Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Excellent Bordeaux from Grand Bateau.

Excellent Bordeaux from Grand Bateau
Grand Bateau Bordeaux rouge (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

Grand Bateau Bordeaux blanc (AOC) 2016, 12.5%, €15.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

With over 6,000 chateaux, and many thousands of opinions, Bordeaux can be a minefield for those who are not very deeply into the area’s wine. But Findlater’s Mick O’Connell MW has come up with a double, one red and one white, from Grand Bateau, that I think most can feel comfortable with. 

O’Connell’s current task is to add variety to the Findlater list and he has done well here. Grand Bateau is aligned with some of the major Bordeaux names and the winemaker is the “world renowned” Philippe Blanc of the equally renowned Chateau Beychevelle and Maison Barrière, a serious trading house and a sister company of Beychevelle. Considering that level of pedigree and, having tasted both, the two wines are very good value too.

You won't see rouge or blanc on the front label of course but that's hardly a handicap! The red is a regular Bordeaux blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. For over twenty five years, in collaboration with Barriére, it has been “consistently powerful and harmonious in style”.

Colour is a deep ruby. Ripe darker fruits (plum, currants) on the nose. It is fruity, soft and elegant, a touch of spice too, tannins close to smooth with a long dry finish. Perfect, they say, with red and white meats as well as cheeses. Highly Recommended.

Most Bordeaux whites are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Not this one which is 100% Sauvignon. Worth trying this against a New Zealand SB, quite a contrast.


It has an attractive light gold colour, clean and bright. The nose is of exotic fruits, a tiny hint of honey. Fresh and fruity on the palate, little of that New Zealand herbaceousness. The lively acidity leads to a perfect balance and a lip-smacking finish. Second glass appeal for sure and Highly Recommended. Try as aperitif, with fish and seafood and poultry.

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!



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celebrate Rhone Wine Week with these two!




Rhone Wine Week
4th to 11th November
Two to try. 🍷👍


Pope, Parker, Mistral
A Pope and a Parker were among the key figures that enhanced the reputation of wines from the Rhone Valley. Wines had long been made in the area even before Julius Caesar arrived in Chalon-sur-Saône and found two Romans already in the wine trade there.

The shell of the Papal holiday palace
 remains after wartime bombing
Fast forward now to 1309 when Pope Clement V moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon. Most of the wine drunk in the temporary papal palace (they also had a summer palace called Chateauneuf du Pape) was from the local area and so the fashion for Rhone wine began in earnest. 

Clement of course came from a Graves wine family (think Chateau Pape Clement!) and would be followed by five more popes before the move back to Rome. The papacy was here was 67 years, a lot of wine!

The Rhone was firmly among the most respected wines in France when infallibility of another kind arrived in the 1980s. Robert Parker, the American wine guru, "intervened". He just loved the naturally ripe style and gave them very high scores and his many international "followers" took his word for it, bought the wines and found out for themselves just how good the Rhone bottles really are.

In between Pape and Parker, there was the wind of 1956, perhaps even more influential than the famous pair. Then the Mistral battered the region for three weeks and contributed to the temperature dropping to minus 15 degrees. The olive trees, then the big crop in the area, suffered badly but the vines resisted so well that a majority of farmers turned to vine cultivation.

Santa Duc Les Blovac Rasteau (AOC) 2011, 15%, €18.45 Le Caveau, Bradley’s Cork

If you’re thinking of celebrating Rhone Wine Week, then this Rasteau is a great choice. Even Robert Parker agrees, at least he did seven years back when he praised Yves Gras of Santa Duc saying he “produces some of the best buys in Cotes du Rhone”. Viticulture in this vineyard has always been organic in style and intent and full certification was achieved in 2012.

This wine is the typical Southern Rhone blend, often called GSM from the initials of the three varieties. The 2011 is a blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20) and Mourvedre (10). There has to be a minimum of 50% Grenache, so this is well above that. The fruit is late-harvested so no shortage of ripeness or power - note the ABV of 15%. No oak is used and the wine is bottled without filtering.

Colour is a deep ruby and the legs are slow to clear. Aromas are complex, a melange of red and darker fruits, hints of pepper too. Upfront on the palate, generous fruit flavours prominent, well balanced though, tannins still grippy and there is a persistent tingly finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Rasteau was, from the 17th century, best known for its fortified wines. But was gradually forced to accept the conditions of the C. d. R village appellation and eventually came onboard in 1967 and gained the coveted cru status for the village in 2009.


