Posts Tagged ‘Upper mid’
Barolo 2012, Riva del Bric, Paolo Conterno ($41.50, 10860223)
100% Nebbiolo from youngish vines (around 20 years old). Manually harvested. On arrival at the winery, the grapes are crushed, destemmed and transferred to tanks for two to three weeks’ maceration and fermentation. Matured 30 to 36 months in 35-hectolitre French oak barrels and six to 12 months in the bottle. Reducing sugar: 1.6 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Sélections Fréchette.
Cherry, sawdust, kirsch, rose water and eventually hints of leafmould, candied violets and truffle. On the fuller side of medium-bodied. Very dry. The sweet fruit cloaks the fine but firm tannins though it can’t hide the astringent undertow. Bright acidity adds sheen to the velours-like texture while spice and floral notes overtone the long finish. A step up from most Langhe offerings, this is like mainlining Nebbiolo. Impressive QPR. Accessible for a five-year-old Barolo but still primary and best cellared for a couple of years or carafed for an hour or two. (Buy again? Sure.)
My bottle was a generous gift from a Mo’ Wine Group member. Merci Julien !
Bierzo 2013, Ultreia St-Jacques, Raúl Pérez ($25.95, 12331835)
A Mencia-dominated blend with Bastardo (aka Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet) from organically farmed vines in a five-hectare, clay-soiled vineyard planted in 1900 to 1940 in Valtuille de Abajo. Manually harvested. Fermented (80% whole clusters) in large oak vats. Maceration lasts between two and five months. Matured in 225- and 500-litre barrels, foudres and cement tanks. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 2.1 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Umami-ish nose of slatey plum, blackberry, spice, “bay leaf,” “sumac,” “blond tobacco,” India ink. Medium-bodied and supple-surfaced with clean fruit, fine tannins, streaming acidity and an underlay of minerals and old oak. The persistent finish is complexed by a light astringency and bitterness, while leaf mould lingers. A little too dark and weighty to be a vin plaisir but sharing that genre’s qualities of being straightforward, accessible and delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)
Bierzo 2014, Vico, Raúl Pérez ($40.25, 12335035)
Also available as part of a recent Cellier operation for 25 cents less ($40.00, 13193761). 100% Mencia from dry- and organically farmed 80-year-old vines in Valtuille de Abajo. Soil is sandy with small river stones. Manually harvested. Fermented (30% whole clusters) and macerated for 60 days. Matured 11 months in third-fill, 300-litre French oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Complex nose of gingerbread, black pepper, “grape cola,” “Brio Chinato,” slate and balsam fir. Denser and more structured than the Ultreia but even more Burgundian in texture. The remarkably pure fruit is deepened by minerals, structured by fluent acidity and firm but round tannins. The finish is long and savoury. Young and a little monolithic though accessible with a few hours’ carafing. Would be interested in seeing how this tastes in ten or 15 years. A second bottle – opened (by mistake) and immediately recorked 26 hours beforehand – paired deliciously with braised lamb. (Buy again? Yes.)
Bierzo 2013, La Poulosa, La Vizcaina, Raúl Pérez ($54.25, 12332264)
Mencia (90%) and Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet, 10%) from dry- and organically farmed vines planted in 1940 and rooted in the clay and river stone soil of the two-hectare La Poulosa vineyard in Valtuille de Abajo. Fermented (80% whole clusters) in large oak vats. Total maceration time: 60 days. Matured 12 months in 225-litre used French oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Wood and leather then smoke, spice and plum then blackberry cordial. Medium- to full-bodied and beautifully structured. A wine with every dimension, including unplumbable depth. The alcohol is well integrated; indeed, the wine is quite fresh, with that balsam note appearing once again. Dark minerals last well into the long finish. Needs five or 10 years but has the potential and balance to convince you it will only improve with age. (Buy again? Yes.)
