Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Grapecircus at Spit Cork. Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.


Grapecircus at Spit Cork.
Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.
Enrico, with square halo, and Aileen

Enrico Fantasia is enthusiastic about wine #77 on his stand at the Spit Cork event in the River Lee Hotel. It is Falanghina ‘Insania’ 2016 by Bambinuto. That Falanghina is the grape variety and the best known variety from this area in Campania is Greco di Tufo which is also produced by Bambinuto.

The vineyard is about an hour east of Naples, yet in 2006 Marilena Aufiero was told she was mad to start her operation here, hence the name Insania. “She took a chance,” said an admiring Enrico, the man behind Grapecircus who are best known for Italian wines. The wine, which has spent six month on lees, is delicious, fresh with minerality. This, and others from the Grapecircus portfolio, are available via Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. Others available online via SIYPS.

Enrico has been described as “the charismatic ringmaster of Italian wines in Ireland”. He also owns a wine bar, Piglet in Temple Bar. It is not his first restaurant venture. “I couldn't stay away.”. While Grapecircus have a strong Italian list, they now include wines from all over Europe, “made by passionate people with respect for nature.. that express terroir and tradition.”

Traditionally, the Castelli dei Jesi wine-producing zone in eastern Italy is noted for its Verdicchio and Enrico’s example was the Saltatempo 2016 produced by La Marca de San Michele. Verdicchio apparently means the little green one and there are tints of green in the colour and apple notes on the palate. This one is soft and round with a crisp acidity and a pleasant slightly bitter finish.

My next white came from the Mengoba vineyard in Bierzo, Spain, the Brezo Blanco 2016. It is a Godello with some Dõna Blanca, produced more or less organically but with no certification. This relatively full-bodied wine has responded well to five months on lees, pretty intense and with a strikingly long finish.

I had intended to try his Muscadet but Enrico wasn't happy with the bottles supplied - just goes to show his professionalism - so I switched my attention to the Albarino. A taster alongside me remarked there is no such thing as a bad Albarino and this Saras 2015 by Entre Os Rios was another good one. Good colour and aroma (tropical fruits), a richer style perhaps than usual, fruity, juicy and a long dry finish. 

Aileen took me through some of the Grapecircus reds, a brilliant mini-tour, mainly through Italy. Starting with When We Dance 2015, the Chianti by the Sting co-owned winery Tenuta Il Palagio. “It is the entry level wine,” Aileen said. “they are just outside the Classico area so it is good value and 2015 was a very good year.” And indeed, this is a very good wine, cherry prominent, and fresh, organic of course.
When we dance

A quick step over to France and to Bourgueil by the Loire and a tasting of Yannick Amirault’s La Coudraye 2016. Yannick is “one of the top producers and is certified organic.” Cabernet Franc is the red grape all around this area. It is noted for its freshness and that shone through this lovely rich wine, Aileen describing it as dense.

Back to Tuscany now and the Rosso de Montalcino Banditella 2014, produced from Sangiovese grapes by Col D’Orcia. This is a super wine from “the area's third largest producer”. “But the focus is on quality. It was a tough year in 2014 but good producers produce good wine even in bad years.” The winery was certified organic in 1999 and this red is a beauty, balanced, great finish.

The Marche in Italy wasn't too far away and my final stop was Fattoria San Lorenzo for their Rosso Piceno Burello 2014, a blend of 50/50 Sangiovese and Montepulciano, their top wine,  rich but not heavy, superb and with a long long finish.

Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spain, and Karwig Wines, keep surprising!


Spain, and Karwig Wines, keep surprising!

Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine

Spain keeps surprising. From Galicia, the green Spain, this Cunas Davia white is an impressive newcomer to the Karwig portfolio and Very Highly Recommended. It is a blend of Treixadura (70%), Albarino (20), Godello (8) and Lado (2). Valdavia is a small family farm using biodynamic production methods on its two hectares.

It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure!

“Ribeiro is building a reputation for fresh but elevated Treixadura-driven wines made from grapes planted on hillside terraces. A combination of Atlantic and Mediterranean influences gives Ribeiro wines more body and floral richness than Albariño from Rías Baixas.” So wrote winemag.com in 2016. I agree!

Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine 


Okay, a few clues for you. Quatro Castas means 4 types, 25% each of Touriga Franca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Alicante Bouchet (a red fleshed grape named after its breeder). Blend varies from vintage to vintage and picking the four grapes and then getting the blend right is the annual challenge to the winemakers.

All four are vinified separately. The first and third spend 6 months in American oak, the Cab Sauv 6 months in French oak, and 6 months of stainless steel for the AB. The year, 2014, provided very favourable weather conditions for red wines with high quality concentrated grapes resulting in fresh aromatic intense wines with an excellent equilibrium.

This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.



Velenosi Rosso Piceno (DOC) 2016, 13.5% abv, €15.50 Karwig Wines

This engaging blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese (30) is part of Velenosi’s organic line, “a line that will surprise and charm you”. This red is pretty good and Highly Recommended.

It is a mid to dark ruby colour, with a lighter rim. There are fairly rich aromas, red fruit mainly. Fresh on the palate, it is soft with a good body, some spice, excellent acidity, strong and pleasant right through to the long finish. An elegant wine, well made in “typical Velenosi style”.

When Angela Piotti Velenosi and her husband founded their winery in 1984, cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned in her local area of the Marches and Piceno. They started with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

Read more about the Velenosi wines here 


Monday, March 5, 2018

A Trio of Delicious Whites For You!


Vesevo Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2016, 12%, €21.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork; Wine Online
Vesuvius

Vesevo is an old name for Vesuvius and the vines here are grown on poor volcanic soil. No oak is used in producing this 100% Greco in Tufo, a DOCG right in the middle of Campania, the large administrative region that includes Naples.

This Greco is a light gold in colour and has quite an intense white fruit bouquet, an attractive one. That fruit (peach led), with a crisp minerality, features strongly on the palate, an excellent mouthfeel. Balance is more or less spot-on too and a decent finish as well. Pretty much as good as Greco gets with rich fruit initially and then that sharp minerality. Very Highly Recommended.


Maga Godello Ribeira Sacra (DO) 2016, 13%, €17.80 Karwig Wine

Colour of this white wine, made in Spain from the Godello grape, is a very light yellow. Aromas are rather complex, with floral and fruit notes. The palate is smooth, almost creamy, again that mix of floral and fruit (Grapefruit, melon), good acidity and balance. The finish is lingering and satisfying. Highly Recommended.



Dominio de Punctum Finca Fabian Verdejo Castilla (Vino de la Terra) 2016, 12.5%, €12.20, Mary Pawle Wines


This Verdejo is made  from organically grown grapes, night harvested and cold maceration before fermenting. Colour is straw yellow, bright and clear and there are white fruits in the aromas, floral notes too.

It is fresh and a little livelier than many Verdejos, excellent fruit flavours and balancing acidity. A lovely drop indeed with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended. Good value also, by the way. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Franciacorta, An Italian Gem. Best of Bubbles.


Franciacorta, An Italian Gem
Best of Bubbles. 


Alma Gran Cuvée Bellavista Brut Franciacorta (DOCG), 12.5%, €52.99, Wine Online.

From Franciacorta in Lombardy, to the south of Lake Iseo and to the west of the better-known Lake Garda, comes some of Italy’s finest sparkling wine and it’s not Prosecco. Franciacorta is made in the same way as champagne, with the second fermentation in the bottle, all the better for the character of the wine. 

For the past forty years, Vittorio and Francesca Moretti have been producing excellent Franciacorta at their Bellavista estate. Our bottle has a blend of 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Blanc.

It has a light straw colour with green tints. There are intense fountains of long-lasting small bubbles, pin-point and tiny. You may well note in the aromas the biscuit characters that turn up in good champagne, white fruit notes too including peach and citrus, plus floral and vanilla hints. It is intense also on the palate, fine, silky, beautifully balanced and then a lip-smackingly dry finish. Definitely makes a very good impression from first acquaintance and Very Highly Recommended.

Better than most Prosecco and as good as many Champagnes, this lovely wine is a welcome aperitif. Remember though that those bubbles go to the head faster than normal wines, so do provide a few nibbles, eg toasted almonds or cheese bits.

