Showing posts with label Marks and Spencer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marks and Spencer. Show all posts

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Georgian Wine. How The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge


Georgian Wine. The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge

Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli Kakheti (Georgia) 2016, 12.5%, €22.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

When American artist John Wurdeman, then working in the Soviet Union, was persuaded by a new-found friend to get involved in a Georgian winery, they were thinking of using oak, like some were. But the local bishop put them on the right wine road: “Stay with tradition. Keep true to the Georgian way. Use no additives. Use qvevri. Have faith.”

And so John Wurdeman and Gela Patalashvili now use the qvevri and, “with love and awe”, make their wine as it has been made here for 8,000 years. “Our natural wines are made entirely in qvevri inside the womb of the earth.” A qvevri is huge earthenware vat sunk into the ground and used for fermentation and storage. Another difference is that the Georgians use skin contact extensively, hence the deep colours of the two wines in this post.

“At Pheasant's Tears we believe our primary task is to grow endemic grapes from unparalleled Georgian soil, harvest that fruit and then preserve it as wine using traditional Georgian methods. 

In working this close to the vine we experience both heartache and celebration; yet every year there is a new harvest to cultivate, and the eventual discovery of a wine of untold beauty.” This is one of the beauties!

To read more on the amazing story, including how the Georgian winemakers survived a long period of Soviet industrialisation of the vineyard and the winery, get your hands on “For the love of wine” by Alice Feiring. And to understand better the philosophy behind the men and women of Pheasant’s Tears check out this YouTube video

And so back to our bottle made from the white wine grape Rkatsiteli where the skin contact helps give this amazing amber colour. Nose is intense with a waft of honey. The palate is rich with range peel and dried apricot and walnut notes also. It is full-bodied and the noticeably dry finish is persistent, with tannins kissing the lips.

It is versatile with food (ask the Georgians who typically allow three litres per person at their legendary feasts). We tried it with Chicken Piri Piri (with a courgette and tomato accompaniment from the garden). Later, with a bowl of unadorned strawberries. And later again with a slice of courgette (a bit of a glut at present!) and walnut cake.

Made with love and awe. We drank it with love and awe. Very Highly Recommended.

Tbilvino Marks & Spencer Rkatsiteli Qvevri, Kakheti, Georgia, 2015, 12% abv, €15.00 (on offer at the time) M & S.

Okay, so you need a bit of translation. Tbilvino are the producers for Marks and Spencer who blended it. Rkatsiteli is the grape and the Qvevri is the Georgina underground vessel (an amphora) in which the wine has matured. Kakheti is the wine region in the far east of the country.

The company story begins in the twentieth century, in 1962, when one of the most powerful wine factories in the Soviet Union was launched in Tbilisi. For years the factory remained an essential part of the Soviet winemaking industry (nine of ten bottles of wine sold inside the country and abroad were made in this factory). The emphasis was more on quantity than quality until the early 1990s when it emerged as an independent wine company with a new philosophy.

M & S say this orange wine from the white Rkatsiteli grapes is made in the traditional manner. The grape juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in the Qvevri for several months developing the wine’s rich and unique style. So unique that wine beginners may not like it, so be careful who you offer it to.

The colour, some say orange, some amber, is striking in the glass and the rich aromas have hints of honey. Rich and deep too on the palate, dried fruit (apricot), some spice too, nutty notes also in the mix. And a good finish as well. Highly Recommended. I think food is an essential with this one and M&S recommend pairing it with mixed seafood platters, and spicy dishes such as chicken tagine or tandoori chicken.


See previous post on orange wines here

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!
Ragondin

Les Closiers Lirac (AC) 2015, 14%, €15.00 Marks and Spencer.

On the Rhone, a town called Roquemaure,
Drank some Lirac in a noisy bar.
After lunch of Poulet l’Estragon,
On the river, I saw the Ragondin.

