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Posts Tagged ‘Wow

Primo Malvasia

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Uroš Klabjan’s eponymous estate is located on the Istrian peninsula in Slovenia just south of the Italian border and three kilometres inland from the Gulf of Trieste. The around 10 hectares of vineyards are devoted mainly to indigenous varieties, primarily Malvasia and Refosco. Most of the vines are several decades old though one plot of ungrafted Malvasia is well past the 100-year mark. The estate is certified organic and the wine-making practices are traditional and non-interventionist. Annual production is typically in the 30,000-bottle range.

Primorska 2013, Malvazija Maceracija, Klabjan ($53.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
As far as I can tell, Klabjan makes two Malvasias: the fresh and easy-going white label and this, the more savoury and complex black label. 100% Malvasia from dry-farmed old vines. Manually harvested. Macerated 10 days on the skins. Spontaneous fermentation. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured 30 months on the lees in oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur (total sulphites: 35 mg/l). Vegan-friendly. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

Hazy straw-bronze. Inexhaustibly protean nose of orange, apple, apricot, “rye whisky” and hints of vanilla and smoke that eventually heads into earthy mushroom territory. Smooth textured and possessed of a certain weight, layered and enveloping. The complex set of flavours echoes the nose and adds lees and minerals. Luminous acidity throws it all in relief, a effect sustained through the very long finish. Perfectly accessible now but also capable of ageing for years. Vibrant and engaging, this spellbinding wine was a favourite of just about everyone around the table. Despite the high price, we would have taken a couple of cases had any been available. (Buy again? Gladly. And I’ll make a beeline for any Klabjan wines I run across in the future.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 2 of 9

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Written by carswell

November 25, 2017 at 11:49

Northern exposure

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Terre Siciliane 2015, Versante Nord, Eduardo Torres Acosta ($35.00, 13387380)
Nerello Mascalese with 20% other varieties, including Nerello Capuccio and possibly Alicante Bouschet and Grenache from vines in two co-planted parcels (Pietramarina and Crasa, totalling 1.5 ha) at 550 to 750 metres in elevation on the north-facing side of Mount Etna, hence the bottling’s name. The vines average 45 to 50 years old, with the oldest being about 80. The manually harvested grapes were transported to Arianna Occhipinti’s winery in Vittoria. Some clusters were destemmed, others left whole. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and macerated on the skins for 15 days in a cement tank with no temperature control. Matured 16 months in 750-litre Slavonian oak botti. Minimally sulphured. The 2015 is the second vintage of the wine. Total production: 6,000 bottles. 13.5% ABV per the label, 12% ABV per the SAQ. Quebec agent: oenopole.
The expected cherry and plum plus cedar, blood and stone. No more than medium-bodied. Structured by silky acidity and gossamer tannins, the fruit seems shot through with minerals. The sustained finish brings a light astringency and a dusty aftertaste. So pure and savoury, so effortlessly complex. A pleasure to drink. (Buy again? Yes.)

Terre Siciliane 2015, Pirrera, Eduardo Torres Acosta ($59.00, 13387371)
The blend is similar to the Versante Nord but with 90% Nerello Mascalese. All grapes come from the high-altitude (850 metres) Pirrera vineyard on the north slope of Mount Etna, which had been abandoned until Acosta began rehabilitating it. The vines average 50 years old and the soil is sandy with volcanic ash and stones. The wine-making was identical to that for the Versante Nord. The 2015 is the second vintage of the wine. Total production: 1,100 bottles. 13.5% ABV per the label, 12% ABV per the SAQ. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Inexhaustible nose of spice, cedar, old wood, forest floor, background dried cherry, floral and balsamic notes and more. Richer than the Versante but still medium-bodied and silky. There’s a pure core of fruit, racy but integrated acidity, an airframe tannic structure, minerals galore, a feathery astringency and a very long, subtly inflected cherry marzipan finish. More serious than its flightmate yet still so fresh. A flawless, complex, engaging, delicious wine. (Buy again? Yes.)

