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Beaujolais bounces back: Get to grips with this great summer wine

 

Every now and again I follow my heart and try to convince you to try a few unloved wines. Usually this mean Riesling and sherry. I know most of you are unlikely to pay any attention, but I am relatively content, knowing I can continue to enjoy both of these great wines at reasonable prices.

I have also suggested you try Muscadet and Beaujolais. I am not sure about Muscadet, but Beaujolais is enjoying a genuine resurgence as consumers seek out lighter wines. Beaujolais is the perfect summer wine, although I drink it all year round. It is typically low in alcohol, with juicy fresh fruits and is the perfect picnic or alfresco wine, to be consumed cool, on sunny days.

The Beaujolais region can be divided neatly into two. The southern half has inferior soils (with a few exceptions) and produces wine simply labelled Beaujolais, the most basic wine. The northern half is a mass of different granite and schist soils. Beaujolais Villages, a step up from Beaujolais, comes from one or more of 39 villages in the northern half. At the very top are 10 crus, the villages with the very best soils.

Each cru has a character and style all of its own, depending on the soil. Fleurie is said to be floral and scented, Julienas richer and more powerful. And so on. All of the wines, from Beaujolais to the very best cru, are made entirely from the Gamay grape.

All are likely to be nimble and fruit-filled, although some, such as Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent, can have a tannic structure that rewards ageing. I am enjoying my last bottles of 2008 and 2009 Moulin-à-Vent (from Domaine Vissoux, available from Terroirs, Donnybrook). While each wine may taste different, they all have a common thread that unites them.

Most of the supermarkets have a basic Beaujolais on offer. Aldi has a Beaujolais Villages for €7.99, and Marks & Spencer has one for €10.50 and a Fleurie for €13. While these are very acceptable, if you venture to the smaller single-estate wines (sadly, usually €20 or more) you will find some really great wines.

As indicated above, Beaujolais is a great warm weather wine, the kind you would love to be served sitting outside a cafe in France or in the cool of an evening at home.

It is a great match for the famous foods of the nearby city of Lyon – salade Lyonnaise with bacon, pâtés, cold meats, sausages, chicken and pork, but it will happily partner any lighter barbecued foods, including burgers and white meats.

Fleurie Tradition 2016, Domaine de la Madone
13% €20.95
A delicious, fresh, thirst-quenching wine with juicy dark-cherry fruits. Serve cool with charcuterie, salads and crusty sourdough bread.
From Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, Co Dublin, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow, and Dunboyne, Co Meath, mitchellandson.com; Myles Doyle, Gorey, Co Wexford, myselectgrocer.com; Wilde & Green, Dublin 6, wildeandgreen.com

Lucien Lardy Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes 2016
12.5%, €22
Perfumed, refined strawberry fruits with freshly cut hay; good acidity and a nice succulence to the fruit. With seared salmon or tuna.
From Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com; Mortons of Galway, mortonsofgalway.ie; Daly’s, Boyle, Co Roscommon; Martin’s Off-Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Coach House, Dublin 16, thecoachhouseofflicence.ie; Red Island Wine, Skerries, Co Dublin; Thomas’s of Foxrock, Co Dublin, thomasoffoxrock.ie; Grapevine, Dalkey, Co Dublin, onthegrapevine.ie

Daniel Bouland Morgon Corcelette Vieilles Vignes 2016
13.5%, €26
Elegant and refined with a seductive fragrance; combines freshness and power with concentrated dark cherry fruits and soft, fine tannins. Some garlicky Toulouse sausages with green lentils.
From Cabot and Co, Westport, Co Mayo, cabotandco.com; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; No 1 Pery Square, Limerick, oneperysquare.com

Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon La Voûte St-Vincent 2017
12.5%, €27
An utterly charming wine, fragrant and fresh, with layers of elegant ripe red fruits, but with real depth and concentration too. Serve with roast or grilled chicken or chicken salads.
From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; La Touche, Greystones, Co Wicklow, latouchewines4u.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie

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2018: the year of drinking sensibly

In 2017, nature wrought havoc on the world of wine, with fires in California and devastating frosts and hail storms in Europe. France, Spain, Italy and Chile have all had smaller harvests and we could see a global shortage of wine.

In this country we will most likely see the implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which will have a significant effect on how alcohol is sold.