Lirac, on the right bank, is, since 1946, one of the 16 crus of the Rhone and Roquemaure is one of the towns in the appellation. Marks and Spencer winemaker Belinda Kleinig says this is “an opulent example” made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault and recommends trying it with steak and sausages. One thing that struck me while drinking it, not on the Rhone but here in Cork, was the reliability of Rhone wine.

Decanter are also impressed and made it a winner in last year’s awards saying it was exquisite. “Lirac is often overshadowed by better known rivals but is a source of outstanding value wines.”

This has a beautiful deep ruby colour. Aromas are also enticing, mainly black fruit with spice and herb notes. Not at all shy on the palate, generous, well balanced. Try this lovely Lirac with red meats and game and you may well become a fan as did Avignon popes John Paul XX11 and Clement V. Blessed be the winemakers. An excellent drop and Very Highly Recommended. Very good value too. 

And the Ragondin? A relatively recent import, a kind of a cross between a rat and an otter, from South America. The French don't have much regard for them; you can't eat them, though one lady told me that someone had made a passable paté.

La Fête du Baiser ("festival of the kiss") is a festival celebrated in Roquemaure on the Saturday after St. Valentine's Day. The town also claims to be the place where Hannibal and his army (including elephants) crossed the Rhone in 218BC.

Torbreck Marananga Dam - Roussane, Marsanne, Viognier - Barossa Valley, Australia, 2015, 14%, €22.00 Marks & Spencer

This is another of the Platinum winners from the most recent Decanter awards. The Mediterranean grapes each add to the excellent blend. The Roussane provides structure and finesse. The Marsanne gives palate texture and richness while the Viognier offers a pure floral lift and finishes the wine with refinement and elegance. It is certainly a winner and Very Highly Recommended.

You immediately note the bright and beautiful light gold colour. White fruits and floral notes mingle in the nose. It is rich and fruity (apricot, citrus), hints of honey too, flow across the palate, no shortage of finesse in this medium to full-bodied wine. And there is a persistent finish, the dry finalé still with pleasant echoes of the fruit.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Grapes planted in 16th century. Now we get these two gems from Chile.

A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2015 Itata (Chile), 12.5%, €22.90 Le Caveau, Bradley’s (Cork).

If you don’t like your wines big and bold and prefer light and delicate, then this is one to try.

Colour is pale Ruby, shimmering. 
Aromas of wild strawberries and hints too (I'm told) of the local vegetation.

Palate is fresh and light, vibrant, delicate red fruit flavours, touch of spice, distinctive and refreshing, smooth all the way to the finish. The granitic soils have a lot to say and tell here and, perhaps, that is why, or at least one reason, this wine reminds me of a good Beaujolais. A quiet friendly one and Very Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau say the fruit comes from very old vines (100 years and more) grown on volcanic soil that give it a mineral-y character. It is fermented and aged in concrete vats, the extraction is very subtle. The skins are basket pressed. The wine is then aged in large wood vessels and after 14 months is bottled with a very coarse filtration. 

The first País (also known, particularly in California, as the Mission grape) was brought by the conquistadors in the 1550s and, for centuries, the locals used it to make wines for themselves.

But bit by bit, the big companies began to use the big-name grapes and the ancient imports lost ground. Leonardo Erazo was one who wanted to reverse this trend, travelled the world for ten years to study wine and then came back and founded A Los Viñateros Bravos.

In Itata, Leonardo has worked with the scattered local farmers’ old vines—many well over 100 years, still growing as dry farmed, untrained small bushes—to enhance their traditional natural practices to align with biodynamic guidelines. His mission, throughout this journey, has been to bring a sense of place into the bottle. 

“In order to achieve that, we are working back into the organic viticulture (historically, a tradition here) with natural winemaking. We feel like we don’t need to fix nature but rather enhance its capabilities, thus to enhance its potential. We want wines full of life, vibrancy, tension and freshness.”


The Pais doesn’t have much of a status with the better-known wine commentators. For instance, Grapes and Wines blames the original Spanish Franciscan missionaries for not taking the trouble “to bring something better”. Leonardo Erazo is taking time and trouble and certainly bringing us something better!

