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Irish Times Summer Wines

Framingham Classic Riesling 2007: Made in similar manner to the German wine above, this has lovely crisp acidity, an off-dry but never sweet finish, and lovely delicate green fruit. Made to sip in the summer sun. Brumont Gros manseng-Sauvignon 2008, Vin de Pays de Gascogne: This is a really racy crisp number, bursting with aroma, and brimful of zingy lemon and elderflower fruits. Marlborough Sauvignon meets France in a delightful marriage. Serve chilled as an aperitif. Sweet wines: Jurancon, Clos Uroulat 2007: A gorgeous sweet wine that deserves to be better-known. Charles Hours fashions subtle scented wines, full of refreshing pineapple fruits that balance sweetness with a tangy acidity. Perfect with fruit tarts. John Wilson, Summer wines booklet, the Irish Times July 2009
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Clos du Marquis 2004, recommended in the Sunday Business Post

TO PUT BY Clos du Marquis, AC St Julien 2004 (92), €49 from Le Caveau, Market Yard, Kilkenny: While this is the second wine made at Chateau Leoville Las Cases, it is not made like other second wines. Rather than being made from younger vines or barrels not thought good enough for the main wine, Clos du Marquis has, since 1902, been made from its own sub-vineyard called Le Petit Clos, with very old vines. The wine is of classed growth quality, and the 2004 is very polished, with blackberry and cedar notes, touches of leather and truffle. It is a very dark wine, quite restrained, but with age it opens up and offers layers of chocolate, kir and bramble. Fine with decanting now, it will improve with another two or three years, and would go well with roast lamb or strong game dishes. Tomas Clancy, Sunday Business Post 14th June 2009
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The cachet of Chablis, Sunday, June 14, 2009 By Tomás Clancy Sunday Business Post

