Showing posts with label Supervalu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supervalu. Show all posts

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Meet The Producers. All Winners at Blas2017 in Dingle

Meet The Producers
All Winners at Blas2017 in Dingle

(This is Part Two on the evening in the bank. See Part One here.)
Aoife of Galtee Honey

Bank of Ireland Startups, who helped get the successful Backyard feature off the ground during this year’s Blas Awards in Dingle, hosted a number of follow-up events last Tuesday, including one at their premises in Patrick Street, Cork. Joe McNamee was the moderator for the evening and the principal speakers were Artie Clifford of Blas and local chef Kate Lawlor. After the welcome and introductions, Joe asked Aoife of Galtee Honey Farm  to tell her story.

Aoife was brought into bee-keeping by her father and she said provenance was very important. “Genuine Irish honey has great flavour and complexity. It is because of our great bio-diversity, different flowers, different flavours. The native Irish black bees are under threat and we as a group are trying to preserve them”.

“Labelling is a problem, the public can be misled quite easily. Do check the label. Blas can help with awareness. Quality will cost more so Irish will cost more. This summer was great, we won't be running out of honey before the next harvest.”

Francis, a West Cork man, is with North Cork Creameries. “It is a small co-op, one of the originals. We sell milk and butter under our Kanturk brand and we also supply Supervalu. The butter is available in the Kanturk area and in Supervalus in the region generally.” Joe added that a lot of the milk in the supermarkets is not coming from the cattle you see grazing in the Republic’s fields but from indoor herds across the border.
Francis of North Cork Creameries


All of the producer speakers were winners at Blas 2017 and Avril, representing Caherbeg Pork, Ross-carbery Recipes,  and, most recently, Rosscarbery Biltong, is no stranger to Blas awards. 

Son Maurice is following in her footsteps with the Biltong, a dried beef product of African origin. Indeed, the machines used in West Cork are from Africa. Both Maurice and brother William are big into fitness and that inspired the move. He wouldn't be an Allshire if he didn't focus on quality and he does. Had a taste the other evening and no wonder it won a silver in Dingle. Seaweed and spice have been added and it is a handy and well priced packet.
Avril (Rosscarbery Recipes) and, right, Kate Lawlor

Avril just loves Blas and Dingle: “Food is at the core of it but the people make it. You are never on your own.”

More butter, but with a twist, as Mary and Billy from Waterford took to the stage with their Irish Gourmet Butter. They are in the early stages of development but still advanced enough to feature in Dingle where their Garlic & Herb stood out. Their butter is flavoured: cranberry and orange and Cointreau (have it with the Christmas pud) and cinnamon and honey (ideal on French Toast) are two examples. They are building on a long family tradition as Granny was an All-Ireland Butter Champion so food is in the family.
Artie and Tom Durcan (right)

Tom Durcan is a spice beef master and the Corkman is a huge supporter of the Blas Awards. “When I won in Blas, I milked it, got great contracts from it. It is definitely the most honest food competition going. To win, or even to be a finalist, opens doors. Do something, do it right, the world’s your oyster. Blas is a fantastic road for anyone in food to take. Great help available there. Thanks to Artie and to everyone involved.”

Sarah from Nut Case hasn't got quite the long experience of Tom but she too acknowledged the value of Blas. Their nut burger won gold this year. “It makes such a difference to us when we call to the shops.” We is Sarah and husband Mick who, in 2006, was made redundant. But he then took the 12-week course in Ballymaloe and they began checking their aunt’s nut business in the UK.
Sarah of Nut Case

They started Nut Case with a Nut Roast but after entering the SuperValu Academy found that their burger was outselling the roast. So they concentrated on the burger and their judgement was confirmed with that gold in Dingle. It is popular and they have many repeat customers. They place great value too on Farmers Markets, learning from the feed back.

“It is still early days, still doing it all by hand. Very time consuming but very satisfying. We are now included on the Body Chef menu so it’s a good success story for us”.

Joe McNamee then asked Kate Lawlor if she had any concerns for the Irish food story and she pointed to misleading labels and Artie agreed. They both hope that education in food, from an early age, can help counter this problem. And both agreed that if your product is being misrepresented, that you are fully entitled to shout long and loud about it.

Mary and Billy of Gourmet Butter
talk to Joe McNamee (left)
But McNamee wanted to finish on a positive note and prompted the main pair. Kate: “We are getting known for our food culture. We are value for money. We need to keep the small suppliers going. It is an exciting time.”

