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Posts Tagged ‘screwcap

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)., 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

Three takes on Pinot Noir

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Alsace 2014, Pinot Noir, Vignoble d’E, Domaine Ostertag* (ca. $32, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A preview bottle of a wine that will be available this fall. Part of Ostertag’s Vins de Fruit line, this 100% Pinot Noir is made from grapes from two-decade-old organically and biodynamically farmed vines rooted in gravelly clay near the village of Epfig. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Macerated at 26°C for around 10 days. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and daily pumpovers but without chaptalization. Matured in stainless steel tanks until the end of the spring following the harvest. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Complex, savoury nose: red berries, bitter almond, fresh and dried herbs, prosciutto. Light- to medium-bodied, fluid and silky. The lean fruit is shaded by dark minerals and structured by bright acidity and supple tannins that turn a little gritty on the sustained finish. Definitely not a Burgundy but definitely a Pinot Noir, and a tasty and pure one at that. An intriguing pairing with a salad of raw rhubarb, fresh raspberries and greens. (Buy again? Yes, though not without wishing it were a few bucks cheaper.)

*I’ve not linked to Ostertag’s website as my Internet security software indicates it has been hacked and launches an Exploit Kit Redirect 5 Web attack. If your device is protected and you’re feeling adventurous, you can visit the site here.

Casablanca 2015, Pinot Noir, Refugio, Montsecano y Copains ($26.05, 12184839)
The estate is a joint venture involving three Chileans and André Ostertag. Two wines, both 100% Pinot Noir from organically and biodyanmically farmed vines, are made. This is the second wine. Manually harvested. Macerated and fermented with indigenous yeasts for 12 to 18 days. One-quarter is matured in 16-hectolitre concrete eggs for 12 to 18 months, three-quarters in stainless steel tanks. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny amount of volcanic sulphur is added at bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
An initially reductive nose soon gives way to spice, red currant and strawberry-rhubarb.In the mouth, the wine is denser and more fruit-forward than its flightmates though still fluid and supple. Bright acidity and light if rustic tannins add welcome texture. Long, earthy finish. At this stage, benefits from a hour or two’s carafing. (Buy again? Sure.)

Bourgogne 2013, Bedeau, Domaine de Chassorney/Frederic Cossard ($58.42, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from organically farmed vines. The manually harvested whole clusters are sorted and placed in tronconic wood vats, with carbon dioxide being added along the way to prevent oxidation. Once filled, the vats are loosely covered with plastic and left for 40 day’s maceration and fermentation with occasional pumpovers and/or punchdowns (by foot). The grapes are manually shovelled into to a pneumatic press and the press and free-run juice are pumped into a large vat for malolactic fermentation, then racked into oak barrels (30% new) for 12 to 15 months’ maturation. The finished wine is racked into a vat, allowed to rest one month and bottled by gravity. Unfiltered and unfined. Sulphur is used in the vineyard but not in the winery (Cossard even cleans his barrels with ozone), except for a tiny amount of sulphur dioxide added at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Strawberry, gunflint, background green herbs and leather, then classic Burgundy notes of red berries, spice and cedar. Medium-bodied, svelte and silky. Airframe tannins and bright-but-sleek acidity structure the remarkably pure fruit, while a mineral vein runs well into the long, clean finish. A savoury red Burg with great energy. (Buy again? If feeling flush, yes.)

MWG July 15th tasting: flight 4 of 8

Blaufränkisch times two and a half…

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…or maybe times two and three-quarters, since Zweigelt is a cross of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent.

Burgenland 2013, Pitti, Weingut Pittnauer ($18.55, 12411000)
A 50-50 blend of Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt from biodynamically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Macerated on the skins for two to three weeks. Pressed pneumatically. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured (for about six months) in temperature-controlled stainless steel. Lightly filtered before bottling. Screwcap. Reducing sugar: 6.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Appealing nose of red and black berries and turned earth. In the piehole, it’s juicy, brightly acidic and, due to that, fundamentally dry. Floral aromatics and crunchy minerals colour the mid-palate while light raspy tannins mark the finish. A bit rustic and all the better for it. Totally poundbackable and a delight with grilled sausages, all for well under $20 – what’s not to like? (Buy again? Yep.)

