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Posts Tagged ‘Private imports

Pairing Melon with Burgs

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Vin de France 2015, Melon, Domaine de la Cadette ($28.80, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Melon de Bourgogne (aka Muscadet) from organically farmed 25- to 30-year-old vines in the Bourgogne-Vézeley appellation (despite its name, the grape isn’t one of Burgundy’s permitted varieties, which explains the VDF designation). Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, matured six months in stainless steel tanks and bottled unfined with only a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lemon, chalk and the faintest hint of grass. Wonderfully clean, round and fresh. Fruitier than your average Muscadet. Less crystalline too, though with the grape’s trademark mineral substrate. Soft acidity gives it a glow. Straightforward, long and pure. “I like the lingering sourness,” notes one taster. Me too. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

Bourgogne-Vézelay 2015, La Châtelaine, Domaine de la Cadette ($29.35, 11094621)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed 25-year-old vines rooted in clay and limestone. Manually harvested. Gently pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured 14 months on the fine lees. Lightly filtered. Sees only stainless steel until bottlng. Reducing sugar: 2.7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lemon, oats, quartz, white flowers – typical, wot? Clean and fresh but less overtly fruity than the Melon. More minerally though. The stuffing and bright acidity are well balanced, the finish long and clean. Even at this early point, one of the best vintages of this wine I’ve tasted, with the potential to improve over the short and medium term. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bourgogne-Vézelay 2015, La Piècette, Domaine de la Cadette ($31.25, 11589691)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed 20- to 30-year-old vines in several parcels. The hand-picked whole clusters are gently pressed. The must is transferred to 228-litre barrels (called pièces) for six months’ alcoholic and malolactic fermentation (no added yeasts or bacteria). Matured 11 months on the lees. Lightly filtered. Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Initially reticent nose of butter and faint vanilla, opening to lemon and quartzy chalk. Rich but not happy. There’s bright acidity, entwined minerals and oak, a certain depth and, disconcertingly, a “weird sweetish taste” that lasts through the long finish and makes the wine taste not so much off as unsettled. A taster notes that a recently opened six-year-old bottle was “amazing,” supporting the impression that the 2015 is a wine that will benefit enormously from a few years in the cellar. (Buy again? A bottle or two to lay down.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

June 16, 2017 at 13:25

Beach wine

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Swartland 2015, Kedungu, Intellego ($27.82, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Owned and operated by Jurgen Gouws, Intellego Wines sources its grapes from its own vineyards and from growers with whom it works in close collaboration. All the fruit is certified organic and the wine-making is as close as possible to non-interventionist, small amounts of sulphur dioxide being the only additive. The wines are made in a small rented facility in the Paardeberg region. Named after a Bali beach where Gouws enjoyed himself surfing, the easy-drinking Kedungu is a 66-28-6 blend of Syrah (from vines planted in the 1980s) and Cinsault and Mourvèdre (from vines planted between 2000 and 2004). The varieties were separately whole-bunch fermented in closed tanks, with the Syrah spending 14 days on the skins and the other varieties about a week. The lots were then blended and directly pressed together into old French oak barrels for nine months’ maturation. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.

Plum, burnt sugar, “blond tobacco and butterscotch” on the nose. On the fuller side of medium-bodied but fundamentally fluid. Red and black fruit are the dominant flavours, though the wine is more terroir- than fruit-driven. Bright acidity lends a welcome sour edge, while the tannins are just firm enough. The finish is long and savoury. Wines like this and the Leeuwenkuil Cinsault are convincing me that South Africa and more specifically Swartland are worth keeping an eye on. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 6 of 6

Written by carswell

June 5, 2017 at 13:52

Red ends

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After working with the Les Vignerons d’Estézargues cooperative for several years, Édouard Laffitte, who had no background in farming, decided to set out on his own. Invited by Loïc Roure, then newly settled in the Roussillon, to share the wine-making facilities he had just acquired for his Domaine du Possible, Laffitte began searching for vines, specifically ones growing in north-facing, high-altitude vineyards, the better to make wines that were fresh and not excessively alcoholic. He eventually pieced together 7.7 hectares of parcels in the communes of Lansac (granitic sand), Rasiguères (shale) and Cassagnes (gneiss) to make the Domaine Le Bout du Monde, so named because visitors told him that getting there was like travelling to the end of the earth.

The farming is organic and the vineyards are worked manually. The wines are vinified by soil type with as little intervention as possible (indigenous yeasts, no filtering or fining, no additives). The estate currently makes five reds (Grenache, Carignan and Syrah alone and in blends) and one white (Roussane).

