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Whirly wine tour of Corbiere, Limoux, Gascogne and Jurancon 26th-29th June 2016

Following ” Brexit” I felt pretty numb so it was probably a positive idea to a have trip planned to Corbiere, Jurancon and Gascogne planned for this week; let the dust settle whilst I am away. However despite my awful use of the French language all I could hear on most radio stations on the drive from Toulouse to Pau yesterday were the words ” Brexit” so clearly its made its mark here in Europe also.

Onto the wines, well with a little bit of Brexit too!  I am always on the outlook for great wines at very competitive prices but none more so than now and in the months and years ahead. With this in mind I have been planning a trip to Corbiere for a long time. Corbiere is in very poor part  of France but possibly one of the most undiscovered and beautiful in its very arid, rocky and barren way.

Domaine La Bouysse” have been making Organic wines for three years but they have been making wine here for three generations. The abandoned and derelict Cooperative in the centre of the village of Saint Andre de Roquelongue is testamount to the past history and the development of the wines here in this region over time.  The Tramontane wind from the west thats swoops across the Atlantic was kicking up quite a storm as I approached the town sweeping over the escarpment of the same name.  La Bouysse is the name of the mountain, well escarpment, pictured below that protects the vines on the property and emphasises the ruggedness of the region. It really is hard country down here. I have been following this wine region for over ten years and after many visits to this unheralded wine area it was time to import some wines from here myself.

 

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I tasted the following wines at the vineyard ( pictured above)

Domaine La Bouyysse “B” range: a range of wines that really do excite the palate yet that are are at an “entry level”. Their white is made from Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat Petit Grains. Its a really different wine with some herb and savoury notes and  perfect for summer drinking. Their rose is made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. Its dry with that lovely slightly Provencal Pink colour so would go down well in the UK with the rose market. The Bouysse ” B” red consists of Merlot, Syrah and Carignan and is juicy and easy to drink.The Carignan wines are over 80 years old, planted by the grandparents of Delphine, who has been busy in the warehouse all morning as we taste the wines, so this certainly helps the makeup and smoothness of this wine.  So three great wines that would sell well this summer and beyond at sensible prices.

Also tasted, were the ” Floreal” rose from AOC Corbiere, 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah, again with that lovely very light pink colour as well as the Carignan 2014, made from the 80 year old vines, that needed a little more time and some air so I must remember to re-taste again today since its in my little Fiat 500 ready to go again. Their wines are also made up of grapes from another appellation, Boutenac, which is about 10 miles north and this wine has to have at least 50% Syrah in its makeup.

 

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( Ann Marie, head of sales and marketing at La Bouysse with the escarpment of the same name in the background and the view of La Bouysse from the other side, heading to Limoux)

La Bouysse are a small vineyard, only 120,000 bottles in total so they fit Whirly wines profile very well indeed. I already have a small parcel of their Viognier reserved, which is sold out apart from this small amount so now its up to Mr Whirly to get the wines over from here and into the Whirly shop. I expect that to happen in the next week or two.

From this little village close to Narbonne I had a 90 minute drive to Limoux, a wine region that even more so remains undiscovered but makes some of the most exciting yet unheralded wines in the south of France. On the way I drove up the Gorge  de L’Orbieu, which wound its way up to around 600 metres then down the other side to Limoux and past  the remains of Chateau Durfort, one of many Cathar castles built here one thousand years ago. The picture below is of the Chateau D’ arques a few miles down the other side of the Gorge de L’Orbieu.

 

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At Limoux, I had already spotted a vineyard I would like to visit, having crossed its path the day before on my way to Lagrasse over and around the country hills and forests that are full of deer and wild boar.  Limoux is famous for its status as ” AOC Limoux Blanquette de Limoux” and ” AOC Cremant de Limoux”. I drove with as much speed as my Fiat 500 would allow up the windy road behind Limoux to ” Domaine de Fourn” where I quickly tasted two wines, the “Blanquette de Limoux Brut Carte Noire 2013”, made from 90% Mauzac, 5% Chenin and 5% Chardonnay, hand picked and matured in bottles for 15 months in the cellar. Very, soft and elegant and a truly delicious wine. I also tasted the “Blanquette de Limoux Brut Carte Ivoire 2013″ made from 90% Mauzac and 10% Chenin. Another exquisite wine, possibly slightly sweeter than the Carte Noire but with another really delicate flavour and mousse. I was really surprised by the quality of these wines and I shall look to import some small parcels very soon.

