What’s in my glass lately?

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Time passes by fast. Too many wines , too little time. Here are some of the most memorable wines that I have drank recently in the past several weeks. As you will see, my selection is heavily Rhone oriented. I am a big fan of Rhone wines.

Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot 2011. Importer in Quebec: Oenopole

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One of the cult producers of Cornas, Allemand it is described as the sleeping beauty of the appellation. Until you try his wines, you will never know what Cornas is all about.

Sexy shades of granit syrah. Mind boggling black fruit notes with a lot of depth in the floral and animal registry. bouquet (bacon fat). From dry licorice to confit violets with very high strung peony notes On the palate, notes of smoke, star anise complemented by fine leather and complex animal notes.Fluid and silky, this wine is all about texture. If you have some in your cellar, wait a few years before opening a bottle because it stills has a story to tell. The ultimate in elegance. Keep it for the next 5-7 years to reach optimum maturity.

Philippe Bornard Ploussard Point Barre 2015 Cotes du Jura. Importer in Quebec: Glou

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It always feels like lovemaking when I drink a wine of Philippe Bornard, a Jura winemaker that I hold dear in my heart. A seducing wine that display sexy notes of red currant fruit with tones of red orange and tamed leather notes. On the mouth, very refreshing with a great acidity and a very alluring finale that hits a high note of old spice.

Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel La Dame Rousse 2016. Importer in Quebec: La Celeste Levure

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When it comes to rosé, the wines of Tavel are an oddysey to the dark side of the style, there are few roses in the world with such a deep colour.

Tavel only make rosée, not white or red. Only rose can carry the Tavel appellation designation. Many producers make ends meet by making white and red wines in close by appellation that permits them such as Lirac or Chateauneuf-du-Pape. More full-bodied than most roses, Grenache and Cinsault are the key grapes in Tavel, though Syrah, Mourvedre, Picpoul, Calitor, Carignan, Bourbolenc and Clairette are also allowed.

Fine nose of macerated red berries ( cranberries, cherry, strawberry come to mind) wrapped in garrique notes. Deep and concentrated with a beautiful acidity. Zesty flavours of blood orange withan oily texture and  long finish

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Jean Francois Jacouton 2015 Saint-Joseph Souvenirs d’Andre. 

I discovered this wonderful producer last year when I went to Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône. Jacouton is a young winemaker making wine in the region since 2010. His white St-Joseph is one of the best that I have ever tried combining finesse, elegance and structure. Also, it has terrific aromas of flavors of cream, roasted almond and brigth peaches. I am looking foward to continue to try wines from this producer and I hope one day he will be represented in Quebec.

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Eric Pfifferling, L’Anglore 2013 Lirac. Importer in Quebec: Glou

L’Anglore was one of the first natural wines that I have ever tried.  This is the boutique proyect of Eric  Pfiffferling who is installed in Tavel between Avignon and Uzés. In 1988 Eric Pfifferling got an offer from his aunt to take over 4ha old vignes in the heart of Tavel. This was his change of career  from beekeeper to winegrower. In the initial phase he brought his harvest to the Tavel cooperative. However, It was in 2002 that he try  his hand at vinification himself for the first time.

Eric coplants in his property Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette and Carignan something that is rare to see in the appellation. Eric strives to make natural wines that are the result of minimal oenological intervention. The soil is cultivated without using weed killers. It is picked manually and the harvest is delivered to the domain in small containers.After a pre-fermentation maceration without de-fermentation and by using only their own yeast cells, the grapes ferment in open wooden cuves without the addition of sulphite and enzymes.

The wines are not filtered and the wines have minimum sulfur. The result is soft, seductive and charming wines full of subtlety and finesse. Some of his cuvées flirt with a perfume of honey and flowers, a nod to his previous life. This Lirac 2013 opened up recently  from my cellar was just stunning. The precision and purity of fruit is incredible with an incredible texture. There is something mystical on the wines of L’Anglore. There is nothing that resembles that in the appellation.

The sad news is that the thirst for L’anglore is incredible high and is near impossible to find bottles. If you wish to receive an allocation, it is a miracle. I am keeping my last bottles for me and some of my close colleagues

Cheers!!!

 

 

 

Wine & Bread pairings

On a previous post in last december, I discussed what to drink with a Chocolatine, which is a viennoiserie, a product that overlaps the fields of bakery and pastry. In today’s post, I will try to propose different wine pairings for other baked goods. It is my opinion that you should not be limited to drink just coffee when munching on a delicious bread.

By the way, for those readers that are visiting my blog for the first time, I am a wine blogger as well as a bakery student. Presently, I am doing a 4 week  internship in Boulangerie St-Viateur in Joliette. It is my last requirement to complete my baking degree.

If you are having guests, you probably put a lot of time planning your menu, right down to the side dishes and the cheese. But when you are preparing your wine pairings, don’t forget about the bread. Even if you’re not having a party, tearing a nice hunk of bread off  a fresh loaf can be a pretty awesome after-work snack. Add the right wine, and it’s a little party in your mouth.

