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Posts Tagged ‘Jura

Antipodal Savagnins

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Côtes du Jura 2015, Savagnin, Les Sarres, Domaine Rijckaert ($29.95, 12951356)
The estate avoids herbicides and insecticides and limits its use of synthetic chemicals to treatments against mildew and odium. All the estate’s wines are made in barrels. 100% Savagnin from the Les Sarres vineyard located in Buvilly. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Underwent full malolactic fermentation. Matured two years on the lees in neutral French oak barrels with no stirring. Kept topped up, so not oxidized. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Slightly hazy pale electrum to the eye. Minerally nose of lemon and grapefruit with hints of potpourri and almond. In the mouth, it’s clean and tonic. The fruit (lemon, yellow plum) is sweet-seeming on the attack, though the wine is actually very dry. There’s a real mineral depth, including a shot of salinity. The bright acidity combines with a faint bitterness on the long finish to provide a bit of grip. Less electric than some Savagnins but still a fine example of what the grape can do. (Buy again? Sure.)

Adelaide Hills 2016, Skin n’ Bones White, BK Wines ($35.00, importation valise)
The South Australian estate was founded in 2007 by Brendon and Kristy Keys. This monovarietal is made using Savagnin from organically farmed 10-year-old vines rooted in limestone and sandstone over deep clay in Lobethal in the cool-climate Lenswood subregion. The grapes were manually harvested and fully destemmed but not crushed. Spent one month on the skins with twice-daily pump-overs, then was pressed and racked into neutral French oak barrels with regular stirring for nine months. Alcoholic and full malolactic fermentation were spontaneous. Total production: 200 cases. 11.8% ABV. Represented in western Canada by Calgary-based Crush Imports.
One-of-a-kind nose of “smoked fish,” “sushi” and “barbecued corn” (quoting other tasters) as well as dried apricot and, with time, green fruit (kiwi, melon) and herbal notes. Dry, fluid and layered. Nicely structured with pervasive but smooth acidity, a current of white minerals and ghostly tannins that last well into the long finish. Grape skins and apricot pit linger. As unusual and engaging as it is savoury and delicious. (Buy again? Gladly.)

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 3 of 7

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Written by carswell

November 10, 2017 at 13:31

The Pélican brief

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The germ of the idea for Domaine du Pélican, the Jura offshoot of Burgundy’s renowned Domaine Marquis d’Angerville, was a bottle of Stéphane Tissot’s 2005 Arbois Chardonnay “Les Bruyères” that Guillaume d’Angerville tasted blind at a Paris restaurant in 2007. D’Angerville had asked the sommelier to bring him a bottle of something not from Burgundy. On tasting the wine, he declared the sommelier had not followed his instructions and was dumbstruck when the bottle was unveiled.

So impressed by the wine was he that d’Angerville began searching for vineyards in the Jura. In 2012, he leased the Chateau de Chavanes in Montigny-les-Arsures, gaining access to five hectares of biodynamically farmed vines. The estate’s holdings were later expanded by two acquisitions of organically farmed vines: five hectares from Jean-Marc Brignot and, in 2014, four hectares from the retiring Jacques Puffeney.

The estate, whose name and label are inspired by the Arbois coat of arms, currently makes and sells four wines, all vinified à la bourguignonne, in the Burgundian style, by which d’Angerville means non-oxidized. The estate’s first oxidized wine, a vin jaune, is slated for release in 2022.

Arbois 2015, Savagnin Ouillé, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265041)
100% organically farmed Savagnin primarily from two parcels (Barbi and Grand Curoulet) of Jurassic marl and terre de gryphées. Manually harvested. Lightly crushed then whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in stainless steel and matured 10 months, mostly in neutral 350-litre barrels. which are regularly topped-up (ouillé) to prevent oxidation. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Striking nose of lemon, green apple, quartz and, per other tasters, “terroir smoke” and “deviled eggs.” Fresh and vibrant in the mouth, with an elegant texture, impressively pure fruit, brilliant acidity, great minerality and every dimension. Long, racy and complete. Exactly the kind of commanding unullaged Savagnin that floats my boat. (Yes but…)

Arbois 2015, Chardonnay, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265032)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the Barbi vineyard and three other parcels. Mainly limestone with clay and marl. Wine-making is as for the Savagnin. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Subtle nose: faint orchard and stone fruit, hints of oat and “flowers changing to chalk.” In the mouth, it’s more buttery and smoother, less marked by acidity than its flightmates. There’s real complexity, including a vein of minerality that lasts into the long finish. So elegant and still evolving. Excellent but needs five to 10 years. (Sure but…)

