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Posts Tagged ‘Deux Caves

L’autour d’Anne Paillet

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Anne Paillet is married to Greg Leclerc. In 2010, she decided to abandon her corporate career and become a natural winemaker. Wanting to make wines different from Leclerc’s, she has leased 2.5 hectares of biodynamically farmed vines from Languedoc winemaker Christophe Beau (Domaine Beauthorey in the Pic Saint-Loup region). Harvesting is manual and the grapes are vinified naturally, in concrete tanks with no added anything, in the Languedoc. Wanting to make wines different from your everyday Languedocs, she transports the just-fermented juice to Leclerc’s cellars in the Loire for malolactic fermentation, maturation, blending and bottling with no fining, filtering or added sulphur.

Depending on the date on which the wine leaves the Languedoc, it is labelled Coteaux du Languedoc or Vin de France. To avoid red tape and confusion, Paillet is reportedly planning to opt exclusively for the Vin de France designation in future vintages.

Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, C.S.G., Autour de l’Anne ($27.71, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Syrah and Grenache with a little Cinsault thrown in. The 40- to 60-yar-old vines are rooted in limestone and red clay. The grapes are vinified separately in tanks, with alcoholic fermentation typically lasting 12 to 14 days. Maturation in concrete tanks lasts 12 months. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Engaging nose of red and black fruit with hints of spice and faint burnt rubber. Medium-bodied, dry and savoury, with clean fruit and bright acidity. Fundamentally fluid and supple though not lacking tannic grit. The finish is long and minerally. As Loire-ish and it is Languedoc-ish, this is a wonderfully drinkable wine. What’s more, a few bottles remain available. (Buy again? Done!)

Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, Pot d’Anne, Autour de l’Anne ($55.47/1500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
The cuvée’s name, which translates as “Anne’s pot,” is a homonym of peau d’âne (donkey skin). 100% Cinsault from 20-year-old vines grown on limestone and red clay. Half the grapes are destemmed, the other half left as whole clusters. Semi-carbonic maceration in concrete tanks lasts 12 days. Maturation in concrete tanks lasts 12 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Pretty, perfumy nose of red and black fruit, including berries, overtoned with flowers, sawed wood and spice. Barely medium-bodied. The lightly juicy fruit is fresh and fluid, structured by supple tannins. Finishes long and clean. So, so drinkable. (Buy again? Moot but yes.)

At the second tasting, someone asked why the wines were so Loire-like. Could the fact that they were fermented with native yeasts explain it? Probably not, as the wines didn’t leave the Languedoc until alcoholic fermentation was completed. On the other hand, malolactic fermentation took place in the Loire, so indigenous bacteria could be a factor (though wouldn’t the wines also bring some Languedoc microflora with them?). To my mind, Max Campbell’s theory that the difference is due to the cooler temperatures of the Loire cellars seems more realistic.

As mentioned earlier, both tastings were followed by a light meal of salads, charcuterie and cheese. As the tail ends of the Deux Caves bottles were insufficient to slake the collective thirst, a few other wines were uncorked (gratitude to all who supplied them). I stopped taking notes at that point but wanted to mention four in passing.

Damien Coquelet’s Beaujolais-Villages “Fou du Beaujo” has long been a Mo’ Wine Group favourite. At the second tasting, the 2012 ($22.43, private import, La QV/Insolite, NLA) and 2014 ($19.20, 12604080) were served side by side. The 2012 was a thing of beauty: vibrant, fruity, sappy, fluid, lip-smacking. The 2014 seemed a little harder and less smiling, though whether that’s a function of the vintage, the age, this particular bottle or the filtering and/or sulphuring possibly required by the SAQ is anybody’s guess.

The Valle del Maule 2014, Pipeño, Collection Rézin, Louis-Antoine Luyt ($18.15, 12511887) is a lovable, natural Chilean wine made entirely using purchased País grapes from organcially farmed vines about a century and a half old. (Luyt buys the grapes – at fair trade prices – from his pickers, one of whose photograph appears on the label.) Fragrant and fruity, ripe and juicy, light and fresh, with frisky acidity, very soft tannins, a disarming rusticity and a quaffability quotient that’s off the charts. I’ve drunk more of this wine than any other this year and it was interesting to hear others who were just discovering it planning to buy cases the next time it rolls around.

