Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Three Highly Recommended Whites from across Europe


Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines

Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.

Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.


Diwald Fucksentanz Riesling Wagram (Austria) 2016, 12%, €18.30 Mary Pawle Wines

Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.

Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.

Amastuola Bianco Salento Italy (IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.69 Mary Pawle Wines

Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.

Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Two Grand Crus from Alsace


Two Grand Crus from Alsace
Alsace, in north eastern France, has 51 Grand Crus. The system, and not everyone there agrees with it, is terroir based and allows (mostly) just one varietal per wine. So in the pair below, we have Riesling on its own and Pinot Gris also on its own.

The area has never been reluctant to blend though and one such to watch out for is Gentil. Most wine producers have a Gentil in their portfolio. It is a blend of most of their varieties and the Alsatians are quite proud of it. They have to meet a high standard to qualify and Gentils are often reasonably priced. Try Trimbach, Hugel and Meyer-Fonné for a start - it is a very cool introduction to the Alsace wines.

Riesling, used for dry and sweet wines in the general Alsace area, is the king here and the Alsatians are extremely proud of it. And indeed, unusually for France, you will see the grape name (not just Riesling) mentioned on the bottle label. Chateau D’Orschwihr is in the extreme south of the region as are the Grand Crus Kitterlé and Pfingstberg.

Chateau D’Orschwihr Grand Cru Kitterlé Riesling 2008, 12.6%, Karwig Wines.

Yellow going on gold is the colour of this old-stager! Intense nose, the expected petrol aromas almost camouflaged by the fruit. Exuberant on the palate, fruit flavours, minerality and excellent acidity, all in perfect harmony up to and through the long lip-smacking finish, a finish that lingers. Very Highly Recommended. A power packed wine and should go well with spicy Asian dishes, so often recommended for the grape.


It is not often you see Vin Non Chaptalisé (no added sugar) on the label. The practice is still permitted, mostly in northern countries, including in France and Germany, where grapes are produced with low sugar content. It is forbidden in California but producers there can add grape concentrate. Acidification is the other side of the coin. Read more here.

Chateau D’Orschwihr Grand Cru Pfingstberg Pinot Gris 2013, 13.5%, Karwig Wines.
Colour is a mid straw. A fruity nose, hints of spice. Rounded, rich and complex, the merest touch of sweetness, with a very pleasant mouthfeel. Nicely balanced, without the minerality of the Riesling. An easy drinking yet compelling wine, well made, quite elegant and Very Highly Recommended.

Pinot Gris, you’ll read, takes the middle path between “acidic” Riesling and “possibly over-sweet’ Gewürztraminer, and this is certainly the case here. Praise too for the Alsace Pinot Gris, from the World Atlas of Wine: “..the fullest-bodied but least perfumed wine of the region; at table it offers a realistic alternative to a white Burgundy.”


Monday, August 13, 2018

A Very Likeable Rogue. And One Sweet Wine.


A Very Likeable Rogue in his Sunday best

Matsu “El Picaro” Tinta de Toro (DO) 2017, 14.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s


Le Rogue
This “series” of wine, Matsu de Domingo”, recalls the spirit of the old Spanish Sunday: rest, church in your Sunday best, special dishes and the best wine opened. Check the website here for more details on this and others in the series.

Tinta de Toro is, as you probably know, Tempranillo, and the Matsu vines in the Toro region are cultivated using organic techniques. Like the man on the label, this El Picaro has youth on its side,  even if the fruit comes from 90 year old vines. The other wines show progressively older faces - worth a look on their website.

And that youth is illustrated in the deep ruby colour. There are intense dark berry aromas. On the palate, fruit flavours are the prominent feature as this fresh wine makes his merry way to a very pleasant finish indeed. Very Highly Recommended. I told you this is a engaging rogue! Even if some frown when there is a giggle, with El Picaro at its source, in the back of the chapel.

“The freshly ironed new shirt, the shiny shoes and the special hat. The best stews and the best wine. Tomorrow they will go back to work, but today is a day to rest and celebrate.  Today is Sunday.”  Enjoy!

