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Domaine Allois, “Terre d’Ailleul’s” 2011

what imagery, what history, what a sublime wine too….this wine was discovered in the most lovely of little markets in Saignon, above Apt, in July 2011….

Mr Whirly Says:

“ An herbaceous and savoury wine that needs big food to take it on like Calves Liver or Pork chops with a rich grain mustard sauce. 100% Ugni Blanc so totally unusual and defined. For that reason alone it is to be respected.”

Wine makers notes:


“This wine born from old vines that we have taken care from the cultivation to the optimal maturity.

Obviously to obtain the best aspect, we chose to harvest manually and select the best grapes.

The winemaking is done in barrels like in Burgundy, with stirring of the lees and temperature controlled in order to have a wine that is round and aromatic.  Six Months in oak.”

On the palate:

“This wine present itself as a yellow colour with a light gold reflection. The smell develops aromas like white flower, syrup and white fruit, honey and wax, with some light touch of young wood bringing fresh taste. The mouth is concentrated at the first. It is a wine quite structured with some nice length and citrus aroma, flowers and honey.”

Terroirs : Sand and clay with calcareous subsoil

Grape variety: Ugni blanc  (100%)

Alc Vol: 13%

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Cepage Muscat, 2011

NEW ARRIVAL!  New vintage 2011

November 2013: more detailed tasting notes to follow but more fresh pear on the nose rather than pear drops!

Excited, excited and yes so excited by this wine. Muscat? Possibly one of the oldest grapes around, certainly dipped in history and culture…never been that enamoured by it, too much yucky sweet stuff but this wine rocks and is really quite sublime! Made with Muscat of Alexandria (originally from Alexandria in Egypt and Petits grains, the oldest and noblest variety of Muscat. Its berries are much smaller than the Alexandria berries, which are oval in shape. Hence the name, Petit Grains)

Mr Whirly says:

“ I tasted this wine recently with Jamie Younger at the Palmerston and thought the wine was wonderfully infused with tangerine peel, zesty and with wonderful fresh acidity.”

Alc vol: 13.5%

Winemakers tasting notes:

Two varietals of Muscat, Alexandria (40%) and Petit Grain (60%), grown on clay and schist soil. 40 year old vines. Very expressive and complex nose smelling of pear and lychee.

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Al Cortal Rouge, 2009

My idea with this wine is to try to show how, with a little bit of luck and quite a morsel of effort too, one can find a really fabulous wine for around £7! Well £7.50. But I think this wine is so well made, I love the combination of the four grapes and I also love its Catalane worthiness and stature; it has that lovely country feel of passion and hard work that emphasises this wine is Catalane. It reminds me very much of the wines I would taste as a young lad in the hills above Bergerac, near Sigoules, where we would cycle and fill up a 10 litre flagon every other day and it would cost 30 francs. Good honest country farm wine!

Mr Whirly says:

“ Four grapes make up this wine, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Carignan. I think its a belter of a wine for the price, full of tasty fruit and ready for drinking now, with a couple of years of age. Great wine to show off this little sub- appellation of Roussillon, Cotes Catalane and a wonderful wine by the glass for all you restaurants out there looking for some quality.”

Winemakers tasting notes:

Grapes grown on Granite and Schist , carbonic maceration for the Cabernet Sauvignon, traditional maceration for the Syrah, matured 5 months in tank. Ruby colour, very fruity nose, rounded and soft in the mouth, ready to drink now.

Alc vol: 14.5%

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Domaine du Mas Rous, Vin de Pays de Cotes Catalanes

Mas Rous was discovered by chance and with a little bit of luck, which we always like to be on our side! I was driving early in the morning on the 17th August 2011 towards the end of my month long wine sourcing adventure in the south of France and had traversed my way slowly across country from Banyuls and Collioure, the wonderful little seaport famous for anchovies. I had even had the most lovely sunrise swim in the bay which had set me in the perfect mood for welcoming some exciting new discoveries whether wine or country yet to be seen by Mr Whirly’s eye’s.

I had headed as far west as Prades and was wandering the streets looking for a suitable Boucherie for some lamb for my Weber barbeque later that night. I found a suitable place and noticed some wine bottles behind me that looked interesting. My view is that a good butcher anywhere in France has a pretty good palate for food and therefore wine so I asked if the wines were ok? The owner enthused about them very passionately so I asked how far away the vineyard was, about 6 miles back towards the Spanish main border N road, he told me, and so off I went.

