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Posts Tagged ‘Mid-priced

Cava brava

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Cava 2013, Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Terriers, Recaredo ($39.75, 13319715)
A gift from Cyril in honour of the Mo’ Wine Group’s revival. Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada (reportedly 59%, 42% and 4% respectively) from biodyanmically farmed vines rooted in highly calcareous, loamy soil. Whole-cluster fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Around 10% of the blend was aged in oak casks. Bottled with neutral Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast for second fermentation and matured 53 months on the lees. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. Quebec agent: La QV.

The dense white foam disappears fast leaving a fine bead. Lemon, stone fruit, crushed shells and a whiff of yeasty brioche dominate the nose. In the mouth, the wine is bone-dry, minerally, tight, even a little austere. There’s a certain heft though the tiny bubbles and sleek acidity provide plenty of lift and life. A hint of oxidation tinges the citrus and yellow apple fruit on the long, savoury finish. Absolutely impeccable cava, unfazed by coming after a flight of orange wines and sending us off with revived palates and renewed energy. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 20th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

April 29, 2019 at 11:45

Skin or not

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Kakheti 2016, Chinuri No Skin, Pheasant’s Tears ($43.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chinuri. Direct pressed (no maceration) but still made in large beeswax-lined qvevri sunk into the ground. Spontaneous fermentation. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Subtle nose: white fruit (pear?), quartz, a faint floral note. Medium-bodied. Very dry though fruity enough that that’s not immediately apparent. Smooth on entry, then the tingly acidity kicks in. The fruit is more citrus than, say, stone and the sustained finish is mineral-laden. Clean, crisp, refreshing and more complex than it initially seems. Cyril, who visited Georgia recently, says this wine is magnificent after 10 years or longer in the bottle. (Buy again? Def.)

Kakheti 2017, Rkatsiteli Bodbiskhevi, Pheasant’s Tears ($39.55, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Rkatsiteli from the village of Bodbiskhevi. Spent 30 days on the skins. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Bronze to the eye. Fragrant, savoury nose: ramen, apple and apricot skins, dried sawdust. Pronounced tannins and fluent acidity structure the fruit (peach leather?) and confer a slightly grippy texture. Herbal overtones and mineral undertones add savour and depth. A touch of nuttiness (walnut skins?) emerges on the long finish. Complex, flavourful, engaging and about as close to a classic Georgian orange wine as you’re likely to get. (Buy again? Yep.)

Kakheti 2016, Rkatsiteli, Pheasant’s Tears ($44.80, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Rkatsiteli. Reportedly spent about a month on the skins. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Hazy, even turbid beige. Odd nose with a plastic note that opens up to yellow fruit, white minerals and straw. In the mouth, it’s a bit spritzy, perlant as the French say, and fuller-bodied than you might expect. Fruity but dry, with zingy acidity and faint tannins. Overtoned with herbs and dried flowers. Little if any oxidation but a long, clean, tangy finish. So charming. (Buy again? Yep.)

Yet another set of excellent wines from Pheasant’s Tears. The only downside is the prices, which have taken a jump well in excess of 10%. Cyril says that’s primarily because the SAQ, which imports the wines into Quebec, doesn’t have a pickup point in Georgia or environs, meaning the wines have to transit through a country that does. Earlier shipments have gone through Sweden, which, as a non-member of the Eurozone, doesn’t charge Eurozone tariffs. This current shipment transited through Italy, which does.

MWG March 20th tasting: flight 6 of 7

Mallorca in a glass

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Based in Felantix, Mallorca, 4 Kilos Vinicola was founded in the summer of 2006 by winemaker Francesc Grimalt and musician Sergio Caballero, both natives of the island. To start up operations, each partner invested a modest 4 million piestas; colloquially in Spanish a kilo is one million, hence the bodega’s name. Though 4 Kilos now has a proper winery (a converted sheep barn), its first wines were made in a garage. The vineyards – 15 hectares owned by the winery and others belonging to independent grape growers – are scattered across the north and south of the island, meaning all the wines bear the broad VDT Mallorca designation. Farming is sustainable and increasingly organic. Gravelly clay soil predominates. Wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Callet, Fogoneu, Manto Negro, Merlot, Monastrell and Syrah.

