Showing posts with label Malbec. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malbec. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Three Rivers. Three Reds. Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.

Three Rivers. Three Reds
Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.
The arena in Arles
Vines need water and no surprise then that so many of the world's best known vineyards are planted on the banks of rivers. You’re all familiar with the spectacular pictures from the Douro and the Rhine, both World Heritage sites. Two of the rivers below, the Rhône and the Dordogne, will be well known to you. I suspect that not may be the case with the Piava.

The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France where it splits into two near Arles - its delta encloses much of the Camargue - before entering the sea. It is 812 kilometres long.
Monbazillac, one of the sweet wine areas on the Dordogne.
The Dordogne is a river in south-central and south-west France. The river and its watershed was designated Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2012. It flows generally west about 500 kilometres through the Limousin and Périgord regions before flowing into the Gironde, its common estuary with the Garonne in Bordeaux. It flows through many vineyards, including those of Bergerac and Bordeaux, and there is much to see in terms of history (e.g. Castelnaud) and prehistory (Lascaux for example) in the area.
The Piave is the baby of these three. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. There is a cow's milk cheese with the same name and the river is known too for the Battle of the Piave (1918), the decisive battle of World War I on the Italian Front.
The Rhone
Pierre Amadieu Côtes du Rhone (AOC) Grande Réserve 2011, 14%, €16.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licences

This well balanced wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a violet colour, the legs slow to clear. Blackberry and plum more than red berries feature on a somewhat muted nose, hints of clove too. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy, tannins are silky, acidity not too obvious, but it is well balanced overall, a powerful palate but not short on finesse and with a very pleasing finish.

The grapes are grown different soils, clay and limestone for the Grenache, pebbles and gravel for the Syrah. The fruit used is a “very careful selection”. Harvesting is manual and the wine is matured for six months in oak barrels. A good result! Very Highly Recommended.

The Dordogne
Feely La Source Vin de France 2011, 13%, €23.50 Mary Pawle Wines

Saussignac, like neighbouring Monbazillac, is perhaps best known as an area that produces sweet wines. And it is here that Sean and Carlo Feely produce organic wines that are not sweet! Their vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Hand-crafted from old vines, this wine is aged gently for 18 months in French oak barrels. It is handpicked, basket pressed, with indigenous yeasts; it is unfined and unfiltered.

Colour is a deep purple. Plum is prominent in the aromas. Quite a depth of flavour (including plum), nice bit of spice too, concentrated and well balanced and the finish is good too. This 2011 blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet and is Highly Recommended.

The Feely suggests an Irish (Wine-Geese) connection to this Bergerac vineyard and there is. Read about it here. By the way, if you are in the area, why not visit Chateau Feely; it is just 75 minutes from Bordeaux and 15 from Bergerac. If you can't make it to Saussignac, maybe you'd like a little share in the vineyard? Details here.

The Piave
Conte Loredan Gasparini Malbec Colli Trevigiani (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

Colour here is a fairly intense violet and red fruits feature in the aromas. Rich flavours on the palate plus a good input of spice, excellent acidity too. Tannins are fine. Very smooth and approachable and then a good long finish. Very good indeed and Highly Recommended.

While this particular wine is labelled IGT, the winery has been cultivating Malbec for the past fifty years as part of their DOC Venegazzu. They say it is ideal as an aperitif (I can vouch for that!), with fried food and red meat.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cahors and its Marvellous Malbec. And an Argentinian Gem

Cahors and its Marvellous Malbec
And an Argentinian Gem
A meander of the Lot
This little piece was originally intended to put the spotlight on the under-rated Malbecs of Cahors (France), often regarded as the home of the grape. I had picked up two excellent examples, one organic, in Bradley’s, North Main Street. And then along came the outstanding Bousquet (also organic), from Argentina, where Malbec has found a new and very agreeable home. To read more about Cahors, check out this article in

Cahors was famous for its “black wines” even before Bordeaux became established as a producing area. It has had its problems, including phylloxera in 1883-1885. There was a rebirth for Malbec with the founding of the Parnac Coop in 1947. But trouble again in February 1956 when frosts wiped out almost all the vineyards of the region, which thus needed to be replanted en masse. In this replanting, Malbec became more dominant than it had been before. Cahors was awarded AOC status in 1971. Most of the vineyards are planted close to the River Lot as it winds its way west.