Artie: “I’d like to see it continue as it’s going, state agencies and producer groups pulling together. We have the raw ingredients and they are now being better used, the freshest, the best, all driven by passion, our biggest selling point. From bar food to silver service, the quality of Irish food is high and can improve even further.”

Reckon Joe got his wish there. And we had all seen the passion from the producers on the night. Consumers are key too. Check that label and buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together the further we can go.

This is Part Two on the evening in the bank. See Part One here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SuperValu Christmas Wines. Six of the Best!


SuperValu Christmas Wines
Six of the Best!


SuperValu’s wine expert Kevin O’Callaghan has brought together a great collection of wines for Christmas and the New Year. Wines from all over the world (though the six we’ve tried are from France mainly and Spain), including some Premium wines at unmissable prices. 

Kevin: “Those looking for gorgeous gift offerings won't be disappointed with our selection of market leading case deals from magnums of red wine to 6 bottle cases from Bordeaux and an organic from Spain.” There are discounts galore until the end of the year.

Pagos de Labarca AEX Rioja (DOC) 2014, 13.5%, €22.99 (€18.00 until 31/12/17) 

It won’t be all turkey over the Christmas. There’ll be beef and some good hard cheese and then you’ll be glad you have a bottle of this Rioja on hand. Maybe a bit too much for Ireland’s favourite bird but its rich fruit and spice guarantees it a welcome on the festive table. This limited edition, just over 6,000 bottles, is a big wine for a big occasion. AEX by the way stands for the Spanish Alta Expression, highest expression.

Colour is a mid to deep purple. Rich concentrated dark fruit aromas and maybe even more intense on the palate. Warm, rounded and spicy, juicy too, with excellent persistence. Quite a treat and Very Highly Recommended. I've heard Kevin O’Callaghan describe this as a blockbuster and it certainly lives up to the billing.
Rioja vineyards seen through the glass of Bai Gorri Winery

Lunatico Monastrell Jumilla (DOP) 2015, 14%, €18.99 (€14.00 until 31/12/17)

This young red wine is part of SuperValu’s Specially Sourced Signature Range and has spent 12 months in French oak. It is 100% Monastrell (probably better known to many by its French name Mourvedre). Jumilla is one of the better areas for this grape.

Kevin O'Callaghan says this is “the new favourite wine of the moment”. He also has an eye for a good label and says this the art on this one is only surpassed by the art inside, “dark and rich with no rough edges”.

Colour is medium purple with the legs slow to clear. Black berries feature in the aromas. On the palate, the rich berry flavours are enhanced by the sweet oak spice. It is rich and smooth overall with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended.

Keep an eye out too for other wines from Casa de la Ermita, especially the Idílico and the Crianza.

Chateau Tour Baladoz Saint Emilion Grand Cru (AOC) 2005, 13.5%, €44.99 (€25.00 until 31/12/17)

The Bordeaux vintage of 2005 is legendary and this rich, plummy wine is just gorgeous. Merlot is the main grape here with both Cabernets also in the mix, Franc at 20%, Sauvignon at 10%.

Colour is purple and the aromas are concentrated, ripe dark fruits plus fragrant floral notes. Full bodied for sure, sublime soft fruits with great balance, tannins now very soft indeed and this well-rounded rich and splendid wine provides a beautiful lingering finish. One to take your time with, small sips recommended. The wine itself is Very Highly Recommended.

Andre Guichot Pouilly-Fuissé (AOC) 2014, 13%, €22.99 (€18.00 until 31/12/17)

Colour is a medium gold and there are aromas of citrus and white fruits among quite a medley. In the mouth, it is smooth, close to creamy, richly fruited and soft with good acidity too plus a lingering finish. An elegant wine indeed and Very Highly Recommended. Recommended with shell fish, king prawns, lobster, crab or poultry in cream sauce as well as goat’s cheese. 

Andre Guichot Meursault (AOC) 2014,13%, €44.99 (€35.00 until 31/12/17)

Colour is a greenish gold, limpid and brilliant, and here again the fruit and acidity match up in an exceptional balance. Fresh and smooth it has an excellent refined mouthfeel with a streak of minerality and a long finish that keeps giving. This is indeed excellent and Highly Recommended.

On the area’s website, I read: “Nowhere in the Côte de Beaune does the Chardonnay grape do better that its does here”. Former US president Thomas Jefferson once visited the region and reported: "..at Meursault only white wines are made, because there is too much stone for the red".  


