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Posts Tagged ‘QPR winner

Clean, crisp and elegant

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Champagne, Brut, 7 Crus, Agrapart & Fils ($69.75, 12632275)
For background on the Avise-based estate, see here. A blend of Chardonnay (90%) and Pinot Noir (10%) from two vintages (40% 2012 and 60% 2013 per the Agrapart website). The grapes came from vineyards in seven villages. After alcoholic fermentation, the still wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Half of the 2012 wine was matured in oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered and unfined in May 2014. Matured in bottle on the lees for three years. Riddled manually. Disgorged on an as-needed basis 60 days before being released to market. Dosage was limited to 7 g/l of sugar and 50 g/l of sulphur dioxide. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Bella Vita.

Not much foam but lots of tiny bubbles. Lovely nose of pear, apple and minerals with background yeast, vanilla, honey, toast, white flowers and a lactic note. In the mouth, it’s as minerally as it is fruity, the minerals tending to chalk, the fruit to lemon and green apple. Fundamentally a lightweight yet the underlying wineyness gives it a depth not often found in champagnes at this price point. The fine, tickling effervescence adds texture and lift, while the long finish brings “des beaux amères” (a beautiful bitterness, quoting another taster). Remarkably clean, crisp and elegant, this is a superb aperitif champagne. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 1 of 6

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Written by carswell

December 12, 2017 at 12:12

Unmissable Muscadet

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Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2015, Clos de la Butte, Éric Chevalier ($19.65, 12886831)
After spending a decade sourcing grapes for a négociant in the Tourraine, Éric Chevallier returned to his family estate, Domaine de l’Aujardière, in 2005. His father, a highly regarded grape grower, was set to retire. Éric took the helm somewhat reluctantly but soon found himself challenged and rewarded by the task. He began converting his 28 hectares of vineyards to organic in 2016. This bottling is 100% Melon de Bourgogne from 50-year-old vines planted in serpentinite, eclogite and quartz in the La Butte lieu-dit. The grapes are pneumatically pressed and the must transferred to glass-lined tanks. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight to 10 months on the lees with regular stirring. Unracked and unfiltered. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Subtle, nuanced, complex nose: quartzy granite, sea beach sand, pear, faint lemon, straw and a hint of marzipan. Clean and unassertive on the attack. Super dry. Not a lot of fruit though plenty of extract and tons of minerals, all carried on a stream of fluent acidity. The flavours turn rainwatery on the mid-palate and swell on the finish: pear, wax and tangy salted butter, with a faint bitterness adding intrigue. More than just an outstanding here-now Muscadet, this is one of the best under-$20 whites currently available at the SAQ. Excellent as an aperitif but also with mollusks and white fish. I look forward to trying Chevalier’s Fié Gris and La Noë bottlings, both private imports.  (Buy again? A case.)

Written by carswell

December 7, 2017 at 13:25

Mainlining Assyrtiko

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Santorini 2013, Pure, Volcanic Slopes Vineyards ($45.50, 13109697)
Run as a separate operation, Volcanic Slopes Vineyards is a second label of sorts of Argyros Estate. It is the brainchild of Argyros’ winemaker and commercial director, Stefanos Georgas. The idea is to make as pure an expression of Santorini Assyrtiko as possible using a hands-off approach. This 2013 is the first vintage of what is, so far, its only cuvée. Assyrtiko (100%) from 80- to 150-year-old ungrafted vines in two parcels: one with pumice soil in Episkopi Gonias, the other with basalt soil in Megalochori. Manually harvested. Half of the must is free-run juice, the other half is juice from gently pressed whole clusters. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 14 months on the lees with frequent stirring in a naturally temperature-controlled underground concrete tank in the old Argyros winery. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oneopole.
Multifaceted nose that prompts descriptors like lemon, quartz dust, “sour fuzzy peach,” “distant honey,” bay leaf and lingering apple. Imposing and enthralling from the first sip: a “decadent” yet austere amalgam of clementine and incredible minerality and salinity. The rich extract and electric acidity are in breathtaking balance. There’s great breadth, depth and length – every dimension, in fact. Pure is no exaggeration, no marketing gimmick. A stunning wine, “like mainlining Assyrtiko.” It will be fascinating to see how this evolves over the next three to five years and maybe beyond. Surely one of the great white wines of Europe and, as such, more than fairly priced. The 2013 is almost sold out. Tasted at the winery in July 2016, two days after it had been bottled, the 2014 seemed every bit its equal. (Buy again? Imperatively – even the group’s white wine skeptic felt compelled to run out and acquire a couple of bottles.)

