Showing posts with label Findlaters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Findlaters. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Exciting New Wines on Findlater List

Exciting New Wines on Findlater List

There is a freshening up going on the wine list of Findlater's and the man responsible for sourcing the new wines is Master of Wine Mick O’Connell. He was in Cork at the weekend and had a bunch of the new ones with him for a well-attended tasting in Bradley’s, Cork’s specialist off-licence and food-store. So new tastes at Bradley’s (established 1850) courtesy of Findlater's (established 1823). Oldies but goldies!

The off licence was packed as the punters queued up to taste. I didn't get through them all - Culture Night beckoned - but enjoyed the Grand Bateau wines and also the Aplanta. The Roqueterre though seemed to be the overall favourite and over the past few days I had the chance to sample that and the Assyrtiko from Crete.

Lyrarakis Vóila Assyrtiko Crete (Greece) 2016, 13.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork
The Vóila plain and indeed adjacent areas in the east of Crete are regarded as ideal for  Assyrtiko.  “Our family discovered the quality potential of East Crete since the 70's. Originally on the “Vóila” plain and subsequently in the extended surroundings, we discover exceptional vineyards where the great grape variety thrives.” Quality is also helped by the hand-harvest “seeking to obtain a “proper fruit maturity”.

Decanter gave this lovely wine no less than 91 points. The producers recommend serving it at 12-14 degrees and pairing it with “all seafood, grilled fish as well as white meat cooked with lemon”.

It has a lovely gold colour and delicate aromas of white fruit. The ripe grapes contribute to rich fruit flavours and a good texture. There is though a matching acidity to balance and a very long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended.

Roqueterre Reserve Carignan Vieilles Vignes Pays d’Herault (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork


This dark red wine, made by Marilyn Lasserie, was “flying out the door” during Findlater’s Culture Night Tasting in Bradley’s. Not surprised as it is an excellent well-priced wine and one of a host of new ones introduced to the catalogue by Mick O’Connell MW, our host on the night along with Adrian McAleer.

Aromas of the dark fruit kind, with a good share of spice, introduce the wine, made of Carignan, the grape described on the label as “a forgotten treasure” of the Languedoc area. Reserve is produced from low-yielding vines, some of which are over 60 years old.

Dark fruit flavours follow through to the warm palate, smooth silky tannins there too and a long and uplifting finish. A pleasant wine indeed and Highly Recommended.

Other new wines available for tasting on the night were:
Passage du Sud Sauvignon Blanc (South of France);
Grand Bateau Bordeaux white;
Bijou Rosé Cabrieres (France);
Aplanta, Alentejo (Portugal);
Grand Bateau red Bordeaux;
Clous Puy Arnaud Bordeaux.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Chock-a-block City. Culture Night 2017

Chock-a-block City

Culture Night 2017
Isabelle busy at On the Pig's Back
Progress is slow as we enter the English Market on Culture Night. Little by little, it becomes clear that there are two lines in the packed old building, one going one way, another going the other way, both going slow! But you want to turn? No bother. Crowds yes, but courtesy abounds. A smile and then a gap and you’re on your way.
Tim and Jack McCarthy

On our way to a plate of local food. Eat it a counter or from the top of a cask. Eat it with strangers, from Cong, from Conna, from Congo. Who knows? Who cares? The music plays. The conversations start, flow on, on the food, the new baby, the dog, the new house, the turkey sexer (yes, that came up too).
Metropole sushi
Time to move on. Like the Arc-de-Triomphe roundabout, it is easier to get out than in, particularly if you're not too pushed where you exit. We weren't. Where next? There a gang of steel drummers playing by Brown & Thomas, a circus in North Main Street.
Justin introduces his Bertha's Revenge to
Cllr Des Cahill, ex Lord Mayor
We had been in North Main Street earlier, at a very well attended wine tasting in Bradley’s. Music outside the door there too. Master of Wine Mick O’Connell was conducting the tasting on behalf of Findlater's, introducing new wines he has sourced for them. Some gems there, from Portugal and Crete and Bordeaux, though it looks as if the Roqueterre Reservé Carignan 2016 from the Languedoc was “flying out the door”.
Jamie of Haven Shellfish at the Met
Superb stop in Nash 19 in Prince's Street where our generous host was, as ever, Claire Nash. She had some of her local producers lined up. Rupert was there with his cool cider and warm apple brandy from Longueville House while Justin Green was tasting his amazing Bertha’s Revenge gin.


