Showing posts with label france. Show all posts
Showing posts with label france. Show all posts

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  • Wednesday, October 23, 2019

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut L'Esquerda 2018 (Roussillon) - Wine Review



wine review is this lovely red wine from the highly-acclaimed house of M. Chapoutier. While this is the 2018 vintage, the 2017 vintage will arrive on shelves at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

The story of M. Chapoutier begins in 1808, when Calvet et Compagnie was created in the Rue de l’Hermitage in Tain. In 1855, ownership was transferred to Octave Calvet and Frédéric Vogelgesang until it was purchased by Rodolphe Delépine in 1883. The Chapoutier name enters in 1897, when Marius Chapoutier joined forces with Rodolphe Delépine to found the company Delépine et Chapoutier. After Delépine retires in 1922, the company is renamed to Chapoutier et Compagnie and Marius creates the new Chapoutier winery in 1929 at the foot of the Hermitage hill. After Marius' death in 1937, his son Marc takes over the family business and in 1955 changes the name to M. Chapoutier, the name it still bears today.

In 1990, winemaker Michel Chapoutier asked for and received control of the company from his grandfather Marc. At this time, he also began applying biodynamic cultivation techniques. Expanding from the Rhône Valley, Michel acquired his first estate in the Roussillon area of France in 2000.

Domaine de Bila-Haut was founded by Chapoutier in Latour-de-France and the vines of the Bila-Haut and Occultum Lapidem wines became the first expression of this terroir. Years later, the L’Esquerda red wine was created from vines near the village of Lesquerde, which is located at 350 metres altitude some 15 kilometres west of Bila-Haut. The terroir here is steep with craggy limestone, arid soil, and is battered by the Tramontane northern winds.

Michel Chapoutier has earned a reputation for producing wines that are highly representative of where they are grown - offering a true snapshot of the terroir. He is also known for being a generous person with a human approach to business, becoming the first in the industry to include braille on all of his product labels in 1996.

Today, Michel and his wife Corinne are joined by their children Mathilde and Maxime - whose names by no coincidence also start with 'M'. Together, they continue to perpetuate the tradition of the family business and philosophy by creating wines based on the concept of 'terroir', while also helping make M. Chapoutier one of the most admired brand names in French wine.

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut L'Esquerda 2018 (92 pts)

Tasting Note:

DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT L'ESQUERDA 2018 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Lesquerde, Midi, France (#381020) (XD) - $27.95
This blend of mainly Syrah with Grenache and Carignan in support was aged in concrete vats for 7-8 months has a complex stream of wild dark berry, plum and garrigue aromas accented by meaty, spice, mineral, earthy, and floral characters wafting out of the glass. It is full bodied, dense, and chewy with ripe, structured, and finely-grained tannins that are a bit chalky textured. Scorched earth and touches of herbal notes join the fine aroma replays on the flavour profile, lifted by fresh, mouthwatering acidity. Mineral and scorched earth notes linger on the juicy finish, with excellent length. Has the stuffing to drink well over the next 7-8 years. Highly recommended buy. Score: 92 pts


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  • Wednesday, October 23, 2019

October 26, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: France vs. Italy + Wine & Cheese

LCBO Wine Picks: October 26, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The October 26, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release compares and contrasts France and Italy in its main theme, while the mini-theme looks at wine and cheese pairings. All of the wines featured as part of themes, as well everything else from the Main Release will arrive on shelves by Saturday. This is another Release where you'll want to stock up for the holidays or pick up special bottles for holiday gift-giving.

We'll begin with the main theme that compares wines from the two titans of the wine world - France and Italy. There are twenty-two wines featured as part of this theme, eleven from each country, and seven are included among my top wine picks. From the first category on Traditional Method sparkling wines, we have a lovely Bollinger Champagne that consists of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier. From the Classic Premium Grape category, there is a fine Barolo that is made with the Nebbiolo grape. The Southern Values category features a nice Côtes du Rhône that consists of equal parts Syrah and Grenache, plus some Mourvèdre. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines are actually made using the same grape, but often in different styles, hence the distinction in name. In this Release, there is a fine, dry, quality Pinot Grigio from a place it calls home in northern Italy. The last category focuses on the Revered Regions of Bordeaux and Tuscany. From Bordeaux, we have a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru that is a blend of roughly 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tuscany also makes some fine Bordeaux blends, such as the baby Ornellaia that consists of 54% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. Lastly, the Chianti Classico, which is also from Tuscany, is made with 100% Sangiovese and reminds me a little bit of a wine from Montalcino.

