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Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:37 am

Following up from our thread on postentional wine focus topics, it's (mostly) French Mountain wines. The general idea is to taste a range of wines from the Jura and Savoie, but feel free to post on other European mountain wines (e.g. Switzerland, Alto Adige) if availability issues affect your ability to participate.

There are no rules on minimum vineyard elevation to qualify as "mountain" wine, so do't be concerned if your mountain wine comes from a mountain valley!
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:22 am

Excellent! I just sat down at the computer, looked at my calendar, and went, "D'oh! It's March!" :oops:

Thanks for picking up the ball, David. I like this approach. Hmm, where's that Chave Hermitage?
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Dave Erickson » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:42 am

French-speaking Italian regions are okay, yes? :D

http://www.winemule.com/2012/08/fumin-rarity-from-vallee-daoste.html
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:06 pm

I start off the month with an outstanding example from this fascinating region.

Côtes du Jura Fleur de Savagnin 2001 – Domaine Labet, Rotalier – Alc.13%. IIRC Alain Labet during a Brussels tasting told me that this cuvée is made in the non-oxidative style and it certainly tastes that way. Colour was a quite deep yellow. I would have taken the aromas on the nose for mature Chardonnay with their creamy fruit and slightly nutty roundness. The palate was very dry, quite complex and full bodied. On entry and mid-palate the Chardonnay illusion persisted as well as a caressing roundness which gave a slight impression of sweetness. However as the long finish approached, Savagnin’s tangy acidity and nutty undertones started to kick in, then to fan out and amplify leaving a beautifully crisp yet rich after-taste. Excellent 17/20.

There are now two Labet estates; that of father Alain and that of son Julien. Both have good reputations.

I have found a link http://charlesnealselections.com/wine/j ... ine-labet/ which talks about the Labet estate(s) and the various wines, oxidative and non-oxidative and red and white, on offer there which covers pretty much the diverse and original range available in the region.

I also attach a link to photos giving an idea of the Jura landscape which, as you will see, is very different from that in Savoy, on which I will post when I open a bottle from there. https://www.google.be/search?q=jura+fra ... 4&bih=550a series o

I hope to open a vin jaune later this month if we can have a suitable pairing. These are made in the oxidative style which allows the development of a veil of yeast, known as voile, similar to flor in the sherry region.

PS French Mountain Wines could also include Irrouléguy from the Pyrenees. These also offer some very original flavours in both red and white.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:31 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:French-speaking Italian regions are okay, yes? :D

http://www.winemule.com/2012/08/fumin-rarity-from-vallee-daoste.html


Very much so, I think, though French speaking is not as prevalent in the Valle d'Aosta/Val d'Aoste as you would think from wine labels. I discovered this to my cost when our car broke down at Aosta a few years ago.

As it happens, the UK wine board had an offline recently on these quite rare wines and here is a link about it which gives a lot of information and discussion http://www.wine-pages.com/ubb/ultimateb ... 1;t=037165 . I hope that I'm not breaking the rules here or there by providing this :? .

Another mountain region near Aosta where much more French is spoken is Switzerland's Valais. I was able to explore their wines a few years ago and I'll try to dig up links.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:15 pm

Bravo Tim, great start to the month. Lots to digest eh. Those UK WIMPS know how to do things in style! :D
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Bill Hooper » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:02 pm

Excellent -I love this topic. I might have to dig a little to find anything from France, but Alto Adige (Südtirol) and to a lesser extent, Switzerland are plentiful in Germany.

David: I've seen a couple times here that you've written that you don't like Alto Adige. Why is that? I would think that a German/Austrian fan would find those wines naturally appealing.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Mark Lipton » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:05 am

NV Dom. Belluard Vin de Savoie Ayse Methode Traditionelle
A sparkling wine made form the autochthonous grape Gringet, it was fairly distinctive with a nose of quince with floral notes. The mouthfeel was creamy and it had a fairly fine mousse. Overall, it was a very nice sparkling wine and went well with sushi tonight.

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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Rahsaan » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:38 am

Tim York wrote:Côtes du Jura Fleur de Savagnin 2001 – Domaine Labet... I would have taken the aromas on the nose for mature Chardonnay...On entry and mid-palate the Chardonnay illusion persisted as well as a caressing roundness which gave a slight impression of sweetness...


This happens to me a lot in the Jura. The Savagnin tastes like Chardonnay because of the round sweet nuttiness, but the Chardonnay can also taste like Savagnin because it is sharper than the average Burgundy.

I guess that's terroir winning out. (Either that or a lack of understanding of how both grapes should be interpreted locally)
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09 Ganevat Marnes Bleues

by Rahsaan » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:44 am

I've been wanting to try the 2009 Ganevat Cotes du Jura Les Chalasses Marnes Bleues for a while, so March 1 Wine Focus was a fine reason. I had heard many good things and thankfully it lived up to all my expectations. So lovely, so elegant, golden mineral earth with deep pumping vibrant fruit yet fine sleek mineral definition. It performed beautifully at the dinner table with a red kale omelette, sauteed criminis, and roasted japanese sweet potatoes. It also continued on well after dinner with prosciutto and comté tartines. What's not to love.

