Home > Fair, Poor, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > A Common Thread: No Sulphur

A Common Thread: No Sulphur


I am used to coming across under-performing or flawed bottles of wine.  Most of the time these were immediately detectable by the nose alone.  At one point I believe I experienced an average of 7% flawed bottles.  However, I was confident in my palate so I routinely returned these bottles, as the folks at MacArthur Beverages may attest to.   As I drink more wines sealed with alternative closures I seem to come across less flawed wines.  But lately I have started coming across a different set of flaws which manifests itself in a similar manner regardless of varietal or region.  These wines have a good nose but in the mouth the flavors are often bright red, very dry, full of powerful tannins, and a strong yeasty/Pilsner flavor.  They are, in short, flawed and undrinkable.

Three examples from last month include the Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru 4 (I wrote about it earlier here), the 2010 Domaine de Gimios, Rouge Fruit, and the 2011 Natalino Del Prete, Nataly.  The common thread is that these natural wines are all made without the use of sulphur dioxide.   The yeasty/Pilsner flavor I tend to attribute towards fermentation with indigenous yeast and I do not mind it to some degree such as in the 2010 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg, Riesling Quarzit or the 2011 Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco.  But when the wine so strongly reminds me of beer and combined with the other  issues, I am completely put off.  I do not know what causes these problems. The Frank Cornelissen was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the Domaine de Gimios and Natalino Del Prete were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.  These are both reputable stores so if it is a storage issue I doubt it occured at the store.

At first I thought I simply did not understand a certain style of natural wine, that they were meant to taste like that.  Now I believe I am experiencing the flaws of non-sulphured wines.   Alternative closures were created in light of the flaws attributed from cork.  If sulphur use may prevent this type of flaw then why are these flaw tolerated?  How many people try a flawed bottle of non-sulphured wine and think it is meant to be like that?  For a brief but interesting comment check out the final paragraph in Mike Steinberger’s post from one week ago.

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Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru 4, Dry Rose, Etna – $26
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  Produced from the free-run juice of various indigenous varietals.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Rather cloudy in the glass which is not surprising given the clumps in the bottle.  Beautifully texture, aromatic nose is very enticing.  Then in the mouth it started with pure tart, thin, dry flavors.  Very tart at first but after an hour or two the flavors were of pure, dry, grapefruit juice followed by a yeasty Pilsner finish.  Strange disconnect between the nose and mouth.  Poor.

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2009 Le Petite Domaine de Gimios, Rouge Fruit, VdT – $23
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is a blend of Cinsault, Alicante, Grenache, Carignan, Aramon, and Muscat sourced from a 1 hectare plot (which is planted with 16 different varietals).  Biodynamic and no sulphur dioxide is used.  Demeter certified.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was light to medium in strength with red fruit, cooked green veggies, and black tea.  In the mouth the wine starts with scented red flavors which were very dry then yeasty, Pilsner flavors.  There were very fine, drying tannins which stuck to the gums.  With air the yeasty, Pilsner flavor started very early on and lasted through the long aftertaste.  Poor.

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2011 Azienda Agricola Biologica Natalino Del Prete, Nataly, Primitivo, Salento IGT – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Primitivo sourced from 80+ year old vines from almost 7 hectares of vineyards.  Certified organic with no use of chemicals, pesticides, and sulphur.  Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a medium grapey ruby.  The medium strength nose was very lifted with aromas of red candy, perfumed, and powdery texture.  In the mouth the flavors followed the nose with tart, tangy red fruit which was dry.  The wine than became very dry with powerful tannins which coated the mouth along with some salivating acidity.  Then a yeasty, Pilsner and dark red fruit aftertaste. * Now-2018.

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