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

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!

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.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Couple of Recommended Reds to Consider!

Thierry Germain Saumur-Champigny (AC) 2015, 13%, €26.45 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau,
Chateau de Saumur
Saumur, on the Loire in Western France, is a great town to visit. Highlights include the medieval fort (Chateau de Saumur), the underground Musée du Champignons, plus wine tours and tastings. Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation for the two named places and six neighbouring villages. The wines are made, almost exclusively, from Cabernet Franc.

Germain is biodynamic and produces Cabernet Franc with purity, finesse and drinkability, wines that feature “generous and ripe darker fruit flavours”. His cellars are in “tuffeau” caves below the winery. Tuffeau is the soft local limestone and you see it in many buildings in the area.

Le Revue des Vins des France gave the domaine its coveted Three Star designation and later made him Winegrower of the Year in 2011.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are fruity aromas, ripe berry mainly, floral notes too. Fruit flavours follow through to the palate, amazingly generous for such a young wine; freshness and purity too plus an excellent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

It is made from the fruit of vines with an average age fo 25 years and harvested to preserve aroma and freshness. It is raised for 3 to 4 months in a combination of stainless steel and foudres (large wooden vats). A good partner with a variety of dishes. Thierry himself recommends ballotine of chicken with cracked black pepper.

Aplanta Alentejano (IG) 2015, 14%, €13.95 Bradley’s Cork

I like this mid to dark ruby Portuguese wine with its dark fruit aromas. Palate has that fruit, cherry prominent, spice too, a hint of vanilla, soft tannins. It is quite plush but good acidity makes for excellent balance. A well made everyday wine that won't be out of place at the weekend! Like many wines from Portugal it over delivers at the price. Quite a lot of character in this refreshing glass and Highly Recommended.

As you might expect it is a blend, produced by Obrigado with grapes from a community vineyard. It is 70% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 30% Alicante (Garnacha). They recommend pairing it with grilled meat (burgers, steaks), charcuterie and “sharp” cheeses!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Two Splendid and Delightful Whites.

Chateau de Chatelard Beaujolais Blanc (AOP), Cuvée Secret de Chardonnay 2016, 13%, €18.30 Karwig’s

Given the Beaujolais bias toward Gamay, it is not surprising that Beaujolais Blanc is little-known. Just two per cent of the crop is Chardonnay. Chatelard do quite a few good reds also and Karwig’s have a selection.

This white has a light gold colour, clear and bright. There are fairly intense aromas, fruity and floral, all present too in an ample palate. There is a creamy texture plus a superb balance and the finish is soft with a nice length. A pleasant surprise and Very Highly Recommended. Good on its own or with seafood and fish (don't forget freshwater fish too, such as trout).

The winemakers tell us that about twenty per cent has been aged in barrels to “give more fatness and complexity”. Vintage is by hand and this is a natural product so you may find a soft and light deposit (a sign of quality!).

Meyer-Fonné Vin D’Alsace (AOC) Gentil 2015, 12.5%, €16.65 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork
Felix Meyer makes his wines in accord with biodynamic principles and “with unmatched precision, depth, purity and expression of terroir”. This Gentil (many Alsace winemakers produce a gentil) is a blend of Muscat, Pinot blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, “a perfectly balanced and serious wine”.

The denomination Gentil is reserved for AOC Alsace wines that fit within the standards of a superior quality blend. I reckon this one had no problem meeting the criteria. I have also found over the years that the Gentils are fairly priced, good quality and good value.

This has a beautiful light gold colour and bubbles tend to linger. There are intense white fruit aromas, a waft of blossom too. The palate is engagingly fruity, spice in the mix too, excellent texture and a long dry finish. Quite a gem at the price and Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Excellent Reds From Karwigs

Teruzzi Puthod Peperino Toscano (IGT) 2014, 13.5%, €19.35 Karwig Wines

From the heart of Tuscany comes this deep-ruby wine. Fragrant for sure, all the way through to the end. In between, you’ll find it well-balanced and satisfying on the palate, tannins assertive, spice much less so. A very pleasant amalgam indeed and Highly Recommended. They also make a lovely white Vernaccia.

