Showing posts with label Beaujolais. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beaujolais. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

"Why don’t we see more Chardonnays from Beaujolais?" Dominique Morel Beaujolais-Villages Blanc.

Dominique Morel Beaujolais-Villages Blanc (AC) Chardonnay 2022, 12.5% ABV, 

RRP €23.95. Stockists: The Cinnamon Cottage; JJ O’Driscoll Superstore Ballinlough; Higgins Off Licence;

"Why don’t we see more Chardonnays from Beaujolais?"

The colour of this Beaujolais Chardonnay is a lovely mid-gold, pristine in the glass. The vibrant aromatics feature blossom and citrus. On the palate, it is sprightly and crisp, light and fresh, nicely acidic. 

This fresh unoaked beauty is a wine with much to offer, including an elegant finish. With good fruit and acidity and moderate alcohol, it is quite versatile at the table, well endowed with the potential to feature as a terrific house wine in a restaurant.

One of the best Chardonnays around and Very Highly Recommended.

So why don’t we see more Chardonnays from Beaujolais? Mainly because the growers concentrate on the Gamay grape whose red wines are so much sought after. 

At the same time, there is a fair bit of Chardonnay grown here. Indeed, Jean Bourjade, then MD Inter Beaujolais, told a Cork audience in 2016 that as the Macon overlaps Beaujolais, many white wines made in northern Beaujolais are sold under the better-known Mâcon appellation.” Just to underline the point, Mâcon is less than a 25 minute drive from Émeringes where Morel ia based.

Ten years ago Christine and Dominique started on the adventure of exploring the possibilities of white in a region that is devoted to red. Importers Liberty tell us that the Blanc is made from Chardonnay planted on granitic-clay soil, producing a wine with distinct freshness and excellent fruit concentration. 

The grapes are gently pressed and fermented in stainless-steel tanks, to preserve delicate fruit aromas. All work in the vineyard, including harvesting, is done by hand. The vines are an average of 15 years old. The resulting wine then undergoes lees-ageing for four to five months, lending texture and roundness to balance its vibrant acidity.

Morel’s Recommended pairings: Avocados stuffed with prawns, scallops, fish and chicken vol au vents, fish mousse, frogs’ legs, mixed salads, button mushrooms in cream, andouillette with white wine, veal curry, chicken curry. As an aperitif with appetisers. Serve at 10 degrees.

Monday, October 2, 2023

‘Natural and unpretentious’. This beautiful Beaujolais is just like winemaker Karim Vionnet!

‘Natural and unpretentious’. This beautiful Beaujolais is just like winemaker Karim Vionnet!

Vionnet “Du Beur Dans Les Pinards” Beaujolais Villages (AC) 2020, 14% ABV, 

RRP €24.95. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

The fruit for Du Beur dans les Pinards comes from a parcel which belonged to the late Jules Chauvet and the cheeky label is a Michel Tolmer /  Philippe Quesnot creation. 

“Who is Jules Chauvet?”

Chauvet was a Beaujolais wine dealer, winemaker, and wine scientist, who throughout the 1980s mentored the Morgon vigneron Marcel Lapierre and his collaborator Jacques Néauport, prefiguring many of today’s ideas about natural wine. 

From the 1980s, other natural wine heroes such as Breton, Lapierre, Foillard and Thevenet emerged. Our winemaker here Karim Vionnet learned from them and especially from Breton with whom he worked. And he learned well. 

Very Highly Recommended.

I didn’t have to get it into the glass to get the amazing aromatics. They can't wait to meet you and make a merry dancing impression immediately the cork is removed. The colour is a little darker than normal though not around the rim. The juicy red berry character continues on its merry light-footed delicious way across the palate before a long and refreshing Beaujolais finish.

Karim Vionnet started his own production in 2000. He farms his parcels without chemicals and makes his wines without additives and jokes that he makes wines that look like him: ‘Natural and unpretentious’

He certainly learned well from Breton and company and fully deserves a bit of butter on his spinach (Du beur means a North African and there is a bit of wordplay going on with beurre the French for butter and Vionnet’s first name). Must get Pascal at le Caveau to explain it better when next we meet.

