Hitting the spot with Gamay and Garnatxa. Two gorgeous reds for your short-list!

Hitting the spot with Gamay and Garnatxa. Two gorgeous reds for your short-list!

Bonne Tonne Cuvée Cléa Régnié (AC) 2019, 13.5%,

Look out for this in restaurants. If you find it in retail (Mary Pawle Wines), expect to pay €34 to 35.

From a small Beaujolais estate, Domaine de la Bonne Tonne, comes this lovely light ruby wine.  Gentle aromas of berries welcome you to the glass, invite you to sip. And you know you’ll have fruit-driven flavours (strawberries, raspberries mostly)  and balancing acidity to enjoy all the way to a soft and sweet spice finish. Another excellent Beaujolais, full of finesse and gently expressive fruit and Very Highly Recommended, from a family winery that I’ve come to admire over the past few years.

They  (Anne-Laure and Thomas) say this wine, “is a bit special for us because it bears the first name of our daughter ‘Cléa’ born in 2017.” Thomas likes to say that it matches his daughter’s personality, which is “full of character.”

No added sulfites or inputs! It is a 100% natural cuvée, 100% Gamay. It is produced in small quantities, hence its name “micro-cuvée”. This cuvée gives a structured wine, with spices and character. However, this spicy side does not dominate and yields to much more subtle and silky aromas.

There are ten crus in Beaujolais: Chiroubles, Saint Amour, Fleurie, Régnié (the most recently created cru), Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. It is mostly a red wine area and Gamay is the top red grape. Just two per cent of the harvest is white, mostly Chardonnay, and quite a lot of that, especially in Northern Beaujolais, is sold under the better-known Macon appellation according to Jean Bourjade (Cork 2016), then MD Inter Beaujolais.

Domaine de la Bonne Tonne is a small Beaujolais estate and perhaps best known for their superb wines from the famous Morgan cru, including Les Charmes, Grand Cras and Côte du Py, all three available via Mary Pawle and all three Very Highly Recommended on this blog.

The Gamay grape produces wine that “pairs with all manner of dishes..” According to Wine Folly. Outside of France, “Gamay has a tiny but devoted following.” Happy to be included in the tiny fan base.


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Dit Celler Selenita Garnatxa Negra (DO Monsant) 2019, 14.5% ABV. 

RRP  about €17.20. The Dairy Toon's Bridge/ Olive Branch, Clonakilty / Mary Pawle Wines

Montsant in Catalonia in the northeast of Spain and is more or less next door to the much better known Priorat. The two produce broadly similar wines but Montsant’s are sold at lower prices. 

Montsant is a relatively new DO (established formally in 2001) and takes its name from a rocky massif that wraps itself around Priorat. Its vineyards, planted on limestone, are situated in picturesque hilly countryside, scattered amongst rocky peaks, woods, almond trees and olive groves. No shortage of diversity here.

Importer Mary Pawle says if you are fond of the robust wines of Priorat “then this Montsant from the opposite valley should please. A powerful wine made from Garnacha, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Firm tannins and well suited to hard sheep’s cheese or ref meat dishes.”

You’ll know straightaway from the slow-clearing legs or tears on the walls of your glass that this is a high alcoholic wine. Colour is a dark ruby.  Intense dark fruit aromas (plum, cherry, cassis), toasty notes too. Powerful yet velvety on the palate, elegant, deeply flavoured and tannins by now well-integrated (you’ll get a soft reminder on the lips), smooth spice, and the long finish echoes the palate. A big hug of a wine and Very Highly Recommended.

The producer: Vibrant and complex, this wine is made with grapes from very old vines, and aged in French oak for 18 months. ….the "Marinada", the cold wind that enters the mountains in the afternoon from the Mediterranean Sea, give the wines a special freshness, characteristic of this area.

Are you a Selenita? Now that we know about Montsant, how about the name of the wine? The Selenita are the inhabitants of the moon and the producers infer that some of their night-time magic has been bottled. You too are free to use your imagination! While we’re on it, the winery is named after its founders Dani Sánchez (from Azul y Garanza in Navarra) and Toni Coca, so D and T (DiT).

To mark World Grenache day in September, Decanter Online published a list of 18 top scoring examples to try. No less than fourteen of them were from Spain! Details here


Best Value Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists.