Showing posts with label O'Brien's Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Brien's Wine. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill. And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.


Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill
And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.
Isla and Paul, when I
met them in Cork

The Syrah for the wines below is trellised across the top of a windy hill in the Languedoc that was planted with the aid of dynamite. The earth is completely made up of classic blue/grey schist with practically no topsoil. Therefore the rock had to be blown up so that the vines could find some dirt where they could anchor.

Despite these kind of local obstacles, there are more vines growing in the Languedoc than in Australia. Paul Gordon should know. He is Australian and he and his Carlow wife Isla work (and I mean work) the Sarabande vineyard, about twenty minutes drive from Beziers. The rugby-loving couple’s vineyard is called Domaine la Sarabande. 

They met in New Zealand in 2003 and then spent five or six years in wine in Marlborough. In 2009, they settled in France and raised some €40,000 from relations and friends in return for wine in the future. Isla: “There is just the two of us. We are very small; everything is gently worked and done by hand..” 

With so many vineyards in the area, there is much competition locally and so the pair export most of their wine, mainly to English speaking countries. And indeed, those same countries (Ireland, US, Australia and New Zealand) are all happy with the Sarabande screw caps but not so the French. 

Today, working with some unique terroirs and old vineyards treated organically and by hand, the Gordons, according to their importers O’Brien’s, “produce some stunningly good old world wines but with a modern Oz twang”.

Sarabande “Les Rabasses” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, €21.45 (got it for 17.16 in sale) O’Brien’s

The aromas of the Faugeres are dominated by black cherries and plums as is this blend. The Syrah, on its exploded base, is trellised across the top of the windy hill. Unlike the Syrah (the dominant grape - about 50% - in this GSM blend), the Grenache and Mourvedre are grown as bush vines. They sit on a south facing slope which is well drained. This is particularly important for the notoriously late ripening Mourvedre variety.

And so it is from this hilltop vineyard that this Les Rabasses comes with its hard-won flavours. Keep it, they say, or drink it now with “equally flavoursome food”. Suggested are: Cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Hard mature cheese, Roast lamb/beef, Slow cooked shoulder of lamb.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are strong aromas of dark fruit, spicy. Fruit forward and deep, power and finesse in equal measure, that spice too, excellent acidity as well; the finish is pure, long and also balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Sarabande “Misterioso” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, 16.95 (13.56 in sale) O’Brien’s 

Sarabande tell us that “bright cherry flavours are the backbone of this cheeky little number…that will invite itself.” Indeed, it is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. Highly Recommended.

The blend this time is mostly Grenache and Syrah with “a small amount of Mourvedre.” Only the best quality fruit survives the sorting stage.

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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Two From Fleurie. Beaujolais Gems From the Granite.


Two From Fleurie
Beaujolais Gems From the Granite
Granite from Beaujolais
Fleurie, like all ten crus, is in the north east of the Beaujolais region. Here the Gamay grape, thrives on the granite soil, the wines always refreshing and never short of acidity. Fleurie, with delicious cherry scents, flavours of red berries, is an elegant and excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Did you know that the Gamay grape is an exile in Beaujolais? In 1395, it was outlawed by Royal decree as being “a very bad and disloyal plant”. Sixty years later another edict was issued against it. And so it was pushed out of Burgundy and south into neighbouring Beaujolais where it has thrived on the granite based soils.

In Beaujolais generally, there is a continuity of quality, almost a guarantee of it, if you move up a step or two to the ten crus and the Villages that ring them.

In 2016, May and June, it wasn't at all pleasant in Beaujolais. In the area where the crus are situated, the hail came with a vengeance and, according to Decanter, Beaujolais authorities reported some plots in the appellations of Chiroubles and Fleurie were completely destroyed. But that fickle spring was followed by a splendid summer and a friendly autumn and the result, with less fruit, was a very fine vintage indeed.

By the way, the ten crus that produce the flagship wines are: Chiroubles, Saint Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) 2016, 12.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online


Dominique Morel has set himself a target: “I make wines that I like to drink, with lots of fruit, good colour and a rounded mouthfeel". And this light ruby coloured wine, with delicate cherry aromas, also floral notes, is silky with superb fruit, just as M. Morel would have wanted. Silky and with terrific concentration and lovely velvety tannins. Very Highly Recommended.

