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Monday, 29 September 2014

EASCA Tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants

A tasting of classic European wines with Cambridge ICAEW students at Cambridge Wine Merchants
Sometimes the day job and one's outside interests coincide; I was contacted by the committee of the East Anglian Society of Student Chartered Accountants who were looking to put on a wine tasting.
A few emails later and we had sorted a date, venue and established who would do what.
I chose eight old world wines, with an emphasis on classic standards, paired with a range of breads, salamis and cheeses.
I deliberately did not include prices as I wanted people to try the wines on their own merits, but the range was from around £10 to £30 for the Champagne and vintage port.
As I had a group of trainee Chartered Accountants, I took them through the explanation of how a bottle of wine retailing at the national average price of £5 includes about 50p's worth of actual wine whereas at £10, the value of wine is closer to £3.50.
Fizz is always a good place to start - with brioche and leesy orchard fruits, the Ayala Brut Majeur NV was elegant and precise; fine mousse and persistent finish.
Tio Pepe Fino En Rama NV is pretty much my benchmark for intense, full-flavoured, tangy fino; this was one of my top wines of the night but whilst there was general interest in the production method, the sherry itself did not meet with such universal approval.
However, the next wine proved very popular; Domaine Wachau Gruener Veltliner Federspiel 2013 was the popular choice of the night, its precise aromatics, minerality and structure proving familiar to Sauvignon Blanc drinkers looking for something different-yet-similar.
The final white was the big, oaky Esporao Branca Reserva 2012 - with ripe yellow stone fruit, buttery oak and sweet spice, it appealed to the Chardonnay-drinkers more than to the Sauvignon fans who liked the Gruener.
The first of the reds was, like the sherry, a one-time classic that has fallen out of favour and is making a gradual return to popularity. The Domaine Du Puits Beni Morgon 2013, one of the Beaujolais Crus, is an uncomplicated yet elegant easy-drinker with black cherry fruit with a touch of spice and violet aromas.

The Rosso del Palazzone NV is a declassified Brunello blended across years. It is complex and sophisticated with red fruits, leather and oaky spice.
The Lavinyeta Puntiapart* 2012 from Spain's Emporda region has a vibrant intensity and precise linear focus; a blast of red and black fruits with an assured, muscular-yet-supple structure.
The final wine of the night was a real treat - Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2001 port. Still youthful for a vintage port it was full of ripe primary fruit with eucalyptus and spice. Complex, vibrant and fresh, it was my wine of the night.
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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Loire Masterclass at Berry's

A Loire Masterclass at Berry's with Martin Hudson MW
The Loire has a quality that is not very much in mainstream fashion these days - a freshness and lightness to fall quietly in love with, rather than be bowled over at first acquaintance; marry, not snog.
For all its family resemblances, it is a diverse region of 63 appellations and varying climates with an average vineyard size of just 3ha.

It has the third largest vineyard area in France and produces more methode traditionelle fizz than Champagne.

France's longest river with a viticultural tradition dating back to the second century, the Loire's production is just over half white, a little over a quarter red, the rest rosé, fizz and sweet.
All these wines from Berry's were, as might be expected, elegant and faultless. The only consideration, then, is personal preference and value for money; prices started in the mid-teens and maxed out at around £40.
With four main regions ranging from maritime to continental, the Loire grows a wide range of grapes in varying styles. Its noblest, most versatile grape is the Chenin Blanc which, like Riesling, is highly responsive to terroir and can pretty much do anything - dry, sweet, sparkling; oaked and unoaked; young and aged.
The wines were accompanied by an elegant plate of canapés; a number of the wines that seemed a little ordinary on their own really showed their best with the right food.
St Maure (goat's - wines 1 and 2)
Pennard Ridge (hard white - wine 3)
Cave aged Cheddar (wine 4)
Asparagus quiche (wine 4)
Salmon rillettes (wine 5)
Lamb croquettes (wines 6 and 7)
Confit chicken wings with bbq sauce (no obvious match)

Aperitif: Touraine Sparkling rosé, Domaine Nicolas Paget with just 9m on the lees, this feels fruited rather than bready and autolytic; precise and elegant with a fine mousse.
Wine 1: 2012 Sauvignon de Touraine, Jean-Christophe Mandard modern-style SB with an aromatic nose and modern technique, kiwi-esque expressiveness. Cultured yeasts and cool fermentation enhance the aromatics.
Wine 2: 2012 Pouilly-Fume, Les Chants de Cri, Domaine Grebet more-traditional style, more restrained nose, but greater complexity and texture with a persistent minerality. A touch of flintsmoke from fossil limestone soils.
Wild yeasts; warmer fermentation and lees aging provide a more waxy texture.
Wine 3: 2011 Vouvray Sec, Vincent Careme with some new oak, this has spiced baked apples and conference pears, honey and blossom aromas and freshness. A persistent, honeyed finish but completely dry.
Wine 4: 2011 Savennieres, l'Enclos, Eric Morgat squeaky clean organic, biodynamic and oaked, this is a well-scrubbed exuberant hippy in a power suit.

