French Wine Connection 2011 Visits Vancouver – Do You Like Organic Wines?

Organic and biodynamic wineries from France were here in Vancouver on November 9 to show what they have to offer to our market. I think organic and biodynamic wines are becoming more well-known and more people are specifically searching for these types of wines.

What are Organic and Biodynamic Wines?

Just in case you are not familiar with these terms, “Organic” wines are wines that are produced from grapes that have been grown without the use of any artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Also in the wine making process, no sulfites may be applied as a disinfectant to the wine bottle.  Biodynamic wines use organic principles, but go even further, into using special preparations (fertilizers) to apply to the vines, no copper sprays are applied to the leaves of the grapes to prevent powdery mildew, and various vineyard tasks are undertaken according to the phase of the moon.  There is much more to biodynamic wine making and viticulture than this, so I refer you to this Wikipedia article on biodynamic wine making.

White Wine Picks

  • Domaine Renaud Boyer Bourgogne 2009 and Saint-Romain 2009

    Domaine Renaud Boyer Bourgogne 2010, Burgundy, France. (organic) Light stone fruit and honey nose. Cinnamon upfront on your palate with red apples mid-palate.  Light body, dry with medium acidity and medium length.  Very nice.

  • Chateau Pouchaud-Larquey 2010, Entre-deux-Mers, France.  (organic) This organic wine won a Silver Medal at the Concours d’Aquitaine des vins issus de l’agriculture biologique 2010. Although the grape varieties are not listed, I would guess that this is a Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc blend, as these are the customary white grapes of the Bordeaux region. This wine had a light stone fruit nose.  High acidity with peach and other stone fruits, and citrus flavours.  It was very fruity with a medium body.
  • Chateau de Lagarde “Cuvee Prestiage” 2009, AOC Bordeaux Superieur, France. (organic) Another Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc blend. Medium lemon in colour.  Honey, stone fruit and oak aromas. Round mouthfeel with medium minus acidity.  Lemon, oak and sweet spice on the palate.  Medium plus length. Very nice.
  • Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura varied vintages

    Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura 1959, Jura, France.  (biodynamic since 2006)) The Jura region is along the eastern border of France. How often do you get a chance to try a 42 year old wine?  I never have.  This is a very cool climate wine made from the Chardonnay grape.  The wines are aged in 4-5 year old barrels and undergoes malolactic fermentation.  This wine was pear skin with a brownish tint. Oxidized nose with honey and caramel aromas.  Medium minus body, with high acid, green apples and caramel flavours.  Wow, a very interesting wine.

  • Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura 2003 “Vin Jaune”, Jura, France.  (biodynamic since 2006) Vin Jaune is also new to me, yet very familiar. If you have tried a fino sherry, Vin Jaune undergoes the same process.  This wine is produced from the Savagnin grape. After fermentation the wine barrels are filled up to the top and allowed to evaporate, reducing the volume in the barrel and a creating an air pocket at the top of the barrel. As the wine oxidizes, it grows a film of yeast that is similar, but not the same as the flor growing on fino sherry. Limpid lemon colour.  Very much a dry sherry / cognac nose.  Also some caramel aromas.  Medium body with oak, citrus, tar, apples and spice.  Very interesting.
  • Chemin de Bassac ISA White, 2010, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. (organic) This is a Roussane / Viognier blend.  Light lemon colour.  Light lemon and stone fruit nose.  Very fruity. Dry but tastes sweet from the fruit.  Citrus, apples and stone fruit flavours.
  • Domaine du Closel Savennieres Le Clos du Papillon 2007, Loire Valley, France. The LoireValley produces Chenin Blanc wines in many styles from still, to sparkling, to dessert.  This wine is a still wine.  Pale lemon, with caramel and oxidized fruit nose. Cinnamon, citrus and oak flavours.  Round mouth feel. Quite elegant.
  • Agence CLVD O by Gilles Louvet Chardonnay 2010, Southern France. Nice colour.  Lemony gold. Light tropical fruit nose. Medium body, round with undertone of acid.  Red apples with some sweet spice and vanilla. Elegant.
  • Lescarret Zacmau 2010, AOC Gaillac (South west), France.  This is made with a little known white aromatic grape called mauzac.  This wine has a nice pear and honey nose. Round with medium minus body, honey, peach and apples.  Medium acidity to keep the wine refreshing.  A real surprising wine and one I would look for.

