Jean Smullen reviews two light French wines for a taste of summer
During these warmer days wine drinkers like to go for lighter styles of wine, both red and white. We will look at a lovely modern Vin du France from the Languedoc and a light summery red wine style from one of the Cru vineyards in Beaujolais.
2014 Le Petit Chat Malin Blanc Paysd’Oc €12.00
Stockists: Molloys, Next Door, Spar, Gala, Londis, SuperValu
This is a very modern take on traditional white grapes from the Languedoc region in the south of France. The wine is made from a blend of traditional white grapes from the region, Grenache Blanc 50%, Marsanne 20% Roussanne 20%& 10% Vermentino or Rolle. The wine is made by a very progressive UK wine company called Boutinot. They make a range of wines for the European market working with key producers all over the world. Their wines are innovative, modern and well made.
The Oc, or ‘Pays d’Oc’ as you’ll see it on most labels, refers to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southernFrance, known by the French as ‘Le Midi’. Planted here are both traditional grape varieties such as Grenache Gris (which makes very fine rosé) and Grenache Noir as well as the cépagesaméliorateurs(varieties introduced in the last twenty to thirty years) such as Syrah and Merlot for reds, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc for whites.
Guillaume Létang, Boutinot’s winemaker responsible for the Languedoc, is constantly on the look-out for producers who have hidden gems, visiting domaines, seeking out new parcels as well as counselling winemakers before the harvest on for example, softening harsh tannins in reds or retaining acidity and expressing aromatics in whites. Then once the grapes have been picked, vinified and the wines barely finished, he tastes these ‘brut de cuve’ wines intensively and repeatedly over the next six months in collaboration with Boutinot to select and blend the styles before maturation, bottling and release on sale.
Serve chilled with white meats, fish or simply lap itup on its lonesome. Some particularly good matches include baked chicken and apricots, chicken in cream sauce and cod in a butter basedsauce with herbs such as parsley or thyme.
Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans
The majority of people are unaware that wine, although made from grapes, may have been filtered using animal-derived products. During the winemaking process, the liquid is filtered through substances called “fining agents.” This process is used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavors and colorings, and other organic particles. Popular animal-derived fining agents used in the production of wine include casein (milk protein), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).
There are several common fining agents that are animal-friendly and used to make vegan wine including bentonite clay, limestone, plant casein and vegetable plaques.
2013 Joseph DrouhinFleurie €20.00
Stockists: Whelehan wines, 64 Wine, Sweeneys, Redmonds and most independent off licences
During the warm summer months we tend to drink more white and rosé wines and lighter red wine styles. If your lighter summer menu features salads and fish then I can recommend red Beaujolais.
The Beaujolais region is part of Burgundy and is situated north of the city of Lyon. It has lots of hills and beautiful scenery, there are 150 Chateaux. The wines in the region are made exclusively from Gamay and Chardonnay grapes. The official name for the grape is Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc, for red wines and rosés which accounts for 98% of the region’s production and Chardonnay for whites which accounts for 2% of the total production. The Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc is actually a man made grape. Viticulturists crossed two grapes Pinot Noir and Gouais, a grape which originated in south west France to create the Gamay grape. Gamay’s versatility means that it is capable of producing elegant wines that can be consumed young as well as more structured wines for laying down and ageing.
The secret of Beaujolais is the way the Gamay grape is made. Winemaking in Beaujolais combines the classic method of Burgundy with maceration carbonique, whereby enzymes present in the uncrushed grape are surrounded by carbon dioxide. The resulting wine style is abundantly fruity, medium bodied (not too heavy, not too light) and has amazing freshness you wouldn’t normally associate with red wine.
There are 10 Cru vineyards in Beaujolais. These are the names of the best vineyard sites in the region, they are: Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent, Régnié, Saint-Amour - the ‘jewels’ of the crown in the Beaujolais region.
Then most importantly, take a look at the Cru wines and their individual style tender, supple, fruity & generousChiroubles; Brouilly; Régniéperfumed, delicate, elegant & smoothFleurie; Saint-Amour; Côte de Brouillypowerful, intense, structured, complex with great ageing potentialJuliénas; Chénas; Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.
The DrouhinFleurie is certainly worthy of its name! It possesses great charm and delicacy, with its luminous raspberry colour, aromas of lilac, violet and gooseberry. Very supple and silky in the mouth. It is the most delicate of the Beaujolais Crus.
For more information about the Beaujolais wine region vist www.beaujolais.com
Wine Events – August 2018
Wines Direct @ Arnotts will be running a ‘New Discoveries’ ticketed tasting on August 18th at 6:30pm. They have added a number of wines to their portfolio and are delighted to use this opportunity to showcase them. Tickets for the event are €10 per person and will include some nibbles as well as a set of tasting notes. More info in the wine diary www.jeansmullen.com