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Posts Tagged ‘Rhône

Château Landra, take one

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WINO’s Martin Landry paid another visit to the Mo’ Wine Group in mid-July, this time bringing a baker’s dozen of private imports that he described as summer-friendly. We added a WINO bottle of our own to the wine-up, making 14 wines in all. We began with yet another impressive Clairette-based white.

Ventoux 2015, Château Landra ($30.40, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Located at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse, Château Landra is a 14-hectare estate that can trace its roots back to the late 1700s. The current winery was built between the two world wars, entitling the estate to the château designation and making it the first privately owned winery in the area. The current owners, Cécile and Frédéric Renoux, acquired the semi-abandoned property in 2007 and began restoring it. At present, the wine grape vineyards total 8.5 hectares; table grapes and olives are also grown. This, their flagship white, is a blend of Clairette (40%), Roussanne (30%) and Grenache Blanc (30%) from organically farmed vines averaging 20 years old. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified (with indigenous yeasts) separately. Half the wine is matured in stainless steel tanks, half on the lees in new barrels with regular stirring for four months. Lightly filtered. No added sulphur. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Complex, involving nose of honey pear, sun-baked quartz, mastic, hay stubble and “Meyer lemon.” Round and a bit unctuous in the mouth yet alive with nipping acidity. The swirl of fruit and sharp-edged minerals and echoing honey pear last well into the long, bitterish finish. “Fresh,” “spicy,” “dry” says the peanut gallery. “More, please,” says me. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 1 of 10

Written by carswell

August 21, 2017 at 13:35

Meridional v. septentrional

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IGP des Bouches-du-Rhône 2015, Gueule de Loup, Château de Roquefort ($25.35, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of organically farmed Grenache (normally around 80%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (some websites, though not the estate’s, claim Cinsault is part of the mix) from organically farmed, 20- to 55-year-old vines rooted in clayey-calcareous soil. Manually harvested. Ninety percent of the grapes are partially destemmed and crushed. Alcoholic fermentation, with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks, lasts two to four weeks. Maturation is in cement tanks (80%) and foudres (20%). Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Attractive nose of plum, raspberry, spice, earth, cookie dough and a hint of barnyard. Rich but fresh, the freshness a function of the juicy acidity and clean fruit that’s framed by fine-edged tannins. Against a faintly lactic backdrop, cherry, pepper and slate fade into a long, heady finish. Enjoyable but less distinctive than the estate’s stellar Petit Salé and Corail. (Buy again? Sure.)

Crozes-Hermitage 2015, Et la bannière…, Matthieu Barret SARL ($42.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Matthieu Barret is the owner-winemaker at Domaine du Coulet. The eponymous SARL is his crittertastic négociant label. This is 100% biodynamically and organically farmed Syrah, the only red grape variety allowed in the appellation. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and pump-overs. The resulting wine is racked, matured for 12 months, then bottled unfiltered and unfined with a tiny amount of pre-bottling sulphur being the only additive used in making the wine. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Nose initially marked by volatile acidity. Alongside it are dark berries, some of them candied, and olive tapenade with hints of game, bacon and sawdust. In the mouth, there a tension of sorts between the juicy sweet fruit and sour/bitter edge. The picture is completed by balancing acidity, dark minerality, fine tannins and nicely sustained finish. Accessible now though capable of ageing another five to 10 years. Some found this a little overwrought and rustic (“more like a Cornas than a Crozes,” huffed one skeptic) but I liked its complex mix of juiciness and savour. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 6 of 6

Written by carswell

July 17, 2017 at 12:54

Vacqueyrasish

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Based in Vacqueyras and comprising 16 hecatres of vines, Roucas Toumba (“roche tombée” or “fallen rock” in the old Provençal dialect) is a centuries-old, family-run estate currently headed by Éric Bouletin. The estate long sold its grapes to the local co-op and the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel but, in 2006, decided to start making its own wine. The farming is organic though not certified as such. Fermentations, which use indigenous yeasts, typically last 30 days and are temperature-controlled (18°C). The free-run and press wines are kept separate until the end of malolactic fermentation. The wines are never fined and seldom filtered.

We tried the estate’s two entry-level reds and now look forward to tasting the higher-end cuvées.

Vin de Pays de Méditérrinée 2015, Pichot Roucas, Roucas Toumba ($18.50, 12782249)
A blend of Syrah (30%), Carignan (30%) and Grenache (30%) from vines located near the Ouvèze river. Manually harvested. The grapes are 70% destemmed with half the Carignan being left in whole clusters. Short maceration. Matured six months in concrete tanks. 13.5% ABV. Typical production: 10,000 bottles. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Red and black fruit, graphite, spice and a whiff of barnyard. Medium-bodied. Smooth upfront with a fluid texture, light but present structure and a surprising freshness. Though the lacking the depth and length of the Grands Chemins, this is pleasant enough. Lightly chilled, it would make a fine picnic wine, which may explain the label’s bicycle leaning against a tree. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de France 2015, Les Grands Chemins, Roucas Toumba ($26.15, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Grenache (50%), old-vine Carignan (40%) and Syrah (10%) from vineyards in and around the Vacqueyras AOC. Manually harvested. The destemmed grapes are co-fermented, meaning the blend is made before fermentation. Matured eight months in concrete vats. 14% ABV. Typical production: 5,000 bottles. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Fresh, Rhône-ish nose of red and black fruit, garrigue, crystalline minerals and a hint of animale. Richer and fuller-bodied than the Pichot Roucas but still fluid and fresh, not in any way hot. For now, at least, the flavours tend to raspberry and black pepper (the Grenache speaking?). Sleek acidity and light but grippy tannins add structure and texture, a dark mineral underlay depth. The finish is long and spicy. Nicely balanced and very drinkable. Grilled lamb, please. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

