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Posts Tagged ‘Inexpensive

Atlantic Brancos

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Vinho Regional Lisboa 2015, Fossil, Vale da Capucha ($21.30, 13286992)
The estate is located about 50 km north of Lisbon and about 8 km east of the Atlantic coast in an area with a relatively cool and wet climate. Fernão Pires (aka Maria Gomez, 45%), Arinto (45%) and Gouveio (10%) from organically farmed vines rooted in marine fossil-rich clay and limestone. (A red Fossil is also made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Syrah.) Manually harvested. The whole clusters are quickly chilled to 4°C and direct pressed. Fermented in temperature-controlled (15-18°C) stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight months in stainless steel tanks, including a portion on the fine lees. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.
Reduced, sulphurous nose on opening that evolves into an odd mix of “kimchi,” chalk, white spice and “brown banana.” Medium-bodied, waxy textured and very dry. The stone fruit and citrus come with quite a load of minerals and an “asafoetida” note. While there’s enough acidity to keep things fresh and lively, it’s hard to shake the impression that the wine’s a bit simple and short on follow-through – at least for now: maybe this naturalish, just-off-the-boat bottle is suffering from travel shock? (Buy again? A bottle to lay down for a few months.)

Beira Atlântico 2015, Vinhas Velhas, Luis Pato ($19.50, 13212598)
Bical (34%) grown in chalky-clay soil and Cercial (aka Cerceal Branco, 33%) and Sercialinho (a rare cross of Sercial or maybe Vital with Alvahrinho, 33%) grown in sandy soil. (Pato also makes a red Vinhas Velhas from Baga.) Fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Pot de Vin.
Attractive nose of “spruce,” “rosemary,” “green apple” and “pineapple water,” becoming fruity and “floral” as it breathes and warms. Clean in the mouth. Built around a core of sweet-tart fruit with a savoury undercurrent. The acidity is smooth but there’s not a lot of it. Fair length. For now an easy drinker, though it might gain structure and depth with a year or two in the bottle. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 2 of 6

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Written by carswell

December 13, 2017 at 13:17

Paarl jam

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Paarl 2015, Pinotage, Fairview ($17.55, 10678481)
100% Pinotage from older dryland bush vines and trellised vineyards on the Fairview farm in Paarl. The soils are mainly decomposed granite. Destemmed and lightly crushed. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and open top foudres. After malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine was transferred to new French and American oak barrels for 10 months’ maturation, then blended and bottled. Reducing sugar: 3.5 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Plum, cherry, stale chocolate and scorched earth on the nose. Medium- to full-bodied. Integrated acidity keeps the forward, ripe fruit in check. Rustic tannins provide a welcome rasp, the earthy/leathery substrate a modicum of depth. Vanilla and chocolate are thankfully relegated to the background. The fair finish leaves a tarry aftertaste. Devoid of nuance and finesse so not very interesting on its own though downable with food, in this instance Lebanese takeout. Not opened for its original purpose – to accompany Latucca‘s most excellent barbecue – which I suspect it would have done passably well if not so well as, say, Leeuwenkuil’s Cinsault or Badenhorst’s Secateurs Red Blend. (Buy again? Only in the absence of more appealing alternatives.)

Written by carswell

December 8, 2017 at 11:43

Unmissable Muscadet

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Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2015, Clos de la Butte, Éric Chevalier ($19.65, 12886831)
After spending a decade sourcing grapes for a négociant in the Tourraine, Éric Chevallier returned to his family estate, Domaine de l’Aujardière, in 2005. His father, a highly regarded grape grower, was set to retire. Éric took the helm somewhat reluctantly but soon found himself challenged and rewarded by the task. He began converting his 28 hectares of vineyards to organic in 2016. This bottling is 100% Melon de Bourgogne from 50-year-old vines planted in serpentinite, eclogite and quartz in the La Butte lieu-dit. The grapes are pneumatically pressed and the must transferred to glass-lined tanks. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight to 10 months on the lees with regular stirring. Unracked and unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Subtle, nuanced, complex nose: quartzy granite, sea beach sand, pear, faint lemon, straw and a hint of marzipan. Clean and unassertive on the attack. Super dry. Not a lot of fruit though plenty of extract and tons of minerals, all carried on a stream of fluent acidity. The flavours turn rainwatery on the mid-palate and swell on the finish: pear, wax and tangy salted butter, with a faint bitterness adding intrigue. More than just an outstanding here-now Muscadet, this is one of the best under-$20 whites currently available at the SAQ. Excellent as an aperitif but also with mollusks and white fish. I look forward to trying Chevalier’s Fié Gris and La Noë bottlings, both private imports.  (Buy again? A case.)

