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Posts Tagged ‘Valle d’Aosta

Red devil

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Vallée d’Aoste 2015, Enfer d’Arvier, Danilo Thomain ($37.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located in a steep, south-facing ampitheatre in the Valle d’Aosta, the five-hectare Enfer d’Arvier subzone, which gained DOC status in 1971 but has since been incorporated into the valley-wide DOC, is named enfer (“hell” in French) due to the intensity of the light and summer heat and the aridity and hardness of the soil. The Thomain estate, which was founded in 1920 by Danilo’s grandfather, comprises one hectare and is the appellation’s only independent winemaker. Farming is not organic though use of chemicals is kept to a minimum. The wine-making is artisanal. Production averages around 5,000 bottles a year. This, the only wine made, is a blend of Petit Rouge (90%) with 10% Pinot Noir, Gamay and Gamaret from 35- to 40-year-old vines rooted in sandy glacial moraine. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in 1.5-ton fibreglass tanks and lasts around two weeks. The wine is then transferred to barrels for nine months for malolactic fermentation and maturation on the lees. Clarification is by settling; the wine is unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

The first bottle seems lightly corked, which is confirmed when we open a backup. Appealing, earthy nose of sour cherry and choke cherry with hints of green and tarragon/licorice. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, dry and oh, so pure. The intense berry fruit tastes more wild than cultivated. Structure comes in the form of smooth but lively acidity, wiry tannins and a mineral underlay. The finish is long and a faint bitterness lingers. Tasty and very drinkable. Had this been available for purchase, we would have taken a case or two. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 7 of 9

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Written by carswell

December 2, 2017 at 13:44

MWG June 20th tasting (5/8): Valle d’Aosta v. Vallée de l’Isère

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Valle d’Aosta 2011, Torrette, Les Crêtes ($21.30, 11951987)
Petit Rouge (70%) with Mayolet, Tinturier and Cornalin making up the remaining 30%; the estate is converting to organic farming. Manually harvested. Fermented at 28ºC in stainless steel tanks for eight days. Matured in stainless steel barrels for eight months. 13.5% ABV.
Cherry, old wood, obsidian dust, faint flowers (violets?) and a whiff of cheese. Medium-bodied but dense with ripe fruit that’s lifted by grippy acidity and firmed by soft tannins. Earth and animal notes lend the finish a rustic edge. Easy to like and a favourite of several around the table. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de Savoie 2011, Arbin, Mondeuse, Domaine Louis Magnin ($27.50, 10783272)
100% Mondeuse from vines averaging 35 years old and grown in various parcels in Arbin commune. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermented eight days in stainless steel tanks with once-daily pump-overs. Matured 12 months in stainelss steel tanks on the fine lees. 12.5%  ABV.
Initial tomato-meat sauce eventually turns more to red berries, cassis, stones and pepper. Smooth and supple on the palate with fleshy fruit, bright acidity and round tannins (and not a lot of ’em). Cherry pits on the finish. Not much depth but considerable juicy appeal. (Buy again? While it’s a little pricey, sure.)

Written by carswell

June 29, 2013 at 15:34

Torrette syndrome

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(Pardon the pun. I made it so Nick won’t have to.)

The next Prince Edward County post won’t be up for another day or two. In the meantime, here’s a note on an obscurity.

Vallée d’Aosta 2010, Torrette, Grosjean Frères ($25.55, 11660645)
The Aosta Valley is the narrow alpine corridor that connects northwest Italy to France over the St. Bernard pass and, these days, through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Torrette is one of several areas within the larger, but still small, Valle d’Aosta DOC. Torrette wines must be at least 70% Petit Rouge but may also contain Gamay, Dolcetto, Pinot Noir and/or any of several local red grape varieties. At a minimum, Torrette must reach 11% ABV and be aged six months (12% ABV and eight months in oak for Torrette Superiore). Grosjean’s version is 80% Petit Rouge and 20% Vien de Nus, Fumin and Cornalin, all from vines planted between 1975 and 1995. The grapes were destemmed, then macerated on their skins for seven or eight days, with pumping over three times a day. Maturation took place in stainless steel vats. This is stoppered with a plastic cork and clocks in at 12.5% ABV.
Odd nose: dried cherries, leaf mould and earth until you swirl, then dried blood and a hint of vinegary fish sauce. Medium bodied and dry. Not very tannic, though the understated fruit does nothing to hide the fine tannins, meaning there’s an astringent undertow that lingers long.  Light, supple, sweet cherry quickly fades to a tart, faintly bitter finish with leaf tea and dried wood notes.

