Showing posts with label Bordeaux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bordeaux. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine


A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe (DOC) 2015, 14.5%, €21.65 Karwig Wines

“Langhe Nebbiolo is a close relation of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines but one that is usually softer and more accessible.” - Decanter. They also say that it is “Part of great value Italian wines made by cooperatives". 

This mid ruby coloured wine has inviting red fruit aromas, a hint of spice too. The same fruit and spice invade the palate, in the nicest possible way; it is medium-bodied with good acidity, a decent finish with soft tannins. Easy drinking (despite the high alcohol), very pleasant and Highly Recommended.

Perfect, they say, with pizzas and pastas, white and red meat, and rich fish dishes.

Verso Rosso Salento (IGT) 2016, 14%, €15.75 Karwig Wine

Salento is a town in Puglia in the south-east of Italy. Oak ageing has played a role here and the wine is made with a “small amount of apassimento” which gives a raisin element in the flavours. 

They recommended using it with red meats, stew, game and mature cheese. Duck breast should also be a good match. The blend is Negromaro (60%), Primitivo (35) and Malvasia Nera (5).

It is a deep red (skins have been left in must for “extended period”). Legs are slow to clear. Dark fruit on the nose. Juicy and fruity (think crème de cassis) with a vibrant spice, sweet tannins at play also. An easy drinking wine and Highly Recommended.


Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc (AC) 2016, 12.5%, Karwig Wines €14.95

This blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris comes from a stunning estate located at the gateway of Cadillac in the small municipality of Beguey, overlooking the Garonne River. You’ll hear that Bordeaux whites are often better value than the reds and this is the case here.

It has a pale straw colour. Citrus and floral notes feature in the expressive nose. Fresh engaging fruit on the palate, lovely acidity also and a superb lip-smacking finish. A Highly Recommended melange of Bordeaux fruit and craft.

It has spent two months on fine lees and is, they recommend, a perfect accompaniment for oysters, sea food and smoked salmon sushis. The salmon I enjoyed it with wasn't smoked but they paired well nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Two French Reds. An Old One. And A Wild One.

Two French Reds. An Old One. And A Wild One.

Domaine Aonghusa The Wild Bunch (Vin de France) 2014, 14.5%, €20.50 Karwig Wine

From Wexford, Pat Neville has proved to be something of a rebel at Domaine Aonghusa (where his partner is his wife Catherine McGuinness) in the Languedoc. Some of his wines are somewhat off piste as is this one, outside the Corbieres appellation rules so a Vin de France  (as are many good wines in this region). But he also, for instance, produces Cuvée Laval which is AOC.

While he does buck the appellation, he is not into biodynamique either. “Our approach is based on common sense, not cosmological tomfoolery. …. This sometimes results in untidy looking but living vineyards.” 

So where does he fit in in the scheme of things. Quotes from an old independent.ie article may help. "I want to make a wine where the third glass is more interesting than the first, not one where everything you want to know is in the first mouthful." "I know the kind of wine I like; good wine to be taken with food, not wines for sitting on a terrace with and sipping.” 

Okay, we can live with that! And this Wild Bunch too, a blend of the vineyard reds which include Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Cinsault and Lledonner Pelut. There may be wild, scrubby notes in the mainly savoury aromas, a little bit maybe, but this mid-purple wine seems to have settled nicely since 2014.

As you might expect, there is a pretty good concentration of fruit on the palate. It is a really well balanced blend at this stage with a long dry finish. A very interesting wine indeed. Nothing to be apprehensive about and might even improve over the next year or so. “The most fantastic blend,” according to Karwig’s. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Peybonhomme Les Tours Premières Côtes De Blaye (AOC) 2001, 12.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle Wines

This charming elegant red is organic and is predominantly Merlot with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chateau overlooks the Gironde estuary and they suggest matching it with Ossobuco or a Risotto with porcini mushrooms.

It is quite a lovely mid ruby colour (considering its age); there is a bit of fade towards the edge and the legs are slow enough to clear even though the abv is not that high. There is red fruit on the nose, a bit of spice too, nothing extreme in either case. Well rounded fruit and tannins on the smooth palate, an excellent balance and a pretty good finish as well. Not bad at all for an old-stager. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Trio of Very Highly Recommended Wine Treats!

