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Cambon La Pelouse 2010

2010 Château Cambon la Pelouse

Château Cambon lies exactly between Château Cantemerle and Château Giscours. Also, their location is the highest hill of Macau, literally on the border of the appellation with Margeaux. Part of the vineyard (6 hectares) is managed organically, but it is not clear about the complete transition. Whether or not any organic grapes have been put into the ‘Cambon La Pelouse’ 2010 bottle is also not clear.

The grapes: Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (47%) and Petit Verdot (3%) come from the oldest vines belonging to the Château (35 years on average), whose yield is limited to an average of 38 hectolitres per hectare. The year 2010 was relatively dry, but without an extreme summer, which directly influenced the great concentration (the average weight of grapes was 15% lower than in 2009), the beautifully developed aromas and appropriate level of acidity.

The maturity of the grapes was checked every day during the harvest period to choose the best moment of the vintage. After double selection and sorting, before the fermentation begins, the grape must did undergo a week-long cold maceration. After fermentation, the wine has been matured for a year on lees in oak barrels (some in new, some in used).

What is this wine really like, and is it worth these 22 € per bottle? In short and direct terms – absolutely. This 2010 is compared to the classically excellent 2005 (by the consulting oenologist (Claude Gros) himself). Even though 10 years have passed, “Cambon La Pelouse” is still young at the very beginning of its journey. Full body, high alcohol, deliciously rounded tannins, high acidity, which fantastically transports the entire aroma orchestra to our olfactory system. Did I mention the long finish?

The mentioned orchestra on the nose serves us as the first violin characteristic pepper aromas, cherry, dried plums. Then, in the background, a cedar tree, graphite and smoke rumble. One cannot ignore the yeast-like “bread” nuances. It is worth noting that to let this wine breathe a little, only then bright and still young raspberries appear on the palate. “Cambon La Pelouse” delivers fantastic value for money, a Médoc, for that price… uff!

Pandemic Rose Winnica Miłosz

2019 Pandemic Rosé – Winnica Miłosz (PL)

I have the impression that this current ideal moment for the release of a wine label like that is often more eagerly discussed than the content of the bottle itself. I have to admit – it was the label design, basic information about the vineyard and its location that brought me to taste a Polish wine again.

Why the series “Pandemic Wines”? Obviously, Krzysztof Fedorowicz does not have a clairvoyant on his payroll to predict what the year 2020 will be like. At the beginning of the year, during archaeological works in Zielona Góra, graves dating back almost 700 years to the time of the Black Death Pandemic were discovered. A few weeks later, virtually the whole world stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The figure of the Pestdoctor on the label and the name “pandemic wine” was a brilliant idea that perfectly fitted into this current, strange reality we live right now.

Zielona Góra and its surrounding is a region that has made a significant mark on history for wine in the Central European region. Sadly, this type of history is not widely known in Poland. After all, on today’s Polish territory, the history of the German Sekt was made. It was the production of sparkling wine by Grempler&Co that made the region and style famous. The Grempler Sekt was awarded at world fairs, e.g. in Paris in 1855, and after the embargo imposed on France in 1920 – de facto, the Grempler Sekt became the leading and most relevant sparkling wine of that time.

Pandemic Rose Winnica Miłosz

There were three versions of the “Pandemic Rosé” released, for each the grapes came from different plots. My “Pandemic Rosé” is a 2019 Zweigelt of a light salmon colour. This wine is a low-interventional creature of an ethereal character, gives the impression that if one drink too slowly, it will simply disappear by itself. The aromas of a young strawberry or a slightly metallic grapefruit dominate the glass (if we can speak of dominance). 12% alcohol, delicate aromas and medium+ acidity make this perfect wine for the summer laidback evenings. However, it seems just as good to me to fight the autumn depression away and to remember the sunny days of 2020 when we watched the world from behind the Pestdoctor’s glasses – through our windows during the pandemic quarantine.

