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Posts Tagged ‘White wine

So similar, so different

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Stellenbosch 2014, Chenin Blanc, Organic, Reyneke ($26.60, 13123608)
100% Chenin Blanc from biodyanmically farmed vines around 45 years old and rooted in granitic loam over clay. Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. The must was allowed to settle then fermented with indigenous yeasts in 300-litre second-fill French oak barrels and a 2,500-litre foudre. Matured on its lees for 10 months then racked into a stainless steel tank for another month. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Univins.
Intriguing, even mysterious nose of white spice, chalk, lemon, roasted white meat and “garum.” In the mouth, it’s round from start to finish, honeyed yet dry, packed with ripe fruit and minerals. A stream of acidity adds backbone and life. Faint bitter saline notes mark the nicely sustained finish. One of those wines that seems as Old World as New, this had several fans around the table. While I found it a little two-dimensional, especially in comparison to its flightmate, I’ll readily admit those dimensions are lovely. (Buy again? Sure.)

Jasnières 2015, Sec, Domaine de la Roche Bleue ($27.90, 12856228)
100% Chenin Blanc from organically farmed 10- to 25-year-old vines planted in clayey, flinty topsoil over a limestone base. Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. The must was allowed to settle, then fermented (slowly due to the cool cellar temperatures) with indigenous yeasts, 60% in fourth- to sixth-fill barrels (wine from older vines) and 40% in stainless steel tanks (wine from younger vines). Matured four months in sixth-fill barrels. Reducing sugar: 3.0 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Boires.
Complex, winey nose of linden flowers, “sake,” quince, lime and, eventually honey. Sleek and spicy on the palate, alive with acidity. The tart fruit (citrus and stone mainly) is dusted with chalk and gunflint. Sugar levels notwithstanding, this seems significantly drier – not to mention leaner, more crystalline and better delineated – than the Reyneke. Pure, long and delicious. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 3 of 6

Written by carswell

June 20, 2017 at 12:12

Pairing Melon with Burgs

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Vin de France 2015, Melon, Domaine de la Cadette ($28.80, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Melon de Bourgogne (aka Muscadet) from organically farmed 25- to 30-year-old vines in the Bourgogne-Vézeley appellation (despite its name, the grape isn’t one of Burgundy’s permitted varieties, which explains the VDF designation). Manually harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, matured six months in stainless steel tanks and bottled unfined with only a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lemon, chalk and the faintest hint of grass. Wonderfully clean, round and fresh. Fruitier than your average Muscadet. Less crystalline too, though with the grape’s trademark mineral substrate. Soft acidity gives it a glow. Straightforward, long and pure. “I like the lingering sourness,” notes one taster. Me too. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

Bourgogne-Vézelay 2015, La Châtelaine, Domaine de la Cadette ($29.35, 11094621)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed 25-year-old vines rooted in clay and limestone. Manually harvested. Gently pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured 14 months on the fine lees. Lightly filtered. Sees only stainless steel until bottlng. Reducing sugar: 2.7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lemon, oats, quartz, white flowers – typical, wot? Clean and fresh but less overtly fruity than the Melon. More minerally though. The stuffing and bright acidity are well balanced, the finish long and clean. Even at this early point, one of the best vintages of this wine I’ve tasted, with the potential to improve over the short and medium term. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bourgogne-Vézelay 2015, La Piècette, Domaine de la Cadette ($31.25, 11589691)
100% Chardonnay from organically farmed 20- to 30-year-old vines in several parcels. The hand-picked whole clusters are gently pressed. The must is transferred to 228-litre barrels (called pièces) for six months’ alcoholic and malolactic fermentation (no added yeasts or bacteria). Matured 11 months on the lees. Lightly filtered. Reducing sugar: 2.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Initially reticent nose of butter and faint vanilla, opening to lemon and quartzy chalk. Rich but not happy. There’s bright acidity, entwined minerals and oak, a certain depth and, disconcertingly, a “weird sweetish taste” that lasts through the long finish and makes the wine taste not so much off as unsettled. A taster notes that a recently opened six-year-old bottle was “amazing,” supporting the impression that the 2015 is a wine that will benefit enormously from a few years in the cellar. (Buy again? A bottle or two to lay down.)

