Showing posts with label Mary Pawle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Pawle. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Purple Grape, Purple Grace

Purple Grape, Purple Grace
Superb Bergerac Blend

Caro Feely is one of the speakers at the 2017 Ballymaloe LitFest in May. At noon, on the 21st, she will engage in conversation with renowned wine-writer Tomás Clancy, in a presentation entitled “Glass Half Full - The Ups and Downs of Vineyard Life”. See LitFest.ie for tickets (€16.00). Should be a very interesting hour! Below we look at one of her interesting wines. 

Terroir Feely, Grâce 2012, Vin de France, 14%, €25.50 Mary Pawle Wines



Saussignac, well known for its dessert wines, is an area near Bergerac, where Sean and Caro Feely operate, maybe not quite within the rules of the appellation, hence the Vin de France classification for this organic red wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%).


Operating on the edge can be a gamble. “We hold our nerve and wait to hand-pick the grapes for this wine with optimal ripeness. Our patience is rewarded with a rich, elegant and mineral wine, the grace of nature. A living wine, rich and fresh, that offers great depth of dark fruit, a hint of orange peel, spice and mint.” No sulphites have been added to this Very Highly Recommended 2012 edition, of which just 2,650 bottles were produced.

Grace has a purple colour with aromas of dark fruit (mainly plum), mint notes too. It is indeed rich and fresh, and dry, tannins fine-grained and persistent, some spice here too. And yes, that terrific depth of fruit but with a superb balance and then a long and satisfying finalé. A pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.

For a earlier review of La Source, another Feely blend of Cabernet and Merlot but in reverse proportions, check here


Ferraton Les Pichères, Crozes-Hermitage (AC) 2009, 12.5%, €25.75 Mary Pawle Wines

This 100% Syrah is made from organically grown grapes on limestone sub-soil with, on the surface, large pebbles from the River Isère. It spends 8-10 months in barrel, depending on the vintage. Watch out too for the Ferraton Le Reverdy.

The Pichères is a deep ruby, a clean purple on bottom of the cork. There is a complex mix of aromas, including black and red fruits. Spice and pepper are prominent on the palate. It is medium to full bodied, fruity and so well balanced with an excellent finish. A well rounded serene Syrah, impressive overall and Very Highly Recommended.

Did you know, that in winemaking, rainfall is a big factor in the difference between the Northern Rhone where its hits 923mm per annum and the Southern where the average is 677mm? See World Atlas of Wine for more details.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Three Delightful Whites. Chapeau Chaps!

Three Delightful Whites
Chapeaux Chaps!

We have been traveling all over to assemble this top notch trio of white wines for you. Maybe just a trio but they amount to quite an orchestra, maybe even capable of a symphony. The traveling has not been done by me personally but by the folks from Wine Mason, Mary Pawle and Le Caveau. They have bought well. So, let us doff the hats and say Chapeaux to the chaps and chapesses!


Turner Pageot Le Blanc 2015, Languedoc (AOP), 14%, €19.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork.

Colour is a shiny pale gold. The nose, slightly honeyed, is of ripe apricot and exotic fruit. Ripe fruit abounds on the medium-dry palate. This is fruity, rich and round and quite a powerful wine with a long and mineral  finish. Very Highly Recommended.

It is an organic blend of Roussane (80%) and Marsanne (20). Turner Pageot, imported by the Wine Mason, produce a range of “gastronomic wines” and say the striking colourful collage on the label suggests exciting food and wine matches.

And the food and wine pairings they suggest are Fish and crustaceans in sauce; Saint Jacques with black truffle; Pike dumplings Nantua sauce; Noble poultry; White sausage. Old-fashioned veal blanquette. Mushrooms with cream. 

Noble poultry, how are ye! Well, come to think of it, there was some right royal Irish chicken in the Thai Green Curry from Cinnamon Cottage. I tried the wine with that delicious dish and they got on very well together!

