Showing posts with label Grenache. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grenache. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Two Excellent Reds For Santa's Bigger Helpers. A Grenache/Mourvèdre Blend from St Chinian and A Malbec From Argentina's Mendoza

Two Reds For Santa's Bigger Helpers. 

A Grenache/Mourvèdre Blend from St Chinian

A Malbec From Argentina's Mendoza


Chateau Bousquette Pruneyrac St Chinian (DOC) 2018, 14.5%

R.R.P. €17.90. The Quay Co-Op, Cork/ Scally's Supervalu, Clonakilty
// The Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny // 

This is a big wine from the Midi, full of the aromas and flavours of organic Grenache (50%) and Mourvèdre.

Colour is purple, a little lighter at the edge, tears are slow to clear. Aromas are expressive: spice, pepper, wild berries and the local garrigue. On the palate it is harmonious, with intense flavours and silky tannins. Finish is long and spicy.  Very Highly Recommended

The Domaine de la Bousquette was the property of the Abbaye de Foncaude until the French Revolution. A long line of winegrowers, including the Fabre-Ginoulhac family who managed it until 1996, followed before it was taken over by Swiss winegrowers Eric and Isabelle Perret

It was very early on, in 1972, that the Domaine de la Bousquette joined the " Nature et Progrès " charter, and is now regularly certified by Ecocert for organic farming, without chemical fertilisers, weedkillers or pesticides.

This cuvée is named after an old family from the region, who were very involved in the estate at the beginning of the century, as evidenced by old bottles found in the cellars. Pruneyrac is in Saint-Chinian, an appellation in the large southern France region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

Uncork about 1 hour before the meal and serve with, for example, with lamb shoulder confit with sweet onions and ginger. Perfect too with a leg of lamb, cassoulet, strong cheese or a barbecue. By the way, this juicy red is excellent with turkey!


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 



El Abasto Malbec Mendoza (Argentina) 2018, 14% ABV, 

RRP €19.35. 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

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 disease. Second, Mendoza’s wide thermal amplitude (put simply, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) promotes aromatic development and softened tannins. The proof’s in a glass of this vibrant fruity full-bodied wine.

Where did the name come from. The label tells us that by the end of the 19th century, Buenos Aires was growing significantly due to migration from Europe. The El Abasto market opened in 1893 and, with many immigrant neighbourhoods, it quickly became also a centre for Tango, poetry, and culture.

Mid to dark ruby is the colour. The aromas are full of jammy dark and red fruit, all saying welcome, come on. And in the mouth, it is equally loveable, totally gluggable. That punchy yet soft fruit (plum, blackberry) comes in a medium body, and the wine is smooth right through to the finalé. Put this on your Malbec shortlist. Highly Recommended.

Pair with charcuterie, cold cuts, firm cheeses, steaks, burgers, pasta with red sauce and, among other things, Wine Folly suggests melted blue cheese.. And it can be served chilled, though you probably won’t need to do that at this time of year!

We can get some excellent Malbec from Cahors (in the south west of France) where it originated and is known as Côt. But is has found a welcoming home in Argentina and is the country’s most important grape. Indeed most of the world’s Malbec is now grown in Argentina.


Best Value Wines 2022 Under €18.00. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Monday, May 31, 2021

A Couple Of Excellent French Wines To Consider, from Burgundy to Bouche du Rhone

A Couple Of Excellent French Wines To Consider, from Burgundy to Bouche du Rhone

Cowboy of the Rhone Delta

Domaine Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Chardonnay  Couteaux Bourguignons (AC) 2018, 13%

€19.40 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Light gold is the colour of this Chardonnay from Burgundy. Citrus and floral notes in the aromas. A citrus-y tingle as it hits the palate, an excellent acidity.  This fresh and lively wine, a wonderful drop indeed, is very well made and Very Highly Recommended. The wine is fermented in 1-, 2- and 3-year-old 400-l oak barrels, where it stays for a period of 10 months and we benefit beautifully because of it. The wine is not fined and only lightly filtered. The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of around nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines.


