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Showing posts with label Syrah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syrah. Show all posts

04 March 2024

Argentina: Malbec, Syrah and Pinot Noir.

Following my post on Cabernets from Argentina, this second instalment of a short duet about Argentinian reds moves on to Malbec, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Malbec is a familiar proposition nowadays: the variety came from southwest France to Argentina in the 1850s and now represents 40% of red grapes (winesofargentina). Syrah has a shorter history but has gained ground over the last decade, producing sometimes superb varietals and as a component of full spicy red blends.

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 August 2022

Roussillon: 36 whites and rosés worthy of your fridge (but not at the same time).

Hot on the heels of two pieces showcasing 40+ stonking reds from the North and the Centre & South of the Roussillon, it's time to switch the limelight onto some of the region's flavoursome white and rosé wines. There's a blurb about the wineries mentioned here in those two previous posts: tap the links to discover more including which outlets stock their wines. So this time then, less blah blah and more wine. Photo: old vines in Les Aspres zone.

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):

01 November 2021

The Wine Society: 3 whites, 3 rosés, 3 reds.

These nine varied wines are available from the Wine Society in the UK (and some of them from other wine stores and in other countries), which I became a member of recently, and represent my favourites from a first mixed case purchased (I picked each wine but you can order from several pre-selected options).

09 July 2021

South of France, Pays d'Oc part three: Rosé.

These five rosés are all IGP Pays d'Oc from the Languedoc.
Marselan 2020 Les Caves Richemer (13.5% abv) - As I said in two previous posts about IGP Pays d'Oc (part 1 and part 2), Marselan is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache that's been around for a few decades and has adapted well to the Languedoc. Well-made easy-going tasty rosé combining juicy red fruits and white peach with creamier food-leaning mouth-weight and fresh zingy finish. Not bad match with a kinda 'surf & turf' pasta dish: spicy sausage tortelloni topped with bolognese and sardine sauce with courgettes, garlic, ginger and smoked paprika! France cellar door €4.30, Netherlands €8.95, US €9.99.

01 July 2021

Chile review 2021 masterclass

Valle de Elqui
Two tasting sessions featuring very diverse wines were held live via Zoom at the end of May, hosted by Wines of Chile UK, Tim Atkin MW and several leading Chilean winemakers also online commenting on their wines as we sampled from home. Tim picked sixteen whites, reds and a rosé to showcase the latest developments on the ground in Chile, enhanced by lots of up-to-date information on vineyards, grape varieties and wine regions. Atkin produces a substantial report every year on the Chilean wine scene, which can be purchased from this website here. Wine geek warning: this post is quite long and 'serious' (but does contain some great wines to look out for)...

24 April 2021

South of France: IGP and Vin de France

Many wine producers in southern France make wines labelled as Indication Géographique Protégée or IGP, which replaced Vin de Pays over ten years ago as part of a Europe-wide rationalisation of wine laws and 'trademarking' of specified wine areas. Hence in Italy, it's Indicazione Geografica Protetta or Indicación Geográfica Protegida in Spain, although confusingly they still also use the term Vino de la Tierra ('country wine') whereas the French have dropped Vin de Pays.

20 January 2021

Red & rosé wines of trying times

Whereas the fifty-odd 'white wines of the cosmos' in my previous feature were arranged by store, these forty red and rosé tips have been grouped by good old-fashioned grape variety (or combinations of). Once again, no apologies offered for, this time, an irrational amount of Grenache, including GSM (Grenache / Garnacha, Shiraz / Syrah and Mourvèdre blends), as well as Pinot Noir...

11 March 2017

Syrah-Shiraz 'wines of the moment'

Just to add a little substance and data to the usual geeky tasting notes accompanying a few recommended wines made from Syrah-Shiraz, let's start by confirming that the two myths about where the name Shiraz or Syrah came from are indeed just that. This grape variety apparently didn't come from the ancient city of Shiraz in Persia, now Iran, or from Syracuse in Sicily.

26 October 2016

American 'reds of the moment' (North and South)

Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2014 (14.5% abv) - California, USA. Tasty reminder that Zinfandel is indeed a 'black' grape variety for making solid wild-edged red wines (as opposed to crap rosé), this is smoky and chewy with rich sunny fruit. Sainsbury's £10 (occasionally on offer at £8).

