Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Rhone. River of Wine.

The Rhone. River of Wine.
Do you find French wine labels confusing?

The Rhone is one of a few major French rivers, others are the Loire and Dordogne, inextricably linked with wine. The heart of the area is between Vienne to the north, Avignon to the south.  Wines labelled Côtes du Rhône can come from anywhere in the region, from north, south, east and west. Those labelled Côtes du Rhône Villages are in theory better than plain Côtes du Rhône and those with the label entitled to add the village name, eg  Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet should have an edge over the others, in theory.

Wines bearing the label Vacqueyras, just Vacqueyras, can come only from the village of that name.  It is regarded as a cru wine. Some other southern Rhone cru villages are Gigondas, most recently Cairanne and,  most famously, Chateauneuf du Pape. It can all get a little complicated for the outsider. 

While the various designations are much sought after, quite often it comes back to the winemaker. A good winemaker can make a Côtes du Rhône every bit as good as a cru whereas a poor winemaker will more than likely have a poor result even in a cru village. The two below are from opposite ends of the appellation "scale" yet, for me, it is very difficult to pick a clear "winner". 

Chateau de Bastet “Terram” Côtes du Rhône (AOP) 2017, 14%, €14.75 Mary Pawle Wine

Colour is ruby (mid to dark), the liquid attractively bright in the glass. Jammy red fruits (raspberries, strawberries) on the nose and then lively red fruit flavours on the palate, a nice light spice too, delicate tannins, fresh acidity but well balanced for sure. Very accessible and clean (no herbicides, no pesticides here). It is is both organic and biodynamic and the blend is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Very Highly Recommended.

Grenache qualities enhance fruitiness, warmth and body while Syrah can bring a hint of spice, as well as depth in colour and strength to the wine enabling it to age well.

Terram, Latin for land, is one of the four elements, so, not surprisingly, they also produce wines called Aeris, Aqua and Ignis (air, water, fire). Pairings recommended include appetisers, cold cuts, barbecued meat or small goat's cheeses and even more exotic dishes. This could be one of the LDR (light dry reds, now very popular). Recommended serving temperature is 14 degrees, so a slight chilling may be required.

Jérome Quiot Vacqueyras (AOC) 2015, 14.5%, €22.15 (Karwig, now closed)

Rhone wines by the Quiot family were a mainstay in Karwig for many years. This fruit was hand-picked from a single property located at the foot of the famous hills, the Dentelles de Montmirail. You can expect it to match with veal, game birds and cheeses.

Colour is crimson, legs clear slowly. Fairly intense aromas (dark berries, cherries, herbal notes too). Fruit and some spice on the palate, quite a juicy presence. Full bodied with good length on the finish that reflects the palate experience. Very Highly Recommended.

Vacqueyras is almost exclusively red wine country and grapes allowed include Grenache (at least 50%), Syrah  and Mourvedre (at least 20%).

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too. French Wine Fest At SuperValu

Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too
French Wine Fest At SuperValu.

The French have taken over the wine aisle of your local SuperValu and they’ll be entrenched until the last day of the month. So you'd best get in there quickly and take advantage of the current generosity. Some big cuts in regular prices here and other tempting offers; watch out for case deals and also get another ten euro off if you buy six bottles.

The Reds
Remy Ferbras Vacqueyras (AOP) 2015, 14%, €12.00 (20.99)

Colour is ruby red and ripe dark fruits abound in the inviting mix of aromas. There is a great balance between the ripe fruit and spices, plus a hint of liquorice, impressive texture, full bodied and rounded.  A good bottle to have on your table at this time of year, great with duck and roast meat dishes, and also the goat now being sold by Eoin O’Mahony in the English Market. It is SuperValu’s Wine of the Month and Very Highly Recommended. Note that massive discount!

Vacqueyras is one of the nine villages in the Southern Rhone that is allowed its own name as the AOC name. The others are Cairanne (the most recent, 2016), Rasteau, Vinsobres, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Lirac, Tavel and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and all nine are regarded as crus.

