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Posts Tagged ‘Bordeaux

Francs et graves

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Côtes de Bordeaux Francs 2014, Emilien, Château le Puy ($28.15, 00709469)
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère (typically 85%, 14% and 1% respectively) from biodynamically and organically farmed 50-year-old vines. The grapes are fully destemmed. Fermentation in open, temperature-controlled vats with indigenous yeasts and no chaptalization lasts two to four weeks. Matured 14 months in large foudres and 11 months in third- to fifth-fill oak casks. Bottled unfiltered with only a small dose of sulphur. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. A few 500 ml bottles of the 2012 can also be found ($20.75, 00896399). Quebec agent: A.O.C.
Intriguing nose that gets the aroma-namers going: plum, “edamame,” “nigella,” “pickled turnip juice.” Medium-bodied. The pure fruit and graphite underlay are nicely structured by fine, firm tannins and bright acidity. Finishes long and clean with faint notes of tobacco and spice. This perennial favourite is true to form in 2014: a savoury, refreshing, eminently drinkable wine that everybody always enjoys. The QPR is high on this one. (Buy again? Yep.)

Graves 2015, Clos 19 Bis/Vincent Quirac ($31.05, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the late 2000s, the tiny (1.5 hectare) estate makes a Sauternes and a red Graves. The latter is a blend of Merlot (around 50%), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old and rooted in gravelly soil over a clayey-calcareous base. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified separately. The Merlot is cold-macerated before fermentation for a week, the Cabernets are directly fermented. Fermentation at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts, punch-downs and pour-overs (using buckets, not pumps) lasts 10 days. The wine is then left on it skins for another eight to 10 days. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vini-Vins.
Cherry, cassis, “cocoa powder and ashes” and a strong whiff of volatile acidity. Quite disjointed in the mouth, with a harsh verging on acrid note, a problem that airing and swirling didn’t resolve. Bears little resemblance to the fresh, clean, juicy-fruited, mineral-laden, roundly structured, medium-bodied wine enjoyed a few days earlier. Clearly defective and, as such, a disappointment. (Buy again? Based on the earlier bottle, yes.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

August 9, 2017 at 15:22

Odds and ends

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The tasting technically ended with the preceding flight. But, as noted earlier, Steve is irrepressible. So when the Chocalán prompted someone to inquire about the reds from a Chilean producer in Rézin’s portfolio, Steve excused himself and reappeared a few minutes later with a bottle of one of those reds as well as a couple of newly arrived private imports.

Named after one of Montreal’s more dynamic young chefs, the Valle del Maule 2013, Cuvée Charles-Antoine, Louis-Antoine Luyt ($73.15/1500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) and Carignan (45%) from 70-year-old vines growing in the commune of Cauquenes. The grape varieties were vinified separately and matured five months in stainless steel tanks. 15% ABV. The complex nose of cassis, plum and savoury herbs comes with a musky/horsey note. In the mouth, the wine is rich and glyceriny yet fluid, heady but not hot. Finely structured by firm but far from rigid tannins and bright acidity, the ripe-sweet fruit is overtoned with red pepper and spice while the finish is long, clean and minerally. (Buy again? Sure.)

The Bordeaux 2014, Château de Bellevue ($28.72, private import, 6 bottles/case) is 100% Sauvignon Gris from a 1.5 ha plot of organically farmed vines averaging 35 years old and grown in the Lussac Saint-Émilion appellation. The manually harvested grapes were directly pressed. The must was fermented with indigenous yeasts and occasionally stirred during maturation on the lees. The unfiltered wine was bottled in early March 2015. 13% ABV. Classy nose of ripe white fruit with honey and anise notes. Lively and refreshing in the mouth, the fruit remarkably clean and pure. Minerals and citrus mark the long finish. A delight. (Buy again? Yes.)

