Showing posts with label Mary Pawle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Pawle. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Taste of West Cork Festival. A Personal Selection of the September Events.


A Taste of West Cork Festival
Some of the Best.
There is so much to do in next month’s major festival, A Taste of West Cork: over 250 events, spread over 41 towns and villages and eight islands. And, despite the one hundred thousand welcomes, you’ll find it difficult enough to make your choices. So, this is where my digest comes in. 

While I don’t know West Cork like the back of my hand, I have a decent amount of experience there, including at this festival. So, if you lose patience with the official multi-page guide (especially if you’re reading it online), check out these suggestions divided into BARGAIN, OFF PLATE (eating not essential!), A/N (afternoon), EVENING, and BtB (bust the budget). Some of these are free or have just nominal charges. 

By the way, I have omitted the guest chefs/pop up events. I have mixed feelings on these because I’ve had mixed experience of them. I’ll leave the decision up to yourself but do get as much information from the venue in advance as possible and that should help avoid any disappointment.

The programme has been published in national and local newspapers and is available online hereSomething for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy! 

Baltimore

Friday Sep 7th
BARGAIN: Traditional Fishing, Boats, Pots and Lines. Free. 2.30 Baltimore
OFF PLATE: Lough Hyne To The Sea. Kayaking €65.00
A/N: Afternoon Sea - seafood savouries at Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey €29.00
EVENING: Lobster Garden Party with Diana Dodog at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry €55.00
Sherkin Island

Saturday Sep 8th
BARGAIN: The Honey Bee, with experienced bee-keeper at Organico, Bantry. €10.00.
OFF PLATE: Pencil to Garden to Plate, drawing class with Annabel Langrish at Heron Gallery Cafe €50.00 inc lunch.
A/N: Islander’s Rest BBQ with Derry Clarke. Sherkin 1.00pm €20.00
EVENING: The West Cork Food Tour. Manning’s Ballylickey from 6.00pm. Farm Tour and BBQ €80.00
BtB: The Ancient Craft of Blacksmithing at O’Driscoll Ironworks, Durrus Day long class €150.00
Garinish Island, Glengariff

Sunday Sep 9th
BARGAIN: Kilcrohane Country Fair 2-6pm. Stall, producers, music, BBQ (€5.00)
OFF PLATE: Hidden Edibles, The Ewe Experience, Glengarriff, 10.00 to 11.00am, €12.50
A/N: Tarte Tatin Demo & Tasting by John Desmond at Heir Island 2.30pm, free but pay for ferry
EVENING: The Celtic Camino Dinner at Gougane Barra Hotel. Caminos popping up everywhere. Dinner is €50.00.
BtB: ——
Michael Collins event, 10th September, Clonakilty

Monday Sep 10th
BARGAIN: Manage your own herb garden, Organico Bantry 4.00pm, €5.00
OFF PLATE: Plastic is a Plague. A seminar with distinguished speakers at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, 11.00am-3.00pm, €20.00.
A/N: Devoy’s Organic Farm visit. Vegetables, eggs, chickens stories 2.30pm Three euro
EVENING: Scannell’s Tastes of the Sea Aperitif plus 5-course feast of fish. 7.00pm €60.00
BtB: —-


Tuesday Sep 11th
BARGAIN:  The Secret Garden, The Sutherland Centre, Skibbereen. A true secret garden. Free.
OFF PLATE: Art and the Great Hunger, a guided tour of this incredible exhibition at Uillinn, Skibbereen, two euro
A/N: Cream Tea at the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague. Guided Walk around eco-farm before grand tea and scones. €12.00.
EVENING: Wine & Dine at Deasy’s in Ring. Italian wine and Caitlin Ruth’s cooking combine in five-course meal from 7.00pm for €55.00.
BtB: Heron & Grey at The Mews Inventive Tasting Menu, 7.30pm, €95.00

