Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘Corsica

Rosé de beauté

leave a comment »

Corse Calvi 2016, Rosé, Pumonte, Domaine d’Alzipratu ($31.75, 12829182)
100% Sciacarello from vines planted on the high granitic slopes of the Pumonte lieu-dit on the Île de Beauté. No pesticides or herbicides are used. Manually harvested. Half the wine is made using the saignée method and the other half is direct-pressed. Fermented with selected indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Pink grapefruit, sun-baked rock, faint dried herbs and a whiff of vodka-marinated cherries, becoming more effusive as its breathes, gaining floral and spice notes. Slightly oily – or maybe honeyed – in the mouth. The subtle, elegant fruit (strawberry, peach, grapefruit) is set against a backdrop of quartzy minerals. Dry but not bone-dry, with acidity that keeps things fresh but doesn’t draw attention to itself. Turns aromatic at the back of the palate. A stream of bitterness and astringency surfaces on the long finish, while umami, cherry and seashells linger. Impressive. Not an aperitif wine: a rosé gastronomique if ever there were one. Revisited the next day, the tail end of the bottle tasted flat and alcoholic, so maybe not a keeper. (Buy again? Yes, especially as I missed out on the Fiumeseccu.)

Written by carswell

August 11, 2017 at 11:42

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with , ,

Math problem

with 4 comments

The problem: A wine – a delicious and rare wine at that – lists on for $51.25. In the store, however, it has been marked down significantly. What’s more, when purchased during yesterday’s 10%-off sale (which discount applied to the marked-down price), the figure on the sales receipt was $35.87. What, then, is the marked-down price before application of the 10% discount, which, alas, is no longer in effect?

The wine in question is Abbatucci’s 2011 BR, which awed the group at a tasting in February 2014. My note at the time:

Vin de table (2011), BR, Domaine Comte Abbatucci ($51.00, 11930123)
100% biodynamically and organically farmed Barbarossa, a red-skinned grape variety here given the blanc de noirs treatment. The first vines were planted in the 1960s. The grapes are manually harvested and pressed immediately after picking. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in stainless steel tanks. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 2,000 bottles made. 13% ABV. [Quebec agent: Vini-Vins.]
Initially reticent but eventually deep. Minerally and floral with hint of lemoncello and a faint herby overtone, like maquis or hops. Round yet very fresh in the mouth, the fruit structured by a crystalline minerality and enlightened by acidity. A faint, pleasing bitterness threads through the long finish. Breathtakingly pure and pristine, not to mention unique. (Buy again? Gladly.)

After opening it yesterday evening to accompany shrimp marinated in white wine, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and puréed basil, wrapped in a basil leaf and a thin slice of prosciutto and grilled (recipe here) – an excellent pairing, by the way – I sat down to pen a new note but quickly realized I had little to add to the one above. The wine is drinking beautifully. It’s as fresh and engaging as it was 18 months ago, perhaps a tad rounder and more integrated, with the final bitterness a shade more pronounced. While yesterday’s double discount made it a rare bargain, it’s still a deal at today’s marked-down price, which by my calculation is $39.85.

Edit (2015-09-06 18:49): The MWG’s network of spies reports that the actual marked-down price at the Montreal Signature store is $41.00. The discount was therefore calculated not on the marked-down price but on the list price, which is not how it usually works: 10% of $51.25 = $5.13. $41.00 – $5.13 = $35.87.

Written by carswell

September 6, 2015 at 12:12

Bordel de Noël workshop (3/6)

with one comment

Corse Figari 2013, Rosé, Clos Canarelli ($35.75, 11917666)
Based in Figari, the southernmost wine-growing region in Corsica and the sunniest in France, Yves Canarelli today has 28 hectares of vineyards in production and makes his wines in a new gravity-fed facility. This rosé is a blend of Sciaccarellu (50%), Niellucciu (30%) and Grenache (20%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines planted in 1997. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are directly pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine is then transferred to stainless steel tanks for partial (50%) malolactic fermentation. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Musky dried raspberry, peach, sun-baked granite, spice and distant maquis carried on a sea breeze. In the mouth, it’s more minerally than fruity, tensely balanced between acidity and extract: an ethereal presence that’s haunted by flavours and aromas, including a faint floral note somewhere between orange and jasmine. An appetizing bitterness tinges the long finish. A gastronomic wine par excellence and yet another confirmation that Corsica has become the source of some of the world’s best rosés. One of my two favourites with the turkey, this also worked with most of the trimmings, though it was less successful than the whites with the Brussels sprouts and, like most of the other wines, wilted before the cranberry relish. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Written by carswell