10 July 2016

Chile: Syrah, Pinot Noir and other 'wines of the moment'

Misty Valle de Limarí from www.winesofchile.org


Casa Marín Lo Abarca Riesling 2015, San Antonio Valley (12.5% abv) - Delicate floral style with 'mineral' notes and subtle crisp white peach fruit. £10 Marks & Spencer.
Cono Sur Riesling Reserva Especial 2015, Bio Bio Valley (13.5% abv) - Oilier fuller style with more ripe lime vs zesty 'chalky' undertones, fair depth and class too. £9-£10 Tesco.

23 June 2015

South African Shiraz update: Cloof

Following on from my recent piece on South Africa: Pinotage & Shiraz / Syrah, I've added two more tasty Shirazes ("sexy" even...) to this and featured them below as well, which are definitely worth throwing out there into the digital wine sphere (they've been winning a few medals recently too: find out more on their site). Both come from Cloof Wine Estate in the Darling region (about an hour or so north of Cape Town) and are 2012 vintage: 'The Very Sexy' Shiraz and Cloof Shiraz. Click on the highlighted link at the top to read the original post. These reds were both aged for 15 months in barrel with more new oak used for the second one, which is also only made from selected bush vine fruit with much lower yields. UK importer: Berkmann Wine Cellars, Cloof Wines UK; online: SA Wines Online, Wines U Like, All about Wine (£ prices stated). O'Brien's in Ireland (€) and many other international distributors (see site as linked above).

2012 Cloof 'The Very Sexy' Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Attractive style, deep purple black, nice peppery black fruit nose with earthy gamey edges even and a hint of coconut oak, quite punchy and spicy mouth-feel, ripe and rounded with light coco texture vs a tad of dry grip, enticing lingering ripe vs savoury fruit with some freshness too. Next day: more savoury and peppery with roast red pepper tones vs fairly rich dark olive vs blackberry and meaty edges. Drinking nicely now although there's no hurry. R75, £12-£13, €15.49.

2012 Cloof Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Apparently there's more oak on this wine but it doesn't really taste of it apart from a background note/texture. Nice wild herby/minty aromas with dark berry, cassis and cherry and liquorice vs savoury tones too; rounded and powerful with attractive tannins vs sweet fruit, roasted red pepper and meaty undertones, light bitter twist and grip on the finish vs a bit of punch and sweet/savoury flavours. Next day: meatier, mintier and spicier and a tad oakier wierdly (?) with that funky roasted red pepper vs cocoa/mocha notes too, sweet dark fruit vs firm and punchy vs rounded and textured, pretty concentrated as well with that light bitter twist adding a bit of edge. R120, £35?

02 June 2015

South Africa: Pinotage & Shiraz / Syrah

Traditional vs new South Africa perhaps? Maybe not: I was at least curious to 'revisit' the sometimes unloved Pinotage variety and see how the wines have changed over the past few years. And likewise, although hardly ever unloved, for Syrah or Shiraz (seems to depend on whether the producer feels they're aiming for a French or New World style, or their marketing angle), which is a relative newcomer to South Africa and, going back in time a little, sometimes ended up as rather clunky overblown reds. So, the big "42"? Well, it's not hard to find good wines made from either, or a mix of the two even. Here are 30-odd that did it for me - some of them are pricey though by the way - mostly varietal Pinotage or Shiraz with a few blends of the two or other combos.

