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Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Binner Cuvée Béatrice Pinot Noir Alsace (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €36.50
This Pinot Noir from Alsace was, for me, one of the stars of the Le Caveau portfolio tasting in Cork in March. Heartened by that tasting and also the words of Jean Frédéric Hugel (at a February tasting) that Pinot Noir from the Alsace is now “incomparable to what it was twenty years ago”. I put it on my buying list and didn’t wait long before giving the wine an extended “trial”. I wasn’t disappointed.
I removed the glass closure and poured, its deep pink (rosé, if you like) filling the bottom of the glass. Concentrated red fruit aromas rise up. Those juicy red fruits flavours (mainly strawberry, cherry) engage you as the juice spreads across the palate. Don’t judge a wine by its colour - this has quite a backbone, no wilting rose. Tannins are smooth and there’s a long and satisfying finish. A generous unfiltered Pinot Noir that stands out from the crowd and Very Highly Recommended.
Good acidity too and that makes it an excellent food wine. Recommended pairings are: Filet-mignon, cold meats and terrine with friends, with a white meat, or simply to accompany the cheese plate. Serve at 18 degrees. The label discloses that this organic wine has spent 11 months on lees in traditional large oak foudres (casks).
The Winery doesn’t add sulphur and poses an interesting question about it. I quote, without correction of any kind: When it comes to the idea that natural wines age badly, we must now twist it! Sulfur, and the "wine pharmacopoeia" that appeared only 60 years ago, never helped to preserve the first great wines. It is only after the appearance of fertilizers and pesticides that sulfur has invaded our cellars to rectify the imbalances introduced to the vineyard. How did they do before modern oenology?
I’ve been enjoying some excellent Pinot Noir recently. Any tips on what I should add to this list:
Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (Oregon USA) 2014
Justin Girardin “Clos Rousseau” Santenay 1er Cru 2015
De Loach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma County (California)
Binner Cuvée Béatrice Pinot Noir Alsace (AOP) 2016
Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard New Zealand
Craggy Range Martinborough New Zealand
Little Yering Pinot Noir Australia
Joseph Mellot Le Connétable, Cuvée Prestige, Loire
Hugel 2009 Pinot Noir Alsace.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Two Very Enjoyable Reds from Bordeaux.
Larose Perganson Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois (AOC), 2007, 13%, €26.20 Karwig Wines
A keen sense of anticipation as I opened this one, pulling out a cork that had been there for about eleven years. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot and has been one hundred per cent raised in oak (40% new).There is no let-down here, quite the contrary. I decanted for an hour as advised and served somewhere close to the 16-18 degrees on the label.
Colour is a dark ruby with lighter rim; legs are slow enough to clear even if the abv is not that high. Ripe fruit aromas (blackberries, blackcurrants), a touch of chocolate too. Ample and fleshy, classic and elegant, spicy too, soft and well integrated tannins, a superb finish, fruity, smooth, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended. Look out too for the 2010 as it is supposed to be even better!
Pair with hard cheese, grilled lamb or a juicy steak.
Cru Bourgeois is an evolving classification: Since 2010, the official selection has been published annually. Criteria: The quality and value of red wines produced in one of the eight Médoc appellations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe.
Each year, between 243 and 278 properties, often family-owned, form the Crus Bourgeois Alliance, accounting for more than 40% of the Médoc's production. From the 2016 vintage, there are three tiers of quality; Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. It is an evolving system! Read more about it here.
Chateau Turcaud Cuvée Majeure Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
|Stéphane Le May of Chateau Turcaud|
This award winner from the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers has quite a dark ruby robe. A great bouquet of ripe cherry and berry, smoky notes too. Intense flavour, a touch of sweet spice, tannins are very soft, superb character and it has a lovely lingering finish. Well balanced, well made. Well, try it! Very Highly Recommended.
It is a Bordeaux Supérieur and is, as is usual in these parts, a blend. The grapes are Merlot (about two thirds) and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged for about 15 months in oak barrels (new barrels and ones used for 1 or 2 previous vintages).
Chateau Turcaud recommend pairing it with full-flavoured meats such as rib of beef, game, duck breast, and strong cheeses. and say it is best decanted one hour before the meal. The wine name comes from the Sauve-Majeure Abbey that overlooks the vineyard and that I had the pleasure of climbing a few years ago, all of its 159 steps.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
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).
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
I’ve known for a while now that the annual Nouveau affair is not meant to last very long. She’s certainly a palate pleaser, with "more of a floral bouquet" this year, and even those wine-merchants who talk her down during the year are all so eager to sing her praises while she’s on the premises. By all means enjoy the date. But, when the one-night stand is over, it will be time to take a look for a more long-lasting relationship with Beaujolais and I've got a few mature suggestions from my little black book!
Chateau du Chatelard Brouilly, Karwig €19.25
Karwig Wines have relied on Chateau du Chatelard for years now and I’ve always liked their Brouilly (19.25). There are ten Crus in Beaujolais and Brouilly is the largest. This bottle has concentrated aromas and flavours. It may throw a little sediment so no harm in decanting it. Enjoy and look forward to a longer acquaintance!
|Jamie Goode gave a|
Beaujolais masterclass in
Cork earlier this year.
