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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Three Whites. Each Highly Recommended.


Beck Weissburgunder Burgenland (Austria) 2016, 12.5%, €18.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), from eastern Austria, first came to my attention at the Chef Sessions in ORSO in March last and I noted it for an extended trial! It is biodynamic and new to the Le Caveau portfolio. The fruit is hand-picked and the wine spends six months on its lees in oak casks.

It is a pale gold, with lots of micro-bubbles clinging to the glass. There are aromas of white fruit, including pear. A lively tingly introduction to the palate with lots of white fruit flavours following on, full-bodied with a pleasant refreshing acidity and a long finish. Fragrant and refreshing, this is a versatile food wine and Highly Recommended. More to Austrian whites than Gru-Vee!



Wohlmuth Kitzecker Riesling 2016, Sausal Südsteiermark Austria, 12.5%, €21.65 Karwig Wines

The fruit comes the village of Kitzeck where slopes of up to 80% makes it one of Europe’s steepest vineyards.

Light gold is the colour and you’ll note green tints. Aromas are of peach and melon. On the palate it is juicy and fruity, outstanding fresh acidity, it is long, minerally and citrusy, makes your lips pucker. With peach, apricot and citrus elements in the mix, it makes for a lovely aperitif. Great too with seafood, particularly with prawns. Highly Recommended
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Luigi Righetti Bianco di Custoza (DOC) 2016, 12%, €13.95 Karwig Wines.

This blend, one hundred per cent of the Soave grapes according to the Karwig website, has a light straw colour. It is moderately aromatic, fruity with a dry and delicate flavour, a good mouthfeel and a decent finish. Excellent as an aperitif or with fish or shellfish. Easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

The Bianco di Custoza is a white DOC wine from the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. Nine grape varieties are allowed, but generally just three are used, the best known of which is Garganega, the Soave grape.

Located in the heart of Valpolicella Classico, the Luigi Righetti estate is a small to mid-sized, family run winery. Since 1909, when Angelo Righetti first earned a reputation as an outstanding winemaker, the family has focused on producing quality wines offering extremely good value as is the case here.


New Zealand 2018 Vintage Latest:
Vintage 2018 benefits from warm summer
A warm summer benefited New Zealand’s winegrowing regions, with 419,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during Vintage 2018.
This is up 6% on the 2017 tonnage, but is still lower than initially anticipated in a season marked by a very early start to harvesting.
New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says many wineries had been hoping for an even larger vintage, given 2017’s small harvest.
“However, we now expect export growth in the year ahead will be modest. It will be up to wineries to manage any product shortages from the vintage.”
In addition to prompting an early harvest, the warm summer produced fruit with good ripeness levels.
A highlight from Vintage 2018 is the increased production of red wines.
“Production of both Pinot Noir and Merlot has lifted more than 20% on last year, which will be welcomed by both wineries and consumers. These varieties were down sharply in 2017 and it is very positive to see a return to more normal production levels this year,” Mr Gregan says.
New Zealand Winegrowers is confident Vintage 2018 wines will add to New Zealand’s reputation as a premium producer of cool climate wines.
“Every vintage is different and ultimately the final test is the quality delivered in the bottle to consumers. We are certain that consumers will enjoy the benefits of the warm summer when they get to taste the wines from Vintage 2018,” Mr Gregan says.

New Zealand wine exports are currently valued at $1.71 billion, up 3% in the past year. Wine is New Zealand’s fifth largest export good.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Cracking Reds. Bergerac, Chianti and Hawkes Bay.


Terroir Feely Grâce Vin de France NV, 13.5%, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

You might have those eye-catching Purple Violetta potatoes currently being grown and marketed by Ballymakenny; that is more or less the colour of this excellent wine. Aromas are of freshly picked ripe plums and dark berries, leaves attached.

And the palate is of fresh fruit and acidity (all the better for food pairing). An amazingly pure wine, tannins a fine, very fine, influence. Balance is super, the fruit and astringency equally in evidence deep into the satisfying finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

This “rich and elegant” dry red wine, highly marked by Jancis Robinson, is produced by Caro and Sean feely in their Saussignac vineyard in the Bergerac area. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Unusually, it is non vintage (NV). Just 2,650 bottles were produced. No sulphites were added and the winery is certified organic and biodynamic. This “grace of nature” is the delicious result.

By the way, the Feelys recommended pairing it with Lamb (with Rosemary), duck breast, and Comté. Heard it went well also with venison at a recent dinner in Ballymaloe!




Ama Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €28.50 Karwig Wines

Husband and wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti produce this wine at their Castello Di Ama vineyard which is close to Sienna. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in the blend which also includes four per cent Merlot.

It is a light and bright ruby red and you’ll find expressive red fruit (cherry, raspberry) in the aromas. It is light and juicy, notes of spice, tart red fruit prominent, mid to full bodied, mid to high acidity contributes to the balance, silky tannins also in play and then a moderately long finish.

If I had to just one wine for the summer ahead, this would be it, more than one bottle of course. Approachable, carefree and attractive, it is Very Highly Recommended


Unison Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2005, 13.5%, a gift from a friend.

Unison describe themselves as “a truly boutique winery consistently producing world class wines”. No pressure then on this winery from the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district that produces finely balanced wines “of great elegance with a soft tannin structure”.

This Unison 2005 is their signature wine, the usual  blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is the 9th release with the usual good results. 

Colour is mid ruby and the complex aromas feature ripe red and darker fruit. It is smooth and rounded, a superbly balanced blend, fine tannins and velvety all the way. Nothing jars in this harmonious mouthful, a fine wine all the way from first sniff to the long finish. This red blend from New Zealand is not to be rushed and Very Highly Recommended.

If you can get your hands on it - my Wine-Searcher drew a blank - please let me know where!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Rosé and Low in the Garden. Summer Wine.


La Jara Rosato Frizzante Veneto (IGT) NV, 10% abv, €12.95 Karwig Wines GOOD VALUE
This frizzante is an organic wine, a special cuvée. No mention of Prosecco on this bottle though the grape is the Glera which is used in the region to produce the famous Italian drink, both spumante and frizzante. The cork is secured with string and this confuses some people, confused me up to a few years ago. There is a helpful diagram of a corkscrew on the top of the cork and you can easily open it with the regular one.

It is a very clean and bright pink in colour. There are very delicate aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Bubbles, except at pouring and for a short while afterwards, are scarce enough but do remember that this is a frizzante (semi-sparkling). There is a bubbly feel to it in the mouth and also a biscuity flavour along with some fresh and fruity berry flavours. This very pleasant wine is perfect as aperitif. Get in a few of these for summertime in the garden. Highly Recommended and good value too.

Domaine de Ménard Rosé 2016, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP), 12%, €12.25 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Tannat and the salmon pink colour has more depth than your normal rosé but with a bright sheen. Strawberry and floral notes in the aromas. No shortage of lively red berry flavours. It is fresh (harvest takes place at night) and full with excellent balance. One of the better rosés and Highly Recommended.

Serve it well chilled, they say, with Basque and Spanish cuisine. I’m sure we can come up with something Irish also. In any case, it is delicious on its own. 

La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2016, 7%, €17.06 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny.

The Malvasia di Candia aromatica is the fruit for this moderately sweet bubbly wine. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%. Ripe melon and notes of honey come through on the nose.

Colour is a light straw, lots of micro-bubbles cling to the glass. Not that many bubbles and not for very long. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet (like a French moelleux), honey and fruity and a good finish. Gone up, in my estimation, since the previous year, so now Highly Recommended.

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