Bastion De L’Oratoire Chanson Fleurie (AC) 2014, 13%, €14.95 in sale (was 18.95) O’Brien’s

Colour of this beauty is a bright mid-ruby. Abundant aromas of cherries and spice. Juicy in the mouth; no shortage of red berries (strawberries, raspberries) and sweet cherry in delicious combination, smooth and well balanced, refreshing too with excellent length. Impeccable and Very Highly Recommended. It is, of course, 100% Gamay and no oak has been used by Chanson who are both négociants and winemakers.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Stonewell Seasonal Ciders. Taste of the Week. Taste of the Summer!


Stonewell Seasonal Ciders
Taste of the Week. 
Taste of the Summer!

Stonewell Apple & Cucumber Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle.



In 2016, Stonewell won the Supreme Champion Award at the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle with their Rós, an apple and rhubarb cider, and their current seasonal is this medium dry Apple and Cucumber.

First thing you notice is the huge difference in colours, the cucumber one looking more like a white wine (with hints of green), though with lots of bubbles. The cucumber comes through, gently, on the nose and on the palate. 

Flavours are probably lighter than the Rós but, if anything, are even more refreshing. A light and moreish flavour, as they say themselves, from this combination of Royal Gala apples and a subtle twist of cucumber.


Rós Apple and Rhubarb Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle

The Supreme Champion is an all local amalgam. The rhubarb juice is extracted from the produce of Robbie Fitzsimmon’s East Ferry Farm in Cork and blended with the “soft caressing” flavours of the apple juice.

This new batch has a gorgeous mid-gold (no pink!), with fountains of bubbles. Rhubarb comes through on the palate but its tartness is more than balanced by those soft caressing flavours of the apples. An engaging mix indeed from the small but highly innovative team at Nohoval and you can taste why it won a surprise overall gold at Blas.

Both ciders are vegan and coeliac friendly and each should go well with food. Thinking of a salad in the garden with a bottle of the Apple and Cucumber while the Rós should be ideal with the strawberries. Must set that one up while the sun is out!

Stockists
Stockists for both ciders: Bradley’s Cork; 1601 Kinsale; Blackrock Cellar, Co. Dublin; Gibney’s of Malahide, Co. Dublin; No 21 Lismore, Co.Waterford; Paddy Blues, Gorey, Co. Wexford; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3; Supervalu Kinsale and Clonakilty; Riney’s Bar, Sneem, Co.Kerry. Matson’s Wine Store, Grange and Bandon, Cork.

You may get the Apple and Cucumber at the following O’Brien’s Wines locations:
Ardkeen, Co. Waterford; Beacon, Dublin; City West, Dublin; Blanchardstown, Dublin; Douglas Court, Cork; Dun Laoghaire, Dublin; Glasnevin, Dublin; Malahide, Dublin; Naas, Kildare; Rathgar, Dublin; Rathmines, Dublin; Templeogue Village, Dublin.

Nohoval
Belgooly
Kinsale
Co. Cork.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Lifeboat Inn. Courtmacsherry's Gastro Pub Up and Running


The Lifeboat Inn.
Courtmacsherry's Gastro Pub Up and Running

The Lifeboat Inn in Courtmacsherry is not open a year yet but is making quite an impression in the village. Serving good local food, much of it from the nearby waters, in a casual atmosphere has been the aim of David O’Halloran and chef Martin Buckley since they started here last summer and already it is paying off for them. 

Indeed, they have “expanded” across the road where an inviting terrace has been set up with views over the water. I reckon that will be buzzing in the months ahead. So, a tip for motorists: drive slowly here and allow that server (it may well be David as he looks after front of house) get across the road!

We were there recently and the menu , as promised, has lots of fish and seafood: cod, black sole, John Dory, crab claws and prawns. And quite a bit more as well. The menu is short enough but I prefer to see a short list and high quality, and that's what you get here.

Surprisingly enough, the wine list is a long one with lots of choice. The outstanding Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc features but the New Zealand wine is one of just a few from the New World. We enjoyed the Tandem Wines Casual Rosé and an Albarino, both from Spain, two of about ten whites available by the glass. 

A few more from the New World in the reds, where I spotted the lovely Finca Florencia Malbec from Argentina; some excellent European offerings too, ranging from 22 euro to 130. And there is a bar right there in the middle offering the usual suspects plus an outstanding local craft beer by Blacks of Kinsale.

We had five starters to choose from and my choice was their Prawns in garlic and white cream with crispy sourdough on the side to soak up the cream. A simple enough dish, delicate and delicious and pleasurably dispatched. 

CL’s opener had more texture, more flavours, also a little bit more robust, and the warm Haulie’s Black-pudding salad served with apple, walnut and crispy hen’s egg was also a winner.

