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Thursday, April 25, 2019
Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes.
And a Simply Better Surprise.
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.
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”.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Three European wines from Karwig's, each from a different country and each highly recommended. Take a trip!
Domaine de la Potardière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2017, 12%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
|Holiday feeling on the Loire.|
Back in the 80s, and maybe earlier, many Irish motoring tourists, most having gotten lost in pre-peripherique Nantes, were venturing no further south than Brittany, and were dipping their beer trained beer stained tongues in French wine, mostly Muscadet or the even more ghostly (or should that be ghastly) Gros Plant. Muscadet at less then a punt a bottle was a great wine while on the hols but not so good when you got it home. Unless it was Sur Lie, matured on its lees.
Now we know what to ask for and with Sur Lie you do have a better chance though some other Muscadets can be fine as well. Muscadet, we thought, was the grape. It’s not. The grape is Melon of Burgundy; the Loire region (near Nantes) in which it is grown is known as the Muscadet area but apparently Muscadet is not an actual geographic place.
This bottle from Karwig’s has just the merest yellow colour, aromas of white fruit, melon prominent. It is lively and fruity on the palate - that holiday feeling - time on the lees has added a certain creaminess; it is totally fresh, a good citrusy finish, overall very engaging and easy to give it the thumbs up. Highly Recommended. Bring on those fish platters in the Relais Routiers, even a DIY selection from Pat O’Connell.
Food pairing tips : Perfect accompaniment to oysters, seafood in general, fish, sushi.
Quinta do Valdoeiro Syrah Bairrada DOC (Portugal) 2015, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wine
This is not your normal Syrah but is a very interesting one. The vineyard says it has a lot of potential and will “definitely grow in the bottle”. They point out that the striking minerality comes from the red clay (terracotta) soils, the freshness from the proximity of the Atlantic. It is naturally stabilised so sediment is a possibility and they advise serving at ten to twelve degrees. New oak has been used here.
Colour is an intense ruby. Aromas of ripe plums, cherry, also vanilla notes. On the palate it is fresh and fruity, spice, smooth with youthful power, lively acidity and persistent in the finish. Would certainly like to try it in a few years. For now, this very interesting Syrah is Highly Recommended.
This is an Amarone type wine at an un-Amarone price. It is from the area around Venice and is a blend of Merlot (60%) and Corvina. Corvina is the principal grape in red Valpolicella wines. The interesting thing here is that the grapes are naturally dried on vines for about 15 days. This process helps towards a more intense wine and that is the case here.
Colour is dark ruby. Very pleasant aromas of ripe fruits (cherry, plum), a touch of vanilla too. Velvety and concentrated black and red fruit flavours, mild spice and soft tannins, quite a long finish. Overall a rich and well-balanced palate and Highly Recommended.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
A Trio of White Alternatives
Landron La Louvetrie Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AP) 2015, 12%, €15.65 Wines Direct
This fresh tasting Muscadet is a long way from the many cheap ones consumed on half-forgotten Breton holidays. It has been rasied sur lie, is organic, biodynamic (vegan friendly). The grape used by the way is not called Muscadet (as many of us holidaymakers then thought) but the local Melon de Bourgogne. It is light bodied, dry, with medium to high acidity and they recommend using it with mussels, oysters and herb omelette.
You’ll note light gold with tints of green in the glass, yeasty aromas, a tingly mouthfeel with lively citrus fruit; rather elegant - the time on lees has helped. All in all, a pleasurable renewal of acquaintance with a wine I once (maybe more than once) had more than enough of. Highly Recommended.
Great for fish and shellfish they say but why not try it my way - with trout (both tinned and fresh, not at the same time!) from the marvellous Goatsbridge Farm in Kilkenny.
La Fonte Vermentino di Terrabianca Tuscany (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €16.15 Karwig Wines
This is another fresh and fruity wine, on a par for quality with the Muscadet. Colour is a very light straw and the aromas are on the slight side. After the lightness of the aromas, the palate is a surprise and a very pleasant one at that, a smooth feel and then those fresh and concentrated fruit flavours (grapefruit, lemon), excellent acidity and a long finish as well. Reminds me of a good quality Sauvignon. Highly Recommended.
Casa Maria Verdejo, Castilla Y Leon (VDT) 2014, 12.5%, €10.45 Le Caveau
Steely pale yellow is the producer’s apt description of the colour. Aromas too are rather muted, suggestions of apple. On the palate though, it has much more going for it, fresh and dry and zesty with green fruit flavours and a good finish.
Agricola Castellana is a long standing and important coop and this Recommended wine is very approachable and food friendly. Ideal with a salad of Goatsbridge Farm trout, other fresh fish, shellfish. Try it too as an aperitif with olives. Besides, it will do well too with spicy sauces.