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Posts Tagged ‘Germany

Loosen up

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Mosel 2015, Riesling, Dr. L, Loosen Bros. ($16.45, 1068525)
The estate’s entry-level Riesling is a négociant wine made from grapes grown to spec and bought under long-term contracts. Vinified in stainless steel tanks. Fermentation is stopped by chilling before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 45 g/l. 8.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Select Vins.
Textbook nose: lime, white grapefruit, green apple, quartz and slate. A first sip reveals a spritzy tingle. Electric acidity shreds the sugar: while this is technically off-dry, it comes across as tartish, reinforcing the impression that the fruit is citrus, though peach is there too if you look for it. Chalkly, quartzy veins thread their way throughout, which is not to say there’s the kind of mineral (or any other) depth found in the estate’s single-vineyard bottlings. The puckery finish doesn’t last long, giving you the perfect excuse to take another sip. So pound-backable and – at 8.5% – you don’t pay a price for doing so. Lemon-limeade for adults. Should be on the wine list of every southeast Asian restaurant in the city and yet, amazingly, it almost never is. (Buy again? Yes, yes, yes.)

Written by carswell

December 4, 2016 at 10:52

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

Selbach-Oster times two

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Mosel 2014, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Selbach-Oster ($19.95, 00927962)
100% Riesling from the Himmelreich vineyard (Zeltinger is the name of the adjacent, riverside village). Manually harvested. Made in tanks and large neutral barrels. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 17 g/l. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
“Lemon-flavoured Greek yogurt” (quoting another taster), chalk, quartz and eventually green apple and a whiff of petrol. Light and lean in the mouth. The sugar, in no way saccharine to begin with, is held in check by trenchant acidity. The fruit seems subdued, at least for now, while the pervasive minerals have yet to crystallize. Enjoyable enough as is but, based on experience with earlier vintages, I’m guessing this still has some knitting together to do and will show better in a year or two. Cannot imagine why anyone, especially sushi eaters, would choose Kung Fu Girl when this is around. (Buy again? Sure.)

Mosel 2012, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Selbach-Oster ($29.35, 00904243)
100% Riesling from the Sonnenuhr vineyard. Manually harvested. Made in tanks and large neutral barrels. Reducing sugar: 7.7 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Apples, faint citrus, chalk and slate. Elegant and transparent, with a rainwatery weight and texture. Fruity and residual sugary but basically dry. Minerals abound. The acidity is crisp though less razor-sharp than the Halbtrocken’s. Good length, with some stone fruit and spice joining the lemon and slate. A wine of great purity, this is drinkable now but will reward cellaring for another five years at least. (Buy again? Yes.)

Sorry to say the estate continues the German tradition of providing few specifics about its vine-growing and wine-making. The above two wines may or may not come from old, ungrafted vines and may or may not have been fermented with indigenous yeasts. No info about filtering, fining or added sulphur (though you can usually take the last for granted).

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

May 30, 2016 at 12:14

Three lighter reds

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Württemburg 2014, Trollinger, Without All, Weingut Knauss ($28.00, private import, NLA)
100% Trollinger from organically farmed though uncertified vines. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. No added anything, whence the “without all.” Unfiltered and unfined. 9.5% ABV. Screwcapped. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
A bit spritzy and reduced at first, then sour berries, slate and developing clay and animale notes. Light and fluid on the palate. Airframe tannins and bright acidity provide some structure and faint minerals some depth but this is mainly about the pure fruit. Lip-smacking, sweet and sour finish. Light-bodied almost to the point of lacking substance and yet refreshing and ultra-drinkable, this ethereal wine was a hit with several around the table, despite its high price. (Buy again? Gladly.)

Côtes du Forez 2014, La Volcanique, Cave Verdier-Logel ($21.80, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in Marcilly-le-Châtel, the certified organic 17-hectare estate grows Gamay and a little Pinot Gris and Viognier. This cuvée is 100% Gamay from old vines rooted in basalt soil. Manually harvested. Macerated 21 days at around 20°C. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Lightly filtered (earth filters) before bottling. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Sappy in the way of a good Beaujolais, though the red berries are a little candied and shot through with some greenness. Supple and tasty. Juicy fruit and sustained acidity play against a schisty backdrop while the tannins turn a little bitey on the sustained finish. Finely balanced yet appealingly rustic. To my surprise, this didn’t create the same sensation that the 2013 did (different contexts?). (Buy again? Yes.)

