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Posts Tagged ‘Mid-priced

Rosé de beauté

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Corse Calvi 2016, Rosé, Pumonte, Domaine d’Alzipratu ($31.75, 12829182)
100% Sciacarello from vines planted on the high granitic slopes of the Pumonte lieu-dit on the Île de Beauté. No pesticides or herbicides are used. Manually harvested. Half the wine is made using the saignée method and the other half is direct-pressed. Fermented with selected indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Pink grapefruit, sun-baked rock, faint dried herbs and a whiff of vodka-marinated cherries, becoming more effusive as its breathes, gaining floral and spice notes. Slightly oily – or maybe honeyed – in the mouth. The subtle, elegant fruit (strawberry, peach, grapefruit) is set against a backdrop of quartzy minerals. Dry but not bone-dry, with acidity that keeps things fresh but doesn’t draw attention to itself. Turns aromatic at the back of the palate. A stream of bitterness and astringency surfaces on the long finish, while umami, cherry and seashells linger. Impressive. Not an aperitif wine: a rosé gastronomique if ever there were one. Revisited the next day, the tail end of the bottle tasted flat and alcoholic, so maybe not a keeper. (Buy again? Yes, especially as I missed out on the Fiumeseccu.)

Written by carswell

August 11, 2017 at 11:42

Posted in Tasting notes

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Francs et graves

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Côtes de Bordeaux Francs 2014, Emilien, Château le Puy ($28.15, 00709469)
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère (typically 85%, 14% and 1% respectively) from biodynamically and organically farmed 50-year-old vines. The grapes are fully destemmed. Fermentation in open, temperature-controlled vats with indigenous yeasts and no chaptalization lasts two to four weeks. Matured 14 months in large foudres and 11 months in third- to fifth-fill oak casks. Bottled unfiltered with only a small dose of sulphur. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. A few 500 ml bottles of the 2012 can also be found ($20.75, 00896399). Quebec agent: A.O.C.
Intriguing nose that gets the aroma-namers going: plum, “edamame,” “nigella,” “pickled turnip juice.” Medium-bodied. The pure fruit and graphite underlay are nicely structured by fine, firm tannins and bright acidity. Finishes long and clean with faint notes of tobacco and spice. This perennial favourite is true to form in 2014: a savoury, refreshing, eminently drinkable wine that everybody always enjoys. The QPR is high on this one. (Buy again? Yep.)

Graves 2015, Clos 19 Bis/Vincent Quirac ($31.05, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the late 2000s, the tiny (1.5 hectare) estate makes a Sauternes and a red Graves. The latter is a blend of Merlot (around 50%), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old and rooted in gravelly soil over a clayey-calcareous base. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified separately. The Merlot is cold-macerated before fermentation for a week, the Cabernets are directly fermented. Fermentation at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts, punch-downs and pour-overs (using buckets, not pumps) lasts 10 days. The wine is then left on it skins for another eight to 10 days. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vini-Vins.
Cherry, cassis, “cocoa powder and ashes” and a strong whiff of volatile acidity. Quite disjointed in the mouth, with a harsh verging on acrid note, a problem that airing and swirling didn’t resolve. Bears little resemblance to the fresh, clean, juicy-fruited, mineral-laden, roundly structured, medium-bodied wine enjoyed a few days earlier. Clearly defective and, as such, a disappointment. (Buy again? Based on the earlier bottle, yes.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

August 9, 2017 at 15:22

Rosés de Provence

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Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2016, Château Vignelaure ($24.50, 12374149)
Grenache (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Syrah (30%) from organically farmed vines averaging 25 years old and rooted in pebbly clayey-calcareous soil. Manually harvested. Saignée method after two hours’ maceration for the Grenache; direct pressing for the Cab and Syrah. The must is chilled to 10°C and allowed to settle for 48 hours. Fermented at low temperature (17°C) and matured in stainless steel tanks except for 7% of the Cab, which is aged in a 400-litre new oak barrel. Maturation on the lees with regular stirrings lasts three months. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: LBV International.
Rubber bands, straw, yogurt, background minerals and a hint of chile; look for it and you’ll find some stone fruit and red berries. Clean, pure and very dry on the palate, with low-key fruit, good acidity, a long bitter-edged, pink grapefruity finish and a lingering pastry note. Not particularly complex – and not quite the equal of the impressive 2014 – but tasty enough. (Buy again? Sure.)

