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

Monday, May 13, 2019

Four Super Wines from Mary Pawle


Four Super Wines from Mary Pawle Wines

Maison Emmanuel Giboulot Bourgogne (AOC) 2016, 11.5%, €30.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This wine is organic and biodynamic, as are many of the wines that Mary Pawle imports. So nothing new there.

Except that, as recently as 2014, this winemaker Emmanuel Giboulot was fined and threatened with a jail term for sticking to his principles. He was convicted for refusing a government order to spray crops with pesticides, following fear over an outbreak of golden rot, only to have the decision reversed on appeal. Prison rather than poison.

This is quite a wine with a lovely light gold colour. Delicate aromas of white flowers. A velvety mouthfeel, beautiful intense fruit (stone, citrus) from start to long finish. Excellent bright minerality too. This elegant wine is superbly balanced and is Very Highly Recommended.

Emmanuel met the problem of agricultural practices and its impact on wine and human health head on and is now a prominent advocate for organic and biodynamic viticulture. His wines reflect his principles and the widely acknowledged exceptional Burgundy terroir. Enjoy this one!   As we celebrate Real Wine Month.

Maison Emmanuel Giboulot “Terres Macônnaises” Mâcon-Villages (AOC) 2016, 11.5%, €30.00 Mary Pawle

Sometimes, I have very little to say about the better wines - they speak for themselves. This is one such. It is 100% Chardonnay and biodynamic. Colour is a very bright light gold. There are appealing aromas of white fruit, blossom notes too. Superb fruit (pear and apple), a refreshing acidity, and that balanced mix takes you all the way to a long and satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Grapes are hand-picked and sorted. The whole bunch is pressed and cold settled for 24 to 48 hours. The light must is fermented in old oak tanks. Before being bottled, it is aged on fine lees for 11 months.

The Mâconnais wine region is in the south of Burgundy and takes its name from the town of Mâcon. It is best known for its Chardonnays. 



Hemingway was quite a lover of these wines as he disclosed in A Moveable Feast. On a drive up from the south of France with Scott Fitzgerald, they enjoyed a packed lunch which included truffled roast chicken and he reported that Scott was very happy when we "drank the white Maconnais at each of our stops".  Later on that day, "At Mácon I had bought four bottles...which I uncorked as we needed them." No breath-analyser in those roaring twenties.

The French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann was born and raised in Mâcon but was deemed too small to play for Lyons so headed for Spain where he is now earning about €400,000 a week with Atletico Madrid. Since I didn’t have to say too much about the excellent wine, I thought I’d throw that in!
                   

Dit Celler “Selenita” Montsant (DO) 2008, 14.5%, €17.00 Mary Pawle Wines
Biodiversity in the vineyard
This powerful red is a blend of Garnatxa, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mary Pawle: “If you are fond of the wines from Priorat then you should enjoy the Montsant wines from the opposite valley.”
Priorat is a region in Catalonia, Spain. The central part of the region, Priorat històric, produces the highly-regarded wines that are certified under the DOQ Priorat. Wines from elsewhere in the region are certified as DO Montsant.

So now that we know about Montsant, how about the name of the wine? The Selenita are the inhabitants of the moon and the producers infer that some of their night-time magic has been bottled. You too are free to use your imagination! While we’re on it, the winery is named after its founders Dani Sánchez (from Azul y Garanza in Navarra) and Toni Coca, so D and T (DiT).

Wine-Searcher says Montsant, an approved wine region only since 2001, has earned a reputation for its high-quality red wines. This dark ruby offering is one of them. It is lighter at the rim (still very narrow, even after ten years). The legs are certainly slow to clear, confirming the high abv. Intense dark fruit aromas (plum, cherry, cassis), toasty notes too. Powerful yet velvety on the palate, elegant, deeply flavoured and tannins by now well-integrated (you’ll get a soft reminder on the lips), smooth spice, and the long finish echoes the palate. A big hug of a wine and Very Highly Recommended.