Le Caveau say: Harvested manually, neither filtered nor fined, the wines are classic and expressive with distinct terroir-influenced personalities.

Maison Ambroise is a long established, small négociant house, who operates on 21 hectares of their own vineyards and purchase grapes from another 3. They own vines in Prémeaux, Nuits-St-Georges, Ladoix, Meursault, the hill of Corton, Vosne-Romanée (with some Grand Cru Echezeaux!), Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Beaune and as far as Saint-Romain. Bertrand Ambroise has been a key figure in the development of the estate and this wine is named for his grand-daughter.

Some official info from the area: This appellation Coteaux Bourguignons, created in 2011 covers red, white, and rosé wines, grown over four départements. The Coteaux Bourguignons appellation covers wines that can be blended or come from a single varietal, and which can use some more old-fashioned varietals. The word rosé can be replaced by the word Clairet.

This Bourgogne blanc is very adaptable at the table. It makes it a delicate and tasty pre-dinner drink while its wide-ranging and persistent aromatic spectrum (thanks to the Chardonnay grape) makes it a team player in the kitchen, especially with fish and shellfish. Its native power enables it to prevail over onion tarts as well as over a wide variety of soft and hard cheeses such as Brie, Vacherin, Saint-Nectaire, Mont-d’Or, Beaufort, Comté and all varieties of Gruyère.

Serving temperature: 11 to 13°C.

Saint-Cyrgues, Saint-Cirice 'Syrah - Grenache’ VdP du Gard (IGP) 2019, 13.5%

€14.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Cherry red in colour, this blend from Costiers de Nîmes is produced with 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Marselan and 10% Merlot. Cherry and raspberry in the aromas. 'Saint Cirice' is the estate's entry level red and is rich and a little spicy. A good finish too.

Costières de Nîmes is in the Rhone delta and has those rounded pebbles (decent sized stones!), indeed the terroir is very close to that of Côtes du Rhone. It is well known over the decades for producing good wines and is one place in France where you can get exceptional value and this Highly Recommended bottle is an excellent illustration!

Le Caveau sum it up well: It will have broad appeal and would be a perfect choice for a house wine, or for any occasion where the need for a pleasurable drop and a keen price are essential.

St Cyrgues is an estate with vineyards along the southern slopes of the Costières de Nîmes which has a history of vine cultivation dating back centuries, and it was bought in 1991 by a young Swiss couple, Evelyne and Guy de Mercurio, and is run along organic lines.

Quite a versatile wine at the table. Suggestions noted are to serve it with wild mushroom risotto, gardiane ( a local stew made from smoked bacon, black olives and garlic) or a chunk of tomme cheese. Should perform well when matching up with roasted or barbecued meats so would do well during your Sunday lunch.

Nimes is the major city in the area in the eastern Languedoc, the city where denim (de Nimes) was invented. If you go to see the local bullfights (spectacular action fests where the athletes are more at risk than the bulls) you’ll note that the people involved with the bulls and the horses (paraded through the town before the spectacle), are kitted out in

denim just like your cowboy.

Under Pont du Gard - definitely not a cowboy

Friday, June 12, 2020

Les Frères Bréchet are busy in the Southern Rhone. Making wine in Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and now Rasteau.

Les Frères Bréchet are busy in the Southern Rhone.
Making wine in Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and now Rasteau.

The Bréchet brothers, from the Southern Rhone, were the presenters of the latest in the  Zoom series of Liberty Wine masterclasses. Laurent works in Châteauneuf du Pape (Château de Vaudieu, the family flagship) while Julien may be found in Gigondas (Domaine des Bosquets). Liberty MD David Gleave introduced the siblings saying they each had a top estate in their respective appellations, both primarily growing Grenache. “So Gigondas or Chateauneuf, which is better? That’s today’s question.”

