Showing posts with label Medoc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Medoc. Show all posts

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In Margaux Once. Must visit again!

In Margaux Once.
Must call again!

The vineyards of Margaux, on the south bank of the Garonne estuary (many Irish holidaymakers will know Royan on the opposite bank), grow mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The classic  blend is always a combination of these two “majors” and sometimes a little of Cabernet  Franc, maybe some Petit Verdot, more rarely Malbec and other old varieties.

According to the Maison du Vin de Margaux, where I bought the bottles below (along with some more!), Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”

Merlot brings roundness, generosity and complexity to the aromas. Cabernet Franc, much rarer, brings an extra touch of of elegance and suppleness while Petit Verdot produces wines “that are fairly rich in colour, fruit and tannins”.

The vines and the soil all play a part in making a Margaux and so does the climate of each year. “This variability, known as the effet millésime (vintage effect), is at the origin of variations in wines’ quality and expression.”

The variables will test the expertise of the winemaker who also has to contend with different harvest times for the different grapes. Merlot is first, then comes Cabernet Franc followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and then the Petit Verdot.

Take good care of your Margaux wines. They recommend “to open them one or two hours before service and present them in a nice carafe or decanter. Perfect service temperature is 19 degrees. Their finesse and subtlety show themselves in accompaniment with red meats or cheeses with delicate aromas”. Margaux wines are widely available in Ireland. Enjoy!

Some of my 2014 purchases
Chateau La Galiane 2009, 13.5%, 16.50 in Margaux

Gorgeous intense dark fruit aromas. Then there are rich fruit flavours, with a wee bit of spice, ripe tannins, and good balance. All in all, a classic well rounded Bordeaux with good structure and no little finesse, a lovely blend in which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the major grapes.

Chateau La Tour De Bessan Crus Bourgeois 2011, 13%, 20.30 in Margaux

Even more intense wave of aromas, slightly different to the Galiane. It is rich and complex, full bodied and, again, ripe tannins. Great flavours of red fruits in this smooth Cru Bourgeois. The blend here is Merlot (62%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (38%). A marginally better wine than the Galiane. It has spent 12 months in French oak and the average age of the vines is 25 years.

Labastide Dauzac 2008, 13%, €23.00 in Margaux

Garnet is the colour, the aromas full and harmonious. This is full-bodied, red fruits, some spice too, pleasant and smooth on the palate, and with a long finish. Again the classic blend of Merlot (57%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (43%) and Very Highly Recommended.

This is the second wine of Dauzac, made from younger vines. It has spent 12 months in oak (not all new) and, if I had to pick one from the three, this would be it.
Take your pick!
In a pioneering book on matching food and wine called The Head of the Household from his Cellar to his Table, conceived and started in a WW2 prisoner of war camp, the author Frenchman Roger Ribaud, knowing that the Bordelais had been trapping pigeons, recommended that they match their catch with a Margaux. (Source: Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Little Listrac Delivers

Little Listrac Delivers
Excellent Wines from Margins of the Medoc

Listrac is one of the smallest appellations in the Medoc and its wines have often been dismissed as “rustic”. But, in recent years, according to the prestigious World Atlas of Wine, its reputation (and that of its neighbouring village Moulis) has risen. Better winemaking and the planting of more Merlot has led to an increase in reputation and, going by the three wines below, the adjective “rustic” may be consigned to the past.

Chateau Saransot-Dupré, Listrac Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2009.

Saransot-Dupre have long been among the frontrunners in Listrac. They also make a very stylish white. This medium bodied red, their main wine, is produced only from the property’s old vines. The vineyard is planted mainly with Merlot and, contrary to the Medoc practice, Cabernet Franc is more planted here than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aromas are invitingly fruity. Superb flavours on the palate, fleshy with some spice, tannins present but barely noticeable; the abv is 14.5% but this lovely dry wine is well balanced with a lengthy finish.

Lestage, improving the Listrac image

Chateau Lestage, Listrac Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2008, 13%.
Sixty five per cent Merlot accounts for the fruitiness here; the balance of the blend is 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot. Again it is the first wine of the estate and has spent 18 months in oak barrels (one third of which are replaced each year).

Color is dark red and aromas are of the darker fruits (plum prominent for me). Far from the robust style once associated with Listrac this tends to the slender side but with a supple fruity element, mainly blackberry; softened tannins and no shortage of flavour or freshness, well balanced and with a decent finish.

Chateau Veyrin, Listrac Medoc Selection Chateau 2010, 14%.

Merlot is again the main grape here and its companions are Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Colour is purple and it has an inviting nose of red fruits (Including cherry). On the palate is is ample and so well balanced, and a wee bit spicy with some vanilla notes. All add up to quite a rich wine with a persistent finish.

