Showing posts with label Tindal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tindal. Show all posts

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Greene's Rhône Wine Week Dinner. Perfect Pairings with Wines of Chateau Pesquié

Greene's Rhône Wine Week Dinner

Perfect Pairings with Wines of Chateau Pesquié
The line-up
Perfect pairings all through the evening were a highlight of the Rhône Wine Week dinner at Greene’s last Wednesday evening. Rarely have I seen such perfectly matched food and wines as was the case when Chef Bryan McCarthy’s food met the wines of Chateau Pesquié, Rhone Valley wines grown under the shadow of Mont Ventoux.

Thanks to the windy mountain, the chateau enjoys one of the coolest micro-climates of the Southern Rhone. The wines have a beautiful freshness and now the whole operation at Pesquié is organic. You’d be foolish not to go organic in this area, said Leslie Williams who introduced the wines along with Cindy Albero from the Chateau.
Chef relaxes, at the end!

I joined dozens of other guests and listened as the two spoke both before and, at intervals, during the meal. As we moved into the main part of the restaurant we nibbled on some of Bryan’s Seasonal Snacks: Celeriac, Mackerel, and Chicken.

Then we were onto Cured Trout, Crab, Daikon Radish and Seaweed and that was matched with Le Paradou blanc. The wine was from the Viognier grape, apricot, floral, fresh, delicious. This was a grape that nearly died out in the 20th century and this excellent example showed just what we would have had missed.
Scallop

And Viognier would also feature in our second wine, the Terrasses. It accounts for 70% of the blend with Roussane and Clairette also in the mix. Citrus and floral aromas, again that freshness and ideal with Seared Scallop, Cauliflower, raisin and curry. A tasty little Espuma followed, a hint of half-time. Then it was the turn of the Pesquié reds.

What would you pair with Pork belly, Black pudding kohlrabi, apple? The correct answer on the night was Le Paradou rouge! This beauty features Grenache, a grape that’s at the basis of many Rhone wines. It just thrives in the climate here and you can sense it in the generous aromas and flavours. And, yes, it again was the perfect match.
Venison

And would you like some more meat? More wine? Oh yes, go on. And on came the Venison (it is game time), celeriac, chocolate, Elderberry. Big flavours here. The Terrasses rouge, Grenache (60%) and Syrah, would take care of it. Intense aromas, intense and spicy on the palate, well balanced, a great fit for the game, and the chocolate!

There was a buck on the cheese course too. Joking! Young Buck Blue cheese, a regular at Greene’s is made in Northern Ireland from raw milk and was accompanied here by a Medjool Date and a glass of Quintessence rouge. Rich with a gentle power, the Ventoux freshness again prominent, darker fruits on the nose and on the palate, this blend of Syrah (80%) and Grenache was excellent, an impressive partner to the very impressive cheese.

Woodruff, blackcurrant and Macadamia Nut was our sweet finalé, a lovely dessert on its own but enhanced by yet another wine. I've always been a fan of the sweet wines of Beaumes de Venise and the Pesquié version reinforced that admiration. This organic Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, to give it is full title, is made from 100% Muscat à petit grains from old vines (50 years plus). Obviously whoever said the younger the berry the sweeter the juice got it wrong! 
Gail Cotter-Buckley, Catherine O'Mahony and Breda Buckley all from CIT Tourism and Hospitality Department.

So big thanks to Bryan and his crew, Leslie, Cindy and Damien of Tindal's for putting on a splendid evening of food and wine and thanks too to Greene’s for being such excellent hosts and to all at our table for being such splendid company throughout!



Monday, February 6, 2017

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting. Classics and New Wave Impress

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting
Classics and New Wave Impress
I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended!


Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA, said:  We hope this new section adds an extra dimension to this year’s event. Having looked at the nominations, these wines really do highlight the diversity of Australian wine and reinforce the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer.” 

The promise, and it was kept, was that “great classic wines from the likes of Cullen, Clonakilla and Bindi will be on show, plus new-wave artisans like Jauma, Ochota Barrels and Gentle Folk”.  

So the signs were good as I arrived at the Royal Hibernian Academy and sought out the Focus Table. And I made a sparkling start with the House of Arras ‘EJ Carr Late Disgorged’ Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003. Fresh and vibrant, an amazing sparkling wine.