May 7, 2017 at 12:28

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

Liracal

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Lirac 2012, Jean-Paul Daumen ($29.45, 11873211)
Grenache (60%), Syrah (30%), Mourvèdre (5%), Cinsault (5%) from purchased grapes grown according to Daumen’s specifications (as of 2010, the vineyards were converting to organic farming). Like the other wines in the Daumen line, this is made in the Vieille Julienne cellars. Vinification is essentially the same for all Vieille Julienne/Daumen wines: hand-picking and repeated sorting of grapes; partial destemming; temperature-controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts; extended maceration; approximately 12 months’ aging in foudres and neutral barrels; no filtering or fining; sulphur added – and then minimally – only just before bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Brooding, evolving nose: plum, raspberry, black pepper, game, dried herbs, granite dust, pencil shavings, violets… Full-bodied, velvety and sauve, as savoury as it is fruity and very dry. Finely structured: the lightly astringent tannins are fruit-cloaked until the finish, the acidity glints against the dark fruit and minerals. Layers include spice, meat, old wood, cocoa, slate and a briny tang and last well into the persistent finish. The alcohol adds power, not heat. Enjoyable now, especially if carafed an hour or two in advance, but still a little primary. Will be interesting to revisit in five years. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

April 25, 2016 at 12:10

Posted in Tasting notes

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Old World and New

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Eloro 2012, Spaccaforno. Riofavara ($28.50, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Nero d’Avola with small amounts of other, unspecified local grape varieties, all from organically and semi-biodynamically farmed vines averaging 30 years old and grown in a four-hectare, limestone-soiled vineyard. The grapes are hand-picked, then destemmed and lightly pressed. Fermented on the skins and with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Matured at least six months in barrels (80% second-fill tonneaux, 20% third-fill barriques) and at least 10 months in bottle. Unfiltered. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Pepper, leather, violet, herbs, dark cherry and strawberry. Medium- to full-bodied. Bright fruit, bright acidity and tight but not rebarbative tannins, all in perfect balance. Long, smooth finish. Tastes solar yet is less dense, more buoyant than many Nero d’Avolas. Another beauty. Good QPR. (Buy again? Done!)

Crozes-Hermitage 2012, Terre d’éclat, Domaine de la Ville Rouge ($31.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Syrah from organically farmed vines averaging 35 years old. The estate is converting to biodynamic agriculture. Long maceration and fermentation with indigenous yeasts at around 28°C in temperature-controlled tanks and using daily pump-overs. Matured 12 months in barrels. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
The expected dark fruit, smoke and bacon along with unexpected “kefir yogurt” and “roasted acorn squash” (quoting other tasters). More medium- than full-bodied, with a smooth and velvety texture, fine tannins and lifting acidity. The cherry fruit has bacon overtones and slate underpinnings and the finish is long and meaty/gamy. The oak is discreet. Young – would probably have benefited from a few hours in the carafe – but still accessible and definitely enjoyable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Napa Valley 2011, Charbono, Tofanelli Family Vineyard ($49.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Charbono (aka Bonarda, Corbeau and Douce Noir) from organically farmed, unirrigated vines grown in a 1.5-hectare vineyard located in the Calistoga AVA. The grapes were hand-picked, destemmed, cold-soaked for four days and fermented with indigenous yeasts and twice-daily punch-downs or pump-overs. Pressed directly into French oak barrels (25% new) and matured for 17 months with two rackings. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Chocolate-covered blackberries, pomegranate and a “hint of vanilla.” Mouth-filling and round, fruit-driven and soft-tannined but, despite the density and oaky finish, surprisingly fresh. Spice overtones and some stony minerals add welcome complexity. The velvety texture persists through the long finish. Definitely not a Cab or Zin but unmistakably Californian. (Buy again? A bottle for curiosity value.)

MWG October 23rd tasting: flight 6 of 6

In vino Valréas

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Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Valréas 2011, Clos Bellane ($21.35, 12577085)
The 48-hectare estate, which used to be known as Clos Petite Bellane, was acquired in 2010 by Stéphane Vedeau. It is located on the Vinsobres plateau, southwest of Valréas in the Vaucluse. Vedeau claims the relatively high elevation (400 m), northerly situation and eastern exposure give Clos Bellane’s wines a freshness and balance unusual for the area. The farming is organic (the estate has applied for Ecocert certification) and the winery is gravity-fed. The grapes for this 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah were picked by hand and destemmed. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine was matured in concrete tanks. Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Dark fruit and cherries along with some dried pine needles and a floral note. Balanced and silky textured in the mouth. Medium- to full-bodied, with smooth tannins and glowing acidity. The pure fruit brings blackberries to mind, while savoury overtones, including a hint of animale, add complexity. Slatey minerals come out on the bitter-edged finish and the alcohol is warming, not hot. The overall impression is indeed one of freshness. An honest wine sold at an honest price. Very food-friendly. Carafe an hour or two ahead of time and don’t serve it too warm. (Buy again? Yep.)

Written by carswell

November 5, 2015 at 16:11