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I completed the name change of the Company to Same River Twice Wines SAS. All other details, numbers, address are the same. Heliocentric Wines SAS is retired. I aspire to simplicity wherever possible and so it seems simpler to use the name of the wine for the name of the Company. I’ve also got a new email james@samerivertwicewines.com. 

The vines

Harvest finished October 10 for the last ripening Grenache Noir, having started August 17 with the Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains. My partner Laurent has dozens of parcels on around 40 hectares and also looks after vineyards and vinification for other producers so it’s a long stretch for him.  

October started very warm with temperatures in the high 20’s until mid-month and remained in the 20’s all month then turned a bit cooler but still relatively warm with temperatures in the mid-teens through November and even December. It meant the wines were slower to settle down after fermentation and that the vines won’t get a rest until it gets much cooler.

On the other hand we got much needed rain, around 60mm in October, 45mm in November and 40mm in December. Not enough but useful. There were also lashings of wind from time which feel like they’ve become more frequent and stronger albeit not actually menacing – yet.

The wines

2023 is a mixed bag. Until mid August, and despite the drought, the vineyard was thriving with a big, healthy crop which we reduced a bit. Then a heatwave in the second half of August blocked maturity of some vines, particularly the later ripening Grenache noirs. Grapes for the Blancs, Oranges, Rosés came through with plenty of lovely fruit, freshness and purity. I’d eyed up some of this earlier ripening Grenache noir, Cinsault and Syrah for a Chilled Red. So far so good but when I tasted all the reds again in early December I found a combination of slightly rustic, simple and very forward fruit with high degrees of alcohol (around 15%). They’ll be great for some but not for me. So, no Rouge in 2023. 

On the other hand, we made our first sans soufre and certified organic Orange wine. It’s another result of previous years’ trial and error, something we tried and now feel confident to bottle. It’s from 100% Rolle because it was this small parcel which lent itself to the project; and only 6,000 bottles because that was the maximum we felt we could master to ensure stability. I’m bottling it this January 10 in a green bottle for added protection and with a variation on my regular label to signify “natural” (a half moon). I’m really happy with the wine, in particular the structure and outstanding length.

I’m also bottling the Chilled Red on January 10. It’s ready to go. It’s part direct-pressed, part maceration, around 70/30 in proportion, from Grenache noir, Cinsault and Syrah. It looks pale red, feels light and lithe at 13%, with gentle tannins and fresh and lively red berry fruit. It’s also certified organic and I’ll put it in a clear bottle to distinguish it from the regular Rouge. The label says “Chilled Red”.

Blanc and regular Orange 2023 are looking great and I’ll bottle them early March.

Press

I got my first press reviews which exceeded expectation. UK-based Jamie Goode and Tamlyn Currin from JancisRobinson.com both gave glowing reviews and there was even better to come. 

Jamie featured the Orange 2022 on his daily Instagram “vlog” on October 9 and wrote “an interesting series of characterful wines of which this, the orange wine, is the most distinctive”. His audio is a good listen; “the whole range is quite impressive”. I’ll interpret that “quite” in the British sense of “really quite…”!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CyKyNpxqAGN/

Tamlyn Currin wrote on 19 November about all six currently available wines. Her highest note went to the Rouge 2021, 17/20, “This is, quite simply, delicious! It’s complete….; the fruit fills to the brim; the tannins dance; the acidity is precise but curved. It’s fresh. It’s elegant. It’s quiet, understated, kind.” The Blanc 2022 was 16.5, “… everything comes together in a delicious, acidity-carried white-pepper-dusty finish. Really good!”. The Rouge 2020 was also 16.5, “a charming wine with graphite minerality and ripe, gently poached, dark-red fruit. A little twist of pepper on the finish. Like the 2021, understated and elegant.” The Rosé 2022 was 16, “Very pretty”. Only the Rosé 2021, 15, seemed to underwhelm. And whereas I love the cool, vegetal acidity and quiet fruit, Tamlyn found a different character of acidity: “A cheerful rosé with friendly but sour acidity and simple fruit.”

https://www.jancisrobinson.com/tastings/277751 (Paywalled). See my website samerivertwicewines.com for the full complement of notes.

