Posts Tagged ‘Sparklers’
As is the Mo’ Wine Group’s longstanding tradition, our first tasting after the holidays focused on inexpensive and affordable bottles.
Vino da Tavola 2014, Il Brut and the Beast, Valli Unite ($25.35, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Based in Costa Vescovato in southern Piedmont, Valli Unite is a 35-year-old organic cooperative whose members grow local grape varieties as well as grains, fruits, vegetables and livestock. Accurate information on this wine is hard to find. It’s not listed on the coop’s website and online reviewers tend to be all over place about its constituent grape varieties, production method (some say it’s a filtered Charmat-method sparkler) and stopper (some say it’s a cork). For all I know, there may be more than one bottling. This much seems clear: the wine we tasted was made from Cortese and may also contain some Favorita. The biodynamically farmed grapes were manually harvested. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts and bottled unfiltered and unfined. No sulphur was added during the wine-making process. The fizz is the result of natural, in-bottle fermentation. Vegan-compatible. Crown cap. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Pale straw. Hazy in all the glasses though the last glass or two also contained a lot of brown-coloured lees. Interesting, leesy nose of lemon, sour apple, chalk and “bonbon de banane.” Soft but ticklish effervescence. There’s some fruit on the attack (one taster described it as “fruité austère”), lots of chalky minerals and fair acidity. A lactic note sounds on the long finish. Somehow the elements don’t coalesce into a whole and, as the wine breathes, the alcohol becomes noticeable and the wine seems “oxidized” and a bit “flat.” Not the hit that the 2011 was. I suspect our just-off-the-boat bottle was travel-shocked or otherwise upset. (Buy again? To give it another chance in a few months, yes.)
Crémant d’Alsace, Extra Brut, Paul-Édouard, Domaine Bott-Geyl ($26.00, 13032845)
A blend of Pinot Blanc (50%), Chardonnay (30%) and Pinot Noir (20%). The hand-picked grapes are purchased from growers, all of whom are converting to organic practices. This traditional-method sparkler was matured in the bottle for 24 months before disgoring. Reducing sugar: 5.1 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: LVAB.
Straw heading toward bronze with a fine bead and next to no foam. Outgoing nose eliciting descriptors like white strawberry, honey, acacia, stone fruit and, surprisingly but accurately, jalapeño. Round and rich in the mouth. The bubbles are low-key, the ripe fruit has a slightly honeyed quality, the minerals are dusty. Soft acidity and hints of lemon provide some welcome freshness. A whiff of yeasty brioche colours the long finish. Impeccable though not what you’d call lively. (Buy again? Personally, I’d go for something tenser but several tasters were quite taken with this.)
MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 1 of 7
Cerdon, Méthode Ancestrale, Demi-sec, Gérald Dubreuil ($30.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
An ancestral method sparkler made from Gamay and Poulsard. The estate uses no pesticides, favours green cover over herbicides and turns to fungicides only on an as-needed basis. Immediately after harvest, the grapes are pressed and the must is fermented in tanks with indigenous yeasts. When the alcohol level reaches about 6%, the wine is chilled to near freezing, then filtered and bottled. Fermentation resumes as the wine warms, with the by-product carbon dioxide creating the sparkle. Residual sugar: 55 g/l. 8% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Exuberantly fruity nose of “strawberry and strawberry greens” with a bit of black pepper. In the mouth, it’s smooth and softly effervescent, full of tart fruit, dusty minerals and bright acidity but no tannins to speak of. Not exactly dry but far from sweet. Long. A fun summer sipper that can also work as an aperitif, accompany lightly sweetened fruit-based desserts and pair beautifully with mild- to medium-hot Punjabi dishes. Would love to try the “sec,” which has 20% less residual sugar. (Buy again? Irrespective of price, yes, though maybe not when I can get single bottles of the excellent Renardat-Fâche for $6 less.)