Interestingly, the area was once well-known for metallurgy and firearms (including the Beretta handgun, made outside of Brescia). Now, besides sparkling wine, it has some great cheeses such as Taleggio, Gran Padano and Gorgonzola. Franciacorta is a relatively recent phenomenon. "In 1968, there was nothing here," Maurizio Zanella, the unofficial ambassador of the wine, is quoted as saying.



Bargain Bubbles
Gran Troya Cava Brut NV 11.5%, €12.00 SuperValu

At a recent wine dinner in Cork, Irish Times writer John Wilson declared that Cava is getting better and better, “different, distinctive”. Yet many of us have yet to discover the Spanish sparkler, made in the same way as Champagne. This bottle, bought at twelve euro just before Christmas, is quite a good introduction. Recommended!

Colour is a pale yellow and there is no shortage of tiny bubbles rising to the top and forming a ring around the perimeter of the glass. It is intense and fruity with a long dry finish. A classic Cava. The grapes used are the traditional Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada “from our own vineyards”. Chardonnay is allowed but not used in this case. Try with olives, grilled almonds.

Covides Viñedos y Bodegas are the leading wine co-op in Catalonia in terms of volume and make their Cava using the método tradicional (same as Champagne). That means a thorough selection to get the best fruit, a careful blending process, secondary fermentation and subsequent ageing in the cellars at Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, a small town not too far from Barcelona. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Excellent Reds From Karwigs

Teruzzi Puthod Peperino Toscano (IGT) 2014, 13.5%, €19.35 Karwig Wines

From the heart of Tuscany comes this deep-ruby wine. Fragrant for sure, all the way through to the end. In between, you’ll find it well-balanced and satisfying on the palate, tannins assertive, spice much less so. A very pleasant amalgam indeed and Highly Recommended. They also make a lovely white Vernaccia.

The grapes in this blend of Sangiovese and Merlot are grown on the little hills around San Gimignano, well-known for its medieval towers, including the Torre Grossa. Well-known too for its ice-cream which is certainly very good. What I didn't fancy very much was the cappuccino I got in the lovely old Piazza della Cisterna. The wine spends 8 months in barriques, 10% new, and  they say it’s fine for meats and cheeses.

Cà Vittoria Apassimento Gold Release Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €16.95 Karwig

Late ripening and then the harvest is followed by a period of drying in trays. When the grapes are close to being raisins, the wine is made. This Appassimento process increases fruit concentration but leaves enough acidity to balance the rich fruit. Grapes used in this bottle are Negroamaro (60%),  Merlot (25%) and Primitivo (15%).

Gold Release may refer to the fact that this mid-purple coloured wine from Puglia in the south of Italy (the heel) has won a few awards. The aromas, like the colour, are intense, mainly plum, hints of sweetness. 

And that fruit concentration, typical of appassimento, is immediately obvious on the palate, that sweetness too. But there is indeed enough acidity to balance; the tannins still grippy. Overall, a pleasant easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.

Chateau La Bastide L’Optimée Corbieres (AOP) 2012, 14%, €19.25 Karwig
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and has spent some 12 months in Bordelaise barriques. Recommended serving temperature is 16-17 degrees. 


It has a dark red colour, slightly lighter at the rim. Quite an intense red fruit aroma, plus a bit of spice. Intense too on the palate, dark fruit and spice again, ripe round tannins and a long lingering finish. A very pleasant wine indeed and, like earlier editions, Very Highly Recommended. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Curious. Orange.The Fourth Wine?

Curious: Orange
The Fourth Wine?

You’ll read that orange wine is like rosé. Not really. Not at all. Many wine novices could start with rosé and like it straight off. If they start with orange, they may never drink wine again. 

I reckon you have to serve a general apprenticeship, a rather pleasant broad-based one like I did, before you are ready for orange, at least the orange I've been tasting the past year or so, beginning with La Stoppa’s Ageno.  Well, I did start at the top as this wine has been declared, by Decanter, as the best orange in the world.

The orange colour of these wines, obtained by leaving the skins in contact with the juice, is not uniform for various reasons to do with varieties, geography and time in contact (weeks, even months). The Ageno above spends 30 days on the skins, the Dinavolina below has had four months of contact, the Baglio just four days!