Diwald Goldberg Grüner Veltliner, Wagram (Austria) 2013, 12.5%, €20.75 Mary Pawle Wines

The low-yielding vineyard overlooks the Danube and this organic trocken (dry) white wine has spent 8 months on lees. Importer Mary Pawle recommends matching it with scallops. It is often recommended with Asian also. Indeed, Grüner Veltliner is a very good food wine, very versatile, so much so that sommeliers regularly mention it, especially if a small group is hesitating over which wine to order.

This Diwald bottle boasts an attractive light gold colour. You’ll first meet its light fruit (apples, citrus) and white pepper on the nose. A tingly feel introduces it to the palate, that clean fruit fresh is there too, balanced by a lively and lovely acidity. Very Highly Recommended.

Framingham Classic Riesling, Marlborough 2009, 12%, €22.65 Le Caveau
Colour is an inviting rich yellow. Floral and citrus elements in the aromas and a hint of diesel too followed by a mouthful of delicious complex flavours. It is just off-dry with a little sweetness in the mix - think Mosel rather than Rhine.

Texture has been reinforced by some six months spent on lees. Balance comes from the juicy acidity and the finish is long and drying. Overall quite a rich Riesling and a Highly Recommended one.


The diesel is almost always an unwanted distraction for me in New Zealand (and Australian) Rieslings but here it is just about noticeable and hardly at all with food, especially with that delicious Skeaghanore Smoked Duck Breast.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Superb Red and White Double from de Brau

Superb Red and White Double
 from de Brau

The Taris, Gabriel and Wenny, of Chateau de Brau, are too close to the Languedoc ground to get carried way with the romantic cliches that winemakers (and their sellers) use willy nilly. 

They farm in the area of Carcassonne, a town known to Irish holiday makers and rugby followers. It is not sunshine all the way: "Not all vintages are exceptional. There are the weather conditions. And the weeds that we will never overcome. And the little beasts and larger animals who demand their share."

That they share with the little and larger of the local animal world gives you the clue that the work here is more in cooperation with nature than against it. The effort made in the vineyard to obtain healthy and well balanced grapes is thus optimised in the cellar for the vinification and maturing of genuine wines. And it is that effort, and no little skill, that has produced these two beauties. And more.


Domaine de Brau PURE Pinot Noir, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2015, 14%, €16.60 Mary Pawle Wines

This organic wine is part of the winery’s PURE range, started in 2006. Other single varietals include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah along with Viognier, Egiodola, Petit Verdot, and Fer Servadou. Some unusual grapes there!

It has a lovely ruby colour, a degree darker than usual. Aromas are more raspberry than strawberry, herbal hints too. More like cherry on the palate, a full and generous mouthfeel, tannins still in play as this approachable wine, more supple than some Pinot Noirs, moves to a long finalé.  The Languedoc may not be the usual place for Pinot Noir but this is a winner all the way and Very Highly Recommended.

By the way, love the brevity of the winery's summation: griottes, ample, et généreux. 

Domaine de Brau Chardonnay, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2011, 13.5%, €16.50 Mary Pawle Wines


This lightly oaked 100% Chardonnay organic wine has a lovely bright gold colour. The aromas are of white fruit, honey and spice notes too. It is rich and round, with an almost creamy mouthfeel; there are fresh tropical fruit flavours in a beautiful elegant wine with a long dry finish. Surprisingly very good indeed and Very Highly Recommended. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Love Red? Three of the Best.

Sainte Croix Magneric, Corbieres (AC) 2012, 14.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

Fruit, spice, and power feature in this well-balanced blend of Carignan (42%), Grenache (29) and Syrah (29). The vineyard, run by an English couple, Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, has been organic since 2008 and they recommend pairing it with anything from Spiced lamb tagine to Roast venison.

This is a dark, medium to full bodied, wine with ripe dark fruit aromas to match. That fruit, spice too, on the palate, concentrated, with outstanding freshness, tannins soft and ripe and no slacking off in the long aromatic finalé. Power and elegance in the one package and Very Highly Recommended.

We had another beauty from the same vineyard a month or so back. Check out Le Fournas here

Il Grigio da San Felice Gran Selezione Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2013, 13.5%, €34.95 (27.95 in recent sale) O’Brien’s Wines.