Wednesday Sep 12th
BARGAIN: Ummera Smokehouse, Timoleague. A marvellous visit and tasting for free. 10.30am
OFF PLATE: Bere Island and the Great Famine. Informative historical bus tour 12.00pm to 2.00pm and packed lunch €30.00. Ferry at 11.30am extra.
A/N: Wild Berry Bakery, Ballineen.  Bakery visit and samples. All proceeds to charity. Entry €5.00
EVENING: A Taste of India at Richy’s Clonakilty. Welcome drink and multi-course Indian meal by Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s. €60.00.
BtB: Intimate Dinner at Inish Beg House on Inish Beg Island. Formal dinner surrounded by country house grandeur, silver service. €95.00

Thursday Sep 13th
BARGAIN: Tasting (and bottle to take away) for a fiver at 9 White Deer Brewery in Ballyvourney. 2.00pm
OFF PLATE: Tea and Tales on Dursey Island. Take the cable car across and then a guided bus tour with dramatic views and island stories. Tea costs 25 euro and cable car is extra.
A/N: Bean and Grain, chocolate and beer at Clonakilty Brewery. The chocolate will be by Alison of Clonakilty Chocolate and there’ll be lots of pairings. €25.00
EVENING: A Taste of Organico, hosted by Hannah and Rachel Dare who’ll have dozens of their producers on hand including Fermoy Raw Milk, Mary Pawle Wines and Sally Barnes Smokery. Samples galore and even a glass of wine is included in the 5 euro fee. 5.30pm to 8.00pm.
BtB: ——
Welcome to Union Hall Smoked Fish

Friday Sep 14th
BARGAIN: Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy puts on a brilliant demo, very engaging with his audience, especially the younger ones. See him from 10.00 in Fields of Skibbereen. Free.
OFF PLATE: Live Life Well. A students’ food and lifestyle conference at Skibbereen Community School. From 10.00am to 2.00pm, hear talks, see demos, and sample at the mini-market. All free.
A/N: there’s a tour of the Union Hall Smoked Fish facility at 2.00pm, a lovely family run business. The Nolan's are a generous bunch and they won’t charge you a cent yet, a similar event two years back, there was no shortage of samples and even a glass of wine.
EVENING: Real Food from Here is the title of the event at Macroom’s Castle Hotel where the Buckley family invite you to a dinner featuring real food. Real wine too from Le Caveau with Colm McCan doing the pouring and talking. €60.00 including dinner and wine. Special overnight rate.
BtB: ——
Walking on Sheep's Head

Saturday Sep 15th
BARGAIN: A 2.5 hour walk on the Sheeps Head with guide Charlie McCarthy (086 2333420). Registration at 11.30am, walk at 12 noon. Meet at the cabin Ahakista.Free
OFF PLATE: Meet at the car park in Barley Cove Hotel on your way to the Three Castle Head Walk, one of West Cork’s hidden gems, with breath-taking views. Starts at 3.30 and duration is 90 minutes. Free. Contact: 0868808190.
A/N: Fish and Whiskey Brunch is the unpriced event at the Glandore Inn with local man Bryan McCarthy doing the cooking and West Cork Distillers supplying the  spirit. All proceeds to LauraLynn children’s Hospice and Union Hall Inshore Lifeboat.
EVENING: I suspect that Taste of the Sea at Arundels by the Pier (Ahakista) will sell out fast with Head Chef Dominique Carucci presenting a delicious Taste of the Sea menu. Five courses for €50.00.
BtB: The big spenders can whip out that credit card again as they go to Eat, Drink and Sleep at the Castle, Castletownsend. At 7.00pm, the six course meal, paired with selected wines and beers, will get underway. Slip upstairs much later, wake to a spectacular view of the bay and a hearty breakfast. Cost overall: €220.00 per person.

Sunday Sep 16th.
Still a good share of events on the closing Sunday but undoubtedly the focus will be on the Festival Finalé, the Sunday Street Market in Skibbereen. It starts at noon and as usual there’ll be bands, and dancers, craft, and food to eat and take away and a children’s entertainment area. A superb finalé to a marvellous festival that encompasses over 250 events.

