Canadian Icewine: Quality and Diversity from Coast to Coast

I used to love Canadian Icewine and its less expensive, but often quite as tasty counterpart, the late harvest. And then, for some odd reason, I practically stopped having it.

Over the last few months, however, I drank icewines from Ontario, British Columbia, Québec and Nova Scotia. And baby, I’m back.

Those were fine, fine wines, with all the apricot, honey and floral aromas and flavors you’d want, the acidity needed to balance out the concentrated sweetness. What struck me the most, however, was the diversity of styles – a much greater range than I would have expected.

Let me give you an idea of this range of styles by giving tasting notes from West to East. (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesday 55: North vs South – a bipolar roundup

It’s always fascinating to see the many ways people can interpret a proposition. So what did the participants in the 55th Wine Blogging Wednesday make of this idea of confronting North vs South?

From Michigan Riesling to Tasmania Pinot Noir, from Spanish Garnacha to Tennessee Chambourcin, there sure were a lot of possible pairings (and threesomes, and foursomes) put together by the 33 participants who took up the challenge. Three of those, I’m happy to say, were first timers in the world of Wine Blogging Wednesday (this one, this one and this one), showing how the concept is still going strong and breaking new ground. (more…)

The sweeter side of things: check out The Tawny Times

While I’m waiting for the latecomers to Wine Blogging Wednesday 55 to send in their posts, so I can prepare my round-up, I rummaged through my tasting notes from the Salon des vins de Québec, and decided to put a bit of them online… on another blog.

But Rémy, you may ask, don’t you have enough already with The Wine Case and that French blog of yours? In fact, yes, but when you get a really sweet offer…

The sweet offer in question (more…)

Moscato for the Holidays

It’s a little late for Christmas wine recommendations, I realize. But it’s still early for New Year’s, so that’s still all right.

Especially when you suggest a wine that is as festive as it is (relatively) inexpensive, so much so that it could be pulled out for any excuse for a celebration.

The wine is moscato, or more precisely, moscato d’asti, the low-alcohol, sparkling, refreshing, fruity wine that is a specialty of Piemont, in Northern Italy. Made from that most aromatic of grapes, muscat, (more…)

The exotic taste of Jurançon

Twice, over the last couple of weeks, I tasted a 2005 dry Jurançon called Cuvée Marie, made by Charles Hours (and his daughter Marie, I believe) at Clos Uroulat. What a trip to take in the middle of winter: here is a wine jumping at you with exotic fruit flavors: guava, passionfruit, a touch of grapefruit, and a bit of fresh coconut on top of that. Like a piña colada, without the hard liquor and hangover. And as a bonus, this wine from southwest France, right at the foothills of the Pyrénées, made from 90% Gros Manseng and 10% courbu, had a lovely structure, and a lively acidity that could soften up nicely over the next few years as the wine matures and develops.

The high acidity, while a little sharp for sipping the wine on its own, just now, is terrific when drinking the wine with, say, a dish of monkfish baked with rosemary and served over a freshly-crushed tomato sauce: in such a context, it uplifts the fish, while the ripe fruit wraps around the whole dish to broaden the range of flavors. Quite nice.

The acidity, typical of gros manseng (and petit manseng, which is the third varietal allowed in the appellation, with courbu) is also key to Jurançon’s reputation for producing sweet, dessert wines. Without acidity, sweet wines are just jammy and overly sweet.

This particular character of Jurançon wines is best exemplified by Henri Ramonteu’s Domaine Cauhapé, where he produces the whole range of wines, from the very dry Chant des Vignes to the syrupy, concentrated, ice-wine-like Folie de Janvier. It’s quite a spectacular range, all with good ageing potential and nuances for every type of meal. But not, as I recall, the exuberant tropical-drink folly of Cuvée Marie…

Tasting Note: Château La Rame 1997

Had a lovely bottle of Château La Rame 1997, a Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (a “minor” appellation near Sauternes and Barsac) to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 10th wedding anniversary. It was a perfect bottle for such an occasion. Straw-colored, clear and bright, it was very festive, with no trace of heaviness, and charming aromas and flavours of honey, beeswax and peach. Very fresh and balanced (not much botritys, if any, but wonderful ripeness ), it could have gone on for years and years. And it went great with a bit of excellent foie gras.

It should be pointed out that the bottle was bought in Quebec, kept there for two-three years, transported to Switzerland to be offered as a gift, carried from there to Sweden by car, and kept in yet another cellar there. Both cellars used to keep this dessert wine show considerable variations in temperature (seasonal, mostly, but still). Many experts would suppose that the wine would be adversely affected by such handling and storage, but really, having tasted several bottles kept in these conditions over the years, I’ve come to conclude that wine is not such an awfully sensitive liquid.

Mind you, the fact that 1997 was, according to Decanter, one of the best vintages of the last twenty years for Bordeaux-region dessert-wines surely didn’t hurt.

When you think that bottles of Château La Rame sells for 25$ US/30$ CDN, it was a great value and lots of fun.