Showing posts with label Bergerac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bergerac. Show all posts

Monday, April 11, 2022

Merlot’s the link in a couple of superb wines from Puglia and Bergerac

Merlot’s the link in a couple of superb wines from Puglia and Bergerac

Amastuola Onda Del Tempo Puglia (IGP) 2015, 14%

€19.50 Lettercollum Kitchen, Clonakilty; Morton’s of Galway; Mary Pawle Wines

Primitivo, Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the grape varieties that give life to Onda Del Tempo (Wave of Time), an organic wine from the warm lands of the south east of Italy (the heel of the boot).

It’s got a dense ruby red colour. Fairly intense too on the nose with red and darker berries in the mix, along with spicy notes. And it is also a little spicy on the palate where it is dry and warming, elegant too. Sixteen months in oak has helped here, tannins are smooth and pleasant. And this complex unusual blend finishes harmoniously, persistent and dry. Very Highly Recommended.

The producers are well pleased with this effort saying it is the “Maximum expression ….. of the garden vineyard.” And that each grape in the blend has “individually each express(ed) their own note”.

Excellent in combination with beef, lamb, pasta, pizza and aged cheeses. Serve at 16-18 degrees.

Puglia has long been noted for its production of olives responsible for close to fifty per cent of the country’s total. Though I should add that a relation, who had some growing there, told me a few years ago that many are just left to rot on the bush. Grapes are the second biggest crop there now, especially those for red wine. 

Terroir Feely Résonance Vin de France Rouge 2017, 13.0%

 €22.00 Ballymaloe Garden Shop at the Cookery School, The Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny, On The Grapevine, Dalkey, Co. Dublin and Mary Pawle Wines

Ruby red in the glass and aromas of black cherry, plum and red berries almost jump out at you. And the palate is packed, deliciously, with flavours of the same fruit, a little hint of spice in the background. Tannins are mid to smooth and, with the fruit and spice staying the distance, there’s a most engaging and lengthy finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Serve at 16-18 °C. This Merlot is an ideal match for lamb and spicy dishes says importer Mary Pawle. Pasta and pizza and dark chocolate, say the winemakers. Personally, I’ve had good experience with Osso Bucco. Generally moderate in both acidity and tannin, Merlot is quite versatile at the table. 

It is also the most widely grown red grape in France, most famously in the Pomerol area of Bordeaux where a bottle of Pétrus could set you back several thousand euro.

Who are the Feelys? In their own words: “When Sean and I (Caro born Caroline Wardle) met in Johannesburg in 1993 we both had a passion for wine. Sean’s grandfather was a winegrower in the Cape of South Africa and I had been sharing a house with a Master of Wine. We wanted to pursue our dream of winefarming so we moved to Cape Town to continue our careers in the heart of the winelands.

Shortly afterwards we had an opportunity to move to Ireland. With Irish roots we jumped at the chance. A year later on our first wine trip to France we were smitten. Eight more years of work and saving and our dream came to fruition.”

The Feelys have one of the best wine websites around. Check up on their wines, yoga, vineyard visits, and accommodation here.  

Monday, January 10, 2022

A Couple of Highly Recommended Organic Wines, from Bergerac and Campobasso.

 A Couple of Highly Recommended Organic Wines

From Bergerac and Campobasso

Tour Des Gendres Cantalouette Bergerac Rouge (AC) 2020 14.5% 

€19.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Malbec. Not too sure about the name, though there is a bird (not like any lark I’ve ever seen!) on the label, and there is a town of this name about 30 minutes from Ribagnac where Tour des Gendres is based.

Very glossy and deep red in the glass. The nose is intense, a bouquet of vibrant small red fruits. And the fresh fruit flavours are also intense, juicy cassis and other darker fruits, a touch of moderate spice too. Tannins have a tender grip and this is an easy-drinking soft and balanced wine with good length. Really gorgeous, well made (typical of Tours des Gendres) and Very Highly Recommended.

The grapes come from the Tour des Gendres’ organic certified vineyards. The grapes are Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (noted for its quality of freshness), grown on a mix of sand, clay and limestone soils. Luc is looking for purity and intensity in his wines, relentlessly searching to reach the maximum potential of each vintage.Viticulture is organic and biodymanic and yields are low.

