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See You in Hell, Winter!

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SEE YOU IN HELL, WINTER!

First grill-out of the summer

WEINPLATZ + DEUX CAVES + PLAN VIN + AGENCE SANS NOM + PORK FUTURES

This Sunday, May 20, three of our favourite wine agencies are joining forces with one of our favourite food purveyors to hold an event at one of our favourite venues. Specifically, Deux Caves, Plan Vin and Agence sans nom (aka Vadim Fonta) will be pouring two wines each while the Pork Futures guys will be serving grilled sausage sandwiches (buns by Automne) at Alexandraplatz (6731 de l’Esplanade) between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Among the imbibables will be a Beaujolais from Kéké Descomes, a skin-contact Riesling from Chanterêves, an orange wine and sparkling red from Vadim’s portfolio and a sparkling Riesling made just outside Champagne by Jacques Beaufort’s son. The agencies involved are waiving their fees, so glasses will probably run around $10. What’s more, the forecast is now for clearing skies and mild temperatures.

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Written by carswell

May 17, 2018 at 12:10

MWG May 15th tasting (5/6): Three vintages of Lo Vièlh

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Clos du Gravillas’s flagship red is Lo Vièlh (“the old one” in Occitan), a 100% old-vine Carignan that’s a vin de pays because Minervois AOC wines are not permitted to contain more than 40% of the variety. Planted in 1911, the vineyard was slated to be uprooted when the Bojanowskis convinced the owner to sell it to them in 1999.

The three wines in our vertical were essentially made the same way. The organically farmed grapes were manually harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured 12 months in French oak demi-muids. As the winemaker explained in a recent comment, the 2009 Lo Vièlh was showing some brettiness (the 2010 was made into the Côté Obscur), so all the barrels were replaced with new ones for the 2011.

Around 2,800 bottles are produced each vintage.

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2011, Lo Vièlh, Clos du Gravillas ($35.38, private import, 6 bottles/case)
14% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Bordeaux-ish nose, the red and black fruit intermixed with graphite, wood, ash and vanilla scents and eventually joined by spice and undergrowth. Dry, smooth and round but also coming across as somewhat primary and unintegrated, with the oak in particular standing out. The finish is long. At least a few of us found the new style disconcerting and not fully convincing – the wine’s high quality was not in doubt but we didn’t understand why the oak was thought necessary. Now we do. I’ll give my remaining bottle at least a couple of years to digest the oak and knit together. (Buy again? Maybe, though I might be tempted to wait for the 2012, in which, in the winemaker’s words, “the oak is down a notch and the pure carignan fruit can completely shine through.”)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2008, Lo Vièlh, Clos du Gravillas ($34.07, private import, NLA)
14% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Dark fruit, old wood, hints of elderberry, spice, forest floor, distant barnyard. Medium-bodied, silky and balanced, with fine acidity and a soft but persistent tannic undertow. A faint sourness adds dimension to the fruit, which is covered in thin veils of minerals, old leaves, wood. Long. A lovely wine that’s in a good place now and probably for some years to come. Would make a believer out of all but the most confirmed Carignan skeptics. (Buy again? Done!)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2004, Lo Vièlh, Clos du Gravillas ($36.60, private import, 6 bottles/case)
14% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Leather, slate, black raspberry, smoke and faint meat. Satiny texture. Not much structure or backbone, though with enough acidity to keep the fire burning. Some wondered whether the bottle was off, others thought it was simply a little past peak but still delicious. (Buy again? A bottle for research purposes.)

Written by carswell

June 12, 2014 at 10:23

MWG May 15th tasting (4/6): Moonstruck

with 3 comments

Finding their stone-covered vineyards reminiscent of a moonscape, the owners of Clos du Gravillas have chosen a crescent moon as their logo. It also appears on several of their labels.

