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Domaine de la Bégude

Bandol, the little piece of paradise between Marseille and the Mediterranean is one of the only wine regions dedicated to the unstable and wild Mourvèdre. It is one of Provence’s most internationally recognized wine regions. Bandol rosé wines, which account for about a third of total output, are known for their spicy, earthy character and rank among the more distinguished rosés that France has to offer. Even with the amphitheater slopes giving a stunning view over the sea, it is said that Bandol people always looks towards the mountains instead of the sea because their focus is on the terroir. When you get a land with such a unique character as well as an historic production, it’s something to be proud of.

There’s an important temperature range from the altitude which brings freshness, but also maximal maturity. Getting that perfect phenolic maturity is quite easily achieved every year. Mourvèdre will only ripen reliably in a climate as sunny and hot as that which prevails along the Mediterranean coast. However, the temperature ranges as well as the various Mesoclimates affected by the moderating effect of the Mediterranean Sea, makes up for quite a distinctive vintage variation.

 

A story in vintages

From 2004 to 2011 It was truly the Bandol decade. A few years of excellent vintages with no troubles whatsoever.
2012 Extremely rainy
2015 Particular vintage. There was drought but still a lot of humidity in the ground from previous years. It’s atypical but filled with energy and exuberance.
2016 Very limited in Quantity. From a regular 30 hectolitres/hectares it shred to 18.
2018 The opposite of 2015 that was 3 years of rain followed by a year of drought. 2018 is 3 years of drought followed by a year of heavy rain.

The true color of Rosé.

“When I make wines, I never think about color. “says Guillaume Tari, owner of Domaine de la Bégude. The modern rosé are naked in a certain way. They need to be dressed and regain their original color. There’s a lot of prejudice concerning the color of rosé wines, but in the ends, it’s only a color. Most of the very pale rosés get there by filtration or other manipulations. It might be trendy, but it’s not historically accurate.

Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre is known to be a natural anti-oxidant. This means it is not prone to oxidation and holds up pretty well in time. This being said, it’s also quite a troublesome and demanding grape. In Bandol specifically, Mourvèdre strives and evokes the salinity of the terroir. It’s a question of how can we make wines that are so fresh in a place that is so hot. Well, of course altitude has a thing or two to say, but the strong mistral winds also has its way. It is so strong that it may break the vines, even if they’re carefully trained in Gobelet.

Bandol rosé 2018

This wine was just bottled 15 days before the tasting. There was a strong medicinal aroma that dissipated within about 30 minutes. Besides that, the wine is surprisingly fresh and tight. The fruitiness is candied, and there’s a bunch of wildflowers and honeydew melon. The structure is solid, with soft and very light tannins, but an expansive taste.

Bandol rosé 2016

Opened and expressive. The nose is based on citrus fruits, mostly grape fruits, as well as melon and a fresh mineral, salty finish. It shows the Bandol paradox of being a Grand vin, without showing any signs of heat or heaviness.

Bandol rosé 2015

2015 has the same kind of exhuberant intensity, but a fading color in the shade of orange. The nose is extremely developed and mature with aromas of Orange confit, melon skins, a decent bitterness and a resinous hint. The palate is textured and bitter, without being sour. Freshness remains, enough to lift the aromatics and finale.

Bandol Rosé, L’irréductible 2018

The difference between the rosé and the Irréductible is in the percentage of Mourvèdre. While the rosé is about 70 %, the irréductible is almost all Mourvèdre. The idea cam from a test made with old Mourvèdre wines that was vinified as mono varietal and turned out fantastic. We have the wild card of the varietal, with mostly a savory flavor instead of a fruitiness. There’s decent bitterness and a strong umami touch that acts as a flavor enhancer.

Bandol Rosé, L’irréductible 2016

Already turning orange, but with a very brilliant state. The wine is all in nuances, complex, layered and wild.

Bandol Rosé, L’irréductible 2015

Very dark and opulent, It’s a tight and very animal wine. There’s depth and extent from the developped flavors.

