Sparkling Intro to Le Caveau Tasting
Limerickman Dermot Sugrue was in sparkling form in Cork’s L’Atitude 51 yesterday. And why not? Didn't he have his superb Wiston Estate wines all lined up on the first table of the Le Caveau Trade and Press Tasting.
These English sparkling wines are on a par with the top offerings of Champagne. Indeed, the Wiston Estate Blanc de Blanc NV commands a higher price per glass (and per bottle) than a very well known champagne in the Chiltern Firehouse, an exclusive London restaurant. “It is a great restaurant”, said Dermot. “An old fire station, architecturally impressive, and it's great to in there and poured by the glass!”
This NV, all Chardonnay, has a broad appeal, “a social wine”. It is mainly 2011 but contains twenty per cent of 2010 reserve, which plays a key role in this amazing wine. The grapes come from three different vineyards, all West Sussex, all chalk. The Wiston Estate vintage wines are from single vineyards.
Next up was the “accidental rosé” of 2011. It was the warmest summer for 140 years. “The wine made itself”, said Dermot. ”But what pleases me is the way it has sustained itself since. The 33% of Chardonnay is now growing in influence.” It is a magnificent drink and you are very highly recommended to get your hands on a bottle or two.
And it seems there is more good news to come on the rosé front. There was a great vintage in 2014 and the results to date “are extremely encouraging”.
This pleasant sparkling interlude was finished with a tasting of the Sugrue Pierre 2010, a family effort with even Noodle the dog getting his cartoon on the label. It is made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, matured in old barrels (50%) and stainless steel. Two and a half years on lees, disgorged in 2014 and then two years in the bottle. It is superb, fantastic body and finish. And Dermot put much of it down to the time in bottle, reckoning that many underestimate the importance of time spent under cork.
I had been doing some “homework” in preparation for this tasting and one of the most pleasant parts was the bottle of Cockagee cider I treated myself to. Read all about it here.
At the moment, Cockagee producer Mark Jenkinson has just the one product but he’s working on some new ones. “I have some on lees since 2012 and will be disgorging this year on the way to making a full champagne cider. It will be a few months yet but is tasting very well at the moment.” And he is also working on an ice-cider!
Great to meet up then with Stephane Le May of Chateau Turcaud in Bordeaux. I was in his village two years ago but didn't know about his superb wines then. Now I do and now too I have an invitation to call next time I’m Entre-deux-Mers! His Cuvée Majeure (named after the local abbey) is outstanding and one of the finds of my “homework”. “It is wonderful”, agreed Stephane.”A wonderful freshness. It was a good summer and then we had a great September and that helped a lot.” Turcaud exports about 50% of production, most of it to the East Coast of the US.
Menade’s Nosso Verdejo natural 2014 was another of the highlights of my “homework” and I renewed acquaintance with this beautiful wine thanks to Eleonora Infuso who was at L'Atitude. “It is only our second vintage of this wine. It has been a very big success for us and it is what we want to do.”
She had another pleasant surprise for me: their V3 2012. Some of grapes for this come from their 30 ha of pre-phylloxera vines (over 140 years old!). It is fermented in 500 litre French oak for between 8 and 10 months and then aged 1 to 3 years in bottle. Rich and full and with a very crisp acidity, this is another gem from one of the leading estates in Rueda.
Stayed with the whites when I met Chris Forbes of Taylor’s Port. I do like my Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port and Chris had just the recipe for me. “To make a refreshing and original summer drink, mix one part of Chip Dry white Port with two parts of chilled Tonic water in a tall glass, adding a sprig of mint or a twist of lemon.” Obrigado. Cheers.