Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

72 Tastes of Dingle. Great Choices for €22

72 Tastes of Dingle
Great Choices for 22 Euro

We were sitting (well, standing, no room to sit) in the sunny back-yard of Dick Mack’s Pub in Dingle last weekend, coming to the conclusion that we were attending the best food festival in Ireland. As we finished up and made our way down Green Street, we met different groups of friends, all in town for the festival and all agreeing that it is indeed the best.

The Taste Trail that we, and they, were following is a major plank of Dingle’s success. For €22.50, you can buy a book of trail tickets. Present a ticket at any of 72 participating outlets and you’ll get a taste, two tickets and you’ll get a different offering (maybe better, maybe bigger). The outlets can include restaurants and cafes and pubs, but a music shop, a Surf Shop, an art gallery, may also host a food producer or a wine seller. The choice is huge. And often impressive.

Kick off, on both Saturday and Sunday, is 1.00pm. We weren't going to be in town on Sunday so we were determined to get the best from Saturday and we certainly did well.

Out of the Blue was quite close to our hotel. We had eaten there the night before so knew its quality. Here, for one ticket or two euro, we got a Taste of the Blue, a helping of calamari with an Asian style sauce. We ate on the sunny bench outside and soon headed off towards the next stop.
At Ida's, the two of us with (l-r), Colm & Pascal (both Le Caveau)
and Kevin and David (both Ida's). Selfie by Colm!

Murphy’s Pub was listed at #8 on the list. We joined the long queue and our short wait was rewarded with a Pulled Duck in a mini Pitta Pocket with sweet red cabbage. A delicious combination and plenty of it, again two euro.

We passed stalls selling lager and fresh barbecued Tuna, even (inadvertently, sorry Sam) one selling Cloudberry’s macarons, before landing at The Dolphin Shop. Here Ruggero Sileri was busy serving his Italian Traditional Porchetta - slow-cooked (10hrs) loin of pork, served on bread with a thick layer of caramelised onions. Again a massive and tasty mouthful for the minimum.
Pink Pinot Grigio

We had intended to get to the other side of town and thought we’d better get a move on, skipping excellent offerings from the likes of the Charthouse and Fenton's and the ever popular Bush Tucker Kangaroo Skewer at Dingle Surf.

We were heading for Bacus on Green Street where Gaelic Escargot were selling their snails with a garlic and herb butter and Bacus sourdough to soak up the sauce. Delicious, though I got some curious stares as I poked the snails out of their shells while sitting on the steps of the church.

Nearby the local Fire Brigade were doing a demo, showing just how dangerous a fire in a chip pan can be, often started inadvertently by a man coming home from the pub and then falling asleep. Even if you're fully sober you’ll need all your wits about you to safely put out such a fire. If you come across any such demo in your area, do take the time to observe and learn.

Massive queues, as always, at the Little Cheese Shop, who were offering Raclette, the Swiss dish where the cheese is melted on to bread with a pickle or two on the side. 
A new twist to the old spud!

By now, we were heading down Main Street, leaving behind Spanish Wine and Tapas at the Original Kerry Craft-shop, Kerry organic Rose Veal Kofta at Kennedy’s Bar and Dingle Salted Grass Beef Taco by Dingle Cookery School at the Carol Cronin Gallery.

We kept on going to meet Pascal and Colm from Le Caveau who were doing a wine tasting at Ida’s Restaurant. I'm familiar with a few of the wines but was surprised when Colm poured a sample of what looked like a rosé only to find it was a Pinot Grigio, produced near the Dolomites by Foradori. 

Then he poured some Bravos Volcanico Pais from Chile. You'd be forgiven for expecting something rough and strong. But, no. This was a very pleasant and drinkable red wine, with a low enough ABV of 12.5%.  These two drops alone prove you should never go to a tasting (either food or drink) with your mind made up. Sample it first!

We weren’t finished yet! Nelliefreds on the Spa Road (out towards the brewery) is listed as a garage/bar. It is a venue for music, drink and food. And their offering was an unusual Light Sabre Spud. Explanation: Tornado potatoes/fries are a popular street food in South Korea. Using a special slicer, the potato is spiralled on a stick and then fried until crispy when delicious herbs and spices are added! Keep your mind, and mouth, open!
Danger here!

