Showing posts with label Liberty Wines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liberty Wines. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Couple of Portuguese White Stars, including an Alvarinho Vinho Verde


Portuguese wines are on the rise. 

And not just the red ones. The whites too can be remarkable and we have two gems for you to try including a Vinho Verde - remember that little sparkler? I've noticed these excellent wines coming more and more onto the shelves over the past five or six years. I'm not the only one - check out the quotes below. Very good value a few years ago. That could be changing, but still good value. Buy now and try! 

Vinho Verde is one of Portugal’s most distinctive wines. Jancis Robinson. More here.

It's high time Portuguese wines were given the same respect we grant French, Spanish and Italian ones. The Guardian here.

Wines from Portugal have been enjoying impressive growth worldwide thanks to improvements in both the quality and range of wines over recent years. The Buyer Here

Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €24.99 Bradley’s Cork; wineonline.ie

Did you drink Vinho Verde back in the day? It had a little bit of fizz and was low in alcohol. Then, when we were also drinking Blue Nun and Black Tower and dipping our tongues in hostile foreign languages, we thought Vinho Verde meant green wine; it means young wine. 

And there is no spritziness here, natural or induced, but its absence is no loss at all. This Morgadio da Torre is far from the simple sparkler of our experience. More than likely that earlier Vinho Verde wasn’t made from Alvarinho (Albarino in Spain) as this one is.  

Alvarinho, often compared to Riesling, is one of seven grapes permitted in the DO; they regard it as “the most noble” grape of the region and is usually that bit more expensive. Other grapes that may be used are Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura. 

This dry aromatic Morgadio is certainly a wine of distinction, very enjoyable with fish and seafood and also as an aperitif. Colour is a light straw, very clear. There are fairly intense tropical fruit aromas. Fruity, fresh, mineral, are the first sensations noted on the palate. The fruit is pure and persistent, vibrant notes of lime and citrus prominent, the aromas at play all the way through to the very dry finish. The fact that it was a very good year in the area helped and this is Very Highly Recommended.


Casa Ferreirinha “Papa Figos” Vinho Branco Douro (DOC) 2016, 12.5%, €18.99 winesonline.ie 

Lots of different grapes in most Portuguese blends and this is no exception with Rabigato (55%), Viosinho (15), Arinto/Pedernã (15), Códega (10), and Moscatel (5) all in the mix here.

It has a pale straw colour. Attractive aromas, yellow fruit and floral notes. That attractive tropical fruit again features on the palate and is persistent, good acidity too. And an excellent finish as well on this fresh and vibrant wine. Very Highly Recommended.

After fermentation, roughly 20% of the batch was matured in used French oak barrels for three months; the remaining 80% was kept in stainless steel tanks. The wine went through careful fining and filtering before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Feast of Small Plates at Ferrit & Lee. The Dynamic Duo of Distillery Walk.


A Feast of Small Plates at Ferrit & Lee

The Dynamic Duo of Distillery Walk.
Salud
Small was beautiful at Ferrit & Lee on Wednesday night when the Midleton restaurant used local produce to skilfully illustrate the theme over three plates, Chefs and owners, Pat Ferriter and Stephen Lee humbly took a bow at the end of delicious meal, enhanced by wines from Liberty Wines and served with a smile by the totally efficient front of house team.

It was a full house when we started at 7.30 with a welcoming glass of the very drinkable House Sangria. In keeping with the festive aspect of the event, Clare and her crew were quite flexible with the wines. If you didn’t fancy the Sangria, you were offered wine instead and if if didn’t like white wine, you were offered red (and vice versa).

The first plate had four elements. The crisp Calamari rings were cooked to perfection and came with a very impressive spiced tomato sauce. The Ballycotton Crab with Jameson, Ginger and lime cured salmon was served on lettuce leaves, another well considered treat.


Plate 1
They kept coming. The Ardsallagh Feta was accompanied by the most flavoursome Beetroot tartare. And then the Beef and Organic Ballinrostig Smoked Cheese croquette looked small but tasted big, terrific beef and a major contribution from the local cheese.

Soon we were tucking into Plate No. 2, again with four offerings. The first, well the first I tried, was the East Ferry Farm Confit Duck Leg Spring Roll. Don’t think you’ll find better. Courgettes are very much in season as I know from the back garden and they featured with Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese, Red Pepper and Pine Nut Bruschetta in a delicious combination. Jane Murphy (and her goats) has to be one of our top food heroes!