While Argentina led the major Malbec breakthrough in the United States, Cahors also made big strides there, once the Americans were informed that it was Malbec in the bottle! Quality Malbec too as you can see from the two below. Next time, you see Cahors on the label, have confidence!
Domaine Bousquet Malbec Reserve 2012 (Tupungato Valley, Mendoza, Argentina), 14.5%, €18.80 Mary Pawle

Colour here is a deep violet, close to black and there are intense jammy dark fruits on the nose. The palate is full of flavour, dark fruits, even a hint of coffee, very intense, strong but not at all heavy, excellent acidity and amazing length. A more mature number than either of the Cahors and Very Highly Recommended.

The blend here is Malbec (85%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5), Merlot (5) and Syrah (5). Aged in French Oak for 10 months. They say it is ideal with red meats,sauces, cheeses and pasta dishes.
Got lost up in this area, even the Sat Nav got confused!
Chateau Leret Malbec Reserve 2012 (Cahors, France), 14.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s Offlicence

This is a favourite in Bradley’s, a rich wine, intense, tannic, with great mouthfeel. Merlot and Tannat figure in the blend (up to 20% between the two possible). A wine to keep and when opened to enjoy “with game and complex dishes”.

This has a ruby red robe (well supported - love those Google translations!).The mix in the aromas is of black and mainly red fruits, jammy. There is a lovely balance of juicy fruit (some spice) and good acidity, fine tannins are gentle in the mix, and it all ends in long dry finish. Highly Recommended.
In 1947, a few growers founded this cooperative in Parnac. Their goal was to revive the Malbec , the grape of Cahors. They succeeded and were still going strong a few years back when I called.
Chateau du Cedre 2012 (Cahors, France), 13%, €18.95 Bradley’s Offlicence, Le Caveau

Another excellent wine from the land of the Lot. The blend here is Malbec (90%), Tannat (5) and Merlot (5). It has spent 22 months in a mixture of Troncais oak (⅓ rd new) and the winery is certified organic by Ecocert. Would you like to see what the certificate looks like? Check here.

This purple wine has aromas of dark fruits, some savoury notes too in there. Dark fruit too on the palate, ripe, rich and rounded, yet this medium-bodied wine, thanks to a lively acidity, has a youthful engaging aspect. Highly Recommended.

By the way, if you've bought a lot of this, don’t worry. Stored correctly (at 10/15 degrees and with an air moisture of at least 70%), the winemaker will “guarantee the quality of this cuvée for the next ten years”. Just saying.
Still lost

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Malbec Quartet. Wines of Mendoza

The Malbec Quartet
Wines of Mendoza

The leading soloist in this Malbec Quarter is the Llama but the four are all worth noting and one can see why the US has taken to Malbec in a big way. Each of the quartet is from Argentina and each is from Karwig Wines.

And as we post this, there is a sadness that Joe Karwig will no longer be around his Carrigaline shop to guide us on our wine adventures across the vinous globe of his packed shelves. May the good and generous man rest in peace.
Finca Ocho Siete Ocho Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13%, €14.65 Karwig Wines

Finca 878’s vino tinto is, they say, “intended for young consumers, who like enjoying good wines.” I say: “Why should the young have all the fun?” These wines are “fresh, fruity, easy drinking.” And I enjoyed their Malbec/Merlot blend a few weeks back.

Colour of this Malbec solo is cherry red with a healthy shine. Jammy red fruits on the nose and same red fruits too on a smooth palate, a little spice too, tannins also play on the lips, then a good dry finish. “Easy-drinking” may be under-rating it a little. Highly Recommended.
Belasco de Baquedano Llama Malbec (old Vine) 2013, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €17.50 (now reduced to 14.00) Karwig Wines

This has intense aromas of ripe red fruit and announces its arrival on the palate with fruit, spice and tannin. Easy to welcome this rather smooth wine, a worthy guest that makes a lasting impression. Elegant and well balanced, it is Very Highly Recommended.