Reen Pier area








Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Trio of Excellent Reds from Mary Pawle Wines


A Trio of Excellent Reds 
from Mary Pawle Wines

According to Ana Fabiano in her 2012 book, The Wine Region of Rioja, you can expect good things from the winemakers of Rioja Baja. Their spirit is “based on enormous reverence for their land, respect for the heritage of their ancestors, and a commitment to carry it forward”. By the way, she mentions Luis Jiménez as one of the producers worth seeking out in the area and we have two of his below.


Ruiz Jiménez Paisajes Rioja (DOC) 2015, 14%, €17.70 Mary Pawle Wines


This organic Rioja is an “edition especial Garnacha 2015”, special because it is 100% Garnacha, not a drop of the customary Tempranillo. It is also rather special as “100% of the creative process is in our own hands.”

It is mid to deep ruby, bright and clear, legs reluctant to clear. Aromas of sweet red fruit, hints too of its season in the oak. Fruity and dry, elegant on the palate, this well balanced wine maintains its smooth power right through to the persistent finish, tannins still a factor. Beautifully reined-in power and Very Highly Recommended.


Pago de Valcaliente Rioja 2015, 14.5%, €26.30 Mary Pawle Wines

This organic wine has a cherry red colour. Fairly intense aromas of dark and red fruit fruits, and a hint of spice. Juicy, fruity and spicy, this young wine with its smooth tannins and balancing acidity is a tasty drop indeed and Highly Recommended.

The Valcaliente vineyard is in the Rioja Baja, one of the three areas of Rioja, and the producer is Luis Jiménez. This wine, a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, is aged in a concrete egg.

Domaine Bassac Syrah Côtes de Thongue (IGP) 2015, 13.5% €13.25 Mary Pawle Wines.

Produced by a young duo that started working here in the Languedoc in 2014, this Syrah is organic. It has a nice mid ruby colour and a moderately intense nose of blackcurrant. There is a fair concentration of fruit and spice in the palate. 

You’ll come across some much brasher Shiraz but this is a restrained and well-made Syrah, a rounded and a good warm wine and Highly Recommended. Importer Mary Pawle suggests trying it with Lamb Tagine. 

A young enough wine but do not hesitate to open an hour or two in advance and do also decant. Well worth the effort.

Monday, July 2, 2018

White Wine Weather. Three of the very best!


Trimbach Riesling Alsace (AC) 2015, 13%, €15.96 (was 19.95) O’Brien’s

Trimbach (not Jean methinks!) sum up their wine story that began in 1626: “exceptional terroirs and fine wines”. And so they continue. This is “a great example of dry Riesling” according to Decanter, talking about the 2014 edition.

It is indeed a lovely wine with a light strawy colour. Apples and a touch of lime in the restrained aromas. Smooth on the palate with terrific white fruit flavours and the amazing dry finish goes on and on. Well made as you’d expect from this producer and Very Highly Recommended (even at the regular price - I got this in a sale).


Gitton Père & Fils Les Montachins Sancerre (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wines

Colour of this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is a light straw, tints of green. Fairly intense aromas, lime and apple, mineral notes too. Terrific rush of outstanding flavours, citrus now prominent, matched by an equal burst of the most refreshing acidity. And the finish lacks nothing at all, long and satisfying.  No need to say too much about this one, just Very Highly Recommended.

Speaking of the variety, Wine-Searcher.com says the key selling point of Sauvignon Blanc “is its straightforwardness” and that is certainly the case here. Its home land is the Loire and it is now found growing successfully in quite a few countries, notably in New Zealand.

Pair with oysters, crab, delicate white fish, green vegetables and salads, and cheese (goats in particular).

Albet i Noya El Fanio Xarel-lo 2016 Penedes (DO), 13%, now €17.00 Mary Pawles Wines.

Colour of this organic wine is light gold.
Citrus, gooseberry, floral notes too, in the nose.

Lovely creamy mouthfeel here - it had been on lees for six months; herb flavours to the fore, thyme and rosemary and other notes from the local scrub, fresh and lively acidity too make this a very friendly wine indeed, a distinctive one also and Very Highly Recommended. Great value as well.

El Fanio is the name of the vineyard and the grape variety is Xarel-lo, familiar to many of you as a key grape in Cava. The wine is aged in cement eggs (not very romantic!) and in acacia barrels.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Xarel-lo Still Wine. And two other whites.


Xarel-lo Still Wine 
And two other whites.
Albet i Noya Curiós Xarel-lo Penedes (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €13.90 Mary Pawle Wines

This is an organic wine, made from Xarel-lo, the grape synonymous with Cava, in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

Colour is light straw, very light. Fresh fruit, green and citrus, in the aromas, floral elements too. Fresh too on the supple palate, the flavours combining with the initial aromas to pleasantly surprise the taste buds, lively acidity also, and this lovely white also finishes well.

Food advice comes from the producers: on its own or serve with chicken or risotto dishes. Get a few of these in for the warmer days ahead (coming soon!!!). Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.


Gitton Chantalouette Pouilly Sur Loire (AC) 2013, 12.5%, €20.65 Karwig

A pleasing light straw colour. White fruit aromas of moderate intensity, hint of honey. Smooth on the palate, good mix of white fruit flavours, slight sweetness, and lively acidity before a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

It is a blend of mainly Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc (10 to 15%) and has spent 3 months in barrel. While there is a town called Chasselas in the French region of Maconnais, Wine-Searcher reckons the grape originated in Switzerland where it is the “most important and widely planted white grape variety” and matches well with traditional local cuisine like fondue. My match: Knockanore Cheddar and a few dried apricots from Lenny's  stall in the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

If you go reading up on this little known grape, avoid Grapes and Vines (Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand). “Suffers from a certain folie de grandeur” is one put down, referring to a Swiss wine. Delusions of grandeur. Don't think that Gitton Père et Fils would agree!

Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits (AOC), 13%, €27.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This wine is limpid in the glass, the colour a light to mid yellow. Nose is attractive, fresh, peachy. Superb fresh flavours (stone-fruit, citrus) in the mouth, no shortage of acidity either, all the way to a lip-smackingly finish. Recommended.

Maison Ambroise owns organically certified vineyards on some of the finest sites of the Côte de Nuit. I also spotted a mis-translation on the label. Their wines are generally “aged in French oak barrels to give addiction depth and complexity”. You have been warned!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Cracking Reds. Bergerac, Chianti and Hawkes Bay.


Terroir Feely Grâce Vin de France NV, 13.5%, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

You might have those eye-catching Purple Violetta potatoes currently being grown and marketed by Ballymakenny; that is more or less the colour of this excellent wine. Aromas are of freshly picked ripe plums and dark berries, leaves attached.

And the palate is of fresh fruit and acidity (all the better for food pairing). An amazingly pure wine, tannins a fine, very fine, influence. Balance is super, the fruit and astringency equally in evidence deep into the satisfying finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

This “rich and elegant” dry red wine, highly marked by Jancis Robinson, is produced by Caro and Sean feely in their Saussignac vineyard in the Bergerac area. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Unusually, it is non vintage (NV). Just 2,650 bottles were produced. No sulphites were added and the winery is certified organic and biodynamic. This “grace of nature” is the delicious result.

By the way, the Feelys recommended pairing it with Lamb (with Rosemary), duck breast, and Comté. Heard it went well also with venison at a recent dinner in Ballymaloe!




Ama Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €28.50 Karwig Wines

Husband and wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti produce this wine at their Castello Di Ama vineyard which is close to Sienna. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in the blend which also includes four per cent Merlot.

It is a light and bright ruby red and you’ll find expressive red fruit (cherry, raspberry) in the aromas. It is light and juicy, notes of spice, tart red fruit prominent, mid to full bodied, mid to high acidity contributes to the balance, silky tannins also in play and then a moderately long finish.