That same gin had been used by Jack and Tim McCarthy from Kanturk in their sausages (no shortage of those!) and of course you couldn't leave without tasting the black pudding. 
Thumbs up from Tim Mulcahy of the Chicken Inn
And great too to meet Jane from Ardsallagh. Lots of new things going on there including her Feta style cheese and also her delicious creamy ash covered pyramid. She also had a selection of cheeses combined with a layer of chutney - the mango is superb. Watch out for these in SuperValu soon.
Market queue

The evening had started for us with a visit to the lobby of the Metropole Hotel where another superb host, Sandra Murphy, welcomed the guests, including Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald. Haven had their delicious oysters both raw (with a tasty salsa) and cooked and the hotel laid on some excellent sushi. And of course, there was a glass of bubbles on hand as well, wine and Murphy’s Stout too.

After that it was out onto the street to join the good humoured crowds making their way on foot and on bus to the many events all over the city. What a night!
Market Music



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. A Short List Of Favourites!



Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. 
A Short List Of Favourites!

With a little help from the recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine, we have been tasting our way through quite a few wines from the peninsula and its islands. Such a range of terroirs, such a range of wines from the cool foothills of the Alps to the heat of Puglia out to the hot islands with their cooling breezes. You won't find the very expensive classics here but I think the selection below contains some excellent wines at reasonable prices. And they all are readily available in Ireland. Just click on the links for review, supplier and price details and don't forget to come back here. Enjoy.


Red
Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015
Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012
La Vigne di Sammarco Salice Salentino (DOP) 2014
La Vigne di Sammarco Primitivo di Manduria (DOP) 2015
Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012
Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG)
Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013
Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009

Orange
La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011


White
Pighin Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli (DOC) 2015
Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013
Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%
Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015
Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015
Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015
Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012

Dessert
Masi Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (DOC) 2012

Context: The Modern History of Italian Wine

 See the posts from the Italian series:

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s


Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s
Three very young oils

Bradley’s of North Main Street, Cork, are well known for their selection of fine wines. And, where there’s wine, there’s olive oil. Indeed, quite a few of the oils available here are made by top wine-makers including a few from Tuscany and Spain’s Torres.

Speaking of Tuscany, a wine and olive oil producer there once told me that the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked grapes. In his place, it was done in the cool of the night as the Olive Press was too hot during the day, which it was. I tried it and you could hardly stand there for a minute.

He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that the oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.




Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows. 

The one in 1985 was a disaster. The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took all of ten years to get a good crop again. So the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event. It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and they always cook with good oil. 

Fontodi Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a richly coloured oil from Tuscany, very delicately balanced. Fine aromas of artichoke leaf and an elegant peppery flavour come together in a fragrant lingering finish. The organically raised olives are picked by hand and carefully pressed the same day in order
to keep the fragrance. Read more here.  


The River Cafe I Canonici 2016 EVOO: also from Tuscany, this is an almost luminous green in its youth (as many of them are!); this bright oil is fragrant and very spicy with lovely fresh grass and green olive characters. Clean and bright it has tremendous depth of flavour right through to the long peppery finish.


Capazzana 2016: Organic and another Tuscan. Quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.




Alpha Zeta 2015 EVOO: Golden-green in colour with a light delicate perfume of fresh grass and ripe olives. Light and delicate on the palate with a fresh grassy taste, medium body and a smooth ripe finish. Excellent for drizzling over more delicate dishes. This comes from the hills outside Verona where cool breezes come down from the Dolomites.

Torres Silencio: Sourced from the estate of Los Desterrados in Lleida, Catalonia, from centuries-old Arbequina olive trees. The olives are harvested and cold-pressed on the same day, and only the oil from the first pressing is used. The resulting extra virgin olive oil is rounded and well balanced with aromas of artichoke, unripened almonds and fresh-cut grass. And Miguel A. Torres Senior requests it at every meal when travelling (where available). 

West Cork Olives: Bradley’s also carry oils marketed by West Cork Olives and imported from Spain and Greece. I haven’t had a chance to sample these yet.


Suggestions On Olive Oil In Cooking

1 - How about delicious Pumpkin and Farro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and a good oil?

2 - A lovely plateful of local scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread (with oil on it) with these two dishes. 

