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Fun

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Québec 2016, Bonbonbulles, Les Pervenches (ca. $21)
This pet-nat (ancestral method sparkler) is a blend of Zweigelt, Frontenac and Chardonnay from organically farmed vines. 10.5% ABV. During its short window of availability, it could be purchased at the winery, at a few area food stores specializing in local products (e.g. Dans la côte, Fromagerie Hamel) and through the Quebec agent, La QV.

Slightly hazy strawberry pink. Wafting nose of straw, cherry, cranberry, “hibiscus kambucha,” hints of yeast and lees and a whiff of volatile acidity. Light and dry in the mouth, with fine, persistent bubbles, zingy acidity and ethereal fruit. The leesy kambucha note lasts into the sweet-tart finish. Fun and refreshing. Jambon de Bayonne really brings out the fruit. (Buy again? Def.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 6 of 9

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Written by carswell

October 12, 2017 at 13:15

Bairrada and Burgundy

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Bairrada 2015, Maria da Graça, Tiago Teles ($28.04, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Alfrocheiro from 15- to 30-year-old vines rooted in clay-limestone soil in a cool-climate vineyard. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in open concrete vats. Matured six months in stainless steel tanks. Minimal sulphur dioxide at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Interesting, savoury nose of “smoke,” slate, blackberry, plum, licorice and a hint of rubber. Medium-bodied, dry and savoury but also astoundingly fresh and fluid. The sweet-ripe fruit joined by dried beef, spice and lots of minerals. Lively tannins, smooth tannins and a long finish round out the tasty picture. (Buy again? Yep.)

Saint-Aubin 2014, Le Ban, Domaine Derain (ca. $60, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Pinot Noir (97%) and Aligoté, Chardonnay, Pinot Beurot and Pinot Blanc. The nearly 100-year-old vines are coplanted and have been farmed biodynamically since 1989. Manually harvested. Crushed by foot. Whole-cluster fermentation in traditional wooden vats lasts two to three weeks. Matured in barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Ça pinote ? And how. A perfumy, floral nose of red berries, sweet spice, beet and cola. A sip reveals a wine of great purity. The rich, ripe fruit is beautifully structured by lively acidity and fine, firm tannins and a mineral underlay. Marinated cherry, herbs and a hint of chocolate appear on the expansive mid-palate and linger through the long, bitter-edged finish. Delicious now and probably even better in 10 years. Tastes old-fashioned in the best sense of the phrase. A memorable wine. Fairly priced too. (Buy again? A case if it weren’t sold out.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

October 11, 2017 at 12:15

Branco and bianco

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Lisboa 2015, António, Casal Figueira ($35.03, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Vital from ungrafted, 60- to 100-year-old vines. After destemming, the grapes and placed in barrels for fermentation and eight to 10 months’ maturation on the fine lees. Lightly filtered. A tiny amount of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Subtle, nuanced nose suggestive of lemon, quince and white minerals. Subtle and minerally on the palate, too, with veils of white fruit, citrus, honey and wax. Enlivened by fresh acidity. So light yet so intense and pure. Finishes clean and long. Super with Lucky Limes. Steve says this estate’s wines are among the most vintage-driven he’s encountered, with each year bringing a new experience. Well, the 2015 experience is most impressive. (Buy again? Yes.)

Marche Bianco 2016, Terre Silvate, La Distesa ($27.68, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Mostly Verdicchio with small abounts of Trebbiano and Malvasia. The manually harvested grapes come from organically and semi-biodynamically farmed vines in two plots in the Castelli dei Jesi appellation. Part of the juice is left to macerate on the skins for several days. Co-fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured five to six months. No added anything except minimal amounts of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Burned minerals, hay, apple and “chickpeas.” Rich and extracted. Ripe-sweet apple on the attack gives way to citrus and a load of minerals with a definite saline streak. Soft acidity adds just enough buoyancy. Long, minerally finish with incipient honey and almond notes. Fresh, engaging and speaking of its place. A favourite of many around the table, including me. (Buy again? If the Quebec allocation weren’t sold out, absolutely.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

October 8, 2017 at 11:45

Orange roughly

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Québec 2016, Julep, Domaine Négondos (c. $27.00)
This orange wine isn’t even mentioned on the winery’s website while on the wider Web you’ll find more information about the label than the wine itself. The label and name wryly refer to Montreal’s iconic Gibeau Orange Julep drive-in and its signature drink. 100% Seyval Blanc from the winery’s organically farmed vineyard in Mirabel in the lower Laurentians. Manually harvested. Macerated several weeks on the skins. After pressing, the juice is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Clarified by settling. Probably unfiltered and unfined and minimally sulphured. 11.5% ABV.

“Floral” by general agreement though there is little consensus on the type of flower (dandelion, I think). Hay stubble, stone fruit and citrus (including a little bergamot?) complicate the aromatic profile. In the mouth, it’s smooth, barely medium-bodied and super dry. The light nectarine, citrus and browning apple fruit is dusted with minerals, structured by sleek acidity and ghostly tannins. The evanescing savoury/earthy finish could be longer. Not very orange (if memory serves, the 2014 was significantly more so) but a very convincing expression of Seyval. (Buy again? Yes.)

