Posts Tagged ‘From the cellar’
Valle del Maipo 2004, Gran Reserva Blend, Viña Chocalán (NLA)
Our bottle came from Steve’s cellar; the 2011 is currently available at the SAQ ($30.25, 11447588). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Malbec (24%), Merlot (15%), Syrah (13%), Petit Verdot (10%) and Cabernet Franc (8%) from vines averaging seven years old and grown in chalky soil. Manually harvested. Destemmed. The whole grapes were cold macerated for five days. The juice was then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (28°C) stainless steel tanks. Matured 14 months in French oak barrels. Lightly filtered and fined before bottling. Residual sugar (per the winery): 1.8 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: LCC/Clos des Vignes.
Powerful nose of roasted coffee, resiny dried herbs, “asphalt shingles” (per another taster), leather, plum and a hint of “something decomposing.” Less punishing in the mouth than the nose might lead you to expect. Full-bodied, velvety, very dry and, in its way, balanced: heady but not hot and impressively structured, the mass well shaped by round, firm tannins and surprisingly vibrant acidity. Tertiary flavours are beginning to dominate the dark fruit, which nonetheless persists through the long chocolate- and eucalyptus-inflected finish. Really needs a hunk of grilled red meat. (Buy again? Not my style but if it were, sure.)
MWG March 12th tasting: flight 6 of 7
The last flight of the tasting ended up being an impromptu affair as both of the originally planned bottles – the Languedoc 2013, Terrasses du Larzac, Carlan, Mas Julien ($43.75, 12628516) and Côtes du Roussillon 2011, La Foun, Domaine Gauby ($123.00, 12300377) – were corked. Our replacements came from a nearby SAQ outlet and my cellar.
Campo de Borja 2013, Veraton, Bodegas Alto Moncayo ($34.00, 11668241)
100% Garnacha (aka Grenache) from vines between 30 and 50 years old and rooted in red clay and slate. Matured 17 months in French and American oak barrels (60% and 40% new respectively). Unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 15.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Fast-morphing nose. Snapshots along the way: India ink, chocolate, oak, blueberry, oak, caramel, sweet spice, raspberry, oak, faint plum, coffee. Full-bodied and rich but surprisingly well balanced despite the alarming alcohol level. The fruit is dense bordering on bombish, the acidity bright and the tannins firm but unaggressive. Massively oaky at first though turning purer and cleaner with some air. Still, vanilla runs from entry to mid-palate and turns to mocha on the long finish. Thank Bacchus, it’s dry. Impressive in its way and delivering excellent QPR but not at all up my alley. (Buy again? Nope though if big oaky reds are your thing, make a beeline.)
Napa Valley 1990, Petite Sirah, York Creek, Ridge Vineyards (c. US$20 in the early ’90s, importation valise)
A blend of Petite Sirah (aka Durif, 86%) and Zinfandel (14%) from dry-farmed vines in the York Creek vineyard. Given extended fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Clarified by racking. Matured 14 months, during which time the wine was fined twice “to soften the firm tannins.” Bottled in May 1992. 13.9% ABV.
Popped and poured. Complex, evolving nose: slate, clay, red plum, “blue cheese,” leather, menthol, blueberry pie. Full-bodied if austere though built around a core of pure, plummy fruit. Beautifully structured: the tannins, once formidable and still sinewy, have softened some while sleek acidity brightens the dark flavours. Deep slate underlies the mid-palate, spice and wood overtone the long finish. Tasting double-blind, everyone guessed this was an Old World wine and no one suspected it was more than 10 years old. At or maybe just past peak; if you have any bottles of this, drink them soon. (Buy again? If only…)
MWG February 26th tasting: flight 7 of 7
Anne Paillet is married to Greg Leclerc. In 2010, she decided to abandon her corporate career and become a natural winemaker. Wanting to make wines different from Leclerc’s, she has leased 2.5 hectares of biodynamically farmed vines from Languedoc winemaker Christophe Beau (Domaine Beauthorey in the Pic Saint-Loup region). Harvesting is manual and the grapes are vinified naturally, in concrete tanks with no added anything, in the Languedoc. Wanting to make wines different from your everyday Languedocs, she transports the just-fermented juice to Leclerc’s cellars in the Loire for malolactic fermentation, maturation, blending and bottling with no fining, filtering or added sulphur.
