WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

30 April 2012

Languedoc: Château Rouquette sur Mer, La Clape


Château Rouquette sur mer (it is that close to the sea) is owned and run by Jacques Boscary, his wife Dominique and sons François and Arnaud; and has now fairly effortlessly earned a place among my favourite wine estates in/on the happening Languedoc subzone of La Clape (click on the red highlighted link at the bottom of this post for more info/views and recommended wines/wineries, or cruise the 'A to Z' on the right). The Boscary's breathtakingly untamed wine-lands come to about 50 hectares (120 acres) of vines (plus a lot more of trees, bushes, shrubs, wild flowers etc.) lying in a rather lovely spot near Narbonne-Plage. They also have five holiday gites on the property apparently - see website for more details: chateaurouquette.com. I tasted and enjoyed two vintages of one of their top reds in the Languedoc recently, during their annual "Millésimes" week of tastings and other winey/foodie/touristy activities - more reports and "profiles" from that to follow...


2007 Le Clos de la Tour (old vine Mourvèdre and Syrah, 14% alc.) - delicious ripe smoky 'garrigue' liquorice and black plums, 'sweet' perfumed and peppery; complex wild flavours, lush and concentrated with dry vs ripe tannins, powerful and long yet drinking nicely now. Good stuff indeed.

2010 Le Clos de la Tour - showing quite a bit of oak (not surprisingly given its youthful age and 18 months new barrel ageing), but has plenty of that characteristic perfumed 'sweet' dark fruit; structured vs rich mouth-feel with tasty ripe liquorice flavours vs peppery and black olive notes even, nice coating of rounded tannins on the finish. Lovely wine, very promising.


Austria: Weingut Sepp Moser

The Moser family
Weingut Moser is an old and well-known family estate (partly due to famous ancestor Lenz Moser who pioneered new viticulture techniques in the 1950s) originally acquired in the mid 19th Century, although the Mosers have been connected with vineyards and wine for much longer than that; and it saw a rebirth and name tweak (to Sepp) with a little restructuring in the 1980s. Today it's run by son Nikolaus, who introduced biodynamic wine-growing methods in 2006 (certain vineyards are now Demeter certified) among other 'back-to-basics' ideas. They own vines in Kremstal (70 km/45 miles west of Vienna where the cellar and home is), Neusiedlersee, Lower Austria and Burgenland. At the family base in Rohrendorf near Krems, specific vineyards include the highly-rated Gebling (two wines sampled and tasting-noted below), an 8.5 ha (21 acre) plot featuring steep south-facing terraces. Apart from signature varieties "Grooner" and Riesling, they also have some Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot blanc, Muscat, a few red varieties and make a rosé too (as you do nowadays). I talked to Nikolaus and tasted these at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier:


2011 Grüner Veltliner von den Terrassen - steely green-fruited and crisp start, turning juicy gummy and spicy then oilier too, lively fresh finish although not too acidic. Good. €8.50 cellar door.
2010 Grüner Veltliner Gebling - creamier fuller style with tantalising white pepper edges, vibrant and concentrated with yeast-lees tones then long steely finish. Very good. €12 cellar door.
2010 Riesling Gebling - aromatic 'chalky' nose with hints of celery, concentrated crisp and lively with lime fruit flavours, developing oily touches on the finish. Delicious wine. €16 cellar door.
2009 Grüner Veltliner 'Minimal' - very buttery with toasty hazelnut and fino notes, rich and tasty vs dry 'mineral' palate, superb finish and style. Different too. €25 cellar door.
2009 Riesling Beerenauslese - oily nose with orange peel nuances, lush sweet mouth-feel vs lovely bite and length vs lots of lingering dried fruit flavours. Classy sweetie. €24 cellar door.

These wines have pretty good distribution across Europe (including the UK and Ireland), North America, Japan, China, Australia & NZ and Israel: see www.sepp-moser.at.

