2018 David Reynaud Crozes-Hermitage Beaumont

Just a quick look on the blog today at the wines of David Reynaud who runs Domaine Les Bruyères in the south of Crozes-Hermitage.
For this particular wine the fruit is sourced from neighboring wineries in Crozes that follow organic grape-growing practices. As for his main wine production the winery has been organic since the early 2000’s and follows biodynamic principles. There’s no doubt that his wines are highly underrated and therefore a great value. C95A5462-A3A9-44F2-9CE4-1CC9B8CD8871
The focus here is on making balanced Syrah. This wine saw no oak and was aged in concrete vats. It maintains a great freshness but still has lovely dark and peppery typicity. On the nose this one displayed blackberry, dark plum, cranberry and pepper. This balance of dark ripe but structured fruit plays out on the palate as well with the dark plum, cranberry and mocha coming through along with distinct pepper and wet slate minerality. This is drinking great young but I think a couple of more years to let the tannins integrate would make a huge difference as well. Not for long term aging but a delicious and affordable taste of the Northern Rhône!
Do you like the Rhône? North or South?
Cheers,
Ben

2007 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro

Ruffino is a well-known wine brand in these parts. They are known for their entry-level Chianti but also produce some pretty serious Chianti that can age and show great complexity. Take this bottling of their Riserva Ducale Oro, for example. The “Oro” bottling is only done in the best years. 2007 was indeed one of them, and it also happened to be the 60th anniversary of the Oro bottling.

As with many wine producers in the 21st Century, Ruffino has been bought out by one of the major global wine conglomerates, Constellation Brands. The crafting of this wine is unique, in that the grapes were picked in 2007 prior to the sale. While quality remains high and the Folinari’s remain at the head of the operation, I can’t help but notice that the wine has changed to a more modern style in recent vintages. Perhaps it’s partially influenced by global warming but there also appears to be a trend away from the more traditional style of Chianti Classico that this wine represents. IMG_4490

To be honest I don’t tend to shell out for Chianti Classico or Sangiovese. I can usually get behind a Brunello, but given that this wine had a Brunello range price tag on it I decided to do some research before just jumping right in. I saw a lot of mixed reviews on the wine. Lots of polarizing comments and conflicting reports on whether the wine still displayed enough fruit to keep the wine in check. Clearly I decided to pull the trigger. So how was it?

The wine is made with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot depending on the vintage. The wine is aged for 36 month in oak, followed by some aging in stainless steel and concrete. Dried cherries, plum, leather, forest floor, tobacco and herbs are the primary characteristics on the nose. The palate is much the same with further licorice and dark chocolate character. The tannins in the wine have fully integrated and the wines acidity, which hits just below medium + is enough to carry the wine and refresh the palate. I’m loving the mix between the dried cherries and the ripe plum here. The body and alcohol are medium and the finish is right in that medium + range that I would expect of a wine of this price point and quality. Despite some conflicting reports I’m glad I picked up this bottle. I would drink it again but I don’t think it’s getting any better. I would also be weary of the wines provenance, as proper cellaring can make all the difference and likely did make all the difference in this case.

Have a favorite Chianti producer? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,
Ben

 

2017 Bernhard Ott Am Berg Gruner Veltliner

When it comes to drinking white wine I often find it hard to get excited about what’s in the glass. I rarely encounter a bad or undrinkable white wine but it’s just not something that I jump at the chance to drink. On this blog and on Instagram I do tend to post a reasonable amount of Riesling, cool-climate Chardonnay or the occasional Chenin Blanc but the fact is these are the outliers. That’s why when I was first introduced to the unique Austrian grape variety, Gruner Veltliner, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the quality of the wine in the glass. It was truly a wine revelation for me, a few months prior I didn’t even know that they made high quality wines in Austria. The next thing I knew I was drinking one of the best damn white wines I had ever had. Now I know it’s a no-brainer to pick up a Gruner when I see one on the shelves. IMG_4414

This producer in particular is one I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. While this is Ott’s entry-level wine it’s still very well made and is grown in Wagram, which is located in the south of Austria. It’s yet another wine made with little intervention that uses natural yeasts and not a whole lot of sulfur.

This wine displayed the varieties distinct white pepper both on the nose and on the palate. The wines medium + acidity helped to lift the lemon, zest, citrus blossom and pear aromas that were displayed both on the nose and palate. The mix of lemon and pepper seemed to present almost like ginger on the nose. A touch of cream and chalky minerality help round out this wines flavour profile, which is quite delightful. The finish doesn’t quite stick around but this is a great wine for the price.

Have you ever had a Gruner before? What did you think?

Cheers,
Ben

2016 Akarua Pinot Noir

Second only to Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, Pinot Noir is planted all over New Zealand. In Central Otago where this wine is produced, however, Pinot Noir is king. There are varying sub-climates in the region ranging from quite warm to a little bit cool. As one might expect the warmer climates see riper richer wines and the cooler ones edgier wines with more crunchy fruit. In the Bannockburn appellation where this wine is produced the climate is quite warm and this richer style definitely comes through.IMG_4221

Akarua is one of the largest vineyard owners in the area with about 125 hectares of land under vine at the time of writing. Of course much of this land has come to them through acquisition of other vineyards. Their vineyards in the area provide a variety of slight variances in climate and exposure, which contribute in the final blend of a lot of their wines.