Toasty-oaky musky nose, baked apples, vanilla sweetness and warmth. The grapes have some botrytis and are partially air-dried - giving it complexity, substance and a powerfullness that is not typically Loire.
Matches the white Pennard Ridge cheese; an impressive wine, but in this line up lacks the discreet elegance of the others, albeit another five or ten year's age may well solve that.
In the short term, it works well with the cave-aged cheddar.
Wine 5: 2012 Sancerre Rosé, Brigitte & Daniel Chotard a PN grown on its preferred soil of clay over kimmeridgian. Pale pink, gentle and pretty. Elegant and long with red fruits and some flintsmoke.
Made from young vines, it is supremely elegant if a little bland, but comes into its own with the salmon mousse.
Wine 6: 2011 Reuilly Rouge, Les Pierres Plates, Denis Jamain unusually dark and toasty for a Pinot, quite extracted and acidic with a grippy finish from cold soaking in stainless steel. Smokey, tobaccoey aromas.
Positively demands to be matched with the lamb croquettes.
Wine 7: 2010 Bourgueil, Grand-Mont, Domaine de la Chevalerie vibrant purple Cab Franc from a good year. Still youthful, primary and very focused - dark fruit, tobacco leaf, green bell pepper with spice and savoury notes.
Precise and expressive; ripeness with freshness; long and persistent. Will only improve with age.
Wild yeasts, large old oak foudres. Again, needs the lamb croquettes.
Wine 8: 2010 Quarts de Chaume, Domaine des Forges bright golden sandy yellow, roasted ripe peaches and some musky botrytis, just a hint of nail polish.
Roasted ripe peaches in butter, the richness of some new oak, cut through with freshness. It only lacks the delicately nuanced elegance of a really top Sauternes.
Delicious. Match with pate, foie gras or blue cheese.
There was nary a bad wine here and all were at least Good. My top wines for drinking now were the Vouvray Sec and the Quarts de Chaume, but I would lay down the Savennieres and the Bourgueil.
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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Chemin de Moscou 2008, Domaine Gayda

Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou

This was a gift from a wine contact after a tasting and had been sitting under the stairs for a couple of years - when I previously tried it, I had felt it would benefit from further aging.

Dark inky purple, aromas of dark fruits, leather and gaminess.

Sweet ripe dark berries, sweet spices and dried green herbs - a lithe tannic grip and a warming finish.

Drinking very nicely now with plenty more years ahead of it.

Very Good.

Match with venison steak, pigeon or pheasant.

Available (newer vintages) from Cambridge Wine Merchants priced £21.99.

Other related articles
Gayda at Pays d'Oc IGP Tasting
Chateau d'Angles

Friday, 19 September 2014

Michel Lenique NV Blanc de Noirs, Champagne

Michel Lenique NV Blanc de Noirs
Sandy yellow, musky russet appleskin.
Fresh citrus acidity with a malic tartness, very fine mousse.
Elegant yet angular, it is not without ambition and substance, but somehow not completely convincing.
Drink as an aperitif or with seafood vol-au-vents.
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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Dourthe N° 1 Rouge 2011 - The Wine Society

Dourthe N° 1 Rouge 2011 from The Wine Society

After the great year of 2010, Bordeaux vintages seem to have got ever more difficult with 2013 being an almost complete wash-out.

This 2011 has a typical - and quite expressive - Merlot nose of red fruits, leather and spice; juicy acidity with a supple texture and some persistence.
A relatively light wine, it feels modern and well-crafted but not especially substantial.
Like pretty much everything from The Wine Society, it is technically correct; a modern, entry-level right bank Bordeaux from a less-than-great year.

£8.50 from The Wine Society, provided for review.

