Posts Tagged Vissoux

Time for a drink of ‘liquid summer’ : Beaujolais

Most wine lovers have a lightbulb moment, when they suddenly realise that wine is not simply a very pleasant sociable alcoholic beverage that goes brilliantly with food (although it certainly is all that), but the most complex and wonderful drink known to man. One of my several “wine moments” (I am a slow learner) was a glass of Beaujolais. It was one of the best names, a Moulin-à-Vent, and despite being served in one of those horrible Paris goblets, which are completely unsuitable for wine, it was fragrant and gorgeous, brimming with seductive bright fruits. As a pretentious student I was hooked and ever since that encounter, I return to my first love as often as I can.

 Beaujolais has been through a rough period but with the increasing demand for light, lower alcohol wines, it is enjoying a welcome revival. This is one of the most appetising and reviving wines of all. As soon as spring arrives, I regularly spoil myself with a glass of Beaujolais or Beaujolais Villages from a good producer. Frivolous and full of juicy bouncy fruit, it is liquid summer. Serve cool with salady things, pork, or simply on its own.

Established hierarchy

As with many French regions, there is an established hierarchy. Beaujolais Villages is superior to basic Beaujolais, but at the very top of the tree are 10 “crus” or villages, each entitled to use its own name. All are in the north of the region, and taste tantalisingly different depending on the soil, usually varying forms of granite. The most serious of these wines are worthy of genuine respect. I have stashed away a number of wines from the most structured of the crus including Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent and Fleurie; after a few years, they reveal a new and wonderful depth. I tasted eight vintages of Jadot Ch des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon going back to 1996 at a trade tasting late last year. All were in very good condition. I also drank a perfectly-formed 2008 Moulin-à-Vent from Domaine du Vissoux more recently. Now that so many of the well-known fine wines are moving steadily out of our price-range, these are well-worth bearing in mind. The best certainly qualify as fine wines.

More immediately, a glass of youthful Côte de Brouilly, Chénas or any other of the crus will both slake the thirst and revive the vital functions. Most of the mass-produced versions are not great, although even here I note an improvement in quality. But Beaujolais is full of fantastic small producers; a bottle from Domaine du Vissoux (Terroirs), Jean-Paul Brun (Wines Direct), La Madone (Mitchell & Son) or Foillard (Independents) is one of life’s most welcome treats.

Fleurie Tradition 2015, Côte de Brouilly 2015, Moulin-à-Vent 2013 and Fleurie 2014 Terre de Granit Rose 2014
Fleurie Tradition 2015, Côte de Brouilly 2015, Moulin-à-Vent 2013 and Fleurie 2014 Terre de Granit Rose 2014


Fleurie Tradition 2015, Domaine de la Madone
13%, €17
A delightfully fresh and fruity wine from one of the top estates in Fleurie.
Stockists: Mitchell & Son, IFSC, Sandycove, Avoca, Kilmacanogue.

Côte de Brouilly 2015, Jean-Paul Brun
12.5%, €21.85
An exquisite wine, with refined cherry fruits, hints of strawberry and a refreshing moreish character.
Stockists: Wines Direct

 Moulin-à-Vent 2013, Ch des Jacques, Louis Jadot
13%, €24.99
Solid medium-bodied blackberries with a good tannic structure. Drink or keep a decade or more.
Stockists: Ballyvaughan Stores; Jus de Vine; Mitchell & Son; Redmonds; Sweeney’s.

Bargain bin: Fleurie 2014 Terre de Granit Rose 2014, Thorin
13%, €14.99
Pleasantly plump dark fruits with a smooth rounded finish.
Stockists: Selected Spar, Eurospar, Mace, Londis

Posted in: Irish Times

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My week in wine (and other drinks)

I drank some very good wines this week. The highlight was the Brunello di Montalcino Reserva 2000 from Col d’Orcia, but a seven year old Beaujolais provided the nicest surprise. I went to the Tesco press tasting, which I found disappointing, as I had with Aldi the week before; lots of clean, correctly made wines, lots of big names like Chablis and Châteauneuf but very little to get excited about. A few euros more really does buy you a lot.

The Black Boar Imperial Oatmeal Stout
This is made by the White Hag Irish Brewing Company, who are based in Sligo, and appeared in my Irish Times online article Take it Home. The company is uncompromising in its attitude ‘We don’t do an accessible red ale, stout and lager like most of the others. Our beers are big and bold, American style made using Irish ingredients where possible. We have a heather ale made without any hops. Our water comes from a bog and is very soft, ideal for stout. It doesn’t have to be treated, filtered or pasteurised.’ So said Joe Kearns, the brewer.

The Imperial stout was textured and packed full of flavour. I sipped a glass slowly one evening. Big (10.2% but never burns), bold and full of roasted barley and dark chocolate, with a lovely smooth texture, this demands careful contemplation on cold winter nights.

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Joe Kearns, brewer at The White Hag

Moulin-a-Vent Les Trois Roches 2008
Pierre-Marie Chermette, Domaine du Vissoux

That’s right, 2008. I had read reviews waxing lyrical about aged bottles of the above wine. As they are one of my favourite producers, I laid down three bottles five years ago. This was the first I have tried. Moulin-a-Vent has a reputation for ageing but I have only every tried old bottles on a few occasions. It was delicious, light and elegant, very Pinot in style, with wonderful aromas and delicate sweet fruits. The current vintage is available from for €29.50.

Domaine de Sainte Marthe Syrah 2014 IGP Pays d’Oc

This is a wine I have followed for many years, and was once responsible for importing it into Ireland. It is made by the Bonfils family who own twenty estates in the Languedoc and another three in Bordeaux. Generally they make good quality modern wines. The Syrah is a very attractive smooth medium-bodied wine and excellent value at €10.50 from Dunnes Stores. One to cheer you up on a wet Wednesday.

Copain “Tous Ensemble” Pinot Noir 2013
Anderson Valley, California

My sister Frances, who works as a chef in San Francisco, always brings me back an interesting bottle or two on trips home. This wine is from the cool Anderson valley north of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. I travelled up there with Frances a decade or so ago, and loved the wild countryside and the laid-back winemakers. I remember a great visit to Navarro winery who mades some lovely wines and a very good verjus. We also visited Louis Roederer who have their highly successful American sparking wine operation here. Sadly very little gets over here to Europe.

This Pinot was light, juicy and very moreish with lovely succulent vibrant sweet cherry fruits. 12.5%. It is priced at $28 on their website. If only we could get more like this in Ireland.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2000, Col d’Orcia

I was fortunate to drink this at a corporate dinner with a leading firm of solicitors – I was doing the talking. It was an enjoyable evening with some great wines and some very knowledgeable solicitors.

I have never really ‘got’ Brunello, or at least the prices they charge. A few years ago, I spent a day tasting with Erin O’Keefe, Boston-Irish author of a great book on the subject, simply titled ‘Brunello di Montalcino’ published by University of California Press I felt I had advanced my knowledge if not my appreciation. We tasted the modern pumped up oaky sweet versions, which could have come from anywhere, and some deeply tannic, acidic young wines that really needed time. O’Keefe said they would eventually become almost Pinot-like with a cool savoury fragrance and elegant fruit. How right she was!

These magnums of Brunello were superb; the Riesrva is made from a single vineyard, Poggio al Vento, which in good years is released as a single vineyard wine. Pale in colour with quite delicate leafy mushroom aromas with some red fruits; the wine was fully mature with piquant red fruits underpinned by good acidity and light tannins on the finish. Very good with beef.


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