2012 Spice Route Pinotage Swartland - smoky nose with coconut edges, lots of spicy fruit and oomph with subtle oak backdrop on the palate, firm mouth-feel but not over-extracted. Good mouthful of flavour although should be for £11.49-£12. Vineyards Direct, SA Wines Online, Lea & Sandeman.
2009 Spice Route Terra de Bron Syrah Swartland - quite concentrated with perfumed sweet berry fruit, turning savoury vs still firm on the finish with attractive ripe fruit. Good Rhone-y style, expensive though: £18-£19. SA Wines Online
2010 Glenelly Syrah Stellenbosch - vibrant and spicy with white pepper tones, punchy and concentrated palate with alluring minty side too, dry yet nicely textured tannins. £12 Tesco.com Wine Direct.
2011 Ernie Els Proprietor's Syrah Helderberg (+5% Viognier) - fairly tightly structured wine, spicy blackberry fruit develops vs again well-done tannins. Still a tad young really with promise. $27-$40 Wine.com, Cape Ardor. £21.75-£22.50 SA Wines Online, Wine Direct.
2010 Rustenberg Buzzard Kloof Syrah Stellenbosch - fairly rich and concentrated with more coconut oak, quite austere big Northern Rhone style perhaps needing even more time in bottle... £16.69 SA Wines Online, £15.70 (casex12) Wine Down.
2011 Kaapzicht Pinotage Stellenbosch - quite concentrated with peppery cranberry and red pepper notes vs a darker smokier side, tight and firm mouth-feel vs stylish spicy/sweet/savoury combo finish. £14.69 SA Wines Online, Tanners.
2010 Kaapzicht Estate Pinotage (barrel selection) - more obvious oak but it's richer and more concentrated, showing enticing sweet/savoury development, punchy and spicy vs nice lingering maturing fruit. Yum - typically it's their dearest one: £27.99 Virgin Wines.
2013 Darling Cellars Black Granite bush vine Shiraz Coastal Region - spicy minty style with ripe berry fruits, quite soft and juicy vs punchy finish. Attractive now. £8.50 Amazon (case x 3), Wine Down £7.99 (case x 12).
2013 Darling Cellars Chocoholic Pinotage Coastal Region ('Ripasso' style with some dried grapes) - lush and smoky vs peppery and herby, big solid finish layered with chunky sweet fruit. £8.95-£10.99 The Drinks Shop, Great Grog, Oxford Wine Co., Paul Roberts Wines, Tesco.com, Harvey Nichols.
2012 Baker Station Reserve Shiraz Franschhoek Cellars - fairly rich and spicy with light coconut grain, firm 'chalky' tannins plus a bit of weight and roundness, drier on the finish. £7.49-£8.95 Fine Wines Direct, Village Wines, Corks Out, SA Wines Online.
2013 Rib Shack Red 'Extra Smooth' Pinotage/Shiraz Douglas Green - spicy berry and smoked red pepper then juicy and fairly soft palate, nice 'commercial' style. c. $10 widely available in the US; £7.39-£7.99 Amazon (case x 3), SA Wines Online.
2014 Douglas Green Pinotage - spicy smoky roasted red pepper notes mingle with peppery berries, again quite soft and juicy mouth-feel. £6.59 SA Wines Online.
2012 Bellingham Basket Press Syrah Stellenbosch (+ a splash of Viognier) - a touch of coconut grain with spicy berries, quite elegant and tight actually with subtle long finish. £11.60 Amazon (case x 3), £11.79 SA Wines Online.
2012 Boschendal Bush Vine Pinotage Stellenbosch/Darling (25+ year-old vines) - concentrated spicy berry, again tightly structured and quite elegant vs big and punchy, still needs some time in bottle but impressive. About £15.
2013 Brampton Estate Pinotage - spicy berry on the nose with roast red peppers, juicy vs grippy palate, attractive style.
2012 Brampton Estate Shiraz - peppery blackberry notes, then tight and 'chalky' tannins with nice combo of almost crunchy vs sweeter fruit, promising. £10.19 SA Wines Online.
2012 Welgemeend Amadé Grenache Syrah Pinotage Paarl - earthy and peppery, quite restrained and firm on the palate vs nice sweet berry and spice, fairly tightly structured 'Euro' style.
2012 Doolhof Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage Wellington - toasty roasted red pepper plus a smoky darker side, coffee and dark chocolate too, quite soft and silky though with tasty savoury flavours as well. £10+ UK, about $20 in the US.
