Pop goes VQA

Having just spent a full experiential week crushing vendemmia 2017 sangiovese grapes between fingers and teeth in the heart of Chianti Classico it’s more than exciting to be home in Ontario in the throes of wine country Ontario’s own ’17 raccolto. Every grape harvest has its challenges, intricacies, twists and turns but the antithetical coming about that has happened in both regions is nothing short of a set of miracles.

In Chianti Classico one of the longest droughts in recorded history threatened to suffocate and desiccate what tiny berries there may have been but an early September deluge filled the sangiovese with hope and a recharge towards quality and even quantity. The opposite happened in Ontario. A full summer of rain and mild temperatures has given way to an unprecedented warm Septenmber and now into October, the continued spell of gorgeous weather means that all parties should be celebrating. A glorious September has done more than save a vintage, it has elevated the quality and stretched the quantity so that winemakers can and will process their grapes into a wide range of exciting 2017 wines.

At a time when wine promotions are happening around the province with great intent and public positivity, the VQA-LCBO pot is simultaneously stirred, a recurring theme it seems in the world we call Ontario wine. The provincial board recently announced that “Ontario wines take centre stage at the LCBO ahead of Thanksgiving. The LCBO celebrates and savours the taste of Ontario. Local favourites featured online and in-store.” The four wines featured are a drop in the bucket of what is both capable and impressive about Ontario wine production so it is the LCBO’s “Taste Local Pop-up Experience” that digs a little deeper.

From Friday September 22nd through Sunday October 15th you can drop by 600 King St. West in downtown Toronto for a joint LCBO-VQA pop-up with an ongoing discovery tasting bar, flight tastings, classes (including life-drawing and chocolate bark making) and tutored events led by sommeliers, product consultants and local winemakers. You can also shop for your favourite VQA wines in the LCBO’s retail and digital store. In fact it was last night only that the irreducible Peter Boyd could be found working the first floor of The Spoke Club with a talk on “how to order wine in restaurants.” VQA wine, that is.

Back in March of 2017 while reporting on the VQA wines Taste of Ontario event I remarked how “new assessments are so important to understanding and gaining new perspective on not just how our (Ontario) wines age but also how they are affected by early reductive environment shock and their ability to change (for the better) after a mere six to 12 months in bottle. The first snapshots are not always the clearest.” The same attitude might apply to what happens when wines are presented to a VQA tasting panel. Only the most experienced palates, best winemakers and a select few Ontario wine cognoscenti can forecast evolution and are therefore capable of making immediate, correct decisions. Left to less experienced hands there are sure to be feathers ruffled.

Related – Fifty ways to Taste Ontario

On the heels of a summer during which VQA Ontario wines were celebrated at the 7th annual Cool Chardonnay conference with unprecedented zeal something is amiss, once again, but this time for curious reasons. An article published in the National Post last week goes on the all frontal attack, in short to the LCBO and long against VQA, the Vintner’s Quality Alliance of Ontario. The story contends that the best wines produced in Ontario do not make it to LCBO shelves. It states “all wine made in Ontario needs to pass through the VQA’s tasting panel if it is to be sold at Wine Rack and the LCBO.” The blame is placed squarely on the VQA tasting panel. The equation is simple. Fail VQA and no LCBO for you. Sounds correct but it’s not that simple. The two problems are only connected for the sake of argumentative convenience. As an Ontario wine producer, even if your wine passes VQA it may never be purchased to be sold at the LCBO. Such an equation takes liberties without substantiation. And, as John Szabo M.S. correctly points out, “there’s no law preventing the LCBO or Wine Rack from selling non-VQA wines. In fact, many wines at Wine Rack are offshore blends.” But even this diverges from the point.

Related – How can i4c the future through cool chardonnay?

More important are the questions of taxation in the discrepancy between VQA and non-VQA approved wines and whether or not a wine industry can grow and flourish when many of its makers feel stymied, both economically and philosophically, by a regulatory board they contend tells them what styles of wine they can make. They argue against a panel that carries the authority to send them to the highest level of appeal before granting approval, all the while bottling, labelling and delivery schedules may be compromised along the way. The bureaucracy is hardest on the smallest fries. Some are vocal about wanting to do away with the VQA establishment, or at least the tasting panel and to ask that they just concentrate on regional policing and labelling. Still others would like to see the end of that arm as well. Australia has gone that route, so why not Ontario? There is much talk about this golden era in which foreign wine writers and sommeliers around the world are raving about and drinking wines from Ontario’s great fringe terroir. Ontario is hot and the fear is that if more is not done to discourage mediocre wines that pass with ease and instead encourage risk-taking styles the mojo will be lost and the region be passed up for the next cool climate producer. Is this a fear based in reality?

This story is as old as Ontario wines time immemorial. There isn’t a local writer worth his or her words in salt that has not touched on the subject of the LCBO and VQA. I’ve read the most eloquently rendered articles of sophistication by David Lawrason, John Szabo M.S., Rick VanSickle, Christopher Waters, Tony Aspler, Beppi Crosariol and countless other excellent scribes about what’s right, wrong, fine and inexplicably deplorable about our monopoly and regulatory provincial systems. Even Godello has touched, broached and breached the subjects. A recent, arguably superficial National Post article by a young writer has caused a minor stir in wine circles though not surprisingly has fallen on deaf consumers ears. There is no new revelation here but I really have to thank the NP writer for her take because for one thing she is a very good writer. She should not feel unwanted if the comments sections remain quiet, nor should the winemakers who feel their plight is falling on deaf ears. I’ve made a living off of being ignored. I’m also not a fan of attacking writers and their work. It takes a great deal of dedication, passion and hard determination to produce such a story. Editors on the other hand are not what they used to be. My editor while I was at Canada.com was an expert in the art of knowing what to print and how to make adjustments for the greater good of the story. The National Posts’s editor was flat-out lazy and yet while the writer’s tirade in crusade against VQA is rife with errors and fact checking inconsistencies (like contending that VQA pumps “inordinate sums of money into promoting Ontario wines”) the provocation has provided me personally with a quick period of genuflection and ultimately, an epiphany.

The average wine drinker in Ontario is not privy to the inner circle of goings on with respect to what is typical and acceptable and how the Vintner’s Quality Alliance of Ontario screens the wines submitted for approval, thus deciding the financial fate and economic viability of selling said wines. There was a minor trickle of comment chiming to the article. Ontario Wine Chat’s Shawn McCormick noted “there’s a few facts wrong in the article, but they hit the key point that unless you regularly visit Ontario wine regions, you have a very narrow view on Ontario wine.” Ottawa’s Dr. Janet Dorozynski, Canadian Wine, Beer and Spirits, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada noted, “pprovocative title and interesting perspective by a new-to-wine writer but as there are many factual errors NP editor would be wise to fact check before publication. And Ontario is not really so unknown anymore.”

André Proulx pulls no punches. Proulx writes “another lazy criticism of VQA. Cites 2 wineries issues failing to mention most wineries pass sans problem. Fault doesn’t make a wine daring…The VQA has its faults… but I’m sick of hearing the same two stories about Norm and PMs wines failing ” Hidden Bench winemakers states “this article makes it appear that the only artisanal wineries producing terroir driven wines are those who have had wines rejected by VQA.”

It is WineAlign’s John Szabo that really picks apart the article. On the idea that “many of the world’s greatest wines have naturally occurring faults, which are the result of the soils and wild fermentation processes,” he replies “ridiculous statement. Stay away from subjects you don’t understand.” In response to “in other words, some of France’s best wines would not pass VQA certification because their high reductive notes would be considered faulty,” he answers “more extrapolated nonsense.” Reacting to “many smaller Ontario wineries have begun experimenting with naturally occurring faults by fermenting their wines with wild yeast,” he says “you insult many smaller Ontario winemakers, and some yeasts, too. Nobody strives for faults.” And finally, when the story notes “adding conventional yeast to grape juice is a bit like buying insurance.… it can also stifle the terroir of a particular vintage,” he retorts, “countless top winemakers around the world disagree. Faulty tastes homogenize wine a helluva lot more than any yeast.”

One of our most esteemed and leading winemakers Norman Hardie had this to say. “It’s great someone has had the guts to take on the VQA…have great difficulty with the quote from the VQA claiming “one of our strengths of our model is our ability to flexible and responsive to be both winemaking and consumer trends”. .this couldn’t be further from the truth..it is a factual error given directly from.the VQA..says alot about our governing body.” I followed up by having a lengthy conversation with Norm. He contends that his statement is indeed one grounded in fact and I listened.

Winemakers feel they should not be told how to practice their craft or be penalized for pushing boundaries. Anyone who thinks this just isn’t so is not paying close enough attention and likely drinking boring wine. It is also a progressive imperative that winemakers seek ways to break from tradition, rules and etiquette, to challenge norms and traditions, but does a wine have to be a bad boy to be considered the most important expression of a local terror? And what fun or excitement is there is a governing board saying “yes “and “of course” in response to every submission? The financial ramifications can certainly be damaging but what’s so special about being accepted at every turn? Would William S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, Henry Miller, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jean-Michel Basquiat been half as interesting if their art did nothing to challenge or subvert? Immediate commercial acceptance comes at a price and much harder to those who choose to make a difference. Just as vines have to stress to produce exceptional grapes, so must a winemaker face adversity and suffer for his or her art. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have your grapes and drink them too.

In 2011 David Leyonhjelm wrote in Business Spectator, “some believe that Australia’s policy of exporting fault-free but relatively bland wines has done more harm to Australia’s wine reputation than anything that might have been sold without Wine Australia’s approval…The market is a very efficient mechanism for sorting out these sorts of things. It is most definitely anti-entrepreneurial.” Hard to argue against this but a devil’s advocate position would say that undrinkable and or grossly faulted wines made by less than experienced producers can get lumped in with quality bottles in shared categories. What if the consumer was unable to remember one from the other or which was which? Would it not be better to rid the market of the shite before it makes it there in the first place?

After Wine Australia squashed their export vetting panel, wine journalist Max Allen wrote “anybody assessing whether a wine is ‘sound and merchantable’ need to be exposed to the incredible diversity of styles out there: from big, black, overoaked, over-alcholic shiraz to cloudy, orange, amphora-fermented sauvignon blanc, almost anything goes out there in the modern wine scene.” Indeed this is what we want to see, allow and encourage, though in Ontario, can it be done without some form of compromise? It must suck to make a great wine, have it applauded, reviewed with great scores and requested by international sommeliers, only to see it stalled before being accepted by a local tribunal. Something is obviously missing in such an equation but is the full-out scrapping of the tasting panel the solution? Doing so would mean eliminating an identity consumers have come to trust. Ontario wine not only needs VQA, it is VQA. In this part of the world you have to seek diplomacy.

The article in question notes “this is a situation unique to Ontario,” that wines must pass a tasting panel, when in point of fact most appellations make use tasting a panel. VQA continues to carry the function it was built for, just like its AOC, DOCG and VDP European equivalents, with a standard to protect for the greater good of the wine region it has been entrusted to promote. Is it perfect? Far from it. Has eliminating it helped Australia? Sure. Is the free for all system working in South Africa? You could say yes. But Ontario is not a form of the wild west. It’s diplomatically Canadian to a fault and inextricably linked in political and cultural fashions to Europe more than most would like to admit. Bureaucracy is part of the reason so many moving parts manage to get along. The system fails some and more often than not benefits the largest players even while it saves countless others from getting sick, though continued discussion and journalistic discourse will render said governance continuously relevant or perhaps moot, eventually in time.

If as a winemaker you want to forge your own path and make unusual, risk-taking, anti-establishment wines with character and personality you have to be prepared to suffer the financial casualty of making such products within the parameters of an organized and civilized society. VQA should seek a clearer picture so that wines either pass or fail, not string them along if they are just going to pass them in the end. Neither side benefits when good wines are held hostage. That said, when the system weeds out others which are neither curiously subversive nor special then the consumer will benefit. As for ground-breaking winemaking it can take years, sometimes a lifetime and in Bukowski-like cases, a posthumous party for great art to truly be recognized. The system can only change so fast. It’s not realistic, very frustrating and counterintuitive to creativity and productivity to think otherwise.

The VQA system is certainly flawed. So are the AOC and DOCGs in France and Italy. Even Ontario wine industry peeps who have to support VQA’s function and back its credibility could not argue against that statement. The panelists who decide the fate of submitted wines may not always be best equipped to deal with every fleeting snapshot placed in front of them. Even the best make mistakes. Only the most experienced referees and umpires get to work the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB postseason. Same in World Cup, Champions League and Premier League Football. Why not in wine? At major wine competitions around the world only the most qualified judges get the nod. The same goes for the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada and Intervin and the latter includes some of Ontario’s finest winemakers as judges. Who’s better to make these decisions then they? Anyone who thinks that VQA’s processes don’t need any tweaking is hiding under a rock.

Illustrious panel @TerroirTalk ready to rock #orangewine @winecouncilont #vqaontario #vqa #skinfermentedwhite #faultsandall #terroir2017

So let’s talk a bit about progress and picking battles. Back in May of 2017 the annual Terroir Symposium was held and the first of three masterclass wine sessions focused on VQA’s new category of Skin-Contact Whites. That it took somewhere between 12 months and two years for VQA to get this far is not surprising nor should it be called out for taking so long. It’s a step. Italy would still be working on it. The hottest trend to grip the wine world in the last five years is indeed a style that has been the focus of winemakers in Europe for centuries but as a PDO (wines of protected origin) it is most certainly a relatively new ideal. You can’t just snap your fingers and expect everyone involved to know what’s going on.

The standards development committee has decided that 10 days is the minimum time needed on skins. Again, it’s a step and after review may soon be adjusted. This sub-committee of VQA made up of winemakers, educators, etc. arrived at “how long it would take to attract the typical characteristics of a skin fermented wine.” The number 10 was decided upon as a “good starting point, but it’s a living document and not carved in stone.” Vineland Estates winemaker Brian Schmidt added “the characteristics of orange wine require fermentation, as opposed to cold soak.”

As the distinction needs to be for skin-contact white wines, John Szabo asks and Brent Rowland of Pearl Morissette answers his question. “What is the fundamental core character? Fundamentally they are about complexity and structure, about the tactile components of wine’s phenolic compounds and tannins. Heat and alcohol rip out aggressive tannins, so whole berry fermentation improves texture and structure. A cold soak gives you the salty component but not the structure you get from fermentation.”

Writer Fionna Beckett adds, “Orange wine is not an in between wine, but skin-contact wine is just that, without texture and structure. You need the minimum 10 days to get to that point.” Or do you? But the argument agrees that the extended use of stems and seeds will lead you down that textured road. Just keeping it to stems and seeds you will be shortchanged in certain years because they may remain green, bitter and unpleasant. So more flexibility is needed. Are we just adding a category of trendy wine or are we adding a category of value?”

“A small but significant number of consumers are excited by it” admits Beckett. “As an outsider I say why not. It’s a white wine that behaves like a red. A wine made from white grapes but made like a red.” Are they always oxidative? She says they are “white wine but with more structure?” Kind of seems counterintuitive because many whites are laden with texture and structure. So, Szabo asks if skin-contact wine enhances or hinders distinct regional character and what wines would you like to see excluded from this category?” The answer is dominant traits that make wine one-dimensional; but we haven’t set those parameters yet. “We’re looking to weed out flaws, like excessive sulphur, just as with any wine,” says Schmidt and adds Rowland “when you skin ferment white wine they produce glutamate, a precursor to umami. And there is a predisposition to enjoying umami, or not.” Ay, there’s the rub. There is also a predisposition to passing wines through VQA, or not.

Here are my notes on the skin-contact white wines tasted at Terroir in May 2017. After all, what would a post by Godello be without some tasting notes. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously, after all.

Does skin-contact wine enhance or hinder distinct regional character? @terroirtalk #vqaontario #terroir2017

Norman Hardie “Tornado” 2016, VQA Ontario (WineryWineAlign)

Tasted blind this strikes with immediacy in that it presents as so very much like chardonnay of high acidity, not to mention tannin and a Savennières meets somewhere in Alsace like texture and tang. So as varietal pinot gris it does confound and yet this really fine calcareous notion can’t be denied, so there is knowledge in that it would be there regardless. Not technically orange with its (maximum, if even) 12 hours on skins but under the rules of the appellation it more than qualifies as a skin-contact white. With more pronounced and less oxidative fruit than most, without a doubt speaks of its place. Drink 2017-2019. Tasted May 2017  normanhardiewinery  @normhardie  @NormanHardieWinery

Southbrook Vineyards Vidal Skin Fermented White, Small Lot Natural Wine 2016, VQA Ontario (Winery, $29.95, WineAlign)

The first time I tasted this blind (at Terroir Symposium) I noted it to be “vidal-like,” a touch oxidative, of this elegant paste or salve, with notes of green plum and just a touch of grapefruit. The second pass confirms it to be a fine vidal orange wine, with more texture than should or would be expected. It delivers lemon and tannin, plus a calculated layering of ample and enough acidity to carry it along. A fine example. Really mouth coating and so tannic. Takes what was learned from 2014 and 2015 experiments and with VQA category approval in its back pocket, begins the true journey forward. Drink 2017-2020. Tasted blind at NWAC17, June 2017  southbrookvineyards  @SouthbrookWine  @SouthbrookWine

Sperling Vineyards Natural Amber Pinot Gris 2015, VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $30.00, WineAlign)

So much beeswax and honey wine attribution. Porcine, delicate and quite elegant for the statement. Plenty of acidity and even more relish. Why not give a little Grauburgunder love to the winemaker for giving the style a shot, and succeeding. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  sperlingvineyards  @AnnSperling  @SperlingVyds  @SperlingVineyards

From my earlier note of January 2016:

Ann Sperling is not merely fussing about with natural ferments, skin-contact macerations and non-sulphured, self-preservations. She is learning about winemaking, opening doors to perception and interested in doing things in different ways. Her second go ’round with a natural Amber Pinot Gris furthers the non-plussed discussion and the understanding. While pouring the inaugural 2014 from keg on tap last year at Vancouver’s Belgard Kitchen, it was Sommelier David Stansfield who so succinctly noted “this wine is a raw expression of vineyard, grape, and time.” This gets right to the heart and the crux of the Orange matter, especially within the context of a North American account. Sperling has many supporters in her corner, including husband-winemaker-consultant Peter Gamble, the folks at the Casorso-Sperling Kelowna Farm and Bill Redelmeier at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara. This 2015 is a veritable pink cloud, anti-orange, still so very musty, funky, tanky, with great Sperling acidity and pierce. There is so much exuviation to evanescence and back again flavour. There is feigned sweetness that purposes towards and with gearing second wind into length. How much pleasure is this from and for Pinot Gris? Drink 2016-2017

Cos Rami Sicilia 2014, Sicily, Italy (Agent, SAQ, 12461525, $31.50, WineAlign)

The ornate “orangeness” of the Raimi is patterned and woven across a flat and linear map, introducing itself in a way no other wine can or will be willing to do. Still equipped with this fine acidity but it is the flavours and the texture that cause and solicit so much more sensory approbation, first savoury, then sapid and finally umami. A melted salve of orange skin, bergamot-scented and hazelnut-essential oil secreted beeswax. You gotta get into it to get in to it. Drink 2017-2027.  Tasted May 2017  #cosvittoria  #aziendaagricolacos  thelivingvine     @TheLivingVine  @cosvittoria  The Living Vine inc.

Domaine Viret Dolia Paradis Ambré 2015, Vin De France (Agent, $65.95, WineAlign)

Philippe Viret’s orange wine resides in a cosmoculture world, class and category of its own. Cosmotelluric principles, magnetic fields, homeopathic applications, natural preparations and ancient architectural rules destine this so very naturally flat, rusty and rustic wine into a nether world. The coppery blend of muscat petit grain, bourboulenc, clairette rose, roussanne, vermentino and grenache blanc spent 60 days on the skins and with transparent clarity leaves nothing behind. It does leave much to the imagination and requires some metaphysical fortitude, especially because it lingers, long after it has left the glass and the room. As for amber wine it’s as close to paradise as you are going to find. Drink 2017-2025.  Tasted May 2017  #domaineviret  nicholaspearcewines  @CosmocultureFR  @Nicholaspearce_  @ledomaineviret  Philippe Viret (Domaine Viret)  Nicholas Pearce

Norman Hardie Pinot Gris “Ponton” 2016, VQA Ontario, Canada (Winery, $39.00, WineAlign)

Unlike the Tornado, Hardie’s Ponton is the most Rosé like in this newly created skin-contact category. It’s pink and rosey, of great acidity, salinity, regional limestone and even liquid dusty. In its quantifiable sapidity and wispy lime-zippy personality it could actually pass for riesling and having spent up to and only 10 days on skins this continues to state such a case. The number is actually nine days in cold soak and then it began fermenting, so really just one day of fermentation to confound the category, then put into barrel. The natural fermentation and zero adjustments add up to this, neither white nor red, but comfortably in the land settled between. A clear and focused SCW in the natural world. Drink 2017-2019.  Tasted May 2017

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Kerner Orange White 2015, New Zealand (Winery, WineAlign)

This Kiwi skin-contact blend almost smells like Icewine what with its tropical, exaggerated fruity nose but conversely and impossibly bone dry despite that aromatic sweetness. Kerner is the vineyard and its actually a one month on skins ferment of pinot gris, gewürztraminer and riesling. Tres cool. Drink 2017-2020. Tasted May 2017  pyramidvalleyvineyards  @pyramidvalleynz  @PyramidValleyVineyards

Pearl Morissette Cuvée Blu 2015, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, $25.00, WineAlign)

The amphora (qveri) fermented Cuvée Blu makes use of 100 per cent whole cluster chardonnay in blend with pinot gris, riesling and (in 2016, sauvignon blanc). This singular, go it alone fantasy spent three and a half months on skins pressed and aged in foudres. It may just dance with the funkiest R & B gait of them all and to the semi-trained noggin can only be Pearl Morissette. The risk taken here is done without fear, into sheep’s milk, unwashed rind, saline, earth-crusted, stoned immaculate. The accumulation of glutamate-umami-polyphenolic-brettanomyces and volatile acidity takes it to great lengths and yet all this might disappear around the next aromatic corner. So much interest and so playfully dirty at the same time is this geekiest of them all, whole bunch, aged in 60 year-old (Alsatian) oak vats SCW. The numbers show 14 per cent abv, though it’s not yet in bottle. Drink 2017-2024.  Tasted May 2017  pearlmorissette  @PearlMorissette  Pearl Morissette

Vineland Estates Chardonnay Musqué Skin Fermented White 2016, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario (Winery, $30.00, WineAlign)

Though Brian Schmidt’s floral chardonnay “experiment” might be considered the simplest and easiest of Ontario’s “orange” wines that is only because it’s so bloody delicious to consume. The character is rusty and textured and in a way tastes just like warm iced tea and all the tannic variations that come from such a profile of flavour. This chardonnay musqué spent 55 days on skins and in turn developed its tannic backbone though it seems to have lost its intrinsic chardonnay character. That said it soaked up its Bench terroir so if something is lost much has been gained. Drink 2017-2019.  Tasted May 2017  vinelandestates  benchwineguy  @VinelandEstates  @benchwineguy  @winery.vinelandestates  Brian Schmidt

Good to go!