The second quartet

Next up was the Ballycotton Smoked Mackerel and Horseradish Croquette. The flavour here was outstanding. And we finished the savoury bites with the excellent Ham-hock and Rosscarbery Black Pudding Terrine, served with an outstanding Apple Chutney.

It was all good really and the high standard was  maintained right to the sweet end, three not-so-mini desserts! I began with the Strawberry and Custard Cream Shortbread, a little stack of deliciousness.  The Lemon Posset with Foraged Blackberry Compote was a lovely combination and that was followed by the knockout Royal Chocolate Mousse with hazelnut praline.
The sweet ones!

Tapas are generally associated with Spain and the country was well represented by the Liberty wines on the night. The white was the Castano organic Macabeo 2017 and the red, also Castano, was an organic Monastrell 2017 and we had started with the Sangria of course. A good start and a good finish and excellent in between. Ferriter and Lee are quite a duo in the kitchen. Catch them at Distillery Walk!

Feast builds up to a major climax this weekend. See the full programme here




Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hard To Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon).


Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon). With France and Croatia meeting in Sunday's World Cup final, I thought I'd sneak in these two excellent wines. Hard to pick a winner! Enjoy the wines. And the match.

Matoševic Alba “Malvasia Istriana” 2016, 13%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This wine, imported by Liberty, is Croatian and comes from the Istrian peninsula, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The grape is Malvazija Istarka - easier to pronounce the version on the label (above). Malvasia  has probably been best described by Oz Clark when he said: “..the thing about Malvasia - it’s not so much a single grape as a whole family”. So you don’t get similar results.

There has been some ageing on fine lees but no oak and the winemaker, Ivica Matoševic, has been called “Croatia’s best winemaker” by no less than Steven Spurrier.

This has a quite light straw colour. It is well scented, white fruit and blossoms, and mineral notes too. Flavours are fresh and concentrated, mouthfeel is smooth (the time on lees has helped), and there is super acidity and a long minerally finish. The very good first impression is maintained and Highly Recommended is the verdict!


Domaine Laguilhon Jurancon sec (AP) 2016, 13%, €19.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This Jurancon is a blend of Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, 50% each. It has spent 9 months on lees “to enrich the palate”. The vineyards, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, are in Monein, and are “known for making richer styles of Jurancon’.

It is a pale yellow with green tints. Scents of white fruits (pears apples), floral notes also. Fresh fruit on the palate, citrus becoming prominent, vivacious acidity, lovely mouthful and a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.

I noted the “sec” on the label. And that reminded me of a visit to the Dordogne. On arrival in Sarlat on our first night, we rushed down to the local Lidl (the only shop open) so stock up. I took charge of the wines and spotted a cardboard box full of Jurancon on the floor . From an earlier holiday in the Pays Basque, I knew this to be a lovely dry white so I grabbed one and put it in the trolley.

But we needn’t have rushed to Lidl as our host plied us with red wine in the gite and the Jurancon was left in the bag. Pulled it out the following day and looked at it. Saw that it was a deep yellow colour. Checked the back and saw the Moelleux word.

Not too impressed. I didn't like sweet wines then, only dry. Still, by this stage, we had plenty in the gîte and said we’d try it as an aperitif, as suggested on the bottle. Love at first taste. Aperitif and also dessert. Can't remember what we had in between. And if you like the Moelleux (don’t think I’ve ever seen one here though), you might like to try the delicious sweet wines from the area (which are regularly featured on restaurant lists in Ireland).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Two Superb Reds. A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.


Two Superb Reds. 
A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.

Jean Foillard Côte du Py Morgon (AOC) 2016, 13%, €35.60 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


Every month in the vineyard, there are decisions to be made, practical crossroads to be negotiated. They concern, for instance, cultivating and fertilising soil, planting, training and pruning vines, and when to begin picking the grapes. But before all that, the vineyard is shaped at a philosophy crossroads. Quantity before quality. Chemical or organic. Fortunately for us, Jean and Agnes Foillard gave the thumbs down to the industrial and choose the natural organic route. Their healthy and beautiful wines are their reward and our pleasure.

