Showing posts with label Graves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Graves. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wines Direct Hit Double Top With French Pair

Wines Direct Hit Double Top With French Pair

Domaine des Corbillieres Sauvignon Blanc Touraine (AOC) 2015, 13%, €14.35 Wines Direct

Sometimes it pays to go back to the source. And, in this case, you don't have to pay all that much to get a prime bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, one the world’s favourite grapes and certainly one of its favourite wines.

This is a little known classic from the Loire. Well maybe not that little known. M. Robert Palmer has credited the winery with producing “some of the consistently finest, not to mention best value, Sauvignon Blanc on the planet.”


High praise indeed and well deserved for the organic winemakers. This Sauvignon Blanc has the classic aromas of gooseberry and pear, herbaceous and citrus elements on the palate and a strong minerality in the dry finish.  Light bodied and high quality. It may not have much colour but it has everything else. What a pleasant surprise. Very Highly Recommended.


Chateau de Cardaillan Graves (AOC) 2012, 14%, €23.15 Wines Direct



Cardaillan is a vineyard on the eastern edge of Graves, part of the better known Chateau de Malle (famous for its Sauternes). The blend here is fifty fifty between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and it is matured in oak for 12-18 months (depending on the vintage).

It is quite a deep red with a pronounced bouquet of ripe red fruit. The complex fruit flavours and almost velvety tannins endow this medium bodied blend with finesse and an easy drinking elegance. There is a good long finish and acidity enough for food. Wines Direct recommend T-bones but why stop at beef? Try it with lamb and venison too. Very Highly Recommended

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Bordeaux Trio. St Emilion and Graves

A Bordeaux Trio
St Emilion and Graves

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

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

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


Château Magneau Graves 2009, 12.5%

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


Château Peyreblanque Graves 2010, 14%.

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 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, August 12, 2015

Four Countries. Four Bottles. Your Euro Wine Trip.

Four Countries. Four Bottles.
Your Euro Wine Trip.


Itinerary: Meet at Karwig Wines, Carrigaline 11.00 any weekday. Countries visited: France, Germany, Spain, Austria. Virtual trip possible on-line.

Chateau Mouret Graves blanc (AOC) 2014, 12.5%, €16.90, Karwig Wines

Advice from Graves on choosing a wine.
Start without preconceptions, start simply. I like. I do not like. Then try to explain why. But always return “to the notion of pleasure”. This wine made ​​me happy . Did not make ​​me happy. So yeah I bought. No, I did not buy.

I was also talking to Joe Karwig about the Mouret and he admitted that he loves the blend. He was speaking to the converted. Still, the question remained: Would this wine make me happy?

The blend of Sauvignon blanc and Semillon can vary quite a bit but this is of classic proportions with sixty per cent SB. The nose and finish are probably more Sauvignon. On the palate it delivers fruit and refreshment; it is light, clean and crisp. Green fruit, herby and grassy aromas are followed by a bright acidity in the mouth, all the characteristics you’d expect to find in a blend of these proportions.

This classic example did indeed make me happy and is Very Highly Recommended.

Moselland Riesling Classic 2014 (Mosel), 11.5%, €13.60, Karwig Wines

When people chat about Riesling, there is often a noticeable division of opinion between those it pleases and those who don't like it. This one could go some way towards bridging the divide as, on the label, it is recommended for a chat. It is also recommended for chicken, salads, fish and seafood.

It has a light straw colour and pleasing floral aromas. Nicely balanced and pretty full-bodied with no shortage of fruit, no shortage of finish either from this crisp dry wine. Moselland, created over 25 years ago, is the largest wine-growing co-op in the Rheinland-Pfalz. It pleased me and is Highly Recommended.

Las Renas Monastrell 2013 (Bullas DO), 14%, €12.45 Karwig Wines

We reviewed the 2012 edition of this wine a few months back. The 2013 is also good, maybe even a little better. Monastrell is the Spanish equivalent of Mourvedre.
Bullas

Color is cherry red and it has rather intense aromas of red and black fruits. It is fresh, young and fruity, smooth, medium bodied, very pleasing and easy drinking, well balanced with average persistence at the finalé. An excellent well-priced wine and Highly Recommended.

Winzer Krems, Sandgrubel 13, Blauer Zweigelt trocken 2013, St Severin (Austria), 13%, €14.45 (check net) Karwig Wines

Blauer Zweigelt, or just plain Zweigelt, is the grape here and the colour is a light red, almost see through. Red fruits, cherry (mainly) and strawberry, in the aromas. Fresh and fruity too on the palate, traces of spice, mild and velvety, with good acidity. Light and lovely indeed, ideal for summertime recreation rather than winter mediation. Delightfully different and Highly Recommended

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Good Stuff From The Garonne Gravel. A Duo of Excellent Graves Reds

Good Stuff From The Garonne Gravel

A Duo of Excellent Graves Reds


Chateau des Fougeres Clos Montesquieu, Graves rouge 2011, 13%, €14.80 at Maison Des Vins in Podensac

This is a fairly small estate and much of the work is done by hand. This is a classic blend, half Merlot, half Cabernet Sauvignon. It is pleasant and supple on the palate, has excellent flavours and some spice. Tannins too but just about. And this superb dry wine finishes so well. Very Highly Recommended.

