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Posts Tagged ‘Critter label

Drunk back to life

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Shrugging off its rumoured demise, the Mo’ Wine Group officially met last week for the first time in nearly a year. Plans are to continue holding tastings, probably monthly.

The relaunch was timed to coincide with the arrival of a new shipment of Georgian wines from Pheasant’s Tears. It also featured other wines from La QV’s portfolio and was led by the agency’s numero uno, Cyril Kérébel, soldiering on despite a recently broken ankle.

As befitted a celebratory occasion, we began with a sparkler, in this case an off-white from one of the group’s favourite producers.

Burgenland 2017, Foam White, Meinklang ($40.40, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A 100% Pinot Gris pét-nat from biodynamically farmed vines planted on the winery’s Austrian – as opposed to Hungarian – estate. Spontaneous fermentation. Part of the wine was made in concrete eggs. To go by the colour and texture, it spent some time on the skins. Not disgorged. Unfiltered and unsulphured. Vegan-compatible. Crown-capped. Residual sugar: 1.2 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Slightly hazy bronze-pink with peach glints. Quickly rising foam quickly disappears. Fruity nose (peach, cherry, blood orange) with sandstone, “apple skin” (to quote another taster) and distant yogurt notes. Super-dry, softly effervescent, clean and minerally. Possessing a certain, well, if not weight then density. A stream of acidity runs throughout and is joined by a faint tannic bitterness that textures the long finish. Lingering “chamomile and tea.” Interesting – satisfying, even – though not particularly charming and more a food wine than an aperitif sparkler. (Buy again? Yes, a bottle to spend more time with the wine, ideally alongside some white fish in a light cream sauce.)

MWG March 20th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Greek trio

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Crete 2015, Vilana, Lyrarakis ($14.05, 11607553)
100% Vilana from vineyards in Alagni, central Crete, south-southeast of Heraklion. Manually harvested. Half the grapes were whole-cluster pressed; the other half were destemmed and cold-macerated on the skins for several hours. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled (17-19°C) stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Focus Cellars.
Chalk, quartz, matches and a hint of dried herbs. Clean, light and smooth in the mouth, with citrusy, Sauvignon Blanc-like fruit, good acidity and a decently long, clean, minerally finish. Certainly drinkable but also somewhat simple and a bit anonymous. Would like to taste the more upscale bottling. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Patras 2015, Roditis, Tetramythos Winery ($15.80, 12484575)
100% Roditis from organically farmed vines in limestone-soil vineyards located about 10 km south and 800 metres above the Gulf of Corinth. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and pneumatically pressed. The must is gravity-fed into small, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Expressive nose of candied white berries, quartz dust and a hint of jalapeño. The fruity extract and lemon overtones notwithstanding, minerally – even rainwatery – on the palate, an impression only heightened by the brisk acidity. Ripe-sweet upfront, dry on the long, saline finish. Direct and to the point. Experience shows this really comes into its own with a selection of meze or a grilled porgy. (Buy again? Yes.)

Markopoulo 2015, Savatiano, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Papagiannakos ($16.55, 11097451)
100% Savatiano from unirrigated 50-year-old vines in rocky, limestone soil a few kilometres east of Athens airport. Manually harvested. Fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (16-18°C) stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for three months. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The nose’s combination of floral notes, sandy beach, lemon curd and white peach is unique. Lemon with hints of tropical fruit, a mineral substrate and bright but unaggressive acidity mark the palate. A bitter thread weaves through the long finish. Probably the most versatile of the trio. As the 2008 Estate bottling tasted last summer showed, Savatiano is capable of improving with age. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to cellar for five or six years.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

January 27, 2017 at 14:49

Mottura mouth

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Civitella d’Agliano 2015, Poggio della Costa, Sergio Mottura ($23.50, 10782309)
100% Grechetto from organically farmed 30-year-old vines grown in the Poggio della Costa vineyard. Manually harvested, soft-pressed, cold-settled, fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) tanks for 20 days. Matured on the lees in tanks for six months. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Filtered. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Subtle, wafting nose of minerals (quartz), preserved lemon, straw with some flowers in it, “fennel bulb” (per another taster) and a saline note. Lemony and “chalky” in the mouth, the zingy acidity balanced by the not inconsiderable extract. A faint bitterness marks the long, clean, minerally finish. Simpler than the Orvieto but ultimately more appealing. (Buy again? Yes.)

