Showing posts with label Chardonnay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chardonnay. Show all posts

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Riesling to remember and a Chardonnay with a difference



Let the drums and trumpets sound for this outstanding German Riesling. The label does it well: A Riesling dry in style and well balanced like its Rheingau predecessors from the glorious age of Riesling a century ago: a contemporary classic and a perfect partner for many foods.

Don’t know anything about the Rieslings of a century ago but this light gold coloured wine is a gem for sure. Intense aromas of apple and pear indicate a good year in the Rheingau, a year for the grape to flourish. And that’s soon confirmed on the palate with its crisp acidity and yellow stone fruit (peach, apricot), a striking minerality too maintained to the persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended. No wonder Wilhelm Weil considers it as one of the best he has produced in 30 years (reported by none other than an enthusiastic Robert Palmer). 

You can hardly talk of Riesling without mentioning acidity and minerality. In his book Reading Between the Wines, Terry Theise says "Acidity is innate to the berry". "Minerality, " he continues, "is inherent to Riesling, because the variety is, in its essence, more mineral than fruit. The Riesling genre is one of a mineral-tasting wine into which are woven various strands of fruit, depending on site and vintage."

Fruity, tangy, yet charming and harmonious, you’ll find it this Weil typically versatile at the table. A couple of suggestions, one “a merry table companion to a wide range of cuisines” and another, this via Google Translate, “goes brilliantly with fried fish, poultry and Asian dishes. But even without banqueting - he can sip excellent …"


The Mornington Peninsula, just over an hour south of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, is perfectly suited to growing Chardonnay and “a foremost region” too for Pinot Gris”. Chardonnay here though, according to Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, “is markedly different from any other Chardonnay produced in Australia”.

Stonier was established here in 1978 and are noted for their Burgundian style cool climate wines. The vineyards overlooks the ocean. Chardonnay is a signature wine for Stonier and this is a gem.

It has a yellow colour, with green tints. The aromas are gentle, of exotic fruits. Even the background flavours are delicate with melon and citrus to the fore. There is excellent texture, a pleasant creaminess, and complementary acidity. And it boasts a long and distinctive finish too. Delicious and satisfying, this is well made, harmonious and Highly Recommended.


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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Superb Wines from Austria's Judith Beck


Superb Wines from Austria's Judith Beck
Beck Blaufränkisch 2016, 12%,€17.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This organic wine from Austria is produced by Judith Beck from the Blaufränkisch grape, the second most widely grown red grape in the country but not very well-known outside of it.

Colour is quite an intense red. Aromas of darker fruits (plum, cherry). Those dark fruit flavours are intense, spicy too, excellent acidity; tannins have a noticeable grip (nothing too serious though). This inviting medium-bodied wine, vibrant and refreshing, is Highly Recommended.

Since 2007 Judith Beck has produced wines in accordance with biodynamic principles. The winery is housed in an impressive airy new building in the middle of the vineyards from Gols. Now the emphasis is on refining the style whilst capturing the potential of the grapes. Judith is passionate about the traditional red wine varieties: Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. 
Le Caveau say that Judith is an impressively calm, thoughtful person and that sense of relaxation seems to transmit itself into her wines, which possess a lightness of touch not always apparent in this region.  

You can meet her Wednesday 15th May  at The Chocolate Factory, King’s Inn Street, Dublin 1, the venue for the “The Real Wine Fair”, a one-day wine fair celebrating artisan growers who farm organically and/or biodynamically in the vineyard and make wine with minimal interventions in the winery. 



Beck Chardonnay 2016, Burgenland Austria, 12%, €18.95  64 Wine DublinBradley’s of CorkGreenman DublinLe Caveau Kilkenny

Le Caveau, who bring the fabulous Judith Beck wines into Ireland, say the region around Lake Neusiedl is particularly suited to cultivate Burgundy varieties and provides optimum conditions for Chardonnay (most of the Beck wines are red). “Manual harvest, matured for 5 months on its lees, the wine has developed a tasty richness without losing any of its focus and brightness.”

Colour is a light start yellow. Fairly intense fruit on the nose (peach, apple), floral notes too and a mild hint of spice. Lively and delicious, full and creamy, acidity enough, and with a long dry finish. Harmonious from start to finish. Very Highly Recommended.Try with fish or poultry dishes or pasta or on its own.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

German Chardonnay. Italian Pinot Noir.


