Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘Importation valise

Red redemption

leave a comment »

Prince Edward County 2010, Pinot Noir, Diana Block, Grange of Prince Edward ($35.00 at the winery)
100% Pinot Noir, the best lots from the Diana Block vineyard (the other lots go into the Estate and Select bottlings). The vines were planted in 2001 and 2002. Manually harvested and sorted. Alcoholic fermentation lasted 28 days. Matured 30 months in neutral French oak barrels. 13% ABV.
Showed some reductive funk at first, eliciting descriptors like “cherry-eucalyptus cough drops,” “putrescables after a couple of days” and “butterscotch” but soon comeing around. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied and charming from the get-go. The cherry fruit is silky, the acidity bright, the tannins just firm enough. Minerals provide some depth. The barrels may be neutral but the oak seems a little laid-on, though not to the point of interfering with enjoyment. Could be longer. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Canada 2014, Pinot Noir, The Old Third ($43.00 at the winery)
100% Pinot Noir from the estate’s organically farmed Cloisson vineyard in Prince Edward County. The vines were planted in the mid-2000s. Fermented in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts, then racked into French oak barrels, a fraction of which were new, where it matured for about one year. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and minimally sulphured. 12.5% ABV.
Engaging nose of red berries, spice and clay. Unmistakably Pinot from the first sip but with a striking umami side. The fruit is ripe and rich, tethered by tartness, supported by lithe tannins, shot through with wood and limestone. The long finish brings a red peppery note one taster characterized as “paprika.” Simultaneously earthy and elegant, like a good Burgundy. Hasn’t quite coalesced though the in-glass evolution indicates it will. (Buy again? Yes.)

Prince Edward County 2014, Pinot Noir, County, Unfiltered, Norman Hardie ($45.00 at the winery)
100% Pinot Noir. Given a six- to eight-day cold soak, then fermented seven days with indigenous yeasts and no more than two punch-downs a day. Macerated another week, more or less, with daily turning of the cap. Basket-pressed and transferred to French oak barrels for 10 months’ maturation. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, with a tiny shot of sulphur. 10.9% (!) ABV.
Red berries (strawberry above all), spice, cola, mowed field, hints of tar and cedar – classic, wot? Fresh sweet fruit, glowing acidity, soft tannins, some mineral earthiness, a subtle infusion of oak and the body of a welterweight about sum it up. The most obviously Pinot Noir of the quartet. Lovely if a bit facile, at least at this stage, and the price does give one pause. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Prince Edward County 2014, Pinot Noir, Quatres Anges, Lighthall ($35.00 at the winery)
100% Pinot Noir from estate vineyards. Fermented in temperature-controlled concrete tanks and some French oak barrels. Matured on the lees in French oak barrels. And that is all the winery thinks you need to know… 12.5% ABV.
“Wet dog” and sap aromas give way to cherry with hints of smoke and spice. A delight in the mouth: medium-bodied and silky, fresh-fruited and brightly acidic with fine, structuring tannins and a surprising complexity involving discreet layers of minerals and oak and a faint green streak, more herbal than vegetal and most noticeable on the long, clean finish. Integrated, harmonious and ready to go. For drinking here and now, the winner of the quartet. (Buy again? Def.)

None of the wines was carafed beforehand and all showed better after 40 minutes in the glass. As usual, the tasting was double-blind to everyone except me and the “importer” (blind to us). Those in the dark quickly pegged the wines as Pinot Noir but were perplexed as to their origin, finally settling on “some fictional region between Loire and Jura and like, Jamaica.” Oddly, while there was some initial speculation about Oregon, no one suggested Prince Edward County and most were dumbfounded when the bottles were unveiled. All in all, a well-received flight and coming as quite the relief three weeks after the PEC Cab Franc and Zweigelt debacle.

MWG September 8, 2016, tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

November 3, 2016 at 12:32

Yes and no

with 3 comments

Napa Valley 2014, Propriatary Red, Apriori ($27.65, 12413128)
Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Malbec (23%), Petite Sirah (10%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel tanks for 30 days. Matured in neutral French oak barrels for 11 months. Bottled in July 2015. Reducing sugar: 2.8 g/l. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinifera Séguin et Robillard.
Outgoing nose of sweet, slightly jammy fruit (mainly cassis), sweet spice and menthol. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied, round and soft. The forward ripe fruit and considerable extract are no surprise but it’s not a bomb, due in no small measure to the bright acidity. Fine though gritty tannins texture the mid-palate while notes of cocoa and matcha tea colour the sustained finish. Some vaprous overtoning aside, the alcohol is discreet. For the style, this is unexpectedly balanced and fresh but, then again, other than a grilled hunk of red meat, what could you pair it with? (Buy again? Fans of not-over-the-top California reds should make a beeline. I’ll wave at you from the Old World section.)