Andre Guichot Vin Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Brut, 11.5%, €17.49 (14.00 until 31/12/17)

Andre Goichot, best known as a negociant but who is also a producer, has been here in Burgundy since 1947; watch out also for his Chablis. He is well known too for his bubbles and this Blanc de Blancs (just means it’s a white from white grapes) is a delightful way to start your evening. Bubbles in your glass will also be welcome before that Christmas lunch or at any gathering around the big day. Just serve a few nibbles with it as those bubbles go straight to the head!

And if you like it, and many of you will, Guichot promises “a perfect match with all food styles”. It is off dry, the bubbles very evident immediately after pouring. There are lovely fruit flavours before a good dry finish. Recommended for sure and good value as well. Bonne Noël!

This particular AG Collection also includes a Demi-sec and a Rosé Prestige.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three cracking reds

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Great Variety at City Hall Food Fair. Hard to Beat Cork & Kerry United

Great Variety at City Hall Food Fair

Hard to Beat Cork & Kerry United
Clair and Jo

Made an early start to Saturday’s Cork Kerry Food Fair at the City Hall. Just as well, as the aisles soon filled up, the punters keen to sample the wares and hear about the many products, some of them new, on display in the 70 or stalls. It was great to meet up with some new producers and also to say hello to some that we’ve come to know over the past few years such as Timoleague’s Anthony Cresswell, a terrific supporter of local food and well known for the delicious stuff that comes from his Ummera Smokehouse.

Had heard good things about the Busy Botanist, the winner of the 2017 Listowel Food Fair Best Emerging Artisan Food Product Competition which is sponsored by Kerry LEO.  The Glenbeigh company was established earlier this year friends and herbalists, Clair Kelly and Jo Arbon.  

The overall winner of the Kerrygold Listowel Food Fair Cheese Competition was a garlic and thyme flavoured goats’ cheese.  Cordal are the producers and they too were in the City Hall but were busy when I passed and I forgot to go back later on.

While it was a pleasure to meet Clair and Jo for the first time, it was lovely too to link up again with the likes of Mella and her amazing fudge - it just seems to get better and better. And the same could be said about Hegarty’s Cheese from Whitechurch. Got a taste of their 12-month cheddar from Jean-Baptiste and it was just exquisite, as always, a classic.
Kinsale Bay's Aoife ad Lorna

It has been quite a year for Kinsale Bay Food Co with their products becoming more readily available with every passing month. Manager Tommy Doyle has quite a crew in the Little Island facility and Aoife White and Lorna Conroy were keeping the flag flying last Saturday.

Melanie Harty’s 100% Irish jellies, savoury and sometimes spicy, are well known all over the country and we meet Melanie, herself well known all over the country selling her produce! If you're on the road that much, you have a particular interest in the weather and she told us about her experiences during the recent storms and said that Brian with the heavy rains caused her more problems than the windy Ophelia.
Mella

More spice down at the end of that line where Athula had a stand. Athula, who works out of the Cork Incubator Kitchens in Carrigaline, is well known for his sauces, particularly his Piri Piri range with which he started, and you’ll also see him in local Farmers Markets. You’ll see his doing tastings in lots of local SuperValus  and at events like the City Hall. If you want to know how best to use these sauces, check his website here.   

TLC Fine Confectionery, from Mallow, will probably be known to you through the Auntie Nellie Sweetshops around the country. Here you’ll see the large range of Katie’s chocolates and, just recently, they have been joined by Wilkies Chocolates. Willies are a bean to bar producer and Shana Wilkie will continue, and probably expand, along those lines.

More sweet stuff at the Marshmallow Factory. I had already sampled the Strawberry one, it was taste of the week not too long ago (see here). I took advantage to stock up on the others, the Mint and Passionfruit. Melt in the mouth delicious.
Katie's + Wilkies = lots of chocolate

Munster Brewery are Youghal based and well known in the craft beer market. Now they have added another company producing a Kombucha called Hola. There is loads of info on this organic drink, a fermented tea and sugar drink, on their Holorganics website. The twins, Padraig and Adrian Hyde, are serious about their beer and about this, intending in the long run to establish a retreat to help people who are racing to stand still.
Holo!

Many of you will have heard of Gookies, a handmade wheat free, gluten free cookie dough roll in various flavours that is refrigerated and can be frozen.They are produced by Bia Gan Breise a company located in the heart of West Cork. Tasted some of the finished product at their stall. Impressive!

