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Showing posts with label Cabernet Sauvignon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cabernet Sauvignon. Show all posts

17 February 2024

Argentina: Cabernets and blends.


The first of two features on red wines from Argentina centres on Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Franc and combinations with other grapes. Some of these include the nation's darling variety Malbec as a lesser percentage of the blend; the next post will cover wines made from all or mostly Malbec and/or Syrah, where Malbec or Syrah take the lead role (with other grapes). So, if you're still with me, here are 10 sexy Argentinean Cabs worth lifting.

14 August 2023

New Zealand: Syrah, Cabernets, Malbec and Merlot.

New Zealand Wine Inc. Craggy Range Syrah.

Syrah isn't the newcomer to New Zealand's vineyards that I imagined it might be, with 'a long history dating back to the mid-1800s.' Most of this seductive variety is planted in Hawke's Bay region, a vast cove on the east coast of North Island and one of NZ's sunniest spots; followed by the Auckland / Waiheke Island area in the north with its warm seaside climate. But, at 350 and 50 hectares of Syrah plantings respectively, the wines are of niche interest even if very promising.

21 February 2022

Pays d'Oc, South of France part 4.

Poet Frédéric Mistral.
These eleven wines (we go that one extra, so "these go up to 11") were worth typing about picked from the latest batch of diverse samplings from IGP Pays d'Oc (essentially the entire Occitanie region although these are all from the Languedoc), boldly billed in the press release as 'Pays d’Oc wines for every festive occasion.' Previous posts on Pays d'Oc include these linked below (there'll be more if you can be bothered to look, use the search doofer on the right):

05 February 2018

Cabernet & Merlot: France, Chile, Australia.


Updated February 2018
I've added a few more Cab-Mer, Mer-Cab (Sauvignon/Franc) or straight Cab Sauvs that are worth the typing and fit the theme; the first one in particular is very well-priced:
Château Tanunda 2016 'Basket Press' Barossa Cabernet-Merlot (15% abv) - This sumptuous blockbuster red, one of Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' label range, is made by one of South Australia's most famous and elderly wine estates (as opposed to Monty Python's similar-sounding Chateau Chunder which was destined for 'laying down and avoiding...'), and is packed with cassis, ripe damson and liquorice flavours but is multi-layered and 'meaty' too. Lots of taste for £10. 

22 October 2015

Australia: Cabernet Sauvignon

The Oz red fashion has perhaps shifted towards varieties such as Shiraz (Syrah) and Pinot Noir and Italian or Spanish grapes, as highlighted in a recent post on harpers.co.uk: "the trend to also move away from the once overwhelming focus on French varietals seems to be growing." But when you taste Australia's premium Cabernet Sauvignons and blends, you're quickly reminded of how good some of them are.

18 April 2015

Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon: 'reds of the moment'

A few words about a pair of Pinots and a couple of Cabernets, pitching the US against South Africa and Chile against Argentina, which I selected for a 'classic grape varieties' tasting held in Belfast a few weeks ago. All different and all good.

Primarius Pinot Noir 2011, Oregon USA (12% abv) - I was slightly apprehensive buying this Oregon red at this price (they're mostly dearer), but wasn't disappointed. Quite light and elegant style yet has plenty of attractive clear-cut Pinot character, aromatic red fruit notes vs a more 'mushroom-y' (!) side and background oak adding a little roundness, refreshing and tasty finish. Drink now. £8.99 Tesco

30 May 2014

Australia & New Zealand: "wines of the mo"

Tried and tested recently at an Aus and NZ themed tasting I held in Belfast, here are my favourite half-dozen worth highlighting that are all widely available as long as you look on these supermarkets' usually a little dustier top shelves... But all good value in their own different ways, especially as a couple of them were on "third-off" type offers too.

