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Posts Tagged ‘Organic

Gauzy Ozzie

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Blewitt Springs 2016, Chenin Pet nat, Jauma ($43.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded and run by former sommelier James Erskine and based in the Basket Range section of the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, Jauma is one of the leaders of Australia’s natural wine movement. An ancestral method sparkler. 100% Chenin Blanc from 60-year-old vines organically farmed by Fiona Wood. Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. Matured in French oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added anything, including sulphur. Crown cap. Residual sugar: ca. 10 g/l. 10.5% ABV. Also available in 12-bottle cases at the LCBO ($53.10, 361641). Quebec agent: WINO.

Hazy, pale yellow-beige. Super natural nose of lemon pith and apple, lees, “jasmine” (per another taster) or maybe honeysuckle and “a little hairspray.” Very dry in the mouth, with tiny, tickly bubbles. The zingy acidity and lemony flavours bring lemonade and maybe wheat beer to mind. The complex of minerals includes a saline streak. The long, savoury finish brings a chamomile or “chrysanthemum tea” note. Light, tart, refreshing and so much fun to drink. The Quebec – let alone Ontario – price does give one pause but this is an ideal summer sipper. (Buy again? A splurge bottle, yes.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 2 of 10

Written by carswell

August 22, 2017 at 12:48

Château Landra, take one

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WINO’s Martin Landry paid another visit to the Mo’ Wine Group in mid-July, this time bringing a baker’s dozen of private imports that he described as summer-friendly. We added a WINO bottle of our own to the wine-up, making 14 wines in all. We began with yet another impressive Clairette-based white.

Ventoux 2015, Château Landra ($30.40, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Located at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse, Château Landra is a 14-hectare estate that can trace its roots back to the late 1700s. The current winery was built between the two world wars, entitling the estate to the château designation and making it the first privately owned winery in the area. The current owners, Cécile and Frédéric Renoux, acquired the semi-abandoned property in 2007 and began restoring it. At present, the wine grape vineyards total 8.5 hectares; table grapes and olives are also grown. This, their flagship white, is a blend of Clairette (40%), Roussanne (30%) and Grenache Blanc (30%) from organically farmed vines averaging 20 years old. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified (with indigenous yeasts) separately. Half the wine is matured in stainless steel tanks, half on the lees in new barrels with regular stirring for four months. Lightly filtered. No added sulphur. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Complex, involving nose of honey pear, sun-baked quartz, mastic, hay stubble and “Meyer lemon.” Round and a bit unctuous in the mouth yet alive with nipping acidity. The swirl of fruit and sharp-edged minerals and echoing honey pear last well into the long, bitterish finish. “Fresh,” “spicy,” “dry” says the peanut gallery. “More, please,” says me. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 1 of 10

Written by carswell

August 21, 2017 at 13:35

Neo Naoussa

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Naoussa 2014, Domaine Thymiopoulos ($23.85, 13288218)
A new cuvée that, in price and sophistication, sits between the Jeunes vignes and the Terre et Ciel (the Xinomavro Nature, available through the private import channel, stands apart in more ways than one). 100% Xinomavro from organically farmed, 30-year-old vines rooted in volcanic and limestone soil and located between 180 and 500 metres above sea level. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. After alcoholic and malolatic fermentation, the wine was transferred into 500-litre oak barrels for 12 months’ maturation. Unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 2.4 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Protean nose of, among other things, black cherry, wild strawberry, black olive, balsamic vinegar, old leather, earth and violet. Medium-bodied and, despite the fine, firm tannins, supple. Fruity but dry, with freshening acidity, flavours that echo the nose and a slatey underlay. Any oak is very sotto voce. The finish is savoury, while earth and sweet-spicy notes linger. Clean, pure and eminently drinkable. Food-friendly too. May be the most elegant Xinomavro I’ve tasted. Unsurprisingly, the limited quantities are disappearing fast. (Buy again? Of course.)

Written by carswell

August 17, 2017 at 12:51

A toast to Haridimos Hatzidakis

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Originally from Crete, Haridimos Hatzidakis founded his eponymous estate in Pyrgos, on Santorini, in 1996, replanting a vineyard that had been abandoned 40 years earlier after the devastating 1956 earthquake. Today the estate comprises 10 hectares of owned and leased vineyards. Assyrtiko, Aidani and Mavrotragano are grown and the farming is organic, still something of a rarity on the island.

Hatzidakis’s wines, which the Mo’ Wine Group began discovering when some of the 2008s became available through the private import channel, quickly convinced me that Santorini was one of the world’s great wine appellations and that Hatzidakis was one of the world’s great winemakers. My first encounter with the Mylos, again the 2008, had me claiming it was one of the world’s great whites, a claim subsequent encounters and vintages have not called into doubt.

