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Showing posts with label Vacqueyras. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacqueyras. Show all posts

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau. Starting with Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl


A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau
Starting with a Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl
Meeting Rhona at St Peter's last week

“We are a small vineyard, ten hectares in total, eight planted with Chardonnay, two with Pinot Noir,” said Rhona Cullinane of the 1701 vineyard in the Franciacorta region of Italy when I met her at the Le Caveau portfolio tasting in Cork’s old St Peter's Church last Thursday. So I hear you asking: Rhona Cullinane, from an Italian vineyard? Well, Rhona is from Clonakilty and went to Sienna to finish off third level education and fell in love with the country and now divides her time between the 1701 vineyard and London with plenty of opportunities to get back to Clon.

1701 is an unusual name for a winery . It comes from the year of the first vinification there by the Conti Bettoni Cazzago family; that was in the “brolo”, a four hectare vineyard framed by X1 century walls. In 2012, brother and sister Federico and Silvia Stefini took over the estate and the winery and named it 1701 in honour of that long-ago first vintage. Rhona works with the Stefinis and they were the first in the Franciacorta region to be awarded the coveted biodynamic Demeter certification in July 2016.

There are about 100 to 120 producers in the area and they are now “slowly focusing” on external markets, Rhona told me last week. “there is a regional ambition to move to organic and biodynamic”. 

Rhona was showing the 1701 Franciacorta Brut DOCG. It is a blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%).  The summer heat of the vineyard is tempered by the breeze from the lake (Iseo) and the mountains to the north. “We choose to keep it on the lees for 30 months, well above the appellation minimum. It is made in the traditional manner, manually harvested, with the indigenous yeasts, and a secondary fermentation in the bottle but with zero dosage.
Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel (left) and Damiem of Clos de Caveau

St Peter's
It is a gorgeous sparkling wine, the palate full and generous, clean, fresh and elegant, apple notes, citrus too and that typical brioche note, beautifully balanced and a dry finish. Expect to pay in the mid 30s, considerably less than what you'd pay for the bigger names of the region; lovely wine, great value.

Jules, who is spending a few month in L’Atitude (Cork) improving his English, was keen to show me some of the wines he was familiar with from his home in the south west of France, beginning with the family’s impressive Chateau de Cedre héritage. “This is 95% Malbec, 5% Merlot,” he said. “Four of the five parcels are organic but the next vintage will be fully organic. It is started in cement tanks, matured in barrels.” 

It is medium to full bodied, gorgeous black fruits on the silky palate with a clean finish. Colour is a light ruby, it is easy-going, no shortage of drinkability. Another quality wine at a very good price (15.40).

The small Mirouze vineyard in Corbieres produces some excellent wines, including that Ciel du Sud that Jules showed. It is a lovely lively blend, 50% Grenache, 50% Carignan. It is raised in cement tanks and no sulphur is added. 
Margaret of Le Caveau and, right, Dave of Café Paradiso

The little vineyard is surrounded by garrigue. That means the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.
My cuvée!!

Domaine No Control is into wine (of course) and music. One of their Gamay is called Fusion, the other Rockaille Billy. I had spotted the Billy on the list early on and wasn't leaving until I had a taste of it. The domaine consists of just five hectares and Jules agreed that this was that bit different to Beaujolais Gamay. “Lovely, great drinkability”. Must get a few bottles of that for the table when I have guests!

from Oregon
The next chat I had was with Damiem and he was showing the Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras AC Carmin Brilliant. Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm. 

And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours, and bearing the distinctive diagonal wraparound label designed by Karl Lagerfeld. It is a superb blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, natural yeast is used and nothing is added. Good structure and bite, lovely ripe tannins, excellent acidity and freshness.
Sustenance via L'Atitude 51

Superb
Then it was on to the Alsace table where there was a strong showing from Meyer-Fonné. Always find the Gentil wines from the Alsace very drinkable and the MF 2016 was typical. Later, I would come across a similar effort from Oregon’s Ovum Wines called Big Salt! 

