E. Guigal Estate, Côtes du Rhône, France

May 31, 2012

At a recent dinner function I had the opportunity to taste some wines by Etienne Guigal, the famous wine producer from Côtes du Rhône, founded in 1946 and today managed by the third generation. Marcel and his son Philippe are producing excellent wines.

In 1995 the estate acquired the famous Château d’Ampuis, which has become the headquarters of the Guigal Estate. The Guigal family owns vineyards in Condrieu (about 150 ha) and the Côte-Rôtie (230 ha). So this is not a small family business. In Condrieu the jewel of ths estate is “La Dorianne”, a Viognier. In the Côte-Rôtie area the Guigal Estate has several jewels, for instance “La Mouline”, “La Turque” and “La Landonne” among others.

2009 Côtes-du-Rhône White

The ‘2009 Côtes-du-Rhône White’ is a bled of 55% Viognier, 20% Roussanne, 10% Clairette, 10% Marsanne, 5% Bourboulenc with aromas of white peach and apricots. It was full and round, almost a bit fat.

To say it from the outset, I liked the red much better than the white. It might have to do with the food it was paired (I did not like the food) but somehow I did not find a way to this wine.

2009 Côtes-du-Rhône Red

The red was a different story. I would have served it a bit cooler but I just loved it. The ‘2009 Côtes-du-Rhône Red’ is a blend made from 45% Syrah, 52% Grenache, 3% Mourvèdre.

The intense aromas of red berries, the smoothness of the tannins and the long finish, are something I treasured in this wine. Again it did not match the food (chicken), but it reminded me of similar blends from Southern Australia which I like very much.

This is an elegant wine and I highly recommend it. It is an excellent specimen of a red blend the Côtes du Rhône has to offer.

Sticks Pinot Noir and Cowboy food

March 18, 2012

Beautifully coloured Pinot Noir

The last thing I did at Melbourne Airport when we left for Thailand in early January this year, was to buy a bottle of ‘2010 Pinot Noir’ by Sticks Winery.

I knew the bottle would not last long. On a Saturday when we felt like rural folks, we had it with a hearty meal of cowboy food.

Sticks Winery and its vineyards are located just opposite the old homestead of the Sadlier family at the foot of the hill South-west of Yarra Glen, called Christmas Hill. My friend Steve Sadlier had set up most of the vineyards many years ago when the place was still known as Yarra Ridge Winery.

If I remember correctly, my first ever wine tasting in Australia was in the tasting room of this winery. The wines were presented by Meagan, who became Steve’s wife a couple of years later. Sticks was the first vineyard I walked through in Australia. Goodness me that’s now so many years ago, maybe 1991 or 1992.

The 2010 Pinot Noir by Sticks

I was not sure if the wine would go that well with rural tucker. After all Pinot Noir makes a delicate and refined wine, something subtle and gently textured. And Sticks Pinot Noir is exactly that with delicious fruit aromas from wild cherry with a bit of spice, long on the palate with a suppleness hard to imagine. Maybe ill suited to the food we were going to have, I thought.

However that may be, we were in for a dish by Jamie Oliver, one of my favourite chefs of modern cuisine. From his “America” book, we cooked the Mountain Meatballs (page 308).

Mountain Meatballs as interpreted by Margit Adam

These meatballs are spicy. Jamie Oliver made up the recipe, he says in the book. The true Rocky Mountain dish is made of “prairie oysters”, sheep or cattle balls. We followed Jamie more than the wild West tradition.

The melted cheese in the meatball is just wonderful creamy. I also love the slight coffee aromas. This dish is a ripper of bush tucker, as we would call it in Australia. We served it with rice. I could eat it for breakfast, I must say, with bread or potatoes.

Jamie suggests a wine from the Côtes du Rhône, most likely a Grenache, a Shiraz and/or a Mourvèdre. Next time we’ll have these meatballs, I will try that.