Le Caveau tells that Luc de Conti is a wonderful character and one of the finest wine-makers of his generation, he feels passionately for his wines, his 54-ha vineyard and his Bergerac region.”Luc is looking for purity and intensity in his wines, relentlessly searching to reach the maximum potential of each vintage.”

Over the years Bergerac winemakers have been overshadowed by those of neighbour Bordeaux who historically controlled the ports and so the  exports. As Robert Joseph said a good few years back: The second class status of Bergerac today owes more to the efforts of Bordeaux merchants to discriminate against it than to the quality of its wines.

As a result, to this day, Bergerac doesn't command the same price level as Bordeaux. So watch out for Bergerac reds (and the whites also) and you should save yourself a few euro without sacrificing quality.

Fattoria di Vaira Vincenzo Bianco 2020, 11% abv 

€18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This white blend comes from southern Italy (not from the deep south); inland Campobasso, where the vineyard is located, is roughly equidistant from Rome and Bari but nearer the Adriatic then the Tyrrhenian.

Colour is an orange/gold, a haze cloud in the glass. Aromas offer quince and sweet peach notes, along with floral hints. The complex palate is full of lively fruit flavours (apricot, peach, even apple). Mouthfeel is a little tingly. Fresh and well structured, this is a delicious wine and an excellent introduction to the style of skin-contact white (also known as orange wines). Highly Recommended.

The blend sees light skin-contact Fiano grapes in with some direct press Trebbiano. The fruit for the Vincenzo wine is sourced from Fattoria di Vaira, one of the largest biodynamic farms in Italy, with more than 500 hectares, just 40 of which are planted to vines.

There is a wonderful diversity here, a very clean environment, with animals, fruit plants, cereals. Shepherds, farmers, cheese makers, vignerons all work in harmony on the farm.

You can visit if you are in the area. Not alone visit, stay as well. And you’ll be well entertained with wine tours and evenings of wine, food and music. Check it all out here.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Hitting the jackpot with lesser known reds from Dordogne and Rioja

 Hitting the jackpot with lesser known reds from Dordogne and Rioja


Maison des vins in Bergerac

Cuvée Des Conti Bergerac Rouge (AC) 2019, 13%,

€19.45  64 Wine DublinBradley’s of CorkGreenman DublinLe Caveau Kilkenny


This is a bright and fruity organic glossy-red blend from the Bergerac area, immediately to the east of Bordeaux;  the Dordogne River flows through both areas. The producers list the grapes in the mix as Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

Colour is a dark red. Aromas are pleasant and inviting. Red fruits including cherry, a touch of spice. The palate is full of fruit, plum and blackberry, plus a subtle spice. And there’s also a lively acidity and so it is perfectly balanced. The mouthfeel is velvety, the tannins soft. As you might expect the finish lingers long. Very Highly Recommended.

Le Caveau: This new cuvée replaces the Bergerac Classique. The grapes come from Tour des Gendres, organic certified own vineyards. As with all of Luc's wine, this cuvée has been delicately put together, one can sense the perfectly ripe and healthy fruit, gentle and soft extraction resulting in a pure and perfectly balanced wine.

Hautefort, one of many
impressive chateaus here
I have visited the Bergerac region on a few occasions and love the wines (both red and white) from here. Quality is regularly on a par with neighbours Bordeaux. But historically, the city of Bordeaux controlled the head of the river and the port and Bergerac struggled to find outlets. One of the few benefits, at least for the foreign consumer, is that wines from the Bergerac region are mostly easier on the pocket. You may have to search a bit harder (Le Caveau have a few) but it will be worthwhile.

One of my visits was back in 2010 and I was looking for statements supporting Bergerac . Easy enough to find though as these two well-known wine writers were onside.

Hugh Johnson: Bergerac is a good value Bordeaux lookalike.

Robert Joseph: The second class status of Bergerac today owes more to the efforts of Bordeaux merchants to discriminate against it than to the quality of its wines.

Viña Albergada Albizu Tempranillo 2019 

€11.95, 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

In Rioja

A dark vibrant ruby is the colour of this LDR. LDR? It means light dry red. If you like Gamay you’ll love this. Not an exact replica of a Beaujolais of course - that was hardly ever the objective - but in terms of lightness, juiciness and structure, they could well be closely related. And I’d have to agree with importers Le Caveau that this juicy fruity Tempranillo “is a real find”.

