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Biodynamics Posters by Hawk Wakawaka!

Biodynamics PostersYou people are sure nice. I finally got pushed into figuring out how to have posters printed, as well as how to sell them cause people kept pestering me. Geez, I’m slow sometimes.

So, by request — Biodynamics Posters now available! 13″ x 17.5″ on matte white poster paper. $30 plus shipping.

Ships in a poster tube within 2 days of payment to anywhere with a shipping address!

Order via Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/208312856/biodynamics-treatments-poster-poster-of?ref=shop_home_active_1

I’m slowly building an Etsy shop with Wakawaka goods for sale. So, if you have a request drop me a line and let me know!

If you would like to purchase Pho t-shirts, I still have a few more available. Those can be purchased through the Etsy site too.

Cheers!

4

Biodynamics Posters

Interested in a Biodynamics poster?

I’m picking up poster samples this week of the following image. It will be available for purchase here.

If you’re interested in buying one, email me (lilyelainehawkwakawaka (at) gmail (d0t) com). Biodynamics Poster

For those of you curious about what biodynamics is all about, here’s a look back at some comics that explain the ideas behind the farming philosophy, including more on the treatments shown in the poster.

Biodynamics & Wine: or, What poop, crystals, and the moon have in common

(click on images to enlarge)

Biodynamics in the Farm Biodynamics in the Cosmost Biodynamics in the Vineyard Biodynamic Treatments

Cheers!

Copyright 2014 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

 

In summer 2012, I was able to meet Jacques Lardière during the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in Willamette Valley. As part of the event program, Lardière presented, alongside Alder Yarrow, a retrospective of his work with Maison Louis Jadot. The primary focus of the tasting, however, turned out not to be the wines themselves as much as Lardière’s vivid, while difficult, views on biodynamics.

His talk was intensely challenging. Having studied biodynamics, and specialized too in metaphysics in philosophy, I was asked by several people to outline what I thought Lardière was saying. The following post is my response to that request.

This post originally appeared here on July 28, 2012 as part of a series on IPNC.

***

Thank you to Eric Asimov for recommending this write-up in the July 31, 2012 edition of The New York Times Diner’s Journal “What We’re Reading.”

***

Meeting Jacques Lardiere, Understanding Biodynamics

“We never have the same number of wines every year. Some vintages are less. We reduce the amounts to focus only on the very good villages. We think for our customers to have only the best.” –Jacques Lardière, Maison Louis Jadot

Yesterday afforded the opportunity to listen to Jacques Lardière discuss his philosophy of wine making, as it connects to an entire system of understanding about the differences between Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and Village wines, via the metaphysical forces Lardière recognizes through biodynamic principles. Following is my understanding of Lardière’s discussion.

Jacques Lardiere

“On a good vintage, you work less because it matches you. It matches your stomach, it matches you.” –Jacques Lardière

Lardière explains that at Maison Louis Jadot the goal is to focus on a broad range of areas within Burgundy. The focus includes varying places to grow grapes and make wine from as a way to both support the house financially, but also to understand the life of the vine, and making of the wine from different locations. Towards these ends, then, Jadot depends upon two levels of wine making practices. First, the house farm harvests and makes wine from their own land in Burgundy. Second, however, and Lardière emphasizes the importance of this, they also have contracts with vineyards throughout the region.

As Lardière explains, Grand Cru and Premier Cru are very small portions of the area. Besides making these more developed styles of wine, he states that it is important also to “make simple wine.” One of the primary reasons includes that in being able to sell it quickly for more immediate consumption, you can support the financial base of the winery. But the reasons are greater. The other sites also offer, what for Lardière is not just a learning experience but also a spiritual opportunity. As he puts it, “we can work on it. It can reveal the mother form.”

Repetition of the word power is at the center of Lardière’s discussion of what wine can do, and where it comes from. In considering where the distinctions between Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village, etc levels of wine distinction arise, Lardière describes what he calls “lines of power” present throughout the planet. The lines of power seem to fall along geologically important intersection zones, sometimes volcanic, sometimes from tectonic plates rubbing together, or from other forms of land movement and development.

As Lardière explains, in such activities the rocks warm, and more mineral molecules are released, thereby being available to the plants in a fuller way. But he says too that there is a sense in which people can feel these lines of power. As he describes it, there are times when you may be walking along a line of power feel its benefit, then as you walk away the positive effect becomes less and less, as you go back, more and more until you are on top of it, like an energetic version of the children’s game Hot/Cold/Warmer.

Jacques Lardiere

In Lardière’s view, the Grand Cru sites are directly along these lines of power. The vines are able to work less along these zones to simply receive the benefits of this energetic line, and thereby produce wine that has less undesirable flavor or sediment. But in Lardière’s view the flavor potentials of Grand Cru wine should not be seen as held only at that high level of quality. Instead, his approach to making wine is to study how Grand Cru wine best shows its potential, and from that insight to then turn to less elevated classes of wine. “We start by understanding the top, and then go to the other ones to work with them.” He explains.

In describing how Grand Cru can reveal the potential of other classes of wine, Lardière first describes his view of what impacts a wine’s potential. The place is the first most important aspect of what goes into the wine, as Lardière understands it. But what he also knows is that Burgundy itself is one terroir.

The region as a whole offers a similar sense of place. The different villages within Burgundy all live within this terroir, this unique place, but then offer their own differing potentials for aging. The Village is a fine tuning of the terroir as a whole. Then, third, there is the climate that impacts the quality of the wine from year to year. Finally, there are the Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites, which are the most subtle shifts in the development, and potential of the wine.

What happens in the growth of the vine, as Lardière describes it, is the movement of molecules from the ground, up into the plant, and finally out in the flowering. All of life is vibration, he says, as we know from physics. Vibration is how the plants grow, how they exist, what they are, how we receive from them, and what we are, as well.

“If you plant the flower, you move the star,” quoting an unreferenced poet to illustrate. The ground, as we know, is full of minerals, but in planting we release the minerality (which Lardière continually references as the power itself). Minerals, Lardière explains, are the life. The quality of the mineral that the plant is able to receive and grow from is what determines how much life the wine will have–both in terms of age-ability in the bottle, and in terms of how well the wine does after the bottle is opened. This is a distinction to be found between the wines of the Grand Cru, and those Village wines, but it is also an insight that can be taken in the handling of making Village wines.

The Grand Cru sites, according to Lardière, “match” the plants better. They simply receive what they need, and so grow with this life. Then, the wine, in turn, matches us, as humans, and we receive what we need too. Wine, in general, he reminds us, has medicinal properties. When he was growing up, he says, if a child fell and hurt themselves the parents would give them a small glass of wine. This is true of all wines, but Grand Cru helps us to better recognize it, and so then to know how to make all wines better.

As Lardière describes, it used to be that people only planted in the right places, where plants were best served by the ground. But now people plant in zones that offer not only the purer power of the minerals but also in places where the plants take up aspects that are not healthy for them or for us. What is absorbed in these areas is a denser matter that weighs the expression of the wine down in the glass. What you taste is more of a heaviness, rather than the freedom of the wine. Here one must allow the wine more time before it can be ready to show what it has to offer and, as he puts it, to release the life–the most beautiful wine.

The flavors and quality possible from a wine are the life, according to Lardière. Not all wine is treated in a way that allows this life to be released. It is easier, as he says, to make a wine that has only a couple hundred flavoral components, rather than to take the risk of allowing a wine to have four thousand.

It takes time “for the molecules in the wine to be digested, to become mature and deliver the life” of the wine. But to give the wine this time is a genuine risk. To allow it to happen depends on letting the wine close in the barrel, to turn in on itself and hide, in a way. In letting the wine close down, it has the opportunity to work through what is in it and to release the sediment that is denser and not part of the pure expression of what the wine can be. In giving the wine time to work on itself, so to speak, you are taking the risk of having to wait, of losing the wine for a time without knowledge of what it will be when it comes back after. But it will come back, Lardière claims, it will come back having found its freedom by releasing the sediment that had weighed it down. The wine’s freedom is its fuller expression–its life with four thousand flavors.

