Showing posts with label Provence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Provence. Show all posts

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A White Gem from the Angels of the Windy Mountain

A White gem from the Angels of the Windy Mountain

With an Irish helping hand.
Not a pleasant day
on the summit.

Domaine des Anges, blanc 2009, Ventoux (Provence, France), 14%, Karwig Wines

In beautiful Provence under the shadow of Mont Ventoux (known as the windy mountain, among other things), winemaker Ciaran Rooney produces this well balanced white in the Irish owned Domaine Des Anges (angels).

The colour is like pale honey and it has a charming nose, a mix of white fruit and floral elements. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity (ripe pear), and surprisingly ample with a good long finish.

This Highly Recommended blend of Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc and Clairette, was hand-crafted on the small beautiful hillside vineyard in the South of France, all without the use of herbicides or pesticides, respecting nature and tradition. On the side of the angels!
On the way up Ventoux

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy New Year, With Rosé en Primeur!

With Rosé en Primeur!

Just got a Happy New Year card from the folks at Laurent Miquel vineyard near Beziers. Dominique is one of the signatories and she explained to me previously that the French spread out the New Year Celebrations over the first few weeks. No rush there then!

But you may want to rush out for an offer that Dominique also told me about. It is one where you pay less for your Rosé rose by buying it “en primeur” via From Vineyards Direct 

 Three years ago From Vineyards Direct launched what is now a traditional  “en Primeur” release of new vintages of Pontet Bagatelle Rosé, raising a good few eyebrows by introducing pale pinks into what has often seemed to be the preserve of more ‘serious’ wines from a particular left or right bank.

Describing the rationale for selling Pontet Bagatelle rosé en Primeur, Esme Johnstone, co-founder of FromVineYardsDirect, said: “It is the best rosé from Provence, probably France, and the first 2011 rosé to be sold en Primeur. It is outstanding… We want our customers to be able to enjoy this wine without paying through the nose.”

The 2011 harvest at Château Pontet Bagatelle was ideal and, producer Garry Stephens describes the wine as The best rosé we have ever produced at Pontet Bagatelle – an appetising pale pink colour with a nose that bleeds intense but restrained summer berry fruits. Good balance, acidity and a great finish. Just about perfect  I am thrilled”

  • The wine can be purchased at the remarkable price of €51 in Bond. This is €45 less than the price of the 2010 vintage as fromVineyardsDirect have been able to purchase the majority of the harvest this year  and Garry wishes to thank FVD customers. This stunning Rosé will also be available in Magnums, Double Magnums and Imperials.   The larger bottles add a touch of drama as well as flavour to any party, reception or wedding.
The prices in bond for delivery late April/May are as follows:
Bottle    €4.25Bt or €51cs       
Magnums or €9 or €54 cs(6)
Double magnum(300cl) €25 or cs (3) €75
Imperial (6oocl) €78
Queries to info(at)  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011




Bought this bottle after a tasting at the producer’s shop in the pretty village of Beaumes de Venise. Spent part of the morning on top of a foggy Mont Ventoux (6 degrees), seeing (through gaps in the cloud) the sunshine in the valleys below (26 degrees). It stayed fine as we drove through the Dentelles to Beaumes. It was a good sunny day and this turned out to be a good buy.

The grape variety mix in the area is Grenache 50%, Syrah and /or Mourvedre 20% minimum and other grapes authorised in the appellation 20% maximum.

In appearance it is a rich red while the nose finds a rich mix of ripe red fruits and local herbs. This is a big wine on the palate, warm and full bodied with the fruit and spices. It is an excellent mouthful, not at all shy and the team of tannins keeps it all well balanced.

This particular bottle was put to good use with some excellent local products - see the previous post.


Beaumes is one of the 8 Crus of the Southern Rhone and has been so since 2005. The grape mix here is slightly different from the Plan de Dieu and is: Grenache 50%, Syrah 25%, Mourvedre and other varieties authorised by the Appellation 20% maximum and white grape varieties 5%.

This was another very enjoyable holiday purchase that reached Ireland but didn't last for too long! It has a very rich red colour with a quite a nose of red and black fruits and spice. The palate is somewhat smoother than the Plan de Dieu and it is full bodied and well balanced with some excellent work form the smooth tannins.

Another fine example from the Rhone and a little step up on the Plan de Dieu.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011



In you are in Athy this sunny morning for the ploughing, or indeed for any day of the event, I’ll bet you won't easily pass the stand of Amandine Confectionery. 

This Dungarvan based company makes delicious French style cakes of all shapes and sizes and all are tempting, especially the succulent Pear & Almond and Lemon Meringue Tarts that have been shortlisted for the 2011 Irish Food Awards in Dingle at the end of the month.