2010 Major's Hill Pinotage Robertson - smoky roast red pepper and spice vs maturing savoury notes and a touch of coconut grain, fairly full and punchy on its lightly grippy finish. €17-€18 Searsons Wine Merchants, Baggot Street Wines (Dublin). £18.90 Catchpole Cellars.
2013 Lutzville Ebenhaeser Pinotage/Shiraz Oliphants - quite intense and spicy with firm tannins vs vibrant berry fruits and coffee vs roasted red pepper finish.
2012 Lutzville Pinotage François Le Vaillant - touch of coconut spice and grain vs fairly concentrated palate with spicy berry fruits, grippy but nice tannins with attractive savoury vs spicy combo finish. Good.
2014 Lutzville Shiraz - lively blackberry with blackcurrant too, juicy with a touch of grip then nice punchy peppery finish.
2012 Oak Valley Shiraz Elgin - coffee and mocha tones with spicy red peppery edges, lively and juicy palate with structured vs softer mix, smoky 'cooler' style.
2012 Ormonde Chip off the Old Block Shiraz Darling - intense mint/eucalyptus edges vs smoky dark berry fruit, quite concentrated and chunky/grippy vs attractive sweet/savoury fruit on the finish. Good stuff.
2012 Balance Pinotage Western Cape (mostly Swartland) - spicy nose with coffee vs red pepper, lively smoky berry fruit, soft-ish tannins with a little depth and grip to finish.
2010 Somerbosch Shiraz Stellenbosch - maturing savoury vs minty spicy nose, some firmness on the palate still vs nice maturing fruit with spicy berry and coffee tones, drinking well now.
2013 Cavalli Cheval d'Or Black Beauty Shiraz Western Cape - mocha vs roasted red pepper notes, peppery blackberry too with smoky savoury hints then lively finish with light grip. £10 Hard to Find Wines.
2012 Saronsberg Shiraz Tulbagh - coconut oak touches, fairly concentrated though with nice texture, still quite structured with peppery berry finish, needs a few more months/years to round out. £20 Adnams.
2011 Post House Missing Virgin (70% Pinotage 30% Petit Verdot, 15.5% abv) - lush and dark with a touch of oak vs attractive savoury side, chunky firm tannins vs rich and concentrated with gutsy finish for sure. Irony. About $30 in US, Classic Drinks in Ireland.
2012 Cloof 'The Very Sexy' Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Attractive style, deep purple black, nice peppery black fruit nose with earthy gamey edges even and a hint of coconut oak, quite punchy and spicy mouth-feel, ripe and rounded with light coco texture vs a tad of dry grip, enticing lingering ripe vs savoury fruit with some freshness too. Next day: more savoury and peppery with roast red pepper tones vs fairly rich dark olive vs blackberry and meaty edges. Drinking nicely now although there's no hurry. R75, £12-£13, €15.49.
2012 Cloof Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Apparently there's more oak on this wine but it doesn't really taste of it apart from a background note/texture. Nice wild herby/minty aromas with dark berry, cassis and cherry and liquorice vs savoury tones too; rounded and powerful with attractive tannins vs sweet fruit, roasted red pepper and meaty undertones, light bitter twist and grip on the finish vs a bit of punch and sweet/savoury flavours. Next day: meatier, mintier and spicier and a tad oakier wierdly (?) with that funky roasted red pepper vs cocoa/mocha notes too, sweet dark fruit vs firm and punchy vs rounded and textured, pretty concentrated as well with that light bitter twist adding a bit of edge. R120, £35?
The two reds above were both aged for 15 months in barrel with more new oak used for the second one, which is also only made from selected bush vine fruit with much lower yields. UK importer: Berkmann Wine Cellars, Cloof Wines UK; online: SA Wines Online, Wines U Like, All about Wine (£ prices stated). O'Brien's in Ireland (€) and many other international distributors.