Red Wine Picks

  • Domaine de Petit Roubie Syrah

    Chateau Pouchaud-Larquey 2009, Bordeaux, France. This is a Bordeaux blend.  Deeper garnet in colour.  Cherries and some meatiness on the nose. Fruity dark fruit with cassis, some tar and vanilla. Dry with medium tannins.

  • Petit Roubie Syrah 2010, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. Opaque ruby.  Nice nose with fried bacon and dark fruit aromas. Lots of fruit.  Blueberries, ripe black fruits and cherries, along with nutmeg spice and vanilla.  Dry tannins.  A real tasty wine.
  • Montirius Le Clos 2007, AOC Vacqueyras, France. (biodynamic) This is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah. Medium garnet in colour.  Dark fruit, sausage and meaty nose.  Medium body.  Round mouth feel with cherries, dark fruit and some spice.
  • Montirius Terre des Aines 2009, AOC Vacqueyras, France. (biodynamic) This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre.  Medium garnet in the glass.  Violets, cherries and kirsch.  Tons of flavour.

All these wines need a local rep to bring them into the BC market.  So keep your eyes open and check the French wine section.  Maybe one of these organic or biodynamic wines will show up soon.

A Taste of LaStella Wines

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} catch(err) {}LaStella Winery is one of the new wineries in the Okanagan, opening it’s doors in May 2007. It has a sister winery, which you may have heard of called Le Vieux Pin. I was recently invited to a tasting of LaStella’s wines in Yaletown and was very impressed with their wines. LaStella operates their vineyards with a cross between organic and biodynamic practices. They also contract grapes from like minded, quality growers (which I will talk about shortly). They also take great care in the production of the wine, from hand-destemming grapes, to using whole berries for fermentation and using small open-top oak fermentors.

LaStella has both white, rose, and red wines. The two white wines I tried was the Leggiero Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 and the Vivace Pinot Grigio 2008. The Leggiero and Vivace grapes come from the Kalala vineyard. For those that have read my past posts, the Kalala Organic Winery in West Kelowna has produced some wonderful organic wines at a great price point. They also told me that they sell some of their grapes to other wineries. So I was VERY happy to see that LaStella is one of those wineries.

The Leggario had nice mango and pineapple aromas. It was medium body, with light acidity, lime and mineral flavours. The Vivace is a gorgeous, refreshing pinot grigio. It has a crisp citrus and pineapple nose. Good acidity, with pineapple, lime, and mineral flavours. Next I moved on to the Lastellina Rose 2008. This is a merlot based rose. It has a nice salmon colour and a ripe strawberry nose. It is medium bodied, with some spice (cinnamon), and strawberry flavour.

There were 3 reds to enjoy. I found out that the reds are all un-fined and un-filtered, which gives you the closest to a barrel sample experience as possible. The red first was the Allegretto Merlot 2006. It was medium garnet in colour. Ripe plums and light oak on the nose. Medium body and tannins, with black cherry flavours. Their premier wine that evening was the Maestoso Merlot 2006. This wine was deep garnet in colour. Ripe black fruit, cigar box and mocha nose. Ripe black fruit, cherries and mocha flavour, with a cherry finish. The tannins were very fine. This is an exceptional wine. Last but not least was the Fortisimo 2007. This wine will soon be bottled, so we were treated with a sneak taste of this wine. The Fortisimo is a Bordeaux blend, with approximately 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. This wine had a very complex nose and aroma. I unfortunately did not take detailed notes on this wine, but it had many flavour dimensions and a long finish.

What’s upcoming for LaStella? I heard that they have Sangiovese grapes planted and will be harvesting them to blend with other red varietals to offer their first “Super Tuscan“. I joked that maybe it should be a “Super Okanagan“. Either way, I look forward to trying this wine. Enjoy!