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C’était un jour feuille…

Soif d’ailleurs avec Nadia
par Nadia Founier

Nadia Fournier

Nadia Fournier

C’est maintenant un fait reconnu par la plupart des dégustateurs professionnels : les conditions atmosphériques ont un impact sur le goût du vin. En fait, on croit que ce serait plutôt la lune qui exercerait un effet sur le vin. L’idée est à ce point répandue que certains marchands d’Angleterre – un pays reconnu pour ses dégustateurs sérieux – ne font désormais goûter leurs vins qu’en des « jours fruits ». On les comprend : lors d’une telle journée, les vins afficheront généralement un caractère fruité plus expressif et seront plus séduisants. À l’inverse, il y a de fortes chances que les saveurs soient plus ternes, moins volubiles lors d’un « jour feuille », ou d’un « jour racine ».

D’abord utilisé par les vignerons adeptes de la biodynamie, le calendrier des semis, développé dans les années 1960 par l’Allemande Maria Thun, fait une distinction entre quatre types de journées : fruit, fleur, feuille et racine. Selon ce calendrier, certains jours seraient plus propices à la plantation, d’autres à la taille de la vigne, d’autres à la vendange. Dans le chai, mêmes constatations : certaines journées seront plus favorables pour un soutirage, pour une filtration ou pour une mise en bouteille. Partant de ce principe, il parait donc tout naturel que l’impact se mesure aussi sur le produit fini, non?

Plus qu’une simple vue de l’esprit, cette tendance se vérifie aisément si on s’exerce à une dégustation comparative sur le même vin, mais lors de deux journées lunaires distinctes. J’en ai moi-même fait l’expérience une fois de plus il y a deux semaines, alors que mes collègues et moi étions conviés à la dégustation du présent Cellier. C’était une journée feuille et c’était surtout une bien triste journée pour déguster. La plupart des vins manquaient d’éclat, de vie et offraient peu de plaisir olfactif.

À vrai dire, si ce n’était que j’avais déjà eu l’occasion de goûter plusieurs de ces vins au cours des derniers mois, lors de la rédaction du Guide du vin 2015, il est fort probable que je leur aurais attribué, à tort, une mauvaise note. Comme quoi, la dégustation est loin d’être une science exacte, tout comme le vin n’est pas un produit immuable. 

La Bourgogne à l’honneur

Parmi les produits mis en vente jeudi dernier, l’une des belles surprises est venue de cet excellent Mercurey blanc Premier cru Les Veleys 2012 qui marque une première pour Francois Raquillet à la SAQ. Un vigneron soucieux de faire parler le terroir et qu’il faudra surveiller de près au cours des prochaines années.

J’ai aussi été très heureuse de redécouvrir le Bourgogne Chardonnay Signature 2010 de Champy qui m’a paru nettement plus harmonieux que par le passé. Moins de bois neuf, mais plus de fraîcheur et de typicité. Bravo!

Francois Raquillet Mercurey Premier Cru Les Veleys 2012Champy Signature Chardonnay Bourgogne 2010Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis 2013Domaine La Croix Monjoie La Voluptueuse 2011

Sur un mode plus vif, le Chablis 2013 de Séguinot-Bordet mérite aussi une bonne note pour sa vivacité et son bon goût de menthe fraîche.

Dans la même région, mais en dehors de la zone de Chablis, le secteur de Vézelay peut aussi donner de très bons vins de chardonnay, marqués par la même tension minérale que son illustre voisin. La cuvée Voluptueuse 2011 de Domaine La Croix Montjoie en est un bel exemple.

En matière de vin rouge, il faudra aussi porter une attention particulière au Côte-de-Nuits-Villages 2012 de Remoissenet. Étonnamment fruité si on le compare à la plupart des autres vins dégustés cette journée-là et d’une tenue en bouche appréciable. Amateurs de bourgognes classiques, vous adorerez les 2012 !

Plus robuste, le Beaune Lulunne de Génot-Boulanger est une autre preuve – s’il en fallait une – de la grande qualité du millésime 2010 en Bourgogne. Une concentration surprenante pour un vin d’appellation communale et un vin à laisser reposer en cave encore quelques années.

Remoissenet Pere & Fils Cote De Nuits Villages 2012Château Génot Boulanger Beaune En Lulunne 2010Domaine Françoise André Chorey Lès Beaune 2011Domaine Brintet Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2011

Issu d’un millésime nettement plus compliqué, ingrat même diront certains, le Chorey-lès-Beaune 2011 de Françoise André est loin d’être dépourvu d’intérêt. Une interprétation un peu plus dépouillée du terroir de Chorey, qu’on pourra apprécier dès maintenant et d’ici 2018.

Bien qu’un peu austère il y a deux semaines, le Mercurey 2011 Vieilles vignes du Domaine Brintet faisait aussi preuve d’une bonne tenue en bouche, à défaut de fruit.

Quelque 9000 kilomètres à l’ouest…

La quête de climats frais – mieux adaptés à la culture du cépage pinot noir – a conduit la famille Jackson, propriétaire de La Crema, jusqu’en Oregon. Ce nouvel arrivé à la SAQ est pour moi une heureuse surprise. Rien d’excessif et exempt de cette détestable texture crémeuse et doucereuse qu’affichent tant de pinots d’Oregon. Le Pinot noir 2012 Willamette Valley a revanche une texture ample, manifestement issue de fruits parfaitement mûrs. Un « crowd pleaser », comme disent nos voisins du sud. Un bon vin de plaisir, à la fois nourri et harmonieux, et qui saura plaire à un large public.

La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012Ridge Lytton Springs 2012Seghesio Zinfandel 2012Domaine Baud Blanc De Blanc Brut

Stylistiquement à des lieues du pinot noir par sa générosité proverbiale et sa présence en bouche souvent capiteuse, le cépage zinfandel peut aussi donner des vins très harmonieux et aptes à la garde. On n’a qu’à penser aux vins de Sky ou de Joseph Swan, aux légendaires Lytton Springs et Geyserville de Ridge Vineyard ou encore aux vins de la famille Seghesio, qui s’inscrivent aussi parmi les beaux spécimens disponibles à la SAQ. Produit dans la vaste région côtière de Sonoma, le Zinfandel 2012 est le fruit d’un assemblage de raisins d’Alexander Valley et de Dry Creek Valley, où on obtient, grâce à une viticulture soignée et à des rendements limités, un vin à la fois juteux, gorgé de fruit, structuré et parfaitement digeste. Un régal!

Enfin, le clou de la dégustation était à mon avis l’excellent Crémant du Jura du Domaine Baud. Dégusté à l’aveugle, au milieu de champagnes et autres vins effervescents, c’est celui qui, indépendamment du prix, offrait le plus de plaisir aux papilles. Fin, singulier et distingué. Tout ça à 20 $ !

À votre santé!

Nadia Fournier

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 30 jours après leur parution pour les lire.


 

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Margaret Swaine’s Spirits Review – December

A Gift of Spirit for the Holidays
by Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

Margaret Swaine

The holiday season and Christmas will be upon us before we know it. I always feel a slight frisson when December hits knowing that there will be too much to do and not enough time. To make your gift giving a little easier, here are some suggestions for those spirit lovers on your list. Brown spirits and especially Cognac really max out in popularity during the winter months. The high end XO level for example sees almost half of its annual sales in November and December in many markets.

The city of Cognac in southwest France lies 110 km north of Bordeaux, close to the Marrenes-Oléron Atlantic basin where half of France’s oyster beds lie. The town thrived in olden days as an established centre of the salt trade, an activity which dates back to the 11th century. The Charente River winds through giving access to merchant boats. Early on the traders of northern Europe discovered the thin acidic wine which they brought back from there after delivering salt, survived the voyage better if distilled, and even more so when held in oak barrels. This improved “burnt wine” named after its city of origin is so much in demand today that most of it sells outside of France.

The top growing areas (crus) are named Grande and Petite “Champagne”, after the chalky whitish calcium rich soil. Beyond these two crus (known as Fine Champagne when combined in the bottle), are the Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Borderies. Ugni blanc is the main variety grown, a grape generally best when distilled. The young, always double distilled, grape spirit gives off floral aromas. Oak from French forests, toasted by fire when the barrels are made, add their aromas of vanilla, brioche and cocoa. Then slow oxidation in these barriques puts the final touches of mushroom, Roquefort cheese and leathery/nutty “rancio” to the mix.

Rémy Martin XO Excellence Cognac Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal CognacRémy Martin, founded in 1724, is the sole great cognac house to use only eaux-de-vie from the two best crus of the region namely Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. Their latest product launch is the 1738 Accord Royal, named after the decree granted on that date to King Louis XV to plant new vines on his Fine Champagne land. Rémy Martin XO Excellence Cognac is an opulent blend of 85 per cent Grande Champagne with 15 per cent Petite Champagne containing up to 28 years of vintages.

Hine located in Jarnac and founded in 1763, is one of, if not the biggest Cognac house outside of the big dominant four of Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin and Courvoisier. Its vintage-bent also gives it a caché. (I have a vintage bottle from my birth year given to me when I toured the distillery with Bernard Hine, a descendent of the founder. It’s a rarity I’m savouring slowly. A barrel from this particular vintage was named the vintage of the century by cellar master Eric Forget and bottled as Hine 250 to celebrate that anniversary of the company. Check out what vintage was selected for Hine 250 and you’ll know mine.)

