Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts

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.

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.

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.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Two Outstanding Wines from Lesser-known Grapes.


Two Outstanding Wines from Lesser-known Grapes.

“Semplicemente Vino” Bellotti Bianco 2017, 11.5%, €22.75 

A simple wine, made for everyday drinking. Will do well at weekends too, I’d say. Highly Recommended. 

Cascina Degli Ulivi is a biodynamic farm located on the hills of the Gavi region (South Piemonte, Italy) and it is here that the Cortese grapes for this white wine are grown biodynamically. No sulphites are added and unusually the closure is a crown cap. 

The Cortese are raised in 11 ton oak vats (50%) and the rest in stainless steel. The result is described by Le Caveau as “like a Jura wine”.

It has a mid yellow colour. Aromas are a rich mix of white fruits from the orchard (think apple peel), honey, with some spice too. More citrus-y in the mouth. It is subtle on the palate, complex too with a long dry finish, toasty, nutty, hints of sherry. 

Crown cap
Simple yes but not for slugging. Just take a sip, it has got so much going for it in terms of flavour and aroma and satisfaction. Best drunk young and here are a few food recommendations from the winery: great with vegetable starters, egg based pasta or soft cheese.

Cortese is not that well-known, though it is the grape from which Gavi is made. Can have too much acidity but barrique fermentation can counter this. No over-acidity in this young and well-made Bianco so it looks as if those huge barrels have done their work well.

In 2017 the estate lost 80% of production due to the frost in April and the summer drought. “In order to be able to produce this wine we have bought biodynamic grapes from various friend producers whom we trust and thank."

Adega Cachín “Peza do Rei” Ribeira Sacra (DO) 2015, 13%, €19.35


Ourense is the name of both a city and a province in Galicia in North West Spain and here on the steep hillsides you’ll find the spectacular vineyards of Ribeira Sacra (the sacred riverside). Adega Cachín is a small (70,000 bottles), compact no-frills winery built into the hillside.

Many of us will not have heard of Ribeira Sacra, the DO, and the grape Mencía is also among the lesser known.  It is pronounced “Men-thee-ah”, according to Wine Folly, who go on to say that it is a  “medium-bodied red wine grape that produces high quality wines with floral and red fruit flavors. If you love aromatic red wines like Pinot Noir and Gamay, Mencía is definitely worth tasting.” This Peza do Rei would make an excellent start on that particular journey of discovery.

Colour is a mid-ruby. Aromas of medium intensity (lighter red berried fruits). Fresh and fruity with good acidity, not unlike a young Cabernet Franc from Chinon or Bourgueil. Redcurrant and raspberry in the flavour mix. This is a balanced, soft easy-drinking wine with a long refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau indicate matching it with local chorizo stew, cured meats, even the local pulpo a la galega octopus with paprika and olive oil. I think the “local” is in Galicia but I’ve no doubt we could come up with some very worthy Irish equivalents! Think too it would go well with some of those sharing boards down in Kinsale’s Crackpots Encore. Pulpo, piano and Peza all night long!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

An Outstanding Pinot Noir from Alsace.


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.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Pinot Noir on the Double!


Pinot Noir on the Double!
 One from Oregon and one from Burgundy.

Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (Oregon USA) 2014, 14%, €46.55 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Unusually, this US winery gives a list of “contents” on the bottle: Sun. Rain. Drizzle. More sun, Some fog. The fruits of sustainable farming. Flavours of black cherry and raspberry mingling with earth and truffle. Aromas of the same. 16 m in French oak. Love and Care.

Put them all together and you get an excellent organic wine. The word “Estate” on the label is significant in that the fruit for this wine comes from virtually every parcel of the farm.

Colour is the classic light ruby. Aromas of raspberry and cherry, a little hint of the oak. Amazing flavours, cherry and plum, intense and seductive. Oak is well integrated, tannins retain some grip. And this fragrant, silky and harmonious wine boasts a long satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

“A beverage of pleasure” may be an apt description here. The phrase was used by a certain Mr Robert Parker though he was probably referring to wine that was much bigger and bolder than this elegant Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir thrives at Sokol Blosser and the exceptional red (volcanic) jory soils of the Dundee Hills provide a good home. The estate 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.

Dundee Hills is an important AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the Willamette Valley and is well established as a centre for top quality wine and the World Atlas of Wine confirms that, “since the mid 1970s, Oregon and Pinot Noir have been inextricably linked”.


