We had my parents-in-law around for dinner on Saturday and as they are fond of Burgundy, I opened up two bottles, plus a Pinot from the Loire Valley.
Pernand-Vergelesses, Les Belles Filles, 2015 J.C. Ramonet
A delicious medium-bodied pure Chardonnay with subtle spice, and very good acidity. Lightly aromatic, with mouth-filling peaches but not over-ripe nor in the least bit clumsy.
Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015, Sylvain Pataille
This was a lovely glass of wine: perfumed and elegant, with pure ripe dark cherries, just enough acidity and very good concentration. I suspect this will continue to improve, but a joy to drink right now. Around €30 from independents. Imported by Vinostito.com.
Sancerre Rouge Maulin Bèle 2017, Domaine André Vatan
A very different structure to the Bourgogne (both are Pinot Noir) with softer fruits; ripe dark cherries, a lovely juiciness and very good concentration. Lovely wine, perfect with roast pork. Available for €24.50 from Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie
I opened up these for dinner last night; two Loire Cab Francs twenty one years apart. The Amirault St.-Nicolas de Bourgueil Les Malganges 2017 (Coravined from a tasting a few weeks back) has an amazing concentration of pure blackcurrant fruits, with the structure to last and evolve for years to come. Very drinkable now though. It is imported by Grape Circus, and available in Sheridans Cheesemongers and SIYPS.com – €42 a bottle. I know it is being served by the glass in Ely at present.
I am a big fan of the Baudry wines; some of the best Chinon around. This bottle was, I think, a thank-you present from Gabriel Cooney of Grapevine in Dalkey for a tasting I did many years ago. It was holding together very well, with very good acidity and developing delicate red cherry and redcurrant fruits. Nice grip and plenty of fruit. Possibly a little too austere for my tastes but still very good over dinner. A mere 12% alcohol.
Grapevine in Dalkey and Cabot & Co in Westport import the Baudry wines together. They can also be found out in Red Island wines in Skerries. I don’t see this wine listed, but the 2017 Les Grezeaux is €25.
A very smart package arrived on my doorstep this week, from the people who handle Moët & Chandon. The famous Moët Impérial Brut Champagne is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and has released a limited-edition bottle and newly designed gift box.
Originally christened ‘Impérial’ as a tribute to Napoléon Bonaparte, the first bottles were shipped in 1869. Apparently a bottle was smashed on the bow to bring good luck on the voyage thus creating a tradition that continues today (although not always with Moët). The Champagne spraying at the winners podium, indulged in by racing drivers (always with Moët) was started at Le Mans in 1967 by Dan Gurney. Various rock stars, film stars and other assorted celebs have enjoyed a glass of Moët and it has appeared in a number of films.
With a bottle opened every second somewhere in the world, Moët Impérial (it is pronounced Mowett) is the most popular brand of Champagne of all, with some 28 million bottles being produced every year. While I have not always been impressed by the quality of the Champagne in the past, I have tasted several very good bottles more recently. Expect bright apple and pear fruits, and a smooth lightly creamy palate with touches of grilled nuts.
The anniversary gift box with limited edition (not sure how limited) bottle is available from SuperValu for €58. A standard bottle, widely available will set you back €48-50.
First published in The Irish Times, Saturday22nd June, 2019
I wrote a few weeks ago that, given tax and duty, “value” and “cheap” do not always go together when it comes to wine. In Ireland a sub-€10 bottle can be a waste of your hard-earned cash. More expensive wines are frequently better value for money. The two great names of the northern Rhône, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, are beyond the reach of most of us, selling for €50-€100 a bottle. The relative bargains are close at hand; between these two appellations lie St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. Both can offer great value – although by value I mean €20-€35 a bottle. For that you should get a wine that will transform your dinner into a special event.
In general, the wines of the northern Rhône are lighter in alcohol and more elegant in style than those of the southern Rhône, at times closer to Burgundy than to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. All are made from Syrah, occasionally with a very small percentage of a white grape.
Crozes-Hermitage, once dismissed as poor man’s Hermitage, is now responsible for some very stylish wines. They may lack the structure and concentration of wines from the neighbouring hill of Hermitage, but the best have lovely bright, fresh fruits and can age a little, too – a glass of the 2007 vintage of the Les Rouvres below was a recent highlight.
Farther north, the narrow, 50km-long appellation of St Joseph, covering 26 communes, is bigger but produces less wine than Crozes-Hermitage. It has some fantastic sites and old vines. I strongly suspect quality and prices will continue to rise, but for the moment prices in both regions are reasonable; trying to decide on just four wines this week was not easy.
