A good start…
The tasting on Friday 27 January 2023 at the Gazteluleku gastronomic society in Pamplona was unforgettable. The Gazteluleku tasting group has been meeting for almost 30 years (once a month) to taste and enjoy our hobby, first a tasting and then a dinner of brotherhood.
Entrance to Gazteluleku, photo by Miguel OsésIt is always difficult to find all wines to be at a great level, and it is normal to disappointed by some. But what happened at the end of January was memorable! We tasted five great wines that have been outstanding and above the average of what we are used to. 1.- Château Pichon Longueville 2015 Comtesse de Lalande Gran Cru Classée. Pauillac
- Intense colour
- Spectacular, powerful bouquet: spices blend with the wood and ripe red fruits. Very balanced.
- Harmonious, intense and long on the palate. Liquorice, tobacco, cocoa and blackberries. Atlantic wine.
- A success to be the first one to taste, without disappointing the great previous expectations. Justified its points and its very good reputation, with life ahead of it.
Since 2007 Champagne Roederer is the owner. Wine grapes composition: C.S 68%, Merlot 29%, C.F. 2%, Petit Verdot 1%. Planting density 10.000 vines/ 89 Has. of 40 years old vines. 18/20 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. 96 Parker points.
2.- LUCE 2015, Tenuta Luce. ToscanaThere is a lot of talk about terroir, a vineyard planted in the middle of nowhere among stones does not produce the same wines as other much more exuberant areas. LUCE shows it both on the nose and on the palate. Think Tuscan lifestyle. That's Luce but in wine form.
- Good colour, the layer is a little less than the previous one.
- Opulent nose, black cherry, blackcurrant, leather and pipe tobacco.
- A Mediterranean wine on the palate with good integrated alcohol, with an aftertaste that lingers for quite some time in the retronasal. You will get green pepper, pepper, blackberries, herbaceous notes...
3.- AMARONE DellaValpolicella 2017 Classico Allegrini
- A different wine, made from raisined grapes.
- Deep black layer
- Opulent aroma where you can appreciate the fruit and the well-integrated sweetness.
- In the mouth, it is an explosion of ripe fruit, spicy with good acidity.
- A wine to remember
4.- Altura Maxima Salta 2011 Malbec Argentina
- Possibly the best Argentinian wine.
- Very full of colour.
- Aroma where the rustic and the primary are in line, and impresses with its length.
- An unforgettable mouth, where the rusticity rises to high levels, for its roundness, balance and good passage.
- A wine that most of us did not know and has left an unforgettable memory.
- Languedoc continues to surprise us.
- A good layer, but less intense than the previous ones.
- Fresh aroma of fruit (kirsch, cassis), well integrated and vibrant.
- In the mouth it is harmonious, fresh, pleasant, easier to drink than the previous ones. But with a gratifying passage with flavours of chocolate and spices.
Corks, in perfect condition
Unusual high scores, but reflecting the enormous quality of all the wines, and the exceptionality of this selection, which ended to unanimous applause.
The dinner, which in this exceptional case, was a Friday lunch, was a real highlight. Carried out by Carlos Velázquez and Carlos Marañon.The appetizer An unusual starter. On toasted brioche, a salted butter cream with marrow (recovered from the second course), with a little grated Grana Padano, black pepper and grated truffle on top. A delightful accompaniment to a good rosé wine of Petit Verdot from Ciudad Real. The starter Carbonara is a humble, shepherds' dish. And as a humble dish, it is usually simple and easy to prepare. With two basic premises. One, it has to be finished practically at the moment we are going to eat it. Two, no cream, it is totally forbidden. The ingredients are easy to find and, as a good Italian dish, simple to make. A good pasta, quality eggs of which we will only use the yolks, a good smoked bacon with abundant white streak and extra virgin olive oil. The bacon is poached in extra virgin olive oil to obtain a fat that is deeply flavoured with smoke, and the hot cooked pasta is poured over it to mix it with the fat and give it flavour. Grated Granna Padano cheese and a little of the cooking water are then added until the whole is juicy. Plate by plate, serve as much as you like and break two egg yolks on each plate, stirring again. This simple little trick is what gives the carbonara its unctuousness and delicious flavour. To close the dish, and as we were at a truffle-themed meal, we grated black truffle on top and closed the dish with some thin slices of the same bacon which, with the heat of the pasta, sweat and remain transparent on the plate. The second dish To celebrate the fact that this weekend, the last weekend in January, Peralta is celebrating the 3rd Thistle Day (Thistle or Cardoon, a source of health), we take Julie Andrieu's hand and go to Lyon, on the banks of the Rhône, to prepare the flagship dish of the Brotherhood of the Cardon de Vaulx de Velin, Gratin de Cardons, also known as Cardons à la Lyonnaise. The traditional recipe is prepared with a butter roux to which is added a broth made from vegetables and cane bones. The marrow in this case has