Then followed a string of young Rieslings, including the Josef Chromy ‘SGR’ Tasmania Riesling 2016 with an ABV of just 7.5% and a delicious Skillogalee Clare Valley 2015 by Dave Palmer, “mineral, dry and crisp” as noted by Gavin Ryan from Kinsale’s Black Pig who selected it.

The Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon 2011  was superb, “intense and complex, but elegant and refreshing” noted Martin Moran. It was all good around here and the standard was maintained by the Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner, the grapes picked in the cold of the night to retain flavour and freshness.

Maximum drinkability and enjoyment is the aim of the producers of the Gentle Folk Forest Range Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015, the first of the reds and the first of Ballymaloe's Colm McCan’s selections for the table. I reckon the producers got it right as did Colm.

There were quite a few Syrah and Shiraz at this point, all very good including the Payton and Jones ‘Major Kong - Planet of the Grapes’, Yarra Valley 2015. My favourite though was the blend: De Bortoli ‘La Boheme Act Four’ Yarra Valley Syrah Gamay, imported by Febvre and a Liam Campbell pick. 

The Colm McCann selection, Jauma ‘Audrey’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, is produced biologically and intrigued with its “cider-y” notes.

Some excellent Grenache on the table too including Ochota Barrels ‘The Fugazi Vineyard’ McLaren Vale 2015, the Willunga 100 McLaren Vale 2015, and the Cirillo ‘1850 Ancestor Wine’ Barossa Valley 2011. The Cirillo was chosen by Ian Brosnan of Ely and he admitted that, until recently, he had never tasted Grenache of this quality.

And quality too, at a very good price, in Kevin O’Brien’s Kangarilla Road Terzetto, a McLaren Vale blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo. It is a favourite of mine, was chosen by Liam Campbell and is available at O’Brien Wines.

Perhaps the best blend of the lot came towards the end: the Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ Margaret River Cabernet Blend 2014, imported by Liberty Wines and nominated by Gavin Ryan who has fond memories of enjoying it at a full moon harvest party in Margaret River.

Time then for a chat at the Liberty Wines stand with Garry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates and a tasting of their sweet wines before heading into the general wine area.

Here we soon met up with Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines who import the Kelly’s Patch range to Ireland and we hope to link up in Cork soon and find out more about the company.

Having concentrated on the Focus Table we missed out on many stalls, including McGuigan where they were tasting the impressive Founder’s Series that I enjoyed in Kinsale a few months ago.

Hard to go wrong with the Deakin Estate and Katnook Wines that are imported by Findlater (and available in Cork in Bradley's and other outlets). 

Next time I'm up in North Main Street, I'll be looking at some of the Penfolds that Laura introduced me to at the Findlater’s stand. Both the Bin 2 South Australian Shiraz Mataro (that is what the Australians call Mourvedre) 2012 and the Bin 28 South Australian Shiraz 2011 impressed.

With Marcus (Liberty Wines)
Been writing this and wondering how the Australians get to name their wines. Heard a good story from Michael at the Lanchester Wines stand as we sampled the excellent ‘Don’t Tell Gary’, a McPherson Shiraz 2015 from the Strathbogie Ranges. 

This wine is a labour of love - one the accountants didn't know about.  In 2014, winemaker Jo Nash discovered an exceptional parcel of Shiraz from the Grampians which she gently crushed, then tucked away in some ridiculously expensive French oak barrels to age for 12 months.  

All the while, she was urging her fellow employees: “Don’t tell Gary”. No one did tell Gary, her boss. Now the wine speaks for itself - minimal intervention, purity of fruit, Shiraz at its best and Jo has been given free rein to investigate other possibilities in the vineyard!
John (left) and Michael at Lanchester Wines
See also earlier article on great selection of fortified sweet wines at the tasting here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

O’Donovan’s 14th Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair. Some Superb Spirits too.

O’Donovan’s 14th Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair
Some Superb Spirits too
Mary Pawle

I must say I really enjoyed the variety around the room at the 14th Cork Wine Fair, mounted by O'Donovan Off Licences, in the Clarion last weekend. There were more than a few excellent wines, as you might expect. No shortage of good craft beer and some delightful Irish spirits. Not to mention the local food stalls.