Le Serre Nuove Dell'Ornellaia 2017 (92 pts)Castello di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015 (91 pts)

Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône 2017 (89 pts)

From the feature on wine and cheese pairings, which can be done year-round but becomes especially popular during the holidays. Of the nine wines featured, just one is included among my top wine picks - a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Niagara's Thirty Bench. There is also an excellent Masi Amarone (#548677) included as part of this theme, but I didn't include it in my list below because you would have probably bought it when it came out in VINTAGES last year. You can read more about wine and cheese pairings in the magazine.

My red wine picks include an unoaked blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 5% Carignan from Languedoc, while the Spanish red is a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena (Samsó), Syrah, and Merlot. From France, the Beaujolais is made with Gamay, while the Roussillon red is a blend of mainly Syrah with Grenache and Carignan in support. Lastly, the iconic Sassicaia is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.

Most of my white wine recommendations happen to be minimally oaked Chardonnays. However, Flat Rock's Unplugged Chardonnay is actually an unoaked Chardonnay, while the Umbrian white is a blend of mostly Chardonnay and some Grechetto. There is also a white blend of Loureiro and Alvarinho from Portugal.

Maria Papoila Loureiro/Alvarinho 2018 (88 pts)

Among my sparkling wine picks, the Tasmanian Brut Rosé is primarily Pinot Noir, with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier completing the blend, while the Cava is a blend of indigenous varietals Macabeo (67%) and Parellada (33%). Lastly, the Dom Perignon is a traditional blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Jansz Premium Sparkling Rosé (90+ pts)Segura Viudas Heredad Reserva Brut Cava (90 pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • LES DARONS 2017 - AP Languedoc, France (#448464) (XD) - $16.95
  • XAVIER VIGNON CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2017 - AP, France (#297317) (XD) - $16.95  89 pts  wine review
  • VAUCHER PÈRE & FILS FLEURIE 2016 - AC, Beaujolais, France (#534339) (XD) - $16.95
  • CHÂTEAU LAMARTINE PRESTIGE DU MALBEC 2015 - AP Cahors, Southwest, France (#010315) (XD) - $17.95
  • POTENTE 2016 - DO Montsant, Spain (#010682) (XD) - $18.95
  • PETER LEHMANN THE BAROSSAN SHIRAZ 2017 - Barossa Valley, South Australia (#522235) (XD) - $21.95  89 pts  wine review
  • CASTELLO DI BOSSI C. BERARDENGA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#994608) (XD) - $22.95  91 pts  wine review

  • TINTO NEGRO FINCA LA ESCUELA LA PIEDRA MALBEC 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#010443) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT L’ESQUERDA 2017 - AC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Lesquerde, Midi, France (#381020) (XD) - $27.95
  • CHÂTEAU DE SAINT-PEY 2016 - AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France (#011834) (XD) - $34.95
  • BENI DI BATASIOLO RISERVA BAROLO 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#330704) (XD) - $39.95
  • ANTINORI BADIA A PASSIGNANO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#384552) (XD) - $49.95  92 pts  wine review
  • LE SERRE NUOVE DELL'ORNELLAIA 2017 - DOC Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy (#606194) (XD) - $69.95  92 pts  wine review
  • SASSICAIA 2016 - DOC Bolgheri-Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy (#480533) (XD) - $229.95
Antinori Badia A Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2015 (92 pts)Tinto Negro Finca La Escuela La Piedra Malbec 2016 (90 pts)

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2017 (89 pts)

White Wine:

  • MARIA PAPOILA LOUREIRO/ALVARINHO 2018 - DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (#408146) (XD) - $16.95  88 pts  wine review
  • FLAT ROCK UNPLUGGED CHARDONNAY 2018 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#068015) (XD) - $17.95
  • ZUCCARDI Q CHARDONNAY 2017 - Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (#232702) (XD) - $19.95
  • THIRTY BENCH WINEMAKER’S BLEND CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#547877) (XD) - $19.95
  • NALS MARGREID PINOT GRIGIO 2017 - DOC Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy (#290924) (XD) - $19.95
  • CAMPBELL KIND WINE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#010556) (XD) - $19.95
  • HENRI BOURGEOIS LA CHAPELLE DES AUGUSTINS SANCERRE 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#322628) (XD) - $39.95
  • BACHELDER WISMER VINEYARD #1 WINGFIELD BLOCK CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#520403) (XD) - $47.95  FE
  • HAMILTON RUSSELL CHARDONNAY 2018 - WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa (#931006) (XD) - $47.95  FE
  • CASTELLO DELLA SALA CERVARO DELLA SALA 2017 - IGT Umbria, Italy (#512376) (XD) - $74.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • JANSZ PREMIUM SPARKLING ROSÉ - Traditional method, Tasmania, Australia (#037499) (D) - $28.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • SEGURA VIUDAS HEREDAD RESERVA BRUT CAVA - Traditional method, DO, Spain (#558825) (D) - $32.95  90 pts  wine review
  • BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE - AC, France (#384529) (XD) - $87.95
  • DOM PÉRIGNON LUMINOUS BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2008 - AC, France (#422584) (D) - $285.95  FE


