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Posts Tagged ‘Champagne

Tasting champagnes with Pascal Doquet (4/4)

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Champagne 2005, Premier Cru, Vertus, Pascal Doquet ($82.25, 13142551)
A new addition to the SAQ’s Doquet lineup. 100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vines from vineyards in Vertus (rich, deep clay over chalk). Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Bottled unfiltered in April 2006. Aged 125 months on lattes. Dosage (with rectified grape must): 4.5 g/l. Disgorged in September 2016. Reducing sugar: 5.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Straw coloured with electrum and bronze glints, tiny bubbles and persistent foam. Complex nose of fresh and fallen apples, miso ramen, lees, lemon and a corporal note. So elegant in the mouth. Acid bright on entry and quite substantial. There’s real depth and great poise. Long on flavour (minerals, apple tart, lemon) and feel. Drinking beautifully though still quite young. (Buy again? Gladly.)

Champagne 2005, Grand Cru, Extra Brut, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Pascal Doquet ($98.00, 11787291)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed old vines from vineyards in Le Mesnil sur Oger (poor clay over chalk). Fermented with indigenous yeasts, 45% in oak fûts and 55% in stainless steel tanks. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfiltered in April 2006. Aged 96 months on lattes. Dosage (with rectified grape must): 4.5 g/l. Disgorged in April 2015. Reducing sugar: 5.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The colour of drying hay with white gold glints. Layered, savoury nose of oyster crackers, shrimp shells, lemon, apple, lees, flint and chalk. Rich yet very dry and not exuberantly fruity. Softer effervescence and chalkier minerals than the Vertus. Chewing reveals layers of flavour, depth and complexity. As elegant as it is delicious, this soft-spoken, finely balanced wine has class in spades. If you’re going to drop a C-note on a sparkler, it’s a definite contender. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

December 30, 2016 at 20:00

Tasting champagnes with Pascal Doquet (3/4)

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Champagne, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Diapason, Pascal Doquet ($73.25, 12946063)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed old vines in vineyards in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (poor clay over chalk). A blend of wines from the 2006 (84%) and 2005 (16%) vintages. Vinified in a enamelled stainless steel tanks (80%) and small, neutral oak barrels (20%). Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Aged 96 months on lattes. Dosage (with rectified grape must): 4.5 g/l. Disgorged in April 2015. Reducing sugar: 5.4 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
A shade golder than the other wines in the tasting. Engaging nose of lees, yeast and subdued white fruit faintly overtoned with white spice and powdered ginger. Dry yet richer than its predecessors. The soft bubbles, sleek acidity and ideal extract confer a beguiling texture. Chalky minerals and subtle, slightly browning fruit last well into the slow-fade finish with its lingering lemon and flint notes. Balanced and complete. Suggesting resonance and harmony, the cuvée name is most appropriate. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

December 28, 2016 at 11:48

Tasting champagnes with Pascal Doquet (2/4)

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Champagne, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Horizon, Pascal Doquet ($55.00, 11528046)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vines rooted in old chalk and grey marl clay in vineyards in Bassuet and Bassu. A blend of wines from the 2011 and 2010 vintages (two-thirds and one-third respectively). Fermented with indigenous yeasts in enamelled stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for four to five months. Bottled unfiltered. Aged 30 months on lattes (the bottles are stacked on their sides with thin strips of wood – think laths – laid between them to stabilize the stacks and minimize damage in the event a bottle explodes). Dosage was with rectified concentrated must. Disgorged in September 2015. Reducing sugar: 7.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Also available in magnums ($119.00/1.5 L, 11787304). Quebec agent: oenopole.
Pale straw with green and gold glints, a very fine bead and not much foam. Appealing nose of cookie dough, chalk, faint lemon and a hint of honey. Clean and dry in the mouth, the flavours tending to apple and pear. Acidity and extract are in ideal proportion. There’s fair depth and complexity and a marked mineral component, especially on the long, dry finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Champagne, Premier Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Nature, Arpège, Pascal Doquet ($64.25, 12024253)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vines in vineyards in Vertus (deep clay over chalk), Villeneuve (clayey topsoil over chalk) and Mont-Aimé (sand and chalk). A blend of wines from the 2010 and 2011 vintages (62% and 38% respectively). Fermented and matured on the lees in tanks for four to five months with occasional stirring. Transferred to oak barrels (45%) and stainless steel tanks (55%) for an additional 11 months before bottling. Aged 30 months on lattes. Undosed. Disgorged in February 2016. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Similar in appearance to the Horizon, though with a slightly greener cast. Complex, evolving nose: citrusy, malic and leesy gaining straw/hay, seashell and preserved lemon notes as the wine breaths. Less fruity and more minerally than its flightmate. Bone dry from start to finish. Sustained but not sharp acidity. Long, rainwatery finish with lingering chalk, flint, lemon and seashells. Lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

December 27, 2016 at 13:23

Tasting champagnes with Pascal Doquet (1/4)

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In the run-up to the holidays, oenopole invited a number of wine critics, journalists, restaurateurs, sommeliers and bloggers, including me, to a tasting of champagnes from the house of Doquet. The tasting was led by the soft-spoken if loquacious owner-winemaker Pascal Doquet.

