Summertime drinking…Mirabeau Roses

Jul 03, 15 Summertime drinking…Mirabeau Roses

Posted by in All, France

Now that the weather is cooperating, more or less, and giving us lots of nice and sunny days, I’ve been breaking out the rosé wines. I recently received a few samples of the Mirabeau rosés and loved them. Mirabeau have an interesting back story, actually, they have the one we all have about chucking everything in and moving to the south of France but they actually did it. In 2009 Stephen Cronk quit the rat race and upped sticks with his wife and three children, leaving the suburbs of southwest London for the foothills of Provence. I met Stephen recently at the Taste of London and he had no regrets about leaving the rat race. Stephen did loads of research finding the best vineyards in Provence before setting up shop. They brought an impressive international winemaking team together led by Jo Ahearne MW. It’s one of the most accomplished teams in their field and they employ the most current winemaking techniques from around the world, while concentrating on building lasting relationships with local growers. The result are award winning rosés, the Mirabeau Classic which has aromas and flavours of wild strawberry, raspberry and redcurrant , light and lively on the palate, it’s an absolute thirst quencher. Their premium rosé, the Mirabeau Pure has hints of grapefruit, cherry and orange blossom but is fuller and a wine with more depth. It’s a “gastronomic”wine as they say, meaning it would be a great companion at your lunch or dinner table. Mirabeau rosés are available in the UK at Waitrose and online. They’re also active Twitter users so follow them @mirabeauwine Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Dive Bouteille – wine tasting under the hills of Saumur

Feb 08, 15 Dive Bouteille – wine tasting under the hills of Saumur

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I was on Day 2 of my natural, biodynamic and organic wine tasting trip in the Loire and today we were in the town of Saumur for the 16th annual Dive Bouteille tasting. The Dive tasting is the oldest and most important natural wine tasting around. It was originally started by producers who wanted to showcase their wines outside of the annual Loire Valley Salon de Vins and has expanded to include wines from all over the world. The tasting took place under the hills of Saumur in the caves of Loire valley producer Ackerman wines. Ackerman are not organic, natural or biodynamic but the caves are amazing, with very high ceilings. The troglodyte caves are carved out of the tuffeau rock of the region and are used for art installations and exhibitions. The caves are strategically lit with coloured lights all of which make it a funky venue for a natural wine tasting. The lions share of producers were from France but there were also producers from Italy, Spain, Georgia, Serbia, The US, Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa and even sake from Japan. The Loire Valley was well represented but some of the most intriguing producers were from the US and Australia. Granted, they were not heavily represented but the few that I found had provocative wines. La Garagista’s wine maker Deirdre Heekin aims to put Vermont wines on the map. Deirdre is definitely of the no-intervention school of winemaking. Her vines are organic and she uses hybrids that are bred to thrive in cold climates. Cybele, La Crescent, Marquette and Frontenac  are the main grapes she uses. I first tried her sparkling wine made from the Cybele grape. It was relatively dry with good acidity. I didn’t know what to expect so this made for a pleasant surprise. I next tried the Frontenac. I was a bit dubious about red wine from such a cool climate but the Frontenac  had weight and body to it was well as a black fruit profile. Deirdre and her...

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Tasting natural, organic and biodynamic wines at the Renaissance des Appellations Greniers St. Jean

Feb 05, 15 Tasting natural, organic and biodynamic wines at the Renaissance des Appellations Greniers St. Jean

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What is ‘natural’ wine, exactly? Is it wine that is made without intervention – and what exactly does that mean? Is it wine that only has sulfur added at bottling? Or wine that has no added sulfur whatsoever? Or is it wine that is organically/biodynamically grown? After spending the weekend in the Loire at two of the biggest organic, biodynamic, natural wine tastings in France, I still don’t know what makes a wine ‘natural’ but it was interesting to taste through those wines. There were lots of hits but also some misses. Personally, I don’t like so called ‘natural’ wines and that term is a massive turn off for me. Wine is by definition a man made product. Grapes don’t usually pick, crush, ferment and bottle themselves, so I’m a bit suspicious of those ‘natural’ wine people. When I first was introduced to natural wines, many years ago, I was intrigued but since then I’ve had way too many faulty ‘natural’ wines to automatically think ‘natural’ means better or quality wines.  I admit I wasn’t going into these tastings with a very open mind but as I was there and had paid to get in, I should at least give them a try. The first tasting I attended was the Renaissance des Appellations Greniers St. Jean in Angers, France. The tasting is made of a group of mainly French winemakers with a smattering of other European countries included all of who are at the very least are organic and have to tend their vines in a biodynamic way. Some of the producers there called themselves natural wine makers, some didn’t.  Things are a bit murky when it comes to being certified biodynamic and some producers don’t want the certification because if they have to deviate one year from biodynamic principles they lose their certification and have to start the process all over again. I’ve always been drawn to producers who grow and make their wine biodynamically. When I taste these wines, I usually find...