MWG May 18th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

June 16, 2017 at 13:25

The furthest thing from an aperitif wine

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Languedoc 2013, Roucaillat, Domaine des Hautes Terres de Comberousse ($29.55, private import, 12 bottles/case)
The 14-hectare estate is located about 15 kilometres north of Sète. Its first vines were planted in 1981, The current company, a father and son operation, was founded in 2001. Farming has been organic since the start and the mostly calcareous vineyards are neither tilled nor weeded. This, the estate’s flagship white, is a blend of Roussanne (50%), Rolle (aka Vermentino, 30%) and Grenache Blanc (20%). The grapes are manually harvested and given extended maceration before being gently pressed. The must is chilled, clarified though settling and fermented in temperature-controlled (19-20°C) tanks. Malolactic fermentation and several months’ maturation follow. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.

Striking, savoury nose of “spruce bark,” yellow beet, “cooked Swiss chard,” bacon fat and “pumpkin seed.” In the piehole, it’s rich and heady, extracted but not particularly fruity: beeswax overtoned with orange, bacon and dried herbs. The acidity is of the soft-glow variety while the long finish fades into a lingering bitterness. Unrefreshing on its own (the furthest thing from an aperitif wine), this absolutely requires food. Unique, surprising and, maybe, a year or two before its prime. (Buy again? A bottle or two to relive the experience and play with food pairings.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

May 28, 2017 at 12:19

Brand new and old

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The April 21st tasting featured wines represented in Quebec by Glou and was led by the agency’s prime mover, Jack Jacob. We started with a flight of four fine Alsatians.

Created in 1950 and based in Ergersheim, Domaine Brand sits in the middle of La Couronne d’or, a swath of vineyards stretching from Strasbourg to Marienheim. The estate’s 10 hectares of vineyards are in the communes of Ergersheim, Osthoffen and Wolxheim. Farming has been organic since 2001 and certified biodynamic (Demeter) since 2015.

Current winemaker Philippe Brand took the helm in 2008, following stints at Domaine de Montchovet in Burgundy and wineries in the Peloponnese (Greece) and Barossa Valley (Australia). He soon imposed a regime of non-interventionist wine-making where the only additive, if any, is small amounts of sulphur dioxide. The estate makes a separate line of unsulphured natural wines under the Apollinaire moniker whose labels feature calligrams by the eponymous artist.

Alsace 2013, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($33.06, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Gold bronze to the eye. Complex nose of apple, pear and chalk with hints of petrol and “Meyer lemon” (quoting another taster). Rich but not heavy in the mouth, the fruit tending toward baked apple. Dry and very minerally. The combination of acidity and minerals lends an almost “tannic bite” to the long finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Alsace 2015, La Chimère, Charles et Philippe Brand ($34.76, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinarie wines. 100% Riesling from the Osthoffen vineyard. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Paler. Faintly funky nose of white flowers, lemon peel, flint, barley sugar and a pungent note some described as bubble gum and others as camphor. A bit spritzy on the palate. Less rich and extracted, more crystalline than the Kefferberg. Bone dry (0.5 g/l residual sugar). Lingering green mango. I like. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace 2015, Fleurs, Charles et Philippe Brand ($37.64, private import, 6 bottles/case)
One of the estate’s Apollinaire wines. 80% Pinot Gris, 20% Riesling. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 12 months’ maturation take place in third- and fourth-fill barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Residual sugar: 1.0 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
Engaging nose of white peach, white spice and slate with honey and lactic notes. Very dry yet with an “implied sweetness.” Buoyant acidity. Faint spritz. Pearish with bergamot overtones. Mineral-rich. Long bitter-edged finish. Complex. Impressive. (Buy again? Gladly. And I’m really looking forward to trying the orange version.)

