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

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

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.

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!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Perfect Serve. Ferrit & Lee on Distillery Walk.

The Perfect Serve.

Ferrit & Lee on Distillery Walk.
Feather-blade perfection

It is a bright and lively room. No gourmet gravitas here. But Ferrit and Lee know their food and produced evidence aplenty at Wednesday night’s A Taste of East Cork 2017, one of the events of the current FEAST Festival in the area.

The FEAST emphasis is very much on local. Ardsallagh, Jameson, Ballycotton, Leamlara, Jim Crowley, Hegarty’s Cheese, Rostellan Chocolate, are all name-checked on the menu (below). I’ve often maintained that the small things on the menu, in the meal, can shine a light. And so it was here.

Take the crumble, for instance, the foraged berries in particular. What a splendid burst of juice and flavour! It immediately reminded me of picking a few blackberries at the edge of a warm Rougrane cornfield. Local and brilliant. Not flown in from Guatemala or Mexico.

Staying in the hedgerow. How about that elderberry jus with Jim Crowley’s feather-blade? Absolutely outstanding. And the humble mackerel was the highlight of one of the early dishes. Maybe not so humble anymore. They told me here they are scarce this year confirming what Bayview chef Ciaran Scully mentioned a couple of weeks back.

But back to the meal itself in a full and buzzing restaurant, previously known and loved as Raymond’s and now taken over by former employees Pat Ferrit and Stephen Lee. They have a welcoming crew out-front also, mixing East Cork smiles and chat with a calm efficiency throughout a busy evening.

The whiskey, ginger and lime cured salmon, with local crab and pickled fennel, was the perfect Jameson serve. The Ardsallagh cheese, an East Cork food icon at this stage, was perfect too with the honey and lime while the beetroot relish added a wee bit of piquancy.
Ardsallagh cheese

And then came that marvellous mackerel with a delicious roast beetroot (another humble ingredient that has been “rediscovered” in recent years); great too to see the Leamlara micro greens making yet another appearance on local menus.

Oh, forgot to mention, there were two glasses of wine including in the meal, both from Liberty Wines and both made by New Zealander Graeme Paul in the Languedoc in the south of France. We started with his white, the Baron de Badassiere Sauvignon Blanc 2015. This was superb and Paul is in danger of putting some of his fellow Kiwis out of business with this quality. And that standard was maintained with the red, a fruity and spicy Baron de Badassiere Syrah 2016.

The feather-blade is by now quite popular in the Cork area and Ferrit and Lee’s version is in the very top rank, so tender and tasty. That shallot added a sweetness to the dish and the jus crowned it. That little croquet by the way, with Hegarty’s famous cheddar, also played a delicious supporting role.
Salmon and crab

And then not one but three desserts. The crumble, with those berries and the judicious use of ginger-nut, was more or less perfect and the Jameson panna cotta was pleasurably dispatched. I kept the chocolate dark and handsome, ’til last, leaving me looking forward to more good things to come from the Rostellan producer.

By the way, if you are free this Friday evening, a FEAST event is taken place in the courtyard of the chocolate shop in Rostellan. Lobster and prosecco, and chocolate of course, are on the menu.  Ferrit & Lee will be one of eleven local restaurants in the big tent as the festival reaches a climax in the streets of Midleton tomorrow (Saturday). All the details here

A Taste of East Cork 2017

Jameson, Ginger and Line Cured salmon, Ballycotton Crab cake and pickled fennel.

Honey and Lemon Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese Bon Bons, Beetroot relish and bacon.

Pan-fried Ballycotton mackerel, roast beetroot and Leamlara Micro Greens.

James marinated Jim Crowley’s feather-blade of Beef, caramelised shallot, carrots, Hegarty’s Smoked Cheddar croquette and elderberry jus.

A trio of desserts: Apple and foraged blackberry ginger-nut crumble; Rostellan dark chocolate mousse; Jameson Irish Coffee Panna Cotta.

See other posts from FEAST 2017

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.

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!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s

Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s
Three very young oils

Bradley’s of North Main Street, Cork, are well known for their selection of fine wines. And, where there’s wine, there’s olive oil. Indeed, quite a few of the oils available here are made by top wine-makers including a few from Tuscany and Spain’s Torres.

Speaking of Tuscany, a wine and olive oil producer there once told me that the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked grapes. In his place, it was done in the cool of the night as the Olive Press was too hot during the day, which it was. I tried it and you could hardly stand there for a minute.

He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that the oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.

Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows. 

The one in 1985 was a disaster. The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took all of ten years to get a good crop again. So the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event. It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and they always cook with good oil. 

Fontodi Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a richly coloured oil from Tuscany, very delicately balanced. Fine aromas of artichoke leaf and an elegant peppery flavour come together in a fragrant lingering finish. The organically raised olives are picked by hand and carefully pressed the same day in order
to keep the fragrance. Read more here.  

The River Cafe I Canonici 2016 EVOO: also from Tuscany, this is an almost luminous green in its youth (as many of them are!); this bright oil is fragrant and very spicy with lovely fresh grass and green olive characters. Clean and bright it has tremendous depth of flavour right through to the long peppery finish.

Capazzana 2016: Organic and another Tuscan. Quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.

Alpha Zeta 2015 EVOO: Golden-green in colour with a light delicate perfume of fresh grass and ripe olives. Light and delicate on the palate with a fresh grassy taste, medium body and a smooth ripe finish. Excellent for drizzling over more delicate dishes. This comes from the hills outside Verona where cool breezes come down from the Dolomites.

