A nebbiolo for the Summer?

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Humm…Nebbiolo is not a grape that I usually associate with the summer season. It feels more at home from the fall to the winter. When i think of a Neb based wine, images of chilly fall evenings with beef roasts and luscious pastas come to mind..In a million years, i never you could have Nebbiolo for summer, especially by the side of the pool. It doesn’t fit into the laid-back estivale category.

Well..thats the beauty of wine. It sometimes makes you think outside the box. When I saw a ( girl) in the Vin dans Le Voiles website posing with a bottle of Rosso di Valtellina, it set an alarm in my mind.

Meet the Dirupi Ole bottle cuddling along the model from The Vin Dans Le Voiles.A boutique producer in the Valtellina, the northern most wine producing region of Lombardy in Italy. This is a beautiful and extreme wine making region with freezing temperatures in the vineyards in the winter followed by very hot summers with a light exposure similar to that in Sicily due to the steep aspect of their south facing vineyards.

The Dirupi winery is named after the steepness of their 4.5 hectares of vineyards. The yields and total production is very low, comprising only four labels and a overall production of closely 15000 bottles a year. Note that this is 100% exclusively artisanal winemaking. Davide Fasolini and Pierpaolo di Franco work the most natural way in the vineyard and cellar although not classified as organic wine makers.

The region’s location in northern Lombardy on the Italian/Swiss border produces a different style wine from this normally tannic grape. Higher altitude (approximately 2,220 feet), cooler climate and distinctive soil types (Sandstone and silt in the case of the Olé) deposited by glaciers over the years produce a less tannic, high-toned version of Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca in the Valtellinese dialect).

This is a delicious and fun wine packed with very savoury notes of red fruits, herbs and lots of yummy flower undertones. On the palate, very fresh and floral with notes of spices, strawberry pie filling and just slightly tannic.And yes….I completely understand why you would want to have this wine by the pool. It is just so fresh and mouthwatering.

It is available by the case via Le Vin dans Le Voiles ( $43.15. Six pack case)

Panevino Shugusucci 2017

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I am fairly new with the wines of Gianfranco Manca ( Panevino). My first Panevino was Alvas which actually was also my first orange wine tasted. Raisonnance, their importer in Quebec offered me a taste in the now defunct Montreal restaurant La Salle a Manger. During those years, I knew very little about natural wine and nothing about Orange wine.

This wine was so different and unique from others that made me think about the concept of transcendence in wine. This  is a seldom concept found in wine but more in art.

Deriving from the Latin transcendere, which means to climb beyondtranscendence implies the sensation  of having a sense of significance  beyond ourselves. There are as many ways of experiencing transcendence as there are people. It can be a religious experience or non-religious such as being  connected to other people, nature, or the universe, or it can apply to a wordly experience of passing through a difficult situation. In the end, transcendence relates to a feeling of purpose in the world or  the joy of being alive.

Great art is transcendent. It directs to something outside itself and the artist who made it.

A reason why the Greek civilization believed in gods and muses. They were in touch with something : Art describes the outer limits world; it points at the hidden story.

Can the same principle could be applied to wine?. Until that day, I wasn’t aware and was happy to discover it with Panevino.

There was something mystical about that alvas and to this day I cant forget. It went beyond the completely unique perfurm  and its marvelous texture on the palate. It was an experience greater than the sum of its parts. The wine elevated me and conncected me to the land but more important to the hidden soul of Gianfranco.

It was the same feeling with Shugussucci. A field blend of indigenous Sardegnan wine varieties, this wine display so much energy and vibrancy. It is hard to pinpoint that elusive feeling. It is truly an emoional wine, much the same feeling like looking at a canvas of Mark Rothko.

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Source:Britannica.com

Here is the formal tasting note for descriptive purposes with no intention of capturing the emotional wine aspect

Aromas of wild oregano, amaro herbs with dry dark fruit tones complemented by cured leather and hints of volatile acidity. On the palate, multilayered with snappy acidity. Deeep flavours of red flowers, Jamaican curry with currants. Raging finale reminiscent of animal notes such a cured meat and goat meat.

Panevino is represented by Raisonnance in Quebec, Canada by strict allocation only.

