Posted in Wine

Wine: Château Bastor-Lamontagne Sauternes 2015

Château Bastor-Lamontagne Sauternes 2015

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.

Posted in Wine

Wine: Château Mondésir-Gazin Blaye 2014

Château Mondésir-Gazin Blaye 2014

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.

Posted in Wine

Wine: Moulins de Citran Haut-Médoc 2009

Moulins de Citran Haut-Médoc 2009

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.

Posted in Wine

Domaine du Clos Salomon Montagny Le Clou 2015

Domaine du Clos Salomon Montagny Le Clou 2015

The Chardonnay featured today is a Burgundy from the Cote Côte Chalonnaise sub-region, and, more specifically, the Montagny AOC. Personally, I am much more of a red wine drinker, and when I do go for whites, Chardonnay is not generally my first choice. I like trying new wines of all sorts, though, and this particular one turned out to be decidedly good…

  • Winery: EARL Clos Salomon
  • Price: $27.70 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13%
  • Sugar: < 1.2 g/L

This Chardonnay has a very pale straw color with a slight greenish tint. It has green and golden apples on the nose with faint floral notes, some peach and a touch of honey. It is medium full bodied with a rich, almost buttery texture. The acidity is refreshing and the initial impact is robust with the sharp savor of green apple followed by a more mellow fruitiness. It has some floral tones, and a woody note along with a very faint hint of fennel. The overall effect is well-rounded and very nice indeed.

Posted in General

Domaine Catherine et Claude Maréchal Chorey-Lès-Beaune 2013

Domaine Catherine et Claude Maréchal Chorey-Lès-Beaune 2013

Burgundy, of all the wine-producing regions  France, is the most complicated. There is a dizzying number of AOC’s (more than any other region on France), and the general supposition is that there is an in increase in quality from the basic Bourgougne AOC up to the Grand Crus. In wine after wine,however, the lie is given to this general notion, and today’s selection, from the  Chorey-Lès-Beaune AOC,  is indicative of that …

  • Winery: Catherine et Claude Maréchal
  • Price: $40.75 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13%
  • Sugar: 1.7 g/L

This wine is medium ruby in color and has a muted nose of red, slightly cooked fruit, and a faint floral background. It has a medium full body with a silky texture, and is off-dry with moderate acidity and smooth tannins that get bolder at the end. The floral notes dominate over subtle, slightly sour red fruit, and there is a hint of spice as well as a touch of leather. I had some of this with a mild beef stew and it didn’t stand up well, leaving a slightly acrid taste. Interestingly, I later drank one glass with peanuts,which resulted, as a combination, in a taste of turkey. Overall, the wine was not all that bad bad but not worth the relatively high  price.