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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dr Brendan O’Regan Cuvée. A Special Wine for a Special Man

Dr Brendan O’Regan Cuvée

A Special Wine for a Special Man


Born in Sixmilebridge in 1917, Brendan O’Regan went on to achieve much in his life, most notably perhaps the establishment of the world’s first duty free area in Shannon Airport, not too far from his Clare birthplace. He would go on to leave a permanent mark on the Shannon Region, on Ireland and indeed on the world.

After a few years at the Foynes Flying Boat base (where he is handsomely commemorated in the museum there), he was appointed Catering Comptroller General at Shannon in 1945. By 1957, he became chairman of Bord Failte, a post he held until 1973. From 1959-1978, he was chairman of Shannon Free Airport Development Company and, from 1974-1979, he was joint President of State Agencies Development Co-operation Organisation. Just a few of his major achievements.

His wine-maker grand-nephew Dermot Sugrue, from Kilfinane, was always fascinated by his grand-uncle’s achievements and was a proud attendee at the 1917 centenary commemorations. He was inspired to remember the great man and did so with a special wine, an English sparkling wine of outstanding quality, the Dr Brendan O’Regan Cuvée, produced by Sugrue Pierre, Dermot’s company in the South Downs.

The climate of the south east of England makes it particularly suitable for sparkling wines and the industry there is a multi-million pound one. Indeed, the climate and the chalky soil is fairly similar to the Champagne area and well-known champagne maker Taittinger have purchased a vineyard here. 

Dermot has played a key role in putting English sparkling wine on the map. After time honing his craft in France, he’s been making top quality fizz in England for many years ,with Nyetimber, Wiston Estate, Digby Fine English and Jenkyn Place just a few of the award winning names under his belt.

I have spoken to Dermot a few times over the past two years about Dr Brendan O'Regan and so I was delighted to get a bottle of the cuvée to try out. And where better place to do just that than at L’Atitude 51, Cork’s leading wine-bar. Proprietor Beverly Mathews and Chilean wine journalist Fran Jara made up the trio as we opened the precious bottle in the upstairs bar.

Beverly poured and soon we saw those tiny little bubbles, fountains of micro-bubbles, in a non-stop rise to the top. It could, and would, pass for a top class champagne, very “brioche-y”, very zesty too, round and balanced with great acidity and incredible reverberating length, bone dry too. It is labelled Brut. That “dry” quality makes the saliva work and whets the appetite so it makes a terrific aperitif and should also be a superb match with oysters and mussels. These were some of the comments as we sipped.

Later, I collected the considered opinions of my colleagues. Fran: “Sugrue Pierre has fine and energetic bubbles, is bright and dry with flavours of citrus fruits, green apples and a creamy-like texture. In two words, I would say that is extremely enjoyable.”

Beverly was also enthusiastic: “A delicious wine, mouthfilling, very complex and a great long finish. A delicious complex English sparkling wine celebrating a remarkable Irishman. Would make a fab gift. I'd like to get one in a few years time as I think it will age very well indeed.”

Dermot has created this prestige multi-vintage wine from a blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) aged in oak barrels. All the fruit was sourced from two exceptional vineyards, some 26 miles apart on the South Downs. “It possesses outstanding ageing potential, combining both power and structure with subtlety and finesse. Beautiful to enjoy now, it will grow in elegance and complexity if cellared for up to a decade.”

The accolades for this cuvée have been pouring in. Recently described as “Best Gift” in Olly Smith’s Mail on Sunday Christmas drinks round-up, who also said “This is the finest English fizz I’ve yet tasted.” So there you are. It is on sale for £79.00 on the Sugrue Pierre website but do watch out for it on your travels. You’re sure to see it in an airport shop soon. Don’t leave it behind you. Bring it safely home and when drinking, toast the Clare man who helped Ireland emerge from the doldrums and the Limerick man who provided the sparkling wine to celebrate!

Read more about Dr Brendan O’Regan here




  

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, January 10, 2018

Curious. Orange.The Fourth Wine?

Curious: Orange
The Fourth Wine?

You’ll read that orange wine is like rosé. Not really. Not at all. Many wine novices could start with rosé and like it straight off. If they start with orange, they may never drink wine again. 

I reckon you have to serve a general apprenticeship, a rather pleasant broad-based one like I did, before you are ready for orange, at least the orange I've been tasting the past year or so, beginning with La Stoppa’s Ageno.  Well, I did start at the top as this wine has been declared, by Decanter, as the best orange in the world.

