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Posts Tagged ‘Emilia-Romagna

The return of a favourite

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Emilia Rosso 2015, Trebbiolo, La Stoppa ($24.85, 11896501)
A blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) from organically farmed vines ranging up to 25 years old. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured five months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined. A small squirt of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Black raspberry candy, plum, earth, cedar sawdust, leather, slate and a whiff of distant barnyard. Medium-bodied. An almost imperceptible spritziness is apparent after a bite of something acidic. The ripe fruit seems sweet on entry, an impression soon shredded by the trenchant acidity, light but drying tannins and savoury flavours. Spice, dried herbs and minerals colour the mildly astringent finish. Perhaps a tad lighter and less rustic than the classic 2014 but still authentic, food-friendly* and fun. (Buy again? Yep.)

*As I said about the 2014: “Virtually begs for casual fare – think pizza, sausages, grilled pork – and can handle tomato with aplomb. Just don’t serve it too warm.” My bottle made a perfect pairing for cubed pork shoulder browned in olive oil and stewed with a whack of smothered onions, garlic, dried chile, white wine and San Marzano tomatoes, with cooked black-eyed peas added for the last half hour of simmering.

Written by carswell

October 20, 2017 at 11:42

The horse he rode in on

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Emilia Rosso 2014, Trebbiolo, La Stoppa ($23.10, 11896501)
A blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) from organically farmed three- to 20-year-old vines. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured five months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined. A small squirt of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Some barnyardy funk on opening but also mulberry, raspberry candies, old wood, earth and hints of game and papier d’Arménie. As is sometimes the case with this cuvée, there’s a bit of spritz that mostly dissipates, especially if the wine is carafed. That aside, it’s medium-bodied and very dry, full of tangy fruit, tart acidity and medium tannins with a nice rasp and an appealing astringency that lingers through the minerally finish. Virtually begs for casual fare – think pizza, sausages, grilled pork – and can handle tomato with aplomb. Just don’t serve it too warm. A return to form after the verging on off-dry 2013, this has some of the rustic appeal of the much missed Gutturnio, which cuvée it replaces. (Buy again? In multiples.)

Preparing this note for posting has my mouth watering, so much did I enjoy the wine. Several friends have also expressed delight with the 2014 (“back to being eminently quaffable” to quote one of them). All of which gives the lie to another local blogger’s claim that (translating here and below) “No one could like this. Undrinkable!”, something said blogger knows is untrue as he goes on to cherry-pick Cellartracker comments in support of his position while ignoring the majority of favourable reviews appearing alongside them. (Not that I place stock in scores, but the Cellartracker average is 89 points for the 2013 and 2014 and 87 points for the 2012. Wine Spectator reportedly rated it 89 points. Hardly undrinkable.)

Maybe the wine’s not to the blogger’s taste. Fine: de gustibus non disputandum est. Maybe he doesn’t “get” natural wines. Maybe he is unaware that wines from this area and nearby parts of Piedmont sometimes have – and are prized for – the funky, fizzy qualities he objects to. Maybe his particular bottle was actually defective, a possibility that doesn’t appear to have occurred to him. Or maybe his declaring not just his bottle but every bottle to be a “foul horse,” his suggesting that the winemaker, agent and SAQ were asleep at the switch, his screaming in all caps that the wine should “be withdrawn at once” point to another agenda.

Notwithstanding such irresponsible reporting, the 2014 Trebbiolo has been selling well and is already in low supply at or long gone from stores like the Laurier and Beaubien Sélections, whose customers tend to be more clued-in than others. If you look, you’ll find bottles here and there on the island in addition to the 60 or so on And if it’s the kind of wine that pushes your buttons, look you should.

Written by carswell

October 7, 2016 at 15:17

More research required

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IGT Emilia Rosso 2013, Trebbiolo,  La Stoppa ($21.80, 11896501)
A blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) from organically farmed six- to 23 year-old vines. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured five months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined. A small squirt of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 7.9 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Earthy nose of spicy red fruit with slate and leather overtones. Medium-bodied. Rounder and less dry than in earlier vintages. A little hard-candied on entry, the fragrant fruit is savouried by dried herb notes, souring acidity and a soft astringency that lingers through the medium-long finish. Still, even when drunk with food (in this instance, an onion and meguez pizza), the wine’s residual sugar is apparent; it’s not enough to be disagreeable but it is enough to be distracting. I suspect and hope it’s an artefact of the vintage and not a concession to the North American fad for off-dry red wines. (Buy again? Another bottle to see what’s up. And bottles of the 2014 when it rolls around, for sure.)