The Meyer-Fonné Gewürztraminer 2015 Réserve was aromatic and rich. Hints of sweetness too in the Pinot Blanc but this was dry with  a minerally finish. Also excellent - it suited my palate well - was the 2015 Riesling while the 2013 Grand Cru didn't quite do it for me, almost always find it hard to tune out that whiff of petrol. 
Mayer-Fonné well represented on Le Caveau list

The 2016 Pinot Gris was much more to my liking and the winery points to this one as “the archetypical Pinot Gris for the table”. Will put that on my list. Indeed, I think I may just make a list of all the Meyer-Fonné wines and see how I get on.

I had been pointed towards the Kumpf et Meyer 2016 Riesling by Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel. And with good reason. From its fresh, fragrant and full nose through its complex palate to the long and savoury finish, this is worth a second longer look and so another that will make my ever lengthening shopping list!






Sunday, February 25, 2018

Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too. French Wine Fest At SuperValu


Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too
French Wine Fest At SuperValu.

The French have taken over the wine aisle of your local SuperValu and they’ll be entrenched until the last day of the month. So you'd best get in there quickly and take advantage of the current generosity. Some big cuts in regular prices here and other tempting offers; watch out for case deals and also get another ten euro off if you buy six bottles.

The Reds
Remy Ferbras Vacqueyras (AOP) 2015, 14%, €12.00 (20.99)


Colour is ruby red and ripe dark fruits abound in the inviting mix of aromas. There is a great balance between the ripe fruit and spices, plus a hint of liquorice, impressive texture, full bodied and rounded.  A good bottle to have on your table at this time of year, great with duck and roast meat dishes, and also the goat now being sold by Eoin O’Mahony in the English Market. It is SuperValu’s Wine of the Month and Very Highly Recommended. Note that massive discount!

Vacqueyras is one of the nine villages in the Southern Rhone that is allowed its own name as the AOC name. The others are Cairanne (the most recent, 2016), Rasteau, Vinsobres, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Lirac, Tavel and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and all nine are regarded as crus.

The village itself is small and tree lined. Indeed, when I called there a few years back, the summer canopy of leaves had the centre in deep shade in the early afternoon. Looked a bit unreal.

Homage du Rhone Vinsobres (AC) 2015, 15%, €12.00 (15.99)

Vinsobres may not be as well known as its fellow Rhone wine Vacqueyras but it is well worth checking out. Grapes allowed in the Vinsobres are Grenache (50% minimum), Syrah (25%) and/or Mourvedre, other varieties allowed 25% max. Serve, they suggest, at 16 to 17 degrees, with Provencal dishes of lamb or game. Goat perhaps?!

Colour is mid-purple and the legs are indeed slow to clear (as you'd expect with the high ABV). Aromas are rather intense, plum and cherry prominent. Spice and fruit lead on the palate, an intense tango; tannins there too but they are gentle. Bring on the red meat, that game, a stew perhaps, then the cheese. With this in our cups, we are well prepared. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Mauleon Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany (AOP) 2014, 13%, €10.00 (11.99)

This mid to deep purple wine features strong red to darker fruits in the aromas, floral hints too. There is a spicy introduction with strong fruit, the tannins close to velvety. Quite an impressive assemblage of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache. Recommended. Pairing dishes suggested are Mountain ham, Pata Negra, Rack of Lamb (with spices), or Pork chops (with herbs of Provence, stuffed tomatoes or mushrooms and cream).


Les Blancs

Andre Goichot Mâcon-Lugny (AC) 2016, 13%, €10.00 (14.99)

This is a terrific example of French Chardonnay from the grape’s birth place (there is a village called Chardonnay a short drive away). After a few years of tasting, I am coming to the conclusion that most AG wines are good and that quite a few are very good indeed.

This has a very light strawy colour. A nose of stone fruits, floral notes too. Palate features flavours of those fruits (peach, nectarine, apricot) plus apple and citrus too, a crisp acidity, and some minerality also. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.



Andre Goichot Pouilly-Fuissé (AC) Les Feuilles d’Or 2014, 13%, €16.00 (22.99)

Colour is a medium gold and there are aromas of citrus and white fruits among quite a medley. In the mouth, it is smooth, close to creamy, richly fruited and soft with good acidity too plus a lingering finish. An elegant wine indeed, one of my favourites from the sale, and Very Highly Recommended. 