19 November 2014

Rhône: Domaine Belle, Crozes-Hermitage

With their new-ish winery built in the village of Larnage, this very northern Rhone Valley producer (mostly Syrah and Syrah...) has slowly expanded over the years to 25 hectares (62 acres) of different vineyard parcels spread around several villages in the Crozes, Hermitage and St. Joseph appellations. Philippe Belle has been running the show for over 10 years now, and helped his father Albert shape the piecemeal whole into a fully fledged estate winery in the 90s.
www.domainebelle.com or via specialist exporter A Wine to Try.

Les Pierrelles 2011 Crozes-Hermitage (100% Syrah from specific vineyards in the village areas of Pont d’Isère and Mercurol, aged for 14 months in barrels) - hints of spicy vanilla oak on a structured backdrop, the fruit was a little overrun by the wood at that time perhaps, but the wine's got nice depth and mouth weight; probably just needed more time to round out fully.
Hermitage 2011 red (100% Syrah from Tain l’Hermitage from the 'lieu-dit' les Murets, aged 2+ years in barrels - 70% new oak) - pretty oaky too with big extracted yet concentrated mouth-feel, alluring dark and spicy Syrah fruit underneath (black cherry, damson and white pepper...); still rather youthful I think, should turn out pretty good in a few years...

08 May 2014

Roussillon: Mas Amiel update

There are already several words about Mas Amiel on this blog (searches for everything) and their wide range of wines, so I won't add too many more... But MA has launched a series of single block reds called 'Terres Rares' including 'Towards the North' tasting-noted below, which, apart from this vineyard's "does what it says on the label" exposure, comes from a two hectare "parcel" called La Devèze. In particular, plots of "old-vine black Grenache and Syrah (about 8% of the latter) on schist soil with sandstone, blueish limestone and clay," apparently. Anyway, what I liked especially about this red is, unlike some of Amiel's other non-Vin Doux Naturel wines (fortified sweet reds) made a little too Bordeaux-y, it isn't smothered in flashy new oak and really lets the pure Grenache fruit and some kind of intense wild French Mediterranean thing shine through.

Vers le Nord Maury sec 2012 (Grenache, Syrah; 14% abv) - delicious ripe yet floral Grenache nose with dark berries, kirsch, liquorice, pepper and almost wild thyme/pine too; lush concentrated and structured with lovely supple vs 'chalky' tannins, powerful and spicy with nice bite; closes up on its youthful fruit finish, needs some time to open up. Quite classy red. Amiel's wines are listed in the UK and Ireland by e.g. The Perfect Cellar, Lea & Sandeman and Bubble Brothers, although none of them sell this one yet as it's new, as I said. €19.50 cellar door.

And these were (re)tasted recently in London as a reminder of how tasty their 'traditional' Maurys are, made in two very different styles (the link at the top takes you to more info about VDN winemaking). Although they do also remind us, along with the "dry" Maury above, that Amiel's wines are expensive; there's no other way of saying it!

Maury Vintage 2008 (Grenache, 16% abv) - smoky tobacco and developing savoury tones vs sweet blackberry and spice, still young vs maturing meaty side, quite elegant actually for a fortified red. £29.99
Maury 15 Ans d'Age (blend of ages averaging at least 15 years, or something like that; Grenache, Macabeu, Carignan, 16% abv) - "red Madeira" style, complex with cooked red fruits and tangy nutty flavours, long and intricate finish; lovely VDN. £49.99

23 December 2013

Roussillon and Languedoc: "festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate" (part 2)

Further to these recent words of wisdom on my WineWriting.com blog: Spain v Australia: festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate (goes there naturally), which also includes a little insight into fine chocolate making and the different types... Here are some more "festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate," this time sourced from the Languedoc and the Roussillon. When talking about "wine with chocolate," many people - okay, wino people rather than normal people at least - think of rugged Roussillon country and its sometimes sublime red vins doux naturels or fortified sweet reds based on Grenache, especially Banyuls from the southeastern corner bordering Spain or Maury in the region's northern flank nudging up against the Corbières hills.