Jacques Lardiere

The process of allowing the wine to transform itself reveals to us, Lardière says, important aspects of our own mortality, and potential. We are almost entirely minerals. “When I pass away” he says, “I will be only minerals, (laughing) oh, and a few other small things. It is important to remember that.” The wine making, it is “a process of transmutation, and it could also be a process of transfiguration,” when you allow it the time to find its freedom and its full expression.

The process of the ground growing the vines, the vines then giving the fruit, the fruit then turning into wine–these are all processes of transformation, of one thing turning into something else. But our own involvement in wine making is actually a kind of spiritual training for us as well. In the earliest stages of our spiritual development we are there as the grapes turn in to wine. In this moment, Lardière tells us, “you forget the grapes.” They are no longer there as fruit, we recognize them now as wine. But this is no small thing, he says.

In forgetting the grapes, “you become something that has a name.” We recognize the beverage in front of us as a particular type of thing. But our doing so also reflects a stage of our identifying the world around us, and so too ourselves. We are no longer just beings having experiences, we are also interpreting the world around us, that is, naming those experiences. But, this, according to Lardière, is an early stage in our development. It is necessary, but we come to see it is early in our own process of finding our own freedom.

Wine, when allowed to truly go through its process of closing down, so that it can come back later opened up again in its fuller expression, points us to the greater reality of our lives. When the wine is given the opportunity to go through its full process it comes back from its stage of closing down, and has changed its molecules–sediment has settled out, and above it is a purer wine.

In Lardière’s view this is when the wine is beginning to deliver its power, and to give the life. It has become something more than we could make. We began the process but to be witness to this greater expression, we had to, in a sense, let the wine go beyond us. In doing so, the wine comes back to show us the insight of the process–it becomes something greater than merely what we have named it to be. It becomes a thing that can out live us, and that carries with it a power that extends beyond whether we, as the wine maker, or any particular individual, are even present. In Lardière’s view, this is when the wine has become even more than us.

***

Thank you to Alder Yarrow for hosting Lardière’s presentation.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

3

Patrick Reuter’s Shape Tasting

close up of Dominio IV 2008 “In the Valley of Angels” Syrah, by Patrick Reuter

Studying aspects of wine or viticulture at UC Davis, it was standard practice for students to participate in regular wine tastings, taking notes on flavor and structure while tasting. Over time, substantial catalogs of wine notes were recorded, each student with their own notebook listing aspects of a wine experience.

During his studies, Patrick Reuter, co-owner and wine maker of Dominio IV Wines in Oregon, developed his own log listing characteristics of wines from weekly in depth tastings. Over time, however, he recognized that when he reviewed this information he’d recorded, he had no clear recollection of the wines themselves. The lists began to look remarkably the same–standard wine notes naming fruit, acid and tannin made no genuine impression on his memory.

close up of Dominio IV 2008 “In the Valley of Angels” Syrah, by Patrick Reuter

Reuter began experimenting with what impressions from wine did make sense to him, and found himself sketching notes of wine rather than listing attributes. What he found was that when he recorded the visual experience he had of a wine’s flavors, the memory of the wine remained. Looking back over his drawings of a wine experience, Reuter could more readily recall the wine he’d tasted, even long after.

close up of Dominio IV 2008 “In the Valley of Angels” Syrah, by Patrick Reuter

Eventually Reuter realized he could use his wine sketching as a tool for his wine making. One of the challenges with listed tasting notes is in how they treat wine as a static snapshot in time, as if all flavors and the structure present simultaneously. That is, tasting notes generally offer only a limited description of a wine, they do not show how the presentation changes in your mouth. But, by incorporating a sense of time and duration into his drawings, Reuter could record and then analyze a sense of the structure and layout of the wine as a whole. He could draw for himself an image of the wines presentation–whether it was all fruit up front; how full or not the mid-palate was; how long the finish carried and whether different flavors arose there. In doing so, he could then also see where a particular wine might be deficient, or overly powerful.

When it came to blending, he could draw the presentation of different barrels and then go back over the images to see where different barrels might best complement each other to produce a better blend. As Reuter explains, “you might have a barrel that is fruity up front, but then there is a gap [where the flavors fall away]. Visually you can see the gap. But another barrel, it might fill that gap. In the drawings, you can see that, and then use it for blending.”

Dominio IV 2008 “In the Valley of Angels” Syrah. Click on image to enlarge.

Moving from left to right shows the development of the wine over time. The width of the image from bottom to top shows how full the wine presents on the palate, and where the flavors and structure offer the most concentration.

Developing Shape Tasting

Dominio IV 2006 Tempranillo.

An early shape tasting image by Patrick Reuter

The image still shows the wine over time, with the large circles representing the late mid-palate, but Reuter had not yet incorporated text, or more subtle drawing elements into his tasting notes. As Reuter describes the experience of this tasting image–“The wine starts and you are rolling in texture. You come to the mid-palate and it’s so big you don’t know if you are going to come out the end of it. Then, suddenly it’s all finish.”

In recognizing his own interest in presenting wine visually, Reuter began reading more about synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway, like taste, triggers a response in another sensory pathway, like vision. The experience of synesthesia is such that people will do things like see flavors, or recognize certain letters with a particular color. Studies have shown that synesthesia is incredibly common in children, and that with acculturation the experience lessens for most people into adulthood. However, for some people, some synesthetic experience remains into adulthood. It also appears possible that such experiences can be cultivated.

A Shape Tasting Workshop for Wine Distributors led by Patrick Reuter. Photo by Patrick Reuter.

After developing a clearer sense of his own Shape Tasting method–an image shows wine presentation over time, left to right; rounder shapes represent fruits; colors purposefully reflect flavors; lines are acidity; x’s and checks are tannin and texture–Reuter was encouraged to share the process with others.

Recently, a visit from wine distributors getting familiar with Oregon wine was planned, and a visit to taste with Dominio IV was included for them. Reuter decided the best way to make his wines memorable for the visitors was to help them go more deeply into the experience, rather than just focus on a typical high speed tasting style. He prepared, then, to have them perform their own Shape Tasting process. After briefly tasting each of the wines, Reuter asked each person to select the wine that spoke to them most strongly, then to receive another pour of that wine and spend more time with it. He guided them through the Shape Tasting process and then everyone took half an hour to draw their experience of the wine, leaving then, with their own graphical representation of their favorite Dominio IV wine.

Dominio IV 2006 “Song” Syrah

In talking through Shape Tasting with Reuter, something amazing happens.

I’ve been asking him to walk me through how his experience of visually tasting wine works, and then too to tell me the steps he went through in developing his tasting images. The most recent ones (like the 2008 Syrah that opens this post through several close-ups, and the 2011 Viognier that follows next) I find so beautiful.

He tells me about work he did with Skip Walter in Seattle to get clearer on thinking of his Shape Tasting drawings as a kind of artistic graph. It is this combination of careful precision to drawing an accurate image of the wine’s duration and fullness of presentation, with the artistic expression of that, that fascinates me. Because of the determination to graph the process of tasting wine, the drawings offer a sort of mathematics of experience.

But then, unexpectedly, he pulls out the 2006 “Song” drawing (above) and points to the words incorporated into the image (the earlier images, like that for the 2006 Tempranillo, shown earlier above, notice have no text), and says, “that’s when I found your website.” I am stunned. And then he tells me how seeing my wine comics made him realize he could further develop his Shape Tasting images to be both more accessible, or readable to people in general in how they show others the experience of the wine, and to do so by offering something to both visual and textual learners. What he’s developed through this incorporation since is a pleasing aesthetic balance in the images. These drawings look to me at home in themselves.

