How to identify the hipster wine consumer

They lurk sometimes around you. If you are lucky, you can spot them in your friendly SAQ outlet buying that rare orange or natural wine. However, this is not their preferred habitat. They buy mostly privately and hang out with the hottest sommeliers in the latest artsy restaurants

My non wine friends asked me about these new wine consumers. I made up a sketchy point list of features. Maybe you can add a few more to complete the list.

-They love wines with high volatile acidity. It has to be slightly deviant at the least to be attractive

-They are attracted to rare and obscure grapes. For instance, they love the occult Italian grapes from Piedmont, Tuscany and Sicily.

-Adverse to the classical European wine regions. Allergic to Bordeaux, Classical Rioja and can go in shock in the presence of Super Tuscans.

– They all share a fascination with wine domaines that years ago where not in fashion but only known to wine connoisseurs

-They can’t tolerate oak and only swear by stainless steel in their wines, mostly

Now some demographics and sociological factors:

-Yuppie or moneyed professionals. These are the lawyers, bankers or business marketing people or IT people. They are making at least a 6 figure salary.

-Between their 30 and mid 40’s

-They love to eat in artsy restaurants with china from another time and small portions

-They live mostly in trendy neighborhoods and disdain the suburbs

I like them and they bring diversity to the wine world. Hope you liked this post. I did it while my daughter was in dance class

Cheers!!

A pretty Petite Sirah

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Californians wines still remain a mystery to me even though I have been drinking vino for the last 20 odd years.

It’s rare to find a Petite Sirah in the SAQ shelves, so when I spot one, I quickly jump to taste it.

In a recent visit to my local SAQ, the label of Cris Cross captivated my attention. From far, it looks like ancient fossils but it actually is boot prints !!

The winery is a joint venture between Lange Twins winery and Vina del Sol, an American wine conglomerate.

The fruit from this wine comes from mostly Clarksburg and a bit of Lodi Vineyards.

I came across this nice article in the San Francisco Gate that talks about the Clarksburg wine Industry. It came to me as a surprise that the two of their signature grapes were Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta brings fresh ocean breezes and helps foster a cool microclimate.

Lodi is red wine country and its sandy soils combined with warm climate yields generous wines. It is Zinfandel country but host other grapes such as Petite Sirah. So this wine is the best of both worlds: Elegance and Power.

This Petite Sirah 2015 has bittersweet chocolate, dry prunes complemented by blueberry jam with vino cotto spices. Creamy with a good balanced finale. Faithful to the grape style. Highly recommended for $24.25 for your next meat BBQ.

Seduced by the charm of Provence rose

I came to really appreciate provence rosé wine in my mid twenties trough my Parisian wine mentor Christine. Much like new oenophiles, rosé wine was an afterthought for me. The traditional dictum that I held in my mind was that “pink” wine was not worthy of contemplation. Was I wrong?. Very much, I admit.

My 101 introduction to Provence rosé was no less than Château Simone paired with Petit farcis. The setting for the encounter was a cold January winter night in an old and decaying Côtes Des Neiges apartment. After all this years, I still think that it was a great masterclass

An iconoclastic wine, it hooked me up right away to the style. There was a serenity and calm to this wine that deeply hypnotized me and took me to the sunny lands of Provence. My curiosity for Provence and its wine scene in general was also sparked after reading a year in Provence by Peter Mayle.

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Source: Telegraph India

I was shocked to find that Mr. Mayle passed away earlier this year. If I could, I would have eat the words of a year in Provence. It was such an appetizing book.

Since the early 2000’s, the selection of Provence roses have improved modestly in the SAQ. I don’t have all the exact figures yet but I can say that Provence roses is enjoying more than a momentum. Exports of Provence wines to Canada soared by 38% in 2016 (source: CIVP et Douanes françaises). By the way, Provence rose is good for all the seasons, not exclusively for the summer. I have enjoyed it with fine and elegant suppers and down to earth BBQ’s. It is just a question of creativity and thinking outside the box.

Because we cannot drink Chateau Simone all the time, here are two great roses to get you started for the exploration of Provence

Château la Martinette Rollier de la Martinette 2017. SAQ # 13448699, $21.70

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Rollier de la Martinette is inspired after the Roller bird pictured on the label; these birds migrate from Africa to Southern Europe and Château de la Martinette where they try to eat off the delicious grapes in the vineyards.

