Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘Languedoc-Roussillon

Three sure bets

leave a comment »

Côtes du Rhône VillagesValréas 2010, Clos Bellane ($26.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah from biodynamically and organically farmed vines more than a quarter century old and rooted in clay and limestone. At 410 metres elevation, the vineyard is the highest and one of the coolest in the southern Rhône. Manually harvested. Partially destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and “Burgundy-style” punch-downs in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Pneumatically pressed. Matured in stainless steel tanks (70%) and used barrels (30%). To minimize handling by machines, the winery is gravity-fed. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Our bottle was opened 24 hours before we got around to it. Wafting nose of plum, raspberry, spice, oyster bed, red gummy bears and garrigue. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied but restrained. What’s more, the alcohol is not at all noticeable. Flavourwise, it’s remarkably clean, pure and well balanced, with rich fruit, freshening acidity, mostly resolved though still bitey tannins and as much breadth as depth. Black pepper and herbes de Provence overtone the long finish. The estate’s elegant rosé is among the best values at the SAQ, so it’s not surprising the CDRV (the 2015 version of which is also available at the monopoly) is similarly tasty and affordable. (Buy again? Sure.)

Corbières 2014, Prioundo, Les Clos Perdus ($34.60, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Grenache (80%) and Cinsault (20%) from biodynamically and organically farmed, 32-year-old vines rooted in limestone and clay. Twenty percent of the grapes are left in whole clusters, the rest destemmed but uncrushed. Given three days’ maceration before fermentation in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Basket pressed after 21 days on the skins. Matured on the fine lees in stainless steel tanks for nine months. Unfined and lightly filtered. Sulphur use is minimal. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Lovely, subtle, savoury nose: blackberries and red fruit, minerals, spice and a bit o’ barnyard. Pure, open and sweet on the attack yet dry and savoury. Finely structured with supple tannins and smooth acidity. Full-bodied, round, fresh – what the French call digeste, which is kind of surprising for a 14.5% wine. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vacqueyras 2014, Fruit Sauvage, Clos de Caveau ($65.00/1500 ml, private import, 3 bottles/case)
A 60-40 blend of Grenache and Syrah from 10- to 45-year-old organically farmed vines at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months, half in tronconic tanks, half in concrete tanks 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Elegant nose of plum and red berries, black tea and background minerals and garrigue. As for the palate, the word smooth appears three times in my notes, though suave might be the better descriptor. Full-bodied and lush yet fresh and energetic. Satiny texture. The ripe, juicy fruit is structured by round tannins and sleek acidity. Minerals rumble softly underneath. Finishes long and clean and with not a hint of heat. Unexpectedly easy-going, especially for a Vacqueyras. (Buy again? Sure.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 7 of 9

Advertisements

Written by carswell

November 3, 2017 at 12:42

Natural Catalans

leave a comment »

BN 2015, Blanco Natural, Partida Creus ($27.45, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A skin-contact white made from biodynamically farmed Macabeo (90%) and Cartoixa Vermell (10%). Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 10.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Bronze to the eye. Engaging nose of hayloft, dried white fruit, sawed wood, apricot skin and lees. Smooth and buoyant on the attack. Layers of flavour, only one or two of which are fruit. Broad and long though not remarkably deep. A light tannic astringency adds some structure to the finish. So savoury. A very good orange wine at a very good price. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes Catalanes 2015, L’Année blanc, Les Clos Perdus ($26.85, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Macabeu (aka Macabeo, 65%), Grenache Gris (30%) and Muscat (5%) from biodynamically farmed grapes. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in stainless steel and barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Sulphur use is minimal. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Delicious nose. Blast of minerals, especially granite (“presque pétrole” notes André), along with orchard fruit (yellow apple in particular), a hint of funk and eventually “honey” and white meat notes. The ripe fruit and dense, almost oily texture come with compensating acidity. Finishes long and strong with a mix of spice and minerals. A serious, savoury wine that delivers considerable bang for the buck. (Buy again? Yes.)

Red ends

leave a comment »

After working with the Les Vignerons d’Estézargues cooperative for several years, Édouard Laffitte, who had no background in farming, decided to set out on his own. Invited by Loïc Roure, then newly settled in the Roussillon, to share the wine-making facilities he had just acquired for his Domaine du Possible, Laffitte began searching for vines, specifically ones growing in north-facing, high-altitude vineyards, the better to make wines that were fresh and not excessively alcoholic. He eventually pieced together 7.7 hectares of parcels in the communes of Lansac (granitic sand), Rasiguères (shale) and Cassagnes (gneiss) to make the Domaine Le Bout du Monde, so named because visitors told him that getting there was like travelling to the end of the earth.

The farming is organic and the vineyards are worked manually. The wines are vinified by soil type with as little intervention as possible (indigenous yeasts, no filtering or fining, no additives). The estate currently makes five reds (Grenache, Carignan and Syrah alone and in blends) and one white (Roussane).

