Brett happens

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Posts Tagged ‘Galicia

Spain 2, Australia 1

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Didn’t set out to do a Vintrinsec-only flight but that’s how it ended up. Is the agency cornering the Mencia market in Quebec?

McLaren Vale 2016, Mencia, The Anthropocene Epoch, D’Arenberg ($29.90, 13491136)
Australian Mencia. Who knew? Apparently, this is the first vintage of the wine. 100% Mencia. The grapes are hand-picked and vinified on a parcel-by-parcel basis. The grapes are gently crushed and placed in fermentation vats. About two-thirds of the way through fermentation (with selected yeasts), the grapes are foot-trod, then basket-pressed and transferred to old French oak barrels for nine months. Reducing sugar: 2.7 g/l. 14% ABV. Screwcapped. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Outgoing nose of plum skin, berries, slate, herbs, black pepper, beef fat and clay. Full-bodied but not galumphing, dense with ripe fruit but not a bomb. Clean and dry, with soft tannins, freshening acidity and a flavour not that far from cherry cola. Good finish that gains wood notes as the wine warms and breathes. A shade less minerally than the other wines in the flight but respectable nonetheless. (Buy again? When looking for a crowd-pleaser to pour at a classy backyard barbecue, sure.)

Bierzo 2014, Gus, Raúl Pérez ($26.10, 13354457)
Rockstar winemaker Pérez named an earlier entry-level cuvée Dargo, after a pet dog. This cuvée is named after one of his cats. 100% Mencia from organically farmed 70-year-old vines. Matured 12 months in neutral French oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 1.6 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Red and black licorice, slate and a touch of volatile acidity lending a vinyl note (a second bottle opened a few days later was pristine). A medium-bodied, fluid mouthful of juicy fruit (black raspberry, mainly) and dark minerals. Alive with acidity and firmed by smooth tannins. Credible energy and depth. Faint vanilla and char notes emerge on the finish. Not quite the equal of the long-ago Lalama but about as good a Mencia as you’ll find for the price. (Buy again? Yes.)

Ribeira Sacra 2016, Joven, Mencia, Adegas Guímaro ($21.00, 12752533)
Mencia (90% with five percent each of Caiño Tinto and Sousón, all from organically farmed vines in various parcels with soils ranging from granite to slate and sand. Manually harvested. The lots are fermented separately by soild type. About three-quarters of the harvest is destemmed; the remainder is left in whole clusters. Cold-macerated six days. Fermented 20-30 days with indigenous yeasts, half in tanks and half in foudres. Matured six months in tanks on the lees. Unfiltered. Cold-stabilized. Fined with egg whites. Added sulphur is kept to a minimum. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Bretty nose of tomato paste, red and black berries and slate. Medium-bodied. fruit-forward and fleet, due in no small part to the bright acidity. The juicy fruit is undertoned with minerals and overtoned with herbs. Light tannins provide an appealing rasp. Finishes long and clean on a spicy note. Nothing profound but honest, drinkable and affordable. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG March 9th tasting: flight 4 of 5

Written by carswell

May 9, 2018 at 11:25

Two Galicians and an ugly duckling

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Ribeiro 2014, Coto de Gomariz ($26.95, 13075554)
A blend of Treixadura (70%), Albariño (10%), Godello (10%) and Loureiro (10%) from biodyanmically and organically (non-certified) farmed vines grown in granite, schist and clay on slopes and terraces near the village of Gomariz. The grapes are hand-picked, destemmed, crushed and lightly pressed. The juice is cold-settled and fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures. Bottled from the tank on demand and always on a flower day. Vegan-compatible. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Promising nose dominated by white grapefruit along with apple, pear, pineapple and background herbs and stone. Smooth and suave in the mouth. Quite dry. Brisk acidity lightens the somewhat viscous texture. Marked by sweet fruit upfront but minerals and dried fruit on the long finish. A sensation – faintly biting, like pepper can be (though the flavour isn’t at play) – that I suspect results from a combination of acid, mineral bitterness and maybe stealth tannins lingers after the fruit has disappeared, adding intrigue. (Buy again? Sure.)


Rias Baixas 2015, Lagar de Cervera ($27.40, 13159272)
100% Albariño from estate vineyards in O Rosla and Cambados. The manually harvested grapes were destemmed and macerated on the skins for 10 hours, followed by gentle pressing at 10C in an inert-gas atmosphere to prevent oxidation. After settling and racking, the must was fermented at 15C. One quarter of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured on its fine lees with occasional stirring. Saw only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Straightforward nose of grapefruit and quartz with faint white flower notes. In the mouth, the wine is middle-weighty, clean and as minerally as fruity. The smooth acidity barely ramps up the tension. A touch of bitterness on the fairly long finish adds welcome intrigue. Tasted twice – first at the store, then at the tasting – with consistent impressions, this well-made but somewhat listless wine was a disappointment, especially in view of the estate’s reputation and the glowing reviews the wine received in the media. Would likely show better alongside grilled fish. (Buy again? Meh.)

