Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

The return of a favourite

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Emilia Rosso 2015, Trebbiolo, La Stoppa ($24.85, 11896501)
A blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) from organically farmed vines ranging up to 25 years old. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured five months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined. A small squirt of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Black raspberry candy, plum, earth, cedar sawdust, leather, slate and a whiff of distant barnyard. Medium-bodied. An almost imperceptible spritziness is apparent after a bite of something acidic. The ripe fruit seems sweet on entry, an impression soon shredded by the trenchant acidity, light but drying tannins and savoury flavours. Spice, dried herbs and minerals colour the mildly astringent finish. Perhaps a tad lighter and less rustic than the classic 2014 but still authentic, food-friendly* and fun. (Buy again? Yep.)

*As I said about the 2014: “Virtually begs for casual fare – think pizza, sausages, grilled pork – and can handle tomato with aplomb. Just don’t serve it too warm.” My bottle made a perfect pairing for cubed pork shoulder browned in olive oil and stewed with a whack of smothered onions, garlic, dried chile, white wine and San Marzano tomatoes, with cooked black-eyed peas added for the last half hour of simmering.

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Written by carswell

October 20, 2017 at 11:42

Champagne naturally

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Champagne, Fidèle, Vouette et Sorbée ($87.47, private import, 6 bottles/case)
This is nearly all 2014 except for a dollop (about 5%) of reserve wine from a solera-type system started in 2001. A blanc de noirs: 100% Pinot Noir from 30-year-old biodynamically farmed vines from several parcels but all rooted in Kimmeridgian marl. The manually harvested grapes are gently pressed. The free-run juice is transferred to 400-litre oak casks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Indigenous yeasts are used for primary and secondary fermentation. Matured 10 months in used Meursault barrels. The bottled wine is aged on its lees on lattes and riddled on racks for around 15 months. No dosage. Sulphur dioxide is added to the incoming grapes but not at bottling. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
A white wine but with a rosé cast. Intriguing nose of distant strawberry, fired minerals and “garlic brioche.” Fine, non-aggressive bubbles, pure fruit, silky acidity and an unmissable mineral depth. Long flavourful finish with lingering rhubarb crème brûlée. Absolutely not an aperitif wine, rather one to open ahead of time, maybe even carafe, and drink with food. (Buy again? Yes.)

Champagne, Extra Brut, Blanc d’Argile, Vouette et Sorbée ($114.58, private import, 3 bottles/case)
A blanc de blancs: 100% Chardonnay from biodyanmically farmed vines planted in 2000 in a single plot. The vines – massale cuttings from Jacques Sélosse and Vincent Dauvissat – were planted “wild” (directly in the unprepared clay and Kimmeridgian limestone soil). Manually harvested. Fermented and sparkled with indigenous yeasts. The still wine is matured 18 months on the lees in oak casks. Undosed. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Dried apple, yeast, icing sugar and a faint, nougaty oxidative note. Fine, caressing bubbles. Smooth, caressing acidity. Browning apple upfront, apple Danish and salty seashells on finish. Still a baby. Clean, tonic and bracing, this cuvée lives up to its reputation of being a Chablis with bubbles. As a group, champagne is arguably the most overpriced wine in the world; that said, this delivers exceptional if relative QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)

The first time I tasted them, Vouette et Sorbée’s champagnes did not impress. Subsequent encounters, which have mostly involved bottles laid down a few years, have been much more positive and I now rank the house among my favourite producers.

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 9 of 9

The Dovecote and the Boar

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Rosso Toscano 2010, Colombaia ($36.73, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The estate’s name translates as dovecote. This is a blend of Sangiovese (80%), Malvasia Nera (10%), Colorino (5%) and Canaiolo (5%) from biodynamically farmed 40-year-old vines planted in fossil-rich clay soil. Manually harvested. Macerated on the skins and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete tanks. Matured 18 months in 26-hectolitre Slavonian oak botti. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny dose of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.

Initially odd nose (“a weird mix of bubblegum and asphalt”) that eventually settled down into a classic bouquet of cherry, black cherry, tar, leather, “rose,” ink, beet and sawed wood. Medium-bodied and fluid in the mouth. The ripe fruit floats on a steady stream of smooth acidity while the supple, resolving tannins have enough torque to give some grain to the otherwise silky texture. A faint rumbling of minerals is joined by incipient tertiary notes on the long finish. Well balanced, true to the grape, speaking of its place and probably at or near peak. Roasted boar, anyone? (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 8 of 9

Written by carswell

October 18, 2017 at 11:55

Bonhomme seul

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A former apprentice at Clos du Tue-Bœuf, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme ran a négociant business with his friend, Tue-Bœuf’s Thierry Puzzelat. In 2014, following the retirement of his brother Jean-Marie, Thierry began devoting himself full time to Tue-Bœuf and sold all his shares in the négoce to Pierre-Olivier. The wines are now labelled with only Bonhomme’s name. All the grapes are from vines owned by friends; Pierre-Olivier either purchases the grapes outright or rents the vineyards. The farming is organic but uncertified as such.

