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Posts Tagged ‘Veneto

Soave sia il Veneto…

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Veneto 2015, Masieri, Bianco, La Biancara ($22.20, 12846741)
Founded in 1999, Angeiolino Maule’s nine-hectare estate is located in Gambellara in the foothills of the Soave region. The estate-grown Garganega and Trebbiano grapes in this 80-20 blend come from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in volcanic soil. Manually harvested. Direct pressed. Vinified in stainless steel in small batches. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. No additives except a tiny amount of sulphur at bottling. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Labelle Bouteille.
Hazy straw yellow to the eye. Discreet, fresh nose: quartz, sand, distant white fruit and the faintest hint of asafoetida. Leaner than your typical Soave: less pear, more lemon along with some green apple and a touch of lees. Smooth, transparently integrated acidity. Lots of chalky minerals and a faint almond overtone from the mid-palate on, joined by hints of watermelon fruit, rind and seeds on the bitter-tinged finish. A subtle, nuanced wine – a pleasure to spend time with – and a QPR winner. This bottle was singing from the get-go but others have needed several minutes of breathing to find their voice, so carafing is advisable. (Buy again? Definitely.)

(Musical accompaniment and origin of the title’s pun: Così fan tutte: “Soave sia il vento” – Mozart.)

Written by carswell

September 4, 2017 at 12:14

Natural born swillers

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Colli Trevigiani 2015, Rosso, Costadilà ($23.75, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Located in Valdobbiandene in the Veneto, Costadilà is best known as a producer of Prosecco. The small estate practices organic polycultural farming, uses only indigenous yeasts and never filters or adds sulphur. This is a blend of Refosco and Merlot. 10.5% ABV (!). Quebec agent: Glou.
Morello cherry, gingerbread, a hint of animale and notes described as “asparagus” and “old leather-bound photo albums.” Medium-bodied, fluid and fresh, full of ripe if tart fruit, brilliant acidity and supple tannins. Finishes long with a faint terminal rasp. Seems tailor-made for salume and stuffed pasta in red sauce. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Umbria 2015, Il Rossodatavola, Collecapretta ($36.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Cantina Collecapretta is located about 20 km north-northwest of Spoleto. Of the estate’s eight hectares, only four are given over to vines, the remainder being planted with olive trees, farro and other ancient grains. In a good year, the wine production totals 8,000 bottles. Farming is organic. The grapes are manually harvested and fermented in open-top cement vats with no temperature control. The wines are matured in glass-lined cement vats and resin tanks before being bottled unfiltered and in accordance with the lunar cycle. No sulphur is added at any point in the process. This red table wine is mostly Sangiovese, maybe with a little Barbera, Merlot, Sagrantino and/or Ciliegiolo. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Initially reduced nose of barnyard and seaweed segues into red fruit, red meat and sandalwood. Medium- to full-bodied. Spicy cherry hard candies and a touch of green. Extract, bright acidity and medium tannins are well balanced. A bit bitey on the long finish. Intense, authentic and appealingly rustic. (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

May 31, 2017 at 12:14

Classico in both senses of the word

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Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009, Vaio Armaron, Serego Alighieri ($89.00, 11766626)
Now owned by Masi, the Serego Alighieri estate was founded in 1353 by Dante’s son Pietro. Wine-making officially began in the 1500s. The Vaio Amaron is its flagship bottling. The 2009 is a blend of Corvina (65%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (15%) from vines in the commune of Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella. The soil in the terraced vineyards is red, humus-rich topsoil over limestone. The Corvina was lightly affected by botrytis. The manually harvested grapes were placed on bamboo mats in open-air lofts and allowed to dry for three to four months, during which time they lost more than a third of their weight. This concentrated their flavour and sugar. The partially raisinated grapes were gently pressed, partly destemmed and fermented at low temperatures for 48 days in large Slavonian oak barrels. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was matured in cherry wood casks. Reducing sugar: 7.9 g/l. 15.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Authentic Vins et Spirituex.

Impressively complex nose of plum, prune, black cherry, spice, pepper, sandalwood and more. Rich and velvety in the mouth, powerful yet beautifully balanced, with soft, structuring tannins and a sleek current of acidity. Comes across as dry despite the sugar level and sweet-seeming fruit. Spice overtones the mid-palate and long finish. A complete and involving wine that, while enjoyable now, is still young and a little monolithic. Another decade in the cellar will bring more evident depth and complexity. An excellent match with Parmigiano-Reggiano. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG April 6th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

May 12, 2017 at 13:10

A Crémant de la Loire and a Prosecco

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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

Written by carswell

January 19, 2017 at 15:15

Bottiglia di Custoza

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Bianco di Custoza 2015, Albino Piona ($19.50, 12469383)
A blend of Garganega (30%), Tocai (aka Sauvignonasse and Sauvignon Vert, 25%), Trebbiano (25%) and Cortese (20%). The varieties are vinified separately. Destemmed, chilled, given a short maceration on the skins, then gently pressed. The must is allowed to clarify by settling, then fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. Maturation on the lees also takes place in tanks. Syncorked. Reducing sugar: 4.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Les vins Dupré.
Given the varieties involved, surprisingly aromatic: white grapes, lemon, yellow apple, a suggestion of peach, lots of chalk dust and a whiff of clean sweat. Smooth and elegant in the mouth. Round and fruity but dry, with soft-glow acidity. Minerals run throughout and swell on the finish, where they are joined by a saline note and a faint Szechuan peppery numbingness. Nothing complex but a pleasure to drink and the kind of white that only Italy can make. Fine as an aperitif and the best wine yet with a tricky pairing: blanched, chopped rapini sautéed in olive oil with garlic, anchovy and chile, with small scallops added for just a few seconds at the end. (Buy again? Yep.)

The heavy bottle, which weighs about twice as much as a lightweight glass bottle, is an unecological and, for case lifters, unergonomic anachronism that should be ditched. It doesn’t lend the product prestige; on the contrary, it subtracts from it.

And, yes, the post’s title is a pun.

Written by carswell

August 5, 2016 at 12:10

Zýmè vs. Quintarelli

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Before founding Zýmè in 1999, winemaker Celestino Gaspari worked with Giuseppe Quintarelli for many years, eventually becoming his son-in-law.

Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2011, Zýmè ($39.50, 11587151)
Typically 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta from vines rooted in limestone and clay. The grapes are manually harvested and immediately pressed. Initial alcoholic fermentation takes place in non-temperature-controlled vats. In January, the wine is racked onto the lees of the estate’s Amarone (the process is called ripasso in Italian). A second alcoholic fermentation lasting about two weeks then takes place. The fermented wine is racked into large Slavonian oak barrels and matured for around three years followed by another six months in the bottle. Residual sugar: 6 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: L’Enoteca.
Complex nose of red fruit (especially cherry), smoky minerals, dried mint, “praline,” “candied orange,” sandalwood and cocoa. Medium-bodied but heady and thewy: a balanced mouthful of rich fruit, fluent acidity and tannins that tasters described as “wiry” and “fibrous.” Darker undercurrents add depth, while the initially astringent weave unravels beguilingly on the long, spicy finish. Delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2007, Giuseppe Quintarelli ($90.25, 12332782)
Typically 55% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Croatina and Sangiovese from uncertified but organically farmed vines averaging 30 years old and rooted in limestone and basalt. The grapes are manually harvested and immediately pressed. After three to four days’ maceration, primary alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place. In February, the wine is racked onto the lees from the estate’s Amarone. A second alcoholic fermentation then takes place. When fermentation is complete, the wine is racked into large Slavonian oak barrels and matured for seven years. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: L’Enoteca.
Inexhaustible bouquet of morello cherry, plum, chocolate-covered raisins and espresso beans, “piri piri chicken,” smoke from burning leaves, spices and more. So complex and complete: broad, deep and long. The beautiful fruit – sweet but not too – is structured by fine, velvety tannins and fresh acidity, underscored by minerals and earth, heightened by spice and kirsch (amazingly, the alcohol is otherwise unapparent). The finish is an endless caress. A great vintage of this wine that, as so often, is in a class by itself. (Buy again? For a special occasion and during a 10% off sale, yes.)

MWG February 11th tasting: flight 6 of 6

Written by carswell

March 9, 2016 at 14:31

Two weighty whites

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Soave Classico 2012, La Froscà, Gini ($26.80, 12132107)
Organically farmed Garganega from 57-year-old vines. The manually harvested grapes are soft-pressed and the must is cold-macerated on the skins. Temperature-controlled alcoholic fermentation is in a mix of stainless steel and neutral French oak casks. Does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for at least eight months, partly in stainless steel tanks, partly in 228-litre “seasoned” oak barrels. Sulphur is added only at bottling. Reducing sugar: 3.4 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Peach, lemon, quince, honey and fresh-cut hay make for a fairly appealing nose. In the mouth, however, it’s a different story. Viscous, extracted, dry, alcoholic and bitter on the finish. The relatively low acidity and lack of prominent minerals mean the wine tastes flat. Very different from the wine sampled a couple of months earlier. Even a Bambara employee who was present didn’t recognize it. Probably an off bottle, then. (Buy again? Based on this bottle, no. Based on the earlier bottle, absolutely. You pays your money and you takes your chances…)

Robola de Céphalonie 2014, Vino di Sasso, Domaine Sclavos ($25.20, 12485877)
First time at the SAQ. 100% Robola from organically farmed, ungrafted old vines grown on the Ionian island of Cephalonia. Vino di sasso means “wine of stone,” a reference to the island’s rocky cliffs and outcrops. The manually harvested grapes are directly pressed. The must is fermented at low temperatures with indigenous yeasts and matured eight months on the lees. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with only a tiny squirt of sulphur dioxide. Reducing sugar: 3.9 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Wafting nose of quartz, seashells, lemon and fresh sweat with faint background herbs. Medium-bodied yet possessed of a certain fruity heft, though by no means an exuberantly fruity wine. A rich vein of minerals runs throughout and lends a salty tang to the long, bitter-edged finish. Tasty enough, especially at table alongside a sea bass, but maybe lacking the last bit of éclat found in the 2013. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG November 12th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

December 1, 2015 at 14:34

Cause for regret

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Bardolino Classico 2014, Tacchetto, Guerrieri Rizzardi ($19.50, 12132465)
Corvina (80%), Merlot (10%) and Rondinella (10%) from vines averaging five to 42 years old and grown in the dry-farmed Tachetto vineyard. The grapes are picked by machine and hand and destemmed. Fermentation at 25-30°C with selected yeasts lasts 10 to 15 days. Matured three to six months off the lees. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Filtered. Reducing sugar: 3.8 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Lilting nose of funky cherry, fall leaves and sandalwood spice. In the mouth, it’s a featherweight, a caress of faintly sweet-and-sour fruit, fluid acidity and gossamer tannins that lend an ephemeral astringency to the finish. A light wash of mineral and wood flavours adds interest but not enough to stop you from thinking there’s not much there there. Serve lightly chilled. (Buy again? Probably not but… see below.)

While I didn’t taste them side by side, this 2014 initially seemed paler, sweeter and less alluring than the 2013, which I rather liked (“dry, tart, supple tannins, clean finish, moreish” per my May 2015 note). After Sunday dinner, I transferred the remaining wine into a half bottle (filling it right up), corked the bottle and stuck it in the fridge overnight. And lo, the wine was better the next day – slightly rounder and more vibrant, with the morello cherry to the fore – maybe even better enough to convince me to buy a second bottle.

And yet, as enjoyable as this and similar wines can be, I increasingly find drinking them a cause for regret – regret at what might have been. That point was driven home by a bottle of Ca’ de Noci‘s Sottobosco, a “natural” Lambrusco in everything but name, savoured the evening before I opened the Rizzardi. Though similar in weight and application, the Sottobosco delivered energy, refreshment, personality, engagement, charm and satisfaction that made the Bardolino pale in comparison. Imagine what the Tacchetto could be if the vineyard was farmed organically, if the yields were less than 85 hl/ha, if the grapes were picked only by hand, if native yeasts were used for fermentation, if intervention in the cellar was minimized, if the wine was bottled unfiltered and unsulphured. Unfortunately, at this point, imagine is all we can do.

Written by carswell

November 27, 2015 at 13:27

A fascinating Soave

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Soave Classico 2012, La Froscà, Gini ($26.80, 12132107)
Organically farmed Garganega from 57-year-old vines. The manually harvested grapes are soft-pressed and the must is cold-macerated on the skins. Temperature-controlled alcoholic fermentation is in a mix of stainless steel and neutral French oak casks. Does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees for at least eight months, partly in stainless steel tanks, partly in 228-litre “seasoned” oak barrels. Sulphur is added only at bottling. Reducing sugar: 3.4 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bambara Selection.
Beautiful, fragrant nose: pear and a little peach, loads of chalky minerals, hints of spring honey, white flowers and almonds. In the mouth, the wine is as much about minerals as fruit – in fact, there’s a real tension between them. Intertwining threads of honey and bitterness add intrigue, while a fine acidity animates a density that might otherwise border on lethargic. The long kaleidoscopic finish is marked by saline notes and a faint Szechuan pepper-like numbingness. Fascinating. The most savoury Soave I’ve ever tasted. Unless you’re a wine geek, probably best thought of as a food wine (recipe after the jump), which role it will play stupendously. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

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Written by carswell

August 30, 2015 at 16:33

Get ’em while you’re hot

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Will be posting notes on the COS wines soon. In the meantime, a heads-up on a couple of newly arrived, perfect summer wines that also happen to be in short supply. Interested? Act fast.

Niederösterreich 2014, Grüner Veltliner, Am Berg, Weingut Bernhard Ott ($20.85, 12646520)
(Not currently listed on Reportedly part of an experiment involving a few wines stocked in fairly large quantities exclusively at the Atwater SAQ Sélection store, where you’ll find it in front of the organic wine section.) Am Berg translates as hillside. Ott’s wines are usually organic and biodynamic but this, a cuvée made from grapes grown in the estate’s and nearby vineyards, may be neither. In any case it’s 100% Grüner Veltliner from vines averaging 25 years old. Manually harvested and whole-cluster pressed. Fermented (with selected yeasts) and matured, on its lees, in stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Residual sugar (according to the estate): 1.6 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Avant-Garde.
Textbook nose: lime, green apple, lemon grass, chalk and white pepper. In the piehole, it’s fresh and fruity from the get-go. Clean and bracing with acidity so crisp it feels almost like spritz. Minerals galore, especially on the tangy finish, whose overtones of salt marsh grass linger long. A beguiling GV at a great price. Fine on its own as an aperitif, very enjoyable with a salad of cucumbers, red onion, fresh dill, lemon juice and crème fraîche. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

Valpolicella 2013, Borgomarcellise, Marion ($20.00, 12328311)
Corvina (60%) and Rondinella (40%) according to the SAQ (while Corvina-dominated, earlier vintages have involved four or five varieties, so you might want to take this info with a grain of salt). Reportedly from young vines. The only winemaking info I’ve been able to find is that this is the estate’s only wine that doesn’t incorporate raisinated grapes. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: L’Enoteca di Moreno De Marchi.
Pale ruby in the glass. Wafting nose of fresh cherry, red Twizzlers, dried earth, dried herbs and sandalwood. Light and bright on the palate, an alluring combination of gossamer fruit, juicy acidity and slender tannins. The sweet-tart cherry dries as it moves through the mouth, while minerals and a faint astringency inflect the lip-smacking finish. Serve lightly chilled. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

July 31, 2015 at 14:48