You can still get a Vin doux Naturel (VdN) here, of course. The red is perhaps best known and the only one that I've ever tasted. That was in the village itself and led to a little argument with the salesperson. She had suggested pairing it with Stilton but I flew the flag and told I’d be taking it with Cashel Blue. We got on very well after that. 


Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Côtes du Rhone (AOC) 2015, 14%, €16.95 Bradley’s (Cork), Le Caveau


There are, as you know, many skilled wine-makers in the Rhone and they don’t suddenly lose those skills when they turn their attention to white wines. Indeed, their well-made whites can often be better value than the more popular reds. In any case, Chaume-Arnaud, (along with Santa Duc above), is one of the area's leading producers, according to Grapes and Wines.

This particular bottle is a blend of Marsanne, Roussane, and Viognier. Other white grapes that are permitted are White Grenache, White Clairette and Bourboulenc.

You see a lot of lovely light gold in your glass. The aromas, white fruit and blossom, are harmonious. Refreshing white fruit flavours abound on the palate, with a refreshing acidity at play, well balanced, and with a long mineral-y finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Try with grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goats cheese. My own tip: Goatsbridge trout with Mothergrain Quinoa (with Golden Veg.).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Shiraz and Tempranillo. No exotic grapes this week!

Shiraz and Tempranillo. No exotic grapes this week!

Okay, so I've been pushing some unusual grapes your way in recent posts. This week though, it's back to a couple of familiar old reliables, Shiraz and Tempranillo. Both are mainstream.

Shiraz is the common New World name for the French Syrah while Tempranillo (I regularly omit the "p") is grown worldwide but synonymous with Spain, especially with Rioja and Ribera Del Douro regions. I think you'll enjoy these two very drinkable expressions.

Flores de Callejo Ribera del Duero (DO) 2015, 14%, €17.70 Karwig

This organic wine is 100% Tempranillo and has spent six months in French oak. Not overly surprising that it is an excellent one. The 2015 has been declared a “good, easy vintage for us, perhaps less tannic and less abundant than 2014, but the quality is high”. And a tip for you: the good news continued into 2016.

You’ll note the typical cherry colour on the 2015. Quite an intense aroma, berries red and black, cherry too. Fruity and spicy, rather silky, on the palate, followed by a persistent finish. All in all a bright fruit-driven wine, well crafted, well balanced and, at first meeting, highly recommended. The softness of this one grows on you though and I revised the “verdict” to Very Highly Recommended.

Mt Monster Shiraz, Limestone Coast (Australia) 2011, 14.5%, €17.35 Karwig Wines

The Mount Monster wines are produced by the Bryson family who also do the Morambro Creek and Jip Jip Rocks labels. French and American oak has been used with this particular Shiraz but sparingly, the better to ensure that “maximum fruit expression is retained in the final wine”.

Colour is a pretty deep purple. Blackberry and plum on the nose with a bit of spice too. That policy with oak has paid off and there is no shortage of fruit on the palate, a little spice too. Sweet tannins add to the softness and all elements combine in a generous finish. Highly Recommended.

When wine-maker Brad Rey visited Cork a few years back he was thrilled with the 2008 version, thrilled that the minimum oak policy had worked so well. He said it may be served slightly chilled. “It is light fruit, blueberries and raspberries and the tannins are fruit tannins. This is about balance and reminds me of the joven I used to make in Spain.”


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.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France

Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva Mendoza (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 (I got it on offer at 16.95) O’Brien Wines

Bodegas Caro, founded in 1999, is a Catena family partnership with Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the owners of Chateau Lafite. “The operation focuses on classic red Bordeaux blends,” according to Wines of South America.  “…all grapes for this project are purchased.” Caro tastings are held in their vineyard caves that date back to 1884. So there is some pedigree in both sides of the partnership. 

The signature wine is Caro and other main labels are Aruma and Amancaya. The blend for the latter is based “on the elegant texture of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of the Argentinean Malbec”. It has been aged in French oak and is more fruity due to the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter ageing. The name is the native Indian name of a flower found at high altitudes in the Andes in the Mendoza area.