Burgenland 2013, Blaufränkisch, Weinbau Uwe Schiefer ($24.75, 12806571)
100% Blaufränkisch. Schiefer, whose last name fortuitously means schist in German, is a former sommelier who decided to get his hands dirty. Located in southern Burgenland, his estate is organic but converting to biodynamism. The winemaking is minimalist: “All the wines ferment spontaneously and mature in differently sized casks on the yeast. No modern technology, no barrique.” Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Tocade.
Spice, leafmould and slate, gaining red meat and menthol notes. Medium-bodied and silky textured. Blackberry juicey – both very fruity and very dry, with streaming acidity, sleek tannins and a dark mineral underlay. Good length. Less complex and deep than Schiefer’s high-end cuvées (which cost twice as much) but still lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Burgenland 2012, Blaufränkisch, Reserve, Weingut Moric ($51.00, 12282527)
100% Blaufränkisch from century-old vines in the Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg vineyards. Owner Roland Velich farms without herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers but doesn’t claim the organic label. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in old barrels. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. Unfined, like all Moric wines. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Evolving nose: rose, spice, slate and, eventually, leather and faint juniper berries. Beautiful if young, an extracted yet balanced mix of ripe fruit and slate, cranberry-like tartness and finely detailed tannins. “Bitterness adds the balancing touch” (quoting another taster) to the long, long finish. Great clarity and precision. Multidimensional but still a little monolithic (give it a few more years in the cellar or a few hours in a carafe), pricey but not overpriced. Having been burned so many times, I now buy backup bottles for tastings and return the backup if the first bottle isn’t defective. I’d planned to do that with this but couldn’t bring myself to part with the second bottle. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

July 29, 2016 at 11:40

Selbach-Oster times two

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Mosel 2014, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Selbach-Oster ($19.95, 00927962)
100% Riesling from the Himmelreich vineyard (Zeltinger is the name of the adjacent, riverside village). Manually harvested. Made in tanks and large neutral barrels. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 17 g/l. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
“Lemon-flavoured Greek yogurt” (quoting another taster), chalk, quartz and eventually green apple and a whiff of petrol. Light and lean in the mouth. The sugar, in no way saccharine to begin with, is held in check by trenchant acidity. The fruit seems subdued, at least for now, while the pervasive minerals have yet to crystallize. Enjoyable enough as is but, based on experience with earlier vintages, I’m guessing this still has some knitting together to do and will show better in a year or two. Cannot imagine why anyone, especially sushi eaters, would choose Kung Fu Girl when this is around. (Buy again? Sure.)

Mosel 2012, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Selbach-Oster ($29.35, 00904243)
100% Riesling from the Sonnenuhr vineyard. Manually harvested. Made in tanks and large neutral barrels. Reducing sugar: 7.7 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Apples, faint citrus, chalk and slate. Elegant and transparent, with a rainwatery weight and texture. Fruity and residual sugary but basically dry. Minerals abound. The acidity is crisp though less razor-sharp than the Halbtrocken’s. Good length, with some stone fruit and spice joining the lemon and slate. A wine of great purity, this is drinkable now but will reward cellaring for another five years at least. (Buy again? Yes.)

Sorry to say the estate continues the German tradition of providing few specifics about its vine-growing and wine-making. The above two wines may or may not come from old, ungrafted vines and may or may not have been fermented with indigenous yeasts. No info about filtering, fining or added sulphur (though you can usually take the last for granted).

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

May 30, 2016 at 12:14

The full Monterey?