Monica of Rosscarbery’s Fish Deli (great supporters of these events) was in top form as always. They had some more good news recently when they won a national honour taking the Irish Quality Food Award for Best Prepared Fish and they had it on display in the City Hall. So well done to Monica and Peter and all the crew.

Jean-Baptise
Hegarty's Cheese
Another West Cork company, Milseán, was a popular stop. This chocolate company had no shortage of samples and they were just flying off the saucers!

After all that hard work sampling all the good things, it was time to move on over to the separate Craft Drinks section and first stop was the Cotton Ball who we had seen collecting their beers from the brewpub earlier in the morning. Alongside, were Youghal’s Munster Brewery, the other half of the Kombucha venture! 

Ballyvourney's 9 White Deer Brewery were highlighting their Gluten Free range and I was told they had a great time down in Cronin's Crosshaven the previous evening when they launched Ireland's first ever Gluten free draught stout.
Fish Deli

Blacks of Kinsale were all set up with special six packs available at a very good price indeed. Next door were the West Cork Brewery from Baltimore with their unusual oval shaped bottles (all the way from Italy, they told me).

Rupert, of Longueville House Drinks, is another terrific supporter of this kind of event and he had their ciders and apple brandy available for tasting. Indeed, I noticed a nicely packed trio of the two ciders and the brandy (the trilogy, Rupert called it) that would make a lovely Christmas present. Stonewell Cider were also displaying their range and neighbours Kinsale Mead, who have been getting their lovely product into more and more stores, were across the way with the newcomer Beara Ocean gin and Hyde Whiskey alongside.

Longuevilla Trilogy
I wasn't doing tastings myself - a bit too early I thought. But Justin of Bertha's Revenge “ambushed” me. Before I knew it, I had a sample in my hand. That wasn't going to waste so I tasted and was immediately reminded that this is a lovely “sipping” gin. So, if you’re out of tonic, don't worry. Just pour a drop of Bertha’s and sip it nice and easy. 

Time then to say goodbye to the event for another year, another tasty and flavoursome one ahead by the looks of it!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Monday, September 4, 2017

September Specials. Specially Sourced!

September Specials. 
SuperValu's Specially Sourced!
Peyrepertuse Castle, about a hour from Fitou and Corbieres
Saint Auriol Minervois (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €12.99 (€10.00 from 7th to 27th September, also in three for €25.00 in their French Wine Sale) SuperValu

A few years back I got to know Garrigue near Narbonne, Madame Garrigue that is. Madame rented us her gite in a rural village and, yes, there was no shortage of the famous garrigue in the surrounding countryside. It refers to the scrublands where you can expect to see low growing bushy plants including juniper, broom, cistus and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

I was reminded of that lovely holiday when reading the label for this deep red wine, as they say there are “smoky notes of the garrigue, thyme, rosemary and cistus” in the bouquet. Indeed, the bouquet is pretty well packed with jammy fruit, a little spice and that herby mix too.

On the palate, it is concentrated, that fruit again, more  spice now; it is soft and approachable and boasts a rich finish. Great value and Highly Recommended, as is a holiday in the Languedoc! The domaine suggests pairing with grilled meats, white meat in tomato sauce and BBQ foods.

Bordeaux born and trained, Benjamin Carteyron then picked up more experience around the world, including Russia, before becoming winemaker at Les Domaines Saint Auriol. 

The Minervois appellation stretches, more or less, from Narbonne to Carcassonne. Fitou, a smaller appellation, named after the village near the Mediterranean coast, adjoins Minervois. Both sets of vignerons are very proud of their own wines so be careful what you say in the area (Cognac and Armagnac are other sensitive neighbours). 

Saint Vincent Reserve Fitou (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €12.99 (€10.00 from 7th to 27th September, also in three for €25.00 in their French Wine Sale) SuperValu

The wines of Fitou are not unlike those of Corbieres. The main grapes used here are Carignan and Grenache (must account for a minimum of 60%). The minor players are Mourvedre and Syrah and each must have at least an input of 10%. 

This is another wine by Les Domaine Auriol and another Specially Sourced by the SuperValu team. Suggested pairings are red meat, especially leg of lamb.

Ruby is the colour. Scents of ripe red fruit abound in the bouquet and those garrigue herbs are there too. The palate is quite rich and concentrated, layers of fruit flavours, spice too, smooth and elegant, tannins just about in play in a long and satisfying finalé. Think it has a slight edge on the Minervois. Very Highly Recommended. Great value too. 