Based in Vertus, Pascal has been a winemaker since 1982. After taking the helm of the family estate (Doquet-Jeanmarie at the time), he bought out his sisters’ shares in the estate and created – with his wife Laure – Champagne Pascal Doquet in 2004. Comprising a little under nine hectares of vines, the estate has been certified organic since 2007. Pascal describes his approach to wine-growing as sustainable. The life of the soil is a primary concern, as evidenced by his careful application of homemade compost, avoidance of chemical weed-killers, use of lightweight straddle tractors and manual working of the topsoil around the vine rows.

In the cellar, pressing – always with a pneumatic press – is adapted to the characteristics of each vintage. Only the juice from the first two pressings is used. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, the wines are matured on their lees for, on average, four or five months, then naturally clarified and sometimes lightly filtered before bottling, which happens in spring for the non-vintage cuvées and in late summer or early fall for the vintage cuvées. Dosage is done with concentrated grape must, which Pascal feels is closer to the grape’s natural sugar. The wines tend to be shipped six to 12 months after disgorging.

The tasting began with the house’s rosé.

Champagne, Rosé, Brut, Premiers crus de la Côte des blancs, Pascal Doquet ($66.75, 12024296)
A blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%) from vineyards around the village of Vertus. The soil is mostly deep clay over chalk. The grapes are entirely destemmed. The colour comes from briefly macerating the juice on the skins. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured 12 months on the lees in large barrels and 24 months in the bottle. Unfiltered. Disgorged in February 2014. Dosage was 6 or 7 g/l, which Pascal intends to lower to 5 g/l in the future. Reducing sugar: 7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Salmon-orange with a fine bead and head. Yeasty nose of red berries, hard candies and hints of chalk and resinous herbs. In the mouth, it’s fruity yet delicate, ripe-sweet yet fundamentally dry. The effervescence is soft and structuring. Bright acidity swells on the mid-palate. Turns even direr on the long finish with its lingering fruit and mineral flavours. Not a throat-grabber but elegant, refreshing and delicious. (Buy? Yes.)

Written by carswell

December 26, 2016 at 14:54

Not your ordinary champers

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Something of a cult producer – they’re currently accepting no new clients – Vouette et Sorbée has been making idiosyncratic champagnes since 2001. The estate is located in the village of Buxières-sur-Arce, which is geographically, geologically and maybe even spiritually closer to Chablis than to the champagne capital of Épernay.

Champagne 2011, Cuvée Fidèle, Vouette et Sorbée ($76.73, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blanc de noirs. 100% Pinot Noir from organically and biodynamically farmed vines rooted in Kimmeridgian marl. The manually harvested grapes are gently pressed. The free-run juice is transferred to 400-litre oak casks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Indigenous yeasts are used for primary and secondary fermentation. The wine is aged on its lees on lattes (stacked in piles with small pieces of wood inserted between the bottles to prevent them from moving) and riddled on racks. This is nearly all 2011 except for a dollop of reserve wines. Sulphur dioxide is added to the incoming grapes but not at bottling. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Extremely complex nose: miso, black pepper, “apples on the floor of the orchard” (quoting another taster), roasted white meat, barley sugar and more as the wine breathes. Dry and intense on the palate. The effervescence is light and fine but also very insistent. The remarkably pure fruit tends to red berries and apples, is grounded in chalky minerals and coloured by spice and umami notes. Lively acidity adds tension that relaxes only on the long finish with its lingering spice and brioche flavours. Not so much a vin plaisir as a vin de contemplation and quite unlike any other champagne I’ve tasted. Next time I’ll carafe it a couple of hours before serving. (Buy again? Yes.)

