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Posts Tagged ‘Loire

Unmissable Muscadet

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Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2015, Clos de la Butte, Éric Chevalier ($19.65, 12886831)
After spending a decade sourcing grapes for a négociant in the Tourraine, Éric Chevallier returned to his family estate, Domaine de l’Aujardière, in 2005. His father, a highly regarded grape grower, was set to retire. Éric took the helm somewhat reluctantly but soon found himself challenged and rewarded by the task. He began converting his 28 hectares of vineyards to organic in 2016. This bottling is 100% Melon de Bourgogne from 50-year-old vines planted in serpentinite, eclogite and quartz in the La Butte lieu-dit. The grapes are pneumatically pressed and the must transferred to glass-lined tanks. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight to 10 months on the lees with regular stirring. Unracked and unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Subtle, nuanced, complex nose: quartzy granite, sea beach sand, pear, faint lemon, straw and a hint of marzipan. Clean and unassertive on the attack. Super dry. Not a lot of fruit though plenty of extract and tons of minerals, all carried on a stream of fluent acidity. The flavours turn rainwatery on the mid-palate and swell on the finish: pear, wax and tangy salted butter, with a faint bitterness adding intrigue. More than just an outstanding here-now Muscadet, this is one of the best under-$20 whites currently available at the SAQ. Excellent as an aperitif but also with mollusks and white fish. I look forward to trying Chevalier’s Fié Gris and La Noë bottlings, both private imports.  (Buy again? A case.)

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Written by carswell

December 7, 2017 at 13:25

Bulles de Germain

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Saumur, Brut, Bulles de Roche, Thierry Germain/Michel Chevré ($33.25, 13059706)
Best known for his Domaine des Roches Neuves bottlings, Thierry Germain also produces wines with his long-time associate and vineyard manager Michel Chevré, who has acquired his own vineyards. The wines are made in the Roches Neuves cellars. This traditional method sparkler is a blend of Chenin Blanc (90%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Chardonnay (5%) from 60-year-old biodynamically farmed vines rooted in limestone and clay. The still wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and then matured three months in 228-litre used oak barrels. The bottled wine spends nine months on lattes prior to disgorgement. No dosage. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Balthazard.

Pale gold with tiny bubbles and quickly disappearing foam. Expressive nose of quartz, candied apple, raisin brioche and honey. Medium-bodied, intense and very dry, with a fine, caressing, evanescing effervescence. Shot through with minerals (“lots of salinity”) and vibrant acidity, the ripe fruit (apple and pear mainly) lasts well into the long, bitterish finish. Intense. Some tasters detected a vague “stemmy” or “something vegetal” note but, if there was one, it was very low key. There’s been considerable variation in the four bottles of this I’ve tasted, some coming across as mineral-driven, others as more about the fruit. In all iterations, however, it’s been a wine with real presence and a lot of class. (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

November 7, 2017 at 11:57

Tempting

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Côte Roannaise 2015, Gamay Tentation, Vincent Giraudon ($25.20, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay (technically Gamay Saint Romain, a local variant with small oval berries that have a high ratio of skins to juice) from organically farmed vines rooted in granitic soil. Manually harvested. Carbonic maceration and fermentation take place in concrete tanks. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Fun nose: candied raspberry, slate, dried peppermint, clay mud, jalapeño. Light- to medium-bodied, with juicy ripe fruit, a mineral underlay, featherweight tannins, luminous acidity and an appealing earthy streak. Good length. Very, very drinkable. Every time I start wondering whether I’ve reached peak Gamay, a wine like this comes along. (Buy again? Um, yes.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 6 of 9

Written by carswell

November 2, 2017 at 12:16

Bonhomme seul

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A former apprentice at Clos du Tue-Bœuf, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme ran a négociant business with his friend, Tue-Bœuf’s Thierry Puzzelat. In 2014, following the retirement of his brother Jean-Marie, Thierry began devoting himself full time to Tue-Bœuf and sold all his shares in the négoce to Pierre-Olivier. The wines are now labelled with only Bonhomme’s name. All the grapes are from vines owned by friends; Pierre-Olivier either purchases the grapes outright or rents the vineyards. The farming is organic but uncertified as such.

Touraine 2015, La Tesnière, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (ca. $31, private import, NLA)
Menu Pinot (aka Arbois, 80%) and Chenin Blanc (20%) from co-planted vines grown in flinty clay over hard limestone near the hamlet of La Tesnière. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 228- and 500-litre vats. Matured 12 months in barrel. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Pear, apple, beeswax and powdered ginger on the effusive nose. Complex and layered in the mouth. The rich fruit and mineral substrate are brilliantly illuminated by fluent acidity. The silky texture lasts well into the long finish with its lingering hints of vanilla caramel. A delicious, complete wine that Steve declares “the best ever.” (Buy again? Yes.)