Chateau Pape Clement Grand Cru Classé de Graves Pessac-Léognan 1998, 13%. 

Amazing how the colour is so dark,  a deep purple with virtually no diminution at the edge. Quite a subtle scent, rounded, hints of spice. It is smooth, elegant, rich and rounded, not a note out of place, a symphony for the senses, perfect on the palate and a perfect long dry finish. 

Concentrated, fine and harmonious from start to finish, an admirable wine and Very Highly Recommended.


It is a blend of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with some Cabernet Franc also in the mix and spent 18 months in oak.

The first harvest here was in 1252! It was first planted by Bertrand de Goth, Archbishop of Bordeaux, who later (1305) became Pope Clement V (of Avignon fame). The Graves vineyard was run by the Bordeaux Archbishops until the French Revolution.

When the grapes for this particular bottle were produced, the chateau was under Bernard Magrez, “a passionate wine entrepreneur”. His efforts were rewarded in 2009 when critic Robert Parker gave “the mythical score of 100” to the Chateau’s white and the same score for the red in the following year.

This was a birthday gift that I took a while to open, so I'm not sure of availability or price.

Taylor’s Port Late Bottled Vintage 2011, 20%, €25.95 Bradley's (Cork), Le Caveau
Taylor’s, pioneers of the category, launched their first LBV in 1970 to satisfy a demand for a high quality ready-to-drink alternative to Vintage Port. Unlike vintage port, which is bottled after only two years in wood and ages in bottle, LBV is bottled after four to six years and is ready to drink immediately. Its longer wood ageing means it needs no decanting and will remain in good condition for several weeks after the initial opening.

This 2011 has a solid purple colour. It is aromatic for sure, cherry and plum, berries too. Rich and fruity on the palate, some spice also, hints of liquorice, tannins just about in evidence. Superb balance overall. The blending process ensures it is “balanced and complete and that there is a continuity of style in relation to previous Taylor LBV”. A true Taylor-style port indeed.


This beautiful elegant wine, with a wonderfully long finish, is Very Highly Recommended.


Clos Puy Arnaud Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux (AOC) 2014, 14%, €39.95 Bradley’s Cork.


Not too much to say about this one other than it is just brilliant. Colour is mid to deep purple. Aromas are complex, plum mainly, vanilla too, herby notes. Fruit is opulent, plus a marked freshness (a good proportion of Cabernet Franc may have something to do with that) and acidity, a fair bit of spice also, tannins close to smooth, and a quality finish. Very Highly Recommended. Duck and steak may be the best matches, hard cheeses too.

This vin biodynamique is produced by vigernon-proprietaire Thierry Valette and Puy Arnaud is a standard bearer for organic wine in Bordeaux. This is a blend of Merlot (70%), Cabernet Franc (25%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). It is a recent addition to the Findlater list.


Castillon-la-Bataille is a town on the Dordogne, about 50 minutes east of Bordeaux city and the vineyard is a few miles north of the town. Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon is the appellation title for Cotes de Bordeaux wines made specifically in the district. Until 2009, these wines were sold as Cotes de Castillon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Excellent Bordeaux from Grand Bateau.

Excellent Bordeaux from Grand Bateau
Grand Bateau Bordeaux rouge (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

Grand Bateau Bordeaux blanc (AOC) 2016, 12.5%, €15.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

With over 6,000 chateaux, and many thousands of opinions, Bordeaux can be a minefield for those who are not very deeply into the area’s wine. But Findlater’s Mick O’Connell MW has come up with a double, one red and one white, from Grand Bateau, that I think most can feel comfortable with. 

O’Connell’s current task is to add variety to the Findlater list and he has done well here. Grand Bateau is aligned with some of the major Bordeaux names and the winemaker is the “world renowned” Philippe Blanc of the equally renowned Chateau Beychevelle and Maison Barrière, a serious trading house and a sister company of Beychevelle. Considering that level of pedigree and, having tasted both, the two wines are very good value too.

