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Posts Tagged ‘White wine

Bonhomme seul

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A former apprentice at Clos du Tue-Bœuf, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme ran a négociant business with his friend, Tue-Bœuf’s Thierry Puzzelat. In 2014, following the retirement of his brother Jean-Marie, Thierry began devoting himself full time to Tue-Bœuf and sold all his shares in the négoce to Pierre-Olivier. The wines are now labelled with only Bonhomme’s name. All the grapes are from vines owned by friends; Pierre-Olivier either purchases the grapes outright or rents the vineyards. The farming is organic but uncertified as such.

Touraine 2015, La Tesnière, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (ca. $31, private import, NLA)
Menu Pinot (aka Arbois, 80%) and Chenin Blanc (20%) from co-planted vines grown in flinty clay over hard limestone near the hamlet of La Tesnière. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 228- and 500-litre vats. Matured 12 months in barrel. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Pear, apple, beeswax and powdered ginger on the effusive nose. Complex and layered in the mouth. The rich fruit and mineral substrate are brilliantly illuminated by fluent acidity. The silky texture lasts well into the long finish with its lingering hints of vanilla caramel. A delicious, complete wine that Steve declares “the best ever.” (Buy again? Yes.)

Touraine 2014, KO, In Côt We Trust, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme (ca. $27, private import, NLA)
Côt (aka Malbec) and nothing but. Manually harvested. Fermented on the stems with indigenous yeasts. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Intriguing nose of dark fruit, “wet clay,” “withered flowers” (including rose), ink and “raw doner.” Light- to medium-bodied yet surprisingly intense. A swirl of forest berries, dark minerals and fleet acidity overtoned with spice and leafmould. The long, tart, earthy finish has you craving another sip. The quaffability quotient is dangerously high. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 7 of 9

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Written by carswell

October 17, 2017 at 14:28

AOC shunners

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Vin de table 2014, Zacmau, Causse Marines ($35.62, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Mauzac from organically and biodynamically farmed 90-year-old vines in Gaillac. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks. Maturated in stainless steel tanks and, on the lees with regular stirring, in barrels (30-50%). Fined and filtered only on an as-needed basis. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Striking nose of apple, sushi, “pumpkin,” and flat champagne. Smooth and rich in the mouth, with lowish acidity. The “loose attack” gives way to a savoury-overtoned, limestoney mid-palate. Not a lot of depth but a certain opulence and a great complexity of flavours, with tasters noting “apple compote,” “dried white flowers” and “propolis” among other things. Long finish. Fascinating. (Buy again? Sure.)

Vin de France 2015, Le Pont Bourceau, Les Roches Sèches ($31.38, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Technically an Anjou blanc. 100% Chenin Blanc from organically farmed vines planted in 1973. Manually harvested. Direct pressed. Vinified and matured in tanks for around 12 months. Filtered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Attractive nose of pear, quince and quartzy limestone. Rich, fruity and dry in the mouth. The smooth surface is unperturbed by the pervasive acidity. Great minerality. Honey overtones. Fundamentally savoury. Very long. Intense yet civilized. Delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Written by carswell

October 10, 2017 at 12:35

Branco and bianco

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Lisboa 2015, António, Casal Figueira ($35.03, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Vital from ungrafted, 60- to 100-year-old vines. After destemming, the grapes and placed in barrels for fermentation and eight to 10 months’ maturation on the fine lees. Lightly filtered. A tiny amount of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Subtle, nuanced nose suggestive of lemon, quince and white minerals. Subtle and minerally on the palate, too, with veils of white fruit, citrus, honey and wax. Enlivened by fresh acidity. So light yet so intense and pure. Finishes clean and long. Super with Lucky Limes. Steve says this estate’s wines are among the most vintage-driven he’s encountered, with each year bringing a new experience. Well, the 2015 experience is most impressive. (Buy again? Yes.)

Marche Bianco 2016, Terre Silvate, La Distesa ($27.68, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Mostly Verdicchio with small abounts of Trebbiano and Malvasia. The manually harvested grapes come from organically and semi-biodynamically farmed vines in two plots in the Castelli dei Jesi appellation. Part of the juice is left to macerate on the skins for several days. Co-fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured five to six months. No added anything except minimal amounts of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Burned minerals, hay, apple and “chickpeas.” Rich and extracted. Ripe-sweet apple on the attack gives way to citrus and a load of minerals with a definite saline streak. Soft acidity adds just enough buoyancy. Long, minerally finish with incipient honey and almond notes. Fresh, engaging and speaking of its place. A favourite of many around the table, including me. (Buy again? If the Quebec allocation weren’t sold out, absolutely.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

October 8, 2017 at 11:45

Irrepressible

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Moonlighting from his daytime gig at Rézin, the irrepressible Steve Beauséjour returned to the Mo’ Wine Group in August to lead another of his sui generis wine and food tastings. It goes without saying that the assembled masses enjoyed themselves. Our tastings start at 7 p.m. and normally end between 9:30 and 10; this one finished after midnight.

