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This month I’ve been tasting for you…

Montebello, Cuvée Winch, 50% ABV, Canne Rouge (R579)

I inaugurate this new season of sugar cane harvesting with a fresh fresh novelty, which welcomed me on my arrival in Gwada, about a month ago: the distillery is Montebello, known in Italy only for a few vieux in special vintages, such as the 1984, and the two “Basseterre” bottled by Velier a few years ago, but in general very little known for everything else. No problem, as always we are here to fix it. Since last December the Montebello products are finally distributed to Italian market by Rinaldi 1957, and you will soon find the complete range on sale. Historical distillery of the butterfly island, the Carrère domaine that hosts it has been active since 1936 in Saint Claude, but it is only with Alain Marsolle that it reaches fame and development. Alain, after studying in France, made his debut in the “sucrière” sector in Guadeloupe, at Gardel and Sainte Marthe, then, in 1968, he began distilling at Carrère, which, in 1975, began to market his rum as ” Montebello ”, and, as the volume of business grows, begins to acquire more modern equipment. Today at the helm of the distillery we find the fourth generation of the Marsolles, Grégory and his brother Dominique, sons of Alain, attentive to respect for tradition and above all for the precious terroir which, for agricole rhum, as well as for a good wine, represents the only possibility to be recognizable and authentic: the soil of Basse Terre, volcanic and light, the harvest of sugar cane carried out exclusively by hand, parcel by parcel, by small planteurs who know parcoeur their craft and their raw material (also ensuring “cultural” continuity which would otherwise be lost), the exclusion of chemical plant protection products as well as a rapid processing engine, guarantee the quality of the white rums and are the prelude to a good aging process, which then takes place in the distillery’s chais, mainly in ex-bourbon American white oak barrels.
The cultivated varieties are Canne Verte (PR 61-632), Canne Rouge (R579) and Canne Blanche, otherwise known as Canne D’Or (R570). These different varieties are blended to create the final identity of the rums produced. The harvest brought to the distillery is further selected, and the stems are defibrated before being sent to the mills. The bagasse, or the fiber discarded from processing, is dried and reused as fuel for the chaudière, one of the last Stirlings in the Caribbean, another Guadeloupe’s historical industrial heritage. Fermentation takes place using the “pied de cuve” technique, allowing the concept of terroir to be naturally prolonged, in seven open tanks of 400 hectoliters each, and takes between 48 and 72 hours, constantly cured and managed, also by further dilution, if necessary. This is where the rum’s aromatic profile takes shape.
Distillation takes place, with due slowness, through two Créole columns, one of which is entirely in copper: at the exit of the column, the new born titles between 74 and 80% ABV, and fully reflects the identity designed by the previous stages. A long stop in steel (between 8 and 10 months) at full strength, and a subsequent and equally slow dilution with spring water (terroir, again), put the definitive signature on the cuvées.
The rum that I present to you today, called cuvée Winch, is a so-called “premium” white rum, distilled in a copper column and produced from Canne Rouge only. It was the first rum blanc we tasted as soon as we landed in Guadeloupe for this season, a very welcome gift from Paul Timon, brand ambassador of the brand.
Reduced to 50% ABV, in the glass it appears crystalline, compact and super greasy: dense little legs are outlined as it slowly descends towards the center, if you move it that little bit.
The nose is a wonderful concert of aromas that clearly, but very delicately, bring back the notes of the canne rouge: it opens with the force in a velvet glove of the rose petal, to quickly make room for the skin and juice of the pink grapefruit, with ripe mango, then with fresh ginger and pepper, to finish with a light balsamic sensation of badiane and with the all-Caribbean depth of bois d’inde and rubber.
In the mouth it is tonic, full: the freshness of the large citrus peel and of its pulp is renewed, sweetened by the very original and recognizable note of yellow melon and mango, while it rediscovers enveloping fatness in the green almond, and child vitality in pepper and in ginger notes. The final length is all of the badiane.
Equally memorable aftertaste, even if not very long: cold mint and pepper, more pepper.
A real ti-punch animal, which finds the right complement in the local honey and green little lemons of Marie Galante, so juicy and sweet.
Verre vide, or, we coul say, the “douceur de vivre aux Caraïbes”: Yellow melon, mango, pepper and citrus peel in profusion …
The Winch cuvée has a local selling price of around € 30, and is worth it until the last cent, as you can judge by the level of the bottle just one week after opening, with all the agricole rum at our disposal in Guadeloupe.
From your reporter in the “Holy Land” that’s all for now, but stay with me, there are many good news on the way.
Santé et surtout paix et douceur tou moun!

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