Showing posts with label Cabernet Franc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cabernet Franc. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2022

A stunning white blend from Valencia and a delightful Cab Franc from Sancerre

A stunning white blend from Valencia and a Cab Franc gem from Sancerre


Cullerot Celler del Roure Valencia (DOP) 2021, 13%, €17.50 MacCurtain Wine Cellar

Cullerot is a white wine from the D.O. Valencia. produced by Celler del Roure. It is a blend of different grape varieties: 30% Macabeo, 30% Pedro Ximénez, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Malvasía, 10% Merseguera, 10% Verdil. Haven’t heard of the last two before. 

The wine is aged mostly in clay amphora (6 months) , a method which follows ancient winemaking traditions, and provides Cullerot with “a truly complex and unique character”. It is a blend and method that works very well indeed.

Straw yellow is the colour, clean and bright. It’s got a very interesting nose indeed, fruity, floral and herbaceous. Entry is impressive, fresh and packed with fruit flavour; it is well balanced thanks to a sharp acidity, has a beautiful texture and finishes strong and long. Very Highly Recommended.

The producers suggest serving it at 7 degrees (others say 8 to 10) with rice dishes. Others, including the Wine Society, indicate Gazpacho, Prawns, Spaghetti Puttanesca, Olives, Shellfish risotto, Salads, Aperitifs, Rice with fish, white fish, and shellfish. 

Celler del Roure, founded in 1996, is a small family winery which works with the utmost care on every inch of land. The winery also keeps its eye on the future, collaborating on various projects with the Universitat Politècnica de València.

The use of large clay amphorae may be unusual in Spain but not so in other ancient wine countries such as Georgia. Celler del Roure’s utilisation of them is a nod to the tradition as well as a means of aging without oak influence.

I bought this bottle from the relatively new MacCurtain Wine Cellar in Cork. Co-owner Sean Gargano has visited the winery and been very impressed: "We love pretty much everything from Celler del Roure. Owner Pablo Calatayud is doing heroic work bringing local Valencian varieties back into fashion. He gets help in the cellar from Javi Revert, one of Spain brightest wine makers." 

"Watch out for Valencia to become a player in the near future. And if you see Celler del Roure be it red, white or rosé, buy it.  Prices are guaranteed to go up when they get the recognition they deserve." 

Watch this space!


Best Value Wines 2022 Under €18.00. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Petit Bourgeois Cabernet Franc Val de Loire (IGP), 13% ABV, €17.45 (14.95)

The town of Chinon and its surrounds is the heartland of Cabernet Franc in the Loire Valley; this one though comes from Sancerre (a few hours, along the valley, to the east), an area best known for its eponymous Sauvignon Blanc.

Freshness is taken for granted with Loire Cabernet Franc and this one certainly has it. It’s also got the fruit, both in the aromas and on the palate, lots of lighter berries (raspberries and strawberries) plus darker (blackcurrant and blackberry) as well, and there are hints of spice. The lingering finish is along the same lines. That wonderful freshness keeps it light and easy drinking. Indeed, it may be served slightly chilled but you’ll hardly need to do that this time of year. A Highly Recommended wine.

We had a beautiful plate of Organic Kerry Wild Meat at a recent meal in Kinsale’s Rare and I reckon this Cabernet Franc would have been a terrific match. And the winery’s list of suggestions includes the French version as you can see: fowl or other white meats are perfect as a wide range of prepared cold meats such as a plate of French “charcuterie”. Could go well with the turkey! 

No mention of Chavignol goats cheese. Chavignol because that is the area where producer Henri Bourgeois is based. It is a renowned 10th generation winemaking family, making exquisite award-winning wines from some of the best terroir in the Loire Valley.

A few years back I was in Chinon and failed to drink a glass of Cabernet Franc! And that meant I didn’t quite make the cut for membership when I visited the Caves Painctes of Chinon, the headquarters of the Confrerie de Bons Entonneurs Rabelaisiens, situated in a network of subterranean tunnels running beneath the town’s chateau. You have to drink a glass of wine. What’s the problem? You may well ask. The problem is the glass takes a whole bottle and you must finish it without a pause! 

