Showing posts with label Albarino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albarino. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chile's Aresti Family Wines. Plus A Lovely Albarino.

The Aresti Family, Highly Rated Chilean Winemakers
Jon (right) with Yours Truly
Though established in 1951, it was 1999 before the Aresti family began producing wine under their own label on their Bellavista estate in Chile’s Curicó Valley. Now, according to Wines of South America, they have “one thousand cultivated acres”. Their signature line is the Aresti Family Collection (also carried by SuperValu). 

Their winemaker, since 2005, is the experienced Jon Usabiaga, highly respected by fellow Chilean winemakers and a regular visitor to Ireland. I met him a couple of years back and he told me: “The main aim for me is to show the real character of every variety. If someone is choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon, it should taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon”.

Aresti Bellavista Reserva Merlot Curicó Valley (Chile) 2015, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
Unusually, there is a truck on the label. It is the first truck, “La Perica”, that arrived in Bellavista, the founding vineyard of Aresti. Both the truck and the vineyard date back to 1951.

Colour of this Merlot is ruby. It boasts aromas of ripe red fruit, hints of vanilla too. The juicy palate has strawberry flavours and spice too, tannins are mild, and the finish is long and dry. Highly Recommended.


Aresti Bellavista Reserva Chardonnay Curicó Valley (Chile) 2016, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
This is another of SuperValu’s Specially Sourced wines, an increasingly important part of their wine offering. “Delivering new and exciting wines to cater for all tastes is top of our agenda,” says Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of Wine.

Like the Merlot, the Chardonnay is produced at Bellavista (note the lorry again!), the original Aresti venture. You’ll also find Bellavista Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in SuperValu.

The colour is straw, with tints of green. No need to get really close in this instance as intense tropical fruit aromas rise from the glass. The fresh fruit features too on the creamy palate and good acidity keeps all in balance. A long dry finish lingers. This harmonious wine is Highly Recommended.



A Lovely Albarino
Bodegas Gallegas 'Abellio' Albarino, Rias Baixas (Spain) 2016, €12.99 (€10.00 when on offer) 12.5%, SuperValu

We leave Argentina now and cross the Atlantic to Spain, to Galicia and this attractively labelled Albarino. I know Kevin O’Callaghan is very proud of this one as he helped design the label (just one of the ways in which SuperValu help their producers sell their wines).

Winemaker Xoan Casiano Rego Ribeiro (call him Joan for short) is a defender of Galician wines, of the native varieties in particular, and has done a great job here with the hand-harvested Albarino fruit. 



The wine has the typical mid-gold colour.With its excellent aromas (white fruit) and flavours, it is ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. It is smooth and intense on the palate, with refreshing minerality and well balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Exciting White Trio. Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling

Terras Gauda Abadío de San Campio Albarino, Rías Baixas (DO) 2014, 12%, €20.35 Le Caveau

Thought to be related to Riesling and presumably brought by Cluny monks to 12th century Iberia, via France, the recently fashionable Albarino grape is now mainly associated with Rías Baixas in north western Spain. It is also grown in neighbouring areas in Portugal where it is known as Alvarinho.

I was expecting good things in this bottle and I got them, even better than anticipated. Colour is mid-gold, bright and clean and there is no shortage of white fruits in the aromas. On the palate, it is bright and fruity, citrus in the tingle, minerality to the fore, a superb combination overall and that includes the long finish. Ticks all the boxes for a classy Albarino and is Very Highly Recommended.

The producers say it is ideal with seafood, shellfish and fish and especially with Tuna steaks.

Elgin Ridge 282 Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa 2014, 14%, €19.95 Le Caveau
At 282 metres above sea-level, we are at the ideal height to create cool climate Sauvignon Blanc in the Elgin Valley. The organic farming methods give the wine its elegance and unique flavour.

So says Marion Smith, ex Ballyjamesduff, who now runs the winery with her husband Brian. By the way, Dexter cattle, a native Irish breed, figure in the organic farming, grazing between the rows of vines and indeed Marion has the biggest herd of Dexter in the Western Cape.

Dexters aren’t the only “helpers” for Marion and Brian, who planted their first vines here in 2007. They also use Dorper sheep, chickens and Peking ducks to control the weeds and pests. Looks like the combination is working very well indeed.

Colour is a medium-gold with green tints. The aromas are fresh and cool. That freshness extends to the palate, tingly with concentrated white fruit, including gooseberry, citrus also prominent, pepper and spice too and then an excellent finish. Highly Recommended.

Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling trocken, Rheingau 2015, 12%, €17.80 Karwig Wines

Grapes are hand-picked and indeed the vinification is focussed on “preserving the natural fruit”. This is facilitated by natural and gentle fining and slow cool fermentation. As usual Carl Ehrhard gets it right.


Colour is pale gold with greenish tints and you'll note micro bubbles clinging to the glass. Aromas are a gentle mix of apple and citrus. It tingles the palate; the intense fruit, now with more than a hint of grapefruit, and a super refreshing acidity combine well all the way to a long finish. This dry wine is Very Highly Recommended. Perfect for aperitif and with seafood and Riesling is regularly recommended for Asian.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Albarino. Wine of the Celtic Fringe and the Spanish King.

Albariño. Wine of the Celtic Fringe and the Spanish King.

Albariño, from the green lands of Galicia, has become a very popular wine in recent years. Across the River Mino, the Portuguese call it Alvarinho and use it as the major component (sometimes the only grape) in Vinho Verde.

The Rias Baixas wine region of Galicia, where the indented coastline is a major feature of this Celtic fringe of Spain, is the home of Albariño, and there are a number of sub zones. Condado do Tea is the warmest and this is where the Senorio de Rubios comes from, while the Segrel and the Codax are from the cooler and wetter Val do Salnes. O Rosal is another sub zone, to the south west. Here, you could do worse than look out for Terras Gauda.
Hamper!
I was lucky enough to win three of the wines below (the Codax is the exception) in a pre-Christmas online competition run by Food and Wine from Spain (Ireland) and they invited me to drink like a king! The King of Spain chose Albariño wines to celebrate his marriage.

With its aromas of honeysuckle, citrus, ripe melon, peach, pear, among other exotic fruits, it is the perfect drink to enjoy with friends during the summer. But not bad in the middle of winter either, as I found out these past few days.

It pairs well with a wide range of cuisines and Food and Wine from Spain tell me it “works fantastically with Indian, Asian and Mexican food”.

“The hand picked grapes that go into Albariño wines are carefully tended to by the winemakers in Rias Baixas. Over half these winemakers are women, representing the highest figure of female producers in any wine producing region.”

Finest Wines of Rioja (2011) debunked a popular misconception that these wines are meant to be drunk within one year of the vintage. “..a quality Albariño, bottled during the the first spring after harvest, with a balanced structure relying on fresh acidity and  a good mineral character, will be at its best after its second spring and will continue growing in bottle for some years.”
Tetella cheese (DO)

In Grapes and Wines (Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand), Albariño is hailed as the grape that “brings flavour in bucketfuls to the white wines of northwestern Iberia”. And they go on to tell us that Albariño is “by far Spain’s most fashionable white variety, particularly when grown in Rias Baixas..”

The coastal landscape is neatly summed up in the World Atlas of Wine: “..the landscape is exceptional for Spain: irregular Atlantic inlets called rías, which are effectively shallow fjords, lined with hills that are densely forested with local pine and rapacious eucalyptus imported in the 1950s.” The green Spain.


  • Did a fair bit of reading from authoritative sources for this post and most seem to agree that three of the top producers are: Fillaboa (imported by Wines Direct), Le Val and Pazo de Senorans (O’Brien’s).


Segrel Ambar Albariño 2014, 12.5%
Bright gold in colour, it has intense aromas (fruity, floral, and definity herbaceous). It is not shy on the palate either. The intense fruit is immediately obvious as is its viscosity. That fruit though is well balanced by the acidity and then it also has a superb elegant finish. A super Albariño and Very Highly Recommended. If you like a “bold” wine go for this one, if you prefer something more restrained then try the Mario Sanzo. You might need to try both to be sure!
Segrel is the name given to a travelling medieval poet and this wine, in its Burgundy bottle, is indeed harmonious, a most pleasant balance of flavour and acidity. May have the edge on the Senorio de Rubios.


Imported by Woods Wines Ltd.

Mario Sanzo Albariño 2014, 12.5%.

Bright in the glass with a pale gold colour. Similar to the Segrel Ambar even if not quite as intense, it has a very pleasant aroma combination of fruit, floral and herbaceous notes. Viscosity feels a bit above average. Full bodied, mineral and fruity, with a stronger acidity at play here, perhaps reflecting the proximity of the vineyard to the bracing Atlantic. Overall, it is very well balanced indeed, a very refreshing wine, restrained and refined and Very Highly Recommended.

Sanzo are hardly a typical Rias Baixas producer in that they produce wines all across Spain, even in Portugal.


SEÑORÍO DE RUBIÓS ALBARIÑO
Señorío De Rubiós Albariño 2013, 12.5%,
Got off to a poor start with this one!
My three bottles were accompanied by a Spanish cows milk cheese, called Tetella, and I paired the two, thinking that since both were from Galicia, they would match well. I thought I was on a winner but it didn't work. Not a win, win! Just the opposite. 

