Showing posts with label Minervois. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minervois. Show all posts

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Specials. Specially Sourced!

September Specials. 
SuperValu's Specially Sourced!
Peyrepertuse Castle, about a hour from Fitou and Corbieres
Saint Auriol Minervois (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €12.99 (€10.00 from 7th to 27th September, also in three for €25.00 in their French Wine Sale) SuperValu

A few years back I got to know Garrigue near Narbonne, Madame Garrigue that is. Madame rented us her gite in a rural village and, yes, there was no shortage of the famous garrigue in the surrounding countryside. It refers to the scrublands where you can expect to see low growing bushy plants including juniper, broom, cistus and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

I was reminded of that lovely holiday when reading the label for this deep red wine, as they say there are “smoky notes of the garrigue, thyme, rosemary and cistus” in the bouquet. Indeed, the bouquet is pretty well packed with jammy fruit, a little spice and that herby mix too.

On the palate, it is concentrated, that fruit again, more  spice now; it is soft and approachable and boasts a rich finish. Great value and Highly Recommended, as is a holiday in the Languedoc! The domaine suggests pairing with grilled meats, white meat in tomato sauce and BBQ foods.

Bordeaux born and trained, Benjamin Carteyron then picked up more experience around the world, including Russia, before becoming winemaker at Les Domaines Saint Auriol. 

The Minervois appellation stretches, more or less, from Narbonne to Carcassonne. Fitou, a smaller appellation, named after the village near the Mediterranean coast, adjoins Minervois. Both sets of vignerons are very proud of their own wines so be careful what you say in the area (Cognac and Armagnac are other sensitive neighbours). 

Saint Vincent Reserve Fitou (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €12.99 (€10.00 from 7th to 27th September, also in three for €25.00 in their French Wine Sale) SuperValu

The wines of Fitou are not unlike those of Corbieres. The main grapes used here are Carignan and Grenache (must account for a minimum of 60%). The minor players are Mourvedre and Syrah and each must have at least an input of 10%. 

This is another wine by Les Domaine Auriol and another Specially Sourced by the SuperValu team. Suggested pairings are red meat, especially leg of lamb.

Ruby is the colour. Scents of ripe red fruit abound in the bouquet and those garrigue herbs are there too. The palate is quite rich and concentrated, layers of fruit flavours, spice too, smooth and elegant, tannins just about in play in a long and satisfying finalé. Think it has a slight edge on the Minervois. Very Highly Recommended. Great value too. 

SuperValu wine-buyer Kevin O'Callaghan is excited about their French wine sale that begins on Thursday (7th) and continues until Wednesday (20th September) pointing out some great new additions to the range: "All hand selected, with value that will help you explore the delights that France has to offer."

The two bottles highlighted here are in the mix. And speaking of mix, there's also a mix and match offer where you can buy three bottles for €25.00. I note that there is also a Saint Auriol blanc. Might well throw one of those into my hat trick. Cheers!

#specially sourced

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chanson du Vin at Jacques. Languedoc Wine-Makers on Song

Chanson du Vin at Jacques
Languedoc Wine-Makers on Song
Francoise and Luc
 Minervois wine-maker Luc Lapeyre may have needed a little help with his spoken English but none at all when it came to singing. Francoise Taillefer, another Languedoc wine-maker, and Luc put on one of the liveliest wine-tastings ever at Jacques last Thursday. 

It was Luc’s singing that ended a very entertaining evening, his Fields of Athenry rising over the packed tables and giving stiff competition to the music from the pub across the way. Chanson du Vin.

Fionnuala Harkin of Wines Direct had accompanied the two organic winemakers on their week's trip around Ireland and Thursday was the final day. Their visit to Cork began with an afternoon masterclass in L’Atitude 51. 

Francoise, of Domaine Ollier Taillefer, started with her Les Collines. The vineyard, that she runs with her brother (also named Luc), is set in the hills around the picturesque village of Fos. The Taillefer vines are planted in the sloping schist soils of the Faugeres appellation, the smallest appellation in the Languedoc.

The soil is mainly schist, a very poor soil but “easier “for organic”. It gives this wine, a blend of Grenache (50%), Carignan and Syrah “freshness and finesse”. “It is very easy drinking, very fruity… not for long keeping..serve at 16 degrees. All the work is manual and we are the 5th generation.”

