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Posts Tagged ‘food pairings

Buxom blend

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Epanomi 2016, Estate White, Ktima Gerovassiliou ($18.65, 10249061)
The village of Epanomi is located about 25 km southeast of Thessaloniki in central Macedonia. A 50-50 blend of Malagousia and Assyrtiko from estate-grown vines After a brief maceration, the grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) stainless steel tanks. Does not undergo malolactic fermentation. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.

Redolent of flowers, fruit and something green: jasmine, orange blossom, grapefruit, lime, stone fruit, lemon grass and maybe a little kiwi and mint. Round in the piehole, fresh with aromatic fruit and bright acidity. A minerally vein runs well into the long finish where it’s joined by an appealing salty bitterness. The Malagousia’s exuberance makes this seem less dry than it actually is, while the Assyrtiko’s acidity and minerals provide welcome structure. Fans of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc looking to broaden their horizons should make a bee line. Food-friendly by nature, this made a fine match for herb-roasted salmon with a squeeze of lemon. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

March 21, 2017 at 13:28

Three Bierzos from Raúl Pérez

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Bierzo 2013, Ultreia St-Jacques, Raúl Pérez ($25.95, 12331835)
A Mencia-dominated blend with Bastardo (aka Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet) from organically farmed vines in a five-hectare, clay-soiled vineyard planted in 1900 to 1940 in Valtuille de Abajo. Manually harvested. Fermented (80% whole clusters) in large oak vats. Maceration lasts between two and five months. Matured in 225- and 500-litre barrels, foudres and cement tanks. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 2.1 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Umami-ish nose of slatey plum, blackberry, spice, “bay leaf,” “sumac,” “blond tobacco,” India ink. Medium-bodied and supple-surfaced with clean fruit, fine tannins, streaming acidity and an underlay of minerals and old oak. The persistent finish is complexed by a light astringency and bitterness, while leaf mould lingers. A little too dark and weighty to be a vin plaisir but sharing that genre’s qualities of being straightforward, accessible and delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bierzo 2014, Vico, Raúl Pérez ($40.25, 12335035)
Also available as part of a recent Cellier operation for 25 cents less ($40.00, 13193761). 100% Mencia from dry- and organically farmed 80-year-old vines in Valtuille de Abajo. Soil is sandy with small river stones. Manually harvested. Fermented (30% whole clusters) and macerated for 60 days. Matured 11 months in third-fill, 300-litre French oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Complex nose of gingerbread, black pepper, “grape cola,” “Brio Chinato,” slate and balsam fir. Denser and more structured than the Ultreia but even more Burgundian in texture. The remarkably pure fruit is deepened by minerals, structured by fluent acidity and firm but round tannins. The finish is long and savoury. Young and a little monolithic though accessible with a few hours’ carafing. Would be interested in seeing how this tastes in ten or 15 years. A second bottle – opened (by mistake) and immediately recorked 26 hours beforehand – paired deliciously with braised lamb. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bierzo 2013, La Poulosa, La Vizcaina, Raúl Pérez ($54.25, 12332264)
Mencia (90%) and Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet, 10%) from dry- and organically farmed vines planted in 1940 and rooted in the clay and river stone soil of the two-hectare La Poulosa vineyard in Valtuille de Abajo. Fermented (80% whole clusters) in large oak vats. Total maceration time: 60 days. Matured 12 months in 225-litre used French oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Wood and leather then smoke, spice and plum then blackberry cordial. Medium- to full-bodied and beautifully structured. A wine with every dimension, including unplumbable depth. The alcohol is well integrated; indeed, the wine is quite fresh, with that balsam note appearing once again. Dark minerals last well into the long finish. Needs five or 10 years but has the potential and balance to convince you it will only improve with age. (Buy again? Yes.)

A flight that made less of an impact than I expected it would. I suspect that’s partly because the wines were young and partly because of what I call the Chianti effect: that, like many Chiantis, these are wines that show better in the dining room than in a tasting room. Before the tasting, the winemaker’s cult status had me worrying that the wines – especially the Poulosa and the second flight’s La del Vivo – would be Parkerized overachievers but they were anything but. They may be a little pricey but their quality is undeniable. Pérez is obviously someone to keep an eye on.

MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 6 of 6

Written by carswell

March 13, 2017 at 14:53

A couple of South African Cinsaults

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Swartland 2016, Cinsault, The Drifter, A.A. Badenhorst ($18.00, 13057997)
No technical info on this wine is to be found online, not even on the producer’s or Quebec agent’s websites. I suspect it may be the first vintage and may be sold only in Quebec. 100% Cinsault possibly from organically farmed old vines. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Symbiose.
Engaging nose of slightly candied red berries, “campfire,” “violets” and “clove” (quoting other tasters). In the piehole, it’s medium-bodied and supple. The fruit has a “raspberry jam” side to it as well as a lactic edge. The tannins are soft and the bright acidity goes a long way toward balancing the ripe fruit’s inherent sweetness. A tarry undertow and minerally finish add some welcome depth. A hit with most around the table though a little too fruit-driven and one-note for my palate. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Swartland 2015, Cinsault, Leeuwenkuil ($19.95, 12976895)
100% Cinsault from dry-farmed old bush vines. Harvested at various stages of ripeness with the fruit’s acidity being a determining factor. Part of the harvest is fermented on the skins in open tanks with punch-downs and pump-overs, part is left in whole clusters to undergo carbonic maceration. Matured in 500- and 5,000-litre French oak barrels for six months. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Univins.
Nose similar to the Badenhorst’s though savourier, with notes of dried herbs, “jamón” and a faint smokiness. A lovely, balanced, medium-bodied mouthful of ripe fruit, sleek acidity and light rustic tannins that add a touch of astringency to the clean finish. The raspberry, cherry and blackberry flavours are overtoned with spice and deepened with black olive and slate. New Worldish but in the best possible way. A favourite of just about everyone present. (Buy again? A bottle or two for grilling season or to pair with Latucca Barbecue’s most excellent beef brisket and ribs.)

MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

March 8, 2017 at 12:53

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