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Two sweet meads

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Hydromel, Cuvée de la Diable, Ferme Apicole Desrochers ($19.95/375 ml, 10291008)
An off-dry mead made near Mont-Laurier in the Upper Laurentians from a selection of organic honey (spring, fall and buckwheat) and aged in oak casks for three years. The raw honey is mixed with water. The resulting honey water is decanted to eliminate impurities and transferred into stainless steel tanks for fermentation at ambient temperature for three to six weeks. Fermentation is stopped naturally by the alcohol and winter cold. The mead is then matured on the lees for six to 12 months before being transferred to oak casks for two and a half to five years’ aging. Selected casks are blended and bottled. Residual sugar: 80 g /l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV. The product is named after the nearby Diable River, la [rivière du] Diable in French (if it were named after the devil, it would be Cuvée du diable).
Complex nose of flowers, caramelized white fruit, honey, dusty beeswax, a touch of vanilla and more than a hint of cheese. Smooth, even buttery texture. Not particularly sweet. Possessed of a certain heft but far from heavy, thanks in no small part to the sustained acidity. Long finish with citrus and nougat notes. (Buy again? Sure.)

Hydromel, Or d’âge, Ferme Apicole Desrochers ($76.75, 12644145)
To make this sweet honey wine, the best barrels of the Cuvée de la Diable are given extended aging (between eight and 18 years) under a flor-like veil in oak casks that are not topped up. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: > 60 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Astoundingly complex nose of dried honey, spice (especially cinnamon), dried flowers, aged pine, faint nuts and more. In the mouth, it’s semi-sweet, spicy and ultra-refined, infinitely more layered than the Cuvée de la Diable, with great balance between extract and acidity. The complex flavours are dominated by caramel and dried pear. An intriguing bitter thread emerges on the mid-palate and wends its way through the long, dry finish. Unique, disorienting, fascinating and ultimately convincing. Excellent with blue cheese. (Buy again? Definitely.)

As usual at MWG tastings, the wines were served double-blind and it was interesting to see people’s reactions to this flight unlike any other. Within seconds of taking their first sniff of the Cuvée de la Diable, two of the more critical tasters declared it to be a mead and did so with a frown on their faces. Their initial reaction on tasting the wine was hardly more positive. Other tasters were less vocal, uncertain what to make of it. The grumbling died down as more time was spent with the mead and turned positive, even enthusiastic, as people moved on to the Or d’âge and tasted both meads with cheese. In the end, the consensus was that, while both were impressive, the Or d’âge was exceptional, a world-class if unusual product and the solution to the sticky problem of what made-in-Quebec gift to take when visiting out-of-province wine lovers.

MWG November 12th tasting: flight 6 of 6

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Written by carswell

January 13, 2016 at 10:31

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