USA 2013, Horseshoes & Handgrenades, Mouton Noir Wines (US$18.00 in New Hampshire)
A blend of Syrah (69%), Merlot (19%), Cabernet Sauvignon (9%) and Tempranillo (9%) from various vineyards in southern Oregon and Washington state. Manually harvested. The destemmed grapes were given a short cold soak and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Matured in neutral oak for 10 months. 13.7% ABV.
The nose of chocolate-cherry cookie with hints of meat and plum vinegar set alarm bells ringing. Full-bodied and unnuanced and devolving from the get-go. The fruit – mostly plum and cherry but also showing a vegetal streak – is dominated by chocolate and vanilla. The minerals aim for graphite but end up ash. Low acidity and higher than necessary sugar keep things leaden. The finish is long, much too long. What a fatiguing wine! (Buy again? Life is too short.)

MWG September 8, 2016, tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

November 1, 2016 at 15:29

Two Channing Daughters

leave a comment »

North Fork of Long Island 2014, Rosso Fresco, Channing Daughters (US$20.00 at the winery)
Always a blend, though the grapes and percentages change from vintage to vintage. The 2014 is 39% Merlot, 21% Dornfelder, 16% Syrah 3% Lagrein, 3% Teroldego and 1% Blaufränkisch. The grapes are hand-picked, destemmed and crushed by foot. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and regular punch-downs. Matured eight months is old oak barrels. Filtered but not fined.
Red berries, graphite and a hint of barnyard. Medium-bodied. Structured more by bright acidity than the supple tannins, the juicy fruit slow fades to old wood and minerals. Overtones of sweet spice and “salted plum” linger into the finish, which seems anchored by a not unpleasant bitterness. Simple but not facile, and really quite drinkable. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the US$14 it goes for in some New York City wine shops.)

The Hamptons 2013, Blaufränkisch, Sylvanus Vineyard, Channing Daughters (US$26.00 at the winery)
A 75-25 blend of Blaufränkisch and Dornfelder from vines planted in 1999. The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and crushed by foot. Fermented with regular punch-downs. Matured 12 months in old hogsheads, puncheons and barriques made from French and Slovenian oak. Gravity-bottled without fining or filtration. 12% ABV.
“Smells like a permanent” says one taster. “Aubergine” and “rotting leaves” add others. I also get blackberry tea, sawed wood, graphite and eventually spice. In the mouth, it’s richer, rounder and more dimensional than the Rosso Fresco. Bone dry, with sleek acidity and medium if chewy tannins. The fruit has noticeable dark cherry and mineral components, especially iron, like you sometimes get in red meat. A radicchio-like bitter streak appears on the finish. Savoury, even earthy and a bit unsmiling, this would probably be better with food. At C$33.75, the QPR seems a little off compared with its Austrian counterparts. (Buy again? Another bottle to try at the dining table.)

MWG September 8, 2016, tasting: flight 3 of 6

Written by carswell

October 25, 2016 at 11:42

World class

with 2 comments

Golden Russet Cider 2014, Cuvée Yquelon, The Old Third ($21.00 at the winery)
Made from Golden Russet apples from an orchard near the winery. The fruit is hand picked and sorted. This being a traditional method sparkler, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Manually riddled and disgorged. Closed with a cork. 9.5% ABV.
Yeasty nose with some lime and chalk though, surprisingly, only a hint of apple. The effervescence is subdued to the eye, soft and fine in the mouth. Dry and winey, with wafting flavours of underripe pear and “guava” (quoting another taster), ground ginger notes, bright but smooth acidity and a faint tannic bitterness on the sustained finish. Tasting double-blind, several at the table thought this was a wine, not a cider, and it’s easy to see why. (Buy again? Definitely.)

MWG September 8, 2016, tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

October 19, 2016 at 13:51

Sweet Greek

leave a comment »

Attiki 2013, Melias, Domaine Papagiannakos
The third vintage of this wine. 100% Malagousia from dry-farmed vines rooted in limestone soil. The north-facing vineyard is located at an elevation of 100 metres in southeast Attica, not far from the Athens International Airport. An amount of must equivalent to 40% of the final wine is boiled down to concentrate it and the sugar it contains. Successive doses of fermenting unboiled must are then added. 13% ABV. Residual sugar is quoted as pushing 120 g/l. The elegant, svelte bottle holds 500 ml.
Golden to the eye. Beguiling nose redolent of green grape, peach/apricot and a touch of light honey. Sweet but not saccharine or cloying. The pineappley fruit tastes pure, fresh, uncooked. Bright acidity balances the sugar and lightens the unctuous texture. Long. A charmer with real presence. (Buy again? If only!)