LOTS MORE AUSTRIA HERE (Pfaffl, Grüner Veltliner Galore, "I'll be back..." and other archive features).

23 April 2012

Corsica: Domaine de Granajolo, Porto-Vecchio

Looking at this post scribbled back in 2007, when I first/last tasted Granajolo's wines, I was obviously a little disappointed, in them and Corsica as a whole. I had the chance to catch up with owner / winegrower Gwenaele Boucher a couple of months ago at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier - meaning their vineyards are, since 1987 officially although ma and pa Monika and André worked their 20 hectares in this way from the start apparently - and tried the latest vintages from her range. And the verdict this time? Quite the opposite: I was very keen on four out of five; I didn't go for their supposedly top red "Le J", which was over-oaked and lacking in charm unlike the other wines.
Originally, like many simple grape growers at that time, Gwenaele's parents were members of a co-op, followed by an interim stint where someone else made the wines; and it wasn't until after she took over the estate that they built their own cellar, in operation since 2003. Their vineyards are found on the stark granite hillsides lying around Sainte-Lucie de Porto-Vecchio in the southeastern corner of the island (if it really has a southeast corner: look on a map and you'll see what I mean...). Anyway, it's certainly a very beautiful corner of a must-visit island if you haven't been before. These wine-lands are mostly planted with local varieties Niellucciu (related to Sangiovese), Sciaccarellu and Vermentinu (aka Vermentino, Rolle [probably] or Malvoisie de Corse, which is supposedly related to Malvasia but not to what the French otherwise call Malvoisie; clicking on the latter variety name on Wikipedia actually redirects you to Pinot Gris! I think I'll stop there as it's getting very confusing...)
www.granajolo.fr


All from the Corse-Porto-Vecchio appellation:
2011 tradition white (Vermentino) - juicy banana-scented fruit, concentrated vs crisp palate with aromatic fruit and rounded texture; very nice dry white.
2011 tradition rosé (Sciaccarellu) - lovely juicy fruit and mouth-feel with elegant touches, tasty quaffing rosé yet serious enough to go with a variety of foods. Good stuff.
2009 tradition red (Niellucciu) - quite browny-red in colour and mature showing delicious liquorice vs savoury notes, very ripe with 'tar' like tones too vs wild herb edges; enticing 'sweet/savoury' combo to finish, lovely style and drinking well now. Very good.
2009 Monika red (Niellucciu + Syrah) - again has its attractive ripe and aromatic 'garrigue' side with smoky notes, soft tasty palate with dry grip vs rounded texture; nice stylish Med red.
2009 Le J red (Niellucciu + Syrah) - a little vanilla and sweet coconut heavy and the tannins are quite wood-grainy.


More organic Corsican wines and people to follow...

20 April 2012

Roussillon: Domaine Lavista / Pouderoux update

Photo from domainepouderoux.fr
Click here to find a profile on Domaine Pouderoux and plenty of reds, whites and Maury VDNs to make your mouth water, all tasted on two previous trips to cellar and vineyards (2006 and 2009). The latest news is that Catherine and Robert Pouderoux have caught the organic bug, as I discovered catching up with them at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier recently. Domaine Lavista consists of a few hectares of organically farmed vineyards officially 'certifed' from 2011, hence just three wines from this vintage so far tasting-noted below. More info to follow on this, which looks like an exciting "project"...

2011 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Mourvèdre & Syrah) – tasty juicy dark-fruited and spicy red with black cherry/berry aromas/flavours, a hint of attractive dry grip vs lush fruity finish. Already promising (not released yet).
2011 Collection white IGP Côtes Catalanes (Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Macabeu, Malvoisie, Clairette, Carignan blanc) – enticingly crisp and juicy style with lively zingy finish, has a bit of character and weight too. Good.
2011 Muscat sec – clean and crisp grapey Muscat style, zesty dry and nice & easy too.