The orange colour of these wines, obtained by leaving the skins in contact with the juice, is not uniform for various reasons to do with varieties, geography and time in contact (weeks, even months). The Ageno above spends 30 days on the skins, the Dinavolina below has had four months of contact, the Baglio just four days!

Essentially they are white wines - both examples below are labelled bianco - but they also have a higher level of tannins, more like a red wine, and indeed can match foods where previously red would have been the only choice. Welcome to the fourth wine!

Baglio Bianco Catarratto Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2014, 12%, €19.50 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.

Bianco is certainly a bit of a misnomer here as this is most definitely an orange wine, a cloudy deep amber in colour, unfined and unfiltered. And Le Caveau say it is a “fantastic introduction” to orange, “both from a flavour and price point of view”.

A nose of baked apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg is promised and delivered. There are strong reminders of a flavoursome dry cider as this wine spreads across the palate. A fantastic concentration of the flavours follows through to a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.


Pairings suggested by the importers are free range pork with apple sauce; a herby roast chicken; and cheeses such as Durrus. Catarratto, by the way, is Sicily’s, and Italy’s, most popular white wine grape.

Azienda Agricola Dinavolo Dinavolina Bianco Vino D’Italia 2013, 10.5%, €21.65 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.

And now, from a vineyard height of 1,500 feet, with no added sulphurs, we bring you Dinavolina, the personal project of Giulio Armani, the winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia Romagna, where Ageno is produced. This “left of centre” wine is a blend of Malvasia di Candida Aromatico, Marsanne, Ortrugo and an unidentifiable ancient local grape.

The amber colour here is clear, unlike the cloudy Baglio. Again there are hints of the apple orchard in the aromas but not as pronounced as in the Catarratto. The acidity is certainly a striking feature, reminiscent of the Basque wine Txakoli.

Fruit flavours are spare but insistent - four months on skins have seen to that colour and the tannins. The finish replicates the palate and one can see how the Dinavolina would go well with the recommended dishes: salt cod; ricotta filled pasta; or hard cheese. Personally, I’d add pork. The wine itself is Highly Recommended.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Three Excellent Wines. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Three of the Best. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, 12.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines


Fleurie, like all ten crus, is in the east of the Beaujolais region. Here Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.


This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage. Serve at 15 degrees to get the best from this Fleurie. I found it easy to make my mind up here. No need to wait for the second glass - though that did come - Very Highly Recommended.

Loimer Langenlois Loiserberg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (DAC) 2015, 13%, RRP € 23.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online

The first thing I really noticed* about this bottle was its glass closure; plastic is also used in the seal. It is marked trocken (dry) and made by Fred Loimer in the Kamptal area of Austria. Kamp is a river, a left bank tributary of the Danube which it joins near Krems, about 45 minutes north-east of the famous monastery of Melk.

They have been organic since 2006 and admit to having been inspired by the natural scientist Rudolph Steiner. “this has brought us, we admit, criticism from some quarters”. Their wines though have not, on the contrary. You’ll find the typical Gruner characteristics of herb, spice and apple here in this refreshing example.

There is a good yellow colour and a mixed nose of fruity and herbal notes. There is a peppery touch on the lively palate, along with mellow fruit flavours (2015 was a warm vintage), nice acidity too and excellent balance. A mineral character is prominent in a good long finish. Highly Recommended.

* One of the last things I noticed was the cheeky little fellow embedded in the glass closure!


Alpha Zeta Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2015, 13.5%, €19.99 Bradley’s, Cork; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

I know quite a few of you are Ripasso fans and this is another fine mouth-watering example of the technique and indeed has been described as a “mini-Amarone”. Grapes used are Corvina/Corvinone (70%) and Rondinella (30).

Ruby is the colour. Aromas speak of cherry and you may note the slightly raisin-ed notes familiar from Amarone. It has a rich concentrated palate, the cherry staying prominent, spice too, well balanced though with a fresh and dry finish, long too. Highly Recommended.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Excellent Spanish Organic Wine at SuperValu.

Flor de Anon Garnacha Campo de Borja (DO) 2015, 14.5%, €11.99 SuperValu

Red cherry is the attractive colour; quite light and could be mistaken in appearance for a Pinot Noir or Gamay. Nothing shy about the intense and complex mix of red and dark berries in the aromas (floral notes too). On the rounded palate it is engaging, the lingering concentrated fruit is well balanced by the acidity and the flavours fade hardly at all in the long soft finish. Easy drinking and Very Highly Recommended. Good value too, by the way.