Back on Main Street again, we called to Pantrí. We bought on the double here, including a lovely Vegetable curry with Rice and Raita. But the favourite was undoubtedly the Maharees Beetroot and Coconut Soup with Chive Cream.

Were we finished? Not quite. Walking down Green Street, we decided we need a drink and joined hundreds in the back-yard of Dick Mack’s. Obviously, many were in and out of the bar but our destination was the small outside bar serving the beers from the newly opened brewery (also on the yard). 

With the sun out, we decided against the excellent stout we had enjoyed the previous night and instead ordered their Session IPA (4.6%) and the Amber Ale (also 4.6). And it was then, as the beers sank down, with the place packed and food being served, that we concluded that this is the best Food Festival in Ireland!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance. Good Clean Wines


Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance
Good Clean Wines.
Left to right at Ely: Francesco, Pascal and Dario

Dario Poddana (Les Caves de Pyrene), Francesco Maule (La Biancara, Gambellara) and Pascal Rossignol (Le Caveau) combined to give us a fascinating insight into organic and natural wines, in particular the wines of the Veneto, at Ely Wine Bar last Tuesday. Francesco is a winemaker at the family vineyard in Gambellara and the other vineyard whose wines came under the spotlight was Azienda Filippo Filippi (Soave).

Some in the audience (trade and press) wanted to know how this type of wine was going down with the customers. Dario, Italian wine buyer with Les Caves, stressed there were no added sulphites and the focus is “on wines of intensity rather than of richness”. On their being cloudy, he said it was no problem to the customers. 

Pascal added that this type of wine seems to have found a natural ally in the chefs that forage and said these restaurants “react well to it”.
Dario

It emerged too that, while mistakes may have been made in the past, maybe concentrating on the vineyard rather than the winery, the objective now is on making good wines that are “clean”.

Dario praised the Maule family and said they were at the forefront of the natural wine movement and not just in Italy. “It is interesting to see how classic ways are being rediscovered, a mix of extreme tradition and extreme modernism." 

Prosecco may be very known as being from the Veneto but Dario emphasised that “it is just one type of expression of the area”. The one we started with, the Casa Belfi, Prosecco Colfondo DOC, has a tiny refreshing fizz, a rich texture from the yeasts and a hint of salt (the vineyard is juts 30km from the sea), all combining to say a very pleasant Ciao.

Francesco was quite proud of his very young La Biancara di Angiolino Maule, ‘Garg’n’Go, Veneto Frizzante IGT, “the only one with biodynamic certification”, and rightly so! 

We were tasting in flights of two and next up was the Filippi Soave Castelcerino 2014, a wine I am happily familiar with, “an incredible wine from a very difficult vintage” according to Pascal. Dario:”It is their normal Soave from a well respected hill for wine. They like long contact with the fine lees, rarely less than 18 months, this to confer richness and structure. Very simple wine-making in general.” Looks like it works.

Francesco too praised it “as a very good result from 2014", before moving on to tell us about his Maule Masieiri Bianco 2015, a blend of 10% Trebbiano and 90% Garganego. Lees too come into play here, the period of six months adds “a  nice richness”. “No filters, no clarifying.” A lovely wine, displaying a generosity of fruit and character.
Ingredients on the label.
"Maybe others will follow."

Francesco went on to introduce us to two of his whites. Both the Sassaia and the Pico Bianco were excellent. Again both had some skin contact and had a rich colour but Francesco came straight out and said that he doesn't love the term “orange”wine. “There are red and white wines and a little rosé, maybe!” 

And, in general, he stressed the importance of having a “very good quality grape”, otherwise there is the risk of extracting “bad things”. “In the glass I want to feel the grape and the soil.”

One of my favourite wines of the past few months has been the Terra di Pietra, Valpolicella “Piccola Peste” and the 2015, introduced by Dario, was next. “Valpolicella is quite diverse and this comes from the land of rocks, a relatively new estate that produces good vintage after good vintage. They make simple easy-drinking reds, the spirit of Valpolicella. The classic varieties, made simply.”

Someone in the audience noted the outstanding purity and Dario was quick to point out that “you lose that purity if you go down the concentration trail” and added that Terra di Pietra “are moving in a beautiful direction”. 