Sweetly Traditional

Gerard Bertrand Banyuls Traditionnel (AP) 2013, 16%, €23.95 (got it on sale 19.16) O’Brien’s


Grenache, mostly from ancient bushes and often harvested only when they have reached the dried wrinkly stage (like raisins), is the main grape in this naturally sweet wine (vin doux naturel or VDN for short).  The fruit is grown in Mediterranean cooled French vineyards around Banyuls-sur-Mer, close to the Spanish border. 

While the traditional vinification process is underway and when the alcohol reaches 8 or 9 per cent, fermentation is halted by light fortification with a spirit. That full-stop leaves some sugar in the wine.

Banyuls is often compared to Port but is a gorgeous dessert wine in its own right, tasting drier than it actually is - no cloying syrupy stuff here. 

In the Rhone area of Rasteau they make a similar red dessert wine that also goes well with blue cheese (among other things, including chocolate). The World Atlas of Wine says straight out that Banyuls is France’s finest VDN.

Our Gerard Bertrand has a garnet colour; the aromas are of small red and darker fruit. On the palate it is full and well-balanced, fresh, elegant, yet with power and persistence. Very Highly Recommended.

They recommend pairing it with desserts of fruit, with créme brulée, with foie gras and also as an aperitif. I tried it with a mature Cashel Blue and it was quite a treat.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Two to try from St Chinian and the lesser known Madiran


Two to try. St Chinian and the lesser known Madiran

Brumont Torus Madiran (AC) 2011, 14%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


Madiran is a lesser known wine region in Gascony in the South West of France and Tannat is the big red grape here. In this Torus, Tannat accounts for 50% while the two Cabernets, Sauvignon and Franc, account for the rest.

With freshness and depth from its terroir, it is a “perfect match for the local gastronomy” which features specialities such as Magret de Canard and Cassoulet, “foods that demand a wine of serious character and structure”. The Tannat provides all that plus tannins (of course!). When I first came across this grape I was told it was a man’s grape! Things have changed since then if this very approachable Torus is anything to go by.

It is dark ruby, lighter at the rim, legs slow to clear. Blackcurrant to the fore in the rather intense aromas. Rich and powerful is the first impression, great depth and concentration, fresh and full of flavour, good acidity too, and tannins as you'd expect from the name of the grape. Fruit and acidity well balanced all the way through to the soft finish. Highly Recommended.

The man’s grape tag may well be passé at this stage. Even six years ago I found a delicious rosé, with a strawberry nose, fruity and dry, entirely loveable and gluggable. Ten per cent Cab Sauv and 10% Cab Franc had been added to the Tannat and the winemakers of Irouleguy ended up with an award winning gem.

Research has shown too that the grape “has record levels of procyanidins, the heart-friendly chemical in red wine”. Grapes and Wines also says that Tannat reds have been and are being improved by modern wine-making methods (which include a tannin-softening technique). So not as tough as they were in the old days!



Tabatau Camprigou Saint-Chinian (AC) 2014, 13%, €15.20 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


St Chinian, just 20 miles from the Med, is in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, close to the other AOCs of Minervois and Faugeres. Tabatau, in Occitan, means child of the tobacconist. Winemaker Bruno Gracia’s grandfather was the village tobacconist, hence the unusual name for the winery. The blend for the 2014 is Syrah (50%), Grenache (40) and Carignan (10).

It is a ruby colour. There are red fruit aromas, moderate intensity. All that lovely red fruit, some spice too and silky smooth tannins (with just a little bite) combine on the palate. Medium bodied, with a nice balance between fruit and acidity, and Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Xarel-lo Still Wine. And two other whites.


Xarel-lo Still Wine 
And two other whites.
Albet i Noya Curiós Xarel-lo Penedes (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €13.90 Mary Pawle Wines

This is an organic wine, made from Xarel-lo, the grape synonymous with Cava, in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

Colour is light straw, very light. Fresh fruit, green and citrus, in the aromas, floral elements too. Fresh too on the supple palate, the flavours combining with the initial aromas to pleasantly surprise the taste buds, lively acidity also, and this lovely white also finishes well.

Food advice comes from the producers: on its own or serve with chicken or risotto dishes. Get a few of these in for the warmer days ahead (coming soon!!!). Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.


