Brett happens

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Posts Tagged ‘food pairings

Hit and miss

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Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine Désiré Petit ($24.00, 12399717)
100% Pinot Noir from vines averaging 20 years old and rooted in calcareous topsoil over red marl. Sparkled using the traditional method. Reducing sugar: 12 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Tannins.
Engaging nose dominated by cherry and almond. Softly effervescent. Dry. Fruity attack, savoury mid-palate. Lots of minerals. Crisp acidity adds cut and freshness. Spice and “pink grapefruit pith” mark the fair finish. Parabolic in that it got better as it breathed but then became a little one-note as it warmed. That said, this would make a fine starter at a backyard barbecue and you could keep going with it if you had some salmon on the grill. (Buy again? Sure.)

Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine André et Mireille Tissot ($30.75, 13236670)
Pinot Noir (50%), Poulsard (25%) and Trousseau (25%) from biodynamically farmed vines around a quarter of a century old and rooted in clay and limestone. Half the grapes were direct pressed, the other half pressed after a short maceration. Fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. Once malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine was bottled and sparkled using the traditional method. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: LVAB.
Yeasty/briochey nose of red berries, yellow plum and, a bit disconcertingly, “ketchup maison.” Very dry on the palate (I suspect this may be a zero dosage sparkler). Fine effervescence with bubbles one taster describes as “crunchy.” Minerals galore, peekaboo strawberry and soft but sufficient acidity. Sadly, all that takes a backseat to an overwhelming bitterness. Improved slightly with time in the glass, though never enough to win over a single taster. Tissot is one of our favourite Jura producers and this was the first Tissot rosé any of us had tasted, so the letdown was huge. Didn’t smell or taste like an off bottle. Just off the boat so maybe suffering from travel shock? (Buy again? Only to give it a second chance.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

June 12, 2017 at 13:06

Sea wine

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Santorini 2016, Thalassitis, Gaia Wines ($29.55, 11966695)
The cuvée’s name refers to the ancient practice of mixing wine with sea water (thalassa meaning sea in ancient Greek) to produce a health-promoting beverage called thalassitis oenos or sea-originated wine. 100% Assyrtiko from ungrafted vines about to enter their ninth decade, trained into nests and rooted in the arid, soil (mostly pumice devoid of organic matter) of Episkopi, Akrotiri and Pyrgos. Vinified in stainless steel. Fermented with selected yeasts. Did not undergo malolactic fermentation as the winery claims it contains no malic acid to be converted into lactic acid. Spent five to six months on the lees. Sealed with a synthetic cork that looks a little like the black sand and rocks found on the island. Reducing sugar: 1.6 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Fresh and preserved lemon, tidal pool, pumice, faint honey. Buttery texture. Fruity attack for an Assyrtiko. Still, the fruit soon gives way to the expected minerality. Acidity is, of course, very present, especially from the mid-palate on, but seems a tad smoother and less trenchant than is sometimes the case in Santorini Assyrtikos. Very dry, especially on the long, extremely saline finish. Probably my favourite of Gaia’s three Santorini bottlings. While not as deep, powerful or crystalline as some of its (often more expensive) peers, it would still make a good introduction to the grape and terroir. The winery suggests ageing it two to three years; given Assyrtiko’s propensity to oxidize and syncorks’ propensity to allow oxidation, I wouldn’t chance keeping it much longer than that. A near-perfect pairing for oysters on the half shell, grilled sea bass or porgy drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and just about any octopus dish; with some oxidation, a killer match for beef or venison tartare. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

May 23, 2017 at 13:43

Just in time for asparagus season

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Wachau 2014, Grüner Veltliner, Terrassen, Nikolaihof ($21.65, 13166181)
Austria’s oldest estate and one of its most storied. This is the first Nikolaihof wine to be sold at the SAQ. 100% Grüner Veltliner from organically and biodynamically farmed estate vines between 10 and 45 years old planted in the Wachau on the south shore of the Danube. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Alcoholic fermentation and three months’ maturation on the lees took place in very large barrels. Malolactic fermentation was avoided. The wine was later matured in tanks before being lightly filtered (but not fined) and bottled. The only addition was a squirt of sulphur dioxide at bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 3.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

Textbook nose: white pepper, stone, lime (fruit and pith), herb salad, turned earth, sea brine and the faintest hint of honey. Texture somewhere between waxy and buttery. Savoury and quite dry. The fruit and greens are swirled with an intense minerality (quartz, saline). The pervasive acidity is softened by the not inconsiderable extract. The long finish brings a white pepper note and a Szechuan pepper numbingness. Not as crystalline, layered, dimensional or commanding as a top GV but punching well above its weight. A natural with river fish and white meats accompanied by cabbage and, like many GVs, unfazed by asparagus. (Buy again? Yes, though unfortunately there’s not much left in the system.)

