Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Aperitifs. And Two for The Meal!

Christmas Aperitifs
And Two for The Meal!

Quite a bit of variety in this quartet of whites, all possible aperitifs, which should stand you  in good stead over the holidays. All will be fine as aperitifs and two have the advantage of being rather low in alcohol. One is a rosé (usually associated with summer but I'm sure the house will be hot!) and another is a slightly sweet bottle of organic bubbles. The Vinho Verde is easy-drinking (indeed, they all are) and has a very slight fizz while the Sauvignon Blanc can also do duty during a meal. And speaking of The Meal, we have two (each well-priced) at the end that will certainly do the business there for you. Enjoy.

Messias Vinho Verde (DOC) 8.5%, €12.35 Karwig’s


This Vinho Verde is light and crisp, with a subtle and sparse fizz. It is made, in the Atlantic north of Portugal, from traditional regional varieties (Loureiro and Pedernâ in this case).

It has a light lemon colour, a touch of green and plenty of fizzy bubbles. Aromas are of light fresh fruits. The light white fruits continue to the palate, also a touch of sweetness (residual sugar is 13 gram/litre), a gentle fizz is part of the lively acidity. Recommended, especially as an aperitif.


La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2016, 7%, €18.95 Bradley’s, Le Caveau.


The Malvasia di Candia is a rather unusual moderately sweet bubbly wine. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%.

Note too the beautiful golden colour. Not that many bubbles. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet, honey and fruity and a good finish. This lightly sparkling beauty is Recommended.

Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose Cabrieres Languedoc (AOP), 13%, Bradley’s Cork.

This rosé is one of the new wines added to the Findlater range. It is produced from Cinsault (50%), Grenache (40) and Syrah (10). “Summer in a glass” they claim, full of red fruit and a refreshing zestiness. Sophie Valrose wines are regular award winners (the rosé indeed picked up another gong at the recent National Off Licence Awards). 

Colour is a light to mid salmon, more flush than the blush on the label. Strawberries and blossoms in the aromas, round and elegant on the palate, excellent acidity and a decent finish to boot. Summer has been successfully bottled here. Recommended, even in winter!


Passage du Sud Sauvignon Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2016, 11.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s (Cork)

Usually in Gascony, the white wines I've come across are the kind that go well during the holiday. Often they are produced from Ugni Blanc  and Columbard (used in Armagnac) fruit, great with the local oysters and other seafood but rarely worth bringing home. This Sauvignon Blanc has a bit more going for it and is Recommended. 

The Gascony area, in the south west of France, often hosts migrating birds, hence the name on this bottle. The designation Côtes de Gascogne is in the Gers department. Here too you will find Armagnac and Floc de Gascogne (the local aperitif). This is the area where you are strongly advised not to ask for Cognac or Pineau des Charentes (also a good aperitif, as is the Floc, if you can get your hands on them).


This wine, also new to the Findlater list, has a light straw colour. White fruit aromas are matched on the crisp and fruity palate, citrus elements prominent, and a lively acidity. Quite a pleasant surprise this from a generally unconsidered area. Recommended. Good value too.


And Two for The Meal!
Le Petite Source Le Clos Rouge Pays d’Oc (IGP), 12.5%, €11.95 Bradley's, Le Caveau
This is one of the selection of excellent “simple” wines that Le Caveau have on their house wine listings. Under a convenient screw cap, the organic blend is of Grenache, Cinsault and Merlot. It is deliciously light and fruity and a good example of price/quality ration from the Languedoc.

It has a lovely medium ruby colour. It is fresh and fruity (blackberry, raspberry and strawberry), juicy and simple, silky tannins with just a little bite. Well balanced but with a good deal of heft about it and Highly Recommended.

Le Petite Source Le Clos Blanc Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.95 Bradley's, Le Caveau


This 2014 edition (2015 is now available) has a light straw colour. There are rather exotic fruits on the nose. And they follow through to the palate. It is deliciously fresh and fruity, no shortage of acidity. Very refreshing with a longish finish. This well made blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay is Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle

Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle
Bertrand (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau

Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family since 2013. Once upon a time, Bertrand was front and rear at his Premeaux-Prissey vineyard. He was the boss. Now his children, Francois and Ludivine, have taken on the business and Bertrand says he, no longer the boss, now works for them. He is glad to have them share the load, allowing him the freedom to concentrate on making good wines, such as this pair, made and named for his granddaughter.

Daughter Ludivine has said the move to organic viticulture is one of true belief as she lost her grand-father due to illness caused by chemicals used in the fields.Take a taste of their Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’ to see where they are heading. This is a faultless wine with an astounding finalé and is also available from le Caveau.

Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons (ACBC) 2013, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau

In Cork, earlier this year, Bertrand told me that this Pinot Noir is fermented in mixed-age 400 litre oak barrels, he doesn't want oak influence here, so no new barrels are used.

It has a  mid-ruby robe. Plums feature prominently in the bouquet. The palate is full of pure fruit, firm tannins there too, along with a lively acidity and that focused combination plays all the way to a classic faultless finalé. Much has been squeezed from the parcels of poor soil and, lovingly guarded every step of the way, much remains in the bottle. A gorgeous well-priced wine, one of his thirteen Pinot Noirs, and Highly Recommended.

Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons Chardonnay (ACBC) 2014, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau

The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines. It is fermented in barrels of different ages (one, two and three years old oak), not fined and only lightly filtered.


Colour is mid-gold, with tints of green. Fairly intense aromas feature white fruit and blossoms. It is round and fruity (citrus to the fore eventually), with just enough acidity. A wonderful drop indeed, very well made and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celebrate Rhone Wine Week with these two!




Rhone Wine Week
4th to 11th November
Two to try. 🍷👍


Pope, Parker, Mistral
A Pope and a Parker were among the key figures that enhanced the reputation of wines from the Rhone Valley. Wines had long been made in the area even before Julius Caesar arrived in Chalon-sur-Saône and found two Romans already in the wine trade there.

The shell of the Papal holiday palace
 remains after wartime bombing
Fast forward now to 1309 when Pope Clement V moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon. Most of the wine drunk in the temporary papal palace (they also had a summer palace called Chateauneuf du Pape) was from the local area and so the fashion for Rhone wine began in earnest. 

Clement of course came from a Graves wine family (think Chateau Pape Clement!) and would be followed by five more popes before the move back to Rome. The papacy was here was 67 years, a lot of wine!

The Rhone was firmly among the most respected wines in France when infallibility of another kind arrived in the 1980s. Robert Parker, the American wine guru, "intervened". He just loved the naturally ripe style and gave them very high scores and his many international "followers" took his word for it, bought the wines and found out for themselves just how good the Rhone bottles really are.

In between Pape and Parker, there was the wind of 1956, perhaps even more influential than the famous pair. Then the Mistral battered the region for three weeks and contributed to the temperature dropping to minus 15 degrees. The olive trees, then the big crop in the area, suffered badly but the vines resisted so well that a majority of farmers turned to vine cultivation.

Santa Duc Les Blovac Rasteau (AOC) 2011, 15%, €18.45 Le Caveau, Bradley’s Cork

If you’re thinking of celebrating Rhone Wine Week, then this Rasteau is a great choice. Even Robert Parker agrees, at least he did seven years back when he praised Yves Gras of Santa Duc saying he “produces some of the best buys in Cotes du Rhone”. Viticulture in this vineyard has always been organic in style and intent and full certification was achieved in 2012.

This wine is the typical Southern Rhone blend, often called GSM from the initials of the three varieties. The 2011 is a blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20) and Mourvedre (10). There has to be a minimum of 50% Grenache, so this is well above that. The fruit is late-harvested so no shortage of ripeness or power - note the ABV of 15%. No oak is used and the wine is bottled without filtering.

Colour is a deep ruby and the legs are slow to clear. Aromas are complex, a melange of red and darker fruits, hints of pepper too. Upfront on the palate, generous fruit flavours prominent, well balanced though, tannins still grippy and there is a persistent tingly finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Rasteau was, from the 17th century, best known for its fortified wines. But was gradually forced to accept the conditions of the C. d. R village appellation and eventually came onboard in 1967 and gained the coveted cru status for the village in 2009.


You can still get a Vin doux Naturel (VdN) here, of course. The red is perhaps best known and the only one that I've ever tasted. That was in the village itself and led to a little argument with the salesperson. She had suggested pairing it with Stilton but I flew the flag and told I’d be taking it with Cashel Blue. We got on very well after that. 


Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Côtes du Rhone (AOC) 2015, 14%, €16.95 Bradley’s (Cork), Le Caveau


There are, as you know, many skilled wine-makers in the Rhone and they don’t suddenly lose those skills when they turn their attention to white wines. Indeed, their well-made whites can often be better value than the more popular reds. In any case, Chaume-Arnaud, (along with Santa Duc above), is one of the area's leading producers, according to Grapes and Wines.

This particular bottle is a blend of Marsanne, Roussane, and Viognier. Other white grapes that are permitted are White Grenache, White Clairette and Bourboulenc.

