Showing posts with label Syrah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syrah. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Trio of Excellent Reds from Mary Pawle Wines


A Trio of Excellent Reds 
from Mary Pawle Wines

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Out of Africa: A Wine and A Novel. “Inspiration” from the Rhone


Domaine de la Zouina Volubilia Rouge Classic Morocco (VDQS) 2012, 13.5%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

In 2001, two French golfers went to Morocco to play. A few stray shots later and they bought this estate. Gérard Gribelin (Chateau de Fieuzal) and Philippe Gervoson (Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion) knew their stuff, invested in their new 85 hectare vineyard and soon their Bordeaux experience was reaping rewards in Africa.

This Volubilia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), with Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo and has a mid to dark cherry colour. Nose is fairly intense with cherry, blackcurrant, meat and smoke. Big supple palate, juicy and fruity and just a hint of soft tannins, a touch of spice also. A velvety soft red with a long dry finish. 

Volubilis, a partly excavated Berber and Roman settlement and an UNESCO heritage site, is 45 minutes away from the vineyard and in this series of wines you’ll also find a white, a rosé and a gris. And that gris featured in the 2017 novel There was a crooked man  by Irish writer Cat Hogan. Both the wine and the thriller are Highly Recommended.

Domaine de la Ville Rouge “Inspiration” Croze-Hermitage (AP) 2015, 13%, €22.95 

This gorgeous youngish Syrah is organically produced, matured 12 months in stainless steel (80%) and in oak (20%). Try it, they say, with poultry, red meats ad cheese. I had it with a fairly young cheddar and it was perfect.

It has quite a dark red robe. Plum and spice on the nose, rather ripe plums. Fresh and medium bodied, that plum is an assertive character on the concentrated palate, good acidity though, close to smooth tannins, approachable and easy-drinking, yet with a certain elegance. Young or not, this is a fairly serious wine and Very Highly Recommended. By the way, no guarantee that a glass of Inspiration will lead to a novel!

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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Red and White worth noting. From the heart of the Corbieres garrigue.

 A Cathar castle in Villerouge-Termenès about 30 minutes from the chateau.
A summer festival when I visited a few years back but in 1321 the last of the Cathar leaders were burnt alive here.
Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana rouge Corbieres (AC) 2015, 13.5%, €14.85 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau
This is a blend of 50% Syrah (some over 40 years old) and 50% Grenache. It is produced in small vineyard parcels, actual clearings in the heart of the Corbieres garrigue (scrub), by organic methods. Add in low yields and you get a “really honest… satisfying red”. The winemakers suggest pairing it with strips of duck breast with ratatouille. 

One advantage of being surrounded by garrigue is that the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.

Colour is a deep ruby. Something wild, funky they say, about the nose, perhaps it’s the garrigue. Quickly on the palate, fruit, juice and spice emerge in intense and happy combination. Good body too, a tannic backbone and a persistent finish. No shrinking violet this yet it is much more finesse than rustic. A well made and friendly wine and Very Highly Recommended. It is indeed honest and satisfying and, by the way, well priced too.

Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana blanc Corbieres (AC) 2015, 12.5%, €14.85 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau

Again, like the red, this is a Bio wine, certified organic. It is produced from the fruit of vines well known in the Mediterranean area, Marsanne (60%), Roussane (20) and Vermentino (20). They hand-harvest; fermentation and ageing takes places in large vats. And the makers have a preference for matching it with Fried shrimp with coriander and other herbs.

It has an inviting golden colour. The aromas also attract, with fruit and floral elements prominent. There are gorgeous peachy and melon flavours on the elegant palate, a fresh and edgy acidity to balance and an excellent finish to boot. Very Highly Recommended.


One of the better-known Languedoc appellations, Corbieres is also one of the most productive. Its vineyards, situated south and west of Narbonne, are best known for its red wines, and there is now an increasing number of good whites. Château Beauregard is less then fifty minutes from Carcassonne, less than half that to Narbonne (and its Roman Road, the Via Domitia).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Excellent Reds From Karwigs

Teruzzi Puthod Peperino Toscano (IGT) 2014, 13.5%, €19.35 Karwig Wines

From the heart of Tuscany comes this deep-ruby wine. Fragrant for sure, all the way through to the end. In between, you’ll find it well-balanced and satisfying on the palate, tannins assertive, spice much less so. A very pleasant amalgam indeed and Highly Recommended. They also make a lovely white Vernaccia.

