Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Three Lesser-known Grapes
Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Cinsault
You won't find any of this trio in the comfort zone of “international” grapes. And, aside from Pinotage, you’ll not often find them in a bottle on their own. But I have and I’m very glad I did.
Petit Verdot is highly valued in Bordeaux but generally only as a small contributor to the red blend there. It ripens late and is therefore well suited to the Languedoc where our delicious example comes from.
Pinotage, according to Grapes and Vines, “is potentially South Africa’s greatest treasure…. and yet South Africans are some of its fiercest critics”. The varietal was created in Stellenbosch (it is a university town) in 1925 by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Our bottle is one of the more modern lighter types, bright and juicy.
And that same Cinsault (Samsó in Spain, Cinsaut in most other countries) is found in our other bottle, all sourced by the way by Le Caveau in Kilkenny. The producer in Chile, a Frenchman, has made a natural aromatic wine and spells it Cinsault.
At a tasting last year in L’Atitude, Francesca Jara said of it: “Five years ago, natural wine was almost an underground movement in Chile. This is 100% Cinsault, from really old vines (80 years plus), no added sulphites, no oak.”
Les Hauts de Median Petit Verdot, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2015, 13%, €13.95 Le Caveau
These Petit Verdot grapes are grown on the slopes of a volcano in the Languedoc (between Béziers and the sea). Winemaker Aurélie Trebuchon-Vic advises there may be a slight deposit - “a sign of traditional wine-making that respects the natural qualities of the fruit". No chemicals and no pesticides are used.
Colour is a deep enough red, a glossy one. Aromas are pretty intense, dark fruits and herby notes too. And there is a super balance of fruit (mainly cherry), spice and acidity in the medium body. It is harmonious, fresh and delicious, with good length, a lovely surprise and Very Highly Recommended. Aurélie recommends enjoying it “with some friends and grilled meat”. More at www.preignes.com
Inkawu Pinotage 2013, Laibach Vineyards, Stellenbosch (South Africa), 14.5%, €22.90 Le Caveau
Laibach Vineyards, who specialise in natural and organic wine, is situated in one of the prime red wine growing areas of South Africa. Early morning picking means no warm fruit reaches the cellar. This particular wine was aged in French oak (75% new) for 15 months. An entirely natural sediment may form, so decant. By the way, no deposit at all in my bottle.
It has a ruby red colour and you’ll find dark fruit and vanilla in the aromas. It is rich and spicy, complex, lots of flavours (including red cherry, toast). The balance is spot-on and there is a long dry finish.
Inkawu is the Xhosa name for fun monkeys, a hint that the wine is “a playful, high-spirited expression” of the new South Africa. Maybe so. In any event, the care and hard work, the respect for the land and the fruit, has been rewarded and you may share by enjoying this Very Highly Recommended wine.
Louis-Antoine Luyt Cinsault 2013, Maule Valley (Chile), 14%, €23.50 Le Caveau
Louis-Antoine Luyt, trained by the renowned Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais, is renowned for the character of his Chilean wines which are organic and natural, some made from very old vines indeed. Quite a character himself - some more detail here.
This full-bodied ruby red, with no added sulphites and no oak, has inviting aromas of cherry fruit. Lots of fruit flavour, some spice, notes of aniseed follow along with a refreshing acidity and then comes the long dry finalé. Tannins are a little rustic but less so than when I tasted it a year ago. Easy drinking and, as importer Pascal Rossignol might say, easy to digest, this Cinsault is Highly Recommended. Be sure to decant this one!
At last year’s tasting, Francisca said Chile has more than cheap wines, more than the major varieties. “Irish supermarkets don't have what we drink in Chile.” You won’t find this in supermarkets either so major thanks to Le Caveau for giving us the chance to get out of the comfort zone.
* The striking label is based on old Chilean bus signage.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
WINE OF THE BEAN: COFFEE IS A FRUIT
Val de Vie’s Barista 2009 Pinotage, South Africa, 14%, Bradley’s Off Licence, €12.99.
This is a great excuse to call to Bradley's, if you ever need one!
Colour is a dark red and the nose gives up dark red fruit, the bite of plum skins for me, and the famous "rush" of coffee. On the palate, you also find those dark red fruits, also pomegranate and cherry, and that coffee which, remember, is also a fruit.The deliberately induced coffee (see video) element has led directly to this wine being labelled Barista. Despite that and the lingering dodgy past reputation of the Pinotage grape (“A love it or hate it” – Mr Oz Clarke’s summation), there is nothing to be afraid of here.
This is what Hugh Johnson terms Pinotage Mark 11 and the evolution means there is nothing preventing you from making a call to the iconic North Main Street store, founded in 1850. Where half the world goes anyhow. Massive selection of drinks, just about as many languages.
The coffee in this version by Val de Vie (not by any means the first of its kind) is far from being a dominant factor and there are tannins enough to give a well balanced and quite mature mouthful for a 2009.
In this video , you will see Val de Vie MD Bertus Fourie. His favourite accompaniment “remains a blue cheese-filled brandy snap, with Belgian chocolate and roasted coffee beans”. Didn't have anything that exotic on hand on the football-less Wednesday but there were some high class chocs. Tried them out. Neither the chocs nor the wine were improved by the combining but neither deteriorated either.