Trebbiolo and its predecessor, Gutturnio, have long been among my favourite everyday Italian reds, so I jumped on this new arrival when I ran across it at the SAQ. On opening a bottle, I was surprised to find it sweeter than expected – enough that I immediately went to to check the wine’s reducing sugar content, which turned out to be nearly double the 4 g/l widely considered the upper limit for dry reds. Not finding the wine really compatible with the savoury pizza, I drank half the bottle and saved the other half, which I tried a couple of days later with a roasted rack of suckling pig. And, indeed, the wine showed better, though whether that was due to the dish, my mood or two days’ carafing is unclear to me. What is clear is that the two wine advisors I’ve since spoken to at two SAQ stores both loved the wine and claimed not to have noticed any sweetness; one of them even described it as food-friendly and un peu rustique, which is exactly how I would have characterized the 2010, 2011 and 2012. Obviously, more research is required.

Written by carswell

November 6, 2015 at 15:44

Orange is the new white

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IGT Emilia 2011, Ageno, La Stoppa ($41.00, 12512046)
Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (60%) with Ortrugo and Trebbiano (for whatever reason, says 60% Malvaisa Nera and 40% Tebbiano) from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old. Macerated on the skins for 30 days. Fermented with native yeasts. Aged 12 months, 50% in stainless steel vats and 50% in used French oak barrels, followed by another two years in bottle. Unfined. Lightly filtered but no added sulphur. Reducing sugar content: 2.3 g/l. 13.5% ABV. About 10,000 bottles made. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Kaleidoscopic nose redolent of fresh and dried fruit (white, yellow and citrus), spice, flowers and lots more. Equally multifaceted in the mouth. Bone dry. Bright yet weighty, fluid yet chewy. The fruit tends to apricot and is shot through with straw and minerals. Surprisingly tannic especially on the long, bitter-edged finish. Involving and fascinating, though about as far from your basic vin plaisir as a white wine gets. Will surely benefit from a few more years in the bottle. If opening now, carafe it up to a day in advance, serve it at cool room temperature and drink it with food (veal in cream sauce or various cheeses spring to mind). (Buy again? Definitely.)

MWG March 12th tasting: flight 7 of 7.

Written by carswell

May 15, 2015 at 13:09

MWG April 17th tasting (4/6): The Greek, the Beauj’ and the Funky

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Naoussa 2012, Jeunes vignes de Xinomavro, Domaine Thymiopoulos ($18.70, 12212220)
100% biodynamically farmed Xinomavro from ten-year-old vines. Manually harvested. 80% destemmed, 20% whole cluster pressed. Very gentle pressing. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and no pump-overs. Macerated about one week, then matured nine months in stainless steel tanks. Bottled unfiltered. 13.5% ABV.
A bit stinky on opening, as sometimes happens with this wine. That quickly blew off, leaving a charming nose of slate, candied red berries and spice. Denser than some earlier vintages but still fresh and supple, the fruit pure, the acidity bright and the tannins light and just a little raspy. Dried herbs, spice and minerals add savour. Finishes clean and tangy. Yet another winner from Thymiopoulos. (Buy again? In multiples.)

Morgon 2012, Marcel Lapierre ($30.50, Rézin, NLA)
This was the “nature” bottling available through the private import channel, not the filtered and more heavily sulphured SAQ bottling. 100% organically farmed Gamay from 60-year-old vines. Manually harvested late in the season. Whole-cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts at low temperatures lasts ten to 20 days. Matured nine months on the fine lees in old Burgundy oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with minimal sulphur. 12.5% ABV.
Cherry, stones, vine sap and faint spice. Silky fruit, bright acidity, supple tannins and that Lapierre trick of being both etherial and intense. Slow-fade finish with lingering scents of minerals, berries and flowers. Classic and delicious. I’m guessing this will peak in two to three years. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vino da tavola 2011, Rosso frizzante, Sottobosco, Ca’ de Noci ($24.00, Ward & associés, NLA)
A blend of organically farmed Lambrusco Grasparossa (30%), Lambrusco di Montericco (30%), Malbo Gentile (20%) and Sgavetta (20%) from ten-year-old vines. Manually harvested. The grapes are macerated for around ten days on their skins and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Refermentation in the bottle (to produce the sparkle) is also natural. Unfiltered and unfined. 11% ABV.
Popped and poured. The wildly funky nose elicited all kinds of reactions, including the descriptor fetid. The miasma lifted some as the wine breathed, allowing hints of slate and red and black fruit to emerge. (A taster who had previously encountered the wine said ours was an unusually stinky bottle.) In the mouth, it’s bone dry, tart and astringent. The light fizz adds a mild creaminess that polishes, if only a little, the coarse texture. Surprisingly mouth-filling fruit and earthy flavours last well into the finish. Despite everything, good enough to make you think a cleaner bottle might have a genuine rustic appeal. (Buy again? With my fingers crossed.)

