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Posts Tagged ‘Languedoc-Roussillon

Ward & associés tasting (8/9)

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IGP Côtes Catalanes 2015, Mon P’tit Pithon, Olivier Pithon ($46.55/1500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
According to David Ward, the cuvée’s name is indeed a play on Monty Python. A blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (25%) and Mourvèdre (25%) from organically and biodynamically farmed young vines. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are fermented with indigenous yeasts. Maceration time is purposefully kept short. Matured in concrete tanks. Lightly filtered and sulphured at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13% ABV. The 750 ml bottling ($20.70, 12574811) is stocked by the SAQ, though few bottles remain. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.


Red berries, Chinese dried plum, spice and slate dust. A medium-bodied mouthful of chiaroscuro fruit, soft acidity, lacy tannins with a lightly astringent edge that provides a welcome touch of gritiness. Fresh, fluid and fleet yet possessed of a certain richness, this easy-drinker seems tailor made for casual fare liked grilled sausages, braised white meats and potluck buffets. Drink lightly chilled. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 8 of 9

Written by carswell

February 22, 2017 at 11:40

Limoux times two

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Crémant de Limoux 2013, Expression, Antech ($20.60, 10666084)
Chardonnay (60%), Chenin Blanc (20%) and Mauzac (20%) from vines rooted in argilo-calcerous soil. Manually harvested. After pressing, the musts are chilled and clarified by settling, then transferred to stainless steel fermentation vessels. First fermentation lasts 15 to 21 days. The wine is then clarified by fining and sparkled using the traditional method. Spends at least 18 months on the lees in the bottle before disgorging. Reducing sugar: 8.1 g/l (for the 2014). 12% ABV. Quebec agent: AOC.
Cookie dough, chalk and lemon. Fine and persistent effervescence. Clean and dry on the palate, the fruit tending to apple, with good acidity and a dusting of minerals. A hint of bitterness creeps in on the faintly honeyed finish. It’s a bit anonymous – more cava- than champagne-like – but certainly drinkable. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Crémant de Limoux 2013, Brut, Clos des Demoiselles, J. Laurens ($23.90, 10498973)
Chardonnay (60%), Chenin Blanc (30%) and Pinot Noir (10%). The varieties are manually harvested and vinified separately. First fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then bottled with added yeast for second fermentation, matured on the lees for 15 months and disgorged, all per the traditional method. Reducing sugar: 12 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Sélections Oeno.
Cookie dough again, this time with marzipan, “matches” and a sour edge. Gained faint notes of “slightly rotting tropical fruit” and candied apple. Richer, more complex and less cava-like than the Antech, with softer, rounder bubbles. The fruit – pear and a little citrus – is upfront but the wine comes across as dry, due in part to the lively acidity. Chalky minerals thread through the mid-palate and into the long finish. Fresh, balanced and satisfying. The usually shaped bottle is quite slippery. (Buy again? Sure.)

The Antech was supposed to be the newly arrived 2014 and I didn’t notice that it wasn’t till unveiling the bottle at the tasting. The vintage information is in the SAQ’s product database yet, perversely, doesn’t make use of it. Why the site usually lists only the latest vintage received and thus sometimes misidentifies the vintage in a given store is a mystery, a source of frustration and a major fail.

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

May 26, 2016 at 11:53

Different drummers

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Saint-Chinian 2014, Antonyme, Domaine Canet-Valette ($17.80, 11013317)
A 50-50 blend of Mourvèdre and Cinsault from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in tanks for 15 days. The wine is then transferred to other tanks for four months’ maturation. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Slightly candied red and black fruit with faint smoke and animale notes. Medium-bodied. Smooth, dense, fruity and dry but also listless and lacking relief, especially next to the À ma guise. I recall an earlier vintage (the 2006?) being more Beaujolais-like. Admittedly, the context didn’t do the wine any favours and I expect it will show better with food, ideally something red meaty and grilled (I’ll be hanging on to my backup bottle to see). (Buy again? Maybe.)

