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Posts Tagged ‘Les Vins Alain Blélanger

Somewhereness 2013: 13th Street Winery

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Now in its 15th vintage, St. Catharines-based 13th Street Winery makes still and sparkling wines from estate-grown and purchased grapes. Before landing on the Niagara Peninsula, current winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas worked in France and Chile.

Chardonnay 2012, June’s Vineyard, Creek Shores VQA, 13th Street Winery ($24.92, Les vins Alain Bélanger, 12 bottles/case)
100% estate-grown Chardonnay from vines planted in 1999. Manually harvested and sorted, then crushed, destemmed and pressed. Given a short maceration on the skins. Fermented and matured (on the lees for seven months) in stainless steel. Underwent complete malolactic fermentation. Scewcapped. 13.5% ABV.
Textbook Chardonnay nose of lemon, green apple, oats and chalk. Chock-a-block with minerals (this is not a fruit-driven wine), alive with acidity, intense if not particularly deep. A hint of white pepper seasons the finish. It comes as no surprise to learn that Colas used to be the head winemaker for a major Chablis producer. (Buy again? Sure, especially at the Ontario price of $21.95.)

Riesling 2012, June’s Vineyard, Creek Shores VQA, 13th Street Winery ($24.92, Les vins Alain Bélanger, 12 bottles/case)
100% Riesling, specifically the Alsatian clone 49 (all the other Somewhereness Riesling makers use the German Weiss clone). Haven’t found any wine-making info but would be willing to bet it sees only stainless steel. 13 g/l residual sugar. Screwcapped. 11.5% ABV.
A nose that doesn’t scream Riesling: the fruit is more tropical than lemon-limey, the minerals are faint, nary a whiff of petrol is to be found. Smooth and sleek on the palate. Just off-dry. As minerally (more quartz than limestone) as fruity. Decent finish with floral overtones. Fresh and appealing. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the Ontario price of $19.95.)

Gamay Noir 2012, Niagara Peninsula VQA, 13th Street Winery ($24.92, Les vins Alain Bélanger, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from three vineyards: Sandstone, Schwenker and 13th Street. Manually harvested, then crushed and destemmed. The lots were fermented separately in stainless steel vats over 3 weeks, then pressed and transferred to stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation, after which the final blend was assembled. Screwcapped. 13.5% ABV.
Red, blue and black berries, slate, a whiff of alcohol and eventually red meat. Rich but not heavy thanks to a firm acid backbone, velvety tannins and general juiciness. Long, pure and tasty. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the Ontario price of $19.95.)

Gamay Noir 2011, Sandstone Reserve, Four Mile Creek VQA, 13th Street Winery ($30.03, Les vins Alain Bélanger, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from “old” vines (planted in 1983). Manually harvested and sorted, crushed and destemmed, then given a cold-soak and fermented in stainless steel vats with regular punch-downs of the cap. Moved to French oak barrels (around 20% new and 20% second fill) for malolactic fermentation and maturation on the lees with a single racking. 13% ABV.
Deeper, darker nose: spice, herbs, red and black fruit. Fuller-bodied than most Gamays. While noticeable, the oak doesn’t overpower the spicy fruit. Compared with the 2011 Niagara Peninsula Gamay, the wine seems structured more by tannins than by acidity. Solid finish. Could almost pass for a Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Pinot Noir 2012, Essence, Niagara Peninsula VQA, 13th Street Winery ($44.86, Les vins Alain Bélanger, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from older vines in the 13th Street vineyard and younger vines at Fourth Avenue. Also includes some purchased fruit. Each batch was handled separately until final blending.Manually harvested and sorted, then destemmed, crushed and transferred to open-top stainless steel vats for fermentation (with punch-downs) at a relatively cool 25ºC, after which the wine was left to macerate on the skins for 20 days. The wine and lees were transferred to French oak barrels (all second fill except one, which was new) for malolactic fermentation and maturation. Total barrel time: 14 months. Blended, fined and lightly filtered before bottling. 13% ABV.
Elegant Burgundian nose of red berries, spice and undergrowth. Ripe and supple, with gossamer fruit, bright acidity and lacy tannins that turn astringent on finish. A bit short but impressively coherent. Very good. (Buy again? Unfortunately no, due mainly to the high price.)

Written by carswell

November 4, 2013 at 14:33

MWG February 21st tasting (1/8): Tissot’s Indigène

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A wide-ranging tasting that featured a mix of SAQ wines and private imports, all of them recent arrivals. We started and ended in the Jura.

