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Posts Tagged ‘Castilla y León

Bargain Bierzo

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Bierzo 2014, Viernes, Bodegas Godelia ($16.45, 12751451)
100% Mencía from vines between 12 and 21 years old in various plots. Manually harvested. The grapes are kept at 10ºC while processed at the winery and gently destemmed. Fermentation in temperature-controlled (25ºC) stainless steel tanks with push-downs and pump-overs lasts 12 to 15 days. Malolactic fermentation and four months’ maturation on selected lees also take place in tanks. 13.5% ABV. Screwcapped. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Attractive, earthy nose dominated by cherry, cassis, sandalwood and slate. Medium-bodied. The flavours echo the nose. Starts out ripe-sweet but dries as it goes along. Light tannins add some grit and outlast the fruit. Licorice, black pepper and a dash of salt colour the mildly astringent finish, while tobacco lingers on. Quite intense from start to finish though lacking some of the depth and follow-through of more expensive Bierzos; on the other hand, it’s not overambitious like so many of those wines are. Savoury and a bit rustic, true to the grape and the terroir, this punches above its weight and delivers good bang for the buck. (Buy again? Sure.)

No, it’s not natural or even organic and is probably made with selected yeasts and manipulated who knows how. But in contrast to many wines in its price bracket, it doesn’t taste industrial or like a headache generator.

Written by carswell

March 10, 2016 at 12:40

¿Creador de armonias?

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Ribera del Duero 2012, Sélection Chartier ($19.95, 12246622)
Made by Bodegas Arrocal to the specifications of the self-styled créateur d’harmonies. 100% Tinta del Païs (aka Tempranillo) from 50- to 70-year-old vines. After strict sorting, the grapes are destemmed and cold-soaked. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in stainless steel vats. The wine is transferred to 75% French and 25% American oak casks (first, second and third fill in equal proportion) for ten months’ maturation. 14.5% ABV.
(The bottle my glass came from had been open for about four hours.) Fragrant nose of dark fruit, burned earth, tobacco leaf and spice, especially black pepper. In the mouth, it’s a middleweight. Fluid and fruity up front, turning more structured (lively acidity, lithe tannins), darker (shades of minerals, smoke) and drier on its way to a lightly astringent, heady – not hot – finish. Not notably deep or long but clean, tonic and, of course, food friendly. Light years away from the dense, chewy, often heavily oaked reds most wine lovers associate with the appellation, not that I’m complaining. (Buy again? Sure.)

On the bottle’s front label and on his website, Chartier recommends various food pairings for the wine, including some surprising ones like grilled porgy, dark chocolate (80% cocoa or higher) and strawberries. While none of those seems obvious to me, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; the one time I asked him to recommend a wine pairing for a tricky dish (chicken roasted with Seville oranges and cumin), he came through with flying colours. Still, I’m pretty sure that, while waiting for strawberry season to roll around, you could get away serving this with charcoal-grilled veal or baby lamb chops.

Written by carswell

March 29, 2014 at 22:41

MWG October 17th tasting (3/5): Bierzo @ $20, $25 & $30

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Bierzo 2008, Men de Mencia, Pago del Vicario ($20.55, 11962715)
100% Mencía. Matured 12 months in French and Caucasian oak barrels. 13.5% ABV
Closed nose: earthy-verging-on-muddy plum and spice. Dense but fluid, with supple tannins, sleek acidity and dark minerals. The nose’s plums taste a little stewed. I’m not getting any oak and that’s a good thing. One-dimensional but not without appeal. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Bierzo 2008, El Castro de Valtuille, Bodegas y Viñedos Castro Ventosa ($25.60, 11155569)
100% Mencía from 70- to 80-year-old dry-farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fermented partly in French oak barrels. Matured 14 months in French oak barrels. Unfiltered. 14.5% ABV
Reeking of ethyl acetate, with a strong lipstick aroma. That slowly receded, allowing plum, black raspberry, pomegranate and some dried sweat to come through. Concentrated and fruity but not heavy. Tangy acidity, gritty tannins and a dusting of graphite and spice give the wine energy. Long and surprisingly fresh for such a high-alcohol wine. Seemed to strike a balance between the Men de Mencia’s plainness and the Carracedo’s high polish. Absent the EA, this would have been my wine of the flight. (Buy again? Assuming ours was an off bottle, yes.)

