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Posts Tagged ‘Languedoc-Roussillon

Red ends

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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 furthest thing from an aperitif wine

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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 furthest 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

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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)

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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)

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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.

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

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, SAQ.com 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