Miguel Torres Reserva Ancestral Valle del Itata (Chile) 2014, 14.5%, €18.50 Marks and Spencer.
This blend of Cinsault (60%), País (25) and Carignan (15) has a deep ruby colour. There are fragrant aromas of plum, blackberry, some spice too. It is smooth, rich, juicy and fruity as it spreads across, tannins just about evident, and then a long dry finish. A warm and concentrated welcoming wine, ideal in autumn and winter. Very Highly Recommended.

Torres tell us this is produced from the fruit of 80-year old vines. These grape varieties were first brought to Chile by the early Spanish conquistadors around 500 years ago, so it is aptly named.

According to Wines of South America, Torres are dedicated to rediscovering “heritage” wines, based on traditional País, both in table red and sparkling bottlings.
All Torres vineyards in Chile have been organic since 1995 and this wine, a Platinum winner in Decanter 2017, is the inaugural vintage (fewer than 15,000 bottles) from these ancient vineyards.

Decanter called it a “friendly beast” with particular praise for its “lovely concentration”.This medium bodied wine is not meant for long-term keeping and you are advised to use it within five years. Try it with steak, charcuterie and empanadas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three cracking reds

Marco Real Colection Privado Crianza Navarra (DOC) 2013, 14.5%, €17.40 Karwig

The wines of Navarra are not as prominent in the Irish market as those of Rioja, its next door neighbour in Spain's North West. But this impressive amalgam of Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah, illustrates well why it should be taken more seriously. 

The grapes are hand-picked and sorted twice on arrival at the winery. Twelve months in new French oak barrels is followed by 12 months in bottle and that earns it the Crianza sticker (on the back of the bottle).

The legs here, as you might expect, are slow to clear; colour is a deep ruby. There is an attractive mix of aromas (mainly ripe red fruits) plus hints of oak. Silky, Fruity. Spicy. Tannins are more or less totally integrated as is the oak. This full-bodied intense wine has a persistent finish and is Very Highly Recommended. Good value as well.




Casa de la Ermita Idílico Jumilla (DOP) 2012, 14.5%, €19.99 (€15.00 on offer from 23/11 to 1/3) SuperValu

A blend of Petit Verdot and Monastrell, this Crianza comes from old vines grown at 700 metres above sea-level.

It has an intense garnet colour, the legs slow to clear as you'd expect. Intense aromas too: darker fruits, plum prominent, hints of mint too. Rich on the palate, full of concentrated fruit flavours, spice too and close-to-smooth tannins. Excellent finish also, leaving you with that second glass feeling. This newcomer to SuperValu is very welcome and Highly Recommended.

Koha (Merlot, Cabernet Franc) Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2016, 13%, €14.00 Marks and Spencer
As you can see, this is a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc. It won Platinum for the producers, the Giesen family, in the recent Decanter awards and it is exclusive to Marks and Spencer. The sunny region of Hawkes Bay is perfect for Merlot. Just noticed that the Giesens produce an unusual style “blend” of hard apple cider and white wine, in a can!

Back to our smooth and fruity wine with its deep purple colour. Warm dark fruits prominent in a lovely mix of aromas.  Plums and berries on the juicy palate, oak in the background. Fresh and vibrant, this smooth engaging young wine, medium to full-bodied, is worth getting to know. Highly Recommended. Pretty good value too. Match with roasts and BBQ.

The Koha, by the way, is a long tailed cuckoo, a summer visitor to New Zealand.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two Reds From Uruguay and Spain. Worth Noting For Your Weekend!

Casa de la Ermita Crianza Jumilla (DOP) 2013, 14% (€12.00 from 12th of October to 1st of November) SuperValu

This is a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes grown at a height of 700 metres. It has spent nine months in new oak barrels and is new to Supervalu. Did you know that Monastrell is regarded as “the queen grape” of Jumilla. Ermita also do a sweet dessert wine from Monastrell.