And then, to my astonishment and unbeknownst to me, that most elegant and intellectually challenging of wine magazines The World of Fine Wine contacted me to say the Orange 2022 had placed Top 5 in their tasting of 31 Orange wines from around the world, their first such ever tasting of Orange wines. A big thanks to my British importer for throwing our hat into the ring. I don’t think my Orange is anywhere close to the likes of Gravner’s sublime Ribolla; and it was my first commercial release (following two years trial and error, and many years drinking Orange). But I’m happy to see that my goal of making an Orange that’s both delicious and expresses terroir wasn’t lost on the tasters. The whole piece is a great read; see the tasting notes below. 

(AK is Anne Krebiehl MW. FP is Francis Percival. DW is David Williams.)

See: https://worldoffinewine.com/tasting-notes/skin-contact-white-wines-orang

Same River Twice Vin de France Rhône France 2022 (12.5% ABV) | 92

AK | Golden richness in the glass segues to an almost golden-apricot and peach glow on the nose. Hints of fresh Navel orange and juicy satsuma flesh make this even more enticing. The palate retains this attractive, citric juiciness and enfolds it in a fine web of tannin that adds a lovely dimension to the light, bone-dry body of the wine, ending in a slight almond-skin bitterness. The finish is a lasting note of fine lemon and bitter pith, absolutely mouthwatering and totally versatile. Delicious and so balanced. | 92

FP | Rich deep gold. Sophisticated. This is a very different take on maceration: green raisins and orchard fruit give an autumnal character; there is even a touch of cinnamon. Green apple acidity coheres well with the whole, while the tannic structure takes a back seat. An amiable wine with plenty of charm. | 93

DW | Rich amber-gold color, just leaning into “orange.” Attractive, typically orchard-fruited traditional white Rhône nose; the palate is sumptuously peach-apricotty, the atmosphere drowsy and late-summer garden fragrant, the extended maceration apparent only in the very subtle streak of bitterness that lends contrast to the finish and in the very modest sprinkling of tannin. Fruit-filled finish. | 92

And then there’s music! 

The food of love? In any case, it’s my other essential component to a rich life with loved ones and great food and wine. It was a fantastic year for new music. And I spend as much time with old music; these are fantastic times for discovering and re-discovering music from, in particular, the 1960’s and 1970’s. The end of the year in particular threw up lots of great new music. The following list is a digest of the year. Some earlier favourites didn’t stand the test of even a short time frame; the below did. And, for what it’s worth, these are just my favourites, listened to over and over, and not in any way meant to be a “Best of”. For some comments on selection and the audio, scroll to end. Lists in no particular order and genre in brackets is loose.

Favourite albums of 2023 – New releases

* Lankum – False Lankum (Folk Rock)

* Blur – Best of Darren (Pop)

* Native Harrow – Old Kind of Magic (Country Pop)

* James Yorkston – The Great White Sea Eagle (Pop Folk)

* Gabriels – Angels and Queens (Deluxe) (Soul)

* Sunny War – Anarchist Gospel (Soul Gospel)

* Willie Nelson – I Don’t Know a Thing about Love (Country)

* Jonathan Bockelman – Childish Mind (Jazz)

* Eric Bibb – Ridin’ (Rhythm’n’Blues’n’Gospel)

* Depeche Mode – Memento Mori (Pop)

* Everything But The Girl – Fuse (Pop)

* Eddie Chacon – Sundown (Electro Soul)

* John Foxx – The Arcades Project (Ambient)

* The Vampires – Nightjar (Jazz)

* Brandee Younger – Brand New Life (Soul Jazz)

* The Coral – Sea of Mirrors (Pop)

* Freya Ridings – Blood Orange (Pop)

* Nabihah Iqbal – Dreamer (Club pop)

* Eloise – Drunk on a Flight (Pop)

* Janelle Monae – The Age of Pleasure (Soul)

* Corinne Bailey Rae – Black Rainbows (Punk soul)

* Anna St Louis – In The Air (Acoustic pop)

* Bobby Bazini – Pearl (Jazz pop)

* Jalen Nagonda – Come Around and Love Me (Soul)

* Matthew Halsall – An Ever Changing View (Jazz / contemporary)

* Greg Foat – Dolphin (Ambient Jazz / contemporary)

* The Rolling Stones – Hackney Diamonds (Rock)

* Robert Finley – Black Bayou (Blues Soul)

* Say She She – Silver (Soul Disco)

* Jessi Colter – Edge of Forever (Country Rock)