Colour is ruby, the legs slow to clear. There are generous aromas of cherries and dark berries, plus sweet spice too. The palate has fruit (no shortage) and vanilla (from the oak) and it is noticeably dry. Tannins are still at play here in a smooth and elegant wine, supple and satisfying right up to and through the long finish. Very good on the first day and even better on the second; decant and take your time! Very Highly Recommended. A match with beef is guaranteed but venison may be the pairing to remember!

Marks & Spencer Margaret River (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, 14%, €16.50 M & S

The Margaret River area, in Western Australia, is justifiably famous for its smooth and complex Cabernet Sauvignon, though usually at a higher price than this. Winemaker is Matt Byrne and producers Marks and Spencer say this is “a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot (12%)”. The Decanter tasting panel recently gave it a score of 95 and awarded it Platinum: Best Value Australian Red Bordeaux Varietals. 

Colour is a deep ruby. Dark red fruits feature in the aromas. It is indeed complex and smooth on the palate, juicy and full of intense blackcurrant flavours, some spice too, tannins on the lips (inside and out); the finish is very satisfying with the fruit still a factor and hints of the oak there too. Elegant and well balanced this is Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Exciting New Wines on Findlater List

Exciting New Wines on Findlater List

There is a freshening up going on the wine list of Findlater's and the man responsible for sourcing the new wines is Master of Wine Mick O’Connell. He was in Cork at the weekend and had a bunch of the new ones with him for a well-attended tasting in Bradley’s, Cork’s specialist off-licence and food-store. So new tastes at Bradley’s (established 1850) courtesy of Findlater's (established 1823). Oldies but goldies!

The off licence was packed as the punters queued up to taste. I didn't get through them all - Culture Night beckoned - but enjoyed the Grand Bateau wines and also the Aplanta. The Roqueterre though seemed to be the overall favourite and over the past few days I had the chance to sample that and the Assyrtiko from Crete.

Lyrarakis Vóila Assyrtiko Crete (Greece) 2016, 13.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork
The Vóila plain and indeed adjacent areas in the east of Crete are regarded as ideal for  Assyrtiko.  “Our family discovered the quality potential of East Crete since the 70's. Originally on the “Vóila” plain and subsequently in the extended surroundings, we discover exceptional vineyards where the great grape variety thrives.” Quality is also helped by the hand-harvest “seeking to obtain a “proper fruit maturity”.

Decanter gave this lovely wine no less than 91 points. The producers recommend serving it at 12-14 degrees and pairing it with “all seafood, grilled fish as well as white meat cooked with lemon”.

It has a lovely gold colour and delicate aromas of white fruit. The ripe grapes contribute to rich fruit flavours and a good texture. There is though a matching acidity to balance and a very long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended.

Roqueterre Reserve Carignan Vieilles Vignes Pays d’Herault (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork


This dark red wine, made by Marilyn Lasserie, was “flying out the door” during Findlater’s Culture Night Tasting in Bradley’s. Not surprised as it is an excellent well-priced wine and one of a host of new ones introduced to the catalogue by Mick O’Connell MW, our host on the night along with Adrian McAleer.

Aromas of the dark fruit kind, with a good share of spice, introduce the wine, made of Carignan, the grape described on the label as “a forgotten treasure” of the Languedoc area. Reserve is produced from low-yielding vines, some of which are over 60 years old.

Dark fruit flavours follow through to the warm palate, smooth silky tannins there too and a long and uplifting finish. A pleasant wine indeed and Highly Recommended.

Other new wines available for tasting on the night were:
Passage du Sud Sauvignon Blanc (South of France);
Grand Bateau Bordeaux white;
Bijou Rosé Cabrieres (France);
Aplanta, Alentejo (Portugal);
Grand Bateau red Bordeaux;
Clous Puy Arnaud Bordeaux.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bordeaux. On the Double. St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

Bordeaux. On the Double
St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

Chateau Moulin de Grenet Lussac St Emilion (AOC) 2012, 13%, €19.75 Karwig Wines
Lussac is the most northerly of the St Emilion satellites. Here in the former Cistercian abbey of Faize, La Famille Roskan-Brunot have their vineyards. The Cistercians were noted for the austerity of their abbeys but this wine is rich and harmonious. So much so that noted wine writer James Suckling gave the 2015 vintage 91 points.