Traffic problems delayed some exhibitors and pundits but Mary Pawle, all the way from Kenmare, was one of the first to set up and my first visit. And her first offering was the biodynamic Dominio e Punctum Viognier 2015. Well balanced, great acidity and she suggests trying it with Asian Cuisine. Should have had toddled over to the Green Saffron stall!

Grüner Veltliner is a favourite of mine and Mary has a good one in the Diwald Grossriedenthaler 2015, dry and rich, with great length.

Time then to touch base with Padraig from Carrigaline Cheese, one of the Cork cheesemakers featured in the Oxford University Press Companion to Cheese, due to be published this Thursday. 

Avril of Rosscarberry Recipes had her problems with the traffic but she arrived with lots of samples, including a new one by son Maurice who has been working on an unsmoked Angus Biltong, a delicious product with lovely texture and flavour. Early days yet but this could be another winner from the Rosscarberry farm.
Padraig from Carrigaline Cheese

Then I got side-tracked by some spirits, including Kalak the Celtic queen of winter. If people tell you that Vodka has no character, then give them a drop of Kalak. “We are very proud of this,” said Damien on the Tindal stand. “Enjoy it in a whiskey glass with a lump of ice. It is made from a single ingredient (malted barley) in a single distillery (West Cork) and only one of six vodkas in the world to be so made and recognised.” It is being sold in all the best places - the Germans love it and is going down well in the US.

Tindal’s were also tasting the Blackwater No 5 Gin. But my eyes were on their Juniper Cask Gin. I remember seeing those small juniper casks before they were filled but had never tasted the result. Damien fixed that. As many of you know by now it is a delight, amazing aromas and flavours.
Damien (Tindal) with two top drops

There were some very enthusiastic people behind the stands. Jamie Winters of Irish Distiller was one and he treated me to a Jameson masterclass that included Blender’s Dog, Cooper’s Croze ad Distiller’s Safe. Each is made by a senior person in Midleton and each has the fingerprint on the bottles. Indeed, I’m told there’s quite keen competition between the three.

My first sip came from the Distiller’s Safe by Head Distiller Brian Nation. His aim was to show the character of the distillate. Despite the wood that follows, the pot still has the first say and it certainly does here in a light and zesty, gentle sophisticated whiskey.

Head Cooper Ger Buckley was on the darker side, revealing the flavour of the wood so skilfully crafted. Not just the flavour. There is more colour here too and a great mix of fruit, spice and oak with a long and pleasant finish.
Three of the best!

That left it up to Head Blender Billy Leighton to bring it all together, the spirit, the oak and time. And he surely got the balance spot-on. Superbly balanced, sweetness and spice. Time and patience pays off for Billy. It is rich and round, the gorgeous fruit slow to fade in the final.

Major enthusiasm too at the Vineyard stand where we got stuck into the Malbecs! It was Argentina all the way and first up was the Pascual Toso 2014, a “sincere” and satisfactory example. But that was soon eclipsed by the Reserva 2014, super ripe with lots of complexity, very very good indeed.

Next thing we knew, our man vanished and returned quickly with another Malbec, this the Luigi Bosca Signature Malbec Reserva 2012. Like all the previous Malbecs this had a lighter colour than you’d normally find in Cahors. It was smooth and silky and with a great finish. “Magic!” according to our man. Magic Malbec indeed. This had come from the Barry & Fitzwilliam display where we’d earlier been sipping beers by Bo Bristle and Mountain Man.
Pat (O'Donovan's)
pouring a sample.

He went missing again and was back in a flash with a sample of the amazing Zenato Ripasso (from the Tindal stand). I’m a Ripasso fan and have tasted quite a few but this Zenato Ripassa della Valpolicella Superiore 2012 is silky smooth, with amazing concentration and a long long finish. “Dangerously easy to drink,” said Damien when we returned to the Tindal stand. Damien is a huge fan of the wine and the man behind it.

And he had a suggestion for the Christmas dinner: the Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2014, full of character and flavour and easily able to stand up to most the variations on the Christmas table. And we finished here with a sip of the Cotes du Rhône Les Deux Cols “Cuvée d’Alize” made by Simon Tyrrell. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, it was made for easy drinking and, with its rich fruit aromas and flavours, it certainly hits the mark.

And we just had to try the Beefsteak Meaty Malbec 2015 at the United Wines stand. Well we were under orders! This vibrant Malbec, spicy and juicy, rich from the oak, is ideal - you’ve guessed it - for juicy steaks. And believe it or not you can join the Beefsteak club  online!