A blend of 40% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Tibouren. This display a beautiful pale salmon colour; though it looks quite delicate, this vintage has an intense note-honey, lavender, peach, white lilacs and cantaloupe. The wine is crisp and round with a long floral and mineral finish. An enticing finale that brings to mind tangerines and white cranberries. The 2018 should arrive soon at the SAQ shelves.

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This is a great wine for drinking with barbeques, pizzas or as an aperitivo with tapas. It could also go well with other strong flavoured dishes such as curries or strong cheeses.

Clos de l’Ours L’Accent 2017. SAQ # 13919438, $26.40

Michel Brotons makes one of the best roses from Provence from Clos de l’Ours. I recently it discovered at the recent  Salon de Quilles Montreal.

The property was restored  just a few years ago, in 2012. Situated  just south of the Provençal village of Cotignac in the Var, in the northern tier of the appellation Côtes de Provence, this is a pretty  property with 13 hectares (32 acres) of vines and a charming guest house.

The rose is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Floral with nuances of tangerine and  hints of melon. On the palate,  delicate with flavours of lavender, white peonies and a creamy finale. A truly gastronomical rose.

Two “Blue Chip” roses for Spring celebrating

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In the investment world, Blue Chip companies are the captains of their industry. These are safe and profitable enterprises that can weather adverse economic conditions and still deliver a consistent return on investment.

How does this apply to wine?. A wine producer or estate must be able to deliver a consistent and high quality product vintage after vintage. It is understandable that a wine will reflect the character of its vintage but the winemaker must be able to navigate adverse conditions and deliver a sound product. After all, in a pragmatic perspective, wine is just an economic commodity with an opportunity cost.

Who are the blue chips estates of wine?. These are the grand chateaux of France, the famous Tuscan or Spanish estates to mention a few. What do they have in common?. These producers have an established track record of consistency in wine production.

This concept can also be micro applied as well not only to the most famous name but also the small artisanal producer. What’s important to remember is result consistency.

Bottom line: treat your wine drinking like your money investing strategy and you won’t be disappointed.

Whispering Angel is the successful commercial brand of this famous Provence rose from Caves D’Esclans by Sacha Lichine. Bordelais by origin, Sacha has worked in every aspect of the wine industry. The notoriety of this wine can be attributed not only from its magnificent terroir and winemaking but as well to the business acumen of Monsieur Lichine. Sacha’s American business education and broad International wine industry experience has served me strategically well to promote his wine and overall Provence rose wine drinking.

Whispering Angel sells in more than 100 countries worldwide and has 20% market share just in the U.S wine market. It’s success can be attributed because it is well perceived among all the stakeholders of the wine industry: From the millennial wine critic to the most demanding wine critic.

This is a majority blend of Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah and Tibouren. Pretty nose of cantaloupe, white peonies with a very refreshing acidity. Quite an appetizing wine that would be awesome with grilled seafood. At the SAQ for $26.90 ( 11416984)   for the 2018

Another all time favorite rose of mine is Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel 2017. Tavel is the only appellation in the Rhone Valley that strictly produces rose wine. Tavel roses have more weight and structure than your standard French rose wine. The aromas are spicier with darker fruit undertones, kind of like walking the fine line towards a light red wine.

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Domaine de la Mordoree is the project of father and son Francis and Christophe Delorme. Its  vineyard holdings group together 50 ha in 8 municipalities across 38 parcels in the Rhone Valley. In 30 years, Francis Delorme elevated this domaine and  consequently the appellation to one of the best of the Rhone Valley and the world.

Sadly Christophe passed away in 2015 but his work legacy continue in the hands of her wife and daughter Madeleine and Ambre. This domaine is in  totality biological with a biodynamic approach.

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Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and tuna rio mare

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2 Pizzas: tomato meat sauce and rapini with mushrooms

La Dame Rousse is a mix of Grenache 60 % Cinsault 10% Syrah 10 % Mourvèdre
10% Clairette 5% Bourboulenc 5%. The vineyards are relatively old ( 40 years) and they grow in a mix of terroir that include rocky and sandy soils

Very pleasant on the nose with floral aromas reminiscent of potpourri, watermelon with a hint of violets and strawberry ganache. Dry and structured on the palate with a perfect tension between acidity and ripe fruit. Smoky finale.