  • Very happy with my little haul from Listrac, all bought at Le Relais de Listrac where we also dined. There is a large shop in the middle of the village where many local producers sell their wines and you might well get them cheaper there but they were closing for lunch as we arrived. To read more on that little day trip (from our base at Arcachon) click here.

    • I’d have no hesitation about buying Listrac wines again. In Ireland, a quick search on Wine-searcher reveals that you may be able to get them at Mitchell & Sons, From Vineyards Direct Ireland, Bubble Brothers and Greenacres.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marvels of Moulis

Marvels of Moulis
Moulis is not the first name that trips off the tongue when you are asked about Bordeaux. It is indeed the smallest appellation in the area but that doesn't prevent it from producing some very fine wines. I got to know the little village fairly well this summer, driving up and down the street quite a few times in a vain attempt to find the region’s Maison du Vin (closed down, methinks).

If you’d like to try a wine from Moulis, you could well be in luck as my search on revealed that both wines below (maybe not the exact year) are available in Ireland. If you do get your hands on the 2006 Brillette, decant and make sure it is at room temperature before pouring.

L’Oratoire de Chasse Spleen, Moulis 2011, 13%

Chasse Spleen, according to Hugh Johnson, is “one of the surest things in Bordeaux” and the current edition of the Wine Atlas says “it can be viewed as an honorary St Julien for  its smoothness, its accessibility”. High praise indeed for the chateau with the unusual name, sometimes credited to Baudelaire, sometimes to Byron.

This is a second wine of the estate. Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Merlot (40) are the main players in the blend. The chateau says the Cab Sauv helps make it fresh and velvety while the Merlot is credited with giving it opulence and smoothness.

But I've been told forget the label: “Listen to your palate”. So here goes. The wine is a brilliant medium red with fruit aromas, including plum, some mint and pepper. On the palate, there is no shortage of fruit flavours; fine tannins are present but nothing too gripping. This is a fresh well-made well-balanced wine with a persistent finalé. Wouldn’t mind renewing acquaintance with it in a few years time.
Chateau Brillette, Comte de Perier de Larsan, Moulis 2006, 13.5%

This wine, a blend of Merlot (52%), Cabernet Sauvignon (40) and Petit Verdot (8), comes well recommended. A Jancis Robinson tasting gave it 16 out of 20 which equates to “distinguished”. She also advised drinking it between 2012 and 2018. Guess I got that right!

This is a dark rich red, lighter towards the rim, and it has complex fruit aromas (mainly plum, for me). Rounded fruit flavours on the palate, generous with notes of pepper and wood, soft tannins and good acidity. Decent enough finish as well. Think I’d be happy to agree with the rating by Jancis!

Friday, June 13, 2014

In the Medoc today. €1439.80 wine. €14.00 lunch.

In the Medoc today. €1439.80 wine. €14.00 lunch.

Fri 13th June 2014

Cherry Cake
I have neglected talking to you about the Menu du Jour in French cafés. You’ll have no choice but you’ll have a very satisfying meal for somewhere between ten and fourteen euro.

Our latest example came today in the Medoc wine village of Listrac. They had a board outside offering the Plat du Jour for €7.50. We had already bought some local wine there, from the small Listrac and Moulis appellations, before sitting down for lunch in Le Relais de Listrac. The Menu du Jour offered the first two courses for €11.00 euro, the dessert for just three.

The opening salad was promising. The main part was a tasty duck terrine and the salad leaves were fresh and every well dressed and the gherkins added to both the textures and the flavours.
The main, Sautée de Veau, was a little gem. The perfectly cooked veal was accompanied by some excellent Medoc mushrooms (full of flavour) and a spoon or two of mash, all in a lovely sauce.

We were offered desserts off the other menus but I had a feeling that the one cooked for today would be good and so it proved. It was a cherry cake, according to the friendly waitress. In fairness it is packed with cherries and served with a cold custard. I think we met everyone in the house, including the chef who shook hands with the two of us as we left.
Chateau Haut Breton Larigaudiere
By the way, not too much white in the Medoc but do look out for the Chateau Saransot Dupre 2012. This is a quote from the chateau website: The Château produces an excellent dry white wine from old Sémillion, Sauvignon and Muscadelle vines. The harvest is vinified and aged in oak barrels. This wine, which enjoys a great popularity among connoisseurs recalls the fine white wines that Listrac produced in the second half of the 19th century, wines that were almost as famous as the commune's reds. Well worth a try. If the proprietor of the Relais had produced it earlier we might have bought it but by then our reds were safe in the car.