Those famous demijohns, slightly predictable target for a photo, outside at Mas Amiel: mostly empty as this type of traditional 'oxidative' ageing is now only used for a small proportion of their Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) production. Photo: Vi Erickson.
Mas Amiel is arguably the most famous name in the Maury area (with suitably celeb prices to match, you might be tempted to add) and particularly well known for its old vintages. We were treated to their 1980 (in magnum no less, a special millennium bottling aged for nearly 20 years in demijohns and large casks beforehand; 16.5% abv) at the 'wine with chocolate' tasting event featured in the post mentioned at the top of the page (follow that link for more info). I've tasted this vintage before in situ (goes to profile and notes on MA penned in 2007, 2009, 2010 and updated earlier this year), although not sure if it's exactly the same wine, as that 1980 had one of their regular 'Millésime' labels, implying vintage style i.e. aged for a relatively short time in cask and the rest in bottle. In any case, the 1980 "millennium" was delicious and a fine match for the Co Couture chocs in front of us, especially the chilli flavour actually. Browning in colour with intriguing meat gravy vs liquorice nose, rich and concentrated with lush mouth-feel vs nice bite and developing savoury flavours; still alive with complex long maturing finish. Yum. £85 magnum.
Also from Maury, made by the worth-visiting Vignerons de Maury co-op winery found in the village, comes their Cuvée Centenaire (specially brewed in 2010 to celebrate 100 years, obviously; 16% abv), which was quite orangey brown with 'volatile' red-Madeira notes and sweet dried fruits vs meaty mature cheesy palate; particularly good with the ginger chocolate. About £23. More of their wines are HERE (St-Bacchus Awards) and probably elsewhere on the blog too. Banyuls was well represented by one of its top VDN producers Domaine du Mas Blanc with their 2000 Vieilles Vignes label (old vines; 16.5% abv): oxidised intricate mature-cheesy nose, lush vs savoury palate with complex toffee and dried raspberry flavours, long smooth finish. The plain choc and sea salt flavoured one almost freshened up the wine, not so good with the ginger though funnily enough. £27 approx. More on DMB HERE.
Moving on to a few 'regular' Roussillon and Languedoc reds, not deliberately tasted with chocolate (but might have been unintentionally) in recent weeks. Firstly, a pair from Naked Wines. Benjamin Darnault's 2012 La Cuvée Réservée Cotes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache, Syrah; 14.5% abv, bottled in the Aude though?) is deep purple black in colour, a 'modern' style big fruity and spicy red; peppery blackberry with firm grip vs 'sweet' rounded palate, nice dry texture vs ripe berry fruit, liquorice and spice with punchy alcohol on its lively finish. Attractive good+ co-op level red, okay at £8.49 ('Angel' price) but not worth £11.49 ('normal': more here about Naked's pricing). Same could perhaps be said about their 2012 Le Petit Train Syrah (£8.25 or £10.99) made by Katie Jones, although this wine was apparently specially commissioned by Naked after Katie was sabotaged by some jealous thug, who broke in and poured away an entire vintage of her white wine. So, there's an "investment in people" type story behind it (as is Naked's self-acclaimed style generally). Anyway, it's a very nice red showing touches of sweet coconut oak layered with really ripe black cherry/olive even, soft fruity and rounded mouth-feel with a hint of herby spice vs a light bitter twist of tannins/acidity and blast of warmth. Kept well after opening too, turning softer with the oak less obvious and nice sweet black cherry/olive fruit vs light grip.
Finishing off in Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc back-lands, I've picked out just a few of my favourites from a trip last month, which were winners in a "Grand Cru selection" competition I was on the tasting panel for. CLICK HERE for my full-monty St-Chinian special supplement, which costs £3 (about €4/$4.50) as it's not viewable on this blog (emailed as a PDF). Features several leading estates (and places to eat and stay), including Domaines Canet Valette, Cambis, Jougla, Cazal Viel, La Madura, La Femme Allongée, Boissezon Guiraud, Milhau-Lacugue and more! In the meantime then...
Laurent Miquel Bardou 2008 (100% Syrah) – still quite toasty coconut with spicy dark fruit vs nice meaty edges, the oak melts into it adding a touch of chocolatey texture/flavour, nice tannins and concentration for a 2008; still quite young and structured with substance. Good stuff. €19
La Grange Léon D'une main à l'autre 2011 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache) - herbal red pepper, liquorice and perfumed white pepper; quite lush with ripe berry fruit, soft and approachable with bit of weight, freshness and length. Nice now. €16

Domaine la Linquière 310 La Sentenelle 2011 - lovely wild garrigue notes (= reminds of heathland flora!) plus sweet liquorice vs peppery fruit, soft tasty and quite elegant finish. €18
Borie la Vitarèle Les Crès 2005 (Mourvèdre, Syrah) - savoury touches vs dark cherry, nice 'chalky' tannins with a touch of freshness, tight and elegant, still relatively young really, lovely savoury vs liquorice and spice finish. €18.50

Above prices are cellar door in France, so these are all towards dear wines although among the producers' top cuvées; or would be in the UK, Ireland or US once you slap on eye-watering taxes!