The other three satellites are  Montagne, Puisseguin and St Georges. “At their best, the wines from these areas are every bit as good as a Saint-Emilion grand cru. At their worst, they are attenuated and rustic.” I quote from The Wines of Bordeaux (2004) by Clive Coates. I reckon that this one is much closer to grand cru than to rustic.

The blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, has a deep colour. Ripe dark red fruits, vanilla, tobacco and toast feature in the aromas. As smooth as it gets, with a hint of background spice, well rounded, rich and harmonious with a good aromatic finish, it is Very Highly Recommended indeed.

Chateau La Grommet Côtes de Bourg (AOC) 2009, 13%, €16.85 Mary Pawle Wines
Côtes de Bourg is known as the “little Switzerland of the Gironde”. Its beautiful landscape is much more pleasant on the eye than the boring flatlands of the Medoc across the estuary. If you’ve holidayed in or near Royan, then you’ve probably met the wines of Bourg and those of  Blaye.

This particular Grand Vin de Bordeaux is made from organic grapes. It is a blend of Merlot (the dominant grape in this bottle and, indeed in the area) and Cabernet Sauvignon and has spent 12 months in barrels.


Colour is a mid purple, legs slow enough to clear. Lovely aromas of warm red fruit. On the palate, it is ample with good depth, intense, fresh and balanced. A rich wine, with its by now silky tannins, it has a long flavourful finish and lacks nothing in character. A Bordeaux red for sure and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance. Good Clean Wines


Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance
Good Clean Wines.
Left to right at Ely: Francesco, Pascal and Dario

Dario Poddana (Les Caves de Pyrene), Francesco Maule (La Biancara, Gambellara) and Pascal Rossignol (Le Caveau) combined to give us a fascinating insight into organic and natural wines, in particular the wines of the Veneto, at Ely Wine Bar last Tuesday. Francesco is a winemaker at the family vineyard in Gambellara and the other vineyard whose wines came under the spotlight was Azienda Filippo Filippi (Soave).

Some in the audience (trade and press) wanted to know how this type of wine was going down with the customers. Dario, Italian wine buyer with Les Caves, stressed there were no added sulphites and the focus is “on wines of intensity rather than of richness”. On their being cloudy, he said it was no problem to the customers. 

Pascal added that this type of wine seems to have found a natural ally in the chefs that forage and said these restaurants “react well to it”.
Dario

It emerged too that, while mistakes may have been made in the past, maybe concentrating on the vineyard rather than the winery, the objective now is on making good wines that are “clean”.

Dario praised the Maule family and said they were at the forefront of the natural wine movement and not just in Italy. “It is interesting to see how classic ways are being rediscovered, a mix of extreme tradition and extreme modernism." 

Prosecco may be very known as being from the Veneto but Dario emphasised that “it is just one type of expression of the area”. The one we started with, the Casa Belfi, Prosecco Colfondo DOC, has a tiny refreshing fizz, a rich texture from the yeasts and a hint of salt (the vineyard is juts 30km from the sea), all combining to say a very pleasant Ciao.

Francesco was quite proud of his very young La Biancara di Angiolino Maule, ‘Garg’n’Go, Veneto Frizzante IGT, “the only one with biodynamic certification”, and rightly so! 

We were tasting in flights of two and next up was the Filippi Soave Castelcerino 2014, a wine I am happily familiar with, “an incredible wine from a very difficult vintage” according to Pascal. Dario:”It is their normal Soave from a well respected hill for wine. They like long contact with the fine lees, rarely less than 18 months, this to confer richness and structure. Very simple wine-making in general.” Looks like it works.

Francesco too praised it “as a very good result from 2014", before moving on to tell us about his Maule Masieiri Bianco 2015, a blend of 10% Trebbiano and 90% Garganego. Lees too come into play here, the period of six months adds “a  nice richness”. “No filters, no clarifying.” A lovely wine, displaying a generosity of fruit and character.
Ingredients on the label.
"Maybe others will follow."

Francesco went on to introduce us to two of his whites. Both the Sassaia and the Pico Bianco were excellent. Again both had some skin contact and had a rich colour but Francesco came straight out and said that he doesn't love the term “orange”wine. “There are red and white wines and a little rosé, maybe!” 

