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Posts Tagged ‘Private imports

Two Dolcettos and a zinger

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Dogliani 2014, Valdibà, San Fereolo ($24.10, 12647709)
100% Dolcetto from organically and biodynamically farmed vines averaging 15 to 35 years old. The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and crushed. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts last around eight days and are not temperature-controlled beyond preventing the must from exceeding 29°C. The wine is then racked into clean tanks for malolactic fermentation, followed by four months’ maturation on the fine lees. Lastly, the wine is “clarified,” bottled and aged another six to 12 months before release. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Outgoing nose of mulberry, smoke, mineral, “ashtray” and dried rose. In the mouth, it’s supple, pure and caressing, with soft tannins, bright acidity, sweet-tart fruit and an underlay of earthy slate. A floral note overtones the long finish. An admirable effort from a difficult (read cool and wet) vintage. Probably not a keeper but a winner here and now. (Buy again? Yes.)

Dogliani 2015, Briccolero, Chionetti Quinto ($25.55, 12131112)
For background on the estate, which is converting to organic farming, see here. 100% Dolcetto from vines averaging around 45 years old. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Soft-pressed. Maceration on the skins and fermentation with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks (29-30°C) last around two weeks. Matured around 11 months in stainless steel tanks. Cold-stabilized but not filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Powerful, youthful nose of mulberry, blackberry, plum and not much else (complexity will come with time). A sip reveals an extracted wine that remains fluid despite its richness. Dark fruit and slatey minerals cloak firm, raspy tannins. Sleek acidity adds welcome brightness, the long drying finish an appetizing bitterness. Achieves a fine balance between fruit and structure, finesse and power. Enjoyable now but will benefit from time in the bottle. (Buy again? Yes, especially to cellar for a decade or more.)

Langhe Nebbiolo 2011, Il Provinciale, San Fereolo ($40.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Nebbiolo from organically and biodynamically farmed vines planted in the commune of Dogliani. The grapes are picked by hand, destemmed and crushed. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts last around three weeks and take place in wooden vats. The fermentation temperature is not controlled. The wine is racked into large Slavonian oak barrels, where it matures on its lees with regular stirrings and undergoes spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Unfiltered and unfined. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Spice, thyme and “baloney” segue into red berries, floral aromatics and a hint of tar. On the fuller side of medium-bodied, the texture somewhere between silk and satin. Notable for its beautiful surface (such pure fruit), considerable depth (flavours, minerals and wood) and elegant structure (firm yet flexible tannins, bright yet integrated acidity). One taster declares it a little too heady but I don’t find the alcohol intrusive. Indeed, this seems like a model for what Nebbiolo can achieve outside of Barolo and Barbaresco. (Buy again? Def.)

Crossed wires meant the 2009 San Fereolo Dogliani I thought I’d ordered ended up being the 2011 Provinciale. Not a problem. For most tasters, it was the wine of the flight if not the night. Actually, a small riot nearly ensued when it was learned that the wine was sold out and that four bottles from our case were all that was available for purchase.

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

April 26, 2017 at 12:49

Archetypical and atypical

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Sancerre 2015, Domaine Vacheron ($36.25, 10523892)
100% Sauvignon Blanc from organically farmed massal selection vines. The grapes are manually harvested and gently pressed. The must is chilled and clarified by settling. Low-temperature (<20°C) fermentation and maturation on the lees take place in stainless steel tanks. Filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 3.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Textbook Loire Sauvignon Blanc nose: gooseberry, citrus, grass, chalk and flint. Rich bordering on lush, sleek and impressively pure. Fruity upfront with a mineral substrate emerging as the wine moves through the mouth. The considerable extract rounds the bright acidity. Long, lively, saline finish. Initially engaging, the wine’s youthful exuberance came across as a little caricatural and fatiguing by the end of the glass, a bit like a bouncy puppy or some New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs for that matter. Will be interesting to see what transpires in two or three years. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Sancerre 2013, Constellation du Scorpion, Vincent Gaudry ($41.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
This is a new name for a bottling formerly called L’Esprit de Rudolph in honour of the founder of biodynamism, Rudolph Steiner. Gaudry is reportedly secretive about his methods and not much technical information about this wine is to be found. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in flinty soil. Partially matured in oak barrels. Unfiltered. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Wafting nose of grapefruit, chalk and quartz dust, “pink flowers” and “thyme.” Rainwatery yet also very present. The rich texture is lightened by “lime acidity,” deepened by a chalky underlay. A hint of caramel appears on the long finish. “A Sancerre that wants to be a Chardonnay,” concludes one taster. Subtle and subdued yet complex and delicious says me. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

