Have you ever tasted liquid gold? Make this Christmas one to remember with late harvest Domaine Rotier Renaissance dessert wine.
Since the 2011 harvest, the Gaillac AOC is one of only three wine regions in all of France that have the right to call their sweet white wines ‘Vendanges Tardives’ or late harvest.
Pick of the bunch is Domaine Rotier’s Renaissance Gaillac Doux, which has been making waves f or many years prior to the addition of ‘Vendanges Tardives’ on the label. If it’s good enough for Robert Parker, then I guess that’s good enough. http://bit.ly/1txuu7L
This rare appellation doesn’t come easy – it means obligatory hand-picked grapes, the usual element of noble rot, and ageing in French oak barrels for at least 12 months.
The late harvest means the wine is made from much riper grapes with more concentrated flavour and added sugar.
Of course, there are lots of other well-known dessert wines out there, Sauternes, Jurancon and Alsace spring to mind – but in our humble opinion – this one from Domaine Rotier is easily a match for Château d’Yquem and at just a fraction of the price. http://bit.ly/1txuu7L
Rotier’s Renaissance Gaillac Blanc Doux is 100% Loin de l’Oeil grape (far from the eye) – a grape variety unique to Gaillac and the south-west of France.
On the nose, it presents aromas of apricot, figs and quince. It is deeply concentrated in flavour and velvety on the palate.
This dessert wine will keep for at least 10-12 years – best enjoyed with warm foie gras and figs (or even pâtés), smelly cheese, fruit-based desserts or just on its own.
Check out our full range of dessert wines at http://bit.ly/1ypjCPu
Bon Appetit to all our horsey friends at Clonshire Riding Club who held their annual Christmas Dinner Dance last night at the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick.
Les Cavaliers from Adare, one of the best-known Equestrian Centre in the Emerald Isle, were dining last night on a delicious menu of Sea Bass and traditional Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pud. Yum, yum!… (or Miam, miam as they say in France).
All washed down of course with two choice wines from Vinitek range a crisp chalky organic wine from Gaillac – http://bit.ly/1AAGlKW and a nicely balanced warm red from Corbieres – http://bit.ly/1xVbHHY
Not sure what band was playing last night, but no doubt our good friend, Sue Hassett the Chair of Clonshire Riding Club, was shaking tacky into the small hours.
Sue is owner of the Grove on Cecil Street- Limerick’s longest established and best Vegetarian and Health Food Restaurant. Sue’s Lentil Curry and Nut Burgers are the stuff of legend.
Sue’s eaterie gets a five star rating on Trip Advisor and even gets a big thumbs up from those most fastidious of Carnivores – the French.
Already looking forward to slow creamy pints and tankards of premium gin with Sue in Tom Collins’ watering hole on the Cristmas trip home.
In other Vinitek news, we’re delighted to announce that our new range of organic wines from Ricardelle de Lautrec is now in stock. We’ve selected three wines from vigneron Lionel Boutis’s list- two whites and a red. The rich white Viognier with hints of Apricot is particularly nice.
Cheeky chappie Lionel, specialises in taking well-known grape varieties from regions like Burgundy and the Rhone and planting them in the Pays d’Oc to produce great wines with a Mediterranean twist and at only a fraction of the price.
Bring home a taste of Lionel this Christmas at http://bit.ly/1nXUtCg
Happy Christmas to all our dear customers and friends.
The third Thursday in November is one of the most important dates on the wine calendar of the south-west region of France. It marks the release date of the ‘Gaillac Primeur’ or ‘Vin nouveau’ which is unleashed on consumers amid much ceremonial pomp and fanfare.
For many, this is something of a ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ hybrid but it is a worthy rival to its more celebrated counterpart and often tops the Beaujolais for this style of young wine. It’s also managed to make a significant mark in the Chinese market although how it manages to get to Beijing in time for the third Thursday in November is anyone’s guess?
Made from the Gamay grape, this style of wine is designed to be drunk almost as soon as it’s made and is rarely seen for sale after the Christmas period. It’s a pretty quick turnaround when you consider the Gamay grapes were handpicked in late September and early October – bottling took place in early November – and now the wine is ready for sale!
The Gaillac Primeur will certainly appeal to lovers of the Gamay grape but not to anyone looking for a bit more body in a red wine. It is light and fruity, easy to drink, with aromas ranging from banana (seriously) to strawberry and raspberry. Given the heavy rain and lack of sun in May and September this year, one of the biggest challenges faced by producers here was to get the alcohol content up to the required level for the AOC boffins. Labels are showing 12% alcohol vol. so we can only guess that a lot of bags of sugar were bought by vineyards around Gaillac this autumn!
While the bulk of the production is in red wine, the ‘Gaillac Primeur’ also comes in a dry white version often made from a mix of Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc. The white tends to be a more ‘serious’ wine than the red and goes down very well in apéritif.
This year, fans of the ‘Vin Nouveau’ can choose from a range of 40 different reds and 20 dry whites all within the Gaillac AOC. Most of the vineyards hold ‘Portes Ouvertes’ or Open Days the weekend after the launch where customers can ramble around the vineyards and then have a taste.
Tens of thousands of bottles of ‘Gaillac Primeur’ will be sold and consumed in restaurants and bars all over Albi and Toulouse in the three or four days after the launch. In a week’s time all the fuss will have died down for another year and there will be a lot of sore heads.
