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Posts Tagged ‘Off the beaten path

Ward & associés tasting (6/9)

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Franken 2015, Kleine Wanderlust, 2Naturkinder ($28.32, private import, 6 bottles/case)
80% Regent and 20% Dornfelder from estate-owned, organically farmed vines around 15 and 30 years old respectively. The former was fermented on the skins for two weeks; the latter was crushed by foot and given semi-carbonic maceration for a week. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees in old oak. No added anything, including sulphur dioxide. Unfiltered and unfined. Bottled in April 2016. 3,000 bottles made. 10.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

kleine-wanderlust

Effusive nose: floral, slate, pink peppercorn, “raspberry-cherry hybrid.” Some rose shows up in the mouth along with a bit of grip on the finish. The fruit is dark and black curranty, the acidity energetic but well integrated. A touch of velours in no way interferes with the wine’s impressive fluidity. Certifiably chuggable. And check out that alcohol level! (Buy again? Yup.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 6 of 9

Ward & associés tasting (4/9)

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Moravie 2014, Klasika, Hibernal, Milan Nestarec ($31.33, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Hibernal from estate-owned, organically farmed, 14-year-old vines grown in southern Moravia in the Czech Republic. Fermented and matured for 13 months in 600-litre barrels, one-third of which were new. No clarification or filtration. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

nestarec-hibernal

Rich gold-bronze in the glass. Refulgent nose that, notes of “sesame oil” and “dried orange peel” notwithstanding, you could be forgiven for thinking belonged to a sweet Tokaji. Dry and unctuous on the palate, the lively acidity softened by the dense extract. Flavours are a beguiling mix of “canned peaches,” “apricot jam” yellow apple and dusty minerals. Great breadth, good length and not a lot of depth, making this a here-now wine. Unique and memorable, especially for the bouquet. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 4 of 9

Greek trio

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Crete 2015, Vilana, Lyrarakis ($14.05, 11607553)
100% Vilana from vineyards in Alagni, central Crete, south-southeast of Heraklion. Manually harvested. Half the grapes were whole-cluster pressed; the other half were destemmed and cold-macerated on the skins for several hours. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled (17-19°C) stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Focus Cellars.
Chalk, quartz, matches and a hint of dried herbs. Clean, light and smooth in the mouth, with citrusy, Sauvignon Blanc-like fruit, good acidity and a decently long, clean, minerally finish. Certainly drinkable but also somewhat simple and a bit anonymous. Would like to taste the more upscale bottling. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Patras 2015, Roditis, Tetramythos Winery ($15.80, 12484575)
100% Roditis from organically farmed vines in limestone-soil vineyards located about 10 km south and 800 metres above the Gulf of Corinth. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and pneumatically pressed. The must is gravity-fed into small, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Expressive nose of candied white berries, quartz dust and a hint of jalapeño. The fruity extract and lemon overtones notwithstanding, minerally – even rainwatery – on the palate, an impression only heightened by the brisk acidity. Ripe-sweet upfront, dry on the long, saline finish. Direct and to the point. Experience shows this really comes into its own with a selection of meze or a grilled porgy. (Buy again? Yes.)

Markopoulo 2015, Savatiano, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Papagiannakos ($16.55, 11097451)
100% Savatiano from unirrigated 50-year-old vines in rocky, limestone soil a few kilometres east of Athens airport. Manually harvested. Fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (16-18°C) stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for three months. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The nose’s combination of floral notes, sandy beach, lemon curd and white peach is unique. Lemon with hints of tropical fruit, a mineral substrate and bright but unaggressive acidity mark the palate. A bitter thread weaves through the long finish. Probably the most versatile of the trio. As the 2008 Estate bottling tasted last summer showed, Savatiano is capable of improving with age. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to cellar for five or six years.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

January 27, 2017 at 14:49

Two Channing Daughters

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North Fork of Long Island 2014, Rosso Fresco, Channing Daughters (US$20.00 at the winery)
Always a blend, though the grapes and percentages change from vintage to vintage. The 2014 is 39% Merlot, 21% Dornfelder, 16% Syrah 3% Lagrein, 3% Teroldego and 1% Blaufränkisch. The grapes are hand-picked, destemmed and crushed by foot. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and regular punch-downs. Matured eight months is old oak barrels. Filtered but not fined.
Red berries, graphite and a hint of barnyard. Medium-bodied. Structured more by bright acidity than the supple tannins, the juicy fruit slow fades to old wood and minerals. Overtones of sweet spice and “salted plum” linger into the finish, which seems anchored by a not unpleasant bitterness. Simple but not facile, and really quite drinkable. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the US$14 it goes for in some New York City wine shops.)

The Hamptons 2013, Blaufränkisch, Sylvanus Vineyard, Channing Daughters (US$26.00 at the winery)
A 75-25 blend of Blaufränkisch and Dornfelder from vines planted in 1999. The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and crushed by foot. Fermented with regular punch-downs. Matured 12 months in old hogsheads, puncheons and barriques made from French and Slovenian oak. Gravity-bottled without fining or filtration. 12% ABV.
“Smells like a permanent” says one taster. “Aubergine” and “rotting leaves” add others. I also get blackberry tea, sawed wood, graphite and eventually spice. In the mouth, it’s richer, rounder and more dimensional than the Rosso Fresco. Bone dry, with sleek acidity and medium if chewy tannins. The fruit has noticeable dark cherry and mineral components, especially iron, like you sometimes get in red meat. A radicchio-like bitter streak appears on the finish. Savoury, even earthy and a bit unsmiling, this would probably be better with food. At C$33.75, the QPR seems a little off compared with its Austrian counterparts. (Buy again? Another bottle to try at the dining table.)

