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The SAQ does natural wines – part 2

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The Barbera d’Asti 2008, Terra del Noce, Trinchero ($24.50, 12517710) has considerable initial appeal, provided you’re not bothered by the whiff of volatile acidity. The vibrant attack, pure fruit, upfront cherry and slate flavours, bright acidity and light rustic tannins are typical of the grape and appellation. Too bad, then, that the wine falls short on the finish. Buy again? Twenty-five bucks for a dead-ender? Probably not.

Having enjoyed other wines from the winemaker in his Domaine la Fourmente guise, we had high hopes for the Côtes du Rhône Villages Visan 2012, Native, Rémi Pouizin ($19.90, 12517832). How disappointing then to report it has as many cons as pros. Burned rubber and barnyard cancel out the otherwise attractive nose of raspberry jam, black tea leaves and black pepper. And though I don’t quite agree with one taster’s dismissal (“blackberry yogurt with tannins”), the lean, way peppery fruit is dominated by a parching dryness and tannic astringency while a metallic edge and flaring alcohol do no favours to the finish. Improves – turns sweeter and fruitier – after a couple of hours but not enough to dispel the impression that this is a textbook example of why I sometimes find Grenache hard to love. Buy again? Probably not.

A cipher when opened, especially on the nose, the Corbières 2012, L’Enclos, Domaine des Deux Ânes ($24.70, 12518000) doesn’t really come around until an hour later, at which point it shows itself to be the richest and roundest wine of the six, an agreeably earthy mouthful of red and black fruit, dried herbs and spice with a mineral underlay. The plush tannins and soft acidity have just enough presence while the finish provides a warm-and-fuzzy send-off. Not a throat-grabber by any means but easy to drink. Buy again? Sure, though not without wishing the price was closer to $20.

SAQ natural wines tasting: post 2 of 3.

Written by carswell

May 27, 2015 at 15:22

MWG November 13th tasting: Confounding expectations

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I’d normally serve a Côtes du Rhône before a Châteauneuf but Cyril suggested otherwise. He was right to do so.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011, Les Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de Villeneuve ($59.00, 11884913)
A blend of Grenache (70%), Mourvèdre (16%), Syrah (8%), Cinsault (4%) and Clairette (2%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines up to 90 years old. The varieties are vinified separately. The grapes are manually harvested and gravity fed into the underground winery, where they are left whole, crushed and/or destemmed as the winemaker sees fit and transferred to ceramic-lined concrete vats (80 hl for fermentation, 60 hl for maturation). Maceration and fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) last 20 to 40 days depending on the variety. The cap is punched down and rack-and-return and pump-overs are used when deemed necessary. The must is then pressed with a pneumatic press; the press juice is separately matured and may be added to the free run juice at a later stage. Maturation on the lees lasts 18 to 20 months, with no more than 20% of the wine being matured in a mix of new to third-fill oak barrels. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Scents of raspberry, plum, Asian spice, cedar and graphite waft from the glass. In the mouth, it’s a middleweight with an almost Burgundian texture and fluidity though the savoury flavours – garrigue, black olives, sun-radiated fruit – are clearly Provençal. Bright acidity and lacy tannins add structure and lingering well into the long, perfumed finish. The alcohol is remarkably unapparent. The estate’s website says their goal is to make fine, delicate wines. Well, mission accomplished. This is one of the most civilized Châteauneufs I’ve tasted. Surprisingly accessible now, balanced enough to age for a decade, I’d guess. (Buy again? For a special meal, sure.)

Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Visan 2011, Grains sauvages, Domaine La Fourmente ($38.08, private import, 6 bottles/case)
In 2014, the estate changed its name and is now known as Domaine Dieulefit. This 100% Grenache comes from low-yielding, organically farmed vines between 45 and 70 years old. The grapes are manually harvested, given a long maceration, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured on the lees, all in lined concrete tanks. No added sulphur. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Reductive nose (Brussels sprouts?!) gives way to dried plum and tamari with earthy dried herb and spice notes. Mouth-filling, dense and velvety. The rich, ripe fruit (red berries, pomegranate) has a peppery kick. Etching acidity and fine tannins provide sufficient structure, while dark minerals emerge on the bitter-edged, faintly flaring finish. A wine with lots of there there. (Buy again? Sure, though not without wishing it were $5 cheaper.)

(Flight: 8/9)

Written by carswell

December 3, 2014 at 10:56

Chez La QV

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Newly ensconced in an office cum salon de dégustation on Beaubien just east of St-Laurent, La QV hosted a tasting last week at which it and three other up-and-coming agencies presented a number of their wines, all available on a private-import basis. I’ve linked to the websites of the agencies that have them; for the other agencies’ contact info, see the Raspipav site. The prices are for individuals (restaurants pay slightly less) and include sales taxes.


Mâcon-Villages 2007, Domaine Rijckaert ($23.50, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay. Chalk and quartz, oats and a lactic note. Rich and smooth with a long, acid-tingly finish. Not particularly deep but flavourful and pure. Good QPR.

Côtes du Rhône 2009, Le Petit Piolas, Domaine la Fourmente ($17.50, 12 bottles/case)
75% Grenache, 25% Syrah, organically farmed. Winey/grapey nose: red fruit with hints of garrigue and milk chocolate. Medium-bodied, supple. Pure fruit and spice flavours, soft tannins. A CDR in the Beaujolais mould. Great everyday wine; if I owned a restaurant, this would be on its wine list.

Côteaux d’Aix en Provence 2006, Les Béatines, Domaine des Béates ($21, 12 bottles/case)
Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, organically farmed. Lovely nose redolent of plum, spice and kirsch, gaining inky, mineral and tea notes with time in the glass. Suave and savoury, a core of sweet fruit wrapped in fine tannins. Shows some heat on the finish (14%).