Orvieto 2015, Tragugnano, Sergio Mottura ($22.40, 11660830)
A blend of organically farmed, well, what? The winemaker says Procanico (aka Trebbiano, 45%), Verdello (25%), Grechetto (20%) and Rupeccio (10%, so obscure it’s not mentioned in Wine Grapes)., the Quebec agent and some online merchants say Grechetto (50%), Procanico (40%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10 %). Whichever variety they are, the grapes come from the estate’s oldest vineyard (35 years old) and are manually harvested, vinified separately and blended and filtered just before bottling. Fermented with selected yeasts and matured on the lees until the spring in stainless steel vats. Reducing sugar: 1.2 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Reductive, “skunky” aromas dissipate leaving fruit (“dried mango”) and floral aromas. Very dry and quite extracted. Rounder and a bit blander than the Poggio della Costa, showing a little less personality, though far from a wallflower. Citrus and minerals run into the long finish, where they’re joined by a hint of Sauvignon Blancy grassiness and that telltale bitterness. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

November 14, 2016 at 12:56

Data-free sparklers

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Prince Edward County 2011, Blanc de blancs, Culmination, Traditional Method, Lighthall Vineyards ($35.00 at the winery)
Good luck finding technical information about this wine; the winery appears to think only the wines currently available for purchase online deserve mention. 100% Chardonnay. May have been fermented in French oak barrels. May have been matured on the lees in French oak barrels. 12% ABV.
Subdued nose: lemon, “boxwood,” yeast, yellow apple, puff pastry. Assertively fizzy (“almost harsh the bubbles”) but otherwise light, even ethereal. Clean, dry, brightly acidic with just enough fruit and a long tart finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Canada 2011, Blanc de noirs, À la volée, The Old Third (c. $45.00 at the winery a few years ago)
No mention of this wine is made on the winery’s website. 100% Pinot Noir from the estate’s Prince Edward County vineyard. May have spent 18 months to three years on the lees. May have been manually riddled and disgorged. May be undosed. 12.5% ABV.
Brioche, almond croissant, yellow apple, pear and an oxidized note that one taster termed “rancio.” Rich but not heavy. Softly effervescent with fine bubbles. Rounder, smoother, deeper and better balanced than the Lighthall – technically speaking the better of the two wines – but, oddly, not more interesting. Still, one of the few New World sparklers that can stand comparison with champagne. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 2 of 8

Back in 2012, I wrote:

Trying to find technical information on PEC wines is an exercise in frustration. Want to know if a wine was aged in barrels, what the barrels were made from, who they were made by, what percentage was new? Curious about what grapes in what proportion went into the wine? Wondering what kind of agricultural practices are used? Whether a wine is filtered, fined or sulphured? You probably won’t find many if any answers to those and other technical questions on the winery’s website. Yes, some of these are tiny operations. But others aren’t (looking at you, Norman Hardie). And anyway, winemakers, you have this information. It can be typed up in five minutes. It doesn’t have to be nicely presented; the people interested in it don’t give a damn about formatting. What’s important is that it be available. As things stand now, we’re forced to scour the Web for reviews and reports on winery visits, and even when we find information on blogs or in articles, it’s incomplete and often contradictory.

How discouraging to see the situation remains unchanged.