Mas Théo Gemeaux Vin de France 2016, 13.5%, €17.20 Mary Pawle

The little-known Grignan-les-Adhémar AOC growing area lies to the south of Montélimar (a Rhone city famous for its nougat). Planted among fields of lavender and thyme or olive groves, on land long famous for its truffles, the vines soak up the scents and aromas distilled by the generous sun of the Drôme provençale and it is in the heart of this area that you’ll find Mas Théo. Mas by the way means farmhouse; Mas de la Dame near Baux de Provence is another example. This AOC is between the northern and southern Rhone and is regarded as southern.

This “delicious and crunchy” wine is a blend of Carignan (60%) and Mourvedre (40), is organic and biodynamique. Recommended serving temperature is 14%.

It has a very dark red robe and you’ll find blackberries and notes of the garrigue in the aromas. It’s nice and smooth on the palate, has excellent acidity, medium to full bodied, smooth tannins and a good finish. Highly Recommended.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Two Very Enjoyable Reds from Bordeaux.


Two Very Enjoyable Reds from Bordeaux.

Larose Perganson Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois (AOC), 2007, 13%, €26.20 Karwig Wines

A keen sense of anticipation as I opened this one, pulling out a cork that had been there for about eleven years. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot and has been one hundred per cent raised in oak (40% new).There is no let-down here, quite the contrary. I decanted for an hour as advised and served somewhere close to the 16-18 degrees on the label. 

Colour is a dark ruby with lighter rim; legs are slow enough to clear even if the abv is not that high. Ripe fruit aromas (blackberries, blackcurrants), a touch of chocolate too. Ample and fleshy, classic and elegant, spicy too, soft and well integrated tannins, a superb finish, fruity, smooth, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended. Look out too for the 2010 as it is supposed to be even better!

Pair with hard cheese, grilled lamb or a juicy steak.

Cru Bourgeois is an evolving classification: Since 2010, the official selection has been published annually. Criteria: The quality and value of red wines produced in one of the eight Médoc appellations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. 

Each year, between 243 and 278 properties, often family-owned, form the Crus Bourgeois Alliance, accounting for more than 40% of the Médoc's production. From the 2016 vintage, there are three tiers of quality; Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. It is an evolving system! Read more about it here. 

Chateau Turcaud Cuvée Majeure Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Stéphane Le May of Chateau Turcaud

This award winner from the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers has quite a dark ruby robe. A great bouquet of ripe cherry and berry, smoky notes too. Intense flavour, a touch of sweet spice, tannins are very soft, superb character and it has a lovely lingering finish. Well balanced, well made. Well, try it! Very Highly Recommended.

It is a Bordeaux Supérieur and is, as is usual in these parts, a blend. The grapes are Merlot (about two thirds) and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged for about 15 months in oak barrels (new barrels and ones used for 1 or 2 previous vintages).

Chateau Turcaud recommend pairing it with full-flavoured meats such as rib of beef, game, duck breast, and strong cheeses. and say it is best decanted one hour before the meal. The wine name comes from the Sauve-Majeure Abbey that overlooks the vineyard and that I had the pleasure of climbing a few years ago, all of its 159 steps.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Spanish Duo with Mary Pawle Wines


Azul y Garanza Desierto Navarra (DO) 2012, 14.5%, €39.00 Mary Pawle

The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of some 42,000 hectares in southeast Navarre. The soils are made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and have been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, called cabezos. 

This superb wine is named after the desert. Yet the vineyard itself is the exact opposite of a desert. They have planted different species of vegetation, such as aromatic plants, shrubs, and fruit trees (the greater the assortment, the better), but using only indigenous varieties. The vines occupy just 37% of the total available land area. Mono-crop cultivation is avoided; there is room and shelter for all kinds of life.

