L’Atitude 51: Rivers of Wine

L’Atitude 51: Rivers of Wine
Fun on the Loire last September.
I'm on the skis, just out of pic!

L’Atitude 51 is perhaps the best known destination wine-bar in Cork City; owners Beverly and Emma have an extensive collection of wines available, some “fifty of them by the glass’.

How best to navigate them? Why not take a river trip, I think to myself. Might not get to them all but it sure will help illustrate the variety and quality available. The round trip, confined to Europe this tour, from Number One Union Quay, takes a few enjoyable hours. Why not join me? By the way, we are drinking the 75ml tasting glass, just to make sure we stay onboard and between the banks.

True colours.
The GV (left) and the 2007 Riesling
Coing St Fiacre (Chardonnay), 2012, Loire, France

First stop was the Loire Valley, familiar since last summer’s holidays. But we didn't come across this one or indeed any other local Chardonnay. This was a very pleasant surprise indeed, an excellent Chardonnay and a great alternative to Chablis.

St Fiacre was active first in Kilkenny and then in France in the 7th century. A renowned gardener, he was reputedly skilled with herbs and may have been, I’m told, one of the first Irish Wine Geese.

Villa Huesgen By The Glass Riesling, 2012, Mosel, Germany.

Over the border then to the banks of the Mosel, a tributary of the Rhine. Huesgen have been making wine for centuries but they class this as “a modern Riesling”. Certainly it had good fruit, was very well balanced and could be described as easy drinking. Both it and Chardonnay come under the Crisp with Attitude listing here.
Danube vineyards
Erbeldinger Riesling Spatlese, 2007, Rhine, Germany

Two thousand and seven was apparently a very good year for spätleses and this one certainly benefitted. This was full of flavour (not to mention colour), rich and with some sweetness but really well balanced. A superb wine, the best of the whites that we tasted.
Spätlese - Literally translated as “late picking” refers here to the Riesling grapes that are picked late during the harvest season.

Sepp (Gruner Veltliner), 2011, Kremstal, Austria

I’m a fan of the Austrian grape Gruner Veltliner and this effort did not disappoint. The maker “strives for the maximum of balance and elegance in his wines” and he got it right here. Dry and crisp, on the palate it is fresh and fruity, rich with flavour and full bodied, with a hint of spice and a good dry finish. A visit to the Danube wouldn't be complete without a glass or two. On one occasion, I was served with mugs of it (two or three glasses worth) in one of the heuriger in the Vienna Woods. It was a good night.
GV by the mug!

L’O de Domaine du Joncier (Grenache), 2011, Cotes du Rhone, France

Leaving the Danube behind, we headed west again to start our reds with a visit to the mighty Rhone. First stop is close to the town of Tavel, the rosé capital of France, but we were in search of a good Cotes du Rhone and this organically produced wine sure fits the bill. Hints of spice on the nose and on the palate, well balanced and very drinkable, nice fruit and excellent finish. Fruity with Attitude is the official L’Atitude grouping for this one.

Chateau Ste Marie (Merlot, Cabernet Franc), 2011, Bordeaux, France.
Lots of choice in the Bordeaux region and we stopped at Ste Marie, situated in Entre deux Mers, about halfway between the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers. And it was well worth the visit.
With a deep crimson color and generous fruit aromas, this blend of Merlot (mainly) and Cabernet Franc is an excellent drop. The smoothness of the Merlot and the freshness of the Cabernet, helped by 12 months in French oak barrels,  makes for a smashing combination on the palate. L’Atitude say Smooth and Intense!

First class travel on the Rhone.

Simone Joseph (Syrah), 2009, Rhone VDP, France
Our second stop on the Rhone was under the steeply sided vineyards to the south of Lyon, on the eastern side of the river, where this Syrah comes from. This is a pretty typical example of a Northern Rhone Syrah and that means its pretty good. It is quite intense, spicy for sure, but there is no shortage of juicy fruit, and a good long finish.

Barros 10 years old Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal.
Next port of call was in the beautiful Douro valley of Portugal. We were looking for a sweet finish to our wine voyage and certainly found it in this bottle. CL said she could smell it all night but she went straight ahead and drank it instead, declaring it the “best of the night”.

A sip could last you forever (not really) but this is sensational, sweet and warm, unforgettable. Barros has been an outstanding brand in the Port WIne history, since its foundation in 1913, and these are their more considered notes. Dense nose of dried fruit aromas, The soft and silky texture and the subtle nuances of wood are balanced by a fresh acidity and impetus tannic which culminates with a long and elegant finish.

Not exactly first class on the Rhone
Soon we were back on the banks of the Lee wishing that its northern slopes, which we could see from our L’Atitude window, were covered in vines and I was contemplating trying Chateau de Montenotte, Domaine du Tivoli, La Tour de Farther Matthew. Maybe all that after global warming!

The Dordogne, after a summer thunderstorm
In the meantime, if you want to try some really good wines, make a beeline for L'Atitude. And remember, they don't just do wines. You’ll find some great beers there as well. And food, from morning pastries to more substantial fare as the day goes on. Music also on occasions. Stay up to date by following their Facebook page here .