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Central Coast 2013, Grenache, Clos de Gilroy, Bonny Doon Vineyard ($28.35, 12268557)
The front label says Monterey County but the grapes come from four vineyards, some of which are outside the county limits, and the winery’s spec sheet lists the AVA as Central Coast. In any case, this is a blend of Grenache (75%), Syrah (7%) and Mourvèdre (18%); if it contained any less Grenache, it couldn’t be labelled as a varietal. The grapes were manually harvested, gently destemmed and given a cold soak. The lots were fermented separately. Macerated, fermented and matured on the lees in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 14% ABV (14.4% per Quebec agent: Trialto.
Strawberry, black raspberry and a touch of plum, hints of sweet spice and pepper and a kirschy whiff of alcohol. In the piehole, it’s a heady middleweight. The texture is fluent, even silky. The flavours are dominated by fruit that’s ripe-sweet and solar in a way that European Grenaches seldom are (Monterey is at the same latitude as Algiers and Tunis). The alcohol is noticeable but not hot, except in the sense that it melds with wine’s black peppery heat. Bright acidity, pliable tannins and a clean finish round out the picture. A bit on the simple side but varietally correct and certainly easy to drink. Slightly chilled, it makes a fine barbecue wine. Bang for the buck is an issue: the wine makes a lot more sense at the US$15 it can be found for in the States than the C$28 and change charged here in Quebec. (Buy again? On sale maybe?)

Written by carswell

May 24, 2016 at 12:07

Bargain Bierzo

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Bierzo 2014, Viernes, Bodegas Godelia ($16.45, 12751451)
100% Mencía from vines between 12 and 21 years old in various plots. Manually harvested. The grapes are kept at 10ºC while processed at the winery and gently destemmed. Fermentation in temperature-controlled (25ºC) stainless steel tanks with push-downs and pump-overs lasts 12 to 15 days. Malolactic fermentation and four months’ maturation on selected lees also take place in tanks. 13.5% ABV. Screwcapped. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Attractive, earthy nose dominated by cherry, cassis, sandalwood and slate. Medium-bodied. The flavours echo the nose. Starts out ripe-sweet but dries as it goes along. Light tannins add some grit and outlast the fruit. Licorice, black pepper and a dash of salt colour the mildly astringent finish, while tobacco lingers on. Quite intense from start to finish though lacking some of the depth and follow-through of more expensive Bierzos; on the other hand, it’s not overambitious like so many of those wines are. Savoury and a bit rustic, true to the grape and the terroir, this punches above its weight and delivers good bang for the buck. (Buy again? Sure.)

No, it’s not natural or even organic and is probably made with selected yeasts and manipulated who knows how. But in contrast to many wines in its price bracket, it doesn’t taste industrial or like a headache generator.

Written by carswell

March 10, 2016 at 12:40

Two dryish Rieslings

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The teaser sent to MWG members prior to the tasting described this flight as “Two aromatic still whites made from the same grape variety. No other connections.”

Kamptal 2013, Riesling, Zöbing, Hirsch ($27.15, 12196979)
100% biodynamically farmed Riesling sourced from several vineyards around the village of Zöbing. The vines average 15 years old. After gentle pressing, the must was allowed to clarify by settling then transferred to temperature-controlled (22°C) stainless steel tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 4.1 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Avant-Garde.
Lemon/lime, white rocks and an evanescing note of “vulcanized tires.” A faint spritz is apparent on the first sip but soon dissipates. Stony tending to austere though softened by the ripe fruit and touch of residual sugar. Backbone comes from acidity that some described as “aggressive” but I found enlivening. Long, clean finish. A wine to drink with dinner rather than sipping on its own before. Very good if a little overshadowed by the Baker. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vinemount Ridge QVA 2012, Riesling, Picone Vineyard, Charles Baker ($35.50, 12718482)
Some background on Baker here. 100% Riesling from vines averaging 30 to 35 years old and grown in the Picone vineyard. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 15 g/l. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Burned match, “naphthalene” and “Fort McMurray” aromas blow off, leaving classic lemon, lime, grapefruit, green apple and quartz. In the mouth, the wine is remarkably pure, deep, intense, balanced and long, packed with fruit and minerals, all carried on a stream of fluent acidity. It’s also drier than most Canadian Rieslings. Evolves and improves in the glass. Really impressive, price notwithstanding (before the bottle was unveiled, I mentioned that this was the most expensive wine of the evening, prompting one taster to joke, “Then it must be Canadian.”). A world-class wine with at least a decade’s aging potential and undoubtedly one of the best Canadian Rieslings ever made. As such, it’s unmissable. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG January 14th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

January 25, 2016 at 12:50