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Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Three Wines. And a few beers!
Valdivia Dorius Amontillado seco sherry, Jerez (DO), 18%, €17.85 (50cls) Karwig Wines.
This dry amontillado is the perfect match for meat dishes and mature cheese and vanished very quickly here, where it was used as an aperitif - so quickly, I didn't have time to take any notes.
To get the best from its generous aromas and flavours, serve it at between 12 and 14 degrees. It has lovely amber colour, a rich almond nose, a nutty and tangy flavour and the superb finish goes on and on. And you can get all this from just one little sip. Very Highly Recommended. Enjoy, with all five senses, as they invite on the bottle.
Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €11.29 Aldi
Had to pick up a sparkling wine in a hurry and got this Brut (dry) in at the local Aldi. A few hours later, I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, was perfect for our little celebration. It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, a hint of biscuit (that you find in champagnes), and a fine finish. Good price too. Very Highly Recommended.
Barefoot Merlot (California), 13.5%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
“Wine tastes better in a tee than in a tux”, Barefoot say. So you’re thinking cheap and cheerful, nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with this Merlot either. This is smooth and warming, full of raspberry and blackberry flavours, mild tannins, well balanced too and with a decent finish. It is an easy-drinker and good value.
Cloudwater Session IPA Wai-iti 4.5%
Thought this was an American brewery but they are from Manchester. Brexit or not, this is an excellent beer, a superb IPA. You’ll get hoppier but the balance here is spot-on and as a result, the beer is well worth a try. You may not get it in Old Trafford or The Etihad but you’ll certainly find a bottle in Bradley’s.
St Bernardus Wit, 5.5%,
St Bernardus has quite a smile and his abbey beers deliver every time. As they do with this perfect wheat beer. This traditional Belgian wheat beer is more or less a perfect example of the type, with clove notes, very refreshing, your perfect thirst quencher. Thirsty? Bradley’s have this answer.
St Bernardus Abt 12, 10%
Another big delivery from the Belgians, the big here referring to the alcohol at 10%. Not a big worry though; the beer is perfectly balanced between malty, bitter and sweet. It has fruity aromas, is full bodied with a hoppy touch on the finish.
They say: It is the pride of our stable, the nec plus ultra of our brewery. Abbey ale brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Whiskey and Sherry
Patience and Time
These are two of the best drinks. Two of the best birthday presents also, one I gave myself, the other from a good friend of mine. There is a strong relationship between the distillery in Midleton where the John’s Lane is produced and Jerez area in Spain where the Neo comes from.
Powers John’s Lane Release, Single Pot Still Whiskey
I’ve been enjoying this rather special whiskey recently. Started with a glass (€9.00) in the Grand National Hotel in Ballina. Next up, it was part of a tasting trio in the Midleton distillery. I loved it there and had another glass (7.50) in the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder in Killarney. The affair was fully cemented when I treated myself to a birthday bottle at Bradley’s (69.00).
Let’s start with the bare bones. This is a Single Pot Still whiskey. The ABV is 46% and it has been produced at the distillery in Midleton where it has been matured for not less than 12 years in first fill Bourbon casks.
What first attracted me, still does, are the outstanding flavours. It is nicely spiced from the still. Raised in US (mainly) and Spanish casks, there is vanilla on the nose, also a light apricot.
Twelve years (at least) of maturation is rewarded with outstanding flavour and complexity, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, spices, all there together to a long long finish. It is 46% so the advice is to add a few drops of water. Nothing else is needed to get the best from this Very Highly Recommended beauty.
* When you buy a bottle, you’ll also get Alfred Barnard’s detailed account of John Lane’s Distillery in the Dublin of 1886. Wonder what’s his Twitter handle?
Gonzalez Byass Noe Old Pedro Ximenez Sherry, 15.5%, RRP €39.50 (on offer at €31.60 here at Wines of the World).
If you like sweet wines, as I do, then this sherry, aged 30 years, is irresistible.
The Pedro Ximenez, and this is one hundred per cent PX, is a usual grape for sweet sherry. Here, the PX has been enriched by the age old “soleo” sun-drying method, then matured in oak for thirty years.