Jacob's Creek 2011 Reserve Riesling, Barossa, South Australia (11.5% abv) – you've probably spotted this huge brand's "Reserve" range before (from specific subregions, there's also e.g. a Chardy, Pinot and Shiraz), which generally really are worth a go like this delicate mature yet fairly intense Riesling. It has lots of those characteristic intriguing maturing oily aromas/flavours and some lingering ripe lime zest still. Drinking well now with seafood in a winey/creamy sauce? £9.99 Tesco
More Oz Riesling HERE and HERE.
Villa Maria 2013 Pinot Grigio, East Coast, New Zealand (13.5%) - from memory, this was labelled as Pinot Gris until recently, pointing to a more French Alsace style perhaps (but sensible marketing obviously got the better of them). It's definitely got more character and mouth-weight than your average Italian PG, with nice juicy honey and melon flavours and refreshing vs full finish. Good with not too spicy Indian, Chinese or Thai I reckon. £10 Asda
Yering Station 2011 'Wild Ferment' Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Aus (12%) - one of Sainsbury's superior "Taste the Difference" labels, this was a good result since I wanted to show a more elegant less oaky style of Chardy. Attractive nutty lightly creamy and oatmeal edges, a touch of zing still although again drinking well now, well-balanced with very subtle oak ageing. Value @ £9 considering the price of say Chablis nowadays. 
McWilliam's 2005 Mount Pleasant 'Elizabeth' Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Aus (12%) - a great example of one of those weird and wonderful bottle-aged Semillon styles, and again value @ £8.99 at Tesco, this has almost toasted characters, despite it being kept away from barrels, with lingering complex savoury vs green/stone fruit mix.
Oz Semillon tasting HERE.
Matua 2012 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand (13%) - Matua seems quite big now, but they still turn out a fairly classy Pinot with perfumed cherry/berry fruit, a more savoury side too and just a hint of oak thankfully. With duck? £10.98 Asda
More NZ Pinot HERE.
Xanadu 2011 'Next of Kin' Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Aus (14%) - towards delicious Cab with plenty of ripe blackcurrant/cherry'damson, chunky mouth-feel yet with rounded texture, again subdued oak vs quite concentrated fruit, powerful yet balanced. Value @ £8.50 Sainsbury's.

29 April 2014

Chile: Cabernet Sauvignon

In a similar vein to my piece on Cabernet from Argentina (goes there) posted at the end of last year, Merlot, Carmenere and now Syrah and Pinot have perhaps become Chile's most fashionable varietal darlings. But there's still a lot of vinous enjoyment to be had from wines made solely or mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon; and occasionally more than mere enjoyment, as in fact some of Chile's best reds are crafted from Cab or Cab blends. Here's a gratuitous 'top ten' then (actually, "this one goes to 11...") that have come my wine-way in recent-ish times.

05 November 2013

Argentina: Cabernet & Tempranillo (plus a sparkling wine)

"'Malbec from Argentina' is hogging the fashion limelight nowadays, and a good deal of this sizeable country's vineyard area on the simplest level; and Syrah has also now invaded the varietal catwalk here. But we shouldn't forget another better-known mainstay red variety, and often more successful in quality, consistency and style terms; good old Cabernet Sauvignon..."

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12 June 2012

Languedoc: Cabardès

First off, you'll find what I attempted to say about Cabardès last year immediately below, more or less, as that original post disappeared into the lost land of curious Blogger memory blackouts (not repeated since it has to be said). So, I've dug up these notes again and, just for the thrill of it, decided to pitch them against this year's incisive ramblings on Cabardès gleaned from a trip to the Languedoc just a few weeks ago (notes and thoughts from that one are below below). "Confused? You will be..."
"...Cabardès' trademark is a slightly wacky mix of Mediterranean, Rhone and Southwest grape varieties, which has a certain logic being out there in the wild west of the Languedoc... These weren't all the reds on tasting, as I’ve excluded quite a few 2008s that just weren’t that good: I suspect it’s a bit of a lean & mean vintage in the area and certainly not one to push the oak and/or extraction, as many winemakers did. From what I’ve tried so far of the 2009s and 2010s (the latter mostly unfinished samples on that occasion) though, things are looking much better in Cabardès country..." Discover it on a map and in situ lying discreetly to the north of Carcassonne, by the way.


