Brett happens

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Posts Tagged ‘Loire

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

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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

Cab Franc three ways

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Though they don’t come from a wine-making family, brothers Fabien and Cyril Boisard founded Domaine du Mortier in 1996 when they both were in their teens. Their holdings comprise around 12 hectares of vineyards in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and a recently acquired three hectares in Bourgueil. Farming is organic-leaning-biodynamic, harvesting is by hand and none of the wines is chaptalized.

Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2015, Les Sables, Domaine du Mortier ($27.23, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc from seven parcel of mostly young vines in sandy soil. Whole-bunch fermentation takes place in 70 hl concrete vats. Lees from earlier vintages are used to start the fermentation. Pump-overs with minimum oxygen uptake are performed for five or 10 minutes a day. Matured on the lees for about six months. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny amount of sulphur (16 mg/l) is added at bottling. 12.27% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Red and black berries, coffee, dried meat, slate, pepper, distant barnyard. Medium-bodied and so very drinkable. A mouthful of tart fruit, dark minerals, lively acidity, super-supple tannins. Dry and wonderfully pure. Nothing deep or complex (a function of soil and vine age), just good, clean fun. The easiest-drinking Cabernet Franc I’ve encountered in a coon’s age. (Buy again? Done!)

Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2014, Dionysos, Domaine du Mortier ($32.89, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines rooted in gravel over tuffeau. Manually harvested. Gently destemmed, gently pressed and given around 25 days’ maceration on the skins. Barrel-fermented using indigenous yeasts. Matured eight months in old oak barrels. 13.35% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Darker nose of red berries and slate with meat and vegetal notes. Full and round in the mouth, packed with remarkably juicy fruit. Firm tannins bestow a velour-like texture, bright acidity a bit of a bite. The bedrock minerality rumbles through the long, spicy finish. The winemakers feel this often needs a couple of years before it hits its stride and drinks well for six to eight years beyond that. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin de France 2014, 180 jours, Domaine du Mortier ($63.79, private import, 6 bottles/case)
VdF because the brothers feel it wouldn’t be accepted by the AOC authorities and because it leaves them free to supplement Saint-Nicolas grapes with fruit from their holdings in Bourgueil. Cabernet Franc from 60- to 70-year-old vines in tuffeau. Whole-bunch fermented and macerated in old barrels for 180 days, with the barrel being tightly closed, not topped-up and turned once daily during fermentation; after 180 days, the barrel is taken apart so the wine and skins can be transferred to the press. After pressing, the wine is matured in new barrels for another 180 days. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13.5% ABV. Due to the small quantities made, the wine is normally sold only at the winery, a limit of 12 bottles per customer is imposed and, reportedly, none is exported. Bravo to Martin Landry for scoring a few cases for Quebec. Quebec agent: WINO
Much darker and denser than its flightmates. Complex, funky nose: old wood, dark fruit and minerals, “animale,” “green olives,” “the stuff you scoop out of a squash” and more. Rich and dark yet somehow fresh. So complex and layered, so plush and chewy. Superbly structured with velvety tannins, glowing acidity and mineral depth. Great length. Complete, elegant, accessible. A big wine but so not the overextracted monster I was fearing it would be. Just wow. (Buy again? Just yes.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

August 31, 2017 at 13:48

Gamay de soif

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Touraine 2015, Gamay, Domaine Courtault Tardieux ($22.45, private import, 12 bottles/case)
After stints as a university student and briefly as a social worker, winemaker Simon Tardieux, who had spent time as a teenager working at the late, lamented Clos Roche Blanche, teamed up with Alain Courtault, a neighbour who had vines and was converting to organic agriculture. Located due east of the Thésée post office and less than a mile from the Cher river, the 15-hecatre estate specializes in vins de soif, thirst quenchers made from Cabernet Franc, Côt, Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis and Sauvignon Blanc. This 100% Gamay comes from organically farmed 50-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Whole-bunch maceration and fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. A small amount of sulphur dioxide was added at bottling. Bottled in March 2016. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Light, winey, floral nose showing some sour berries and leaves and background funk. Light- to medium-bodied, gauzy tannined and acid bright. Not as plush-fruity as, say, a Morgon, but remarkably minerally and fluid, especially on the mid-palate. A faint lactic note on the finish prompts “cherry yogurt” from one of the assembled. Fresh, clean, tasty and so, so drinkable. Definitely a Gamay but definitely not a Beaujolais. (Buy again? Um, it’s irresistible.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 6 of 9

Written by carswell

August 29, 2017 at 13:11

Winey dancer

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Vin de France 2015, La Danseuse, Bainbridge and Cathcart ($32.34, private import, 6 bottles/case)
British expat Tony Bainbridge and his American wife Julie worked in wine and ESL in Burgundy before moving to the Loire, where Tony initially held a job at Domaine Mosse. In 2007, with the help of Ali and Rob Cathcart, the couple acquired 4.2 hectares of vineyards in Faye d’Anjou and Chavagnes les Eaux. Total production is around 6,500 bottles. This rosé sparkler is 100% Grolleau from organically farmed grapes. The grapes are manually harvested, given a short maceration on the skins and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Fermentation continues in the bottles, which are riddled and eventually disgorged. Unfiltered, unfined and, like all the estate’s wines, bottled in a clear champagne bottle and closed with a crown cap. The name (“the dancer”) refers to the barrel of wine that, back in the day, a vigneron would set aside for his mistress. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Delightful nose of strawberry pastry, “rugelach” (per another taster), a touch of arugula and yeast. Clean and dryish in the mouth, with bright-verging-on-tart acidity cutting any residual sugar. Tiny prickly bubbles add texture and lift. The load of minerals makes the wine taste more white than red, despite the beguiling strawberry overtones. Some caramel cream creeps in on the finish. Fresh, lip-smacking and super-drinkable. (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Written by carswell

August 25, 2017 at 12:11

Character analysis

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Vin de France 2015, Kharaktêr, Domaine Le Briseau ($42.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
After abandoning an estate in Vouvray, the late Christian Chaussard met and married Natalie Gaubicher and, with her, set up shop in the Jasnières/Coteaux-du-Loir region, first by founding a small négociant firm (Nana Vins et Cie) and then by acquiring vineyards of their own. The farming is biodynamic and the wine-making tends natural. 100% Chenin Blanc from organically and biodynamically farmed 50-year-old vines in the Jasnières AOC. Manually harvested. The grapes are gently pressed. The juice is clarified by settling and racking. Vinified with indigenous yeasts and bacteria. Malolactic fermentation is allowed. Matured nine months in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered. No added anything except a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Draws-you-in nose of maple réduit*, corn silk, poached quince, “grapefruit,” chalk, linden flowers, a touch of honey and, eventually, “pancake batter.” Very dry. The mouth-filling flavours echo the nose. There’s a certain weightiness to the wine yet it’s fleet on its feet due to the faint spritz, sleek but sustained acidity and flood of minerals. Lovely bitter notes join the fruit on the long, saline finish. Improves with time in the glass so carafing is probably in order. (Buy again? Yes, though not without wishing it were $7-10 cheaper.)

*réduit is maple sap that has been reduced in an evaporator but is only about halfway to maple syrup. It can, among other things, be added to drinks and used as a cooking medium (e.g. Martin Picard’s exquisite lobster poached in réduit). For more information, consult your local sugar shack operator or the Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack Cookbook.

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

August 23, 2017 at 13:54