Potluck Languedoc!!!

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To have a wine presentation around a potluck lunch is a wonderful idea. It embodies the generosity of wine and food and it permits you to exploy a wide range of gastronomic plates in a single setting. With this setting in mind, I recently attended a press tasting of Languedoc wines led by Christine Molines, marketing director of Languedoc wines in collaboration with Ateliers & Saveurs.

Hard to resist the invitation, since I love Potlucks but also this French wine region holds a special place in my heart. It was in the Languedoc that I started my early days of French wine drinking.

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For me the Languedoc is the ultimate wine potluck. The region boast 23 AOPs and 22 IGPs. There are over twenty grape varieties planted and the region produces a diverse style: sparkling, still white, still red, dessert. Across the 40,000 hectares of the region, the wines have a distinct mediterranean character.

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While the potluck was being prepared, I enjoyed an glass of Blanquette de Limoux  from Sieur d’Arques ( SAQ # 94953, $17.90).  The AOP  Limoux  yields sparkling wines with a  saline mediterranean character. It is said that the  Blanquette de Limoux was the world’s first sparkling wine, going  back as 1531. This bottling is majority blend of 90% Mauzac with the reminding in equal parts Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Medium body, crisp and refreshing, it was a marvelous match with a scallop ceviche, granny smith and jalapeno pepper. The green apple and iode notes of the Limoux cleansing out the  cilantro undertones from the ceviche.

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The entree of the potluck was an aspic  dashi with eggs, fresh coriander and shiitake mushrooms.  An impressive food match that proves the versability of Languedoc wines. The Picpoul de Pinet Ormarine Les Pins de Camille ( SAQ # 266064, $13.10) was exciting reflecting flavors of iode, green apple, meyer lemons and mint. It was a crisp and nicely round on the edges bringing an aromatic herbal sensation when combined with the dish.  More than half of the still white wines (61%) of Languedoc come from the appellation, Picpoul de Pinet where the Picpoul grape is the leading protagonist reflecting the chalky mineral soil with a sunny mediterranean character.

The dashi was also matched with the rose from Gerard Bertrand 2016 ( SAQ # 12521962, $18.35). A traditional blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this rose brought to mind raspberry sorbet, strawberry with provencal herbs or garrique. Crisp and fresh, it brought out a different mineral sensation when paired with the dish.

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Next came a series of  gastronomical dishes matched by diverse wines of the appellation.  With a paella made with in the risotto style, we had two wines from  les Cave de Roquebrun:  A Fiefs D’Aupenac 2016 ( SAQ # 10559174, $18.55) and a Rose Col de L’Orb 2015 ( SAQ # 642504, $12.70). These are from the appellation of Saint Chinian and more specifically coming from the Roquebrun area. This appellations  is very sunny appellation from Languedoc, getting as much 0f 300 days per sun a year for the village of Roquebrun.  The soils to the north are dominated by schists and gravel while to the south they contain more chalk.

Les Fiefs D’Aupenac is a lovely majority blend of Rousanne (80%) with the remainder Grenache Blanc ( 20%). It was very enchanting with its nuances of honey and nougat and notes of ripe apricot fruit and orange blossom water. Structured with a pronounced minerality, it was  a lovely complement to the risotto, elevating the saffron notes of the dish. On the other hand, the rose Col de L’Orb, a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache with its aromas of bruised red berries and wet flowers gave an earthy character to the accord giving bringing to mind roasted garrique notes.

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Another dish that caught my attention was a fancy rendition of Mac and Cheese with old cheddar perfumed with truffle oil. It was paired again with a hearty St-Chinian and a velvety Cabardes. La Madura Tradition 2014 ( SAQ # 10682615, $18.95) is a multi blend of Grenache ( 30%), Carignan ( 37%), Syrah ( 10%) and Mourvedre ( 14%). A very racy wine with nuances of camphor, dark cassis, prunes and black cumin. Earthy with muscular tannins and balsamic nuances as well. A very interesting match with the mac & cheese providing in the palate a very smoky sensation.

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From the appellation of Cabardés, we also enjoyed the Chateau de Pennautier ( SAQ # 560755, $14.55).  The vineyards that give birth to this wine comes from sunny and rocky hills in the southern slope of the black mountain between 200-300 meters of altitude where the vines benefit from the east-west winds of the climate. A comforting red bringing to mind leather, licorice with red pitted cherry and nuances of red currants and paprika. Full body with a very earthy finale. It was a great food match, the wine bringing out a earthiness in the plate with a certain salinity to it.

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With a meatball ragu Languedoc style came two wines from  the Faugeres and La Clape Appellations: L’Impertinent from Faugeres and Chateau Rouquette sur Mer. They were good matches but I preferred the Chateau du Grand Caumont 2015-Impatience ( SAQ # 978189, $18.55) from the Corbieres appellation and the Devois des Agneaux D’Aumelas 2014 ( SAQ # 912311, $19.45) from the general AOC Languedoc. The corbieres was spicy reminiscent of hoisin sauce, cloves and cacao in a dark fruit sauce. Powerful and racy with a nice minerality with muscular yet vibrant tannins. The Devois des Agneaux brought to mind cofee, macerated cherry in brandy with dry mediterranean spices such as  oregano. It was rich and satiny and very long.

So after reading this, you get the idea that the wines of Languedoc are versatile with a diverse types of cuisine and perfect for any potluck. As the  christmas holidays are approaching, please bear in mind these wines for your family and friends gathering.

 

 

 

 

 

Chablis,1 cépage, 4 appellations et un casse-tête des «Climats»

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Ana Gallegos

1 cépage, 4 appellations et un casse-tête des «Climats»

Chablis est l’un des noms les plus célèbres dans le domaine du vin blanc, si célèbre qu’après son interdiction aux EU, les producteurs de vins américains se sont appropriés le nom pour leurs vins blancs, une pratique qui se poursuit malheureusement jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

Les ravages du phylloxéra et du mildiou à la fin du XIXème siècle, puis deux guerres mondiales et de fortes gelées ont réduit les vignobles de Chablis, malgré sa renommée, à une fraction de sa production. Cependant, le travail acharné des vignerons a fait renaitre la vigne. Une nouvelle génération d’hommes et de femmes prennent la relève. Alliant tradition et modernité, ils permettent le retour d’un Chablis aux qualités probablement jamais égalées.

Le Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne, représenté par son président Louis Moreau, et le sommelier Kler-Yann Bouteiller, a organisé un souper-formation au restaurant Dur à cuire à Longueuil, dans le but de déguster les 4 appellations de Chablis. Un menu accord mets-vins y a été spécialement élaboré pour chacune des 4 appellations.