I have been fascinated from the beginning by Reuter’s idea of Shape Tasting. I am generally interested in how others experience what they love (and the truth is, I don’t just get a list of flavors and attributes when I taste wine either). But, the drawings he has done most recently, I find the most beautiful both for how they integrate drawings with text, but also for how at ease with themselves they read to me. The 2011 “Still Life” Viognier drawing, shown below, and the 2008 “In the Valley of Angels” Syrah, at the top above, both understand what they’re doing in a way that makes the presence of the wine accessible as well. The same comfortable, while dynamic presence I recognize in these most recent drawings I also find consistently in Reuter’s Dominio IV wines. They offer a union of simplicity with richness I consistently find appealing.

Dominio IV 2011 “Still Life” Viognier (not yet colored).

Reuter shows me his Shape Tasting image for the 2011 Viognier we have just tasted, then describes how Viognier, for him, offers a kind of dual personality. It opens with so much fruit, you could almost think it was Chardonnay at first, he explains. But then it changes, and the second half of the wine is more like Riesling, all lines of acidity and motion. Reuter’s drawing beautifully captures that two sided, while coherent nature. I am convinced.

***

Dominio IV Wines are biodynamically farmed, and family owned in Oregon by Patrick Reuter, and Leigh Bartholomew. Their winery is located in Willamette Valley, and they also own The Three Sleeps biodynamically farmed vineyard in Columbia Gorge. Additionally, they source some sustainably farmed fruit from Southern Oregon.

Dominio IV Wines are available through their website in both:

Wine Shop: http://www.dominiowines.com/index.php?page=shop.browse&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=56&vmcchk=1&Itemid=56

and

Wine Club: http://www.dominiowines.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=38

To hear more on Shape Tasting from Patrick himself, check out this series of videos of Patrick Reuter walking Jeff Weissler of Conscious Wine through the process: http://consciouswine.com/tasting-wine-shape-tasting-dominio-iv/

Thank you to Patrick Reuter for taking the time to meet with me and share his Shape Tasting with me.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

Thank you to Eric Asimov for mentioning this write-up in the July 31 edition of The New York Times Diner’s Journal “What We’re Reading.”

***

Meeting Jacques Lardiere, Understanding Biodynamics

“We never have the same number of wines every year. Some vintages are less. We reduce the amounts to focus only on the very good villages. We think for our customers to have only the best.” –Jacques Lardière, Maison Louis Jadot

Yesterday afforded the opportunity to listen to Jacques Lardière discuss his philosophy of wine making, as it connects to an entire system of understanding about the differences between Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and Village wines, via the metaphysical forces Lardière recognizes through biodynamic principles. Following is my understanding of Lardière’s discussion.

“On a good vintage, you work less because it matches you. It matches your stomach, it matches you.” –Jacques Lardière

Lardière explains that at Maison Louis Jadot the goal is to focus on a broad range of areas within Burgundy. The focus includes varying places to grow grapes and make wine from as a way to both support the house financially, but also to understand the life of the vine, and making of the wine from different locations. Towards these ends, then, Jadot depends upon two levels of wine making practices. First, the house farm harvests and makes wine from their own land in Burgundy. Second, however, and Lardière emphasizes the importance of this, they also have contracts with vineyards throughout the region. As Lardière explains, Grand Cru and Premier Cru are very small portions of the area. Besides making these more developed styles of wine, he states that it is important also to “make simple wine.” One of the primary reasons includes that in being able to sell it quickly for more immediate consumption, you can support the financial base of the winery. But the reasons are greater. The other sites also offer, what for Lardière is not just a learning experience but also a spiritual opportunity. As he puts it, “we can work on it. It can reveal the mother form.”

Repetition of the word power is at the center of Lardière’s discussion of what wine can do, and where it comes from. In considering where the distinctions between Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village, etc levels of wine distinction arise, Lardière describes what he calls “lines of power” present throughout the planet. The lines of power seem to fall along geologically important intersection zones, sometimes volcanic, sometimes from tectonic plates rubbing together, or from other forms of land movement and development. As Lardière explains, in such activities the rocks warm, and more mineral molecules are released, thereby being available to the plants in a fuller way. But he says too that there is a sense in which people can feel these lines of power. As he describes it, there are times when you may be walking along a line of power feel its benefit, then as you walk away the positive effect becomes less and less, as you go back, more and more until you are on top of it, like an energetic version of the children’s game Hot/Cold/Warmer.

In Lardière’s view, the Grand Cru sites are directly along these lines of power. The vines are able to work less along these zones to simply receive the benefits of this energetic line, and thereby produce wine that has less undesirable flavor or sediment. But in Lardière’s view the flavor potentials of Grand Cru wine should not be seen as held only at that high level of quality. Instead, his approach to making wine is to study how Grand Cru wine best shows its potential, and from that insight to then turn to less elevated classes of wine. “We start by understanding the top, and then go to the other ones to work with them.” He explains.

In describing how Grand Cru can reveal the potential of other classes of wine, Lardière first describes his view of what impacts a wine’s potential. The place is the first most important aspect of what goes into the wine, as Lardière understands it. But what he also knows is that Burgundy itself is one terroir. The region as a whole offers a similar sense of place. The different villages within Burgundy all live within this terroir, this unique place, but then offer their own differing potentials for aging. The Village is a fine tuning of the terroir as a whole. Then, third, there is the climate that impacts the quality of the wine from year to year. Finally, there are the Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites, which are the most subtle shifts in the development, and potential of the wine.

What happens in the growth of the vine, as Lardière describes it, is the movement of molecules from the ground, up into the plant, and finally out in the flowering. All of life is vibration, he says, as we know from physics. Vibration is how the plants grow, how they exist, what they are, how we receive from them, and what we are, as well. “If you plant the flower, you move the star,” quoting an unreferenced poet to illustrate. The ground, as we know, is full of minerals, but in planting we release the minerality (which Lardière continually references as the power itself). Minerals, Lardière explains, are the life. The quality of the mineral that the plant is able to receive and grow from is what determines how much life the wine will have–both in terms of age-ability in the bottle, and in terms of how well the wine does after the bottle is opened. This is a distinction to be found between the wines of the Grand Cru, and those Village wines, but it is also an insight that can be taken in the handling of making Village wines. The Grand Cru sites, according to Lardière, “match” the plants better. They simply receive what they need, and so grow with this life. Then, the wine, in turn, matches us, as humans, and we receive what we need too. Wine, in general, he reminds us, has medicinal properties. When he was growing up, he says, if a child fell and hurt themselves the parents would give them a small glass of wine. This is true of all wines, but Grand Cru helps us to better recognize it, and so then to know how to make all wines better.

As Lardière describes, it used to be that people only planted in the right places, where plants were best served by the ground. But now people plant in zones that offer not only the purer power of the minerals but also in places where the plants take up aspects that are not healthy for them or for us. What is absorbed in these areas is a denser matter that weighs the expression of the wine down in the glass. What you taste is more of a heaviness, rather than the freedom of the wine. Here one must allow the wine more time before it can be ready to show what it has to offer and, as he puts it, to release the life–the most beautiful wine.

The flavors and quality possible from a wine are the life, according to Lardière. Not all wine is treated in a way that allows this life to be released. It is easier, as he says, to make a wine that has only a couple hundred flavoral components, rather than to take the risk of allowing a wine to have four thousand. It takes time “for the molecules in the wine to be digested, to become mature and deliver the life” of the wine. But to give the wine this time is a genuine risk. To allow it to happen depends on letting the wine close in the barrel, to turn in on itself and hide, in a way. In letting the wine close down, it has the opportunity to work through what is in it and to release the sediment that is denser and not part of the pure expression of what the wine can be. In giving the wine time to work on itself, so to speak, you are taking the risk of having to wait, of losing the wine for a time without knowledge of what it will be when it comes back after. But it will come back, Lardière claims, it will come back having found its freedom by releasing the sediment that had weighed it down. The wine’s freedom is its fuller expression–its life with four thousand flavors.

