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Revelatory

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MWG member Nick spent the holidays down under. While he didn’t make it to Clare Valley as originally planned, he did bring back a fascinating trio of new vintage, dry Clare Valley Rieslings, which he kindly shared with the group.

Clare Valley 2016, Riesling, Watervale, Gully View Vineyard, Koerner ($27.00, importation valise)
100% Riesling from 17-year-old vines rooted in the red clay and limestone soil of the Gullyview vineyard. Manually harvested in two passes a week apart. The first pass grapes were pressed immediately; the second pass grapes were given 24 hours of skin contact before pressing. In both cases, a small amount of sulphur was added to the press tray. The juice was cold-settled for about a week. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in ceramic eggs and stainless steel tanks lasted about three weeks. Matured five months on the fine lees. Bottled unfiltered and unfined but with a small squirt of sulphur dioxide. Vegan compatible. Screwcapped. 12% ABV.
Classic, open nose of white flowers, apple, lime, quartz, flint. A sleek textured mouthful of grapefruit and “apricot” that seems almost sweet upfront but proves quite dry. Chewing brings out the crisp acidity and plenty of minerals. Lime, green apple and spice notes and a lingering bitterness mark the finish. A delicious gush on opening, this had lost some of its oomph by the time we got around to it a hour or so later. (Buy again? At least another bottle for research purposes.)

Clare Valley 2016, Riesling, Watervale, Gullyview Vineyard, Adelina ($23.00, importation valise)
No, it’s not a typo; Koerner and Adelina do indeed spell the vineyard name differently. 100% Riesling from vines planted in 1977 and 2001 in red loamy clay over limestone. The grapes were manually harvested and whole cluster-pressed. The juice was cold-settled then fermented in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts. Fermentation was halted with around 5 g/l of sugar remaining. The wine was then clarified and bottled. Screwcapped. 11.5% ABV. Only about 2,400 bottles made.
Hazy and one of the least coloured wines I’ve seen. Complex nose of white gas, lemon-lime zest, “white lily,” minerals, rainwater and “ground cherry.” Light and fresh in the mouth, fruity yet dry, ethereal yet dimensional. Flavours tend to citrus, green apple and a chalky tutti-fruitiness one taster likens to “love hearts.” Turns savoury on the long, minerally finish. Full of energy and lots of fun. Excellent QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)

Clare Valley 2016, Riesling, Polish Hill, Grosset ($55.00, importaton valise)
The 36th vintage of this wine. 100% Riesling from organically farmed vines in the 8 ha Polish Hill vineyard. The soil is shallow shale and a thin crust of clay marl over slate. Yields are extremely low, giving the equivalent of two bottles per vine. The grapes were hand-picked. A small portion of whole clusters were set aside; the rest of the grapes were crushed and destemmed. The fruit was gently pressed and the free-run juice was chilled to near freezing and allowed to settle and clarify in a tank for five days. Low-temperature fermentation and maturation took place in stainless steel tanks. Blended just before bottling in July 2016. Vegan compatible. Screwcapped. 12.7% ABV. A few bottles of the excellent and more approachable 2012 ($50.00, 10956022) remain at the SAQ. Quebec agent (per the Grosset website): Elixirs.
Closed yet profound nose: lime, chalky quartz, eventually linden flower. Rich, racy, structured, deep and long. The fruit, minerals and acidity are in perfect taut balance. A bone-dry Riesling with every positive quality, including heft and presence. Needs time. Deserves a place alongside such giants as Ostertag’s Muenchberg and Nikolaihof’s Steiner Hund. (Buy again? Yes.)

aussie-riesliings

As usual, the wines were served double-blind. While the grape variety was soon deduced, no one guessed the provenance and several tasters were astounded to learn that Australia is producing such engaging, fleet and minerally whites. In short, to quote one taster, “a revelatory flight.”

MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 3 of 6

Written by carswell

March 3, 2017 at 12:35

Ward & associés tasting (7/9)

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Badischer Landwein 2013, Tschuppen, Weingut Ziereisen ($65.78/1500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Blauer Spätburgunder (aka Pinot Noir) from estate-owned, organically farmed 15- to 25-year-old vines rooted in limestone soil. Manually harvested. Spontaneous fermentation and maceration lasted six to eight weeks and were followed by gentle pressing. The must was transferred to used 225-litre German wood barrels (30% new) for 22 months’ maturation on the lees with occasional racking. Unfiltered and unfined. The first screwcapped magnum I’ve encountered. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

tschuppen-2013

Complex nose: cherry, “purple Popsicle,” “Swiss chard and arugula,” slate, dried rose, a dash of kirsch, distant lime and even celery salt. A dry, medium-bodied red with a silky surface, sleek acidity, fruit-cloaked tannins, underlying minerals and a long, lightly astringent finish. Neither Burgundian nor New Worldish but, in its weight, structure and blend of red berry and earth flavours, definitely Pinot Noir. Impressive QPR. Another hit of the tasting – the group ordered two cases on the spot. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

February 21, 2017 at 12:28

Ward & associés tasting (2/9)

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Located near Bockenheim in the Palatinate, the 20-something Brand brothers took over the estate from their father in 2004. Farming practices, rigorously sustainable since 1994, were certified organic in 2015. The wine-making is non-interventionist.

Pfalz 2015, Riesling trocken, Vom Berg, Weingut Brand ($23.53, private import, 12 bottles/case)
The estate’s entry-level line. 100% Riesling from estate-owned organically farmed vines. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

brand-riesling-vom-berg-2015

Initially sulphurous nose (not uncommon with screwcapped Rieslings) gives way to slate, lemon-lime and green apple overtoned with honeysuckle. Dry and fruity with nipping acidity, tons of crushed minerals and the faintest hint of caramel. Long, savoury and alive. Like Germany meets Alsace in a glass. Great QPR. Deservedly one of the hits of the tasting. (Buy again? Multiples.)

Pfalz 2015, Weissburgunder trocken, Weingut Brand ($26.37, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Inspired by a similar drawing on the cornerstone of a local church, the front label’s raised hand indicates this is part of the Schwurhand (oath-taking) line of wines made using grapes from the estate’s top vineyards 100% Weissburgunder (aka Pinot Blanc) from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Gently pressed and briefly macerated. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. No added anything. Unfiltered and unfined. Screwcapped. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

brand-weissburgunder-2015

Intriguing nose of chalk, gooseberry/quince, green tea and coriander seed. Equally intriguing in the mouth with a texture that has people grapsing for descriptors like “soft oily velour.” Lactic, bitter and faintly fruity (“like bad plum”) threads intertwine with dusty minerals and soft acidity. A distant mustardy note chimes on the long finish. Complex, savoury and satisfying. If you think Pinot Blanc makes only facile wines, think again. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 9

Greek trio

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Crete 2015, Vilana, Lyrarakis ($14.05, 11607553)
100% Vilana from vineyards in Alagni, central Crete, south-southeast of Heraklion. Manually harvested. Half the grapes were whole-cluster pressed; the other half were destemmed and cold-macerated on the skins for several hours. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled (17-19°C) stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Focus Cellars.
Chalk, quartz, matches and a hint of dried herbs. Clean, light and smooth in the mouth, with citrusy, Sauvignon Blanc-like fruit, good acidity and a decently long, clean, minerally finish. Certainly drinkable but also somewhat simple and a bit anonymous. Would like to taste the more upscale bottling. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Patras 2015, Roditis, Tetramythos Winery ($15.80, 12484575)
100% Roditis from organically farmed vines in limestone-soil vineyards located about 10 km south and 800 metres above the Gulf of Corinth. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and pneumatically pressed. The must is gravity-fed into small, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) and maturation. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Expressive nose of candied white berries, quartz dust and a hint of jalapeño. The fruity extract and lemon overtones notwithstanding, minerally – even rainwatery – on the palate, an impression only heightened by the brisk acidity. Ripe-sweet upfront, dry on the long, saline finish. Direct and to the point. Experience shows this really comes into its own with a selection of meze or a grilled porgy. (Buy again? Yes.)

