Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Excellent Laffitte Family Wines Feature in SuperValu’s French September Sale


An excellent trio of wines from the Laffitte family in Gascony feature
 in SuperValu’s French September Sale
Some of the Gascony vineyards stretch to the foothills of the Pyrenees

Brothers Christophe and Sebastien Laffitte are producing these “Tandem” wines in Gascony (SW France), in a village where the family’s history can be traced to the 15th century. The three wines featured here are “about pleasure and togetherness. We hope you enjoy it at your table with the special people in your lives.”

If you do get to holiday in Gascony, you’ll find the locals very keen to talk about rugby, once they know you’re from Ireland. What they are not keen to talk about is Cognac! So be careful when ordering brandy, you are in the land of Armagnac, Cognac’s big rival. Indeed, some of the grapes that the brothers grow (Colombard, for example, are used in the spirit). Similarly, if you are in the mood for a sweetish drink, be sure and ask for Floc de Gascogne (not the Pinot des Charentes of the Cognac area). 

As the Laffittes indicate, these three wines are meant for regular celebration rather than meditation. A recent CNN article says that, in up and coming Gascony, this "everyday enjoyment" extends far beyond just a daily glass of wine. Pursuit of pleasure is seen as a key part of the Gascon lifestyle. And that fits in too with the aims of Supervalu wine buyer Kevin O’Callaghan who says he has wines in the French Wine Sale (5th to 25th September) that will excite all tastes, from the novice to the most experienced. 

Watch out too for the 12 Special Guest Wines - their run is limited to the duration of the sale. Kevin: “These wines offer amazing value..with customers able to explore the different French regions at prices ranging from €8-€50 and all in between.” The three below are listed as Guest!


Domaine Laffitte Rosé, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2018, 11.5%, €8.00 (11.99).

 The grapes for this rosé (screwcap closure) are Cabernet Franc, Marselan and Tannat. The Tannat will surprise some people as it is regarded as a tough grape. But not in these parts. A few years back, I drank a rosé (Argi Dansa), a very good one I thought, in Irouleguy, and that was made with 80% Tannat.

Colour of this Laffitte is a pale pink. It is sweetly perfumed, mainly with strawberries/raspberries, hints of sherbet. On the palate it is soft and fruity, plus hints of citrus, refreshing and easy-drinking with a decent finish. One to enjoy, for sure, especially during our Indian summer!


Domaine Laffitte Red, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2018, 12.0%, €8.00 (11.99).

This red is an excellent blend of smooth Malbec (80%) and fresh Cabernet Franc (20%). Nose is full; you get the vivid cherry and a whiff of spice from a foot or so away, a little vanilla too. Smooth and elegant on the palate, silky tannins and rounded fruit all the way to the finalé. Versatile: white or red meat, lunch or dinner

Domaine Laffitte Sauvignon Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2018, 12.0%, €8.00 (11.99)

This Sauvignon Blanc, with its pale gold colour, has surprisingly intense aromas, with citrus prominent. It is ample and lively on the palate, a tangy touch, minerality present, with a decent finish to boot. Not bad as an aperitif and a sure bet with fish and seafood.

Another easy-drinking wine to complete the Laffitte trio, all excellent value. These are among the guest wines, just for the duration of the sale. Try them and if you like them get a few more in. Stock up the red and white for Christmas and a rosé or two as an aperitif when there is more heat in the house than outside!


Great Chance to Explore French Wine Regions
At the entrance to Vacqueyras.
Unfortunately, that's water coming out
of the tap, not wine!

With reductions on over forty wines, the SuperValu French sale provides quite the opportunity to go out and explore the various regions. Of course, Burgundy and Bordeaux will always have their followers. But do have a look at lesser known areas.

I am especially drawn to Burgundy but don’t forget that next door is Beaujolais and I always enjoy a well produced wine from that region’s Gamay grape. André Goichot is a reliable name here and you could do worse than try his Fleurie or the Moulin à Vent (one of the 12 guests!) and both are substantially reduced.

The Loire is well represented in the sale. No shortage of Sancerre on the list. If you like to move off the beaten path there the Coteaux Du Giennois (one of the lesser known areas here) and the Alchimie Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t disappoint. 