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  • Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cave de Roquebrun Roches Noires 2016 (Languedoc) - Wine Review

wine review is a lovely red wine from Languedoc that was featured in the LCBO VINTAGES Release and should be arriving on shelves across Ontario within a week or so.

It is produced by the co-operative cellar Cave de Roquebrun that was established in 1967 in the regional park of Haut Languedoc, 30 km northwest of Béziers and between the two regional capitals, Montpellier and Toulouse.

In Roquebrun, the mild climate with relatively arid and acidic soils combined with shale/schist allow different varietals to develop in a particular way in the appellation of Saint-Chinian. The winegrowers of Cave de Roquebrun produce mainly Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc with aim of enhancing the character of their terroir. Through this commitment, the Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun appellation was created in 2004 and subsequently became recognized as a Cru of Languedoc. Cave de Roquebrun manually harvests the grapes for all of their wines by choice. However, according to the decree of 2004, it is noteworthy to know that all Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun appellation wines must be manually harvested.

Cave de Roquebrun Roches Noires 2016 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN ROCHES NOIRES 2016 - AC Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun, Languedoc, France (#251637) (XD) - $22.95
A blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre that was manually harvested from the schist hills of Roquebrun and raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. The medium-high intensity nose delivers enticing aromas of blackberry, schist mineral, and spice layered on top of black pepper and meaty notes. It is medium-full bodied with nicely balanced wild berry, schist mineral, garrigue, black pepper spice, and meaty flavours. Acids are very fresh, while the juicy finish is long, meaty and peppery. Youthful tannins are chalky and quite tight at the moment. Enjoyable now with protein, but will be even better after 2-3 years of tannin integration. Drink into the mid-20's. Score: 90+ pts


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  • Friday, October 4, 2019

Château de la Pierre Levée Révélations d'Hubert de Boüard 2016 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

wine review is a red wine from Bordeaux that arrived at the LCBO recently as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release and is widely available for purchase across Ontario.

This red wine was born out of an exclusive partnership between Yvon Mau and Hubert de Boüard. Yvon Mau has been trading in the wine industry since 1897, while Hubert de Boüard is co-owner of Château Angelus, a Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé producer. Today, the Révélations d'Hubert de Boüard collection of wines is made up of nine châteaux which aim to reveal little-known vineyards with great potential to produce Bordeaux wines that are fruity, balanced, and accessible to all.

The grapes for this particular red wine come mostly from a single block surrounding Château de la Pierre Levée, which is located in the area known as Bazille within the commune of Salles-de-Castillon to the northwest of the appellation. The estate overlooks the vineyard that has perfect exposure to the sun. The name of the château comes from a reference to the imposing two-metre high dolmen that is found next to the vineyard and has been designated a historic monument.

Château de la Pierre Levée Révélations d'Hubert de Boüard 2016 (87 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU DE LA PIERRE LEVÉE RÉVÉLATIONS D’HUBERT DE BOÜARD 2016 - AC Côtes de Bordeaux – Castillon, France (#667147) (XD) - $16.95
A blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from 30-year-old vineyards planted on clay-limestone soils. The nose is fresh and ripe, with medium+ aromatics of plum, blackberry, cocoa, and vanilla wood spice notes. It medium-full bodied on the palate with more black plum, blackberry and wood spice flavours supported by medium-firm, chalky textured tannins that have some grip. Cedar wood and herbal notes come to the fore as it warms in the glass. Acids are fresh and lively, while the finish is juicy with cocoa and wood spice notes, and very good length. Score: 87 pts


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  • Wednesday, September 25, 2019

September 28, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release Wine Picks: Super Euro Signatures + Oregon

LCBO Wine Picks: September 28, 2019 VINTAGES Release
The September 28, 2019 LCBO VINTAGES Release features some top Signature wines from Europe as its main theme, while the mini-theme looks at wines from Oregon. This is the first of what will be some big Releases leading up to the holidays. Thus, if you are looking for fine wines as holiday gifts, or to add to your collection, wines from this Release would be a great place to start. All of the wines from the themes and main Release will arrive on LCBO VINTAGES shelves across Ontario by this Saturday.