been used as an appetizer, and a good portion of grated truffle has been added instead when mixing the sauce with the cardoon. Emmental cheese for the gratin and, when presenting the hot dish, truffle slices on top. Dessert For dessert, the famous La Viña cheesecake, with a good portion of cream cheese, cream and eggs, accompanied by a scoop of cream ice cream. Inside the tart, the remains of the truffle used throughout the meal (80 g of Tuber melanosporum nabarra). Conclusion To make gifts, to arrange flowers, to improve the decoration of a room, to make the most of your clothes, you have to have art. Everything fits together for some hidden reason. That ulterior motive is beauty. When there is emotion in front of something, beauty is present. In this first meeting of 2023 it was a meeting with art, art because all the wines, all of them displayed an outstanding level. Art because the truffle dishes had just the right amount of truffle and were splendidly executed. And art because the comments from all the attendees were splendid. It was a day very difficult to forget and to repeat, because art is not found every day, it is not felt every day and this first meeting in January was simply art. An exercise in art. A very good atmosphere, caused by the great satisfaction of a good drink and a good meal. It was the homage we needed to forget for a while all the problems of everyday life. The combination of the above with a good company of friends produced in all of us a great enjoyment. In essence a good start ...to 2023, which we don't know what it will bring.
Carlos Velázquez, Carlos Marañon, Juan Narvaiza y Ricardo Guelbenzu
Surprise records by “cognac” Fundador
KISS MY GLASS masterclasses around the world
Here you can find some of her other works: florianeminy.comMore news very soon about the very first event in IG: @winedefenders and in facebook: We Are Wine Defender !
Back to the Future : Castillo de Ygay 1925
The same can be said of this Marques de Murrieta, it has a style and energy that you can breathe in immediately. Crazy, indescribable. Tasting note: better not to use words. Something so strong that it can only be felt. It produces pure emotion."But Doc, you built a time machine out of a DeLorean? - In my opinion, if you're going to do something like this, do it in style."
"This is electric but it would need nuclear power to generate the required electricity".
Yes, this wine is also electric, pure energy. An acidity as lively as the whole of humanity and it has a good balance, rare to find at this age.
“Live in the House of the Future: Today!”Oxymoron! And by tasting wines like Castillo de Ygay 1925 we can achieve it, we will feel just as cool as Ygay, it has a magical balance, and as Siniestro Total predicted in his song 'hand in hand, towards extinction'. Let's live in the house of the future today, in a 1925 energy capsule, right here and now.
"Hey, Doc. We don't have enough road to go 88 miles. - Road? Where we're going, we won't need roads."
Where we are going we won't need either Amazon nor Aliexpress, Carpe Diem friends, lets be happy whenever we can manage it, let's not let that DeLorean of emotion escape from us, and in a vital challenge, let's travel to the past and to the future whenever we want in a flash, but always enjoying the present in every precious instant.
A Taste of Chillida : Vertical tasting of Abadia Retuerta’s white ‘Le Domaine Blanco’
Chillida Leku with Luis Chillida and vertical tasting of 10 vintages in magnum format of Abadia Retuerta's white 'Le Domaine Blanco'.
A Taste of Chillida
There are conversations that inspire you, that make an impression on you and that totally hit you. There is nothing more beautiful than listening to a son talk about his father with deep admiration, and if that son is Luis Chillida, it is even more exciting.
What a surprise, arriving at the Chillida-Leku past 25th of april in Donosti for a vertical tasting of 10 vintages of Le Domaine Blanco from Abadía Retuerta, which already promised to be unforgettable and also, to meet Luis Chillida for a walk around Chillida's place (literal translation of Chillida-Leku) and learn first-hand about the life and work of his father Eduardo, the famous Basque sculptor who created the 'Comb of the Sea' in Ondarreta, and so many other amazing sculptural works.
Luis Chillida, in front of a work by his father Eduardo Chillida in Chillida-Leku
Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002) decided many things in his life, discarding what he did not want to be, as happened to him with architecture, which he soon became disillusioned with along the way. At other times, fate made decisions for him, as when he was 19 years old and a sensation at Real Sociedad as a goalkeeper, an injury forced him to give up football, which allowed him to pursue other, more artistic pursuits.
When he started working in Hernani, where he moved with his family, he came across iron, which introduced a fundamental change in his career.
For him, learning consisted in the repetition of confronting what you don't know how to do. You need to open your mind. Are you familiar with the idea of getting out of your comfort zone? Well, that's what it is! You have to dare more, and you have to be less comfortable.