And here, in Ribera Alta, a warm area as you can imagine,  they produce this 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Colour is an intense ruby, the legs slow to clear. Aromas are of ripe dark fruit, plums, blackberries included, also notes of vanilla. Deep and dark flavours in the full bodied wine, dense, touch of spice, warming, powerful and smooth with a long and very satisfying finish. A superb wine and Very Highly Recommended.

“Wild-natured vines, full of biodiversity and astonishingly beautiful; organic and endowed with special faculties which result in one-of-a-kind wines. Wines which are a clear reflection of the place they come from.” And the purity of the nearby desert gives the vineyard the advantageous pathway to produce this bio wine without too much trouble. Perhaps the biggest human intervention is its 15 months in French oak.

Navarra, for a long time now, has been criticised for its use of French grapes but, according to Wine-Searcher, “is beginning to attract attention for its high quality red wines made mainly from the Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varieties after years of being overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Rioja".

Founded in the year 2000 by Fernando Barrena Belzunegui, Azul y Garanza is a family winery, located in Carcastillo, with its own vineyards in the area called La Cañada de los Roncaleses, at the entrance to the extraordinary desert of the Bardenas Reales, the largest in Europe. . Thanks to this location, the vineyards enjoy ideal conditions for obtaining quality grapes: a very poor soil and an extremely dry climate, with strong thermal contrasts between day and night. The winery continues, since its inception, the principles of organic farming.



Osoti Crianza Rioja (DOC) 2013, 14%, €17.50 Mary Pawle Wines

Quite an exceptional blend of Tempranillo (85%) and Graciano organically grown grapes. It has a deep cherry colour, tears slow to go. Rich fruity aromas plus hints of the oak. Fruity and very very dry. Red and darker fruits feature in a power-packed palate and that keen acidity balances it all nicely. And no slackening off at all in the persistent finish. Very satisfactory rounded wine and Very Highly Recommended.

The wine has been aged in barrels for 12 months. Sediment spotted, so probably best to decant.

A few sentences from the website that I like:
“We continue the ritual that has not changed in thousands of years. The grapes are picked by hand and taken to the winery with care, as if they were treasure.
We put the wine in oak barrels where they wait in silence, at the correct temperature, until they turn into a wine that condenses the meaning of La Rioja in a bottle.”



"We take advantage of other herbs and plants to protect the vines and enrich them."

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Cecchins of Mendoza; Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon


The Cecchins of Mendoza 
Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon

According to Wines of South America, The Cecchins of Maipú, Mendoza, are a third generation wine family with a very strong focus on Carignan (though also well-known for their Malbec). They use horse-drawn ploughs and native yeast. The plots in their 27 acres of organic vineyards are bordered with aromatic plants to attract animal pests away from the vines.  If you’re lucky enough to visit and dine in their restaurant, you’ll see the fruit, walnuts and olive oil, all organic, are grown on the farm.

Familia Cecchin Carignan, Mendoza (Argentina) 2015,  13%, €18.50 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The Cecchin Carignan has a purple colour, with a lighter rim. Earthy and savoury scents outweigh the expected fruit. On the palate, the fruit is the main element, a touch of spice too, tannins well integrated, no shortage of acidity and a lengthy finish. Light and refreshing and Highly Recommended.

Carignan is used mostly in blends, particularly in the Languedoc. It is rarely enough seen solo. Suggested food matches include Peppery Catalan sausage,  Spicy lamb meatballs, and Aubergine lasagne.

Familia Cecchin Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza (Argentina) 2015,  13%, €18.50 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Fairly deep ruby red colour. Moderately intense aromas (black berries, cassis). No oak has been used. Straightforward Cabernet Sauvignon character on the palate, fresh and fruity and full bodied, full of vitality and noticeable acidity, good tannin structure and excellent length. This is a very dry wine, not at all related to the regular South American fruit bombs, and Highly Recommended.

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely grown grapes and this Mendoza effort is really good value especially when you see that the Screaming Eagle version from the Napa Valley will, according to Wine-Searcher, cost you over €3,000 a bottle! 