Juliénas, Domaine de la Conseillère, €20.95, O’Brien’s
This is pretty much faultless: expressive fruity aromas, well rounded, ripe fruit, long finish.
Chateau des Jacques Moulin À Vent 2012, €28.00 Mitchell & Son
A challenging vintage from the best known cru. Vineyard owned by Louis Jadot since 1996. This is a Burgundian style, oak included, the colour is towards Pinot Noir. At a Louis Jadot tasting with Findlaters earlier in the year, I found it very approachable, fruit driven with a refreshing acidity. In Moulin à Vent, the Gamay grape thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel!
Domaine Jean Foillard Cote du Py, Morgon 2013, €34.20 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This, from the second largest of the crus, is a standout wine.
Colour is a light ruby. Look closer and you’ll see a little cloudiness - no worries, this is a natural wine. Aromas hint of red cherry, berries too. The palate is out on its own, red fruits and a little spice, that typical balancing acidity again, tannins are fine and then a superb finalé.
The fact that the vines are grown on “one of the best sites of the entire Beaujolais region”, on an extinct volcano, plus the use of minimum intervention (the use of oak is minimal), makes this a rather unique expression of the Gamay. You could well settle down with this single vineyard Beaujolais gem.
Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines
In Fleurie, Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.
Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.
This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage.
Villa Ponciago Les Pierres Bleues Morgon 2016, Searson's 21.95
The fruit is grown on a mix of blue schist and ancient igneous type rocks. Complex aromas, excellent fruit, some grip, acidity too and a superb finish. Very very impressive. In 2016 and 2017, the quantity of wine produced in Beaujolais was down because of hail but the quality was up.
Saint Amour, Maison Jean Loron, Domaine Des Billards, Classic Drinks.
If your love is on the serious side rather than flirty, then this Saint Amour is the Beaujolais for you and him/her. Colour is a youthful ruby with aromas of small red fruits combined with a spicy note of chocolate is unveiled quickly. In the mouth, the attack is round and supple, then a pleasant and persistent. A beauty from the most northerly Cru. The 2017 edition earned 16.50 from 20 from Jancis Robinson.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Different Worlds but Two Super Red Wines
Domaine Sainte Croix Celèstra Corbieres (AOC) 2013, 14.5%, €29.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Sainte Croix in the Languedoc is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, who have extensive experience of working both in classic French stone ‘caves’ and giant, steel wineries in many parts of the world. From first sight of the unique geology and ‘climat’ here, professional intuition made it clear that it is an area of immense potential, a potential they consistently realise in their wines and illustrated well in this Celèstra, a blend of 50% Grenache (from 1968 vines) and 50% Syrah (from 1984 vines).
It is a dark red, verging on purple; legs are slow to clear, confirming the big alcohol count. Intense dark fruits (plums, blackberries) on the nose, Intense too on the palate, concentrated red and black fruits, spice prominent too. Tannins also in the mix as this attractive wine finishes long and well. Very Highly Recommended.
The name Celèstra is taken from an Occitan word for blue (origin latin caelum, meaning sky. . .). “As a wine with a highly Languedocian profile, it could be said to be from ‘le grand bleu’.” It is an organic wine, unfined, unfiltered. It has been 100% matured sur lie in 300 litre barrels (3-5 fill) for 18 months. Blended and returned to tank for 6 months before bottling. Enjoy!
El Abasto Malbec Mendoza (Argentina) 2017, 13.5%, €16.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This vibrant fruity full-bodied wine is named after an 1983 established market that became also a centre for tango, poetry, and culture.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. Lots of rich red and darker fruit, plus a touch of violet, in the aromas. Juicy and lively, full-bodied, a touch of spice, exceptionally smooth all the way to the excellent finish. Now where’s that steak? Also just the job with selection of charcuterie, cold cuts, firm cheeses, burgers, pasta with red sauce. Versatile is the word! This young very approachable wine is Very Highly Recommended. And it can be served chilled, though you probably won’t need to do that at this time of year!
There are, according to Wines of South America, two main factors that help Malbec thrive in Mendoza. The low rainfall (12” as against 30” Bordeaux) and its timing, falling mostly in the summer, promotes ripening and minimises desease. Second, Mendoza’s wide thermal amplitude (put simply, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) promotes aromatic development and softened tannins.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky No. 9 White Blend (Dundee, Oregon, USA) NV, 12%, €24.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This is worth trying; it is excellent, in the same way that Gentil from Alsace vineyards can be surprisingly delicious. Gentil are multi-grape blends and so is this non vintage white. The grapes used are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Sémillon, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. It is a non-oaked wine and was introduced in 1998 and this is the 19th edition.
