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Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild
This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.
This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.
Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.
Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines
Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.
Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau
No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.
The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Three Classy Reds
Don't judge a book by the cover. The plain label on the Gamay could well lead you to believe this is a bottom shelf wine whereas it is anything but. Perhaps, especially if you bought bottom shelf Moroccan wines on French holidays years ago, you wouldn't be expecting a great deal from the Volubilia but it is a lovely surprise. And no surprise really with the Italian. You'd expect this to be good and it is very good indeed.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf Gamay 2015, Vin de France, 12%, €18.85 Le Caveau
Light red, fairly typical of the grape, is the colour of this natural beauty. The aromas are of strawberries and raspberries. On the vibrant palate, you'll find the same mix of fruit flavours, with a light tang of cider apples; it is light and fresh and smooth for sure, fine tannins and then a long finish.
The two Puzelat brothers, regarded, by Jamie Goode, as “natural wine royalty”, mature this for 4-6 months in large wooden vats. The organic grapes are bought in from trusted local winegrowers in the Loire. “The wines are quite unique, highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have a very strong personality.” That lively personality is very evident, pleasingly so, in this example and it is Very Highly Recommended. By the way, it is neither filtered nor fined, so do decant!
La Zouina Volubilia Classic Red, Morocco 2012, 13.5%, €22.95 Le Caveau
This is a relatively new French run chateau. Bordeaux know-how plus freedom to experiment has helped produce this excellent result from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Syrah, Mourvedre, and Tempranillo.
Colour is medium red. And the aromas include warm blackcurrant. It is medium bodied, smooth and fresh, well endowed with concentrated berry flavours, medium spice, fine tannins. It is well balanced with a long and juicy finish. A surprise from Africa and Very Highly Recommended.
Ascheri Coste & Bricco Barolo (DOCG) 2010, 14.5%, €47.00 (down to 30 in recent Fine Wine sale) O’Brien Wines
No surprise that this one was good as I had tasted it at the O’Brien Wine Fair in Cork. Nebbiolo is the grape here. Made from two select plots from Ascheri’s single vineyard, this is their top cuvée.
The wine has spent 26 months in Slavonian barrels, six months in steel and a further nine in bottle before release. According to Grapes & Wines, Italian Nebbiolo ages better than those of California and Australia. And indeed the producers reckon this will last for 18 to 20 years if kept in a cool dark place.
I couldn't wait that long to tuck into this garnet coloured wine. Small red fruits feature in the aromas, also some herbal hints. It has a palate full of rich flavours, spice too and an acidity that helps put all in harmony. This elegant and inviting wine is Very Highly Recommended.
They, Ascheri, recommended matching it with hard mature cheese, pheasant, pigeon, roast lamb and beef, Mediterranean vegetables. I've tried and tested it here with Parmesan and Walnut crusted rack of lamb with roasted vegetables, the lamb bought at our local craft butchers, Davidson’s of Montenotte, Cork.
Monday, November 28, 2016
A Hat Trick of Quality Reds
Iniza 4 Cepas 2009, Vino de la Tierra Laujar-Alpujarra, 14%, €18.30 Le Caveau
Here’s a pleasant surprise for me, for you. Made organically by Bodega el Cortijo in the Almeria region of Spain, where summer days are hot and the nights cool, this was an unexpected beauty, an Almerian ambush of the most pleasant kind. It is a blend as you’ve probably guessed from the name and the four grapes are Tempranillo (30%), Syrah (40), Merlot (20) and Petit Verdot (10).
Colour is a dark red and the aromas are of red and darker fruits, spices too. It is full bodied, full flavoured, spice again, fine tannins, a lovely balancing acidity and long finish. An excellent wine and Very Highly Recommended. Great value too.
Quinta do Penedo Tinto 2010, DAO (DOC) Portugal, 12%, €17,25 Karwig Wines
Grown on granite soil that helps produce fresh and mineral wine, this is a good one. The blend is Touriga Nacional (70%) and the deep coloured Alfrocheiro. Foot-treading is employed before the wine is aged in used French and US oak barrels.
Deep ruby is the colour and the aromas speak of ripe dark fruits with slight spices notes there too. There is excellent acidity in this fresh well-balanced medium-bodied wine. Tannins are ripe and the finalé is soft and lingering. Highly Recommended. Possible food pairings: red meats, liver, salami and game.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (South Australia) 2014, 13.5%, widely available c. €13.00, €14.00
This wine is part of a rugby (union) linked promotional drive to mark the winery’s 50th anniversary. A message under the cap tells instantly if you’ve won a prize such as a Rugby Capital Weekend. Of course, you also get instant confirmation if you’ve lost! That was my fate and I felt the ball had fallen off the tee even before I got my kick away. Ah well, better luck next time I “chase the cap”.
The winery has long been producing very good wines under the Yellow Label, ten varieties in all, all meant to be “bright fruit-driven and full of flavours” and they certainly hit the target with this one which is Highly Recommended.
This dark red has ripe fruits (Cassis mainly) in the aromas. It is full of luscious dark fruit flavours but very well balanced. Some oak has been used in the maturation but it has been nicely judged, the effect subtle. Fine tannins and sufficient acidity to make it a good food wine - steak recommended!
