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Posts Tagged ‘Sicily

Etna threesome

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Etna Rosso 2014, Rossodiverzella, Benanti ($25.10, 11348459)
Nerello Mascalese (85%) and Nerello Cappuccio (15%) from 10- to 60-year-old vines grown in parcels on the northern, southeastern and southwestern slopes of Mount Etna at altitudes varying from 450 to 900 m. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Fermentation and 20- to 21-day maceration with selected yeasts take place in stainless steel vats. Maturation – 80% in stainless steel tanks, 20% in French oak barriques – lasts eight to 10 months. Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: L’Enoteca.
Fragrant nose of red berries, plum and spice with a faint floral perfume. Medium-bodied, fleet and quite dry. The sweet-tart fruit unfurls like veils across the palate. Bright acidity and supple tannins provide a light but present structure. A vein of volcanic minerals runs from the mid-palate into the long, slightly astringent finish. Such an appealing blend of fresh and savoury. (Buy again? Yes.)

Etna Rosso 2013, Graci ($27.80, 13041830)
Nerello Mascalese (100%) grown on the northern-eastern slopes of Mount Etna at an altitude of 600-700 m. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and maceration on the skins are in concrete tanks and last for around 30 days. Matured 18 months in concrete tanks with spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Symbiose.
The darker, more minerally nose is marked by old wood, cherry, plum, spice chest and leather aromas. In the mouth, the wine is heftier and headier than the Benanti, the fruit is riper without seeming jammy and the flavours are entertaining. A smooth current of acidity brings welcome freshness while cushy tannins provide torque. The persistent finish has a tarry edge. (Buy again? Sure.)

Etna Rosso 2013, Barone di Villagrande ($28.60, 12988167)
Nerello Mascalese (80%) and Nerello Cappuccio (20%) from organically farmed vines on the southern slopes of Mount Etna. Maceration and fermentation in temperature-controlled tanks lasts six to 10 days. Matured 12 months in 500-litre Etna oak barrels. Altitude: 650-700 m. Reducing sugar: 2.5 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: AOC & cie.
Jammier on the nose, showing the expected cherry and plum along with aromas described as “a bit coffee,” “fruitcake,” “molasses” and “pomegranate.” Bigger, denser and fruitier than its flightmates. Fundamentally dry though the very ripe fruit gives an impression of sweetness. It also drives complexity and depth into the background. A dusty quality colours the mid-palate and lingers into the long finish. May benefit from a few more years in the cellar. At this point too New Worldish and Parkerized for me, though some around the table loved it. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 6 of 7


Written by carswell

February 6, 2017 at 12:57

A blessing

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While waiting for some technical information on the next wines in the August 12th tasting to land in my inbox, a note on a recent arrival at the SAQ.

Terre Siciliane 2015, Lucido, Marco de Bartoli ($20.00, 12640603)
100% Catarratto Lucido from organically farmed 13-year-old vines. Manually harvested. Gently pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for seven months, also in stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 12% ABV. 20,000 bottles made. Quebec agent: oneopole.
Served too cold, the wine seems shy, even nondescript. But as it warms, the nose blossoms: lemon and a little peach, straw, fired quartz. The flavours echo the nose, the delicate fruit and waxy texture making way for a mineral mid-palate. Soft acidity glows as if from within. The wine’s bone-dryness is apparent only on the finish. Faint notes of dried herbs, pineapple water, white flowers, caramel and citrus pith linger long. As its name suggests, luminous and translucent, sane and coherent. That such quiet beauty can be had for $20 is a blessing. A fine accompaniment to grilled shrimp and squid with olive oil, lemon and parsley; the next bottle is earmarked for Hazan’s mussel and romano bean soup. (Buy again? Naturally.)

Written by carswell

September 10, 2016 at 12:16

Green dream

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IGT Terre Siciliane 2014, Vignaverde, Marco De Bartoli ($26.90,  12755152)
This is the second vintage of the wine and the first vintage sold at the SAQ (the 2013 was available through the private import channel). 100% Grillo from organically farmed 20-year-old vines grown in the Samperi vineyard. Manually harvested and gently pressed, the grapes were picked earlier than is the case for the fruit used to make the estate’s Marsalas and oak-aged Grillo (late August as opposed to early September), the idea being to produce a fresher wine. The must was chilled and clarified by settling for 48 hours, then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled 50 hl stainless steel tanks. Matured on the lees for six months, also in stainless steel tanks. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oneopole.
Wafting nose of honey-dipped apple, lemon peel (pith included), sour pineapple and chalk dust. Medium-bodied, smooth and fluid. The flavours are gorgeous and unassertive – this is a wine drawn in pastels – a cross between a lemon and an apple, say, with some pear notes chiming in on the finish. A mineral underlay adds savour while delicate acidity keeps everything fresh. Limestone, chamomile and the faintest hint of anise linger long. So suave and drinkable, a beaut. (Buy again? If only I could but it’s virtually gone from the island.)

