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Posts Tagged ‘Alsace

South and north

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Sicilia 2011, Carjcanti, Gulfi ($36.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Carricante (95%) and Albanello (5%) from unirrigated, organically farmed 15-year-old vines rooted in limestone and clay. Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Matured around 12 months in 2500-litre stainless steel tanks and 500-litre French oak barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Striking, complex nose: tamari (!), almond paste, dried apricot, split wood and white spice against a backdrop of minerals. Medium-bodied, fruity but dry, especially on the finish. Lots of minerals and soft but sustained acidity. Long with hints of quince and oxidizing yellow apple. Unique and delicious though probably not a long ager. Understandably a favourite of many around the table. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Alsace 2012, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Jean Louis & Fabienne Mann ($35.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from organically farmed old vines grown in several vineyards. Manually harvested. The must from the gently pressed grapes is allowed to clarify by settling, then fermented in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Maturation on the lees lasts around 10 months. At bottling, the wine is lightly filtered and a small amount of sulphur dioxide is added. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Lemon, white flowers, white minerals and eventually buttery marzipan. Very dry. Rich and hefty. Smooth on the surface but dig a little and you find tense acidity and real mineral depth. Ends long and clean on an intriguing faintly bitter note. Beautiful, classic Alsatian Riesling at a fair price. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 23rd tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

November 18, 2015 at 12:51

Flight of the Rosenbergs

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The first half of the tasting ended with a pair of wines from the Rosenberg vineyard, which the estate describes as a “gentle to moderate slope facing east-northeast … a terroir of fairly deep soil, with limestone rocks covered with small parcels of sandstone or flint. The limestone confers power, the clay gives fatness, the sandstone and flint, minerality, subtlety and breeding.”

In both cases, the manually harvested grapes were sorted at the vine and in the cellar, where the whole clusters were gently pressed. The must was allowed to settle for 12 hours, then racked into stainless steel vats for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Nothing was added except a squirt of sulphur dioxide at the first racking and at bottling. Lightly filtered at bottling.

Alsace 2011, Pinot Gris, Rosenberg, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($31.50, 11655811)
Matured 16 months, 10 of them in demi-muids. Reducing sugar: 11 g/l. 15.1% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
A fairly funky nose off the bat, some candied pear and white peach and a dusting of ashy minerals but mainly hay and straw with flowers in it. Rich and not devoid of residual sugar though coming across as fundamentally dry. The unctuous texture is cut by a current of bitter acidity. Impressive breadth and length. The alcohol adds power but otherwise is transparent. Went very well with some of the cheeses served after the tasting. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace 2012, Gewürztraminer, Rosenberg, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($31.50, 11655774)
Reducing sugar: 28 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Perfumy but not to the point of caricature: rose, citrusy Muscat grape and a hint of honey. Rich and verging on off-dry, though fluent acidity, a mineral matrix and white spice overtones hold the sugar in check. A bitter thread wends its way through the long finish. A beguiling, classic expression of the grape. (Buy again? Yes.)

It says something about the balance of these wines that I was dumbfounded when, post tasting, I learned the alcohol content of the Pinot Gris and the sugar content of the Gewürz.

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 3 of 6.

Written by carswell

July 24, 2015 at 11:48

Three of one

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A trio of Rieslings followed, all made essentially the same way. Harvesting was manual. The grapes were sorted in the vineyard and the cellar. The whole clusters were gently pressed. The must was allowed to clarify by settling for 12 hours, then racked into stainless steel fermentation vats. Fermentation was with indigenous yeasts. No chaptalization or other additions, including fining agents, were used. Minimal amounts of sulphur dioxide were added at the first racking and at bottling. All the wines were lightly filtered at bottling.