Made from “our finest Sangiovese (80%), enriched with other ancient indigenous varieties”, the result is a superbly complex wine of great elegance and concentration. Just 40,000 bottles are produced of this particular wine which has an ageing potential of 15 years. It has been aged for 24 months in mixed oak plus 8 months in bottle. 

Sangiovese, also known as Brunello and Bonarda, is a top red grape in Italy. Tuscany is its home but it is grown all over Italy, also in the US, Australia and Argentina.

Colour is medium red and the aromas feature ripe red fruit (strawberries, cherries). There is terrific concentration in this medium-bodied gem, spice too and a superb acidity to balance and it boasts a long dry and spicy finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Matches suggested are red meat, pasta and pizza. You could also do as I did and try it with cheese. I had Carrigaline, both the original and the smoked, and all got on very well together!

Jerome Quiot Cairanne Côtes du Rhone Villages (AC) 2014, 13.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

The family Quiot began their wine story in the Vaucluse when they acquired a few hectares there in 1748, so the nod to tradition is to be expected. This wine is made from the traditional grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and old vines of Carignan. Old style vinification too in tanks and oak barrels.

Colour is a lovely ruby and there are raspberry and cherry in the aromas. On the palate, it is fruity for sure, spice also, a very good depth of flavour, nicely balanced; the tannins are close to smooth in this medium bodied wine and there is an excellent finish as well. It packs quite a punch for such a smooth wine and is Very Highly Recommended.




That noticeable acidity helps make it a good food wine, lamb, roasted meat and cheeses are recommend by the producers. I found it a terrific match with Moussaka, especially the version made using this recent recipe from Dublin's Tang Restaurant in association with Glenisk - see the details here.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The All Whites. Including a Mendoza Double.

Valle Aldino Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Central Valley (Chile), 13%, €12.70 Karwig Wine


Have you been reading The 24 Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson? At €6.80 (Waterstones), it is well worth getting. 

In a section called Be Adventurous, she lists 15 pairs, one wine The Obvious Choice, the other tagged The Clever Alternative.  In Sauvignon Blanc, the obvious is Marlborough while the alternative is Chile.

The alternative, she says, can “be sometimes cheaper, often more interesting”. This Valle Aldino is certainly cheaper and, while not more interesting than the better Marlboroughs, is a good alternative at a decent price.

Colour is a light straw with tints of green. Fresh and grassy aromas, white fruits there too. Gooseberries and citrus flavours, with strong melon-y notes too, on the zesty palate, plus a decent finish. Recommended.


Mendoza’s Domaine Bousquet
A Blend Double

In 1990, the Bousquet family from Carcassonne in Southern France began to explore wine-making possibilities in Argentina. In 1997, they settled in Tupungato (Mendoza) in one of the highest vineyards in the world.

It is no less than 1,200 meters above sea level. There is a large difference between day and night temperatures. This variation (the thermal amplitude) helps create fully ripened grapes with good acidity. The heat of the day promotes the ripening, the chill of the night preserves acidity. Grapes are hand-picked and the vineyard is certified organic.

Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay - Pinot Gris Reserva 2010 (Tupungato, Mendoza, ARG), 14%, €18.80 Mary Pawle Wines
Colour is a light gold, clean and bright and a ring of bubbles stay around the rim for a while. It is strongly aromatic, some exotic white fruit and floral notes too. Concentrated white fruit flavours announce its arrival on the palate and the acidity ensures a happy balance. It is an elegant style with a dry and pleasing finish. Highly Recommended.

The mix is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. And the Reserve apparently means that the grapes have been picked from the best plots.

Domaine Bousquet Cameleon  Selection Torrontes - Chardonnay 2014 (Tupungato, Mendoza, ARG), 14%, O’Donovan’s Off Licence.

The Cameleon, one of their brands, symbolises the family story of Jean Bousquet, the leaving of France and adapting to the new life in Argentina. Adapted quite well going by this bottle, also Highly Recommended.