60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot

Other related articles
Dourthe Reserve, 2009 - Montagne St Emilion

Monday, 15 September 2014

Juan Gil 12 Meses 2012

An old-vine Monastrell from Bodegas Juan Gil 12 Meses

Gutsy Spanish red - all baked fruit, oak and alcohol. Not without its attractions and will surely appeal to some, but its overblown, blowsy "look-at-me" style is not for me.

It's the oneological equivalent of Peter Griffin doing sexy.

If your idea of foodie heaven is dipping a Flake into hot chocolate, this could be for you.

"Don't fancy yours much."

Image credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3759970.stm

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Jura - A Rough Guide‏

A visit to Chateau-Chalon in Jura
Jura is like a staircase, says our hotelier; you have the plain below (and there is a magnificent view of it from our bedroom window) and we are on the first step.
We are in Chateau-Chalon, a small, hilltop town about an hour's drive east of Beaune. The drive is completely flat until, for the last few kilometers, there is a steep climb, emerging onto a a rocky precipice. This is Chateau-Chalon and our hotel room looks straight back at the Cote d'Or.
The hotelier goes on to say explain that there is a plateau behind us, before the foothills to the Jura mountains, another plateau and then the mountains themselves which lead up to the Swiss border.
After a brief stop-off in Chateau-Chalon, we will make this journey before dropping down to Lake Geneva and onwards.
Geographically located between Alsace and Burgundy, Jura shares a family resemblance to both places but also has its own personality.
Where Alsace's wine route is a pretty Franco-Germanic Disneyland full of timbered houses with flowery hanging baskets and Beaune the aristocratic capital of an ancient duchy, Jura feels rural and unspoilt.
That means, in part, that its charms are less immediately obvious to the outsider - as true of its wines as of its geography.
Arriving in Chateau-Chalon, we find a few tourists milling around the town, but not the hoards of coach-trips of Alsace or the plentiful oenophiles who descend on Burgundy's slopes and cities.
Instead, there is a quieter feel - and almost no English is spoken. There is a church and an abbey, view-points and caveaux with degustations, but it is not as prominent or well-developed as in neighbouring wine regions.
A visit to nearby Arbois confirms the same pattern - there are some things here for the sightseer, but in general Jura feels more like a place to enjoy living and being in than one that wears its tourist attractions on its sleeve.
It is quiet and pastoral rather than bustling and touristy.
We stay at the Relais des Abbesses, a hotel in the centre of the town. It is small, informal and welcoming; our evening meal takes the format of a dinner party - a long table and plates of communal food served by our host Andre along with conversation.
For a very modest €25, we get a starter, main, cheese, dessert and coffee plus regularly filled jugs of wine.
The highlight of the meal is the main course - pork medallions in a cream and wild mushroom sauce - but the choice of cheeses - Morbier, Comte and Chaorce - is a close second.
The following day, we walk around Chateau-Chalon then taste and buy some wine from Jean-Claude Credoz.
His reds, a Poulsard and a Trousseau, are light, cherry-fruited and clean - textbook entry-level Jura reds.
Of the whites, the old-vine Chardonnay has a dense texture and the Savagnin has a classic Jura cidery sharpness; the vin jaune in a 62cl clavelin is the most impressive of all - nutty, textured and evolved.
Jura wines are not cheap - entry-level prices are a few euros more than is the case in much of the rest of France; the best value, to my mind, is in the upper-end whites which offer unusual, if not unique, flavours and textures.
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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Pure Chablis - The Overview‏

Impressions of Chablis from a vineyard tour organised by BIVB with Eric Szablowski
Chablis is all about focus - one grape, one colour, one appellation, one ideal aspect and exposure, one soil type.
The wines themselves are also characterised by a nervy, cool-climate focus and precision.

As with so many historic wine regions, it is really only on a visit there that one starts to understand the nuances and variations of geography, geology and terrain that result in differences in the finished wines.

Chablis is a pretty little historic market town with a feel that is part northern French, part central European; there are handsome farmhouses, shuttered windows and perpendicular architectural lines.

But there are also Germanic timber beams, hanging baskets and a pretty riverside area that would not be out of place in Strasbourg or Colmar; the existence of a small synagogue provides further evidence of links to a more central European past.

Chablis is then, like so many places on the great European landmass, subject to many influences - part of Burgundy and growing the Burgundian grape (known here as Beaunois - the grape from Beaune), the cuisine is also clearly Burgundian.

Yet it is closer to Champagne than to Dijon, has stronger historic and oenological links with Champagne and has Champagne's challenge of ripening grapes in a cold, northerly climate.