Standing in the main road that runs through the sleepy town of Chablis in northern France, you look up to find yourself surrounded by very steep, though not very high, hills. Chablis occupies a valley where the river Serein cuts viciously down through quite soft, chalky rock. The Serein flows north into the river Yonne, which is a major tributary of the Seine. So nature has essentially created a natural highway for the produce of Chablis to flow downstream to the metropolis of Paris. Chablis is located on a huge, high plateau that rises up just south of Paris and separates the French capital from Lyon. Fortunately, because the river cuts through a steep valley, it has created a natural suntrap and wind break. Looking like a Hollywood producer’s idea of how a geologist and archaeologist should appear, in a soft hat and semi-military attire, Serge Grappin, the chief archaeologist at Saint Romain - one of France’s most important archaeological sites - points to a ridge of cliffs that surround us. ‘‘Sixty million years ago, all of these edges were beside a lagoon, and the vines that cling to the hills were probably on the beach,” he says. ‘‘At the time, all of northern Europe was under water - not deep water like the Atlantic, but more like a series of tropical islands with lagoons. Over millions of years, at the bottom of this clear, warm water, crustacean like animals died and were deposited on the seabed. Eventually, these dead shells created a huge layer of chalky rock.” As proof of this theory, Grappin points to the discovery in a local vineyard of a tooth from a giant prehistoric crocodile which is known to have only lived in tropical lagoon climates. Chablis is a sleepy village which bursts into life several times a day when a fleet of tour buses rolls down the small main street, having made the 90-minute trip down the auto route from Paris. For the next hour, hordes of tourists move like locusts through the streets, hoovering up wine, stones and the fossils that make such perfect presents for dinosaur-obsessed children. While the region’s stone layers may preserve fossils well, they are too poor for most agriculture, but are perfect for growing vines, as they form brilliant draining soil with very expressive tastes of minerals, even in the water. Add to this layers of granite and a clay-like topsoil, and you have a very complex environment in which to plant vines. As is the case almost everywhere in western Europe, the Romans played an important part in the development of Chablis as a wine region. It is believed that the first vines were planted there by retired legionaries from the Roman army, with the first Chablis wine produced around 200AD. It was six hundred years later, around 800AD, that monks establishing monastic communities made the first sought after wines of Chablis. Famous monks like our own St Patrick studied and presumably made wines in the monastic and academic communities around Chablis, Auxerre and Tonnnerre. These were places of pilgrimage filled with relics and holy sites, and visitors and pilgrims from across Europe passed through the area praying and sampling the wine. Over time, the wines became famous, and eventually a thriving monastic export business grew up. When Paris was eventually chosen as the capital by the kings of France, Chablis, directly connected by river and just 100 kilometres away, was the first and obvious place to become the vineyard of the city. These original vineyards of Chablis were located on the best drained, south-eastern facing slopes. Southeastern slopes are the best because they get the morning sun, which dries out the grapes and gently ripens them by noon. Western-facing slopes have wetter grapes all day, and are prone to rot and fading sun in the afternoon, so it is from the south-eastern slopes that we generally get Grand Cru vineyards. In the valley floor, lower down the slopes, we find the same chalky limestone subsoils, but also clay and lower sunshine, so these are good spots for vineyards - though not perfect. These are where we find the Premier Cru vineyards. On soils that are only partly chalky, or are not as well-positioned for the sun, we find the regular village or plain AC Chablis vineyards. These vineyards have been vastly expanded over the last 30 years, as the word Chablis became a brand in itself, and every producer in Burgundy drove up to Chablis and bought some land in the nearby areas. These new lands were, after vigorous political lobbying, legally reclassified as AC Chablis. So, in Chablis, more than any other region, it is vital to seek out older, more established firms, of whatever size or fame, as the key to drinking well. Make sure that your wines are made from the original parts of Chablis, rather than the vastly expanded commune that now exists. One quick tip is to generally avoid anything marked Petit Chablis. There is a certain honesty here - the winery is putting its hands up to the fact that the vines are from further away. If you like the wine and it is a good price, then it is a fine choice, but it is rarely a true expression of Chablis. The Grand Cru Chablis wines need a decade to reach their peak, when they swap their wet-wool smelling nose and austere stony palates for piercing savoury lemon, startlingly contrasted with creamy, nutty and complex finishes of immense length. Drink one of these wines aged five years or under, and you will wonder what all the fuss is about. The Premier Cru Chablis wines can be drunk quite young, and are all about steel and power - they have intense flashes of acidity, rolling over lime, lemon, granite faced washes. Ordinary AC Chablis can be superb examples of minerality, balance and delicacy. They are meant for early drinking, and usually have higher levels of acidity than the Premier or Grand Cru wines, and slightly more forward, riper, fruitier notes on the palate. Each Chablis has its place and function, and there is a Chablis for every pocket. This flexibility, along with consistency and its trademark Jurassic minerality, has brought the region centuries of fame and popularity. AC Chablis * Domaine des Malandes, AC Chablis 2006, €18 (88) A superb, quite brittle and stony wash, with excellent integration of fruit and slightly higher alcohol than you might expect. * William Fe’vre Champs Royeaux, AC Chablis 2006, €20 (89) Avery complex and rewarding regular Chablis that in good years, like this one, can happily play at Premier Cru levels of complexity, minerality and ripeness. Premiere Cru Chablis * Domaine des Malandes, Vau de Vey, AC Chablis Premier Cru, 2006, €22.50 (91) Instead of the monochrome acidity of AC Chablis, we now find touches of Granny Smith apples, the tartness but firmness of an unripe pear, and a perfume of acacia on the nose that matches the hints of richness in the finish. However, you pay extra for this complexity. * Domaine Olivier Leflaive, Cotes de Lechet, AC Chablis Premiere Cru 2007, €29.95 (91) This is one of the very best Premier Cru in Chablis, clearly bordering on Grand Cru quality, but that does mean that this 2007 example is a year or two away from being a perfect wine. The evident complexity, the tinge of nutty and creaminess over the minerality is as yet all just nearing a peak. I would like to taste this next year for the final verdict, but with small supplies and high demand for Leflaive, picking a bottle up for under €50 and trying not to drink it is your best option. Chablis Grand Cru * Jean-Marc Brocard Grand Cru Chablis 2006, €49 (93) Since most of us spend our time happily drinking AC Chablis with the odd Premier Cru thrown in, our perception of Chablis is that it is basically a quite tart and firm wine which is ideal with fish. This Grand Cru gives the lie to that, with its nutty, almost caramel-like toasted touches over a skeleton of firm minerality. It is more reminiscent of an aged Beaune or Meursault, so bear in mind that you will be paying €50 not for the best zesty Chablis you could imagine, but rather for a wine that shows the true Burgundian credentials of this most northerly commune of Burgundy. Wines available from Le Caveau, Market Yard, Kilkenny; Searsons Wine Merchants, Blackrock, Co Dublin; Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2; O’Briens Wines nationwide Tomas Clancy, Sunday Business Post
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Meyer-Fonne Riesling Katzenthal 2007, Irish Times bottle of the week

