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09 September 2011

Languedoc: Domaine Ledogar, Corbières

From dynamicvines.com/producer/domaine-ledogar
Xavier Ledogar took over running this 22 hectare (55 acre) estate in 1997, which gently sprawls around the rather quiet village of Ferrals-les-Corbières. He's now working entirely with back-breaking, and very time-consuming, biodynamic techniques focusing particularly on organic fertilizers (bullshit, obviously, or sheep or donkey even as he does use a handsome couple as vineyard workers: follow the link under the pic above then click on "more photos"...), herbal and plant ‘teas’ (used as natural insecticide sprays), while closely watching those lunar cycles, man... These three wines are available via their UK importer Dynamic Vines priced from approx £6 to £15. Usual comment applies to mysterious 1, 2, 3...

2008 “Tout Nature” red vin de table (Mourvèdre, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah; no SO2) - meaty baked edges, rich vs crunchy fruit, lovely intense mouth-feel with subtle grip and lively finish. 2
2006 Corbières-Boutenac red (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) - herby edges vs maturing and liquorice tones, still grippy palate with hints of cedary oak, lush vs tight profile; not so sure, lacks charm perhaps. 1
2010 white Corbières (Chenin Blanc, Macabeu, Grenache Blanc & Gris) - honey vs apple aromas, intense and concentrated vs rounded and oily texture. Yum. 2

05 September 2011

Languedoc: Clos Fantine, Faugères

The Andrieu family is the brains and brawn behind Clos Fantine, one of several high-quality estates dotted around the ‘village’ of Cabrerolles in the generally exciting Faugères appellation lying to the north of Béziers. They say their red wines see very "natural" handling as they're made with wild yeasts, no added sulphur dioxide and not fined or filtered, which can be a bit risky but the result speaks for itself here. Their extraordinary white is fashioned from the disappearing Terret variety, which you find here and there in isolated spots in the Languedoc and can make eyebrow-raising full-flavoured dry white wines, as you can see from my glowing note below. The downside of rarity and lovely quirkiness is a hefty price tag: this white goes for about £15-£20 from importer Les Caves de Pyrène, among one or two other wine merchants in London, while their enticing red is nearer £10…
2009 “Valcabrières” white (Terret) - oxidising style vs peach and dried apricot aromas/flavours, ‘sappy’ too; rich intense mouth-feel, concentrated yet elegant, quirky stuff. 2-3
2009 “Tradition” red Faugères (Mourvèdre, Carignan, Grenache) - quite ‘baked’ tones but this has lush ripe liquorice fruit, meaty and concentrated palate with solid yet still rounded tannins, pretty intense finish. 2
As usual, more on "1, 2, 3" on the right...

Spain: Bobal, Monastrell, Garnacha, Tempranillo

This loosely connected lightening-tour tasting of half-a-dozen reds takes in a couple or so “modern classics,” kind of, ranging from northern Spain and heading towards the southeast coast, and all mostly made from sunny Med-red grape varieties. These wines are available from independent wine stores and on-line retailers supplied by UK importer and agent boutinot.com (more info there, they do also sell certain wines in the US): I've now updated it with a few outlets and approx prices. For total wisdom regarding my back-to-basics 1 - 2 - 3 "scoring system", just move your eyes a few cm to the right.
Miguel Gil

2009 Pasión de Bobal Utiel-Requena region (near Valencia: Bobal is native to this area) - juicy black fruits and spices, nice and lively mouth-feel, quite punchy too vs soft tannins. 1+
£11 Virginwines.co.uk, Selfridges, D. Byrne.
2009 Juan Gil Monastrell (= Mourvèdre/Mataro), Jumilla region - full-of-beans 'modern' red with spicy blackberry fruit and a touch of vanilla oak, again has that attractive rounded vs punchy combo. 2
£8 Noel Young, Great Grog.
2008 Clio Monastrell/Cabernet Sauvignon, Jumilla - still quite oaky yet has spicy attention-grabbing style with rich concentrated palate, dry vs sweet tannins/fruit to finish. 2
£35 Noel Young, Hanging Ditch.
2008 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja - also quite smoky oaky vs juicy liquorice, peppery too with oomph and supple tannins, chocolatey yet lush-fruity mouth-feel. 2
£13 Wines of Interest, Woodwinters.
2009 Borsao Mítico Garnacha, Campo de Borja - enticing juicy vs chunky Grenache style, spicy and powerful vs sweet liquorice finish. 1+
£6 Asda
2009 Mesomeros de Castilla, Ribera del Duero - fairly tight and closed up, grainy texture vs intense berry fruit, fiery finish almost vs solid tannins, needs 6 to 12 months to express itself better but promising. 2
£9 Virginwines.co.uk, PW Amps.

