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Posts Tagged ‘Sud-ouest

Native whites

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Gaillac 2016, Les Pierres Blanches, Domaine De Brin ($24.85, 13314666)
A blend of Mauzac (60%) and Len de l’El (40%) from organically farmed vines rooted in stony calcareous-clay soil. Manually harvested. The grapes are direct-pressed and the must is chilled and clarified by settling. Vinification – including sponatneous alcoholic and complete malolactic fermentation – and maturation take place in neutral barrels and last nine to 12 months. Unfiltered and unfined. No added anything except possibly a tiny amount of sulphur at bottling. Reducing sugar: < 1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
The first sniff brings a hint of reduction and volatile acidity followed by an odd mix of apple, flowers and sauerkraut. In the mouth, it’s clean, fresh and sleekly acidic, dry but full of applely fruit and quartzy minerals with a bitter undertow. Fair depth and good length. Not bad but not the revelation I was expecting. A taster who had enjoyed an earlier bottle didn’t peg our bottle, which was served double-blind, as the same wine. Nor did the wine match the description of the trustworthy SAQ advisor who recommended it. In other words, probably an off bottle. (Buy again? Yes, especially to give it another chance.)

Terre Siciliane 2016, Versante Nord, Uve Bianche, Eduardo Torres Acosta ($35.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Born in the Canary Islands, Acosta headed to southeast Sicily in 2012 to intern with Arianna Occhipinti. He later did a stint as a winemaker at Passopisciaro, eventually renting and farming a few parcels and making wine under his own name. His first commercial vintage was 2014. The grapes are grown in the Etna appellation but the wines are made at Occhipiniti’s facilities in Vittoria. That and the fact that at least some of the vineyards are higher than the allowed 800 metres of altitude are why the wines qualify only for the broad Terre Siciliane IGT designation and not the Etna DOC. This blend of Minella (60%) and other local varieties is made using grapes grown in six plots on the north face of Mount Etna. The organically farmed vines average 45 to 50 years old and are rooted in soils with a high volcanic ash content. The grapes are manually harvested, crushed and macerated on the skins for five days in concrete tanks with no temperature control. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured eight months in neutral oak botti. The 2016 is the first vintage of the wine. Total production: 2,000 bottles. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Complex nose, initially of “garlic sausage,” summer savoury and poblano chile, then more lemon and quartz. Dense and apricoty in the mouth, with citrusy acid and a mineral structure beyond the obvious current of salinity. The very long brings a lingering pithy bitterness. A multifaceted, engaging wine if not exactly a charmer. Probably better viewed as an accompaniment to dinner than an aperitif. Nearly the entire shipment was snatched up by Montréal Plaza restaurant, where it’s currently on the list for $76 and would make a smart match for many of their super-savoury dishes. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

November 8, 2017 at 12:09

AOC shunners

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Vin de table 2014, Zacmau, Causse Marines ($35.62, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Mauzac from organically and biodynamically farmed 90-year-old vines in Gaillac. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks. Maturated in stainless steel tanks and, on the lees with regular stirring, in barrels (30-50%). Fined and filtered only on an as-needed basis. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Striking nose of apple, sushi, “pumpkin,” and flat champagne. Smooth and rich in the mouth, with lowish acidity. The “loose attack” gives way to a savoury-overtoned, limestoney mid-palate. Not a lot of depth but a certain opulence and a great complexity of flavours, with tasters noting “apple compote,” “dried white flowers” and “propolis” among other things. Long finish. Fascinating. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de France 2015, Le Pont Bourceau, Les Roches Sèches ($31.38, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Technically an Anjou blanc. 100% Chenin Blanc from organically farmed vines planted in 1973. Manually harvested. Direct pressed. Vinified and matured in tanks for around 12 months. Filtered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Attractive nose of pear, quince and quartzy limestone. Rich, fruity and dry in the mouth. The smooth surface is unperturbed by the pervasive acidity. Great minerality. Honey overtones. Fundamentally savoury. Very long. Intense yet civilized. Delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Written by carswell

October 10, 2017 at 12:35

Cook’s Chard

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The latest installment in the ongoing search for a white wine that’s affordable enough for cooking and good enough for the cook to sip while doing the mise en place.