I’ve always been a fan of the Rhone reds and SuperValu have an impressive quartet lined up for you: Vinsobres, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Chateauneuf itself. My favourite is probably the Vacqueyras. A good bottle to have on your table this Autumn, great with duck and roast meat dishes.


Monday, September 2, 2019

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Classy Double in O'Brien's Summer Promotion


Classy Double in O'Brien's Summer Promotion
Must say I'm very happy with my picks from the O'Brien's summer promotion that runs right through to the end of August. This latest double highlights the quality available, especially the Amancaya (made even more attractive by the generous deduction). Check out my four earlier picks here.

Nicolas Catena and Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), vignerons since the 19th century, have combined their deep knowledge of Mendoza’s terroir and the art of winemaking to create Amancaya. This rich full-bodied red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of Argentinian Malbec. The Amancaya has been aged 12 months in French oak barrels (75% new oak).

The Catena family of Mendoza is correctly credited with helping to revive the industry there, according to Wines of South America. While attending university in Berkeley in the late 70s, Nicolás, Decanter’s Man of the year in 2009, learned much from Robert Mondavi. Bodegas Caro (1999) is a partnership with Domaines Barons de Rothschild and the operation focuses on classic red Bordeaux blends. Main label is Caro while Amancaya and Aruma are also highly regarded.

Colour is dark ruby, legs are slow to clear. Nose of rich dark fruits.Fruity, elegant, spicy, and persistent, one of good ones, more or less what you’d expect from the distinguished  families involved in its production. Ripe and rich with fine juicy tannins and that long finish, this is Very Highly Recommended.

The vineyard tell us that Amancaya is the native Indian word for a flower found high in the Andes mountains and is a fitting name for this floral and elegant wine. The traditional Malbec grape is masterfully blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and then aged 12 months in old oak barrels to give a European elegance. With expressive notes of red fruit, coffee and black pepper this is a complex and beautifully-balanced wine.



Colour is a bit more golden than your usual Chardonnay. Aromas of citrus and heady hints of blossom. The richness of this Highly Recommended wine continues to the palate and finish, yet this succulent drop, with its hint of muscat, is harmonious. Nothing jars from initial attack to fine minerally finalé. Importers O’Brien’s tell us it is a classic example of Saint-Véran with “an extra degree of richness and ripeness”.

Château-Fuissé is the benchmark estate of Pouilly-Fuissé. Currently managed by 5th generation winemaker Antoine Vincent, it combines traditional winemaking with carefully applied modern technology. The Saint-Veran vineyards of the Château-Fuissé are located in the north of the appellation and nearly touch the Pouilly-Fuissé zone. It is one of the few villages in Burgundy's Mâcon region that has the right to its own appellation. 

Pair with meaty fish, Pork Belly, Roast Chicken.

Check out my four earlier picks here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Highly Recommended Wines from Austria, France and Italy. European Excellence.


Highly Recommended Wines from Austria, France and Italy. 
European Excellence.

Judith Beck Koreaa (Austria) 2017, 12%, €23.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

So how does an Austrian wine get to be called Koreaa. Some years back, Beck’s rented an old vineyard, originally parcelled out in the 1950s. It was then so far away from the village that people said of it that you might as well be going to Korea (the war was on in that country at the time). So, decades later, Judith decided to use that as a name for this wine.

You will see too that this is a Gemischter satz. What is that, you might well ask? I asked too and Le Caveau tell me it is a field blend, mainly Grüner Veltliner and Scheurebe but also composed of Welschriesling, Weissburgunder, Muskat and some Zweigelt (a red grape). Spontaneous wild yeast ferment is followed by 6 months in old oak barrels on its lees.

For me, the most important word on this wine is Beck, now one of my favourite wine-makers. So I have confidence when I approach this bottle with its light orange colour and it unusual melange of aromas: marmalade, honey, fresh herbs. In the mouth it is lush for sure with exotic flavours but importantly there is good acidity so all is in balance before that lip-smacking finish, for this is essentially a dry wine. Something different and Highly Recommended.



Vin de Frantz Un Salmon Dans La Loire 2016, Vin de France 12.5%, €21.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

A Vin de France and also called Vin de Frantz (after the producer) is made from the fruit of 30-year old vines, fermented in stainless steel. Le Caveau tell me it is “great with simply prepared fish dishes”.