Crémant du Jura, Indigène, Domaine André et Mireille Tissot ($27.04, Les vins Alain Bélanger, 12 b/c)
A traditional method sparkler. Biodynamically farmed Chardonnay (55%), Pinot Noir (35%), Poulsard (5%) and Trousseau (5%) from vines averaging 25 years old. Manually harvested, pneumatically pressed. Slow fermentation in stainless steel vats at 16 to 18ºC with indigenous yeasts. The prise de mousse (second fermentation) is achieved using yeasts taken from the estate’s fermenting vin de paille. Matured on the lees in bottles for 13 months before disgorging. No dosage or added sulphur dioxide. If memory serves, the alcohol level was 12.5%.
Apple turnover with cream, lemon zest and chalk. Fine, persistent effervescence. Rich and dry, the flavours tending to pear and yellow apple, crunchy minerals and a honey note. Fresh, pure and bracing, with huge acidity and a yeasty finish. A great sparkler that wakes up your mouth. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Written by carswell

March 3, 2013 at 13:21

MWG April Jura tastings: report (6/6)

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The Jura counterpart to Pineau des Charentes and Floc de Gascogne, Macvin du Jura is a vin de liqueur, a sweet and powerful blend of two-thirds grape juice and one-third Marc du Jura (pomace brandy) that is aged up to 30 months in casks. Macvin comes in white, pink and red varieties (usually the first) and, despite having been around since at least the 14th century, was granted its own AOC only in 1991. Locals serve it chilled as an aperitif, with desserts or after dinner mixed with marc (usually one part Macvin to two parts marc).

Macvin du Jura, Jean Bourdy ($47.00, 3 btls/case, La QV)
A rare rosé Macvin. Strawberry, fruit cake and dried spice (caraway, clove, cinnamon). Sweetness balanced by acidity and spice. Lingers long. Excellent. (Buy again? Yes.)

Macvin Rouge, Pinot Noir, André et Mireille Tissot ($39.25, 6 btls/case, Les Vins Alain Bélanger)
Deep red. Candied cherry on steroids, spice and an undernote of dried blood. Dense, fruity sweetness lifted by acid and alcohol. Marathon finish. Fascinating. (Buy again? Yes.)

Stéphane Tissot suggests chocolate as a pairing for his red Macvin. At the tastings, it was successfully served with squares of Valrhona Guanaja bittersweet chocolate. Further research conducted a few days later found it an unbeatable match with a selection of exquisite chocolate, hazlenut, pistachio and raspberry pastries from Olivier Potier.

Written by carswell

May 15, 2012 at 12:56

MWG April Jura tastings: report (1/6)

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Though sparkling wines have been made in the Jura for decades, the Crémant du Jura AOC was created only in 1995. Styles range from bone dry to off-dry and from fresh to quite oxidized. Some pink crémant is made. The permitted grape varieties are Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir. White crémant is at least half Chardonnay, rosé crémant at least half Pinot Noir or Poulsard. To my mind, these are among the best – and best value – sparklers outside Champagne.

Crémant du Jura 2008, Brut, Rolet Père et Fils ($21.45, 10653380)
Haven’t found any technical information on the 2008. The 2007 was a blend (Chardonnay, with Savagnin and Poulsard making up about 45%) that spent 32 months sur lattes (bottled and stacked with thin strips of wood – think laths – laid between the bottles to stabilize the stacks and minimize damage in the event a bottle explodes).
Flowers, quartz dust, lemon. Very fine bead. Bright fruit (green apple, pear) balances the high acid. Soft effervescence. Long leesy/sourish finish. Pure and refreshing. Great as an aperitif or for sipping on the deck. (Buy again? Sure.)

Crémant du Jura, Jean Bourdy ($27.00, La QV)
The estate has been organic “since the start” (quoting Jean-François Bourdy), which in this case means since the 15th century, biodynamic since 2006. 100% Chardonnay.
The very model of a crémant du Jura. Floral, lemony nose with a hint of toast and nuts. Light, fine bead. Dry. Fruit and brioche shot through with minerals and racy acidity. Clean, softly effervescent finish. Lovely on its own but perhaps even better with food. (Buy again? Yep.)

Crémant du Jura, BBF, André et Mireille Tissot ($33.54, Les Vins Alain Bélanger)
The BBF stands for blanc de blancs élevé en fût. Three-quarters of this 100% biodynamic Chardonnay crémant spends a year in barrels. After blending, it is aged another 52 months sur lattes before disgorgement. Extra brut, with no dosage.
A shade or two darker than the other wines: yellow, verging on gold, with fine, long-lasting bubbles. Complex nose with hints of puff pastry, vanilla cream, dried banana and caramel. Winey texture. Fruit (browning apple), straw and mineral flavours are lifted by bright acidity and tingling effervescence. Very dry, despite the richness. The long, bitter-edged finish has a lingering floral note. The wine’s size and savour make it better suited as an accompaniment to food than as an aperitif. Considering that many champagnes would pale in comparison, it delivers great QPR. (Buy again? As soon as I can lay my hands on some, which will probably be in December, when the next shipment arrives.)

Written by carswell

April 28, 2012 at 19:20