Summertime Part 2 – The Future Is Rosé (Provence Vs Languedoc)

With Summer in full swing, what better way to celebrate than with a chilled glass of something pink. Rosé is very much on trend at the moment, in fact, us blokes seem to be quaffing back more than the girls!  So, with a plethora of choices on the shelf which ones should you pick?

M de Minuty Rosé 2016 Côtes de Provence – Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren – Majestic £12.99

Overlooking the Med, on the Saint Tropez Peninsula, Chateau de Minuty produces Rosé in a classic Provence Style, Pale Salmon Pink, delicate on the nose with gentle notes of strawberry and citrus fruits. On the Palate, it’s a fresh burst of acidity that gives this wine a beautiful lively feel. Notes of candied fruit and citrus continue to give a wonderful and unusual length to the finish. The added inclusion of the relatively unknown Tibouren grape, almost exclusively Provencal, makes this an ideal choice for pairing with salads, fish and BBQ’s alike.

 

Whispering Angel 2016 Côtes de Provence – Caves D’Esclans – Sacha Lichine – Grenache, Cinsault, Vermentino – Amazon £16.99

Prime sites in and around the La Motte area of Provence, really give this wine and interesting character. Pale coral in colour, and with a nose of citrus, candied fruit, with a delicate floral edge. On the palate it’s got body, although dry there is a wonderful focussed acidity, delivering notes of grapefruit, red fruit and citrus finishing with a streak of silky minerality. Defiantly up there with the more complex of Rosé and pairing fantastically with grilled fish or seafood. Certainly, one to raise an eyebrow this summer.

Mas Sibert – Saramon – Vin De France – Sangiovese, Syrah –  Grape Opportunities £11.25

The first of the Languedoc Rosé’s – This offering from Garrigiste producer Mas Sibert, is a real star, using the unusual blend of Sangiovese and Syrah, this is an altogether different wine from the Pale Provence style. A beautiful blood Rosé, colour and a bouquet of cherry, white flowers and red fruits, this wine delivers freshness and complexity. On the palate, it’s wonderfully structured and bursting with red fruit, fresh strawberries and cherry. There is both balance and body to this, and it pairs perfectly with Pizza and salad, or even just on its own…

Domaine Balliccioni – Tradition Rosé – AOP Faugeres –  Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah – Grape Opportunities £10.99

Domaine Balliccioni produces a wonderful array of wines all representative of the unique terroir that is found in the Faugeres region, and this Rosé really underlines that. A gentle almost pink grapefruit colour, with a nose of red fruits, and wild garrigue. There is a real burst of acidity, making the prominent notes of red fruit and citrus standout. This is one fresh style of Rosé, finishing with a gentle minerality and a kiss of wild herbs, an excellent example from a passionate producer. Balanced and with great length, this is ideal with salad, goats cheese and grilled meats.

So, who makes the best Rosé? Is it the pale pink Provencal’s or the underrated Languedoc’s that triumph? Well the answer after extensive research and more than Just a quick Slurp is…. France. Quite simply the French produce Rosé wine better than anyone else in the world, and whilst there are regional variations in terms of terroir and grape variety, you simply can’t go wrong with anything from our French friends. – so, remember it’s not just your nose that goes pink in the Sun – why not treat yourself to something chilled, think pink. The future is indeed Rosé

To become a stockist or to enquire about availability please email info@grapeopportunities.com or call 07733 232 276.

Summertime Part 1 – Allez Les Blanc

As the sun rises high in to the sky, the evenings grow long and the temperature soars, what could be better than Just a Quick Slurp? Thankfully this summer seems to be one of the best in memory, and although we British are obsessed with the weather, it seems perfect to gather alfresco and pop a cork or two. Luckily in the interest of staying hydrated and of course research, I have picked out a few gems with which to arm yourself for when those evenings demand something refreshing and chilled – Bon Santé!

Domaine La Madura – Picpoul/Sauvignon- £12.50 – Exclusive to Grape Opportunities – grapeopportunities.com

This wine is a real summer winner, made from hand-picked, eco-friendly grapes grown in the unique Terroir around St Chinian in SW France. This is a bold reinvention of the Classic Picpoul, there is a wonderful nose of citrus and green apple, on the palate it’s fresh zippy and has a moreish length. This wine displays both poise balance and an unusual complexity, truly spectacular.  This is perfect as an aperitif but will pair wonderfully with goat’s cheese or fish. Limited production – Get It while you can.