Vin de France as you probably know more or less replaced the old Vin de Table and covers the whole country. But this vineyard is in the tiny Montlouis appellation, which has to put up with living in the shadow of the much better known Vouvray on the other side of the river Loire. Montlouis is about halfway between Tours and Amboise.

This excellent organic Sauvignon comes in a light gold colour. Citrus features in the moderately intense aromas. It has an engaging attack, lively and pleasantly tart, pleasantly fruity too (gooseberry). Fresh all the way to very good finish. Highly Recommended.

Renato Ratti “Battaglione” Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2016, 14%, €24.90 (before closing down sale) Karwig Wines. 



The late Renato Ratti has been credited, at least in Vino Italiano, with being “The Father of Modern Barolo”. He took that wine by the scruff of the neck in 60s and his more accessible style became a hit. 

The production of classic affordable Piedmont wines goes on, now under the direction of son Pierro Ratti and “..the wines keep getting better” according to Vino Italiano. 

This is a mid to dark ruby colour. Rich aromas of dark red fruits (berries, cherries, plums). Light and lively on the palate with engaging flavour and also a lively juicy acidity. A touch of sweetness too and a persistent finish. A terrific harmony between fruit, acidity and tannins, distinguishes this lovely wine with its rich body. Highly Recommended.

Pair with hearty dishes especially those featuring red meat and it will also do the business with aged cheese.

Much of the red wine in Piedmont is made with the Barbera grape. Alba is the town in the centre of the region and so you get the typical Italian combination in the wine’s name Barbera D’Alba.

* By the way, Karwig’s still have some wines left for you in their closing down sale which is due to finish on August 16th.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Two Gems from Classic French Regions


Two Gems from Classic French Regions

Chateau Vincens “Prestige” Cahors (AOC) 2013, 13%, €23.50 Vanilla Grape Kenmare

Recently, while reviewing a different bottle from this independent South of France producer, I remarked that while Argentina Malbec is popular, the expertise of centuries in Cahors has not suddenly vanished. My point, hardly original, is once again illustrated with this latest Chateau Vincens that I found on the ancient shelves (over 100 years old) of the Vanilla Grape wine and card shop in Henry Street, Kenmare. Alain was delighted that I picked this wine from his neck of the woods.

It is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot and has been raised (70% of it) in oak casks. The producers recommended that their  award winning “well balanced wine, with the wood well integrated” be served at 17 to 18 degrees and paired with red meats and duck breasts.

In 1947, a few growers founded this cooperative in Parnac. Their goal was to revive the Malbec, the grape of Cahors. They succeeded and were still going strong a few years back when I called.
Colour is mid to dark ruby. Rich dark fruit on the nose, notes of liquorice too. On the palate it is plump and luscious, a hint of spice, great depth of flavour, smooth and elegant, and a cherry led acidity helps towards a very pleasing harmony, mellow tannins too playing a role in a long satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Cahors was famous for its “black wines” even before Bordeaux became established as a producing area. It has had its problems, including phylloxera in 1883-1885. There was a rebirth for Malbec with the founding of the Parnac Coop in 1947. But trouble again in February 1956 when frosts wiped out almost all the vineyards of the region, which thus needed to be replanted en masse. In this replanting, Malbec became more dominant than it had been before. Cahors was awarded AOC status in 1971. Most of the vineyards are planted close to the River Lot.

Parize Givry 1er Cru (AOC) “Champ Nalot” 2017, 13%, €28.30 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This tempting and aromatic wine is a vibrant Givry gem. A subtle and warm wine that will go wonderfully with red meats, small game, and cheeses. Or on its own. This is Very Highly Recommended. Aged in 1-year old oak barrels, Le Caveau themselves are excited: “A brilliant Pinot Noir, very expressive…”

Mid ruby is the colour. Cherry and plum in the seductive aromas. Vivacious, absolutely delicious in the mouth. Smooth rounded red fruit, superb acidity, spices too, refined tannins and an excellent lingering finish. Not too much more to be said. Just go and buy one.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Couple of Excellent Whites, Both Organic. Three to watch in Karwig's Sale.


A Couple of Excellent Whites, Both Organic

Diwald Grüner Veltliner “Goldberg” Wagram (Austria) 2015, 13%, €20.75 Mary Pawle

The loess soils of the Wagram are particularly favourable to Grüner Veltliner and this is another excellent example by Diwald. Very Highly Recommended.

