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Posts Tagged ‘Burgundy

Grand Cru

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Written and directed by MWG member David Eng, Grand Cru is a documentary film whose subject is winemaker Pascal Marchand.

Pascal Marchand, an aspiring poet from Montreal, arrived in the mythical land of Burgundy to work the harvest at age 21. Enchanted by the region, he settled there and embarked on an unlikely path to winemaking stardom. Now over 30 years later, he is renowned as an artist and innovator, finding his inspiration in the ancient techniques of the Cistercian monks who meticulously studied and refined Burgundy’s winemaking in the middle ages. Shot over his most difficult year ever, the catastrophic 2016 season which saw devastating frosts, hailstorms and disease in the vineyards, the film is both a love letter and a cautionary tale, as winemakers like Pascal must face the unpredictable and destructive consequences of climate change.

Grand Cru begins its Montreal theatrical run at Cinéma Beaubien this Friday, April 6, at 12:35 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 7:15 p.m. David and Katarina Soukup, the film’s producer, will be present for a Q&A session after the 7:15 screening. The run continues through Wednesday, April 11, with screenings every day at 12:35 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 9:25 p.m.

The film will also be shown at Cinéma Le Clap in Quebec City on April 6 (9:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.) as well as on April 21 and May 4 and 21. Further screenings are slated for Newport Beach (April 30 and May 3) and Toronto (May 11), the last with David and Katarina leading another Q&A (see the Grand Cru website for details).

In March, I attended an advance screening at the ITHQ. Besides the pleasure of meeting Pascal and watching the worthwhile film, we were provided with glasses of three wines from the Marchand-Tawse portfolio. You’ll find notes on them and a comment or two from Pascal after the jump.

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Written by carswell

April 5, 2018 at 11:56

Burgundy, (not) Burgundy

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Based in Bonnencontre, Domaine Bonardot is sometimes referred to as Domaine Ludovic Bonnardot to avoid confusion with the Domaine Bonnardot based in Villers-la-Faye. Ludovic has been in charge of the estate since 2005, when he took over from his mother, Élisabeth. She founded the business in 1981 after studying oenology and apprenticing with Jules Chauvet. Over the years, she became interested in more natural approaches to farming and wine-making, an interest Ludovic shares, and it is under his watch that the estate has begun converting to organic. The 15-hectare estate has two operations: centred in Santenay, the wine-growing focuses on Côte de Beaune and Hautes-Côtes de Beaune appellations, while blackcurrants, aspaagus and grains are grown in Bonnencontre.

(That charcuterie, which tasted even better than it looks, came from Phillip Viens.)

Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Beaune 2014, En Cheignot, Domaine Bonnardot ($34.21, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from a relatively high-altitude (440 m) parcel of 40-year-old substantially farmed vines near Orches. The soil is clay and limestone with pebbles and occasional rock outcrops. The grapes were manually harvested and the whole clusters direct-pressed. Spontaneously fermented in temperature-controlled conditions. Underwent spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Matured 12 months in 228-litre, fourth- to sixth-fill oak barrels and a further six months in stainless steel tanks. Clarified naturally, then lightly filtered before bottling with a small amount of sulphur dioxide (the only sulphur added during wine-making). 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Faint lemon and apple, minerals and distant cedary spice. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, lean and minerally, fresh and balanced. “You get rocks and chalk,” as one taster notes, along with nuances of yellow stone fruit and lemon. Clean, long and complete. A QPR winner, as far as I’m concerned. (Buy again? Def.)

Vin de France 2015, Les Grandes Terres, Ludovic et Émilien Bonnardot ($40.24, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from organically and biodynamically farmed vines in the Santenay-Villages appellation (am unsure why it is declassified). The whole-clusters are spontaneously fermented and pressed when fermentation/maceration are complete. The wine is transferred to oak barrels for 12-18 months’ maturation. This is from Bonnardot’s natural line, so no added anything, including sulphur, and no filtering or fining. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Lovely, complex, fruity nose with an appealing rustic edge: red berries, some spice, a hint of beet and a whiff of turned earth. Rich and velvety (“the texture is very thick”) on the palate, though still medium-bodied. The acidity is smooth, the tannins are round and both are well integrated; in short, everything’s in balance. Finishes long and clean with a lingering tang. While there’s lots happening on the surface, most notably a fruity denseness, you wouldn’t call the wine deep, at least at this stage in its development. And yet your interest is engaged and held. A here-now pleasure. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 22nd tasting: flight 3 of 5

All singing, all dreaming

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Based in Savigny-lès-Beaune, the husband and wife team of Guillaume Bott and Tomoko Kuriyama founded Chanterêves in 2010. Both have a background in wine-growing, with Guillaume having worked at Étienne Sauzet before becoming the winemaker at Domaine Bize and Tomoko having studied oenology in Geisenheim before working at Friedrich Altenkirch in the Rheingau. Although they use only purchased grapes, they have their own wine-making facilities and hope to acquire some plots of vines. Their cellar practices tend to the non-interventionist, with an increasing reliance on whole-cluster fermentations. All fermentations are spontaneous; new oak is limited to the top cuvées and never exceeds 33%; fining is avoided; and sulphur use is minimized.

