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Showing posts with label southern Rhone Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label southern Rhone Valley. Show all posts

27 October 2016

Intriguing white blends 'of the moment' - Rhone Valley vs Austria!

Matthias Krön and Markus Bach from Groszer Wein, (c) Manfred Klimek

Don't be put off by the retro-flowery-wallpaper label and litre bottle size (something of a 'USP' perhaps to use the marketing babble), the new 2015 Csaterberg 'field blend' (to use the old speak) from quirky Austrian winery Groszer Wein is a delicious mix of appley/cider notes and aromatic greengage layered with ripe creamy nutty 'oxidised' edges, nice yeast-lees intensity, pretty concentrated and textured too with full-bodied (13.5% abv) and nutty almost savoury finish, yet lively and dry with a 'salty' tang. Went well with 'baked salmon in watercress sauce and asparagus' (ho hum, M&S should stock it maybe!).
I'm told Matthias Krön and Markus Bach at Groszer Wein (pic. above) have three hectares of vines here, 'located on the south-east side of the Klein-Csaterberg... a south-west extension of the Eisenberg' (hillside vineyard and now a separate sub-zone) in Austria's Südburgenland region. The blend is created from 30+ year-old Welschriesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, 'macerated for 24 hours,' hence the towards-'orange' colour and style, before pressing then 'fermented with wild yeasts in 500 litre barrels and in stainless steel.' So now you know the full story. It's expensive at £25 in the UK - apparently 'only 3000 bottles have been produced' - but this tasty white has got plenty of flavour and you get a big bottle to share! Available from Newcomer Wines in London. Previous words on Groszer Wein HERE.

Not remotely connected to the above but probably got opened around the same time (and I thought it would make a nice 'theme'), leading southern Rhone Valley estate Domaine Brusset has released their Cairanne blanc 2015 Côtes du Rhône Villages crafted from an equally intriguing blend of white varieties: Grenache Blanche (as they spell it on the back-label, although I thought Grenache is 'masculine' hence we usually say 'blanc'), Viognier and Roussanne, 30% of it fermented in oak with lees-stirring adding zestiness, nutty creaminess and texture without any obvious oaky flavours, surprisingly floral and elegant actually (13% abv); good stuff. About £12-£14 in the UK (Great Western Wine, Big Red Wine Co.); €16.50 Mitchell & Son Dublin; US: Adrian Chalk Selection (NY); Canada: Rogers & Company (Ontario).
Also tried their 2014 'vieilles vignes' Cairanne red, which, although concentrated and structured, was a bit overly firm and lacking charm (probably needs leaving for a couple of years to see what happens...).
Previous words on Domaine Brusset HERE.

23 December 2015

Grenache reds: Rhône and Roussillon, Rasteau and Amiel

Here's a diverse trio of 'black' Grenache (as the French call the variety) based winter warmers from the southern Rhône Valley and northern Roussillon, which are new releases or vintages from Cave de Rasteau and Mas Amiel (links to some previous words on and recommendations from those two wineries).


Wild boar lurking outside Mas Amiel's shop
Photo by Vi Erickson

2014 Rasteau Tradition (70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and old-vine Carignan) - Actually quite soft and fruity with wild herb/peppery edges, chunky and rich mouth-feel with light bite to finish; a bit too quaffable for a 14% abv red, so food is advised! Cellar door €8.30. Hercules Wine Warehouse in England used to stock these wines, but there were none on their site when I looked. O'Briens off licences in Ireland.
2011 Rasteau Prestige (50 year-old vines: 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre; part of the wine spent one year in oak, 14.5% abv) - Lush spicy black fruits with liquorice and wild herb/mint hints, big and rounded palate yet quite structured still although drinking well too. Yum, delicious hearty red. Cellar door €10.30. O'Briens.
2009 Mas Amiel Origine (sourced from three schist-y hillside plots: Grenache from a spot called Cabirou planted in 1914, Carignan from La Devèze planted in 1952 and young Syrah from the same vineyard; the latter two varieties were aged 14 months in large tuns, not fined or filtered; 14.5% abv) - Maturing meaty and leather edges layered with liquorice and sweet black cherry/berry, complex earthy wild herb notes as well; lush and full-on with savoury vs dark ripe and spicy fruit, punchy and grippy still yet rounded and maturing, dense and concentrated too with lingering liquorice and light bitter twist on the finish. Serious wine and serious price inevitably: cellar door €26.50, The Perfect Cellar (London) £30.

