Showing posts with label Loire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Loire. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes. And a Simply Better Surprise.


Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes. 
And a Simply Better Surprise.
Lost in Nantes? Encore?


Domaine de la Fessardière  “L’Air Innocent” Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2015, €18.65 Mary Pawle

Brittany Ferries opened the Cork-Roscoff route in 1978 and, for quite a few years afterwards, virtually every Cork driver visiting France got lost in Nantes. Happened to myself once and I ended up in the vineyards to the south-east of the city (not the worst of outcomes, quite recoverable). French roads have improved a lot since then and now most major cities, including Nantes, have either a rocade or a périphérique.

Like most early ferry travellers, we didn’t go too far in the first year or two, mainly to the south of Brittany around Concarneau, Guerande and Carnac. The supermarché (even the odd hyper) were the main attractions for the first (and last) few days of the hols with the male eyes concentrating on the bottom shelves and the bottles of Muscadet for less than punt! Got a lot of it then (also Gros Plant, even cheaper) and that cheap stuff put many off the fruit of the Melon de Bourgogne grape for years.

Bit by bit though we began to realise that two very important words on the bottle were Sur Lie, though only a year or two back the somm in a five star hotel in Kerry didn’t seem to know them. Glad to say that this bottle is Sur Lie (raised on lees) and is a splendid offering via Mary Pawle Wines.

It has indeed been kept on its lees for six months. Besides there is no added sulphur and the fruit has been hand-harvested.The grape variety is the normal Melon de Bourgogne and the vineyard follows organic methods. 

Mary says it is round and unctuous in the mouth and a good match with seafood or a semi-soft cheese.  In addition, the producers recommend “fish in sauce, poultry with the cream, cooked cheese like the county (Comté, I presume) or Cantal.”

The name of this round, fresh and fruity wine, “L’Air Innocent”, emphasises this closeness to nature. Colour is a very light straw, bright and healthy looking. The aromas, delicate and appealing, are of white fruit (apple). Apple flavours are somewhat stronger than the scents and there’s a touch of citrus too, also a refreshing acidity, a tingle of minerality as well, and it also has a pleasant long finish. Highly Recommended.


Principesco Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane (IGT) 2017, 12%, €12.50 Dunnes Stores

First sip and a pleasant surprise. Yellow fruit flavours lead to a very pleasing palate. Nice bit of acidity too and all combine in a lovely finalé. The colour is a pale straw. Aromas of peach and apple hint of good things to come. A decent wine at a decent price from a surprising source as I wouldn’t have thought of Sicily as a hotbed of Pinot Grigio.

This wine has been exclusively selected for Dunnes Stores Simply Better. It is produced by Casa Fondata on the sunny island off the toe of Italy. Dunnes recommend it as a “perfect accompaniment to our Roasted Cod with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Mozzarella”. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Fine turnout for the latest Wine Dinner at Maryborough Hotel


Blackwater Gin

Maryborough Wine Dinner Excels
Superb Food from the Bellini Kitchen

Quite a turnout for the latest Wine Dinner in Bellini’s at the Maryborough Hotel. And quite a tour-de-force also by Head Chef Gemma Murphy, every dish of this multi-course meal a delicious delight.

The reception of the hotel wine events provides an easy and pleasant prelude to the night ahead. And last Friday’s was no exception with the excellent Blackwater Gin and Poacher’s tonics, both from the sunny south-east, easing the way and helping the friendly hotel staff and management get to know their guests.

After that relaxing start we were shown to our tables in the restaurant and soon we were enjoying the breads - the treacle butter was perhaps the highlight here! And then they poured our white wine, the Domaine a Deux Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine). This very quaffable white from the Loire, vibrant and dry, with citrus led fruit flavours, provided an excellent match for the opening rounds.
Langoustine

Not least with course number one, the Crisp Fried Langoustine in a delicious Tonkotsu sauce. The second offering was even better: Kombo and Sake Cured Salmon, Tapioca, Edamame and cucumber, and blood orange. What a delightful combination of textures, colours and flavours.
Salmon

Sorbet
Time then for the Green Apple Sorbet with Rosehip Gel, a pleasant palate-cleanser, eye-catching too. Now for the fish course: Halibut Fillet, Fregola Pasta, Cep Mushroom, Asparagus Tips, Morteaux Sauce, and Roast Chicken broth. Another outstanding mix: the fish perfectly cooked, that Morteaux a superb contrast and that broth brought them all together.