Chinon (and include nearby Bourgueil) is a terrific visit, especially if you go late August/early September. Our highlight was a day-long vintage fair with an old fashioned threshing. Thirsty work and that’s why we withdrew from the streets for a spell to Caves Painctes.

* Most of you will know that Cabernet Franc appears in Bordeaux red blends where, more often than not, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot take the lead roles.


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Cabernet Franc Supreme. And an intriguing Sicilian white from red grapes.

A Cabernet Franc Supreme. And an intriguing Sicilian white from red grapes.

Clau de Nell Cabernet Franc Anjou (AOC) 2017, 13%

RRP €43.99 - The Corkscrew - Blackrock Cellar - The Ely Wine Store, Maynooth - 64 Wine

A pretty deep red colour with a  lighter rim. Aromas are fresh and intensely fruity. A terrific complexity on the palate but all’s in elegant harmony, that superb fruit and the fresh acidity, and that balance continues through the persistent and dry finish. Have liked this characterful variety since I spent a month in Chinon a few years back and this particular wine is Very Highly Recommended.

They say: This is certainly the direction in which we are trying to go. Healthy and balanced grapes, concentrated and vinified with finesse to tend towards delicacy and elegance. From red fruit to cooked fruit through black fruit, spices and a floral bouquet, this is a wine of beautiful complexity that invites indulgence. A velvety texture with silky tannins.


Pairings suggested are: Duck breast with red fruits or honey; Semi-cooked seared tuna and vegetables with butter sauce; Pan-fried chestnuts, chanterelles and quinoa…The best pairings are the ones that inspire you, and allow you to express yourself. Let your imagination run free…Serve at 16°C, do not hesitate to decant - good advice!

This was bottled on a “fruit day”, meaning that your Clau de Nell is not just organic but biodynamic. Think you may be interested in the info on their data sheet.

Age: vines from 45 to 55 years. Pruning: mixed Guyot Techniques: covering the vine stock with soil in autumn, ploughing-down in spring, tilling and natural grassing. Growing methods: biodynamic practices, infusions and plant decoctions, depending upon the lunar calendar. Yield: about 40 hl/ha Harvest: handpicking in 12 kg crates, sorting at the parcel when fully ripened. • Winemaking De-stemmed harvest, native yeast, 30-day maceration without extraction. Gentle cap punching, limited pumping over, infusion techniques. Pressing: slow and gentle pressing in a pneumatic press. • Maturing 12 months on fine lees in Burgundy casks (228L) used 5 to 7 times, followed by 6 months in vats. Bottling: without filtration or fining on a “fruit day.”

Terrazze dell'Etna, `Ciuri` Etna Bianco 2017, 13% 

RRP €26.99. - Grapevine - The Corkscrew - The Ely Wine Store, Maynooth

'Ciuri' is made from Nerello Mascalese,  an indigenous Sicilian red wine grape, in this case vinified 'in Bianco' without the skins. A similar if better-known example of the technique is used in Champagne to produce white from Pinot Noir, the blanc de noirs. The Ciuri is unoaked with great depth and intensity and wonderful length.

Pale straw is the colour, clean and bright. Fresh floral notes, exotic fruit too on the nose. Fresh and fruity (citrusy) and certainly minerally in the mouth. This youthful gem has been aged for six months in stainless-steel and then also in bottle before release. I don’t think you need keep it bottled up any longer. Just open and enjoy. Highly Recommended.

They say: From the volcanic soil of Etna comes this sapid and “high mineralised” wine. A unique wine characterised by a vibrant floral heart on the nose, a synthesis of the elegance of the grape, Nerello Mascalese, and the personality of the soil.

Professor Antonio Bevilacqua is an engineer by profession and has a very successful business, based in Palermo and Milan. He is very proud of his Sicilian origins, and in 2007 he decided to start buying land in Etna with a view to producing the best wines possible. 

