Posts Tagged Bordeaux




Côtes de Bourg

I have been enjoying the wines of Ch. Falfas for a few years now, and was delighted to receive an email from Terroirs in Donnybrook, mentioning that proprietor and winemaker Véronique Cochran would be showing her wines in their shop.

Véronique is originally from Saumur in the Loire, where her father Francois Bouchet, was the very first biodynamic grower. Given her upbringing it is not surprising all of her wines are biodynamic as well. ‘I could never do it another way’, she says. Their 20-hectare holding is split into two holdings, the largest part surrounding the very attractive Château. She is based in the Côtes de Bourg on the right bank of Bordeaux, and an area that can offer excellent value for money. They have around 55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon co-planted with 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec, all traditional in the area.

I tasted each of her three separate cuvées. The wines were of a very high quality, and well-priced too. Véronique was both charming and knowledgeable. A great way to get the weekend started.

Les Demoiselles de Falfas 2015 €23.50

Made with very little maceration, this is a delicious forward, extrovert wine with bright fresh ripe dark fruits and a good easy finish. Lovely wine and very good value. Vêronique suggests trying it with lighter foods, including tomato-based dishes. This is named in honour of her two daughters.


Ch. Falfas 2012 €29.50

Light elegant nose, refined blackcurrant and plum fruits, good acidity and a lightly tannic finish. Classic Bordeaux just starting to drink very well.


Ch. Falfas 2010 €39

Excellent maturing nose and palate with leafiness, developing sweet red and black fruits, good concentration and finish. Nice wine.


Ch. Falfas 1995 No longer available.

Made by her late husband in a more extracted style, this had a lighter nose, showing real development, a minty, herbal character, and light red fruits. Drinking nicely now, but unlikely to improve further.


Le Chevalier de Ch. Falfas 2011 €59

Made from 750-780 year old vines. Super wine, with everything you look for in a young Bordeaux. Concentrated blackcurrant fruits, a lovely backbone of acidity, structured and firm with excellent length. You could drink this now, preferably decanted, but I would love to try it again in another five years.


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Ch. Pey du Pont 2012, Médoc Cru Bourgeois

<strong>Ch. Pey du Pont 2012, Médoc Cru Bourgeois</strong>

DSCF6922Ch. Pey du Pont 2012, Médoc Cru Bourgeois

Classic Médoc with slightly austere blackcurrant fruits, a bit of structure and some drying tannins on the finish. Well made wine. If that sounds a bit negative, it shouldn’t – this is good value and an enjoyable wine.

I wouldn’t try this without food, and it would go best with roast red meats – lamb or beef.

Lidl have a very decent range of inexpensive Bordeaux in their French wine sale. I have covered a bigger selection of their wines in earlier blogs.

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Lidl French Wine Sale Part Two – Red Wine Preview

<strong>Lidl French Wine Sale Part Two – Red Wine Preview</strong>


As mentioned in my earlier post, Lidl will hold their French Wine Sale from 12th September onwards. I tasted my way through all of the wines. Here is a brief preview of my favourite red wines. There may well be more to add when I receive further samples shortly. There were fewer fine wines this year I think, but plenty of nicely priced wines to tempt us all. Their selection of inexpensive Bordeaux is very strong this year.

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Fleurie 2015 Mignot Père & Fils €9-11
If you are a fan of Beaujolais (and I am) you will certainly enjoy this wine. 2015 was a great vintage in Beaujolais and it shows. Very nice crunchy ripe cherry fruits and a smooth easy finish. Amazing value, particularly if it sells for less than €10.

Image 15Philippe de Bois d’Arnault Ladoix Les Gonia 2014 (€15.99-17.99)
Decent chunky dark cherry fruits with nice refreshing acidity. Good value for money.

Image 6Ch. de Rousselet 2011, Côtes de Bourg (€9-11)
Very attractive light leafy mature Bordeaux with soft blackberry fruits. This is very keenly priced, and will certainly go down well with claret lovers.

Ch. Lalande Mausse 2013, Fronsac, Bordeaux (€9-11)

Clean fresh blackcurrant fruits, with good acidity and nice weight and quality of fruit. Nice wine.
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Ch. Roylland 2012 St. Émilion Grand Cru (€19-20)
Very ripe, soft lush dark fruits; slightly animal and some new oak. Very easy commercial wine that will please the crowds, but not really my style.

