WBW #37 Go native: Domaine Monte de Luz 2005 & Torus 2004

Well somebody sure came up with a tantalizing challenge for WBW 37. Tyler Dr Vino Colman's theme was discovering indigenous grapes (those other than the big six grapes varieties being the general idea), but his exciting call to action was tasting said indigenous grapes by drinking them in their native homeland.

alain brumont southwest france tannat varietal wine toros madironHmmm... Let's see. Shall I fly off to Northern Moravia in the Czech Republic for more of that Modrý Portugal? Maybe I'll just jet out to Château de Chassagne in Montrachet for some Aligoté with Michel Picard -- haven't seen him in a while anyway... wait, I hear the Almalfi Coast is nice this time of year and I've been meaning to sample the Piedirosso first hand.

I eventually came back to reality and realized that Wine Blogging Wednesday was already upon me, no time to pack or to even book a ticket. It was clear I would be drinking in my own kitchen for WBW 37.

Luckily for participants, Tyler, the good host that he is, built in a second challenge for those WBW keeners like me who can't seem to do enough each time this monthly event comes around. He claims bigger bonus points will go to those who have their indigenous wine at the same time they sample its New World wine counterpart.

Rising to this challenge I drank Domaine Monte de Luz Tannat 2005 from Uruguay and Alain Brumont's Torus Madiran 2004, an appellation contrôllée from France's Southwest.

For each wine, the main grape variety is the lusty and powerful Tannat, the only grape that is spelled the same backwards as it is forwards, and apparently a lot of these Uruguayans think they have the grape sussed out after the Basques brought it across the Atlantic Ocean in the 1800s. But does the New World come up with a hopelessly backwards rendering of this legendary vinifera?

To answer that question, Domaine Monte de Luz Tannat 2005, being the younger of the two, was up first (though it's not younger by much -- only half a year since Uruguay is a Southern Hemisphere country).

At first approach, this had light fuschia edges with darker ruby centre. Is this a bretty smell I'm getting? It's a rather stinky barnyard aroma, eventually loosening up to reveal hints of candy, perhaps even cotton candy. Holy Montevideo.

domain de luzz tanat uraguay carquera red wineOn the palate, there was red currant, quite astringent with plenty of greenness right out of the bottle with an unforgiving bitter aftertaste. Also cocoa and kir -- chocolate-covered cherries with a lot of bite to it but little real depth. Dinner helps it down a bit but this one comes up short in most respects... except when after the tasting was done and we drank the remainder with 86% dark chocolate -- then it fit right in. It's a cheap boozer. Thoroughly rough hewn.

I bought this bottle in Tyler's very own indigenous hinterland of Manhattan. It was at Martin Bros, a recommended merchant from his ingenious indigenous New York City wine shop map. I got a good deal on it too. I think it was on sale for only $6.

And then it was the Torus's turn. Torus Madiran 2004 is about twice the price of the former so you expect more and that it does deliver. We moved up considerably from the earlier, more rustic version of Tannat. The Torus was buffered with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes -- potentially upping the ante and playing in its favour. That's full disclosure. Consider it a home court advantage.

And we taste. Nothing notably different in its colour or consistency, but the nose was softer in every way possible. Fellow taster Eric S. said it was indoorsy -- a reference to his calling the last one outdoorsy, which at the time drew the comment "outdoorsy, like a logging camp" from another drinking buddy. Point taken: the greater integration of tannins here was duly noted.

Tasting this Tannat brought forth elegance and dynamic effect. Spicy but refreshing, almost like a Pinot Noir. Had exactly the finish that the Luz didn't. Long and lingering with a strong mouthfeel receding into tingling mouthcoating acid. Fruit was also more sophisticated.

It was delicious with a hearty dinner of olive pasta and breaded chicken covered in grated Parmesan cheese. It doesn't brood like some more serious Madirans can and its lower price point makes it a little less extracted and easier to pair as a result. I'd take hands down every time. Find it in Quebec at almost every outlet of the SAQ.

head to head taste off indiginous wines wbw 38 old new world comparison
WBW 37 was a great exercise. I'm tempted to go back over my notes on the British Columbia Barbera I tasted last month and compare them to an example of an original Barbera d'Asti.

Mahoma, Uruguay. 13.5%; Domaines & Châteaux d'Alain Brumont, Maumusson, France. 14%.