The grapes in this blend of Sangiovese and Merlot are grown on the little hills around San Gimignano, well-known for its medieval towers, including the Torre Grossa. Well-known too for its ice-cream which is certainly very good. What I didn't fancy very much was the cappuccino I got in the lovely old Piazza della Cisterna. The wine spends 8 months in barriques, 10% new, and  they say it’s fine for meats and cheeses.

Cà Vittoria Apassimento Gold Release Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €16.95 Karwig

Late ripening and then the harvest is followed by a period of drying in trays. When the grapes are close to being raisins, the wine is made. This Appassimento process increases fruit concentration but leaves enough acidity to balance the rich fruit. Grapes used in this bottle are Negroamaro (60%),  Merlot (25%) and Primitivo (15%).

Gold Release may refer to the fact that this mid-purple coloured wine from Puglia in the south of Italy (the heel) has won a few awards. The aromas, like the colour, are intense, mainly plum, hints of sweetness. 

And that fruit concentration, typical of appassimento, is immediately obvious on the palate, that sweetness too. But there is indeed enough acidity to balance; the tannins still grippy. Overall, a pleasant easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.

Chateau La Bastide L’Optimée Corbieres (AOP) 2012, 14%, €19.25 Karwig
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and has spent some 12 months in Bordelaise barriques. Recommended serving temperature is 16-17 degrees. 


It has a dark red colour, slightly lighter at the rim. Quite an intense red fruit aroma, plus a bit of spice. Intense too on the palate, dark fruit and spice again, ripe round tannins and a long lingering finish. A very pleasant wine indeed and, like earlier editions, Very Highly Recommended. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three cracking reds

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Three Rivers. Three Reds. Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.

Three Rivers. Three Reds
Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.
The arena in Arles
Vines need water and no surprise then that so many of the world's best known vineyards are planted on the banks of rivers. You’re all familiar with the spectacular pictures from the Douro and the Rhine, both World Heritage sites. Two of the rivers below, the Rhône and the Dordogne, will be well known to you. I suspect that not may be the case with the Piava.


The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France where it splits into two near Arles - its delta encloses much of the Camargue - before entering the sea. It is 812 kilometres long.
Monbazillac, one of the sweet wine areas on the Dordogne.
Venice
The Dordogne is a river in south-central and south-west France. The river and its watershed was designated Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2012. It flows generally west about 500 kilometres through the Limousin and Périgord regions before flowing into the Gironde, its common estuary with the Garonne in Bordeaux. It flows through many vineyards, including those of Bergerac and Bordeaux, and there is much to see in terms of history (e.g. Castelnaud) and prehistory (Lascaux for example) in the area.
The Piave is the baby of these three. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. There is a cow's milk cheese with the same name and the river is known too for the Battle of the Piave (1918), the decisive battle of World War I on the Italian Front.
The Rhone
Pierre Amadieu Côtes du Rhone (AOC) Grande Réserve 2011, 14%, €16.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licences


This well balanced wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a violet colour, the legs slow to clear. Blackberry and plum more than red berries feature on a somewhat muted nose, hints of clove too. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy, tannins are silky, acidity not too obvious, but it is well balanced overall, a powerful palate but not short on finesse and with a very pleasing finish.


The grapes are grown different soils, clay and limestone for the Grenache, pebbles and gravel for the Syrah. The fruit used is a “very careful selection”. Harvesting is manual and the wine is matured for six months in oak barrels. A good result! Very Highly Recommended.


The Dordogne
Feely La Source Vin de France 2011, 13%, €23.50 Mary Pawle Wines


Saussignac, like neighbouring Monbazillac, is perhaps best known as an area that produces sweet wines. And it is here that Sean and Carlo Feely produce organic wines that are not sweet! Their vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Hand-crafted from old vines, this wine is aged gently for 18 months in French oak barrels. It is handpicked, basket pressed, with indigenous yeasts; it is unfined and unfiltered.


Colour is a deep purple. Plum is prominent in the aromas. Quite a depth of flavour (including plum), nice bit of spice too, concentrated and well balanced and the finish is good too. This 2011 blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet and is Highly Recommended.


The Feely suggests an Irish (Wine-Geese) connection to this Bergerac vineyard and there is. Read about it here. By the way, if you are in the area, why not visit Chateau Feely; it is just 75 minutes from Bordeaux and 15 from Bergerac. If you can't make it to Saussignac, maybe you'd like a little share in the vineyard? Details here.


The Piave
Conte Loredan Gasparini Malbec Colli Trevigiani (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

Colour here is a fairly intense violet and red fruits feature in the aromas. Rich flavours on the palate plus a good input of spice, excellent acidity too. Tannins are fine. Very smooth and approachable and then a good long finish. Very good indeed and Highly Recommended.