Today he has 35 hectares of vineyard with another 20 that he rents and manages, all situated at an altitude of between 600 and 900 metres above sea level. This altitude ensures warm days and cool nights, while the volcanic soil is low vigour, ensuring wines of great intensity and a lovely perfume from low-yielding vines.

His consultant oenologist is Riccardo Cotarella, who has successfully managed to marry the delicate intensity of the wines from Etna with a freshness and definition that few others have achieved.

Monday, October 21, 2019

If strong winds are forecast, this is the wine that you need!

If strong winds are forecast, this is the wine that you need!

Breton Avis de Vin Fort Bourgueil (AOC) 2017, 12.5%, €21.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Immediately north east of the confluence of the two rivers (Loire & its tributary Vienne) you come to Bourgueil and appellations named after that town and its close neighbour St Nicolas de Bourgueil. Wine is so important here that there is a huge wine bottle outside the church in St Nicolas and a large bunch of grapes is a centrepoint on at least one roundabout. The reds here and in Chinon, across the Loire to the south, are often excellent. As the World Atlas of Wine declares: "For its quality, it is absurdly undervalued".

Cabernet Franc is the red grape in these parts and this is a slightly unusual example, made in the style of a Clairet (indicated on the label), a cross between a rosé and a red. 

Colour though is dark enough, mid to dark ruby. Aromas are of fresh red fruit. It is undeniably fresh and light on the palate, easy-drinking and something of a thirst quencher. Barely a trace of tannin, just enough to dry the lips a bit - and a pleasant finish to boot. This vin de soif is Highly Recommended for that picnic or a sneaky glass at lunch before returning to the daily grind. 

A husband-and-wife operation in the Loire Valley, Catherine and Pierre Breton, based in the commune of Restigné, have recently celebrated their 30th vintage and have built their reputation on making pure Cabernet Francs from Bourgueil and neighbouring Chinon using biodynamic viticulture and vinification.

The vineyards see ultra-intense organic care, no mean feat in this northerly clime though by no means unique either; they avoid chemical fertilisers and weed killers, restrict yields and harvest by hand. The Bretons use indigenous yeasts and their desire for “natural” winemaking comes through strong in their resistance to the use of sulphites, with typically just 10 mg/l added at bottling to many cuvées, although some are bottled without any sulphites at all. And they are bottled unfiltered. This one is raised in Grenier wood barrels until spring, bottled in April with minimal sulphur. There was a little bit of sediment in this bottle, nothing to worry about but you may prefer to decant.

The wine’s name is a reference to the maritime warning “Avis de Vent Fort” (meaning strong winds are in the forecast), and is a play on words to evoke the idea that if the weather is bad, one should sail back to shore and have a glass of wine instead.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Wines to enjoy. From the cool of The Loire to the heat of The Midi.

Wines to enjoy. From the cool of The Loire to the heat of The Midi.

Mirouze Ciel du Sud Rouge (Corbieres AOC) 2016, 14%, €20.10 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

A fifty fifty blend of Grenache and Carignan, this would be termed a LDR (light, dry, red) in Australia. The French winemakers, Mirouze, somewhat more poetically, call theirs “ a wine of light and natural thirst”.

Vin de Soif is another term, a wine you could drink with your lunch and then work away as energetically as ever during the afternoon, a bit like a farmhouse saison perhaps. So easy to drink, and easy to digest. A bit of sediment in the bottom of this French bottle, so perhaps best to decant.

Light wine or not, the colour is a tad darker than expected, close to a dark ruby. Quite intense fragrance, cherries and berries. And those summer fruits are prominent on the lively palate, round smooth tannins and some spice there too especially at the finish. 

The little vineyard, certified organic, in Corbieres is surrounded by garrigue. That means the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.

So there you are, one Highly Recommended wine, organic and very drinkable. Now, what have I lined up for the afternoon? 

By the way, they produce a white “cousin” called Sol Blanc, blend of Roussane (85%) and Vermentino.

