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Posts Tagged ‘food pairings

Bargain Branco

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Dão 2016, Indigena, Adega de Penalva ($11.25, 12728904)
A blend of Encruzado (40%), Cerceal Branco (30%) and Malvasia Fina (30%) from vines rooted in sandy soil over schist and granite. Farming is sustainable converting to organic. Manually harvested. The more aromatic varieties are macerated overnight. After pressing, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled early in the year following the vintage. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Wafting, aromatic nose of pear compote, white spice, white flowers, chalk and a little sap. In the mouth, it’s unctuous but not heavy, redolent of white orchard fruit, white grape juice and eventually citrus. At first you wonder whether the wine isn’t too soft but as it breathes and your palate adjusts, the unaggressive acidity and thin vein of quartzy minerals form a definite if pliant backbone. A thin thread of bitterness runs throughout and is joined by a faint honey note on the dry finish. Gains presence as it warms from fridge temperature, so don’t serve it too cold. The price is unbelievably low for a wine of this quality and character. Some might enjoy this as an aperitif, though I tend to like a sharper white in that role. Seems like a natural for simply prepared cod or soft Portuguese cheeses. (Buy again? Sure.)

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Written by carswell

September 23, 2017 at 12:14

Rebel without applause

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(More like without wild applause actually but the pun was irresistible.) As much as I appreciate swimmers against the current, the label’s bad boy posing almost convinced me to buy something else. On the other hand, I was making a Portuguese dish (pork chops pan-fried with whole garlic cloves and lemon wedges), was in the mood for a light red and this bottle from the father of Filipa Pato, whose wines I’ve enjoyed in the past, was the only Portuguese red at my local SAQ that was under 13%.

Beira Atlântico 2015, Pato Rebel, Luis Pato ($21.50, 13184419)
Baga (90%), Touriga Nacional (9%) and Bical (1%). The idea being to tame the ferociously tannic Baga, the grapes are macerated only briefly and fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Pot de vin.
Blackberryish fruit, iron, dried blood, dark chocolate, background fern and bog. Medium-bodied and supple. The ripe fruit quickly fades leaving minerals and earthy savour but not a lot else. Structured by fresh acidity and fine tannins that swell astringently on the super-dry finish. Slate, old wood, old leather and vine sap linger. Somewhat austere and not particularly deep but a perfectly good food wine. Not beguiling though unlike anything else and involving in its somewhat inscrutable way. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

September 22, 2017 at 12:24

Cidereal

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Located in Franklin, Quebec, and founded in 2010, Entre Pierre et Terre is run by the husband and wife team of Loïc Chanut and Michelle Boyer. An oenologist by training, Chanut began working at La Face cachée de la pomme and for a while was a partner in Domaine des Salamandres. Production is limited to a range of still and sparkling apple and pear ciders, still fruit wine and apple-based vermouth. Cortland, Golden Russet and Macintosh are the estate’s backbone apple varieties though trials are being conducted with others, including some old northern French varieties. All the sparklers are made using the traditional method.

Poiré mousseux, Entre Pierre et Terre ($19.95, 12120579)
A pear cider made from mid-season fruit. The juice takes several weeks to ferment. Matured and sparkled in the bottle for a minimum of nine months. Sulphur use is limited to a small shot at disgorging. Reducing sugar: 27 g/l. 7% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Applesauce, pear compote and hay stubble. Fine effervescence. The flavour is clearly though not intensely pear, with a bit of white pepper adding intrigue. Clean and verging on off-dry but drying on the finish. While it’s a tad sweeter than I remember earlier bottles being, it’s still a pleasant sipper. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cidre mousseux, Entre Pierre et Terre ($18.90, 11957043)
The apples for this cider are harvested over two months, then pressed together. The juice is concentrated by exposure to the cold of winter. Primary and secondary fermentation (the latter in bottles on lattes) last a minimum of 10 months. Reducing sugar: 18 g/l. 7.6% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
A nose more subtle than the poiré’s: green pear and apple. Dryish and elegant in the mouth, the effervescence understated. A mineral streak joins the savoury fruit joined while smooth acidity keeps things lively. Clean finishes. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cidre à la canneberge, Entre Pierre et Terre ($16.25, 12030291)
Cranberries are macerated in the cider before bottling. The bottles spend at least nine months on lattes before disgorging. 8% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Fresh and baked apple, wild red berries and a hint of cheese. Clean and not especially fruity. Dry with bright, even trenchant acidity. A faint saline undertow lasts well into the long finish. Somewhat to my surprise, the most complex and nuanced of the trio. Would make an excellent Thanksgiving aperitif and could probably continue right on through the meal. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