The common thread in this flight was wines that would work with charcuterie. Our cured meats came in the form of duck prosciutto and pork and duck rillettes from Pork Futures and a gifted dry sausage whose provenance I don’t recall. While all three wines proved up to the task, I found the Naoussa best with the prosciutto, the Morgon best with the fatty, mild rillettes and the Sottobosco best with the prosciutto and the dark flavoured sausage.

oenopole workshop: charcuteries + uve italiane (2/3)

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The workshop’s raison d’être was the second flight and its centrepiece, a long board covered with an impressive array of charcuterie made by Ségué Lepage of Le Comptoir charcuteries et vins: buttery pork liver mousse, dried sausages flavoured with fennel seed or cumin, coppa, soppressata, porchetta di testa (slices of a large rolled sausage, the Italian take on headcheese), pâté de campagne, chorizo and a couple I’m forgetting. Accompaniments included cornichons, pickled fennel and Le Comptoir’s irresistible cumin “mustard,” though the quality of the salumi was so high they seemed unnecessary, like gilt for a lily.

Sangiovese di Romagna 2011, Scabi, San Valentino ($18.00, 11019831)
The 28-hectare estate is located just inland from Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast. 100% Sangiovese from decade-old vines. Manually harvested, destemmed, macerated at low temperature for eight days then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Half the wine is matured in stainless steel and half in second-fill oak barrels for six months. Sulphur is added only at bottling. 14% ABV.
Dired cherry, spice, background leather, turned earth and terracotta and a kirschy high note. Velevty texture. Fruit forward but not a bomb, thanks in part to the coursing acidity. Dark minerals and just a hint of oak add depth. Fine tannins lend an astringent edge to the finish. The best vintage of this wine to date and a definite QPR winner. (Buy again? Yep.)
> Handled the crazy delicious pork liver mousse better than any other wine in the flight. Ditto the chile-spiced sausages, probably due to its juicy fruit. Still, this food-friendly wine is arguably even better suited to fare like grilled meats and vegetables and savoury, tomato-based pasta dishes (spaghetti with meat ragu or pesto rosso, for example).

Langhe 2011, Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco ($23.10, 11383617)
100% Nebbiolo from young vines, all of which are located within the Barbaresco DOC. Fermented with selected “Barolo” yeasts at 28ºC in stainless steel tanks. Macerated on the skins for 24 days. Matured six months in very large oak barrels. No fining, light filtering, minimal sulphur dioxide. 14.5% ABV according to the label; 13.5% ABV according to the SAQ (I suspect the label is closer to the truth).
Cherry, underbrush, slate, old wood, hints of truffle and kirsch. Smooth and silky, with clean fruit, bright acidity and fine, supple tannins. Underlying minerals give depth. Good length and beautiful balance. As predicted, this has come together in the months since it first appeared on the SAQ’s shelves. Unbeatable QPR. (Buy again? Of course.)
> Best with the very fresh-tasting pâté de campagne and coppa. It also played interestingly with the spice in the cumin saucisson, whose saltiness brought out the wine’s fruit.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2010, Classico, Azienda Agricola COS ($33.75, 11577391)
Biodynamically farmed Nero d’Avola (60%) and Frappato (40%) from 25-year-old vines. Temperature-controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats. Aged in barrels for 18 to 24 months. Bottled unfiltered. 13% ABV.
Beautiful wafting nose: dried cherry and cranberry, garrigue, sun-baked earth, air-dried beef. Medium-bodied with a silky, almost Burgundian texture. The fruit, as savoury as sweet, glows with a soft acidity. Slatey minerals and fine but lightly raspy tannins add texture and interest. Long and, above all, remarkably fresh. (Buy again? Yes, despite the 15% price increase from last year’s 2009.)
> Probably the most versatile wine of the bunch. Didn’t clash with anything, was relatively unfazed by the chile-flavoured sausages but went especially well with the fennel sausage.