Côtes de Gascogne 2016, Chardonnay, Domaine La Hitaire ($10.20, 12699031)
The estate’s 110 hectares of vineyards are located in the hills around Eauze, capital of the Bas-Armagnac region in the Gers department. (The producer also makes armagnac under the Château du Tariquet label.) Technical information for this wine appears to be non-existent and there’s probably a reason for that. This much is clear: it’s 100% Chardonnay and part of the wine is matured in French oak barrels. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 3.3 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mosaiq.
Pleasant nose of subtle tropical fruit, lemon, chalk and a hint of green. On the lighter side of medium-bodied. Round and fruity (though not exuberantly) on the attack, drying as it moves through the mouth. A dusting of minerals adds interest while hints of vanilla and a touch of bitterness colour the peach-scented finish. Not particularly deep, long or memorable but fresh and fluid – not galpumphing – and it doesn’t taste industrial. (Buy again? Sure though not in preference to its cheaper, fresher, more characterful Les Tours sibling).

Written by carswell

September 8, 2017 at 13:41

Bargain Jurançon

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Jurançon Sec 2014, Domaine Laguilhon ($16.95, 13028651)
The estate is reportedly owned by viticulturalist Henri Estreboou Suberbie but, though the wine isn’t listed on its website, the producer is the Cave de Gan, a cooperative which M. Estreboou Suberie appears to chair. In any case, this is a 50-50 blend of Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng from sustainably farmed vines in Monein. Manually harvested. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Matured on its lees for six months. Stoppered with a cork (not syncork as has it). Reducing sugar: 3.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Les vins Dupré.
Subtle nose of yellow apple and pear, frangipane, faint chalk and honey. Medium-bodied and round, with a satiny verging on waxy texture. Well chilled, grapefruit seems the dominant fruit; warmer, pear with almond overtones comes to the fore. Dry, especially on the finish, though there’s also a thread of sweetness that’s countered by the streaming acidity, crystalline minerals and lingering touch of pith-like bitterness. Fairly long. Not exactly deep but surprisingly nuanced, complex and pure for a $17 wine. Excellent as an aperitif. Not bad with roasted cod loin under a fines herbes, lemon zest and panko crust. I can also see it working with pan-seared scallops in a delicate sauce. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

September 30, 2016 at 14:05

All pastels

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Gaillac 2015, Les Greilles, Causse Marines ($23.85, 860387)
A blend of Len de l’El (60%), Mauzac (20%), Ondenc (15%) and Muscadelle (5%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines averaging 45 years old. Manually harvested. Gently pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks. Occasionally filtered and/or fined on an as-needed basis. Minimum added sulphur. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Wafting nose: apple-pear sauce, chamomile, limestone, a whiff of alcohol. Round, not bone dry yet not at all heavy – due in no small part to the surprising current of acidity – with a texture between waxy and satiny. The soft, ripe-sweet fruit slow-fades leaving a mid-palate more felt than tasted and a finish with intertwining threads of bitterness, chalk and herbs and spice that, however faintly, bring a high-class white vermouth to mind. The alcohol is detectable but ghostly. A wine with no sharp edges: all pastels and just lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

September 27, 2016 at 12:31

Elian Da Ros times two

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Côtes du Marmandais 2014, Le Vin est une Fête, Elian Da Ros ($21.00, 11793211)
A blend of organically and biodynamically farmed Abouriou (40%), Cabernet Franc (40%) and Merlot (20%). Manually harvested. The Merlot and Cabernet were destemmed, macerated for ten to 15 days and gently pressed. The Abouriou clusters were kept whole and vinified using semi-carbonic maceration. All fermentations are with indigenous yeasts. The wine was matured 10 months in old barrels and one month in concrete tanks. Unfined and lightly filtered before bottling in late November 2015. Sulphur is added only on bottling. 12.5% ABV. Closed with a synthetic cork. Reducing sugar: under 1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Some reductive aromas on opening but nothing double-carafing doesn’t take care of. One hour after opening: plum, slate, spice, iron and cherry yogurt. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied and round, fruity but dry, with freshening acidity, lightly raspy tannins and good energy. Tasty and throwbackable, the kind of wine that almost drinks itself. Hard to imagine a more grill-friendly red. Serve lightly chilled. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes du Marmandais 2012, Chante Coucou, Elian Da Ros ($31.25, 12723142)
A blend of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Malbec (20%) and Syrah (10%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines mostly in their third decade (the Merlot vines are a bit younger). Manually harvested. The Merlot and Cabernet are destemmed, the Malbec and Syrah aren’t. The varieties are vinified separately. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and gentle punch-downs of the cap. Total maceration time: two to three weeks. Matured 24 months in barrels. Blending occurred nine months before bottling, which took place on August 25, 2015. Unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Our first two bottles were corked (all three came from the same case), so popped and poured unfortunately. On the nose, the fruit (red currant, blackberry, cherry) takes a back seat to “citronnelle,” “green,” vanilla and slate. Rich and finely structured in the mouth, the acidity sleek, the tannins still a little tight. Fruitier and more rustic than your average Bordeaux but very much in that mould. Finishes long and clean on a wood and mineral note. Continued evolving in the glass, indicating some aging potential: cellar three to five years or carafe an hour or two before serving. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

