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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Purple Grape, Purple Grace
Superb Bergerac Blend
Superb Bergerac Blend
Caro Feely is one of the speakers at the 2017 Ballymaloe LitFest in May. At noon, on the 21st, she will engage in conversation with renowned wine-writer Tomás Clancy, in a presentation entitled “Glass Half Full - The Ups and Downs of Vineyard Life”. See LitFest.ie for tickets (€16.00). Should be a very interesting hour! Below we look at one of her interesting wines.
Terroir Feely, Grâce 2012, Vin de France, 14%, €25.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Saussignac, well known for its dessert wines, is an area near Bergerac, where Sean and Caro Feely operate, maybe not quite within the rules of the appellation, hence the Vin de France classification for this organic red wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%).
Operating on the edge can be a gamble. “We hold our nerve and wait to hand-pick the grapes for this wine with optimal ripeness. Our patience is rewarded with a rich, elegant and mineral wine, the grace of nature. A living wine, rich and fresh, that offers great depth of dark fruit, a hint of orange peel, spice and mint.” No sulphites have been added to this Very Highly Recommended 2012 edition, of which just 2,650 bottles were produced.
Grace has a purple colour with aromas of dark fruit (mainly plum), mint notes too. It is indeed rich and fresh, and dry, tannins fine-grained and persistent, some spice here too. And yes, that terrific depth of fruit but with a superb balance and then a long and satisfying finalé. A pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.
For a earlier review of La Source, another Feely blend of Cabernet and Merlot but in reverse proportions, check here.
Ferraton Les Pichères, Crozes-Hermitage (AC) 2009, 12.5%, €25.75 Mary Pawle Wines
This 100% Syrah is made from organically grown grapes on limestone sub-soil with, on the surface, large pebbles from the River Isère. It spends 8-10 months in barrel, depending on the vintage. Watch out too for the Ferraton Le Reverdy.
The Pichères is a deep ruby, a clean purple on bottom of the cork. There is a complex mix of aromas, including black and red fruits. Spice and pepper are prominent on the palate. It is medium to full bodied, fruity and so well balanced with an excellent finish. A well rounded serene Syrah, impressive overall and Very Highly Recommended.
Did you know, that in winemaking, rainfall is a big factor in the difference between the Northern Rhone where its hits 923mm per annum and the Southern where the average is 677mm? See World Atlas of Wine for more details.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Three Rivers. Three Reds
Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.
|The arena in Arles|
Vines need water and no surprise then that so many of the world's best known vineyards are planted on the banks of rivers. You’re all familiar with the spectacular pictures from the Douro and the Rhine, both World Heritage sites. Two of the rivers below, the Rhône and the Dordogne, will be well known to you. I suspect that not may be the case with the Piava.
The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France where it splits into two near Arles - its delta encloses much of the Camargue - before entering the sea. It is 812 kilometres long.
|Monbazillac, one of the sweet wine areas on the Dordogne.|
The Piave is the baby of these three. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. There is a cow's milk cheese with the same name and the river is known too for the Battle of the Piave (1918), the decisive battle of World War I on the Italian Front.
The RhonePierre Amadieu Côtes du Rhone (AOC) Grande Réserve 2011, 14%, €16.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licences
This well balanced wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a violet colour, the legs slow to clear. Blackberry and plum more than red berries feature on a somewhat muted nose, hints of clove too. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy, tannins are silky, acidity not too obvious, but it is well balanced overall, a powerful palate but not short on finesse and with a very pleasing finish.
The grapes are grown different soils, clay and limestone for the Grenache, pebbles and gravel for the Syrah. The fruit used is a “very careful selection”. Harvesting is manual and the wine is matured for six months in oak barrels. A good result! Very Highly Recommended.
Feely La Source Vin de France 2011, 13%, €23.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Saussignac, like neighbouring Monbazillac, is perhaps best known as an area that produces sweet wines. And it is here that Sean and Carlo Feely produce organic wines that are not sweet! Their vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Hand-crafted from old vines, this wine is aged gently for 18 months in French oak barrels. It is handpicked, basket pressed, with indigenous yeasts; it is unfined and unfiltered.
Colour is a deep purple. Plum is prominent in the aromas. Quite a depth of flavour (including plum), nice bit of spice too, concentrated and well balanced and the finish is good too. This 2011 blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet and is Highly Recommended.
The Feely suggests an Irish (Wine-Geese) connection to this Bergerac vineyard and there is. Read about it here. By the way, if you are in the area, why not visit Chateau Feely; it is just 75 minutes from Bordeaux and 15 from Bergerac. If you can't make it to Saussignac, maybe you'd like a little share in the vineyard? Details here.