Quarz - Kellerei Terlan

2014 “Quarz” Kellerei Terlan

Kellerei Terlan is one of those huge names, mentioned right at the beginning of various wine publications in the context of Alto Adige. Two specific wines most often appear – “Vorberg” a Pinot Bianco, and “Quartz” a Sauvignon Blanc. Let’s start with the region itself. Despite many different influences, Alto Adige, this beautiful Alpine region, border changes, various monarchies, and republics that usurped the area remained true to its local traditions. Despite this, it has unfortunately failed to maintain most of its local, indigenous tribes. Although Kellerei Terlan has a few such wines in their portfolio, let’s face it – these are not the most significant points of this winery’s program. Like the vast majority in Alto Adige, they are orientated on international varietals introduced in the region by the Habsburgs. The young generation of winemakers, which is slowly taking over the family business, is investing more and more in the revitalization of the local strains… but this is a topic for a separate text and maybe even a research paper for the DipWSET.

Quarz - Kellerei Terlan

Kellerei Terlan, it is one of the oldest still existing wineries in the region. In fact, it is a wine cooperative operating since 1893, producing about one and a half million bottles each year. They are known for their outstanding quality wines, the so-called Stocker’s Rarities, and naturally for their alpine take on Sauvignon Blanc, in the form of the wine “Quarz“.

It took me a long time to get to this bottle. It’s not something you get every day. The vines for this Sauvignon Blanc grow at an altitude of 300 – 550 m, in the southern aspect of Tschögglberg. The Alpine substrate, in this case, is subvolcanic quartz (porphyry), one can expect corresponding rocky mineral aromas (flint, stones) and proper acidity. Of course, the grapes are harvested by hand, slowly fermented at a controlled temperature, and aged for 9 months on the lees – 50% in steel, 50% in barrels, blended 3 months prior bottling. In my bottle, there is a 2014 vintage, which was not one of the easiest. A mild winter and a stormy summer made the harvest not as usual in the region.

Quarz - Kellerei Terlan

The wine presents a slightly balsamic, complex nose, straight away after opening. The herbal notes are playing the first role here, as well as those resulting from sitting a couple of years in a bottle – hay, some ginger, nutmeg, but also a typical light cheese or bread dough aroma. Oily texture. On the palate, the wine displays equal complexity, confirming the nose, there are also the previously mentioned stony and mineral aromas – the aroma of flint. Also, slightly grassy with clear notes reminding of lemongrass. 13,5% ABV.

The 2014 “Quarz” is truly a beautiful, very complex, exquisite wine. Fantastic alpine take of terror and Sauvignon Blanc, a pleasantly unusual one. Price per bottle in Germany (online) is around 40 – 45 €, and worth every cent.

pic_by_Ranjith_Solomon_on_Unsplash

You are missing out

This story is not going to be a summary of the French associations for natural winemakers. The lately officially recognized by the Institute for Origins and Quality (France) natural wine certification — “Vin Méthode Nature” won’t be discussed. Let’s talk about how you’re probably missing out on beautiful wines, places, people, and their stories.

Maybe you already know some of those natural wine extremists. These people will only drink wine if it’s 100% natural, no intervention, zero additives, made with unknown grapes, unknown locations, and by unknown winemakers. I was very much into that hip natural-wine ephemeral (mostly online) community. The pursuit was real — we were after the most nothing-added, hardcore, down-to-earth wines one can find. I wanted to try all the big names and of course all the unknown ones as well.


Natural wine is pretty much Wabi-Sabi → it’s a celebration of imperfection.


That’s the funny part about that. Even thou, the pursuit is after what is not-known and not-discovered, most of those natural-wine zealots aren’t in the reality that keen on experimenting, as you might think. They tend to stick to the known names and known hardcore natural wines, which are pushed the most by the retailers. Or, eventually, will turn to those bottles which availability is strictly controlled and limited by the winemakers themselves.

Photo by Jossuha Théophile on Unsplash

I don’t think anything good can come from limiting your perception. Of course, being a subject matter expert takes time and patience, and hours of exercise or challenging yourself, but this specialization will never result from ignoring any broader perspective. Specializing means also, that one had to spend time learning the difference and appreciating something outside their field.