Bierzo 2007, Mencia, Carracedo, Bodega del Abad ($30.00, 11963478)
100% Mencía. Manually harvested. Macerated for ten days prior to fermentation. Ferementation lasted 12 days. Not subjected to harsh treatment. Matured 12 months in superfine grain Allier oak barrels with medium toast. Unfiltered. 14% ABV. Another of the Cellier New Arrivals wines.
Dark fruit, slate, spice, vanilla and, as our resident dill detector pointed out, a hint of that herb (in its dried form). Smooth and elegant. The whirl of fruit and earthy minerals is lifted by acidity, textured by velvety tannins. Sweet and spicy oak is definitely present but not overwhelming. Long, chewy finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Written by carswell

October 25, 2013 at 12:23

MWG October 17th tasting (2/5): The naked and the clad

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Rueda 2012, Bodega de Los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal ($14.35, 10270725)
100% Verdejo. Destemmed, cold-soaked on the skins and clarified through settling and fining, then fermented at around 14ºC for 20 days. After a short stay in barrels, the wine is bottled, usually in the winter that follows the harvest. Screwcapped. 13% ABV.
White grapefruit, cat pee, granite dust and barely audible lychee and dried herb high notes. Light and bright, very dry yet intensely fruity with a faint nut skin-like bitterness. Not deep but quite long. Yes, it’s a bit faceless. But it’s also clean, fresh and refreshing. As the French say, correct, especially at the price. (Buy again? Sure though not in preference to Ijalba’s similarly priced Genoli, which is made from organically farmed Viura grapes.)

Rueda 2008, Naiades, Bodegas Naia ($29.95, 11962707)
100% Verdejo from old vines, some of them centenarians. Manually harvested. Barrel-fermented then transferred to new French oak barrels for eight months’ maturation. Attractive label. Ridiculously heavy bottle. 13.5% ABV. One of the wines in the Cellier New Arrivals release.
Fragrant bouquet of tropical fruit, vanilla and coconut with background minerals and char. While you could say the dense fruit is balanced by the grape’s naturally high acidity, to my palate the wine is sweet and cloying. And if the oak doesn’t exactly mask the fruit, it certainly envelops it. Broad and long, this is far closer to a buttery New World Chardonnay – albeit one with some minerals and muscle tone – than to traditional Ruedas like the Marqués de Riscal or, for that matter, Naia’s own eponymous cuvée. Not at all my style though some people will love it. (Buy again? Nope.)

Written by carswell

October 24, 2013 at 13:16

MWG March 21st tasting (6/6): Four “cuvées for cellaring”

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Well, that’s what Cellier called them.

Pessac-Léognan 2009, Château Larrivet Haut-Brion ($50, 11378341)
The estate is distant from and unrelated to Château Haut-Brion. Michel Rolland has been hired as a consultant. This 2009 is reportedly 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot from vines averaging 25 to 30 years old. Manually harvested and sorted. Fermented on a parcel by parcel basis in temperature-controlled (30ºC) stainless steel tanks, with daily pump-overs and rack-and-returning. Macerated from three to five weeks. Transferred to French oak barrels (50% new, 50% second vintage) for malolactic fermentation and maturation, which lasts a total of 18 months. Fined with egg whites and lightly filtered before bottling. 13% ABV.
Textbook Médoc nose: cedar, graphite, plum, cassis. Rich and suave in the mouth. Upfront fruit and dark minerals smooth the underlying tannins. The sweet-ripe finish has a lingering astringency. On the one hand, a balanced, well-made wine with some apparent depth, though pretty primary for now. On the other hand, it’s modern and a bit cookie-cutter. Wine of the flight for most people around the table. (Buy again? If in the market for a $50 Bordeaux, maybe.)

