MOVIES & BOOZE: Fancy a glass of wine this weekend?

Wine expert Jean Smullen contrasts Beaujolais and Malbec...

Jean Smullen compares and contrasts two classic grapes...

Today we are looking at two French wine styles that are very different. We will taste a soft, silky lighter style wine from Beaujolais from one of their ten top cru, the region known as Fleurie. Then we will head to southwest France to try a more full bodied style made from the Malbec grape.

2014 Domaine de la Cote des Garants AOP Fleurie (Thorin) €14.99

Stockists: Spar, Eurospar, Mace & Londis

Beaujolais is an easy wine to sell in Ireland where you will find it sold in restaurant. It is recognised by the Irish consumer of a “certain age” who think that Fleurie is a brand name when in fact it is the name of one of the 10 top cru vineyards in the region.

Beaujolais is located north of Lyon and its producers make red and white wines under the category Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and premium wines from the 10 Cru vineyards which 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.

In the Haut Beaujolais in the north you have clay/sand top soil on a schistous granite base from which comes all the Beaujolais Cru and Beaujolais Village wines.

The only grape variety permitted is Gamay, a grape which likes granite based soil, but which is also good for the local style of vinification. The Gamay grape is thought to be a mutant of the Pinot Noir, which first appeared in the village of Gamay, south of Beaune, in the 1360s

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, which start an internal fermentation which results in the extraction of colour and flavour from the inner skin of the Gamay grape.

General style of the various Crus :

‘Soft and light’ Chiroubles, Régnié and Fleurie
(can also be fuller-bodied dependent on where grown in appellation)

‘Medium to more full-bodied’
Saint-Amour, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas

‘Potential to improvewith age, more robust’
Chénas, Morgon, Moulin à vent

Benoît Thorin, the descendent of a family that first came to the region in the 14th century, founded the maison Thorin in 1843. Today, it is located at the gates of Beaujeu, the historic capital of Beaujolais.

Thorin is part of the Boisset group founded by Jean-Claude Boisset in 1961, it has developed one of the biggest negociant families in France. In Beaujolais they work in close collaboration with over 450 growers, carefully selecting and constantly supervising the production of the smaller growers. They respect traditional growing methods, hand-pick the harvest and vinify using the classic Beaujolais vinification method.


2014 Domaine les Barthes Comte Tolosan Malbec €9.00

Stockist: Dunnes Stores, Nationwide

Malbec is one of the five grapes allowed in the "Bordeaux" blend. Malbec was once a significant Bordeaux grape, but in that region it has taken a back seat to Merlot and the two Cabernets (Franc and Sauvignon). Its origins are cloudy, as in France it has over 400 synonyms. One of these is Auxerrois Noir or sometimes simply Auxerrois, a hint that it may be from the region around the town of the same name in Burgundy. Malbec is usually low in acidity, high in tannins, and has an inky-black colour. Aromas and flavors of red plums, black currants and dried cherries are common.

Malbec comes from the Cahors region of southwest France, where it is known as Côt, though it is also found in the Anjou and Tourraine regions of the Loire valley. It is also still found in Bordeaux (in Bourg, Blaye and Entre-deux-Mers) as well as Australia and the U.S. Perhaps the greatest of all Malbec comes from Argentina, particularly Mendoza, where it is now the most widely planted varietal and is transforming the country's wine industry for the better.

Comté Tolosan is an IPR or as it used to be known as in France Vin de Pays. The grapes can be grown in most of the wine regions across the whole of southwestern France. The region is a part of the Aquitaine Basin which is basically the area from the Pyrenees, the Massif Central and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

This is a great value, easy drinking French wine, it has all the power you would expect from Malbec with the dark forest floor fruits and plenty of tannin. At this price it offers great value. Great to serve with a slow cooked winter stew. Definitely worth a try!

Wine Events: “SOUR GRAPES" DOCUMENTARY

Wednesday 22nd February. Doors 7.30pm Movie Starts 7.45pm

Highly entertaining documentary that uncorks the counterfeit wine scandal that rocked the fine and rare wine auction market in 2008. Centred around a counterfeiter who befriended the rich and powerful and sold millions of dollars of fraudulent wine through the top auction houses.

Rudy Kurniawan was, it was rumoured, a wine savant, had an expert memory for taste, a generous host, offering rare wines from his huge cellar, who in 2006 made 35 million dollars in two wine auctions from the sale of his wine. Then in 2008 a French wine producer, Laurent Ponsot, realised that wine from his family's domain was being sold from a year they hadn't produced it. That day, he says, he took the first plane to New York, and thus begun his crusade. The film highlights how industrialisation of wine production has made everything taste the same and thus made life easier for the counterfeiters.

Tickets: €15 – includes movie and “tastes” tying in with the theme of the movie. Spaces limited so booking essential.

To Book: L'Atitude 51, Union Quay, Cork.E: info@latitude51.ie Tel: 021 239 0219

For more details about wine events go to the wine diary www.jeansmullen.com