Saturday, May 30, 2009

Status Update

Hola, Amigos. I know its been a while since I posted at ya, but I've been up to my neck in it. Not much to report wine-wise. We have been working our way through our recent French purchases, findings below. This is a little off topic as I don't believe any of these wines are available in Ireland but anyway...

Chateau Guillou - Montagne St Emilion - 2005 - Going to have 1st bottle tomorrow with some of the Monbazillac crew* 
Chateau de Clotte - Cotes de Castillon - 2005  - Had 1st bottle after Leinsters magnificent victory last Saturday - was superb, incredible value at what we paid. It will be a struggle to lay some of this down and not drink all of this right now.
Chateau Pion- Bergerac - 2002 - This is OK, fine for everyday drinking.
Chateau Cailleval - Cotes de Bergerac - 2002 - Better than the Pion, more depth and complexity.
Chateau Cailleval - Bergerac Sec - 2007 - Had two bottles of this in the sun last Sunday with the outlaws. Very pleasant, liked by all.

* hopefully BE will bring an '03 Tertre Daugay as promised.

Note - BS was in Dax for lunch yesterday and had a long discussion with the wine guy/girl there about Bergerac wines, so maybe a guest post in the works there.

Interesting comment on a post here.

**Update - BE did bring the 03 Tertre Daugay and it was magnificent.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bergerac - Monbazillac

Technically where we were staying in France was not Bergerac but Monbazillac some 10K south,which is one of the 12 AOCs (Appellations d'origine contrôlée) of Bergerac. Monbazillac itself is moderately famous for producing a sweet wine in the style of Sauternes (more of this later), and a rather fine castle.

(BS, GS, YHB with Little Bill aboard, at the Chateau)

So one very wet and rainy Thursday, ourselves (your humble blogger, herself and Little Bill), GS & BS decided to "do" the castle, which was perfectly nice and then we headed back to the visitors centre for our "free" glass of wine. I wasn't overly impressed with any of the wines tasted.

We decided to make our way to the local Cave as we needed to get some Fois Gras to go with a bottle of Monbazillac we'd bought in the Bergerac market the previous day, and we wanted to see if there was any decent Vino to be bought. They had a few wines open for tasting and BS bought six Bergerac Sec (the Appellation of the dry white wine produced locally) and I got six Chateau Pion 2002, which they had to taste there along with the 2003. Funnily enough 2003 didn't seem to be as good a year as 2002 in Bergerac, I know its right beside Bordeaux but all the 2003 Bergeracs I tasted were sharper and less rounded than their equivalent 2002s. Maybe the 2003 is still too young whereas the 2002 is drinking well now.

After this we were stuck, still raining and no place to go. Luckily one of our housemates JG had found a little Chateau nearby beside the village of Pomport the previous day and had been graciously received by the lady of the Chateau and had bought a few cases of the their 2002. So, Wine Trail map in hand we sped off to find Chateau Caillavel.

As before we were graciously received by the lady of the Chateau (whose name we never got) and our first and most pressing question was "Ou est la toilette?" Herself took Little Bill off and the rest of us started the tasting. Their Bergerac Sec was amazing, a Sauvignon Blanc with crisp fruits and a lovely balance. For the reds The 2007 (Merlot) was young but promising, the 2003 (non oak aged) was little rough but the 2002 (Oak Barrels) was really special. A complex wine, fruity, oaky, tannic but all well integrated. We had the first bottle last night, a little nervously, hoping that it would be as good as we remembered, and it was. She also opened a bottle of their Monbazillac - Chateau Haut-Theulet 2004 which was as good as any Sauternes I've tasted.

In the end I bought 6 of the white, 6 of the 2002 and a 500ml bottle of the Monbazillac - for the incredible sum of €80! €4 for the white, €8 for the red and a tenner for the Monbazillac. She brought into the barrel room and showed us the 2005 which I want to return to taste once its bottled.

My total purchases on the trip were:
6X Chateau Guillou - Montagne St Emilion - 2005 - €7-77
6X Chateau de Clotte - Cotes de Castillon - 2005 - €6-28
6X Chateau Pion - Bergerac - 2002 - €7-50
6X Chateau Cailleval - Cotes de Bergerac - 2002 - €8-00
6X Chateau Cailleval - Bergerac Sec - 2007 - €4-10
1X Chateau Haut-Theulet - Monbazillac - 2004 - €10-50

Perhaps I should have got more, there was certainly some great value to be had if you had the means to transport the wine home. But in these straightened economic times I couldn't justify blowing the wad on wine, either that or I'm just a pussy.