Priorat 2007, Costers Vi de Guarda, Genium Celler ($45, 11896527)
A blend of 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 10% Merlot and 10% Syrah from nearly 100-year-old vines. A 48-hour cold soak is followed by 30-day fermentation (at 29 to 30ºC) and maceration in small stainless steel tanks. Subsequently transferred to new French oak casks for 14 months for malolactic fermentation and maturation. Bottled unfiltered. 15.5% ABV.
Complex, savoury, evolving nose: rubber, celery salt, dried salted plums, sawed wood and slate, then soy sauce and smoke, then candied red berries, cedar and Asian spice. Intense, dry and heady. Lots of character. Dense, even chewy fruit, 2×4 tannins and souring acidity. There’s breadth and length galore but not much depth, at least for now. Blackberry tea finish. Hidden by the extract, thick layer of oak and heavy structure, the alcohol is felt more than tasted. A monolithic mouthful, not for the faint of heart. (Buy again? Not my style.)

Ribera del Duero 2006, Finca Villacreces ($37, 11807547)
A blend of 95% Tinto Fino (aka Tempranillo) and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. After alcoholic fermentation, maceration and clarification, transferred to French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and 16 months’ maturation. 14.5% ABV.
Cinders, plum, faint sawed wood. Sweet attack, darker finish. Ripe fruit, ash and slate flavours. Big but balanced, with bright acidity and fine firm tannins. Needs time to digest the oak and, one hopes, gain complexity. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

Pauillac grand cru classé 2009, Château Haut-Bages Libéral ($64.75, 11395909)
A cinquième cru classé, actually. A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot from vines averaging 35 years of age. Manually harvested. Each parcel is fermented and macerated for 18 to 24 days in concrete or stainless steel vats. Matured for 16 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. 13% ABV.
Initially closed and stinky but developing cassis, cedar and sawed wood aromas with an unexpected floral note. Fluid and relatively supple, the structure cushioned by ripe fruit. Good acidity and integrated oak. Tannins linger through the menthol-scented finish. Primary but accessible. While it could be passing through a phase, surprisingly unnuanced, unlayered and undeep for a $65 bottle. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

While this was the most popular flight of the evening, it prompted comments along the lines of “I liked the wines but can’t see myself buying any of them” and “Not that I never drop $50 or $60 on a bottle, but these didn’t deliver the bang required for those kind of bucks.” Looking back at all six flights, others wondered whether such an uninspiring lineup didn’t imply that the Cellier concept had indeed run out of steam. In any case, RIP.

Written by carswell

April 3, 2013 at 16:27

MWG June 21st tasting: report (1/4)

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IGT Terre di Chieti 2010, Pecorino “Unico”, Tenute Ulisse ($18.80, 11660418)
100% Pecorino from 5- to 10-year old vines. Chilled, destemmed and softly crushed before ferminting and three-months aging in stainless steel. 13% ABV. Vino-lok closure.
Apple and lemon on the nose. Medium-bodied but full of extract. Kept bright by acidity. Savoury lemon intertwines with chalk and quartz. Good, clean finish with a faint bitter note (hazelnut skin?). Fine as a apertif or with simply prepared seafood. (Buy again? Sure.)

Verdicchio di Matelica 2010, Bisci ($20.20, 11660979)
100% Verdicchio. Lightly crushed then pressed to separate the must from the skins. Fermented at a cool 20ºC or less. Aged seven months before bottling. 13% ABV.
Floral bouquet with chalk, grapefruit, melon and eventually jalapeno notes. Rounder and weightier than the Pecorino but also blander (perhaps due to its being served too chilled; the estate recommends 14ºC or higher), which isn’t to say lacking dimension. Clean and bracing with lifting acidity. At this point, not as exciting as the 2009. (Buy again? Yes, especially to lay down for a year or two.)

Rias Baixas 2010, Albariño, Fillaboa ($22.05, 11668129)
100% Albariño from one of the appellation’s top producers. Sees extended lees contact. 13% ABV.
Odd nose that had us wondering whether the bottle wasn’t slightly off: curdled cream against a background of lemon, flowers and coral. Lighter and simpler than its reputation suggests it should be: a savoury, minerally, lemony mouthful with crisp acidity and a saline, slightly alcoholic finish. Not bad but I couldn’t buck the impression that something was missing, that the parts weren’t coalescing into a whole. (Buy again? Maybe to give it another chance.)