*******
SuperValu wine-buyer Kevin O'Callaghan is excited about their French wine sale that begins on Thursday (7th) and continues until Wednesday (20th September) pointing out some great new additions to the range: "All hand selected, with value that will help you explore the delights that France has to offer."

The two bottles highlighted here are in the mix. And speaking of mix, there's also a mix and match offer where you can buy three bottles for €25.00. I note that there is also a Saint Auriol blanc. Might well throw one of those into my hat trick. Cheers!


#specially sourced

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chile's Aresti Family Wines. Plus A Lovely Albarino.

The Aresti Family, Highly Rated Chilean Winemakers
Jon (right) with Yours Truly
Though established in 1951, it was 1999 before the Aresti family began producing wine under their own label on their Bellavista estate in Chile’s Curicó Valley. Now, according to Wines of South America, they have “one thousand cultivated acres”. Their signature line is the Aresti Family Collection (also carried by SuperValu). 

Their winemaker, since 2005, is the experienced Jon Usabiaga, highly respected by fellow Chilean winemakers and a regular visitor to Ireland. I met him a couple of years back and he told me: “The main aim for me is to show the real character of every variety. If someone is choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon, it should taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon”.

Aresti Bellavista Reserva Merlot Curicó Valley (Chile) 2015, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
Unusually, there is a truck on the label. It is the first truck, “La Perica”, that arrived in Bellavista, the founding vineyard of Aresti. Both the truck and the vineyard date back to 1951.

Colour of this Merlot is ruby. It boasts aromas of ripe red fruit, hints of vanilla too. The juicy palate has strawberry flavours and spice too, tannins are mild, and the finish is long and dry. Highly Recommended.


Aresti Bellavista Reserva Chardonnay Curicó Valley (Chile) 2016, 13%,  €12.99 (offer €10.00 until 6/09/17) SuperValu.
This is another of SuperValu’s Specially Sourced wines, an increasingly important part of their wine offering. “Delivering new and exciting wines to cater for all tastes is top of our agenda,” says Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of Wine.

Like the Merlot, the Chardonnay is produced at Bellavista (note the lorry again!), the original Aresti venture. You’ll also find Bellavista Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in SuperValu.

The colour is straw, with tints of green. No need to get really close in this instance as intense tropical fruit aromas rise from the glass. The fresh fruit features too on the creamy palate and good acidity keeps all in balance. A long dry finish lingers. This harmonious wine is Highly Recommended.



A Lovely Albarino
Bodegas Gallegas 'Abellio' Albarino, Rias Baixas (Spain) 2016, €12.99 (€10.00 when on offer) 12.5%, SuperValu

We leave Argentina now and cross the Atlantic to Spain, to Galicia and this attractively labelled Albarino. I know Kevin O’Callaghan is very proud of this one as he helped design the label (just one of the ways in which SuperValu help their producers sell their wines).

Winemaker Xoan Casiano Rego Ribeiro (call him Joan for short) is a defender of Galician wines, of the native varieties in particular, and has done a great job here with the hand-harvested Albarino fruit. 



The wine has the typical mid-gold colour.With its excellent aromas (white fruit) and flavours, it is ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. It is smooth and intense on the palate, with refreshing minerality and well balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Why we select the wines we do". SuperValu’s Buyer Tells How and Why.

Why we select the wines we do.

SuperValu’s Buyer Tells How and Why.
 “Why we select the wines we do.” That was the theme of the eye-opening Supervalu Wine tasting, a Munster Wine & Dine event, at L’Atitude on Wednesday night. 

The company's senior wine-buyer Kevin O’Callaghan was our host for the evening and he brought along 12 excellent examples from the SuperValu shelves, concentrating mainly on the bottles with the Specially Sourced stamp.  “These have been sourced, tasted and approved by our wine-buying team.”

Bubbles!
Kevin, who has been with the company for 13 years, says their aim is to make wine more accessible so “people can enjoy good wines at affordable prices”. And that was underlined throughout the evening that started with a glass of Charles Mignon Grand Cru Champagne, this one, with its intense aromas of almond and apricot. It is  “a good food match, a blend of Pinot Noir (55%) and Chardonnay and, at €45.00, well priced against sparklers of comparable quality".

Soon we were on to the very affordable, a Flamants Picpoul de Pinet (12.99, 10.00 on offer), becoming ”a very fashionable wine and great with shellfish.” 