The grapes in this blend of Sangiovese and Merlot are grown on the little hills around San Gimignano, well-known for its medieval towers, including the Torre Grossa. Well-known too for its ice-cream which is certainly very good. What I didn't fancy very much was the cappuccino I got in the lovely old Piazza della Cisterna. The wine spends 8 months in barriques, 10% new, and  they say it’s fine for meats and cheeses.

Cà Vittoria Apassimento Gold Release Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €16.95 Karwig

Late ripening and then the harvest is followed by a period of drying in trays. When the grapes are close to being raisins, the wine is made. This Appassimento process increases fruit concentration but leaves enough acidity to balance the rich fruit. Grapes used in this bottle are Negroamaro (60%),  Merlot (25%) and Primitivo (15%).

Gold Release may refer to the fact that this mid-purple coloured wine from Puglia in the south of Italy (the heel) has won a few awards. The aromas, like the colour, are intense, mainly plum, hints of sweetness. 

And that fruit concentration, typical of appassimento, is immediately obvious on the palate, that sweetness too. But there is indeed enough acidity to balance; the tannins still grippy. Overall, a pleasant easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.

Chateau La Bastide L’Optimée Corbieres (AOP) 2012, 14%, €19.25 Karwig
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and has spent some 12 months in Bordelaise barriques. Recommended serving temperature is 16-17 degrees. 

It has a dark red colour, slightly lighter at the rim. Quite an intense red fruit aroma, plus a bit of spice. Intense too on the palate, dark fruit and spice again, ripe round tannins and a long lingering finish. A very pleasant wine indeed and, like earlier editions, Very Highly Recommended. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Three Excellent Wines. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Three of the Best. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, 12.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines

Fleurie, like all ten crus, is in the east of the Beaujolais region. Here Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.

This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage. Serve at 15 degrees to get the best from this Fleurie. I found it easy to make my mind up here. No need to wait for the second glass - though that did come - Very Highly Recommended.

Loimer Langenlois Loiserberg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (DAC) 2015, 13%, RRP € 23.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online

The first thing I really noticed* about this bottle was its glass closure; plastic is also used in the seal. It is marked trocken (dry) and made by Fred Loimer in the Kamptal area of Austria. Kamp is a river, a left bank tributary of the Danube which it joins near Krems, about 45 minutes north-east of the famous monastery of Melk.

They have been organic since 2006 and admit to having been inspired by the natural scientist Rudolph Steiner. “this has brought us, we admit, criticism from some quarters”. Their wines though have not, on the contrary. You’ll find the typical Gruner characteristics of herb, spice and apple here in this refreshing example.

There is a good yellow colour and a mixed nose of fruity and herbal notes. There is a peppery touch on the lively palate, along with mellow fruit flavours (2015 was a warm vintage), nice acidity too and excellent balance. A mineral character is prominent in a good long finish. Highly Recommended.

* One of the last things I noticed was the cheeky little fellow embedded in the glass closure!

Alpha Zeta Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2015, 13.5%, €19.99 Bradley’s, Cork; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

I know quite a few of you are Ripasso fans and this is another fine mouth-watering example of the technique and indeed has been described as a “mini-Amarone”. Grapes used are Corvina/Corvinone (70%) and Rondinella (30).

Ruby is the colour. Aromas speak of cherry and you may note the slightly raisin-ed notes familiar from Amarone. It has a rich concentrated palate, the cherry staying prominent, spice too, well balanced though with a fresh and dry finish, long too. Highly Recommended.

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 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.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines

Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines
Focus on the classic white grapes: Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc
Hardworking winemakers in Vouvray

The Loire Valley has claims, quite strong, to being the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc. Eventually it got together with Cabernet Franc, another grape widely-grown in the valley, and produced Cabernet Sauvignon. " lovers would have to thank it for that," say Grapes and Wines. The name of the grape was rarely on labels until its debut in the 70s in New Zealand and then everyone got to know it through the pungent wines from Marlborough. Well-made Loire examples, while usually somewhat more restrained, are still worth checking out. And the bottle below from Menetou-Salon is excellent and at a good price too.