German Chardonnay. Italian Pinot Noir.
Danese Pinot Noir Trevenezie (IGT) 2017, 12%, €13.95 Karwig

Grapes and Wines (Clarke & Rand) recommend that Pinot Noirs from the “home” of Côte d’Or should be drunk young “within five years or so”. Our timing is good with this interesting one from Italy which has some pretty accomplished Pinot Noir producers.

Colour of this Danese is a very light ruby. Blackcurrants and raspberries feature in the aromas. Flavour seems to be in line with the aromas; they are moderately intense and you’ll find moderate spice also, quite dry, with subtle tannins,  and a decent finish. Easy drinking and got the thumbs up from a four person tasting and is Highly Recommended. Pretty good value too.

The Winery suggests pairing this medium bodied wine at 14 to 16 degrees with  Roast chicken , rack of lamb, served pink. Rare fillet steak and carpaccio. Roast pork with herbs and fennel. Chicken or turkey sausages. Mushroom risotto. In summer, you can serve it slightly chilled.




Kilian Hunn “Junge Wilde” Chardonnay, Baden (Germany) 2017, 14%, €18.30 Karwig Wine

Junge Wilde means young and wild and is a name of a series of wines by Kilian Hunn aimed to show off the potential of the Tuniberg vineyard. And  this, the label proclaims, is “an aromatic pleasure wine for many beautiful moments.”

It has an inviting light gold colour; lots of micro bubbles cling to the glass. Yellow stone fruit aromas, apricot to the fore. Quite a complex wine on the palate, richly flavoured, an excellent mouthfeel too (has spent three months on the lees) and a long dry finish (you’ll note the trocken on the label). A very interesting German Chardonnay indeed and, as they say themselves, an excellent “Maul voll Wein” (mouthful of wine) and Highly Recommended.

Try with poultry, fish, white meats, pasta, seafood, vegetables (including asparagus), soft cheese.

Karwig also carry other Kilian Hunn wines including Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Spat Burgunder (Pinot Noir).




Monday, January 7, 2019

Mary Presents Another Excellent Double!


Ferraton “Calendes” Rouge 2015, Crozes-Hermitage (AOC), 13.5% abv, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

Calendes is the name for the day of the new moon and an indication of time passing, an indication also that the winemaker is guided by the lunar cycles. This Biodynamic wine is one hundred per cent Syrah. The barrel ageing (20 to 30% in new oak) lasts about 12 to 14 months depending on the vintage.

It has a deep ruby colour. Ripe red fruits on the nose. Smooth and rich too on the palate with a strong waft of spice; it is ample and generous with delicate tannins and a slight hint of vanilla and the lengthy finalé also features ripe fruity notes and spices. 

They advise decanting about one hour in advance; must admit I didn’t do that. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Wines from Hermitage itself are of course the most sought after in this Northern Rhone area but you can find some good ones too in the much larger Croze-Hermitage and this is one of them. Very Highly Recommended.

According to an official Inter-Rhone information booklet, these reds in their youth combine well with delicatessen meat, lamb or roasted guinea fowl. On maturity they are the perfect accompaniment to casseroles, coq au vin, rich beef stew, beef in red wine etc. 

La Marouette Blanc Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €13.50 Mary Pawle.
Sans sulfite ajouté is proudly displayed on the front label of this organic wine, one hundred per cent Chardonnay and new to the Mary Pawle list. Mary says this is “eagerly awaited” with pleasing aromas of pineapple and honey. Well rounded and supple in the mouth and a good match with fish, chicken or salad dishes. 

It is produced in the heart of the Pays d'Oc in the South of France. The vinification is done at low temperature for a good conservation of the aromas. Jacques Frelin Vignobles, formerly La Maison des Terroirs Vivants, is a major French player in organic wine.

It has a lovely light to mid-gold colour. The aromas, gentle tropical fruit, are reasonably intense. And there’s a similar persistent intensity on the palate, pineapple to the fore, fresh and with a delicately buttered body and the finish is good too. Highly Recommended. Good value also by the way. Serve between eight and ten degrees. Ideal as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to fish or shellfish.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Three of the Best from JN Wine


Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2016 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

This James Nicholson import is a very popular wine and you’ll see it on quite a few restaurant lists. It is a dark ruby colour, the legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits (plums, blackberries) feature in the enticing aromas, also a touch of vanilla. That fruit is also there on the vibrant palate, a drift of spice too, smooth with silky tannins, well balanced and with an excellent finish. This full-bodied dry wine is Very Highly Recommended. 
It is mainly Syrah (86%) and the other grapes in the blend are Mourvèdre (13) and Viognier (1). It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak prior to blending and bottling.

