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Posts Tagged ‘food pairings

Austro-Hungarian

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Somló 2015, Somlowhite, Meinklang ($24.55, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A blend of Hárslevelü (50%), Juhfark (20%), Olaszrizling (20%) and Furmint (10%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines grown at the base of the Somló (pronounced shom-low) volcano in southwest Hungary, not far from the Austrian border. The region’s basalt is weathered and topped with loess and light sand deposits, producing a fertile soil. The winemaking – which takes place at the estate’s Burgenland winery on the Austrian side of the border – is non-interventionist, with no additions except, possibly, a tiny squirt of sulphur at bottling. Screwcapped. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Complex nose: chalky minerals, white peach, lemon/lime zest, quince, gooseberry, straw. A sip reveals a wine with a slightly oily texture, spiced quince, apple and pear flavours, a soft buzz of acidity, threads of minerals and herbs and a white peppery sensation of spicy heat. It’s quite dry, especially on the long finish with its intriguing sour/bitter edge. The bottle opened at home seemed a tad less fiery – though no less enjoyable – than the sample tasted at the Salon des vins d’importation privée. Great with cabbage rolls made from fermented cabbage and Hungarian sausage. (Buy again? Gladly.)

Meinklang makes affordably priced natural wines that are always stable, always clean and always loveable. The estate is one of the most ecological and sustainable in the world. Its packaging is fun. Why, then, are this and the other wines in the line (Grüner Veltliner, Blaufränkisch, Blauburgunder, Zweigelt, Saint Laurent, etc.) not available at the SAQ?

By the way, also poured at the Salon VIP were two Meinklang wines aged in 900-litre concrete eggs: Konkret white (Traminer, I think) and red (Sankt Laurent). Amazing, especially the red. The good news is that La QV say they’re going to start bringing in some of the higher-end Meinklang bottlings, including the Konkret cuvées, some of the stunning monovarietal Hungarian whites and oddities like the Graupert (“unkempt”) Pinot Gris and Zweigelt, which are made from grapes from unpruned, untrained vines.

Written by carswell

December 23, 2016 at 13:13

Buy again? Repeatedly.

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Santorini 2015, Assyrtiko, Domaine Hatzidakis ($27.25, 11901171)
100% Assyrtiko. No maceration. After clarification, the must is fermented at 18ºC with indigenous yeasts. Matured on the lees for 40 days. Aged in stainless steal tanks. Lightly filtered and dosed with sulphur dioxide before bottling.1.9 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Sandy beach, preserved lemon and a note that trills between petrol and resinous herbs. A mouthful of minerals, dusted with dried lemon zest and salt, infused with tincture of dried peach peel. Acidity would be glaring were it not for the mellowing extract, chalk and quartz. A thread of dried honey twines through the long finish. This has paired deliciously with dishes as varied as grilled chicken (recipe after the jump), veal scalloppini finished with lemon juice and parsley and, of course, oysters on the half shell. It also makes a deluxe aperitif. The price hikes are unfortunate (the 2011 retailed for $21.95) but inevitable: the world has discovered Santorini wines and grape prices on the island are skyrocketing. That doesn’t make this overpriced – far from it – just less of an incredible bargain than it used to be. (Buy again? Repeatedly.)

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Written by carswell

December 22, 2016 at 13:32

Daube duty II

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Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2014, Les Béatines, Domaine des Béates ($20.20, 13027886)
Per the winemaker, Syrah (50%), Grenache Noir (30%) and Carignan (20%) from organically farmed vines (SAQ.com’s percentages are different and probably wrong). The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and given a brief (15-day) maceration on the skins and in stainless steel tanks with regular pump-overs and push-downs. After fermentation with indigenous yeasts, the free-run and press wines are matured separately in stainless steel tanks with regular racking. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV (new and improved website!).
Somewhat introverted nose. Coaxing reveals leathery raspberry, sawdust, faint spice, dark minerals. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and suppler than the Revelette. The ripe fruit is an equal partner with mineral and old wood flavours while gleaming acidity and fine, taut tannins provide an air-frame structure. Turns lightly astringent on the medium finish. A nicely balanced, fruity but dry wine. Dandy with leftover daube but light enough to pair with tuna and other meaty fish if served slightly chilled. The quaffability quotient and QPR are high on this one. (Buy again? Yep.)