Essentially they are white wines - both examples below are labelled bianco - but they also have a higher level of tannins, more like a red wine, and indeed can match foods where previously red would have been the only choice. Welcome to the fourth wine!

Baglio Bianco Catarratto Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2014, 12%, €19.50 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.

Bianco is certainly a bit of a misnomer here as this is most definitely an orange wine, a cloudy deep amber in colour, unfined and unfiltered. And Le Caveau say it is a “fantastic introduction” to orange, “both from a flavour and price point of view”.

A nose of baked apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg is promised and delivered. There are strong reminders of a flavoursome dry cider as this wine spreads across the palate. A fantastic concentration of the flavours follows through to a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.


Pairings suggested by the importers are free range pork with apple sauce; a herby roast chicken; and cheeses such as Durrus. Catarratto, by the way, is Sicily’s, and Italy’s, most popular white wine grape.

Azienda Agricola Dinavolo Dinavolina Bianco Vino D’Italia 2013, 10.5%, €21.65 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.

And now, from a vineyard height of 1,500 feet, with no added sulphurs, we bring you Dinavolina, the personal project of Giulio Armani, the winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia Romagna, where Ageno is produced. This “left of centre” wine is a blend of Malvasia di Candida Aromatico, Marsanne, Ortrugo and an unidentifiable ancient local grape.

The amber colour here is clear, unlike the cloudy Baglio. Again there are hints of the apple orchard in the aromas but not as pronounced as in the Catarratto. The acidity is certainly a striking feature, reminiscent of the Basque wine Txakoli.

Fruit flavours are spare but insistent - four months on skins have seen to that colour and the tannins. The finish replicates the palate and one can see how the Dinavolina would go well with the recommended dishes: salt cod; ricotta filled pasta; or hard cheese. Personally, I’d add pork. The wine itself is Highly Recommended.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Three Excellent Wines. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Three of the Best. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, 12.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines


Fleurie, like all ten crus, is in the east of the Beaujolais region. Here Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.


This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage. Serve at 15 degrees to get the best from this Fleurie. I found it easy to make my mind up here. No need to wait for the second glass - though that did come - Very Highly Recommended.

Loimer Langenlois Loiserberg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (DAC) 2015, 13%, RRP € 23.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online

The first thing I really noticed* about this bottle was its glass closure; plastic is also used in the seal. It is marked trocken (dry) and made by Fred Loimer in the Kamptal area of Austria. Kamp is a river, a left bank tributary of the Danube which it joins near Krems, about 45 minutes north-east of the famous monastery of Melk.

They have been organic since 2006 and admit to having been inspired by the natural scientist Rudolph Steiner. “this has brought us, we admit, criticism from some quarters”. Their wines though have not, on the contrary. You’ll find the typical Gruner characteristics of herb, spice and apple here in this refreshing example.

There is a good yellow colour and a mixed nose of fruity and herbal notes. There is a peppery touch on the lively palate, along with mellow fruit flavours (2015 was a warm vintage), nice acidity too and excellent balance. A mineral character is prominent in a good long finish. Highly Recommended.

* One of the last things I noticed was the cheeky little fellow embedded in the glass closure!


Alpha Zeta Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2015, 13.5%, €19.99 Bradley’s, Cork; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

I know quite a few of you are Ripasso fans and this is another fine mouth-watering example of the technique and indeed has been described as a “mini-Amarone”. Grapes used are Corvina/Corvinone (70%) and Rondinella (30).

Ruby is the colour. Aromas speak of cherry and you may note the slightly raisin-ed notes familiar from Amarone. It has a rich concentrated palate, the cherry staying prominent, spice too, well balanced though with a fresh and dry finish, long too. Highly Recommended.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Italian Duo Delight. One Red. One White.

This week, we spotlight two Italian grapes. The Nero D'Avola is mostly associated with Sicily while some of the best Verdicchio comes from the Marche (pronounced Mark-ay). These, both from Liberty Wines, are excellent examples of the types....