Gitton Chantalouette Pouilly Sur Loire (AC) 2013, 12.5%, €20.65 Karwig

A pleasing light straw colour. White fruit aromas of moderate intensity, hint of honey. Smooth on the palate, good mix of white fruit flavours, slight sweetness, and lively acidity before a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

It is a blend of mainly Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc (10 to 15%) and has spent 3 months in barrel. While there is a town called Chasselas in the French region of Maconnais, Wine-Searcher reckons the grape originated in Switzerland where it is the “most important and widely planted white grape variety” and matches well with traditional local cuisine like fondue. My match: Knockanore Cheddar and a few dried apricots from Lenny's  stall in the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

If you go reading up on this little known grape, avoid Grapes and Vines (Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand). “Suffers from a certain folie de grandeur” is one put down, referring to a Swiss wine. Delusions of grandeur. Don't think that Gitton Père et Fils would agree!

Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits (AOC), 13%, €27.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This wine is limpid in the glass, the colour a light to mid yellow. Nose is attractive, fresh, peachy. Superb fresh flavours (stone-fruit, citrus) in the mouth, no shortage of acidity either, all the way to a lip-smackingly finish. Recommended.

Maison Ambroise owns organically certified vineyards on some of the finest sites of the Côte de Nuit. I also spotted a mis-translation on the label. Their wines are generally “aged in French oak barrels to give addiction depth and complexity”. You have been warned!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Two Outstanding White Wines


Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Bischofsberg Riesling trocken 2015, Rheingau (Germany), 12.5%, €19.65 Karwig Wines


I’ve long been a Carl Ehrhard fan and that continues after sampling this Riesling trocken from Bischofsberg, one of his vineyards. It has lovely bright gold colour. Apples feature in the aromas. This enticing crisp wine sees apples also in the flavours, a lively acidity too and then that minerally finish. This is a food friendly wine, Asian food and cheese are among the suggestions. Excellent too on its own and Very Highly Recommended.


If you’re new to German wine, you may need help with some of the words on the label:
Rüdesheim is the town.
Bischofsberg is the vineyard, named after a local archbishop.
Riesling is the grape.
Trocken means dry.
Rheingau is the wine district.
Ehrhard - you’re on a winner!



The vineyard has a gentle south-facing slope and the area in general is well known for its dry Rieslings - “full bodied with racy acidity”.


Yves Cuilleron á Chavanay “Les Vignes d’a Coté” Marsanne 2015, 14%, €17.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny



The Marsanne fruit for this Vin de France comes from an uncle’s vineyard revived by the return of Yves Cuilleron to Chavanay at the northern end of Saint-Joseph, one of the eight Northern Rhone crus.

If you like this, you are in good company as Victor Hugo was an admirer of Saint-Joseph wines. The main white grapes here are Clairette, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Bourboulenc and there are two secondary grapes White Picpoul and Ugni Blanc.

Anticipation was high as I settled down with this. Cuilleron comes with high ratings: …superstar…leading light…bright shining star..are adjectives applied to him by leading wine writers and publications.

Colour is bright yellow with tints of green, limpid in the bottle. On the nose there are white fruits, hints of honey and light floral notes. It is round, rich with exotic flavours, a semi-creamy texture, acidity enough and a long dry finish. This fresh and generous wine over-delivers. It is a high quality entry level wine and Very Highly Recommended. Marsanne can age well but this one (all 18,200 bottles) is made to be drunk when it is young and fresh (sur le fruit).

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Cracking Reds. Bergerac, Chianti and Hawkes Bay.


Terroir Feely Grâce Vin de France NV, 13.5%, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

You might have those eye-catching Purple Violetta potatoes currently being grown and marketed by Ballymakenny; that is more or less the colour of this excellent wine. Aromas are of freshly picked ripe plums and dark berries, leaves attached.

And the palate is of fresh fruit and acidity (all the better for food pairing). An amazingly pure wine, tannins a fine, very fine, influence. Balance is super, the fruit and astringency equally in evidence deep into the satisfying finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

This “rich and elegant” dry red wine, highly marked by Jancis Robinson, is produced by Caro and Sean feely in their Saussignac vineyard in the Bergerac area. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Unusually, it is non vintage (NV). Just 2,650 bottles were produced. No sulphites were added and the winery is certified organic and biodynamic. This “grace of nature” is the delicious result.

