Showing posts with label Champagne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Champagne. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bubbles for your Valentine! SuperValu cut the price of courting.


Bubbles for your Valentine
With the saving on this Pierre Darcys champagne, you'll be able to buy the flowers as well. Double those brownie points!

If music be the food of love, play on, a famous bard wrote. Add a few bubbles though….

And it’s easy to do it these days as SuperValu cut the price of courting with a  selection of sparkling wines all reduced (you’ll have a few bob left over for the flowers) for the day of love. So go pick your Cava, your Champagne, your Prosecco. There’s even an alcohol free one.

Barciño Cava Brut NV, 11.5%, €13.99 (was 25.99) until February 13th.

This vibrant wine is named after Barcelona “the city we love”, say the producers. It is bottle fermented, using the Methode Traditionnelle, same as is used for Champagne.

It is a very light gold colour - see those non-stop fountains of bubbles rise. Modest aromas are light and fresh. The palate, with those fine bubbles, is bright and zesty and then that classic fresh bread finish. This lovely Cava will help start the celebrations as an aperitif. Why not try a few tapas with this well crafted wine?

Graham Norton Prosecco Frizzante 11%, €10.00 (was 12.00) until February 13th.
Light gold is also the colour here and again there are lots of bubbles but this time they don’t hang around. This is a Frizzante (gently sparkling) not a Spumante (fully sparkling). You’ll also note a different closure on it - use your normal corkscrew to get started.

While it is nowhere near as bubbly as the Cava, this calmer bottle is very very pleasant indeed. Graham’s light and fresh Frizzante could well turn a midweek party up a notch or two. Anyone for pizza and prosecco?

Two wandering Kiwis and the Irish comic are behind the GN wines, "honest....without the BS" they say. All of the previous GN wines are from down under and this Prosecco's an exception, made with 100% Glera grapes from the home of Prosecco in NE Italy.


The McGuigan Frizzante is also on offer, down to €10.00 from 14.99, again until the 13th. I remember Neil McGuigan introducing it at a dinner in the Trident not too long ago - he just loved getting the most out of the pronunciation!  

“It comes in a resealable bottle,” he said. “It is produced from Semillon grapes, it is easy drinking, for everyday”. Nothing wrong with easy drinking on Valentine’s either! It is fresh, soft, scented and grapey, with delicious lightness and good length. Best served chilled.


Pierre Darcys Champagne Brut NV 20 euro (was 49.99) until Feb 13th

IWSC Silver Medal 2015 (pictured top);  Judges' verdict: “Pale lemon-yellow, steady streams of small bubbles ; fresh, delicate aromas showing green apple and hints of red fruit behind, fresh bread; well-balanced with bracing acidity, richness across the mid-palate and lingering crisp finish. Harmonious wine.

Also on offer are the AG Blanc de Blancs and the AG Brut Rosé (each at €10.00, down from €17.99) and the non-alcoholic Freixenet Legero Sparkling at €7.00.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Sparkling New Year to you. Not forgetting Nollag na mBan



The only grape used in this stunning champagne is the black Pinot Meunier, leaving both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the other regular champagne grapes) out of this particular equation.

It has an inviting eye-catching light gold colour - the bubbles look even better! Aromas are light and fruity (strawberry). Light fruit on the palate also, refreshing and well-rounded, well balanced with a lip-smacking long finish with typical brioche (biscuity, like Marietta!) aftertaste.

The vineyard is planted on the privileged Epernay soil; Epernay is the capital of Champagne and also a town of artistic and historical importance. And, yes,Granzamy do blends of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Here, a small number of growers are concentrating their efforts into bringing Pinot Meunier back into the limelight as a variety which produces quality Champagnes and not just a varietal to compliment a blend. Granzamy is one of those growers.


Akarua Brut NV, Central Otago (New Zealand), 13%, €43.99 Tindal Wine Merchants Limited, Baggot Street Wines, Searsons Wine Merchants,The Corkscrew, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants WINEONLINE.IE
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the grapes used here and, yes, it may be New Zealand but this is made in the Methode Traditionelle, that is the champagne way, and it spends a minimum of 18 months ageing on yeast lees. 

A serious contender then with an inviting gold colour and very good small-bubble flow. Aromas are floral, savoury and that brioche is there too. It is almost creamy in the mouth followed by that long crisp brut (dry) finish.