Just twenty per cent of the wine is exported and Fionnuala said: “This is kinda special for us. It is not widely available outside of France.” She pointed out too that the same three grapes, planted in a another area of the Languedoc would have a different result. “That’s how we get individual styles from our small producers”.

The Lapeyre family's wine-growing goes back even further; Luc is 8th generation. His first big job there, in 1980, was to “change the cepage”. His first wine in “L’Atitude was his San Bres 2015, “a simple wine”, expressive of the fruit (Syrah 60%, Grenache 40%). “Drink it young”, he advised. “But it will keep a few years”.

 “I never learned agronomy or science but think I have a feeling for it. The summers are more and more hot and I prefer sometimes to pick a little early. Wine is made in the vineyard, not the cellar. If you have the best grapes, it is simple to make good wine.”

His pride and joy is the L’Amourier. The name comes from the Occitan and means a lover, not a fighter. “Make love, not war,” he said.

Both he and Fionnuala made the point that these wines are not made to win prizes. The big wines may well stand out at a tasting and are often then abandoned. Luc makes wines to “stay with for the night”.

 “L’Amourier,” Francoise told us as she helped Luc out, “takes in all the soil types and grapes that he has, including the oldest vines and the poorest soils. They then spend one year in big barrels to develop complexity, originality, personality, the aim being to keep the aromas and youthfulness of the wine.”

He admitted that his “recipe is flexible", never quite the same from vintage to vintage. This is to allow for the weather, the harvest itself, and other variables. This is where the”feeling” comes in!

By the way, Mourvedre, a small part of this blend (Grenache and Syrah are also included), is raised that bit differently, in smaller barrels “to soften the tannins”.

Every now and then, maybe once in three years, Luc finds the grapes in just one particular parcel “too powerful for L’Amourier”, so he makes “a wine to keep”. “How old is that parcel?” someone queried. “Older than me,” was the jovial reply. 

This wine, L’Amourier Les Clots (2010), spends two years in barrel. With its deep dark fruits, this smooth full-bodied beauty is “very versatile… try it with viande rouge”. 

We would meet the wines and the winemakers again later in Jacques, as part of their well-loved series of Tapas and Wines. And Eithne Barry and her team kept the Cork end up with some lovely matching dishes.

Francoise: Irish lamb is the best

Their gorgeous chicken paté was paired, and paired well, with Les Collines. “Bon appetite” all round as we enjoyed the matching of Coq au Vin with the San Bres. And then came another magic match: Lamb cassoulet and the L’Amourier before we finished on an exquisite Brie de Meaux. 

Except that we weren't exactly finished. The chansons were only beginning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Languedoc Strongholds: Corbieres, Minervois, St Chinian

Languedoc Strongholds: Corbieres, Minervois, St Chinian.
Top Notch Reds. And White!

“Down here, they speak the language differently”, I had mentioned to my companion as we came down from Peyrepertuse (left), a high Cathar fort in the Languedoc, south of Carcassonne. Workmen stopped to allow the string of tourists reach the car park. The digger-driver was instantly on his mobile and soon he illustrated my language point as one “Whay” after another boomed out. No gentle “Oui” for him!

They make wine differently too in the rocky hills of the western Languedoc. And they make it very well indeed.

Le Moulin des Nonnes, Cuvée Inés blanc 2012, Minervois, 13.5%, €12.00 in SuperValu French Wine sale from 12th Feb.

This Vin Biologique, produced by the Andrieu brothers, is a blend of Roussanne (50%), Grenache Blanc (40) and Muscat petit grains (10) and is Very Highly Recommended. Colour is a bright gold and it has beautiful floral notes. Nice fruity notes on the palate too, some gorgeous spice too. This elegant organic white, with its fruit and finesse, surprised me. Apparently, less than ten per cent of Minervois wine is blanc. Perhaps we should encourage them to make more! “Whay, whay, si vous plais!”

Les Secrets Saint Chinian rouge 2012, 13.5%, €10.00 in SuperValu French Wine sale.

This red, a brilliant blend of Grenache and Syrah, is Very Highly Recommended. There is a superb introduction on the palate, excellent fruit, spice galore, but nothing extreme, all well balanced. Quite an elegant medium-bodied performer with a silky smooth lingering finish.