From the main theme that looks at eight signature varietals that each do well in a particular region, six of the thirteen wines are included among my top wine picks. We begin with the Albariño / Alvarinho varietal that is widely planted in northern coastal Spain and northwest Portugal, as is the case with the Albariño wine from Spain and Alvarinho wine from Portugal in this Release. Try both to compare. Sangiovese is most associated with wines from Tuscany, and the example in this theme is a fairly tannic Riserva Chianti Classico that is actually a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon that needs a few years of cellar time for optimum enjoyment. Grenache is one of the principal grapes in the South of France, and is the dominant varietal in the Sobilane, which is a 60/40 blend of Grenache and Syrah. Lastly, Nebbiolo is the king of Piedmont, and in this Release we have a lovely Barbaresco and a very age-worthy Barolo.

Damilano Liste Barolo 2013 (93 pts)Michele Chiarlo Reyna Barbaresco 2015 (91 pts)

Rocca delle Macìe Famiglia Zingarelli Riserva Chianti Classico 2016 (90 pts)Sobilane Grenache/Syrah 2015 (89 pts)

Deu La Deu Alvarinho 2018 (89 pts)

Amazingly, none of the eight wines featured from the mini-theme on Oregon wines are included among my recommendations.

Red wines from the main release include the Chianti Classico that is made with 100% Sangiovese, while the Bolgheri Super Tuscan is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. From Argentina, the red wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Lornano Chianti Classico 2015 (89 pts)

Among my white wine picks from the rest of the Release, all are once again single varietal wines. The Pouilly-Fuissé from Burgundy is one of three Chardonnay wines to try. For sweet wine lovers, look for, in order of least to most sweetest, the Niagara Riesling, the Gewurztraminer from Alsace, or the Riesling Kabinett.

Domaine Béranger Pouilly-Fuissé 2016 (91 pts)

Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2017 (91 pts)Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2016 (92 pts)

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this Release! Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • DOMAINE GOURON CHINON 2018 - AC, Loire, France (#470963) (XD) - $17.95
  • SOBILANE GRENACHE/SYRAH 2015 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#010337) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • LORNANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#211599) (XD) - $18.95  89 pts  wine review
  • WAKEFIELD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#744235) (D) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • ECHEVERRÍA ELEMENTOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#010764) (XD) - $19.95  88 pts  wine review
  • FINCA FLICHMAN PAISAJE DE TUPUNGATO 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina (#415034) (XD) - $19.95
  • ROCCA DELLE MACÌE FAMIGLIA ZINGARELLI RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2016 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#930966) (XD) - $24.95  90 pts  wine review
  • MICHELE CHIARLO REYNA BARBARESCO 2015 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#583260) (XD) - $36.95  91 pts  wine review
  • TORRES MAS LA PLANA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - DO Penedès, Spain (#129676) (XD) - $69.95  FE  92 pts  wine review
  • DAMILANO LISTE BAROLO 2013 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#451807) (XD) - $73.95  93 pts  wine review
  • ANTINORI GUADO AL TASSO 2016 - DOC Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy (#986380) (XD) - $134.95
Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)



White Wine:

  • CASTELO DO MAR ALBARIÑO 2018 - DO Rías Baixas, Spain (#488734) (XD) - $18.95
  • ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#225557) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • JULIEN SCHAAL KALEIDOSCOPE RIESLING 2017 - AC Alsace, France (#667535) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • SIMONSIG CHARDONNAY 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, South Africa (#345389) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • DEU LA DEU ALVARINHO 2018 - Monção e Melgaço, DOC Vinho Verde, Portugal (#040642) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • MURÉ SIGNATURE GEWURZTRAMINER 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#387563) (M) - $21.95
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE RIESLING 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#183491) (D) - $24.95  91 pts  wine review
  • EL ESTECO 1945 OLD VINES TORRONTÉS 2018 - Calchaquí Valley, Argentina (#010695) (XD) - $25.95  FE
  • HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#068817) (XD) - $29.95
  • ZELTINGER SONNENUHR RIESLING KABINETT 2016 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#665927) (MS) - $34.95  91 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE BÉRANGER POUILLY-FUISSÉ 2016 - AC, Burgundy, France (#648659) (XD) - $37.95  91 pts  wine review
Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (89 pts)Julien Schaal Kaleidoscope Riesling 2017 (89 pts)

