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Posts Tagged ‘Le Marchand de Vin

New Old World, old New World

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The last flight of the tasting ended up being an impromptu affair as both of the originally planned bottles – the Languedoc 2013, Terrasses du Larzac, Carlan, Mas Julien ($43.75, 12628516) and Côtes du Roussillon 2011, La Foun, Domaine Gauby ($123.00, 12300377) – were corked. Our replacements came from a nearby SAQ outlet and my cellar.

Campo de Borja 2013, Veraton, Bodegas Alto Moncayo ($34.00, 11668241)
100% Garnacha (aka Grenache) from vines between 30 and 50 years old and rooted in red clay and slate. Matured 17 months in French and American oak barrels (60% and 40% new respectively). Unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 15.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Fast-morphing nose. Snapshots along the way: India ink, chocolate, oak, blueberry, oak, caramel, sweet spice, raspberry, oak, faint plum, coffee. Full-bodied and rich but surprisingly well balanced despite the alarming alcohol level. The fruit is dense bordering on bombish, the acidity bright and the tannins firm but unaggressive. Massively oaky at first though turning purer and cleaner with some air. Still, vanilla runs from entry to mid-palate and turns to mocha on the long finish. Thank Bacchus, it’s dry. Impressive in its way and delivering excellent QPR but not at all up my alley. (Buy again? Nope though if big oaky reds are your thing, make a beeline.)

Napa Valley 1990, Petite Sirah, York Creek, Ridge Vineyards (c. US$20 in the early ’90s, importation valise)
A blend of Petite Sirah (aka Durif, 86%) and Zinfandel (14%) from dry-farmed vines in the York Creek vineyard. Given extended fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Clarified by racking. Matured 14 months, during which time the wine was fined twice “to soften the firm tannins.” Bottled in May 1992. 13.9% ABV.
Popped and poured. Complex, evolving nose: slate, clay, red plum, “blue cheese,” leather, menthol, blueberry pie. Full-bodied if austere though built around a core of pure, plummy fruit. Beautifully structured: the tannins, once formidable and still sinewy, have softened some while sleek acidity brightens the dark flavours. Deep slate underlies the mid-palate, spice and wood overtone the long finish. Tasting double-blind, everyone guessed this was an Old World wine and no one suspected it was more than 10 years old. At or maybe just past peak; if you have any bottles of this, drink them soon. (Buy again? If only…)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

March 25, 2016 at 16:28

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

Easy-drinkers from Tuscany and Touraine

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Rosso di Montalcino 2013, Altesino ($26.45, 11472345)
100% Sangiovese Grosso from younger vines in the Altesino, Pianezzine, Macina and Castelnuovo dell’Abate vineyards. Given a one- to two-day cold soak and seven to ten days’ maceration with racking and pump-overs. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled (28-30°C) stainless steel tanks and lasts 15-20 days. Matured six to eight months in old 5,000- to 10,000-litre Slavonian oak barrels and a minimum of three months in bottle. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Red berries, black cherry, iodine, marzipan and, as another taster noted, “umami.” Medium-bodied, silky textured and very dry. The deliciously pure fruit is structured by lacy tannins and bright acidity, while minerals and bitter black cherry mingle on the clean, nicely astringent finish. Faint tobacco and floral (violet?) notes linger. Fans of here-now Sangioveses need not hesitate. (Buy again? Yep.)

Touraine 2014, Le Bon ami, Domaine de La Garrelière ($26.65, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% biodynamically farmed Cabernet Franc. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. No chaptalization. Matured six to eight months in concrete tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Complex nose of Chinese preserved plums, pepper brine, black tea leaves and more. Medium-bodied, supple, smooth, fresh and pure. The fruit (cherry and black currant) comes with a faint green note pitched somewhere between cedar shoot and tobacco leaf. The acidity’s sleek and the tannins are low-key, though there’s a bit of astringency on the long finish, which also brings a hint of spice. Not a grab-you-by-the-throat wine but drinkable indeed. It may well gain depth and complexity with a couple of years in the cellar. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

March 23, 2016 at 10:11

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

Oak and ashes

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Touraine 2013, Cuvée Cendrillon, Domaine de la Garrelière ($23.45, 10211397)
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) from biodynamically farmed vines averaging 25 years old. The grape varieties are vinified separately. After gentle pressing, the must is allowed to clarify by settling. Fermentation – full alcoholic with indigenous yeasts and partial malolactic – takes place in stainless steel tanks and lasts two months. A third of the wine by volume is aged in old 500-litre oak barrels. Blending is done one month before bottling. Fined with bentonite and filtered through a 0.65 membrane. The cuvée’s name, French for Cinderella, refers to the winegrower’s practice of spraying the vines with a preparation of crystallized ashes made from burned vine clippings. Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Ashy minerals, peach, honeysuckle, “fennel” and faint, dusty potpourri. Fresh and briny on the palate with subtle citrus flavours. The combo of Chardonnay and relatively mild acidity give the wine a round and satiny texture. A touch of bitterness colours the minerally finish. “Clean and precise,” as another taster pointed out. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bourgogne 2013, Chardonnay, Caves Ropiteau Frères ($22.40, 11293953)
100% Chardonnay from vineyards across Burgundy (purchased grapes?). Fermented in stainless steel (with industrial yeasts?). Matured in barrels for six months. (Filtered? Fined?) Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Apple and pear, hints of oats and white flowers and an unmissable shot of oak. Medium-bodied. The fruit is rich but not tropical and there’s enough acidity to keep it from being flabby. A hint of sweetness marks the smooth attack but the wine finishes dry. Faint minerals and not-so-faint caramel are noticeable from the mid-palate on. Fair length. To my oak-sensitive palate, a bit cloying. Give it a year in the cellar to digest the wood? (Buy again? If you aren’t allergic to oak, sure.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

March 19, 2016 at 09:05

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

California Sparklin’

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In late February, Simon Thibaudeau, now with Le Marchand de Vin, led the group in an enjoyable overview of the agency’s portfolio. The wines were served double-blind to everyone but Simon. As is our wont, we started with a sparkler.

Anderson Valley 2007, Brut, L’Ermitage, Roederer Estate ($68.25, 11682810)
A Chadonnay (52%) and Pinot Noir (48%) from estate-grown grapes, this tête de cuvée is made only in exceptional years and only from free-run and first-press juice. Vinified using the traditional method. Dosage is done with reserve wine from the 2004 and 2005 vintages that was aged five years in French oak casks; the dosage accounts for 4% of the final wine. Reducing sugar: 13 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Yeasty, champagne-like nose of sour lemon, stone fruit, browning apple, “white miso” (as per another taster) and a whiff a sea spray. Richly textured and mouth-filling. The ripe fruit comes with a touch of honey though the wine is quite dry. A fine, persistent effervescence combines with the bright acidity to give the wine a welcome bit of bite, while a sourish undercurrent adds intrigue. Broad and very long. Drinking double-blind, I first thought this was Californian but finally guessed it was a very ripe champagne. In hindsight, the solar fruit and downplayed minerality should have tipped me that it wasn’t – though qualitatively, it’s on a champagne level. That said, as with so many California wines, the price seems high in comparison to its European counterparts. (Buy again? Setting aside QPR considerations, yes.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

March 16, 2016 at 10:43