It took him 26 years to make the 'Comb of the Sea' (Peine del Viento) since he had the first idea, walking by the sea with his wife Pilar Belzunce. We ask ourselves, what is time in reality? It is nothing more than something elastic and relative. All we have is the present. Are we stressed? Well, time to relax, to breathe deeply and to savour time.
Chillida worked being conscious of the value of what he did, not the price. Well, what luck some people will say. But let's not forget that to do the impossible, you first have to dream it.
Chillida never wanted to make replicas of his works and only ever agreed to make a maximum of 10 replicas. He called himself a 'ruminant', Luis tells us, as he took his time for everything. Something that is very difficult nowadays, as we live very fast, and that would be good for all of us. To take possession of time. To stop it. To savour it.
So he decided not to make reproductions to reach the masses, and he had a great idea, to place one of his works in a public space, where everyone is the owner, a revolutionary concept for the time, back in '57, the beginning of public works.
Eduardo Chillida wanted to be freer, not to limit his works to having to make something small in order to exhibit them, so he found what he called his little Basque Country (Chillida-Leku), a space without limitations, where he could express himself and exhibit his work.
In the summer of 2021 I saw a fabulous concert of The Jayhawks from Minnesota in Chillida-Leku, with a glass of wine and hammocks, a marvel, Eduardo would have been proud, even if his favourite music was Bach.
And now we go to the incredible tasting of 10 historic vintages of Abadía Retuerta's Guarda white wine, Le Domaine !
The fruit of chance or destiny, like all great things, as some white grape vines were planted in the middle of a red grape vineyard by mistake. Initially they thought it was Merlot, but surprise! Sauvignon blanc was there to stay and to become one of the great whites of Spain, fruit of the union with a Verdejo blend. From the sun-drenched Pago de la Raya, with natural water reserves, the terroir of sand and pebbles produced a marvel.
It is always a pleasure to see Enrique Valero and Álvaro Perez Navazo, and my father gave my regards to them and to the Navarran winemaker Ángel Anocíbar. And on top of all that, we sat with my partner in crime in Mugaritz,, Kristell Monot alongside with two Rekondo ambassadors, including Iñigo Galatas, and members of the friendly tasting group called the Irrekonductibles, and also the charming Enrique Larumbe from Eurogap. What a team we have put together and what a luxury tasting. After Enrique's passionate introduction, Álvaro's explanations were impeccable with mastery and patience.
Well, the Sauvignon blanc was introduced by a kind of error in his vineyards, blessed mistake, because from then on they kept on growing, the experiments started later. Le Domaine Blanco usually has 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Verdejo, and 7 to 8 months in French oak barrels. Let's go to the tasting impressions, although I have to admit that I concentrated more on enjoying them to focus on the present, as Eduardo would have done. It is not every day that you taste magnum bottles of whites wines with such style!2011 : Extreme intensity, vanilla, butter and fine, creamy pastry, with a touch of turmeric. And yet, a freshness on the palate thanks to the acidity. At first it reminded me of the aromas of a Tokaj. It was a warm vintage. I can see Kristell's eyes, it's her favourite! And so it is for a lot of people. 2012 : Apricot, honey, flowers, a touch of menthol and much more freshness, very long and dynamic in the mouth, this is more my style! It was harvested earlier and with 50% of used barrels. 2013 : A great blend, with the nose of 2011 and the palate of 2012. 2014 : On the nose it keeps the aromatics of house, and on the palate lighter and fresher, citric and aromatic. 2015 : On the nose it still has that a slightly tropical complexity, but in the mouth it has more volume, also very fresh. 2016 : It rained in spring, with more production, more heat. Aromas of dried apricots and warmth on the nose and more weight on the palate 14% (instead of the usual 13.5%). 2017 : pleasant petrol aromas reminding of riesling, slight reduction, more intense aroma. Year of drought and frost. 2018 : Again fresh and minty, more mineral. Product of a cold vintage with sunshine at the end. 2019 : On the nose, it maintains the house style. More electric, on the palate, lots of freshness even though it is a warm vintage. Slightly pétillant. 2020: The year of mildew! Yes, it was not only the year of Covid. There was a lot of humidity and temperature, they decided not to treat the vines. They were right as the fungus did not reproduce, luck or destiny! Good volume in the mouth and good production.
To top it all off, we finished on site sitting on the terrace with chef Marc Segarra from El Refectorio in Valladolid, who was there to make us taste some of his creations after the tasting.
And here we are each one of us with our favourite glass of Le Domaine in hand and these ephemeral and delicious kandinskians gastronomic art pieces. With Mondays like this, the weeks are unforgettable.
A Summer in the Grisons : Visiting Pilgrim
Last summer it was time for me to visit the Grisons, yes! It is close by and its wines have impressed me for a long time.