Written by carswell

September 6, 2016 at 12:51

Bargain Agioritiko

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IGP Peleponese 2013, Agiorgitiko, Pathos, Tsantali ($12.00, 12698531)
As for the Pathos white, technical info is short on the ground. 100% Agiorgitiko given a short maceration on the skins and short maturation on the lees. Reducing sugar: 2.1 g/l. 12.8% ABV. Quebec agent: Amphora.
Plum and black cherry, a bit jammy, with light spice and what comes across as a hint of oak. Develops musky marzipan notes as it breathes. Medium-bodied. The ripe fruit up front is backed by darker mineral and earth flavours and a faint swirl of caramel. The acidity is fleet, the tannins slim but springy. Remarkably dry from the mid-palate on, an impression only reinforced by the light astringency that comes to the fore as the fruit fades. Lingering cherry pit and ash. Not deep or complex and certainly not enthralling but clean, sound and drinkable – no excuses need be made. Is there a better SAQ red at the price? (Buy again? Yes.)

Like the white, was $11.35 until the SAQ’s latest round of price hikes. In this case, that works out to a nearly 6% increase.

Written by carswell

March 13, 2016 at 15:43

Bargain Moschofilero

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IGP Peleponese 2014, Moschofilero, Pathos, Tsantali ($12.00, 12700354)
Technical information is hard to come by for this wine; the producer provides no details on its website and the agency doesn’t even list it on theirs. Are the grapes purchased or estate-grown? Organically farmed? Is the wine fermented with native yeasts? Allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation? Filtered and fined? Your guess is as good as mine. Pathos (παθος), Greek for passion, is the name of this new and apparently Quebec-only line. A drawing of Aristotle adorns the front label. 100% Moschofilero. Short maceration on the skins. Short maturation on the lees. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 12.8% ABV. Quebec agent: Amphora.
A bit musky and honeyed on the nose, with faint lemon and grapefruit aromas. In the mouth, it’s smooth, clean and very dry with a somewhat honeyed texture. The mild flavours tend to apple, pear, citrus and eventually peach, all infused with chalky minerals and buoyed by soft acidity. A light astringent sourness adds interest to the fair, butter-afternoted finish. Not a ton of personality (see Tselepos, among others, for that) but enjoyable enough and very drinkable. Despite the SAQ’s recent price hike (was $11.35 until a week or two ago), the QPR is high on this one. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

March 11, 2016 at 09:37

Salon VIP 2014: Root day at Rézin (5/7)

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Burgenland 2012, Blaufränkisch, Heideboden, Weingut Pittnauer ($24.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located near the village of Gols, on the northeastern shore of the Neusiedlersee not far from the Hungarian border, the estate is renowned for its St. Laurents and Pinot Noirs. This 100% Blaufränkisch come from biodynamically and organically farmed quarter-century old vines grown in the Heideboden vineyard. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks at 27°C. Matured 12 months in neutral barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Dark berries, flowers, spice and graphite on the nose. Fresh and lively in the mouth. Supple tannins provide just enough grit while streaming acidity carries the juicy, very dry fruit (mainly cherry) into a clean, minerally finish. Modern in its elegance but classic in its down-to-earthiness. Food-friendly to the max. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

November 16, 2014 at 11:28

Get a grip?

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Douro 2012, Diálogo, Niepoort ($16.85, 12098033)
A blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo) and Tinta Amarela, among others (for what it’s worth, gives the proportions of the named varieties as 40%, 30%, 20% and 10% respectively), from vines averaging ten to 20 years old. Manually harvested. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats, malolactic fermentation in large barrels and stainless steel vats. The wine is matured 12 months in used 225-litre French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. 13% ABV. If I’m not mistaken, the wine is marketed with country-specific comic strip labels and even cuvée names (e.g. Twisted, not Diálogo, in the States). The local bottling – titled Hunter – comes with a critter label of sorts drawn by Montrealer Claude Cloutier. Quebec agent: Alivin Canada.
Subdued, dry-smelling nose of plum, black cherry, pencil lead, old wood, savoury herbs and definite balsam notes. Disconcerting on first sip: not limp but virtually gripless. The acidity and tannins are so soft your attention settles on the supple, pure and fresh if dry fruit. A faint lactic vanilla streak colours the otherwise ephemeral finish. A half-hour in the carafe adds a little depth and vibrancy, but this welterweight is most notable for its elusive substantiality. Looking for a red wine to go with your piri-piri chicken? You got it. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Written by carswell