From Limoux I had a three hour drive to Pau via Toulouse in order to get there in time for the Spain v Italy match. I shot back onto the autoroute just north of Castelnaudry ( famous for its Haricot beans for Cassoulet) and drove as rapidly as my Fiat 500 would allow me to this city close to Tarbes and Lourdes. Why you might ask was I heading here? Well, just south of here is Jurancon, a region whose wines I have always loved and yet never had the chance to visit. The next morning, after England had failed so awfully against Iceland and the French were loving there own  little double edged meaning of ” Brexit”, I spent about 50 minutes driving to this little Appellation that specialises in Gros and Petit Manseng varietals. Only 50 since I had a meeting in Eauze in Gascogny at 1pm and it was already 10am.  I found some wonderful Jurancon wines from Camin Larredya and Clos Thou, that are on either side of a vallye from each other and yet which were so so different. I tasted the La Part Davant 2015 Jurancon sec at Larredya that was very expressive and exotic in terms of fruits on the palate. At Clos Thou I tasted the Jurancon sec Cuvee Guilhouret that was so, so different from the Larredya, more minerally and textured and not so full of fruit. Why were they so different? I have no idea since I had to visit Tariquet in Gascogny, wines that I have already imported but I shall let you know their makeup and why they are so poles apart once the wines are in the shop in SW17.

Next wine tour Piedmont and Tuscany, 10th-13th July, visiting Brunello and Barolo as well as other vineyards.

 

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( the view across the valley from Camin Larredya to Clos Thou and the woods in between)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Whirly wine Aperitif bar and wholesale wine prices…..

The Aperitif bar has been open for a week now and although the weather has been against us in the first week with a great deal of running outside to rescue menus from the rain and hail, its been a positive start with an excited reaction from customers and locals, so thanks so much for that.

The Menu for this week is below! This week we introduced some Iberico Salami de Bellota and Locally baked Foccacia from the Elephant bakery in Streatham served with the wonderful olive oil from Velenosi in Marche that I import together with their very individual wines like the LaCrima.

I have changed the wine list this week and added the very unusual Willespie Margaret river White 2011 ( blended with their four main white varietals, Verdelho, Semillon, Sauvignon and Riesling), the Ribas Blanc 2012 from the oldest winery on Mallorca, over 300 years old now as well as the Perusini Ribolla Gialla 2014 from the glorious white wine region of Friuli in North East Italy that borders Slovenia and Austria. Stunning wine, so very fresh and clean with a citrus finish mixed with a little wax from the lemon skin! I look forward to welcoming you soon to the Aperitif bar and if you are interested in buying wines by the case the ex vat wholesale price list is now updated on this website. I can offer free delivery to you if you are a local SW postcode! Lastly the “Wine of the month” page will start again in May with some new wines from Gascogny that I am importing this week! Stunning Strawberry rose that will soon be served in the Aperitif bar very soon at around £1.95 for a 75 ml tasting glass, so not in anyway expensive! Enjoy Whirling!

Whirly Wine Aperitif Bar

Prosecco – Lemoss NV. Ca di Rajo, Treviso

Casal Garcia NV, Aveleda, Vinho Verde

Château Molhière, Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Côte de Duras

Willespie, “Margaret River White”, 2011, Western Australia

Ribas Blanc, Prensal Blanc-Viognier, 2012, Mallorca

Graziano, Chenin Blanc 2011, Mendocino

Perusini, Ribolla Gialla 2014, Friuli

Stefano Lubiana, Riesling 2010, Tasmania

Château Molhière, Cabernet Franc 2013, Côte du Duras

LaCrima di Morro 2014, Veleuosi, Marche

Shiraz-Viognier 2003, Cobaw Ridge, Macedon Ranges

Merlot 2010, Château Les Graves de Viaud, Côte de Bourg

Cold food..

“ Organic” Locally baked Foccacia with Velenosi Olive oil

Iberico Salami de Bellota ( 60 gms)

Arbquina Olives (75 gms) Frutos Secos ( 100 gms)

Salted Catalan Almonds (75 gms)

( Mr Whirly and Benn from Queensland, Australia on the opening day last week!)