Pricey for what it delivers today. Torrettes are said to improve with up to ten years of cellaring, but you wouldn’t want to test that claim when the closure is a syncork.

This goes well with charcuterie, including lightly smoked meats. The winemaker also recommends it as a pairing for Valdostan “soups,”*  a role I can see it playing supremely well.

_____

*For example: In a baking dish, alternate layers of sliced, butter-toasted country or black bread, Savoy cabbage braised with onion, and slices of fontina cheese. Ladle meat broth over. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a little nutmeg, if you like. Bake in a medium oven until the cheese melts.

Written by carswell

July 19, 2012 at 15:21

October 21st MWG tasting: report

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Notes from one of the most enjoyable Mo’ Wine Group tastings in recent memory. All wines except two are available at the SAQ; the exceptions are private imports that can be ordered from the linked-to agents. Prices are in Canadian dollars and include sales taxes.

FLIGHT 1: FOUR $25 CHARDONNAYS

Chablis 2009, Terroirs de Chablis, Patrick Piuze ($24.65, 11180334)
Made on a négociant basis using native yeasts by 30-something Patrick Piuze, who hails from St-Lambert. Textbook Chablis nose: gunflint, oats, hints of butter and lemon zest. Mild on entry but fast gaining intensity. Pure and minerally, crystalline even. Long, biting finish. Mouth-watering: as fine a Chablis as you’ll find at the price. (Buy again? Impérativement.)

Montello e Colli Asolani 2007, Chardonnay, Villa di Maser ($24.95, 6 bottles/case, Sublime Vins & Spiritueux)
Gold-hued, in contrast to the silver of the other wines in the flight. Smelling a little candied and oxidized: browning yellow apple with pineapple hints. Rounder and denser than the other wines, though nicely balanced. Mild flavoured: straw and minerals more than fruit. Vaporous finish. Seemed to retreat into its shell with exposure to air. Different from – less angular and stony than – the bottle tasted two days earlier, but equally intriguing. (Buy again? Sure, another bottle or two.)

Rully 2008, Les Saint-Jacques, A. & P. de Villaine ($26.60, 10339041)
Introverted, elusive nose: chalk, white flowers and a hint of lanolin. Rich and flavourful (green apple and minerals) with an acidic undertow. Limestoney finish. Impeccable though a little more personality wouldn’t be unwelcome. (Buy again? Maybe but not while the Terroirs de Chablis and Les Clous are available.)

Bourgogne 2008, Les Clous, A. & P. de Villaine ($24.35, 00872168)
Lemon zest and chalk. Medium-bodied, the components better integrated than the Rully’s. Flavours more minerally than fruity, the long, bitter-edged finish more felt than tasted. A lovely, appetizing wine that several of us preferred to the Rully. (Buy again? Sure.)

FLIGHT 2: TWO GAUBY WHITES

VDP des Côtes Catalanes 2004, Le Soula (Gérard Gauby et associés) ($50.75, 10933365)
35% Grenache Blanc and Gris, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Marsanne, Roussane, Macabeu and Chenin, all organically farmed. Native yeasts. Bronze cast to the eye. Wonderfully complex nose: caramelized pear, rocks, herbs, dried pineapple, ash, nutmeg. Smooth, rich and round but with an acid undercurrent. Considerable depth and great length. Probably at its peak or maybe even just past it. The MWG member who took the tail-end of the bottle home with him reports that the wine was still singing 24 hours later. Only a few bottles left in the system. (Buy again? If the budget allows.)

