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Archive for the ‘Tasting notes’ Category

Atlantic Brancos

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Vinho Regional Lisboa 2015, Fossil, Vale da Capucha ($21.30, 13286992)
The estate is located about 50 km north of Lisbon and about 8 km east of the Atlantic coast in an area with a relatively cool and wet climate. Fernão Pires (aka Maria Gomez, 45%), Arinto (45%) and Gouveio (10%) from organically farmed vines rooted in marine fossil-rich clay and limestone. (A red Fossil is also made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Syrah.) Manually harvested. The whole clusters are quickly chilled to 4°C and direct pressed. Fermented in temperature-controlled (15-18°C) stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight months in stainless steel tanks, including a portion on the fine lees. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.
Reduced, sulphurous nose on opening that evolves into an odd mix of “kimchi,” chalk, white spice and “brown banana.” Medium-bodied, waxy textured and very dry. The stone fruit and citrus come with quite a load of minerals and an “asafoetida” note. While there’s enough acidity to keep things fresh and lively, it’s hard to shake the impression that the wine’s a bit simple and short on follow-through – at least for now: maybe this naturalish, just-off-the-boat bottle is suffering from travel shock? (Buy again? A bottle to lay down for a few months.)

Beira Atlântico 2015, Vinhas Velhas, Luis Pato ($19.50, 13212598)
Bical (34%) grown in chalky-clay soil and Cercial (aka Cerceal Branco, 33%) and Sercialinho (a rare cross of Sercial or maybe Vital with Alvahrinho, 33%) grown in sandy soil. (Pato also makes a red Vinhas Velhas from Baga.) Fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Pot de Vin.
Attractive nose of “spruce,” “rosemary,” “green apple” and “pineapple water,” becoming fruity and “floral” as it breathes and warms. Clean in the mouth. Built around a core of sweet-tart fruit with a savoury undercurrent. The acidity is smooth but there’s not a lot of it. Fair length. For now an easy drinker, though it might gain structure and depth with a year or two in the bottle. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 2 of 6

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Written by carswell

December 13, 2017 at 13:17

Clean, crisp and elegant

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Champagne, Brut, 7 Crus, Agrapart & Fils ($69.75, 12632275)
For background on the Avise-based estate, see here. A blend of Chardonnay (90%) and Pinot Noir (10%) from two vintages (40% 2012 and 60% 2013 per the Agrapart website). The grapes came from vineyards in seven villages. After alcoholic fermentation, the still wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Half of the 2012 wine was matured in oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered and unfined in May 2014. Matured in bottle on the lees for three years. Riddled manually. Disgorged on an as-needed basis 60 days before being released to market. Dosage was limited to 7 g/l of sugar and 50 g/l of sulphur dioxide. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Bella Vita.

Not much foam but lots of tiny bubbles. Lovely nose of pear, apple and minerals with background yeast, vanilla, honey, toast, white flowers and a lactic note. In the mouth, it’s as minerally as it is fruity, the minerals tending to chalk, the fruit to lemon and green apple. Fundamentally a lightweight yet the underlying wineyness gives it a depth not often found in champagnes at this price point. The fine, tickling effervescence adds texture and lift, while the long finish brings “des beaux amères” (a beautiful bitterness, quoting another taster). Remarkably clean, crisp and elegant, this is a superb aperitif champagne. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

December 12, 2017 at 12:12

Paarl jam

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Paarl 2015, Pinotage, Fairview ($17.55, 10678481)
100% Pinotage from older dryland bush vines and trellised vineyards on the Fairview farm in Paarl. The soils are mainly decomposed granite. Destemmed and lightly crushed. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and open top foudres. After malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine was transferred to new French and American oak barrels for 10 months’ maturation, then blended and bottled. Reducing sugar: 3.5 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Plum, cherry, stale chocolate and scorched earth on the nose. Medium- to full-bodied. Integrated acidity keeps the forward, ripe fruit in check. Rustic tannins provide a welcome rasp, the earthy/leathery substrate a modicum of depth. Vanilla and chocolate are thankfully relegated to the background. The fair finish leaves a tarry aftertaste. Devoid of nuance and finesse so not very interesting on its own though downable with food, in this instance Lebanese takeout. Not opened for its original purpose – to accompany Latucca‘s most excellent barbecue – which I suspect it would have done passably well if not so well as, say, Leeuwenkuil’s Cinsault or Badenhorst’s Secateurs Red Blend. (Buy again? Only in the absence of more appealing alternatives.)

Written by carswell

December 8, 2017 at 11:43

Unmissable Muscadet

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Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2015, Clos de la Butte, Éric Chevalier ($19.65, 12886831)
After spending a decade sourcing grapes for a négociant in the Tourraine, Éric Chevallier returned to his family estate, Domaine de l’Aujardière, in 2005. His father, a highly regarded grape grower, was set to retire. Éric took the helm somewhat reluctantly but soon found himself challenged and rewarded by the task. He began converting his 28 hectares of vineyards to organic in 2016. This bottling is 100% Melon de Bourgogne from 50-year-old vines planted in serpentinite, eclogite and quartz in the La Butte lieu-dit. The grapes are pneumatically pressed and the must transferred to glass-lined tanks. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight to 10 months on the lees with regular stirring. Unracked and unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Subtle, nuanced, complex nose: quartzy granite, sea beach sand, pear, faint lemon, straw and a hint of marzipan. Clean and unassertive on the attack. Super dry. Not a lot of fruit though plenty of extract and tons of minerals, all carried on a stream of fluent acidity. The flavours turn rainwatery on the mid-palate and swell on the finish: pear, wax and tangy salted butter, with a faint bitterness adding intrigue. More than just an outstanding here-now Muscadet, this is one of the best under-$20 whites currently available at the SAQ. Excellent as an aperitif but also with mollusks and white fish. I look forward to trying Chevalier’s Fié Gris and La Noë bottlings, both private imports.  (Buy again? A case.)