The blend here is fifty fifty. Aging is in stainless steel plus four months in bottle. Ideal, they say for seafood, fish dishes and cheeses. I say fine on its own and worth a try too with white meat and Asian dishes.

Colour is a light gold, clean and bright, much like the first bottle above. Aromas are of white fruits, floral notes too. On the palate there are fresh white fruit flavors, some sweet spice, an oily mouthfeel, more body here, that expected acidity and a long, dry and very pleasing finish.

This is what the family wanted from the blend and from their soil. “With its subtle attunement, this Chameleon is a conspicuous presence in a landscape of indistinguishable wine.” Don't know what the neighbours made of that statement!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

O’Donovan’s 14th Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair. Some Superb Spirits too.

O’Donovan’s 14th Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair
Some Superb Spirits too
Mary Pawle

I must say I really enjoyed the variety around the room at the 14th Cork Wine Fair, mounted by O'Donovan Off Licences, in the Clarion last weekend. There were more than a few excellent wines, as you might expect. No shortage of good craft beer and some delightful Irish spirits. Not to mention the local food stalls.

Traffic problems delayed some exhibitors and pundits but Mary Pawle, all the way from Kenmare, was one of the first to set up and my first visit. And her first offering was the biodynamic Dominio e Punctum Viognier 2015. Well balanced, great acidity and she suggests trying it with Asian Cuisine. Should have had toddled over to the Green Saffron stall!

Grüner Veltliner is a favourite of mine and Mary has a good one in the Diwald Grossriedenthaler 2015, dry and rich, with great length.

Time then to touch base with Padraig from Carrigaline Cheese, one of the Cork cheesemakers featured in the Oxford University Press Companion to Cheese, due to be published this Thursday. 

Avril of Rosscarberry Recipes had her problems with the traffic but she arrived with lots of samples, including a new one by son Maurice who has been working on an unsmoked Angus Biltong, a delicious product with lovely texture and flavour. Early days yet but this could be another winner from the Rosscarberry farm.
Padraig from Carrigaline Cheese

Then I got side-tracked by some spirits, including Kalak the Celtic queen of winter. If people tell you that Vodka has no character, then give them a drop of Kalak. “We are very proud of this,” said Damien on the Tindal stand. “Enjoy it in a whiskey glass with a lump of ice. It is made from a single ingredient (malted barley) in a single distillery (West Cork) and only one of six vodkas in the world to be so made and recognised.” It is being sold in all the best places - the Germans love it and is going down well in the US.

Tindal’s were also tasting the Blackwater No 5 Gin. But my eyes were on their Juniper Cask Gin. I remember seeing those small juniper casks before they were filled but had never tasted the result. Damien fixed that. As many of you know by now it is a delight, amazing aromas and flavours.
Damien (Tindal) with two top drops

There were some very enthusiastic people behind the stands. Jamie Winters of Irish Distiller was one and he treated me to a Jameson masterclass that included Blender’s Dog, Cooper’s Croze ad Distiller’s Safe. Each is made by a senior person in Midleton and each has the fingerprint on the bottles. Indeed, I’m told there’s quite keen competition between the three.

My first sip came from the Distiller’s Safe by Head Distiller Brian Nation. His aim was to show the character of the distillate. Despite the wood that follows, the pot still has the first say and it certainly does here in a light and zesty, gentle sophisticated whiskey.

Head Cooper Ger Buckley was on the darker side, revealing the flavour of the wood so skilfully crafted. Not just the flavour. There is more colour here too and a great mix of fruit, spice and oak with a long and pleasant finish.
Three of the best!

That left it up to Head Blender Billy Leighton to bring it all together, the spirit, the oak and time. And he surely got the balance spot-on. Superbly balanced, sweetness and spice. Time and patience pays off for Billy. It is rich and round, the gorgeous fruit slow to fade in the final.

Major enthusiasm too at the Vineyard stand where we got stuck into the Malbecs! It was Argentina all the way and first up was the Pascual Toso 2014, a “sincere” and satisfactory example. But that was soon eclipsed by the Reserva 2014, super ripe with lots of complexity, very very good indeed.