Pat, well known to patrons of O’Donovan’s in Mayfield, is a big red wine man and he showed us two of his favourites. First up was the Famila Castano ‘Hecula’ Monastrell 2014, a Gold Star winner (under €15.00) at the Irish Wine Show. “Deliciously ripe and opulent, a steal” said the judges.

Catalan design
And I was very impressed with the next one: San Alejandro ‘Las Rocas’ Vinas Viejas 2013 from Calatayud. This won the Gold Star for reds priced under €20.00. And speaking of this old vine wine, the judges said: “..blackberry and mocha fruits with a side order of toast!”.

We finished where we started, back with Mary Pawle. We enjoyed the Stellar Running Duck Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa and a young unoaked Rioja Osoti 2015. Osoti by the way means pigeon in Basque so maybe that’s a matching hint. And she also had a young Côtes du Rhone, the Contrefort du Delta 2014, very pleasing aromas and palate, soft and smooth, and described as “a good all rounder”.

All three were very good but my favourite of her reds was the Jean Bousquet Malbec 2015 with its intense aromas and flavours, soft and supple and with excellent length. Malbec again! Looks like it was the number one grape at the Fair, a very enjoyable few hours indeed.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s. Wine, Dine, Talk

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s
Wine, Dine, Talk
Superb wine


The Rhone came to the Lee last Wednesday night, its two ambassadors, Bruno Boisson of Domaine Boisson and Simon Tyrrell of Les Deux Cols, introduced to the diners at Greene’s by none other than the Menu himself Joe McNamee. Top chef Bryan McCarthy ensured the food matched the excellent wines for the Rhone Wine Week Dinner.

Under gentle prodding from Joe, Bruno told us he is the owner of Domaine Boisson and that it has been in his family for 150 years. The little village of Cairanne is near better known villages such as Gigondas. He produces about 90,000 bottles a year, fifty per cent of which is sold in France. The Irish market is important to him. “It takes a lot, thanks to Tindal’s and their loyalty.”
Bruno, Joe, Simon

At 18 years of age, Bruno started Oenology school and later travelled to the Barossa in Australia. “It is important to see things “more global”, not just in a “tight” local view. While the family had been growing grapes for generations, it was only in the late 80s that Bruno’s father started bottling his own wines.

Cairanne “is becoming cru now. We are very proud of that and we remember the efforts of past generations”.

Simon’s trajectory was quite different to Bruno’s, his immersion in the wine business  happening “by chance”. In 1989 he was working in Willie’s Wine Bar in Paris, a bar that specialised in Rhone wines. The interest grew and grew. By 2009, he had a small negociant business but decided to go further. Back to college then in the UK and, after getting much advice, he began to buy grapes and, by 2012 was making his own wine. And, just now, he has bought his first vineyard, near St Nazaire.
Pork Belly

Simon explained that in the Northern Rhone, there is just one variety and that is Syrah. In the South, there is “more blending, less new wood.” “The wines are more generous, higher abv but they are balanced. There is something about Grenache based wines, lovely warm mouthfeel.” He reckons that they are very popular in Ireland because of our climate and gastronomy. “They have a roundness and warmth and nothing goes better with lamb.”

And what are the prospects for the current vintage? It has been getting a very good press, not just in France but in many neighbouring countries. Bruno revealed that friends of his are saying that the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape will be “the best since the legendary 1990…. time will tell.” Both agreed that 2015 was a good year and Simon reckons that 2016 has even “more finesse, more acidity”  and “will be better than 2015!”
Venison

Not all good news though. Later, after dessert, Simon told us that the well-known Muscat De Beaumes De Venise was struggling with much unsold as demand is shrinking for sweet wines generally. The producers are switching to making dry wines but then find that people are confused, thinking that because it is Beaumes that it must be sweet! A rock and a hard place!

Oaky, let’s start at the beginning of the evening and a lovely welcoming cocktail: Kalak Vodka Martini, rocks, twist. Kalak is an Irish made premium vodka, one worth looking out for!
Dessert

Our first starter was Goatsbridge Trout and crab, cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium, radish and this was accompanied by Vin de France ‘Les Terrasses’ 2015 by Chateau Pesquie, an organic blend of Viognier (70%), Roussane and Clairette. The 70% is significant as it is higher than the AOC rules allow and so the wine can only be sold as Vin de France. Demoted it may be but it’s a good one. 

