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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Different Worlds but Two Superb Red Wines


Different Worlds but Two Super Red Wines

Domaine Sainte Croix Celèstra Corbieres (AOC) 2013, 14.5%, €29.50 Mary Pawle Wines

Sainte Croix in the Languedoc is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, who have extensive experience of working both in classic French stone ‘caves’ and giant, steel wineries in many parts of the world. From first sight of the unique geology and ‘climat’ here, professional intuition made it clear that it is an area of immense potential, a potential they consistently realise in their wines and illustrated well in this Celèstra, a blend of 50% Grenache (from 1968 vines) and 50% Syrah (from 1984 vines).

It is a dark red, verging on purple; legs are slow to clear, confirming the big alcohol count. Intense dark fruits (plums, blackberries) on the nose, Intense too on the palate, concentrated red and black fruits, spice prominent too. Tannins also in the mix as this attractive wine finishes long and well. Very Highly Recommended.

The name Celèstra is taken from an Occitan word for blue (origin latin caelum, meaning sky. . .). “As a wine with a highly Languedocian profile, it could be said to be from ‘le grand bleu’.” It is an organic wine, unfined, unfiltered. It has been 100% matured sur lie in 300 litre barrels (3-5 fill) for 18 months. Blended and returned to tank for 6 months before bottling. Enjoy!

El Abasto Malbec Mendoza (Argentina) 2017, 13.5%, €16.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This vibrant fruity full-bodied wine is named after an 1983 established market that became also a centre for tango, poetry, and culture.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. Lots of rich red and darker fruit, plus a touch of violet, in the aromas. Juicy and lively, full-bodied, a touch of spice, exceptionally smooth all the way to the excellent finish. Now where’s that steak? Also just the job with selection of charcuterie, cold cuts, firm cheeses, burgers, pasta with red sauce. Versatile is the word! This young very approachable wine is Very Highly Recommended. And it can be served chilled, though you probably won’t need to do that at this time of year!

There are, according to Wines of South America, two main factors that help Malbec thrive in Mendoza. The low rainfall (12” as against 30” Bordeaux) and its timing, falling mostly in the summer, promotes ripening and minimises desease. Second, Mendoza’s wide thermal amplitude (put simply, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) promotes aromatic development and softened tannins.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Two Organic Beauties from Le Caveau. Plus Wine Briefs


Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky No. 9 White Blend (Dundee, Oregon, USA) NV, 12%, €24.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is worth trying; it is excellent, in the same way that Gentil from Alsace vineyards can be surprisingly delicious. Gentil are multi-grape blends and so is this non vintage white. The grapes used are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Sémillon, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. It is a non-oaked wine and was introduced in 1998 and this is the 19th edition. 

Evolution No. 9 is a play on the Beatles number Revolution No. 9. Sokol Blosser say the white was created out of the desire to make a fun wine, one that would accompany the modern predilection for "yoking different kinds of food together" and is “very much more than the sum of its very disparate parts”. Pair it with spicy Asian, Indian, Mexican and Caribbean foods. Or with a jambalaya.

Pioneers Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971 in the Dundee Hills. Their vineyards are farmed organically; local organic straw, organic cow and horse manure, grape pomace from the crush and organic rock phosphate contribute to the composting. The insect population is kept in check by a resident flock of bluebirds.


It has a pale straw colour but the juice looks really good and clean in the bottle and you’re thinking this is a good one, your opinion reinforced by the fairly intense mix of lush and tropical aromas. Again that same amalgam of fruit on the smooth palate, a touch of sweetness early on but there is excellent acidity in there too that ensures a satisfying crisp finalé. Very Highly Recommended. The Evolution Big Time Red, was first released in 2012, and is on my list!

Alfredo Maestro Viña Almate Castilla y León (VT) 2016, 14%, €14.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The Tempranillo grapes for this wine are grown in Peñafiel in Ribera del Duero but, according to Spanish Wine Lover, it has always been sold as VT Castilla y León. Le Caveau say the wine is raised for four months in neutral French oak; it is unfined, unfiltered and very low SO2.

Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are quite complex, ripe red fruits prominent. Red fruit flavours too on the generous palate, while a touch of spice heightens the pleasure of this easy drinking young wine. Highly Recommended. This is Alfredo’s flagship wine and Spanish Wine Lover rates it “as outstanding within its type and style”.

From the beginning, in 1998, Alfredo farmed organically, his mantra: “Wine made with only grapes, well-kept vineyards, and healthy land.” With more land and experience now at his disposal, Alfredo is one to watch as the story of his pure and elegant wines evolves.Look out for more well-made wines from the man "known as the 'magician of the Duero’, a prominent exponent of the natural wine movement in Spain.
Wine briefs
SuperValu's current wine sale continues until October 10th and is headlined by their mix and match offer of 6 bottles for €50.00. Plenty of choice so I had quick look and here's my half-dozen, three white and three red.

1  ABELLIO ALBARIÑO
ARESTI TRISQUEL SAUVIGNON BLANC
BURDIZZO VERMENTINO TOSCANA 
HOMMAGE DU RHONE VINSOBRES
CHATEAU HAUT BERTINERIE RED
CASA DE LA ERMITA CRIANZA

O'Brien's have dozens of wines of offer also for the month but what really caught my eye is their Organic Wine Masterclass on October 18th. Details below:

Introduced by expert Sommelier François Pages from Gérard Bertrand, guests will be led through a selection of Gérard Bertrand’s finest wines, including the exquisite single-vineyard, Clos d’Ora. Learn about the organic and biodynamic philosophies that are at the heart of each Gérard Bertrand wine and the meticulous attention to detail in the cellar.

The Masterclass will begin at 7.30pm and a light cheese board will be served to accompany the wines. 


Tickets: €25 - Available online HERE

There'll be a discount on the night for any orders placed on Gérard Bertrand wines.
Date: Thursday October 18th
Time: 7.30pm
Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 2.


A week earlier, SPIT – out of the Ordinary wines from artisan wineries represented by four independent wine companies, GrapeCircus, Nomad, VinosTito and WineMason - will be held on October 11th in The Chocolate Factory (Dublin). Details here.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friends, music and a bottle of Fado!


Continuing our look at the new wines in SuperValu highlighting the Fado Reserva, the current wine of the month.


Paço das Côrtes Friendship FADO Reserva (Vinho Regional Lisbon) 2016, 13.5%, €13.99 (down to ten euro until October 10th)

Paço das Côrtes is a Portuguese family-based wine company especially dedicated to producing fine wines, with a modern style, from the vineyards of the Lisbon Region and are focused on the international markets. This Fado is a blend of Tinta Roriz (40%), Alicante Bouschet (30) and Syrah (30) and has been aged for 4 months in French oak.

Colour is a dark ruby and there are aromas of ripe red fruits plus balsamic notes. Smooth, fruity and spicy, this warmly introduces itself on the palate. Quite intense all through but with good acidity and a persistent finish. 

Nice and satisfying with approachable ripe fruit, this ticks a lot of boxes and well worth looking out for on the SuperValu shelves. And, with that spectacular (trade-marked) label you should find it easily enough! 

Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of SuperValu Wine, is a big fan: “The Fado is one of the best at that price position I’ve seen in a while….. This is a no-brainer for me.”

Where did the name come from? Fado music is a form of Portuguese singing that is often associated with pubs, cafés and restaurants. It is often profoundly melancholic, a European form of the blues. 

Still, Fado and friends and a bottle of good wine make for a great night out. The colourful label shows a couple sharing a bottle of wine while listening to a Fado performer, perhaps singing of lost love or exile (there is a caravel sailing away in the distance), subjects familiar to an Irish audience.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Three Highly Recommended Whites from across Europe


Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines

Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.

Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.


Diwald Fucksentanz Riesling Wagram (Austria) 2016, 12%, €18.30 Mary Pawle Wines

Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.

Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.

Amastuola Bianco Salento Italy (IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.69 Mary Pawle Wines

Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.

Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.

