Aperitivo, Quebec style!!!

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For St Jean Baptiste, why not drink something local, to celebrate Quebec National day. After all, it is not only a celebration of the French Canadian nation but also of our local products. Here is my modest selection of local products to animate the festivities:

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Domaine Lafrance Rouge Gorge Vermouth Blanc. SAQ # 13258246. $22.27, on sale from $24.75

Lovely aromatic on the nose. Cloves, anis, licorice. On the mouth, balanced, not too sweet, round with flavors bringing to mind chamomile oil, spearmint and green apple. To drink while preparing the BBQ.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Domaine St-Jacques Rosé 2016. SAQ #  11427544. $13,91, on sale from $15.45

On the nose, enticing aromas of cream soda with touches of raspberry confit and orange sorbet. Crisp and fresh with fruity aromas bringing to mind watermelon and nectarines. Subdued finale. Pair with salmon tartar, lobster rolls.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Coteau Rougemont Versant Rosé 2016. SAQ # 12644153. $!2.96, on sale from $14.40

A decent well made rose from Quebec. No brainer, with fruity red berries aromas. On the mouth, slight sweet with an impressive structure and medium to long finale. Pair it with chicken brochettes.

Have a good St-Jean and don’t forget to drink and eat local for the day!!

 

 

Under the spell of Provençal Rosè

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Provence lavender fields

Provence Apartment-reka.ch

I have never been to Provence. It is one of those places that I put on my bucket list of wish travels. Maybe one day, if i am fortunate enough, I will able to do a tour of the vineyards and drink on place their magnificent wines.

My connection with rose from Provence goes back with literature not by wine. You see, a few years ago, I started reading Peter Mayle, and right away felt in love with the Provencal lifestyle. Personally, it is a combination of both. Everytime, i take a sip of rose

The symbolism of rose from Provence is powerful among many wine drinkers. For many, it means a chic vacation wine. For foodies, an elegant rose for the table.  For artists, it represents the majestic colours of Provence. I take elements from the three above. No wonder Van Gogh moved to Arles and wanted to establish a colony of artists over there.

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Van Gogh- Le Semeur au soleil couchant

Situated in southeastern France, with its natural frontiers being the Rhône River to the west, Italy to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Provence has an heterogeneous, yet primarily limestone terroir, with a climate that is sunny, hot, and dry, typical of the Mediterranean. The Mistral over there is intense across the region  which is positively viewed during the summer months. It also protects the vineyards from diseases caused from humidity.

Provence Rosé wines are made from red grapes such as cinsault, grenache, syrah, cabernet-sauvignon, carignan, tibouren, and mourvédre. These grapes have dark red skins and white flesh that can be presses, which releases a light juice that is coloured by the ruby skins. The must can remain with the skins anywhere from 2-20 hours before the fermentation process begins. Most rosé wines are made in stainless steel vats, rather than barrels. Here we are looking for freshness primarily.

Finally, the process  takes at least two of the must batches and they are  blended together  to make the wine. Vinification is done  from single grape varieties. For instance, a varying amount of syrah can be combined with  tibouren to make the wine. Overall, making rose is more complicated than vinifying a white or a red. One mistake in the process and the wine is completely ruined.

Provence Rose and food

Provencal roses are the best partners for lighter dishes during the summer season. Because of their acidity and floral nature, they complement well grilled fish dishes with herbs infusions.  I like them well with ricotta based pizzas with arugula for instance and steamed seafood preparations.

Their versatility is an asset in the table. Unlike many roses, their subtle flavor profile and elegance will bring and make shine the flavours of a dish.  For instance, a rose from Provence will make shine the sweet flavours in a scallop and strawberry tartare. The crispness of the wine would provide an elegant lightness coming from the mild decadence of the scallop.

A modest selection of Roses available in the Quebec market

Le Pive Gris 2016. SAQ #  11372766. $15.05

Fresh with bright citrus red fruit aromas. Herbal nuances  as well bringing to mind fresh basil, thyme, lavender and thyme. On the mouth, medium body, crisp with a nice acidity. Flavors bringing to mind  candied fruit such as watermelon and cantaloupe with a hint of green apple nuances. Ripe and sexy, it smells of holidays. Quite delightful. Worth very much the $$ paid

C’est la Vie Petit Bonheur 2016. SAQ #  13188807. $14.55

It smells the good weather on holidays. Citrus aromas bringing to mind pink grapefruit, oranges and red cherry. On the mouth, medium body with easy going floral and spice nuances. Persistent finale. Lots of happiness for $14.55.

