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Posts Tagged ‘Rhône

Three sure bets

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Côtes du Rhône VillagesValréas 2010, Clos Bellane ($26.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah from biodynamically and organically farmed vines more than a quarter century old and rooted in clay and limestone. At 410 metres elevation, the vineyard is the highest and one of the coolest in the southern Rhône. Manually harvested. Partially destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and “Burgundy-style” punch-downs in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Pneumatically pressed. Matured in stainless steel tanks (70%) and used barrels (30%). To minimize handling by machines, the winery is gravity-fed. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Our bottle was opened 24 hours before we got around to it. Wafting nose of plum, raspberry, spice, oyster bed, red gummy bears and garrigue. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied but restrained. What’s more, the alcohol is not at all noticeable. Flavourwise, it’s remarkably clean, pure and well balanced, with rich fruit, freshening acidity, mostly resolved though still bitey tannins and as much breadth as depth. Black pepper and herbes de Provence overtone the long finish. The estate’s elegant rosé is among the best values at the SAQ, so it’s not surprising the CDRV (the 2015 version of which is also available at the monopoly) is similarly tasty and affordable. (Buy again? Sure.)

Corbières 2014, Prioundo, Les Clos Perdus ($34.60, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Grenache (80%) and Cinsault (20%) from biodynamically and organically farmed, 32-year-old vines rooted in limestone and clay. Twenty percent of the grapes are left in whole clusters, the rest destemmed but uncrushed. Given three days’ maceration before fermentation in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Basket pressed after 21 days on the skins. Matured on the fine lees in stainless steel tanks for nine months. Unfined and lightly filtered. Sulphur use is minimal. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Lovely, subtle, savoury nose: blackberries and red fruit, minerals, spice and a bit o’ barnyard. Pure, open and sweet on the attack yet dry and savoury. Finely structured with supple tannins and smooth acidity. Full-bodied, round, fresh – what the French call digeste, which is kind of surprising for a 14.5% wine. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vacqueyras 2014, Fruit Sauvage, Clos de Caveau ($65.00/1500 ml, private import, 3 bottles/case)
A 60-40 blend of Grenache and Syrah from 10- to 45-year-old organically farmed vines at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months, half in tronconic tanks, half in concrete tanks 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Elegant nose of plum and red berries, black tea and background minerals and garrigue. As for the palate, the word smooth appears three times in my notes, though suave might be the better descriptor. Full-bodied and lush yet fresh and energetic. Satiny texture. The ripe, juicy fruit is structured by round tannins and sleek acidity. Minerals rumble softly underneath. Finishes long and clean and with not a hint of heat. Unexpectedly easy-going, especially for a Vacqueyras. (Buy again? Sure.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 7 of 9

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Written by carswell

November 3, 2017 at 12:42

QPR CDR

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Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues 2016, Domaine La Montagnette ($16.40, 11095949)
The grapes are grown by the estate’s owner but vinified, bottled and marketed by the small Vignerons d’Estézargues cooperative. This blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20%) and Carignan and Mourvèdre (together 10%) comes from vines grown in clay soil with the smooth stones typical of the former Rhône riverbed. Practices in the vineyard are semi-organic, with chemicals being used only as a last resort. The vines are gobelet-trained and the grapes are picked by hand, destemmed, lightly crushed, fermented at low temperatures and given a long (three to four weeks) maceration. After pressing, the wine is transferred to large barrels for maturation. No additives, including yeasts, except a small amount of sulphur at bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 2.7 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Delicious, Rhoney nose: red and black fruit (mainly berries), hints of black pepper, violet, spice, leather, leafmould and more. Medium-bodied. Heady but not hot, with a very fluid texture, ripe fruit and plenty of acidity. Light tannins provide an appealing rasp, dark minerals run throughout. A whiff of alcohol lifts the peppery finish while sandalwood and fruit cake linger. Other CDRs may have more depth but few offer this combination of savour, freshness, fleetness and price. A textbook, naturalistic CDR for $16.40, let alone the $14.65 it’s going for during the current promotion ($1 discount plus 750 Inspire points), this has QPR winner written all over it. (Buy again? For sure.)

Written by carswell

September 5, 2017 at 10:15

Château Landra, take three

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Ventoux 2016, Pur Jus Rouge, Château Landra ($25.86, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Syrah (60%) and Grenache (30%) and Cinsualt (10%) from 45-year-old vines rooted in gravelly alluvial deposits with lots of smooth pebbles and stones. Destemmed, crushed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in stainless steel. Unfined and probably unfiltered. No added sulphur. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Intriguing nose: cherry, black raspberry, “pink peppercorn,” “fresh-cut grass,” “asafoetida” (all per other tasters) and more. Medium-bodied, juicy and, alcohol notwithstanding, unhot. Packed with sweet fruit but far from a bomb. The extract and fine but present tannins give it a plush texture but the streaming acidity eliminates any possibility of heaviness. Long, clean, black pepper-dusted finish. A fresh, dry, savoury, uncomplicated red whose only drawback is that, at 14%, it’s dangerously drinkable. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 8 of 9

Written by carswell

September 1, 2017 at 12:25

Château Landra, take two

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Ventoux 2016, Pur Jus Rosé, Château Landra ($25.86, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Cinsault (70%) and Grenache (30%) from organically farmed vines averaging 15 years old; the blend sometimes includes Syrah but not, it appears, in 2016. Manually harvested. Direct pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts at low-temperatures and matured in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered. Unfined. No added sulphur. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.

Watermelon pink. Hard-to-pin-down and initially subdued nose of quartz, “hibiscus,” “pink grapefruit or blood orange,” “Swedish berries” and strawberry. On the palate it’s rich (“really meaty” per one taster) yet fluid, a mouthful of, yes, juicy fruit and crunchy minerals buoyed by smooth acidity. The complex set of savoury flavours, including what I pegged as yeast but another called “a cured meat nuttiness,” lasts well into the finish. Likeable. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

August 28, 2017 at 14:20

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 9

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