Domaine Balliccioni – Leon Blanc -£11.25- Grape Opportunities, Clifton Cellars (Bristol) – grapeopportunities.com

Chardonnay gets a rough ride, often overlooked as unfashionable and forgotten, however this little offering from one of the masters of Faugeres breathes new life into an old friend. This chardonnay is steel tank matured to retain the freshness, with a nose of citrus fruit and melon. On the tongue, the classic wonderful crisp freshness of Chardonnay coupled with notes of lemon and peach. A wonderful balance of acidity and length leave you wanting more. Say Hello to an Old Friend.

Mas Peyrolle – Nativo -£17.25- Exclusive to Grape Opportunities – grapeopportunities.com

Pic St Loup is well known in the wine trade for it’s wonderful wines. Mas Peyrolle, a young winemaker with a big reputation has expanded his range with this offering, a blend of Marsanne, Rousanne, and Vermentino (Rolle) Thanks to the microclimate and Terroir this wine retains a nose of freshness, with the gentle perfume of green apple, stone fruit and lime flower. In the mouth it’s delicate and clean with the gentle citrus note and hints of wild herbs and floral notes. This is a nice wine to enjoy on its own or with a fresh Pelardon of goat’s cheese.

 Doamine Gaujal – Peuch De Claude – AOP Picpoul -£10.30- Exclusive to Grape Opportunities – grapeopportunities.com

Domaine Gaujal produces the Classic example of Picpoul, situated in the small Village of Pinet, on the edge of the Etang. This wine is a true classic in every way. Bursting with Citrus notes and the merest hint of elderflower, on the palate there is razor sharp acidity a wonderful citrus bite, this wine is clean fresh and focussed, balanced with a wonderful hint of the sea. Oysters and the freshest of seafood will make this wine sing.

To become a stockist or to enquire about availability please email info@grapeopportunities.com or call 07733 232 276.

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Take it to the Maximus

Maximiana – Minervois La Liviniere – 2008 – Avery’s.

Le Château Massamier La Mignarde, is a 70 hectaire vineyard nestled at the foot of the Montagne Noir, close to the historic town of Minerve. During the time of the Roman Empire a Legionnaire named Maximus set up camp in a Villa, he gave this the name Maximiana which is now Massamier.

The Vineyard is run by Frantz Vénes who Inherited the business from his parents, who themselves have made wine here for generations. This region is famous for the production of wines with character and body, it’s a region steeped in history with links to the old Occitan traditions, legends are abound with tales of Cathar strongholds and mysterious clandestine communities hiding secrets and treasure.  The people of this region, in particular Frantz, are passionate about their history and are involved heavily in the resurgence of the Occitan ways associated with the region. He can also make an excellent drop of wine!

Minervois La Liviniere is the Grand Cru of the region and is only recognised with wines produced from the best terroir, the resulting wines have an enormous complexity and length, so much so the Chateau Massamier won the Best red wine in the world in 2005.

This 2008 vintage is certainly a great example of what can be achieved. To the eye this is a beautiful almost opaque ruby colour. This wine has legs, muscular and strong at that – with 15% Alcohol it’s not hard to be slightly afraid. However, on the nose this wine gives a wonderful rich bouquet of blackberry and red cherry, there is sweet spice to match and a beautiful hint of cassis. Just a quick slurp gives way to a taste explosion, there are notes of cedar, blackcurrant, cherry, cassis and coco, hints of leather and coffee are also present with a faint whiff of tobacco and garrigue. The finish is very long and the balance of acidity tannin and alcohol is perfect. This wine is amongst my favourites, it’s a perfect representation of the terroir of Minervois and demonstates impeccable manners. Suited to Strong Cheeses and big game flavours this wine will never disappoint. Very much like the region it has a magical charm that draws you back time and time again. And people ask what did the romans do for us?

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Brouilly Brilliant !

Domaine Les Roches Bleus – Le Crus De Volcan – Brouilly 2016 – Clifton Cellars

Wine, like many other things in life is driven by what’s in fashion, or as the French call it La Mode.  The problem with this, being that if you drive your choice of acquisitions based around this fickle concept, you will likely sacrifice some rather wonderful things.