And lastly, a red from the maker of the Montlouis we enjoyed earlier in the tasting: Chinon 2014, Le Dolmen, Jaulin Plaisantin ($21.30, private import, 12 bottles/case). The fruit for this 100% Cabernet Franc comes from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Gently pressed, macerated, fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured on the fine lees for six months in concrete tanks. The only additive is a tiny squirt of sulphur (20 mg/l) at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Lovely nose of red and black berries, spice, earth and a faint herbaceousness. A sip tells you this is Chinon done in a highly drinkable style: forward fruit, bright acidity, lightly astringent tannins and a clean, minerally finish. Seems a bit hollow on the mid-palate though both Steve and I think that’s a passing phase. Lightly chilled, this will be a great summer sipper. (Buy again? A refreshing, organic, private import Chinon for a shade over $21? Yes!)

Rézin is the Quebec agent for all three wines.

MWG March 12th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

April 19, 2016 at 14:43

New year, new sparklers

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In reaction to the excesses of the holiday season, the Mo’ Wine Group’s January tasting traditionally focuses on affordable wines and 2016 was no exception. All the bottles were purchased at the SAQ and most if not all are still available, though not always in large quantities.

Cava, Brut, La Vida al Camp ($19.50, 12693895)
A blend of purchased Macabeo (45%), Xarel·lo (45%) and Parellada (10%) grapes from organically farmed vines grown by a select group of farmers. Made using the traditional method. Second fermentation, which produces the bubbles, takes place in the bottles, which are aged at least 15 months before disgorging. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand des Vins.
Subdued but appealing nose of sandstone, white lemon and, as one taster perceptively noted, “almond.” Fine effervescence but little foam. On the palate, it’s clean, fresh and quite dry. The light citrus and mineral flavours are joined by faint saline and grapefruit pith notes on the medium-long finish. Elegant and, unlike many inexpensive bubblies, not devoid of character. If there’s a better cava at the SAQ at this price point, I’ve yet to encounter it. (Buy again? Yes.)

Crémant de Bordeaux, Brut, Paulian, Lateyron ($21.95, 12723003)
Sémillon (60%) and Cabernet Franc (40%) from vineyards in the northern and eastern Entre-Deux-Mers region. Made using the traditional method. The bottles are aged at least 24 months before disgorement. Reducing sugar: 12 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Marchand des Amériques.
Somewhat more fragrant than its Spanish flightmate; the faintly floral aromas have an intriguing sour edge. Softly effervescent with fine bubbles that lighten the slightly waxy texture. Richer and rounder than the cava – probably due to the grape varieties involved, the extract levels and higher residual sugar – but still dry and fresh. The fruit tends to quince and maybe peach and lingers through the slow-fade finish. Not everyone around the table was convinced by this (“tastes like cream soda,” harrumphed one taster) but I and several others liked it. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG January 14th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

January 20, 2016 at 15:41

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 !

Peaked and peaking

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To celebrate his impending marriage, a MWG member raided his cellar and generously treated the group to two 1990 St-Juliens. Thanks and congratulations, David!

Saint-Julien 1990, Château Lagrange
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Merlot (44%) and Petit Verdot (12%). Manually harvested. Maceration and fermentation of the various lots takes place in temperature-controlled (28°C) stainless steel vats ranging in size from 66 to 220 hl and lasts two to three weeks. The lots are selected, blended and matured in French oak barrels (60% new) for 21 months. Fined with egg whites and racked by candle light before bottling. 13% ABV.
Young to the eye for a 25-year-old wine: some fading at the rim but virtually no bricking. Effusive nose of cassis, graphite, red meat, “honeycomb,” modelling clay, cigar box and green pepper. Savoury and smooth, rich and elegant. The tannins are mostly resolved though the wine still has plenty of structure. Leather, stones, spice and wood (not oak) overtone the long finish. A complete wine. Classic Médoc, at or near peak.