While this particular wine is labelled IGT, the winery has been cultivating Malbec for the past fifty years as part of their DOC Venegazzu. They say it is ideal as an aperitif (I can vouch for that!), with fried food and red meat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Raise Your Hat to Syrah! Praise Too The Shiraz.

Raise Your Hat to Syrah!
Praise Too The Shiraz.


Syrah is one the best known grapes in the world. The origins of this dark-skinned red have been widely debated but, according to Wine-Searcher.com, its modern viticultural home is unquestionably the northern Rhone Valley of eastern France. In Australia, Syrah is overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) known as Shiraz, and is regarded as the country's national grape.


There is a wee chapel dedicated to St Christopher on the top of Hermitage in the Rhone. But was it St Patrick who started Syrah’s rise to world fame? In Grapes and Wine (published 2015), the story that the Irish saint planted the first wines on the famous cnoc as he made his way to the island monastery of Lérins is raised.

Another famous visitor to the area was Alexandre Dumas. “In 1834, Alexandre Dumas travelled to the South of France along with his friend Jadin, arriving one evening at Tain-l’Hermitage. ‘On entering the hotel, I took Jadin over to the window and invited him to raise his hat to the hill that towered over the town. This Jadin did, and when I told him that these were the slopes of the Hermitage, he took it upon himself to raise his hat a second time.’ “  The above quote is from About Our Wines (a Cotes du Rhone booklet).



Wayne Thomas Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale), 14.5%, €26.80 Karwig Wines


Twelve years old but still displaying a great depth of colour, dark with only a slight lightening at the rim; legs slow to slide down. Aromas of berries and spice. Superb rich fruit and spice on the palate too, oak is well integrated and a long finish. Robust and balanced or, as his son said, Big and ballsy! This is more or less perfect and Very Highly Recommended.


Get on down to Karwig’s, or just go online, while they still have some of it. Sadly, Wayne Thomas died in 2007 and though his son is a winemaker he operates not in the McLaren but in the Hunter Valley.


Wayne “Thommo” Thomas was quite a character and you may read a tribute to him here.

 
Clairmont Classique rouge Crozes-Hermitage 2008, 13%, €22.50 Karwig Wines
This one hundred per cent Syrah (from vines over 30 years old) has a purple colour, slightly less so towards the rim; legs slow to clear. Red fruits are prominent in the aromas. Again, good fruit, some spice too on the palate, smooth with fine tannins, excellent balance and long finalé. Somewhat more restrained than the Thomas and also Very Highly Recommended.

The producers indicate that this red Crozes-Hermitage will pair well with grilled lamb, cold meat or roast turkey. Aged, it will be a great match to any kind of stew.                                        

Much larger than the prestigious Hermitage appellation which it surrounds, Crozes-Hermitage is also much more prolific.

  
Morambro Creek Shiraz 2008 (Padthaway, Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines


The Bryson family “employ sustainable environmentally friendly viticulture” and “meticulous traditional winemaking”. It all adds up to gems like this!


It is purple in colour, a little less so at the rim, legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits and more in the aromas, blackcurrant for sure. Expansive on the palate, full of fruit and spice, yet great harmony there too, soft and balanced with a hint of sweetness, the wood is well integrated and you have a long and pleasant finish. Another excellent Shiraz and Very Highly Recommended.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Que Syrah, Shiraz. Southern Style.

Que Syrah, Shiraz
Southern Style

Bilancia Syrah 2004 (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand), 13.5%, €25.18 (was 31.50) Karwig Wines.
Before we even get to the contents, there are two things to note here. The grape is called Syrah and the closure is screw-cap. Don't think I’ve ever twisted a cap off a wine as old. In France, the grape is called Syrah. Elsewhere this ever popular grape is known as Shiraz unless the winemaker, as here, is aiming for the more restrained French style.

A small amount of Viognier (c. 2%) has been used here. The term for this, according to Grapes and Wines, is co-fermentation and says it “gives not just perfume but some extra silkiness of texture”. Syrah itself is, of course, a great blender, most famously in the Rhone where it mixes so well with Grenache and Mourvèdre (shorthand: GSM).

This Bilancia (balance) has a purple colour, aromas of ripe fruit, a little pepper. There is a gorgeous elegant mouthfeel, flavours (mainly plum) and spice; lives up to its name with perfect balance and harmony, good finish too. Highly Recommended. 