Château Vignelaure Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2016. SAQ # 12374149. $24.50

 Nuances of a heavenly garden. Lavender, roses, violets. On the mouth, crisp, very elegant with a fine structure. Garrique scented ( rosemary and wild fennel). Bright red fruits. Pair ir with a seared salmon fillet and blood orange salad.

Château Gassier Le Pas du Moine Syrah-Grenache-Cinsault Côtes de Provence 2016. SAQ # 13287995. $23.80

 Alluring and complex bouquet. Enticing aromas of padron peppers, tomato leaf, anis, cantaloupe and tangerines Crisp with a mouth-watering acidity. Delicate tones of grapefruit, sicilian oranges. Long and harmonious. Drink the bottle and fall in love with Provence. Pair it with grilled shrimps and an  olive fougasse.

Château Revelette 2016. Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence  SAQ # 13212002. $19.50

Delicious nose. Nuances of lavender, garrique, verbena. zesty tangerine, watermelon and pink grapefruit. It actually smell the sea and vacation. On the mouth, crisp, refreshing with a salty mineral taste more complex floral nuances ( white flowers, roses, margarites, etc). Delicate red berries flavours, extremely aromatic with a beautiful harmony and elegance. Will be perfect with grilled halibut and baby tomato salad.

La Source Gabriel 2015 Cotes de Province. ( Private Import, Charton-Hobbs, $20.90)

This Rose offers aromas of flowers and fresh citrus fruit on the nose. On the palate,  it is bright with fresh flavors of exotic fruit and lime and displaying a wonderful balance. Elegant and complex, enjoy it  as an aperitif or pair with seafood, light salads or other summer fare.

 

F1 racing with a Rhone taste

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It is that time of that year again in Montreal, F1 weekend, so I thought to be more than appropriate to talk about the wines of  Dirk Vermeersch, former F1 Belgian car racer.

I met Mr. Vermeersch on my previous press trip to the Rhone Valley in April. Before that, I had no idea who he was. Dirk is one of those relentless individuals, who cannot sit idle for a long time, just like a rambling racing car waiting to take off at the start line.

In 1999, after a succesful career in racing, instead of retiring, Dirk established himself in the south of France. With his family, he created one of the largest Bed and Breakfast of Provence. By coincidence, there was a small plot of Carignan in the property. Little by little, Dirk started tending the vineyard and eventually became a full time winemaker.  From Provence, Dick worked his way up to the Rhone Valley. After that the rest is history,  he got his fame by regularly earning stars in  the guide hachette and Robert Parker.

Officially in the year 2000, Dirk founded the winery- Maison LePlan-Vermeersch. This is a stunning property of 24 hectares at the Suze la Rousse village in the Southern Rhone Valley.

The name consists of two parts. “Le Plan” which is  the name of area in Tulette where the first vineyards of 1.78 ha were planted with Carignan grape variety in 1961. “Vermeersch” is the family name of the owners, originally from Bruges in Flanders / Belgium.

He is completely organic and uses state of the art technology to make the best wines. The vineyards have an average age of 40 years which yield low yields., 25hl per hectare. everything is artisanal, even the picking which is done by hand.

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Although I think that his wines are not very representative of the Rhone Valley, I applaud his drive, enthusiasm and marketing. Dirk’s wines are a meeting point between California and the Rhone. Everything from his wine is haute couture: from the liquid, bottle, and label and cork design. Definitely, he has become a sort of marketing wine guy in the region.

Here are some of his wines that caught up my attention at Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2017.

Wine Tasting:

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LePlan-Vermeersch GT-Viognier 2016.

( 100 % Viognier,Destemmed, fermentation 50% in steel tanks, 50% in brand new French barrels, aging inox 3 months )

Very perfumed with notes of Madagascar vanilla bean, honey. On the mouth, racy and very long with expressive notes of apricot confit, and whole cloves.  Classic round structure of a Viognier. Very elegant.

grand terroir rosé

LePlan-Vermeersch GT-Rose 2016

( 100 % Grenache, 2 days maceration, destemmed, low temperature fermentation in steel tanks and 33% in barrels, aging in inox 3 months)

Powerful and brilliant with notes of ripe red currants, strawberry,  eucalyptus balm and asian spices. Amazing balance. More finesse than concentration.