Coteaux du Languedoc 2008, La Vista, Domaine Ribiera ($26.50, 6 bottles/case)
2/3 Grenache, 1/3 Carignan, organically farmed, indigenous yeasts. Dark fruit with notes of leather, violet and animale. Medium-bodied. Pure fuit. Round tannins. Long, bitter-edged finish. A bit austere but very appealing. The Carignan seems dominant, the wine coming across a little like a lighter version of Rouge Gorge’s eponymous cuvée. My red of the evening.


VDP des Côteaux de Peyrac 2008, Tersande blanc, Domaine des Homs ($20.98, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay, organically farmed. Quartz and spice with hints of lemon and dried herbs. Unctuous but kept from heaviness by strong acid. Clean. Flavour tending toward preserved lemon but avoiding tropical fruit. Long, dry finish.

VDP des Côteaux de Payrac 2008, Tersande rosé, Domaine des Homs ($20.53, 12 bottles/case)
A saignée method rosé made from organically farmed Grenache. Appealing nose of spice and strawberry. Fruitiness kept in check by acid and dryness. Minerally finish. Goes down easily. Lovely in its simple, unpretentious way.

Bourgogne 2007, Domaine Paul Pernot (around $30, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. Sees only old wood. Light, pinoty nose: red berries with forest floor and spice notes and the faintest hint of brown sugar. Light and fluid on the palate. Structured not much more than a Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent. Bright acid and fair length. Very dry. Not a lot there but what there is is very nice indeed.

Côtes du Marmandais 2006, Terra, Clos Cavenac ($23.33, 12 bottles/case)
30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Fer Servadou and 7% Abouriou, biodynamically farmed. Complex nose with a leafy freshness: pure fruit, leather, freshly turned sod, hints of tar, cedar and animal. Medium-bodied. Round, smooth attack. Fruity mid-palate with mineral/earth undertones and mild tannins. Long, astringent finish. Bordeauxish but not a carbon copy. Enjoyable.

Mon Caviste also poured Clos Cavenac‘s 2007 Arradim ($22.58, 12 bottles/case), a blend of 70% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot and 10% Malbec. After considerable discussion, we decided the bottle was ever so slightly corked. Unfortunate because you could tell that the wine, with its soft tannins, velvety texture and pure fruit, had the makings of a easy-drinking winner.

Costières de Nîmes 2007, Cuvée Perrières, Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss ($28.29, 12 bottles/case)
Carignan (c. 40%), Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre, biodynamically farmed. Fresh, perfumy nose of plum, spice and fresh herbs. Sleek and elegant, structured as much by acid as by tannins. Kaleidoscopic flavour profile, with the Carignan’s earthiness and dry tannins coming out on the austere finish. A winner.


Touraine rosé 2009, Chant du Bois, Alain et Philippe Sallé ($19.95, 6 or 12 bottles/case)
100% Grolleau, farmed without chemicals or fertilizers. Natural yeasts. Peach, minerals and spice. Dry, minerally attack. Bright acid and light cherry fruit. Licorice-scented finish. Gains earthy notes with aeration. Tasty.

Touraine 2008, Sauvignon, Alain et Philippe Sallé ($20.50, 6 or 12 bottles/case)
100% Sauvignon Blanc, farmed without chemicals or fertilizers. Natural yeasts. Lime, gooseberry and minerals. Light, minerally with a fruity undercurrent and a rainwatery finish. Good though I prefer my SBs sharper and more focused.

Montello e Colli Asolani 2007, Chardonnay, Villa di Maser ($24.95, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay, farmed “eco-compatibly.” Lemon with a smoky/woody note. Light yet powerful, dry yet showing a sweet fruitiness. Flavours hard to pin down. Fruit fast-fades on the finish while bitterness lingers. Unusual, intriguing and quite different from a bottle tasted a couple of days later (tasting note to come).

Burgenland 2007, Impérial Weiss, Schloss Halbturn ($46.25, 6 bottles/case)
55% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% cask-aged Chardonnay. Green apple, boxwood, oats and a woody/oaky note. Rich and deep with acidity keeping it all fluid and balanced. Chalk and grapefruit pith linger though the long finish. Impressive, elegant and, yes, even a little imperious. My white of the evening.


Côtes de Castillon rosé 2009, Château de Chainchon ($17.50, 12 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc. Outgoing nose of strawberry and straw with earthy notes. Very dry and savoury. Fruity attack but mostly about minerals and tannins. Streaky acid. 13.5% alcohol and you can feel it. Unusual and interesting. More a food wine than a summer sipper.

Beaujolais-Villages 2009, Domaine de Sermezy ($19, 12 bottles/case)
Sappy raspberry and cherry, a bit simple. Supple, fruity and pure enough but not showing much depth, follow-through or personality. Vin de soif.

Saint-Joseph 2006, Jean-Luc Chaléat, Cave Saint-Désirat ($32.20, 6 bottles/case)
100% Syrah, made in lined concrete vats. Classic Syrah nose: black raspberry, smoke, tar, violets and animale with a bit of barnyard too. Pure fruit, fine tannins, good balance, silky texture, fair length. Not exactly thrilling but honest and certainly drinkable.

Saint-Joseph 2007, Septentrio, Cave Saint-Désirat ($37.45, 6 bottles/case)
100% Syrah given time in new oak casks. Classic Syrah nose again but more international, with chocolate, vanilla and smoke aromas added to the mix. Denser, more structured and more polished than the JLC, but with the oak now dominating. Good acid yet is there sufficient fruit to outlast the oak and tannins? Would be interesting to revisit in a year or two.

Written by carswell

October 24, 2010 at 14:58