Silène Crozes Hermitage 2016

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Slowly but surely the 2016 vintage from the Northern Rhone Valley is making its way to our Canadian shores. Although not as rich as the 2015, the current offering is all about freshness and elegance.

J.L Chave is a name that does not need introductions here. Everybody that knows a thing or two about fine French wine has heard about him. I am certainly familiar with his wines since my introduction to Hermitage was with him. Wine growers in the northern Rhône since 1491, the Chave family (currently represented by Gérard and son Jean-Louis) represents 16 generations of a committed family saga to the production of some of the finest Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne wines on this world

What some winelovers may not know is that the family has a negociant wine business on the ise. For a modest price, you can taste the savoir-faire of the family.

“Silène” Crozes-Hermitage is 50% family Syrah and 50% purchased. Like all things Chave, the quality bar is high even at the entry level.

It is often said that Crozes-Hermitage is a meager expression of Hermitage but there is nothing poor about this wine. While the 2015 was richer and decadent with the 2016, Silène returns to the classic character of the appellation.

Bright aromas of anis, dill with violet and lavender character. Classical Northern Rhone Syrah flavours of bacon, cherry and raspberry.Polished with a juicy acidity and a long lingering finale.

I highly recommend to buy this wine. Available at the SAQ (12950281) for $31.50.

An elegant Châteauneuf-du-Pape

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I have to admit that I am not well versed in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape so when I have a chance to taste one, I jump into the occasion.

Why?. I really can’t say for sure. However, if i brainstorm my wine lover head, it must be because some of them can be a bit heavy on the palate and too much on the alcohol side. I like my wines to make me salivate and promote my appetite. A big wine turnoff for me  is if a wine makes feel bloated or full. I just cant drink it  anymore.

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Not long ago, I tasted a very elegant Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Domaine Tour Saint Michel. The Cuvee des deux Soeurs 2015 is available in the Quebec market for $46.75 ( 11874934)

Domaine Tour Saint Michel has been making wine since three generations. Michel Fabre founded the domain and his son Henri along with his wife developed and enlarged the estate. They practice sustainable viticulture which means they only treat the vines when is only necessary.

An interesting trivia is that their 34 hectares are located on the southern part of the appellation. Here the climate is very hot and the soil is formed of galets roulés (round pebbles in english).

They principally use 3 grapes to make their Châteauneuf-du-Pape red: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

The Cuvee des deux soeurs is a beautiful Chateauneuf made predominantly with Grenache (90%) and a slight drop of  Syrah (10%). The vines come from the sites Les Serres and Fangueiron.

Felt in love with its spicy nose redolent of blond tobacco and prunes in brandy. Earthy, elegant and quite refreshing with a firm tannic structure.  I highly recommend this wine for the cool fall evenings ahead.

 

 

Domaine Vincent Latour Chassagne Montrachet Les Benoites 2011

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Gold colour with a medium intensity

Pronounced aromas of dry apricots, glazed pear with butter and almond undertones. On the palate, this Chardonnay is full body with a round texture and firm acidity. Retronasal flavours bring to mind aromas of coconut cream, nectarines and roasted hazelnuts. The acidity is quite firm and the wine should continue its development for a further decade. Paired well with haddock in a lemon butter tarragon sauce. Price: Around $50-60 CAD in the Quebec market

The wines of Chassagne-Montrachet offer great value and timeless image. These wines command cheaper prices compared with those from the neighbouring appellations of Meursault and Puligny-montrachet and represent good value for money

Domaine Vincent Latour is located in Meursault in Burgundy. Family owned since the end of the 18th century, the Latours have produced Meursault wines since 1792 Today it is their descendant, Vincent, who runs the estate with a master hand.

Domaine Vincent Latour’s vineyard covers 12 hectares of vines composed exclusively of Chardonnay, a unique grape of the Meursault appellation. The estate also produces wines in the Bourgogne, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Saint-Aubin appellations. The estate is in transition  to organic farming to produce wines reflecting better its terroir.

Think strategically when building your wine collection

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Wine-bottles

Over the past three years I have amassed a sort of nice collection of wines. To my own amazement, I don’t really know the exact amount but it falls between the 750-800. A few weeks ago, I finally realized the meaning of my collection as I was going through my wine bottles.