Depending on the date on which the wine leaves the Languedoc, it is labelled Coteaux du Languedoc or Vin de France. To avoid red tape and confusion, Paillet is reportedly planning to opt exclusively for the Vin de France designation in future vintages.
Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, C.S.G., Autour de l’Anne ($27.71, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Syrah and Grenache with a little Cinsault thrown in. The 40- to 60-yar-old vines are rooted in limestone and red clay. The grapes are vinified separately in tanks, with alcoholic fermentation typically lasting 12 to 14 days. Maturation in concrete tanks lasts 12 months. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Engaging nose of red and black fruit with hints of spice and faint burnt rubber. Medium-bodied, dry and savoury, with clean fruit and bright acidity. Fundamentally fluid and supple though not lacking tannic grit. The finish is long and minerally. As Loire-ish and it is Languedoc-ish, this is a wonderfully drinkable wine. What’s more, a few bottles remain available. (Buy again? Done!)
Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, Pot d’Anne, Autour de l’Anne ($55.47/1500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
The cuvée’s name, which translates as “Anne’s pot,” is a homonym of peau d’âne (donkey skin). 100% Cinsault from 20-year-old vines grown on limestone and red clay. Half the grapes are destemmed, the other half left as whole clusters. Semi-carbonic maceration in concrete tanks lasts 12 days. Maturation in concrete tanks lasts 12 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Pretty, perfumy nose of red and black fruit, including berries, overtoned with flowers, sawed wood and spice. Barely medium-bodied. The lightly juicy fruit is fresh and fluid, structured by supple tannins. Finishes long and clean. So, so drinkable. (Buy again? Moot but yes.)
At the second tasting, someone asked why the wines were so Loire-like. Could the fact that they were fermented with native yeasts explain it? Probably not, as the wines didn’t leave the Languedoc until alcoholic fermentation was completed. On the other hand, malolactic fermentation took place in the Loire, so indigenous bacteria could be a factor (though wouldn’t the wines also bring some Languedoc microflora with them?). To my mind, Max Campbell’s theory that the difference is due to the cooler temperatures of the Loire cellars seems more realistic.
As mentioned earlier, both tastings were followed by a light meal of salads, charcuterie and cheese. As the tail ends of the Deux Caves bottles were insufficient to slake the collective thirst, a few other wines were uncorked (gratitude to all who supplied them). I stopped taking notes at that point but wanted to mention four in passing.
Damien Coquelet’s Beaujolais-Villages “Fou du Beaujo” has long been a Mo’ Wine Group favourite. At the second tasting, the 2012 ($22.43, private import, La QV/Insolite, NLA) and 2014 ($19.20, 12604080) were served side by side. The 2012 was a thing of beauty: vibrant, fruity, sappy, fluid, lip-smacking. The 2014 seemed a little harder and less smiling, though whether that’s a function of the vintage, the age, this particular bottle or the filtering and/or sulphuring possibly required by the SAQ is anybody’s guess.
The Valle del Maule 2014, Pipeño, Collection Rézin, Louis-Antoine Luyt ($18.15, 12511887) is a lovable, natural Chilean wine made entirely using purchased País grapes from organcially farmed vines about a century and a half old. (Luyt buys the grapes – at fair trade prices – from his pickers, one of whose photograph appears on the label.) Fragrant and fruity, ripe and juicy, light and fresh, with frisky acidity, very soft tannins, a disarming rusticity and a quaffability quotient that’s off the charts. I’ve drunk more of this wine than any other this year and it was interesting to hear others who were just discovering it planning to buy cases the next time it rolls around.
The 2001 Château Coutet is a classic Barsac that’s showing beautifully. Rich but not heavy (good acidity), sweet but not saccharine. The complex flavours and aromatics are dominated by stone fruit and botrytis. The finish lasts for minutes. A deluxe end to a most enjoyable evening.
MWG September 27th tastings: flight 3 of 3
Lastly, here’s a link to another, much less tardy report on the tasting – one from which some of the earlier-cited technical information about Xavier Marchais comes – that was posted on the Quebec-based wine discussion board Fou du vin by a new and welcome addition to the Mo’ Wine Group. Du beau travail, Raisin Breton !