Godello

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

Chablis got soil

Les Terroirs de Chablis, Domain Jean-Marc Brocard

Les Terroirs de Chablis, Domain Jean-Marc Brocard

When you look at it in the most base and simple way Chablis is one thing. Like having a surname taken from the family’s ancestral village. The name connotes the surrounding wine-growing area and the town at its epicentre. It speaks to a community as a sub-regional district of Burgundy and it lends nomenclature to the all-in, mono-varietal entity. Though divided into four sub-appellations; Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis is chardonnay and it is a place of one terroir.

Is it really? Chablis is chardonnay for varietal purposes but only that links it to other chardonnay. Chablis is more than chardonnay, not existential as chardonnay and if you ask wiser men than me, is not chardonnay. So what ties it together? What commonality beyond grape variety is shared by the quaternate appellations of Chablis? Soil.

Soil in Chablis is defined by a widely accepted generalization. “The Kimmeridgian is a geological age in the Upper Jurassic epoch, around 150 million years ago. In Chablis, one finds subsoils of gray marl which alternate with bands of limestone, sometimes very rich in fossils of Exogyra virgula, a small, comma-shaped oyster that is characteristic of the marl from the Middle and Upper Kimmeridgian.” The eminence and éclat of terroir rises through the increasingly beneficial levels of Oxfordian, Portlandian and into Kimmeridgian. Petite Chablis, Chablis, Cru/Climat.

Related – Looking for Chablis in Ontario?

There is little about Chablis that is not drawn up in contrasts. It begins with Left Bank versus Right Bank, the Serein River and the village of Chablis acting as the interface between. Petit Chablis giving way to the more important Chablis and then Premier Cru the varied and always impressive interloper separating the villages wines from the Grand Cru. Chablis as a varietal concept, as opposed to and unlike anywhere else in the world, seemingly unrelated to chardonnay.

Related – Paradox in Chablis

My first piece centred on the history and future of greatness in Chablis. I made this bold statement about (seventh generation Chablis winemaker) Edouard Vocoret and (Greek-German) Eleni Theodoropoulos. “I have met and tasted the future of Chablis and its name is Edouard Vocoret and Eleni Theodoropoulos.” They carry a torch lit by producers like Vincent Dauvissat. The musicality of his wines are self-conscious without being self-regarding. Their aromas, flavours and textures tend to themselves, to Chablis and to the world at large. Please welcome Edouard and Eleni to this stage.

Related – Chablis from Dauvissat to Vocoret

While in Chablis I came face to grace with the monopole ideal from one grower who glides ethereal in her freedom from appellative constraints. The rows outside the 11th-12th century monk’s wall demarcate Le Clos de Béru Vineyard. All of Athénaïs de Béru’s wines are single-vineyard Chablis save for the Terroir de Beru, a wine that gathers all the vineyards to express the all-encompassing Béru terroir. Béru. The Left Bank domaine farmed by Athénaïs de Béru, organically, biodynamically and spiritually. Chablis from the tree of life.

Related – Enlightened Chablis of Château De Béru

Last week I wrote a Chablis piece that focused on the wines of Quebec native Patrick Piuze. It was in July of 2008 that Piuze made the decision to go solo and start his own winery. While he may not be a wine grower, he is an accomplished and respected winemaker. He may not own his vineyards but it took him little time to forge cultivated and solicitous relationships with farmers in Chablis. The twenty-five tasting notes were posted to open a window into the portal of Patrick Piuze in Chablis.

Related – A Canadian in Chablis

Map of Chablis

My reviews for Premier Cru and Grand Cru will follow this post. Including the week I spent tasting in Chablis and in the six months since I have written 73 tasting notes for wines that do not fall under the auspices of the (47 Premier and Grand Cru) climats; 20 for Petit Chablis, 47 on Chablis and nine dug into more depth in Chablis Vieilles Vignes. It should be noted that many of these wines are in fact a product of specific lieu-dits, “an area of land whose name recalls a particularity that is usually topographical or historical.” While these wines are not considered to be first or second tier Chablis, they are great and specific expressions of Chablis terroir. And so it took 6,000-plus words to get these reviews finished. Please enjoy the brevity of the overall account.

petit-chablis-chablis-premier-cru-grand-cru-right-at-it-with-26-bivbchablis-ericszablowski-aucoeurduvin

Petit #chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru, Grand Cru. Right at it with 26 @BIVBChablis #ericszablowski #aucoeurduvin

Petit Chablis

Domaine Alexandre Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 13135781, $21.30, WineAlign)

In warmer draw and major tones the plot of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne provides balm and herbiage and a minor more towards weight and oxidation. In spite of this unction and embrocation there remains and persists the necessary citrus and smoky flint. What this Petit Chablis from Guy et Olivier surrenders to creamy, micro-oxygenated texture it proffers and scraps in the name of complexity. Petit Chablis in a singular class. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @lesvinsdupre

domaine-du-barat

Tasting cave at Domaine Barat

Domaine Barat Petit Chablis ‘Le Padabu’ 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

Angèle Barat says this about making Petit Chablis. “You don’t abuse.” From calcareous soil on the Beine plateau, the Barat Padabu is what you might call a perfect gougeres white. It is Petit Chablis as it is meant to be; pure, basic, unctuous, unadulterated juice with the slightest mineral hint. Nothing more. nothing less. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted July 2016   

Domaine Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Well of course the difference is felt immediately, in simpler terms, affordably easy, accountable, preferential to commercial success. Acidity is prepared with necessary balance in advance of letting fruit run wild. This is waxy and pleasantly sour. A bit chewy as well. Nicely done. Classic unbaked chardonnay in every correct way. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted July 2016  @Billaud_Simon

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Les Plantes 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

He waits until we have traveled through a full tasting of Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru, but then Julien Brocard is more than pleased to introduce his biodynamic range. It begins with Petit Chablis Les Plantes 2014, the stepping stone into how and why we are to understand why Julien brought this approach to the estate. “His witchcraft,” as he puts it, for healthy vines, wines and lifestyle. What it brings to Petit Chablis is a true purpose, in aridity, from mineral salinity and for affinity to wine sustaining infinity. It is too early to know how biodynamics will lead to commercial successes and here the best is not yet avowed, even in the great vintage because the maker knows not yet what it is he’s got. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

La Chablisienne Petit Chablis Pas si Petit 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

Pas si Petit translates to “not so small,” as much a request to not take things so literally as it is a service of notice as to the style of Chablisienne’s Petit Chablis. It is in fact quite a rounded PC, an all-encompassing, tie in multi-soil aspects in one big cuveé. It’s not so petite, something easily attributed to five to six months aging on the lees, all in tank. The simple and highly effective entry point teaches and receives with the Pas si Petit. Petit Chablis for all and for everyone to enter the omniscient domain of Chablis. Curiosity, legwork, hooked. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted at the domaine with Vincent Bartement, July 2016.   @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

From estate vineyards and the entry point into the time-honoured Collet style, the Petit Chablis is seamless, steely, 100 per cent stainless steel raised bottled vigour. The sprite and tart are appetite whetting with balm and backbite, without strings. A chill $15 white, simple, crushable.  Drink 2016-2017  

sebastien-dampt

Sébastien Dampt

Sébastien Dampt Petit Chablis ‘Terrois de Milly’ 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $27.56, WineAlign)

Sébastien Dampt’s is in fact comunicado to the Milly terroir, a Petit Chablis of a singular matter that clearly speaks of its home connection. Comparisons escape me what with such physically held by force, dire straits, desperate compression of tang, mineral and variegation, virtually unheard of for the genre. From plots between four and five hectares in breadth, T de M holds the kind of citrus that is like a slice of dense cake yet somehow airy and filled with delight. “Communication, Communiqué, Communiqué.” A huge success for the vintage. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted at the domain with Sébastien Dampt, July 2016  @SebastienDampt  @LesVieuxGarcons

Domaine Jean Dauvissat Père Et Fils Petit Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

From a single portlandian (0.16 hectare) plot of Petit Chablis at Milly, on the plateau of the Chappelle Vaupelteigne. Chablis of the sort of portandia to enhearten and portend extreme unction, brighten and embolden as flinty as any calcaire can. In a five PC flight strike me down if he isn’t the most intense and straight up citrus example. Young Chablis of la concentration extraordinaire. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @JeanDauvissat

William Fèvre Petit Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Fèvre’s Petit Chablis is fashioned from very old grower’s contracts, established once upon a time by William, still concurrent and contiguous into the present tense accumulation of 200,000 bottles. Classic PC, fresh, elegant, inwardly tart and specifically mineral. Be still its crunchy texture with a soft organza underlay in the guise of a bed of herbs. The farmer’s commitments have been kept specificaly for this purpose, to build the bridge and create a gateway to Chablis. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016 @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Alain Geoffroy Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (470393, $19.95,  WineAlign)

Somewhat rich and unexpectedly expressive for Petit Chablis with a juniper and tonic note at the finish. Getable as per the vintage and no surprise at that while at the same time offering up quite a bit of texture and richness for the category. Nettles at the end are hard to forget. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted January 2017  

Domaine Hamelin Petit Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Hamelin’s Petit Chablis hails from the clay soil plateau on the domain’s situation at Lignorelles, co-mingling in soil with distinct out-country lying kimmeridgian. Hamelin’s is quite a fuller expression with more mineral and that green glade sort of brightness. It climbs into a lime and metal feel though there is not as much acidity or at least a very different kind than some others in a large flight. Very representative of the modern oeuvre. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016    @oenophilia1

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Benjamin Laroche L’Atelier Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

At the age of 40 Benjamin Laroche decided to got it alone. The native of Chablis and his family have farmed vineyards here since 1663 and Laroche now produces solely as a négoce, working with eight growers. 2013 for Petit Chablis and Chablis and 2012 for Premier Cru and Grand Cru were his first vintages. L’Atelier Petit Chablis is drawn from near the village of Beine, a place “tres solaire.” His rendition of the portal opening chardonnay is an aperitif of a Petit Chablis, crisp but rich and broad, able to serve one and all. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

La Manufacture Petit Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

La Manufacture’s Petit Chablis is an entirely separate entity from L’atelier, as the two lines each only come from one estate. There is no blending. Here the vintage speaks in the way 2015 is simply unable to, with a salinity in and out of mineral, with and without weight and strings. Very precise, straight to the point and for Petit Chablis, quite laser dramatic. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

Domaine Louis Moreau Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11035479, $22.95, WineAlign)

You can put your money down on a Moreau Petit Chablis, never taken for granted and from some of the best PC-designate spots around Chablis. Moreau’s vineyards are located in the village of Beine on the Left Bank. The fruit and acidity from fresh, juicy and rich 2015 are nicely delineated, all moving parts forwardly aromatic led with white flower essence and the texture is free and easy on the palate. Very clean and pure Petite Chablis from the most consumer-friendly vintage. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted at the domaine with Frédérique Chamoy, July 2016  @MoreauLouis1

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Chablis as it was, should be and where it will go. Lucie Thieblemont and Charly Nicolle #vigneron & #negociant #fleys #chablis Attention @nicholaspearcewines just sayin’

Domaine Charly Nicolle Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Charly Nicolle from Fleys is the sister property to the Nicolle-Laroche family’s Domaine de la Mandelière. In a good year Charly produces 75,000 bottles per year. His ’15 Petit Chablis is crisp and bound of full compages, tightly wound and textured. There is certainly some lees felt swimming in the vintage-generated saporous acidity. A ripe example of sun expressive Petit Chablis. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine De Pisse Loup Petit Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

From the area of Beine comes this clean, fresh and lemon striking Petit Chablis. So very lemon specific within a broader citrus spectrum but no flint. Its freshness is of white flowers in the hawthorne to acacia field, a saline note of iodine and plenty of round acidity. So very lemon squeezed. Less multi-dimensional on account of that specific replay. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted July 2016

Patrick Piuze

Patrick Piuze

Patrick Piuze Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11463182, $26.40, WineAlign)

From the “restaurant vintage,” like 2009 notes Patrick Piuze and a Petit Chablis more specific and focused than most, if perhaps all. A single-vineyard, lieu-dit PC, “Le Petit Preuses,” right banked and rubbing shoulders with the Grand Cru. Always on the plateau of Portlandia soil. Fine spark of Petit Chablis, like a lime cordial spiked by salinity and welling in concentration. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

L & C Poitout Petit Chablis Sycomore 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

La Cuvée Sycomore comes from “Sur les Clos,” a warm and windy 1.4 hectare plot on a well exposed plateau of pebble infested, lean and infertile soil. The 2014 challenges the most typical of vintages with pure driven citrus and acidity through the roof. A direct, defined, determined expression of chardonnay.  Drink 2016-2018  

le-bourgogne

Eric Gallet’s Le Bourgogne, Auxerre

Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Four hundred and twenty five years later the family produces their 2015 Petite Chablis, as with the rest of the region, as an archway into the domain and for all else to follow. It isn’t the most riveting vintage but this is made in the pure, elegant style that carries easy alcohol and essential extract in the vein of any or all mineral-driven whites. A worldwide list that includes chenin blanc, assyrtiko and trebbiano, among others. Here the fat of ’15 is staved off, with freshness and Portlandian salinity, like a syrup mixed into clay that dissolves and resolves.  Drink 2016-2018. Tasted July 2016  @BordetJean  @TheCaseForWine

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

From trenchant vines on Portlandian soil, Tremblay’s is really rich and textured Petit Chablis reading a parable of aromatic mineral density. The providence of the salinity means that it aspires and then resides in a rare card-carrying category of weight and structure. Way more structure for PC than most others. Chablis here directs the idea of the commercial vintage, again, rich, broad and even a bit spicy. At the end of the day it will always correctly offer up broad appeal. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted at the domain with Vincent Tremblay, July 2016  

chablis

Chablis

Domaine Barat Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

The first Chablis of hundreds tasted in the first week of July with a perfume of acacia flowers and the honey they might invade, the generosity and gregariousness in Barat’s Chablis is really something other. Extreme ripeness from the commercially viable vintage sits with quite the spice on the phenolic ripe end of the wide-ranging spectrum. Chablis at the meridian of texture and jolie. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Beaufumé Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

From the area of Lignorelles, Beaufumé’s Chablis is creamier on the nose than many counterparts and then thins with direct tart, ripe and ripping acidity. Wow acidity, tight and bracing. Though the spectrum of orchard, stone and even tropical white and yellow fleshed fruits are hinted at they collectively succumb to the nicely smoked stick, flint, kernel and nut. A broader if at times confusing expression of Chablis that is more than fun to taste. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Albert Bichot Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (391805, $19.95, WineAlign)

Tasted with winemaker Matthieu Mangenot at the Long-Depaquit domain, this is Chablis raised 100 per cent in stainless steel. Gifts the immediacy of mineral and acidity, from Chichée to the south of Chablis and also the eastern areas of Beru and Viviers. Higher altitudes where snow and then frost at the end of April 2016 will mean a tiny harvest but for 2015 the acidity is top-notch, despite the fat and easy vintage, with more mineral driven into the palate (with some perceived though feigning sweetness) and a real gelid glide down the backside. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @Matth_Mangenot  @Bichotwine  @DionysusWines  

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Nicely crisp Chablis for the vintage, a bit lean and direct but with ripe acidity and balance struck. Straight to the Chablis point, with more lime than lemon and a minor bitter middle, ending with easy leaning angles. Commendable from dependable for 2015. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  @Billaud_Simon

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Abbaye de Sainte Claire #prehy @chablisbrocard

Jean Marc Brocard Domaine Sainte Claire Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (356634, $23.95, WineAlign)

The nearing on 1000 year-old abbey of Saint Claire rests a stone’s throw from Brocard’s front doors and blends into the vast plane of the landscape with a whisper. The Chablis in its (or his) honour also rests, but in large foudres, lending a rich edging to fruit from a knowingly fat year, but the welcome salinity is the balancer. Really high salty-mineral content perpetuates the importance of this cuveé from vintage to vintage, from organic vineyards, in the typical Brocard style, fleshy and generous. Drink 2016-2018. Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

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Jean Marc Brocard Domaine Sainte Claire Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (356634, $23.95, WineAlign)

In a year for acidity and total, utter freshness the Saint Claire rushes and wells with excitement. Beautifully green apple tart and crunchy. The saline temperature is measured in an ooze running through and with the lees. Cracker vintage keeps the deep salinity intense, vital, searing and so naked to the world. Pure Chablis with length that stretches away from richness and into a lean lingering. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted twice, July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Jean Marc Brocard 7eme Nature Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Due to its ulterior and antithetical Chablis nature it just seems right to refer to this non-sulphured wine as chardonnay. From Julien Brocard’s recently formulated biodynamic range it is full of poise as are all of his biodynamic wines that seem to have found such confidence in their distinct natural niche. This is raised in ovoid Austrian foudres and what gains is a density of supple, sour tang, noted mostly in texture. The hyperbole is of saline meets brine for Chablis. There is certainly a Fino, green olive liqueur sensation about it, which is just dry and admittedly, quite beautiful. As a result this oxidative take on Chablis should age for an extra year or two. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Jean Marc Brocard Domaine De La Boissonneuse Chablis 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

This is from what Julien Brocard considers an atypical vintage, ripe, but “not a Chablis style year and so you must take what the vintage gives.” Brocard does feel the biodynamic approach has presented a more balanced year for the vineyard and I note a certainly affinity with the 13’s tasted with Patrick Piuze, from which aromatics airy and atmospheric in their confused moments recall riesling and here, chenin blanc. Quite a tropical, atypical Chablis nose, with mango and apricot, but also a deep soil tang. The most mineral-tropical fruit dichotomy of all, from 2013, unique and deferential to the last decade plus of Chablis. Drink 2016-2018. Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

La Chablisienne

La Chablisienne

La Chablisienne Chablis La Pierrelee 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (BCLDB 359844, $27.99, WineAlign)

La Pierrelee is one of three Chablisienne Chablis cuveés, subjected to 14 months élevage and carries more than a strong sense of perceived leesy sweetness in surround of a good mineral core. It may be the house’s fullest, roundest and most well-rounded expression. The fruit is gathered from all over Chablis, off of 20 communes and so is a true assemblage. The length is preeminently good. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted at the domaine with Vincent Bartement, July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

La Chablisienne Chablis La Sereine 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 565598, $22.80, WineAlign)

La Sereine is a cuvée that follows the river, finds a river, mimics the ebb and flow of the river. A cuvée “of river poet search naïveté,” as important as Les Vénérables and the one that sparks a twinkle in Vincent Bartement’s eye. Same élevage as Vénérables and Pierrelee so the aromatic sweetness repeats albeit with leaner structure. Here more classically Chablis mineral, a direct deposit tip of liquid platinum calcaire into the glass. La Sereine snaps crisp with some bite and of savoury piquancy as well. It’s the lean and mean, rapid eye movement fighting machine of local and exotic perfume, “of ginger, lemon, indigo, coriander stem and rows of hay.” In La Sereine we find a river, constant, in which “strength and courage overrides.” Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted at the domain with Vincent Bartement, July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

La Chablisienne Chablis Dame Nature 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Dame Nature is drawn off organic vineyards, mostly from southerly Courgis with some fruit near Fleys. Same faux sugary aromatic vein, lees affected and yet here, so flirtatious, pretty, feminine. Soft, downy, French cream Chablis. A bit of a Brie fromage note but then lemon piercing on the palate. The palate is all Chablis mineral tart and direct. Interesting mix of style in the Dame Nature, “like I wouldn’t know it’s you. At your most beautiful. Chablis of “a way to make you smile.” Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted at the domain with Vincent Bartement, July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

Sébastien Dampt Chablis Villages 2015, Burgundy, France (Agent, $29.85, WineAlign)

Dampt’s Chablis Villages is consistently formulated as the same blend, but this is a second bottling post 12 leesy months. Young vines 10 years of age planted by Sébastien are encouraged and mentored by some old vines (40-45 years) blended in. All the fruit hails from the commune of Milly. Here again, rich and with some wood influence, in the vein of other like-minded progressive Chablis producers (Charly Nicolle comes to mind), but still very Chablis, expressive without bâtonnage. Still the acidity and minerality but the dry extract leads to unction. This is the young, new generation changing Chablis without forgetting where it comes from. With thanks to a golden terroir. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted at the domain with Sébastien Dampt, July 2016  @SebastienDampt  @LesVieuxGarcons

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

The Collet Chablis is a 15 hectare blend from Villy (coming from Romain Collet’s mother’s side of the family) located between Vaillons and Montmains, plus fruit from near Courgis and Préhy. Classically 100 per cent stainless steel styled for sharp, pointed, piquant and straight ahead Chablis. A purchase at 10 euros right off the shelves at the winery shop in Chablis is a perfect bit of thievery. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  