This blend has a deep garnet colour. On the nose, there are intense dark fruits (berries, plums), hints of oak too. The palate is full of those intense fruit flavours, juicy too, tannins are soft (barely at play), and there is a good length to the finish. Elegant and fruity, a lovely amalgam of the three grapes, and Highly Recommended.

Pisano Cisplatino Tannat 2015, Progresso (Uruguay), 13.5%, €14.00 Marks and Spencer. 

You may be familiar with Tannat, a grape from the French south-west (Madiran, Irouléguy). Yes indeed it was the Basques that brought the grape to South America where it is “becoming Uruguay’s signature grape”. 

Its stern reputation in France can put punters off. “A man’s drink,” you hear (from men). But I don't think they've tried Argi D’Ansa Rosé (80% Tannat) in St Etienne de Baigorry (Irouleguy) as I did in 2011 nor indeed this excellent example from South America.

Colour is purple and there are expressive aromas of plum mainly, also a whiff of vanilla. It is fresh, juicy and fruity, flavours of red and darker berries, some spice too, tannins close to soft and has a lengthy dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Label suggests trying it with meaty dishes, particularly lamb shoulder, moussaka, shepherd’s pie or spicy empanadas.


The three Pisano brothers follow biodynamic methods and use strains of native yeast, according to Decanter, who gave this wine a Platinum for Best Value Red Single Variety.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France

Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva Mendoza (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 (I got it on offer at 16.95) O’Brien Wines

Bodegas Caro, founded in 1999, is a Catena family partnership with Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the owners of Chateau Lafite. “The operation focuses on classic red Bordeaux blends,” according to Wines of South America.  “…all grapes for this project are purchased.” Caro tastings are held in their vineyard caves that date back to 1884. So there is some pedigree in both sides of the partnership. 

The signature wine is Caro and other main labels are Aruma and Amancaya. The blend for the latter is based “on the elegant texture of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of the Argentinean Malbec”. It has been aged in French oak and is more fruity due to the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter ageing. The name is the native Indian name of a flower found at high altitudes in the Andes in the Mendoza area.


Colour is ruby, the legs slow to clear. There are generous aromas of cherries and dark berries, plus sweet spice too. The palate has fruit (no shortage) and vanilla (from the oak) and it is noticeably dry. Tannins are still at play here in a smooth and elegant wine, supple and satisfying right up to and through the long finish. Very good on the first day and even better on the second; decant and take your time! Very Highly Recommended. A match with beef is guaranteed but venison may be the pairing to remember!

Marks & Spencer Margaret River (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, 14%, €16.50 M & S

The Margaret River area, in Western Australia, is justifiably famous for its smooth and complex Cabernet Sauvignon, though usually at a higher price than this. Winemaker is Matt Byrne and producers Marks and Spencer say this is “a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot (12%)”. The Decanter tasting panel recently gave it a score of 95 and awarded it Platinum: Best Value Australian Red Bordeaux Varietals. 

Colour is a deep ruby. Dark red fruits feature in the aromas. It is indeed complex and smooth on the palate, juicy and full of intense blackcurrant flavours, some spice too, tannins on the lips (inside and out); the finish is very satisfying with the fruit still a factor and hints of the oak there too. Elegant and well balanced this is Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A DRY PX


A DRY PX
Marks and Spencer PX2010, Elqui Valley, Chile, 13%, €10.49, 4 stars




Hit the jackpot, well a small one, when I dropped into Marks and Spencer (Cork) yesterday and bought myself a bottle of their PX 2010.

I had been looking out for a half bottle, thinking the wine was a dessert type. But no, the Pedro Ximenez comes from the Elqui Valley in north of Chile and is quite a dry white. It has an ABV of 13% and costs €10.49 for a full size bottle.

The colour is a pale honey and the nose is pleasantly aromatic. It is fresh, fruity and yes dry, with an easy going mouthfeel; very refreshing with an excellent finish. Well worth the money and an instant favourite in this house. Four stars.