To celebrate his impending marriage, a MWG member raided his cellar and generously treated the group to two 1990 St-Juliens. Thanks and congratulations, David!
Saint-Julien 1990, Château Lagrange
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Merlot (44%) and Petit Verdot (12%). Manually harvested. Maceration and fermentation of the various lots takes place in temperature-controlled (28°C) stainless steel vats ranging in size from 66 to 220 hl and lasts two to three weeks. The lots are selected, blended and matured in French oak barrels (60% new) for 21 months. Fined with egg whites and racked by candle light before bottling. 13% ABV.
Young to the eye for a 25-year-old wine: some fading at the rim but virtually no bricking. Effusive nose of cassis, graphite, red meat, “honeycomb,” modelling clay, cigar box and green pepper. Savoury and smooth, rich and elegant. The tannins are mostly resolved though the wine still has plenty of structure. Leather, stones, spice and wood (not oak) overtone the long finish. A complete wine. Classic Médoc, at or near peak.
Saint-Julien 1990, Château Léoville-Barton
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc; haven’t found the exact percentages used in 1990 but it’s usually something like 65%, 25% and 10% respectively. Current-day wine-making practices, which are probably not too dissimilar from those used a quarter of a century ago, are: manual harvesting; destemming, crushing and fermenting on a plot by plot basis in temperature-controlled wood vats; alcoholic fermentation lasting seven to 10 days with twice daily pump-overs; three week’s maceration on the skins; maturation in French oak barrels (50-70% new) for 16 to 18 months and topped up three times a week; fining in the barrels with fresh egg whites. 12.5% ABV.
Even less bricking than the Lagrange. The expected cassis is there but as a backdrop to beef chop suey, “tamarind,” chestnut honey and graphite. Smoothly structured with soft-glow acidity and round, resolving tannins that, as chewing reveals, still have an astringent bite. The fruit remains vibrant and the wine’s depth is not yet fully in evidence. Tobacco and cedar linger long. Darker and more umami-rich than a bottle opened a decade earlier, I think this needs another five or 10 years to peak. That said, I’m sure it’d be a here-now delight with a roasted leg of lamb.
MWG October 8th tasting: flight 6 of 7
I pull an old bottle from my cellar. Thinking it’s probably over the hill and not something I’d want to chance sharing with friends, I open it one evening when I’m alone. The wine is glorious. And I’m the only person around to appreciate it.
In this case, the bottle is a Sonoma Mountains 1993, Cabernet Sauvignon, Laurel Glen, for which I paid a stiff $49.50 back in the day. The reason why was that it was said to be a sleeper, an underappreciated wine that could hold its own against better-known Cal Cabs costing two or three times as much. And you know what? It does.
Earlier in the day, I’d found a a beautiful veal rib steak sitting in my butcher’s display case. Looking for something I could, weather permitting, grill or, weather not, cook on the stovetop, I grabbed it.
Look in food-and-wine pairing books and you’ll often find that mature Bordeaux, in particular Médoc, is a recommended accompaniment for côtes de veau. And I was sure I had a cru bourgeois or two from the 1990s or early 2000s at home. Except when I looked, I didn’t. After hesitating over a 2002 Chinon, I went with this. And now, since there’s no one to share the experience with, I regret it. Except the wine is so delicious, I don’t really.
Gorgeous Bordeauxish nose of cassis, cedar and cigar box along with notes of turned earth and slate. A joy in the mouth: the fruit sweet and vibrant, the texture satiny, the tannins resolved into velvet, the acidity bright and streaming. The long finish is remarkable for its complex of savoury, minerally, tobacco/herby nuances. What’s more, the wine is dry and perfectly digeste, spritely, invigorating, with an alcohol level of 12.5%. Probably as good as it ever will be, though probably not declining for a few years more.
It’s the kind of wine that restores my faith in California. Except does anyone in California make wines like this any more?
Bandol 2006, Domaine du Gros’Noré ($55.00, 11553938)
A blend of Mourvèdre (75%), Grenache (10%), Cinsaut (10%) and Carignan (5%) from vines averaging 30 years old. Partially destemmed.Traditional vinification with 15 days’ maceration and fermentation (indigenous yeasts). Matured 18 months in old oak foudres. Unfiltered, unfined. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Effusive nose of plum, dark earth, hints of tobacco and herbs. Youthful but resolving. The dark heart of plush, ripe fruit and inky minerals is framed by round tannins and soft acidity. Olives and garrigue perfume the long finish, the alcohol unapparent. Surprisingly elegant for a wine of its size and inherent earthiness. (Buy again? Gladly.)
