Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Sur Lie" or Surly?

I thought I might score another varietal on my Wine Century Club - seeing as how this is a 100% Melon de Bourgogne wine - but, much to my surprise, I find that we tried another bottle from this winery right at the very start of our Wine Odyssey. Bottle #4 on The List was another wine from the Loire at our Wine Boyz session that kicked off the blog. Funny, that.

469. Domaine de l'Ecu - Expression d'Orthogneiss (AOC Muscadet Sevre et Maine - Loire - France)

So here we are, 460-some odd bottles done, and another Domaine de l'Ecu wine shows up on our table. I just re-read part of that original post and the Nantais was not a crowd pleaser. There was even a reference to "nasty." I know that some of Domaine de l'Ecu's wines are vinified "sur lie" - meaning that the wine is aged on the lees, or the deposits of dead or residual yeast that precipitate in the wine, instead of fining or removing those deposits earlier in the aging process. And, while there is no reference, on the label, to this wine being aged "sur lie," our immediate reaction to the first so many sips was that it was rather "surly."

Everything I read about this winery sounds favourable, but the actual taste just didn't seem to pull it off for us.

The current owner/winemaker, Guy Brossard, is the fifth generation of the family to run the winery and he moved the winery in the direction of a full celebration of the terroir of the lands. They started farming organically in 1976 and, after ten years of organic viticulture, the winery followed fully biodynamic principles as of 1986. In fact, three of the reserve cuvees are actually named after the soil characteristics of the vineyards where the grapes are grown.

This "Expression d'Orthogneiss" was sourced from a five acre vineyard where the soil and rock resembles schist that is derived from igneous rock (and is pictured on the label) - as opposed to the winery's other vineyards that are composed of gneiss or granite.

As I mentioned, family-owned and operated, biodynamic, interesting varietal and a long history - what's not to like? Unfortunately, the contents in the bottle seemed to be the answer. Despite high recommendations from the bottle shop and some highly-regarded wine writers, Boo's and my initial reaction didn't have us running back for another glass.

I will say though that the wine opened up and became more approachable after an hour or so. But still didn't offer up much in the way of fruit and/or acid like so many white wines we see nowadays and I don't think it really matched our palates. Not sure that I'd pick up another bottle - even though I didn't remember having tried a Domaine de l'Ecu wine before this.

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