* Catrin Finch, Aoife Ni Brian – Double You (Classical contemporary)

* Edgar Jones – Reflections of a Soul Dimension (Northern Soul)

* Betty Benedeadly, Braden Guess – At the Institute of Mentalphysics. (Cowboy contemporary)

* Sofia Kourtesis – Madres (Club dance)

* The Lemon Twigs – Everything Harmony (Pop)

* Kara Jackson – Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love (Folk Soul)

* Paramore – This is Why (Rock Pop)

* Kelela – Raven (Electronic Soul)

* Cleo Sol – Gold (Soul)

* Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good! (Disco)

* Kali Urchis – Red Moon in Venus (Soul)

* Meg Baird – Furling (Country Folk Rock)

* Tyshawn Sorey Trio – Continuing (Jazz)

* Yussef Dayes – Black Classical Music (Jazz)

* Vikingur Olafsson – Bach: Goldberg Variations (Classical)

* Trevor Pinnock – Bach: Partitas (Classical)

* Albrecht Mayer – Bach Generations (Classical)

* Stile Antico – The Golden Renaissance: William Byrd (Classical)

Favourite albums of 2023 – Back catalogue

* Neil Young – Chrome Dreams

* Lindisfarne – Nicely Out of Tune

* Black Heat – Black Heat

* Johnny Hammond – Gears

* Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me

* Solomon Burke – The King of Rock’n’Soul

* The 24-Carat Black – Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth

* Jerry Lee Lewis – Country Memories

* McNeal & Niles – Thrust

* Ike & Tina Turner – Feel Good

* Rita Lee – Rita Lee

* Otis Redding – Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul

* Otis Redding – Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul

* Joe Gibbs, the Professionals – African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 3

* The South Side Movement – The South Side Movement

* The Rhythm Makers – Soul on Your Side

* Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

* War – The World is a Ghetto

* The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You

* VA – Wanted Soul: From Diggers to Music Lovers

* Kenny Durham – Quiet Kenny

* Pep Laguarda & Tapineria – Brossa d’Ahir

* Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger

* Hank Mobley – Soul Station

* The Band – Music from Big Pink

* The Band – Northern Lights-Southern Cross

* Can – Future Days

* Dorothy Ashby – Afro-Harping

* Tommy Chase – Groove Merchant

* Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On

* Betty Layette – I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise

* Kenny Drew – Undercurrent

* Joe Henderson – Page One

* Lee Morgan – Search for The New Land

* John & Beverly Martin – The Road to Ruin

* Tony Joe White – The Heroines

* Claudia Lennear – Phew

* Parcels – Day/Night

Input

I’ve listened to hundreds of new albums. I read the reviews quite studiously, in particular in the British music monthly Mojo, plus The Guardian and Daily Telegraph newspapers, on AllMusic.com, and less often Pitchfork, NME and The Quietus;  I listen to friends’ recommendations and look at Tidal’s own “More Albums by…”, “Related Albums” and “Related Artists”.

Output

Tidal is my Streamer of choice. 10 € a month for standard or 20 € for Max Res (up to 24-bit, 192 KHz; which is HiRes Free Lossless Audio Codec (or HiRes FLAC)). I choose Tidal because it pays the artist more royalty than Spotify or Apple and because I prefer the interface to those of competitors plus there’s less AI created sounds pushed my way than, in particular, Spotify; in any case I have auto-play turned off and choose to listen to whole albums rather than moods or Streamer selected playlists. My audiophile friend Mike reckons Qobuz sounds even better but I reckon you probably need his system to tell the difference! 

I’m listening on a Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 Streaming Amp with Dali Rubicon 2 speakers, both Made in Denmark, connected by British Audioquest Rocket 44 cables (Full-range, Banana, Silver).

Happy New Year! With best wishes for 2024 and look forward to seeing you!

The World of Fine Wine magazine published a tasting of Orange wines in November 2023.

“David Williams is joined by Anne Krebiehl MW and Francis Percival for a stimulating tasting of the fashionable but still divisive category known variously as amber, orange, or skin-contact white wine, featuring wines of multiple hues and origins made from macerated white grapes.

For scores and detailed notes on all 31 wines included in the tasting, subscribe to The World of Fine Wine.”

