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Dufaitre trio

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Based in Saint-Étienne-des-Oullières, Laurence and Rémi Dufaitre began working their first hectare of vines in 2001, initially selling the fruit to the local co-op. They started making wine and bottling it under their own label in 2010. Today their holdings, which include the former Domaine de Botheland, total around 12 hectares, one of which is planted to Chardonnay. Inspired by Jules Chauvet and his disciples, especially Jean Foillard, the Dufaitres use organically farmed grapes that undergo carbonic maceration and are given long, naturally low-temperature fermentations with indigenous yeasts. Chaptalization, filtering and fining are strictly avoided. When used, sulphur dioxide is kept to a minimum.

Beaujolais Villages 2016, Prémices, Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre ($28.40, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from 35-year-old vines grown in the granite, sand and gravel soil of a plot named Prémices. Carbonic maceration lasted 16 days. Fermented and matured in concrete tanks. No added sulphur. Bottled in February 2017. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Cherry, red berries and vine sap with background slate and ink. Fresh and light on the palate, with lovely ripe fruit, bright acidity and light, caressing tannins. Ripe-sweet upfront, drying on the long, savoury, spicy finish with its lingering hint of stem. Straightforward but far from simple, a wine of great purity and finesse. A second encounter, a bottle drunk on its own at dinner, impressed me even more; tasting double-blind and fooled by its raspberry-leaning fruit and peppery spice, I guessed it was carbonic-macerated Grenache. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Brouilly 2016, Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre ($34.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from 60- to 65-year-old vines rooted in granite and volcanic soil. Carbonic maceration lasted 18 days. Fermented in concrete tanks. Matured in old 200-litre oak barrels. Bottled in March 2017. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Earthy nose, the fruit overtoned with old wood, spice and a hint of barnyard. In the mouth, the wine is a bit more intense – a bit less vin plaisir – than the Prémices though still on the lighter side of medium-bodied. Veils of fruit, great minerality, buoyant acidity and light tannins hold the attention. As Theo notes, there’s a lovely “clarity [that] comes in the middle of the mouth.” The longest of the three. (Buy again? Yes, though not necessarily in preference to the Côte de Brouilly.)

Côte de Brouilly 2016, Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre ($36.50, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from 50- to 70-year-old vines rooted in granite and volcanic soil. Carbonic maceration lasted 18 days. Fermented in concrete tanks. Matured in used Burgundy barrels. Bottled in March 2017, a month earlier than usual. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
A nose similar to the Brouilly’s but deeper, more complex and savoury, with mushroom creeping in and the spice taking on Asian overtones. A medium-bodied mouthful of rich yet crunchy fruit and slate. Finely structured by sleek acidity and supple yet resilient tannins. So pure and elegant, this complete and balanced wine is delicious now but has the wherewithal to age for several years. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG November 10th tasting: flight 3 of 5


Written by carswell

January 31, 2018 at 12:31


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Juliénas 2016, Rézin Collection, Lapierre + Pacalet Cousins ($29.90, 13286802)
Christophe Pacalet and Mathieu Lapierre are cousins (who knew?) and this is, as far as I know, their first joint effort. 100% Gamay from organically farmed 70-year-old vines rooted in the granite and schist of a single parcle on the Côte de Bessay. Vinified in the traditional Beaujolais manner, using carbonic maceration for 30 days. Matured in 228-litre French oak barrels for six months. No added anything, including yeasts and sulphur. Reducing sugar: 2.6 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Those who pour the first glasses from the bottle complain of an off-putting aroma but, getting around to it 20 or 30 minutes later, I detect nothing of the sort. Instead, a classic if rich Gamay nose of sappy, ripe red berries with a noticeable mineral streak and that typical floral note reminiscent of peonies. In the mouth, the wine is juicy, dense with fruit yet light on its feet. Bright acidity lends just a hint of tartness and the tannins are sleek and pliable. There’s a slatey backdrop but no greenness. Finishes long, clean and lip-smackingly. Wow. Not as obviously structured (and ageable?) as some Juliénases but great for drinking now and over the next few years. Actually, I’d have a hard time keeping my hands off any bottles in my possession. (Buy again? Def.)

