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Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:28 am

Let’s celebrate the dog days of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) with a bracing draught of whites from all around the Mediterranean basin. From Spain we’ll work across Southern Coastal France - Languedoc and Roussillon through Provence to Italy’s shores,, the coastal Balkans, Greece and the Greek islands; even Turkey’s coastal regions to Lebanon, Israel, even North Africa if we can find any, and complete the circle by passing through Gibraltar to Portugal, which faces the Atlantic, not the Med, but still seems to fit in.

We’ll find a lot of Grenache Blanc and plenty of Viognier, I imagine; and better yet, there are tons of indigenous white varieties to discover, from Alvarinho to Rueda, Picpoul, Greco di Tufo and Grillo, Kujundzusa, Assyrtiko, Emir, Obaideh and Merwah and many, many more.


Gentlefolks, pull your corks and crack your screw caps! Let the tasting begin!
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:55 pm

TN: 2012 Varanda do Conde Vinho Verde Alvarinho/Trajadura PROVAM.

Not sure that this house is recognised in the top flight but at $8 a glass at the wine bar who cares! PROVAM is a large coooperative.

Slight spritz, medium straw in color. Citrus, floral tones on the nose with a brief hint of pineapple and peach. Dry entry naturally, minerals, melon, crisp, nice length, typical acidity here. "like the sharp finish" from across the crowded table. Nice appys served, pleasant moments indeed.

Trajadura?........Originally from the north of the Vinho Verde region, the Trajadura makes wines with somewhat lower acidity and higher alcoholic strength than the other Vinho Verde grapes. This makes it a great candidate for blending in this cool, moist part of the country, where excessive acidity and low alcohol can be a problem even with vines trained in an efficient, modern way. Trajadura is a fairly aromatic variety, with gentle flavours of peach, apricot, apple and ripe pear and a pleasant touch of orange blossom. it is used in popular blends with Alvarinho, and with Loureiro and Arinto. Trajadura has a very long vegetative cycle, buds breaking early, grapes ripening late. The bunches are yellowish-green, tightly packed and medium sized. Yields are very generous.
***I think I might have to retaste as a pal in the UK thinks that Trajadura generally produces wines with low acidity :( .
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:17 pm

Palette Grand Cru de Provence 2005 (white) – Château Simone, Rougier – Alc. 12.5% - (€35 for recent vintages), made from Clairette 80%, Grenache, Ugni and Muscat. IMO Ch.Simone has been making one of the finest whites in Mediterranean France for several decades, although recently there are an increasing number of challengers in Provence, Languedoc and Roussillon. This bottle lived up to its reputation. It was showing considerable complexity and breed with gently burnished notes of wax, discreet exotic fruit and acacia on a medium bodied palate with good length, gentle fruit and minerals, smooth/lively acidity and some backbone. The overall effect was elegant and classy and it was a superb pairing for locally caught lobster. Excellent.

Alas, I have no more bottles of 2005 left but I have seen a recent vintage at our nearest supermarket. Several years ageing will probably be necessary to produce a comparable result.

Palette is a small appellation just south east of the superb city of Aix-en-Provence and situated in a north facing amphitheatre which allows unusual freshness for that latitude. Not only is Château Simone’s white arguably the finest in Mediterranean France but its pink is also very fine and much more “serious” and age-worthy than most whilst its red is getting increasingly favourable reviews.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:07 am

Not often we see a wine from the Palette appellation Tim. Quite a few here might wonder where it is!! Used to find some in London years ago but here...... :( . Quote from UK board "just 45 hectares and half of that is Simone. There are 2 other producers".

Will you be stocking up at the supermarket when in-house PO is otherwise engaged? Perhaps their rose is there too.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:13 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Not often we see a wine from the Palette appellation Tim. Quite a few here might wonder where it is!! Used to find some in London years ago but here...... :( . Quote from UK board "just 45 hectares and half of that is Simone. There are 2 other producers".

Will you be stocking up at the supermarket when in-house PO is otherwise engaged? Perhaps their rose is there too.


Bob, luckily in-house PO likes Château Simone white very much :D , so I don't think there'll be any opposition to a few bottles. We first grew to love it when staying for a few days at a then Michelin starred establishment near Aix-en-Provence with a view on Montagne Ste.Victoire, much painted by Cézanne.

The white is at InterMarché supermarket. The other big supermarket in Lisieux, Leclerc, stocks the rosé but I haven't seen the red anywhere.