In Morgon, Foillard wines express the terroir like a maestro musician. “The aromatics soar and the texture is silky and fine”. Try it in three movements: Le Classique, Cotes de Py, and Corcelette. Long may the maestro of Morgon play on.

The fruit for our Côte du Py, also known as Le Classique, is grown on a hill that is actually an extinct volcano and is masterfully transformed into a soft delicious vibrant-red wine with superb depth of vivacious flavours and a refreshing acidity. There are cherry and raspberry notes, floral too, in the aromas. On the palate, it is elegant with no shortage of minerality, tannins are a very fine influence here and the finish just goes on and on.

Foillard, a leading natural winemaker, has been described as the master of this hill (Côte de Py) and this stunning 2016 will serve to reinforce that claim. Very Highly Recommended. Give this a few more years and it will be even more rewarding.

There are ten crus in the Beaujolais region and Morgon, as you probably know, is one of them. With the typical acidity, these wines can match a range of foods. One suggestion that I fancy is Moroccan Lamb Tagine with apricot.


Amalaya Gran Corte Barrel Selection, Valle Calchaqui (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €24.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Wine Online

In Salta’s high desert, for centuries farmers made offerings in hope of a miracle for a bountiful harvest. Esperanza por un milagro is on the front label and the miracle has come to pass inside.

This Gran Corte is an amalgam of Malbec (85%), Tannat and Cabernet Franc. Twelve months in oak has added complexity and roundness.

Amalaya is acknowledged as a leading producer in this region. Owned by the Hess family, they are best known for their Malbec and Torrontés and this Gran Corte is their signature wine.

Colour is purple and there are aromas of red and black fruit. A superbly concentrated wine with a wash of spice, complex of flavour with rounded tannins and a long spice-driven finish. The winery, by the way, makes only blends and this man-made Malbec miracle is Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dining Under A Gilded Dome At Killarney’s The Great Southern


Dining Under A Gilded Dome At Killarney’s Great Southern
The Garden Room (pic: Great Southern)


No doubt about it. You will look up, more than once, when you dine in the Garden Room, the principal restaurant in Killarney’s Great Southern Hotel. It is indeed a superb room in the old hotel, comfortably furnished and beautifully decorated and that high dome, with all that gold leaf, is eye-catching.

The food, by the way, isn't half-bad either, well presented too and served with a smile. Here you start with some of their breads (no charge) and a flavoursome amuse bouche. 
Pork Belly starter

Fancy a wine or a drink from the bar? No problem. Our wine, from the Duoro, was the Ferreirinha Esteva (30.00), a red blend, perfumed and intense, smooth on the palate, long and elegant on the finish, welcome at the table!

Cordal goats cheese is really making its mark in Kerry and in the Garden Room it is served, as a starter, in a lovely mousse with beetroot, saffron pears, candied walnuts, red cabbage purée and focaccia crisp.

Another impressive starter was the Lime and Chilli Crab Tian which consists of Crab Claws, red pepper coulis, and wasabi Mayo while another of the party was well pleased with the Wild Atlantic Seafood Chowder. A sorbet follows.

One of our group goes for the char-grilled sirloin of local Hereford Beef, served with shallot, mushroom, horseradish crème fraiche and Port Jus is your choice. Another picks the Ring of Kerry lamb.

The Carrigcleena Duck Breast may be incorrectly spelled on the menu but the dish itself is top of the class. Pan seared, it is served as a main course with carrot and ginger purée, curly kale, grilled asparagus, and sultan jus.

More top class poultry in the Supreme of Chicken (from Manor Farm), with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan farce, lentils, pancetta crisp, roasted garlic jus. Four punters well satisfied, so satisfied in fact that nobody orders dessert!
Cordal cheese starter

I must admit I was rather tempted myself, especially by the day’s special: the Steamed Orange pudding - here the specials are conveniently listed on the menu. The Garden Rooms certainly support local and that is underlined by an excellent cheeseboard that includes Gubbeen, Cordal, Knockatee, and Cooleeny.

We were ordering from the Table d’Hote dinner, two courses for €36.50. So time to pay up and take a final look up at that amazing dome and head out through the Grand Foyer complete with grand piano.
Lamb

“Spectacular architecture melded with effortless service and genuine hospitality has made Great Southern Killarney an iconic retreat for over 160 years.” It has had its ups and downs in those years, but it seems to me that it is now, as part of the Hayfield family, once again on the up. Long may it continue.

