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Posts Tagged ‘Corsica

MWG April 18th tasting (8/9): Corsican hat trick

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Vin de CorseFigari 2010, Clos Canarelli ($36.75, 11794521)
A blend of biodynamically farmed Niellucciu (80%), Syrah (15%) and Sciaccarellu (5%) from 13-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large foudres for 14 to 18 months with daily punch-downs during fermentation. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV.
Brooding nose of maquis, ink, red and black fruit, black tea and bitter chocolate. Dense but not heavy, redolent of dark plum and spice, with bedrock minerals and a gamey note. Firm round tannins, fluent acidity and a long, savoury finish round out the ideally proportioned package. Impressive if a little monolithic at this stage in its development. Stick it in a cellar for five or ten years or carafe several hours if serving now. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Patrimonio 2010, Domaine d’E Croce, Yves Leccia ($30.00, 10783213)
Nielluciu (90%) and Grenache (10%) from 20- to 40-year-old vines in the E Croce lieu-dit. Manually harvested, sorted by clusters, destemmed and crushed. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 25 to 30ºC with daily pump-overs. After 12 to 15 days, the grapes are pressed and the free run and press juices are blended. Matured at least 12 months in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV.
A less intense and opaque red-purple than the other two wines in the flight. Appealing if odd nose of red and black berries, fresh raw kidney and hints of sandalwood and licorice. Medium-bodied with a fluid texture. The ripe fruit is structured by fine tannins and smooth acidity and has some earthy/minerally depth. Clean finish. Fully accessible now, this suave wine is reputed to improve with up to a decade or two of age; given its purity and balance, that claim doesn’t seem outlandish. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin de CorseCalvi 2010, Ribbe Rosse, Clos Culombu ($38.00, 11910376)
A 50-50 blend of Sciaccarellu and Niellucciu. Long (40 days) fermenation and maceration in 500-litre oak barrels. 14.5% ABV.
Complex and beguiling. A fine savoury mouthful of pure, sweet-cored red fruit with overtones of maquis, dried earth and spice. Bright acidity adds freshness, puckery tannins push the silky texture toward satin and the long finish brings a charry note. The alcohol is not apparent. Surprisingly accessible though clearly cellar-worthy. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

May 2, 2013 at 13:33

MWG April 18th tasting (3/9): Vermentinu times two

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Corse Calvi 2011, Clos Culombu ($23.10, 11902114)
The estate is in the process of converting to organic agriculture. 100% Vermentinu (aka Vermentino). Destemmed, crushed and cold-soaked on the skins for several hours, then pressed. Stirred after fermentation. Matured on the fine lees for five months. Lightly fined before bottling. 12.5% ABV. Part of the April 18th Cellier New Arrivals release.
Fragrant: peaches in syrup, quartz, white flowers. Dense and waxy in the mouth, peachy and soft-seeming at first, then turning lemony and harder. Long, mineral-tinged finish with a trenchant, almost fiery streak. Enjoyable but coming across as unpolished, even coarse next to the Faustine. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Ajaccio 2011, Faustine, Domaine Comte Abbatucci ($31.50, 11927792)
The Faustine cuvées are named after the winemaker’s daughter. This white is 100% biodynamically farmed Vermentinu from low-yielding, 40-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Following a brief cold soak, slow-fermented at 18ºC. Reportedly not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. Sees only stainless steel. 13% ABV.
Complex nose: “charcoal” in the words of one taster, minerals, lemon, wax, hints of clover blossom, orange peel and maquis. Rich but not heavy, mouth-filling yet elegant. Fine layers of fruit are wrapped around a solid mineral core aglow with acidity. Finishes on a saline note. Savoury, balanced and nuanced, a beautiful wine. What’s more, it’s $5 or $6 less expensive than the private import 2010 was. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Food pairings? Corsican cheeses (Yannick is the best source in Montreal) and, of course, seafood in simple Mediterranean preparations, like the recipe for striped bass flambéed with thyme and Pernod that you’ll find after the jump.