La Baume Elisabeth Viognier Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2016, 14%, €10.00 (12.99)

This friendly, fresh and fruity white wine has a light, and bright, straw colour. Inviting white fruit aromas, floral notes also. The palate delivers a delicious mixture of citrus, peach and apricot flavours, a little tingle too, even a hint of sweetness, yet the fresh finish that follows is lip-smackingly dry. Highly Recommended. Sufficiently full-bodied to pair with Asian cuisine.


Others to note in the sale
Chateau Camp De La Hire 2010 (Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux), 13%, €12.00 (15.99)

Intense colour here; the fruity aromas are also quite intense. Medium to full bodied, with soft tannins, it is fresh and elegant, well balanced and pleasingly complex with long finalé. Highly Recommended.

This is not the Bordeaux of the big chateaux. But the same grapes are used, mainly Merlot in this case. Castillon, one of four Cotes de Bordeaux areas, is squeezed between the Dordogne River to the south, St Emilion (no less) to the immediate west and the Dordogne department to the east.

Alchimie Sauvignon Blanc (Coteaux du Giennois AOC), €12.00 (14.99)

This little known little appellation (202 hectares) on the eastern edge of the Loire Valley northeast of Sancerre (4181 ha) produces almost equal amounts of light-bodied red and white wines. With extensions of Sancerre limestone geological formations into the area, you can expect good Sauvignon Blanc and this doesn't disappoint. Highly Recommended.

Fancy a little sparkler? Try Andre Guichot Vin Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Brut €12.00 (17.99).

Price in brackets indicates the normal price per bottle.


Monday, April 4, 2016

April is the Real Wine Month

April is the Real Wine Month


April, the Real Wine Month, is up and running!


Real Wine Month is an exciting, innovative promotion of artisan wines which have been produced sustainably by organic, biodynamic viticulture and low intervention (a.k.a. 'natural') winemaking. It is being run across Ireland and the United Kingdom by specialist importers Le Caveau (Ireland) and Les Caves de Pyrène (United Kingdom).


From 4th-30th April, selected wines will be poured by the glass or featured on wine lists,  in tastings and themed events in over 200 restaurants, independent retailers and wine clubs across the U.K. and over 50 in Ireland.


This, the third Real Wine Month in Ireland, is shaping up to be the best yet. From pubs, bars and bistros to Michelin-starred establishments, to independent retailers and wine clubs, we have seen increasing interest in the quality, authenticity and diversity of these small-scale, artisanal wines.


Through participating restaurants and retailers, the promotion represents a great opportunity for wine-drinkers to taste and explore a diversity of wines that are not mass-distributed due to small-scale production, or indeed are in short supply due to global demand particularly from cities like New York, San Francisco, London and Paris.


To see what’s on in your area, the events, the participating restaurants, wine bars and stores, please click here for the full press release. I hope to have another post or two over the month.


In the meantime, here are some of the wines that you may well come across. There are some real beauties here!


Chateau Turcaud Entre-Deux-Mers sec 2014, 13%, €14.90 Le Caveau


I didn't know it then but I was looking down on this vineyard less than two years ago. After a visit to Gavin Quinney’s Chateau Bauduc, I had climbed to the top of the famous local abbey Le Sauve Majeure and, from the final 159th step, had a great view over the surrounding countryside. April is Real Wine Month and, as part of the fun, Chateau Turcaud will be represented at events in Dublin and Cork.
Le Sauve Majeure
This particular wine is a classic Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc (60%), Semillon (35%) and Muscadelle (5%) and, having been fermented and aged on the lees in vat,  the result is very crisp and fruity.


You'll note a good depth of yellow in the colour with aromas of citrus fruits, some blossoms too. On the palate, it is more intense, more assertive than the nose, with a lovely wave of fruit flavours, an excellent mouthfeel, well balanced and with a good finish. Highly Recommended.


Serve this delightful wine well-chilled as an aperitif, with all sorts of seafood, or with goat cheese, sheep cheese, and hard cheeses.


Isabelle and Stéphane Le May are eager to safeguard the local soil and terroir they have inherited: they’ve come back to mechanically weeding, and fight vine diseases with sustainable methods.


Chateau Beauregard Mirouze Tradition 2013 (Corbieres AOC), 13.5%, €14.85 Le Caveau


Winemakers Karine and Nicolas Mirouze have blended 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah (over 40 years old) to make this excellent organic wine.  Mirouze will be another of the French wineries to be represented here this month. Their favourite pairing for this wine is Duck breast accompanied by a ratatouille of vegetables from the garden.


