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

18 May 2013

Roussillon: Mas Delmas, Rivesaltes

Pruning at Mas Delmas - yes, it's cold in the Roussillon in winter!
From 
masdelmasleblog.fr
Pierre-André and Mercedes Delmas' organic vineyards lie on low south-facing slopes of the Corbieres hills, in the Rivesaltes and Salses-le-Chateau area in the northeastern corner of rough-and-ready Roussillon country. This wide-open windswept terrain feels exposed and airy under a vast, bright and 'larger than life' skyline, as you look out to sea to the east and the Pyrenees to the southwest. Mind you, it isn't always dry and sunny here: I see from their blog that their cellar in Rivesaltes was flooded in March after a mega deluge. Hopefully didn't cause any lasting damage or losses. Having lived in the region, I can indeed confirm that, when it rains, it can rain big time. In addition to a few Roussillon red blends and Muscat and Rivesaltes VDN styles, they also make a new 50/50 old-vine Grenache-Syrah called 'Nature' with no added sulphites and a white and rosé.


Marie Delmas Muscat sec 2011 (12.5% abv) - pretty typical easy-going aromatic dry Muscat style, although a touch fuller and rounder than most; went well with a variety of Chinese dishes (spicy stir-fried veg, salt & chilli prawns, sesame coated pork, smoky noodles...).
Marie Delmas Côtes du Roussillion Villages 2010 (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre; 13.5% abv) - rich dark cherry fruit with savoury black olive and wild volatile edges, peppery and dry vs quite soft tannins, nice balance actually of fruit, grip and concentration giving a solid vs drinking well palate profile. Fairly wild/volatile on the nose but has attractive texture, flavour and depth too.
M del Mas 2009 (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan; 14% abv, 50 cl) - rich dried black cherry with smoky savoury meaty edges, concentrated and lush vs lovely dry yet supple tannins, hints of coconut vs nice maturing fruit, powerful yet balanced finish.
Muscat 2005 Vin Doux Naturel (aged in casks for 6+ years) - quirky complex style of Muscat, caramelized marmalade flavours blend with baked Brazil and pecan nuts, tangy long finish layered with lush dried fruits. Dessert alternative on its own or pour some over vanilla ice cream!


Going there:  29 avenue du stade, 66600 Rivesaltes. Phone: +33(0) 468 518 810.

16 May 2013

Wine Education Service NI events May & June


The next tastings and courses running in Belfast city centre are:

ESSENTIAL WINE TASTING course - £125 for 5 sessions on Tuesdays 19.00 to 21.00 starting 28 May to 25 June. More info on this five evening course here: wine-education-service.co.uk/introductory.
The Wines of Spain - Thursday 30 May - £30 or two for £50
"Around eight Spanish red, white and rosé wines will be tasted and talked about, including classic examples from northern Spain - e.g. Penedes, Priorat, Rioja, Navarra, Galicia - central Spain - e.g. Ribera del Duero or Toro - and southern Spain - e.g. Valdepeñas, Valencia & Jerez..."
Le Tour de France one-day wine workshop Saturday 1 June: £80 for the day including lunch, about a dozen wines for tasting and 'discussion', course notes and tuition. More details about this and other workshops here: wine-education-service.co.uk/workshop.
Thursday 27 June - Champagne & Sparkling Wines - £35 or two for £60
"A fizzy world tour starting in France with classic Champagne and other fine sparklers, then comparing with the ever popular Cava (a good one, of course), Italian 'new kid on the block' Prosecco, passing through the southern hemisphere (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) and ending up in England!"

Full details and on-line booking: www.wine-education-service.co.uk/wine-tasting-belfast.
Or pay for Spain and Sparkling tastings by PayPal:


Select tasting:


Wine Education Service NI events May & June


The next tastings and courses running in Belfast city centre are:

ESSENTIAL WINE TASTING course - £125 for 5 sessions on Tuesdays 19.00 to 21.00 starting 28 May to 25 June. More info on this five evening course here: wine-education-service.co.uk/introductory.
The Wines of Spain - Thursday 30 May - £30 or two for £50
"Around eight Spanish red, white and rosé wines will be tasted and talked about, including classic examples from northern Spain - e.g. Penedes, Priorat, Rioja, Navarra, Galicia - central Spain - e.g. Ribera del Duero or Toro - and southern Spain - e.g. Valdepeñas, Valencia & Jerez..."
Le Tour de France one-day wine workshop Saturday 1 June: £80 for the day including lunch, about a dozen wines for tasting and 'discussion', course notes and tuition. More details about this and other workshops here: wine-education-service.co.uk/workshop.
Thursday 27 June - Champagne & Sparkling Wines - £35 or two for £60
"A fizzy world tour starting in France with classic Champagne and other fine sparklers, then comparing with the ever popular Cava (a good one, of course), Italian 'new kid on the block' Prosecco, passing through the southern hemisphere (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) and ending up in England!"

