Summertime Part 3 – Red, Red, Wine!

With summer days come long and lazy summer evenings, the BBQ gently grilling juicy meats, crisp fresh salads full of flavour, the perfect chip, a magnificent Merguez! All things that can make It a challenge to find a wine that can deliver, big and bold is not always best in this situation. Sure, you can go for the usual big Aussie brut, you could even go for something Beaujolais in style, gentle and chilled perhaps? But why not go for something a little more unusual? Southern France is a mecca for such wines, and as usual I’ve taken Just a Quick Slurp to bring you a brace of beauties with which to accompany those late summer grills.

Domaine Madura – La Madura Classic –AOC St Chinian – Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Morvedre- Grape Opportunities £12.50

Domaine Madura offer an amazing twist on the standard GSM blend, ripe berries and a tantalising freshness, coupled with a gentle waft of cocoa. The wines produced from this Domaine in St Chinian are a perfect expression of the terroir. Showing freshness, balance and length.  Masterfully created with sympathy to the soil and the environment, pairing perfectly with juicy grilled meats. But great on its own as well.

Mas Peyrolle – Gourmandise – Languedoc – Grenache, Cinsault- Grape Opportunities £11.99

Mas Peyrolle, maverick young winemaker from the Pic St Loup Appellation delivers an excellent BBQ tipple with Gourmandise. Wild garrigue notes and blackcurrant on the nose give way to a wonderful layer of black fruits on the palate, balanced and precise there is a note of liquorice and a fresh burst of acidity. This is one fresh and balanced wine – representative of the microclimate of Pic St Loup and with length, complexity and finesse – pairing perfectly with almost anything you can grill and most of what you can’t. A Classic in the making.

Domaine Balliccioni – Tradition AOP Faugères – Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah – Grape Opportunities £11.99 

Domaine Balliccioni continues to re-invent the classic Faugères, Tradition is the perfect BBQ treat. With a nose of black fruits and spice, on the pallet it’s packed with ripe red and black fruits. This wine is fresh and has a great body and length, it’s the perfect match to Entrecote De Bouef and will partner a warm salad de Chevre as effortlessly as it will a Pave de Salmon.

Domaine De Ju – AOP Ventoux – Grenache – £9.99 Averys of Bristol

Produced in the relatively new appellation of Ventoux – the Vineyards over-look the famous Chateau Neuf du Pape are the highest in the Southern Rhone and are perched on the slopes of Mont Ventoux itself. On the nose it’s red fruits, spice and cherry. On the palate it’s the same story, cherry and red fruits and a gentle freshness not usually found in wines in this area. Good length and well-rounded – Perfect summer drinking.

The wines featured are excellent quality – they will pair with the BBQ or on their own are a perfect summers evening tipple, the quality and style represented by the winemakers of Languedoc is causing quite a stir, wave goodbye to those overcooked southern hemisphere styles, and bienvenue nouveau Languedoc! Bon Santé

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!