H by Hine VSOP in an elegant long bottle housed in a beautiful metallic red box is ready made for gifting. It’s a harmonious blend of 20 cognacs aged for a minimum of 4 years, from grapes grown in the Grande Champagne and the Petite Champagne. Hine Rare VSOP a Fine Champagne blend of over 25 cognacs (more than fifty percent from Grande Champagne) is sophisticated and elegantly fruity.

H By Hine Vsop Hine Rare VSOP Chabasse XO

Chabasse is an historic 17th century cognac estate in the depths of Saint-Jean d’Angely. This family run business is in the hands of Réné-Luc Chabasse, the ancestor of the founder of the estate, Jean-Baptiste Chabasse. The Chabasse XO is big, full and delicious with toasted hazelnut and toffee notes.

The cognac house Meukow was acquired by Michel Coste in 1979, who created the panther bottle – today the emblem of the brand. Still a family business now run by son Philippe Coste, the famous logo of the luxury cognac brand, the black panther, can be seen on all its products. Meukow Feline is ultra-smooth and creamy textured.

Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniversary Blend Meukow Feline VSOP CognacThose who want to gift a special Canadian brown spirit should look no further than our own good old Crown Royal – namely the new 75th Anniversary Limited Edition Canadian Whisky. In 1939 the Royal Couple, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, made history when they became the first reigning monarchs to journey across North America, travelling the vast distance by train. To honour the pair, a Canadian entrepreneur crafted a whisky to suit the occasion by sampling over 600 blends and reviewing hundreds of different types of glass, labels and caps. He cloaked his perfected blend in a purple bag to represent the purple robe of royalty and called the whisky Crown Royal.

Seventy five years later, Crown Royal’s master blender has created a velvety smooth limited edition whisky to commemorate the brand’s monumental anniversary. Crown Royal 75th Anniversary Blend cloaked in an embroidered silver bag combines hand-picked whiskies from the brand’s extensive stock including that from the historic Coffey rye still, in Gimli, Manitoba.

They may not like our tar sands oil in the US but they like our traditional whiskies. Crown Royal is the number one selling Canadian whisky brand in the US by value.

In the single malt scotch category, there’s a fascinating newcomer. It’s the Glenlivet’s first crowd-sourced whisky, “Guardian’s Chapter” chosen exclusively by The Guardians of The Glenlivet. Tastings were conducted in 19 markets, including Canada and over 3,500 votes were cast to select The Guardians’ Chapter Single Malt Whisky. Some critics say it’s the proverbial camel horse made by committee. I say it’s a triumph but not for the weak of heart.

Glenlivet Guardians ChapterEau Claire Three Point VodkaDillon’s Pear Eau De VieQuartz Vodka

Not all like a dark spirit. For the white spirit aficionados on your gift list there are several Canadian top-drawer newbies. This is a bit of a tease as they are available only in their province of origin or via the distillery online but what could be more local than that.

Eau Claire Distillery is Alberta’s first craft distillery located in Turner Valley, not far from Calgary. The distillery uses locally-farmed ingredients and clear water from the nearby Rocky Mountains. Summer 2014 marked its first-batch release. Eau Claire Three Point Vodka, its initial product launched in June is creamy smooth and crystal clear. For the moment you’ll have to go to Alberta to buy it via the distiller or in Calgary liquor retail stores such as Willow Park.

In Ontario Dillon’s has come out with Dillon’s Pear eau-de-vie that’s made from locally grown Niagara Bartlett pears that is soft and gently pear. From Quebec comes Quartz Vodka, a joint venture with Domaine Pinnacle and Lise Watier. Crafted from ESKA water sourced in northern Quebec, it’s micro-distilled five times.

Luxardo Maraschino Originale Liqueur Hayman's London Dry Gin Chartreuse Green LiqueurI’ll leave you now with my favourite cocktail recipe of late. It’s not new, but it’s a classic that’s been overlooked for too long. Slightly green in hue, it’s right for the festive moment and a knock out on all levels. It’s called The Last Word and it is. Be warned two of these and you’ll be flat on your back. But with no regrets in the morning or at least you won’t remember enough to be sorry. That’s my story.

A balance of sweet and sour with a strong herbaceous tone, it’s made with equal parts of gin, fresh lime juice, maraschino liqueur and Chartreuse. You won’t go wrong with Hayman’s London Dry Gin and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur for the other spirits. Divine. Decadence. Merry celebrations.

Cheers!

Margaret Swaine

To find these and other picks at stores near you, click on: Margaret’s Whisky and Spirits

Editors Note: You can read Margaret Swaine’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great spirits!


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Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES Dec 6th – Part One

Sparklers, Whites and Sweeties
By John Szabo MS with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

I’m climbing volcanoes in Italy this week so my boots will be covered in tephra and assorted pyroclasts by the time this reaches your inbox. But David, Sara and I have managed to assemble a smart list of sparkling wine recommendations from the December 6th VINTAGES release – the theme of the week – along with a handful other white and sweet wine picks for your consideration. And some highly recommended Canadian wines have risen to the top as well. We will be following up with a more comprehensive Fizz Report on sparkling wines currently available in Ontario on December 23rd, just in time for the holidays and of course New Year’s Eve. We’ll be sifting through dozens of bubblies to find the sharpest buys at all prices, including a wide range of grower champagnes as well as local sparkling.

In Part Two, next week David and Sara will highlight the best reds of the December 6th release.

Sparkling

Benjamin Bridge 2009 Reserve Brut Sparkling, Nova Scotia ($47.95)
David Lawrason – Most Canadians are still in disbelief that Nova Scotia can make bubbly to rival Champagne in terms of quality and price. I visited the pastoral Gaspereau Valley in October and spent two hours tasting with owner Gerry McConnell, consultant Peter Gamble and winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers. I encountered deep seated passion, patience and belief in the future of Nova Scotia sparkling. In fact BB will be doubling its vineyard acreage in the next few years. I find Nova Scotia bubbly to be lighter in body than many other traditional method sparklers, but they possess real finesse and class.
John Szabo – Since launching with the 2002 vintage, Benjamin Bridge has significantly raised the bar on Canadian sparkling. And although this 2009 is less evolved than earlier ‘reserve’ releases, it’s evidently made with the care and very low yields necessary to make top-notch wine in Nova Scotia (or anywhere else). Expect a lean, essentially dry and crisp, fruity wine, with serious vinosity on the palate.
Sara d’Amato – Benjamin Bridge continues to fool sommeliers and critics alike when tasted blind for top end, much pricier vintage Champagnes. In an elegant package and full of the potential to surprise and wow – here is a great option for festive gatherings.

Moët & Chandon 2004 Grand Vintage Brut Champagne, France ($84.95)
John Szabo – Fully mature at this point, Moët’s 2004 Grand Vintage is a particularly dry (just 5 grams of dosage) and toasty blend of about equal parts of champagnes three main varieties. It’s pricy to be sure, but quality is definitely on par.

Benjamin Bridge Nova Scotia Brut 2009 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne 2004 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Rosé Champagne 2004Château De Bligny Champagne Blanc De Blancs Brut

Moët & Chandon 2004 Grand Vintage Brut Rosé Champagne, France ($91.95)
Sara d’Amato – The 2004 growing season in Champagne was long and drawn out and delivered an abundance of healthy, good quality fruit – ideal conditions for a standout vintage. This Grand Vintage Brut Rose is surprisingly youthful, concentrated and compelling with happy funk, perky fruit and elegant bubbles.

Château De Bligny Blanc De Blancs Champagne, France ($49.95)
John Szabo – A particularly vinous grower champagne from the Rapeneau family, the second largest owners of vineyards in the region, made from pinot noir and chardonnay grown in the Côtes des Bars in the southern end of champagne. The southern richness shows through in spades.
Sara d’Amato – With elegance, power and a great deal of complexity, this non-vintage grower Champagne is a shockingly good value. The secret to the wine’s potency is the location of the estate’s vineyard which allows for a greater degree of ripeness at harvest than is the norm.

Lallier Rosé Champagne, France ($56.95)
John Szabo – A pinot noir based wine sourced from Lallier’s home village of Aÿ in the Montagne de Reims, as well as Bouzy and Avize (all grand cru-rated villages) with a splash of chardonnay. I like the spicy ginger-tinged profile, powerful but finessed, suitable for the apéro hour or at the table with a wide range of seafood, shellfish, or white meat.

Perrier Jouet 2006 La Belle Epoque Champagne, France, $189.95
Sara d’Amato – I admit a weakness for La Belle Epoque which characteristically exudes sophistication, elegance, an ethereal texture and nuanced flavours and all in the most lovely packaging of any Champagne. The airy, gilded, floral, Art Nouveau bottle imagery created in 1902 symbolically illustrates the house’s very consistent style. The 2006 is an exceptional vintage and exhibits charm, poise, harmonious composure and impressive persistence on the palate.

Lallier Brut Rosé Champagne Perrier Jouet La Belle Epoque 2006 Champagne Josef Chromy Sparkling 2008 Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut Cava

Josef Chromy 2008 Sparkling Méthode Traditionnelle, Tasmania,  Australia ($29.95)
John Szabo – Tasmania is quickly making an international reputation for fine sparkling wine (and more – watch this short video filmed last fall in Tassie including commentary from Bill Zacharkiw and I on the industry), and Chromy makes a premium version at an attractive price. The style is brisk and fresh, full of green apple and citrus, well suited for those who like it very dry, apéritif style.

Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut Cava, Spain ($19.95)
John Szabo –
Here’s a keenly priced, satisfying bubbly, albeit not exactly traditional in style – there’s significant chardonnay in the blend, but all the more widely appealing for it. Serve chilled if you prefer it more crisp, or allow to warm a few degrees for added richness.

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2012 Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2013 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2012White Wines

Vineland Estates 2012 Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling, Niagara Peninsula Canada ($19.95)
John Szabo – A highly reliable Ontario riesling from some of the province’s oldest riesling vines planted in the late 1970s. Serious flavour sits on a just 9% alcohol frame.
David Lawrason – This is not only among the best Canadian wines on this release, it is one of my top scoring whites period.  The St. Urban Vineyard at Vineland has real heritage, being among the very first riesling sites in Niagara, now more than 35 years old.

Southbrook Triomphe 2013 Chardonnay, Niagara-on-the-Lake ($22.95)
David Lawrason – This is well-structured yet refined and tender organically grown wine. I like the weaving of the complex flavours as well, and it’s fairly priced. I continue to be impressed by Ontario’s 2013 whites.

Cave Spring 2012 Estate Chardonnay, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula ($18.95)
Sara d’Amato – The estate-grown vines used to create this chardonnay are low yielding at between 29-35 years of age.  The wine’s captivating floral aromas are in part due to the 18% chardonnay musqué in the blend. Powerful, elegant and certainly exhibiting above average complexity for the price – this highly appealing chardonnay will certainly do the job of impressing relatives from afar over the holidays.

Pieropan 2013 Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy ($19.95)
Sara d’Amato – This youthful Soave Classico delivers an unexpected explosion of fruit at first sip. Not only impactful, it also offers a delightful degree of complexity from organically farmed, estate vineyards.

Tselepos 2013 Classic Moschofilero, Mantinia, Greece ($17.95)
John Szabo – The best Mantinia I’ve tasted from regional leader Yiannis Tselepos, with an almost muscat-like perfume, and uncommonly rich, mouth filing palate (this has 13% alcohol declared, a good 1% higher than the regional average). Think serious, dry pinot gris and you’re in the right style camp.

Pieropan Soave Classico 2013 Tselepos Classic Moschofilero 2013 Dr. Bürklin Wolf Estate Trocken Riesling 2012 Thierry Delaunay Sauvignon Blanc Touraine 2013

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf 2012 Estate Trocken Riesling, Pfalz, Germany ($19.95)
John Szabo – Bürklin-Wolf really seems to have turned the corner after they converting to biodynamic farming, as evinced by this precise, well-chiselled example, with a pitch-perfect equilibrium of acids and residual sugar. Drinking now, but better in 1-3 years.
Thierry Delaunay 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Touraine, Loire, France($14.95)
David Lawrason – Touraine sauvignons are usually bright, shiny and simple with lip-smacking granny smith apple. This one is notable for backing extra depth and complexity, getting close to Sancerre stylistically but of course being up to $10 less

Medium-Sweet & Sweet

Puklus Pincészet Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2008

Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2012

Château Suduiraut 2010Château Suduiraut 2010, Sauternes, 1er Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France ($62.85)
John Szabo – A brilliant Sauternes, full stop. This would make an extravagant holiday treat. Best 2014-2028.
David Lawrason – I have been pouring fine Sauternes all year in my Fine Vintage Ltd. WSET classes. Again and again students who have never laid lips on Bordeaux’ famous botrytis-affected semillons are shocked at how much they love it.  And this bottling steps it up even more; earning one of my highest ratings of the year.

Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben 2012 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany ($29.95)
John Szabo – A medium-sweet wine in which significant residual sugar is pitched against serious acids, with salty-mineral flavours and genuine vibration, from one of the Würzgarten vineyard’s top interpreters. Best 2014-2028.

Puklus Pincészet 2008 Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Tokaj-Hegyalja Hungary ($35.95)
John Szabo – An accurate, old school aszú from a great vintage, complete with orange blossom, honey, green tea, Chinese five-spice and dried apricot-botrytis flavours. The palate is sweet but balanced in the way that tokaji does so well. Best 2014-2020.
That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo MS

From VINTAGES Dec 6th:

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Lawrason’s Take
All Reviews


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20 bons vins à moins de 20$ pour Novembre

Les choix de notre équipe du Québec

Décembre, on sait ce que c’est : le mois des cohues, du magasinage, des cadeaux à acheter, des vacances de Noël à planifier. Heureusement qu’avec notre liste de bons achats pas chers, publiée chaque fin de mois, cela vous fera un chat de moins à fouetter…

Group

Les choix de Marc Chapleau

En blanc d’abord, et en présumant que vous serez bientôt à la recherche d’un bon vin pas trop cher – 16 $, ça va ? – pour égayer l’éventuel party de bureau, je vous suggère un classique, le Muscadet La Sablette 2013. Vif et léger, ça se boit tout seul.

En rouge, on commence en Vénétie, on se rend ensuite dans le Languedoc, on redescend vers le sud de la Catalogne et on finit le périple en Afrique.

Le Valpolicella Allegrini 2013 rappelle le beaujolais nouveau, et cela n’est pas péjoratif du tout. Corps léger, rien de compliqué, de la fraîcheur et une finale épicée.

La Sablette Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2013 Allegrini Valpolicella 2013 Château Rouquette Sur Mer Cuvée Amarante 2012 Ètim Negre 2011 Robertson Winery Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2012

Du Languedoc, et une valeur sûre année après année, le Château Rouquette sur Mer Cuvée Amarante, dans sa livrée 2012, déborde de générosité, comme à l’accoutumée. Corsé et facile, il passera lui aussi comme une lettre à la poste avec les viandes et les sandwichs du buffet.

En Espagne, dans l’appellation priorat, difficile de trouver mieux que le Montsant Etim Negre 2011, qui a du corps, de la minéralité et une texture étonnamment serrée pour un rouge à seulement 16 $.

Enfin, d’Afrique du Sud, le Robertson Winery Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2012, à 14,95 $, s’avère très recommandable, peu corsé, fruité et fumé sans excès, avec la juste dose d’acidité.

Les choix de Bill Zacharkiw

J’adore les vins qui se laissent boire facilement, à plus forte raison dans un environnement festif. Y aura-t-il aussi à manger ? Peut-être. Aussi est-il important de choisir des vins, des rouges surtout, qui iront bien avec les amuse-gueule tout en étant très bons pris pour eux-mêmes, sans nourriture. En voici d’ailleurs cinq, que je vous recommande chaudement.

Pour commencer, deux blancs très différents. Le 2013 Chardonnay Campagnola  provient de la Vénétie et offre des saveurs mûres tout en étant sec. À seulement 13 $, vous pourrez aisément en faire provision pour étancher la soif de tout le monde.

Dans un tout autre registre, j’aime parfois que mes vins d’apéritif aient une légère touche sucrée. Le 2012 Black Tie de Pfaffenheim est un assemblage de riesling et de pinot gris aux odeurs de fruits tropicaux et de gingembre, avec la juste pointe de sucre. Des canapés épicés circulent parmi les invités ? Ce blanc alsacien calmera les ardeurs piquantes, également.

Campagnola Chardonnay 2013 Pfaffenheim Black Tie Pinot Gris Riesling 2012 Hoya De Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo 2010 Bolla Verona Rosso Retro 2012 Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

On me demande souvent de suggérer des rouges bon marché à prendre à l’apéritif. À moins de 13 $, peu de vins vendus à la SAQ donnent autant de plaisir fruité que le 2010 Hoya de Cadenas. L’impression de boire un pinot noir, avec ses notes de petits fruits rouges et son acidité rafraîchissante.

À la recherche d’un vin plus charpenté, par exemple parce que vous le prendrez à table, alors le Bolla 2012 Rosso Retro  combine la fraîcheur italienne à un soupçon de puissance à la bordelaise. Le vin est légèrement tannique, mais le merlot contenu dans l’assemblage lui donne par ailleurs une texture soyeuse.

Et enfin, pour les friands de rouges plus costauds, le 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Luis-Felipe Edwards déploie ces odeurs de cassis et de mûre recherchées par les amateurs de cabernet-sauvignon, tout en restant bien sec et en étant déjà très accessible.

Les choix de Nadia Fournier

Déjà bien connu des amateurs de vins du midi de la France, le Terres de Méditerranée 2012, élaboré par la Québécoise Emmanuelle Dupéré et son conjoint Laurent Barrera est toujours au sommet de la catégorie des vins courants du Languedoc offerts à la SAQ. Franchement, à moins de 15,75 $, on peut difficilement imaginer meilleur vin pour accompagner la tourtière.

Dans la même veine, gorgé de soleil, mais un peu plus pimpant et vigoureux, le Quinta du Convento 2009 a été l’une de mes belles surprises de la dernière année dans le Douro. Ce domaine appartenait jadis à Patrick et Ruth Landanger (Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, Volnay) et a été acquis par le Canadien Donald Ziraldo  (cofondateur d’Inniskillin à Niagara) en 2011. Un nom à suivre de près au cours des prochianes années…

Dupéré Barrera Terres de Méditerranée 2012 Quinta do Convento Douro 2009 Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Carmen Chardonnay Reserva 2013 José Maria Da Fonseca Moscatel De Setùbal 2008

À l’apéritif, avec des bonnes huîtres bien iodées, accentuées d’un trait de citron, vous voudrez redécouvrir le Chili à travers le prisme de la fraîcheur. Sous la marque Caliterra, Eduardo Chadwick (Errazuriz) élabore le très bon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Tributo dans la zone côtière de la vallée d’Aconcagua. Rien à voir avec tant de sauvignons-bonbons du Nouveau Monde. Juste un bon vin blanc sec, aromatique, désaltérant.