Monday, September 24, 2018

SuperValu Freshen Up Wine Offering. Two Whites and a Super Red


SuperValu Freshen Up Wine Offering
Two Whites and a Superb Red

Regular wine shoppers at SuperValu will have noticed many new “faces” on the wine shelves. Quite a few have eye-catching labels and Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of SuperValu Wine, while well aware that you cannot always judge a book by its cover, likes “the label to sing or depict an essence or style in the very wine they are producing. …” He reckons" the art of storytelling will be the next consumer motivator.”

So let us start with a look at three wines, including two whites, from Carcassonne wine exporters LGI Wines.

Duo de Mers Sauvignon Blanc Viognier (Vin de France) 2017, 12%, €11.99

The label here sees two fish, one heading in a directly opposite direction to the other, one darker. So what’s the story? The wine goes with fish. True. But look at the wine’s name, referring to two seas. The Sauvignon comes from Atlantic influenced Gascony while the Viognier is sourced in Mediterranean Languedoc. Similarities to Australia here with the fruit coming from different regions.

Sauvignon accounts for 70% of the blend in this pleasant easy drinking light coloured wine; the Viognier adds to the white fruit elements in the aromas. On the palate, the blend is fresh, fruity and smooth. Good value and great for a party. Try it on its own as an aperitif or with shellfish, fish, and salads.

Combeval SCG Grand Cuvée Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2017, 11.5%, €11.99 

A relatively plain label on this one, just a selection of curved lines indicating little hills and a few words confirming that it is from the sunny slopes of the south of France. All the fruit - Sauvignon Blanc 60%, Columbard 20% and Gros Manseng 20% - comes from Gascony. Gascony may not often pop up in the wine conversation but it is a producer of lovely fresh white wines and there are many vineyards here and much of the fruit (including Columbard) is used to produce the well-known Armagnac spirit, Gascony’s worthy answer to the Charente’s Cognac.

Colour is light straw and the aromas here are mainly those you’d expect of Sauvignon, herbaceous with fruits (e.g. gooseberry, apple). On the palate, it is well endowed, thanks in part to time on both big and fine lees, a tingly touch too and a good finish, somewhat longer than the Duo above. Again pair with fish and salads and treat yourself to a glass beforehand!

The SCG is a play on the well known GSM of the Rhone and neighbouring areas. Indeed, Supervalu have the Combeval GSM and the red grapes in the blend are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Should be worth a try also.

Dark Apparition Alicante Bouschet Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €12.99

The label shows an ectoplasmic figure trying to break out of its containment unit. The monochrome ghost is, according to the online blurb, apparently trying to express the full body and power of the wine. Really?

Let us move on to the grape itself. Unlike many grapes, this one has a precise birthday. In 1855, Henri Bouschet crossed Grenache Noir with Cabernet Sauvignon and this baby was born and has gone on to prove quite popular, especially in the south of France. Unusually, its pulp is red which enhances the colour. It also provides fatness to the wine. Put it all together and you have a Dark Red Apparition! Really?

Let us move on to the wine itself, let the Alicante materialise! At harvest, the fruit is divided into two sections. Some fruit goes through the modern process of thermal maceration, most is traditionally fermented on skins for three weeks and is then aged for six months with French oak which “adds complexity” providing a full-bodied cuvée when both parts regroup.

Colour is indeed a dark red. Quite a concentrated melange of scents, ripe fruit, floral and vanilla. Smooth and juicy on the palate, concentrated too with initially a slight sweetness, always the merest trace of vanilla, smooth tannins (on the lips), a good dry finish. The Alicante is well and truly out of the bottle and it is an excellent drink. Really!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Couple of Portuguese White Stars, including an Alvarinho Vinho Verde


Portuguese wines are on the rise. 

And not just the red ones. The whites too can be remarkable and we have two gems for you to try including a Vinho Verde - remember that little sparkler? I've noticed these excellent wines coming more and more onto the shelves over the past five or six years. I'm not the only one - check out the quotes below. Very good value a few years ago. That could be changing, but still good value. Buy now and try! 

Vinho Verde is one of Portugal’s most distinctive wines. Jancis Robinson. More here.

It's high time Portuguese wines were given the same respect we grant French, Spanish and Italian ones. The Guardian here.