But the Bréchets were not to be drawn on that one! Indeed when David asked which wine they’d be having for lunch the reply, a nifty sidestep, was “We love Burgundy!” 
Laurent (left) and Julien

Towards the end, in the Question and Answer session, they were asked which was their favourite from the other brother. No hesitation from Julian: The Cuvée “Val de Dieu” from 2016. It has an extraordinary balance, a wine I would like every day". Laurent opted for Julian’s Le Lieu Dit 2017: The right expression of grenache, even more than the ’16”. So there you are, two good tips for you!

Q: Which region, aside from the Rhone, is best for Grenache?
A: Laurent picked Espana (Priorat) and California. Julien: “The same. But we are in a good place here!”.
Flowering in progress

Another questioner pointed to the tendency of Grenache to be high in alcohol. What other variety would you use to keep the abv down? Cinsault makes a very fine wine and with an abv 1.5% less than Grenache it could be the answer.

The men were sitting in Gigondas for the presentation  and reported that the growing season was going okay, a good period in flowering, the key to make good things. As it stands, all goes well, we’re happy, not late or anything, we are smiling!
Château de Vaudieu

Laurent said he was harvesting earlier and earlier, “Not just because of rising temperatures but to keep acidity. We might lose a little colour but we want to make a wine with personality. The soil, different to Gigondas, makes a difference.” And then he smiled: “as does the winemaker”. Julien said he was helped by being able to harvest a little earlier as compared to Chateauneuf. “Perfect maturity is an aim, we are always seeking the balance. Gigondas tends to have more freshness, while you get more maturity at C-d-P.”

Julian: “When I was younger I used oak but wines were not as expressive as I wanted”. Now he uses big old vats as he doesn’t want to put too much between the consumer and the expression of the terroir. Laurent wants to emphasise the elegance of the wine, so he makes wine with precision and attention to detail.
Domaine des Bosquets

Julien is now in organic conversion and that leads to lower yields and he’s happy with that as, with higher yields, you “can lose the personality". Laurent seeks the happy medium saying that “less is not always better.”

David Gleave asked Julien why he had chosen organic. Julien: “In order to be honest, you have to be clean. The best way to express the terroir is to go organic. Bosquets is a small estate, so not hard to convert. We are also a more isolated vineyard and the neighbours are organic as well. Clean grapes need less intervention in my mind, a good way to be.”

Laurent is not organic but sustainable. “We try to spray the  minimum. No herbicides, reduced sulphites and we limit production.”

And then there’s the style of wine. Julien has learned his terroir. “It's like a mosaic of terroirs, very different, different exposures, different altitude (from 180m to 400m). Each plot must be considered on its own merits.” Fourteen different plots have been designated and are each matured separately. “Blending is now more precise and better”. Indeed, so precise, that in 2019, only four of the 14 were considered good enough to be used. You do hear Julien using “No compromise” quite often.

Laurent said that while the traditional style is still loved by some customers that “we now like to have more elegance, more acidity, better balance. That’s what people like to drink now. If wine is too big, you might start the bottle but not finish. With harmony and acidity, you can enjoy it fully.”

“We are not against tradition,” said Julien. “We are improving on it by being more precise. No compromise in the process and the wine will not be just good, it will be better.”

Laurent is excited about a new project in the Rasteau appellation: “When I saw the plot, I said we’ll make something nice here. The idea is not to go too rich, to go more easy-drinking. It is a small plot, easier to control. We have a good team there and using old oak from the existing vineyard.”

And if you like the Rasteau Vin Deux Naturel (red, white and rancio), as one participant does, then rest assured. “It is still being made in the appellation and we want to restart it in our plot. We work on that. It will take time.” Laurent himself was quite excited about the ambré version of the VDN.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Two Excellent Wines from Macon and Minervois.

Two Excellent Wines
 from Macon and Minervois.

