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Two Dolcettos and a zinger

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Dogliani 2014, Valdibà, San Fereolo ($24.10, 12647709)
100% Dolcetto from organically and biodynamically farmed vines averaging 15 to 35 years old. The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and crushed. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts last around eight days and are not temperature-controlled beyond preventing the must from exceeding 29°C. The wine is then racked into clean tanks for malolactic fermentation, followed by four months’ maturation on the fine lees. Lastly, the wine is “clarified,” bottled and aged another six to 12 months before release. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Outgoing nose of mulberry, smoke, mineral, “ashtray” and dried rose. In the mouth, it’s supple, pure and caressing, with soft tannins, bright acidity, sweet-tart fruit and an underlay of earthy slate. A floral note overtones the long finish. An admirable effort from a difficult (read cool and wet) vintage. Probably not a keeper but a winner here and now. (Buy again? Yes.)

Dogliani 2015, Briccolero, Chionetti Quinto ($25.55, 12131112)
For background on the estate, which is converting to organic farming, see here. 100% Dolcetto from vines averaging around 45 years old. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Soft-pressed. Maceration on the skins and fermentation with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks (29-30°C) last around two weeks. Matured around 11 months in stainless steel tanks. Cold-stabilized but not filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Powerful, youthful nose of mulberry, blackberry, plum and not much else (complexity will come with time). A sip reveals an extracted wine that remains fluid despite its richness. Dark fruit and slatey minerals cloak firm, raspy tannins. Sleek acidity adds welcome brightness, the long drying finish an appetizing bitterness. Achieves a fine balance between fruit and structure, finesse and power. Enjoyable now but will benefit from time in the bottle. (Buy again? Yes, especially to cellar for a decade or more.)

Langhe Nebbiolo 2011, Il Provinciale, San Fereolo ($40.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Nebbiolo from organically and biodynamically farmed vines planted in the commune of Dogliani. The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and crushed. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts last around three weeks and take place in wooden vats. The fermentation temperature is not controlled. The wine is racked into large Slavonian oak barrels, where it matures on its lees with regular stirrings and undergoes spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Unfiltered and unfined. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Spice, thyme and “baloney” segue into red berries, floral aromatics and a hint of tar. On the fuller side of medium-bodied, the texture somewhere between silk and satin. Notable for its beautiful surface (such pure fruit), considerable depth (flavours, minerals and wood) and elegant structure (firm yet flexible tannins, bright yet integrated acidity). One taster declares it a little too heady but I don’t find the alcohol intrusive. Indeed, this seems like a model for what Nebbiolo can achieve outside of Barolo and Barbaresco. (Buy again? Def.)

Crossed wires meant the 2009 San Fereolo Dogliani I thought I’d ordered ended up being the 2011 Provinciale. Not a problem. For most tasters, it was the wine of the flight if not the night. Actually, a small riot nearly ensued when it was learned that the wine was sold out and that four bottles from our case were all that was available for purchase.

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

April 26, 2017 at 12:49

Off and on

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Crémant d’Alsace 2013, Bernhard & Reibel ($25.75, 13133224)
Not listed on the producer’s website, this appears to be a Quebec-only bottling. A blend of organically farmed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (50-50 per the SAQ, 80-20 per the agency whose technical info for the wine is identical to the producer’s info for the non-vintage crémant with a different label). Manually harvested. Slow pneumatic pressing. The must is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Sparkled using the traditional method. Matured at least one year in the bottle on lattes. Lightly filtered. Reducing sugar: 6.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.

First bottle: Pale gold with fine bubbles. The nose is described variously as “more apple than pear,” “caramel apple,” apple seeds, “sweat or maybe volatile acidity,” chalk, “rancio” and “wet laundry.” In the mouth, the wine is fruity and dry, with good acidity and a fine effervescence. Yet there’s a fuzziness about it, a touch of oxidation and a lingering impression of something a little off. No one is enamoured and one or two perceptive tasters suggest our bottle is defective. Plates of Scottish-Asian gravlax having been set out (thanks, Mike!), we decide to open the backup.
Second bottle: Less gold in colour, the bubbles equally fine. The nose is fresher and fruitier, full of apple, citrus and mineral aromas and a whiff of brioche. On the palate, it’s crisper, cleaner, brighter, more textured and even drier. The racy acidity and mineral substrate last well into the creamy finish. We have a winner. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

April 18, 2017 at 10:02

Bullish

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Based in Calce in the Roussillon, not far from Perpignan, Jean-Philippe Padié farms 15 hectares of vines divided among some 40 parcels. Before creating his eponymous estate in 2003, he worked as vineyard manager at Mas Amiel and Domaine Gauby. The farming is organic leaning biodynamic (though Padié doesn’t bother with certifications) and yields are kept very low. The wine-making is non-interventionist. Am pertty sure this is his first wine to be sold at the SAQ.