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Written by carswell

April 24, 2013 at 12:21

MWG February 21st tasting (3/8): Two Mediterranean whites

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Bandol 2011, Domaine La Suffrene ($22.85, 11903491)
The estate was created in 1996. This is the first of its wines to be offered at the SAQ. A 50–50 blend of Clairette and Ugni Blanc from vines averaging 35 to 40 years old. Manually harvested. To increase flavour extraction, the crushed grapes are kept on their skins for 12 hours at 8ºC before pressing (aka maceration pelliculaire). After clarification by settling, the juice is fermented in stainless steel vats for around 15 days at around 19ºC, then racked into other vats for fining and maturation. Filtered before bottling. 13% ABV.
Smells like Provence: preserved lemon, acacia blossom, herbs, pear and mineral. Dry in the mouth with a winey verging on unctuous texture, though the acidity and restraint prevent any heaviness. Flavours tend to garrigue and a faint, pithy bitterness. What fruit there is fades on finish leaving ashy minerals. Not a throat-grabber by any means but classic and elegant. Am anxious to try the estate’s red and pink wines. (Buy again? Sure.)

Corse Figari 2011, Clos Canarelli ($39.25, 11794660)
100% biodynamically farmed Vermintinu (aka Vermintino) from vines planted in 1997. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Allowed to undergo partial malolactic fermentation. Aged mostly in large foudres as well as some old neutral barrels. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV. As far as I can tell, the estate doesn’t have a website; for background, see The Vine Route profile.
Outgoing nose of dried herbs, white fruit, a sprinkling of anise seed, a hint of dried banana and some charry ash. Not fruity but weighty on the palate. Not bone dry either, though the residual sugar is counterbalanced by acidity and a fine bitterness. Long, vaporous finish with lemon and mineral notes. Impressive, imposing, a white to contend with, the very definition of a food wine: Grill a sea bass and, just before it’s finished cooking, toss some dried thyme sprigs soaked in Pernod onto the coals under the fish. Serve with a squirt of lemon and a drizzle of fragrant olive oil. You’re welcome. (Buy again? Yes, with sea bass in hand.)

Written by carswell

March 5, 2013 at 13:33

Vin de beauté

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Ajaccio 2009, Faustine, Domaine Comte Abbatucci (c. $35, Vini-Vins, 12 bottles/case)
Sciacarello (70%) blended with Nielluccio from biodynamically farmed 10- to 15-year-old vines. Macerated 40 days, fermented with ambient yeasts, aged in concrete vats. Around 20,000 bottles are made per vintage. 13% ABV.
Maquis with cedary overtones; sun-baked earth and stones; dried red berries. Medium-bodied. Muted and dried herby on the attack, followed by a light wave of not very sweet fruit (morello cherry?), tingly acidity and fine, astringent tannins that persist through the long, mineral and leaf-scented finish (tobacco? herbs?). Very dry and austere, yet seductive. Very close to the earth, yet noble. About three hours after carafing, it had sweetened and smoothed though lost none of its savour. Final thoughts: Burgundy-like weight, Chianti-like structure, flavour profile all its own. Drink slightly chilled.

Last I checked – a couple of weeks ago – this was still available (Vini-Vins’s website is little more than a placeholder, having been en construction for months, and they don’t have a mailing list). The price is approximate because I didn’t pay for the case and so haven’t seen the final bill.

I first encountered the wine at the Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack cookbook launch party, where Vini-Vins and Rézin each had a table of bottles from a half dozen or so estates poured by their respective winemakers. Gobsmacked by the 2006 Bandol rouge from Château Sainte-Anne, the other members of the party didn’t try the remaining wines on the Vini-Vins table and, a few days later, I failed in my attempt to find people to go in on a case. Fast-forward to June, when wapiti called to rave about a wine he’d been served at Café Sardine – the 2009 Faustine rouge – and inquire whether I’d be interested in splitting a case. (A Groundhog Day-like repeat occurred a few weeks ago, only this time the venue was Hôtel Herman and the wine was the 2010 Faustine blanc.)