I have previously mentioned the Crozes-Hermitage from Alain Graillot (€30, Mitchell & Son) and the Cuvée Equinox Domaine des Lises (€24, siyps.com, Ely 64, Green Man), and they are great wines. In addition to the Terroir de Granit below, Burgundy Direct has the tighter, more mineral Passion de Terrasses 2016 for €31.75. JNwine.com has a great range of wines from the region, including a lovely St Joseph André Perret for €27.50. Wines Direct has the fuller-bodied wines from Domaine des Remizières.
I tasted some spectacular wines from the recently rediscovered appellation of Brézème – check out your local independent for the names Éric Texier and Domaine Lombard. I also discovered a new superstar in Domaine Bott, imported to Ireland by Caubet Wines. Among the negociants, Chapoutier, Ferraton, Guigal, Jaboulet and Cuilleron all produce at least reasonably priced St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. And most are great value for money.
Crozes-Hermitage 2015 Grande Classique, Cave de Tain 13.5%, €19.95
This has featured before, but it is one of my all-time favourites. Beautifully rounded, ripe yet savoury dark fruits with a good dry finish. A great all-purpose wine, but perfect with roast chicken or pork. From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
St Joseph 2016, Terroir de Granit, Guy Farge
A lovely, elegant wine with fresh violets on the nose, crunchy, juicy dark-cherry fruits and a light mineral touch. Try it with a plate of charcuterie or some grilled lamb chops. From Burgundy Direct, burgundydirect.ie
St Joseph 2016, Domaine du Monteillet, Stéphane Montez
Plump, fresh dark fruits – cherries and blackcurrants – with a whiff of spice and an easy finish. Would pair well with a seared duck breast with black cherries. From Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com
Crozes-Hermitage 2015 Le Rouvre, Yann Chave
One of my favourite wines. The 2015 is relatively rich and powerful, with harmonious ripe blackcurrant fruits and spicy black pepper. This would handle a rare steak perfectly. From Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com
Findlater & Co. held an Italian portfolio tasting for the trade yesterday. There was a very impressive collection of wines on show at every price level. I include two of my favourites below.
Giacomo Fenocchio Roero Arneis 2017
Claudio Fenocchio was at the tasting pouring his wine, including a few impeccably balanced Barolos and a very tasty Langhe Nebbiolo. I also really enjoyed this Roero Arneis – and tasted it alongside the ‘orange’ version that had been left on the skins for 6 months. Very different but both delicious.
Nicely textured relatively rich peach fruits with tangy slightly pithy orange peel. Soft and rounded with nice grip coming through on the finish. €25 from Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, www.mitchellandson.com.
Maria Gerari of Gianni Brunelli
Gianni Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino 2017
This was part of a very impressive range of wines on show, the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2009 being one of my favorite wines of the entire tasting. However, it would probably retail for around €175; I also enjoyed the Rosso above. 2017 was a warm vintage according to Maria.
Beautifully fragrant – all violets and strawberries; very forward with elegant concentrated ripe red cherry fruit, and a fine line of tannin. Delicious wine. €37 from Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie.
Like many wine lovers, I squirrel bottles of wine away to see how they will age and then somehow forget about them. As part of my continuing attempts to clear out my cellar I opened up these four white wines over the weekend. Some had aged better than others.
Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2013, Yann Chave.
This wasn’t really forgotten wine; I am a fan of the Chave white wanted to see how it aged. The answer is very well. This had attractive plump peachy fruits, subtle toasted almonds held together by good acidity. Delicious. 13% abv. Imported by Tindal Wines.
Riesling Grand Cru Kitterlé 2005, Domaines Schlumberger
I has high hopes for this as I am a fan of both Schlumberger and mature Riesling. As it turned out, this bottle was good rather than great. Mature toasted nuts, a touch of pineapple, some orange peel, dominated by high acidity. Nice, but looking at tasting notes online, I suspect it would have been better five years ago. 12% abv. Imported by Tindal Wines.
A Chardonnay with an (unspecified) proportion of Ansonica (aka Inzolia). I have always enjoyed this wine, and been impressed with its ability to age. This was no exception, although possibly it might have been even better a few years ago. The 2007 at twelve years old was ripe and rounded with toasted nuts, honeyed, soft, round peach fruits and good length. I really enjoyed this. 13.5% abv. Imported by Liberty Wines.
Bourgogne Aligoté 2008, Domaine G. & J.H. Goisot
I bought of this wine, and this was the last remaining bottle. At the time it was very good, but I should have finished this off a few years ago. Light brown in colour and oxidised. This went down the sink. 12.5% abv Imported by Nomad Wines.
It is often said that wine is all about time and place; it tastes better (or worse) depending on the food, the company and where you find yourself eating. I had tried the two wines below before in professional tastings. Both were very good but had been outshone by rival wines. Both tasted immeasurably better one Friday night, after a long, hard week, over dinner at home with my wife.