Cadet de la bégude 2017

The young vines of the estate are used in this IGP wine. It’s made of a third Cinsault, a third Grenache and a third Mourvèdre. The estate is currently replanting syrah to develop later in the cuvée.

Bandol rouge 2016

The first impression is all on spiciness, mostly pungent red pepper. Then comes the fruitiness stampes by the mark of the sunny and dry vintage. Filled with the mix of freshness and maturity, it has a decent texture, but mostly a gritty mouthful.

Bandol rouge 2015

The difference and unique character of the 2015 vintage is even more present in the red wines than in the rosés. In every way, this 2015 is bold, opulent and filled to the brim with energy. Guillaume Tari said that in many cases, Bégude represents the surname of the wine and the vintage is their first name. Even with this sharp personality, it stays harmonious and direct. An immediate thrill.

Bandol rouge 2012

The 2012 shows a lot of sapidity and tang. It’s very straight with an intense acidity and even a minty aroma that is almost overwhelming. The fruitiness is still very present with a great maturity and a dried character.

Bandol Rouge 2011

This was the culmination of the surprising decade. 2011 was a great vintage based on concentration and depth. Its awakening was long awaited. It took a while before showing its potential and its true color. As of right now, the wine is developing heavily, but still has a brisk acidity and a dried fruit character. It’s like the heathen traits of the Mourvèdre takes up more spaces with age.

Bandol Rouge 2007

The color is still deep, but turns toward a beautiful shade of Orange. It’s ripe in every way and fully grown, fully developed. You can feel the solar vintage. The aromas are mixed up, with little leftover fruit and instead a turn on oxidative side. There’s a peculiar bloody aroma as well as a slight volatile acidity. We could say it’s past its due.

La Brûlade 2015

La brûlade is the result of a small plateau, right in the middle of the property, which is heated by the sun constantly and permanently swept by the strong winds. The vines are planted on unique red soil, the bright red clay that is so unique to Bandol and part of its character. The wine has an intense style, in the extreme. Its balance is surprisingly tailored to its pattern. There’s a strong earthy hint as well as a mix of empyreumatic and floral tones. This special plot expresses its identity loud & clear.

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Vinho Verde isn’t what it used to be – It needs reconsideration

Always associated with easy-peazy, low alcohol and a slight fizz, Vinho Verde is getting out of its old habits. It might very well be what you need right now. While it isn’t completely turning around, the region is getting more recognized and precise in term of identity and quality, as does many regions in the world right now. Instead of an accessible wine, you may think of it as the best of what the cooler, unique, northern region of Portugal has to offer.

The thing is, Vinho Verde is not just a “summer” wine, it’s a region that has had its ups and downs, that has a rich winemaking history dating back to 2000 years ago and that was the first wine exported towards European markets. I like the thought of re-discovering a forgotten region, because it’s gone through so many changes. The fizz has gone, the blends are out and single varietals are in. Producers are doing everything they can to get out of stereotypes without losing their identity, and it’s truly a success. Nowadays, even the alcohol levels are going slightly up and we can even find oak ageing in some cases. Anselmo Mendes was one of the pioneer in the development of this new style and a big help towards research and understanding in the region.

Vinho Verde vs Porto

The region of Vinho Verde is quite expansive, but it is in fact surrounding the beautiful and extremely popular city of Porto. While the city is closely, historically linked to the production of port wines, the first vines you see outside the city walls are in fact Vinho Verde. The city itself rest in the vast Ave sub-region, known for its maritime influence on Loureiro & blends. Also, if you follow the Douro, or the newly opened and ideal A4 highway, you’ll end up passing across Sousa, Amarante and Baião. The latter, Baião sub-region is home to the best example of Avesso. This grape has had a huge increase in Popularity with winemakers and consumers. It’s aromatic and complex nature makes it very versatile and interesting as a monovarietal.