Pour bien comprendre ces vins d’exception, il convient avant tout de décortiquer tous les aspects reliés aux caractéristiques de chaque « Climat » et de sa classification hiérarchique.

Chablis est situé bien au nord du reste de la Bourgogne. Certains disent que c’est ici, sur le sous-sol kimmeridgien, que le cépage Chardonnay trouve sa plus grande harmonie avec son terroir, même s’il est l’un des plus largement planté de part le monde.

Le kimmeridgien est essentiellement un mélange des marnes grises avec des bancs de calcaire parfois très enrichis de minuscules coquilles d’huîtres fossilisées appelées Exogyra Virgula. C’est ici, dans ce sous-sol particulier, que les vins de Chablis puisent leur typicité, leur pureté et leur finesse.

Comme dans toute la Bourgogne, les vignobles de Chablis se distinguent par des aires de production précisément délimitées, ainsi que des conditions de production spécifiques. Logiquement, plus on monte dans la hiérarchie, plus les exigences sont grandes. Une bonne partie de ce qu’on appelle aujourd’hui Chablis et Petit Chablis est le résultat d’une expansion des limites de l’appellation depuis les années 1950.

Quatre appellations cohabitent dans le vignoble de Chablis:

Petit Chablis: essentiellement planté sur les plateaux situés en haut des coteaux. Vin frais qui en principe se boit dans sa jeunesse et principalement à l’apéritif.

Chablis: la plus grande de 4 appellations. Les vins de l’appellation Chablis ont plus de longueur et volume en bouche comparé au Petit Chablis. L’âge de la vigne, le millésime et le style de chaque vigneron influent sur le résultat final.

Chablis Premier Cru: cette appellation comporte 40 climats , regroupés sous 17 climats principaux. Cette appellation peut être suivie soit de l’expression Premier Cru, soit du nom du Climat d’origine, soit par l’un et l’autre pour les vins provenant des parcelles classées en Premier Cru. Les différents Climats apportent chacun leur style, les uns plus vifs et minéraux (ex. Montée de Tonnerre), les autres plus tendres et fruités (ex. Montmains).

Chablis grand Cru: dernière étape de la pyramide. Cette appellation peut être suivie d’un de 7 Climats: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valeur, Vaudésir. Vins riches en nuances selon les Climats qui peuvent être gardés de 10 à 15 ans.

Les vins de Chablis offrent une large palette de profils et d’expressions pouvant convenir à plusieurs mets. Ils offrent une grande versatilité. Du Petit Chablis au Chablis Grand Cru, il y a toujours un vin pour chaque plat; en voici quelques exemples:

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Huitres Rockefeller
Petit Chablis, 2015, Domaine Moutard Diligent-Val de Mer

20171110_013014.jpgSAQ 12956528 $25,05

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« Gâteau » de riz, saumon bio mariné, oeufs de saumon, mayonnaise au raifort, billes de betteraves, oeufs de caille au vinaigre de riz.
Chablis, Les Grands Terroirs, 2015, Samuel Billaud

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SAQ 11890993 $30,50

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« Pétoncle » de porcelet noirci au sucre de canne, jus de clair de porcelet au thé, pomme de terre fondante au jambon de Parme, lamelles de courges marinées au thym et origan.

Chablis 1er Cru, Vaulignot, 2015, Domaine Louis Moreau SAQ 480285 $30,35.

Chablis 1er Cru, Fourchaume, 2015, La Chablissienne

SAQ 11094671 $39,75

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Carpaccio de tome de Bourgogne, pommes compressées, nougat, tuiles de Graham.

Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudésir, 2015, Domaine Jean-Paul et Benoît Droin
SAQ 12280880 $82,25

Chablis Grand Cru, Bougros, 2014, Domaine Drouhin Vaudon-Joseph Drouhin
SAQ 11590253 $82

 

Heureusement, de nombreux bons vins de Chablis sont disponibles à la SAQ: Christian Moreau, Billaud-Simon, Domaine William Fèvre, Patrick Piuze, Gérard Duplessis, Joseph Drouhin, entre autres. Donc n’hésitez pas à remplir votre cave pour être prêt pour votre prochain souper.

Petit conseil:

La durée de conservation dépend de chaque appellation. Un Petit Chablis pourra être dégusté dans les 2 ans, un Chablis peut également se boire dans sa jeunesse, mais peut aussi se garder 5 ans ou plus. Un Chablis Premier Cru se déguste avec plaisir entre sa 5ème et sa 10ème année. Quant au Chablis Grand Cru, il s’apprécie au moins 10 à 12 ans après sa récolte selon les millésimes. Il n’est pas rare de vivre une expérience sensorielle magnifique avec une bouteille de Chablis Grand Cru de 15 ans, 20 ans voire plus.

Pour qu’un vin soit apprécié, il doit être servi à la bonne température. Elle est idéale pour un Petit Chablis aux alentours de 8°C à l’apéritif et de 9°C-10°C à table. Un Chablis et un Chablis Premier Cru se dégustent entre 10°C et 11°C. Enfin un Chablis Grand Cru est servi autour de 12°C-14°C.

 

Les vins d’Enira et de Bulgarie

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Par Ana Gallegos

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La Bulgarie est un des plus anciens vignobles du monde avec la Grèce et la Géorgie. Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la politique soviétique a totalement anéanti les traditions locales. Mais, depuis sa chute, de nouvelles caves dynamiques et bien équipées se sont développées

En 2001 le Docteur Karl-Heinz Hauptmann et le Comte Stephan Von Neipperg ( les propriétaires du Château Canon La Gaffeliere  et La Mondotte à Saint-Emilion), ont acquis, auprès de 800 propriétaires différents, 250 hectares de vignobles pour créer Bessa Valley Winery.

Le Terroir de Bessa Valley

Le millésime 2004 a été le premier présenté au public. Les propriétaires de Bessa Valley Winery ont réalisé pour la première fois l’idée de vin de terroir en Bulgarie avec cette récolte. Environ 720.000 bouteilles sont produites et 80 % d’entre elles sont exportées en Europe, Amérique du Nord  et Asie.

Cette vallée, bordée au Sud par le massif des Rhodopes, et au Nord par des collines d’environ 230 m d’altitude, offre une situation géographique idéale. Les vents s’y engouffrant contrebalancent les excès de température liés au climat continental. Elle bénéficie en outre de l’influence de la Maritsa, qui coule à quelque km de là. Les vins issus de terroirs argilo-calcaires offrent puissance et structure, mais également acidité et minéralité.

eniraOn trouve dans le marché québécois le vin Enira 2011. ( SAQ #  12468807, $20.45) C’est un vin à la couleur pourpre profonde, aux arômes de vanille et de menthe avec des nuances de framboise et de mûre sauvage. Les tanins sont ronds et les fruits rouges donnent une longue finale, le vin révèle une harmonie entre l’élevage dans des fûts de chêne et le fruit. Il accompagne à merveille toutes les viandes rouges et fromages avec un grand potentiel de vieillissement d’environ 5 à 7 ans.