Torres Silencio: Sourced from the estate of Los Desterrados in Lleida, Catalonia, from centuries-old Arbequina olive trees. The olives are harvested and cold-pressed on the same day, and only the oil from the first pressing is used. The resulting extra virgin olive oil is rounded and well balanced with aromas of artichoke, unripened almonds and fresh-cut grass. And Miguel A. Torres Senior requests it at every meal when travelling (where available). 

West Cork Olives: Bradley’s also carry oils marketed by West Cork Olives and imported from Spain and Greece. I haven’t had a chance to sample these yet.

Suggestions On Olive Oil In Cooking

1 - How about delicious Pumpkin and Farro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and a good oil?

2 - A lovely plateful of local scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread (with oil on it) with these two dishes. 

3 - Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with red wine (Italian or Spanish!), thyme, garlic and black pepper, served with braised winter greens and an olive oil potato mash.  

If you prefer fish why not try this Fenn’s Quay dish that I came across a few years back: Grilled plaice, with braised leeks, olive oil crushed potatoes and onion puree. The first three dishes were served at an olive oil tasting in Ballymaloe.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting. Classics and New Wave Impress

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting
Classics and New Wave Impress
I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended!

Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA, said:  We hope this new section adds an extra dimension to this year’s event. Having looked at the nominations, these wines really do highlight the diversity of Australian wine and reinforce the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer.” 

The promise, and it was kept, was that “great classic wines from the likes of Cullen, Clonakilla and Bindi will be on show, plus new-wave artisans like Jauma, Ochota Barrels and Gentle Folk”.  

So the signs were good as I arrived at the Royal Hibernian Academy and sought out the Focus Table. And I made a sparkling start with the House of Arras ‘EJ Carr Late Disgorged’ Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003. Fresh and vibrant, an amazing sparkling wine.

Then followed a string of young Rieslings, including the Josef Chromy ‘SGR’ Tasmania Riesling 2016 with an ABV of just 7.5% and a delicious Skillogalee Clare Valley 2015 by Dave Palmer, “mineral, dry and crisp” as noted by Gavin Ryan from Kinsale’s Black Pig who selected it.

The Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon 2011  was superb, “intense and complex, but elegant and refreshing” noted Martin Moran. It was all good around here and the standard was maintained by the Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner, the grapes picked in the cold of the night to retain flavour and freshness.

Maximum drinkability and enjoyment is the aim of the producers of the Gentle Folk Forest Range Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015, the first of the reds and the first of Ballymaloe's Colm McCan’s selections for the table. I reckon the producers got it right as did Colm.

There were quite a few Syrah and Shiraz at this point, all very good including the Payton and Jones ‘Major Kong - Planet of the Grapes’, Yarra Valley 2015. My favourite though was the blend: De Bortoli ‘La Boheme Act Four’ Yarra Valley Syrah Gamay, imported by Febvre and a Liam Campbell pick. 

The Colm McCann selection, Jauma ‘Audrey’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, is produced biologically and intrigued with its “cider-y” notes.

Some excellent Grenache on the table too including Ochota Barrels ‘The Fugazi Vineyard’ McLaren Vale 2015, the Willunga 100 McLaren Vale 2015, and the Cirillo ‘1850 Ancestor Wine’ Barossa Valley 2011. The Cirillo was chosen by Ian Brosnan of Ely and he admitted that, until recently, he had never tasted Grenache of this quality.

And quality too, at a very good price, in Kevin O’Brien’s Kangarilla Road Terzetto, a McLaren Vale blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo. It is a favourite of mine, was chosen by Liam Campbell and is available at O’Brien Wines.

Perhaps the best blend of the lot came towards the end: the Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ Margaret River Cabernet Blend 2014, imported by Liberty Wines and nominated by Gavin Ryan who has fond memories of enjoying it at a full moon harvest party in Margaret River.

Time then for a chat at the Liberty Wines stand with Garry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates and a tasting of their sweet wines before heading into the general wine area.

Here we soon met up with Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines who import the Kelly’s Patch range to Ireland and we hope to link up in Cork soon and find out more about the company.

Having concentrated on the Focus Table we missed out on many stalls, including McGuigan where they were tasting the impressive Founder’s Series that I enjoyed in Kinsale a few months ago.

Hard to go wrong with the Deakin Estate and Katnook Wines that are imported by Findlater (and available in Cork in Bradley's and other outlets). 

Next time I'm up in North Main Street, I'll be looking at some of the Penfolds that Laura introduced me to at the Findlater’s stand. Both the Bin 2 South Australian Shiraz Mataro (that is what the Australians call Mourvedre) 2012 and the Bin 28 South Australian Shiraz 2011 impressed.

With Marcus (Liberty Wines)
Been writing this and wondering how the Australians get to name their wines. Heard a good story from Michael at the Lanchester Wines stand as we sampled the excellent ‘Don’t Tell Gary’, a McPherson Shiraz 2015 from the Strathbogie Ranges. 

This wine is a labour of love - one the accountants didn't know about.  In 2014, winemaker Jo Nash discovered an exceptional parcel of Shiraz from the Grampians which she gently crushed, then tucked away in some ridiculously expensive French oak barrels to age for 12 months.  

All the while, she was urging her fellow employees: “Don’t tell Gary”. No one did tell Gary, her boss. Now the wine speaks for itself - minimal intervention, purity of fruit, Shiraz at its best and Jo has been given free rein to investigate other possibilities in the vineyard!
John (left) and Michael at Lanchester Wines
See also earlier article on great selection of fortified sweet wines at the tasting here.