The process of allowing the wine to transform itself reveals to us, Lardière says, important aspects of our own mortality, and potential. We are almost entirely minerals. “When I pass away” he says, “I will be only minerals, (laughing) oh, and a few other small things. It is important to remember that.” The wine making, it is “a process of transmutation, and it could also be a process of transfiguration,” when you allow it the time to find its freedom and its full expression. The process of the ground growing the vines, the vines then giving the fruit, the fruit then turning into wine–these are all processes of transformation, of one thing turning into something else. But our own involvement in wine making is actually a kind of spiritual training for us as well. In the earliest stages of our spiritual development we are there as the grapes turn in to wine. In this moment, Lardière tells us, “you forget the grapes.” They are no longer there as fruit, we recognize them now as wine. But this is no small thing, he says. In forgetting the grapes, “you become something that has a name.” We recognize the beverage in front of us as a particular type of thing. But our doing so also reflects a stage of our identifying the world around us, and so too ourselves. We are no longer just beings having experiences, we are also interpreting the world around us, that is, naming those experiences. But, this, according to Lardière, is an early stage in our development. It is necessary, but we come to see it is early in our own process of finding our own freedom.

Wine, when allowed to truly go through its process of closing down, so that it can come back later opened up again in its fuller expression, points us to the greater reality of our lives. When the wine is given the opportunity to go through its full process it comes back from its stage of closing down, and has changed its molecules–sediment has settled out, and above it is a purer wine. In Lardière’s view this is when the wine is beginning to deliver its power, and to give the life. It has become something more than we could make. We began the process but to be witness to this greater expression, we had to, in a sense, let the wine go beyond us. In doing so, the wine comes back to show us the insight of the process–it becomes something greater than merely what we have named it to be. It becomes a thing that can out live us, and that carries with it a power that extends beyond whether we, as the wine maker, or any particular individual, are even present. In Lardière’s view, this is when the wine has become even more than us.

***

Thank you to Alder Yarrow for hosting Lardière’s presentation.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

3

At the start of the drive through California, Katherine and I were lucky enough to share an evening with Angela and Jason Osborne, and enjoy with them the first full vertical tasting of their wine, A Tribute to Grace, that they’ve ever hosted.

Our meeting Angela and Jason arose from a lucky suggestion made by Steve Morgan of Tribeca Grill. He’d been kind enough to host me at Tribeca Grill for several hours. We toured the wine cellars, and then talked through his work with the restaurant, ultimately getting around to our mutual love for comics, and his history in wine (write up to follow). At the end of the afternoon he pointed to a bottle in the upstairs wine cabinet and said, remember this one–I think you’d like her, and her wine. It turned out Angela had visited Tribeca Grill a few months before, and they carry her 2009 Santa Barbara Highlands vintage. That evening I set out to find contact info for Angela, and we were able to arrange a meeting on Katherine’s and my first evening in the larger Santa Barbara area.

A Tribute to Grace Grenache: Santa Barbara Highlands 2007-2010; Vogelzang 2009

click on comic to enlarge

I count myself blessed to have tasted through each of the current incarnations of A Tribute to Grace. Together they present a beautiful familial resemblance sharing delicate balance and body, plus a fascinating combination of fruits with spice, floral and earth elements. These are wines that embody their attribute of Grace.

The complete tasting consisted of four vintages from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, along with one Grenache made from the Vogelzang Vineyard.

2007 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Grace Grenache

The 2007 vintage began with a 4-day fermentation, made from 50% whole cluster and 50% de-stemmed grapes. The two were fermented separately but then blended completely in the end.

The use of sulfur was very low, as is consistent across each bottling of Grace Grenache. In the 2007 vintage 5 barrels were used, 2 of which were new. The vintages are each generally larger than the previous, with an average of two new barrels integrated to each. All of the vintages were bottled at 17 months on the 3rd day of the 3rd month (also Angela’s birthday), except for 2010, which was bottled on the 4th day of the 4th month.

The 2007 Grace offers a beautiful nose that shows as fresh and also spicy, with red fruit and berry and a fascinating dance of ripe apricot. Mixed pepper touches the wine without too much heat. The palate follows. This is a nicely balanced structure, that wants to present as well integrated alongside the flavor profile. The wine’s character is compelling, giving a tart and juicy, lively sensation in the mouth, all with a softened yet vibrant presentation of surprising fruits. This is a wine that is excited about itself, without being pushy in its desire to share what it has to offer.

2008 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Grace Grenache

Picked on Halloween and a full moon, the 2008 vintage was foot tred in costumes, complete with Marie Antoinette helping by lifting up her skirts in the bins. The grapes were 50% whole cluster, 50% de-stemmed and foot pressed after being rained on by a surprise seasonal storm. The rain water was pressed into the juice.

2008 opens as a dainty vintage with a lighter and higher note profile than the previous year. Still, even with the delicate presentation there is a core of strength in the structure of this wine. It drinks as a wine that is clear, centered, and certain of itself without the need to try for more or other than it is.

Again, the unique fruit profile shows here offered through red fruit and berry, ripe apricot, and notes of cooked down rhubarb. The fruit here is more cooked than fruit, without sliding into jam. But along with the concentrated fruit elements there is a freshness and delicacy of rain water that really does dance in this glass. Of the vintages the 2008 most readily celebrates its name.

(If any of you doubt me on the rain water suggestion–my great grandparents used only rain water for drinking and cooking when I was growing up so I was raised familiar with the rounder mouth feel and fresher flavor profile of rain water, versus the steely, dirt qualities of tap water.)

2009 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Grace Grenache

Earthiest of the collection, the 2009 vintage immediately offers cooked caramel and light leather notes on the nose, and opens to show more smoke. The red fruit and berry carries forward here and offer too perfumed aspects as well as it opens.

This vintage is the most brooding of the group, drinking with a greater richness and also a bit of a frustrated note, the tannins show here as both stronger, but also tighter in the mouth. The 2009 vintage stands between the delicate earlier vintages and the dirtier style of a Chateauneuf du Pape.

It was made with a 4 day cold soak, then moved outside to soak in the sun.

2010 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Grace Grenache

First of the vintages to be co-fermented, the 2010 Grace Grenache was made by alternating whole clusters with de-stemmed grapes in the bins then foot stomping them together. The bottling seems to have gone through some carbonic in bottle as it gives a light fizz in the mouth after opening.

2010 presents as more concentrated than would be expected with its age. There is a rich, sassy presentation with distinctly perfumed notes alongside spice, ticked red fruit and berry, red fruit leather, and light caramel.

2009 Vogelzang Vineyard Grace Grenache

In the Happy Canyon area of Santa Barbara county is the Vogelzang Vineyard. The lowland area is vastly different from the rugged, moonscape of the Santa Barbara Highlands vineyard. In 2009 Angela Osborne was offered a small Grenache contract with Vogelzang, and chose to do a site specific bottling from there. Ultimately, Angela felt she had to choose to continue with only one vineyard for time management reasons and selected to stick with the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard she’d developed such a strong relationship with.

Osborne’s view of the Vogelzang varietal is that it offers a prettier, lighter version of the Grenache than the Santa Barbara Highlands bottling. As she describes it, Vogelzang is more of a girl next door, sweet girl sort of vintage compared to the greater range that shows in her sister bottles from the other vineyard. After spending the evening tasting through the vintages, and living with my nose in each glass for an extended time, I told Osborne that I could see how she came to that conclusion but I disagreed.

Years ago I had a friend that was quite frustrated in love. He wanted to get married but kept finding women that were a little too wild, without a consistent enough temperament. Often they’d seem nice up front, so he’d get more involved with them, but in the long run major issues would start to unfold unexpectedly. There had been several women that would have happily married him but in each case he’d ended up feeling he couldn’t trust the woman in the way he would need to love them long term. I told him it was clear what he needed to find a lifetime of love. There was only one sort of woman that would hold his fancy long term. She had to be dirty in bed, and sweet every where else.