Jose, the owner was working in the garden when I arrived in the courtyard of his old family farm. I apologised for dragging him away from his prize Legumes and we commenced a very enjoyable little tasting of wine from Cotes de Catalane, an Appellation within Roussillon, which got off to a cracking start with the most sublime white and red.  I simply fell in love with the Muscat, quite gorgeous and the red is a really exciting wine pourer for the coming autumn and winter months:

Al Cortal 2009, Rouge

Cepage Muscat, 2010


P1010749Two pictures above taken in August when I was visiting the vineyard

PHOTO MAS ROUSJose the owner as a little boy on the tractor during vendage

PHOTOS VENDANGES 2Jose, a little older, getting involved once again)

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Antithese 2006

I tasted the 2007 vintage with Guilhem in the morning but then over lunch tasted the 2006! Oh yes. This is simply delicious. Syrah as it should be with a touch of 100 year old Carignan grapes.

Mr Whirly says:

“ This wine is as pure an expression of Syrah with a dash of Carignan ( from those amazing one hundred year old vines planted in granite that you see on the Ribas wine page) as one would want to feel. Deep wine with some lovely age but the fruit is still rich and strong.”

Winemakers notes:

“It’s got  a deep bright red colour. A complex combination of red fruits, smokiness and spiciness. The good acidity carries this complexity of aromas throughout the palate. Good length. Hints of black fruit and flower. Better to be decanted half an hour before serving. To be served around 16°C.

Alc Vol: 13.5%

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Rouge No 9,Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalane

New vintage No 9 ( 2009) arrived January 2014

Mr Whirly says:

“This wine represents Riberach’s benchmark wine, their really exciting wine at a great price. It is a wine that is made from their youngest vines, 30 years: Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and oaked for 18 months. The vines are grown on a Schist soil which gives the wine a smokey feel. Top, top wine. A delight and again fantastic value.”

Winemakers notes:

“It’s got deep bright red colour ; smoky, creamy nose. A Good mouth fill without astringency; hints of black fruit. “

Alc vol: 14.5%

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Riberach Blanc, Synthese, 2012

New wine arrival, November 2013 and a  new wonderful wine to whirl!

My first white from Riberach, who are now a fully accepted Bio-Dynamic and Organic vineyard. These guys know how to make wines,

As they say themselves:

“ we are 4 friends, is an idea of old vines on schist and granite soils at high altitude, is a matter of philosophy reflected in 30,000 bottles and 10 hectares of vines.”

This wine is oh so subtle, so light and fresh. Most wines form this part of France are not like this, then again this wine is not like most wines. Look at the grapes: Grenache Blanc ( sexy grape is ever there was one) Carignan ( I have yet to find out if they are from the 100 year old vines growing out of the Granite rock that I went wild about in August 2011)and  the local grape, Maccabeu. An infinitely superior wine and one that I think many of my clients, including my best man, need to try!

Mr whirly says: ( wine tasting notes to follow once I have tasted this wine with clients)

Winemakers tasting notes: ( to follow shortly)

Alc Vol: 12.0%

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Roussillon: Riberach

otoThe new Riberach “ Synthese”  Blanc 2012 arrived November 2013.  The wine is made from Grenache Blanc, Carignan and Maccabeu and comes in at a very light 12% alc vol, which is unheard of in these parts. Riberach are now a fully recognised Biodynamic and Organic winery.

Just in case you were wondering, “Riberach” is the old name for the town before the Catalan’s came to this part of France and “Belesta de frontier” is the name since it use to be the frontier with Spain.

I am blessed. I had driven from the foot of the Pyrenee’s near the famous Monastery at St Martin near Vernet and had ringed on a local Rousillon map the top places to go to in terms of wine, having talked to the owner of a local wine shop the day before in Prades. It’s the morning of the 18th August 2011 and my journey north back to “Blighty” begins in earnest today, since my ferry leaves Dieppe in 3 days. I arrive at Belesta, just south of Maury, where I was focusing my wine tasting on this day and in the middle of town is the most amazing old cooperative that has been totally transformed into a modern hotel, wine shop and winery. I enter the winery, meet Guilhem and end up staying for eight hours, tasting his wines and having lunch in the restaurant. He is a much travelled man: like myself he has spent time in Australia working in the vineyards, he more as a winemaker than as a picker and blender and presser! I love his attitude, very positive and we very simply had so much to talk about it was a delight to meet someone who you immediately connect with. I love his branding, the snail really works for me and his wines are benchmark wines that exude finesse.