28 November 2014

Côtes du Rhône mini-focus

Here's a Grenache and Syrah infused selection of various and varied southern Rhône Valley producers with some of their worth-mentioning winter-warming reds, which I've stumbled across over the last few months...
 From rasteau.com

Les Vignerons d'Estézargues
A mini-co-op winery formed by 10 growers in and around the village of Estézargues, where their cellar is located, which lies roughly between Avignon and the famous Pont du Gard viaduct (without mentioning the Romans). They favour a 'natural' winemaking approach apparently (who doesn't nowadays). These two cost about £10.95-£13.95 at Roberson's in London (so posh prices then); and the US importer is Jenny & François selections.
Les Galets 2012 Côtes du Rhône (Grenache, Carignan; organic, 13.5% abv) - perfumed nose, quite light texture (although not in alcohol) with tasty berry fruit finish.
Grés Saint-Vincent 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault; organic, 14% abv) - similar profile perhaps although more concentrated, powerful and elegant too, paradoxically, with a light bitter twist of tannin.

Domaine Saint Etienne
Michel Coullomb's vineyards lie on rolling pebbley terrain around a little place called Montfrin, sitting pretty much smack in the middle of a crow-flies line between Nimes and Avignon (just in the Languedoc technically). Available from Leon Stolarski Fine Wines in the UK (£ price quoted) and Mitchell & Son in Dublin (€).
Perserose 2012 IGP Pays du Gard (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan; 14% abv) - easy-going red, nice sweet liquorice fruit plus a bit of oomph to finish. £7.75
Les Galets 2010 Côtes du Rhône Villages (2/3 Grenache, 1/3 Syrah; 13.5% abv) - attractive Grenache-dominant style showing white pepper and liquorice flavours, fairly concentrated too with balanced soft vs grippy mouth-feel. €17.99 Ireland
Cocagne 2011 Côtes du Rhône (Syrah, Grenache) - hints of toasted choco oak, lots of minty dark cherry fruit though, rich vs firm palate with concentrated finish; nice style. €18.50 cellar door.

Domaine de Mourchon
There's a short-and-sweet profile (scribbled a couple of years ago) of this quite exciting off-the-beaten track estate winery in wild Séguret country, owned by the McKinlay family, and some of their previously tasted vintages HERE. A trio of more recent releases are reviewed for your pleasure below. UK: the Wine Company (Colchester), Big Red Wine Co. (£ prices quoted). Good distribution in the US it seems: the two 'Villages' reds here are about $20+ and $25-$30.
La Source 2012 Côtes du Rhône white (Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette, Bourboulenc) - charming honeysuckle notes, yeast-lees and peachy fruit; quite rich and tasty with nice crisp touch too. £9.59
Tradition 2011 Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - enticing sweet liquorice and dark berry fruit, hints of spice and dry grip vs fairly soft and tasty finish. £10 (case price) to £13.99 a bottle.
Grande Reserve 2011 Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (Grenache, Syrah; older vines) - earthier and chunkier, punchy 15.5% alcohol layered with lots of lush dark fruit vs good bite too. Wow. £18.99

Cave de Rasteau

You'll find previous words on this fairly go-getting co-op HERE (about their sumptuous fortified red Vin Doux Naturel) that basically forms the backbone of the Rasteau village appellation, supplemented by a handful of very good independent estates (some of them are linked below); and HERE as well (note on the 2011 'Tradition'). Here's what I thought of two of their latest vintage releases.
Ortas 'Tradition' 2012 Rasteau (Grenache 70%, Syrah 20%, Mourvèdre 10%, 14.5% abv) - Deceptively fruity and soft at first, turning warmer and more powerful, plenty of tasty blackberry/cherry, damson and liquorice with earthy touches; a hint of dry grip vs sweet ripe fruit, spice and oomph to finish. Drinking nicely now. €7.90 cellar door, £9.95 Hercules Wine Warehouse (Kent, UK), €14.49 O'Brien's (Ireland).
'Prestige' 2010 Rasteau (Grenache 50%, Syrah 35%, Mourvèdre 15% from very stony hillside terraces, small proportion aged in oak; 14.5% abv) - rich ripe and earthy with liquorice and kirsch notes, peppery and minty too; concentrated, powerful, solid and grippy vs lush dark berry fruit with spicy edges; tightens up on the finish, still a bit young although drinking well with the right kind of food, e.g. Chinese roast duck actually. €18.49 O'Brien's, €10 cellar door.