But you don’t have to go to Athy to get your hands on these sweet things. Amandine has a permanent stand in the mall at the Mahon Point Shopping Centre and also at the City Square Shopping Centre in Waterford.  The products are also available in Dungarvan (in (Dunnes Stores and Twomey’s Eurospar in Abbeyside) and in Midleton (Hurley's SuperValu).

Claire O'Connor is a busy person and, aside from the Ploughing Championships, you see her at various food festivals in the southern half of the country – I met here most recently at Midleton. Claire is from France, from the Var department in the region of Provence. She was educated at the Ecole superieure de commerce de Montpellier and now lives in Dungarvan

Claire, a follower of Munster rubgy, has brought a real taste of France to Ireland, her delicious selection of artisan confectionery includes cakes, tartlets, birthday and photocakes and more. Why not have a look at her Facebook page .

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Domaine Houchart 2010, Cotes de Provence Rose, 13%, Karwig.
In Roussillon in Provence, built from stone from nearby
ochre quarries,  I bought the beautiful rosé below left.

Fair play to Karwig Wines. They are trying hard to keep the summer alive and this rosé will bring you a little sunshine from the Midi even if it is dull outside.

They have a great selection on offer and I was tempted by the Bandol (over a fiver off) but, having tasted a string of Provencal beauties this summer, I picked the Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence. 

Marcus Gates was helping me make the choices and he says that the rosés have been flying this summer and the offer will continue for quite a while yet.

This vineyard is located in Puyloubic, a little village close to Aix-en-Provence, and has been producing “for more than 100 years famous rosé, red and white wines”. Not too sure about the fame of the village but rosés in Provence are generally good, even if not always famous.

This pale pink effort by Houchart doesn't disappoint. Nothing weak about this dry rosé as it roams the taste buds, exciting interest as it gently rolls. Nice sharpish flavours of white fruit that hit home. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mas de la Dame La Stèle Blanc 2010

Mas de la Dame La Stèle Blanc 2010, Vin de Pays des Alpilles, 13.5%, €9.20 at the vineyard.

“One day, the sea will recover the land and will stop at the Stèle (stone marker) of Mas de la Dame. So spoke Nostradamus.

The sea could well one day sweep up the flatlands of the Camargue and head for the historic farmhouse (mas) of la Dame. So I thought I’d help myself to some of their organic wine this summer during my hols in Provence.

This white is a blend of Rolle (80%) and Clairette. It has the colour of a well watered down whiskey and an aromatic nose. Dry and tasty, this classy fresh wine has a smooth and rounded mouthfeel with a mix of white fruit flavours spreading gently all over the palate, enough to allow a generous seepage into a lovely finish.

Aside from being mentioned in the predictions of Nostradamus, Mas de la Dame was painted by Van Gogh, and referred to by Simone de Beauvoir (famed 20th century French author-philosopher).

We had a lovely visit here in June and after tasting bought this white and some Stèle rouge 2006. They also do Olive Oil but we had already shopped for that at the nearby Castelas.

Unfortunately this fabulous wine is not available for sale in Ireland. But if you are in France, keep an eye out for it and grab some while you can. That Nostradamus fellow might just be correct!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Costières de Nîmes - Home and Away

Mas de Bressades, Tradition Blanc, AOC Costières de Nîmes 2009, 13.5%, €13.00, Bubble Brothers, 4 stars.
Rhone-Setes Canal, south of Nimes
I was surprised by the quality of the whites from Costières de Nimes during last month’s visit to Provence. The Costières, for some time now officially a Rhone wine, is based in the area around Nimes, including the “wild” Camargue, in the Bouches de Rhone.
I spotted this on the Bubbles Brothers site  and was keen to compare it with one that survived the journey home. Must admit I had meant to pick up the 2010 version but, with all the chat, ended up with the 2009.  I needn't have worried.
Colour is a weak golden straw and the nose is intensely aromatic. On the palate it is fresh and fruity (grapefruit mainly for me), quite complex plus a pleasant flavoursome finish. A very acceptable wine indeed.

Camargue ponies near Gallician
But do watch out for the 2010 version which according to the Bubble Bros site is “as fresh and fruity as ever” and “an irresistible temptation to those who like the fuller, richer style of white that comes from Roussanne and Grenache blanc” It is 50% Roussanne and 30% Grenache.

Gallician Costières de Nîmes Prestige blanc 2010, 13%
Cave Pilote de Gallician recommends that their white wines be kept for no more than two years. No danger of my exceeding that as the sole remaining bottle from June’s French haul was enjoyed at Tuesday’s barbecue. 

Not exactly comparing like with like here as the grape mix is different to the one from Bubble Bros. It is 50% Grenache blanc, 30% Clairette and 20% Marsanne and the cost, at the Cave, was less than four euro.