Markopoulo 2015, Savatiano, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Papagiannakos ($16.55, 11097451)
100% Savatiano from unirrigated 50-year-old vines in rocky, limestone soil a few kilometres east of Athens airport. Manually harvested. Fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (16-18°C) stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for three months. Reducing sugar: 2.0 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The nose’s combination of floral notes, sandy beach, lemon curd and white peach is unique. Lemon with hints of tropical fruit, a mineral substrate and bright but unaggressive acidity mark the palate. A bitter thread weaves through the long finish. Probably the most versatile of the trio. As the 2008 Estate bottling tasted last summer showed, Savatiano is capable of improving with age. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to cellar for five or six years.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

January 27, 2017 at 14:49

Loosen up

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Mosel 2015, Riesling, Dr. L, Loosen Bros. ($16.45, 1068525)
The estate’s entry-level Riesling is a négociant wine made from grapes grown to spec and bought under long-term contracts. Vinified in stainless steel tanks. Fermentation is stopped by chilling before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 45 g/l. 8.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Select Vins.
Textbook nose: lime, white grapefruit, green apple, quartz and slate. A first sip reveals a spritzy tingle. Electric acidity shreds the sugar: while this is technically off-dry, it comes across as tartish, reinforcing the impression that the fruit is citrus, though peach is there too if you look for it. Chalkly, quartzy veins thread their way throughout, which is not to say there’s the kind of mineral (or any other) depth found in the estate’s single-vineyard bottlings. The puckery finish doesn’t last long, giving you the perfect excuse to take another sip. So pound-backable and – at 8.5% – you don’t pay a price for doing so. Lemon-limeade for adults. Should be on the wine list of every southeast Asian restaurant in the city and yet, amazingly, it almost never is. (Buy again? Yes, yes, yes.)

Written by carswell

December 4, 2016 at 10:52

Mottura mouth

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Civitella d’Agliano 2015, Poggio della Costa, Sergio Mottura ($23.50, 10782309)
100% Grechetto from organically farmed 30-year-old vines grown in the Poggio della Costa vineyard. Manually harvested, soft-pressed, cold-settled, fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) tanks for 20 days. Matured on the lees in tanks for six months. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Filtered. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Subtle, wafting nose of minerals (quartz), preserved lemon, straw with some flowers in it, “fennel bulb” (per another taster) and a saline note. Lemony and “chalky” in the mouth, the zingy acidity balanced by the not inconsiderable extract. A faint bitterness marks the long, clean, minerally finish. Simpler than the Orvieto but ultimately more appealing. (Buy again? Yes.)

Orvieto 2015, Tragugnano, Sergio Mottura ($22.40, 11660830)
A blend of organically farmed, well, what? The winemaker says Procanico (aka Trebbiano, 45%), Verdello (25%), Grechetto (20%) and Rupeccio (10%, so obscure it’s not mentioned in Wine Grapes). SAQ.com, the Quebec agent and some online merchants say Grechetto (50%), Procanico (40%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10 %). Whichever variety they are, the grapes come from the estate’s oldest vineyard (35 years old) and are manually harvested, vinified separately and blended and filtered just before bottling. Fermented with selected yeasts and matured on the lees until the spring in stainless steel vats. Reducing sugar: 1.2 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Reductive, “skunky” aromas dissipate leaving fruit (“dried mango”) and floral aromas. Very dry and quite extracted. Rounder and a bit blander than the Poggio della Costa, showing a little less personality, though far from a wallflower. Citrus and minerals run into the long finish, where they’re joined by a hint of Sauvignon Blancy grassiness and that telltale bitterness. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

November 14, 2016 at 12:56

Mönch on this!

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Mosel 2015, Ürzig Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mönchhof ($25.90, 11034804)
100% Riesling from ungrafted, dry-farmed vines between 60 and 100 years old in the original part of the Würzgarten vineyard (red slate) in the municipality of Ürzig. Manually harvested. Fermentation with selected yeasts in stainless steel and neutral German oak vats lasts four weeks. Matured four to six months in stainless steel tanks and neutral German oak barrels. Filtered before bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: > 60 g/l. 8.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Green apple, lime/grapefruit, mown meadow, slate, lemon yogurt, hints of yellow stone fruit. Sweet on the attack, then the acidity kicks in. Chockablock with pure, ripe fruit. Endowed with a mineral backbone. Shows fair depth and some spice at the back of the palate. Finish is subdued but quite long. Well balanced despite the hot vintage. Ageable at least a decade, maybe two, during which time it will deepen, gain complexity and lose sweetness. For now, while almost too sweet to drink as an aperitif, it comes into its own alongside food, in my case a fairly faithful replica of Nigel Slater’s apples, potatoes and bacon recipe finished with crème fraîche, mustard and tarragon, a dish I’ll be making – and pairing with German Riesling – again. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

October 5, 2016 at 12:50