I passed Chateau des Fougeres quite a few times last summer but never visited. Charles de Montesquieu, for whom this wine is named, was a philosopher and author as well as a public figure, businessman and wine grower. He lived in La Brède, overseeing the development of his estate and his vineyard. He was the first to promote the wines of the Graves region, and did much to build their reputation throughout France and in Britain.

Clos Montesquieu Graves rouge is raised in French oak casks for 14 to 16 months. “Its ageing potential has increased over the past vintages and will continue to do so thanks to various ongoing projects. The grapes we use for this wine come from our most gravelly parcels.” And that gravel gives you a big hint as to how to pronounce Graves!

Chateau de Respide Cuvee Callipyge, Graves rouge 2010, 13.5%, €11.80 at Maison Des Vins in Podensac

The chateau is proud of “this high-end wine”, a blend of Merlot (48%), Cabernet Sauvignon (47) and Petit Verdot (5). 24,000 bottles were produced and it has spent 12 months in oak (50% of which is new timber).

Colour here is quite a dark red and there are intense fruits on the nose. On the palate, it is smooth, and fruity too, hints of spice, but all under close control. Tannins are present but not obtrusive. All in all, a superbly made superbly balanced wine, “suitable for Bordeaux Grands enthusiasts” as they say at the chateau who indicate it goes well with “dishes in sauce”, meats, poultry and cheese. Very Highly Recommended.

The style of wine from both these vineyards, both left bank, is essentially the same as that in Pessac Leognan so that means good value can be found here and neither chateau is too far away from the Autoroute Des Deux Mers (A62), familiar to more than a few Irish holidaymakers. Alternatively, why not detour to Podensac where’ll you find the Maison des Vins (where 100s of chateaux are represented) and also the Lillet distillery.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Very Wine Weekend


A Very Wine Weekend
Reds to the Fore

Straccali Chianti Classico, Riserva 2004, 13.5%, €24.40 Karwig Wines

This ruby red gem is 90% Sangiovese with intense aromas. Easy drinking and Very Highly Recommended. Fruity for sure but very well balanced indeed, excellent matching acidity. Sip it on its own or with food (stews, pastas, poultry and fred meats are all recommended). A very generous wine, elegant and palate friendly with a long finish.

Nugan Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012 (Australia), 14.5%, €19.99, SuperValu

This is a highly rated wine, made in Amarone style from partially dried grapes and has spent 12 months in French and US oak. Darkly coloured it has very inviting fruit aromas. No shortage of fruit on the palate, some spice too; rich, with good depth of flavour, and quite intense; it is full bodied, very well balanced and dry to extra dry; tannins are refined and it has a long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Stellar Winery Merlot 2013, South Africa, 13.5%, €15.00 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

You immediately notice the healthy sheen on this ruby coloured wine and the nose has pretty simple direct fruit aromas. Medium bodied with lovely fruit flavours, soft and juicy and tannins have a slight grip. This is a really well balanced wine with a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Stellar, in the Western Cape. produce organic fair-trade wines with no added sulphites, vegan friendly too. The Indian Rubber ducks, featured on the front label, form “a highly efficient pest-control squad”. Pairing recommendations: pasta, lamb, beef.

Chateau Respide Medeville 2011, (Graves, France), 13.5%, €15.30 in Graves.

According to Hugh Johnson, this is one of the better producers in Graves for both red and white. The blend here is Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot, all hand-picked. A surprising nose here, hints of spice and vanilla, even traces of anise, and that lively red fruit is also prominent on the palate. It is quite complex with great depth of flavour and a long dry finish. Glad I bought more than one of these last June while visiting the local Maison des Vins. Not sure you can get this in Ireland but Very Highly Recommended if you do come across it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Sweet Exception

A Sweet Exception

Chateau Tour de Calens, Graves Superieures 2010.


The big sweet wines of France are pretty well known. Sauternes will top most lists but next door in the Dordogne you’ve got Monbazillac. In the Loire, they’ll boast of their Layon and more. 

But the French do make many sweet wines, not all as intense as those previously mentioned, and you'll find gorgeous and versatile moelleuxs (semi-sweet), such as the white of Jurancon and the red vin doux naturel (naturally sweet) of Rasteau, all over the place.