If I had to just one wine for the summer ahead, this would be it, more than one bottle of course. Approachable, carefree and attractive, it is Very Highly Recommended


Unison Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2005, 13.5%, a gift from a friend.

Unison describe themselves as “a truly boutique winery consistently producing world class wines”. No pressure then on this winery from the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district that produces finely balanced wines “of great elegance with a soft tannin structure”.

This Unison 2005 is their signature wine, the usual  blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is the 9th release with the usual good results. 

Colour is mid ruby and the complex aromas feature ripe red and darker fruit. It is smooth and rounded, a superbly balanced blend, fine tannins and velvety all the way. Nothing jars in this harmonious mouthful, a fine wine all the way from first sniff to the long finish. This red blend from New Zealand is not to be rushed and Very Highly Recommended.

If you can get your hands on it - my Wine-Searcher drew a blank - please let me know where!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dip into Spain and France with Mary Pawle Wines

Dip into Spain and France with Mary Pawle Wines

Azul y Garanza Garciano Navarro (D0) 2015, 14.5%, €16.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This nicely assembled blend of fruity and spicy Garnacha with the “subtle acidity” of the Graciano is produced organically and matured in cement tanks. But Azul y Garanza go further, planting fruit trees and native aromatic plants around the vineyards. “Working this way, we break the monoculture and we create a wider eco-system.”

They create some pretty good wines too if this one is anything to go by. It is mid-ruby in colour with red berries prominent in the nose. Fresh red fruit, raspberries mainly, on the palate, spice too, tannins just about in the mix. This medium bodied blend is quite intense, smooth and acceptably balanced with the Graciano acidity doing its bit. There is a hint of sweetness on the long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines


This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.

Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value too by the way.

Feely Résonance Bergerac (AC) 2012, 13.5%, €17.70 Mary Pawle Wines
In Bergerac
Crafted by Sean and Caro Feely in Saussignac (known for its dessert wine appellation but in the Bergerac appellation for red and white), this red is organic, unfined and unfiltered. It is basically a Merlot (98%) with a little Cabernet Sauvignon.
Merlot is the most widely grown red grape in France, most famously in the Pomerol area of Bordeaux where a bottle of Pétrus could set you back several thousand euro.
Colour is a deep ruby. Aromas of dark fruit, plum and black cherry. Full bodied, with power and elegance combined, balanced enough with a long spicy finish. Highly Recommended.
Match with pizza, pasta, and beef, say the winemakers, with Osso Bucco according to an acquaintance of mine.

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, January 3, 2018

Two French Reds. An Old One. And A Wild One.

Two French Reds. An Old One. And A Wild One.

Domaine Aonghusa The Wild Bunch (Vin de France) 2014, 14.5%, €20.50 Karwig Wine

From Wexford, Pat Neville has proved to be something of a rebel at Domaine Aonghusa (where his partner is his wife Catherine McGuinness) in the Languedoc. Some of his wines are somewhat off piste as is this one, outside the Corbieres appellation rules so a Vin de France  (as are many good wines in this region). But he also, for instance, produces Cuvée Laval which is AOC.

While he does buck the appellation, he is not into biodynamique either. “Our approach is based on common sense, not cosmological tomfoolery. …. This sometimes results in untidy looking but living vineyards.” 

So where does he fit in in the scheme of things. Quotes from an old independent.ie article may help. "I want to make a wine where the third glass is more interesting than the first, not one where everything you want to know is in the first mouthful." "I know the kind of wine I like; good wine to be taken with food, not wines for sitting on a terrace with and sipping.” 

Okay, we can live with that! And this Wild Bunch too, a blend of the vineyard reds which include Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Cinsault and Lledonner Pelut. There may be wild, scrubby notes in the mainly savoury aromas, a little bit maybe, but this mid-purple wine seems to have settled nicely since 2014.

