Château Haut-Monplaisir is a winery located in the Cahors district of south-western France. It produces a number of different wines (all listed at their website), but their most notable products are their three single-varietal reds, which, including today’s choice, are all Malbecs.Continue reading “Château Haut-Monplaisir Tradition Cahors Malbec 2016”
I first remember coming across the name ‘Margaux’ reading the stories of the fictional English Barrister, Rumpole of the Bailey, many years ago, and the name has always stuck with me as representing very special wines. In truth, I haven’t sampled a great many of these as the wines from this AOC tend to be a bit pricey and today’s selection was one I had been saving for quite a while …Continue reading “Segla Margaux 2010”
Last May, I reviewed a very decent Moulins de Citran Haut-Médoc 2009 and gave a broad overview of the red blends of Bordeaux in general, and the wines of the Haut-Médoc AOC in particular. Today’s selection is another Haut-Médoc and is a good representative of the typical left-bank blend, being made up of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. It cost me a few cents under $40 at an LCBO outlet in Ottawa and was thus a bit more expensive than my usual upper limit of thirty dollars or so. Because of that, I was a little more critical than I might have been with a cheaper bottle, but I still found it a decent purchase.
The nose features sour plum and faint hint of strawberry along with notes of cedar, sharply herbaceous undergrowth and an underlying musky barnyard funk. It is medium bodied, with tannins that are very dense, gripping, and bordering on astringent. Happily, the harsher effect of the tannins is fairly well balanced and rounded out by the moderate acidity. The palate mirrors the fruit in the nose but with more sour cherry than strawberry and the whole is very aromatic with notes of wood, coal smoke and tobacco. There is also a very faint oily quality with hints of petroleum here and there, which while unusual (for a red Bordeaux, at least), wasn’t unpleasant at all.
Overall, I was left with the impression that this selection probably won’t find much favor with those who shy away from very densely tannic wines, but will be enjoyed by those who do both as a sipping wine in its own right and as an accompaniment to rich, hearty foods. At a lesser price, I would likely give this vintage a very high rating and make a personal note to purchase more bottles for ageing. However, when taking the actual price into consideration against the quality, I will probably spend my wine allowance trying something else.
For the past year or so I have been slowly drinking my way through central France, metaphorically speaking, but occasionally I make the odd detour. This present selection is one I sampled at the Brasserie Metropolitain in Ottawa in March of this year.
This Riesling is a VQA (or Vinters Quality Alliance) wine produced by the Andrew Peller Estate on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, and more specifically the Beamsville Bench Sub-region of that wine production district. I do not recall the price I paid at the restaurant, but it retails for $22.95 at the LCBO and is listed, on the LCBO website, as having 11.1% Alcohol and a Sugar content of 20 g/L.
The body is fairly light with medium sweetness and a bright acidity that offsets the sugar quite decently. The nose features golden apples, dark honey and straw, and all these qualities are continued on the palate with green apple also coming through with notes of cedar. There is also a floral presence and another additional quality that makes the wine rather unique. Some reviews have noted a ‘petrol’ component in this vintage, which is not uncommon in Rieslings and reflects the presence of a chemical compound known as TDN, or Trimethyl Dihydronaphthalene. I did not get that here, but there was a very faint hint of formalin along with a stronger, and most curious hint of saffron. I very much enjoyed the effect and, overall, this was a very pleasant and interesting sipping wine.
UPDATE: One of my blogging friends Stefan, at Stefan’s Gourmet Blog, who has much more experise in wine than do I has informed me that “This type of Riesling is called Feinherb in Germany. It is all about the interplay between sugar and acidity.”
Today’s wine is another ‘left-bank’ Bordeaux and I am featuring it because it turned out to be very nice, and something I will likely purchase again if I can. It is a bit expensive, running for $56.75 at SAQ in Montreal, but I was very happy with it thought it well worth the price.
As you may recall from previous posts, red wines from the so-called ‘left-bank’ region of Bordeaux are mostly blends, which mostly have Cabernet Sauvignon as the primary varietal. This particular wine is from the Paulliac AOC, in the famous Medoc wine-making district, and it is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with 27% Merlot, and the final 3% rounded out with Cabernet Franc. It is a dry wine, with just 2.1 grams per liter of residual sugar, and the alcohol level is about 13%.
The nose here is a bit muted with the fruit component being dark plum and blackcurrant. It has a very earthy quality, with a faint touch of the barnyard, and there are very strong mushroom notes interspersed with highlights of violet. On the palate, it is smooth and fully bodied with lively acidity and rich tannins, and the blackcurrant on the nose is supplanted with sour cherry against the plum. There are rich woody tones of both oak and cedar, with some spice in the finish, but what I really liked here were some interesting notes of ripe grains and light toast.
Overall, I found this a complex and very enjoyable sipping wine as is, but I am sure it has great prospects for becoming even better with a little more ageing. If I can lay my hands on a few more bottles on my next travels south, I will certainly ‘cellar’ at least one for a few years or so. The 2016 vintage is also supposed to have been a stunning one for Pauillac, so I will keep my eyes out for those as well…
My last two wine posts have each featured examples of the red wine blends for which the famous French wine-growing region of Bordeaux is especially well known. There are also excellent white wines produced in Bordeaux, but they make up only around ten percent of the total wine yield. Like the reds, though, they are chiefly produced as blends, rather than single varietal wines, with the permitted grapes being Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle.