And the result is incredible, one of the best wines you’ll ever come across. The colour is a deep ebony. The warm aromas are rich with sweet succulent raisins, figs, spices too.
It is complex and intense on the palate, rich and dense, very sweet, smooth, luscious and silky, concentration is very high yet it is fresh and clean. And the finish, with notes of coffee, caramel, toffee, and liquorice, goes on and on.
It is the perfect dessert wine, even on its own. But you’ll find it excels over vanilla ice-cream or with dark chocolate. The advice is to serve it slightly chilled or indeed at room temperature.
You’ll long remember the superb fragrance and intense bouquet acquired in the silence and shade of the cellars. Very Highly Recommended.
* Noe has been ranked in the Top 100 wines in the US and is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
* Noe has been ranked in the Top 100 wines in the US and is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
Monday, September 5, 2016
A Premium Sherry
Follow My Apostoles
Apostoles Palo Cortado V.O.R.S., 20% abv, González Byass (Jerez), c €23.95 (37.5cl) in Bradley’s, Cork.
This is an amazing sherry, a serious one, yet a wine to have fun with. Try it with your favourite paté. In the English Market I picked up some delicious Chicken Liver Paté, the brandy and garlic version, from On the Pig’s Back. This proved to be a superb pairing.
I was a little worried about complicating it further but couldn't resist adding a taste of Harty’s Cumberland & Port Jelly to the pair. Now, I had a triple to relish. Not quite a ménage à trois, but sexy! Cheese and red meats are also recommended as partners for the sherry.
The dark amber liquid is complex, full of aromas and flavours of concentrated fruit, soft on the palate and so concentrated that a sip goes a long way. Savour it for a while, the hints of sweetness, explore the tangy notes, the salty notes and then enjoy that very long smooth finish. Smooth from start to finish in fact.
This Very Highly Recommended wine has been a long time in the making, thirty years no less. I’ll let the winemakers tell the story of this blend of Palomino (87%) and Pedro Ximenez (13%): As soon as the Palomino grapes reach the winery they are gently pressed using pneumatic presses without crushing the stems, seeds or skins. This must from the first light pressing is called ‘yema’ and is the most elegant and delicate must. The Pedro Ximenez grapes are lightly pressed separately. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks and classification, the Palomino wine is fortified to 18%, the PX to 15.5%.
The wines then enter their own separate Soleras of American oak barrels to begin their aging in contact with the air. After an average of twelve years, the wines are blended and enter the Apostoles Solera where they will remain for a further 18 years following the traditional Solera system.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Lustau Dinner at Ballymaloe
Sherry with every course. Of Course!
Sherry with every course. Of Course!
|Paco, Scott and Manolo|
Jerez came to Ballymaloe on Wednesday night and Lustau oenologist, Manolo Lozano, who has been named “Best Fortified Winemaker of the Year seven years in a row by the International Wine Challenge of London” brought some delicious wines with him and they were well matched by Ballymaloe chef Scott Walsh.
Manolo, accompanied by friend and translator Paco Lozano (unrelated), was here to visit Irish Distillers in nearby Midleton and the dinner at Ballymaloe celebrated the links between the two companies. The distillery was well represented with Kevin O'Gorman, Master of Maturation; Billy Leighton Master Blender; and Ger Buckley, Master Cooper, among the diners.
The Spanish visitors gave us a brief introduction to their sherries. Manolo: “Jerez is one of the oldest wine regions in Spain… just three varieties are used, Palomino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez…. we used the solera system, a dynamic system, to get the characteristics we want… there are no yearly vintages….” To read all about Lustao, including the methods of production, click here.
|"A style for every occasion"|
There are different types of aging for the dry and for the sweet and the casks used are made from either Spanish or American oak with a capacity of five to six hundred litres. We had Fino Jarana both as aperitif and as a match for the first course: Toasted Almonds, Wild Watercress and Honey Salad.