January 13, 2015 at 14:30

MWG May 15th tasting (1/6): Pink of course

leave a comment »

Corse Calvi rosé 2013, Fiumeseccu, Domaine Alzipratu ($22.80, private import, NLA)
A blend of saignée and directly pressed juice, mostly Sciacarello though a little Nielluccio may also have made its way into the mix. If memory serves, this is 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Effusive nose of pink grapefruit, nectarine, garrigue, cat pee and cotton candy. Clean, citrusy and peachy on the palate. The gush of ripe fruit is carried on a stream of acidity to a dry, savoury finish with a saline snap and a quartz aftertaste. While I thought it was true to form and therefore excellent, especially for the price, most around the table – including several longtime fans – were unconvinced. One taster in particular, who’d bought a case with a party in view, expressed disappointment and regret. Note, however, that she opened one of her bottles the following weekend and totally revised her opinion, declaring the wine classic and delicious (top sommeliers around town agree with that assessment). A QPR winner. (Buy again? Done!)

Patrimonio rosé 2012, Domaine d’E Croce, Yves Leccia ($24.80, 11900821)
100% Nielluccio. Manually harvested. Made from the same juice used for the estate’s red wines but bled off (saignée) after 12 hours’ maturation. Cold-settled for 12 hours, then fined. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 18°C for 15 to 20 days. Malolactic fermentation is prevented. Matured six months in stainless steel tanks. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Compared with the Alzipratu, smoother, sweeter, rounder and grapier – redolent of peach, strawberry and watermelon with maquis overtones. Weightier too, though kept from heaviness by glowing acidity and a faint carbon dioxide tingle. The rainwater minerality turns saline on the long finish. Not light and refreshing enough to be a first choice for sipping on the deck or balcony. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something to serve with your aïoli monstre… (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

June 5, 2014 at 12:09

MWG February 13th tasting (5/5): Vins de beauté

leave a comment »

Patrimonio 2009, Clos Signadore ($46.00, 11908129)
100% Nielluccio from 50-year-old vines in a four-hectare plot called Morta Plana (the estate officially began converting to organic farming in 2010 and was certified in 2013). Manually harvested. Macerated and fermetened with inidigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks for 45 to 60 days. Matured in neutral demi-muids for 24 months. Sulphur is added only at bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Effusive bouquet of sweet spice, wood and graphite against a backdrop of red fruit. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, fluid and impeccably balanced. Limber tannins provide a supple structure. Spice colours the rich fruit, which persists well into the long finish. Sleek, even a little glossy and definitely the least unconventional of the trio but undeniably a pleasure to drink. (Buy again? Sure.)