Justin Girardin “Clos Rousseau” Santenay 1er Cru 2015, 13%, €33.99 JN Wine 



This juicy and fresh Pinot Noir has spent about 15 months in French oak barrels, 20 per cent of which were new. Many organic techniques are used in the Girardin Burgundy vineyard and the wine is bottled “on a favourable lunar day”.

And, yes, I’m tempted to say I’m over the moon about this one, Very Highly Recommended. It has a light ruby colour. There are attractive scents of ripe cherries and strawberries.

Delicate fruit flavours and a modest touch of spice ooze seamlessly together across the palate. Gentle tannins and acidity help make this a food wine. Delicate and modest yes but enveloping all is a seductive harmony that takes it all the way through to a long and very satisfying finish, delivered with finesse.

Suggested pairings: Red meats, game, mature cheeses, Coq au Vin and almost any chicken or poultry dish prepared with mushrooms.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Superb Wines from Austria's Judith Beck


Superb Wines from Austria's Judith Beck
Beck Blaufränkisch 2016, 12%,€17.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This organic wine from Austria is produced by Judith Beck from the Blaufränkisch grape, the second most widely grown red grape in the country but not very well-known outside of it.

Colour is quite an intense red. Aromas of darker fruits (plum, cherry). Those dark fruit flavours are intense, spicy too, excellent acidity; tannins have a noticeable grip (nothing too serious though). This inviting medium-bodied wine, vibrant and refreshing, is Highly Recommended.

Since 2007 Judith Beck has produced wines in accordance with biodynamic principles. The winery is housed in an impressive airy new building in the middle of the vineyards from Gols. Now the emphasis is on refining the style whilst capturing the potential of the grapes. Judith is passionate about the traditional red wine varieties: Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. 
Le Caveau say that Judith is an impressively calm, thoughtful person and that sense of relaxation seems to transmit itself into her wines, which possess a lightness of touch not always apparent in this region.  

You can meet her Wednesday 15th May  at The Chocolate Factory, King’s Inn Street, Dublin 1, the venue for the “The Real Wine Fair”, a one-day wine fair celebrating artisan growers who farm organically and/or biodynamically in the vineyard and make wine with minimal interventions in the winery. 



Beck Chardonnay 2016, Burgenland Austria, 12%, €18.95  64 Wine DublinBradley’s of CorkGreenman DublinLe Caveau Kilkenny

Le Caveau, who bring the fabulous Judith Beck wines into Ireland, say the region around Lake Neusiedl is particularly suited to cultivate Burgundy varieties and provides optimum conditions for Chardonnay (most of the Beck wines are red). “Manual harvest, matured for 5 months on its lees, the wine has developed a tasty richness without losing any of its focus and brightness.”

Colour is a light start yellow. Fairly intense fruit on the nose (peach, apple), floral notes too and a mild hint of spice. Lively and delicious, full and creamy, acidity enough, and with a long dry finish. Harmonious from start to finish. Very Highly Recommended.Try with fish or poultry dishes or pasta or on its own.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A South African to Savour and Sweet from Spain.

This is a very young estate, the first vines planted by owners Brian and Marion Smith in 2007; it is now certified biodynamic. Marion is from Ballyjamesduff and they set up in Elgin having sold their IT business in London to pursue their dream of farming organically. The farm had lain idle for some time and that made it easier to go organic. Marion: “We are living the dream and have wonderful workers here.” 
It is not just vines. Marion is the largest breeder of Dexter cattle (the native Irish breed) in the Western Cape. Sheep “mow” the grass between the vines. Their ducks also help. “These are hatched on our farm and trained to eat pests daily.” Lots of eggs too from the ducks and the chickens.

What does she miss about County Cavan? “I miss the long bright evenings sitting out in Ireland”. Darkness falls rapidly here. Be sure and take a look at the website. Elgin Ridge is a gorgeous place, so many animals.

The name comes from the fact that the vines grow at 282 metres, “the ideal height to create cool climate Sauvignon Blanc in the Elgin Valley. Organic farming gives the wine its elegant and unique flavour”. The vines benefit from the cool afternoon breeze and the proximity of the ocean.

Colour is a very pale yellow. Aromas of peach and apricot, gooseberry too. A vibrant wine, with a beautiful freshness, savoury yet full of ripe fruit. That palate also carries a classic mineral counterpunch and there is a satisfying lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.