Conte Loredan Gasparini Malbec Colli Trevigiani (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines
Colour here is a fairly intense violet and red fruits feature in the aromas. Rich flavours on the palate plus a good input of spice, excellent acidity too. Tannins are fine. Very smooth and approachable and then a good long finish. Very good indeed and Highly Recommended.
While this particular wine is labelled IGT, the winery has been cultivating Malbec for the past fifty years as part of their DOC Venegazzu. They say it is ideal as an aperitif (I can vouch for that!), with fried food and red meat.
Monday, April 11, 2016
This Bordeaux Is Hors Catégorie!
|Looking out over the vineyards from the top of the Sauve-Majeure Abbey|
Chateau Turcaud Cuvée Majeure 2014 Bordeaux blanc, 13.5%, €18.95 Le Caveau
Not too sure I should be shouting off the rooftops about this Bordeaux beauty. It is a perfect match - for me! I’m drawn first by its light gold colour. It almost sparkles in the glass. And then those complex aromas of white fruits (apple, pear) along with floral and minty hints and more. The deliciousness continues on the palate, enhanced by a rich voluptuous texture, a very pleasing balance of fruit and acidity, the oak nicely integrated, and a finish that lingers, reluctant to say goodbye.
Later, too late on this occasion, I read on the Chateau website that it “can benefit from decanting a half hour to a full hour before the meal, and is ideal served chilled but not too cold.” This wine, they add, is at its best as an aperitif or with marinated salmon, foie gras, fish terrine, scampi, scallops, lobster, fish in a sauce, white meat, and most cheeses.
Sauvignon gris (30%) plays a big role in the blend; also here are Sauvignon blanc (55%) and Semillon (15%). After fermentation in French oak (40% new), it is aged for six months on fine lees which are “stirred with a stick (bâtonnage) once a week to put the lees into suspension in order to produce more complex, aromatic wine”. I reckon they got it right! Very Highly Recommended or maybe, as they say in the Tour de France, hors catégorie.
Familia Cecchin Malbec 2015 (Maipu, Mendoza), 13.6%, €20.35 Le Caveau
Over-the-top labels usually make me quite cautious about the wine in the bottle. And when I saw that this Malbec expresses the “soul of those who make it”, I was thinking that's a bit over the top. But maybe not! This one, made from organic grapes, is Very Highly Recommended!
It has a dark violet colour with rich fruit aromas and a peppery drift as well. On the palate it may not be quite as in your face as some traditional Argentinian Malbecs but there is a gorgeous restrained rush of fruit flavours and a lively matching acidity, a delightful balance achieved, and with a smashing finalé.
Familia Cecchin, who farm in Maipu, Mendoza, is the first Argentinian winery to become part of the Artisan Craftsman Growers, a worldwide association of high quality winemakers. They work in a traditional manner, according to the Wines of South America -”They use horse-drawn plows, minimize the use of agricultural chemicals and use only native yeasts. The vineyards are bordered with aromatic plants.. to attract animal pests and keep them away from the vines.” They are well known for their Malbec, Carignan and Olive Oil!
Color is a lovely light gold, a bright one! The aromas include white fruit and blossom. Excellent white fruit (melon, peach) with good concentration, well rounded and refreshing overall plus a good finish. Eight months maturing on the lees helps. Highly Recommended.
This is the family speciality, their favourite! It is made from Sémillon harvested very ripe and partially passerillé (dried out). The full blend here (it will vary from season to season) is Semillon 70%, Sauvignon blanc 20, Muscadelle 10. They advise serving it with seafood, pike with white butter, grilled fish, a Cabécou. I’d like to try it with some of that fresh Goatsbridge Farm trout, also available in Kilkenny of course, and in many supermarkets.
Viticulture is biodynamic, the soil is nourished with seaweed and silica treatments to encourage microbial activity. Yields are low.
Menade Nosso Verdejo natural 2014, 13%, Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León, 13%, €19.95 (now 17.96) Le Caveau.
Castilla y Leon is a large region in northwest Spain that includes Rueda, now the undisputed home of Verdejo. The grapes for this wine come from Rueda itself, from Finca Menade. No added sulphur is used and the cork is covered by a waxy cap. Besides, a box of this wine will be packed with straw, perhaps to signify that it is a natural wine. Unlike its cousin (reviewed here too), it doesn't have the Rueda DO but don't worry, this is an exceptional wine and Very Highly Recommended.
There is a good depth of colour, strawy, and it is bright and clean. Aromas of white fruits and some herby hints too. Amazing mouthfeel, superb volume, impressive balance and a finish that goes on and on. If this is organic, keep the real wines coming, waxy cap and all!
I’ve seen the words greasy and oily used to describe the feel of this wine but don't let this put you off. It just means that there is more viscosity - you’ll note that the legs (or tears) on the glass are slow to clear.
