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Thursday, May 10, 2018
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!
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
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.
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
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.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Eidos de Padriñán Albariño, Rias Baixas (DO) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines
This enjoyable well-made wine, with enough freshness to balance the fruitiness, is made by a family winery in Val do Sainés, a sub region of Rias Baixas which claims to be the birthplace of the popular Albariño grape.
It is said of the family that “they empty the grape of virtue”. Sounds a bit drastic. I think they mean to say they get the best from it.
It has a beautiful mid-gold colour. Peach and pear among the aromas, honeysuckle too. Melon and citrus add to the flavours on the palate; it is round and fresh and has that excellent acidity that makes this versatile wine a winning match with many cuisines, including Asian. A long finish, no shortage of minerality, completes a pleasant experience. Highly Recommended.
Get the best from the wine, empty it of virtue, by making sure it is nicely chilled, ideally between nine and ten degrees celsius. Then you can drink like a monarch! The King of Spain chose Albariño wines to celebrate his marriage to Queen Letizia.
I’m always partial to a Bergerac or Bordeaux white that has more Semillon than Sauvignon blanc and this is the case with this organic white which has 70% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon and 10% Muscadelle.
You might think that this basic entry level wine might not get that much attention. But, in Cork last year, Guillaume de Conti told me this is one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, and it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this, helped by six months on the lees, certainly is. Good value too.
Not too sure of the colour! Tasting was by candlelight during a power cut, glimpses of gold spotted. Quite an intense bouquet though, fruit (white) and floral. It is fruity for sure but acidity is lively too, so well balanced, and there’s a long dry finish. Great purity and intensity and Highly Recommended.
The Conti family moved from Italy to France in 1925. In the recently published Wine Revolution, author Jane Aston recommends that you try their "Pét-Nat from 100% Sauvignon Blanc vines, bottled with no added sulphur."
The Conti family moved from Italy to France in 1925. In the recently published Wine Revolution, author Jane Aston recommends that you try their "Pét-Nat from 100% Sauvignon Blanc vines, bottled with no added sulphur."
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Purple Grape, Purple Grace
Superb Bergerac Blend
Superb Bergerac Blend
Caro Feely is one of the speakers at the 2017 Ballymaloe LitFest in May. At noon, on the 21st, she will engage in conversation with renowned wine-writer Tomás Clancy, in a presentation entitled “Glass Half Full - The Ups and Downs of Vineyard Life”. See LitFest.ie for tickets (€16.00). Should be a very interesting hour! Below we look at one of her interesting wines.
Terroir Feely, Grâce 2012, Vin de France, 14%, €25.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Saussignac, well known for its dessert wines, is an area near Bergerac, where Sean and Caro Feely operate, maybe not quite within the rules of the appellation, hence the Vin de France classification for this organic red wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%).
Operating on the edge can be a gamble. “We hold our nerve and wait to hand-pick the grapes for this wine with optimal ripeness. Our patience is rewarded with a rich, elegant and mineral wine, the grace of nature. A living wine, rich and fresh, that offers great depth of dark fruit, a hint of orange peel, spice and mint.” No sulphites have been added to this Very Highly Recommended 2012 edition, of which just 2,650 bottles were produced.
Grace has a purple colour with aromas of dark fruit (mainly plum), mint notes too. It is indeed rich and fresh, and dry, tannins fine-grained and persistent, some spice here too. And yes, that terrific depth of fruit but with a superb balance and then a long and satisfying finalé. A pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.
For a earlier review of La Source, another Feely blend of Cabernet and Merlot but in reverse proportions, check here.
Ferraton Les Pichères, Crozes-Hermitage (AC) 2009, 12.5%, €25.75 Mary Pawle Wines
This 100% Syrah is made from organically grown grapes on limestone sub-soil with, on the surface, large pebbles from the River Isère. It spends 8-10 months in barrel, depending on the vintage. Watch out too for the Ferraton Le Reverdy.
The Pichères is a deep ruby, a clean purple on bottom of the cork. There is a complex mix of aromas, including black and red fruits. Spice and pepper are prominent on the palate. It is medium to full bodied, fruity and so well balanced with an excellent finish. A well rounded serene Syrah, impressive overall and Very Highly Recommended.
Did you know, that in winemaking, rainfall is a big factor in the difference between the Northern Rhone where its hits 923mm per annum and the Southern where the average is 677mm? See World Atlas of Wine for more details.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Three Rivers. Three Reds
Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.
|The arena in Arles|
Vines need water and no surprise then that so many of the world's best known vineyards are planted on the banks of rivers. You’re all familiar with the spectacular pictures from the Douro and the Rhine, both World Heritage sites. Two of the rivers below, the Rhône and the Dordogne, will be well known to you. I suspect that not may be the case with the Piava.