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Tam-Tam, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($29.30, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Syrah from vines rooted in slate. Vinified in tanks. Given three weeks’ carbonic maceration. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Nose: red fruit, spice, cedar, background earth, distant funk. Mouth: Dry, spicy, sawdusty. Lively acidity, supple tannins. Medium body, satiny texture. Pure, straightforward, fruity and enjoyable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Hop’là, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($32.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Grenache (40%), Syrah (40%) and Carignan (20%) from vines rooted in gneiss. Vinified in tanks. Given three weeks’ carbonic maceration. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Far more savoury nose: black raspberry, leafmould, slate and leather. Medium-bodied and fleet, with bright acidity, springy tannins, lively pure fruit. Clean finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, La Luce, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($43.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Grenache from 35-year-old vines rooted in gneiss. Vinified in tanks. Given four weeks’ carbonic maceration. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
The most complex of the three. Floral, licorice, plum cake, marzipan. Smooth and satiny. Layered berry fruit, wood and minerals. Fine complex tannic structure. Sleek acidity. Long finish with a vaporous note. Gorgeous. Delivers all of the upsides of Grenache and none of the downsides. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 5 of 6

The farthest thing from an aperitif wine

leave a comment »

Languedoc 2013, Roucaillat, Domaine des Hautes Terres de Comberousse ($29.55, private import, 12 bottles/case)
The 14-hectare estate is located about 15 kilometres north of Sète. Its first vines were planted in 1981, The current company, a father and son operation, was founded in 2001. Farming has been organic since the start and the mostly calcareous vineyards are neither tilled nor weeded. This, the estate’s flagship white, is a blend of Roussanne (50%), Rolle (aka Vermentino, 30%) and Grenache Blanc (20%). The grapes are manually harvested and given extended maceration before being gently pressed. The must is chilled, clarified though settling and fermented in temperature-controlled (19-20°C) tanks. Malolactic fermentation and several months’ maturation follow. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.

Striking, savoury nose of “spruce bark,” yellow beet, “cooked Swiss chard,” bacon fat and “pumpkin seed.” In the piehole, it’s rich and heady, extracted but not particularly fruity: beeswax overtoned with orange, bacon and dried herbs. The acidity is of the soft-glow variety while the long finish fades into a lingering bitterness. Unrefreshing on its own (the farthest thing from an aperitif wine), this absolutely requires food. Unique, surprising and, maybe, a year or two before its prime. (Buy again? A bottle or two to relive the experience and play with food pairings.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

May 28, 2017 at 12:19

Bullish

leave a comment »

Based in Calce in the Roussillon, not far from Perpignan, Jean-Philippe Padié farms 15 hectares of vines divided among some 40 parcels. Before creating his eponymous estate in 2003, he worked as vineyard manager at Mas Amiel and Domaine Gauby. The farming is organic leaning biodynamic (though Padié doesn’t bother with certifications) and yields are kept very low. The wine-making is non-interventionist. Am pertty sure this is his first wine to be sold at the SAQ.

Vin de France 2015, Petit Taureau, Domaine Padié ($28.15, 13113215)
A 50-50 blend of Carignan and Syrah from organically farmed vines respectively rooted in limestone and schist. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Four-fifths of the wine is matured in concrete tanks, one-fifth in barrels. No additives other than a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Labelle Bouteille.

Entrancing nose of red and black fruit, hard candy, sweet spice and flowers against a backdrop of slate, turned earth and leather. Dense with flavour yet medium-bodied and oh, so fluid. Very dry yet full of ripe but not heavy fruit. The sleek acidity and soft tannins come out on the finish, adding a pleasing terminal bite. Black raspberry and peppery spice linger. Fresh + supple + fruity + savoury + low alcohol (12.5% in 2015) = dangerously drinkable. The only possible complaint is the price – relatively high for an easy drinker – but that’s a recurring theme these days (blame the exchange rate, among other things). (Buy again? Def.)

Written by carswell

April 13, 2017 at 10:41

WINO tasting (1/6)

leave a comment »

The Mo’ Wine Group’s latest agency tasting was led by the affable Martin Landry from WINO. Around three years old, the agency specializes in wines that are, at a minimum, organic or biodyamic and often “natural.” You’ll find them on the lists at many of the city’s hipper restaurants and wine bars, including Diplomat, Pullman, Rouge Gorge and Moleskine (to name a few recent sightings).

We got things rolling with a classy sparkler from Limoux.

Blanquette de Limoux 2015, Monsieur S./Étienne Fort ($25.33, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Fort is a barely 30-something vigneron who works the family’s two hectares of vines at the Château Saint Salvadou in Bourliège in the Aude department. In 2011, he decided to stop selling his fruit to the local co-op and to start making his own wines. The grapes for this 100% Mauzac come from organically and biodynamically farmed, 30-year-old vines rooted in deep clayey limestone. Manually harvested. Made without additives of any kind. Fermented in stainless steel. Sparkled using the traditional method. Matured 12 months on the lees. Undosed, unfined, unfiltered. Spent 12 months in the bottle on lattes. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Yeasty, leesy nose with quartz and lemon notes. Tiny, tingling verging on prickly bubbles. Bone dry, crisp and clean. Trenchant and minerally upfront with lemon and gooseberry emerging on the mid-palate. A pithy thread runs throughout. The long, savoury, fairly complex finish has a touch of salinity. This bracing and refreshing sparkler would make a fine aperitif or, as Martin suggested, a dashing companion to oysters on the half shell. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 1 of 6

Ward & associés tasting (8/9)

leave a comment »

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.

mon-ptit-pithon-rouge

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