This is a light gold colour, and bright. Aromas led by citrus, a touch of pepper. Zesty too on the palate as this light and lively wine spreads around. Light and thirst quenching yet also quite assertive. It has spent 8 months on lees.

Generally GrüVe is well paired with salads and vegetables and makes for a mouthwatering aperitif and importer Mary Pawle recommends serving this Diwald with scallops. 

But the grape is very versatile. Terry Theise, in Reading Between the Wines, says GrüVe is a hugely important variety “both for its flavour and also for its usefulness”. It is “by far the most flexible dry white wine in the world at the table”. He concludes: “..once you encounter it, you may not be able to imagine life without it”. High praise indeed.

The Diwalds, long-time practitioners of organic wine-making, say Goldberg is one of the best single vineyards in the village. Terraces and hills which slope towards the Danube Valley and mighty loess ground build the foundation for the Goldberg wines. According to Martin Diwald, the goal is “to produce cheerful wines, in which the zest of the region and the philosophy of the vintner are united.” Reckon he scores with this one! As do his customers.

Jacques Frelin Pouilly-Fumé (AOP) 2017, 13%, €26.60 Mary Pawle

Minerality and elegance are head-lined on the back label of this organic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and they are indeed a notable part of the very pleasant experience.

Colour is a very light straw. Intense aromas (melon, pear/apple, honeysuckle notes). Lively fruit, the classic citrus in there too, lively acidity, that minerality and elegance, very refreshing and a good dry finish. Well made, well balanced. Excellent and Very Highly Recommended.

No need to say too much more. Mary Pawle recommends trying it with trout or salmon and also goat’s cheese. I’ve seen recommendations for pairing it with shellfish, spicy food, salads, pork, and light pasta dishes.

Karwig's Closing Down Sale Continues
Three to look out for!


Rochebin Macon Lugny (AOP) Chardonnay 2018, 12.5%, Karwig Wines was 15.85, now 10.30…

Colour is a mid gold. Aromas of white fruit, floral notes too. Soft and rich on the palate, peach and melon flavours, rounded mouthfeel, fresh acidity too and a good finish. Very quaffable on its own and pairs well with: spiced tapas, charcuterie, white meats (chicken, veal) or seafood platters. Treat yourself - Highly Recommended.

Machard De Gramont “Dom. De La Vierge Romaine” Pinot Noir Bourgogne (AOC) 2017, 13%, €19.95 (prior to closing down sale) Karwigs

Aged in old oak for 13 months, this is an excellent Pinot Noir, full of character and well-priced even before news of Karwig’s closing-down sale broke.

Mid-ruby is the colour and it has a bright sheen. Aromas, with berries and cherries in the mix, are light and lovely. On the palate it is deliciously fruity, the merest touch of sweet spice, acidity enough, tannins barely noticeable with a decent finish. Elegant and fresh and Highly Recommended.



Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimer Hassel Riesling Kabinett Trocken Rheingau 2012, 11.5%, €20.50 (now 12.30) Karwig Wines.

This has the VDP eagle displayed on the neck, “a guarantee of pure wine pleasure”, not a bad start. For many years the winery was a foundation for the benefit of the town of Eltville in the Hattenheim region. In 2003, it came back into private ownership.

Colour is a light straw with green tints. Citrus aromas with a touch of diesel. Lively and fruity on the palate, fading slowly to a dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wines from New Zealand and France via Le Caveau and Mary Pawle


Wines from New Zealand and France
 via Le Caveau and Mary Pawle

Pebble Dew Pinot Noir Marlborough 2017, 13.5%, €24.95  Le Caveau

“A real drinking pleasure” is how Le Caveau describe this Pinot Noir from New Zealand. They have been trying to source a Kiwi supplier for Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc for a while and reckon Pebble Dew is the answer.

It has one of the lightest red colours you’ll see, very close to rosé. The red fruit aromas are packed with promise. And the fruit delivers well on the palate, supple and juicy, right to the refreshing finalé, with a touch of tannin, evident on the top of the lips. It is a light and lively wine for summer, has a bit more going for it than the Sauvignon Blanc.  Highly Recommended.