Why meaning?. At the present day, I like to reflect on the things I buy being wine or something else. However, it was not like this a few years ago, when I used to buy a lot of things compulsively including wine. The reasons for my compulsive behaviour remain private and prefer not to share them in this post. Lets say that 60% of my collection is composed of bottles that I really like and the remainder does not make sense to me. Generally speaking, I am not a person that regrets past actions but I feel today disappointed about my erratic wine purchasing behaviour. I would like to  call this a misguided use of passion

What’s the point of me telling you this?. Perhaps you are in a frenzy wine shopping behaviour and you don’t recognize it. Around me, there are some people who appear to be in this state and they could be in denial. I wish that somebody could have told me about this some time back and prevent the damages.  Building a wine collection is a beautiful project that could bring you many years of satisfaction but you got do it right since the start. If not you risk turning it into a sickness.

Here is my advice:

Buy what you really like: I have been drinking wine for the last 25 years and it took a decade to have the big picture of what regions, styles and grapes I truly like. I started my wine journey exploring the classical wine regions of Italy, France and Spain. Bordeaux, Tuscany, Piedmont, Rhone are for me. Burgundy and the Loire I like less. Your collection should reflect your unique taste. It is easier say than done?. Before investing significant financial resources, ask yourself, do I really like that wine?. Instropection can be a very uncomfortable, but if you can get past that, you will reap the rewards.

If you don’t have the cash dont buy it:  Now that you have determined what you like, the other question to ask yourself is: do I have the money to buy it?. There is always a new wine to try, or a new vintage. I maxed out credit cards, lines of credits and a bit of my savings. If you cant pay off your wine purchases by the end of the month and have leftover money, you are in trouble.

Beware of social media. Facebook and Instagram are wonderful tools to transmit wine information. Sadly, it has been misused by fake communicators. One of the problems of these “influencers” is that they promote wine for the importers without disclosing it. There are many varieties of these people. Lets just say that they put a toxic charming spell and influence you to buy wine that you might not really like. My advice is that you should research these people before and what to they promote.

Be skeptic of the new “experts”Anybody these days can proclaim themselves a self expert on the subject of wine. I have seen the rise of new bloggers with very little tasting experience.  Sure, they might be packed with all kind of wine credentials. The malaise that I have with these people is that they think they know everything by quickly grasping the subject. Do you prefer the wine buying advice from  veteran wine expert or the newbie wine beginner?. I will let you answer. Follow the advice of very passionate people

These is my three bit wine advice and now for a profile of  a wonderful Bordeaux estate that will make a nice addition for your cellar. Early this summer, I had a chance to meet Fanny Van De Velde from Edmond de Rothschild. I tasted a mini vertical of Chateau Clarke( 2003-2015) which was a nice opportunity to get reacquinted with the estate. The invitation was a courtesy of its Canadian importer, Philippe Dandurand

The wines of Chateau Clarke were one of the first Bordeaux that I tasted. This is classical Bordeaux left bank, although the wine have become more approachable with the latest vintages. My favorite vintages of the tasting were 2006 and 2014

Chateau Clarke

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Belonging to Baron Edmond de Rothschild and currently his son Benjamin Rothschild, Chateau Clarke is a jewel estate in the middle of the Listrac-Medoc region of the left bank of Bordeaux. The name of the Chateau derives from the original owner Tobie Clarke of Irish origin.

The Chateau was largely forgotten when Edmond de Rothschild purchased it in 1973. Right away, he pulled out  the old vines and replanted, a time-consuming and heavy financial expensive and completed until 1979. Benjamin de Rothschild took over the reins of Chateau Clarke from his father in 1999 and set about updating the winery as well as enlisting Michel Rolland as consultant oenologist.