Vin de France 2014, À ma guise, Domaine Les Terres Promises ($25.87, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The 13-hectare estate, which includes a parcel in the Bandol AOC, is owned and operated by former Parisian political operative and author Jean-Christophe Comor and located in the Var department in the foothills of the Massif de la Saint-Baume near the village of La Roquebrussanne. The farming is organic, the wine-making is non-interventionist and the chai is open to the air. This primeur-style wine is a blend of around a dozen varieties including Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette and Carignan Blanc. Unfiltered. No or very little added sulphur. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Vin dans les Voiles.
Complex, “natural” nose. Fleet yet mouth-filling. Chewy, juicy red fruit with exuberant acidity, supple tannins, a healthy dose of minerals, a squirt of vine sap and a dusting of earth. Smackingly tart finish. So very drinkable. A joy. (Buy again? Done!)

I first encountered the À ma guise at Satay Bros., where it was being poured by the glass. I liked it enough to have a couple of refills and, a few days later, to trek through the rain on foot and public transit to the middle of nowhere, aka the SAQ’s Futailles Street warehouse, to pick up a case so I could serve it at the tasting. The tasting’s bottle was cloudier than I remembered, a bit funky and not quite as stellar as the Satay Bros. bottle (which may have been open and poured from for a while), though it was still good enough for me to have no trouble selling the remainder of the case. Opened day or two later, a third bottle was verging on vinegar. Such are the vagaries of natural wines. Yet when the wine is on, such are the rewards that we put up with the disappointments.

MWG March 31st tasting: flight 5 of 6

Jaunty Pithon

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Côtes de Roussillon 2013, Cuvée Laïs, Domaine Olivier Pithon ($26.60, 11925720)
A blend of Carignan (40%), Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre (10%) and Syrah (10%) – that’s per, various merchants and the estate’s website but not the wine’s front label, according to which Mourvèdre constitutes 20% and Syrah 0% – from organically farmed old vines rooted in schist and limestone. Manual harvesting began on September 1. Vinification was traditional (native yeasts, non-interventionist). The wine was matured 12 to 18 months in concrete tanks and foudres. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.6% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Crushed blackberry, candied raspberry, rubber, sandalwood spice and hints of black olive and leafmould. Medium-bodied. In the mouth the fruit is dark, juicy and soured by a steady stream of acidity. Supple tannins show a bit of astringency on a finish marked by mineral and lingering grilled red pepper notes. Did the trick with the season’s first charcoal-grilled leg of lamb and vegetables. Food-friendly and drinkable in the extreme though not quite as beautiful or deep as the 2012. (Buy again? Yep.)

Written by carswell

March 28, 2016 at 11:48

The cream and the infidel

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Willamette Valley 2013, Pinot Noir, La Crema ($40.00, 12395652)
The second vintage of this wine from Jackson Family Wines’ new Oregon operation and the first made in its own facility. 100% Pinot Noir from estate and purchased grapes grown in eight vineyards. Manually harvested. The whole clusters were pressed and the juice cold-soaked for three days, then fermented in vats with thrice-daily punch-downs. The resulting wine was racked into French oak barrels (25% new) for eight months’ maturation. Residual sugar (per the winery): 3.0 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Attractive nose dominated by cedary red fruit (cherry, cranberry). What’s more, ça pinote. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied and fairly dry. The ripe fruit is only a bit brambly and not at all jammy, nicely brightened by acidity and firmed by supple tannins. Earthy minerally undertones and savoury herb overtones add interest, while the oak is mercifully relegated to the background. Sweet spice notes – from the fruit as well as the oak, methinks – sound on the credible finish. Not a QPR winner – few West Coast wines are, alas – but not a rip-off either, not in either sense of the word. (Buy again? On sale maybe.)