Natural wine is, of course (among others) about natural methods of production, it’s about living and working in harmony with nature, it’s about leaving it as it is and allowing to work its magic on its own. It’s about limiting human influence in the process and around it. Natural wine is pretty much Wabi-Sabi → it’s a celebration of imperfection (read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi).

After starting with the WSET education, I was initially a bit skeptical about the curriculum and its strong focus on French wines. I learned to appreciate it, and tasted many french wines I would probably not try if not for the WSET classes. After the exciting course and the talks with my fellow students — I understood it very clear that I might have been missing out. I was missing out on many fantastic wines, on many different tastes, stories, terroirs, and all that what comes together with the wine bottle, if you’re interested enough to learn more.

Now, after some time, doing another WSET level, after visiting natural wine festivals, both smaller and more prominent, I understood that I was indeed missing out myself. I was missing out by closing my eyes and my mind before new experiences. Of course, there is a large wine industry focused on pushing a product made in bulk, but the wine world is amazingly vast. I would still rather go for a nice biodynamic wine over conventionally made one. Again, I would be damned if I ever say “no” to a beautiful Meursault, only because there might be some SO2 or stabilizers added.

Chill with Fledermaus on my balcony

It’s such a pleasure when you get to enjoy a good bottle of wine with a beautiful background-story. Two winemakers from Franconia in Germany — 2naturkinder, are doing it right. When in 2014 they had taken over a Müller-Thurgau vineyard, they’ve noticed an old shed just standing in the middle of the field. They reached out to Christian Söder, who runs a local foundation for helping bats (yes, bats), and decided to use the abandoned shed in the 2naturkinder’s vineyard as a refuge for local bat colonies. The guano collected from the shed is used to fertilize the soil in the vineyard, and a part of the revenue from the “bat wines” goes to the Landesbund für Vogelschutz (which translates to State Association for Bird Protection), that protects among others the bats in the region. Isn’t that a perfect harmony in a fully holistic approach? The wine is also delicious, by the way.

When you’re very committed to finding that fantastic natural wine, there’s a good chance in the meantime you’re missing out on the vast amount of beautiful wines that not necessarily carry the “natural” tag. Some winemakers don’t even want to play along; they’re too tired, too old, or just plainly not interested in the pursuit of certifications and logos. Their primary desire is to carry on doing what they love the most — to make excellent wines. Just like 2Naturkinder, who care about the environment and their wines. They are not paying much attention to the logos, and the consumers, myself included, also don’t seem to mind.

— Photo in the header by Ranjith Solomon on Unsplash

2018 Louro Rafael Palacios

2018 Rafael Palacios “Louro”

I’m starting this post for at least 5th time, backspacing everything after several words. I bought the bottle at the “Powinno” wine store in Wrocław (Poland). A few days ago I’ve texted Karol, the owner, to ask about the wine. I thought it’s a 100% Godello, turns out it’s cut with Treixadura, but in unknown amounts. Some vintages were cut 90/10 Godello/Treixadura, but no fix information is available.
I’ve just opened the bottle yesterday evening. – I said.
– What do you think? – Karol asked.
– Well… to be honest… I’m still thinking.

Godello do Bolo (2018) from Rafael Palacios is no ordinary Godello wine, that’s sure. I’ve never tried a pure Treixadura wine, but what I’ve read, it’s supposed to inject some lemony-citric aroma, sometimes some herbs, some apples, which seems pretty normal as it is related to Loureiro. Of course, it’s only up to 10% in the cut, but the typical expected Godello aromas are also not very clear in the case of that 2018 Louro.

I was curious if the wine will develop or change its profile if kept open for some time – well, no, it didn’t. It stayed very stable and elegant, just like it was right after opening the bottle.

A few days later, I’m writing these words and I still don’t know what do I think about that wine, I’m still not sure if I like it or not; if I’d get another bottle or not. Maybe it was a mistake to open it at such a young age?