Much like Tim above, this Savagnin sometimes made me think of Chardonnay. But mainly it made me happy.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:07 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:David: I've seen a couple times here that you've written that you don't like Alto Adige. Why is that? I would think that a German/Austrian fan would find those wines naturally appealing.


Generally I find them to be thin versions of their Alsatian counterparts.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:16 am

David M. Bueker wrote:
Bill Hooper wrote:David: I've seen a couple times here that you've written that you don't like Alto Adige. Why is that? I would think that a German/Austrian fan would find those wines naturally appealing.


Generally I find them to be thin versions of their Alsatian counterparts.


Jean Fisch gave a Südtirol dinner a few years ago and I recall some very interesting wines. However, I cannot locate my TNs on them in the archive (if I wrote any) and I didn't seek out any of the wines for further drinking at home.

However I did buy bin ends of a Pinot noir from the region which was probably the best which I have had from outside Burgundy. Here is my TN on my last bottle opened almost exactly two years ago.

Pinot Nero Barthenau Vigna S. Urbano Alto Adige DOC 1995 – J. Hofstätter is just about the best Pinot Noir which I have had from outside Burgundy. This bottle showed medium body, elegant and pure but complex red and dark fruit with a lot of cherry, still lively acidity, touches of minerals, good length and classical shape on the palate; excellent but possibly a tad faded compared with my memories of a glass at a tasting a couple of years ago; 16.5/20++.

Südtirol/Alto Adige is, like Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste, a bilingual region but here the majority of German speakers cling stubbornly to their mother-tongue, whereas I have the impression that in Aosta there is less linguistic tension and that Italian has very much the upper hand over French.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Rahsaan » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:38 pm

2010 Puffeney Arbois Trousseau Les Bérangères
Probably best to either hurry up and drink or wait awhile, as the tannins come in quite fierce. But, I did get some good drinking out of the bottle. Earthy tannic and tart, yet with deep berry fruit and with enough air all the elements integrate into a lovely mouthful of wine.

I think I've only had one other vintage of this cuvee (2007) and there is plenty to like. But for whatever reason, even if the Trousseau wines are more reputed by some, I have often preferred the Poulsards for the more delicate lacy fruit.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:13 am

Question, I am wondering if Valtellina (Lombardy) could qualify as a mountain wine? I have a heads up on Triacca :wink:
"The Superiore is 95% Nebbiolo. Vineyards are planted on precipitous slopes along the Adda river" quote Nicolas Belfrage.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by David M. Bueker » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:44 pm

Funny enough, Wink Lorch just recently posted a rant about the Jura being called a mountain wine region. Apparently the vineyards are not exactly high on the topo maps.

From wikipedia (I know...I know): The majority of the regions vineyards are found at altitudes between 820-1,310 ft (250-400 m) between the plains of the Bresse region and the Jura Mountains.

1310 feet likely does not pass the Oswaldo bar for high altitude. :wink:
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:42 pm

What is a mountain?

When I was a kid, I thought that a mountain had to have a pointed peak on which one could clean one's finger nails :wink: , in the way that Matterhorn looks from Zermatt. I considered that there were none in my native Britain where all the ranges have more or less rounded peaks. The Jura is similar but slightly higher with some impressive cliffs as there are also in places in the Scottish Highlands, Welsh Snowdonia and the English Lake District

This is hardly serious, so how about the following extracted from Wikipedia.

The UN Environmental Programme's definition of "mountainous environment" includes any of the following:[8]

Elevation of at least 2,500 m (8,200 ft);
Elevation of at least 1,500 m (4,900 ft), with a slope greater than 2 degrees;
Elevation of at least 1,000 m (3,300 ft), with a slope greater than 5 degrees;
Elevation of at least 300 m (980 ft), with a 300 m (980 ft) elevation range within 7 km (4.3 mi).

Using these definitions, mountains cover 33% of Eurasia, 19% of South America, 24% of North America, and 14% of Africa.[9] As a whole, 24% of the Earth's land mass is mountainous.[10]


On some of these bases, I am sure that the Jura range culminating at 1720 m would qualify as a mountainous region but perhaps not the western foothills where most of the vineyards are located.

Why does Wink care?
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:00 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Question, I am wondering if Valtellina (Lombardy) could qualify as a mountain wine? I have a heads up on Triacca :wink:
"The Superiore is 95% Nebbiolo. Vineyards are planted on precipitous slopes along the Adda river" quote Nicolas Belfrage.


Why not, indeed?

I think I have two or three bottles from there in my cellar :) .
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:20 am

I'm beginning to feel a bit lonely on this WF :?

It is true that even here wines from the Jura and Savoie are not exactly numerous on the shelves, in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the fact that they offer a wide palette of original flavours often from local grape varieties. The same applies even more to the other Alpine regions which have been mentioned such Swiss Vaud and Valais and Italian (?) Alto Adige, Valle d'Aosta and Valtellina.

