Bricks Wine Advent Calendar 2017: Day 4

4 12 2017

Well, after a riotously successful guest author turn yesterday, you’re stuck back with me tonight.  Thankfully, there seems to be no “stuck” and no neutral gear in the Bricks Wine Advent Calendar, which just keeps churning out half-bottles of interest on the daily like it’s no big thing.  We’re at 4 for 4 in terms of legitimately interesting, well-made, high-quality, non-seat-filler wines, and I get the feeling there’s going to be 20 more where that came from.  I should have known that tonight’s producer would end up in this calendar, as Beaujolais’ Manoir du Carra (at least in my experience with them) seems to be the king of the small-format wine.  My first interaction with the winery was in the form of a highly rare but utterly magnificent (for those solo wine-drinker households like mine) 500 mL bottling of Cru Beaujolais, a format that I would like every winery in the world to emulate, as it ends up being either a glass-and-a-bit-each weeknight dinner almost-bottle for two or a vinous feast less the hangover for one.  Turns out MdC can bring it in 375 mL format too.

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Tonight’s offering is the 2015 “Montee de la Tonne” (which roughly translates to “The Rise Of The Ton”, which I don’t understand) from Fleurie, which is one of 10 top “Cru” sub-regions of Beaujolais, known for its elegant, almost pretty, wines.  Manoir du Carra owns 50 separate vineyard plots within Beaujolais, and Montee de la Tonne is one of them, a 1.5 hectare micro-plot of 50 year-old wines just recently acquired by the producer that it holds in significant esteem.  Like all red Beaujolais, the wine is 100% Gamay, fermented partly through carbonic maceration (an intra-grape fermentation process spurred by CO2 and an absence of oxygen that enhances bubble-gummy fruit flavours) and then aged in large natural oak barrels for 3-4 months before bottling.

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Cork Rating:  2/10 (Can we all agree to eradicate all “Mis En Bouteille” corks from existence?)

First impressions:  this is a surprisingly deep and vivid purple colour, still mostly transparent but pretty amped up for Beaujolais.  The crisp herbal, floral nose evokes roses (complete with stalks and thorns) and potpourri, softened by felt and spiked with pepper, surrounded by a mist of strawberry and raspberry fruit and just a whiff of banana skins, the latter likely a product of the carbonic fermentation process.  Powdery yet poised on the palate, kept haughty by emery board tannin and piercing rivulets of acid, the Montee de la Tonne flashes class and subtlety with a careful flavour mix of dusty currant, sidewalk chalk, dried flowers, rocks and rain, never quite letting you in but letting you admire its sophistication from afar.  Like a black and white movie star, this is cast in hazy heroic tones, admirable but not fully reachable, a true throwback.

88 points

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It’s probably not what led to the banana skin aromas in this wine, but isoamyl acetate can result in banana smells in some bottles.  The chemistry continues…

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Joseph Drouhin Hospices de Belleville Beaujolais Duet

23 11 2016

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

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Great region, great wines, great story.

A few posts ago I was discussing the intractable dilemma of trying to locate value Burgundy, that nearly mythical beast of the wine world, and I’ve since realized that I neglected to mention the obvious solution to the problem:  just look for Cru Beaujolais.  The Beaujolais region is technically part of Burgundy, located just south of Macon and north of Lyon, and while it can produce its share of forgettable wines, the main difference between Beaujolais and the other zones of Burgundy is that its top wines are shockingly wallet-accessible.  In fact, Cru Beaujolais, wines from one of the ten top quality Cru subregions in the area, might be some of the greatest wine bargains on Earth, pinnacle expressions of a classic grape at absurdly reasonable prices.  Case in point:  the two bottles to be discussed below, which each clock in at $27-$30 retail and which combine old-vine vineyards in top locales, one of Burgundy’s best producers and a hell of a good back story, all for the price of a basic forgettable Bourgogne Rouge.

Unlike the rest of red Burgundy (which is crafted from Pinot Noir), red Beaujolais is made from Gamay, the thin-skinned and light-bodied red grape well known to Canadian wineries whose spiritual heartland lies in this region’s ten Crus.  True story:  Gamay used to be grown all across Burgundy until 1395, when the (likely self-titled) Duke Philip the Bold ordered the “very bad and disloyal plant” uprooted in favour of the more aristocratic and noble-approved Pinot Noir.  His decree was not all that impressively enforced way down in the south of Burgundy, so pockets of Gamay remained in Beaujolais, quietly, until the danger of extermination had passed and the region was officially recognized as a Protected Denomination of Origin.  While it’s true that Gamay may never quite reach the lofty heights of nuance and complexity that Pinot can, it can offer a pretty reasonable facsimile at an absolute fraction of the price. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2008 Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie Poncié

22 07 2011

Confusing label, but quality white wine substitute.

Butter chicken was on the dinner menu tonight, but after having white wine for the last two nights in a row, I didn’t want to have it again, thus depriving me of the most natural spicy food wine pairing (as discussed previously here):  a slightly sweet, lower-alcohol, low (or no) tannin white like a German Riesling (natch) or a Chenin Blanc.  Since tannin and alcohol are notorious enemies of hot and spicy cuisine, I dug around for the red in my cellar likely to have the lowest levels of both, a difficult feat since booze and tannin are two of the hallmarks of most good red wines.  I came up with Beaujolais, a red wine region in the southernmost part of Burgundy in southeastern France that may be the world’s only premium red site focused on making wines from the Gamay grape.  Gamay is an ideal white wine pinch-hitter because it is generally light in body, fairly low in alcohol, and most importantly, extremely low in discernable tannins; it has the fruity punch of a red with the delicacy and texture of a white.  Not to say that it’s a match made in heaven with Indian food, but it stood the greatest chance of not clashing horribly. Read the rest of this entry »





Tips & Tricks: Red Wine with Fish?

23 05 2011

The very first “ironclad” wine and food pairing rule that I was ever told is so ubiquitous that I’m sure you’ve all heard it too:  red wine with meat, white wine with fish.  But is this prohibition on mixing red wines and fish fact or fiction?  As with any good urban legend, it’s a bit of both.

There really is no caption that can improve on this picture.

First the fact:  it is a good idea to avoid pairing particularly oily foods with wines that are high in tannin (for a longer explanation on what tannin is, click here) because the two combine to produce unpleasant metallic or tinny flavours on the palate.  Generally speaking, fish is quite oily as compared to other cuts of meat, and red wines are the most likely candidates to be high in tannin, as white wines usually have little to no detectable tannins; as a result, it is certainly true that some red wines and some fish will not be a happy mix.  The iodine present in fish can also have a similar negative reaction with tannin (and, at least according to this article, the traces of iron in certain red wines will clash with fish), so following the basic “no red wine with fish” rule can help you avoid disastrous gastronomic consequences.

However, it is fiction to say that red wine and fish can never be successfully paired together. Read the rest of this entry »








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