Jasnières for spring ou un petit verre de printemps

A new Eat Boutique post is here and this time, the wine we tried is so delicious, we’re not even recommending a pairing. Hurry up: only 210 cases were imported to the US…

Je vous ai récemment informé de ce nouveau partenariat avec Eat Boutique, le blog d’une amie basée entre Paris et la Nouvelle-Angleterre. L’idée est de goûter pour eux à des vins de petits producteurs et de les accorder avec un plat de saison. Cette semaine, le vin qu’on a goûté vient d’une toute petite appellation, Jasnières, dans la Vallée de le Loire. Le producteur  ne cultive que 9 hectares et un distributeur américain lui a récemment acheté 210 caisses (2520 bouteilles) qui sont actuellement en vente aux États-Unis. Pour en savoir plus, c’est par ici que ça se passe.

Avis au Québécois: la SAQ ne distribue pas les vins de ce producteur, Pascal Janvier, mais cette bouteille vous permettra quand même de découvrir l’appellation Jasnières.

Grande finale

After one week in Mendoza, it’s time to go. We drank some of the best wines, we stayed at the best hotel and although we did not do the best winery lunch in the area, we did befriend the brains of the operation and are still a bit hungover as a result (see the previous post in French).


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Combining Phase 1 and 2 of the festivities: lunch at Ruca Malen winery with Jérôme and Élodie

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Making our own Malbec blends at Renacer winery

Tonight, to end on a high note, wer’re off to a local tasting room, Vines of Mendoza, for a tasting with a true rock star of Argentinean wines, Walter Bressia. After doing some barrel tasting and polishing off  a bottle of his fantastic Malbec with his daughter last week at the winery, we can’t wait to meet the man and try a few more bottles!


Tomorrow: Cordoba.

so many wines, so little time…

After spending 5 days tasting in one of the most laid back places we’ve been to in the last 6 months, we finally hopped on a bus to Tucuman (and then almost immediately to San Juan) with our sense memories overflowing.

Here are some of the highlights and recommendations:

Bodega Jose L. Mounier (also confusingly referred to as Finca Las Nubes) – this small to medium sized producer makes a wide range of entry level wines labelled as Finca Las Nubes, including a great P/Q torrontes and some OK reds.  They also produce a higher end blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat labelled as Jose L. Mounier.  It is a solid wine, but in this price range the bottles are remarkably good and better wines can be found.  Still, it’s a perfect compliment for a big fat bife de chorizo.  Price at winery A$80.

Bodega Porvenir – medium sized by Cafayate standards, the winery produces about 20,000 bottles each of their 6 flagship Laborum brand reds.  The Tannat has garnered some acclaim in the UK, being touted by the sommelier at Gaucho.  But I found the syrah and malbec to be really interesting expressions of the respective grapes.  Both can be overwhelmingly jammy and rich at times, almost sticky in the mouth.  Yet Porvenir wines are refreshing and balanced, with an unreal purity of fruit.  And a ridiculous deal when purchased at the bodega.  Price at winery A$60 (everywhere else A$80-100).

Bodega Tacuil – we were unable to visit because the winery is near Molinos, a town inaccessible by public transport.  However, we found this bottle in a small shop in Cafayate so gave it a try.  Apparently this is yet another place that claims to have the highest vineyard in the world, a very popular tag line around Salta.  What I can say about this malbec and cabernet sauvignon blend is that it is probably the biggest, fattest, most complex and tastiest wine I’ve ever had for the price.  “RD” is about halfway up their quality scale and it was amazing.  We had to let it breathe for about 1.5 hours, but once it opened up and settled down – wow!  Tried pairing it with a bife de chorizo, but honestly the food was no match.  Price at tiny local shop in town A$55.

Bodega Tukma – we heard about this one at a wine bar on our last night.  The winery doesn’t have tastings, so the wine bar offers its wine at a fractional mark up to allow visitors to taste.  The torrontes was along the same lines as San Pedro de Yacochuya… so refined and polished that it somehow misses out on the refreshing party in your mouth that makes drinking torrontes so much fun.  But it’s a fantastic wine;  something along the lines of an unoaked, more refreshing version of a white Bordeaux.

Some of Cafayate's finest

Some of Cafayate's finest

El Almacen Wine Bar – just off the main square in Cafayate, this place is a great choice for sampling some of the area’s finest quaffers.  The profit margin is minimal – it’s all about getting people to try the wines.  They even have some of the illusive San Pedro de Yacochuya wines by the glass!  Patience is a virtue though;  officially it opens around 8pm but in reality it depends what mood the owner is in which, in turn, depends on the recent football results.

View from the couch

View from the couch

All things considered, it was a great visit in a really cool little town.  While the area is a bit of a pain to get to from the north, it is definitely worth more than the cursory day-trip from Salta many tour operators run.  Just hop on an El Indio bus in Salta, enjoy the ridiculously stunning Quebrada de Cafayate along the way, and settle in for some truly chill wine country.

All things considered, it was a great visit in a really cool little town.  While the area is a bit of a pain to get to from the north, it is definitely worth more than the cursory day-trip from Salta many tour operators run.  Just hop on an El Indio bus in Salta, enjoy the ridiculously stunning Quebrada de Cafayate along the way, and settle in for some truly chill wine country.


Ah, Cafayate…

We just spent a week in the other Argentinean wine country. Not Mendoza but Cafayate, in the northwest. It’s a lot less accessible than Mendoza and thus a lot less visited and a lot quieter.

It is Torrontes country but our highlights were more of the red wine and beer type – yes, beer.

More to come soon but a few links to get you all started:

Porvenir Winery: definitely our best tasting experience since Vérité and some beautiful, beautiful wines; light but still extremely flavourful.

Tasting at Porvenir in Cafayate, Argentina

Tasting at Porvenir in Cafayate, Argentina

Me Echo la Burra Brewery – Belgian style brewing with a light, refreshing feel  in the Calchaquies Valley

Bodega Salvador Figueroa in Cafayate. What a winemaker makes once he retires: his wine, his way, his time and his quantity (5000 bottle per year). And no website.

We’re in San Juan now, getting ready for a second week of tasting, this time around here and later on in Mendoza…


Wine shopping abroad – a primer

Who among us doesn’t like a tipple of wine whilst on holiday?  This question is, of course, rhetorical… since everybody does!  But which wines are the “best” deals is a question as old as the fermented grape juice itself.

My reflex answer is drink local – sometimes the best wines never make it out of the production area and usually are very competitively priced.  However, this was challenged recently on our trip to a Panama City wine shop.  In the wine shop, not only were there NO strictly local wines to choose from,  but the French and US wine was ridiculously cheap – ridiculous as in cheaper than in France and the US.   But why?  Here goes my theory…

Reason 1)  The required profit margin on a bottle of wine in the US (or insert name of other “developed” wine producing country here) to cover rent, employee salaries, insurance, corporate tax, etc. is many times more than other places in the world.

Reason 2) The cost per bottle to ship wine overland long distances within the US can sometimes be more than bulk shipping by sea along traditional shipping routes

So, for the above reasons, Panama City really hits on all cylinders for drinking imported wine from traditionally expensive areas…  and if you don’t believe me, here are two examples (both including tax):

2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon – $55

2002/2003/2004 Hugel “Gentil” – $10 each

Anyway, moral of the story is: don’t automatically assume imported wine is a rip off simply because it’s imported.  Sometimes it can be a better deal than you think!