24 April 2013

Southern Rhône: Domaine de Dionysos, Uchaux

Apparently this vineyard goes back to the 18th century, when the Farjon family left Marseille to escape the plague (rather than traffic or gangsters nowadays) and landed in Uchaux to the north of Orange. It was named 'Dionysos' in 1974 by Benjamin's grandfather, the latest generation to get stuck into the earth, in partnership with winegrower Dimitri Théodosiou who owns vineyards in the Visan area. The estate is now certified organic, and these two guys have recently turned their attentions to "working with biodynamics." Varieties planted are what you'd expect for this southern Rhône Valley region: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, "very old" Carignan and Viognier. Some of these wines are available in Ireland at Byrne hotels (three in Galway and one in Dublin) and Direct Wines/Laithwaite's in the UK (see £ below). Also sold "in the US and elsewhere in Europe" I was told: more @ domainededionysos.com.

2012 La Devèze Viognier - lovely perfumed honeyed apricot notes, juicy and rich palate with a bit of oomph (14% abv), attractive sunny style.
2012 La Devèze rosé Côtes du Rhône (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault) - juicy red fruits with oily/nutty edges, lively cherry fruit with nice bite on the finish.
2011 La Devèze red Côtes du Rhône (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan) - delicious 'sweet' liquorice and spice, soft and tasty palate, lovely easy-going style. £9.99 for the 2010 at Laithwaite's.
2011 La Cigalette Cairanne (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre mostly) - similar enticing Grenache-led profile with liquorice, ripe raspberry and peppery edges; more concentrated though with firmer mouth-feel and fairly powerful, but still drinking nicely now. £10.99 for the 2010 at Laithwaite's.
2012 Toute nue pour votre plaisir (Syrah with no added SO2 - nue meaning naked or bare) - lovely pure and spicy fruit, quite soft and layered with dark cherry Syrah fruit, bit of grip on the finish vs tasty and fruity.

22 January 2013

Rhône: Cave de Tain: big co-ops part 1

The sizeable Cave de Tain l'Hermitage co-operative winery dominates the 'big-boy' field in the northern Rhône Valley, although that's not necessarily a bad thing at all when you taste right across their varied range (or even just drink a glass or two of one of them, of course); including a rare back-cellar of some excellent older vintages too (e.g. 1990 red noted at bottom of page), if you're lucky enough to get the chance. I wouldn't be the first or last one to say that they almost always make very reliable Crozes-Hermitage red, which is nicely representative of pure tasty fruity spicy Syrah (all their reds are 100% sexy Syrah) and widely imported under many own-labels into many countries (see web link below photo for more info). Or white Crozes for that matter: as you'll see here, Cave de Tain's white wines, and northern Rhône whites in general other than that trophy-hunter wine Condrieu perhaps (and I can see why), are sometimes overlooked but definitely worth a look (although not always all of them...)

Steep Syrah steps from www.cavedetain.com
A few quick facts & figures might help set the scene here, although I'm not going to rehash everything on their site. The co-op growers' total wine-lands come to over 1000 ha (about 2500 acres; told you they were 'big'), and they do own vineyards in certain top sites especially the Hermitage, Cornas and Saint Joseph cru appellations. These growers are backed up by the usual, and essential, modern winery operation with a solid team of winemakers, marketeers, sales people etc. Something worth pointing out in particular is Cave de Tain's recently restored estate and property, Le Fief de Gambert de Loche, found among precious Hermitage hillside vine-land. This has become a kind of wine tourism centre focusing on the area's history and the Syrah variety, and regular tutored tasting events can be booked and are held in situ. If you're planning on staying around here, two co-op grower families have holiday accommodation available: again check out the CdT site.
I sampled these wines with the export manager on their UK importer's stand, Boutinot Wines, at the London International Wine Fair last year (yet more forgotten-about notes, still worth resurrecting though). Prices are in euros per bottle for cases of six bought on-line, to give you an idea.