Champagne 2012, Saignée de Sorbée, Vouette et Sorbée ($124.85, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A rosé champagne. 100% Pinot Noir from organically and biodyamically farmed vines averaging 22 years old. More than three-quarters of the vines are planted on Kimmeridgian hillsides, the remainder in fragmented Portlandian limestone. Manually harvested. Made using the saignée method with extended carbonic maceration. Vinified in 400-litre oak casks. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Indigenous yeasts are used for primary and secondary fermentation. The wine is aged on its lees on lattes and riddled on racks. Sulphur dioxide is added only to the incoming grapes. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Strawberry carpels, miso, cooked rhubarb, pastry cream, apple peel and more. In the piehole, the wine is weighty but not heavy, textured by a fine, soft bead and mouth-watering acidity. Once again the fruit is as savoury as sweet and intertwined with minerals. Pink grapefruit, including the pith, is joined by spice and umami notes on the long finish. Continues evolving in the glass; I suspect this, too, would benefit from an hour or two in the carafe. Complex and fascinating, a rosé to contend with. (Buy again? When my boat comes in…)

These showed much better than the 2007s that the group tasted in December 2010. Or maybe our palates have evolved. In fact, at one point during the tasting, I found myself wondering whether the adage about vin jaune didn’t also apply here: you don’t appreciate it until your third encounter.

MWG March 12th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

April 7, 2016 at 15:02

Bordel de Noël workshop (5/6)

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Champagne, Extra Brut, Blanc de blancs, Les vignes de Montguex, Jacques Lassaigne ($59.00, 12061311)
Planted to Chardonnay and a little Pinot Noir, the approximately five-hectare estate is located in Montgeux, a chalky hill in the southernmost part of the appellation. A small quantity of grapes is also purchased. All the grapes are organically farmed and the wine-making is as natural as possible. Disgorgement is performed monthly. This cuvée is always a blend of 100% Chardonnay wines from two successive vintages and several parcels. Manually harvested. Sulphur is added only as the grapes come into the winery. Each parcel is vinified separately. 15% is matured in cask. Riddling is mechanical, disgorging manual. No or minimal dosage. Unfiltered and unfined. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Pale electrum with a fine, streaming bead. Pleasing nose of lemon, apple, minerals, yeast and a whiff of yogurt. Dry, dimensional and appealingly austere, with clean fruit and chalky minerals in equipoise. The tingly effervescence provides lift, the crisp acidity cut. Finishes on a long, savoury, faintly saline note. Such a tonic wine. In its style and at its price point, you won’t find better at the SAQ or maybe anywhere. (Buy again? Yes.)

Emmanuel Lassaigne, Jacques’s son and the current winemaker, describes this as an aperitif wine, a role it plays supremely well. That said, it proved a delightful palate cleanser after the meal. It also makes a killer accompaniment for sushi.

Written by carswell

January 17, 2015 at 11:34

Bordel de Noël workshop (1/6)

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In the run-up to the holidays, the good and generous folks at oenopole held another of their theme wine-and-food tastings for sommeliers, journalists and bloggers. The seasonally appropriate theme for this event was wines for a traditional Christmas dinner – and not just any Christmas dinner but one prepared by Foodlab chef Michelle Marek. In sending out the invitations, partner Theo Diamantis promised that Michelle’s bird would make believers out of even the biggest turkey skeptics (a group that includes me) and he was right. I’ll post a description of Michelle’s dead-simple recipe/technique in a day or three.

But back to oenopole world headquarters, where we got the ball rolling with a newly arrived sparkler.

Champagne, Brut, Blanc de blancs, Horizon, Pascal Doquet ($48.50, 11528046)
After taking over the helm of the 8.7-hectare family estate, Doquet began selling wines under his own name in 2004. The grapes for this 100% Chardonnay come from organically farmed vines planted in the 1970s. After manual harvesting, the grapes are pneumatically pressed and transferred to either stainless steel or enamel-lined steel tanks. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation are with indigenous yeasts and bacteria respectively. Matured four to five months on the lees before natural clarification and blending (the blend usually consists of two vintages and ours may well have been two-thirds 2011 and and one-third 2010). Lightly filtered before bottling, which usually takes place in late April or early May. Aged around three years in the bottle. Dosage (7 g according to some sources) is with sugar and concentrated grape must but no liqueur. Bottles are shipped six to 12 months after disgorging. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Complex, delicate nose of lemon peel, lees, yeast, chalk, quartz, candied orange and a yogurt-like lactic note. Softly but deliciously present in the mouth. Fine, caressing bubbles lift the ripe fruit and lighten the round texture. Any residual sugar is held in check by shining acidity, meaning this is at the dryish end of the scale. Lingering minerals mark the long, sourish finish. Not remarkably deep – more an aperitif than a food wine, I’d say – but what it does it does very well. Undoubtedly one of the best under-$50 Champagnes to be found at the SAQ. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

January 5, 2015 at 11:18