It is a good food wine, a great match with our local Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid Goats Cheese. Fish (including scallop and squid) and pasta are also recommended.

Heredad de Emina Moscatel Castilla y Leon (Vino de la Tierra), 12%, Heart of Spain (Cork).
This is a sweet wine, not all-out sweet by the way. It is produced from the Muscatel grape; fermentation is halted to leave a natural sweetness; no spirit is added so ABV is in the normal range. It is ideal with desserts and snacks.
Colour is a light straw. Aromas hint at blossom and citrus. Excellent body, white and yellow fruit flavours and the natural acidity kicks in to balance. Use as they recommend (lighter desserts, though) and a glass is excellent too as an aperitif. A lovely little number and Recommended.
  • Didn’t keep the receipt and it is not listed on their website but I think it is priced in the low to mid teens.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Two Very Enjoyable Reds from Bordeaux.


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.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Frank Hederman: “Great talker. Great smoker”


Hederman: “Great talker. Great smoker”

How do you know when it’s ready? That’s a question often asked by visitors to the Hederman Smokehouse in Belvelly as they see the salmon hanging in the old smokehouse. Not an easy one to answer, lots of variables including the time of year, the weather (including the wind).
Fishing for wild salmon, close to the city, by the Lower Glanmire Road. July 2018

And you can’t put a timer on it. “You know when it’s done by feel,” says ace smoker Frank Hederman, speaking at the launch of this year’s Munster Wine and Dine programme in L’Atitude 51. And that feel can only come from experience. 

So the balance between the fish flavour, the salt (for the cure) and the smoke is achieved with some delicate handling and determined by the experienced touch of the smoker. Time, timing and touch. It’s a simple process and, when well handled, the results are simply superb, as has been the case for decades and as would be confirmed later in the evening. Thirty five to thirty six hours is the rough guideline for organic farmed fish while wild fish are done quicker.

Did you know that there are now just seven permits for wild fishing in Cork harbour and that’s where Frank gets his small supply of wild. “In some cases, it’s the third generation that are supplying us. They get just 12 weeks a year to make an income. We get our organic from Clare Island off Mayo”
Smoked mackerel on the Hederman stall at a local market 

It wasn’t easy for Frank when he started up in the mid 80’s. “Then it was only wild fish, lots of them. Drift netting though was very indiscriminate and was banned in 2006. When I started no one would tell you anything and there was also a recession to contend with.”

He doesn’t use any fancy salts, certainly not of the Himalayan variety. (Salt must be consistent, not exotic, just consistent). Once salted, the fish are then put on hooks in the smoker and left hang there until it’s ready. "We use beechwood. Salt, smoke and time are all that’s needed. A bit old-fashioned but it works rather well and people like it”.
Hot smoked salmon

And soon that last phrase was confirmed as we tucked into Smoked salmon and mushroom soup, with a touch of chilli and also Smoked sun-dried tomato on Brioche, both paired with a Pena del Aguila Fino En Rama Sherry from St Lucar. By the way, if you open a bottle of this,  don’t let it hang around for more than a month.

Next came the smoked Mackerel Paté followed by Hot Smoked Salmon with horseradish, lemon juice and creme fraiche. The matching drink here, and a good match too, was the Basque wine Ameztoi Txacoli de Getaria
Mackerel smoked on the bone by Hederman. Find out more about this amazing smoker here

And there was more including a generous tasting of the fantastic smoked organic salmon and a final flourish of delicious Smoked Salmon and Spinach cakes with garlic, the wine here Cantina Tollo Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
Trebbiano

Big thanks to Beverley and the L’Atitude kitchen for their contribution, to Jaques Restaurant for the brown bread and to Le Caveau for the wines.  Beverley had introduced Frank and his wife Caroline at the start of the evening, saying he was a great talker and a great smoker. Spot on, Bev.
Txacoli

Then Munster Wine and Dine announced details of the 2019 programme with at least four major events on the cards including an April multi-stop tour of producers and a restaurant in the Clon area, the next one in June will concentrate on Macroom and neighbouring parishes for more food and drink, September sees the bus going east to the new Blackwater Distillery, a cheesemaker and a top notch restaurant, before ending in November with a call to the Bertha’s Revenge micro distillery and a macro lunch at Ballyvolane House. Munster Win & Dine: mwdcircle@gmail.com
A vineyard in Getaria, where the dry Txacoli wine (made from local grapes) comes from.