Nicolas Reau “Pompois” Anjou (AOC) 2015, 12%, €25.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

When pianist Nicolas Reau switched from jazz and blues, the 22 year old went on to hit the high notes as a winemaker. Though not straight away. As in music, there is a long apprenticeship, but Nicolas was well on an assured path by the time he set up in the Loire village of Sainte-Radegonde, in the Anjou A.O.C. Appellation.

His estate (sounds much better than farm!) is called ‘Le Clos des Treilles’ and this Very Highly Recommended Pompiers is made from fruit produced by 50 year-old Cabernet Franc vines, grown organically. This wine spends 12 months in used oak barrels (used for 2 to 5 wines) without racking, so you won’t note much influence of the wood.

Mid ruby is the colour. Nose is somewhat complex, red fruit, herb and floral notes too. Palate is typical of the variety, light, fresh, fine tannins, sweet spice too and a good finish. Typical Loire acidity, so you’ll find it a versatile food wine, meat, cheese and vegetables all on its hit list.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Satellite Merlot

Satellite Merlot. Lussac Saint-Emilion
Chateau Haut-Jamard 2011, 12.5%, €8.00.
Chateau Busquet 2008, 13%, €13.35.
Chateau Lucas, Grand Cuvée de Lucas Cuvée Prestige 2010, 14%, €12.35.

You like Merlot in a Bordeaux blend? But how much of it?

If you buy a bottle in Lussac, one of the four satellite towns of St Emilion, you’ll have a choice. Take the three bottles above, for instance. All are from Lussac and all have Merlot but the amount in the blend ranges from 50% in the last to 80% in the first!

Generally you won't know from the bottle. In a conversation with a French wine worker in the Dordogne a few years back, it was suggested that France had lost out in world markets because it didn't have the variety on the label. The man, a Serb who had settled locally, was fed up with such suggestions. “Around here we can use up to 13 varieties. How are we going to get all of them on the label?” A not unreasonable reaction.

But things could be changing. Chateau Lucas had the blend on the label and it was fifty fifty Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Jamard is 80 Merlot, 15 Cab Sauv and 5 Cab Franc while Busquet is 60 Merlot, 30 Cab Franc and 10 Cab Sauv. Quite a difference between the three.

Must say I preferred the Lucas and not just because of its motto: Sans Ceres et Bacchus, Venus est de glace. My translation: Without Ceres (food) and Bacchus (wine), Venus (love) is ice. We need a little of all three. In any event, I would be disposed to a wine in which Merlot and Cab Franc are major constituents.

And some love has already been expended on this wine as it comes with three silver medals to its credit. Harvesting is manual and they've come up with a near perfect blend, full and balanced and generous of flavour, with a lovely long finish.
Who's for the washing up?
The Haut-Jamard is the youngest of the three and quite a pleasant wine. On the palate it is round, tannins present but quite soft and again the finish is long.

All three are aromatic, the Busquet perhaps a bit more pronounced. This is smooth and mildly spicy, really well balanced, the tannins present but almost unnoticeable.

All three were bought last month in the Maison des Vins in St Emilion itself. While the blend info does not generally appear on the bottles, they had mini-info cards mounted alongside each bottle that gave the breakdown and other info such as the appellation and the soil type.

The other three satellites of St Emilion are Montagne, Puisseguin and St Georges. “At their best, the wines from these areas are every bit as good as a Saint-Emilion grand cru. At their worst, they are attenuated and rustic.” I quote from the Wines of Bordeaux by Clive Coates. This was published in 2004.

Rustic is often used when speaking of lesser known appellations, often applied to the likes of Listrac and Moulis as well. But times have changed as Coates noticed in 2004 “the last few years have seen an encouraging increase in quality”.

Indeed, he also had good things to say about the Lucas wines. And the prices are attractive. Three bottles from the satellites cost me €33.70 while three from main AOC came to €64.75, not a very scientific comparison admittedly. But do watch out for quality good value wines from Lussac in places like Mitchell’s, Curious Wines, Tindals and Le Caveau.

* By the way, I have updated the 2014 list of favourite wines here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Really Old Vines and just about old vines! From the Loire.

Really Old Vines and just about old vines! From the Loire.