Aside from the fish dishes, the mains may also include a Beef Burger in a Brioche Bun with Gubbeen Cheese and Tomato or a Sirloin Steak with all the trimmings.

My choice though was the Wild Mushroom Risotto with herbs and shaved Parmesan. This was one of the best I've had, just perfect and, at €14.00, good value also.

CL meanwhile also struck gold with her Cod with a Parmesan crust, baby potato, roast cauliflower, and wild garlic (no doubt from the local wood where we had earlier walked through swathes of it in flower). The fish was pristine, the whole dish a delicious combination of textures, flavours and aromas (19.95). Go for this if it is on when you visit!.

We were tempted by the desserts but eventually decided to share the cheese board. And we got a generous selection - Milleens, Hegarty’s Cheddar and Cashel Blue - served with an outstanding pear and fig chutney and plenty of bread and crackers. Another one to look out for!

Probably not surprising that the offering is so good here. Both David and chef Martin have put in long years learning the trade in London and Dublin before settling in Courtmacsherry. Their Gastro Pub is truly up and running and well worth a call, even if it is just for a glass of wine or beer on the terrace.

While we were among just a few diners - we were in very early - it would be advisable to book ahead, especially if you are going down just for the meal as they tend to get full early on at the weekend.

The Lifeboat Inn
Main Street
Courtmacsherry
Co. Cork
Tel: (023) 886 4656
Twitter: @the_lifeboatinn 
Web: www.lifeboatinn.ie 

Other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel


Sunday, May 13, 2018

12 Tables & Tandem Winery. In vino veritas.


12 Tables & Tandem Winery
In vino veritas.

José María Fraile



In vino veritas. And truth to tell, there was good wine, good food and good company as some fifty diners enjoyed the Tandem Winery Tasting Dinner at the 12 Tables in Douglas last Wednesday. 
The welcome drink



The truth of another Latin saying, Dove regna il vino non regna il silenzio (Where wine reigns, silence does not) was also well illustrated on the night. 

But, what’s with all the Latin boy?

It is a theme at the Navarra based winery. Tandem itself is Latin for “finally” and nothing to do with bikes while the names of the individual wines are in Latin (or derived from it): Casual, Inmacula, Ars In Vitro, Ars Nova, Macula, Ars Memoria, and Inmune.




Tandem is of much more recent vintage than the ancient Latin tongue, founded in 2003 by by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. José was in the 12 Tables having left Pamplona at 5.00am that morning on a route that brought him to Cork via Madrid and London.

He was introduced by Nicolas Sicot of O’Brien’s Wines who import the Tandem wines. “I love organising these events, love to share the wines. It's great to meet the people behind the label and delighted to have José here. Dave Farrell has worked wonders and has come up with a great menu to go with the wines.”

José admitted to being delighted with the full house. “It is incredible. I hope you enjoy the dinner and the Navarra wine. I feel very humbled and proud; it would be hard to match this crowd in Spain!”
Duck

The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings.

Their rosé, or at least the very first version of it, was more or less an accident and hence the name Casual. A very enjoyable accident though, as we appreciated on arrival.

The kitchen, with chef-patron Dave Farrell at the head, produced an excellent starter: Serrano wrapped Monkfish, spiced crevettes, roast pepper purée, pistachios pickled samphire and Parmesan cream. And the wine was the Immacula (meaning without blemish), a blend of mostly Viognier and 15% Viura. It is fermented in French oak (not new) and kept on its fine lees for three months to gain texture and volume. “It is very successful for us and highly rated and there is nothing of it left at the winery.” We were on a winner.

Immune was the next wine, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.” He, and we, were enjoying the meal: “Amazing dishes.”

Up next was Jack McCarthy’s black pudding rosti, caramelised Radicchio, golden beets, wild mushroom, Crozier blue cheese and aged balsamic. Quite a lot going on in that plate and José had a favourite wine to match, the Ars in Vitro (art in glass), an unfiltered, unoaked wine with fruit and fragrance and a silky palate, raised for a minimum of two years. “How wine for me should taste,” remarked Jose. 

This 2014 has been raised in concrete. “Nowadays, concrete is accepted, the epoxy lining has made the difference, more complexity, more tannins, more colour, finesse and elegance.” It is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot.




The wines and the food reached a high point with the main course. Jose introduced his Ars Nova, a 2014 blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fresh, fruity and long. Ageing is a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. “More complex, more spice and great with lamb.”

Great too with duck as it turned out as the kitchen pulled out all the stops with Tea Brined Skeaghanore Duck breast, Almond and Apricot roulade, potato confit, charred onion, baby carrots and roast shallot purée. Quite a climax.