The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France where it splits into two near Arles - its delta encloses much of the Camargue - before entering the sea. It is 812 kilometres long.
|Monbazillac, one of the sweet wine areas on the Dordogne.|
The Piave is the baby of these three. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. There is a cow's milk cheese with the same name and the river is known too for the Battle of the Piave (1918), the decisive battle of World War I on the Italian Front.
The RhonePierre Amadieu Côtes du Rhone (AOC) Grande Réserve 2011, 14%, €16.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licences
This well balanced wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a violet colour, the legs slow to clear. Blackberry and plum more than red berries feature on a somewhat muted nose, hints of clove too. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy, tannins are silky, acidity not too obvious, but it is well balanced overall, a powerful palate but not short on finesse and with a very pleasing finish.
The grapes are grown different soils, clay and limestone for the Grenache, pebbles and gravel for the Syrah. The fruit used is a “very careful selection”. Harvesting is manual and the wine is matured for six months in oak barrels. A good result! Very Highly Recommended.
Feely La Source Vin de France 2011, 13%, €23.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Saussignac, like neighbouring Monbazillac, is perhaps best known as an area that produces sweet wines. And it is here that Sean and Carlo Feely produce organic wines that are not sweet! Their vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Hand-crafted from old vines, this wine is aged gently for 18 months in French oak barrels. It is handpicked, basket pressed, with indigenous yeasts; it is unfined and unfiltered.
Colour is a deep purple. Plum is prominent in the aromas. Quite a depth of flavour (including plum), nice bit of spice too, concentrated and well balanced and the finish is good too. This 2011 blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet and is Highly Recommended.
The Feely suggests an Irish (Wine-Geese) connection to this Bergerac vineyard and there is. Read about it here. By the way, if you are in the area, why not visit Chateau Feely; it is just 75 minutes from Bordeaux and 15 from Bergerac. If you can't make it to Saussignac, maybe you'd like a little share in the vineyard? Details here.
Conte Loredan Gasparini Malbec Colli Trevigiani (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines
Colour here is a fairly intense violet and red fruits feature in the aromas. Rich flavours on the palate plus a good input of spice, excellent acidity too. Tannins are fine. Very smooth and approachable and then a good long finish. Very good indeed and Highly Recommended.
While this particular wine is labelled IGT, the winery has been cultivating Malbec for the past fifty years as part of their DOC Venegazzu. They say it is ideal as an aperitif (I can vouch for that!), with fried food and red meat.
Monday, April 11, 2016
This Bordeaux Is Hors Catégorie!
|Looking out over the vineyards from the top of the Sauve-Majeure Abbey|
Chateau Turcaud Cuvée Majeure 2014 Bordeaux blanc, 13.5%, €18.95 Le Caveau
Not too sure I should be shouting off the rooftops about this Bordeaux beauty. It is a perfect match - for me! I’m drawn first by its light gold colour. It almost sparkles in the glass. And then those complex aromas of white fruits (apple, pear) along with floral and minty hints and more. The deliciousness continues on the palate, enhanced by a rich voluptuous texture, a very pleasing balance of fruit and acidity, the oak nicely integrated, and a finish that lingers, reluctant to say goodbye.
Later, too late on this occasion, I read on the Chateau website that it “can benefit from decanting a half hour to a full hour before the meal, and is ideal served chilled but not too cold.” This wine, they add, is at its best as an aperitif or with marinated salmon, foie gras, fish terrine, scampi, scallops, lobster, fish in a sauce, white meat, and most cheeses.
Sauvignon gris (30%) plays a big role in the blend; also here are Sauvignon blanc (55%) and Semillon (15%). After fermentation in French oak (40% new), it is aged for six months on fine lees which are “stirred with a stick (bâtonnage) once a week to put the lees into suspension in order to produce more complex, aromatic wine”. I reckon they got it right! Very Highly Recommended or maybe, as they say in the Tour de France, hors catégorie.
Familia Cecchin Malbec 2015 (Maipu, Mendoza), 13.6%, €20.35 Le Caveau
Over-the-top labels usually make me quite cautious about the wine in the bottle. And when I saw that this Malbec expresses the “soul of those who make it”, I was thinking that's a bit over the top. But maybe not! This one, made from organic grapes, is Very Highly Recommended!