 

An anecdote of a brunch and wine pairing exercise

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These days we really have to be creative in the kitchen. The possibility of going out to eat has faded away and it represents a risk to be gastronomically bored. Of course, there is always the take out option but can you really put  a fine dining experience in a few boxes?. Montreal’s restaurants are set to be reopen on June 22th and who knows how fine dining will be living with Corona.

I miss the pre corona days where I could normally take my car and head to Montreal to eat out. After my separation eating out became a more frequent activity. However, the activity was reserved for the weekends when I had my 6 years old daughter Alessia. It is my strong opinion that children should start early their gastronomical education so they develop a palate.

With my daughter and Paola as a dining companion, I had some of the most memorable dining experiences. As these lines are written, fantasies come into my head about memorable skin contact wines and Elena pizza.

My recent culinary experiences are last minute improvisations of my head. But today post is my sister Paola that takes the credit. A neophyte home cook she surprised me with her reinvented version of a Venezuelan arepa. She also has great taste for natural wine and food.

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A very interesting spin off she puts flax seed and whole wheat in the corn dough. This gives a nice crunchiness and earthy nuance contrast to the sweetness of the dough. My filling consisted with a boiled egg, some turkey and aurugula. It was a great pairing with the petnat ( Pretty ) from Alex and Maria Koppitsch. Really fun sparkler reminiscent of lots of red fielberries. On the palate, really fun and quite refreshing with slight herbal flavours. It is represented in Quebec, Canada by the good people of Ward & Associates.

Looking foward to go out again with those two lovely girls and experience great restaurants

Thoughts on wine and art appreciation

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Beyond food, something that always pairs well with wine is art. If you love these two subjects, you will want to learn more about these two incredible things. Have you ever wondered what wine would pair with your favorite art movement or artist? Me neither, but I thought it could be a good topic of writing.

These days with plenty of time on hand I have taken up to study art movements and different painters. My reason for this is to get a  head start for my art bachelor program coming up in the fall.

After a supper with my glass of wine, I proceed to the pleasure study of something artsy. It could be by watching a documentary or looking at a virtual gallery in Google Arts and Culture. It is a very enriching experience to combine these two passions.

Recently I was studying Matisse with a nice glass of Bruno Duchene La Luna Rose 2018. This fauvist artist  has been described as the  master of colour and I could quickly establish a relationship between the painter style and the wine.  The work of Matisse that I studied was the portrait of his wife

La luna rose is a half half blend of Syrah and Mourvedre. Highly aromatic, it is a heady and intoxicating blend of sweet red fruit with balsamic touches and violets. On the palate, exuberant and energetic yet balanced and quite elegant.

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Source: Fine Art America

At first, the portrait of Madame Matisse gives me as well an inebriating mix of colorful emotions. It is mesmerizing specially when you look at the green line that separates the face. It clearly sets the frontier between the passionate and the placid.  Much like the line, the acidity and crispness of the rose balances out the exuberant fruitiness of the wine

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A similar parallel can be described by looking hand by hand at  Corino’s Barla 2011 and some of Henri Rousseau paintings. Barla is a late harvest Barbera and a masterpiece of a wine. Very emblematic, it strikes me with its deep and soulful black fruit notes complemented by tamarind and cacao notes. It is a primitive wine yet highly precise wine. It evoques the same feeling as when you look at some of Le Douanier paintings, especially the jungle ones.

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Rousseau The Dream. Source: Google Art Proyects

At first I was not sure of this comparison. I thought the wine resembled more like a painting of Chagall. The Russian love painter is more esoteric and subdued. A Chagall could be nicely enjoyed lets say for instance with a Grand Cru Chambertin for instance. The Barla-Rousseau comparison was the idea of my wine peep Charles. As an art newbie enthusiast, I still lack lots of expertise in analysis. 

Do you have any thoughts on enjoying art and wine pairings. What are some of your favorite pairings?

A beautiful Italian red to celebrate Mother’s day

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Mother’s day is around the corner and there is some time left to get something small for your mama.

My mom Ana always tells me in Spanish: El que no quiere a su madre, no quiere a nadie. It translates to if you can’t love your mother, you are not able to love nobody else.

Give your mamma, a nice Italian bottle so she can have on her own or with you guys this coming Sunday. Wine is the gift that keeps on giving. It brings people together and it is a social cohesive.

The Sartori Ripasso Valpolicella 2016 ( SAQ #10669242, $17.45) is what you want to bring this coming sunday. Vintage tasted 2015. A sultry Venetian red that will complement the sunday roast or lasagna. It has a very attractive nose that brings to mind raspberry jam with touches of pitted cherries. On the palate, it has a silky texture with fine tannins. Slight sweet, it has complex retronasal aromas that brings coffe beans and dark chocolate. A long finale.

Even though, I can’t be with my mamma this coming Sunday, I will do a virtual cheers with her.

Pushing the limit on the taste of orange wine

Two gret maceration whites tasted this year…

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The Le Coste estate  is located in Gradoli, in the province of Viterbo, near Lake Bolsena on the border between Lazio and Umbria. A beautiful area  of ​​Etruscan heritage with beautiful landscapes such as the Valle dei Calanchi on the slopes of Civita di Bagnoregio. Here the soils are of volcanic origin rich in iron and minerals that make the wines fragrant. Le Coste was born in February 2004 with the purchase by Gianmarco and Clementine, the owners, of three hectares of abandoned land known as “Le Coste”. The goal was to produce products deriving from organic agriculture in synergy with nature and the surrounding landscape. Today Le Coste covers an area of ​​about 14 hectares, of which three of vines planted by Gianmarco and Clementine, four of old vineyards for rent, four of olive trees and three of woods, where were you can find  patches of Mediterranean scrub, wild chestnut trees and elms. Gianmarco and Clementine apply the principles of biodynamics to their plants.

Le Coste bianco is made with  Malvasia di Candia, Procanico and other local varieties. The nose is incredible reminiscent of grapefruit, confit lemon peel and nuances of clove. Intriguing floral notes as well that bring to mind camomille and star anise wrapped up in a magical note on iron or iode. Medium to full body with a beautiful sour acidity that recall tropical citrus fruit. Lovely structure with a nice coherence in the palate. A very long finale.

Available as a private import through Agence Sans Nom ( $47, six pack cas

The Twilight zone of wine

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Dario Princic Sivi 2016

Dario does not need an introduction in these pages. All of his products are magical and pushes the limit of winemaking. Bianco Sivi 2016 defies the usual conventions on how Pinot Grigio should be vinified. A highly subjective wine that recalls me the fountain urinal sculpure by Marcel Duchamp in 1917.

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The nose is quite striking revealing aromas of cherry licqueur with a touch of hibiscus and cocoa.  Some salty notes of caramel as well.However, it does not occur at the same time. It unfolds to the taster with time. Be patient when you take this wine. On the palate, it is quite structured with a combination of spicy aromas and tropical fruit. It actually brings to mind pineapple cake.

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The greatness of this wine comes from its aging. It was macerated on its skins and aged for 30 months in french oak casks.  It was a great pairing with whole wheat pasta with ground veal and coconut milk with two beaten eggs to add more richness to the dish.

Available via Agence Boires. Six pack case (  68.50+Tx)

Cheers!!!

Roc des Anges Segna de Cor 2017

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My introduction to Rousillon was with three important figures that also marked forever the way I drank wine: Padie, Duchene and Cyril fhal.  These were my early natural wines and my baptism with the wines of Rousillon.  The other luminaries came after and they were Matassa and Majas and of course Gauby

Roc des Anges became known to me some time after. I learnt about them by the pejorative remarks of a Canadian high end sommelier. Frankly, most of these wines are still misunderstood by the mainstream wine trade and this caught my attention. Disregarind the person comments, I ordered a case from its Quebec importer: Vini-Vins. It is available as a private import in 6-pack case. The price per bottle is $30.95. Highly reccomended wine.

The IGP Cotes Catalanes was formed in 2003 by merging the two former VdP areas Coteaux des Fenouillèdes and Vals d’Agly. Côtes Catalanes covers almost the entire department Pyrenees-Orientales with the exception of the four municipalities Banyuls-sur-Mer, Cerbère, Collioure and Port-Vendres (these form the IGP area Côte Vermeille). Mostly red wines and in smaller quantities rosé and white wines are produced. The main red wines are Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre,  Cabernet Sauvignon., Syrah and Cinsault, the most important types of white wine are Grenache blanc  and gris, Macabeu, Malvoisie du Roussillon, Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Muscat petis grains, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and  Viognier.

