Clas­sic wine drink­ing

Montreal Times - - Wine - By Marco Gio­vanetti mtl­times.ca

Last week, I was think­ing about how much the wine scene have changed in Mon­treal. The last 20 years have changed dra­mat­i­cally to the point that I ask my­self if i am an anachro­nism. Back then in the late 1990’s, for in­stance I drank and study in rev­er­ence the great ital­ian wine clas­sics, much like a mu­sic stu­dent would study Mozart or Beethoven. With plea­sure, I learnt the taste of San­giovese and Neb­bi­olo with pro­duc­ers like Le Per­gole Torte and Paolo

Scavino and made my­self an idea of the great­ness of Ital­ian wine.

It was much the same thing with French wine. I learnt my Bor­deaux with clas­si­fied growths and the ABC’s of Bur­gundy with pre­mier and grand cru wines. The method was the same with Span­ish wine, sur­vey­ing the great wines of Rioja, Rib­era del

Duero and Jerez.

To­day, the new gen­er­a­tion of wine drinkers want to be all the way avant-garde. More of­ten than sel­dom, I see this group of young wine lovers fo­cus­ing on par­tic­u­lar styles or ob­scure grape va­ri­eties, preach­ing that it is the true voice of wine and os­tra­ciz­ing the rest.This self es­tab­lished dogma has even been sanc­tioned by a part of our wine ed­u­ca­tors, as they too be­come tan­gled up in this fren­zi­ness.

The dan­ger of this fal­lacy could be the pos­si­ble ex­tinc­tion of our col­lec­tive wine mem­ory. Much of the ce­ment of the wine re­gions lies on those clas­si­cal es­tates that even paved the way for the avant-garde mo­ment. My hope with this col­umn is that you con­sider the clas­sics to help pre­serve the wine legacy

Re­cently I had the chance to get reac­quainted with two im­por­tant wine es­tates in France and Spain. De­las has been mak­ing wine for the last 180 years in the Rhone Val­ley and they are spe­cial­ists in the pro­duc­tion of North­ern Cru wines. Their motto is "Plac­ing Man and Wine at the heart of the Ter­roir." With steeply slop­ing vine­yards en­com­pass­ing some 30 hectares of vines and spe­cial­ized grow­ing prac­tices to each plot, De­las is able to craft some of the re­gion's best wines.

In the com­pany of Herve Robert, ex­port direc­tor of Deals, I tasted a se­lec­tion of 8 bot­tles from their la­bels in the Rhone. Here are my top picks:

From the ver­tig­i­nous ap­pel­la­tion of Con­drieu, I tasted an il­lu­mi­nous Con­drieu Clos Boucher 2015 ( Cour­rier Vini­cole Rhône Nord 2018. SAQ # 13485342). Just rav­ish­ing with honeysuckle, ripe apri­cot and a chis­eled min­er­al­ity. Round and el­e­gant, it was a gar­den of de­lights with its ex­otic notes of marzi­pan, white pep­per and nut­meg. A con­fi­den­tial pro­duc­tion of 7000 bot­tles, it's worth it's price tag, as it has a bright fu­ture ahead.

An­other wine that fas­ci­nated me was the Crozes Her­mitage Les Launes 2015. ( SAQ # 11544126, $26.00). De­las strives with this Crozes, care­fully bal­anc­ing oak and ex­trac­tion to re­flect the granitic soils of the ap­pel­la­tion. A per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to the wines of the re­gion, it cap­ti­vate me with its pro­nounced dark fruit fla­vors, fer­rous tex­ture and punchy tan­nins. In my hum­ble opin­ion, an un­der­val­ued bot­tle of wine.

My big­gest sur­prise of the tast­ing was the Cor­nas Chante Per­drix 2015 ( SAQ # 13486581, $63.50). This wine was no­to­ri­ous since the X cen­tury, where it was ap­pre­ci­ated by the Euro­pean royal cir­cuit. Usu­ally the wines of Cor­nas are tough and aus­tere tak­ing many years to be ap­pre­ci­ated. How­ever, this De­las ex­am­ple proves the op­po­site A modern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Cor­nas with a sweet core of black fruits in a frame of mocha, black pep­per­corns and mint leaf. Pol­ished, on the el­e­gant side with silky tan­nins, it can be en­joyed now or keep for the next 10 years. If you want a Cor­nas that is ready now, this is your best bet.

The other wine that kept me dream­ing about De­las was the Her­mitage Do­maine des Tourettes 2015. SAQ # 13486548. $115.25. This wine was born in 3 vine­yards in the Drome, France: Tain-L’Her­mitage, CrozesHer­mitage and Lar­nage. The soil is a play­ground for ge­ol­o­gists con­sist­ing of mi­cas­hiscts, gneiss and round peb­bles. In ad­di­tion, the vine­yards are in abrupt hill­sides ori­ented to­wards the south.

Rav­ish­ing nose of red and black cur­rants, and in­trigu­ing spices such as dry co­rian­der and black pep­per with co­hiba cigar to­bacco and criollo-ghana ca­cao notes Very long and volup­tuous with a fem­i­nine qual­ity to it, silky tan­nins and a el­e­gant fi­nale.

A bodega of great pres­tige, Mon­te­cillo is one of the old­est winer­ies Rioja to­day, the win­ery is owned by the re­spected Os­borne Group, one of Spain’s old­est and fa­mous fam­ily-owned wine and spir­its pro­duc­ers, in whose port­fo­lio Mon­te­cillo is the jewel of the crown. Over a cen­tury after its found­ing, Bode­gas Mon­te­cillo still re­main fo­cused on its orig­i­nal mis­sion: to craft in­te­gral, age wor­thy wines that re­flect their ter­roit, ac­com­plished through care­ful se­lec­tion of grapes, care­ful wine­mak­ing, and pa­tient age­ing.

Re­cently, I had a very pleas­ant en­counter with the can­did Ro­cio Os­borne, PR and com­mu­ni­ca­tion direc­tor of Bode­gas Mon­te­cillo in which I tasted a se­lec­tion of their wines. Here are the ones that caught most my at­ten­tion.

A mon­u­ment of a wine, the Gran Reserva Selec­ción Es­pe­cial 1994 ( SAQ # 10469339, $71) was grandiose with notes of black tea, bay leaves, porcini mush­rooms and black prunes in brandy. El­e­gant and earthy with suc­cu­lent and ripe tan­nins, it im­pressed me with tits notes of Mon­te­cristo cigar, christ­mas spice and dead moun­tain leaves. Will be a plea­sure to drink now or can be kept for an­other 10 years, so get it while quan­ti­ties last.

The Gran Reserva 2009 ( 2008 avail­able in the SAQ, #239277, $34) was stun­ning as well with lots of depth. On the nose, spiced blue dark fruit with mint and nu­ances of black truf­fle. On the palate, clas­sic Rioja char­ac­ter. Ripe tan­nins yet fluid with great acid­ity and con­cen­tra­tion. It shined with its nu­ances of gun­pow­der, roasted herbs and game notes. It is plea­sure to drink now but I sug­gest to keep it a few years so it can achieve its full po­ten­tial.

If you are new to Rioja and want to get a good in­tro­duc­tion to the re­gion, I rec­om­mend the Reserva 2011 ( SAQ # 928440, $17.95). A great qual­ity price to ra­tio with cigar box and black prune jam, Pow­er­ful yet el­e­gant with ripe tan­nins and nu­anced earthy flavours. Very long fi­nale as well.

A modern take on Rioja was the Mon­te­cillo Edi­cion Lim­i­tada 2010 ( $23.95) to be avail­able at the be­gin­ning of 2018. Po­tent nose rem­i­nis­cent of brood­ing black fruits, flo­ral un­der­tones and pro­nounced min­eral un­der­tones. On the palate, creamy and spicy ( vanilla bean, co­coa) with silky tan­nins and a clas­si­cal Rio­jan fin­ish.

If you ever hap­pen to be in Rioja don't for­get to dine at the Ca­chetero restau­rant. This din­ing es­tab­lish­ment is con­sid­ered to be one of the old­est in spain. Re­cently, Mon­te­cillo col­lab­o­rated with the pub­li­ca­tion of a cook­book that fea­tures tra­di­tional recipes of the restau­rant paired with Mon­te­cillo wines. The book fea­tures 41 recipes paired with di­verse wines of Mon­te­cillo. It is an homage to some of the great­est dishes of Span­ish gas­tron­omy.

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