By the way, Wine-Searcher suggests Fillet steak with foie gras and truffles; Beef wellington with honey roasted carrots; Korean-style beef stir fried in garlic, soy and sesame, as a match for Cab Sauv.

Did you know that, in 1997, DNA profiling revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France?


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Out of Africa: A Wine and A Novel. “Inspiration” from the Rhone


Domaine de la Zouina Volubilia Rouge Classic Morocco (VDQS) 2012, 13.5%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

In 2001, two French golfers went to Morocco to play. A few stray shots later and they bought this estate. Gérard Gribelin (Chateau de Fieuzal) and Philippe Gervoson (Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion) knew their stuff, invested in their new 85 hectare vineyard and soon their Bordeaux experience was reaping rewards in Africa.

This Volubilia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), with Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo and has a mid to dark cherry colour. Nose is fairly intense with cherry, blackcurrant, meat and smoke. Big supple palate, juicy and fruity and just a hint of soft tannins, a touch of spice also. A velvety soft red with a long dry finish. 

Volubilis, a partly excavated Berber and Roman settlement and an UNESCO heritage site, is 45 minutes away from the vineyard and in this series of wines you’ll also find a white, a rosé and a gris. And that gris featured in the 2017 novel There was a crooked man  by Irish writer Cat Hogan. Both the wine and the thriller are Highly Recommended.

Domaine de la Ville Rouge “Inspiration” Croze-Hermitage (AP) 2015, 13%, €22.95 

This gorgeous youngish Syrah is organically produced, matured 12 months in stainless steel (80%) and in oak (20%). Try it, they say, with poultry, red meats ad cheese. I had it with a fairly young cheddar and it was perfect.

It has quite a dark red robe. Plum and spice on the nose, rather ripe plums. Fresh and medium bodied, that plum is an assertive character on the concentrated palate, good acidity though, close to smooth tannins, approachable and easy-drinking, yet with a certain elegance. Young or not, this is a fairly serious wine and Very Highly Recommended. By the way, no guarantee that a glass of Inspiration will lead to a novel!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three Handsome Reds! One in a Litre Bottle.

Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild

This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.

This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.

Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.

Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines

Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.

Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau

No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.

The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Classy Reds. Don't judge a book by the cover!

Three Classy Reds

Don't judge a book by the cover. The plain label on the Gamay could well lead you to believe this is a bottom shelf wine whereas it is anything but. Perhaps, especially if you bought bottom shelf Moroccan wines on French holidays years ago, you wouldn't be expecting a great deal from the Volubilia but it is a lovely surprise. And no surprise really with the Italian. You'd expect this to be good and it is very good indeed.


Clos du Tue-Boeuf Gamay 2015, Vin de France, 12%, €18.85 Le Caveau
Light red, fairly typical of the grape, is the colour of this natural beauty. The aromas are of strawberries and raspberries. On the vibrant palate, you'll find the same mix of fruit flavours, with a light tang of cider apples; it is light and fresh and smooth for sure, fine tannins and then a long finish.

The two Puzelat brothers, regarded, by Jamie Goode, as “natural wine royalty”, mature this for 4-6 months in large wooden vats. The organic grapes are bought in from trusted local winegrowers in the Loire. “The wines are quite unique, highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have a very strong personality.” That lively personality is very evident, pleasingly so, in this example and it is Very Highly Recommended. By the way, it is neither filtered nor fined, so do decant!


La Zouina Volubilia Classic Red, Morocco 2012, 13.5%, €22.95 Le Caveau

This is a relatively new French run chateau. Bordeaux know-how plus freedom to experiment has helped produce this excellent result from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Syrah, Mourvedre, and Tempranillo.

Colour is medium red. And the aromas include warm blackcurrant. It is medium bodied, smooth and fresh, well endowed with concentrated berry flavours, medium spice, fine tannins. It is well balanced with a long and juicy finish. A surprise from Africa and Very Highly Recommended.