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Saturday is Cabernet Day
|Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the Margaux appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”|
The related Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon, celebrate their day this coming Saturday (September 3rd).
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most famous red wine grape. It is highly adaptable, will grow in different climates and soils. So expect good quality examples from many countries, especially from France (mainly Bordeaux), USA (California), Australia (below) and Chile (Cono Sur’s Silencio is a prime example, if an expensive one). Good Cabernet Sauvignon can pop in from anywhere, including from Craggy Range in New Zealand and Ernie Els in South Africa.
It is also a very well-known variety so its name on a bottle means that the customer has a familiarity with it and that gives the marketing people an immediate edge. No wonder it sells well in so many countries.
But you still have to be careful. It is a high-yielding vine and that means producers can go for quantity over quality! So the words Cabernet Sauvignon on the label are not a guarantee of a good bottle. The two below though are good!
Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux and is grown all around the region, invariably blended (though there is no universal formula for the mix). Regular blend partners are Merlot and Cabernet Franc and sometimes a little Petit Verdot is added.
DNA profiling (should we all get it done? Maybe not!) has confirmed Cabernet Franc is the daddy of Cabernet Sauvignon and that Sauvignon Blanc is the mammy.
Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Victoria (AUS), 13.5%, €18.25 Wines Direct
For decades now, Australian has been associated with top class Cabernet Sauvignon. Margaret River in the west has outstanding examples. Our excellent example comes from the east, from the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria, one of the nation’s premier viticultural areas. Since 2012, Tahbilk Winery has been certified Carbon Neutral.
Nothing neutral about this violet beauty though. Blackcurrants, and some spice, feature in the pleasant aromas. Some serious flavours on a well rounded palate, tannins are fine and the finish is good. A excellent example indeed and Very Highly Recommended.
Lalaurie T’Wines Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah, Pays d’Oc (IGT), 2015, 13.5%, €11.75 Wines Direct
Once upon a time, according to Grapes and Wine (2015), the classic Bordeaux blend included Syrah. This blend is very popular nowadays in Australia but the one we’ve got comes from much nearer home, from the Languedoc.
Bit wary of these funny wine names, this one coming because the two leading women in the winery are twins (and one is a marketing expert!). But I needn’t have worried. This is a very engaging wine and good value to boot.
It has a bright ruby colour and the aromas are mainly of blackcurrant. It is very approachable, medium bodied, well balanced between fruit and acidity, minimum tannin presence. Not the longest but a decent finish nonetheless. Easy drinking and easy to Recommend!
Thursday, August 25, 2016
A Superb French Chardonnay.
And Meet Karwig’s Italians
Château Martinolles Chardonnay Limoux (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €19.65 Karwig Wines
A superb wine from an intriguing historical Languedoc area. The Saint-Hilaire monastery actually used to adjoin the property, and it was there in 1531, that the method for making sparkling wines was discovered.
The fruit, one hundred per cent Chardonnay, is hand-harvested from old vines and is aged for 9 months in oak barrels (one-third new and two-thirds aged), a mixture of French and American oak. It is light gold in colour and you should find white fruits (quince and particularly lime) in the aromas. It is very impressive on the palate, intense in flavour and with a balancing acidity, elegant with a long finalé. A very pleasant surprise indeed and Very Highly Recommended.
Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2013, 13%, €23.50 Karwig Wines
This a bright ruby from the organic vineyards of Selvapiana. Ripe red fruits in the aromas. On the palate, it is vibrant, ripe and juicy, some spice too, tannins just about in play, a refreshing acidity. It is medium to full bodied, rather elegant, lively and long, rather moreish and Highly Recommended. Try it with pasta, steak and pork chops.
Rufina is one of the sub zones of Chianti. The usual advice is to buy your Chianti from Chianti Classico, the name given to wines from the original historic boundaries. But Wine Folly writes: Both Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina are likely to be of higher quality, since they are made in smaller quantities from distinct historical areas. This Rufina certainly underlines that point.
Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino, Terre di Chieti (IGT) 2015, 13%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
Okay. I haven't lost my marbles! I am talking about a wine, not the famous sheep's cheese of Italy. The Pecorino grape is so called because a bunch resembles a sheep’s head. That’s the winery's story. Another is that the bunches are a favourite treat for the sheep. Wine-Searcher.com says: Pecorino cheese is, coincidentally, a surprisingly good food match for Pecorino wine.
Making wine from native vines is a “point of pride” for Caldora. This hilltop vineyard overlooks a beach (Lido Riccio); on the summer nights, the fresh sea breeze allows a thermal range “fundamental for the complex aromatic structure of the wine”.
Color is quite a light straw yellow. White fruit aromas, herbal hints too, even a slight whiff of liquorice; fresh and crisp, dry and minerally, with excellent acidity and a persistent finish. Recommended.
Conte Loredan Gasparini Cabernet Sauvignon, Montello E Colli Asolani (DOC) 2014, 13%, €17.25, Karwig Wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted vine in the area of Montello, a small hill 30 miles north of Venice. Half of this is aged in big oak barrels, half in stainless steel.