Wines from Portugal have been enjoying impressive growth worldwide thanks to improvements in both the quality and range of wines over recent years. The Buyer Here

Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €24.99 Bradley’s Cork; wineonline.ie

Did you drink Vinho Verde back in the day? It had a little bit of fizz and was low in alcohol. Then, when we were also drinking Blue Nun and Black Tower and dipping our tongues in hostile foreign languages, we thought Vinho Verde meant green wine; it means young wine. 

And there is no spritziness here, natural or induced, but its absence is no loss at all. This Morgadio da Torre is far from the simple sparkler of our experience. More than likely that earlier Vinho Verde wasn’t made from Alvarinho (Albarino in Spain) as this one is.  

Alvarinho, often compared to Riesling, is one of seven grapes permitted in the DO; they regard it as “the most noble” grape of the region and is usually that bit more expensive. Other grapes that may be used are Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura. 

This dry aromatic Morgadio is certainly a wine of distinction, very enjoyable with fish and seafood and also as an aperitif. Colour is a light straw, very clear. There are fairly intense tropical fruit aromas. Fruity, fresh, mineral, are the first sensations noted on the palate. The fruit is pure and persistent, vibrant notes of lime and citrus prominent, the aromas at play all the way through to the very dry finish. The fact that it was a very good year in the area helped and this is Very Highly Recommended.


Casa Ferreirinha “Papa Figos” Vinho Branco Douro (DOC) 2016, 12.5%, €18.99 winesonline.ie 

Lots of different grapes in most Portuguese blends and this is no exception with Rabigato (55%), Viosinho (15), Arinto/Pedernã (15), Códega (10), and Moscatel (5) all in the mix here.

It has a pale straw colour. Attractive aromas, yellow fruit and floral notes. That attractive tropical fruit again features on the palate and is persistent, good acidity too. And an excellent finish as well on this fresh and vibrant wine. Very Highly Recommended.

After fermentation, roughly 20% of the batch was matured in used French oak barrels for three months; the remaining 80% was kept in stainless steel tanks. The wine went through careful fining and filtering before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Delicious Double from Le Caveau


Arianna Occhipinti SP 68 Rosso Terre Siciliane (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €26.35 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
Get your kicks on route sixty-eight. Doesn't rhyme! This super wine, liquid poetry, is named after the road that passes by the Sicilian vineyard where Arianna Occhipinti happily produces the clean wines that have given her quite a reputation.

“Arianna Occhipinti is a real star of ‘natural wine’. …Good agriculture and minimal intervention in the cellar bring light to every label in production. No accident today that her Frappato is on the wine lists at the worldliest tables of Parisian neo-bistros.”

So says the authoritative Modern History of Italian Wine speaking of Arianna whom they include in a very short list of the most influential Italian winemakers of the current decade.

And that Frappato grape is included in the blend here, its partner being the much better known Nero D’Avola. Gorgeous aromatics here, a melange of fruit (red) and floral, herb notes too, even a wee bit of pepper. On the palate, it is light and bright with berry (raspberry from the Frappato) and red cherry fruit, energy and grace in every sip, excellent acidity too, very refreshing, an exquisite balance of power and finesse and those lips drying at the finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

And if the Irish weather is warm when you get your hands on a bottle, don't hesitate to chill it a little, about forty minutes in the fridge did it for me. There was a little sediment, so maybe decant. If you forget, don’t worry!

Viña Albergada Tempranillo Rioja (DOC) 2016,  13%, €12.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The colour of this young wine, a joven, is a dark ruby. There are expressive aromas of ripe red fruit (cherry, plum). On the palate it is juicy and fruity, with a touch of spice, very good acidity, quite refreshing. Perhaps not the longest of finishes but a good one. Highly Recommended.

The unoaked joven is a lighter, easy-drinking style of Rioja that offers great value-for-money. Great too, they hint, as an aperitif with Banderillas tapas (green olives, gherkins, onions and pimenta). And it is one of those reds that may be tried chilled.
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Monday, September 10, 2018

Sophie Bertin Sancerre is a Star at O'Brien's Annual Sale


Focus on the Whites in the O'Brien's Annual Sale
Reds may outnumber the whites by about two to one in the ongoing annual sale at O'Brien's but there are some excellent whites to consider. We tasted the first three over the past week while the two at the end were tasted a few months back. All good, but we do advise putting the Sophie Bertin Sancerre at #1 on your shopping list!