Now the staff were introducing the red wine. Oh by the way, they have no hard and fast rule here. If you prefer red all the way through, then that’s what you’ll get! Chateau Siran is well known in Margaux and beyond through its first wine of the same name. Its second wine is S de Siran, also bearing the Margaux AOC. Next comes our red, the Saint Jacques de Siran 2015, a Bordeaux Superieure (AOC), an blend of 42% Merlot, 29% each of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (though the amount can vary from vintage to vintage). In any event, ours was smooth, soft and complex and paired perfectly with the lamb in the main course.
Halibut

That duo of lamb was yet another illustration of the expertise in the Bellini  kitchen. We got Marinated Rump, Parmesan and Tarragon crumbled shoulder, smoked parsnip, Cannellini Bean, Pardon Pepper, Black Garlic Infused Lamb jus. Both the lamb treatments were top notch and the black garlic jus was an amazing factor as well.
Lamb

Gemma eased us out with a delightful easy to eat dessert. The Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt from County Mayo has been earning plaudits all over the country for the past year or so. Gemma and the Square Table’s chef Martina Cronin soon realised its potential and have been using it for quite a while. I fancy Michael and Aisling, the Mayo couple behind it, would have been well pleased with our Baked Velvet Cloud Yogurt, poached rhubarb, confit orange and ginger biscuit. Soft and delicious!
Dessert

There were still some petit fours to negotiate but, wisely, the staff had these little gems served in a little box. You could eat them there and then or, as we did, tie the ribbon and take them home. And, no, we didn’t eat them in the taxi; the denouement came at morning coffee on the Saturday as we recalled the pleasures of the night before. 

This was probably the best of the recent wine events here at the Maryborough, so do keep an eye on the hotel’s social media and on this blog as well for future events.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

French Riverbank Classics. Bordeaux and Chinon


Chateau de Fontenille Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 13.5%, €21.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wineonline
Up with the birds in the Abbaye de la Sauve Majeure

Vines have been grown in this area between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers (Entre-deux-mers) since the 13th century. A pilgrimage route, protected by UNESCO (half of France seems to be protected!), ran through here to the nearby Abbaye de la Sauve Majeure whose monks tended the vines for hundreds of years.

Stéphane Defraine bought this property in 1989 and went on to renovate and extend the vineyards. This particular blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20). 

The weather in 2015 was excellent and the grapes ripened fully. The varieties were vinified separately and 50% was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, one third of which were new. The other 50% aged in vats. The wine was then blended and bottled.

It is a darkish ruby, indicative of youth. Fairly intense aromas of dark fruit (plum, berries). Intense flavours too, background of smoky spice, tannins just about noticeable and a good dry finish. Elegant and round, with an approachable modern Bordeaux style, it keeps you engaged all the way through and is Highly Recommended.

Coudray-Montpensier Chinon (AC) 2016, 12.5%, €19.99 Bradley’s Cork, JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online
Chinon, not on the Loire but on the Vienne
This Chinon red is, as they are, 100 per cent Cabernet Franc. Colour is a light to mid ruby, vigorous aromas of dark fruits, notes too of vanilla. That fruit, and the freshness typical of the grape, come through on the palate, tannins are round and there are notes too of spice; there’s an excellent robust finish. Highly Recommended.

The wine spent between six and 12 months in oak barrels. Not the best of seasons here, spring frosts and a wet summer saw the wine-makers scramble to make the best of it. Going by this one, Gilles Feray succeeded at Coudray-Montpensier.

Suggested Food Pairings: grilled red meat, turkey; Swiss, cheddar, and gouda cheese.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Three Highly Recommended Whites from across Europe


Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines

Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.

Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.