Wines of the week: One light white: Alsace Riesling Katzenthal 2007, Domaine Meyer-Fonne: Super linear, crisp, green fruits with plenty of go; dry and refreshing wine that offers a real touch of class. With fish and shellfish, crab in particular. Serve well chilled. abv: 12,5% John Wilson, Irish Times Saturday 16th May 2009 irish times may16th 09
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Wine Talk At Ballymaloe Cookery School

It is always an immense pleasure to make the journey down South to Shanagarry, three times a year, to meet Darina Allen, Colm McCann, the team and the 12 week Certificate Course students at Ballymaloe Cookery School. The classes always enjoy tasting the wines and hearing about the growers and the regions where they were produced. Questions and comments tend to fuse from the four corners of the room, so the tasting are always quite lively and interesting and it is never a problem to fill a couple of hours. This week`s session took us through two regions I particulary love, Burgundy and the South West of France. Kick starting with Burgundy`s Cotes de Beaune, we tasted Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne "Chardonnay" 2005, which is a very good example of entry-level white Burgundy, with its apple, lime and mineral character. The second wine brought us more south, in the Cote Chalonnaise, in the village of Givry. Laurent Parize has a 9-ha estate there and produce fruit scented, delicate wines. His Givry "Champ Nalot" 2007 was youthful and expressive with typical strawberry, raspberry and gamey flavours. We then moved on to Beaujolais with Jean-Charles Braillon`s traditional and intense Regnie "Forchets" 2003. Yes, 2003. Surprising to read that we are still on this relatively old vintage. The reason is Jean-Charles is a traditionalist and mature his wines in large foudres for up to 30 months and he will only be releasing his 2004 vintage in a few weeks. His wines show atypical intensity of flavours and robust structure for a Beaujolais and in good vintages, they can accompany dishes as strong-flavoured as wild boar (yes, I try!..) We started our journey in the South West with one of its most famous off-spring, Alain Brumont of Chateaux Montus and Bouscasse fame in the Madiran appellation. His Vdp de Gascogne, Gros manseng-Sauvignon blanc 2008 was bursting with white and exotic fruit flavours, super freshness and a serious mineral edge. The second wine is one of my personal favourite on our entire list, Chateau du Cedre Prestige 2005, a wonderful Cahors made with Malbec and a dash of Tannat (10%). Pascal Verhaeghe shows with this wine his impeccable winemaking skills and a total understanding of his terroirs and of the Malbec grape.Pure brilliance, with massive fruit, layers upon layers of complex fruity, gamey and seedy flavours and ripe tannins to match, that will age effortlessly for a decade or more. Word is that Pascal Verhaeghe and his friend Luc de Conti of Tour des Gendres in Bergerac may be coming to us to visit Ireland early next year, we will keep you posted! The last wine, a sweet Jurancon, which incidentally, as Colm McCann informed us, is served with the dessert course in the tasting menu of Heston Blumenthal`s Fat Duck Restaurant, was Charles Hours Jurancon "Uroulat" 2007. It showed great potential with its enticing nose of orchard fruits compote, tropical fruit followed with an early mineral grip and racy acidity. This will evolve in a truly fantastic wine given 6 to 12 months in bottle. This utmostly enjoyable tasting was followed by lunch at Ballymaloe Cafe, where once again, we were treated with the scrumptious food prepared by the students and the Kitchen team. A great thanks to Darina, Colm, the Ballymaloe Team and the students for their very kind welcome, Cannot wait for my next visit! Pascal with students at Ballymaloe Cookery School
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The Irish Times: Happy Anniversary