You won't see rouge or blanc on the front label of course but that's hardly a handicap! The red is a regular Bordeaux blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. For over twenty five years, in collaboration with Barriére, it has been “consistently powerful and harmonious in style”.

Colour is a deep ruby. Ripe darker fruits (plum, currants) on the nose. It is fruity, soft and elegant, a touch of spice too, tannins close to smooth with a long dry finish. Perfect, they say, with red and white meats as well as cheeses. Highly Recommended.

Most Bordeaux whites are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Not this one which is 100% Sauvignon. Worth trying this against a New Zealand SB, quite a contrast.


It has an attractive light gold colour, clean and bright. The nose is of exotic fruits, a tiny hint of honey. Fresh and fruity on the palate, little of that New Zealand herbaceousness. The lively acidity leads to a perfect balance and a lip-smacking finish. Second glass appeal for sure and Highly Recommended. Try as aperitif, with fish and seafood and poultry.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bordeaux. On the Double. St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

Bordeaux. On the Double
St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

Chateau Moulin de Grenet Lussac St Emilion (AOC) 2012, 13%, €19.75 Karwig Wines
Lussac is the most northerly of the St Emilion satellites. Here in the former Cistercian abbey of Faize, La Famille Roskan-Brunot have their vineyards. The Cistercians were noted for the austerity of their abbeys but this wine is rich and harmonious. So much so that noted wine writer James Suckling gave the 2015 vintage 91 points.

The other three satellites are  Montagne, Puisseguin and St Georges. “At their best, the wines from these areas are every bit as good as a Saint-Emilion grand cru. At their worst, they are attenuated and rustic.” I quote from The Wines of Bordeaux (2004) by Clive Coates. I reckon that this one is much closer to grand cru than to rustic.

The blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, has a deep colour. Ripe dark red fruits, vanilla, tobacco and toast feature in the aromas. As smooth as it gets, with a hint of background spice, well rounded, rich and harmonious with a good aromatic finish, it is Very Highly Recommended indeed.

Chateau La Grommet Côtes de Bourg (AOC) 2009, 13%, €16.85 Mary Pawle Wines
Côtes de Bourg is known as the “little Switzerland of the Gironde”. Its beautiful landscape is much more pleasant on the eye than the boring flatlands of the Medoc across the estuary. If you’ve holidayed in or near Royan, then you’ve probably met the wines of Bourg and those of  Blaye.

This particular Grand Vin de Bordeaux is made from organic grapes. It is a blend of Merlot (the dominant grape in this bottle and, indeed in the area) and Cabernet Sauvignon and has spent 12 months in barrels.


Colour is a mid purple, legs slow enough to clear. Lovely aromas of warm red fruit. On the palate, it is ample with good depth, intense, fresh and balanced. A rich wine, with its by now silky tannins, it has a long flavourful finish and lacks nothing in character. A Bordeaux red for sure and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try
Local grapes feature in these three bottles, one each from Bordeaux, the Alentejo region of Portugal and Piedmont in Italy. While the Bordeaux grapes will be familiar to most of us, the local Portuguese and Italian grapes will be less so. Worth a try though!

Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Wines Direct

I love Bordeaux (and Bergerac) whites, especially when Semillon is the main grape, and this excellent dry wine, rich and full flavoured, suits me very well indeed. Sec (dry) is highlighted on the front label and it has spent 3 months ageing on lees. The blend is Sauvignon Blanc (35%), Sauvignon Gris (15) and Semillon (50).

Colour is a clear gold/straw. There are rich aromas, exotic fruit plus floral elements. From its elegant and attractive nose, to its generous mouthfeel, its excellent freshness ad acidity, to its long finish, it is pretty much faultless, Well balanced and Very Highly Recommended. Should be superb with most kinds of sea fish including lobster and salmon, freshwater fish too. 

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro ALR, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2012, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle Wines

The organic grapes for this blend grow in an wooded area planted with Pine, Oak and Chestnut. I though I got a hint of oak but maybe not as it is unoaked! Trincadeira, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante-Bouschet and Touriga Nacional are in the blend and the wine-makers say “it goes with everything”.