One of the few roses that  can stand up to savoury flavors of tomato based pastas and pizzas. The 2017 retails at the SAQ for $31.25 ( 12376881). It is a must buy for your upcoming BBQ’s as well.

asparagus barbecue cuisine delicious

Grilled pork tenderloin with asparagus

Disclaimer: The above wines were tasted at my local SAQ outlet in Repentigny, Quebec. The author does not have any commercial relationship with the importers and these were not samples

Celebrating Spring with Domaine Mosse

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Tomorrow marks the first day of Spring and what better way to celebrate it with a glass of sparkling wine. A good glasss of bubbly is festive but not all sparkling wine is made equal. I adore to drink sparkling while BBQ as an aperitivo or if am sitting in my terrace enjoying a smoke

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Not too long ago I share with  a friend a magnum of Domaine Mosse Moussamoussettes.  It happens often among wine buddies that we buy a wine case and split it with other wine lovers.

Domaine Mosse is a leading natural wine  producer from the Loire of delicious wines particularly those made with Chenin Blanc. This producer have a cult following among natural wine lovers in Montreal. Cant wait to try their other wines including the magic of juju

This pet nat rosé is  made by onefrom Gamay and Grolleau Gris.  It is juicy and brisk, flavors of baked peaches, herbs and a touch of watermelon and red oranges.  A bit funky as well in a good way. Refreshing, fruity. Delightful. Incredible drinkability and dangerous too!!!. A great food pairing wine with cheese or baked omelette!!!

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If you live in Quebec, you can get it privately via its importer Le Vin Dans Le Voiles. 

The standard bottle (750 m) will set you for $38.52 for a 12 bottle case. It is available at the moment. The magnum will be available as of June and it trades for $75.88 ( 6 bottle case)

Highly reccomend it and a must try to explore a natural alternative style of sparkling wine.

Chartier Créateur d’Harmonies Fronsac 2015

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I love good Bordeaux but it has gotten a bit expensive for my wallet. So when I hear, under $20 and the reputation of an excellent vintage for Bordeaux is music for ears. Add to this, a famous name behind the bottle and I got myself a symphony.

Chartier is a well know personality in the world wine industry. Either you love or hate it, it is up to you. He was best world sommelier ( Grand Prix Sopexa 1994) and has published more than 24 books since 1996. Now he makes terrific wines. His critics say he is a sold out, making commercial wines. I totally disagree, he is a pragmatic businessman making outstanding value wines.

Since 2011 he has been on the other side of the fence with his French and Spanish wine project. He is a producteur négociant-éleveur and his wine get better and better with each vintage. It success can be attributed to of course his experience but also his collaboration with Bordeaux winemaker Pascal Chatonnet, his partner in the enterprise.

Fronsac is a “satellite” appellations of Bordeaux that includes Côtes de Castillon, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac, Canon Fronsac, Bordeaux Superieur, Entre Deux Mers and Côtes de Bordeaux and it shined on the 2015 vintage.

In recent years Fronsac has been enjoying great critical acclaim for high quality Merlot driven wines made from top notch clay and limestone terroirs.

The 2015 vintage is terrific displaying ripe but not overly concentrated notes of morello cherry, raspberry with leafy blackcurrants and cedar. On the palate, it is round with sweet mouth coating tannins. The wine spent mostly 14 months in one and two years old barrique which gives the wine a creamy and satiny texture with not too much wood retronasal flavors. It is racy and quite long in the mouth. If you have some in your cellar, hold to it for another 5 years and you will be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t, get yourself a case and stash it away. The 2015 currently retails at the SAQ ( 12068070 ). One of the best Bordeaux available at the SAQ for under $20. ( $18.05)

 

A glass of vino with chicharron!!

The simplest wine pairings are the best. Sometimes what we really need with that special bottle is just a tasty bowl of our favorite snacks be it chips or chicharron ( pork rinds)

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I don’t do potato chips or other corn-based since following a low carb diet lifestyle. On an occasional basis, you will see me enjoy a small bowl of popcorn. However, what I really enjoy and can eat without counting carbs  is a nice bowl of chicharrones. In my teenage years, living in Venezuela, I would enjoy them  with a cold beer or a rum with coke. nowadays, beer and rhum are not my favorite drinks.