Sparkling wines are a relatively new operation of the vineyard but already Akarua has been bringing in the medals, mainly gold. This Brut NV (non vintage) is a fine aperitif wine and is ideal for celebrating with friends whenever and wherever you get together, be it New Year’s Eve, birthday or anniversary, or Nollag na mBan! If using it as an aperitif (it was outstanding here on Christmas morning), don’t forget to provide some nibbles - these bubbles go to the head faster than still wine!

Here’s another lovely bottle of bubbles from O’Brien’s. This is from Australia and is a rosé. Again, it is made by the Traditional Method (same way as champagne) and is a blend of selected vintages, hence the NV. 

Produced from Pinot Noir grapes, it comes in a gorgeous pastel salmon hue in which fountains of micro-bubbles constantly rise. There are delicate scents of strawberry and pomegranate. The palate is more intense than the nose, strawberry again and now cherry as well, and a pleasing refined finish and, along the way, you come across that bread-biscuit flavour. Another superb and delicious aperitif and, again, don’t forget those nibbles for yourself and your guests! Happy New Year.






Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €12.00 Aldi

Got this Brut (dry) at the local Aldi. I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, again made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, is perfect for any celebration (big or small). It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, that hint of biscuit and a fine finish. Good price too, bubbles on a budget.

French sparkling wines made by the méthode champenoise but falling outside the boundaries of the Champagne region are termed Crémant. Grapes other than the traditional Champagne varieties may also be used.They are produced in many regions of the country including Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Limoux, Alsace, and the Rhone (known as Crémant de Die).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Biodynamic Pioneer in Champagne Honoured. Tribute to Erick de Sousa.

Press release

In France, some of the world’s best wine-tasters and most refined palates met in Bordeaux to honour Erick de Sousa!

Last summer, the world’s best sommeliers paid tribute to the standards and quality of the champagnes produced by the talented de Sousa Champagne house.

Erick de SOUSA, with his pioneering of biodynamics and a constant search for ways to improve the quality of his Champagnes, now heads one of the best Champagne houses.
Champagne De SOUSA

High-level gathering
Erick de Sousa is recognised by
the best sommeliers in the world!
France - last summer, some of the biggest names in oenology met up in Bordeaux during the
professional master’s programme.
In June, some of the greatest sommeliers got together for an "historic" photograph.
From left to right, there is Philippe Faure-Brac, the world's best sommelier 1992, Claire Lurton,
who hosted the event, Markus del Monego, best sommelier (Germany) 1998, Serge Dubs (France)
1989, and on the back row: Raimonds Tomsons, this year’s happy winner, best sommelier in
Europe and Africa, next to Erick de Sousa, Paolo Basso (Italy) 2013 and Giuseppe Vaccarini,
world's best sommelier in 1978.
This high-level meeting, which has now placed Erick de Sousa among the world’s biggest names in
wine tasting, shows him to be recognised as one of the world’s best Champagne producers and
winemakers.
Champagne De SOUSA: Erick De SOUSA - Ph.: +33 (0)3 26 57 53 29
The rigours of organic production for natural excellence

It was back in 1986 that Erick De SOUSA, representing the third generation, took over the reins of the family business based in Avize, in the heart of the Côte des Blancs. His vineyard of 9.5 hectares brings together the finest Grand Cru Chardonnay classified vineyards (Avize, Oger, Cramant and Le Mesnil sur Oger) but also Pinot Noir (Ay and Ambonnay). Passionate about local produce and his region, Erick De SOUSA, helped by his children, has long been engaged in organic viticulture, refusing to use pesticides and fertilizers, but favouring natural active ingredients (plants and minerals) to protect the vines. One better, this strong supporter of natural practices is a pioneer of biodynamics, working some of the vines with a horse, using rock crystal to improve soil quality. A respect for vines and the land passed from generation to generation, which leaves its mark on de SOUSA Champagne and gives it its remarkable and noticeable qualities!

A Champagne house on the move!

- end of press release.

The house of de Sousa comes in for high praise also in Wine Revolution by Jane Anson, particularly the Mycorhize Grand Cru Extra Brut NV. "I can't recommend highly enough getting hold of this 100% Chardonnay fizz - or any of the Erick de Sousa range of terroir-driven Champagnes." The Mycorhize refers to the association between mushrooms and vine roots, a healthy sign.

Monday, December 29, 2014

No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End

No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End
There is no shortage of sparkling wine to see out the old year and to welcome the new, anything from an expensive champagne such as Krug to the inexpensive Prosecco below. The big selection gives you a good chance to get one to suit both your palate and budget.

Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut, €20.00 at SuperValu
Cava Brut Barcino, €12.00 at Supervalu
Griffon Prosecco Frizzante, €9.00 at SuperValu

These are just three from the SuperValu range. The champagne itself was put to the test here on Christmas Day and went down very well indeed. It certainly has got the usual characteristics, is crisp and well balanced and runs out quickly!

The Cava stood into the breach then and you'd hardly notice. No shortage of small bubbles here, the typical breaded nose and again fresh and zesty. Just the job at about half the price.

Prosecco has made a huge impact, not always good, on the sparkling wine scene and this friendly Frizzante is but one of many on the market. It is made in a different way with the secondary fermentation taking place in a bulk tank rather than in the individual bottle, hence the twine on the cork, rather than the more usual more robust arrangement! It is less expensive to produce than Spumante which undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. Don't delay too long with your glass of Frizzante as the bubbles don't hang around.

Carl Jung Sparkling White (de-alcoholised), €5.99 widely available
Superquinn; Dunnes Stores; Joyce's of Galway; Molloy's Off-Licences, Dublin; O'Brien's; Next Door Off-Licences; Supervalu nationwide; and good independent off-licences nationwide

With a few drivers among those calling to the house at Christmas, I thought this Carl Jung might come in handy. It sure did and drew a few compliments as well, showing that sparkling celebrations may be enjoyed without the alcohol. Actually, there is quite an intense rush of bubbles and no shortage of fruit in the palate. 


Oh, by the way, if someone says he’d prefer to drink tea, you can keep the sparkle going by offering him a glass of Mariko. Cheers!

Bouvet Saphir Saumur Brut 2011

No doubt that Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are the big three in sparkling wine. But there are many more from all over the world. We enjoyed a white and a rosé from Cono Sur during the recent blogging competition final in Paris and, speaking of France, the country produces well over twenty such wines aside from the well known champagne.  This is one of them, from the Loire and made in the same way as Champagne (méthode traditionnelle). It survived the Christmas and I'm looking forward to opening it on New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to you all.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Krug at Ballymaloe. Patience and perfection

Krug at Ballymaloe
Patience and perfection
Toast to the harvest! The Krug is served in its special Riedel glasses.
"Champagne is all about pleasure."
Nicole Brown got widespread agreement on her opening statement at Ballymaloe last Thursday evening. And that agreement was reinforced by the time the audience in the famous Cookery School had sampled the amazing Krug Grand Cuvée.


Nicole was in Ballymaloe, both as a visitor - she is on holiday in West Cork - and in an temporary extension of her role as the US Brand Ambassador for Krug Champagne. Ballymaloe’s Colm McCann was delighted with the visit and welcomed Nicole, who was accompanied by Adrien Combet of Moet Hennessy Ireland, and the rest of us to the first ever Krug tasting in Ireland!


Krug, perhaps the premier champagne house, was founded by Joseph Krug in 1843. With some previous experience of the trade and his own principles to guide him (detailed in a journal he started for his young son in 1848), he set about extracting pleasure from a difficult climate (200 days of rain per annum). The chalk soil though was and remains a huge factor in the champagne maker’s favour.


The boundaries of champagne have long been set (though there is a move on to extend them in the next year or so) and so the competition among the houses for the raw material, the grapes, can be intense. Very few houses have enough grapes of their own. Krug, with some contracts dating back to 1878, are loyal to their suppliers and it seems to work both ways.



Krug use 5000 small oak barrels (average age: 23 years) for the first fermentation. Repairs are constant but Eric Label, Chef de Caves, is determined not to use stainless steel at this stage.

The tasting committee - we are talking about the Grand Cuvée here - consists of six members charged with using their memories and tasting abilities, not to mention the legibility of their handwriting, to make the flagship wine as consistent as possible each and every time!

There is no magic formula here, just memory and taste, and taste again! Some 200 plus wines are tasted twice while the reserve still wines are tasted once or twice each year. No less than 5,000 thousand hand-written tasting notes are accumulated in Eric’s big black book and then consulted before the blend composition is finalised.

The final blend may consist of over 100 wines from ten or so different vintages (years)! The wine then matures in the cellars for at least six years. Memory, taste, and so much time! The patience of perfection.
Roast Guinea Fowl and those amazing Heritage tomatoes.
While champagne is the most regulated wine in the world, its workings are not always clear to the outsider. “Krug wants to be transparent,” said Nicole and pointed to the ID on each bottle. Download the APP and you’ll get the key info, including important dates, on the wine. Let’s check the Grand Cuvée in our hand. We see that no less than 142 still wines (some going back to 1990) were blended with the base 2006 wine and that it was aged for seven years on its lees.