Roc des Anges is not your usual Rousillon estate. Marjorie and Stéphane Gallet, both coming from Côte Rotie and Normandy, respectively have built  a biodynamic domain in the Vallée de l’Agly, an almost abandoned vineyard land better known for their  fortified wines.

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Gallet’s Segna de Cor is composed of younger vines from mostly grenache and syrah.  This wine is rich with deep and complex flavours. The palate has an striking elegance and full of spicy flavours. It was a wonderful pairing with a chicken spanish rice with some beans. Vinified and aged in concrete vats. It has a bouquet of red fruits, flowers, pepper. The taste is juicy and concentrated but also fresh and pleasant.

 

 

 

The wine cellar-the emergency solution for crisis?

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Photo by Bruno Cantuária on Pexels.com

As I wrap up my upcoming private wine orders for April, my wine buying activity will be reduced in the months to come. I dont see a complete halt but me too I am a victim of the virus crisis. I have lost temporarily my job as a baker. My patron has taken my place and have reduced staff to a minimum. A very sensible solution. I rather the bakery be saved because I know things would get back on track eventually. So, I have to be very careful on what I shall be buying

Also, With a lot of free time on my hand, it is very easy to over indulge with wine. It is more tempting for me as well, since I am separated and have no one to give me dirty looks-you are drinking too much for instance

Treat your wine collection with respect and be smart about it. It is a finite resource much like the money in your bank account. Once is gone, it is forever. Each wine bottle is the memory of a vintage of what happened during that specific year. You just cant replace that.

Besides facing an empty cellar, if you drink too much you could be faced with a much bigger problem: alcohol dependency. No matter the quality level of the wine you are drinking, it is still alcohol. Trust me, I have been there and know what I am talking about. It is very important to self check your wine consumption levels at all times but be more strict during these uncertain times. It is very tempting to overindulge so if you are doing it very often that should ring lots of alarm in your head.

If you do have a wine cellar, this is the perfect time to do a cleanup just like you are doing in certain parts of your house. This is the time to drink wines that are reaching maturity or trade styles that you dont appreciate it anymore. In my case, I will be drinking some mature Bordeauxs in the months to come. In addition, I will be exploring how certain natural wines are evolving with age.

Leave your young wines to rest. They are like children and need their beauty sleep to become beautiful. In a million years, I would never imagine bothering my daughter in her sweet sleep. It is the same thing with wine: you open a bottle of wine too soon and you risk it not to be at its best performance. It could be muted or shy.

So I will leave with that so you can think about..And now for the wine reccomendation:

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Dard & Ribo St Joseph white 2017 ( Six pack case, $60-$70, Rezin)

René-Jean Dard and François Ribo, two famous winemakers from Mercurol, north of Valence, founded their estate in 1984. Working from just a single hectare, the estate is today composed of 9 hectares of vines, with parcels in the appellations of Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage. The wines produced are always of incredible  quality, with tremendous work put into their single vineyard cuvées (one soil + one grape variety = one cuvée). Their methods stayed the same  for the last 30 years: non-intervention,  10% of the grapes are trodden by foot, no additives are used, a long decanting period is used in place of filtering, and no sulphur is added. The estate’s winepress dates back to 1955, which was bought from Prieuré-Roch in 1992.

This St Joseph is a monovarietal Rousanne from the vineyards of Les Champs” and “Opatyres,” on granite with clay and stones. The wine ferments and ages in a mix of vats and small, used barrels. It is quite powerful and quite heady. Powerful nuances of marzipan with ripe apricots with a touch of pineapple and coconut. Very rich and round with a very long persistent finale. Available by allocation only from Rezin.

Until next post, be well and drink great!!