Agnès Et Didier Dauvissat Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

It was 30 years ago that Agnès et Didier Dauvissat planted their vines in Beine and today they make but three cuvées; this Petit Chablis, Chablis and Premier Cru Beauroy. This telescoped sense of purpose has obviously served the two well. Here in the cracker 2014 vintage they have arguably produced one of the finest (basic) Chablis. The concentrated lemon preserve, firm structure and rapt calcaire tart collation is eye-popping and mind-opening. Prescient from exceptional length, agreeably and markedly purposed. Top, top Chablis. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @DauvissatBeine

William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (46164, $23.95, WineAlign)

The Champs Royaux is Chablis drawn from a selection of Fèvre’s better grower contracts and five to 10 per cent is aged in old oak, the rest in stainless steel. It is a generalized but oh too important expression from kimmeridgian soil, hedged and qualified from all over Chablis. Takes all the hills, valleys, les clos and slope/aspect dimensions into account. It is textbook Chablis, a guarantee of quality, especially out of the cracker 2014 vintage. The fruit is ripe and the acidity a study in Chablis exactitude. The balance may be the best this cuvée has ever shown. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

William Fèvre Chablis Estate 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11094701, $29.60, WineAlign)

The Domaine (estate) Chablis are vineyards located next to the Premier and Grand Cru, organically-farmed since 2006 (though not certified) and hand-harvested. Some vines date back 50-60 years and perhaps it is this wisdom and tree-rings concentration that gives this Chablis its hidden quality, dormant gem of mineral, quietness, stoicism, and reserve. Seemingly lean but ready to burst. An elegance that is a step up from the Champs Royaux though not as fully blanketed in obvious expression as the Premier Cru. And yet the bridge is built, ready to cross over, from one bank to another. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Domaine Céline & Frédéric Gueguen Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Domaine Céline & Frédéric Gueguen is located in Prehy between les Vallées des Joeges et Plantes. The terroir is one of the furthest south in Chablis (and not far from Jean-Marc Brocard). This bottle is the first to be marked by some dusty and musty notes with little citrus on the nose. Acts as the leanest, most direct expression thus far. Really lean though with acidity not as pronounced. Seems to come off of an austere, aggressive terroir. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted July 2016  @ChablisGueguen

Louis Jadot Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (468751, $28.95, WineAlign)

Straight ahead and 2014 focused Chablis from Jadot, tight and stony at first but then shimmies up to reveal richer fruit than some and equanimity in acidity-mineral undertones. A wide and all-encompassing no doubter of a wine that succeeds no matter the breadth of its fruit sourcing. Classy all the way. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted September 2016  @ljadot  @HalpernWine

laroche-pressoir

Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (289124, $23.20, WineAlign)

The vintage is a ripe, accessible and easy to love one so this marks a 90 degree turn for the Saint Martin. This is Laroche’s most important cuvée, sold in 80 countries and collected from select plots across 60 hectares of vines. Structure will always direct this cuvée and so long as Gregory Viennois is winemaker you can be sure that a taut entry will be joined by some subtle oak richness (in 2015, eight per cent in large, 25 year-old, 55 hL foudres). It’s just an aromatic hint but look forward with eyes closed and inculcate the texture addendum. Acids are soft and caressing. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros  @Select_Wines

Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (289124, $23.20, WineAlign)

An all plots combed, 60 hectare extrapolative, best choices made cuvée in ode to the generous and convivial Roman officer and the monks who took his name and brought his relics to Chablis. Structure is at the heart and soul of the Saint Martin so it is a bit of hard to get at but highly recommended for slow, meditative assessment. Great compressed tart, all in terroir, soil and climate multi-interfaced chardonnay. Few ‘Chablis’ not specific of Premier or Grand Cru terroir can match its poise and precision. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros  @Select_Wines

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Lunch with Benjamin and Stephanie Laroche at La Manufacture

Benjamin Laroche L’atelier Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

More than the Petit Chablis, as it should, the Chablis improves on fruit, ideal and expression, but also because of the cleaving and jaunty vintage. In ’14 Chablis is really precise, of an expansive mouthfeel, a lemon concern, condensed sweet bitters and all in all, really textural. Flat out delicious and full. So full, but ready to delight and divine for two more years. Drink 2016-2019.   Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

La Manufacture Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $29.99, WineAlign)

La Manufacture takes Chablis to a brazen level in and out of 2014 and whatever precision was shown by L’Atelier is elevated in focus with La Manufacture. The vernacular learned and utterances expressed are from precision in choice of fruit and how the vintage is left to speak with this poignant, direct attack. I actually find this a bit closed in its extended youth, perhaps a cause of nature over nurture from its combination, or accumulation of fruit. The locations of Beine, Maligny and Lignorelles are its sources. This ’14 will really shine in 2017, a high-water mark up to a wave’s peak at the point where ancient sea fossils and geological rock progression distill into settled salinity, melded into the piquant and the trenchant. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

J. Moreau & Fils Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (466144, $21.95, WineAlign)

Typically flinty and stony Chablis from Moreau of Portlandian influence and typically easy to get to know, as per the forward vintage. All good berries and the ease of ripening is here on display. Chablis never had it so good, easy and lazy. Drink up. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted August 2016

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Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (124305, $25.95, WineAlign)

The vineyards for Moreau’s Chablis gathering are located in the village of Beine on the Left Bank and interestingly enough are older than the Premier Cru. So here the fruit is pulled from vines 35-40 years of age. As much mineral layering as you are likely to find in a Chablis-designate cuvée and so well-rounded for 2015, with grace and style. The broadest of Chablis definition, reliable to tell the whole truth, for the copacetic vintage, the hills all around and the classic flinty, borne straight out of stone chardonnay. Some citrus of course and fine acidity if not the most striking of better than good Chablis vintages. Good terroir breeds good Chablis and with a touch of flint this brings it all together. Perfect, textbook, dictionary Chablis in a ripe and forthright style. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted twice, July and September 2016  @MoreauLouis1

Domaine Louis Moreau Domaine De Biéville Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (106161, $21.95, WineAlign)

On the far opposite side of Chablis’ right bank, at the village of Viviers where it is a colder, morning sun terroir. An estate created by Louis’ father in 1965. A cooler and slightly herbal Chablis with a leaner profile. A good comparative to the Beine Chablis, where the shadows are not as long and the terroir does not make as many demands on your palate. Last tasted July 2016.

A flint foot forward and step back balm of a Chablis with a settled raft of lees knick-knack and some willy-nilly resonance. Gains stature with citrus and spice as it fleshes in glass and mouth. Perhaps a stave or two of wood is making the play. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted January 2016  @MoreauLouis1

Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis Ancestrum 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Ancestral pays hommage to a long legacy of Chablis in the Laroche-Nicolle families, to ancient earth folds, the shells and fossils left behind by oceans. Takes up where Petit Chablis left off in the giving vintage to press on with roundness and richesse. Optimum phenolic fruit and 500L barrels deem “a combination of Charly’s will and mother nature’s season” into this ripe Chablis. In 2015, with fully realized malo this morphs into a happier, slightly magical dichotomy. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis Ancestrum 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Ancestrum is an old vines (approximately 55 years) Chablis cuveé and here from a vintage driven by crisp, pure and clean acidity. An extraordinary level of dry extract conspires to elevate both the luxury and the perceived sweetness but every sip returns into territories occupied by that ’14 acidity. Ancestrum is Chablis specific to Charly Nicolle, to ploughing, tilling, hoeing, pruning and harvesting his golden grapes. It is a pure reminder of how basic and pleasurable Chablis can be. Drink 2017-2020. Tasted July 2016  

Patrick Piuze Chablis Terroir De Chichée 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Terroir De Chichée is tasted first in a line-up of seven lieu-dit produced by Patrick Piuze, a Right Bank limestone plateau Chablis that “always takes the wind of the vintage.” The smoothest of entries transitions seamlessly to Chablis in which acidity runs up, down, across and in diagonal streaks across the palate. Done up in natural yeasts, like all the Piuze wines because “there’s no (other) point. It’s on the grape.” Clean, dry, clear and concise. Straight to the Chichée point. Acidity, even in the context of Chablis, must be your thing for Chichée to be your friend. I’d recommend seeking out Burgundian cuisine in the hands of a Japanese chef. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis Terroir Découverte 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $34.95, WineAlign)

This second in Puize’s series of seven lieu-dits tastes at first draws more linear and then branches its lines for a broader approach to Chablis. From the cooler “des Couverts” parcel abutting the Vaulorent Premier Cru on the north-facing section of the Grand Cru hill, it is from here in a northerly locale beyond the borders of Grand Cru climats Preuses and Bougros where flint, richness and ancient shells intercede. If only because this was made in 2015, the near-Vaulorent cumulative effect is almost too easy to access. Bloody delicious and drink now Chablis. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis Terroir de Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11180334, $33.25, WineAlign)

In the pantheon of the seven lieu-dits Piuze Chablis this is likely the great terroir despite its moniker that suggests a broader, cumulative expression. Terroirs is plucked and indeed speaks a Forêts language, its fruit native to the north facing hill occupied by the steely patron of the larger Left Bank Montmains Premier Cru. The reserve and quietude of Patrick’s ’15 is quite surprising but the circumvention of palate acidity is exhilarating and nearly frightening. Lemon meets much lime, texture wraps and ramps, precision leads to density. Striking but with the knowledge that ’14 was and will be more so. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

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Patrick Piuze Chablis Terroir de Chablis 2008, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11180334, $33.25, WineAlign)

The twenty-fifth wine we taste and Patrick’s choice to remember 2008 is this Terroirs de Chablis, a micro-specific lieu-dit spoken of Forêts vernacular formed on the northern exposition of the Montmains Premier Cru hill. Piuze loves this vintage, noting that “any appellation passes (the ’08 test).” The freshness here astounds. Were this served blind I would certainly guess 2014. Lime is everywhere, limestone everywhere else. Acidity rings in and out of every crevice and pore. If this T de C does not look back and show what Patrick Piuze will be capable of in Chablis then you won’t find a wine that will. And you won’t need to. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted at the domain with Patrick Piuze, July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis Courgis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Courgis was touched by some hail in 2015 on the first of September, a day Patrick Piuze says “I will always remember.” That was the day Piuze had to gather up seven years of go it alone fortitude to make the best of a difficult situation. He had to make a wine with some reduction, more upfront acidity and a different sort of citrus. Resist the temptation to make what he wanted and listen instead to the weather and the vintage. There is major fruit in this Courgis, a Chablis “wherever he laid his hat was his home.” Sly, in the lieu-dit family, Courgis “was a rollin’ stone.” Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis Terroir De Fyé 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Fyé comes fourth in a horizontal set of seven lieu-dits, a terroir across the tractor road from the “cape” Chapelot at the base of the fan-like shaped Montée de Tonnerre climat. The herbology and savour in Fyé is almost certainly magnified because of ’15 but so is the texture. The mouthfeel is fuller and wonderfully critical to balance and redemption. Drink 2017-2020. Tasted at the domain with Patrick Piuze, July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis La Grand Vallée 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

La Grand Vallée is the Piuze rendering of the lieu-dit Les Pargues, a Left Bank single-vineyard flanked by the Premier crus Butteaux and Forêts. The exposure is the same just one hill over. Affinities are shared with Terroirs de Chablis though the lemon-lime, layering and persistence run deeper. This also steps up in length, with really old barrels stretching the fruit to an elastic density in a smoky Chablis forged from precision. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis La Grand Vallée 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Tasted side-by-side with La Grand Vallée 2015, the Piuze ’14 from the lieu-dit Les Pargues “shows off the good acidity of the vintage.” With Premier crus Butteaux and Forêts acting as bookends, the Pargues enjoys a one-off hill same exposure and the citrus intensity here is palpable. It’s that lemon-lime, Terroirs de Chablis thing run deeper and in ’14, to the depths of possibility. This plays multi-fret grapefruit notes without capo, bends and holds them forever. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

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Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (289371, $23.95, WineAlign)

As if handed off like a relay torch or baton from the Petit Chablis, the thread of elegance, purity and clarity continues in the Séguinot Bordet Chablis. Freshness floats in Chablis suspension, a liquid not so much viscous but one that acts as a cradling or a coddling. There is spice up on the aromatic front and it heads straight north to tease and tingle the olfactory senses. Deeper down it’s all inter-metallic compounds and alloys, a dimension that exists in a realm beyond chardonnay. Chablis. A circumambient capacity resistant to wood or nut but steals subtle aspects of both. Tasted with proprietor Jean-François Bordet in Auxerre he concludes, “my story is in memory.” Chablis by wrote. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted July and September 2016  @BordetJean  @TheCaseForWine

Domaine Testut Chablis Rive-Droit 2015, Ac Burgundy (Winery, WineAlign)

Rive Droite is pulled off of a southern slope exposure on the right bank facing from Montée de Tonnerre and the Grand Cru Blanchots. It is a fine and delicate Chablis, golden from ripeness and typically 2015 but certainly very mineral because it can’t help but be on this side of the Chablis tracks. Wisdom and what comes natural from yields at 50 hL/L off 45 year-old vines seek and find a balance struck between minerality and maturity, but this is certainly on the ripe side. “It’s not complicated,” notes Cyril Testut. He picks on berry and seed. “You must have phenolic ripeness or the grapes will immediately begin to start oxidizing after picking. If they are ripe they will not seek it out. ” May as well be Premier Cru but it needs not be. Very good length. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Testut Chablis Rive-Droit 2014, Ac Burgundy (Winery, WineAlign)

Right Bank Rive Droite faces south on its poignant slope en face de Montée de Tonnerre and Blanchot Grand Cru. As good as ’15 is, in ’14 there flexes and strains much more vitality and with fruit not as obviously ripe. While the lack of self-regulation might cause some suffering (at least in a commercially appealing sense) it causes no compromise to balance (at least in terms of classic Chablis personality). The complexity of place really rises because the fruit is not ahead and even lagging just behind the acidity and the intense mineral. Rive Droit is right side of town top cru, white stone blessed all the way. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Cuvée Hélène, Grand Vin De Bourgogne 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

Labeled Grand Vin De Bourgogne to elevate its Chablis status from a (2000 bottle) cuvée (named for Gérard’s wife Hélène) that draws one third of its fruit from 10 Premier Cru hectares. Aged in 100 per cent barriques blended with a small portion from stainless steel. This is not so typical of Tremblay or Chablis, from primarily 40-plus year-old vines, of a luxuriance that separates it from the Premier Cru. The palate and texture are flooded by a serious creaminess from oak but the lemon is so intense and the acidity runs extremely wild. Chablis at its lavish best, in bed with Beaune. Drink 2017-2021. Tasted at the domain with Vincent Tremblay, July 2016  

Domaine Le Verger Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (181289, $19.75, WineAlign)

From Beine, here a more reserved, classic, stoic, orchard fruit-led Chablis. Exceeds itself and its emollient aromatics on the palate with good fleshy spirit and then steps into grounded, almost earthy territory for Chablis. More clay than calcaire and not fully accepting of the vintage. Will please most in the short term. Drink 2016-2017. Tasted July 2016

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Chablis Vieilles Vignes 

Jean Marc Brocard Domine Sainte Claire Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11589658, $29.95, WineAlign)

The abbey and the saint’s namesake vineyard’s vines are approximately 60 years-old and reduced output is in the vicinity of 30-35 hL/L yields. As always and nurtured with expectation you immediately whiff the old vine charm, lift, ethereal density and a pesto, this kind of herbal salinity that old vines bring. A brine that younger vines do not, with roots here burrowing six plus feet down into the kimmeridgian, far past the flora up top, seeking secondary and tertiary character. It takes little mindful and acquiescent effort to concur on the notification that double the length is perceived as compared to the younger Sainte Claire. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

La Chablisienne Chablis Les Vénérables Vieilles Vignes 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (215525, $24.95, WineAlign)

Les Vénérables is the old vines cuvée that sees the same 14 months élevage as the other two, La Pierrelee and La Sereine. The lees effect continues but with Vénérables the running thread of aromatic sweetness is at first accessed and then subjugated to heavy layering, structure, compression and richness. Very citrus, first curd and then zest, coupled upon and adding on top of itself and nearly piercing. Pith joins on the palate. Classic Chablis. Crunchy and tart, like a bite into an acidulated green apple. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted at the domaine with Vincent Bartement, July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

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Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Planted in 1932 near Villy by Romain Collet’s maternal grandfather, these (nearing 75 year-old) vines bring the baller brilliance to Chablis, not in compression or density but for Collet, just the opposite. They gift ethereally, from 40 hL/L yields, a number pretty solid for such old vines. This 2014 impresses understanding about a vineyard with real mirondage, holding up a mirror to the past and paying it forward. Small grapes of vivid concentration breathe acidity, at first and then finesse. Precise Chablis is a great thing, especially when that inclination lingers for a very long time. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted at the domain with Romain Collet, July 2016  

Domaine Hamelin Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

The Lignorelles old vines on Portlandia limestone are at least 70 years-old, obviously the philanthropist of rich Chablis though here with sidetracks through verdant greens and herbal fields in balmy weather. This in 2014 and surprisingly approachable. Ripeness, sapidity and savour converge. The flavours zig-zag from lime to green apple and more bitters than many are seen in bright light aspects that remind of in country kin aligoté and auxerrois. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted July 2016    @oenophilia1

La Manufacture Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Once again it is the elegance that old vines bring to Chablis that is so counterintuitive to what they do almost anywhere else in the world. In La Manufacture’s case the reflexive fineness and haute innervation that is derived from these old vines is both calming and tangible. The consciousness is latent to a slope upon which the drive of direct acidity and salinity cling, angling in the particular way of the exceptional 2014 vintage. Laroche’s Chablis VV makes peace with tension, finds harmony before the sister Chablis and yet will live a longer life. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

Domaine de La Motte Chablis Cuvée Vieilles Vignes 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (334490, $19.95, WineAlign)

Located in Beine, Domaine de la Motte from the Famille Michaud fashions Chablis of nerve, tension and high on the floral scale. The old vines are 40-plus in age, doling out the proverbial excess of concentration and here with malolactic fully noticed from the start, for the first time in principal Chablis. Though almost certainly (and entirely) Inox barrel fermented, the malo is rendered in buttered popcorn and lemon. Still too young for the components to come together so put it in the three to five year conversation. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @gmlechablis

Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

What is it that old vines bring to Chablis? Elegance, temperament or calm? All of the above. Jean-François Bordet’s grandfather planted these vines, 78 years ago. He’s 93 and drinks Chablis every day. So wisdom seems to be the key, that and a cordial-conjugal relationship between this every day wine and a consumer. The purity is predicated on lime and predicts many a cordial connection. This delicate Vieilles Vignes is also practical for every special occasion and it is possessive of surprising strength. It’s what you need, if necessary, every day. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @BordetJean  @TheCaseForWine

Domaine Testut Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2015, Ac Burgundy (Winery, WineAlign)

The vines are 50 years-old and from the same (right) bank as the (Rive Droit) so here the stylistic is replicated albeit with a deeper sense of the locale, but so much furtherer elegance and balance. The lees melding into texture replicates upon itself, recreating a cloning that interweaves minerality upon fruit in mille-feuille layers. Very mature, grown-up winemaking. Concentrated and clean. Still, very ’15. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

The wines of the Tremblay family exemplify the vignoble de Chablis and with this old vines you can’t help but repeat the house mantra, “c’est ce qui donne cette…arrière goût minéral qui semble avoir été extrait des entrailles de la terre!” Extracted from the kimmeridgian, from Exogyra virgula, from 25 million years of formed marno-calcaire. “Goût minéral,” the taste of mineral, from the bowels of the earth. It matters not that this Chablis is from the forward, fruit first, commercial vintage. With a selection made from Tremblay’s 40-plus year-old vineyards the high density of dry extraction from fruit does indeed lead to more weight and body. Mineral yes, but you will all like it too. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted at the domain with Vincent Tremblay, July 2016  

Good to go!

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Paradox in Chablis

Mysteries of #climat soil and orientation in #chablis and les #grandcru before the wood

Mysteries of #climat soil and orientation in #chablis and les #grandcru before the wood

There is little about Chablis that is not drawn up in contrasts. It begins with Left Bank versus Right Bank, the Serein River and the village of Chablis acting as the interface between. Petit Chablis giving way to the more important Chablis and then Premier Cru the varied and always impressive interloper separating the villages wines from the Grand Cru. Chablis as a varietal concept, as opposed to and unlike anywhere else in the world, seemingly unrelated to chardonnay.

Related – Looking for Chablis in Ontario?

Antithetical wrangling does not end there. The sequential order of a substantial Chablis tasting is a going concern. The winemaker’s eyes will roll with Bachelderism consternation and concentration into the recesses of his or her head before deciding which Premier Cru should be assessed before the next. The geological contexts of Kimmeridgian and Portlandian soils have to be taken into account, as do slope and exposition of the particular cru. The permutations are endless for a place with one grape variety and four kinds of white wine.

Thon, cocombre, crème d'anchois at the Hôtel du Vieux Moulin in Chablis

Thon, cocombre and crème d’anchois at Au Fil du Zinc in the Hôtel du Vieux Moulin in Chablis

Even the tenets of modern cuisine in Chablis and Auxerre are riddled with mysteries and a clash of cultures. Both Restaurant L’aspérule in Auxerre and Au Fil du Zinc in the Hôtel du Vieux Moulin in Chablis fuse Japanese cuisine with Burgundian gastronomy. As if the average inhabitant did not already enjoy a health advantage over the rest of the world’s population, such a paradigm shift only improves the probability of extolling the virtues of the French paradox.

The contraposition of Chablis is most often discussed in terms of fermentation. Oak or stainless steel? Chablis is repeatedly referenced as steely, invariably flinty and almost without fail in bone of contention annoyance as mineral cliché. The younger Petit Chablis and Chablis fermentations will never see the inside of a barrel (well, maybe a really, really old one) and wood is only employed as they move into Premier Cru, Grand Cru and increasingly, climats of highly regarded lieu-dits. The percentage of barrel ferments these days rarely exceed 25-35 per cent though in some cases 50 per cent is seen. In Chablis the words “new” and “oak” are never uttered together, or aloud.

