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Posts Tagged ‘biodynamic

So similar, so different

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Stellenbosch 2014, Chenin Blanc, Organic, Reyneke ($26.60, 13123608)
100% Chenin Blanc from biodyanmically farmed vines around 45 years old and rooted in granitic loam over clay. Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. The must was allowed to settle then fermented with indigenous yeasts in 300-litre second-fill French oak barrels and a 2,500-litre foudre. Matured on its lees for 10 months then racked into a stainless steel tank for another month. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Univins.
Intriguing, even mysterious nose of white spice, chalk, lemon, roasted white meat and “garum.” In the mouth, it’s round from start to finish, honeyed yet dry, packed with ripe fruit and minerals. A stream of acidity adds backbone and life. Faint bitter saline notes mark the nicely sustained finish. One of those wines that seems as Old World as New, this had several fans around the table. While I found it a little two-dimensional, especially in comparison to its flightmate, I’ll readily admit those dimensions are lovely. (Buy again? Sure.)

Jasnières 2015, Sec, Domaine de la Roche Bleue ($27.90, 12856228)
100% Chenin Blanc from organically farmed 10- to 25-year-old vines planted in clayey, flinty topsoil over a limestone base. Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. The must was allowed to settle, then fermented (slowly due to the cool cellar temperatures) with indigenous yeasts, 60% in fourth- to sixth-fill barrels (wine from older vines) and 40% in stainless steel tanks (wine from younger vines). Matured four months in sixth-fill barrels. Reducing sugar: 3.0 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.
Complex, winey nose of linden flowers, “sake,” quince, lime and, eventually honey. Sleek and spicy on the palate, alive with acidity. The tart fruit (citrus and stone mainly) is dusted with chalk and gunflint. Sugar levels notwithstanding, this seems significantly drier – not to mention leaner, more crystalline and better delineated – than the Reyneke. Pure, long and delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 3 of 6

Written by carswell

June 20, 2017 at 12:12

Hit and miss

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Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine Désiré Petit ($24.00, 12399717)
100% Pinot Noir from vines averaging 20 years old and rooted in calcareous topsoil over red marl. Sparkled using the traditional method. Reducing sugar: 12 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Tannins.
Engaging nose dominated by cherry and almond. Softly effervescent. Dry. Fruity attack, savoury mid-palate. Lots of minerals. Crisp acidity adds cut and freshness. Spice and “pink grapefruit pith” mark the fair finish. Parabolic in that it got better as it breathed but then became a little one-note as it warmed. That said, this would make a fine starter at a backyard barbecue and you could keep going with it if you had some salmon on the grill. (Buy again? Sure.)

Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine André et Mireille Tissot ($30.75, 13236670)
Pinot Noir (50%), Poulsard (25%) and Trousseau (25%) from biodynamically farmed vines around a quarter of a century old and rooted in clay and limestone. Half the grapes were direct pressed, the other half pressed after a short maceration. Fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. Once malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine was bottled and sparkled using the traditional method. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: LVAB.
Yeasty/briochey nose of red berries, yellow plum and, a bit disconcertingly, “ketchup maison.” Very dry on the palate (I suspect this may be a zero dosage sparkler). Fine effervescence with bubbles one taster describes as “crunchy.” Minerals galore, peekaboo strawberry and soft but sufficient acidity. Sadly, all that takes a backseat to an overwhelming bitterness. Improved slightly with time in the glass, though never enough to win over a single taster. Tissot is one of our favourite Jura producers and this was the first Tissot rosé any of us had tasted, so the letdown was huge. Didn’t smell or taste like an off bottle. Just off the boat so maybe suffering from travel shock? (Buy again? Only to give it a second chance.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

June 12, 2017 at 13:06

Brand new and old

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The April 21st tasting featured wines represented in Quebec by Glou and was led by the agency’s prime mover, Jack Jacob. We started with a flight of four fine Alsatians.

Created in 1950 and based in Ergersheim, Domaine Brand sits in the middle of La Couronne d’or, a swath of vineyards stretching from Strasbourg to Marienheim. The estate’s 10 hectares of vineyards are in the communes of Ergersheim, Osthoffen and Wolxheim. Farming has been organic since 2001 and certified biodynamic (Demeter) since 2015.

