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Declining Dolcetto?

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Dogliani 2011, Poderi Luigi Einaudi ($19.95, LCBO 232454)
The first vintage of this wine to bear the Dogliani DOCG designation (earlier vintages were Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC). 100% Dolcetto from ten- to 70-year-old vines growing in the San Giacomo and San Luigi vineyards in the Dogliani zone. Fermented in temperature-controlled (28°C) stainless steel tanks for four or five days with regular pump-overs. Transferred to other stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation and eight months’ maturation with repeated rackings. Bottled in the late spring following the harvest. 13.6% ABV.
Constantly evolving nose: blackberry, red currant, earth, pencil shavings, sweet spice, hint of shoe leather and an elusive floral note. Dry, fluid and savoury, with a light but pervasive astringency, fine, velvety tannins and lively acidity (high for a Dolcetto). The sweet-tart fruit twines with slate, ink and old wood flavours and the faintly sour and bitter finish is appetizing in the extreme. On opening, this had me wondering whether it wasn’t the most enjoyable Dolcetto ever. Alas, after 15 or 20 minutes the wine began to flatten out, to lose some of the nuance and vibrancy that made it so special. An early drinker that’s getting a little long in the tooth? Whatever. It was pretty fabulous for a while. (Buy again? Will certainly try to give the 2012 a shot.)

Thanks to Dolcettoman for schlepping the bottle all the way from Ontario.

Written by carswell

May 6, 2014 at 13:40

Posted in Tasting notes

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MWG March 20th tasting (7/7): Singular Zins

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Vin de France (2011), Z, Domaine de L’Arjolle ($19.95, LCBO 346072; available in Quebec as a $26 private import from L’Orée du bois)
100% Zinfandel from a one-hectare parcel of 16-year-old vines, the only Zinfandel planting in France. Manually harvested. Cold-soaked on the skins to extract phenolic compounds. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled (25°C) wooden vats. The resulting wine is matured in first- and second-fill barrels (two-thirds American oak, one-third French oak) for 12 months. Zinfandel not being a permitted variety in the Languedoc, the wine can be labelled only as a vin de France with no mention of vintage or grape. 14% ABV.
Savoury nose of tarry plum and blackberry (but no jam or prune), spice, pipe tobacco and cured pork. Full-bodied and full of ripe fruit that’s balanced by smooth acidity and round tannins and nuanced by mineral, cocoa and smoke flavours, which isn’t to say the wine couldn’t be deeper, longer or more complex. Still, this is far from a bomb – not quite as dry or rustic as a Primitivo but closer in style and food-friendliness to those southern Italians than to some of the sweet, overripe, overconcentrated and searingly alcoholic Zins coming out of the Golden State these days. Decent overall, especially at the LCBO price. (Buy again? If in Ontario and in the mood for a civilized Zin, sure.)

Zinfandel 2008, Fiddletown AVA, Old Vine, Eschen-Rinaldi Vineyard, Easton ($36.50, 12131340)
100% Zinfandel from one of the oldest, if not the oldest, currently producing vineyard in California, some of whose vines date back to the original 1865 planting. Dry-farmed without the use of synthetic chemicals. Matured in French oak. 4,800 bottles made. 14.5% ABV.
Blueberry, boysenberry, dried herbs, granite dust, peppery spice, discreet oak. More medium- than full-bodied. Savoury and dry. The fruit is earthy, freshened by bright acidity and deepened by subtle wood and a mineral substrate with a ferrous vein. The stealth tannins come out on the long, heady but not hot finish. Compared with the interchangeable fruit- and oak-heavy Zins that rule the market, this is terroir-driven, admirably restrained, somewhat old-fashioned and definitely contemplation-worthy, the kind of wine that could bring Zinfandel lovers turned skeptics back into the fold. (Buy again? Done!)

Written by carswell

April 22, 2014 at 20:14

MWG June 20th tasting (3/8): Frankly pink

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Ladybug rosé 2012, Niagara Peninsula, VQA, Malivoire Wine Company ($15.95, LCBO 559088)
Cabernet Franc (74%), Gamay (19%) and Pinot Noir (7%). After crushing, the grapes were left to macerate on their skins for 12 to 24 hours. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. 13% ABV.
Pink heading toward cherry red. Engaging nose of red berries and spice. Smooth texture. Clean and fruity though with a savoury streak. Off-off-dry though with enough acidity to lightly sour the finish. A summer sipper, nothing more but also nothing less. (Buy again? At that price, sure.)

Bourgueil 2011, Équinoxe, Domaine Yannick Amirault ($20.55, 11900872)
100% organically farmed Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months in barrels. The winemaker suggests aging this for two to five years after bottling. 12.5% ABV.
Pale coppery pink in the bottle but pallid in the glass, a straw-coloured white with rosy glints. Faintly fruity nose (strawberry-rhubarb?) with whiffs of dried dill, seaside rocks, dried chlorine. Less spectral on the palate: dry, lightly and tartly fruity, chock-a-block with minerals and firm acidity. A bitter note chimes in on the finish. Seems to straddle the line between rosé and white. Its savour and strictness make it a food wine (I’m thinking a cool slice of seafood terrine). (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

June 26, 2013 at 12:13

The case of the missing Noilly Prat

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Ask people to name the different types of vermouth and most will probably answer red and white. Actually, vermouths are divided into three main styles: Provençal, Savoie and Italian. (In fact, it’s even more complicated than that; see here for details.)

The first of these styles, the Provençal, is generally considered the most complex. And the last remaining representative of the style is Noilly Prat.