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2010, Côté Obscur, Clos du Gravillas ($24.96, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Carignan from organically farmed 99-year-old vines, the grapes normally used for the estate’s flagship red, Lo Vièlh. In 2010, the wine took much longer to ferment and tasted so different from the usual Lo Vièlh, the owners decided to make it into a different wine named The Dark Side. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. 3,500 bottles produced. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Appealing nose of dill, spice, raspberry candy and a mass of black fruit. Medium-bodied. Fruity on the surface but with a dark undercurrent. Supple tannins and medium acidity keep things structured and fresh. Minerally and spicy, especially on the kirsch-toned finish. Tasty. (Buy again? Yes.)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2012, Sous les Cailloux des Grillons, Clos du Gravillas ($22.44, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A blend of organically farmed Syrah (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Carignan (10%), Grenache, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Manually harvested. Destemmend then lightly crushed by foot. Traditional but short vinification. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months in stainless steel tanks. 8,000 bottles produced. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Odd, stinky nose dominated by leather, animale and oyster shell aromas. Spritzy, as intended by the winemaker. Rich, fluid and quite dry. The fruit is clean, the tannins smooth, the acidity buoyant. The berry and slate flavours linger long. (Buy again? A bottle to see what’s up with the nose.)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2010, Rendez-vous du Soleil, Clos du Gravillas ($28.23, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Organically farmed Carignon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in equal proportions. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured a little over two years, mostly in stainless steel tanks, though the Cab and Syrah spend half the time in old oak barrels. 3,000 bottles produced. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Complex nose: leather, slate, candied cherry, mincemeat, hint of burned coffee. Round and dry and very present – a mouthful of spicy, peppery, blackcurranty fruit, sustained, velvety tannins and lowish acidity. The slatey finish has a lingering astringency and bitterness. The kind of generous red the Languedoc is known for. (Buy again? Maybe, though I wish it were $5 cheaper.)

Updated on June 10, 2014, with information provided by the winemaker (see comments).

Written by carswell

June 8, 2014 at 12:49

MWG May 15th tasting (3/6): Dry whites from Clos du Gravillas

with 2 comments

Founded in 1996, Clos du Gravillas is run by a husband and wife team (he’s from Kentucky, she’s from Narbonne). Their 8.5 hectares of vines, including a parcel of Carignan planted in 1911 and some old Grenache Blanc and Gris, are located on rocky soils within the Parc naturel régional du Haut-Languedoc and the Minervois AOC. The estate is certified organic.

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2012, Emmenez-moi au bout du Terret, Clos du Gravillas ($26.38, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Terret Gris from 50-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Vinified and matured for nine to 11 months in 500-litre Austrian oak barrels. 2,500 bottles produced. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Pungent nose: candied pear and lemon, wax, pastry with a hint of butterscotch and straw. Clean, rainwatery attack then swelling fruit and savour. Minerally and saline, with brisk acidity. Dry despite the ripe fruit. Quartzy finish. Unfortunately, our bottle wasn’t as fresh or pure as the one tasted a couple of weeks earlier at RASPIPAV’s Le printemps dézippé event. The delightful label takes its inspiration from the pun in the wine’s name, a play on Emmenez-moi au bout de la terre (take me to the end of the earth). Suggested food pairings: shellfish, lean fish, lemon chicken. (Buy again? Yes.)

Minervois 2011, L’Inattendu, Clos du Gravillas ($34.18, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of organically farmed old-vine Grenache Blanc and Gris (80%) and Macabeu (aka Macabeo, 20%). Manually harvested. After pressing, the juice is clarified by cold settling. Fermented and matured for nine to 11 months on the lees in 500-litre Austrian oak barrels. 3,000 bottles produced. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Complex nose: initially ash, then quartz, lily flower, white fruit and hints of burnt rubber and roasted poultry juices. In the mouth, multidimensional. Rich yet fluid, soft-textured yet acid-bright and minerally. A touch of honey flavours the lemony, applely fruit. Balanced and surprisingly fresh from start through the long finish. Memorable. As food parings, the winemaker suggests veal paprikash, white fish and cheeses. (Buy again? Done!)

VDP des Côtes du Brian 2012, Mademoiselle Lily, Clos du Gravillas ($25.64, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Organically farmed Viognier, Roussanne and Terret Gris. Manually harvested. Vinified and matured for 11 months in 500-litre Austrian oak barrels. 2,500 bottles produced. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Plan Vin.
Lemon meringue pie, Lemon Pledge, rose, Lifesavers. Aromatic, even floral, in the mouth with a rich texture. While it doesn’t come across as bone dry, it remains fluid and bright, due largely to the crisp acidity. A welcome bitter note marks the finish. A bit bonbon to my palate but popular with several around the table, who said they would serve it as an aperitif or summer sipper. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Updated on June 10, 2014, with information provided by the winemaker.