3 Alsatian varieties – Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Viognier, Reisling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer. This diverse population of differing cultures lives together. Surprisingly, the grapes reach ripeness at the same time, despite the different varieties being genetically prone to being over a month apart. The whole field is harvested together and made into a delicious orange wine, filled with aromatics including orange and lemon rind, lavender and herbal tea, with a very grippy tannic structure which melts in the mouth once food is introduced. Delicious!


by Charlie Simpson


Word of ze month "Bouchon" (Virtually obsolete object formerly used to close bottles in Australia)

Meaning: A cork or similar closure for a glass bottle.

Other uses: Bouchon Lyonnais – The original and best French bistro; meat, butter, potatoes! Coincé dans les bouchons – Stuck in a traffic jam. T’es bouché?! – You seem to be lacking intelligence. Mon p’tit bouchon – Oh, you’re so cute. Wanna cuddle?



[VIN JAUNE] Oxidation is your friend

The magic of Vin Jaune starts with perfectly (over)ripe Savagnin grown on Blue Marl soils, fermented and aged slowly in old seasoned oak barrels containing specific yeast populations from previous vintages of Jaune. The wines will spend 6 years and 3 months in these barrels, never topped-up, such that a “veil” of protective yeast will form on top of the wine. The wine is thus deliberately exposed to partial oxidation, partial yeast and enzyme transformation by the veil, the whole long process completely transforming the wine into a new being. The wine goes in to its cocoon as a young, exuberant, overripe Savagnin, and comes out the other side as a fabulous living creature, like a Phoenix born again, with the power and grace of a dragon, and a phenomenal defence against future oxidation (it is said that the wine can survive 100 years or more). Flavours are complex and surprising, with the whole palate of autumnal delights (especially confit fruits, walnuts and curry spice), straightened up by the intensity and freshness of the famous Jura acid backbone freight train, leaving the taster with minutes of flavour persistence per mouthful. This is a moving wine experience.



[WHAT'S GOING ON] The Sydney Boutique Wine Fair

The Sydney Boutique Wine Fair is on at The Oak Barrel in Sydney, on Saturday 16 July 2pm-6pm. Come and join in the fun!


[WHAT'S GOING ON] Manifeste pour le vin naturel by Antonin Iommi-Amunategui

The author suggests here a definition for Natural Wine, up until now missing, as well as a panorama of the different and divergent points of view which currently roam the planes of the natural wine world.

But moreover, he presents natural wine as the tip of the iceberg of societal change, which commences with agricultural revolution, natural wine being the flag ship.


Word of ze month "Canon" (Like “Can on!” but don’t pronounce the last “n”)

Meaning: Same as in English (a big fat gun type thing), but with a couple of extra street uses, which we like!

Uses: C’est canon! – That’s awesome! Elle est canon – she looks pretty good! Boire un canon – have a drink Un coup de canon – a hit of grog Payer un canon – to shout a round of drinks Descendre des canons – gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp……… Canon (pronouncing the “n” this time) – cameras and photocopiers etc.




One of the very noticeable outcomes of the modern wine revolution we are currently experiencing is the increasing importance placed on “Drinkability”. Synonyms include “Digestibility” and “Smashability”. In French, “Buvabilité”. These are mostly made up words, but which describe very well a concept that wines should be an easy pleasure to consume, with or without food.

This does not mean that such wines must be simple. In fact, the more complex they are aromatically and texturally the better. But their structure should be based on soft easy tannins, generous integrated acidity, fresh lifted flavours and a dry clean finish which leaves the soul cleansed and the palate refreshed and ready to sip again.

These are the sorts of wines that seem to do a Houdini disappearing act. The bottom of the bottle is an unexpected shock, it comes way too quickly, so you end up having to double up.

Naturally made Gamay wines often show a very high reading on the Drinkability Scale. Watch out for double orders…



[WHAT'S GOING ON] Natural Resistance - Film by Jonathan Nossiter

And what if agriculture was primarily a question of culture? Gathered under the Italian sun, a handful of vignerons and a cinema director share their passion for wine and cinéma. In just a few years, liberated farmers have transformed the face of wine and its market by producing a wine called "natural". With a taste for freedom, transmission, artisanal integrity and health of the planet (and its people) they have begun a resistance. Ten years after Mondovino, Jonathan Nossiter has gone to Italy in search of this resistance, and to meet some of these choosers of life.


WORD OF ZE MONTH "Rateau" (Sounds like “Chateau”, “Bateau”, or “Blotto”) Meaning: A rake. Good implement for gardening or starting a revolution in the absence of other arms. Uses: Passer le rateau – to rake the ground. Moustache en rateau – to have a big bushy upper lip (think Magnum P.I.). Se prendre un rateau – when a would-be suitor is sharply turned away by his would-be damsel.



[ MANIFESTO ] – Renaissance des Appellations

"In terms of taste and flavour in wine, these can only ever become original and inimitable through the stamp of a terroir and its microclimate. All over the planet, terroirs exist as the unique interaction of 4 factors in a matrix: heat, light, precipitation and geology. It is the combination of these factors that each plant will absorbe in its own way, thus creating the subtlety of each AOC (Controlled Appellation of Origine).