This versatile medium bodied wine has a ruby red colour and red fruit aromas. Baked fruit and spice on the palate, moderate tannins, and a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

* The lettering on the bottle could fool you into thinking it is AIR but no, the ALR comes from the initials of Antonio Lopes Ribeiro.


Valle Unite Ottavio Rubé Rosso 2014, Costa Vescovata, 13.5%, €14.55 Le Caveau

Costa Vescovata is a town in Piedmont and the Valle Unite is the winery. The grapes - it is a blend of Dolcetta and Croatina - are local and this organic wine is “a brilliant price/quality ratio” say Le Caveau. It is named after Ottavio Rubé, one of the founders of the co-op.


Colour is a deep ruby and there are strong, even “funky” red fruit aromas. Same strong fruit evident on the palate, a good input of spice too, also savoury flavours, quite grippy with excellent acidity. A decent finish too. A good buy and Highly Recommended. You can expect some sediment here so best to decant.

Monday, April 4, 2016

April is the Real Wine Month

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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Bordeaux Trio. St Emilion and Graves

A Bordeaux Trio
St Emilion and Graves

Château Tour Baladoz, Grand Cru St Emilion 2005, 13.5%, SuperValu

The Bordeaux vintage of 2005 is legendary and this rich, plummy wine is just gorgeous. Merlot is the main grape here with both Cabernets also in the mix, Franc at 20%, Sauvignon at 10%.
Colour is purple and the aromas are concentrated, ripe dark fruits plus fragrant floral notes. Full bodied for sure, sublime soft fruits with great balance, tannins now very soft indeed and this well-rounded rich and splendid wine, provides a beautiful lingering finish. One to take your time with, small sips recommended. The wine itself is Very Highly Recommended.

Regular price is 44.99 but SuperValu had it down to €30.00 in the Christmas wine sale, so watch out for reductions!


Château Magneau Graves 2009, 12.5%

This 2009, another good year, is from the heart of Graves and made following the Terra Vitis guidelines, an approach that “guarantees a quality production method that respects the environment”. Watch out too for their Cuvée Julien, a much awarded white wine vinified exclusively in barrels.
This red has spent 12 months in oak (one third new) and is a blend of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). Colour is lighter than the Baladoz. It has aromas of red fruits (mainly cherries) and on the palate it is sharp with a lively acidity, good balance though and a rather elegant mouthfeel with a good finish. Medium to full bodied, it is not as soft as either of the others but a good wine and Highly Recommended.


Château Peyreblanque Graves 2010, 14%.

Another good one from Graves, this from the 2010 vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) is the dominant grape here with Merlot (30) playing a supporting role. Time in oak is 10-15 months. Peyreblanque (white rock) was bought in 1990 by the current owners, the Médeville family, who own quite a few chateaux in the area.

This garnet coloured wine has quite intense aromas (dark fruit, spicy notes). It is full bodied, the fruit and oak in smooth tandem, some spice, fine tannins, strikingly well balanced overall and with an excellent finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

  • The two Graves wine were bought in Podensac in 2014 and cost ten euro each. All gone now! Thankfully though, no shortage of good Bordeaux wine in Ireland.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Best of Blends. More than 15 varieties in one

Best of Blends.
More than 15 varieties in one.


Blending has been a part of winemaking for many generations. Probably started by accident. But no accident in the Douro below where more than 15 grape varieties are used! Sometimes, as it in the majority here, just two grapes are used. There can be up to six in Port and sometimes more than double that in Cotes du Rhone. Blends everywhere then, including our two from South America.

Quinta do Judeu Vinho tinto 2010, Douro (DOC), 13%, Curious Wines

Colour is somewhere between violet and purple. It has a smooth silky feel, rounded flavours, some spice, some grip, quite intense yet harmonious in all aspects, not least in the long finish. Much to be said for the human touch: this has been foot trodden in granite lagares. Hope that bare-footed gang had as much fun trampling forwards and back on it as I had drinking it. Very Highly Recommended.

It is not filtered so should be decanted. I got this bottle as a present from Maurice O'Mahony (of the former Wine Alliance) and it is “made from more than 15 Douro varieties from old vineyards, with the predominance of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Roriz and Tinta Amarela”. Curious Wines are now selling the wines of Quinta do Judeu.





