Jean Smullen reviews 2016 Les Auzines Alania Albarino and 2015 Chateau Beauchene Cotes du Rhone
For those of us not doing “dry January” I thought we’d have a look at some food friendly wines that are perfect to serve with dinner at the weekend . Both wines are from the South of France.
2016 Les Auzines Alania Albarino €16.95
(on offer from 29.01.2018-25.02.2018 at €13.95)
Stockists: O’Briens Wine off-licences at Ardkeen, Waterford; Ashbourne; Athlone; Ballybrack; Beacon South; Blanchardstown; Quinsboro Road, Bray; Vevay Road, Bray; Carlow; Carrickmines; City West; Clontarf; Dalkey; Donnybrook; Douglas,Cork; Drogheda; Dun Laoghaire; Galway; Glasnevin; Greystones; Limerick; Malahide; Naas; Navan Road, Dublin 7; Navan, Co Meath; Newbridge; Rathgar; Rathmines; Sandymount; Stillorgan and Templeogue.
I was lucky enough to visit this marvellous vineyard in Corbiere in July 2014. Les Auzines is high up in the mountain and is the summer home of Laurent Miguel and his Irish wife Neasa Corish (who comes from Foxrock, Co Dublin). Albarino is associated with Galicia, but Laurent Miguel has been a pioneer of the grape and is one of the few producers growing it commercially in the Languedoc.
He believes Albarino was first brought to the Galicia region of Spain by the French monks from Cluny along the fabled route de Santiago de Compostela many centuries ago. There is another theory that it was originally Riesling, brought to Galicia by German monks. Which ever theory is true, the grape’s arrival in North West Spain is associated with the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and the alleged burial site of St. James. His remains reputedly lie within the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, consecrated in 1211.
So what of the wine? This is not cool climate Albarino from the maritime climate of Rias Biaxas, but is Albarino grown in Mediterrean France. Here you have a lot more sunshine, but the very nature of the vineyard site plays a big part. Sitting on a hillside in Les Auzines looking over the terrain it is very obvious that the landscape was carved out millennia ago by a meteor strike. The crater like vista, now covered in lush green trees and vegetation means you have to look closely. But once this has been pointed out you can see the large crater in which the vineyards are planted. It is quite a remarkable and almost spiritual place.
In keeping with the religious theme Les Auzines was once a monastery and it is one of the most peaceful and beautiful vineyards I have ever visited. I have a wonderful memory, sitting on a sun lounger, cold glass of Albarino in hand in the July heat, looking at the vista and seeing for the first time the structure of the crater. A humbling experience!
Albarino is know for two things, its acidity and the stone fruit, peachy character of its fruit. This wine has this in abundance. If you’re eating fish this January, then I’d recommend a glass of this wine to go with it. Try it with baked Hake cooked in lemon juice with a little parsley. Yum!
Watch out for Albarino Day on Thursday 22nd February in Smock Alley Theatre, Exchange St Lr, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Lynne Coyle MW of O’Briens Wines will present a Masterclass about this wonderful grape. Tickets are €20 and will be on sale shortly from https://www.obrienswine.ie/
2015 Chateau Beauchene Cotes du Rhone €19.95
Stockist: Whelehan Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin.
This is a super wine from the Cotes du Rhone imported directly by Whelehan Wines, one of my favourite wine shops at the moment.
Côtes du Rhône are the basic AOP wines of the Rhône region. The region stretches from stretches 200 km from Vienne in the north to Avignon in the South and to the Luberton mountains east of the town of Orange.
The Bernard family has lived in Orange since the 17th century. Originally tenant farmers, the Bernard’s bought their first vineyard soon after The French Revolution in 1794, which they own to this day.
Vinification, maturation and bottling of all the cuvees from different vineyards across 3 appellations takes place in Chateau Beauchene. Gold Medal winners at Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Award in 2016. From just across the road, you’ll be convinced you are drinking a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
This wine is made from Grenache 70% Syrah 25% Mourvèdre 5% Good tannic structure. A nose of ripe fruits is confirmed on the palate and develops to some hints of raspberries and blackcurrant. A well-balanced and harmonious wine which displays a great length.
For wine events check out the wine diary https://jeansmullen.com/
Make sure you book your ticket for the 21st Annual New Zealand Consumer Wine Tasting on Thursday 18th January, 2018 at 18:30. For 2018 we have a new Dublin venue– Aviva Stadium, home of international rugby in Ireland. The New Zealand wine fair is a superb evening out. The chance to meet and talk to the producers and find out more about the great wines from New Zealand is not to be missed!! A great idea for a stocking filler for the wine enthusiast in your life! Tickets are now on sale priced €15.00