"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 (below)." Richard Mark James

16 July 2013

France: Alsace - Eblin-Fuchs

Domaine Eblin-Fuchs lies on seductively rolling slopes around the village of Zellenberg (where the cellar is), between Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr and not far from Colmar, which is one of the region's driest and warmest spots apparently. Their different vineyard parcels add up to about 10 ha (25 acres), including some treasured vines in four of the area's steeper and very exposed Grand Cru sites; all of which have been farmed organically since 2001 with biodynamic certification smothered on top. The Eblin and Fuchs wine family histories go back several centuries, so I'm told, and were united by marriage in 1956. The estate's now run by brothers José Henri and Christian, who also make sparkling wine, eaux de vie from their own plums etc. and organic honey too.
I sampled the wines tasting-noted below and talked to these guys earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier, south of France. Their wines are widely available in France and exported - click on web link beneath the photo for more info and contact details / opening hours.

Ever wondered what botrytised grapes look like? Yuk!
This is 'rot-shrivelled' Gewurztraminer, from www.eblin-fuchs.com.
2010 Riesling Zellenberg - nice developing colour, delicious ripe oily Riesling nose, concentrated palate with rich lime fruit and oily vs steely mouth-feel, long fine finish. Yum, lovely wine.
2010 Riesling Rosacker Grand Cru - fabulous oily vs citrus nose, rich and concentrated then crisp steely bite, nice ripe fruit with sweet lemon and lime flavours, oily maturing notes vs tight steely length. Yum again, should develop nicely.
2010 Pinot Gris vieilles vignes (old vines, 13% abv) - rich honeyed and spicy, has a touch of sweetness and fair weight with exotic ripe fruit vs a crisper side too, nice 'mineral' length vs quite lush. Good foodie white, try with Thai or Indian food.
2011 Gewurztraminer vieilles vignes (old vines, 13.5% abv) - complex exotic nose, floral lychee notes vs ripe lush mouth-feel and quite powerful vs a hint of freshness too, lingering flowery pineapple and lychee flavours. Try with fruit tart (especially e.g. peach).

Bags more on Alsace HERE (goes to archive page).

09 July 2013

Roussillon: Domaine Sarda Malet update, Perpignan

Previous words on and wines by Sarda Malet can be found HERE (report from a trip there in 2006, updated in 2009). I went back to this slightly hidden estate (and the family home), although lying on the southern outskirts of the city of Perpignan (across the busy road from the prison actually, over a hill and lost out of sight), earlier this year for a little tour and tasting of what's new at Sarda Malet.

Jérôme and Suzy Sarda Malet
Jérôme Malet is now in charge, with a little advice from mother Suzy no doubt; and they have a team of six vineyard workers and new winemaker Sophie Mage. Sales manager Laurent Moinet told us they have 25 ha being converted over to organics (since 2009/10) and that they've been "pulling up some vines to decrease the surface area, so we can focus on organic with the same team as it takes more man hours." Certain parcels are found near the village of Pollestres a few kilometres to the south, where "we might buy more if some good ones come up for sale." The cellar was also extended about five years ago; and the Malet family has recently invested in an estate in Côtes du Rhône country called Domaine de Fontbonau, in partnership with Frédéric Engerer who runs all the properties owned by François Pinault (Château Latour in Bordeaux among others...).
"We make a varietal range too labelled as Vin de France," Laurent explained further, "from vines planted by Jérôme's grandfather (Jérôme Sarda)..." in the 40s and 50s, and some his father Max Malet selected in the 70s and 80s. "We're planting some new Cabernet Sauvignon clones too from Chateau Latour... and we've decreased the amount of new barrels used (they needed to, to be honest, looking at some of the older vintages tasted)... and more demi-muids..." (two to three times the size of the classic barrique that impart less oak flavour yet have a similar effect on tannin texture etc.).
Lea & Sandeman shops in London stock some of these (see vintages and £ prices next to certain wines); also available in Ireland from Sheridan's Cheesemongers and from SAQ in Canada. More @ www.sarda-malet.com.