Pascal


Francesco
Francesco’s turn now to show us their “basic red” the Masieiri 2016 (IGT), a blend of Merlot (50%), Grenache (40) and Cabernet sauvignon (10). “It is quite young, the tannins a little aggressive and is not filtered.” I rather enjoyed its fresh fruitiness and hints of spice, the tannins not a problem at all.

Back to Terra di Pietra for the Amarone della Valpolicella “Rosson” 2010, a beautifully coloured wine with excellent acidity. Dario told us it had been made in a quite traditional way, just enough richness and concentration, the final result helped by the addition of some Teroldego (known for its light fresh fruitiness). The fact that it came from a very good vintage also helped! Quite a finalé to an enjoyable and informative afternoon in Ely Place.
The line-ups

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Al Fresco in F-EAST Cork Superb Sage Meal

Al Fresco in F-EAST Cork

Superb Sage Meal
A sharing plate of one of our four starters, Ballycotton Smoked Salmon
Kevin Aherne has some serious form when it comes to an outdoor feast. He has even one or two on board a small boat. Tuesday's outdoor event though was in the much more stable, much more comfortable courtyard at Sage, his Midleton restaurant famous for the #12 mile menu!

Of course, the food would be local and Kevin emphasised the importance of provenance as we sat down to eat at the Long Table. As soon as the starters arrived, the oysters, the salmon, the mackerel, the mussels, we were on a roll and total strangers began to chat and enjoy the occasion and the food. 

It reminded me, to a degree, of the supper that often followed a day's threshing back in the day. But we wouldn't have had wine in those days, mostly bottles of stout and other beers. And, of course, it would have been in an open barn or in the farmyard, not under a heated canopy.
The other starters: oyster, mackerel and mussels

No doubt the forty or so of us gathered for this event, the second of FEAST, the newly rebranded food festival in East Cork, were soon in good form, especially after a glass or two of the lovely organic Cava, the Alta Allela, from a family vineyard close to Barcelona. The La Source blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay, another organic wine, was a delight and it accompanied our starters and the Le Caveau import from the Languedoc was an excellent match indeed.

Kevin, Réidin and their team were now busy, working hard to assemble the food for the mains. But there wasn't a problem (not that we noticed!) and soon the large group were tucking into the local duck and beef with the various sauces and side dishes. An amazing display of just how good local produce is once in the proper hands. Again that velvety wine from Portugal was just the job.

Just like the starters, there were four items for dessert, all delicious. Perhaps the highlight though, certainly for those around me, was the Bó Rua mature cheddar from just out the road. Then again was it the Wilkies 64% chocolate delice served as the memorable feast came to a sweet and appropriate conclusion.

Still time to enjoy a visit to FEAST. This Thursday evening, Ballymaloe is the venue for a Seasonal Cocktail and Feast. Tomorrow, take a trip to Rostellan for chocolate, cheese, shellfish, wines, prosecco, teas and hot chocolate in a historic courtyard. Saturday is the main event with demos and stalls all over Midleton. Highlight may well be the restaurant tent with 11 local restaurants serving small dishes for a fiver (max.) and a long table outside. On Sunday, it will be wind-down time in Sage with a #12 mile BBQ in the Courtyard.

Last Tuesday’s FEAST Menu in Sage:

Local man Kevin.
On arrival: Cava Alta Alella, a Brut Nature (biodynamic)

To Start: Ballycotton hot oysters, breadcrumbs, aged cheddar.
Ballycotton smoked salmon.
Pickled and charred Ballycotton mackerel.
Ballycotton mussels and Jameson cream.


La Source, Pays D’Oc 2016 (Vermentino/Chardonnay.


To Savour: East Ferry roast Aylesbury duck, spiced plum sauce.
Beef sirloin (James Walsh, Buckstown), béarnaise.

Pickled beet salad (Joe Burns, Killeagh)
Cauliflower gratin (Joe Burns, Killeagh)
Last of new the new potatoes with gremolata (Staffords, Roche's Point).

Beyra, Douro 2015; Alfrocheiro/Jaen/Tempranillo/Touriga Nacional

To Finish:  Toasted mallow and lemon verbena posset, wild strawberries.
Wilkies 64% organic chocolate delice.
Soft Ardsallagh goats cheese, elderberries.
Bo Rua cheddar, Terry’s honey crackers.