Cotes du Rhone Villages Suze la Rousse

LePlan-Vermeersch Suze-La-Rousse Classic 2016

( Syrah 50% – Mourvedere 50%, Steel tanks, destemmed, aging in inox for 3 months)

Wood smoke, asphalt with dry and jammy black fruits. Intense in the mid palate, with bold tannins, yet with a very balanced approach.

grand terroir carignan

LePlan-Vermeersch GT-Carignan 2013

( 100% Carignan from a clay-calcareous, pudding (rolling) stones terroir. Aging in a mix of american and french wood for 12 months)

Very sensual wine. Nuances of wood with deep layers of red fruit ( raspberry, pomegranate and strawberry). Multi-nuances of animal and flower notes. Graphite and pencil shaving as well. On the mouth, polished texture, racy and quite long with firm tannins.

 

 

 

 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the divine papal wine.

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The ex papal residence in Avignon

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the southern Rhône, comes  from the French for ‘the Pope’s residence’ and refers to a time period between 1309 and 1378 when the seat of the Papacy was based in Avignon.

Although legendary for allowing the use of up to 18 specified grape varieties, most of the red Châteauneuf is Grenache based which gives the wine  a deep colour, full structure, red and black fruit flavours, a plush texture and a generous high alcohol content.

Chateauneuf du Pape  is France’s first designated appellation. This is a sunny warm region with a rugged landscape – the soil is covered in big rocks, bigger than gravel but smaller than boulders, known locally as galet. This is critical in controling moisture evaporation from the soil. In addition, the rocks suck up the  heat during the day and send it  back to the vines  after the sundown, helping the  ripening process and imparting  them with the soft and lush richness the wine is renowned for.

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Galets. Source: Wine folly

If i go back to my early days of my wine career, my introduction to Chateauneuf du Pape was with La Fiole du Pape and Chateau de la Gardine. At the moment, I thougt that they were great bottles but with time i discovered other producers that were able to make speak more the terroir of Chateauneuf du Pape: Domaine du Vieux Lazaret, Clos de Papes,Domaine de Nalys,  and Château de Beaucastel. I have never tried a Chateau Rayas, they say is a mind blowing experience but also comes with a hefty price.

During my latest wine trip to the Rhone Valley for the Rhone wine fair, I had a chance to hook up with two of my favorite producers: Chateau Mont Redon and Domaine du Pegau.

I was quite lucky, since I was able to taste several vintages of both domaines back in the fair, which allowed me to get a character of both domaines.

Château Mont-Redon is very familiar for  those who are cognoscenti of the appellation and love Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  They are the owners of some of the best sites in the appellation.  Domaine Pegau has a long pedigree in the area as well.  The name Pegau (coming from a Provencal word for a wine jug found in the excavations of the 14th century in the Popes Palace in Avignon) was created in 1987, when Laurence Feraud after her wine studies went home to help her father Paul Feraud at the domain. The property is widely regarded as one of the leading producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The property consist  of eleven separate vineyard parcels scattered throughout the Courthézon,La Solitude and Bédarrides sector of the appellation.

Tasting Notes:

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Mont Redon Mini Vertical

2014

Piquillo pepper, red currants with chinese five spice, landing on a licorice and earth cloud. Fresh, digest and balanced with fine and firm tannins. Proyected maturity 10+

2013

More expressive than the 14, this vintage display leafy fieldberries with elegant nuances of rosemary and wild thyme. On the palate, it has a beautiful finesse, almost manicured with round and silky tannins. Proyected maturity 15+

2007

At 10 years, this Redon starts to enter the tertiary stage. Noble nuances of Porcini and Pied du Mort mushrooms. Mint and Lavender as well. On the mouth, despite the double digit age, the wine keeps a fresh poise maintaining the elegant and subtle character with precise tannins. Proyected maturity 5-10 years.

2006

A completely different wine than the 2007. This redon displays more evolved notes of brush undergrowth. Entincing notes of black truffle appears with mahogany wood and macerated herbs. On the mouth, it has more amplitude and it is heftier. Still quite an art beauty. Proyected maturity 5-10 years.

Domaine Pégau

2014

Roasted blackberries with strawberry jam. On the mouth, Powerful, austere and quite structured. Ample flavours of cherry in brandy, plums and blackberry fruit. The finale brings to mind dry sage and tobacco . Long lingering finish. Proyected maturity 10+ years

2013

Un vino bellisimo in this vintage. Charged  with dark, spicy red fruits and earthy, misterious animal nuances. On the mouth, a open style quite foward wine that you can enjoy drinking now but will keep as well. Proyected maturity 10-15 years

2012

On the nose, this Pegau display jam packed notes of crushed peppercorns, black raspberries, garrigue and kirsch. On the palate, the wine is full bodied, rich and lush, with sweet tannins that complement the plush  texture. Long and lingering finale. Proyected maturity 15+

Chateauneuf du Pape tasting back home.

