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Posts Tagged ‘Provence

Daube duty II

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Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2014, Les Béatines, Domaine des Béates ($20.20, 13027886)
Per the winemaker, Syrah (50%), Grenache Noir (30%) and Carignan (20%) from organically farmed vines (SAQ.com’s percentages are different and probably wrong). The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and given a brief (15-day) maceration on the skins and in stainless steel tanks with regular pump-overs and push-downs. After fermentation with indigenous yeasts, the free-run and press wines are matured separately in stainless steel tanks with regular racking. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV (new and improved website!).
Somewhat introverted nose. Coaxing reveals leathery raspberry, sawdust, faint spice, dark minerals. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and suppler than the Revelette. The ripe fruit is an equal partner with mineral and old wood flavours while gleaming acidity and fine, taut tannins provide an air-frame structure. Turns lightly astringent on the medium finish. A nicely balanced, fruity but dry wine. Dandy with leftover daube but light enough to pair with tuna and other meaty fish if served slightly chilled. The quaffability quotient and QPR are high on this one. (Buy again? Yep.)

Written by carswell

November 10, 2016 at 14:08

Daube duty I

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Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2014, Château Revelette ($23.30, 10259737)
Syrah (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%) and Grenache (11%) from quarter century-old organically farmed vines. The varieties are vinified separately. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) in temperature-controlled (25-27°C) concrete tanks. Matured in concrete tanks except for 15% of the Grenache and Cab, which are matured in neutral casks. A tiny amount of sulphur is added at bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Fresh nose. Starts out Cabernet-ish (cassis, graphite) but gains blackberry, plum, game, spice, earth and turned leaves. Full bodied, rich textured and quite structured, with sustained acidity, medium but bitey tannins and some mineral depth. Very dry, the ripe-sweet fruit notwithstanding, especially on the long finish, where the tannins’ astringency comes through along with tea, tobacco and nougat notes. Straightforward and enjoyable. Doesn’t have the dimensionality of its bigger brother but, then again, it’s about half the price. Made a fine match for a Provençal beef and mushroom stew scented with orange. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

November 8, 2016 at 14:16

Different drummers

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Saint-Chinian 2014, Antonyme, Domaine Canet-Valette ($17.80, 11013317)
A 50-50 blend of Mourvèdre and Cinsault from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in tanks for 15 days. The wine is then transferred to other tanks for four months’ maturation. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Slightly candied red and black fruit with faint smoke and animale notes. Medium-bodied. Smooth, dense, fruity and dry but also listless and lacking relief, especially next to the À ma guise. I recall an earlier vintage (the 2006?) being more Beaujolais-like. Admittedly, the context didn’t do the wine any favours and I expect it will show better with food, ideally something red meaty and grilled (I’ll be hanging on to my backup bottle to see). (Buy again? Maybe.)

Vin de France 2014, À ma guise, Domaine Les Terres Promises ($25.87, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The 13-hectare estate, which includes a parcel in the Bandol AOC, is owned and operated by former Parisian political operative and author Jean-Christophe Comor and located in the Var department in the foothills of the Massif de la Saint-Baume near the village of La Roquebrussanne. The farming is organic, the wine-making is non-interventionist and the chai is open to the air. This primeur-style wine is a blend of around a dozen varieties including Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette and Carignan Blanc. Unfiltered. No or very little added sulphur. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Vin dans les Voiles.
Complex, “natural” nose. Fleet yet mouth-filling. Chewy, juicy red fruit with exuberant acidity, supple tannins, a healthy dose of minerals, a squirt of vine sap and a dusting of earth. Smackingly tart finish. So very drinkable. A joy. (Buy again? Done!)

I first encountered the À ma guise at Satay Bros., where it was being poured by the glass. I liked it enough to have a couple of refills and, a few days later, to trek through the rain on foot and public transit to the middle of nowhere, aka the SAQ’s Futailles Street warehouse, to pick up a case so I could serve it at the tasting. The tasting’s bottle was cloudier than I remembered, a bit funky and not quite as stellar as the Satay Bros. bottle (which may have been open and poured from for a while), though it was still good enough for me to have no trouble selling the remainder of the case. Opened day or two later, a third bottle was verging on vinegar. Such are the vagaries of natural wines. Yet when the wine is on, such are the rewards that we put up with the disappointments.

MWG March 31st tasting: flight 5 of 6

Not for contemplating

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Côtes de Provence 2015, Rosé, Domaine Houchart ($17.50, 11686503)
Grenache (35%), Syrah (25%), Cinsault (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) from vines rooted in clay and limestone. Most of the fruit was harvested mechanically. The varieties were vinified separately. Ninety percent of the fruit was direct pressed (pneumatic press); the remainder underwent cold maceration (10°C) for 12 to 24 hours. The chilled must was allowed to settle, then fermented in temperature-controlled (18°C) stainless steel vats for 12 to 24 days. After blending, the wine was bottled and closed with a screwcap. Reducing sugar: 4.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Franc-Vins.
Pickled nectarine, strawberry, sun-baked quartz, a whiff of garrigue. Vibrant, glyceriny fruit dominates from entry through mid-palate, then gives way to more mineral, saline and savoury flavours. Bright acidity brings freshness. A red berry/cherry note and some sotto voce orange sound as the finish fades to a faintly bitter aftertaste. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the perceived sugar levels – the SAQ figure seems so low as to have one questioning its accuracy – make this a bit cloying after a glass or two. One of those wines that are pleasant enough to sip but that you don’t want to think too much about when drinking. (Buy again? While waiting for the 2015 Alzipratu to show up, maybe.)

