Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand

An OK wine but a middling Pinot

leave a comment »

Pinot Noir 2010, Marlborough, Yealands Estate ($20.00,  11640521)
100% sustainably farmed Pinot Noir. The estate is also carbonZero-certifed. Contrary to the SAQ’s claim, the grapes are from the Awatere Valley in Marlbourough, not Central Otago. Cold-macerated for about a week, then warmed and inoculated with selected yeasts and fermented fast and hot with regular manual punch-downs. After pressing, the wine was transferred to French oak barrels (30% new). Fined with egg whites before blending and bottling. 13% ABV according to the label; 14% ABV according to
A little cherry on the nose along with some spice, charred aromas and a whiff of alcohol: it doesn’t pinote. Medium-bodied, the texture a bit glyceriny. Not exuberantly fruity, though the fruit is more apparent than on the nose. There’s a strong undercurrent of acidity and some light tannins. The finish is an odd combination of heat, vanilla and milk chocolate with a bitter streak that outlasts them all. The wine sweetened and gained a licorice note after 30 minutes, the bitterness turning more peppery, the components integrating into a more harmonious whole, so carafe and chill slightly before serving. You’ll then find yourself in the presence of an OK wine but a middling Pinot.

Written by carswell

February 16, 2013 at 12:42

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with ,

May 19th MWG tasting: report

with 2 comments

Quick notes on 18 (well, 17) of the 22 wines in the first Cellier Summer 2011 release. Most are still available, though the Gros Noré rosé and Venus red are disappearing fast.


Mâcon-Fuissé 2009, Le Haut de Fuissé, Pierre Vessigaud ($22.35, 11419659)
Organically farmed Chardonnay from a rarely seen appellation. Pleasing if muted nose of lemon and chalk. Round and less than bone dry, the sweetness softening the bright acidity. Plump surface, firm core. Long, minerally finish. Not a show-stopper but quite delicious. Great QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)

Montagny 1er cru 2009, Les Platières, Domaine Feuillat-Juillot ($25, 11416343)
Lemon bright with a fresh herb note. Less rich than the other wines in the flight, not in itself a bad thing. Clean, balanced and long. Enjoyable enough but not really memorable. (Buy again? No, not at that price.)

Chardonnay 2007, Hunting Hill (North Island), Kumeu River Wines ($37.50, 11416159)
Rich but not heavy on the nose and in the mouth. Spice, butter, oats and a hint of butterscotchy oak. Ripe fruit and residual sugar balanced by the wine’s acidity and depth. Lemon and minerals mark the long finish. Good aging potential. New Worldish but not turning its back on Burgundy. (Buy again? If I decide to grill a lobster at some point, sure.)


Crozes-Hermitage 2009, Les Terres Blanches, Domaine Belle ($26.25, 11400958)
Around two-thirds Marsanne and one-third Roussanne. Subtle but deep nose: yellow fruit and wax with herb and floral notes. Dense yet balanced in the mouth, not lacking freshness. Shows a bit of alcohol on the bitter-tinged finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Montlouis-sur-Loire 2007, Les Choisilles, François Chidaine ($30.50, 11153176)
A last-minute replacement for the Cellier bottle of Chidaine’s 2006 Les Tuffeaux left on my kitchen counter. Appealing nose: hints of wax, melon and tropical fruit, especially pineapple. Mouth-coating texture bordering on unctuous, a feeling only augmented by the sec-tendre level of residual sugar. Peach on the mid-palate. Not particularly deep but pleasant. Touch of alcohol on the long finish. (Buy again? Probably not, when Huet’s Vouvrays are available in the same price range.)

Pinot Gris 2008, Marlborough, Seresin Estate ($25.65, 11420078)
Fermented with native yeasts. Somewhat perfumy nose with hints of vanilla and tropical fruit. Rich, off-dry with spicy white fruit flavours. Sits heavily on the palate. Long, hot finish (14.5%). Hefty, simplistic: an oaf of a wine. (Buy again? No.)


Garda Classico Chiaretto 2009, RosaMara, Costaripa ($20.35, 11415121)
Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera. About half is fermented and aged in small barrels, the other half in stainless steel. Lightly fragrant nose: dusty flowers. Dry and soft on the palate, more floral than fruity, with just enough acidity and a lingering bitter (almond?) note. A charmer. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2010, Les Béatines, Domaine des Béates ($21, La QV)
Organically farmed Grenache Noir (75%) and Syrah (25%). An appealing mingle of wild strawberries, pink grapefuit, nectarine, sun-baked earth and garrigue. Clean, balanced, minerally and refreshing. Red Delicious note on the finish. The most popular wine of the flight. (Buy again? Yes.)