Written by carswell

December 7, 2017 at 13:25

Step up, Riesling!

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While the Melsheimer winery, which is located in the village of Reil, has been owned by the family of the same name for 200 years, their vineyards have been cultivated for far longer than that. Documentation for one goes back to the 12th century. The current wine-maker Thorsten Melsheimer began the switch to organic and biodynamic farming in 1995. The estate makes a broad range of Rieslings and little else. Annual production is around 60,000 bottles, about 40% of which is exported, with Denmark being a primary market.

Mosel 2015, Reiler Mullay-Hofberg, Kellerchen, Melsheimer ($48.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from biodynamically farmed vines averaging 30 years of age and rooted in the slate and quartz of the Mullay-Hofberg vineyard. Manually harvested. Macerated on the skins for 30 days. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured one year in neutral 500-litre Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. Unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.
Wafting nose of white flowers, yellow apple, quartz/chalk and background lemon/lime. Fine, clean and engaging in the mouth. The bright – not sharp – acidity gives the ripe fruit a sweet-and-sour quality. Dusty minerals add another layer of flavour and texture. Finishes long and dry. A lovely wine that was slightly overshadowed by its flightmate though that may no longer be the case in five years, when both wines should reach the plateau of maturity. (Buy again? Yes.)

Mosel 2015, Vade Retro, Melsheimer ($48.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The estate’s flagship wine. Its name derives from a medieval Catholic phrase used in exorcisms, Vade retro satana (“Step back, Satan”), perhaps a wry nod to the wine’s lack of fire and brimstone, er, added sulphur. 100% Riesling from biodynamically farmed vines in some of the Mosel’s steepest vineyards. Manually harvested. Spontaneously fermented on the skins in large oak barrels and no pumping. No filtering or added sulphur. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.
Smoky, minerally, fruity nose with hints of nuts and lees. Rich yet fleet in the mouth. It’s dry (reportedly about 1 g/l of residual sugar) and full of minerals though it’s the fruit (mostly stone, some apple, a little citrus) that holds your attention. The acidity is pervasive but very well integrated. Layered, deep, long and pure. A baby but a beautiful one. Entirely consistent with a bottle – one of the stars in a stellar evening of wine and food – enjoyed a few weeks earlier at Candide. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 9 of 9

Written by carswell

December 6, 2017 at 14:14

Istragram

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Primorska 2013, Refošk, Rojac ($24.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located on Slovenia‘s Istrian peninsula and just inland from the Adriatic coast, the Rojac estate has been making wine since the 17th century. The young Uroš Rojac took the reins in 2005, when his father unexpectedly passed away. 100% Refošk (aka Refosco d’Istria) from 13-year-old organically farmed vines rooted in sandy soil. Manually harvested. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and macerated in open vats for 10 to 15 days. Matured 18 months in oak and six months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined. Vegan compatible. Around 20,000 bottles were produced. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

Fresh nose of blackberry, slate and distant spice. Medium-bodied. The very forward, juicy, sweet-tart red and black fruit is brightened by incandescent acidity, darkened by minerals. Pliable tannins add texture as much as structure. There’s not a lot of depth but good length. A few around the table were unenthusiastic but several of us found it had an earthy appeal. Would gladly make this straightforward and tasting wine a weeknight regular. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 8 of 9

Written by carswell

December 5, 2017 at 13:04

Red devil

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Vallée d’Aoste 2015, Enfer d’Arvier, Danilo Thomain ($37.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located in a steep, south-facing ampitheatre in the Valle d’Aosta, the five-hectare Enfer d’Arvier subzone, which gained DOC status in 1971 but has since been incorporated into the valley-wide DOC, is named enfer (“hell” in French) due to the intensity of the light and summer heat and the aridity and hardness of the soil. The Thomain estate, which was founded in 1920 by Danilo’s grandfather, comprises one hectare and is the appellation’s only independent winemaker. Farming is not organic though use of chemicals is kept to a minimum. The wine-making is artisanal. Production averages around 5,000 bottles a year. This, the only wine made, is a blend of Petit Rouge (90%) with 10% Pinot Noir, Gamay and Gamaret from 35- to 40-year-old vines rooted in sandy glacial moraine. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in 1.5-ton fibreglass tanks and lasts around two weeks. The wine is then transferred to barrels for nine months for malolactic fermentation and maturation on the lees. Clarification is by settling; the wine is unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

The first bottle seems lightly corked, which is confirmed when we open a backup. Appealing, earthy nose of sour cherry and choke cherry with hints of green and tarragon/licorice. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, dry and oh, so pure. The intense berry fruit tastes more wild than cultivated. Structure comes in the form of smooth but lively acidity, wiry tannins and a mineral underlay. The finish is long and a faint bitterness lingers. Tasty and very drinkable. Had this been available for purchase, we would have taken a case or two. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

December 2, 2017 at 13:44