I’m cheating a little here. It had been a long day and, as the wine tasted identical to the one tasted at the winery in early July, I decided just to sit back and enjoy it and not write a tasting note. Instead, I’m using the note I wrote in Greece, which will soon reappear on this blog as part of a series of reports on the trip. Our bottle was a gift from Vassilis Papagiannakos, and I wasn’t the only person around the table grateful to him for it.

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 8 of 8

Written by carswell

September 23, 2016 at 15:01

Kung Fu Guy and company

with 3 comments

Prince Edward County 2011, Zweigelt, Pasha’s Elixir, Norman Hardie ($23.00 at the winery)
Not a lot of technical info to be found for this wine. May be a special bottling for Fat Pasha restaurant in Toronto. May also be the last vintage. Possibly 100% Zweigelt. Manually harvested. Vinified with minimal intervention, extended maceration and indigenous yeasts. 10.9% ABV.
Clean nose: inky, spicy blackberry, distant mint and wood. Light- to medium-bodied. Dark fruited, with decent acidity, supple tannins and a mineral vein. The cedary overtones were surprising, the vinegary edge off-putting, though the wine did improve somewhat in the glass. I’d been looking forward to tasting this because, earlier this spring, a half bottle of Zweigelt – in all likelihood the County bottling – given by the winery to a friend for his helping with last fall’s harvest was effin’ delicious. But no one around the table was impressed by this and several were downright dismissive, one dubbing it “Kung Fu Guy: the Kung Fu Girl of red wines.” (Buy again? No.)

Niagara Peninsula 2014, Cabernet Franc, Unfiltered, Norman Hardie ($30.00 at the winery)
100% Cabernet Franc. Manually harvested. Given extended maceration on the skins with daily or more frequent pump-overs. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and regular punch-downs. 12.2% ABV.
Volatile acidity on the nose, along with whiffs of green herbs, dehydrated beef and, quoting other tasters, “roasted red peppers,” “beet like borscht” and “cheap makeup.” Medium-bodied, velvety textured. Decent fruit-acid balance but where are the tannins? Fair length. Meh. (Buy again? Only to check whether ours was an off bottle.)

Prince Edward County 2010, Cabernet Franc, Northfield, Grange of Prince Edward ($35.00 at the winery)
100% Cabernet Franc from 10-year-old estate vines. Manually picked and sorted. Primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks lasted 28 days. Matured 24 months in neutral French oak barrels. Residual sugar: 4 g/l. 13.5% ABV.
Odd nose that eventually settled into plum and beef sukiyaki. Medium-bodied with a lush texture. The core of sweet dark fruit is wrapped in wood and minerals, structured by sustained acidity and light but firm tannins. The fairly long finish brings faint spice and vegetal notes. Not only the best of the trio, it also improved considerably in the glass. (Buy again? Maybe.)

I’ve long felt that Cabernet Franc is the red grape Ontario does best but this flight has me reassessing that position. All three reds, especially the Hardie Cab Franc, were a big disappointment – foul-smelling, disjointed, simple – though the Grange did come around as it breathed. Still, as someone noted, why pay $30 or $35 for OK or worse when the Loire delivers juicy/minerallly deliciousness for $10 or $15 less or tremendous depth, complexity and refinement for about the same price.

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 6 of 8

Written by carswell

September 20, 2016 at 12:06

MWG September 11th tasting: A classic Vranec?

leave a comment »

We took a short break from Glou wines to spend some time with a bottle a member had purchased in New York City.

Tikveš 2011, Vranec, Classic, Stobi (US$13, importation valise)
The winery is located in the centre of the country, near the Strobi archeological site, from whence it takes its name. Local and international varieties are used to make four lines of wine: premium, classic, elite and traditional. This 100% Vranac (Vranec in Macedonian) comes from estate-grown grapes. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, matured in very large oak barrels and reportedly vegan-friendly, which may mean it wasn’t fined. The winery boasts of using less sulphur than many competitors. 14.5% ABV.
“Smells like selected yeasts,” were the first words out of sommelier Jack Jacob’s mouth. Other aromas included cedar, cherry and, oddly enough, blackberry yogurt. In the mouth, the wine was full-bodied, dense and coarse. Recalling dark berries and plum, the fruit was rough-framed by rustic tannins and buoyed by soft acidity. Spice notes turned cedary on the heady finish. One-dimensional, this “odd man out,” as one taster put it, was not done any favours by being tasted in the company of such beautiful natural wines that, it should be noted, run two, three or even four times its price. In another context, say alongside a weeknight meat pie, kebabs, stew or casserole (musaka, for example), it might well prove more satisfying. (Buy again? Maybe.)

A year or two ago, the 2010 was sold at the LCBO for $11.95.

(Flight: 7/9)

Written by carswell

October 5, 2014 at 12:19