Saint-Julien 1990, Château Léoville-Barton
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc; haven’t found the exact percentages used in 1990 but it’s usually something like 65%, 25% and 10% respectively. Current-day wine-making practices, which are probably not too dissimilar from those used a quarter of a century ago, are: manual harvesting; destemming, crushing and fermenting on a plot by plot basis in temperature-controlled wood vats; alcoholic fermentation lasting seven to 10 days with twice daily pump-overs; three week’s maceration on the skins; maturation in French oak barrels (50-70% new) for 16 to 18 months and topped up three times a week; fining in the barrels with fresh egg whites. 12.5% ABV.
Even less bricking than the Lagrange. The expected cassis is there but as a backdrop to beef chop suey, “tamarind,” chestnut honey and graphite. Smoothly structured with soft-glow acidity and round, resolving tannins that, as chewing reveals, still have an astringent bite. The fruit remains vibrant and the wine’s depth is not yet fully in evidence. Tobacco and cedar linger long. Darker and more umami-rich than a bottle opened a decade earlier, I think this needs another five or 10 years to peak. That said, I’m sure it’d be a here-now delight with a roasted leg of lamb.

MWG October 8th tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

October 25, 2015 at 15:03

Not exactly hot

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Pomerol 2010, Château Taillefer ($34.75, 11572231)
The estate is owned by the Bernard Moueix branch of the right bank clan and managed by Catherine Moueix with Denis Dubourdieu acting as oenologist. This is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc – usually about 75% to 25% – from vines averaging 30 years old. Destemmed before pressing. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled concrete vats; malolactic fermentation in concrete vats and French oak barrels; maturation, which lasts 15 months, in French oak barrels, 33% new. Fined with egg whites and filtered before bottling. 13% ABV per, 15% per the label (I’m inclined to believe the label). Quebec agent: SAQ.
Typical Pomerol aromas and flavours: red plum, black currants, blackberry, earth, oak in the form of wood, smoke and spice. In the mouth, it’s a middleweight with a glyceriny texture that’s brightened by moderate acidity. The tannins, also moderate, are smooth on the surface, firm underneath. The long finish isn’t exactly hot but plays out against a backdrop of gauzy alcohol. Approachable now but probably capable of ageing a decade. On the one hand, it could be deeper and a lot more exciting; on the other hand, it’s an under-$35 Pomerol. (Buy again? Meh.)

Written by carswell

September 15, 2014 at 15:49

Posted in Tasting notes

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Yet another wine that the Mo’ Wine Group used to order cases of when it was a private import has shown up at the SAQ. How cool would it be if the same producer’s fresh and delicious Sauternes, Château Roûmieu-Lacoste, joined it on the monopoly’s shelves?

Graves 2012, Château Graville Lacoste ($21.35, 12211358)
Sémillon (75%), Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and Muscadelle (5%) from vines between 45 and 50 years old. The vineyard’s microclimate is cooler than most in the area. The Sémillion is picked by hand, the Sauvignon Blanc by machine. The varieties are vinified separately and blended just before bottling. The wine sees only stainless steel. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts is at 18°C and lasts ten to 15 days. During maturation, the lees are stirred every three days until January. Racked and fined but not filtered. Bottled in the first half of the year following the vintage. About 85,000 bottles are produced. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Intriguing if discreet nose: melon, citrus zest, crushed limestone, whiffs of grass, flowers (honeysuckle?) and eventually white peach. Round and smooth on the attack, more so than in earlier vintages. Waxy textured. Not what you’d call fruit-forward but rich in extract. At the same time, there’s an ethereal quality to the fruit. Stealth acidity adds a sour edge and nips any incipient honey flavours in the bud. The Sauvignon, which in other vintages seemed to dominate the wine in its youth, is here apparent mostly on the long, dry and tart, chalk- and gooseberry-inflected finish. While the 2005 aged beautifully for the better part of a decade, this strikes me as a wine to drink in the next three or four years. In any case, you won’t find a better white Bordeaux for the price. And like the wine, the label is a model of elegance. (Buy again? Yes.)

Part of the September 4th Cellier release, the wine has already sold out at several Montreal area stores.