The best version of a woman to take home to your mother is the one that gets along well with her potential in-laws, sets you at ease in shared company, but holds your attention just for her all night long. I described this to Angela and said that’s what she’s got in the Vogelzang–a pretty, graceful Grenache that shows first as sweet but pours you a glass full of phermones. This is a delicate and also sexy wine.

The 2009 Vogelzang offers red fruit and berry, with delicate rhubarb, spice, very light leather, and a feral earth muskiness. This wine comes to the dance in the prettiest dress, and bells on one ankle. The structure here is well-balanced, and pleasing with just enough tannin and grip to the mouth.

***

Thank you so much to Angela and Jason Osborne for hosting us, and sharing your story, and your beautiful wines. They’re honestly some of the favorite wines of any I’ve tasted. Sweet pets to Archer dog.

Thank you to Steve Morgan for pointing me in Angela’s direction.

To read Angela and Jason’s Life in Wine story click here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/07/03/a-life-in-wine-angela-and-jason-osborne-and-a-tribute-to-grace-and-faith/

To read more of Angela as a Wine Maker Superhero click here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/06/30/wine-maker-superhero-angela-osborne-as-viii-strength-tarots-major-arcana-woman-in-tune/

To see pictures of our visit with Angela and Jason click here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/06/21/driving-california-wine-pictures-day-1-visit-with-angela-and-jason-osborne-a-tribute-to-grace/

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

3

Meeting Grace: Beginning a Life in Grenache with Angela Osborne

In the story Life Water for Chocolate, the young woman, Tita, channels her passion for life, and love through her cooking. The meals she makes for the ranch on which she lives become expressions of her feeling, received and experienced by those that eat. In this way, the dining table operates as a vessel for the elixirs that Tita generates–potions to reveal feelings of true love, and genuine grief, or to guide the recipient to the next stage of unfoldment on their life path. It is Tita’s devotion to the meals’ own fullest expression that generates such magic. Through Tita’s story, the reader witnesses the power that one woman’s attention may bring to the simple art of food; how an otherwise everyday process is opened into a case of fuller living.

So too Angela Osborne dedicates herself to cultivating the surroundings and conditions of the wine she helps bring to fruition. Her devotion is channeled through a grape she fell in love with in the United States–Grenache. Having been raised in New Zealand by a single mother, with the help of her grandmother, Osborne also traveled to the United States regularly to visit her father. However, it was not until into her 20s, after moving to California to live, that she witnessed the grape she fell in love with for the first time. Grenache does not grow in New Zealand.

In 2006 Osborne moved to California to shift from the rather citified life she’d had in London, England and instead get closer to more natural conditions along the California coast. The movie Like Water for Chocolate served as one of her inspirations–seeing the women living their passionate lives on a ranch made Angela ask what she was doing in such an urban environment. It was a lifestyle that did not so readily suit her. She’d worked at a wine retail shop in the southern portion of California several years prior and so, in moving back to the state, stepped in to help during their Christmas rush. The job was meant to simply be a short term jaunt while she readjusted to life in the States. Two weeks into her stint, they hosted a wine tasting celebrating the work of several small production Santa Barbara Grenache producers.

Osborne had tasted Grenache from Dry Creek Valley a few years before and was enthralled by the grape then, devising a long term goal for herself of making similar wine. At the time, she’d been unclear about how wine making operated in the United States, believing there to be far more necessary infrastructure than is actually required. As such, she’d expected that the idea of making Grenache really would be a life long project to pursue.

In 2006, while tasting Grenache in the wine tasting, Osborne took up a conversation with Russell P From, wine maker of Herman Story wines. In talking with From, Osborne discovered that much of California wine production actually occurs through what is called a Custom Crush facility–a wine making warehouse through which people essentially rent the space and equipment necessary to make wine. Additionally, she discovered that people rarely own their own vineyards, and instead contract a portion of grapes from which to then custom crush their wine. The information was an epiphany for her. Even better, however, From took to Osborne’s passion for Grenache and invited her to step in and try a vintage piggy backing, initially, on his already established vineyard and crush contracts. Within a few months of arriving back to the United States, then, Osborne was already taking the first steps to fulfilling her dream of making Grenache like she’d tasted from Dry Creek Valley, and starting her label A Tribute to Grace.

Cultivating Grace: Making Grenache

In making Grenache, Osborne dedicates herself to developing, and holding a conscious awareness of the wine’s surroundings, and also the wines particular needs. From this perspective, the wine is more than simply a chemical process arising out of grapes. It is also a sort of conduit through which expression and experience can be passed. More than simply a vehicle for the wine maker’s devotion, however, the wine carries its own presentation, larger than what the wine maker can predict or control. To honor the sort of life that the wine has, ultimately independent of the wine maker, depends on striking a delicate balance of making choices as a wine maker, on the one hand, while surrendering to forces beyond one’s control at exactly the same time. Osborne brings into her wine making practices a balance of this sort of surrender to the wine’s own processes, alongside her own grounded intuition for what the wine may need to come to fruition. Each vintage, as a result, has offered its own opportunity for Osborne to experiment and learn new techniques in wine making, while carrying a familial resemblance in the wine across vintages at the same time.

2008, for example, was a riper year. A wine maker friend and mentor checked the grapes with Osborne after she picked them. He warned her that she was going to need to use additives to control the juice or the resulting wine would simply be too alcoholic, and undrinkable. Osborne steers clear of chemical interventions with her wine, but his suggestion that she could add distilled water to the grapes did catch her attention. Panicked that she may lose her work for that year she rushed to the hardware store at the end of an already long day, looking for 42 gallons of distilled water to pour in with the grapes. The local shop of the small town, however, only had one gallon. Unsure of what to do, Osborne returned home to sleep, and find her solution in the morning. But, before going to sleep, she surrendered her worries to the powers that be. To find the answer to what she needed, Osborne said a kind of prayer. Aloud she announced the trouble she had–she needed to figure out how to deal with the problem of the potential alcohol levels in the wine, and with no distilled water in the area there were no apparent answers to her trouble. In admitting she didn’t know what to do, she also surrendered the concern, saying she gave the solution over to higher good–that whatever is for the best here be what happens. Then she went to sleep. In the middle of the night, Osborne woke up. The skies had opened up and a massive rainstorm was coming down through the entire region. She realized she’d left her freshly picked grapes outside in their foot stomping bins covered only with mesh. In the morning, when she went to check the fruit, about a foot of rain water had filled each bin. Having found what she needed, she pressed the rain water into the wine with the grapes. The resulting wine holds an alcohol level consistent with each of the other vintages Osborne has produced.

Osborne’s wine making also includes a great degree of sharing and celebration. She regularly invites friends to foot stomp the grapes with her (2008 the foot stomp even occurred on Halloween in costume), and she generally tends to the wine playing her music of that vintage. In addition to incorporating her friendships and musical tastes into her wine making process, Osborne also pays close attention to biodynamic practices, respecting lunar effects on the fruit when she harvests, presses, racks, or bottles. (We tasted the wines with her and Jason on a fruit day, for those of you wondering, and each of the wines was lovely–more on the tasting tomorrow.) While being closely involved in these aspects of the conditions that surround the wine as it is produced, at the same time Osborne seems to allow the wine its privacy in the barrel, refusing to impose techniques that would otherwise push the wine, rather than allow it to unfold on its own. This is not to say that she is entirely low-fi in her choices. Osborne generally incorporates two new oak barrels into her regime each year, thereby maintaining a low level of spice and tannin influence in the wine from oak. She also utilizes very low levels of sulfur to help the wine maintain stability at bottling.

Living Grace: Angela and Jason Osborne

Completing a degree in Film from the University of Auckland, Angela worked in a wine shop in the same city just to pay the bills. Though the space happened to be one of the best shops in Auckland, Angela’s interest with the work did not extend beyond a job at the time. She enjoyed selling wine, but it wasn’t a long term interest.