The winery focuses exclusively on Malbec, according to the Wines of South America and “lies in Mendoza’s finest vineyard zone”. Its “Swinto” Malbec makes the book’s Top Ten. Must look out for that!
Moncagua Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.95 Karwig Wines
Colour is ruby and bright and aromas are intensely fruity. Outstanding ripe reds on the palate too, very fruity, juicy and a little spice too, a perfect balance between fruit and structure. A second glass wine for sure and Highly Recommended.

The vines are raised in the foothills of the Andes at some 1020 metres, under the shadow of Monte Aconcagua (you can see where they got the name for the wine), the highest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres.
Finca Pasión Mi Amor Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines

Made from hand-harvested fruit, this friendly Malbec is Highly Recommended. Ruby is the colour and the aromas are of dark fruit, plum and cherry prominent. These dark fruits are in evidence on the palate also, now with a good wash of spice, fine tannins too in this well balanced and pleasant wine.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In Argentina. Malbec Reigns In The High Vineyards.

In Argentina. Malbec Reigns

In The High Vineyards.

Argentina, the world’s fifth biggest wine producer (World Atlas of Wine) and well known for its high altitude vineyards (the highest in Salta at over 2,700m), took its time before making its mark on the world stage. Quality, as it is so often, was the key to the breakthrough in recent decades and their Malbec gained a huge reputation in the USA. Not too hard though to find Argentine wine here and I came across quite a good selection locally.

Argentinians are very proud of their Bonarda and, with close to 45,000 acres of it, it is second only to Malbec (76,000). In the whites, Torrontes is their signature grape with some 26,000 acres. Chardonnay, on 16,000 acres, is the most popular of the European whites grown here.

As a matter of interest, there is also a La Rioja in Argentina. It is in the foothills of the Andes located at 1,700m above sea level and is the oldest wine region in the country.
Bodegas Salentein, Portillo Malbec 2013, Mendoza, 14%, €11.99 Bradley’s Off-Licence

Fruit and freshness in a delightful bottle from Mendoza’s Uco valley. Open the screw cap and, as you pour, you’’ll notice a purplelish colour. Aromas are of dark fruit, especially plum. Its impressive flavour and rich softness on the palate make this a welcome addition to the table (especially if you have grilled meats) and, at this price, it will also find a welcome in your wallet.

The Uco valley is named on the label but the estates are high up, located between 1050 and 1700 metres, the winery itself is in the foothills of the Andes. Dutch owned Salentein is noted for its Malbec and this well balanced effort is Highly Recommended.

Bodegas Salentein, Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Mendoza, 12.5%, €11.99 Bradley’s Off Licence

This excellent Sauvignon blanc is also called Portillo, after a pass in the Andes that is a gateway into the high altitude Salentein vineyards. It is a 5,000 acre estate with 1124 acres of vines. While Torrontes is by far the most widely grown white grape in the country, the Uco Valley is highly rated for Sauvignon blanc and producers Fournier and Salentein are noted as two to check in Evan Goldstein’s Wines of South America.

Colour is a light gold with tints of green. White fruits abound in the aromas and on the palate. It is fresh and crisp, very approachable with a decent finish and Recommended.

Las Moras Reserva Malbec 2013 (San Juan, Argentina), 14%, €13.50 Karwig Wines

Speaking of their reservas, Las Moras say: “This is where we get serious.” The wine has been aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Big aromas of ripe fruit greet you as you sniff this. Smooth and fruity, with very good aftertaste, illustrates why Malbec, from Argentina mainly, has taken the US by storm. This is an excellent one to get us into the game and not a very expensive one either. It has an elegant balance between fruit and wood and is Very Highly Recommended.