Barolo 2009, Serralunga, Principiano Ferdinando ($39.75, 11387301)
Principiano’s entry-level Barolo. 100% Nebbiolo grapes from 3.5 hectares of young vines. The hand-picked, crushed grapes ferment with indigenous yeasts and no added sulfur for about a month. Matured 24 months in 20- and 40-hectolitre barrels and then in bottle. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. Vegan-compatible. Annual production: about 20,000 bottles. 14% ABV.
Cherry, a bit candied (PEZ if you must know), mowed field, old wood, iron dust, hint of vanilla and violet. Medium-bodied. Richly flavoured but fresh, a mouthful of satiny fruit with soft spicy overtones, lacy if drying tannins and sleek acidity. Elegant, complete, a pleasure to drink. A second bottle opened two days later came across as a little less special (bottle variation? different context?) but still attention-worthy. Not a long ager though it won’t suffer – and may well benefit – from a year or two in the cellar. Another QPR winner. (Buy again? Yes.)
> Achieved synergy with the superb prochetta di testa. Surprisingly good with the liver pâté. Handled the cumin and fennel sausages with aplomb though the coppa let more of the wine come through.

Barolo 2008, Fratelli Alessandria ($41.25, 11797094)
100% Nebbiolo from six vineyards. Manually harvested. Fermented and macerated from 12 to 15 days in temperature-controlled tanks. Matured 32 to 34 months in large Slavonian and French oak casks, two months in stainless steel tanks and six or more months in the bottle. 14% ABV.
A nose more tertiary than the Principiano’s: coffee and cherry with hints of chocolate, licorice, raw meat, truffle, fresh herbs, tomato. The richest and roundest of the Nebbiolos though still medium-bodied. Savoury fruit, plush, firm tannins, chugging acidity and a long, vaporous finish. In contrast to the nose, still a bit primary on the palate, though far from inaccessible. (Buy again? Yes.)
> Worked best with the mildly flavoured dried sausages, the porchetta di testa and the cured meats. The chile-spiced sausages brought out the tannins and the liver mousse give it a faintly metallic taste. Would probably be more at home with a rabbit and mushroom ragu served over pappardelle and showered with Parmesan.

The wines’ lively acidity and savoury character meant they all paired well with these fatty, salty foods. For me, the most unexpected aspect of the tasting was seeing how the different Nebbiolos worked – or didn’t – with a given charcuterie, in particular the pork liver mousse. That said, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the higher-end wines were a bit out of place, that, however convincingly, they were slumming a little. A fascinating exercise, then, but one I’d love to repeat with more rustic wines, like certain Barberas, Dolcettos, Pelavergas and Ruchès.

Written by carswell

October 20, 2013 at 15:24

MWG March 21st tasting (5/6): Quartetto Sangiovese

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Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva 2008, Il Moro, Tenuta Villa Trentola ($26.75, 11735766)
100% Sangiovese. Manually harvested and sorted. Crushed and destemmed, then fermented and macerated in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for two weeks. Matured in oak barrels for 12 months. 14.5% ABV.
Classic Sagiovese nose of black cherry, tobacco. terracotta and cedar. The impressively pure, ripe fruit is firmed by sturdy tannins and keen acidity. Background minerals linger through the finish. The oak and alcohol are discreet. The best QPR of the bunch. (Buy again? Sure.)

Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva 2008, Pruno, Drei Donà (Tenuta La Palazza) ($39, 11295473)
100% Sangiovese from the estate’s best vineyards. Manually harvested and sorted. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 28–30ºC for 12 to 18 days with pumping over several times a day. After malolactic fermentation, transferred to French oak barrels for 15 to 18 months. Bottled unfiltered. 14.5% ABV.
Black cherry, cedar shakes, slate and a whiff of new sneakers. Sweet, velvety fruit, integrated tannins, bright acidity and an oak-sweetened if bitter-edged finish. Not particularly complex or deep but tasty and suave. (Buy again? Maybe, though the QPR seems low, at least at this stage in its development.)