VDP des Côtes Catalanes 2007, Vieilles vignes, Domaine Gauby ($49.50, 11225184)
40% Macabeu, 30% Grenache Blanc, 15% Chardonnay, 10% Grenache Gris and 5% Carignan Blanc. Native yeasts. Lighter and more golden. Complex but hard-to-pin-down nose that evolved all evening: mineral oil, garrigue, ash, resin, white fruit, acacia blossom, maybe even some caramel…  Rich, almost viscous texture kept from heaviness by an acidic backbone and austere minerality. Broad, deep and layered, turning quartzy on the persistent finish. A superb bottle that, with Rouge Gorge’s Macabéo, shares the honour of being the best Languedoc-Roussillon white I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Will make the budget allow.)

FLIGHT 3: THREE MONDEUSES AND A CLUNKER RINGER

Vin de Savoie 2007, Mondeuse Arbin, Domaine Louis Magnin ($24.20, 10783272)
Black cherry, stones, hint of barnyard. Clean, lean and polished. Sour cherry fruit with a sweet core, fine tannins, bright acidity and a long finish. Wonderfully pure and fresh, as befits its alpine origins. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Vin de Savoie 2007, Mondeuse, Domaine des Rocailles ($14.95, 11194357)
Ash, cherry jam, humus and a whiff of caramel. Light-bodied. Flavours as minerally as fruity. Light, raspy tannins, tickly acid. Bit of astringency on the finish. Could use more oomph but still a good buy at $15, more interesting than many Beaujolais costing several dollars more. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de Savoie 2007, Mondeuse, Le Pied de la Barme, Domaine Saint-Germain ($21.85, 10884735)
Fruity, sappy nose with spice and floral notes, not unlike a Beaujolais but with a blood note. A fluid, tasty mouthful of cherry fruit and minerals. A tad funkier than the Magnin. Lively acidity, fine tannins and a long finish. Savoury and elegant. (Buy again? Sure.)

Valle d’Aosta 2007, Mille Pendii, Chambave, Podere Castorani ($25.25, 10780418)
100% Petit Rouge, a variety that Hugh Johnson claims “tastes suspiciously like Mondeuse.” Spice, raspberry and oak with hints of plastic and old sweat. Over-concentrated and tarted up with oak (caramel, vanilla, chocolate). Velvety instead of silky, leaden instead of sprightly, gummy instead of pure. Finish lasts long, far too long. What by any rights should be a light-bodied easy drinker is here a juiced-up wannabe super wine. All flash and no substance. (Buy again? Ha!)

FLIGHT 4: AN ELEGANT SYRAH WITH A QUEBEC CONNECTION

Coteaux du Languedoc 2006, Cuvée Prestige 5 921 km, Terrenum ($38.00, 6 bottles/case, Réserve et Sélection)
100% Syrah from low-yielding old vines in Montpeyroux. Spent nine months in new French oak barrels. Total production: 960 bottles. Made on a négociant basis by Montrealer Simon Thibaudeau. Beautiful, complex bouquet: leather, black and red berries, animale and garrigue, gaining a mineral earthiness and hints of iodine and blood with exposure to air. Smooth and plush on the palate but with a solid tannic frame. More medium- than full-bodied. Fluid, fresh and finely flavoured. The oak is an element, not overpowering; indeed, all the elements are in balance. Long finish. Delicious if a little introverted for now, not peaking for another three or four years and probably able to age another five or maybe even ten years beyond that. (Buy again? Yes.)

FLIGHT 5: THREE TELEGRAPHIC REDS

Gigondas 2007, Les Racines, Domaine Les Pallières ($35.25, 11288409)
80% Grenache Noir, 15% co-planted Syrah and Cinsault, 5% Clairette. Spent ten months in vats, 7-9 months in foudres. Since 1998, the domaine has been owned by Berkeley-based wine merchant Kermit Lynch and the Bruniers, who also own Vieux Télégraphe and who look after the wine-making here. Cookie dough, plum and spice; gains marzipan notes as it breathes. Mouth-filling sweet and savoury fruit. Silky texture despite a tannic underpinning. A bit hot (15.4% ABV) on the long finish, which, as one taster pointed out, has something Banyuls or Maury about it. The MWG member who took the tail-end home with him reports that the wine had fallen apart the next day. (Buy again? Probably not.)