April 21, 2017 at 15:39

WINO tasting (6/6)

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Located between Siena and Arezzo, the 60-hectare Fattoria di Caspri estate has nine hectares of grape vines and seven hectares of olive trees. The estate’s founding dates back nearly to the beginning of the Common Era, when Roman general Casperius Aelianus made it his home. The current main building is a relative youngster, having been built in the 18th century.

Farming has been organic and biodynamic since 2006, when the estate was acquired by its current owners. The soil tends to be light and sandy mixed with decomposed gneiss and a little clay. While the focus is on traditional grape varieties (mainly Sangiovese, Canaiolo Cillegiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia), the estate also has experimental plots of Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir.

The wine-making is identical for all the reds. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in small, non-temperature-controlled conical vats with indigenous yeasts. Total maceration time is three to four weeks. After pressing, the wine is transferred into old barrels for 18 to 20 months’ maturation. The wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. No sulphur is added.

IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Rosso di Caspri, Fattoria di Caspri ($31.21, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from young vines. 12.3% ABV. 650 cases made. Quebec agent: WINO.
Attractive nose of bitter cherry, fresh herbs, slate, turned earth and a little ash. “Kind of meaty” is the first (and accurate) comment about the flavour of this medium-bodied and very dry wine. Red fruit, tingly acidity and fine astringent tannins made for a somewhat austere if appealingly rustic mouthful. Finishes clean. (Buy again? Sure.)

IGT Toscana Rosso 2013, Poggio Cuccule, Fattoria di Caspri ($41.15, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Sangiovese from 45-year-old vines. 125 cases made. 13.1% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Gorgeous, floral nose of cherry, fresh almond and old wood. Medium-bodied. A sip is like biting into a morello cherry. Fresh, fleet, intense and pure. The energy is palpable and the wine seems lit from within by glowing acidity. The tannins are fruit-cloaked. Minerals, wood and earth undertones add depth, not darkness. Finishes long and clean. Stunning Sangiovese. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

IGT Toscana Rosso 2014, Casperius, Fattoria di Caspri ($67.31, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Sangiovese and Syrah. 12.7% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Closed nose that with coaxing reveals red fruit, dried herb, violet, leather and mint notes and a whiff of barnyard. In the mouth, it’s fuller-bodied, smoother, rounder and less acidic than its flightmates, though it does share some of the Rosso’s meatiness. Depth, breadth and length it has in spades though it would probably benefit from a year or two to come together. Perhaps a little overshadowed by the Poggio Cuccule, I suspect this would prove wholly satisfactory on its own at dinner. (Buy again? Maybe.)

IGT Toscana 2010, Luna Blu, Fattoria di Caspri ($28.50 in 2013, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
An orange wine made from a 50-50 blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia. Macerated on the skins for four weeks before pressing. Matured in small wood barrels. No filtering, fining or added sulphur. Under 100 cases made. 13.3% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV at the time, now WINO. The newest vintage is slated to arrive later this spring.

Bronze with a rosé cast. Sultry nose of “elderflower,” sawdust and hints of apricot skin and dried tangerine peel. Rich and smooth in the mouth, bright acidity notwithstanding. Fruity yet dry, the flavours tending to citrus and spice with a mineral undercurrent. Faint tannins add a little grit to the otherwise sleek texture. Long. As mentioned in my October 2013 tasting note, the winemaker has stated that the wine would be at its apogee in 2017. In the event, while it may not be the deepest, most structured or even most involving orange wine, it is definitely a pleasure to drink. Paired beautifully with a selection of cheeses from Yannick, especially a raw-milk L’Étivaz. (Buy again? Moot. But I’m looking forward to the new vintage.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 6 of 6

WINO tasting (5/6)