“The best are thrilling, gastronomic, individualistic wines, utterly original in flavor and texture. And while they are made from very different varieties and maceration regimens, in very different places, together they show, as Anne Krebiehl MW puts it so nicely, “how much creative and expressive scope there is, and how much of what is otherwise often discarded holds both flavor and grip.”

Same River Twice Vin de France Rhône France 2022 (12.5% ABV) | 92

AK | Golden richness in the glass segues to an almost golden-apricot and peach glow on the nose. Hints of fresh Navel orange and juicy satsuma flesh make this even more enticing. The palate retains this attractive, citric juiciness and enfolds it in a fine web of tannin that adds a lovely dimension to the light, bone-dry body of the wine, ending in a slight almond-skin bitterness. The finish is a lasting note of fine lemon and bitter pith, absolutely mouthwatering and totally versatile. Delicious and so balanced. | 92

FP | Rich deep gold. Sophisticated. This is a very different take on maceration: green raisins and orchard fruit give an autumnal character; there is even a touch of cinnamon. Green apple acidity coheres well with the whole, while the tannic structure takes a back seat. An amiable wine with plenty of charm. | 93

DW | Rich amber-gold color, just leaning into “orange.” Attractive, typically orchard-fruited traditional white Rhône nose; the palate is sumptuously peach-apricotty, the atmosphere drowsy and late-summer garden fragrant, the extended maceration apparent only in the very subtle streak of bitterness that lends contrast to the finish and in the very modest sprinkling of tannin. Fruit-filled finish. | 92

As I write, our harvest finished a week ago on October 12. First impressions are that it’s the kind of year I love: unpretentious, neither easy nor especially challenging, but just enough to ask questions of us and stamp its character. It’s clearly not particularly concentrated, but there’s plenty of straightforward, clear fruit, with good balancing acidity. Time will tell.

On September 16 we brought in a very small quantity of certified organic Rolle (Vermentino) that was just perfect for a new wine, which I’ve wanted to try for a while, an Orange made without added sulfites or anything else added, or taken. The malo has completed, I’m going to leave it to settle where it fermented, in enamel tank, and bottle it in January.

In the vines

It’s the end to yet another season defined by drought but that ended well despite a couple of tricky heatwaves.

To date we’ve had around 280mm of rain this year. Our historical average is 750mm. Wd can only hope that the deficit is made up in the remaining months of the year and early next. The drought shows up everywhere, from curling, dried-out brown leaves on vines everywhere (ours not so much), on public green spaces now dusty brown spaces, on roadside trees browning and declining.

Last year’s rainfall in November and December, 350mm in total, appears to have bailed us out this harvest.

On the other hand, we didn’t get the sustained summer heat that our Mediterranean neighbours in Spain, Italy and Greece suffered.

Summer temperatures were a comfortable 28 to 32º with nights reasonably fresh. However a heat spike from August 7 to 24 saw daytime temperatures exceed 34ºC for 14 days and reach 37-39º on August 10 and 11. This blocked maturity. And caused some perspiration while harvesting early-ripening Muscat. Somehow the fruit made it through not least due to 20mm of rain on August 24 when temperatures also dropped by 10ºC.

We benefitted from 50mm rainfall spread out over 4 days in September, just right for juicing up the fruit, without negative impact on the harvest.

Otherwise, we enjoyed an Indian summer with daytime temperatures 25 to 28ºC and nighttime 12-14ºC for most of September (and into October to date), perfect for ambient temperatures in the cellar.

The wines

I’ve got a bit left of earlier vintages Rosé 2021 and Rouge 2020. They keep on giving. I love the juicy minerality of the Rosé and how the Rouge has developed a thread of more vegetal fruit and firmed up.

The Orange 2022 has been even more popular than expected. Dr Jamie Goode gave it a great video review on Instagram here (I think) on October 9, with very positive words for the whole of the range. Thanks Dr Jamie! By the way, his new book The New Viticulture well worth a read.

I’ve just started selling the Blanc 2022 which has benefitted from nearly 6 months in bottle. It’s super fresh and lively with that dash of Rolle lending spice and zip to the Clairette and Grenache Blanc.

Apart from the new Bio Orange sans sulfites, I’m working on a certified organic “chilled red” style – more on that next time – and the usual range: Blanc, Orange, Rosé, Rouge.

Music

Another vintage quarter! There were some great releases and re-releases. Mojo magazine continues to do the best job at rounding them all up every month. Following are the albums I’ve kept coming back to.

