Wine: Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Terroir is one of those frustrating French terms that is beloved of winemakers and wine-writers but remains little understood by most of the wine-buying public. 

Terroir covers everything from the soil to the sunshine and in many definitions includes the grape-growers and winemakers.

The legendary Dan Mullane of the Mustard Seed in Ballingarry near Adare reminded me at a dinner to celebrate harvest a couple of weeks back that we have our own very special terroir here in Ireland and that the concept is not just relevant to wine.

The wines on the evening were from Clare Valley producer Kilikanoon, and owner Nathan Waks spoke at length about the synergy between place, soil and climate as much as his winemakers Kevin Mitchell and Katie Turvey — clearly all are seen as integral parts of the whole.

The Kilikanoon Watervale Riesling had a beautiful purity of cool climate fruit, a whiff of gunflint, and flavours of lime essence and apple acidity that cut right through, yet elevated, the smoked Toonsbridge Mozzarella and Dan’s sweet heirloom tomatoes.

Dan served a caramelised red onion, parsnip and apple soup with the creamy spicy Kilikanoon Semillon and managed to get sea bass with razor-clam pesto to match the nakedly fruity Lackey Shiraz. The fruit in all the wines was understated and had a clean minerality that is rare in Australian wines from other regions.

The ripe, smoky fruit in the 2011 Killerman’s Run Shiraz was perfect with Ballinwillin Farm Wild Boar and proved that the hills of Cork and Limerick have much in common with those of the Clare Valley.

Kilikanoon wines are only available in restaurants at the moment through Crossgar’s James Nicholson who also import the likes of Ridge and Beaucastel.

All of the wines featured below are clear products of their terroir in that it is difficult to imagine any other region producing these wines with these flavours. Three are from Molloys who have a number of stores in Dublin — I particularly recommend the Clonsilla and Nutgrove shops which also carry a large range of craft beers.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013, South-West France - €8.99

Wine:Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Stockist: Molloys Liquor Stores throughout Dublin

The Plaimont Co-Op in Gascony have done huge amounts to develop a reputation for this little known wine region. The Colombard grape was once used for Armagnac but treated well it can be remarkably fruity and tasty. This has lots of peachy fruit, lively acidity and is excellent value.

Baron de Badassière Picpoul de Pinet 2013, Coteaux du Languedoc, France - €14.99

Wine:Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Stockists: World Wide Wines Waterford, Selected Independents

I’m not sure if the Baron is still around but I think I would like to inherit the title Baron Bad-Ass-iere. The Languedoc is hot but Picpoul’s searing lemon (bad-ass) acidity always shines through – this is floral, fresh and dry with touches of lemon-curd and lime on on the finish.

La Granja Verdejo Viura 2013, Castilla Y Leon, Spain - €9.99

Wine:Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off-Licences Nationwide – eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen, Worldwide Wines.

This was the 2014 NOffLA Gold Star wine under €10 (I’ll tell you about the 2015 winners next week). Verdejo is the important grape here as it loves this region (it’s from nearby Rueda). This has lovely fragrant citrus aromas and lively fresh stony elegance.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Chateau Bonnin Pichon Lussac St Emilion 2008, Bordeaux, France — €15.49

Wine:Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Stockist: Molloys Liquor Stores throughout Dublin 

Lussac St Emillon’s alluvial soils are perhaps less exciting than its neighbours but can still produce some fine dense Merlot-dominated wines, and usually at great prices. This has good dense fruit and is made in a rich style with chewy plum and blackcurrant flavours.

Cedric Bardin Sancerre 2012, Loire, France — €22.99

Wine:Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Stockists: No 21 Coburg St; Bradleys, North Main St; Hollands, Bray; Vintry, Rathgar; Kellys, Clontarf

Family run wine producer with just 13 hectares between Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé on either side of the river. Both show good tipicité with the Pouilly Fumé a little softer and this Sancerre showing washed stones and mineral aromas and fine complex apple and citrus fruit flavours.

Dom. Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2009, Rhone, France — €24.49

Wine:Colombelle L’Original, Plaimont, Cotes de Gascogne 2013

Stockist: Molloys Liquor Stores throughout Dublin

I’m not sure I have featured a White Chateauneuf-du-Pape before (it represents less than 5% of production) but this one was worth the wait. Weighty, ripely fruited complex white wine with floral spicy vanilla (oak) aromas, a full-fruit driven palate and a flinty finish.

 


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