Santorini 2016, Assyrtiko, Hatzidakis ($28.50, 11901171)
The estate’s entry-level bottling. Sadly, 2016 was Haridimos Hatzidakis’s last vintage. 100% Assyrtiko from organically farmed, ungrafted vines up to a century old in Pyrgos, Megalochori, Akrotiri and Vourvoulos. The manually harvested grapes were direct-pressed. The must was clarified by settling, then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (18°C) tanks. Stayed on the lees for 40 days. Matured in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered and dosed with sulphur dioxide before bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oneopole.
Lemony, “ferny” nose with notes of “modelling clay,” peach and distant sea shore. In the mouth, the dense extract and unctuous texture are counterpointed by crystalline minerals, vibrant verging on trenchant acidity and a fundamental dryness. Fruitier (lemon and quince) than in some earlier vintages. The saline finish brings some dried herb notes. Not as deep, broad or long as the (older and much more expensive) Pure, though hardly lacking dimension. Almost too rich for an aperitif; probably best thought of as a food wine (to date, it has made a matchless match for spaghetti with leeks, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and bottarga and for oysters on the half shell). (Buy again? Multiples.)

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

November 11, 2017 at 14:01

The best moment of the day is now

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Vermouth, Dry Red, Fontalia ($19.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A red vermouth from the Priorat region, south of Barcelona. Made by Cellers De Bellmunt Del Priorat. Flavoured with 38 botanicals and matured in oak barrels for eight months. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Such a complex nose: dried and fresh fruit, spice (cinnamon, clove, pepper), citrus peel, incense, a hint of caramel and more. The flavours echo the nose. Surprisingly fleet and, while sweet, far from cloying due partly to the bright acidity. The spice-laden finish has an appealing bitter edge. Clearly appropriate for cocktails but good enough to sip on its own with a single ice cube and a twist of orange or lime (the label says tangerine or grapefruit). Infinitely preferable to Cinzano and not that much more expensive. (Buy again? For sure.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 9 of 9

Written by carswell

November 6, 2017 at 12:40

Toro solo

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Toro 2015, 4mil cepas, Cuatro Mil Cepas ($24.95, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in 2008 by 11 friends, the estate now comprises 7.5 hectares in three plots in the Toro DO. It also makes wine in the Sierra de Salamanca PDO. I’ve not succeeded in finding any information about this bottling, which is 100% Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo) and comes from sustainably farmed vines. It is probably fermented in stainless steel tanks and matured in barrels (likely a mix of American and Hungarian oak). 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Black and red fruit, old wood, graphite, sandalwood, Chambord, leafmould. Full-bodied. The flavour is a mix of ripe but not jammy fruit and a layer of spicy but unaggressive oak. Firm yet pliable tannins and sleek acidity confer a velour-like texture. Balanced, fluid, long. Young but delicious and delivering high QPR. If in the mood for an affordable, oak-inflected Toro, this will do just fine. (Buy again? Not really my style but if it’s yours, go for it.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 8 of 9

Written by carswell

November 5, 2017 at 09:33

A serious vin plaisir

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TN 2015, Tinto Natural, Partida Creus ($27.45, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of biodynamically farmed Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garrut (aka Mourvèdre). Very little technical information to be found on this but André “Vinealis” Papineau describes Partida Creus as one of the most natural winemakers around, so manual harvesting, fermentation with indigenous yeasts, non-interventionist wine-making and no filtering, fining or added sulphur. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Red berries, slate, peppery spice and some background funk. Medium-bodied and quite dry, though, as André notes, there’s some “sucrosité” on the attack as well as a hint of carbon dioxide. In contrast to other red quaffers from, say, the Loire valley, there’s a solar quality to the fruit. Fresh acidity adds buoyancy while the fine, tight tannins turn a little raspy on the long finish. Built around a core of red cherry but as savoury as it is fruity: a serious vin plaisir as it were. Quite popular with the assembled masses. (Buy again? Yep.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

November 1, 2017 at 12:38

Natural Catalans

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BN 2015, Blanco Natural, Partida Creus ($27.45, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A skin-contact white made from biodynamically farmed Macabeo (90%) and Cartoixa Vermell (10%). Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 10.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Bronze to the eye. Engaging nose of hayloft, dried white fruit, sawed wood, apricot skin and lees. Smooth and buoyant on the attack. Layers of flavour, only one or two of which are fruit. Broad and long though not remarkably deep. A light tannic astringency adds some structure to the finish. So savoury. A very good orange wine at a very good price. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes Catalanes 2015, L’Année blanc, Les Clos Perdus ($26.85, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Macabeu (aka Macabeo, 65%), Grenache Gris (30%) and Muscat (5%) from biodynamically farmed grapes. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in stainless steel and barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Sulphur use is minimal. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Delicious nose. Blast of minerals, especially granite (“presque pétrole” notes André), along with orchard fruit (yellow apple in particular), a hint of funk and eventually “honey” and white meat notes. The ripe fruit and dense, almost oily texture come with compensating acidity. Finishes long and strong with a mix of spice and minerals. A serious, savoury wine that delivers considerable bang for the buck. (Buy again? Yes.)