Vin de France 2015, Petit Taureau, Domaine Padié ($28.15, 13113215)
A 50-50 blend of Carignan and Syrah from organically farmed vines respectively rooted in limestone and schist. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Four-fifths of the wine is matured in concrete tanks, one-fifth in barrels. No additives other than a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Labelle Bouteille.

Entrancing nose of red and black fruit, hard candy, sweet spice and flowers against a backdrop of slate, turned earth and leather. Dense with flavour yet medium-bodied and oh, so fluid. Very dry yet full of ripe but not heavy fruit. The sleek acidity and soft tannins come out on the finish, adding a pleasing terminal bite. Black raspberry and peppery spice linger. Fresh + supple + fruity + savoury + low alcohol (12.5% in 2015) = dangerously drinkable. The only possible complaint is the price – relatively high for an easy drinker – but that’s a recurring theme these days (blame the exchange rate, among other things). (Buy again? Def.)

Written by carswell

April 13, 2017 at 10:41

WINO tasting (2/6)

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Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu 2013, Les Hautes Noëlles, Domaine Les Hautes Noëlles ($36.46, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in 1930, the estate, which has some 25 hectares of vines, is located in St-Léger-les-Vignes. 100% Melon de Bourgogne from organically farmed vines more than 80 years old and rooted in sand and clay on mica schist. Production is limited to 2,000 bottles a year. The grapes are picked by hand and macerated briefly before pneumatic pressing. The must is clarified by settling. Fermentation (with indigenous yeasts at c. 18°C) and maturation (c. 12 months on the lees with regular stirring) take place in oak barrels, a quarter of which are new. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Multi-faceted nose with scents of apple, “strudel dough” (per another taster), faint marzipan, quartz, dried banana, lemon and more. Rich, fluid, complex, layered and dry. The initial fruit makes room for minerals (“chalk grotto” my note arcanely reads), while sleek acidity lends a soft glow. Honey, “ginger” and faint bitter notes colour the impressively sustained finish. A delicious, absorbing wine quite unlike any other Muscadet I’ve tasted. Would make an interesting ringer in a flight of Chenins or Chardonnays with some age on them. (Buy again? Yes.)

Tasted at Moleskine the following evening, the estate’s 2014 “Les Parcelles” bottling ($20.50, WINO, 12 bottles/case) was crisp, clean and appetizing though far more conventional.

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

March 28, 2017 at 15:08

WINO tasting (1/6)

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The Mo’ Wine Group’s latest agency tasting was led by the affable Martin Landry from WINO. Around three years old, the agency specializes in wines that are, at a minimum, organic or biodyamic and often “natural.” You’ll find them on the lists at many of the city’s hipper restaurants and wine bars, including Diplomat, Pullman, Rouge Gorge and Moleskine (to name a few recent sightings).

We got things rolling with a classy sparkler from Limoux.

Blanquette de Limoux 2015, Monsieur S./Étienne Fort ($25.33, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Fort is a barely 30-something vigneron who works the family’s two hectares of vines at the Château Saint Salvadou in Bourliège in the Aude department. In 2011, he decided to stop selling his fruit to the local co-op and to start making his own wines. The grapes for this 100% Mauzac come from organically and biodynamically farmed, 30-year-old vines rooted in deep clayey limestone. Manually harvested. Made without additives of any kind. Fermented in stainless steel. Sparkled using the traditional method. Matured 12 months on the lees. Undosed, unfined, unfiltered. Spent 12 months in the bottle on lattes. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Yeasty, leesy nose with quartz and lemon notes. Tiny, tingling verging on prickly bubbles. Bone dry, crisp and clean. Trenchant and minerally upfront with lemon and gooseberry emerging on the mid-palate. A pithy thread runs throughout. The long, savoury, fairly complex finish has a touch of salinity. This bracing and refreshing sparkler would make a fine aperitif or, as Martin suggested, a dashing companion to oysters on the half shell. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 1 of 6

Greek winery tour: Tselepos (Arcadia)

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[Hover over pics to display captions and credits; click to embiggen.]

One of the leaders of the Greek wine renaissance and the modern day king of the ancient Moscofilero variety, Yiannis Tselepos is a phenomenon. A Cypriot by birth, he studied oenology at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon and, after graduating, spent a couple of years working at several Burgundy estates. He then moved to Arcadia in the eastern Peloponnese, where he found employment as a consulting oenologist, married a local girl, Amelia, and with her founded the eponymous winery. The Tseleposes currently own two estates and have an interest in a third.

Located in Rizes, central Arcadia, Ktima Tselepos is the larger and older of the two estates, dating back to 1999. It sits on a plateau on the eastern flank of Mount Parnon. While the main buildings are surrounded by 30 hectares of vineyards, the estate’s holdings actually total some 240 hectares. The soil here tends to shale and rocky clay and the average elevation is 750 metres, helping ensure the all-important wide difference in day and night temperatures. The handsome winery is built in the traditional local architectural style; less flashy and touristy than some, it feels like a facility whose main vocation is wine production. Although around two-thirds of its output is devoted to Moscofiliero, the estate makes a wide range of wines, from sparklers to still dry reds and whites to sweet wines, from international as well as local grape varieties. With a total annual production of 350,000 bottles, half of which is exported, this is no small operation.