Full details and on-line booking: www.wine-education-service.co.uk/wine-tasting-belfast
Or pay for Spain and Sparkling tastings by PayPal:


Select tasting:


New Zealand: Pinot Noir

I've said the odd kind thing about Pinot Noir from New Zealand before (goes to archive page with links to previous post featuring Pinots from Seresin, Borthwick Estate, Wither Hills and Mount Edward); so I can't be bothered repeating myself with headline-grabbing clichés about "... great potential for Pinot now being revealed... cool climate elegance... blah blah..." and all that jazz (oops, I think I just did). The ten Pinot Noirs picked and noted below were mostly tasted in Dublin earlier this year (apart from the first one bought in Tesco 'UK'), hence € prices and importers mentioned are in the Irish Republic. I've split them up by region, which neatly highlights a pattern showing where much of the country's (best?) PN is planted: from Wairarapa, or Martinborough in the south of North Island, to Marlborough, the biggest wine region especially for white varieties, in the north of South Island; and heading south through the Waipara Valley in Canterbury and finally Central Otago, the most southerly area for vines and rated as producing some of the best NZ Pinot to date (and often the dearest too, alas).

Wooing Tree vineyard, home of Beetle Juice and a certain Puritan dictator...
Photo from nzwine.com
Central Otago
2009 'Tesco Finest' Sacred Hills Wines / Jenny Dobson (13.5%) - attractive maturing style showing smoky vs perfumed sweet berry fruit with savoury edges, fair weight and rounded palate vs touch of fresh acidity and bite still, quite long and fine. Bought and sampled last year sometime, on offer for less than £10 at the time so not the current vintage and price for sure.
2011 Felton Road, Bannockburn ("Must be the 1314, unmistakeable..." - enticing perfumed Pinot nose with toasty chocolate edges, nice 'sweet/savoury' fruit with a little weight, balanced and quite stylish with elegant fruit coming through on the finish. €28 WineKnows
2010 Wooing Tree Beetle Juice, Cromwell (14%) - richer cherry fruit, turning savoury with enticing volatile edges, has a touch of bite and Burgundian style, quite big though vs attractive maturing 'sweet/savoury' fruit. €30 Quintessential Wines; Harry's Road Fine Wines in Belfast.
2010 Rock Ferry - fairly vibrant fruit and oak on the nose, turning more elegant and Pinot styled, quite firm and fresh mouth-feel vs more fruit than oak in the end. €30+

Waipara Valley
2010 Bellbird Spring River Terrace - perfumed tasty 'sweet/savoury' fruit, fairly silky and soft with delicate fruit vs a bit of weight too. €29.50

Wairarapa
2011 Craggy Range Te Muna - hints of vanilla oak vs delicate red berry/cherry vs savoury notes, tasty and juicy in the mouth, quite elegant finish yet has nice palate weight too. Needs a little time to come together. €40 Febvre & Co.
2010 Gladstone Vineyard - elegant maturing Pinot notes, lacks a little concentration perhaps but has subtle attractive Pinot style and still lively too. €24.50

Marlborough
2011 Spy Valley - a little extracted and chunky at first, moves on to nicer 'sweet/savoury' fruit combo with subtle oak in the background, attractive silky tannins with lingering more savoury flavours. €20-€25 Cassidy Wines
2010 Auntsfield Single Vineyard, Southern Valleys - intriguing lightly volatile notes with 'sweet/savoury' touches, reasonably concentrated although a tad clunky perhaps. €22.50
2009 Villa Maria Cellar Selection - lovely perfumed fruit with maturing 'sweet/savoury' edges, elegant vs a bit of weight, mature vs still fresh on the finish. Nice style. €21 Barry & Fitzwilliam

04 May 2013

Spain: a trio of Rioja

Rioja is one of those (fairly) endlessly fascinating wine "topics" yet sometimes a bit of a minefield too, as there are a lot of Rioja wines out there at all sorts of prices and it's not always clear what kind of style you're going get. Fruity but a bit thin or rich fruity and good, lightly oaky or very oaky, young and old (okay, that one should be pretty obvious), cheap and expensive (ditto). What these three different styles and price points of red Rioja below have in common is, well, they're all good as far as I'm concerned; and have all seen some barrel ageing from a few months to a few years, which clearly can shape the style, flavour and texture of the wine. They're also mostly made from the Tempranillo variety, considered Rioja's flagship grape although sometimes a splash of Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano (called Morrastel in southern France, not the same as Monastrell in Spain or Mourvedre, just to confuse matters...) or Mazuelo (= Cariñena or Carignan), for example, can actually improve the blend. Having said that, the second wine here from Cantos de Valpiedra was, I think, 100% Tempranillo and went down very well at a recent tasting I held.

Carlos Rodriguez
Saxa Loquuntur uno 2010 Carmelo Ortega (Tempranillo, Garnacha; 14% abv) - aged 4 to 6 months in American and French oak barrels. And it doesn't really show, just adding a little spice and light dark chocolate texture to its quite lush ripe berry fruit and dry yet fairly rounded tannins. Good value at £6.99 from Lidl (part of their 'Wine Cellar' range, so not all stores).
Cantos de Valpiedra 2008 Tempranillo (13.5%) - showing nice savoury meaty maturing side vs still quite rich and lush blackberry/cherry fruit, hints of spicy vanilla wood in the background vs fairly concentrated and stylish. £8.99 James Nicholson.
Carlos Rodriguez Reserva 2007 - pretty typical traditional style with developing volatile 'cheesy' notes and dried raspberry / cassis fruit, underpinned by smooth vanilla oak notes / texture and gentle 'sweet' fruit, hint of dry tannin to finish with savoury edges. A touch light perhaps and beginning to fade so it's ready to drink now; quite good though on the dear side - £12.99 from Naked Wines, or £9.49 if you're an 'Angel' (what's that all about by the way, paying them money to get the wine for the price it's worth?) Photo of Carlos copied from their site.