Written by carswell

September 6, 2014 at 13:16

Un Côtes de Francs franc de goût

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Bordeaux Côtes de Francs 2008, Château le Puy ($27.35, 00709469)
The estate makes several wines. This, the only one brought into Quebec, is the Emilien bottling, though that description appears nowhere on the front label. A blend of biodynamically and organically farmed Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère (85%, 14% and 1% respectively in typical vintages) from 50-year-old vines. The grapes are fully destemmed. Fermentation in open, temperature-controlled vats with indigenous yeasts and no chaptalization lasts two to four weeks. Matured 24 months, 60% of the time in large foudres and 40% of the time in third- to fifth-fill oak casks. Bottled unfiltered. 12.5% ABV. Also available in 500 ml bottles ($18.70, 00896399). Quebec agent: A.O.C. & cie Châteaux et Domaines.
Wafting nose of cassis and red fruit with faint herbs, spice and mushroom, a pianissimo floral note and, unlike some bottles, not a hint of barnyard. Medium-bodied and smooth textured. The bright fruit and supple tannins flow to the clean finish on a long stream of soft acidity. Less compelling than the 2005? If so, only a little. With all its elements integrated, this civilized, honest, eminently drinkable wine is approachable now but balanced and alive enough to continue developing for at least another five or maybe even ten years. Probably not the first choice for a grilled T-bone (look to Argentina for that), this would accompany braised meats, grilled veal chops or meat pies to perfection. It also made a synergistic match with za’atar hummus, picking up on the earthy, citrus and herb flavours in a most surprising way. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

June 18, 2014 at 16:31

First-rate second growth

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Sauternes 2008, Château Doisy-Védrines ($25.50/350 ml, 11843177)
A 2ième cru classé de Barsac (Barsac is one of five Sauternes communes; its AOC wines can be labelled Sauternes or Barsac at the producer’s discretion). Sémillon (80%), Sauvignon Blanc (17%) and Muscadelle (3%). Manually harvested in multiple passes through the vineyard. Gently pressed then fermented for three to four weeks in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. Matured 15 to 18 months in French oak barrels, around two-thirds of which are new. Filtered and fined before bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Classic nose: peach, citrus (orange? Meyer lemon?), hints of tropical fruit, honey, butterscotch, sweet oak and botrytis. Lush but not heavy, sweet but not cloying, in no small part due to the lively acidity. The fruit hasn’t totally lost its connection with the grape – not a given in Bordeaux’s sweet wines. Otherwise, the palate echoes the nose. A light wash of coconut and vanilla colours the long finish, which is blessedly free of the solvent notes that occasionally show up in Sauternes. Not as deep as some overachievers but with stuffing and balance enough to age for at least a decade. For now though, it’s delicious on its own and will surely accompany traditional pairings like Roquefort and foie gras to a T. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

February 22, 2014 at 20:03

Tricked out or treat

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Margaux 2009, Château Charmant ($42.25, 00868620)
Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc (20%). Destemmed. Cold soak is followed by “traditional” vinification: Fermentation with selected yeasts (Davis 522) in concrete vats at 28 to 30ºC for about 21 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in vats, after which the wine is transferred to oak barrels (25% new, 25% second fill, 50% second or third fill). 13.5% ABV.
Nose dominated by cassis and graphite. Plush and round on the palate. Dense, ripe fruit and a layer of sweet oak cushion the considerable tannic structure and acidity. Still quite primary. Broad and long, not so deep. Well made if modern in style. Probably fine with, say, a leg of lamb but, for now at least, a little heavy and cloying on its own. (Buy again? Probably not.)

IGT Toscana 2011, Guidalberto, Tenuta San Guido ($45.25, 10483384)
Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%). Fermented separately in in stainless steel tanks at 30 to 31ºC. Macerated 15 days. Spends 15 months in oak barrels, French and a few American. Bottle-aged an additional three months. 14% ABV.
Cherry, cassis, some background pencil lead and tobacco-ish herbs and a whack of spicy oak. Medium- to full-bodied. While ripe and radiant, the fruit is admirably restrained. The tannins are firm but sleek, not at all rebarbative. The acidity is fresh and energizing. Surprisingly, oak doesn’t dominate the clean, layered and persistent flavours. This elegant, balanced, beautifully proportioned wine is the best of the several vintages I’ve tasted and the only one potentially deserving of the oft-applied “baby Sassicaia” moniker. (Buy again? Yes.)

Both wines had been carafed for about six hours. On opening, the Guidalberto was reportedly tighter than a drum.

Written by carswell

October 31, 2013 at 20:42

Posted in Tasting notes

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