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Chateau Clarke is the estate’s top red wine. The vineyards now have a vine age of over 30 years old and are situated on clay-limestone soils. The vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Merlot (42%), Cabernet Franc (8%), and Petit Verdot (2%). The grapes are manually harvested from low-yielding plots, sorted at the winery and and channeled into the tanks by gravity. The wines are aged mostly in new barrels, where they mature for 14 to 18 months. The final blend is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

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2003 $58 ( SAQ # 13523038)

Alluring aromas of Colombian Arabica beans, cedar and cigar tobacco as well. Pleasant notes of evolution are displayed as well such as stewed prunes with delicate menthol notes. On the mouth, still powerful and structured with grainy tannins complemented by a finale that brings savoury notes of cured meat. If you still have some keep it for another 10 years to ensure proper maturity.

2005 $75( Available on demand, private import)

Beautiful nose of cassis, Szechuan pepper with dark chocolate and strawberry laced with tobacco leaf. Long and round in the mid palate. Fresh with a good acidity and a very persistent finale. Pleasant herbaceous finale.

2006 $75 ( Available on demand, private import)

On the nose dark cacao with licorice accents with very pronounced and pungent animal undertones that bring to mind truffles as well. Very elegant, long and harmonious. Classic Bordeaux structure with enough acidity and tannins to keep it for another decade.

2012 $41.60 ( SAQ # 10677550)

fragrant and very perfumed. Lovely leafy red berry expression fruit character with hints of vanilla. Polished with silky tannins. Quite the earthy finale on this vintage. Will further improve for the next 5 years

2013 $45 ( SAQ # 10677550, arriving at the year end)

Very aromatic nose. Ripe raspberry with goji berries undertones. On the palate, quite polished and very accessible. Very long and fresh. Firm tannins and a charming finale.

2014 $45 ( SAQ # 10677550, next arrival 2019)

Quite Austere. Aromas of cigar tobacco, lead pencil and black pepper with a hint of star anise. Powerful with lots of flesh in the palate and fine tannins. Great mineral finale, just give it some time.

2015 $45 ( SAQ # 10677550, arrival 2019-2020)

Leafy blackcurrant fruit, cedar with hints of tobacco. Powerful, yet in a modern style. Very fresh and refined. This wine will continue to give you pleasure for the next decade.

 

 

 

Three wines for Piri Piri chicken

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Its muggy and hot outside and crave desperately for spicy food.  All of a sudden, I want to eat Peri Peri chicken. If I was a magician, the plate would be already in my table. Sadly, this is not the reality and would have to use my words to satisfy this sudden rage of Portuguese BBQ!!.

portugese-style-chicken

Source: spicetrekkers.com

Piri-piri chicken is a spicy dish with roots in both Africa and Portugal. The dish originated in Angola and Mozambique when Portuguese settlers introduced chile peppers (known as piri-piri in Swahili). The trick for an amazing Piri Piri BBQ is to use whole chicken pieces and let it marinated for  few hours before throw it in the grill. For best results, BBQ in charcoal.  Here is my favorite recipe for the dish. It comes from Spice Trekkers or Epices de Cru in French. You can get the spices quite easily in Montreal or if yoWu prefer shop online:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp Peri-peri spices
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1½ Tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Juice of ½ a lemon

 

METHOD

  1. Grind Peri-peri spices. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend well.
  2. Marinate chicken in mixture, if possible for several hours.
  3. Grill in the BBQ

Wine Pairings

 

Definitely you want to stick with Portuguese wines with your piri piri chicken. I am firm believer of food/wine pairings from the same country/region. From my experience, Piri Piri pairs best with fruity reds, not highly tannic complemented by smoky spicy aromas. In wine pairings, you want create a bridge between your dish and the wine. Here are my three reccomendations of the moment:

Quinta da Serradinha Vinho Tinto 2012. SAQ # 13286861, $25.00

A wonderful Gastronomic wine. A blend of Baga 35%, Castelão 30%, Touriga Nacional 20%, Alfrocheiro 15%. Alurring aromas of ripe dark fruit with soft balsamic nuances. Delicate nuances of wood in the background as well. On the palate, it is structured and very round kind of caressing your palate. Biological wine.

Vincente Leite de Faria Gloria Reserva 2016. SAQ # 11156297, $13.65

An outstanding Douro with amazing quality for the price it commands. Glorious floral nuances with red plum and cassis notes. Refined and dense in the palate with Madagascar vanilla bean notes and licorice candy. Long finish.