Colour is a deep red, almost purple. The aromas, savoury and spicy, puzzled me a bit and the chateau says they are “nose dashing”!  A mingling of the scents of red fruit and garrigue (the local scrub). So there you are. On the palate, you find intense dark fruit flavours, spice too, tannins noticeably in play, yet overall invigorating and with a very good finish. A really warming satisfying wine and Highly Recommended.


Clos de Caveau Carmin Brillant 2012 (Vacqueyras AOC), 14.5%, €24.50 Le Caveau


Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm. And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours.


The vineyard is naturally isolated by a belt of Mediterranean forest, making it ideally suited for organic viticulture, for which the domain obtained full certification in 1989. Most of the work in the vineyard is carried out by hand and the yields are very limited. Clos de Caveau too are coming to Dublin and Cork in April.


Colour is a dark red and the aromas feature red fruit and some hints of herbs. It is very smooth and concentrated on the palate, lush fruit flavours with spice and herbs, and fine tannins. An excellent finish as well and Very Highly Recommended. The blend is 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah and it is 100% organic.


Chateau Tour des Gendres, La Gloire de mon Pére Cotes de Bergerac Rouge (AOC)  2007, 12.5%, €21.30 Le Caveau


The aromas are intense and very pleasing, one that invited me to take off my glasses! Like the wine, I’m getting on; by lifting the glasses, my nose works that little bit better! It is quite a dark red with a lighter rim - it is after all getting on in years!


On the palate, it is very very smooth and rounded, gentle too, nothing extreme, still fresh but ready to enjoy and appreciate, with an excelling lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Bergerac, perpetually in the shadow of neighbour Bordeaux, produces many excellent wines, mainly from much the same grapes. This blend of Merlot (45%), Malbec (35%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (5%), is an excellent example. By the way, the proportions of the blend vary from year to year. It spent eight months in oak. Viticulture is biodynamic.

A word from the makers: This wine, quite powerful in the mouth, will accompany venison, duck, the stews and cheese. It will be better if decanted for within hours, and can be kept  between 5 and 8 years. The eight years is up! But no panic at all.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Jingle Bell Rhone. Two for the red stocking

Jingle Bell Rhone
Two for the red stocking
Fountain in memory of a local troubadour
at the entrance to Vacqueyras

Remy Ferbras Vacqueyras 2013 (Rhone, France), 13.5%, €10.00 SuperValu.
Colour is ruby red and cherries stand out in the inviting mix of aromas. There is a great balance between lively fruit and spices plus a hint of liquorice, impressive blend, full bodied and rounded and a good bottle to have on your table at this time of year. Very Highly Recommended.

Regulations governing the AOC allow the use of up to 22 grape varieties but the three main ones in Vacqueyras rouge are Grenache (at least 50%), Syrah and Mourvedre, hence the term GSM wine,often tossed about by experts to the confusion of us amateurs.

Vacqueyras is one of eight villages in the Southern Rhone that has its own name as the AOC name. The others are Rasteau, Vinsobres, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Lirac, Tavel and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and all eight are regarded as Crus.

The village itself is small and tree lined. Indeed, when I called there a few years back, the canopy of leaves had the centre in deep shade in the early afternoon. Looked a bit unreal.


Vines in the Southern Rhone

Chateau Goudray, Seguret Cotes du Rhone Villages 2012, 15%, €10.00 SuperValu
This is another of the Rhone’s GSM wines (we’re learning fast!). Minimum ABV for Seguret is 12.5% so this is comfortably above that! Hillside Seguret, like Vacqueyras, is a village in the Southern Rhone but, unlike its neighbour, is not allowed to go solo on the label. It can only append its name to the more general Cotes du Rhone Village labels, a step down on going solo but a step up on the basic Cotes du Rhone.

This too has an inviting fruity aroma and a ruby colour. Another very handy one for the Christmas, it is fruity, spicier than the Vacqueyras, well rounded, well balanced (no hint of that higher alcohol), dry, and with a decent finish. Could be an interesting match-up with that new local spiced buffalo by Eoin O'Mahony in the English Market. Again, Very Highly Recommended.

The World Atlas of Wine says that Seguet develops quickly. You've been warned!