Alsace 2012, Gewürztraminer, Tradition, Domaine Pfister ($39.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Gewürztraminer from two parcels in the Silberberg lieu-dit. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Classic nose and palate, marked by rose, litchi, candied orange peel and white spice. Technically a demi-sec but quite light on its feet and not too sweet. Stone fruit and minerals add complexity to the palate, with soft-glow acidity deftly balancing the residual sugar. The clean, faintly honeyed finish has Gewürztraminer’s telltale bitter edge. Impressive for its purity, balance and pleasurability though the price of admission seems a tad high. (Buy again? Sure.)
Coteaux Bourguignons 2014, Philippe Gavignet ($31.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The Coteaux Bourguignons AOC replaced the Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire AOC in 2011. The estate is based in Côtes-de-Nuits. 100% Gamay from 40-year-old vines; farming is close to organic. The juice is macerated on the skins for four or five days. Fermentation in tanks is followed by 12 months’ maturation. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Served last in the tasting after all the champagnes and a semi-sweet Gewürztraminer, which didn’t make sense until we took a sip and found it woke up the palate like a slap to the face. Red and black berries, minerals and a whiff of sap. Medium-bodied yet fleshy/chewy. Clean and bright fruit with darker mineral shadings. Lively acidity, light but firm tannins (had I not been told otherwise, I would have guessed there was some Pinot Noir in the blend). So focused and energetic. One of the most vibrant Gamays I’ve tasted in ages. (Buy again? Absolutely.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 9 of 9
Crémant de la Loire, Symphonie de la Désoucherie, Domaine de la Désoucherie ($26.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A traditional method sparkler made from a 50-50 blend of Menu Pineau (aka Arbois) and Chardonnay from Cheverny. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Quiet nose showing hints of apple, yeast and lees and a floral note. Softly effervescent. More minerally than fruity, with brilliant acidity and an intriguing bitterness on the long finish. Not remarkably complex but very tasty and so refreshing. (Buy again? Yes.)
Prosecco, Amor, Canto alla Moraia ($29.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Glera from organically farmed vines. The estate is based in Tuscany but, per appellation rules, the grapes for this wine were grown in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions. The grapes are direct-pressed and the juice immediately separated from the skins. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine is translated to airtight stainless steel tanks for low-temperature secondary fermentation using the Charmat method. Under three bars of pressure. Flip-top stopper. Residual sugar: 14 g/l. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Hazy light straw and a fine bead. Savoury nose marked by floral, jalapeño, honey and “peaty” aromas but not a lot of fruit. Light, bright and flavourful in the mouth with a fine, tickling fizz, browning apple and pear, a dusting of chalky minerals and a long, faintly sour-edged finish. Drier than the residual sugar level might lead you to believe. Fresh and appetizing. (Buy again? Yes, though I wouldn’t complain if it cost a few dollars less.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 8 of 9
Based in Mareuil-le-Port, Dehours & Fils was founded in 1930 by Ludovic Dehours, who eventually handed the reins to his son Robert. Financial partners took over following Robert’s early death. The estate returned to family control in 1996 and is now run by Robert’s son, Jérôme. Around 14 hectares of vines produce some 80,000 bottles in an average year. Pinot Meunier features prominently in many of the wines.
Champagne, Brut, Grande Réserve, Dehours & Fils ($57.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The house’s flagship bottling. 100% Pinot Meunier in this batch though the wine usually has some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blended in. Made with the addition of reserve wine from a solera dating back to 1998, which constitutes about 10% of the final blend. Residual sugar: 6 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Fine persistent bead. Complex nose with scents of “green,” “lit match,” “herbes de Provence” and dried apple. Clean, fresh, minerally and not fruit forward. Brilliant, incisive acidity. Considerable depth and length for a wine at this price point. An aperitif champagne par excellence. (Buy again? Gladly.)