Sangiovese di Romagna 2008, Il Prugnolo, Tenuta Villa Trentola ($19.20, 11875890)
100% Sangiovese. Manually harvested, crushed, destemmed. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks with twice daily pump-overs lasts at least two weeks. Matured in stainless steel tanks. 14.5% ABV.
Powdered slate, wet ashtray, meat, plastic and a combination of cocoa, cream and coffee that one taster pegged as “tiramisu.” As ashy as fruity on the palate (odd since it isn’t barrel-aged). On the lighter side of medium-bodied. Without compensating fruit, the grape variety’s natural acidity and tannins leave an impression of sourness and astringency and the wine’s alcohol one of heat. (Buy again? No.)

Chianti Classico Riserva 2009, Tenuta di Nozzole ($24.55, 11881878)
The estate is part of the Folonari stable. 100% Sanvgiovese. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 28ºC. Macerated for 12 days. After malolactic fermentation, transferred to large Slavonian oak barrels for 12 months’ maturation. 14.5% ABV.
Floral and sweet on the nose. Oaky in the mouth, the wood for now dominating the rich fruit. Moderate tannins and acidity and decent length. Needs more time? (Buy again? Unlikely.)

Written by carswell

March 31, 2013 at 13:52

MWG March 21st tasting (4/6): Bubbly, dry and red

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IGT Emilia 2011, Lambrusco, Monte delle Vigne ($16.50, 11873190)
100% Lambrusco Maestri from 20-year-old vines. Manually harvested and sorted. Fermented at less than 25ºC. Macerated on the skins a total of 25 days. Carbonated using the Charmat method. 11.5% ABV.
Black cherry, plum blossom and bitter almond nose (kind of Valpolicella-like, actually) along with raw red meat, slate and a dash of vinyl. Dry. Soft effervescence. The sweet-ripe fruit dries on the mid-palate, where it’s joined by sketchy tannins. Acidity runs throughout. A faint astringency and bitterness colour the finish. Opinions were divided over this but I liked it and look forward to trying it with salume; the producer specifically recommends pig’s trotters stuffed with minced pork and spices (be still, my beating heart). (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

March 29, 2013 at 12:25

MWG March 21st tasting (1/6): Two aromatic whites

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To mark the passing of Cellier as we know it, the tasting included only bottles from the Spring 2013 issue of the magazine, nearly all of them from the March 21st release. The still reds were double-carafed an hour or two before we got around to them. Time constraints meant the whites were poured within minutes of opening, which may explain some of the oddness we encountered.

Grüner Veltliner 2011, Wagram, Weinberghof Karl Fritsch ($16.75, 11885203)
The 20-hectare, biodynamic estate is located in the Wagram region, about 60 km west of Vienna. This 100% Grüner Veltliner is fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. 12.0% ABV.
Lime zest, chalk, quartz and the faintest hint of white pepper. Denser than expected on the palate. Ripe. Dry but not arid. Tingly acidity. The minerally substrate lasts through the long, citric finish. A bit simple but good clean fun. (Buy again? Yep.)

Colli Bolognesi Classico 2011, Pignoletto, Fattorie Vallona ($20.55, 11876041)
The Pignoletto grape variety is indigenous to Emilia-Romagna and common in the hills around Bologna. It may be related to Grechetto. Technical information on this wine is virtually non-existent. One or two websites claim earlier vintages contained 10% Riesling. In any case, my guess is that this is made entirely in neutral containers, possibly stainless steel. 13.5% ABV.
Candied lemon, rocks, faint dried herbs. Slightly spritzy, slightly off-dry, slightly weighty. White fruit, minerals, a hint of almond skin and a whack of acidity. The long finish is spoiled by an acrid note. (Buy again? Only to give it another chance.)

Written by carswell

March 26, 2013 at 11:05

Sausage love

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Forget those overpriced Valentine meals prepared by bored chefs and served by jaded waiters in stuffy restaurants. On February 14, sausage lovers, wine lovers and just plain lovers will be heading to the Nouveau Palais for a hit of Pork Futures goodness (sweet or spicy love sausage sandwiches with fries and coleslaw) and glass after drinkable glass of — what else? — San Valentino wines poured by oenopole.

The third annual St. Valentine’s Sausage Party
Thursday, February 14, 2013
17:30 to midnight (or until they run out of sausages)
Nouveau Palais
281 Bernard St. West, Montreal

Written by carswell

February 8, 2013 at 18:44

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