Manolo explained the flor, the “veil of yeast” that covers the young wine in a biological process (see diagram below). Hence the pale colour, the salty nose with hints of yeast. “It is elegant, with nutty (almond) elements”. Chef Walsh had gathered his watercress and had a good word to say about the recent storm Barney: “It is a great time to gather watercress, the storm increased the water flow and enhanced its peppery flavour. A sprinkle of sea salt clinched it”. A perfect match indeed.
|Ballymaloe's Colm McCan (left) with his|
guests from near and far.
Then we were on to the Amontillado Los Arcos, a darker sherry. This is raised first under flor and then after the addition of higher alcohol has killed off the flor, the second maturation begins. Colour is amber and while the palate “reminds of Fino, the nutty flavour is no longer that of almond”. The chef had a big challenge here in trying to do it justice. So he used cured farm pork and the fat in the smoked meat “made the match”. The full title: Ballymaloe Kasler, white bean and Parsley tostado.
The first two sherries were dry, under 5 grams per litre, and so was the third, the mahogany coloured Oloroso Don Nuno, “raised in the same casks that Irish Distillers now have!” Alcohol here is 20 per cent. The wine here has been selected from the start to be Oloroso so there is no flor at all. All three start “very plain. Then we develop what we want. It is a very good wine, a strong wine for red meat, for game. Hard to match!”
Scott came up with the answer, even if there are now “no cow tails left in Midleton”. “There’s a lot of meat on a cow, “ he said. “But just one tail!”. The dish was Braised Ox Tail with Romanesco, tomato, lentils. And we believe that both red and white wine, even some brandy were also added. The chef was hoping the sherry would “cut the richness and the fat” and neither he nor we were disappointed. A superb pairing indeed.
Now we were onto the sweet Moscatel sherry (200 g of sugar per liter). “This is not allowed to ferment at all; alcohol is added immediately to allow natural sugar remain in the wine. Grapes are pressed, fermentation is stopped. The Pedro Ximenez grapes (450g), on the other hand, are “transformed” by sun-drying prior to pressing.
|Scott and Yours Truly|
Before he and Paco sat down to enjoy their desserts, Manolo asked us to consider sherry in a new light. “Don't forget, sherry is a wine. It is very versatile and there is a style for every occasion.” They had indeed demonstrated exactly that.
The chef had come up with a divine Steamed Kumquat Pudding for the Moscatel Emilin while the PX San Emilio was paired with Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice-cream. The PX was supposed to be drizzled over the ice-cream but you know the Irish drizzle!
There was one further liquid treat in store for us, a glass of Redbreast 21 year old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Master Blender at Midleton Distillery is Billy Leighton: “The Redbreast family is all based on whiskey raised in sherry casks. Paco and Manolo have been of tremendous help to us in Jerez. We get the best quality cases and that leads to the best quality whiskey”.
“There is a succulent fruitiness on the nose more so than on the 12 years old, a heavier style. Secret is to match the sherry flavours with the spicy whiskey, get that balance of fruitiness and spices. And that taste is full and silky, smooth and, even at 46% abv, it slips down nicely before the fruitiness slowly fades away and it drys out leaving the barley at the very end. Sláinte!”
And Sláinte indeed to everyone at Ballymaloe. A privilege to be there at Manolo's first ever sherry dinner in Ireland.
For more info check Lustau website
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Taste of the Week
Redbreast Mano a Lámh
Some were worried that this limited edition Redbreast Mano a Lámh would be dominated by the sherry, the whiskey having been matured exclusively in first fill Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.
Certainly, you get sherry aromas, especially early on, and indeed some flavours too but, no mistake about it, this is very much a whiskey, very much a Redbreast, enhanced by its encounter with the Spanish wood and is my Taste of the Week.
If you join the Stillhouse (no fee), you’ll get special offers from time to time. Not sure though if they have any of the original 2000 bottles of this one left. Must say, aside from the odd offer, there is a wealth of information on the site and it is well worth a look.
The Single Pot Still site: Redbreast Mano a Lámh is being released exclusively to members of The Stillhouse. While the core Redbreast range is matured in a combination of American bourbon and Spanish oloroso butts, Redbreast Mano a Lámh luxuriates in this signature sherry style by bringing together whiskeys which have been matured exclusively in first fill Spanish oloroso sherry casks, imparting distinct, rich, fruity flavours and a full body.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Aromas give the game away!