Written by carswell

September 7, 2017 at 11:42

Morgon, Morgon, not Morgon

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Morgon 2014, Côte de Py, Jean Foillard ($41.09, private import, 12 b/c)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines between ten and 90 years old and grown in manganese-rich schist and granite. Manually harvested. Whole-cluster fermentation lasts three to four weeks. Matured six to nine moths in used oak barrels. No additives of any kind during the wine-making. Unfiltered and unfined. A minimal amount of sulphur dioxide may be added at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Aromatic, very Gamay nose: slate, “dried leaves” (per another taster), floral notes and a whiff of earthy funkiness along with the expected red berries. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. A touch of sweet red chile savouries the lush fruit. The frame of light tannins, the illuminating acidity and a vein of dark minerals run from start through the nicely sustained finish. Accessible if somewhat monolithic at this stage, it showed best at the end of the tasting, four hours after it was opened and double-decanted. A couple of years or more in the cellar will do a world of good. (Buy again? Done!)

Morgon 2014, Cuvée Corcelette, Jean Foillard ($38.75, 12201643)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines averaging 80 years old and grown in sandstone soil. Manually harvested. Whole-cluster fermentation lasts three to four weeks. Matured six to nine moths in used oak barrels and a single 30-hl foudre. No additives of any kind during the wine-making. Unfiltered and unfined. A minimal amount of sulphur dioxide may be added at bottling. Reducing sugar: less than 1.2 g/l. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Nose of red berries, faint spice, horse/leather: similar to the Côte de Py though a shade less complex, outgoing and airy. So fresh, pure, savoury and delicious. Ripe fruit, good structure and length, with the minerals most prominent on the finish. Perhaps a little less dense, more rustic and more open than its sibling though also sure to benefit from being left unopened for a year or three. Is there a better Beaujolais at the SAQ? (Buy again? Yes.)

After we’d finished with the Foillards, one of tasters generously offered to open a new arrival he had purchased on his way to the tasting room. I wondered whether its coming after two top Morgons might show it to disadvantage but I needn’t have worried.

Vin de France 2015, Le P’tit Poquelin, Maison B. Perraud ($22.70, 12517998)
100% Gamay from biodynamically farmed 40-year-old vines. Manually harvested. The whole clusters undergo carbonic maceration for 12 days. No additives, including sulphur. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Raisonnance.
Appealing nose: floral, slate, berries, sap. A bit of spritz on the palate (carafe the wine for hour an hour if that sort of thing bothers you). On the lighter side of medium-bodied. The sweet fruit has a sour edge and is lightly structured by fine, supple tannins and glowing acidity. Sappy, lip-smacking finish. An easy-drinker with real presence. What it lacks in dimensionality and class compared with the Foillards, it makes up for in immediate appeal. The most successful of the three vintages of this wine that I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 5 of 7

Cambon bonbon

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Beaujolais 2014, Château Cambon ($45.00/1500 ml, private import)
100% Gamay from organically farmed old vines in a vineyard located between Morgon and Brouilly. The grapes are manually harvested and the various parcels are vinified separately. Carbonic maceration takes place in enamel-lined tanks. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and with or without pump-overs, as decided by the winemaker. The wine is transferred to very old foudres for maturation on its lees. After settling, the cloudy part of the wine is lightly filtered. Unfined and bottled with little or no added sulphur. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Red currant, strawberry, and vine sap against a mineral backdrop. Classic if hefty for a simple Beaujolais. Deliciously ripe and juicy fruit upfront and a little earth in back. Silky texture and light but solid structure (fresh acidity, supple tannins) with just enough bite. The tangy finish leaves you thirsty for another sip. Compared with other Lapierre wines, Cambon can sometimes seem earthbound; this eminently drinkable 2014 is excellent, however, and – appellation oblige – delivers great QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)

Standard 750 ml bottles the wine can be found at the SAQ: $21.65, 12454991. Magnums are also slated to go on sale at the monopoly in September at $49.50 a shot (blame the lousy exchange rate).

MWG March 12th tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

April 8, 2016 at 12:32

Descombes fils vs. Thévenet fils

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Kewin “Kéké” Descombes is the son of renowned winemaker Georges Descombes and half-brother of Damien Coquelet. He made his first wine under his own name in 2013, when he was 21. His approach is similar to his father’s (organic farming, semi-carbonic maceration, indigenous yeasts, minimal or no sulphur). The wines appear to be popular in Japan. The three we tasted are currently sold out in Quebec though a second shipment is expected this spring.