PS - If you do a search here on "palette", you get so many hits that it is not easy to find what one wants. Most hits are misspellings of "palate" :shock: . I thought that Robin had educated people out of that one :roll: .
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:48 pm

Tim, there are a series of mis-spellings on the UK board too!
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:04 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Tim, there are a series of mis-spellings on the UK board too!


Sigh! :cry:
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:45 am

Here is another Vinho Verde from PROVAM. a top flight producer.

2012 Portal do Fidalgo Vinho Verde Portal do Fidalgo.

Good natural cork, 13% alc, 100% Alvarinho, Moncao district, $20 Cdn.

Tasted over 2 days, softened up somewhat on the finish overnight. Color is a pale straw, no green. Mineral nose, apple, some peach.
Initial entry thought is typical dry style, clear, crisp, brief hint of spritz. Lemon for sure , apple, nice balance and long finish which is rather bracing at first. Great match with pan-fried cod and salad.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:34 pm

Picpoul de Pinet 2013 - Domaine Félines Jourdan

This white is made from a variety called Picpoul round a place called Pinet, which is close to a large mildly salt watered lake called Étang de Thau next to the Languedoc Mediterranean coast.

We ordered this to accompany lobster at a brasserie terrace overlooking the fishing port at Trouville. At first when the wine was very cool, I found it medium/light bodied, crisp, mineral and refreshing with some juicy citrus fruit and a saline finish. During terrace dining in warm weather like today's, the wine in the glass warmed quite rapidly and it became distinctly less appealing with a loss of crispness and focus and a coarsening of the finish. Keep this one cool; if so, quite good.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by David M. Bueker » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:00 pm

Best I can say at this point is that I have some California Picpoul headed my way in the fall.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:35 pm

Tim, you beat me to the punch! My Picpoul is in a bit of a line-up right now :) .
I see (below) drink with anchovies?

http://www.picpoul-de-pinet.com/en/the-wine
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Jon Leifer » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:33 pm

Boutari Santorini..a relatively large production Assyrtiko , pretty consistent year in, year out,,, typically full bodied, notes of citrus, wildflowers..understated nose...reminded me of sitting on a windswept patio, overlooking the sea..enjoy this wine with seafood, cheese, olives, salads..
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by JC (NC) » Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:52 pm

I'd like to participate. Is it okay if I throw in an Albarino (from Rias Baixas, Galicia, Atlantic coastal area of Spain) and a Verdicchio from the Adriatic coast of Italy? I also have a Greco di Tufo from Campania, Italy which should qualify as a Mediterreanean terroir. I guess this broad wants to broaden the already broad choices for the month.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by David M. Bueker » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:17 pm

Go for it!
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Jon Leifer » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:17 am

sounds good to me, JC..As David said, Go for it
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:37 am

Jon Leifer wrote:sounds good to me, JC..As David said, Go for it


Picking nits, I would argue anyway that the Adriatic is an arm or bay of the Mediterranean, just like the Aegean Sea or the Golfe du Lion.

And I think we ruled in Portuguese and Spanish Atlantic whites right from the start as well as whites from South-Western France, all of which have much less Mediterranean character than Adriatic and Greek wines.

Anyone going to produce a white from the Southern shore of the Med (extended to cover Morocco)? Some Moroccan reds are very decent and some Algerian sites enjoyed AOC status, I think, and VDQS, certainly, when Algeria was still considered part of France.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:27 pm

Herault..my Mediterranean tour continues!

2012 Domaine Capion Le Colombier, Coteaux du Languedoc.

Well-established domaine that can turn out some very nice reds. This white is 77% Viognier and 23% Roussanne. 13% alc, $26 Cdn, good natural cork.

Light lemon in color, soft aromatic nose, floral, apple. Medium-bodied with excellent acidity. Tons of mineral here, some honeysuckle on the lengthy finish. Herb, citrus, white stonefruit, went well with chicken breasts in a garlic herb butter. Tad pricey but a new arrival downtown so had to try.

2012 Domaine Delsol Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet.

Big expectations with good memories of previous vintages! There has been good Picpoul discussion here of late so lets go!

SC, 12.5% alc, $19 Cdn, think from a cooperative..Vignobles Foncalieu?

Medium straw color, slightly floral on the nose, fruity, citrus/lime. Pear and herbs as it opens..."plenty of mineral here" from across the table.
Dry, lively entry. Not as concentrated as wine above but good acidity. Grapefruit, hint of pepper on the finish. No spritz like some others but could not find the salty element from other Picpouls. Apple and pear, agree with another poster (TomH) who mentioned a "chalky" character. Some nice developement on day 2..more white fruit flavors and herbs. I did not find it too ripe, this wine sure delivers so try to find more in the future.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:10 am

A couple of interesting ones there, Bob. I confess to not yet being a big Picpoul fan but I'll work on it. The same used to be true with Muscadet but I've seen the light there.

Who's going to give us some TNs on such interesting Med wines from local varieties such as Catalan Xarel Lo, Sicilian Grillo and Caricante and their equivalents from Friuli, Croatia, Greece....... I would if I could find them here :( .
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:03 pm

Côtes du Roussillon 2012 - Château de Corneilla, Jonquères d'Oriola, Vignobles 1485 - Alc.13% -(c.€9), made from Macabeu and Grenache.

Like my recently drunk Picpoul de Pinet, this white was temperature sensitive but in the opposite direction. First impressions (at about 14°C) were very Mediterranean with complex aromas of garrigue (= Med. undergrowth), white fruit and spice with an underlying roundness on the palate, sweetness seemingly trying to come out and a caramelised finish which I didn't particularly care for. This last led me to consult the back label which advised 10-12°C. Not only did this ill advised rapid cooling eliminate the caramelised finish but it removed all other taste and left a cool bland liquid. Nursing the wine back up to close to its starting temperature improved matters and I guess that about 12-13° was right with the Med flavours kicking back in but with the caramelised elements decently discreet. Quite good, if not too cool.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:30 pm

I am always looking out for white Roussillon so appreciate the note Tim. I will be moving on from Vinho Verde, over to Bairrada to try the `09 Campolargo Branco which is close to 90% Cercial. This wine was gifted to me by the owners of my fave winestore downtown (Xmas 2012). Tasted at a staff do, the concensus was that this white and the Pinot Noir were top drawer. Stay tuned :D .
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:52 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:I am always looking out for white Roussillon so appreciate the note Tim. I will be moving on from Vinho Verde, over to Bairrada to try the `09 Campolargo Branco which is close to 90% Cercial. This wine was gifted to me by the owners of my fave winestore downtown (Xmas 2012). Tasted at a staff do, the concensus was that this white and the Pinot Noir were top drawer. Stay tuned :D .


Pinot Noir from Portugal, Bob? I'd be curious to try that or, as second best, read a TN. My instinct is that Portugal is too warm to make good PN but perhaps with their Altantic exposure they can find cool and certainly windy spots. Needless to say, Portuguese wines are conspicuous by their absence here, except for entry level ruby and tawny ports which many people drink as apéritifs :shock: .
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:32 am

Gracious me, port aperitif!! Do they serve on ice too :lol: .
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:57 am

2009 Campolargo Branco Bairrada, Portugal Beiras Bairrada.

Carlos Campolargo was in town again recently, sure has a very interesting portfolio of wines, including a Pinot Noir which I have in the cellar. His wines can be quite expensive, this Cerceal blend was close to $40 Cdn.

13% alc, 85% Cerceal with a little Arinto and Bical, good natural cork.
Very light golden color, pear citrus and some oak on the nose with some nutty tones on day 2.
Initial entry thought was dry, excellent acidity. Citrus, herbal, lime, "grapefruit" from across the table. I found it very appealing and really quite unique as one does not often come across such a blend. Very flavorful and went well with cod fritters and a cucumber salad.
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Re: Wine Focus for August: Whites of the Med, Plus

by Tim York » Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:14 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:2009 Campolargo Branco Bairrada, Portugal Beiras Bairrada.

Carlos Campolargo was in town again recently, sure has a very interesting portfolio of wines, including a Pinot Noir which I have in the cellar. His wines can be quite expensive, this Cerceal blend was close to $40 Cdn.

13% alc, 85% Cerceal with a little Arinto and Bical, good natural cork.
Very light golden color, pear citrus and some oak on the nose with some nutty tones on day 2.
Initial entry thought was dry, excellent acidity. Citrus, herbal, lime, "grapefruit" from across the table. I found it very appealing and really quite unique as one does not often come across such a blend. Very flavorful and went well with cod fritters and a cucumber salad.


That sounds like just the sort of wine I seek out :) . Original flavours from a cocktail of grape varieties more or less specific to the country/region where they are grown - much more interesting than the zillionth rendering of Chard, SB or Merlot.
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