Highbank Orchard organic proper dessert cider.

Posset
See other posts from FEAST 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Grand Sparkler and a Little Scamp!

A Grand Sparkler and a Little Scamp!
Meyer-Fonné Crémant d’Alsace (AOC) Brut Extra NV, 12%, €26.85, Le Caveau
Crémant is the term for any French sparkling wine produced by the méthode traditionnelle, outside of the Champagne region. Subject to similar rigid guidelines, Crémant d’Alsace is produced at the highest level of quality, but available at a fraction of the cost. The Alsace version scores well on quality and price and Crémant d’Alsace is a top-seller in France.

This blend, imported by Le Caveau, uses Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. It is champagne in everything but name and price. These organic bubbles will grace any celebration, from a wedding to the sun coming out in these parts.
Dry and tangy and then a wave of ripe apple flavours that goes all the way to a tingling finish. This is a serious and distinguished wine, with appealing aromatics, well balanced with lip smacking acidity. This won't let you or your guests down and is Very Highly Recommended.
Terra di Pietra Piccola Peste Valpolicella (DOC) 2015, 12%, €18.95 Le Caveau
Here, technology has little influence: “..what’s needed are hands, nose, heart and passion, every day.” Farming is organic, conversion started in 2011. The blend is mainly Corvina and Corvinone, with some Rondinella and Molinara. The label is drawn by the children of wine-maker Laura Albertini, a young mother who tragically died earlier this year.
The colour is a pale to medium ruby. Fairly straight-forward cherry aromas. Straight-up cherry too on the palate, nice acidity to balance. And, a tip from the importers: “..despite being light-bodied, when aerated for a while, this shows surprising depth.” Yes indeed. And a decent finish too. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three Handsome Reds! One in a Litre Bottle.

Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild

This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.

This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.

Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.

Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines

Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.

Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau

No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.

The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. A Short List Of Favourites!



Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. 
A Short List Of Favourites!

With a little help from the recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine, we have been tasting our way through quite a few wines from the peninsula and its islands. Such a range of terroirs, such a range of wines from the cool foothills of the Alps to the heat of Puglia out to the hot islands with their cooling breezes. You won't find the very expensive classics here but I think the selection below contains some excellent wines at reasonable prices. And they all are readily available in Ireland. Just click on the links for review, supplier and price details and don't forget to come back here. Enjoy.


Red
Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015
Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012
La Vigne di Sammarco Salice Salentino (DOP) 2014
La Vigne di Sammarco Primitivo di Manduria (DOP) 2015
Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012
Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG)
Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013
Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009

Orange
La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011


White
Pighin Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli (DOC) 2015
Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013
Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%
Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015
Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015
Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015
Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012

Dessert
Masi Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (DOC) 2012

Context: The Modern History of Italian Wine

 See the posts from the Italian series:

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Italian Wines from the Alps. From the west to the east

Italian Wines from the Alps
From the west to the east
Dolomites

Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012, 13%, €31.25 Le Caveau

Petite Arvine, better known over the mountains in Switzerland (in the Valais), is “an indigenous variety” in the Valle D’Aosta, with “soaring aromatics and rich sweet fruit” according to Robert Parker, Wine Advocate. 

Proprietor Constantino Charrère is the driving force in the region, “seeking out native grape varieties” for the wonderful wines of Les Crêtes, according to Le Caveau.

His work in this mountain area is the subject of an appreciation piece in The Modern History of Italian Wines and they list him as an influential figure right from the 1990s when Les Crêtes was founded.

As you may guess from the languages in the wine description, Valle D’Aosta grows a mix of of Italian, French and Swiss varieties. Surprisingly, the wine that brought Les Crêtes to international notice was their Cuvée Bois, a Chardonnay!

While wine has been produced here from at least Roman times, not much ever got out of Italy and Val D’Aosta has been designated “the forgotten corner” in Vino Italiano.

From the vineyard, one can see the high peaks of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and Gran Paradiso. Well known ski resorts, including Courmayeur and Cervinia, dot the landscape. Here, in the valley, Petite Arvine makes “a light, flinty wine with hints of grapefruit and mandarin orange”.