The region of the Grisons (or Graubünden) is the Swiss capital of Pinot Noir, no offence to any Valaisan, but the freshness and delicacy of Pinot Noir in the Grisons stands out above all. Grisons is also the easternmost Swiss canton, the most extensive and the least densely populated, and where nature is undoubtedly the protagonist, surrounded by mountains and valleys. For many, it is the "Swiss Burgundy" that stretches along the Rhine River from Bonaduz to the village of Fläsch. For us, Grisons has a personality of its own, and for that, you only have to take a walk through its vineyards.
Grisons has about 400 ha of vineyards in total, and it's Switzerland's 10th largest wine producer, with an average of 80% red wines. Beware that they also produce super interesting white wines (from Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc) and they also have a wonderful indigenous white grape variety which is a hidden gem, called Completer.
The main wine growing region in Grisons is the "Bündner Herrschaft", which includes the villages of Fläsch, Maienfeld, Jenins and Malans.
Then there is the Rhine valley of Chur "Churer Rheintal", and finally "Le Mesocco", a small vineyard area near the Ticino (Italian part of Switzerland).
These alpine valleys which form the Grisons have been formed by the Rhine Glacier, and have a very interesting soil, with lots of clay, granite and limestone. An average altitude of 600m, and the protection of the Foehn wind (from the German "Föhn") is a dry wind, which warms up as it descends the mountain range. This no doubt helps the Pinot Noir to ripen.
Our first visit is to the creators of the wine Pilgrim, Möhr-Niggli Weingut in Maienfeld, the winery of Matthias Gubler and Sina Möhr.
Matthias Gubler from Pilgrim, Möhr-Niggli Weingut
Matthias welcomes us and we are so ready to start a face-to-face encounter with the producer. We are very excited when he asks us if we would be interested in tasting directly from the barrel with him. And the answer of course is: Yes!! It's like a chef passing you the spoon from the pot to taste his unfinished creation. Not everyone is prepared for such an honour, and you have to be a dedicated and open-minded wine lover, not to judge the wine by its current state, but to assess where it is and how it will evolve, to sense it, to listen to it. In any case, what an absolute opportunity and what an incredible reception.
Möhr-Niggli Weingut is a family winery, a hand by hand work between Matthias and Sina. They previously worked in Italy, France, Chile and in California, until they returned to work Sina's family vineyards, hence the name of their wine Pilgrim, as wine pilgrims, starting the first selection of vines in 2008. Matthias explained talking about the hail: "I saw the storm approaching on Thursday ... It's not the end of the world, it's not over yet". This is the post-covid and pre-harvest feeling, a constant struggle of observation and decision. There are always setbacks, you have to be prepared and observe all the time.
Magnvs 2018 : An absolute bomb, a parcel wine, calcareous soil, and we tasted it from the barrel. A super powerful and crazy Pinot Noir, only available in Magnum, because in 1.5L, everything tastes better. Something made in small quantities. Huge keeping potential.
Clos Martha 2018: A floral and delicate Pinot Noir, limestone soil, ready to give pleasure, very juicy, with lots of black fruits and a nice surprise. About 1000 bottles per year.
Pilgrim 2018: One of their first creations and a powerful Pinot Noir, full of colour, with an intense aroma of violets, freshness, balsamic and toasted notes, all intertwined as in a wonderful melody. Pilgrim is between 6000 to 8000 bottles, depending on the year. I have to admit that it is the first wine I discovered from this winery thanks to Mövenpick Vins and it is one of the Grisons Pinot Noir that has impressed me the most, for its dynamics, power and elegance. And comparing it with the king of Grisons, Pinot Noir Gantenbein, I choose Pilgrim! Because I don't have the patience to keep a Gantenbein for so long, and because Pilgrim (as a wine) has opened up to me showing what is there, what it has, without beating around the bush, and for me that is something magical. Moreover, it also has a long ageing potential and the price it has for the pleasure it gives is in much more harmony. Pilgrim costs less than 50 Swiss Francs and Gantenbein is closer to 150 Swiss Francs.
Pinot Noir Möhr-Niggli 2018 : A surprisingly casual and pleasurable Pinot Noir, historically made in the cellar. About 15,000 bottles a year in 2020, but in 2019 for example it was about 7000 bottles. An average of 30% less overall in 2019.
Graf 2018 : A Pinot Noir from sandstone, with a lot of freshness and another dimension, inside and outside.
Have I mention that most of the Grisons wineries work under the rules of Biodynamic agriculture and so does Pilgrim? Now you know!
Thank you so much for everything, Matthias and Sina, we are now even more fans of your work and your wine creations. Follow them on instagram here: @thepilgrimage2008 to know more about them and see the wonders of the Grisons through their eyes.