Heretical as it may be, it may even make sense to think of Chablis as more of a southerly outpost of Champagne, making still whites, than the northern tip of Burgundy.

In any case, vines, viticulture and winemaking knowhow were first brought here by Cluniac monks from the Maconnais - in the ancient order, nobles dealt with territorial matters, the peasantry worked the land and the monasteries were bastions of knowledge, both sacred and temporal.


The town of Chablis sits on a river, the Serein, which flows north and brings damp, chilly air to the valley floor. For this reason, vines are only planted on the hillsides of this small town and of 20 surrounding villages.

Only hillsides with a southerly aspect get enough sun to ripen grapes fully - the best, a group of seven, face due south with just the right angle of incline, undulation and shelter to produce grapes for the top wines - these are the Grand Cru vineyards and produce the most concentrated and complex Chablis with significant aging potential.

Lesser vineyards have only a partly south-facing aspect, less shelter or a slightly different soil composition, meaning the wines they produce are not quite as intense, concentrated or powerful as the Grands Crus; these are the Premiers Crus and AOC Chablis.

To be classed as Chablis, the grapes must be grown on a soil type known as kimmeridgian - once a shallow, prehistoric sea-bed, kimmeridgian soil is an undulating mix of clay and fossil limestone extending in a subterranean arc all the way to Kimmeridge in Dorset.

Atop the hills around Chablis, the soil abruptly changes to a harder, solid limestone known as Portlandian. The vines up here are exposed less directly to the sun and, less well-nourished by the mineral soil, produce Petit Chablis, a "young' or "junior" Chablis.

Petit Chablis shares its name and key characteristics with Chablis proper and is an easy entry level to the world of Chablis.


Making Chablis - whether petit or Grand Cru - is little short of a triumph over nature. Late frosts are the most common problem and the locals have evolved two ingenious solutions.

The first involves burning petrol at around 4am, the most frost-prone time of night, to create a small cloud of cover for the vines which burns off quickly once the sun arrives.

The second, less pollutive, is to spray the vines with water which forms a layer of frozen protection on the outside but remains liquid inside.

Fast forward to late summer and the greatest risk becomes rain which brings the right conditions for mildew and oidium. At this point, all the vignerons can do is hope and wait.

In such a demanding climate, vines do not achieve the longevity that is possible further south; in any case, the economic climate prohibits the aging of vines to the point where they produce just a handful of grapes each.

Expensive to produce, at its best Chablis is one of the world's great wines, but not (yet) adequately recognised as such. This means that the greatest value is to be found at the upper end rather than the lower.

A bottle of inexpensive Petit Chablis serves as a good introduction to the region and hints at what the Premiers Crus and Grand Crus have to offer. Light, greenish and sharp, it makes a good aperitif.

The best Grand Cru Chablis, aged to golden maturity over five to ten years, tastes strong and important, hard but not harsh, complex and assured.

Other related articles
Pure Chablis - The Tour

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Dinner with Francisco Baettig, Vina Errazuriz