The wine in question, the 2016 Akarua Pinot Noir is definitely very elegant right off the bat. Upon putting my nose the glass their is definite dark cherry, dark plum, baking spice, liquorice, earth and thyme profile going on here. Perhaps a little over-oaked for my taste with a definite proportion of new oak but it’s well integrated and with a couple of years should integrate. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied but definitely moving towards medium +. Concentrated cherry and plum with great depth. Definite spicy and herbaceous thing going on, on the back end giving the wine some further interest.  Slightly grippy fine-grained tannins lead to a medium + finish. Overall this is damn good Central Otago Pinot Noir. Was there things stylistically that I would have preferred? I would say so but all-in-all this is delicious, has a great mouthfeel and holds true to the style of the region. Worth picking up and I would definitely drink again, particularly with the right wine pairing, thinking duck with seasonal veg or a succulent pork dish. 

Have you had this wine before? Want to try it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Cheers,
Ben  

 

 

Frédéric Brouca Champs Pentus Faugères

When I first tasted this wine a few years ago, I thought it was delicious but I was thoroughly confused about where the damn thing was made. I was eating at one of my favorite restaurants, and it was suggested that I try a glass of this wine. It is from Faugères the server said as she presented me with the bottle for review. I knew it was from France but where exactly was less clear. The wine was bright but also ripe, peppery, concentrated and even a little funky. Turns out Faugères is in the south of France in the Languedoc, a region I have even visited, but somehow had not heard of this AOC.

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When it comes to this winery, there is also a Canadian connection. Frederic Brouca, although originally from France, married a Canadian and spent considerable time in Ottawa (at the time of writing I am not sure if he is still a resident there or not). In any case, I am confident this Canadian connection is part of the reason this small French producer has had such an impact on the Canadian wine scene.

As for the wine, it is low-intervention with minimal sulfur. The picking is done with precision, and often early to ensure freshness in the wine. Native yeasts, neutral oak, hand harvesting and gravity fed winemaking all contribute to the freshness, funk and impeccable taste of this terroir driven single-vineyard “Champs Pentus” GSM blend.

The wine is dry and medium-bodied with blueberry, dark plum, raspberry, pepper, game meat, thyme and lavender. An intoxicating and aromatic nose along with medium + acidity, medium tannins and a medium + finish. Moreish and complex all at the same time, this wine to me is a home run. To date this is the only Frédéric Brouca wine that I have had, albeit a few times. However, I would love to try more of his wines and more wines from Faugères in general.

2017 Le Petit Chat Malin

I would love to be able to drink amazing wines like velvety Burgundy, floral Barolo and peppery Northern Rhône Syrah on a daily, or even weekly basis. This is the dream, but for right now it’s not in the cards.

Sure, I drink some nice wines at tastings and open the occasional celebratory bottle, but for the most part I look for affordable, fresh and food-friendly wines that I can drink and share with friends and family. This is one of those wines.

For me The Petit Chat Malin series, loosely translated as the “cunning little cat” provides that easy-going laid back drinking experience that I’m so often looking for. The fun label and write-up caught everyone’s attention at the dinner table, while enjoying a family meal of pizza and garlic fingers. We opted for the red wine, which went very well with the pizza.

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The 2017 Le Petit Malin Rouge was our favorite, it had juicy red berry fruits with some baking spice and something a little herbaceous. The wine was velvety with only a slight grip to the tannins and enough acidity to carry the wine. At just over $15 CAD this is comparable in quality and taste to many of the Cotes-du-Rhône offerings available, and for several dollars less.

The white on the other hand was crisp with lemon, peach and some freshly cut grass. This was drank after the fact, but next time I think I’ll pair it with a strawberry and goat cheese spinach salad, which will make food and wine here shine!

If you’re looking for a great value “weeknight” wine this could be for you!

Cheers, Ben

2017 Meyer Pinot Noir

The wines of British Columbia, Canada have in my experience generally focused on bigger bolder Bordeaux style blends but given the various microclimates of the Okanagan Valley there is also plenty of Pinot to go around. As the picture here clearly indicates this is from 3 separate sights and is blended together to reach a final balanced wine.

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For those not familiar with the wines of British Columbia there are three major viticultural areas but the Okanagan Valley is by far the biggest. At almost 5 times as many wineries as any other region, the valley is home to 182 of a possible 274 grape-producing wineries.  It’s no surprise that this is where the provinces most ambitious wines are crafted.

This particular wine is the entry-level for Meyer and can be had for $25-$35 depending on location and for $23 when buying direct at the winery. While it’s a nice Pinot that showcases what is possible in the region, it pales in comparison to the wineries single vineyard Old Block Pinot and Mclean Creek Rd. Pinot which showcase more depth, fruit concentration and ageability. They also have a recently released Micro Cuvee, which I can only imagine is as good or better as the two single vineyard options. -8532722287925201567_IMG_9216

This has crunchy red fruits -currants, raspberries, cranberries – along with light baking spice, herbs and earthy notes. The wine finds balance between ripeness and crunchy fruits. A slight grip to the tannins is welcomed and there’s just enough acidity to hold the wine together. The fruit seems slightly muted here and a little more acidity would be welcomed but this is nice for an entry-level Pinot. I would drink again but if I was you would splurge for the Mclean Creek Rd. offering if your budget allows.

Have you had a wine from British Columbia? What was it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,
Ben