Showing posts with label Saint-Emilion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saint-Emilion. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SuperValu Christmas Wines. Six of the Best!


SuperValu Christmas Wines
Six of the Best!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bordeaux vintage of 2005 is legendary and this rich, plummy wine is just gorgeous. Merlot is the main grape here with both Cabernets also in the mix, Franc at 20%, Sauvignon at 10%.

Colour is purple and the aromas are concentrated, ripe dark fruits plus fragrant floral notes. Full bodied for sure, sublime soft fruits with great balance, tannins now very soft indeed and this well-rounded rich and splendid wine provides a beautiful lingering finish. One to take your time with, small sips recommended. The wine itself is Very Highly Recommended.

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

Colour is a medium gold and there are aromas of citrus and white fruits among quite a medley. In the mouth, it is smooth, close to creamy, richly fruited and soft with good acidity too plus a lingering finish. An elegant wine indeed and Very Highly Recommended. Recommended with shell fish, king prawns, lobster, crab or poultry in cream sauce as well as goat’s cheese. 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sipping, almost slipping, in Saint Emilion

Sipping, almost slipping, in Saint Emilion
The hand of man and mammon can seem particularly powerful here. This quote from the World Atlas of Wine refers to Saint Emilion and indeed rings true as you walk around the narrow streets of this much visited historic town, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999.


The little town is a busy commercial spot. Here, in the blink of an eye, a restaurant can fill up with a bus load of tourists and the shiny wine shops invite you in to talk about en primeur. It is not easy to find parking here. You’ll have to queue for the toilet, though I followed the example of the local males and used the open air pissoir (it did have metal wings at the sides to provide decent cover). And you won't get too far without someone offering you a little taste of their famous macaroons.


But even Atlas of Wine authors, Michael Johnson and Jancis Robinson, acknowledge it is not all about mammon. “...the comfort of St-Emilion to the ordinary wine-lover is the number of .. chateaux of moderate fame and consistently high standards which can provide relatively early maturing, utterly enjoyable, reasonably affordable wine”.


Here are three, from that category, that I sipped. And the slipping? Well there was a close call or two on one of the steepish streets. Here the surface consists of big stones, but so well worn and shiny - the Romans were here - that you can find yourself slipping even in dry conditions. So, careful as you reach out for that macaroon sample!



#1 - Chateau Haut Traquart, La Grace Dieu Cuvee Passion, St-Emilion Grand Cru 2010, 13.5%, €28.55
#2 - Chateau Haut Rocher, St-Emilion Grand Cru 2009, 14.5%, €18.35.
#3 - Chateau La Grace Dieu, St-Emilion Grand Cru 2009, 14%, €17.85.

As you probably know, the plump Merlot is the most widely planted variety here and, more often or not, its main partner in the blend is Cabernet Franc (known locally, I’m told, as Bouchet). The pattern is followed in these three: #1 90% M, 10% CF; #2 65% M, 20% CF, 15% Cab Sauv; #3 80% M, 20% CF.

All three have Grand Cru on the label but this doesn't mean a great deal, "rather akin to the difference between basic Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur" according to the Wine Doctor Chris Kissack, a regular commentator on the area. 

Nevertheless, these are three really good wines with #1 having something more. It is warm and smooth, well balanced, good fruit and some pepper notes, barely noticeable tannins and an excellent finish.

#2 also has an excellent “final”, as Sean Kelly might say. Another well balanced wine, a harmonious blend, red and black fruits and again some spice.

#3 is quite lush, those same fruits evident, again some spice, tannins yes but just about in play, and again an excellent finish.

Bought all three at the Maison du Vin in Saint-Emilion itself last month and the prices quoted are those that I paid on the day. If you’d like to try wines from this area - you may not get these three exactly - why not check with the likes of Mitchell & Sons, Terroirs, Honest2Goodness, Wines Direct, Tindal, Karwig, Bubble Brothers, Curious Wines and Le Caveau. For short account of my trip to Saint-Emilion, click here.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Satellite Merlot

Satellite Merlot. Lussac Saint-Emilion
Chateau Haut-Jamard 2011, 12.5%, €8.00.
Chateau Busquet 2008, 13%, €13.35.
Chateau Lucas, Grand Cuvée de Lucas Cuvée Prestige 2010, 14%, €12.35.

You like Merlot in a Bordeaux blend? But how much of it?

If you buy a bottle in Lussac, one of the four satellite towns of St Emilion, you’ll have a choice. Take the three bottles above, for instance. All are from Lussac and all have Merlot but the amount in the blend ranges from 50% in the last to 80% in the first!

Generally you won't know from the bottle. In a conversation with a French wine worker in the Dordogne a few years back, it was suggested that France had lost out in world markets because it didn't have the variety on the label. The man, a Serb who had settled locally, was fed up with such suggestions. “Around here we can use up to 13 varieties. How are we going to get all of them on the label?” A not unreasonable reaction.

But things could be changing. Chateau Lucas had the blend on the label and it was fifty fifty Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Jamard is 80 Merlot, 15 Cab Sauv and 5 Cab Franc while Busquet is 60 Merlot, 30 Cab Franc and 10 Cab Sauv. Quite a difference between the three.

Must say I preferred the Lucas and not just because of its motto: Sans Ceres et Bacchus, Venus est de glace. My translation: Without Ceres (food) and Bacchus (wine), Venus (love) is ice. We need a little of all three. In any event, I would be disposed to a wine in which Merlot and Cab Franc are major constituents.

And some love has already been expended on this wine as it comes with three silver medals to its credit. Harvesting is manual and they've come up with a near perfect blend, full and balanced and generous of flavour, with a lovely long finish.
Who's for the washing up?
The Haut-Jamard is the youngest of the three and quite a pleasant wine. On the palate it is round, tannins present but quite soft and again the finish is long.

All three are aromatic, the Busquet perhaps a bit more pronounced. This is smooth and mildly spicy, really well balanced, the tannins present but almost unnoticeable.

All three were bought last month in the Maison des Vins in St Emilion itself. While the blend info does not generally appear on the bottles, they had mini-info cards mounted alongside each bottle that gave the breakdown and other info such as the appellation and the soil type.

The other three satellites of St Emilion are Montagne, Puisseguin and St Georges. “At their best, the wines from these areas are every bit as good as a Saint-Emilion grand cru. At their worst, they are attenuated and rustic.” I quote from the Wines of Bordeaux by Clive Coates. This was published in 2004.

Rustic is often used when speaking of lesser known appellations, often applied to the likes of Listrac and Moulis as well. But times have changed as Coates noticed in 2004 “the last few years have seen an encouraging increase in quality”.

Indeed, he also had good things to say about the Lucas wines. And the prices are attractive. Three bottles from the satellites cost me €33.70 while three from main AOC came to €64.75, not a very scientific comparison admittedly. But do watch out for quality good value wines from Lussac in places like Mitchell’s, Curious Wines, Tindals and Le Caveau.

* By the way, I have updated the 2014 list of favourite wines here.