I met Hatzidakis only once, at last year’s Salon des vins d’importation privée. He seemed a humble, somewhat shy, soft-spoken man who needed only a little prompting to reveal his passion for wine-making, organic farming and Santorini. He spoke with pride about his new winery and encouraged me to visit if I made it back to the island. It is something I ardently hope to do but, alas, it won’t be in his company: Haridimos Hatzidakis died last Friday, suddenly and of causes yet unknown.

On Saturday, friends and I opened a bottle of the recently arrived 2016 Mylos, arguably the estate’s flagship wine, and raised a glass in honour of Haridimos’s life and accomplishments and in the hope that his legacy lives on.

Santorini 2016, Assyrtiko de Mylos, Vieilles Vignes, Hatzidakis ($51.75, 12338834)
100% Assyrtiko from dry-farmed old vines – ungrafted like all Santorini vines – that average 150 to 300 years old. The certified organic, late-harvested grapes were picked by hand, destemmed, cooled, crushed and macerated on their skins for 12 hours. Fermentation (at 18°C with indigenous yeasts) and maturation (on the lees) took place in stainless steel tanks and lasted 10 months. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with minimal sulphur dioxide. About 3,000 bottles made. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.

Already pale gold in colour. Tightly furled nose that blossoms as the wine breathes: preserved lemon, minerals, hints of petrol and fish oil and eventually Mediterranean herbs. Weighty in the mouth, with an oily texture, Mayer lemon flavours, a mineral structure and an astounding salinity. Assyrtiko’s trademark acidity is here turned stealthy by the dense extract. Dominated by citrus-pith and sharp-edged minerals and developing honeyed overtones, the intense finish lasts for minutes. Made a credible pairing for grilled octopus dressed with wine vinegar, olive oil, red onion and capers and a superb match for bucantini with olive oil, lemon, leek and bottarga, which brought out the wine’s fruit (“though it’s fruity in the sense that olives are fruity,” as another imbiber noted). (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

Earlier vintages of this wine have “aged” quickly, turning a rich gold-bronze, gaining pronounced oxidative and honeyed notes, the acidity smoothing out, the minerality receding slightly. However disconcerting this can be at first, you are soon won over by the wine’s richness, authority and infinitely layered complexity. At that stage, it is excellent with grilled lamb chops (recipe after the jump) and sublime with beef tartare.

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Written by carswell

August 15, 2017 at 13:23

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

Francs et graves

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Côtes de Bordeaux Francs 2014, Emilien, Château le Puy ($28.15, 00709469)
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère (typically 85%, 14% and 1% respectively) from biodynamically and organically farmed 50-year-old vines. The grapes are fully destemmed. Fermentation in open, temperature-controlled vats with indigenous yeasts and no chaptalization lasts two to four weeks. Matured 14 months in large foudres and 11 months in third- to fifth-fill oak casks. Bottled unfiltered with only a small dose of sulphur. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. A few 500 ml bottles of the 2012 can also be found ($20.75, 00896399). Quebec agent: A.O.C.
Intriguing nose that gets the aroma-namers going: plum, “edamame,” “nigella,” “pickled turnip juice.” Medium-bodied. The pure fruit and graphite underlay are nicely structured by fine, firm tannins and bright acidity. Finishes long and clean with faint notes of tobacco and spice. This perennial favourite is true to form in 2014: a savoury, refreshing, eminently drinkable wine that everybody always enjoys. The QPR is high on this one. (Buy again? Yep.)

Graves 2015, Clos 19 Bis/Vincent Quirac ($31.05, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the late 2000s, the tiny (1.5 hectare) estate makes a Sauternes and a red Graves. The latter is a blend of Merlot (around 50%), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old and rooted in gravelly soil over a clayey-calcareous base. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified separately. The Merlot is cold-macerated before fermentation for a week, the Cabernets are directly fermented. Fermentation at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts, punch-downs and pour-overs (using buckets, not pumps) lasts 10 days. The wine is then left on it skins for another eight to 10 days. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vini-Vins.
Cherry, cassis, “cocoa powder and ashes” and a strong whiff of volatile acidity. Quite disjointed in the mouth, with a harsh verging on acrid note, a problem that airing and swirling didn’t resolve. Bears little resemblance to the fresh, clean, juicy-fruited, mineral-laden, roundly structured, medium-bodied wine enjoyed a few days earlier. Clearly defective and, as such, a disappointment. (Buy again? Based on the earlier bottle, yes.)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

August 9, 2017 at 15:22

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