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Wednesday, December 21, 2016
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
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.
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 RhoneTwo 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.