Best November wines – November is my favourite month of the year. For us wine writers and bloggers some of the biggest and most important wine events occur. These include: Raspipav, La Grande Degustation and others more reserved to the trade such as the Italian wine trade tasting.
Raspipav ( Le Salon de Vins D’Importation Privée) kicks off the merry month of November. On its 10 edition, it is the “event” not to be missed for the private wine and spirit market in Quebec. On the event, salon goers have the chance to taste more than 2000 wines in the presence of close to 150 wines producers. To buy tickets, please visit the webpage (http://www.raspipav.com/). Raspipav will take place from the 28th to the 30th October in the Bonsecours market.
This year, I had the opportunity to be part of the judging panel to taste the sparkling and still white wines natural style under $40. For many Montreal wine lovers, Raspipav is the happening place to taste natural wines. If you need an incentive to go, is that during the festival you can buy wines by the unit instead of the case.
The winners of the judgment of Montreal for this year were:
1st – Crémant de limoux 2015, monsieur S, 28,46$
2nd – Kalkspitz 2015, christophe Holz, 30.82$
3rd – Blanquette de limoux 2015, monsieur S, 25.33$
1er – Riesling “Hollenburger” 2015, Christophe Hoch, 28$, Allemagne
2e – Mâcon bray, Chardonnay franc de pied 2015, Sébastien Boisseau, 39,60$
3e – Fleurs 2015, Philippe brand, 35.91$.
Then there is la grande dégustation. Happening from November 3rd to November 4th, during the two days, visitors can taste more than 1000 wines and spirits from 200 visitors. In 2017, Champagne takes the scene for the 375th anniversary of the city of Montreal and Riesling is the feature grape variety.
Riesling is one of the noblest white wine grape varieties. It has an intense perfume and pronounced acidity which it is able to maintain despite high ripeness levels.An important grape in Germany, Riesling comprises around 20% of total plantings,and it is the protagonist for some its greatest wines. It is planted widely on well-drained, south-facing slate-rich slopes, with the greatest wines coming from the best slopes in the best villages. German rieslings are delicate, racy, elegant and high couture wines that are made in many styles that from bone dry to highly aromatic bringing to mind apples,apricots, and other orchard fruit. German Rieslings also produce some great sweet wines.
Riesling is also an important grape in Alsace where it rounder and fuller wines than its German neighbor. Their dry Rieslings can be austere and quite mineral with exotic nuances while the Vendanges Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles are some of the greatest sweet wines in the world.
It is thank to the new world that Riesling is enjoying again a Renaissance. Nowadays Riesling is grown from Australia to Canada through the US ( Think Washington!!) and New Zealand. Each region bringing out its own version.
At the latest AQAVBS tasting, as well as Washington state wines, I also had to taste a representative sample of Riesling wines both Old and New World. Here are my favourite picks to give you a preview for la Grande Degustation:
From Alsace, the cuvée Riesling Jupiter 2016 ( SAQ # 00914424 $17.45) from La Cave des Vignerons de Pfaffenheim was fleshy, fruity and balanced displaying notes of lime and white orchard fruit. It has enough substance to handle a pan fried salmon with a lightly cream tarragon sauce.
Marvellous as well, was the Riesling Grand Cru Kirchberg de Barr 2014 from Willm ( SAQ # 11034581 $25.95). A excellent value for money, it had more depth than the Jupiter with particular notes of gunflint and white pepper. Dryer and more linear, definitely it will a great partner with lobster based asian dishes.
A favourite among Quebec wine lovers is the Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl 2015 ( SAQ # 11629787, $18.75). From Washington, this American Riesling has an enticing nose of lime, vanilla bean and tangerines. Zesty in the mouth, it is easy going with sweet and sour apple candy. A wine to consider, next time you are having a thai seafood green curry,
Cellaring wine under $20?
Believe it or not, it is still possible to find cellar worthy wines at the SAQ for under $20. Recently, I had the chance to taste the wines from Château de Carolle in Graves, Bordeaux. Chateau de Carolle is listed on the regular catalog of the SAQ which means is widely available and is also good to know that they have been listed at the Quebec monopole for more than 30 years.
The domaine produces red bordeaux blends from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Its terroir is comprised of argyle and gravelly soils which favours complex, profound, elegant and above all age worthy wines. Too good to be true, their Bordeaux can be had for a song at $19.95.
In a special tasting led by Pascal Guignard, one of the co owners of the domaine, I had the chance many vintages going back to the 80’s. It is worth noting that the Guignard family is one the biggest and most important wine families in Bordeaux. The trio of 1985-1990-1995 were my favourite wines.
The 1985 that i tasted was in pristine condition seducing with its cigar box and complex tertiary notes recalling nuances nuances of dry morels and saddle leather. Despite its 32 years, its fruit was still going strong bringing to mind red currants and prunes. Balanced and harmonious, the wine still has good tannic structure to keep it going for another decade or so.
In contrast the 1990 was richer with alluring nuances of black cherry, mocha and bittersweet chocolate. It had a marvellous structure, round with a good acidity and delightful with a point of graphite and gunpowder. Tannins were more fleshier than the 1985 and no doubt that it can age for another 15-20 years more. Finally the 1995 was very zen like, with a palette of earthy nuances and aromas innuendos recalling cola, toffee caramel, leather and dark cherry. On the mouth, still fresh with bright red fruit in a balsamic background. Great balanced wine.
Wines of the week:
Château de Carolle Graves Rouge 2015 ( SAQ # 11401547 $19.95)
Complex nose bringing to mind ripe blueberry fruit, dark chocolate hazelnut crisps with eucalyptus and spearmint aromas. On the mouth, silky with a fresh acidity,excellent vigour and impeccable balance. Grippy and tarry tannins with an aftertaste that recalls roasted wild herbs and animal nuances. Drink it now or keep it for the next 20 years. Pair it with confit de canard and spiced carrot puree.
Château de Roquetaillade La Grange 2009 ( SAQ # 12974312 $30.25)
Alluring nose recalling, meat with pronounced tones of ripe cassis, black pepper and menthol. On the palate, very concentrated yet quite balanced. Mineral flavors and subtle nuances of cigar tobacco and green coffee beans. Great tannic structure. If to drink it now, carafe it for 1 hour or keep it for its prime for the next decade or so. Pair it with grilled new york strip steak chimichurri sauce and greek style potatoes