The audience was now eager to taste and Colm and his crew obliged. Nicole: “The Grand Cuvée is unique, an incredible expression of champagne”. And so it is. The deep golden colour and the endless fountain of fine bubbles promise much as do the amazing aromas. And it is all delivered on the palate, full and yet fine, mature yet fresh. You won’t forget this one in a hurry.

The Krug Rose, first made commercially in the early 1980s, is crafted in much the same way as the Grand Cuvée, and includes Pinot Noir from La Cote Valnon “to make it pink. It is aged for five years and the reserve wines date back to 2000. It is amazing with cheese.” Krug offer five champagnes and all five are Prestige Cuvées.

Back in Ballymaloe House, at dinner, we were amazed at the versatility of the Grand Cuvée, matching everything from fish to fowl and not forgetting vegetarian. Ballyhoura Mushroom and Marjoram Bruschetta and Hot Buttered Ballycotton Lobsters featured in the starters while Poached Wild Blackwater Salmon, Roast free-range Guinea Fowl and Braised Ballymaloe Pork were among the mains listed.
Sunset finds Nicole and Adrien doing some field-work.
The gigantic tin whistle is the newest
addition to the FORM sculpture trail, showing all
summer long at Ballymaloe.
Cheeses included St Gall, Triskel Goats and Cashel Blue and here the Rosé was put through its paces. No problem!

It was a delicious well paced meal and one of the highlights was the Shanagarry Heritage Tomato and Basil Salad. Colm McCann had been talking this up all evening and, boy, was he right. This simple salad illustrates the essence of the Ballymaloe farm and kitchen. Here they start with simple and end with simply superb!

We dined with windows and doors open on this lovely summer’s evening. Walked out then to the front, the canopy of farmland darkness broken by a myriad of sparkling stars. The Milky Way, I saw. And then I thought. What a prosaic name. All that sparkle and the best they can come up with is milky! Why not The Champagne Way? Pourquoi pas?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Sweet Exception

A Sweet Exception

Chateau Tour de Calens, Graves Superieures 2010.


The big sweet wines of France are pretty well known. Sauternes will top most lists but next door in the Dordogne you’ve got Monbazillac. In the Loire, they’ll boast of their Layon and more. 

But the French do make many sweet wines, not all as intense as those previously mentioned, and you'll find gorgeous and versatile moelleuxs (semi-sweet), such as the white of Jurancon and the red vin doux naturel (naturally sweet) of Rasteau, all over the place.

I was up and down Bordeaux’s left bank a few times recently and, of course, a call to Sauternes (what a tiny little place) was on the cards. Before that though, I made a couple of visits to the Maison des Vins de Graves in Podensac and got educated.

While Sauternes (and its entwined neighbour Barsac) are on the left bank, their wines were not on sale in the Maison. But that doesn't mean there is no sweet wine produced in the rest of the area. Indeed, there are quite a few and they are labelled Graves Superieures.

I got to taste a few of the fifteen they had in stock, including Chateau Rougemont 2006 and Chateau Cherchy Desqueyroux 2011. Enjoyed both and also the winner of their 2013 Gold Medal for the category, Chateau Brondelle 2011.
But the one that caught my sweet tooth was the Chateau Tour de Calens 2010, the category winner in 2012. “This is the exception that proves the rule,” said my hostess as she poured. All the others are from land adjoining Sauternes or Barsac to the east (where you'd expect the Botrytis cinerea mould that gives the sweetness to occur) but the Calens is out on its own in the west. It is produced on the bank of the Gironde in the environs of the town of Beautiran, closer to Bordeaux itself than to Barsac. 

The Doublet family are the producers and offer both Red Graves (75% Cabernet Sauvignon) and White (a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon blanc). In exceptional years, “a few feet of vines, harvested in late fall, allow the development of the Graves Supérieures : a soft sweet wine with a rich palette of candied fruit”.

I bought a few bottles and one made it home. Sipping it now, the €8.80 I paid for the half litre was money well spent. But where will the replacement come from? Pretty sure it is not on sale in Ireland.

