Showing posts with label Madeira. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Madeira. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Port, Sherry, Madeira. All treasures. Each superb in its own right.

Port, Sherry, Madeira. All treasures. Each superb in its own right.
The Fortified Wines Event at Ballymaloe LitFest.

Mightn't look like it but they are singing from the same hymn sheet!
Raymond Blake (left) and Tom Doorley in the Tractor Shed

Wine writer Raymond Blake, a convert in the cathedrals of Jerez, led the Fortified Wine Choir that  Ballymaloe Colm McCan assembled for Sunday’s event in the Drinks Theatre. Blake urged us all to join the crusade and keep these “legacy wines” in a strong position, warning that if they are lost, they will never again appear, as the unique circumstances that gave rise to their creation will never be repeated. “These are treasures”, Raymond preached. “And each is superb in its own right.”

The treasures for tasting in the converted Tractor Shed included two white wines, an En Rama Fino by Gonzalez Byass and a Dry White Port from Taylor’s. Later came the two reds: the Madeira and a Taylor’s Tawny. The other members of the choir were Leslie Williams, Chris Forbes, Tom Doorley and John Wilson and they all sang from the same hymn sheet urging us, among other things, to serve these fortifieds in a wine glass, underlining that these are real wines.

“En Rama is becoming popular,” said Raymond. “But it is a bit untamed, Fino with knobs on.” Tom Doorley then revealed that his big love is Sherry. “It is great value. I also love the huge range of styles and love the austerity of dry sherry."

John Wilson said these are  the “most man-made” wine of all. “They require so much intervention. They are incredible, precise, with complex flavours - savour slowly. My personal measure of Fino is a bottle - great with tapas, Iberico ham, almonds, Manchego cheese.”
The panel in the tractor shed
Leslie Williams said En Rama is sherry in the raw, unfiltered and he sometimes matches it with Fish and Chips! Chris Forbes, for a Port man, was generous: “Sherry is one of the wonderful wines, amazing value. Great poured into soup, a use also for White Port. Both are made with indigenous grapes. They are really wines.”  

He said Taylors make two of the three styles of White Port, a dry and an extra dry. Five or six varieties of grapes are used and suggested chilling it as an aperitif and serving with tonic and ice.

Raymond loves his Madeira,such a pure wine, "even the sweetest has acidity through it" and it can be measured in centuries, the intensity of it, great flavour, super stuff. Leslie too adores it and says the opened bottle may be kept for quite a while (not not as long as his mother kept the Bristol Cream!). John Wilson is another convert. Of the Barbeito that we were sampling, he purred: “This is so good, it almost hurts, a classic Madeira."
The Fortifieds

Now we were on to the 10 Year Old Tawny by Taylor’s. John Wilson suggested that this was perhaps the future of Port and was bringing people back to the drink. Chris agreed saying Tawny is the current hero. “There has been a 72% growth in the last ten years, absolutely phenomenal. Importantly, at 25 euro, it is affordable.
He suggested serving it slightly chilled and acknowledged a suggestion that it was great with cheese. “But not just with cheese. Try tarte tatins, pour it over vanilla ice-cream. Once opened, it should last for no more than two or three hours, but it will keep for four to six weeks!”

Chris, who was quite busy over the weekend, rounded off this informal and informative event with a great description of the foot treading (bunions and boils and all), a practice that is still current in Taylor’s. They feel it does the job better, is easier on the grapes. Mechanical methods, for instance, can break the pip and release unwanted elements, the human foot does not break the pip.

So now we've come from the cathedrals of the bodegas to the down to earth practices of the lagaar. Fascinating stories behind all of these fortified wines brought to us by a terrific panel and also via the four superb examples in our glasses. Here’s to the winemakers of the past and the pleasures of the present, and hopefully, if enough of you join the crusade, of the future. Sláinte.

Chris Forbes (Taylor's Port) and, right,
Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Cracking Madeira and So Much More at Liberty Tasting

Liberty Tasting
“Before you go, you have to try the Justino’s Madeira Colheita 1996,” she said.

I saw she was serious so, before she’d make a song and dance about it, I thought I’d better try the wine. Oh, it was fabulous. A real star of the wine world, just like Miss Susan Boyle  who gave me the tip! 

There were many stars on view, thanks to Gerry Gunnigan and Liberty Ireland, over 200 wines I think, from well established areas such as France and Italy to newcomers such as Armenia. And there was quite an impressively large attendance as well at Fallon & Byrne yesterday.

Ian Brosnan (left) of ely Wine Bars
with Yours Truly.
Started off with a couple of Grüner Veltliner from Austria. The 2013 Lois was fresh and fruity as you might expect (you’d certainly expect so if you were getting it in one of heurigers on the outskirts of Vienna). But the more serious Loimer 2012 Kamptal, from one estate, was the better of the two.

New Zealand also had a couple of GV’s on show and Tinpot Hut’s 2012 McKee Vineyard effort wasn't a million miles away from the Lois. The Paddler’s 2012 Marlborough was really engaging, loved its fruit and good length.

Now it was time to compare a couple of Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon in what turned out to be a Bordeaux v Margaret River contest. Great to meet Emma Cullen again as she poured her 2011 Mangan River. Just one word here: superb!

France would have to go some here to match that and the Chateau de Rayne Vigneac took up the challenge with its 2012 Le Sec Bordeaux Blanc, a wine new to the Liberty portfolio. There was a distinct aroma of celery, unusual, but it is quite a fine smooth wine and refreshing, though without having quite the same heft as the Cullen bottle.

Emma was also showing a smashing new red, the Margaret River Mangan Vineyard 2012 Malbec/Petit Verdot/Merlot. Malbec has the lead role here with 54% while the Petit Verdot has 29%. It is an exciting blend and an excellent wine. Look out for it!

Bordeaux would come into its own with the reds and we had a few good ones in a row. Started off with the basic Bordeaux Superieur (2011) from Chateau de Mahon Laville, an excellent effort at that level, full of flavours and with a good finish.

The standard raised another notch with the Château Tour de Capet, St Emilion Grand Cru 2010, a superb wine. That got a close run from Clos St Vincent, also a St Emilion Grand Cru, also 2010. This too was very good but my vote goes to Tour de Capet. Must call to one or two of those when I’m in the area in June!

Tried some very good Italians also, including two gorgeous Amarones, but Bordeaux had stolen a march and we left it that. Well, not quite. We sipped happily on the Valdespino NV Manzanilla Deliciosa before ending on another high with that gorgeous Madeira*.

*Gerry told me that Cork readers will find the Madeira at O’Brien’s in Douglas.

My 44 Hours in Dublin. Accommodation, lunch, dinner, more. Details all here