Wine expert Tomas Clancy joins Sean Moncrieff...
Bodegas Sommos, Glarima Blanco Roble, DO Somontano 2015
Pricing :around €14.99
Available : Red Nose Wines nationwide at rednosewines.com and in Red Nose Wines, The Regal Centre, Davis Road, Clonmel, County Tipperary, and selected independent Off Licences and wines shops nationwide.
This is an absolutely delicious and unexpected leftfield delight of a wine. It is a Chardonnay dominated blend that hails from the high mountainside slopes of the Spanish side of the Pyrenes and a dynamic lesser known region called Somontano which derives from the Latinate phrase, from under the mountain rocks, which gives a very clear hint of the rugged nature of its location.
The wine is under priced for what you get and that is always a characteristic in a wine that we love. The reason for this undervalue is largely because the Somontano region lies sandwiched between the much more famous region of Rioja to the West and Barcelona’s Cava regions to the east. This high mountain in-between location really more appreciated by locals and canny neighbours than global wine lovers.
In fact, of course, wine has been made here since Roman times and the region is littered with Roman remains and ruins as well as a few amphora type vessels that show wine was present 2000 years ago. The Bodega here is however while proud of this heritage at the forefront of the organic and reasoned agriculture, but also class leading architecture and even a few robots in the cellars, for moving around barrels.
So it does not come as too much of a surprise to reveal that this is a Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer blend, around 80% Chardonnay and just 20% spicy, aromatic Gewürztraminer. However after expensive oak ageing with extended time on the lees, the skins and must, the real profile here is an evocation of top quality Burgundy, most pointedly a Beaune style white wine that would sell for three or four times the price here. This is a summer delight, a treat that begs to be examined by any wine lover with an open heart. I believe your adventure will be rewarded.
Delas Freres, Les Challeys, AC Saint-Joseph, Rhone 2014
Pricing : €29.99
Available: Wineonline.ie nationwide; The Corkscrew, Chatham Street, Dublin 2 and independent Off Licences and wines shops nationwide
The Saint-Joseph Appellation sits at the northern end of the Rhone just to the south of more famous neighbours like Crozes-Hermitage, Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. The Saint-Joseph appellation is draped over less steep hills on the western bank of the Rhone Valley and therefore many get a noticeably longer exposure to the sun throughout the day. This wine is made from 100% Syrah, what our Australian cousins call Shiraz, but in the northern Rhone this grape varietal tends to exhibit darker, more savoury notes on the palate. The most savoury Syrah being the Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage,
This wine however is just a little more luscious, a little more opulent benefitting from the warmer slopes and having a slightly less harsh soil substructure. Until the 1950s and 1960s a great deal of the vineyards in what is now Saint-Jospeh ended up in wines of the Cotes du Rhone, but for the last 50 years, it became clear that the wines here were of a much more refined and subtly complex. The schists subsoil, rather than the alluvial basin material of much Cotes Du Rhone and cooler climate meant that they eventually were bottled on their own. While never cheap as being mountainside vineyards they are handpicked, painstakingly transported down the winding roads to ambitious producers like Delas Freres.
Delas Freres is an outpost of the Champagne Roederer group, a sister company of boutique Champagne star Duetz and so it is fair to say a great deal of money has been lavished on the meticulous creation of this wine and more is on the way in a new winery. The result is a wine of immense ambition, glorious plush fruit, dark brooding fully ripe blackcurrant, a touch of spice and a hint of toasty sweetness and dark bitter chocolate. A dazzling wine for a special Sunday lunch.