Toujours sur le littoral chilien, mais un peu plus au sud, dans la région de Casablanca, la bodega Carmen appartient au groupe Santa Rita, mais est gérée indépendamment. Au répertoire général de la SAQ et donc distribué dans l’ensemble du réseau, le Chardonnay 2013 offre un rapport qualité-prix impeccable. Juste assez gras pour se marier aux plats en sauce, mais assez frais pour l’apéro. Tout ça à 13 $ et des poussières…

Enfin, les becs sucrés découvriront (ou redécouvriront) avec plaisir le charme quasi irrésistible du délicieux Moscatel de Setúbal 2008 de la maison Jose Maria da Fonseca. Séduisant, original et vendu à prix d’aubaine.

Les choix de Rémy Charest

Du vin pour tous

Quand arrivent les grands rassemblements des fêtes, un grand défi, côté vin, est de trouver des bouteilles qui peuvent faire plaisir à beaucoup de monde et qui peuvent aussi naviguer à travers les bouchées et plats. De quoi rallier les amateurs de Ménage à Trois et les passionnés de mondeuse. Des vins pas trop lourds et riches, pas trop vifs – sans être plates non plus.

La cuvée Les galets dorés, du Château Mourgues du Grès, est un blanc qui me semble remplir ces conditions, avec un équilibre original entre la fraîcheur et le parfumé. Assemblage de grenache blanc, de roussanne et de vermentino, il fera particulièrement bien sur des bouchées, des fromages et des charcuteries. (Les rouges de la maison, soit dit en passant, sont aussi excellents.)

Ceci dit, même en jouant dans des cépages archi-connus, on peut trouver des vins qui ont du caractère, tout en étant consensuels. Prenez par exemple le sauvignon blanc Klein Constantia, très frais et sans excès : même si je suis loin d’être fan de sauvignon du nouveau monde, en général, j’ai beaucoup de plaisir à le boire.

Château Mourgues Du Grès Les Galets Dorés 2013 Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2013Del Fin Del Mundo Malbec Reserva 2012 Ogier Héritages Côtes Du Rhône 2012 Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013

Dans le même esprit, côté rouge, le Malbec Reserva del Fin del Mundo fera plaisir aux amateurs de vins argentins ronds, souples et généreux, mais sans fatiguer ceux qui aiment les cuvées plus fringantes et fraîches. Le fait qu’il ait poussé en Patagonie, région plus fraîche que Mendoza, n’est sûrement pas étranger à cet équilibre agréable.

Vous voulez pousser du côté français, en gardant le même esprit de ralliement? Un rouge du Rhône, simple et généreux, comme la cuvée Héritages de la maison Ogier, fera certainement l’affaire. Un peu en miroir du Fin del Mundo, il plaira à l’amateur de vin français tout en ralliant celui qui aime son Nouveau Monde rond et (malheureusement) sucré.

Côté beau, bon et vraiment pas cher, il est facile également de recommander le shiraz-cabernet 2013 Hardy’s Stamp of Australia, qui livre une belle dose de poivre et de fruit rouge, pour à peine 12,95$. Même Scrooge en serait ravi.

Santé!

La liste complète : 20 bons vins à moins de 20$

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de grands vins!


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20 under $20 for November

Monthly picks from our Quebec Critic Team

The holiday season is here! From office parties to family gatherings, parties abound! As this is the time of the year when even the most conservative drinker will fill their glass more than one time, best make sure you have enough wine on hand. So in honour of the festivities, our four critics have looked hard for readily available party wines – ones that drink with ease, and are equally easy on your wallet.

Group

Bill Zacharkiw’s picks

I’m a big fan of wines that show high drinkability, and that’s even more important when it comes to party wines. Will there be food? Maybe, maybe not. So it’s important to choose wines, especially when looking at reds, that will work well with snacks while also drinking well on their own. So my five wines this month all fit into this category.

To start, two whites that offer different things. The 2013 Chardonnay from Campagnola hails from Italy’s Veneto and offers up a ripe palate, is dry, and at $13, you’ll be able to buy those extra few bottles to satiate a thirsty crowd.

On a completely different angle, I like a hint of sweetness in my aperitif wines. The 2012 Black Tie from Pfaffenheim is a riesling and pinot gris blend that is full of tropical fruits, ginger and just a touch of sweetness on the palate. Offering up spicy canapés? This wine will calm the heat as well.

Campagnola Chardonnay 2013 Pfaffenheim Black Tie Pinot Gris Riesling 2012 Hoya De Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo 2010 Bolla Verona Rosso Retro 2012 Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

I get many requests for inexpensive reds for an aperitif. For under $13, few wines at the SAQ can match the pure fruitiness of the 2010 Hoya de Cadenas. This drinks like a light pinot noir with its delicate red fruit and refreshing acidity.

If you want a little more structure, or are having a meal, then Bolla’s 2012 Rosso Retro is a nice mix of Italian freshness with a hint of that Bordeaux power. So while there is a touch more tannin, the merlot in the blend offers up nice silkiness on the palate.

And finally, for those of you who want a bigger red, then try the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Luis-Felipe Edwards. The Gran Reserva shows the cassis and blackberry cab lovers will appreciate, but stays dry and very approachable.

Marc Chapleau’s selections

Let’s start with a white, presuming that you will soon be needing a good inexpensive wine to get things going at an office party. How about $16 for an SAQ classic? The 2013 Muscadet La Sablette is light and refreshing, and drinks with ease.

For the reds, let’s start in Italy’s Veneto, then down to the Languedoc, over to Catalonia and then finish in South Africa.

The Valpolicella Allegrini 2013 is reminiscent of Beaujolais Nouveau in many ways, and that is not an insult at all. Light bodied, nothing complicated, simply great fruit and freshness with some spice on the finish.

La Sablette Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2013 Allegrini Valpolicella 2013 Château Rouquette Sur Mer Cuvée Amarante 2012 Ètim Negre 2011 Robertson Winery Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2012

From the Languedoc, always a great value year after year is the Château Rouquette sur Mer Cuvée AmaranteThose who know this wine have become accustomed to the wines generous fruit and the 2012 is no different. Easy drinking yet with power, it will work wonders with meats and sandwiches at a buffet.

From Spain’s Priorat, it’s hard to find better than the Montsant Etim Negre 2011. Body, minerality and admirable structure for only $16.

Finally, from South Africa, the Robertson Winery Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2012, at $14.95, is well worthy of a recommendation. Easy drinking with the right balance of fruit and oak driven smoke notes and just the right amount of acidity.

Nadia Fournier picks

Already well appreciated by lovers of France’s Midi region, the Terres de Méditerranée 2012, made by Québécoise Emmanuelle Dupéré and her husband Laurent Barrera, is always at the top of my choices of the Languedoc category. At $15.75, it’s difficult to even imagine a better wine to accompany a tourtière.

In the same vein, sun-drenched, but a touch more perky and vigourous is the Quinta du Convento 2009. This wine was one of my pleasant surprises last year from Portugal’s Douro. The winery was owned by Patrick et Ruth Landanger (Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, Volnay) and then purchased by Canadian Donald Ziraldo (co-founder of Niagara’s Inniskillin) in 2011. It’s a wine to follow over the next few years.

Dupéré Barrera Terres de Méditerranée 2012 Quinta do Convento Douro 2009 Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Carmen Chardonnay Reserva 2013 José Maria Da Fonseca Moscatel De Setùbal 2008

For an aperitif, or to accompany the iodine notes of raw oysters, you should re-discover Chile via a wine that shows impeccable freshness. Caliterra, Eduardo Chadwick (Errazuriz) produces a very good Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Tributo in the hillsides of the Aconcagua valley. This has little in common with the sweet and candied Sauvignon Blanc’s of the New World. Just a good, dry white wine with the accent on lemony fruit – that is aromatic and thirst quenching.

Staying in central Chile, but a touch further south in the region of Casablanca, the bodega Carmen is a part of the Santa Rita group, but run independently. A regular product listing at the SAQ, and thus available throughout Quebec, the Chardonnay 2013 offers both impeccable value and versatility – just rich enough to pair with recipes that include a creamier sauce, but fresh enough to drink as an aperitif. All that for just over $13.

And finally, those with a sweet tooth should discover (or re-discover) the charm of the irresistible and delicious Moscatel de Setúbal 2008 from Jose Maria da Fonseca. Seductive, original and a bargain.

Remy Charest’s choices

One wine to please them all? 

When holiday party season starts, one of the challenges may be to find wines that can please everyone while navigating a wide array of bites and dishes. In short, you have to find a way to rally those who love Ménage à Trois and those who swear by Savoie’s mondeuse, with wines that aren’t too heavy, but not too racey – without being boring, either.

On the white side of things, Les Galets Dorés, by Château Mourgues du Grès, totally fits the bill, with a unique balance between freshness and intense aromatics. A blend of grenache blanc, roussanne and vermentino, it will do particularly well with cheese, charcuterie and those little oven-baked bites that everybody jumps on when the party gets started. (Mourgues du Grès reds are also delicious, by the way…)

Even the most common grapes can provide wines that will rally everyone with character and personality. Take Klein Constantia’s Sauvignon Blanc, for instance. It’s fresh, balanced, enticing, even for someone who, like me, is not a fan of New World “savvy”.