Ascheri Coste & Bricco Barolo (DOCG) 2010, 14.5%, €47.00 (down to 30 in recent Fine Wine sale) O’Brien Wines

No surprise that this one was good as I had tasted it at the O’Brien Wine Fair in Cork. Nebbiolo is the grape here. Made from two select plots from Ascheri’s single vineyard, this is their top cuvée. 

The wine has spent 26 months in Slavonian barrels, six months in steel and a further nine in bottle before release. According to Grapes & Wines, Italian Nebbiolo ages better than those of California and Australia. And indeed the producers reckon this will last for 18 to 20 years if kept in a cool dark place.

I couldn't wait that long to tuck into this garnet coloured wine. Small red fruits feature in the aromas, also some herbal hints. It has a palate full of rich flavours, spice too and an acidity that helps put all in harmony. This elegant and inviting wine is Very Highly Recommended.


They, Ascheri, recommended matching it with hard mature cheese, pheasant, pigeon, roast lamb and beef, Mediterranean vegetables. I've tried and tested it here with Parmesan and Walnut crusted rack of lamb with roasted vegetables, the lamb bought at our local craft butchers, Davidson’s of Montenotte, Cork.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Hat Trick of Quality Reds

A Hat Trick of Quality Reds

Iniza 4 Cepas 2009, Vino de la Tierra Laujar-Alpujarra, 14%, €18.30 Le Caveau

Here’s a pleasant surprise for me, for you. Made organically by Bodega el Cortijo in the Almeria region of Spain, where summer days are hot and the nights cool, this was an unexpected beauty, an Almerian ambush of the most pleasant kind. It is a blend as you’ve probably guessed from the name and the four grapes are Tempranillo (30%), Syrah (40), Merlot (20) and Petit Verdot (10).

Colour is a dark red and the aromas are of red and darker fruits, spices too. It is full bodied, full flavoured, spice again, fine tannins, a lovely balancing acidity and long finish. An excellent wine and Very Highly Recommended. Great value too.

Quinta do Penedo Tinto 2010, DAO (DOC) Portugal, 12%, €17,25 Karwig Wines

Grown on granite soil that helps produce fresh and mineral wine, this is a good one. The blend is Touriga Nacional (70%) and the deep coloured Alfrocheiro. Foot-treading is employed before the wine is aged in used French and US oak barrels.

Deep ruby is the colour and the aromas speak of ripe dark fruits with slight spices notes there too. There is excellent acidity in this fresh well-balanced medium-bodied wine. Tannins are ripe and the finalé is soft and lingering. Highly Recommended. Possible food pairings: red meats, liver, salami and game.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (South Australia) 2014, 13.5%, widely available c. €13.00, €14.00
This wine is part of a rugby (union) linked promotional drive to mark the winery’s 50th anniversary. A message under the cap tells instantly if you’ve won a prize such as a Rugby Capital Weekend. Of course, you also get instant confirmation if you’ve lost! That was my fate and I felt the ball had fallen off the tee even before I got my kick away. Ah well, better luck next time I “chase the cap”.

The winery has long been producing very good wines under the Yellow Label, ten varieties in all, all meant to be “bright fruit-driven and full of flavours” and they certainly hit the target with this one which is Highly Recommended.


This dark red has ripe fruits (Cassis mainly) in the aromas. It is full of luscious dark fruit flavours but very well balanced. Some oak has been used in the maturation but it has been nicely judged, the effect subtle. Fine tannins and sufficient acidity to make it a good food wine - steak recommended!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Saturday is Cabernet Day. Two to enjoy!


Saturday is Cabernet Day
Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the Margaux appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”

The related Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon, celebrate their day this coming Saturday (September 3rd).

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most famous red wine grape. It is highly adaptable, will grow in different climates and soils. So expect good quality examples from many countries, especially from France (mainly Bordeaux), USA (California), Australia (below) and Chile (Cono Sur’s Silencio is a prime example, if an expensive one). Good Cabernet Sauvignon can pop in from anywhere, including from Craggy Range in New Zealand and Ernie Els in South Africa.