Have been doing a bit of work (drinking!) on the subject of old vines and, in general, it seems that, other things being equal, it is worthwhile paying something of a premium for the wines from the gnarled old vines. With that in mind, why not try a few and compare them with a regular wine from the same vineyard, which is often possible. I’ve been doing that over the years and have regularly come down on the side of the wine from the older plantings.

But what is old? Twenty five years, fifty years. The experienced wine commentator Mary Dowey reckons it has to be “forty years at least” and cautioned that not all varieties benefit from age. “It doesn’t do anything for Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot but Grenache is well suited.” The main benefit is an “intensity of flavour, really concentrated”. 
Pony on left is not interested in wine!
Vignes Centenaire de Minière, Bourgueil 2009, 13.5%, €19.00 at the château.
Colour is a dark ruby and the aromas are of dark fruit. It is refreshing and concentrated, with a strong element of dark fruit flavours; it is smooth, rich with hints of spice and has an excellent dry finish.

The local pony club, at least the adults on the party, were finishing an outdoor tasting when we pulled into sunny Chateau de Minière in the heart of the Bourgueil appellation last summer. After a pleasant hour, maybe two, we finished off our tasting under the shady trees with this wine made from the local stalwart, Cabernet Franc. Loved it then and love it now.

The fruit comes from vines that average more than 100 years old and it has spent two years in oak. The grapes are hand harvested and hand sorted, all under the direction of wine-maker Eric Goujat. Belgian couple, Kathleen and Sigurd, took over the chateau a few years back and have the vineyard in conversion to organic, a process that is almost complete.

Wines that are labelled VieillesVignes (generally more than 30 years old) can command a premium. This is the château’s most expensive wine but worth it, I think. Not all  vines are suitable for long age but Cabernet Franc seems to do well on it in this area!

In the cool cellars of Montplaisir (Chinon)
Domaine de L’Abbaye Vieilles Vignes Chinon 2008, 12.5%, €7.50 at Cave Montplaisir in Chinon.

Aromas of pepper and spices and dark berries are a feature here. On the palate it is refreshing and fruity, with engaging fruit flavours and a lingering dry finish. A very Cabernet Franc and good value too, at least in France!

According to the current World Atlas of Wine, the wines of Chinon are “absurdly undervalued”. That opinion is reinforced by the quality and price of this bottle.

The vines are single varietal Cabernet Franc over 35 years old. It is aged in the cellars in oak barrels for about 12 months depending on the vintage. 

Find out more here 

Anjou Blanc Vieille Vignes 2009, €15.00 at Chateau Soucherie
A tasting at Chateau Soucherie saw us start with two classy wines, the Anjou Blanc Vielles Vignes 2009 and the more expensive Savennières Clos des Perrières 2010. Could have spent more time with these two but, on the initial tasting, put my money on the Vieilles Vignes (and even more of it on the Chaume that we came to later on).

The Vieilles Vignes was another winner  for the old vine brigade. “A unique wine from vines of more than 80 years, rich and round, delicious as an accompaniment to veal stew.”

Probably should have bought more of it as, on our way out to the car in the baking parking area, we were told that the 80 year old plants had been dug up and this was the last of the old stuff! So, if you do come across it, do buy some and include one or two for me! I have none left now and indeed I seem to have mislaid my notes on it. But it was a beautiful well balanced wine, another confirmation for me that wines from old wines are worth exploring!

You may check out the Château’s tasting notes (by Olivier Poussier, once voted the Best Sommelier in the World!) here.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Friends at my Table. West Cork Paella

Three Friends at my Table
West Cork Paella
I had three friends at my table for Saturday night dinner. Well, not really. But I did have the fantastic produce from Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, West Cork’s Anthony Cresswell and the Loire’s Sebastien du Petit Thouars.

Anthony’s Ummera Smoked Chicken, bought in the Brown Thomas Food Emporium, was the main ingredient of the main dish. Ummera is the only Irish producer of smoked chicken and we used it in a special recipe by Clodagh McKenna: West Cork Paella.

