Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Who am I?

When I first started this blog, I did not want to mention about myself so much but mostly about wine&food related topics. But since then some of my friends asked why I do not write anything about myself or I have received this question for several times via e-mail: “Who are you?” So, I try to explain.

I first moved to Finland in the beginning of 2011, in the middle of my 20s. Wine has been always in my life but in Finland, first it has become a serious hobby, then, something more than a hobby and I started this blog. With all the rights and wrongs, it is all in all an amateur wine blog written by a wine addict trying to improve his palate everyday and looking for new occasions about wine, looking for meeting new wine people and being good friends. Well, someone into wine, someone having a zip of wine in the mouth, keeping it right there and thinking about the aromas, descriptors, definitions, memories… Can someone like that be a bad person? Well, “Yes”, why not J But depending on my experiences, most probably the answer is “No, they are my good friends that I have not met yet or met already some of them.”

Anyway, in time wine also took me into culinarist concerns and I worked as a cook after the culinary school finished. I have met already a lot of chefs and they mostly have one common feature: No interest in wine and beverages. This is maybe, that they do not see wine as a part of a daily diet. But I believe this will change sooner or later while people develop an interest and a sophisticated palate for the probably best beverage in the world. Wine is a perfect beverage to match with food. But also, there might be a plate of food designed to highlight a specific wine too. This fact is not perceived yet. I also want to work as a sommelier in some part of my career, sooner or later.

I sometimes meet people who mostly define themselves “artist”. Here, lets see what Foucault says: “What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialised or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?” So I try to turn my life into a piece of art with feeling the moment, enjoying my thinking as therefore I am, watching, smelling, tasting, living that glass of good wine while consuming it, as a bottled poetry as been described, alone or with friends, enjoying a daily funny talk or a deep philosophical discussion or just questioning; what if Dostoyevsky was a winemaker?

My ethnicity? I am a Mediterranean. I work as a somm now in Helsinki and so many projects happening at the moment while I am looking to find time for going to gym, to a restaurant maybe, or sometimes even hard to find time to wash laundry. Life is busy.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Dry Portuguese Wines: To stop at the red light when going for a revolution
Have you ever seen the Portuguese movie April Captains? April Captains (Original title: Capitães de Abril) is the first full-lenght movie of the actress Maria de Medeiros as a director, which she has a role in the movie too, and it is a very fun movie about The Carnation Revolution of Portugal in 25 April 1974, which starts telling about a group of leftist military officers who are about to start a left wing junta against the fascist Portuguese government, to stop the recruitment for more massacres in Africa concerning the Portuguese colonization of Guinea, Mozambique and Angola in 70's (isn't it always the leftist who fights against the massacres?). Even though it is about a coup, the movie has such a humorous way and it is hard to stop chuckling, even sometimes laughing :) I would definitely recommend you to see the movie with a fine bottle of Portuguese wine during a calm, early evening.

But how come together this movie and wine? For me it is possible, if we are talking about wine, the metaphors are everywhere. In this movie, there is a funny moment which made me think about the dry Portuguese wines at some point and that moment is the scene where the tanks all stop at the red light in the city, which is told to be true when they come from Santarém to Lisbon in the morning to overthrow the government. Then while the tanks are waiting, we hear the officer Fernandes: "So what, the traffic lights will stop the revolution?" :)

Tanks waiting at the red light :)
It is very funny and surprising since "a revolution stops at the red light", even though it is succeeded, and I somehow connect this with the production of dry Portuguese wines. Just like the revolution in the movie which stops at the red light, it is surprising that the Portuguese dry wines were just not that much popular to produce and sell outside the country until 1990s(1986 Portugal in EEC and wine monopolies abolished) despite all the distinctive characteristics and deliciousness full of deep flavors and surprising acidity. I think it has kept a potential wine revolution for good value but the producers were somehow not focused on that revolution-maybe even did not care that potential- and kept it waiting at the traffic lights(monopolies might be the traffic lights). Even though the country has the world´s first wine region with a formal demarcation (Douro) the production and exportation were under the Port wine domination until the 90s and talking about Portuguese was always perceived as talking about Port or Madeira. Today still, the consumers do not have so much ideas about the dry Portuguese, since Port is still something prestigious for the ordinary customer. But this will change in future for sure, I think dry Portuguese wine merits serious attention and sooner or later, it will get the attention.

I believe that the Portuguese dries are such great value wines which will bring up a revolution to the wine world, and so to say, maybe in the 80s and 90s, some producers had believed that too, and then just like the officer Fernandes did in the movie, they also raised their voice: "So what, the traffic lights will stop the revolution?"... And then they started to produce the great dry table wines of Portugal in big volumes to promote also at the outside of the country.