Simonsig Chardonnay 2017 (89 pts)


Sparkling Wine:

  • GARDET MILLÉSIME EXTRA BRUT CHAMPAGNE 2012 - AC, France (#665869) (XD) - $58.95  90 pts  wine review
  • BOLLINGER BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE - AC, Champagne, France (#100503) (XD) - $113.95  FE
Gardet Millésime Extra Brut Champagne 2012 (90 pts)


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  • Thursday, September 5, 2019

Rhône Wine Tour 2018 - Costières de Nîmes (Day 3)

Costières de Nîmes - Château Mourgues du Grès Vineyard
After visits to Luberon and Ventoux, and Cairanne earlier in the week, our focused on the Costières de Nîmes appellation. This region is the southern-most wine-growing region of the Rhône Valley and exhibits a rich history and culture dating back to Greek and Roman times. In the year 280 A.D., the area was replanted with vines after the decree banning viticulture was revoked and is considered to be one of the first winegrowing regions in France. Winegrowing was further encouraged in the 17th century, and became even more important when the Canal du Midi was linked with the Rhône River in the 19th century.

The appellation was known as Costières du Gard when it was granted AOC status in 1986, and only had its name changed to Costières de Nîmes in 1989. In 2004, Costières de Nîmes was moved from Languedoc to the Rhône wine region because the wines were more reflective of the typical characteristics of Rhône than of the Languedoc. Today, Costières de Nîmes produces 8% of the wines from Rhône, of which 35% are rosé and 5% white wines. Like other Rhône AOCs, blending of at least two grape varieties is required. For rosé wines, Syrah is usually combined with either Grenache and/or Mourvedre, and sometimes Carignan and Cinsault. White wines are usually composed of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne, and sometimes Viognier, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Macabeu, and Vermentino (Rolle).

Château de Nages The day began with a visit to Château de Nages, where Tina Gassier, wife of renowned winemaker Michel Gassier, took us through some of their impressive current offerings of white and rosé wines from both Domaine Gassier and Château de Nages labels, and ranged in vintage from 2014 to 2017. They have vineyards in the northern part of the appellation featuring "galets" (i.e. pebbles) that sit atop iron-rich red clay, while some of this area is covered by a thin blanket of loess (wind-blown silt) that is very suitable for white varietals and Syrah. Their Bek Vineyard to the south, which was acquired fairly recently, has a base of chalk and “safres” layers that sit below a layer of red sandstone (iron-rich clay and sand) and is topped by “cailloutis” (pebbles from the ancient Durance River) on the higher elevations. The terroir of the Bek Vineyards changes as you move to lower elevations, with chalk and “safres” layers closer to the surface and topped with a layer of sandy-clay loam, offering freshness and salinity to the wines due to the vineyard being located at a fault line. At the lowest point of the Bek Vineyard, the alluvium soil that sits on top of the chalk and “safres” layer is rich in nutrients and limestone and offers minerality and freshness - white wine varietals are planted here. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, we were not able to see the vineyards, but I can imagine it would have been quite the sight.

The vineyards at Château de Nages have been passed along 4 generations, and the story begins when Joseph Torres purchased the southern Rhône estate during World War II. After the passing of Mr. Torres, his son-in-law, Alfred Gassier, begins managing the property all the while residing in Algeria with his wife. He helps his sons re-construct their lives in France, with the eldest son, Jean Gassier taking the reins and restoring farm while the second son, Roger Gassier, restored the Château and the property. Michel is the great grandson of Joseph and was asked to take over the property in 1993 when his father retired.

Today, Château de Nages has 112 hectares of vineyards. 32% of their production is devoted to rosé wines, while is 16% to white wines, making them one of the larger producers of white wines in Costières de Nîmes. Vineyards are organically farmed, and there is a commitment to protecting the ecosystem and using resources wisely. All of the wines among the half dozen we tasted were delicious, and some were downright excellent. Fortunately for us, these wines do show up in our market from time to time. However, I think I will have to make another trip out to Château de Nages to take a stroll through the vineyards.