Related – Chablis from Dauvissat to Vocoret

The greatest paradox of all is written in stone along a few ridges and across the most important set of hills above the river. Deep-rooted, inveterate purlieu of geology in eight names; Les Preuses, Bougros, Vaudésir, Grenouille, Valmur, Les Clos, Blanchot and unofficially (depending on political affiliations), La Moutonne. Les Grand Crus of Chablis are singled out not only for their exceptional terroir and climat but also for the impossibility of what happens when fruit is pulled from their chardonnay vines. The Grand Cru are oracles in complex riddles, transcendent mysteries and the most enigmatic of all Chablis. I suppose it’s because the rich fruit versus exigent stone is the epitome of Chablis paradox. You will read this later on in a tasting note, but it begs repeating.

Domaine Billaud-Simon

I sit down to taste with winemaker Olivier Bailly and he apologizes that he will be pouring from half-bottles. I tell Olivier there is nothing for which to apologize. I wish more producers would pour from half-bottles. Their young wines show better, breath quicker and after they have emptied half of a half into my glass, one more tasting from that bottle and voilà, the bottle is finished. As we begin, Olivier shares a deep, innermost thought. “I have a secret. Inox barrels.” The Chablis paradox. Not only the paradox, but the enigma and the Catch-22. When you taste with 20 producers in just under a week you often see a pattern forming, of reasons how the Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru are considered and in what order. Bailly’s method of linear madness is not revealed until the tasting is completed. Only then is a second paradox considered.

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Between a rock and @Billaud_Simon #kimmeridgian #chablis #chablispremiercru #chablisgrandcru #fourchaume #montdemilieu #montedetonnerre #vaillons #vaudesir #lesclos #lespreuses #lesblanchots

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Taken specifically from a block in the Vaupulent lieu-dit at the southern end of the larger Fourchaume. The style is rich but with mineral in the air, ethereal and intoxicating. Fourchaume does not always get to such precise and hovering heights. This is typically 2014 and elevated by citrus with extreme prejudicial clarity. Right in the linear wheelhouse. Long floral, waxy citrus finish. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted July 2016  @Billaud_Simon

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (330175, $39.95, WineAlign)

Composed from several lieu-dit in the Cru; Les Minots, Roncieres and two parcels each of high solar-powered Chatains and Sécher. A rounder, softer, fuller expression by sun and out of the open-mindedness provided by exposure. Here the house accentuation from stainless steel helps to preserve freshness and keep it at the maximum. A committal success in 2014 for a vintage that demands acidity and freshness, here buoyed by decisions and understanding. Exemplary Vaillons of lemon with a shot of lime injection. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (373548, $44.95, WineAlign)

Billaud-Simon’s vines are up the hill in front of the forest, with four plots that work their way south and west and of parcels 40-70 years of age. This has such air and pomp in its deep breaths with the most maleficent acidity and tension in its grip. As stirring a Mont de Milieu as you will find built on 40 hL/H yields of solid citrus meets yellow apple fruit. Terrific attraction and length. Superb. Classic unoaked Chablis. Can envision it unchanging for seven years followed by a slow walk into and through the preserved citrus museum. With fruit this clean it will petrify before it spoils. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Montée De Tonnerre 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (325241, $52.00, WineAlign)

Tasted at the domaine, from three parcels, Montée de Tonnerre, Pied d’aloup and Côte de Chapelot, climats up on the hill on the right bank close to the town of Chablis. Rounder (with 10 per cent old oak) than Mont de Milieu but still of terrific 2014 acidity, though noticeable with more orchard fruit to mingle with the stones. The tension increases with some time spent with the M de T and like well-structured Premier Cru Chablis will want to do, it lingers with a combination of tension and amenability. Part gentille Alouette and part Kimmeridgian flinty, this is a terrific example of the co-habitable duality of great Chablis. It is also indicative of the transformative restoration and direction of Billaud-Simon under the auspices of winemaker Olivier Bailly. I will let this bird rest for a couple more years and then a promise. “Je te plumerai.” Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016

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Restaurant L’aspérule #foiegras

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 11482703, $77.00, WineAlign)

For some producers Vaudésir is the pinnacle of their Chablis expression and yet here it seems the entry point as it leads in a tasting of four Grand Crus. From three parcels in the amphitheatre, one right at the top by the wood and two at the mid-way point on the hill. A direct, in your sight lines Vaudésir, so very lemon-lime push-pulled and densely tart. It’s taut but not sour, tight but not cringing from the tightening of the winch. The most masculine of Vaudésir perhaps with few equals though unwavering and unquestionable in its achievement of balance. The Inox secret is discarded (or complicated, depending on your vantage point) in favour of 100 per cent (15-16 years) old oak. This is Grand Cru after all. Drink 2019-2029.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (360834, $99.00, WineAlign)

What separates Chablis from chardonnay begins with these 65 year-old vines, with healthy yields (50 hL/H) that are perfect for the vintage from this stoic and iconic Cru. Here is the essentiality of Les Preuses, “the juice of the stone,” saline, crustaceous, briny and simply, utterly trenchant. This is the vraiment Preuses impression, a fossil entrenched in the chardonnay and subsequently on the brain and the senses. A straight jacket Chablis with length up Les Preuses, back to the river and then straight back up and away into the woods. Inox barrel (sic) and old barrels used. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Here Les Clos is a magnified adaptive narrative of the Grand Cru, rich and full of ripe excess. Riper than most of the others, which is saying something. Magnetic, platinum mineral with very expressive fruit from Billaud-Simon’s take out of the grandaddy of all Chablis climats. The biggest bad boy of the flight and in the eyes of the world, textbook Grand Cru. Salinity, floral blossom airy and briny, though not quite expressive of the fossilized, ancient river trenchancy of Les Preuses. But again, Chablis at it old school, from very little shrouded or spice-driven wood, classic, cool-climate, mineral-driven Chablis. The summation confirms why it is poured after Vaudésir and Les Preuses but ahead of Blanchots. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Blanchots 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (401984, $115.00, WineAlign)

From the top right (eastern) aspect of the white stones Grand Cru, just across the valley from Montée de Tonnerre. This is a fuller, slightly richer Blanchots but still so direct, piercing and impressed stone-dominant. Great lemon zest shaved into juice and an amplitude rendering dollop of curd. The lemon-curated and curative house continues to flex its citrus style. Once again, the enigma of Inox barrel and old barrels used. Why pour this last of the four Grand Crus? I suppose it’s because the rich fruit versus exigent stone is the epitome of Chablis paradox, in retrospect and with further addendum to what seemed obvious at the time. Blanchots is the gate-keeper of Grand Cru middle ground. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted July 2016

Map of Chablis

Domaine Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Well of course the difference is felt immediately, in simpler terms, affordably easy, accountable, preferential to commercial success. Acidity is prepared with necessary balance in advance of letting fruit run wild. This is waxy and pleasantly sour. A bit chewy as well. Nicely done. Classic unbaked chardonnay in every correct way. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Nicely crisp Chablis for the vintage, a bit lean and direct but with ripe acidity and balance struck. Straight to the Chablis point, with more lime than lemon and a minor bitter middle, ending with easy leaning angles. Commendable from dependable for 2015. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016

domaine-long-depaquit

Domaine Long-Depaquit

Imagine waking up every morning to work in this dreamy place where the cup of pure chablis essence runneth over. The soft-spoken winemaker is the youthful Matthieu Mangenot, a man who seems too young to manage the storied domain without the guidance of a father, grandfather and several generations of Mangenot men behind him. But make no mistake for this is his domain and the wines are in the hands of a traditionalist with a penchant for modern musical Chablis. Matthieu’s Chablis are alternative, ambient, precise rock and roll pop songs and totemic, epic poems. They could be from the early eighties or as current as a Spotify playlist today. The paradigm shift and the paradox of Chablis in 2016 are dutifully represented in Mangenot’s work at Long-Depaquit.

mathieu-mangenot-domaine-long-depaquit

Matthieu Mangenot, Domaine Long-Depaquit

Domaine Albert Bichot Chablis 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (391805, $19.95, WineAlign)

Tasted with winemaker Matthieu Mangenot at the Long-Depaquit domain, this is Chablis raised 100 per cent in stainless steel. Gifts the immediacy of mineral and acidity, from Chichée to the south of Chablis and also the eastern areas of Beru and Viviers. Higher altitudes where snow and then frost at the end of April 2016 will mean a tiny harvest but for 2015 the acidity is top-notch, despite the fat and easy vintage, with more mineral driven into the palate (with some perceived though feigning sweetness) and a real gelid glide down the backside. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @Matth_Mangenot  @Bichotwine  @DionysusWines  

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Lys 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 10278920, $40.00, WineAlign)

An achievement in the richer style of Vaillons Premier Cru, broad and expansive, not entering the cortex with overarching acidity but rather good host invitation. A Bichot Burgundian stylistic really shows in Les Lys, not so much a wood attack but the lees and fullness is certainly felt. Acidity is late and round, encompassing and caressing. A softer 2014 and a good foil to other, sharper, more piercing brethren. Kept in 100 per cent stainless steel to preserve the acidity and the freshness. Even in 2014 this was necessary, for freshness and elegance. Certainly showing the most lifted and modern of the three Premier Cru on this day. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016

barrel-cellar-at-domaine-long-depaquit

The barrel cellar at Domaine Long-Depaquit

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (19364, $34.95, WineAlign)

Immediacy from the specific stony soil of Vaillons, unmistakable, of tang in impression and such a broad mouthfeel. The presence of Vaillons is nearly always noble, sumptuous, modish and sensual. Extract and tannin are very much a part of the program. Ten per cent of the take saw time in oak, lending an ingrained smack of spice. I would not exactly call it lavish though it is certainly a Vaillons surfeited with fruit, sun and stone. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaucopins 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 10845111, $41.25, WineAlign)

Vaucopins is drawn off of five hectares on really steep slopes on the Right Bank. It is neither Les Lys nor Vaillons but somehow an across the river genetic and amalgamated combination of the two. Though there is a wild side to Vaucopins it really streams the vintage. Natural and corporeal because the fruit is untethered but habitual in that it mimics the Grand Cru. Its south-facing cragges and outcrops bring warmth to the kimmeridgian and that is why Matthieu Mangenot treats its élevage like a Grand Cru. The result is a very concentrated Chablis from 15 per cent (older Bichot barrels) oak fermentation. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Long-Depaquit

Domaine Long-Depaquit

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

The Long-Depaquit treatment for Blanchots is with 25 per cent barrel. A real preserved lemon and just a hint of paraffin is replete with such elegance and finesse on the nose. Les Blanchots is at once soft but also of a sexy smoulder, like flint that has been sparked, extinguished and left with a lingering wisp. So beautifully wound and full of demurred grace. But don’t be fooled, there is a punch of acidity and underlying spirit. The house accounts for a meaningful if ponderous part of the Blanchot riddle, its centrism wrapped in a mystery, in a fruit versus stone enigma. Recondite, interwoven Chablis. Drink 2019-2025.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

Just because the richest of Grand Cru fruit can handle the added value, Les Clos receives a generous 35 per cent barrel fermentation. As per Les Clos the corpulence and amenability adds up to one grand and inviting Grand Cru Chablis. Always critically evident and full of joie de vivre, there is roundness on les Clos like no other Grand Cru and Long-Depaquit is front and centre to the end of that ideal. What separates this house’s style is the long and slowly evolving finish because and with thanks to the wood adding texture and cream to all aspects of its relationship with the largest Grand Cru. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Moutonne Monopole 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (46706, $89.95, WineAlign)

The greatest of paradoxical moments is shared in confessional confidence with Moutonne because not just anyone can make a wine with the name and of such a singular distillation from within a venn diagram of places. While some lieu-dit in Chablis share affinities, territorial geography and climats with larger Premier Cru, it is only Moutonne that stands alone in the schematic drawn up for the Grand Crus. Though the Moutonne can’t help but take on the atypical characteristics of the 2013 vintage it also can’t escape from itself. Les deux visages are always relegated into the dichotomous and interconnected realm, of Les Preuses (five per cent) controlled with manifest destiny by Les Blanchots. Les Preuses’ fruit is feisty and must be heard and this is so necessary in the tropical and spicy vintage. There is no lychee here but there breathes some very ripe stone fruit and the great white geology of the Grand Cru. In spite of the vintage this is a beautifully managed Moutonne (fermented in 25 per cent barrel) with trenchant piquancy on the finish. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

From coast to coast: Top 40 wines from the 2016 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada

Welcome @muller_brent to team RED! with nazlanmak captain @treve_ring #nwac16 @winealign

Welcome @muller_brent to team RED! with nazlanmak captain @treve_ring #nwac16 @winealign

The WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada are a complex, multifarious and many-splendored thing. The Nationals bring unity, cross-provincial comity and international variety to the Canadian wine scene. That’s more than can be said about the commerce side of things. It requires a whole lot more than good will to make this most important Canadian competition happen. It takes 1,500+ unique wines, algorithms, logistics, space, time and people.

Related – One the eve of the 2016 WineAlign Canadian Wine Awards

My fourth Nationals in the books and the apogee of perquisite function is reached. That’s how it feels, in retrospect. The overture of function and the apex of wine journalism culminates at the vertices of colleague and responsibility. To find the profound wrapped up in the membrane of gifted opportunity allows a wine writer to make a valid and justifiable contribution. It affords a conclusion written in vouchsafe doling, where medals are heaped upon the best wines produced in Canada. It’s an avail of satisfaction, a community distraction and a labour of love.

How lucky we all were to have her back in the captain's chair. Happy Canada Day @djwines #nwac16

How lucky we all were to have her back in the captain’s chair. Happy Canada Day @djwines #nwac16

Congratulations to Tawse Winery. In his WineAlign report David writes, “winery owner Moray Tawse and winemaker Paul Pender have harvested Winery of the Year honours at Canada’s largest wine competition again this year, the fourth time since 2010. Tawse Winery is on a roll, with five gold medals in this year’s showdown, plus eight silver and eight bronze medals.”

Related – Announcing WineAlign National Wine Awards Winery of the Year

The people at the forefront are the judges, women and men from across the country (representing seven provinces) as well as international guests, from the U.K. and America. Not just any America, mind you, but native America, from California (by way of Alaska). The judges rule but they are not the most integral cog in the NWAC machine. It is the wine fairies that run the engine and they need naming. Head wineaux Bryan McCaw. Logistics and administrative gurus Sarah Goddard and Carol-Ann Jessiman. Statistics bordering on actuarial science sabermetrics specialist Earl Paxton. Photographer Jason Dziver. Head judges Anthony Gismondi and David Lawrason. Volunteers. Lifters, carriers, movers, pourers and judge-doting servers. These are the heroes.

The 2016 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada judges and back room rockstars photo (c) Jason Dziver and WineAlign

The 2016 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada judges
photo (c) Jason Dziver and WineAlign

In his WineAlign report, Anthony Gismondi writes “this year’s National Wine Awards was the most inclusive yet, with 230 wineries entering over 1,500 wines from across the country. The numbers only make the achievement of Lake Breeze as Canada’s 2016 Best Performing Small Winery of Year all that more impressive.”

Related – Announcing the Best Performing Small Winery of the Year

I would like to make it clear that I write all of my tasting notes for The Nationals solely based on the notes scribbled during the competition. Though I am fully aware of the wines in question when composing the final copy, the transcribing process remains 100 per cent pure and loyal to the original notes. Nothing is added. No acidification, chaptalization, fining or filtering.

Dispatch @winealign note to Canada- You are making awesome @coolchardonnay ...next stop #i4c #nwac16

Dispatch @winealign note to Canada- You are making awesome @coolchardonnay …next stop #i4c #nwac16

“There was a dazzling array of top quality Canadian wines at this year’s 16th WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada with over 1,500 entries from 230 wineries in six provinces. There were 16 coveted Platinum medals spread over 14 wineries, and seven different wine categories.”

Related – Announcing the Results of the 2016 National Wine Awards

My top 40 are not necessarily the best I tasted but rather the best of a cross-section that insists on being inclusive for as many categories across the compendium. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Riesling are disproportionately represented and for good reason, but there are thirds, fourths and fifths exceptional examples that are not celebrated on this versatile and ubiquitous list.

Treve Ring made it clear that “no matter what shade, it’s pretty obvious that more folks are thinking pink. And with fresh results from the 2016 National Wine Awards of Canada held in Penticton, BC last month, Canadian winemakers are stepping up with terrific offerings.”

Related – Canada Thinks Pink, Drinks Pink

The notable exception and varietal inconsequence comes at the hands of Cabernet Franc, a grape that I’ve come to herald over the past two years, especially from out of the auspices of Niagara gatherings and master classes, along with other Canadian competitions I’ve judged at. Franc has shown well at the Ontario Wine Awards, at Gold Medal Plates and at comparative varietal get togethers. When we convened at Peller Estates in the spring of 2015 during a CAPS Best Canadian Sommelier competition, the Cabernet Franc flights were revelatory. At the 2015 and 2016 Ontario Wine Awards the varietal shone in Icewine meanderings. At NWAC 2016 its promise stagnated and receded into wooden shadows.

Why is this? The simple answer could be examined as too many quality CFs made by many good vignerons were not entered.  Another view sees a rapid return tho excess barrel aging in less than stellar vintages, namely 2013 and 2014. The last concern is a heavily weighted Okanagan participation. The sage and dry desert impart mixed with wood clouds many B.C. renditions. It’s not that they are poor wines by any stretch, but they tend to blend in as one, especially when eight or more are tasted side by side by each.

Pronto! Largest assembly of Canadian wines in one place- 1,525 @WineAlign National Wine Awards #nwac16

Pronto! Largest assembly of Canadian wines in one place- 1,525 @WineAlign National Wine Awards #nwac16

Speaking on behalf of the entire WineAlign/Chacun son Vin crew might be a slight over-reaching opinionated bit of creative license but judging these awards ranks amongst the most important things we do as wine journalists. These wines are in our hands and we pay attention to every detail, on a playing field set as level as there can be in the pantheon of wine competitions.  Nothing is taken for granted and the collective palate works towards the most just conclusions possible. These Top 40 wines are what I spent the most energy on. All deserving of their accolades.

Quebec

Les Pervenches Seyval Chardonnay 2015, Quebec (Winery, $20.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

A two-varietal conjoin of chardonnay (80 per cent) and seyval blanc (20) opined with the sort of high level of acidity that stakes territorial claim out of what is surely the coolest climate in the competition. The sharp drift leans to shale and flint. Great glade energy and piercing phenolics are superb. Oak is not even a twinkle in its eye, nor negative reduction neither. Directly solid phenolics, tart and angling to greenery. Lemons all over and lime too. Such zing. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @LaRoutedesVins  @VinsduQuebec

Domaine Acer Charles Aimé Robert, Quebec (Winery, $30.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Maple syrup as maple syrup, reduced, syrupy, caramelized, rich, buttery (brown) and with direct acidity. Mostly in balance. Roasted nuts and even some fig. Roasted chestnuts off the Portuguese cart. Marmite and umami. The return of the sherry semblance that speaks an Oloroso vernacular, the nutty Solera professor, dried apricot beauty. The maple is so in, so reduced and perfectly realized. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016

Desrochers D Cuvée De La Diable Vin De Miel, Quebec (Winery, 375ml, $20.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Just amazing honey wine, all beeswax but here without as much funk and so stressed in lemon citrus with savour, not balm. Like sweet sherry, envisaged in the vein of say Montilla-Moriles Pedro Ximenez, from 100 per cent honey. Really haute-fashion acidity. Pine resin and forest floor. Quite complex and irrefragable into its long finish. Honey buttered toast, sour and so good. Really well made, balanced and ethereal. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016

New Brunswick

Happy Knight Black Mead 2015, New Brunswick (Winery, $13.29, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

From honey (87 per cent) and black currant (13) together for a wonderfully lactic, chalky, saccharine mess. There are moments of simple sour and insipid tartness but the up and downs bring about structure. And then the lifted florals. Drink 2016-2017.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @happyknightwine

Nova Scotia

Blomidon Estate Winery Tidal Bay 2015, Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia (Winery, $19.99, WineAlign)

Simply the simplest white blend in the flight, for good reason and measure. Languid and salty, bittersweet. Not much fruit of texture but the acidity is zesty and orange juicy. A bit funky and prickling. Leaves behind a green mango paste in the mouth made piquant by lime. Ça marche.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @BlomidonEstate

Ontario – Niagara Peninsula

Chateau Des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc 2015, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, $14.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Much ripeness in style, juicy mango and a note of Kenyan pineapple. Palate offers balance returning back west into stone fruit and a shot of metal moonshine. It comes so easy. This is cracker soul. “Come and party with your spirit guide.” The winemaker and the vigneron walk their walk and talk their talk. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016

Chateau Des Charmes Gamay Noir “Droit” St. David’s Bench Vineyard 2014, VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, $17.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

An adroit poster child for the battle cry of #gogamaygo, this is deliciously and devilishly dark fruit crusted with rusticity. It is also bright, volatile within every threshold of the ideal and tart with cru proportions. Possessive of the relentless ongoingness of gamay syntax, from sour black cherry to ascendant and structurally lean. Well done. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @MBosc

Legends Chardonnay Reserve 2013, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, $18.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Plat2016_web

Beautiful variegation is noticed on the leesy, creamy and somewhat reductive nose. Certainly already into the beeswax, this is weighted but lifted chardonnay. Flinty, smoky too. All this before a taste. Good harmony into the texture where palate and tannin meet at the proverbial chardonnay crossroads. No semantic crimps, lexical distresses or syntactical trials. Big and beautiful. Full to the long finish. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @LegendsWinery