Bierzo 2013, La del Vivo, La Vizcaína, Raúl Pérez ($57.00, 12332045)
A relatively new project, La Vizcaína (“the Biscayan”) produces five wines – four reds and this white – using fruit from vineyards around cult winemaker Raúl Pérez’s hometown of Valtuille de Abajo. This is a blend of Doña Blanca (80%), Godello (10%) and Palomino (10%) from organically farmed vines, some planted as long ago as 1916. The manually harvested grapes are handled in two ways. Around 80% are pressed and racked into 500- and 700-litre French barrels for fermentation and maturation; they are left untouched for one year. The remainder are fermented on the skins in clay amphorae for one year, again untouched. The two parts are blended and the wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
The wine in our bottle was double-carafed about an hour before we tasted it. Gold bronze in the glass. Complex nose of straw, chalk, honey and a faintly acrid note that several tasters found off-putting, at least initially. Improved with time, developing scents of white spice, “sage,” “late corn field,” “yellow flowers” and “faint nuts.” A sip shows it to be rich, extracted, broad, just acidic enough, dry and not particularly fruity, and what fruit there is is candied. Wax, bitter, mineral and oxidative threads intertwine, most apparently on the long finish. Still, some tasters wanted nothing to do with it and “interesting” was about the best any of us could say. However, those of us who kept our glasses until the end of the tasting – four or five hours after the double-carafing – were amply rewarded, as the acridity had vanished and the wine had deepened, sweetened and become beautifully layered and coherent. Memorable. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

March 1, 2017 at 16:40

MWG October 17th tasting (1/5): Albariño duo, Alvarinho solo

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The October 17th tasting focused on Spanish wines, including five from the day’s Cellier New Arrivals release.

Rias Baixas 2011, Albariño, Adegas Morgadio ($20.35, 11962686)
100% Albariño. Made using free-run juice from estate grown grapes. Fermented for 15 days at 16ºC. If this sees any oak, you can’t taste it. 13% ABV. One of the Cellier New Arrivals wines.
Fresh, crushed seashell and lemon nose with peach and floral notes. Dry and tense. The crisp acidity is softened by the extract, which is surprisingly dense for such a fleet wine. Light but complex set of flavours, including underripe pear, citrus zest, white spices, maybe some powdered ginger. Long minerally finish and a lingering tang. Balanced and refreshing. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vinho regional Minho 2012, Alvarinho, Colheita Seleccionada, Quinta de Gomariz ($21.00, 11895225)
100% Alvarinho from 12-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts for seven to ten days. Matured for two months. Prevented from undergoing malolactic fermentation. Sees only stainless steel. Fined and filtered before bottling. 12.5% ABV.
Aromatic: lime, peach, white flowers, white sand. A notch sweeter and tarter than the Spaniards and possessed of a light spritz, this was clearly the ringer. Fresh and flowing. The fruit is balanced by tangy acid and sits on a chalky substrate. The long, tart, dryish finish has a white pepper note. It could be the different contexts, but this didn’t strike me as memorable as the 2011. Still plenty good though. Would make a great match for fresh crab. (Buy again? Yes.)

Rias Baixas 2011, Albariño, Legado del Conde, Adegas Morgadio ($19.95, 11155403)
100% Albariño. Made from first-press juices. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. 12.5% ABV.
A sterner nose, more about minerals than fruit and with a clean sweat-like component. Dry and fruity on the palate with chugging acidity, a quartzy undertow and a sour-edged finish. Enjoyable on its own but coming across as a little tighter and simpler than its stablemate. (Buy again? Sure though not in preference to the only-40-cents-more-expensive standard cuvée.)

Written by carswell

October 23, 2013 at 10:01

Mapping Rias Baixas

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Rias Baixas 2011, O Rosal, Santiago Ruiz ($23.40, 11899605)
Though run by the Ruiz family, the estate is owned by Bodegas LAN, itself now owned by Portuguese giant Sogrape. The whimsical label is a reproduction of a hand-drawn map that Ruiz’s daughter sent to guests to show them the way to the winery for her wedding. This is a blend of Albariño (70%), Louriero (15%), Caiño Blanco (10%) and Treixadura and Godello (5%) from the 38 ha O Rosal vineyard. The grapes are macerated on their skins during a slow, soft pressing. The juice is allowed to settle and clarify for 15 to 20 hours and then is fermented at 16 to 17ºC in stainless steel tanks for around two weeks. 13% ABV.
Fresh nose: lime and grapefruit zest, East Asian fruit (lychee? loquat?), faint spice and chalk dust. There are two layers to this wine. The upper layer is soft and silky, with pale sweet fruit (Asian pear) and a rainwater minerality. The lower layer is denser and drier, the fruit more citrusy, the acidity providing some bite and the stoney minerals showing a bitter edge. The upper layer makes a beguiling first impression but fades by the finish, leaving only the sterner lower layer and prompting another sip to sweeten the palate. Obviously, a fine aperitif wine but with enough savour and stuffing to accompany simply prepared seafood (like my grilled spot prawns). (Buy again? Yes, though maybe not in preference to Gomariz’s benchmark – if less winey – Alvarinho.)

