A series of interviews with wine professionals on the frontlines of production and consumption. Subjects will cover wine production, vineyards challenges, climate change, organics, biodynamics, tasting and enjoying.
Stefano Girelli | Organic Sicily, expressed in enchanting flavour
Stefano Girelli | Sicily, expressed in enchanting flavour
In this interview and tasting I speak with Stefano Girelli, owner of two estates Santa Tresa and Cortese, in the southern part of the Sicily, Vittoria. We discuss the island’s potential for organic produce and why it is so exciting as a 21st century wine producer.
Today, as the southern gateway into Europe, Sicily is both vibrantly awake and celebrating its wealth of flavours and human activity, coupled with the tense interplay of colours that range from Etna’s volcanic displays, to the blindingly pure azure.
Stefano Girelli: ’About 20-25 years ago I went to Sicily and it was like love at first sight.’
‘Vittoria is is in the deep south part of Sicily, south of Regusa, and if you look on the map you will see that Tunis, is north of us! Why did I fall in love? The answer is very simple. In that area you find a unique soil called Terra Rosa or faretti, which is really sandy and gives you an incredible structure. It gives you some really fine and elegant wine.’
‘My perception before going to Vittoria was that all the wines from the south were big, bold with a lot of muscle and of alcohol. Actually from Vittoria you get wines that really elegant with fruity nose and less structure but much more drinkable and enjoyable.’
Read mor eon SecretSommelier.com
Ancient Soils & Biodynamic Practises at Yangarra Estate Vineyards in McLaren Vale, Australia
Welcome to wine on the frontline where in this episode we discuss Biodynamics & Ancient Soils in the context of producing fine wine in a changing climate
In this interview with award winning winemaker, Peter Fraser of Yangarra Estate, McLaren Vale, in Australia, we discuss how using organic and biodynamic techniques has boosted biodiversity and, hopefully, resilience against climate extremes in the vineyard.
I also taste four wines: the 2020 Blanc, a blend of 5 Rhone grape varieties, the 2019 Noir, a blend of 6 Rhone varieties, the 2018 Old Vine Grenache and the 2019 PF Shiraz, all organic and biodynamically produced.
With so much focus on farming practise and how agriculture needs to find ways to boost ecosystems, Peter offers great insights into why careful conversion is very much about trialling and learning about what works and what doesn’t.
The quest here is to produce a win-win for us, the consumers, for the wine producer, and for the complex lifeforms that underpin our own existence.
Thank you for listening to Wine On The Frontline. View more on SecretSommelier.com
Christian Seely Interview - Quinta Do Noval's Ungrafted Vines and the rise of dry Douro wines
This interview with Christian Seely, Managing Director of the esteemed Quinta do Noval estate and owner of Quinta do Romaneira, close by in the Douro Valley, was not originally intended for podcast use, however, in listening back after the call it felt a shame not to use it.
Anyone who has visited the Douro valley and is stained by the sheer intoxicating beauty of the place, probably, like me, seeks it out in every sniff and taste of wine from the region. Noval is certainly one of the Quinta’s in the Douro that conjures it very well in the glass.
Christian in this interview also offers some great insights into the Nacional plot of un-grafted vines comparing them with those grafted onto American rootstocks post-phelloxera. He also delves into the eccentricity of Noval’s policy of declaring vintages, and sheds light on the rise of popularity and production of dry wines in the region.
It was a telephone call so the audio is akin to a radio call in but I do consider worth a listen, so here it is.
View more on SecretSommelier.com
Thanks to sponsors Howard Walwyn Fine Antique Clocks and the UK's No. 1 Wedding Planners
Bruce Jack's Journal, Lockdown, Yum Yum Wine & Igniting Personal Mythologies
In preparing to speak to Bruce Jack for this interview there were very apparently too many avenues to explore. Thankfully, Bruce doesn’t shy away from engaging and digging deep on subjects that one might not expect to cover in a wine orientated interview.
Instead of transcribing, that would take me forever, I have tidied up the interview for Youtube and as an inaugural podcast for the SecretSommelier podcast channel (I will not be waxing lyrical about anything on the channel but will be adding interviews with wine pro’s to the channel).
This is a summary of topics covered:
The Jack Journal was due to be published and launched in Dusseldorf at ProWein in March. This was largely due to the printer being the only carbon-neutral printer that Jack could find. As discussed in this interview, being a brand that stands for something is important, especially when the brand is your own name.
Portugal & history
My article for the Jack Journal was based up on four trips to Portugal in 2019 and an impressionistic/anecdotal view of how climate change was being felt in this North-Western part of the Iberian Peninsula (Vinho Verde, Douro and Dao).
Bruce uses Portuguese grapes in his own wines and says he is ‘enamoured’ with Portugal from a historical perspective as well as from the viticultural perspective, citing the Methuen Trade Treaty of 1703 that bonded Britain to Portugal, ensuring that we Brits were flooded with Portuguese wines for the duration.
Yum Yum factor in wine
We touch on Bruce Jack wines and the ‘Yum Yum’ factor, a translation of what I have previously referred to on this site as one-more-glass syndrome.
Personal mythologies - giving life meaning
The concept of identity is a major part of this interview. Not just Jack’s own identity but the sense of identity that we all have and how that connects us to our own perception of who we are based on what he calls personal mythologies.
South African pandemic crisis
The Jack Journal is certainly a publication that explores values and interests that Jack has on his mind, however, the postponement of its release due to the pandemic gains wider definition with the crisis that engulfed South Africa when locking down the population and shutting down the economy.
Jack discusses how he and his team have pivoted to from winemaking to being aid workers in the Cape region seeking out and helping those people who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ and are most vulnerable to starvation, abuse, or any other impact from privation.
Of course, the Jack Journal is now live and can be read for free online here. The interview below gives some insight into the identity of the inquisitive man who conceived it… so charge the glass and have a listen.
Wine podcasts with a climate and environmental edge
Interesting podcasts with leading figures in the world of wine. Exploring issues like climate change.