Legends Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Lizak Vineyard 2013, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Ontario (Winery, $19.50, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Who would fail to comply with the memo for giving it up and appreciating the mineral sauvignon blanc, down along the cove where “I spied my little bundle of joy.” Platinum pear and white peach, sprinkled with maldon, bobbing for rocks, “walking hand in hand.” Direct, white tannic, dry extracted, low pH SB, direct, with purpose and just a wee bit of harmonica. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016

Hidden Bench Roman’s Block Riesling 2013, VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario (198853, $23.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Here the complete deal is limestone-mineral, old vines, relative altitude and low tonnage. Variegated layering on the palate. The Germanic one, all in, slope driven and dry with citrus compression. This is most excellent, mouth-watering riesling. “This is really, warden in my back, goose all in my gut.” A wine that stretches and turns back on itself. Under the Pressure. Drink 2016-2025.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @HiddenBench  @BenchVigneron

Tawse Winery Riesling Quarry Road Vineyard 2014, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Ontario (198853, $23.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Compression and a slight bend to oxidation are hallmarks of the 2014 Niagara Riesling season and yet the QRV manages to buck the trend. The oscillations of tannin, extract and off-dry flavours are all wrapped up in greater acidity than some previous vintages have seen. This is one of the more striking 2014 Niagara Rieslings with some credit surely do to the cool Vinemount Ridge site. The rest of can be credited to winemaking and good luck. The sour in this Quarry Road is of a sumptuous kind, laying August stone fruit over layers of fractured limestone. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted April 2016  @Tawse_Winery  @DanielatTawse

Adamo Oaked Chardonnay Wismer Foxcroft Vineyard 2014, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, $27.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Plat2016_web

Really effective actuality, from barrel for couverture and bite, through texture by lees and with inhalant because of the mineral play. This has it all going on. The middle palate is so beautifully filled in, the spice and smokiness just a mild, intoxicating smoulder. Lovely stuff and terrific length. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @AdamoEstateWine  @hinterlandwine

Two Sisters Eleventh Post 2012, Niagara River, Ontario (Winery, $39.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Red raspberry and a posy of green quintessence filled by oak in a merlot (50 per cent) with equal addendum from two cabernets. There are moments that are somewhat downy soft and mocha-creamy but the brain gladly socializes with the cappuccino bordeaux blend. What ultimately matters is how this soft serve is the least astringent and most silky wine in the flight. Just as your guard lets down the tannins storm the castle. Intriguing blend with cellaring structure. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @2SistersVine  @apearcevino

Hidden Bench Chardonnay Tête De Cuvée 2013, VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario (Winery, $45.20, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Intensely reductive and so very fresh chardonnay with serious cool-climate excitability. A minor dishy aroma might detract for some but its the phenolics talking, not yet rendering the porcine baby fat, looking for integration, speaking in tart, chalky (liquid) tones. Like fresh pasta dough in a warm kitchen. Complex wine not yet understood. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @HiddenBench  @BenchVigneron

Jackson Triggs Niagara Reserve Riesling Icewine 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, 375ml $59.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Love the cool feel, the apricot aspic glaze and the herbs underneath the sweet surface. Really tangy fruits and great acidity. This has balance and vitality. Actually causes a bit of mouth watering with clean, clear, crisp and precise riesling character. Drink 2016-2025.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @Jackson_Triggs  @CBrandsCareers

Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Le Grande Reserve 2013, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (Winery, $60.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

The top-tier Pinot Noir is quite fruit intense, but also sappy and uttered in soft, indecipherable if almost resolved words. That said the length traipses to somewhere distant, to a boundary no other Queylus Pinot Noir has yet made. As it is thought on, this wine climbs to that far away peak that can’t really be imagined. The wine lingers longer than the pen and like the sword, pierces with svelte pinpoint accuracy. The flavour profile is indescribable, neither fruit nor mineral dominant and not exactly earthbound either. The abstruse profile persists but can’t be named so like language, must go on and on. Time heeds no dissipation. The wine lingers forever. Drink 2017-2025.  Tasted June 2015  @QueylusVin

Ontario – Prince Edward County

Waupoos Cabernet Franc Reserve 2013, Ontario (Winery, $29.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Rich cabernet franc, extracted and with some big, but beneficial wood. Quite aromatic stuff here of black cherry with vanilla and lavender accents. Savoury and leathery palate with juicy, sumptuous elevations. Really lively stuff with nary a chocolate or a mocha moment and no bitters. None. Brilliant. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @waupooswine

Huff Estates Cuvee Peter F Huff 2011, Méthode Traditionnelle, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario (Winery, $40.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Nothing can be so considered as leaning to an oxidative style until you imagine this in a flight of nine and take in its old-school on par with Method Cap Classique like charm. Or Jura. Great acidity circulates and like tribunates protects the sparkling rights from arbitrary acts of reduction. With flavours recalling mandarin, lemon and then an aromatic return to exotic, in lemongrass and galangal. Length is excellent. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @HuffEstatesWine

Ontario – Lake Erie North Shore

Pelee Island Vinedressers Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Lake Erie North Shore, Ontario (Winery, $19.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Dark, muted and tannic, of bitter chocolate, this unforgiving cabernet sauvignon is blessed with high savour and underlying brine. This is an oak monster but not creamy. It’s all bitter chocolate but not astringent. Not mean. Gotta see past the demanding attitude because it’s really quite balanced within the conceit of it’s largesse. Ultimately elegant, floral and complex. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @Peleewinery

British Columbia – Okanagan Valley

Synchromesh Riesling 2015, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $19.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Beautifully microbial, beeswax-scenting, wild ferment riesling. Needs agitation to shed its bacterial baby fat. Quite viscous and grippy mouthfeel. Transports the fundamental factors from vine, fruit and fermentation in a suitcase of natural love. The acidity is texturally palpable, essential, extended gainfully from low pH. There is some residual but so much sink your teeth into it stuffing to carry it forward. Most excellent less than off-dry palate and with the drive to finish with impression over the next 10 years. Drink 2016-2026.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @SynchromeshWine

The View Ehrenfelser 2015, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $19.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

So floral, with orange peel, white rose potpourri, a bit of funky humidity, cool and viscous. Great mouthfeel, tart, frozen-gelid acidity. Sweetness never causes any suffering. Great finish. Miles ahead of the field in off the beaten path varietal gambolling.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @TheViewWinery

Wild Goose Stoney Slope Riesling 2014, VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $20.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Beautiful atmosphere with hopes and dreams to climb high into the stratosphere. The terpene that lurks is just a prop, a step-ladder for the more purposed realities to use and get up there with the airs and the stones and to thank the terpenes for their unselfish ways. Very concentrated and purposed riesling with compressed bitters. Princess in high tops. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @wildgoosewines

Finals of 24 #pinotnoir in three flights. Mountain tea for all #nwac16 @winealign National Wine Awards of Canada

Finals of 24 #pinotnoir in three flights. Mountain tea for all #nwac16 @winealign National Wine Awards of Canada

Volcanic Hills Pinot Noir 2011, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $20.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Oranges, peaches and apricots. In pinot noir. Strawberries, cherries and raspberries. So much fruit. Turns earthy and spicy on the palate. It’s a very good characterful expression that walks straight down a line. So much character and then tannic, sharp and acerbic on the finale. The tannins hang around the fruit like a clever. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @volcanichillswi

Ciao Bella Pinot Rosé 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $20.75, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Love the early note of minor volatility to check and balance for soft and downy, simple and into pleasure. Smells like unripe pickled strawberry. Though some decent salinity and brine offer up a rosé reality there lacks a bit of ingratiating 100 per cent pinot noir charm. Improves and brings out some pinosity by good bitters, gin and tonic, orange zest and some spice. In the end it’s actually more than quite good. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @ciaobellawinery

Spierhead Pinot Gris Golden Retreat Vineyard 2015, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $21.85, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Just a moment of skin contact renders to immediate complexity. Great rust, scraped stone and wild citrus. Lots of white grapefruit on the palate and pith, but not too much. Very persistent.  Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @spierheadwinery

Haywire Secrest Mountain Vineyard Gamay Noir Rosé 2015, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $22.90, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Really earthy 100 per cent gamay Rosé. Good mineral in here. This was made with a purpose. “Now everybody’s gonna tell you it’s not worth it. Everybody’s gotta show you their own thing.” There is balance and ballad ease. This is just so drinkable. “Is this the past or the future that is calling.” Gamay, I love the times you’ve come. Drink 2016-2018. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @Haywirewine  @OKCrushPad

Joie Farm Gamay 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $23.90, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

A gamay with global explorations that is so inimitable it founds it’s own, toute de suite, self-dissolving genre. This really sweats and wicks away the umami of gamay. It has the notion, sumptuous spice, tight, circular winds and biggest stage presence. Such a mineral palate, density and the gumption to pour with unwavering varietal swagger. Best in show. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @JoieFarm  @LiffordON

Bordertown Cabernet Franc 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $24.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Beautifully fragrant cabernet franc, unhindered and unencumbered by obnoxious, noxious barrel plenitude. Red currants, liquorice and plenty of summer savour. Pencil lead to graphite and cool climate attitude. Rustic in all the right ways, like Rioja Gran Reserva meets the Loire. So natural and charcuterie cured. Spicy all over the finish. Just a bit bitter perhaps. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @BordertownWine

Moon Curser Syrah 2013, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $27.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Cooler and more Mediterranean savoury. Tart and direct, taut and full of miles away imaginings. There seems to be some elegance to temper the gambling and cajoling in the big chamber. Like a self-correcting shake-up, as if something were veritably being worked out. Give it some time and some love. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @mooncurser

Silken palate, structure, ambient endings #grenache @Stagshollow #okanaganvalley

Silken palate, structure, ambient endings #grenache @Stagshollow #okanaganvalley

Stag’s Hollow Grenache 2015, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $29.99, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

An effete, in effect style of grenache, pretty, pure and elegant. She resists the trappings of overripeness, over-extraction and over-pressing. She is conceived with great purpose and with pelucid substance. Her palate is silken, with fresh berries and then the sort of grand structure that rolls into ambient endings. One of Canada’s great grenache triumphs. Drink 2016-2020.   Tasted June 2016  @Stagshollow

Sperling Natural Amber Pinot Gris 2015, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $30.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

So much beeswax and honey wine attribution. Porcine, delicate and quite elegant for the statement. Plenty of acidity and even more relish. Why not give a little Grauburgunder love to the winemaker for giving the style a shot, and succeeding. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016.

From my earlier note of January 2016:

Ann Sperling is not merely fussing about with natural ferments, skin-contact macerations and non-sulphured, self-preservations. She is learning about winemaking, opening doors to perception and interested in doing things in different ways. Her second go ’round with a natural Amber Pinot Gris furthers the non-plussed discussion and the understanding. While pouring the inaugural 2014 from keg on tap last year at Vancouver’s Belgard Kitchen, it was Sommelier David Stansfield who so succinctly noted “this wine is a raw expression of vineyard, grape, and time.” This gets right to the heart and the crux of the Orange matter, especially within the context of a North American account. Sperling has many supporters in her corner, including husband-winemaker-consultant Peter Gamble, the folks at the Casorso-Sperling Kelowna Farm and Bill Redelmeier at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara. This 2015 is a veritable pink cloud, anti-orange, still so very musty, funky, tanky, with great Sperling acidity and pierce. There is so much exuviation to evanescence and back again flavour. There is feigned sweetness that purposes towards and with gearing second wind into length. How much pleasure is this from and for Pinot Gris? Drink 2016-2017

Sperling Vin Gris Of Pinot Noir 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $30.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Anti-Rosé Vin Gris pinot noir, light of blush and leaning to terpene. While lost in a nether land between the categories of hue, the appeal is wrought by the wine’s refusal to be unclassified. And it need not be. I think I get what the attempt was here; lithe, light, easy free-run with nearly no hue inducing skin contact and it travels the path akin a fruit wine realm; ever so slightly sweet and very tangy, like currant pureé. Prejudices and preconceptions are cast aside. Such a rare occasion affords a taster assessing blind to know so little and enjoy so much. Drink 2016-2018. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @SperlingVyds  @AnnSperling

Coolshanagh Chardonnay 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $36.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Really beautifully reductive, ranging to all chardonnay fronts, from expectation and into results. Terrific integration, multiplicity and circulation. Chardonnay flush with fabric and forged by framework. Enjoy it now and over five more glowing years. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @OKCrushPad

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (73098, $44.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Rich, dried fruit and a welling tension inflates and rehydrates this cabernet sauvignon with cool, savoury, bluff sage and piquant nettle garrigue notions. It has an intelligent and characteristic taste. Tending to write the cabernet sauvignon personality book, this desert play is full of varietal notion and somehow typical. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @BurrowingOwlBC  @LeSommelierWine

Moon Curser Dead Of The Night 2013, BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $54.95, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Serious syrah and tannat split. Deep cimmerian demi-glacé, rich and chocolatey, somewhat sweet but full of fruit and mineral. Syrah getting together with tannat of augmentation, opulence, concentration, of getting more in. Long and lingering. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @mooncurser

Meyer Pinot Noir Micro Cuvee Mclean Creek Road Vineyard 2012, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $65.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

A very amenable and mostly, fully, completely copacetic pinot noir with tonic and beneficial bitters managing the fruit. Fruit that is directly up front and neither garrigue nor barrel spice makes cause for any distraction. No mental gymnastics are required to understand this wine. Great leave it be pinot noir. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @MFVwines

British Columbia – Naramata Bench

Deep Roots Pinot Gris 2015, Naramata Bench, British Columbia (Winery, $19.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

A bit stinky and reductive but on the precipice and so purposeful. Pear, platinum pipe and graphite. Good viscosity and slightly off-dry to the point where savour and spice take over. Better balance here. The reduction blew away with ease. Spicy finish. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @DeepRootsWine

Terravista Albarino 2015, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $25.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Quite a dense albarino with plenty of metal in its back pocket and salinity “singing to an ocean.” Gobs of fruit play along with the sea air. I like the acidity and the zeppelin zest, the citrus led with a full twist. Tart and close to sour with some sulphur but “it’s a real fine way to start,” even if it doesn’t quite blow my mind. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @Terravistawines

La Frenz Syrah Rockyfeller Vineyard 2014, Naramata Bench, British Columbia (Winery, $28.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Gold2016_web

Here syrah plays a floral song while doused in perfume of roses in the tar sands. Less oak driven and fresher than the compatriots in its flight. Give credit where it’s due. Syrah buoyed, lifted and blessed by five per cent viognier. Tasted blind at #NWAC16, June 2016  @LAFRENZWINERY

British Columbia – Similkameen Valley

Twisted Hills Paradise Pear Organic Cider 2015, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $18.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

Bruised pear leads this spot on cider with a cool whiff of concrete tank and a minor pear puree, of sauce spiked by cinnamon. Quite dry and saline within terrific acidity. Umami makes the salivator glands work overtime. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @twistedhills

Eau Vivre Malbec 2013, BC VQA Similkameen Valley, British Columbia (Winery, $23.00, WineAlign)

NWAC_Silver2016_web

A rich juicy malbec of all in red fruit, tom foolery fun things and life affirming positives. Just the malbec with creamy american vanilla anglaise. “Sidewalk sundae strawberry surprise.” A bit of a malbec ice cream cone but that’s more than OK because the ice cream man, one man band will be “good to you yeah, good to you, I’ll be good to you, I’ll be good to you.” No need to hold off because malbec so inviting waits for no one. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted blind at NWAC16, June 2016  @EauVivre

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

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All in the Primum Familiae Vini

Primum Familiae Vini tasting at Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel, April 23rd, 2015

Primum Familiae Vini tasting at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel, April 23rd, 2015

Can there be a more visceral wine experience than tasting some of the world’s greatest wine estates and all the while their principals just seem to only talk about history and family? Makes me think about parents, grandparents and children. About accomplishments, passing torches and smelling roses. Or something like that.

Perhaps it was the news of Etienne Hugel’s passing that was the impetus for me to relive this day, where giants gathered and mere mortals did their best to take in the magnitude of such a coterie of distinction. That afternoon gifted me and others their five minutes with Mr. Hugel, the epitome of Alsatian, a tireless ambassador for the Hugel brand, Alsace wines and the Primum Familiae Vini congregation of producers. Or maybe it was just the right time, a crossroads one year later where the confluence of circumstance and thought conjoined to let the notes come out.

Primum Fam

Tastes of PFV

As a stark contrast to the increasingly agitating globalization of wine, the Primum Familiae Vini members stand out as leading wine families whose aim it is “to defend and promote the traditions and values of family owned wine companies, and ensure that such ideals survive and prosper for future generations.” The PFV is an international association of some of the world’s finest wine producing families from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Created in 1992, membership into the organization is by invitation only, with a maximum of 12 highly respected families contributing generations of expertise.
PFV

PFV

The PFV estate principals arrived in Toronto for an April 23rd, 2015 Press Lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel organized by wine ambassador Christophe Brunet. On hand were Hubert De Billy, Etienne Hugel, Laurent Drouhin, Egon Müller, Miguel Torres, Priscilla Incise della Rocchetta, Thomas Perrin, Allegra Antinori, Julien Beaumarchais de Rothschild, Pablo Alvarez and Rupert Symington. Each arrived to represent eleven of the world’s leading families that at the time of the tasting, made up the association: Marchesi Antinori, Château Mouton Rothschild, Joseph Drouhin, Egon Müller Scharzhof, Hugel & Fils, Champagne Pol Roger, Famille Perrin, Symington Family Estates, Tenuta San Guido, Miguel Torres and Vega Sicilia. Each family owns vineyard estates, is one of its country’s most prestigious producers, and enjoys an international reputation for its wines. Each year in turn, a member of the association is elected President. The 2014/2015 President was Alessia Antinori, while in 2015/2016 she was succeeded by Miguel Torres.

PFV wines

PFV wines

Primum Familiae Vini supports charitable causes, hosting gala dinners to raise funds for a local charity by auctioning a PFV Collection Case. The beneficiaries have primarily been focused on helping disadvantaged children, the handicapped and specialist hospitals including. Some of these beneficiaries have been Childhood Brazil, Brasil, San Patrignano Charity, Italy, Grapes for Humanity, USA, Somdetya Charity Fund, Thailand, Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF), Singapore, The Public Welfare of Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo and the The Toronto Foundation for Student Success. In total, over $325K has been raised.

Pablo Alvarez, Vega Sicilia with Godello and Larent Drouhin, Maison Joseph Drouhin

Pablo Alvarez, Vega-Sicilia with Godello and Larent Drouhin, Maison Joseph Drouin

As you well know it’s all about the wine and the tasting note for Godello. The art of composing snapshots of wines tasted is a cathartic experience and the only way to bring about closure. It is a necessary process, cannot and will not be abandoned. The scores attached can stay put or go away. Neither relevant nor essential, scores are merely road signs on the exegetical path through wine. Once you pass them by their use is no longer needed.

My notes for the wines tasted are long and prosaic, even longer than most that I write, which says something about the profundity of such a tasting. That it took me the better part of a year to finalize my thoughts is not surprising. Until now I found no way to serve proper justice to these wines.