Bandol 2016, Rosé, Domaine du Gros ’Noré ($32.25, 12931021)
Mourvèdre (50%), Cinsault (35%) and Grenache (15%) from vines averaging 30 years old. Farming is organic though not certified as such. Manually harvested. The Cinsault and Grenache are macerated 24 hours at 10°C, then pressed. The juice is combined with direct-pressed Mouvèdre juice and fermented. Reducing sugar: 2.1 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Saltine crackers, “far-away Creamsicle” and lipstick give way to garrigue and minerals. “Fresh and dewy” in the mouth. Veils more than layers of fruit, sleek acidity, mineral depth and a a long, faintly bitter finish. “A bit more moreish than the Vignelaure,” notes one taster. Drinkable indeed. Will almost certainly gain complexity and presence with a year or two in the cellar. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes de Provence 2015, Rosé, Cuvée Clarendon, Domaine Gavoty ($27.65, 11231867)
This saignée method rosé is a blend of Grenache (70%), Cinsault (15%) and Syrah (15%) from vines rooted in clay and limestone. The grapes, which were vinified separately, were macerated in a vat for three to six hours. The free-run juice was drawn off and combined with the first-pressing juice, chilled and racked into stainless steel tanks for temperature-controlled (17°C) fermentation, which lasted two to four weeks. The various batches were sampled and selected in January 2016 and blended, with the best lots set aside for the Clarendon. Reducing sugar: 2.7 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vini-Vins.
Closed, minerally nose that, with coaxing, gives up notes of flan and red berries. Sweeter and flabbier than its flightmates, though improving with time in the glass. Fruitier too, bringing nectarine and strawberry to mind. A stronger acidic and mineral backbone would be welcome. Decent finish. Maybe time in the cellar or a carafe will help? At this point, not up to earlier vintages. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

July 29, 2017 at 13:07

Two misses and a hit

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Bandol 2016, Blanc, Domaine de l’Olivette ($26.05, 10884559)
Clairette (80%), Rolle (aka Vermentino, 10%) and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano, 10%). Manually harvested. After destemming, the grapes are cold-macerated on their skins, then pressed. Fermentation in oak vats is at low temperatures for about two weeks. The resulting wine is chilled and allowed to clarify by settling. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vins de Châteaux.
Complex nose: “sweaty” (per another taster) with notes of fired minerals, dried flowers (linden), almond pastry cream, “straw fruit,” “celery salt” and more. Rich and round in the mouth and “a bit reductive.” The combination of highish extract and lowish acidity means the wine comes across as lethargic, a little flabby, “kind of flat” and “gassy.” The appealing nose and minerality aside, not a strong showing. A disappointment then, especially as I and others in the group have enjoyed earlier vintages. (Buy again? Meh.)

Bandol 2015, Blanc, Domaine la Suffrene ($26.45, 11903491)
A 50–50 blend of Clairette and Ugni Blanc from vines averaging 35 to 40 years old. Manually harvested. To increase flavour extraction, the crushed grapes are kept on their skins for 12 hours at 8°C before pressing. After clarification by settling, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks for around 15 days at around 19°C, then racked into other tanks for fining and maturation. Filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Les Sélections Vin-Coeur.
Lemon and peach blossom, apple and honey. Rich on the palate but more fluid than the Olivette. Quite dry and minerally though turning fruitier on the long finish. Soft-glow acidity and a lingering bitterness complete the picture which, unfortunately, became less interesting as the wine breathed and warmed. Again, a wine that doesn’t seem equal to earlier vintages. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Bandol 2016, Blanc, Domaine du Gros’Noré ($34.00, 12206989)
A 70-30 blend of Ugni Blanc and Clairette from organically (uncertified) farmed vines averaging 30 years old. The must is macerated on the skins for 24 hours, then fermented at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lovely, wafting nose of white grapefruit, fired quartz, lemon flower and a “kaffir-like herbaceous note.” Clean and fluid with smooth acidity. Very minerally, especially on the finish. Dry, layered, long and savoury. “Apple seed bitterness” linger. Became better as it warmed and breathed. We have a winner. Try this with the winemaker’s recommended pairing: grilled mussels with rosemary (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

July 28, 2017 at 12:01

Chenintastic

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The first in a series of notes from a recent mostly new arrivals tasting that featured several impressive wines purchased abroad and shared by travelling Mo’ Wine Group members.