We eased out with a Trio of Artisanal Cheese with Fig Jam. The cheeses were Roquefort, Milleens and Tipperary Cheddar and the wine was Mácula, described as “a masculine wine of good length” and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from 2011. Tandem are slow to let their wines off to market. This, for instance, spends a minimum 24 months in concrete and 26 months in 300-litre French oak barrels.

José was delighted with the reception for his wines. “It has been an incredible dinner, fantastic being here. I'm so happy.” Nicolas thanked the kitchen and front of house at 12 Tables saying “We’ll do it again!”, a sentiment that went down well. In vino veritas.

You may view a video of José talking about Tandem and its wines here
Check the Tandem wines in stock at O’Brien’s website or just call in to Nico at their Douglas branch!
All the news, including menus, from 12 Tables in Douglas is here; also on their Facebook page.

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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Three Wines of Gérard Bertrand

Three Wines of Gérard Bertrand
Gérard Bertrand’s company in the south of France now has a total of 14 vineyards. Two thirds or so have been converted to biodynamic and his plan is to make all 750 hectares biodynamique by 2020, according to Decanter (August) 2017),”making this the largest group of biodynamic estates in the world”. L’Hospitalet is their flagship vineyard and, according to the Bertrand website, “the jewel of the Languedoc-Roussillon”. 

Gérard was an accomplished rugby player, capped three times by France “A” and played at a high level with local club Narbonne. His love of both rugby and wine was encouraged by his father, a Corbieres grower and a top-level ruby referee.

Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Sud de France (IGP) 2014, 15%, €38.95 (got it at 28.95 on offer) O’Brien’s.

The majority of the Bertrand wines are the issue of “agriculture biodynamique” and this is one. The fruit has been sourced from the best sites on Domaine Cigalus and the varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Caladoc - “Bordeaux varietals with local Languedoc varieties" as he told me in Cork last November.

The Cigalus colour is a deep ruby and legs, as you'd expect, are slow to clear. Aromas were aptly summed up by a tasting partner as “yummy plum-y”. It is opulent on the palate, dark fruit again featuring strongly, some spice too. The sun and moon play a part in all vineyard decisions and it worked out well here, leaving us with a celestial finalé. Very Highly Recommended. Try with roasted red meat, poultry “en sauce”, mature cheeses.
An old "tracteur" in a Languedoc Wine Museum

Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Villemajou Corbieres Boutenac (AP) 2014, 14.5%, €20.95 (got it at 16.76 on offer) O’Brien’s

Villemajou, planted mainly with Syrah and Carignan, was the family home and is the spearhead of the Boutenac Premier Cru appellation in the low barren hills of the northern part of Corbieres, split by the A61 between Carcassonne and Narbonne. The wines are fruity, spicy and, even when young, have silky and incredibly fine tannins.


The blend in this red is mainly Syrah and Carignan while Grenache and Mourvedre are also used; it spends 10-12 months in oak. It is a fairly deep garnet with aromas of stewed fruit aromas, hints of coffee. On the palate, it is fruity, spicy and silky. Quite an impressive concentrated drop - the vineyard predicts it will age well - and Highly Recommended.



Gérard Bertrand Domaine de L’Aigle Pinot Noir Haut Vallée de L’Aude (IGP) 2014, 13.5%, €19.95 (got it at 15.56 on offer) O’Brien’s


The domaine, at 500 metres, is high for the Languedoc and harvests are later. The combination has its advantages: “..it preserves the aromas of the grapes as well as giving the wine a durability… and maintains a high natural acidity…. The characteristic vinification process focuses on the important effect of wood.. the use of barrels is significant.”

Colour is a mid ruby red. There is an aromatic nose indeed but it is the vanilla that seems to dominate the fruit. So, as they say themselves, the nine months in French oak is significant.

On the palate, it is soft, elegant, fruity and spicy. Must say I was relieved to sense the fruit back in velvety control here plus that matching acidity, all the way through to a long finish. Another well-structured Bertrand wine and another Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Have you met Dornfelder? Let me introduce you.

Lingenfelder Dornfelder 2011, Grosskarlbacher Osterberg Pfalz, 12.5%, €18.95 O’Brien’s

The Dornfelder grape is a modern (1955) crossing which is well suited to the cool climate of Germany (and getting popular in England too). It is packed with red berry fruit and soft round tannins and this delicious example is reminiscent of good Pinot Noir.

The Lingenfelder brothers, Karl-Friedrich (left) and Georg, gave me a crash course on the grape when I met them at O’Brien's November Wine Fair. Their Dornfelder grapes come from a single vineyard Osterberg (Easter Hill). 

