Showing posts with label Côtes du Rhone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Côtes du Rhone. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2024

A lovely Ferraton Côtes Du Rhone Villages “in the image of Provence”

A lovely Ferraton Côtes Du Rhone Villages

 “in the image of Provence”. 

A Rhone village

Ferraton Côtes Du Rhone Villages Bio (AP) 2021, 14% ABV

RRP: €18.99. Stockists: The Olive Branch in Clonakilty / Mary Pawle

Our Ferraton Côtes Du Rhone Villages comes “from a selection of the best terroirs of the southern Rhône valley. Mediterranean climate. Clay-limestone hillsides and terraces.”

The colour of this youngster is a deep ruby. The dark fruity aromas are laced with spicy notes. That spice is a factor also on the palate where the fruit invites you on - light and smooth, with soft tannins - it certainly has that second-glass appeal. Well-balanced and with a persistent finish, it is indeed a high-quality organic wine.

Very Highly Recommended.


Check my growing list of top wines for 2023


Check out my Good Value Wine List here


It is the perfect accompaniment to red meats, mature cheeses and Mediterranean dishes. Really well-priced so no excuse not to get yourself a bottle and enjoy authentic Côtes du Rhône wine! It is elegant and not as robust as some and will also be ideal with duck breast, veal, lamb stews and hard or semi-hard cheeses. Versatile, isn't it?

As you know, most red wines from the Rhone are blends and the major players in this beauty are Grenache and Syrah. The label goes on the poetic side: “It is in the image of Provence: a mosaic of villages and landscapes which offer a unique, rich and inimitable whole.”

You’ll find the Ferraton headquarters in Hermitage in the Northern Rhone but the Côtes du Rhone appellation is spread across four departments in the Southern Rhone: Ardeche, Drôme, Gard and Vaucluse. Indeed, the vines for this one were raised not too far from the famous Pont du Gard and, like the lively people of that memorable area, the wines are not lacking in character.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A duo of characterful wines, one from the unique Corbieres terroir, the other from the prolific Rhone.

A duo of characterful wines, one from the unique Corbieres terroir, the other from the prolific Rhone.
A Rhone village

Château de Bastet “Aeris” Côtes du Rhone 2019, 13%,

RRP €17.95-€18.25. The Grainey, Scarriff//

Taste, Castletownbere// The Olive Branch, Clonakilty// Mary Pawle

Aeris, from Avignon, is a Biodynamic Rhone white made from (mostly) a blend of Marsanne, Rousanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier grapes. It has a pale straw yellow colour. Aromas are not the strongest but are not delicate either, beautiful and inviting floral scents and ripe fruit too. Initial sip makes a tart impression but soon the fruit (citrus and apricot and exotic too) asserts itself all the way through to a fresh finish. 

Generally, white Côtes du Rhone have a clear and crisp appearance, with a floral and fruit bouquet and a well balanced palate. This “Aeris”, organic and biodynamic, certainly fits that description. Serve at 9 to 11 degrees and you’ll find it is the perfect match to grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goat cheeses. Would be a good match too with a vegetable tart or with a chicken dishes. Salade Nicoise too. Pretty versatile.

Château de Bastet lies on the outskirts of Sabran, a village in the Gard region 45 km west of Nîmes and 35 km north of Avignon. The story of Château de Bastet is one of family traditions and a profound love of this land, a passion reflected in the wines made here. Welcome to a truly unique winemaking estate where past, present and future are united under the banner of biodynamic agriculture, a cohesive combination of traditional craftsmanship and the Art of Living.

Highly Recommended and, by the way, well priced. Aeris is one of a trio in the winery’s four elements series. The others are Terram (a fruity red C-d-R) and Ignis (an intense red C-d-R). Don’t think they have a fourth on offer. Might not be appropriate to call a wine Aqua!

Sainte Croix Pourboire Nature 2018, 13%

RRP €18.50-€19: Little Green Grocer,Kilkenny// Organico, Bantry// The Connemara Hamper, Clifden.  

As usual, the Sainte Croix label tells you most of what you need to know about the wine in the bottle. This is the story of this one: terroir -  hautes Corbières - limestone - Carignan - delicious fresh fruit - living soils - soft tannins - wild herbs - passion - wine without compromise. 

Colour is a deep red with purple hints. Crushed blackcurrant leads the aromatics and there’s a floral presence as well and more than a hint of outdoor freshness, perhaps from the local garrigue (popping and cracking in a hot summer). And that melange of fruit and floral, matched by a fresh acidity, all born and bred in the unique Corbieres terroir, makes for a superb palate. Tannins are featherlight, barely a tickle, and the finish is long and satisfying. Very Highly Recommended.

