Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘Natural wine

Barrel-aged, new moon, off-track

leave a comment »

Based in Mittelbergheim in the Bas-Rhin department, André Rohrer has run his eponymous eight-hectare estate since 1988, when he took the helm from his father. The estate, which has been in the family for eight generations, has holdings in three communes: Eichoffen, Mittelbergheim (including 18 ares in the Zotzenberg grand cru) and Barr. Though it abandoned herbicides in the 1960s and chemical insecticides in the 1980s, the estate has been certified organic only since 2001. In recent years, Rohrer has been exploring new wine-making paths, including a line of natural wines, one of which we tried. The estate doesn’t have a website and technical information is non-existent on the Web, though it’s probably safe to assume that the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts and made with minimal intervention.

Alsace 2015, Pinot Noir, Élevé en Barrique, Domaine André Rohrer (ca. $23, importation valise)
100% Pinot Noir from organically farmed vines. Matured in oak barrels. 13.5% ABV.
Faintly candied nose of cherry-chocolate, red wine-poached pears and a little band-aid. Medium-bodied, dry and fruity, with streaming acidity and fine tannins mostly apparent on the longish, faintly astringent finish. The oak is less present on the palate than on the nose. “A bit rustic,” as one taster notes, not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Buy again? Sure, especially at the local price.)

Alsace 2015, Pinot Noir, Nouvelle Lune, Domaine André Rohrer (ca. $26, importation valise)
100% Pinot Noir from organically farmed vines. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13.5% ABV.
Intriguing, involving nose of camphor, red berries and cherry taking on notes of game stew. Rich though medium-bodied, packed with ripe, almost juicy fruit. Velvety tannins and sleek acidity provide welcome structure. Nicely sustained finish. There was some discussion as to whether the bottle was a little corked; the consensus was no, it just needed time to sort itself out. (Buy again? Sure.)

Alsace 2015, Pinot Gris, Hors Piste, Domaine André Rohrer (ca. $25, importation valise)
100% Pinot Gris from organically farmed vines. Vinified like a red wine, with extended skin maceration. As Pinot Gris grape skins are dark pink in colour, so is the wine. Matured in neutral barrels. 14% ABV.
Intriguing nose of rose hip, peppermint, “nutmeg” and eventually honey. Lightweight yet possessed of a slightly unctuous texture. A tasty mouthful of spicy, strawberry-overtoned fruit, structured by lacy tannins, buoyed by acidity and underlain with minerals. The alcohol is well-nigh invisible. A savoury, refreshing, very drinkable wine quite unlike any other. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

August 5, 2017 at 13:57

It’s a white! It’s a red! It’s Brutal!!!

leave a comment »

Brutal!!! 2015, Partida Creus (ca. €10-15/$15-20 in Barcelona, importation valise)
Apparently, the wine is sin denominación, demoninationless. In any case, it’s a blend of several Catalonian grape varieties (probably Vinyater, Subirat Parent, Xarel·lo, Cartoixa Vermell and Blanc de Sumoll) from biodynamically farmed vines planted in clayey-calareous soil. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified separately and blended before bottling. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured seven months in stainless steel tanks. Unfiltered, unfined. No added sulphur. 11% ABV.

Cloudy pink to the eye. Spicy/funky nose of dough, distant sweet berries, “pink peppercorns” and an evanescing whiff of volatile acidity that one taster describes as “latex gloves.” A bit spritzy in the mouth. Lightly fruity and quite dry but tangy like “kambucha” and “hibiscus.” The tannins are light while the acidity is electric. So refreshing and drinkable and such energy! Like nothing else I’ve tasted yet also like an instant old friend. Wow. (Buy again? By the case.)

On the Raw Wine website, Partida Creus describes themselves thus: “We are winegrowers and winemakers in the Massis de Bonastre terroir of Catalunya, working with our own production of grapes and with rescued ancient vineyards with interesting native variety of grape. All the vines are organic farming, our organic and natural wines express the terroir with its variety typicity. We try to put in the bottles our deep respect and love for wild and Mediterranean landscape, nothing else. A tribute to nature and biodiversity, our work is a way of life making wine. Certified organic by CCPAE Consell catalá de la Producció Agraria Ecologica.”