You see a lot of lovely light gold in your glass. The aromas, white fruit and blossom, are harmonious. Refreshing white fruit flavours abound on the palate, with a refreshing acidity at play, well balanced, and with a long mineral-y finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Try with grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goats cheese. My own tip: Goatsbridge trout with Mothergrain Quinoa (with Golden Veg.).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Taste of the Week. Express Quinoa & Golden Veg.

Taste of the Week
Express Quinoa & Golden Veg.


I’m becoming quite a fan of quinoa. Indeed, my latest experience has been all good and this Express Quinoa with Golden Vegetables, by Mothergrain, is my current Taste of the Week. And it is express: have it cold or heat it up in 90 seconds!

Got a few samples to try out and was wondering what to pair with this one. The official Blog Chef provided the answer when she came home with Goatsbridge fresh trout in the shopping. Tried the two together and it was an excellent plateful. 


If you want to take it higher, then add a bottle of Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Côtes du Rhone blanc, available at Bradley’s or online from Le Caveau. The wine is organic as is the quinoa.

See here for quinoa availability.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

72 Tastes of Dingle. Great Choices for €22

72 Tastes of Dingle
Great Choices for 22 Euro

We were sitting (well, standing, no room to sit) in the sunny back-yard of Dick Mack’s Pub in Dingle last weekend, coming to the conclusion that we were attending the best food festival in Ireland. As we finished up and made our way down Green Street, we met different groups of friends, all in town for the festival and all agreeing that it is indeed the best.

The Taste Trail that we, and they, were following is a major plank of Dingle’s success. For €22.50, you can buy a book of trail tickets. Present a ticket at any of 72 participating outlets and you’ll get a taste, two tickets and you’ll get a different offering (maybe better, maybe bigger). The outlets can include restaurants and cafes and pubs, but a music shop, a Surf Shop, an art gallery, may also host a food producer or a wine seller. The choice is huge. And often impressive.

Kick off, on both Saturday and Sunday, is 1.00pm. We weren't going to be in town on Sunday so we were determined to get the best from Saturday and we certainly did well.

Out of the Blue was quite close to our hotel. We had eaten there the night before so knew its quality. Here, for one ticket or two euro, we got a Taste of the Blue, a helping of calamari with an Asian style sauce. We ate on the sunny bench outside and soon headed off towards the next stop.
At Ida's, the two of us with (l-r), Colm & Pascal (both Le Caveau)
and Kevin and David (both Ida's). Selfie by Colm!

Murphy’s Pub was listed at #8 on the list. We joined the long queue and our short wait was rewarded with a Pulled Duck in a mini Pitta Pocket with sweet red cabbage. A delicious combination and plenty of it, again two euro.

We passed stalls selling lager and fresh barbecued Tuna, even (inadvertently, sorry Sam) one selling Cloudberry’s macarons, before landing at The Dolphin Shop. Here Ruggero Sileri was busy serving his Italian Traditional Porchetta - slow-cooked (10hrs) loin of pork, served on bread with a thick layer of caramelised onions. Again a massive and tasty mouthful for the minimum.
Pink Pinot Grigio

We had intended to get to the other side of town and thought we’d better get a move on, skipping excellent offerings from the likes of the Charthouse and Fenton's and the ever popular Bush Tucker Kangaroo Skewer at Dingle Surf.

We were heading for Bacus on Green Street where Gaelic Escargot were selling their snails with a garlic and herb butter and Bacus sourdough to soak up the sauce. Delicious, though I got some curious stares as I poked the snails out of their shells while sitting on the steps of the church.

Nearby the local Fire Brigade were doing a demo, showing just how dangerous a fire in a chip pan can be, often started inadvertently by a man coming home from the pub and then falling asleep. Even if you're fully sober you’ll need all your wits about you to safely put out such a fire. If you come across any such demo in your area, do take the time to observe and learn.

Massive queues, as always, at the Little Cheese Shop, who were offering Raclette, the Swiss dish where the cheese is melted on to bread with a pickle or two on the side. 
A new twist to the old spud!

By now, we were heading down Main Street, leaving behind Spanish Wine and Tapas at the Original Kerry Craft-shop, Kerry organic Rose Veal Kofta at Kennedy’s Bar and Dingle Salted Grass Beef Taco by Dingle Cookery School at the Carol Cronin Gallery.

We kept on going to meet Pascal and Colm from Le Caveau who were doing a wine tasting at Ida’s Restaurant. I'm familiar with a few of the wines but was surprised when Colm poured a sample of what looked like a rosé only to find it was a Pinot Grigio, produced near the Dolomites by Foradori. 