As a general rule of thumb, choose a lighter bread to go with a  lighter wine, and  a heavy bread with a more complex wines.  Remove very Acidic wines from  your list of pairings, at least in terms of breads, simply because they typically do not do well with the texture of most breads, as well as  the yeast. Of course, as always, there’s an exception to this rule: when you’re having cheese with that bread as well; then the cheese’s flavor profile will have to be taken into account too. But I am not talking about cheese and wine pairings specifically.

Here are some of my proposed pairings:

 

Croissants

There is nothing that symbolizes more  luxury than Champagne and Croissants. If you are looking to brunch in style on sunday, definitely you need to have both. A buttery plain croissant goes well with the acidity of a champagne. One of my favorite Champagnes all of time is the Ayala Brut Majeur ( SAQ # 11553137, $58.75). Fine and elegant with lovely floral undertones, it might be just bliss with a warm just baked flaky croissant.

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Brioche

My fetish bakery product, Brioche has many applications in gastronomy and can take many forms. A brioche is a type of bread rich in eggs and butter with an aerial mouthfeel and slighty creamy and sweet taste. A brioche is delicate and tender and I like to match it with Champagne as well. Not long ago, I topped a brioche with cream cheese and smoked salmon and had it with a glass of Ayala as well. The match was bliss, the saltiness of the fish counterbalanced by the sweetness of the Brioche and washed away by the Champagne.

Baguette and Fougasse

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If you’ve got a crusty French baguette, which will be mild in flavor and not acidic like sourdough, a sancerre might be the perfect complement. The Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2016 ( SAQ # 528687, $26.80) is lovely with its zesty citric aromas and soft herbal nuances. Fresh and very harmonious with a long finale.

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My wife is big fan is of rosé. She likes to make croutons out of bread to serve as a snack with a glass of pink wine. She always tell me that some days she’ll use a mild-tasting whole wheat baguette , or for something stronger a rosemary focaccia. Also, fougasse kalamata olive  crisps, with their tender white crumb and heady olive scent, go great with hummus and rosé.

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Next time I will make a fougasse, I will match it with the Régine Sumeire Pétale de Rose ( SAQ # 425496, $19.65). The 2016 was lovely  displaying aromas of crushed tangerines and red oranges as well. Elegant and sumptuous showcasing beautiful floral flavours with a delicate finale.

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Specialty Breads

Bread with raisins or with dry fruit and nuts, or anything slightly sweet and sour wash nicely with a  riesling. I think that the mild  sweetness of the wine will bring out  the raisin flavours upfront  and will create a balanced sensation in the palate. Not too long ago, I paired successfully  a hazelnut raisin roll with a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling 2016 ( SAQ # 10685251, $15.60). slight sweet and floral, it has the tartness and minerality typical of the Mosel region in Germany. Its mineral notes accentuated well the roasted halzenut character of the bread.

 

Finally, if you love having a glass of port from time, you need to pair it with a delicious cheese bread.  Every Friday, at the bakery with do a multi cheese and pungent bread Just taking a whiff will you leave you exhilarated from head to toes. I tried this cheese with the Sandeman Porto Tawny 20 years old ( SAQ #  13559655, $59.75). A lovely port with aromas of roasted hazelnuts, butterscotch and Madagascar vanilla. On the mouth, very elegant with flavors of dried apricots. Beautiful balance between sweetness and acidity leading to a velvety finale.

Value drinking lies in the wine cooperative

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Roquebrun

In France every region has their own wine cooperative, called cave. In the south of France, you can find caves in almost every village, large or small. Some of the best value French wines that you can find in the SAQ are actually made in a cooperative. I recently had a chance to revisit two of the flagship wines of Cave de Roquebrun, an important co-operative in St Chinian. In an impressive vertical tasting lead by Alain Rogier, director and winemaker, I tasted vintages as far as 1994 to 2014. The tasting was an important opportunity to corroborate that a co-op is quite capable of making ageworthy wines that can also be affordable. For this special  occasion, I was invited by its importer AOC & Cie in Quebec.

In France, wine cooperatives were born in the late 1800s, mostly out of economic necessity, and continue to flourish today. A wine cooperative essentially consists of a physical site with winemaking facilities and a wine store. During the harvest period, local farmers bring grapes from their land and either make their own wine, or pool their fruit together with those of their neighbors to make a local wine. There are more growers than winemakers and not every grower has the desire, skill or finances to be a winemaker. Growers then hire or designate a winemaker who utilizes the wine cave’s equipment and resources. The winemaker selects the best grapes grown under optimal conditions and crafts a wine with the input of the collective, displaying the best qualities of the region’s grapes and land. The wine is then sold by the cooperative, with proceeds shared proportionately among the growers.

