Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘Off the beaten path

Nativi di Lazio

leave a comment »

Based in Cori, founded in 1947 and named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Cincinnato is a well-run cooperative that makes a wide range of red, white, sparkling and dessert wines from local varieties as well as grappa and olive oil. The 255 members farm 550 hectares, 100 of which are worked organically.

Lazio 2014, Cesanese, Arcatura, Cincinnato ($21.70, 13096689)
100% Cesanese from vines rooted in volcanic-clay soil. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and soft-pressed. Fermentation on the skins in temperature-controlled (24°C) tanks lasted around 11 days. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Half was matured in French oak barrels (first, second and third fill) for eight months and half in stainless steel tanks for nine months. Filtered before bottling. Aged in the bottle for six months before release. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
The first bottle is corked. The backup has an intriguing nose of “buckwheat honey,” cocoa, sweet spices, background plum, “copper, like pennies” and, eventually, leafmould. In the mouth, it’s fluid, medium-bodied and super smooth. The ripe fruit, soft acidity and round tannins. Decent finish. A little overshadowed by its flightmate, though that could be due to its being popped and poured. (Buy again? Sure.)

Lazio 2013, Nero Buono, Ercole, Cincinnato ($23.25, 12557754)
100% Nero Buono, a teinturier (red-fleshed) grape, from 15- to 20-year-old vines rooted in volcanic-clay soil. The manually harvested grapes were destemmed and soft-pressed. Fermentation on the skins in temperature-controlled (23°C) stainless steel tanks lasted around 15 days. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured in French oak barrels (first, second and third fill) on the lees for 12 months and in the bottle for eight months. Filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Not carafed but allowed to breath for a couple of hours before serving. Dark – verging on black – in the glass. Extroverted nose of dark berries, “dried banana,” “old leather,” tobacco, “baking spices” and a hint of orange chocolate. Richer than the Cesanese. The intense core of fruit is overtoned with spice. Smooth acidity and velvety tannins are pretty sotto voce yet present enough to provide buoyancy and tone. The oak is obvious but not obnoxious. Orange chocolate returns on the credible finish. A bit New Worldish and far from deep, complex or subtle but authentic and likeable all the same. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

December 22, 2017 at 15:02

Antipodal Savagnins

with one comment

Côtes du Jura 2015, Savagnin, Les Sarres, Domaine Rijckaert ($29.95, 12951356)
The estate avoids herbicides and insecticides and limits its use of synthetic chemicals to treatments against mildew and odium. All the estate’s wines are made in barrels. 100% Savagnin from the Les Sarres vineyard located in Buvilly. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Underwent full malolactic fermentation. Matured two years on the lees in neutral French oak barrels with no stirring. Kept topped up, so not oxidized. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Slightly hazy pale electrum to the eye. Minerally nose of lemon and grapefruit with hints of potpourri and almond. In the mouth, it’s clean and tonic. The fruit (lemon, yellow plum) is sweet-seeming on the attack, though the wine is actually very dry. There’s a real mineral depth, including a shot of salinity. The bright acidity combines with a faint bitterness on the long finish to provide a bit of grip. Less electric than some Savagnins but still a fine example of what the grape can do. (Buy again? Sure.)

Adelaide Hills 2016, Skin n’ Bones White, BK Wines ($35.00, importation valise)
The South Australian estate was founded in 2007 by Brendon and Kristy Keys. This monovarietal is made using Savagnin from organically farmed 10-year-old vines rooted in limestone and sandstone over deep clay in Lobethal in the cool-climate Lenswood subregion. The grapes were manually harvested and fully destemmed but not crushed. Spent one month on the skins with twice-daily pump-overs, then was pressed and racked into neutral French oak barrels with regular stirring for nine months. Alcoholic and full malolactic fermentation were spontaneous. Total production: 200 cases. 11.8% ABV. Represented in western Canada by Calgary-based Crush Imports.
One-of-a-kind nose of “smoked fish,” “sushi” and “barbecued corn” (quoting other tasters) as well as dried apricot and, with time, green fruit (kiwi, melon) and herbal notes. Dry, fluid and layered. Nicely structured with pervasive but smooth acidity, a current of white minerals and ghostly tannins that last well into the long finish. Grape skins and apricot pit linger. As unusual and engaging as it is savoury and delicious. (Buy again? Gladly.)

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

November 10, 2017 at 13:31

Orange roughly

leave a comment »

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

Written by carswell

October 4, 2017 at 11:29

My mother’s cousin’s kitchen…

leave a comment »

…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

leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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 lasted 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 fruit 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

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 Catalan 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