We are starting with two wines from this vineyard, decided after a seven hour lunch and tasting. I also met the vineyard manager, Jean-Michel, whose family has owned the land with the vines for over 100 years.

This was a lovely tour, since he showed me some wonderful “Jean de Florette” irrigation systems as well as vines that had been planted by hand by his grandfather, with an iron rod, into Granite! I kid you not: quite incredible ( a picture to prove this is below.)


I also met a third partner, Patrick – the winemaker, who is the gentlemen cleaning the oak barrels in the picture below. Missing was Moritz – the Austrian sommelier- and Luc – the architect and co-owner of the restaurant-hotel resort).


The three wines from Riberach are listed below

Riberach Blanc, Synthese 2012

Rouge no 7

Antithese 2006

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Bandol: Chateau D’Azur

Chateau D’Azur, Bandol, 2009

I have always wanted a Bandol in the pack and now I have one! Karen Frankel (my buddy from San Francisco on this wine sourcing trip in July 2011) and I were incredibly excited about  our little trip to Bandol. We again cut to the chase and found a lovely wine shop in rather a disappointing town centre, sadly, too many tourists shops and headed out of town to discover the delights of the surrounding countryside. The next morning, after much driving around the country roads and getting lost, the art of following signs to vineyards that then suddenly disappear, again being witnessed by ourselves we eventually drove into the unassuming driveway of Chateau D’Azur. Our efforts were not in vain!

This wine is made by up and coming star Gael Cluchier for owner Paul Chavel. Made from 90% Mourvedre and the remaining 10% is made up from small parcels of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah.

Mr whirly says:

“ Juicy and fruit forward yet unlike a lot of Bnadols this wine drinks so well immediately after the cork has been taken out of the bottle.  Great fruit forward wine yet with subtle summer herb aroma’s“

Winemakers notes:

“ The vines were planted in 1990. We do not use chemical products on the vines and we also use Organic fertiliser. Hand picked in small bins. Yield: 30hl/ha. Crushed and de-stemmed. Fermented and Macerated over three weeks and pumped over everyday. Pressed after three weeks and blended with the freely run juice. Malolactic fermentation before the winter. 18 Months in Bordeaux Oak barrels. Blended and bottled in the summer of 2011. Intensely dark colour. This wine is strong. Spicy (pepper, cinnamon and Liquorice) and also Toasty. Decant and leave for one hour. Good ageing potential

Alc vol: 14.0%

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Cairanne, 2009

This wine is now sold out. New Vintage arrives March-April 2014.

It’s a right old Cairanne! And this really is anything but. Not old in anyway and very fresh and exciting, this lesser known Cotes de Rhone Village is very much treading its own path into the new age of wine growing in France, where wines that sell at that optimum price point, £10-14, really are shining through. I tasted this wine with Audrey Armand on that sun blessed evening on the 27th July 2011 and thought it was exactly what I wanted in a top quality Rhone, that doesn’t have the price tag of some of the better known appellations a little further south but most definitely has the quality. This wine is made from older vines, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. If you can, decant and leave for an hour.

Mr Whirly says:

“ A pure delight of joy. I bought this wine from the little village north of more recognised names in Southern Rhone because it provides great quality at a great price. This is a special cuvee and like all their wines, the grapes are picked with meticulous attention and care. Smooth and juicy with hints of tabacco and liquorice as well as a hint of black cherries and white pepper. Fantastic value for the quality of the wine.”

Alc vol: 14.5%

Winemakers notes:

This is a Special cuvée – limited production wine. AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Cairanne , Cuvée LOUIS red 2009.

Terroir: hill side limestone. Old vine Grenache, 50%, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre. Hand harvested and selective picking. De-stemming, long maceration, aged in oak barrels that are two years old for 6 months. This wine has a deep red purple colour, the nose is intense and complex, black pepper, mineral and after breathing we discover ripe aromas of cherry and coulis sauce with light toasted notes. In the mouth this wine has a well balanced structure, powerful with fruit flavours and elegant tannins with a long finish with some light vanilla showing through. Can be aged for up to 6 years and drinking beautifully now.