Del Duque Amontillado, Jerez (aged 30 years), 21.5%, €22.99 Bradley’s, North Main Street.
Del Duque Amontillado, Jerez (aged 30 years), 21.5%, €22.99 Bradley’s, North Main Street.
The minute she walked in the room, I lost all chance of keeping the precious 37.5cl bottle of Del Duque Amontillado for myself.
“What is that aroma?”, she asked, enthusiastically. “Toastie? Caramel? So sharp. So clear. Where is is coming from?” I just had to offer her a glass. Knowing full well it wouldn't stop at that.
Now that this Gonzalez Byass bottle was out in the open - had been under a small coffee table - I could really appreciate its brilliant amber colour, even enjoy those marvellous aromas, fruit and floral notes there too and hints of cinnamon.
Little sips will do you, I advised. And took that advice myself. Thirty years on - the wine, that is, not us - the palate is dry and lively, aromas everywhere in those intense and complex flavours, such concentration and, of course, that marvellous finish. Don't go chilling this by the way - serve it at room temperature, with some mature Hegarty’s cheddar perhaps.
A Glass of Croft for the Cook!
Croft Triple Crown Ruby Port, c.€17.50 O’Donovan’s
Needed a glass of Port for a favourite liver recipe the other evening. But the cupboard was bare! A quick dash (maybe not that quick, I did have the dog in tow) to the local O'Donovan's Off Licence uncovered this one (and in fairness, quite a few more).
This full bodied very approachable ruby is quite fruity with a decent bit of spice.Three years in seasoned oak hasn't done it any harm at all. It did its sweet job with the liver and the glass for the cook, recommended by the O'Donovan's manager, went down very well indeed.
Ruby ports are also ideal with the cheese-board and this could hold its own with Crozier or Cashel Blue. Or maybe just have it on its own.
The company of Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman is one of the most significant of all Port producers. They own a number of Port houses, including Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft. Ruby port is the cheapest and most extensively produced type of port. It does not generally improve with age.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Sherry Baby. Sorry, I’m Late
Missed Sherry Week - didn't have the nerve to ask for one in Bordeaux - but made amends immediately on returning home by opening a bottle of Lustau’s Palo Cortado. Palo Cortado is one of the ten (at least) styles of sherry, coming midway in the range between light and dark, between Fino and Pedro Ximenez, "combining the delicate bouquet of an Amontillado with the body and palate of an Oloroso".
The Lustau Solera Reserva Palo Cortado Peninsula, to give it its full title, is a terrific example of the style. It has an ABV of 19 per cent (usually about 15 for a Fino) and its inviting bouquet is followed by rich nutty flavours.
I bought mine at Bradley’s, North Main Street. They sell it in a handy 37.5 cl sized bottle - you don't want your sherry hanging around too long. In the “olden” days, the Sherry bottle was kept from Christmas to Christmas. God knows, maybe the postman knows, what it tasted like after five years in the back of the cupboard! Sherry, presumably in good condition, has been described by Alexander Fleming (the discoverer of penicillin) as the best remedy against disease.
I’ve seen a recommendation, from those that know, that this style, once opened, should be kept tightly corked in the fridge for no more than 6 weeks. No excuse for keeping a 37.5 cl bottle that long though. Unlike other wines, the sherry bottle should be stored upright in order to reduce the surface of wine exposed to oxidation to a minimum.
And oxidation does kick in immediately, so don't put off finishing your bottle. Lots of appropriate moments to enjoy your Palo Cortado. Use it as an aperitif and other recommendations from the folks in Jerez (the only place in the world where Sherry is made) include using it with nuts, cured cheese, cold meats, tuna, game, and stewed meat. Ideal serving temperature is 12-14 degrees celsius.
Now, in which corner of the fridge did I leave that Lustau?
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Port, Sherry, Madeira. All treasures. Each superb in its own right.