Saint Croix tell us there is nothing added. “Nothing, ie no SO2, yeast, tannins, enzymes, fining products etc etc. A red that remains very close to black fruits and garrigue herbs. From the Free Electron Series. Fermentation in vats at 23-26°C for 15 days, with indigenous yeasts and without input. On fine lees in vats for 6 months; breeding without SO2. Bottled without SO2.”

Sainte Croix in the Languedoc is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, who have extensive experience of working both in classic French stone ‘caves’ and giant, steel wineries in many parts of the world. From first sight of the unique geology and ‘climat’ here, professional intuition made it clear that it is an area of immense potential, a potential they consistently realise in their wines and illustrated well in this lovely wine, a blend of 80% Carignan and  20% Grenache.

Most of the world’s Carignan is grown in the south of France, both in the Languedoc and in neighbouring Côtes Catalanes. Surprisingly, former French colonies Tunisia and Algeria come second and third. While the fruit may have been grown in the Corbieres, it doesn’t get the AOC and is labelled simply as a Vin De France. A rather superb one though!

I read that Wine Folly recommends  Carignan as an “amazing choice for Thanksgiving and holiday fare” as it works well with cinnamon spiced dishes, berry based sauces and smoky meats. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Rosé. From Near And Far.

A Rhone rose. Photo from a show
 in the Papal Palace in Avignon.
 Rosé. From Far And Near. 

Willunga 100 Grenache Rosé McLaren Vale 2020 12.5%

RRP €19.99 Baggot Street Wines : Barnhill Stores :  Fresh – Smithfield/Grand Canal: Red Island Wine Co : Sweeney's D3 : The Parting Glass :

Pale salmon pink is the colour of this one, so pale you think (well at least I did) it’s almost grey. Strawberry is the classic aroma in this Grenache area and our McLaren Vale doesn’t disappoint in that, just-ripe strawberries and hints of blossom. An amazingly fresh acidity features on the palate, keeping the wine (apple, citrus, melon) in balance and there follows a long and very dry finish. Highly Recommended - don’t judge a wine by its colour.

The colour is explained by a vintage note. The hand-picked fruit was destemmed into a fermenter to drain for three to four hours, care was taken to minimise excessive colour extraction to keep the wine as pale as possible. The juice was settled, racked and then fermented in stainless steel using a neutral yeast strain. The wine was chilled post-fermentation and spent a further four months on lees, with regular stirring to build texture.

Importers Liberty: Fruit for this McLaren Vale rosé is sourced from 53-year old bush vines, which gives the wine beautiful concentration and its classic strawberry and red cherry aromas.

Many of us would think, because Australia is a relatively new wine country, that it has no old vines. But it has, quite a few of them. Grenache was one of the original varieties to be planted in Australia in the early 18th century and, up until 1960, was one of the most widely planted grapes.

The producers say Grenache has a wonderfully diverse flavour profile that changes from site to site, and throughout its life in bottle. “It was this sensitivity to site that attracted us to Grenache when we first started Willunga 100 back in 2005. At the time, few people took Grenache seriously, but we loved the gnarly old vines in McLaren Vale that produced outstanding fruit. Our vision was to make contemporary, premium wines with a focus on Grenache, and we’re proud to say, that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

And this rosé is one of them! 

Perrin Nature Côtes Du Rhône Rose (AOC) 2020

RRP €21.99 The Corkscrew :

This pale salmon coloured organic rose is produced by Famille Perrin, the fruit coming from their Le Grand Prébois vineyard  in Orange. It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah. The aromas are also a “blend”, of fruit (red) and floral notes. Beautiful radiant and fresh fruit flavours on the palate where a superb acidity also plays a key role. Delicious from start to finish, this is Highly Recommended. Serve cold, with light cuisine, Mediterranean dishes, but also as an aperitif with friends.

The 2020 vintage in Southern Rhône was favoured by very good weather conditions and it was also a generous one. The harvest, which was fairly early, began under very good conditions. “The very healthy,  beautiful juicy and very ripe grapes had reasonable alcohol levels, good acidity and already a great balance.”

The Perrin family started farming organically in 1950 at Château de Beaucastel (quite close to Le Grand Prébois ) with the strong belief that it helps to express the sense of place in the finished wine. It is therefore of little surprise that their philosophy has led to the creation of an organic range of wines sourced from the family’s certified vineyards across the Côtes-du-Rhône region.

Ten years ago, I drove into Tavel, the small southern Rhone town, under a banner declaring: “Tavel. Best Rosé in France.” I was delighted to be there and enjoyed sampling the wines, the rosés (only rosés in this appellation). The first one I tasted was no less than 14% abv.

A 2019 article in Wine Spectator declared that Tavel was about rosé before rosé was cool and went on to point out that it has fallen down the pecking order with the lighter coloured Provence equivalents (rarely as dark or as strong as their Tavel rivals), in their ever fancier bottles, now heading the list of desirable pinks! And that seems to be true here in Ireland where you seldom see Tavel. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Love Red? Three of the Best.