Take for example Beaujolais, which was the height of fashion in the mid 80’s amongst the filofax gripping yuppies. Sadly, all too often associated with the insipid and often headache inducing Beaujolais Noveau, Gingham table clothes and stale baguettes.  Consumers rarely looking further than mass consumption and bragging rights in the office, in recent years’ fashion has shifted and has resulted in Beaujolais being forgotten and judged as a fashion faux pas rather than on its substantial merits.

Luckily, for those of us willing to trade fashion for flavour Beaujolais is still producing excellent wines, which thankfully subtly find themselves gaining high praise.

Using the Gamay grape which once again has fallen out of fashion, the Vignerons of Beaujolais are largely responsible for Carbonic Maceration, resulting in exciting and often weird flavour elements which cover a spectrum ranging from bubble gum to blueberry right through to Cherries and Marzipan.

There are ten Beaujolais Cru’s representing the finest wines of the region, and Brouilly is one of the most Southerly, centred around the 1585ft of Mount Brouilly. The bluey purple Manganese soils supporting small goblet trained vines resulting in a high concentration of flavour and body.

Domaine Les Roche Bleus has produced an example which displays a ruby red colour,  It has a nose of classic Beaujolais bouquet, liquorice and marzipan blend with notes of red fruit and plums. A quick slurp confirms this with an emphasis on the plum and red fruits and a fresh burst of acidity. The tannins are silky and the finish is medium. The alcohol level is balanced and at 13% is deceptive and cleverly integrated. This wine is medium bodied and is both simple and complex. Pairing wonderfully with Chicken Chasseur or Charcuterie, or even Cotes de Porc Charcuterie… Something for the weekend Sir ?

 

Talli Ho!

Domaine Ollier Taillefer – Les Collines – Faugères- 2013 – POA

If you happened to read my last blog you will no doubt be aware of my quest to raise the profile of Faugères, one of the most interesting wine regions in the Languedoc. I am passionate about the area and about the producers who are responsible for creating some exciting wines with a wide-ranging appeal and complexity.

Domaine Ollier Taillefer, situated in the picturesque village of Fos, at an altitude of 250 meters, south facing with 35 hectares, producing wine in bottles since 1977, this Domaine is one of the longest established of the appellation. Originally producing wine under the VDQS (vin délimité de qualité supérieure) later achieving full AOC status in 1982.

The Domaine is now in the hands of Luc and Francoise Ollier, son and daughter of founders Nicole and Allain. The sibling team have pushed this traditional domaine forward, recently opening a new cellar and tasting building. Like the wines, it’s sympathetic to the environment and ecologically well thought out. Although Allain still takes a supervisory role, the wines are now made by Luc, with the majority hand harvested, whilst Sales are handled by Francoise.

Les Collines is the entry level wine, made with a blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Carrignan and a little Mourvédre, aged in concrete vats, it displays a wonderful ruby robe, uncharacteristically for a Faugères it’s almost light and delicate in colour. On the nose, classic Faugères, Garrigue notes all blending gracefully with sunshine and red fruits. A quick slurp reveals a gentle prickle of acidity, dark fruits and spice, interestingly all without the usual weighty finish, it’s almost characteristic of a Beaujolais in terms of freshness and balance. Pairing excellently with grilled lamb or even lightly chilled as an aperitif, certainly one for the coming summer season!

 

Fringe Benefits

Domaine Raymond Roque – Nature Faugères 2012 – 13% – POA- Grape Opportunities

Faugères is something of a passion of mine, responsible in part for this blog, and for my fascination with wine and it’s many styles. J’Adore! – Faugères like many regions has great diversity, some producers have low level vineyards, some have altitude, some carbonically macerate some don’t, one thing is certainly true however, it’s impossible to find one the same. Each has its own terroir, its own character, its own style, and its own story.

Domaine Raymond Roque is situated in the small village of Cabrerolles at the foot of the Pic de la Coquillade. With an altitude of 500 metres and at the appellations northerly fringes, this little village benefits from a near perfect microclimate.

Marc Roque, fifth generation winemaker, continues a tradition that began in 1874. Each generation gaining further recognition for the unique wines which are produced here. There is passion and style in the wines, and something unique, something natural. Marc was amongst the first Vingnerons in Faugères to achieve organic status in 1999, and with 30 hectares, all in Cabrerolles, manages to deliver blends of local grape varieties that retain the character and terroir so beloved of the area.