I was up and down Bordeaux’s left bank a few times recently and, of course, a call to Sauternes (what a tiny little place) was on the cards. Before that though, I made a couple of visits to the Maison des Vins de Graves in Podensac and got educated.

While Sauternes (and its entwined neighbour Barsac) are on the left bank, their wines were not on sale in the Maison. But that doesn't mean there is no sweet wine produced in the rest of the area. Indeed, there are quite a few and they are labelled Graves Superieures.

I got to taste a few of the fifteen they had in stock, including Chateau Rougemont 2006 and Chateau Cherchy Desqueyroux 2011. Enjoyed both and also the winner of their 2013 Gold Medal for the category, Chateau Brondelle 2011.
But the one that caught my sweet tooth was the Chateau Tour de Calens 2010, the category winner in 2012. “This is the exception that proves the rule,” said my hostess as she poured. All the others are from land adjoining Sauternes or Barsac to the east (where you'd expect the Botrytis cinerea mould that gives the sweetness to occur) but the Calens is out on its own in the west. It is produced on the bank of the Gironde in the environs of the town of Beautiran, closer to Bordeaux itself than to Barsac. 

The Doublet family are the producers and offer both Red Graves (75% Cabernet Sauvignon) and White (a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon blanc). In exceptional years, “a few feet of vines, harvested in late fall, allow the development of the Graves Supérieures : a soft sweet wine with a rich palette of candied fruit”.

I bought a few bottles and one made it home. Sipping it now, the €8.80 I paid for the half litre was money well spent. But where will the replacement come from? Pretty sure it is not on sale in Ireland.

* There are a few ways of producing sweet wines. Noble Rot (Botrytis cinerea), as in Sauternes, is probably the best known. The other main method is Late Harvest (Vendage Tardive), used in Alsace for example. Read more on the subject here.

Two drinks events, cider and champagne.
* The multi-award winning Franciscan Well Brewery is proud to host its first Summer Cider Festival from 4th July to 6th July. Cider makers showing include MacIvors, Tempted Cider, Craigies, Cork’s very own Stonewell Cider and Little Island Cider and Scott's Irish Cider, to name but a few.   The Cider Festival will open at 2pm on Friday 4thSaturday 5th and Sunday6th
Admission is free.

On Thursday, 24th July, at 7.00pm, a Krug Champagne tasting with Nicole Burke, Krug USA Brand Ambassador, will be held in the Ballymaloe Cookery School (note venue). Contact colm@ballymaloe.ie for further details and bookings.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ferry Nice Magneau Double

Ferry Nice Magneau Double
Graves vineyards, near Podensac
Came home from the recent holiday in Bordeaux with a stash of wine. Nothing unusual about that! The advice that came it was to leave it rest for about three weeks after its travels. Could have done with three weeks rest myself!

Three weeks without touching the St Emilion and Sauternes could be fairly frustrating, I thought. On the day home though, I spotted (invented?) a solution in the wine shop on the Brittany Ferry Pont Aven. They had a well priced double, a 2011 red and white from Bordeaux’s Chateau Magneau. These are used to traveling, I thought, and so, with that flimsy excuse, the pair were the first to be opened.

I had made the acquaintance of the wines from this Graves chateau in the Maison des Vins de Graves on the outskirts of Podensac and had confidence in its quality. I drank an elder cousin of the rouge but hadn't tasted either of the 2011s. I wouldn't be disappointed! 

On board value, for wines in general, was pretty good too. Can’t find the receipt but the two bottles cost about £17.50 (about 25 euro). If you’re taking the ferry to France this year, keep an eye out for this and similar offers. Staying on dry land? Then, From Vineyards Direct have some interesting Graves here and so too have Curious Wines.

Chateau Magneau Graves rouge 2011
Grape variety here is 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. It has spent 12 months in oak casks (1/3 new) for 12 months. It has rich aromas with hints of red fruits and it is full-bodied with an elegant mouthfeel. Tannins are well-blended and all in all it is a very pleasant wine indeed, a good complement for all red meats and cheese and likely to be even better in a year or two.

Chateau Magneau Graves blanc 2011
I do like a decent bit of Semillon in my Bordeaux whites and this, a local gold medal winner, has 40%. The other varieties, both traditional in the blend, are Sauvignon (45%) and Muscadelle (15). This, with complex aromas,  was probably the more satisfactory of the pair, well structured, elegant, fruity with a long lasting aftertaste, the perfect mix of full body and intensity.  A lovely aperitif and likely to be a good match with seafood and fish.
Mine is not the only stamp of approval! Magneau wines are produced under the method of cultivation known as Terra Vitis:  " the stamp of French vinegrower-winemakers who respect nature and Man and who craft wines to please the taste buds."

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Top of St Emilion

On Top of St Emilion
Mon 16th June 2014

St Emilion chateau, from the tower
Finally made it to St Emilion and too did tout le monde. The season has started here for sure and the tourists, including this Irish pair, are out in force. And the wine-shops are ready, ready to deal in dollars or yen, en premiere and any wine investment you fancy.