As an accompaniment, the winery suggests “whole wheat pasta dishes, sea bass rolls [or] Sicilian truffle from Hyblaean Mountains,” all of which sound good to me. That said, this seemingly mild-mannered wine proved the best pairing yet for a darkly flavourful Sicilian rabbit stew whose ingredients include onion, celery, parsnip, olive oil, bay, pine nuts, golden raisins, garlic, fennel seed, vinegar, sugar and chocolate. Go figure

Written by carswell

April 22, 2016 at 13:44

Two warm-climate whites

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The teaser sent to MWG members prior to the tasting described this flight as “Two warm-climate still whites. No other connections.”

Côtes du Roussillon 2014, Les Glaciaires, Domaine Gardiés ($24.70, 12013378)
Grenache Blanc and Gris (40%), Roussanne (40%), Macabeu (20%) from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. “Traditional vinification” (whatever that means). Matured eight months in demi-muids. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La Céleste Levure.
Dusty, sun-baked minerals, hints of lemon, white pepper, garrigue, menthol, peach, anise and, according to more than one taster, “coconut.” Weighty on the palate but also fleet and fresh. There are minerals galore as well as light peach, pear, pineapple and honey and brisk acidity of a type you can’t assume you’ll encounter in a Roussillon white. Long, rainwatery finish. Impeccable. (Buy again? Yep.)

Sicilia 2014, Bianco Maggiore, Cantine Rallo ($22.40, 12476989)
The estate is located in the commune of Marsala, in westernmost Sicily. 100% Grillo from organically farmed vines planted in 2001. Manually harvested. Gently pressed. Alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled (16-18°C) stainless steel tanks lasts eight days. Does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Matured in stainless steel takes for six months and in bottle for one month. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Les vins Dupré.
Complex, effusive nose that elicited descriptors like “rocky,” “oily” and “saline.” Aromas of spicy white fruit dusted with lemon zest are echoed in the mouth. Texturally, it’s rich but not heavy. There’s a touch of residual sugar – or maybe it’s just the ripeness of the fruit – but basically we’re talking a round, dry, joyful wine. Good acidity and length. Complete. If you like Grillo, you’ll love this. White of the evening for several around the table. Excellent QPR. (Buy again? Def.)

MWG January 14th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

January 22, 2016 at 15:39

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

Noir and Nerello

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Beaune 1er cru 2011, Les Chouacheux, Domaine Chantal Lescure ($53.95, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from a 1.5-hectare vineyard of organically farmed vines averaging 50 years old. Manually harvested. After destemming, the uncrushed grapes are gravity-fed into stainless steel vats for cool semi-carbonic maceration. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts and occasional punch-downs. The grapes are then pressed and the wine transferred to oak barrels (25-30% new) for 16 months’ maturation. One or two months before bottling, the wine is racked. Blending and bottling are done at lunarly favourable moments. Unfiltered and lightly sulphured. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Cherry (the fruit and the wood), mushroom and a hint of “Dutch process cocoa,” as one taster put it. Pure silky fruit, fine tight tannins, supple acidity and a caressing finish. The oak is discreet and perfectly integrated. Not the most dimensional Burgundy you’ve ever drunk but elegant and accessible (though surely able to evolve and improve over the next five to 10 years). (Buy again? Yes.)

IGT Sicilia 2008, Reseca, Gulfi ($57.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Gulfi’s only Etna wine. 100% Nerello Mascalese from unirrigated, organically farmed old vines. Manually harvested. Macerated and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. After malolactic fermentation has ended, the wine is transferred into 225-litre French oak barrels for around 24 months’ maturation. Bottle-aged another two to three years before release. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Expressive, savoury nose of red plum, dried cherry, clay, spice bread and “roasted dried seaweed.” Rich but not heavy, ripe but dry, with fragrant, chewy, bordering on brambly fruit, velvety tannins, suave acidity, a dark mineral substrate and a long, kirsch-overtoned finish. The combination of warmth and freshness is special indeed. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 23rd tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

November 20, 2015 at 13:44

South and north

with 4 comments

Sicilia 2011, Carjcanti, Gulfi ($36.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Carricante (95%) and Albanello (5%) from unirrigated, organically farmed 15-year-old vines rooted in limestone and clay. Manually harvested. Fermented in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Matured around 12 months in 2500-litre stainless steel tanks and 500-litre French oak barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Striking, complex nose: tamari (!), almond paste, dried apricot, split wood and white spice against a backdrop of minerals. Medium-bodied, fruity but dry, especially on the finish. Lots of minerals and soft but sustained acidity. Long with hints of quince and oxidizing yellow apple. Unique and delicious though probably not a long ager. Understandably a favourite of many around the table. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Alsace 2012, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Jean Louis & Fabienne Mann ($35.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from organically farmed old vines grown in several vineyards. Manually harvested. The must from the gently pressed grapes is allowed to clarify by settling, then fermented in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Maturation on the lees lasts around 10 months. At bottling, the wine is lightly filtered and a small amount of sulphur dioxide is added. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Lemon, white flowers, white minerals and eventually buttery marzipan. Very dry. Rich and hefty. Smooth on the surface but dig a little and you find tense acidity and real mineral depth. Ends long and clean on an intriguing faintly bitter note. Beautiful, classic Alsatian Riesling at a fair price. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 23rd tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

November 18, 2015 at 12:51