Bandol 2007, Domaine Tempier (c. $50 as a private import in 2009)
The so-called cuvée classique. Typically 75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault and 2% Carignan from vines averaging around 40 years old. Manually harvested. The destemmed grapes are macerated and fermented (with indigenous yeasts) for two to three weeks in stainless steel tanks. The must is pressed and the wine is transferred to oak foudres for malolactic fermentation and 18 to 20 months’ maturation. Unfiltered and unfined. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Initial bottle funk blows off, leaving a rich, evolved nose of plum, spice, graphite, earth, composted leaf, old wood and cigar box. Full-bodied despite the Gros’Noré wines making it seem more like medium. Smooth on the surface, the fruit ripe and satiny, yet resilient tannins provide some grit while acidity brightens and slate darkens. Long. A savoury, earthy, somehow elegant wine that tastes like it’s approaching its plateau of maturity, though the stuffing, structure and balance point to another decade of life. (Buy again? Yes.)
Bandol 2010, Cuvée Antoinette, Domaine du Gros’Noré ($74.00, 12207033)
Only a few hundred bottles of this cuvée named after the winemaker’s mother are made each year. Mourvèdre (95%), Grenache (3%) and Cinsault (2%). Not destemmed. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Better after 30 minutes in the glass. Plum skin, grassy meadow, humus, Asian spice, game.
On the palate, it’s rich, dry, full-bodied, broad and deep – primary and powerful but not forbidding. The sweet core of ripe fruit is wrapped in savouriness and finely if firmly structured by velvety tannins and sustained acidity. The endless, dark, minerally finish has an astringent rasp. Pure and complete. Delicious now, amazing in 2020. (Buy again? Would love to.)
Jean-Yves Péron has been making wines since 2004 using fruit from very old vines, some of them pre-phylloxera, on two hectares of terraced, high-altitude vineyards in Chevaline, near Albertville. After studying oenology in Bordeaux, he trained with natural winemakers Thierry Allemand and Jean-Louis Grippat in the Rhône valley and Bruno Schueller in Alsace. Organic farming, indigenous yeasts, non-interventionist winemaking, avoidance of filtering and fining and the use of little or no sulphur make his natural wines of the first rank.
Péron’s top red, Côté Pelée, is a 100% Mondeuse Noire from ancient vines growing in schist and slate soils. One week’s carbonic maceration is followed by ten days’ to three weeks’ fermentation, depending on the vintage, and one year’s barrel aging. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou. When the three wines were last available in Quebec (c. 2012), they retailed for about $45 a bottle.
Vin de pays d’Allobrogie 2006, Côte Pelée, Jean-Yves Péron (private import, NLA)
Engaging bouquet of spice chest, slate, earthy mushroom and dried cherry. In the mouth, it’s a satin-textured welterweight with light tannins, light but tart acidity and a dark, mineral underlay. Long, juicy, pure. At its peak? Hard to say. But also hard to resist at this point in its life. (Buy again? Yes.)
Vin de pays d’Allobrogie 2007, Côte Pelée, Jean-Yves Péron (private import, NLA)
Intense tomato and leather/wood/smoke, then developing an umami-rich aroma not unlike beef chop suey. The fruit – plum mostly – seems a little stewed. Smooth and round. In fact, it’s slightly heavier and considerably less structured and acidic than its older and younger siblings, though plenty of acidity and structure remain. Sustained finish. Delicious but flatter, the least interesting of the three. (Buy again? Not in preference to the other two, especially the 2008.)
Vin de pays d’Allobrogie 2008, Côte Pelée, Jean-Yves Péron (private import, NLA)
Deep, dark, minerally nose with whiffs of leather, almond and cherry. Medium-bodied, closed and tight. A mouthful of rich sweet-and-sour fruit, grounding slate, shining acidity and fine, sleek tannins. The satin-and-velvet texture lasts well into the long finish. A complete wine, a thoroughbred with several glorious years ahead of it. (Buy again? Yes, please.)