So a quality organic from a  supermarket! Whatever next? It is not the first organic from Kevin O’Callaghan and his team at SuperValu but is one that has been highly anticipated. It is produced from the fruit of 20 year old vines and you are recommended to serve it between 14 and 16 degrees.

Campo de Borja doesn’t exact spring to mind if you are asked to name a Spanish wine region. I looked it up for you! It is an inland area in the north east, some 45 minutes north-west of Zaragoza, 75 minutes south-east of Logrono (Rioja). Your Supervalu though will be easier to find!


*Just noticed, on a leaflet via our post box, that SuperValu have an interesting organic wine from the Languedoc as Wine of the Month. You can get the Grain De Bio Des Terres De Gaujac for ten euro, marked down from €12.99. Great colour, great nose, full and smooth, according to the blurb. Sounds good. Must get my hands on one.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Two French Reds. An Old One. And A Wild One.

Two French Reds. An Old One. And A Wild One.

Domaine Aonghusa The Wild Bunch (Vin de France) 2014, 14.5%, €20.50 Karwig Wine

From Wexford, Pat Neville has proved to be something of a rebel at Domaine Aonghusa (where his partner is his wife Catherine McGuinness) in the Languedoc. Some of his wines are somewhat off piste as is this one, outside the Corbieres appellation rules so a Vin de France  (as are many good wines in this region). But he also, for instance, produces Cuvée Laval which is AOC.

While he does buck the appellation, he is not into biodynamique either. “Our approach is based on common sense, not cosmological tomfoolery. …. This sometimes results in untidy looking but living vineyards.” 

So where does he fit in in the scheme of things. Quotes from an old independent.ie article may help. "I want to make a wine where the third glass is more interesting than the first, not one where everything you want to know is in the first mouthful." "I know the kind of wine I like; good wine to be taken with food, not wines for sitting on a terrace with and sipping.” 

Okay, we can live with that! And this Wild Bunch too, a blend of the vineyard reds which include Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Cinsault and Lledonner Pelut. There may be wild, scrubby notes in the mainly savoury aromas, a little bit maybe, but this mid-purple wine seems to have settled nicely since 2014.

As you might expect, there is a pretty good concentration of fruit on the palate. It is a really well balanced blend at this stage with a long dry finish. A very interesting wine indeed. Nothing to be apprehensive about and might even improve over the next year or so. “The most fantastic blend,” according to Karwig’s. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Peybonhomme Les Tours Premières Côtes De Blaye (AOC) 2001, 12.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle Wines

This charming elegant red is organic and is predominantly Merlot with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chateau overlooks the Gironde estuary and they suggest matching it with Ossobuco or a Risotto with porcini mushrooms.

It is quite a lovely mid ruby colour (considering its age); there is a bit of fade towards the edge and the legs are slow enough to clear even though the abv is not that high. There is red fruit on the nose, a bit of spice too, nothing extreme in either case. Well rounded fruit and tannins on the smooth palate, an excellent balance and a pretty good finish as well. Not bad at all for an old-stager. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Trio of Very Highly Recommended Wine Treats!

Chateau Pape Clement Grand Cru Classé de Graves Pessac-Léognan 1998, 13%. 

Amazing how the colour is so dark,  a deep purple with virtually no diminution at the edge. Quite a subtle scent, rounded, hints of spice. It is smooth, elegant, rich and rounded, not a note out of place, a symphony for the senses, perfect on the palate and a perfect long dry finish. 

Concentrated, fine and harmonious from start to finish, an admirable wine and Very Highly Recommended.


It is a blend of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with some Cabernet Franc also in the mix and spent 18 months in oak.

The first harvest here was in 1252! It was first planted by Bertrand de Goth, Archbishop of Bordeaux, who later (1305) became Pope Clement V (of Avignon fame). The Graves vineyard was run by the Bordeaux Archbishops until the French Revolution.

When the grapes for this particular bottle were produced, the chateau was under Bernard Magrez, “a passionate wine entrepreneur”. His efforts were rewarded in 2009 when critic Robert Parker gave “the mythical score of 100” to the Chateau’s white and the same score for the red in the following year.

This was a birthday gift that I took a while to open, so I'm not sure of availability or price.