Karim’s parcels are located in the villages of Quincié, Beaujeu and Lantignié, on very varied types of soil, ranging from marls, schists, granite and sand. Since 2020, his daughter Noemie has joined the estate, and proud dad Karim hasn’t stopped smiling since. Thanks to Le Caveau for much of this info!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

La Cuvée Du Chat Is A Super Beaujolais. "Top notch Beaujolais at its most gluggable"

 La Cuvée Du Chat

 Is A Super Beaujolais

JC Chanudet La Cuvée Du Chat, Vin Du France, 2020, 12%, 

€28.95 Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

"Top notch Beaujolais at its most gluggable"

There is a perceived wisdom that it is good idea to rub a furry animal a day, that owning a pet reduces your risk of heart disease. You may not be able to get your hands on a cat or a dog that quickly - you may not want to -  but this gorgeous wine with its smooth silky mouthfeel could well have an even better outcome for you!

Baudelaire’s cat, the one in the poem, may well have had  “un dangereux parfum” but, while nasally and orally tempting, Chanudet’s La Cuvée du Chat has nothing of menace about it at all. Jean-Claude and Marie Lapierre are highly regarded in organic and natural wine circles (if not necessarily in the wine administration circles) and this bottle shows exactly why.

One word you don’t see on the label is Beaujolais even though this 100% Gamay comes mainly from a cru area. Vin de France indeed! Some table wine for 29 euro, this super Beaujolais.

Colour is the typical light ruby. Pleasant, even modest, aromas of cherry and raspberry. But, like the cat of the poem, it does have something of a sexy backbone. Life in the old cat yet, the fruit harvested from vines of 80 years of age.

Superb soft and deep flavours, nice acidity too and a persistent finish. Eminently digestible, easy drinking, full of palatable pleasure and Very Highly Recommended. 

Sediment noted by the way, so might be worthwhile decanting as young wines often are. As it turned out, the sediment was practically negligible.

The label illustration by Maurice Sinet (died 2016, aged 87) always brings a smile. He was better known as Siné and was a columnist for Charlie Hebdo

The beautiful Gamay grapes from these venerable vines are handpicked in October, after which carbonic maceration with natural yeasts occurs in an enamel tank with some pumping over to stimulate activity. The wine is then moved to foudres to rest on lees before finally being bottled with minimal SO2.

Importers Le Caveau continue: After all of that effort we end up with a super supple and velvety wine on the palate with juicy fresh red berry, cherry and blackberry dancing on the tongue. Top-notch Beaujolais at it's most gluggable.

And why no Beaujolais on the label. Because the winemaker Chanudet, like his late father-in-law, has never bothered to obtain “biologique” certification, even though he operates his vineyard organically. He has said that it is not up to the organic winemakers to write “Organic wine” on their labels, but rather to the others to indicate “Chemically-produced wine.”

Monday, April 24, 2023

A Champion Morgon By Chamonard. Opening "always a precious moment"

Champion Morgon By Chamonard

Chamonard Morgon Le Clos de la Lys (AC) 2017, 13%, 

€27.95 Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork 

Domaine Chamonard is a small winery located in the heart of Beaujolais. It produces organic and natural wines from the vineyards it cultivates in Villié-Morgon. I first came across this one at the Le Caveau Portfolio tasting in early 2020. If I had to pick one from the lot that day,  this would have been it!

It comes in the expected pale colour. Aromas are both floral and fruity (raspberry, plum) and a little earthy. It ambushes you on the palate, so rich and intense, the flavours of one of the most fruity of wines and the characteristic acidity going toe to toe and a pleasing balance emerges and the velvety wine heads to a refreshing and lasting finish.

Enjoyed it three years ago and happy to have it now. No dinner this evening (had a big lunch earlier) but the Chamonard is going down well with a simple (lazy!) supper of cheddar and sourdough (from Vinilo of Lismore).

Wine Folly says Gamay is often compared with Pinot Noir (they are related!). “Gamay wines are loved for their delicate floral aromas, subtle earthy notes, and surprising ability to pair with food (even fish!). The best part is, you can find high quality Gamay at a much better price than Pinot Noir.” In the book, they underline its versatility at the table with suggested pairings from “sweet and sour salmon to beef stroganoff or even sesame tempeh”.

Very Highly Recommended.

The Gamay grape, outlawed by Royal decree in 1395  for being “a very bad and disloyal plant”, is now one of the most respected, at least when grown in the Beaujolais region. Morgan is one of ten cru areas here and one of the better known ones. The full list is Chiroubles, Saint Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.