Tasting and Dinner with Francisco Baettig, Vina Errazuriz
Chile is the Guns 'n' Roses of wine - too much talent squandered.
Whether Chile has it just too easy or is overly in thrall to the bigger-is-better tastes of its northern export neighbour, this country with so much potential seems to make liking its wines so difficult at times.
I first got excited about Chile's potential, then rather bored and eventually stopped calling.
So I was intrigued at the opportunity to meet Francisco Baettig, oenologist at Errazuriz, over dinner to find out where the country is at these days.
Francisco started by talking about Chile's geography - a long, thin country with mountains and cooling sea breezes. I knew all of this already.
It was when he moved on to the Vision Thing that I got interested: hot years being a problem, not a blessing; lower alcohol levels; a more-European style of food wines; old oak. Now he had my attention.
I have heard this only from a small number of vanguard, European-focused winemakers in Chile. I mentioned a few names and it turned out that Francisco knows them and shares a common vision.
We started with a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc - with just a month's bottle age, it felt taut, linear, precise and cool climate. More expressive and pungent than a Sancerre (especially with some aeration and warmth), but with the same underlying minerally steeliness.
A 2013 Chardonnay with 12m in old oak was equally well-defined with florality, buttery sweetness and fresh citrus.
The most interesting white and my top wine of the night was a 2011 Rhone blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.
A unique blend to Chile, it was floral with sweet spice, waxy-yet-fresh and densely concentrated. Initially, the oakiness on the nose dominates, but with aeration it becomes more nuanced and interesting.
One does not especially associate Chile with wines for laying down, but these whites all showed that they will improve with age.
On to the reds and the Pinot Noir was full of sweet, ripe cherry fruit with freshness and perfectly ripe tannins, just a hint of Burgundian farmyard.
The Syrah had a family resemblance, with ripe dark fruits, spiciness, freshness and rounded, ripe tannins.
Both wines were technically very correct, but not quite spot on - I had a nagging sense that something was not quite right.
Eventually I realised; it was a muscular assertiveness - more tannic backbone underpinning the fleshy ripeness. These wines had all the curves but just not quite enough of the frame.
The final flight of reds was four vintages of Don Maximiano, the flagship wine.
The oldest, 2007, now showing some aged character, is big and alcoholic with grippy tannins.
The 2008 is sweet, ripe and fruity, but still primary and quite warming.
The 2010 has more vanilla sweetness.
But the 2011 was a revelation - savoury, mineral, long and concentrated. It was both smart and sexy.
All the wines on the evening had a distinct personality - some were lean and angular, others big and blowsy; a couple were just the right combination of intriguing and beautiful.
It was like I'd had dinner with Keira Knightly, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Feltz, a drag queen trio and Emily Maitlis.
In reality, as I headed off down the restaurant, there was Dawn French having a tete-a-tete dinner with someone - but I didn't have the courage to wink at her or ask for a selfie.
In any case, my favourites were the Rhône blend and the 2011 Don Maximiano.
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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Miss Vicky Wine - Clairet, 2013

Miss Vicky Wine Chateau Ballan-Larquette Bordeaux Clairet from Smiling Grape

Clairet is a dark rosé style of wine originating in Bordeaux; it is the source of the word "claret", albeit that now refers to red, rather than rosé, Bordeaux.

This Chateau Ballan-Larquette Clairet from Miss Vicky Wine, stocked by Smiling Grape, was selected by a jury of 15 bloggers from France.

Dark rosé coloured, it is all about fruit and acidity, with lots of ripe, juicy red berries, freshness and a hint of minerality.

Pleasant in a fruity sort-of-way, there is nothing to offend, nothing challenging or complex; it's the sort of unassuming wine serve to guests on arrival or have with casual friends.

Serve as an aperitif, with salmon starters or as a picnic wine.

Provided for review.

Other related articles
Mateus Expressions 2013
Two Sophisticated Summer Rosés

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Les Pionniers 2004‏ At A Decade

The Co-op's Les Pionniers 2004 Champagne

Now at a decade of age, this Co-op vintage fizz is only just starting to feel mature - I first reviewed it in 2013 and felt it would continue to improve with age.

A year on, it has developed noticeably and just been awarded awarded three “World Champion” titles at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships 2014*.

Made in partnership with Piper and Charles Heidseick, it is a blend of 39% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier.

Golden sandy yellow, it is complex, precise and assured, with orchard fruits and hints of redcurrant, musky melonskin, yeasty-biscuitiness and a fine mousse; taut citrus acidity, some aged, nutty character and a persistent minerality.

Very Good.

Crisp enough for an aperitif, but will match well with seafood starters and roast guineafowl.

The Co-operative Les Pionniers Champagne 2004, £24.99; provided for review.

Other related articles
Les Pionniers 2004‏ Champagne - The Co-operative
Les Pionniers Champagne NV - The Co-op‏

*Its awards are:
- “World Champion Supermarket Vintage Champagne”
- “World Champion Greatest Value Champagne”
- “World Champion Vintage Brut Blend”.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Hunter Valley's Tyrrell - Just Fine‏