Diwald Fucksentanz Riesling Wagram (Austria) 2016, 12%, €18.30 Mary Pawle Wines

Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.

Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.

Amastuola Bianco Salento Italy (IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.69 Mary Pawle Wines

Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.

Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sophie Bertin Sancerre is a Star at O'Brien's Annual Sale


Focus on the Whites in the O'Brien's Annual Sale
Reds may outnumber the whites by about two to one in the ongoing annual sale at O'Brien's but there are some excellent whites to consider. We tasted the first three over the past week while the two at the end were tasted a few months back. All good, but we do advise putting the Sophie Bertin Sancerre at #1 on your shopping list!

La Côte Blanche de Sophie Bertin Sancerre (AOP) 2016, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95).

Of the three whites tasted this past few days, this is the star. Not that you’d know it from the pale straw colour, much the same as the Waiheke. The magic starts with the aromas, a degree or two more intense, white fruit and floral notes, minerality and more, full of promise.

And that promise is handsomely delivered. The palate has extra intensity, more body, rounded and flavourful, perfect balance between fruit and acidity, plus quite a long and satisfying dry finish. Very Highly Recommended. An ideal pairing with seafood, salad, or simply by itself. The winery recommendations are Goat's cheese, Risotto, Salads, Shellfish, Smoked fish.

This top class Sancerre benefits from the Domaine’s “fantastic soils (chalk and clay, and flint)" and a policy of reducing yields to increase fruit flavours.  In the cellar, the wine is matured on its lees for several months.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (Austria) 2017, 12%, €14.95 (was 18.45).

This light straw coloured wine has aromas of white fruits, light pepper in the background. The purity of the fruit (peachy) is exceptional - the Grüner Veltliner, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil - no shortage of minerality  and you have a dry refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. Well priced too - especially now!

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois, Austria’s largest wine-producing city, has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes and salads.


Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc Waiheke Island (New Zealand) 2016, 12%, €16.95 (was 19.95).

Very light straw is the colour of this Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc. The island, known for its beaches and vineyards, is a short ferry ride to the east of Auckland on the North Island. Aromas tend to citrus as does the fairly intense palate of this fresh and crisp wine. Acidity is not shy at all and, with a hint of grapefruit, there’s a pleasing refreshing finish. Recommended. By the way, it is not entirely Sauvignon as there is five per cent Semillon in the blend.

Winery note: The 2016 Sauvignon blanc, with 5% Semillon, is a stylish vintage with typical herbaceous aromas, tight acidity and ample texture. Typical of Waiheke Sauvignon blanc, our 2016 Estate Savvy is perfect with a year or two of age allowing the wine to mellow and showcase the wines structure and longevity.

Two Others to Note

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €22.95 (was 24.95).
The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!

Terredora Greco di Tufo Loggia, 16.95 (was €18.95)
Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Greco di Tufo is the grape and you’ll find it difficult to get one better than this!

O’Brien’s themselves rave about this one: “Tasted by the wine team against two other major names in the region (Campania), this wine won hands down and was immediately listed for us. Simply amazing mineral driven, rich, complex white. Utterly irresistible!”

The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.” 


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Xarel-lo Still Wine. And two other whites.


Xarel-lo Still Wine 
And two other whites.
Albet i Noya Curiós Xarel-lo Penedes (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €13.90 Mary Pawle Wines

This is an organic wine, made from Xarel-lo, the grape synonymous with Cava, in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

Colour is light straw, very light. Fresh fruit, green and citrus, in the aromas, floral elements too. Fresh too on the supple palate, the flavours combining with the initial aromas to pleasantly surprise the taste buds, lively acidity also, and this lovely white also finishes well.

Food advice comes from the producers: on its own or serve with chicken or risotto dishes. Get a few of these in for the warmer days ahead (coming soon!!!). Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.