Of course, the most recognized of the 9 sub-regions, Monção e Melgaço, home of the Alvarinho grape is way up north, but that’s the beauty of the region. The diversity in terms of styles, climates, soils and even the 47 local authorized grapes makes it very versatile. With the new wave of drier, varietal-labeled Vinho Verde building up the region’s reputation, it left some places to experimentation. Some varietals are making a comeback. For example, Batoca, a forgotten grape is now getting replanted. Quinta Santa Cristina is also making a 100% Batoca. Caíño, that was mistaken for a long time as Alvarinho is also getting some attention. In addition, some producers are also experimenting with barrel ageing, skin contact, lees stirring/ageing and even biodynamic. The idea is to assure the phenolic compounds are integrated and give added body, structure, complexity and intensity.

This is really an exciting time for the region. So, next time you try a Vinho Verde wine, just take the time to look at it and taste it properly. I know, it’s the kind of bottle that is easily emptied, but if you can, look at the grapes, the provenance, the winemaking method, you might get pleasantly surprised.

Try some!

Astronauta Arinto Vinho Verde 2018

The concept of Astronaut Wines and the idea of Anhibal Couthino, Portuguese Oenologist, is to put forward emblematic grape varietals of different regions, representing not only the place it comes from, but the actual winemaking culture of a region. This Arinto based wine is crispy and light with a bright acidity and minerality. Typical, classic, well-done.

A&D Wines Espinhosos 2017

Located in the sub-region of Baião, on top of the hill, overlooking the valley with a clear distinction between the Douro and the Vinho Verde, A&D wines is one hell of a gorgeous estate. Espinhosos is a blend of Avesso and chardonnay. It has a deeper color. It’s also floral but also with a lovely wild honey aroma. The acidity is screeching but rounded by the chardonnay in the blend. It’s very slightly carbonated as the style of A&D wines does not put a priority on bubbles.

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2017

Renowned and leading producer of the Minho region, Anselmo Mendes’ name is closely linked to the Alvarhino variety, the region’s hype and recent innovations. With his extensive research on local grapes, soils, vine’s growth and winemaking processes, he’s been adding his creator’s touch to wines for more than 20 years now. Everything’s about acidity in this wine. It starts with a strong sour attack that softens up into a lively finish.

 

Le Vinho Verde n’est plus ce qu’il était – Il doit être réexaminé

Toujours associé à des boissons faciles à manger, à faible teneur en alcool et à un léger pétillement, le  Verde se défait de ses vieilles habitudes. C’est probablement ce dont vous avez besoin maintenant. Bien que la situation ne soit pas complètement renversée, la région devient plus reconnue et plus précise sur le plan de l’identité et de la qualité, tout comme de nombreuses régions dans le monde à l’heure actuelle. Au lieu d’un vin accessible, vous pouvez penser qu’il s’agit du meilleur de ce que la région nordique du Portugal, plus fraîche et unique, peut offrir.

Le fait est que le Vinho Verde n’est pas simplement un vin «d’été», c’est une région qui a connu des hauts et des bas, qui a une riche histoire viticole remontant à 2000 ans et qui a été  le premier vin exporté vers les marchés européens.  J’aime l’idée de redécouvrir une région oubliée, subissant tant de changements. Le petit pétillement a disparu, les assemblages sont terminés et les monocépages sont de vigueur. Les producteurs font tout leur possible pour sortir des stéréotypes sans perdre leur identité, et c’est vraiment un succès. De nos jours, même les niveaux d’alcool augmentent légèrement et on peut trouver de la barrique dans certains cas. Anselmo Mendes a été l’un des pionniers dans le développement de ce nouveau style et une aide précieuse pour la recherche et la compréhension dans la région.

Vinho Verde vs Porto

La région de Vinho Verde est assez vaste, mais elle entoure en fait la belle et extrêmement populaire ville de Porto. Alors que la ville est étroitement liée historiquement à la production de Porto, les premières vignes que vous voyez en dehors des murs de la ville sont en fait du Vinho Verde. La ville elle-même est située dans la vaste sous-région d’Ave, connue pour son influence maritime sur le Loureiro et ses assemblages. De plus, si vous suivez le Douro ou l’autoroute A4 idéale et nouvellement ouverte, vous finirez par passer par Sousa, Amarante et Baião. Cette dernière, la sous-région de Baião, abrite le meilleur exemple d’Avesso. Ce cépage a connu une augmentation de popularité considérable auprès des viticulteurs et des consommateurs. Sa nature aromatique et complexe le rend très polyvalent et intéressant comme monocépage.