MWG September 8, 2016, tasting: flight 3 of 6

Written by carswell

October 25, 2016 at 11:42

Among the great Mediterranean reds

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The technical information for these two wines is identical. The fruit comes from organically farmed, 70- to 90-year-old, dry-farmed, low-yielding, ungrafted vines grown on the Ziros plateau in eastern Crete. The must is fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement vats and matured in old French oak barrels. The wines are bottled unfiltered, unfined and with only a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide.

Since the late 1990s, the Sitia appellation has required reds to be a blend of Liatiko and Mandilaria. As the 2006 is all Liatiko, it had to take the broader Crete appellation. Economou doesn’t release wines until he thinks they are ready; that said, this isn’t the first shipment of the 2006 to arrive in Quebec.

Both wines were carafed two or three hours before serving and both benefited enormously from it.

Crete 2006, Liatiko, Domaine Economou ($56.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Liatiko. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The room fell silent as the wines were poured and people started smelling them. Aside from oohs and ahs, the first utterance was in reference to this: “I could drown in it.” An in-pulling, umami-rich nose of plum and cherry, Mediterranean scrub and the earth its rooted in, sea breeze, obsidian dust, violets and more. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied and possessed of a fluid texture. Ripe but not jammy fruit, smooth but very present acidity and fine but sturdy tannins are all in perfect equilibrium. Dark minerals run like an underground river. Flavours and aromas echoing the nose unfurl from the mid-palate though the long finish. Still vibrant and vigorous at ten years of age. A beauty. (Buy again? Yes.)

Sitia 1999, Domaine Economou ($78.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of 80% Liatiko and 20% Mandilaria. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
More subdued and, if anything, more involving. Evolved, profound nose: mushroom and truffle, leather, dark fruit, cocoa, hints of violets and dried orange peel. Dense and velvety yet medium-bodied. The fruit is a mixture of fresh and dried plums and cherries, the acidity is fluent and sustained, the tannins are resolved but still structuring. Strata of minerals, earth, tar and old wood provide ballast and depth. The finish goes on and on, like the afterglow of a perfect summer day. A magnificent, transporting wine that I suspect is near or at peak, though most definitely not on its last legs. (Buy again? If the opportunity ever presents itself again, yes.)

I repeat what I wrote two years ago: these are among the great Mediterranean reds. While neither wine could come from anywhere but Crete, Economou’s training at top estates in Bordeaux and Barolo is apparent in both.

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 7 of 8

Written by carswell

September 22, 2016 at 14:21

A rocky landscape shimmering in a summer haze

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Crete 2014, Rosé de Liatiko, Domaine Economou ($32.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Liatiko from organically farmed, ungrafted old vines. After a short maceration on the skins, the grapes are pressed and the must is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Maturation is in old barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. Minimal added sulphur and then only at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Wafting, complex nose: pumice, dried herbs, distant red fruit and a touch of animale. In the mouth, it’s both mysterious and present, like a rocky landscape shimmering in a summer haze. Dried strawberry and stony, sun-baked earth are carried on a stream of acidity. The gauzy layers include garrigue, salt and dried flowers. Dry and long. A rosé with the colour and weight of a Poulsard but aromas and flavours that transport you to a Mediterranean mountainside. A profoundly beautiful wine. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 4 of 8

Written by carswell

September 15, 2016 at 13:55

White gold

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The centrepieces of the August 12th tasting were five newly arrived wines from one of the stars in the Greek wine firmament, Domaine Economou. We began with the whites. Reliable technical information for Economou wines is hard to come by. As far as I can ascertain, both wines are made in a similar way: fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks, matured in assorted containers (possibly including old casks, stainless steel tanks, fibreglass vats and underground cement tanks) and bottled unfiltered and unfined with a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide.

Sitia 2013, Vilana/Thrapsathiri, Domaine Economou ($51.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend, typically 70-30, of Vilana and Thrapsathiri from organically farmed, ungrafted, estate-grown vines. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Fascinating, nuanced nose: honey, almond, sea salt, distant apple, pear and maybe even pumpkin, a not unappealing hint of rancid butter. Dry, rich and savoury with a slightly oily texture. Fresher than the 2009 due, I think, to sustained acidity and discreeter oxidative notes, which give the white fruit a yellow facet, as if it were poached with apricot and dried orange peel. The smooth, underlying minerality has me thinking of river stones. Long, layered and profound though not as deep as its flightmate. Unique and involving. (Buy again? Yes.)

Crete 2013, Assyrtiko, Domaine Economou ($51.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Assyrtiko from organically farmed, ungrafted vines. Assyrtiko not being a permitted variety in the Sitia PDO, the wine qualifies only for the broader Crete PGI designation. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
“Round nose, like a Bâtard-Montrachet,” notes one taster. If there’s fruit, it’s poached pear intertwined with threads of pine tar, salt-rimed stone and an scent I peg as oak but the aforementioned taster characterizes as “roasted chestnuts.” In the mouth, the wine is weighty, structured, complex, deep and glowingly acidic. There’s an oxidized edge though not a distracting one, as it allows notes of lemon, honey, white nuts and anise seed to come through. Possessed of a long, uniquely savoury finish with a delectably bitter aftertaste. Different from its high-end Santorini counterparts – rounder, richer and less crystalline – but fully worthy of standing alongside them. (Buy again? Yes.)

In a discussion about the Assyrtiko, agent Theo Diamantis drew an analogy with a grand cru Riesling. He also wondered about food pairings. My ideas: fine white fish in a rich sauce, butter-poached lobster, grilled lamb chops, beef tartare (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it).

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 3 of 8

Written by carswell

September 14, 2016 at 14:04