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Posts Tagged ‘Critter label

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

¿Oso de peluche?

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Vino de la tierra de Castilla 2009, Venta La Ossa, Bodegas Mano a Mano ($22.80, 11465161)
Tempranillo (95%) and Syrah (5%). Spent 12 months in French oak barrels. 14.5% ABV.
Intriguing nose: candied cherry, plum, spice, slate, a green (not unripe) streak, oak. Full-bodied and plush. The fruit could be deeper, especially on the mid-palate, where it leaves a hollow that’s filled by a mildly astringent ashiness. The sneaky tannins reveal themselves only on the pepper and bitter chocolate finish. I was ignorant of what grapes this was made from and would never have guessed Tempranillo. Drinkable is about the best that can be said of it. The ursine label is pretty cool though.

Written by carswell

February 28, 2013 at 12:59

Mystery white

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Orvieto 2011, Tragugnano, Sergio Mottura ($19.25, 11660830)
A blend of organically farmed, well, what? The winemaker and the Quebec agent say Grechetto (50%), Procanico (40%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10 %). Several retailers and reviewers, including the Gazette’s Bill Zacharkiw, say Procanico, Verdello (by which they surely mean not the Iberian grape but… what? Friuli’s Verduzzo?) and Grechetto. I’m going with the winemaker since I get whiffs of Sauvignon. Whichever variety they are, the grapes come from the estate’s oldest vineyard and are vinified separately and blended just before bottling. Fermented (with selected yeasts) and matured (on the lees until the spring) in stainless steel vats. 13.5% ABV.
Lemon blossom and stones with a hint of gooseberry, powdered mustard and dried pine needles. Soft, round, even a little sweet-seeming on entry: quite extracted though not what you’d call fruity. Citrusy acid and minerals surge on the mid-palate and are joined by a bitterness that lingers through the clean, dry, lemon leaf finish. The combination of richness and minerally bite is special – Zacharkiw talks about Chablis but I keep returning to certain Alvarhinos and Godellos.

Not a good match for bay scallops and blanched, chopped rapini sautéed together in olive oil with minced anchovy, garlic and chile. The rapini brought out the wine’s bitter streak while the anchovy and garlic did a number on the fruit. In isolation the scallops worked with the wine, indicating that simply prepared seafood might be the way to go. Or try the winemaker’s suggestion of fresh pecorino or mozzarella with tomato and basil.

Written by carswell

February 11, 2013 at 10:23