July 27, 2016 at 13:47

Two southern French reds with altitude

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Marcillac 2014, Mansois, Lionel Osmin ($16.50, 11154558)
Located upriver from Cahors in the foothills of the Massif central, the Marcillac vineyards are, at 350–500 metres (1,100–1,600 feet) above sea level, some of the highest in southwest France. This 100% Mansois (aka Fer Servadou) is made from purchased grapes that are manually harvested, usually late in the season. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation take place in temperature-controlled (23°C) tanks and last 12 to 18 days. Matured in tanks for 10 months. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Red berries, wet clay and vine stems with floral and iron overtones. Medium-bodied and very dry, though fresher than is often the case with Fer wines due in no small part to the bright fruit and fluent acidity. A beety streak adds an earthy, minerally edge while suppler-than-expected tannins keep things firm. The finish is a bit austere, as is typical with this grape. Appealingly rustic and very approachable. The price is more than fair. Try this lightly chilled with a simple stew of beef or lamb, root vegetables, celery and bay. (Buy again? Def.)

Languedoc 2013, Terrasses du Larzac, Les Carlines, Mas Haut-Buis ($18.85, 10507278)
Ranging in altitude from around 100 metres (400 feet) to 400 metres (1,300 feet), the Terrasses du Larzac vineyards are some of the highest in the Languedoc. Syrah (35%), Carignan (35%) and Grenache (30%) from organically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tronconic vats. Matured 14 months in cement vats. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Fragrant nose: black raspberry, plum, burned minerals, animale, leather, meat and a dash of green. Medium-bodied and smooth textured. There’s a good balance between the ripe fruit, bright acidity and light but firm tannins, though it’s a little lacking in the depth department. Decent peppery finish. Seems less accomplished than an earlier vintage I recall (the 2010?); whether that’s a function of our bottle, the challenging 2013 vintage or the wine’s current phase is hard to say. In any case, not bad and probably better with food. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 4 of 7

True to type and under $20

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Madiran 2011, Odé d’Aydie, Château Aydie/Vignobles Laplace ($17.95, 10675298)
100% Tannat. Manually harvested. The various plots are vinified separately. A pre-fermentation cold soak (10 to 12°C) in wooden tanks lasts three to five days. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation at 25°C with repeated pump-overs last 30 days. Maturated 12 to 15 months in oak tuns and wooden tanks. Reducing sugar: 2.7 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Appealing nose: blackberry, drying leaves, fresh mushrooms, cedary wood and a hint of vanilla. Dry and, despite the high alcohol, medium-bodied. A mouthful of tannins, saved from overwhelmingness by their sleek ripeness, the cloaking fruit and a ripple of creamy oak. Lingering mineral and wood flavours colour the fairly sustained finish. Approachable now but probably better in a year or two. Needs food (duck confit, cassoulet, grilled duck breast – you get the idea). Great to find such typicité – true-to-typeness, authenticity – for under $20; for an affordable introduction to Madiran wines, you’d be hard pressed to find better at the SAQ. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

