Galway Food Festival Program

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Easter is once again upon us, meaning we’re closed this Friday, but to make amends we’re running a bunch of tastings and events in the shop.

On Thursday 24th we will kick off with our Game of Rhônes blind tasting from 6pm-8pm.

Our tastings kick-off again at 11am on Saturday 26th with our To Rioja and Beyond Spanish tasting.

This tasting will be run 4 times on Saturday at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

We will also have an Italian Tip to Toe tasting running at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.

And if you have room left for a glass or two Saturday night why not call into our popup wine bar between 8pm and 10pm.

We look forward to seeing you over food festival and wish you all a happy Easter.

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Notes From Wine School Week 1 France

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For Many centuries the big name wines of the world were from the classic wine regions of France, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone Valley. While many have discovered the treats of Spain, Italy and Australia among others, the French have rallied and are now producing better wines particularly in the south of the Country. France is habitually among the world’s leading producers of wine in terms of volume produced! Meaning not all French wine is good in fact quite a lot of it is mediocre or just plain bad!

France’s main wine regions are Bordeaux in the South West, Burgundy in the centre near Lyon, the Rhone Valley to the South of there and the Loire Valley which follows the course of the river from Nantes in the west inland.

Bordeaux is perhaps the most famous region and it has given us the Grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec in reds and Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc in white. Many wines produced here tend to be called Chateau XXXX. This region, it may surprise you produces more wine than all of the continent of Australia. While dry tannic reds dominate here, there are many crisp dry whites along with some of the most famous Dessert wines, Sauternes. Many of the wines of Bordeaux are name after the small village where they come from e.g. Margaux, Pauillac and St. Émilion.

Next to Bordeaux in fame is Burgundy which boast the queen of white grapes Chardonnay as its primary grape and the fickle Pinot Noir as its red counterpart. As in Bordeaux the wines are named for the villages from which they hail. The super lean and minerally Chablis being a fine example of the French idea of Terroir – a sense of place- grown on chalky limestone soil this chardonnay tastes like no other. Almost all the wine produced in Burgundy is made from either the light and ethereal Pinot Noir or the terroir reflective Chardonnay. The most famous villages are located in the Cote d’Or while further south the Maconnais and Cote Chalonnaise produce more fruit driven styles.

Most producers here tend to label their wines after their family name with prefixes such as Domaine being commonly used. In the Southern part of Burgundy the area of Beaujolais is located, the wines made here are from the Gamay Grape variety and can be found labelled as Beaujolais, or again after their individual villages such as Fleurie, Brouilly and Morgan among others.

To the south again of Burgundy is the Rhone Valley an area that stretches along the river Rhone south from Lyon to Avignon. The northern half of the Valley is famous for its Syrah based wines, in fact most of the famous appellations here allow only Syrah and maybe in rare case some Viognier. Famous appellations here include Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas, and St. Joseph in the reds and Condrieu in the white.

While most Cotes Du Rhone wines come from the Southern Rhone, the area also has some notable appellations such as Vacqueryas, Lirac, Rasteau and the ever popular Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Most of the southern Rhone reds are based on a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, the wines of Chateauneuf can include up to 13 grape varieties including 5 white grapes such as Rousanne.

The Loire Valley is the final of the big four wine producing areas and itself is divided into 4 distinct districts, the river mouth around Nantes where the Muscadet rules, the neighbouring areas of Anjou famous for its rosés, and Touraine which produces reds from the Cabernet Franc variety under the village names Chinon and Bourgueil as well as others along with delightful whites based on Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. One of the more famous Chenin Blanc appellations is Vouvray which can be off dry. Finally the upper Loire is home to the most famous appellations of Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, (not to be confused with Pouilly Fuisse from the Macon), and Menetou Salon. While all these areas can produce rosé and even reds it’s their Sauvignon Blanc wines that people really enjoy.

 Other wine producing regions in France include Champagne which uses 2 red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier along with Chardonnay to produce the world’s most famous sparkling wines. Alsace on the German border and very influenced by its location as it mainly produces the German variety Riesling in various styles and Gewürztraminer along with some excellent Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). Provence which is most famous for its rosé wines and the huge Languedoc and Roussillon which is most famous for vast litres of plonk but thanks to New World flying wine makers has been turning out some superb wines based on Syrah, Grenache and even Cabernet.