La Côte Blanche de Sophie Bertin Sancerre (AOP) 2016, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95).

Of the three whites tasted this past few days, this is the star. Not that you’d know it from the pale straw colour, much the same as the Waiheke. The magic starts with the aromas, a degree or two more intense, white fruit and floral notes, minerality and more, full of promise.

And that promise is handsomely delivered. The palate has extra intensity, more body, rounded and flavourful, perfect balance between fruit and acidity, plus quite a long and satisfying dry finish. Very Highly Recommended. An ideal pairing with seafood, salad, or simply by itself. The winery recommendations are Goat's cheese, Risotto, Salads, Shellfish, Smoked fish.

This top class Sancerre benefits from the Domaine’s “fantastic soils (chalk and clay, and flint)" and a policy of reducing yields to increase fruit flavours.  In the cellar, the wine is matured on its lees for several months.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (Austria) 2017, 12%, €14.95 (was 18.45).

This light straw coloured wine has aromas of white fruits, light pepper in the background. The purity of the fruit (peachy) is exceptional - the Grüner Veltliner, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil - no shortage of minerality  and you have a dry refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. Well priced too - especially now!

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois, Austria’s largest wine-producing city, has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes and salads.


Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc Waiheke Island (New Zealand) 2016, 12%, €16.95 (was 19.95).

Very light straw is the colour of this Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc. The island, known for its beaches and vineyards, is a short ferry ride to the east of Auckland on the North Island. Aromas tend to citrus as does the fairly intense palate of this fresh and crisp wine. Acidity is not shy at all and, with a hint of grapefruit, there’s a pleasing refreshing finish. Recommended. By the way, it is not entirely Sauvignon as there is five per cent Semillon in the blend.

Winery note: The 2016 Sauvignon blanc, with 5% Semillon, is a stylish vintage with typical herbaceous aromas, tight acidity and ample texture. Typical of Waiheke Sauvignon blanc, our 2016 Estate Savvy is perfect with a year or two of age allowing the wine to mellow and showcase the wines structure and longevity.

Two Others to Note

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €22.95 (was 24.95).
The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!

Terredora Greco di Tufo Loggia, 16.95 (was €18.95)
Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Greco di Tufo is the grape and you’ll find it difficult to get one better than this!

O’Brien’s themselves rave about this one: “Tasted by the wine team against two other major names in the region (Campania), this wine won hands down and was immediately listed for us. Simply amazing mineral driven, rich, complex white. Utterly irresistible!”

The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.” 


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Georgian Wine. How The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge


Georgian Wine. The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge

Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli Kakheti (Georgia) 2016, 12.5%, €22.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

When American artist John Wurdeman, then working in the Soviet Union, was persuaded by a new-found friend to get involved in a Georgian winery, they were thinking of using oak, like some were. But the local bishop put them on the right wine road: “Stay with tradition. Keep true to the Georgian way. Use no additives. Use qvevri. Have faith.”

And so John Wurdeman and Gela Patalashvili now use the qvevri and, “with love and awe”, make their wine as it has been made here for 8,000 years. “Our natural wines are made entirely in qvevri inside the womb of the earth.” A qvevri is huge earthenware vat sunk into the ground and used for fermentation and storage. Another difference is that the Georgians use skin contact extensively, hence the deep colours of the two wines in this post.

“At Pheasant's Tears we believe our primary task is to grow endemic grapes from unparalleled Georgian soil, harvest that fruit and then preserve it as wine using traditional Georgian methods. 

In working this close to the vine we experience both heartache and celebration; yet every year there is a new harvest to cultivate, and the eventual discovery of a wine of untold beauty.” This is one of the beauties!