Partida Creus is represented in Quebec by Vinealis. A Brutal inquiry to the agency’s prime mover, André Papineau, elicited the following reply: “Oui je bosse avec Partida Creus depuis presque 4 ans maintenant. Quantités confidentielles au départ et de bons volumes maintenant. Par contre le Brutal a longtemps été seulement disponible pour le Bar Brutal; il est un peu cher, se vendrait @ ± 36 $ la bouteille le carton de 6, alors j’hésite un peu. Par contre j’aurai beaucoup de différents vins en août : VN blanco et tinto, BN blanco, TN Tinto, et les grandes cuvées de Vinyater, Cartoixa Vermell, Xarel-lo. Toutes les bulles sont réservées pour le groupe Joe Beef…” [Yes, I’ve been working with Partida Creus for nearly four years. Tiny quantities at the start and good volumes now. However, the Brutal!!! was available only at the Bar Brutal [in Barcelona] for the longest time. It’s kind of expensive, going for around $36 a bottle, case of six, so I’m hesitant. On the other hand, I’ll have a bunch of other Partida Creus wines in August: VN blanco and rojo, BN (white), TN (red) and the top wines, made from Vinyater, Cartoixa Vermell and Xarel-lo. All the sparklers are reserved for the Joe Beef group…”]

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 4 of 7

Cabgamay Franc

with 4 comments

Santa Ynez Valley 2015, Cabernet Franc, Coquelicot Vineyard, Lo-Fi Wines ($44.95, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc from organically farmed vines in the Coquelicot vineyard (fluvial sandy loam and gravel) near Solvang. Manually harvested. The whole clusters – neither destemmed nor crushed – were placed in a vat, which was filled with carbon dioxide gas and covered. Once a day for 14 days, the free-run juice was pumped over, then the vat was covered and gassed again. When alcoholic fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) was complete, the wine was pressed into tanks, settled and racked into neutral barrels (85% in 228-litre French oak barriques, 15% in a 600-litre demi-muid) for eight months’ maturation. Underwent full malolactic fermentation. Racked twice prior to bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. A small shot of sulphur dioxide was added at bottling. 12.2% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Earthy, slightly jammy red fruit with hints of sandalwood and black olive. Dark-fruity and Asian-spicy in the piehole, the brighter colours darkened by an earthy substratum. Structured – if that’s the word for such a fuzzy wine – by smooth acidity and stealth tannins that make their presence felt only on the long, leathery/earthy finish. However original and interesting an interpretation of Cabernet Franc this may be, the QPR – as with so many California wines in Quebec – is seriously out of whack. (Buy again? Irrespective of price, sure.)

Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil 2015, Hurluberlu, Sébastien David ($27.30, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% organically and biodynamically farmed Cabernet Franc. Manually harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts. Vinified Beaujolais style – using carbonic maceration – and given a very short maturation in tanks, with bottling occurring early in the new year following harvest. Unfiltered. No added sulphur. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Red fruity, cedary and a little poopy. From a hot vintage so richer, rounder, more extracted and conventional, less “like health juice” than some earlier versions. Still refreshing due to its bright acidity, supple tannins and pure fruit. Good, ultradrinkable juice, just a little less special than before. The shapely clear glass bottle is a beaut, especially in magnums. (Buy again? Sure.)

Coteaux Bourguignons 2015, Gamay, Domaine Bouillot Salomon ($29.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Gamay 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. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Attractive nose of slightly candied red berries, spice, cola and background barnyard. A bit spritzy (carafing would have eliminated the gas). Fleet, fresh, fruity and dry with bright verging on tart acidity and a rumbling mineral bass line. The longish finish brings an appetizing bitter note. Would be interesting to taste this alongside some cru Beaujolais; I suspect the difference in terroirs would be noticeable. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 5 of 6

Notes from the edges

leave a comment »

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

Meinklangers

with one comment

The Mo’ Wine Group’s latest agency tasting was led by La QV’s head honcho Cyril Kérébel. The wine-up featured a particularly high proportion of whites, all with great minerality and a saline edge, as well as a wowser rosé and a handful of super-drinkable reds. We began with a trio of new-to-most whites from one of our favourite producers.

Burgenland 2015, Burgenlandwhite, Meinklang ($23.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A blend of Grüner Veltliner (50%), Welschriesling (40%) and Muscat Ottonel (10%) from biodynamically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Residual sugar: 4.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Hay, straw, white flowers, chalk, distant “chives” and dried orange peel. Round in the mouth, the acidity smooth, the texture verging on waxy. The upfront fruit and underlying minerals give ways to a long savoury, saline finish with a lingering white pepper note. “Building spiciness underneath rosewater,” proclaims one taster. A perfect summer white is the general consensus. (Buy again? Yep.)

Somló 2015, H15, Meinklang ($37.65, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Hárslevelü from biodynamically farmed vines grown at the base of the extinct Somló (pronounced shom-low) volcano in southwest Hungary, not far from the Austrian border. The must is passed through a coarse filter before fermentation. The wine-making – which takes place at the estate’s Burgenland winery – is non-interventionist, with no additions except, possibly, a tiny squirt of sulphur at bottling. Matured in stainless steel tanks and old oak barrels for 12 months. Residual sugar: 4.2 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Complex, aromatic nose dominated by honey, spice and yellow fruit. Dense and weighty (not heavy) on the palate, the fruit wrapped around a softly glowing core of acidity. The complex of flavours turns impressively savoury/salty/sweaty on the mid-palate. Very long. Less tense and minerally, more stone-fruity and unctuous than some earlier vintages but no less engaging. (Buy again? Yep.)