Colour is a rather rich straw. The aromas are an intense melange of white fruit, honey and floral elements. It is very pleasing on the palate, rich white fruit flavours, citrus too, and a long drying, almost flinty finish. A gem from the ancient valley and Very Highly Recommended.

Weingut Niklas Südtiroler Lagrein (DOP) 2012, 13%, €19.75 Le Caveau

Grapes and Wine describes the Lagrein grape as an interesting mouth-filling variety and it is grown here in the north-east of Italy and over the border in Austria in the Tyrol. If you’re on a tourist coach crossing from Austria to Italy, the guide will take some pleasure in pointing out how neat and tidy the Austrian part of the Tyrol is by comparison with the Italian bit.

That bit, also known as the Alto Adige, became Italian in 1918 as part of the settlement after World War 1 and, as you can see by the wine bottle, it is still a mix of cultures and languages. 

It is entirely located within the Alps and the craggy peaks of the Dolomites dominate in the east. Nowadays, thanks to the efforts north and south of the border, with no little help from the EU, this area is very prosperous.

This particular wine from Niklas Erhof is 100% Lagrein and has spent 10 months ageing in big oak barrels. It is perfect with game, beef and similar. We had it with new season lamb from Eoin O’Mahony butchers in the English Market and it was perfect.


It has a deep dark colour and you’ll more than likely note cherry and plum in the aromas. Dark fruit too on the velvety palate, a hint of spice also, not very tannic at all and indeed it is a surprisingly easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.


See also (from current Italian series):

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

I think we’ve all been confused at one time or another by Montepulciano on an Italian wine bottle. It is the name of a grape and of a town in Italy. According to Wine-Searcher.com the grape was named after the town and was once widely grown there.

Nowadays, the grape has found another home in Abruzzo, hence Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy (Wikipedia). 

Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast. The local wine industry, according to Vino Italiano, is dominated by giant cooperatives of which Cantina Tollo (below) is one example.

Now let us return to the city of Montepulciano. This is in Tuscany, in the province of Sienna, and is one of the most attractive hill towns in the area.

The main grape grown here is Sangiovese (blood of Jove or blood of St Giovani or maybe something else entirely!). Only the very best grapes are used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The others are used for Rosso di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile has the big reputation but the simpler Rosso is no mean wine either as our example indicates.

Other grapes grown here, according to Vino Italiano, are Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache). No mention of the Montepulciano on that list, so you are highly unlikely to see a Montepulciano di Montepulciano. Let me know if you do!

Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015, 13%, €14.45 Le Caveau


This organic wine has quite a few admirers and I'm among them. Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, the importers: “The Bio wines are a great find. The wines are literally singing in the glass with their exuberant fruit and juicy flavours”. The winery itself says they are bursting with primary red fruit.

The fruit is hand-harvested and the wine is neither “fined nor filtered”. Colour is an attractive ruby. Aromas are mainly of red berried fruits. It is fruity and juicy and easy drinking. Lots of lovely fruit flavours, nothing extreme, mild tannins, well balanced and with good acidity. Class finish too, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended.

Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012, 14%, €17.45 Le Caveau

The Innocenti estate lies between Montefollonico, a walled city in Tuscany, and Montepulciano, just a short drive between them. This is a blend of Sangiovese (mainly), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo and has spent six months in oak.


Colour is bright, and light, ruby. Generous aromas of stewed plums and a touch of heavier gamey notes. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, really well balanced. Fine tannins noticeable on a long and dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting Cork, featuring The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting

The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat
Pascal with Michael Creedon (right) of Bradley's Off Licence
Nicolas Donne of
Guy Allion
“This is what Le Caveau is about,” said Pascal Rossignol as he surveyed the scene in St Peter’s Church in the early stages of the Cork tasting of his 2017 portfolio last Thursday. And he had much to be pleased about as the visiting growers and Pascal’s staff displayed some 145 wines, all sustainable low intervention, many fully organic and some natural, for the tasting.

And if the tasting in general spoke of Le Caveau, then one wine in particular hinted at where M. Rossignol might be taking us in the future. And that was the Anne and J.F. Ganevat Vin de France Rouge called Madelon. 