Encépagement

Syrah 50%

Merlot 40%

Petit Verdot 10 %

Vinification

Les raisins sont vendangés à la main, puis sont soigneusement sélectionnés sur la table de tri. La macération à froid des grains entiers se déroule pendant 5 à 8 jours à une température de 16ºC. La fermentation alcoolique est contrôlée à une température de 26-28ºC pendant 8-10 jours. Vieillissement en fûts de chêne français pour environ 12 mois.

Faces of Chilean wines- Part II: Vina San Pedro

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Besides Errazuriz another important winery in the Chilean wine landscape is Vina San Pedro.

Founded in 1865, San Pedro is one of the oldest wineries in the Chilean wine industry. San Pedro is located on the Curico Valley, 200 km away from Santiago. San Pedro has one of the largest holdings of vineyards in Chile comprising regions such as Elqui, Casablanca, San Antonio, Maipo, Cachapoal, Maule and Bio-Bio.

San pedro was founded by brothers Bonifacio and José Gregorio Correa Albano. At the beginning, they start producing wines using local varieties but slowly they began to introduce European varieties to replace those indigenous varieties.

Succesful in North America and key European wine markets such as Germany and the UK, they well know with brands such as GatoNegro, 35˚South and Castillo de Molina.

San Pedro is one of the few Chilean wineries showing that Chile is quite capable of making wines verging toward a new world style. Their 1865 line brings to mind an echo of Bordeaux and Burgundy. This come as no surprise since two of their winemakers have worked Marco Puyo and Gonzalo Castro have worked in both Bordeaux and Burgundy.

I recently had a chance to taste a selection of their most representative brands in the Quebec and Ontario markets. These are marvelous wines and illustrate some of the best wines that Chile is producing nowadays:

1865 Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley. LCBO # 375212. $18.95

 

Lovely expressive and pronounced  bouquet.  Aromas of tropical fruits such as pineapple, passion fruit, mango and gooseberries with pleasant herbaceous tones and hints of green bell pepper. On the mouth, medium body with a zesty acidity. Intriguing oily-fleshy texture with a spicy finale. Food match: Grilled halibut with cherry and corn salsa. 

1865 Cabernet Sauvignon SAQ # 13241065. $21.95. LCBO # 37911. $19.95

 

A fine Cabernet nose. Ripe cassis and black cherry with nuances of dry oregano, graphite and smoke. On the palate broad with ripe and muscular tannins.  Intriguing flavors of eucalyptus and menthol with an elegant finale. Food match: sirloin steak with chanterelle mushrooms. 

1865 Carmenere. SAQ # 12567995. $22.00. LCBO # 249201. $19.95 ( Release date Oct 28 in Ontario)

Perfumed nose bringing to mind plums with additional notes of  black pepper, vanilla, chocolate and tobacco.  On the palate, it is fruit foward and elegant displaying ripe tannins and wood well integrated. Food match: Beef empanadas.

1865 Chardonnay. LCBO # 540781 $19.95 ( Release date January 20th, 2018)


Aromas of white peach, nectarine and honeydew melon. With time in the glass, intriguing notes of chalk and flint with spices such as mustard white pepper. On the mouth, dense with a fleshy texture and a medium plus acidity. Food match: Dijon mustard baked salmon.

A tale of a grape with two homes

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Every time that I think about Malbec, I cannot help conjuring the image of the expatriate son who left a disgruntled Europe to find a peaceful home in Argentina and came back to the mother country with flying colours.

This is the impression that I got after reading the paper Malbec World Day by Pablo Lacoste, written for Wines of Argentina. Like a saga, the history of Malbec is rich  with colourfoul characters that include kings, noblesmen, scientists and colonial powers.

As you know the birthplace of Malbec is in Cahors of the french southwest. Also known as cot, the wines of Cahors were prestigious among the European ruling classes during the middle ages.

The immigration of Malbec in Argentina began when Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, governor of Mendoza, headhunted  the French agronomist Miguel Pouget to export vine material from France to Argentina at the end of the XIX. Of the varieties  that the french scientist  brought were the very first Malbec vines to be planted in the country. Rapidly it  grew in popularity by grape growers because of the way it conditioned to the terroir of Mendoza and its positive attributes: resistance to disease,  dark colour and sweet tannins.

Central to the developent of the modern  Malbec in Argentina was   Nicolas Catena Zapata, a third generation winery owner who began an alternative study of Malbec and the Terroir of Mendoza, leading the way to high altitude grape growing in the Uco Valley.

Recently, I have been drinking a lot of Malbec during the past few weeks. There was the Wines of Argentina Cambalache event in Montreal and we had the visit of Sergio Case, the winemaker of Trapiche in Montreal.

TRAPICHE:

No doubt, one of Argentina pioneer families of Malbec has been Trapiche. Their story started in a small vineyard that bears its name ” El Trapiche ” in Mendoza, Argenina premier winemaking region. In 2016, they were  the leading Argentinian exporting winery. By 1889, they were already recognized internationally with their wine brands such as Fond de Cave and Broquel that still are vigent today. Trapicche wines come from selected vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.

From their early origins, they were ahead of his time. A beautiful precedent in Argentina, they are recognized to be a pioneer brand in many aspects. These include the introduction of french varietals, elaboration of mono varietals wine and the introduction of french oak barrels from Nancy, France. They also were one of the first to use stainless steel tanks and the employment of international wine consultants.

Sergio Eduardo Casé | Segundo Enólogo

This international approach is reflected in the background of Sergio Case, one of the senior winemakers of Trapiche. Mr. Case brings a solid international experience having worked in Bordeaux, Champagne, Chateauneuf du Pape, Tuscany and Napa Valley. Regularly, Sergio and his staff organize tasting of the best international wines against the Trapiche wines, to see how they measure. In our meeting, he told me that Trapiche wants to focus on wines that can compete in the international premium market.

Pure Malbec 2015. SAQ # 12823397. $16.60. Phillippe Dandurand Wines. The entry level of Trapiche has shown remarkable improvement and is verry competitive on an international event. A youthful nose of black fruits, leather with subtle nuances of licorice and smoke. It is very polished in the mouth with remarkable juicy tannins.

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Medalla Malbec 2014 ( Private Importation, $20.95). Philippe Dandurand Wine. A graceful and elegant Malbec. On the nose, mint, graphite and gunpowder. Ripe blue and black fruit with a slight hint of barnyard nuances. Full body with muscular tannins and a great acidity. Racy and  long in the mouth.