By the way, the Feelys recommended pairing it with Lamb (with Rosemary), duck breast, and Comté. Heard it went well also with venison at a recent dinner in Ballymaloe!




Ama Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €28.50 Karwig Wines

Husband and wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti produce this wine at their Castello Di Ama vineyard which is close to Sienna. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in the blend which also includes four per cent Merlot.

It is a light and bright ruby red and you’ll find expressive red fruit (cherry, raspberry) in the aromas. It is light and juicy, notes of spice, tart red fruit prominent, mid to full bodied, mid to high acidity contributes to the balance, silky tannins also in play and then a moderately long finish.

If I had to just one wine for the summer ahead, this would be it, more than one bottle of course. Approachable, carefree and attractive, it is Very Highly Recommended


Unison Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2005, 13.5%, a gift from a friend.

Unison describe themselves as “a truly boutique winery consistently producing world class wines”. No pressure then on this winery from the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district that produces finely balanced wines “of great elegance with a soft tannin structure”.

This Unison 2005 is their signature wine, the usual  blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is the 9th release with the usual good results. 

Colour is mid ruby and the complex aromas feature ripe red and darker fruit. It is smooth and rounded, a superbly balanced blend, fine tannins and velvety all the way. Nothing jars in this harmonious mouthful, a fine wine all the way from first sniff to the long finish. This red blend from New Zealand is not to be rushed and Very Highly Recommended.

If you can get your hands on it - my Wine-Searcher drew a blank - please let me know where!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dip into Spain and France with Mary Pawle Wines

Dip into Spain and France with Mary Pawle Wines

Azul y Garanza Garciano Navarro (D0) 2015, 14.5%, €16.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This nicely assembled blend of fruity and spicy Garnacha with the “subtle acidity” of the Graciano is produced organically and matured in cement tanks. But Azul y Garanza go further, planting fruit trees and native aromatic plants around the vineyards. “Working this way, we break the monoculture and we create a wider eco-system.”

They create some pretty good wines too if this one is anything to go by. It is mid-ruby in colour with red berries prominent in the nose. Fresh red fruit, raspberries mainly, on the palate, spice too, tannins just about in the mix. This medium bodied blend is quite intense, smooth and acceptably balanced with the Graciano acidity doing its bit. There is a hint of sweetness on the long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines


This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.

Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value too by the way.

Feely Résonance Bergerac (AC) 2012, 13.5%, €17.70 Mary Pawle Wines
In Bergerac
Crafted by Sean and Caro Feely in Saussignac (known for its dessert wine appellation but in the Bergerac appellation for red and white), this red is organic, unfined and unfiltered. It is basically a Merlot (98%) with a little Cabernet Sauvignon.
Merlot is the most widely grown red grape in France, most famously in the Pomerol area of Bordeaux where a bottle of Pétrus could set you back several thousand euro.
Colour is a deep ruby. Aromas of dark fruit, plum and black cherry. Full bodied, with power and elegance combined, balanced enough with a long spicy finish. Highly Recommended.
Match with pizza, pasta, and beef, say the winemakers, with Osso Bucco according to an acquaintance of mine.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Red and White worth noting. From the heart of the Corbieres garrigue.

 A Cathar castle in Villerouge-Termenès about 30 minutes from the chateau.
A summer festival when I visited a few years back but in 1321 the last of the Cathar leaders were burnt alive here.
Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana rouge Corbieres (AC) 2015, 13.5%, €14.85 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau
This is a blend of 50% Syrah (some over 40 years old) and 50% Grenache. It is produced in small vineyard parcels, actual clearings in the heart of the Corbieres garrigue (scrub), by organic methods. Add in low yields and you get a “really honest… satisfying red”. The winemakers suggest pairing it with strips of duck breast with ratatouille. 

One advantage of being surrounded by garrigue is that the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.

Colour is a deep ruby. Something wild, funky they say, about the nose, perhaps it’s the garrigue. Quickly on the palate, fruit, juice and spice emerge in intense and happy combination. Good body too, a tannic backbone and a persistent finish. No shrinking violet this yet it is much more finesse than rustic. A well made and friendly wine and Very Highly Recommended. It is indeed honest and satisfying and, by the way, well priced too.

Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana blanc Corbieres (AC) 2015, 12.5%, €14.85 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau

Again, like the red, this is a Bio wine, certified organic. It is produced from the fruit of vines well known in the Mediterranean area, Marsanne (60%), Roussane (20) and Vermentino (20). They hand-harvest; fermentation and ageing takes places in large vats. And the makers have a preference for matching it with Fried shrimp with coriander and other herbs.

It has an inviting golden colour. The aromas also attract, with fruit and floral elements prominent. There are gorgeous peachy and melon flavours on the elegant palate, a fresh and edgy acidity to balance and an excellent finish to boot. Very Highly Recommended.


One of the better-known Languedoc appellations, Corbieres is also one of the most productive. Its vineyards, situated south and west of Narbonne, are best known for its red wines, and there is now an increasing number of good whites. Château Beauregard is less then fifty minutes from Carcassonne, less than half that to Narbonne (and its Roman Road, the Via Domitia).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Two Top Whites from Bergerac and Rias Baixas

Eidos de Padriñán Albariño, Rias Baixas (DO) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

This enjoyable well-made wine, with enough freshness to balance the fruitiness, is made by a family winery in Val do Sainés, a sub region of Rias Baixas which claims to be the birthplace of the popular Albariño grape. 

It is said of the family that “they empty the grape of virtue”. Sounds a bit drastic. I think they mean to say they get the best from it.

It has a beautiful mid-gold colour. Peach and pear among the aromas, honeysuckle too. Melon and citrus add to the flavours on the palate; it is round and fresh and has that excellent acidity that makes this versatile wine a winning match with many cuisines, including Asian. A long finish, no shortage of minerality, completes a pleasant experience. Highly Recommended.


Get the best from the wine, empty it of virtue, by making sure it is nicely chilled, ideally between nine and ten degrees celsius. Then you can drink like a monarch! The King of Spain chose Albariño wines to celebrate his marriage to Queen Letizia.

Tour des Gendres Cuvée des Conti Bergerac sec (AOC) 2013, 13%, €17.15 Bradley’s (Cork), Le Caveau

I’m always partial to a Bergerac or Bordeaux white that has more Semillon than Sauvignon blanc and this is the case with this organic white which has 70% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon and 10% Muscadelle. 

You might think that this basic entry level wine might not get that much attention. But, in Cork last year, Guillaume de Conti told me this is one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, and it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this, helped by six months on the lees, certainly is. Good value too.

Not too sure of the colour! Tasting was by candlelight during a power cut, glimpses of gold spotted. Quite an intense bouquet though, fruit (white) and floral. It is fruity for sure but acidity is lively too, so well balanced, and there’s a long dry finish. Great purity and intensity and Highly Recommended.

The Conti family moved from Italy to France in 1925. In the recently published Wine Revolution, author Jane Aston recommends that you try their "Pét-Nat from 100% Sauvignon Blanc vines, bottled with no added sulphur." 

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!
Ragondin

Les Closiers Lirac (AC) 2015, 14%, €15.00 Marks and Spencer.

On the Rhone, a town called Roquemaure,
Drank some Lirac in a noisy bar.
After lunch of Poulet l’Estragon,
On the river, I saw the Ragondin.

Lirac, on the right bank, is, since 1946, one of the 16 crus of the Rhone and Roquemaure is one of the towns in the appellation. Marks and Spencer winemaker Belinda Kleinig says this is “an opulent example” made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault and recommends trying it with steak and sausages. One thing that struck me while drinking it, not on the Rhone but here in Cork, was the reliability of Rhone wine.

Decanter are also impressed and made it a winner in last year’s awards saying it was exquisite. “Lirac is often overshadowed by better known rivals but is a source of outstanding value wines.”

This has a beautiful deep ruby colour. Aromas are also enticing, mainly black fruit with spice and herb notes. Not at all shy on the palate, generous, well balanced. Try this lovely Lirac with red meats and game and you may well become a fan as did Avignon popes John Paul XX11 and Clement V. Blessed be the winemakers. An excellent drop and Very Highly Recommended. Very good value too. 

