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They came. They saw. They conquered. They, collectively the Frogs Attack, being two pioneering natural winemakers (Jean Foillard and Thierry Puzelat), a guerrilla chef (Antony Cointre) and a comedian (Sebastien Barrier) and they cornered their willing victims in a packed Latitude 51.
Cork’s leading wine bar was the ideal venue for the French influenced evening. Beverley and her staff caught the informal spirit of the occasion perfectly and we wined and dined, and laughed a lot too.
Hard to keep up with Sebastien as he roamed between the two floors. He even wandered outside at one stage, startling the customers by banging on the window and, with his phone, taking photos of the surprised faces. We were wondering was the ebullient funny man in trouble a few minutes later when a couple of cops appeared at the door but nothing to do with Sebastien!
May I introduce Jean Foillard to you, via Le Caveau catalogue: A vigneron like Jean Foillard doesn’t come around too often. Jean Foillard and his wife Agnès started their handkerchief-size domain in Morgon in the 1980’s when the majority of appellation, driven by big negoces, were (and are still) producing industrial wines. Undeterred by their surroundings, Jean and Agnès decided to embark on their own path. They returned to honest vine growing and wine making the way their grandparents did. The vines are grown organically. The same attention is paid in their cellar. There are no additives in the cellar to hide shortcuts in the vineyards because there are no shortcuts in the vineyards. The hand-harvested grapes are fermented using natural yeasts only.
Cooking done and Le Gros relaxes
And, quoting from the same source, Thierry Puzelat: Having met and worked with Francois Dutheil (Bandol) and Marcel Lapierre (Morgon), two pioneers of the ‘natural’ wine movement, Thierry decided he too, wanted to make his wines as naturally as possible. Puzelat’s wines are quite unique, they are highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have very strong personality.
Le Caveau borrowed, as we do here, this quote from Jamie Goode: ‘Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat—brothers—are natural wine royalty. They are making some of the Loire’s most interesting wines and are at the heart of the natural wine movement.’
Behind the counter: Jules and Beverley
And the wines really are superb. The night’s list: Thierry’s Clos du Tue Boeuf, blanc and rouge, and the three Morgons from Jean, all 2016, including his “Cote du Py” and the “Corcelette”. And to make things even better, they were available at shop (rather than restaurant) prices. A nice touch that!
According to his website, Antony Cointre, aka Le Gros, is not an ordinary chef, he is an enthusiastic cook. He does not have a permanent restaurant because he likes to change atmosphere and to touch lots of different audiences. …. making tasting meals in 10 steps at home for 6 or popular banquets of 650 people or even weddings in unlikely conditions.
And Le Gros, in the tiny kitchen, came up with some tasty dishes at L’Atitude. They included a Feta and Kumquat starter, then a Monkfish carpaccio with Harissa sauce, three French cheeses with date, and dessert of chocolate and, believe or not, rhubarb.
Sebastien attacks the window!
In between the six courses, Sebastian kept us entertained and joined up with some Irish friends to play some tunes. And all the time, we were sipping and enjoying those natural wines, the real stars of the show!
I’ll finish with a message to the frogs: Please attack us again, soon!
Maule Family "at Forefront of Natural Wine Movement"
La Biancara was born in the end of 80s, when pizza makers Angiolino and Rosamaria Maule bought a small plot of land, about six hectares, in the hills of Gambellara. Since the beginning, they work to develop their personal idea of wine; a wine created by the exaltation of nature, without chemicals interferences in wineyard or in cellar, in order to obtain the highest expression of terroir in every bottle.
No chemicals? How can this be done? Here’s one way. In La Biancara, there are 14 specimens of mites predators every 10 cm of shoot. Read more here.
Last September, at a Veneto Masterclass in Dublin, Dario Poddana (Les Caves de Pyrene) 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."
Pascal of Le Caveau (who import the Maule wines to Ireland) said 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”.
And, in general, Francesco Maule, the son of the founders, stressed the importance of having a “very good quality grape”, otherwise there is the risk of extracting “bad things”. In the cellar, “nothing is added, nothing is removed”.
La Biancara is in Gambellara. Vino Italiano, which praises the vineyard (as does the World Atlas of Wine), says it could be argued that the (white) wines are purer expressions of Garganega than those of neighbouring Soave. Garganega is thought by some to be related to the Greco (another Mediterranean grape that I favour) of southern Italy.
So here I am in deep Winter with a couple of bottles of Maule, starting with the white. Garganega is the grape from which Soave is made and here it accounts for 90% of the blend that also includes Trebbiano. The vines grow in volcanic soil. Both wines are unfiltered and no sulphites are added.
It has a strawy colour, slightly clouded. It is dry, fresh and is smooth and dewy on the palate. The year 2016 was a very hot one and the fruit benefited. The finish is lengthy with no shortage of minerality. Very Highly Recommended.
The family produce, also from the Garganega, a frizzante and a recioto. Le Caveau list the former but, sadly, not the latter!
In Dublin, Francesco called this their “basic red”. It is a blend of Merlot (50%), Tai Rosso (40) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10), again from the hot 2016 vintage. Tai Rosso is more or less the same grape as Grenache.
This deep ruby wine has ripe red fruit and hints of spice in the aromas. It is fresh with red fruit on the palate and that spice too. Francesco described the tannins as “a little aggressive” but, by Christmas, they have calmed down! Quality on the palate and on the finish as well. Really well-balanced and Very Highly Recommended.