Isabelle Ogier from Domaine de Nalys

Just before my trip to the Rhone, I had a chance to meet Isabelle Ogier, general manager of  Domaine de Nalys. Domaine de Nalys takes its name from the original founders of the estate who owned the property in the 1700’s. The domaine is located in the east of the Appellation, surrounded by vines at slight altitude with a splendid view of Mont Ventoux and the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Nalys took a direction in the realm of  the French Revolution when it was confiscated from its aristrocratic owners and sold to a group of local families.

In the 1950s, the winery when through change again when a doctor, Philippe Dufays, took over the property and began investing and experimenting with new winemaking techniques while building export connections. Following the death of his son, he sold the winery, which is now owned by French insurance company Groupama.

 

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Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Classic Cuvee 2012

 Complex nose. Tar, Hoisin sauce, dry black fruit and  animal nuances such as dry blood and barnyard aromas. Structured, yet fresh despite the hefty tannins. Lovely tobacco leaf finale. With will be at its prime in a decade but will continue to age for another one

Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Classic Cuvee 2013

 Richer than the 12. Jammy black fruit, violets and licorice. Spicier with iron and brown earth nuances Elegant with fine grained tannins. Flavors of maraschino cherry and a  very long finale. Will age wonderfully for a decade or two.

Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Chataigner 2013

Single vineyard wine  from old vines situated on poor sandy-textured soils of marine origin and a small part from “La Crau” vineyard with rounded pebbles.The blend is composed of 85% Grenache noir and of 15% Mourvèdre.

Tapenade with balsamic notes, intense nuances of black fruits. Fine palate. Silky with fine cashmere tannis. Very fresh. Spices that bring to paprika, criollo cacao beans and cofee.  Long and caressing in the mouth. A powerhouse with 30 decades of life ahead.

Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape La Reserve 2013

Intense and dark nose. Violets confit with Cofee, black cherry and cassis. Powerful. Spicy with expresso dark beans.Long and racy with lots of potential ahead .

Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2017-4/6. No great bottles, just great moments

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I can’t stop thinking about the Rhone, since I came back home. One of the highlights of my trip was the incredible supper that I had at the resto Le Mangevins, the day in the fair that we were at Hermitage. Nothing better than a great supper with some passionate wine colleagues and sharing some good tables and cracking a laugh or two. Here are some of the bottles that we share together on that magical evening.

Sketchy wine notes:

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David Reynaud Crozes-Hermitage 2015

Domaine les Bruyères is located  in Crozes-Hermitage at Beaumont-Monteux below the Hermitage hill in the Northern Rhone Valley.

The domaine is made up of 14.5 hectares in Crozes-Hermitage, and an additional 5.5 spreadin local villages amongst the Rhone hills. The vines grown in the domaine range between 20 – 50 years, of which the majority is biodynamic. Reynaud also has small plantations of Marsanne, Roussanne, Merlot and Viognier. The estate is 100 % biodynamic

Made from majority Marsanne with a little Roussanne. Aged mostly in cement egg with a third in  old and new barrel with a little lees stirring. Lovely, perfumed apricot with freshly picked peach nuances and a bounty of anis Full body and structured with spices and more floral nuances. Great and long mineral finish.

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Saint Peray 2013- Francois Villard

Francois Villard has established a solid reputation in the tiny Saint Peray appellation. The marsanne for this cuvee, grow in decomposed granite and argyle soils. This bottle that bear his name was aged 18 months in barrel.

An stellar white as well. Lavender, cloves, nutmeg, hazelnut and with lots of peach jam character. On the mouth, racy and mineral with an incredible freshness.  A finale that brings to mind roasted almonds

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Domaine du Chene Condrieu 2015

In 1985, Marc and Dominique Rouvière purchased a 5.5 hectare property in Chavanay in the center of Condrieu in the Northern Rhône, which they named Domaine du Chêne. They now own 16 hectares of vineyards with an average vine age of 35 years. They have three hectares of Viognier and seven hectares of Syrah in Saint Joseph

Stunning bouquet. Nectarines, with classy apricot touches  and nuances of  vanilla bean, Extremely exhuberant.  On the mouth, round and viscous with honey-lavender and creme brulee flavors. Very fresh finale.