Joe said...

This is freaky, like when my wife finishes my sentences. People will think we planned this, or that Tannat is the no. 1 grape in Montreal...Nice job. But of course the Brumont would win...I didn't use any Brumont wines to give Uruguay a chance. Perhaps my Uruguayan would even have stood up to Brumont?

Marcus said...

Tannat was what I had on hand and the easiest to match up with its indigenous Madiran precursor by running into an SAQ before it closed.

I did this post at 11.30 last night. Planning was not in the cards for this one!

Joe said...

by the way, you missed the LAST Midi conseils, ever (at the Metcalfe store). S. Africa. The most compelling was a Shiraz - 2003 Onyx Darling - very French. They also served the 2000 Merlust Rubicon - love this wine

RougeAndBlanc said...

You too! 6 tannats (yours, Joe's and mine) for WBW and the theme is not even for this grape!
I thought of trying a Monte de Luz also (cheap as you say) but your experience is EXACTLY what I don't want to go through.
Your tasting note of Monte de Luz is very similar to a 2004 Toscanini Tannat I tried earlier.
Looks like the lower-end Uruguayan tannats get a 'fail' grade from both of us.
Torus Madiran is not available in the east coast. If either you or Joe bring me a bottle next time when you visit NY, I promise I shall return a bottle of Chateau de Perron from my cellar as exchange.

Marcus said...

Sounds good R&B,

One thing a lot of these inexpensive and sometimes unwieldy South American wines is good for: midweek dinners/solo dining. When you don't finish the bottle, you know you're likely to be repaid the next night when the wine's evolved for the better.

The second night tasting is famous around my place, but I was surprised that it was the thrid night tasting for the Monte de Luz that was the charm. Would've gotten a better review had I that much time to deal with it!

Marcus said...

Another "second night" tasting note to add, this time about the Madiran Torus 2004 from Alain Brumont.

My original notes came from a night when there was no left over wine so uncorking a second bottle of this last night gave me another chance to assess.

Following lighter wines, it seemed more extracted than before.

A strong raisiny flavour and denseness to this wine makes it remarkable and attacking, bright and nourishing all at once. Brilliant!

And definitely elegant, as I had written before. One of the elegantest $15 wines around.

Anonymous said...

I've just read your interesting review and think it is a bit unfair to compare two wines when one costs more than double what the other costs.

Marcus said...

Well, gee, how unfair is it to publicly air criticisms under an anonymous name? The New York Times wouldn't let you away with that.

Just joking! Thanks for writing!

Your point is worth going over. All wine on this site is evaluated based on value so price is considered in every review you see. It's factored into every assessment. This was, I thought, clearly indicated in the post about Domaine de Luz that you complain about:

"And then it was the Torus's turn. Torus Madiran 2004 is about twice the price of the former so you expect more and that it does deliver. We moved up considerably from the earlier, more rustic version of Tannat."

This is me weighing the increase of wine quality with the increase in price. That's the DEFINITION of fairness I would say!

In the end, the cost disparity is not that great since I think they both fall into what people would classify everyday wines.

Torus is a tremendously successful wine, delivering in a big way at a mid-range price; the Luz finds less success, even though it only promised little at its little price.

What can I tell you? It's a battle of values and the Luz is the real loser is this head-to-head.

Rick said...

Sorry about the anonymous, and thanks for the clarification.

denisnewyork said...

Thanks to you guys for your passion around Tannat! I am so glad to see that in North America more and more people find this grape so wonderful. I am part of the family who owns Chateau Peyros in Madiran (easily found at SAQ). In 2000, convinced by my father, we planted a new vineyard from scratch which name is Monte de Luz. I appreciate your comments and tasting notes with a fine comparaison between Madiran - the original- and Uruguay, its SouthAm cousin. For those who found the 05 Monte de Luz Tannat a bit rustic and short, I understand what they mean and I encourage them to try our 2007 (just available in NY, NJ, CA and FL) and I would be happy to give more information when our Reserva Tannat and Reserva Tannat/Cabernet Sauvignon will be in the market for $13.00 / btle.

Madiran will still be Madiran, a great, wonderful, complex terroir and - we hope -Uruguay will continue to grow in quality and personality as the passion and knowledge of good winemakers and wineries are here to prove it.

Vive le Tannat, viva el Tannat !