This column has always been in favour of drinking less, but drinking better.  With the introduction of minimum pricing, the days of really cheap wines may be over. This is a good thing. Can we rely on the multiples to improve their range, or will they simply offer the same wines at a higher price? And will consumers head north or south to France in search of cheaper booze?

My suggestion for 2018 is to shop local and trade up. Instead of buying three bottles for €4.99, treat yourself to one great wine for €15. You will certainly notice the difference while cutting your consumption at the same time.

I am more worried about the proposed back-labelling of wine. Unless done on a Europe-wide basis, it will cause serious problems for importers who work with small artisanal producers. We may see many really interesting wines disappear from our wine shops. As far as I can see, the legislation does not address the increase in outlets, on and off-trade that sell alcohol.

As to what we will be drinking in 2018, Cabernet Franc grown in the Loire Valley seems to fit current tastes perfectly: light in alcohol, with juicy ripe fruits and refreshing acidity. We should be drinking more. In the past, some wines were a little green and herbaceous, but thanks to better viticulture and winemaking, the wines are so much better. 2018 could be the breakthrough year. As Burgundy prices continue to rise, canny wine drinkers will start drinking the various Crus of Beaujolais.

Brilliant

Spain will continue to excite us with a steady stream of brilliant wines. As well as producing well-made inexpensive wines, Chile now offers some real excitement, including wines made from ancient ungrafted bush-trained vines in the south of the country. I can see natural, less interventionist winemaking improving still further and starting to influence conventional producers.

Prosecco is still wildly popular, but there are so many more interesting bottles of fizz available. Will 2018 be the year of cava? Sales are dominated by two large companies, but there are more than 200 producers in Catalunya, some producing great wine at reasonable prices. I do like good Champagne, but other regions of France, the Loire, Alsace, Limoux, Burgundy, produce very good crémant, sparkling wines made in exactly the same way, at much cheaper prices.

Tesco Cava Rosato NV, Spain, 11.5%, €12.65

Refreshing off-dry fizz with mouth-watering strawberry fruits. A handy alternative to prosecco. Drink as an aperitif, or with richer fish dishes.

Stockists: Tesco

St Nicolas de Bourgeuil 2015, Langlois-Château, 12%, €16.95

A mere 12% in alcohol, this is a delicious light juicy red wine, packed with ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruits. Drink with white meats, such as chicken and pork, or try it with grilled salmon.

Stockists: O’Briens

Reserva Ancesatral 2014, Miguel Torres, 14.5%, €18.50

Made from 80-year-old cinsault, País and Carignan vines, this is a powerful full-bodied earthy wine, brimming with spicy rich damson fruits. Perfect with a steak.

Stockists: Marks & Spencer

Morgon ‘Delys’ 2016, Vieilles Vignes, Daniel Bouland, 13%, €26.95

This might seem expensive, but it is an exceptional wine. Wonderful pure perfectly ripe black fruits ripple across the palate. Soothing and refreshing. Serve with roast chicken or pork.

Stockists: Grapevine, Dalkey; Cabot & Co, Westport cabotandco.com; 64 Wines, Glasthule; The Poppy Seed, Clarinbridge.

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My Top Ten Red Wines under €20 for 2016

This post came about as a result of a challenge set by a Twitter follower; to name my top five red wines for under €20. I have expanded it out here to ten wines. All have appeared in the Irish Times or on my blog before, and many in Wilson on Wine 2017, but I thought it might be good to see them all together. Doubtless they will change soon. In the meantime I have bought myself six bottles each of the Dâo, Geil Pinot, and Roka for drinking over the next few months.

 

 

DSCF7103Albizu Tempranilllo 2015, VdT de Castilla, Spain

 

I have a weakness for unoaked (or very lightly oaked) Rioja. I love the lively aroma, the pure cherry fruits and the refreshing acidity. Here they come together in an easy-drinking but sophisticated wine, great for sipping alone or for drinking with a variety or red and white meats. This example, made by a Rioja producer, from grapes grown within the region, doesn’t actually have the name Rioja on the label, but it certainly tastes like it. Worth buying in quantity for the season ahead.

 

€11.95-€12.95 from Mitchell & Son; Avoca Rathcoole; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Baggot St wines; Blackrock Cellar; Corkscrew; Fallon & Byrne; Listons; MacGuinness; Green Man; 64 Wines; World Wide Wines.