Sainte Croix Magneric, Corbieres (AC) 2012, 14.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

Fruit, spice, and power feature in this well-balanced blend of Carignan (42%), Grenache (29) and Syrah (29). The vineyard, run by an English couple, Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, has been organic since 2008 and they recommend pairing it with anything from Spiced lamb tagine to Roast venison.

This is a dark, medium to full bodied, wine with ripe dark fruit aromas to match. That fruit, spice too, on the palate, concentrated, with outstanding freshness, tannins soft and ripe and no slacking off in the long aromatic finalé. Power and elegance in the one package and Very Highly Recommended.

We had another beauty from the same vineyard a month or so back. Check out Le Fournas here

Il Grigio da San Felice Gran Selezione Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2013, 13.5%, €34.95 (27.95 in recent sale) O’Brien’s Wines.

Made from “our finest Sangiovese (80%), enriched with other ancient indigenous varieties”, the result is a superbly complex wine of great elegance and concentration. Just 40,000 bottles are produced of this particular wine which has an ageing potential of 15 years. It has been aged for 24 months in mixed oak plus 8 months in bottle. 

Sangiovese, also known as Brunello and Bonarda, is a top red grape in Italy. Tuscany is its home but it is grown all over Italy, also in the US, Australia and Argentina.

Colour is medium red and the aromas feature ripe red fruit (strawberries, cherries). There is terrific concentration in this medium-bodied gem, spice too and a superb acidity to balance and it boasts a long dry and spicy finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Matches suggested are red meat, pasta and pizza. You could also do as I did and try it with cheese. I had Carrigaline, both the original and the smoked, and all got on very well together!

Jerome Quiot Cairanne Côtes du Rhone Villages (AC) 2014, 13.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

The family Quiot began their wine story in the Vaucluse when they acquired a few hectares there in 1748, so the nod to tradition is to be expected. This wine is made from the traditional grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and old vines of Carignan. Old style vinification too in tanks and oak barrels.

Colour is a lovely ruby and there are raspberry and cherry in the aromas. On the palate, it is fruity for sure, spice also, a very good depth of flavour, nicely balanced; the tannins are close to smooth in this medium bodied wine and there is an excellent finish as well. It packs quite a punch for such a smooth wine and is Very Highly Recommended.

That noticeable acidity helps make it a good food wine, lamb, roasted meat and cheeses are recommend by the producers. I found it a terrific match with Moussaka, especially the version made using this recent recipe from Dublin's Tang Restaurant in association with Glenisk - see the details here.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s. Wine, Dine, Talk

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s
Wine, Dine, Talk
Superb wine

The Rhone came to the Lee last Wednesday night, its two ambassadors, Bruno Boisson of Domaine Boisson and Simon Tyrrell of Les Deux Cols, introduced to the diners at Greene’s by none other than the Menu himself Joe McNamee. Top chef Bryan McCarthy ensured the food matched the excellent wines for the Rhone Wine Week Dinner.

Under gentle prodding from Joe, Bruno told us he is the owner of Domaine Boisson and that it has been in his family for 150 years. The little village of Cairanne is near better known villages such as Gigondas. He produces about 90,000 bottles a year, fifty per cent of which is sold in France. The Irish market is important to him. “It takes a lot, thanks to Tindal’s and their loyalty.”
Bruno, Joe, Simon

At 18 years of age, Bruno started Oenology school and later travelled to the Barossa in Australia. “It is important to see things “more global”, not just in a “tight” local view. While the family had been growing grapes for generations, it was only in the late 80s that Bruno’s father started bottling his own wines.

Cairanne “is becoming cru now. We are very proud of that and we remember the efforts of past generations”.

Simon’s trajectory was quite different to Bruno’s, his immersion in the wine business  happening “by chance”. In 1989 he was working in Willie’s Wine Bar in Paris, a bar that specialised in Rhone wines. The interest grew and grew. By 2009, he had a small negociant business but decided to go further. Back to college then in the UK and, after getting much advice, he began to buy grapes and, by 2012 was making his own wine. And, just now, he has bought his first vineyard, near St Nazaire.
Pork Belly

Simon explained that in the Northern Rhone, there is just one variety and that is Syrah. In the South, there is “more blending, less new wood.” “The wines are more generous, higher abv but they are balanced. There is something about Grenache based wines, lovely warm mouthfeel.” He reckons that they are very popular in Ireland because of our climate and gastronomy. “They have a roundness and warmth and nothing goes better with lamb.”

And what are the prospects for the current vintage? It has been getting a very good press, not just in France but in many neighbouring countries. Bruno revealed that friends of his are saying that the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape will be “the best since the legendary 1990…. time will tell.” Both agreed that 2015 was a good year and Simon reckons that 2016 has even “more finesse, more acidity”  and “will be better than 2015!”