Bien sûr, la plus connue des 9 sous-régions, Monção e Melgaço, berceau du cépage Alvarinho, se situe tout au nord, mais c’est la beauté de la région. La diversité de styles, de climat, de sols et même des 47 cépages locaux autorisés la rendent très polyvalente. Avec la nouvelle vague de Vinho Verde, plus vari, qui a construit la réputation de la région, il y a place à l’expérimentation. Certains cépages font leur grand retour. Par exemple, le Batoca, un raisin oublié est en train d’être replanter. Quinta Santa Cristina réalise même un vin 100% Batoca. Caíño, qui a longtemps été confondu avec l’Alvarinho attire également l’attention. En outre, certains producteurs expérimentent le vieillissement en fûts, le contact avec les lies, bâtonnage et même la biodynamie. L’idée est de s’assurer que les composés phénoliques sont intégrés et apportent corps, structure, complexité et intensité supplémentaires.

C’est vraiment un moment excitant pour la région. Alors, la prochaine fois que vous essayerez un vin du Vinho Verde, prenez juste le temps de le regarder et de le déguster correctement. Je sais que c’est le genre de bouteille qui se vide facilement, mais si vous pouvez regarder les cépages, la provenance, la méthode de vinification, vous pourriez être agréablement surpris.

 

À essayer!

Astronauta Arinto Vinho Verde 2018

Le concept des vins astronautes et celui d’Anhibal Couthino, œnologue portugais, consistent à proposer des cépages emblématiques de différentes régions, représentant non seulement l’endroit d’où ils proviennent, mais aussi la culture viticole d’une région. Ce  vin à base d’Arinto est croquant et léger, avec une acidité et une minéralité éclatante. Typique, classique, bien fait.

A & D Vins Espinhosos 2017

Situé dans la sous-région de Baião, au sommet de la colline, surplombant la vallée avec une nette distinction entre le Douro et le Vinho Verde, les vins A & D viennent d’un domaine magnifique. Espinhosos est un mélange d’Avesso et de Chardonnay. Il a une couleur plus profonde. C’est aussi floral mais avec de beaux arômes de miel sauvage. L’acidité est criarde mais arrondie par le chardonnay dans l’assemblage. Il est très légèrement gazéifié car le style des vins A & D ne privilégie pas les bulles.

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2017

Célèbre et premier producteur de la région du Minho, le nom d’Anselmo Mendes est étroitement lié à la variété Alvarhino, au battage publicitaire de la région et aux innovations récentes. Grâce à ses recherches approfondies sur les raisins locaux, les sols, la croissance de la vigne et les processus de vinification, il ajoute sa touche de créateur aux vins depuis plus de 20 ans. Tout est question d’acidité dans ce vin. Cela commence par une forte attaque qui se s’adoucit tranquillement  pour donner une finale vive.

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The new Hospitality side of Porto  –  The house of Sandeman

Real, living proof of the recent touristic development of Porto, or in that case I should say Gaia. Both cities, face to face, are kind of the same. They’re only separated by a bridge, or a few bridges, but the style and ambiance is completely different.

Vila Nova de Gaia was, and still is the home of historic Port Lodges. Every inch of it is filled with links to the Port industry. It’s no surprises that most of the restaurant and hotels are under the name of Port Houses. Sandeman is one of the most popular place to visit. The huge terrace up front with delicious Port cocktails is one of the main reason, but also the complete offer they have. The House of SAndeman is many things. There’s the cellar, the terrace, the hostel & suites and the George restaurant.

The Hostel & Suites

In the Iconic Building of Sandeman, with one of the best view over the Douro River and the Ponte Luis, The house of Sandeman is an alternative and kind of free-spirited place to stay. Right in the middle of the action, it would be hard to be closer than that. There’s various options for the guest from superior rooms with perfect view, cosy smaller rooms with amazing Sandeman Artworks, or there’s the social side. You can book a place in dorms with beds with a custom framing inspired by the Port wine barrels. The Lodge is offering all kind of happening for the guests to join and meet: breakfast, afternoon tea and Cookie or Happy hour.