A note on Classification

There are 4 main classifications, the largest is AOC/AC which says where the wine come from and that it is made from the approved grapes e.g. Sancerre, Lirac, and Pomerol. The next is VIN délimité de qualité Supériuere VDQS which has similar restriction but is not as classified as AOC. Next is Vins de Pays VdP, which usually states where it is from e.g. Vins de Pays d’Oc and sometimes also the grape variety. Finally then you have Vins de Table which can be made of just about anything!

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The ‘Original’ Limoux

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Cave Anne de Joyeuse was founded in 1929 to vinify the red wines of Limoux and the Upper Aude valley. The winegrowers, realising over time the exceptional quality of their terroir, started planting the first noble grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in 1972. Thus, the Cave Anne de Joyeuse became the first and most important Southern French vineyard to commit 100% to individual site selection based on terroir. It lead to the establishment of its white wines as AOC Limoux White in 1989 and its red wines as AOC Limoux Red in 2004.

The Limoux wine region is located in the eastern foothills of the Pyrénées in southern France, south of the fortified city of Carcassonne. The classified vineyards are all in the Aude département, in the general vicinity of Limoux, west of the Corbières hills. The climate is dominated by the strong winds of the region. The Mediterranean climate of the region has more Atlantic influences than other Languedoc wine regions. The soil in the area is rocky with clay, sandstone and limestone, creating distinct terroir. Despite being located at a southerly latitude, the climate is cooler and moister than in most of the wine regions in southern France. Its location in the foothills of the Pyrénées allows the vineyards to be at a higher elevation, and planted in optimal locations on hillsides.

The ‘Original’ Line showcases some of the best varietal examples produced in Limoux, two delightful reds, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbec, and in the white what has become the signature grape of the region Chardonnay.  The Malbec is intense purple and ruby color, blackberry and violet notes on the nose, fruity in the mouth with soft tannins and flavors of ripe black fruits, vanilla, cocoa and plum. The wine is well-balanced with a long finish. A great wine with beef, BBQ, Osso Bucco or dark chocolate.

The Cabernet is a deep red to violet-purple shade. Elegant nose with red fruits aromas. On the palate, a frank, full-bodied wine. Over a wide range of black fruit and berries flavors where the black stands out in the final.  This Cabernet Sauvignon will accompany dishes like cassoulet or spicy dishes meat dishes.

The Chardonnay is matured 50% in steel and  50% in barrels a third of which are new oak. Shiny and bright wine, pale yellow colouring.
A nose of a beautiful aromatic intensity that combines notes of white flowers and citrus. On the palate, a pleasant and clean attack. Balance and aromatic power lead us on a fresh ending with finesse. Combines perfectly with all kinds of fish (monkfish with lemon dressing or spicy piri piri) but would also fit right in as an aperitif.

Seductively Sancerre

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Paul Vattan SancerreSancerre. It just rolls of the tongue, it sounds so much more interesting than Sauvignon Blanc, it evokes images of elegance and sophistication. It just sounds well – like it should be the name of the sultry seductive feminine anti-hero who hired our 1940s  film noir Private Eye to protect her from her mobster ex boyfriend. But I digress.

We recently received delivery of the very excellent Paul Vattan Sancerre. Paul Vattan began making wine in 1986. The vineyard is located in the small village Maimbray in Sancerre, which is known for its steep hills and dense clay / limestone soil, which gives great body, mineral notes, roundness and length to the wine. Vattan produces two types of white Sancerre, his “Pente the Maimbray” is taken from a 6-acre parcel of vines around 20 years from clay-limestone soil and his “Grande Cuvée” which comes from a small one hectare parcel . The vines are over 40 years and are planted in limestone.

The ‘Pente de Maimbray’ 2011 is light golden appearance. On the nose, this wine is reminiscent of lemon and split Acacia wood and chalky mineral notes. On the palate, it is firm, quite full, and lasting on the finish with a hint of lime. A Sancerre like it should be! Currently on promotion in our ‘Wall of Sauvignon’ at €19.95 (Normally €23.95)