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Posts Tagged ‘Inexpensive

Catalonian orphan

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Empordà 2015, Sauló, Espelt Viticultors ($15.15, 10856241)
A 50-50 blend of Liedoner Negre (aka Grenache) and Carinyena (aka Carignan) from organically farmed vines rooted in weathered granite soil in the southern foothills of the Albera Massif, just south of the French border and just inland from the Mediterranean. The grapes from each parcel are vinified separately and given 36 hours’ cold maceration before fermentation in stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.6 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin, one of whose reps attended the tasting and comped this bottle (merci, Simon!).
Raspberry (a bit candied), peppery spice and a hint of plum. Full-bodied and fruit-driven. The fruit is very ripe and sweet seeming (one taster notes “raspberry jam on the finish”) but the wine is fundamentally dry. A healthy shot of acidity and raspy tannins provide just enough structure, a dark undercurrent adds a little intrigue. Slate and earth linger on the drying finish. A crowd-pleaser whose candour and sunny disposition go a long way toward making up for any lack of nuance or depth. Fans of fruit-forward wines in the mood for something different should put this QPR winner on their shopping list. The label is a delight. (Buy again? Sure, especially to take to a party or barbecue where a highfalutin wine wouldn’t be appropriate.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

February 1, 2017 at 11:40

Loire cousins

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Chinon 2014, Expression, Alain Lorieux ($19.85, 00873257)
100% Cabernet Franc from vines rooted in flinty clay. The grapes are destemmed. Macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks for around five weeks with daily pumpovers. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Blackberry, raspberry, hints of ash, leather and greenery. A supple, medium-bodied, oh-so-dry mouthful of sweet-tart fruit, bright acidity and light tannins set against a darker, minerally backdrop. “More leafy” than the Saint Nicolas. Good clean finish that has you aching for another sip. Quaffable in the extreme. (Buy again? Yes.)

Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2014, Les Mauguerets – La Contrie, Pascal et Alain Lorieux ($22.45, 00872580)
100% Cabernet Franc from vines rooted in gravelly soil in Les Mauguerets and La Contrie, two adjacent lieux-dits. The gravel retains heat and facilitates ripening. The grapes are destemmed. Macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks for four to six weeks with daily pump-overs. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Faintly funky nose of dark berries, spice and tobacco leaf. Compared with the Chinon, “more earthy” and complex as well as a notch richer, more structured and more dimensional. The fruit is a little sweeter and juicier too and the mineral component is if anything stronger. With its scents of black tea leaves, the long finish only adds to the impression of sauvity. This textbook example of Loire Cab Franc doesn’t shout but has real presence. (Buy again? For sure.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

January 31, 2017 at 13:16

Greek trio

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Crete 2015, Vilana, Lyrarakis ($14.05, 11607553)
100% Vilana from vineyards in Alagni, central Crete, south-southeast of Heraklion. Manually harvested. Half the grapes were whole-cluster pressed; the other half were destemmed and cold-macerated on the skins for several hours. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled (17-19°C) stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Focus Cellars.
Chalk, quartz, matches and a hint of dried herbs. Clean, light and smooth in the mouth, with citrusy, Sauvignon Blanc-like fruit, good acidity and a decently long, clean, minerally finish. Certainly drinkable but also somewhat simple and a bit anonymous. Would like to taste the more upscale bottling. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Patras 2015, Roditis, Tetramythos Winery ($15.80, 12484575)
100% Roditis from organically farmed vines in limestone-soil vineyards located about 10 km south and 800 metres above the Gulf of Corinth. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and pneumatically pressed. The must is gravity-fed into small, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Expressive nose of candied white berries, quartz dust and a hint of jalapeño. The fruity extract and lemon overtones notwithstanding, minerally – even rainwatery – on the palate, an impression only heightened by the brisk acidity. Ripe-sweet upfront, dry on the long, saline finish. Direct and to the point. Experience shows this really comes into its own with a selection of meze or a grilled porgy. (Buy again? Yes.)

Markopoulo 2015, Savatiano, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Papagiannakos ($16.55, 11097451)
100% Savatiano from unirrigated 50-year-old vines in rocky, limestone soil a few kilometres east of Athens airport. Manually harvested. Fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (16-18°C) stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for three months. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The nose’s combination of floral notes, sandy beach, lemon curd and white peach is unique. Lemon with hints of tropical fruit, a mineral substrate and bright but unaggressive acidity mark the palate. A bitter thread weaves through the long finish. Probably the most versatile of the trio. As the 2008 Estate bottling tasted last summer showed, Savatiano is capable of improving with age. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to cellar for five or six years.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

January 27, 2017 at 14:49

Top sub-$15 red at the SAQ?