And yes, that Tempranillo fruit is grown within the Rioja Alavesa appellation in the heart of Rioja but you don’t see any mention of the Spanish wine region on the label. Producers are Viña Albergada and they obviously go their own merry way. And that’s good for us as the quality its incredible. Not to mention the value! Amazingly light compared to traditional Rioja, this is Very Highly Recommended.

Like many LDR wines, this can be chilled a little. You’ll enjoy fairly intense aromas of plum along with red and darker berries. And that palate, amazingly sophisticated for a joven (young wine), is full of ripe fruit (plum, cherry, berry) with terrific acidity. All crowned by a refreshing and dry finish. This well balanced Albizu is delicious on its own, and very versatile with barbecued meats and tapas style food.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Two Lovely Whites from the southern half of France

Two Lovely Whites from
 the southern half of France

Terroir Feely “Luminosité” 2016, 13.5%, €19.00 Mary Pawle

The fruit for Luminosité is grown and the wine’s bottled by Sean and Caro Feely in Saussignac in Bergerac (next door to Bordeaux). They pack a fair bit of info onto the label: Vin de France sec, Sauvignon blanc 50%, Semillon 50%, zesty fruit, luminosity of nature, organic and biodynamic, hand-harvested, indigenous yeast, unfined, vegan friendly.

Light straw colour. Aromas of quince and gooseberry. Zesty flavours on the palate, quite intense, with a pleasant astringency, lovely mouthfeel too (has this been on its lees for a spell?), and a persistent finish. What’s not to like?

This Irish-South African couple “are passionate about the environment” and I think you can taste the difference here, without any funky stuff in either aroma or flavour. Highly Recommended. Find out more about the Feelys here - they have quite a lot to offer if you are visiting the area. 

Jacques Frelin “La Marouette” Chardonnay Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2018, 13%, €13.30 Mary Pawle

Colour of this organic Chardonnay from the South of France is a light straw. Pleasant floral aromas of modest intensity. This is a fresh one, peach and citrus flavours with a lively acidity to help at the table. Ideal as an aperitif or with a few grilled sardines. The label also indicates a match with shellfish and sole meuniere. Serve at 8-10 degrees for best results. 

For over thirty years now, Jacques Frelin has been at the forefront of the organic wine movement in France. While organic is often associated with small, this is not the case with Frelin who has vineyards all over the country including the Languedoc where this wine comes from, “very popular with our customers” says importer Mary Pawle and I can see why. Highly Recommended. Well priced too.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Two Highly Recommended Reds From The Dordogne And The Lot

 Two Highly Recommended Reds 
From The Dordogne And The Lot
Château du Cèdre Héritage Malbec, Cahors (AOC) 2016, 13.5%,  €16.35

Gorgeous fruity aromatics welcome you to this mid to dark ruby wine from the south of France.  It has been produced biodynamically by Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe of Château Du Cèdre  who, according to importers Le Caveau, ”form one of the most passionate, hard-working and skilled team of winegrowers we have ever come across”. 
And that accolade seems well deserved when you taste this superb wine, the concentrated fruit flavours delivered in a silky smooth vinous package that excites the taste buds as it pleasurably passes on its way to an equally delightful finalé. 
Very impressive indeed. There is nothing extreme here, all’s restrained, the tannins are close to smooth, and harmony reigns. They have a winning formula but rather than going on auto-pilot after years of doing it, they pay attention to the details of each vintage. Most of the wine is tank aged, with 20% barrel aged (2 year old barrels) for 16 to 18 months and that has been nicely judged in this case. It is 95% Malbec with 5% Merlot added. Very Highly Recommended.
Numerous passages are made in the vineyard to ensure the perfect health, quality and ripeness of the grapes, and all the work is carried by hand as, since 1992, no chemicals have been used. The search for quality is pushed so far that almost each vine receives a special attention.
It is ideal at the table and food recommendations include grilled vegetables, a creamy polenta with simmered meat, matured cheese or with a moist, rich, nut roast with baked vegetables and roast potatoes.
Tour Des Gendres Bergerac Rouge (AOP) Merlot - Malbec 2016, 14%