September 11, 2017 at 14:26

Below the veldt

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Swartland 2015, Grenache Noir, Leeuwenkuil ($20.00, 13124571)
100% Grenache from old, dry-farmed, bush-trained vines. Yield was limited by reducing the crop to one bunch per shoot. Manually harvested. Alcoholic fermentation on the skins and with indigenous yeasts involved punch-downs and pump-overs. Macerated 20 days on the skins post fermentation. Transferred to 5,000-litre French oak foudres for 14 months for malolactic fermentation and maturation. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 14% ABV. Screwtop (not cork as per SAQ.com). Quebec agent: Univins.
Likeable nose of red and black raspberry (fresh and jam) dusted with black pepper. Medium-bodied (alcohol notwithstanding). Full of ripe but not heavy fruit. Soft-glow acidity and supple tannins provide just enough structure. Finishes clean and on a peppery note. Not as deep, savoury or flaring as some Rhone Grenaches but not devoid of Grenache character either. A fruit-forward crowd pleaser. I bought this bottle by mistake, thinking it was the same producer’s Cinsault, which I wanted to try with Lattucca‘s most excellent Texas-style barbecue beef brisket and ribs. While the wine was OK with the ‘cue, it’d make a better pairing with less substantial fare, like charcuterie or the winery’s suggestion of venison carpaccio. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Written by carswell

September 6, 2017 at 10:37

A toast to Haridimos Hatzidakis

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Originally from Crete, Haridimos Hatzidakis founded his eponymous estate in Pyrgos, on Santorini, in 1996, replanting a vineyard that had been abandoned 40 years earlier after the devastating 1956 earthquake. Today the estate comprises 10 hectares of owned and leased vineyards. Assyrtiko, Aidani and Mavrotragano are grown and the farming is organic, still something of a rarity on the island.

Hatzidakis’s wines, which the Mo’ Wine Group began discovering when some of the 2008s became available through the private import channel, quickly convinced me that Santorini was one of the world’s great wine appellations and that Hatzidakis was one of the world’s great winemakers. My first encounter with the Mylos, again the 2008, had me declaring it to be one of the world’s great whites, a claim subsequent encounters and vintages have not called into question.

I met Hatzidakis only once, at last year’s Salon des vins d’importation privée. He seemed a humble, somewhat shy, soft-spoken man who needed only a little prompting to reveal his passion for wine-making, organic farming and Santorini. He spoke with pride about his new winery and encouraged me to visit if I made it back to the island. It is something I ardently hope to do but, alas, it won’t be in his company: Haridimos Hatzidakis died suddenly last Friday.

On Saturday, friends and I opened a bottle of the recently arrived 2016 Mylos, arguably the estate’s flagship wine, and raised a glass in honour of Haridimos’s life and accomplishments and in the hope that his legacy lives on.

Santorini 2016, Assyrtiko de Mylos, Vieilles Vignes, Hatzidakis ($51.75, 12338834)
100% Assyrtiko from dry-farmed old vines – ungrafted like all Santorini vines – that average 150 to 300 years old. The certified organic, late-harvested grapes were picked by hand, destemmed, cooled, crushed and macerated on their skins for 12 hours. Fermentation (at 18°C with indigenous yeasts) and maturation (on the lees) took place in stainless steel tanks and lasted 10 months. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with minimal sulphur dioxide. About 3,000 bottles made. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.

Already pale gold in colour. Tightly furled nose that blossoms as the wine breathes: preserved lemon, minerals, hints of petrol and fish oil and eventually Mediterranean herbs. Weighty in the mouth, with an oily texture, Meyer lemon flavours, a mineral structure and an astounding salinity. Assyrtiko’s trademark acidity is here turned stealthy by the dense extract. Dominated by citrus-pith and sharp-edged minerals and developing honeyed overtones, the intense finish lasts for minutes. Made a credible pairing for grilled octopus dressed with wine vinegar, olive oil, red onion and capers and a superb match for bucantini with olive oil, lemon, leek and bottarga, which brought out the wine’s fruit (“though it’s fruity in the sense that olives are fruity,” another imbiber noted). (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

Earlier vintages of this wine have “aged” quickly, turning a rich gold-bronze, gaining pronounced oxidative and honeyed notes, the acidity smoothing out, the minerality receding slightly. However disconcerting this can be at first, you are soon won over by the wine’s richness, authority and infinitely layered complexity. At that stage, it is excellent with grilled lamb chops (recipe after the jump) and sublime with beef tartare.

Update (September 9, 2017): On the oenopole website, Theo Diamantis has posted a moving tribute to Haridimos.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by carswell

August 15, 2017 at 13:23

Mountain red

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Achaia 2010, Grand Cave, Domain Mega Spileo/Cavino ($28.85, 13110137)
The estate is named after a nearby monastery that once owned the vineyard. Most of the technical info comes from the back label and kudos to the winery for that. A 60-40 blend of Mavrodaphne and Mavro Kalavrytino (aka Black of Kalavryta) from vines rooted in sandy clay soil in a relatively cool-climate mountain vineyard between 780 and 880 metres above sea level and located near the village of Kalavryta. No chemical insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers are used. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Prefermentation maceration at low temperatures for 24-48 hours. Long and gentle alcoholic fermentation in small temperature-controlled tanks. Malolactic fermentation and maturation on the lees in new oak barrels (80% French, 20% American) for 16 months. Lightly filtered. Not cold stabilized. Bottle-aged 24 months before release. 6,500 bottles made. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Divin Paradis.
Heady nose of plum, prune, leather, burned earth, sweet spice, coffee, hints of blood and chocolate. More medium- than full-bodied and very dry. The ripe but not jammy or forward fruit is complemented by a full set of tertiary flavours (old wood, leather, cigar box, dried herbs and earth) and a swirl of inky minerals, framed by smooth but animating acidity and soft tannins that show their mettle on the long, lightly astringent finish. Sandalwood, terracotta and dried cherry linger. Savoury, balanced and at peak. Fairly priced for a seven-year-old wine of this quality. Fairly cries out for grilled lamb. (Buy again? Yep.)

Written by carswell

August 13, 2017 at 13:12

Two misses and a hit

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Bandol 2016, Blanc, Domaine de l’Olivette ($26.05, 10884559)
Clairette (80%), Rolle (aka Vermentino, 10%) and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano, 10%). Manually harvested. After destemming, the grapes are cold-macerated on their skins, then pressed. Fermentation in oak vats is at low temperatures for about two weeks. The resulting wine is chilled and allowed to clarify by settling. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vins de Châteaux.
Complex nose: “sweaty” (per another taster) with notes of fired minerals, dried flowers (linden), almond pastry cream, “straw fruit,” “celery salt” and more. Rich and round in the mouth and “a bit reductive.” The combination of highish extract and lowish acidity means the wine comes across as lethargic, a little flabby, “kind of flat” and “gassy.” The appealing nose and minerality aside, not a strong showing. A disappointment then, especially as I and others in the group have enjoyed earlier vintages. (Buy again? Meh.)

Bandol 2015, Blanc, Domaine la Suffrene ($26.45, 11903491)
A 50–50 blend of Clairette and Ugni Blanc from vines averaging 35 to 40 years old. Manually harvested. To increase flavour extraction, the crushed grapes are kept on their skins for 12 hours at 8°C before pressing. After clarification by settling, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks for around 15 days at around 19°C, then racked into other tanks for fining and maturation. Filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Les Sélections Vin-Coeur.
Lemon and peach blossom, apple and honey. Rich on the palate but more fluid than the Olivette. Quite dry and minerally though turning fruitier on the long finish. Soft-glow acidity and a lingering bitterness complete the picture which, unfortunately, became less interesting as the wine breathed and warmed. Again, a wine that doesn’t seem equal to earlier vintages. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Bandol 2016, Blanc, Domaine du Gros’Noré ($34.00, 12206989)
A 70-30 blend of Ugni Blanc and Clairette from organically (uncertified) farmed vines averaging 30 years old. The must is macerated on the skins for 24 hours, then fermented at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lovely, wafting nose of white grapefruit, fired quartz, lemon flower and a “kaffir-like herbaceous note.” Clean and fluid with smooth acidity. Very minerally, especially on the finish. Dry, layered, long and savoury. “Apple seed bitterness” linger. Became better as it warmed and breathed. We have a winner. Try this with the winemaker’s recommended pairing: grilled mussels with rosemary (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

July 28, 2017 at 12:01