 

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Dard and Ribo Crozes Hermitage, C’est le Printemps 2015

This was the star bottle of the evening. I got to now this producer by passionate wine fellow blogger from Finland, Sanna who wrote a wonderful piece on Dard and Ribo in her post: Gems of Northern Rhone, Part I: Dard and Ribo.

For additional information on this magical producer, please check it out the site of US importer, Louis Dressner. If I was on a desert island, I would bring a bottle of this wine with the novel: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, who recently passed away.

First impressions were of dark red wine, with stylized black pepper notes and raspberry sorbet that lingers in your nose finishing in a note feature in a musical black licorice note. Dont be fooled by the freshness of this wine, it has enough energy and vitality to stand in a decade in your cellar. A finale that brings to mind Tar, wild boar skin and an aftertaste that last for seconds. If you ever encounter this wine, buy by the magnum.

 

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Pierre Gaillard Clos de Cuminaille Saint Joseph 2014

The Clos de Cuminaille is one of the best terroirs of Saint-Joseph. It’s an east-facing, walled, single vineyard on Chavanay’s granite soils and each year it produces one of the most distinctive wines of the appellation.

When Gaillard bought this 3-hectare site, he passed on the opportunity to buy the now renowned La Turque vineyard in Côte-Rôtie, a site that he had helped to  plant. He simply believed the Clos de Cuminaille was the better site, which gives you an idea of why it yields such exciting wines.

Pure and enticing ripe black fruits. Violet confit and pipe tobacco. On the mouth, racy, elegant and very peppery. Amazing coca and coffee aftertaste. 

The food at Le Mangevins is quite amazing. Quite hidden in the town of Tain L’Hermitage, the resto offers simple yet well executed dishes. The resto is run by Keiko Yamada, and elegant Japanese chef whose elegant  techniques with premium  local ingredients make an explosion in your palate. The wine list is curated by her husband Vincent Dollat.  This is a wine lovers mine for Rhone lovers as the wine list feature many older Rhone vintages at very affordable prices.

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A lovely dish of seared scallops with oyster mushrooms and green peas cream.

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A succulent dish of seared lamb chomps with wild green asparagus in a wine reduction was also stunning with an Hermitage from Domaine Belle 2015

 

 

A discovery of the Rose wines of Tavel.

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When it comes to rose wine, the pink of wines of Tavel are a voyage to the unknown and mystical. A single appellation in the world can produce so many heterogeneous styles ranging from the light to the deeply structured.

The rosés from this pretty region in the southern Rhone Valley are remarkably different to the better knowns roses of Provence, located just a bit  further east along the Mediterranean coast. This is a truly proof that the concept of terroir really exist.

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In researching thia article, I found a beautiful reference in literature of Tavel roses. Balzac, the french novelist and playwriter named the wines of Tavel as ” king of roses.The vineyards of Tavel are located on the right bank of the Rhône on a plateau at the  south-west of Orange. The appellation can be grouped into three different terroirs: sand and clay in the south-east; alluvial terraces and pebbles in the north-west and limestone to the west. These warm soils (stones mirror the sun) and the very windy Mediterranean climate make this rosé wine intense, with fleshy fruit, structured and ample.

The grapes involved in the production of Tavel are the usual suspects of the Southern Rhone.Grenache and Cinsault are the key protagonists in Tavel, while Syrah, Mourvedre, Picpoul, Calitor, Carignan, Bourboulenc and Clairette are also permitted.

Tavel wine is a Rhône Valley Cru, and according to many Epicureans, considered to be the best rosé wine in the world. It is the only appellation in the Rhone that produces exclusively rose wines. If you want to taste the magic of Tavel, you have to come to France. According to InterRhone figures, only 35% of Tavel’s production is exported while the rest is consumed in the domestic market. ( 47% is sold in supermarkets while 18% in specialized trade stores. Source: Inter Rhone research.

I recently spent a few days in the Rhone Valley to assist in the Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2017. During the second day of the fair, Tuesday april 11th, I had the once in a lifetime chance to get well acquainted with the spirit of Tavel Roses. Most of the wines tasted were from exceptional 2016 which was a vintage with optimal weather conditions.

Here are my picks of the Tavels tasted at the Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône. Only 12 producers participated in the fair, while the appellation list more than 30. These are sketchy notes, so bear with me.

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Domaine La Rocalière Tavel Classique Rosé 2016.

Quite a gourmand nose. Ripe strawberry and raspberry. On the mouth, fruit with intricate notes of smoke, cracked black pepper and garrique Structured with a good tension.