Next up was the Abellio Albarino 2015 (12.99, 10.00 on offer). Kevin is very proud of this one, not least because he helped design the label (just one of the ways in which SuperValu help their producers sell their wines). The Albarino, with its excellent aromas and flavours, is another terrific seafood wine. And it would be my favourite of the two openers, by a long way.

We were using a points system to score the wines and I gave the Picpoul 84 points, the Albarino 92. Why  the points? Kevin said it is an essential tool for the wine-buyer who could well sample over 100 wines at a session and the points system is a major help in differentiating between so many, especially at the end of a long session. So, since we were being put in the wine-buyer’s shoes, it was used on the evening! Nothing too serious though and we had quite a few laughs all through.

Next up was a “personality” wine, the Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Once  SuperValu realised this was a serious wine - Norton was quite fussy about it - they went after the rights, especially since the comedian is from Cork. It has worked out well for all sides and Norton donates his share of the profits to charity. It is an excellent wine and, at €12.00, good value as well. And good value is something that Kevin and his team always have in mind. O’Callaghan, by the way, reckons that Sancerre is better with food than Marlborough.
 And speaking of food, the L’Atitude kitchen kept us supplied with a series of top notch bites throughout the tasting, ranging from Anchovies and Pepper on toast to Ummera Smoked Duck to a Pork Meat Balls with Olives to a Black Pudding and Apple in pastry.

Chardonnay was next, the Nugan Estate Personality Dreamers 2013 from the Riverina and on offer at €10.00. A bit of a division around the tables here because of the oak, even though they don’t use new oak so the effects are muted. I liked it very much indeed.

And more oak on our mystery white, this even more muted. The lightly oaked blend (including Bourboulenc, Roussane, and Grenache blanc) had us guessing during this blind tasting. It has a fabulous textural richness and a great finish. It comes from Corbieres and well worth seeking out at €10.00 on offer.

“Is Rosé on the way out?” asked a member. “It is static, at about 4% of the market,” answered Kevin. “But we’ve brought in some drier ones, including one from Provence, with way more fruit and character”. The European ones, especially these new ones, are worth buying, he advised.
 If the whites were good (and they were very good), the reds were probably better. This time we started with the blind tasting and it turned out to be a Cotes de Roussillon, a blend of Syrah (45%), Carignan (40) and Grenache. Violets prominent in the aromas, nice acidity and “made for drinking now. A summer BBQ wine!”.

He then introduced one of his favourites, the Castellani Arbos 2013 from Tuscany, 100% Sangiovese. Very approachable, easy-drinking, a garden wine, soft and luscious and a “good representation of the area and the grape”. 

Kevin described the next one as “a blockbuster”. And the Pagos de Labarca AEX certainly lived up to it. Great aromas and fruit and a lot of character. Lots of oak after 18 months in it, too much for some, yet this Rioja was my overall favourite. Price is €22.99, on offer at 18.00.

On now to the Nugan Estate Alfredo Dry Grape Shiraz. Kevin admits to being a fan of apassimento (amarone style). This wine is made in that style, the partially dried grapes giving more flavour, more concentrated aromas. “Plenty of oak, full flavour, acidity, juiciness, long finish, good balance, high in alcohol but no heat.” Bring on the BBQ steak. €19.99, offer 15.00.

I gave that a 92 and the same number to the Aresti Family Collection, a blend of a selection of red varieties from the Chilean family. Kevin is a major fan: “This is as a good a structured a red wine as you can get. Equivalents will cost you €40.00. It is regularly featured in competition and the lowest score it has ever attained is 91 points.” This is priced at a more modest €25,00 and 20.00 on offer. Take note!

So what has Kevin, who started off as a 16 year old delivery boy in Galvins, in store for us in the near future. He is excited about a new Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend: “This GSM is organic and is on the way. Should be on sale in September - can't wait for it!” It is by Fleur de Anon.

“The last few years, we have been beyond the comfort zone. We hope to continue that trend and bring the consumer with us.” He certainly gained a room full of converts on Wednesday evening.

* Most of the wines had two prices, the regular and the offer. SuperValu have a series of well-flagged offer periods regularly over the year. So, if you know your favourite is likely to be among them, then you won't have long to wait to stock up.

* Next Munster Wine & Dine event is the July 7th visit to Gubbeen, a premium event. Make sure you get your reservation in on time!
Kevin (SuperValu) and Beverley (L'Atitude)