Written by carswell

June 2, 2013 at 13:09

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MWG April 18th tasting (6/9): Dínamo gallega

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Ribeira Sacra 2008, Lalama, Dominio do Bibei ($27.20, 11661390)
Mencia (90%), Garnacha (7%) and Mouratón (3%) from 15- to 100-year-old vines grown in slate, clay and granite soils. Manually harvested. Segregated by variety. The grapes are chilled, sorted and destemmed. Fermented in foudres except for 15%, which is fermented in large open barrels. Given two to three weeks maceration, then pressed. Matured 20 months on the lees in a mix of foudres and barrels, a small portion of which are new. 12.5% ABV.
Outgoing nose evocative of black raspberry, black cherry, slate and some sweet spice. Medium-bodied yet mouth-filling. The intense juicy fruit is amped up by zingy acidity and tethered by dark minerals and deep tannins, creating the kind of tension that’s usually associated with whites. Long earthy finish. A dynamo of a wine that’s only beginning to show its mettle and so benefits from carafing. People who claim that Galicia is Spain’s most exciting wine region are probably thinking of bottles like this. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Written by carswell

April 28, 2013 at 11:55

MWG April 18th tasting (1/9): Two Galician whites

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Valdeorras 2011, Gaba do Xil, Godello, Telmo Rodriguez ($17.25, 11896113)
100% Godello. A blend of estate-grown and purchased grapes grown on steep-sloped, terraced vineyards. Manually harvested. Fermented with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees. 13.5% ABV. Part of the April 18th Cellier New Arrivals release.
Lemon, minerals and a whiff of dried herbs. The soft, even fleshy attack with hints of pear segues into a citric mid-palate with a strong acidic backbone and a savory streak that persists through the long, quartzy finish. Dry, clean and fresh. Would make a good apéritif or a pairing for shellfish grilled or a la plancha. (Buy again? Sure.)

Ribeiro 2011, Viña Mein ($21.20, 11903686)
About 70% Treixadura with other local varieties (Godello, Loureiro, Albariño, Torrontés*, Lado, etc.) making up the balance. Fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees. 12.5% ABV.
White fruit, grapefruit and quartz. Richer and denser, to the point that it seems less crisp than the Gaba do Xil, though I suspect the acidity levels are actually about the same. The flavours echo the nose with some lemon thrown in. Gains an attractive sour and bitter edge on the finish. Simply prepared fish and shellfish seem indicated here. (Buy again? Sure.)

*The native Galician grape, which “produces wines of little body and good acidity, with considerable personality and an intense bouquet [and] can be found throughout Galicia and in Córdoba” ( Argentina’s Torrontés is a different grape altogether, now thought essentially to be a cross between the Muscat of Alexandria and Mission varieties.

Written by carswell

April 20, 2013 at 10:14

MWG March 8th tasting (3/5): Two Greeks, a Turk and a Galician walk into a wine bar…

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IGP Letrini 2008, Domaine Mercouri ($19.75, 11885537)
Located on the western coast of the Peloponnese peninsula near the village of Korakochori, the estate is the second oldest modern-day producer in Greece (after Boutari). This is a blend of sustainably farmed Refosco (80%) and Mavrodaphne (20%); the Refosco vines were first brought to the estate from Friuli in the 19th century. Fermented with neutral yeasts in stainless steel vats. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured 10 to 12 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. 13% ABV.
Spicy wild berries, dried wood, herbs. Medium-bodied, like all the wines in this flight. Very dry. Juicy but not cloyingly so. Acid bright with tight tannins and a bitter-edged finish. A suave wine that is more upfront than deep but definitely easy-drinking and food friendly. Plus it hits that “in the mood for a winey red” spot. (Buy again? Yes.)

Öküzgözü 2010, Terra, Kayra ($15.30, 11885625)
100% Öküzgözü (“ox eye”). Grown in the province of Elazığ, in east central Anatolia. This bottling is part of the producer’s Terra line, which focuses on wines made from indigenous varieties. 13.5% ABV.
Pleasant if simple nose of slate and candied cassis. Soft textured. Full of plum and fruit cake flavours and powdery tannins, with lots of acidity and a credible finish. Not a wow for anyone around the table but unusual and kind of fun. (Buy again? On a whim, sure, especially if planning to eat lahmacun.)