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Tam-Tam, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($29.30, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Syrah from vines rooted in slate. Vinified in tanks. Given three weeks’ carbonic maceration. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Nose: red fruit, spice, cedar, background earth, distant funk. Mouth: Dry, spicy, sawdusty. Lively acidity, supple tannins. Medium body, satiny texture. Pure, straightforward, fruity and enjoyable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Hop’là, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($32.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Grenache (40%), Syrah (40%) and Carignan (20%) from vines rooted in gneiss. Vinified in tanks. Given three weeks’ carbonic maceration. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Far more savoury nose: black raspberry, leafmould, slate and leather. Medium-bodied and fleet, with bright acidity, springy tannins, lively pure fruit. Clean finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, La Luce, Domaine Le Bout du Monde ($43.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Grenache from 35-year-old vines rooted in gneiss. Vinified in tanks. Given four weeks’ carbonic maceration. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
The most complex of the three. Floral, licorice, plum cake, marzipan. Smooth and satiny. Layered berry fruit, wood and minerals. Fine complex tannic structure. Sleek acidity. Long finish with a vaporous note. Gorgeous. Delivers all of the upsides of Grenache and none of the downsides. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 5 of 6

Red bubble

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Vin de France 2015, La Bulle Rouge, Les Capriades ($35.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in the Loire Valley’s Touraine region, Les Capriades founder and co-owner, Pascal Potaire, is considered the king of pet nats (short for pétillants naturels, natural sparkling wines produced using the ancestral method). This red example is a blend of juice from three varieties of organically farmed red-fleshed GamayGamay de Bouze, Gamay de Chaudenay and Gamay Fréaux – explaining the cuvée’s former name, BCF. 11% ABV and I’m guessing somewhere around 10 g/l of residual sugar. Quebec agent: Glou.

Medium red with scarlet glints and fast-disappearing shocking pink foam. The nose is a swirl of raspberry vinegar, burnt hair, burnt sugar, lipstick, chocolate, pink blossoms and spice. A sip reveals a soft-sparkled wine that’s fresh, fruity and definitely not dry. Sleek acidity, a mineral underlay and a lingering bitterness counteract the sweetness to some degree. “Raspberry freezee” concludes one taster. A tad richer than but otherwise not dissimilar to a Bugey-Cerdon, which can be had for about $12 less. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 3 of 6

The furthest thing from an aperitif wine

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Languedoc 2013, Roucaillat, Domaine des Hautes Terres de Comberousse ($29.55, private import, 12 bottles/case)
The 14-hectare estate is located about 15 kilometres north of Sète. Its first vines were planted in 1981, The current company, a father and son operation, was founded in 2001. Farming has been organic since the start and the mostly calcareous vineyards are neither tilled nor weeded. This, the estate’s flagship white, is a blend of Roussanne (50%), Rolle (aka Vermentino, 30%) and Grenache Blanc (20%). The grapes are manually harvested and given extended maceration before being gently pressed. The must is chilled, clarified though settling and fermented in temperature-controlled (19-20°C) tanks. Malolactic fermentation and several months’ maturation follow. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.

Striking, savoury nose of “spruce bark,” yellow beet, “cooked Swiss chard,” bacon fat and “pumpkin seed.” In the piehole, it’s rich and heady, extracted but not particularly fruity: beeswax overtoned with orange, bacon and dried herbs. The acidity is of the soft-glow variety while the long finish fades into a lingering bitterness. Unrefreshing on its own (the furthest thing from an aperitif wine), this absolutely requires food. Unique, surprising and, maybe, a year or two before its prime. (Buy again? A bottle or two to relive the experience and play with food pairings.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

May 28, 2017 at 12:19

Brand new and old

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The April 21st tasting featured wines represented in Quebec by Glou and was led by the agency’s prime mover, Jack Jacob. We started with a flight of four fine Alsatians.

Created in 1950 and based in Ergersheim, Domaine Brand sits in the middle of La Couronne d’or, a swath of vineyards stretching from Strasbourg to Marienheim. The estate’s 10 hectares of vineyards are in the communes of Ergersheim, Osthoffen and Wolxheim. Farming has been organic since 2001 and certified biodynamic (Demeter) since 2015.

Current winemaker Philippe Brand took the helm in 2008, following stints at Domaine de Montchovet in Burgundy and wineries in the Peloponnese (Greece) and Barossa Valley (Australia). He soon imposed a regime of non-interventionist wine-making where the only additive, if any, is small amounts of sulphur dioxide. The estate makes a separate line of unsulphured natural wines under the Apollinaire moniker whose labels feature calligrams by the eponymous artist.