Yet, a quick separation later and I had two winners. The unusually shaped cheese is mild and pleasant to eat. It can be enclosed in the local roasted peppers (there was a jar in the hamper!) or used with a little bit of relish (such as the redcurrant and port wine by Lakeshore).

The wine, with its healthy looking light gold colour (tints of green there too), was superb on its own. It has attractive aromas with both floral and fruit elements. On the palate it is fresh, full of white fruit flavours, terrific structure and viscosity and a long dry minerally finish. Excellent and Highly Recommended.
Seen this at €16.99 online at the Black Pig Dublin

Martin Codax Albariño 2013, 12.5%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
A lovely light gold is the colour here. Aromas are intense, not quite as much as the Segrel though the same elements - floral, fruity, herbaceous - are all present. No shortage of citrus-y fruits on the palate, quite a bracing acidity here and then that long minerally finish. Ideal for those Atlantic shellfish and Highly Recommended.


Below, I have added the winery’s tasting notes. Do you like the names of their three steps?


"The Martin Codax winery, named after one of the most important medieval Galician troubadours, was founded in 1986 thanks to the idea of a group of winegrowers; as a winery made by people for the people. Set up by 270 members, the winery also relies on the collaboration of 300 families whose grapes are supplied to us. As a big family, we work together in order to ensure our wines have the highest possible quality."


TASTING NOTES

VISUAL STEP

Clean, bright lemon yellow with greenish reflections
OLFACTORY STEP
Medium intensity with ripe citrus notes file type and tangerine. Predominant note floral (hawthorn, jasmine and orange blossom) and a herbal background type hay.
GUSTATORY STEP
Envelope, fresh and good balance. The aftertaste reminds the note of ripe citrus.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wine Time! Three To Consider

Wine Time!

Three To Consider
Seventeen months in oak.

Coto de Imaz 2008 Reserva Rioja (DOC), 13.5%, €19.60, Karwig Wines

This dark cherry coloured gem from La Rioja has spent 17 months in American oak and a further three years in bottle.The fruit aromas promise much and, with this well balanced wine, you don't have to wait long for the fulfilment. A complex well-aged, well-made wine “from a selection of the best Tempranillo grapes in Rioja”. In the mouth, it feels close to velvet and the tannins are a little grippy. Excellent overall and Very Highly Recommended.

Almirante’s Pionero Mundi Albarino 2013 (Rias Baixas), 12.5%, €14.95 at Mitchell & Sons, Dublin; Skelly’s of Longford; Bradley’s of Cork; and others


There are more than 600 pages in the 1994 Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine and the Spanish region of Rias Baixas gets about a 1/3rd of a page, enough though for the editors to note that “the Albarino, a variety of such excellence that almost the whole wine industry in the province..has been built on it”. It was indeed a solid foundation and, 21 years on, the results are now being tasted and acclaimed near and far.


Colour in this example is a light gold with green tints. The white fruit aromas are intense and gorgeous. And then there is the unmistakable tingle of the Albarino, fresh and fruity and yet so dry, all followed by a long reverberating finish. Very Highly Recommended.






Piantaferro Primitivo Di Manduria (DOC) 2012, 14%, €13.99 SuperValu

Greeting here is an aroma of dark fruits, plums mainly. Fruit flavours are quite concentrated and there is some spice, maybe a touch of liquorice and a silky input of tannin. Overall it is quite rich with a long finish. Well made, well balanced and Highly Recommended.

Primitivo, genetically similar to California's Zinfandel, has emerged as “the most consumer-friendly grape” of Puglia, the heel of Italy. Could be a handy one to have around when grilling on the BBQ this summer, even if you may have to eat indoors!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fish & Wine on the Double. Recipes from the Lettercollum Cookbook

Fish & Wine on the Double

Recipes from the Lettercollum Cookbook
Grilled Cod

Dipped into the fish section of the newly published Lettercollum Cookbook  twice over the weekend and came up with two beauties! And matched them with two lovely white wines from Supervalu.

Enjoyed the Moncrieff Show from the Midleton Distillery on Friday afternoon; no shortage of whiskey and tasty canapes, even wine. Still, ever mindful of the next meal, our first call on the way out was to the Ballycotton Seafood shop on main street and here we bought some scallops and cod.

The scallops, an impulse purchase,  were done this time, not with bacon, but with black pudding. The black pudding was really good but a bit on the strong side for the shell fish and I think the Truly Irish bacon is a better match! 