Alsace 2012, Rosenberg, Riesling, Domaine Barmes Buecher ($31.50, 11896121)
Clayey limestone (mainly chalk) with sandstone and flinty substrates. Matured in stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 6.3 g/l. 12.8% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Winey nose of apple, white flowers, quartz and hints of pineapple and petrol. Smooth, supple and pure. Fruity but ultimately dry with high but well-integrated acidity. Long. “Des beaux amères,” rightly remarked Giusto Occhipinti. Accessible now but with the potential to improve. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace Grand Cru 2011, Steingrübler, Riesling, Domaine Barmes Buecher ($48.00, 12214161)
Limestone with clay, marl and coarse sand of granitic origin. Matured 12 months on the lees in demi-muids. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Deeper, more complex, classic nose: crystals galore, vaporous sweet yellow and white fruit and citrus zest and a whiff of kerosene. In the mouth, it’s tense, tightly coiled and multidimensional. Very dry. The fruit tends to grapefruit including some pith on the long, minerally finish. The steeliest and most powerful of the three, though the alcohol is far less apparent than the percentage might lead you to believe. Will surely benefit from another four or five years in the cellar. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Alsace Grand Cru 2010, Hengst, Riesling, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($48.00, 11010343)
Marl limestone. Matured 12 months on the lees in demi-muids. Reducing sugar: 3.8 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
More open and upfront, fruitier than the Steingrübler: apple and lemon against a backdrop of minerals and distant petrol. Richer and sunnier in the mouth, the fruit more voluptuous. Approaching off-dry though the sugar is held in check by buoyant acidity and a fainly bitter, white-mineral underlay. Long. A bit monolithic for now but the potential is obvious. The pick of the trio for several of the tasters present. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 2 of 6.

Written by carswell

July 20, 2015 at 16:00

Three in one

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Maxime and Sophie Barmès of Domaine Barmès Buecher and Giusto Occhipinti from Azienda Agricola COS were in Montreal last April and our friends at oneopole generously hosted a dozen Mo’ Wine Group members at a tasting at their world headquarters. oenopole brought the wine and the three visitors and we brought the food.

After his father François died in a cycling accident in the fall of 2011, twenty-something Maxime returned from school to oversee, assisted by his mother Geneviève, the winemaking for the just-completed harvest. He has stayed on as winemaker while Sophie, who obtained a management degree in 2010, looks after the business side of things.

Farming and winemaking follow the practices established by Francois soon after he took over the estate: manually working the vines and soil; abjuring herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers; using only plant-based treatments; strictly sorting the grapes on the vine and at the cellar; pressing gently; adding nothing and taking nothing away. The results are there for the tasting.

We began with an easy-drinking blend made exclusively for the Quebec market.

Alsace 2011, Trilogie, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($19.95, 12254420)
A blend of organically and biodynamically farmed Pinot Blanc (40%), Riesling (40%) and Pinot Gris (20%). Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months on the fine lees in stainless steel tanks. Unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur is added – and then minimally – only at bottling. Reducing sugar: 6.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Quiet nose of chalk, white peach and pineapple with coriander and fennel seed hints. In the mouth, the wine is bright and clean, as aromatic as it is flavourful. A touch of residual sugar rounds and adds sheen. The remarkably pure fruit is infused with white minerals, while an intriguing acid bite appears on the mid-palate and a faint bitterness marks the long finish. Uncomplicated (which is not to say shallow), fresh and appetizing, this has QPR winner written all over it. Perfect for sipping on its own or serving with seafood in Asian-style preparations. (Buy again? Imperatively. Here’s hoping there’s a second shipment.)

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 1 of 6.

Written by carswell

June 4, 2015 at 13:05

In the pink

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Two from the first wave of spring rosés to hit the SAQ’s shelves.

Alsace 2014, Pinot Noir Rosé, Alsace Willm ($17.90, 12521401)
Another wine not listed on the producer’s website and with no technical information that I’ve been able to find. 100% Pinot Noir. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Sylvestre Vins & Spiritueux.
Pretty nose of red berries. Delicate in the mouth, fruity but not sweet (or bone-dry for that matter). Lightly brightly acidic. Not much substance or length but enjoyable for its freshness, faint juiciness and ethereal ephemerality. A patio wine par excellence. (Buy again? On a hot summer’s day, sure.)