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A visit to Vignobles Foncalieu in the Languedoc

Jun 26, 14 A visit to Vignobles Foncalieu in the Languedoc

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Doesn’t that pool look inviting? And that view! I was staying at Chateau Haut-Gleon for a few days visiting and learning all about the wines of Vignobles Foncalieu. Vignobles Foncalieu is the oldest co-op in the Languedoc. The co-op was founded in 1967 and today is producing well priced and good quality wines. While I was there, we had the opportunity to meet various producers and visit the vineyards to see how the co-op is not only keeping up with the times but leading the way in promoting single vineyard and premium wines from the Languedoc. The Languedoc has had a reputation for producing cheap and/or bulk wines. Foncalieu is looking to change that perception with their new range of international and indigenous variety wines as well as their premium range, Les Grands Vins. The co-op is composed of 1,200 committed and passionate wine growers (many of whom we had the chance to meet) and is the only co-op with vines in all the wine making departments of the Grand Sud region. They have over 5,100 hectares and offer a diverse style of wines. Vignobles Foncalieu has a relatively new line of wines, called Le Versant. Le Versant wines are made from specially selected vines with the best exposure, planted on the slopes of the Languedoc’s maritime terroirs near Carcassonne. The wine growers decided a few years ago that they wanted to create accessible and modern wines for consumers. They pooled their resources and knowledge and selected specific hillside plots. They range includes chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, pinot, grenache and marselan. The Le Versant 2013 pinot noir was recently chosen by Tim Atkin for the Languedoc Roussillon Sud de France Top 100. I bet you’re wondering about that pool? The Haut-Gleon chateau was bought by the co-op in 2012 to boost the image and visibility of Foncalieu with this flagship estate. The chateau is set amongst 36 hectares of vines within 260 hectares of garrigue and forest. The chateau is fully...

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Charmed by the Dordogne River Valley

May 14, 14 Charmed by the Dordogne River Valley

Posted by in All, France, Travel

I recently came back from the Dordogne region of France. If you’re like me, the Dordogne rings a bell as one of the rivers of Bordeaux. But, it’s a lot more then that. The river may end in Bordeaux but it’s starts far inland and the history that courses along it’s riverbanks goes back to the Middle Ages and beyond. I wasn’t thinking about that as we landed in Brive. We were on the inaugural RyanAir flight from London to Brive and it was a bit of a bumpy landing. It seems it can be a bit windy in this part of France but  before we knew it, we were on the ground. Ryan Air now flies twice a week to Brive from Stansted Airport. Thankfully, our first stop of the afternoon was to the charming house of Denoix liqueurs. The Denoix family have been making the speciality of the region, liqueurs de noix, as well as a whole host of flavoured liqueurs since 1839. Not much has changed in the production of the liqueurs, we were shown the stone wheel that they still use to crush the walnuts as well as the copper pots that they use to infuse the liqueurs. The family use only all natural ingredients, including fennel, star anise, and orange peel amongst other ingredients. It was a lovely introduction to the region. Later that evening we dined at Chez Francis, local institution of a restaurant which is famous for the graffiti left on it’s walls by literery visitors. I loved the various drawings and scribblings that covered the walls and even the ceilings. Of course, I had to leave my mark 😉 The next day was full on sight seeing starting with the town of Turenne, which I insisted on pronouncing as Tureen, still can’t get my head around that. Turenne is a medieval town famous for being built at such a commanding height and also as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The castle atop the hill is...

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