While the wines weren’t really served in flights, I’ve organized them that way for reporting purposes.

Québec 2016, Seyval-Chardo, Nature SSA, Les Pervenches (ca. $19)
A private bottling of the estate’s regular Seyval-Chardonnay blend. The wine went directly from the barrel into the bottle, with no filtering, fining or added sulphur. While I don’t have the exact proportions of the grape varieties, they’re normally 80% Seyval Blanc and 20% Chardonnay from biodynamically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured in neutral French oak barrels. 11.7% ABV. While this bottling was never retailed, the estate’s other wines are (though they usually sell out a few weeks after their release) at the winery, at a few area food stores specializing in local products (e.g. Dans la côte, Fromagerie Hamel) and through the Quebec agent, La QV.

Clean nose of lemon, chalk and mowed fields. Fresh and pristine in the mouth. Medium-bodied. The pure fruit lends some sweetness that’s immediately checked by the incisive – not harsh – acidity and dancing minerality. Gains breadth and depth as it breathes. Finishes clean, fresh and long. A bracing, super-drinkable and, yes, irrepressible wine with “lots of energy” (quoting another taster). I’d buy a case if I could. (Buy again? Please!)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 1 of 9

Written by carswell

October 6, 2017 at 13:15

The Pélican brief

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The germ of the idea for Domaine du Pélican, the Jura offshoot of Burgundy’s renowned Domaine Marquis d’Angerville, was a bottle of Stéphane Tissot’s 2005 Arbois Chardonnay “Les Bruyères” that Guillaume d’Angerville tasted blind at a Paris restaurant in 2007. D’Angerville had asked the sommelier to bring him a bottle of something not from Burgundy. On tasting the wine, he declared the sommelier had not followed his instructions and was dumbstruck when the bottle was unveiled.

So impressed by the wine was he that d’Angerville began searching for vineyards in the Jura. In 2012, he leased the Chateau de Chavanes in Montigny-les-Arsures, gaining access to five hectares of biodynamically farmed vines. The estate’s holdings were later expanded by two acquisitions of organically farmed vines: five hectares from Jean-Marc Brignot and, in 2014, four hectares from the retiring Jacques Puffeney.

The estate, whose name and label are inspired by the Arbois coat of arms, currently makes and sells four wines, all vinified à la bourguignonne, in the Burgundian style, by which d’Angerville means non-oxidized. The estate’s first oxidized wine, a vin jaune, is slated for release in 2022.

Arbois 2015, Savagnin Ouillé, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265041)
100% organically farmed Savagnin primarily from two parcels (Barbi and Grand Curoulet) of Jurassic marl and terre de gryphées. Manually harvested. Lightly crushed then whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in stainless steel and matured 10 months, mostly in neutral 350-litre barrels. which are regularly topped-up (ouillé) to prevent oxidation. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Striking nose of lemon, green apple, quartz and, per other tasters, “terroir smoke” and “deviled eggs.” Fresh and vibrant in the mouth, with an elegant texture, impressively pure fruit, brilliant acidity, great minerality and every dimension. Long, racy and complete. Exactly the kind of commanding unullaged Savagnin that floats my boat. (Yes but…)

Arbois 2015, Chardonnay, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265032)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the Barbi vineyard and three other parcels. Mainly limestone with clay and marl. Wine-making is as for the Savagnin. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Subtle nose: faint orchard and stone fruit, hints of oat and “flowers changing to chalk.” In the mouth, it’s more buttery and smoother, less marked by acidity than its flightmates. There’s real complexity, including a vein of minerality that lasts into the long finish. So elegant and still evolving. Excellent but needs five to 10 years. (Sure but…)

Arbois 2015, Poulsard, Domaine du Pélican ($52.25, 13314113)
The first vintage of the wine. 100% Poulsard entirely from the Puffeney vineyards. The wine-making was guided by Puffeney. Manually harvested. Fully destemmed. Fermeneted in vats. Matured 10 months in 228-litre oak barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Complex nose of “cranberry,” “earth,” spice, prosciutto fat, undergrowth and slate. Light- to medium-bodied. The ripe if ethereal fruit is structured by gossamer tannins and racy acidity. The layers – veils is perhaps the better term – of flavour give a certain depth. Long, minerally, old-woody finish. Fresh, fleet and wonderfully pure. Poulsard is sometimes done in a rustic style but not here. So engaging. “Effing good.” (Buy again? Yes but…)

Arbois 2015, Trois Cépages, Domaine du Pélican ($49.25, 13265083)
A PPT, i.e. a blend of Pinot Noir (65%), Poulsard (30%) and Trousseau (5%). Wine-making is as for the Poulsard, though without Puffeney’s input. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Séguin et Robillard.
Outgoing nose of “strawberries,” “tart cherries,” “a bit of meat“ and “nutmeg.” Medium-bodied and more structured than the Poulsard. Again, the fruit is remarkably pure but here framed by light, torquey tannins and sleek acidity. Good length and balance. Young but already showing some complexity. Impeccable. (Buy again? Sure but…)

This was my first encounter with Domaine du Pélican’s wines. Going in, I’d wondered whether they would taste more Burgundian than Juraassien. They didn’t. While you’ll have to look elsewhere for the rusticity and funk found and prized in some Jura wines, there’s no denying that these could come from nowhere but the Jura and that the Savagnin and Poulsard are textbook examples of the grapes and style.