Cabriz Colheita Selecionada 2015. SAQ # 13279872, $13.25

Another outstanding value wine that overdelivers for less than $15. A fantastic nose that recalls aromas of blueberry and raspberry jam with savoury notes of wild cooking herbs. On the palate, it is juicy with a terrific concentration and a lingering finale that recalls tobacco leaf, black pepper and wild sage.

Qu’est-ce que je bois ce soir?-Bien sûr, des vins portugais!!

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Todd Bandy-Blue Wine Bottle Still Life

Être un amateur de vin passionné est parfois une bénédiction et une malédiction. Il y a tellement de vins à essayer et le temps et l’argent sont limités, je trouve

Aussi, J’aime cuisiner est c’est encore pire. Souvent, Je passe la plus grande partie de la journée à penser à quoi boire avec mon dîner et mon souper. Je ne me plains pas, je suis un hédoniste avoué. J’aime boire et manger et passer un bon moment.

” Manger et boire réunit le corps et l’esprit” ( Proverbe Alsacien). Dans cet état d’esprit, j’écris ces recommandations:

Vins Portugais

La diversité du vin qui vient du Portugal est extraordinaire. C’est le moment de boire des vins portugais.Maintenant ou jamais!!!. Voici quelques-uns des meilleurs choix de la dernière foire aux vins portugaise qui s’est tenue à Montréal au printemps dernier

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Herdade do Sobroso Cellar Selection Syrah & Alicante Bouschet 2015 ( Importation privée, Importations Epicurienne)

Herdade do Sobroso est une belle propriété rurale dans l’Alentejo, avec 1600 hectares de superficie, dont seulement 52 sont plantés de vignes, qui partagent le paysage avec des chênes-lièges, des chênes verts et des oliviers. Les animaux sauvages tels que le cerf, le sanglier et le mouflon (une sorte de mouton), ainsi que les chevaux, habitent la propriété, qui est aussi une réserve de chasse.
Le Cellar Selection 2015 est une coupage à parts égales de Syrah et Alicante Bouschet, deux raisins très bien adaptés au climat de l’Alentejo. Avec un bon corps et une bonne texture, il est vielli 12 mois en fûts de 500 litres de chêne français de première et deuxième utilisations, ce qui lui donne une plus grande élégance sans l’exagération qui caractérise souvent l’utilisation de fûts de chêne neufs (225 litres).

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Cabriz Espumante Natural DOC Dao Portugal ( Importation privée, Vins Fins)

Quinta de Cabriz est une propriété proche de Carregal do Sal qui, à partir de la fin des années 80, est devenue un projet vinicole de grande envergure et d’ambition, devenant l’un des principaux promoteurs du développement de la région de Dão.  En plus des 40 hectares de son propre vignoble, Cabriz accompagne et guide la production de raisins sur plusieurs centaines d’hectares appartenant à des vignerons de la région. Aujourd’hui, les vins de la société sont les leaders des ventes de Dão sur le marché national. Quinta de Cabriz est la maison mère du groupe de vins Global Wines, avec des vignobles et des vignobles dans plusieurs régions portugaises.

Un grand vin mousseux de qualité, fabriqué selon le méthode classique de fermentation en bouteille. Basé sur un vin blanc issu des cépages Malvasia et Bical, il apparaît élégant, frais, persistant et équilibré en bouche.

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Carm Maria de Lourdes Douro 2016 ( SAQ # 13114453, $28.70)

Avec environ 130 ha de vignes, 220ha d’oliviers et 60 ha d’amandiers, les fermes CARM sont situées dans le Douro, dans la municipalité de Vila Nova de Foz Coa, où coexistent en vie organique dans le parc archéologique Vallée de Côa, Parc Naturel International du Douro et Douro et Région viticole de Porto.

Vignerons depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, ils ont  introduit  la production de vins biologiques(pionniers au Portugal) dans presque avec la construction de un  cave en 2004, où la dernière technologie est utilise pour obtenir les meilleurs raisins.

Un vin très frais et complexe avec des notes d’agrumes et de pamplemousse en harmonie avec de délicates nuances florales et des notes minérales prononcées caractéristiques du terroir du Douro.