Pebble Dew Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2018, 13.5%, €20.95  Le Caveau

Colour of the Pebble Dew Sauvignon is a very light straw. Aromatic too with white stone fruit and lime in the mix. Gets more citrus-y on the palate, the lively fruit matched with acidity. Pleasant and easy drinking. Nice aperitif and should go well with seafood and salads. Recommended.




Château de Bastet “Aeris” Côtes du Rhone 2015, 13%, €15.20 Mary Pawle


Generally, white Côtes du Rhone have a clear and crisp appearance, with a floral and fruit bouquet and a well balanced palate. This “Aeris”, organic and biodynamic, certainly fits that description. Serve at 8 to 10 degrees and it is the perfect match to grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goat cheeses. Salad Nicoise too.

Château de Bastet decided to go biodynamic in 1997. This 2015 is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. Other white grapes permissible in the region are Clairette, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc too and Picpoul.

It is light straw in colour. And there is a nice mix of aromas, floral along with pear and peach. Smooth with good depth of flavour and a pleasant finish. Highly Recommended and, by the way, well priced.

Chateau Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet (AOP) 2018, 13%, €13.80 Mary Pawle

A dry white from the Languedoc region near the Med in the south of France. Mary Pawle tells me this grape, Picpoul de Pinet, is often referred to as the Muscadet of the South and is excellent with oysters and most shellfish. And that’s confirmed by the label recommending fruits de mer, coquillages et crustacés, with a serving temperature of 8 degrees.

It has a mid-yellow colour with green tints. Aromatic for sure - citrus, melon and floral. Rounded and abundant fruit flavour (lime, grapefruit), generous mouthfeel (close to creamy), a perky acidity and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.

Picpoul is the grape and Wine-Searcher says this Picpoul de Pinet is its most famous incarnation. “The variety's ability to keep its acidity even in a hot, Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect choice for the region, making taut, full-bodied white wines with herbal and citrus aromas.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Three Light Reds for the Months Ahead


Three Light Reds for the Months Ahead

Les Foulards Rouges “Octobre” Vin de France 2018 11.5%, €20.85


This is a bit of an ambush. Nothing in the colour (a weak red) or in aromas (delicate) quite prepares you for what lies ahead when you sip this Languedoc blend of Syrah (mostly) and Grenache. “Smile inducing.” “Sings in the glass.” Quotes from importers Le Caveau and I fully agree.

That weak red colour is very close to a rosé. And the aromas have a delicate red berry nose, a touch of white pepper too. It is a pleasant surprise in the mouth, supple and pretty, with quite a lively character, reaching a high level of quality. 

Despite the initial doubts, I totally concede: this is exquisite, distinctive too, closer to a Beaujolais than one would think possible in a Southern red with Syrah as the main grape. Perhaps the sea breezes wafting in over the spiralling red roofs of Collioure have something to with that and with the lower ABV. If you are looking for a pretty and light red wine, and many people are nowadays, then look no further than this Highly Recommended red. 

Octobre is released each year in… October; 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache grown on granitic soil, hand harvested and spontaneous carbonic fermentation, no SO2 added. Jean-François Nicq, one of the Foulard Rouge (red scarves), took over the domaine in 2002 and practices natural wine-making and you can taste it in this pure wine.


Contrefours du Delta Côtes de Ventoux (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle

There is an increased interest in lighter red wines in recent years and, if you’d like to try one, this bottle fits the bill. It is an organic wine from the southern edge of the Rhone Valley, a “supple and juicy” blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah.

Mid ruby is the colour. It is aromatic with a mix of red fruits (raspberries and strawberries included). It is indeed charming and light, juicy and a refreshing drop with a decent finish, tannins just about noticeable on the lips. Can be served cool too, so handy for the warmer days ahead. Well made and Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.

Pairing tips included grilled lamb with thyme, goat cheese or with a fig tart.

Terrabianca “La Fonte” Sangiovese Tuscany (IGT) 2012, 13.5%, €16.15 Karwig


Do you need a light summer-time red for that pizza or pasta?  Check out this easy-drinking well-priced wine Tuscan wine from Karwig’s. Sangiovese is the grape and it is a major grape in that part of Italy, its reputation reinforced over the years by its role in wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti itself of course, and also Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. You’ll note rich dark red fruit (cherry, plum) in the aromas. Well balanced on the palate, light fruit and lively acidity, a touch of soft tannins towards the finish. Easy drinking and Recommended.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Superb Riesling and Chenin Blanc from Karwigs.