This bright ruby is a blend of Malbec and Merlot. Aromas are very inviting indeed, red and dark fruit in there. On the palate it is fresh and juicy with a lovely lively acidity, a touch of sweet spice, smooth tannins and a good long finish as well. Another well made harmonious wine from Luc de Conti and Highly Recommended.
Le Caveau tell is that M. de Conti is a wonderful character and one of the finest wine-makers of his generation, he feels passionately for his wines, his 54-ha vineyard and his Bergerac region. Viticulture is biodynamic, the soil is nourished with seaweed and silica treatments to encourage microbial activity.
Passion yes, but patience also seems to be one of Luc’s qualities: “the more we learn how to tolerate the threats of the nature, by adapting ourselves to it and not the opposite, the more the biodiversity will naturally balance things out, the more the soil will give us, meaning our wines will be more authentic.…”
Wine has been made in Bergerac for thousands of years yet its wines often play second fiddle to neighbouring Bordeaux which, during the Hundred Years War, hindered the export of its rival's wines. I’ve been in the Dordogne area a few times and have always been happy to have a Bergerac red or white in my hand and wouldn’t feel at all put out if offered a Monbazillac instead of a Sauternes (with perhaps one exception!)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Impressive Whites from the Languedoc and Bergerac. Fruity, French and Fabulous.

Well-known in Bergerac!
Impressive Whites from
 the Languedoc and Bergerac

Château Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet, AC Coteaux du Languedoc 2018, 12.5%, €14.10 Mary Pawle

Picpoul de Pinet is becoming a star wine, according to Grapes and Wines (2015). 

Picpoul is the grape name and it is found in the Languedoc and the best of it seems to be from the village of Pinet, on the edge of the Med and about 90 minutes east of Carcassonne. It is a very old grape variety and the name means lip—stinger (after its high acidity).

It has a pale gold colour. Aromatic for sure - citrus, melon and floral. Rounded and abundant fruit flavour (apple, lime, grapefruit), generous mouthfeel (close to creamy), a perky acidity and a decent finish. Highly Recommended and Very Highly Recommended with seafood. Serve at 8 degrees seems to be the official line but mine is one or two below that!

Importer Mary Pawle introduces this 2018 as a dry white, with a green-gold hue. Crisp and apple-y. “Often referred to as the Muscadet of the South, it is excellent with oysters and most shellfish.”

Château Petit Roubié has been practising organic farming since 1985. Floriane and Olivier Azan have owned the estate since 1981 and have developed, thanks to a judicious choice of winemaking, a very attractive range indeed. 

Their lands are in a historic area; if you visit, you can still see vestiges of the Via Domitia (the Roman road) in their scrubland. And those Roman engineers were building on top of an even older “road”. The wine, I’ve read, is presented in a Neptune bottle though that, as far as I know, has nothing to do with the Roman god of the sea.

Terroir Feely “Sincérité” Vin de France 2018, 13.5%, €22.20 Mary Pawle

You find out much about this 100% Sauvignon Blanc, in shorthand, on the label: Zesty fruit. Memories of the sea. Sincerity of nature. Hand-harvested. Indigenous yeast. Unfined. Vegan friendly. Organic. Biodynamic. Demeter.

In the glass, it has quite a light straw yellow. Gooseberry and citrus feature in the aromas. Lively and zesty attack, amazing flavours (more or less tracking the aromas) from then right through to the long finish, flavours are not at all extreme though, and with matching acidity, all’s in harmony here. A delicious refreshing wine, with minerality, perhaps from the limestone soil, and Highly Recommended!

Chateau Feely is in Saussignac (well-known for its sweet wines) in the Bergerac region but its wines are labelled ‘Terroir Feely’ because most Feely organic, biodynamic and natural wines are bottled under the ‘Vin de France’ label and in France, Feely tell us the word ‘Chateau’ is reserved for AOC wines.  “Since vintage 2014 our wines fit the natural wine standard defined by SAINS a French natural wine association”.

Why is it called Sincérité? “A pure Sauvignon Blanc originally named ‘sincere’ as a play on words with Sancerre due to the minerality and the pure Sauvignon Blanc character. It is a wine that is direct and acidic with a purity and freshness that is like sincerity.”