Primum Familiae Vinum

Primum Familiae Vini

Famille Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2010, Aoc Alsace, France (731448, $55.00, WineAlign)

The Jubilee’s style mirrors a reflection, of name, its maker and in the ripples it will gently spread as it progresses through time. Riesling that will eventuate to luxe, calme et volupté, like coming home after 50 years, resolved of sin, “in this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.” Hugel’s Jubilee is sourced from family-owned vines on the steep slopes of the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg above the village of Riquewihr. Terroir of great variegation; Keuper, marl, dolomite and gypsum, quaternary siliceous gravel, Vosges sandstone, Muschelkalk and periphery Lias marl limestones. The vintage is special, with no allowance for yields to climb and rife with sought after Riesling attributes. That of tannic intent, coursing coarseness of mineral condensation and repossessing acidity wrapped up in an enigma. Going forward it will gently give back but also remain rigid, slightly hidden, at times dormant, until such time when paraffin and honey take over. One of the finer Riesling cuvées of Alsace. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted April 2015  @FamilleHugel  @HalpernWine  @AlsaceWines  @VinsAlsace  @drinkAlsace

Super #champagne overture. I will always surrender. @Pol_Roger #sirwinstonchurchill 2002 #primumfamiliaevini

Super #champagne overture. I will always surrender. @Pol_Roger #sirwinstonchurchill 2002 #primumfamiliaevini

Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Vintage Brut Champagne 2002, Champagne, France (SAQ, 12027016, $247.25,  WineAlign)

From one of the great Champagne vintages of the last 20 years, the 2002 ode to the British Bulldog is full of French vigor and supernatant rationalism. In 2015 its hue is golden gingered and the fine mousse causes sensory skips in the heart’s beats. These bubbles pay attention and tease the most sensitive olfactory nerve endings. The brioche baking and crumbs toasting are still just mere twinkles in the aromatic eye. The year 1996 is on many tasters’ minds and this wine has no qualms telling a direct lineage tale. Can there be more proof than what is spoken in the structure of this young wine? The bitters are forged from compression, without weight and void of oppression. A pleasure to taste, this Champagne is a deactivated refugee from an ancient European dominion. It’s hard to imagine it ever being anything but elegant and cool. Drink 2016-2027.  Tasted April 2015  @Pol_Roger  @Champagne  @HalpernWine

Scallop, kumquat, baby leek, caviar #fourseasonstoronto #julienlaffargue #primumfamiliaevini with #drouhin #chablis grand cru les clos 2012 and #egonmuller #riesling #scharzhofberger kabinett 1994

Scallop, kumquat, baby leek, caviar #fourseasonstoronto #julienlaffargue #primumfamiliaevini with #drouhin #chablis grand cru les clos 2012 and #egonmuller #riesling #scharzhofberger kabinett 1994

Drouhin Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2012

Joseph Drouhin Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2012

Joseph Drouhin Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2012, Burgundy, France (SAQ, 10998708, $88.00, WineAlign)

Drouhin’s Les Clos is Chablis incarnate. It delivers the importance of form and structure, with the incantatory power of storytelling to foresee the eventuality of its Moirai. It possesses the staying power to reveal the truth and reward with the fullness of gratification. Imagine pears, some dried and some fresh, pulverized and turned into gold stone. That is Les Clos. Barrels used are one to four years old and since 2004 there is no stirring of the lees. This determination arranges to opt for longevity of structure over immediacy in elegance. The enclosure is lacy organza, the interior filled with ripe fruit. Time (60 minutes) induces a mine of mineral wealth emergence, of shifting plates and rising outcrops from the quarry underfoot. Patience is required to bring all the moving parts in line. Drink 2017-2027.  Tasted April 2015  @JDrouhin   @BIVBChablis @BourgogneWines  @FWMCan  @Dandurandwines

Keep the car running. Magic 1994 #riesling from #egonmuller #primumfamiliaevini #scharzhofberger #rieslingkabinett

Keep the car running. Magic 1994 #riesling from #egonmuller #primumfamiliaevini #scharzhofberger #rieslingkabinett

Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Kabinett Riesling 1994, Mosel, Germany (SAQ, 12587945, $79.75, WineAlign)

It must first be said that after 90 minutes in the glass the orange blossoms open in the early morning to release their spring fragrance into the room. In a conference room at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Now I don’t really know if the Scharzhofberg vineyard was actually planted by the Romans or if it was occupied by eighth century Trier St Marien ad Martyres monks. If following the French Revolution it was in the possession of the Duchy of Luxembourg I couldn’t say. I can equivocate, with irrefutable conviction that tasting Egon Müller’s 1994 twenty one years after its release confirms the vineyard’s reputation for housing irreverent Riesling. The arcade fire of remarkable hue, life-affirming aromatic energy and sky-lift brilliance is palpable. At 20 plus years the ideology, eventuality and passionate progression of purely distilled Mosel fruit is realized. Currently suspended in jet-trail animation, the sugars over gas of this Kabinett are quantitatively resilient. The relationship has seen a symbiotic feeding for longevity. Riesling of stoicism, classic prevalence and perfect balance. The specific Scharzhofberg tang has been revised to elevate a new order derivative recorded in every pure note. “There’s a weight that’s pressing down, late at night you can hear the sound.” Time held will move forward ever so slowly. Keep the car running. Drink 2015-2034.  Tasted April 2015    @germanwineca

Miguel Torres Mas La Plana 2010

Miguel Torres Mas La Plana 2010

Miguel Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Penedès, Spain (129676, $59.00, WineAlign)

The Torres Mas La Plana explains to the world why Penedès is one of the most important Cabernet Sauvignon outposts on the planet. In deference to its moniker, flat is not the operative word. With such lifted exuberance, richness and depth of fruit, it must be dared said that Bordeaux wisdom speaks from its Spanish roots. If Mas La Plana can always be good, this vintage is great. The layering of wood over Penedès soil gives it spice and subterranean pungency; cinnamon, clove, truffle and morel. This wine is now an internationally-styled giant, an expatriate made French wine with Spanish flair. Layered, structured and so much special fruit. All about the fruit. Drink 2016-2023.  Tasted April 2015  @TorresWines  @dopenedes

The reds of lunch. #vegasicilia #moutonrothschild #sassicaia #solaia #chateaudebeaucastel #maslaplana #primumfamiliaevini

The reds of lunch. #vegasicilia #moutonrothschild #sassicaia #solaia #chateaudebeaucastel #maslaplana #primumfamiliaevini

Château De Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape 2005

Château De Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape 2005

Château De Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape 2005, Rhône, France (711317, $89.95, WineAlign)

Expectations are high for 2005 and the opening notes of warmth, amenity and avail confirm the dream. Soon thereafter the Beaucastel plays hard to get, walks away and closes down. At this 10 year juncture its evolution is only matched by its elegance, especially considering the initial arterial ardor in mimic of the vintage. Resurfacing to conjure up character in aromatics, mint, eucalyptus, garrigue, coal and tar evince this pure Châteauneuf Du Pape. A wine of global receptiveness, the 2005 rendition tames the conception. There is very little about its personality that is parochial but rather it represents what it means to be a star, everywhere, omnipresent, for everyone. After 60 minutes it actually closes down again. This will be one of the longest lived Beaucastels. Drink 2017-2045.  Tasted April 2015  @Beaucastel  @RhoneWine  @VINSRHONE  @ChartonHobbs

Antinori Solaia 2007

Antinori Solaia 2007

Antinori Solaia 2007, Igt Toscana, Italy (987586, $249.95, WineAlign)

Tasting the 2007 Solaia feels like looking directly skyward into the high noon sun with a semi-peeled orange in one hand, juices dripping, zest split and fragrant. Flowers bloom all around, cypress trees stand as sentries, sentient and giving off a savoury musk. The rosemary joins in, as do the lavender and the fennochio, because there is a breeze. Then there is only the pitchy darkness, the iron and the animale. This Solaia exudes sunshine, creme caramel and maturity. As per the style, especially in warmer vintages, Solaia always speaks of early evolved character though you know it will last for a very long time. This I have come to know, expect and believe. Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted April 2015  @AntinoriFamily  @HalpernWine

Braised Bison Shortrib, spring carrot, pommes dauphines @FSToronto #solaia 2007 #moutonrothschild 2005 #vegasiciliaunico 2004 #primumfamiliaevini #julienlaffargue #fourseasonstoronto

Braised Bison Shortrib, spring carrot, pommes dauphines @FSToronto #solaia 2007 #moutonrothschild 2005 #vegasiciliaunico 2004 #primumfamiliaevini #julienlaffargue #fourseasonstoronto

Sassicaia 2009, Doc Bolgheri Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (480533, $199.95, WineAlign)

Now increasingly accessible, the ripe and ferric Sassicaia ’09 continues to roar but the gamy musk of the wild beast is on the subside. The tannins have begun to relent and yet no holes, empty spaces or time-outs are to be found. With 60 minutes of air time the fruit speaks of plum hyperbole and dried flowers fill the air. Ten more years lay comfortably ahead. Drink 2015-2025. Last tasted April 2015     @Smarent

Sassicaia 2009

Sassicaia 2009

From my earlier note of November 2012:
The raven brunette is anything but sappy or syrupy yet is impossibly viscous. Hints at ripe berries growing in the crags of maritime gravel and the most expected hits of sanguine, animal musk. A huge wine in the making, the adolescent hunter Sassicaia off-roads up a steep incline to go tell it on the mountain of tannin. Disappears into parts unknown and will only reappear as a mature adult. Look to 2025 and it may say “the perspective to say the very least, changes only with the journey.”

No cartoon. The real deal. Gehry lines. #chateaumoutonrothschild 2005 @PFvini #firstgrowth #paulliac #bordeaux #onceinalifetime #primumfamiliaevini

No cartoon. The real deal. Gehry lines. #chateaumoutonrothschild 2005 @PFvini #firstgrowth #paulliac #bordeaux #onceinalifetime #primumfamiliaevini

Château Mouton Rothschild 2005, Ac Pauillac, Bordeaux, France (SAQ 10654286, $965.00, BCLBDB, 649582, $1895.00, WineAlign)

Where to begin? That Cabernet Sauvignon can so facilely lay down the law, with deputy Merlot and deputized Cabernet Franc in support, that it can syncopate and elucidate the infinite, of soil information into warmth and depth, that is does so in such a wondrous way, well, that is the crux. Mouton of incredulous form, of a liqueur that is wholly unique, even to Bordeaux. An intoxicant and yes, funky, a distilled terroir, compressed, eschewing the fractional and essaying to integration. Reduced, layered and yet bereft of cheese, cloy or cake. Healthy as a community of organisms can be, wealthy in its archetypal discretion and drawn of an architectural line to ritualize structure. Precise, innate, insistent and balanced. The cleanest, purest and ripest fruit from 10 years ago had always and continues to cut an exegetical rug on one of the greatest dance floors of wine. An age exemplary Mouton in requiem of Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone’s label design. After 60 minutes it neither closes nor shrinks away. Open for business. Drink 2015-2045.  Tasted April 2015  

Vega-Sicilia Único 2004

Vega-Sicilia Único 2004

Vega-Sicilia Único 2004, Ribera Del Duero, Spain (702852, $475.00, WineAlign)

In a room full of Primum Familiae Vini no iconic red stands out with more singular parlous deference than the 2004 Unico. Sitting next to Pablo Alvarez and seeing his immediate reaction speaks volumes about its place in time and how it is showing. Alvarez does not smile so much as he simply acknowledges the work put in. Unico is correct and it is priceless. Is Alvarez making a comparison in his mind? Is he thinking 1970 or perhaps 1994? It does not matter because this blend of Tempranillo (87 per cent) and Cabernet Sauvignon (13) obviates derivative characteristics and so exhibits a kind of synoptic insatiability. Its persona is simply me, myself and I. The liqueur is not Bordeaux or IGT. The aromatics are exotic to the nth degree. The succulence and sucking inward grape tension is old and wise but the wine has 30-40 years of undetected evolution ahead. There is no need for a longevity prayer, just let it be. My ears hear “mais qu’est-ce que c’est bon!” perhaps from Alvarez, or maybe it came from Laurent Drouin to my left. The youthful Unico is like Les Enfantastiques, it has the “no se que” and we can call it terroir, from place, soil, climat and culture. Something that advances this early and yet has gone nowhere should be impossible. The precocious wisdom is beyond years, has reached a point at 10 that is palpable and yet so far from what it may become. It should be left alone for five more to find out. Drink 2020-2055.  Tasted April 2015  @Tvegasicilia  @DORibera

1977 @grahams_port...Oh to live to 111 and re-taste in 2077. @PFvini #symington #symingtonfamilyestates #rupertsymington #port #vintageport #primumfamiliaevini

1977 @grahams_port…Oh to live to 111 and re-taste in 2077. @PFvini #symington #symingtonfamilyestates #rupertsymington #port #vintageport #primumfamiliaevini

Graham’s Vintage Port 1977, Douro, Portugal (706663, $109.00, WineAlign)

The year 1977 was a huge one for the Douro and this Peter Symington vintage interpretation echoes the overemotionalism. The pitchy rim seems to be writhing, the aromatics roiling and my first thought is one of a houseguest that wishes he could escape an over vivid host. Vegetative freshness calms the savage beast; bouquet garni, garrigue and savoury herbiage from high yielding fruit. If cherries were roses and vice versa, they too would deter and distract. This VP has presence and distinction. It changes tempo, wades in the waters of age and treads with minimum effort. The toasted nut component is subtle, more than many and certainly in comparison to the modern era of Graham’s and others. The dry florals whiff as if the petals never dropped or ever will. The perfume drives upwards, to the ethereal. Nice little piece of Vintage Port history. Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted April 2015  @grahams_port  @winesportugalCA

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign: Michael Godel

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Gateway to Achaia, from Roditis to Mavrodaphne

Gate to Achaia Clauss Winery, Achaia

Gate to Achaia Clauss Winery, Achaia

A week of immersion on the ground running in Achaia drafts a new set of varietal tasting parameters. What is new to me are anent varieties of old. Roditis, Sideritis, Mavrodaphne and Mavro Kalavryta may be the grapes of ancients but obscurity be sprinkled, their resurrection blows forth in full paroxysmal scatter. The appeal is symptomatic of the new search for greatness in far away places.

Related – Till I reach Achaia ground

In  the second week of July I tasted through Patras and Achaia in the Greek Peloponnese. Here are 55 reviews from 10 producers.

Tetramythos

8ο kil. Pounta-Kalavrita, Ano Diakopto, 25003, Greece, 2691097500 The most modern facility in all of Achaia, re-built after a fire destroyed the property more than 10 years ago. Owned and operated by the brothers Aristos and Stathis Spanos.

Panyiotis Panagianopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Panyiotis Panagianopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Oenologist since 1999 is Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, a winemaker who may just have been separated from twin Frank Zappa at birth. Located at Ano Diakopto of Egialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, the 14 hectares of vineyards (450-1,000m) are farmed organically (and have been since 1997). Bush vines make up 80 per cent and endemic varieties (85 per cent) cultivated (plus some expatriates) are Roditis, Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc, Mavro Kalavryta, Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The total production is 13,000 cases with export to foreign markets (80 per cent) that exceeds peers by a wide margin.

Tetramythos Winery

Tetramythos Winery

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 12484575, $15.75, WineAlign)

Pulled from four vineyards at 650-850m of altitude and from vines 19-42 years old. No skin contact though it shows a light, slight tinge of colour. Nearly platinum in its yellow hue, perhaps attributed to organics says Papagiannopoulos, Eighty per cent was achieved through natural ferment (with zero malolactic) plus “one tank for security.” Roditis can go clean or develop anti-austerity, texture, viscosity in the direction of a dirty projector. The Tetramythos glides “forward through the clover and the bergamot.” I can see what she’s seeing. Tasting like a leesy ripe peach, this is the best “basic” Roditis tasted in Achaia. Serious match of Aleria Restaurant‘s Sea Bass Tartare. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

Here speaks the truth in endemic Roditis, raised in unconscious, wild ferment, unfiltered, forsaken to fining and treated to minimal sulphur. From 47 year-old vines, this most natural Peloponnese is made for the French market (that includes Quebec) with elevated acidity, deeper mineral, higher tang, pomp, circumstance and attitude. Latin, really, striking actually. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece (WineAlign)

Roditis is here designated as the traditional Retsina, subjugated to wild yeasts in clay amphora and no sulphur during alcoholic fermentation. From 25 year-old vines out of a single vineyard and pine resin collected from trees on the edge of the vineyard. Post low and slow fermentation the wine rests on its lees for two months.  Such a wild and sauvage display of terroir; pine resin, beeswax, sealants and amphora. Like pure pine distillate without excessive herbaceousness and in subtlety of its own complacency. The palate follows the other roditis renditions and the pine again returns on the finish. 14,000 bottles made. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Malagoussia 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece (WineAlign)

A single vineyard at an altitude of 750m guided by 30 hours of skin contact, for mouthfeel, to saddle the cool climate herbiage, needed for structure and for distance. Exudes poise, presence, precision, not oily but somehow creamy, glistening, this glow of malagousia. Expresses the longest hang time in the mouth, lingering like no roditis can or is willing to. Thanks to early picking to preserve acidity, the alcohol is low (12.4 per cent) and that acidity (7.2 g/L) above and beyond. Only here does malagousia keep this kind of flinty bite, in kind to a mid-September pick, keeping on the right side of soft and hot. I think this will live longer than you think.  Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2008, PDO Patras, Greece (WineAlign)

A wine to fulfill the promise of my own personal vindication. I had asked Angelos Rouvalis about laying Roditis down for three to five years or more, to see where it may go and he said, “why?” Here is why. Has fan vaulted to the skies, urged by petrol and a symphony of mythology. Akin and within aromatic mineral reach of sémillon or riesling, with just a basal drip of ambrosial, gaseous honey. The green notes (of pea and nettle) are exaggerated but that is attributed to 2008 fruit that may have never been fully ripe. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Muscat Sec 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

A slightly carbonic, reductive character – its natural protection, to keep the oxygen at bay, as if nouveau white Beaujolais. Combines bay laurel and beatific citrus, namely grapefruit after the banana blows off through the shutters of the cabana. Quite silky for muscat, of keys and zests citrus (major) and resin (minor). It may be sorry to leave you high and dry though there is no reason to feel a need to be weened off its charms. Far-out, groovy and compelling vin nature. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

Nothing short of lucent, this friable, direct and crunchy raw muscat. Effusive of individual vowels and consonants, typically Achaian, extrapolated to Greek in its lambent and inventive simplicity. More glade than wax, it coats with orange and the spirit of lime. So different and yet so familiar, inevitably dry and straight as an arrow. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Sauvignon Blanc Milia White 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece (WineAlign)

Not so many places are out there where sauvignon blanc grows at 1000m of altitude, so its got that going for it, which is nice. Add to that four months in new oak. What results is such a melon, citrus and high acidity tropical fruit mess. Wow is this piercing, almost over the top. Like sémillon this struts, in nod to the Hunter Valley. With time there is a varietal emergence. Eventually. Will age a spell. Drink 2015-2019. Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014 (SAQ 11885457WineAlign)

A terrific example for a grape saved from extinction, Tetramythos owns 1.9 of a total four hectares of MK. Kudos for the effort especially considering the variety is thin skinned, slow to mature and difficult to cultivate. Saw nearly 20 days of skin contact because “the variety dictates the practice,” notes Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. The fruit and bitters express a push-pull of terroir. One of two wineries making dry wines from the endemic variety, here the fresh red grape, the food friendly marker. Here confidently struts modern Achaian winemaking, from the ashes of naturalism and antiquity, the way Gamay or Loire Cabernet Franc are wont to do. Vibrant, with verve and a necessary natural funk. Herbal and with a rub of tomato skin, creamy, cool yet resinous, followed through from aroma to texture. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Tetramythos Agiorgitiko 2013, PGI Peleponnese (SAQ 12178957WineAlign)

Raised in old oak barrels, it carries the wooden ship scent on the sea. Possessive of a world up in the wind, roofless, like an August cathedral and yet a grounding sense to burrow into earth. In all that sense it drafts like Nebbiolo indenture. Ferric and tannic, with end spice. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Milia Red 2012, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

A kaleidoscopic, cosmopolitan blend of merlot (66 per cent), cabernet sauvignon (20) and mavro (black) kalavrita (14) aged in 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill barrels. Here, again the use of Bordeaux varietals that cloud the vision of what the land wants to say. Sure it will speak in a language that resembles Terra Alta or some IGT but it has a nowhere man feel, a lack of somewheress and surely no word from the mouth of Papagiannopoulos. Very Mediterranean in feel, with a tapenade of black olive and caper. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, PGI Aegialia Slopes (WineAlign)

A new Bordeaux language is created, in natural wild ferment, unfiltered and housed for 30 months in 2nd and 3rd fill barrels. A highly savoury cabernet sauvignon, with a lean and mean green streak. Tannic and very tight. Coated by a veneer and seething in teeth chattering acidity. Not for the faint of cabernet sauvignon heart and in need of double bottle time, in minimum two to one ratio of what it saw in wood. Much appreciation for the vision and the effort. Drink 2018-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Mavrodaphne Vin Naturellement Doux, Peleponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

As with so many of the Tetramythos line-up, this regional blend is the same but different. First it’s non vintage and second it is out of zone so not considered for PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras status. At 16 per cent alcohol and 58 g/L the sweet elixir spent nearly three years spent spinning in the excruciatingly slow centrifuge of natural fermentation. Traditional method adherence with the addition of organic, sun-dried raisins, “to increase the sugar levels.” The house quotient is three kilos of dried Black Corinth Raisin for every 100 L of must, in purport to increase the alcohol by one per cent. Here sweeps clean, sweet Mavro,  its port sensibility an aged, natural, dried fruit, nut and caramel melange. Pure beauty. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Domaine Mega Spileo (Cavino)

The domain is set within a dramatically oriented steppe of an amphitheatre, in a bowl beneath the shadow of a 940m rock that houses the great Greek Orthodox monastery of Mega Spileo (Grand Cave). Nowhere else in the Chelmos mountains does monk viticulture resonate as it does here. The great vineyard (Megali Ambelos) perches above the Vouraikos Canyon at 800m of height. The winemaker for the wines of Cavino and Mega Spileo is Stelios Tsiris. Varieties grown since re-planting in 1999 include Mavrodafne, Mavro Kalavritino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Lagorthi, Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Riesling.

Mega Spileo Monastery

Mega Spileo Monastery

Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece

A textured Roditis, its constant refrain one of herbiage, mineral, savoury bite and a direct pinch of austerity. Radiates fashioned with poise and meaning. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Malagousia 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

From a blend of three vineyards at 800m in altitude, this is a creamier, riper, more tropical take on the categorical grape. It’s tropical even, leaving peach to ascertain mango. Like a comfortable broth of warm emotions, this Malagousia belongs to the generality of varietal Greek persistence. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Moschato 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Nearly bone dry (4 g/L RS) and well-nigh nicked by acidity (6.2 g/L TA) this is really a true expression of the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, an elegant cold pour into a glass on a breezy, sunny day. Until now Muscat in Achaia “could never look me in the eye” but the flurry of aromatics sing like a songstress in white lace. Its gaze is like lemon and olive oil and its tongue like the sweet wax on the rind. Here the Moschato path has been properly and soulfully taken. Rich in gold, like the kingdom of Agamemnon at Mycenae. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Deus NV, Peloponnese, Greece

A blend of Moschato (80-90 per cent) and Sideritis, with a prodigious dosage to leave this sparkling wine larboard in the realm of 55 g/L of residual sugar. Translates to a tropical, custardy, sticky and waxy bubble that will repeatedly get you back in Achaia life again. Take a few sips “and I’ll drink and dance with one hand free.” You could really get stoned on this fizz. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Deus Rosato NV, Peloponnese, Greece

Made from 100 per cent Syrah and slightly sweeter than the Muscat, here at 60 g/L RS. The lees, cheese and funk from Syrah turned to sparkling distracts from the sweetness, sending this to parts of southern France in meditative, Mediterranean, savoire savour faire. Raspberry and cranberry vie for sweet and sour supremacy and the wine actually, seemingly turns dry on the peppery, fizzy, tanky and spirited back side. Never backs down and the last conceit is one of tannin. So much more successful than the Moschato. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Domaine Mega Spileo Grand Cave 2009, PGI Achaia

A dry vinified blend of Mavrodaphne (60 per cent) and Mavro (black of) Kalavritino that slumbers for 18-24 months (depending on who is offering the dissertation) in “squeaky clean” French oak. A pioneering bottle leading the charging trend to make dry wines from Mavrodaphne. Here so very layered, rich, ferric and in that vein, so very IGT. The oak is judged with a direct gaze into the eyes and density is furthered by demanding Daphne tannin, while flesh and elasticity is the work of the Kalavritino. Like a missile of tannic Syrah with Tuscan like cure in its veins and clotted plasma hanging on its dangling hook. Formidable to be sure. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Domaine Mega Spileo Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Peloponnese, Greece

An internationally stylized red that invokes the highest thoughts of all in, all out hedonism, more so than just about any varietal Bordeaux outside of Napa, Sonoma or the original mother land.