Arbois 2015, Poulsard, Domaine du Pélican ($52.25, 13314113)
The first vintage of the wine. 100% Poulsard entirely from the Puffeney vineyards. The wine-making was guided by Puffeney. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermeneted in vats. Matured 10 months in 228-litre oak barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Complex nose of “cranberry,” “earth,” spice, prosciutto fat, undergrowth and slate. Light- to medium-bodied. The ripe if ethereal fruit is structured by gossamer tannins and racy acidity. The layers – veils is perhaps the better term – of flavour give a certain depth. Long, minerally, old-woody finish. Fresh, fleet and wonderfully pure. Poulsard is sometimes done in a rustic style but not here. So engaging. “Effing good.” (Buy again? Yes but…)

Arbois 2015, Trois Cépages, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265083)
A PPT, i.e. a blend of Pinot Noir (65%), Poulsard (30%) and Trousseau (5%). Wine-making is as for the Poulsard, though without Puffeney’s input. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Outgoing nose of “strawberries,” “tart cherries,” “a bit of meat“ and “nutmeg.” Medium-bodied and more structured than the Poulsard. Again, the fruit is remarkably pure but here framed by light, torquey tannins and sleek acidity. Good length and balance. Young but already showing some complexity. Impeccable. (Buy again? Sure but…)

This was my first encounter with Domaine du Pélican’s wines. Going in, I’d wondered whether they would taste more Burgundian than Juraassien. They didn’t. While you’ll have to look elsewhere for the rusticity and funk found and prized in some Jura wines, there’s no denying that these could come from nowhere but the Jura and that the Savagnin and Poulsard are textbook examples of the grapes and style.

Why the buy-again buts then? The price. Nearly everyone around the table said they’d plunk for one or more of the wines if they were in the $30 to $40 range but not at $50. My memories of the Savagnin and Poulsard are so vivid and compelling that I’ve come close to splurging on a bottle of each. And then I remember that the 2013 Puffeney Poulsard cost $31.50 a bottle (and that was through the higher-markup private import channel), making it hard not to conclude that Domaine du Pélican is charging Burgundy prices for Jura wines, that you are, to some degree, paying through the nose for a name. Maybe that’s why, however outstanding they may be, all the wines in this limited release remain available more than two months after the release date.

MWG July 27th tasting: flights 4 and 5 of 7

Written by carswell

September 25, 2017 at 11:21

Jaune and jauneish

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Vin de France 2011, 3.11, Bertin-Delatte ($38.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in 2008, the three-hectare estate is based in Rablay-sur-Layon. This 100% Chenin Blanc is from organically farmed young vines. The grapes, which normally would have been used for the flagship L’Échalier bottling, are harvested by hand and gently pressed. Barrel-fermented and -matured. The barrels were not topped up and a veil of yeast formed on the surface, much like on a vin jaune. This one-off experiment spent five years in the barrel. Unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur is minimal. Three barrels (800 bottles) were made; that and the last two digits of the vintage explain the name. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Typically oxidized nose of nutty yellow fruit but maybe not as complex or opulent as a good vin jaune’s. Lovely on the palate: sleek textured, lightly oxidized, clean fruited and minerally with great acidity, freshness and length. “Très chenin” and “great Chenin character” note other tasters. More than just a curiosity. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Jura 2009, Vin Jaune, Domaine Pignier ($102.10/620 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the 13th century and in the hands of the Pignier family since 1794, the estate is located in the commune of Montaigu in the southern Jura. 100% Savagnin from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in clayey calcareous marl with Lias slate. Manually harvested. Fermented and matured in untopped-up oak barrels under a yeast veil for seven years. No added yeast. No chaptalization or racking. Bottled according to the lunar calendar. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
On the nose, it’s a beautiful, subtle mix of nuts, yellow fruit, straw and white minerals. In the mouth, it’s a perfect balance between the pure fruit, fine acidity and imposing minerality. Not as oxidized as some but elegant, “accessible” and “super fresh.” (Buy again? If feeling flush, yes.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 9 of 9

Written by carswell

September 3, 2017 at 14:05

Hit and miss

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Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine Désiré Petit ($24.00, 12399717)
100% Pinot Noir from vines averaging 20 years old and rooted in calcareous topsoil over red marl. Sparkled using the traditional method. Reducing sugar: 12 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Tannins.
Engaging nose dominated by cherry and almond. Softly effervescent. Dry. Fruity attack, savoury mid-palate. Lots of minerals. Crisp acidity adds cut and freshness. Spice and “pink grapefruit pith” mark the fair finish. Parabolic in that it got better as it breathed but then became a little one-note as it warmed. That said, this would make a fine starter at a backyard barbecue and you could keep going with it if you had some salmon on the grill. (Buy again? Sure.)

Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine André et Mireille Tissot ($30.75, 13236670)
Pinot Noir (50%), Poulsard (25%) and Trousseau (25%) from biodynamically farmed vines around a quarter of a century old and rooted in clay and limestone. Half the grapes were direct pressed, the other half pressed after a short maceration. Fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. Once malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine was bottled and sparkled using the traditional method. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: LVAB.
Yeasty/briochey nose of red berries, yellow plum and, a bit disconcertingly, “ketchup maison.” Very dry on the palate (I suspect this may be a zero dosage sparkler). Fine effervescence with bubbles one taster describes as “crunchy.” Minerals galore, peekaboo strawberry and soft but sufficient acidity. Sadly, all that takes a backseat to an overwhelming bitterness. Improved slightly with time in the glass, though never enough to win over a single taster. Tissot is one of our favourite Jura producers and this was the first Tissot rosé any of us had tasted, so the letdown was huge. Didn’t smell or taste like an off bottle. Just off the boat so maybe suffering from travel shock? (Buy again? Only to give it a second chance.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

June 12, 2017 at 13:06

WINO tasting (3/6)

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Located in the commune of Montaigu in the southern Jura, the estate now known as Domaine Pignier was created by monks in the 13th century and acquired by the Pignier family in 1794. It was certified biodyanmic in the early 2000s. The focus is on the vineyards, with a minimalist approach in the cellar (no added anything except occasionally minute amounts of sulphur).

Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine Pignier ($36.46, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from biodynamically framed vines. Manually harvested. Briefly macerated and fermented using a pied de cuve starter. The base wine is matured six months in oak barrels, then sparkled using the traditional method, with no dosage. No added sulphur. The bottles are aged on lattes for 12 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Deep salmon pink with pink foam and fine bubbles. Intriguing nose: strawberry cheese danish, “cheese rind,” prosciutto, “baker’s yeast” and more. Dry and buoyant on the palate. Though there’s a soft-glowing core of red berries, the fruit is ethereal, haunting more than inhabiting a matix of minerals that prompted descriptors like “saline” and “seaweed.” Long savoury finish. Lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Jura 2014, Trousseau, Les Gauthières, Domaine Pignier ($57.33, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Trousseau from biodynamically farmed, massal propagated vines. Yields are kept very low (25 hl/ha). The manually harvested grapes are destemmed, macerated and fermented using a pied de cuve starter and manual punch-downs and pump-overs during an entire lunar cycle. Matured 12 months in oak barrels of various sizes. Unfiltered. Bottled by gravity and with no added sulphur on a fruit day (per the lunar calendar). 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Morello cherry, hard red candy, dried leaves, limestone, eventually tomato and “umami.” More like cranberry in the mouth with charcoal overtones. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. Chewing brings out the fruit and reveals dimension and complexity. The fine tannins add a mild astringency to the long, vapourous finish with its faint almond note and Szechuan pepper-like numbingness. Accessible but young and best cellared for five or 10 years. Way pricey but one of the most beautiful Trousseaus I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 3 of 6

On Borde

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After studying oenology and working at estates in various regions of France, Julien Mareschal founded Domaine de la Borde in Pupillin in the Jura in 2003. The estate currently has 5 ha of vines, 3.5 ha of which are white grape varieties. The vines – the typical mix of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trouseau – average around 30 years of age. Though synthetic chemicals and herbicides have been avoided from the start, the estate officially switched to organic farming only in 2012, when it also began following certain biodynamic procedures.

