Wine with Leslie: A wine with a lot to shout about

It is rare that a wine captures the public imagination and achieves cult status, like a handbag or a pair of trainers. Cloudy Bay did it and it was on such strict allocation in the 1990s that off-licences were lucky to receive 12 bottles per year.
Wine with Leslie: A wine with a lot to shout about

It is rare that a wine captures the public imagination and achieves cult status, like a handbag or a pair of trainers. Cloudy Bay did it and it was once on such strict allocation in the 1990’s that off-licences were lucky to receive twelve bottles per year. These days, Cloudy Bay is owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy), and last November they added the current wine of the moment to their portfolio, Château D’Esclans and Whispering Angel.

D’Esclans founder Sacha Lichine retains 45% and sees it as an ‘alliance’ rather than a takeover which I think is good news. Lichine has made no secret of wanting to make the world’s most expensive rosé and sure enough the estate’s top wine Garrus sells for around €120 if you can find it.

Château D’Esclans puts a larger focus on ripeness, picks in the early morning to retain acidity, is meticulous about sorting, de-stemming, lees contact, and battônage (lees stirring) and other refinements. The result is a lot more texture balanced by more freshness than is typical in Provençal Rosé.

WA’s elder sister wines Rock Angel (c. €40) and Château D’Esclans itself (€45) are also available now and you get some barrel ferment and more lees contact which give yet more mouthfeel, intensity and better ageing capacity. Good Rosé such as these or Bandol (e.g. Dom. Tempier, a favourite round these parts) can really benefit from a couple of years in the cellar.

Selections this week are all making their debut although I have mentioned Whispering Angel in passing. I have three from Boutique Wines, an importer that once focused on restaurants - I’m tasting my way through a selection they sent me and I’m impressed. They are strongest on France, Spain and Italy but also have some New World wines. They plan to offer more fully mixed cases shortly, take a look at www.boutiquewines.ie

Bubble Brothers have a good selection of fashionable rosé in stock, Whispering Angel plus Brad and Angelina’s tasty Miraval plus a couple more from Provence (see below). They also stock a rare Sancerre Pinot Noir Rosé and a Tavel, a robust rosé from the Rhône that nobody seems to import any more, partly I think because they are not fashionably pale.

Also watch for their new Argentinian wines from Finca Agostino including two Malbecs and an interesting Cabernet Franc - do drop into the English Market if you are near, the queue will be worth it.

Wines Under €16

Le Petit Gascoûn Rosé, IGP Côtes de Gascogne, France - €11.50

Stockist: Boutique Wines - www.boutiquewines.ie

Made by two brothers in the Gers department in Gascony (home of Armagnac and Madiran). Despite a relatively pale colour this is a full flavoured rosé with big ripe strawberry fruits, textured strawberry coulis flavours on the palate and with a pleasing spice edge on the middle palate and on the finish. Would work particularly well with spiced dishes.

Domaine des Anges Rosé 2019, Ventoux, France - €16-17.00

Stockist: Boutique Wines - www.boutiquewines.ie

A little over budget but this is on special on Boutique Wines at 6 for €96 or as part of an offer of 6 French Rosés for €80. Boutique used to only supply restaurants and they have a fine selection on their site worth investigating. This pours a delicate pink with Grenadine and red berry aromas, taut and quite complex on the palate with edgy citrus notes, red currants on the finish.

Domaine des Anges Rouge 2016, Ventoux, France - €16-17.00

Stockist: Boutique Wines - www.boutiquewines.ie

This is also being a little over €15 but there are some mixed case deals on the Boutique website. It’s worth it - a Syrah-Grenache blend from Rhône-Provence, big fragrant black raspberry and cranberry fruits, a touch of structure but integrated tannins and a pleasing ripe plum finish with some chocolate notes. Owned by Irishman Gay McGuinness and arguably the best producer in the Appellation.

Wines Over €15

Laurent Miquel Alaina Rosé, Languedoc, France - €16.95

Stockist: O’Briens

This is new to O’Briens from Neasa and Laurent Miquel and named for their young daughter Alaina - the label references her love of making ripples in ponds. In an elegant bottle and pouring a dusky gris-pink colour this has ripe strawberry and rose petal aromas, fruity and textured on the palate with good fruity complexity and lingering crisp red apple and apple skin tartness on the finish.

Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Rosé, France - €17.00

Stockist: JJ O’Driscolls, Bubble Brothers, www.bubblebrothers.ie

Domaine Houchart is based in the pretty hilltop village of Puyloubier near Aix-en-Provence, surrounded by garrigue and in a landscape familiar to anyone that has seen Cézanne’s Provence paintings. This has floral aromas mixed with bright strawberry fruits, more strawberry on the palate, a pleasing texture with a bit of heft, with a citrus tinged finish. Their Organic Cascavel Provence Rosé is also worth a look.

Château D’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France - €25.95

Stockists: O’Donovans, Bubble Brothers, Bradleys, World Wide Wines, O’Briens, Vintry, Deveneys, widely available!

Once impossible to find and at a higher price, Whispering Angel has new distribution and you can finally get to taste the world’s most Instagrammed wine. Floral and red berry aromas, richly textured on the palate with a creamy raspberry tinged mouth-feel, lingering and full with a clean dry, citrus-tinged finish. Is it worth the hype? Probably, but please decide for yourself!

Cider of the Week

Con’s Cider 5.5% abv, 500ml - €4.50

Stockists: Order online via www.theapplefarm.com, widely available in Tipperary, Faherty’s Ougherard, select independents.

Ireland will likely never have fine wine. But we do have world beating cider with vintage variation, fruit, tannins, structure and complexity. And we should be drinking more, especially Real Cider like this fine example from The Apple Farm in Cahir in Tipperary made from fresh pressed Irish apples with no added sugar.

This pours a rich gold with aromas of baked apples with a complex yeasty background aroma, creamy layered textures, soft ripe fruit but with a dry finish with a bitter lime touch. The Apple Farm also has excellent apple crisps, delicious pure apple juice in 3ltr pouches, tangy ripe fruity cider vinegar and sparkling juices.

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