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

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.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Duo of Superb Italian Whites from Liberty

A Duo of Superb Italian Whites from Liberty


Cà dei Frati I Frati Lugana (DOC) 2016, 13%, €23.99 Liberty Wines




This winemaker comes highly recommended. “Cà dei Frati of Sirmione in Lombardy is widely regarded as the top Lugana producer,” says Vino Italiano.

Managed since 1939 by the Dal Cero family, The Modern History of Italian Wine notes that the I Frati is simpler than their well-known Brolettino “but no less reliable. It offers guaranteed value year after year and is perfect for approaching this type of wine.” The Brolettino, by the way, is also available from Liberty.

But what exactly is this type of wine in its thick-lipped bottle? I wondered too, especially when I saw that the grape is Turbiana, one hundred per cent. After a fair bit of digging, I find that Turbiana is the local name for Verdicchio. 

Sirmione is just to the south of Lake Garda. Cool nights, thanks to the moderating influence of the lake, ensures the grapes retain nice aromas and acidity. The wine is unoaked and has spent six months on its lees.

Light straw is the colour. There are fairly intense aromas, a mix of white fruit and blossom. Fresh flavours, of peach and mainly citrus, follow; there is a lively acidity and it is rich and crisp plus an excellent finish. It does indeed live up to the build-up and is Very Highly Recommended.



Franz Haas Pinot Grigio 2016 Alto Adige DOC), 13.5%, €22.99 Liberty Wines

Franz Haas is a consultant and scholar and also a founding member of the Comitato Grandi Cru d’Italia, whose objective is “to protect and augment the prestige of wine producers that have been making wines with the highest ratings for at least twenty years”. He is also, according to Vino Italiano, “one of the biggest and most respected brand names in the Alto Adige… Good wines across the board.”

Pinot Grigio is considered a simple wine but if harvested and vinified with care, shows enjoyable notes of acidity and intense perfume. Our bottle is quite impressive; “four months on its yeast to build body, depth and structure” has certainly helped.

The rise, and rise, of PG is relatively recent. In 2000, it didn't figure in the top 20 most planted grapes in Italy (ISMEA, Rome, 2000, via Vino Italiano). By 2010, it had risen to number nine ((ISTAT, 6th General Census of Agriculture (2010)), its 17,281 hectares representing an increase of over 60%.

This Franz Haas has a pale straw yellow colour. There are pretty intense floral aromas, herbal notes too. The intensity continues on the palate, pleasant and elegant. This Pinot Grigio is a gem, far from simple; it has excellent acidity and Very Highly Recommended.


Pair with pasta, vegetable dishes, grilled white meat without sauces and great with a summer salad from the garden. You might tell your twenty-something daughters that it doesn't mix well with 7Up!

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.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Italian Wines from the Alps. From the west to the east

Italian Wines from the Alps
From the west to the east
Dolomites

Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012, 13%, €31.25 Le Caveau

Petite Arvine, better known over the mountains in Switzerland (in the Valais), is “an indigenous variety” in the Valle D’Aosta, with “soaring aromatics and rich sweet fruit” according to Robert Parker, Wine Advocate. 

Proprietor Constantino Charrère is the driving force in the region, “seeking out native grape varieties” for the wonderful wines of Les Crêtes, according to Le Caveau.

His work in this mountain area is the subject of an appreciation piece in The Modern History of Italian Wines and they list him as an influential figure right from the 1990s when Les Crêtes was founded.

As you may guess from the languages in the wine description, Valle D’Aosta grows a mix of of Italian, French and Swiss varieties. Surprisingly, the wine that brought Les Crêtes to international notice was their Cuvée Bois, a Chardonnay!

While wine has been produced here from at least Roman times, not much ever got out of Italy and Val D’Aosta has been designated “the forgotten corner” in Vino Italiano.

From the vineyard, one can see the high peaks of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and Gran Paradiso. Well known ski resorts, including Courmayeur and Cervinia, dot the landscape. Here, in the valley, Petite Arvine makes “a light, flinty wine with hints of grapefruit and mandarin orange”.

Colour is a rather rich straw. The aromas are an intense melange of white fruit, honey and floral elements. It is very pleasing on the palate, rich white fruit flavours, citrus too, and a long drying, almost flinty finish. A gem from the ancient valley and Very Highly Recommended.

Weingut Niklas Südtiroler Lagrein (DOP) 2012, 13%, €19.75 Le Caveau

Grapes and Wine describes the Lagrein grape as an interesting mouth-filling variety and it is grown here in the north-east of Italy and over the border in Austria in the Tyrol. If you’re on a tourist coach crossing from Austria to Italy, the guide will take some pleasure in pointing out how neat and tidy the Austrian part of the Tyrol is by comparison with the Italian bit.

That bit, also known as the Alto Adige, became Italian in 1918 as part of the settlement after World War 1 and, as you can see by the wine bottle, it is still a mix of cultures and languages. 