14 April 2012

One-day "wine workshops" in Belfast


The Wine Education Service and yours truly will be running these two Saturday "workshops" in May and June at the Ramada Encore Hotel in Belfast City Centre:

From Grape to Glass
Sat May 19th 2012 from 9:30 to 17:30
Introductory one-day wine course tasting about 15 wines from around the world with your tutor RMJ; detailed course notes and lunch included.

The Wines of France
Sat June 16th 2012 from 9:30 to 17:30

One-day wine tasting workshop sampling about 15 classic wines from France with your tutor RMJ; detailed course notes and lunch included.

These fun tasting days-out each cost £75 including lunch (with a glass or two of wine naturally). More info and booking @ Wine Education Service.


One-day "wine workshops" in Belfast

The Wine Education Service and yours truly will be running these two Saturday "workshops" in May and June at the Ramada Encore Hotel in Belfast City Centre:

From Grape to Glass
Sat May 19th 2012 from 9:30 to 17:30
Introductory one-day wine course tasting about 15 wines from around the world with your tutor RMJ; detailed course notes and lunch included.

The Wines of France
Sat June 16th 2012 from 9:30 to 17:30
One-day wine tasting workshop sampling about 15 classic wines from France with your tutor RMJ; detailed course notes and lunch included.

These fun tasting days-out each cost £75 including lunch (with a glass or two of wine naturally). More info and booking @ Wine Education Service.

12 April 2012

Spain: Terras Gauda - Galicia and Castilla León

A batch of worthwhile-mentioning bottles, and the story behind them naturally, came my way recently from this, what appears to be go-getting Spanish wine group. It features three wineries stationed across northern Spain: Bodegas Terras Gauda from Rías Baixas in Galicia (the far northwestern corner bordering northern Portugal), Bodegas Pittacum in the Bierzo region (next door to the latter heading eastwards, the most north-westerly part of Castilla y León province) and Quinta Sardonia in better-known Ribera del Duero (still in Castilla y León, heading east and a little south towards the centre of Spain). Here's a hopefully enlightening smidgen of blurb on each place plus my notes/reviews of half-a-dozen of their generally tasty wines, even if occasionally a little overambitious on the oak front for the reds: more info @ terrasgauda.com.

Bodegas Terras Gauda

Established at the end of the groovy 80s, this fairly sizeable winery, in the heart of Spanish white wine country, is encompassed by 160 hectares (an expansive 400 acres) of rolling green vineyards lying in the Val do Rosal "close to the mouth of the River Miño." The guys here have apparently been doing some serious research on clones of this region's star grape variety, Albariño (also found just over the border in Portugal as Alvarinho), and indigenous yeasts (yawn, yes, but it's useful if you're trying to make good quality wine). As well as flaunting a claim to fame for resurrecting an almost lost local white variety called Caíño, which I'm informed is present in two of the wines featured below although isn't mentioned on the labels. US retail price is approx $24; they're also targeting the UK, so I'll update this with details of where and how much when I know more.

2010 La Mar Rías Baixas (Albariño & Loureiro, 12.5% alc) - much deeper golden/white colour compared to the 2011s with exotic apricot and honeysuckle aromas/flavours, rounded and quite fat/oily texture vs lightly ‘chalky’ and citrus tones to finish; shades of a 'Viognier/Riesling' mix! Drinking nicely now.
2011 Abadia de San Campo Rías Baixas (Albariño, 12.5%) - lovely ‘Sauvignon blanc/Riesling’ style-cross showing attractive citrus gooseberry and blackcurrant leaf / celery notes, intense gummy yeast-lees edges then nice crisp vs oily finish. Good.
2011 O Rosal Rías Baixas (Albariño, 12.5%) - similar zesty citrus and aromatic ‘gummy’ profile vs more exotic peachy tones, more intense and concentrated too with nice oily vs crisp mouth-feel; enticing ripe apricot-tinged fruit vs zesty bite, plenty of lingering flavours and good ‘chalky/mineral length. Hints of 'Australian Riesling' with more natural crispness and intensity, delicious dry white wine.