Valdeorras 2010, Gaba Do Xil, Telmo Rodriguez ($17.25, 11861771)
100% Mencia, a mix of purchased grapes and the estate’s own; unlike most Mencia we see these days, this isn’t from Bierzo but nearby Galicia. Manually harvested. Native yeasts. 13 % ABV.
Candied cherry, swimming pool and graphite. Smooth and silky on the palate. More acidic than tannic. Umami-ish set of flavours dominated by dried plum and soy sauce, including the salt. Long astringent and drying finish. Seemed short on fruit. Suffering from travel shock? (Buy again? Maybe.)

Achaïa 2011, Kalavryta, Domaine Tetramythos ($15.45, 11885457)
The estate is located in Achaea, on the Gulf of Corinth in the northern Peloponnese. Farming is certified organic with an eye on biodynamic. This wine is made using the free-run must from Black of Kalavryta (Μαύρο Καλαβρυτινό) grapes, an indigenous variety once widely grown in the area but now nearly extinct. Tetramythos has 1.4 hectares of the vines and is the sole remaining producer. Alcoholic fermentation (with native yeasts) and nine months’ maturation are in stainless steel vats. Malolactic fermentation is prevented. Use of sulphur dioxide is kept to a bare and tiny minimum. The wine is unfined but coarsely filtered before bottling. Average annual production is 9,000 bottles. Recommended pairings feature tomato in one form or another: baked tuna in tomato sauce (tuna used to be common in the gulf); baked stuffed tomatoes; or rabbit or cock, browned and braised in red wine with tomato paste being added toward the end and finished by adding parboiled hylopites (square egg noodles) to the sauce and cooking them until done. 13.5% ABV.
Odd-bordering-on-unappetizing nose of ketchup, old leather, black pepper and animale. Smooth and juicy in the mouth, however, with supple tannins, bright acidity, clear flavours and a sustained finish. The MWG member who took the tail end of the bottle home with him reports that the next day the “offensive funkiness” had gone and the wine was “very tasty.” The Quebec agent reports the same thing: the wine is currently in a “weird reductive phase” and needs to be carafed the better part of a day to rectify itself. Will do. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

March 18, 2013 at 14:09

MWG June 21st tasting: report (1/4)

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IGT Terre di Chieti 2010, Pecorino “Unico”, Tenute Ulisse ($18.80, 11660418)
100% Pecorino from 5- to 10-year old vines. Chilled, destemmed and softly crushed before ferminting and three-months aging in stainless steel. 13% ABV. Vino-lok closure.
Apple and lemon on the nose. Medium-bodied but full of extract. Kept bright by acidity. Savoury lemon intertwines with chalk and quartz. Good, clean finish with a faint bitter note (hazelnut skin?). Fine as a apertif or with simply prepared seafood. (Buy again? Sure.)

Verdicchio di Matelica 2010, Bisci ($20.20, 11660979)
100% Verdicchio. Lightly crushed then pressed to separate the must from the skins. Fermented at a cool 20ºC or less. Aged seven months before bottling. 13% ABV.
Floral bouquet with chalk, grapefruit, melon and eventually jalapeno notes. Rounder and weightier than the Pecorino but also blander (perhaps due to its being served too chilled; the estate recommends 14ºC or higher), which isn’t to say lacking dimension. Clean and bracing with lifting acidity. At this point, not as exciting as the 2009. (Buy again? Yes, especially to lay down for a year or two.)

Rias Baixas 2010, Albariño, Fillaboa ($22.05, 11668129)
100% Albariño from one of the appellation’s top producers. Sees extended lees contact. 13% ABV.
Odd nose that had us wondering whether the bottle wasn’t slightly off: curdled cream against a background of lemon, flowers and coral. Lighter and simpler than its reputation suggests it should be: a savoury, minerally, lemony mouthful with crisp acidity and a saline, slightly alcoholic finish. Not bad but I couldn’t buck the impression that something was missing, that the parts weren’t coalescing into a whole. (Buy again? Maybe to give it another chance.)

Bierzo 2010, Godello, Dominio de Tares ($26.25, 11631852)
100% Godello from 20-year-old vines. Fermented 20 days at 19ºC. No malolactic fermentation. Aged three months in new French oak barrels with daily battonage. Cassein-fined before bottling. 13% ABV.
Complex and evolving nose of yellow fruit, spice and a hint of oak. Ripe-fruity and rich in extract, so conveying an impression of sweetness, yet briskly acidic and actually quite dry. Subtle peach and vanilla give way to a long, spicy finish. Intriguing. (Buy again? Yes!)

Written by carswell

June 26, 2012 at 23:00