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Imperfecto 2011 ( Private Importation, $60). Philippe Dandurand Wine. Definitely, a wine that can show a great showmanship that Malbec can achieve in Argentina. A powerful core  of black fruits, laced with vanilla, licorice and spices. Dense, with a nice oak frame, almost chewy with juicy acidity and puckering tannins.  Starting to open now but with will benefit from a decade in the cellar.

Wines of Argentina event highlights

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Argentina is one of the largest countries in the world and is blessed with a dry and continental climate. They are the 7th largest world  wine cosumer and the 5th world’s largest wine producer. They have a cultivated surface of 224,707.43 hectares with 4 winemaking wine regions that include the northern group, Cuyo, Mendoza and Patagonia. By 2016, there were 413 exporting wineries with 936$ million in total exports and 360$ million in liters. 65% of the production is consumed domestically and 35% is exported.

On this post, I will focus only on the Malbec bottles. In a future, I will explore the other varietals. Here are my best picks:

Zuccardi:

Like Trapiche, A visionary family in the Argentinian wine industry. One of the few companies to have a research and development team to keep abreast with the latest wine trends and to study their terroir.

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Concreto 2015 ( Private Import, $44.50). Elixirs vins et spiriteux. A fresher style of Malbec. On the nose, rasperry with violet confit petals. Also some lead pencil and graphite. Full body, bright and long with a delicate mineral finish.

Finca Las Moras:

Located in San Juan, Las moras went through a vineyard restructuring by leading consultant Richard Smart. Las moras focuses in microgrowing with a strict respect to their environment and the Argentinian Terroir

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Mora Negra 2014 ( Private Import, $30). Univins & Spiriteux.  A modern yet fine interpretation of Malbec. Creamy dark fruit with vanilla and valhrona chocolate. Sweet tasting and elegant.

Familia Schroeder:

Schroeder is a small family domaine situated in Patagonia, the last frontier of Argentinian wine. Their wines is a labor of love, in an extreme land with a dry a land and infinite horizons.

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Saurus Select Malbec 2016 ( Private Import, $22.50)

On the nose, ripe red currants with roasted herbs.  Polished with flavors consistent with the nose. Spiciy and elegant with long tannins.

El Esteco:

In the paradise lost of Calchaqui, one of the rarest places in the world lies El Esteco state. Founded in 1982, by two french inmigrants, they craft elegant wines in high altitude vineyards ( 1800 meters).

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Don David Reserve Malbec 2015. SAQ #  11156043. $16.95

On the nose,  bright aromas of violets, ripe black fruits and fall spices
Full body with a silky palate and a nice acidity offering notes of blackberries, blueberries and cherries. Oak is well integrated with a medium to long finale.

 

 

 

Faces of Chilean wine-Part I: Errazuriz wine estates.

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In my early days of wine drinking, Chilean wines were more of an afterthought. Those were the wines that drank when I did not have any more money. I remember drinking with fondness Gato Negro , Casillero del Diablo and Frontera. They were simple, yet delicious. In those early formative years, I thought that the spectrum of possibilities for Chilean wines was limited under the $12 bracket.

As the years passed on, my knowledge of Chilean expanded considerably. My first taste of premium Chilean wines was Almaviva, the joint venture, between Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Concha y Toro. It was kind of like a Pauillac with a latin groove.

In my subsequent holiday trips to Venezuela, I discovered Don Melchor and Montes as well. In the early 2000’s, Venezuela was an important market for Chilean wines. I bought a lot of Don Melchor over there.

In an series of two post, I will share some of the wine estates that are positioning Chile in the premium wine category. On this posts, I will discuss some of the wines of Errazuriz and in a later posts the wines of Vina San Pedro.

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Not long ago, I had a chance to encounter Maria Luisa Errazuriz, marketing director of Vina Errazuriz, Caliterra and Vinedo Chadwick. Maria was passing in Montreal. The tasting took place in the offices of their Canadian Importer Philippe Dandurand. In a candid presentation and tasting, she describe the efforts of her family to specialize in Chilean premium wines and spread the gospel that image that Chile has more to offer than inexpensive wines.

The story of Errazuriz goes back to 1870 when Don Maximiano Errazuriz founded the estate in the Aconcagua Valley A man ahead of his time, he planted the first french grape varieties, In less than a decade his wines were among the best of the world. His motto was ” De la mejor tierra, el mejor vino”. This translate as ” from the best land, the best wine”

The Aconcagua Valley is one of the key wine growing areas of Chile. Only 100km north-west of Chile’s capital, Santiago, the Aconcagua Valley is an amazing wine spot. The name ‘Aconcagua’ means ‘Stone Sentinel’ in the ancient native language, and the valley is named after the mountain which constitute  its eastern border, which at 6962m high, is the highest peak of the Andes, and the highest as well in America.

The Valle de Aconcagua itself is very warm  and becomes fierce hot further inland. Moving far east, ideal conditions can be found for red wine production. Some of the best sites are on well-drained slopes, quite rare in Chile

In researching this post, I found many  important historical precedents that  bear witness to the contribution of Errazuriz to the Chilean wine industry. For instance, in 1993, the family were one of the pioneers of the introduction of Syrah in Aconcagua Valley. The climax of this proyect took form in the cumbre bottling which come from mountain syrah from the Aconcagua Valley. A good mixture of crispy whites and full bodied, intense reds are produced

Ten years after,  when Carmenere was identified in Chile,  Errazuriz did it again by  launching  one of the first ultra premium Carmenere based wine, Kai which means plant in aboriginal Chilean language. Kai took the International wine market by storm, receiving important accolades and the 2006 vintage was a winner in the Berlin Tasting 2010 in New York.

In 1995, Errazuriz were the first Chilean winery to establish an international joint venture. Following the lines of Opus One in California, Sena wine was a collaboration between Eduardo Chadwick, president of Errazuriz and the late Robert Mondavi. The objective was to create a Chilean grand cru in the Aconcagua Valley.

Errazuriz Wine States tasting notes

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Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay 2016. SAQ #  12531394 . $22.95

( 100 % Chardonnay. 10 months aging in second and third hand french barriques)

Medium intensity nose. Aromas of Italian pear, lemon jelly with a touch of blanched almond. With aeration in the glass, aromas of chamomille and acacia appear. On the mouth, it is a dry with a medium acidity and flavour intensity. Creamy texture. Stone orchard fruit flavours with fennel leading towards a gunflint finale. A very good Aconcagua Chardonnay. Pair it with a grilled tuna steak and mango salsa.

Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2016. SAQ # 12611036. $24.95-LCBO # 541151. $24.95

( 100 % Pinot Noir. 11 months aging in french oak, 15% new and 75% of second and third hand. The remainder 10% in concrete eggs vessel)

Medium plus intensity nose. Aromas of Rhubarb, cherry and grenadine syrup. Furthermore, licorice with nuances of Pimiento del Piquillo peppers and a brigth note of vanilla bean. On the palate, medium to full body with pronounced raspberry flavours and aromatic notes of menthol and eucalyptus. Medium acidity with ripe and soft tannins. Very fine and balanced wine. Pairing suggestions include game dishes or pastas with mushrooms.

Aconcagua Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. SAQ # 13394766. $22.05-LCBO # 203364. $21.95

( 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 12 months aging in french oak. 20% new)

Medium intensity nose. Fruity in nature bringing to mind, leafy blackberry fruit with peppermint and black peppercorns as well. On the palate, full body with ripe and fine tannins. Satiny texture with flavors bringing to mind cedar and licorice. An impressive effort for a Chilean Cabernet at this price range. Pairing well with grilled red meats dishes.

Aconcagua Don Maximiano 2014. SAQ # 11396557. $84.00-LCBO # 396333. $84.95

( 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Carmenere, 9% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. 20 months aging in french oak, 70% new)

Pronounced intensity nose. Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon aromas bringing to mind cassis, black plums, tobacco leaf and graphite. On the palate, full body with fine grained but muscular tannins and a medium acidity. Very complex notes bringing to mind tar, menthol and the classic smell of cigar box typical of fine Cabernet based wines. An stunning wine illustrating the potential of Chilean wines in the ultrapremium category. Will have anytime this wine with a rack of lamb.

Aconcagua La Cumbre 2014. SAQ # 11891101. $93.00.

( 100% Syrah. 22 months aging in french oak, 50% new)

A nose with very well pronounced aromas. Spicy dark fruits with a plethora of game notes as well as cocoa and vanilla bean. On the mouth, full body with a creamy texture Fine grained tannins and a medium acidity. Flavors that bring to mind, wild rosemary, oregano and violets. A very firm and long finale. Pair it with game dishes such as deer, or lamb.

Aconcagua Kai 2014. SAQ # 12051411. $140.75

( 95 % Carmenere, 5% Syrah. 22 months aging in french oak. 70% new)

Pronounced and complex nose. Bright leafy red fruit with alluring notes of grilled red bell pepper and tomatillo. On the mouth, full body with a lavish and creamy texture. Elegant with satiny tannins, flavors bring to mind spanish paprika, cumin and a complex floral side. A grand wine, fantastic to enjoy now but can be kept in the cellar for a decade or more. Pair it with empanadas of confit de canard.

Sena wine

The word Sena means signal in Spanish, and this wine was conceived to send a message to the world that Chile was capable of world class terroir wines.

Always a  red Bordeaux blend since its first vintage in 1995, the wine is born  from vineyards located  on north-east facing hillsides in Aconcagua. The location was well thought, for the finesse and balance to be accentuated in this wine Cabernet Sauvignon accounted for 50% of the wine, but the blend also has  varying proportion of Carménère among other varieties, to impart a native Chilean signature.

The wine is a protagonist in the so called Berlin Tastings. These are series of Tastings where Sena and other premium wines of Errazuriz are blind tasted again its peers such as Solaia, Tignanello and Sassicaia as well as Chateau Latour and Margaux.

The first vintage of Sena that I tried was the 2008. A ravishing wine with notes of cohiba cigar, dark chocolate, black currants and spices. Mesmerizing with powerful tannins, yet presented in a silky palate.

I recently tasted the 2014 ( SAQ # 13098393, $195.25 for the 2013 vintage).  in a trade tasting. I found it fresher and vibrant. The nose was more into bright black fruits, licorice, fennel and red currants. On the palate, there was more finesse and balance, still powerful but with a feminine quality to it much like a Chateau Margaux. It is a very graceful wine.

 

The wines of Cave Spring Cellars

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The quiet town of Jordan is the headquarters of one Canada’s landmark winery: Cave Spring Cellars. During my recent family vacation in Ontario, I could not miss the opportunity to get intimate with some of their iconic wines.

The history of Cave Spring Cellars go back to the early 1920’s when Giuseppe Pennachetti from his hometown in Fermo, Italy, to work as a mason building Niagara’s Welland Canal. After building a up a succesful trade with his family, he retired and concentrated on his passion: wine.

During the early years, Giuseppe worked with the vitis labrusca grapes but the breaktrough came when the European varieties were implemented.  In the late 70’s, the Pennachettis were among the earliest producers to plant Riesling and Chardonnay vines on the Niagara Peninsula, helping to pioneer this Canadian wine region.

At Cave Spring, varietal whites wines take the lion’s share of production ( 78% versus 22% ). The winery specializes in Riesling which accounts for 55% of the white wine production. The rest is 16% Chardonnay, 4% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Gewürztraminer
1% Pinot Gris.

The Rieslings that I have tasted reflect a so called ” Canadian Terroir “. Difficult to point out, they style falls somewehere between Alsace and Friuli Venezia Giula. For the level of quality prices are quite modest.

The reds are a modest and confidential production. The 22% can be broken down as follow: 12% Cabernet Franc/Merlot 6% Pinot Noir and 4% Gamay.

All the reds were outstanding but my heart was won over the Cabernet Franc bottlings. It was a revelation. My impression was that in Chinon wine country in the Loire.

Canadian wines continue to surprise me and I am looking foward to continue tasting and drinking them more. 

Stay tuned for more updates!!!

Wines Tasted

Brut Blanc de Blancs Non Vintage

( Traditional method vinification, Chardonnay sourced from Niagara Escarpment.  Fermentation and aging sur lie in bottle for a minimum of 30 months prior to disgorging )

Bright pear and zesty citrus aromas with white nectarines as well.  On the mouth, medium to full body with a delicate nuance of almond tart Bright, palate cleansing. Lovely mineral texture with an exceptional lenght.

Whites

riesling set

Riesling 2015 VQA Niagara Peninsula

Fruit originanting from specific vineyard sites: 58% Lincoln Lakeshore; 48% Beamsville Bench. Combination of soils from stony clay to red shale and sandstone)

Intriguing nose with Japanese pear, white plums, and tangerines with the tyical petrol notes of Riesling. Bright acidity with precise flavours of lime and chalk. An harmonious and subdued wine

Riesling Dolomite 2015 VQA Niagara Escarpment

(  Dolomite is named after the dolomitic limestone, particular to the Niagara Escarpment. Calcareous soils type in gentle slops)

A blast of minerality on the nose. Naftaline, silex with lots of flint. Medium body. Crispy texture, with rich tropical flavours balanced by the wine zesty acidity.