Coteaux du Languedoc 2010, Mas Jullien ($22.95, 11419595)
Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from 20- to 30-year-old vines. Made using the saignée method and natural yeasts. Not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. Almost dark enough to be a red. Complex, savoury, fruity (nectarine, strawberry) and spicy. Rich yet fluid thanks to the wine’s acidity, dryness and mineral substrate. Pure fruit on the attack, a hint of caramel and a bit of heat on the earthy finish.  Definitely a food wine. Tail-end was even better the next day. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bandol 2009, Domaine du Gros Noré ($26.85, 11416837)
40% Mourvèdre, 40% Cinsault, 20% Grenache. Perfumy, peppery nose with hints of garrigue, pink grapefruit and rhubarb. On the palate, quite dry and savoury, complex with pale fruit. Impeccable balance. Good length. Will probably be even better in a year. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Côtes de Provence 2009, Whispering Angel, Château d’Esclans ($22.15, 11416984)
Grenache (73%), Rolle (4%), Cinsault (9%), Syrah (8.5%) and Mourvedre (5.5%). The palest rosé I’ve ever seen; if it weren’t for the pink (as opposed to yellow or green) cast, it could pass for a white. Garrigue, grapefruit pith, peach. Delicate, fruity attack fast-fades to a rainwatery finish with a soft but persistent bitter note. (Buy again? Probably not.)


Priorat 2006, Embruix, Vall Llach ($33.75, 10508131)
Mostly young-vine Garnacha (34%), Cariñena (22%), Cabernet Sauvignon (21%), Syrah (19%) and Merlot (4%). Layered nose: spice, plum, fresh-turned earth, sawed wood, ink, horsehair. Fruity attack, structured mid-palate, with oak chiming in on the long finish. Vibrant and surprisingly fresh for a 15.5% ABV wine, though as it warmed the alcohol became more apparent. (Buy again? 15.5%?! Probably not.)

Montsant 2008, Dido, Venus la Universal ($23, 11376994)
Mostly Grenache with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Ripe fruit, tobacco, leather, roasting coffee and a floral note (peony?). Smooth, rich, structured, complete. Sweet fruit attack, earthy, minerally finish. The 14% ABV is very well hidden. A favourite of nearly everyone around the table. (Buy again? Yes, provided I can lay my hands on some.)


Rioja Reserva 2005, Bodegas LAN ($24.15, 11414145)
Tempranillo (80%), Mazuelo (10%) and Garnacha (10%). Spent around 12 months in American and French oak barrels. Wet clay, plum, slate and a hint of vanilla. Smooth on the palate with soft fruit and a good hit of oak. Structured and balanced enough to age another five years. (Buy again? Probably not, though fans of oaky wines needn’t hesitate.)

Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León 2007, Altos Del Duratón, Bodegas Ribera del Duraton ($18.55, 11387343)
Tempranillo (85%) and Syrah (15%). Spent eight months in French oak barrels. Spice, candied black raspberry, roasted coffee. Not quite a gros rouge qui tâche but getting there. Oak dominates the fruit. Not terrible but in no way memorable. (Buy again? No.)

Ribera del Duero 2006, Robles, Ecologica, Dominio Basconcillos ($22.60, 11413441)
Organically farmed Tinta del País (aka Tempranillo). Spent 12 months in American and French oak barrels. Spicy plum, turned earth, hint of iodine.  Rich and fruity with a mouth-coating texture and oak and alcohol in check. Not much in the way of structure or depth but pleasant enough drinking. (Buy again? Probably not.)

Toro 2006, San Román, Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos ($48, 11412852)
100% Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo). Spends two years in French and American barrels of various ages. Piña colada gives way to soy sauce and choco-cherry. Rich and round. Fruit and oak are deep but, for now, somewhat primary. Velvety tannins and lots of acidity. Long finish. Needs time but should knit together into a classy wine. (Buy again? Could be tempted.)

Bierzo 2007, Losada Vinos de Finca ($23.55, 11377874)
Old-vine Mencía grown on clay (not the appellation’s famous schist). Spent nine months in new French oak. The estate has adopted some organic and biodynamic techniques but hasn’t been certified. Complex and classy, redolent of dark fruit, spice, minerals and oak. Extracted but not to a fault. Light, tight tannins. Roasted and spice (anise?) aromas join the fruit on the long finish. An atypical Bierzo but none the worse for it: surprisingly balanced and vibrant. Many tasters thought this was the $48 San Román and were delighted to find it cost half as much. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

May 21, 2011 at 10:45

November 4th MWG tasting: report

with one comment

Notes on 15 wines from the November 4th Cellier release. Prices are in Canadian dollars and include sales taxes.


Mosel 2008, Riesling, Mönchhof ($17.45, 11334920)
Light breezy nose of white flowers, lime and minerals. Off-dry and a little spritzy. Medium acidity, pure fruit, rainwater finish. Pleasant though more grip would be welcome. Vin terrasse. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Pinot Gris 2008, Acrobat, Oregon, King Estate ($17.95, 11333767)
Wax and pear with dried herb and lactic notes. Fluid but unctuous with just-noticeable residual sugar. A little facile, though a mildly mineral/bitter/astringent substrate hints at deeper things. Enough acidity to keep things fresh. Fair finish. (Buy again? Probably not.)

Columbia Valley 2009, Riesling, Evergreen Vineyard, Efesté Wine ($21.50, 11334760)
7-Up and minerals on the nose. Lemon-lime, minerals and herbs on the palate. Nearly dry and what sugar there is is counterbalanced by acidity. Fruity finish. Requires vigorous chewing to show any depth. (Buy again? Probably not when Germans offer more bang for the buck.)

Central Otago 2009, Riesling, Target Gully, Mt. Difficulty ($25.60, 11334778)
Petrol, lime, tarragon and a hint of BO. A mouthful of minerals and yellow citrus with a dollop of residual sugar. Fair length. Could use more oomph, especially more acid, but clearly the most complete and dimensional wine in the flight. (Buy again? Probably not when Germans offer more bang for the buck.)


Chehalem Mountains 2006, Pinot Noir, Carabella Vineyard ($27.65, 11333791)
Sweet red berries, hints of forest floor. Sweet fruity attack, oaky mid-palate and bitter-edged finish. Bright acid. Lacks depth. Not unpleasant but unexceptional. (Buy again? Not when you can find better Burgundies for the same price.)

Willamette Valley 2007, Pinot Noir, 3 Vineyard, Chehalem Wines ($32.75, 11333783)
Not particularly appealing nose of spice, beet and oak. Medium-bodied. Oak-heavy choco-cherry with some herby mid-palate nuance. Hot finish. Yuk! (Buy again? No way.)

Langhe 2007, Nebbiolo, La Spinetta ($28.90, 11337979)
Ink, raspberry, cherry, minerals, tar, Asian spice. Dense but not heavy fruit, mineral underlay. Tight tannins. Fluid texture. Lingering bitter-edged finish. Needs a few years to knit together and smooth out. (Buy again? If looking for a modern-style Nebbiolo, yep.)

Barolo 2005, Albe, G. D. Vajra ($35.25, 11337944)
Nail polish, shoe leather, dried roses. Fluid but rich. Pure fruit and background oak. Tight tannins and bright acid. Earthy finish. Seems ready to go. Despite the wine’s interesting qualities, several of us wondered whether our bottle wasn’t defective (ethyl acetate), a disappointment as I’d been looking forward to tasting this bottling from a producer whose other wines I’ve often enjoyed. (Buy again? Another bottle to see if ours was off.)


Etna 2006, Rosso di Verzella, Benanti ($20.65, 11348459)
A blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio given about ten months in small casks. Wafting nose of dried black cherry, baked earth, rosemary. Round, smooth and savoury. Medium-bodied. Lively acid gives freshness. Round tannins provide structure. Soft, long finish. A charmer. (Buy again? If only I could…)

Valpolicella Superiore Classico 2007, Ripasso, Pojega, Guerrieri Rizzardi ($22.65, 11331681)
Blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella  and Molinara. Roasted red peppers, spice. Sweet plummy fruit enlivened by acid, underpinned by fine tannins. Rich, smooth and harmonious with a long, savoury finish and lingering impression of warmth (not heat).  A winner. (Buy again? Yes.)

Monferrato 2007, Pin, La Spinetta ($49.75, 11337987)
Blend of barrel-aged Nebbiolo (65%) and Barbera (35%). Exuberant nose of spice, leaf mould, wood and black cherry with a floral note. Pure fruit. Dense and plush. Good acid. Quite tannic. Long astringent finish. Needs time. Modern but in a good way. (Buy again? Price is the only thing holding me back.)


Valle de Colchagua 2008, Quatro, MontGras ($17.95, 11331737)
Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Carmenère (20%), Malbec  (20%) and Syrah (15%). Spent 11 months in casks, 30% new. Nose of bacon, Keds, dried herbs and telltale tomato vine. Smooth on the palate, with ripe fruit and noticeable oak. Cocoa finish. Straightforward, balanced and pleasant if a little facile. Good QPR. (Buy again? Sure, if you like the style.)

Columbia Valley 2007, River’s Red, Three Rivers Winery ($19.90, 11336466)
A dog’s breakfast blend of Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère and Trempranillo. Fresh nose: cassis, herbs, green pepper, spice. Clean if somewhat candied fruit, smooth tannins, oaky finish. Simple but fun. (Buy again? Sure, if you like the style.)

Columbia Valley 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon, L’École N° 41 ($37.75, 10707093)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spent 22 months in oak barrels, a third of them new. Cheese grains, cassis. Rich fruit, touch of residual sugar, oak in background. Good acid, light tannins that become more prominent with aeration. Shorter than expected for a wine in this price bracket. In fact, the wine overall seemed a bit one-dimensional and a little disjointed. Needs time? (Buy again? Only out of curiosity to see how it might develop.)

Yakima Valley 2006, Boushey Vineyard, Fidélitas Wines ($58.75, 11335421)
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Cabernet Franc. Spent 24 months in casks, half of them new. Cassis, black raspberry and fresh dill. Sweet fruit buttressed by rich tannins, freshened by acidity. Plush texture. Layers of flavour. Long. A complete wine. Quite impressive in its style. (Buy again? If in the market for a full-bore West Coast Bordeaux blend, sure.)

Written by carswell

November 28, 2010 at 16:37

September 30th MWG tasting: report

with 2 comments

Most of the wines in this tasting came from the September 30th Cellier release, though not the first flight (the release was whiteless) and not the Pauillac. Prices are in Canadian dollars and include 13% sales tax.


Grüner Veltliner 2009, Kamptal, Domæne Gobelsburg ($15.30, 10790317)
Chalk, sand and white grapefruit peel with whiffs of white pepper. Clean and bright. Zesty, even tingly attack. Good balance between acidity and substance. Fast-fade finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

Grüner Veltliner 2009, Terrassen, Federspiel, Domäne Wachau ($19.50, 10769420)
Lemon peel (a bit candied), wet quartz and a not unpleasant hint of soap or vinyl. Richer than the Gobelsburg and, initially, a bit flatter. Gained dimension as it breathed. Long, with an acid bite on the finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Grüner Veltliner 2009, Kamptaler Terrassen, Bründlmayer ($21.25, 10707069)
Still rounder and smoother. The acidity is there but more like a slow-moving underground river than a gurgling surface stream. Rainwatery at first but becoming white-fruity and layered over the course of an hour. Long. (Buy again? Sure.)

Grüner Veltliner 1999, Schenkenbichl, Jurtschitsch ($38 in 2002)
Richer looking: golden (in contrast to the other wines’ silver) and oilier. Complex nose dominated by honey, quince, mineral and subtle white pepper aromas. Off-dry and unctuous but enlivened by acidity. Initially shallow-seeming – I wondered whether it wasn’t a little over the hill – but gaining presence, amplitude and depth through the end of the tasting (nearly three hours). Very long. While Jancis Robinson notes that, with time in the bottle, GV “can start to taste positively Burgundian,” in this case I’d say the French analogue is more a late-harvest Pinot Gris or a sec-tendre Chenin Blanc. Not everyone was a fan but I found it  gorgeous. (Buy again? Wish I could.)


Morgon 2009, La Voûte Saint-Vincent, Louis-Claude Desvignes ($19.45, 11299415)
Red berries, vine sap, spice and hints of alcohol and, quoting another taster, “night soil.” Noticeable tannins, bright acid, lots of stuffing, somewhat muted fruit. A little introverted and disjointed though improving with time in the glass. (Buy again? Maybe a bottle or two to revisit in a couple of years.)

Moulin-à-Vent 2009, Domaine des Vignes du Tremblay, Paul Janin et Fils ($19.90, 11305141)
Red berries and vine sap, a little footy. Smoother, rounder, suaver than the Morgon but with a similar concentration and richness. Inky finish. Shut down as it breathed. (Buy again? Sure – a bottle or two to revisit in a couple of years.)

Chénas 2009, Vieilles vignes, Hubert Lapierre ($19.90, 11299239)
Appealing nose of red fruit, graphite and dried wood. Rich and balanced, structured with fruit-cloaked tannins. Kirschy finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Côte-de-Brouilly 2009, Cuvée Les Griottes, Château Thivin ($21, 11305088)
The least expressive nose of the bunch: cherry, spice and funk. Rich and fruity on the palate. Silkier, brighter and somehow purer than the others but also less tannic and deep. Good length. Probably not an ager. (Buy again? Sure.)


Buzet 2006, La Tuque de Gueyze, Les Vignerons de Buzet ($16.80, 11305563)
Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Dusty cassis, green pepper and a whiff of alcohol. Cedary and plummy on the palate, fluid and balanced but lacking depth – a bit one-dimensional in fact. Still, not bad for a sub-$17 Bordeaux clone. (Buy again? Probably not, when $3-5 more can get you a genuinely appealing Bordeaux blend.)

Don Reca 2007, Valle del Cachapoal, Viña La Rosa ($21.75, 11305619)
Merlot (52%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Syrah (18%) and Carmenère (5%). Screaming green pepper along with green tobacco, earth and ink. Big, tannic, coarse. Green pepper and cassis flavours dominate with rubber droning in the background. Sawdusty finish. Unevolving even after vigorous aeration. How could anyone (looking at you, Wine Advocate) award this clunker 90+ points? (Buy again? Nope.)

Lagone 2007, IGT Toscana, Aia Vecchia ($20.45, 11305635)
Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). Cassis syrup and sandalwood. Suaver than the Don Reca though initially quite tannic and a little disjointed. Smoothed out with exposure to air, showing good balance and length. Well made and true to type but also anonymous, with little sense of place. (Buy again? If looking for a $20 internationalized Bordeaux blend, maybe.)

Finca Libertad 2006, Mendoza, Bodega Benegas ($24.95, 11305934)
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Spent 18 months in new French oak casks. Smokey, peppery, meaty nose: grilled sausage, pimentón, raw beef with hints of cassis and mint. Mouth-filling but not heavy, fruit-forward but not fatiguing. Tannins and oak kept in check. Velvety texture. Long, fragrant finish. Cries out for a charcoal-grilled steak. (Buy again? If charcoal-grilling steaks, maybe.)


Capaia 2007, Philadelphia (Western Cape), Capaia Estate ($33.25, 11307825)
Cabernet Sauvignon (37%), Merlot (26%), Petit Verdot (18%) and Cabernet Franc (19%). Spent 15 months in new French oak barriques. Leather, cassis, ink and menthol. A wine of considerable heft, though nimble and fluid. Structuring tannins and acid are clad in fleshy fruit. Long savoury finish. (Buy again? Maybe, if in the mood for a New World Bordeaux blend.)

Sophia 2007, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawkes Bay, Craggy Range Winery ($58, 11305491)
Merlot (81%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%) and Malbec (2%). Spent 18 months in 50% new French oak casks. Pomegranate juice, vanilla and chocolate with hints of humus and ground coffee. The proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove: a mass of tannins wrapped in a mass of pure fruit. Big but poised and finely balanced. Plush, layered and long. Needs at least a couple more years in the bottle. Internationally styled but with undeniable class: would make a excellent ringer in a flight of new wave St-Émilions and Pomerols. (Buy again? Probably not, but then I’m not a Merlot fan.)

Don Melchor 1995, Valle del Maipo, Concha y Toro ($87.95, 10755941)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 12 months in French oak casks. To the eye, nose and palate, obviously an aged wine. Pale rimmed, muted red-brown. Tertiary aromas and flavours: leather, sweat, dried wood, aged tobacco, old tomato plants, compost, earth (you have to dig to find the core of sweet fruit). Tannins fully resolved, the tightly wound velvet of youth now an unfurling skein of silk. Our bottle was uncorked two hours before the flight and decanted just before serving. As the wine only improved in the glass, decanting earlier might have been advisable. Interesting and impressive in its way, but not a wine that knocked anyone’s socks off. Probably done a disservice by being served after so many vibrant young wines and just before a fine old Bordeaux. Alone in the spotlight, it would likely show better. (Buy again? Not at that price.)

Pauillac 1994, Château Pontet-Canet ($33 in 1996)
Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), Merlot (32%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). Some fading at the rim but very little bricking. Complex only-in-Médoc bouquet that doesn’t need to yell to get your attention: cigar box, graphite, cassis, plum, tar, smoke, a hint of caramel. Austere but graceful and lithe, the tannins mostly resolved. In contrast to the preceding wines, the fruit is lean, dry, less dominating, more a unifying element in a spectrum of savoury flavours. The fruit fades on the long finish as cedar and minerals intertwine over a faint tannic astringency. Not particularly deep yet a wine that doesn’t reveal itself fully with the first sip or even – to judge by how it evolved in the few minutes after opening – the first glass. This is in a good place now and probably won’t get better; drink up in the next two or three years. (Buy again? Sure would if I didn’t already have a few bottles stashed away.)

Written by carswell

October 4, 2010 at 11:16