Mas Carlot Vineyard

The second stop of the day was meeting Cyril Marès at Mas Carlot - Château Paul Blanc. Upon arriving at the winery, I thought to myself that the buildings looked rather historic. In fact, I learned that the buildings were from the 17th century, remodelled in the 19th century by the Grasset family, and fully restored by Paul Blanc a century later. Roman remains dating back to more than 2000 years old have also been found around the Mas. The visit began with a tour of the vineyards in Cyril's SUV - since it was raining on and off, and we would be able to see more of the 75 hectare property that was littered with round pebbles coloured by the red clay of the Costières, known locally as "Grès".

Cyril Marès, Mas Carlot - Château Paul Blanc After returning to the winery and getting a quick look at the tank and barrel rooms, we began tasting the wines with Cyril. Mas Carlot - Château Paul Blanc is actually the winery of Cyril's wife, Nathalie Blanc-Marès. She is an oenologist and the winemaker at Mas Carlot, and has been running the estate since 1998, following in the footsteps of her father, Paul Blanc. We didn't actually get to meet Nathalie, but Cyril tells us that she prefers to craft her wines in an elegant and fresh style, allowing the wines to express the Domaine's terroir fully. We tasted through the portfolio of whites and rosé wines (5 wines in all) and each wine was delicious and of very good quality. In 2018, Cyril Marès took over complete management of the estate and is currently moving towards organic farming.

The Marès family has a long tradition of winemaking going back centuries. Cyril was born in Nîmes and has always lived between the vineyards and orchards of his father Roger Marès. Mas des Bressades neighbours Mas Carlot and was founded by Roger in 1964. After studying agronomy, viticulture and oenology in Montpellier, Cyril went on to vinify on other continents before returning to Mas des Bressades and taking over the reins in 1996 and becoming the latest of 6 generations to make wine. At Mas des Bressades, Cyril and his small team try with passion to produce ripe and fruity wines. Today, the estate is managed by Cyril's cousin, Alix Marès. The fabulous estate terroir is comprised of Siliceous pebbles which originated from the Rhône River Basin dating back to the Quaternary era and is 6 to 15 metres thick. Roussanne is the most widely planted white varietal on the property, leading to Roussanne-dominate white wines, while the single rosé is a Grenache-led blend. After tasting the yummy wines of Mas des Bressades with Cyril at Mas Carlot, we headed out for lunch.

Cyril Marès

Hotel Restaurant Le Cours was the venue for lunch, a family hotel in Saint-Gilles that offers cultural fare in the tradition of the Camargue. It was a short drive away from Mas Carlot and Cyril joined us. I expected lunch to be on the quiet side, however, it got really interesting after Cyril pulled out 10 whites and rosés for tasting. All of the wines were from various producers in Costières de Nîmes and Cyril did his best to provide some information regarding each of the wines, along with tech sheets that came in handy. A couple of wines, one each from Domaine du Vistre and Château d'Or et de Gueules really stood out for me, and wine reviews of each are provided below.

Garlic Shrimp Entrée at Hotel Restaurant Le Cours

As for lunch, the shrimp I ordered was loaded with garlic and really delicious, but made it a bit difficult for tasting the wines and, of course, it was a little messy. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and would highly recommend this entrée.

Château Mourgues du Grès
We visited the family-owned and -operated Château Mourgues du Grès for the only winery stop of the afternoon - and it was quite the visit! The site is located in Beaucaire on a slope in Costières de Nîmes and is a former 16th century agricultural estate of the Ursulines de Beaucaire. It takes its name from the nuns called "Mourgues" in the Provençal language, and the "Grès" which are the rounded stones found across Costières de Nîmes and give character to the wines from this region. The "grès" were transported here naturally via the River Rhône during the Ice Age. Since the weather had cleared up around here and the ground was fairly dry, owner and vigneron François Collard and his wife Anne gave us a tour of the property, which involved driving up the hill.

François and Anne Collard, Château Mourgues du Grès
The first stop along the way was an ancient Roman archaeological site that was recently discovered while planting a new vineyard. We then drove up to a plateau that featured vineyards with plenty of "grès" on the ground and were also told about Mistral (winds) that plays an important role in winegrowing. The mistral from the north is dry, while the south wind brings moisture from the sea. Together, these winds accentuate the diurnal temperature and brings freshness to the wines. We went further up the hill and got a lovely view of the vineyards below, the town of Beaucaire, and the eastern plateau facing the River Rhône. After the brief tour of the property, we headed back to the tasting room to learn more and taste their portfolio of white and rosé wines.