Donnafugata Sherazade Nero d’Avola Sicilia (DOC) 2015, 13%, €22.99 J.J. O’Driscoll (Cork)Wine Online.
This lovely wine is produced in Marsala in Sicily where Nero d’Avola, a native vine, is the main red grape. No oak used in this one; stainless steel for two months and then close to three months in bottle before release.

Women feature in the name here. The Donnafugata, the vineyard name, means fleeing woman while Sherazade is the “spicy” heroine of the Arabian Nights, the art work a feature of the wines from this producer and in this case Stefano Vitale is the artist. Donnafugata are also associated with music and architecture (their winery on nearby Pantelleria*, for example).

The label is certainly eye-catching and the wine looks well in its brilliant ruby robe. A melange of berries, cherries and plum too in the fragrant bouquet. The soft palate reflects the fruits encountered in the aromas. Tannins are smooth. Fresh and fruity and gentle all the way to a warm and satisfying finish. A very pleasant drink indeed and Highly Recommended.

A versatile wine too. Ideal as an aperitif but, more surprisingly, also good with grilled fish. No surprise though that it pairs well with pasta and pizza.
  • On this small island, Donnafugata produce `Ben Ryé`, a famous sweet wine (also carried by Liberty).
Bucci Verdicchio de Castelli di Jesi (DOC) Classico Superiore 2015, 13.5%, €23.99 J.J. O’Driscoll (Cork), Wine Online.
Bucci are a standard-bearer of the Jesi, according to Vino Italiano. Ampelio Bucci, the winemaker, is also a professor in Milan and is a highly influential thinker on the subject, extensively quoted in the recently published “The Modern History of Italian Wine”.

Here only estate grown grapes have been used and they are certified organic (no herbicides, no pesticides). It has a lovely golden colour. Maybe not the most flamboyant of bouquets, blossoms and pine notes in the mix. 

No shortage of weight on the superb palate, flavours of ripe apples and citrus, acidity here too and all combine in the excellent finish where you might also find a trace of honey. This clean, delicately aromatic and brightly acidic wine is Highly Recommended.

Just one note. Don't over-chill this. Much more rewarding to drink it too warm than too cold. Wood, by the way, is used by Bucci but only a portion of the juice goes into the ancient Slovenian barrels for fermentation, the rest goes into stainless steel, the idea being to enrich rather than obscure the grapes natural qualities. 


Try this for some Verdicchio fun. Get a bottle from Jesi and another from Matalica (another good area for the grape in the Marche). See which one you prefer!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Casanova on George’s Quay. Gelato. And So Much More!

Casanova on George’s Quay.
Gelato. And So Much More!

On Barry’s corner on George’s Quay, in a clothes shop once run by the Barry sisters (here you could buy elastic for your knickers or, if you were flush, new knickers and more), you can now indulge in the most amazing Gelato.

Long after the Barry’s closed their shop, a twelve year old Italian girl so much enjoyed a two week holiday in Ireland that she got it extended to two months. And then promised herself she would come back. 

Many years later, Barbara did just that. Barbara and her husband Andrea (also with a love of Ireland) set up their shop on George's Quay in August 2016 so that now you can enjoy a real taste of Italy in Casanova Gelato.

We did that just last week. There is an amazing display cabinet with over a dozen gelatos to tempt you. Not the same selection every day, by the way. Andrea doesn't want the gelato lying around so he makes small batches that move quickly and you’ll see different varieties from day to day.

It is one of the best displays I've seen anywhere and that includes San Gimignano, the ice-cream capital of the world, or at least the home of the World Champion when I visited. 
Couldn't wait to get cracking on the Gelatos of George’s Quay. I think Andrea spotted that and soon we each had a bowl with three samples: Hazelnut, Rocher, Chocolate, Chocolate and hazelnut, Mascarpone cheese and strawberry, and Spiruli.


Spiruli? I hear you ask. The blue colouring that so many kids like comes from the natural pigment of Spirulina. Spirulina algae is rich in essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals making Spiruli Gelato healthy for children and adults alike. Aztec warriors considered it “the food of the gods” and the 1974 UN World Food Conference designated it a “food of the future”. 

It certainly goes down well with the kids and Andrea told me adults like it very much in their Affogato dessert where the colour changes when you add the expresso! So yes you may have coffee and gelato together.