New music

Blur: The Ballad of Darren. A surprise release because I’d thought the members were all happy doing their own thing. Great craft and bandsmanship. Some of the music is languid and gorgeously melancholic, some of it sounds like a Bowie outtake from Scary Monsters, some joyous electro-pop. More a Saturday morning type of album than a Friday night.

Gabriels: Angels and Queens. Fantastic blend of classic, timeless funk soul, with gospel, disco and rock influences, brilliant production, tons of hooks. LA-based. Definitely one for Friday night.

William J Healey: Bunny. A Brit updates a late 70’s soul and funk vibe with a touch of George Harrison thrown in. Anytime over the weekend!

The Coral: Sea of Mirrors. Another fine Brit effort, gentle, melodic pop with a marvellous cinematic / western vibe.

Freya Ridings: Blood Orange. Pure dance pop with great hooks. Insanely catchy. Definitely for Friday and Saturday night.

Eloise: Drunk on a Flight. Antidote to the high energy of Freya Ridings, Eloise sings intimate vignettes with an electro soul bossa feel.

Old Music

Pep Laguarda & Tapineria: Brossa d’ahir (1977). Appears to have been a one-off by Catalan duo inspired by Brazilian Caetano Veloso’s chilled out MPB of the same era and recorded in and suiting to the Ibiza Formentera vibe perfectly. This is for Sunday morning…

Neil Young: Chrome Dreams (recorded 1974-77, released 2023). Though never a huge Neil Young fan (there’s so much to digest), it’s amazing that such strong songs as these could remain unreleased from such a huge artist. Here are gorgeous hypnotic ballads and gripping rock-out squalls. The production values are uneven due to multiple recording dates and venues but doesn’t detract.

The Band: Northern Lights-Southern Cross (1975) and Music from Big Pink (1968). Songwriter Robbie Robertson died which led me to explore their music for the first time in my life. These two albums are standouts. Classic. Soulful, country southern rock – albeit by a nucleus of Canadians.

Can: Future Days (1973). Quite unclassifiable. Ambient? Techno? Krautrock? Jazz? Very slinky and hypnotic.

Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harping (1968). Among the many jazz gems re-discovered was this unusual soul-jazz album by harpist Ashby. She turned up most famously on If It’s Magic on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.

Bettye LaVette: I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise (2005). So many fine albums by this veteran soul singer, native of Michigan, totally overlooked during her youth in the 1960’s and 70’s now enjoying a renaissance in her 70’s. She keeps it gritty and stripped down and contemporary all at once. Her latest is helmed by now Rolling Stones drummer Steve Jordan.

In the vines

It was a relatively cool, damp and overcast start to the growing season which put immediate disease pressure on the vines. The rain was welcome after the dry winter but the disease pressure wasn’t so welcome plus the mix of rain and some warmth added to a lot of work in the vineyard to manage rampant growth. Somehow we mostly resisted mildew with well-timed treatments albeit more than planned, having decided to carry out only sulfur/copper treatments this year.

April started cool and overcast with temperatures around 16 to 20º, finishing 21 to 25ºC. But only 10 days were truly sunny. There was a modest but welcome 17mm rainfall. The mistral blew hard for around 5 days and it was gusty most of the month.

May saw more rain and sunshine. Around 20 days were normally sunny, with temperatures starting around 22 to 25º and finishing 25 to 30º. But there was 125mm rainfall, above average and not the best timing but much needed, unusually stormy at the end of month.

June continued in similar vein, with 22 days sunshine, temperatures between 27 and 32º, and with 85mm rainfall, again not the best timing but welcome. It was again windy.

The wines

In the cellar, I bottled 3 wines this quarter. On April 19 I bottled Blanc and Rosé 2022. On May 9 I bottled Rouge 2021.

Blanc 2022: It’s my first year to bottle a whitefrom the same vineyard as the red. I wanted to make a white that has the same easy enjoyment as the red with the same unusual freshness and tension and sappy vegetal fruit. I haven’t always been a fan of Southern Rhône white and wanted to avoid the heaviness often found in whites here.

I made some test bottles of 2021 from the same vineyard as the red, a 50-50 blend of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, and more than a year on, it’s a pleasure and still very fresh..

