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.

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Would You Like Nice Bubble and More for Christmas?

Today is one of my favourite times of the year. The last Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) trade wine tasting typically has a lot of sparkling wine and other wines to taste in preparation for the Christmas season. I spent half of my time exclusively trying sparkling wines, and the other half of my time on white and red still wines. There was so much sparkling wine, that I could have easily spent my entire time tasting these wines.

As usual, I would like to pass along those wines that were very good in my opinion, so that you can purchase them either at a government or a private liquor store. Some are at a very good price (sub $20).

Recommended sparkling wines:
Pierre Paillard Grand Cru NV Brut (France). A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. This wine is light peachy pink in colour. Bread and cherry aromas. Light small bubbles with lemon, cherry and apple flavours. Bready, citrus finish. Very nice.

Codorniu Classico Brut NV (Spain) $13.99. Pale lemon in colour. Lemon, yeast and slight petrol aroma. Fine bubble. Off dry with crisp acidity. Lemon and apple flavours. Medium length.

Hungaria Grande Cuvee Brut (Hungary) on sale $12.95 during Dec 2010. This is a very easy drinking sparkling wine from Hungary. Pale lemon in colour. Lychee, crisp apple nose. Light bubble with medium length. Apple and lemon flavours with a herbal finish.

J.G. Carrion Cristalino Cava Rosado Brut (Spain) on sale till Jan 2, 2011, $13.99. A mix of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Trepeat. Pale cherry colour with a light cherry nose. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Small bubble. Dry with a cherry finish.

Perle d’Aurore Cremant de Bourgogne Rose NV (France) $on sale till Feb 27, 2011, $23.95. Light salmon colour in the glass. Strawberry aroma. Strawberry and cherry flavour. Small, aggressive bubble in our mouth. Off dry. Very good.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne NV (France) $59.99. Bread and citrus on the nose. Very fine, small bubble. Dry on the palate. Lemon, oak, and almond flavour. Long finish. A very elegant Champagne.

Recommended white wines:
Teira Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley 2009 (California). This is a small production organic wine producer. If you tasted this wine, you would not guess that it is a Sauvignon Blanc. You might guess Pinot Gris. This wine is medium lemon in colour. Peachy, lychee, and flowery aromas. Light to medium body, medium acidity with apple and some herbal flavour. Round mouth feel.

Kooyong Estate Chardonnay 2006 (Australia) $49.99. Light lemon colour. Oak, vanilla, butter and citrus on the nose. Round mouth feel. Apple, citrus and oak flavours. Medium body.

Trefethen Estate Chardonnay 2007 (California) $34.95. Light lemon with a green tinge colour. Light lemon, apple, and flowers on the nose. Round mouth feel with cinnamon flavour up front. Medium body. Apple and lemon flavours. Long length.

Recommended red wines:
Velletri Riserva 2004 (Italy), on sale till Nov 27, 2010, $17.99. This is a red wine from the Sangiovese grape. This may have been my favourite wine of the tasting, and it is at a great price. Medium cherry colour. An interesting nose with pencil leads and red cherries. Medium body, round mouth feel with smooth tannins.

Chanson Pere Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2007 (France) $26.52. Light cherry in colour.  Light strawberry and red cherry aromas.  Strawberry, raspberry, cherry and vanilla flavours.  Light body with low tannins. Very nice.

Chateau de Ferrand St. Emilion Grand Cru AOC 2003 (France) $39.99. This is a red wine from the right bank in Bordeaux.  It is a blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Medium light garnet in colour. Nice vanilla, and red cherry nose.  Medium body with vanilla, ripe red fruit flavours.  The flavour builds in your mouth.  A wonderful wine.

Montresor Capitel della Crosara Appassimento IGT 2006 (Italy) $24.99.  This is a “ripasso” style wine, which is made by reserving wine made during the recent vintage then placing this wine on the pressed grape skins and lees in the vats used for Amarone and allowed to ferment further in contact with those skins, to acquire additional body and flavour. This wine was medium to dark garnet coloured in the glass.  Red cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Lots of fruit flavours on the palate, particularly raspberries and black cherry.  Medium body.

Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red 2006 (California) $19.99.  This is a fun red wine, made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Medium purple colour.  Nice cherry and raspberry nose.  Full body with raspberry and black cherry flavours.  Firm tannins but not overpowering.  Purple fruit and cherry on the finish.

There were many more wines to taste, and I’m sure I could have recommended more.  You may notice that there are no BC wines listed.  The IVSA tasting is for new vintages, and new wines being brought into the BC market.  There are plenty of very good BC wines, but none were being poured at this event.  So please enjoy the wines I’ve listed, but don’t forget BC wines.