Current winemaker Philippe Brand took the helm in 2008, following stints at Domaine de Montchovet in Burgundy and wineries in the Peloponnese (Greece) and Barossa Valley (Australia). He soon imposed a regime of non-interventionist wine-making where the only additive, if any, is small amounts of sulphur dioxide. The estate makes a separate line of unsulphured natural wines under the Apollinaire moniker whose labels feature calligrams by the eponymous artist.

Alsace 2013, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($33.06, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Gold bronze to the eye. Complex nose of apple, pear and chalk with hints of petrol and “Meyer lemon” (quoting another taster). Rich but not heavy in the mouth, the fruit tending toward baked apple. Dry and very minerally. The combination of acidity and minerals lends an almost “tannic bite” to the long finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Alsace 2015, La Chimère, Charles et Philippe Brand ($34.76, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinarie wines. 100% Riesling from the Osthoffen vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Paler. Faintly funky nose of white flowers, lemon peel, flint, barley sugar and a pungent note some described as bubble gum and others as camphor. A bit spritzy on the palate. Less rich and extracted, more crystalline than the Kefferberg. Bone dry (0.5 g/l residual sugar). Lingering green mango. I like. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace 2015, Fleurs, Charles et Philippe Brand ($37.64, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinaire wines. 80% Pinot Gris, 20% Riesling. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Residual sugar: 1.0 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Engaging nose of white peach, white spice and slate with honey and lactic notes. Very dry yet with an “implied sweetness.” Buoyant acidity. Faint spritz. Pearish with bergamot overtones. Mineral-rich. Long bitter-edged finish. Complex. Impressive. (Buy again? Gladly. And I’m really looking forward to trying the orange version.)

Alsace 1999, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($56.34, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
A deep bronze colour approaching that of iced tea. Complex, unfathomable nose: dried apple, brown sugar, smoke, hints of petrol and “spicy green” or “dried mint” and more. Equally complex in the mouth, the flavours echoing the nose and resonating on their own. Super dry. Smooth acidity. Considerable depth. Endless finish with, once again, a hint of something camphor-like. The price is more than reasonable for a wine of this age and quality. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 1 of 6

Stone wine

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Robola de Céphalonie 2015, Vino di Sasso, Domaine Sclavos ($26.95, 12485877)
100% Robola from organically and biodynamically farmed, ungrafted old vines on the Ionian island of Cephalonia. Vino di sasso means “wine of stone,” a reference to the island’s rocky cliffs and outcrops and the vineyard, composed mainly of calcerous pebbles at an elevation ranging up to 850 metres. The manually harvested grapes are directly pressed. The must is fermented at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts and matured eight months on the lees. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with only a tiny squirt of sulphur dioxide. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.

Limestone dust, dried hay, yellow apple, faint peach, dried herbs, almonds and smoke. A striking combination of minerality and richness. Bone dry. Seems built around an acid-mineral core. A saline current runs under the ethereal orchard fruit and tangs the long, fruity, almondy, smoky finish. A unique, fascinating wine, more enigmatic and involving than the 2014. The price of admission is more than fair. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to cellar for a year or two.)

Written by carswell

May 22, 2017 at 12:42

Just in time for asparagus season

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Wachau 2014, Grüner Veltliner, Terrassen, Nikolaihof ($21.65, 13166181)
Austria’s oldest estate and one of its most storied. This is the first Nikolaihof wine to be sold at the SAQ. 100% Grüner Veltliner from organically and biodynamically farmed estate vines between 10 and 45 years old planted in the Wachau on the south shore of the Danube. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Alcoholic fermentation and three months’ maturation on the lees took place in very large barrels. Malolactic fermentation was avoided. The wine was later matured in tanks before being lightly filtered (but not fined) and bottled. The only addition was a squirt of sulphur dioxide at bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 3.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

Textbook nose: white pepper, stone, lime (fruit and pith), herb salad, turned earth, sea brine and the faintest hint of honey. Texture somewhere between waxy and buttery. Savoury and quite dry. The fruit and greens are swirled with an intense minerality (quartz, saline). The pervasive acidity is softened by the not inconsiderable extract. The long finish brings a white pepper note and a Szechuan pepper numbingness. Not as crystalline, layered, dimensional or commanding as a top GV but punching well above its weight. A natural with river fish and white meats accompanied by cabbage and, like many GVs, unfazed by asparagus. (Buy again? Yes, though unfortunately there’s not much left in the system.)