3 - Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with red wine (Italian or Spanish!), thyme, garlic and black pepper, served with braised winter greens and an olive oil potato mash.  

If you prefer fish why not try this Fenn’s Quay dish that I came across a few years back: Grilled plaice, with braised leeks, olive oil crushed potatoes and onion puree. The first three dishes were served at an olive oil tasting in Ballymaloe.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sweet favourite of the Romans. Still Going Strong!

Sweet favourite of the Romans. 
Still Going Strong! 

Masi Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (DOC) 2012, 14%, €24.95 (35cl) Bradley’s

This is something special, once a favourite of the ancient Romans. 

According to Hugh Johnson, it “is the most historic of all Italian wines…. sumptuous..cherry chocolate…sweet fruitiness.”

It is produced by Masi, “one of the great entrepreneurs of Italian wine,” according to The Modern History of Italian Wine.

Masi are well known for using techniques that enhance the flavour and concentration of their wines and Recioto is one such. 

Recioto is made by arresting the fermentation.. so that some residual sugar remains, according to Vino Italiano. “With all that sugar, the extract, and the alcohol, a Recioto can be almost overwhelming in its intensity…. a meal in itself… It is still one of the great wines of Verona, an answer to Port.”

You will need patience to see that answer though. The bottle below is from 2012, so the style is sweet and fruity. Towards the end of its recommended 20 years, it becomes similar to Port.

It is a blend of three well-known grapes in the area: Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. Moderate barrel ageing helps achieve balance. 

Colour is a dense ruby red.  Cooked cherries and fruits preserved in spirits are given as the aromas. Haven't done either, so I'll take their word for it! On the classy palate you notice that lovely balance of fruit, sweetness and acidity. And then the long finish. Nowhere near as heavy as some well-known sweet wines, not a hint of cloying, and Very Highly Recommended.


See also (from my current Italian mini-series):
In the Heart of Chianti

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wines of Italy's Marche. Carminucci Family impress with this set

Wines of Italy's Marche
Carminucci Family impress with this set

The Marche (pronounced Mar-kay) is a long narrowish region on the east of Italy, between the Adriatic and the Apennines. The main cities are Pesaro in the north, Ascoli in the south and Ancona in between. It has an ancient wine-making tradition and its warm and cool viticultural zones mean a variety of produce.

Verdicchio is, by far, the main white grape of the area, with highly regarded wines coming from Castelli di Jesi and Matelica. But “there’s a significant production of a crisp Trebbiano-based white in the south”, near Ascoli-Piceno, according to Vino Italiano, and this is where our family, Carminucci, comes from. 

Red wines here are “a softer version of Chianti” according to Vino Italiano, and they can also be “some of the best values around”. 

The World Atlas of Wine is of much the same opinion. "Rosso Piceno... generally with lower yields and judicious oaking, can be good value." Sangiovese and Montepulciano are the main red grapes.

The Carminucci family started making wine here in 1928 and Findlater’s have  introduced their wines to Ireland.  The five wines below come from the sub-regions of Falerio, Offida, Rosso Piceno, 

Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €15.95. Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork).
This is a fresh and fruity blend of Trebbiano, Passerina and Pecorino. Trebbiano is the backbone while the other two, each native varieties, boost the aromatic complexity. Crisp, tangy and refreshing.

Colour is a light straw, tints of green, micro-bubbles. Aromas are pleasant if modest, of almonds. There are refreshing fruity flavours with an immediate appeal, persistent from start to finish. And I'm not talking tasting portions here. This is not a wine to sip and abandon; it has second, even third, glass appeal! Good acidity too. Could possibly do with a bit more body, a tad more viscosity, but a very pleasant wine as is and Very Highly Recommended.

Carminucci Belato Offida (DOCG) Pecorino 2015, 12.5%, €16.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)
This is 100 per cent Pecorino. I am talking about a grape, not the famous sheep's cheese of Italy. The Pecorino grape is so called because a bunch resembles a sheep’s head. That’s one story. Another is that the bunches are a favourite treat for the sheep. In any case. it does well here in Offida.

Wine-Searcher.com says: Pecorino cheese is, coincidentally, a surprisingly good food match for Pecorino. I did try a previous one with the Pecorino from Toons Bridge and it certainly worked well. Brief details here

Colour of this Carminucci, a producer newly introduced by Findlater’s, is a pale straw, invitingly bright. Aromas are delicate and pleasant, of apple, pear and banana, some floral elements too. On the palate, it is full and rewarding, good depth of flavour and minerality; it is full bodied, dry and well balanced. A very pleasant mouthful indeed and Highly Recommended.