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Vin de France 2015, Le Vin de Blaise ($49.67, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Run by Paris-based Stéphanie Rougnon and located in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes in the Rhône valley, the three-hectare family estate is in the second year of conversion to organic farming. (Blaise Granier, Nathalie’s great-great-grandfather, first planted vines there.) This, the inaugural vintage of its first wine, is mostly Cinsault with a little Grenache and Carignan from vines more than half a century old. In 2015, a total of 1,167 bottles were produced; in 2016, production rose to 1,800 bottles plus 100 bottles of rosé. The grapes are not coplanted but are cofermented after being hand-picked and crushed. The free run juice is transferred to a stainless steel tank and the grapes are pressed. The resulting must is added to the free run juice and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Unfiltered and unfined. No added anything except maybe a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Solar red and black fruit and minerals (“like the Siccagno” notes one taster), sukiyaki, spice, lemon zest and background leather. Medium-bodied and fruit-forward, and such pure fruit it is. Coursing acidity delivers freshness in spades and imbues the fruit with a lip-smacking tartness. Layered minerals add depth while supple, raspy tannins give grain to the silky texture. Finishes long and clean. So bright and alive, so up my alley. Just about everyone around the table loved this wine and also felt the QPR was wacky. The price of admission to a limited edition? A natural wine that demands a credit line? (Buy again? A case… if it were 30 bucks a bottle.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

April 6, 2017 at 12:00

WINO tasting (4/6)

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Based in Curtil-Vergy, between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Vosne-Romanée, Bertrand Machard de Gramont founded his eponymous estate in 1983. In 2004, he was joined by his daughter Axelle, who has since taken the reins and converted the estate to organic farming. A replanting of the long-abandoned Vallerots terraces in 2001 raised the total surface area to six hectares. Besides the five wines we tasted, the estate makes an Aligoté, a Vosne-Romanée and occasional other bottlings.

The wine-making is the same for all the red cuvées. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and crushed. Two weeks’ fermentation with indigenous yeasts is followed by 18 to 20 months’ maturation in 228-litre used oak barrels. The wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum.

Bourgogne 2014, Les Grands Chaillots, Bertrand Machard de Gramont (c. $40.00, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
100% Pinot Noir from 27-year-old vines. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Attractive nose of crushed red berries, earth, slate and gentian. Light- to medium-bodied and silky textured. Ça pinote, though with a lactic edge. The tannins are lacy and the acidity comes with a bit of a bite. The long drying finish shows some spice. Pure and elegant if less dimensional than its flightmates. (Buy again? Sure.)

Nuits-Saint-Georges 2013, Les Terrasses des Vallerots, Bertrand Machard de Gramont 2013 ($70.58, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from a two-hectare parcel of 12-year-old vines rooted in clay and limestone. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Complex, savoury nose of spice, candied berries, sweat, “orange papaya,” drying leaves and more. Pure and delicate, beautifully balanced between ripe fruit, sourish acidity and supple tannins. Finishes long and clean. Not remarkably deep but the clarity is impressive. Very approachable. (Buy again? Sure.)

Nuits-Saint-Georges 2013, Les Vallerots, Bertrand Machard de Gramont ($81.74, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from 39-year-old vines in a half-hectare parcel located above the terrasses. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
As above though somewhat closed and showing hints of dried mint and “orange oil.” Richer and deeper than the Terrasses. Given a tart edge by sleek acidity, the gorgeous fruit glows against a mineral/earth backdrop. Pliant tannins provide just enough structure. A spice note chimes on the persistent finish. Lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Nuits-Saint-Georges 2013, Aux Allots, Bertrand Machard de Gramont ($85.57, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from 80-year-old vines rooted in deep clay and limestone at the bottom of the slope near Vosne-Romanée. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Slightly candied red berries, spice, slate, oak smoke and a floral note make for a classic Burgundian nose. In the piehole it’s verging on voluptuous: a medium-bodied, fluid mouthful of spicy fruit, airframe tannins and silky acidity. Darker and deeper currents lurk below the sleek surface. An elegant wine whose energy and presence last through the long, clean finish. Of the five BMdG wines, this was the favourite of nearly everyone around the table, including Martin. (Buy again? Would love to.)