Saumur 2010, Entre Deux Voyes, Le P’tit Domaine (ca. $30, importation valise)
Based in Varrains and Ecoert certified in 2012, the tiny estate (around two hectares of vines) is owned and operated by Richard Desouche, the manager at Château de Chaintres. It makes three wines: two reds and a white. This 100% Chenin Blanc, the fifth vintage of the wine, comes from organically farmed old vines rooted in clayey-calcareous soil. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured in old barrels. 12% ABV.

Intriguingly evolved nose of quartz dust, ham fat, lemon and hazelnut. Medium-bodied and every so faintly spritzy. Ripe, almost sweet-seeming, but actually dry and very saline. The level of extract gives the wine a certain density and a bordering-on-waxy texture, a prefect foil for the trenchant acidity and super minerality. “Like a green apple with salt,” notes one taster. The depth and breath are sustained through the very long, bitter-, lemon- and almond-noted finish. A treat. (Buy again? If only…)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

July 20, 2017 at 10:54

Notes from the edges

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Vin de Sologne 2014, Quartz, Domaine Étienne Courtois ($39.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located in the Sologne, Étienne and his father Claude make wines exclusively using ancestral methods and sometimes run afoul of authorities. Farming is strictly organic and biodynamic. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc comes from 15-year-old vines. Manually harvested, destemmed and gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in oak barrels for 12 to 24 months. 11.7% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Striking, complex nose of turpentine, “eucalyptus,” “wild ginger,” California bay leaf, dried lemon, quartz crystals and parafin. A core of fruit (“candied lemon”) and more (“braised fennel”) wrapped in salt, energized by bright acidity. Good balance and length and real mineral depth. “The best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever had,” declares one taster. That said, I don’t imagine most people tasting it double-blind would guess it’s a Sauvignon Blanc. Whatever. It’s spellbinding. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Troma-Onirique, François Écot ($38.15, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in Mailly-le-Château in the Yonne department of northeastern Burgundy, François Écot not only runs, with his American wife, a natural wine agency in New York City, he makes wines using grapes from an abandoned one-hectare vineyard that he resurrected. This 100% Aligoté, however, comes from purchased biodynamically and organically farmed (though not certified) grapes. Manually harvested. Vinified and matured eight months in foudres, fûts and amphorae. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
The nose prompts comments along the lines of chalk quarry, “match stick,” “waxy” and lemon juice. A sip reveals a rich and minerally wine with a mouthfeel as much like a Chardonnay’s as an Aligoté’s. There’s some surprisingly juicy fruit, bright but smooth acidity, impressive purity and depth and a long, minerally finish. It’s still a surprise to see a $40 price tag on an Aligoté, but that’s what the top wines go for these days. And this is definitely a top wine. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux Bourguignons 2015, Pinot Beurot, Domaine Bouillot Salomon ($32.20, private import, 12 bottles/case)
This admirable northern Rhône estate recently acquired 2.7 hectares of vineyards west of Dijon. 100% Pinot Beurot (aka Pinot Gris) from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in clayey-calcareous soil. Manually harvested. Non-interventionist wine-making with no added anything, including sulphur. Matured in stainless steel and cement tanks. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Pear, minerals and more than a hint of reduction, which other tasters describe as “durian” and “cow piss and camomile.” Smooth, round and dry in the mouth. Soft acidity enlivens the verging-on-unctuous texture and brings welcome freshness. There’s a certain minerality and some white spice and butter on the long finish. Not a wine that will have Alsace quaking in its boots but more than just a curiosity. Carafe it at least a couple of hours before serving if drinking now or hide it in the cellar for a two or three years. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

July 12, 2017 at 13:29

White orange

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Vipavska Dolina 2015, Bela, Burja ($37.60, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Istrian Malvasia (30%), Welschriesling (30%), Ribola Gialla (30%) and unspecified other varieties from biodynamically farmed vines grown in the Vipava Valley and ranging from 25 to 75 years in age. Macerated on the skins for eight days before pressing. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured in 25 to 50 hl Slavonian oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.

To all appearances, not an orange wine; the skin contact may add complexity and depth but the colour is lighter and more golden than, say, the Konkret Weiss, the nose is aromatic without being particularly estery/phenolic and if tannins are to be found, they escaped my notice. So, what are the aromatics? Preserved lemon, white pepper, quartz, maybe a floral note. In the mouth, the wine is very dry and savoury. The fruit takes a back seat to the minerals and a surprisingly intense salinity while sleek if sustained acidity counters the oily texture. The finish is long and vapourous. A food wine if ever there were one and probably a bottle that won’t suffer from a few years in the cellar. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

July 8, 2017 at 12:00