Touraine 2014, KO, In Côt We Trust, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (ca. $27, private import, NLA)
Côt (aka Malbec) and nothing but. Manually harvested. Fermented on the stems with indigenous yeasts. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Intriguing nose of dark fruit, “wet clay,” “withered flowers” (including rose), ink and “raw doner.” Light- to medium-bodied yet surprisingly intense. A swirl of forest berries, dark minerals and fleet acidity overtoned with spice and leafmould. The long, tart, earthy finish has you craving another sip. The quaffability quotient is dangerously high. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

October 17, 2017 at 14:28

AOC shunners

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Vin de table 2014, Zacmau, Causse Marines ($35.62, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Mauzac from organically and biodynamically farmed 90-year-old vines in Gaillac. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks. Maturated in stainless steel tanks and, on the lees with regular stirring, in barrels (30-50%). Fined and filtered only on an as-needed basis. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Striking nose of apple, sushi, “pumpkin,” and flat champagne. Smooth and rich in the mouth, with lowish acidity. The “loose attack” gives way to a savoury-overtoned, limestoney mid-palate. Not a lot of depth but a certain opulence and a great complexity of flavours, with tasters noting “apple compote,” “dried white flowers” and “propolis” among other things. Long finish. Fascinating. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de France 2015, Le Pont Bourceau, Les Roches Sèches ($31.38, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Technically an Anjou blanc. 100% Chenin Blanc from organically farmed vines planted in 1973. Manually harvested. Direct pressed. Vinified and matured in tanks for around 12 months. Filtered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Attractive nose of pear, quince and quartzy limestone. Rich, fruity and dry in the mouth. The smooth surface is unperturbed by the pervasive acidity. Great minerality. Honey overtones. Fundamentally savoury. Very long. Intense yet civilized. Delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Written by carswell

October 10, 2017 at 12:35

Luxe quaffer

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Cheverny 2016, Rouillon, Clos du Tue-Bœuf ($32.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The wine is named after the site where the grapes are grown, itself named after the “rust-coloured” (rouille) clay soil. A 50-50 blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir from organically farmed, co-planted vines averaging 20 years of age and rooted in a single, 1.9 ha plot of limestone-rich clay and flint. The grapes are harvested at the same time and co-fermented. Whole-cluster semi-carbonic maceration. Matured six months in 500-litre demi-muids. Nothing added, including sulphur. Unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.

Slate, violet, red berries with leaves, hints of turned earth and spice. Medium-bodied and fluid. Possessed of a velours-like texture, bright acidity and fine, lightly astringent tannins. Good, clean finish with lingering fruit and slate. A bit rakish but also charming and so very drinkable. Probably not an ager. In the best of all possible worlds, this would be $10 cheaper, not that I’m complaining about the price, as the wine puts a lot of similarly priced Burgundies to shame. (Buy again? For sure.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 2 of 9

Written by carswell

October 7, 2017 at 15:25

Jaune and jauneish

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Vin de France 2011, 3.11, Bertin-Delatte ($38.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in 2008, the three-hectare estate is based in Rablay-sur-Layon. This 100% Chenin Blanc is from organically farmed young vines. The grapes, which normally would have been used for the flagship L’Échalier bottling, are harvested by hand and gently pressed. Barrel-fermented and -matured. The barrels were not topped up and a veil of yeast formed on the surface, much like on a vin jaune. This one-off experiment spent five years in the barrel. Unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur is minimal. Three barrels (800 bottles) were made; that and the last two digits of the vintage explain the name. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Typically oxidized nose of nutty yellow fruit but maybe not as complex or opulent as a good vin jaune’s. Lovely on the palate: sleek textured, lightly oxidized, clean fruited and minerally with great acidity, freshness and length. “Très chenin” and “great Chenin character” note other tasters. More than just a curiosity. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Jura 2009, Vin Jaune, Domaine Pignier ($102.10/620 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the 13th century and in the hands of the Pignier family since 1794, the estate is located in the commune of Montaigu in the southern Jura. 100% Savagnin from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in clayey calcareous marl with Lias slate. Manually harvested. Fermented and matured in untopped-up oak barrels under a yeast veil for seven years. No added yeast. No chaptalization or racking. Bottled according to the lunar calendar. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
On the nose, it’s a beautiful, subtle mix of nuts, yellow fruit, straw and white minerals. In the mouth, it’s a perfect balance between the pure fruit, fine acidity and imposing minerality. Not as oxidized as some but elegant, “accessible” and “super fresh.” (Buy again? If feeling flush, yes.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 9 of 9

Written by carswell

September 3, 2017 at 14:05