Riesling Adam Steps 2015

( Adam Steps is a single vineyard located in a hill above the niagara escarpmet. Comprised of 38 years old Riesling in a soil of stony clay, limestone and dolostone mixed with sandstone, shale and small amounts of granite and gneiss)

 Complex nose bringing to mind cream soda and madagascar vanilla bean complemented by musk,honey and chinese mandarine peel. Fresh and delicate with underlying mineral nuances. Delicate with a long floral aftertaste. 

Cave Spring 2015 Riesling CSV VQA Beamsville Bench

( Provenance of the Cave Spring Vineyard featuring soils rich in limestone. Oldest Riesling vines of the estate)

 The nose display nuances of chalk, white nectarines and  lemon curd. On the mouth, dry  and very structured. Fleshy and intense with a great aging potential.

chardo

Chardonnay Musque Estate 2015 VQA Beamsville Bench

( Made with the Musqué clone of Chardonnay, the fruit coming from the Cave Spring Vineyard. A mix of stoney, rich limestone and clay soils)

 On the nose, elegant notes of vanilla, pear gelee and nutmeg spice. . Dry, full body and very fleshy. Spicy with a racy character. 

2014 Chardonnay VQA Beamsville Bench

(  Fruit origins from hillside vineyards along the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Lake Ontario-limestone rich clay, sandstone and shale. -90% Chardonnay, 10% Chardonnay Musqué) 

 On the nose buttery and yeasty with fruit underneath bringing to mind  dry apricot. Full body. dry and earthy wih a lip smacking acidity.  Very elegant on the palateThe finale brings tomind complex earthy and floral nuances.

2015 Chardonnay Estate VQA Beamsville Bench

( 84% Chardonnay and 16% Chardonnay Musqué)

 More luscious than the 2014. Buttery, with  ripe nectarine, pear, apricot and  toasty oak. On the mouth, very crisp, harmonious and quite elegant. Beautiful floral schematics at the end. 

2014 Chardonnay CSV VQA Beamsville Bench

( Old fruit from the Cave Spring Vineyard. 92% Chardonnay, 8% Chardonnay Musqué)

More Burgundian than new world. Floral with  a wax bee alike feeling. Nectarines as well as butterscotch. On the mouth, elegant with a creamy mouthwatering texture. Very long and elegant. Nice aging potential ( 5-10 years)

Reds

reds

Gamay 2015 VQA Beamsville Bench

( 100% Gamay from the Cave Spring Vineyard. Aging in a mix of French, Hungarian and American oak barriques)

On the nose, aromas reminiscent of licorice with leafy black currant fruit. Peppery as well with ripe red  cherry flavours. Medium body and  very fragant with a  nice medium acidity and soft tannins. 

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Pinot Noir 2015 VQA Beamsville Bench

( Pinot Noir from diverse vineyards along the Niagara Escarpment. 87% Pinot Noir, 13 Gamay. Aging of 13 months in 85% old french iak and 15 % new)

 Delightful nuances of spearmint and eucalyptus lead to cool  ripe berry undertones. Medium to Full body. Nice elegance to it

Pinot Noir 2015 Estate VQA Beamsville Bench

( Selected Pinot fruit from the Cave Spring Vineyard. 100 % Pinot Noir. Aging consist in a mix of different ages of oak barrels)

 On the nose dense ripe black chewy fruit bringing to mind a Cote de Nuits Bourgogne. Lovely spicy and balsamic feeling as well.  Full body with caressing tannins and sultry elegance to it.

Cabernet Franc 2015 Dolomite VQA Niagara Escarpment

( Terroir of dolomitic limestone forming the crest of the Niagara Escarpment.  The origins are 85.5% Beamsville Bench, 14.5% Lincoln Lakeshore .  Grape blend is 85.5% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aging is in a mix of older French, Hungarian and American oak barriques ) 

Lovely vegetal nose ( swiss chard come to mind) In addition plums, tobacco leaf with lots of spice. Very fresh. enveloping your mouth. nice chewyness at the end of the palate. blows my mind.

2015 Cabernet Franc Estate VQA Beamsville Bench

( 100% Cabernet Franc from the Cave Spring Vineyard. Aging  using a mix of 48% Hungarian and 52% French oak. Overall, 32% of the barrels were new.  )

Elegant nose of ripe red currant and blackberries. Cigar box. Almost a meaty quality to it. On the mouth, dry, long and very racy. Very elegant as well with caressing tannins

 

A mixed case of wine for the fall

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As we enter in September, slowly it starts to cool down. The sun still warms our days, but at night we feel a gentle temperature chill. As in a vineyard, the tree leaves will turn golden colour giving us a marvelous kaleidoscope of colours. Please give a warm welcome to the fall season.

As a wine lover and foodie, fall is my favorite season. It is the time of grape harvesting in many European wine regions-although advancing at a alarmous rate in recent years. The birth of a new wine.

squash

In Canada, the markets are full of colourful produce. Squashes, apples are some of the items that we commonly see. Lets not forget also mushrooms and new potatoes. A walk through a market is a feast for the senses.

We shift our drinking and eating habits towards the rich and the comforting. It is the season of fuller wines and slow cooked meals.Basically, we are seeking refuge in our plate and glass. Nothing is better that the smell of Pot au Feu or a boeuf bourguignon when you come home after a long day. Now, if you do not have any idea on how to do one, here is a video from and old cooking show, The French Chef, led by the late Julia Child. Julia introduced to the American public, the wonderful food of french cuisine.

Another set of dishes that I enjoy eating in the fall are baked pastas. I love a nice tray of baked rigatoni in a tomato sauce with ground beef and lots of cheese grated in the oven. Again, if you do not what to make, here is a video of  stuffed baked shells by Lidia Bastianich. Like Julia, Lidia brought a lot of attention of Italian cooking to  Americans.

I have put out a modest selection of wines to prep you for the transition of full fall weather. There is choice in most colours: white, rose and red. If you live in Quebec, I highly recommend buying them online via saq.com. For my other Canadian readers, visit their respective liquor board web pages. For the rest of the world: winesearcher.com

I will update the list as we enter more in the fall season. For now, think of this as a survival case for introduction to fall.

Happy drinking and keep tuned.

Last Call for roses:

Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel 2016. ( Provence, France). SAQ # 11416984. $25.85

On the nose, aromas that bring to mind cantaloupe, raspberry with complex floral tonalites. On the mouth, dry and very elegant. Well balanced with flavors that bring to mind lavender and dry rose and violet petals. Very chic wine. Food Idea: fish soup, seafood rice.

Round and curvy whites 

Rocca delle Macìe Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2016 ( Tuscany, Italy). SAQ # 00731570 . $16.10

Pretty nose bringing to mind citrus, verbena and fresh wild herbs. Dry with a crisp finale a and a finale that brings to mind honey-dew melon. Food Idea: Oysters or risotto with zucchini.

