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Posts Tagged ‘Rhône

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


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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

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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

The SAQ does natural wines – part 2

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The Barbera d’Asti 2008, Terra del Noce, Trinchero ($24.50, 12517710) has considerable initial appeal, provided you’re not bothered by the whiff of volatile acidity. The vibrant attack, pure fruit, upfront cherry and slate flavours, bright acidity and light rustic tannins are typical of the grape and appellation. Too bad, then, that the wine falls short on the finish. Buy again? Twenty-five bucks for a dead-ender? Probably not.

Having enjoyed other wines from the winemaker in his Domaine la Fourmente guise, we had high hopes for the Côtes du Rhône Villages Visan 2012, Native, Rémi Pouizin ($19.90, 12517832). How disappointing then to report it has as many cons as pros. Burned rubber and barnyard cancel out the otherwise attractive nose of raspberry jam, black tea leaves and black pepper. And though I don’t quite agree with one taster’s dismissal (“blackberry yogurt with tannins”), the lean, way peppery fruit is dominated by a parching dryness and tannic astringency while a metallic edge and flaring alcohol do no favours to the finish. Improves – turns sweeter and fruitier – after a couple of hours but not enough to dispel the impression that this is a textbook example of why I sometimes find Grenache hard to love. Buy again? Probably not.

A cipher when opened, especially on the nose, the Corbières 2012, L’Enclos, Domaine des Deux Ânes ($24.70, 12518000) doesn’t really come around until an hour later, at which point it shows itself to be the richest and roundest wine of the six, an agreeably earthy mouthful of red and black fruit, dried herbs and spice with a mineral underlay. The plush tannins and soft acidity have just enough presence while the finish provides a warm-and-fuzzy send-off. Not a throat-grabber by any means but easy to drink. Buy again? Sure, though not without wishing the price was closer to $20.

SAQ natural wines tasting: post 2 of 3.

Written by carswell

May 27, 2015 at 15:22

MWG January 8th tasting: A pair of Cab-based blends from Provence

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IGP Principauté d’Orange 2012, Daumen ($17.90, 12244547)
For background on the estate, see here. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Grenache (30%), Merlot (15%), Syrah (15%) and Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre (5%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines in Daumen’s own vineyards in the Méreuilles and Clavin lieux-dits. The Syrah vines are 20 years old, the others 40 to 60 years old. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled vats. Matured about 12 months, half in lined concrete vats and half in 50-hectolitre oak foudres. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with only a little added sulphur. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Expressive nose: red and black fruit and jam, incense, spice chest and hints of green pepper and violet. Full-bodied but fresh and fluid. The ripe fruit and dark minerals are structured by glowing acidity and firm, round tannins that come to the fore on the long, warm, black pepper-scented finish. Pure, balanced, even elegant. Outstanding QPR. (Buy again? Done!)

VDP du Var 2010, Les Auréliens, Domaine de Triennes ($20.60, 00892521)
Founded in 1989, the estate is a joint project of Jacques Seysses (Domaine Dujac), Aubert de Villaine (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and a Paris-based friend. Les Auréliens red is a 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from organically farmed vines. Vinified on a lot-by-lot basis. Fermentation and maceration last 12 to 25 days for most lots and up to 35 days for exceptional lots, with the Cab receiving daily pump-overs and the Syrah getting daily punch-downs. Matured 12 months in used oak barrels sourced from Domaine Dujac. Lightly fined but unfiltered. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin & Robillard.
Plum, raspberry and cassis with whiffs of herbes de Provence, leather and aged red meat. An appealingly round middleweight in the mouth, less dense and structured than the Daumen but far from flaccid. The tannins are supple, the acidity lambent. Transitions from ripe-sweet and fruity to dry and savoury on the long finish. Very enjoyable. (Buy again? Yes.)

(Flight: 5/8)

Written by carswell

February 1, 2015 at 14:36

Bordel de Noël workshop (4/6)

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IGT Terre Siciliane 2013, SP68, Arianna Occhipinti ($55.75/1.5 L, 12429470)
A 50-50 blend of organically farmed Nero d’Avola and Frappato from vines averaging 11 years old. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and macerated 30 days on the skins with daily pump-overs and punch-downs. Matured six months on the lees in tanks and two months in the bottle. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with minimal sulphur dioxide. 12.5% ABV. Also available in 750 ml bottles ($28.45, 11811765). Quebec agent: oenopole.
Delightful nose: candied rose petal, plum, cherry and basalt dust. A supple middleweight in the mouth. The ripe and juicy fruit – so not heavy or sweet – is framed by lacy tannins and tanged with a mineral sourness. The long finish shows some tannic astringency and exits on a white pepper and anise note. A shade lighter than the 2012 perhaps but, as ever, one of the most drinkable reds on the planet. One of the most food-friendly too, as demonstrated by its compatibility with all the foods on the plate. Along with the Canarelli rosé, my turkey dinner pick of the evening. (Buy again? Automatically.)

Côtes du Rhône 2012, Lieu-dit Clavin, Domaine de la Vieille Julienne ($28.75, 10919133)
Organically farmed Grenache (80%), Syrah (10%), Mourvèdre (5%) and Cinsault (5%). Manually harvested and partially destemmed. Temperature-controlled maceration and fermentation with indigenous yeasts lasted 20 days. Matured 12 months in 50-hectolitre foudres. Unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur was added – and then minimally – only just before bottling. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
A nose both exuberant and savoury: dusty plum, spice, turned earth, slate, dried herbs. Rich and dense with satiny, ripe, remarkably pure fruit. Tannic but not harshly so. Any sweetness is checked by the vibrant acidity. Bitter, earth and fired mineral flavours mark the long, full finish. Fundamentally dry and – that word again – savoury. Too intense for unadorned turkey and in no way synergistic with the Brussels sprouts, this really needs food that’s darker and more substantial: grilled lamb, say, or a beef daube. (Buy again? Absolutely, just not for Thanksgiving dinner.)

And that roasted turkey that even us turkey haters loved? Cooked using what some refer to as the blast-furnace method, which is nicely explained by chef Marek’s co-blogger here.

Written by carswell

January 14, 2015 at 15:12