Next thing we knew, our man vanished and returned quickly with another Malbec, this the Luigi Bosca Signature Malbec Reserva 2012. Like all the previous Malbecs this had a lighter colour than you’d normally find in Cahors. It was smooth and silky and with a great finish. “Magic!” according to our man. Magic Malbec indeed. This had come from the Barry & Fitzwilliam display where we’d earlier been sipping beers by Bo Bristle and Mountain Man.
Pat (O'Donovan's)
pouring a sample.

He went missing again and was back in a flash with a sample of the amazing Zenato Ripasso (from the Tindal stand). I’m a Ripasso fan and have tasted quite a few but this Zenato Ripassa della Valpolicella Superiore 2012 is silky smooth, with amazing concentration and a long long finish. “Dangerously easy to drink,” said Damien when we returned to the Tindal stand. Damien is a huge fan of the wine and the man behind it.

And he had a suggestion for the Christmas dinner: the Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2014, full of character and flavour and easily able to stand up to most the variations on the Christmas table. And we finished here with a sip of the Cotes du Rhône Les Deux Cols “Cuvée d’Alize” made by Simon Tyrrell. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, it was made for easy drinking and, with its rich fruit aromas and flavours, it certainly hits the mark.

And we just had to try the Beefsteak Meaty Malbec 2015 at the United Wines stand. Well we were under orders! This vibrant Malbec, spicy and juicy, rich from the oak, is ideal - you’ve guessed it - for juicy steaks. And believe it or not you can join the Beefsteak club  online!

Pat, well known to patrons of O’Donovan’s in Mayfield, is a big red wine man and he showed us two of his favourites. First up was the Famila Castano ‘Hecula’ Monastrell 2014, a Gold Star winner (under €15.00) at the Irish Wine Show. “Deliciously ripe and opulent, a steal” said the judges.

Catalan design
And I was very impressed with the next one: San Alejandro ‘Las Rocas’ Vinas Viejas 2013 from Calatayud. This won the Gold Star for reds priced under €20.00. And speaking of this old vine wine, the judges said: “..blackberry and mocha fruits with a side order of toast!”.

We finished where we started, back with Mary Pawle. We enjoyed the Stellar Running Duck Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa and a young unoaked Rioja Osoti 2015. Osoti by the way means pigeon in Basque so maybe that’s a matching hint. And she also had a young Côtes du Rhone, the Contrefort du Delta 2014, very pleasing aromas and palate, soft and smooth, and described as “a good all rounder”.

All three were very good but my favourite of her reds was the Jean Bousquet Malbec 2015 with its intense aromas and flavours, soft and supple and with excellent length. Malbec again! Looks like it was the number one grape at the Fair, a very enjoyable few hours indeed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Superb Reds. Both French.

Sainte Croix Le Fournas, Corbieres (AC) 2013, 13.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

This purple beauty is a blend of organic fruit: Carignan 50%, Grenache 21%, Syrah 19%, and Mourvèdre 10%, grown near the ruins of a 19th century lime furnace in the Garrigue scrub. Wild yeast and minimal pumping (to keep the fruit quality as intact as possible) are used. Ageing is 100% sur lies in tank for 18 months.

Aromas are of rich red and darker fruits. Superb delicious fruit flavours (including cassis and plum) and impressive concentration on the palate, a fresh acidity, soft tannins and some spice all contribute and what follows is an equally impressive finish. Very Highly Recommended and a wine to try again in a few years time.

They suggest pairing it with the cuisine of the Mediterranean region using tomato-based sauces, olives or wild herbs such as thyme or rosemary. The concentration of fruit and acidity balances rich sauces and particularly ‘red’ poultry/game such as pigeon, duck or guinea fowl.


Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly (AOC) 2014, 12.5%, €21.85 Wines Direct

From the vineyards of the Golden Stones, a village in Beaujolais north of Lyon, comes this wonderful and gorgeous wine. The Côte de Brouilly is one of the ten crus of Beaujolais and, yes, Brun’s Gamay grows on the granite that the grape thrives on. Jean-Paul is in the minority of French winemakers that use natural yeasts.