Then he poured some Bravos Volcanico Pais from Chile. You'd be forgiven for expecting something rough and strong. But, no. This was a very pleasant and drinkable red wine, with a low enough ABV of 12.5%.  These two drops alone prove you should never go to a tasting (either food or drink) with your mind made up. Sample it first!

We weren’t finished yet! Nelliefreds on the Spa Road (out towards the brewery) is listed as a garage/bar. It is a venue for music, drink and food. And their offering was an unusual Light Sabre Spud. Explanation: Tornado potatoes/fries are a popular street food in South Korea. Using a special slicer, the potato is spiralled on a stick and then fried until crispy when delicious herbs and spices are added! Keep your mind, and mouth, open!
Danger here!

Back on Main Street again, we called to Pantrí. We bought on the double here, including a lovely Vegetable curry with Rice and Raita. But the favourite was undoubtedly the Maharees Beetroot and Coconut Soup with Chive Cream.

Were we finished? Not quite. Walking down Green Street, we decided we need a drink and joined hundreds in the back-yard of Dick Mack’s. Obviously, many were in and out of the bar but our destination was the small outside bar serving the beers from the newly opened brewery (also on the yard). 

With the sun out, we decided against the excellent stout we had enjoyed the previous night and instead ordered their Session IPA (4.6%) and the Amber Ale (also 4.6). And it was then, as the beers sank down, with the place packed and food being served, that we concluded that this is the best Food Festival in Ireland!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance. Good Clean Wines


Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance
Good Clean Wines.
Left to right at Ely: Francesco, Pascal and Dario

Dario Poddana (Les Caves de Pyrene), Francesco Maule (La Biancara, Gambellara) and Pascal Rossignol (Le Caveau) combined to give us a fascinating insight into organic and natural wines, in particular the wines of the Veneto, at Ely Wine Bar last Tuesday. Francesco is a winemaker at the family vineyard in Gambellara and the other vineyard whose wines came under the spotlight was Azienda Filippo Filippi (Soave).

Some in the audience (trade and press) wanted to know how this type of wine was going down with the customers. Dario, Italian wine buyer with Les Caves, stressed there were no added sulphites and the focus is “on wines of intensity rather than of richness”. On their being cloudy, he said it was no problem to the customers. 

Pascal added that this type of wine seems to have found a natural ally in the chefs that forage and said these restaurants “react well to it”.
Dario

It emerged too that, while mistakes may have been made in the past, maybe concentrating on the vineyard rather than the winery, the objective now is on making good wines that are “clean”.

Dario praised the Maule family and said they were at the forefront of the natural wine movement and not just in Italy. “It is interesting to see how classic ways are being rediscovered, a mix of extreme tradition and extreme modernism." 

Prosecco may be very known as being from the Veneto but Dario emphasised that “it is just one type of expression of the area”. The one we started with, the Casa Belfi, Prosecco Colfondo DOC, has a tiny refreshing fizz, a rich texture from the yeasts and a hint of salt (the vineyard is juts 30km from the sea), all combining to say a very pleasant Ciao.

Francesco was quite proud of his very young La Biancara di Angiolino Maule, ‘Garg’n’Go, Veneto Frizzante IGT, “the only one with biodynamic certification”, and rightly so! 

We were tasting in flights of two and next up was the Filippi Soave Castelcerino 2014, a wine I am happily familiar with, “an incredible wine from a very difficult vintage” according to Pascal. Dario:”It is their normal Soave from a well respected hill for wine. They like long contact with the fine lees, rarely less than 18 months, this to confer richness and structure. Very simple wine-making in general.” Looks like it works.

Francesco too praised it “as a very good result from 2014", before moving on to tell us about his Maule Masieiri Bianco 2015, a blend of 10% Trebbiano and 90% Garganego. Lees too come into play here, the period of six months adds “a  nice richness”. “No filters, no clarifying.” A lovely wine, displaying a generosity of fruit and character.
Ingredients on the label.
"Maybe others will follow."

Francesco went on to introduce us to two of his whites. Both the Sassaia and the Pico Bianco were excellent. Again both had some skin contact and had a rich colour but Francesco came straight out and said that he doesn't love the term “orange”wine. “There are red and white wines and a little rosé, maybe!” 

And, in general, he stressed the importance of having a “very good quality grape”, otherwise there is the risk of extracting “bad things”. “In the glass I want to feel the grape and the soil.”

One of my favourite wines of the past few months has been the Terra di Pietra, Valpolicella “Piccola Peste” and the 2015, introduced by Dario, was next. “Valpolicella is quite diverse and this comes from the land of rocks, a relatively new estate that produces good vintage after good vintage. They make simple easy-drinking reds, the spirit of Valpolicella. The classic varieties, made simply.”