Colour is pale yellow and the nose is moderately floral and, on the palate, it is fresh and smooth with a decent finish. Not bad at all but the honours in this little contest go to the Mas de Bressades.
To see more of my June trip to some of the Costieres de Nimes villages, click here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Rice growing near Arles
Last Thursday wasn't the best of of days and the Mahon Point Farmers Market  had moved indoors (into the covered car park) to avoid the forecasted wind and rain. Still, I enjoyed the visit and called to some regulars (such as Woodside and Arbutus) and also met one or two new folks.

Back at the ranch, we put the purchases to good use. You’ll probably know that the mozzarella from Toonsbridge Dairy in Macroom was in the presentation made to the Queen on her recent visit to the city market.

But did you know they also make a Philadelphia type cheese with the same buffalo milk and it is called Buffadelphia . Picked up a packet at the Real Olive Company  stall in Mahon (they probably have it in the English Market also) and used it in a salad that included some beetroot from Lolo’s stall, where a three head bunch cost just €2.50. The salads came from the back garden and all in all it was very tasty.

At the market, I had bought some potatoes and vegetables from Ballycurraginny Farm and also from Ballintubber Farm but none of these was required for that night’s dinner.

The centrepiece here was Lamb Tagine from Flynn’s Kitchen. Iain Flynn’s stall isn't the biggest but he has quite an excellent range including soups, pates, jams and prepared dishes.

Brought some rice back from the recent visit to Provence and decided it to use it with the Tagine. Had visions of a nice photo as we added red and black rice to the white. But the colours all ran and so no photo as we spooned out the purple mix!

Still it tasted very well indeed and proved an excellent accompaniment to the Tagine which, as usual for Flynn’s Kitchen, was spot-on, the ingredients top class.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BEAUMES DE VENISE - Stronger and Sweeter


Having completed a long promised trip to the top of Mont Ventoux, the white mountain of Provence (and of the Tour de France), we found that the temperature (which had been 6 degrees at the top) was a very pleasant 26 in the valley.

By the time we got to Malaucene at the foot of the 1912 metre high mountain, we were ready for more. On the map, I spotted a road linking us with Beaumes. It turned out to be a beautiful country road through the vineyards and passed close to the mountains called the Dentelles (lace).

It was mid-afternoon when we reached Beaumes and the cafes were busy in the otherwise sleepy village. Could perhaps have sought out the Cooperative but, in the heat,  settled for the convenient shop of Domaine des Richard  in the centre of the hamlet where a lady, with two year’s English, took great care of us.

Her tasting samples were generous to say the least and we left well stocked with the famous fortified (15%) sweet wine called Beaumes de Venise and also the producer’s own Plan de Dieu, a lovely red.

Opened a bottle in the sunny garden last Sunday at lunchtime and the promise from those generous tastings was fulfilled. Well worth a try and, while making a call this week to Bradley’s in North Main Street for that new Stonewell Cider, I spotted that they had some of the Beaumes on the shelves, though not the exact bottle that I am enjoying – still have some left!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


In a rural setting, between Kenmare and Glengarriff, in a Kerry village called Bonane, a French chef called Benoit Lorge makes exquisite chocolates that end up in all corners of the world.
This success story started back in 1995 and goes on and on. They ship worldwide via their website  while local stockists here in Cork are Nash 19 (Princes Street) and the Sugar Cafe (Washington Street).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chateau d’Estoublon

Chateau d’Estoublon

Fontvieille was the nearest town to us in a recent visit to Provence and so I took the chance to visit nearby Chateau d’Estoublon, mentioned in the Michelin Wine Regions of France Green Guide. Estoublon seems to be an up and coming organic producer in this area and I saw its wines on sale in the Palais des Papes in Avignon where it shared shelf-space with the big hitters.

It also sells its own wines, including some AOC Baux des Alpilles, along with some fine foods, fashion and furniture. There is no admission charge – it is after all a shop - and you will see some inviting items on the shelves. We helped ourselves to a box of Callissons, some of the famous nougat from Montelimar and also a bottle of the Chateau’s 2010 Rose (€12.00).

Needed something to go with the wine, so we headed for a local traiteur and purchased calamari in a Provencal sauce. Not a bad match at all. The wines proved itself but whether it would outshine the many classy Roses in a head to head is hard to say. Maybe a contest for the future.  Estoublon produces organic wines and have carried the Ecocert label since 2002, which certifies the validity of the organic farming methods used.
We were on our way back from St Remy de Provence’s Musée Estrine, Centre d’Interpretation Van Gogh. It has none of the famous artist’s paintings, many of which were executed in or near the town. Indeed, there are none either in Arles. Obviously, they didn’t think much of him then and are still scrambling to catch up.
In the St Remy centre, an 18th century hotel, they substitute with high quality photos of the same size as the paintings. Here you will see an 1889 self portrait, The Sewer and Starry Night among many others.
For more info on Provence, visits my site here -