melsolo - Burlesque 2022

We are drinking a bottle of Burlesque 2022 from Mélanie Kröber who makes wine under the label melsolo in the south of France.

“Damn label drinker,” I mutter softly towards the mirror. And anyway, the space on the shelf for show-off bottles is already full. But what can you do? The paintings by Christina Prechtl that Mélanie Kröber sticks on the front of her wine bottles just look too good. So the other bottles will have to squeeze a bit closer together. The shelf won’t mind;, the lightweight glass bottle hardly adds any weight. Literally. The back label says 395 grams, and the scale I pulled out out of curiosity even says a few grams less. The label also says that compared to a bottle weighing 580 grams, it saves about 350 grams of carbon dioxide. I’m hooked and start weighing other bottles around. There are some at 520 grams, 640 grams, and the heaviest even tips just over a kilo. No, that’s not a magnum. In that case, the empty bottle weighs almost as much as the full lightweight glass bottle. Absolute madness. For the environment, for the postman, and not least for myself, since I have to carry the stuff up and down the stairs at least twice. So, hooray for the lightweight glass bottle. But the back label says even more. The wine was left on the skins for seven days, so one more orange wine, it was spontaneously fermented and bottled without filtering or added sulfur.

What it doesn’t reveal is that the bottle contains Ondenc, along with a small splash of Petite Manseng. If that doesn’t mean anything to you either: Ondenc is an indigenous grape variety from the south of France, so it’s been there for a long time. Very different from Mélanie Kröber. Born in eastern Germany, she ended up in London after a career in marketing. There she started making cheese, eventually arriving at wine through cheese and the ever-growing natural wine movement. Several international learning stations later, the first vintage from purchased grapes was bottled in 2019 in Gaillac in southern France. Somehow, she became captivated by the old grape varieties and their preservation. This is good because until just now, I had never heard of Mauzac, Braucol, Loin de l’oeil, or Ondenc and I am a big fan of having such things in my glass. In 2021, the opportunity arose to take over a little over 2 hectares of vineyards from the Causse Marines winery and produce wines from her own grapes. So this is only the second vintage from her own vineyards. She farms the vines organically, lets the wines stay on the skins for varying lengths of time to gain texture, and then ages them in fiberglass tanks. And of course, no filtering and no sulfur.

The wine smells much less orange than it looks. There’s tonic grapefruit and a bit of smoke. First floral, then increasingly spicy. Blindfolded, this could easily be a cocktail on the counter of a trendy speak-easy bar. And that’s exactly how the wine drinks too. There’s smoke, a slight citrus fruit, a brief shot of creaminess, and then texture, texture, texture. The idea of recognizing Ondenc on this basis somewhere again I immediately discard. With orange wines, it’s somewhat impossible anyway, and this is still the case even though I would place the mark on the scale from white to orange more towards white for this wine. It doesn’t matter because it’s delicious, exciting, and drinks wonderfully. No one needs any scale for that.

On the second day, it smells as orange as it looks. There’s so much more texture and spice now in the nose, still the smoke, walnut, peach, herbs, and somewhere a few drops of glue. I’m briefly worried about what this will do on the tongue. Completely unfounded, because contrary to all fears, it’s really nice. Hardly any tannin, a bit of Fanta, peach iced tea, and a very strange kind of juiciness. Often, acid does what happens here. It makes your mouth water, pulls the cheeks inward, and you smack your lips quietly. Only, there’s no acid here to find. Maybe it’s the little bit of tannin or the overall texture that has a similar effect. I’m at a loss, but this is already the second wine in a short time that does this. It’s so uncomplicated in the glass, the first sip could really just be lemonade, but then comes the glue note or the grip and reminds you of what you’re drinking. I often say about quite a few skin-fermented white wines that you can put them on the table even for orange wine skeptics. Maybe it ultimately comes down to the fact that I really like to drink exactly those wines myself. Here we definitely have another candidate for that. This is one of those “Oh, the glass is empty again” wines, which you can think about but don’t necessarily have to. You can simply drink it and have a lot of fun in the evening. Or afternoon. Depending on when you start.

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