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Whirly Wine’s goes ‘On Trade’ as well as ‘Off Trade’, Easter wine’s and opening hours….

I am delighted to announce that Whirly Wine’s will be opening an ‘Aperitif’ bar at the Whirly Wine shop in April 2016. We have successfully applied for a variation of the license and as soon as Spring has officially arrived, we will launch the new project. We aim to make Whirly Wine’s far more accessible to our local customers, by allowing you to taste the wines before actually buying them ( 75ml and 125ml glasses will be served).We will be looking to change the wine list every week, offering wines that suit the climate as well as newly arrived wines from the various countries Whirly Wine’s carefully sources from.  In time we will also be offering a fine array of cold foods that have been carefully selected to compliment the wine.

We are in the process of creating the outside seating area at the front of the shop. Ideally we would like to have some old French bistro collapsable style tables and chairs but they are difficult to source. If anyone has anything fitting the description that they no longer want, do let us know!

We will keep you informed about the opening day but please feel free to pop in and discuss your thoughts with Mr Whirly and his rascal dog Dash!

I have some lovely Easter wines here in the shop too so please come down and have a chat about what wines you would like to go with your Easter lunch! My top suggestions would be some Veyovis Verdejo from Rueda at £10.95; lovely Spring wine, full of verve and freshness! Also lovely for Easter would be the Domaine Prevote Sauvignon Tourraine 2014 at £10.75; stunning SB at a lovely price, really zingy and full of energy but not in anyway flowery! For reds try some Perusini Refosco 2014 at £16.75 from one of the most exciting wine regions in Italy, Collio in Fruili. This wine has great acidity and is fruit led but in a very restrained way and would be be a perfect accompaniment to a shoulder of lamb for your Easter Sunday lunch. Lastly if you think some fizzy would kick off your day well I have good stock of the Lemoss Prosecco NV from Ca di Rajo in Treviso at £8.99. This wine is going through a second fermentation in the bottle, is slightly cloudy and unfiltered and tastes like a well made cider from Calvados, full of fresh apples and yeast. Its well worth a whirl!

So please do pop in for a chat in the coming days and let me know what you plan to eat and I shall try to match some Whirly wines for your special lunch or dinner.

The shop is open Good Friday from 11.30 am to 5pm and Saturday 26th March from 11am to 5pm. The shop will be closed Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Thank you for your continued support and a very Happy Easter to you all!

 

Mr Whirly

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Whirly Wine tasting – 25th Feb

The first Whirly Wine tasting on 25th February went down a storm with my wholesale clients! These included ‘Hakkasan Restaurants‘, ‘The Palmerston‘ in Dulwich, Balham’s ‘Lambert’s‘ and ‘The Exhibit‘, ‘The Hood‘ Restaurant on Streatham High Road and ‘The Begging Bowl‘ in Peckham.

The outstanding wines of the day were the Willespie Margaret River Red 2010 and White 2011 and Jean Michel Sorbe’s Quincy 2014. But to be honest, all 20 wines shown on the day were showing extremely well.

Don’t worry if you missed out, Whirly Wine’s is constantly sourcing exciting, individual wines from small producers from all over the world consequently we will be hosting another trade tasting at the end of the summer.

Mr Whirly

Here is the list of the wines tasted:

Bernard Remy NV, Allemant: “ Carte Blanche”, NV Brut: £18.30

“ Lemoss” Vino Frizzante Bianco, Non Filtrato, Ca di Rajo, Treviso: £7.50

“Domaine de Prevote”, Amboise. Sauvignon Tourraine, “ Les Tonnes Barils” 2014: £8.95

Jean Michel Sorbe, Quincy, Cher sur Loire 2014: £15.00

Luc Percher, Cour- Cheverny, Loire, VSIG Blanc,  Organic and Bio ,“ Racines” 2010: £13.25

Villa de Puppi, Friuli, IGT Venezia Giulia, Sauvignon Blanc 2014: £11.90

Luc Percher, Cour- Cheverny, Loire sur Cher,  Organic and Bio, VSIG Blanc 2012: £11.90