Le Caveau, Kilkenny From a small, unprepossessing shop tucked away to the side of a large car park in Kilkenny, Frenchman Pascal Rossignol runs one of the finest wine businesses in Ireland. Inside, the shop is crammed with an amazing selection of wine, most of it French, including a lot from Burgundy, but all of it from small artisan producers. Pascal was born and brought up in Gevrey-Chambertin in Burgundy. Before embarking on a career in the hotel and restaurant trade, (where he met his Irish wife, Geraldine) he worked for three years with his uncle, Joseph Roty, one of the great names in Gevrey-Chambertin. This is an advantage when buying Burgundy, where having the right contacts makes all the difference. It probably also helps that Pascal is a modest but intelligent man, with a real passion for wine. In 1999, he and his wife decided to open a wine shop in Kilkenny, close enough to Dublin, but offering the benefits of a rural lifestyle. “We had in mind to bring in a selection of wines we liked, without thinking too much about what was selling in Ireland at the time. So we ended up with lots of Burgundies and wines from the south-west – we have up to seven different Cahors from three producers!” Their selection from this part of France includes some of my own personal favourites, wines that have featured on these pages. They also have wines from the Jura and other lesser-know regions. “We used to run tastings in the shop every Saturday which helped us understand what Irish people liked and why.” They now ship directly 180 wines from 75 producers, as well as stocking a well-selected range from other importers. Le Caveau wines are also available through a number of retail outlets, or through their website, www.lecaveau.ie. Wines of the week: LE CAVEAU Maranges 1er Cru Fussieres 2005, Jean-Claude Regnaudot, €21.65-€22.95. “This has everything that I love in wine,” says Pascal Rossignol. “An expressive nose, primarily of dark cherry and red berries, some earthy flavours, a hint of game; all hugely enticing. The palate is slightly muted but fresh and perfectly ripe, multi-layered and textured. “It is a wine that begs for food as all real wine should do – maybe pheasant, grilled beef, or cheeses. The wine ends with firm (but manageable) tannins and good acidity.” Stockists: Fallon Byrne, Exchequer Street; Liston’s, Camden Street; Avoca food halls, and Le Caveau, Kilkenny. John Wilson, The Irish Times Magazine, Saturday 21st March 2009 Irish Times March09
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Lots Of New Wines!

Earlier in the year, we have been very busy sourcing good value wines to complement our current selection and we feel we have found some gems along the way. From Italy, the wines of Gianni Masciarelli - Trebbiano and Montepulciano, plus a great Nero d`avola - Merlot blend from Sicily and a very interesting, every-day drinking white from Abruzzo, Madregale Bianco. From South Africa, the pure, fruit-driven wines of Good Hope winery in Stellenbosch - Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. From New Zealand, we are delighted to welcome the wines of Andrew Hedley`s FRAMINGHAM vineyards - Sauvignon Blanc, Classic Riesling and his Pinot Noir. From Burgundy, a true terroir-driven Chablis producer, Gerard Tremblay. Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru "Montmain" and Chablis Grand Cru "Vaudesir". A new wine from our favourite Alsace producer Felix Meyer (Meyer-Fonne) - Gentil d`Alsace. And finally, some rarities from the Loire with an un-grafted Sauvignon blanc "Vinifera" and an absolutely amazing Romorantin, both from Henry Marionnet. Hope you enjoy these new wines!
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Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Rouge 2006 in the Sunday Business Post

Around the World with Pinot Noir. France: Burgundy: No global journey through Pinot Noir could start anywhere but Burgundy. The classical superstars of the variety are all located here, from €5,000 a bottle Domaine Romanee-Conti wines to entry-level Bourgogne rouge. Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne rouge 2006, Le Caveau, Market Yard, Kilkenny (89pts) Leflaive is a legendary name in Burgundy, and is associated with some of the greatest white wines in the World. Small supplies of Olivier Leflaive`s Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet are fought over by wine lovers each year. Generic Burgundy red can be sourced from across the whole region, but Leflaive sources only from small single vineyards in and around Beaune. The result is a light but vibrant wine with tangy savoury notes, light tart raspberry, touches of kir and a grippy, firm finish. It is a solid, attractive wine with no artifice. Tomas Clancy, Sunday Business Post - Sunday 8th March 2009
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Checkout Magazine Feature