Menade Verdejo 2014 (Rueda DO), 13%, €15.95 Le Caveau
This family run vineyard, just south of Valladolid, in Rueda, is certified organic. Hand-harvesting, carbonic snow (instead of sulphur), natural yeasts and low yields are among the techniques used to produce pure and expressive wines.
And this light gold Verdejo is a very good example. Aromas are of white fruits (citrus to the fore) and there are floral hints too. It has lovely fresh fruit, a refreshing acidity, dry, well balanced and an excellent finish. Highly Recommended.
Maison Ambroise, Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Les Hauts Pruliers’ 2010, 13%, €46.35 Le Caveau.
Once on a vineyard visit, I noticed our guide was vigilant in moving us further away every time the tractor and sprayer came anywhere near our group. Now I read this about Maison Ambroise: Ludivine (Ambroise) explained the move to organic viticulture is one of true belief as she lost her grandfather due to illness caused by chemicals used in the fields.
The Les Hauts Pruliers vineyards are located on a very steep slope, just above Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru ‘Pruliers’. Harvested manually, neither filtered nor fined, the wines are classic and expressive with distinct terroir-influenced personalities. This is quite a gem.
It has the typical lighter red colour of Pinot Noir and a bright one too. There is a tempting nose of black and red berries, some spice too. And this is echoed on the palate; smooth and elegant. Deep and rich, nicely balanced, a vibrant mid-palate all heading towards a long finish.
If Burgundy is Pinot Noir heaven, then this wine comes from a special piece of paradise. Maybe I should have waxed a little more on the lyrical side with this one, but the city below is flooded, the rain lashing down outside. Very Highly Recommended.
Monday, April 4, 2016
April is the Real Wine Month
April, the Real Wine Month, is up and running!
Real Wine Month is an exciting, innovative promotion of artisan wines which have been produced sustainably by organic, biodynamic viticulture and low intervention (a.k.a. 'natural') winemaking. It is being run across Ireland and the United Kingdom by specialist importers Le Caveau (Ireland) and Les Caves de Pyrène (United Kingdom).
From 4th-30th April, selected wines will be poured by the glass or featured on wine lists, in tastings and themed events in over 200 restaurants, independent retailers and wine clubs across the U.K. and over 50 in Ireland.
This, the third Real Wine Month in Ireland, is shaping up to be the best yet. From pubs, bars and bistros to Michelin-starred establishments, to independent retailers and wine clubs, we have seen increasing interest in the quality, authenticity and diversity of these small-scale, artisanal wines.
Through participating restaurants and retailers, the promotion represents a great opportunity for wine-drinkers to taste and explore a diversity of wines that are not mass-distributed due to small-scale production, or indeed are in short supply due to global demand particularly from cities like New York, San Francisco, London and Paris.
To see what’s on in your area, the events, the participating restaurants, wine bars and stores, please click here for the full press release. I hope to have another post or two over the month.
In the meantime, here are some of the wines that you may well come across. There are some real beauties here!
Chateau Turcaud Entre-Deux-Mers sec 2014, 13%, €14.90 Le Caveau
I didn't know it then but I was looking down on this vineyard less than two years ago. After a visit to Gavin Quinney’s Chateau Bauduc, I had climbed to the top of the famous local abbey Le Sauve Majeure and, from the final 159th step, had a great view over the surrounding countryside. April is Real Wine Month and, as part of the fun, Chateau Turcaud will be represented at events in Dublin and Cork.
|Le Sauve Majeure|
This particular wine is a classic Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc (60%), Semillon (35%) and Muscadelle (5%) and, having been fermented and aged on the lees in vat, the result is very crisp and fruity.
You'll note a good depth of yellow in the colour with aromas of citrus fruits, some blossoms too. On the palate, it is more intense, more assertive than the nose, with a lovely wave of fruit flavours, an excellent mouthfeel, well balanced and with a good finish. Highly Recommended.
Serve this delightful wine well-chilled as an aperitif, with all sorts of seafood, or with goat cheese, sheep cheese, and hard cheeses.
Isabelle and Stéphane Le May are eager to safeguard the local soil and terroir they have inherited: they’ve come back to mechanically weeding, and fight vine diseases with sustainable methods.
Chateau Beauregard Mirouze Tradition 2013 (Corbieres AOC), 13.5%, €14.85 Le Caveau
Winemakers Karine and Nicolas Mirouze have blended 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah (over 40 years old) to make this excellent organic wine. Mirouze will be another of the French wineries to be represented here this month. Their favourite pairing for this wine is Duck breast accompanied by a ratatouille of vegetables from the garden.
