Posts Tagged ‘red’


Tindall Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2007

Pinot Noir is always expensive, especially in Burgundy and the prices are creeping up for pinot from the New World also; so it is nice to pick up a bargain now and then. The company I work for imports this wine so you might expect me to have a natural bias. I have tasted it numerous times and never really thought about the quality and compared it to pinot noir from Burgundy.

I really like Burgundy but have never been blinded to the discrepancies in quality for the prices that you pay. This wine sells mainly in the on-trade mainly but is available in some independent off licences and sells there for about €20.

The 2007 vintage in Marlborough was heralded for the intensity of flavour for the Pinot Noir. Jancis Robinson declared that  ‘ the Marlborough vintage of 2007 may go down in history as the one that produced some of the most intense flavours ever and could be accompanied by lower alcohol levels’.

This wine is great, the flavours are ripe but have some restraint. The tannins are discreet and there is a great length on the palate with soft red fruits. I am not sure that it is possible to get a bottle of Burgundy for the same price and quality in Ireland but I will make it my mission to find out.


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Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru

My love affair with Jadot continues. I find their red wines to be consistently good albeit at premier cru level and beyond.  2003 was not the best vintage in Burgundy. It was scorchingly hot and the winemakers had the dilemma of picking early to contain the falling acidity or to wait and risk the massive alcohol levels. In general I would see this as a vintage to avoid though would be worth taking a punt on a bargain from a really good producer.

This wine was good but I think the level of new oak made the wine quite silky and detracted from some of the more obvious failings.  The wine had a harder edge than I would have expected from Beaune. There was a certain astringency probably due to the tannins and pips being green if the grapes were not physiologically ripe.

Description of Beaune wines from www.burgundy-wines.fr/

Beaune Climats © Burgundy Website

This appellation includes 42 Premiers Crus « climats ».

The appellations BEAUNE and BEAUNE PREMIER CRU may be followed by the

name of the « climat » of origin.

 Small differences appear, depending on the exact location. Wines from the northern end of the commune are more often intense and powerful, and those from the southern end are smoother and fuller. 

Red : This wine has a striking and vivid colour – a luminous scarlet, introducing aromas of black fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry) and red (cherry, gooseberry), as well as humus and underbrush. When older, it is redolent of truffle, leather, and spices. In youth, it charms the palate with the taste of crunchy fresh grape. Firm, upright and full of juice, it evolves with time, revealing a solid and absolutely convincing structure. 

White : This wine boasts a silky gold colour, flecked with green. It has a bouquet of almond, dried fruits, bracken, and white flowers. It may be enjoyed either young « on the fruit » or later for its mouth-filling mellowness.

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On Monday the 12th October I was exhibiting 3 of our wines at the Bordeaux Tasting in Fallon & Byrne. There were about 15 suppliers showing around 100 wines. It was a tasting for the press and trade but the highlight was a Bordeaux Masterclass by Wendy Narby. The masterclass gave a brief but informative insight into the appellations of Bordeaux.

Interestingly the 57 appellations of Bordeaux are categorised under 6 groups, namely

  • Bordeaux & Bordeaux Superieur
  • Medoc & Graves
  • Cotes de Bordeaux
  • St Emilion, Pomerol & Fronsac
  • Dry White Wines
  • Sweet White Wines

Within these appelations there are the following classifications

  • The 1855 Classification
  • The Graves Classification
  • The Saint-Emilion Classification
  • The Médoc Crus Bourgeois Classification
  • The Crus Artisans Classification

There was far too much content for me to write about here so for detailed information on the wines of Bordeaux visit this excellent website  http://www.bordeaux.com

The 3 wines that I was showing were

  • Cheval Noir St Emilion 2004
  • Ch La Couronne St Emilion Grand Cru 2004
  • Ch Picard St Estephe Cru Bourgeois 2004


cheval noir2004


Cheval noir is not your typical Bordeaux in that there is no Chateau that is classified. It is a brand and the wine is made from vineyards within the St Emilion Appellation.