Veyovis, 100% Verdejo, Rueda, 2014: £9.45

Perusini, Friuli Colli Orientali, Friuli, Pinot Grigio 2014: £13.50

Perusini, Friuli Colli Orientali,  Friuli, Ribolla Gialla 2014: £13.60

Lillypilly, NSW, Australia, “Tramillon’ 2014: £10.30

Villa de Puppi, Friuli, IGT Venezia Giulia, Taj Blanc ( 100% Fruilano) 2014: £11.95

Graziano, Montevolpe, Redwood valley, Mendocino, USA,  Tocai Friulano 2013: £13.45

Willespie. Margaret River,  Western Australia, Margaret river white 2011: £11.90

Graziano, Redwood valley, Mendocino, USA, Chenin Blanc 2011: £13.40

Luc Percher, Cour- Cheverny, Cher sur Loire, “ Mosaique” 2011: £13.25

Zivo, Eola Amity Hills, Willamette valley, Oregon, USA, “ Whole cluster Project ” 2009: £32.90

Perusini, Friuli Colli Orientali,Friuli,  Refosco 2013: £13.95

Cobaw Ridge, Macedon ranges, Victoria, Australia, Shiraz- Viognier 2003: £25.00

Meloso, de calvo Arroyd, Tempranillo 2014, Ribera de Duero: £9.20

Graziano, Montevolpe, Redwood Valley, Mendocino, USA, Sangiovese 2010: £13.75

Willespie, Margaret river, Western Australia, Margaret River red 2010: £11.90

Velenosi, Marche, Italy, “Rosso Piceno Superiore” 2010: £24.75

Passing Clouds, Bendigo, Victoria, Graeme’s blend 2010: £15.95

Willespie, Margaret River, WA, Cabernet 2001: £45.80

Spring Mountain, Napa, USA, Organic Napa Cabernet 2009: £65.00

Graziano, Montevolpe, Mendocino, USA, Late Harvest Tocai Fruilano 2011: £16.45

Lillypilly, Leeton, NSW, Fiumara 7: £16.25

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Mauro Manzone, Monforte D’Alba, Piemonte visits the Whirly shop, 22 Ritherdon road, SW17 8QD

I have always loved Barolo. To me its always been the epitome of Italian Winemaking; the “Creme de la Creme”, “The Parsons nose”, The knob-end of the baguette” ( there’s no other way of saying it!). I have thought this since my first visit to this part of Piedmont, on my Ducati 900ss on my way down to see my twin David, who was dancing near Livorno, in 1994. It’s the typical and yet beautiful little hillside town as many wine based towns are in Italy. In fact the vineyards have to be located on the hillside to qualify as a Barolo.

So for many years I have been looking for some great Barolo and its only now, 15 years into commencing with Whirly wines that I have at last found some wines that I feel are deserving of such a place on my wine shelves here in SW17.

Mauro ( picture below in the Whirly shop this week) is young and a fourth generation winemaker in a little town of Monforte D’Alba, a few miles south of Barolo. His energy and excitement about the wines he showed me was obvious and I am now planning a trip to Piedmont in May for their annual wine tasting.

It did not take long for me to realise that I was tasting some special wines. Mauro had been at Cambridge university the night before tasting with one of the colleges there ( a possible clue to their quality) and he had less than a quarter empty bottles to taste. No matter, the wines, despite being shaken and not at the right temperature were very exciting and I was soon to discover that single vineyard Barolo’s are very much where its at in terms of desire and influence.

We started by tasting their Langhe Rossese Bianco 2014 from their Rosserto vineyard. This is a rare white grape rediscovered by Giovanni Manzone. This indigenous varietal was saved from extinction in an old family vineyard in Monforte D’Alba. Slightly cloudy yet full of citrus and exotic fruit’s, the wine would be a perfect wine for the new Aperitif bar this summer outside 22 Ritherdon Road.

We then tasted another wine from the DOC Langhe, their Nebbiolo ” Il Crutin” 2013 and also a DOC Barbera D’Alba      ” Le Ciliegie” 2013 that were beautifully structured. These wine are great introductory wines to Manzone at clever prices. But by far the most individual and serious wines were the Single Vineyard Barolo wines with the 2011 “Castelletto” wine taking my five star award. It was to me what top Nebbiolo should be about, velvety and yet not too fruit driven with some real leather and delicate smokey fruits showing through. I also enjoyed the    ” Gramolere” 2010 and this vineyards 1998  and 2007 Reserve. I found the 2009 “Bricat”  a little tight and with some tannins so to me it needed anther few years in the bottle.