Patrimonio 2010, Carco, Antoine Arena ($40.50, 12039560)
Arena doesn’t appear to have a website; see here for a short profile. 100% biodynamically farmed Nielluccio from the Carco vineyard. Macerated and fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (27-30C) tanks for six to nine weeks with regular punch-downs. Long maturation (up to two years for some cuvées). Minimally sulphured. Unfiltered and unfined. 14% ABV.
Closed but evolving nose: plum, earth, spice, eventually cocoa husks and a faint musky/animale note. Closed but promissing on the palate. A dry, savoury, smooth-textured middleweight. The fruit is ripe, dense and a bit cooked, though more roasted than stewed. Brisk acidity adds welcome tension and brightness; fine albeit pervasive tannins add structure; dark minerals add depth. The finish is long and velvety. Alive, even a little wild yet somehow quite elegant. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin de table (2011), CN, Domaine Comte Abbatucci ($62.00, 11930140)
The second vintage of this wine, which doesn’t meet the appellation’s grape variety requirements and so is classified a vin de table and not entitled to mention the vintage or the grape variety on the label (Abbatucci prints the vintage on the cork). 100% biodyanmically farmed Carcajolo Nero (aka Carcajolu-Neru) from vines average six years old. Hand-picked, crushed by foot. Maceration and fermentation with indigenous yeasts last 15 days. About one-third of the wine is then matured in neutral 600-litre demi-muids and the rest in stainless steel tanks for eight to ten months. Unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV.
Pale, clear red, approaching the kind of rubis you sometimes see in Jura wines. Appealing nose of red currant, leather, cedar, maquis and a possibly reductive note that one taster described as “balloon animals.” Medium-bodied, silky textured. The fruit is juicy, like fresh squeezed mulberry, overtoned with sandalwood, buoyed by soft acidity. The supple tannins turn astringent on the long, chocolate-noted finish. Complex if not particularly deep but unique and fascinating all the same. (Buy again? Would love to.)

Written by carswell

March 26, 2014 at 13:55

MWG February 13th tasting (2/5): Hushed awe

with one comment

Domaine Comte Abbatucci’s three flagship wines are grouped under the Cuvée Collection banner. All are blends of little known and, in some cases, nearly extinct Corsican grape varieties with less uncommon varieties like Vermetinu. Each is named after one of the family’s ancestors. The estate has also begun making two mid-range monovarietal wines, one white and one red, both from obscure varieties. As none of the wines qualify for AOC status, all bear the vin de table designation, meaning neither the vintage nor the constituent grape varieties can be mentioned on the label (Abbatucci stamps the vintage on the cork, which is how we knew our bottles were 2011s).

Vin de table (2011), BR, Domaine Comte Abbatucci ($51.00, 11930123)
100% biodynamically and organically farmed Barbarossa, a red-skinned grape variety here given the blanc de noirs treatment. The first vines were planted in the 1960s. The grapes are manually harvested and pressed immediately after picking. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in stainless steel tanks. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 2,000 bottles made. 13% ABV.
Initially reticent but eventually deep. Minerally and floral with hint of lemoncello and a faint herby overtone, like maquis or hops. Round yet very fresh in the mouth, the fruit structured by a crystalline minerality and enlightened by acidity. A faint, pleasing bitterness threads through the long finish. Breathtakingly pure and pristine, not to mention unique. (Buy again? Gladly.)

Vin de table (2011), Il Cavalière Diplomate de l’Empire, Domaine Comte Abbatucci ($64.00, 11930191)
A blend of biodynamically and organically farmed Vermentinu (c. 40%) with lesser amounts of Rossola Bianca (aka Ugni Blanc aka Trebbiano), Biancu Gentile, Genovèse and possibly Brustiano (aka Vermentino?!) from vines averaging 50 years of age. Manually harvested. Slow fermentation with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The fermented must is transferred to 600-litre used oak barrels for 12 months’ maturation. Unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. 1,500 bottles made. Named after Don Jacques Pascal Abbatucci (1765-1851), a childhood friend of Napoleon who served as an Imperial diplomat in Naples and fought at Waterloo.
Complex, nuanced nose of lemon, baked apple, maquis, fennel and wax, among other things. Slightly less dry than the BR. Dense and full, verging on lush but in no way flabby. On the contrary, there’s an enthralling tension and impeccable balance. Minerally and savoury with sweeter hints of stone fruit and a bitter undertow. Long, multifaceted, complete. The kind of wine that sticks in your memory for days. Arguably deserving of a place alongside France’s best whites. As a food pairing, the estate suggests simply prepared lobster seasoned only with a drizzle of fine olive oil. (Buy again? If the budget permits, yes, because, believe it or not, the wine’s if anything underpriced.)

The sketchiness of my notes is due partly to the wines’ being hard to describe; it’s a challenge to pin down what makes them so special. Also, the hushed awe that fell over the table when the first sniffs and sips were taken was soon broken by a distracting burst of comment and discussion, all of it positive. Several tasters expressed astonishment that wines of such quality and refinement could come from Corsica. Even the group’s resident white wine skeptic acknowledged their appeal and took second pours. Tellingly, both bottles were drained on the spot.