And the Ragondin? A relatively recent import, a kind of a cross between a rat and an otter, from South America. The French don't have much regard for them; you can't eat them, though one lady told me that someone had made a passable paté.

La Fête du Baiser ("festival of the kiss") is a festival celebrated in Roquemaure on the Saturday after St. Valentine's Day. The town also claims to be the place where Hannibal and his army (including elephants) crossed the Rhone in 218BC.

Torbreck Marananga Dam - Roussane, Marsanne, Viognier - Barossa Valley, Australia, 2015, 14%, €22.00 Marks & Spencer

This is another of the Platinum winners from the most recent Decanter awards. The Mediterranean grapes each add to the excellent blend. The Roussane provides structure and finesse. The Marsanne gives palate texture and richness while the Viognier offers a pure floral lift and finishes the wine with refinement and elegance. It is certainly a winner and Very Highly Recommended.

You immediately note the bright and beautiful light gold colour. White fruits and floral notes mingle in the nose. It is rich and fruity (apricot, citrus), hints of honey too, flow across the palate, no shortage of finesse in this medium to full-bodied wine. And there is a persistent finish, the dry finalé still with pleasant echoes of the fruit.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Loire White From The Banks Of The Cher. Plus a lovely Chablis.

Loire White From The Banks Of The Cher. Plus A Lovely Chablis.
The historic chateau of Chenonceau

Domaine du Haut Perron Touraine Chenonceau (AC) 2015, 13.5%, €19.95 Le Caveau, Bradley’s Cork

The vineyards for this Guy Allion Sauvignon Blanc are planted on slopes overlooking the Cher River (a Loire tributary), close to the gorgeous chateau of Chenonceauand not too far from historic Amboise (once home of the French royal court) where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the closing years of his life.

No problem with planning permission in 16th century. Just demolish most of the existing structure and build your own. That was how Thomas Bohier and his wife got to build the fantastic Château of Chenonceau that now straddles the River Cher in the Loire. It is one of the loveliest of the Loire chateaus and also one of the most popular. 

And there were more fascinating ladies right up to the 20th century when Simone Menier was in charge when two galleries of the chateau were transformed, at her family’s expenses, into a hospital for the wounded of the Great War. During World War 11, Chenonceau was on the line of demarcation and then Simone carried out numerous actions for the resistance. Simone, who died in 1972, was a member of the Menier family, the chocolatiers, who bought the chateau in 1913 and still own it today.

Last year in Cork, I met Nicolas Donne, a representative of Guy Allion, and he was delighted with this wine: “It can be made only in the valley of the Cher, a new appellation since 2011. Aromatic and elegant, it comes in its own unique bottle (made in Italy) and can age for ten years”.


Colour of this well balanced wine is a very light straw. Aromas, of moderate intensity, feature white fruits. It is a crisp wine with delicate fruit flavours (apple, pear, melon), citrus notes too, a noticeable tingle of minerality, all retained to the end. Highly Recommended.

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis (AC) 2015, 12.5%, €20.80 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau

Unoaked and produced from 10 to 30 year old vines. Take a look and you’ll see the characteristic light yellow with green tints. Take a sniff and you’ll note the white stone fruits aromas typical of this Kimmeridgian soil. Take a sip and you’ll taste the fruits, lime and apple, on the generous, almost creamy, palate, the local minerality also showing through. Perfectly balanced, more or less, this well made Chablis finishes well and is Highly Recommended.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too. French Wine Fest At SuperValu


Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too
French Wine Fest At SuperValu.

The French have taken over the wine aisle of your local SuperValu and they’ll be entrenched until the last day of the month. So you'd best get in there quickly and take advantage of the current generosity. Some big cuts in regular prices here and other tempting offers; watch out for case deals and also get another ten euro off if you buy six bottles.

The Reds
Remy Ferbras Vacqueyras (AOP) 2015, 14%, €12.00 (20.99)


Colour is ruby red and ripe dark fruits abound in the inviting mix of aromas. There is a great balance between the ripe fruit and spices, plus a hint of liquorice, impressive texture, full bodied and rounded.  A good bottle to have on your table at this time of year, great with duck and roast meat dishes, and also the goat now being sold by Eoin O’Mahony in the English Market. It is SuperValu’s Wine of the Month and Very Highly Recommended. Note that massive discount!