Colour is a deep red, almost purple. The aromas, savoury and spicy, puzzled me a bit and the chateau says they are “nose dashing”! A mingling of the scents of red fruit and garrigue (the local scrub). So there you are. On the palate, you find intense dark fruit flavours, spice too, tannins noticeably in play, yet overall invigorating and with a very good finish. A really warming satisfying wine and Highly Recommended.
Clos de Caveau Carmin Brillant 2012 (Vacqueyras AOC), 14.5%, €24.50 Le Caveau
Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm. And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours.
The vineyard is naturally isolated by a belt of Mediterranean forest, making it ideally suited for organic viticulture, for which the domain obtained full certification in 1989. Most of the work in the vineyard is carried out by hand and the yields are very limited. Clos de Caveau too are coming to Dublin and Cork in April.
Colour is a dark red and the aromas feature red fruit and some hints of herbs. It is very smooth and concentrated on the palate, lush fruit flavours with spice and herbs, and fine tannins. An excellent finish as well and Very Highly Recommended. The blend is 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah and it is 100% organic.
Chateau Tour des Gendres, La Gloire de mon Pére Cotes de Bergerac Rouge (AOC) 2007, 12.5%, €21.30 Le Caveau
The aromas are intense and very pleasing, one that invited me to take off my glasses! Like the wine, I’m getting on; by lifting the glasses, my nose works that little bit better! It is quite a dark red with a lighter rim - it is after all getting on in years!
On the palate, it is very very smooth and rounded, gentle too, nothing extreme, still fresh but ready to enjoy and appreciate, with an excelling lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Bergerac, perpetually in the shadow of neighbour Bordeaux, produces many excellent wines, mainly from much the same grapes. This blend of Merlot (45%), Malbec (35%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (5%), is an excellent example. By the way, the proportions of the blend vary from year to year. It spent eight months in oak. Viticulture is biodynamic.
A word from the makers: This wine, quite powerful in the mouth, will accompany venison, duck, the stews and cheese. It will be better if decanted for within hours, and can be kept between 5 and 8 years. The eight years is up! But no panic at all.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Chateau Belingard, Bergerac sec 2012, 12.5% abv, €13.99 Karwig Wines
Something of a favourite here since early in the century (not that long ago really!). It stands comparison with the whites of neighbouring Bordeaux and is better value. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle is fresh and fruity with a long aftertaste.
Belingard sounds French but apparently it comes from an ancient Celtic language, “beleen garten” meaning the garden of the Beleen or Belin, the god of sun and war. More details on the story and the wine here . Highly Recommended.
Pegoes Branco 2013, Setubal (Portugal), 12.0%, €10.49 Wine Alliance stockists
This Setubal white is well worth looking out for. It is an excellent regional wine by the highly rated Santo Isidro Co-op (Jamie Goode says it is possibly Portugal’s best co-op) and at under eleven euro is fantastic value. It is made from the Fernao Pires grape (70%) and is pleasant and delicious, fresh and fruity, crisp and clean with zesty flavours, easy drinking with a clean refreshing finish. The advice here to drink it as soon as possible after purchase. Don't delay. Great value and Highly Recommended.
Monday, September 5, 2011
MISSING OUT ON PECHARMANT
|Bergerac's wine museum (with large shop in front)|
According to winesearcher.com, quite a few Irish merchants stock wines from Bergerac but none stock Pecharmant, the best red from the area. Just finished off the last of my 2010 holiday purchases the other day, hence the reason for the search.
Of course, I could have kept it – they age well – but I was tempted by “drink it now for the pleasure of its fruit” on the label. Really a pity that it is not available here as it gives many highly rated and more expensive Bordeaux a run.
Iron in the soil of this sub region of Bergerac gives the AOC wines (they make only rich red ones) minerality and grip.
Château de Tiregand Pecharmant 2007, 13%. The blend: Merlot 54%, Cabernet Sauvignon 23%, Cabernet Franc 18% and Malbec 5%.
Colour is dark red with elegant aromas of dark fruit. Doesn’t quite match the grip of the Peyretaille (below) but, in the mouth, it is a beautiful rounded ensemble. The 12 months on oak has played a part. No wonder, in earlier centuries, the boys of Bordeaux didn’t want these wines reaching these islands via their port.
Chateau Peyretaille Pecharmant 2007, 12.5%. The blend: Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 40%, Cot 10% and Cabernet Sauvignon 10%.
A typically rich red; moreish, with a long length; very impressive and not surprised that it won a Silver Medal at the Grands Vins de France 2009.
Colour is a healthy looking black cherry red and the lovely fruity nose is very inviting. In the mouth, the red and black fruit are again prominent and a pleasure. There is a grippy texture in this excellent well balanced bottle.
Looks like I’ll have to make another trip to Bergerac!