The George

For something more high-end, you need to book a table at the George restaurant. Same Location within the historic house of Sandeman along the riverside, but with an amazing offer of typical flavours from the north of Portugal paired with the best Portuguese wines from all around the Country.

I’d strongly recommend :

TOMATE & CIA  Tomato salad with breaded goat cheese.

LOMBO DE ATUM EM PÃO DE ALFARROBA Tuna loin steak on carob bread, french fries and green salad.

VITELA BT  Low temperature veal with broth rice.

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The new Hospitality side of Porto  –  Torel 1884 and the Bartolomeu Wine Bistro

Torel 1884 is a new Boutique Hotel in Porto that is meant to showcases the Wonders of the Age of Discovery. Every little décor items screams adventure and exotism. This 3 months old destination is inspired by Portugal’s maritime explorations during the 15th and 16th centuries. The hotel was conceived as a celebration of the cultural diversity that the Portuguese explorers encountered during their journeys to Africa, the Americas and Asia. It’s really an insightful mix up.

The Bartolomeu Wine Bistro, which is named after the 15th-century Portuguese seafarer who was the first European to sail around Africa’s southernmost point, also follows the same vibes. In addition, in this particular ambiance, you may choose from a stellar wine selection of Portuguese vintages from small producers, and a delectable menu of snacks such as Portuguese cheeses & Charcuteries, tartars & other delicate small plates. In addition to the Portuguese fresh products, there’s also a French influence, Thus the Bistro side of the place. We could say the best of both worlds in some way, even if it might be more than two worlds colliding, in fact. Get me Portuguese cheeses and I’m pretty much in heaven, so this was the perfect, relaxed lunch for me.

If you are to order anything, take the Cheese and Charcuterie boards. Just look at that thing! The homemade pumpkin compote and the freshly grated pink pepper are just a proof of all the attention that went into this. Also, do you know how rare and expansive pistachios are in Porto?  Nothing is spared for quality, yet the prices are extremely affordable.

The chocolate tart is also one of the most succulent thing on the menu. Decadent, sweet, delight.

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The new Hospitality side of Porto  – Torel Avant-Garde and the Digby restaurant

Torel Avantgarde is an Award-winning five-star art boutique hotel in the centre of Porto. Completely Innovative in term of style, it succeeded in also keeping its Portuguese roots, especially at the excellent restaurant of the hotel, the Digby restaurant. Fresh Portuguese food, great Portuguese wine and most importantly, a great view over the Douro, it’s really what you need, right?

Each of our 47 rooms and suites is dedicated to an AvantGarde artist and designed individually. This is truly the kind of new hotel that stands out of standards big chains. Spectacular and unique, in my opinion is better than the conventional and boring you often get. The is the beauty of such a place. It makes you feel special in every way.

The restaurant is named after Sir Kenelm Digby, an English Courtier & diplomat, credited as the inventor of the modern glass wine bottle. His bottles and his technique has made them stronger and more stable, saving countless amount of precious wine spillage from breaking. The restaurant itself is not as flashy as the hotel. The neutral tones and linear design showcase the quality of materials and even the courteous service. The food features big Portuguese flavors in dishes such as monkfish or Mushroom based dishes, but they’re also refined and diverse.

The view from the amazing terrace

Delicious pork loin entree. Not your usual dish in Porto, ambitious but definitely well presented.

Portuguses cuisine is mostly known for their delicious seafoods, fishes and of course Bacalhau, but they also have some outstanding vegetables such as mushrooms. These mushroom croquette truly showed the taste potential.

You can’t miss this octopus carpaccio, Another bold dish from something very portuguese.

Keep some places for the spectacular desserts. A chocolate based delight or a very fresh strawberry mess with fizzy candy.

If you’re lucky enough, there might be a special tasting by the pool. Once in a while, they organize a special menu showcasing the wines of a specific producer. DJ by the pool included.