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Posts Tagged ‘Mid-priced

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

Branco and bianco

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Lisboa 2015, António, Casal Figueira ($35.03, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Vital from ungrafted, 60- to 100-year-old vines. After destemming, the grapes and placed in barrels for fermentation and eight to 10 months’ maturation on the fine lees. Lightly filtered. A tiny amount of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Subtle, nuanced nose suggestive of lemon, quince and white minerals. Subtle and minerally on the palate, too, with veils of white fruit, citrus, honey and wax. Enlivened by fresh acidity. So light yet so intense and pure. Finishes clean and long. Super with Lucky Limes. Steve says this estate’s wines are among the most vintage-driven he’s encountered, with each year bringing a new experience. Well, the 2015 experience is most impressive. (Buy again? Yes.)

Marche Bianco 2016, Terre Silvate, La Distesa ($27.68, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Mostly Verdicchio with small abounts of Trebbiano and Malvasia. The manually harvested grapes come from organically and semi-biodynamically farmed vines in two plots in the Castelli dei Jesi appellation. Part of the juice is left to macerate on the skins for several days. Co-fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured five to six months. No added anything except minimal amounts of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Burned minerals, hay, apple and “chickpeas.” Rich and extracted. Ripe-sweet apple on the attack gives way to citrus and a load of minerals with a definite saline streak. Soft acidity adds just enough buoyancy. Long, minerally finish with incipient honey and almond notes. Fresh, engaging and speaking of its place. A favourite of many around the table, including me. (Buy again? If the Quebec allocation weren’t sold out, absolutely.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

October 8, 2017 at 11:45

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

Three Macedonian flagships

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The Macedonia in question is the region of northern Greece, not the Republic of Macedonia.

Epanomi 2014, Avaton, Domaine Gerovassiliou ($40.25, 11901111)
A blend of Limnio (40%), Mavroudi (40%) and Mavrotragano (20%). Manually harvested. Fermented in neutral barrels. After malolactic fermentation is completed, the wine is transferred to French oak barrels (50% new) for 18 months’ maturation. Reducing sugar: 3.0 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Nose of very ripe black raspberry, dark cherry and plum overtoned with earth and spice. Full-bodied and dry. Full of jammy, sweet fruit. Round tannins and smooth acidity provide some structure and texture. Gains meat and spice notes on the mid-palate and chocolate on the long finish. A bit heavy and unrelenting: probably better in four or five years but also probably never  refreshing. Seems bigger, more modern and more international in style than some earlier vintages. (Buy again? Maybe next vintage.)

Macedonia 2015, Terre et Ciel, Domaine Thymiopoulos ($31.25, 11814368)
100% Xinomavro from three parcels of organically farmed 45- to 75-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel vats with native yeasts. Matured in a mix of Burgundy barrels (20% new). Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with a small squirt of sulphur dioxide. Reducing sugar: 3.6 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Complex, savoury, evolving nose of “wine gums,” “soy sauce,” “pickled beets” and coffee beans segueing into cherry, “Worcestershire” and, unfortunately, a streak of volatile acidity that wouldn’t dissipate. Smooth and more medium- than full-bodied in the mouth. Good balance between ripe fruit, bright acidity, round tannins and mineral depth. Still, we couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a little off. Bottles opened before and since have been clean and more interesting. (Buy again? Based on other bottles, yes.)

Amyndeon 2012, Xinomavro Reserve, Vieilles Vignes, Alpha Estate ($33.00, 11902940)
100% Xinomavro from 91-year-old vines rooted in sandy clay over limestone. Manually harvested. Destemmed, lightly crushed and cold-macerated. The tank is gradually heated, prompting fermentation to begin. Matured 24 months in French oak casks and 12 months in the bottle. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 4.6 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Univins.
Deep nose: dark fruit, graphite, smoked meat spice and meat, among other things. Full-bodied though unheavy, quite structured though round. The plummy fruit is spiced with star anise, framed by cushy tannins, enlivened by acidity. A “butter cookies” note enriches the long finish. An elegant wine in the prime of its life. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

September 29, 2017 at 15:33

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

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