Bourgogne Blanc 2014, Chanterêves ($34.49, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from organically and biodynamically farmed vines in a plot in the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, just behind Saint-Romain. Fermented and matured one year in older oak barrels. Underwent malolactic fermentation. No stirring. Lightly filtered before bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Fresh-cut apple and chalk with faint honey, oak and ash notes. Medium-bodied. The lemon-apple fruit, fresh acidity and mineral backbone are in prefect balance, providing texture, tension, structure and depth. A hint of caramel lingers. “Centred in the middle of the mouth” per one taster. Delicious. (Buy again? Moot but yes.)

Bourgogne Blanc 2015, Chanterêves ($35.07, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay. Vinification as for the 2014. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
More closed: subtle white flowers, minerals and eventually herbs and lemon fruit and pith. In the mouth, it’s a bit heftier, more minerally and, surprisingly, less fruity than the 2014. The acidity seems ramped up a bit too. While the effects of the hot vintage are apparent, the wine remains balanced and precise. “Centered in the front of the mouth” per the same taster, though I expect that may change as the wine ages, not that I’d recommend keeping it much beyond 2020. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bourgogne Rouge 2014, Chanterêves ($34.49, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from sustainably farmed parcels in Puligny-Montrachet and Paris-l’Hôpital (Maranges). This was Chanterêves’ first whole-cluster, nearly sulphurless cuvée. Given four weeks’ maceration in a wooden tank with no pump-overs but six post-fermentation punch-downs. Matured 10 months in older oak barrels. Racked once before bottling. Unfiltered. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Ça pinote: beet, sawed wood and background graphite gaining “blueberry pie filling” and Christmas spice notes. A light medium-bodied. Ripe but bone dry, leading one taster to describe it as “super lean.” Sleek tannins and acidity structure and enliven the ethereal fruit. The purity, balance and length are exceptional for a generic Burgundy. (Buy again? Moot but yes.)

Bourgogne Rouge 2015 Chanterêves ($35.07, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. Vinification as for the 2014 except slightly more sulphur dioxide was used at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Seems less effusive than the 2014: the difference a vintage makes? a year of in the bottle makes? Coaxing brings out red berries, spice and turned earth. On the palate, it’s richer and even more structured, with zingy acid, light but firm tannins and mineral depth. In a phrase, a lovely, lush-leaning Pinot Noir that will probably benefit from a couple of years in the cellar. Opinions were evenly divided as to which of the two reds was preferable. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 22nd tasting: flight 2 of 5

Written by carswell

March 27, 2018 at 12:30

Lumpps in our throats

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Givry Premier Cru 2015, A Vigne Rouge, Domaine François Lumpp ($58.75, 13366829)
100% Pinot Noir from a 2.45-hectare vineyard planted in the early 2000s. The soil is mainly limestone and clay. The farming is generally organic though synthetic products are sometimes used if warranted by the weather conditions. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Given five to 10 days’ cold maceration prior to fermentation, which takes place in stainless steel tanks with light punch-downs and lasts around three weeks. Matured in French oak barrels, around 70% of which are new. Racked and filtered before bottling. All wine-making operations are done according to the lunar calendar. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Réserve & Sélection.
Fairly closed nosed of cherry, slate, spicy oak and dried leaves; it’s very true to type though it doesn’t yet pinote (sing like only Pinot can do). Medium-bodied and satin-textured. The pure fruit seems more cranberry- than cherry-like, partly a function of the tart acidity. The fine tannins show not a trace of greenness. An earthy depth provides ballast that lasts well into the bitter cherry-inflected finish. The combination of richness, structure, energy and precision seems more like a Côte de Beaune’s. It’s a bit austere for now but probably won’t be in a couple of years. (Buy again? Yes.)

Givry Premier Cru 2015, Crausot, Domaine François Lumpp ($59.50, 13061857)
100% Pinot Noir from a 0.92-hectare vineyard planted in the early 1990s. The soil tends to limestone interspersed with fine marl. The wine-making is more or less as for the A Vigne Rouge. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Réserve & Sélection.
Even more closed and stemmy: oak, coconut and Christmas spice have the upper hand for now. In the mouth, it’s bigger, denser and even more primary. The beautifully pure fruit (mainly cherry) is overtoned with tea and brightened by acidity. The tannins are impressive but tight and unyielding from start through the long finish. “Dries your mouth right up,” notes one taster. Needs five or 10 years to knit together and open up. The $60 question: will the fruit still be vibrant when the tannins finally resolve? Probably but only time will tell. (Buy again? If in a gambling mood.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 6 of 6