Syrah budding from flickr.com/photos/mroconnell
aka Ryan @ ovineyards.com
Château de Jouclary tradition 2008 – enticing herbal minty vs maturing savoury aromas, leafy edges vs sweeter side, elegant and quite tasty now.
Château de Jouclary tradition 2010 – leafy tones vs darker plummy side, quite grippy yet has vibrant fruit, closes up on the finish but looks promising.

Domaine O’Vineyards Proprietor’s Reserve 2008 (40% Merlot 40% Syrah  20% Cabernet Sauvignon) – lots of choc and vanilla, grainy texture and tannins, some nice fruit vs leafy/cedary edges but it’s a bit swamped in oak; maybe its true nature will emerge, as it's quite good, but the winemaking seems a touch 'pushed'.
O’Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2008 (2/3 Merlot 1/3 Cabernet) - again quite vanilla-y although also has appealing maturing berry fruit with savoury edges, attractive soft tannins too.
O’Vineyards Proprietor’s Reserve 2006 (as above) - better, enticing savoury notes with dark vs cedary fruit and complex herbal berry flavours, still quite firmly structured with that oak nicely melted in. Very good.
Château de Pennautier Terroirs d’Altitude 2008 – cedary/leafy vs nice cassis and cherry fruit, lightly creamy edges vs currant and cassis, quite firm and fresh but it works.
Château de Pennautier 2009 - smokier ripe side vs leafy edges, quite lush and tasty with full-on tannins, a tad extracted but that smoky vs tangy fruit does linger along with fair oomph. Good.
Château de Pennautier 2010 – quite closed up, more concentrated with vibrant blackberry/cherry, big mouthful of tannins vs sweet fruit, dark vs tangier side, should be very good.
Château de Pennautier L’Esprit Grand Vin 2008 – showing more cedary oak vs richer and more intense profile, cassis and light liquorice, spicy and punchy with firmer tighter mouth-feel, closes up with solid dry finish. Very good.
Château de Caumette Hauts-Lorgeril Collection d’Altitude 2008 – a bit richer and meatier than their “Mont Peyroux” 2008, fair concentration with solid tannins but this time rounder, tight and fresh with lusher fruit. Good.
Château de Caumette Guillaume de J… 2008 – minty herby cassis and black cherry, maturing edges; much richer and sweeter on the palate, power vs grip vs nice fruit. Good stuff.
Vignerons du Triangle d’Or Amethyste 2008 – cedary/leafy nose vs plum and blackcurrant, fruity vs chunky mouth-feel, quite nice although straightforward.
Domaine de Cazaban-Mengus Demoiselle Claire 2009 – leafy vs smoky, chunky fruity and initially impressive, tightens up; maybe lacks a little substance in the end.
Domaine de Cazaban-Mengus Les Petites Rangées 2009 – similar nose, more intricate perhaps, richer palate with attractive ripe vs smoky and plummy cassis fruit, firm but round tannins, tight dry finish with underlying sweeter/punchy side.
Domaine de Cazaban-Mengus Domaine de Cazaban 2009 – richer still, more oak but it's nicely lush and smoky, concentrated with spicy tobacco and savoury edges vs chunky tannins and sweet fruit, power and length. Lovely.
Domaine de Cazaban-Mengus 2010 – not giving much away, has that 'sweet vs savoury' thing with big yet rounded tannins, power and tight firm finish. Again very good.
Mas Ventenac 2010 – minty and cassis/cherry, quite solid and rich with firm vs rounded finish, tannins are still a bit hard but again has nice vibrant fruit.

Moving swiftly back to 2012 and the most recent/older vintages scrutinized plus a few Cabardès wine folk encountered over tasting and lunch (late April): Wenny Tari of Château de Brau, Anne Marandon-Maurel of Château Salitis and Ryan O'Connell from Domaine O'Vineyards...
Interesting to note perhaps, following on from what I said above about those 2008s, that there weren't any from this vintage on the Cab tasting table this time. Meaning: all sold or producers weren't chuffed enough to put them on show? Nothing wrong with a little idle speculation at least. But the 09s and 10s (now bottled) sampled here do confirm what I felt last year (although the tannins on some 09s also now seem rather dry, across the region). I was among those who praised 2008 initially, in general, as two or three years ago the wines were looking OK. Now I've changed my mind a little - again generally as there are some good 08 wines out there of course, as featured above and elsewhere on this blog - despite people constantly defending the vintage applying the obsessive tag of "freshness" to the wines, translating literally (fraicheur, trendy word nowadays referring to more elegant reds). Well, fine: nobody likes overly heavy or un-elegant reds, but I'm not sure we should be looking in the Languedoc ad nauseum for "fresh" light red wines? Especially if that really means unripe, lean and charmless... Anyway, these Cabardès reds, rosés and whites range from nice to very good+ :