St Laurent Corbieres rouge 2012, 14%, €10.00 in SuperValu French Wine sale.

The palate on our second red is slightly more reserved and none the worse for that, fruit and spice again in evidence but slightly more rounded. The Corbieres, bottled by the same co-op in Saint Chinian, is more full bodied, possibly a bit better as a food wine. Grilled meats and cheese are recommended. Indeed, I think the Corbieres is marginally the better wine but I have a small preference for the Saint Chinian. Both though are Very Highly Recommended.

*   French wines are extremely popular in SuperValu and all three above are part of their French sale that begins on February 12th. These three would be a good start and I also note that the Minervois blanc is part of a trio that may be had for €25.00, the others being Coteaux de Giennois (Loire Sauvignon blanc) and Domaine Cristia Grenache. There is more from the Languedoc and big name areas, such as Bordeaux and the Rhone, are also well represented.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wine and Rhyme. She had a beautiful body

Wine and Rhyme

beautiful body, well balanced

Screenshot: Sainte-Eulalie, western Languedoc.

“Eulalie was a good girl
She had a beautiful body, a soul more beautiful still.
The enemies of God wanted to overcome her,
They wanted to make her serve the devil.”

From the heart of the Minervois, from an area called La Liviniere, Karwig Wines in Carrigaline bring you this superb red, a blend of Syrah (55%), Grenache (30) and Carignan (15). La Cantilene (881 AD) is the first romanesque poetic work, stanza above.

Close to Canal du Midi, north east of Carcassonne, north west of Beziers, Laurent and Isabelle Coustal run “an outstanding estate” and are one of the leading producers. This Very Highly Recommended wine underlines their reputation.

Dark fruity aromas greet you. On the palate, it is fruity; there is a dash of spice, some tannins also but this full bodied wine is so well balanced you don't notice the hefty alcohol and you will enjoy a deep finalé. Recommended for game, grilled red meat and cheese.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bordeaux tops the Euro Red Contest

Bordeaux tops the Euro Red Contest
Beautiful wine from a very good year

I was in a really comfortable zone with the last glass of Caldora Yume Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008. I reached out for the next bottle and was totally ambushed, in the nicest possible way, by this 2009 from Bordeaux.

Chateau Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes, Bordeaux Superieur 2009, 13.7%, 20.30 Karwig Wines 
This blend of Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc, is a delight from a year of delight in the region. It has everything going for it: silky, fruity for sure but so well balanced and, of course, a long finish.

The producer’s description: A round and exuberant wine, very enjoyable in its youth, yet with a complexity and elegance one expects of prestigious Bordeaux. This wine will be enjoyed from its second year and beyond.
Very Highly Recommended.
Chateau du Donjon, La Pujade, Minervois 2010, 14.5%, €15.25, Karwig Wines

The vineyards of the "Château du Donjon", Panis family property since the 16th century, stretch out over the rural district of Bagnoles, the western part of the Minervois region. It is divided into two large parts, one for A.O.C. Minervois, and the other for "Vin de Pays". The grapes for this are from a vineyard that is over 100 years old, planted mainly with Grenache Noir vines.

There is a magnificent concentration of aromas in this dark red wine. Beautiful juicy black fruit flavours on the palate and also a little spice. Totally luscious then before this well balanced wine produces an excellent finish.
Needs to be decanted. Highly Recommended.

Messias Grande Escolha, Douro 2011, 13.5%, €15.40, Karwig Wines
Continued the very enjoyable Euro red sequence with this beauty from Portugal’s Douro, another with an intense aroma and then a smooth mouthfeel, a supple fruitiness on the palate followed by a terrific finish.

Grape Varieties used in this blend are all local: Touriga Franca; Touriga Nacional; Tinta Roriz; Tinta Barroca.

A big wine for the price and Highly Recommended. Unfiltered - Decanting advised.

Must say this was one of the best sets of reds that I’ve come across recently but the Italian, the Portuguese and the languedocien will have to take a place behind that superb Bordeaux. Of course, if you are having a group in, start them off with the other three before springing the Bordeaux. A perfect ambush. Of the nicest possible kind.

* Prices quoted all before recent tax ambush!