It is entirely located within the Alps and the craggy peaks of the Dolomites dominate in the east. Nowadays, thanks to the efforts north and south of the border, with no little help from the EU, this area is very prosperous.

This particular wine from Niklas Erhof is 100% Lagrein and has spent 10 months ageing in big oak barrels. It is perfect with game, beef and similar. We had it with new season lamb from Eoin O’Mahony butchers in the English Market and it was perfect.


It has a deep dark colour and you’ll more than likely note cherry and plum in the aromas. Dark fruit too on the velvety palate, a hint of spice also, not very tannic at all and indeed it is a surprisingly easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.


See also (from current Italian series):

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

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Velenosi of the Marche

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.

Velenosi Villa Angela Passerina, Marche (IGT) 2013, 12.5%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
Passerina, according to Wikipedia, is both a rare local white grape that is found in the Marche and a DOC for wines of the same name. It has large berries, high yields and a long ripening period. It makes appealing wines with clear, focused fruit.

Not a bad summation at all of this Highly Recommended wine. It has a rather rich straw colour. And there’s a mix of fruity and floral notes in the intense aromas. The palate is soft and fresh. Acidity is excellent and the finish is persistent.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Gold Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2012, 13.5%, €20.95 Karwig Wines

This is a blend of Montepulciano (mainly, c. 70%) and Sangiovese, It has been matured for c.24 months in new barrels.  Brecciarolo refers to broken stones, typical of soil in the area.

The colour is violet and the aromas (mainly of red fruit, especially cherries) are pretty intense. No shortage of strong flavours, spice is pretty prominent too, a refreshing acidity and it finishes well too. Warm, soft and harmonious, well balanced. Highly Recommended.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2014, 13.5%, €16.50 Karwig Wines

Just like the Gold, this is a blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese. After fermentation, the wine “is channelled into second-fill barriques where wines for the production of Roggio and Ludi had been kept the previous year.

Colour is ruby with tints of garnet. There are rather intense red fruit aromas and a little vanilla there too. Warm and juicy on the palate, the red fruit flavours are well delivered, some spice too. One of those mouth-friendly wines, easy drinking, easy to like and Highly Recommended.

* By the way, Velenosi produce quite a range, including a delicious sweet wine. It is a favourite in this house and you may check it out here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular grapes

Pinot Gris, more widely known by its Italian name Pinot Grigio, is one of the most popular grapes around.
Giorgio (right) in Cork last year.
Quite often it doesn't have much flavour and is easy to drink and these wines are sometimes described as inoffensive, a kind of damning with faint praise. It's as if someone said your wife or husband is "an inoffensive little person, you'd hardly know he/she was there". Luckily, the two below have lots of character, character that you'll appreciate as you get to know them. You'll soon know you have a real wine in your glass. And nothing offensive about it at all.

* In a 2015 article in the Irish Times, their wine expert John Wilson said Pinot was the Genghis Khan of wine and went on to write about Pinot Grigio (one of its many offspring). Read the full article here.

Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015, 12.5%, €17.50 Wines Direct.

Colutta may well be a small operator but is present in Ireland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa and, of course, United States and Italy. Giorgio Colutta took over the family vineyard in 1998 and The History of Modern Italian Wine credits him with being one of the influencers of the first decade of this century.

He is not organic; his emphasis, he told a group of us in Cork last year, is on being environmentally sustainable, it is easier to be organic in the south, he said. He uses mechanical control instead of herbicides, recycles rainwater and is self-sufficient with regard to energy consumption.

Modern Italian wine says “he used Pinot Grigio as his passe-partout to introduce the indigenous varieties”. These varieties include his amazing Schioppettino, which he showed in Cork.

Colour of the Pinot Grigio is straw yellow and there are fruit and floral elements in the bouquet. It is smooth and rich and full of flavour. Much more intense than your usual PG and no wonder Wines Direct regard it as “the best Pinot Grigio in Ireland”. A long finish adds to the pleasure. Very Highly Recommended.

The website tells us that the wine is left on lees until February to develop a better flavour and bouquet. It is not oaked and best served between 10 to 12 degrees.

Zenato Pinot Grigio della Venezia (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence

Zenato, well known for their reds, are on the fringes of Lake Garda and current wine-maker Alfredo Zenato heads the family’s drive to “produce affordable wines of exceptional quality”. And this is indeed an excellent expression of the grape, with more personality than most and a refreshing finish.

The colour is pale gold with green tints. A pleasant melange of citrus and peach in the aromas continues in the impressive palate, smooth and elegant right through to a persistent and grippy finish. A perfect wine for moules frites in the months ahead on the patio (finger crossed!). Highly Recommended.

Lovely as an aperitif and should go well with most of the lighter Italian and Italian style dishes. We tried it (didn't have that many options at the time) with salmon, risotto and pak choi and it worked very well.