The evening before, friends and I found Tempier’s 2014 Bandol rosé to be a glorious, synergistic pairing for Chez Tante Paulette’s chicken bouillabaisse. The following evening with the leftovers, this was an interactionless meh.

Written by carswell

April 23, 2016 at 13:46

Blancs de Provence

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IGP Méditerranée 2013, Viognier Sainte-Fleur, Triennes ($22.30, 12625681)
Triennes in the project of two well-known Burgundians (Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée Conti) and a Paris-based friend. The estate is located in the Var, east of Aix-en-Provence, was founded in 1997 and began converting to organic farming in 2008 (the 2011 vintage of the Sainte-Fleur was the estate’s first certified organic wine). This 100% Viognier is fermented in temperature-controlled tanks and matured in tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin & Robillard.
Quartz dust and faint peach filigreed with honeysuckle, smoked salt and garrigue. Bordering on unctuous in the mouth, where it proves more of a fruit cocktail, albeit a dry and alcoholic one that’s freshened by smooth acidity and backdropped by sun-baked stones. A faint bitterness threads through the long finish. Not bad for an inexpensive Viognier – no one’s going to mistake it for a Condrieu – and pleasant enough to drink but not really memorable and not the bargain that the red is. Might well show better at the dining table than it does at the tasting table. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Bandol 2014, Domaine du Gros’Noré ($30.75, 12206989)
Despite what you’ll read on SAQ.com and on the Quebec agent’s website, this is a 70-30 blend of Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano) and Clairette from sustainably farmed vines averaging 30 years old. The must is macerated on the skins for 24 hours, then fermented at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Shy nose of quartz, wet ash, earth and white flowers. The rich texture is balanced by a steady stream of underlying acidity. Somewhat neutral in flavour yet somehow savoury and mouth-filling. Stones and lemon pith haunt the long finish. While this will never be an exuberant wine, it is a baby at this point and, as a second bottle showed, it doesn’t stop evolving for hours after opening. Definitely a food wine: I thought sea bass with pesto might make a good match but that second bottle was transporting with the winemaker’s recommended pairing of grilled mussels with rosemary, my recipe for which you’ll find after the jump. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG October 8th tasting: flight 2 of 7

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Written by carswell

October 17, 2015 at 13:43

Rosé de Romanin

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Les Baux-de-Provence 2013, Château Romanin ($28.50, 11542041)
Biodynamically and organically farmed Grenache (47%), Syrah (29%), Counoise (18%) and Mourvèdre (6%) from vines between 18 and 57 years old. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are slowly pressed. The must is chilled to 10°C and allowed to clarify by settling before being racked into temperature-controlled (18-20°C) stainless steel tanks for alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is blocked. Matured six months on the lees with regular stirring. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Divin Paradis.
Farty at first but after 10 minutes or so an appealing, nuanced mix of red berries and peach, stones and herbes de Provence. The first sip reveals an elegant and balanced wine. The fruit is light but clear and sustained, backed by minerals, shifting from sweet-seeming to savoury as it moves through the mouth, textured by fine acidity and just a hint of tannins and, as the wine approaches room temperature, a touch of alcoholic heat. A thread of bitterness winds through the finish, while the unmistakable fragrance of strawberry lingers long after. A beautiful bottle and an excellent pairing for cedar-planked salmon topped before grilling with a paste made from orange and lemon zest, fresh Provençal herbs, olive oil and a smidgen of garlic. (Buy again? Imperatively.)

One of the best of this year’s crop of rosés at the SAQ, a wine that perfectly demonstrates that rosés have a raison d’être, that they are indeed a category unto themselves, one deserving of equal status with whites and reds. Carafe a half hour before serving. The long cork may indicate that its makers think it’s ageable; I wouldn’t hesitate to cellar it a year or two.

There’s quite a bit of this around (at least on Montreal island), so rumours of the good rosé season’s demise are slightly exaggerated. Other recommended rosés still widely available – possibly because many shoppers can’t bring themselves to spend upwards of $25 on a bottle of pink wine – include: Bandol 2013, Domaine de Souviou ($25.10, 12200798), Sierra Foothills 2013, Vin gris d’Amador, Terre Rouge ($25.40, 11629710), Patrimonio 2013, Domaine d’E Croce, Yves Leccia ($26.20, 11900821) and Corse Figari 2014, Clos Canarelli ($34.00, 11917666).

Written by carswell

August 3, 2015 at 18:30

Pink bliss

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Two rosés that the Mo’ Wine Group used to buy as private imports are hitting the SAQ’s shelves for the first time this spring. This is the first; the second, the Alzipratu rosé, should be released soon.

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2014, Les Béatines, Domaine Les Béates ($20.45, 11232261)
The estate’s name translates as “the blissfully happy.” This is made from organically farmed Grenache Noir (75%) and Syrah (25%). The grapes are manually harvested and immediately destemmed and pressed. The must is fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (17°C) tanks. Matured on the fine lees in stainless steel tanks for four months. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Pale gauzy pink. Soft, wafting nose: minerals and red berries with a whiff of garrigue. In the mouth, dry as a bone, a quartzy mineral complex infused with delicate fruit. Ethereal on the attack, it gains some glyceriney weight as it moves across the palate. Sleek acidity keeps things fresh and an appetizing saline thread runs through the clean finish. (Buy again? Yes.)

At one end of the rosé spectrum are exuberantly fruity, dark pink wines that feel and taste like reds without the structure. At the other end are rosés that seem more like minerally whites with a dash of red fruit. This falls squarely in the latter camp: light enough to serve as a nuanced aperitif; substantial enough to accompany Provençal dishes like salade nicoise and pissaladière.

Written by carswell

May 18, 2015 at 17:44