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Posts Tagged ‘Off the beaten path

Orange roughly

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Québec 2016, Julep, Domaine Négondos (c. $27.00)
This orange wine isn’t even mentioned on the winery’s website while on the wider Web you’ll find more information about the label than the wine itself. The label and name wryly refer to Montreal’s iconic Gibeau Orange Julep drive-in and its signature drink. 100% Seyval Blanc from the winery’s organically farmed vineyard in Mirabel in the lower Laurentians. Manually harvested. Macerated several weeks on the skins. After pressing, the juice is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Clarified by settling. Probably unfiltered and unfined and minimally sulphured. 11.5% ABV.

“Floral” by general agreement though there is little consensus on the type of flower (dandelion, I think). Hay stubble, stone fruit and citrus (including a little bergamot?) complicate the aromatic profile. In the mouth, it’s smooth, barely medium-bodied and super dry. The light nectarine, citrus and browning apple fruit is dusted with minerals, structured by sleek acidity and ghostly tannins. The evanescing savoury/earthy finish could be longer. Not very orange (if memory serves, the 2014 was significantly more so) but a very convincing expression of Seyval. (Buy again? Yes.)

I’ve contacted the winery for more technical information and will update this post when/if I receive it.

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 7 of 7

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Written by carswell

October 4, 2017 at 11:29

My mother’s cousin’s kitchen…

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…or something like that.

Life – well, work – will prevent me from posting the next instalments of the July 27th MWG tasting for another day or two. In the meantime, a heads-up on a new arrival that’s disappearing fast.

Gaillac 2016, La Cuisine de ma mère… En vacances à Gaillac, Nicolas Grosbois ($20.50, 13349800)
Nicolas Grosbois is based in Chinon. In most vintages, his entry-level wine, a drink-now Cabernet Franc, is called La Cuisine de ma mère. In 2016, however, having lost nearly all his harvest to bad weather, he decided to source grapes elsewhere. The result is this vin plaisir from Gaillac, which in France appears to be marketed as La Cousine de ma mére and comes in a Burgundy bottle. Duras (25%), Merlot (25%), Braucol (aka Fer, 25%) and Syrah (25%) from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Short maceration. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Barely sulphured. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Fun nose of black and sour cherry segueing to plum, slate, papier d’Arménie and dried wood. In the piehole, it’s medium-bodied and supple, packed with ripe-sweet fruit atop a gravelly substrate. Souring acidity adds intrigue, slender tannins turn a little raspy on the finish. Hints of stem, old wood, red licorice, incense and faint burnt caramel linger. Nothing profound but food-friendly and ultra-drinkable, like a lip-smacking Beaujolais with extra savour and a bit of torque. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Here’s hoping Grosbois has a great 2017 vintage in Chinon but also continues making this Gaillac!

Written by carswell

September 19, 2017 at 10:38

A double dose of Tempranillo Blanco

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Grape vines are prone to mutating and winemakers prone to taking advantage of the results. One not uncommon example is red grape vines that mutate into white grape vines. Henri Gouges has a famous row of white Pinot Noir vines, propagated from an offshoot discovered in the 1940s, whose white berries are vinified to make a blanc de blancs (as opposed to a blanc de noirs, a white wine made from red grapes by minimizing the juice’s contact with the pigments in the skins). Tempranillo Blanco, a white mutation of Spain’s iconic red grape, was discovered in 1998 in Rioja Baja. (A grey-berried mutation called Tempranillo Royo or Tempranillo Gris has also been found in Toro.) After several years’ work to stabilize the variety, Tempranillo Blanco was authorized for use in white Rioja in 2004. Under the appellation rules, the grape can be used on its own or in blends, with Viura (aka Macabeo) generally considered the best blending partner. Two monovarietal Tempranillos recently showed up at the SAQ and we gave them a try.

Rioja 2016, Alto Cantabria, Inspiración, Valdemar ($19.90, 12591821)
100% Tempranillo Blanco sourced from the Alto Cantabria estate. The estate claims this was the first wine made from the grape; Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes says that honour goes to Ijalba. Fermented and matured on the lees in temperature-controlled (16°C) stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Oneo.
Odd but not unappealing nose of “cotton candy,” “peanuts,” “salty bread,” “Bazooka gum” and apple. Medium- to full-bodied. Dry but ripe-fruity (pear and pineapple), even juicy, with a salty mineral undercurrent and just enough acidity. Tasters note “tea tree” and “cucumber” on the sustained finish. Clean, savoury and involving, delivering a mouthful of flavour for under 20 bucks. Several around the table said they intended to buy this. (Buy again? Sure.)