When checking the list of recipe items, we found ourselves short a few and that led to a tour of the local shops. Supervalu had the Risotto Rice but no Chorizo. Coolmore, our local butchers, were out of a possible substitute, O’Flynn’s Gourmet Mexican or Italian Sausage, so we ended up in Aldi and got a Spanish Chorizo. Hard, if not impossible, to get Desmond cheese these days so Castlemary Farm’s award winning Goat Cheddar substituted and played  a blinder!

Indeed, though I forgot the lemon wedges,the whole dish was excellent, full of great flavours. You can take it will be done again, this time with the Gubbeen chorizo! So well done to Anthony for the chicken and to Clodagh for the recipe! This link will also take you to four or five other recipes for the smoked chicken.

Chateau du Petit Thouars . Is that a Cork car in front?

Jack and Timmy McCarthy are doing great things in Kanturk with Irish charcuterie and we started with a platter. Highlight here was their non-smoked Pastrami with special peppers. Simply outstanding and well worth getting your hands on.

We met Sebastien du Petit Thouars at his Chateau in the Loire in August and enjoyed a couple of visits. We had a great tasting with Sebastien, Darcy and their baby daughter Elizabeth, and one of the wines we brought home was his Selection 2009. This is a superb Cabernet Franc and one of the matching recommendations on the label was for curry. So why not Cloadagh's paella, we thought! And, glad to say, it worked a treat.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lovely welcome and wines at 17th century Chateau du Petit Thouars

Day 4
Lovely welcome and wines at 17th century  Chateau du Petit Thouars
In the vineyard today with Sebastien du Petit Thoaurs
 Built at the same time as Cardinal Richelieu was building his nearby model town, the 17th century Chateau de Petit Thouars  was our destination today. We were warmly welcomed by Sebastien and Darcy and started with a walk through the vineyard, planted in 1975, and which escaped the early summer hailstones that caused havoc in other parts of the Loire this year.

Cabernet Franc is the grape here for reds, roses and a Cremant de Loire which I’m now sipping as I type. But this year, for the first time, Sebastien will harvest Chenin Blanc and he is really looking forward to the results of that.
Cabernet Franc
 In from the sun then to the cool of the cellars, mainly caves excavated in higgledy piggledy fashion but since adapted to the use of the wine-maker with a temperature almost always at an ideal 12 degrees.

Since its rebirth in 1975, the vineyard has grown to a 15 hectares (30 acres) estate. The winemaker is Michel Pinard, who built his well-deserved reputation working for more than ten years with the famous Chinon winemaker Charles Joguet. 
The Chateau's top wine
 The subsequent tasting left us in no doubt that superb wines, from the 2009 Selection to the Amiral (24 months in oak, including one change of barrel) of the same year, are being made here. No wonder they are winning awards and are being sold both in the France and Belgium and in England and the US, and China is on the horizon as well. How about Ireland?
Sipping this lovely sparkler right now.

Superb example of Cabernet Franc
Earlier we had visited the nearby Château in Montsoreau.  The remains of the 15th century building, the setting for an Alexandre Dumas novel of murder most foul (Le Dame du Mortsoreau), provides a terrific view over the coming together of the Loire and the Vienne rivers and over the village itself, designated a village fleuri.

Boat on the Loire at Montsoreau

Meeting of the waters: the Vienne (right) is taken over by the Loire.

Château in Montsoreau
Earlier we had visited the nearby Château in Montsoreau.  The remains of the 15th century building, the setting for an Alexandre Dumas novel of murder most foul (Le Dame du Mortsoreau) provides a terrific view over the coming together of the Loire and the Vienne rivers and over the village itself, designated a village fleuri.
Enjoying the pool in the evening sun.

Today also we sorted out one of the priorities of holidaying in France, this to find a good traiteur. These shops can give you a taste of France at a much cheaper rate than restaurants. We found one here in Chinon (it was closed yesterday). From the Aux Delices du Terroir, on rue Marceau, we bought some rabbit in a Basque sauce which just needs a little reheating in the microwave. Looking forward to that now, with a glass of Sebastian’s Selection 2009!