Quebec 2012, Pinot Noir Réserve, Domaine les Brome ($26.00, 12685879)
100% Pinot Noir according to the winery’s website ( says the wine contains 7% Maréchal Foch). Macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Matured 12 months in oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 1.9%. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Univins.
A nose that tasters described as “electrical fire,” “cordite” and simply “weird.” Reactions to the taste were similar, “copper penny” being the one I noted. The not very pinot-ish fruit is brightened by good acidity but deflated by saggy tannins and muddied by extraneous flavours. Odd-tasting finish. I’m hoping ours was an off bottle. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

This flight was built around the Trollinger and the other two wines were chosen in the hope that they might be close to its light body. Neither was. In fact, I’ve encountered only one wine recently that is: Domaine de la Pinte’s 2012 Arbois “Poulsard de l’ami Karl,” which we tasted back in October.

MWG November 12th tasting: flight 4 of 6

Trocken und korken

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Rheinhessen 2014, Riesling, Trocken, Weingut Keller ($27.45, 10558446)
100% Riesling. Manually harvested. The must gets around 20 hours of skin contact. Cool-temperature fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in stainless steel tanks and lasts two months. Matured on the lees with no stirring in stainless steel tanks for four months. Reducing sugar: 4.1 g/l. 11.5% ABV (12% per Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Developing, minerally nose that turns a little perfumy, is shaded by lemon-lime-grapefruit and “vanilla ice cream” aromas and eventually gains green melon notes. Faintly spritzy in the mouth. Full of ripe fruit and minerals. Bright – not sharp – with acidity, showing some depth (age will bring more) and possessed of an appealing sour edge. Dry but not austerely so. Finishes long and clean. While this didn’t appear to push the assembled tasters’ buttons, I liked its focus and balance. Would make an excellent pairing for trout and other freshwater fish (all the better if there’s some bacon present) or a simple roast chicken, not to mention herb-inflected southeast Asian cuisine. (Buy again? A bottle to take to Nhu Y, for sure, and maybe a couple more for the cellar.)

Nahe 2014, Riesling, Trocken, Vulkangestein, Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich ($29.50, 12721454)
12% ABV. Quebec agent: Avant-Garde.
Corked. Which was a shame because you could tell this is, if anything, even finer than the Keller.

MWG October 8th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

October 16, 2015 at 11:24

MWG February 19th tasting: Kung Fu fighting

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One evening late last spring, friends and I were downtown and in the mood for good East Asian fare but not for waiting in line. We decided they would drop by Kazu for takeout while I’d hit an SAQ Express for wine. Predictably, the selection of compatible bottles at the store was pitiful. After much dithering, I ended up with a 2012 Kung Fu Girl Riesling and a crémant de Bourgogne. It was our first experience with the KFG and we were not impressed. In fact, I’ve never heard the end of it.

Yet KFG regularly gets rave reviews from local and international critics: “Mid-priced marvel … great job” (Bill Zacharkiw in The Gazette); “91 points … Top 100 Wines … Best Value” (Wine Spectator); “clean, fresh, incredibly pure … rock star effort … 90 points” (Wine Advocate); “flat out delicious … 91 points … Best Buy” (Wine Enthusiast); “shows Riesling’s fun and funky side … 16.75/20 points” (Decanter); etc. Such praise seemed hard to reconcile with our impressions of the 2012.

Obviously a double-blind test was in order. And that was the idea behind this flight.