Written by carswell

December 7, 2017 at 13:25

Irrepressible

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Moonlighting from his daytime gig at Rézin, the irrepressible Steve Beauséjour returned to the Mo’ Wine Group in August to lead another of his sui generis wine and food tastings. It goes without saying that the assembled masses enjoyed themselves. Our tastings start at 7 p.m. and normally end between 9:30 and 10; this one finished after midnight.

While the wines weren’t really served in flights, I’ve organized them that way for reporting purposes.

Québec 2016, Seyval-Chardo, Nature SSA, Les Pervenches (ca. $19)
A private bottling of the estate’s regular Seyval-Chardonnay blend. The wine went directly from the barrel into the bottle, with no filtering, fining or added sulphur. While I don’t have the exact proportions of the grape varieties, they’re normally 80% Seyval Blanc and 20% Chardonnay from biodynamically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured in neutral French oak barrels. 11.7% ABV. While this bottling was never retailed, the estate’s other wines are (though they usually sell out a few weeks after their release) at the winery, at a few area food stores specializing in local products (e.g. Dans la côte, Fromagerie Hamel) and through the Quebec agent, La QV.

Clean nose of lemon, chalk and mowed fields. Fresh and pristine in the mouth. Medium-bodied. The pure fruit lends some sweetness that’s immediately checked by the incisive – not harsh – acidity and dancing minerality. Gains breadth and depth as it breathes. Finishes clean, fresh and long. A bracing, super-drinkable and, yes, irrepressible wine with “lots of energy” (quoting another taster). I’d buy a case if I could. (Buy again? Please!)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 1 of 9

Written by carswell

October 6, 2017 at 13:15

Bargain Branco

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Dão 2016, Indigena, Adega de Penalva ($11.25, 12728904)
A blend of Encruzado (40%), Cerceal Branco (30%) and Malvasia Fina (30%) from vines rooted in sandy soil over schist and granite. Farming is sustainable converting to organic. Manually harvested. The more aromatic varieties are macerated overnight. After pressing, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled early in the year following the vintage. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Wafting, aromatic nose of pear compote, white spice, white flowers, chalk and a little sap. In the mouth, it’s unctuous but not heavy, redolent of white orchard fruit, white grape juice and eventually citrus. At first you wonder whether the wine isn’t too soft but as it breathes and your palate adjusts, the unaggressive acidity and thin vein of quartzy minerals form a definite if pliant backbone. A thin thread of bitterness runs throughout and is joined by a faint honey note on the dry finish. Gains presence as it warms from fridge temperature, so don’t serve it too cold. The price is unbelievably low for a wine of this quality and character. Some might enjoy this as an aperitif, though I tend to like a sharper white in that role. Seems like a natural for simply prepared cod or soft Portuguese cheeses. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

September 23, 2017 at 12:14

A double dose of Tempranillo Blanco

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Grape vines are prone to mutating and winemakers prone to taking advantage of the results. One not uncommon example is red grape vines that mutate into white grape vines. Henri Gouges has a famous row of white Pinot Noir vines, propagated from an offshoot discovered in the 1940s, whose white berries are vinified to make a blanc de blancs (as opposed to a blanc de noirs, a white wine made from red grapes by minimizing the juice’s contact with the pigments in the skins). Tempranillo Blanco, a white mutation of Spain’s iconic red grape, was discovered in 1998 in Rioja Baja. (A grey-berried mutation called Tempranillo Royo or Tempranillo Gris has also been found in Toro.) After several years’ work to stabilize the variety, Tempranillo Blanco was authorized for use in white Rioja in 2004. Under the appellation rules, the grape can be used on its own or in blends, with Viura (aka Macabeo) generally considered the best blending partner. Two monovarietal Tempranillos recently showed up at the SAQ and we gave them a try.