Of their entire production, 20% is devoted to white wines, which is fairly high among Rhône producers. Château Mourgues du Grès is a certified organic winery, being mindful and respectful of nature and the environment. Since 2015, they have not used sulphur during winemaking (a slight addition of sulphur is added at bottling to ensure stability of the wine). All six wines we tasted were delicious - 3 whites and 3 rosés - ranging in style from fresh and fruity to something more serious for gastronomie. Most of the wines also had a fine mineral element. All in all, I was very satisfied with my visit to Château Mourgues du Grès.

Château Mourgues du Grès

This concludes a fascinating day in Costières de Nîmes, an area rich in winemaking history that goes back more than two-thousand years. The fresh white wines showed fine mineral character thanks to the terroir, while the rosés wines were deliciously fresh and fruity. From here, we moved to Lirac and Tavel the following day as we toured through the southern Rhône Valley.

Tasting Notes:

Michel Gassier Lou Coucardié Blanc 2014 (90+ pts)

MICHEL GASSIER LOU COUCARDIÉ BLANC 2014 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - $35
Bek vineyard. Blend of 50% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, and 20% Viognier grown on galets and sandy limestone soils over beds of safres and chalk. Barrel-fermented and aged on the lees for 9 months. Medium+ intensity nose of lanolin, yellow floral, anise, and herbs. The palate is medium-to-full bodied with a nice mouthfeel and lovely aroma replays that are balanced with fresh acids. Chalky mineral notes appear mid-palate and continue through to the long finish. Score: 90+ pts

Agent: Halpern Enterprises (ON), Le Maitre de Chai (QC)

Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes Rosé 2017 (90 pts)

CHÂTEAU DE NAGES VIEILLES VIGNES ROSÉ 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (#496919) (XD) - $20
A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, the nose is subtle but offers rich cherry and strawberry aromas, while the medium-full bodied palate has nice aroma replays supported by balanced, juicy acids. There's some structure to this dry rosé that has a nice, rich texture. Finish length is very good. A serious, gastronomie rosé. Score: 90 pts

Agent: Profile Wine Group (ON), LCC Vins et Spiritueux (QC)

Mas Carlot La Terre Natale 2016 (90 pts)

MAS CARLOT LA TERRE NATALE 2016 - AP Clairette de Bellegarde, Rhône, France (XD) - 10 €
Neighbouring Costières de Nîmes, this Clairette de Bellegarde appellation wine is 100% Clairette and mostly raised in concrete tanks (20% in oak). This elegant white wine has a medium+ intensity nose that is herbally with lemon oil, citrus, and stone fruits. It is medium+ bodied on the palate with fine minerally and balanced aroma replays and some fennel notes. Nicely textured with succulent acids and long finishing. Score: 90 pts

Agent: Nicholas Pearce Wines (ON)

Mas des Bressades Cuvée Excellence Blanc 2017 (89 pts)

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE EXCELLENCE BLANC 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
70/30 Roussanne and Viognier that was barrel-fermented and aged oak for 5 months. Medium-high, wood-inflected nose of baked pear, white peach, subtle vanilla, and floral aromas. It is medium-full bodied, rounded, and richly structured with oak nicely integrated on the palate. Nice aroma replays and somewhat chalky textured. Balanced acids. Shows impressive complexity and very good finish length. Score: 89 pts

Agent: Vinexx (ON)

Domaine du Vistre Cuvée Gladiateur Rosé 2017 (88+ pts)

DOMAINE DU VISTRE CUVÉE GLADIATEUR ROSÉ 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - 8 €
Blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah from hillside vineyards featuring sandstone and pebbles from the Rhône river, this has a medium-high intensity nose that is clean and fresh with currant, strawberry, mineral, and herbal aromas. Medium-bodied on the very clean palate with fresh acids and nicely balanced aroma replays and a long-lasting finish. Score: 88+ pts

Agent: N/A

Château d'Or et de Gueules Trassegum Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

CHÂTEAU D'OR ET DE GUEULES TRASSEGUM BLANC 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - 14.50 €
Organic and biodynamic blend of 80% Roussanne (barrel-fermented), 10% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Rolle (Vermentino). Barrel ageing evident on the nose, along with clean fresh lemon and herbal scents. It's medium-full bodied, a touch creamy, and nicely textured on the palate with more barrel influenced and pear flavours. Balanced acids. There's some complexity on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Agent: N/A

Château Mourgues du Grès Fleur d'Eglantine 2017 (88 pts)