It has a dark violet colour with rich fruit aromas and a peppery drift as well. On the palate it may not be quite as in your face as some traditional Argentinian Malbecs but there is a gorgeous restrained rush of fruit flavours and a lively matching acidity, a delightful balance achieved, and with a smashing finalé.
Familia Cecchin, who farm in Maipu, Mendoza, is the first Argentinian winery to become part of the Artisan Craftsman Growers, a worldwide association of high quality winemakers. They work in a traditional manner, according to the Wines of South America -”They use horse-drawn plows, minimize the use of agricultural chemicals and use only native yeasts. The vineyards are bordered with aromatic plants.. to attract animal pests and keep them away from the vines.” They are well known for their Malbec, Carignan and Olive Oil!
Color is a lovely light gold, a bright one! The aromas include white fruit and blossom. Excellent white fruit (melon, peach) with good concentration, well rounded and refreshing overall plus a good finish. Eight months maturing on the lees helps. Highly Recommended.
This is the family speciality, their favourite! It is made from Sémillon harvested very ripe and partially passerillé (dried out). The full blend here (it will vary from season to season) is Semillon 70%, Sauvignon blanc 20, Muscadelle 10. They advise serving it with seafood, pike with white butter, grilled fish, a Cabécou. I’d like to try it with some of that fresh Goatsbridge Farm trout, also available in Kilkenny of course, and in many supermarkets.
Viticulture is biodynamic, the soil is nourished with seaweed and silica treatments to encourage microbial activity. Yields are low.
Menade Nosso Verdejo natural 2014, 13%, Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León, 13%, €19.95 (now 17.96) Le Caveau.
Castilla y Leon is a large region in northwest Spain that includes Rueda, now the undisputed home of Verdejo. The grapes for this wine come from Rueda itself, from Finca Menade. No added sulphur is used and the cork is covered by a waxy cap. Besides, a box of this wine will be packed with straw, perhaps to signify that it is a natural wine. Unlike its cousin (reviewed here too), it doesn't have the Rueda DO but don't worry, this is an exceptional wine and Very Highly Recommended.
There is a good depth of colour, strawy, and it is bright and clean. Aromas of white fruits and some herby hints too. Amazing mouthfeel, superb volume, impressive balance and a finish that goes on and on. If this is organic, keep the real wines coming, waxy cap and all!
I’ve seen the words greasy and oily used to describe the feel of this wine but don't let this put you off. It just means that there is more viscosity - you’ll note that the legs (or tears) on the glass are slow to clear.
Menade Verdejo 2014 (Rueda DO), 13%, €15.95 Le Caveau
This family run vineyard, just south of Valladolid, in Rueda, is certified organic. Hand-harvesting, carbonic snow (instead of sulphur), natural yeasts and low yields are among the techniques used to produce pure and expressive wines.
And this light gold Verdejo is a very good example. Aromas are of white fruits (citrus to the fore) and there are floral hints too. It has lovely fresh fruit, a refreshing acidity, dry, well balanced and an excellent finish. Highly Recommended.
Maison Ambroise, Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Les Hauts Pruliers’ 2010, 13%, €46.35 Le Caveau.
Once on a vineyard visit, I noticed our guide was vigilant in moving us further away every time the tractor and sprayer came anywhere near our group. Now I read this about Maison Ambroise: Ludivine (Ambroise) explained the move to organic viticulture is one of true belief as she lost her grandfather due to illness caused by chemicals used in the fields.
The Les Hauts Pruliers vineyards are located on a very steep slope, just above Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru ‘Pruliers’. Harvested manually, neither filtered nor fined, the wines are classic and expressive with distinct terroir-influenced personalities. This is quite a gem.
It has the typical lighter red colour of Pinot Noir and a bright one too. There is a tempting nose of black and red berries, some spice too. And this is echoed on the palate; smooth and elegant. Deep and rich, nicely balanced, a vibrant mid-palate all heading towards a long finish.
If Burgundy is Pinot Noir heaven, then this wine comes from a special piece of paradise. Maybe I should have waxed a little more on the lyrical side with this one, but the city below is flooded, the rain lashing down outside. Very Highly Recommended.
Monday, April 4, 2016
April is the Real Wine Month
April, the Real Wine Month, is up and running!
Real Wine Month is an exciting, innovative promotion of artisan wines which have been produced sustainably by organic, biodynamic viticulture and low intervention (a.k.a. 'natural') winemaking. It is being run across Ireland and the United Kingdom by specialist importers Le Caveau (Ireland) and Les Caves de Pyrène (United Kingdom).