This also being the beginning of sugar shack season, you will also see pork rinds in many cabanes de sucre. Actually, I will skip the sugar shack this year due to my dietary restrictions.

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So what to drink with your chicharrones?.  Basically, you should eyeball a medium body red with some tannins for the fat but not too much because the salt will accentuate the tannic sensation in your palate. Sparkling wines and Champagne work best because they will cleanse your palate. The above pictured wines are excellent and affordable choices for your next piggy snack!!!

Domaine des Hauts Baigneux Spontané Blanc 2017. SAQ # 13879801. $24.45

This beautiful ” pet nat” is the brainchild of star winemakers Nicolas Grosbois and Philippe Mesnier ( Domaine des Hauts Baigneux). Although working from the Loire Valley, they also source grapes from the French Southwest  ( Semillon, Len de l’el and Mauzac) to make this wine.

Very aromatic nose reminiscent of japanese pear, rose water and vanilla bean. On the palate, dry and slighty saline with a long and pure finale.

Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne 2016. SAQ # 00142448, $25.10

Faiveley is a well established name in Burgundy and does not need an introduction in these pages. This famous  company has been based in Nuits St Georges since the days of Pierre Faiveley who founded the business in 1825. His son Joseph gave his name to the enterprise, to be followed by the first François, Georges who was instrumental in founding the Chevaliers du Tastevin, Guy who developed the business in the Côte Chalonnaise, François who has recently retired and now his son Erwan, born in 1979.

Lovely Pinot Noir with hints of smoke and sun-dried tomato laced with strawberry puree and bright raspberry undertones. On the palate,  structured with soft tannins complemented by delicious flavours of licorice and black fruits.

Podere Castorani Cadetto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015. SAQ # 12494651. $18.40

Podere Castorani is the wine project of F1 star Jarno Trulli and his family in the Abruzzo region. Although a big estate in the region, Castorani has been making high quality wines since 1793

Textbook Montepulciano nose reminiscent of dark plums and cherry. Full body, yet fruity with lush and chewy tannins.

Disclosure: The wines above were tasted at the A3 Quebec February press tasting.

 

 

Domaine Turner Pageot La Rupture 2015

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By the way…as I am writing these lines, I am listening to Maria Callas

Sauvignon Blanc wines are not very common in Southern France. Bordeaux and Loire, yes but not in a place like Gabian in Languedoc.

I first heard about Domaine Turner Pageot while taking a sommelier course at the ITHQ. Luckily for me Emmanuel Pageot came to visit us one evening  and explain to us the students his vision of Biodynamics in the Languedoc Terroir. Since then I became hooked to the domaine and biodynamic wines in general.

L’Existence des Choix

In every bottle of Turner Pageot we can find the above small heading which translated in English means, the existence of Choice. You can make cold and soulless wines or wines full of life. In every bottle of Turner Pageot, wherever is Le Blanc, 48h, Le Rouge, La Rupture, Carmina Major, B 815, G 230 or Les Choix, you can taste a piece of authencity which is the trademark of the artist that communicates the lifeforce of the terroir. This is what you will find in Turner Pageot.

La Rupture 2015 ( around $33.69. Six pack case, Private Import-Raisonnance agence. Florian Maziere. florian@raisonnance.net)

The ‘rupture’ referred to in the name is with standard winemaking, as 20% of this full-bodied southern French white has macerated on its skins during fermentation, like red wine.

A Sauvignon Blanc unique ( because it does not taste like Sauvignon at all) with sunny accents. Lovely nose reminiscent of anis with complex floral nuances such as white rose and vanilla as well. With some aeration, citric fruit aromas emerges such as grapefruit peel, lime confit lemons and a lovely delicate note of roasted sesame seeds. Dry and quite saline in the palate, very pleasant.  Round and quite digest like the French would say. A captivating perfumed  finale bringing to mind burning hay and nectarine. Unique with a distinctive personality. Perfectly made. A great wine experience, but must important that it feels alive.