Touraine 2015, La Tesnière, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (ca. $31, private import, NLA)
Menu Pinot (aka Arbois, 80%) and Chenin Blanc (20%) from co-planted vines grown in flinty clay over hard limestone near the hamlet of La Tesnière. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 228- and 500-litre vats. Matured 12 months in barrel. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Pear, apple, beeswax and powdered ginger on the effusive nose. Complex and layered in the mouth. The rich fruit and mineral substrate are brilliantly illuminated by fluent acidity. The silky texture lasts well into the long finish with its lingering hints of vanilla caramel. A delicious, complete wine that Steve declares “the best ever.” (Buy again? Yes.)

Touraine 2014, KO, In Côt We Trust, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (ca. $27, private import, NLA)
Côt (aka Malbec) and nothing but. Manually harvested. Fermented on the stems with indigenous yeasts. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Intriguing nose of dark fruit, “wet clay,” “withered flowers” (including rose), ink and “raw doner.” Light- to medium-bodied yet surprisingly intense. A swirl of forest berries, dark minerals and fleet acidity overtoned with spice and leafmould. The long, tart, earthy finish has you craving another sip. The quaffability quotient is dangerously high. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

October 17, 2017 at 14:28

Fun

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Québec 2016, Bonbonbulles, Les Pervenches (ca. $21)
This pet-nat (ancestral method sparkler) is a blend of Zweigelt, Frontenac and Chardonnay from organically farmed vines. 10.5% ABV. During its short window of availability, it could be purchased at the winery, at a few area food stores specializing in local products (e.g. Dans la côte, Fromagerie Hamel) and through the Quebec agent, La QV.

Slightly hazy strawberry pink. Wafting nose of straw, cherry, cranberry, “hibiscus kambucha,” hints of yeast and lees and a whiff of volatile acidity. Light and dry in the mouth, with fine, persistent bubbles, zingy acidity and ethereal fruit. The leesy kambucha note lasts into the sweet-tart finish. Fun and refreshing. Jambon de Bayonne really brings out the fruit. (Buy again? Def.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 6 of 9

Written by carswell

October 12, 2017 at 13:15

Bairrada and Burgundy

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Bairrada 2015, Maria da Graça, Tiago Teles ($28.04, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Alfrocheiro from 15- to 30-year-old vines rooted in clay-limestone soil in a cool-climate vineyard. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in open concrete vats. Matured six months in stainless steel tanks. Minimal sulphur dioxide at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Interesting, savoury nose of “smoke,” slate, blackberry, plum, licorice and a hint of rubber. Medium-bodied, dry and savoury but also astoundingly fresh and fluid. The sweet-ripe fruit joined by dried beef, spice and lots of minerals. Lively tannins, smooth tannins and a long finish round out the tasty picture. (Buy again? Yep.)

Saint-Aubin 2014, Le Ban, Domaine Derain (ca. $60, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Pinot Noir (97%) and Aligoté, Chardonnay, Pinot Beurot and Pinot Blanc. The nearly 100-year-old vines are coplanted and have been farmed biodynamically since 1989. Manually harvested. Crushed by foot. Whole-cluster fermentation in traditional wooden vats lasts two to three weeks. Matured in barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Ça pinote ? And how. A perfumy, floral nose of red berries, sweet spice, beet and cola. A sip reveals a wine of great purity. The rich, ripe fruit is beautifully structured by lively acidity and fine, firm tannins and a mineral underlay. Marinated cherry, herbs and a hint of chocolate appear on the expansive mid-palate and linger through the long, bitter-edged finish. Delicious now and probably even better in 10 years. Tastes old-fashioned in the best sense of the phrase. A memorable wine. Fairly priced too. (Buy again? A case if it weren’t sold out.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

October 11, 2017 at 12:15

AOC shunners

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Vin de table 2014, Zacmau, Causse Marines ($35.62, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Mauzac from organically and biodynamically farmed 90-year-old vines in Gaillac. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks. Maturated in stainless steel tanks and, on the lees with regular stirring, in barrels (30-50%). Fined and filtered only on an as-needed basis. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Striking nose of apple, sushi, “pumpkin,” and flat champagne. Smooth and rich in the mouth, with lowish acidity. The “loose attack” gives way to a savoury-overtoned, limestoney mid-palate. Not a lot of depth but a certain opulence and a great complexity of flavours, with tasters noting “apple compote,” “dried white flowers” and “propolis” among other things. Long finish. Fascinating. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de France 2015, Le Pont Bourceau, Les Roches Sèches ($31.38, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Technically an Anjou blanc. 100% Chenin Blanc from organically farmed vines planted in 1973. Manually harvested. Direct pressed. Vinified and matured in tanks for around 12 months. Filtered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Attractive nose of pear, quince and quartzy limestone. Rich, fruity and dry in the mouth. The smooth surface is unperturbed by the pervasive acidity. Great minerality. Honey overtones. Fundamentally savoury. Very long. Intense yet civilized. Delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Written by carswell

October 10, 2017 at 12:35