July 15, 2014 at 17:30

MWG June 12th tasting: Red banner

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Crozes-Hermitage 2012, Et la bannière…, Matthieu Barret SARL ($37.35, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Matthieu Barret is the owner-winemaker at Domaine du Coulet, three of whose Cornases the MWG enjoyed in December 2012. The eponymous SARL is his crittertastic négociant label. This is 100% biodynamically and organically farmed Syrah, the only red grape variety allowed in the appellation. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and pump-overs. The resulting wine is racked, matured for 12 months, then bottled unfiltered and unfined with a small amount of sulphur (2 g/hl), the only additive used in making the wine. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Complex, umami-rich nose: plum, oyster sauce/tamari, forest floor, hints of chocolate, smoke, Thai basil and violet. Smooth and velvety though loaded with acidity (so pure and intense is the fruit, you hardly notice). Round tannins, rumbling minerals and a long, juicy finish complete the picture. Vibrant and delicious. Not cheap but if you can find a more appealing Syrah at the price in Quebec, I’d love to hear about it. (Buy again? Yes!)

Written by carswell

July 8, 2014 at 17:49

MWG March 20th tasting (2/7): Flat whites?

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Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2012, Panizzi ($20.90, 12102821)
100% Vernaccia. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Gently crushed, no maceration. Fermented in temperature-controlled (18°C) tanks. Transferred to other tanks for five months’ maturation. 13% ABV.
Straw, chalk and quartz, eventually offering up faint stone fruit and lemon. Clean and intense. Starts dry but sweetens as it goes along. Possessed of a certain richness – largely extract – that’s balanced by acidity. Long, minerally finish with a telltale bitter almond note. A second bottle showed better at table. The best Vernaccia sold at the SAQ in a coon’s age, though less accomplished than the private import Barzaghi tasted last year. (Buy again? Sure.)

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2010, Il Coroncino, Fattoria Coroncino ($23.55, 11952138)
100% Verdicchio from vines in the Coroncino and Cerrete vineyards. Farming is organic, though uncertified, and no fertilizers are used. Manually harvested, gently pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (20°C) stainless steel tanks. Whether the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation is left to nature. Matured in stainless steel tanks. Minimal sulphur is added at bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Oxidized butter, flowers, yellow apple, dried lemon, ash. Rich, smooth, concentrated but not heavy. Fruit is present but Heisenbergian: when you look for it, it evanesces. Layered, with substrata of tangy acid and dusty chalk. Long, bitter-edged, moreish. A bottle consumed a couple of weeks after the tasting proved even more compelling and made a surprisingly good match for asparagus gratinéed with Parmesan cheese and topped with a fried egg. (Buy again? Yes.)

IGT Civitella d’Agliano 2012, Poggio della Costa, Sergio Mottura ($21.75, 10782309)
100% Grechetto from organically farmed vines grown in the Poggio della Costa vineyard. Soft-pressed, cold-settled, fermented in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) tanks for 15 to 25 days. Matured on the lees in tanks for five or six months. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Screwcapped. 13.5% ABV.
Inexpressive nose of lemon and quartz dust. Bland and inexpressive in the mouth. Clean, medium-bodied, with lowish acidity, a saline finish and no personality. I quite enjoyed Mottura’s Orvietto last year but this was simply forgettable. Closed and in need of time? Let’s hope that’s the explanation. (Buy again? Only to give it a second chance.)

I had high hopes for this flight: three monovarietals from three iconic Italian white grapes made by three highly regarded producers. But all three wines fell flat at the tasting, generating little interest, with no one inquiring about availability. Did the cavas neutralize our palates? Were the planets improperly aligned? Are these wines that, like many central Italian reds, need food to show their mettle? That the two revisited after the tasting were capable of providing pleasure (especially the Coroncino) has me leaning toward the food hypothesis. Then again, I thought both made a fine aperitif on their own before I sat down to eat.

Written by carswell

April 14, 2014 at 21:45