Bierzo 2010, Godello, Dominio de Tares ($26.25, 11631852)
100% Godello from 20-year-old vines. Fermented 20 days at 19ºC. No malolactic fermentation. Aged three months in new French oak barrels with daily battonage. Cassein-fined before bottling. 13% ABV.
Complex and evolving nose of yellow fruit, spice and a hint of oak. Ripe-fruity and rich in extract, so conveying an impression of sweetness, yet briskly acidic and actually quite dry. Subtle peach and vanilla give way to a long, spicy finish. Intriguing. (Buy again? Yes!)

Written by carswell

June 26, 2012 at 23:00

MWG January 12th tasting: report

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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. This year was no exception. All bottles but one were purchased at the SAQ, and most are still available.


Vinho Verde 2009, Loureiro, Quinta do Ameal ($18.30, 11459992)
100% organically farmed Loureiro.  Floral and grapey in a Muscat kind of way; chalky, too. Light and fruity in the mouth, the slight residual sugar balanced by high acidity. Faint tingle, though whether from carbon dioxide or acid I can’t say. Minerally finish. (Buy again? Probably not, when the more compelling Deu La Deu is available at about the same price.)

Rueda 2009, Nosis, Buil&Giné ($18.95, 10860928)
100% Verdejo. Muted nose of dried lemon peel, wax and gooseberry. Fairly dense and oily though with enough acid to keep it from feeling heavy. Lemony, quartzy flavours and some residual sugar up front, dries and turns minerally as it progresses through the mouth. Lingers long. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Bourgogne Vézelay 2010, La Châtelaine, Domaine la Cadette ($22.05, 11094621)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay. 80% spends time in vats, 20% in barrels. Lemon, green apple and ashes on the nose. Green apple and oats on the palate. Bright acid. Seems disjointed and turns unpleasantly sour and lactic on the mid-palate. In view of the wine’s previous vintages and the embrace of the 2010 by the city’s more clued-in restaurateurs and wine advisors (it was reportedly the third biggest seller during the holidays at the Jean Talon Market SAQ), ours was probably an off bottle. (Buy again? To see what gives, yes.)

Alto Adige 2010, Kerner, Abbazia di Novacella ($22.95, 11451974)
100% Kerner. Fermented using natural yeasts. Sees only stainless steel. Floral, green grape, spice, quartz dust. Weighty in the mouth. Initial residual sugar. Fruity attack fades by mid-palate. High acid. A bit short and alcoholic (13.9% ABV). (Buy again? Maybe.)

Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh sec 2008, Château Montus ($23.55, 11017625)
100% Petit Courbu from 15-year-old vines. Honeyed pear. Dense, rich, quite dry. Strong acid. Lemon zest on very long finish. Tasty. (Buy again? Yes.)

Saumur 2010, Château Yvonne ($25.55, 10689665)
100% organically farmed Chenin Blanc. Fermented with native yeasts, matured in new barrels, unfiltered and unfined. Quince, quinine, chestnut honey. Medium-bodied and very acidic. Complex but giving the impression that there’s more in store. Long mineral-packed finish. Not as memorably out-there as some earlier vintages but still a fine bottle of Chenin. (Buy again? Yes.)


Burgenland Qualitätswein 2009, Zweigelt, Zantho ($15.90, 10790384)
100% Blauer Zweigelt.  Fermented in stainless steel tanks; matured 95% in stainless steel tanks, 5% in used barriques. Farty, candied red fruit, graphite, dried herbs. Rustic, a bit jammy and one-noteish, despite some coffee and slate undertones. Drinkable but not delivering much excitement. (Buy again? Probably not.)