Lets put in perspective the importance of the wine cooperative in the French wine industry. A recent article in Forbes Magazine ( Cooperative Wine, Catching On and Catching Up) states that ” In France 65% of all independent wine growers (grape farmers / wine producers) belong to a wine cooperative. That does not quite mean that 65% of all wine is made by cooperatives since many growers do a bit of both: bottle their own wine while also being part of a cooperative”. The Coop is a big business player producing making rougly half of the french wine production in France (Source: Confédération des Coopératives Vinicoles de France)

In the Languedoc Rousillon, there are 200 wine co-operatives that holds 150,000 ha of vineyard with a production of 9,000,000 wine hectolitres ( Source: Coop de France-Languedoc Rousillon). In 2014, the whole region produced 11.7 million hectolitres of wine, so the co-op contribution of the output is an impressive 76 % ( Source: Languedoc Wines)

The history of Roquebrun goes back to the 19th and 20th century. At the beginning the enterprise focused on vinegrowing until 1967 when they officially formed the coop. There are about 150 members which all together hold 650 ha of vineland in poor schist soils of the St-Chinian appellation. The co-op production is an impressive 3 million bottle and wine box per year. Roquebrun exports to USA, Canada, China, Belgium and Japan.

The favourable climate and soils of the appellation allow Roquebrun to grow Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Carignan for the reds and Grenache Blanc and Viognier for the whites. They make wines under the Saint-Chinian Roquebrun appellation as well as the regional IGP’s ( Pays d’Oc and Haute Vallée de L’Orb). The village of Roquebrun enjoys a very favorable microclimate that allows besides wine, orange culture, lemon and tangerine trees in the ground, that produce citrus harvest for local consumption. This ideal climatic conditions have earned Roquebrun being nicknamed “the little Nice of Herault” and makes it a tourist mecca of the Orb Valley.

Cave de Roquebrun uses diverse vinification techniques for their wines including Carbonic Maceration and extensive oak program for their premium cuvves. All the grapes are harvested by hand and there is a meticulous grape selection program. After bottling, the wines are stored underground in a semi controlled temperature cellar until they are ready to be exportes. This method maintains the wine freshness and protect the bottles from temperature variation.

It is important to mention that Cave de Roquebrun is the largest specialist of Carbonic Maceration in the region. This technique is the norm in the Beaujolais region where Gamay is king. The technique is widely used in other parts of the world. For instance, in the late 1700’s it was the dominant winemaking method in Rioja. In Chile, native Burgundian Louis-Antoine Luyt makes some excellent País, Carignan, Cinsault, and  Carménère using carbonic maceration.

What is Carbonic Maceration?. Simply, it is a chemical reaction in which wine grapes ferment in an anaerobic environment rather than an aerobic one meaning absence versus presence of oxygen. Unlike standard fermentation, in which yeast is manually or naturally added to grape must to convert sugar into alcohol, carbonic maceration does not use yeast to start fermentation. This method increases the freshness and  fruit aromatics of a  wine. Since, I am not well versed in this winemaking technique, I reccomend that you read the excellent post by Jamie Goode, Carbonic maceration
A closer look at this winemaking techniqueé 

Another excellent article that you must look into is  by one of my favorite wine writers, Andrew Jefford. He made a superb piece on Caves de Roquebrun: The Carbonic Maceration Virtuoso. Mr. Jefford explains this particular method and also discuss its application in the vineyards of Roquebrun. By reading this article, I learnt how carbonic maceration helps brings out the perfume of Syrah in the schist soils of Saint Chinian. Here is a passage of the article that I particularly like:

The aromatics of schist-grown Syrah fermented by this technique are, it’s true, astonishing. They easily evoke the thyme and privet which grow wild in the garrigue scrubland of the hills, but have a viscerally appealing orange-blossom charm, too, like a night stroll in a Tunisian citrus grove. Nor are these wines unsatisfying on the palate: there is plenty of structure beneath that rich, low-acid flesh, thanks to Rogier’s insistence on what are (for carbonic maceration) unusually long maceration times.

Alain Roger won the prestigious International Wine Challenge 2015 on the category red winemaker of the year. In addition, the wines of Roquebrun have earned a myriad of medals and accolades in the International wine circuit. Despite the fame, Alain Roger remains quite a modest man. He is very easy to talk too and he is very passionate about  his wines.  Alain proudly deserves the title Southern France’s virtuoso of carbonic maceration!!.

 

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The Fiefs d’Aupenac 2015 ( SAQ # 10559166) retails in the Quebec Market for $20.45.

Tasting Notes Roches Noires 1994-2014

( Usually a blend of  60% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre, plot selection of old Syrah vines)

1994: Dry prunes with aromas of pipe tobacco and cigar box as well. Complex notes of macerated black fruit ( prunes and pitted cherry). Round and elegant with subtle tannins.

1995: Wood smoke and cracked black peppercorns. Aromas as well of fine leather with dry coriander, cumin and licorice. On the mouth, very pleasant and fresh with balsamic notes and mature tannins.