Bodegas Pittacum

One of the pioneers of the possibly up-and-coming, and certainly very beautiful Bierzo region (I went on a trip here a couple of years ago: click here to read that feature), Pittacum is a relatively small 8-ha estate (20 acres), although cellar and vineyards are currently being expanded and upgraded. They have lots of old Mencía vines planted here, an intriguingly successful local red variety, "aged between 50 and 80 years old" according to their blurb; as well as Garnacha (Grenache) which is the base of a newly launched label called La Prohibición.

2007 Pittacum Bierzo (Mencía, 8 months in French and American oak, 14.5% alc) - toasty smoky and dark chocolate aromas layered with rich ripe black cherry fruit, dark choc texture and flavours run onto the palate with lush rounded mouth-feel; dry vs 'sweet' tannin/fruit/oak profile, powerful too with attractive developing savoury/earthy notes. Quite oaky but it does have substance and silky texture vs roasted coffee and bitter choc tones/twist. Drinking well now although should last a few years, becoming more savoury and liquorice-tinged after a day or two open vs ripe concentrated peppery fruit. Approx $24.
2007 Pittacum Aurea Bierzo (Mencía, aged 14 months in oak, 14.5% alc) - sourced from a 100+ year-old vineyard called Finca Areixola. Shows a fair coating of coconut/chocolate oak at first, moving on to a thick-textured rich wine with attractive smooth vs dry tannins; those touches of oak grain and coco/choc flavours did melt into the wine after it was open for a day, revealing more blue and black fruits, spices and a tad of fresh bite even too. Tasty with lamb meatballs actually.

Quinta Sardonia


Found in the blink-and-miss-it village of Sardón del Duero, about half-an-hour east of Valladolid, this 20 ha/45 acre estate lies "close to the banks of the River Duero (= Douro) at an altitude of 2500 to 2750 feet (750-850 metres)," which must have a moderating effect on otherwise sunny temperatures (although it's cold here in winter). They claim to have identified 11 different parcels and apply biodynamic techniques "to achieve balance between soil, climate, variety and natural environment." French winemaker Jerome Bougnaud and local resident Dane Peter Sisseck (of Pingus fame) are called upon as consultants.


2007 QS (52% Tinto Fino = Tempranillo, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon plus Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, kitchen sink... 16 months in 50/50 new/old French oak) - punchy 15% alcohol vs lush rounded palate, layers of smoky dark chocolate oak merge with darker fruit, maturing meaty edges and earthy/peppery tones; big mouthful of wine coated with bitter choc tannins giving grippy vs rounded mouth-feel, long powerful finish suffused with lush fruit, oak and enticing savoury flavours too. Wow, quite demanding and would suit red meat or game best.

05 April 2012

France: Grand Cru Chablis

Grand Cru Chablis tasting London 2012


"Or 'more posh Chablis' if you prefer an alternative title (that link subtly goes to a piece reviewing a few tasty M&S Chablis back in December). I've selected my two or three favourites from each of the 14 producers who aired their wares at the Union des Grands Crus de Chablis showcase a few weeks ago (conjures up images of heated members' meetings and not-so-secret ballots: "...Those in favour of a one-day strike in protest against the inclement weather, raise your hands..."). This tasting was a launchpad for their 2010 vintage wines with each winery also cracking open an older vintage or two ranging from 2009 and 2008 back to a remarkable 1999, as was the case for one estate (Domaine Servin), which provided a useful comparison benchmark..."
Click here to read my full-monty report (goes to a new Burgundy page in the "more wines words" section, where you'll find more links, words and wines to/on/from Burgundy). Featuring these top estates and wineries: Servin, Pascal Bouchard, La Chablisienne, Jean Collet, Drouhin Vaudon, Nathalie & Gilles Fèvre, William Fèvre, Laroche, Long Depaquit / Albert Bichot, Viviers, Malandes, Louis Moreau, Simonnet-Febvre, Gérard Tremblay...