As you might expect, there is a pretty good concentration of fruit on the palate. It is a really well balanced blend at this stage with a long dry finish. A very interesting wine indeed. Nothing to be apprehensive about and might even improve over the next year or so. “The most fantastic blend,” according to Karwig’s. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Peybonhomme Les Tours Premières Côtes De Blaye (AOC) 2001, 12.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle Wines

This charming elegant red is organic and is predominantly Merlot with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chateau overlooks the Gironde estuary and they suggest matching it with Ossobuco or a Risotto with porcini mushrooms.

It is quite a lovely mid ruby colour (considering its age); there is a bit of fade towards the edge and the legs are slow enough to clear even though the abv is not that high. There is red fruit on the nose, a bit of spice too, nothing extreme in either case. Well rounded fruit and tannins on the smooth palate, an excellent balance and a pretty good finish as well. Not bad at all for an old-stager. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bordeaux. On the Double. St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

Bordeaux. On the Double
St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

Chateau Moulin de Grenet Lussac St Emilion (AOC) 2012, 13%, €19.75 Karwig Wines
Lussac is the most northerly of the St Emilion satellites. Here in the former Cistercian abbey of Faize, La Famille Roskan-Brunot have their vineyards. The Cistercians were noted for the austerity of their abbeys but this wine is rich and harmonious. So much so that noted wine writer James Suckling gave the 2015 vintage 91 points.

The other three satellites are  Montagne, Puisseguin and St Georges. “At their best, the wines from these areas are every bit as good as a Saint-Emilion grand cru. At their worst, they are attenuated and rustic.” I quote from The Wines of Bordeaux (2004) by Clive Coates. I reckon that this one is much closer to grand cru than to rustic.

The blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, has a deep colour. Ripe dark red fruits, vanilla, tobacco and toast feature in the aromas. As smooth as it gets, with a hint of background spice, well rounded, rich and harmonious with a good aromatic finish, it is Very Highly Recommended indeed.

Chateau La Grommet Côtes de Bourg (AOC) 2009, 13%, €16.85 Mary Pawle Wines
Côtes de Bourg is known as the “little Switzerland of the Gironde”. Its beautiful landscape is much more pleasant on the eye than the boring flatlands of the Medoc across the estuary. If you’ve holidayed in or near Royan, then you’ve probably met the wines of Bourg and those of  Blaye.

This particular Grand Vin de Bordeaux is made from organic grapes. It is a blend of Merlot (the dominant grape in this bottle and, indeed in the area) and Cabernet Sauvignon and has spent 12 months in barrels.


Colour is a mid purple, legs slow enough to clear. Lovely aromas of warm red fruit. On the palate, it is ample with good depth, intense, fresh and balanced. A rich wine, with its by now silky tannins, it has a long flavourful finish and lacks nothing in character. A Bordeaux red for sure and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three Handsome Reds! One in a Litre Bottle.

Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild

This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.

This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.

Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.

Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines

Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.

Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau

No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.

The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try
Local grapes feature in these three bottles, one each from Bordeaux, the Alentejo region of Portugal and Piedmont in Italy. While the Bordeaux grapes will be familiar to most of us, the local Portuguese and Italian grapes will be less so. Worth a try though!

Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Wines Direct

I love Bordeaux (and Bergerac) whites, especially when Semillon is the main grape, and this excellent dry wine, rich and full flavoured, suits me very well indeed. Sec (dry) is highlighted on the front label and it has spent 3 months ageing on lees. The blend is Sauvignon Blanc (35%), Sauvignon Gris (15) and Semillon (50).

Colour is a clear gold/straw. There are rich aromas, exotic fruit plus floral elements. From its elegant and attractive nose, to its generous mouthfeel, its excellent freshness ad acidity, to its long finish, it is pretty much faultless, Well balanced and Very Highly Recommended. Should be superb with most kinds of sea fish including lobster and salmon, freshwater fish too. 