Written by carswell

November 10, 2016 at 14:08

Daube duty I

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Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2014, Château Revelette ($23.30, 10259737)
Syrah (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%) and Grenache (11%) from quarter century-old organically farmed vines. The varieties are vinified separately. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) in temperature-controlled (25-27°C) concrete tanks. Matured in concrete tanks except for 15% of the Grenache and Cab, which are matured in neutral casks. A tiny amount of sulphur is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Fresh nose. Starts out Cabernet-ish (cassis, graphite) but gains blackberry, plum, game, spice, earth and turned leaves. Full bodied, rich textured and quite structured, with sustained acidity, medium but bitey tannins and some mineral depth. Very dry, the ripe-sweet fruit notwithstanding, especially on the long finish, where the tannins’ astringency comes through along with tea, tobacco and nougat notes. Straightforward and enjoyable. Doesn’t have the dimensionality of its bigger brother but, then again, it’s about half the price. Made a fine match for a Provençal beef and mushroom stew scented with orange. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

November 8, 2016 at 14:16

Best yet

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Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine 2014, Granite, Domaine de l’Écu ($23.55, 10282873)
100% Melon de Bourgogne from organically and biodynamically farmed vines 45 to 55 years old growing in stony topsoil and mica granite subsoil. Manually harvested. The winery is gravity fed, so no pumping occurs. Pneumatically pressed. The unclarified must is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Sulphuring is limited to 25 mg added between alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees in underground concrete tanks for 15 to 18 months. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Raisonnance.
Outgoing nose for a young Écu: lemon fruit and pith, chamomile, minerals, faintest hints of wax, honey and almond essence. In the mouth, it’s fruitier than usual: silky, complex and wonderfully pure, acid bright and bone dry, with real mineral depth and overtones of peach and fresh herbs. The long, long flinty, iodiney finish leaves a white peppery afterbite. This will only improve with a few years in the cellar but, in contrast to most vintages, is beguiling young. Perfect, of course, with raw oysters and moules marinières but has the wherewithal to accompany fine fish and, even, sushi and stinky cheeses. Or see what the winemaker has to say about possible pairings. (Buy again? Imperatively.)

Written by carswell

October 16, 2016 at 12:43

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 SAQ.com. And if it’s the kind of wine that pushes your buttons, look you should.

Written by carswell

October 7, 2016 at 15:17

Mönch on this!

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Mosel 2015, Ürzig Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mönchhof ($25.90, 11034804)
100% Riesling from ungrafted, dry-farmed vines between 60 and 100 years old in the original part of the Würzgarten vineyard (red slate) in the municipality of Ürzig. Manually harvested. Fermentation with selected yeasts in stainless steel and neutral German oak vats lasts four weeks. Matured four to six months in stainless steel tanks and neutral German oak barrels. Filtered before bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: > 60 g/l. 8.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Green apple, lime/grapefruit, mown meadow, slate, lemon yogurt, hints of yellow stone fruit. Sweet on the attack, then the acidity kicks in. Chockablock with pure, ripe fruit. Endowed with a mineral backbone. Shows fair depth and some spice at the back of the palate. Finish is subdued but quite long. Well balanced despite the hot vintage. Ageable at least a decade, maybe two, during which time it will deepen, gain complexity and lose sweetness. For now, while almost too sweet to drink as an aperitif, it comes into its own alongside food, in my case a fairly faithful replica of Nigel Slater’s apples, potatoes and bacon recipe finished with crème fraîche, mustard and tarragon, a dish I’ll be making – and pairing with German Riesling – again. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

October 5, 2016 at 12:50