Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Wine of the Week: Jean Foillard Beaujolais 2013

When things get quiet in my house, it usually is a sign that a certain little someone is up to something no good….and sure enough the whiff of soil hit me before the sight of the mess did.  Jake had uprooted the plant and the proudest smile spread across his face as I let out a few chosen words. Dirt. Everywhere. Floor, walls, clothes, and right in his mouth too.  

Mmmmm dirt. Forest floor, leaves, earth….sound familiar?  It does to me and I have to hand it to Jake: twenty months old and this kid was already studying the flavours and aromas of wine before he could even talk.  Smart little bugger…

 A few hours later, I found myself tasting on a vibrant, juicy, lovely little Beaujolais from Jean Foillard and admittedly, the label caught my eye.  A lady sporting a bright ruby red sweater, which coincidentally is pretty much the same colour as the wine.   Cheeky idea…. En français, beau gilet means nice sweater…. beau gilet, Beaujolais, whatever…the wine was bursting with charm and performs in the same way that nice sweater should; giving warmth, comfort, and pleasantries

Personally, I love the label and I was right pleased to discover that réZin (the agency that represents Foillard) designed it themselves because the cuvée was made especially for them by Foillard himself.  réZin was looking for an entry level Beaujolais that would appeal to Quebec - a wine that would be at a decent price point, but by no means lack in style, flavour or grace.  Foillard buys in the grapes but makes sure to keep the same high quality standards that he does for all of his wines.  Made in small quantities and the usual Beaujolais method, where grapes undergo carbonic maceration, he presented a cuvée that is a true expression of the grape with as little intervention as possible in the vineyard and in the cellar. 

It’s not often that a producer will make a wine with a particular audience in mind. It goes to show the trust and tight bond that is between Foillard and réZin, and evermore so speaks volumes about the palate and the savvy wine culture we have here in Montreal.  Foillard knows the wine will be enjoyed here and therefore agreed to go through the trouble of making it. Although,  it may not be so much trouble as welcomed extra work seeing as it is the second year it has been on SAQ shelves.  On my end, the wine is opening up quite nicely.  It is bright, delicious, and vibrant, much like Jake. 
My wine of the week is Jean Foillard Beaujolais 2013

Medium ruby red in color with legs that run thin and fast.  The nose is very generous with notes of raspberry, red currant, and blueberries accented by earth.  
Fresh and vibrant on the palate, there is ample fruit that reflects the nose.   Plenty of  crunchy currants, strawberry, red cherries with an earthy edge.  Tannins are soft grained and delicate, adding a lovely texture, with a bright acidity that leaves a lasting impression.  The delicious finish shows an expressive pleasing length.  Drink now.  

Wine & Producer: Jean Foillard Beaujolais 2013
Grape: Gamay
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: $23.25
SAQ Code: 12454958

Agent: réZin

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Wine of the Week: Pearl Morissette 2013 Riesling Cuvée Redfoot

“Watch out for him”, they warned. “ He can be a bit…fierce.”  He being winemaker François Morissette of Pearl Morissette winery in Jordan, Ontario.  Well, I can be fierce too and not even the big black barn that first greets guests scared me off as I walked toward the winery, dragging my son Jake behind me. 

François flashed a cool smile, a warm handshake, and the usual introductions were made.  Politely, he mentioned that tasting rooms loaded with equipment may not be the safest place for toddlers. I got this covered François,  I said to myself.  I was fortunate enough to have my friends join me that day and they agreed to watch him, as I gave Jake a special assignment to go investigate the vines that were close by.  

Pearl Morissette have revamped their website and have a brand new tasting room, but back in August, we were right in the midst of it: a lab, crates of bottles, tanks, barrels -  equipment everywhere.  In the middle of the winery was a simple wooden board held up by barrels on either end, on top of which bottles of wine without labels ready for us to taste.  Raw.  I loved it.