I’ve contacted the winery for more technical information and will update this post when/if I receive it.

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

October 4, 2017 at 11:29

Rebel without applause

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(More like without wild applause actually but the pun was irresistible.) As much as I appreciate swimmers against the current, the label’s bad boy posing almost convinced me to buy something else. On the other hand, I was making a Portuguese dish (pork chops pan-fried with whole garlic cloves and lemon wedges), was in the mood for a light red and this bottle from the father of Filipa Pato, whose wines I’ve enjoyed in the past, was the only Portuguese red at my local SAQ that was under 13%.

Beira Atlântico 2015, Pato Rebel, Luis Pato ($21.50, 13184419)
Baga (90%), Touriga Nacional (9%) and Bical (1%). The idea being to tame the ferociously tannic Baga, the grapes are macerated only briefly and fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Pot de vin.
Blackberryish fruit, iron, dried blood, dark chocolate, background fern and bog. Medium-bodied and supple. The ripe fruit quickly fades leaving minerals and earthy savour but not a lot else. Structured by fresh acidity and fine tannins that swell astringently on the super-dry finish. Slate, old wood, old leather and vine sap linger. Somewhat austere and not particularly deep but a perfectly good food wine. Not beguiling though unlike anything else and involving in its somewhat inscrutable way. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

September 22, 2017 at 12:24

My mother’s cousin’s kitchen…

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…or something like that.

Life – well, work – will prevent me from posting the next instalments of the July 27th MWG tasting for another day or two. In the meantime, a heads-up on a new arrival that’s disappearing fast.

Gaillac 2016, La Cuisine de ma mère… En vacances à Gaillac, Nicolas Grosbois ($20.50, 13349800)
Nicolas Grosbois is based in Chinon. In most vintages, his entry-level wine, a drink-now Cabernet Franc, is called La Cuisine de ma mère. In 2016, however, having lost nearly all his harvest to bad weather, he decided to source grapes elsewhere. The result is this vin plaisir from Gaillac, which in France appears to be marketed as La Cousine de ma mére and comes in a Burgundy bottle. Duras (25%), Merlot (25%), Braucol (aka Fer, 25%) and Syrah (25%) from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Short maceration. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Barely sulphured. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Fun nose of black and sour cherry segueing to plum, slate, papier d’Arménie and dried wood. In the piehole, it’s medium-bodied and supple, packed with ripe-sweet fruit atop a gravelly substrate. Souring acidity adds intrigue, slender tannins turn a little raspy on the finish. Hints of stem, old wood, red licorice, incense and faint burnt caramel linger. Nothing profound but food-friendly and ultra-drinkable, like a lip-smacking Beaujolais with extra savour and a bit of torque. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Here’s hoping Grosbois has a great 2017 vintage in Chinon but also continues making this Gaillac!

Written by carswell

September 19, 2017 at 10:38

A double dose of Tempranillo Blanco

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Grape vines are prone to mutating and winemakers prone to taking advantage of the results. One not uncommon example is red grape vines that mutate into white grape vines. Henri Gouges has a famous row of white Pinot Noir vines, propagated from an offshoot discovered in the 1940s, whose white berries are vinified to make a blanc de blancs (as opposed to a blanc de noirs, a white wine made from red grapes by minimizing the juice’s contact with the pigments in the skins). Tempranillo Blanco, a white mutation of Spain’s iconic red grape, was discovered in 1998 in Rioja Baja. (A grey-berried mutation called Tempranillo Royo or Tempranillo Gris has also been found in Toro.) After several years’ work to stabilize the variety, Tempranillo Blanco was authorized for use in white Rioja in 2004. Under the appellation rules, the grape can be used on its own or in blends, with Viura (aka Macabeo) generally considered the best blending partner. Two monovarietal Tempranillos recently showed up at the SAQ and we gave them a try.

Rioja 2016, Alto Cantabria, Inspiración, Valdemar ($19.90, 12591821)
100% Tempranillo Blanco sourced from the Alto Cantabria estate. The estate claims this was the first wine made from the grape; Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes says that honour goes to Ijalba. Fermented and matured on the lees in temperature-controlled (16°C) stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Oneo.
Odd but not unappealing nose of “cotton candy,” “peanuts,” “salty bread,” “Bazooka gum” and apple. Medium- to full-bodied. Dry but ripe-fruity (pear and pineapple), even juicy, with a salty mineral undercurrent and just enough acidity. Tasters note “tea tree” and “cucumber” on the sustained finish. Clean, savoury and involving, delivering a mouthful of flavour for under 20 bucks. Several around the table said they intended to buy this. (Buy again? Sure.)

Rioja 2016, Tempranillo Blanco, Edición Limitada, Rioja Vega ($22.50, 12489157)
100% Tempranillo Blanco. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine spent six months on the fine lees in French oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importation Épicurienne.
Minerals, apple, ash and preserved lemon mark the nose. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied, rich and round. The fruit tends to white pear and apple with tropical and citrus overtones. The oak adds spice but also calls attention to itself, especially on the long finish. Not exactly refreshing and probably best thought of as a food wine, though fans of big, New Worldish wines might feel differently. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

September 17, 2017 at 12:58