Rioja 2016, Alto Cantabria, Inspiración, Valdemar ($19.90, 12591821)
100% Tempranillo Blanco sourced from the Alto Cantabria estate. The estate claims this was the first wine made from the grape; Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes says that honour goes to Ijalba. Fermented and matured on the lees in temperature-controlled (16°C) stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Oneo.
Odd but not unappealing nose of “cotton candy,” “peanuts,” “salty bread,” “Bazooka gum” and apple. Medium- to full-bodied. Dry but ripe-fruity (pear and pineapple), even juicy, with a salty mineral undercurrent and just enough acidity. Tasters note “tea tree” and “cucumber” on the sustained finish. Clean, savoury and involving, delivering a mouthful of flavour for under 20 bucks. Several around the table said they intended to buy this. (Buy again? Sure.)

Rioja 2016, Tempranillo Blanco, Edición Limitada, Rioja Vega ($22.50, 12489157)
100% Tempranillo Blanco. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine spent six months on the fine lees in French oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importation Épicurienne.
Minerals, apple, ash and preserved lemon mark the nose. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied, rich and round. The fruit tends to white pear and apple with tropical and citrus overtones. The oak adds spice but also calls attention to itself, especially on the long finish. Not exactly refreshing and probably best thought of as a food wine, though fans of big, New Worldish wines might feel differently. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

September 17, 2017 at 12:58

Cidereal

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Located in Franklin, Quebec, and founded in 2010, Entre Pierre et Terre is run by the husband and wife team of Loïc Chanut and Michelle Boyer. An oenologist by training, Chanut began working at La Face cachée de la pomme and for a while was a partner in Domaine des Salamandres. Production is limited to a range of still and sparkling apple and pear ciders, still fruit wine and apple-based vermouth. Cortland, Golden Russet and Macintosh are the estate’s backbone apple varieties though trials are being conducted with others, including some old northern French varieties. All the sparklers are made using the traditional method.

Poiré mousseux, Entre Pierre et Terre ($19.95, 12120579)
A pear cider made from mid-season fruit. The juice takes several weeks to ferment. Matured and sparkled in the bottle for a minimum of nine months. Sulphur use is limited to a small shot at disgorging. Reducing sugar: 27 g/l. 7% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Applesauce, pear compote and hay stubble. Fine effervescence. The flavour is clearly though not intensely pear, with a bit of white pepper adding intrigue. Clean and verging on off-dry but drying on the finish. While it’s a tad sweeter than I remember earlier bottles being, it’s still a pleasant sipper. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cidre mousseux, Entre Pierre et Terre ($18.90, 11957043)
The apples for this cider are harvested over two months, then pressed together. The juice is concentrated by exposure to the cold of winter. Primary and secondary fermentation (the latter in bottles on lattes) last a minimum of 10 months. Reducing sugar: 18 g/l. 7.6% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
A nose more subtle than the poiré’s: green pear and apple. Dryish and elegant in the mouth, the effervescence understated. A mineral streak joins the savoury fruit joined while smooth acidity keeps things lively. Clean finishes. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cidre à la canneberge, Entre Pierre et Terre ($16.25, 12030291)
Cranberries are macerated in the cider before bottling. The bottles spend at least nine months on lattes before disgorging. 8% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Fresh and baked apple, wild red berries and a hint of cheese. Clean and not especially fruity. Dry with bright, even trenchant acidity. A faint saline undertow lasts well into the long finish. Somewhat to my surprise, the most complex and nuanced of the trio. Would make an excellent Thanksgiving aperitif and could probably continue right on through the meal. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

September 11, 2017 at 14:26