Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Glad to say most of the wines flagged in a last month’s A Festive Wine Mix came up trumps over the holiday period. The Hamilton Ewell Fortified Red Wine, available from Bubble Brothers for about €18.00, was an after dinner highlight and this port taste-alike went down well with the Green Saffron Christmas Pudding.

Not all alcohol

Much before all that, the Innocent Bystander, Victoria, 2010 Moscato, 5.5% (Bradley’s Off Licence), drew quite a lot of favourable comment as did the Mont Marcal Extremarium Cava from Curious Wines.

There was a split decision when the Jip Jip Rocks Sparkling Shiraz from Karwig Wines was introduced and I must admit I didn’t get too many converts. But another red from the Carrigaline outlet went down a treat and that was the Monte Veho 2010 Vinho Regional Alentejano (€13.85). Made from a selection of regional grapes, this was well balanced, nicely rounded, soft and easy drinking.

And another Portuguese red, the Fontanario de Pegoes Palmela DO Reserva 2007 (Portugal), 14%, (€16.99), also got a big welcome. This is imported by Wine Alliance and widely available as is one of their brilliant whites: Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc Limited Edition 2009, New Zealand, 13.5%, €15.99, another Christmas star.

Back to Karwig’s for another white that found wide acceptance: Rebenfeld Gruner Veltliner 2006 from South Austria (€11.00). This crisp fruity dry wine, from Austria’s flagship white grape, has good balance and a good finish and is very good value indeed. Perhaps the top Karwig white that found its way onto the holiday table was the Martin Codax Albarino 2010 (€13.85). A lovely wine: aromatic, crisp and dry.

I also had the pleasure of a couple of doubles from the Southern Rhone, a pair of Chateauneuf du Pape, and also a pair of good ones from La Citadelle, one of the top producers in the Luberon. I’ll fill you in on these later.

It wasn’t all alcohol of course. The Innocent Bystander drew favourable comment partly because of its low alcohol and I also had my favourite non alcoholic beverage available, the Tipperary Sparkling Apple Juice by Con Traas.

Con also does a gorgeous still apple juice from his Carmine apples and, at Midleton Farmers Market on Christmas Eve morning, I found a worthy rival in the still juice by the Little Irish Apple Company from Kilkenny. It is made from Bramley and Seasonal Dessert varieties and is refreshing and natural and lovely when chilled, a different taste that also found favour around here this holiday.

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