Orla Murphy visits our shop in Kilkenny. Download the feature here.
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Clos Marie, Pic Saint Loup

Clos Marie, L’Olivette, Pic Saint Loup, AC Coteaux de Languedoc 2005 from Le Caveau, Kilkenny; selected wine shops; and lecaveau.ie (89) Context is everything. In the past, I have found myself tasting in the Languedoc during February and October, and freezing in the process. On those occasions Pic Saint Loup and coastal Languedoc have been the locations, so now, whenever I see the words ‘Pic Saint Loup’, I start to shiver. In fact, this chill does impact on the region’s wines, with cool autumns giving them a vague austerity and conservative fruit profile. This is serious Rhóne varietal stuff – grenache, syrah and mourve’dre, the grapes of Chateauneuf, here with a more savoury black character. The liquorice and tar are here, in a softer form, so you get a Chateauneuf-like offering at half the price with an unexpected savoury edge. An intriguing, well-priced offering. Tomas Clancy Sunday Business Post, 18th January 2009
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Ireland fine wine merchants of the year

he Sunday Business Post annual wine awards 2008 by Tomás Clancy While this year has been a testing one for businesses in general in Ireland, the wine trade has been weathering the unsettled times with some degree of aplomb. Wine is now truly part of Irish culture. Large numbers of men downing pints of plain in pubs after a hard day’s labour are almost a thing of the past. People in today’s Ireland have returned to the kitchen and, between conversations lamenting the price of houses and lauding Obama’s victory, many can be found sipping a well priced chardonnay from a well-regarded producer, while stirring a plainer supermarket wine into the cooking sauce. Wine culture fits this new attentiveness to quality rather than our previous scattergun snatchings of excess. And the Irish wine business has responded with flair, ingenuity and realism. This following selection is evidence of this: Best fine wine merchants (Outside Dublin) 1. Le Caveau, Kilkenny 2. Wicklow Wine Company, Wicklow 3. Greenacres, Wexford 4. James Nicholson, Crossgar, Co Down 5. David Dennison Fine Wines, High Street, Waterford Next month will mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of Le Caveau, the Kilkenny wine shop owned by Burgundy native Pascal Rossignol and his wife,Geraldine O’Rourke. The couple perceived a coming trend when they set up this bespoke importation business. Le Caveau would fit in easily in any wine-growing region, especially Burgundy. Among a good selection of wines from around the world, there are wines which are not otherwise available outside Burgundy. The only disappointment is that, after taking time to select a handmade Pommard, after admiring a bottle of a small, family-owned domain’sVieillesVignes, PulignyMontrachet, you emerge out of the shop into Ireland, not into the glare of the sun in Beaune. Sunday Business Post, 14th December 2008 Sunday Business Post
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Celbrating 10 Years In Business

It has been quite a journey. In October 1999, we opened the door of our shop on the Market Yard for the first time. Our idea was to source honest, authentic wines from the four corners of France; wines that would offer very good value and outstanding quality. In the process of sourcing these wines we met some truly extraordinary and dedicated winegrowers who would, with time become our friends. As we went on, the quality of these wines also interested fine restaurants and other specialist wine shops around Ireland, so our business grew a second arm, and we started supplying the trade. In the same time, our shop and website became busier, and for this, we are grateful to you, our customers for your kind support. Today, as we are preparing for our 10th Christmas season, we feel as enthusiastic as the first day. We are now working directly with over 55 amazing winegrowers, mainly in France but also in Italy and Spain and we are planning to extend our offer even more in 2009 with additions from off-the-beaten track regions of France, Italy and the New World. Once the wines are true to their origins and taste amazing, they will make it to our list! Once again, we wish to thank you all for your support over the last 10 years and we are looking forward to discovering and bringing more brilliant wines for many more years. Pascal, Geraldine and the team
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