Written by carswell

January 9, 2018 at 13:23

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

Cabgamay Franc

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Santa Ynez Valley 2015, Cabernet Franc, Coquelicot Vineyard, Lo-Fi Wines ($44.95, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc from organically farmed vines in the Coquelicot vineyard (fluvial sandy loam and gravel) near Solvang. Manually harvested. The whole clusters – neither destemmed nor crushed – were placed in a vat, which was filled with carbon dioxide gas and covered. Once a day for 14 days, the free-run juice was pumped over, then the vat was covered and gassed again. When alcoholic fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) was complete, the wine was pressed into tanks, settled and racked into neutral barrels (85% in 228-litre French oak barriques, 15% in a 600-litre demi-muid) for eight months’ maturation. Underwent full malolactic fermentation. Racked twice prior to bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. A small shot of sulphur dioxide was added at bottling. 12.2% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Earthy, slightly jammy red fruit with hints of sandalwood and black olive. Dark-fruity and Asian-spicy in the piehole, the brighter colours darkened by an earthy substratum. Structured – if that’s the word for such a fuzzy wine – by smooth acidity and stealth tannins that make their presence felt only on the long, leathery/earthy finish. However original and interesting an interpretation of Cabernet Franc this may be, the QPR – as with so many California wines in Quebec – is seriously out of whack. (Buy again? Irrespective of price, sure.)

Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil 2015, Hurluberlu, Sébastien David ($27.30, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% organically and biodynamically farmed Cabernet Franc. Manually harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts. Vinified Beaujolais style – using carbonic maceration – and given a very short maturation in tanks, with bottling occurring early in the new year following harvest. Unfiltered. No added sulphur. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Red fruity, cedary and a little poopy. From a hot vintage so richer, rounder, more extracted and conventional, less “like health juice” than some earlier versions. Still refreshing due to its bright acidity, supple tannins and pure fruit. Good, ultradrinkable juice, just a little less special than before. The shapely clear glass bottle is a beaut, especially in magnums. (Buy again? Sure.)

Coteaux Bourguignons 2015, Gamay, Domaine Bouillot Salomon ($29.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in clayey-calcareous soil. Manually harvested. Non-interventionist wine-making with no added anything, including sulphur. Matured in stainless steel and cement tanks. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Attractive nose of slightly candied red berries, spice, cola and background barnyard. A bit spritzy (carafing would have eliminated the gas). Fleet, fresh, fruity and dry with bright verging on tart acidity and a rumbling mineral bass line. The longish finish brings an appetizing bitter note. Would be interesting to taste this alongside some cru Beaujolais; I suspect the difference in terroirs would be noticeable. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 5 of 6

Notes from the edges

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Vin de Sologne 2014, Quartz, Domaine Étienne Courtois ($39.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located in the Sologne, Étienne and his father Claude make wines exclusively using ancestral methods and sometimes run afoul of authorities. Farming is strictly organic and biodynamic. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc comes from 15-year-old vines. Manually harvested, destemmed and gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in oak barrels for 12 to 24 months. 11.7% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Striking, complex nose of turpentine, “eucalyptus,” “wild ginger,” California bay leaf, dried lemon, quartz crystals and parafin. A core of fruit (“candied lemon”) and more (“braised fennel”) wrapped in salt, energized by bright acidity. Good balance and length and real mineral depth. “The best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever had,” declares one taster. That said, I don’t imagine most people tasting it double-blind would guess it’s a Sauvignon Blanc. Whatever. It’s spellbinding. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Troma-Onirique, François Écot ($38.15, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in Mailly-le-Château in the Yonne department of northeastern Burgundy, François Écot not only runs, with his American wife, a natural wine agency in New York City, he makes wines using grapes from an abandoned one-hectare vineyard that he resurrected. This 100% Aligoté, however, comes from purchased biodynamically and organically farmed (though not certified) grapes. Manually harvested. Vinified and matured eight months in foudres, fûts and amphorae. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
The nose prompts comments along the lines of chalk quarry, “match stick,” “waxy” and lemon juice. A sip reveals a rich and minerally wine with a mouthfeel as much like a Chardonnay’s as an Aligoté’s. There’s some surprisingly juicy fruit, bright but smooth acidity, impressive purity and depth and a long, minerally finish. It’s still a surprise to see a $40 price tag on an Aligoté, but that’s what the top wines go for these days. And this is definitely a top wine. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux Bourguignons 2015, Pinot Beurot, Domaine Bouillot Salomon ($32.20, private import, 12 bottles/case)
This admirable northern Rhône estate recently acquired 2.7 hectares of vineyards west of Dijon. 100% Pinot Beurot (aka Pinot Gris) from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in clayey-calcareous soil. Manually harvested. Non-interventionist wine-making with no added anything, including sulphur. Matured in stainless steel and cement tanks. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Pear, minerals and more than a hint of reduction, which other tasters describe as “durian” and “cow piss and camomile.” Smooth, round and dry in the mouth. Soft acidity enlivens the verging-on-unctuous texture and brings welcome freshness. There’s a certain minerality and some white spice and butter on the long finish. Not a wine that will have Alsace quaking in its boots but more than just a curiosity. Carafe it at least a couple of hours before serving if drinking now or hide it in the cellar for a two or three years. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

July 12, 2017 at 13:29