San Juan, La Rioja and Mendoza are all areas in the the wine region of Cuyo, a region that produces ninety per cent of Argentinian wine. Here, Las Moras are highly regarded producers. This Malbec is a gem but their Black Label Syrah is stellar according to The Wines of South America. They also produce the well oaked Dadá that was quite a hit at the Our Table event in Cork a few weeks back.

La Puerta Reserva Malbec 2010 (Famatina Valley, Argentina), 14%, €17.99 Bubble Brothers

The Famatina Valley is in La Rioja, the vineyard at a height of about 1,000m. Thirty per cent is aged in oak for 6 months and then blended with the 70% that has been raised in stainless steel “achieving greater balance between the oak and the fruit”.

This intense red coloured wine has aromas of ripe fruit, hints too of smoke. It is another excellent Malbec, smooth with rich plum flavours and a long lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Valla de la Puerta, an estate of some 750 acres, produces premium grape varieties and, according to the Wines of South America, is also well known for turning out some of Argentina's finest olives, peaches and plums.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Argentina Scores with Reds. And Whites.

Argentina Scores with Reds. And Whites.
Mascota Malbec And Beef Wellington Hit The Spot At Cornstore Wine Event
Matias, introduced by Mags O'Connor (Cornstore)
The Cornstore is renowned for its aged steak, Argentina’s Mascota Vineyards for their Malbec. Put the two together and you are on a winner. That happened in Cork’s Cornstore last Monday night and it was the highlight of a lovely wine evening with El Esteco’s Matias Ferraro our knowledgeable and humorous host.

Matias took us through a series of excellent wines from two vineyards, the whites from Amaru High, the reds from Mascota, all imported by Cork company Classic Drinks who also helped the evening run smoothly.

As we started off with some gorgeous tapas from the Cornstore kitchen, we were introduced to the Amaru High Torrontes 2013. The vineyard, believe it or not, is situated at 1700 metres and higher. “The height and coolness leads to a thicker skin, more concentration. Light yellow, it is a little spicy but with good balance,” said Matias.

The Torrontes is regarded as Argentina’s national grape and I'm surprised it is not better known here. Perhaps with Matias and Classic Drinks promoting it, we’ll see more of this gorgeous wine with its beautiful fresh flavours and balancing acidity. If Albarino can make the breakthrough here, Torrontes must have as good a chance.
Now we dropped down to the Finca La Mascota, a vineyard near Mendoza, the town where Scotland beat Holland in the 1978 World Cup. Matias may have been down following the recent World Cup final loss to Germany but this Buenos Aires resident has Boca Juniors to cheer on in the weeks ahead.

He cheered us all up on Monday when he introduced the Opi Cabernet Sauvignon. Opi Sadler is the winemaker; delays in his journey meant he didn't make the Cornstore but Matias went solo and was in top form. As was this excellent wine, full bodied and full too of dark fruit with a long finish. Superb with some of the tapas, particularly the Beef Carpaccio.

And then it was on to the Beef Wellington, with twice cooked Roast Potatoes and Caramelised Root Vegetables and a Bordelaise Sauce. What a dish! What a wine! The La Mascota Malbec 2012 is a gem, beautiful aromas, vibrantly fruity, smooth and easy drinking and with a long lazy finish. It takes two to tango and this beef and this wine were the perfect pair.

Beef Welllington.
The Menu
Amaru High Vineyards Torrontes Rosé 2014

Parma Ham and Toonsbridge Mozzarella Roulade.
Beef Carpaccio en Croute with Truffle Oil & Parmesan Cheese.
Smoked Salmon Rillette with pickled Cucumber.
Wild Mushroom Risotto beignets with Celeriac Purée.

Amara High Vineyards Torrontes 2013.
Opi Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.


Classic Beef Wellington, with twice cooked Roast Potatoes and Caramelised Root Vegetables and a Bordelaise Sauce.

La Mascota Malbec 2012.


Poached Rhubarb and Strawberry in Rose Jelly with Blood Orange Sorbet.

Santa Ana Sparkling Wine Malbec Rosé.

Yours Truly and Matias.