The cod was deliberately bought for the Lettercollum Recipe: Grilled Cod with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Basil. It is the kind of dish we've made lots of times on holidays (easy to get the basic ingredients). Indeed, Karen Austin’s book says “this recipe is great in summer and very quick to make”. But the result, with the super fresh cod, was also excellent on the last Friday of November.

The wine:
Portico da Ria Albarino 2013, Rias Baixas (Spain), 12.5%, €10.00 SuperValu.
With its light gold colour and fresh aromas, you get to like this one immediately. Fresh and fruity, it is quite intense on the palate, lively and lovely, and with an ample finish. It is the perfect match for simple fish dishes, including this one and the one below. Very Highly Recommended. Lovely label too! Rias Baixas is an area in North West Spain, around the Atlantic city of Vigo. Albarino is its dominant grape, also the easiest to pronounce!
Suquet de Peix. Tasty in any language!
Fish Two
We were soon back in Midleton, this time for the Saturday Farmers Market and joined the queue at O’Driscoll’s Fish stall, again shopping for a Lettercollum recipe, this time the Suquet de Peix, better known around here as Catalan Fish Stew!

We got a bag of fish bones from O’Driscoll’s to make the fish stock and also Monkfish (you may also use Hake) and mussels, the other main ingredients. Onions, red peppers, garlic, waxy potatoes and tomatoes, even a drop of brandy, also feature in this very tasty dish.

Karen says they first came across it in Cadaques on the Costa Brava, the town where Salvador Dali lived for most of his adult life. “Essentially, it’s a one pot dinner but a great dish for entertaining as the basic stew can be made and then left aside until the guests arrive when you can reheat the stew and pop the fish in. It is served with a parsley and almond picada - a sauce similar to a pesto”.

It turned out very well, thanks to the chef de cuisine here.


The wine
Macon Lugny Les Coteaux des Anges 2013 (Burgundy), 13.0%, €10.00 Supervalu.


This is an excellent Chardonnay from the home of the variety. There is even a village called Chardonnay, not too far from Lugny. Like Rias Baixas, most production here, in the Mâconnais part of Burgundy, is on a small scale. Again, the match was a good one and the wine is highly recommended, especially at the discounted Christmas price.


Colour is a light honey, really bright, and the white fruit aromas hint at peaches, nectarines, apples, a little citrus too. No shortage of inviting flavour on the palate, concentrated fruit, crisp but with a good weight and a long finish.

The Book
The Lettercollum Cookbook, by Karen Austin, is widely available in bookshops nationwide (including Waterstones and Bradley's) and in the UK . Great too that it is printed in Ireland by KPS Colour Print. It is published by Onstream in Cork and available online here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tapas at Skibbereen’s Riverside Café


Spanish delights in Skibbereen evening sun
Albarino, almost same colour as the olive oil behind
Having spent a day in the West Cork sun last Saturday, and having walked every step in the exhilarating MizenHead experience, I was looking forward to dinner in Majella O’Neill’s Riverside Café in Skibbereen.

Had checked out the fish specials and thought they were just what were wanted. But there was a change of plan on entry to this lovely restaurant. The lady looking after us was from Galicia and so too was the chef. We noticed the Tapas Tasting menu on a board and went for it.
Seafood Bon Bon
We were seated close to the windows with a nice view over the River Ilen. Indeed if the weather had been a degree or two warmer we’d have been sitting at an outside table. Still we enjoyed the sun inside and indeed there were times when we could have done with the sun glasses. All very Spanish as we waited for the tapas.

But first a decision had to be made on the wine. The French and Italian were on a loser here and we choose the Atlantik Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain (of course), and priced at seven euro a glass. I liked their description: While it may slake the thirst of many a Camino pilgrim, this Albarino is far from penitential. Really enjoyed it and it had an outstanding colour almost as gold as the olive oil alongside it (see photo).

Duck Pate
We were to enjoy four tapas on the Tasting Menu that cost €18.50. First up was a Sea Food Bon Bon, served in two little shot glasses with a garlic and olive oil mix. A great mix of flavours and we were on our way to the North West of Spain.
Pig's cheek
Our second plate saw the arrival of their Homemade Duck Liver Parfait, served with salad, caramelised red onions and crostinis. That didn't last long either!