It won a Gold in the White section of Chile in the recently published Decanter World Wide Awards. Marks also have another Decanter regional winner: their Sauvignon Blanc from the Limari valley 2008. I also picked up a bottle but haven't tried it out yet but am looking forward to it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

SUPER WHITE PORT FROM M & S


  • Old Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia across the river Douro, as viewed from the Torre dos Clérigos, in July, 2005.Photo taken by Jonik.
M&S EXTRA WHITE PORT
The Extra Dry White Port was the best of three bottles picked up lately on the spur of the moment in Marks and Spencer.
“This is a fresh and aromatic port, subtly oak-aged to bring out its crisp floral style and attractive honey sweet finish.” Their words. They also advise serving it as an aperitif over ice. I’d go easy on the ice but either way this 19% port is a beauty and I was thrilled to “discover” it. Any local independents selling it or an equivalent?
Couldn’t really disagree with the label, so here goes: “Made with a careful selection of indigenous white port grapes from the finest demarcated vineyards surrounding the village of Pinhao.”
“A blend of young white ports. Pale in colour, aged in oak casks in..Vila Nova de Gaia. This delicious fresh crisp port wine, although classified as dry, has attractive floral notes with an almost sweet honeyed flavour.”
The 50cl bottle cost me €12.49. I also bought a full bottle of Manzanilla Sherry (didn't really fancy that too much) and a half-bottle of Monbazillac (which I do like). The sherry cost €8.29 while the sweet French one was €7.99. Also got a ten per cent discount because I bought three bottles.

Friday, January 28, 2011

SWEET, CHEAP AND CHEERFUL


SWEET, CHEAP AND CHEERFUL 
Glad I got into sweet wines. Have enjoyed a few over the Christmas and still the sweets go on, the latest a Moscatel from Valencia, the “primary source of sweet budget wines”, according to Mr Hugh Johnson.
From grapes grown on

Monday, October 6, 2008

Marks & Spencer

M & S QUICKIE


Starter:
Houmous and Foccacia Breadsticks ---- €1.90
Mains:
Thai Green Curry ----€11.98
Dessert
Tarte Citron -----€3.09

Total for two ----€16.97

Good food, Good value!

Monday, September 1, 2008

MARKED DOWN - BIG TIME

MARKS & SPENCER
TOP MARKS


Marks & Spencer had a “Dine in for Two” offer, the weekend before last. I suspect it’s finished now but keep an eye out in case of a repeat as it was good quality and good value.

For €12.50, you got a main course, a side dish (veg or potato), dessert and bottle of wine. When my four parts were totted up on the register, they came to about €23.00, so the saving was substantial.

The main course in our case was an excellent Mousaka. The tasty Dessert was a Summer Berry Terrine (easily enough for four) while the wine was a totally adequate good quality Dolphin Bay Shiraz from South Africa.

I’ll repeat it, if they do. Well worth it!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CLASSY CRAB TOASTIES


EASY TOASTIES


They don't call it a Deli but the Food Hall in Marks and Spencer (in Merchant’s Quay, Cork) is one, a place of delicacies and fine food.

I was in there the other day getting ingredients for tasty Crab Toasties. I picked up Orkney White Crab meat, ciabatta, along with some St Azur soft cheese and got to work.

Preheat Oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Check meat for tiny pieces of shell and remove. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl, and then mix in crab meat and mayonnaise. Add the breadcrumbs and soy sauce, then the cayenne pepper and seasoning to taste.


Spread the mix evenly on the bread slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes and then serve with a baby leaf and herb salad, dressed with vinaigrette.

Ingredients for Crab Toasties
(Serves 3 to 4 as a snack or light lunch)

100g white crab meat (you may use frozen)
100g cream cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp mayonnaise
15g dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp soy sauce
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper
1 small ciabatta or baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal.
Recipe from the Sunday Times, who in turn took it from the Jason Atherton book called Maze: The Cookbook.