Showing posts with label Corbieres. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corbieres. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Love Red? Three of the Best.

Sainte Croix Magneric, Corbieres (AC) 2012, 14.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

Fruit, spice, and power feature in this well-balanced blend of Carignan (42%), Grenache (29) and Syrah (29). The vineyard, run by an English couple, Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, has been organic since 2008 and they recommend pairing it with anything from Spiced lamb tagine to Roast venison.

This is a dark, medium to full bodied, wine with ripe dark fruit aromas to match. That fruit, spice too, on the palate, concentrated, with outstanding freshness, tannins soft and ripe and no slacking off in the long aromatic finalé. Power and elegance in the one package and Very Highly Recommended.

We had another beauty from the same vineyard a month or so back. Check out Le Fournas here

Il Grigio da San Felice Gran Selezione Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2013, 13.5%, €34.95 (27.95 in recent sale) O’Brien’s Wines.

Made from “our finest Sangiovese (80%), enriched with other ancient indigenous varieties”, the result is a superbly complex wine of great elegance and concentration. Just 40,000 bottles are produced of this particular wine which has an ageing potential of 15 years. It has been aged for 24 months in mixed oak plus 8 months in bottle. 

Sangiovese, also known as Brunello and Bonarda, is a top red grape in Italy. Tuscany is its home but it is grown all over Italy, also in the US, Australia and Argentina.

Colour is medium red and the aromas feature ripe red fruit (strawberries, cherries). There is terrific concentration in this medium-bodied gem, spice too and a superb acidity to balance and it boasts a long dry and spicy finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Matches suggested are red meat, pasta and pizza. You could also do as I did and try it with cheese. I had Carrigaline, both the original and the smoked, and all got on very well together!

Jerome Quiot Cairanne Côtes du Rhone Villages (AC) 2014, 13.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

The family Quiot began their wine story in the Vaucluse when they acquired a few hectares there in 1748, so the nod to tradition is to be expected. This wine is made from the traditional grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and old vines of Carignan. Old style vinification too in tanks and oak barrels.

Colour is a lovely ruby and there are raspberry and cherry in the aromas. On the palate, it is fruity for sure, spice also, a very good depth of flavour, nicely balanced; the tannins are close to smooth in this medium bodied wine and there is an excellent finish as well. It packs quite a punch for such a smooth wine and is Very Highly Recommended.




That noticeable acidity helps make it a good food wine, lamb, roasted meat and cheeses are recommend by the producers. I found it a terrific match with Moussaka, especially the version made using this recent recipe from Dublin's Tang Restaurant in association with Glenisk - see the details here.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Superb Reds. Both French.

Sainte Croix Le Fournas, Corbieres (AC) 2013, 13.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

This purple beauty is a blend of organic fruit: Carignan 50%, Grenache 21%, Syrah 19%, and Mourvèdre 10%, grown near the ruins of a 19th century lime furnace in the Garrigue scrub. Wild yeast and minimal pumping (to keep the fruit quality as intact as possible) are used. Ageing is 100% sur lies in tank for 18 months.

Aromas are of rich red and darker fruits. Superb delicious fruit flavours (including cassis and plum) and impressive concentration on the palate, a fresh acidity, soft tannins and some spice all contribute and what follows is an equally impressive finish. Very Highly Recommended and a wine to try again in a few years time.

They suggest pairing it with the cuisine of the Mediterranean region using tomato-based sauces, olives or wild herbs such as thyme or rosemary. The concentration of fruit and acidity balances rich sauces and particularly ‘red’ poultry/game such as pigeon, duck or guinea fowl.


Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly (AOC) 2014, 12.5%, €21.85 Wines Direct

From the vineyards of the Golden Stones, a village in Beaujolais north of Lyon, comes this wonderful and gorgeous wine. The Côte de Brouilly is one of the ten crus of Beaujolais and, yes, Brun’s Gamay grows on the granite that the grape thrives on. Jean-Paul is in the minority of French winemakers that use natural yeasts.

Colour is an attractive light red with a bunch of red and black berries in the aromas. The palate too is ripe, with a brisk and balancing acidity, lovely and soft and elegant to the end. Wonderful and refined and light on its feet, this cru is Very Highly Recommended.