 

 

Sa de Baixo 2014Sa de Baixo 2014, Douro, Portugal       

 

This has been one of my go-to wines for a few years now, and I know I am not alone; many of our independent wine shops do a brisk trade with it. The label has changed recently, but the wine is just as good . Succulent ripe red fruits with a smooth tannin-free finish. Light harmonious and very quaffable. A good all-rounder to drink by itself or with white meats – creamy chicken with pasta sounds good.

 

€13.50 from Mortons, Ranelagh; McHughs; Blackrock Cellar; Gibneys, Malahide; Avoca Rathcoole; Wicklow Wine Co.; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Baggot St Wines; DrinkStore, D7; Martins, Fairview; Browns Vineyard, Portlaoise; Red Island, Skerries; Probus, Fenian St; Sweeneys, Glasnevin; 64 Wine, Glasthule.

 

 

DSCF6516Borsao Garnacha Seleccíon, Campo de Borja, 2015, Spain

 

The label is fairly dazzling, and so is the wine. The Campo de Borja region produces large quantities of big ripe warming red wines, usually made from Garnacha. This is a warm hug of a wine. 14.5% alcohol, it is big, rounded and ripe with soft spicy strawberry fruits and a very decent supple finish. Fantastic value for money. Perfect for barbecues and other red meats.

 

 

€13.95 from Bradleys, Cork; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Next Door, Arklow; Searsons.com & Searsons Monkstown; Drinkstore, D7.

 

 

DSCF7060Acón Joven 2014, Ribera del Duero, Spain

 

A world away from the big tannic oaky monsters that once made up most of Ribera del Duero. This unoaked ‘young’ wine has forward floral aromas and delicious pure damson fruits. It packs a fair punch too, coming in at 14.5%, but you would hardly know it. Great value for money and perfect with roast lamb and beef.

 

€14.50 Red Island Wines; 64 Wine; Wicklow Wine Co; Clontarf Wines; Listons, Camden St.

 

 

 

Domaine des NuguesDomaine des Nugues, Beaujolais Villages 2014, France    

 

Beaujolais is finally coming back into fashion as we seek wines that are lighter in style. I spent a few lovely days in the region earlier this year, tasting the various crus. I also visited this estate. This wine is one of the best, and certainly superior to many of the cheap Fleurie you will come across in the shops. Wonderful aromas and pure sweet red cherry and blackcurrant fruits with a touch of liquorice. Patés, cheese and all things porcine, including belly of pork, ham and boiled bacon, as well as roast chicken.

 

€16.75 from Martin’s, Fairview; 64 Wine, Glasthule.

 

 

 

Roka BlaufränkischRoka Blaufränkisch 2015, Stajerska, Slovenia

 

Made by Irish couple Sinéad & Liam Cabot from their own grapes, both this and their equally delicious white Šipon are really good wines, and quite amazing for a first real effort after a few limited releases. The Blaufränkisch is a true vin de soif, with fresh supple cherry and damson fruits, but that really does it a disservice; this is a wine with plenty of depth and concentration. Well worth seeking out.

 

€16.99 from Cabot & Co;, Westport; No.1 Pery Square, Limerick; Grapevine, Dalkey; The Poppyseed, Clarinbridge; McCambridges, Galway.

 

 

 

DSCF6122Dâo Rótulo 2015, Niepoort, Portugal

 

If your tastes run to rich full-bodied reds, stay away from this wine. It is a delicious refreshing light red with a savoury edge to the clean damson fruits. Moreish, and with a mere 12.5% alcohol, you don’t have to deny yourself.

 

€16.99 from Redmonds, Mortons, Martins,Jus de vine, Green Man, Donnybrook Fair, Clontarf Wines, Blackrock Cellar and Baggot Street Wines

 

 

 

DSCF7121Geil Pinot Noir 2015, Rheinhessen

 

Charming free-flowing light supple sweet cherry fruits with a nice kick of acidity. Try it with salmon, tuna or pork. I have tried this several times in wine bars recently, including La Touche and Grapevine in Dalkey. It seems to suit all tastes, and is light enough be drunk without food.

 

€16.95-17.95 from La Touche; Grapevine; Mortons; Sweeneys; Redmonds; Wicklow Wine Co; Mitchell & Son; Listons; Jus de Vine; Drinkstore; Corkscrew; Blackrock Cellar; 64Wine.