Written by carswell

May 16, 2017 at 12:58

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

Busch babies

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Based in Pünderich on the banks of the Mosel River, Clemens Busch took over his family winery in 1984. Starting with the original two hectares, he has expanded the estate’s holdings to 25 hectares, mostly in the 1980s by buying vertiginously steep, hard-to-work vineyards from neighbours who abandoned them to plant faddish Pinot Noir on the much flatter plains above the slopes. Sixteen of the hectares are in the Pünderich Marienburg vineyard, south-facing and considered one of the top Mosel sites. Though a 1971 law consolidated all the hillside’s parcels under the Marienburg name, Busch vinifies them on a parcel by parcel basis and bottles his top cuvées under the original names.

The farming is organic (since 1986) and biodynamic (since 2004). The wine-making is non-interventionist, with no fining and nothing added except a small squirt of sulphur dioxide at bottling for most cuvées. Most of the wines are dry, though small quantities of sweet and botrytized wines are also made.

The estate’s website features some impressive, full-screen photographs of the vineyards and winery.

Mosel 2015, Riesling, (alter)native, Clemens Busch ($32.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
This is an unfiltered, low-sulphur bottling. Nearly the entire production goes to Quebec, though a little also makes its way to New York and Japan. 100% organically and biodynamically farmed Riesling from the Marienburg vineyard. Manually harvested. Macerated 12 to 24 hours on the skins. Spontaneous fermentation lasted until the end of December. Matured 15 months on the lees with no stirring in large (1,000-litre), old (50 years) wooden barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny amount of sulphur was added at bottling. Residual sugar: under 4 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Hazy to the eye. The nose elicits descriptors like “pear cider,” “blanche-ish,” bread dough and lemon apples. Mouth-filling, bone dry and clean, with a slightly chewy texture and acidity that’s more puckery than crisp. Apple and mineral flavours last through the long finish. Fuzzier than – not as precise or delineated as – its flightmate and not a traditional Mosel Riesling by any means, but on its own terms it absolutely works. (Buy again? Yes.)

Ordered at Marconi a couple of nights after the tasting, a glass of the Mosel 2015, Riesling Trocken, LS, Clemens Busch (ca. $32.00, private import, 6 bottles/case) – the LS (or <s on at least some labels) stands for “low sulphur” and the wine contains only about a third of the already low amount of sulphur dioxide used in the regular bottlings – was in many ways similar to the (alter)native but clearer and a little more focused if also slightly more conventional. It elicited an “Oh, wow” from my Riesling-loving dining companions, whose first Busch wine it was.

Mosel 2015, Riesling, Marienburg GG, Clemens Busch ($61.34, private import, 3 bottles/case)
100% organically and biodynamically farmed Riesling from 25- to 60-year-old vines rooted in the grey slate section of the original Marienburg vineyard. Manually harvested in late October and early November. Macerated 12 to 24 hours on the skins. Spontaneous fermentation. Matured 12 months on the lees with no stirring in large (1,000-litre), old (50 years) wooden barrels. The barrels are not topped-up for the first month to encourage a little oxidative complexity. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny amount of sulphur was added on bottling. Residual sugar: under 6 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Classic Mosel nose of green apple, lime, slate and a touch of petrol. In the mouth, it’s astoundingly pure, focused, complex and balanced. Bone dry but with compensating fruit and layered minerals that, in combination with the lithe acidity, give the wine a strong though not rigid backbone. Very long. Doesn’t stop evolving in the glass, pointing to a long ageing potential (five to 20 years per Ward’s Alex Boily). A complete and beautiful wine. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

The GG stands for Großes Gewächs (“great growth”), an unofficial designation for top-level dry wines from selected sites that is increasingly used in the Mosel by the members of the Bernkasteler Ring and elsewhere (except the Rheingau) by the members of the VDP growers’ association. Busch makes four GG cuvées: the Marienburg, Marienburg Rothenpfad, Marienburg Fahrlay and Marienburg Falkenlay.

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

April 24, 2017 at 14:15