Gitton Chantalouette Pouilly Sur Loire (AC) 2013, 12.5%, €20.65 Karwig

A pleasing light straw colour. White fruit aromas of moderate intensity, hint of honey. Smooth on the palate, good mix of white fruit flavours, slight sweetness, and lively acidity before a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

It is a blend of mainly Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc (10 to 15%) and has spent 3 months in barrel. While there is a town called Chasselas in the French region of Maconnais, Wine-Searcher reckons the grape originated in Switzerland where it is the “most important and widely planted white grape variety” and matches well with traditional local cuisine like fondue. My match: Knockanore Cheddar and a few dried apricots from Lenny's  stall in the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

If you go reading up on this little known grape, avoid Grapes and Vines (Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand). “Suffers from a certain folie de grandeur” is one put down, referring to a Swiss wine. Delusions of grandeur. Don't think that Gitton Père et Fils would agree!

Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits (AOC), 13%, €27.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This wine is limpid in the glass, the colour a light to mid yellow. Nose is attractive, fresh, peachy. Superb fresh flavours (stone-fruit, citrus) in the mouth, no shortage of acidity either, all the way to a lip-smackingly finish. Recommended.

Maison Ambroise owns organically certified vineyards on some of the finest sites of the Côte de Nuit. I also spotted a mis-translation on the label. Their wines are generally “aged in French oak barrels to give addiction depth and complexity”. You have been warned!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Frogs Attack #1. Do It Again. Soon!


Frogs Attack #1. Do It Again. Soon!

They came. They saw. They conquered. They, collectively the Frogs Attack, being two pioneering natural winemakers (Jean Foillard and Thierry Puzelat), a guerrilla chef (Antony Cointre) and a comedian (Sebastien Barrier) and they cornered their willing victims in a packed Latitude 51. 
Cork’s leading wine bar was the ideal venue for the French influenced evening. Beverley and her staff caught the informal spirit of the occasion perfectly and we wined and dined, and laughed a lot too. 

Hard to keep up with Sebastien as he roamed between the two floors. He even wandered outside at one stage, startling the customers by banging on the window and, with his phone, taking photos of the surprised faces. We were wondering was the ebullient funny man in trouble a few minutes later when a couple of cops appeared at the door but nothing to do with Sebastien!

May I introduce Jean Foillard to you, via Le Caveau catalogue: A vigneron like Jean Foillard doesn’t come around too often. Jean Foillard and his wife Agnès started their handkerchief-size domain in Morgon in the 1980’s when the majority of appellation, driven by big negoces, were (and are still) producing industrial wines. Undeterred by their surroundings, Jean and Agnès decided to embark on their own path. They returned to honest vine growing and wine making the way their grandparents did. The vines are grown organically. The same attention is paid in their cellar. There are no additives in the cellar to hide shortcuts in the vineyards because there are no shortcuts in the vineyards. The hand-harvested grapes are fermented using natural yeasts only. 
Cooking done and Le Gros relaxes 

And, quoting from the same source, Thierry Puzelat: Having met and worked with Francois Dutheil (Bandol) and Marcel Lapierre (Morgon), two pioneers of the ‘natural’ wine movement, Thierry decided he too, wanted to make his wines as naturally as possible. Puzelat’s wines are quite unique, they are highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have very strong personality.
Le Caveau borrowed, as we do here, this quote from Jamie Goode: ‘Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat—brothers—are natural wine royalty. They are making some of the Loire’s most interesting wines and are at the heart of the natural wine movement.’
Behind the counter: Jules and Beverley

And the wines really are superb. The night’s list: Thierry’s Clos du Tue Boeuf, blanc and rouge, and the three Morgons from Jean, all 2016, including his “Cote du Py” and the “Corcelette”. And to make things even better, they were available at shop (rather than restaurant) prices. A nice touch that!

According to his website, Antony Cointre, aka Le Gros, is not an ordinary chef, he is an enthusiastic cookHe does not have a permanent restaurant because he likes to change atmosphere and to touch lots of different audiences. …. making tasting meals in 10 steps at home for 6 or popular banquets of 650 people or even weddings in unlikely conditions. 

And Le Gros, in the tiny kitchen, came up with some tasty dishes at L’Atitude. They included a Feta and Kumquat starter, then a Monkfish carpaccio with Harissa sauce, three French cheeses with date, and dessert of chocolate and, believe or not, rhubarb.
Sebastien attacks the window!