It is also a very well-known variety so its name on a bottle means that the customer has a familiarity with it and that gives the marketing people an immediate edge. No wonder it  sells well in so many countries.

But you still have to be careful. It is a high-yielding vine and that means producers can go for quantity over quality! So the words Cabernet Sauvignon on the label are not a guarantee of a good bottle. The two below though are good!

Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux and is grown all around the region, invariably blended (though there is no universal formula for the mix). Regular blend partners are Merlot and Cabernet Franc and sometimes a little Petit Verdot is added.

DNA profiling (should we all get it done? Maybe not!) has confirmed Cabernet Franc is the daddy of Cabernet Sauvignon and that Sauvignon Blanc is the mammy.


Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Victoria (AUS), 13.5%, €18.25 Wines Direct

For decades now, Australian has been associated with top class Cabernet Sauvignon. Margaret River in the west has outstanding examples. Our excellent example comes from the east, from the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria, one of the nation’s premier viticultural areas. Since 2012, Tahbilk Winery has been certified Carbon Neutral.

Nothing neutral about this violet beauty though. Blackcurrants, and some spice, feature in the pleasant aromas. Some serious flavours on a well rounded palate, tannins are fine and the finish is good. A excellent example indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Lalaurie T’Wines Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah, Pays d’Oc (IGT), 2015, 13.5%, €11.75 Wines Direct

Once upon a time, according to Grapes and Wine (2015), the classic Bordeaux blend included Syrah. This blend is very popular nowadays in Australia but the one we’ve got comes from much nearer home, from the Languedoc.

Bit wary of these funny wine names, this one coming because the two leading women in the winery are twins (and one is a marketing expert!). But I needn’t have worried. This is a very engaging wine and good value to boot.

It has a bright ruby colour and the aromas are mainly of blackcurrant. It is very approachable, medium bodied, well balanced between fruit and acidity, minimum tannin presence. Not the longest but a decent finish nonetheless. Easy drinking and easy to Recommend!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Superb French Chardonnay. And Meet Karwig’s Italians

A Superb French Chardonnay.
And Meet Karwig’s Italians


Château Martinolles Chardonnay Limoux (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €19.65 Karwig Wines

A superb wine from an intriguing historical Languedoc area. The Saint-Hilaire monastery actually used to adjoin the property, and it was there in 1531, that the method for making sparkling wines was discovered.

The fruit, one hundred per cent Chardonnay, is hand-harvested from old vines and is aged for 9 months in oak barrels (one-third new and two-thirds aged), a mixture of French and American oak. It is light gold in colour and you should find white fruits (quince and particularly lime) in the aromas. It is very impressive on the palate, intense in flavour and with a balancing acidity, elegant with a long finalé. A very pleasant surprise indeed and Very Highly Recommended.



Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2013, 13%, €23.50 Karwig Wines
This a bright ruby from the organic vineyards of Selvapiana. Ripe red fruits in the aromas. On the palate, it is vibrant, ripe and juicy, some spice too, tannins just about in play, a refreshing acidity. It is medium to full bodied, rather elegant, lively and long, rather moreish and Highly Recommended. Try it with pasta, steak and pork chops.


Rufina is one of the sub zones of Chianti. The usual advice is to buy your Chianti from Chianti Classico, the name given to wines from the original historic boundaries. But Wine Folly writes: Both Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina are likely to be of higher quality, since they are made in smaller quantities from distinct historical areas. This Rufina certainly underlines that point.


Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino, Terre di Chieti (IGT) 2015, 13%, €16.70 Karwig Wines


Okay. I haven't lost my marbles! I am talking about a wine, not the famous sheep's cheese of Italy. The Pecorino grape is so called because a bunch resembles a sheep’s head. That’s the winery's story. Another is that the bunches are a favourite treat for the sheep. Wine-Searcher.com says: Pecorino cheese is, coincidentally, a surprisingly good food match for Pecorino wine.