The revolution day, barrels filled with beautiful carnations

In the beginning of 2000s and still today, the wine world, -professionals, importers, sommeliers, wine intellectuals-, have got into a new search of different wines made of indigenous grape varieties and Portugal started to rise among some other countries like Greece, Georgia, Austria, etc. The wine world has started to look for something different than Cabernet, Merlot or Chardonnay, though these are great varieties which unfortunately have had horrible industrial examples (especially in the New World) and have become ordinary for people who do not really know from which region to choose these varietals. Right here, Lets see what Jancis Robinson says about Portugal in 2010:

"Portugal's advantage in wine terms - its isolation, which has kept its inheritance of indigenous vine varieties intact and virtually unaffected by Chardonnay- and Cabernet-mania -... has also been its disadvantage. The Portuguese have had this strange habit of making wines to suit the palates of other Portuguese rather than making the sort of fruity, juicy-yet-structured wines that appeal to the majority of the world's wine consumers. The wines that have traditionally been most respected within Portugal are incredibly tough reds that have typically spent rather too long in storage before being bottled and some slightly tired whites whose unfamiliar flavours may strike some outsiders as slightly rank."

Of course she talks about slightly a past age and maybe on some topics she is right, but still, considering all these truth, the Portuguese producers succeeded to stay more distinctive than other countries which have had planted the French/International varieties regarding the business point of view(Though these varieties might give gorgeous wines in specific areas, for example see Bolgheri in Italy).

Also another advantage of Portuguese, according to me-for sure the best about these wines-, is the price-quality ratio; today Bordeaux and Burgundy classics, Sassicia-like, Gaja-like Italians, Vega Sicilia-like Spanish fellows, Screaming Eagle- or Sine Qua Non -like Americans have prices up in the air, somewhere close to the Stratosphere, so, the price-quality ratio of Portuguese wines will always be a safe harbour for the consumers looking for the best value wines. From the quality perspective, the democracy to the wine shelves will be brought by the Portuguese. But in the movie "April Captains", we hear officer Gervasio saying: "Ah, democracy! The human ambition in all its glory... Vanity, revenge and privileges under the orders of high finance... The turn of the chieftains..." Hopefully these wines will not get too high prices in future and the democracy of Portuguese wines in price will never turn into what Gervasio depicts. But there are still very expensive Portuguese wines too; for example, Barca Velha, the cult of Portuguese dry wines, which I would love to taste someday, but the price... the price is a kind of oh my goodness...

But all in all, what makes the Portuguese special? For me the answer is that deep characteristics in reds which makes them strong, jammy but delicious and supple at the same time, and for the whites, the floral, citrus-like aromas with high acidity, especially from the Vinho Verde region. Being indigenous, original but still humble, rustic yet delicious, masculine yet elegant, robust yet feminine, serious yet enjoyable... There are still so much words to say for dry Portuguese wines and I believe the consumers will very soon be aware of the quality of these wines and the producers have already awaken and saw the interest of the world on their wines. As it is said on the internet portal Wines of Portugal: "It’s an ongoing revolution."....  I am sure everyday more and more, the Portuguese will rise, because no revolution stops at the red light!!!  ;)

From the movie, officer Maia´s first victory and his warm smile

Some tasting notes on few Portuguese wines, which some are available in Finnish Monopoly:

Photo: Alko
Cabeça de Toiro Reserva 2008: Pink rims with ruby red color, blueberry, blackberry and then black currant comes to scene. Jammy with black pepper notes with strong but integrated tannins. Maybe little bit woody with a relatively low acidity but these are definitely not casting a cloud on enjoyment. Medium to full bodied, an elegant wine with a log final. 2010 recolte is right now available in Finland. 87/100

Esporão Reserva 2010: Ruby red, almost black. The nose is a carnival of dark forest berries, baked fruits, then sweet spices, little bit cinnamon and vanillin reveal. Medium to full bodied, in the mouth, blackcurrant dominates in time. The final is long dominated by vanilla flavor. The balance is impressive. It makes me feel like keeping the wine in my mouth for some time to enjoy the feeling longer before swallowing. Strong yet balanced, an iron fist in a velvet glove. 2011 recolte is available in Finland. 90/100.

Quinta das Setencostas 2010: Dark ruby red, opaque. A feminine nose, rose hip jam, blackcurrant, then in the mouth it is more intense and masculine, blackberry aromas together with a refreshing freshness. The nose gets dominated by lovely vanillin in time and blackcurrant-like aromas reveal in the mouth. Integrated tannins, medium bodied, velvety, the sweet final is moderate. A classic Portuguese. Good price-quality ratio. Available in Finland. 87/100

Photo: Alko
Quinta da Garrida Touriga Nacional 2007: Dark ruby red, opaque. The first nose is strong and impressive in fruit. Rose hip, blueberry, baked fruits like cherry jam; animal notes dominates the second nose. The fruitiness is in a harmony with leather and earthy aromas. Full bodied yet elegant with a satisfactory acidity. The warm final is moderate to long. Roasted dishes, stews, barbecues might go well together and it can handle lightly-spicy dishes too. 2009 recolte is available in Finland. 90/100

Quinta da Ponte Pedrinha 2010: Purple rims with dark red color. Strong nose with the domination of dark forest berries; blackcurrant. In the mouth, dusty tannins but lush. Aromas in the mouth reflects the nose. Full bodied, deep, jammy with a long and delicious final. Satisfying and feminine with its own elegancy. Not available in Finland. 88/100

Opta Dao Reserva 2011: Dark red color, berry notes with a nice slightly spice at the nose. Lovely vanillin takes the scene in time. Little bit astringent, tannins are really strong, final is quite long under the domination of alcohol but that does not really disturb. Masculine yet fruity and balanced. Not available in Finland. 88/100

Vallegre Douro Reserva Especial 2005: A brownish red color, reminds me Piedmont. Nose has a nutty touch baked fruits and honey. Surprisingly very floral, too. Medium to full bodied with a desired high acidity, significant yet integrated tannins. Moderate final is delicious, interesting, different. This is a strange wine. I mean totally positively strange. Still fresh fruitiness and a strange similarity to Burgundy whites in the nose, this wine is a very different Portuguese. Not available in Finland. 92/100

May your glass be filled with good Portuguese wine. Cheers/Kippis!


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Barbaresco Tasting in Emo 26.02.2014

Last week Wednesday, there was a Barbaresco tasting in Gastrobar Emo´s wine bar in Helsinki. The Barberosco producer Montaribaldi was going to introduce their wines with the attendance of the winery respondents. I contacted Emo for the details and decided to go there. The entrance for the event was free of charge and that was surprising considering that type of wine (to make it clear, since it is illegal to serve free alcoholic beverages in Finland, during that event no one was served with a free glass of wine, only the entrance at the door was free, the glasses were filled up with about 1-2 cl of wine to taste and then after that they were on sale; it was possible to buy a glass of any desired wine, if you like).

When I arrived, I was expecting to see a crowd at the bar but it was little bit different than i thought, not that crowded, maybe because of the scheduling, that the event started at 16:00, or maybe some other reasons etc.

During the tasting, the owner of the Montaribaldi winery Luciano Taliano, the export manager Giorgia Tontodonati and the importer Gianluca Poggio were present too and after the introduction by Giorgia, we tasted the following wines:

Spumante Brut "Giuseppe Taliano": Citrus and green apple aromas on the nose, a nice, everyday´s sparkling.

Arneis DOCG "Capural" 2013: Fruity nose with reminiscent of mulberry, well structured in the mouth with a  buttery feeling. The medium body might handle more acidity too.

Barbera d'Alba "Frere" 2011: Opaque, dark ruby red with leather and tobacco aromas on the nose. Blackcurrant is dominant in the mouth with strong tannins but the tannins are integrated. There is a also a touch of salinity too. Still, I felt like it lacks a bit of balance.

Barbera d'Asti "La Consolina" 2011: Slightly transparent, dark red with purple rims. Baked fruit and blackberry with leather at the second nose and good acidity in the mouth with red forest berries aromas. This medium bodied wine has a long final with a satisfaction of blackberry and cassis. Delicious.

Barbera d'Alba "Du Gir" 2010: Transparent dark red colored. The first nose is floral with slightly honey and forest berries, very well balanced in the mouth. The fruity final has a touch of vanillin, for sure it had an oak aging.

Langhe Rosso "Trestelle" 2011: Transparent red color with fruity nose, light to medium bodied, good acidity with a little bit astringency.

Langhe Nebbiolo "Gambarin" 2011: Light red colored with a touch of brown -a typical look for Nebbiolo- The nose has raspberry and clove, medium bodied with a moderate final.

Barbaresco DOCG "Palazzina" 2010: Floral nose gets spicy quickly and licorice gives itself . The nose gets a fruity character in time. Medium bodied; very elegant, feminine, a very nice wine with integrated tannins and a long final.

Barbaresco DOCG "Sori Montaribaldi" 2010: First with ripe apple and leather aromas, the nose gets a berry character in time, medium bodied with strong tannins, more masculine compared to Palazzina. Very nice wine to enjoy with a fine balance and long final.

Barbaresco DOCG "Ricu" 2009: Licorice and leather on the nose, fruity with earthy notes, with significant but integrated tannins, well balanced, a fine wine. Delicious and elegant with a long final.

Barolo DOCG "Borzoni" 2009: Licorice is significant on the nose but all in all, the nose is little bit introverted.  Light to medium bodied, gracious, characteristic.

Moscato d'Asti DOCG "Righey" 2012: A classic Moscato d'Asti. What to say more? Just beautiful, just delicious with tropical fruit aromas. Some Moscato d'Astis´ sweetness obscures the fruitiness of the wine but this one does not have the problem at all. Such a nice wine.

All in all, it was a nice event with a Piedmontese touch in Helsinki, a city where a lack of wine culture helplessly exists despite the high consumption of alcoholic beverages. Also it was not an ordinary tasting since the wines are just great, as what is not great from Piedmont? :) I would like to thank everyone who had put effort in this organization and I salute them.

May your glass be filled with Piedmontese wine. Greetings.

Luciano, Giorgia and Gianluca

Gianluca and Emo´s sommelier Eleonora

Luigi Einaudi Barolo Terlo 2009

Transparent dark red with light brown rims. First nose has green notes like chives, anise then licorice gets the scene with leather. Blueberry notes are dominant in the mouth with a high acidity, which makes this wine crispy. in time the mouth gets a fruity structure. Medium bodied with nice, integrated tannins, following a moderate final with a touch of vanillin and gets closer to the balance in the glass after some time. 90/100 39,70/75cl/February 2014

Friday, 14 February 2014

Farnito Camponibbio 2007 (Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon)

A Super Tuscan style wine. The color is opaque, dark ruby red with purple rims. The first nose is extroverted, it has baked fruits then blueberry, raspberry, fruit jam and slightly blood come to the scene. An almost perfection in balance at the palate, it is like chewing a bunch of dark forest berries in the mouth. Extremely fruity palate is a great fun with a medium to full body. The fruity final is quite long. Tannins are significant but integrated. A very easy, pleasurable drinking with a nice and surprising satisfaction of velvety texture. A wine of moment, not necessarily something to eat together, this wine might be enjoyed just reading a book together or consumed enjoying the night with a special person. Non-spicy cold cuts like Prosc.Parma might be a pair if needed. Decent price/quality ratio. 92/100  28,50€/75cl/February 2014

Lo Zoccolaio Dolcetto d'Alba 2012

Opaque with yellow rims. The nose is dominantly fruity, a hint of lingonberry followed by blueberry. In the mouth, the blueberry aroma continues together with blackcurrant. The full body is even more prominent with the robust tannins, followed by a slight astringency. The final is long with a satisfaction of deep dark flavors. The wine relaxes quite easily with decantation. Quite a good wine for its price-quality ratio. I think it is very young right now and I am going to buy few bottles to age for some couple of years and see how it develops. It might be good with heavy stews and butter fried fatty pieces of red meat like entrecote. 85/100 12,73€/75cl/February 2014

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Sagrantino 2008

Slightly transparent, dark ruby red with purple rims. The nose is a big surprise for a Sagrantino, it is extremely fruity and elegant, blackberry and blueberry followed by a slight rustic touch, a hint of leather. The nose is a great fun, I can spend my hours with sniffing this complex structure of aromas. In the mouth, the fruity background continues with strong tannins. Tannins are strong, little bit astringent but integrated and delicious. This beautiful velvety Italian has a medium to full body. It has a relatively masculen palate for its elegant, feminine nose. It is also possible to get hints of vanillin during the joyful final, which is long and pleasant. It might fit to red meat stews and cold cuts, or just, I would also love it to drink, enjoying the night reading my book. Delicious, complex structure, characteristic. Its a wine for nice moments. 92/100. Not available in Finland.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Reserve Naturelle Chardonnay 2012

Light straw yellow, first nose has a touch like gooseberry then it follows fresh grass and a hint of lime. Quite fresh in the mouth and velvety feeling with a touch of butteriness. It offers an easy drinking and a surprisingly balanced character for its price/quality ratio. The fresh final is short-moderate but fun with a touch of minerality. It can be a friend for a lot of dishes like salads as a main dish or seafood plates. With this price/quality ratio, this wine could be your daily white. It is also an organic product. 10,47€/75cl/Janaury 2014