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Herdade do Peso Sossego 2015 Alentejano Vinho Tinto.

Herdade do Peso occupe une superficie totale de 457 hectares. 160 hectares sont actuellement plantés et comprennent 152 acres de raisins rouges (Aragonês, Trincadeira Alfrocheiro, Periquita, Moreto et Touriga Nacional) et seulement huit hectares de raisins blancs (Antão Vaz et Arinto).

Herdade do Peso est situé à Pedrogão dans la commune de Vidígueira – un nom reconnu pour son abondance de vignes, telle est l’importance de cette agriculture dans cette région. La propriété comprend un barrage, qui occupe 20 acres et fournit de l’eau nécessaire pour irriguer le vignoble ainsi qu’une vaste oliveraie.

Dans le nez se démarque l’arôme intense des fruits rouges et une certaine présence de bois, où il mis en scène. Dans la bouche a une attaque légère, avec des tanins présents, mais élégant. Il a une acidité équilibrée et une longue finale.

Les vins de Casa Amarela ( Importation privée, Le Marchand du Vin )

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Je suis tombé amoureux des vins de Casa Amarela dans le salon du vin portugais!!!

Presque caché au cœur de la région du Douro, entre le Peso da Régua et Lamego, Quinta da Casa Amarela est un petit producteur de vin du Douro et du Porto qui existe depuis 1885 et est déjà dans la 3ème génération.

Dans le Reserva 2014, il y  a des notes de fruits mûrs avec des touches florales. Aussi on trouve des épices, vanille et mocha également. En bouche est doux, avec une bonne concentration, une bonne acidité, équilibré et tanins mûrs.

Selection Km 15  a fasciné mes sens avec ses arômes  de baies noires et rouges. Bouche douce et fraîche, présentant une bonne profondeur de sensation en bouche. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz

Le Tinto 2016 a des arômes de mûres, de fleurs et d’épices ainsi que de fines notes de chêne. En bouche, le vin est lisse avec une belle concentration et des saveurs de mûres, de réglisse complétée par une belle acidité et d’équilibre

Merci aux Vins du Portugal Canada pour l’invitation

Survivre à la canicule avec un verre de vin rosé

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Les prochains jours sont censés être très chauds. La température augmentera dans les +30. Ne vous torturez pas et prenez un verre de rose. Gardez votre vin rouge quand il sera un peu plus frais. Rappelez-vous ce que dit la télé. Il est important d’être hydraté!!!. Voici trois vins que vous devriez boire:

C’est la Vie Syrah 2017. SAQ # 11073918. $12.55

Tout le monde devrait avoir quelques bouteilles de ce vin pendant l’été. C’est le vin d’urgence lorsqu’il fait très chaud ou que des invités inattendus envahissent votre piscine. Un vin très frais avec de délicieuses saveurs de fruits rouges et une belle acidité. Rien de compliqué ici. Buvez dans votre piscine et avec des hot-dogs grillés. Satisfaction garantie

Casa Santos Lima Lab 2017. SAQ # 13567170. $10.85

Je me demande ce qui se passe réellement dans l’esprit de ces joggeurs qui aiment courir quand il y a 40 dehors. Sont-ils en délire à cause de la chaleur? Si vous voulez faire une charité, asseyez-vous dehors dans votre maison et quand vous en apercevez un, donnez-leur un verre de ce vin. Ils vous remercieront pour toujours.

Un vin charmant plus floral que fruité. Frais avec une touche de douceur accueillante. Buvez-le avec ce pad thaï, parce que je sais que vous ne cuisinez pas dans ce temps misérable

Mateus 2017. SAQ # 00000166. $9.50

Faites attention à ce que vous allez dire maintenant. Mateus est le vin préféré de ma mère et si vous le désapprouvez, je vais le prendre comme une insulte à la famille !! ( je rigole)

À un moment ou un autre, vous avez probablement eu ce vin. C’est le rose qui se vend le plus au monde.

C’est doux, pétillant et séduisant. Je suis sûr que votre mère aimerait aussi et coûte moins de 10 $

Je veux rester bref parce que je sais que vous devez acheter du vin.

Bonne canicule !! Ciao

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.