Coteaux du Languedoc 2013, Terrasses du Larzac, L’infidèle, Mas Cal Demoura ($33.50, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A blend of organically farmed grapes, typically Syrah (30%), Mourvèdre (25%), Grenache (20%), Cinsault (15%) and Carignan (10%). Manually harvested. Destemmed. The parcels and grape varieties are vinified separately. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and macerated in temperature-controlled stainless steel and concrete tanks for 20-35 days with punch-downs and pump-overs. Matured 12 months, 80% in 500- and 600-litre barrels (15% new) and 20% in stainless steel tanks. After blending, the wine is matured seven months in stainless steel tanks. Cold-stabilized then bottled. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Savoury nose of plum, “black sesame” and leather with garrigue overtones. Full-bodied, broad and deep but not massive – quite elegant in fact. Firm tannins and smooth acidity structure the dry, velvety black fruit. Finishes long and on a licorice note. The wine’s balance makes it accessible now though it’s also quite primary; a few years in the cellar will bring added complexity. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

March 24, 2016 at 11:52

Two southern French reds with altitude

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Marcillac 2014, Mansois, Lionel Osmin ($16.50, 11154558)
Located upriver from Cahors in the foothills of the Massif central, the Marcillac vineyards are, at 350–500 metres (1,100–1,600 feet) above sea level, some of the highest in southwest France. This 100% Mansois (aka Fer Servadou) is made from purchased grapes that are manually harvested, usually late in the season. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation take place in temperature-controlled (23°C) tanks and last 12 to 18 days. Matured in tanks for 10 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Red berries, wet clay and vine stems with floral and iron overtones. Medium-bodied and very dry, though fresher than is often the case with Fer wines due in no small part to the bright fruit and fluent acidity. A beety streak adds an earthy, minerally edge while suppler-than-expected tannins keep things firm. The finish is a bit austere, as is typical with this grape. Appealingly rustic and very approachable. The price is more than fair. Try this lightly chilled with a simple stew of beef or lamb, root vegetables, celery and bay. (Buy again? Def.)

Languedoc 2013, Terrasses du Larzac, Les Carlines, Mas Haut-Buis ($18.85, 10507278)
Ranging in altitude from around 100 metres (400 feet) to 400 metres (1,300 feet), the Terrasses du Larzac vineyards are some of the highest in the Languedoc. Syrah (35%), Carignan (35%) and Grenache (30%) from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tronconic vats. Matured 14 months in cement vats. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Fragrant nose: black raspberry, plum, burned minerals, animale, leather, meat and a dash of green. Medium-bodied and smooth textured. There’s a good balance between the ripe fruit, bright acidity and light but firm tannins, though it’s a little lacking in the depth department. Decent peppery finish. Seems less accomplished than an earlier vintage I recall (the 2010?); whether that’s a function of our bottle, the challenging 2013 vintage or the wine’s current phase is hard to say. In any case, not bad and probably better with food. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 4 of 7

White, dry and aromatic

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Penedès 2014, Extrem, Raventos i Blanc ($32.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% biodynamically farmed Xarel·lo from vines planted in 1965 and 1970. The grapes are manually harvested. The winery is gravity fed and dry ice is used to cool the fruit and prevent oxidation. After slow pressing, the chilled must is clarified by settling and fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation is prevented, it appears. Matured on the lees. Not stabilized, filtered or fined before bottling with a minimum of sulphur dioxide. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
A nose that starts out smelling of citrus (lemon, lime) and gooseberry then segues into floral (“acacia blossom,” “jasmine” said other tasters) and quartz aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry and full of green apple, flint and snappy acid. The long, briny, mouth-watering finish ends on a white pepper note. Tasting this double-blind, I guessed it was an elegant, understated Sancerre. A wine that makes it easy to see why Xarel·lo is one of the preferred cava grapes. (Buy again? Yes.)

IGP des Côtes Catalanes 2014, Les Calcinaires, Domaine Gauby ($27.90, 12415289)
A blend of Muscat (50%), Chardonnay (30%) and Macabeu (20%) from organically farmed vines between 15 and 50 years old. The manually harvested grapes are directly pressed. The must is chilled, clarified and fermented, mainly in barrels, with indigenous yeasts and no additives. Matured on the fine lees in lined concrete tanks for around eight months. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Changing nose that, along the way, hits pickled peach, sweat, musk and white minerals. In the mouth, the wine is rich yet fresh, intense yet fleet and so fruity you’d swear the winemaker left some residual sugar in it. There’s a real tension between the mineral austerity and wild aromatics, while the otherwise mild acidity lends an almost vinegary tang to the long, stony finish. Trippy but unsettled for now; probably better in a year or two. (Buy again? A bottle or two for the cellar.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 2 of 7