1998: A complex set of nuances that I like to call ” mineral dust ” with a palette of barnyard aromas. On the mouth, quite elegant in the mid palate with flavors reminiscent of black plums. Tannins are drying up a bit but overall a lovely finale.

2001: Fresh nose bringing to mind cassis coulis or compote with christmas cake spices. Complex and elegant with a beautiful elegant finale.

2004: Intriguing nose bringing to mind Maraschino cherries liqueur, fountain ink and notes of cloves. Round and subtle with a beautiful acidity. A pleasure to drink this wine. One of my favorite from the tasting.

2005: A very deep nose bringing to mind black sesame seeds, zatar spice mix with confit violets and licorice. On the mouth, very balanced and racy with a beautiful lingering finale.

2008: Outstanding nose, the way I like it from an old wine. Iron, dry blood. Menthol and eucalyptus with star anise and dark fruit sauce. Powerful and well structured with cashmere tannins. A very poetic wine.

2009: Spicy with complex animal notes that brings to mind something that I recall to be musk. Garrique nuances as well that bring to mind wild rosemary and thyme. Beautiful and harmonious palate quite mineral recalling the schists terroir of the appellation.

2011: Santal, licorice, tiger balm. A very balsamic bouquet. On the mouth, more floral than dark fruit. Powerful and complex yet with graceful tannins.

2013: Luscious fruity nose. A rich palette of ripe black fruits as well as hints of vanilla bean. On the mouth, dense but not unbalanced with just the right acidity. Long finale

2014 Roasted bell pepper with coffe and black cherry jam. On the mouth, warm and generous with a silky midpalate and velvety tannins.

Tasting Notes Fiefs D’Aupenac 1995-2014

( 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache and  20% Mourvedre. Aging in french oak for 12-18 months)

1995 Roasted black coffe beans with a slight vegetal nose and sandalwood. Also some cigar box as well. On the mouth, a very fresh beautiful expression with mature tannins. Long finale.

2002 Vibrant and alluring with nuances of dark chocolate, violets and blueberry jam. Spicy with deep blackcurrant notes and black tea nuances supported by fine tannins. A soulful aftertaste bringing to mind black forest cake.

2003 Caramel butterscotch with roasted bell pepper character. Exotic spices such as asofetida and black cumin. Fresh vibrant and subtle. Still amazing and youthful after more than 10 years in bottle.

2005 Beautiful mineral nuances with intense notes of confit violets and ripe blue and black fruits. Fleshy with lots of power. No signs of aging at all.

2006 Umami like flavors, coal smoke and cracked black pepper. On the palate, very elegant with notes of menthol and red cherry. Very long finale.

2007 Harmonious and aerial with notes of redcurrant, cacao and spices. Creamy and very fresh with a nice elegance and persistance

2009 Peppery with notes of ripe raspberry, lavender and balsamic undertones. Structured and intense with spice and dark chocolate flavours. Very long with an amazing depth finale.

2010 Floral with aromas that bring to mind church incense, habanero pepper jelly with notes of dark chocolate truffle and cassis. Harmonious with a persistent finale.

2011 Meaty with hints of tiger balm and violets and ripe dark fruit ( Cassis and black cherry jam). Delicious with attractive tannins. Intense flavour, harmonious and very complex.

2013 Aromas of cofee with an alluring animal side, black truffle and confit violets. Rich and beautiful palate with an elegant finale.

2014 Powerful dark fruit aromas with complex notes of forest growth, cedar and mushroom medley. Rich with silky tannins and a lingering finale.

The Thank You Post

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As I write these words, my heart feels heavy of emotion. It has been almost 3 months that the Wine Bloggers Conference has been finished and I miss it a great deal. I have never participated in a conference before, and it was the first time that somebody took an interest in my persona before.

I had the chance to meet some extraordinary people at the conference. The WBC bloggers welcomed me with open arms and humility.It is very hard for me to write this post. My heart overflows with joy and sadness and it is so difficult to put words to describe this feeling.

So, this is the way that goes. A big thanks to Thea Dwelle and the scholarship comite to have selected me for the scholarship. I hope I lived to your expectations. Never in a million years, I would have thought that my work could be worthy of admiration by the WBC organizers. To this day, I still believe that is all a dream and have not wake up to face reality.

To each one of the sponsors, many thanks as well. I wish that I  could be physically present to shake your hands. Thanks to your sponsorship, I was able to assist in one of the greatest events of the wine industry.

To each of the fellow wine bloggers that I meet on that weekend: Thanks as well for taking the time to hear my story. Had a chance to meet great personalities such as Von Vino, the great Dame Wine and Rick Dean. Let me not forget the execptional Michael Kelly, he was on my table for the Saturday closing supper meal and in the saturday after party. I could go forever, but wait..I cant also forget, the great Cindy Lowe Rynning. I have been an admirer of her work for some time now. For those who saw me at the after party on saturday, thanks too for partying together.