The village itself is small and tree lined. Indeed, when I called there a few years back, the summer canopy of leaves had the centre in deep shade in the early afternoon. Looked a bit unreal.

Homage du Rhone Vinsobres (AC) 2015, 15%, €12.00 (15.99)

Vinsobres may not be as well known as its fellow Rhone wine Vacqueyras but it is well worth checking out. Grapes allowed in the Vinsobres are Grenache (50% minimum), Syrah (25%) and/or Mourvedre, other varieties allowed 25% max. Serve, they suggest, at 16 to 17 degrees, with Provencal dishes of lamb or game. Goat perhaps?!

Colour is mid-purple and the legs are indeed slow to clear (as you'd expect with the high ABV). Aromas are rather intense, plum and cherry prominent. Spice and fruit lead on the palate, an intense tango; tannins there too but they are gentle. Bring on the red meat, that game, a stew perhaps, then the cheese. With this in our cups, we are well prepared. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Mauleon Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany (AOP) 2014, 13%, €10.00 (11.99)

This mid to deep purple wine features strong red to darker fruits in the aromas, floral hints too. There is a spicy introduction with strong fruit, the tannins close to velvety. Quite an impressive assemblage of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache. Recommended. Pairing dishes suggested are Mountain ham, Pata Negra, Rack of Lamb (with spices), or Pork chops (with herbs of Provence, stuffed tomatoes or mushrooms and cream).

Les Blancs

Andre Goichot Mâcon-Lugny (AC) 2016, 13%, €10.00 (14.99)

This is a terrific example of French Chardonnay from the grape’s birth place (there is a village called Chardonnay a short drive away). After a few years of tasting, I am coming to the conclusion that most AG wines are good and that quite a few are very good indeed.

This has a very light strawy colour. A nose of stone fruits, floral notes too. Palate features flavours of those fruits (peach, nectarine, apricot) plus apple and citrus too, a crisp acidity, and some minerality also. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.

Andre Goichot Pouilly-Fuissé (AC) Les Feuilles d’Or 2014, 13%, €16.00 (22.99)

Colour is a medium gold and there are aromas of citrus and white fruits among quite a medley. In the mouth, it is smooth, close to creamy, richly fruited and soft with good acidity too plus a lingering finish. An elegant wine indeed, one of my favourites from the sale, and Very Highly Recommended. 

La Baume Elisabeth Viognier Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2016, 14%, €10.00 (12.99)

This friendly, fresh and fruity white wine has a light, and bright, straw colour. Inviting white fruit aromas, floral notes also. The palate delivers a delicious mixture of citrus, peach and apricot flavours, a little tingle too, even a hint of sweetness, yet the fresh finish that follows is lip-smackingly dry. Highly Recommended. Sufficiently full-bodied to pair with Asian cuisine.

Others to note in the sale
Chateau Camp De La Hire 2010 (Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux), 13%, €12.00 (15.99)

Intense colour here; the fruity aromas are also quite intense. Medium to full bodied, with soft tannins, it is fresh and elegant, well balanced and pleasingly complex with long finalé. Highly Recommended.

This is not the Bordeaux of the big chateaux. But the same grapes are used, mainly Merlot in this case. Castillon, one of four Cotes de Bordeaux areas, is squeezed between the Dordogne River to the south, St Emilion (no less) to the immediate west and the Dordogne department to the east.

Alchimie Sauvignon Blanc (Coteaux du Giennois AOC), €12.00 (14.99)

This little known little appellation (202 hectares) on the eastern edge of the Loire Valley northeast of Sancerre (4181 ha) produces almost equal amounts of light-bodied red and white wines. With extensions of Sancerre limestone geological formations into the area, you can expect good Sauvignon Blanc and this doesn't disappoint. Highly Recommended.

Fancy a little sparkler? Try Andre Guichot Vin Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Brut €12.00 (17.99).

Price in brackets indicates the normal price per bottle.