I’ve been lucky this year to have had enjoyed some lovely Beaujolais and this is another one. I have a small assortment of Riedel glasses but enjoy this and similar wines from the much less expensive Lumen Arc globes that I won in a raffle in L’Atitude 51.

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, October 21, 2015

France. Via le route rouge

France. Via le route rouge


Let’s take a red wine trip in France, not all encompassing by any means. Indeed, I’m being a bit contrary here as two of our areas visited, the left bank in Graves and the Loire valley, are perhaps better known for their white wines. But they've got some red gems from those gravelly soils as well.
Passed these vineyards in Graves a few times

Clos Floridene Graves (AOC) 2011, 13.5%, €16.35 Maison des Vins, Podensac.

D’accord, let us begin in Podensac, in Graves. It’s a small enough town with a nice restaurant called Chez Charlotte where a three course meal cost me €22.00 in 2014. The friendly proprietor speaks good English and is also proud of the area, listing the main attractions as Charlotte (big smile!), the Lillet Distillery, the Maison des Vins and the fact that they have a water tower by the famous architect Le Corbusier.

Denis Dubourdieu is also renowned in the Bordeaux area but as a wine-maker. In 1982, he and his wife founded Clos Floridene. This wine is a fresh and fruity blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (72%) and Merlot (28%).

Colour is a deep garnet and blackcurrant dominates the aromas. The palate is an intense mix of fruit, and tannic flavours, some spice too and, with a long silky finish, this left bank red is Very Highly Recommended.

Chateau Saint Eugène Martillac 2011, Pessac-Léognan (AOC), 13%, €12.80 in Graves

Colour is cherry red, a shiny one! Ripe red fruits and violets feature in the aromas. On the palate, there are excellent fruit flavours and a matching acidity, fine tannins at play here too. Rather powerful, with some spice, dry and warm and a long finish. Very Highly Recommended. The blend is 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot and it has spent 12 months in barriques.

The chateau is located in the heart of Martillac and its clay-limestone soil was newly planted, mainly with Merlot, in 1998. Owners are the Gonet family, well known as owners in the Champagne region for over 200 years. Martillac is a commune in the Pessac-Léognan area which itself is in the outskirts of Bordeaux and includes the legendary Haut-Brion.
Found this old vineyard tractor in Languedoc museum
Chateau la Bastide L’Optime 2011, Corbieres (AOC), 14%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

Let’s now take the L'Autoroute des Deux Mers from Bordeaux towards Narbonne - you’ll be glad of a glass of wine after driving around Toulouse on the peripherique - and head for Corbieres, one of the biggest appellations in the Languedoc.

We are tasting another blend, this of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache, from vines whose average age is 50 years. It has spent 12 months in barriques bordelaises. Colour is a dark red with a lighter rim. Intense red fruity nose along with some spice. The attack is fairly intense, fruit and pepper combining, round tannins there too, but it is smooth and warm as it spreads across the palate to a long dry finish. Powerful and concentrated, this too is Very Highly Recommended.
Lunch in a Rhone village
Cellier de Monterail Cotes du Rhone 2014, 13%, c. €12.50 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
It is just a short trip from the Languedoc to the Southern Rhone where most of the generic Cotes du Rhone is produced. Grenache is usually the main grape, as it is here with over 40%; its companions in this bottle are Syrah and Mourvedre (the usual suspects in the GSM trio) along with Cinsault.

Quite a light red with pleasant enough red fruit aromas on the nose. This basic wine of the region illustrates why the Cotes du Rhone is so popular and so well known in Ireland. It is well balanced, round and full with some spice and the tannins remind you gently that they in play. Recommended.

O’Donovan’s choose this to represent France in their recent Rugby World Cup promotion though they picked an even better French wine (Chateau de la Ligne) to represent Ireland!