According to The Wine Advocate, Boekenhoutskloof is the only outstanding South African wine estate. The reputation of the winery is built as much on the outstanding value of the everyday wines as it is on the quality of the flagship bottles. This is an outstanding example of one of their everyday wines - the Wolftrap white is another beauty - and goes well with steaks and barbecued meats.

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2017 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online


Boekenhoutskloof was awarded 2012 Winery of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine Guide. This Wolftrap white was also accorded Superquaffer of the Year status in the Guide.

I didn’t know that when I first came across it at a Fish Banquet in Ballycotton’s marvellous Bayview Hotel in September last, enjoyed with a dish that had a quirky title: My Ding A Ling! Better explain this was Torched Ling with Salt Baked Celeriac, Little gem, Hazelnut & Gubbeen Pesto, Smoked Skeaghanore Duck-breast,  a superb combination. And this vibrant wine here made a terrific impression at the table and, with its fantastic aromas and flavours, proved a great match.

It is an unusual blend of Viognier 48% (for spice), Chenin Blanc 41% (melon) and Grenache Blanc 11% (white peach), all contributing to the experience. The different grapes are fermented and aged partially in French oak before blending and bottling. 

It has a very clean light yellow colour with green tints. Pleasant white/yellow fruits, plus floral notes, feature in the inviting aromas. Fresh and fruity, unexpected depth in this elegant body, a lively acidity all through and then a lip-smacking finish. Superquaffer indeed and Very Highly Recommended. Excellent value also.

The name goes back to the early days of the European pioneers who erected a wolftrap. To date, no wolf  (an animal of the northern hemisphere, though there is a relation in Ethiopia) has been seen in the valley!

Domaine Bellevue Chardonnay Val de Loire (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off Licence, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar, JN Wine online


The Loire Valley is better known for its Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon so this Chardonnay is something of a surprise. But a very pleasant one indeed. It has spent some time on its lees, is unoaked, and that, with its northern freshness, gives the wine a lovely mouthfeel, excellent depth of fruit there too. Very Highly Recommended.

It has a lovely mid-gold colour. Intense aromas of pear, pineapple. Fresh and lively on the palate, excellent fruit flavours, and no slacking off in either flavour or aroma in the finalé. Had a glass of this at a FEAST Fish Event in Ballycotton's Bayview. It was paired with Deep fried monkfish, octopus, pea, lemon and potato purée, fried capers, oyster mayonnaise, Jerusalem artichoke chips - the Bayview’s version of Fish ’n Chips!  I was impressed by the wine’s performance. More impressed now after having had a bottle to play with!

It was introduced at the dinner by Richard Reeve of JN Wines. "Chardonnay," he said, "was the variety of the 90s, before oak on the cheap gave it a bad name and it fell out of fashion. It is coming back now in an unoaked style as this is. From a sauvignon Blanc region of the Loire, it is rich and fresh, a big favourite of mine. Enjoy!"

Domaine de Bellevue is situated not far from the city of Nantes and is a young wine estate created in 2005 by the talented young winemaker Jérôme Bretaudeau. By the way, earlier vintages of this Chardonnay had what they describe as “a very good evolution; a conservation of five years seems reasonable”. In other words, you may hold on to it for a few years and it should improve! Recommended pairings are as “a great accompaniment to just about every white meat or fish dish and also makes a delicious aperitif”.




Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We are red, we are white. Samurai Dynamite.


We are red, we are white.
Samurai Dynamite

Talking here about two Australian wines new from Le Caveau, both in the Samurai series by Free Run Juice and each worth taking notice of. By the way, you won't see Samurai written on the labels but it is there in the illustrations!

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Chardonnay (Australia) 2016, 13%, €14.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. Do you remember what that tastes like? In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.

Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances and a persistent finish crowns it.

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95  

“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.

A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Xarel-lo Still Wine. And two other whites.


Xarel-lo Still Wine 
And two other whites.
Albet i Noya Curiós Xarel-lo Penedes (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €13.90 Mary Pawle Wines

This is an organic wine, made from Xarel-lo, the grape synonymous with Cava, in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

Colour is light straw, very light. Fresh fruit, green and citrus, in the aromas, floral elements too. Fresh too on the supple palate, the flavours combining with the initial aromas to pleasantly surprise the taste buds, lively acidity also, and this lovely white also finishes well.