The 2001 Château Coutet is a classic Barsac that’s showing beautifully. Rich but not heavy (good acidity), sweet but not saccharine. The complex flavours and aromatics are dominated by stone fruit and botrytis. The finish lasts for minutes. A deluxe end to a most enjoyable evening.

MWG September 27th tastings: flight 3 of 3

Lastly, here’s a link to another, much less tardy report on the tasting – one from which some of the earlier-cited technical information about Xavier Marchais comes – that was posted on the Quebec-based wine discussion board Fou du vin by a new and welcome addition to the Mo’ Wine Group. Du beau travail, Raisin Breton !

Le gros lot de Greg Leclerc

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A historian by training, Grégory Leclerc did stints as a journalist and marketer before falling into the world of natural wine-making. He purchased his four-hectare estate – downsized from the original 6.5 hectares, named Chahut et Prodiges and located in Chargé in the hills near Amboise in the Tourraine – in 2007. He farms organically and makes wines from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Côt and Grolleau. The land is worked using a tractor, though Leclerc says he may switch to horses at some point. Harvesting is manual. Vinification of the reds involves placing the whole clusters in concrete tanks for two to three weeks with no added sulphur and no punch-downs or pump-overs – a form of carbonic maceration, what? Pressing is slow and gentle. The wines are unfined and lightly filtered. No sulphur is added to the reds; a tiny amount is added to the whites at bottling.

Vin de France 2013, Le Coup de Canon, Domaine Chahut et Prodiges ($26.87, private import, 12 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Grolleau from 60-year-old vines grown on clay and flint. Matured around nine months in fibreglass tanks. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Lovely nose of Swedish berries, sandalwood, green earth and clean horse stable. Light-bodied and dry. The tart fruit is set on slate. Barely tannic with a silky texture and clean finish. The bottle at the second tasting showed even brighter and cheerier than the one at the first. Simple and appealing, as wines made from this variety should be. A vin plaisir that goes really well with charcuterie. (Buy again? Done!)

Vin de France 2013, La Meule, Domaine Chahut et Prodiges ($26.87, private import, 12 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Gamay from 25- to 30-year-old vines grown on clay and limestone. Matured around nine months in fibreglass tanks. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Sour red berries, smelling a bit candied, with gamy, slate and pastry overtones. Wonderfully pure, tart and juicy fruit, vibrant acidity and lacy tannins. Long, smooth finish. A complete wine that even Beaujolais sceptics might like. If Deux Caves hadn’t been sold out of this, the group would have ordered two or three cases on the spot. (Buy again? If only…)

Vin de France 2013, Les Têtes Noires, Domaine Chahut et Prodiges ($26.87, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Côt (aka Malbec). Matured in used barrels. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Darker, meatier nose, the fruit tending to roasted cherries and blackberries with slate and wood notes. Smooth on the palate, due in part to acidity that’s softer than the other Leclerc wines and a tannic structure that’s lighter than expected. Savoury finish though not a lot of follow-through. For me, the wine’s best quality is the purity of its fruit. (Buy again? Done!)

Vin de pays du Val de Loire 2012, Grolleau, Clau De Nell ($40.00, 12411763)
100% Grolleau from biodynamically farmed vines between 60 and 90 years old and grown in silty clay on tufa. Yields were a low 17 hl/ha. Harvested by hand and destemmed. Maceration and fermentation (indigenous yeasts) at 18 to 25°C and involving gentle punch-downs and limited pump-overs lasted 20 days. The grapes were then gently and slowly pressed with a pneumatic press. Half the wine was transferred to fifth-fill French oak casks from Burgundy and half to large vats for maturation on the fine lees, which lasted 12 months. The wine was bottled on a fruit day without filtering or fining.  12% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin-Robillard.
Raspberry-green pepper jelly with a hint of sawed wood. Extracted and dense bordering on heavy. Oddly, given the avoidance of new barrels, the oak treatment seemed a little too lavish and obvious for such a modest grape variety (and I wasn’t the only one to complain of such). Combine that with relatively low acidity and you have a lethargic wine, albeit one with a certain hefty presence. Bottom line: it’s a wine that tries to hard, that gives itself airs. Tellingly, the wine was served double-blind and no one guessed it was made from the same grape as the archetypal Coup de Canon. A few years in the cellar may improve things but who knows? While I’ve enjoyed earlier vintages, this is not what I’m looking for in a Grolleau. (Buy again? Nope.)