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro ALR, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2012, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle Wines

The organic grapes for this blend grow in an wooded area planted with Pine, Oak and Chestnut. I though I got a hint of oak but maybe not as it is unoaked! Trincadeira, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante-Bouschet and Touriga Nacional are in the blend and the wine-makers say “it goes with everything”.

This versatile medium bodied wine has a ruby red colour and red fruit aromas. Baked fruit and spice on the palate, moderate tannins, and a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

* The lettering on the bottle could fool you into thinking it is AIR but no, the ALR comes from the initials of Antonio Lopes Ribeiro.


Valle Unite Ottavio Rubé Rosso 2014, Costa Vescovata, 13.5%, €14.55 Le Caveau

Costa Vescovata is a town in Piedmont and the Valle Unite is the winery. The grapes - it is a blend of Dolcetta and Croatina - are local and this organic wine is “a brilliant price/quality ratio” say Le Caveau. It is named after Ottavio Rubé, one of the founders of the co-op.


Colour is a deep ruby and there are strong, even “funky” red fruit aromas. Same strong fruit evident on the palate, a good input of spice too, also savoury flavours, quite grippy with excellent acidity. A decent finish too. A good buy and Highly Recommended. You can expect some sediment here so best to decant.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Albet i Noya. Classy Wines from Catalonia

Albet i Noya
Classy Wines from Catalonia

The Albet i Noya family vineyard is situated at Can Vendrell near the village of Sant Pau d'Ordal. They cultivate 44 hectares of vines on the slopes of the Ordal mountain range in the Penedes region of Catalonia, and have held Organic Certification since the 1980's. The brothers Josep Maria and Antoni are steadfast in their pursuit of excellence and innovation, and their range of still and sparkling wines are synonymous with high quality. 

It was Scandinavian influences, staring in 1978, that led to the vineyard going organic. Josep Maria Albet i Noya decided to try one of the vineyards, despite doubts from friends and family. But it worked out well and encouraged him to extend the practice. Healthier vines and healthier wines are the result.

Albet i Noya, Lignum, Penedes 2013, 14%, €16.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon / Garnatxa negra (Grenache) / Merlot / Syrah / Ull de llebre (Tempranillo). The grapes are “from the highlands of the region” and the wine has spent 10 months in barriques.

I had been looking for some help after opening the bottle but my timing wasn’t good: “It’s red, smells like wine and it’s nearly time for East Enders!” In fairness, after the show, I did get a more considered opinion and we both were very happy with the Lignum.

It is a ruby red, bright. Aromas are an inviting mix of dark red fruits, especially plum. You have the same bright mix of fruit flavours on the palate, spice, smooth tannins. It is warm and supple and dry with a long lasting finish. Very engaging. Could well be a long term relationship! Well made, no loose ends here, a more or less perfect wine and Very Highly Recommended. Good value too.

The winemakers say it can be enjoyed straight away, although it will evolve favourably in the coming years if stored between 10° and 15° C. “We recommend serving it at 17°C.”

Albet i Noya, El Fanio, Penedès 2010, 13%,€15.90 Mary Pawle Wines

I was a little bit worried when I realised the age of this one. But re-assured when reading that Xarel-lo ages well and this wine is one hundred per cent Xarel-lo.

Pale straw is the colour and there are white fruits, honey and herbal notes in the aromas. Seven years it may be but still lively, stone-fruit flavours, touch of melon too. The mouthful is close to succulent - it has spent some seven months on lees. Hints of sweetness but all well balanced by a vibrant acidity and then there’s a decent mid-length finish to follow. Highly Recommended. Would be interesting to compare with a more recent vintage.

Albet i Noya say: Planted on small terraces of 2 or 3 rows and treated with Biodynamic preparations to heighten the expression of the terroir, the wine is vinified traditionally. It is left on the lees in the porous cement eggs that let it breath and constantly dynamises the wine due to their shape, bringing out the mineral character of the Costers de l'Ordal.



To read more about the varieties of the Penedes region, please click here