Jean Smullen reviews 2017 Jean Cornelius AOP Alsace Riesling, 2017 Château Rivière Lacoste AOP Graves and 2017 Cru de la Vallée du Rhône Gigondas
Lidl currently have 36 French wines on offer as part of their French Wine Cellar promotion which started on March 25th running for a month, while stocks last. The range of wines include wines from Alsace, Beaujolais, Bergerac, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cahors, Champagne, Corsica, Languedoc Roussilon, Loire, Rhone and the South West. The wines are prominently highlighted in-store and are worth a look.
Today we are going to look at three wines from the range, two white from Alsace and Bordeaux and a super red from the AOP Gigondas in the Rhone Valley.
2017 Jean Cornelius AOP Alsace Riesling €9.99
Stockists: Lidl, nationwide
Although modern day Alsace is very much a part of France, the medieval towns, with their cobbled streets and timbered buildings are more German than French. The origin of Alsace impacts on the wine, food, culture and architecture of the region. Germany has the longest claim to of Alsace. Germanic tribes were settled there long before Julius Caesar conquered the region. The cultural identity of Alsace is a combination of both France and Germany. Winemaking history in the region began in the 1st century BC with the arrival of the Romans who cultivated the vine on the lower foothills of the Voges mountains.
Alsace lies between 47 and 49 degrees N, on the same latitude as Paris but 300 miles further east. To the west you have the Voges mountains and to the East the Rhine River. The best vineyards are found in the lower foothills of the Voges. Alsace has a climate that is unique for an area so far North. Colmar averages less than 18 inches of rain per annum which makes it one of the driest towns in France. The reason for this is the protection given by the Vosges, which strip the clouds of rain as they come in from the West.
The region makes mostly white wine. Ten grape varieties are allowed in the AOP for Alsace. They are: Chasselas, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Riesling, Muscat, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Alsace was traditionally one of the only regions in France where the names of the grape variety was permitted on the label by law.
Riesling was first planted in Alsace in the 15th century. Riesling, one of the world's great thrives in relatively cold temperatures. Planted on the best sites in Alsace, it makes a dry wine with lively acidity which is elegant with a delicate aroma and lovely fruitiness. The Jean Cornelius is a light fresh easy drinking style of French Riesling. I love it with smoked mackerel or barbequed sthle salmon, with green salad and some nice wholemeal bread.
2017 Château Rivière Lacoste AOP Graves (Cuvee Prestige) €8.99
Stockists: Lidl, nationwide
The AOP of Graves is located to the South of the City of Bordeaux on the left bank of the Garonne river. The region is best know for its red wine but they also produce good quality white wine and sweet wines here. Sauterne would be the best know AOP for sweet wines in this area.
Dry white wines in this region are made from a blend of two grapes, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillón. Sauvignon Blanc needs no introduction, one of the Loire’s most famous grape varieties it is also a key varietal in Bordeaux. Semillón is native to Bordeaux; the best known AOP’s are Sauterne and Barsac where it is used to make sweet wines. It originated around St Emilion and is genetically close to Sauvignon Blanc.
Most white Bordeaux these days tends to be Sauvignon dominated, the blend is usually 60-40 with Sauvignon Blanc dominating. Semillón tends to have lower acidity and with full bodied flavours of honey. When blended with Sauvignon the acidity in the SB gives a lift to the Semillón adding a little zestiness to the wine.
Semillón in this wine dominates, the character of the grape shines through. This has a lovely oily finish with flavours of lemon, green apple and pear. Semillón works well with white meat, stirfry chicken breast with lemon juice and add some fresh green asparagus and serve on a bed of rice for a great food and wine match with this wine.
2017 Cru de la Vallée du Rhône Gigondas €16.99
Stockists: Lidl, nationwide
Red wine is the speciality of the Rhône. The vineyards of the Rhône valley are in sight of the famous Mount Ventoux, which dominates the skyline of the region. In 2017, 371 million bottles of Rhône wines were sold in 192 countries globally.
The key wine producing areas of the Southern Rhône are Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, and the AOP’s of Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Lirac, Rasteau Tavel and Vacqueyras. The wines in the South are made from a blend of a number of different grape varieties.
The warmer climate of the Southern Rhône means that the grapes are usually blended. A host of grape varieties are used and most have their origins in Spain. The key red grape is Grenache (Garnacha), a Spanish grape variety, known for its brawn rather than its beauty. When blended Grenache give mixed soft red fruit flavours to the blend which usually involves Mourvèdre and a little bit of Syrah. Mourvèdre (Monastrell), another Spanish grape variety, brings higher alcohol and lots of beefy tannin and a gamey flavour to the mix.
Located in a triangle formed by Carpentras, Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine, the village of Gigondas was in Roman times known as Jucunditas (Latin for ‘to give oneself up to joy’) – a fitting name for a place dedicated to wine, where the winemaking tradition has developed for over two millennia.
Although there is a long tradition of winemaking in Gigondas, its wines first achieved official recognition in 1971 when it obtained its own appellation Gigondas, Cru des Côtes du Rhône. Yet for some 2,000 years, the principal activity of this village nestled in the rugged Dentelles de Montmirail mountains has been winemaking. Today, some 200 winemakers continue this tradition.
This wine is made from a blend of 60% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah and is rich, fruity, spicy with complex aromas. Very round and powerful on the palate with long-lasting flavours of blackberry, dark chocolate and spice. This southern Rhône Gigondas from Jean Desvignes is produced exclusively for Lidl.
Wine Diary https://jeansmullen.com/
Lots of consumer events this April, including Spanish Wine Week April 8th – 14th. Loire Valley Dinner in Co May on April 12th. Sherry Tasting in Mitchell & Sons on April 10th and the Gin Experience at Dublin Castle on April 12th & 13th. Details of all these events are in the wine diary.