Brett happens

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November 3rd MWG tasting: report

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To staunch the flow of carping about the infrequency of updates to this site, here are some quick notes – little more than a transcription, really – on the wines in the Mo’ Wine Group’s latest tasting. With one exception, the bottles are from the November 3rd Cellier release and, for once, many of them are still available.


Montlouis, Brut non-dosé, Méthode traditionnelle, François Chidaine ($22.95, 11537049)
Yellow apple, hint of citrus peel, gaining floral and winey notes as it warmed and breathed. Tiny, soft bubbles, fruity but dry. Acid-bright and clean. Long minerally finish with a faint bitter edge. (Buy again? Yes.)

Crémant du Jura 2008, Domaine Labet Père et fils ($20.80, 11549162)
Chalkier nose showing a little oxidation. A bit enigmatic. Simple upfront, the flavours tending to lemon and quartz, but maintaining a presence, a grip, after the flavours fade. Lingering sourness. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Vouvray, Brut, Domaine Huet ($26.95, 11537022)
Oxidized apple peel with notes of honey, ash and peach. Strong bead. Rich and dense with a strong current of acidity. Fruit slow-fades to minerals on the long finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

The two Loire wines were winners: the Chidaine lighter, fresher and full of immediate appeal; the Huet richer, slower to open up, built for the long haul. The Labet (a new arrival not in the Cellier release) was good but Tissot’s crémant at about the same price is even better.


Champagne, Terre de Vertus, Premier cru, Larmandier-Bernier ($71.00, 11528011)
A blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) with zero dosage. Straightforward nose (apple, yeast, hint of lemon at first) that became more complex (“cream soda,” said one taster; “dried coconut” chimed in another). Light, elegant, clean. Delicate bubbles. Quite dry and long. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Champagne, Tradition Grand cru, Brut, Égly-Ouriet ($80.00, 11538025)
Mostly Pinot Noir. Nose of apple, toast and pastry cream, initially a little anonymous but slowly gaining character. Fine bead. Initially light and elegant, almost to a fault, but gaining complexity and depth in the glass. Pure and long but none of us got Phaneuf’s “multidimensionnel … doté de ces multiples couches de saveurs qui sont la marque des grands vins.” (Buy again? Probably not.)

Champagne, Grand cru, Blanc de Noirs, E. Barnaut ($46.25, 11152958)
Classic champagne nose of bread and hazelnuts with notes of oxidized apple. Winey texture enlivened by assertive bubbles. Clean and vibrant if a little short on depth and complexity. Unlike the other two, did not improve in the glass. (Buy again? Maybe.)

All were good but none knocked our socks off. The Barnaut’s QPR isn’t bad but it lacked some of the finesse of the other two. The group was evenly split when it came to declaring a preference between the fresher Larmandier-Bernier and the richer Égly-Ouriet.


L’Étoile 2008, Domaine de Montbourgeau ($21.90, 11557541)
Chardonnay with a dash of Savagnin. Complex nose with a sourish edge: oxidized apple, “caramel nuts,” “golden raisins in marc,” “fresh figs,” silage and a whiff of cheese.  Winey yet fluid, fruit balanced by minerals and acid. Long, flavourful finish.  The very model of a Jura white. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Côtes du Jura 2009, Fleurs, Domaine Labet Père et Fils ($22.90, 11556952)
Chardonnay that, unlike many traditional Jura whites, is not allowed to oxidize. The result here is a fairly pure expression of the grape variety. Fruity on the attack, round in the mouth, buttressed by a welcome acidity. Good finish with lingering notes of straw, honey and spice. (Buy again? Sure.)

Arbois 2009, Les Bruyères, Bénédictine et Stéphane Tissot ($35.75, 11542139)
100% Chardonnay. By far the most complex nose of the bunch: mushroom, turpentine, gunflint and sesame along with the expected apple and spice. Smooth and fluid on the palate, the sweet-seeming attack quickly giving way to layers of flavour and a rich fruitiness that belies the wine’s dryness.  Long and balanced. A few years in the bottle will do it a world of good. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Jura 2005, Les Compères, Essencia ($25.95, 11544003)
100% Chardonnay. A bit of an oddball. Appealing if surprising nose of strawberry napoleons (fruit, puff pastry and pastry cream all there). Typically jurassien on the palate, a fruity density underpinned by refreshing acidity. Fairly long, nut-scented finish.  Simple but fun. (Buy again? If looking for a white vin plaisir, sure.)