Given the tiny quantities produced, it’s surprising that the wines are even available in Quebec, let alone at the SAQ. They arrived at the Signature stores last fall and, though I wanted to include them in a tasting, the opportunity didn’t present itself and I’d assumed they were all gone. Fast-forward to early February, when Kermit Lynch’s monthly mailer showed up in my inbox with four 2012 Abbatuccis on page one. What struck me was the price: the three Collection wines were going for US$98 a bottle. Wondering whether I’d misremembered the SAQ price, I went to, which now lists products no longer in stock. Not only were the prices for the 2011s up to 40% cheaper in Quebec, there were still bottles of the BR, the CN (more on which anon) and one of the Collection whites available for purchase.

Written by carswell

February 27, 2014 at 10:02

oenopole workshop: charcuteries + uve italiane (1/3)

leave a comment »

A group of wine writers, bloggers and broadcasters were recently summoned to oenopole world headquarters for another of the agency’s workshops devoted to food and wine pairings (previously: oysters, Greek wines with non-Greek dishes). This atelier focused on charcuterie and Italian grape varieties. As the group assembled, a nearly Italian white was poured to wet our whistles.

Corse Figari 2010, Blanc, Clos Canarelli ($40.00, 11794660)
Based in Figari, the southernmost wine-growing region in Corsica and the sunniest in France, Yves Canarelli today has 28 hectares of vineyards in production and makes his wines in a spanking new gravity-fed facility. His white Corse Figari is 100% organically and biodynamically farmed Vermentinu (aka Vermintno). The grapes are manually harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts and allowed to undergo partial malolactic fermentation. Matured six to eight months on the lees in neutral foudres and barriques. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13% ABV.
Waxed lemon, crushed rock and a hint of herbs. Smooth and satiny, dense but balanced and fresh. Acidity streams quietly beneath the sleek surface. A faintly bitter vein snakes through the mineral substrate. The long finish is inflected with preserved lemon and salt. Perhaps even finer than the 2011. Though this worked surprisingly well as a aperitif, it’ll really sing with fish or Corsican cheeses. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

October 19, 2013 at 13:22

MWG June 20th tasting (7/8): Le beau et la bête

leave a comment »

Corse Calvi 2011, Clos Culombu ($23.15, 11910368)
Nielluccio (50%), Sciacarello (30%), Syrah (10%) and Grenache (10%). Six days’ cold maceration are followed by a 26-day fermentation/maceration with punch-downs. Matured on the fine lees. 14% ABV.
Jammy red berries, vanilla and toasty oak equal one thing: strawberry Pop-Tarts. Very ripe, very sweet fruit, velvety tannins and just enough acidity to keep the wine from collapsing on itself. The oak is laid on with a trowel. So confected and cloying I couldn’t take more than two or three sips. And where’s the terroir? A real disappointment after the estate’s seductive 2010 Ribbe Rosse. An SAQ wine advisor tells me this is popular with a certain segment. If so, it’s one I’m not in. (Buy again? No way.)

Ajaccio 2010, Faustine, Domaine Comte Abbatucci ($28.85, 11930060)
Sciacarello (70%) and Nielluccio (30%) from biodynamically farmed 10- to 15-year-old vines. Macerated 40 days, fermented with ambient yeasts, matured in concrete vats. 13% ABV.
Beautiful. Subtle strawberry and cherry, garrigue (well, maquis), sawed cedar, schist. So smooth and suave, so poised and perfectly pitched. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. Alive with pure fruit, fine tannins and energizing acidity, all grounded in earth and herbs. A faint medicinal tang threads through the clean finish. The perfect antidote to the Culombu. (Buy again? In multiples.)