It is typically 50% Merlot with the other 50% made up from Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc. The high propoertion of Cabernet is evident giving good structure and. It has a few years ageing now so tannins are softening and it is quite an easy drink. Certainly an hour or two in the decanter will help. Widely available in Leading Independents from €18.99 or less when on offer.


La Couronne

Chateau La Couronne is much more what I expect from St Emilion. It is situated within the Appellation of St Emilion Grand Cru but is not classified. There is a big difference in quality between St Emilion Grand Cru and St Emilion Grand Cru Classe!

La Couronne has 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Cabernet Franc. Nice aromas of plum and cassis. The palate is smooth and supple with plum fruit and blackcurrant notes. Still a few years left. Typically retailing for €22-24




 Chateau Picard is a Cru Bourgeois from the Medoc Appellation of St Estephe where the wines are known to be the most tannic and structured of the Medoc. This area is slightly cooler so the grapes may take longer to ripen but in a very hot year they can make excellent wines that are not overripe.

2003 was a very hot year in Bordeaux and when some producers were unsure of what style of wine to make, Ch Picard took advantage of the heat and make a well balanced, structured yet fruity wine. Available in Independent wine stores at a price of €27.99+



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gevrey chambertin 2000Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest of the Communes in the Cote de Nuits. It makes exclusively red wine from Pinot Noir. It has 9 Grand Crus and 26 Premier Crus and numerous lieux-dits. A lieux-dit is a specific plot within a commune which is regarded as producing better wine that the commune in general but not being classified as a Premier or Grand Cru. If a plot is classified as Premier Cru or Grand Cru many Burgundians refer to it as a Climat.

Gevrey-Chambertin produce full-bodied, structured wines that can be classified as being masculine. In their youth they can convey aromas of strawberry, mulberry and violets. With age the tertiary aromas come to the fore with more gamey and undergrowth (sous-bois) notes.

Domaine Gerard Seguin Gevrey-Chambertin Vielles Vignes 2000. The Vielles Vignes refers to old vines which produce less fruit as they get older and make more concentrated wines. For a Commune wine, 9 years old can be pushing it. This wine has certainly plateaued but there arestill a few years left before it dries out.

It displayed a lovely bright ruby colour indicating ageing. The palate was smooth with lean cherry fruit and a medium to long length on the palate. It retails at around €40.oo and was available from JYMI wines in Limerick.

Gevrey-Chambertin map copy

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Domaine Tempier 2001 copy

The wines of the South of France have generally been of a minor interest to me. I think that there is so much to learn about wine that you have to be selective and concentrate on your primary interests first.

The joy, however, is that then you can broaden your scope and revisit these areas and rediscover wines that you may have only had a cursory look at previously

The Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence tend to get lumped together and are often seen as an extension of the Rhone and good for Rose.

These areas are vitally important because they have their own distinct character and are the test centres for new winemaking techniques as well as experimentation with different grape varieties and blends.

The wines of the South of France first gained a worldwide reputation during the 1970s when the ‘flying winemakers’ from Australia would fly to the South of France to work. Having finished the harvest in the Southern hemisphere they could now work another vintage in France. They brought with them modern wine making techniques and a willingness to step outside the conventions of the strict appellation systems in France. These wines gained a reputation for their fruit forward style. The emergence of these wines also made people more curious about the various and diverse appellations of these regions. A rising tide lifts all boats.

So now we come to Provence. The main appellations are Bandol, Bellet, Cassis, Coteaux de Pierrevert, Cotes-de-Provence,  Côtes de Provence-Sainte Victoire,  Coteaux Varois,  Les-Beaux-de-Provence and Palette. If you ever have to discuss diversity in the South of France you may do well to remember Bandol and the Mourvedre grape. The red wines of Bandol must be made from a minimum of 50% Mourvedre. The remaining percentage can come from Cinsault or Grenache.