04 September 2011

Belfast Wine Festival, the aftermath…

Belfast's first Wine Festival appeared to go swingingly last Bank Holiday Monday at St. George's market, which proved a perfectly satisfactory venue for the show (light enough, laid-back, has a lived-in food & drinkie feel to it). As I mentioned in my previous post, Olly Smith was on hand to liven up a couple of tastings with his usual enthusiasm or throw in wine matching tips for the chef demos that also took place live. There were a few good food stands there too, including Spanish caterer Tapitas who did a tasty wee platter of tapas for a fiver (paella, cured ham, chorizo, tortilla...) and the Co. Down Honey Farm (Crossgar) matching it with goats' cheese, sweet wines etc.
One small criticism perhaps: seems a tad mean to charge £16.50 entry, then another £5 if people wanted to try a further wave of ten wines (and then another fiver for the big samplers...). I appreciate the organiser would want to make a decent profit and it's not wise to let people 'try' as many as they like... But why not, e.g. put out more tip-buckets and encourage punters that they don't have to drain every drop in their glass (naïve, moi)?! I've knocked up notes on my twenty-something favourite wines deemed to be very good for one reason or another: post a comment if you agree or disagree, or with yours…

Torres' Fransola vineyard, Upper Penedès

Whites
Italy: 2009 Primo Bianco Vermentino di Sardegna (13% alc.) – lovely example of the usually pleasant-surprise Vermentino grape variety, with floral honeysuckle aromas and peachy lightly tropical fruit notes, weighty vs elegant mouth-feel, tasty and intense finish. £10.99
France: 2009 Patrick Piuze Petit Chablis (Chardonnay, 12.5% alc.) – riper and fruitier (and less expensive) than a still good 2008 Chablis on show (by Domaine des Marronniers), this has nice classic creamy vs quite ‘mineral’ profile, attractive juicy fruit with good bite and zest. £14.99
2010 La Croix Gratiot Roussanne, Domaine Sainte Croix, Languedoc (13.5%) – quite rich with perfumed honey blossom and subtle toasty / yeast lees edges, nice balance of oomph and interesting flavours as the Roussanne grape often delivers. £9.49
South Africa: 2010 Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling, Elgin (the most southerly region on the coast, 10.5% alc.) - gorgeous linseed-oily and honeyed tones, rich sweet palate with dried apricot, pineapple, honey and citrus flavour combo vs attractive underlying fresh acidity. £12.49 half-bottle.
Spain: Torres 2009 Waltraud Riesling, Penedès (13%) - Torres must be the only one in Spain to plant Riesling (?), up in the hills northwest of Barcelona (see photo above taken from torres.es), and what a result! Floral 'mineral' style, quite intense and definitely Riesling-like showing hints of ripe citrus and oily development on nose/palate with enticing 'chalky' bite. £9.99

Rosé: Torres 2010 De Casta rosado, Catalunya (13.5%) - much simpler wine than above, and totally different of course, but this typical Catalan rosé is always enjoyable vintage after vintage. Ripe perfumed raspberry and rose petal notes, quite full-on mouth-feel with rounded vs crisp finish. £7.99

