Tuesday, April 5, 2022

A Bordeaux "Super Sleeper" and a Relatively Unknown from Umbria

A Bordeaux "Super Sleeper" and a Relatively Unknown from Umbria

Le Doyenné 1er Côtes de Bordeaux AC 2011, 13.5% 

€19.00 (was 25.45) 64 Wine DublinBradley’s of CorkGreenman DublinLe Caveau Kilkenny

Colour of this Bordeaux blend is a mid-ruby with a noticeably lighter rim. Tears are slow enough to clear. Red and black cherries lead the aromatics and there is some spice there also. And that fruit and mild spice also mingle elegantly on the palate, a smooth a palate as you are likely to come across. Really well balanced. Lovely finish with a little grip. Very Highly Recommended.

The blend is headed by Merlot (at 70%) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc making up the remainder. Château Le Doyenné results from mature parcels of vines. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 18 months.

Records dating as far back as 1791 mention the existence of Château Le Doyenné which was purchased in 1994 by Jean and Marie-Dominique Watrin. With “flying-winemaker” Michel Rolland acting as consultant, they undertook a complete reconstruction of the vineyard and renovation of the winery. The 13 hectares of the estate, located on the right bank of the Garonne, 15 km from Bordeaux, are in the heart of the “Premières Côtes de Bordeaux” appellation.

The 2011 Le Doyenné is not the first to attract attention. The Wine Advocate - Robert Parker checked out the 2005 and wrote:  A super sleeper of the vintage like its predecessors, the 2005 Le Doyenné is well-made..... Blend of 70% merlot and 30% cabernet sauvignon cabernet franc, it exhalts sexy aromatics, superb fruit, medium-body, velvety tannin, loads of glycerin and elevated alcohol 13+%. Available for a song, this lovely offering should drink well for 5-6 years.

Much the same can be confidently said of the 2011.


Tenuta Bellafonte Sperella Montefalco Bianco (DOC) 2019 12.5% 

€19.95   64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Sperella is produced with the grapes of the younger vineyards of Tenuta Bellafonte. The free-run must is fermented spontaneously at controlled temperature, the wine matures for about 5 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks. Once bottled it refines in bottle for some months before being released during the spring after the harvest. It is vinified from indigenous yeasts and bottled without filtration

Colour is a strong straw. Lime and Bergamot feature in the aromatics. Citrus notes continue on the palate, pineapple too; it is intensely fresh and full of supple character with a backbone of minerality. Impressive body too. Highly Recommended.

It comes from the small area of Montefalco, part of Umbria perhaps best known for its tannic red Sagrantino.

The vineyard expands on it: “The area of Montefalco, and more generally the Umbria region, can boast a deep-rooted tradition not only for reds but also for white wines. Particularly fresh wines, intriguing for their structure and surprising with the evolution. These wines, thanks to a particular gastronomic vocation, has always been side by side, to the typical reds of the territory.”

As the area has only come to any kind of international prominence in recent decades, many will not have heard of it, or of its Sagrantino and certainly not of its Spoletino grapes from which this white is produced. Sometimes you will see Trebbiano Spoletino  (as you do on this label) but the addition of Trebbiano is not helpful as it is a name shared between quite a few different Italian grape varieties (some of which are not even related)..

The owner Peter Heilbron is a relative newcomer. About 15 years ago, he was the busy MD of Heineken Italy. Then he and his wife Sabina purchased this wonderful 40-ha property and set aside 11 hectares for the vineyard (the rest of the land is dedicated to woodland, orchards and olive trees).

Heilbron designed his winery, completed in 2010, building it into the clay and marl hillside with subterranean porous walls made from gabions, steel baskets filled with stones. The winery is energy independent, using solar panels for electricity and generating heat and hot water by burning vine cuttings in a biomass boiler.

This should be a versatile wine at the table. Mussels and fries, Scallops and black-pudding, white meats such as chicken or pork (and probably a few red meats as well), along with vegetable dishes and mushrooms, may be essayed.

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