Note: sommelier studies and papers to write have led me to neglect The Wine Analyst yet again. From now on though, things will be different and posts will actually be published, even on a more or less regular basis!
To start with a bit of hipster news, beards are out, moustaches are the new thing (in all likelihood in solidarity with those struggling to grow a full beard)! Dive Bouteille has developed quite the rapport with the wine hipster community and continues to enjoy increasing international attention, not in the least thanks to Alice Feiring and Pascaline Lepeltier.
The excitement about Dive Bouteille stems from its smplicity: it is all about the wine. Big fairs like the Salon or Prowein are first and foremost business venues. Importers visit the estates they represent or are on the hunt for new wines to add to their portfolio. This only holds up at Dive to a certain extent. A lot of winemakers prefer wandering around to catch up with colleagues or to discover new wines. There is an atmosphere of excitement, of genuine joy when you drag someone with you to taste a wine that you just discovered. It is electrifying, really showing what true passion for wine can be.
It is a bit of a hipster gathering, and having a geek-conversation with a winemaker is not an easy task if you have someone poking you with their inescapable backpack (the French countryside is apprantly too dangerous to leave it in the car). Add to this the fact that the damp, badly-lit and crowded Ackermann caves are not the ideal setting to apply a rigorous tasting technique, and you can make an educated guess as to the accuracy of my tasting notes. Then again, this is not the point! Drink a glass (not a lot of spittoons here), have a refill and have a chat with someone who shares your enthusiasm for wine!
Anyway, there were a couple of winemakers who did leave quite the impression and are definitely on my radar for a closer look. At Vini Birre Ribelli last year I already had a brief chat with Jean-Pascal Sarnin from Sarnin-Berrux, an up and coming négociant in Burgundy. I tasted their Aligoté 2014 at the time and was very impressed, round, rich but with the fresh citrus that you would expect of the variety. The Vins de France are vinified in Burgundy but the fruit is sourced from the Ardèche. These are good, more of the vin de soif type than anything with real complexity but enjoyable. The Burgundian reds are a whole different story. Not all of them balanced, these are young wines after all, but very well made and clean, elegant in style. The winner for me was the Chassagne-Monrachet 2014 (in red), tight, very mineral but brimming with juicy fruit. Hopefully this can find its way to Belgium!
Just a couple of weeks before Dive, we had a bottle of Les Bottes Rouges chardonnay (Jura) at Frituur René. It was an impressive wine, so I was interested in tasting the rest of their offering. Jean-Baptiste has only been making wine for a couple of years but given the lineup he is already able to present today, he will surely become one of the region’s great winemakers. I was particularly impressed by the 2015 Tôt ou Tard Poulsard, a clean, focused wine with the kind of zippy acidity that I just love. La Pepée 2014, pinot noir, is another wine that I would pick up.
Anthony Thévenet may ring a bell as the very first wine of the week I presented was his Morgon 2013. There were a couple of other wines on offer this time of which the Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2013 was the star. Structured with a refreshing acidity and really clean fruit and black cherries, this has done better than the 2013 Morgon which had lost a bit of fruit already. The 2015 Morgon was worrisome at 14.5% of alcohol, leaving little room for any freshness. Overall though, this is an impressive production given that Anthony only started in 2012 and continues to work at Foillard as well.
I was a bit disappointed that there was a lot of overlap with last year’s selection when it comes to international winemakers. Dirty & Rowdy had nothing left to taste by the time I got there, neither did Comando G. Luckily I was able to taste the lineup of Olivier Rivière, a frenchman in Spain who moved away from the traditional oak-ageing focus in Rioja, opting instead for a village approach reminiscent of Burgundy.
Ganko 2014 is a garnacha-mazuelo (carignan) blend from grapes grown in Rioja Alta. It shows a lot of class, fresh red fruits in the nose but a nice spiciness in its structure. It is still a bit grippy. El Cadastro 2013 is sourced from 100-year old vineyards near Covarrubias, a village in the D.O. of Arlanza which suffers a bit from its proximity to its much more celebrated neighbours. Mainly tempranillo, this is absolutely terrific. Very floral in the nose, violets and blueberries.Well-defined, a bit restrained, tannins that clearly need time but contain a lot of promise. These are wines with depth and finesse that prove that the move towards terroir-driven instead of oak-dominated red wines certainly is justified.
All in all, Dive is a great experience that can ground a winelover who tends to get lost in covering all possible appellations or in finding this or that fruit in the wine. It brings back wine to its essence, bringing joy, sparking conversations and just leading to a good time!