Virginie de Valandraud 2014 St. Émilion Grand Cru (€33-35)

Another lush soft sexy wine with ripe cassis and some spicy new oak. As with the previous wine, it will certainly appeal to those who like rounded oaky wines.

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Ch. de la Dauphine 2011, Fronsac (€22-25)
Very good chunky ripe Bordeaux with plums, blackcurrant and cassis, a nice tannic grip, finishing well. Classic right-bank Bordeaux at a good price.
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Ch. Lagrange 2012, Saint Julien Grand Cru Classé €40
As posted earlier this is a nice wine with classic St. Julien flavours of blackcurrant, cedar wood and good fine grained tannins. Very good wine, but I would like a little more length and concentration for my €40. Still very enjoyable drinking though.

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Ch. Guillebot Plaisance 2013, Bordeaux

<strong>Ch. Guillebot Plaisance 2013, Bordeaux</strong>

Image 2Ch. Guillebot Plaisance 2013, Bordeaux
€13.95 from Liston’s, Camden Street, Grapevine, Dalkey, and Cabot & Co. Westport.

When making notes at wine tastings I have a personal shorthand. W.M.D.W.W. means well made dry white wine, O/O.O/A.O/E. is for over-oaked, too much alcohol and over extracted. O.D.C. signifies ordinary decent claret (as opposed to ordinary decent criminal), for a particular kind of red wine from Bordeaux. These are light to medium bodied wines, with just ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, with a refreshing acidity and a dryish finish. I love them; they are great all-purpose wines to go with red and white meats, including stews and cheese dishes. The ordinary bit means they have to sell for less than €15. The Guillebot Plaisance fits all the above criteria, and is even light enough to sip solo.

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Sauvignon, but not as we know it.

Sauvignon, but not as we know it.

From the Irish Times, Saturday 23rd April, 2016

It has an unmistakable pungent aroma, making it one of the easiest grapes to recognise in blind tastings. We adore it in this country, but we are merely part of a worldwide love-in of Sauvignon Blanc. Whether it comes from Marlborough in New Zealand or Chile, we just cannot get enough of it. Plantings are spreading around the world to include many warm areas unsuited to this cool climate variety.

I suspect most wine drinkers like it as much for what it isn’t as for what it is; it isn’t too high in alcohol and it isn’t aged in new oak barrels. It is usually light, fresh and full of fruit. What is not to like? Nothing obviously.

However, drinking one wine all the time can get very dull. I have pointed out a few alternatives here before. My favourite would be Riesling, but every country offers their own version of crisp ’n’ dry.

But how do you make Sauvignon more interesting? One option is to plant it in a special place as they do, on chalky Kimmeridgian and Portlandian soils, in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé; the wines tend towards racy, flinty and mineral. A second possibility is to use a few tricks in the winery, such as wild yeasts, lees stirring and oak barrels, to add layers of complexity. If done well, as Greywacke and others have done in Marlborough, the wines are well worth trying.

There is plenty of Sauvignon in Bordeaux (where it is used for both dry and sweet wines such as Sauternes), Bergerac and other parts of southwest France. Here the tradition is to blend in some Sémillon and sometimes a dash of Muscadelle. The latter gives a lovely floral aroma and the Sémillon a plumpness that develops into a delicious toastiness with age.

All of the top white wines of Bordeaux, and there are some truly great wines, are made this way, with plenty of new oak barrels being used as well.

It is one of the only times where I enjoy Sauvignon in combination with new oak. Inexpensive Bordeaux Blanc, Bergerac Sec and other Sauv/Sem blends can offer fantastic value, and far more interest than many pure Sauvignon Blancs.

Western Australia also uses the same blend to great effect. A final alternative is to make it fizzy; there are now a number of sparkling Sauvignon Blancs available. I am not yet convinced.

I give one example of each style of Sauvignon; a lovely Bordeaux blend with 30% Sémillon, then a crisp mineral terroir-driven Sauvignon from Saint Bris (actually part of Burgundy) and a barrel-fermented, wild yeast wine from one of the new stars of South Africa, David Niewoudlt.

Image 3Ch Reynier Blanc 2013, Bordeaux

Nicely aromatic with lovely plump peach fruits.

Stockists: Baggot St. Wines; Corkscrew; Honest2Goodness.

goisot copyExogyra Virgula, Sauvignon de St. Bris 2013, Domaine Goisot

Stunning, energetic wine with a crisp minerality and cool refreshing green fruits.