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2014, Château Vignelaure ($24.70, 12374149)
Grenache (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Syrah (30%) from vines averaging 25 years old. Manually harvested. Saignée method after two hours’ maceration for the Grenache; direct pressing for the Cab and Syrah. The must is chilled to 10°C and allowed to settle for 48 hours. Fermented at low temperature (17°C) and matured in stainless steel tanks except for 7% of the Cab, which is aged in a 400-litre new oak barrel. Maturation on the lees with regular stirrings lasts three months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: LBV International.
Savoury nose: minerals and garrigue up front, fruit in the background. More substantial than the Willm but also more akin to a white wine. Dry and balanced, the extract buoyed by fine acidity. Shimmering peach and pink grapefruit are on equal footing with white minerals, while a light salinity threads through the long finish. Delicious is on its own but the real vocation of this vin gastronomique is to accompany grilled seafood or bouillabaisse. Will probably rank among the top half-dozen rosés to be found at the SAQ this spring and summer. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

April 27, 2015 at 10:55

The Riesling chronicles: Théo v. Muenchberg

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Alsace Riesling 2011, Cuvée Théo, Domaine Weinbach ($40.00, 10272552)
100% organically and biodynamically farmed Riesling grown in the Clos des Capucins vineyard. The grapes are manually harvested, gently pressed and fermented and matured in old oak vats with indigenous yeasts. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin & Robillard.
Textbook nose dominated by lemon-lime and green apple with notes of petrol and crushed rock. Powerful yet fresh in the mouth. Dry, as the hint of residual sugar is obliterated by surging acidity. Deep, long and so minerally. Classic but not peaking for another few years. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace Riesling 2012, Grand cru Muenchberg, Domaine Ostertag ($57.50, 00739821)
100% organically and biodynamically farmed Riesling from 30- to 60-year-old vines growing in Ostertag’s 1.6 hecatres in the 17-hectare grand cru Muenchberg vineyard. The manually harvested whole clusters are pressed in a pneumatic press. The long fermentation with indigenous yeasts and maturation on the lees take place in stainless steel tanks, the entire process lasting just under 12 months. Underwent malolactic fermentation. 6 g/l residual sugar, 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Shockingly fragrant and floral at first, evocative of the boudoir, but eventually yielding more typical citrus and mineral notes along with a hint of peach/mango. Far more typical on the palate. The fruit is pure and ripe and the texture is remarkable – smoother and silkier than the Weinbach, the acidity as trenchant but better integrated. Indeed, the wine is breathtakingly well balanced, while the multi-dimensionality holds your attention to the very end of the long finish. Even in its youth, a gorgeous wine. That said, the price is shock-inducing: the 2010 went for $49. (Buy again? If feeling flush, yes. Otherwise wait until there’s a 10% off promo.)

Written by carswell

February 16, 2015 at 13:08

Bordel De Noël workshop (6/6)

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Alsace Gewürztraminer 2011, Rosenberg, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($32.25, 11655774)
100% Gewürztraminer from organically and biodynamically farmed vines grown in the Rosenberg vineyard. Manually harvested. Gently pressed. The must is allowed to settle and clarify for 12 hours, then fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in stainless steel tanks. Lightly sulphured on first racking and at bottling. Lightly filtered at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
An echt Gewürz nose of lychee, honeysuckle and rose with white spice overtones. Off-dry, richly fruited and unctuous, saved from heaviness by just enough acidity. The long, clean finish shows none of the bitterness or heat often found in wines made from this grape. Probably best viewed as a dessert wine to pair with a not-too-sugary cake, mincemeat pastry or – be still, my beating heart – mirabelle plum and almond tart. Might also work with cheese, raw-milk Munster being a prime candidate. Too sweet to accompany most savoury dishes, I’d guess, though foie gras au torchon could be just the ticket. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

January 18, 2015 at 12:10

MWG November 24th tasting: Grand cru times two

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Alsace Riesling 2011, Grand cru Steingrübler, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($48, 12214161)
100% biodynamically farmed Riesling. Manually harvested. Sorted in the vineyard and at the cellar. Gently pressed. The must is allowed to settle for 12 hours before being racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Lightly filtered at bottling. Small amounts of sulphur dioxide are added at the first racking and at bottling. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Outgoing nose of quartz, white flowers, apple, lemon zest, a faint hint of mango but no petrol. Dry and acidic yet so rich and smooth. The ripe fruit comes with an herby saline undercurrent, a quartzy substructure and a long, so-dry-it’s-verging-on-astringent finish. While the estate considers the Steingrübler to be the earliest developing of its grand cru Rieslings and while this 2011 is enjoyable now, it will clearly benefit from a few more years in the cellar. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace Riesling 2009, Grand cru Hengst, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($48, 11010343)
100% Riesling from biodynamically farmed vines around 30 years old. Manually harvested. Sorted in the vineyard and at the cellar. Gently pressed. The must is allowed to settle for 12 hours before being racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months on the lees in neutral demi-muids. Lightly filtered at bottling. Small amounts of sulphur dioxide are added at the first racking and at bottling. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Browning yellow apple, mowed field, an array of minerals (chalk and flint along with the expected quartz), a petrol note and a hint of musk. In the mouth, it’s rich, even a bit honeyed. Riper than the Steingrübler’s, the fruit is aglow with smooth acidity and dusted with chalk. Breadth and length it has in spades but less depth and complexity than usual. Passing through a shut-down phase? The effect of a hot vintage? Hard to know without further research. For now at least, a mildly disappointing showing for this normally exceptional wine. Not that it was unsatisfying – quite the opposite in fact – just that it lacked some of the tension and brilliance that have made earlier vintages so memorable. The 2010 can now be found on the SAQ’s shelves. I look forward to tasting it. (Buy again? Maybe.)