Not for me. First priority was to find a parking space and this we did, within yards of the local Maison du Vin. They have a big selection here but no tastings. Not very well up on St Emilion so I stuck to 2009 and 2010. Had some notion that Chateau Haut Rocher was a good one and got some, though the most expensive purchase was the 2010 Chateau Haut La Grace Dieu. Also picked up a few cheaper ones from Lussac.
St Emilion vineyard
With the tourists in, prices are up. For instance, an espresso here costs €2.50 as against €1.50 in Arcachon. Don't think it cost me that to get to the top of St Emilion. Had a lovely chat with the young man in charge of the entrance to the tower - he is coming to Cork as he loves the Irish women. It was a fantastic climb to the top of the Bell Tower of the Monolithic Church (I kid you not!) with some great views out over the Cote Pavie slope and more.
St Emilion
Much of St Emilion is classed as Cultural Landscape by UNESCO since 1999. Has France stolen a march with these UNESCO bods or has Ireland been slow off the mark?

Back down then for a visit to the ancient church and its intact cloisters, also a stroll round that part of the town, some slippery shiny paving stones there in the narrow streets (bring decent footwear), and a quick look at an art Expo before heading for “home”.
Passed through Entre Deux Mers today
 Earlier, in Podensac, we had renewed acquaintance with our friendly server in the Graves Maison du Vin. We loved our initial haul here and that drew us back. One of the stars this time is the Rochemorin blanc 2010. We bought a few bottles for just €11.95, knowing that the same bottle cost us fifty euro in a local Arcachon restaurant (Le Patio). As we left with our haul, our friendly server, another who now wants to come to Cork, gave me a “Daddy Day” pressie, some Graves drop stops. Merci beaucoup!

Graves vineyards, near Podensac
As we approached Arcachon, we were getting a little worried about dinner as many restaurants and shops close on Monday. But our traiteur friend in Chez la mere Catherine came to the rescue with his plat du jour, Axoa de veau (€10.12 for two), a Basque dish that we regularly enjoyed during a stay two years back in Hendaye. He also supplied dessert: Fondant a L’Orange (€5.60 again for two). Sipping a superb refreshing Chateau Bauduc rosé (by Gavin Quinney) as I anticipate dinner and maybe a World Cup match (must check what’s on!).

A bientôt!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In the Heart of Graves. A Sweet Surprise.

In the Heart of Graves. A Sweet Surprise.
Day 3 in Arcachon
Dessert at Chez Charlotte:
 an apple roulade, with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce

We had something of a dilemma when we arrived at the Maison des Vins de Graves this afternoon: they hold more than 350 wines of the region which stretches about sixty kilometres (and about 15 wide) from the suburbs of Bordeaux to the villages of Langon, all on the left bank of the Gironde. Didn’t think I was up to tasting all 350.

Luckily, we had a great tasting (of about nine!) and were able to make some choices and, of course, purchases. Back at the ranch now with some red and white and sipping away happily from a bottle of Chateau Magneau rouge 2008.
 
Lillet Distillery in Podensac
While they do hold the reds of Pessac-Leognan, the dessert wines of Barsac and Sauternes are not on show here. But I was surprised that they did have some sweet wines of Graves itself, those blanc moelleux coming under the AOC of Graves Superieures. Tasted some and bought the Tour de Calens, “the exception that proves the rule”. The other Graves dessert wines come from the borders of Narsac and Sauternes and the micro-climate there but Calens is up by Pessac-Leognan.
Wines of Pessac-Leognan

The Maison des Vins is in the town of Podensac and one of our main reasons for visiting was to see the distillery that makes the rather famous local aperitif called Lillet. Unfortunately the public area is undergoing some renovations and not open for about another three weeks or so.

Not a great reward after braving the busy Bordeaux rocade (ring road), a place where you keep your eyes open and your hands and feet at the ready, where drivers make manic moves like the fellow in the artic that swept into our lane this morning and swept back out again, all in the one movement. Phew! But it is something we are getting used and will see more of if we are to see more of the vineyards.


Before the aborted visit to Lillet, we had called to a lovely restaurant in the town called Chez Charlotte where a three course meal cost us €22.00 each. It was quite a good one too and the proprietor had good English and was eager to engage in conversation. He was quite proud of his food, especially the rabbit and pistachio terrine starter, all made in house.

He was also proud of the area, listing the main attractions as Charlotte (big smile!), the Lillet Distillery, The Maison de Vins and the fact that they had a water tower by the famous architect Le Corbusier. You can see the latter from the grounds of La Maison des Vin. In fact, you will see two towers, but the smaller older looking one is the effort by the renowned Le Corbusier.