Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

At the time of writing we are enjoying a bit of a heatwave but spare a thought for French winemakers who have once again been hit by late frosts and hail.

Chablis was worst hit and it is expected that this will result in a significantly reduced crop and probably an increase in prices next year so if you are fond of oysters and Chablis you might want to stock up for next year.

A couple of weeks ago at the Burren Slow Food Festival in Lisdoonvarna I was lucky enough to participate in an oyster tasting from around six different producers including Hartys, Kellys, Achill, and Red Bank oysters from the Flaggy Shore in Clare (the last were dainty and deliciously sweet).

I matched the oysters with Burren Black Stout from the Roadside Tavern and, of course, Muscadet which is one of the classic food and wine pairings. Muscadet is having a bit of a renaissance as you may have heard and last month I got to chat with star Muscadet producer, Jo Landron.

Jo’s wonderfully lustrous moustache might imply a dramatic personality but in fact he is understated and speaks with a quiet confidence about his wine philosophy. 

The estate was founded by his father in the 1930s and Landron converted to organic in the late 1990s — one of only three organic vineyards out of 600 in the region at that time. 

Now he farms bio-dynamically and follows the moon cycle and lavishes the extra care on his vines that bio-dynamics requires. Landron believes that since the conversion he has more beneficial microbial life in his soil, healthier vines, better bunches and of course more intense flavours in his wines.

The grape here is Melon de Bourgogne (the only region it is grown in quantities) and if treated carefully it can really show off the terroir of the Loire, and bring out more minerality and character in the wines. 

The Muscadet region is just south of the lovely city of Nantes and worth a visit if you are in France this year.

Ireland plays its first match against Sweden on Monday and Italy play Belgium just afterwards so as well as Muscadet I’m recommending a couple of Italian wines from Lidl’s Italian sale which also begins on Monday.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Barbaresco La Cicagna 2013, Piedmont, Italy — €12.99

Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

Stockist: Lidl

Available from Monday next this is a good introduction to the Nebbiolo grape at a bargain price — pale cherry red colour with red fruit aromas, lightly bitter cherry fruits and cold tea hints on the palate (typical of the Nebbiolo grape). This is obviously lighter and softer than a top end Barbaresco (€35+) but makes for good summer drinking (serve at 14-16C).

Medici Riccardi Chianti Classico Reserva 2012, Tuscany, Italy — €12.99

Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

Stockist: Lidl

Probably the highlight of Lidl’s Italian sale for me (starting on Monday), I liked the weight and character of this wine plus its red savoury fruits and balanced acidity and structure. Solid, quite elegant and a good price, this will work well with pizza if you are watching the Euros or could be sipped in the garden with some bruschetta.

Chateau Cassemichere Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2014 — €13.99

Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

Stockists: Independents, Village Stores Ballyvaughan, Redmonds Ranelagh, Cases Galway, Corks Terenure

This is an old Muscadet producer dating back to at least 1740 and has well sited vineyards comprising around 45ha. A good entry-level Muscadet (there are cheaper from supermarkets but they are rarely worth it), with lots of soft apple, a flinty backbone and a good touch of minerality.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Le Fief du Breil 2013, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine sur lie, France — €23.75

Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

Stockists: Wines Direct Arnotts Dublin, Mullingar, www.winesdirect.ie

Produced bio-dynamically from a 7ha south-facing slope which gets good sun during the day and also cool fog from the river Sèvre for balance. This has lovely pure mineral-tinged fruit with fine apple peel flavours, a creamy texture (from lees aging) and a washed stone character. About as perfect a match for oysters as you could find.

Domaine de la Louvetrie, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine sur lie, France — €15.65

Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

Stockists: Wines Direct Arnotts Dublin, Mullingar, www.winesdirect.ie

This is a blend from different bio-dynamic plots on Jo Landron’s estate and is a lighter, fresher style than Le Fief du Breil. Made from natural yeasts and with minimal intervention this has fine flinty aromas, green apple, hints of ozone and salt, white pepper and citrus flavoured fruits. A perfect wine for summer.

Domaine Laroche Chablis St Martin 2014, Burgundy, France — €27.99

Wine: Time to stock up on Chablis

Stockists: Ardkeen Stores, No. 21 Off-Licences, Redmonds Ranelagh, La Touche Greystones

Domaine Laroche was founded in 1850 and is part of the history of the Chablis region as it helped establish and grow the region into the powerhouse it is today. Chablis is the other great match for oysters and the entry level is excellent but this better version has more floral touches.


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