If you like Maconnais, as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald did, then you’ll have love this. Coming from the northern reaches of the Mâcon, it is an unoaked Chardonnay and is  is new to the shelves at O’Briens.

Pale gold is the colour, clean and bright. Apple and lime and a floral touch too in the aromas. On the palate it is crisp and fresh, an array of citrus and melon flavours, nice bit of acidity also, an almost creamy mouthfeel and a good long finish. I’ve always enjoyed wines from this region, this is no exception and is Very Highly Recommended.

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.

I’ve read this is an excellent wine to serve with oven roasted scallops in the shell with herb cream. Then again, Hemingway’s pairing with truffled roast chicken sounds very interesting as well.
Money was no problem to Hemingway but many of us would struggle to buy some of the better Chardonnays from Burgundy. The Mâconnais, as illustrated here, offers an excellent introduction at a much lower price point than the Côte de Beaune and so on.

Dark ruby is the colour of this supple unoaked Minervois from certified sustainably farmed vineyards. It is the classic GSM blend:  Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

 In the intense aromas you’ll find black fruits (plums, cherry). Soft, juicy, fruity, terrific balance and a long finish. This easy-drinking rather elegant wine, with silky tannins, is relatively new to the O’Briens portfolio. Full bodied and lush, immediately loveable, with a persistent finish and a touch of spice, this is Very Highly Recommended. Pair with paté, roasted meats and pasta. Serve at 18 degrees.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Head South For This Smashing Pair, One White, One Red. Or Just Head to O'Brien's

Head South For This Smashing Pair,
 One White, One Red.
Or Just Head to O'Brien's!

Domaine Begude “Etoile” Chardonnay Limoux (AOC) 2018, 13.5%, €18.95 (21.95)

Beautiful mid-gold colour. The aromatics are quite complex, regular fruit (such as apple and pear) along with the exotic (mango) in the mix. It is certainly more of the exotic on the rich palate, quite a rounded almost creamy mouthfeel, more complex than most French Chardonnays (not that there is such a thing as a typical Chardonnay as the chameleon grape makes itself at home wherever it finds itself), good acidity too though, so the long finish is harmonious.

This Highly Recommended wine should be fine with salmon and trout, with roast chicken (even roast turkey!). The winery also says it is “heavenly with Comté & other hard cheese”. Worth a try so with Hegarty’s Templegall though I know cheesemaker Jean-Baptise may prefer a Saint-Emilion.

This certified organic wine, full-bodied and smooth, is crafted from Chardonnay grapes high in the cool climate region (hot summer days and cool nights) of Limoux. Fertilised using only natural manures and cultivated with the utmost respect for the environment, this wine is vinified and matured in the very best French oak to bring you “our finest cuvée, Etoile”.

Colour is a dark red. Intense nose of dark fruits, notes of spice, perhaps a hint of the garrigue, the scrub that thrives around here. I once stayed in a gite in Languedoc owned by a Madam Garrigue. Like the senior citizen Madame, this wine is amazingly smooth (the madame used tidy up the pool in her bikini every evening). Must say that gite was great value for money and I can indeed say the same about this Prestige, fresh, and full of fruit, enhanced by nine months in oak. No pesticides, no herbicides, just excellent value (more so with the current reduction). 

Garrigue, by the way, is a feminine noun. And since I’m on gender, the French language version of the label indicates that Syrah is feminine while Carignan and Mourvedre, the other two in this blend, are masculine!

O’Brien’s tell us that Caraguilhes is completely organic, “this estate was using organic techniques when it was virtually unheard of anywhere else”. The Prestige is their oak-aged Reserve wine and is a seriously stylish wine. 

As regards keeping the wine, the winery advices that while it has potential of 6 or 7 years, it can be drunk today. Decant one hour in advance and serve at around 15 degrees. Food pairings: Provencal lamb (if you don’t have Herbes de Provence, try thyme, sage and rosemary), roast grilled beef with olives, quail in truffle sauce. Enjoy.

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.