 

 

 

DSCF5905Ch. Pey-Bonhomme Les-Tours 2012, Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux, France

This was a really enjoyable wine, classic Bordeaux, with clean blackcurrant fruits, a seam of acidity running through, and a light dry tannic bite on the finish. I had mine with a roast shoulder of pork (Tamworth, from ethicalpork.com, excellent) and it was very good. I suspect it would be even better with lamb. Affordable well-made Bordeaux.

€19 from Green Man Wines, Terenure; 64Wine, Glasthule; Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer Street; Clontarf Wines; Mortons, Ranelagh.

 

 

 

 

 

Quite 2014 BierzoQuite 2014 Bierzo, Veronica Ortega

 

Medium-bodied and perfumed with fresh clean dark fruits; delicious, but if I was feeling flush I would go for Ortega’s Roc (at €30). I have been on a big Mencía kick for the last few years. I still love the Castro Valtuillé Joven, and the Brezo de Grégory Pérez, both widely available from independents, but I have really enjoyed this several times at home over the last eight months.

 

€19.50 from 64wine, Glasthule; World Wide Wines, Waterford; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Blackrock Cellars; Clontarf Wines; Drinkstore, D7;

 

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Morgon ‘Les Charmes’ 2014, Bret Brothers

<strong>Morgon ‘Les Charmes’ 2014, Bret Brothers</strong>

DSCF6709Morgon ‘Les Charmes’ 2014, Bret Brothers
€35 from Wines Direct, Mullingar & Arnott’s, Dublin.

Superb wine; fragrant, forward aromas of strawberries with an earthiness; light on the palate with intense

I would drink this with a plate of really good charcuterie. Salami and Beaujolais make a great match. But a pâté en croute sounds perfect.

I had a memorable visit to the Bret Brothers a few years back. They make a range of excellent age worthy white wines from their vineyards in the Mâconnais. This is new to me however; a red wine from the Beaujolais region. As with many of their wines, it is made from biodynamically grown grapes. Morgon is one of the top ‘crus’ of the Beaujolais, producing wines that can taste very like Pinot Noir when aged; and it is worth ageing the wines of Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent. This wine is expensive, but well worth it.

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Beaujolais – the Perfect Summer Wine

Beaujolais – the Perfect Summer Wine

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 5th June, 2016

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Domaine de la Madone, Fleurie

I love Beaujolais; the place and the wine. I have recently returned from a visit, which reminded me that this is one of the loveliest wine regions of all. In fact, if you are planning a cycling, walking or driving trip in France, I would give serious consideration to Beaujolais and the equally unspoilt Mâconnais region.

Beaujolais is misunderstood by some and dismissed by others. Older readers will have memories of drinking awful Beaujolais Nouveau many years ago; younger wine-lovers, weaned on rich Aussie Shiraz may be nonplussed by a lack of oomph.

Beaujolais is the perfect summer wine; light, refreshing and fruity, it is a true vin de soif. Cool it a little, then kick back and enjoy those vibrant pure fruits over an alfresco dinner or lunch. All Beaujolais, including the cru wines, tend to be low in alcohol (usually 12.5-13 per cent), so they make great (if pricey) party wines too.

There is far more to Beaujolais than simple summer drinking though. The region divides neatly into two sections. The southern half is home to much of the less expensive glugging Beaujolais, although there are a few really good growers here. In the northern half you will finds the top 10 villages, or “crus”, entitled to use their own name on the label. All are situated on more granitic soils.

These include the familiar names Fleurie, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. Each has its own distinctive style, ranging from light, delicate and fragrant to more powerful, richer wines. Don’t get too hung up about drinking the youngest wine either; some of the crus age very well. I am currently finishing off my last bottles of a wonderful fragrant 2008 Moulin-à-Vent, and tasted an exceptional 1990 (yes, 1990!) Beaujolais Villages on my visit to Domaine des Nugues.

However, in general with the crus, two to three years will see some improvement, and these are the vintages on our shelves. Lesser wines are best enjoyed in their glorious precocious youth.

There is certainly no shortage of cheap wine from the Beaujolais region, including some of the crus. These tend to be uninspiring. Better to go for a fresh fruit-filled Beaujolais instead of a Fleurie at the same price. Vintages do matter too: 2013 and 2014 were both very good, and 2015 was near perfect.