François Morissette was once a sommelier in Montreal, but the vines from Burgundy called out his name, so off he went to make wine there for eight vintages.  He brought back with him a plethora of knowledge, experience and ambition to make his own wines here in Canada.  Fast forward to 2015, he is now head winemaker at Pearl Morissette, showcasing some interesting,  beautifully made, “debatable" wines coming from the Niagara region, and stirring up some trouble while he is at it. This guy is driven, he is sensible, and yes, he is fierce.  He does not believe in labelling his wines as organic, minimal intervention, biodynamic or whatever. There are no set of rules or guidelines he follows to make his wines.  He feels as though he is more of a guide as he listens, and let the grapes tell him what to do.

I guess François had felt his riesling wanted a bit of MLF love, so his 2010 Black Ball Riesling underwent malolactic fermentation (as do all their rieslings) which is usually a big NO NO with such a delicate aromatic grape variety.  He didn't care about that.  “ I felt that it needed it”, was his response when I questioned it.  This started a bit of controversy with the VQA - as they would not give him the VQA stamp of approval to his riesling for it being ‘atypical’ and not showing varietal characteristics according to their standards.  The 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 all failed by the VQA tasting panel, not lab.  This has numerous consequences which I will not get into now, but it is important to note that not being VQA stamped means shit all when it comes down to whether or not a wine is good. And let me tell you something -  the wine is better than good. It’s fabulous.  

Having lost their contract last year for their chardonnay, riesling, viognier and gamay varieties, it makes me wonder just how much Morissette was stirring things up in Niagara.  “Not everyone likes how we do things around here”, he says. “ And I'm perfectly okay with this.” I admire that.  Taking risks is only way to succeed and there is no doubt, although the wines are already stellar in my modest point of view, big things are in store for Pearl Morissette, whether people like it or not.  

My wine of the week is the 2013 Cuvée Redfoot Riesling. 

This has underwent MLF using natural yeasts , 64% foudre, and 36% neutral oak barrels.  There was no cold stabilization and it was left on lees for a duration of 9 months.

Medium gold in color, with legs that swirl all sorts of pretty on the glass.

The nose is rich and inviting. Dripping with honey scented peach and nectarine accented by hints of white flowers, toasted spice and orange marmalade.  The palate displays appealing concentration of stone fruit, biscuit nuances, and a delicious salinity that is smooth, rich in texture yet very crisp and refreshing.  A fine, juicy finish.  

Wine: 2013 Redfoot Cuvée Riesling
Producer: Pearl Morissette
Grape: Riesling
Alcohol: 11.2%
Price: $26.40
Agent: Insolite Importation

This wine is not available at the SAQ.  The 2013 Cuvée Redfoot is sold out at the winery; however, you can contact their offices for release dates of the latest vintages.  

Alternatively, you can inquire at Insolite Importation, who represents Pearl Morissette in the Montreal area.

Photos: Lightstreak Photo

Jake evaluating Brix levels at Pearl Morissette.....

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Wine of the Week: Domaine Tetramythos 2014 Roditis

It’s mid January and I have been craving a bit of summer lately. Sometimes, the remedy for the winter blahs can be as simple as opening a bottle of wine, and there can be few better choices than those from Greece.  Put simply they are pure, bright, delicious and very affordable.  Take the Tetramythos for example - a clean, pure expression of the roditis grape variety - native to Greece.  There are so many different native grape varieties to try like assyrtiko, xinomavro,  and robola to name a few! For the wine lover, it can be super exciting! Greek wines go  particularly well with seafood - no wonder considering their proximity to the ocean.  


Time is a luxury with a toddler - no time to search for my usual tasting journal.  My son was napping so I grabbed Jake’s colouring book that was right next to me and began to taste.  What a stunning little wine this is: I was so delighted to be sipping on it as the winter sun was pouring into the dining room. (I thrive on this, considering on a good day, it’s -35 with wind chill here in the north.)  It’s pretty, expressive, refreshing and just what I needed to remind me that summer will eventually be on the way. And at the price tag of only $16,  I need to stock up for those days on my terrace that’s waiting for me.