Evolution No. 9 is a play on the Beatles number Revolution No. 9. Sokol Blosser say the white was created out of the desire to make a fun wine, one that would accompany the modern predilection for "yoking different kinds of food together" and is “very much more than the sum of its very disparate parts”. Pair it with spicy Asian, Indian, Mexican and Caribbean foods. Or with a jambalaya.
Pioneers Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971 in the Dundee Hills. Their vineyards are farmed organically; local organic straw, organic cow and horse manure, grape pomace from the crush and organic rock phosphate contribute to the composting. The insect population is kept in check by a resident flock of bluebirds.
It has a pale straw colour but the juice looks really good and clean in the bottle and you’re thinking this is a good one, your opinion reinforced by the fairly intense mix of lush and tropical aromas. Again that same amalgam of fruit on the smooth palate, a touch of sweetness early on but there is excellent acidity in there too that ensures a satisfying crisp finalé. Very Highly Recommended. The Evolution Big Time Red, was first released in 2012, and is on my list!
Alfredo Maestro Viña Almate Castilla y León (VT) 2016, 14%, €14.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
The Tempranillo grapes for this wine are grown in Peñafiel in Ribera del Duero but, according to Spanish Wine Lover, it has always been sold as VT Castilla y León. Le Caveau say the wine is raised for four months in neutral French oak; it is unfined, unfiltered and very low SO2.
Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are quite complex, ripe red fruits prominent. Red fruit flavours too on the generous palate, while a touch of spice heightens the pleasure of this easy drinking young wine. Highly Recommended. This is Alfredo’s flagship wine and Spanish Wine Lover rates it “as outstanding within its type and style”.
From the beginning, in 1998, Alfredo farmed organically, his mantra: “Wine made with only grapes, well-kept vineyards, and healthy land.” With more land and experience now at his disposal, Alfredo is one to watch as the story of his pure and elegant wines evolves.Look out for more well-made wines from the man "known as the 'magician of the Duero’, a prominent exponent of the natural wine movement in Spain.Wine briefs
SuperValu's current wine sale continues until October 10th and is headlined by their mix and match offer of 6 bottles for €50.00. Plenty of choice so I had quick look and here's my half-dozen, three white and three red.
1 ABELLIO ALBARIÑO
2 ARESTI TRISQUEL SAUVIGNON BLANC
3 BURDIZZO VERMENTINO TOSCANA
4 HOMMAGE DU RHONE VINSOBRES
5 CHATEAU HAUT BERTINERIE RED
6 CASA DE LA ERMITA CRIANZA
O'Brien's have dozens of wines of offer also for the month but what really caught my eye is their Organic Wine Masterclass on October 18th. Details below:
Introduced by expert Sommelier François Pages from Gérard Bertrand, guests will be led through a selection of Gérard Bertrand’s finest wines, including the exquisite single-vineyard, Clos d’Ora. Learn about the organic and biodynamic philosophies that are at the heart of each Gérard Bertrand wine and the meticulous attention to detail in the cellar.
The Masterclass will begin at 7.30pm and a light cheese board will be served to accompany the wines.
Tickets: €25 - Available online HERE
There'll be a discount on the night for any orders placed on Gérard Bertrand wines.
Date: Thursday October 18th
Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 2.
A week earlier, SPIT – out of the Ordinary wines from artisan wineries represented by four independent wine companies, GrapeCircus, Nomad, VinosTito and WineMason - will be held on October 11th in The Chocolate Factory (Dublin). Details here.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Domaine de la Zouina Volubilia Rouge Classic Morocco (VDQS) 2012, 13.5%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
In 2001, two French golfers went to Morocco to play. A few stray shots later and they bought this estate. Gérard Gribelin (Chateau de Fieuzal) and Philippe Gervoson (Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion) knew their stuff, invested in their new 85 hectare vineyard and soon their Bordeaux experience was reaping rewards in Africa.
This Volubilia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), with Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo and has a mid to dark cherry colour. Nose is fairly intense with cherry, blackcurrant, meat and smoke. Big supple palate, juicy and fruity and just a hint of soft tannins, a touch of spice also. A velvety soft red with a long dry finish.
Volubilis, a partly excavated Berber and Roman settlement and an UNESCO heritage site, is 45 minutes away from the vineyard and in this series of wines you’ll also find a white, a rosé and a gris. And that gris featured in the 2017 novel There was a crooked man by Irish writer Cat Hogan. Both the wine and the thriller are Highly Recommended.
Domaine de la Ville Rouge “Inspiration” Croze-Hermitage (AP) 2015, 13%, €22.95
This gorgeous youngish Syrah is organically produced, matured 12 months in stainless steel (80%) and in oak (20%). Try it, they say, with poultry, red meats ad cheese. I had it with a fairly young cheddar and it was perfect.
It has quite a dark red robe. Plum and spice on the nose, rather ripe plums. Fresh and medium bodied, that plum is an assertive character on the concentrated palate, good acidity though, close to smooth tannins, approachable and easy-drinking, yet with a certain elegance. Young or not, this is a fairly serious wine and Very Highly Recommended. By the way, no guarantee that a glass of Inspiration will lead to a novel!