👀 Appearance: Light straw color, clear, a little bit oily, slow viscosity.
👃 Nose: a medium intensity of aromas, pear, and apple, herbal (fennel?); after aerating: bread, vanilla, honey, quince.
👅 Palate: nice incorporated acidity, citric notes, very fresh and mineral; after aerating comes the sun out: pineapple, dried peach, gravel/stone.
💣 ABV: 13,5%

The wine was fermented at the low-temperature in a steel tank. Next, aged for 4 months with its fine yeast in a 3500 liters barrels made with french oak straight out of Normandy.

After few days to think and trying a little bit over and over again, all that non-standard, not-expected aromas and notes – it’s just that beautiful Valdeorras terroir speaking. It’s an interesting, but complex wine. Definitely not an easy-drinking, but isn’t it what we are all looking for, after all?

Cortes de Cima 2011

2011 Cortes de Cima

The 2011 vintage was not an easy one for the Alentejo region. After the record rainfall in the winter season, the region got hit with a record of tropical heat in May. Cortes de Cima decided to harvest super early that year, the yield and grape quality was very good. Fermentation went in controlled temperature, grapes stemless. Aged for 12 months in 80%/20% French/American Oak barriques.

The wine is a sensationally done assemblage of 35% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 35% Syrah, 13% Touriga Nacional, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Alicante Bouschet, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was already beautiful, as a young one in 2011 and 2014. Who made it without opening and stored in good conditions until 2019 can enjoy a beautiful, elegant but powerful wine.

👀 Appearance: The wine is clear with deep intensity, garnet in appearance.
👃 Nose: clean, pronounced aromas of ripe fruits, as well as some wood, smoke.
👅 Palate: one can truly taste all that ripe, soaked in sun fruit. Beautiful ripe black cherries, plums, ripe berries, there is also something from anise in the background. Moderate tannins, medium+ body, and long finish make this wine a very complete and very good companion to enjoy.
💣 ABV: 14%

Cortes de Cima 2011

I’m glad to have several bottles still sitting. Even though it’s been 8 years now – the wine still have enough potential to age properly. If you ever get your hands on that beast of a wine – do not hesitate and take a few bottles right away!

If you’re interested in the story of Cortes de Cima, check out their video:

2015 Petit Bout de Lune

Fabien Bonnet and Stefania Galimberti are the ones behind the Les Petits Riens. They strive by the holistic approach living according to the cycles of nature, in harmony with the earth and sky. Even the bottles are sealed with their own produced beeswax. Is this still heroic viticulture or more harmonic viticulture? 😉

Les Petits Riens are making fantastic wines with a total dedication to the cause. Their approach is what one would call true craftsmanship. The quantities of the wines produced are limited. The reason is to be able to personally follow all the phases and care for the wines they make. All the wines are done biologically and actually to what would also fit the Demeter requirements. Les Petits Riens don’t own the certifications, just as many winemakers producing quality wines in the Valle d’Aosta. The reason is straightforward – they don’t need any logo to make amazing wines.

The vineyard Fabio and Stefania work with is two hectares, with cultivated 12 different native and non-native vines (local Cornalin, Petit Rouge, Gamay, Erbaluce, Syrah, Chardonnay, Mayolet, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Mondeuse Noire). Each grape variety is vinified naturally, with the least interventionist work possible. The vines were planted in 1987, and the farm (incl. the vineyard) is located in between 600 and 800 meters above the sea level.

80% Chardonnay and 20% Erbaluce (indigenous to the region), aged for 24 months: 40% in steel and 60% in the barrique. After the pressing, the juice is left for one night decanting. The fermentation process starts with indigenous yeasts (prepared from the same grapes). Malolactic fermentation occurs spontaneously.

Petit Bout de Lune is an authentic wine to contemplate and enjoy in silence. Beautifully elegant, deserve the full attention to appreciate it. With the only first sip, I knew right away – I need to sit down. My mind went straight back to the beautiful days I spent in the Valle d’Aosta, enjoying the fantastic nature, local products made with love and care, playing with a dog I met at the hotel and just jogging around the vineyards. Excellent wine, one of the absolute best I had in 2019.