Straw-coloured Noilly Prat Original Dry is arguably the quintessential ingredient for a classic dry martini. Many martini recipes specify it by name while leaving the choice of gin up to the mixologist. As the New American Bartender’s Handbook says, “No martini should be made without a splash of this.” What’s more, Noilly Prat Original Dry is a key ingredient in several Provençal dishes, especially fish dishes. T. S. Eliot even named one of his cats after it. The lighter, more delicate Savoie vermouths can be delicious but they lack Noilly Prat’s heft. Italian dry vermouths tend to be sweeter, heavier and less refined. The bottom line: Noilly Prat is both an icon and an essential addition to any self-respecting liquor cabinet.

And it isn’t available in Quebec or Ontario.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by carswell

May 25, 2013 at 12:28

Posted in Commentary

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MWG April 18th tasting (9/9): Black Sea White Muscat

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White Muscat 2008, Massandra ($18.40, 11800548)
Located near Yalta in the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, the Massandra winery was founded in 1894 to supply the summer palace of Nicholas II, Russia’s last tsar. This fortified wine is made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and matured in oak barrels for two years. 16% ABV.
Gold tending to amber. Wafting nose of candied white fruit, golden raisins and orange peel. Sweet but not saccharine, rich but not heavy, in no small part due to the vibrant acidity. The faintly oxidized, nose-echoing flavours also include peach, dried fig and spice, a pith-like bitter note and an earthy mineral streak. Lingers long. A pleasure to drink – not quite a vin de contemplation, but definitely getting there. Outstanding QPR, though I can’t say that without also noting that the 2009 vintage is available at the LCBO for $15.95. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Written by carswell

May 3, 2013 at 09:36

A bargain red from Sicily

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Back in November, the Mo’ Wine Group tasted a Frappato made by Marsala-based Caruso & Minini, a decent buy at $16.65. Another of the producer’s wine showed up at Saturday’s private import pickup party and wowed everyone with its quality-price ratio. Unfortunately for Quebecers, buying it requires making a trip to Ontario.

Sicilia IGT 2010, Frappato/Nerello Mascalese, Terre di Giumara, Caruso & Minini ($13.95, LCBO 277558)
A blend of Frappato and Nerello Mascalese. Manually harvested and destemmed, then macerated and fermented at 25ºC (77ºF) in stainless steel tanks for 15-20 days. Thirty percent is aged six months in 500-litre tonneaux while the remainder spends eight months in stainless steel. 13% ABV.
Cherry, plum and some earth and spice. Medium-bodied and very dry, with ripe fruit as savoury as it is sweet, bright acidity and tannins just raspy enough to make themselves noticed. Possessed of all desired dimensions, including a nicely sustained finish. Really easy to drink. Would make an excellent pizza wine but has the wherewithal to accompany braised or grilled meats and even barbecue. If I were in the market for a crowd-pleasing party red to buy by the case, this would be on the short list.

Thanks to K for sharing this with the group.

Written by carswell

February 4, 2013 at 11:26

Posted in Tasting notes

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SAQ–LCBO rematch X

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This week saw two releases of note: the March 17th Cellier arrivage, two of whose wines (identified here with asterisks) are available at the LBCO, and the March 19th Vintages release, with 22 wines also found at the SAQ.

$7.95 / $8.00 Hakutsuru Sayuri Nigori (300 ml)
$8.40 / $8.45 Hakutsuro Junmai Ginjo (300 ml)
$14.40 / $14.95 Obsession Symphony 2009 Ironstone
$15.75 / $13.95 Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Mendoza
$16.30 / $16.95 Contado Riserva Aglianico del Molise 2007*
$18.15 / $16.95 Banfi Centine 2008 Toscana
$20.10 / $19.95 Beringer Founder’s Estate Syrah 2009
$20.70 / $21.95 Segal’s Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
$20.95 / $19.95 Santa Barabara Wine Company Pinot Noir 2009
$22.25 / $15.95 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2006
$22.75 / $19.95 D’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
$24.15 / $34.95 Colomé Estate Malbec 2008 Calchaqui Valley
$25.65 / $25.95 Vina Mayor Reserva 2004 Ribera del Durero
$26.40 / $24.95 Altaïr Sideral 2005 Rapel Valley
$26.95 / $26.95 Gabriel Meffre Laurus Gigondas 2007
$31.25 / $29.95 Pisco Soldeica
$35.75 / $36.95 Ferdinando Principiano Barolo Serralunga 2005*
$36.75 / $37.95 Sartori Amarone della Valpolicella 2006
$45.75 / $43.95 Ruffino Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva 2005
$48.25 / $44.95 Mission Hill Quatrain 2006
$54.00 / $53.95 Gaja Sito Moresco 2008 Langhe
$120.25 / $119.95 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
$150.75 / $134.95 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
$342.00 / $339.95 Opus One 2007

SAQ 9, LCBO 14.

A basket of all 24 wines would run $1,155.60 (average of $48.15 a bottle) in Quebec and $1,132.35 (average of $47.18 a bottle) in Ontario.

The price difference for the Columbia Crest Merlot ($22.15 at the SAQ, $15.95 at the LCBO) is hard to fathom. On the other hand, that for the Colomé Estate Malbec ($24.15 vs. $34.95) may have something to do with the SAQ’s bringing it to market before the Wine Spec ranked it 66 in their Top 100 Wines of 2010.

Written by carswell

March 19, 2011 at 11:05

Posted in Shoot-out

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