Vacqueyras is one of the nine villages in the Southern Rhone that is allowed its own name as the AOC name. The others are Cairanne (the most recent, 2016), Rasteau, Vinsobres, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Lirac, Tavel and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and all nine are regarded as crus.

The village itself is small and tree lined. Indeed, when I called there a few years back, the summer canopy of leaves had the centre in deep shade in the early afternoon. Looked a bit unreal.

Homage du Rhone Vinsobres (AC) 2015, 15%, €12.00 (15.99)

Vinsobres may not be as well known as its fellow Rhone wine Vacqueyras but it is well worth checking out. Grapes allowed in the Vinsobres are Grenache (50% minimum), Syrah (25%) and/or Mourvedre, other varieties allowed 25% max. Serve, they suggest, at 16 to 17 degrees, with Provencal dishes of lamb or game. Goat perhaps?!

Colour is mid-purple and the legs are indeed slow to clear (as you'd expect with the high ABV). Aromas are rather intense, plum and cherry prominent. Spice and fruit lead on the palate, an intense tango; tannins there too but they are gentle. Bring on the red meat, that game, a stew perhaps, then the cheese. With this in our cups, we are well prepared. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Mauleon Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany (AOP) 2014, 13%, €10.00 (11.99)

This mid to deep purple wine features strong red to darker fruits in the aromas, floral hints too. There is a spicy introduction with strong fruit, the tannins close to velvety. Quite an impressive assemblage of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache. Recommended. Pairing dishes suggested are Mountain ham, Pata Negra, Rack of Lamb (with spices), or Pork chops (with herbs of Provence, stuffed tomatoes or mushrooms and cream).


Les Blancs

Andre Goichot Mâcon-Lugny (AC) 2016, 13%, €10.00 (14.99)

This is a terrific example of French Chardonnay from the grape’s birth place (there is a village called Chardonnay a short drive away). After a few years of tasting, I am coming to the conclusion that most AG wines are good and that quite a few are very good indeed.

This has a very light strawy colour. A nose of stone fruits, floral notes too. Palate features flavours of those fruits (peach, nectarine, apricot) plus apple and citrus too, a crisp acidity, and some minerality also. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.



Andre Goichot Pouilly-Fuissé (AC) Les Feuilles d’Or 2014, 13%, €16.00 (22.99)

Colour is a medium gold and there are aromas of citrus and white fruits among quite a medley. In the mouth, it is smooth, close to creamy, richly fruited and soft with good acidity too plus a lingering finish. An elegant wine indeed, one of my favourites from the sale, and Very Highly Recommended. 

La Baume Elisabeth Viognier Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2016, 14%, €10.00 (12.99)

This friendly, fresh and fruity white wine has a light, and bright, straw colour. Inviting white fruit aromas, floral notes also. The palate delivers a delicious mixture of citrus, peach and apricot flavours, a little tingle too, even a hint of sweetness, yet the fresh finish that follows is lip-smackingly dry. Highly Recommended. Sufficiently full-bodied to pair with Asian cuisine.


Others to note in the sale
Chateau Camp De La Hire 2010 (Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux), 13%, €12.00 (15.99)

Intense colour here; the fruity aromas are also quite intense. Medium to full bodied, with soft tannins, it is fresh and elegant, well balanced and pleasingly complex with long finalé. Highly Recommended.

This is not the Bordeaux of the big chateaux. But the same grapes are used, mainly Merlot in this case. Castillon, one of four Cotes de Bordeaux areas, is squeezed between the Dordogne River to the south, St Emilion (no less) to the immediate west and the Dordogne department to the east.

Alchimie Sauvignon Blanc (Coteaux du Giennois AOC), €12.00 (14.99)

This little known little appellation (202 hectares) on the eastern edge of the Loire Valley northeast of Sancerre (4181 ha) produces almost equal amounts of light-bodied red and white wines. With extensions of Sancerre limestone geological formations into the area, you can expect good Sauvignon Blanc and this doesn't disappoint. Highly Recommended.

Fancy a little sparkler? Try Andre Guichot Vin Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Brut €12.00 (17.99).

Price in brackets indicates the normal price per bottle.