Taylor’s Port Late Bottled Vintage 2011, 20%, €25.95 Bradley's (Cork), Le Caveau
Taylor’s, pioneers of the category, launched their first LBV in 1970 to satisfy a demand for a high quality ready-to-drink alternative to Vintage Port. Unlike vintage port, which is bottled after only two years in wood and ages in bottle, LBV is bottled after four to six years and is ready to drink immediately. Its longer wood ageing means it needs no decanting and will remain in good condition for several weeks after the initial opening.

This 2011 has a solid purple colour. It is aromatic for sure, cherry and plum, berries too. Rich and fruity on the palate, some spice also, hints of liquorice, tannins just about in evidence. Superb balance overall. The blending process ensures it is “balanced and complete and that there is a continuity of style in relation to previous Taylor LBV”. A true Taylor-style port indeed.


This beautiful elegant wine, with a wonderfully long finish, is Very Highly Recommended.


Clos Puy Arnaud Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux (AOC) 2014, 14%, €39.95 Bradley’s Cork.


Not too much to say about this one other than it is just brilliant. Colour is mid to deep purple. Aromas are complex, plum mainly, vanilla too, herby notes. Fruit is opulent, plus a marked freshness (a good proportion of Cabernet Franc may have something to do with that) and acidity, a fair bit of spice also, tannins close to smooth, and a quality finish. Very Highly Recommended. Duck and steak may be the best matches, hard cheeses too.

This vin biodynamique is produced by vigernon-proprietaire Thierry Valette and Puy Arnaud is a standard bearer for organic wine in Bordeaux. This is a blend of Merlot (70%), Cabernet Franc (25%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). It is a recent addition to the Findlater list.


Castillon-la-Bataille is a town on the Dordogne, about 50 minutes east of Bordeaux city and the vineyard is a few miles north of the town. Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon is the appellation title for Cotes de Bordeaux wines made specifically in the district. Until 2009, these wines were sold as Cotes de Castillon.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines

Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines
Focus on the classic white grapes: Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc
Hardworking winemakers in Vouvray

The Loire Valley has claims, quite strong, to being the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc. Eventually it got together with Cabernet Franc, another grape widely-grown in the valley, and produced Cabernet Sauvignon. "..wine lovers would have to thank it for that," say Grapes and Wines. The name of the grape was rarely on labels until its debut in the 70s in New Zealand and then everyone got to know it through the pungent wines from Marlborough. Well-made Loire examples, while usually somewhat more restrained, are still worth checking out. And the bottle below from Menetou-Salon is excellent and at a good price too.

While Sauvignon Blanc is now grown all over the world, Chenin Blanc has a much less extensive footprint, mainly found in the Loire and in South Africa. Here in Ireland, we get examples that are usually dry but it is a versatile fruit as you can read below. Vouvray is in the middle of the Loire Valley, not too far from the historic city of Tours. St Martin, the patron saint of wine, was a bishop here.

Bourillon Coup de Trique Vouvray (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine

From a troglodyte cellar in the Loire Valley and bearing a very modern fancy orange cork (100% recyclable nomacorc), comes this Highly Recommended Chenin Blanc from Vouvray.

You’ll note the word sec (dry) on the front label, unusual for French still wine labels. But this Chenin Blanc is a very versatile wine. “In the Loire… its wines go from scaringly dry, to dry, to fairly dry, to vaguely off-dry, to off-sweet, sweet, very, very sweet - and there’s good Chenin fizz too.” Grapes and Wine go on to detail an equally long list of styles from South Africa (where Chenin is well-known) and  where it makes “an awful lot of brandy”.



This has quite a bright light straw colour. Aromas feature white fruit, floral and herbal notes. A lively attack with white pepper in among the fruit and the long very satisfying palate is followed by a lengthy and equally satisfying finish. 

Jean-Max Roger Morgues Le Petit Clos Menetou-Salon (AOC) 2015, 13%, €21.55 Karwig

Menetou-Salon is a village at the eastern end of the Loire Valley wine region and considered an up and coming rival to its famous neighbour Sancerre. Inhabitants are known as Monestrosaloniens and you thought Corkonian was a mouthful!

This 100% Sauvignon blanc has a lovely gold colour. In the aromas you’ll find white fruit (citrus to the fore) and floral elements too. Excellent mouthfeel, fresh and fruity, and matching acidity all the way through to the long finish. Highly Recommended.