 

Life in the time of a pandemic

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The days don’t have a structure anymore and that’s great for me. It took a virus, a surrealist natural force to give me the ultimate liberation much desired

Daytime and evening pass by and can’t make the distinction anymore. Activities reserved for the night time find their way during the day and vice versa. Days pass and sometimes I don’t leave home unless it is to pick the occasional wine order or food

It is a paradise for me. While others lament the loss of social contact, I find myself in delight drinking great bottles of wine and looking through virtual art galleries. Mind you, I still take care of a child which every day is becoming more autosufficient.

My wine collection is taking a coup d’état and my freezer is taking a hit. Alas, this is great because once this is over, I can replenish again from friends and private imports.

This is what I have been drinking in the past few days..

I do miss the tastings, my wine colleagues and the occasional going out to the restaurant with my daughter. As time passes this is becoming a fading memory. I am adapting fast. Maybe.

I have been separated since december from my spouse but much longer from the local wine trade. Perhaps, I will be reviewing mainstream wines once this is over. I am very curious to see to see how the wine media will look alike after the post crisis.

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Bajola 2018

Bajola Orange is a skin contact (orange) wine made from a field blend of grapes – Vermentino, Viognier, Incrocio Manzoni, Malvasia delle Lipari, and Sauvignon Blanc -grown on the island of Ischia, Campania, Southern Italy. Extended maceration on the skins, spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts in “palmenti” cement vats, unfiltered, unfined. 

This one of the wildest orange wines that I have ever tasted. It has a racy acidity and packed with some of the most perplexing flavours of grapefruit with autumn spices. A crazy finale. Well paired with chickpeas rice with broccoli. It is $44.76 ( six pack case) uand available with the good people of Bacchus 76.

SP 68 with homemade pizza

Another amazing wine that I have enjoyed is the SP 68 red 2014 by Ariana Occhipinti. You can buy the current vintage 2018 for the modest price of $32.75. Every year, I buy a few and keep it for the cellar. It has a flair of a Morgon but with a sunny side. The 2014 is evolving quite nicely displaying notes of pitted black cherry with smoked pepper and animal notes. It is round with mature tannins. Good acidity with an elegant funky note. Arianna’s wines don’t need an introduction. This is a half half blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola.

Cantina Margo is the project of Carlo Tabarrini, one of the luminaries of the Italian natural wine world. Years ago, my introduction to natural wines included some of their wines. From Umbria with love, Carlo plants old clones of Sangiovese, Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes without controlling the temperature and no filtration.

This is a high class Sangiovese. A bit balsamic with fantastic concentration of red fruits and wild flowers. It has a beautiful balance and structure which entice you to have more. Pure Bliss. Represented by Vinealis.

Pico Taibane 2017 by Angiolino Maule

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Maybe spending $50 in a bottle wine is not the greatest thing to do in these strange times. This is the type of thing that my mom told me the other day: “you can’t spend money on wine during times of pandemic”. But I never listen to my mom or anyone else, just the little voice inside my head.

The wines of Angiolino Maule were some of the first natural wines that I ever tasted. Angiolino owns the mythical estate of La Biancara in the Veneto. He is a man of many hats: Saxophonist, Pizzaiolo, baker and a prominent winemaker. La Biancara makes some of the greatest natural wines in Italy and perhaps the world. I have been drinking their wines for some years now and they never had dissapointed me.  They are extremely clean and well balanced.

You dont know Garganega until you try one of Angiolino white wines. His wines are even praised by conventional wine media such as Wine Spectator. For an excellent profile of la Biancara, consult this article: Out of the funk, Can “natural wine” be free of faults? Ask Angiolino.

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One of the latest wines that I tried from him was Pico Taibane 2017. Pico is produced with Garganega grapes only, carefully selected in the highest hills of Gambellara, its fermentation starts spontaneously. The aging takes place for 12 months in big barrels (15 hectolitres). It is bottled without filtration and sulphites.

Pico is a light maceration wine. The nose is fascinating like all the wines of Maule. It has deep notes of honey laced with herbal undertones with soft aromas of apricot jam. The palate displays a pristine quality. The wine is rich but very well balanced. Lots of yellow fruit but also all those lovely mineral volcanic notes of volcanic Garganega.

I paired this wine with a simple dish of carbonara pasta. It went really well. The wine complemented nicely the richness of the pasta.

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Do not hesitate to order via Oenopole. Get together five friends and share a case of 6.

Cheers!!