Pig’s cheek is making a comeback in these parts and we were about to get the Galician version: Pork Cheek Confit, Truffle mashed potato, Savoy Cabbage, carrot chutney and Port salsa. Pig’s head with spuds and cabbage in other words. In one word: gorgeous! In two words: super tasty.
Lamb
And the best was yet to come: Roast Rump (had lump down first!) of Lamb, served with aubergine Zaalouk and sauce of red peppers. Superb stuff indeed.
Lemon Pudding
And still room for dessert (not included in the tapas menu). We each went for the Lemon Pudding, served with chocolate cigars and meringue (€6.00). Delighted with that too and finished off with a pot of loose leaf Earl Grey before stepping out into the sunshine and a long enough walk to the car. If you do book the Riverside (and I recommend that you do visit), remember that Saturday is mass night in Skibb and, with the church very close to the Riverside, all the nearby parking will be taken.

*By the way, the Riverside is a great supporter of local produce. “Our list of suppliers changes with supply and demand but among our regular sources of products are:
Ballyburden Meats, Busby Strawberries, Caherbeg Freerange Pork, Carbery Milk Products, Clona Milk Products, Cork Coffee Roasters, John and Mary Cronin Feirm Ur Milk & Yogurt, Durrus Cheese, GlenIlen, Gubbeen Smoke House, House of Tea ,Independent Irish Healthfoods, Lorge Chocolatier , Milsean Artisan Chocolatiers , Pandora Bell, Seafood Cuisine, Shannonvale Chicken, Skeaghnore Duck, Thornhill Organic Farm,,Valleyview Freerange Eggs, Woodcock Smokery.."






Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FIVE STAR FISH DISH IN MALTHOUSE


COSTELLOE’S MALTHOUSE

Liked the Malthouse in Clonakilty from the off. It is warm and cosy and comfortable, the lights not too bright. We got a nice window seat and the service, from start to finish, was friendly and top class. And it was a pleasure too to meet Amanda Costelloe herself and enjoy a short chat.

After a rather substantial lunch earlier, we skipped the starters and both went for fish dishes. The fish comes from nearby Union Hall while virtually everything else comes from the nearby farms.

Have great memories of eating Pollock, that we’d caught ourselves, in Mayo and so I picked the Fillet of local Pollock, served with Pea Risotto, Lime Butter and Tomato salsa (€16.50).
CL choose the Oven baked Hake, served with Mango and Red Pepper salsa and lemon Butter Sauce (€19.50).

We really felt that we’d hit the jackpot here. The fish was beautiful and fresh and the combinations were spot-on.  Just gorgeous.  And we also got side dishes of well cooked vegetables.

And they had just the wine to go with them: a really refreshing fruity bottle of Burcan’s Albarino (€29.00). They have quite a decent wine list and the good thing is that many of them are available by the glass or by the 50cl carafe.

Choices galore too on the menu side with an Evening Menu (with specials), the Taste of West Cork Menu (at a good price!), a Children’s Menu and others, such as a Party Menu. Certainly worth a try if you are in the area but make sure you book in advance, especially at weekends.

They are open for lunch and accommodation deals are also available and you may check it all out here

Friday, August 19, 2011

FROM TUSCANY WITH LOVE, SPAIN TOO!


Tuscany

It may be summer time but "The Boys" at www.fromvineyardsdirect.ie are always on the lookout and  and they have come up with two mouth watering surprises whilst you wait for the Burren House Wine Tasting list:

I.            A SUPER TOSCAN AT A PRICE DEFYING ALL COMPETITION:

The grape varieties used to produce this wine are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese.
Bolgheri, because of its closeness to the sea, has a more temperate microclimate than in the Tuscan hills, meaning that Bordeaux grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot thrive.  From the 60s onwards innovative producers such the Antinori family experimented with these grapes, in this region, and the “Super Tuscans” were born:  red wines that do not adhere to the traditional blending laws.  Today Pietro Catelli follows this modern tradition! 


Appelation: IGT Toscana Alcohol: 13.5%

1-2 Cases €143.40 / €11.95 per bottle
3+ Cases €131.40 / €10.95 per bottle

II.           AND THE FRESHEST AND MOST SOPHISTICATED OF ALBARIñOS:


 A fine example of Spain's top white grape variety made by Castro Baroña in the heart of Salnés, probably the best region for producing the extremely fashionable Albariño grapes. Albariño produces some of Spain’s most elegant and expensive whites and this is one of the best we've tasted.  This is a delightfully fresh wine, best drunk over the next couple of years whilst it is young. It pairs beautifully with goats cheese, or, as the Galicians do, with Gambas Pil-Pil and other shellfish. It is also delicious just on its own

Tasting Notes: Pale lemon colour, aromas of peaches and tropical white fruit.  Full, expressive with lush fruit aromas bursting from the glass and nicely balanced acidity. 

1-2 Cases €155.40 / €12.95 per bottle
3+ Cases €150.00 / €12.50 per bottle