Château Mourgues Du Grès Les Galets Dorés 2013 Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2013Del Fin Del Mundo Malbec Reserva 2012 Ogier Héritages Côtes Du Rhône 2012 Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013

The same can be said, on the red side, with the Malbec Reserva del Fin del Mundo, which will please those who love the round, supple and generous character of Argentinian wines, but won’t tire those who go for fresher, zippier wines. The fact that the grapes come from Patagonia, a region that is much cooler than Mendoza, certainly helps provide that balance.

You want to generate a similar consensus with French wines? Simple and generous Rhône reds like Ogier Héritages Côtes-du-Rhône, will do the trick. French wine lovers will be pleased, and it should cater well to those who love their New World Reds big, round and (unfortunately) sweet.

To go really, really easy on your budget, it’s hard to go wrong with something like the Hardy’s Stamp of Australia Shiraz-Cabernet, which delivers a lovely dose of pepper and red fruit, for barely $12.95. It would even put a smile on Scrooge’s face.

Cheers !

The complete list: 20 under $20 for October

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Mentoring Judges for the Future

The first year of our new initiative – Judges Training Judges
by DJ Kearney

DJ Kearney

DJ Kearney

At WineAlign, judging wine is central to what we do. The entire point of our nationwide wine scoring and wine sourcing website is to help you, the wine-loving consumer find great wines in stores in your province.

We do this by posting thousands of wine reviews from our talent pool of Canada’s best wine palates and writers. In addition, we stage two important annual wine competitions; one that evaluates the best of Canadian wine (WineAlign’s National Wine Awards of Canada), and another that focuses on great value wines of the world (WineAlign World Wine Awards). These two colossal events involve thousands of wines and months of logistical planning before 16 judges sit down for an intense week of swirling, smelling, sipping and scoring.

The top results of these two competitions have just been published in Maclean’s 2014 Newsmakers edition; so please rush out to grab a copy, or go to WineAlign.com/Awards for complete results.

We are extremely pleased to have this new national platform that broadcasts our results, and we hope it means many more opportunities in the years ahead for our up and coming judges.

Maclean's Special Edition - Wine report

Judging wine is not new, by the way; it’s very likely that wine has been ranked from its earliest days. It is estimated that wine was made as long as 9,000 years ago, but there is little known about those early ferments. We do however know a great deal about wines made by Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who produced on a considerable scale and marketed wine around Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. They inscribed clay amphorae with place names, winemakers and dates, and we know they had a well-developed ‘cru’ system. Certain wines were held in higher regard than others, and that by definition involves judging, the ranking of one wine over another.

Over the millennia wine continued to be judged and rated; the 1855 classification in the Medoc, the Judgement of Paris, culminating in the rise of the wine critics. The hundreds of wine competitions that are staged around the world today are evidence of the reality that results matter and scores matter. Competitions are only as good as the people who organize and lead them (in particular the head judge), and those who sit and judge. So what does it take to be a good judge? This is something that I have pondered for years now, since my own first judging experience.

A word on that: it was a mix of exhilaration and terror that I have never forgotten. As a first time judge, I felt thrilled and honoured to be asked, excited about using my tasting skills honed over the years of studying and teaching about wine. But sitting down before a large flight of wines with a room full of people I admired (if not idolized) made me anxious, dry-mouthed and doubtful. Judging is a mental endeavour and it takes non-stop concentration, physical endurance and constant resetting of the palate. A good judge should care enormously about the outcome, and only the best effort will do. You should feel an almost crushing sense of responsibility about your work and scores. And I sure did, all those years ago, but everything was ok because I had two Canadian wine greats show me the ropes of judging. Anthony Gismondi and David Lawrason briefed me, helped me stay on-time, were patient when I did not, gave me both gentle and not-so-gentle feedback, and asked me back the next year. Phew.

Hao Judges Table

Over the years Anthony, David and I have talked and schemed about how to improve and increase the judging pool in Canada, how to offer opportunities to up-and-comers, and how to start our succession planning. This past year we put our words into action. Repeating the trust shown years ago, they’ve let me spearhead a judge mentoring initiative. We call it ‘Judges Training Judges’, because all of our regular WineAlign palates are deeply committed to helping develop the next generation of wine judging talent in Canada. Before our wine competitions in 2014, we organized seminars and tryouts in both Vancouver and Toronto for a group of invited young guns we pre-scouted as having the right stuff.

What makes a good judge? This is what we discussed during the seminar.

- essential to have experience with all wines of the world

- be consistent when scoring

- be a strong structural, systematic, analytic taster

- be able to articulate your opinions free of personal biases

- be decisive and swift

- be confident

- be a team player

Then came the tasting tryouts. We put the apprentice judge candidates through many rounds of tasting, then evaluated their scores and discussions based on metrics we had established: consistency, parity with our experienced scores, speed, ability to defend scores, personality, etc.

DJ Training session

After the judging score sheets were assessed and ranked, we chose two judges for The Nationals from Vancouver, Sally Campa and Hao Yang Wang, and two from Toronto, Emily MacLean and Adam Hijazi. To allow our apprentices to really relax into the process, they scored all wines just like the full-fledged judges, but their scores did not count. You can read about their experiences below.

So how do we fund this? Adding two apprentice judges to the roster adds hard costs. Wine competitions are not money making ventures – not even close. Our core WineAlign judges contribute their own money to a fund that helps pay travel and hotel costs for the rookies. So, not only do we resident judges mentor, guide, encourage and share our own experiences and lessons, but we pay for the privilege. This in turn makes us completely invested in the process of developing the future and ensuring a succession plan with Canadian pros who are ready to step up and lay down their scores with confidence and accuracy. And that’s why this initiative is called ‘Judges Training Judges’. We really are.

What’s ahead? More of the same, but on a bigger scale. In 2014 we cast the net only in Vancouver and Toronto in our search for top judge prospects, but plan to eventually spread to every province. Watch us grow and watch us improve the quality of scoring wines and building even better competition results.

My take-away from this? There are so few opportunities for aspiring wine pros to break into judging, and our unique program gives them a chance to learn, observe, connect and expose themselves to challenges and opportunities. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I cannot wait to see our initiative flourish.

Here is what our apprentice judges had to say:

Hao Yang WangHao Yang Wang directs the show at Vancouver’s Farmer’s Apprentice, voted Best Restaurant, in Vancouver Magazine’s 2014 awards, as well as Best new and Best Casual, and snatched second place in Enroute Magazine’s recent awards. Before this he was Sommelier and AGM at Pidgin (# 5 in Enroute Magazine in 2014 awards). Adding wine retail experience to the mix, Hao Yang sharpened his palate at Liberty Wine.

“It was an exciting and humbling experience to be an understudy amongst extraordinary mentors and talents. To taste and discuss at such high volume, and intensity, it required immense focus to stay alert. It was learning about keeping a truthful, honest and respectful mind to the products laid out in front of the panel, as well as the judges next to you; learning to speak with your gut, and leaving the ego back upstairs in the hotel room. I would participate again in a heartbeat, and would recommend any growing wine professionals in the industry to participate whenever such an opportunity arises.”

Sally Campa is the General Manager and Sommelier for Vino Volo at YVR airport. A Torontonian, she relocated to Vancouver to attend Dubrulle International Culinary and Hotel Institute of Canada. With over 15 years as a personal chef and caterer, she shifted her focus in 2007 to pursue her passion for wine further. After spending 3 years in wine retail, she returned to the restaurant industry in 2012 to open the Vino Volo locations at YVR.

Sally Campa“I was so delighted to be invited to sit as an apprentice judge at the Canadian WineAlign awards this past spring. Over the years, I have eagerly looked forward to judging wine as another branch of my career in the business. I was elated when I heard I would have an opportunity to sit amongst the judging panel as one of this year’s apprentices.  The WineAlign team are people who I have looked up to as mentors, and learned from over the years.  The idea of this experience was exciting, though somewhat daunting.

When I arrived in Penticton, I received warm welcomes from the entire WineAlign crew.  I knew right away that spending days amongst this talent would be an incredible education, as well as a true examination of my knowledge and skill. 

To evaluate so many wines in such a short period of time is an incredible test of staying focused while keeping your palate on point.  From glass to glass, flight to flight, I was quietly intimidated to say the least.

 On the first morning, I was full of nerves as well as a sense of overwhelm. As we began to taste, I felt mental and physical exhaustion, as I have never been exposed to quantity volumes and time restrictions like these during tastings. It takes time to get into a groove in such an environment, and to continue to keep oneself in check while coming to understand others on a panel. I received excellent tips and advice from my mentors.  They coached me through the tough parts and offered helpful tips all along the way.

While judging, I rotated around from panel to panel while tasting, providing excellent exposure, endless advice and guidance through the process. Each table offered a new experience, through the different energy and style of each judge. It was educational to listen to all of the discussions – from wine styles to quality levels. The conversations are full of wisdom and never shy on insight.  It didn’t take long to observe that at each table, every base is covered!

When I had completed my portion of judging, and finally got a tour of the back storage room, I was honestly speechless. To see such volume, the systems in place, and the organization behind the entire process is incredible. This is an extraordinary practice of judging, one I feel privileged and grateful to have been part of.  This was an experience and invite not be taken for granted.”