Grey outside; gold inside!


Monday, April 30, 2018

Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.


Bernardo (via Wikipedia)
Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.

Clos des Fous and Chateau Los Boldos are two of the leading producers in the Rapel Valley, south of Santiago in Chile. The area, with its dry warm climate, is regarded as ideal for growing Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The Rapel has two main valleys, the Cachapoal and the better known Colchaqua.

Cachapoal Province is one of three provinces of the central Chilean region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins Region. Bernardo (left), who played a leading role in the liberation fight, became the first Head of State of Chile in 1818. And yes, there was of course an Irish background. The O'Higgins family lost their lands under the English Crown in the 17th century and left to exile in Spain from where some of them made their way to Chile.

Chateau Los Boldos “Tradition Réserve” Carmenere 2016, Cachapoal (Chile), 13.5%, €15.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s, Wines Online


Los Boldos grow all their own fruit, in vineyards that benefit from a Mediterranean climate, so control everything from grape to bottle. Sixty per cent spends six months in French and American oak “to soften tannins and add complexity”.

Quite a deep red. There are rich cherry aromas, a promise of good things to come. And come they do on the palate, delicious sweet fruit flavours and spice, a lush mouthfeel thanks to its rounded texture. Very appealing overall and Very Highly Recommended. Well priced also.

By the way, Los Boldos also do other single varietals in the “Tradition Réserve” series including Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Worth seeking out, I reckon. The emphasis in this French pioneered now Portuguese owned winery is on higher-end wines from their old vines. Its signature wines are the Grand Cru.


Clos des Fous Chardonnay, Locura 1 Terroir de los Andes Chile 2015, 14%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

Quite a mission statement from Cussen, Leyton, Massoc and Parra, the quartet behind this wine: “This is an unique and groundbreaking project based on a delicate and novel terroir selection. Following the Burgundy philosophy, our focus is to achieve wines with minimal intervention letting the terroir express itself.”

A few details on the wine itself. Colour is a very light straw. Fairly intense aromas (white fruits), legs slow. Excellent buttery mouthfeel, rich and full in the mouth, long and satisfying mineral finish. The four seem to have indeed followed the Burgundian way here, seem to have succeeded and the verdict is Very Highly Recommended.

This unoaked Chardonnay is listed as one of the top ten chardonnay in South America by Wines of South America. They also call Pedro Parra, one of the four owners, a “terroir whisperer”. 

Their terroir approach plus their organic fruit and minimalist techniques are lauded, “no safety nets” such as fining or filtering. The wines, including this one, have many admirers, among them Jancis Robinson here. 

Wondering about the name of the wine? Clos des Fous means enclosure of the madmen while Locura also hints at a crazy condition. Enjoy!



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Three Well Recommended Wines from South America

Three Well Recommended from South America

Altos Las Hormigas Valle de Uco Mendoza Argentina Malbec Terroir 2015, 13.5%, €25.99 Wine Online

The ants (Las Hormigas) love newly planted vines. But the owners didn't want to poison them, after all the ants were the original inhabitants; they lived with the nuisance and then found that the ants had no interest in the vines once they began to grow. (Source: Wines of South America by Evan Goldstein.)

The fruit for this one hundred per cent Malbec comes from the Valle de Uco, an area known for its fine fruit and floral bouquets. It can age for up to five years. Fifty per cent is aged in cement piletas (pools) for 12 months, 25% in stainless steel vats and 25% in untoasted large oak foudres.

Colour is a mid to deep ruby and there are aromas of plum and cherry. So smooth, fresh and spicy too, the perfect introduction. And so it progresses harmoniously across the palate, the lively acidity playing its part, all the way through to the long finalé. This is a marvellous Malbec, from producers well known for their Malbec, and is Very Highly Recommended.

Montes Alpha Malbec Valle de Colchagua (DO) 2013, 14.5%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Wine Online

This wine comes from the Colchagua Valley in the centre of Chile. The Montes vines are irrigated under a Sustainable Dry Farming regime that has led to a 65% decrease in their water footprint.