This is not the end but just the beginning. I will continue to write about the conference and I will see you soon in Walla Walla in 2018. I wish that time would pass faster to relieve the conference again.

See you soon colleagues

Love,

Marco

 

 

 

The Ethics of Wine Blogging

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Fred Swan at the WBC 17

The first blogger that I heard talking about ethics in wine blogging was David Pelletier ( a.k.a as Le Sommelier Fou). In his blog, David had a very serious editorial stance where he discussed his tasting methodology and sample policy. Honesty and transparency were the trademarks of David. Out of affection, I used to call him, the original wine blogger. Sadly, Le Sommelier Fou passed away in October 2016. My only regret was that I did not spend more time with him discussing this issue. Another blogger with a clear editorial stance is Julien Marchand. In his approach ( short and sweet), Julien defines the purpose of his blog and sets the tone for his posts: If I am interested, I talk about it.

What do these two bloggers have in common?. Honesty and transparency with no impression of a hidden agenda. At the latest Wine Bloggers Conference, Fred Swan discussed those two important points in what I call the principle of integrity. Similar to journalists, bloggers are on the public eye and must demonstrate an unbiased opinion. Fred Swan could not stress enough that you are brand and you set an expectation. A reputation is hard to build and can disappear in the blink of an eye.

When you declare that the wine bottles for your post were samples, you are being transparent. Same thing apply for the subject of press trips. It is a must to say, that you were invited by a organization or producer. All this above to avoid given the impression that you were bought off.

When you become a wine blogger, you are your own product ambassador and with that comes a fair share of responsibilities This is the gist that I got from the seminar of Fred Swan at the Wine Bloggers Conference. We have a duty to our readers to inform in the most transparent way as possible and we cannot allow ourselves to break that bond.

Beyond the element of full disclosure, comes the principle of accuracy. This point also got my attention at the Fred Swan seminar. When researching a post, it is important to use multiple sources. It is all about balance. For instance, a few years back,when I started writing about wine, one of my editors told me to talk about 3-4 producers when profiling a wine region. It is all about being impartial. It is important not to project the image of favoritism. By simply following this steps you will become an authority in your field.

The last importance point of the seminar was the principle of kindness. Lets not forget good manners and be polite even when encounter something that we don’t like. For example, when we get invited to somebody house for dinner and dont like something about the food, we just dont trash the host. It goes the same way, when we are writing about wine. Be polite, because It is always imperative to remember that the written word stay longer than the oral one. There are diplomatic ways to express your dislike about a specific wine. After all, wine is something very personal and what you might not like, somebody else can find it delicious.

In the very near future, I will be formulating a clear editorial stance. This is something that I do not wish to have any loose ends.

Thanks again for taking the time to read.

Dinner with Annie and Carl

My weekends are pretty quiet. Usually, Saturday and Sunday are off-limits for writing and i spend time enjoying my wife and daughter.

There is also the weekend routine which includes food shopping, laundry and my daughter activities which are skating and dancing courses. We also do diverse family outings such as light hiking, visiting new parks or going to the movies.

The season for dinner invitations and other social outings have just started again. Last saturday, we went to Annie’s house with the occasion of visiting her 1-year-old daughter Maïka. Annie is a work colleague from my wife and I really love eating at her place because she makes great food all the time. She also has a great taste in wine. She loves Pinot Noir and especially from Burgundy.

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We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and we were warmly greeted by them. After the greetings formalities were finished, we were offered aperitivos. Carl offered me a glass of Chardonnay Farnito 2015 from Carpineto. A lovely Italian interpretation of the Burgundian grape, this Chardonnay offered intriguing aromas of ripe barlett pear and white nectarines. Beyond the fruit in the bouquet, I really enjoyed its herbal and flower nuances. It reminded me of an August warm afternoon in the Tuscan countryside.

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Annie offered some sparkling wine to my wife. Our host is a big fan of Bernard-Massard Cuvée de L’Ecusson Brut Methode Traditionnelle. I have had this wine from Luxembourg at her house before. I tried from my wife glass. A delicious sparkler made with Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Nicely balanced with a good acidity and displaying lemon and white orchard fruit on the palate.

Me and a my wife sipped slowly our aperitivos while munching on some raw vegetables. It was a fine and quite appropriate accord. We watched our children played together and I contemplated the time passing by like flipping the pages of a familiar novel.

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The main dish was braised pork shoulder with dates and potatoes cooked in the slow cooker. I am not usually a big fan of pork, finding that the meat tastes slighty sweet for my palate and the aromas could be a bit bland sometimes. However, the dish of Annie was so savoury with complex flavours The hunk of pork shoulder in my palate had a irresistible gamey aroma mingled with the exoticism of middle eastern spices. It was the emblem of seduction!!