Arbois Pupillin 2014, Terre du Lilas, Domaine de la Borde ($40.25, 12886494)
100% Chardonnay from a steeply sloped (20°), southwest-facing vineyard of argillo-calcareous topsoil over deep grey marl. Altitude: 450 m. Manually harvested. Eighty percent destemmed. The pressed juice is chilled to 6 to 8°C, then clarified by settling for 12 to 24 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 500-litre neutral oak barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for 20 months. Reducing sugar: 2.4 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Intriguing nose of toffee, shrimp shells and apricot yogurt. Medium-bodied, hazy and round, with no sharp edges. Apple, lemon, oatmeal and mineral flavours intertwine. Acidity buoys. Finishes long and on a dried seaweed note. Approachable and likeable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Arbois Pupillin 2014, Naturé, Foudre à Canon, Domaine de la Borde ($40.25, 12886566)
100% Naturé (aka Savagnin from a very steeply sloped (30°) vineyard of grey and blue marl covered by paper shale. Altitude: 400 m. Manually harvested. Eighty percent destemmed. The pressed juice is chilled to 6 to 8°C, then clarified by settling for 12 to 24 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 600- and 1,200-litre foudres. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for 20 months. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Initial surprising aromas (smoke, “sour cabbage,” “paprika”) segue into less unexpected limestone, pear and dried lemon zest as the wine breathes. Bracing and a little austere on the palate. White and citrus fruit and a mother lode of minerals are thrown into relief by streaming acidity and a striking absence of sugar. White spice and brine haunt the long finish. The purity and delineation are breathtaking. Even better three or four hours after opening. (Buy again? Done!)

Arbois Pupillin 2014, Côte de Caillot, Domaine de la Borde ($40.25, 12886427)
100% Chardonnay from a very steeply sloped (30°), south-facing vineyard of pebbly argillo-calcareous topsoil over limestone. Altitude: 550 m. Manually harvested. Eighty percent destemmed. The pressed juice is chilled to 6 to 8°C, then clarified by settling for 12 to 24 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in second- to fifth-fill 500-litre oak barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for 20 months. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Complex nose of “butter,” “smoke,” tropical fruit, sweat, “hay” and a hint of honey. Richer and a bit sweeter seeming than the Lilas. Except for the addition of yellow apple, the flavours echo the nose. Soft-glow acidity provides enough freshness, the aforementioned flavours and a chalky/flinty substrate produce a layered effect. Long, honey-cream finish. (Buy again? Sure though not in preference to the Terre du Lilas.)

A flight that generated a lot of discussion. Most around the table were seduced by the Chardonnays, found the Naturé too austere. When cleaning up after everyone had left, I discovered tail ends of the bottles in the fridge and revisited them. The Chards were still beguiling but seemed a little soft and shapeless and dominated by caramel/toffee/honey. The Naturé, on the other hand, was singing, glorying in its vibrancy, intensity and awesome minerality. I bought a bottle the next day.

MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

November 17, 2016 at 16:29

Ganevat caveat

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Vin de France 2014, J’en veux encore !!!, Anne & Jean-François Ganevat ($36.75, 12884190)
The original label, an ink sketch of the backside, from the shoulders to the knees, of a seated young woman wearing only a thong, has been replaced for the Quebec market with a text-only label. An 70-30 blend of Gamay from the Beaujolais and Trousseau from very old Jura vines, hence the vin de France designation. All the grapes are organically farmed, manually harvested and destemmed. Whole grape fermentation (old-fashioned carbonic maceration) is with indigenous yeasts. Matured 10 months in tronconic wood tanks. No fining, filtration or added sulphur. Reducing sugar: < 1.2 g/l. 10.9% ABV per the label, 12% per the SAQ. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Strawberries, dog hair, minerals, eventually spice. A mouthful of sweet-tart red fruit and minerals on the lighter side of medium-bodied. Super-supple tannins (the acidity’s carrying the structure here). Not what you’d call long. Pricey but pure, delicious and so very quaffable. (Buy again? Am not returning our backup bottle, so yes, but only that one.)

Vin de France 2014, Libre-K, Anne & Jean-François Ganevat ($42.00, 12884405)
80% Gamay from Morgon blended with old indigenous varieties from Ganevat’s vineyards in the Jura. Naturally vinified: manally harvested, destemmed grapes; whole-grape fermentation (old-fashioned carbonic maceration) with indigenous yeasts in tronconic vats; 12 month’s maturation in old foudres; no fining, filtration or added sulphur. Reducing sugar: 12.5%. Reducing sugar: 1.2 g/l. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Our first bottle was corked. The backup was clean as a whistle. Savoury/funky nose, the fruit plummier and the minerals slatier than the J’en veux encore. In the mouth, it’s darker, richer and deeper though not particularly fruity. Light but persistent tannins and sleek acidity provide structure. Finishes clean and long. Approachable now but will surely benefit from a few years’ ageing. Not without appeal, but is that enough to justify a $42 price tag (which, as one taster pointed out, is almost exactly the same as for Foillard’s excellent 2014 Morgon “Côte de Py”)? (Buy again? Only if feeling flush.)

While the assembled tasters enjoyed these, no one thought they represented good value. Ten dollars too expensive was the general verdict.

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 5 of 8

Written by carswell

September 19, 2016 at 14:40