Written by carswell

May 16, 2017 at 12:58

Classico in both senses of the word

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Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009, Vaio Armaron, Serego Alighieri ($89.00, 11766626)
Now owned by Masi, the Serego Alighieri estate was founded in 1353 by Dante’s son Pietro. Wine-making officially began in the 1500s. The Vaio Amaron is its flagship bottling. The 2009 is a blend of Corvina (65%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (15%) from vines in the commune of Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella. The soil in the terraced vineyards is red, humus-rich topsoil over limestone. The Corvina was lightly affected by botrytis. The manually harvested grapes were placed on bamboo mats in open-air lofts and allowed to dry for three to four months, during which time they lost more than a third of their weight. This concentrated their flavour and sugar. The partially raisinated grapes were gently pressed, partly destemmed and fermented at low temperatures for 48 days in large Slavonian oak barrels. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was matured in cherry wood casks. Reducing sugar: 7.9 g/l. 15.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Authentic Vins et Spirituex.

Impressively complex nose of plum, prune, black cherry, spice, pepper, sandalwood and more. Rich and velvety in the mouth, powerful yet beautifully balanced, with soft, structuring tannins and a sleek current of acidity. Comes across as dry despite the sugar level and sweet-seeming fruit. Spice overtones the mid-palate and long finish. A complete and involving wine that, while enjoyable now, is still young and a little monolithic. Another decade in the cellar will bring more evident depth and complexity. An excellent match with Parmigiano-Reggiano. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

May 12, 2017 at 13:10

Cauquenes connection

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Cuvée Del Maule 2011, Agricola Cuvelier ($27.43, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in Bordeaux, the Cuveliers are a longstanding family of négociants that eventually acquired three local estates, the best-known of which is Léoville Poyferré. In the late 1990s, they founded a family-owned estate in Argentina, Cuvelier Los Andes. After obtaining a wine-growing degree in 2007, scion Baptiste travelled to Chile to work with his friend Louis-Antoine Luyt, who introduced him to the Cauquenes region of the Maule Valley. He soon realized he could make there a red complementary to the family’s Argentinian reds, the Cuvée del Maule, the first vintage of which was the 2009. (Haven’t run across an explanation as to why Maule is written MaoLee on the label – interference from the appellation authorities perhaps? – but that’s the only place I see it spelled thus.) The 2011 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Carignan (30%), Pais (8%), Carmenère (8%), Cinsault (7%) and Merlot (5%) from organically dry-farmed, fair-trade grapes grown under contract. Cuvelier provided viticultural advice to the growers and had the fruit harvested by his team. Most of the Cabernet was destemmed, given four to six days cold maceration and fermented in temperature-controlled (24°C) tanks with pump-overs early on. The Camenère, Carignan and Pais were fermented using carbonic maceration. The Cinsault, Merlot and remaining Cabernet were fermented in small open tanks with punch-downs early on and manually pressed before fermentation ended. The wines were transferred to fourth- and fifth-fill French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation. All fermentations were spontaneous. Indeed, the only additive was a tiny amount (35 mg/L) of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Jammy, juicy, earthy, spicy, with notes of “green pepper” and “black peppercorns.” Fruit-forward in the manner of a New World wine yet not quite full-bodied. The fruit? Ripe-sweet blackberry and cassis. Has good structure (round tannins, bright acidity) but not a lot of depth. Minerals and herbs (tobacco? mint?) come out on the finish. Very drinkable though not a keeper. Probably a great match with red meat on the barbecue. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cauquenina 2013, Clos des Fous ($26.80, 12496082)
Per the agent, a blend of Carignan (36%), Syrah (23%), Carmenère (23%) and Malbec (18%); some commenters also claim Pais and Portugais Bleu are present. In any case, the grapes came from purchased, dry-farmed, organically grown old vines in the Itata Valley. Fermented in concrete tanks using indigenous yeasts “when possible.” A fraction of the wine was matured in new French oak barrels, the rest in second-fill barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Réserve & Sélection/Trialto.
Savoury nose of plum, spice, old wood and earth with chinotto overtones. On the lighter side of full-bodied. Round and balanced. The red fruit is soft, the acidity and tannins smooth. Some tobacco and coffee scent the finish. Seems more structured than the Cuvelier yet also somehow simpler, at least at this stage in its development. Quite food friendly, I’d guess – not only grilled meat but also stews and vegetarian casseroles. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

May 9, 2017 at 11:41

Vacqueyrasish

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Based in Vacqueyras and comprising 16 hecatres of vines, Roucas Toumba (“roche tombée” or “fallen rock” in the old Provençal dialect) is a centuries-old, family-run estate currently headed by Éric Bouletin. The estate long sold its grapes to the local co-op and the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel but, in 2006, decided to start making its own wine. The farming is organic though not certified as such. Fermentations, which use indigenous yeasts, typically last 30 days and are temperature-controlled (18°C). The free-run and press wines are kept separate until the end of malolactic fermentation. The wines are never fined and seldom filtered.

We tried the estate’s two entry-level reds and now look forward to tasting the higher-end cuvées.