Food advice comes from the producers: on its own or serve with chicken or risotto dishes. Get a few of these in for the warmer days ahead (coming soon!!!). Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.


Gitton Chantalouette Pouilly Sur Loire (AC) 2013, 12.5%, €20.65 Karwig

A pleasing light straw colour. White fruit aromas of moderate intensity, hint of honey. Smooth on the palate, good mix of white fruit flavours, slight sweetness, and lively acidity before a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

It is a blend of mainly Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc (10 to 15%) and has spent 3 months in barrel. While there is a town called Chasselas in the French region of Maconnais, Wine-Searcher reckons the grape originated in Switzerland where it is the “most important and widely planted white grape variety” and matches well with traditional local cuisine like fondue. My match: Knockanore Cheddar and a few dried apricots from Lenny's  stall in the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

If you go reading up on this little known grape, avoid Grapes and Vines (Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand). “Suffers from a certain folie de grandeur” is one put down, referring to a Swiss wine. Delusions of grandeur. Don't think that Gitton Père et Fils would agree!

Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits (AOC), 13%, €27.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This wine is limpid in the glass, the colour a light to mid yellow. Nose is attractive, fresh, peachy. Superb fresh flavours (stone-fruit, citrus) in the mouth, no shortage of acidity either, all the way to a lip-smackingly finish. Recommended.

Maison Ambroise owns organically certified vineyards on some of the finest sites of the Côte de Nuit. I also spotted a mis-translation on the label. Their wines are generally “aged in French oak barrels to give addiction depth and complexity”. You have been warned!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.


Bernardo (via Wikipedia)
Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.

Clos des Fous and Chateau Los Boldos are two of the leading producers in the Rapel Valley, south of Santiago in Chile. The area, with its dry warm climate, is regarded as ideal for growing Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The Rapel has two main valleys, the Cachapoal and the better known Colchaqua.

Cachapoal Province is one of three provinces of the central Chilean region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins Region. Bernardo (left), who played a leading role in the liberation fight, became the first Head of State of Chile in 1818. And yes, there was of course an Irish background. The O'Higgins family lost their lands under the English Crown in the 17th century and left to exile in Spain from where some of them made their way to Chile.

Chateau Los Boldos “Tradition Réserve” Carmenere 2016, Cachapoal (Chile), 13.5%, €15.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s, Wines Online


Los Boldos grow all their own fruit, in vineyards that benefit from a Mediterranean climate, so control everything from grape to bottle. Sixty per cent spends six months in French and American oak “to soften tannins and add complexity”.

Quite a deep red. There are rich cherry aromas, a promise of good things to come. And come they do on the palate, delicious sweet fruit flavours and spice, a lush mouthfeel thanks to its rounded texture. Very appealing overall and Very Highly Recommended. Well priced also.

By the way, Los Boldos also do other single varietals in the “Tradition Réserve” series including Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Worth seeking out, I reckon. The emphasis in this French pioneered now Portuguese owned winery is on higher-end wines from their old vines. Its signature wines are the Grand Cru.


Clos des Fous Chardonnay, Locura 1 Terroir de los Andes Chile 2015, 14%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

Quite a mission statement from Cussen, Leyton, Massoc and Parra, the quartet behind this wine: “This is an unique and groundbreaking project based on a delicate and novel terroir selection. Following the Burgundy philosophy, our focus is to achieve wines with minimal intervention letting the terroir express itself.”

A few details on the wine itself. Colour is a very light straw. Fairly intense aromas (white fruits), legs slow. Excellent buttery mouthfeel, rich and full in the mouth, long and satisfying mineral finish. The four seem to have indeed followed the Burgundian way here, seem to have succeeded and the verdict is Very Highly Recommended.

This unoaked Chardonnay is listed as one of the top ten chardonnay in South America by Wines of South America. They also call Pedro Parra, one of the four owners, a “terroir whisperer”. 

Their terroir approach plus their organic fruit and minimalist techniques are lauded, “no safety nets” such as fining or filtering. The wines, including this one, have many admirers, among them Jancis Robinson here. 

Wondering about the name of the wine? Clos des Fous means enclosure of the madmen while Locura also hints at a crazy condition. Enjoy!



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Two Splendid and Delightful Whites.