Driving through Southern Rhone vineyards
M. Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes-Hermitage (AOC) 2012, 13%, €21.95 Bradley’s Offlicence

The highly respected winemaker Michel Chapoutier, one of the big names in the Rhone (ref: Larousse)  is an uncompromising terroir lover and committed too to organic and biological winemaking, preferring to “use the power of life” rather than “the power of death”, the -ides (herbicides, pesticides etc), in the vineyard. He doesn't like to see wine being over-analyzed as it takes the fun out of it and you’ll note that all his labels are marked in Braille.

And, yes, as well as talking the talk he walks the walk. Just take a glass of this hand-harvested foot-treaded Syrah from the Northern Rhone. It is in the classic style, fresh and fruity. Colour is a medium to dark red with a bright hue. Aromas are of ripe red fruit. The initial fresh and fruity attack is long lasting, tannins there too but smooth; it is ample and round and then the long finish. Superbly balanced wine and Very Highly Recommended.
On the Loire. I was safely on the bank, glass in hand!
Chateau du Petit Thouars, Cuvee Amiral 2009 Touraine (France), 12.5%, €15.00 at the chateau
After the Rhone we head to the north and to the area around the town of Chinon in the Loire which we will leave with the boot full of wine and just a short journey to the ferry port of Roscoff!


“Many great men of our family served in the French Navy,” owner Sebastien du Petit Thouars told me when we called to his chateau near where the Vienne and Loire rivers meet.  And so, in memory of those great men, he called his top wine Amiral.

Colour is a deep red, close to purple, with a great sheen. Red fruit dominates the intense aromas. Fruit, fresh, juicy with a lively acidity and a pronounced dry and lengthy finish. Tasted this first when I bought it two years ago and it is definitely heading in the right direction. Only trouble for me is that this was my last bottle of the Very Highly Recommended wine. By the way, du Petit Thouars wines now come under the Chinon designation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Languedoc Strongholds: Corbieres, Minervois, St Chinian

Languedoc Strongholds: Corbieres, Minervois, St Chinian.
Top Notch Reds. And White!


“Down here, they speak the language differently”, I had mentioned to my companion as we came down from Peyrepertuse (left), a high Cathar fort in the Languedoc, south of Carcassonne. Workmen stopped to allow the string of tourists reach the car park. The digger-driver was instantly on his mobile and soon he illustrated my language point as one “Whay” after another boomed out. No gentle “Oui” for him!


They make wine differently too in the rocky hills of the western Languedoc. And they make it very well indeed.



Le Moulin des Nonnes, Cuvée Inés blanc 2012, Minervois, 13.5%, €12.00 in SuperValu French Wine sale from 12th Feb.

This Vin Biologique, produced by the Andrieu brothers, is a blend of Roussanne (50%), Grenache Blanc (40) and Muscat petit grains (10) and is Very Highly Recommended. Colour is a bright gold and it has beautiful floral notes. Nice fruity notes on the palate too, some gorgeous spice too. This elegant organic white, with its fruit and finesse, surprised me. Apparently, less than ten per cent of Minervois wine is blanc. Perhaps we should encourage them to make more! “Whay, whay, si vous plais!”

Les Secrets Saint Chinian rouge 2012, 13.5%, €10.00 in SuperValu French Wine sale.

This red, a brilliant blend of Grenache and Syrah, is Very Highly Recommended. There is a superb introduction on the palate, excellent fruit, spice galore, but nothing extreme, all well balanced. Quite an elegant medium-bodied performer with a silky smooth lingering finish.

St Laurent Corbieres rouge 2012, 14%, €10.00 in SuperValu French Wine sale.

The palate on our second red is slightly more reserved and none the worse for that, fruit and spice again in evidence but slightly more rounded. The Corbieres, bottled by the same co-op in Saint Chinian, is more full bodied, possibly a bit better as a food wine. Grilled meats and cheese are recommended. Indeed, I think the Corbieres is marginally the better wine but I have a small preference for the Saint Chinian. Both though are Very Highly Recommended.

*   French wines are extremely popular in SuperValu and all three above are part of their French sale that begins on February 12th. These three would be a good start and I also note that the Minervois blanc is part of a trio that may be had for €25.00, the others being Coteaux de Giennois (Loire Sauvignon blanc) and Domaine Cristia Grenache. There is more from the Languedoc and big name areas, such as Bordeaux and the Rhone, are also well represented.