The Leheny Gibson mentioned on the front label refers to two people, winemakers Lorraine Leheny and Warren Gibson who first released their wines in 1998.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2012 (Padthaway, Australia), 14.5%, €16.75 Karwig Wines

This juicy vibrant wine is Shiraz rather than Syrah. Purple is the colour and there in the aromas you'll find ripe red fruits and some spice too. Juicy and vibrant on the palate, fine tannins, oak well integrated, well balanced and easy drinking. Excellent on its own, great too, they suggest, “with food and friends”. Highly Recommended.

Jip Jip Rocks is one of three Bryson family vineyards in the area; the others are Morambro Creek and Mt Monster, who also produce Shiraz. By the way, Jip Jip is well known too for its sparkling shiraz. Quite a few Australian vineyards produce a sparkling shiraz.

David Bryson told me in Cork a few years back that this still Shiraz is their main seller. It is a 100% Shiraz, 100% Padthaway wine with “a lot of vineyard character..a bottle of serious fun…,approachable”.

The Jip Jip rocks have existed for 350 million years and the striking outcrop is sacred to Aboriginal beliefs.


Pielow’s Shiraz 2012, (Tulbagh, Western Cape, South Africa), 14.5%, €17.95 Karwig Wines

Colour is a deep purple, dark fruit aromas plus oak. Quite a lively palate of dark berry fruit flavours, and vanilla; tannins well rounded. No shortage of power here yet it is well balanced with a decent finish. Juicy steaks, barbecued meats and spare ribs are suggested as matches. This is very much a New World Shiraz and is Recommended!

Colin and Teresa Pielow, formerly chef proprietors of two Irish restaurants (including one in Cobh), came to to South Africa a few years back and settled in the beautiful Tulbagh valley in the Cape Winelands. The property where they established and planted their own vineyard has produced this Pielow's Shiraz which is still in their ownership. They have returned to Ireland and opened Pielows Restaurant in Cabinteely where, of course, you may enjoy this fruit-driven Shiraz!

Pielow’s wines are available from:
Pielow's Restaurant, 2 Main Street, Cabinteely, Dublin 18, Ireland
Tel: 01 284 0914 Email: pielows@eircom.net
Karwig Wines, Carrigaline, Co.Cork.
Tel: 021 437 4159 Email: info@karwigwines.ie
Mitchell & Son, Glasthule, 54 Glasthule Road, Glasthule Co. Dublin
Tel: 01 230 2301 Email: glasthule@mitchellandson.com
Avoca Food Market, (stocked by Mitchell & Son), Kilmacanogue. Co. Wicklow
Tel: 01 274 6900 Web: avoca.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

All Red For You. Garnacha-Syrah-Nebbiolo

All Red For You
Garnacha-Syrah-Nebbiolo
Ricossa Barola 2010 (DOCG), 14%, €17.00 (down from 22.99), SuperValu Christmas


In the Langhe hills it’s the aromas - of truffles, mushrooms, hazelnuts, coffee, and above all else, Barolo or Barbaresco wine - that sweep people off their feet. (Vino Italia).


Barolo, by the way, is a place in Piedmonte (Italy) and the grape is Nebbiolo. There is a minimum aging requirement of three years (two in barrel) and the result has been described as the king of wine, the wine of kings.

So let's be king for a day and try this vibrant ruby red. And yes there are gorgeous dark red fruit (cherries mainly) wafting up from the glass. The Riedel (Veritas 6449/67) has been made for New World Pinot Noir but it certainly works well here! The fruits are agreeably prominent on the palate but there is a great balance, some spicy elements too, a sweet and savoury experience and then the long dry finish. I really like this one, feeling rather royal! Very Highly Recommended.

Marco Real Corraliza de Los Roncaleses 2012, Santacara (Navarra DO), 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines

Colour here is a bright cherry, long lasting legs. For me, nose is more fruit (cherry) than floral (which is highlighted on the label). Soft and full-bodied and elegant too, moderate acidity and yet, despite the high abv, the balance is fine; the finish is long and pleasant. Highly Recommended.

It is one hundred per cent Garnacha and wines made from this variety can be high in alcohol (as is the case here) and heady (not the case here!).  By the way, I had this with Poulet Basquaise and it was an excellent match.

Think I may have been fairly close to this vineyard a few years ago when I came over the mountains from France to Roncesvalles, a major stop on the camino to Santiago. It was lunchtime and I was hoping to get the  Pilgrim’s Meal but was told it was available only in the evening!