And, in general, he stressed the importance of having a “very good quality grape”, otherwise there is the risk of extracting “bad things”. “In the glass I want to feel the grape and the soil.”

One of my favourite wines of the past few months has been the Terra di Pietra, Valpolicella “Piccola Peste” and the 2015, introduced by Dario, was next. “Valpolicella is quite diverse and this comes from the land of rocks, a relatively new estate that produces good vintage after good vintage. They make simple easy-drinking reds, the spirit of Valpolicella. The classic varieties, made simply.”

Someone in the audience noted the outstanding purity and Dario was quick to point out that “you lose that purity if you go down the concentration trail” and added that Terra di Pietra “are moving in a beautiful direction”. 

Pascal


Francesco
Francesco’s turn now to show us their “basic red” the Masieiri 2016 (IGT), a blend of Merlot (50%), Grenache (40) and Cabernet sauvignon (10). “It is quite young, the tannins a little aggressive and is not filtered.” I rather enjoyed its fresh fruitiness and hints of spice, the tannins not a problem at all.

Back to Terra di Pietra for the Amarone della Valpolicella “Rosson” 2010, a beautifully coloured wine with excellent acidity. Dario told us it had been made in a quite traditional way, just enough richness and concentration, the final result helped by the addition of some Teroldego (known for its light fresh fruitiness). The fact that it came from a very good vintage also helped! Quite a finalé to an enjoyable and informative afternoon in Ely Place.
The line-ups

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 30, 2017

Wagner and Strauss. An impressive duet in red and white.

Wagner and Strauss. 
An impressive duet in red and white.
Wagner Stempel Riesling Rheinhessen (DQ) 2015, 12%, €19.95 Bradley’s Cork.
Nine generations of the Wagner family have been involved in wine-making here since 1845. Daniel Wagner has been the wine-maker since the early 90s and under him they have converted to organic production methods. 

According to the Finest Wines of Germany, he has proved that “forgotten or previously unconsidered terroirs can be of exceptional quality when they are interpreted properly”.  

Harvest is late (October/November) and the wines are kept on their lees until the end of May.This one, labelled trocken, is imported by the Wine Mason.

Colour is light straw, tints of green, micro-bubbles cling to the glass. Quite a bunch of aromas, fruit, herbs, even a hint of smoke. A fresh and fruity vibrancy emerges as soon as it meets the palate - notes of melon, spice and yellow apple - all balanced by a keen acidity; the long flavourful finish is lip smackingly dry. Very Highly Recommended.

A superb uncomplicated wine to be enjoyed with or without food. I enjoyed it with Hederman’s smoked mackerel, freshly boiled beetroot from the garden, and salad leaves with some roasted pepper.


Johann Strauss Zweigelt Reserve Austria (QaO) 2011, 13.5%, €20.50 Karwig Wines

Zweigelt is the grape and Kremstal is the area in Austria where this fragrant and elegant wine comes from. The blue/black Zweigelt is the most widespread red wine grape in Austria. A cross between St Laurent and Blaufränkisch, it was developed in 1922 and is said to deliver full bodied wines with tones of morello cherries. The morello is black and a sour kind of cherry.


Our Zweigelt has a mid-ruby robe and a fragrant nose of dark red fruits, hints too of pepper. Rather elegant introduction with soft tannins. Restrained waves of those cherry flavours follow, a touch of spice too and then a lingering finish. A pleasure to drink this one and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Three Wines of Gérard Bertrand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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


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

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

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Winemakers Since 1803: The Wohlmuth Family Of Austria

Winemakers Since 1803: The Wohlmuth Family Of Austria
The Wohlmuth family have been in wine since 1803, the winery now run by Maria and Gerhard as well as their son Gerhard Josef and his wife Marion. Hand in hand with nature is the motto here “with an uncompromising aspiration for quality”.

Lots of hard work involved, much of it down to the steepness of the vineyards around the village of Kitzech (close to the city of Graz, European Capital of Culture two years before Cork) in Südsteiermark (South Styria). With an average steepness of up to 90%, they are among Europe’s steepest. The soil is slate which leads to deep-rooted vines. Here, they grow mainly white varieties and also Pinot Noir.

The grapes for the Aristos are grown to the east in the Neckenmarkt vineyard in the Mittelburgenland region (a couple of hours east of Graz and close to the Hungarian border) where they have been producing since 2002.

