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Tag: France

Wine of the Week

Majas’ Cortado

Domaine de Majas is run by Alain and Agnes Carrère. The 30 hectare domain is located in the Roussillon by the village Caudiès de Fenouillèdes. Tom Lubbe from nearby Domaine Matassa helped to change into organic cultivation. The vineyards are at 350-400 meters’ height in slopes with good exposure and drenage. We see around 120 year old vines of carignan, grenache noir and macabeu, and younger (30-35 years) of syrah, cabernet franc, merlot, rolle and chardonnay. The climate is affected by the nearness of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean sea.

The wines are fermented with natural yeasts in old cement tanks, some steel and a small percentage old, used wood.

Here we experience harsh winters and warm, sunny summers. The tough northwestern wind from the Pyrenees and the wet Mediterranean breeze often follow each other.

Even if the domain lies within the AOC Côtes du Roussillon they often choose to classify their wines as Vin de Pays de Côtes Catalanes, to honour what they consider te be a unique area.

The soil is mainly chalky clay and schist.

The grapes for this wine are grenache 50%, grenache gris 25%, and grenache blanc 25%. They were hand-harvested, naturally fermented in cement and aged there for 6 months.

Cortado 2017 (Dom. de Majas)

Light ruby. Aroma of white flowers, plums, peach and raspberry. In the mouth it’s intense, fruity with round tannins.

Price: Low

Food: Light meat, white fish, salads

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Wine of the Week

Dense, dark Minervois

Chateau Maris started out in 1997, with an aim to make good wines working in harmony with nature. They soon discovered that biodynamics was the best for their vineyards.

It’s now a 32 hectares estate comprised of small vineyards on the hillside above the village of La Liviniere of Minervois, Languedoc.

This wine is a varietal syrah made with no added sulphites. Maceration went for one month with gentle pumping
over and ‘pigeage’ (punching down).

Savoir Vieillir 2017 (Ch. Maris)

Dense, dark red, almost opaque. Fruit-driven, with young berries (blueberry, blackberry), hints of spices. Luscious, juicy mouthfeel, a touch of young tannin, cool fruit, but also a touch of warm alcohol (14,5%).

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Wine of the Week

Le Cinsault at Mas Onésime

Here is another varietal cinsault. This variety can be said to be in fashion today. The reason is probably that many vintners have seen its virtues as much more than a grape for blending. Today it’s used many places, in particular have we seen many interesting wines from South Africa. Here is one from southern France, where we used to meet it most often in the past.

(Credit: Mas Onésime)

Mas Onésime is located in La Liquière, one of the tiny villages in is hillside of the Faugères appellation. The domaine consists of 12 hectares within the village.

Vigneron Olivier Villanueva talks about the many colours of the schists in Faugères, “from ochre and grey to orange with deep blue veins”. This sub-oil is among the oldest, and consists of gravelly schists that date, in his own words “back to the beginning of time”.

Most of the vines at the Mas are fifty years old, in steep vineyards with breathtaking views.

The grapes are harvested by hand, sorted, de-stemmed and brought to the cellar immediately after being picked. The grapes are placed in vats, without pumping and using only a natural gravity. Olivier strives to make authentic wines, with techniques as natural as possible.

This wine is only cinsault, hand harvested, sorted and fully destemmed. The yield was 25 hl/ha. It had 14 days of maceration in stainless steel tank, and also ageing in a tank for 14 days.

 

Le Cinsault 2016 (Mas Onésime)

Ruby red. Aroma of red berries (raspberry, plums), thyme and a touch of white pepper, juicy, luscious, supple in the mouth, with only a slight tannin and a pleasant natural acidity.

Price: Medium/low

Food: Light meat, try also lamb with provençal herbs, ratatouille, salads, grilled fish

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Wine of the Week

Frick’s Gewürztraminer Macération

Jean-Pierre and Chantal Frick cultivate 12 hectares of vineyards in and around Pfaffenheim, Alsace. Since 1970 the domaine has been organically cultivated, and certified biodynamic since 1981. In fact Jean-Pierre has since long been a guiding light for others who want a sustainable approach to vinegrowing.

Since the beginning of the 80’s they have abandoned the use of additions, clarification and filtration, except for a small amount of sulphur before bottling for wines with residual sugar.

The Steinert vineyard was planted in the 1970’s on limestone, fossil ground and gravel. The fermentation was spontaneous, and the maceration lasted for around one week. Then the wine was aged in big vats of French oak.

Steinert Grand Cru Gewürztraminer Macération 2016 (Dom. Pierre Frick)

Light golden colour. Aromatic, hints of fennel, spices, roses and some tropics like mango and litchis. Quite fat in the mouth, intense, full-flavoured, bone dry, long, and just enough power and acidity to keep the 15% alcohol in check.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, seafood

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Wine of the Week

Jean-Philippe Padié’s white flower

Calce is a village on the edge of the Agly valley,  Roussillon. From there many gifted winemakers has made it to the headlines, from Gérard Gauby, via Olivier Pithon to Tom Lubbe, and so on…

Jean-Philippe Padié deserves a place in that gallery. He was probably the first in the village to end the family’s tradition of delivering to the cooperative and start bottling himself.

Padié studied agronomy in Montpellier. He has also had training periods at reknowned producer Mas Amiel, and also at Gauby, before he started in the family business in 2003.

The wine was made from three grapes; grenache blanc 50%, macabeo 40%, and grenache gris 10%. It was fermented spontaneously in used barrels, and bottled unfiltered.

