Yes it’s August already, so why not enhance the summer vibe with some totally drinkable rosé?
Here is a pair from O’Briens’ August wine promotions – one sparkling and one still – that are worth popping open anytime, but especially when they are on offer:
Langlois L’Extra Crémant de Loire Rosé NV
Langlois are a well-established Saumur-based Loire producer who specialise in Crémants – they have six including this rosé – as well as reds and whites from Saumur and the surrounding appellations. They have been part of the Bollinger group since 1973 and their parent’s savoir-faire has undoubtedly helped to lift quality.
There are two classes in the Anglois Crémant range. The four traditional Crémants consist of up to four varieties: Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, in either NV or vintage expressions. The L’Extra range has a white – which is outstanding – and this rosé.
The blend for this Crémant is 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Grolleau. The latter is a black grape primarily grown in the Loire and used for rosés – Anjou rosé and Crémant rosé – though seldomly seen on a front label. The grapes are pneumatically pressed immediately after destemming, giving 100 litres of juice from 150 kg of grapes. For this wine the free run juice (the cuvée) and some of the subsequent light pressings (the taille) are used. It spends a minimum of 12 months in bottle before disgorgement.
In the glass it is fully sparkling (the traditional method is used for all Crémants) and a pale salmon colour. The nose shows lots of fresh summer fruits, notably raspberry and strawberry. In the mouth it has a light and creany texture, with those summer fruits back again. It has a certain yeastiness, but not the full-on brioche experience of some Champagnes.
For me this rosé comes a narrow second to its white sibling, but there’s no shame in that as the Blanc is so excellent – I bought my wife a dozen for mother’s day this year. If you fancy a well-made pink fizz then there’s little to touch this at the price.
Weingut Zull is a quality Austrian producer still in the hands of its founding family. It has four ranges within its portfolio, the majority of which carry the Weinwiertel DAC appellation. The introductory range includes three “Lust & Laune” wines which are designed to be fun and accessible. The white is 100% Grüner Veltliner, the red is a blend of Zweigelt and Pinot Noir, and this rosé is similar to the red but also has dashes of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The colour comes from 20% red wine being added to 80% clear juice – though I don’t have details of which varieties are used for the 20% – rather than the saignée method. Whichever they are, the result is a lovely glowing salmon pink. The nose features fresh, ripe red fruit aromas which jump out of the glass: strawberry, raspberry, loganberry, watermelon and fruit polos. This is a zingy, fun, fleshy, FRUITY wine, full of summer fruits but not at all flabby (residual sugar is only 4 g/L). You might even detect a hint of tannin on the finish, but it’s just a little seasoning. Wonderful stuff!
In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time. As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:
A piece of music –> they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it
It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!) Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.
For the eleventh edition of this series we are in the capable hands of Mags McKee, a great friend and fellow DNSer (even though she lives south of the Liffey) . Mags has a long held passion for wine and has taken it to the next level with The Wine Pair, a wine bar and shop she opened with her husband Canice. When I quizzed Mags on her taste in music, among many things she mentioned both U2 and the Blues, so there was an immediately obvious choice: a fantastic track from U2’s Rattle & Hum album featuring guitar and vocals from Riley B. King, aka the King of the Blues BB King. This was in fact the track that really turned me on to the blues and it has since been one of my favourite genres.
There were so many wines I’ve tasted with Mags at consumer and DNS tastings over the years that I was spoiled for choice. Running through the wine list of The Wine Pair to narrow it down, I spotted one of my favourite Austrian reds: Pittnauer Zweigelt “Heideboden”. I was lucky enough to meet Gerhard Pittnauer and taste through his wines a few years ago.
When Love Comes to Town – U2 with BB King
I was delighted when Frankie gave me my music choice When Love Comes to Town – U2 with BB King as I am a big fan of U2, with Rattle and Hum being one of my favourite U2 albums. I am also an avid Blues fan and love the edge that the King of the Blues brings to this version. I know it may seem weird to some but listening to Blues makes me happy.
Love coming to town automatically made me think of a sparkling wine and as this is a rock song with the addition of the wonderful BB King what better than a naturally sparkling Pétillant Naturel, or Pet Nat for short. Pet Nat is made in the ‘methode ancestrale’, i.e. bottled before primary fermentation has finished (i.e. with yeast still alive and sugar remaining) which then continues to ferment in the bottle, finishing relatively dry with pleasantly frothy bubbles.
A great natural Pet Nat I have been enjoying recently and a firm favourite with The Wine Pair customers is the deliciously ripe and Dangerously drinkable, Tour de Gendres. Its frothy bubbles release delicious tart orchard fruit and citrus notes. The bright acidity balances the slight sweetness as it dances on the tongue reminding me of how we have boogied to this great song.
This interesting and fun to drink Pet Nat is made from predominantly Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc (30%) by Luc di Conti in Bergerac, Southwest France, close to Bordeaux. Luc farms biodynamically on his 54 hectare vineyard, located on the bank of the Dordogne River, and uses seaweed, and other natural resources, to nourish the soil. The de Conti family has run the farm here since the early 1900s, but only in 1986 did Luc de Conti and his brother, Jean, decide to plant the vineyard and embark on a new adventure of viticulture and winemaking. In 1994, they became the first in the region to move away from pesticides and chemicals and turn to 100 percent organic farming.
The grapes from low yielding vines are allowed to fully ripen and are manually crushed. Partial fermentation, with indigenous yeasts, is in stainless steel vats with final fermentation in the bottle. It is bottled without fining, filtering or the addition of sulphur making it vegan friendly and a little cloudy.
This is wonderfully drinkable, and would be a great alternative for Prosecco drinkers looking for something a little more interesting while still being easy and fun to drink and its only 11% ABV.