When she announced that she was leaving her job to seek out work making documentary films, Brent Maris, a wine maker from Marlborough paid Angela a visit. Disappointed she was leaving work in wine, he told her that the industry needed her. Passion like hers is rare, he said. To prove he meant it, he offered to help Angela find a job working for a winery over seas–perhaps she simply needed time out of New Zealand. Determined instead to pursue her film career, Angela put a deadline on the offer, and told Maris that if she hadn’t found a film job within six months she’d take him up on the suggestion. A week before the deadline was up Maris had found Angela a job with a winery in the United States working harvest, and she’d found a film job running errands for a filming crew. Putting the two offers side by side, she realized the wine opportunity made more sense, and so began what, without realizing it, would be a career in wine .

Prior to leaving New Zealand, another wine maker that Angela knew from the shop invited her to meet a friend of his on a blind date. Angela and the wine maker had talked often enough that he had a feeling his friend would suit Angela quite well romantically. Willing to take the leap, Angela agreed to the date and found herself happily involved in a relationship. She’d already decided to leave New Zealand with other plans, however, and so after two months of dating, Angela moved from the island, leaving her boyfriend to continue his already well established life there. After, they were able too to remain in loose contact as friends.

Five and a half years later, Angela returned to the island to accompany her mother during her mom’s wedding ceremony. Living in California at that time, Angela arrived in New Zealand without a date to the celebration, and so her mother offered to secure Angela a ‘plus-one’ with one of her old friends. Angela decided to go ahead and take her mom up on the offer. Arriving in New Zealand, Angela discovered, her old boyfriend, Jason, the blind date, was the person her mom had set her up with for the ceremony. Finding themselves happy to reconnect in person, Angela and Jason spent their time together during Angela’s visit in New Zealand. Within a year, their dating developed into them marrying, and Jason moving back to California. Now they work together in California in wine, where Jason also continues his cranio-sacral body work practice.

I asked Jason about the experience. He tells me that he’d known since the first time they dated that Angela was who he wished to spend his life with but that his only opportunity to be with her would come through his willingness to wait until they were both ready. The way he describes this, I have to say, I believe him.

Together, Jason and Angela now dedicate themselves to their Tribute to Grace. Their ultimate goals include continuing to cultivate their Grenache varietal from the Santa Barbara Highlands, while also taking advantage of the alternating harvest times between California and New Zealand. Their intention is to bring Jason’s cranio-sacral body work to a vineyard location to combine their life in wine and the healing arts with a space that people can visit and do retreat. In doing so, they’d like to begin to make a New Zealand wine, while continuing to make their Santa Barbara Highlands Grenache.

Katherine and I were lucky enough to share an evening with Jason and Angela that included the first full vertical tasting of A Tribute to Grace that they’ve hosted. I am so grateful. Tomorrow I’ll post a write-up of the wines.

If you’re interested in seeing the previous post on Angela as the Wine Maker Superhero Justice VIII, you can view the post here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/06/30/wine-maker-superhero-angela-osborne-as-viii-strength-tarots-major-arcana-woman-in-tune/

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

3

Angela Osborne as Tarot’s Major Arcana VIII Strength

click on comic to enlarge

Understanding Tarot’s Major Arcana

In Tarot the Major Arcana present a series of archetypes representative of stages of spiritual and personal growth or development. While the Minor Arcana (the same cards, basically, that we find in a standard deck of playing cards) indicate subtle processes that we can happen upon in any particular aspect of everyday life, the Major Arcana instead show a significant stage of a person’s overall life. The stages offered through the Major Arcana are told as a kind of story of the Fool’s Journey–the Fool being the fully open person guided by intuition with still a range of life experiences from which to learn. As the Fool (traditionally represented as a young man) moves forward on his life path he moves naturally through the growth processes of the Major Arcana (not necessarily in order) brought through the complexities of human life by his own choices and intuitive guidance both.

From this perspective, then, each Major Arcana can be understood as a sort of Jungian Archetype through which any of us may come to better understand tropes of human life and experience.

Superhero Archetypes

North American comic book superheros operate as a form of mythical archetype of the American psyche offering insight into our aspirations, fears, and stages of ethical development: Superman may stand as our cultures’ desire for principled truth and goodness; Batman as recognition of our darker inclinations and our will to generate right action even in the face of them.

When considering comic book heroes and women archetypes, however, its easiest to just admit we’ve not done enough work to develop really rockin’ women superheroes. They’re often ridiculously big-boobed, cranky, or generally sexually problematic. (I do rather like Storm from X-Men, but notice she never really hooks up. Or, Phoenix Force, also from X-Men, but notice she just flat destroys the men she tries to love. It would seem it’s hard to be a woman superhero AND happily in love. Though it actually seems men superheroes tend to have relationship trouble too. ANYWAY…) The point being, it can be hard to find an interesting range of superhero archetypes for channeling our favorite women wine makers through. With that in mind, I chose to look outside comic books to find the right figure for presenting Angela Osborne in her excellence. I find her, then, in one of the Major Arcana of Tarot.

Angela Osborne as Tarot’s VIII Strength

Having moved through a discovery of his own passions and power to wield them, the Fool leaves his recent struggles journeying into the next stage of his life journey. Along the way he encounters a woman in the distance that would seem to be struggling with a lion. Determined to save her, the Fool rushes forward, bolstered by his own previous triumphes through struggle. He is certain he will wrestle the lion, risk his life and thus utilize his masculine bravery to save the beautiful feminine figure. As he approaches, the Fool discovers the woman merely petting the lion, the beast having calmed from her presence now still strong and wild but at peace with the woman’s ease.

The Fool is confused. How could the lion relax its ferociousness to commune with the woman? And why would the woman wish to be so close to a beast? Compelled by the woman he asks her to explain. Without moving, the woman turns to the Fool and looks directly into his eyes. The Fool sees in her expression a great gentleness coupled with a calm certainty. In the combination he recognizes what would make the lion respond to her–she is in tune with her self in a way that allows her too to be in tune with her surroundings. It is not that she dominated the lion, but that she knew how to read and interact with the lion in a way that set it at ease. The Fool wishes to know what she would want with a beast. The woman reminds him that the lion is a unique energy with which there is much to experience and share.

(This version of the tarot story is largely thanks to aeclectic.net.)

Focused on honing her conscious awareness of what surrounds the wine she makes–both in the vineyards, and in the wine making facilities themselves, Angela Osborne presents a lived presentation of Tarot’s Strength card. She cultivates her already deep respect for the wine through a commitment to bio-dynamic vineyard and wine making practices. Additionally, she relies on her own intuition of what the wine needs as it is being birthed in the barrel, along with a sense of surrender to what nature will offer beyond her own control. Together these elements show the grounded, centered, clarity of the feminine figure of Tarot’s 8th Major Arcana, the Strength card.

We’ll spend the next two days considering Angela Osborne’s beautiful wines A Tribute to Grace, first through A Life in Wine story of how she came to making grenache, now alongside her husband Jason, then through a review of a complete vertical of the full Grace history.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

Chateauneuf du Pape: The Appellation and Style

click on comic to enlarge

Thanks in part to the special attention of Robert Parker, the Southern Rhone appellation Chateauneuf du Pape (CDP) celebrates a meaty International reputation. Incredibly, this one appellation of Southern Rhone produces more wine than all of Northern Rhone. However, it also hosts a wider selection of grape varieties than its sister appellations in the North.

CDP is firmly intertwined with Papal history, having been established as “The Pope’s New Castle” after the pope moved from Rome to Avignon in 1308. With its famous residents, the area’s wines developed a prestigious and popular reputation surpassing the attention of other wine regions of France. Unfortunately, phylloxera also hit CDP in 1870, earlier than other regions of France and so deeply impacted wine production of the region, though it has now long since recovered.