Thirty-two “boom shaka-laka-laka boom shaka-laka-laka” months in new French and american oak will do that, shouting “I want to take you Achaia” and in retort you should plead don’t leave me Achaia dry.

Looking back, in making decisions to make a wine like this, the thought would be “it’s the best thing that you ever had, the best thing you ever, ever had.” Fruit showtime is now fruit showing its age while oak is determined to suspend structure in purgatory. “Ain’t no valley low enough” so this style must have been tempting to have a go at the time, but times are changing. Ain’t no mountain Achaia enough? Not these days. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Cavino Mavrodafne Reserve 2000 (Winery)

“We are about to experience one of the best underdogs of Greece,” says Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. by way of introduction. The world had to wait 18 months plus seven years years for this to appear. A Port-style fortified red, fashioned from the 27 best judged oak barrels and finished in October of 2000. The mix is Mavrodaphne (70 per cent) and Black Corinth (30), expertly amassed and positioned at a time when using the 49 percent maximum allowance of dried raisin was the norm. Ahead of its time in that regards but also because of its rangy acidity, incredible acidity actually, something that gives this dessert wine the essence and spirit of raisin radio. That and a beautiful oxidation and it succeeds in wooing palates, not to mention fulfilling the promise laid bare by Mr. Lazarakis. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis

Achilleos str., 264 42 Proastio, Patras, Greece, 30 2610 420334, info@parparoussis.com

Antanassis Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Athanassios Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Founded in 1974 by oenologist Athanassios Parparoussis who works as winemaker while daughters   Erifili and Dimitra support on the business and marketing side. The winery is located in Patras and the property includes 10 hectares at Movri Achaias. Grapes are farmed organically and Parparoussis is one of only two vintners ion the region making wines from the rare and indigenous Sideritis. Parparoussis farms organically in principal but is not certified, nor is Athanassios concerned with the designation. It’s a matter of being devoutly pragmatic. “The soil is alive, so why kill it.”

Parparoussis Sideritis Dons De Dionysos 2014, Peloponnese, Greece (SAQ 11900995, $21.00, WineAlign)

The 2014 “gift of Dionysus” is herbal, arid, directly unassuming and fixed with a very savoury, nearly resinous pastel palate. The wind blows rosemary and lavender and truthfully it’s like a naturally cured red feeling in a white package. All lemon citrus at the tail. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Rosé “Petite Fleur” 2014, PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece

Just under 300 cases are made of this pale, lithe and prodigiously lithe blush wine, like the Dionysus, made from 100 per cent Sideritis. Skin maceration was performed overnight, “a one night stand,” while indigenous yeast was employed for a natural, dry vinification. The light and rust-directed antiquity of caste excess has caused an exaggerated herbal, namely oregano aroma. The overall feel is suppositious and may just be one of the great Rosé stories ever told. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Les Dons de Dionysus 2010, PGI Achaia, Greece

Barrel Fermented blend of Assyrtiko (75 per cent) and Althorn (25). The first bottle is “not exactly as it should be,” oxidized and unpropitious, while the second pour much less so. In fact it tethers and teeters beautifully near that edge, on that razor the small creature walks, in a Dylan “what’s a sweetheart like you” way. So much more gumptive, anti-preemptive of depth, perception and possibility. Striking in its layering, stinging pierce of Assyrtiko with a suction of Althiri authority. Climbs upon itself and lingers in the air. “It’s done with a flick of the wrist.” Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Reserve Epilegmenos Oenos 2010, PDO Nemea, Greece

Further afield south in the Peloponnese comes this 100 per cent Agiorgitiko. The first bottle has a lactic-cheesy flaw, as if acetate of a mercaptan. One man’s flaw is another man’s history so the question does beg, was this meant to be? A winemaker’s intention? Apparently not. The second bottle, while still blessed of of a definite funk but one that is cleaner, unturned, a washed rind. So very dry. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Rose Petite Fleur 2014 and Taos 2010

Parparoussis Rose Petite Fleur 2014 and Taos 2010

Parparoussis Taos 2010, PGI Achaia, Greece

A barrel fermented, dry vinified, 100 per cent Mavrodaphne. Naturally pitchy, high in acidity and purposed in tannin. A rare zero dilution at the hands of Black Corinthian Raisin and therefore not so high in alcohol, despite the richness of hue. Actually has a modern next tier level of complexity, complexion and aromatic intensity. Purple flowers and plum swirl in its circuitous, cycloid multiplicity. The savoury, resinous black bay laurel and chalky, cooked lentil, the grill and its smouldering charcoal are all in. Further resinous of bay oil on the back bitters and a very Tentura finish. Wild, sauvage, beautiful and built for the ling haul. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Paparoussis Mavrodaphne of Patras Reserve 2003, PDO Patras, Greece

Vin Doux Nature poured from a 500 mL bottle, at 19 per cent, this is intensely nutty, of crème caramel and Cassis together as one. A marriage of godly sanctified vin santo cordial, with quite the balance from a brilliant vintage. There is heat that never burns, and a piquancy that offers no needed warning, Mavrodaphne of an aged, expertly developed expression. Such bitters at the finish end with wow. Drink 2015-2023.  Tasted July 2015

Paparoussis Muscat of Rio 2010, PDO Rio Patra

The sugar here is a strapping 160 g/L and the cost 15 euros for a 500 mL bottle. A vin de paille with so much more delicacy, structure and elegance and at only 13.5 per cent, a remarkable wine. Spice and relish is so smothered, coddled and pampered. The length is incredible. This is remarkable dessert wine with all tempos in balanace. Drink 2015-2030.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos (Rouvalis)

Selinous, 25100 – Aiyion, Greece, 30 2691029415, info@rouvaliswinery.gr.

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign's DJ Kearney

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign’s DJ Kearney

Eonologist is Angelos Rouvalis, a winemaker with an encyclopedic knowledge of every hill and slope in the mountains above Patras and where each variety grows best. Established in 1990 by Rouvalis, a Bordeaux-trained winemaker, recognized internationally as a pioneer in the renaissance that has taken place in the Greek wine industry in recent years. In 1994 Yannis Karabatsos, an agricultural engineer and expert in Greek viticulture joined the winery. “The Oenoforos winery consists of five levels on the slopes of Aigialeia in the village of Selinous. It combines monastic simplicity with state-of-the-art technology.”

Oeneforos Roditis ‘Asprolithi’ 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 978197, $16.50, WineAlign)

The “white stone” could be considered the Pinot Grigio of Greece though the pink-skinned variety grown here between 800-1000m is such a bleed of high altitude calcaire. An amalgamated, aromatic accumulation is all about citrus without the airs of pierce and secondary sandarac meets kedros that reminds of clementine. At 11.5 per cent alcohol and low pH it might confuse for Trocken Riesling if not for its classic herbiage and austerity. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Chardonnay Ianos 2009, Peloponnese, Greece

So buttered and creamy, in condition of its two years in oak. Age has delivered corn to popcorn. It’s both unambiguous and atypically Peloponnese, if certainly symptomatic of Chardonnay in a diaspora that veers from its regional path. Like the oak of all clothed Chardonnays, expect the excepted and drink up. Drink 2015-2016. Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Cabernet Sauvignon Ianos 2004, Peloponnese, Greece (SAQ 11607342, $22.95, WineAlign)

A current release, all in Cabernet Sauvignon 10 plus years down its road after two years in French oak. A bold and state-of-the art for its time cool-climate take, with a clear and ad hoc Sonoma-like intention, with attitude out of altitude despite ’04’s nothing but average growing season. Herbaceous and currant direct Cabernet with plenty of fruit that has remained true and in the bottle. Sweet scents, floral and red citrus and expressly, naturally Greek. Red fruit from red soil. Has a natural, slightly oxidative cure that has emerged out of that oak shell. Strikes as a wine that needed this extended held-back time to get to this place. The palate’s fruit is dried and saline now, with tannin insistent in persistence. Rich but not nearly so, a gently rolling and evolving Cabernet with life in it yet, though the raisin character suggests now is better than tomorrow. Not so much mythologically invented, as it is internationally purposed, so it’s more a matter of higher and lower. The wine’s universe is a flat disc with hills, touched at its rims by the vast dome of the heavens. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Oeneforos Rosé Mikros Vorias 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

Syrah with Viognier and Roditis. A layer upon layer blush combing of dry extract over full extract. Another example of the region’s ability to achieve Rosé excellence and the practice should both be encouraged and expanded upon. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Oeneforos Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc Mikros Vorias 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

The white blend representation for the house line of fresh and direct wines translates to “small northern wind,” and here the SB sticks out like an Achaian thumb, dominating the nose with grass and capsicum. It’s toasty and almost Pouilly-Fumé smokey mixed with a pinch of Fuissé. The identity quandary brings Galician Albariño to mind, seen in the spirited almost effervescent tinniness. Very lime palate and fast forwards to stage right, running all the way. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Mikros Vorias 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

Rusty and cured, just not quite ripe red plum, from a 60-40 combo, with a healthy level of veneer. Has gumption, pierce and a citrus red bleed. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Asprolithi 'White Stones' 2014 and Syrah Ianos 2007

Oenoforos Asprolithi ‘White Stones’ 2014 and Syrah Ianos 2007

Oenoforos Syrah Ianos 2007, Peloponnese, Greece

Ferric, volatile, bretty but believe me when I say, all in a good way. The lingering meaty chew and porcine Mulligatwany is the expatriate Syrah equivalent of high gastronomy. A wild and wooly match to the Beef Stifado at To Katafygio. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Vineyards

25008 Vassiliko Chalandritsas, Patra, 30 2694061447, info@antonopoulosvineyards.com

The winery was founded by the late visionary winemaker, Constantinos Antonopoulos near the city of Patras in the northwestern of Peloponnese. Constantinos saw the vast, untapped potential of this diverse landscape, especially the mountainous region of Achaia and the unique winemaking opportunities it presented. A new up to-date winery has been built recently at Vasiliko, Achaia, where the majority of the winery’s vineyards are. Indigenous Greek varieties are the focus. All three Antonopoulos wines tasted at the winery Achaia Clauss were clearly achieved through very serious work. Though clean beyond the pale, they all exhibit slightly to more than leesy and all finish with so much salinity and limestone inflection. The only thing missing is the crustaceous accent.

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Moschofilero 2014, PGI Arkadia, Greece

A rich, striking, citrus Moschofilero with a beautifully severe tannic tang and many layers, scraped from a stone’s bleed and a gaze into the rock’s mirror. A wine akin to a creation of a true alphabet, made complex like the dactylic hexameter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Adholi This White 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Essential and pedigreed blend of Lohorthi 65 per cent), Chardonnay (20) and Roditis (15) that expresses increased aromatics much like Viognier. Nearly profoundly tropical but so very dry, like Assyrtiko in its cracking open but with the feel of wild yeast and the feign of barrel. Chalk it up to 800-900m clay-limestone speak and no more than that, creasing to a crisp effervescence without bubble, yet it does tingle of the tongue. Like it’s working all the while, then on to citrus on the end, in lemon and lime torque as if by Riesling. The Moschofilero might be Mycenaean Linear B and this the other, later Greek alphabet. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Malagousia 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

From sand and clay vineyards in the region of Aghios-Athanasios at a height of 600-900m. Picked late near the end of September to early october and cocrete and thought the ferment is a stainless one, this Malgousia exhibits a natural yeasty funk commingling with moving texture and savour that incorporates grasses. The sting of nettle wins over the softness and spumes a hay fever of grass. A warming, adult of a wine, with some power to age. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Winery

Korinthou 121, Aigio, Greece, 30 26910 28062, info@acheonwinery.gr.

Sosanna Katsikosta is Oenologist and General Manager while Katerina heads up business and marketing operations. The sisters are carrying on a winemaking tradition passed on to them from their late father. Konstantinos Katsikostas carried the torch from his father Luke who founded the winery in 1946 in the area of Palaiokamares of Aegio. Annual production of 2,000 cases. Katsikosta is desperately, passionately practicing, experimenting, trying to stir up vinous ghosts and find their way back to ancestry, to ways of elders, to bring to light what used to be and to establish an identity for the world to see.

Acheon Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece

A quintessential “Fox” Roditis, from low yields (40 hL/L), 900 m above sea level, in organic balance at 12 per cent alcohol. A distinct stone tang, push, pierce and a slight tingle or fizz on the tip of the tongue. Highly concentrated out of an elevated dry extract, with mineral and lemon. One of the more expressive push-pull of fruit and mineral. For everyday consumption with a bit of honey in its two to three year future. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Sideritis 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

The nearly extant one, a rare variety, being revived, planted at low altitudes, with yields 70-75 hL/L. Aromatic and misunderstood, with a Savagnin character, a funky, musky skin, like leather but not as deep, yet something oddly tropical, like jackfruit, or gummy bear, dusty ginger, and resin, like thyme. Another variety being worked with to see what it can be and to link back to what once was. Really good acidity. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Sideritis 2014 and Rose Fairytale 2014

Acheon Sideritis 2014 and Rose Fairytale 2014

Acheon Moschato 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

A banana and metal White Muscat, with plenty of herbal qualities, terrific saline and stony acidity dominating the palate. A medicinal grapefruit chew, not of pith, but of skin. Arid as a grove in wind and finishing with good length. Very interesting. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Laura Nera 2012, PGI Eigialia Slopes

Mavrodaphe and nothing but, vinified dry, subjected to no aging. The smell of bay laurel (thus the varietal name) and fashioned for freshness. Still in command of a musty emmision this one, a strange cure, like some cool-climate, winter hardy hybrids, like Maréchal Foch and Frontenac. Perhaps a touch warmer, like opening the doors to Pinotage without the toast and the oak to fill and sweeten the green, reductive gaps. Has the roadhouse blues so “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.” Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Rosé Fairytale, Peloponnese, Greece

A semi-sweet Rosé composed from 90 per cent Muscat co-fermented with 10 per cent Mavrodaphne. Dessert of blush hue and sappy, leesy, medicinal bitters. Very orange rind and chlorite, somewhat port-esque but so much more a tisane of pekoe and cough elixir. Totally off the charts different. Really like nothing tasted before. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Wines of Parparoussis, Loukatos and Kontrotsos, Parparoussis Winery, Patras

Wines of Parparoussis, Loukatos and Kontrotsos, Parparoussis Winery, Patras

Kotrotsos

Vassiliko Achaias TK. 25008, 30 26940 61 900, vinko@otenet.gr. Winemaker is Giannis Kotrotsos.

Kotrotsos Erasmios Moschofilero 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

An unctuous, ambrosial Moschofilero, highly aromatic, of citrus and orange grove. A 12.5 appealing alcohol per cent and surround sound of acidity, good length and a bitter ending that follows a twinge of steely crick. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Muscat NV, PDO Muscat of Rio Patras

Also based on the 2013 vintage and c charging in at 15 per cent alcohol, here there is more rust, funk and metal, certainly not as fruit forward as expected. Sweetness is elongated, stretched and elastic, then snaps back to linear and upright. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece The standard 15 per cent alcohol and in this plugged in, short fuse sweet wine is highly intense and lit caper green, dried fruit and a serious pasticcio of botanicals, distilled into a major excitative and concentrated sweetness.  The second bottle tasted has so much more life and character. Much more sweet floral attractiveness and the sweetness is less pronounced as a result. Goes from spice and piquancy to sweetness with the right transitory methodology, culminating in a great LBV Port finish. Nutty and spicy. Tremendous fruit forward expression.  Drink 2016-2024.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Chardonnay Oinos Aekos 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Combinbes barrel and resin for a full on savoury effect and so much noticeable, piercing grape tannin. Fierce, uncompromising, non-integrating invaluable invalid of tannin. So very cool climate savoury Chardonnay. Striking actually and a very acquired taste. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Agiorgitiko Erasmios 2012, Nemea, Greece An intoxicating perfume, of violets and charcuterie, floral and cure, vegetative and saline. Lactic, talcy, opaque and dusty, like Cabernet Franc from the coolest locale. Finishes saline again, chewy even. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Karelas Winery

Georgios J. Karellas A.V.E.E, 41-43, Skagiopouliou Str., Patras, 262 22, 30 2610 321 000, karelas7@hotmail.com

Karelas Winery was founded in 1936 by Georgios Karelas. Using the native ‘Mavrodaphne’ grape, the company is renowned for it’s sweet, dessert style Mavrodaphne wine.

Karelas Pelagos 2013, PGI Achaia, Greece

Merlot and Mavrodaphne share the cure and the veneer of a strange bedfellow blend, the old and the new, the rust and the dust, the red and the black, the visitor and the been there done that. Tough acidity and tannin over red citrus fruit. Not shy. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Karelas Achais 2013, PGI Achaia, Greece

Cabernet Sauvignon and Mavrodaphne smothered in more  obvious oak, though less tension and demand. A softer wine in using Cabernet over Merlot, ripened easier, better, with a second gear and then  into acidity mode. Again the cool climate veneer with a warm, savoury, minty middle. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Karelas Mavrodaphne Reserve 2009, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

The only Mavrodaphne aged in highly seasoned toasted new French barrels. The standard weight bearing 15 per cent alcohol and a similar feeling as with previous kicks at the sweet Mavrodaphne can, but more red fruit and brighter raisins in the sun. The spice and liqueur here seem less spirited and combine for a more mature, seasoned, reasoned, direct and ultimately cleaner expression. Captain Jack (or George) will get you Achaia tonight “and take you to your special island.” Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Loukatos

Loukatos Bros, Β 3 & ΟΤ 24, Industrial Zone Patra 25018 Achaia / Patra, Greece, 30 2610 647588,  info@loukatos.com.gr

Perhaps most famous for their local production of spirits, namely Tentura and Mastic, Loukatos does a bang up job with dessert wines, especially in their handling of Muscat from Patras.

Loukatos Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

Vin de liqueur clocking in at 15 per cent alcohol. The dried roses and red flowers in liqueur link it to the likes of a Late Bottle Vintage Port. Wakes with a start, in sting and presence. Really lingers, tasting of blanched nuts and Halls mentholyptus. This batch was blended with 47 percent corinithian grape. The finish is so Manischevitz. Drink 2015-2023.  Tasted July 2015

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat NV, PDO Muscat of Patras (WineAlign)

A 15 per cent abv Vin de Liqueur largely based on the 2013 vintage. Very clementine and apricot nosed, impeccably balanced from viscous to intensity in grape, with nothing musty or musky about it, though there is a musk melon sense, a botrytis that is very clean. Another excellent, natural sweet Patras example of what Muscat can do, again at super low cost, with high flavour and here, more fruit forward than the Kotrotos. Drink 2015-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Hahalis (Chahalis) Mavrodaphne 2011, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

Spent one year in barrel, the Tentura Castro “The Castle” is raisined and resinous with so much heavy artillery and coats of armour. The macro intent so black and porous, oxidative but alive, heavy and warm in alcohol but spirited and shooting cupid’s arrows. Sweet and Amarone trophy in a sense, with licorice and spice unlike anything else. Idiosyncratic to the nth degree. Drink 2015-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

From a lot penned Bin 601 at the standard 15 per cent alcohol and acting like it came from a 100 year-old barrel, of sitting bull wisdom and Bavarian history. Much like port, like brandy spirits and liquorice melting into cinnamon and clove. Not so idiosyncratic but resinous, sappy and piquant. Once you come to know these wines they speak this very direct language. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Patraiki Mavrodpahe NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

A direct, rich, full-bodied leathery red of fruit the same that soaks in simple, sweet liqueur. The most accessible, commercial macro-intention of the black laurel lot. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Crisis? No one’s gonna bring Greece down, nor me neither, ’till I again reach Achaia ground.

Good to go!

http://www.winealign.com/profile/2058-mjg

Till I reach Achaia ground

View of the mountains of Achaia from Tetramythos Winery and Homestay, Ano Diakopto of Aegialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, Peloponnese

View of the mountains of Achaia from Tetramythos Winery and Homestay, Ano Diakopto of Aegialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, Peloponnese

as seen on WineAlign

Man I wish I was there right now. Have you recently pondered or are you considering a visit to Greece? Have the sensational media reports of the last month cast a shadow of doubt on your travel plans? Are you worried about economic crises, ATM line-ups, looting and civil unrest? Don’t be. Do not fall victim as prey to dictum on what you or those who are telling you really do not know. You should go. Greece is just fine thank you very much. She welcomes visitors with open arms. This is what she wants and what she needs.

Crisis, what crisis? 

I am no John Maynard Keynes, have never rooted with Milton Friedman and can’t confidently say that my economic stars align with Paul Krugman, but on my recent trip to Athens and Achaia I saw nary a sign of unparalleled and utter economic disaster, of panic, anarchy or civil disobedience. I had many a conversation about government, taxes and the Euro. I learned that no is the new yes, “but whatever…” and that Greek wine aligns with the functions of the European union.

Write your problems down in detail Take them to a higher place

I am inclined to say, with indubitable and unequivocal doubt that Greece is the safest, most affordable and stupidly beautiful place on the planet. There is adventure, breathtaking vistas and scarcely, if commensurately discovered antiquity at every turn. And there is wine. Exceptional wine. Singular wine. Mythological wine. I can tell you five things I learned about the 21st century state of things Greece.