Vino de la terra de Mallorca 2016, 12 Volts, 4 Kilos ($37.55, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The striking label is the work of Gary Baseman. While earlier vintages included some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, this is 100% Callet, an indigenous red variety, from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Half the grapes were fermented in stainless steel, half in 2,500-litre wood vats. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and 225-litre oak barrels. The various lots were blended and the resulting wine matured 12 months in French oak barrels. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Lovely, inviting nose: cherry, earth, herbs and spice. Medium- to Full-bodied but not heavy, smooth but not lacking acidity. Clean, sun-ripe fruit, fine, pervasive tannins and a rumbling of dark minerals fill the mouth. The oak is nicely integrated, one component among many. Finishes long with lingering spice. Refreshing, food-friendly and easy to drink, what the French call digeste. A crowd-pleaser too. Less international in style than the 2013 and better for it. (Buy again? Yes.)

This private import used to be available at the SAQ. Here’s hoping it makes a return. In the meantime, two other 4 Kilos wines can be found on the monopoly’s shelves: The Island Syndicate ($24.75, 13903487) and Gallinas y Focas ($35.75, 13903479). Cyril was especially enthusiastic about the QPR of the former. Supplies of both are running short, especially in Montreal, but if you’re off island, you might still be able to snag a bottle.

MWG March 20th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

April 20, 2019 at 11:19

Bugey whites

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…and a red.

Not many wine drinkers are aware of the Bugey wine region, which is wedged against the Savoie between Beaujolais and the Jura. And if they are, it’s probably because of Bugey-Cerdon, the off-dry, dark rosé sparkler made from Gamay and sometimes Poulsard. But still wines are also made in Bugey.

The region’s low profile means that it, like parts of the Roussillon, is one of the few places left in France where small start-up winegrowers can afford to buy land. As a result, it is seeing an influx of new vintners. The Decoster Coiffier familiy (Jérémy, Isabelle and two children) is one of them. With the backing of some 30 subscribers, they acquired the six-hectare Domaine Les Cortis just before the harvest in 2016. As the Descoter Coiffiers didn’t make the 2015s that came with the property, 2017 was their third official and second real vintage.

The estate’s five vineyards sit at around 500 metres in altitude. While they are not contiguous, all have stony, predominantly clayey calcareous soil. Mondeuse, Chardonnay, Gamay and Altesse are the main grape varieties; a little Pinot Noir, Corbeau and Chasselas are also grown.

On acquiring the estate, the Coffiers began converting it to organic farming. Wine-making is traditional: the manually harvested grapes are pressed and transferred to stainless steel vats or oak barrels for maceration (only for the reds), fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Sulphur dioxide is limited to a tiny squirt at bottling. Gravity is used in preference to pumping. Annual production is around 25,000 bottles of red, white, sparkling and other wines.

Weather conditions – hail in particular – made 2017 a potentially disastrous vintage for the new owners. Chablis’s renowned De Moor estate, where the couple had worked for many years, took pity and sold them part of its Aligoté harvest, whence the Valorice.

Vin de France 2017, Valorice, Les Cortis ($34.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A 60-40 blend of organically farmed Aligoté from the De Moor estate in Chablis and Chardonnay from Bugey. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Delicious nose of lemon, oats, straw and chalk with a lactic note. Medium-bodied and mouth-filling. The fruit is tensed with tamed but trenchant acidity, grounded in a light minerality. Finishes clean and saline. Such a tonic wine. Seems to embody everything I like and none of the things I dislike about each variety. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bugey 2017, Teraxe, Les Cortis ($34.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Altesse from organically farmed vines. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
More introverted and minerally on the nose than the Valorice, with hints of pear. In the mouth, it’s a round and very dry middleweight carried on a current of smooth acidity. Flavours are neutralish, though there’s an unmissable savour along with pronounced minerality. Good finish. Enjoyable. (Buy again? Sure.)