Some Bordeaux white blends are quite crisp and acidic (those will often have Sauvignon Blanc as the dominant varietal), but the region is especially renowned for its sweet desert wines with Sémillon as the primary grape. This varietal is susceptible to a fungus known as Botrytis cinerea, which the French call the ‘noble rot’, and this interesting fungus causes the grapes to wither like raisins and this concentrates the natural sugars to produce a very sweet wine with a very long ageing potential.
One of the wine making districts especially known for its sweet white Bordeaux blends is the Sauternes AOC. Indeed, this district is home to the world-famous Chateau d’Yqem, which has been producing wine since at least 1711. In 2011, one these famed sweet whites dating back to 1811 was sold for a staggering $117,000.00, which is, I think, still the most expensive bottle yet sold. Now, the Sauternes I am featuring today is not quite in the same class as that 1811 Chateau d’Yquem pricewise, but I paid $57.25 for my bottle and was a bit surprised, when it arrived, to discover it was a 375ml bottle rather than the standard 750ml size, which I believe makes it the most expensive wine I have ever purchased outside of a restaurant…
Anyway, this delightful wine contains a startling 120 grams of sugar per liter and is, as you can guess, exceedingly sweet, with only a low moderate acidity as an offset, and a very heavy, almost syrupy mouthfeel. The nose is very aromatic with golden apple, slightly sour apricot and raisin, honey, almond shells, light toast and a faint hint of sweet varnish. There was also a very faint hint of something I couldn’t quite identify, but which I can only describe as being a bit like well-aged Balsamic Vinegar, for want of any better comparison.
On the palate, there is Apricot jam, honey and barley sugar, along with a touch of lemon and almond and, on the whole, the effect is very rich and complex. I am not a big imbiber of desert wines, or very sweet wines of any sort usually, but I did not begrudge the price I paid for sampling a special wine from this prestigious AOC and I very much enjoyed the experience.
In my last post, we had a brief discussion about the red wine blends of Bordeaux, and the differences between the so-called Left and Right banks regions. The wine I featured in that post was a Moulins de Citran Haut-Médoc 2009, and you may recall that it is a left-bank wine and that the dominant varietal in the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, our selection comes from the Blaye AOC, which surrounds the town of Blaye on the right bank of the Gironde River and, as such, it features a blend in which Merlot dominates. Unusually though, whereas Cabernet Sauvignon is quite often the secondary varietal, in this wine, there is no Cabernet Sauvignon at all and the blend is an interesting 65% Merlot, with the remaining 35% being Malbec.
I bought my bottle for $29.75 from one of the SAQ stores in Montreal. It has an alcohol content of 14% and contains 1.7 grams of sugar per litre. It is very dry with moderate acidity, has a nice full-bodied silky texture, and a smoothly tannic finish. The nose is surprisingly aromatic with black plum and blackcurrant and floral highlights, and there is also a little cedar, some herbaceous notes, and just a faint touch of barnyard muskiness. This last may signal the influence of Brettanomyces but, if so, the effect is not pronounced enough to be considered a flaw and, in any event, did not seem to come through in the taste.
On the palate, the blackcurrant gives way to sour cherry and the faint floral notes on the nose resolve into a very definite violet quality, with the cedar being a little more pronounced. The herbaceous notes are less noticeable but there is a little peppery spice near the finish that is very pleasant. Overall, I thought this excellent for the price and I would say that it is a wine worth buying and aging for a bit in order to see what else develops.
About seven or eight months ago, I began something of a virtual tour of the Bordeaux wine-making region. I say ‘virtual’ because, being several thousand miles away, I am restricted to just tasting the wines as I find them locally, but I have managed, thus far, to work my way through quite a few of the locales that feature in the Bordeaux naming control system.
I am not going to attempt a thorough explanation of the regional naming regime that exists in Bordeaux, as it is really quite complex, but will rather limit myself to saying that, generally, you can divide the wine-making regions into three separate areas… first, the so-called ‘Left-Bank’, being the western side of the Gironde Estuary and Garonne River, then the ‘Right-Bank’, which is to the east of the estuary and the Dordogne River, and final the ‘Entre-Deux-Mers’ region, which covers the area in between.
In Bordeaux, almost all the wines produced are blends and, on the Left-Bank, the red wines are blends in which Cabernet Sauvignon predominates, with some mix of Merlot, Cabernet-Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot being included as well. Today’s selection is a Left-Bank red from the Haut-Medoc AOC, and is a simple blend comprised of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 42% Merlot.
The wine is full-bodied and quite dry with a mere 2.7 grams of sugar per liter. It has a nice smooth mouthfeel with moderate acidity and fairly robust tannins. On the nose, the fruit is quite muted with some blackcurrant and a little cherry, along with notes of forest floor, dried grass and a faint floral quality. The palate is a little fruitier with plum and sour red cherry, and there are very nice woody notes of oak and cedar with some leather, dark toast and aromatic spices in the finish. Overall, it was very interesting, nicely rounded and pretty decent value at $29.95 from SAQ in Montreal.