Gigondas 2007, Terrasse du Diable, Domaine Les Pallières ($35.00, 00725937)
90% Grenache Noir, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Clairette. Spent ten months in vats, 12 months in foudres. Complex and evolving nose: tarry plums, garrigue, baked earth and wood. Supple, smooth and fruity on entry but giving way to a rich mid-palate marked by coursing acid and firm tannins that last through the long, kirsch- and herb-scented finish. Big but balanced. (Buy again? Sure, though 15.2% ABV does give one pause.)

Châteauneuf du Pape 2007, La Crau, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe ($75.25, 11268897)
65% Grenache Noir, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 5% Clairette and others. Spent ten months in vats, 12 months in foudres. Beautiful nose: heady, brooding with scents of terra cotta, kirsch, crushed rocks, dark fruit, black olives, sweet spice. An elegant mouthful of similar flavours, rich and full-bodied yet not heavy, structured by ripe, round tannins, balanced by acidity. Sweet and savoury intertwine on the seemingly endless finish. Surprisingly accessible for so young a Vieux Télégraphe but also capable of aging for at least a couple of decades. (Buy again? Santa, be good to me!)

Chablis 2009, Terroirs de Chablis, Patrick Piuze ($24.65, 11180334)

Textbook Chablis nose: gunflint, oats, hints of butter and lemon zest. Mild on entry but fast gaining intensity. Pure and minerally, even crystalline. Long, biting finish. Mouth-watering: as good a Chablis as you can get at the price. (Buy again? Mais oui.)

Montello e Colli Asolani 2007, Chardonnay, Villa di Maser ($24.95, Sublime Vins & Spiritueux)

Gold-hued, in contrast to the silver of the other wines in the flight. Smelling a little candied and oxidized: browning yellow apple with pineapple hints. Rounder and denser than the other wines, though nicely balanced. Mild flavoured: straw and minerals more than fruit. Vaporous finish. Seemed to retreat into its shell with exposure to air. Different from – less angular and stony than – the bottle tasted two days’ earlier, but equally intriguing. (Buy again? Yeah, another bottle.)

Rully 2008, Les St-Jacques, A. & P. de Villaine ($26.60, 10339041)

Introverted, elusive: chalk, white flowers and a hint of lanolin. Rich and flavourful (green apple and minerals) with an acidic undertow. Limestoney finish. Impeccable though a little more personality wouldn’t be unwelcome. (Buy again? Not while the Terroirs de Chablis and Les Clous are available.)

Bourgogne 2008, Les Clous, A. & P. de Villaine ($24.35, 00872168)

Lemon zest and chalk. Medium-bodied, the components better integrated than the Rully’s. Flavours more minerally than fruity, the long, bitter-edged finish more felt than tasted. A lovely, appetizing wine that several of us preferred to the Rully. (Buy again? Sure.)

VDP des Côtes Catalanes 2004, Le Soula (Gérard Gauby et associés) ($50.75, 10933365)

Bronze cast to the eye. Extremely complex nose: caramelized pear, rocks, herbs, dried pineapple, ash, nutmeg. Smooth, rich and round but with an acid undercurrent. Considerable depth and great length. Probably at its peak or maybe even just past it. The MWG member who took the tail-end of the bottle home with him reports that the wine was still singing 24 hours later. (Buy again? If the budget allows.)

VDP des Côtes Catalanes 2007, Vieilles vignes, Domaine Gauby ($49.50, 11225184)

Lighter and more golden. Complex but hard-to-pin-down nose that evolved all evening: mineral oil, garrigue, ash, resin, white fruit, acacia blossom, maybe even some caramel…  Rich texture kept fresh by animating acidity. Great breadth and depth. Layers of flavour. Long, increasingly quartzy finish. A superb bottle that shares with the Rouge Gorge Macabéo the honour of being the best Midi whites I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Will make the budget allow.)

