"Buy my book about the Roussillon on Amazon UK in paperback or eBook or black & white version, and Amazon USA: paperback or eBook or black & white. OR BUY IT DIRECT FROM ME (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link above the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

13 June 2013

"Chablis on foot" part 2: Droin, Chablisienne, Long-Depaquit, Fèvre

Stop press: Chablis: special focus report now available
"You can now get a handy PDF supplement featuring all three parts of my recent Chablis wine touring mini-series (see below), plus bonus pieces on a Chablis Grand Cru tasting and spotlight on M&S Chablis penned last year (and any of my other recent in-depth features). The full-works twenty-page Chabbers report in lovely PDF format emailed to you when you subscribe for just £10 (about $16 or €12) a yearOR BUY IT FOR £2.50 (about €3 or $4) - snap it up quick with PayPal!" Click on title above to find the PP buttons...

The first instalment of this mouthwatering Chablis mini-series can be found here: "Chablis on foot" part 1: Chablis Wine Awards; and there's a link at the end of this to Part 3. This time, join me on a little walking and tasting tour around Chablis town itself taking in four nearby wineries (there are several more of course), which can easily be squeezed into a leisurely day-out with a spot of lunch sandwiched inbetween (when in Rome...): no car required, and a good way to burn off those calories from eating too much cheese, as you do in France (tour could also be done by bike, as long as you 'spit out', man...).

Jean-Paul and Benoit Droin
Across the not-entirely square (place Lafayette) from the elegant and ever-so-French town hall (Mairie or Hotel de Ville) near the War Memorial, there's a discreet buzzer on a dark green metal gate for Domaine Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin (8 boulevard de Ferrières, phone 03 86 42 16 78, www.jeanpaul-droin.fr: there's a comprehensive list of their importers worldwide on this site by the way), which grants access to their hidden old ageing cellar (they have a modern winery too built near their Grand Cru vineyards). Old being the operative word, as this family estate goes back to 1620 no less, which is something French winemakers get very proud about, especially when you're the fourteenth generation "non-stop handed down from father to son," as Benoit Droin put it. Not many could say that I'd imagine. In any case, the main thing is that Benoit is now running the show, who explained they own 26 hectares (64 acres) in 15 appellations - Chablis, Petit Chablis, eight Premier Crus and five Grand Crus - "on both sides of the valley, so they're quite spread out making it difficult to manage ripening, picking dates etc"...

GET THE FULL PDF REPORT NOW TO READ THE REST OF IT!

Chateau Long-Depaquit
from their flickr.com photo gallery
And a good place for lunch: La Feuillette Restaurant 132, 8 Rue des Moulins, 03 86 18 91 67, chablis.net/lafeuillette132. They offer three set menu options...
A good place for dinner: Le Bistrot des Grands Crus, 8 Rue Jules-Rathier, 03 86 42 19 41, www.bistrotdesgrandscrus.com. Run by the same people behind the more famous Hostellerie des Clos (more on that in Part 3...)...
Ditto the link above - get the full-works report by subscribing to find out much more!

Click here then for Part 3Alain Geoffroy, Louis Moreau, Séguinot-Bordet and an elevated view of Chablis' vineyards with Eric Szablowski, to get a better picture and some insight on all these different complicated Premier and Grand Cru sites, where/what is Petit Chablis etc...
Lots more Chablis HERE by the way.

04 June 2013

Languedoc: Terre des Chardons, Costières de Nîmes

This vaguely inquisitive scribe first came across owner, grower and winemaker Jérôme Chardon - who's been doing organics in the field (they have olive and fruit trees and grow veg too) for no less than 25 years and using the biodynamic way since 2002 - and his sumptuous sunny wines back in the summer of 2010. We were at a tasting and presentation of medal-winning organic wines (and yogurts, jams etc. actually), as Jérôme's 2009 Bien Luné red was one of the Trophy winners. More about that with my note on this wine here: Signature Bio: organic wine competition winners.

From terredeschardons.fr
I caught up with him and tasted the 2011 vintage of this lovely wine and others earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier; I guess its name, Bien Luné, is a bit of a biodynamic pun as it means "in a good mood" although literally could also be "well moon-ed"! You'll find Jérôme's vines in Bellegarde lying between Nîmes and Arles (near the 'border' between the Languedoc and Provence, i.e the bottom of the River Rhone as it heads out merrily into the Med), which are part of Domaine Sainte-Marie des Costières. More info (including stockists and how to get there) @ www.terredeschardons.fr. Reasonable prices too: the € ones quoted below are cellar door.

2010 Clairette de Bellegarde - yeast-lees and toasted notes layered with very floral vs honeyed and exotic fruit, crisp 'mineral' bite with a nice bitter twist; interesting dry white style, even if a little 'out of kilter' in the end maybe. €9
2011 Bien Luné (Syrah, Grenache 50-50) - delicious dark ripe black cherry and liquorice with peppery edges, concentrated and full-on countered by attractive 'fresh' tannins, dark lush fruit and nice bite on the finish. Yum. €8.50
2011 Marginal (Syrah 80%, Grenache) - similar profile but more intense with violets, dark berries and chocolate; again has silky tannins and tasty long finish. Double yum. €10
2011 Le Chardon Marie (mostly Syrah from selected plots) - lively violet cassis and black cherry/berry, peppery too and concentrated with fine tasty finish, lovely textured tannins again with tighter palate vs a bit of oomph. €19

03 June 2013

Cider: Duché de Longueville 'Gros Oeillet', Normandy

Another post in my occasional series on quality ciders that have crossed my apple-strewn path (see link at the bottom for more), which brings us to the curious Gros Oeillet variety mentioned in the title that I'm told makes up at least 90% of this "naturally sparkling craft cider." Funny enough, this means either 'big eyelet' in French, as in curtain rings, or 'large carnation', as in oversized buttonhole filler. Must be the shape of it I guess. Still, not quite as amusing a name as a Devon cider apple variety called 'Slack my Girdle' apparently! Bet you're glad you know that now. Back to this rather tasty cider actually, for those who like a lovely really pure appley taste, nice fresh bite (but avoiding that sometimes rather harsh acidity you can get in apples) and delicate fizz (rather than injected burpy CO2), which comes from natural second fermentation (similar to real ale or Champagne I'd imagine). It's fairly dry and light too, although certainly not tart with its sweet apple character and not overly strong at 4.5% abv. This bottle was sampled with a lentil and prawn dopiaza curry actually and went pretty well with the spice and sweet/sour flavours in the sauce; I hadn't really thought about drinking cider with curry before but might do from now on. I'd think it would work well with a nice tangy mature cheddar or similar cheese with a bit of real flavour.
Costs £2.19 for 50cl at Sainsbury's, and £1.75 on promotion from 12 June to 2 July and 24 July to 2 August during their 'Vintage Cider Festival'.

Previous posts on cider: Aspall, Suffolk and McCann's, Co. Armagh

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:


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