Finca Pasion Mi Fuego Syrah 2012 (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Colour is a dark red (with a lighter rim) and it has ripe fruits aromas. Then you get the fruit again on the palate, spice too and quite fine tannins, a pleasant presence in the mouth plus persistent finish. Hand-harvested and estate bottled, this is easily quaffable and Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Australia displays many faces of Shiraz


Australia displays many faces of Shiraz

 WineAustralia’s John McDonnell showed over a dozen quality wines in Fallon and Byrne last Friday. The aim of the tasting was to demonstrate that Australian Shiraz can exhibit both power and elegance and that the country can produce much more than just the big homogenous style.

With sixty four of Australia’s wine regions producing Shiraz, it would be most unlikely that they’d all come up with the same big, rich and powerful style. But that perception is out there. Two hours in Fallon and Byrne did much to dispel that myth. No lack of variety in this line-up.

 There may have been some gentle disagreement between those present, mainly restaurateurs and writers, about the comparative merits of the individual wines but, overall, the occasion was well worthwhile. Joining John at the top table were Clare Valley producer Tim Adams  and wine writer Kevin Ecock

Kevin, Tim and John
 2008 Ferngrove Shiraz, Frankland River. This first Shiraz was the only one from Western Australia and Kevin Ecock praised it as “an extremely good wine”. Tim said it reflected the “coolness of the district, angular, lean, with age potential.” Already we were talking about different types!

2009 Innocent Bystander Syrah, Yarra Valley. The difference here, at least the one that caused some conversation, was the fact that 2% Viognier was added to this Syrah (the only label that didn’t use Shiraz!). I don’t think the room was overly bothered about whether the minimum Viognier input was noted or not on the label.

2010 Tyrrells Rufus Stone Shiraz, Heathcote. I liked this best of the opening flight. It had nice fruit and spice, an excellent mouthfeel and the best finish. Tim classed it as medium bodied with “nice bright fruit flavours”.
2010 Wakefield Estate Shiraz. This widely available Clare Valley wine from the Taylor family (who believe that great wines are made in the vineyard!) was smooth and fruity, with supple tannins and spice hints in a medium body.

2009 Tim Adams Shiraz, Clare Valley. Tim didn’t use this to fly his own flag but did enlighten us on how water costs and weather variations are mega factors in the area and that winemakers have learned to grown more sustainable crops with better quality but at a higher cost.

This one certainly had quality and the price (€16.95) is not that mighty high. Kevin described it as the “standard bearer”. I thought it was a gem with power and finesse, really rounded, approachable, loveable. Brilliant.

2008 d’Arenberg Lovegrass Shiraz, McLaren Vale. This was something different, a blend of areas and a blend of varieties. It had a very inviting bouquet but delivery on the palate wasn't quite as brilliant. Mary Dowey wasn't so keen on it, saying it “suffers in the line-up here”.

2009 Wakefield Jaraman Clare McLaren Vale Shiraz. This was a blend of Shiraz from two different regions and I liked it, the intense fruit, the hints of spice and more, all excellent. Tim though said it needs more time, maybe up to five years, to bring even more out of the fruit.

2008 Tim Adams The Aberfeldy Shiraz, Clare Valley. The good news is that this is another gem, another complete wine from Tim, another with power and elegance combined. It has spent 24 months in oak but Tim guards against the oak taking over.

The less than good news is that the 4 acre plot, planted first in 1904, is “naturally dying”. It needs to be replaced and Tim is working on it. 

2009 Gatt Hugh Eden Shiraz, Eden Valley. This 100% estate grown smooth fruity beauty was the first of the final flight and got a big reception. Tim: ..absolute cracker.. elegant..poised..a very good example. 

Kevin: ...layers of interest...gentle and elegant.

2008 Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz, Barossa.

2009 Schild Estate Shiraz, Barossa.


Soft and elegant on the palate, the Schild was the one I voted for when a discussion arose about the comparative merits of these two. Quite a few had their hands up for this one though there were a few serious hands, only a few, raised in favour of the Jacobs.

2008 St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz, Barossa

2008 St Hallett Old Block, Barossa.


The tasting came to a brilliant end with these two, though only the first is available in Ireland. Loaded with flavour and colour, the Blackwell is intense and excellent. "Delicious," said John.

But the Old Block was something else. Tim said it was big and bold, “a richer version than the Blackwell, multi-layered with a great balance.” He advised that both were good for long term keeping and that he keeps them himself in his own collection. 
Yours truly with Mary Dowey.
The audience certainly enjoyed the tasting and the knowledge of Tim, Kevin and John. Indeed, John was urged to mount similar events in the future and to use the same formula (the same number of samples to be tasted in a 2 hour time frame). He was delighted to hear that his hard work had been approved and indicated that a similar Chardonnay occasion is in the pipeline.