Colour is an attractive light red with a bunch of red and black berries in the aromas. The palate too is ripe, with a brisk and balancing acidity, lovely and soft and elegant to the end. Wonderful and refined and light on its feet, this cru is Very Highly Recommended.


I’ve been lucky this year to have had enjoyed some lovely Beaujolais and this is another one. I have a small assortment of Riedel glasses but enjoy this and similar wines from the much less expensive Lumen Arc globes that I won in a raffle in L’Atitude 51.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Across Northern Spain. On A Red Wine Trail

Across Northern Spain
On A Red Wine Trail
Checking out the Garnacha in Rioja


Let’s take a trip across the north of the Spain and sip a few red wines. We start in Penedes, near Barcelona on the east coast, in the country of the Catalans, and head west to the Basque country (País Vasco).


Maybe you've been to Barcelona. Sitges perhaps? Then you won't have been very far from the vineyards of Albet i Noya. You’ll no doubt have heard of the bulls running and other crazy goings on in Pamplona. Those of you seeking a something a little quieter may well have headed to Santacara, the location where our Marco Real wine comes from.


And if you’ve made it to that vineyard in Navarra, then head west for about an hour and you’ll arrive at Hacienda Grimon which is pretty close to Logrono, the capital of the political area known as La Rioja. The wine area is simply Rioja. Let’s go. Vamonos (Spanish) or Goazen (Basque). Warning: translations by Google!

Albet i Noya Tempranillo, Penedes (DO) 2014, 13%, €14.50, Mary Pawle Wines

Violet is the colour of this Catalan wine and there are subtle aromas of dark and red berries. It is young and juicy and gorgeous, strawberry and raspberry flavours now, good acidity with fine tannins and a dry finish to enjoy.

In Catalonia, at least on the Spanish side of the mountains, Tempranillo is known as Ull de Llebre. This too is on the bottle along with quite a few other Catalan words! You’ll have no doubts about the place where the Albet i Noya wines are made.

Neither will you have any doubts but that they are passionate about their organic wines; they been a pioneer since 1978. “We never measure the effort according to the difficulty. All that matters is the end result and that will only ever be optimal if the whole process is meticulous from the roots up.”

“We believe in what we do and how we do it.” And, so do I! This is one of their basic wines and is Highly Recommended.

Marco Real Finca Corraliza de los Roncaleses, Navarra (DO), tinto 2014, 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines

Colour of this tinto (red wine) is purple; you’ll note the legs are slow to clear from the glass, a sign that there’s high alcohol here! For the second time, firstly some time back with the 2012 and now with the 2014, I find it hard to agree with the “floral” aromas noted on the label. Seems to me to be more like dark fruit. There you go!

There is quite a body here, fruit and spice plus matching acidity, well-balanced (considering the high ABV), fine tannins and a good long finish. Smooth, elegant and refreshing and Very Highly Recommended. Note the suggested serving temperature below.

Winery info: Wine made with grapes that are hand-picked from the best Garnacha vines, owned by the Belasco Family, at “Corraliza de los Roncaleses” in Santacara. Upon arrival at the winery the grapes are manually selected and then alcoholic fermentation takes place at 23ºC followed by a long maceration of 20 days to endow the wine with optimal finesse and elegance. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 5 months. Recommended serving temperature: between 12 and 14ºC.

Hacienda Grimon Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2013, 13.5%, €17.45 Le Caveau

This wine, produced using organic principles (no herbicide, no pesticide, fertiliser is sheep manure and the fruit is hand-harvested), comes from a little known corner of Rioja Alta. It is a 100% Tempranillo, according to the label (other sources suggest a small proportion of Graciano); it has been aged in French and American oak for 14 months (much longer than the regulation six) and there is a pay-off.

It has quite a dark colour, between violet and purple, with aromas of dark fruit, hints of spice. On the palate, there is an immediate appreciation of the soft attack; the wine is smooth and rich, some pepper, fine tannins; balance is perfect thanks to the fresh acidity and this close to full bodied wine is Highly Recommended.

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.
Venice
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.