Floral and fresh, very forward with excellent racy acidity to keep balance; verdant lip-smacking green apple fruits, and a cleansing dry finish. Still youthful but irresistible right now.
We had ours with seared scallops with lemon zest and butter.
Fourchaumes is one of the best-known of the premiers crus of Chablis, partly due to its size. It also has a very favourable position just north of the Grands Crus, south facing with clay-limestone Kimmeridgean soils. It is held to be one of the finest of the premiers crus along with Mont de Milieu and Montée de Tonnerre, all of which are located on the north banks of the river Serein.
Available from Wines Direct, Mullingar, and Arnott’s, Dublin 1, winesdirect.ie
Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré 2015, St. Julien
Classic modern Saint Julien, forward and fragrant, with rich opulent blackcurrant fruits, cedar and subtle new oak, fine tannins and impressive rounded length.
A roast leg of lamb would be perfect.
This is not the second wine of Ch. Léoville-Poyferré (that is Ch. Moulin Riche) but made from younger vines on the estate. Tasted and then Coravined a few weeks earlier. On the first occasion it was fine, but another less expensive wine showed better.
Available from Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie
€18.95 from Wines Direct, Mullingar & Arnott’s Dublin, or online from winesdirect.ie.
Delicious fresh light Riesling; peaches and tropical fruits with a touch of honey, this is a lively, zingy crisp wine was the perfect aperitif last night. And at 8% you can have a decent glass (or two) without keeling over before dinner.
This very smart-looking bottle was delivered to my home yesterday afternoon. Five Farms Cream Liqueur is obviously hoping to garner a small segment of the massive cream liqueur market, created originally by Bailey’s Irish Cream. At €35 a bottle it is clearly alimed at the luxury end of the market.
Five Farms is made from a single batch of full cream milk from five family-owned farms in County Cork. It is blended with Irish Whiskey, distilled in Cork too. The back label says it was created for Holloway Distillery in Missouri, but it is apparently made in Ireland.
I am not genrally a fan of cream liqueuers, but the Five Farms was not sickly sweet, and combined a lovely creamy richness with some subtle toffee/butterscotch notes, and a warming kick (it is 17% abv) from the whiskey. It went down well. I could see myself adding it to a cup of hot chocolate, although the producer also suggests an Irish coffee or an Espresso Martini.
Five Farms is available exclusively in SuperValu stores nationwide and online now for €34.95.
Thomas Schmittel of Domaine des Lises (pictured above with Olivier Meisonnave of Dax restaurant) was being shown around town today with his importer Charles Derain of Nomad Wines. The two were armed with four bottles of wine, all of them enchanting. Domaine des Lises is owned by Maxime Graillot, who also owns the famous eponymous estate in Crozes Hermitage. Lises has been run organically for fifteen years, and is now in conversion for full certification.
The wines here are generally bottled with 50 gl total sulphur, 25gl free SO2. Thomas has been experimenting with sulphur-free wine – which tastes very different he says. He also has a small parcel of ungrafted vines which he has made into a separate cuvée.
Cuvée Equinox 2017, Crozes-Hermitage
“Our picnic wine”, says Thomas, of this wine, made from bought-in grapes from a single vineyard. A light refreshing supple wine with exuberant savoury dark cherry fruits and a tannin-free finish.
I would serve this cool, with all sorts of charcuterie and salads.
100% de-stemmed, a six day maceration followed by pressing and fermentation in concrete and then months in four thousand litre oak casks.
€24 from SIYPS.com, Ely 64wine, Glasthule and Green Man Wines, Terenure.
Domaine des Lises 2015, Crozes-Hermitage
From a warm vintage, this is a structured rich wine, with meaty dark fruits, and plenty of tannic grip. It still has a certain elegance, but ideally you would keep this a few years.
Thomas said this wine is always made the same way, allowing the vintage to shine through. 30% whole-bunch, a twenty day maceration in concrete with punching down during fermentation. Aged for ten months in barrel and demi-muid, including malolactic fermentation.
€34 from SIYPS.com, Ely 64wine, Glasthule and Green Man Wines, Terenure.
Domaine des Lises 2016, Crozes-Hermitage
From a more classic vintage, this is a superb wine, classic Syrah, with pure violet aromas and elegant silky fresh dark fruits and liquorice on the palate. There is a touch of new oak, but it is very subtle.
€34 from SIYPS.com, Ely 64wine, Glasthule and Green Man Wines, Terenure.
Domaine des Lises 2017 Crozes-Hermitage Blanc
From some unique clay soils in Crozes, this is a delicious rich textured wine with mouth-watering peaches and nectarines and the slightest hint of spice. A very impressive moreish wine. 70% Marsanne 30% Roussanne.