Okanagan Valley 2012, Riesling, Tantalus ($29.80, 12456726)
100% Riesling from five- to 35-year-old vines grown in several parcels. Fermented in small lots over two months, more or less. Blended and bottled in the spring following harvest. Screwcapped. 15 g/l residual sugar, 10.5 g/l total acidity, 2.85 pH, 12.8% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Fetching nose of creamy lemon-lime, quartz and flint. Smooth, fluid even rainwatery at first though turning richer as it breathed. Sweet-tart and fruity (“green apple Jolly Rancher” noted one taster) with lots of chalk and a long finish with some petrolly retro-nasal action. The sweetest (bordering on off-sweet) and most overtly Riesling of the three. The weightiest too, though not at the expense of liveliness. The exuberant fruit lasts through the finish while the acidity just zings. Minerals are there if you look for them. Initially winsome but coming across as a little slutty by the end. Several around the table said they’d buy it if, like the other wines in the flight, it were priced in the $20-$22 range. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Nahe 2013, Fröhlich Trocken, Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich ($21.25, 11897159)
In my flu-induced fog, I assumed this, like Schäfer-Fröhlich’s other wines at the SAQ, was a Riesling but it’s actually 100% Rivaner (aka Müller-Thurgau), not that the variety is mentioned anywhere on the bottle or the winery’s website. My bad. The grapes come from several parcels and the wine is made entirely in stainless steel tanks. 7.3 g/l residual sugar, 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Avant-Garde.
A nose more Sauvignon Blanc than Riesling: cat pee with the lime and apple relegated to the background. Definite sulphur aromas too that more or less blew off. In the mouth, it’s light-bodied and as minerally as fruity. While there’s not a lot of depth, a spritzy tingle lends height. The residual sugar is effectively neutralized by the brisk acidity. My initial reaction was meh but the wine grew on me until I quite liked it by the end. Would make a credible aperitif or summer evening deck wine and might accompany Thai food quite well. (Buy again? Sure.)

Washington State 2013, Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, Charles Smith Wines ($20.05, 11629787)
100% Riesling from vines planted in 1998 and now in the new Ancient Lakes AVA bordering the Columbia River. Given a long, cool fermentation. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Screwcapped. 13 g/l residual sugar, 7.9 g/l total acidity, 3.21 pH, 12% ABV. MSRP: US$12 but can easily be found for $1 or $2 less in the States. Quebec agent: AOC & cie.
Floral, boudoiry nose with pineapple and stone fruit in the background. Off-dry and fruit-forward on the attack but drying and hollowing out as it moves through the mouth. Short on acidity, depth and follow-through. Along with crushed rock, there’s an odd, vaguely chemical edge to the finish – one taster likened it to McDonald’s apple juice. Not awful but nothing to get excited about, especially when you can buy a superior German Riesling for less. Tellingly, this was the only bottle with a glass’s worth of wine remaining in it at the end of the tasting and nobody wanted to take it home. Why do critics constantly rate it so highly? (Buy again? Only if in dire need of a Riesling and nothing better is available.)

(Flight: 1/5)

Written by carswell

February 23, 2015 at 11:22

MWG November 13th tasting: Pinot Noir v. Spätburgunder

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Alsace Pinot Noir 2012, Les Jardins, Domaine Léon Boesch ($29.89, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from a 1.1-hecatre parcel of organically and biodynamically farmed vines averaging 20 years old. Manually harvested. The uncrushed whole clusters are macerated several days at 12°C. Fermented using indigenous yeasts with pumping over at the start, daily punch-downs and no chaptalization or temperature control. After pressing with a pneumatic press, the wine is matured 12 months in neutral barrels with top-ups every two or three weeks and no lees stirring. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Reductive at first, then exuberant red berries, cedar, gingerbread, wood-grilled flank steak and slate. Vibrant and mouth-filling. The tannic structure, bright acidity, depth and length seem positively Burgundian while the juicy freshness is anything but. Fun. (Buy again? Gladly.)

QbA Rheinhessen 2010, Spätburgunder, Holzfass, Battenfeld-Spanier ($33.95, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The up-and-coming 28-hectare estate is located in Hohen-Sülzen near Worms. It has been organic since 1993, began working biodynamically in 2005 and is now a member of La Renaissance des appellations. This 100% Pinot Noir is fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in new 1,200-litre oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Less rich and more peppery than the Boesch. Fluid, spicy, dry. The fruit is clean though there’s not lots of it. On the other hand, the streaming acidity, light but resilient tannins, slate and wood substrate and bitter finish give the wine a severe appeal. Among the more impressive German Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted. Would make an interesting ringer in a flight of similarly priced Burgundies. (Buy again? Sure.)

(Flight: 6/9)

Written by carswell

November 29, 2014 at 11:42