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It’s a white! It’s a red! It’s Brutal!!!

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Brutal!!! 2015, Partida Creus (ca. €10-15/$15-20 in Barcelona, importation valise)
Apparently, the wine is sin denominación, demoninationless. In any case, it’s a blend of several Catalonian grape varieties (probably Vinyater, Subirat Parent, Xarel·lo, Cartoixa Vermell and Blanc de Sumoll) from biodynamically farmed vines planted in clayey-calareous soil. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified separately and blended before bottling. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured seven months in stainless steel tanks. Unfiltered, unfined. No added sulphur. 11% ABV.

Cloudy pink to the eye. Spicy/funky nose of dough, distant sweet berries, “pink peppercorns” and an evanescing whiff of volatile acidity that one taster describes as “latex gloves.” A bit spritzy in the mouth. Lightly fruity and quite dry but tangy like “kambucha” and “hibiscus.” The tannins are light while the acidity is electric. So refreshing and drinkable and such energy! Like nothing else I’ve tasted yet also like an instant old friend. Wow. (Buy again? By the case.)

On the Raw Wine website, Partida Creus describes themselves thus: “We are winegrowers and winemakers in the Massis de Bonastre terroir of Catalunya, working with our own production of grapes and with rescued ancient vineyards with interesting native variety of grape. All the vines are organic farming, our organic and natural wines express the terroir with its variety typicity. We try to put in the bottles our deep respect and love for wild and Mediterranean landscape, nothing else. A tribute to nature and biodiversity, our work is a way of life making wine. Certified organic by CCPAE Consell catalá de la Producció Agraria Ecologica.”

Partida Creus is represented in Quebec by Vinealis. A Brutal inquiry to the agency’s prime mover, André Papineau, elicited the following reply: “Oui je bosse avec Partida Creus depuis presque 4 ans maintenant. Quantités confidentielles au départ et de bons volumes maintenant. Par contre le Brutal a longtemps été seulement disponible pour le Bar Brutal; il est un peu cher, se vendrait @ ± 36 $ la bouteille le carton de 6, alors j’hésite un peu. Par contre j’aurai beaucoup de différents vins en août : VN blanco et tinto, BN blanco, TN Tinto, et les grandes cuvées de Vinyater, Cartoixa Vermell, Xarel-lo. Toutes les bulles sont réservées pour le groupe Joe Beef…” [Yes, I’ve been working with Partida Creus for nearly four years. Tiny quantities at the start and good volumes now. However, the Brutal!!! was available only at the Bar Brutal [in Barcelona] for the longest time. It’s kind of expensive, going for around $36 a bottle, case of six, so I’m hesitant. On the other hand, I’ll have a bunch of other Partida Creus wines in August: VN blanco and rojo, BN (white), TN (red) and the top wines, made from Vinyater, Cartoixa Vermell and Xarel-lo. All the sparklers are reserved for the Joe Beef group…”]

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 4 of 7

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Salon VIP 2014: Weingut Wieninger

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Abutting Vienna (the city centre is clearly visible from some of the vineyards), Weingut Wieninger comprises 45 hectares on both sides of the Danube. On the outskirts of the city proper, between the houses and the forest (the Vienna Woods of story and song), are the Nussberg (also spelled Nußberg) vineyards, southerly exposed and gently sloping, where the soil consists of weathered, shell-rich limestone (25 to 65%), loam, clay and sand over solid limestone and where the breezes and temperature modifying effects of the river create near-ideal growing conditions. On the other bank are the Bisamberg vineyards, where the soil is light sandy loess over solid limestone.

The affable Fritz Wieninger was at the Vinealis stand, pouring five of his currently available wines. As a group they seemed more immediately accessible and food-friendly than some of their compatriots, less stern and austere and less demanding of cellar time – well-made wines you’d be happy to drink while sitting in the estate’s wine tavern (Heuriger) or digging into dinner at home.

Chardonnay Classic 2013, Weingut Wieninger ($26.65, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay from 15- to 30-year-old biodynamically farmed vines, nearly all of which are in the Bisamberg vineyards. Manually harvested and sorted. Gently destemmed. Macerated for about three hours, then pressed pneumatically. The must was transferred to stainless steel tanks (85%) and large neutral oak barrels (15%) for alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation was prevented in the tanks and allowed in the barrels; occasional lees-stirring took place in the tanks and barrels. After five months, the wines were blended and bottled. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Lemon with just a hint of yellow fruit. On the nose and in the mouth shows a steely, Riesling-like quality. Clean, crisp, minerally and dry. The farthest thing from blowsy, a fresh and tonic take on Chardonnay. (Buy again? At $22, it’d be killer. At $26.65, sure.)