I decanted the Domaine Tempier Bandol 2001 and left for a few hours to soften out. I must point out that the ABV is 15%. The colour was a rich ruby with an orange glow from rim to core. The bouquet was quite alcoholic as you would imagine and interspersed with violet notes. On the palate the wine was a monster with great structure, medium tannins, red currant, dark fruit and a long lingering finish of liquorice. This wine needs food and would be hard to drink more thatn 2 glasses at a time. I bought this in Enowine about 3 years ago for around €24. It is available in Karwig wines and McCabes.

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mas de daumas gassacVin de Pays means ‘country wine’ and the suggestion is that wine at this level is of lesser quality than wine designated appellation controlee. In general this is a good rule of thumb but there are always exceptions to every rule.

It is true that the yields can be higher and the rules can seem more lax with Vin de Pays but one of the main reasons that these wines are not designated appelation controlee is that they choose to use grape varieties that are restrticted by the particular appellation of that region.

Mas de Daumas Gassac is one of these wines that shows the true potential of the Languedoc when paired with a commitment to making excellent wines.  When discussing the difference between appellation d’origine controlee wines and vin de pays I always mention Mas de Daumas Gassac to illustrate that just because a wine does not confirm to the appellation does not mean that it lacks quality. Mas de Daumas Gassac has been labeled the ‘Latour of the Languedoc’ and sells for €35-€40, not bad for a vin de pays. Available from Karwig Wines, Carrigaline and Le Caveau in Kilkenny.

Mas de Daumas Gassac is generally 80% Cabernet Sauvignon with the final 20% made up of a mix between Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Nebbiolo and Barbara to name a few.

I have had the luck to taste a number of vintages of Mas de Daumas Gassac and last weekend I opened a bottle of the 2001 vintage. I decanted the bottle and as I was pouring I noticed that the wine seemed to lack a bit of colour. I poured out a glass and the rim showed faint ruby tinges. What struck me even more was there seemed to be a slight vinegar smell in the air. I began to suspect that the wine had an excessive amount of Volatile Acidity. I left the wine for a few hours before tasting it. When I came back to the wine the nose seemed dull but there was some fruit along with the underlying hint of vinegar. On the palate there was the dark fruit that I associate with this wine but it just did not taste right. The length was shorter than it should be and there was a certain sourness that remained when the fruit flavours dissipated. I vainly tried to convince myself that it was going to improve but after 2 glasses I poured the rest down the sink muttering ”f*ck you Aime Guibert’. A real disappointment as this has been one of my favourite wines over the last few years.

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Sociando Mallet 98 copyWhen is a Cru Bourgeois not a Cru Bourgeois? The fact that Sociando Mallet is not a classified property is shocking but to also lack Cru Bourgeois on it’s label seems scandalous. In fairness I think Jean Gautreau just opted out of the Cru Bourgeois system himself and after the whole mess that ensued from the 2003 reclassification maybe he was right. For more information on the Cru Bourgeois classification visit the Wine Doctors excellent website. Now back to Socaindo Mallet. I had a look in my deminishing wine cellar and came across this gem that I had forgotten about. The recession dictates that I actually drink wine now instead of just laying it down. I was having filet steak for dinner so this seemed almost serendipitous. I decanted the wine and left to breathe for 6 hours. I regularly decant any decent Bordeaux in the morning and find that it has fully opened out by late afternoon. I poured the wine into a Riedel Sommelier Bordeaux glass that someone gave me by mistake  – they did not realise the value and neither did I. After a few swirls the aromas released some cedar notes and hints of dark fruit. The palate was rich and silky with restrained fruit flavours of blackcurrant,  liquorice and spice that lingered…Can’t remember how much I paid for it but I don’t think you would get much change out of €50 considering the age etc. 9/10 or 4.5 stars. I am sure there will be a few fine wine sales in the run up to Christmas so there may be options to pick up a few gems like this.

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