January 16, 2016 at 12:27

Three Triguedinas

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Cahors 2010, Clos Triguedina ($28.40, 00746412)
A blend of Malbec (80%), Merlot (15%) and Tannat (5%) from 30-year-old vines. The grapes are manually harvested and sorted. Maceration and fermentation with pump-overs last 15 to 18 days. Matured 18 months in Allier oak casks (one-third new). Reducing sugar: 2.4 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Sélections Fréchette.
Wafting nose of plum, blackberry, spice, cedar, turned earth, leafmould and, eventually, a floral note. In the mouth, it’s on the lighter side of full-bodied. The ripe fruit is structured by fine, silky tannins and bright acidity, overtoned with spice and a hint of game. Finishes long and savoury. Earthy yet refined, modern though not to a fault, above all delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

Cahors 2009, Probus, Clos Triguedina ($38.75, 12450287)
100% Malbec from vines more than 50 years old (the estate’s oldest parcels). The various lots are vinified separately. The grapes are hand picked and sorted, then destemmed. Maceration and fermentation at 30-32°C last 20 to 25 days. Matured more than 18 months in new Allier oak casks. All the lots are tasted and only the best are blended to make the wine. Reducing sugar: 3.1 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Sélections Fréchette.
Gorgeous, inexhaustible nose with all of the above and more, including an integrating dose of faintly smoky oak. Full-bodied and intensely flavoured yet fresh and beautifully balanced. Layered, structured, long and complete. Accessible now if still young and tight, this will improve with another five to ten years in the cellar. Probus is always a good wine but this 2009 is exceptional. If it were a Médoc, it would cost upwards of $100. (Buy again? Done!)

Cahors 2009, The New Black Wine, Clos Triguedina ($69.00, 10706293)
To explain the origin of this bottling’s name, I can do no better than quote the Cahors entry in Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion: “The ancient town [of Cahors] on the River Lot […] is linked in the public mind with dramatic-sounding ‘black wine’. This was because so much of the wine made in Bordeaux was thin and travelled badly, and the merchants needed something to give strength and body to their exports. Their position at the commanding mouth of the Garonne enabled them to call the tune at Cahors, whose growers they encouraged to produce a thick, dark brew by boiling some of their wine, even fortifying it. This was the famous ‘black wine’, so celebrated, at least in myth, that Crimean winemakers produced a ‘Cahorski’ in tribute.” First produced in the mid-1990s, The New Black Wine is owner-winemaker Jean-Luc Baldès’ homage to the long-lost tradition. 100% Malbec from old vines. The grapes are hand picked and sorted, then laid on trays and gently heated overnight in a prune oven, slightly desiccating the fruit and concentrating the flavours. The wine is macerated and fermented in tanks and matured 18 months in new Allier oak casks. Reducing sugar: 2.4 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Sélections Fréchette.
While the other two wines are a deep magenta in colour, this is indeed much darker, purpler and opaque, though not black. Brooding nose of plum, prune, clean raw beef and a hint of virtual acidity. On the palate, it’s dense, rich and tightly wound, finely but intensely tanninc, possessed of fluent acidity and a velvety texture. The fruit is dark and dense but, somewhat to my surprise, not at all cooked or jammy. At this early point in its long life, it’s a bit monolithic though obviously deep, broad and long. Gets better and better as it breathes, indicating it will benefit greatly from extended cellaring (the winemaker recommends 20 to 30 years). (Buy again? Maybe, but I think I’d rather have two bottles of the splendid Probus instead.)

MWG November 12th tasting: flght 5 of 6

Written by carswell

January 8, 2016 at 13:36

Upfront Fronton

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Fronton 2012, Classic, Château Bouissel ($17.65, 10675888)
Négrette (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Côt (aka Malbec, 20%). Macerated (13 days), fermented and matured in temperature-controlled tanks. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Maître de Chai.
Reductive aromas quickly blow off leaving an appealing, multifaceted nose of crushed blackberry (fruit and leaves), flowers (honeysuckle and dried violet), shoe leather, red bell pepper and a gamy note. Medium-bodied verging on lean. The juicy, spicy fruit is ripe-sweet and acid-bright on entry but turns drier and gains a bitter edge as it flows across the palate and heads into a fair finish, where soft if rustic tannins make their lightly astringent presence felt and a faint tingly/burning/numbing sensation, like a blend of menthol and Szechuan peppercorns, lingers long. Far from deep but really quite companionable. Food – well, at least my food (duck confit and a warm lentil salad) – brings out the fruit and obliterates the nuances. But that’s OK: it’s still an enjoyable quaffer. A vin nature version of this would be amazing. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

April 14, 2015 at 12:45