A popular flight, with just about everyone liking all the wines. Several of us considered the Montbourgeau the winner, a classic Jura white with a great QPR. The Labet was the closest to a non-Jura Chardonnay. The Tissot needs time but has potential. The Essencia was unlike any other white I’ve tasted, not that there’s anything wrong with that.


Arbois 2009, Poulsard, Vieilles vignes, Domaine Rolet Père et Fils ($19.95, 11537090)
And now for something completely different. Pale transparent red, the Jura’s traditional corail (I’ve seen darker rosés). Double-take nose of strawberry, hay and black pepper (detractors in search of descriptors were more inclined to reach for body excretions). Light-bodied, high acid yet, oddly, intensely fruity. Tannins light but raspy. Stemmy finish. Cries out for some charcuterie. (Buy again? I just might.)

Veneto 2007, Primofiore, Giuseppe Quintarelli ($54.25, 11542518)
Take a green bell pepper, stuff it with spicy rice and meat and roast it in a tomato sauce: that’s the nose of this wine. Medium-bodied, fluid, with a perfumy mid-palate, light but firm tannins and just enough acidity. Long, spicy finish. Not particularly deep but full of character and unlike any other red I’ve encountered. (Buy again? Tempted but the price is dissuasive.)

A love-it-or-hate-it-flight. Some tasters were horrified, even outraged by the Poulsard and had trouble believing that several of us actually derived pleasure from the wine. Opinions were almost as divided by the Quintarelli, richer and spicier but still with a streak of green. I enjoyed it but not to the point that I’d fork over $54 for another bottle. (Edit: The taster who took home the tail-end of the bottle reports: “At the Thursday tasting I left the Quintarelli in my glass until the end of the evening to see if it improved – and it did, by a bit, so I brought home what was left in the bottle, and tried it the next day – the harshness and green pepper had completely blown off, and it was far softer and fruitier.  Not that I would go running to drop $55 on another bottle of it, but it’s nice to know that it just really needed to sit, and wasn’t a dud Quintarelli.”)


Haut-Médoc 2008, Château d’Agassac ($26.95, 11188336)
Textbook left-bank Bordeaux. Nose of cedar, cassis and oak with green bell pepper and black pepper notes. Good balance of fruit, acid and tannins. Pure flavours. Longish though not particularly deep. (Buy again? If looking for an everyday red Bordeaux, sure.)

Médoc 2008, Château d’Escurac ($23.80, 11194584)
Meatier and greener nose than the Agassac’s, showing some pencil lead. Tight, tannic, austere. Cedary finish. A bit flat. Doesn’t cohere.Might be better in a year or two but, on the whole, this lacks appeal. (Buy again? No.)

Saint-Julien 2008, Clos du Marquis (Château Léoville Las Cases) ($59.74, 11184520)
Nothing like earlier vintages we’ve tried. Spice, green pepper and an elusive mustiness that had us wondering whether it was corked or scalped. Disjointed and harsh in the mouth. Probably an off bottle. (Buy again? Moot.]

This flight was something of a let-down, with the potentially most interesting bottle not up to scratch. Would that I’d had the budget to go with my original idea: Clos du Marquis, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and Dominus.

Written by carswell

November 4, 2011 at 16:37

6 Responses

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  1. You think this one post will staunch the carping? This just wets our appetite for more.

    Also just to be specific the “body excretions” referred to in the description of the Arbois 2009, Poulsard, Vieilles vignes is bile.


    November 4, 2011 at 17:23

  2. Happy that Bret Happens once again – was getting worried

    weingolb (@weingolb)

    November 4, 2011 at 17:26

  3. […] Brut Réserve in half bottles) came an impressive list of grower champagnes from producers like Larmandier-Bernier, Égly-Ouriet, E. Barnaut and Pascal Doquet, not to mention Pierre Gimonnet. A wine that appeared […]

  4. […] et fils ($20.80, NLA) Perhaps due to the differing contexts, but this was quite different from the bottle tasted in November. Yeasty/bready nose of pear and spice. Fine bead. Dry yet tasting a bit honeyed, the texture […]

  5. […] excellent match for the L’Étoile 2008, Domaine de Montbourgeau, which had wowed the MWG in November 2011. (The 2010 is currently available at the SAQ ($21.55, 11557541).) Made from Chardonnay and possibly […]

  6. […] yet the farthest thing from heavy, tense yet oh, so accessible. More complete than the 2005 yet equally pleasureable. (Buy again? Posthaste – this is a second shipment and there’s not a […]

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