  1. Athens is a busy, hot, labyrinthian metropolis that somehow feels like an ancient village. It may just be the most unassailable and secure Gotham I have ever encountered. It did not leave me tired, on the contrary, it fuelled invigoration.
  2. Encounters with beautiful, nurtured and erudite folks along the course of a given day affords an equipotentiality to reaffirm faith in humans. Doors are always open.
  3. Bad governance may lead to civil jeremiad and global media strategies built upon the inevitable crumbling foundations of sensationalism and hyperbole, but Greece’s main concern is just that. Bad governance. Business carries on as usual, albeit with a noticeable reduction in smoking and petrol usage, but restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and shopping are not on hold. Centuries have seen such woe and yet Greece persists, remains and progresses. “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” America may have long ago entered its Last Great American Whale period but Greece? Not even close. “They say things are done for the majority” and in the case of Greece, that just may be true. In a time of crisis, there are many business opportunists. Hard times? Grow better grapes. Can’t sell them at home? Export more than before and make better money.
  4. The combination of mountains, ocean, beaches and the symbiotic proximity of the appositeness is nothing short of mind-altering, awe-inspiring and soul-asservating.
  5. Forget the idea that Greek wine offers up some of the best values, anywhere. Consider that sort of posturing a given and or inconsequential in consideration of the adage that good wine is good wine, period, regardless of price. The wine producing regions of Santorini (Aegean), Thessaloniki/Naoussa (Macedonia) and Nemea (Peloponnese) have made wide inroads on the global scene. Yet how many of you have ever heard of Achaia and Patras in the northern Peloponnese? It is on the verge of breaking out. Obscurity no longer. Uncertainty be gone.

At the pass

Greece has been mired in waiting, or depending on your level of positivity and how to spin, poised to break out. The Greek wine industry is securely fastened in a place somewhere between the relic glow of early period brilliance and the cusp of legacy defining, career opus penning compositions. It is a work in process and the best is yet to come. The wines of Achaia are entirely indicative of this intellection. Antiquity is an amazing tourist attraction and in Achaia, as in the entirety of Greece, you can’t blink without stumbling upon a metaphorical doric this or an allegorical ionic that. Cradles of civilization just have a certain den xéro̱ ti and Greece is the world super-power. The question begs. How does this apply to wine?

Like so many wine producing nations not called France, Germany or Italy, Greece is poised for modern greatness but it has one distinct advantage. It lays ownership to some absolute conditions that easily separate it from emerging and developing, New World regions, but also from European peers. The first is obvious and that of course is a centuries old tradition of making wine. The second may come as a surprise, especially as it relates to wine. Mythology covets a paradigmatic relationship with Greek culture, however intangible it can be quantified. A visit to Achaia offers tantamount proof of such a notion. This from New Wines of Greece: “The fascinating archaeological sites with the notable museums and the grape-growing and wine-making history directly tied to the myth of Hercules are just some of the attributes that will appeal to those who indulge in wine tourism in the Peloponnese.”

Then there is the confluence from the slopes of Egialia, said to form the centre of the triangle of Ancient DelfiOlympia and Epidavros. It was not long ago that I connected the divine and the allegorical with Greek wine. I quote myself. “Me, I’ll concentrate on the divine mythology of Greek wine, of its place in the fractal world, how it can beautify and simplify, through recursion in dynamic systems, the bleak chaos of wine landscapes. Like the Morai, Greek wines are thread with motherly nurturing. For mere mortals, they direct fate from the birth of their drinking days to death. They are a highly independent bunch, unobstructed and driven by necessity.” It would be obtuse to ignore the hyper-reality of all these extraordinary things, to discount the divined revelation through profound symbols of religious myth. To see the analogy and pertinency with the mathematics of wine; pH, sugar, acidity and alcohol. Not exactly Pythagorean, certainly not Orphic, but mysterious somehow.

The Achaia advantage: From PGI to PDO and endemic varietals

The Peloponnese is located in the southernmost section of continental (western) Greece, its western and northern borders lining the Ionian Sea and the Corinthian Gulf. Homer called it Ampeloessa, meaning “full of vines.” The Achaian advantage is more than just a matter of slope and soil. The Nazi attrocities committed at Kalavryta will always be remembered as the darkest of Peloponnese days but neither war nor Phylloxera has truly interrupted centuries of growth and tradition.

Achaia is one of Greece’s largest wine regions and its 31 wineries accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the national wine output. The mesoclimate of Achaia is determined by a combination of mountain and sea. Erymanthos, Panachaikos and Chelmos range for vines at up to 850m though in Egialia grapes grow as high as 1050m. There are slopes here with a northern aspect, a factor which is not lost on the winemaker in search of cool-climate viticulture. The mountain man of Eigalia Angelos Rouvalis points to the hills and talks of  “a rare terroir, where facing north can achieve a significant drop in temperatures, creating specific vine balances, which is difficult to achieve in other places.” It is also here that the waters of the gulfs (Patras and Corinth) cool and temper the climate. Stronger winds ward off the warmer streams blowing up from Africa, creating a much cooler viticultural area than Patras.

The northern Peloponnese vineyards are divided into four distinct viticultural locales. In the east, in the areas of Egialia (Aegialia) and Kalavryta, the PGI Egialia wines are produced. Egialia’s temperate climate and northerly orientation on (250 to 850m) slopes are protected by the cool summer sea breezes of the Gulf of Korinthos (Corinth). Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He referred to the villages of Egialia as ideal for cultivating vines. Egialia soils vary from white calcareous to fertile sandy loam with good drainage.

It is in Egialia that the endemic white (blush) and highly aromatic variety Roditis ripens ever so gently. The varietal take in the lower (450 to 500m), yet similar climate for the vineyards of Patras makes for wines of fuller body. Lower Patras slopes are positioned for another indigenous grape, the red varietal Mavrodaphne. Traditionally purposed for desert wine, modern usage of the “black” Daphne is happening for dry table wine, as is the black of Kalavryta (Mavro Kalavryta), from grapes grown on slopes close to the tourist town of Kalavryta. The coastal flatlands between Patras and Rio to the east are dominated by the white Muscat. The varietal watch is on for Mavro Kalavryta, a grape that performs like Gamay or perhaps Cabernet Franc. In the hands of a winemaker like Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos it will be a wine to help mark the act of Achaia’s second renaissance. Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. sees it as “the best Gamay that is not Gamay.” This is a man who knows his audience. 😉 This is a grape that will define fresh and further down the Peloponnese road for red wines and begin to separate from itself from other red attempts. It’s future will see the establishment of plots into crus, to make simple fruity reds to drink and also more serious wines, to experiment and to use some older barrels and to envision the future when it has been given some age.

Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. and Sofia Perpera, New Wines of Greece at the Sailing Club Restaurant, Patras

Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. and Sofia Perpera, New Wines of Greece at the Sailing Club Restaurant, Patras

The four officially recognized PDO‘s are Muscat of Patras, Muscat of Rio Patras, Mavrodaphne of Patras and Patras. The first three are produced in the central and western section of Achaia. The local Muscat is known to the world as Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and in Achaia as Moschidi. Under the regulations of both Muscat PDOs the wines may be vin naturellement douxvin doux or vin doux naturel. PDO Patras is made from 100 per cent Roditis, though there are several clones of this variety. Specific clones are generally chosen based on altitude, as each variant has been proven to work on particular slopes. The top wines are produced from a red Roditis, also known as Alepou. The PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras (Fortified, Vin De Liqueur) can be fashioned with up to 49 per cent dried and rehydrated Corinthian Raisin (Black Currant) in the mix.

Black Corinth Grapes

Black Corinth Grapes

Despite the fact that the predominant amount (almost 99 per cent) of Black Corinth ends up in a pouch full of currants, its agricultural significance continues to play a role in the sweet red Mavrodaphne of Patras. Top quality vineyards have historically been cultivated with the Black Corinth because they fetch as much as 300 per cent more money than wine grapes. The bizarre terroir-varietal-trade flow chart is changing for the better but the raisins remain a long way from extinction. Slopes that face the sun perpetuate the propagation. Then there is the unusual scenario of the earthquake factor. “In Patras we are either raisining or shaking,” quips Lazarakis.

Kalavryta Mountain Tea

Kalavryta Mountain Tea

Other white varieties grown in the region include the extremely rare Sideritis (only two producers for the variety that shares a name in common with a flowering plant known as Greek Mountain Tea), Malagousia, Lagorthi, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Other red grapes cultivated include Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The wines of Achaia are built upon an alcohol premise that keeps them stable, in balance and immune from oxidation. Their attitude fights the life work of Louis Pasteur and Jean-Antoine Claude Chaptal. If the wines lost some footing due to the trending towards bacteria and sugar mien, now, with the world peeling back from manipulated wines, the Achaian style is poised to grab their market share.

Accidental tourists at the Archaeological Museum of Patras

Accidental tourists at the Archaeological Museum of Patras

 

Tetramythos

8ο kil. Pounta-Kalavrita, Ano Diakopto, 25003, Greece, 2691097500 The most modern facility in all of Achaia, re-built after a fire destroyed the property more than 10 years ago. Owned and operated by the brothers Aristos and Stathis Spanos.

Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Oenologist since 1999 is Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, a winemaker who may just have been separated from twin Frank Zappa at birth. Located at Ano Diakopto of Egialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, the 14 hectares of vineyards (450-1,000m) are farmed organically (and have been since 1997). Bush vines make up 80 per cent and endemic varieties (85 per cent) cultivated (plus some expatriates) are Roditis, Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc, Mavro Kalavryta, Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The total production is 13,000 cases with export to foreign markets (80 per cent) that exceeds peers by a wide margin.

Ano Diakopto of Egialia

Tetramythos Winery, Ano Diakopto of Egialia

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 12484575, $15.75, WineAlign)

Pulled from four vineyards at 650-850m of altitude and from vines 19-42 years old. No skin contact though it shows a light, slight tinge of colour. Nearly platinum in its yellow hue, perhaps attributed to organics says Papagiannopoulos, Eighty per cent was achieved through natural ferment (with zero malolactic) plus “one tank for security.” Roditis can go clean or develop anti-austerity, texture, viscosity in the direction of a dirty projector. The Tetramythos glides “forward through the clover and the bergamot.” I can see what she’s seeing. Tasting like a leesy ripe peach, this is the best “basic” Roditis tasted in Achaia. Serious match of Aleria Restaurant‘s Sea Bass Tartare. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2008, PDO Patras, Greece

A wine to fulfill the promise of my own personal vindication. I had asked Angelos Rouvalis about laying Roditis down for three to five years or more, to see where it may go and he said, “why?” Here is why. Has fan vaulted to the skies, urged by petrol and a symphony of mythology. Akin and within aromatic mineral reach of Sémillon or Riesling, with just a basal drip of ambrosial, gaseous honey. The green notes (of pea and nettle) are exaggerated but that is attributed to 2008 fruit that may have never been fully ripe. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece

Nothing short of lucent, this friable, direct and crunchy raw Muscat. Effusive of individual vowels and consonants, typically Achaian, extrapolated to Greek in its lambent and inventive simplicity. More glade than wax, it coats with orange and the spirit of lime. So different and yet so familiar, inevitably dry and straight as an arrow. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014 (SAQ 11885457WineAlign)

A terrific example for a grape saved from extinction, Tetramythos owns 1.9 of a total four hectares of MK. Kudos for the effort especially considering the variety is thin skinned, slow to mature and difficult to cultivate. Saw nearly 20 days of skin contact because “the variety dictates the practice,” notes Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. The fruit and bitters express a push-pull of terroir. One of two wineries making dry wines from the endemic variety, here the fresh red grape, the food friendly marker. Here confidently struts modern Achaian winemaking, from the ashes of naturalism and antiquity, the way Gamay or Loire Cabernet Franc are wont to do. Vibrant, with verve and a necessary natural funk. Herbal and with a rub of tomato skin, creamy, cool yet resinous, followed through from aroma to texture. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Domaine Mega Spileo (Cavino)

The domain is set within a dramatically oriented steppe of an amphitheatre, in a bowl beneath the shadow of a 940m rock that houses the great Greek Orthodox monastery of Mega Spileo (Grand Cave). Nowhere else in the Chelmos mountains does monk viticulture resonate as it does here. The great vineyard (Megali Ambelos) perches above the Vouraikos Canyon at 800m of height. The winemaker for the wines of Cavino and Mega Spileo is Stelios Tsiris. Varieties grown since re-planting in 1999 include Mavrodafne, Mavro Kalavritino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Lagorthi, Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Riesling.

Mega Spileo Monastery

Mega Spileo Monastery

Moschato 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Nearly bone dry (4 g/L RS) and well-nigh nicked by acidity (6.2 g/L TA) this is really a true expression of the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, an elegant cold pour into a glass on a breezy, sunny day. Until now Muscat in Achaia “could never look me in the eye” but the flurry of aromatics sing like a songstress in white lace. Its gaze is like lemon and olive oil and its tongue like the sweet wax on the rind. Here the Moschato path has been properly and soulfully taken. Rich in gold, like the kingdom of Agamemnon at Mycenae. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Deus Rosato NV, Peloponnese, Greece

Made from 100 per cent Syrah and slightly sweeter than the Muscat, here at 60 g/L RS. The lees, cheese and funk from Syrah turned to sparkling distracts from the sweetness, sending this to parts of southern France in meditative, Mediterranean, savoire savour faire. Raspberry and cranberry vie for sweet and sour supremacy and the wine actually, seemingly turns dry on the peppery, fizzy, tanky and spirited back side. Never backs down and the last conceit is one of tannin. So much more successful than the Moschato. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Cavino Mavrodafne Reserve 2000 (Winery)

“We are about to experience one of the best underdogs of Greece,” says Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. by way of introduction. The world had to wait 18 months plus seven years years for this to appear. A Port-style fortified red, fashioned from the 27 best judged oak barrels and finished in October of 2000. The mix is Mavrodaphne (70 per cent) and Black Corinth (30), expertly amassed and positioned at a time when using the 49 percent maximum allowance of dried raisin was the norm. Ahead of its time in that regards but also because of its rangy acidity, incredible acidity actually, something that gives this dessert wine the essence and spirit of raisin radio. That and a beautiful oxidation and it succeeds in wooing palates, not to mention fulfilling the promise laid bare by Mr. Lazarakis. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis

Achilleos str., 264 42 Proastio, Patras, Greece, 30 2610 420334, info@parparoussis.com

Antanassis Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Athanassios Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Founded in 1974 by oenologist Athanassios Parparoussis who works as winemaker while daughters Erifili and Dimitra support on the business and marketing side. The winery is located in Patras and the property includes 10 hectares at Movri Achaias. Grapes are farmed organically and Parparoussis is one of only two vintners ion the region making wines from the rare and indigenous Sideritis. Parparoussis farms organically in principal but is not certified, nor is Athanassios concerned with the designation. It’s a matter of being devoutly pragmatic. “The soil is alive, so why kill it.”

Parparoussis Sideritis Dons De Dionysos 2014, Peloponnese, Greece (SAQ 11900995, $21.00, WineAlign)

The 2014 “gift of Dionysus” is herbal, arid, directly unassuming and fixed with a very savoury, nearly resinous pastel palate. The wind blows rosemary and lavender and truthfully it’s like a naturally cured red feeling in a white package. All lemon citrus at the tail. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Rosé “Petite Fleur” 2014, PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece

Just under 300 cases are made of this pale, lithe and prodigiously lithe blush wine, like the Dionysus, made from 100 per cent Sideritis. Skin maceration was performed overnight, “a one night stand,” while indigenous yeast was employed for a natural, dry vinification. The light and rust-directed antiquity of caste excess has caused an exaggerated herbal, namely oregano aroma. The overall feel is suppositious and may just be one of the great Rosé stories ever told. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Taos 2010, PGI Achaia, Greece

A barrel fermented, dry vinified, 100 per cent Mavrodaphne. Naturally pitchy, high in acidity and purposed in tannin. A rare zero dilution at the hands of Black Corinthian Raisin and therefore not so high in alcohol, despite the richness of hue. Actually has a modern next tier level of complexity, complexion and aromatic intensity. Purple flowers and plum swirl in its circuitous, cycloid multiplicity. The savoury, resinous black bay laurel and chalky, cooked lentil, the grill and its smouldering charcoal are all in. Further resinous of bay oil on the back bitters and a very Tentura finish. Wild, sauvage, beautiful and built for the ling haul. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos (Rouvalis)

Selinous, 25100 – Aiyion, Greece, 30 2691029415, info@rouvaliswinery.gr.

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign's DJ Kearney

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign’s DJ Kearney

Eonologist is Angelos Rouvalis, a winemaker with an encyclopedic knowledge of every hill and slope in the mountains above Patras and where each variety grows best. Established in 1990 by Rouvalis, a Bordeaux-trained winemaker, recognized internationally as a pioneer in the renaissance that has taken place in the Greek wine industry in recent years. In 1994 Yannis Karabatsos, an agricultural engineer and expert in Greek viticulture joined the winery. “The Oenoforos winery consists of five levels on the slopes of Aigialeia in the village of Selinous. It combines monastic simplicity with state-of-the-art technology.”

Oeneforos Roditis ‘Asprolithi’ 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 978197, $16.50, WineAlign)

The “white stone” could be considered the Pinot Grigio of Greece though the pink-skinned variety grown here between 800-1000m is such a bleed of high altitude calcaire. An amalgamated, aromatic accumulation is all about citrus without the airs of pierce and secondary sandarac meets kedros that reminds of clementine. At 11.5 per cent alcohol and low pH it might confuse for Trocken Riesling if not for its classic herbiage and austerity. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Vineyards

25008 Vassiliko Chalandritsas, Patra, 30 2694061447, info@antonopoulosvineyards.com

The winery was founded by the late visionary winemaker, Constantinos Antonopoulos near the city of Patras in the northwestern of Peloponnese. Constantinos saw the vast, untapped potential of this diverse landscape, especially the mountainous region of Achaia and the unique winemaking opportunities it presented. A new up to-date winery has been built recently at Vasiliko, Achaia, where the majority of the winery’s vineyards are. Indigenous Greek varieties are the focus. All three Antonopoulos wines tasted at the winery Achaia Clauss were clearly achieved through very serious work. Though clean beyond the pale, they all exhibit slightly to more than leesy and all finish with so much salinity and limestone inflection. The only thing missing is the crustaceous accent.

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Adholi This White 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Essential and pedigreed blend of Lohorthi 65 per cent), Chardonnay (20) and Roditis (15) that expresses increased aromatics much like Viognier. Nearly profoundly tropical but so very dry, like Assyrtiko in its cracking open but with the feel of wild yeast and the feign of barrel. Chalk it up to 800-900m clay-limestone speak and no more than that, creasing to a crisp effervescence without bubble, yet it does tingle of the tongue. Like it’s working all the while, then on to citrus on the end, in lemon and lime torque as if by Riesling. The Moschofilero might be Mycenaean Linear B and this the other, later Greek alphabet. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Winery

Korinthou 121, Aigio, Greece, 30 26910 28062, info@acheonwinery.gr.

Sosanna Katsikosta is Oenologist and General Manager while Katerina heads up business and marketing operations. The sisters are carrying on a winemaking tradition passed on to them from their late father. Konstantinos Katsikostas carried the torch from his father Luke who founded the winery in 1946 in the area of Palaiokamares of Aegio. Annual production of 2,000 cases. Katsikosta is desperately, passionately practicing, experimenting, trying to stir up vinous ghosts and find their way back to ancestry, to ways of elders, to bring to light what used to be and to establish an identity for the world to see.

Acheon Sideritis 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

The nearly extant one, a rare variety, being revived, planted at low altitudes, with yields 70-75 hL/L. Aromatic and misunderstood, with a Savagnin character, a funky, musky skin, like leather but not as deep, yet something oddly tropical, like jackfruit, or gummy bear, dusty ginger, and resin, like thyme. Another variety being worked with to see what it can be and to link back to what once was. Really good acidity. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos

Vassiliko Achaias TK. 25008, 30 26940 61 900, vinko@otenet.gr. Winemaker is Giannis Kotrotsos.

Kotrotsos Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece The standard 15 per cent alcohol and in this plugged in, short fuse sweet wine is highly intense and lit caper green, dried fruit and a serious pasticcio of botanicals, distilled into a major excitative and concentrated sweetness.  The second bottle tasted has so much more life and character. Much more sweet floral attractiveness and the sweetness is less pronounced as a result. Goes from spice and piquancy to sweetness with the right transitory methodology, culminating in a great LBV Port finish. Nutty and spicy. Tremendous fruit forward expression.  Drink 2016-2024.  Tasted July 2015

Karelas Winery

Georgios J. Karellas A.V.E.E, 41-43, Skagiopouliou Str., Patras, 262 22, 30 2610 321 000, karelas7@hotmail.com

Karelas Winery was founded in 1936 by Georgios Karelas. Using the native ‘Mavrodaphne’ grape, the company is renowned for it’s sweet, dessert style Mavrodaphne wine.
Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Karelas Mavrodaphne Reserve 2009, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

The only Mavrodaphne aged in highly seasoned toasted new French barrels. The standard weight bearing 15 per cent alcohol and a similar feeling as with previous kicks at the sweet Mavrodaphne can, but more red fruit and brighter raisins in the sun. The spice and liqueur here seem less spirited and combine for a more mature, seasoned, reasoned, direct and ultimately cleaner expression. Captain Jack (or George) will get you Achaia tonight “and take you to your special island.” Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Loukatos

Loukatos Bros, Β 3 & ΟΤ 24, Industrial Zone Patra 25018 Achaia / Patra, Greece, 30 2610 647588,  info@loukatos.com.gr

Perhaps most famous for their local production of spirits, namely Tentura and Mastic, Loukatos does a bang up job with dessert wines, especially in their handling of Muscat from Patras.

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat NV, PDO Muscat of Patras (WineAlign)

A 15 per cent abv Vin de Liqueur largely based on the 2013 vintage. Very clementine and apricot nosed, impeccably balanced from viscous to intensity in grape, with nothing musty or musky about it, though there is a musk melon sense, a botrytis that is very clean. Another excellent, natural sweet Patras example of what Muscat can do, again at super low cost, with high flavour and here, more fruit forward than the Kotrotos. Drink 2015-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Old cask and young DJ Kearney at Achaia Clauss, Aigialia, Achaia

Old cask and young DJ Kearney at Achaia Clauss, Egialia, Achaia

Crisis? No one’s gonna bring Greece down, nor me neither, ’till I again reach Achaia ground.

Good to go!

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