Karwig Wines carry quite a lot of the Wohlmuth wines, including a Chardonnay Sekt. Check them out here

Wohlmuth Aristos Burgenland (Austria) 2010, 13.5%, €20.95 Karwig Wines

Quite a lot of info on the back label: it is a quality wine and a dry one. The grapes are hand-selected and it is a blend of Blaufränkisch and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French oak. The vineyard is in Neckenmarkt which has loamy slate and shell limestone. The Blaufränkisch is “our great red wine love”.

It is a light (and bright) ruby colour with aromas of blackberry and blackcurrant and a little pepper too. Pleasant fruit flavours on the palate, medium bodied with a little spice and soft tannins. Nice acidity too, promising a good match with food (lamb cutlet; duck breast on lentils are suggested), and the wine is Highly Recommended.

Wohlmuth Reid Gola Pinot Gris Wohlmuth (Austria) 2013, 13%, €17.80 Karwig Wines

Wohlmuth say this “refined Burgundy-style wine” has “lots of potential”. Gola (the vineyard) is of Slavian origin, the word meaning “naked”, which refers to the meagre slate soil. Here the roots go deep and the “soil” is reflected in the wines. In Gola, they also grow Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Riesling and more.

Light straw is the colour. There are very pleasant aromas indeed, a mix of blossom, white fruit, herbs. It is zingy, peppery and dry. Quite a palate-waking intro with ripe stone fruit flavours, no shortage of minerality and an excellent lingering finish also. Highly Recommended. Food pairings suggested are classic pan-fried chicken and also wild garlic risotto.

The Wohlmuth Winery is well-known for the artwork on their labels; the painting on the 2013 bottles is by Professor Ulrich Gansert.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Rossini’s. Local and Italian Misto.


Rossini’s. Local and Italian Misto.
Piece of pizza!

When you dine in Rossini’s, you get a taste of Italy, as you'd expect, and a taste of Ireland as many of the fresh ingredients are bought in the nearby English Market.

Valpolicella
Rossini’s was established, in Princes Street, Cork, in 1994, by Antonio Toscano and their reputation for delicious authentic Italian cuisine quickly grew in the Cork area. I hadn't been there for quite a while until last week. It was a quiet night around town, the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday. So we had to settle for Italian music on the stereo - no live music, no dancing in the aisle. Still turned out to be a very enjoyable meal indeed.

No shortage of starters on the menu. We were finding it hard to choose and so settled on the Antipasta Misto. This turned out to be quite a plateful, a very tasty plateful indeed. There were some calamari fritte, some delicious Mozzarella with big slices of tomato, some bruschetta, cured meats too, breads, salad…. Good food and good value at €15.00.

They have their own pizza oven here, built by a champion! And I enjoyed my champ of a pizza, the Cacciatora: BBQ sauce on the base, pulled chicken and lots of peppers (15.00). Not too sure that Cacciatora was the best name for it but it sure was one of the best pizzas I've eaten.

No shortage of choice for the main courses, pizzas of course and pasta dishes too. They have quite a few steak options, chicken options, and fish options (including a risotto marinara). 

CL paid particular attention to the chicken and eventually picked the Pollo Saltimbocca (15.90) over the Pollo Parmigiana. She was very happy with the choice and enjoyed her chicken wrapped in ham and a tasty and interesting selection of veg that included roast potatoes, courgettes, red onions, red pepper and cauliflower.

The wines were Italian, of course, and we opted for a glass of Valpolicella (7.50) and an excellent Soave (7.25). No dessert on the night so our total, before tip, came to €60.65.

Rossini’s make it easy for you to try out their food without breaking the bank. They have about three set menus that start from €14.90 up. You’d have a choice of two or three starters and two or three mains. You could for instance have Calamari as starter and the Saltimbocca as mains and it wouldn't break the bank. Add a glass of house wine or dessert for 4.50.

Watch out too for their special nights (eg Valentine’s) and you might also like to try them via Deliveroo. And I see too that a tasty looking Pollo Cacciatora features on their well-priced lunch menu (Fridays, Saturdays only).

Rossini’s
33-34 Princes Street, Cork
021 - 4275818
Opening hours: 5.00 to 10.00pm Sunday to Thursday.
1.00 to 11.00pm Friday to Saturday.
Check their Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ristoranterossinis/ for updates.