White - all 100% Marsanne

2011 Marsanne - attractive yeast-lees notes with white peach fruit, honeyed and creamy too vs crisp mouth-feel with the odd aniseed flavour. Nice style and good value. €3.50
2010 Crozes-Hermitage - similar characters to above although quite closed up when I tried it, probably more intense yet seems to fall a little flat in the end? €7.90
2003 Hermitage - rich colour and oxidized nutty nose, toasted hazelnut notes, rounded and buttery vs mineral tones, surprisingly complex and alive still underneath all those lovely developed flavours (03 was a very hot vintage). About €25?
2008 Hermitage Au Coeur des Siecles (selected from two 100 year-old vineyards) - nutty maturing nose/palate vs fresh mouth-feel underneath, buttery and toasty vs crisp mineral and classy. Serious foodie. €30


2010 Syrah - nice simple aromatic peppery style, light easy and tasty. €3.50
2009 St-Joseph - aromatic perfumed Syrah with spicy black cherry, firm vs ripe mouth-feel, nice balance and style with enticing lingering minty fruit. About €10.
2010 Crozes-Hermitage - floral spicy typical young Syrah nose, firm and tangy vs delicious simple fruit. €7.90
2009 Les Hauts de Fief Crozes-Hermitage (plot selection) - a bit heavy on the pencil-shaving / coconut oak, although has lively fruit too; solid vs maturing tones, concentrated but a touch samey on the winemaking front. €11.80
2007 Cornas Arenes Sauvages - smoky maturing meaty nose with peppery tones, still structured vs nicely maturing, has power weight and grip vs lovely fruit. Great stuff. €22
2009 Hermitage - touches of oak on the nose, quite closed up and firm still vs lots of ripe dark fruit lurking in there; punchy on its tight taut finish, not expressing itself so well at the moment but has great potential. About €25.
1990 Hermitage - a classic vintage in the Rhone, north and south from memory. Complex leather and tobacco notes, meaty vs dried dark 'sweet' fruit, still has plenty of substance vs developing savoury fruit; firm vs rounded mouth-feel on its long tasty classy finish. Wow. Yum.

More Crozes et al on this blog:
Wine touring feature here (2007 road-trip).

Southern French reds @ Marks & Spencer's (Nov 2011).

Big French co-ops part 2 to follow soon on www.winewriting.com:

10 July 2012

Rhône: Domaine Jean David, Séguret

Jean David
I met Jean at the lunch table at Millésime Bio organic wine fair in Montpellier earlier this year, where he had a bottle of one of his commanding 2010 reds open for sampling with the nosh (organic of course). This cuvée is a touch different from the norm around these wild and spectacular parts (and in their range too), as it's made predominantly from old Carignan (47%) followed by the staple Grenache (31), Mourvèdre (11) and splashes of Syrah (8) and Counoise (3). The blend is done this way as it's sourced from a particular plot among 16 ha (40 acres) overall, where these vine varieties are all mixed up together roughly in these proportions; hence this wine's made in ye olde "field blend" style. Jean and Martine David are fair old-timers when it comes to organics, as they've been doing it in their vineyards since 1989. Respek. Séguret is one of those lovely old-as-time villages stuck on a hill and a stand-alone Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation lying somewhere between Gigondas and Rasteau in the shadow of the brooding Dentelles de Montmirail hills. They make six other wines, which I look forward to trying sometime somewhere.
More @ www.domaine-jean-david.com where, for a nice change, they say, accurately, they don't use synthetic chemicals etc. Unlike some organic growers who conveniently make generalizations about not using any chemicals, as if explaining the details doesn't matter. My point being many consumers are a bit confused and believe organic means no chemicals, which clearly isn't the case (sulphur, sulphur dioxide, copper based treatments...). These are considered 'natural', which, well, they are, and are sanctioned and difficult to do without (although some are trying with varying results...). Sorry to be pedantic but worth repeating my little rant just to clarify!

2010 Cuvée Beau Nez Séguret (14.5%) - chunky vs aromatic style, powerful with lush dark fruit, firm and punchy finish with meaty savoury notes too. Needs a few months to open up but it's good stuff.

More Côtes du Rhône Séguret profiles and wines to follow (Domaine de Mourchon...)


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.