Inama Soave Classico 2016 ( Soave, Italy). SAQ #  00908004. $19.15

Very aromatic with exuberant tropical citrus fruit and a subdued floral side. On the mouth, in a riper Soave style yet quite elegant. Food Idea: Spaghetti squash with butter and sage.

Les Domaines Paul Mas Côté Mas Blanc Méditerranée 2016. SAQ #  13289510. $11.45

An honest and straightforward white. Clean aromas of pear, white peaches and mediterranean herbs. On the mouth, very tasteful with juicy fruity flavors. Food Idea: Oven breaded cod fillets with garlic creamy mashed potatoes.

Reds for those hearty dishes:

Château Beau-Site 2012. Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux. SAQ # 10696021 . $39.75

On the nose, mocha, cacao with blackcurrant fruit and red bell peppers. On the palate, a nice polished texture with firm yet austere tannins. Food Idea: Rib steak Bordeaux style with a generous portion of french fries.

Rocca delle Macìe Roccato 2010.( Tuscany, Italy). SAQ # 10254514. $43.75

A very fine noble bouquet. Interplay of cassis, black pepper, smoke and leather with complex earthy nuances. On the mouth, very fine and long with a caressing finale. Food idea: Tagliatelle with wild mushrooms.

Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles Barossa Valley 2015. ( Barossa, Australia). SAQ #  12818230. $30.25

Concentrated nose of blueberry and black currants. On the mouth, lots of power and depth featuring flavors that bring to mind eucalyptus, anis and lavender. Enjoyable but very new world in style. Food Idea: Lamb tajine with prunes.

Château Bujan 2014. ( Cotes de Bourg, Bordeaux). SAQ # 00862086. $21.05

An excellent Bordeaux with an unbeatable price. Aromas of cigar box, black plums, Cassis and wood. On the mouth, earthy with notes of clay, vanilla and cocoa. Crunchy tannins. This can age well. Food idea: Entrecote Bordelaise.

pacalet

Pacalet-Lapierre Cousins Juliénas 2016 ( Julienas, Beaujolais). SAQ # 13286802. $29.20

Smelling like summer vacations in the countryside. Strawberry, bing cherries  with a generous amount of violets.Generous and long with  silky tannins and a sweet finale. Food Idea: Coq au vin

Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2016 ( Morgon, Beaujolais). SAQ # 11305344. $32.25

Very fun nose. Violets, blackberry with hints of anis and BBQ spices. Round, generous. with a velvety palate. Profound with fine tannins. Food Idea: Roast beef with cipollini onions.

Champagne to forget about the dark cloudy days.

perrier

Laurent-Perrier Brut. SAQ # 00340679. $63.25

On the nose, nuances of yeasty bread, brioche and ground cherries. On the mouth, quite elegant with a refreshing aftertaste. Food Idea: Blanquette veau

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé. SAQ # 00158550. $100.

A small luxury quite affordable. Bright nose bringing to mind watermelon, raspberry and pink grapefruit. Refreshing and delicate with a long caressing finale. Food Idea: slow roasted chicken, creamy risotto with peas and guanciale

 

Grandes vinos del Rodano-Una breve introducción a las denominaciones del Norte

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Cornas

Hay algo en los grandes vinos franceses que a veces desorienta al público en general: los grandes vinos de las mejores zonas nunca llevan el nombre de ésta en la etiqueta. Tampoco existen los conceptos de crianza, reserva, gran reserva, tan familiares en los vinos españoles y en algunos vinos chilenos y argentinos. Entremos entonces,de norte a sur, en ese mundo fascinante y, a la vez, desconcertante: el vino del Ródano.

Los vinos franceses están valorizados más en cuanto a procedencia: las denominaciones de origen son pequeñas, y debido a eso existe una gran variedad. Por ejemplo un burdeos bueno se llama Pomerol, St. Emilion o Pauillac y que un excelente borgoña puede ser un Puligny, Meursault, Vosne-Romanée o Nuits-St.-Georges. ¿Pero, y el Ródano?. Esta es una zona menos conocida. En mi último viaje a la región a principios de abril tuve la oportunidad de familiarizarme de nuevo con los vinos de la región.

En la gran feria de vino (découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2017) que se realiza cada dos años, tuve la oportunidad de degustar los vinos del norte y sur del Ródano.

Aunque los vinos del Rhône son usualmente agrupados juntos, en realidad la región se divide en dos distritos: Norte y Sur. En esta ocasión vamos a ver primeramente la principales comunas que conforman el distrito Norte (Côte Rotie, Condrieu y Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage). En otra ocasión, exploraremos los vinos de la parte sur (Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Luberon, etc).

Cote Rotie Guigal

Vinedos Cote Rotie Guigal

Côte-Rôtie

La Appellation Côte-Rôtie Protégée, es la más septentrional del distrito Norte, este vino, conjuntamente con el Hermitage, constituyen los vinos más robustos y longevos de Francia.Côte-Rôtie. Côte-Rôtie sólo produce vinos tintos y la denominación tiene una superficie de 307 hectáreas. En 2016, la producción fue de 12,589 hectolitros y el 23% de su producción fue al extranjero

Côte Rôtie, que se puede traducir por la ribera tostada o asada, es un pequeña montaña de escarpadas laderas. También hay parte del viñedo plantado en llano, que suele ser más productivo y de menor calidad. Es una de las denominaciones que ha crecido más en los últimos años, ocupando en la actualidad unas 200 hectáreas su viñedo, cuando hace 40 años se reducía a poco más de 50

Los vinos son elaborados a partir de la variedad Syrah, mezclada con entre un 2 y un 20% de una uva blanca llamada Viognier, ambas vinificadas juntas. La Viognier es la uva de la acidez, aroma y elegancia, la Syrah es la uva del sabor, la fruta y el tanino, razón por la cual es mezclada

Algunos de los mejores productores de Cote Rotie incluyen René Rostaing, Jean-Luc Jamet, , Gérin, Ogier y Yves Gangloff. Quien no haya sentido el perfume de un Côte Rôtie, no sabe lo que se pierde: notas ahumadas, de aceituna negra, tocino, especias, violetas y frutos negros. Son unos vinos muy carnosos y con gran potencial de envejecimiento.

Villard-Condrieu

Vinas en Condrieu de Francois Villard

Condrieu

Condrieu, con unas 191 hectáreas de viñedo, es la cuna de la gran blanca conocida por viognier. En Condrieu solo se producen vinos blancos. Los líderes de esta apelación son Yves Cuilleron y el recien fallecido Georges de Vernay.