Someone in the audience noted the outstanding purity and Dario was quick to point out that “you lose that purity if you go down the concentration trail” and added that Terra di Pietra “are moving in a beautiful direction”. 

Pascal


Francesco
Francesco’s turn now to show us their “basic red” the Masieiri 2016 (IGT), a blend of Merlot (50%), Grenache (40) and Cabernet sauvignon (10). “It is quite young, the tannins a little aggressive and is not filtered.” I rather enjoyed its fresh fruitiness and hints of spice, the tannins not a problem at all.

Back to Terra di Pietra for the Amarone della Valpolicella “Rosson” 2010, a beautifully coloured wine with excellent acidity. Dario told us it had been made in a quite traditional way, just enough richness and concentration, the final result helped by the addition of some Teroldego (known for its light fresh fruitiness). The fact that it came from a very good vintage also helped! Quite a finalé to an enjoyable and informative afternoon in Ely Place.
The line-ups

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Al Fresco in F-EAST Cork Superb Sage Meal

Al Fresco in F-EAST Cork

Superb Sage Meal
A sharing plate of one of our four starters, Ballycotton Smoked Salmon
Kevin Aherne has some serious form when it comes to an outdoor feast. He has even one or two on board a small boat. Tuesday's outdoor event though was in the much more stable, much more comfortable courtyard at Sage, his Midleton restaurant famous for the #12 mile menu!

Of course, the food would be local and Kevin emphasised the importance of provenance as we sat down to eat at the Long Table. As soon as the starters arrived, the oysters, the salmon, the mackerel, the mussels, we were on a roll and total strangers began to chat and enjoy the occasion and the food. 

It reminded me, to a degree, of the supper that often followed a day's threshing back in the day. But we wouldn't have had wine in those days, mostly bottles of stout and other beers. And, of course, it would have been in an open barn or in the farmyard, not under a heated canopy.
The other starters: oyster, mackerel and mussels

No doubt the forty or so of us gathered for this event, the second of FEAST, the newly rebranded food festival in East Cork, were soon in good form, especially after a glass or two of the lovely organic Cava, the Alta Allela, from a family vineyard close to Barcelona. The La Source blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay, another organic wine, was a delight and it accompanied our starters and the Le Caveau import from the Languedoc was an excellent match indeed.

Kevin, Réidin and their team were now busy, working hard to assemble the food for the mains. But there wasn't a problem (not that we noticed!) and soon the large group were tucking into the local duck and beef with the various sauces and side dishes. An amazing display of just how good local produce is once in the proper hands. Again that velvety wine from Portugal was just the job.

Just like the starters, there were four items for dessert, all delicious. Perhaps the highlight though, certainly for those around me, was the Bó Rua mature cheddar from just out the road. Then again was it the Wilkies 64% chocolate delice served as the memorable feast came to a sweet and appropriate conclusion.

Still time to enjoy a visit to FEAST. This Thursday evening, Ballymaloe is the venue for a Seasonal Cocktail and Feast. Tomorrow, take a trip to Rostellan for chocolate, cheese, shellfish, wines, prosecco, teas and hot chocolate in a historic courtyard. Saturday is the main event with demos and stalls all over Midleton. Highlight may well be the restaurant tent with 11 local restaurants serving small dishes for a fiver (max.) and a long table outside. On Sunday, it will be wind-down time in Sage with a #12 mile BBQ in the Courtyard.

Last Tuesday’s FEAST Menu in Sage:

Local man Kevin.
On arrival: Cava Alta Alella, a Brut Nature (biodynamic)

To Start: Ballycotton hot oysters, breadcrumbs, aged cheddar.
Ballycotton smoked salmon.
Pickled and charred Ballycotton mackerel.
Ballycotton mussels and Jameson cream.


La Source, Pays D’Oc 2016 (Vermentino/Chardonnay.


To Savour: East Ferry roast Aylesbury duck, spiced plum sauce.
Beef sirloin (James Walsh, Buckstown), béarnaise.

Pickled beet salad (Joe Burns, Killeagh)
Cauliflower gratin (Joe Burns, Killeagh)
Last of new the new potatoes with gremolata (Staffords, Roche's Point).

Beyra, Douro 2015; Alfrocheiro/Jaen/Tempranillo/Touriga Nacional

To Finish:  Toasted mallow and lemon verbena posset, wild strawberries.
Wilkies 64% organic chocolate delice.
Soft Ardsallagh goats cheese, elderberries.
Bo Rua cheddar, Terry’s honey crackers.

Highbank Orchard organic proper dessert cider.

Posset
See other posts from FEAST 2017

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 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.

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.