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Posts Tagged ‘Upper mid

Ward & associés tasting (3/9)

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Steirerland Landwein, “Trauben, Liebe und Zeit”, Weiss No. 7, Strohmeier ($50.73, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Trauben, Liebe und Zeit means “grapes, love and time” and is the name given to the estate’s line of natural wines. Mainly Pinot Blanc with some Chardonnay from the 2014 and 2015 vintages. The grapes are estate-grown, organically farmed and manually harvested.  Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 11 months in neutral 500-litre barrels. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered and unfined. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.


Cloudy light green-gold in the glass. Nose of white pepper, lemon, “sour orange,” lees and more besides. In the mouth, it’s soft textured and a bit spritzy. A wallflower at first though chewing reveals all kinds of complexity – including pear, herbs and chalk – and some depth. Comments from the peanut gallery: “like a gueuze,” “tastes like scrapes” (which, as I learned, are light metal shavings), “stealth acidity.” The long finish is faintly bitter and sour. Unique, fascinating and delicious. I was ready to lay down my money until I saw the price… (Buy again? Only if feeling flush, alas.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

February 14, 2017 at 12:08

Odd flightfellows

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Colline Lucchesi 2013, Palistorti, Tenuta di Valgiano ($29.80, 12767840)
Sangiovese (70%), Merlot (15%) and Syrah (15%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines around 20 years old. Manually harvested. The sorted grapes are gravity-fed into open wooden vats and crushed by hand or foot. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts, one supposes) and macerated for around two weeks with occasional punch-downs and pump-overs. Racked, settled and gravity-fed into lightly toasted French oak barrels (5% new) for malolactic fermentation and 12 months’ maturation. Blended and transferred into concrete vats for six months’ additional maturation. Unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Balthazard.
Appealing nose of cherry, tar, turned earth, Asian spices and a fresh, almost ferny note. A medium- to full-bodied mouthful of ripe fruit, bright acidity and firm but not rigid tannins. Despite the superficial sleekness, broad, deep and long. Beautifully balanced and complete, modern yet also terroirtorial. I’m usually unenthusiastic about blends of Sangiovese with international varieties but this is exceptional. It was also the only wine in the tasting that absolutely everyone around the table liked. The price seems more than fair. (Buy again? Yes.)

Swartland 2014, Family Red Blend, A.A. Badenhorst ($40.00, 12275298)
An unorthodox blend – around two-thirds Syrah with Tinta Barroca, Cinsault and Grenache – from estate-grown and purchased grapes. Farming practices are organic or nearly so. Manually harvested. The whole clusters, including stems, are crushed by foot and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete and wood tanks with twice-daily punch-downs. Given extended maceration (up to six months) before pressing. Transferred to 4,000-litre barrels for 16 months’ maturation. Blended just before bottling. Sulphur (pre- and post-fermentation) is the only addition. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Symbiose.
Complex, warm-climate nose of prune, plum, eucalyptus, black olive, dark minerals and eventually dried herbs. Full-bodied, rich and dense, balanced and savoury. Round tannins and smooth acidity provide sufficient structure. The flavours linger long and tend to the darker side of the spectrum: black fruit, slatey minerals, smoke, leather, compost, animale and a volatile note that puts me in mind of charred eucalyptus but that one taster describes as “electrical tape.” Not quite my style but definitely drinkable and as Old Worldish as New. (Buy again? Would gladly drink if offered but doubt I’d buy a bottle.)

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

Written by carswell

February 9, 2017 at 14:04

Two white Burgs from Jean-Jacques Girard

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Founded in 1529, Domaine Jean-Jacques Girard is one of the oldest estates in Savigny. It has 18 hectares of vines in the communes of Savigny-lès-Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton, Volnay, Pommard and Beaune.

Bourgogne Aligoté 2014, Jean-Jacques Girard ($26.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Aligoté from three parcels in the Hautes-Côtes. Mechanically harvested. Fermented and matured (for around 10 months) in foudres. Residual sugar: <0.5 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Appealing nose of white fruit, herbs and minerals. Smooth and not particularly fruity in the mouth, with sleek acidity, a strong mineral component and a sourish finish. A penetrating Aligoté that doesn’t give itself airs – just the way I like ‘em. (Buy again? Gladly.)

Pernand-Vergelesses 2012, Les Belles Filles, Jean-Jacques Girard ($46.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from the Les Belles Filles lieu-dit; the site is quite steep and the soil is very chalky clay. Manually and mechanically harvested. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in 50-hectolitre vats, after which the wine spends 10 months in 228-litre oak barrels (15% new) for malolactic fermentation and maturation, with weekly stirring of the lees until March of the year following harvest. The wine is lightly sulphured and bottled in July and August. Residual sugar: <0.5%. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Outgoing nose of tropical fruit and peach against a mineral background. The rich, faintly buttery texture is counterbalanced by great acidity, while the clean fruit sits on a chalky substrate and slow-fades through a surprisingly savoury finish. Beautiful though light years removed from, say, a flinty Chablis. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

January 16, 2017 at 14:26

A trio from Dehours & Fils

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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

Two black and white blends from Legouge-Copin

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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

Written by carswell

January 9, 2017 at 12:55

Sparkling PN rosés from Alsace and Champagne

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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

Chitry and Chablis

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Mon Caviste (aka Mon Caviste, Côté Vignes) is a Montreal-based wine agency with a lower profile than some. A few notable exceptions aside (Le Vieux Donjon, for example), it focuses on the private import channel. What’s more, few of the producers it represents are big names. And yet its wines are invariably interesting and delicious, as evidenced by their inclusion on the lists of many of the city’s top restaurants and the large orders that have followed each of the agency’s visits to the Mo’ Wine Group.

In November, Mon Caviste’s head, Roberto De Lisi, led a MWG tasting of wines – mostly sparklers – from the agency’s portfolio. We began with two still white Burgundies from the new-to-us Domaine de la Tour.

Founded in 1992 and located in Lignorelles, near Chablis, Domaine de la Tour has around 13 hectares of vines in production, including 3.72 hectares in Chablis 1er cru and 5.6 hectares in Chablis. Annual production is 30,000 bottles. While not organic, the estate has not used synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers since 2003.

Bourgogne Chitry 2015, Domaine de la Tour ($26.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from vines rooted in marly limestone. Vinified and matured entirely in tanks. Fermented with selected yeasts. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Cold-stabilized before bottling to precipitate out tartrates. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Lovely nose: lemon, apple, chalk, “a little candied,” “white flowers” and “a hint of truffle” and of ash. More substantial than expected in the mouth. Understated fruit, tons of minerals and very dry. Bracing acidity adds a nice bite to the long finish. Fair complexity and good balance. This near-Chablis is a QPR winner. A second bottle opened in late December was, if anything, even more satisfying. (Buy again? Done!)

Chablis 1er cru 2014, Mont Mains, Domaine de la Tour ($40.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from vines rooted in the Kimmeridgian marly limestone soil of the Montmains vineyard, of which the estate has 2.51 hectares in production. Vinified in vats and French oak barrels. Fermented with selected yeasts. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured in tanks and barrels. Cold-stabilized before bottling to precipitate out tartrates. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Classic if somewhat closed nose of apple, lemon, minerals and truffle. Similarly closed on the palate yet clearly complete and elegant. More structured, more layered, tenser and deeper than the Chitry, the fruit ripe, the minerals dancing, the acidity positively electric. A brown butter note overtones the finish. Appetizing, dry, long and clean. Again, the QPR is high. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 1 of 9

Written by carswell

January 3, 2017 at 14:05