Pale light lemon in color, with a nose displaying pretty delicate notes of white flowers,perfume, citrus, hints of white pepper and chalky white soil.( Fitting as the soil in Patras are chalky.)  On the palate, it is light, fresh, and cuts right through to citrus.  The acidity is welcoming with the salty minerality that is present.  All is in perfect balance with a pleasing finish.  Summer in a glass.  

Wine:  Tetramythos Roditis 2014
Producer: Domaine Tetramythos
Grape: Roditis
Alcohol: 12%
Price: $16.10
SAQ Code: 12484575

Agent: Oenopole

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Prince Edward County & Wine of the Week: The Old Third 2011 À la Volée Sparkling Pinot Noir

I have decided that this coming summer, I am going to have to absolutely take a mini-vacation to  Prince Edward County, Ontario.  Wine and food culture has pretty much always been the driving force behind my travels and since I have had so many beautiful examples of PEC wines the past few weeks, it’s time I plan a visit to this somewhat hidden gem of a wine region that happens to be so close to my home.   

Prince Edward County is about a four-hour drive west of Montreal, or two hours east from Toronto.  A total of 31 wineries are in and around the appellation, all of which have their own personal stories of who they are, why they decided to plant grapevines in PEC, and dreams of future projects. Wine producers have fell in love with the area given the climate, soil, and their passion for wine. It has been my understanding that most allow grapes to express themselves with as little winemaking intervention as possible. 

Soils consists mostly of clay and sandy loam that overlays limestone  with shale fragments.  This allows good water drainage, while the rocky bits of the soil helps with heat conduction and retention in the cool spring.  Vines grow deep, allowing for yields to be low with a high concentration of fruit.   Prevailing southwesterly breezes moderate temperatures through the year, and the average temperature is at 22 degrees Celsius.  Annual production is roughly 26,186 (9L), with most common varieties being Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. 

It seems to me that not many people know of Prince Edward County - perhaps because of its more famous cousin Niagara Peninsula.  I predict this will change soon, especially once people get a taste of the wines that are coming out of this appellation.  There are a few neutral, overly oaked examples (like anywhere else), but for the most part, they are bright, concentrated, direct and leave quite a warm impression.  I urge you to pay attention to what is coming out of PEC, their wines are world class. 

So….. Where can you find these beauties of wines?  Well at the moment, the SAQ has only Grange of Prince Edward Cab Franc and Rosehall Run Chardonnay available to sell. Alternatively you can do some research and see what different agencies have on hand…  The LCBO has a great range of wines from PEC…but I think visiting the county yourself would be the best way to see and taste what they have to offer.  On my personal check list:

  • Closson Chase
  • Norman Hardie
  • The Old Third ( Not VQA stamped , but who cares? STOP BY.)
  • Hinterland
  • The Grange
  • Redtail Vineyard

On that note, if you have any insight or recommendations for ME….please send them my way!!!

Just last week, I had the pleasure of tasting this 2011 sparkling Pinot Noir from The Old Third.  I shot them an email bombarding them with questions, but have not had a reply from them before this post was published. A friend of mine bought this bottle for me and I am clueless as to how the wine was made, or even if The Old Third continues to produce a sparkling.  They are not on the VQA website but that should not discourage you from visiting or buying some of their gorgeous wines and ciders.  Check out their website at: .  

Medium gold in colour with bubbles that are a plenty and consistent.  

The nose gives a beautiful bouquet of fresh apple pie covered in cream, with lemon zest and bits of straw.  It’s complex and flirtatious.  On the palate, you get an immediate creaminess followed by loads and loads of applesauce intertwined with citrus.  The acidity is bright and fulfilling, with a lip smacking saltiness.  Bubbles add a nice texture with a fine length of a finish.  This wine sparkles - it’s what stars would taste like.  

It kicks the shit out of many Champagnes I have had!

Wine: 2011 Pinot Noir À la Volée Sparkling Wine
Producer : The Old Third
Grape: Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: U$59.  

Again: Yes - no doubt