Winery tips: Serving temperature: 10-12 degrees; pair with
aperitifs, fresh cheese, white meat, fish.

Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013, 14%, €16.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)

As with the whites, the DOC for this red is in the south of the Marche region, close to Falerio, Offida and Rosso Conero. The blend is 30% Sangiovese and 70% Montepulciano. It has been matured for 12 months in 400 litre oak barrels.

It is a dark ruby red with a complex bouquet of the darker fruits (plum, cherry), hints of liquorice too. The first rich sip tells much. It is a lovely rounded wine, full of flavour, some moderate spice, with  a terrific balance, quite fine tannins and a persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Carminucci Grotte Sul Marc Falerio (DOC) 2015, 11.5%, €14.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)

Same three grapes but a different vineyard to the Naumakos, lower ABV also. Light straw colour, tints of green. Pleasant aromas of fruit (apple, pear), plus floral notes also.

After the introductory tingle, the fruity freshness (grapefruit now added to the mix) continues; it is dry, fresh yes, and well balanced. Good acidity too (they recommended trying it with fish) and a pleasant and persistent finalé. Highly Recommended.

Carminucci Grotte Sul Marc Rosso Piceno (DOC) 2015, 13%, €16.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)

This Grotte Sul Marc line underscores “our link with this territory… the Grottammore hill zone”. It is a blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano and no oak has been used in this one. You are advised to “use all through the meal, with delicatessen products, cheese, and roast meats”.


Ruby red is the colour. There are cherry aromas. On the palate it feels smooth, with rounded red fruit flavours, slight spice and altogether a rather lovely wine, dry and soft and with a good finish. Enough acidity to keep it welcome at the table. Highly Recommended.

See also from current Italian series: 
Fontanafredda. Important Player in Italian Wine
Two Amazing Whites from Italy.
In the Heart of Chianti
From the Islands

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting. Classics and New Wave Impress

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting
Classics and New Wave Impress
I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended!


Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA, said:  We hope this new section adds an extra dimension to this year’s event. Having looked at the nominations, these wines really do highlight the diversity of Australian wine and reinforce the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer.” 

The promise, and it was kept, was that “great classic wines from the likes of Cullen, Clonakilla and Bindi will be on show, plus new-wave artisans like Jauma, Ochota Barrels and Gentle Folk”.  

So the signs were good as I arrived at the Royal Hibernian Academy and sought out the Focus Table. And I made a sparkling start with the House of Arras ‘EJ Carr Late Disgorged’ Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003. Fresh and vibrant, an amazing sparkling wine.

Then followed a string of young Rieslings, including the Josef Chromy ‘SGR’ Tasmania Riesling 2016 with an ABV of just 7.5% and a delicious Skillogalee Clare Valley 2015 by Dave Palmer, “mineral, dry and crisp” as noted by Gavin Ryan from Kinsale’s Black Pig who selected it.

The Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon 2011  was superb, “intense and complex, but elegant and refreshing” noted Martin Moran. It was all good around here and the standard was maintained by the Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner, the grapes picked in the cold of the night to retain flavour and freshness.

Maximum drinkability and enjoyment is the aim of the producers of the Gentle Folk Forest Range Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015, the first of the reds and the first of Ballymaloe's Colm McCan’s selections for the table. I reckon the producers got it right as did Colm.

There were quite a few Syrah and Shiraz at this point, all very good including the Payton and Jones ‘Major Kong - Planet of the Grapes’, Yarra Valley 2015. My favourite though was the blend: De Bortoli ‘La Boheme Act Four’ Yarra Valley Syrah Gamay, imported by Febvre and a Liam Campbell pick. 

The Colm McCann selection, Jauma ‘Audrey’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, is produced biologically and intrigued with its “cider-y” notes.

Some excellent Grenache on the table too including Ochota Barrels ‘The Fugazi Vineyard’ McLaren Vale 2015, the Willunga 100 McLaren Vale 2015, and the Cirillo ‘1850 Ancestor Wine’ Barossa Valley 2011. The Cirillo was chosen by Ian Brosnan of Ely and he admitted that, until recently, he had never tasted Grenache of this quality.