Serve at 7°-8°C with Fish and seafood, Fresh goat cheese and Salads.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Cracking Reds. Bergerac, Chianti and Hawkes Bay.

Terroir Feely Grâce Vin de France NV, 13.5%, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

You might have those eye-catching Purple Violetta potatoes currently being grown and marketed by Ballymakenny; that is more or less the colour of this excellent wine. Aromas are of freshly picked ripe plums and dark berries, leaves attached.

And the palate is of fresh fruit and acidity (all the better for food pairing). An amazingly pure wine, tannins a fine, very fine, influence. Balance is super, the fruit and astringency equally in evidence deep into the satisfying finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

This “rich and elegant” dry red wine, highly marked by Jancis Robinson, is produced by Caro and Sean feely in their Saussignac vineyard in the Bergerac area. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Unusually, it is non vintage (NV). Just 2,650 bottles were produced. No sulphites were added and the winery is certified organic and biodynamic. This “grace of nature” is the delicious result.

By the way, the Feelys recommended pairing it with Lamb (with Rosemary), duck breast, and Comté. Heard it went well also with venison at a recent dinner in Ballymaloe!

Ama Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €28.50 Karwig Wines

Husband and wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti produce this wine at their Castello Di Ama vineyard which is close to Sienna. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in the blend which also includes four per cent Merlot.

It is a light and bright ruby red and you’ll find expressive red fruit (cherry, raspberry) in the aromas. It is light and juicy, notes of spice, tart red fruit prominent, mid to full bodied, mid to high acidity contributes to the balance, silky tannins also in play and then a moderately long finish.

If I had to just one wine for the summer ahead, this would be it, more than one bottle of course. Approachable, carefree and attractive, it is Very Highly Recommended

Unison Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2005, 13.5%, a gift from a friend.

Unison describe themselves as “a truly boutique winery consistently producing world class wines”. No pressure then on this winery from the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district that produces finely balanced wines “of great elegance with a soft tannin structure”.

This Unison 2005 is their signature wine, the usual  blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is the 9th release with the usual good results. 

Colour is mid ruby and the complex aromas feature ripe red and darker fruit. It is smooth and rounded, a superbly balanced blend, fine tannins and velvety all the way. Nothing jars in this harmonious mouthful, a fine wine all the way from first sniff to the long finish. This red blend from New Zealand is not to be rushed and Very Highly Recommended.

If you can get your hands on it - my Wine-Searcher drew a blank - please let me know where!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dip into Spain and France with Mary Pawle Wines

Dip into Spain and France with Mary Pawle Wines

Azul y Garanza Garciano Navarro (D0) 2015, 14.5%, €16.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This nicely assembled blend of fruity and spicy Garnacha with the “subtle acidity” of the Graciano is produced organically and matured in cement tanks. But Azul y Garanza go further, planting fruit trees and native aromatic plants around the vineyards. “Working this way, we break the monoculture and we create a wider eco-system.”

They create some pretty good wines too if this one is anything to go by. It is mid-ruby in colour with red berries prominent in the nose. Fresh red fruit, raspberries mainly, on the palate, spice too, tannins just about in the mix. This medium bodied blend is quite intense, smooth and acceptably balanced with the Graciano acidity doing its bit. There is a hint of sweetness on the long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines

This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.

Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value too by the way.

Feely Résonance Bergerac (AC) 2012, 13.5%, €17.70 Mary Pawle Wines
In Bergerac
Crafted by Sean and Caro Feely in Saussignac (known for its dessert wine appellation but in the Bergerac appellation for red and white), this red is organic, unfined and unfiltered. It is basically a Merlot (98%) with a little Cabernet Sauvignon.
Merlot is the most widely grown red grape in France, most famously in the Pomerol area of Bordeaux where a bottle of Pétrus could set you back several thousand euro.
Colour is a deep ruby. Aromas of dark fruit, plum and black cherry. Full bodied, with power and elegance combined, balanced enough with a long spicy finish. Highly Recommended.
Match with pizza, pasta, and beef, say the winemakers, with Osso Bucco according to an acquaintance of mine.