Next up was the Pork belly, Black pudding, apple, celeriac, and cider and the wine here was Simon’s Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvée D’Alize’ 2015 by Les Deux Cols. “My staple wine”,  he said, “named after a local wind and a blend of Grenache 60%, Syrah 30 and Cinsault (“the Pinot Noir of the South”). No oak here, just stainless steel. His idea was to make “a moreish wine”. Reckon he pulled it off!
Endangered?

After a refreshing Espuma, we were onto Wild Irish venison, artichoke, potato, onion, elderberry and Domaine Boisson’s Cairanne 2014. “It is important to understand the real place of wine is on the table with food,” said Bruno. “This was a little late but it has higher acidity so good for food. I don't want to get too technical, not too much cerebral. Just enjoy it.” We certainly did.

And Bruno had quite a family story for his next wine, the Massif D’Uchaux ‘Clos de la Brussiere’ 2011 from a disused vineyard that his grandfather bought in the local Cafe du Commerce (where you could buy virtually anything in the good old days). There was much rock picking to be done before the ground was cleared. “He picked rocks. We pick grapes.” The grapes are Grenache (60%) and Mourvedre (40). A gorgeous serious wine with bright fruit and spicy notes and quite a perfect match for Mike Thompson’s Young Buck cheese.
In the Southern Rhone

We finished with Chocolate Pecan Cremaux Tart, preserved cherry and pistachio and the Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2014 by Chateau Pesquie, a very good example, sweet yes but with the acidity retained.

Simon summed it all up: “A very diverse valley with a very diverse range of wines.” And he made a plea to please drink the odd glass of Beaumes de Venise at the end of your meals!
Harvest in Cairanne

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

King Bryan Reigns By The Waterfall. A Right Royal Dinner For Greene’s Food And Wine Mag Event

King Bryan Reigns By The Waterfall
A Right Royal Dinner
For Greene’s Food And Wine Mag Event
Great buzz in Greene’s Restaurant on Tuesday evening as guests strolled in past the waterfall, wondering what ace chef Bryan McCarthy had in store for the May Food and Wine Magazine Gourmet Evening. Wondering yes, but no worries as Bryan is one of the very best and he underlined his reputation with a stunning multi-course meal, based almost entirely on local produce.


We were warmly welcomed and soon we had either a glass of fresh and crisp Prosecco (Coldigiano) or a Blackwater No. 5 Gin (with a new Irish tonic called Poacher's Well) and then the studying of the menu began.
Before the meal began, Clyde Sowman of Marlborough was on his feet introducing us to two of their Walnut Block Sauvignon Blancs. Theirs is a small family run vineyard and since 2005 Clyde and his brother have taken over a small parcel, a special parcel with old Walnut trees where they farm organically.

He had big thanks for “the amazing people of Tindal’s” before telling us how the warm days and cool nights of Marlborough are ideal for preserving the flavours and acidity of the fruit. “Organic was a bit of a struggle at first but every single year it gets better and better. It was a good move… working in harmony with nature.” He explained that the Collectables, with its fruit and acidity, was great with lighter foods, the Nutcracker, with its deeper flavours, for heavier dishes.
Two of the Seasonal Snacks
We then started - the place was full - with a selection of Greene’s Seasonal Snacks: Cheese & Onions crisps; Ballymakenny Farm Potatoes, Coolea Cheese Fondue and Leek Ash; Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Panko, Beetroot, Walnut; Crispy Fish Skin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Squid Ink. All delightful but that crispy fish skin was something else.

Starter one was a delicious ensemble: Mackerel and Crab, Preserved gooseberry, Wild Seaweeds, Nasturtium Leaf, Radish, Fennel, Orange, Cuckoo Flower. This was matched with the Walnut Block Collectables Sauvignon Blanc 2015.
The next plate was another gem, on the plate and on the palate: Tim Yorke’s West Cork Asparagus, Air Dried Cured Beef, Shandrum Cheese, Asparagus Salad Cream, pickles, Land Cress, and Smoked Almond. Wine here was Walnut Block Nutcracker Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

Time for a little break now and a palate cleanser, an espumante of Lychee, Lime and Matcha Green Tea. Clyde was on his feet again introducing us to a pair of their Pinot Noir. This grape “is a bit of a baby” he said. “Like all good Pinot, it has be hand-picked.” The temperament of the grape is not the only risk they take as these wines “are one hundred per cent Wild Ferment”. Great results but it is “riskier”.
Bryan McCarthy took a moment from the kitchen to speak and told us that it wouldn't be a dinner in Greene’s without a contribution from Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy and that was in our very next dish: Free range Pork Belly & Jack McCarthy Black Pudding, with green apple, cider and celeriac. The wine was the Walnut Bock Collectables Pinot Noir 2014. This has spent nine months in oak and proved an excellent pairing.

The next Pinot Noir was the Nutcracker Single Vineyard 2014, a favourite of winemaker Clyde. “It is complex, silky, fine tannins, as close as you can get to Mother Nature. … If enough work is done in the vineyard, the wine-making will be a cinch. Just two ingredients in these wines, the Pinot Noir grapes and a minimum amount of sulphur.” The wine is treated to 12 months “in top of the line French oak”.
A gorgeous wine and a terrific match with another highlight: Skeaghanore Duck, wing to beak (including heart), Kilbrack Farm Organic Vegetables, Wild Garlic, Pickled Ballyhoura Mushroom, Hedgerow jus. Fantastic produce from West Cork and so well handled by Bryan and the team at Greene’s who would soon get a round of applause for their efforts.

But not before dessert, of course. And this was another West Cork production, a lovely presentation of Bushby’s Strawberries, with elderflower, gorse ( a posh name for the furze bush, according to Bryan), Milk Sorbet and Raw Yogurt. And, just to make it even better, it was paired with the Alasia Moscato d'Asti, a low alcohol frizzante, aromatic, refreshing and easy-drinking.

And that brought us to the end of an very enjoyable evening of spectacular food and drink. Here’s to the next one!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Australia’s Wine Diversity On Show in a Dublin Gallery

Australia’s Wine Diversity
On Show in a Dublin Gallery
(Part 1)


Diversity was the theme for last week’s Australia Day Wine Tasting in the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, a theme that was well illustrated indeed with over 200 wines to be tasted.*


Everything from a high quality Tasmanian sparkling wine, Jansz Premium Cuvee NV, to a d’Arenberg Rare Tawny (had that lined up for my very last sip but, stupidly, forgot about it - next time!). And so much good stuff in between, including a special Focus Table for Shiraz and Chardonnay for which the country is justly famous. Diversity is rampant, according to Hugh Johnson. "And we can choose: the full-on or the nicely judged."


Wine Australia is happy that Ireland “maintains its love of Australian wines, with bottled imports up 26%. Higher price point segments are pushing the overall value up, helped by the advantages of the exchange rate.”


There was no shortage though of lower priced "nicely judged" wines at the show, some very well known ones like the Casella Yellowtail  (lovely Chardonnay), the less well-known Kelly's Patch selection (most of them easy drinking and easy on the pocket at €11.99, plus a couple especially developed for restaurant lists), Deakin Estate’s list includes an award winning Sauvignon Blanc (Victoria) along with an impressive Artisan’s Blend (Semillon and Sauvignon blanc).


At the top end of the price scale you had memorable marvels such as Parker Coonawarra Estate First Growth and the gorgeous Tyrrell’s Winemaker's Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2010 (from the Tindall stand). Each is the Signature Wine of the respective vineyards, according to James Halliday in his Wine Atlas.
With Richard Magnier (@motleycru) in the RHA


The Hunter Valley is well known for Semillon, a grape that I rather like and one that you rarely see on its own in Europe.  But this 2010 by Tyrrell’s is a gem, no oak, great fruit and terrific acidity.


No shortage of Riesling here and the first to impress was the super Hardy’s HRB 2014 with its great balance of fruit and acidity. Clare Valley produces some terrific Rieslings and we got a whiff of petrol as we sampled Jim Barry’s The Lodge Dry Hill 2014, an excellent wine. And that was matched, maybe even shaded, by Peter Lehmann Wigan Eden Valley 2006, superb flavours and aromas and more of the petrol, again his signature wine according to Halliday.


The Wirra Wirra Lost Watch, at the Tindal’s stand, was one of the driest of the Rieslings and it too had petrol in the aromas; great fruit too with some style, top quality and an all round excellent wine. All the Riesling though would need food methinks.