Importers Le Caveau are big fans of Chamonard: “Opening a bottle of Morgon from Domaine Chamonard is always a precious moment…. From 4 hectares of vines averaging 60 years old, mainly from the best parcels ……..the grapes are hand-harvested in late - October to maximize ripeness and in order to make an intensive selection of only the best fruit. The results of all of this effort is in the bottle, you just need to pull the cork to see for yourself.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Beaujolais and Vouvray from Barton & Guestier

Beaujolais and Vouvray by Barton & Guestier

The company’s founder Thomas Barton left his native Ireland in the beginning of the 18th century and emigrated to Bordeaux when he was 30 years old. A true adventurer, he founded his wine shipping company in 1725. In 1802 Hugh Barton, his grandson and successor, teamed up with Daniel Guestier, a French trader to create Barton & Guestier, which is today the oldest wine merchant established in Bordeaux. With over three centuries of experience in the wine business, Barton & Guestier is the 1st French brand name known to millions of consumers worldwide.

From the Chartrons area in the center of Bordeaux, barrels and bottles were loaded on board of ships that sailed via the Garonne river to numerous countries, starting with Ireland, England, Holland and the USA to reach over 130 countries at present.

B&G releases wines from across France, produced in partnership with almost 150 winegrowers. It operates on a négociant basis and wines are made at various locations, and are overseen by B&G winemakers. They are very much hands on with their partner winemakers. B&G winemakers monitor all the steps of the process including pruning, harvesting, vinification, ageing, blending and bottling. Of course it has its own vineyards and makes its own wines, most notably at headquarters Chateau Magnol.

Geek Bits

Export to 130 countries;

Bottles exported annually: 16m

Over 150 partner winemakers;

Wines from 23 appellations;

From 20 grape types.

Barton & Guestier “Grand Bouquet” Gamay Beaujolais Villages (AC) 2020,

€16.95 (Findlaters are the importers, the wines are widely available including at Bradleys)

Colour of this Beaujolais Villages from Barton & Gustier is a mid ruby. Aromas are of ripe red fruit (cherry, wild strawberry) with hints of spice and violet in the background. It is also true to type on the palate, juicy and well structured, excellent acidity, those fruits flavours again, and a long finish with liquorice notes. Highly Recommended.

Serve at between 14 and 16 degrees and you’ll find it very versatile. The label recommends pairing with cold meats, grilled poultry and cheese, the winery goes for salads, cold meats, grilled poultry. Fine with steak too by the way. Wine Folly has “all manner of dishes from sweet and sour salmon to beef stroganoff or even sesame tempeh”, on its list.

Beaujolais is just south of Burgundy and the Gamay grape grows well on its decomposing pink granite soils. The crus share most of the granite and their wines (eg Morgan, Fleurie, Saint Amour) are normally best but Beaujolais Villages is often of a very good standard, as you may taste from this one. The fruit for our bottle is from Northern part of the Beaujolais region between Villefranche and Mâcon (about 35 minutes by car), more or less exactly where the crus are.

Barton & Guestier Les Petites Parcelles Vouvray (AC) 2019, 12%, 

€16.95 (Findlaters are the importers, the wines are widely available including at Bradleys)

Very light and bright yellow is the colour of this Vouvray; it is, of course, 100% Chenin Blanc. Delicate aromas of pear and apple as well as even more delicate floral notes. The palate, with fruity flavour (quince and pear), starts a little on the sweet side before finishing closer to dry and reasonably long. A refreshing wine and Highly Recommended.

The makers suggest it as an aperitif and pairing it with smoked fish, Asian dishes, creamy cheeses,  at a temperature between 8 and 10 C. By the way, Wine Folly endorse the Asian tip saying “you cannot failing pairing Chenin Blanc with Thai or Vietnamese cuisine”.

A vineyard in Vouvray (Clos d'Epinay)

The fruit comes from small plots (the parcelles of the name) located on the hillsides and plateau overlooking the Loire, long known as the royal river as the valley (and its chateaus) was a favourite of the royal family.

Quite a lot of Chenin Blanc its grown in Northern France (from Vouvray to Saumur) but South Africa (in Stellenbosch and Paarl) grows more than any other country with the French second and the USA third.


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Frédéric Berne's Superb Beaujolais From Lantignié

Frédéric Berne's Superb Beaujolais From Lantignié


Frédéric Berne Beaujolais Lantignié 'Granit Rose' 2019, 13% 

RRP €23.99 Barnhill Stores, Ely Wine Store, Redmonds of Ranelagh, Station to Station Wine, The Corkscrew, Townhouse Doneraile, Cork,

This Lantignié ‘Granit Rose’ is a blend of different parcels grown on granite soil in Lantignié, close to the crus of Régnié and Chiroubles. Made in a fresh, vibrant style, with 100% whole-bunch fermentation in stainless steel tanks, it has an exuberant red fruit character with fine tannins from the granite.

