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23 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Sainte-Croix update, Corbières

Or the 'Hautes Corbières' as those folk who live up on the real high ground around here like to say, in the sleepy wee village of Fraissé-des-Corbières about a dozen kilometres inland from the La Palme lagoon or a short stretch to the northeast of Embres-et-CastelmaurePrevious words on and wines from Domaine Sainte-Croix on this blog can be found, from 2009 and 2010, HERE with further updates here (Corbières report May 2011) and here (2009 vintage showcase penned June 2010). I talked to owner / grower / winemaker / sales / everything 'team' Jon and Liz Bowen earlier this year at the dazzling premiere (well, the cinema seats were red at least) of Ken Payton's Languedoc wine documentary 'Les Terroiristes du Languedocin downtown Montpellier, which features Jon and Liz among a dozen like-minded small estate wineries, and at Millésime Bio organic trade show the next day. Including a touch of sampling, goes without saying, their newly released 2011s mostly that, in line with this vintage generally speaking in the south, were fresh, elegant, somewhat closed up and not looking very approachable then; needing more time to express themselves but a promising year perhaps, subtle rather than blockbuster...

Liz & Jon Bowen from facebook.com/LesTerroiristesDuLanguedoc
2011 La Serre white (Grenache blanc & gris) - nutty appley notes with lightly oxidized edges, a tad too 'volatile' and tart in the end. I've liked this white much more in previous vintages (see links at the top).
2011 Rosace des Vents rosé (Carignan, Syrah; 12.5% abv) - rounded 'oily' textured style rosé with subtle red fruits and rose petal notes, rounded vs fresh on its attractive finish.
2012 Aramon (an old, almost disappeared variety) - reductive tones to start, moves on to floral berry and violet notes, juicy and refreshing with nice ripe vs crunchy mouth-feel.
2011 Le Fournas (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - funky and chunky layered with ripe blue / black berries, attractive 'fresh' tannins and acidity vs dried berry fruit, tight elegant finish.
2011 Pourboire Nature (Carignan, Syrah) - more baked and savoury on the nose, concentrated palate with fresh undercurrent, a touch lean perhaps but it's subtle and long again.
2011 Carignan old-vine (planted in 1905, plus "a tiny bit" of Grenache and Mourvèdre; tank sample) - savoury vs ripe profile with light oak grain, slightly cooked berry fruits, again it's tight, fresh and very long; rather 'unobvious' when I tried it although intense.
2011 Celèstra (80% Grenache + Mourvèdre; 14.5% abv) - quite rich and fruity with grainy coconut tones, chunky and firm mouth-feel with nice meaty edges, has fair oomph yet still with that elegant touch, closes up on the finish. Should be very good.

19 July 2013

Spain: Quaderna Vía, Navarra

From organicwines.ie
Bodegas y Vinedos Quaderna Vía organically run estate winery, whose name seems to have something to do with Mediaeval poetry (guessing a bit from my limited grasp of Spanish: there doesn't appear to be an "in English" button on their site www.quadernavia.com), is located in the town of Igúzquiza on the western side of the Navarra region, an area known as Tierra Estella (not that far from Rioja actually). Brothers Raúl and Jorge Ripa had an impressive new cellar complex constructed 10 years ago that's supplied by 70 ha of vineyards they own around here: grape variety wise, they focus on Tempranillo, Cabernet and Merlot. Guided winery and vineyard tours are also available, with a tasting naturally; and you can book their groovy 'space' for private functions or wine dinners. Irish importer Dirk Flake Organic Wines in Galway stocks the first red (€8.80 a bottle, pic.); and cellar door in Spain they cost about €4 - €6 - €11 - €20 respectively for these four in ascending quality order, which I sampled earlier this year at Millésime Bio show.

2011 Initium (Tempranillo/Merlot) - nice juicy fruit with perfumed spicy notes, herby vs sweet, simple attractive quaffing red.
2011 Especial (90% Tempranillo + Cabernet Sauvignon) - herby cedar edges vs riper sweet blackcurrant and cherry, subtle grip and oak on the palate with plenty of fruit, elegant yet weighty, attractive style again with a touch more substance.
2008 Reserva (50-50 Tempranillo-Merlot) - more coconut oak vs maturing savoury notes and ripe berry fruit, nice meaty edges and still quite solid mouth-feel with a touch of oak grain vs oomph and dark vs savoury fruit. Good stuff.
2008 Quaderna Vía (100% Tempranillo) - richer berry fruit with spicy oak, nice ripe dark vs savoury flavours again, chunky and concentrated yet is well balanced with rounded tannins; drinking well now but should keep for a few more years. Lovely.

18 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Les Eminades update, Saint-Chinian


Before diving into this concise update, why not click HERE to peruse my original insight into Les Eminades found 'out there' in beautiful Saint-Chinian country (posted August 2011), which went along the lines of: "...Set up by affable couple Patricia and Luc Bettoni in 2002, this spectacular-vista estate has been tended organically since the beginning..." Including a few older vintages of the wines tasted below. Anyway, I caught up with them earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show. € prices quoted are cellar door or on-line in France, £ prices are from their London agent Aubert & Mascoli. They have a new website too by the way: follow the link under the photo...

Patricia and Luc Bettoni from leseminades.com

2011 Silice (Sauvignon blanc) - more 'mineral' style of Sauvignon with complex yeast-lees notes and nutty vs appley finish. Good but dear at €14.
2011 La Pierre Plantée (1960 Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache) - 'reductive' blueberry and cassis notes, spicy too with fresh tannins vs sweeter black cherry fruit, lightly peppery and crunchy on its quite long and elegant finish. €7.50 £12.50
2011 Cebenna (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) - enticing ripe and spicy black cherry Syrah styling to start, peppery and intense on the palate with chunkier firmer mouth-feel, savoury dark olive flavours too with nice bite vs weight and tight long finish. €10.50 £15
2010 Vieilles Canailles (1902 Carignan) - quite herbal / 'reduced' (?) on the nose, closed up and a little clumsy at the moment, concentrated though with very tight finish. Not sure, maybe it'll come out of its shell... €25 £25

17 July 2013

Wine Education Service NI autumn/winter program

The next wave of wine tastings and courses scheduled from late September to April next year in Belfast city centre (and run by RMJ) are as follows:
Essential Wine Tasting course - £125 for 5 sessions. Tuesdays 7 to 9 pm from 24 September 2013 to 22 October and 4/02/14 - 4/03/14. More info on this five evening course here:

Wine Education Service NI autumn/winter program

The next wave of wine tastings and courses scheduled from late September to April next year in Belfast city centre (and run by RMJ) are as follows:
Essential Wine Tasting course - £125 for 5 sessions Tuesdays 7 to 9 pm from 24 September 2013 to 22 October and 4/02/14 - 4/03/14. More info on this five evening course here:


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