Chateau de Rochemorin 2009, Pessac-Leognan (France), 13%, €16.40 in Graves. Bordeaux wines are widely available in Ireland.
This “assemblage” is the classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with Cab Sauv supplying 60 per cent of the mix. The aim is to produce a well balanced wine that is the best possible expression of the terroir.

This left bank bottle comes from a Lurton vineyard, a family “who have strived for excellence...this family’s passion for viticulture goes back a long way”. The Lurtons, particularly André, are highly respected.

Colour is purple and on the nose there are berries, vanilla, even a drift of tobacco. Two thousand and nine was one of those very good years so this expression is one of the best, elegant and smooth and drinking so well now. Soft and easy drinking, fresh with ripe tannins, long, flavoursome and Very Highly Recommended.

Finca 878 Clásico Vino Tinto Malbec Merlot 2012, Argentina, 13%, €13.95 Karwig Wines (now reduced to 11.15, great value).
This blend is popular in Argentina and, according to Wine Searcher, is becoming popular in New Zealand. This 878 is designed for the younger drinker. The producers’ translator calls them junior drinkers but it went down well with this senior imbiber!

This medium red gives off aromas of ripe red fruit. Palate is pretty smooth, fruit yes but with good balance, easy drinking, finish not the longest but Highly Recommended. In Argentina, they grow over 90,000 acres of these two grapes, four times more Malbec than Merlot. Most Argentinian Merlot ends up in blends.

Something to check before you start drinking. The bottom eight on the label is upside down!

Dóna Paula Malbec Syrah 2011, Mendoza (Argentina), 14%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence.

This is a rich dark red and aromas of plum dominate. Beautiful fruit flavours follow, sweet notes yes, yet very good acidity, a pleasant mouthfeel with a long finish. Good wine, good value and Highly Recommended.

The estate, part of the Chilean Santa Rita group, in the foothills of the Andes, has “always been managed using Sustainable Agricultural practices”. Watch out too for their Los Cardos wines which, according to Wines of South America, “are among the world’s great values”.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In Margaux Once. Must visit again!

In Margaux Once.
Must call again!

The vineyards of Margaux, on the south bank of the Garonne estuary (many Irish holidaymakers will know Royan on the opposite bank), grow mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The classic  blend is always a combination of these two “majors” and sometimes a little of Cabernet  Franc, maybe some Petit Verdot, more rarely Malbec and other old varieties.


According to the Maison du Vin de Margaux, where I bought the bottles below (along with some more!), Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”


Merlot brings roundness, generosity and complexity to the aromas. Cabernet Franc, much rarer, brings an extra touch of of elegance and suppleness while Petit Verdot produces wines “that are fairly rich in colour, fruit and tannins”.


The vines and the soil all play a part in making a Margaux and so does the climate of each year. “This variability, known as the effet millésime (vintage effect), is at the origin of variations in wines’ quality and expression.”


The variables will test the expertise of the winemaker who also has to contend with different harvest times for the different grapes. Merlot is first, then comes Cabernet Franc followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and then the Petit Verdot.

Take good care of your Margaux wines. They recommend “to open them one or two hours before service and present them in a nice carafe or decanter. Perfect service temperature is 19 degrees. Their finesse and subtlety show themselves in accompaniment with red meats or cheeses with delicate aromas”. Margaux wines are widely available in Ireland. Enjoy!

Some of my 2014 purchases
Chateau La Galiane 2009, 13.5%, 16.50 in Margaux

Gorgeous intense dark fruit aromas. Then there are rich fruit flavours, with a wee bit of spice, ripe tannins, and good balance. All in all, a classic well rounded Bordeaux with good structure and no little finesse, a lovely blend in which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the major grapes.

Chateau La Tour De Bessan Crus Bourgeois 2011, 13%, 20.30 in Margaux

Even more intense wave of aromas, slightly different to the Galiane. It is rich and complex, full bodied and, again, ripe tannins. Great flavours of red fruits in this smooth Cru Bourgeois. The blend here is Merlot (62%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (38%). A marginally better wine than the Galiane. It has spent 12 months in French oak and the average age of the vines is 25 years.