Stockists: McCabes; Sheridan’s; Donnybrook Fair, Donnybrook; Jus de Vine; 64wine.

Image 2Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Elim, South Africa

Delicious mouthwatering peach fruits, with a creamy texture.

Stockists: Blackrock Cellar; Donnybrook Fair, Malahide; On the Grapevine, Dalkey

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A few snapshots from the Le Caveau tasting.

A Few Snapshots from the Le Caveau tasting.

Wine importer Le Caveau held a great tasting during the week. There were many, many highlights, including wines from Morocco, Georgia and England. Below a very brief look at three producers. More to follow.

Wiston Estate & Sugrue Pierre, West Sussex

Dermot Sugrue makes some of the best sparkling wines in England; the Wiston Blanc de Blancs (€53) is a delight, complex with brioche, racy acidity and delicious plump fruit. The vintage Rosé 2011(€62) has matured very nicely showing lovely ripe raspberry fruits. Dermot’s own wine, the Pierre Sugrue ‘The Trouble with Dreams’ is a wonderful creamy complex wine, which made the Champagne next door seem a little ordinary, no mean feat as this was Philipponnat Royale Réserve Brut.

Ch. Turcaud, Bordeaux

Stéphane Le May makes that wonderful thing; inexpensive Bordeaux. I love his red wine (€14.95), a classic light juicy dry Bordeaux, but it was one of his white wines, the Cuvée Majeure that stood out; the 2014, a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris, the remainder Sémillon fermented in new oak is a superb balanced rich textured dry white. A bargain at around €19.

Tour des Gendres, Bergerac

Guillaume de Conti, cousin of winemaker Luc de Conti was there to present these marvelous wines, amongst my all-time favourites. Both red and white offer great value. The Bergerac Rouge Classic 2014 (€15.15) was light fresh and fruity; the Cuvée des Contis Blanc fresh and textured, and the superb elegant Bordeaux lookalike, Gloire de Mon Père 2012, astounding value at around €22.


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Ch. Janoy Bellevue 2014, Bordeaux

<strong>Ch. Janoy Bellevue 2014, Bordeaux</strong>

Image 2Ch. Janoy Bellevue 2014, Bordeaux
€14.95 from Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlintstown

Very attractive modern Bordeaux with generous plum fruits and light soft tannins. With roast meats (red and white) or firm cheeses. Very good value.

I started out in the wine trade at a time when everyone drank red Bordeaux and have always retained a fondness for what I call ODC – ordinary decent claret; unpretentious, medium-bodied wine with plum and blackcurrant fruits and some drying tannins. They make for perfect everyday dinner wines. This is one such example.

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Easter Weekend – the wines

It was my birthday on Easter Sunday, so I felt justified in opening up a few nice elderly bottles from my stash.


El Grano Chardonnay 2013, Chile
€15.90 from 64wine, Glasthule; Baggot Street Wines; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Blackrock Cellar; Le Caveau, Kilkenny.

An organic wine made by a Frenchman who set up in the Curico Valley in Chile. Gerard Maguire in 64wine, Glasthule first put me on to this wine. It is a delicious plump Chardonnay, with great purity of fruit and a lovely freshness.

Miro Traminec 2013, Jeruzalem, Slovenia

€20.99 from Cabot & Co., Westport or On the Grapevine, Dalkey.

Miro came over for the Knockranny Wine weekend, and put on a fascinating tasting of his wines. Included was a Traminec, or Gewürztraminer. I am guilty of ignoring this grape, mainly because I grew tired of the overblown aromas, flabby fruit and residual sugar that you so often find. Miro’s version however was lovely; lightly aromatic, spicy nose; soft textured lychees on the palate and good length. A charming wine to sup by itself or I suspect it would go nicely with Chinese or Thai food.


Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut Nature Champagne
Around €60.

We didn’t open up the bottle of Bollinger in the picture above for various reasons. The Brut Nature, has no residual sugar, unlike most Champagnes that have 9-12 g/l. It showed in the bone-dry, austere finish. I loved it, but others were a little less sure. It didn’t stop us polishing off the bottle before dinner though. Light crisp apple and brioche with an elegant bone dry long finish. Nice wine.

Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2002, Trimbach, Alsace
The current vintage costs €50 – 60 a bottle.