The Fortified Wines Event at Ballymaloe LitFest.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.”
|Mightn't look like it but they are singing from the same hymn sheet!|
Raymond Blake (left) and Tom Doorley in the Tractor Shed
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."
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, March 6, 2014
César Saldaña on Sherry. And where the rain really falls.
The rain in Spain doesn’t fall mainly on the plain. That’s the story according to César Saldaña.
And he should know. He is an expert speaker on Jerez, its wines, food, culture and history and,since 2000, has been Director General of the Consejo Regulador de las Denominación de Origen de los Vinos de Jerez. He was in Little Island's impressive Radisson Blu Hotel on Wednesday, with Wines from Spain,presenting two information sessions on Sherry.
César says the rain falls mainly on mountain tops in the Jerez area.That rain is important to sherry as is the nearby Atlantic Ocean and the local rivers, especially the Guadalquivir. They and 300 days of sunshine help make Sherry what it is. As does the local white chalk soil (the Albariza) that captures the water and also reflects the sun upwards to the fruit.
The harvest date is getting earlier, perhaps due to global warming. For the past eight years, it has started in August rather than September as previously. In any event, rapid harvesting is essential.
|The protective veil of the Flor|
Sherry, as you probably know, has many different styles, from pale to dark, from dry to sweet. The dry comes from fresh grapes while the sweet comes from grapes that have been late-harvested or sun-dried.
He took us through the details after the harvest, from the 1st Yema onwards, including the making of wine alcohol (to be added later for fortification) and, of course the Flor, the biological aging method that most famously produces the Fino and the Manzanilla. Broadly speaking, the darker sherries come via oxidative ageing, though in the corridors of the Consejo Regulador it may be more PC to use the term traditional aging.
The process continues on to the unique system known as criaderas y solera, basically stacks of casks. The row on the floor contains the oldest wine and is called the solera, the rows above (the top one contains the youngest wine) are called criaderas. As sherry is taken out (for bottling) from the bottom, new wine is added on top.
“ The wines of sherry are of different generations. No one person made that bottle. Nor can he claim that he made it.” Wines have been made here since Phoenician times and it is the traditions that make sherry so special.
How special, we were about to find out. We started with La Goya Manzanilla by Delgado Zuleta, a very traditional house in Sanlucar. “After five years aging and protected by the flor, it still has that beautiful straw yellow colour. It has a very dry finish, an acquired taste. It is a best seller locally and a very good example.”
César made little of the difference between Manzanillo and Fino and a well known Fino was next on the list: the Tio Pepe by Gonzalez Byass. He again pointed out the typical straw yellow colour and said it was excellent as an aperitif and with tapas. “It is a classic Fino and the best selling.”
The next wine was not pale but amber. This was a Monteagudo Amontillado, again from Delgado Zuleta. He told us that prolonged aging had led to increased concentration, still the dryness, more alcoholic with a long finish and persistent in the aftertaste. “A very good example.”
We moved a little further up the abv with the next bottle, the Villapanes Oloroso Seco from the traditional house of Emilio Hidalgo. “Rather robust and evident presence of seasoned wood, smooth in the swallow and with great persistency in the aftertaste.”
Now we were onto the sweeter sherries with English descriptors, cream for instance. That was how the English (and not just the English) liked them. Harvey's Bristol Cream has been in many an Irish home (sometimes for far too long, say from Christmas to Christmas) but it surprised more than me at the tasting.
Like the previous wines, it is made from the Palomino grape, but has come through the oxidative route and has a mahogany colour. We were told it has 120 grammes of sugar per litre (much less than the next one). It is quite a complex wine, nicely sweet (without being in any way sticky), with a lovely velvety texture. At €14.99 for a full bottle, I must put it back on buying list! Pretty good value too, as indeed are many of these sherries.
No prizes for guessing that we completed the session with a PX, shorthand for the Pedro Ximenez grape. This 30 year old Pedro Ximenez Noe is produced by Gonzalez Byass and has close to 450 grammes of sugar per litre. The colour, considering that this is originally a white wine, is amazingly dark. “It is rich and dense, yet fresh, clean and fruity, concentration is very high and you get notes of coffee, caramel, toffee, liquorice in the aftertaste.”