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For this dish I chose the Domaine Thymiopoulos Naoussa 2014. For some time now, I have been drinking the wines of Thymiopoulos and they are quite popular among Quebec wine aficionados. A lovely expression of Xinomavro, it is a fascinating wine with aromas of ripe red fruits, pipe tobacco, vanilla bean and spices. On the mouth, subtle and velvety with polished tannins. Xinomavro could yield wild and tannic wines but in the hands of Apostolos Thymiopoulos, they turn out to be quite elegant. Recently, the domaine has switched to biodynamic agriculture and slowly is going towards natural winemaking. It was just a perfect match, the dish complementing the spicyness and red fruit of the wine and viceversa.

The dessert was simple but quite tasty. A piece of caramel-apple tart with vanilla bean ice cream. We finished off the evening playing sequence and eating chips as a snack.

Next week, we are going to Claudia and David to celebrate her birthday. It is supposed to be a potluck supper so I will keep you posted of the festivities.

Ciao for now.

The other California-Top Bottles at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2017

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It took a weekend trip to the golden state to discover the ” unknown ” wines of California. While at the latest  Wine Bloggers Conference, I had the special chance to discover many special wine regions such as El Dorado and Livermore Valley. Regarding this two regions, I will do in another opportunity another post in detail. For now, I will leave with a little amuse bouche, like they say in French.

Below  are some of the wines that the impressed the most at the conference. Sadly for me, these wines are not available in the Quebec market, so I will have to cherish the memory until I return to California.

Masthead 2015 Sangiovese Mohr-Fry Ranch, Block 433

California Sangiovese did not excite until I tried the bottle of Masthead. This is the brainchild of three bloggers: Luscious Lushes, From the Vine, and D’Vine. Block 433 blew my mind and shattered all my preconceptions about the potential of Sangiovese in the golden state. A crossover style between Tuscany and Puglia, you must try this wine.

Ripe Redcurrants, black olives, leathery and also reminiscent of baked earth. Rich and multilayered yet very elegant bringing to mind coffee, maraschino cherry. Fine tannins and very long in the palate.Lovely finale bringing to mind paprika, padron peppers and raspberry jam

Blue Farm 2014 Anne Katherina Vineyard Estate

I met the modest Anne-Moller-Racke in a post conference dinner activity at Shone Farm Winery. A native of Oberwesel, Germany, she owns Blue Farm winery and a 9 acres vineyard that bears the name of her daughter, Anne Katherina. An exceptional artisanal producer with a cult status, her wines are available to wine lovers in tiny allocations

Perhaps the best Pinot Noir that ever tried from California.  The Anne Katherina bottling is a salute to Pinot Noir. More Burgundian than New World, this wines brings to mind Burgundy Grand Crus with its vibrant red fruit notes, floral essences and perfumed and silky palate as you swirl in the glass.

Madrona Malbec 2015 El Dorado County

El Dorado County wines was my biggest discovery at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2017. Located just an hour from Sacramento or South Lake Tahoe in the  Sierra Foothills, El Dorado county is blessed with a microclimate that favours Rhone and Bordeaux Varietals.

This Malbec from Madrona vineyards fascinated me with its dense and brooding aromas of cassis and blueberry fruit laced with wild fennel and spearmint. Dense and intense, yet balanced with velvety tannins.

Fenestra Petite Sirah 2013 Livermore Valley

It is always a breeze to taste a Petite Sirah. Also known as Durif, the grape  was created  in France in the 1860s by the botanist Francois Durif.  A cross between Syrah and an indigenous French grape Peloursin, with the purpose of making Syrah more resistant to mildew. At some point the grape travelled to California, where it was rebaptised as Petite Sirah for its resemblance of the Syrah grape.

Livermore Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in California, made famous by Wente Vineyards Concannon Vineyards. The appellation is known for Petite Sirah, a but also Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I heard that exciting things are being made from Gruner Veltliner to Verdelho. From what i tasted at the wine bloggers conference, quality and  price remain very competitive compared to Sonoma and Napa.

 

Big nose featuring very expressive aromas of blueberry, blackberries and cassis.  Full body and quite structured with an elegant rusticness. Flavors bring to mind meaty and exotic spices such as cinnamon, asofetida and licorice.

Stay tuned for the next post, dear readers!!!

 

 

 

The Intimacy of Eating a Chocolatine

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Since october I have embarked on a project to study breadmaking at the Center Calixa-Lavallée.  Besides wine, my other big passion include cooking. Wine and food go together and you cannot have one with out the other.

The study of bread has been a subject that always fascinated me. It is so similar to wine, since it is a product of terroir. At its heart, bread is made with simple down to earth ingredients: flour, water and yeast. If you are a purist, the flour can come from a specific mill, the water from a special stream and well..the fermenting agent  could levain or yeast. This  is the same strain as the responsible for the fermentation of wine: Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Unless, you are talking about Levain or sourdough which is another ball game.

A part of my program consist of learning to make viennoiseries. The word “viennoiserie” – is French for “things from Vienna” – spans a whole category of pastry that includes croissants, pain au raisins and brioche. These products, symbolized  with France, tend to close the gap between the arts of boulangerie and  patisserie in culinary school philosophy.

