Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

MWG May 15th tasting (4/6): Moonstruck

with 3 comments

Finding their stone-covered vineyards reminiscent of a moonscape, the owners of Clos du Gravillas have chosen a crescent moon as their logo. It also appears on several of their labels.

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2010, Côté Obscur, Clos du Gravillas ($24.96, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Carignan from organically farmed 99-year-old vines, the grapes normally used for the estate’s flagship red, Lo Vièlh. In 2010, the wine took much longer to ferment and tasted so different from the usual Lo Vièlh, the owners decided to make it into a different wine named The Dark Side. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. 3,500 bottles produced. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Appealing nose of dill, spice, raspberry candy and a mass of black fruit. Medium-bodied. Fruity on the surface but with a dark undercurrent. Supple tannins and medium acidity keep things structured and fresh. Minerally and spicy, especially on the kirsch-toned finish. Tasty. (Buy again? Yes.)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2012, Sous les Cailloux des Grillons, Clos du Gravillas ($22.44, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A blend of organically farmed Syrah (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Carignan (10%), Grenache, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Manually harvested. Destemmend then lightly crushed by foot. Traditional but short vinification. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months in stainless steel tanks. 8,000 bottles produced. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Odd, stinky nose dominated by leather, animale and oyster shell aromas. Spritzy, as intended by the winemaker. Rich, fluid and quite dry. The fruit is clean, the tannins smooth, the acidity buoyant. The berry and slate flavours linger long. (Buy again? A bottle to see what’s up with the nose.)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2010, Rendez-vous du Soleil, Clos du Gravillas ($28.23, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Organically farmed Carignon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in equal proportions. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured a little over two years, mostly in stainless steel tanks, though the Cab and Syrah spend half the time in old oak barrels. 3,000 bottles produced. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Complex nose: leather, slate, candied cherry, mincemeat, hint of burned coffee. Round and dry and very present – a mouthful of spicy, peppery, blackcurranty fruit, sustained, velvety tannins and lowish acidity. The slatey finish has a lingering astringency and bitterness. The kind of generous red the Languedoc is known for. (Buy again? Maybe, though I wish it were $5 cheaper.)

Updated on June 10, 2014, with information provided by the winemaker (see comments).

Written by carswell

June 8, 2014 at 12:49

3 Responses

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  1. Golly, I see that you’ve also done reds. So I’ll put in my 2c here too!

    Dark Side isn’t a separate batch from Lo Vielh Carignan, it IS Lo Vielh 2010 (or it is ALL the LV 1911 vineyard grapes, as the cassis was so strong that we thought we’d confuse people if we labelled it Lo Vielh.) Lo Vielh was made as usual in 2009 and 2011 (and every other year since 99 except 02 when we didn’t think the taste was “lo vielh enough”) An interesting carignan note for your blog–the 09 LV was starting to get a bit bretty (in our opinion) and 2010 was simply wacky (if yummy), so in 2011 we changed out all the barrels. 2011 was the 100 year bday of the vineyard so we thought it proper to let the fruit come through without any competition from Brett yeasts (although that meant some competition from new oak). The 2011 juice was powerful enough to hold its own against the barrels–Brett is much more insidious (and people were saying “ahh, THAT’s a delicious true carignan”, when truly it was a delicious bretty carignan!) 2011 is yummy and creamy, but for us the real payoff of the new barrels is 2012, when the oak is down a notch and the pure carignan fruit can completely shine through. 2012 was bottled in March.

    And Grillons 12 didn’t referment in bottle; it was dry. We DID however choose to bottle it with a significant quantity of (post fermentation) CO2, which has surprised some drinkers and which keeps it in a reduced state and means that it can use some air when it gets opened. We liked the additional freshness and zip that keeping the natural spritz in provided. We won’t surprise so many people with the 2013 (to be bottled this Friday). We’ve chased out the “excess” gas down to a level that’s a bit more traditional, in light of the response to zippy 2012. My wife Nicole and i preferred it spritzy, but not strongly enough to be blinded to the commotion and to stubbornly not notice that some drinkers were being sent too far out of their comfort range (at least for a few minutes after opening the bottle).

    Please enjoy ! John

    john bojanowski

    June 8, 2014 at 16:24

    • Again, thanks for the feedback, John. I’ll update the notes with the correct information since visitors don’t always read the comments. I’ll also include the info about the 2011 Lo Vièlh in my soon-to-be-posted tasting notes on it, the ’08 and the ’04. Those of us who know the wine were surprised by the 2011’s oakiness, wondered whether it was intended as a way of marking the vineyard’s 100th anniversary and hoped it didn’t signal a permanent change in style. Now all is clear.


      June 10, 2014 at 12:53

  2. […] indigenous yeasts and matured 12 months in French oak demi-muids. As the winemaker explained in a recent comment, the 2009 Lo Vièlh was showing some brettiness (the 2010 was made into the Côté Obscur), so all […]

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