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Domaine Florence Mejan Tavel 2016 Canto Perdrix 2016

Fresh nose. Quite mineral and floral. On the mouth, not very accentuated by the fruit but more along earthy lines.

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Chateau de Segries Tavel 2016

Lots of fruit depth in this tavel. Red oranges, citrus fruit. On the mouth, fine and very perfumed. Spicy finale.

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Domaine des Carabiniers Tavel 2016

Lovely interplay of fruit and flower. On the mouth, lots of depth and complexity. Very precise with lots of tension. My favorite of the tavels tasted in the fair.

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Domaine Amido Les Amandines Tavel 2016

Lovely red berry fruit. Crisp, medium body and very elegant.

Domaine Amido Les Gourmandines 2016

Similar red berry fruit profile than thes Amandines but striking depth in minerality.

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Chateau Trinquevedel 2016

Cool red berry fruit with citrus nuances. Vibrant and quite digest with a lemon verbena finish.

What to eat with Tavel Rose:

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Tavel is one of the few roses that can stand to the flavors of roasted meats such as rabbit or guinea pig. It is also a killer with mediterranean style foods such as Nicoise salad, oily fish or charcoal chicken or beef kebabs. It is because of the wine structure, minerality and crispness that provides a bridge to the bolder meat flavours. These are like the French call them, vins de gastronomie. They should be great companions for the BBQ season to come.

If meat is not your not cup of tea, Tavel should also appeal to those wine lovers that are looking to eat healthier. The wines should pair wonderfully specially with seafood cous cous dishes and grilled fish with salads.

As much of the consumption of Tavel is consumed in France, it is difficult to find it listed in the Canadian monopolies. For instance, the SAQ lists only 4 references as specialties while the LCBO only 2. It is the same situation with the BC liqour board. if you live in north america, your best alternative for a wide selection can be found in the United States.

 

 

 

 

Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2017-Day 1/6

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This week I am in france between the Northern and Southern rhone to tackle the vast world of Rhone Valley wines. From tomorrow until the 13th, I will be heavily inmersed in Rhone wines, which is one my favorites. This trip was sponsored by the Inter Rhone wine association.

Despite a sleepless flight from Montreal and a quick ride by van to Avignon, I find myself highly captivated by the quirky roman-gothic style of the city. With a sunny day and mild temperatures, and a unexpected brunch the trip is off to a good start.

Sunday brunch was a very informal affair at the Cloitre St-Louis, next to the Avignon Grand hotel, where I am staying for the next two days. Elegant brunch french fare starring roasted fish, black ink risotto with an assortment of focaccias, charcuteries and quiches.

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Got a chance to taste two wonderful whites Domaine de la Mordoree Lirac Blanc 2011 and a white Cairanne Cuvee D’Estevenas Corinne Couturier 2007. La Mordoree was a refined and quite elegat wine, showing intense floral, white nectarines and pear aromas. Round and fresh, it still has the lenght to age a decade or two.  An assemblage of 30% Grenache Blanc, 15 % Viognier, 15% Rousanne, 10% Marsanne.

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The Cairanne 2007 was powerful, rich and oily. Exotic aromas of guarana, passion fruit, with a hint of lemon confit and orange marmalade. Tight and potent with an unexpected brutish in a good way youthful finale. A predominant blend of Rousanne  with the rest Marsanne and Clairette Blanche  So little we know of the white Rhones and so much we need to discover still. Specially that they can age so well.

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Later on the evening, I went on to an informal party hosted by the Cairanne and Rasteau delegation AOP. The Cairanne appellation in the Côtes du Rhône recently obtained cru status, joining well-known names such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Crozes-Hermitage. Rasteau AOC was elevated to Côtes du Rhône Cru status in 2010.

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The informal tasting was a great opportunity to learn about Cairanne and Rasteau side by side. There are barely 17 wines of both appellations combined at the SAQ which is like a drop of water in the ocean, compared to the depth of wines tasted.

The Cairanne whites were lovely with pretty fruit undertones bringing to mind white nectarine and citrus fruit. On the palate, there were bright, elegant and quite balanced. Terrific companion with fish and seafood.  I will deeply miss these wines when I come back home.

The reds were quite terrific as well. My preference goes for the Cairannes which had lovely textures, silky and refined with lovely tannins. In contrast, the Rasteaus had more structure and weight on the palate.

Both wines respective aromas were amazing as well. More ripe red fruit with earth notes, in contrast with the dark-blue fruit notes of the Rasteau. Both wines also displayed licorice and balsamic and other anis influenced notes. These are the wines to drink with Mediterranean roast read meat dishes.