In between the six courses, Sebastian kept us entertained and joined up with some Irish friends to play some tunes. And all the time, we were sipping and enjoying those natural wines, the real stars of the show!

I’ll finish with a message to the frogs: Please attack us again, soon!



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Loire White From The Banks Of The Cher. Plus a lovely Chablis.

Loire White From The Banks Of The Cher. Plus A Lovely Chablis.
The historic chateau of Chenonceau

Domaine du Haut Perron Touraine Chenonceau (AC) 2015, 13.5%, €19.95 Le Caveau, Bradley’s Cork

The vineyards for this Guy Allion Sauvignon Blanc are planted on slopes overlooking the Cher River (a Loire tributary), close to the gorgeous chateau of Chenonceauand not too far from historic Amboise (once home of the French royal court) where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the closing years of his life.

No problem with planning permission in 16th century. Just demolish most of the existing structure and build your own. That was how Thomas Bohier and his wife got to build the fantastic Château of Chenonceau that now straddles the River Cher in the Loire. It is one of the loveliest of the Loire chateaus and also one of the most popular. 

And there were more fascinating ladies right up to the 20th century when Simone Menier was in charge when two galleries of the chateau were transformed, at her family’s expenses, into a hospital for the wounded of the Great War. During World War 11, Chenonceau was on the line of demarcation and then Simone carried out numerous actions for the resistance. Simone, who died in 1972, was a member of the Menier family, the chocolatiers, who bought the chateau in 1913 and still own it today.

Last year in Cork, I met Nicolas Donne, a representative of Guy Allion, and he was delighted with this wine: “It can be made only in the valley of the Cher, a new appellation since 2011. Aromatic and elegant, it comes in its own unique bottle (made in Italy) and can age for ten years”.


Colour of this well balanced wine is a very light straw. Aromas, of moderate intensity, feature white fruits. It is a crisp wine with delicate fruit flavours (apple, pear, melon), citrus notes too, a noticeable tingle of minerality, all retained to the end. Highly Recommended.

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis (AC) 2015, 12.5%, €20.80 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau

Unoaked and produced from 10 to 30 year old vines. Take a look and you’ll see the characteristic light yellow with green tints. Take a sniff and you’ll note the white stone fruits aromas typical of this Kimmeridgian soil. Take a sip and you’ll taste the fruits, lime and apple, on the generous, almost creamy, palate, the local minerality also showing through. Perfectly balanced, more or less, this well made Chablis finishes well and is Highly Recommended.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Couple of Recommended Reds to Consider!

Thierry Germain Saumur-Champigny (AC) 2015, 13%, €26.45 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau,
Chateau de Saumur
Saumur, on the Loire in Western France, is a great town to visit. Highlights include the medieval fort (Chateau de Saumur), the underground Musée du Champignons, plus wine tours and tastings. Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation for the two named places and six neighbouring villages. The wines are made, almost exclusively, from Cabernet Franc.

Germain is biodynamic and produces Cabernet Franc with purity, finesse and drinkability, wines that feature “generous and ripe darker fruit flavours”. His cellars are in “tuffeau” caves below the winery. Tuffeau is the soft local limestone and you see it in many buildings in the area.

Le Revue des Vins des France gave the domaine its coveted Three Star designation and later made him Winegrower of the Year in 2011.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are fruity aromas, ripe berry mainly, floral notes too. Fruit flavours follow through to the palate, amazingly generous for such a young wine; freshness and purity too plus an excellent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

It is made from the fruit of vines with an average age fo 25 years and harvested to preserve aroma and freshness. It is raised for 3 to 4 months in a combination of stainless steel and foudres (large wooden vats). A good partner with a variety of dishes. Thierry himself recommends ballotine of chicken with cracked black pepper.

Aplanta Alentejano (IG) 2015, 14%, €13.95 Bradley’s Cork


I like this mid to dark ruby Portuguese wine with its dark fruit aromas. Palate has that fruit, cherry prominent, spice too, a hint of vanilla, soft tannins. It is quite plush but good acidity makes for excellent balance. A well made everyday wine that won't be out of place at the weekend! Like many wines from Portugal it over delivers at the price. Quite a lot of character in this refreshing glass and Highly Recommended.