Pascal was enthusiastic about this amazing blend. And no wonder! The mix of 50% Gamay from Morgon and 50% of Ganevat’s own field grapes (ancient varieties here are lost in one another) is amazing, yet so focussed, with a dry finish. This superb wine, which has spent ten months in foudre (large wooden vat) is produced outside the appellation rules, hence the Vin de France on the label and hence no vintage mentioned (not allowed!).

Formidable!
While the Madelon is made with his sister Anne, the other wine on show, Cotes du Jura blanc “Sous La Roche”, is produced by Jean-Francois himself. All his wines are made in very limited quantities, so are hard to get and so full praise to Le Caveau for giving us the opportunity to taste this gem with a finish that rolls on and on.

Great to have the chance too to chat to Bertrand Ambroise and his delicious Burgundy wines. We started with a Chardonnay, named after his grand-daughter, the Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This is a really round wine with balancing acidity. The Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2013 was another splendid Chardonnay (one of nine that they produce), apricot to the fore with no shortage of minerality.

Also got to taste three of his thirteen Pinot Noir, starting with the 2013 Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This has been aged in old barrels - he didn't want oak influence here. A gorgeous well-priced wine.
Bertrand Ambroise (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau
Then I enjoyed a sip of the Cotes de Nuits Villages. “Very interesting to drink now but it will last fifteen years,” said Bertrand. “It is 40% new oak, no fining, no filter and we are using less and less sulphides.” Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family. The final treat at this table was the Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’. This is faultless with an astounding finalé.

Guy Allion (Loire Valley) was represented by Nicolas Donne and I enjoyed their Touraine Sauvignon Blanc ‘Haut Perron’, very expressive and very fresh (the harvest is “early nighttime” to enhance those very qualities). 

Nicolas also had an unlisted addition, the 100% Sauvignon Chenonceau 2015. 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”.

Chaume-Arnaud are pretty well known for their lovely Rhone reds but it was a white that caught my tastebuds: the 2015 blend Côtes du Rhône, very complex with excellent mouthfeel and excellent acidity as well. Thibaud Chaume explained that 2015 was “a bit hot..but this fruit is grown on top of a hill where it is fresh, also cool at night” and these factors all helped.

And he also had another off catalogue wine, “perfect for barbecue”, the 2015 Marselan, “well structured and great with food”.

Tour des Gendres are well represented on the Le Caveau catalogue and, once Guillaume de Conti began to speak, I could see why. You might think the basic entry wine might not get that much attention but Guillaume said that is the one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, so it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this certainly is, six months on lees also helps. A very reasonably priced wine too.
Lovely to meet up again with Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa (left). Her orange wine, the fantastic Ageno, has just been named as the number one natural wine in the world in the May issue of Decanter. 
Another Italian wine-maker that caught my attention was Ampeleia. Giulia Zanellati showed me three very interesting reds indeed, including the Un Litro Di Ampeleia, a blend of four varieties. It comes in a one litre bottle that is proving very popular in Italian restaurants. Giulia made me rather jealous as she described their vineyards which are near the sea. “It is a beautiful place to work, all the different levels where the views, the trees, the animals, all change as you go up or down. 
The 2016 Alicante Nero, Costa Toscana IGT, is 100 per cent from a single vineyard, at 400 metres with clay and rock dominating, another delicious fresh wine. And freshness too in the 2013 flagship, the Ampelia Costa Toscana IGT, a blend of Cabernet Franc (80%) and Sangiovese. The Cabernet Franc - they use it a fair bit - is noted as adding freshness and obviously enjoys the terroir here.


Le Caveau were also showing a large range of house wines, very acceptable house wines I hasten to add. One that I really like is the Petit Verdot, Haut Medians, Robert Vic and also the Madrigale in both red and white. And Charles Rossignol introduced me to more excellent house whites in St Peter’s (pictured right) . Perhaps the one I liked best was the Ciello Bianco Catarratto (Terre Siciliane IGT). This is certified organic and unfiltered and is refreshing and grippy, great with food I'd say.



All in all, quite a tasting. I didn’t get to taste all 145 but the name that stood out was that of Ganevat. The maestro from the Jura has three pages to himself in the 2017 Le Caveau catalogue but beware that quantities available “are very small and can only be managed via allocation”. He is, after all, one of the royalty of natural wine!


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