The roads in the Medoc were quiet, just as they had been last Monday and you wonder what kind of landscape you'd see here if there wasn't a wine industry. We headed for the village of Margaux, one of the capitals of that industry, and for Maison du Vin in particular.
On the wine route
The tourist office is also incorporated in this fine building and they sell a large range of the local wine. But they don't do tastings here. We worked our way through the display. By the way, the bottles are empty. I checked the Chateau Margaux Premier Grande Cru Classé 2005!

We reckoned Margaux could do without our custom but we did buy a selection across the range, including a Chateau Kirwan 2010. We Irish have to stick together!

Got a few photos around the town and, with the temperatures again up around the 30s, headed “home” to Arcachon, buying a kilo of mussels (€4.95) on the way. That should keep us going through the World Cup. A bientot!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lunch in Bages.

Lunch in Bages
Day 8 9th June

If we took it easy yesterday, the French did so today, virtually nothing stirring this holiday Monday as we drove through the countryside from Arcachon to the village of Bages on the outskirts of Pauillac in the Medoc.

Indeed, we were wondering if we would even get lunch anywhere. On the way back, we had a different worry: where would we get petrol? In any event, both “problems” were solved.

It seems that more outlets close on a French National Holiday than close on a Sunday. We were originally heading for Moulis, one of the smallest appellations in the Medoc. In particular we were looking for the Maison du Vin in the village.

The thought struck us as we neared that it could be closed and a quick look at our Michelin Wine Regions of France confirmed the sinking feeling. Since we were so close, we said we’d take a look as the book was published a few years ago. The Sat-Nav found the correct street but we couldn't see any sight of the Maison. A mystery.
Carried on further up the road, with the village of Bages, at the gates of the Lynch Bages chateau, our next target. The run-down village has been reconstructed and revitalised by the winery and has some thriving food and drink related shops, adding value to the chateau’s core business. Luckily for us, the restaurant was one of the few premises open and we called in and asked for a table.

It is popular restaurant and we had to wait a spell for a table (inside, none available outside) to be cleared. It was well worth the short wait and we enjoyed a three course lunch for 28 euro each. Started with the Chef’s own Galantine of duck and foie gras, very flavoursome and quite substantial for a starter.
Iced Nougat.
The main event saw CL go for the Pan-seared Hake, Lemon Beurre blanc and ratatouille. She was delighted with that and I was very happy indeed with my Traditional Chicken Fricassee and Dauphinoise Potatoes. Hardly earth-shattering dishes but the produce was top notch and was really properly cooked and presented. Service all round was friendly and excellent.

Desserts were Iced Nougat with caramelised almonds for me and a Mango Passionfruit Cheesecake for her. An excellent finish and the apres digestif was a walk around the village, the chateau (walls!), and the the nearby vineyards.
The petrol gauge dipped lower and lower on the way back but again the villages were sleepy, action only evident as we approached the major roads, though even here a large Leclerc station was shuttered. Eventually, relief came in the  shape of an very busy Auchan Supermarket close to Arcachon. Here, I stuck in the credit card, followed the instructions (not too difficult) and filled her up, all ready for Chateau Bauduc in the morning.

Grand Puy Lacoste
One of the oldest properties in the Médoc.
Now, if only that thunderstorm outside would move away. The one in the morning did and gave us a lovely day again with temperatures up around the thirty mark.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wine from the isle of Margaux. And one from mainland Medoc.

Wine from the isle of Margaux.
And one from mainland Medoc.

Domaine de L’Ile Margaux, Bordeaux Superieur 2006, 13%, €24.00, Karwig Wines    

Amazing how your geography improves when you are interested in wine. Just found when checking up on this bottle that there is an island called Ile de Margaux in the Gironde estuary and it is opposite Chateau Margaux and, in addition, grows all the main grapes of the Medoc!

This charming wine is more complex than your normal Bordeaux AOC. Colour is garnet and the aromas are of the darker fruits with a hint of vanilla. Black and red fruits and some spice too on the palate. It has a refreshing acidity, tannins there for sure but not too obvious. It has quite a pleasing mouthfeel and a longish dry finish.

Traditionally made so you will find a deposit but this just emphasises its credentials. Superbly made and well balanced, this is Very Highly Recommended. Might well be hopping over to the island when in the area this summer.

La Paroisse Haut Medoc 2009, 13.5%, €22.35 Karwig Wine

The Cave Saint Seurin de Cadourne is hardly one of the best known producers in the Medoc but this well structured 2009 red, 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, is quite a wine.

You get a hint of what's to come from the welcoming red fruit aromas. It is really well balanced, with supple tannins, and a long finale. Hard to beat Bordeaux! From aroma to finish, this traditional elegant wine doesn't disappoint.

Don't worry if it hasn't a big chateau name attached. Don't worry either if you find a deposit in the bottom of the bottle. This is all natural as the wine hasn’t been treated. Very Highly Recommended.