They practice sustainable viticulture and promote bio-diversity on all their vineyards and in the cellar there is no yeast culture addition, no fining, minimal filtering and no chaptalisation. The family, centuries in wine-making, are best known for their Rieslings.

The Dornfelder, which has spent six months in big oak barrels, ancient containers, has a rich ruby colour. The fresh and fragrant aromas speak of red fruit, floral notes too, herbs, maybe something even wilder. It is full bodied, red berry fruit (cherry, blackberry), slightly spicy, a touch tannic too. I found it very satisfying at the Wine Fair last November and this bottle confirms that good first impression. Very Highly Recommended.


Grapes and Wine may not go as far (perhaps they haven’t tasted the Lingenfelder version) but admit the grape, the second most planted red in Germany, has a certain honesty: “..it doesn't pretend to be more than a well-coloured, juicily fruited grape… and it fulfils that role very well.”

Pinot Noir is the most important red wine grape in Germany. Known as Spätburgunder, nearly 11,5% of the vineyard area is planted with it. On the white side, Riesling and Müller-Thurgau account for some 43% of Germany's 105,000 hectares of vineyards. (source: http://www.germanwines.de/ )

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. A Short List Of Favourites!



Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. 
A Short List Of Favourites!

With a little help from the recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine, we have been tasting our way through quite a few wines from the peninsula and its islands. Such a range of terroirs, such a range of wines from the cool foothills of the Alps to the heat of Puglia out to the hot islands with their cooling breezes. You won't find the very expensive classics here but I think the selection below contains some excellent wines at reasonable prices. And they all are readily available in Ireland. Just click on the links for review, supplier and price details and don't forget to come back here. Enjoy.


Red
Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015
Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012
La Vigne di Sammarco Salice Salentino (DOP) 2014
La Vigne di Sammarco Primitivo di Manduria (DOP) 2015
Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012
Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG)
Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013
Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009

Orange
La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011


White
Pighin Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli (DOC) 2015
Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013
Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%
Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015
Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015
Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015
Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012

Dessert
Masi Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (DOC) 2012

Context: The Modern History of Italian Wine

 See the posts from the Italian series:

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

From the Islands. Vermentino from Sardinia And a Grillo from Sicily

From the Islands
Vermentino from Sardinia

And a Grillo from Sicily

According to Vino Italiano, “the deepest expression of the grape is found among the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG wines” and we've got a beauty for you below.

Over the centuries, and up to quite recently, Sardinia (just like Italy in general) was going for quantity over quality in wine. For example Vino Italia says that in 1974, the island’s Trexenta Co-op made about 100,000 hectolitres from more than two thousand acres. By the early years of this century, they were producing 15,000 to 20,000 hectolitres from 700 acres approx.

No wonder then that The Modern History of Italian Wine, a book I keep referring to in this current series, hail Cantina Gallura in the zone of the same name, under director Dino Addis, as one of the most influential Italian wine-makers of the 1990s. The large co-operative was persuaded to reduce yield from 150 to 90 quintals. There were other changes, most noticeably “an immediate loss of income”.

But, “the courage to change” led to “a winning decision” and in 1996, they obtained the DOCG, “the first and only one in Sardinia”. 

Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013, 12%, €17.85 Le Caveau
Colour here is a light straw. There are modest white fruit aromas, floral notes too. Smooth, dry and fruity on the palate, a great depth of flavour (apple and melon) and concentration along with a long citrus-y finish. Good acidity too and they recommend trying it with fish dishes, vegetable soups, salads, and white meats. I found it excellent as an aperitif. Don't over-chill this gem, serve at 10-12 degrees and you'll have a very agreeable winner. Very Highly Recommended.

Cusumano Shamaris Grillo Sicilia (DOC) 2015, 13%, €18.95 (€14.95 on sale) O’Brien’s

A surprisingly excellent wine of no little heft, helped by four months on fine lees, from a modest grape, Grillo, that is supposed to be on the wane on the island of Sicily. US wine critic James Suckling regularly gives Shamaris good marks, including 91 points for this vintage.

It has a mid gold colour, bright. There are inviting white fruit aromas, blossom notes too. Fresh and lively fruit (including melon), good body, lovely balance, acidity of course and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.

According to The Modern History of Italian Wine (my current “bible” on the subject), Cusumano (founded in 2001) are one of the drivers of Italian wine in this century and “an extraordinary commercial success”. “There’s a piece of the land..in each of our labels”.  Their other varietals (which include Nero D’Avola) may well be worth watching out for.