Nuits-Saint-Georges 2013, Les Hauts Prûliers, Bertrand Machard de Gramont ($89.14, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from 48-year-old vines planted in thin soil in a 1.5-hecatre plot on a steep slope above the Prûliers premier cru. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Complex, savoury, earthy nose dominated by leafmould, cherry, spice and a “peat thing, like Scotch peat.” Medium-bodied and fluid. Cherry, slate and old wood – the dominant flavours – are carried on a stream of acidity while firm tannins provide texture as well as a structural framework. Finishes as impressively as it starts. A beautifully structured wine of great precision and depth and the one most in line with a conventional NSG (or, as Martin put it, a wine with “une austerité que je retrouve chez Gouges.”). Though far from rebarbative at this stage, it will benefit from five to 10 years in the cellar. (Buy again? If I had the bucks and patience, yes.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

April 3, 2017 at 12:08

WINO tasting (3/6)

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Located in the commune of Montaigu in the southern Jura, the estate now known as Domaine Pignier was created by monks in the 13th century and acquired by the Pignier family in 1794. It was certified biodyanmic in the early 2000s. The focus is on the vineyards, with a minimalist approach in the cellar (no added anything except occasionally minute amounts of sulphur).

Crémant du Jura, Rosé, Domaine Pignier ($36.46, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from biodynamically framed vines. Manually harvested. Briefly macerated and fermented using a pied de cuve starter. The base wine is matured six months in oak barrels, then sparkled using the traditional method, with no dosage. No added sulphur. The bottles are aged on lattes for 12 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Deep salmon pink with pink foam and fine bubbles. Intriguing nose: strawberry cheese danish, “cheese rind,” prosciutto, “baker’s yeast” and more. Dry and buoyant on the palate. Though there’s a soft-glowing core of red berries, the fruit is ethereal, haunting more than inhabiting a matix of minerals that prompted descriptors like “saline” and “seaweed.” Long savoury finish. Lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Jura 2014, Trousseau, Les Gauthières, Domaine Pignier ($57.33, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Trousseau from biodynamically farmed, massal propagated vines. Yields are kept very low (25 hl/ha). The manually harvested grapes are destemmed, macerated and fermented using a pied de cuve starter and manual punch-downs and pump-overs during an entire lunar cycle. Matured 12 months in oak barrels of various sizes. Unfiltered. Bottled by gravity and with no added sulphur on a fruit day (per the lunar calendar). 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Morello cherry, hard red candy, dried leaves, limestone, eventually tomato and “umami.” More like cranberry in the mouth with charcoal overtones. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. Chewing brings out the fruit and reveals dimension and complexity. The fine tannins add a mild astringency to the long, vapourous finish with its faint almond note and Szechuan pepper-like numbingness. Accessible but young and best cellared for five or 10 years. Way pricey but one of the most beautiful Trousseaus I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 3 of 6

WINO tasting (2/6)

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Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu 2013, Les Hautes Noëlles, Domaine Les Hautes Noëlles ($36.46, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in 1930, the estate, which has some 25 hectares of vines, is located in St-Léger-les-Vignes. 100% Melon de Bourgogne from organically farmed vines more than 80 years old and rooted in sand and clay on mica schist. Production is limited to 2,000 bottles a year. The grapes are picked by hand and macerated briefly before pneumatic pressing. The must is clarified by settling. Fermentation (with indigenous yeasts at c. 18°C) and maturation (c. 12 months on the lees with regular stirring) take place in oak barrels, a quarter of which are new. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Multi-faceted nose with scents of apple, “strudel dough” (per another taster), faint marzipan, quartz, dried banana, lemon and more. Rich, fluid, complex, layered and dry. The initial fruit makes room for minerals (“chalk grotto” my note arcanely reads), while sleek acidity lends a soft glow. Honey, “ginger” and faint bitter notes colour the impressively sustained finish. A delicious, absorbing wine quite unlike any other Muscadet I’ve tasted. Would make an interesting ringer in a flight of Chenins or Chardonnays with some age on them. (Buy again? Yes.)

Tasted at Moleskine the following evening, the estate’s 2014 “Les Parcelles” bottling ($20.50, WINO, 12 bottles/case) was crisp, clean and appetizing though far more conventional.

MWG March 23rd tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

March 28, 2017 at 15:08