Riesling 2013, Wiener Berge, Weingut Wieninger ($26.35, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from several converting-to-biodynamic Bisamberg vineyards (hail wiped out the usual Nussberg crop). Manually harvested. Manually and machine sorted. A short maceration was followed by pressing. The must was transferred to stainless steel tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Matured on the lees for a few months, then blended and bottled. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Clean and fresh. Bracing acidity lights up the lemon-lime and minerals. If you look for it, you can find a hint of residual sugar but the alcohol is nowhere apparent. Finishes dry and stony. Very drinkable. (Buy again? At $22, it’d be killer. At $26.35, sure.)

Grüner Veltliner 2013, Wiener Berge, Weingut Wieninger ($26.35, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Grüner Veltliner from biodynamically farmed vines, most of which are in the Bisamberg vineyards (a small proportion are in the Nussberg vineyards). Manually harvested. Mechanically sorted. A short maceration was followed by pressing. The must was clarified and transferred to stainless steel tanks for fermentation at low temperatures. Matured on the lees for a few months, then blended and bottled. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Grass, white pepper, quartz and a hint of lime. Shows some citrus on the palate but is more about minerals and crisp acidity. Ends clean and fresh. A classic, easy-drinking GV. (Buy again? Sure, tho’ another four bucks will get you the all singing, all dancing Nussberg.)

Grüner Veltliner 2013, Nussberg, Weingut Wieninger ($30.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Grüner Veltliner from vines in the Nussberg vineyards. Manually harvested and sorted. The grapes were lightly crushed, left to macerate on the skins a few hours and then pressed. The must was transferred to stainless steel tanks for fermentation at low temperatures. Matured on the lees for a month or two longer than the Wiener Berge cuvée, then blended and bottled. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Everything found in the Wiener Berge GV and then some. Still primary but already complex and dimensional. Powerful and intense but, unlike some high-end GVs, remarkably balanced and alluring in its youth. A wine it’d be fun to buy a case of and track the evolution over the next six years. (Buy again? Yes.)

Gemischter Satz 2012, Nussberg, Alte RebenWeingut Wieninger ($44.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Similar to what Deitz does in Alsace, this is a field blend of nine grape varieties – Weissburgunder, Neuburger, Welschriesling, Grüner Veltliner, Sylvaner, Zierfandler, Rotgipfler, Traminer and Riesling – from biodynamically farmed 50-year-old vines co-planted in Nussberg’s Ulm vineyard. Manually harvested and sorted. After three hours’ maceration, the grapes were pneumatically pressed. The must was transferred to stainless steel tanks for low-temperature fermentation and maturation on the fine lees. Bottled nearly one year after harvest. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Fragrant, complex nose: wisps of medicinal honey, flowers, citrus, yellow fruit and a subtle minerality. In the mouth, it’s hefty (but not heavy), layered, broad and dry. A stream of acidity keeps everything vibrant. A hint of bitterness colours the long finish. Not the dog’s breakfast I was fearing. On the contrary, an appealing, complex wine with a certain precision and tension. (Buy again? Yes.)

Next stop: Rézin.

Written by carswell

November 6, 2014 at 16:53

Le génie de la Loire

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In honour of Bastille Day (because these beauties could only have come from France), notes from a recent tasting of Loire wines chosen by Sam with a connoisseur’s eye. Most were private imports, a few were importations valise and, as far as I know, none are currently available in Quebec.

PRELUDE

Vouvray 2008, Brut, Méthode traditionnel, Philippe Foreau (Clos Naudin)
100% Chenin Blanc. 13% ABV. The 2011 can be found at the SAQ for $30.
Limpid gold. Tiny bubbles and not tons of them. Yellow fruit, lemon blossom and toast against a chalky background. Dry and minerally with a nipping acidity and effervescence. Long, toasted brioche finish. Impeccable.

FLIGHT 1

Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine 2010, Clisson, Domaine de la Pépière
100% Melon de Bourgogne. The estate is represented in Quebec by Vinealis.
Closed nose: faint lemon, pear and chalk. Dry, extracted and dimensional. Trenchant acidity. As much about minerals as fruit. Long, saline finish. Great presence. Austere bordering on severe but oh, so pure and beautiful. My wine of the flight.

Sancerre 2001, Clos de Beaujeu, Gérard Boulay
100% Sauvignon Blanc. 12.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Rézin.
Intriguing bouquet: overripe white peach, crystalline minerals and, as one taster noted, a suggestion of mushroom. Dry. Minerally more than fruity – faint citrus and gun smoke. A not off-putting acrid note surfaces on the long finish. Tasting double-blind, I didn’t peg this as either a Sauvignon Blanc or – due to its vibrancy and tension – a 12-year-old wine.