Either way I would recommend the Bergerac region for wine lovers of all shapes and sizes, and we were. There were a couple of certified wine bores, a couple of well travelled wine drinkers and a couple of enthusiastic amateurs, and all seemed to find what they were looking for.

BTW - We should have gone to Pecharmant, which produces some fab reds , GG went on his own one day and returned with some lovely red and a dozen "Cyrano De Bergerac" which were demolished during a particulary fractious but ultimately victorious (for the guys) game of Ariculate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Matthews Cheese Cellar - Cheese and Wine

Matthews Cheese Cellar on Upper Baggot St (under the Oddbins - opposite Baggot St Hospital) are holding two Cheese and Wine tasting evenings next week on 27th / 28th May 6-8 pm (that's next Wednesday and Thursday). Follow the link for details.

I have been to a couple of free tastings there and the food and service is fantasic, so If you like your cheese and wine I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tasting - Maison Malet Roquefort - Wedding Wine

(l-r) - Julian, Gregory, BE, GG, GS, Thomas

On the Tuesday morning at an ungodly 10am we met up with Gregory, Julian and Thomas (all probably spelled wrong) from Maison Malet Roquefort in the lovely town of St Pay D'Armens on the picturesque D936 on the eastern side of the St Emilion region.

We were taken to Chateau D'Armens where we were given a tour of the facility and then we stared the tasting at about 10-30. Much as I love wine I really didn't feel like knocking back a load of wine on an empty, queasy stomach, all of us including our two brave drivers (GG & GS) elected to spit, some with more accuracy than others, (sorry guys).

Anyway we tried three whites:

Chapelle Maracan 2007 
Chapelle d'Alienor 2003
Chapelle d'Alienor 2005

We settled on the d'Alienor 2005 as it was lovely, the 2003 was nice and the Maracan was very acidic and tart.

We tried several reds (for the wedding initially):

Chapelle Maracan Red 2005 - Bordeaux - was OK, a bit tannic for my taste
Chateau De Clotte 2005 - Cotes de Castillon - liked this a lot
Chateau Guillou 2005 - Montagne Saint-Emilion - winner of the famous blind tasting, between this and the Clotte as my choice for the wedding.
Chateau Roland La Garde 2005 - Premier Cotes de Blaye - liked it - not as much as previous 2
La Fleur d'Armens - 2006- Saint Emilion Grand Cru - second wine of Chateau Armens - I felt this didn't have the subtlety or the complexity of the Guillou, as did GS,  but we were overruled by "the boys". In fairness they are the groom and brides sister so they had the casting vote. 

Other reds we tried:

Chateau Armens - 2005- Saint Emilion Grand Cru -Liked this but at €16 was not as good value as some above.

Chateau Tertre-Daugay - 2003 - Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe - the star of the tasting for me, a divine red, complex, balanced and a huge finish. BE liked it so much he bought the vineyard (not really but he did go a little loco). I loved it but I'm not sure how much I'd buy at €18-50 a pop, given the credit crunch's ongoing direct impact on me.

Myself and GS decide to split a case each of the Guillou and the de Clotte between us, as at €7 and  €6  respectively there were a steal. 

Before we left, Thomas brought us into where they keep the barrels (I should know what this room is properly called) and gave us a taste of the 2008 Chateau Armens direct from the cask. This was a new experience for me and I suspect the guys also. The 2008 was young ,obviously, but was fresh and fruity and in my limited experience had some good potential.

Thanks again to Gregory, Julian and Thomas for the help and expertise, although BE & GG did regret their inadequately translated choice of main course in the local Relais. Described as Saucisson but actually Andouillete, definitely an acquired taste.

Thanks again to the two drivers, GG & GS for their selflessness.

Next: Lots of rain necessitates purchases of more wine...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bergerac - First Tasting

The Boys, hereafter to be referred to as "the boys", arrived early in Bordeaux last Friday, with the van and thus were able to do some initial investigations into purchasing the wedding wine. Because of an unknown French Holiday, virtually everything was closed but "the boys" managed to meet Gregory and get six sample bottles (x3) to taste before meeting for the big tasting the following Tuesday in St-Emilion.