It has a dark ruby robe, the legs slow to clear. The aromatic nose gives ripe dark fruits, toasty notes, hints of vanilla too. Palate is quite complex and intense, plums now prominent in the flavours, sweet notes too, though more or less well balanced. From a dry and sunny terroir, with outstanding fruit and aromas, this is a great example of Malbec from Chile and Very Highly Recommended.

According to the Wines of South America, Montes (founded in 1988) is credited for its pioneering work in the Colchagua’s Apalta district, the first to realise its potential as one of the best locations for red wines in Chile and “is among the most important wineries in Chile today”. As a further endorsement, their Alpha “M” (very limited production) is listed as one of the top 20 South American wines to drink before you die.

Amalaya Blanco de Corte, Valle Calchagui Argentina 2017, 12.5%, €17.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s CorkWine Online


Amalaya make only blends and this is a mix of Torrontés (85%) and Riesling (15%). In Salta’s high dessert, Amalaya vineyards begin a mile above sea level and are well known for Torrontés and Malbec. The journey up “is not for the faint-hearted” according to Wines of South America, who recommend Amalaya as a top producer in the area.

Colour is a mid-straw yellow. White fruits feature in the moderately intense aromas. Beautiful fresh flavours, grapefruit and citrus, on the silky smooth palate, the crisp acidity provides balance. Fruit stays to the finish where mineral notes are much in evidence. Highly Recommended.

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. 


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.



Sunday, December 17, 2017

Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas

Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas

The Tinpot Hut winery is named after the huts, famed in New Zealand sheep country, huts used by musterers as they round up the sheep who have spent Spring to Autumn in the hills. Fiona Turner, a regular visitor to Ireland, is the winemaker.

Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir Marlborough (New Zealand) 2015, 13%, RRP € 24.99 Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

Colour is Pale ruby. There are plum and cherry aromas, touch of blackberry too. Same fruit on the smooth palate, spice well in the mix too, soft and silky tannins and well balanced through to a long finish. Hard to top this one. Very Highly Recommended.

Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon blanc 2016, 13.5%, €19.99 Stockists: Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Myles Creek; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

Another beauty from Fiona Turner and Tinpot Hut. Colour is light straw with green tints. Vibrant aromas of melon, pineapple, lemongrass, a drift of herb. On the palate, exotic fruit flavours, citrus also in there, make it quite a flavourful experience, but with a lively acidity, and this elegant wine continues in balance as it heads to a long finalé.

Fiona is proud of her well earned Sustainable Winegrowing logo and proud too of this Sauvignon that has been declared “exceptional” by Decanter who also awarded it 98 points. Very Highly Recommended.

Tinpot Hut wines are imported here by Liberty Wines and they also include Pinot Gris, Syrah, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner in their portfolio.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Superb Red and White from Portugal

Quinta dos Carvalhais Encruzado DAO (DOC) 2015, 13%, €29.99 Wine Online
Okay, first things first. Portuguese grapes aren't that well known individually so Encruzado is the grape here, “potentially the best white grape of the DAO” according to Grapes and Wine. Barrel fermentation and lees stirring help bring out the character and “it is suited by a little oak ageing” as we see here. Potential is being realised methinks by Sogrape Vinhos, the producers of our Very Highly Recommended bottle, imported by Liberty Wines.

It is not a blend and this 100% Encruzado has a light straw colour. Quite a melange in the bouquet: white fruit, floral, spicy, oak traces too. It is full bodied, fresh and fruity, oak notes too, well balanced with a lively acidity. A harmonious combination indeed with a long creamy and elegant finish with those lovely aromas hanging on to the end. 

Try with more elaborate fish and seafood dishes, smoked fish too, white meats, and some cheeses.

Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Douro (DOC) 2015, 14%, €19.99 JJ O’Driscoll (Cork), Wine Online.
This excellent red, also by Sogrape Vinhos, is a blend as most Portuguese reds are. The dominant grape is Touriga Franca and also included are Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (better know to us as Tempranillo). Pair with beef, pasta, lamb and game.


Colour is a deep ruby and legs are slow to clear. Aromas are complex, red and black berries, floral and herbal elements too. It is smooth and rich on the palate with fresh fruit flavours, magnificent depth, rounded tannins, peppery too, subtle oak in the background. Quite a lot going on but well balanced. The finish is smooth, dry and long. Very Highly Recommended.