Written by carswell

July 2, 2013 at 16:32

Alzipratu’s 2011 Fiumeseccu rouge

leave a comment »

Corse Calvi 2011, Cuvée Fiumeseccu, Domaine d’Alzipratu ($19.45, 11095658)
Organically farmed Nielluccio (60%) and Sciacarello (40%) from ten- to 30-year old vines. Destemmed, macerated eight to 12 days and fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks, matured one year in concrete tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Dusty cherry and plum, dried herbs, sun-baked fields. In weight and texture, closer to a Chianti than, say, a Côtes-du-Rhône. Savoury elements – minerals, herbs, spice, fine if astringent tannins, piquant acidity, alcohol – are wrapped around a sweet core of fruit, which sours ever so slightly as it flows into the drying finish. So fresh and drinkable though, at this early stage, best given 30 minutes to an hour in a carafe. With its French and Italian roots, this is uncommonly versatile with food, especially of the Mediterranean variety. (Buy again? A no brainer.)

Written by carswell

June 8, 2013 at 12:04

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with , ,

Pink wave

with 2 comments

Four rosés that have hit the SAQ’s shelves just in time for our spate of summery weather. All but the Bonny Doon are from the May 2nd Cellier New Arrivals release.

Patrimonio 2011, Osé, Domaine d’E Croce, Yves Leccia ($22.95, 11900821)
100% Nielluccio. A saignée method rosé. The juice is “bled” from the red wine vat after 12 hours’ maceration, cold-settled for 24 hours, then fined. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 18ºC and lasts 15 to 20 days. The wine is not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. Matured six months in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Bold medium pink. Wafting nose of red berries, nectarine, minerals and above all maquis. Silky bordering on dense. Bright but not sweet fruit, some mineral depth and a lingering savoury finish with a saline note. My pour came from a bottle that had been open about 24 hours, yet the wine was still fresh and vibrant (it reportedly had a carbon dioxide tingle on opening but not when I got around to tasting it). To my palate, the winner of the four. Though it screams vin de terrasse, it also has the wherewithal to accompany tapas and grilled chicken. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin Gris de Cigare 2012, Central Coast, Bonny Doon Vineyard ($22.75, 10262979)
Grenache (62%), Mourvèdre (17%), Roussanne (9%), Grenache Blanc (6%) and Cinsault (6%). 12.5% ABV according to the winemaker, 13.5% according to Screwcapped.
A true gris: as pale grey/tan as it is pink. On both the nose and the palate, lots of minerals and garrigue but not much fruit. As close to bone dry as a rosé gets. Good weight and length. Truer to its Rhône/Provence model than some earlier vintages. If nit-picking, you could say it’s a little short on charm. Still, it’s likely the best pink wine in the SAQ’s regular catalogue. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Vin Gris d’Amador 2011, Sierra Foothills, Terre Rouge ($22.95, 11629710)
Mourvèdre (61%), Grenache (35%) and Syrah (4%). The name notwithstanding, this is a saignée method rosé made from juice “bled” from the red wine vats early in the maceration stage. Vinification is in used French oak barrels. 13.5% ABV.
Dark salmon pink. The most fragrant of the four: red berries, spice, dried herbs. Winey and mouth-filling but avoiding heaviness due to the acidity and held-in-check fruit. Long, savoury, even a little heady. This was the favourite of the wine advisor pouring the sample, who also speculated that, were it served in an opaque glass, most tasters would guess it was a red wine. More a food wine than a sipper. I’d pair it with something like grilled pork chops. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Marsannay rosé 2011, Domaine Bruno Clair ($23.30, 10916485)
100% Pinot Noir. One-third of the grapes are pressed on arrival at the winery; the remainder are whole cluster-macerated for up to 72 hours before being pressed. The musts are then blended and transferred to stainless steel tanks for 20 to 30 days’ fermentation at 18 to 20ºC. Matured 12 months in stainless steel tanks. 12.5% ABV.
While earlier vintages of this have often been exquisite, the 2011 is anything but. It’s like the life has been sucked out of it. The fruit – strawberry, I’d guess – is dessicated and oxidized. With nothing to counterbalance it, the acid makes the wine taste sharp. And then there’s the faint acrid note on the finish. Could be an off bottle but, if so, it’s reportedly not the only one. (Buy again? Nope.)

Written by carswell

May 6, 2013 at 10:36