It is a bright red in colour. Red berries and floral notes in the aromas. The purity and elegance influence from the granite is immediately obvious on the palate, floral at first, then an exuberant fruit flavour take centre-stage, the balance provided by an equally exuberant acidity and fine tannins.  The fruity finish to this distinctive Beaujolais lingers pleasantly. You can taste why wine-maker Frédéric says that Lantignié has the potential to become the eleventh cru of Beaujolais. 

This Lantignié may not (yet) be regarded as a Beaujolais classic but it is highly sophisticated and I’m more than happy to include it in the Very Highly Recommended listings.

Importers Liberty tell us  that Frédéric finally set up on his own vineyard in 2013. Inspired by the diversity of the granite soils in Lantignié (close to Régnié and Chiroubles), Frédéric established himself in the grounds of Château de Vergers, in the heart of the village. Firmly committed to highlighting what he calls “the many faces of Gamay” in his wines, Frédéric also strongly believes that Lantignié has the potential to become the eleventh cru of Beaujolais.

This vintage worked out pretty well on the phenomenal terroirs of Lantignié, rich in pink granite and blue stones. Frost in spring reduced yields in Beaujolais, as did hailstorms. However, hot weather followed and lasted throughout the summer. Rain towards the end of August prevented the vines from suffering from hydric stress after this long dry spell and allowed the grapes to reach perfect ripeness in excellent conditions. The fruit showed excellent concentration and quality.

A selection of different coloured rocks from Beaujolais.

Frédéric Berne Beaujolais Lantignié 'Pierre Bleu' 2019, 14%

RRP €23.99, World Wide Wines

From the Eastern side of Lantignié, where the soils are predominantly clay on a base of blue stones, like Juliénas or the Côte de Py in Morgon, this Beaujolais wine is elegant and fragrant, with notes of blackberry and cherry compote.

It is a somewhat deeper red than you’d expect, close to purple. And yes you do get the berry and cherry compote aromas that they mention. In the mouth you’ll note subtle and ample tannins and minerality. Perhaps the most striking element on the silky palate is the generous acidity that balances the fruit flavours. Another terrific and characterful Beaujolais from Frédéric Berne and Very Highly Recommended.

All the grapes were hand harvested. Whole bunches were placed in stainless steel vats and underwent semi-carbonic maceration for one day. Following this, the grapes were pressed in a traditional wooden, vertical press. Frédéric follows a policy of minimal intervention in his winemaking and uses only natural yeasts. Fermentation took place in concrete tanks, where the wine aged for six months prior to bottling.

Berne has done much for the recognition of Lantignié wines and is spearheading a group effort among young winemakers to obtain cru status for the area.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

France: A beautiful Morgon and, from the south, a gorgeous Ginger!

France: A beautiful Morgon and, from the south,

a gorgeous Ginger!

Bonne Tonne “Côte Du Py” Morgan (AOC) 2018, 13%

€28.75 The Vintry, Rathgar, Dublin. The Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny. Manning's BallylickeyMary Pawle 

“To come to live off our profession by producing a small quantity of grapes for a great quality of wine..”

The Gamay grape, outlawed by Royal decree in 1395  for being “a very bad and disloyal plant”, is now one of the most respected, at least when grown in the Beaujolais region. And Morgan, where the Grillet family make their Bonne Tonne wines, is one of ten cru areas here and one of the better known ones.

So I’m expecting good things when I pour this mid ruby coloured wine. I won’t be disappointed at all. The dark berry aromas are quite intense, inviting, rich and fresh. And so it continues on the rich and rounded palate, smooth and harmonious all the way through to a long intense finish. It is an absolutely amazing Gamay and Very Highly Recommended. 

The Grillet family have been winemakers for seven generations in Morgon and their vines are of an average age of 65 years. 1.10 ha is grown in Beaujolais appellation including 50 ares in Gamay and 60 ares in Chardonnay. The wines of the area possess a lot of finesse and a wonderfully expressive fruit.

Here is how the Grillets sum it up: “This is the challenge we have embarked on. To come to live off our profession by producing a small quantity of grapes for a great quality of wine and to make finally express itself this soil so rich which does not require less. The 'black gamay with white juice', the only grape variety authorized for red wines in Beaujolais, can thus translate all its complexity of aromas.”

The Morgon "Côte du Py", is the most famous climat of the vineyard. There are ten crus in the Beaujolais region and Morgon, as you probably know, is one of them. With the typical acidity, these wines can match a range of foods.

