On Friday night I hosted a tasting that was pretty awesome on a lot of levels. The tasting was call Troublemakers. I chose 7 wines from winemakers that I think are causing a ruckus by either doing something new and different in a traditional region, or being tradition in a region that is influenced by trends and technology. I also used four Riedel decanters because like these winemakers, I think the Riedel family are a bunch of troublemakers. In a few generations they have changed how the world serves and appreciates wine.
The tasting was really cool because in addition to the wines and the glass, the guests ranged from novice to very experienced in the world of wine. Sharing these fascinating wines with so many palates was great. Its always a treat to see how people with varying experiences with wine react to things like orange wine.
Here are the wines I poured, my thoughts on them as well as a bit of background.
1. Bérêche et Fils Brut Réserve NV (2011) $47
Region – Champagne, FR Grapes: roughly 1/3 each Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay
Raphaël has been working at the family estate for 10 years and is really coming in to his own. He uses a number of controversial practices in including oak fermentation, oxidative wine making, a very definite love of pinot meunier, cork finishing his Champagnes, and making a number of single vineyard champagnes.
2. Christ Gemischter Satz 2012 $21
Region – Wien, AU Grapes: Field blend of up to 20 different grapes
Rainer Christ is one of the very few winemakers to making a quality version of Gemischter Satz. Most of the time this is a very boring wine made to be sold by the jug or glass from Heurigers in Vienna. He and a handful of others are proving this style is capable of making top quality wine.
3. Patrick Piuze Chablis Terrior Découverte 2012 $27
Region – Chablis, FR Grapes: Chardonnay
Puize moved from Montreal to Burgundy to learn about winemaking and ultimately wound up in Chablis. He became very passionate about the terrior of Chablis, which has generally been overlooked. He makes top quality single vineyard Chablis, as well as the more typical single vineyard 1er and Grand Crus. He uses the same techniques for his Chablis that most use for only their top wines. He’s definitely changing how people look at the non-cru areas of Chablis.
I did a quick decant of this wine table side with the Black Tie Face to Face decanter. I chose this decanter because the Piuze only needs a quick bit of aeration to open up. The base of the decanter is small so it limits the air contact, which is great for this wine. The small base also helped keep the wine cool. Doing a quick decant with the Face to Face tableside was also very dramatic due to the exceptionally long neck.
4. Radikon Pinot Grigio S 2010 $46
Region: Venezia Giulia, IT Grapes: Pinot Grigio
Stanko and his son Sasa are part of a handful of producers that helped put orange wine on the map. They’re making wine like their grandparents did, before lots of technology and winemaking know how influenced the world. They use long skin macerations and oak aging on whites to create a distinct, intense style of wine. This PG spent 2 weeks on its skin and a year in barrel before it was released.
I decanted this wine with the Black Tie Bliss decanter before the tasting started. I chose this decanted due to the small size. It limits the amount of air contact, and I could put it back in the refrigerator if the wine was becoming too warm.
5. Luyt El País de Quenehuao 2011 $25
Region – Cauquenes, Chile Grapes: País
Louis Antoine Luyt gets the prize for biggest shit disturbed in this group as he’s actually gotten death threats and bricks thrown through his windows for what he’s doing. He studied in Beaujolais with the OG troublemaker Marcel Lapierre and has applied what he learned to amazing vineyards in Chile. He’s focused on terrior and farming in a land of bulk crap. The Quenehuao vineyard was planted 300 years ago and it still producing today thanks to regrafting new vines on the old root stocks.
6.Tenuta delle Terre Nere Feudo di Messo Enta Rosso 2010 $50
Region: Etna, Sicilia, IT Grapes: 98% Nerello Mascalese, 2% Nerello Cappucio
Etna has a long history of producing underwhelming wines that nevertheless show off a sense of place. Marc de Grazia, a wine importer, decided to purchase this estate a number of vineyards over 100 years old and change what’s going on here. He started using top quality techniques to show off how great these wines can be and how well they show various parts of Mt Etna and its varies soils and expositions. This vineyard was planted in 1933 and expanded in 1973.
I decanted this wine in the Swan decanter before the tasting began. I wanted to give this wine plenty of time to open up and the larger base of the decanter and extended time helped achieve my goal. Without a doubt this is my favorite decanter to use. It combines a dramatic appearance with an unexpected and elegant ease of use while pouring.
7. Dunn Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $75
Region – Napa, CA Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Randy Dunn came to Napa in 1978 and began making Cab the way they did in Bordeaux. Unlike most of his Napa peers, he never stopped doing this. He doesn’t bother with the tricks and the tech, he just makes top quality wine with old school techniques. He’s a troublemaker because in my mind his wines consistently outclass his neighbors due of his focus on tradition.
This wine was decanted in the Amadeo decanter. I chose the Amadeo because it has the largest amount of surface area for the wine to enjoy contact with air. Anyone who’s enjoyed one of Dunn’s wines know his wines flourish with time to open.