So In May I hope to start to work with Manzone so watch this space. I cannot wait since these wines have great presence and will shine in the Whirly shop

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Mauro Manzone

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J Vineyards, Sanoma County

Sanoma reaches from the Roche vineyard in the south of Sanoma Valley all the way up to the Dry Creek valley just south of Cloverdale on route 101. That’s a journey time of around 2 hours along small country roads and generally low valley floors, with the emphasis on heat. I’ve had some wonderful drives long these lovely little roads in my old Saab 900 Turbo Convertible, that I keep in San Francisco but the roof is always down and I wish one could go a little faster to keep the oppressive heat from draining all your energy. This is premier wine country; expensive wines. Names like De Loach, Flowers, Marcassin all spring to mind with their funky and ambitious winemaking skills. The Sanoma Mountain wine area offer some of the best wines available in the whole of California with an emphasis on Cabernet and Zinfandel. Further north in the famous Russian river region, even though the  vineyards are lower down on the valley floor, this is one of the coolest regions of Sanoma due to the fog and cloud cover that results from the closeness of this valley to the entrance of the river at Peaked Hill on the Pacific coast.

J vineyards is located here in the Russian river valley and its emphasis is on Pinot noir that ages consistently well over a 4-8 years.

Please look at the link below for me more detailed information on this vineyards location, topography and varietal focus.

www.jwine.com

SOLD OUT: I am hoping to re-visit Sanoma in the Spring of 2014 and look at some more of J Vineyards wines. I shall keep you updated as to my success with this.

Alc 15.0% vol

Mr Whirly says:

“ Now almost 6 years old this wine is holding up well. Some lovely Autumnal fruit of blackberries and Damson show through a tobacco and smoky haze.”

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Graziano Petite Sirah 2004

Mr whirly says:

“ I waited three years before I started to sell this wine since I thought it was too young and bold when I first imported it. It is now ready to go: still big but not as bold and the fruit has had time to relax a little. Give it a whirl, make sure you whirl hard and long!”

Greg says

“Mendocino is the largest producer of Petite Sirah on the north coast of California. Our Petite Sirah comes from several old vine vineyards and some new high tech vineyards scattered throughout the bench lands and hillsides of Mendocino County. The wine was aged in a combination of Eastern European and American oak barrels for twenty months that soften the tannins and add complexity to the wine. This wine offers deep aromas and delicious flavours of ripe blackberries, chocolate and spice. Typical of Petite Sirah, this wine displays rich, round tannins that lead to long, lingering finish.”

Alcohol: 15.5%

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Graziano Zinfandel 2006

Mr Whirly says:

“ From the furthest northern wine region in California high up amongst the Redwood’s, Greg Graziano has been making outstanding and affordable wines here for over thirty years. Soft and with a Bakewell tart middle palate, this wine defies its 15 % alcohol level since it is so well balanced and elegant. Mendocino is an up and coming wine region. Similar to the 2005 vintage with textured layers of Almond and sweet black cherry fruit, soft tannins and a generous mouth feel. Cool climate Zinfandel means that the wine is in no way “hot but cool and approachable.”

Greg says:

“ Our Zinfandel comes from eighteen different Zinfandel vineyards scattered throughout the bench lands and hillsides of Mendocino County. Many of these vineyards are still farmed by third and  fourth generation Italian-Americans. This vintage displays a rich dark purple garnet colour and deep aromas of black cherry, boysenberry, plum, spicy sandalwood with hints of toasty oak. Uplifting flavours of plum and earth combine to give this full-bodied Zinfandel a generous mouth-feel. Rich full tannins and balanced acidity lead into a long, lingering finish. “

Past vintages of this wine have been incredibly popular and I can assure you this 2006 vintage is the best yet.

Alcohol: 14.5%

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Graziano Chenin Blanc 2011

New 2011 vintage arrives end Of 2013: 2006 vintage now sold out

Mr Whirly says:

“ Whirly wines first venture with this varietal, famous in the Loire regions of Saumur, Savannieres  and Vouvray. Vibrant rich pear and apples with touches of Vanilla on the nose and palate. Aged Sur lie for 5 months in neutral French Oak Burgundy Barrels. “

Price: sold out

Alcohol: 13.0%