Other Côtes du Rhône stuff elsewhere on this site you might like to glance at:

And there's a bit of 'blurb and bottles' from the northern Rhône as well lying craftily below this post (or click here:) Domaine Belle, Crozes-Hermitage.


25 July 2010

Hot southern French winey summer, part 3: unknown Rhone

The southern Ardeche to be precise, or "Ardèche méridionale" in French which has a "sexier south" ring to it somehow. It's difficult not to be wowed by the stunningly varied and wild countryside in the southern chunk of this huge "département," which spans out from the Rhone river itself (the eastern flank stretches along almost the entire length of those more familiar northern to southern Rhone valley wine areas) way out west into the Cévennes hills on the edge of the Massif Central mountain range; marked by the winding Ardeche river and those spectacular gorges it's carved out over time and dotted with myriad hilltop villages teetering with history.
Wine producers, along with the tourist board, restaurant & hotel owners, museums & sites etc. have really got their act together in this neck of the woods. There's a comprehensive programme of winey and other things to do on this site: lesvinsdardeche.com. And a resumé below of my findings and feelings gleaned from a flying visit to the area last month.
Update: a full-monty wine travel feature on the Ardeche has been published here, packed with nice wineries to check out (40 reds, whites and rosés recommended) and places to go, eat & stay. A taster:
"One of a handful of emerging Rhone valley wine areas but still not well known outside of France, the southern Ardeche is nurturing some surprising good, and great value, fruity peppery Grenache and Syrah based reds and rosés, as well as tasty contemporary whites (made from Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache blanc in particular)." There are three distinct wine appellations:
Cotes du Rhone and CdR Villages around Bourg-Saint-Andéol in the southeast corner (northwest of Orange) - a few recommended estates here (generally, the southern Ardeche is dominated by sometimes well-run, now amalgamated co-op cellars) include Domaine de Couron, Mas de Libian, Domaine Nicolas Croze, Domaine du Chapitre (his sublime 1999 CdRV shows how well some of the reds can age), Domaine Coulange and the St-Just St-Marcel co-op.
Heading to the west and north: Cotes du Vivarais - names to look out for include Clos de L'Abbé Dubois, Vignerons Ardechois, Domaine Notre Dame de Cousignac, Mas de Bagnols and Cave d'Orgnac l'Aven. This region is also home to the fragrant Lavender Museum surrounded by rolling lavender fields, where they still produce their own addictive lavender oils and other products.
Keep going west and north: vins de pays des Coteaux de l'Ardeche and the new IGP ("indication géographique protégée") Ardeche zone - very good value varietals and blends from e.g. Domaine de Peyrebrune, Domaine du Colombier, Domaine de Cassagnole, Cave d'Alba La Romaine, Domaine de Pecoulas, Domaine du Grangeon. And not forgetting Cave Co-op La Cévenole, "passionate defenders" of (drum roll)... the Chatus variety! An obscure local red grape, which seems capable of making long-lived structured reds and is being gradually replanted on certain terraced hillside sites...
My full article on WW.com also features a couple of restaurant and hotel recommendations; and, in addition to the Ardeche gorges being canoeing heaven by the way, there are several well-organised "wine routes" and some of the producers mentioned above lay on tailor-made mini-tours and tastings for small groups, as well as offering holiday gite or B&B accommodation. Another wine event to pencil in in the meantime: Sunday 8th August, the Fête des Vignerons Ardéchois in Ruoms with entertainment, tastings and live music.
Picture = "Chèvre chaud rôti aux amandes et à la farine de châtaigne" (baked goats' cheese with almonds and chestnut flour (chestnuts, in many different guises, are a huge local speciality) with a nice white wine from www.lesvinsdardeche.com

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