Fall comfort red wines
Fall comfort red wines – It has been a while since I wrote in these pages about the wines of Roussillon. However, as we entered deep into the fall season, I cannot help to be nostalgic about my latest venture in June to the Region. Roussillon with its sunny weather and garrigue scented terroir embodies for me all the good things that wine has to offer. As i write these lines, I cannot help thinking about a particular quote of Irish writer, W.B Yeats that sets my mood: “Wine enters through the mouth, Love, the eyes.I raise the glass to my mouth,I look at you, I sigh”.
One of the highlights of my trip that I kept almost confidential until now was a visit to the wine estate Mas Amiel in the appellation of Maury. This is an Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) for fortified “vin doux naturel” wines made in the Roussillon wine region in France. The soils of Maury are a blend of schist and slate. Most of the wines are red, predominantly made with Grenache noir. Other authorized grapes include Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Macabeu, Malvoisie du Roussillon, Syrah, Muscat and other local varieties.
Now, what is a vin doux naturel?. If you do not remember, I will give you a quick review. A VDN ( acronym for the wine trade ) is a style of wine obtained by the process of mutage. This technique consist in adding during fermentation 5 to 10% of a neutral spirit of 96 degrees. By doing so, the alcohol kills off the yeast before they finish off their job their fermentation process. The aging of this type of wine can be done in an oxidative environment ( air contact with wood barrel or glass demijohns with different temperatures to accelerate the aging process) or in a reductive environment ( full barrels with no air contact)
For me, the estate that set the benchmark for this wine style is Mas Amiel. This is a huge property. In fact, it is the largest private cellar in Maury – located in the heart of the Agly valley, his is a wild country: it’s beautiful but quite rustic: rocky, slate soils, incredible winds, and 260 days’ sunshine a year. The history of Mas Amiel is like a thriller movie. A gamble Monsieur Amiel about two hundred years ago participated in a game of cards with a few other wealthy individuals. When he quitted playing, he found himself richer by one, very large Maury estate (about 350 acres) in the Côtes du Roussillon won from the Archbishop of Perpignan.
Later on Monsieur Amiel entered into a partnership with a sketchy Monsieur Gouzy who convinced Amiel to plant Grenache vines in the area’s stony soils. However, the couple lost their estate perhaps due to bad administration to a banker named Dupuy who took Amiel to unprecedented levels of success.
Olivier Decelle since 2000 has made it his personal mission to make over this legendary estate, with a renewed focus on dry wines (red and white) in addition to the estate’s historic fortified wines. Mas Amiel is also now completely dedicated to organic agriculture. Tasted in Roussillon, here are some of the wines that we can find at the SAQ at the moment:
Mas Amiel Vintage Maury 2014 SAQ# 11544151 $34.50
( 100 % Grenache Noir )
Warm cherry pie filling, cassis and raspberry jam with black pepper and dark chocolate notes. Creamy, yet elegant and very fresh with silky tannins. The must wine for dark chocolate desserts.
Mas Amiel Millesime 69 SAQ# 13014196 $130
A cognoscenti wine. Aromas of pecan pie, montecristo tobacco with cedarwood, dry black fruits. And a bit of burnt toast. Rich and silky with voluptuous tannins. If money is not an issue, get yourself a bottle. There are 4 left at the SAQ inventory as I write these lines. Enjoy on its own with a Montecristo cigar.
Comforting Washington Reds
La Grande Degustation 2017 being over just merely two weeks ago, here are two hearty reds from Washington that caught my attention. Available by private imports by AOC Chateaux, you should get a case each for your fall meat dishes.
Founded by grape brothers Butch and Jerry Milbrandt, with a desire to bottle great wines leaded them to found their own label in 2007. Located in eastern Washington, the brothers know that great wines begin in the vineyard. Pioneers of the Columbia Valley wine regions, Butch and Jerry saw potential in the land and resources of Eastern Washington. They took a risk in planting grapes and soon became recognized for helping establish two of the top AVAs in the state: Ancient Lakes and Wahluke Slope. At la grande degustation, I tasted two Washington Rhone blends that deserve your attention:
Milbrandt Vignerons 2012 Grenache Clifton Vineyards. Wahluke slope
( $44.75 private import, case of 6)
Woody and leathery with a mix of Mexican spices and very ripe dark fruit. Creamy and round and very expressive with nuances of black olives, iron, liquorice and violets. Generous finale. Should be amazing with braised prime rib roast.
Milbrandt Vignerons 2014 Syrah. Wahluke Slope
( $45 – $56 private import, case of 6)
Jammy black fruit with liquorice and minty peppermint pattie. Potent and silky with nice flavours of of roasted black fruits, latin spices. Very long with suave tannins. Should be great with a rack of lamb.
Marco Giovanetti – mtltimes.ca