Records indicate that wines from the region pre-phylloxera were much lighter in style than how they are understood today.

Today, the appellation allows both red and white blends to be produced, though not rose’s. Eighteen grape varieties are allowed in a CDP blend, though thirteen of those are seen as most traditional to the style. The appellation predominately makes red wines, with only 1 in 16 bottles being a white CDP blend.

The style tends to be understood as earthy, rich bodied, with a range of berry flavors, alongside darker characteristics such as tar, leather, tobacco, truffle, herbs, and even garlic. With its darker and fuller style it is rarely described as approachable, and can often present as angular or even coarse in its younger years.  Some even describe the classic CDP as heavy and brooding. Compared to other wine regions of France, this is not a wine known for aging into elegance or grace. However, for many this chewable, dark quality is exactly what makes the wine so alluring.

Well known wine critic, Robert Parker, one of the region’s great champions, who helped increase its popularity in the States and raise its selling price too, outlines the benefits of CDP wine as both intellectual and hedonistic–there are impressive layers of flavor here, alongside a structure and presentation to reflect upon.

The Wine Loft, Flagstaff, AZ: A CDP Tasting

the Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape Wine Loft Wine Tasting Line-up

As a special treat, The Wine Loft, Flagstaff, AZ hosted a Chateauneuf du Pape tasting, offering with it both an educational and hedonistic attention–a balance capturing Parker’s own account of these wines at their best. Unsurprisingly, the tasting was popular here in town showing a significant turn out–the CDP, after all, carries a name recognizable by wine lovers.

* Domaine Pierre Henri Morel 2010 Cotes du Rhone Villages, Laudun Blanc

70% Grenache Blanc, 30% Bourbelanc

The tasting opened with a Rhone white not local to the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation specifically, but from Southern Rhone more generally. The Laudun Blanc from Domaine Pierre Henri Morel showed as an easy, fresh, smooth textured white with just a touch of heat in the mouth.

The wine presents on the nose with citrus zest of lemon and lime, with light accents of lime juice, as well as subtle hints of fresh herbs. The mouth follows with the citrus shifting more towards grapefruit and a fresh candied element. There is nice jaw biting acidity here, 14% alcohol and a medium-plus finish.

* Domaine Pierre Henri Morel 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape

85% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre

The CDP portion of the tasting began with the Laudun Blanc’s sister red, the 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape. This wine opens with red fruit of cherry and berry, blended smoothly with vanilla, lavendar, and light white pepper. It warms into dried fruit and spice offering a ripe but not jammy presentation. This red is both approachable and bright, without being too much fruit reduction. Instead, it is an easy, food wine. There is medium-plus acidity, medium tannin, and medium-long finish with 14.5% alcohol.

* Telegramme 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape

90% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre

The second label CDP for Telegraphe, the Telegramme, is a less expensive, lighter bodied style to its more buxom older sister. It offers red fruit of cherry, raspberry, and light strawberry, with spice, light lavender, and faint mushroom accents. The Telegramme is not flabby, but instead pleasantly plump. This wine offers medium acidity, medium tannin, and a medium finish with 14.5% alcohol.

The Telegramme is a popular red for its younger, more approachable rendition of the well-known CDP style. That said, I’ll admit this is not my go to wine. I appreciate the Telegraphe, and would readily buy it when I’m looking for a wine of its type and price range. But I generally want more structure and complexity than the 2009 Telegramme shows.

What the Telegramme has to offer is vivid fruit, on a generally clean presentation. I’m reluctant to recommend it, however, in that you still pay higher prices as demanded by the appellation, even if not as high as the Telegraphe, without getting the rich complexity expected from the style. For that reason, if you’re looking for a red fruit driven wine, I’d recommend spending less on a non-CDP red before grabbing the Telegramme.

* Domaine du Galet des Papes 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape

80% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 5% Vaccarese, 5% Cinsault

The Domaine du Galet des Papes is a cohesive, slightly strange CDP only in the sense that it wants more age or more air. It clearly carries those angular, less polished elements the appellation is known for. Currently it drinks funky, dirty earth elements, hints of petrol, and with heat in the mouth in front of distinct red fruit.. That said, there is good structure here that will support the overall flavors deepening into a nicely balanced wine. I want to taste this again in several years. The wine offers medium acidity, medium tannin, and a medium finish, with 14.5% alcohol.

* Chapoutier 2005 La Bernardine Chateauneuf du Pape

Mostly Grenache, Some Syrah

The 2005 “La Bernardine” CDP by Chapoutier had the advantage in this tasting of bringing the most age with it on a style of wine that, generally speaking, wants age. I’ve also reviewed “La Bernardine” before but will post notes for it here as it was the culmination of The Wine Loft tasting.

The Chapoutier CDP is the most earthy and grounded of the selection, showing concentrated fruit of red cherry, date, and dried plum alongside licorice, lightly meaty and spiced elements. The acidity here stays up at medium-plus, with medium tannin, medium-plus finish, and 14% alcohol. There is a lot more age in this bottle, and it is drinking nicely now. This is a tasty, rich, well-balanced wine.

***

Thank you to Fred Wojtkielewicz, and The Wine Loft for hosting this treat of a tasting.

The Wine Loft, Flagstaff, AZ is located at 17 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001 USA, UPSTAIRS (it’s a loft). 928-773-9463. https://www.facebook.com/thewineloftflagstaff

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

11

Gravner Breg; San Floriano Normale Scholium Project; The Prince in His Caves Scholium Project; Vodopivec Classica; Paolo Bea Arboreus

The photograph of five of the eight orange wines reviewed in this four part feature on orange wine gives you a sense of how rich the color and opacity of these wines can be. Remember too that each of those five wines shown above was made with what are otherwise thought of as white wine grapes.

Italian Orange Wines

In the orange wine phenomenon Italy stands among wine geeks generally as the most well-known, and desired center of production. Producers like Gravner in Friuli, and Bea in Umbria are famous and followed among wine geeks, seen as the originators of a new tradition of unusual wine.

Interestingly, as recently as the 1950s what we now call orange wines were being made by various producers in Italy simply as one possible way to make wine with white grapes. However, by the 1960s such practices were dwindling with the idea that more contemporary methods, including removing skin contact, was the more appropriate, technically correct way to make white wine.

As will be discussed further, in the 1990s Georgian Amber wine making tradition reintroduced the orange wine making process to Italian wine makers leading to the reintegration of extended skin contact (maceration) and the possibility of using earthenware fermentation vessels (called kvevri in Georgia, anfora in Italy). Though the use of clay is sometimes mistakenly taken as fundamental to orange wine production, in actuality it is not necessary to the process. Maceration with white grapes is definitive of orange wine, with the use of anfora being only one possible way to produce such wine.

Paolo Bea 2006 Arboreus

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100% Trebbiano Spoletino

In the Umbria region of Italy, Paolo Bea‘s farm uses 80-100 year old, pre-phylloxera vines that exhibit a unique constitution. They’ve been trained to grow like trees with the canes on the vine pointing up allowing a great space underneath. The tradition of growing vines in the arboreus fashion reaches back to pre-tractor farming when crops were planted mixed together. By teaching the vines to grow up like trees farmers could better utilize the ground underneath to produce other crops. It was not until the introduction of motorized tractors that arboreus vines were commonly removed and differing crop types were regularly planted separately.

Bea is well known for his interesting and high quality, low production, artisan style wine. His Arboreus named wine is made with full skin contact entirely of one grape–Trebbiano Spoletino–and fermented with partially dried grapes mixed in as well to add richness of flavor. Once the wine has fermented it is aged in stainless steel tanks without temperature control for 4 years. The resulting wine is rich, clean, and lovely.