We usually have it as an aperitif but I think it would go great with Sushi or Smoked fish. My cheese pairing for this would be a goat’s cheese maybe a St Tola or Cooleeney, Gortnamona to bring even more love to town.
This bright vibrant wine certainly brings Love to Town for me and its fantastic label from is pretty cool too. If you haven’t tried it yet “catch that flame” and “jump on that train”.
Pittnauer Zweigelt Heideboden
My wine choice from Frankie, Pittnauer Zweigelt Heideboden, was again one my favourites so gave me a great excuse to drink more and think about my choice of music for this wine.
I am a big fan of the high quality wines coming from Austria and my first visit to Vienna was booked for the end of March this year. I was really looking forward to trying some great Austrian wines whilst there but it didn’t happen due to Covid-19. The disappointment of my cancelled trip is reflected in my music choice – Vienna Calling by Falco. The lively and glamorous song from 1985 was the follow on hit to his other big hit song Rock me Amadeus.
A Mozart piece may have been an obvious choice for this wine but my eclectic music choices are hugely influenced by the 80’s and I love electronic music. Falco and his music sits in the genre of West German Rock, Neue Deutsche Welle “New German Wave”) which is originally derived from post punk and new wave with electronic influences, so I’m sure the music scene in Austria in the mid 80s was greatly influenced by one of my favourite groups Kraftwerk. Anyway, there is a nod to a Viennese waltz at the start of the song.
In the mid 80s, while Falco was rocking Amadeus, the Austrian wine industry was rocking in the midst of scandal and chaos , Gerhard Pittnaur, then only 18, started the Weingut Pittnauer business in Burgenland in the eastern corner of Austria. He had to train himself to make wine and chose to farm the indigenous grapes of the region. He thinks to ‘grow’ wine rather than to ‘make’ it in the cellar. Gerhard and his wife Brigitte decided to create what they call living wines. All work is done manually from composting to pruning. There is no calendar that drives them. Nothing is rushed: they believe in quality over speed. They taste for perfect ripeness, select the cleanest grapes, and begin the wine in the cellar.
Pittnauer Zweigelt Heideboden is 100% Zweigelt. Zweigelt is the most popular red wine variety in Austria and originates from the crossing of St. Laurent with Blaufrankisch. It is characterised by its cherry fruit and a juicy, soft style. This wine is bursting with red cherries, blueberries, blackberries and plums with hints of violet and black pepper. It’s an elegant wine with a long complex finish. As Falco says ‘Oh o Ho’.
This is one of my go to wines for a cheese and meat platter as it pairs well with most cheeses and cured meats and its acidity stands up to any pickled accompaniments giving no taste clashes.
So Hello, Vienna is still calling me and I will get there but until I do I can still enjoy great Austrian wines.
Mags is one half of The Wine Pair, the other being Canice (who, in an amazing coincidence, also has the surname McKee!) They opened The Wine Pair late last year with the aim of providing an informal neighbourhood wine bar where people could relax with a favourite glass (or carafe, or bottle) and choose small cheese or charcuterie plates to pairwith it. They also offered the option of take-home sales and in these Covid-19 affected times they have been busy offering collection and local delivery.
It was a real pleasure to meet Gerhard Pittnauer and taste his wines at the WineMason tasting earlier this year. Weingut Pittnauer is based in Austria’s Burgenland, at the north east corner of Lake Neusiedl (the Neusiedlersee: area 9 in the map below); the body of water prevents winters being too harsh so it’s great for producing red wines.
These are the wines which impressed me most:
Pittnauer Pitt Nat 2016 (10.5%, RRP €32 but currently only in restaurants)
Pitt Nat is a pun on Pét-Nat, the trendy slang for Pétillant-Naturel, a naturally sparkling style of wine that predates Champagne, Prosecco and the rest. Rather than sugar and yeast being added to an already fully fermented wine, the wine is bottled before it has finished its primary fermentation, and thus the carbon dioxide produced is dissolved into the liquid.
2016 is only Pittnauer’s second vintage of this wine but it’s so successful I hope they retain it in their range. It’s a light rosé made from 90% Zweigelt and 10% Blaufrankisch, slightly cloudy from remaining yeast. Fruity with a touch of pleasant sourness, it finishes dry (as their is no dosage, of course). Very nice drinking!
Pittnauer Pitti 2015 (13.5%, RRP €19 at Baggot St Wines, Blackrock Cellar, Mitchells, Redmonds & SIYPS)
Pitti is the all-rounder red of the range, made of 50% Zweigelt, 40% Blaufränkisch and 10% Merlot. It shows a little red but mainly black fruit – blackberries in particular. There’s also something of the other in there – pepper and black olive – which add savoury notes to the fruit. A great introduction to red Austrian wine.
Pittnauer Zweigelt Heideboden 2015 (13.5%, RRP €21 at Red Island, The Corkscrew, 1601 Kinsale & SIYPS)
Zweigelt is an Austrian-born cross of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch which is now the country’s most widely grown black grape. It’s not the only varietal Zweigelt made by Pittnauer, but it’s from a single village and is more intensely fruity and structured. A mixture of new and old oak was used to add a little heft, but it doesn’t obscure the delicious black fruit – nor the hint of liquorice. Acidity is present and correct; this is a great food wine.
Pittnauer St Laurent Dorflagen 2015 (12.0%, RRP €25 at 1601 Kinsale, The Corkscrew & Redmonds)
Saint or Sankt Laurent is the most widely plated black grape in the Czech Republic, second in Slovakia and third in Austria. Its origins are uncertain but it can be loosely thought of as Pinot Noir with a bit more oomph! Compared to the other Pittnauer reds this is a lighter wine – the 12.0% abv gives a clue – with red and black fruit sharing the stage. Fresh acidity and light, crunchy tannins complete the picture