As you might expect it is a blend, produced by Obrigado with grapes from a community vineyard. It is 70% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 30% Alicante (Garnacha). They recommend pairing it with grilled meat (burgers, steaks), charcuterie and “sharp” cheeses!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines

Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines
Focus on the classic white grapes: Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc
Hardworking winemakers in Vouvray

The Loire Valley has claims, quite strong, to being the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc. Eventually it got together with Cabernet Franc, another grape widely-grown in the valley, and produced Cabernet Sauvignon. "..wine lovers would have to thank it for that," say Grapes and Wines. The name of the grape was rarely on labels until its debut in the 70s in New Zealand and then everyone got to know it through the pungent wines from Marlborough. Well-made Loire examples, while usually somewhat more restrained, are still worth checking out. And the bottle below from Menetou-Salon is excellent and at a good price too.

While Sauvignon Blanc is now grown all over the world, Chenin Blanc has a much less extensive footprint, mainly found in the Loire and in South Africa. Here in Ireland, we get examples that are usually dry but it is a versatile fruit as you can read below. Vouvray is in the middle of the Loire Valley, not too far from the historic city of Tours. St Martin, the patron saint of wine, was a bishop here.

Bourillon Coup de Trique Vouvray (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine

From a troglodyte cellar in the Loire Valley and bearing a very modern fancy orange cork (100% recyclable nomacorc), comes this Highly Recommended Chenin Blanc from Vouvray.

You’ll note the word sec (dry) on the front label, unusual for French still wine labels. But this Chenin Blanc is a very versatile wine. “In the Loire… its wines go from scaringly dry, to dry, to fairly dry, to vaguely off-dry, to off-sweet, sweet, very, very sweet - and there’s good Chenin fizz too.” Grapes and Wine go on to detail an equally long list of styles from South Africa (where Chenin is well-known) and  where it makes “an awful lot of brandy”.



This has quite a bright light straw colour. Aromas feature white fruit, floral and herbal notes. A lively attack with white pepper in among the fruit and the long very satisfying palate is followed by a lengthy and equally satisfying finish. 

Jean-Max Roger Morgues Le Petit Clos Menetou-Salon (AOC) 2015, 13%, €21.55 Karwig

Menetou-Salon is a village at the eastern end of the Loire Valley wine region and considered an up and coming rival to its famous neighbour Sancerre. Inhabitants are known as Monestrosaloniens and you thought Corkonian was a mouthful!

This 100% Sauvignon blanc has a lovely gold colour. In the aromas you’ll find white fruit (citrus to the fore) and floral elements too. Excellent mouthfeel, fresh and fruity, and matching acidity all the way through to the long finish. Highly Recommended.

Fish, shellfish, white meats and goats cheese are the suggested pairings. “It is an ideal way to start a meal or to enjoy with friends during the day.”




Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Classy Reds. Don't judge a book by the cover!

Three Classy Reds

Don't judge a book by the cover. The plain label on the Gamay could well lead you to believe this is a bottom shelf wine whereas it is anything but. Perhaps, especially if you bought bottom shelf Moroccan wines on French holidays years ago, you wouldn't be expecting a great deal from the Volubilia but it is a lovely surprise. And no surprise really with the Italian. You'd expect this to be good and it is very good indeed.


Clos du Tue-Boeuf Gamay 2015, Vin de France, 12%, €18.85 Le Caveau
Light red, fairly typical of the grape, is the colour of this natural beauty. The aromas are of strawberries and raspberries. On the vibrant palate, you'll find the same mix of fruit flavours, with a light tang of cider apples; it is light and fresh and smooth for sure, fine tannins and then a long finish.

The two Puzelat brothers, regarded, by Jamie Goode, as “natural wine royalty”, mature this for 4-6 months in large wooden vats. The organic grapes are bought in from trusted local winegrowers in the Loire. “The wines are quite unique, highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have a very strong personality.” That lively personality is very evident, pleasingly so, in this example and it is Very Highly Recommended. By the way, it is neither filtered nor fined, so do decant!