Making wine from native vines is a “point of pride” for Caldora. This hilltop vineyard overlooks a beach (Lido Riccio); on the summer nights, the fresh sea breeze allows a thermal range “fundamental for the complex aromatic structure of the wine”.


Color is quite a light straw yellow. White fruit aromas, herbal hints too, even a slight whiff of liquorice; fresh and crisp, dry and minerally, with excellent acidity and a  persistent finish. Recommended.


Conte Loredan Gasparini Cabernet Sauvignon, Montello E Colli Asolani (DOC) 2014, 13%, €17.25, Karwig Wines.


Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted vine in the area of Montello, a small hill 30 miles north of Venice. Half of this is aged in big oak barrels, half in stainless steel.


The colour is purple, deep and dark and there are blackcurrant aromas with hints of herb. Straight away on the palate you'll notice its freshness, its fruit flavours and then that lovely acidity (food is a welcome accompaniment here!). Tannins are fine and the finish is lengthy. This warm and soft wine is Highly Recommended.




Thursday, July 9, 2015

In Margaux Once. Must visit again!

In Margaux Once.
Must call again!

The vineyards of Margaux, on the south bank of the Garonne estuary (many Irish holidaymakers will know Royan on the opposite bank), grow mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The classic  blend is always a combination of these two “majors” and sometimes a little of Cabernet  Franc, maybe some Petit Verdot, more rarely Malbec and other old varieties.


According to the Maison du Vin de Margaux, where I bought the bottles below (along with some more!), Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”


Merlot brings roundness, generosity and complexity to the aromas. Cabernet Franc, much rarer, brings an extra touch of of elegance and suppleness while Petit Verdot produces wines “that are fairly rich in colour, fruit and tannins”.


The vines and the soil all play a part in making a Margaux and so does the climate of each year. “This variability, known as the effet millésime (vintage effect), is at the origin of variations in wines’ quality and expression.”


The variables will test the expertise of the winemaker who also has to contend with different harvest times for the different grapes. Merlot is first, then comes Cabernet Franc followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and then the Petit Verdot.

Take good care of your Margaux wines. They recommend “to open them one or two hours before service and present them in a nice carafe or decanter. Perfect service temperature is 19 degrees. Their finesse and subtlety show themselves in accompaniment with red meats or cheeses with delicate aromas”. Margaux wines are widely available in Ireland. Enjoy!

Some of my 2014 purchases
Chateau La Galiane 2009, 13.5%, 16.50 in Margaux

Gorgeous intense dark fruit aromas. Then there are rich fruit flavours, with a wee bit of spice, ripe tannins, and good balance. All in all, a classic well rounded Bordeaux with good structure and no little finesse, a lovely blend in which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the major grapes.

Chateau La Tour De Bessan Crus Bourgeois 2011, 13%, 20.30 in Margaux

Even more intense wave of aromas, slightly different to the Galiane. It is rich and complex, full bodied and, again, ripe tannins. Great flavours of red fruits in this smooth Cru Bourgeois. The blend here is Merlot (62%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (38%). A marginally better wine than the Galiane. It has spent 12 months in French oak and the average age of the vines is 25 years.

Labastide Dauzac 2008, 13%, €23.00 in Margaux

Garnet is the colour, the aromas full and harmonious. This is full-bodied, red fruits, some spice too, pleasant and smooth on the palate, and with a long finish. Again the classic blend of Merlot (57%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (43%) and Very Highly Recommended.

This is the second wine of Dauzac, made from younger vines. It has spent 12 months in oak (not all new) and, if I had to pick one from the three, this would be it.
Take your pick!
In a pioneering book on matching food and wine called The Head of the Household from his Cellar to his Table, conceived and started in a WW2 prisoner of war camp, the author Frenchman Roger Ribaud, knowing that the Bordelais had been trapping pigeons, recommended that they match their catch with a Margaux. (Source: Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup).