Category Archives: Curiosities

Baja California Bandit – L. A. Cetto 2007 Mexico Petite Syrah

Aware of the fact that I have been ignoring the “new world” of wine lately, my last Internet order included a couple of outsiders… without neglecting the obligatory Chablis of course! I also went for a Marcel Lapierre magnum for the long term and… well, overall, I guess I remained pretty old school, but I did throw in a decent Australian Rhône blend by d’Arenberg, as well as this evening’s curiosity from Baja California!

Mexican wine

That’s right, Baja California is so baja, that it’s in Mexico. It’s not necessarily a mainstream wine producing country, but I have enjoyed a Mexican Cabernet Sauvignon in the past, and I figured what better destination for my palate in these cool winter months? This time, the grape variety is Petite Sirah. It usually yields dark, tannic wines north of the border, and this bottle didn’t stray from the typical profile of dark berries, along with some roasted coffee notes.

L.A. Cetto 2007 Petite Sirah

Baja California Bandit – L. A. Cetto 2007 Mexico Petite Syrah

Baja California Bandit – L. A. Cetto 2007 Mexico Petite Syrah

Impression (-)

The initial nose was actually quite pleasant, and while the fruit may have come off a bit jammy at first, the tannins kept scratching at my palate and prevented this big red from getting too heavy.

This structure remains relatively contained however, considering that this is Petite Sirah, but what really stuck with me was the drastic drop on the finish. Could it be a lack of acidity, unnoticeable on the mid-palate due to the forward tannins? Who knows… I’m not a technician, but overall I was left disappointed, even if this ghost finish impression does dissipate after a few glasses, probably due to the slow numbing of the palate by the big structure and fruit.

Brazilian Sparkling Wine – Miolo Brut

For Valentine’s day, my wife and I went out to to celebrate our first outing since the birth of our daughter exactly two months ago. The few proper restaurants in the town were either closed or completely booked, but we were lucky enough to get a table after a last minute cancellation at the les Louvières restaurant [website] in the middle of the Jura forest!

First time here and we were pleasantly surprised. The setting was stylish and romantic while remaining cozy (the building is an old farmhouse) and the food was great with a clearly gastronomic touch in both the flavors and the presentation. To top it all off, this fine dining establishment prides itself on its very international wine list and so I took this opportunity to revisit a Brazilian sparkling wine by Miolo.

Miolo Brut Sparkling Wine from Brazil

Miolo

Located in the Vale dos Vinhedos (Brazil’s only official regional appellation), the Miolo winery itself is quite impressive, dominated by a tall yellow tower sporting the well established name.

If it sounds a bit Italian, that’s because this region with the city of Bento Gonçalves at its heart, was primarily inhabited by Italian immigrants who brought the culture of wine along with them. As a matter of fact, many people here still speak Italian and the landscape is more reminiscent of Tuscany than São Paulo or Rio!

The Miolo winery which I visited in June 2014

The Miolo winery which I visited in June 2014

Miolo Brut Sparkling

Impression (+)

This méthode traditionnelle* sparkler is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir aged for 18 months in bottle. This translates to a nice complexity of aromas which one could mistake for Champagne, albeit in a fruitier rather than mineral style.

On the palate, the bubbles are very elegant and the rather full texture is very pleasant and approachable. While I personally tend to prefer a more biting acidity, this bottle was actually better adapted to accompany my veal dish than a more electric Champagne might have been.

Most importantly, it matched the mood of the evening: After all the craziness and excitement of parenthood, we needed a quiet, comfortable break alone to relax and really just enjoy each other. The Miolo felt almost appeasing with just the right amount of sparkle for a perfect Valentine’s evening.

NOTES:
*méthode traditionelle, formerly known as the méthode champenoise, is a sparkling wine fabrication process in which a second fermentation is initiated in the bottle. The CO2 gas which results from this fermentation is thus trapped, creating the tiny bubbles which we love so much in our Champagne.

 

A fortified red from…. the Beaujolais?!

My uncle came to visit for a couple days, and in addition to some of my favorite Jura reds, he also brought along this very original bottle of fortified wine from the Beaujolais.

Domaine des Terres Vivantes

From the little I could find online, the Domaine des Terres Vivantes -Living Soils Estate- is a relatively recent organic estate in southern Beaujolais run by Marie and Ludovic Gros. Before setting off on this new adventure, she was a baker and he was a sommelier, and so they not only craft wines in the Beaujolais AOC, but also bake and sell their own artisanal bread.

Fortified Gamay: Volutes

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this bottle, since my uncle didn’t really know what it was, just that it was sweet. Also, the Volutes is labeled as a “spiritueux” (spirit) and contained 18% alc/vol, so my first thought was a Pineau des Charentes type drink, which is made by adding distilled spirits to grape must (ie. unfermented juice).

After contacting the winery, I found out that Burgundy/Beaujolais does have such a product called riquiqui., but it turns out that this bottle is actually a fortified red wine similar to a Banyuls or Porto. The estate first made the experiment in 2003, the year of the heat wave which provided many over-ripe grapes. They were able to repeat the process in 2006 and 2010 by harvesting part of their Gamay 15 to 20 days later and adding a neutral spirit to halt the fermentation at around 40g of residual sugar.

Ripe aromas of dark fruit and griotte cherry reminded me of some of the more exuberant Uruguay wines which I had very much enjoyed in South America, though with noticeably more alcohol. On the palate, soft tannins confirmed this impression, but the sweetness gives the wine a more mellow feel, while the surprisingly racy acidity keeps it composed and relatively fresh on the delicious finish, with lingering pomegranate notes.

I think it is this freshness that sets this Beaujolais apart from the more southern Banyuls or Porto, and I very much enjoyed the wine, though the alcohol can be a bit too present without some food to balance it out.

Ludovic Gros also mentioned that they are currently working on a proper “cooked” wine, which is reduced to only a third of its initial volume and reaches 19.5% alc/vol. Interesting, but probably not for me…