Vin de Savoie 2007, Mondeuse Arbin, Domaine Louis Magnin ($24.20, 10783272)

Black cherry, stones, hint of barnyard. Clean, lean and polished. Black cherry with a sweet core, fine tannins, bright acidity and long finish. Wonderfully pure and fresh, as befits its alpine origins. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Vin de Savoie 2007, Mondeuse, Domaine des Rocailles ($14.95, 11194357)

Ash, cherry jam, humus and a whiff of caramel. Light-bodied. Flavours as minerally as fruity. Light but raspy tannins, tickly acid. Bit of astringency on the finish. Could use more oomph but still a good buy at $15, more interesting than many Beaujolais costing several dollars more. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de Savoie 2007, Mondeuse, Le Pied de la Barme, Domaine Saint-Germain ($21.85, 10884735)

Fruity, sappy nose with spice and floral notes, not unlike a Beaujolais but with a blood note. A fluid, tasty mouthful of cherry fruit and minerals. A little funkier than the Magnin. Animating acidity, fine tannins and a long finish. Savoury and elegant. (Buy again? Sure.)

Valle d’Aoste 2007, Mille Pendii, Chambave, Podere Castorani ($25.25, 10780418)

Spice, raspberry and oak with hints of plastic and old sweat. Over-concentrated and heavily tarted up with oak (caramel, vanilla, chocolate). Velvety instead of silky, leaden instead of lively, gummy instead of pure. Finish lasts long, far too long. What by any rights should be a light-bodied easy drinker is here juiced up into a wannabe super wine. All flash and no substance. (Buy again? Ha!)

Coteaux du Languedoc 2006, Cuvée Prestige 5 921 km, Terrenum ($38.00, Réserve et Sélecton)

100% Syrah from low-yielding old vines in Montpeyroux. Spends nine months in new French oak barrels. Made on a négociant basis by Montrealer Simon Thibaudeau. Beautiful, complex nose: leather, black and red berries, animale and garrigue. Gains a mineral earthiness and hints of iodine and blood as it breathes. Smooth and plush on the palate but with a solid tannic frame, more medium- than full-bodied. Fluid, fresh and finely flavoured. The oak is an element, not overpowering; indeed, all the elements are in balance. Long finish. Delicious if a little introverted now, not peaking for another three or four years and probably able to age another five or maybe even ten years beyond that. (Buy again? Yes.)

Gigondas 2007, Les Racines, Domaine Les Pallières ($35.25, 11288409)

80% Grenache Noir, 15% co-planted Syrah and Cinsault, 5% Clairette. Spends ten months in vats, 7–9 months in foudres. Cookie dough, plum and spice; gains marzipan notes as it breathes. Mouth-filling sweet and savoury fruit. Silky texture despite a tannic underpinning. A bit hot (15.4% ABV) on a long finish that, as one taster pointed out, has something of a Banyuls or Maury about it. The MWG member who took the tail-end home with him reports that the wine had fallen apart the next day. (Buy again? Probably not.)

Gigondas 2007, Terrasse du Diable, Domaine Les Pallières ($35.00, 00725937)

90% Grenache Noir, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Clairette. Spends ten months in vats, 12 months in foudres. Complex and evolving nose: tarry plums, garrigue, baked earth and wood. Supple, smooth and fruity on entry but giving way to a rich mid-palate marked by coursing acid and firm tannins that last through the long, kirsch- and herb-scented finish. Big but balanced. (Buy again? Sure, though 15.2% ABV does give one pause.)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007, La Crau, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe ($75.25, 11268897)

65% Grenache Noir, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 5% Clairette and others. Spends ten months in vats, 12 months in foudres. Beautiful nose: heady, brooding with scents of terra cotta, kirsch, crushed rocks, dark fruit, black olives, sweet spice. An elegant mouthful of similar flavours, rich and full-bodied yet not heavy, structured by ripe, round tannins, balanced by acidity. Sweet and savoury intertwine on the seemingly endless finish. Surprisingly accessible for so young a Vieux Télégraphe but also capable of aging for at least a couple of decades. (Buy again? Santa, be good to me!)

Written by carswell

October 29, 2010 at 20:28