Rosé - all 2011

Lorgeril/Château de Pennautier - nice enough rosé, lacks a bit of zing maybe.
Sesquières - better, quirky red pepper type aromas (Cabernet Franc?) moving on to a creamier palate vs crisp red fruits and fresh bite. Good.
Château Jouclary - clean crisp and tighter in the 'Provence' style, showing nice bite and zing.
Château de Brau (Syrah, Cabernet Franc) - 'winey' (sounds meaningless in English when talking about wine, but the French do refer to fuller fruitier rosé styles as vineux) oily and rounded with ripe red fruits vs fresher crisper finish. Good although already turning a bit old?

White - 2011

Château Salitis Viognier - odd almost 'botrytised' character, ripe and aromatic with exotic vs green fruit flavours, tasty enough in the end especially with food.

Red

2007

Château de Brau Le Suc - red pepper hints vs smoky maturing notes, coconut grain texture vs red/black fruits, quite firm still yet developing savoury flavours, attractive bitter twist vs plummy fruit.
Cave La Malepère Révolution - rather oak soaked but there's some attractive chunky fruit underneath.
O’Vineyards Stranger (Merlot) - resiny oaky nose with lush plummy fruit, a bit too much vanilla although has attractive savoury development too, grainy vs sweet textured; kinda ripe Pomerol style, although I'd prefer less oak.

2009

Château du Donjon L'Autre - sweet cherry and liquorice, grippy vs ripe mouth-feel, attractive style.
Château de Pennautier Terroirs d'Altitude - lush and smoky start with fair depth, tannins are a little bitter although it has good fruit.
Château Jouclary Guillaume de Jouclary - cedary oak touches vs nice ripe dark cherry and cassis, lush vs grippy palate, structured and powerful finish. Very good.
Château Jouclary Les Amandiers - more closed up, concentrated with grainy texture showing red pepper vs darker fruit, again extracted but not too much, long and tasty in the end. Very good.
Sesquières cuvée du chene - quirky mix of sweet fruit and herby red pepper, maturing oily palate with liquorice vs firmer and fresher side. Good.
Château de Brau Cuvée Exquise - rustic and 'soupy' vs crunchier fruit too, grippy and concentrated, quite rustic but has good depth.

2010

Foncalieu - Château Saint Agel - modern fruity / oaky combo, not bad depth in the end.
Château de Pennautier - quite rich and smoky, solid and grippy vs attractive ripe fruit, closes up on a structured finish; promising.
Château de Brau - pretty grippy and tight on the palate, structured and concentrated with nice fruit underneath. Good.
Sesquières cuvée Prestige - again offers that mix of red peppery and dark cherry fruit, firm and extracted mouth-feel yet rounded and ripe underneath. Good.
Château Salitis Equinoxe (Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Grenache) - attractive lush fruity style with good depth and grip, tasty finish with dark smoky flavours. €8.50 cellar door.
Château Salitis Cuvée des Dieux (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache) - enticing ripe dark fruit, concentrated vs grippy vs rounded, smoky tobacco edges vs black plum fruit. Good stuff. €9.50

Finally, more in-depth profiles on a few leading Cabardès wineries (some of them featured above) with notes on previous vintages can be found here:
Profile on O'Vineyards will follow soon-ish (honest)...