Adam Hijazi is a chef, sommelier, and adventurer. After going to culinary school and working in some of the hottest restaurants in Toronto he began travelling and working throughout Europe and North America. He is certified as a sommelier through CAPS and CMS and has worked internationally including cooking at 4 three Michelin starred restaurants. He is currently the general manager of Terroni Price Street, the flagship restaurant of the southern Italian inspired hospitality company.

Adam Hijazi“The apprentice judging program with WineAlign was a wonderful experience to be a part of. From the moment we arrived, DJ, David, Anthony and all were quick to welcome us with open arms and shortly after, get right into it. Wines kept coming and coming and with each glass of red or white I was given an insight into how the veterans approach each sip. It is a vigorous pace and you start to understand each judge’s style and proclivities within a few hours. Then the next day it starts again with a whole new panel. Your preconceived notions from packaging and marketing are thrown out the window and you focus on what’s in the glass. After several rounds with the expert palates every wine is sifted through and whittled down to the best of the bunch. In the grand tasting in Toronto (an event months later that featured Platinum and Gold winners) I was impressed to say that there were no duds.The WineAlign system really put together a fantastic bunch of wines! I am so happy to have been a part of this process and continue to build WineAlign into the go-to destination for wine buys. 

DJ and WineAlign are forerunners in a program of this nature and their efforts don’t go unnoticed.The world of experts is tightly booked and yet they all offered their time and knowledge to us in hopes of building the future generation of wine judges. We were matched with different judges each day to glean a little bit of their individual expertise that benefits the group and it became apparent why each of them was a part of this team. It was amazing to see so many different opinions come towards the common goal of the most delicious juice. They have started something that I hope carries on and spreads into adjacent vocations so that we all benefit from the dedication and efforts of these titans of the wine world.”

Emily MacLean narrowly missed a career in nursing in favour of shucking oysters and slinging wine. A few wine courses later, a dream job at the legendary restaurant Scaramouche, and then the chance to call the wine shots at Hopgood’s Foodliner, where she curates a killer list.

Emily MacLean“Being chosen as an apprentice judge for WineAlign’s 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada was one of the greatest experiences since beginning to focus on a future in wine; a personal growth experience that will resonate and will not be forgotten.

The three day experience began with a debriefing from the head judges, where we were introduced to the judging scheme and were given the opportunity to apply this in the form of test flights. This concise and well administered training program is vital, as it further prepares you to sit on the team of judges with whom you will spend the following days.  You are quickly reminded of the sheer value in tasting a wine blind. Prejudices are removed, and you focus on the varietal, method of production, and quality level for the price – aspects that unfortunately may be swayed in the presence of a visible label. 

The Mentorship Program has immense value, as it allows for an industry professional who has had no previous experience in judging to bring a different dynamic and a new perspective to the team. It allows for that individual to learn from and work alongside a team of high-calibre judges. Such an opportunity may not have surfaced otherwise.

After this experience, I was left with a pleasantly exhausted palate and a deepened appreciation for WineAlign. Through celebrating accessible wines, there is strong movement toward bridging the gap between the enormous and intimidating world of wine and their main focus, the consumer.”

~

Visit the WineAlign Awards page for more information and a complete list of 2014 results:

National Wine Awards of Canada
World Wine Awards of Canada

nwac2014webwwac2014web150x150


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What’s New at the LCBO in November

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The LCBO has taken a bold step by launching two new superb dry wines from Jerez in Spain onto their shelves, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. These wines are from Lustau, one of the top producers in the region. At $14.85 they are amazing value. If you have never tried a dry aged fortified white, now is the time. If you are already a lover of the wines of Jerez, then don’t hesitate. Bravo LCBO.

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated. I have chosen to highlight ten new wines that have refreshed the system out of the more than 40 that I have tried since I last reported.

Surprisingly there is a slew of very good new whites. November is not usually the best time to launch whites when sub-zero temperatures outside make us lean towards red wines. They must know what they are doing, I am sure? I hope they will survive in the system until next summer arrives. Please try a few. You will not be disappointed.

In addition to these new wines, I have tasted many of the latest batches of sparkling wines, a category which is popular at this time of the year. Sparkling wines often are not vintage dated, since they are blends from many different harvests. Winemakers try to make the wine consistent from batch to batch but they do vary. I have picked four current wines that represent good value.

I suggest you read on, pick a few that appeal and then check the inventory at your favourite LCBO. Most are on the shelves already; the rest will arrive over the next couple of weeks.

Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to reviews of great value wines!

SPARKLING WHITES

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Penedes, Spain ($14.25)
My favourite bubbly at LCBO for less than $15. It hits all the essentials for the genre. Fresh clean aromas, super creamy mousse and fine bright palate with very good length.

Val d’Oca Prosecco Brut Superiore 2013, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy ($16.50)
The best Proseccos from Valdobbiadene are now vintage dated. This explodes in the mouth with a creamy mousse and fine balance.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Val d'Oca Prosecco Brut Superiore 2013 Mumm Napa Brut PrestigeTarlant Brut Reserve Champagne

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, Napa Valley, California, USA ($25.95)
A rich bubbly with an appealing nose and a degree of sweetness that endears it as an aperitif.

Tarlant Brut Reserve Champagne, France ($41.65)
If you are looking for a fine Champagne then this is a good example at a fair price (for Champagne).

WHITES

Casa Planeta Grecanico 2013 Chardonnay, Sicily, Italy ($11.95)
A delightful fresh dry white blend great for all sorts of seafood.

Mascota Vineyards O P I 2013 Chardonnay, Mendoza Argentina ($12.95)
A classy rich flavourful chardonnay with just a touch of oak for added complexity and structure.

Frisky Beaver 2013 White, VQA Ontario ($13.95)
A gewurztraminer led white blend that’s aromatic, almost off-dry and very flavourful.

Casa Planeta Grecanico Chardonnay 2013 Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2013 Frisky Beaver White 2013 Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014Villa Wolf Riesling 2013Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013

Amaral Sauvignon 2014 Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile ($14.45)
The Leyda Valley is fast proving to be a hot spot for great sauvignon blanc and this is an excellent example of just how good it can be .

Villa Wolf 2013 Riesling, Qualitätswein, Pfalz Germany ($14.80)
Great value for a juicy flavourful well balanced riesling that is such a  versatile food wine with seafood, pastry and white meat dishes.

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($14.85)
A rich full bodied creamy chardonnay with powerful aromas and flavours with the oak well integrated.

SHERRY AND REDS

Lustau Amontillado Solera Reserva Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain ($14.85)
A complex dry white with beautiful nutty, citrus, toasty aromas. Perfectly balanced, would be excellent with roast turkey with a rich brown gravy.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuno, Jerez, Spain ($14.85)
This tawny brown dry white has been aging for decades yet still gives an impression of freshness with nutty raisin fruit. Intensely flavoured and finely balanced. Try with rich pork or veal dishes.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuno Guardian Reserva Red 2012 Graffigna Elevation Reserve Red 2012

Guardian Reserva 2012 Red, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($13.65)
A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced and fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Graffigna Elevation 2012 Reserve Red, San Juan, Argentina ($14.95)
An impressive red blend from high altitude vineyards about a 2 hour drive north of Mendoza. It s powerful and complex with a rich flavour but is also bright and lively.

We would love to get your feedback on this report. Meanwhile check out my complete list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated Top 20 Under $20 report for December.

Cheers,

Steve Thurlow

Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to reviews of great value wines!


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Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013

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Chile 2.0 The Next Generation

Anthony Gismondi’s Final Blend

Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

The modern Chilean wine business is closing in on 25 years in Canada. That’s right, Chilean wine spans an entire generation of Canadian wine drinkers and is already working on a new generation of wine consumers. Unfortunately what worked in the 90s or even the 00s is unlikely to be successful over the next decade and how Chile evolves and reshapes its image in foreign markets is going to be crucial to its long-term success.

Long known for its value, the time has come for Chile to ask itself why they would want to continue down that path. There is nothing wrong with offering value, especially at all price points, but countries, and important wine regions, usually build their pedigree from the top down. As they say at Ford, ‘quality is job one’ and it’s quality wine from recognised appellations that will reshape the modern Chilean wine landscape.

Chile need look no farther than Canada’s Niagara Peninsula or the Okanagan Valley to see how much money they are leaving on the table. It’s all in how you position yourself. In my opinion, and for too many years now, Chile’s best wines have been suppressed by wholesale buyers, distributors, monopolies and supermarkets content to sell expensive French, Italian or American wine while convincing the Chileans they need to attack the market from the bottom end up, because, well they were Chilean and well, the wine was from South America.

Value was the password and while the French and Italian were busy selling Grand Crus, First Growths and Riservas, Chile was asked to sell a case of wine at the same price its competitors were getting for a single bottle. That kind of thinking has to end. I have long been interested in Chile’s ultimate development which surely must move beyond the value for money moniker that attaches itself to Chilean wines in the same way an early morning Pacific fog blankets Chile’s coastal vineyards.

The current mantra is to get to the coast or up the mountains, but beyond that it’s more about exploring all of Chile and finally matching each grape with a specific soil. It’s not breaking news; we know the wine will be better, but the point is the Chileans have finally come to see that their future success will be dependent upon their ability to be different from the rest of the wine world and not to be at the beck and call of British supermarkets, giant American distributors and, of course, our own monopolies, all of whom have ridden the pony for a generation demanding nothing but cheap, loss leader wines to get customers to come into the store.

Casa Silva - Largo Ranco Sauvignon Blanc - Wines of Chile

Casa Silva – Largo Ranco Sauvignon Blanc

Arguing against value is not something I’m used to doing but if it means an end to bland, faceless brands that bring nothing to retail wine aisles, I accept the challenge. Chile’s blanket value brand identity has to disappear if it is going to make the jump to prime time.

Last week I spent some time with a number of the WineAlign team in Chile and we found plenty to rave about starting with Winemaker Mario Geisse of Casa Silva, who blew me away with his Lago Rancho 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from the Futrono, Region Austral Patagonia, Chile. The vineyard is eight years old and dry farmed thanks to 70 inches of annual rainfall. Futrono is situated in the Chilean Patagonia, 904 km south of Santiago where the average maximum temperature is 18.5 degrees Celsius from January to May. Extreme? You bet. Electric, you bet. Different than anything you will see in Canada from Chile, you bet.

About 1700 kilometres to the north in the Atacama desert, winemaker Felipe Toso was pouring the Ventisquero Tara Red from Huasaco. The vineyard, now seven years old, is located at 28º 31’ 54,85’’ S  and is planted to ungrafted syrah and merlot over chalky soils. The mix is 66/34 and the fruit was all picked in the first week of April. The two varieties are fermented separately in small, open 500-kilo tanks, ‘pinot style.’ After a week of pump overs it was racked to fifth-use French barrels, where the malolactic fermentation took place. The wine is simply amazing and has nothing to do with the Chile you know.

Ventisquero - Tara Red Wine - Wines of Chile

Ventisquero – Tara Red Wine

Another sure sign of change is a movement among the big wineries to be more responsive to the need for Chile 2.0 wines. Case in point, the Marques de Casa Concha Pais Cinsault 2014 made by winemaker Marcelo Papa. The hundred plus year old país vines are grown at Cauquenes, Maule Valley; the 50-year old cinsault is from Trehuaco in the Itata Valley. The mix is 85 percent país with 15 percent cinsault, a blend no one would have thought possible even a decade ago. Fresh bright red fruit flavours dominate, revealing a minerality and freshness that is the polar opposite of those old icon reds. Make no mistake; Papa is taking a chance by attaching this wine to the famed Marques brand but he wanted people to pay attention to it and at $20 a bottle this wine is making waves.

The question is will it make it to wine lists in New York, or London or San Francisco where traditionally you can check off the likes of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Shiraz, Brunello, Chianti and lately even Mendoza malbec. Yet more often than not, Chilean wines are nowhere to be found. True, you may find some carmenère but like South African pinotage these curiosities do not a country establish.

Chile’s strength is its fabulously natural and isolated wine regions, uncontaminated by most of what goes on in North America. Naturally made wines should be the focus of its future. My notes from numerous trips would suggest sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, carignan, pinot noir, and yes, old vine pais, will likely be the stars of the next decade along with riesling, chardonnay and more innovative and creative red blends. Many could be organic or biodynamically grown. But there is more.

As varietal wine comes to the end of its useful life, this more than anything could provide the springboard Chile needs to recreate its international image. Temperature, altitude, longitude and yes even latitude are all part of a new story that should be told. As discussed in the pinot noir tasting there is no need to be Burgundian but we can all learn from them. Pinot noir and chardonnay cover the vineyards but the story is always about its people and its places. Puligny, Chassagne, Meursault, Corton, Faiveley, Leflaive, Latour, DRC: the French are the masters of terroir-based wines because they learned decades ago that no one can copy your dirt.

No one knows better what the wines of Chile have to offer than the Chileans themselves. It is time Chile decided what is best for its future. Shaking that ‘cheap’ moniker is not going be just about raising prices. There has to be an attitude change; the industry’s youngest and brightest will need to step up and pursue the next 20 years with the same passion Aurelio Montes, Eduardo Chadwick, Agustin Huneeus, Alvaro Espinoza and Ignacio Recabarren have done in the last two decades.

The Movement of Independent Vintners (MOVI)

The Movement of Independent Vintners (MOVI)

Groups such as The Movement of Independent Vintners (MOVI) and Vignadores de Carignan (VIGNO) are a great start. Young and vigorous, the plan is to explore the limits of Chilean wine while respecting its history. MOVI calls itself an association of small, quality-oriented Chilean wineries who have come together to share a common goal to make wine personally, on a human scale and to promote a passion for the endeavours of growing grapes and crafting fine wine.

But can you be a serious wine producing region if you don’t produce so-called first growth, a grand cru-like wines or in the case of Chile — a super-premium blend? Frankly, I seldom measure a wine region by its greatest wines but rather by its most simple. Using that scale Chile moves well up my world wine chart of quality producers and with 1700 kilometres of potential vineyards to explore the possibilities are limitless.

Winemaker Aurelio Montes has fought the good fight for a long time and he is to be congratulated for pushing The Wines of Chile and its members to think outside of the box as it moves forward. Montes suggested the entire industry needed to “be brave,” moving forward as it reveals the story of the New Chile. Indeed as the song says, “Honestly, we want to see you be brave.”

Oh and be Chile, because no other country can replicate that.

 

Anthony Gismondi

(Photos courtesy of Wines of Chile & MOVI)


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Beringer - Holiday the California Way

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British Columbia Critics’ Picks November 2014

Our critics have been on the move this month – crossing paths, and crisscrossing seasons between Vancouver, Similkameen, Okanagan, Whistler, Argentina and Australia. Whether we’ve just been in spring (flowering and bud break in the southern hemisphere) or dreaming of spring (the earliest icewine harvest ever for many in BC), the wines we’ve individually selected will warm you. Naturally, since we’re all crazy for food, our finds specifically pair with meals that will comfort.

Cheers ~ TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

Wind, rain, snow and cold is all on its way and that makes it easier to slide into some richer wines from warmer climates to help warm up your disposition.

Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2010 Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Chateau de Caraguilhes Classique 2012From southern France my pick is a delicious organic Corbières: Chateau de Caraguilhes 2012. Believe me it is far easier to drink than to pronounce.

This syrah/grenache/mourvèdre/carignan blend is textured with savoury licorice undercurrent and makes a great match for fall’s cassoulets.

A tough year in Napa was no problem at Beringer where several vineyards from the valley floor to the mountain top contributed to a fresh and aromatic Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, ready to drink now with your steak.

If lamb is on your fall menu the Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2010 will stand up to its wild flavours and impress with its richness, power. A bargain red for all you year-round barbecue fanatics this juicy and round high altitude (620m) is the best yet from Zuccardi. Impressive now but will age easily for five years.

DJ Kearney

Drinking whites in the winter is something I anticipate each year with the kind of deep-seated pleasure that stirs my soul and tastebuds. Earthy, savoury, botanical, spicy, broad wines embrace flavours in a bearhug of body and warming alcohol. Wines like creamy oaked chardonnay, ripe white Rhones, mineral-drenched Wachau gruners, honeyed Alsatians, Italians like arneis, top soave and vermentino, and even the right kind of rich, leesy, toasty champagne are perfect. The dishes that I crave and cook for these cool-weather whites are leek risotto, cream-braised endive, veal and mushrooms, roast pork with onion soubise, cauliflower and cheese, roast chicken with truffle oil…  you get the picture? Here are three whites that I am drinking now to warm palate and spirit.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013

La Spinetta Vermentino 2012

Verus Vineyards Pinot Gris 2012Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2013 is broad and surging, with lemon curd, crème brulée and gingerbread flavours kept fresh and crisp with succulent acidity. Worth keeping for a few years for the oak to snuggle into the exotic fruit density, but will be delicious now with lemongrass risotto or winter baked fish with rich Mornay sauce.

La Spinetta Vermentino 2012 is a remarkable wine with savory flavours and emollient texture, held together with just enough acidity to coat the wine sleekly. Completely fascinating and serious vermentino for winter dinners or savouring by the fire.

An attention-getting smoky nose opens Verus Vineyards Pinot Gris 2012 from Slovenia before impressive mineral heft and complexity, reminding me of both Alsace and Soave. It’s a sign of the high calibre wines that Slovenia is capable of, and we want more sent our way, please.

Rhys Pender MW

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it is time to think about starting to loosen the purse strings a little bit and treating yourself.  You want to avoid the wines that are expensive on reputation ahead of quality, and hopefully we steer you on the right track with our winealign.com notes. Of course, there are many great wines that are worth the occasional splurge. There are also some great value alternatives if you look to some lesser-known regions.

Boutari Grande Reserve 2007 Poderi Di Luigi Einaudi Barolo Terlo 2009 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2013Chardonnay is still the greatest white wine and it turns up top quality wines in surprising places. Take the Hamilton Russell 2013 Chardonnay from the cool, coastal part of South Africa where it achieves wonderful elegance but still with some new world gumption.

One wine that is nearly always worth a splurge is Barolo. And not to just have a few sips, you need to sit with a big glass full and let it open up over time to enjoy all the nuances and complexities that lie hidden in its slowly evolving self. The Luigi Einaudi 2009 Barolo Terlo does just that.

Okay, we can’t all afford Barolo and there are some wines that offer a pretty good facsimile at much more approachable prices. The best bet for me is Xinomavro from Naoussa in northern Greece. While we don’t get a lot of good Greek wine options in BC, one stalwart on many BC Liquor Stores shelves is the Boutari Grande Reserve 2007 Naoussa. Great complexity for $23.