The wines go brilliantly with pates, cheese, a few salads and a crusty baguette. The top crus can go perfectly with all things porcine, including belly of pork, ham and boiled bacon, as well as roast chicken. On my arrival home, tired after a long journey, I cooked myself an omelette and drank a glass of delicious fruity Beaujolais – perfection!

DSCF6572Beaujolais Villages 2014 Domaine des Nugues
13%
€16.75

Wonderful aromas and pure sweet red cherry and blackcurrant fruits with a touch of liquorice.

Stockists: Martin’s, Fairview; 64wine, Glasthule.

DSCF6574Fleurie Tradition 2014, Domaine de la Madone
13%
€20

Lively perfumed nose with supple rounded red cherry and raspberry fruits.

Stockists: Mitchel & Son; Wilde & Green; Myles Doyle, Gorey.


ImageBeaujolais L’Ancien 2014 Domaines des Terres Dorées

12%
€18.50

From forty year-old vines, a delicious fragrant wine bursting with crunchy red cherry fruits.

Stockists: Wines Direct online, Mullingar & Arnotts, Dublin.

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SEVEN RED WINES TO BUY AT THE LIDL FRENCH WINE SALE

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Lidl recently held a tasting of their next French offer, that will start on 22nd February. This will be smaller in size than Christmas or September, but there were some good red wines, mainly Bordeaux.

Beaujolais Villages 2014 €9.99 – very, very light, but smells and tastes like Beaujolais. If you want something tasty to drink while watching TV, this might fit the bill.

Ch Clos Fontaine 2010, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux €12.99 – from a good vintage, this wine is now mature, with lovely ripe cassis and plums and decent length. Great value.

Ch. Quattre 2009 Cahors €12.99 – if, like me, you like firm, cool wines with chunky black fruits and a dry finish then buy this to sup with your breast of duck (also available from Lidl).

Ch. de Carles 2008, Fronsac €17.99 – light and soft with easy ripe plummy fruits. Fully mature and reasonable value for money.

Josephine de Boyd 2009, Margaux €24.99 –fragrant on the nose, with some new oak; a nice concentration of elegant smooth blackcurrant fruits with a dry finish. Very good. This is from Ch. Boyd Cantenac, a Grand Cru Classé.

Ch. Livran 2010, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc €14.99 – a wine I used to drink regularly many years ago. Four-square meaty, firm solid claret. Decant and drink with roast red meats or keep a year or two.

Les Fiefs de Lagrange 2011, Saint Julien €24.99 – my sheet said only available through Lidl Customer Service, but my local branch (Greystones) still has this, and other fine wines, left over from the Christmas sale. This is from another Grand Cru Classé, Ch. Lagrange. I really like its elegant smooth blackcurrant and mint fruit and effortless elegance.

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Two Summer Classics

Two lighter fresher wines for this lovely warm sunny weather. Both are well-known names that are under-valued.

 Fleurie Domaine de la Madone 2012 €18.49

I love good Beaujolais but these days the best wines all seem to cost more than €20. I was therefore delighted to come across this delicious Fleurie at such a great price.  It has wonderful fresh aromas and concentrated but light juicy strawberry fruits, with a lip-smacking lingering finish. This is a light wine (13% alcohol and no tannins) so you could drink without food, but I would recommend it with anything porky, especially charcuterie, or chicken. I rarely drink wine during the day, but this would fit into that wonderful category of ‘luncheon wine’.

Stockists: Mitchell & Son, Glasthule, IFSC, www.mitchellandson.ie Andreson’s Foodhall, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Ch. du Coing de St. Fiacre 2011 Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine €15.35

Yes Muscadet! Those of a certain age will remember how fashionable Muscadet was back in the 1980’s, when it was served at every event. Sadly the quality went downhill and we moved on to Chardonnay and then Sauvignon Blanc. Good Muscadet is one of the most delicious wines, light in alcohol, crisp and dry, with subtle green fruits. I love its purity of flavour and ability to improve with every sip. Drink it as the locals would, with a large bowl of mussels or a plate of fresh Irish oysters. This is the perfect example; light plump green fruits shot through with a zesty lemony acidity.

Stockists: Dicey Reilly Ballyshannon; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Le Caveau, Kilkenny;

World Wide Wine Waterford; Mac Guinness, Dundalk; Baggot Street Wines; Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Fallon and Byrne, Exchequer St.; Listons, Camden St.

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