Nature, is something special a blend of Grenache noir and Carignan and made with no sulphur, it packs heady garrigue scent, black fruits, cherry and a touch of spice on the nose. This wine draws you in with a lure of spring freshness, for sure there is an intensity to the nose, and a deep ruby red to the eye. But what really sets this apart is how delicate the wine is on the pallet. There is a perfect balance between alcohol and acid, giving a fresh burst of Morello cherries, layered with blackberry and thyme. There are hints of spice and a gentle warmth, without being overcooked or jammy. The finish is medium and leaves a wonderful flash of acidity on the pallet. This wine will pair wonderfully with lamb or the local Merguez sausage, and if you can wait will age for another 2-3 years and only get better.

Nature, takes the best elements of Faugères and expresses them in a way which allows all the flavours and unique terroir to blend equally, once again highlighting the talent of winemakers in this area and their ability to move with the times. Gone are the days of over extracted wines lacking finesse and character… Did I mention I love Faugères? Bon Santé!  

 

Domaine La Madura

Nadia and Cyril Bourgne are making waves in the wine world, based in Saint Chinian in Languedoc they are producing wines with exceptional finesse and quality.

Taking full advantage of the unique terroirs of Saint Chinian, which include Shale, Clay and Limestone, as well as the more common Schiste, has allowed the wines to develop a complexity and elegance rarely seen.

The passion for producing such excellent wines is evident as soon as you meet Cyril and Nadia. Cyril has a background in Genetics and Biochemistry and expanded his knowledge to include Oenolgy, which later allowed him to become Estate Manager at Chateau de Fieuzal in Bordeaux. Nadia formerly, with a background in Tourism, nurtured a passion for wine and after further studies was awarded “young farmer” status.

With the acquisition of Domaine La Madura in 1999, the potential for producing great wines was realised, the numerous patchwork plots, and the varying altitude of between 150 and 300 meters was perfect. Saint Chinian has by nature a Mediterranean climate, but is also in close proximity to the Montagne Noire, and the Monts de l’Espinouse, this delivers a cooling wind which accentuates the freshness of the wines.

The estate has achieved HVE certification (High Enviromental Value), Cyril and Nadia believe in maintaining a sympathetic ideology to the environment, limiting the use of damaging sprays and fertilisers and using strict routines of pruning and inspection to eliminate any environmental pests.

Cyril and Nadia produce four Cuvée, two whites and two reds:-

Classic Red – 2013 AOC Saint Chinian

This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre, with the emphasis being on the Grenache and Carrignan. This is very well balanced example, and a perfect re-interpretation of classic wines of the area. There are notes of Cassis and Blackcurrent, as well as the enticing aroma of Garrigue and spice. A true Classic

Grand Vin Red -2012 AOC Saint Chinian

The Grand Vin is Mourvedre and Syrah led with small amounts of Grenache and Carrignan. There is a complexity to this wine with real notes of dark fruits, tobacco, and spice. The real surprise is the freshness that’s still apparent.  This is a brooding beauty of a wine which will continue to deliver in the coming years.

Classic Blanc 2014 Vin de Pays d’oc

This is an unusual blend of Picpoul and Sauvignon Blanc, Vinified in steel tanks for freshness and to enhance the varietal character. Simply put this wine is amazing, there is a high level of white stone fruit and citrus with a real zippy finish !

Grand Vin Blanc 2014  Vin de Pays d’oc

Picpoul and Sauvignon blend, but barrel fermented for increased dimension and body, citrus and peach but with floral notes and a long finish. Excellent

In summary, the wines produced by Domaine LA Madura and the care and passion with which they are crafted is huge, it was my pleasure to taste wines of such calibre – I look forward to championing them further in the future.

Domaine La Madura has recently completed a new building and tasting area, designed by architects Passelac et Roques which further enhances an already amazing site. Why not contact them if you are in the area and experience this wonderful Domaine for yourself.

http://www.lamadura.com/en/

 

Oyster Gratinée

Oyster Gratinée

During a recent visit to the Etang De Thau, in Languedoc-Roussillon, I discovered this recipe.Oysters are farmed extensively on the Etang, and are very popular, available in all markets and in most restaurants in some form or another.

Simple and delicious, the taste of the sea, combined with the combination of cream and cheese is irresistible. This dish is perfect as an aperitif, and when combined with a crisp white wine – Picquepoul de Pinet, is the local tipple, but a crisp Chardonnay -Unoaked, or a good Sauvignon will also do the trick. See Domaine Balliccioni Leon Blanc for a review.