La Zouina Volubilia Classic Red, Morocco 2012, 13.5%, €22.95 Le Caveau

This is a relatively new French run chateau. Bordeaux know-how plus freedom to experiment has helped produce this excellent result from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Syrah, Mourvedre, and Tempranillo.

Colour is medium red. And the aromas include warm blackcurrant. It is medium bodied, smooth and fresh, well endowed with concentrated berry flavours, medium spice, fine tannins. It is well balanced with a long and juicy finish. A surprise from Africa and Very Highly Recommended.

Ascheri Coste & Bricco Barolo (DOCG) 2010, 14.5%, €47.00 (down to 30 in recent Fine Wine sale) O’Brien Wines

No surprise that this one was good as I had tasted it at the O’Brien Wine Fair in Cork. Nebbiolo is the grape here. Made from two select plots from Ascheri’s single vineyard, this is their top cuvée. 

The wine has spent 26 months in Slavonian barrels, six months in steel and a further nine in bottle before release. According to Grapes & Wines, Italian Nebbiolo ages better than those of California and Australia. And indeed the producers reckon this will last for 18 to 20 years if kept in a cool dark place.

I couldn't wait that long to tuck into this garnet coloured wine. Small red fruits feature in the aromas, also some herbal hints. It has a palate full of rich flavours, spice too and an acidity that helps put all in harmony. This elegant and inviting wine is Very Highly Recommended.


They, Ascheri, recommended matching it with hard mature cheese, pheasant, pigeon, roast lamb and beef, Mediterranean vegetables. I've tried and tested it here with Parmesan and Walnut crusted rack of lamb with roasted vegetables, the lamb bought at our local craft butchers, Davidson’s of Montenotte, Cork.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Northern Whites. Double Delight.

Northern Whites
Double Delight


On the Loire

We’ve got two excellent whites for you to consider this week. One is a Riesling from Germany’s Rheingau and the other is a Sauvignon Blanc from the little-known Menetou-Salon appellation in the Loire valley.

Germany’s greatest variety, Riesling, is first documented in the Rheingau in 1435. Don't think Carl Ehrhard has been there that long but he has built up a great reputation and our selection is a lovely example.

Menetou-Salon is a village at the eastern end of the Loire Valley wine region. Wine-searcher.com says it is “forecast by many to be a potential rival for the famous Sancerre appellation (its immediate north-eastern neighbor), Menetou-Salon is rapidly establishing its reputation at an international level”. The reputation is being built on two varieties: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2015, Rheingau (Germany), 11.5%, €18.60 Karwig Wines

A few words:
Kabinett: a wine made from fully ripened grapes of the main harvest, one level lower than Spätlese.
Feinherb: off dry.

This light gold 100% Riesling has lots of mini-bubbles clinging to the glass. There are white fruit aromas and the intense fresh fruit flavours (apple, citrus) make the tongue tingle at the start before rolling deliciously on. That tingle is the acidity keeping all that lively lovely fruit (with its hints of sweetness) in balance, right through to the excellent finish. Carl Ehrhard never leaves one down and this is Very Highly Recommended.

Just to let those of you worried about the whiffs of diesel from some Rieslings know, there is not a trace of fumes here!


Jean-Max Roger, Morogues, Le Petit Clos 2014, Menetou-Salon (AOC), 12.5%, €21.55 Karwig Wines

This is a classic Loire Sauvignon blanc, on a par with neighbouring Sancerre where Jean-Max also farms. It is elegant and restrained and the perfect partner for “the bounty of the seas,..... Also a good match for white meats and goat’s cheese”. The fruit comes from 5 hectares of vines in Le Petit Clos vineyard. In this steep south-facing slope, grape quality is the season long target.

This light gold wine has pleasant herbaceous aromas, citrus hints too, and these follow through on a fresh and lively palate, superb balance and long finish. Dry and crisp, with lots of character, this excellent Sauvignon Blanc is Highly Recommended.