Superb Riesling and Chenin Blanc
from Karwig Wine.

Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling (Rhinegau) 2017, 12%, €16.90 Karwig Wine

I’ve long been a fan of Carl Ehrhard’s wines. I met the man himself at a Ballymaloe wine event a few years back and there he described Riesling as “the most fantastic white variety”. This particular bottle is one of his everyday wines but an above average one, well priced too.

The Rheingau is the spiritual heart of German wine, the birthplace of Riesling, according to the World Atlas of Wine. The area in general is well known for its dry Rieslings - “full bodied with racy acidity”.

Colour is a light straw with greenish tints and you'll note micro bubbles clinging to the glass. Aromas are a gentle mix of apple and citrus, with the slightest hint of diesel. There is that trademark tingle on the palate. Intense fruit, now led by citrus, and that bracing and refreshing acidity combine well all the way to a long and satisfying finish. This dry wine is Very Highly Recommended. 

Might be no harm, I say to myself, to get a few of these in for the summer evenings in the back garden. Perfect for aperitif and with seafood and Riesling is regularly recommended for Asian food. The vinification is directed towards preserving the natural fruit and, not for the first time, Mr Ehrhard succeeds. One of the most reliable winemakers.

Some helpful German wine words:
Rüdesheim is the town.
Riesling is the grape.
Trocken means dry.
Rheingau is the wine district.
Ehrhard - you’re on a winner!

Bourillon Dorléans “La Coulée d’Argent Vouvray” (AOC) 2015, 13%, €21.50 Karwig Wines

We’re on a good thing here. I’ve given the 2013 vintage a big thumbs up in the past and this 2015 is also Very Highly Recommended. I have the guys at Grape and Wines “behind” me as the book lists Bourillon as a leading maker of Chenin Blanc and, in addition, lists this Coulée d’Argent as one of the top five classic dry Loire wines. 

Chenin was first planted in the Loire in the 15th century and still the best Chenin wines come from here. Quite a range actually as the grape is used to make sparkling wines, dry wines, even sweet ones. But this one is dry, very dry, you’ll note the sec on the bottle. You’ll also see the words Vieilles Vignes (old vines) on the label.

It has a mid straw colour. Moderate aromas, with quince, apple and pear to the fore. On the palate, it is bone dry with mouthwateringly high acidity. That expected minerality is not shy either though it is moderated by the fruit and even a touch of sweetness. It has quite a strong character, the body having a little more heft than expected, and also an invigorating finish. It is made from those old vines and has been aged on its lees for six months. This bracingly dry Chenin Blanc, from what is regarded as the homeland of the variety, is excellent and Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes. And a Simply Better Surprise.


Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes. 
And a Simply Better Surprise.
Lost in Nantes? Encore?


Domaine de la Fessardière  “L’Air Innocent” Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2015, €18.65 Mary Pawle

Brittany Ferries opened the Cork-Roscoff route in 1978 and, for quite a few years afterwards, virtually every Cork driver visiting France got lost in Nantes. Happened to myself once and I ended up in the vineyards to the south-east of the city (not the worst of outcomes, quite recoverable). French roads have improved a lot since then and now most major cities, including Nantes, have either a rocade or a périphérique.

Like most early ferry travellers, we didn’t go too far in the first year or two, mainly to the south of Brittany around Concarneau, Guerande and Carnac. The supermarché (even the odd hyper) were the main attractions for the first (and last) few days of the hols with the male eyes concentrating on the bottom shelves and the bottles of Muscadet for less than punt! Got a lot of it then (also Gros Plant, even cheaper) and that cheap stuff put many off the fruit of the Melon de Bourgogne grape for years.

Bit by bit though we began to realise that two very important words on the bottle were Sur Lie, though only a year or two back the somm in a five star hotel in Kerry didn’t seem to know them. Glad to say that this bottle is Sur Lie (raised on lees) and is a splendid offering via Mary Pawle Wines.

It has indeed been kept on its lees for six months. Besides there is no added sulphur and the fruit has been hand-harvested.The grape variety is the normal Melon de Bourgogne and the vineyard follows organic methods. 

Mary says it is round and unctuous in the mouth and a good match with seafood or a semi-soft cheese.  In addition, the producers recommend “fish in sauce, poultry with the cream, cooked cheese like the county (Comté, I presume) or Cantal.”