Fish, shellfish, white meats and goats cheese are the suggested pairings. “It is an ideal way to start a meal or to enjoy with friends during the day.”




Sunday, December 17, 2017

Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas

Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas

The Tinpot Hut winery is named after the huts, famed in New Zealand sheep country, huts used by musterers as they round up the sheep who have spent Spring to Autumn in the hills. Fiona Turner, a regular visitor to Ireland, is the winemaker.

Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir Marlborough (New Zealand) 2015, 13%, RRP € 24.99 Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

Colour is Pale ruby. There are plum and cherry aromas, touch of blackberry too. Same fruit on the smooth palate, spice well in the mix too, soft and silky tannins and well balanced through to a long finish. Hard to top this one. Very Highly Recommended.

Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon blanc 2016, 13.5%, €19.99 Stockists: Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Myles Creek; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

Another beauty from Fiona Turner and Tinpot Hut. Colour is light straw with green tints. Vibrant aromas of melon, pineapple, lemongrass, a drift of herb. On the palate, exotic fruit flavours, citrus also in there, make it quite a flavourful experience, but with a lively acidity, and this elegant wine continues in balance as it heads to a long finalé.

Fiona is proud of her well earned Sustainable Winegrowing logo and proud too of this Sauvignon that has been declared “exceptional” by Decanter who also awarded it 98 points. Very Highly Recommended.

Tinpot Hut wines are imported here by Liberty Wines and they also include Pinot Gris, Syrah, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner in their portfolio.



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Grapes planted in 16th century. Now we get these two gems from Chile.

A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2015 Itata (Chile), 12.5%, €22.90 Le Caveau, Bradley’s (Cork).

If you don’t like your wines big and bold and prefer light and delicate, then this is one to try.

Colour is pale Ruby, shimmering. 
Aromas of wild strawberries and hints too (I'm told) of the local vegetation.

Palate is fresh and light, vibrant, delicate red fruit flavours, touch of spice, distinctive and refreshing, smooth all the way to the finish. The granitic soils have a lot to say and tell here and, perhaps, that is why, or at least one reason, this wine reminds me of a good Beaujolais. A quiet friendly one and Very Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau say the fruit comes from very old vines (100 years and more) grown on volcanic soil that give it a mineral-y character. It is fermented and aged in concrete vats, the extraction is very subtle. The skins are basket pressed. The wine is then aged in large wood vessels and after 14 months is bottled with a very coarse filtration. 

The first País (also known, particularly in California, as the Mission grape) was brought by the conquistadors in the 1550s and, for centuries, the locals used it to make wines for themselves.

But bit by bit, the big companies began to use the big-name grapes and the ancient imports lost ground. Leonardo Erazo was one who wanted to reverse this trend, travelled the world for ten years to study wine and then came back and founded A Los Viñateros Bravos.

In Itata, Leonardo has worked with the scattered local farmers’ old vines—many well over 100 years, still growing as dry farmed, untrained small bushes—to enhance their traditional natural practices to align with biodynamic guidelines. His mission, throughout this journey, has been to bring a sense of place into the bottle. 

“In order to achieve that, we are working back into the organic viticulture (historically, a tradition here) with natural winemaking. We feel like we don’t need to fix nature but rather enhance its capabilities, thus to enhance its potential. We want wines full of life, vibrancy, tension and freshness.”


The Pais doesn’t have much of a status with the better-known wine commentators. For instance, Grapes and Wines blames the original Spanish Franciscan missionaries for not taking the trouble “to bring something better”. Leonardo Erazo is taking time and trouble and certainly bringing us something better!

Miguel Torres Reserva Ancestral Valle del Itata (Chile) 2014, 14.5%, €18.50 Marks and Spencer.
This blend of Cinsault (60%), País (25) and Carignan (15) has a deep ruby colour. There are fragrant aromas of plum, blackberry, some spice too. It is smooth, rich, juicy and fruity as it spreads across, tannins just about evident, and then a long dry finish. A warm and concentrated welcoming wine, ideal in autumn and winter. Very Highly Recommended.

Torres tell us this is produced from the fruit of 80-year old vines. These grape varieties were first brought to Chile by the early Spanish conquistadors around 500 years ago, so it is aptly named.

According to Wines of South America, Torres are dedicated to rediscovering “heritage” wines, based on traditional País, both in table red and sparkling bottlings.
All Torres vineyards in Chile have been organic since 1995 and this wine, a Platinum winner in Decanter 2017, is the inaugural vintage (fewer than 15,000 bottles) from these ancient vineyards.