Dom. Padie Fleur de Cailloux 2016

Fleur de Cailloux 2016 (Dom. Padié)

Light yellow, slightly cloudy. Nice fruit, mature and floury apples, apricot, dried fruits, aromatic herbs. Medium body, integrated acidity, long and fruity finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, salads, cheeses

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Wine of the Week

Domaine de la Graveirette’s lovely budget wine

Domaine de la Graveirette is located in the Southern Rhône valley, to the east of Châteauneuf du Pape, where they also make wine of that appellation. Julien Mus started the project in 2005, after finishing his studies in Burgundy. The 25 hectares of vineyards are farmed organic, and the wines now certified biodynamic. They have a freshness well above average in this part of France, and they are lovely drinking, though not at all simple.

The Ju de Vie is a favourite, with all its character and lusciousness. The 2016 is made from grenache 35%, merlot 30%, marselan 25% and mourvèdre 10%, grown in sandy soils with the typical round pebbles. It was aged for 8 months in concrete tanks, and only given a tiny amount of sulphur.

Ju du Vie 2016 (Dom. de la Graveirette)

Dark cherry red. Aroma of red and dark berries (cherry, blackberry, plums), with notes of herbs. Luscious in the mouth, a warm touch, but there is a fresh, natural acidity too,  and a good length.

Price: Low

Food: Red meat, lamb, game, casseroles

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Wine of the Week

Matassa’s red Coume de l’Olla 2015

We have talked about Domaine Matassa several times. Read here about one of their white wines, and here is something from another project that New Zealand born winemaker Tom Lubbe is involved in.

The white Coume de l’Olla is a lovely, citrusy skin-contact wine. Today we had the red wine with the same name at a restaurant.

It’s made from grapes biodynamically farmed in the Calce region, on the northeast side of the Pyrenees. They are grenache 70%, grenache gris 20%, and macabeo 10%. The must was spontaneously fermented and aged in cement tanks.

Coume de l’Olla 2015 (Dom. Matassa)

Light ruby. Aromatic, smells of red fruits, both sweet and sour (plum, cherry, cranberry), floral overtones and hints to truffles and mature cheeses too. Quite soft, fleshy, but just enough tannin to bind it together, a fresh, natural acidity and some spice in the finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, salads and much more. At an Italian restaurant we tried it today with four different dishes, and it performed brilliantly with vitello tonnato (veal in tuna mayonnaise) and pasta with a creamy sauce and mushrooms.

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Wine of the Week

Sébastien Riffault’s Sancerres

Sébastien Riffault has been mentioned in this blog many times, so it’s about time we highlight one of his wines. These are full of personality. Riffault’s sauvignons are maybe not you would think of when hearing the word Sancerre. But this is maybe Sancerre like in the old days, before all the corrections became the norm.

Sébastien cultivates twelve hectares of vineyard in Sury-en-Vaux. He also plants trees to contribute to the diversity. He can harvest several times, but in general grapes can hang on the vines for a long time -Mid-October is normal- so they achieve full ripening. As a result of the late harvest, some of the grapes are affected by botrytis. Unlike most other Sancerres, Sébastien’s wines also undergo malolactic fermentation.

To honor his Lithuanian wife Jurate, Sébastien have given the wines Lithuanian names that are expressions for the soil. Auksinis thus means “of gold” and is 2 hectares planted around 1975 on Portland limestone. 

Everything is cultivates according to biodynamic principles, and the whole vineyard is certified organic. Sébastien uses horse and plow in many of the vineyards, because it gives better soil quality. In the cellar, nothing is added, neither are they fined nor filtered (except for a tiny amount of sulphur and lightly filtering of one wine).

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Wine of the Week

Robinot’s Nocturne

This week’s selected wine is from nobody else than natural wine guru Jean-Pierre Robinot.

As the story goes, Robinot fell in love with wine at a young age, moved to Paris, met some of the pioneers of natural wine and opened L’Ange Vin, one of the first bars dedicated to that kind of drinks.

Soon he decided to make natural wines himself, and moved back to Chahaignes, where he grew up, in the north of Loire.

The rest is history, as they say. He offers one wine better than the other; easy-to-drink and serious at the same time, they keep for weeks after opening, they express their origins magnificently, and they are highly original.

Jean-Pierre owns around 8 hectares of vines in the two appellations Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loir, soils red clay, limestone and silex. And the fermentations, they can last for months, years, in the ancient underground caves.

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Wine of the Week

A Jura Chardonnay from Rolet

Here is another tasty Jura playing with oxidation, this time from Domaine Rolet.

Rolet is found in the historic town of Arbois, Louis Pasteur’s homeplace. The domaine was created in 1942, and with 58 hectares it’s now the second largest producer in Jura. The founder’s four children are now running the domaine.

Key words have always been traditional organic farming, ploughing, hand-harvesting (in those steep slopes), ripe grapes, fine-tuned use of wood, and controlled oxidation to obtain what winemaker Guy Rolet calls “a little hazelnut nose”. In fact some have called Jura’s white wines something between a burgundy and a manzanilla sherry.

This wine was fermented and aged in wood barrels for between one and two years.

Côtes du Jura Le Dent de Charnet 2016 (Dom. Rolet)

Deep yellow. Intense aroma, nutty, buttery, with lime and some salty tones. Full and rich with a good tannic grip, and decent acidity.

Normally this oaky character could have been too much, but it’s something with the lightly, controlled oxidized style and the power that makes this work. Furthermore it’s better after some days in the fridge.

Price: Medium

Food: Grilled seafood, cheeses like the local comté, salads, light meat

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