Vin de Pays de Méditérrinée 2015, Pichot Roucas, Roucas Toumba ($18.50, 12782249)
A blend of Syrah (30%), Carignan (30%) and Grenache (30%) from vines located near the Ouvèze river. Manually harvested. The grapes are 70% destemmed with half the Carignan being left in whole clusters. Short maceration. Matured six months in concrete tanks. 13.5% ABV. Typical production: 10,000 bottles. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Red and black fruit, graphite, spice and a whiff of barnyard. Medium-bodied. Smooth upfront with a fluid texture, light but present structure and a surprising freshness. Though the lacking the depth and length of the Grands Chemins, this is pleasant enough. Lightly chilled, it would make a fine picnic wine, which may explain the label’s bicycle leaning against a tree. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de France 2015, Les Grands Chemins, Roucas Toumba ($26.15, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Grenache (50%), old-vine Carignan (40%) and Syrah (10%) from vineyards in and around the Vacqueyras AOC. Manually harvested. The destemmed grapes are co-fermented, meaning the blend is made before fermentation. Matured eight months in concrete vats. 14% ABV. Typical production: 5,000 bottles. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Fresh, Rhône-ish nose of red and black fruit, garrigue, crystalline minerals and a hint of animale. Richer and fuller-bodied than the Pichot Roucas but still fluid and fresh, not in any way hot. For now, at least, the flavours tend to raspberry and black pepper (the Grenache speaking?). Sleek acidity and light but grippy tannins add structure and texture, a dark mineral underlay depth. The finish is long and spicy. Nicely balanced and very drinkable. Grilled lamb, please. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

May 7, 2017 at 12:28

WINO tasting (6/6)

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Located between Siena and Arezzo, the 60-hectare Fattoria di Caspri estate has nine hectares of grape vines and seven hectares of olive trees. The estate’s founding dates back nearly to the beginning of the Common Era, when Roman general Casperius Aelianus made it his home. The current main building is a relative youngster, having been built in the 18th century.

Farming has been organic and biodynamic since 2006, when the estate was acquired by its current owners. The soil tends to be light and sandy mixed with decomposed gneiss and a little clay. While the focus is on traditional grape varieties (mainly Sangiovese, Canaiolo Cillegiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia), the estate also has experimental plots of Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir.

The wine-making is identical for all the reds. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in small, non-temperature-controlled conical vats with indigenous yeasts. Total maceration time is three to four weeks. After pressing, the wine is transferred into old barrels for 18 to 20 months’ maturation. The wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. No sulphur is added.

IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Rosso di Caspri, Fattoria di Caspri ($31.21, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from young vines. 12.3% ABV. 650 cases made. Quebec agent: WINO.
Attractive nose of bitter cherry, fresh herbs, slate, turned earth and a little ash. “Kind of meaty” is the first (and accurate) comment about the flavour of this medium-bodied and very dry wine. Red fruit, tingly acidity and fine astringent tannins made for a somewhat austere if appealingly rustic mouthful. Finishes clean. (Buy again? Sure.)

IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Poggio Cuccule, Fattoria di Caspri ($41.15, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from 45-year-old vines. 125 cases made. 13.1% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Gorgeous, floral nose of cherry, fresh almond and old wood. Medium-bodied. A sip is like biting into a morello cherry. Fresh, fleet, intense and pure. The energy is palpable and the wine seems lit from within by glowing acidity. The tannins are fruit-cloaked. Minerals, wood and earth undertones add depth, not darkness. Finishes long and clean. Stunning Sangiovese. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

IGT Toscana Rosso 2014, Casperius, Fattoria di Caspri ($67.31, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Sangiovese and Syrah. 12.7% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Closed nose that with coaxing reveals red fruit, dried herb, violet, leather and mint notes and a whiff of barnyard. In the mouth, it’s fuller-bodied, smoother, rounder and less acidic than its flightmates, though it does share some of the Rosso’s meatiness. Depth, breadth and length it has in spades though it would probably benefit from a year or two to come together. Perhaps a little overshadowed by the Poggio Cuccule, I suspect this would prove wholly satisfactory on its own at dinner. (Buy again? Maybe.)

IGT Toscana 2010, Luna Blu, Fattoria di Caspri ($28.50 in 2013, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
An orange wine made from a 50-50 blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia. Macerated on the skins for four weeks before pressing. Matured in small wood barrels. No filtering, fining or added sulphur. Under 100 cases made. 13.3% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV at the time, now WINO. The newest vintage is slated to arrive later this spring.

Bronze with a rosé cast. Sultry nose of “elderflower,” sawdust and hints of apricot skin and dried tangerine peel. Rich and smooth in the mouth, bright acidity notwithstanding. Fruity yet dry, the flavours tending to citrus and spice with a mineral undercurrent. Faint tannins add a little grit to the otherwise sleek texture. Long. As mentioned in my October 2013 tasting note, the winemaker has stated that the wine would be at its apogee in 2017. In the event, while it may not be the deepest, most structured or even most involving orange wine, it is definitely a pleasure to drink. Paired beautifully with a selection of cheeses from Yannick, especially a raw-milk L’Étivaz. (Buy again? Moot. But I’m looking forward to the new vintage.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 6 of 6