CHÂTEAU MOURGUES DU GRÈS FLEUR D'EGLANTINE 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - 7.5 €  88 pts  wine review

CHÂTEAU MOURGUES DU GRÈS GALETS ROSÉS 2017 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France (XD) - 7.5 €
Blend of Syrah, Grenache, and 15% Mourvèdre made in the saignee method. Medium+ intensity and fruity with red berry, candied cherry and strawberry aromas. It is medium+ bodied, fresh, lively and dry with nice, fruity aroma replays and some structure. Minerally on the finish, with very good length. Score: 88 pts

Château Mourgues du Grès Galets Rosés 2017 (88 pts)Château Mourgues du Grès Capitelles Blanc 2015 (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU MOURGUES DU GRÈS CAPITELLES BLANC 2015 - AP Costières de Nîmes, Rhone, France (XD) - 16 €
Blend of old vines Grenache Blanc that grow on chalky soils (rare for this appellation), Roussanne, and Viognier, and is barrel-fermented and aged. Pours deep yellow gold and offers a medium-high intensity and slightly mature nose that is waxy with baked apple, white and yellow flowers. It is medium-full bodied and fleshy on the palate with nice aroma replays. Acids are still quite fresh and juicy. Very good length on the limestone mineral finish. Should drink well for another 5 years. Score: 89 pts

Agent: Brand New Day Wines & Spirits (ON)


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  • Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Les Vignerons du Castelas Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2017 (France) - Wine Review

wine review is a nice white blend from Côtes du Rhône that will arrive in LCBO VINTAGES on .

It is produced by the co-operative winery Les Vignerons du Castelas that was formed in 1956 by a handful of winemakers that wanted to pool their efforts to make the most of the land and terroir found in the Côtes du Rhône appellation. The winery is located on the right bank of the Rhône river, between Pont d'Avignon and Pont du Gard in Rochefort du Gard. The name of the winery comes from a Romanesque chapel of the XI century that is perched atop the village.

Today, the co-operative consists of more than 500 hectares of vines, the majority within the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Terroir consists primarily of sandy marls from the Pliocene period and terraces with round pebbles from the Villafranchiennes period on the plateau of the Signargues appellation.

Les Vignerons du Castelas Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2017 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

LES VIGNERONS DU CASTELAS CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC 2017 - AC, France (#142125) (XD) - $15.95
This blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Roussanne, and 20% Clairette has a medium intensity and evolving nose of floral, beeswax, peach, citrus, and grapefruit tones infused with tarragon herbs. It is medium+ bodied with 6 to 8 months of lees ageing adding weight and texture to the dry palate. Clean, lively acids are well-balanced. More floral, beeswax, tarragon and lemon citrus notes on the flavour profile that follow through to the finish with hints of mineral and very good length. Score: 88 pts


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  • Monday, August 26, 2019

Château Hauchat 2016 (Bordeaux) - Wine Review

I tasted the 2011 Château Hauchat nearly 4 years ago, and I opened the 2016 vintage of the same wine that just arrived at the LCBO as part of the LCBO VINTAGES Release.

It is produced by Vignobles Jean-Bernard Saby & Fils at the Hauchat property that is located on a high plateau in the commune of Saint-Aignan, to the west of of neighbouring Pomerol and Saint Émilion in Bordeaux, France. The vineyard of Château Hauchat is facing south and southwest, ensuring ideal sunshine and perfect drainage conditions, while the terroir is very homogeneous with its clay-limestone soils. Lastly, they only grow one grape varietal at Château Hauchat - Merlot.

The Saby family has been making wine in the region for eight generations, combining century-old knowledge with the advantages of modern viticulture. Today, it is owned by brothers Jean Christophe and Jean Philippe who continue the family tradition and hope to pass it along their own children one day.

Château Hauchat 2016 (88 pts)

Tasting Note:

CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT 2016 - AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France (#123489) (XD) - $17.95
This 100% Merlot was aged for 15 months in an equal parts new, 1 year old, and 2 year old barrels. Enticing and complex, this has medium+ intensity aromas of spice mingling with ripe dark berry fruit, wood, and hints of vanilla and plum. It is medium-full bodied on the palate with dark berry, currant, cedar oak, and spice flavours. Acids are juicy while the ripe tannins are quite chalky and a bit tight at the moment. Dark berry, clove spice, and wood linger on the finish, with very good length. I would cellar this for 2 years and enjoy into the mid-20's. Score: 88 pts


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