Bea’s style is known for being hugely vintage specific. Because of his low intervention style of wine making, and commitment to biodynamics, the ripeness of the grapes from year to year, as well as other factors like how wet the season has been, show strong impact on the resulting wine. Incredibly, the 2006 vintage included only 80 cases, further emphasizing the low production aspects of Bea’s wine making.

Bea’s 2006 Arboreus was both lightly flavored and full body-textured in the mouth. It carried a strong soft palate focus so that the flavors of the wine hit at the back and top of the mouth showcasing the fullness. The flavors included white peach and pear alongside light passionfruit, and white flowers, filled out by anise, maple, and distinct bergamot. The acidity here is medium high keeping your mouth watering over the medium tannins. This is a sexy wine with pleasing texture.

The Bea was the favorite of at least two of the ten people that participated in a private tasting of this and four other orange wines. Everyone present (that was willing to select favorites) included it in their top two.

Coenobium Rusticum 2009

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45% Trebbiano, 35% Malvasia, 20% Verdicchio,

Just 30 miles north of Rome, the Coenobium wines are produced on site at Monastero Suore Cistercensi. There the nuns of Cistercensi tend the grapes and make the wine by hand. The nuns are invested in very low intervention practices allowing fermentation to occur based on only naturally occurring yeasts, and completely organic practices. Amazingly, the nuns draw on the talents of Giampiero Bea, son of Paolo Bea, maker of the Arboreus wine just mentioned to develop their wine making techniques.

The blend on this Coenobium Rusticum 2009 is pert and showy. It leaps from the glass ready to dance strong floral, woody, apple skin scents. The truth is this wine needs some age to really celebrate what it has to offer. Currently the youth shows as fume-y making the bouquet almost medicinal. However, the structure is there in this wine to support time in the bottle. Also, the Coenobium Rusticum has a respected recent vintage history that shows it tends to do well with some age, becoming more layered and grounded with time. That said, there are clear notes of yellow apple skin, and Macintosh apple along side vegetal characteristics and white tropical flowers here. The tannins are medium high, drying the mouth over the medium acidity.

This wine is also known for doing very well after opening. As Alder Yarrow explains on his blog Vinography, the extended maceration (skin contact) fundamental to orange wine production makes orange wines, and certainly the Coenobium Rusticum, more resistant to the negative effects of oxygen exposure. That is, while most wines will keep only a couple of days after being opened, according to Yarrow’s article on a previous vintage of the Coenobium, this orange wine can keep for several weeks after being opened when kept cool. He also recommends decanting the wine early in the day for drinking in the evening to allow the flavors to really open properly.

For those of you interested in purchasing some orange wines, the Coenobium Rusticum is available at a lesser price than the other Italian orange wines (though the Georgian orange wines reviewed Monday are of similar price, if you can locate them–they are harder to find) and so is a good value. The nuns produce the wine as part of their spiritual practices and also to support their facility but also purposefully keep their costs very low all around.

Vodopivec Classica 2005 Vitovska

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100% Vitovska

Everything about this wine is sexy. The texture is rich, and the flavors are subtle and evocative. As ridiculous as it might sound, this wine carries the soft intensity of a woman whispering she wants you–the intimacy and sensuality of such a moment captures the feeling of giving yourself to this glass. The wine carries light oxidation offering subtle sherry-like qualities with very light fruit. The oxidation effect here pumps up the mineral-like elements and with the smaller fruit focus the glass has a lot of refreshing sea air and mineral to it. All of this is rounded out with spice notes of clove and licorice. What a lovely wine!

Paolo Vodopivec is an exciting man to study–video interviews of him online show his focused passion for the wine he makes and the land he cares for. This passion is further expressed through his commitment to a rather obscure grape indigenous to the Fruili-Slovenia border. Vodopivec’s wines are made with the Vitovska grape, which is so uncommon it appears in only one English language wine book. The grape originates from Slovenia but is now grown more over the mountain range in the Friuli region of Italy.

Though Vodopivec does make anfora wine, the Classica is made using Slovenian oak. Vitovska is kept on skin contact for two weeks in oak, then once fermentation is complete (using only indigenous yeast and no temperature control) the wine is aged for two years in Slovenian oak barrels.

This wine was one of my favorites in all the orange wines tasted–it is a lovely, approachable wine, that is also intriguing to drink, and effectively pushes all my love-for-grape-obscurity buttons.

Gravner Anfora Breg 2004

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45% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Pinot Grigio, 15% Chardonnay

Josko Gravner is the most famous of the world’s orange wine makers. As the story goes, in 1996 a friend of Gravner traveled to Georgia and witnessed wine makers there making Georgian Amber wine in kvevri–earthenware vessels. The friend was certain Gravner would enjoy experimenting with making wine in the Georgian fashion and so purchased a kvevri and sent it to Gravner in the Friuli region of Italy. Gravner spent several years learning, and experimenting with the kvevri and orange wine making techniques.

By the second half of the 1990s Gravner was already considered one of the best white wine makers in all of Italy. His abilities were famous and as a result he had numerous wine makers from around the country that would travel to Friuli to study with him. At that time his celebrated abilities were focused primarily on making white wine in a contemporary fashion (no skin contact) with fermentation and aging occurring in oak barrels. However, after several years experimenting with wine making in clay, Gravner shifted his wine portfolio completely and released his first all anfora wine collection in 2001, made too with extended skin contact, thus making them anfora-based orange wines.

In the same sweep from oak to anfora, Gravner also moved deeply into biodynamic practices speaking of the poisons created by non-biodynamic wines on the one hand, and the spirit of the wine on the other. Gravner’s website explicitly states that he bottles on the waning moon, a practice integral to fully-vested biodynamic treatises. The initial public response to Gravner’s shift was that he was crazy. His wine sales dropped, and his wines were deemed atypical to the regional type, further impacting his marketing credibility. By 2006 though orange wine had become a major geek-wine fetish with Gravner as the mystical head shaman of this cult world.

Tasting Gravner’s Breg Anfora makes clear that his work with orange wines is not merely a matter of wine-geek paradise. Gravner is doing something special here. In the private tasting that included this wine, 10 of us all in or connected to the food and wine industries tasted five orange wines side-by-side. While there was strong interest in each of the five wines, the Gravner received the most all around appreciation for its balance and complexity.

The Gravner Breg has a rich, warming effect in the mouth. It shows beautiful complexity offering dried fruits with floral characteristics, alongside leather, and forest floor with spice. This is a savory wine that would do well with salty foods. The unusual nature of these orange wines meant the group was willing throughout the tasting to fall to metaphor and brief story elements to explain the experience of drinking these wines. The regular “tastes like apple” type notes simply wouldn’t suffice. With Gravner’s Breg the comment was that this wine is like drinking oysters next to a man that had just finished a pleasantly sweaty work day. The savory aspects of this wine are seafood and sweat delicate in the most wonderful way.

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Friday we’ll complete the series focusing on orange wines by looking at a couple of orange wines from California.

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To read the rest of this series, follow these links:

Understanding Orange Wines 1: A Quick and Dirty Look at How They’re Made and What Their Tannins do to Our Saliva: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/02/18/understanding-orange-wines-a-quick-and-dirty-look-at-how-theyre-made-and-what-their-tannins-do-to-our-saliva/

Understanding Orange Wines 2: Georgian Amber Wines: Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli, Vinoterra Kisi: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/02/20/understanding-orange-wines-2-georgian-amber-wines-pheasants-tears-rkatsiteli-vinoterra-kisi/

Understanding Orange Wines 4: Abe Schoener’s Scholium Project: The Prince in His Cabes 2010, San Floriano Normale 2006 http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/02/25/understanding-orange-wines-4-abe-schoeners-scholium-project-the-prince-in-his-caves-2010-san-floriano-normale-2006/

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Thank you to Garret at Italian Wine Merchants for his help in locating the Gravner, Bea, and Vodopivec wines mentioned here.

Thanks again to Kim for writing to ask if I’d do an orange wine feature! I hope you’re enjoying it!

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