Chateau de Chatelard Beaujolais Blanc (AOP), Cuvée Secret de Chardonnay 2016, 13%, €18.30 Karwig’s

Given the Beaujolais bias toward Gamay, it is not surprising that Beaujolais Blanc is little-known. Just two per cent of the crop is Chardonnay. Chatelard do quite a few good reds also and Karwig’s have a selection.

This white has a light gold colour, clear and bright. There are fairly intense aromas, fruity and floral, all present too in an ample palate. There is a creamy texture plus a superb balance and the finish is soft with a nice length. A pleasant surprise and Very Highly Recommended. Good on its own or with seafood and fish (don't forget freshwater fish too, such as trout).

The winemakers tell us that about twenty per cent has been aged in barrels to “give more fatness and complexity”. Vintage is by hand and this is a natural product so you may find a soft and light deposit (a sign of quality!).

Meyer-Fonné Vin D’Alsace (AOC) Gentil 2015, 12.5%, €16.65 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork
Felix Meyer makes his wines in accord with biodynamic principles and “with unmatched precision, depth, purity and expression of terroir”. This Gentil (many Alsace winemakers produce a gentil) is a blend of Muscat, Pinot blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, “a perfectly balanced and serious wine”.

The denomination Gentil is reserved for AOC Alsace wines that fit within the standards of a superior quality blend. I reckon this one had no problem meeting the criteria. I have also found over the years that the Gentils are fairly priced, good quality and good value.


This has a beautiful light gold colour and bubbles tend to linger. There are intense white fruit aromas, a waft of blossom too. The palate is engagingly fruity, spice in the mix too, excellent texture and a long dry finish. Quite a gem at the price and Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle

Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle
Bertrand (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau

Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family since 2013. Once upon a time, Bertrand was front and rear at his Premeaux-Prissey vineyard. He was the boss. Now his children, Francois and Ludivine, have taken on the business and Bertrand says he, no longer the boss, now works for them. He is glad to have them share the load, allowing him the freedom to concentrate on making good wines, such as this pair, made and named for his granddaughter.

Daughter Ludivine has said the move to organic viticulture is one of true belief as she lost her grand-father due to illness caused by chemicals used in the fields.Take a taste of their Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’ to see where they are heading. This is a faultless wine with an astounding finalé and is also available from le Caveau.

Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons (ACBC) 2013, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau

In Cork, earlier this year, Bertrand told me that this Pinot Noir is fermented in mixed-age 400 litre oak barrels, he doesn't want oak influence here, so no new barrels are used.

It has a  mid-ruby robe. Plums feature prominently in the bouquet. The palate is full of pure fruit, firm tannins there too, along with a lively acidity and that focused combination plays all the way to a classic faultless finalé. Much has been squeezed from the parcels of poor soil and, lovingly guarded every step of the way, much remains in the bottle. A gorgeous well-priced wine, one of his thirteen Pinot Noirs, and Highly Recommended.

Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons Chardonnay (ACBC) 2014, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau

The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines. It is fermented in barrels of different ages (one, two and three years old oak), not fined and only lightly filtered.


Colour is mid-gold, with tints of green. Fairly intense aromas feature white fruit and blossoms. It is round and fruity (citrus to the fore eventually), with just enough acidity. A wonderful drop indeed, very well made and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chile's Aresti Family Wines. Plus A Lovely Albarino.

The Aresti Family, Highly Rated Chilean Winemakers
Jon (right) with Yours Truly
Though established in 1951, it was 1999 before the Aresti family began producing wine under their own label on their Bellavista estate in Chile’s Curicó Valley. Now, according to Wines of South America, they have “one thousand cultivated acres”. Their signature line is the Aresti Family Collection (also carried by SuperValu). 

Their winemaker, since 2005, is the experienced Jon Usabiaga, highly respected by fellow Chilean winemakers and a regular visitor to Ireland. I met him a couple of years back and he told me: “The main aim for me is to show the real character of every variety. If someone is choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon, it should taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon”.

Aresti Bellavista Reserva Merlot Curicó Valley (Chile) 2015, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
Unusually, there is a truck on the label. It is the first truck, “La Perica”, that arrived in Bellavista, the founding vineyard of Aresti. Both the truck and the vineyard date back to 1951.

Colour of this Merlot is ruby. It boasts aromas of ripe red fruit, hints of vanilla too. The juicy palate has strawberry flavours and spice too, tannins are mild, and the finish is long and dry. Highly Recommended.