I found this video that describes in more depth the philosophy of the wines of the domain:

 

By the way, Emmanuel Pageot will be in Montreal this week ( next Wednesday and Thursday at Chez Victoire   presenting his wines as a part of the gastronomical suppers organized for the Montreal Lumiere Festival. There might be some place left but if you wish you to attend please contact the restaurant directly.

Cheers!!!

Que seras, mi Syrah!!

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My love affair with French Syrah goes back to my early years of wine drinking. The bottle that started my sentimental affair was a Chave Hermitage Rouge 1998. It was seduction at the first sip with its occult raspberry and blackberry undertones but what really felt like lovemaking was the sanguine and animal quality that only Northern Rhone Syrah can give.

Bordeaux and Burgundy are cold to me. Every time that I drink a super Rhone syrah, I always get that feeling that the wine is stripping me slowly. The foremother of my  wine passion, Christine  always use to tell me that eventually all wine roads lead to Syrah. There is something elusive and highly passionate about drinking a St-Joseph, Crozes or Cote Rotie.

In a perfect world, I will drink Hermitage on a daily basis. However, the most famous cru of the Northern Rhone could be like a high maintenance girlfriend. It is nice to have it from time to time but it could burn you if you have it often. Oh yes, passions can kill you.

Here are three lovely examples of Northern Rhone Syrah that you can find in the Quebec market. They are nicely enjoyable and wont kill you like the black spider. Enjoy. Whats the perfect food match of Northern Rhone Syrah?. It is grilled meat. So take out the snow from your BBQ and get grilling.

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Domaine Grangier Reflets de Syrah 2016. SAQ # 13113750, $31.25

Notes of spearmint, licorice with violets and fragrant summer blackberries and a hint of horsesaddle, cocoa as well.  On the mouth, delicious and dangerously fruity. Long and round in the palate, it is a charmer with a rich yet balanced finale.  Very smooth with fine cashmere tannins. Delicate flavours of korean BBQ and anis complement uplift this beautiful St-Joseph.

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Domaine Monier Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah 2016. Private Import ( Les Vins Dame-Jeanne, $30.87, Six bottle case)

A trascendental nose. It goes beyond the usual suspect aromas of dark blue fruits. Taking it to another level, the word complexity for an entry level Northern Rhone Syrah. Aromas of olive tapenade, roasted seaweed with an intense nose of iron verging towards dry blood. Yes, it has an electric charge of electric  blueberry nuances. Structured and opulent on the palate, yet so easy to drink with those seducing tannins. Long and meaty finale.

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Maison les Alexandrins par Nicolas Perrin Crozes-Hermitage 2015. SAQ # 12661826, $29.10

Dark fruits with that sensational dusty minerality of the appellation. With some aeration in the glass a bit of black smoke and blueberry character on the glass as well. On the mouth, dense and finely concentrated with muscular tannins.

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Cheers my dear readers!!!

 

 

Valentine’s day wine pick

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I spent a very pleasant St Valentine’s day evening in the company of my wife and daughter. Being a weekday, we decided to stay home. To please the two femmes of my life, I cooked salmon fillets poached in butter with a spinach, mushroom and bacon saute.

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My wife is not a big wine drinker. She occasionally enjoy a glass of vino once in a while. Her favorites grapes are Pinot Noir and Gamay and she is not into too much into natural or biodynamic wines.

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Stefano at RAW Montreal 2018

I pushed my luck and decided to pair my dish with the rosato of Stefano Amerighi in Tuscany. Stefano has the best Syrah in Tuscany and even in Italy. This rosato is strictly made with Sangiovese and it was just so harmonious with the dish. It was richer and more complex than other rosatos from Tuscany. After some instropection on, it brought to mind a Tavel. It had a dense core of strawberry laced with raspberry, leather and a hint of spice. Structured with enough body to balance the richness of the dish.

My wife really enjoyed and I knew for sure because she had 2 full glasses which is rare. She kept saying it was so good. I was very happy and relieved at the same time. I was concerned whe would dislike the wine because it is biodynamic.

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This rosato is available privately by its importer: Le Vin dans Le Voiles. This agency has really a very interesting Italian wine portfolio. It retails for $29.84 and comes in 12 bottle case. Sadly, it is not available at the moment, so you better reserve with the agency for the next arrival.

Salute!!. What was your Valentine’s vino?