One of my favourite white wines, and this bottle, the last of a case I bought, was superb. Elegant and restrained, with perfectly mature fruit. Toasty, nutty and honeyed, with plenty of acidity, I could have sipped it all evening. Despite the price (around €50) I still believe this is one of the best value white wines. It is made from several Grand Cru vineyards, and is less expensive and more consistent than most grand cru white Burgundy.


Villa de Corullón 2001, Bierzo
Around €65 a bottle.

This had been stashed away for the best part of a decade. As I had just finished a tasting of Bierzo, I thought it might be nice to try a mature version. It certainly didn’t taste ten years old with sour cherries, plums and a strong mineral streak. Good length. The leftovers were nice the following day too. Nice without every bowling me over.

Ch. Canon 1990, St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé


I bought this around fifteen years ago; elegant and maturing with an attractive leafiness and some restrained plum fruits. It still had some tannins on the finish. Opened out nicely and went very well with my roast pork. Very good rather than excellent.

Ch. Coutet 1989, Barsac

Rich marmalade and honey fruits, with a tangy long sweet finish. Very tasty, lacking the complexity to be really great, but a very nice wine.

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Bordeaux superieur: fruitful trips to wine-producing chateaux The new Cité du Vin gives another good reason to visit the French city

IMG_3635First Published in the Irish Times Saturday 6th March, 2016

A deputation of Bordelais officials travelled to Dublin recently to present the Irish press corps with some compelling reasons to visit their city. I am not sure we need convincing. It seems Bordeaux is going to be a very busy place this summer. As every football fan will be aware, Ireland face Belgium here at Euro 2016 on June 18th.

The Stade de Bordeaux has a capacity of 42,000, so tickets will not be easy to come across. The massive Parc des Quinconces will be turned into a fan zone. If the match isn’t going well, you could always meander down to the nearby river, a Unesco Heritage site, and enjoy the wonderful scenery.

The soccer doesn’t end there. On June 21st, Croatia take on Spain and one of the quarter finals will take place here on July 2nd.

In addition to football there are plenty of wine-related activities. From June 23rd-26th, the city will host the annual Fête le Vin, a lively festival that takes place in tents and pavilions along the waterfront.

I really enjoyed the event a few years ago, a great mix of tastings, food and culture. At around the same time, the brand new Cité du Vin will open its doors. This impressive wine cultural centre and museum covers wine from around the world, and promises something for all the family, including children.

It would be shame to visit Bordeaux without paying a visit to a few of the wine producers. At one time, the châteaux of Bordeaux were reluctant to open their doors to the public, but happily this has all changed in recent years.From the offices of the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) in the city centre, a string of buses leave every morning to visit various regions of Bordeaux and their châteaux. There will also be a jetty beside the Cité du Vin, where you can take boat trips to the vineyards.Given the city is going to be very busy, I strongly suggest you look at or the more general and make arrangements before travelling.

However, you don’t really need an excuse to go to Bordeaux; the city was rejuvenated under former mayor Alain Juppé and is a wonderful place to visit (although if you are travelling by car the traffic is never great). Many of the fine old buildings along the waterfront have been renovated, the old town is buzzing with activity, and has plenty of food and wine shops, restaurants and other ways to spend your money.If you tire of the city, and of wineries, take a relaxing a trip to the amazing beaches of Arcachon or the nearby oyster beds.


And so to the wines; Bordeaux continues to produce some of the world’s finest. The Grands Crus Classés may be beyond the reach of many, but this is one of the largest wine regions in France, so there will always be plenty of less expensive wines. Don’t worry if you don’t make it to Bordeaux; most retailers here have a decent selection.O’Briens starts its Bordeaux sale on March 1st; I can recommend the seductive, supple Château Sainte Marie (€14.35), and the excellent Château Marsau Arpège 2010 for €15.95, a very keen price.I also really enjoyed the Château Pey-Bonhomme Les Tours 2012 (€20) from 64wine recently. Lidl should still have some wines left from its French wine sale, including the Fiefs de Lagrange below.I would also recommend the elegant plummy Château de Francs 2011 and the ripe juicy Château Clos Fontaine 2010, both good value at €12.99. Greenacres in Wexford has one of the finest selections of Bordeaux in the country, with prices to fit every budget. Mitchell & Son welcomes back Château de Lamarque to its portfolio after a gap of a few years; it also has a mouth-watering selection of good Bordeaux.

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Something for the weekend – a nice claret

Something for the weekend – a nice claret

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

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, excellent) and it was very good. I suspect it would be even better with lamb.

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

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