Aresti Bellavista Reserva Chardonnay Curicó Valley (Chile) 2016, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
This is another of SuperValu’s Specially Sourced wines, an increasingly important part of their wine offering. “Delivering new and exciting wines to cater for all tastes is top of our agenda,” says Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of Wine.

Like the Merlot, the Chardonnay is produced at Bellavista (note the lorry again!), the original Aresti venture. You’ll also find Bellavista Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in SuperValu.

The colour is straw, with tints of green. No need to get really close in this instance as intense tropical fruit aromas rise from the glass. The fresh fruit features too on the creamy palate and good acidity keeps all in balance. A long dry finish lingers. This harmonious wine is Highly Recommended.



A Lovely Albarino
Bodegas Gallegas 'Abellio' Albarino, Rias Baixas (Spain) 2016, €12.99 (€10.00 when on offer) 12.5%, SuperValu

We leave Argentina now and cross the Atlantic to Spain, to Galicia and this attractively labelled Albarino. I know Kevin O’Callaghan is very proud of this one as he helped design the label (just one of the ways in which SuperValu help their producers sell their wines).

Winemaker Xoan Casiano Rego Ribeiro (call him Joan for short) is a defender of Galician wines, of the native varieties in particular, and has done a great job here with the hand-harvested Albarino fruit. 



The wine has the typical mid-gold colour.With its excellent aromas (white fruit) and flavours, it is ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. It is smooth and intense on the palate, with refreshing minerality and well balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The All Whites. Including a Mendoza Double.

Valle Aldino Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Central Valley (Chile), 13%, €12.70 Karwig Wine


Have you been reading The 24 Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson? At €6.80 (Waterstones), it is well worth getting. 

In a section called Be Adventurous, she lists 15 pairs, one wine The Obvious Choice, the other tagged The Clever Alternative.  In Sauvignon Blanc, the obvious is Marlborough while the alternative is Chile.

The alternative, she says, can “be sometimes cheaper, often more interesting”. This Valle Aldino is certainly cheaper and, while not more interesting than the better Marlboroughs, is a good alternative at a decent price.

Colour is a light straw with tints of green. Fresh and grassy aromas, white fruits there too. Gooseberries and citrus flavours, with strong melon-y notes too, on the zesty palate, plus a decent finish. Recommended.


Mendoza’s Domaine Bousquet
A Blend Double

In 1990, the Bousquet family from Carcassonne in Southern France began to explore wine-making possibilities in Argentina. In 1997, they settled in Tupungato (Mendoza) in one of the highest vineyards in the world.

It is no less than 1,200 meters above sea level. There is a large difference between day and night temperatures. This variation (the thermal amplitude) helps create fully ripened grapes with good acidity. The heat of the day promotes the ripening, the chill of the night preserves acidity. Grapes are hand-picked and the vineyard is certified organic.

Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay - Pinot Gris Reserva 2010 (Tupungato, Mendoza, ARG), 14%, €18.80 Mary Pawle Wines
Colour is a light gold, clean and bright and a ring of bubbles stay around the rim for a while. It is strongly aromatic, some exotic white fruit and floral notes too. Concentrated white fruit flavours announce its arrival on the palate and the acidity ensures a happy balance. It is an elegant style with a dry and pleasing finish. Highly Recommended.

The mix is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. And the Reserve apparently means that the grapes have been picked from the best plots.

Domaine Bousquet Cameleon  Selection Torrontes - Chardonnay 2014 (Tupungato, Mendoza, ARG), 14%, O’Donovan’s Off Licence.

The Cameleon, one of their brands, symbolises the family story of Jean Bousquet, the leaving of France and adapting to the new life in Argentina. Adapted quite well going by this bottle, also Highly Recommended.

The blend here is fifty fifty. Aging is in stainless steel plus four months in bottle. Ideal, they say for seafood, fish dishes and cheeses. I say fine on its own and worth a try too with white meat and Asian dishes.

Colour is a light gold, clean and bright, much like the first bottle above. Aromas are of white fruits, floral notes too. On the palate there are fresh white fruit flavors, some sweet spice, an oily mouthfeel, more body here, that expected acidity and a long, dry and very pleasing finish.

This is what the family wanted from the blend and from their soil. “With its subtle attunement, this Chameleon is a conspicuous presence in a landscape of indistinguishable wine.” Don't know what the neighbours made of that statement!