Why the buy-again buts then? The price. Nearly everyone around the table said they’d plunk for one or more of the wines if they were in the $30 to $40 range but not at $50. My memories of the Savagnin and Poulsard are so vivid and compelling that I’ve come close to splurging on a bottle of each. And then I remember that the 2013 Puffeney Poulsard cost $31.50 a bottle (and that was through the higher-markup private import channel), making it hard not to conclude that Domaine du Pélican is charging Burgundy prices for Jura wines, that you are, to some degree, paying through the nose for a name. Maybe that’s why, however outstanding they may be, all the wines in this limited release remain available more than two months after the release date.

MWG July 27th tasting: flights 4 and 5 of 7

Written by carswell

September 25, 2017 at 11:21

Bargain Branco

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Dão 2016, Indigena, Adega de Penalva ($11.25, 12728904)
A blend of Encruzado (40%), Cerceal Branco (30%) and Malvasia Fina (30%) from vines rooted in sandy soil over schist and granite. Farming is sustainable converting to organic. Manually harvested. The more aromatic varieties are macerated overnight. After pressing, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled early in the year following the vintage. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Wafting, aromatic nose of pear compote, white spice, white flowers, chalk and a little sap. In the mouth, it’s unctuous but not heavy, redolent of white orchard fruit, white grape juice and eventually citrus. At first you wonder whether the wine isn’t too soft but as it breathes and your palate adjusts, the unaggressive acidity and thin vein of quartzy minerals form a definite if pliant backbone. A thin thread of bitterness runs throughout and is joined by a faint honey note on the dry finish. Gains presence as it warms from fridge temperature, so don’t serve it too cold. The price is unbelievably low for a wine of this quality and character. Some might enjoy this as an aperitif, though I tend to like a sharper white in that role. Seems like a natural for simply prepared cod or soft Portuguese cheeses. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

September 23, 2017 at 12:14

A double dose of Tempranillo Blanco

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Grape vines are prone to mutating and winemakers prone to taking advantage of the results. One not uncommon example is red grape vines that mutate into white grape vines. Henri Gouges has a famous row of white Pinot Noir vines, propagated from an offshoot discovered in the 1940s, whose white berries are vinified to make a blanc de blancs (as opposed to a blanc de noirs, a white wine made from red grapes by minimizing the juice’s contact with the pigments in the skins). Tempranillo Blanco, a white mutation of Spain’s iconic red grape, was discovered in 1998 in Rioja Baja. (A grey-berried mutation called Tempranillo Royo or Tempranillo Gris has also been found in Toro.) After several years’ work to stabilize the variety, Tempranillo Blanco was authorized for use in white Rioja in 2004. Under the appellation rules, the grape can be used on its own or in blends, with Viura (aka Macabeo) generally considered the best blending partner. Two monovarietal Tempranillos recently showed up at the SAQ and we gave them a try.

Rioja 2016, Alto Cantabria, Inspiración, Valdemar ($19.90, 12591821)
100% Tempranillo Blanco sourced from the Alto Cantabria estate. The estate claims this was the first wine made from the grape; Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes says that honour goes to Ijalba. Fermented and matured on the lees in temperature-controlled (16°C) stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Oneo.
Odd but not unappealing nose of “cotton candy,” “peanuts,” “salty bread,” “Bazooka gum” and apple. Medium- to full-bodied. Dry but ripe-fruity (pear and pineapple), even juicy, with a salty mineral undercurrent and just enough acidity. Tasters note “tea tree” and “cucumber” on the sustained finish. Clean, savoury and involving, delivering a mouthful of flavour for under 20 bucks. Several around the table said they intended to buy this. (Buy again? Sure.)

Rioja 2016, Tempranillo Blanco, Edición Limitada, Rioja Vega ($22.50, 12489157)
100% Tempranillo Blanco. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine spent six months on the fine lees in French oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 1.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importation Épicurienne.
Minerals, apple, ash and preserved lemon mark the nose. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied, rich and round. The fruit tends to white pear and apple with tropical and citrus overtones. The oak adds spice but also calls attention to itself, especially on the long finish. Not exactly refreshing and probably best thought of as a food wine, though fans of big, New Worldish wines might feel differently. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

MWG July 27th tasting: flight 3 of 7

Written by carswell

September 17, 2017 at 12:58