In 2003, Tselepos acquired a second property, Ktima Driopi, an 8.5-hecatre plot of 50-year-old vines rooted in steep clay soil in Kousti, near Nemea, about an hour’s drive to the north-northwest. The estate specializes in Agiorgitiko, another ancient indigenous variety. A small winery has since been built to handle the estate’s output. The estate’s striking labels, as classy as its wines, feature a dormant tree in silhouette.

Tselepos’s latest project is a joint venture with the Chryssou family on Santorini. The Chryssous provide the grapes (from 12 hectares of ungrafted 50- to 100-year-old vines in Pyrgos and Emporio) while Yannis provides the wine-making expertise. Dubbed Canava Chryssou Tselepos Santorini, the estate currently produces around 12,000 bottles a year of a single wine, a 100% Assyrtiko.

At all three estates, the viticultural practices are enlightened without being full-bore organic. In Arcadia, the vines are trained on wires, a virtual necessity in the region’s humid climate. On arid, wind-blasted, sun-stroked Santorini, the vines are coaxed into nest-like spirals that lie close to the ground, the better to protect the fruit and preserve precious water. Irrespective of the estate, the grapes are manually harvested in the cool of the early morning and transported to the winery in small crates. Though the facilities are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, Yiannis views technology as limited to a supporting role. “Good technology makes for good wine, but only the right vineyard will yield a great wine,” he says.

One aspect of this balancing act between technology and terroir was the focus of an interesting exchange during our technical tasting. A member of our party, a professional sommelier with an impressively acute palate, wondered why Tselepos used selected instead of indigenous yeasts since, he felt, the former scalp and compress wines. Yiannis countered with “I have 17 families besides my own who depend on the winery’s success. I’m not going to put their livelihoods at risk.”

I can see both sides of the argument. Obviously, indigenous yeasts – the yeasts native to a place – are a factor in terroir. And many other winemakers have shown that fine wines can reliably be made using them. So it seems a little paradoxical that the winery, which proudly describes its central wine-making philosophy as “to grow Greek varieties within their specific native ecosystem” and which, as the following notes show, does indeed make terroir-expressive wines, doesn’t go all the way down the terroir path.

Then again, Yiannis is clearly more than just a winemaker. He’s also a successful businessman, a player in the local community and a standard bearer for the wines of his region and country. His Moschofileros and Agiorgitikos are widely viewed as models for what the grapes can achieve. His Mantinias have almost single-handedly put that appellation on the map. One of the reasons this has happened is the wines’ consistency. Why, then, tinker with a winning formula? Why introduce another variable into the process? Why do anything that could undermine the livings of so many and the reputations of a business and a region?

More than just a winemaker? Yes. But still a winemaker at heart, as the following story shows. At one point, Yiannis told us how he came to chose oenopole to represent his wines in Quebec. One day this Greek-Canadian showed up, introduced himself as Theo Diamantis and explained that he was setting up an agency dedicated to selling “real,” terroir-driven wines with a high drinkability quotient, wines made not by industrial producers but by vignerons. Which was why he wanted Tselepos in the portfolio. “It was the first time anybody called me a vigneron,” Yiannis beamed, “and it was all I needed to know. I was ready right then to sign on the dotted line.”

You’ll find my notes on all the day two wines after the jump. For details about where we stayed and ate and what we ate and saw, including some of Tselepos’s vineyards, see the day two report on carswelliana.

INTRODUCTION
PAPAGIANNAKOS (ATTICA)
♦ TSELEPOS (ARCADIA)
MERCOURI (ELIS)
TETRAMYTHOS (ACHAEA)
THYMIOPOULOS (MACEDONIA)
ARGYROS (SANTORINI)

Read the rest of this entry »

Oaky doke

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Dão 2010, Tinta Roriz, Fonte de Gonçalvinho ($20.15, 12974531)
Another wine unmentioned on the producer’s and agent’s websites. 100% Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo). The grapes were destemmed and given extended maceration on the skins. Alcoholic fermentation took place in temperature-controlled (28°C) stainless steel tanks. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to second-fill American oak barrels for eight months’ maturation. Reducing sugar: 2.9 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Charred wood and dried ink with plum, black cherry, red meat, cola and cocoa in the background. Medium- to full-bodied, smooth and quite dry. The core of ripe red and black fruit is still vibrant, wrapped in soft tannins, aglow with acidity. As expected in a six-year-old wine, the oak has mostly retreated, shading more than colouring the fruit, except on the bitter-edged finish, where spice, ash and chocolate linger. Not bad but yet another example of heavy-handed oak treatment robbing the wine of freshness. (Buy again? Oak-allergic me? Probably not. But if you’re one of the many who like pronounced oak notes in their wine, go for it. You’ll want to hurry though: there’s not much left in the system.)

Written by carswell

March 22, 2017 at 12:06

Posted in Tasting notes

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