Labastide Dauzac 2008, 13%, €23.00 in Margaux

Garnet is the colour, the aromas full and harmonious. This is full-bodied, red fruits, some spice too, pleasant and smooth on the palate, and with a long finish. Again the classic blend of Merlot (57%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (43%) and Very Highly Recommended.

This is the second wine of Dauzac, made from younger vines. It has spent 12 months in oak (not all new) and, if I had to pick one from the three, this would be it.
Take your pick!
In a pioneering book on matching food and wine called The Head of the Household from his Cellar to his Table, conceived and started in a WW2 prisoner of war camp, the author Frenchman Roger Ribaud, knowing that the Bordelais had been trapping pigeons, recommended that they match their catch with a Margaux. (Source: Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wine in a Tube! For a cosy tête-à tête. Sweet Sauternes.

Sauternes. Sweet for My Sweet
Wine in a Tube! WIT Or Witless?
Château Lamourette 2005
Château Laville 2001

You've got to hand it to the French, never short of ideas when it comes to marketing. Just been browsing the Maison du Sauternes and came across the WIT (wine in tube). Discover our new concept for a cosy “tête-à tête”. Be astonished. Spend a delicious time - share original Sauternes. Two different wines for moments of delight. This pack contains “S for her” and “S for him”. Special offer. 22€. This price includes postal charges.

Might take a punt on that but then maybe the the revenue might come looking for their share of the proceeds. Maybe not! By the way, I wonder what do they call it in France. WIT or VIT? Looks like WIT on the website.

Just one surprise from Sauternes. The other, for me, on a visit there last year, was that it was quite an ordinary village and indeed the Maison Du Sauternes was one of the bigger buildings there.

Another surprise came in a local restaurant, Auberge des Vignes, where we had an excellent three course Menu du Jour, that also included wine and coffee, all for just sixteen euro per head. Read more about the meal and the village here.

Richard the Lionheart praised the wines of Sauternes in the 12th century and this sweet Bordeaux has been a regular on royal tables since. You’ll pay 1,000 euro or more for the top end but prices start at about 12 euro and that means a Sauternes also appears on more humble tables, including mine!

The World Atlas of Wine, while acknowledging that not all Sauternes is top class all the time, says it is “lamentably underappreciated but incomparable, it is a speciality that finds few real rivals”. "In great vintages the results can be sublime, a very sweet, rich-textured, flower-scented, glittering golden liquid.” Sauternes is widely available in Ireland, not sure though about the tube.

I’m currently enjoying the Lamourette. It comes from a vineyard not too far away at all from the headliner Chateau d’Yquem and is very impressive. It has the usual nose of candied fruit. The palate is creamy, that candied fruit is still there but it is balanced and pleasant with a long spicy finish.



Overall, this is lighter than expected and you could see why the Maison du Sauternes can recommend drinking Sauternes all through a meal, even recommending it with Leg of Venison (which has been marinated in Sauternes, of course!).

It is a sweet wine, no doubt in the world about that. But there is a terrific balance here, a wash of acidity that negates any hint of heaviness or any tendency towards a cloying feel. 2005 saw plenty of noble rot - a good year.

I haven’t tried the Château Laville yet but I'm hugely encouraged by what Jancis Robinson had to say about the 2001 vintage: The rain that spoilt the reds encouraged botrytis to such an extent that this is a truly magnificent, long-term vintage, helped by a greater degree of selection and cellar expertise than ever before. Perhaps the greatest Sauternes vintage in modern times.

For a good insight into Sauternes (including noble rot) see here.
The 2001 Laville is no longer featured on the Maison du Sauternes website but you may check the 2010 here.


The Lamourette now available is the 2009. Info here.


Recipe for the Sauternes Cup

I found this on the website. Doesn't say it is is for one or two. What do you think?
In a large glass bowl, place fruit depending on the season ( apricots, peaches, pears, melon, etc ... ), diced and sliced ​​oranges. Pour the Sauternes (about two glasses per person), add one or two glasses of brandy. Macerate about an hour in the refrigerator. Serve with ice cubes and carbonated water. Sauternes, with the bouquet and strength, lifts the heart: the wine of the happy day.