Decanter called it a “friendly beast” with particular praise for its “lovely concentration”.This medium bodied wine is not meant for long-term keeping and you are advised to use it within five years. Try it with steak, charcuterie and empanadas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Aperitifs. And Two for The Meal!

Christmas Aperitifs
And Two for The Meal!

Quite a bit of variety in this quartet of whites, all possible aperitifs, which should stand you  in good stead over the holidays. All will be fine as aperitifs and two have the advantage of being rather low in alcohol. One is a rosé (usually associated with summer but I'm sure the house will be hot!) and another is a slightly sweet bottle of organic bubbles. The Vinho Verde is easy-drinking (indeed, they all are) and has a very slight fizz while the Sauvignon Blanc can also do duty during a meal. And speaking of The Meal, we have two (each well-priced) at the end that will certainly do the business there for you. Enjoy.

Messias Vinho Verde (DOC) 8.5%, €12.35 Karwig’s


This Vinho Verde is light and crisp, with a subtle and sparse fizz. It is made, in the Atlantic north of Portugal, from traditional regional varieties (Loureiro and Pedernâ in this case).

It has a light lemon colour, a touch of green and plenty of fizzy bubbles. Aromas are of light fresh fruits. The light white fruits continue to the palate, also a touch of sweetness (residual sugar is 13 gram/litre), a gentle fizz is part of the lively acidity. Recommended, especially as an aperitif.


La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2016, 7%, €18.95 Bradley’s, Le Caveau.


The Malvasia di Candia is a rather unusual moderately sweet bubbly wine. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%.

Note too the beautiful golden colour. Not that many bubbles. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet, honey and fruity and a good finish. This lightly sparkling beauty is Recommended.

Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose Cabrieres Languedoc (AOP), 13%, €14.95 Bradley’s Cork.

This rosé is one of the new wines added to the Findlater range. It is produced from Cinsault (50%), Grenache (40) and Syrah (10). “Summer in a glass” they claim, full of red fruit and a refreshing zestiness. Sophie Valrose wines are regular award winners (the rosé indeed picked up another gong at the recent National Off Licence Awards). 

Colour is a light to mid salmon, more flush than the blush on the label. Strawberries and blossoms in the aromas, round and elegant on the palate, excellent acidity and a decent finish to boot. Summer has been successfully bottled here. Recommended, even in winter!


Passage du Sud Sauvignon Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2016, 11.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s (Cork)

Usually in Gascony, the white wines I've come across are the kind that go well during the holiday. Often they are produced from Ugni Blanc  and Columbard (used in Armagnac) fruit, great with the local oysters and other seafood but rarely worth bringing home. This Sauvignon Blanc has a bit more going for it and is Recommended. 

The Gascony area, in the south west of France, often hosts migrating birds, hence the name on this bottle. The designation Côtes de Gascogne is in the Gers department. Here too you will find Armagnac and Floc de Gascogne (the local aperitif). This is the area where you are strongly advised not to ask for Cognac or Pineau des Charentes (also a good aperitif, as is the Floc, if you can get your hands on them).


This wine, also new to the Findlater list, has a light straw colour. White fruit aromas are matched on the crisp and fruity palate, citrus elements prominent, and a lively acidity. Quite a pleasant surprise this from a generally unconsidered area. Recommended. Good value too.


And Two for The Meal!
Le Petite Source Le Clos Rouge Pays d’Oc (IGP), 12.5%, €11.95 Bradley's, Le Caveau
This is one of the selection of excellent “simple” wines that Le Caveau have on their house wine listings. Under a convenient screw cap, the organic blend is of Grenache, Cinsault and Merlot. It is deliciously light and fruity and a good example of price/quality ration from the Languedoc.

It has a lovely medium ruby colour. It is fresh and fruity (blackberry, raspberry and strawberry), juicy and simple, silky tannins with just a little bite. Well balanced but with a good deal of heft about it and Highly Recommended.

Le Petite Source Le Clos Blanc Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.95 Bradley's, Le Caveau


This 2014 edition (2015 is now available) has a light straw colour. There are rather exotic fruits on the nose. And they follow through to the palate. It is deliciously fresh and fruity, no shortage of acidity. Very refreshing with a longish finish. This well made blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay is Highly Recommended.