Son of Jean-Paul Thévenet, one of the “Gang of Four” winemakers who spearheaded the natural Beaujolais movement, young Charly Thévenet worked at his father’s and Marcel Lapierre’s wineries before acquiring a parcel of old Gamy vines in Régnié. His first vintage was the 2007.

Beaujolais Villages 2014, Cuvée Kéké, Kewin Descombes ($25.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines grown in sandy soil in a 1.2-hectare vineyard in the commune of Corcelles. Fermentation lasted 15 days. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Textbook Beaujo nose: red berries, vine sap, earth, hints of game and iodine. Clean and quite dry. Light-bodied and not particularly deep – true to type, wot? – but wonderfully pure. The ripe fruit is laced with slate and stems. Fluent acidity keeps things fresh and adds a tang to the finish that calls you back for another sip. (Buy again? Sure.)

Morgon 2014, Jeunes Vignes, Kewin Descombes ($27.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Funky nose (the wine should have been carafed) of barnyard and burnt match but also red berries, peony and umami. Denser and fruitier than the Kéké. Very clean and dry with a stemmy structure, nipping acidity and a long granitic finish. Good now and probably even better in a year or three. For many around the table, the sweet spot in the KD line-up. (Buy again? Yes.)

Morgon 2013, Vieilles Vignes, Kewin Descombes ($36.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from organically farmed vines. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Closed and darker nose of red and black berries and slate with violet and kirsch overtones and a hint of caramel. Weighty and somewhat monolithic in the mouth. The components – including firm tannins – are all there but only just beginning to integrate. Struggling to find a descriptor of the flavour, I ended up with sukiyaki – a reference to the wine’s meatiness and umaminess. As broad, deep and long as it is inscrutable, this divided the table, with some calling it over-ambitious and others feeling it needs time. I’m in the latter camp, as I found the wine stylistically similar to the Morgons of Descombes père, which often require five or more years to coalesce and uncoil. (Buy again? A bottle or two for the cellar.)

Régnié 2014, Grain et Granit, Charly Thévenet ($35.00, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Gamay from 80-year-old biodynamically farmed vines grown in a 3 ha vineyard with granite soil. The grapes are manually harvested as late as possible and aggressively sorted, the idea being to have very ripe and impeccably clean fruit. The clusters are fermented whole with indigenous yeasts. The wine is matured on its lees in neutral Burgundy barrels. No filtering or fining. Use of sulphur dioxide is kept to a minimum. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux caves.
Gorgeous wafting nose of wild strawberries, foliage, slate and peony. Medium-bodied. Pure, bright fruit and a little sap, silky tannins, fresh acidity and a fine mineral backbone. Earthy depth and a hint of herbaceousness are there if you force yourself to stop obsessing over the fruit and look for them. Long, balanced and abuzz with energy. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG February 11th tasting: flight 3 of 6

Written by carswell

March 1, 2016 at 00:46

L’autour d’Anne Paillet

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Anne Paillet is married to Greg Leclerc. In 2010, she decided to abandon her corporate career and become a natural winemaker. Wanting to make wines different from Leclerc’s, she has leased 2.5 hectares of biodynamically farmed vines from Languedoc winemaker Christophe Beau (Domaine Beauthorey in the Pic Saint-Loup region). Harvesting is manual and the grapes are vinified naturally, in concrete tanks with no added anything, in the Languedoc. Wanting to make wines different from your everyday Languedocs, she transports the just-fermented juice to Leclerc’s cellars in the Loire for malolactic fermentation, maturation, blending and bottling with no fining, filtering or added sulphur.

Depending on the date on which the wine leaves the Languedoc, it is labelled Coteaux du Languedoc or Vin de France. To avoid red tape and confusion, Paillet is reportedly planning to opt exclusively for the Vin de France designation in future vintages.

Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, C.S.G., Autour de l’Anne ($27.71, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Syrah and Grenache with a little Cinsault thrown in. The 40- to 60-yar-old vines are rooted in limestone and red clay. The grapes are vinified separately in tanks, with alcoholic fermentation typically lasting 12 to 14 days. Maturation in concrete tanks lasts 12 months. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Engaging nose of red and black fruit with hints of spice and faint burnt rubber. Medium-bodied, dry and savoury, with clean fruit and bright acidity. Fundamentally fluid and supple though not lacking tannic grit. The finish is long and minerally. As Loire-ish and it is Languedoc-ish, this is a wonderfully drinkable wine. What’s more, a few bottles remain available. (Buy again? Done!)

Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, Pot d’Anne, Autour de l’Anne ($55.47/1500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
The cuvée’s name, which translates as “Anne’s pot,” is a homonym of peau d’âne (donkey skin). 100% Cinsault from 20-year-old vines grown on limestone and red clay. Half the grapes are destemmed, the other half left as whole clusters. Semi-carbonic maceration in concrete tanks lasts 12 days. Maturation in concrete tanks lasts 12 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Pretty, perfumy nose of red and black fruit, including berries, overtoned with flowers, sawed wood and spice. Barely medium-bodied. The lightly juicy fruit is fresh and fluid, structured by supple tannins. Finishes long and clean. So, so drinkable. (Buy again? Moot but yes.)

At the second tasting, someone asked why the wines were so Loire-like. Could the fact that they were fermented with native yeasts explain it? Probably not, as the wines didn’t leave the Languedoc until alcoholic fermentation was completed. On the other hand, malolactic fermentation took place in the Loire, so indigenous bacteria could be a factor (though wouldn’t the wines also bring some Languedoc microflora with them?). To my mind, Max Campbell’s theory that the difference is due to the cooler temperatures of the Loire cellars seems more realistic.

As mentioned earlier, both tastings were followed by a light meal of salads, charcuterie and cheese. As the tail ends of the Deux Caves bottles were insufficient to slake the collective thirst, a few other wines were uncorked (gratitude to all who supplied them). I stopped taking notes at that point but wanted to mention four in passing.

Damien Coquelet’s Beaujolais-Villages “Fou du Beaujo” has long been a Mo’ Wine Group favourite. At the second tasting, the 2012 ($22.43, private import, La QV/Insolite, NLA) and 2014 ($19.20, 12604080) were served side by side. The 2012 was a thing of beauty: vibrant, fruity, sappy, fluid, lip-smacking. The 2014 seemed a little harder and less smiling, though whether that’s a function of the vintage, the age, this particular bottle or the filtering and/or sulphuring possibly required by the SAQ is anybody’s guess.

The Valle del Maule 2014, Pipeño, Collection Rézin, Louis-Antoine Luyt ($18.15, 12511887) is a lovable, natural Chilean wine made entirely using purchased País grapes from organcially farmed vines about a century and a half old. (Luyt buys the grapes – at fair trade prices – from his pickers, one of whose photograph appears on the label.) Fragrant and fruity, ripe and juicy, light and fresh, with frisky acidity, very soft tannins, a disarming rusticity and a quaffability quotient that’s off the charts. I’ve drunk more of this wine than any other this year and it was interesting to hear others who were just discovering it planning to buy cases the next time it rolls around.

The 2001 Château Coutet is a classic Barsac that’s showing beautifully. Rich but not heavy (good acidity), sweet but not saccharine. The complex flavours and aromatics are dominated by stone fruit and botrytis. The finish lasts for minutes. A deluxe end to a most enjoyable evening.

MWG September 27th tastings: flight 3 of 3

Lastly, here’s a link to another, much less tardy report on the tasting – one from which some of the earlier-cited technical information about Xavier Marchais comes – that was posted on the Quebec-based wine discussion board Fou du vin by a new and welcome addition to the Mo’ Wine Group. Du beau travail, Raisin Breton !

A quaffability quotient about as high as it gets

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Morgon 2013, Jean Foillard ($27.40, 11964788)
This is the so-called Classique bottling, though the word appears nowhere on the label. 100% organically farmed Gamay. The manually harvested whole clusters undergo carbonic maceration at 4 to 7°C and fermentation with no added sulphur or yeasts for three to four weeks. The wine is matured in tanks for four to five months. Filtering? None or very light. Bottled with a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide for stability’s sake. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Delightfully fragrant nose: strawberry, cranberry, leafmould, spice, slate. Smooth and supple in the mouth. Medium weight, medium intensity. The sweet, silky-textured fruit with its floral overtones couldn’t be more pristine. Smooth acidity and featherweight tannins tannins lightly structure. The long finish ends on a faint astringent note. Such perfect balance. Not as deep or rich as some Morgons, including Foillard’s own Côte du Py, but the quaffability quotient is about as high as it gets. (Buy again? Yes!)

Written by carswell

June 3, 2015 at 12:27