A flight that made less of an impact than I expected it would. I suspect that’s partly because the wines were young and partly because of what I call the Chianti effect: that, like many Chiantis, these are wines that show better in the dining room than in a tasting room. Before the tasting, the winemaker’s cult status had me worrying that the wines – especially the Poulosa and the second flight’s La del Vivo – would be Parkerized overachievers but they were anything but. They may be a little pricey but their quality is undeniable. Pérez is obviously someone to keep an eye on.
MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 6 of 6
MWG member Nick spent the holidays down under. While he didn’t make it to Clare Valley as originally planned, he did bring back a fascinating trio of new vintage, dry Clare Valley Rieslings, which he kindly shared with the group.
Clare Valley 2016, Riesling, Watervale, Gully View Vineyard, Koerner ($27.00, importation valise)
100% Riesling from 17-year-old vines rooted in the red clay and limestone soil of the Gullyview vineyard. Manually harvested in two passes a week apart. The first pass grapes were pressed immediately; the second pass grapes were given 24 hours of skin contact before pressing. In both cases, a small amount of sulphur was added to the press tray. The juice was cold-settled for about a week. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in ceramic eggs and stainless steel tanks lasted about three weeks. Matured five months on the fine lees. Bottled unfiltered and unfined but with a small squirt of sulphur dioxide. Vegan compatible. Screwcapped. 12% ABV.
Classic, open nose of white flowers, apple, lime, quartz, flint. A sleek textured mouthful of grapefruit and “apricot” that seems almost sweet upfront but proves quite dry. Chewing brings out the crisp acidity and plenty of minerals. Lime, green apple and spice notes and a lingering bitterness mark the finish. A delicious gush on opening, this had lost some of its oomph by the time we got around to it a hour or so later. (Buy again? At least another bottle for research purposes.)
Clare Valley 2016, Riesling, Watervale, Gullyview Vineyard, Adelina ($23.00, importation valise)
No, it’s not a typo; Koerner and Adelina do indeed spell the vineyard name differently. 100% Riesling from vines planted in 1977 and 2001 in red loamy clay over limestone. The grapes were manually harvested and whole cluster-pressed. The juice was cold-settled then fermented in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts. Fermentation was halted with around 5 g/l of sugar remaining. The wine was then clarified and bottled. Screwcapped. 11.5% ABV. Only about 2,400 bottles made.
Hazy and one of the least coloured wines I’ve seen. Complex nose of white gas, lemon-lime zest, “white lily,” minerals, rainwater and “ground cherry.” Light and fresh in the mouth, fruity yet dry, ethereal yet dimensional. Flavours tend to citrus, green apple and a chalky tutti-fruitiness one taster likens to “love hearts.” Turns savoury on the long, minerally finish. Full of energy and lots of fun. Excellent QPR. (Buy again? Yes.)
Clare Valley 2016, Riesling, Polish Hill, Grosset ($55.00, importaton valise)
The 36th vintage of this wine. 100% Riesling from organically farmed vines in the 8 ha Polish Hill vineyard. The soil is shallow shale and a thin crust of clay marl over slate. Yields are extremely low, giving the equivalent of two bottles per vine. The grapes were hand-picked. A small portion of whole clusters were set aside; the rest of the grapes were crushed and destemmed. The fruit was gently pressed and the free-run juice was chilled to near freezing and allowed to settle and clarify in a tank for five days. Low-temperature fermentation and maturation took place in stainless steel tanks. Blended just before bottling in July 2016. Vegan compatible. Screwcapped. 12.7% ABV. A few bottles of the excellent and more approachable 2012 ($50.00, 10956022) remain at the SAQ. Quebec agent (per the Grosset website): Elixirs.
Closed yet profound nose: lime, chalky quartz, eventually linden flower. Rich, racy, structured, deep and long. The fruit, minerals and acidity are in perfect taut balance. A bone-dry Riesling with every positive quality, including heft and presence. Needs time. Deserves a place alongside such giants as Ostertag’s Muenchberg and Nikolaihof’s Steiner Hund. (Buy again? Yes.)