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Dâo 2014, Duque de Viseu, Quinta dos Carvalhais/Sogrape ($14.05, 00546309)
Touriga Nacional (55%), Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo, 32%), Alfrocheiro (7%) and Jaen (aka Mencia, 6%). The grapes were destemmed, gently crushed and gravity-fed into temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. Alcoholic fermentation, with regular pump-overs, lasted about six days. After pressing, the wine was transferred to stainless steel vats for malolactic fermentation. Half the finished wine was matured in used French oak barrels, the other half in stainless steel tanks, both for 12 months. Micro-oxygenation is practised. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Charton Hobbs.
Intriguing nose: plum, dark berries, fallen leaves, a kischy high note, a hint of rubber and a faint vegetal streak, all of which are echoed on the palate. In the piehole, it’s medium-bodied, full of ripe but not heavy fruit with a slatey substrate, lively acidity and smooth tannins that show some astringent mettle on a credibly long, spice-scented finish. Very drinkable and food friendly (even with white meats, even with non-Portuguese fare), neither industrial nor soulless. This fluent wine is certainly one of the top sub-$15 reds at the SAQ. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

January 23, 2017 at 12:03

New-wave Rioja?

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Rioja 2015, Tempranillo, Bodegas Moraza ($18.35, 12473825)
100% Tempranillo from organically farmed vines in three parcels with chalky-claey soil around the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Rioja Alta. In a quest for freshness and lower-than-usual alcohol levels, the grapes are picked (by hand) earlier than at most other estates in the region. Undergoes partial carbonic maceration. Fermented in concrete tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.
Spiced plum and black raspberry, turned earth, old wood, some leather in the background. On the fuller side of medium-bodied. The spicy ripe fruit seems sweet on entry, an impression that quickly fades, leaving a bone-dry mid-palate. Prominent mineral and faint lactic notes add interest, sleek acidity keeps things fresh. The tannins are stealthy, most apparent on the long finish, which is marked by a light but pervasive astringency, a note pitched between dried tree leaves and dried herbs and a lingering black pepper bite. While there’s not a lot of depth (maybe it’s a young-vine cuvée?), this is a high-quality, complex and savoury sub-$20 wine, albeit one that virtually demands food. Smooths and coheres after an hour’s breathing, so carafing isn’t a bad idea. (Buy again? Yes.)

I’d seen this recent arrival on the monopoly’s shelves but my interest wasn’t really piqued until I read Karyne Duplessis Piché’s profile of the estate in Friday’s La Presse and the companion piece about the attempts of a handful of iconoclast producers to open the Rioja appellation to a more terroir-driven approach.

Written by carswell

January 22, 2017 at 12:41

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

Vini per salumi

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Grignolino d’Asti 2014, Grignè, Montalbera ($19.35, 13014372)
100% Grignolino from five- to 25-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel tanks for 15 days, with the seeds removed after four to six days. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Racked into stainless steel tanks for four months’ maturation. Lightly filtered. Reducing sugar: 7.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Cedar, “old lady’s rose perfume” (in the words of another taster), tea leaves, sour cherry. Becomes perfumier as it breathes and eventually takes on a honey note. Light- to medium-bodied. The bright acidity and higher-than-usual residual sugar confer a sweet-and-sour edge, “like rose kombucha.” Tannins are slim and only a little raspy. Dark minerals and a sappy green streak tether the floral component. A faint bitterness lingers through the finish. Quite different (more Ruchè- or Larcrima di Morro-like) from other Grignolinos I’ve tried – this one, for example. (Buy again? Probably not, though I’ll gladly check out the 2015 if it’s drier.)

Dogliani 2014, San Luigi, Chionetti ($21.80, 12466001)
See here for background on the producer. 100% Dolcetto from vines averaging around 25 years old and grown in the San Luigi vineyard. Manually harvested. The soft-pressed grapes were macerated and fermented in temperature-controlled (max 29–30°C) tanks with indigenous yeasts and daily pump-overs for seven days. The wine was racked into new tanks for malolactic fermentation and 11 months’ maturation. Saw only stainless steel until bottling. Cold stabilized but unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Mulberry, morello cherry, animale and sandalwood. A silky middleweight. Fruity but dry and nicely tart. Slightly rustic tannins give it a light, pervasive astringency, the rumbling of minerals a modicum of depth. Finishes faster than I’d like though a bitter almond note lingers. Pure, tasty and easy to down. (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

November 18, 2016 at 09:24