Alsace 2013, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($33.06, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Gold bronze to the eye. Complex nose of apple, pear and chalk with hints of petrol and “Meyer lemon” (quoting another taster). Rich but not heavy in the mouth, the fruit tending toward baked apple. Dry and very minerally. The combination of acidity and minerals lends an almost “tannic bite” to the long finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Alsace 2015, La Chimère, Charles et Philippe Brand ($34.76, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinarie wines. 100% Riesling from the Osthoffen vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Paler. Faintly funky nose of white flowers, lemon peel, flint, barley sugar and a pungent note some described as bubble gum and others as camphor. A bit spritzy on the palate. Less rich and extracted, more crystalline than the Kefferberg. Bone dry (0.5 g/l residual sugar). Lingering green mango. I like. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace 2015, Fleurs, Charles et Philippe Brand ($37.64, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinaire wines. 80% Pinot Gris, 20% Riesling. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Residual sugar: 1.0 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Engaging nose of white peach, white spice and slate with honey and lactic notes. Very dry yet with an “implied sweetness.” Buoyant acidity. Faint spritz. Pearish with bergamot overtones. Mineral-rich. Long bitter-edged finish. Complex. Impressive. (Buy again? Gladly. And I’m really looking forward to trying the orange version.)

Alsace 1999, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($56.34, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
A deep bronze colour approaching that of iced tea. Complex, unfathomable nose: dried apple, brown sugar, smoke, hints of petrol and “spicy green” or “dried mint” and more. Equally complex in the mouth, the flavours echoing the nose and resonating on their own. Super dry. Smooth acidity. Considerable depth. Endless finish with, once again, a hint of something camphor-like. The price is more than reasonable for a wine of this age and quality. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 1 of 6

Cauquenes connection

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Cuvée Del Maule 2011, Agricola Cuvelier ($27.43, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Based in Bordeaux, the Cuveliers are a longstanding family of négociants that eventually acquired three local estates, the best-known of which is Léoville Poyferré. In the late 1990s, they founded a family-owned estate in Argentina, Cuvelier Los Andes. After obtaining a wine-growing degree in 2007, scion Baptiste travelled to Chile to work with his friend Louis-Antoine Luyt, who introduced him to the Cauquenes region of the Maule Valley. He soon realized he could make there a red complementary to the family’s Argentinian reds, the Cuvée del Maule, the first vintage of which was the 2009. (Haven’t run across an explanation as to why Maule is written MaoLee on the label – interference from the appellation authorities perhaps? – but that’s the only place I see it spelled thus.) The 2011 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Carignan (30%), Pais (8%), Carmenère (8%), Cinsault (7%) and Merlot (5%) from organically dry-farmed, fair-trade grapes grown under contract. Cuvelier provided viticultural advice to the growers and had the fruit harvested by his team. Most of the Cabernet was destemmed, given four to six days cold maceration and fermented in temperature-controlled (24°C) tanks with pump-overs early on. The Camenère, Carignan and Pais were fermented using carbonic maceration. The Cinsault, Merlot and remaining Cabernet were fermented in small open tanks with punch-downs early on and manually pressed before fermentation ended. The wines were transferred to fourth- and fifth-fill French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation. All fermentations were spontaneous. Indeed, the only additive was a tiny amount (35 mg/L) of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Jammy, juicy, earthy, spicy, with notes of “green pepper” and “black peppercorns.” Fruit-forward in the manner of a New World wine yet not quite full-bodied. The fruit? Ripe-sweet blackberry and cassis. Has good structure (round tannins, bright acidity) but not a lot of depth. Minerals and herbs (tobacco? mint?) come out on the finish. Very drinkable though not a keeper. Probably a great match with red meat on the barbecue. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cauquenina 2013, Clos des Fous ($26.80, 12496082)
Per the agent, a blend of Carignan (36%), Syrah (23%), Carmenère (23%) and Malbec (18%); some commenters also claim Pais and Portugais Bleu are present. In any case, the grapes came from purchased, dry-farmed, organically grown old vines in the Itata Valley. Fermented in concrete tanks using indigenous yeasts “when possible.” A fraction of the wine was matured in new French oak barrels, the rest in second-fill barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Réserve & Sélection/Trialto.
Savoury nose of plum, spice, old wood and earth with chinotto overtones. On the lighter side of full-bodied. Round and balanced. The red fruit is soft, the acidity and tannins smooth. Some tobacco and coffee scent the finish. Seems more structured than the Cuvelier yet also somehow simpler, at least at this stage in its development. Quite food friendly, I’d guess – not only grilled meat but also stews and vegetarian casseroles. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 6 of 7

Written by carswell

May 9, 2017 at 11:41