As usual, the wines were served double-blind. While the grape variety was soon deduced, no one guessed the provenance and several tasters were astounded to learn that Australia is producing such engaging, fleet and minerally whites. In short, to quote one taster, “a revelatory flight.”
MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 3 of 6
Ribeiro 2014, Coto de Gomariz ($26.95, 13075554)
A blend of Treixadura (70%), Albariño (10%), Godello (10%) and Loureiro (10%) from biodyanmically and organically (non-certified) farmed vines grown in granite, schist and clay on slopes and terraces near the village of Gomariz. The grapes are hand-picked, destemmed, crushed and lightly pressed. The juice is cold-settled and fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures. Bottled from the tank on demand and always on a flower day. Vegan-compatible. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Promising nose dominated by white grapefruit along with apple, pear, pineapple and background herbs and stone. Smooth and suave in the mouth. Quite dry. Brisk acidity lightens the somewhat viscous texture. Marked by sweet fruit upfront but minerals and dried fruit on the long finish. A sensation – faintly biting, like pepper can be (though the flavour isn’t at play) – that I suspect results from a combination of acid, mineral bitterness and maybe stealth tannins lingers after the fruit has disappeared, adding intrigue. (Buy again? Sure.)
Rias Baixas 2015, Lagar de Cervera ($27.40, 13159272)
100% Albariño from estate vineyards in O Rosla and Cambados. The manually harvested grapes were destemmed and macerated on the skins for 10 hours, followed by gentle pressing at 10C in an inert-gas atmosphere to prevent oxidation. After settling and racking, the must was fermented at 15C. One quarter of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured on its fine lees with occasional stirring. Saw only stainless steel until bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Straightforward nose of grapefruit and quartz with faint white flower notes. In the mouth, the wine is middle-weighty, clean and as minerally as fruity. The smooth acidity barely ramps up the tension. A touch of bitterness on the fairly long finish adds welcome intrigue. Tasted twice – first at the store, then at the tasting – with consistent impressions, this well-made but somewhat listless wine was a disappointment, especially in view of the estate’s reputation and the glowing reviews the wine received in the media. Would likely show better alongside grilled fish. (Buy again? Meh.)
Bierzo 2013, La del Vivo, La Vizcaína, Raúl Pérez ($57.00, 12332045)
A relatively new project, La Vizcaína (“the Biscayan”) produces five wines – four reds and this white – using fruit from vineyards around cult winemaker Raúl Pérez’s hometown of Valtuille de Abajo. This is a blend of Doña Blanca (80%), Godello (10%) and Palomino (10%) from organically farmed vines, some planted as long ago as 1916. The manually harvested grapes are handled in two ways. Around 80% are pressed and racked into 500- and 700-litre French barrels for fermentation and maturation; they are left untouched for one year. The remainder are fermented on the skins in clay amphorae for one year, again untouched. The two parts are blended and the wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
The wine in our bottle was double-carafed about an hour before we tasted it. Gold bronze in the glass. Complex nose of straw, chalk, honey and a faintly acrid note that several tasters found off-putting, at least initially. Improved with time, developing scents of white spice, “sage,” “late corn field,” “yellow flowers” and “faint nuts.” A sip shows it to be rich, extracted, broad, just acidic enough, dry and not particularly fruity, and what fruit there is is candied. Wax, bitter, mineral and oxidative threads intertwine, most apparently on the long finish. Still, some tasters wanted nothing to do with it and “interesting” was about the best any of us could say. However, those of us who kept our glasses until the end of the tasting – four or five hours after the double-carafing – were amply rewarded, as the acridity had vanished and the wine had deepened, sweetened and become beautifully layered and coherent. Memorable. (Buy again? Yes.)
MWG February 17, 2017, tasting: flight 2 of 6
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
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
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