World famous for its exceptional soil resulting from ancient volcanic activity, the soil of the Py hill is composed of decomposing volcanic elements, with the presence of iron oxide and manganese. The blue rock is friable, and so the locals have been known to claim that the best Morgon are made on this land of  terre pourrie (rotten rock)! 


Mas Théo Ginger Vin de France 2019, 12.5%

€17.70 Toon’s Bridge Dairy shop in Dublin (Georges St D2)Mary Pawle 

From the middle of the Rhone area, this orange/gold coloured wine, tannic and fruity, is a blend of Marsanne (35%), Roussane (35%), Grenache Blanc (30%). And it is “vinification like the reds” that gives the wine that orange-y hue.

And, so the vineyard says, the name Ginger, the hair colour or the vegetable, fits well with the spirit of this wine. “And the label’s red hen is a nod to those of the farm” but remains silent on the fox!

Aromas are complex: barley sugar, butterscotch. And you can find much the same combination in the flavours on the full palate plus stone fruit flavours such as plum and apricot. All before a lingering and very pronounced dry, almost sherry type, finish. If you are not familiar with the style, this is a pretty good bridge to orange wines and is Highly Recommended. It is new to the Mary Pawle range and should be available in more outlets in the future.

Served at 10°C, the wine should go well with “with a Bresse chicken with morel sauce (good luck with that!) or a very chocolatey dessert”.

Since 2012, the biodynamic wines are made in old stone quarries: the Caves Cathédrales. This troglodyte area is an ideal cradle for the elaboration of these natural wines in the same way that tufa quarries of the Loire are ideal for raising wine and growing mushrooms. “The atmosphere of the Caves Cathédrales, rather cold at 57°F (14C), but regular throughout the year, makes it possible to manage the wines without preservative.” The vineyard itself is part of a mixed farming enterprise.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Charming red wines from Beaujolais and Mendoza

Charming red wines from

 Beaujolais and Mendoza

Domaine de la Bonne Tonne Morgon (AOC) “Les Charmes” 2018, 14% 

€27.00 Urru in Bandon// Little Green Grocer in Kilkenny // The Connemara Hamper in Clifden // Mary Pawle Wines 

Mid-ruby is the colour of this Gamay. And speaking of colour here’s a quote from Jancis Robinson: “Because so many of the world’s wine lovers have been taught to revere alcohol and deep colours in their red wines, Gamay has not had many fans outside Europe.”

Complex aromas, a melange of fruit, floral and vegetal. And again, as was the case with the 2017, we get those pure and deliciously intense flavours of the vivacious fruit, plus the usual fresh acidity, smooth and velvety all the way to the excellent finish, a harmonious trip from initial attack to the finalé. A nailed on Very Highly Recommended for this rewarding wine!

Wine Folly says Gamay is often compared with Pinot Noir (they are related!). “Gamay wines are loved for their delicate floral aromas, subtle earthy notes, and surprising ability to pair with food (even fish!). The best part is, you can find high quality Gamay at a much better price than Pinot Noir.”


Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2018, Mendoza Argentina, 14.5%

€22.00 Organico in Bantry //Connemara Hamper// Mortons of Galway  Mary Pawle Wines 

This Mendoza Malbec comes in a deep violet colour, close to black. Aromas are quite intense, black and red berries in there. Fruit and elegance mark its impressive entry on to the palate. Pronounced fruit flavours with some sweet spices, a touch of vanilla, you may even find a fleeting hint of chocolate here. Sufficient acidity to ensure harmony, medium body with soft tannins and excellent length as well. What’s not to like? Always a favourite here and Very Highly Recommended.

The blend is Malbec (85%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5), Merlot (5) and Syrah (5). Aged in French Oak for 10 months. They say it is ideal with red meats, sauces, cheeses and pasta dishes.

A 1990 vacation in Argentina was all it took. For third-generation winemaker Jean Bousquet, it was love at first sight. The object of the Frenchman’s desire: the Gualtallary Valley, a scenic, remote, arid terrain high in the Tupungato district of the Uco Valley in Argentina’s Mendoza region, close to the border with Chile. Here, where the condors fly and not a vine in sight, Bousquet discovered his dream terroir, an ideal location in which to nurture organically-grown wines.

 From that virgin territory, nothing planted, no water above ground, no electricity, the French wine-making family’s venture is now recognised as the source of some of Mendoza’s finest wines. The vineyard is located in the foothills of the Andes and is an incredible 1200 metres above sea level. Here the thermal amplitude contributes to fully ripened grapes with excellent acidity.