Bugey 2017, Uzée, Les Cortis ($34.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
80% Gamay and 20% Mondeuse. Matured on the fine lees. Added sulphur dioxide (at bottling): 20 mg/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Nose like a Beaujo’s only with extra minerals. Medium-bodied. The clean and spicy, red berry-leaning fruit is structured by acidity and minerals as much as tannins. The juicy texture turns a little tongue-tingly on the finish. Fun and super drinkable. I’ll gladly take this over many similarly priced Beaujolais. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 20th tasting: flight 2 of 7

Stone fruit

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Of the rising stars of the Greek wine world, Apostolo Thymiopoulos is at or near the top. Still quite young (he just turned 40), he hails from Naoussa in Macedonia, about an hour’s drive west of Thessaloniki. From grapes he grows biodynamically there, he makes several wines that have become big hits in Quebec: the exquisite Rosé de Xinomavro, the ultra-popular, ultra-drinkable Jeunes vignes de Xinomavro, the classy Naoussa and his flagship Terre et ciel (aka Earth and Sky in anglophone countries). If that weren’t enough, he’s also been expanding into new areas, including the entry-level ATMA line and two or three (depending on the vintage) high-end Assyrtikos from Santorini made in collaboration with the Chryssou family of grape growers and sold mainly to well-heeled vacationers at Aegean luxury resorts (he got his feet wet on the island several years ago by helping the Hatzidakis family when winemaker Haridimos was indisposed and also assisted with the 2017 vintage following Haridimos’s untimely death). His latest project revolves around a recently acquired old-vine vineyard in Rapsani, in Thessaly, on the slopes of Mount Olympus, 120 km south of his Naoussa base. Only one wine, a red, is made. This 2015 is the first vintage and it’s a beaut.

Rapsani 2015, Terra Petra, Domaine Thymiopoulos ($31.00, 13509199)
A blend of Xinomavro (40%), Krassato (30%) and Stavroto (30%) from organically dry farmed vines between 15 and 50 years old and grown in one of the highest altitude vineyards in the appellation. The vineyard’s schist and granite subsoil is covered with rolled stones while most of the vines are bush-trained, giving the vineyard a very Châteauneuf-du-Pape-like appearance. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks and matured in large, neutral oak tonneaux for 24 months. Unfiltered and unfined. Added sulphur is kept to a minimum. Comes in an elegant if heavy bottle with a soft wax capsule. Reducing sugar: 3.6 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Intensely aromatic nose of sweet red and black fruit, sandalwood and inky minerals. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied and fluid. As befits a warm vintage, the fruit has a solar character but is in no way jammy or bomby, helped no doubt by the enlivening acidity and finely etched tannins. The fleshy mid-palate reveals a unique and beautiful complex of flavours, including plum, red berries, black fig, herbs (oregano? marjoram?), dark minerals, sweet spice, a dusting of black pepper and hints of olive, tomato and leather. There’s good depth for a young wine and the potential for more to develop. A thread of bitterness unspools through the long, dry finish. Such balance and refinement as well as a quality that has me reaching for “purity” or maybe “clarity” as descriptors. While the wine is drinking beautifully now, it will surely integrate and open over the next five or more years (the 2018 cohort of the Greek winery tour returned raving about a 10-year-old bottle of the Rosé de Xinomavro paired with kid stuffed with its entrails and rice and slow-roasted, so chances are good that this wine will hold up for a decade or two). Substantial enough to accompany grilled or stewed lamb, the acidity cutting knife-like through the fat, but also light enough to go with white meats like veal or rabbit braised with tomato. A world-class wine, maybe my favourite of Apostolo’s reds and undoubtedly one of the best Greek reds I’ve drunk. (Buy again? Done!)

This has been in the system only since the very end of August but it’s disappearing fast. If you’re interested and especially if you’re located in Montreal, don’t dawdle. And keep an eye peeled for the 2016: early reports are that the cooler vintage produced a wine that is, if anything, even finer than the 2015.

Written by carswell

September 17, 2018 at 14:18

Grand Cru

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Written and directed by MWG member David Eng, Grand Cru is a documentary film whose subject is winemaker Pascal Marchand.

Pascal Marchand, an aspiring poet from Montreal, arrived in the mythical land of Burgundy to work the harvest at age 21. Enchanted by the region, he settled there and embarked on an unlikely path to winemaking stardom. Now over 30 years later, he is renowned as an artist and innovator, finding his inspiration in the ancient techniques of the Cistercian monks who meticulously studied and refined Burgundy’s winemaking in the middle ages. Shot over his most difficult year ever, the catastrophic 2016 season which saw devastating frosts, hailstorms and disease in the vineyards, the film is both a love letter and a cautionary tale, as winemakers like Pascal must face the unpredictable and destructive consequences of climate change.

Grand Cru begins its Montreal theatrical run at Cinéma Beaubien this Friday, April 6, at 12:35 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 7:15 p.m. David and Katarina Soukup, the film’s producer, will be present for a Q&A session after the 7:15 screening. The run continues through Wednesday, April 11, with screenings every day at 12:35 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 9:25 p.m.

The film will also be shown at Cinéma Le Clap in Quebec City on April 6 (9:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.) as well as on April 21 and May 4 and 21. Further screenings are slated for Newport Beach (April 30 and May 3) and Toronto (May 11), the last with David and Katarina leading another Q&A (see the Grand Cru website for details).

In March, I attended an advance screening at the ITHQ. Besides the pleasure of meeting Pascal and watching the worthwhile film, we were provided with glasses of three wines from the Marchand-Tawse portfolio. You’ll find notes on them and a comment or two from Pascal after the jump.

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Written by carswell

April 5, 2018 at 11:56

Related by marriage

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A historian by training, Grégory Leclerc did stints as a journalist and marketer before falling into the world of natural wine-making. He purchased his four-hectare estate – downsized from the original 6.5 hectares, named Chahut et Prodiges and located in Chargé in the hills near Amboise in the Tourraine – in 2007. He farms organically and makes wines from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Côt and Grolleau. The land is worked using a tractor, though Leclerc says he may switch to horses at some point. Harvesting is manual. Vinification of the reds involves placing the whole clusters in concrete tanks for two to three weeks with no punch-downs or pump-overs – a form of carbonic maceration, what? Pressing is slow and gentle. The wines are unfined and lightly filtered. No sulphur is added to the reds; a tiny amount is added to the whites at bottling.

Anne Paillet, the owner-winemaker of Autour de l’Anne, is married to Greg Leclerc. In 2010, she decided to abandon her corporate career and become a natural winemaker. Wanting to make wines different from her husband’s, she has leased 2.5 hectares of biodynamically farmed vines from Languedoc winemaker Christophe Beau (Domaine Beauthorey in the Pic Saint-Loup region). Harvesting is manual and the grapes are vinified naturally, in concrete tanks with no added anything, in the Languedoc. Wanting to make wines different from your everyday Languedocs, she transports the just-fermented juice to Leclerc’s cellars in the Loire for malolactic fermentation, maturation, blending and bottling with no fining, filtering or added sulphur.

Vin de France 2014, La Mule, Domaine Chahut et Prodiges ($28.74, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay from 25- to 30-year-old vines grown on clay and limestone. Matured around nine months in fibreglass tanks. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Funky nose whose many facets include somewhat candied red berries, “forest floor” and burned minerals. Medium-bodied and richly textured: a mouthful of ripe fruit, deep minerals, smooth acidity and wiry yet pliable tannins. Spice and a hint of jalapeño linger. So energetic and so easy to drink – the kind of wine that can make Gamay skeptics reconsider their aversion. (Buy again? Def.)

Vin de France 2014, Les Têtes Noires, Domaine Chahut et Prodigues ($28.74, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Côt (aka Malbec). 11% ABV. Matured in neutral barrels. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Plummier nose complicated by aromas of turned earth and crushed foliage. Medium-bodied, smooth, dry, fluid and long, though not particularly deep. The pure fruit, supple tannins and sleek acidity are in perfect balance. Simple but pleasurable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin de France 2015, Pot d’Anne, Autour de l’Anne ($30.47, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The cuvée’s name, which translates as “Anne’s pot,” is a homonym of peau d’âne (donkey skin). 100% Cinsault from 22-year-old vines grown on limestone and red clay. Half the grapes are destemmed, the other half left as whole clusters. Semi-carbonic maceration lasts 12 days. Maturation lasts 12 months. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Deux Caves.
Plum, dark minerals, spice and, yes, a hint of animal hide. Medium-bodied. The faint spritz on opening disappears moments after pouring. Dried herb notes give the ripe fruit a savoury character. Enlightening acidity and fine tannins provide just enough structure. Long. Northern in weight, southern in savour. High quaffability quotient. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 22nd tasting: flight 4 of 5