And quality too, at a very good price, in Kevin O’Brien’s Kangarilla Road Terzetto, a McLaren Vale blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo. It is a favourite of mine, was chosen by Liam Campbell and is available at O’Brien Wines.

Perhaps the best blend of the lot came towards the end: the Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ Margaret River Cabernet Blend 2014, imported by Liberty Wines and nominated by Gavin Ryan who has fond memories of enjoying it at a full moon harvest party in Margaret River.

Time then for a chat at the Liberty Wines stand with Garry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates and a tasting of their sweet wines before heading into the general wine area.

Here we soon met up with Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines who import the Kelly’s Patch range to Ireland and we hope to link up in Cork soon and find out more about the company.

Having concentrated on the Focus Table we missed out on many stalls, including McGuigan where they were tasting the impressive Founder’s Series that I enjoyed in Kinsale a few months ago.

Hard to go wrong with the Deakin Estate and Katnook Wines that are imported by Findlater (and available in Cork in Bradley's and other outlets). 

Next time I'm up in North Main Street, I'll be looking at some of the Penfolds that Laura introduced me to at the Findlater’s stand. Both the Bin 2 South Australian Shiraz Mataro (that is what the Australians call Mourvedre) 2012 and the Bin 28 South Australian Shiraz 2011 impressed.

With Marcus (Liberty Wines)
Been writing this and wondering how the Australians get to name their wines. Heard a good story from Michael at the Lanchester Wines stand as we sampled the excellent ‘Don’t Tell Gary’, a McPherson Shiraz 2015 from the Strathbogie Ranges. 

This wine is a labour of love - one the accountants didn't know about.  In 2014, winemaker Jo Nash discovered an exceptional parcel of Shiraz from the Grampians which she gently crushed, then tucked away in some ridiculously expensive French oak barrels to age for 12 months.  

All the while, she was urging her fellow employees: “Don’t tell Gary”. No one did tell Gary, her boss. Now the wine speaks for itself - minimal intervention, purity of fruit, Shiraz at its best and Jo has been given free rein to investigate other possibilities in the vineyard!
John (left) and Michael at Lanchester Wines
See also earlier article on great selection of fortified sweet wines at the tasting here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dublin's Australian Day Tasting. The Red Wines. Shiraz Stars

Dublin's Australian Day Tasting
Part 2. The Red Wines. Shiraz Stars.
Shiraz. Wine Australia photo from 2016 vintage.
To see Part 1 (on the white wines, mainly), please click here

The diversity of Australian wines wasn't perhaps the most demanding of themes for the recent Australia Day Tasting in Dublin! There are some great choices already in Ireland and more coming our way, at all price levels. Australia has over sixty wine regions, so somewhere there is a terroir suitable for virtually every single grape variety and indeed almost all grape varieties are grown there; resulting wines can be single varietal or a blend.


We are moving on now to our second tour of the room in the Royal Hibernian Academy, the red route. All that after a chat with fellow wine scribe Richard Magnier who was enjoying the concentrated excellence available at the Focus Table for Chardonnay and Shiraz. Check Part 1 (the whites) here.


But before we get on to the well known Shiraz, I’d like to draw your attention to some less well known ones from Australia.  Wine Australia: “Winemakers and principals have been visiting the market throughout the year to promote the diversity of flavours and styles, regions and terroirs together with the food friendly, vibrant, evolving styles and emerging varieties.”


Food friendly and vibrant can easily be applied to the Merlot from Kelly’s Patch and shown by Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines. McGuigan’s too have a Merlot in their Black Label series as have Yellow Tail while Wolf Blass has a Malbec. Penfolds have a Mataro (Mourvedre to you and me).


And if you like your Chianti it's entirely possible you'll like the De Bortoli Bella Riva Sangiovese 2013, from the King Valley in Victoria. Not too many Pinot Noirs on show but I did enjoy the De Bortoli Windy Peak 2013 from the Yarra Valley, superb flavour and balance here, even it's their third label. 

Missed out on tasting one from Tasmania, an ideal area for the grape, but there was Tasmanian fruit (along with fruit from Victoria) in the excellent Hardy’s PRB Pinot Noir 2014.


No shortage of red wine blends in the tasting.  And one of the best was the Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (2012) from the Barossa, so well balanced, very quaffable indeed. All we were short was Jane Ferrari! Didn't quite get the same grá, at first sip, for the Peter Lehmann Clancy's Red (Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) - might need a second go!