Roagna Barolo and Barbaresco 2005

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Paje Vineyard. Photo: Roagna

For more than two centuries, the Roagna family  has been making traditional wines in the Barbaresco commune in the beautiful wine region of Langhe of Piemonte. The artisanal winery is located in the fairy town of Barbaresco itself, near giants Gaja and Bruno Rocca

In recent years, Roagna has gathered attention from the hipster and natural wine drinkers and sommeliers worldwide. However, they have always been known by Nebbiolo cognoscenti by their expressive Barbarescos and Barolos,  can often age for decades, Roagna is one those nebbiolo rangers, making a modern interpretation of the classical wines that marked this region for so much of the 20th century.

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Luca Roagna. Photo: Roagna

Young Luca Roagna took charge in 2001 and has so far earned praise for keeping the company spiritof making classic wines with impressive structure, depth and aging potential. I have been drinking Roagna wines for a number years of now and they are all very impressive from their entry level Nebbiolo to their Barbera and Barolo and Barbaresco. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Luca in a wine salon organized by its importer Vini-Vins in Montreal, Quebec. I was really impressed by the dynamism and humbleness of this young winemaker.

Paje is located in the center of the Barbaresco town. The vineyard  faces Southwest with a predominant soil of calcareous marl soil and limestone.This soil was formed during the Tertiary (Cenozoic) period approximately seventy-million years ago as a result of marine sedimentation founder under the ocean which covered all of the land.

The Nebbiolo of Paje is about 25-50 years of age and Luca do a long fermentation that can last up to two months and the wine is aged for 5 years in neutral oak barrels. 2005 was a vintage overshadowed by the famous 2004. This was a vintage characterized by balance and harmony rather than power.

Tasting note:

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Roagna Barbaresco Paje 2005 ( From my cellar. Price paid $80-90) Importer: Vini-Vins

Greatness. A refined nose bringing out the best of nebbiolo that ages. Refined notes of valhrona cacao with cherry in eaux de vie. Also some mouth-watering notes of cooked pancetta, seaweed and tamari sauce. On the mouth, elegant and round with almost tamed tannins. Racy with flavors bringing to mind black truffle, prunes, licorice and Marsala. An infinite finale with still a story to tell. To revisit in a few years.

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Pira Vineyard. Photo: Roagna

Pira is a historic vineyard located in the village of Castiglione Falletto and originally owned by the noble family who had a private road owners of the castle a hundreds of years ago. The soil here has less limestone and is more rocky than Paje. Same vinification methods. If you taste those wine sided by side, you can really spot the differences in terroir.

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Roagna Barolo La Pira 2007 ( From my cellar. Price paid $80-90) Importer Vini-Vins

Another great bottle. So much different from the Barbaresco, yet made from the same grape. Dried rose petals, sour cherry with amazing depth of earth undertones. Delicate notes of mint, eucalyptus and subdued vegetal undertones ( wet tree leaves, shiitake mushrooms in brine). Whole cloves and dry bones. Animal nuances such as smoked meat as well.  On the mouth, heftier and more structured than the Barbaresco. Vibrant, yet with lots of tension and muscular tannins. A very pleasant tarry texture in the finish. Very earthy. Will be at its prime in a decade or two.

 

Falling in love with White Burgundy

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Montrachet is my fetish white from Burgundy

At the moment, I am in the process of moving. Not only I have to move my clothes, books and magazines, but I also have to think about finding my wine a new home. I am moving my collection to a wine storage facility. In the process of doing so, I am finding forgotten wines on my cellar. Last week, I found a couple of white burgundies from the 2010 vintage which has picked on my brain why I dont have more white wines on my cellar.

Over the years, I have gathered a respectable wine collection. I have the best that i can afford. My cellar is heavy on the french side ( Rhone, Bordeaux and a bit of Burgundy). I also a fair share of Italian wines ( Mostly Piedmont and Tuscany). 90 % of my cellar is red and 10% is white.

As i gather more experience in wine tasting, I find myself more attracted to white wines. It goes well my food diet too. I have cut down on the red meat and I am eating more fish & seafood, beans and poultry. The cuisine that i favor is Mediterranean, Latin American and recently with a bit of Asian too. Some of the whites that I really love come from Burgundy.

2010 was a classic year for white Burgundy. The season was cool and the reduced harvest helped preserve acidity and flavour. In addition, the winws have structure. The Premier and Grand Crus have a long live ahead.