(Flight: 2/5)

Written by carswell

December 16, 2014 at 14:03

MWG November 13th tasting: Pinot Noir v. Spätburgunder

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Alsace Pinot Noir 2012, Les Jardins, Domaine Léon Boesch ($29.89, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from a 1.1-hecatre parcel of organically and biodynamically farmed vines averaging 20 years old. Manually harvested. The uncrushed whole clusters are macerated several days at 12°C. Fermented using indigenous yeasts with pumping over at the start, daily punch-downs and no chaptalization or temperature control. After pressing with a pneumatic press, the wine is matured 12 months in neutral barrels with top-ups every two or three weeks and no lees stirring. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Reductive at first, then exuberant red berries, cedar, gingerbread, wood-grilled flank steak and slate. Vibrant and mouth-filling. The tannic structure, bright acidity, depth and length seem positively Burgundian while the juicy freshness is anything but. Fun. (Buy again? Gladly.)

QbA Rheinhessen 2010, Spätburgunder, Holzfass, Battenfeld-Spanier ($33.95, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The up-and-coming 28-hectare estate is located in Hohen-Sülzen near Worms. It has been organic since 1993, began working biodynamically in 2005 and is now a member of La Renaissance des appellations. This 100% Pinot Noir is fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in new 1,200-litre oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Less rich and more peppery than the Boesch. Fluid, spicy, dry. The fruit is clean though there’s not lots of it. On the other hand, the streaming acidity, light but resilient tannins, slate and wood substrate and bitter finish give the wine a severe appeal. Among the more impressive German Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted. Would make an interesting ringer in a flight of similarly priced Burgundies. (Buy again? Sure.)

(Flight: 6/9)

Written by carswell

November 29, 2014 at 11:42

MWG November 13th tasting: Natural born Alsatians

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Alsace Pinot Blanc 2013, Les Pierres Chaudes, Domaine Julien Meyer ($27.43, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% organically and biodynamically farmed Pinot Blanc. (This is not the blend of the 2012 and 2013 vintages labelled 12.13 but the all-2013 bottling.) Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Underwent partial malolactic fermentation. Lightly filtered (fine earth) before bottling. Unfined. No added anything, including sulphur. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
A Pinot Blanc not in the vin plaisir mould, as hinted at by the savoury nose of mushroom and daffodil. The acidic attack notwithstanding, the wine feels hefty and “rainwatery soft,” to quote one of the tasters. Full of ripe fruit (pear and apple mainly), bitter almond and chalk flavours. Broad, smooth finish. (Buy again? Sure, though not without wishing it were a few bucks cheaper.)

Alsace Riesling 1998, Grand cru Moenchberg, Domaine Moritz ($33.35, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from two Moenchberg parcels – one planted in 1985, the other in 1960 – totalling 14.6 ares (0.36 acres). Farming is, for all intents and purposes, organic but not certified as such. Manually harvested, gently pressed, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in large old oak barrels. Bottled in the fall of 1999. In a typical year, about 1,000 bottles of this wine are made. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Fourteen years old and probably at peak. A noseful of tertiary aromas including petrol, tarragon, caramel and peppermint. Smooth and dry in the mouth with just enough acidity and lots of ripe, soft fruit. Quartz and caramel thread through the very long finish. A good, not great vintage but a lovely, complex wine and an excellent price for a one-and-a-half-decade-old grand cru. (Buy again? Yes, for drinking in the short term.)

(Flight: 3/9)

Written by carswell

November 26, 2014 at 16:07