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Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Thierry Germain Saumur-Champigny (AC) 2015, 13%, €26.45 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau,
Saumur, on the Loire in Western France, is a great town to visit. Highlights include the medieval fort (Chateau de Saumur), the underground Musée du Champignons, plus wine tours and tastings. Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation for the two named places and six neighbouring villages. The wines are made, almost exclusively, from Cabernet Franc.
Germain is biodynamic and produces Cabernet Franc with purity, finesse and drinkability, wines that feature “generous and ripe darker fruit flavours”. His cellars are in “tuffeau” caves below the winery. Tuffeau is the soft local limestone and you see it in many buildings in the area.
Le Revue des Vins des France gave the domaine its coveted Three Star designation and later made him Winegrower of the Year in 2011.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are fruity aromas, ripe berry mainly, floral notes too. Fruit flavours follow through to the palate, amazingly generous for such a young wine; freshness and purity too plus an excellent finish. Very Highly Recommended.
It is made from the fruit of vines with an average age fo 25 years and harvested to preserve aroma and freshness. It is raised for 3 to 4 months in a combination of stainless steel and foudres (large wooden vats). A good partner with a variety of dishes. Thierry himself recommends ballotine of chicken with cracked black pepper.
Aplanta Alentejano (IG) 2015, 14%, €13.95 Bradley’s Cork
I like this mid to dark ruby Portuguese wine with its dark fruit aromas. Palate has that fruit, cherry prominent, spice too, a hint of vanilla, soft tannins. It is quite plush but good acidity makes for excellent balance. A well made everyday wine that won't be out of place at the weekend! Like many wines from Portugal it over delivers at the price. Quite a lot of character in this refreshing glass and Highly Recommended.
As you might expect it is a blend, produced by Obrigado with grapes from a community vineyard. It is 70% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 30% Alicante (Garnacha). They recommend pairing it with grilled meat (burgers, steaks), charcuterie and “sharp” cheeses!
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Saumur Sunday: Blood on the Sand. Mega Flea Market.
A spectacular jousting contest within the walls of the chateau in Saumur and a massive flea market in another area of the lovely Loire town were our “lucky” highlights today. Lucky, because we didn’t set out to find either. Our “mission” was the Sunday market. We found one but it was miniscule and so we headed up the street to where we’d seen people gather, always a good sign in France.
They were gathering for one of the biggest flea markets (known in France as Brocante) I’ve ever seen here. Everything, it seemed, was on sale, except maybe the kitchen sink. There was also much fun and games around the event including a kind of go-kart racing.
We have been successful at some of these before but this time didn’t buy anything, despite checking out row after row. Did see an attractive looking green Tullamore Dew jug but couldn’t find it at second attempt! Some stalls were obviously professional while others were of the car boot variety. And the customers were of a similar mix.
It was thirsty work in the sunshine (mid 20s) and we headed for the popular bar stand and got a couple of Oranginas (many of you will remember those) for two euro each. Two euro was also the price for a fouée here, ancient French "pocket" bread, typically paired with savoury stuffings such as goat cheese or a pork spread.
|View over the Loire from the chateau.|
I had rillettes in mine while CL enjoyed Apricot jam. Kept us going until we drove to that chateau which had terrific views over the Loire. Here another drink was required and must say I absolutely enjoyed an Iced Tea with Peach.
|The Flea Market (well, part of it!)|
Sipped that while waiting for the joust, the main event. A crazy commentator, dressed for the occasion, kept this show going as the two guys battled each other on horse and off. The good guy won of course. Very enjoyable half hour in the sun.
|Anyone want a Dinky?|
The chateau doesn’t have much by the way of furniture so you need to time your visit to coincide with something like this. It does also have a very good equine museum, at least to my amateur eye. In any event, we enjoyed our trip around the chateau (sometimes you can arrange for a tour in English but the timing didn’t suit us today) and especially the jousting!
|All the action men you could want!|
And, just now, another pleasant surprise. Just opened a bottle of St Nicolas de Bourgueil and it is a gem. Producer is Sylvain Bruneau and it is a 2011 from old vines. Santé!
Sunday, August 25, 2013
From the underground: Death Cap and Sparkling Wines
From the underground: Death Cap and Sparkling Wines
A misty morning led to us going underground for this Sunday afternoon. The Death Cap was one of countless mushrooms seen in the underground Musée du Champignons in St Hilaire-St Florent, just outside Saumur, but the first call was to the premises of BouvetLadubay well known around the world for their quality sparkling wines.
|Disgorgement machines, the more modern ones!|
The visit began with a tour of the underground cellars- it seems virtually every winery hereabouts has conveniently cool cellars adapted from former tuffeau quarries. Temperatures are about 12 degrees, all the time, ideal for wine and mushrooms.
The méthode traditionnelle is used here and we were given examples of the old way of the famous “disgorgement” and the more modern mechanical time-saving method.
|The tasting line-up|
The cellars, in under a local hill, are extensive and impressive and we had glimpses of the lives of the quarry workers and saw how the caverns have been adapted to the wine makers’ use. Bouvet Ladubay, with 460 awards for their wines in the last forty years, is a big name in the world of sparkling wines.
|Death Cap (in a glass case!)|
We were looking forward to our tasting which was carried out above ground. We had four to taste in all, including an unusual red sparkler, and our favourite was the Decanter bronze medal winner Saphir Brut 2011, fruity and fresh with a nice acidity. A few bottles are on their way back to Ireland, maybe! Might have to return to Saumur for more.
|Horse's Mane or Pom Pom growing|
A few miles up the road, we came to the fascinating Mushroom Museum. Not just a museum as the underground caves are used to grown many varieties, including some that, thanks to Ballyhoura Mushrooms, we are familiar with.
|Pink Oysters growing. Get them from Ballyhoura Mushrooms at Farmers Markets|
Enjoyed strolling through the various mushroom beds and reading the info. There is also a massive museum section there with information and representations, in 3B and photograph, of virtually every mushroom in the world.
|More oysters growing, just a different colour|
By the way, the sun did come out after lunch and it turned into quite a pleasant afternoon and evening, the only big cloud in the sky on our drive home from Saumur coming from the towers of the local nuclear station.