Treve Ring

When I approach pairing wines with food (or with seasons), it’s not so much about the flavours or the hue; it’s all about texture. My November wines are much like my November wardrobe – thick and layered, cozy and familiar, with grippy fabric, warming thread throughout and a comforting, lingering memory. Pass the wool scarf – I mean semillon!

Ferrari Carano Chardonnay 2012

Bartier Bros. Semillon Cerqueira Vineyard 2012

Alvear Pedro XimenezFerrari-Carano Chardonnay 2012 from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley is one such wine, full bodied and weighted on the palate, built with creamy pear and hazelnut paste, and primed to partner with your white sauced pastas or fish.

Bartier Bros. Semillon is another such wine that has palatable texture and depth that seems to grow each time I taste it. Though the 2013 is on the shelves now, I recently opened a 2012 (these wines age beautifully) and was impressed by its thorny, herbal wildflower spice and chalky, tactile acidity. Pair with pork belly, savoury risotto or scallops with herbed leeks.

And it’s hard to think of a more textured wine than pedro ximenez, some rumoured to be so thick and unctuous you can take with a spoon. Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez is unapologetically and confidently a bit of a conundrum; exceptionally sweet, and overtly salty with baked figs, coffee and cloves that linger far past a single sip. Try this memorable PX with (or over) vanilla bean ice cream and cracked black pepper for a dessert you won’t forget.

About the BC Critics’ Picks ~

Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks column is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics, wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Beringer - Holiday the California Way

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Sortir du placard

Hors des sentiers battus
par Marc Chapleau

Marc Chapleau sm

Marc Chapleau

La semaine dernière, mon collègue Bill faisait son coming out, confessant son amour pour les vins blancs du Rhône. Il ne dénigrait pas les rouges rhodaniens pour autant, cela dit. Heureusement, du reste, car sans lui réserver un chien de ma chienne, je l’aurais alors remis à sa place, notre anglophone préféré !

C’est que dans mon placard à moi, il y a justement ces grands rouges provenant tant du sud de la région, royaume du grenache, que du nord, où la syrah brille de tous ses feux – même si elle s’acoquine, ici et là, avec un peu de viognier.

Et si je suis entiché des côte-rôtie, des hermitages et des châteauneufs, c’est que mon baptême dans le monde du vin s’est en grande partie passé là-bas…

J’étais à l’époque, en 1986, rédacteur en chef du défunt magazine québécois Vins & Vignes, fondé par Pierre Séguin, devenu depuis un des grands experts de la Bourgogne. Comme premier reportage effectué sur le terrain, je me suis retrouvé dans le Rhône pour deux semaines.

Des diverses rencontres alors faites, celle chez Guigal s’avéra mémorable.

Pour commencer, comme Marcel avait à travailler dans son chai cet après-midi-là, c’est son père Étienne – le « E » de la raison sociale « E. Guigal » — qui nous a emmenés, ma blonde et moi, dans les vignes.

Le Château d'Ampuis, propriété de la famille Guigal, en plein coeur de la Côte-Rôtie.

Le Château d’Ampuis, propriété de la famille Guigal, en plein coeur de la Côte-Rôtie.

La maison Guigal venait de racheter sa voisine du bout de la rue, Vidal-Fleury, où le patriarche Étienne avait longtemps travaillé. Celui-ci, homme de peu de mots, sa casquette sur le crâne et son écharpe nouée autour du cou, nous a montré le vignoble, sans l’expliquer en long et en large. Pas disert, il était. Sauf que nous l’avons marché, ce vignoble, nous avons escaladé (c’est le mot) les coteaux pentus de la Côte-Rôtie avec lui, malgré ses 70 ans et quelques, qui emboîtait le pas.

Une petite dernière du tonnerre

De retour à la cuverie, Marcel Guigal, maintenant libre, nous fait visiter les lieux. Il s’arrête bientôt à une barrique pour nous faire goûter, prélevant à la pipette « une nouvelle cuvée dans laquelle nous plaçons beaucoup d’espoir et qui s’appellera “La Turque” ».

On venait de l’arpenter, cette parcelle. Une vigne de cinq ans, qui produisait depuis un an seulement. In petto, du haut de mes 28 ans, je me dis quelque chose comme « Cause toujours, monsieur Guigal, seules les vieilles vignes autorisent ainsi les plus fous espoirs, vous devrez attendre encore quelques années avant de tirer la substantifique moelle de la Turque… »

Jeune présomptueux !

Aussitôt humée et dégustée, le côte-rôtie La Turque 1985 nous jette par terre. Quelle profondeur, quelle race. Un bagout d’enfer. Comment est-ce possible, demandai-je à notre interlocuteur, les vignes sont si jeunes ? « Le secret est dans la taille », de répondre doucement son père Étienne, précisant un rendement très minime dont je ne me rappelle plus, désolé.

Quand on aime, on ne compte pas…

The rest is history. C’est peu après l’avoir goûtée lui aussi que Robert Parker, déjà bien installé au sommet de la critique mondiale, lui a décerné le score parfait de 100.

Je n’ai évidemment pu rapporter de La Turque pour la faire goûter à mes collègues du magazine, vu qu’elle allait passer au bout du compte l’incroyable durée de 40 mois en barrique de chêne, et donc qu’elle ne se serait commercialisée qu’en 1989.

Par contre, on a fait main basse sur une caisse de six bouteilles de ses autres côtes-rôties, trois La Landonne et trois La Mouline, toutes deux du millésime 1981. Au prix affiché sur le tarif de 23 $ pièce… alors qu’elles en valent plus de 300 $ aujourd’hui.

Le bouquet, c’est qu’au final, après être descendus au sud et avoir passé entre autres par les châteaux de Beaucastel et la Nerthe (je vous raconterai un jour), on s’est retrouvés à Charles-de-Gaulle avec 46 bouteilles à enregistrer – avant qu’on ne nous serre exagérément la vis à la frontière, comme aujourd’hui, cela revenait à seulement trois ou quatre dollars en droits et taxes par bouteille, sans égard à la valeur de celle-ci.

Il a fallu conscrire d’autres passagers, car on dépassait allègrement la limite de 12 bouteilles par personne prévue par les douanes. Pas mal de trouble, c’est vrai, et beaucoup d’encombrement.

Mais quel butin !

À boire, aubergiste !

J. L. Chave Selection Offerus St Joseph 2011 Yann Chave Le Rouvre 2011 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Domaine De Thalabert Crozes Hermitage 2010Évidemment, tout a été bu, depuis belle lurette. (D’autant je les aime jeunes, c’est bien connu, et cela m’a d’ailleurs causé quelques ennuis par le passé, j’y reviendrai aussi). Je n’en ai pas moins toujours gardé une affection particulière pour le Rhône — et y compris pour ses grands blancs, je rejoins l’ami Bill là-dessus.

Or à défaut de m’offrir ces grands crus pour la plupart devenus hors de prix, je me rabats, un peu comme on le fait avec les bordeaux, sur les seconds vins, ou du moins les noms moins prestigieux, mais qui produisent de très belles bouteilles, néanmoins.

Parmi les bons rouges du Rhône, tant du nord que du sud, bus récemment, je retiens le Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2010, qui se révèle surtout en bouche et au potentiel évident. De la même appellation, j’ai bien aimé également le Yann Chave Le Rouvre 2011, à l’odeur qui surprend (le pet, un peu) mais néanmoins souple et élégant. Toujours en provenance du Rhône septentrional, le Saint-Joseph Offerus Jean-Louis Chave Sélection 2011 constitue à nouveau une valeur sûre, bien typée syrah.

La récolte est très bonne dans le Sud. À preuve, et à commencer par la fameuse famille dont j’ai parlé tout à l’heure, le Côtes-du-Rhône Guigal rouge qui n’en finit plus d’étonner : étant donné qu’il est produit à très grande échelle, sa qualité, à nouveau avec le millésime 2011, est franchement remarquable.

Autre valeur sûre de l’appellation, le Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2011 ne démérite pas lui non plus, même qu’il est plus charmeur que jamais, avec cependant toujours la même solide structure. Classé pour sa part dans les « Villages », le Domaine La Montagnette 2013, élaboré par l’une des meilleures – et plus petites – caves coopératives de France, est à la fois épicé et rafraîchissant.

E. Guigal Côtes Du Rhône 2011 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes Du Rhône 2011 Domaine La Montagnette 2013 La Vieille Ferme Red 2013 M. Chapoutier La Bernardine Châteauneuf Du Pape 2010

En appellation côtes-du-ventoux cette fois, le La Vieille Ferme rouge 2013 est corsé et impeccable, comme à l’accoutumée.

Enfin, à Châteauneuf-du-Pape, appellation phare du Rhône Sud, le La Bernardine 2010 Chapoutier est très beau, serré et concentré, fin également.

Santé !

Marc

Note de la rédaction: vous pouvez lire les commentaires de dégustation complets en cliquant sur les noms de vins, les photos de bouteilles ou les liens mis en surbrillance. Les abonnés payants à Chacun son vin ont accès à toutes les critiques dès leur mise en ligne. Les utilisateurs inscrits doivent attendre 60 jours après leur parution pour les lire. L’adhésion a ses privilèges ; parmi ceux-ci, un accès direct à de grands vins!


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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008