As often in WFs I tried the supermarket test and found a lone Roussette de Savoie Cuvée Réservée 2011 - Adrien Vacher - Alc.12% - (c€7). It is possible that I served this dry white too cool (c.11°C = 52°F) for full expression but this is what I found. Pale strax colour. A subdued but refreshing nose with mineral and very faint floral notes. The palate was medium/light, very dry but a bit simplistic showing marked minerals and salinity, lively acidity and some underlying white fruit and a little "gras". Easy to drink with plaice but I recall that the region can do better than this. Fairly good 14.5/20.

To add a little more information about the region, most of the vineyards are located on the Alpine slopes of the Lake of Geneva and of the Rhône and Isère valleys but not at particularly high altitudes.

The main regional appellations are -

Roussette de Savoie (often with a village name)
Vin de Savoie (often with a village and a grape name)
Vin du Bugey
Seyssel
Crépy

The main grape varieties are -

White
Roussette (AKA Altesse)
Jacquère
Bergeron (AKA Roussanne)
Chasselas (AKA Fendant in Valais Switzerland)

Red
Mondeuse
Gamay
Persan

Here is a link to an article by Wink Lorch who is a tireless advocate for the region http://www.wine-pages.com/guests/wink/savoie.htm
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Salil » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:32 am

Ludwig Bindernagel is making some lovely wines right now...

2008 Les Chais du Vieux Bourg Crémant du Jura Delire des Lyres
Really nice. Fresh, pale fruit with some savoury earthy and crackery elements lifted by gentle effervescence and bright acids; very refreshing and easy to drink.

2008 Les Chais du Vieux Bourg Pinot Noir Côtes du Jura
At first it's all about pure red fruits conveyed with an incredibly delicate touch with a sense of real transparency and lightness to the flavours, but leftovers the next day become more savoury, saline and earthy, with a vivid mineral undercurrent emerging. A beautiful wine, and I'm glad I have more.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Tim York » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:42 am

Salil wrote:Ludwig Bindernagel is making some lovely wines right now...

2008 Les Chais du Vieux Bourg Crémant du Jura Delire des Lyres
Really nice. Fresh, pale fruit with some savoury earthy and crackery elements lifted by gentle effervescence and bright acids; very refreshing and easy to drink.

2008 Les Chais du Vieux Bourg Pinot Noir Côtes du Jura
At first it's all about pure red fruits conveyed with an incredibly delicate touch with a sense of real transparency and lightness to the flavours, but leftovers the next day become more savoury, saline and earthy, with a vivid mineral undercurrent emerging. A beautiful wine, and I'm glad I have more.


Sali, that is a new name for me. Visiting his website, I notice that he lists nothing younger than 2006!?
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:23 am

Tim York wrote:What is a mountain?

When I was a kid, I thought that a mountain had to have a pointed peak on which one could clean one's finger nails :wink: , in the way that Matterhorn looks from Zermatt. I considered that there were none in my native Britain where all the ranges have more or less rounded peaks. The Jura is similar but slightly higher with some impressive cliffs as there are also in places in the Scottish Highlands, Welsh Snowdonia and the English Lake District

Nice rumination, Tim. In North America, one might make a similar comparison between the Rockies in the west, which are "mountains" by any standard, and the eastern Appalachians, which are geologically far older, rounder, not so high, but which the natives will fiercely defend as mountain country.

I think the duck test applies: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck."

Is the northern Rhone's Hermitage a mountain? It sure felt like it after walking up to Sterimberg's Chapelle. Are the Rhone villages on mountainsides or hillsides? (I think Mont Ventoux and Les Dentelles are certainly mountains, but what about vineyards planted on the lower slopes.

So many questions ...
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Salil » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:55 am

Nice piece by Eric Asimov in NYT on the wines of Valle a'Aosta - seems like he's experimenting with some mountainous areas too. Click!

Tim, Chais du Vieux Bourg's a relatively new producer from what I see - Chambers just started selling the wines about a year ago, and I am a big fan. Like so many others in the Jura, very inexpensive (both wines run about $22-25) and good value as well.

Took delivery of a 2011 Tissot Poulsard sans soufre, which I'm looking forward to opening later this month. Next mountain wine on deck though is an 09 Puffeney Pinot Noir, which was a bit rich and too fruit forward for my liking on release, hoping it's slimmed down some with a couple of years in bottle.
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:09 pm

I think the duck test applies: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

Whoa Robin, poor quote! :lol:

Of all the duck species in N America, the Gadwall is the only real duck that goes "quack quack".

Birder Bob.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/gadwall/sounds

Guess the mallard is a sort of quack quack?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig8rssBkbMY
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Re: Wine focus for March: (mostly) French Mountain Wines

by Bill Hooper » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:21 pm

Tim York wrote:I'm beginning to feel a bit lonely on this WF :?


Yeah, I was going to pick up some Südtirol reds for this weekend, but the weather has been so wonderful that we're grilling (oink not moo). I ended up with a couple of bottles of Riesling. I'll need to get to Mannheim or Alsace if I wan't to pick up something from Savoie or Jura.

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