Table 3 (C&C Gleeson) had an offering from Tasmania and our second sip from the island was the Eddystone Point Gris 2013, a lovely almost creamy wine. On then to Cassidy Wines and our first taste of a Margaret River wine.


Chardonnay “is a headline act for Australia” but having moved away from the “bold full-bodied Chardonnays of the late 20th century, today’s wines are excitingly varied” and Australia now offers “more restrained and balanced examples of this versatile variety.” Don’t think there’s any great news here as this trend has been there with some time but no harm in having it confirmed with some style in Dublin.


The Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2014 (24.99), inviting fruity and matching acidity, really well balanced, is one to note. Vasse Felix, by the way, was founded in 1967 and is the first winery to be built in the Margaret River.


And the Chardonnay just got better at Febvre who had a smashing De Bortoli Estate Growth 2013 from the Yarra Valley. So well made, rounded. Close your eyes and you could be sipping in Burgundy. Their 2013 Windy Peak (also from the Yarra) was lively and very drinkable.


Findlaters too had a terrific Chardonnay and the Katnook Estate Founder’s Block, from South Australia Limestone Coast, is also well priced. Really excellent and aren't I glad I bought a bottle of it in Bradley’s just a few days ahead of the tasting. Looking forward to that even more now!

And the good Chardonnays kept coming. The Wolf Blass Gold Label 2013 (Adelaide Hills) is just superb. And we finished on another high, impressed hugely by the 2011 Wirra Wirra 12th Man (also Adelaide Hills) and imported by Tindal.

Part Two, featuring the red wines, is here. Plus post on the wines of Kelly's Patch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sauvignon Blanc. Graham Norton in on the act! Cono Sur's Silencio best in Chile

Noble Grape Sauvignon Blanc
Graham Norton in on the act!
And Cono Sur's Silencio best in Chile.

Sauvignon blanc is one of the best known and best loved grapes on the planet. The Loire Valley is regarded as its heartland but it thrives too in New Zealand, especially in Marlborough, and in Chile and indeed in many other places around the world.

And it is to New Zealand that West Cork born Graham Norton went to try his hand at making a bottle. Personality in a bottle or a personality with a bottle? The answer is somewhere in between.  


Cono Sur Reserva Especial Sauvignon blanc 2013, Valle de Casablanca (Chile), 12.5%, €13.99 Bradley’s Offlicence

According to the recent Wines of South America, Cono Sur (the first winery to be recognised as carbon neutral) is “one of the most consistent and reliable wineries in the country”. The country is, of course, Chile, and this is an excellent example and Very Highly Recommended.

The pale gold colour is bright and healthy looking and there are fresh aromas of white fruit and blossoms. Fruit flavours in the crisp and elegant palate, lively acidity and a decent finish too. Ideal as an aperitif or with seafood dishes.




Graham Norton’s Sauvignon blanc 2015, Marlborough (New Zealand), 12.5%, €12.00 at SuperValu from November 6th

Norton is a shareholder in the Invivo Winery and the wines for blending were brought to him in London. Winemaker Rob Cameron came too and together they came up with a wine that quickly won a string of awards.

Critics say:
“Fresh and lively… fabulous juicy finish”.
“Tongue tingling….full of punch and personality”.
“Savvie….full of lime zest.”
Norton says: “It’s lovely! Tropical fruit...a bit of zing...cheers to that!”

Colour is just about present with hints of green. Aromas are fresh, white fruit, some herbal elements too. There is a generous flush of freshness and fruit, matched immediately by balancing acidity (just like a Norton put-down!). Must admit this is an excellent drop indeed (unlike his red chair!) and Highly Recommended.

Emiliana Sauvignon blanc 2014, DO Valle Central (Chile), 12.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s
This is an organic wine by Eco Balance, made for “relaxed everyday enjoyment. Integrity, sustainability and an earth friendly focus inspires all that we do”.

This is light yellow, green also evident, clear and bright. Aromas include herbal elements, white fruits too (including grapefruit). It is fresh and fruity with a zingy acidity, a decent mouthfeel and a moderate finish. Very good value and Recommended.


More good news for Cono Sur and chief wine-maker Adolfo Hurtado. Their Silencio Cabernet Sauvignon, launched in Dublin 12 months ago,  has been named as the best red wine in Chile, gaining an unprecedented 98 points.