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Posts Tagged ‘Natural wine

Red ends

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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

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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

Red bubble

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Vin de France 2015, La Bulle Rouge, Les Capriades ($35.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in the Loire Valley’s Touraine region, Les Capriades founder and co-owner, Pascal Potaire, is considered the king of pet nats (short for pétillants naturels, natural sparkling wines produced using the ancestral method). This red example is a blend of juice from three varieties of organically farmed red-fleshed GamayGamay de Bouze, Gamay de Chaudenay and Gamay Fréaux – explaining the cuvée’s former name, BCF. 11% ABV and I’m guessing somewhere around 10 g/l of residual sugar. Quebec agent: Glou.

Medium red with scarlet glints and fast-disappearing shocking pink foam. The nose is a swirl of raspberry vinegar, burnt hair, burnt sugar, lipstick, chocolate, pink blossoms and spice. A sip reveals a soft-sparkled wine that’s fresh, fruity and definitely not dry. Sleek acidity, a mineral underlay and a lingering bitterness counteract the sweetness to some degree. “Raspberry freezee” concludes one taster. A tad richer than but otherwise not dissimilar to a Bugey-Cerdon, which can be had for about $12 less. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 3 of 6

Brand new and old

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The April 21st tasting featured wines represented in Quebec by Glou and was led by the agency’s prime mover, Jack Jacob. We started with a flight of four fine Alsatians.

Created in 1950 and based in Ergersheim, Domaine Brand sits in the middle of La Couronne d’or, a swath of vineyards stretching from Strasbourg to Marienheim. The estate’s 10 hectares of vineyards are in the communes of Ergersheim, Osthoffen and Wolxheim. Farming has been organic since 2001 and certified biodynamic (Demeter) since 2015.

Current winemaker Philippe Brand took the helm in 2008, following stints at Domaine de Montchovet in Burgundy and wineries in the Peloponnese (Greece) and Barossa Valley (Australia). He soon imposed a regime of non-interventionist wine-making where the only additive, if any, is small amounts of sulphur dioxide. The estate makes a separate line of unsulphured natural wines under the Apollinaire moniker whose labels feature calligrams by the eponymous artist.

Alsace 2013, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($33.06, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Gold bronze to the eye. Complex nose of apple, pear and chalk with hints of petrol and “Meyer lemon” (quoting another taster). Rich but not heavy in the mouth, the fruit tending toward baked apple. Dry and very minerally. The combination of acidity and minerals lends an almost “tannic bite” to the long finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Alsace 2015, La Chimère, Charles et Philippe Brand ($34.76, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinarie wines. 100% Riesling from the Osthoffen vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Paler. Faintly funky nose of white flowers, lemon peel, flint, barley sugar and a pungent note some described as bubble gum and others as camphor. A bit spritzy on the palate. Less rich and extracted, more crystalline than the Kefferberg. Bone dry (0.5 g/l residual sugar). Lingering green mango. I like. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace 2015, Fleurs, Charles et Philippe Brand ($37.64, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinaire wines. 80% Pinot Gris, 20% Riesling. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Residual sugar: 1.0 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Engaging nose of white peach, white spice and slate with honey and lactic notes. Very dry yet with an “implied sweetness.” Buoyant acidity. Faint spritz. Pearish with bergamot overtones. Mineral-rich. Long bitter-edged finish. Complex. Impressive. (Buy again? Gladly. And I’m really looking forward to trying the orange version.)

Alsace 1999, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($56.34, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
A deep bronze colour approaching that of iced tea. Complex, unfathomable nose: dried apple, brown sugar, smoke, hints of petrol and “spicy green” or “dried mint” and more. Equally complex in the mouth, the flavours echoing the nose and resonating on their own. Super dry. Smooth acidity. Considerable depth. Endless finish with, once again, a hint of something camphor-like. The price is more than reasonable for a wine of this age and quality. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 1 of 6

WINO tasting (6/6)

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Located between Siena and Arezzo, the 60-hectare Fattoria di Caspri estate has nine hectares of grape vines and seven hectares of olive trees. The estate’s founding dates back nearly to the beginning of the Common Era, when Roman general Casperius Aelianus made it his home. The current main building is a relative youngster, having been built in the 18th century.

Farming has been organic and biodynamic since 2006, when the estate was acquired by its current owners. The soil tends to be light and sandy mixed with decomposed gneiss and a little clay. While the focus is on traditional grape varieties (mainly Sangiovese, Canaiolo Cillegiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia), the estate also has experimental plots of Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir.

The wine-making is identical for all the reds. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in small, non-temperature-controlled conical vats with indigenous yeasts. Total maceration time is three to four weeks. After pressing, the wine is transferred into old barrels for 18 to 20 months’ maturation. The wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. No sulphur is added.

IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Rosso di Caspri, Fattoria di Caspri ($31.21, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from young vines. 12.3% ABV. 650 cases made. Quebec agent: WINO.
Attractive nose of bitter cherry, fresh herbs, slate, turned earth and a little ash. “Kind of meaty” is the first (and accurate) comment about the flavour of this medium-bodied and very dry wine. Red fruit, tingly acidity and fine astringent tannins made for a somewhat austere if appealingly rustic mouthful. Finishes clean. (Buy again? Sure.)

IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Poggio Cuccule, Fattoria di Caspri ($41.15, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from 45-year-old vines. 125 cases made. 13.1% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Gorgeous, floral nose of cherry, fresh almond and old wood. Medium-bodied. A sip is like biting into a morello cherry. Fresh, fleet, intense and pure. The energy is palpable and the wine seems lit from within by glowing acidity. The tannins are fruit-cloaked. Minerals, wood and earth undertones add depth, not darkness. Finishes long and clean. Stunning Sangiovese. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

IGT Toscana Rosso 2014, Casperius, Fattoria di Caspri ($67.31, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Sangiovese and Syrah. 12.7% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Closed nose that with coaxing reveals red fruit, dried herb, violet, leather and mint notes and a whiff of barnyard. In the mouth, it’s fuller-bodied, smoother, rounder and less acidic than its flightmates, though it does share some of the Rosso’s meatiness. Depth, breadth and length it has in spades though it would probably benefit from a year or two to come together. Perhaps a little overshadowed by the Poggio Cuccule, I suspect this would prove wholly satisfactory on its own at dinner. (Buy again? Maybe.)

IGT Toscana 2010, Luna Blu, Fattoria di Caspri ($28.50 in 2013, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
An orange wine made from a 50-50 blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia. Macerated on the skins for four weeks before pressing. Matured in small wood barrels. No filtering, fining or added sulphur. Under 100 cases made. 13.3% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV at the time, now WINO. The newest vintage is slated to arrive later this spring.

Bronze with a rosé cast. Sultry nose of “elderflower,” sawdust and hints of apricot skin and dried tangerine peel. Rich and smooth in the mouth, bright acidity notwithstanding. Fruity yet dry, the flavours tending to citrus and spice with a mineral undercurrent. Faint tannins add a little grit to the otherwise sleek texture. Long. As mentioned in my October 2013 tasting note, the winemaker has stated that the wine would be at its apogee in 2017. In the event, while it may not be the deepest, most structured or even most involving orange wine, it is definitely a pleasure to drink. Paired beautifully with a selection of cheeses from Yannick, especially a raw-milk L’Étivaz. (Buy again? Moot. But I’m looking forward to the new vintage.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 6 of 6

WINO tasting (5/6)

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Vin de France 2015, Le Vin de Blaise ($49.67, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Run by Paris-based Stéphanie Rougnon and located in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes in the Rhône valley, the three-hectare family estate is in the second year of conversion to organic farming. (Blaise Granier, Nathalie’s great-great-grandfather, first planted vines there.) This, the inaugural vintage of its first wine, is mostly Cinsault with a little Grenache and Carignan from vines more than half a century old. In 2015, a total of 1,167 bottles were produced; in 2016, production rose to 1,800 bottles plus 100 bottles of rosé. The grapes are not coplanted but are cofermented after being hand-picked and crushed. The free run juice is transferred to a stainless steel tank and the grapes are pressed. The resulting must is added to the free run juice and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Unfiltered and unfined. No added anything except maybe a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Solar red and black fruit and minerals (“like the Siccagno” notes one taster), sukiyaki, spice, lemon zest and background leather. Medium-bodied and fruit-forward, and such pure fruit it is. Coursing acidity delivers freshness in spades and imbues the fruit with a lip-smacking tartness. Layered minerals add depth while supple, raspy tannins give grain to the silky texture. Finishes long and clean. So bright and alive, so up my alley. Just about everyone around the table loved this wine and also felt the QPR was wacky. The price of admission to a limited edition? A natural wine that demands a credit line? (Buy again? A case… if it were 30 bucks a bottle.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

April 6, 2017 at 12:00

WINO tasting (1/6)

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The Mo’ Wine Group’s latest agency tasting was led by the affable Martin Landry from WINO. Around three years old, the agency specializes in wines that are, at a minimum, organic or biodyamic and often “natural.” You’ll find them on the lists at many of the city’s hipper restaurants and wine bars, including Diplomat, Pullman, Rouge Gorge and Moleskine (to name a few recent sightings).

We got things rolling with a classy sparkler from Limoux.

Blanquette de Limoux 2015, Monsieur S./Étienne Fort ($25.33, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Fort is a barely 30-something vigneron who works the family’s two hectares of vines at the Château Saint Salvadou in Bourliège in the Aude department. In 2011, he decided to stop selling his fruit to the local co-op and to start making his own wines. The grapes for this 100% Mauzac come from organically and biodynamically farmed, 30-year-old vines rooted in deep clayey limestone. Manually harvested. Made without additives of any kind. Fermented in stainless steel. Sparkled using the traditional method. Matured 12 months on the lees. Undosed, unfined, unfiltered. Spent 12 months in the bottle on lattes. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Yeasty, leesy nose with quartz and lemon notes. Tiny, tingling verging on prickly bubbles. Bone dry, crisp and clean. Trenchant and minerally upfront with lemon and gooseberry emerging on the mid-palate. A pithy thread runs throughout. The long, savoury, fairly complex finish has a touch of salinity. This bracing and refreshing sparkler would make a fine aperitif or, as Martin suggested, a dashing companion to oysters on the half shell. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 1 of 6