Boileau, el gran poeta francés decía que el Condrieu puede “alegrar el corazón”.Lamartine, el político de la segunda república francesa contaba también que el Condrieu “calentaba los sesos”. Georges Vernay fue el presidente de la denominación durante 30 años. Con él, Condrieu recuperó por fin la fama que merecía de un gran vino. En esta región, los aromas de albaricoque, en ocasiones de violeta y de flor blanca de viognier se ven contrarrestados por una intensidad y una mineralidad que aportan a esta cepa toda su razón de ser.

Chapoutier-Hermitage

Chapoutier-Hermitage

Hermitage

Hermitage ha sido de siempre un vino noble y de mucho renombre. De hecho, a principios del siglo XIX, era el vino más caro de Francia, superando incluso a los “premier crus” de Burdeos. Es más, se hacían “cuvées” especiales de los vinos de Burdeos mezclandolos con Hermitage tinto, dando lugar a los “Bordeaux Hermitagé”, que eran considerados superiores a los Burdeos normales.

La montaña de Hermitage, situada a la espalda del pueblo de Tain l’Hermitage (cuna a su vez de el chocolate, Valrhona), produce la totalidad de los vinos de la denominación, en unas 137 hectáreas. Hay tanto tintos como blancos. Syrah y un 15% máximo de uva blanca en los primeros, y marsanne y roussanne para los segundos son las castas autorizadas. Son vinos, que necesitan de largo tiempo en botella para mostrar todo su pedigree .Si me tendria que quedar con un solo productor, sería sin duda Chave. Otros nombres a destacar en Hermitage son los de Jaboulet, con su conocido La Chapelle, y Chapoutier, ampliamente alabado por la crítica internacional (sobre todo americana), lo que ha causado que sus precios suban excesivamente. Se produce también una pequeña cantidad de vino dulce, llamado “vin de paille” (vino de paja), ya que se dejan las uvas sobre cestas de paja para que se sequen y pasifiquen antes de hacer el vino.

Cornas y los otros

De Cornas, que tiene solamente unas 144 hectáreas, el decir era que producía “los vinos más bárbaros de Francia”. Aquí sólo es permitido 100% syrah. Los vinos son rústicos pero a la vez son sedosos y elegantes en el paladar, pero tampoco es para tanto. Los grandes lideres de Cornas han sido Auguste Clape y Thierry Allemand, seguido de cerca por Alain Voge. Otros productores interesantes incluyen Vincent Paris, Pierre Gaillard y Domaine du Coulet

Crozes-Hermitage y St. Joseph son zonas más grandes, 1637 hectáreas en Crozes, y unas 1213 en St. Joseph, con diferentes terrenos, con viñas en ladera, pero muchas otras en llano y en tierras más fértiles, por lo que la calidad es más variable. Se producen blancos y tintos (en mayoría absoluta), con las mismas variedades que en Hermitage: syrah, roussanne y marsanne. Es en general tierra de “negociants”, con precios más asequibles. Alain Graillot , Jaboulet y Delas producen buenos caldos en estas zonas.

Totalmente casi desconocida, al límite sur se encuentra St. Péray, al que Robert Parker llamaba “el Parque Jurásico del Ródano” en su obra “Wines of the Rhône Valley”, produce los únicos vinos espumosos de todo el valle con una muy pequena produccion.

Tawse winery tasting

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During a recent family vacation in Niagara Falls, I had the chance to discover and drink many Canadians wines. After a family visit to Niagara Falls, I visited briefly Niagara on the lake.

Winemaking in Niagara goes back as early as the 17th century when European settlers started experimenting with native grapes.  By prohibition, there were more than 60 wineries.  The early days of the industry were focused on the native grape varieties, such as Niagara, Concord and Catawba, which produced musty and funky wines.

However, Ontario’s wine industry took off in the mid 70’s when the Canadian government deregulatized the industry. This brought a plethora of experimentation with new winemaking techniques and saw the introduction of European grape varieties.

Bordered by Lake Ontario on the north, the Niagara River on the east and the Welland River and Hamilton to the south and west, the Niagara Peninsula is the largest and most diverse Viticultural Area in Canada.  

The escarpment was formed over 200,000 years ago by several several glacial and interglacial events that defined the geology of the area. The area is blessed with different soil compositions that include diferents sand and silts and layers of sedimemtary rock. The area is particularly conducive to grow cool grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Riesling and Chardonnay. However, more than 30 varieties are grown.

Niagara Peninsula  enjoys a cool climate with important variations between diurnal and nocturnal temperatures.  The peninsula has 10 sub-regional appellations and more than 55% of Ontario wineries are found there. Here we find Tawse, Malivoire and Cave spring winery, the states that I visited during my vacation.

Tawse is a family-owned organic and biodynamic winery, voted best Canadian winery, three years in a row ( 2010, 2011, 2012). 

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Out of his love for Burgundy and terroir , Moray Tawse created a state of the art winery  A fervent advocate of terroir, he crafts wines that do best on the escarpment. The winery is state of the art, boutique style. I was under the impression that everything was done with the most meticolous care.

 Time was limited during my tasting, so i tasted a staff selection. Overall, I was impressed with the wines. I am sure in a blind tasting, these wines could have pass for Burgundy and Bordeaux.

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Chardonnay 2012 Beamsville Bench VQA

 On the nose, nice herbal undertones and quite mineral driven. On the palate, flavours remind me of almond biscuit, butterscotch and white orchard fruit. Full body, fresh,  and quite enveloping in your mouth. Oak well integrated. Elegant. In a Burgudian style.

Tawse 2012 Chardonnay Twenty mile bench VQA

Totally different from the previous one. Bright nose with confit orange peel, peach and pear jam accents, Flinty and refreshing with a good backbone. Balanced in the oak at the finale.

Tawse 2015 Riesling Vinemount Ridge VQA

 On the nose, baked apple character, quince,  and membrillo dessert with touches of  mango. Crisp and very refreshing. Perfect  roundness with a  zesty acidity. Racy and harmonious.

Reds

Tawse Pinot Noir 2011 VQA Twenty Mile Bench

Dark cherry with  cocoa, old spice. sun dried tomato. showing some lovely tertiary aromas: mushrooms such as shitakee and porcini with the highest quality. Structured and elegant with ripe tannins. A very earthy finale reminding me of smoked beef jerky. 

Tawse Cabernet Franc 2012 VQA  Creek Shores

 Textbook cabernet franc nose. Nuances of  bell pepper, black plums and cocoa. Lavish  french oak undertones.  On the mouth, superb polished texture with smooth and silky tannins. Amazing cashmere finale.

Tawse Meritage 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula

A  bordeaux in disguise. Blackcurrant fruit, dark cherry, rasperry, licorice and chinese plum sauce. On the mouth,  racy and austere with quite the muscular tannins.