Soon after the wines’ release, a MWG member who was wondering which if any to buy asked a well-regarded SAQ wine advisor for input. The advisor said he was enamoured with the Versante Nord but felt the Pirrera wasn’t worth the extra outlay. The member bought some of the Versante and gave the Pirrera a pass. At the tasting a few days later, our experience was more the opposite: both wines were delightful but the Pirrera was the standout. The member made a beeline to the SAQ and scored a couple of bottles.

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

November 16, 2017 at 13:37

Mainlining Assyrtiko

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Santorini 2013, Pure, Volcanic Slopes Vineyards ($45.50, 13109697)
Run as a separate operation, Volcanic Slopes Vineyards is a second label of sorts of Argyros Estate. It is the brainchild of Argyros’ winemaker and commercial director, Stefanos Georgas. The idea is to make as pure an expression of Santorini Assyrtiko as possible using a hands-off approach. This 2013 is the first vintage of what is, so far, its only cuvée. Assyrtiko (100%) from 80- to 150-year-old ungrafted vines in two parcels: one with pumice soil in Episkopi Gonias, the other with basalt soil in Megalochori. Manually harvested. Half of the must is free-run juice, the other half is juice from gently pressed whole clusters. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 14 months on the lees with frequent stirring in a naturally temperature-controlled underground concrete tank in the old Argyros winery. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oneopole.
Multifaceted nose that prompts descriptors like lemon, quartz dust, “sour fuzzy peach,” “distant honey,” bay leaf and lingering apple. Imposing and enthralling from the first sip: a “decadent” yet austere amalgam of clementine and incredible minerality and salinity. The rich extract and electric acidity are in breathtaking balance. There’s great breadth, depth and length – every dimension, in fact. Pure is no exaggeration, no marketing gimmick. A stunning wine, “like mainlining Assyrtiko.” It will be fascinating to see how this evolves over the next three to five years and maybe beyond. Surely one of the great white wines of Europe and, as such, more than fairly priced. The 2013 is almost sold out. Tasted at the winery in July 2016, two days after it had been bottled, the 2014 seemed every bit its equal. (Buy again? Imperatively – even the group’s white wine skeptic felt compelled to run out and acquire a couple of bottles.)

Santorini 2016, Assyrtiko, Hatzidakis ($28.50, 11901171)
The estate’s entry-level bottling. Sadly, 2016 was Haridimos Hatzidakis’s last vintage. 100% Assyrtiko from organically farmed, ungrafted vines up to a century old in Pyrgos, Megalochori, Akrotiri and Vourvoulos. The manually harvested grapes were direct-pressed. The must was clarified by settling, then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (18°C) tanks. Stayed on the lees for 40 days. Matured in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered and dosed with sulphur dioxide before bottling. Reducing sugar: 1.9 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oneopole.
Lemony, “ferny” nose with notes of “modelling clay,” peach and distant sea shore. In the mouth, the dense extract and unctuous texture are counterpointed by crystalline minerals, vibrant verging on trenchant acidity and a fundamental dryness. Fruitier (lemon and quince) than in some earlier vintages. The saline finish brings some dried herb notes. Not as deep, broad or long as the (older and much more expensive) Pure, though hardly lacking dimension. Almost too rich for an aperitif; probably best thought of as a food wine (to date, it has made a matchless match for spaghetti with leeks, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and bottarga and for oysters on the half shell). (Buy again? Multiples.)

MWG September 28th tasting: flight 4 of 7

Written by carswell

November 11, 2017 at 14:01

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

Wowzer

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Juliénas 2016, Rézin Collection, Lapierre + Pacalet Cousins ($29.90, 13286802)
Christophe Pacalet and Mathieu Lapierre are cousins (who knew?) and this is, as far as I know, their first joint effort. 100% Gamay from organically farmed 70-year-old vines rooted in the granite and schist of a single parcle on the Côte de Bessay. Vinified in the traditional Beaujolais manner, using carbonic maceration for 30 days. Matured in 228-litre French oak barrels for six months. No added anything, including yeasts and sulphur. Reducing sugar: 2.6 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Those who pour the first glasses from the bottle complain of an off-putting aroma but, getting around to it 20 or 30 minutes later, I detect nothing of the sort. Instead, a classic if rich Gamay nose of sappy, ripe red berries with a noticeable mineral streak and that typical floral note reminiscent of peonies. In the mouth, the wine is juicy, dense with fruit yet light on its feet. Bright acidity lends just a hint of tartness and the tannins are sleek and pliable. There’s a slatey backdrop but no greenness. Finishes long, clean and lip-smackingly. Wow. Not as obviously structured (and ageable?) as some Juliénases but great for drinking now and over the next few years. Actually, I’d have a hard time keeping my hands off any bottles in my possession. (Buy again? Def.)

Written by carswell

September 7, 2017 at 11:42

Cab Franc three ways

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Though they don’t come from a wine-making family, brothers Fabien and Cyril Boisard founded Domaine du Mortier in 1996 when they both were in their teens. Their holdings comprise around 12 hectares of vineyards in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and a recently acquired three hectares in Bourgueil. Farming is organic-leaning-biodynamic, harvesting is by hand and none of the wines is chaptalized.

Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2015, Les Sables, Domaine du Mortier ($27.23, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc from seven parcel of mostly young vines in sandy soil. Whole-bunch fermentation takes place in 70 hl concrete vats. Lees from earlier vintages are used to start the fermentation. Pump-overs with minimum oxygen uptake are performed for five or 10 minutes a day. Matured on the lees for about six months. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny amount of sulphur (16 mg/l) is added at bottling. 12.27% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Red and black berries, coffee, dried meat, slate, pepper, distant barnyard. Medium-bodied and so very drinkable. A mouthful of tart fruit, dark minerals, lively acidity, super-supple tannins. Dry and wonderfully pure. Nothing deep or complex (a function of soil and vine age), just good, clean fun. The easiest-drinking Cabernet Franc I’ve encountered in a coon’s age. (Buy again? Done!)

Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2014, Dionysos, Domaine du Mortier ($32.89, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines rooted in gravel over tuffeau. Manually harvested. Gently destemmed, gently pressed and given around 25 days’ maceration on the skins. Barrel-fermented using indigenous yeasts. Matured eight months in old oak barrels. 13.35% ABV. Quebec agent: WINO.
Darker nose of red berries and slate with meat and vegetal notes. Full and round in the mouth, packed with remarkably juicy fruit. Firm tannins bestow a velour-like texture, bright acidity a bit of a bite. The bedrock minerality rumbles through the long, spicy finish. The winemakers feel this often needs a couple of years before it hits its stride and drinks well for six to eight years beyond that. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin de France 2014, 180 jours, Domaine du Mortier ($63.79, private import, 6 bottles/case)
VdF because the brothers feel it wouldn’t be accepted by the AOC authorities and because it leaves them free to supplement Saint-Nicolas grapes with fruit from their holdings in Bourgueil. Cabernet Franc from 60- to 70-year-old vines in tuffeau. Whole-bunch fermented and macerated in old barrels for 180 days, with the barrel being tightly closed, not topped-up and turned once daily during fermentation; after 180 days, the barrel is taken apart so the wine and skins can be transferred to the press. After pressing, the wine is matured in new barrels for another 180 days. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 13.5% ABV. Due to the small quantities made, the wine is normally sold only at the winery, a limit of 12 bottles per customer is imposed and, reportedly, none is exported. Bravo to Martin Landry for scoring a few cases for Quebec. Quebec agent: WINO
Much darker and denser than its flightmates. Complex, funky nose: old wood, dark fruit and minerals, “animale,” “green olives,” “the stuff you scoop out of a squash” and more. Rich and dark yet somehow fresh. So complex and layered, so plush and chewy. Superbly structured with velvety tannins, glowing acidity and mineral depth. Great length. Complete, elegant, accessible. A big wine but so not the overextracted monster I was fearing it would be. Just wow. (Buy again? Just yes.)

MWG July 13th tasting: flight 7 of 9

Written by carswell

August 31, 2017 at 13:48

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