The ‘Gaillac Primeur’ is certainly very quoffable but wouldn’t be considered a real ‘food’ wine. It’s perhaps best enjoyed ‘Tapas’ style with charcuterie, pizza, quiche and mild cheese.
Harvesting is well underway at our favourite south-west vineyard, Château Bubas, in the village of Comigne in the rugged hills of Corbières country.
Corbières, which stretches from Narbonne to the foothills of the Pyrenees not far from the Spanish border, is the largest AOC producer in the Languedoc and the fourth biggest in all of France
It’s predominately red wine territory (about 95% of production is red) and the climate is Mediterranean, with mild winters and very hot, dry summers.
Olivier Durand-Roger, is the fifth generation of winemaker at Château Bubas – a 34-hectare estate made up largely of Carignan vines with some Grenache and Syrah for good measure.
Upon arrival at the domaine, the sense of tradition abounds and Olivier points out the rusting shell of his grandfather’s ancient tractor which worked the land here in days gone by.
Happily, Olivier has invested in a new tractor but he still drives a 1980 Renault 4L van for getting to the more remote outposts of the hilly vineyard.
We gladly jump into the old van for a bumpy tour of the sprawling domaine and that’s when you really get a true picture of the stunning beauty of the windswept Corbières landscape.
It might seem surprising that in a vineyard as large as this, that Olivier produces just two wines – his classic red – the Château Prieuré de Bubas – and a high-end red – the Clos Bubas.
Olivier is a firm believer in tried and tested recipies – he prefers to concentrate on just two wines and make them to the best of his ability rather than diversifying and risking a loss in quality.
He’s also a firm advocate of the winemaking technique of ‘Carbonic Maceration’ whereby each handpicked grape is de-stalked and placed whole in the vat without being crushed.
Carbon dioxide is then gently pumped into the vats to begin vinification and to break down the grapes.
This extraction technique is very popular for the Carignan grape; it enhances the fruitiness and makes for a softer, finer wine which will benefit from some bottle-ageing.
This year’s harvest is expected to last about 16 days and the bulk of the grapes will go towards production of approximately 20,000 bottles of Olivier’s main wine – Château Prieuré de Bubas.
This Corbières has been awarded two stars in the ‘Guide Hachette’ on a number of occasions, which according to the critics denotes a ‘remarkable wine’.
However, the very best of the juice from the oldest vines (60 years and more) will be reserved for production of Olivier’s high-end wine – the Clos Bubas.
This is a true ‘Vin de Garage’ with production limited to just an anticipated 1,500 bottles for the 2013 harvest.
While the Château Bubas is already an excellent wine, the Clos Bubas, which is raised in new oak barrels for 11 months, really is an exceptional Corbières wine.
It has a deep ruby robe with a powerful nose exploding with black pepper, spice and dark fruit.
While ready to enjoy now, it will easily keep in a good cellar for a minimum of 10-12 years.
This is definitely a winter wine, ideally enjoyed amongst family and friends around the Christmas table.
THE harvest in Gaillac is finally underway, several weeks later than last year, largely due to a very wet Spring here, particularly the month of May.
However, with temperatures set to remain in the high 20’s until the end of September and into early October, producers will aim to make the most of the spell of good weather.
Sébastien Cabal, winemaker at Domaine des Ardurels, explained that he starts by harvesting the grapes for the dry white wines; Loin de l’oeil, Sauvignon Blanc (http://bit.ly/10SmvZr).
Then he harvests the Gamay grape for the ‘Gaillac Primeur’ (see footnote below) followed by the traditional Gaillac red grapes; Braucol, Duras and Syrah (http://bit.ly/1gSqWHu).
The Cabal family have been making wine at Les Ardurels since 1811, and Sébastien has been responsible for production since taking over the mantle from his father, Maurice, in the late 1990’s. Although officially retired, Maurice Cabal is still on hand every day to help out as much as possible.
Sébastien has a pretty interesting philosophy towards the craft of winemaking which ensures that his customers won’t get too tipsy after tasting his range of Gaillac wines.
While, it’s not unusual to find robust Gaillac reds at 14% – 14.5% in alcohol volume, none of the six or seven wines in Sébastien’s range at Les Ardurels ever exceeds the 12% alcohol mark.
This is partly due to his own personal belief that good wine can be enjoyed without incapacitating consumers but there is also a certain business logic here at work.
“From my point of view, it’s much better if customers are able to finish a full bottle of our wine at one sitting rather than just drinking half of it and finishing the bottle the next day,” Sébastien explained.
The 12 hectares of vines at Les Ardurels are harvested by a combination of machine-gathering and traditional hand-picking, according to grape variety and local rules.
The last of the Gaillac grapes won’t be harvested until about mid-October – these will form the base for the Gaillac sweet white wines; Muscadelle and Mauzac (http://bit.ly/1ai1lpH). In keeping with local tradition and AOC regulations, these grapes will be hand harvested
Sweet white wines are one of the great strengths of the Gaillac range, with a style less heavy and sugary than equivalent dessert wines in Sauternes or Monbazillac – and only a fraction of the price.
*Gaillac Primeur – The Gamay grape in Gaillac is used almost exclusively for the production of the ‘Gaillac Primeur’ – a worthy rival to the Beaujolais Nouveau. It is launched with much pomp and fanfare on the third Thursday of November every year. This is a young wine designed to be drunk almost as soon as it’s made. It will certainly appeal to lovers of the Gamay grape and is well worth a taste although it should really be consumed within about six months of production.