* There are a few ways of producing sweet wines. Noble Rot (Botrytis cinerea), as in Sauternes, is probably the best known. The other main method is Late Harvest (Vendage Tardive), used in Alsace for example. Read more on the subject here.

Two drinks events, cider and champagne.
* The multi-award winning Franciscan Well Brewery is proud to host its first Summer Cider Festival from 4th July to 6th July. Cider makers showing include MacIvors, Tempted Cider, Craigies, Cork’s very own Stonewell Cider and Little Island Cider and Scott's Irish Cider, to name but a few.   The Cider Festival will open at 2pm on Friday 4thSaturday 5th and Sunday6th
Admission is free.

On Thursday, 24th July, at 7.00pm, a Krug Champagne tasting with Nicole Burke, Krug USA Brand Ambassador, will be held in the Ballymaloe Cookery School (note venue). Contact colm@ballymaloe.ie for further details and bookings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Champagne Dinner at Greene’s

Champagne Dinner at Greene’s
Bruno Paillard comes to town
A dinner with a difference at Greene’s of McCurtain Street this week. Not alone was champagne served with each course but it was also used as an ingredient in each.

This marriage of the wine-making skills at Bruno Paillard and the cooking skills of Green’s French chef Frederic Desormeaux meant we enjoyed a super evening.

Scallop
François Colas of Bruno Paillard, who kept us informed on the wines, was loud in his praise of Fred afterwards: “He was able to read the wines, especially with the dessert.”

Fred was much too modest to take all the praise for himself and introduced us to his sous chef Veronica and also to Nicky, the man responsible for the excellent dessert.

Turbo
The evening got off to a terrific  start with a warm greeting from Sylvia and Collette of Greene’s and a glass of bubbly poured by Searson’s Damien Archer-Good (the man who covers Waterford, Cork and Kerry for the company). Not just any bubbly, mind you. This was the Brut Premier Cuvée, full bodied, well flavoured and balanced, all elegance in the glass and on the palate.

The starter was Pan-Fried King’s Scallops on Julienne of Leeks and Carrots, “Blanc de Blancs” Beurre Nantais. Under “directions” from Francois, we had a sip of the second wine, before we took a bite and the Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée did seem a little on the austere side.

But all that changed when we had a bite of the scallop and another sip. Now it had a different personality and we could endorse the opinion of a certain Robert Parker: “A fresh, bright sparkler, it will be found particularly successful if paired with food.”


Choucroute de la Mer
Two fish courses followed and gave us the opportunity to sample the first two wines again and, more importantly, to appreciate the different qualities of each. The Blanc de Blanc is 100% Chardonnay while the Brut is 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Noir.

The first fish course was Grilled Turbot served with baby carrots, baby fennel, baby courgette, baby leeks gratinated with “Rosé Premiere Cuvée” Hollandaise. Superb.

The second, which provided a stiffer challenge for the champagne, was Choucroute de la Mer: Monkfish, Natural Smoked Haddock, Mussels, Langoustine, Sauerkraut cabbage, Baby Turned potatoes, finished with Cream “Blanc de Blancs”. Some strong flavours there, especially from the haddock and the lovely sauerkraut, but the champagne was well up to it.

Dessert
Fred and Veronica
 And then for that desert: Winter Berries and “Rose Premiere Cuvee” Jelly, topped with raspberries Sorbet, Tuile. An absolute gorgeous desert and it went so well with the Rosé Premiere Cuvée, “a very hard wine to get consistent” according to Francois.

It is produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay “in secret proportions” and a rather difficult technical process gives its “unique fruity flavour and gorgeous copper-gold hue”. It has inviting red fruit aromas; even if blindfolded, you’ll know you have a rosé in your hand! And the palate is fruity and fresh. It is dry of course and hence the need to avoid serving it with sweet desserts. Fred and Nicky read that info correctly to come up with the perfect match!

Bruno Gaillard, who sold his car (a big one) to start making champagne in 1989, is a “baby” in the history of the famous wine but a baby who has made a major impact. Read more of the fascinating story here 


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SPARKLING EVENING COMING UP

Raise a glass of Champagne Lanson at Donnybrook Fair

Legendary Grand Marque Champagne Lanson visits The Restaurant @ Donnybrook Fair onWednesday 25th May at 7.45pm for a sparkling evening of fine Champagne and exquisite food in association with Tindal Wine Merchants. Tickets for this event are fantastic value at a mouth-watering €60 per person or €100 per couple.

Lanson’s Champagne Ambassador, Enguerrand Baijot, will guide