Rioja 2016, Tempranillo Blanco, Edición Limitada, Rioja Vega ($22.50, 12489157)
100% Tempranillo Blanco. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine spent six months on the fine lees in French oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importation Épicurienne.
Minerals, apple, ash and preserved lemon mark the nose. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied, rich and round. The fruit tends to white pear and apple with tropical and citrus overtones. The oak adds spice but also calls attention to itself, especially on the long finish. Not exactly refreshing and probably best thought of as a food wine, though fans of big, New Worldish wines might feel differently. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

September 17, 2017 at 12:58

Jaune and jauneish

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Vin de France 2011, 3.11, Bertin-Delatte ($38.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in 2008, the three-hectare estate is based in Rablay-sur-Layon. This 100% Chenin Blanc is from organically farmed young vines. The grapes, which normally would have been used for the flagship L’Échalier bottling, are harvested by hand and gently pressed. Barrel-fermented and -matured. The barrels were not topped up and a veil of yeast formed on the surface, much like on a vin jaune. This one-off experiment spent five years in the barrel. Unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur is minimal. Three barrels (800 bottles) were made; that and the last two digits of the vintage explain the name. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Typically oxidized nose of nutty yellow fruit but maybe not as complex or opulent as a good vin jaune’s. Lovely on the palate: sleek textured, lightly oxidized, clean fruited and minerally with great acidity, freshness and length. “Très chenin” and “great Chenin character” note other tasters. More than just a curiosity. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Jura 2009, Vin Jaune, Domaine Pignier ($102.10/620 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the 13th century and in the hands of the Pignier family since 1794, the estate is located in the commune of Montaigu in the southern Jura. 100% Savagnin from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in clayey calcareous marl with Lias slate. Manually harvested. Fermented and matured in untopped-up oak barrels under a yeast veil for seven years. No added yeast. No chaptalization or racking. Bottled according to the lunar calendar. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
On the nose, it’s a beautiful, subtle mix of nuts, yellow fruit, straw and white minerals. In the mouth, it’s a perfect balance between the pure fruit, fine acidity and imposing minerality. Not as oxidized as some but elegant, “accessible” and “super fresh.” (Buy again? If feeling flush, yes.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 9 of 9

Written by carswell

September 3, 2017 at 14:05

Winey dancer

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Vin de France 2015, La Danseuse, Bainbridge and Cathcart ($32.34, private import, 6 bottles/case)
British expat Tony Bainbridge and his American wife Julie worked in wine and ESL in Burgundy before moving to the Loire, where Tony initially held a job at Domaine Mosse. In 2007, with the help of Ali and Rob Cathcart, the couple acquired 4.2 hectares of vineyards in Faye d’Anjou and Chavagnes les Eaux. Total production is around 6,500 bottles. This rosé sparkler is 100% Grolleau from organically farmed grapes. The grapes are manually harvested, given a short maceration on the skins and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Fermentation continues in the bottles, which are riddled and eventually disgorged. Unfiltered, unfined and, like all the estate’s wines, bottled in a clear champagne bottle and closed with a crown cap. The name (“the dancer”) refers to the barrel of wine that, back in the day, a vigneron would set aside for his mistress. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Delightful nose of strawberry pastry, “rugelach” (per another taster), a touch of arugula and yeast. Clean and dryish in the mouth, with bright-verging-on-tart acidity cutting any residual sugar. Tiny prickly bubbles add texture and lift. The load of minerals makes the wine taste more white than red, despite the beguiling strawberry overtones. Some caramel cream creeps in on the finish. Fresh, lip-smacking and super-drinkable. (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Written by carswell

August 25, 2017 at 12:11

Alois and Eloi

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The only connection between the wines in the last flight was that both were bigger reds that had caught my attention, the Trebulanum because it is made from a grape I’d never heard of, let alone tasted, the Trévallon because it was reportedly excellent and I’d been giving the wine a pass since an unhappy encounter with the 2007. The wines were double-carafed about four hours before we tasted them.

Terre del Volturno 2011, Trebulanum, Casavecchia, Alois ($44.00, 12628604)
Contrary to what SAQ.com claims, this is not made by the Piedmontese Azienda Agricola Casavecchia but by the Campanian estate Vini Alois, which is based in Pontelatone. 100% Cassavecchia from organically farmed wines averaging 20 to 25 years old and rooted in the mineral-rich volcanic soil of the 1.5 ha Cesone vineyard. Manually harvested. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration on the skins with regular pump-overs took place in stainless steel tanks and last 20 days. Transferred to large botti for 18 months, during which time it underwent complete malolactic fermentation. Racked into large botti for 12 months’ further maturation. Aged in bottles for six months. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Diamond Estates.
Wafting nose of ink, old leather, Chambord, “peat” and “smoke.” Dark and dense on the plate, rich in black raspberry fruity and slatey minerals. Tannins confer a velvet astringency, acidity a certain freshness. Finishes long. Spice and leather linger. Powerful, earthy and “too young” but not hot or harsh. Speaks of its place and, despite the modern wine-making, of an older time. (Buy again? Yes, and not just for curiosity’s sake.)

Alpilles 2013, Domaine de Trévallon ($85.25, 13269359)
Now in his mid-60s, Eloi Dürrbach began making wine in 1973, when he gave up architecture to manage a vacation property and a few vines his parents had bought. This, then, is his 40th vintage. A 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from organically farmed vines rooted in limestone and clay. The whole clusters were fermented with indigenous yeasts with regular punch-downs and pump-overs. Matured 24 months on the lees in foudres (95%) and barrels (5%). Fined with egg whites. Unfiltered. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: LVAB.
An initially disconcerting nose of peas, “ketchup maison,” “beets” and beef bouillon gives way to plum, cassis, blackberry and garrigue. Rich and satiny in the mouth. The balance between the layered fruit, fleshy tannins and racy acidity is something to behold. Overtoned with black olive and leather, the minerally, bitter-edged finish seems to go on forever. Accessible yet capable of long ageing. One of the great wines of Provence. (Buy again? If I can scrape together the bucks…)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

August 10, 2017 at 13:10

Barrel-aged, new moon, off-track

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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