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Viennoiseries are made either from:  a pâte viennoise (a leavened, sweetened dough named because of its origin in Vienna) or  a pâte feuilletée (puff pastry dough, which is not leavened but puffs during cooking like and accordeon because of its many layers of dough and the air that rests between them).

To eat a chocolatine straight from the oven is a priviliged experience that is quite intimate. For me, it brought a fond memory of when I arrived in Montreal and walked in for the first time in La Gascogne in Laurier Street.  Mastering the art of laminated dough to make a croissant is quite a challenge. Under the supervision of my professor Michelle, slowly, I am learning the robes The trick is to incorporate the well the butter in all the dough.  This is called tourage in French. Kneading the dough too thin can kill the feuilletage when you bake the croissants.

Chocolatines are great as a petit dejeuner with a cafe au lait to start off any day of your week. However, they are also very popular in weekend brunches and certainly can be enjoyed with wine. The challenge is to find something not too sweet and refreshing at the same time to handle the buttery richness and chocolate sweetness of the chocolatine. The answer lies in sweet wines. Sparkling cider works best but certain dessert wines from the Loire Valley, South Africa, Italy or the Rhone Valley can do the job as well.

I encourage you to try the following reccomendations next time you have a warm chocolatine. If you cant make one, buy one from a top boulangerie and reheat to kind of live the experience.

 

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Cidrerie du Minot La Croisée Quebec, Canada ( SAQ # 12962063, $9.60)

On the nose caramel with granny smith apple. Fresh and slighty sweet with a frizzante bubble alike. A reasonable priced sparkling cider to have for brunch, specially now during the holidays period.

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Cidre de glace Vergers Petit & Fils 2014 Quebec, Canada ( SAQ # 10320972, $23.85)

Enticing aromas of apple turnover, spices with slight balsamic notes. Very fresh and creamy with a good persistance in the mouth. A finale that brings to mind a touch of honey and earl grey.

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Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2012, Western Cape, South Africa ( SAQ # 10999655, $75.25)

Citric aromas such a ripe tangerines, dry white fruits and nuance of musk. Sweet with a good acidity and poetic. A dessert by itself, this sweet wine  is just borderline  in an accord with a  chocolatine.

 

 

 

Wine with leftovers?. A candid interpretation.

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Credits: STEPHANIE HOFMANN

You all now this, i don’t have to remind you but December is the month that we eat the most food. Between office parties, homely dinner parties, christmas and new year’s we end with a lots of leftover food and eating that for several days

Some of my greatest wine experiences have involved a great bottle of wine with a reheated plate of something the next day. I usually do this wearing my pyjamas. After taking the time to do some tasting notes, I proceed to eat taking my tray and watching a good movie. This is what i do the next day after a dinner party.

Reheated lasagna with Amarone?- just bliss. Braised beef and St-Chinian?-the ultimate comfort food. Reheated seafood rice and Champagne-is like dying and going to foodie heaven. These are examples of my previous repertoire of wine tasting memories.

Sometimes i don’t even have to do the cooking. Soon my wife and I will start doing the rounds as part of the christmas holidays in other people’s houses and bring back food This is always the case when i go to my in-laws. She will give us meat or chicken pie, meatball ragu or turkey. The next day, I am standing silly in front of my cellar and thinking what to drink with that.

So, whats an amazing leftover wine?. I am looking at something comforting with some complexity. Maximum price, $100. We don’t want to exaggerate either. A few years ago, my aunt Fanny was staying us for the christmas holidays. I opened up a Calon Segur 2004 from my cellar with warmup chicken cacciatore. The wine was not the proper choice for the occasion but it was extraordinary.

Delicious Mercurey with my leftovers?

I dont get to drink enough red burgundy because of the prices but I should dip my nose a bit further into the region as there are some really good gems. This is the case of the Mercurey appellation.

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Source: Vins de Bourgogne

Mercurey is a humble appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise region (Saône-et-Loire) that  includes 32 Premiers Crus Climats. The producing communes include Mercurey, Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu. This is red wine territory, 80% is Pinot Noir and the remainder Chardonnay.

For many Burgundy lovers, the wines combine  quality  with a best value that money can give. These are intense reds with lightly earthy flavours that are rustic and austere in their youth but age nicely with a few years in the cellar. The best can go up to a decade.

The terroir of Mercurey is very interesting. Located closer to the northern frontier of the Cote Chalonnaise and near Cote de Beaune itself, Mercurey shares the same climatic conditions as it most prestigious Côte d’Or.  The soil is mainly limestone as it approaches the hilly ( often best vineyards) with more marl at the bottom.

The SAQ list 41 products in their catalog with a price range that goes between the upper $20 and the mid $80 (magnum bottles). I love a good Mercurey with traditional Quebec christmas food leftovers or with a reheated mushroom risotto.