Alsace 1999, Riesling, Kefferberg, Brand & Fils ($56.34, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from the Kefferberg. Manually harvested. The whole clusters are gently pressed. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in large barrels. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
A deep bronze colour approaching that of iced tea. Complex, unfathomable nose: dried apple, brown sugar, smoke, hints of petrol and “spicy green” or “dried mint” and more. Equally complex in the mouth, the flavours echoing the nose and resonating on their own. Super dry. Smooth acidity. Considerable depth. Endless finish with, once again, a hint of something camphor-like. The price is more than reasonable for a wine of this age and quality. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

MWG April 21st tasting: flight 1 of 6

Sea wine

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Santorini 2016, Thalassitis, Gaia Wines ($29.55, 11966695)
The cuvée’s name refers to the ancient practice of mixing wine with sea water (thalassa meaning sea in ancient Greek) to produce a health-promoting beverage called thalassitis oenos or sea-originated wine. 100% Assyrtiko from ungrafted vines about to enter their ninth decade, trained into nests and rooted in the arid, soil (mostly pumice devoid of organic matter) of Episkopi, Akrotiri and Pyrgos. Vinified in stainless steel. Fermented with selected yeasts. Did not undergo malolactic fermentation as the winery claims it contains no malic acid to be converted into lactic acid. Spent five to six months on the lees. Sealed with a synthetic cork that looks a little like the black sand and rocks found on the island. Reducing sugar: 1.6 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Fresh and preserved lemon, tidal pool, pumice, faint honey. Buttery texture. Fruity attack for an Assyrtiko. Still, the fruit soon gives way to the expected minerality. Acidity is, of course, very present, especially from the mid-palate on, but seems a tad smoother and less trenchant than is sometimes the case in Santorini Assyrtikos. Very dry, especially on the long, extremely saline finish. Probably my favourite of Gaia’s three Santorini bottlings. While not as deep, powerful or crystalline as some of its (often more expensive) peers, it would still make a good introduction to the grape and terroir. The winery suggests ageing it two to three years; given Assyrtiko’s propensity to oxidize and syncorks’ propensity to allow oxidation, I wouldn’t chance keeping it much longer than that. A near-perfect pairing for oysters on the half shell, grilled sea bass or porgy drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and just about any octopus dish; with some oxidation, a killer match for beef or venison tartare. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

May 23, 2017 at 13:43

Stone wine

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Robola de Céphalonie 2015, Vino di Sasso, Domaine Sclavos ($26.95, 12485877)
100% Robola from organically and biodynamically farmed, ungrafted old vines on the Ionian island of Cephalonia. Vino di sasso means “wine of stone,” a reference to the island’s rocky cliffs and outcrops and the vineyard, composed mainly of calcerous pebbles at an elevation ranging up to 850 metres. 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: 1.4 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.

Limestone dust, dried hay, yellow apple, faint peach, dried herbs, almonds and smoke. A striking combination of minerality and richness. Bone dry. Seems built around an acid-mineral core. A saline current runs under the ethereal orchard fruit and tangs the long, fruity, almondy, smoky finish. A unique, fascinating wine, more enigmatic and involving than the 2014. The price of admission is more than fair. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to cellar for a year or two.)

Written by carswell

May 22, 2017 at 12:42

Just in time for asparagus season

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Wachau 2014, Grüner Veltliner, Terrassen, Nikolaihof ($21.65, 13166181)
Austria’s oldest estate and one of its most storied. This is the first Nikolaihof wine to be sold at the SAQ. 100% Grüner Veltliner from organically and biodynamically farmed estate vines between 10 and 45 years old planted in the Wachau on the south shore of the Danube. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Alcoholic fermentation and three months’ maturation on the lees took place in very large barrels. Malolactic fermentation was avoided. The wine was later matured in tanks before being lightly filtered (but not fined) and bottled. The only addition was a squirt of sulphur dioxide at bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 3.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

Textbook nose: white pepper, stone, lime (fruit and pith), herb salad, turned earth, sea brine and the faintest hint of honey. Texture somewhere between waxy and buttery. Savoury and quite dry. The fruit and greens are swirled with an intense minerality (quartz, saline). The pervasive acidity is softened by the not inconsiderable extract. The long finish brings a white pepper note and a Szechuan pepper numbingness. Not as crystalline, layered, dimensional or commanding as a top GV but punching well above its weight. A natural with river fish and white meats accompanied by cabbage and, like many GVs, unfazed by asparagus. (Buy again? Yes, though unfortunately there’s not much left in the system.)

Written by carswell

May 16, 2017 at 12:58