Saumur 2009, La Charpentrie, Domaine du Collier
100% old-vine Chenin Blanc. 13% ABV. Represented in Quebec by oenopole.
Rich nose: peach and some tropical fruit, honey, sour white flowers. Silky and rich with a touch of residual sugar. Brisk acidity provides welcome cut, faint herbs and chalky minerals welcome complexity. Immaculate, authentic and delicious though not particularly deep, at least at this point in its probably long life.

FLIGHT 2

Bourgueil 1993, Busardières, Domaine de la Chevalerie
100% biodynamically farmed Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by La QV.
Delicate but complex: ash, spice, ripe but not jammy boysenberry, humus and hummus, slate and stems. Smooth and supple with fully resolved, velvety tannins and bright acidity. Seemed a bit thin next to the Chinon. On its own, however, complete and surprisingly vibrant at 20 years of age.

Chinon 2005, Domaine Les Roches (Alain and Jérome Lenoir)
100% Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Glou. This bottle cost around $25.
Initially closed, the nose became more complex and perfumed over the course of the evening. Elderberry liqueur, floral overtones, a hint of meat, some old wood and the faintest note of bacon and new leather. Concentrated, even chewy, yet silky and not heavy. Layers of rich fruit and dark minerals structured by fine, firm tannins and energizing acidity. Long, lightly astringent finish. Superb. My wine of the flight and Cab Franc of the night.

Saumur-Champigny 2008, Clos Rougeard
100% Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV. Last I heard, the estate was represented in Quebec by Réserve & Sélection.
Darker, meatier with a hint of fresh tomato, background slate, sawed wood. Tighter than a drum: structured more than fruity and the élevage is showing. You can see that the wine is perfectly proportioned, that the fruit is pure, ripe and deep, that the use of the barrel is masterful. You can also see that the wine needs – at a minimum – another decade to open up. Tasted 24 hours later, the tail end of the bottle had hardly budged.

FLIGHT 3

Chinon 2009, Coteau de Noiré, Philippe Alliet
100% Cabernet Franc. 13% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Le Maître de Chai. The 2010 is sold at the SAQ Signature for $46.
Young, unresolved nose: choco-cherry, sawed wood, dill, ash. Smooth, dapper, restrained. Fine albeit tight tannins. The clean, ripe fruit – showing some tobacco but not a hint of greenness – is deepened by dark minerals and subtle wood. A delicate astringency velvets the long finish. Good potential. Revisit in five years.

Saumur 2009, La Charpentrie, Domaine du Collier
100% Cabernet Franc. 13% ABV. Represented in Quebec by oenopole.
Plummy (a sign of the hot vintage?) and slatey. Round, rich and balanced. The tannins and acidity are fruit-cloaked but there’s plenty of underlying structure. Lightly yet pervasively astringent. The élevage shows on the long finish. While its potential is obvious, this is another case of a bottle too young.

Chinon 2009, La Croix Boisée, Domaine Bernard Baudry
100% Cabernet Franc, aged in barrel, not filtered or fined. 13.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Balthazard.
So closed on the nose: wood, wet slate and not much else. Closed on the palate, too. Ripe, even liqueurish fruit, old wood, minerals. Sleek tannins. Rich, complete and in need of time, much time.

POSTLUDE

Vouvray moelleux 1986, Clos du Bourg, Domaine Huet
100% biodynamically farmed Chenin Blanc. 12% ABV. The 2007 runs $50.50 at the SAQ.
Amazing nose: dried pear, wax, straw, honey, turbinado sugar… Intense on the palate yet also elegant, reserved and nuanced. Neither dry nor sweet. Brilliant acidity. Chewing reveals all kinds of complexity. Spice, chalk, quartz, caramel, candied pineapple are only some of the flavours. A crème brûlée note lingers through the long finish. Astonishingly young and fresh. Wine of the tasting for most people around the table.

Côteaux du Loir 2009, Les Giroflées, Domaine Bellivière
A 100% biodynamically farmed Pineau d’Aunis rosé. 13.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Le Maître de Chai but I’m not sure they bring this wine in (our bottle was purchased at Flatiron Wines and Spirits in New York City).
Strawberry, wax, quartz on the nose. Smooth and quaffable. Off-dry. A basket of fresh berry fruit with just enough acidity and a touch of peppery spice. Simple but charming. Flavourwise, it made a fine pairing for pâte sucrée bars filled with a thin layer of pastry cream and topped with fresh raspberries and a rhubarb marshmallow, though in the best of all possible worlds the pastries would have been a little less sweet.