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Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Superb Vin de France
Dômaine Aonghusa Mazuelo 63+, 2011, Vin de France, 14%, €15.30 Karwig Wines.
Irish winemaker Pat Neville made this dark red aromatic wine in his hilly Languedoc vineyard. The word Mazuelo is sometimes used for Carignan in Spain and the 63+ apparently refers to the youngest Carignan vines that were part of the blend.
Unorthodox or not, this is a gorgeous fruity wine, a superb lip smacking red, well balanced and with a good dry finish. Vin de France is a designation that has been used since 2010, partly to replace the Vin de Table. But it is a lucky table that has one of these Aonghusa bottles on it. Very Highly Recommended.
You may read some of Neville's winemaking philosophy - he does have some wines with Corbieres AOC designation - on his website or wait until the Autumn (September 5th) when Karwig Wines will have Pat and his wines at a dinner in Fresco Bistro as part of the WineGeeese Series.
Cave d`Irouleguy, Mignaberry 2010, 13.5℅.
From the western edge of the Pyrenees to the eastern and to what is the smallest French AOC, that of the Basque area called Irouleguy. They use the Tannat grape a lot in their red (and rose) wines, good for the heart but with a reputation of being tough on the palate.
But I reckon the local winemakers have it spot-on here in this award winning red. Harvested by hand and raised in barriques, this wine, purple coloured by the time you pour, is delicious and generous, with good fruit concentration and crisp acidity.
My only problem was that I drank it too soon, should have kept it for a few years. Looks as if I'll have to return to the Pays Basque. Meanwhile, if you are in south west France on hols or at a rugby game, didn’t hesitate to treat yourself to a bottle of Mignaberry and see if you handle the Tannat!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
My Introduction to the Wines of Irouleguy
Irouleguy, not far from the Pyrenees, is among the smallest of the French appellations. It is situated in the Pays Basque and is the only AOC there.
This June, I bought some wines after a tasting in La Cave Irouleguy in the town of St Etienne de Baigorry, which is 32 miles inland from Biarritz. The wines are excellent and the AOC is well worth a visit if you are holidaying on that lovely stretch of the Atlantic Coast.
The grapes used for the red wines are Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. For the whites, they use Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng and Courbu. For me, the highlight was a rosé, which had no less than 80% Tannat!
Argi D’Ansa, Rosé 2011, 12.5%
This is a rich looking pink with a fruity (strawberry) nose. It is fruity and dry, entirely loveable and gluggable. Love at first swallow.
The stern reputation of Tannat can put punters off. “The man’s grape” you hear. Maybe so. But add in 10% Cab Sauv and 10% Cab Franc and you end up with this gem or, at least, the winemakers of Irouleguy did! If you do get down that way, look out for this Gold Medal winner at Paris 2012.
Has a clean golden colour, with complex aromas: fruity and floral. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity, full and elegant, dry and well balanced, second glass appeal. Pronounced Churi, is has been aged on its lees in barrels and casks. It won a Silver medal in Paris 2012. I’d have given it Gold!
Grapes: Gros Manseng 60%, Petit Manseng 30%, Courbu 10%.
Andere D’Ansa, White 2011, 13.5%
This is a Gold medal winner from Paris 2012. It has been two months on lees and the grapes used are Gros Manseng (80%) and Petit Manseng.
Colour is a lovely clean Gold/Green and the nose is aromatic with minty herby hints. On the palate it is dry and fruity (mango, citrus and pineapple). It is fresh and zingy with a sharp finish. Said to go well with fish (including shellfish), sheeps cheese (Including the local Ossau Iraty), Asian cuisine and may be also drank as an aperitif. Another good one.
Gorri D’Ansa, Red 2009, 13.5%
This red, a Gold Medal winner at Paris 2011, has a dark ruby colour and black fruit aromas with hints of white pepper. On the palate it is fruity and slightly spicy with active tannins. This is nicely rounded, a wine of character but perhaps not for beginners. Recommended for lamb, duck and cheese.
The fruit is hand harvested and most of the reds have a high proportion of the Tannat grape. This, with 60%, is no exception. The other grapes are 30% Cab Franc and 10% Cab Sauv.
Premia, Red 2010, 12.5%
Tough going on the steep terraced slopes of Irouleguy and they don’t want to waste all that hard work on crap wines. Quality is the over-riding aim and they achieve it quite regularly as they do here.
This is dark red with a nose of red fruits (Raspberry for me) and floral notes. It has excellent balance, is tasty and fruity, smooth with a good long aromatic finish. Superb match for grilled meats, charcuterie and cheese.
I’m told this is a pretty good one but I’m also told to hold on to it for another three to five years. Will do my best!
The blend is 60% Tannat, 20% Cab Sauv and 20% Cab Franc.