Burgenland 2014, Konkret Weiss, Meinklang ($65.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A field blend of three Gewürztraminers, specifically Red Traminer, Yellow Traminer and plain old Gewürztraminer. Macerated on the skins for 21 days. Vinified in egg-shaped concrete tanks. No added anything, including sulphur. Residual sugar: 1.6 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
For once, an orange wine that actually has an orange cast. One taster describes the complex nose of gardenia, cedar, spice and a funky whiff as “like the old lady in front of me on the bus, eating a grapefruit.” Dazzlingly complex and layered on the palate. Rich yet fluid. Dry but not austerely so. Structured by bright acidity and light tannins. The endless finish is awash in umami. (Buy again? Yep, wincing only slightly at the price.)

And Cyril shared some good Meinklang news with us: the SAQ will be including their impressive “Graupert” Pinot Gris in its Opération vins oranges release this fall and will also be carrying their fine ancient grains beer.

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Red ends

leave a comment »

After working with the Les Vignerons d’Estézargues cooperative for several years, Édouard Laffitte, who had no background in farming, decided to set out on his own. Invited by Loïc Roure, then newly settled in the Roussillon, to share the wine-making facilities he had just acquired for his Domaine du Possible, Laffitte began searching for vines, specifically ones growing in north-facing, high-altitude vineyards, the better to make wines that were fresh and not excessively alcoholic. He eventually pieced together 7.7 hectares of parcels in the communes of Lansac (granitic sand), Rasiguères (shale) and Cassagnes (gneiss) to make the Domaine Le Bout du Monde, so named because visitors told him that getting there was like travelling to the end of the earth.

The farming is organic and the vineyards are worked manually. The wines are vinified by soil type with as little intervention as possible (indigenous yeasts, no filtering or fining, no additives). The estate currently makes five reds (Grenache, Carignan and Syrah alone and in blends) and one white (Roussane).

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Tam-Tam, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($29.30, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Syrah from vines rooted in slate. Vinified in tanks. Given three weeks’ carbonic maceration. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Nose: red fruit, spice, cedar, background earth, distant funk. Mouth: Dry, spicy, sawdusty. Lively acidity, supple tannins. Medium body, satiny texture. Pure, straightforward, fruity and enjoyable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Hop’là, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($32.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Grenache (40%), Syrah (40%) and Carignan (20%) from vines rooted in gneiss. Vinified in tanks. Given three weeks’ carbonic maceration. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Far more savoury nose: black raspberry, leafmould, slate and leather. Medium-bodied and fleet, with bright acidity, springy tannins, lively pure fruit. Clean finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, La Luce, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($43.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Grenache from 35-year-old vines rooted in gneiss. Vinified in tanks. Given four weeks’ carbonic maceration. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
The most complex of the three. Floral, licorice, plum cake, marzipan. Smooth and satiny. Layered berry fruit, wood and minerals. Fine complex tannic structure. Sleek acidity. Long finish with a vaporous note. Gorgeous. Delivers all of the upsides of Grenache and none of the downsides. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 5 of 6

Natural born swillers

leave a comment »

Colli Trevigiani 2015, Rosso, Costadilà ($23.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Located in Valdobbiandene in the Veneto, Costadilà is best known as a producer of Prosecco. The small estate practices organic polycultural farming, uses only indigenous yeasts and never filters or adds sulphur. This is a blend of Refosco and Merlot. 10.5% ABV (!). Quebec agent: Glou.
Morello cherry, gingerbread, a hint of animale and notes described as “asparagus” and “old leather-bound photo albums.” Medium-bodied, fluid and fresh, full of ripe if tart fruit, brilliant acidity and supple tannins. Finishes long with a faint terminal rasp. Seems tailor-made for salume and stuffed pasta in red sauce. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Umbria 2015, Il Rossodatavola, Collecapretta ($36.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Cantina Collecapretta is located about 20 km north-northwest of Spoleto. Of the estate’s eight hectares, only four are given over to vines, the remainder being planted with olive trees, farro and other ancient grains. In a good year, the wine production totals 8,000 bottles. Farming is organic. The grapes are manually harvested and fermented in open-top cement vats with no temperature control. The wines are matured in glass-lined cement vats and resin tanks before being bottled unfiltered and in accordance with the lunar cycle. No sulphur is added at any point in the process. This red table wine is mostly Sangiovese, maybe with a little Barbera, Merlot, Sagrantino and/or Ciliegiolo. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Initially reduced nose of barnyard and seaweed segues into red fruit, red meat and sandalwood. Medium- to full-bodied. Spicy cherry hard candies and a touch of green. Extract, bright acidity and medium tannins are well balanced. A bit bitey on the long finish. Intense, authentic and appealingly rustic. (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

May 31, 2017 at 12:14