While Sauvignon Blanc is now grown all over the world, Chenin Blanc has a much less extensive footprint, mainly found in the Loire and in South Africa. Here in Ireland, we get examples that are usually dry but it is a versatile fruit as you can read below. Vouvray is in the middle of the Loire Valley, not too far from the historic city of Tours. St Martin, the patron saint of wine, was a bishop here.

Bourillon Coup de Trique Vouvray (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine

From a troglodyte cellar in the Loire Valley and bearing a very modern fancy orange cork (100% recyclable nomacorc), comes this Highly Recommended Chenin Blanc from Vouvray.

You’ll note the word sec (dry) on the front label, unusual for French still wine labels. But this Chenin Blanc is a very versatile wine. “In the Loire… its wines go from scaringly dry, to dry, to fairly dry, to vaguely off-dry, to off-sweet, sweet, very, very sweet - and there’s good Chenin fizz too.” Grapes and Wine go on to detail an equally long list of styles from South Africa (where Chenin is well-known) and  where it makes “an awful lot of brandy”.

This has quite a bright light straw colour. Aromas feature white fruit, floral and herbal notes. A lively attack with white pepper in among the fruit and the long very satisfying palate is followed by a lengthy and equally satisfying finish. 

Jean-Max Roger Morgues Le Petit Clos Menetou-Salon (AOC) 2015, 13%, €21.55 Karwig

Menetou-Salon is a village at the eastern end of the Loire Valley wine region and considered an up and coming rival to its famous neighbour Sancerre. Inhabitants are known as Monestrosaloniens and you thought Corkonian was a mouthful!

This 100% Sauvignon blanc has a lovely gold colour. In the aromas you’ll find white fruit (citrus to the fore) and floral elements too. Excellent mouthfeel, fresh and fruity, and matching acidity all the way through to the long finish. Highly Recommended.

Fish, shellfish, white meats and goats cheese are the suggested pairings. “It is an ideal way to start a meal or to enjoy with friends during the day.”

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle

Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle
Bertrand (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau

Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family since 2013. Once upon a time, Bertrand was front and rear at his Premeaux-Prissey vineyard. He was the boss. Now his children, Francois and Ludivine, have taken on the business and Bertrand says he, no longer the boss, now works for them. He is glad to have them share the load, allowing him the freedom to concentrate on making good wines, such as this pair, made and named for his granddaughter.

Daughter Ludivine has said the move to organic viticulture is one of true belief as she lost her grand-father due to illness caused by chemicals used in the fields.Take a taste of their Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’ to see where they are heading. This is a faultless wine with an astounding finalé and is also available from le Caveau.

Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons (ACBC) 2013, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau

In Cork, earlier this year, Bertrand told me that this Pinot Noir is fermented in mixed-age 400 litre oak barrels, he doesn't want oak influence here, so no new barrels are used.

It has a  mid-ruby robe. Plums feature prominently in the bouquet. The palate is full of pure fruit, firm tannins there too, along with a lively acidity and that focused combination plays all the way to a classic faultless finalé. Much has been squeezed from the parcels of poor soil and, lovingly guarded every step of the way, much remains in the bottle. A gorgeous well-priced wine, one of his thirteen Pinot Noirs, and Highly Recommended.

Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons Chardonnay (ACBC) 2014, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau

The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines. It is fermented in barrels of different ages (one, two and three years old oak), not fined and only lightly filtered.

Colour is mid-gold, with tints of green. Fairly intense aromas feature white fruit and blossoms. It is round and fruity (citrus to the fore eventually), with just enough acidity. A wonderful drop indeed, very well made and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SuperValu Christmas Wines. Six of the Best!

SuperValu Christmas Wines
Six of the Best!