The name of this round, fresh and fruity wine, “L’Air Innocent”, emphasises this closeness to nature. Colour is a very light straw, bright and healthy looking. The aromas, delicate and appealing, are of white fruit (apple). Apple flavours are somewhat stronger than the scents and there’s a touch of citrus too, also a refreshing acidity, a tingle of minerality as well, and it also has a pleasant long finish. Highly Recommended.


Principesco Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane (IGT) 2017, 12%, €12.50 Dunnes Stores

First sip and a pleasant surprise. Yellow fruit flavours lead to a very pleasing palate. Nice bit of acidity too and all combine in a lovely finalé. The colour is a pale straw. Aromas of peach and apple hint of good things to come. A decent wine at a decent price from a surprising source as I wouldn’t have thought of Sicily as a hotbed of Pinot Grigio.

This wine has been exclusively selected for Dunnes Stores Simply Better. It is produced by Casa Fondata on the sunny island off the toe of Italy. Dunnes recommend it as a “perfect accompaniment to our Roasted Cod with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Mozzarella”. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Cat. The Octopus. The Pig. Three Ace Wines from Le Caveau.


Jean-Claude Chanudet La Cuvée du Chat Vin de France 2016, 13%, €23.50 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Baudelaire’s cat may well have had  “un dangereux parfum” but, while tempting, Chanudet’s La Cuvée du Chat has nothing of menace about it at all. Jean-Claude is highly regarded in organic and natural wine circles and this bottle shows exactly why.
One word you don’t see on the labels is Beaujolais even though this 100% Gamay comes mainly from the cru area of Morgon. Vin de table indeed! Some table wine for 23 euro.

Colour is the typical light ruby. Pleasant, even modest, aromas of cherry and raspberry. But, like the cat of the poem, it does have something of a sexy backbone. Life in the old cat yet, the fruit harvested from vines of 80 years old.

Superb soft and deep flavours, nice acidity too and a persistent finish. Eminently digestible, easy drinking, full of palatable pleasure and Very Highly Recommended. Sediment noted by the way so might be worthwhile decanting as young wines often are.

The label by Maurice Sinet (died 2016, aged 87) always brings a smile. He was better known as Siné and was a columnist for Charlie Hebdo

Beck Ink Austria 2016, 12.5%, €16.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The label is dominated by an octopus expelling ink. Not much else though two key words appear: trocken (dry) and Bio-Wein. Not much on the outside then but quality all the way inside this Austrian bottle.

Colour is ruby with a beautiful healthy sheen. Warm and fairly intense aromas (cherry mainly). Soft and juicy flavours (cherry, raspberry) envelop the palate, attractive spice notes too. This lovely wine has an excellent balance. Loads of character and very quaffable. Very Highly Recommended.

There was some sediment so probably best to decant. No big deal either way.

Ink is a fresh, juicy, vibrant and delicious blend of 80% Zweigelt and 20% St. Laurent. Both are traditional Austrian varieties and the former is the most widely planted red-wine grape in the country - by the way, most of wine-growing is done in the eastern part. Judith Beck is based in Burgenland and has produced wines in accordance with bio-dynamic principles since 2007.

Interestingly, St Laurent was one of the “parents” (the other was Blaufrankisch) when Zweigelt was created in 1922.

Les Champs Libres Lard Des Choix, Vin de France, 2016, 12.5% abv, €21.35 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Anything goes in the fields of freedom, especially if you have two experienced conductors, well-known vigneron Hervé Souhaut and René-Jean Dard (Dard et Ribo), at the head of the fun. Here, they offer a “chillable and eminently gluggable blend of Gamay and Syrah”, an unusual blend that works to perfection.

It is a mid to dark ruby. Aromas are intense and intriguing, dark fruits and something too from those fields where the fat pigs roam. Dark fruit flavours too, berries and cherries, spice also. Gluggable juice yes but with an exceptional grippy finish.

With a name like Lard Des Choix, there are lots of tongue in (pig’s) cheek and puns of course in the notices of this wine, a newcomer to the Le Caveau range. The producers are certainly highly regarded, best known for their Rhone wines. This lively Ardèche number is Highly Recommended. (The verdict was not unanimous: CL gave it Very Highly Recommended).