Tonight’s experiment is the 2017 I Frati Lugana, from Cà dei Fratti. A blind choice, on the recommendation of a local wine maker who is also an aficionado of not-the-usual-grapes. We ran into him at our local establishment, and got to talking while we were searching for Nero d’Avola.
Let’s talk about the wine first.
The wine is a amber colored, and clear. Slight brown to the usual “yellow” of a white wine. On the nose, grapefruit and apricot. Mouthfeel is clean, with a medium body swirling it in the mouth reveals hints of a slight spritz, but it could also be the acids talking. Flavors include the above mentioned grapefruit and apricot, as well as some mallic acid. Nice, long, clean finish. This has an alcohol content of 13%, and it is a creeper – fair warning.
It might be tempting to think with the fruit notes and acids that this would be a tart wine. It has a tartness -not overwhelming- that is balanced out with a slight creaminess that comes not from oak, but from aging 6 months on lees. The tartness also mellows out the longer you leave it open.
The I Frati Lugana is made from Turbiana, and fermented in steel tanks.
Turbiana, it turns out, is Verdicchio. Verdicchio grown in the Lugana D.O.C. is somewhat unique, having adapted to local conditions, and developing distinct flavor profiles. The I Frati Lugana grapes are grown in limestone and clay soil.
Cà dei Fratti heralds this as their flagship wine, and it is, indeed, beautiful. Though this is a young bottle (2017), the wine is, apparently age-able (and I love a nice, aged, white). Like our Tannat experiment, I’ll probably pick up another bottle (or two) to forget about for a while.
For more about Lugana and Turbiana, I highly recommend this article from Opening A Bottle. It is also well-worth learning more about Cà dei Fratti.
Tannat is a red grape, usually found in southern France. It was introduced to Uruguay in the 19th Century, and is now considered Uruguay’s “national grape.”
From what I’ve read of Tannat, it has very high tannin levels (I do love tannic wines), and is best served with lamb or beef. I recently purchased a bottle of the 2017 Pisano Río de Los Pájaros Reserve Tannat, a wine originating from Progreso, Uruguay.
Ideally, given Tannat’s reputation for high tannins, and the rather young age of the wine, I probably should have waited another year or two before opening it. I didn’t. (I am, however, open to purchasing another bottle and remembering I have it in a few years). The nose had some funk to it, unfortunately reminiscent of that wet towel you forgot you put at the bottom of the laundry basket. It wasn’t overpowering, but it was present. I’m brave, and it’s a young vintage, and it didn’t seem like full on “fault,” so I decided to give it a go. After a glass, it seemed like decanting was a good idea. The funk didn’t transfer over to any flavor notes, but the fruit would disappear and reappear while the wine was sorting out what it wanted to do with its new best friend, oxygen.
After a few hours, the funk was gone from the nose, and in its place, black cherry, a slight amount of smokiness and fig, and some forest floor. The tannins mellowed considerably, and the fruit decided to remain present. Additionally, there are bits of black currant and lingonberry on the palate. Tannins and acid are still very present. You’re going to want something high in protein to work with the tannins on this one. That said, the overall experience was rewarding.
Based on its reputation, I was expecting something similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Tannat is definitely its own creature, and my expectations were dashed – in a good way. There is a complexity to the wine that has me curious for more. The next bottle I purchase will either be an older vintage, or a bottle that I will deliberately forget about for a while.
But what about dessert?
By pure coincidence, I also stumbled upon a Tannat dessert wine. Tannat dessert wine?? Sure! Bring it on!
It turns out that Madera Sella (also from Uruguay, and no website at the moment, it seems), makes a lovely dessert Tannat. I found a bottle of the “Limited Edition” 2014.
From the back label:
“Tannat Dessert wine is made from the ripest and most concentrated Tannat grapes using the same traditional methods in the famous vintage ports. The fermentation is stopped with the addition of high-quality Tannat alcohol or Brandy, thereby retaining some of the natural sugars in the grape juice and achieving 16 to 18 degrees of alcohol. The result is a rich wine that is naturally sweet and has been matured for one year in oak barrels. Tannat Dessert wine is intensely dark in color and has aromas of ripe figs, mint and chocolate. On the palate it offers concentrated, balanced fruit flavors and shows its natural sweetness while retaining its tannic character. Ideal to accompany desserts, particularly chocolate, and can also be enjoyed with cheese, or enjoyed on its own as a digestif.
The label pretty much sums it up. The color is red, with amber overtones. The flavor is very reminiscent of port, with notes of chocolate, and butterscotch. It pairs VERY well with chocolate (which cuts some of the alcohol). I suspect it would also go very well with ice cream.
Overall, I would call the Tannat experiment a success.
Using fruit from the Siógärd-Lányvár vineyard (in Hungary) and fermented in cooled steel tanks, Dúzsi Tamás has created a Rosé that they describe as having “elegant exotic fruity fragrances” and “taste notes of grapefruit, mango, and pomelo.”
The Dúzsi Tamás Kékfrankos Rosé was an incredibly pleasant surprise, and was completely different from the reds. The traditional red Blaufränkisch wines I have tasted have been dark plum colored, with aromas of chocolate, espresso, and hints of raspberry, and flavors of chocolate, wild blueberry, and marionberry with a slight black pepper finish.
This wine, the Rosé, is clear and bright, with a deep salmon color. It has aromas of honey and stone fruit – apricot, with a hint of peach, and flavors of citrus, grapefruit, mango, and apricot. The wine is well integrated and balanced with medium acid, and a slight spritz. The pepperiness of the reds is not as overt, but hidden (in a good way) beneath the other flavor notes.
Bottled in early spring, the Rosé has 13% alcohol, with no indication of hotness. It does sneak up on one, however, with the alcohol hidden by the outstanding flavors and drinkability of the wine. This is a wine that would pair perfectly with a summer barbecue.
What’s fascinating to me, is the radically different flavor profile from the standard red Blaufränkisch. The Rosé highlights the versatility of the fruit, and complexity of what it has to offer. This is a unique Rosé that I would highly recommend. Dúzsi Tamás claims that it is a customer favorite, and it is easy to see why.
Dark plum color, and light around the edges. On the nose, chocolate covered espresso, hints of raspberry, pencil shavings, and graphite. Flavors include chocolate, with hints of wild blueberry marionberry, and other dark brambly berries; a hint of black pepper at the end. It is a smooth wine with low acid, soft tannins, and nicely balanced.
In 2007, as part of their Musterhaus series (volume 8, to be precise), German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten released their album, Weingeister (“wine spirits”).
“Weingeister”: It started as just an idea, perhaps out of a simple wish to drink some wine with friends, as a performance, not talking, just ritualised behaviour (Symposium in the original sense?), concentrating on the wine and on the sound. Everything was miked, the table, the glasses, the throats – and we really didn’t know where this was taking us. Yes, the wines were good.
The album is literally that. The sounds of wine being poured, and drunk. Each wine, with its own sounds. The following wines were consumed, and recorded:
2004 Carriddi Bianco
2004 Moscato Giallo
1997 Cuvée Annamaria Clementi
2003 Rossi Di Bisaccia
1995 Brunello Riserva
1997 Condrieu Les Chaillets
An interesting album, and as part of their “Musterhaus” series, an experimental piece exploring regions of pure sound beyond Neubauten’s usual instrumentation of sheet metal and power tools.
Each wine, based on varietal, appellation, terroir, vintage, fermentation, and aging has a unique signature of aroma, bouquet, and flavor.
Do they each possess a unique sound?
When tasting wine, we admire it visually. We smell it, and pick out various notes. We take it into our mouths, and talk about mouthfeel, and tastes.
Maybe we should listen to wine, as well.
Copies of Weingeister are still available (it would appear), directly via Einstürzende Neubauten.
When we first moved to wine country, in 2014, it simultaneously felt like being welcomed home, and arriving in Summerisle. I was convinced that there was some sort of agrarian, grape-based Wicker Man cult hiding in the shadows.
This, of course, turned out to not be the case. Or maybe it is the case, and I’m sworn to secrecy. Or, maybe it is the case, and we have yet to actually encounter them.
One thing is certain, however. Many people are called to wine country. Some are summoned. You don’t choose this. The grapes choose you.
Vi(g)nosis is an attempt to find the common threads in my interests: esotericism, spirituality, an increasing fascination with nature, wine, winemaking, viticulture, and the domestication of humanity by flora – specifically, vitis vinifera.