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 General

Wine: Disznókö Furmint Tokaji Dry 2016

Disznókö Furmint Tokaji Dry 2016

Way back in my college days, I used to buy the same two wines over and over again, and both were Hungarian reds. It is somewhat funny, then, that in the last 5 or ten years during which I’ve been keeping notes, I don’t seem to have bought a single bottle of Hungarian wine until I bought this dry white Hungarian during the past Christmas break.

The ‘Furmint’ in the name here refers to the grape used, and ‘Tokaji’ is the protected designation of origin (PDO) region where the wine is produced. Some of you may recognize the region name in connection with ‘Tokay’, which is an Anglicization and refers to a very sweet white wine from that area. Today’s selection, however, is, as the name indicates, a very dry wine. The Furmint grape, which accounts for about 60% or so of all wine production in the region, is also grown in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. There has also been plantings of it in the USA in recent years and some suggest that, though still relatively unknown outside of its traditional regions, it may see an increase in popularity in the future.

In any event, this particular product is very nice indeed. It is medium-light bodied, fairly dry, and has a very bright, crisp acidity from start to finish. The nose is very muted, but carries golden apple with a backdrop of dusty straw and some faint aromatic floral notes. On the palate, one finds gold and sour green apple with a dash of mild citrus, some green vegetal highlights, and cedar with notes of resin and toasted sawdust. The slightly resinous quality may limit the appeal for some but I liked it very much and I think that this makes a very decent sipping wine and should do nicely with seafood, especially smoked salmon and smoked oysters.

Posted in Wine

Wine: Château Ksara Blanc de l’Observatoire 2016

château ksara blanc de l'observatoire 2016

For a while now, I have been doing something of a virtual tour of France by trying to sample my way through the huge number of wine AOC’s one by one. Just before Christmas, however, I took a little break and purchased a dozen or so bottles from the more obscure, or at least lesser known, wine regions of the world. I had just finished reading a book by a fellow who did an actual tour of some of these places and it really sparked my interest.

Now, Lebanon, I have to say, is one of those places that I have never ever associated with wine production, but, in fact, they have been at it over there for quite a spell now and wines from the region were being exported to Egypt some 4000 years ago. Today’s selection, is actually a good representative of the region as it is produced by Château Ksara, which is in the Beqaa Valley and is, I believe, the second oldest wine outfit in the region, having started production back in 1857.

This bottle cost me $15.00 from SAQ in Quebec and is a blend consisting of Sauvignon Blanc grapes, at 90%, with 5% each of Muscat and Clairette. I wasn’t expecting to be especially crazy about this choice as I am not usually terribly keen on Sauvignon Blanc wines, but this turned out to be very pleasant and interesting.

It is quite a dry wine, with very crisp acidity and the texture has a rather hard mineral quality. The nose, I have to say, is beautifully complex and very aromatic with golden apple with a little pear, banana, lychee and toffee. There are a few floral notes, a lovely underlying herbaceous quality, and just a hint of fennel pollen.

On the palate, you don’t get quite the same complexity as the nose, but there are some components to the overall profile that mark this as quite a bit different from other Sauvignon Blancs. The fruit is mostly sour apple with some highlights of tropical fruit, but there are also notes of straw and wood, and, most interestingly, hints of fresh tar and camphor. Those last two may sound a bit off-putting to some, but they actually give the overall wine a wonderful character and reminded me a little of some Greek wines. In any event, at this price you really are getting a very decent sipping wine and I recommend giving it a try.

Posted in Wine

Domaines Rouvinez Fendant Côteaux de Sierre 2017

Domaines Rouvinez Fendant Côteaux de Sierre 2017

Today’s selection is the second of two Swiss wines I sampled over the past Christmas vacation. The first was the Pinot Noir blend called Cave St-Pierre Dôle du Valais 2016, that I have already told you about, and which, like today’s wine, is produced in Switzerland’s Valais AOC. I didn’t rate this white quite as highly as the Pinot Noir blend, but it is still worth a mention as it employs a grape, most commonly known as Chassalas, that is not widely known in North America (as yet, at least), and which I had never had before. In Switzerland, Chasselas is known as Fendant, it is, apparently, the most planted variety in that country. It is raised as a table grape in some places, and is used to make wine in France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, New Zealand and Chile. In France, it is best known for being blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the Loire wine, ‘Pouilly-sur-Loire’.

This wine cost me $21.00 at Quebec prices, and contains 12.5% alcohol and has less than 1.2 g/L of residual sugar. It is a pale yellow and my bottle had just a touch of effervescence, although this was likely not intentional.

The nose is quite muted comprising golden apple, peach and lychee, along with some honey, half-dried grass, and just a touch of fennel. It is light-bodied, very dry, and quite crisply, even sharply, acidic. On the palate, there is both gold and green apple, a little tropical fruit in the background, the same touch of honey as on the nose, as well as an additional, and very pleasant note of hazelnut.

For my own personal taste, I would preferred just a little more residual sweetness to round out the acidity but, that being said, this is a very pleasant sipping wine that should appeal to a broad range of white wine fans.