Dinner with Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrell's Wines at Hakkasan
The future of Australian wine is to get fine or get big, says Bruce Tyrrell to me.
We are having dinner at Hakkasan, the upmarket Asian restaurant in Mayfair, with a selection of Bruce's wines. He is the 4th generation of the Tyrrell family to make wine and something of a hero of Australia's Hunter Valley.
Bruce dates the big push into vineyard plantings as the late 1960s - a combination of fashion, tax breaks and a stock market gold rush led to a sudden increase in the number of wineries.
Fast forward forty-odd years and the market is in quite a different place. Bruce believes that decade from now, Australia will no longer be an easy place for suppliers of mid-market cheerful quaffers.
At the bottom end, there will be industry consolidation into a small number of commodity beverage producers - at the top end, it will be all about fine wine.
The country that gave us varietalism, it seems, will fully embrace terroir.
Eighty miles north of Sydney, Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest winemaking region - some of Bruce's vines, on ungrafted rootstocks, are over a century old - and is the spiritual, if not original, home of Semillon.
Hunter Valley Semillon comes in two guises - the old way was to age it in oak but these days it's all about unoaked freshness.
Snappy and fresh in its youth, Semillon ages to a complex, lanolin waxiness with time. Hunter Valley Semillons are also surprisingly light, just 10%.
If there's nothing else quite like them in the world, they are perhaps best described as resembling distant cousins of Vinho Verde and Mosel Riesling.
Zippy enough for an aperitif, they also stand up to the strong flavours of the Pacific Rim food of Hakkasan.
We choose a mixture of meat and fish and tuck in.
The entry-level wines are fresh and precise with zesty grapefruit; in better years they feel more generous yet still taut, whilst the top wines add an assured, complex, flintsmoke-mineral texture.
For the heavier sauces, Bruce serves some of his reds - the Shirazes have a poise, freshness and precision that is more northern Rhône than new world with redcurrants, sour cherries and spicy black pepper amongst the ripe dark berries.
If the prices are also rather Rhône-esque, that only confirms Bruce's view that it's all about getting fine.
The wines
Lost Block Hunter Semillon 2013 - £14.49
HVD Semillon 2007 - £28.99
Vat 1 Semillon 2008 - £35.99
Johnno's Hand Pressed Semillon 2011 - £62.99
Lost Block Heathcote Shiraz 2011 - £14.49
Four Acres Shiraz 2009 - £62.99
Other related articles
Sarah Ahmed's review of the evening

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

La Guintrandy‏, Visan - Rhône

The wines of La Guintrandy in Visan, Rhône; part of Patrimoine des Terroirs
Olivier Cuilleras worked as a winemaker in Condrieu before taking over his parents' estate just outside Visan in the southern Rhône.
They had farmed around 30 hectares of vines mostly on the hillsides and a plateau surrounding their farmhouse, but sold all their grapes to the local co-op.
With his winemaking experience, Olivier decided to handle some of the production himself and bottle his own wines.
His wines are predominantly Grenache-based, typical for the region, but he also produces a white blend of Viognier and Grenache Gris as well as a rosé. The whites and rosé are fermented in stainless steel, the reds in concrete tanks.
We met him one afternoon whilst staying in the region and, with some friends and a Belgian couple who also turned up, tasted our way through his wines.
Visan is a southern town with a ruined hilltop castle and a view of the rocky alpine foothills. In late summer, it is a dry and dusty, sleepy sort of place.
That dryness and some strong breezes keep the vineyards naturally free of pests and allows the grapes to sit on the vines until late September for full maturity.
As a result, the wines are big and substantial - Olivier's top wine, Louise-Amélie is around 15.8% alcohol, yet feels balanced with ripe fruit and spiciness.
It is only just ready for drinking now and can be aged for several more years.
2010 was one of a pair of back-to-back good years in the Rhône and it was no surprise that the flagship wine from the good year showed best.
A couple of the lesser wines from more difficult recent years felt a touch over-extracted - a cooler year demands a gentler hand in the cellar with a lighter wine as a result.
I was impressed by two more wines - Le Deves, which is the name of the local region and his Cairanne which in 2012 is a Cotes du Rhône Village but from 2014 is set to be an AOC Cairanne if all goes to plan.
The wines are best matched with spiced, strongly-flavoured red meats. Once fully mature, the Louise-Amélie is a perfect match for game.
La Guintrandy's wines are available at the cellar door in Visan (signposted from the centre of Visan) and internationally via Patrimoine des Terroirs.
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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Pure Chablis - The Tour

Photos from a tour of the Chablis vineyards organised by the BIVB and run by oenologist-turned-tour-guide Eric Szablowski of Au Coeur du Vin

We are chauffeured by Eric in a vintage 2CV

Looking down the slope: kimmeridgian soils - for Chablis
Looking up: portlandian - for Petit Chablis

The change-over of soil types is very pronounced, and marked by a track

A view of the Grand Cru vineyards across the valley

Eric at the wheel as we descend

The tasting room

The kimmeridgian rock samples - with fossil shells

Other related articles
Pascal Bouchard Chablis Grand Cru 2010 - Waitrose
Food Matching With Chablis at Inder's Kitchen‏