Mo’ Wine Group September 27th tastings: flight 2 of 3

Les elixirs de Xavier Marchais

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In late September, the Mo’ Wine Group initiated what we hope will be a near-monthly series of agency tastings, at which a representative from one of Quebec’s many wine agencies presents a selection of wines, usually private imports, from the agency’s portfolio.

Kicking off the series was one of the newest kids on the block, Deux Caves. (The agency’s name is a play on words, une cave being a cellar in French and un cave being a dumbass, an incompetent, a sucker.) The cave leading the tasting was Max Campbell, who earns an actual living pouring wine, serving tables and shucking oysters at Joe Beef and Vin Papillon; the other cave, Alexander Campbell (no relation to Max) is a Montrealer currently based in Dijon, where he’s studying oenology.

Deux Caves’s portfolio may be small for now but their focus is already clear: ultra-drinkable natural wines. In other words, right up the MWG’s alley, which is part of the reason why demand for seats at the tasting was so high that we ended up holding two sessions back to back (the promise of food, including a dish from Vin Papillon, may also have had something to do with it).

We began with a white and a red from Xavier Marchais, a young winemaker based in the Anjou region. His four hectares of vines (half Chenin, half Cabernet Franc) are farmed biodynamically using a horse and manual labour. Pesticides, herbicides and other synthetic products are systematically avoided. Wine-making is non-interventionist. For the two Elixir cuvées, fermentation (with indigenous yeasts, naturally) and maturation take place in used barriques. Cellar techniques are pretty much limited to crushing and punching down by foot, manual pressing and racking. No sugar or sulphur are added. The unfiltered and unfined wines are bottled by hand and closed with a crown cap (the red’s cap reportedly allows more oxygen exchange than the white’s, which may partially explain the white’s reductive side).

Vin de France 2013, L’Elixir de Jouvence, Xavier Marchais ($28.54, private import, 12 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Chenin Blanc grown on schist. Yields in 2012 were an incredibly low 13 hl/ha (probably similar in 2013). Matured 12 months. Crown-capped. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Reductive aromas on the nose and a faint spritz on the palate; carafing the wine well in advance helped to eliminate both. Engaging nose of wax, quince, lemon, minerals, honey, honeysuckle and straw/hay. Coming across as very close to the juice in the mouth. Dry, though, with zingy acidity, ethereal fruit, lots of minerals and a good, clean, tart finish. Light but vibrant and mouth-filling. The winemaker says this is young and more reduced than in other vintages. He also foresees a long life for it, predicting that the acidity will decease while the wine will become rounder and more aromatically complex. In the meantime, he suggests carafing it “violently.” (Buy again? In multiples.)

Vin de France 2013, L’Elixir de Longue Vie, Xavier Marchais ($26.87, private import, 12 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Cabernet Franc grown on schist and spilite. Yields in 2012 were 27 hl/ha (probably similar in 2013). Crown-capped. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Exuberant nose of red fruit with floral, spice and incense overtones but no green pepper. Less exuberant than expected on the palate. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. Very dry, again with ethereal fruit. The acidity is bright and the tannins soft. A streak of slate runs throughout and is joined by spice on the long finish. The bottle at the second tasting was mushroomier than the first. The group’s resident Cab Franc hater actually enjoyed this enough to buy a couple of bottles. (Buy again? Yes.)

Mo’ Wine Group September 27th tastings: flight 1 of 3