The first night (after a feast of McDonalds - the only food to be had of any description near us), we cracked a bottle of each and we all rated them, unaware of their prices. The six wines were:

Chateau Tetre Daugay - St-Emilion Grand Cru - 2004
Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt - Passac Leognan - 2005
Chateau Guillou - Montagne St-Emilion - 2005
Chateau Belle Vue - Haut Medoc - 2003
Chateau Larose Trintaudon - Haut Medoc 2005
Chateau La Perriere - Lussac St-Emilion 2005

The two most expensive it turned out, the Daugay and the Gazin came out on top, followed by the Guillou, the La Perriere and the Larose which we insisted on calling "the Spanish wine" because of the garish red un-Bordeaux-like label. The first Belle Vue was corked and the second not much better.

Two nights later we decided to repeat the tasting - blind. I attempted the guess each wine and got a grand total of Zero. This time the Guillou won and we all liked the Belle Vue and the expensive wines not so much. Just goes to show, I guess.

Next - the wedding wine tasting at Maison Malet Roquefort.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bergerac - the Return

Just back from Bergerac after a long wine filled 9 days. Drank a lot of wine and brought a few bottles back (in a tile van - long story). Will be doing a couple of posts on the region and a tasting we did over there in the next few days...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bergerac - The region not the show

Am off to Bergerac for a few days, not really wine related but while we are there I'm sure we will try all the local vineyards  have to offer.  Apparently the local sweet wine Monbazillac is quite fine. Either way no posts for few a days*, I should have lots to blog about on my return...

*tens of you will be going cold turkey

Monday, May 4, 2009

Vega Real Crianza 2005

I had seen this in Dunnes on a number of occasions but hadn't taken the plunge as €17 is a lot to drop on an unknown wine in a supermarket. However Tomás Clancy had it as his "To Buy" pick two weeks ago in the Sunday Business Post  so I took a punt on it.  It makes a nice change from all those Oaky Rioja monsters.

Name: Vega Real Crianza
Year: 2005
Price: €16-95
Notes: This was a big wine in every respect. An inky purple in the glass, this wine had some lovely dark fruits but also had a fine structure and long lingering finish. I'd say its just about on the money value-wise.                                       
Rating: 7/10

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2006

I recently had a bottle of the iconic Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc and while I really liked it I thought that €30 was perhaps a little steep. I have similar feelings about the Chardonnay. I really enjoyed it (it was a gift to Herself), I don't think I could justify spending €30 on it. Perhaps that's because we drink much more red than white, I don't know.

Name: Cloudy Bay Chardonnay
Year: 2006
Price: approx €30
Notes: This has it all flavour-wise, the fruits, the minerals, the oaty, biscuity undertones all harmonious in the glass with a long complex finish.
Rating: 7/10 (loses 1 for price)

Note: check out the overly floral and typographically challenged O'Briens review of the above here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tesco Update

A quick update on the 2 bottles from Tesco

1) Tesco Argentina Malbec Reserve 2008. (at left)
I saw this in Mary Doweys 101 Great Wines under €12. I've never tried it but as I am a fan of Argentinian Malbecs and this wine was priced at a mere €6-69, I could hardly refuse.

Initially on first taste I was a little disappointed with this wine as it tasted a little bland. However after an hour or so the wine opened up, developing some spice, some useful tannins and a decent finish. A steal at this price.
8/10 (extra mark for the value)

2) Chateau Cazal Viel Saint Chinian Cuvee des Fees 2006 (at right)
Also in Mary Doweys 101 Great Wines under €12. I have been a big fan of this wine since I saw it lauded in the Irish Times (I think) about 5 years ago. We haven't had it for a while but at €10-99 it's great value. It's from the Languedoc and is made from the classic Rhone varieties Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.

We brought this to a friends house and drank it after a 2000 Chateau Macquin St Georges from St Georges-St Emilion which was very very good. The Cazal Viel held up well, its modern, slightly upfront style was not an unpleasant change although more of the Bordeaux wouldn't have gone astray, alas it too had been a present and existed singularly at that location.
I'll get this again a do a full review as it really is a bargain.

Note: My guest blogger June was oop North today and got me two bottles on Penfolds Bin 389, a snip at £19-99 (its €30 down here), full review to follow.