08 June 2012

Sicily: Valdibella, Camporeale


Valdibella is a mini co-operative winery set up in the late 90s, although the local 'crops' - grapes (mostly indigenous varieties), almonds (apparently there are 90 types grown in this region) and olives - have been farmed organically here for longer, as sustainable nature is the members' central common ethos. The company is also a community spirited employer and lobbying organization that supports "young people in difficulty" and the Addiopizzo movement against "mafia rackets," as it says on their site. Its six members include Massimiliano Solano, Luigi Montalbano, Gioacchino Accardo, Pietro Scardino and Filippo Giglione, who between them own 38 ha (95 acres) of undulating vineyards around Camporeale and Monreale, on the western side of Sicily inland from Palermo, planted on slopes up to 500 metres (1640 feet above sea level). The people at the co-op have also written their own biodiversity and winemaking charter - see www.valdibella.com - including a low or no sulphite policy, which is a tricky path to tip-toe down and not entirely successful in all of the wines I tried, although some of them are deliciously quirky with it. They're rather proud of their Catarratto too, an old and widely-planted Sicilian white variety, which you'll find here as 50 year-old bush vines and made into three different wines. Same story for Perricone, an almost extinct red grape vine indigenous to western Sicily. Encountered at this year's Millesime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier.


2010 Isolano (100% Catarratto "Extra Lucido") - appley nutty 'natural' style with lovely bite and intense finish.
2011 Ariddu (Grillo) - wild yeast-leesy nose, fairly rich mouth-feel vs crisp mineral bite and citrus fruits, concentrated and lively finish. Yum, very nice white.
2010 Acamante (Perricone) - perfumed and peppery with floral cherry notes, tasty palate with quite soft vs dry tannins. Different and good with it.
2011 Respiro (Nero d'Avola, no SO2 hence the name presumably meaning "breath") - a little baked/oxidised and meaty on the nose vs ripe dark fruit combo, attractive supple tannins. Was a vat sample though so might not have travelled well!
2010 Respiro - similar nose although fruitier vs those developed meaty edges, concentrated chunky mouth-feel vs rounded tannins. Good stuff.
2010 Jaki (50-50 Cabernet Sauvignon-Nero d'Avola) - dark 'tar' like aromas, rich extracted palate with again those nice tannins, very ripe oily character almost vs enticing savoury meaty maturing edges. Wow, a bit odd but delicious with it.

19 May 2011

Black cats and black grapes

Black grapes refers to a lively little Italian rosé - sorry, Sicilian (oops, there go the kneecaps...): 2010 Nero d'Avola made by Cantine Settesoli. Weighing in at 12.5% alc. and £4.99 a bottle at Tesco, this zingy vs creamy fruity rosé delivers plenty of redcurrant and raspberry with crisp finish; and is fairly versatile as a foodie wine (venison & red onion burgers from M&S, fish & chips, prawn Balti...).
From http://snickrt.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/gato-negro1.jpg
As for black cats, the Gato Negro range from Vina San Pedro in Chile's Central Valley is an all-round crowd-pleaser with attractive, well-made and easy-drinking wines; especially at  Wine Mark / Russell's Cellars in Belfast where you get a '2 for £9' deal. On the red front, try the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (13.5%) or the quirkier purple-black 2010 Carmenere (13.5%); and for whites, there's a zesty dry grapefruity 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (12%) or peachy citrus-edged 2010 Chardy. And not forgetting their almost delicious creamy red fruity vs crisp 2010 Cab Sauv rosé. Mini-feature on Chilean rosés / rosados here.
More @ gatonegro.cl

20 January 2011

"Red of the mo" = Porcupine Ridge Cab

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coastal Region in South Africa (14.5%): it's been a while since I had a slurp of a wine from this range created by Marc Kent's Boekenhoutskloof winery, and I wasn't disappointed. If Cab Sauv ever tasted like blackcurrants, or cassis as I sometimes say (not to be pretentious but to evoke a riper sweeter sort of blackcurrant flavour), then this one does. In a tasty, surprisingly savoury even, and yet certainly tangy way; it's quite concentrated, powerful and solid too with nice dry tannins in the background, but always wrapped in attractive berry and plum fruit with light liquorice and spice hints perhaps. I think it was on offer at Sainbury's for a fiver but usually about £7?

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