2011 Sarda-Malet white (Grenache gris and blanc, Malvoisie; 25% in barrel) - honeyed oily and nutty vs appley and floral, quite steely bite vs powerful (14% abv); lacks a little juicy fruit though.
2008 Terroir Mailloles white (Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache blanc) - pretty coconutty still yet has nice developed oily honeyed and buttery notes too, less toasty and nuttier on the palate with attractive mix of rich vs powerful vs crisp; good stuff in the end actually.
2012 Rosé (Syrah, Mourvèdre) - rich fruity raspberry/strawberry cocktail with quite weighty mouth-feel (14.5% abv!) then crisp finish. Nice style.
2011 Sarda-Malet red (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre; 30% in barrel) - enticing berry fruits, black cherry, liquorice and spice; nice 'fresh' tannins vs lingering fruit and warm alcohol. 2008 = £9.95.
2007 L'Insouciant Grenache - showing a fair amount of vanilla coconut oak, lots of sweet fruit too vs tannins a little dried out.
2008 Fandango Syrah (14% abv) - developing smoky leather edges vs dark cherry, meaty and quite concentrated with nice sweet vs savoury fruit, still firm and powerful too. Good.
2008 L'Intransigeant Mourvèdre - a bit oaky coco-y grainy, quite lean and firm with some savoury wild fruit, but again the tannins are a touch hard.
2007 Terroir Mailloles red (mostly Mourvèdre + Syrah) - a tad coco grainy and firm/extracted vs better sweet/sour fruit, still a bit overdone yet has more depth of fruit than above. 2004 = £19.95
2011 Muscat de Rivesaltes Vin Doux Naturel - lovely aromatic citrus peel vs grapey floral nose, sweet vs citrus bite and freshness vs nice cut from the alcohol. 2009 = £14.95
2007 La Carbasse Rivesaltes red VDN (old Grenache) - savoury meaty oxidizing notes, seems quite old already although that savoury vs dark fruit is quite attractive, still fairly solid too. Not sure. 2005 = £23.95
2005 La Carbasse Collection Rivesaltes Grenat VDN (old Grenache, cask-aged) - similar maturing baked meaty nose yet lusher and livelier, more complex with big fiery and firm vs rich and sweet combo, has much more depth and roundness vs alluring mature fruit.
2004 Le Serrat Rivesaltes ambré VDN (Grenache gris and blanc) - exotic peachy apricot notes vs juicy sweet texture suffused with subtle nutty flavours; doesn't taste that old, elegant long finish. Very good. 2000 = £16.75
1998 Le Serrat - enticing oxidized nutty nose, intense and tasty with rich exotic palate vs still 'mineral' underneath, long complex and nutty. Yum.
L'Abandon (100% Malvoisie passerillé = dried/shrivelled on the vine, 2002 vintage in fact) - very intense nutty nose with dried raisin and sultana combo, rich yet lively too, very sweet vs very fresh with intense nutty finish. Delicious unusual wine.

04 July 2013

Roussillon: Abbé Rous, Banyuls-sur-mer


Abbé Rous is one incarnation of this well-known co-operative winery based in Banyuls-sur-mer (Cellier des Templiers is another), which they use for a certain wine range sold to independent merchants and restaurants & hotels, rather than say own-labels in the supermarkets etc. I've talked about some of their wines on FMW.com before...

02 July 2013

Wine tour: Verona & Veneto weekend

Piazza Bra and Arena, Verona amphitheatre
The latest 'wine weekend', this time going to northern Italy in the autumn, has just been slotted into wine travel company Wine Voyages' increasingly busy schedule, taking in Verona and some of the Veneto's lovely vineyard areas and wines of course. From Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th October 2013: more info on what's included, wineries visited, prices and booking are here:

01 July 2013

Chablis part 3: Geoffroy, Moreau, Séguinot-Bordet and more

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, 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 year. OR BUY IT FOR £2.50 (about €3 or $4) - snap it up quick with PayPal!" Click on title above to find the PP buttons...

"On-foot" has been regrettably dropped from 'Chablis: final destination 3...', as predictably more efficient transport was required this time to spread the net a little wider. See "Chablis on foot" part 1: Chablis Wine Awards and "Chablis on foot" part 2: Droin, Chablisienne, Long-Depaquit, Fèvre for previous ramblings around Chablis and catching the drift. This last instalment explores the neighbouring villages of Beines and Maligny a tad, taking in Domaines Alain Geoffroy, Louis Moreau and Séguinot-Bordet. It also tries to simulate an elevated view of one particular snapshot of the area's vineyards ("you had to be there" type-thing, a vantage-point in the Côte de Léchet 1er Cru site) - accompanied by Eric Szablowski (goes to his website) who worked for many years as winemaker at a few wineries in the region and elsewhere, and now runs wine classes and tours in Burgundy - to get a sharper picture of and some insight on all these complicated Premier and Grand Cru names, where/what exactly 'Petit Chablis' is and other burning issues like that...
The vista is quite revealing standing on a slope (that old cliche about 'the high ground' has some worth after all) between vine rows in Côte de Léchet and Petit Chablis; the latter, strangely perhaps, are actually higher and chalkier looking than its 'superior' neighbour. "Chablis lies on Kimmeridgian slopes, and some on Portlandian, facing south-west-east," Eric (pic. right) started to explain. Amazingly, I've managed to avoid the 'K' word up until now - further insight can be found HERE (read down through the 'Grand Cru Chablis London 2012 tasting report'), as I can't be bothered going on about that again... Advanced warning: there's already going to be plenty of soil talk here!
In a marvellous 'here's one I made earlier' style moment, Eric picked up and showed us a lovely large lump of those classic stones/rocks that make up this type of soil: chalk, marl, clay and tiny little fossils...

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


Jean-Francois Bordet took over Domaine Séguinot-Bordet from his grandfather (pic. together above, taken from their site) - who he's obviously very fond of and still comes to see him twice a week in cellar and vineyard then they go for lunch - 15 years ago, since his mother didn't want to carry on the family business...
Ditto the link above to buy it!

Lots more Chablis HERE by the way.

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