👀Appearance: clear, medium intensive gold
👃Nose: clean, medium intensity. Noticeable flowers and fruits. Straw, grass, prominent apples from Erbaluce, pineapple.
👅Palate: dry, low acidity, very well incorporated alcohol. Caramel, Butter. Very flowery. Noticeable honeysuckle, pear, a little citric. Long finish.
🧪SO2: 50mg / l
💣ABV: 14,5%

Outstanding wine, the 2015 vintage is ready to drink as of 2019. I wouldn’t wait too long now to open the bottle.

2018 Roter Riesling - Winnica Silesian

2018 Roter Riesling – Winnica Silesian

Winnica Silesian is a new brand to the polish wine market, but they already managed to get widespread attention. The foundation is strong – there is a lovely story, a vivid design, there are the personality and the young strength, as well as and good social media coverage. But is there also a final product – the wine? Well, yes! 

The first thing one notices is the beautiful label design. Each of the labels bears a different picture of the family or the property, accompanied by a short story and wine description. The Roter Riesling’s label tells us a story about the founder’s brother, his horse, and his temper, which shall be resembled in the character of the wine – cheerful, young and playful.

Before we get to the wine, what is the Roter Riesling? For a long time, it was believed that the grape is the ancestor of the well-known white Riesling grape. The DNA analysis conducted in 2009 contradicted the popular view. It turned out that the red Riesling is a mutation of the white grape. It is more resistant to the Botrytis (which means we won’t see any red Riesling Eiswein), should bring more acidity forward, while exhibiting almost identic aromas as the white Riesling. The Roter Riesling varietal was cultivated partially in the area of Rheingau and the hessianWeinstrasse, planted commonly together with the white Riesling grape already in the Middle Ages. Currently, not a popular grape anymore, yet the University of Geisenheim is also working on Roter Riesling as a part of the reinitiation of the indigenous grapes to the local viticulture. Thank the effort of the Institut für Rebenzüchtung (which would translate to something like “Institute for Grape Cultivation Studies”) running under the same University, the grape is officially recognized and admitted for the production of Qualitätswein, which is a big deal. In the German retail market, one can find bottles of Roter Riesling without any bigger problem, but the popularity is nowhere close to white Riesling.

The 2018 Roter Riesling from Winnica Silesian is their commercial debut not only with that particular grape but in general. The winery is a joint effort of the three generations of one family. They all are involved in the production of wines. Winnica Silesian gets the consulting support from two experienced winemakers – Michał Pajdosz, from another polish winery Winnica Jakubów; and Matthias Schuh from Weingut Schuh near Dresden in the east part of the country. I think the knowledge transfer within the whole team is one the reasons why Winnica Silesian is open for a few brave decisions like prolongated yeast contactTrockenbeereauslese, or of course, planting of the Roter Riesling next to the classic Riesling

“When it is possible, we will definitely plant more.” – Answered Sonia Mazurek when asked about the Roter Riesling. Currently, the vineyard is planted on 11 hectares of land, most of the soil is schist (slate), which will add to the adicity level. The vines were planted in 2016, and once truly deep-rooted, the wine will profit from another range of beautiful aromas, bringing more to already delicious wine. 

The aromas to notice with the 2018 Roter Riesling are the classic cool climate Riesling’s aromas – few floral notes, present citric aromas (grapefruit, lemon zest). It’s young, nevertheless – very correct, precise. Right after opening the bottle, the wine works very fresh, with good acidity and very well incorporated alcohol (12% ABV) from the very beginning. Still, it comes a little flat – it needs a bit of breathing to release the aromas. I found it sensitive to the temperature, more than expected – it gives very little when served too cold. The standard Riesling’s serving temperature lies around 7 – 10 Celcius. I found the best result with that 2018 Roter Riesling around 12 degrees. It might not seem like a huge difference, but it is very noticeable, the aromas start to flow. After some time since the bottle was opened – one can notice clear litchi, also a little bit of peach and wild strawberry.