Reds
Italy: 2010 Gran Sasso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (the grape, the region) - tasty chunky red with liquorice tones and hints of coconut, powerful firm palate with well-integrated oak and ripe vs dry finish, good stuff. £9.99
2005 Allegrini La Poja, Verona (100% Corvina variety from a single vineyard, 14.5%) - complex maturing nose with savoury and old-wood tones, has a fair kick and acidity too lending nice bite to its grip, quite fine actually with attractive maturing fruit. £57!
2007 Allegrini Amarone Classico (same area as above, different grapes and winemaking 15.5%) - full-on style with maturing fig, date and liquorice fruit; grippy vs sweet-fruit palate, pretty classic Amarone style, tastes rounder and older than the above, funnily enough. £49
South Africa: 2010 Ernie Els Big Easy, Western Cape (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Viognier; 14.5%) - some varietal blend that, giving a punchy spicy red with herby minty tones vs dark fruits and liquorice, concentrated solid mouth-feel with 'sweet/savoury' profile and plenty of flavour; very South African but 'modern' if you follow me. £14.99
2008 Glenelly Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch (14.5%) - hints of coconut oak layered with concentrated 'inky' cassis fruit, quite extracted tannins vs rich liquorice too, big smoky and lush vs tangy finish. Pretty serious stuff, successful SA / Bordeaux combo (the owner was a top chateau owning nob from the latter). £10.99
2008 Glenelly Lady May Stellenbosch (91% Cabernet Sauvignon & 9% Petit Verdot, to be precise! 14.5% alc.) - even more Pauillac leaning, leafy vs spicy new-oak edges, concentrated firm and tight palate vs tasty long finish and lingering 'sweet/savoury' fruit. Wow. I'd perhaps prefer a touch more ripeness / less austere style although classy stuff. £25
2008 Spice Route Mourvèdre (14.5%) - spicy minty nose with a bit of slightly clunky oak, this has good substance though with again those herbal red pepper tones vs punchy dark fruit palate and chocolate oak texture. £9.99

All the wines above were supplied by Nick's Wines (Belfast, on-line) / Harry's Road Fine Wines (wholesale to restaurants). 
These reds below are available from Mundus Wine Company (Belfast):
Australia: 2008 Crackerjack Riverbend Shiraz/Viognier, Victoria (14%) - oak spice and black pepper notes plus sweet black cherry and blackberry; rounded mouth-feel with sweet fruit vs oomph and dry grip, aromatic too on the finish and fairly classy in the end. £11.99
2008 Nick Faldo Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra/South Australia (made by Katnook Estate, 13.5%) - cassis and coconut on the nose, quite intense palate with 'sweet/savoury' fruit, attractive tannins and punch vs tasty maturing and subtle too.
2007 O'Leary Walker Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills/S. Australia (12.5%) - elegant and juicy with typical 'sweet/savoury' perfumed Pinot style, fresh bite and a bit of oomph too, quite fine and long on the finish. £15.99
2003 O'Leary Walker The Ghan Sleeper Reserve Shiraz, Southern Flinders Ranges/S. Aus (15%) - delicious maturing meaty nose with liquorice and spice too, complex and big chewy mouthful, lush and concentrated, powerful yet with soft tannins; tasty foodie red with lots of flavours. £25

And a trio of tantalizing reds from Nouveau Wines (Groomsport):
Argentina: Pascual Toso 2009 Malbec, Mendoza region (14%) - spicy and punchy, hints of oak layered with red and black fruits, rounded tannins and 'sweet/savoury' finish. £10.25
South Africa: Simonsig Pinotage 2008 - smoky maturing complex nose with liquorice notes too, lively tangy mouth-feel vs lusher smoother side, powerful finish with 'earthy'/'tar' characters even! £10.25
Spain: 2008 Carlos Serres Old Vines Tempranillo, Rioja (13%) - light oak tones enhanced by developing savoury meaty and dried fruit, intense concentrated palate with rich maturing finish. Classy. £9.99

France: Chateau de la Ligne, Bordeaux - owned by N. Ireland businessman Terry Cross, more info and stockists @ chateaudelaligne.com - 2008: slightly leafy blackcurrant nose, quite smooth and tasty, fairly light but has substance too for not a great vintage. 2007: also a difficult year in Bordeaux weather-wise, this is a touch richer and firmer with a bit more oak, well-balanced though and more closed up than the 08 actually. £12.99

Finally, back to Spain and a couple of Torres reds:
2009 San Valentín Garnacha (14%) - aromatic ripe Grenache style with juicy cherry fruit and liquorice, soft vs punchy mouth-feel; attractive sweet vs dry texture, powerful yet very drinkable! £7.99
2007 Celeste Crianza, Ribero del Duero (relatively new wine and territory for Torres, this is probably mostly made from Tempranillo in this increasingly trendy region of northern-central Spain; 13.5% alc.) - scented cedar-y aromas with ripe berry and cassis fruit, quite lush and structured yet elegant and stylish, even if a little too Rioja like. £12.99

Anyway, enough of my ramblings: see you there next year. I might think about doing a tutored tasting or something like that, if the organiser is game on. Watch this futuristic space...

01 September 2011

Bordeaux: Château de la Ligne

"Chateau de la Ligne is owned by Northern Ireland businessman Terry Cross..."
Full post is HERE (scroll down a little)...


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