Our understanding of the particularities of this matrix in certain zones gives rise to the greatness of an AOC and guarantees consumers a taste linked to the uniqueness of place. For a vine to be able to absorb through its root system the uniqueness of its terroir (minerality of the soil and sub-soil, orientation, slope, etc.) the terroir must be living, and thus totally free from herbicides. And to correctly capture the many factors of climate (wind, sun exposure, humidity, etc.) the plant must be allowed to develop and grow as naturally as possible. In particular, the leaves must be free from all synthetic chemical products which disturb photosynthesis and the general development of the living plant.

When healthy agriculture (organic or biodynamic) allows a place to express itself through the vines, cellar technologies (and the secondary/arbitrary flavours they can generate) become useless and detrimental to such an expression of place. The wine thus retains its original taste and its ability to mature with total transparency and honesty for the consumer."

Nicolas Joly

[WHAT'S GOING ON] Mimi, Fifi & Glouglou / Dégustateurs de combat - Michel Tolmer - Les Editions de l'Epure

For those who don’t know yet, Michel Tolmer’s luckless heroes, Mimi, Fifi & Glouglou are back, more fervent than ever, to combat for the survival of wine. Sweat, blood, tears, chardonnay and grenache... This time, they have decided to engage more than ever in their favorite battle: the blind tasting. And no holds are barred! This beautiful satire dismantles gradually all oenological clichés, making a mockery of all those who should dare to expose themselves by talking about wine, treading on snobbery, ignorance and dogma along the way. This comic celebrates wine, especially “wine for buddies", made to be drunk, not talked about.


Word of ze month "Grappe" (false friend, does not translate directly to English "grape")

Meaning: Bunch, or cluster. Typically for fruit growing as berries in a conical shape.

Other uses: Grappe de raisins - a bunch of grapes Grappe entière - whole bunch (as in carbonic maceration, for example) Grappe de bars-à-vin - a bunch of wine-bars, what King's Cross used to boast Lâche moi la grappe! Give me a break! Leave me in peace!

Santé ! Charlie

[CEREBRAL MACERATION] or Carbonic Masturbation

Carbonic Maceration is a winemaking technique, brought to the height of its Art by some clever folk in Beaujolais, France. It is an utterly distasteful word, too technical and gassy to be said with a straight face, so it has been shortened to “Carbo” in France, and “Cab-Mac”, I heard recently in Australia.

And it seems to cause a really cerebral debate amongst late night drinkers, waxing on and off about whether the technique is a sacrilege to terroir, or stroke of genius for thirsty drinkers…

“Doing a Carbo” should create a juice with a very strong focus on bright and pungent fruit flavours, sometimes a bit unbelievably bon-bon-ish. The technique basically allows a winemaker to extract loads and loads of fruity flavours from the grapes, without extracting any tannin. The majority of this happens before the alcoholic fermentation starts, or before it really gets under way. This opens the door to making a deliciously fruity and complex wine, with little to no tannin. Perfect for glugging chilled on a sunny day!

But Carbo wines also have a bad reputation amongst some thinkers, saying that the technique erases terroir and creates uniform “fake” flavours. Well, it seems important to note that light chillable reds are not the only possible result for Carbo wines. It is also possible to create medium to seriously structured wines.

Used as one of the shades in the pallet of options available to a natural winemaker, Carbo is a delicious and interesting option. We have tasted some long wood aged Carbo wines, and more often, wines that have been partially Carbo treated. The variety of flavours available is astounding, and we tend to think that terroir can in fact be identified in well made Carbo wines.

So in essence, we think that the wide spreading of Carbo techniques across the world has added possibility to the flavour spectrum, not taken anything away. And it has done wonders especially in the wine-bar sector, and as an original choice for restaurants to propose matching with lots of different dishes. And we drinkers are all the better for it!

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for “doing a Carbo” (by a non-winemaker, for non-winemakers).

First, delicately place your freshly harvested, pristine, undamaged whole bunches of grapes into a tank (stainless steel or resin usually), and seal it airtight.

Open the top valve and pump CO2 gas into the tank, from the bottom up, to allow all the oxygen rich air to be pushed out of the tank and replaced by the CO2 gas. Once the tank is filled with CO2, close the valve.

Wait a while, and let it all just hang out for a couple of weeks, you may need to top up the CO2 from time to time, especially early on.

During this time, the juice on the inside of the unbroken grapes will begin leeching flavour and some colour from the inside surface of the grape skins. This happens with the help of some friendly local natural enzymes.

Because there is no, or very little juice in the tank, there will be not much alcoholic fermentation happening. This is a dangerous thing, as grapes are very susceptible to oxidation and bacterial infection if left out, prior to an alcoholic fermentation getting under way. Hence the CO2 gas! If the tank is filled with CO2, there is therefore no oxygen, and where there is no oxygen, there should be no oxidation (evidently) and the bad bacteria can’t really survive either. Genius!

Once your Carbo has done its thing, you can then choose where you want your wine to go. For a light and fruity style, press the grapes and ferment the now colourful and fruity juice until it becomes wine. For a heavier, more complex style, crush the grapes and leave the skins in there for a bit while fermenting (but be careful, as the skins may have gotten a bit pungent during the Carbo). You can then age your wine in wood, concrete, terra cotta or anything else you like.

Chill, serve, and enjoy! Charlie