Below are two Mercurey wines that I tasted recently. Other producers that I highly reccomend are: Chateau de Chamirey, Faiveley and Bichot.

Have a joyful wine drinking experience!!!

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Château Philippe-Le-Hardi Mercurey Premier Cru Les Puillets 2015. SAQ # 869800. $29.60

This property was famous since it was owned   by royalty such as Philippe Le Hardi ( 1342-1404), son of king  Jean Le Bon ( 1319-1364) and first duke of Burgundy. This property

Alluring nose of mountain leaves, black prunes with soft barnyard nuances ( porcini and truffle oil comes to mind). Ample with firm and polished tannins. This wine could be very fun with leftovers beef bourgignon.

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Michel Juillot Mercurey 2015. SAQ: 573402. $33.50

Michel Julliot Estate, which has been a driving force  for four generations in Mercurey, cultivates 30 hectares of vines crafting a blend of the best “climats” and expositions that Mercurey has to offer (South & South-East) as well as several Côte de Beaune Crus.  The domaine was partly responsible as well for determining some of the boundaries of Mercurey

Succulent red berry fruit with mint undertones and freshly picked roses/violets. Velvety with soft and ripe tannins with a spicy finale. A bit of cacao, humus and balsamic notes in the finale.

 

Live Wine Blogging-WBC 17

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“Exercising your twitter skills” was how a fellow wine blogger described the live wine blogging sessions at the latest Wine Bloggers Conference 2017.

It was one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding sessions of the conference. In the space of an hour, you got to spend 5 min with a producer in a round table. In this short time, you had to evaluate the wine but also do a live tweet. It was very tough.

Image result for circuit training high school gif cartoonsThose sessions were the hardest but the most rewarding. Friday, was the session of the white and rose and saturday was the live red wine blogging. These sessions brought to mind physical education classes at high school. Specifically, circuit training. However, I hated circuit training but I loved the wine blogging at the WBC 17

Beyond the fabulous wines that i discovered, those live sessions taught me how to be precise in the nick of time. Sometimes, I experience something personal that I call twitter block. Similar, to writers block, I just don’t know what to say. Two key things that I learnt from the love wine blogging exercise:

  1. Key words. Do simple short phrases with powerful key words. I count my seconds when I was reading the live tweets of my other colleagues, and I spent an average of 5 seconds per tweet. After a careful introspection, I found that reading long sentences was tedious.
  2. Combination of hashtags and tagging. I finds that tagging the winery was the best tool to deliver my message rather than a pool of hashtags. So, tagging was the perfect way to deliver that specific message to the winery and the hashtag thing more like in index summary of a conversation.

You may find that these are silly things that I learnt, but what can I say. I am fairly new to twitter. I only have 543 followers, but I am hoping to build steadily my twitter followers.

The wines that I liked from the first day

In this frenzy wine circuit training, there we some wines that duly striked out. I am reminded of one of the wisdom words of Gerard Basset, one of the best world sommeliers: the first 20 seconds make an impression of a wine, the rest is useless. If I think about this now, when I calm, this is very true. In those 20 seconds, there was something striking on each of the wines:

Matthiasson 2015 Napa Valley White wine.

Matthiasson is an artisanal winery specializing in the production of unique wines both from Napa and Sonoma. This wine was a blend of Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano with some Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Rich and structured with flavors of ripe peaches,  and blanched almonds. Lots of floral nuances in the palate. Creamy with a plesant saltiness.

Hanna Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Russian River Valley.

Beyond the fume blanc style, this Sauvignon Blanc from Hanna charmed me with its herbaceous and pink grapefruit flavours. Fresh and vibrant, I could describe it as a cross between a Sancerre, Bordeaux Blanc with a Californian spirit.

Antinori Family Estates Antica Block A26 2015.

The Antinori family brought their Tuscan family expertise to California and they truly are crafting exceptional wines. In the mid 1990’s, they founded Antica and the project is overseen by Piero Antinori daughters. The A26 is a serious chardonnay bringing to mind textbook aromas of Chardonnay such as ripe Bartlett pear, smoke, honey nougat, wax and citronella.

The reds from the second day

Knowing what to expect from the second day,  I was already feeling more comfortable. I also had a chance to read about the subject and not feel like a dummy. In a very near future, a matter of weeks

Cain Five Spring Mountain District Napa Valley 2006

A righteous Bordeaux blend. I am not into Napa Valley wines but for Cain Five, I am making an exception. It was just a gorgeous wine bringing something of a combined style between a Saint-Estephe, Pauillac with sunny California. Complex with dark fruit notes, graphite, Tuscan leather, Virginia tobacco, and baked earth. Velvety in the palate, long and ample with fine tannins. I wish that we could get more Californian wines like this in Montreal.

Donelan Cuvée Moriah 2013 Sonoma County

A hearty Grenache based wine with a hint of Syrah. Deep notes of red currant fruit, baking spices, vanilla and licorice. On the mouth, rustic and earthy with mild oak flavors. Warm mineral finale.