* I’ve probably gone on a bit longer than normal here but sherry is a fascinating subject. If you want to read more on the subject why not check out the official site here www.sherry.org/en
Wines from Spain Take Over in Little Island
|Meeting up at last with Mary Pawle|
Met some old faces and some new at the large 2014 Wines from Spain Tasting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island (Cork) last Wednesday. As a teenager I was often up and down the road, then a country lane, outside Ditchley House where the hotel is located. Good stories there, but I think I'd better stick with the wines.
With a sherry workshop with César Saldaña, Consejo Regulador Jerez, imminent, time was pressing so I didn't have the chance to get to all the tables but I was determined to get to one in particular. I've been chatting on Twitter, on and off, from home and abroad, to Mary Pawle, so it was great to meet up in person and taste some of her gorgeous organic wines.The 2012 Lignum Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay) and the 2011 Lignum Negre (Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon), both DO Pinedes, are her “flagship” wines and one can taste why. Well worth trying. From the same organic producer, Albet I Noyo, comes a terrific Tempranillo Classic 2012. This is truly excellent. “The vineyard are very proud of this one, “ said Mary. “They feel it is a true expression of the Tempranillo.”
|Sparkling! Brid Carter|
Always delighted to meet the folks from Karwig and they had Frank and Marcus in attendance. Started here with a couple of whites produced from the Airen grape but, wouldn't you know it, it was an Albarino that caught the taste buds here, a complex well balanced 2011 effort by Vina Almirante. Keep an eye out for this as it has been highly rated by Decanter.
Bren Smith of Mackenway was next door to Karwig’s and he had some tempting reds on offer including the Museum Real Reserva 2006. If the budget doesn't stretch to the 2006 (22.99), the Vinea Crianza 2009,from the same producer, is recommended at €17.99.
In between, there are two other reds worth looking at. One is the Coto de Imaz Reserva 2008, a Rioja Tempranillo, and the other is the Las Rocas Garnacha which has lots of flavours and a good dry finish. Do you like Verdejo? I do and I’d recommend their Montespina 2013, DO Rueda, by Avelino Vegas, fresh, clean and zesty.
|Simple label says much.|
At the James Nicholson table, the Paco Garcia Seis 2012 Rioja Tempranillo went down well though perhaps not quite as well as the Baltos 2011 Bierzo by Dominio de Tares, made from the local Mencia grape. But the big news here was the imminent departure of their long time rep Conor O’Brien. He is off to pastures new and he introduced us to his replacement Richard Reeves, well known from his time at the Chop House in Lismore. Best of luck to both of them.
My introduction to Brid and Colm Carter, the friendly couple behind Honest2Goodness wines, came via a refreshing drop of their gorgeous cava, the DDLV Brut NV. No wonder I was impressed as this is produced by Dominio de la Vega, three times best Cava producer in Spain! Brid and Colm’s wines come from organic certified producers and from suppliers who farm with respect for the environment.
When I went back to their table for the reds, Colm introduced me to “a steel fist in a velvet glove”. Frenchman Francois Lurton’s Tinta de Toro 2011 is impressively smooth yet so well balanced that its 15.5% abv is well disguised. Bodega Los Barrancos, in the Granada area, is organically certified and their 2008 Corral de Castro is another gem. Indeed, they had a very impressive line-up of reds here and another ace was the Tres Patas 2008 (DO Mentrida), a blend of Garnacha and Syrah.
|Superb Cava from Honest2Goodness|
You can see that Colm, on his wine travels, gets to areas others just don't reach. Next time, I must take a closer look at their whites and, of course, have another sip of that Cava.
By the way,while on a drive through La Rioja one day in 2012, I called to a few vineyards, the last being the unusual glass-cubed Bai Gorri near the ancient town of Samaniego. We were received by a young Spanish lady who had learned her English in Cork, right here in Little Island!.
|Ins & Outs at James Nicholson.|
Conor O'Brien (left) and replacement Richard Reeves.