From 4th-30th April, selected wines will be poured by the glass or featured on wine lists, in tastings and themed events in over 200 restaurants, independent retailers and wine clubs across the U.K. and over 50 in Ireland.
This, the third Real Wine Month in Ireland, is shaping up to be the best yet. From pubs, bars and bistros to Michelin-starred establishments, to independent retailers and wine clubs, we have seen increasing interest in the quality, authenticity and diversity of these small-scale, artisanal wines.
Through participating restaurants and retailers, the promotion represents a great opportunity for wine-drinkers to taste and explore a diversity of wines that are not mass-distributed due to small-scale production, or indeed are in short supply due to global demand particularly from cities like New York, San Francisco, London and Paris.
To see what’s on in your area, the events, the participating restaurants, wine bars and stores, please click here for the full press release. I hope to have another post or two over the month.
In the meantime, here are some of the wines that you may well come across. There are some real beauties here!
Chateau Turcaud Entre-Deux-Mers sec 2014, 13%, €14.90 Le Caveau
I didn't know it then but I was looking down on this vineyard less than two years ago. After a visit to Gavin Quinney’s Chateau Bauduc, I had climbed to the top of the famous local abbey Le Sauve Majeure and, from the final 159th step, had a great view over the surrounding countryside. April is Real Wine Month and, as part of the fun, Chateau Turcaud will be represented at events in Dublin and Cork.
|Le Sauve Majeure|
This particular wine is a classic Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc (60%), Semillon (35%) and Muscadelle (5%) and, having been fermented and aged on the lees in vat, the result is very crisp and fruity.
You'll note a good depth of yellow in the colour with aromas of citrus fruits, some blossoms too. On the palate, it is more intense, more assertive than the nose, with a lovely wave of fruit flavours, an excellent mouthfeel, well balanced and with a good finish. Highly Recommended.
Serve this delightful wine well-chilled as an aperitif, with all sorts of seafood, or with goat cheese, sheep cheese, and hard cheeses.
Isabelle and Stéphane Le May are eager to safeguard the local soil and terroir they have inherited: they’ve come back to mechanically weeding, and fight vine diseases with sustainable methods.
Chateau Beauregard Mirouze Tradition 2013 (Corbieres AOC), 13.5%, €14.85 Le Caveau
Winemakers Karine and Nicolas Mirouze have blended 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah (over 40 years old) to make this excellent organic wine. Mirouze will be another of the French wineries to be represented here this month. Their favourite pairing for this wine is Duck breast accompanied by a ratatouille of vegetables from the garden.
Colour is a deep red, almost purple. The aromas, savoury and spicy, puzzled me a bit and the chateau says they are “nose dashing”! A mingling of the scents of red fruit and garrigue (the local scrub). So there you are. On the palate, you find intense dark fruit flavours, spice too, tannins noticeably in play, yet overall invigorating and with a very good finish. A really warming satisfying wine and Highly Recommended.
Clos de Caveau Carmin Brillant 2012 (Vacqueyras AOC), 14.5%, €24.50 Le Caveau
Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm. And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours.
The vineyard is naturally isolated by a belt of Mediterranean forest, making it ideally suited for organic viticulture, for which the domain obtained full certification in 1989. Most of the work in the vineyard is carried out by hand and the yields are very limited. Clos de Caveau too are coming to Dublin and Cork in April.
Colour is a dark red and the aromas feature red fruit and some hints of herbs. It is very smooth and concentrated on the palate, lush fruit flavours with spice and herbs, and fine tannins. An excellent finish as well and Very Highly Recommended. The blend is 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah and it is 100% organic.
Chateau Tour des Gendres, La Gloire de mon Pére Cotes de Bergerac Rouge (AOC) 2007, 12.5%, €21.30 Le Caveau
The aromas are intense and very pleasing, one that invited me to take off my glasses! Like the wine, I’m getting on; by lifting the glasses, my nose works that little bit better! It is quite a dark red with a lighter rim - it is after all getting on in years!
On the palate, it is very very smooth and rounded, gentle too, nothing extreme, still fresh but ready to enjoy and appreciate, with an excelling lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Bergerac, perpetually in the shadow of neighbour Bordeaux, produces many excellent wines, mainly from much the same grapes. This blend of Merlot (45%), Malbec (35%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (5%), is an excellent example. By the way, the proportions of the blend vary from year to year. It spent eight months in oak. Viticulture is biodynamic.
A word from the makers: This wine, quite powerful in the mouth, will accompany venison, duck, the stews and cheese. It will be better if decanted for within hours, and can be kept between 5 and 8 years. The eight years is up! But no panic at all.