Buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together, the further we will go. Ní neart go cur le chéile. Always on the look-out for tasty food and drink from quality producers! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter: @corkbilly
Facebook: Billy Lyons
Wine drinkers can be a bit like race-horse followers. When betting, the race horse fan may follow the form, may follow the trainer, maybe the jockey, maybe a combination. Wine drinkers too have their favourite region, a favourite grape, and sometimes a favourite wine-maker. Quite a few these days are following ace Spanish winemaker Alvaro Palacios (quite a few of his wines are imported by Classic Drinks).
“His pioneering nature helped to rescue both Priorat and Bierzo from oblivion,” said the April 2015 edition of Decanter when they named him their Man of the Year. His current focus is on the family vineyard in Rioja Baja. He is out of mainstream Rioja, away in the far eastern corner, in what he calls “Garnachaland”. “And I’m so happy about that.”
He sure loves his Garnacha as the following quote from The Finest Wines of Rioja shows. “Through its behavior, we can see that Garnacha is a very Spanish variety - perhaps even more than Tempranillo itself. It likes the sun, the heat, the stress from drought.”
“Alvaro has great affection for his vineyards and a relationship with the wines and the soil. That is where his passion lies. His great joy comes from growing old vines and maximising their ability and expression”, according to Ana Fabiano in Rioja, a recommended book on the region.
In the hilly vineyards of Priorat, he made his name with L’Ermita, “widely considered to be the most important Spanish wine of the modern era”. Made some money too with it: this will cost you a four figure sum! Not bad going for the seventh son of a family of nine. Fortunately for us, his Camins del Priorat and a few others are much more affordable, as are the majority of his Rioja wines, including the gorgeous pair below, so different to any Rioja red I’ve tasted before.
Palacios Remondo La Vendimia 2014, 14%, €17.99
Stockists: Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Co. Waterford. Baggot Street Wines, Co. Dublin. D6Wines, Co. Dublin. The Wine Centre, Co. Kilkenny. Number 21 Off Licence, Co. Cork
Every now and then, a wine comes along and makes your tastebuds sit up and notice, makes you sit up and notice. That’s what happened when I was introduced to this amazing opulent blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from the far eastern corner of Rioja. The unusual element here is that there’s 50% Garnacha in the mix. Here too, in the area around the town of Alfaro, is where the first Rioja grapes are harvested each year.
Ruby is the colour of the Vendemia, perhaps a shade darker than most of the other young Riojas I’ve come across the past few weeks. There is rich mix in the aromas, fruit (cherry, plum), mineral, even herbal notes, also hints of vanilla. A soft mouthfeel, the wine is pleasant and full of fruit, no shortage of acidity, fine tannins, some spice too and a good finish as well. Very Highly Recommended and leaves me looking forward to their crianza.
Palacios Remondo La Montesa Rioja Crianza 2012, 14%, €23.99
Stockists: Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Co. Waterford. Carpenters Off Licence, Castleknock, Co. Dublin. The Corkscrew Off Licence, Co. Dublin. Jus de Vine, Co. Dublin. Matson's Wine Store Grange & Bandon, Co. Cork. The Parting Glass, Co. Wicklow.
Named after the hill side slope (1800 feet) on which the fruit is grown, this unfiltered blend of Garnacha (70%), Tempranillo (25%) and Mazuelo (5%), is another gem from the Alfaro region of eastern Rioja, “a wine that invites you to enjoy life” according to the winemaker.
Ruby is the colour and there is a complex aromatic mix of fruit (cherry) and floral elements. With rounded fruit flavours and an immediately compatible mouthfeel, it flows smoothly across the palate, great finesse and elegance enthral and all before a stunning finish from a terrific wine produced from a year of “austere weather conditions”.
Just looking here at the winemaker’s notes and would have to agree: Perfect by-the-glass on its own or when paired with flavourful cuisine, La Montesa is a welcoming wine from Rioja that is sure to please both the novice and the true wine connoisseur alike. Very Highly Recommended. Lets hope Alvaro's love-affair with Garnacha continues. Recent Rioja posts: Rioja Rocks and also Rioja whites.
In the Langhe hills it’s the aromas - of truffles, mushrooms, hazelnuts, coffee, and above all else, Barolo or Barbaresco wine - that sweep people off their feet. (Vino Italia).
Barolo, by the way, is a place in Piedmonte (Italy) and the grape is Nebbiolo. There is a minimum aging requirement of three years (two in barrel) and the result has been described as the king of wine, the wine of kings.
So let's be king for a day and try this vibrant ruby red. And yes there are gorgeous dark red fruit (cherries mainly) wafting up from the glass. The Riedel (Veritas 6449/67) has been made for New World Pinot Noir but it certainly works well here! The fruits are agreeably prominent on the palate but there is a great balance, some spicy elements too, a sweet and savoury experience and then the long dry finish. I really like this one, feeling rather royal! Very Highly Recommended.
Marco Real Corraliza de Los Roncaleses 2012, Santacara (Navarra DO), 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines
Colour here is a bright cherry, long lasting legs. For me, nose is more fruit (cherry) than floral (which is highlighted on the label). Soft and full-bodied and elegant too, moderate acidity and yet, despite the high abv, the balance is fine; the finish is long and pleasant. Highly Recommended.
It is one hundred per cent Garnacha and wines made from this variety can be high in alcohol (as is the case here) and heady (not the case here!). By the way, I had this with Poulet Basquaise and it was an excellent match.
Think I may have been fairly close to this vineyard a few years ago when I came over the mountains from France to Roncesvalles, a major stop on the camino to Santiago. It was lunchtime and I was hoping to get the Pilgrim’s Meal but was told it was available only in the evening!
Colour is a dark red (with a lighter rim) and it has ripe fruits aromas. Then you get the fruit again on the palate, spice too and quite fine tannins, a pleasant presence in the mouth plus persistent finish. Hand-harvested and estate bottled, this is easily quaffable and Highly Recommended.
BESO DE VINO OLD VINE GARNACHA 2009, (Cariñena, Spain), ABV 13.5%,
RRP €9.99, Stockists, 4 stars
I’ve often seen “grows on you
slowly” as a descriptor in wine tasting. So, maybe half the bottle is gone
before you realise you’ve got a good one? Well, there’s no danger of wasting
any of this warm super-tasty red.
The warm hello comes on first contact:
“Howya doin’ old stock?” And it is old stock, as the fruit (100 per cent
Garnacha) is from old vines, vines with an average of 40 years to be more
precise. Later, that veteran Garnacha spends four months in new French oak
before the product is released.
Then it is good to go, keen to
please and the experience is totally satisfactory, especially when you consider
the price is just €9.99! Antonio, the little bull fronting Beso de Vino, can be
proud of this one. It is a bit like himself, friendly and confident.
Antonio boasts that there is lavender
in the nose. Not too sure about that, he can be a bit of chancer at times, but
there is certainly the aroma of black cherries there. The fruity mouthfeel is
big, for sure, but the dense fruit rush is held in check by the almost
unobtrusive tannins to give a well balanced wine with quite a pleasant finish.
Just to underline the quality,
Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate Robert Palmer gave it 89 points.
I know many will just twist off
the screw-cap and pour. But take a second and look at that cap. You will see
three little holes in it. I’m told they are not made by Antonio’s horns. So why
are they there? Check it out here.
This Wine Allianceimport comes highly rated by Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate Robert Parker who gave it 89 points. Other awards include Decanter Award (Bronze) 2011 and IWC Bronze Medal 2011. It is certainly a quality wine and comes at an attractive price.