Oddly, about the same time, friends who had spent part of the previous summer vacationing on the Île de beauté, invited me over for dinner. Two beautiful dry whites were served double-blind and I was instructed to identify their provenance. The texture and flavours pointed to the Mediterranean, the maquis on the nose suggested Corsica. Bingo: Abbatucci’s high-end cuvées, the best Corsicans they had encountered during their two visits to the island. As it turns out, both are also carried by Vini-Vins.

All of which is to say: this is an exceptional estate that makes outstanding wines and we’re fortunate to have access to them.

Written by carswell

August 20, 2012 at 16:09

MWG May 11th tasting: report (3/5)

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Sierra Foothills 2010, Vin Gris d’Amador, Terre Rouge ($22.10, 11629710)
Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, though neither the estate’s website nor the wine’s Quebec rep say in what proportions. This is a saignée method rose, meaning the juice is “bled” from the red wine tanks. Matured in used French oak barrels, like the estate’s white wines.
Dark red-orange-pink. Caramel, dried herbs, spice, nectarine, crab apple. Heavy, cloyingly sweet fruit, insufficient acidity and little depth. Several people around the table were drop-jawed at Phaneuf’s rave (“Sec, minéral, à la fois délicat et persistant et doté d’un très bel équilibre d’ensemble. Bravo !“). (Buy again? Nope.)

Tavel 2011, La Dame Rousse, Domaine de la Mordorée ($24.80, 11629664)
Perhaps the biggest name in the appellation. Grenache (60%), Cinsault (10%), Mourvèdre (10%), Syrah (10%), Bourboulenc (5%) and Clairette (5%) from 40-year-old vines. Cold-macerated for 48 hours before pressing.
Deep pink bordering on light red. Classic Tavel nose of peach/nectarine, strawberry and garrigue. Dense, winey texture. Dry. The fruit sits heavily on the palate. One-dimensional and unrefreshing. Hot finish (14.5% ABV). (Buy again? For Tavel lovers only, i.e. not for me.)

Coteaux du Languedoc  2011, Prestige, Château Puech-Haut ($19.35, 11629891)
Grenache and Cinsault, fermented and matured in stainless steel. Packaged in a frosted bottle with an embossed seal and glass stopper; a few liked the look, others declared it tacky.
Very pale, almost white. Light nectarine and minerals on the nose. More flavourful than expected, with light, pure fruit and refreshing acidity. Alcohol flares a little on the finish. The best of the bunch, which is not saying much. (Buy again? Probably not.)

Bandol 2010, Mas de la Rouvière ($23.10, 11657403)
The estate has been converting to organic farming since 2006. Mourvèdre (40%), Grenache (30%) and Cinsault (30%). Fermented at controlled temperatures for around 30 days.
Intriguing nose of nectarine with herbal (celery, green pepper) notes. Ripe but not heavy fruit. Some minerality. Fair acidity. Falls flat on the finish. Drinkable is about the best you can say for it. (Buy again? No.)

To go by these four Cellier picks, the SAQ is maintaining its dismal track record with rosés. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are fine pink wines being made in France, Spain and even California, but the only way Quebecers can buy them is on a private import basis. Speaking of which…

Corse Calvi 2011, Fiumeseccu rosé, Domaine Alzipratu ($22.05, 12 btls/case, oenopole)
A blend of saignée and directly pressed juice, mostly Sciacarello though a little Nielluccio may also have made its way into the mix.
Tried this at the April Pork Futures event and immediately knew it would be one of the best rosés – if not the best – that I’ll taste this year. It’s true to the house style: light, refreshing, food- and terrace-friendly, with notes of pink grapefruit and nectarine, a whiff of garrigue and vibrant acidity. The 2011 also struck me as the most minerally Fiumeseccu to date.

Written by carswell

May 19, 2012 at 11:51