Moreover, since I’d already bottled an Orange this year I wasn’t sure if I’d want to make a second wine from white grapes. But the quality was too good to ignore and the wine has a totally different aromatic palette from the Orange. It’s a classic blend of Grenache blanc and Clairette to which I’ve added 30% Rolle to give it some “edge”, a more salty vegetal character. It’s fresh, tense, fruity and only 12,5%. It’s available now but will benefit from waiting until September.

Rosé 2022: it’s the same blend as last year: 55% Cinsault and 45% Grenache Noir, with a long slow pressing to extract a bit more colour, a bit more red fruit, a bit more wine! It, too, is just 12,5%, fully ripe and fruity, more extrovert and fruity than the 2021 which reflects the warmth of the year.

What I’ve noticed with both wines is that they really improve with at least 3 months in the bottle. So while many producers are getting their whites and Rosés into the market within the year, I prefer to listen to the wine and wait. We’re drinking bucketloads of Rosé 2021 this summer and it’s just right and will probably continue to do so for the rest of this year and next.

Rouge 2021: it was a paradoxical year for reds, less warm than 2019, 2020 and 2022. 2021’s took forever to reveal themselves and I did more blending sessions than ever to get where I wanted to go. Following which the wine needed a long time in tank to settle and soften and integrate the structure. And then magic happened and the wine found its voice, as I was hoping, and it resembles a cross between the 2018 and 2020. There remain a couple of thousand bottles of 2020 so I expect to move on to 2021 in October.

Music

There was more old music playing this quarter than new. I continue to use the Tidal streaming service (compared to Spotify it’s a cleaner interface, with more artist and album information, plus the artists see a bit more revenue, and there’s much less AI-generated, auto-sequenced stuff – or none if you listen to albums and turn off autoplay).

New music

Everything But The Girl: Fuse. I’ve loved them and most of their adventures since Eden in 1984. The new album is a bit brief clocking in at just 35 minutes but is richly textured electronica, equal part dance and reflection.

Eddie Chacon: Sundown. Another brief album of soul electronica, more evenly upbeat than EBTG, the title is perfectly apt; Rosé on the terrace.

John Foxx: The Arcades Project. Crystalline piano-driven ambient. Perfect for morning zen moments with green tea and scoping out the day.

Esther Rose: Safe to Run. Girl with acoustic guitar delivers laid back country charm with poppy hooks.

The Vampires: Nightjar. Hypnotic, pure, relaxed, modern jazz that transports, beautifully played and produced.

Bobby Lee: Endless Skyways. 70’s sounding fuzztone electric guitar, western cinematic soundscapes.

The Avalanches: We Will Always Love You. From 2020 but recently discovered, perhaps most played album recently, sounding like a 2020’s update of classic 70’s concept album by 24 Carat Black, spatial soul with tons of samples and hooks. Joyous.

Old music

Rita Lee: Rita Lee (1980). Brazilan pop with brilliant, shiny, melodic hooks, tightly produced. She made dozens of great albums. A summer breeze.

Joe Gibbs, The Professionals: African Dub Chapter 3 (1978). Made for a Soundsystem this is huge Dub with tons of effects and totally modern-sounding.

McNeal and Niles: Thrust (1979). Languid jazz funk with hints of latin, washes of Rhodes keyboard, synth rich bass and waves of grooves.

Ike and Tina Turner: Feel Good (1972). Tina in sublime funky form dominates this album. Sleazy, relentless grooves. As good as it gets from an extraordinary artist.

The Southside Movement: The Southside Movement (1973). Funky soul from Chicago, upbeat, passionate, typical of the gems being unearthed today that didn’t get any traction at the time of making.

The Rhythm Makers: Soul On Your Side (1976). Another funk gem that veers a bit more into disco territory.

Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy (1973). We had the good fortune recently to be in a studio environment with some of the best professional audio equipment in the world. This sounded incredible. In particular the opener and No Quarter. Still sounds great in the car.

And that’s all for now. Happy drinking! Happy listening if it’s your thing!

Wishing you a wonderful summer.

In the vines

January started warm with min-max temperatures 8-16ºC for 10 days. Then it got cold for the rest of the month with sub-zero lows to highs of 9ºC for 10 days. 20 out of 30 days were sunny. The mistral blew hard for around 10 days. Unfortunately there was just around 10mm of rain in the whole month.

February saw temperatures from around 2ºC to 12ºC in the first half then became a little bit warmer for the rest of the month. 20 out of 30 days were sunny. There was less than 5mm rain. And the mistral blew hard for around for the first few days of the month and for a couple of days end of the month.