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The whites of Burgundy mesmerize. Compared to reds, my knowledge of whites is quite limited. However, when I get to taste some, I get a big smile on my face. I think to myself, how Chardonnay can be different from one village to a town, or from a different location in a hill.

Other whites tasted recently

Gérald Talmard Mâcon-Uchizy 2015. SAQ # 00882381. $18.20

Mâcon is an region in southern Burgundy that produces red, white and rosé wines. Mâcon-Uchizy is an appellation that only allows Chardonnay.

Honey with nuances of  Camomille and Barlett Pear with a hint of minerality as well. On the mouth, full body, round and chunky. Very fresh and elegant. Great to have it with a chicken panini sandwich.

 

Domaine Louis-Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaulignot. SAQ # 00480285. $30.35

The vineyards of Chablis Premier Cru cover 750 hectares across 15 communes on isolated slopes with good exposure. The terroir there creates freshness and minerality, generous palate weight with lovely roundness in the world class wines produced there. As of 2009 there were 40 Premier cru vineyards, although some 89 climats are to be found there.

Situated in a side valley away from the main Serein river, this cool vineyard produces crisp, cool, stylish wines. Louis Moreau is a reference name for the wines of Chablis.

Lots of ripe pear aromas, almond milk with an elusive wet stone minerality. On the mouth, full body, round with and well balance between fruit and tension. Very citric finale.  Very long. Have it with a lobster mac cheese.

 

Domaine Bruno Colin Chassagne-Montrachet 2010 ( From my cellar)

Flatering nose bringing to mind brigt and acute barlett pear with peaches in conserve. With time in the glass, other notes develop such as smoked pineapple with notes of cloves, anis and white pepper. On the mouth, round yet with lots of tension. Bright flavors bringing to mind halzenut crisp with almond butter. Important acidity with a “wet stone and crumbled earth” flavor nuance on the mid palate. Very long aftertaste bringing to mind lemon pie filling with coconut and lime. This wine could continue aging for a few more years.

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Domaine A. & P. de Villaine Les Clous 2010. ( From my cellar)

Mr Villaine does not need an introduction. He is one of the coowners of la DRC, that makes some epics and grand wines of Burgundy. He makes very affordable wines in la Côte Chalonnaise. They age quite nicely. Also to try is its Bouzeron, a well made Aligote.

Honey with a sensation of bortritys. In addition, verbena leaf with apricot jam. White flower character that brings to mind peonies. As the wine warms up nuances of anis and smokehouse appear with that sublime smell of crushed wet rocks. More minerality appears bringing to mind lime and chalk. Structured with steely acidity. Flavors of pear, cloves and italians parsley. A finale that brings to mind a mix of hummus and cantaloupe as well. Fresh despite 7 years old. Salmon with dill sauce is my choice for pairing.

The problem of premature oxidation in the whites seem to be in control now. For the scoop, please red the article on Fine Wine. I do hope I continue to try some more Burgundy wines.

Another 07 bites the dust

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In keeping with the wine tradition, that i try to established since January, here is another 2007 that I picked from my cellar. My bordeaux stash is going down. Actually, no stash, more like a collection of disparate bottles from 2004,2005, 2006, 2007 and a bit of 2008 and 2009.

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Bernard Magrez is a self-made millionaire who made his fortune from drinks, creating and selling a range of drinks brands in France through his company, William Pitters. But since a long while he has been  involved in quite a different, more  high class business: for the last 20 years+ he’s been acquiring prestigious vineyards, first of all in Bordeaux, where he owns several chateaux, and more recently around the world.

Since taking over this fourth-growth estate, La Tour Carnet, Magrez did a complete makeover of  the vineyards, cellar and ancient Château, which now look pretty splendorous. . As with all his properties, winemaking is under the wingof consultant winemaker Michel Rolland, who Magrez has been working with for more than 20 years.

The style is lush and concentrated for a 2007’s. Clearly, the signature of Michel Rolland. However, despite its modern approach, the wine reflects its Medoc character. This was a pretty good wine despite the fact that2007 was a difficult vintage.

Tasting Note:

A Bordeaux of grand breed. Very enticing aromas of ripe cassis, grilled bell pepper, coffe, black cherry jelly. Cocoa powder with a meaty angle. An strange note of coal ashes, mingled with licorice and graphite On the mouth, very ample, lots of finesse. Suave in the midpalate with silky tannins. Decadent, with a delicate minerality. Ready to drink to know but will reach its peak in 5-7 years. I had it filet mignon on the BBQ