Mucho mas Rioja HERE (goes to Spain archive page with links) featuring, among others:
CVNE / Contino rare vintages of top Reservas and Gran Reservas ("If it's the 52, you were expecting me...").
Alvarez AlfaroRioja duet: LagunillaLa Rioja AltaGarnacha rosé...
Y mas!

02 May 2013

Roussillon: Domaine Treloar update

Click here for previous words and wine reviews from 2006 to 2010...

By Kurt Lykke Lindved from facebook.com/Domaine-Treloar-Vineyard-and-Winery

... So it was probably high time I caught up with Jon and Rachel Hesford / Treloar, and was at their winery in Trouillas in central Roussillon earlier this year (where did those last three months go?!). I tried most of their latest vintage releases, as well as some 2011s and 2012s from barrel and vat... and now I've dug up and reopened my trusty old note book, you'll see what I thought below. Jon is very enthusiastic about vintage 2012, by the way, which (quoting from their site) "...for us was as good a year as we have seen.... Although we sorted the bunches by hand, there was little to reject this year in most vineyards. The quality of the grapes coming into the winery was extremely high and required almost no intervention to produce wines of lovely balance and character with great potential..."
This includes what I think is an exciting new blend of old vine Carignan (planted in 1955) and their 1972 Syrah ("the oldest Syrah in Trouillas" apparently), which was whole-bunch fermented with foot treading then aged in 450 litre barrels (it still is probably) for "less oak flavour... fingers crossed!" See note below then. Same goes for their 2012 Terre Promise white, which has been refined over the years, especially or possibly thanks to the addition of Grenache gris and Carignan blanc (the latter also from the 50s) that were purchased with some other little plots in 2008 (the estate started with about 10 hectares in 2006). Then again, Jon did work at Neudorf in New Zealand making white wines going back a few years... And there are some very good reds from vintages 2010 and 2011 on the way too. Euro prices quoted are cellar door, and £.££ approx UK prices from either Leon Stolarski, Swig, Big Red Wine Company, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Nouveau Wines and Edinburgh Wine Merchants among others: see domainetreloar.com/stockists where you'll also find importers for elsewhere in Europe and North America.

2012 Terre Promise white (Grenache gris, Macabeu, Carignan blanc) tasted from cask - nice savoury oat and nut characters vs fresh and 'mineral', rounded vs tight finish; lovely elegant touch.
2011 Terre Promise (13% abv) - quite rich and toasty edges on the nose with exotic apricot and hazelnut, has a hint of crisp bite but it's quite soft now with nice oatmeal touches. €10, £12-£12.50
2011 One Block dry Muscat (13%) - floral grapey and orange peel tones, rounder honeyed palate vs still crisp, fairly delicate and tasty. €6.80, £9-£10
2010 Three Peaks Cotes du Roussillon (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan; 14% abv) - spicy and lightly funky nose, rich dark fruit vs meaty and peppery edges, fresh tannins making it quite tight and elegant too vs a bigger blast of grip, power and fruit on the finish. Needs a little more time in bottle to soften but it's drinking nicely now too (with something hearty). €8.50, £10.50-£11.50.
2010 Motus (Mourvèdre + max 5% Grenache, 14.5% abv) - coconut oak notes layered with dark brooding fruit, big mouthful showing light coconut grain, concentrated and chunky, pretty firm at the moment yet has nice tannins though. Woof, needs time to calm down a bit but looking good already. €12.22, £14-£15
2008 Tahi (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre; 14%) - very peppery and lightly rustic with lots of dark vs savoury black cherry, concentrated wild fruit vs power and firm grip vs maturing more rounded finish. Pretty serious wine, has some of that 3 Peaks character but steps up a level. €17, £17-£18
Click here for older vintages of all these and more.

More cask / vat samples:
2011 Syrah - nice dark cherry fruit with chocolate/coconut touches, light coco grain on the palate too with quite concentrated and lively sweet vs crunchy fruit, attractive rounded vs fresh tannins. Good balance again.
2011 Mourvèdre (new barrel) - toasty oak and dark sweet vs black olive fruit, concentrated and tight with lovely ripe tannins, again showing some fresh acidity too and stylish finish. About 20% of new barrel wine goes into Motus.
2012 Syrah (old barrel) - aromatic violet and black cherry fruit, firm but not aggressive, tight long finish. Promising.
2012 old vine Carignan and 1972 Syrah - lovely and intense, perfumed blueberry vs a sweeter spicier side, nice freshness and actually quite supple tannins, very long finish. Lovely wine, to be bottled as a new blend.