The colour is purple, deep and dark and there are blackcurrant aromas with hints of herb. Straight away on the palate you'll notice its freshness, its fruit flavours and then that lovely acidity (food is a welcome accompaniment here!). Tannins are fine and the finish is lengthy. This warm and soft wine is Highly Recommended.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
In Margaux Once.Must call again!
The vineyards of Margaux, on the south bank of the Garonne estuary (many Irish holidaymakers will know Royan on the opposite bank), grow mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The classic blend is always a combination of these two “majors” and sometimes a little of Cabernet Franc, maybe some Petit Verdot, more rarely Malbec and other old varieties.
According to the Maison du Vin de Margaux, where I bought the bottles below (along with some more!), Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”
Merlot brings roundness, generosity and complexity to the aromas. Cabernet Franc, much rarer, brings an extra touch of of elegance and suppleness while Petit Verdot produces wines “that are fairly rich in colour, fruit and tannins”.
The vines and the soil all play a part in making a Margaux and so does the climate of each year. “This variability, known as the effet millésime (vintage effect), is at the origin of variations in wines’ quality and expression.”
The variables will test the expertise of the winemaker who also has to contend with different harvest times for the different grapes. Merlot is first, then comes Cabernet Franc followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and then the Petit Verdot.
Take good care of your Margaux wines. They recommend “to open them one or two hours before service and present them in a nice carafe or decanter. Perfect service temperature is 19 degrees. Their finesse and subtlety show themselves in accompaniment with red meats or cheeses with delicate aromas”. Margaux wines are widely available in Ireland. Enjoy!
|Some of my 2014 purchases|
Chateau La Galiane 2009, 13.5%, 16.50 in Margaux
Gorgeous intense dark fruit aromas. Then there are rich fruit flavours, with a wee bit of spice, ripe tannins, and good balance. All in all, a classic well rounded Bordeaux with good structure and no little finesse, a lovely blend in which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the major grapes.
Chateau La Tour De Bessan Crus Bourgeois 2011, 13%, 20.30 in Margaux
Even more intense wave of aromas, slightly different to the Galiane. It is rich and complex, full bodied and, again, ripe tannins. Great flavours of red fruits in this smooth Cru Bourgeois. The blend here is Merlot (62%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (38%). A marginally better wine than the Galiane. It has spent 12 months in French oak and the average age of the vines is 25 years.
Labastide Dauzac 2008, 13%, €23.00 in Margaux
Garnet is the colour, the aromas full and harmonious. This is full-bodied, red fruits, some spice too, pleasant and smooth on the palate, and with a long finish. Again the classic blend of Merlot (57%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (43%) and Very Highly Recommended.
This is the second wine of Dauzac, made from younger vines. It has spent 12 months in oak (not all new) and, if I had to pick one from the three, this would be it.
|Take your pick!|
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Wines by Aresti
Some of Chile’s Best
Jon Usabiaga, winemaker at Aresti in Chile, is highly regarded by his fellow wine-makers. He was in Cork late last year and I met him at the Hayfield. “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”.
I reckon he got it right with the two wines below. Makes me want to try a few more from Aresti, including the Trisquel Assemblage, the Trisquel Syrah and the Family Collection.
|Jon (right) and Yours Truly|
Aresti Trisquel Sauvignon blanc 2013 (Leyda Valley, Chile), 13%, €13.00, was 15.95, SuperValu
Colour here is a medium gold and it is quite aromatic, fairly typical of the variety, with vegetal and herbal notes. Flavours are certainly intense, it is fresh and very well balanced, with a long dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Aresti Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010, 13.5%, SuperValu
Some serious sniffing here or, at least, some serious rewards as beautiful fruity aromas greet you. In the mouth, you'll note that delicious blackcurrant, also a gentle drift of spice, an imposing character, the smoothest of tannins. There is an excellent balance and the finish is a match for all that has gone before. Another superb wine and again Very Highly Recommended.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Cat Walk Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Barossa (Australia), 14.5%, €16.99 RRP, stockists countrywide.
Rosedale Wines reckon they’ve put the cat among the pigeons in the Barossa with their innovative approach to wine-making and there are lots of cat words as the Aussies try to lighten up the back label. They leave the serious bit for inside the bottle.
And it is a serious wine. But a very friendly one also. You won't need a technical manual to negotiate your way through, just a glass. You won't even need a corkscrew as this has a screw cap closure.
Perhaps you should note these numbers. The alcohol is 14.5% and the price is €16.99. But I’m sure you’ve handled an ABV as high before and I can assure you it is excellent value for the price.
This highly rated beauty, one of the most inviting Cabernet Sauvignons I’ve come across in recent years, is a deep vibrant red. It is berry good on the nose, all the blacks and blues, and it has an intense palate. The full on fruit is well matched by the unobtrusive tannins and there is pleasant spice from the oak in which it has been aged for 10 months. You may well find other notes in the flavour too, plum in the fruit for instance, but I think that is enough of the technical.
Turn that cap (to the right!) and pour. Lucky you!