But we were invited in to test-taste their forthcoming Bubble Waffle! Barbara was busy getting that ready and soon presented us with two of them, CL getting the one with the strawberry fruit and sauce while mine had banana and chocolate sauce. A cup of their delicious Agust organic coffee was also provided.

We were up to the challenge! Well, the combination is delicious, all wrapped up in this bubble waffle. It is still a work in progress though, with Barbara tweaking it so that is not too sweet. Her work got a vote of confidence from us and it will be officially launched in the very near future.

There are dozens of Gelato flavours and these may be used in their waffles as well. Ours was a Special of course with fresh fruit, one sauce and a one topping. A simple waffle and a fruit waffle are also available and you may also have Gelato Waffle (without the fruit). Anyone for a Croffle? Think Croissant and Waffle.

So lots of tasty variety. And I haven't yet mentioned their crepes, their sundaes, some special Gelato drinks such as the Casanova Shake and others such as Marilyn Monroe (flavoured Italian style Latte Macchiato made with organic coffee and milk topped with fresh cream). 

They also have a special range for those with Vegan and those with Dairy intolerances. All their Gelato is suitable for Vegetarian; no gelatine is used. There is so much going on in this small place. 

“All our ingredients are carefully chosen to give to our customers the best experience possible. We use only Irish Organic Milk, Real Fruit, Belgian Chocolate, the best Italian Piemonte IGP Hazelnut and Italian Pistachio 100% Pure Paste. All our product are made without Palm Oil, Artificial Flavouring and Colourants, all proven to be dangerous for human health.”

The reaction has been good and they are pleased with their first year on the banks of the Lee. Barbara told me they enjoy the vibrancy of the city, the amount of festivals and events. “In my city in Italy, a similar size to Cork, they would organise maybe one a year.” But here there is one nearly every week, most recently the Jazz festival (and that was good for Casanova). 

And the couple are contributing to the festivals themselves. During the recent Taste Cork Week they joined in and held a Gelato Workshop; the 3.5 hours lesson cost €55.00, a lot less than the former World Champion’s €400.00 fee for a 2-hour course!

But you don’t need a festival to visit Casanova and treat yourself. It may not be exactly in the city centre but is just a couple of minutes from the South Mall. And you get a good view too. Andrea told me he loves the river and the Holy Trinity Church church on the other bank, another plus when you’re enjoying your Gelato along with the kids or the grandkids. Or maybe by yourself!

  • If you can’t stay, they do a take-away box!

Casanova Gelato

Twitter: @casanovagelato

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Grand Sparkler and a Little Scamp!

A Grand Sparkler and a Little Scamp!
Meyer-Fonné Crémant d’Alsace (AOC) Brut Extra NV, 12%, €26.85, Le Caveau
Crémant is the term for any French sparkling wine produced by the méthode traditionnelle, outside of the Champagne region. Subject to similar rigid guidelines, Crémant d’Alsace is produced at the highest level of quality, but available at a fraction of the cost. The Alsace version scores well on quality and price and Crémant d’Alsace is a top-seller in France.

This blend, imported by Le Caveau, uses Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. It is champagne in everything but name and price. These organic bubbles will grace any celebration, from a wedding to the sun coming out in these parts.
Dry and tangy and then a wave of ripe apple flavours that goes all the way to a tingling finish. This is a serious and distinguished wine, with appealing aromatics, well balanced with lip smacking acidity. This won't let you or your guests down and is Very Highly Recommended.
Terra di Pietra Piccola Peste Valpolicella (DOC) 2015, 12%, €18.95 Le Caveau
Here, technology has little influence: “..what’s needed are hands, nose, heart and passion, every day.” Farming is organic, conversion started in 2011. The blend is mainly Corvina and Corvinone, with some Rondinella and Molinara. The label is drawn by the children of wine-maker Laura Albertini, a young mother who tragically died earlier this year.
The colour is a pale to medium ruby. Fairly straight-forward cherry aromas. Straight-up cherry too on the palate, nice acidity to balance. And, a tip from the importers: “..despite being light-bodied, when aerated for a while, this shows surprising depth.” Yes indeed. And a decent finish too. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three Handsome Reds! One in a Litre Bottle.