Of course, next to the already interesting nose and the optics (absolutely beautiful, vibrant orange color), the palate is profiting from 3 and ½ weeks of skins maceration. The wine won a bit fuller body than the usual cool climate Riesling offers.

All wines by Winnica Silesian are produced only with own grown grapes, all harvested and selected by hand. The grapes are vinified and bottled at the winery. I’m really curious about how the aromas and quality will develop over time. All their vines are, of course, still very young. Once a proper yield control and management will be possible and take place, the results will be fascinating. Especially since even at a young age of the winery – the team behind Winnica Silesian is already able to deliver a wine of good quality. I strongly believe that in a few years – they will produce some indeed bomb Roter Rieslings

👀 Appearance: clear, medium-, color orange
👃 Nose: clean, medium intensity fresh with clear citric aromas (primarily grapefruit, lemon zest), after decanting – intensity medium+ primarily litchi, and peach, secondary – wild strawberry
👅 Palate: dry, medium+ acidity – very good incorporated, balanced, additionally aromas of green apple on the palate
💣 ABV: 12%

2018 Mari di Ripiddu Etna Bianco

Etna Bianco 2018 from Mari di Ripiddu is my first approach to wine from grapes grown on volcanic soil and also from that particular area near Catania.  I didn’t know what to expect besides some minerality, possibly salty tang, stone aromas. I certainly was not disappointed about that encounter. This particular 2018 Etna Bianco is a truly beautiful wine, perfect for a hot summer day.

The grapes are Carricante and Catarratto, which are indigenous to southern Italy, especially to Sicily. The first is a high yield grape cultivated in slopes of Etna for a thousand years. The latter grape is a descendant of a well-known grape Garganega, which is used to produce many easy-drinking wines.

Appearance: clean, pale
Nose: clean, fresh with clear lime zest aromas, a little wax, and stone
Palate: dry, medium+ acidity – good incorporated, not disturbing, aromas of green apple, hints of iron on the palate.

2017 Petit Pittacum

I don’t really remember why did I completely stop enjoying and drinking red wine, but it took me years to get back to it. I think it was a couple of months ago when I randomly had some Amarone della Valpolicella. Since then, somehow, I discovered red wine again.

Petit Pittacum is made by the Bodega Pittacum located in Arganza, north from Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo, in the western part of the province León. Even though the winery officially opened for business in 1999, they are focused on locating older vines (50 – 110 years old), growing in different microclimates and soils, which will allow bringing different characteristics forward. They are dedicated to the grape Mencía, and the 2017 Petit Pittacum is a 100%.

Grapes for that particular wine come from a small distributed plots of a 100 years old Mencía vines, located on the hills in the El Bierzo. Sourced from the slopes facing east and north, growing in the clay soil. The hills and the valleys in the El Bierzo are creating a particular climate, with moderate Galician humidity, while partially dry as in the region of Castile. The grapes are harvested manually and transported in small batches. Destemmed at the winery and fermented uncrushed for 15 days in 25 degrees Celsius, stirred and transferred into barrels to age for another period of 3 months, further aging happens in the bottle.

The wine needed some time to properly open and let all the aromas fly, after uncorking the bottle. Initially, it might seem a bit heavy on the wood (new barrels?), but once it breaths a little, the fruity nose pushes oak more into the background and it’s the cherry and black current in the front row. It is a bit spicy as well, the combination of black pepper’s aroma and the saline sensation on the palate works in favor of a nice medium finish.

Petit Pittacum vintage 2017 is a well balanced and incorporated 14% of alcohol. There is more happening on the nose, than on the palate. The complexity is just right to consider it at least a good, straightforward red wine.

Appearance: clean, medium-deep purple, a little gradient on the rim, the wine is pretty young after all.
Nose: clean, pronounced – leather, mushrooms, licorice, cherry
Palate: dry, medium+ acidity, low tannin, medium body. It has a mineral/saline sensation going on, aromas of black pepper, black currant, and tobacco.