 

Ingredients

Serves 2

12 x Oysters

Double Cream

Gruyere Cheese (Cave aged if possible) grated

 

Method

Open the Oysters carefully, remove any fragments of shell and loosen the oyster from its shell.

Empty the juice and replace back in shell.

Add 1 Teaspoon of cream to each Oyster. Then top with a generous amount of cheese.

Season with a twist of black pepper.

Place under a preheated grill until cheese is melted and beginning to brown. (Approx. 2-3 mins)

Serve

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Bouef Bourguignon

This is a perfect dish for this time of year, a typical dish of Lyonnaise and Burgundy, this is Raymond Blanc’s version, it’s the best version, even if there is a little bit of faffing involved.

I like to serve this with Gratin Dauphinois – There are lots of recipes for this available and almost every frenchman has his own version. You can find mine on this site as well.

Pair this dish with a heavy full bodied wine and you can’t go wrong, my ideal match is something retaining a little fruit bite to cut through the richness – Domaine Balliccioni – Tradition is perfect.

BOEUF BOURGUIGNON

INGREDIENTS

1 Bottle of red wine
(boiled down to 1/3 of its volume)
1 kg Feather steak cut into 5 cm cubes
250 gm Onion cut into 2 cm dices
80 gm Carrots peeled and cut into 2 cm dices
80 gm Celery cut into 2 cm dices
250 gm Flat mushrooms cut into 2 cm dices
1  Bay leaf
2 sprigs Thyme
2 stalks Parsley
30 gm Strong white flour
20 gm Unsalted butter
60 ml Vegetable oil
60 ml Chicken stock
20 gm Chopped garlic

Method

  1. Mix meat, herbs, carrot, celery, onion and wine in bowl
    2. Marinate in fridge for 24 hours (don’t cheat)
    3. Place in colander over a bowl and drain meat for 2 hours
    4. Place ingredients on a plate
    5. Melt all the butter and half the oil
    6. Brown the steak, in batches over medium heat, removing each batch once brown
    7. Place browned meat in colander to drain
    off any oil
    8. Colour marinade vegetables for 5-10 minutes
    9. Drain in colander
    10. Return meat and vegetables to casserole
    11. Add browned flour
    12. Cook and stir for 1 minute on low heat
    13. Add stock, garlic and wine
    14. Bring to the boil and cover
    15. Place casserole in oven and cook for 3- 31/2 hours at150C/300F/Gas2.
    16. Add mushrooms halfway through cooking
    17. Serve

TIPS
a) Browning the flour in will give the dish a deeper colour and a slight nutty taste.
Spread it on a baking tray. Bake at 220c for 8-12 minutes. You want a rich gold colour.

b) You can tie up the herbs with string to make a bouquet garni, this makes it easier to fish them out before serving.

c) Pinot Noir is best, the better the wine the better the dish.
d) The wine is reduced to intensify the taste. e) If at the end of the cooking you think the sauce is too thin, remove meat and keep warm, reduce sauce over a high heat.

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Gratin Dauphinois – The Only Way!

This dish is legendary, it’s perfect for a cold day, and warms the soul like nothing else. This version is my own version, developed after many conversations with various French men and women. It seems that this dish divides the French like no other. Some prefer to use cheese on the top others not. This version takes the traditional approach and blends a touch of the new. After a morning spent in the Vineyards of Pic St Loup and a wonderful Plat du Jour, a conversation was initiated that would reveal the secret, and the ONLY way to make this dish!  Merci JB!

 

Ingredients

  • Waxy potatoes – 1 Per Person (large Potato)
  • Double Cream 150ml
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Milk 150ml

 

Method

Set the oven to 160C –

Use a Mandolin to slice the peeled potatoes into 1mm slices

Peel a clove of garlic and cut in half, rub this around the base of a medium non-stick oven proof dish. Approx. 8cm deep

Rub the dish with some of the butter. Season with Salt and Pepper

In a saucepan place the sliced potatoes, then mix the milk and cream in a jug to combine. Season generously.

Add the garlic and cream milk mix to the saucepan, warm gently until you see the first small bubbles.

Take off the heat and tip into the dish, season the top again and dot with butter.

Place in the oven on the middle shelf for 45-1hr or until the liquid has all but disappeared and the potatoes are cooked.

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