SuperValu’s wine expert Kevin O’Callaghan has brought together a great collection of wines for Christmas and the New Year. Wines from all over the world (though the six we’ve tried are from France mainly and Spain), including some Premium wines at unmissable prices. 

Kevin: “Those looking for gorgeous gift offerings won't be disappointed with our selection of market leading case deals from magnums of red wine to 6 bottle cases from Bordeaux and an organic from Spain.” There are discounts galore until the end of the year.

Pagos de Labarca AEX Rioja (DOC) 2014, 13.5%, €22.99 (€18.00 until 31/12/17) 

It won’t be all turkey over the Christmas. There’ll be beef and some good hard cheese and then you’ll be glad you have a bottle of this Rioja on hand. Maybe a bit too much for Ireland’s favourite bird but its rich fruit and spice guarantees it a welcome on the festive table. This limited edition, just over 6,000 bottles, is a big wine for a big occasion. AEX by the way stands for the Spanish Alta Expression, highest expression.

Colour is a mid to deep purple. Rich concentrated dark fruit aromas and maybe even more intense on the palate. Warm, rounded and spicy, juicy too, with excellent persistence. Quite a treat and Very Highly Recommended. I've heard Kevin O’Callaghan describe this as a blockbuster and it certainly lives up to the billing.
Rioja vineyards seen through the glass of Bai Gorri Winery

Lunatico Monastrell Jumilla (DOP) 2015, 14%, €18.99 (€14.00 until 31/12/17)

This young red wine is part of SuperValu’s Specially Sourced Signature Range and has spent 12 months in French oak. It is 100% Monastrell (probably better known to many by its French name Mourvedre). Jumilla is one of the better areas for this grape.

Kevin O'Callaghan says this is “the new favourite wine of the moment”. He also has an eye for a good label and says this the art on this one is only surpassed by the art inside, “dark and rich with no rough edges”.

Colour is medium purple with the legs slow to clear. Black berries feature in the aromas. On the palate, the rich berry flavours are enhanced by the sweet oak spice. It is rich and smooth overall with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended.

Keep an eye out too for other wines from Casa de la Ermita, especially the Idílico and the Crianza.

Chateau Tour Baladoz Saint Emilion Grand Cru (AOC) 2005, 13.5%, €44.99 (€25.00 until 31/12/17)

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.

Andre Guichot Pouilly-Fuissé (AOC) 2014, 13%, €22.99 (€18.00 until 31/12/17)

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 and Very Highly Recommended. Recommended with shell fish, king prawns, lobster, crab or poultry in cream sauce as well as goat’s cheese. 

Andre Guichot Meursault (AOC) 2014,13%, €44.99 (€35.00 until 31/12/17)

Colour is a greenish gold, limpid and brilliant, and here again the fruit and acidity match up in an exceptional balance. Fresh and smooth it has an excellent refined mouthfeel with a streak of minerality and a long finish that keeps giving. This is indeed excellent and Highly Recommended.

On the area’s website, I read: “Nowhere in the Côte de Beaune does the Chardonnay grape do better that its does here”. Former US president Thomas Jefferson once visited the region and reported: " Meursault only white wines are made, because there is too much stone for the red".  

Andre Guichot Vin Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Brut, 11.5%, €17.49 (14.00 until 31/12/17)

Andre Goichot, best known as a negociant but who is also a producer, has been here in Burgundy since 1947; watch out also for his Chablis. He is well known too for his bubbles and this Blanc de Blancs (just means it’s a white from white grapes) is a delightful way to start your evening. Bubbles in your glass will also be welcome before that Christmas lunch or at any gathering around the big day. Just serve a few nibbles with it as those bubbles go straight to the head!

And if you like it, and many of you will, Guichot promises “a perfect match with all food styles”. It is off dry, the bubbles very evident immediately after pouring. There are lovely fruit flavours before a good dry finish. Recommended for sure and good value as well. Bonne Noël!

This particular AG Collection also includes a Demi-sec and a Rosé Prestige.