So, it’s official – I’m a groupie. I should start wearing a Juice Import tee shirt to show my support for natural wine importers Erik Mercier and Mark Couillard. On Sunday, I took my sister-in-law Turned to Juice Import’s Laurent Saillard wine tasting ($20) at Bricks Wine Co. For this post, let’s listen to “Foux du Fafa” by Flight of the Conchords.
Bricks Wine Co. has one of the city’s most pleasant tasting rooms. The sunlight emitted through the windows adds warmth, while the roominess makes it comfortable to tuck into a session. Sequestered in a quiet nook in the back of the shop, guests remain mostly hidden from customers shopping in the store.
Erik began our session by delineating Laurent Saillard, a small winery in the tiny town of Pouille in Loire Valley. The owner, Laurent, and his team produce only 2,000 cases yearly. I took the information to mean I had to act quickly to pick up some of Brick’s stock, as these wines won’t hang around for much longer.
The first bottle we tried was Blank (Sauvignon Blanc, $41.95). Made from one hundred percent Sauvignon Blanc grapes, Erik described this as the antithesis of Sauvignon Blancs, so if you typically hate Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll relish this one.
Oh my goodness – what a pretty fragrance! Erik said this was the most sought-after bottle in the line-up. I loved it. Since I was buying a bottle, I asked Erik what food to pair with Blank. Considering the grassy and gooseberry notes and high acidity, he suggested something bitter, like radicchio leaves and/or goat cheese.
The second tasting was White ($37.95), a delicately sweet wine made from fifty percent Ugni Blanc and fifty percent Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is a rarity, as the wine production resulted from Laurent losing most of his crop. The White vintage is a collaboration with his neighbour and a winery in the south of France.
Erik described this wine as “lush, with body, weight and a ripeness to it.” I asked Mark what he would pair with White. He suggested cooked vegetables that are mild tasting in a creamy sauce. I bought a bottle to share with my vegetarian friends.
The third bottle was Un Ete Partage Grolleau ($37.95). The fragrance was floral, and the texture was silky. Erik described the wine as light, fresh and herbaceous, with a nuttiness similar to sunflower seeds.
The fourth wine was La Paire Gamay Noir ($37.95). I found this a lively, wild wine with a bite to it. Erik mentioned the whole cluster of grapes and stems are kept on while being pressed. I asked what the branches add to the wine-making process. I learned that the stems are still alive and metabolizing throughout fermentation, contributing to a softer feeling of the wine.
The fifth tasting was La Pause Gamay Noir ($37.95), which reminded me of the smell of a plastic Barbie doll. Turned said she smelled whiskey. I guess our lived experiences do influence what we taste in new wines.
The sixth bottle we sampled was Ca Se Discute Pineau d’Aunis ($37.95). I smelled raisins. Turned tasted Dr. Pepper. Her neighbour said he could taste Cola. Erik described this wine as peppery with pomegranate, and he could envision eating this with salami on the steps of a cafe in Paris. Turned joked that this wine would pair perfectly with a cigarette.
The seventh tasting was Grenache ($37.95). Erik characterized the wine as supple and aromatic. He recommended slightly chilling this wine and all the other wines we tried before drinking it. He noted the cellars in Loire Valley are cool, so the wine is brought up and served colder than room temperature. The coolness gives the wine more structure and grip and allows the flavours to pop out.
Erik and Mark surprised us with a bonus bottle from their cellar- 2017 La Pause. He described this wine as everything you could want from a Gamay Noir – soy and dried leaves backed up perfectly with cherry Cola.
As with all of Juice Import’s tastings, we received a ten percent discount on the wine we sampled. I left with two bottles, Turned with three, and another guest picked up a case of Laurent Saillard wines. With the wine seminar only costing twenty bucks, the discount on wine, and factoring inflation, this is the deal of the century! Hip, hip, hooray to Juice Imports.