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.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On Your Bike in Italy. A Champion Wine

Vigne Marina Coppi “Sant’Andrea” Colli Tortonesi Barbera (DOC) 2015, 13.5%, €25.99 Liberty Wines 

The winery was founded in 2003 and named for Marina Coppi, the child of renowned cycling champion Fausto Coppi who twice completed the Giro and Tour de France double, 1st in 1949 and then in 1952.

The estate, which concentrates on native varieties, is in the region of Piemonte where the Colli Tortonesi is a lesser known appellation. Ten per cent Croatina has been included with the Barbera. No oak has been used and you'll note there is very little tannin.

Ruby is the colour. There are intense aromas, mainly of cherry. Much the same fruit and intensity on the palate, also excellent acidity. As smooth and rounded as you’ll get with a trace of background spice. A beautiful lingering finish too and Very Highly Recommended. Liberty also carry the Coppi I Grop, another to watch out for.



Allegrini Valpolicella (DOC) 2016, 13%, €22.49 Liberty Wines 


The Modern History of Italian Wine pays the Allegrini family, best known for their rich and powerful Amarone, quite a compliment when citing them as one of the most influential winemakers: With the Allegrini family, Valpolicella takes the form of art, of a lifestyle where the beauty and light of Italy shine through wine.

Very high praise indeed. It might be a huge leap to see the art in this particular bottle but I’m inclined to the view that there is a delicate beauty and light to enjoy. And there is also a guarantee of quality as the family were, in 2005, one of the founders of the Comitao Grandi Cru d'Italia which unites the best of Italian producers.


This Valpolicella is a light ruby colour, and bright. On the aromatic nose, cherry is to the fore. It is light, fruity, with a hint of spice. This engaging youngster is a playful companion, ideal for that favourite sunny seat in the garden. But will grow and mature a bit over the next year or two. A blend of Corvina (65%), Rondinella (30%) and Molinara (5%), with a finish of some heft, it is Highly Recommended.

Read more of the Allegrini story on the Liberty Wines blog here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try
Local grapes feature in these three bottles, one each from Bordeaux, the Alentejo region of Portugal and Piedmont in Italy. While the Bordeaux grapes will be familiar to most of us, the local Portuguese and Italian grapes will be less so. Worth a try though!

Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Wines Direct

I love Bordeaux (and Bergerac) whites, especially when Semillon is the main grape, and this excellent dry wine, rich and full flavoured, suits me very well indeed. Sec (dry) is highlighted on the front label and it has spent 3 months ageing on lees. The blend is Sauvignon Blanc (35%), Sauvignon Gris (15) and Semillon (50).

Colour is a clear gold/straw. There are rich aromas, exotic fruit plus floral elements. From its elegant and attractive nose, to its generous mouthfeel, its excellent freshness ad acidity, to its long finish, it is pretty much faultless, Well balanced and Very Highly Recommended. Should be superb with most kinds of sea fish including lobster and salmon, freshwater fish too. 

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro ALR, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2012, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle Wines

The organic grapes for this blend grow in an wooded area planted with Pine, Oak and Chestnut. I though I got a hint of oak but maybe not as it is unoaked! Trincadeira, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante-Bouschet and Touriga Nacional are in the blend and the wine-makers say “it goes with everything”.

This versatile medium bodied wine has a ruby red colour and red fruit aromas. Baked fruit and spice on the palate, moderate tannins, and a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

* The lettering on the bottle could fool you into thinking it is AIR but no, the ALR comes from the initials of Antonio Lopes Ribeiro.


Valle Unite Ottavio Rubé Rosso 2014, Costa Vescovata, 13.5%, €14.55 Le Caveau

Costa Vescovata is a town in Piedmont and the Valle Unite is the winery. The grapes - it is a blend of Dolcetta and Croatina - are local and this organic wine is “a brilliant price/quality ratio” say Le Caveau. It is named after Ottavio Rubé, one of the founders of the co-op.


Colour is a deep ruby and there are strong, even “funky” red fruit aromas. Same strong fruit evident on the palate, a good input of spice too, also savoury flavours, quite grippy with excellent acidity. A decent finish too. A good buy and Highly Recommended. You can expect some sediment here so best to decant.