IGP Pays de l’Hérault 2010, Exorde, Clos Mathélisse ($21.30, La QV)
100% organically farmed Cinsault. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Bottled unfiltered and unfined with very little added sulphur. Nearly the entire (very small) production is exported to Switzerland and Canada. A first bottle seemed out of character: Red fruit, herbal, hint of rubber. Light rustic tannins. Bright acid but moody, a bit red-vermouthy, not recognizably the same wine as from earlier bottles. A second bottle showed much better: a gush of bright fruit and raspy tannins, with earthy herbal overtones and a pomegranate-like tang – the proverbial “wine that puts a smile on your face.” Surprisingly, three or four hours after being uncorked, the tail-end of the first bottle had righted itself and was drinking beautifully. Such are the vagaries of natural wines… (Buy again? For sure.)

Menetou-Salon 2010, Domaine Philippe Gilbert ($26.50, 11154988)
100% biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir from 20-year-old vines. Natural winemaking. Bottled unfiltered with minimal sulphur. Exuberant red berries: ça pinote. Light but richening as it breathes. Ripe fruit, bright acid, fine, supple tannins. Good balance and length. A rectilinear but very pure expression of the grape variety. (Buy again? Yes.)

Toro 2009, Crianza, Bodega Viña Bajoz ($13.35, 10856195)
100% Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo). Crianzas must be aged for 24 months, with no less than 6 months barrel-aging. Plum, stinky feet, spice, a whiff of alcohol. Rich, ripe, fluid. Raspberry, cocoa, a hint of “high” meat. Some structure. A little alcohol and tannic astringency on the dried herby finish. Good, especially at the price, though not a wine for contemplation. (Buy again? Sure.)

Nemea 2008, Agiorgitiko, Driopi, Domaine Tselepos ($19.75, 10701311)
100% Agiorgitiko from 40-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel vats with selected yeasts. Matured in 40% new oak barrels. Menthol, plum, tobacco. Fresh and juicy in the mouth, with leather and spice deepening the sweet fruit flavours. Good acid, plump tannins and a slatey finish. The ripe, round fruit speaks of a southern wine. (Buy again? Yes, especially when it’s grilling season again.)

Douro 2008, Quinta de la Rosa ($20.30, 00928473)
Traditional port varieties, mainly Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz from 20- to 30-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Fermented in small stainless steel vats, then matured in French oak casks for 12 months before being minimally filtered and bottled. Volatile, spicy nose. Rich, vaporous, alcoholic (14.2% ABV). A mass of spicy/herby fruit. Good acid and plump tannins. Long, flowing finish. Intense but also a little plodding. (Buy again? Not sure.)

IGT Maremma Toscana 2009, Sinarra, La Fattoria di Magliano ($21.65, 11191447)
95% Sangiovese, 5% Petit Verdot. Manually harvested. Sees no oak. Bottled unfiltered. Typical Tuscan nose: leather, dust, dried cherry. Rich yet supple and fluid. The drying tannins are also true to the Tuscan type. Balanced, structured, long.  Modern but quite enjoyable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2009, Château Revelette ($18.45, 10259737)
Organically farmed Syrah (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%) and Grenache (11%) from 25-year-old vines. The constituent grape varieties are vinified separately. A fraction of the Grenache and Cabernet are aged in fifth-year barrels. Leather upfront. Spice, black fruit in background. Rich, dense and strucutred but not heavy. Lots of acid. Tarry tannins. Long, savoury, posh. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Fronton 2008, Cuvée Don Quichotte, Domaine Le Roc ($18.80, 10675327)
Négrette (60%) and Syrah (40%). Varieties are vinified separately. The grapes are crushed,  as the winemakers feel this enhances the bouquet and softens the tannins. Matured in vats and barrels. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. Wild red and black fruit with floral and animale notes. Dense fruit but fluid and bright. Supple tannins. Hints of licorice and dark chocolate on the longish finish. Perhaps showing less personality than in earlier vintages but still delivering good QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)

Montsant 2007, Vall del Calas, Celler de Capçanes ($22.75, 10858297)
65% Merlot, 30% Garnacha, 5% Tempranillo. All three varieties are vinified separately. Fermented with native yeasts. Spends 13 months with new, one- and two-year French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and lightly filtered.  Blackberry and black cherry, pepper and gravel. A silky texture and open structure. Rich, ripe fruit along with some wood and chocolate. Fairly long, inky/minerally finish. Seemed quite young. (Buy again? Maybe.)