Not all good news though. Later, after dessert, Simon told us that the well-known Muscat De Beaumes De Venise was struggling with much unsold as demand is shrinking for sweet wines generally. The producers are switching to making dry wines but then find that people are confused, thinking that because it is Beaumes that it must be sweet! A rock and a hard place!

Oaky, let’s start at the beginning of the evening and a lovely welcoming cocktail: Kalak Vodka Martini, rocks, twist. Kalak is an Irish made premium vodka, one worth looking out for!

Our first starter was Goatsbridge Trout and crab, cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium, radish and this was accompanied by Vin de France ‘Les Terrasses’ 2015 by Chateau Pesquie, an organic blend of Viognier (70%), Roussane and Clairette. The 70% is significant as it is higher than the AOC rules allow and so the wine can only be sold as Vin de France. Demoted it may be but it’s a good one. 

Next up was the Pork belly, Black pudding, apple, celeriac, and cider and the wine here was Simon’s Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvée D’Alize’ 2015 by Les Deux Cols. “My staple wine”,  he said, “named after a local wind and a blend of Grenache 60%, Syrah 30 and Cinsault (“the Pinot Noir of the South”). No oak here, just stainless steel. His idea was to make “a moreish wine”. Reckon he pulled it off!

After a refreshing Espuma, we were onto Wild Irish venison, artichoke, potato, onion, elderberry and Domaine Boisson’s Cairanne 2014. “It is important to understand the real place of wine is on the table with food,” said Bruno. “This was a little late but it has higher acidity so good for food. I don't want to get too technical, not too much cerebral. Just enjoy it.” We certainly did.

And Bruno had quite a family story for his next wine, the Massif D’Uchaux ‘Clos de la Brussiere’ 2011 from a disused vineyard that his grandfather bought in the local Cafe du Commerce (where you could buy virtually anything in the good old days). There was much rock picking to be done before the ground was cleared. “He picked rocks. We pick grapes.” The grapes are Grenache (60%) and Mourvedre (40). A gorgeous serious wine with bright fruit and spicy notes and quite a perfect match for Mike Thompson’s Young Buck cheese.
In the Southern Rhone

We finished with Chocolate Pecan Cremaux Tart, preserved cherry and pistachio and the Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2014 by Chateau Pesquie, a very good example, sweet yes but with the acidity retained.

Simon summed it all up: “A very diverse valley with a very diverse range of wines.” And he made a plea to please drink the odd glass of Beaumes de Venise at the end of your meals!
Harvest in Cairanne

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Côtes Du Rhone. Two to try!

Côtes Du Rhone
Two to try!
Mont Ventoux dominates the area and it wasn't too pleasant on top when I arrived

A Little History

The roots of  Côtes du Rhone go back to the 17th century though it was not until the middle of the 19th (both banks now planted!) that the plural came to be used. Finally in 1936, the reputation was formally recognised, and the Appellation officially made its debut on 19th November 1937.

The Mistral wind - Ventoux is the windy mountain - is both renowned and feared in Provence and was at its worst in 1956. Wind speeds of 100kph and temperature of minus 15 degrees crucified the area. The olive trees perished in their 1000s but the vines proved more resistant. After that, the farmers bet on the winners!

No less than 22 varieties are allowed in the AOC but often just three - Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre - are used. Others that may figure are Cinsault, Carignan, Bourboulenc, white Grenache., Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier.

Grenache, which offers fruitiness, warmth and body, is resistant to wind and drought, so most red wines of the southern C-d-R are Grenache based. In the AOC, it must be a minimum of 40% Grenache. Both the excellent wines below are well above that minimum.

Santa Duc Les Vieilles Vignes,  Côtes du Rhone (AOC) 2012, 14%, €15.60 Le Caveau

The average age of these old vines is 40 years. Colour is between medium and dark. It is slightly cloudy but, don't worry, this is natural as the wine is unfiltered. Jammy red fruits feature on the aromas. The smooth and full palate shows big ripe fruit flavours, tannins at play here but with little bite, good balance;  longish finalé and Highly Recommended.
The blend is 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre. The mix will vary from year to year. The fruit comes from the Rhone villages of Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Seguret and Rouaix and the wine is technically a Côtes du Rhone Villages in everything but name. Production is organic.

Chateau de Bastet Terram,  Côtes du Rhone (AOC) 2014, 13%, €15.20 Mary Pawle Wines
No herbicides, no pesticides. This is both organic and biologique and the blend is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. And note that the recommended serving temperature is 14 degrees, quite appropriate as this is a delicious summertime CdR!
Colour is ruby, the liquid attractively bright in the glass. Jammy red fruits on the nose and then lively red fruit flavours on the palate, a nice light spice too, rounded tannins, fresh acidity but well balanced for sure. Very clean and accessible and Very Highly Recommended.