Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hipster wine tasting: The white wines

They say that "stuff" flows down hill but that does not seem to be the case when it comes to "Hipster" wine and the Orlando area. Rather, we have to grab it by the scruff of its neck and drag it down here. And that is literally what Ron had to do in order to curate and host a tasting of selected wines of this type, said event held at the IDrive Capital Grille. I covered the Champagne portion of the tasting in a prior post and will delve into the whites here.

The whites were tasted in two flights, an approach grounded in convenience and ease of use. The order of, and within, the flights is illustrated in the pictures below.

Courtesy of Steve Alcorn

Courtesy of Steve Alcorn
Before we continue, I would like to step back and do something that I did not do in the prior post -- put some context into the words "Hipster Wine." I will then discuss these wines within this newly formed "reality."

PJwineblog, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, has laid out some of the breadcrumbs you need to follow in identifying a hipster wine:
  1. Is it from the Loire, Beuajolais, or Jura?While one of our wines is from the Jura (Ganevat) and one from the Loire (Montlouis Le Volagré), I feel that this geographic restriction excludes a number of quality candidates of this genre. In our case the remaining wines are drawn from Corsica (Antoine Arena), Chablis (Moreau-Naudet), Burgundy (Naudin), and Provence (Chateau Simone).
  2. Is it organic (or some variant of), made without added sulfur, or fermented in concrete egg? All of the wines under consideration are either organic or biodynamic, except for the Naudin. In that case the winemaker uses organic methods but is not certified organic because she wants to maintain flexibility. Her practices are sustainable. Most of the producers use sulfur but they particularly stress the fact that they use minute amounts. What is also interesting is that they use it at differing points along the production chain. Ganevat, for example, uses sulfur at bottling while Antoine Arena uses a little during vinification. No concrete eggs within this group, even though Antoine Arena uses cement vessels.
  3. Is it orange, aged in amphorae, made from a long lost indigenous grape that was rediscovered by some European hippy while trying to convert his vineyard over to biodynamics ... is it Slovenian? Still fermenting? Oxidized ...? No luck with any of these characteristics in this bunch, even though the Chateau Simone is a blend of (mostly) non-mainstream varieties: Clairette (80%), Grenache Blanc (10%), Ugni Blanc (6%), Bourboulenc (2%), and Muscat Blanc (2%).
According to the author, if the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may be talking about a hipster wine. If the answer to any combination is yes, then you are definitely in hipster territory.

I would add a few characteristics to the ones mentioned by the author above:
  1. Hipster winemakers are almost single-minded about the work in the field and tend to wax philosophical about this aspect of wine production.
  2. Winemakers in this genre tend to develop almost cult-like followings both for the quality of their wines as well as for the quality of their thoughts and thought processes.
  3. Almost to a person, these winemakers leave fermentation up to natural yeasts.
  4. They are mostly practitioners of the natural methods of settling wine as opposed to fining and filtering. On her website, Naudin goes on at some length about reverse osmosis. She is not a fan.
In the first flight, the Jean Francois Ganevat Chardonnay 'Le Montceau' 2013 showed a waxiness and cammomile florality on the nose, along with anise, and rust. Lemon rind on the palate along with a finish-dampening effect.

The Claire Naudin Aligote 'Le Clou 34' 2013 was characterized by Andrew as Viognier on the nose and Chenin on the palate. White flowers and apple on the nose along with a richness and coconut oil. Weighty on the palate with the florality working its way through. Citrus quality.

The 2011 Antoine Arena 'Grotte di Sole' Blanc was the most interesting of the wines in the first flight and, as a matter of fact, was so designated by the team. This 100% Vermentinu from Corsica had apple and smoke on the nose and a Montrachet-like quality (more Chassagne than Puligny). Weighty, waxy, and oily on the palate. Complex with a long, spicy finish.

In the second flight, Chateau Simone Palette Blanc 2010 showed like an old Riesling. Malt, violets, and orange rind on the nose. Oxidative character on the palate. Falls off a cliff.

The Moreau-Naudet Chablis 'Forest' 1er Cru 2012 destroyed all of my pre-conceived notions as to what a Chablis is. I approach a Chablis looking for that knife-edge, flinty sharpness but this wine did not exhibit any of those characteristics. It is more tangerine than lime. Excellent, rounder, fuller Chardonnay than expected. This wine is a result of the winemaker picking later than his peers in search of riper fruit.

The Stephane Cossais Montlouis Sur Loire 'Le Volagre' 2008 was the wine of this flight. Barrel spice, vanilla, nutty, rich, waxy, oily, and lime. Lees character evident. Great acid level. Steve characterized this wine as lush and balanced.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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