Champagne 2009, Rosé, Brut, Cuvée Œil de Perdrix, Dehours & Fils ($74.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Mostly Pinot Meunier with a dollop of old-vine Chardonnay that was fermented in barriques. Matured four years. 12% ABV. 1,825 bottles made. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Faint beigey pink with salmon glints. Fine bead but not much foam. Umami-ish nose of Dutch rusk and red berries. Sleek, elegant, savoury, balanced and dry, with a long minerally finish. “The un-rosé rosé” noted one taster. Pretty fabulous. (Buy again? Def.)
Champagne 2007, Extra Brut, Maisoncelle, Dehours & Fils ($91.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir from the Maisoncelle lieu-dit; the vines were planted in the early 1970s. Fermented and matured in barrels. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Pale gold with darker gold glints. Complex and savoury: pork ramen, apple, peach, gooseberry… Finely balanced between ripe fruit, complex minerality and sleek acidity. Rich, deep and perfectly proportioned. Long and delicious. Du grand as they say around here. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 5 of 9
Champagne 2007, Blanc de Blancs, Diebolt-Vallois ($78.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from older vines in Cuis (60%), Chouilly and Épernay and young vines in Cramant, where the house is based. The grapes from each parcel were vinified separately and only the first-pressed juice was used. Fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Dosage: 6 to 8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Straw-coloured with gold glints, a fine bead and not much foam. Intriguing, savoury nose of candied apple, sage-like herbs, brioche and a floral note. So elegant and balanced on the palate, the ripe fruit (pear, apple, lemon and maybe lime) nicely restrained and mineral-laced, the acidity soft yet sustained. The long finish is marked by a faint pithy bitterness, a touch of honey and an elusive quality that another taster likened to “mineral water.” My first encounter this house; I look forward to the next. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 4 of 9
Champagne, Brut, Réserve, Legouge-Copin ($59.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Chardonnay (usually from more than one vintage) and Pinot Noir (usually from more than one vintage). 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Pale gold with sunshine yellow glints, little foam and a fine bead. Faintly oxidized nose of lanolin, oatmeal, lemon, chalk and bread. In the mouth, it’s rich yet dry, with tiny bubbles, racy acidity and good minerality. Finishes clean and long. In short, a fleet and appetizing wine. The bottle opened on New Year’s eve was even more singular and impressive and made a fine accompaniment to New Brunswick sturgeon caviar and crème fraîche-smeared blinis. (Buy again? Definitely.)
Champagne 2006, Brut, Blancs et Noirs, Legouge-Copin ($61.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Pale straw with light gold glints. Lots of foam. The umami-rich nose brings candied apple, nougat and brioche to mind. Rich, round, smooth, fluid and elegant on the palate, notable for its lifting effervescence, soft-glow acidity and “seaweed” overtone. The long finish brings a faint bitter note. The bottle opened on New Year’s eve seemed classic if a little more conventional than the Brut Réserve. (Buy again? Yes, though the Brut Réserve is more my style.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 3 of 9
Crémant d’Alsace, Brut, Rosé, Domaine Pfister ($39.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. No technical information is to be found about this traditional method sparkler, which is absent from the producer’s website and little mentioned on the Web. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Pale coppery pink with a very fine bead. Leesy nose of red berries, faint orange peel and “a hint of sweet prosciutto” (per another taster). In the mouth, it’s very dry and glowingly acidic. The subtle fruit allows the mineral underlay to come clearly through. The bitter-edged finish is nicely sustained. Serious without being severe and standing up to comparison with its more prestigious flightmate. Probably excellent with food. (Buy again? Yes.)
Champagne, Brut, Rosé, Prestige, Pierson-Cuvelier ($53.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. The colour for this traditional method sparkler comes from maceration on the skins; no other technical information is to be found. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Two shades darker than the Pfister with bigger bubbles and lots of foam. Outgoing nose of brioche and raspberry. Rounder, fruitier (red berries, pomegranate) and less dry than the crémant with zingy acidity and a pronounced mineral component. Enjoyable enough but a little overshadowed by the other sparkling rosés in the tasting. (Buy again? Maybe.)
MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 2 of 9