And then, at the Findlaters table, there was 19 Crimes, named after the 19 listed crimes that made you a criminal in these parts and gave you a one way ticket to Australia. The “wine celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built”. 

And this intense flavoursome wine is quite a blend with Shiraz (57.1%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19.3%), Grenache (10%) and Merlot (6.4%) included. The Australians can blend a wine as good as any and can also tell the tales. Read about one of the “criminals” here, a Irish poet called John O’Reilly.


But tales and marketing can only bring you so far. The quality must be there and it is rarely lacking in Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Let's start with the Cab Sauv and a lovely easy drinking one, again from the Findlater table, the Gentleman’s Collection 2014 from South Australia. For fifteen euro, this one ticks most of the boxes.


At Table 14 (Whelehan Wines), I asked for the Parker Coonawarra Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet 2013 (29.95). CL is a major Cabernet fan and thought she had struck gold. And it is a beauty - great balance structure and fruit.
Coonawarra Terra Rossa soil


But it would soon be eclipsed(!) by the Parker Coonawarra Estate First Growth 2010 (€85.00). This is produced only in seasons of exceptional fruit quality. It's made from predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon from their Abbey vineyard and some vintages, including this one, contain a small portion of Merlot and/or Petit Verdot. It is perfection. Best Cab Sauv I tasted for the afternoon!


Australia can boast much richer stocks of ancient Shiraz/Syrah vines than France. It was one of the country’s original varieties and many vines there are now well over 100 years old. While Shiraz (42,000 hectares) may well be Australia's signature variety (think Penfolds Grange), the style is ever-changing, from “classic full-bodied” to “delicate interpretations”.

“While Barossa may be the jewel in Australia's Shiraz crown”, quite a few other, often cooler, areas are also making their mark. Let's see what I got to taste in Dublin and, remember again, I didn't taste every example.


Kelly’s Patch, the vineyard with the Irish connection (not the only one!), had no less than three, headed by the award winning Kelly’s Last Wish 2014 (€19.99), from Central Victoria, really well-made, with fragrant aromas and a palate full of concentrated fruit and spice. The name comes from a story concerning the outlaw Ned Kelly's final wish, another tale on a bottle.


Peter Lehmann is famous for reds and, from a whole stable of Shiraz, my pick was the Futures 2011 (30.00), from the Barossa. Fruit and spice galore and an ABV of 14.5%. Most Australian Shiraz will be up around that, some even above.


D'Arenberg’s Dead Arm is their best known Shiraz but, with diversity in mind, I sampled the mid-range The Footbolt 2012  (€22.00) from the McLaren Vale. Another superb example with typical fruit and spice.


Hard to go wrong with Shiraz in this room. They just kept getting better. And Findlaters had quite a gem in the Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael 2012, succulent, well integrated, well made with great length. The Shiraz Star of the Show?
The O'Brien family: Helen, Charlie and Kevin at home in McLaren Vale


That’s what I was thinking until I came to taste the Kangarilla Road The Devil’s Whiskers 2013 from the McLaren Vale. After that, I reckon the Best in Show title will have to be shared with Kevin and Helen O’Brien’s magnificent wine. Kevin was there himself: “It is consistent, ages beautifully. I tasted the 05/06 recently and it is beautiful vibrant, lovely.” This 2013 seems to be heading in the same delicious direction.


We have been missing the brilliant Kangarilla Road wines these past few years in Ireland. Kevin, like quite a few other Australian winemakers, came to the Dublin show searching for a distributor. Kangarilla, with so many superb wines in the range and popular in the UK, would be a fantastic addition to any portfolio here.


To learn a little more on Shiraz, check out this podcast.

To see Part 1 (on the white wines, mainly), please click here
Post also on the wines of Kelly's Patch here


  • Over 200 wines. Phew. To be honest, I didn’t set out to taste every one. And, even if I had managed the feat, that still wouldn't have given the complete picture of the diversity found in Australian wine today. Many more wines were available in the London tasting for example and some Irish favourites, such as Cullen Wines from the Margaret River, Tim Adams from the Clare Valley, the Palmers of Skillogalee, gentleman Chris Pfeiffer of Rutherglen, the Brysons of Morambro Creek in Padthaway, were among those not present in Dublin for one reason or another.
The Royal Hibernian Academy