March was again dry. Again less than 10mm. It starts to get worrying. It started cold in the 3º to 12º range for a week but soon we had temperatures from 6-8ºC first thing to 17-20º in the afternoon. 26 out of 31 days were fully or mostly sunny. The mistral blew again hard for a few days mid and end of the month.

The wines

I retired the company name Heliocentric Wines from everyday public use. I figure that Same River Twice is the name by which the wine is known and that’s enough for our public profile. I keep the company name for administration. I made a nice new logo to go with “Same River Twice Wines” and changed the website URL to https://samerivertwicewines.com. The logo is also on the new corks (more on corks below). The boxes carry the label design as they’ve always done. This year I’ve also been able to get the boxes I had for the first vintage which had become impossible to obtain during covid. Many thanks to both my graphic designer Ben Davidson of Cadence + Tone in London and web designer Oli Smith of Smiths.Studio in Frome, both multi-disciplinary artists.

I updated my labels very lightly to reflect the changes: they carry the new website URL and minimise the company name.

Henceforth I’m closing all bottles with Diam Origine 5 corks. I’ve chosen Diam because they’re both more sustainable and better for the wine which will reach customers in the best possible condition. My previous cork was a simple agglomerate, which was a good starting point and did the job but I think Diam is a worthwhile upgrade. Many thanks to David Harvey of Raeburn Fine Wines in UK for the recommendation and copious research he kindly shared (also on the subject of capsules).

I also decided to dispense with the capsule since it’s basically rubbish / carbon emission. Once upon a time a capsule helped to keep a wine clean but we live in different conditions today. I used to think a capsule was a nice traditional finish. But the times we live in call into question such traditions. I did put capsules on a few bottles for a couple of markets where required by law.

I prepared and bottled my first Orange wine, 2022. It’s turned out great, with “orange” aromatics, some very gentle tannins but plenty of juicy freshness to balance. I think I hit the sweet spot in terms of time on skins at three weeks – at any rate for this blend.

I’m preparing to bottle my Blanc 2022 this month for release in May. It’s totally different from the Orange, a blast of fresh, salty, mineral yellow and citrus fruit, representing the grapes and the place; being equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Rolle.

I’m also preparing to bottle my Rosé 2022 at the same time. However, while the Blanc and Orange seem to drink well straight after bottling, I find the Rosé needs time in bottle to develop so I’ll keep it a few months before release and while finishing the 2021 which has gained much in bottle.

Finally, I’ll bottle my Rouge 2021 in May. It’s a story for next time, suffice to say it needed a lot of work but now looks great, a worthy follow up to the 2018 and 2020.

I love to share and talk about music as much wine and food so here’s the new music that’s grabbed and held my attention the last few months. Feel free to skip! I love to use the Tidal streaming service.

James Yorkston: The Great White Sea Eagle. Elegant folk rock, wistful, emotive, warm, engaging.

Native Harrow: Old Kind of Magic. Glorious west coast pop with an English folk twist – or the other way round.

CVC: Get Real. Stands for Church Village Collective. From Wales. Comprises a Bassey (as in Shirley) and a Bradfield (as in Manic SP) and together they’re channelling west coast rock with a bit of Steely Dan. Invigorating.

Samantha Cain: A Small Death. Folk country gets under your skin with ethereal melodies.

Stile Antico: The Golden Renaissance: William Byrd. Choral masterpiece from great English, and Catholic, composer, 1540-1623.

Sunny War: Anarchist Gospel. Bluesy, swinging and melodic pop with rich textures. Sometimes sounds like Joan Armatrading or Tracey Thorn. Gets under your skin.

John Cale: Mercy. A stately chill-out album that sounds like it came from any era from the last forty years, safe for the state of art production values. From former Velvet Underground man. Glad he didn’t retire.

The Lathums: From Nothing To a Little Bit More. Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more great British Pop along comes this young band from Wigan brimming with jangly hooks and a big euphoric sound.

Lankum: False Lankum. Folk rock based on Irish traditional but it never sounded anything like this before: dark and ominous and gripping with huge textures, sounding both ancient and totally contemporary.

Willie Nelson: I Don’t Know a Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard. Another old guy who just doesn’t know when to retire and keeps making great music. Fortunately. This is a breeze.