To read more on the amazing story, including how the Georgian winemakers survived a long period of Soviet industrialisation of the vineyard and the winery, get your hands on “For the love of wine” by Alice Feiring. And to understand better the philosophy behind the men and women of Pheasant’s Tears check out this YouTube video

And so back to our bottle made from the white wine grape Rkatsiteli where the skin contact helps give this amazing amber colour. Nose is intense with a waft of honey. The palate is rich with range peel and dried apricot and walnut notes also. It is full-bodied and the noticeably dry finish is persistent, with tannins kissing the lips.

It is versatile with food (ask the Georgians who typically allow three litres per person at their legendary feasts). We tried it with Chicken Piri Piri (with a courgette and tomato accompaniment from the garden). Later, with a bowl of unadorned strawberries. And later again with a slice of courgette (a bit of a glut at present!) and walnut cake.

Made with love and awe. We drank it with love and awe. Very Highly Recommended.

Tbilvino Marks & Spencer Rkatsiteli Qvevri, Kakheti, Georgia, 2015, 12% abv, €15.00 (on offer at the time) M & S.

Okay, so you need a bit of translation. Tbilvino are the producers for Marks and Spencer who blended it. Rkatsiteli is the grape and the Qvevri is the Georgina underground vessel (an amphora) in which the wine has matured. Kakheti is the wine region in the far east of the country.

The company story begins in the twentieth century, in 1962, when one of the most powerful wine factories in the Soviet Union was launched in Tbilisi. For years the factory remained an essential part of the Soviet winemaking industry (nine of ten bottles of wine sold inside the country and abroad were made in this factory). The emphasis was more on quantity than quality until the early 1990s when it emerged as an independent wine company with a new philosophy.

M & S say this orange wine from the white Rkatsiteli grapes is made in the traditional manner. The grape juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in the Qvevri for several months developing the wine’s rich and unique style. So unique that wine beginners may not like it, so be careful who you offer it to.

The colour, some say orange, some amber, is striking in the glass and the rich aromas have hints of honey. Rich and deep too on the palate, dried fruit (apricot), some spice too, nutty notes also in the mix. And a good finish as well. Highly Recommended. I think food is an essential with this one and M&S recommend pairing it with mixed seafood platters, and spicy dishes such as chicken tagine or tandoori chicken.


See previous post on orange wines here

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine


A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe (DOC) 2015, 14.5%, €21.65 Karwig Wines

“Langhe Nebbiolo is a close relation of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines but one that is usually softer and more accessible.” - Decanter. They also say that it is “Part of great value Italian wines made by cooperatives". 

This mid ruby coloured wine has inviting red fruit aromas, a hint of spice too. The same fruit and spice invade the palate, in the nicest possible way; it is medium-bodied with good acidity, a decent finish with soft tannins. Easy drinking (despite the high alcohol), very pleasant and Highly Recommended.

Perfect, they say, with pizzas and pastas, white and red meat, and rich fish dishes.

Verso Rosso Salento (IGT) 2016, 14%, €15.75 Karwig Wine

Salento is a town in Puglia in the south-east of Italy. Oak ageing has played a role here and the wine is made with a “small amount of apassimento” which gives a raisin element in the flavours. 

They recommended using it with red meats, stew, game and mature cheese. Duck breast should also be a good match. The blend is Negromaro (60%), Primitivo (35) and Malvasia Nera (5).

It is a deep red (skins have been left in must for “extended period”). Legs are slow to clear. Dark fruit on the nose. Juicy and fruity (think crème de cassis) with a vibrant spice, sweet tannins at play also. An easy drinking wine and Highly Recommended.


Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc (AC) 2016, 12.5%, Karwig Wines €14.95

This blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris comes from a stunning estate located at the gateway of Cadillac in the small municipality of Beguey, overlooking the Garonne River. You’ll hear that Bordeaux whites are often better value than the reds and this is the case here.

It has a pale straw colour. Citrus and floral notes feature in the expressive nose. Fresh engaging fruit on the palate, lovely acidity also and a superb lip-smacking finish. A Highly Recommended melange of Bordeaux fruit and craft.

It has spent two months on fine lees and is, they recommend, a perfect accompaniment for oysters, sea food and smoked salmon sushis. The salmon I enjoyed it with wasn't smoked but they paired well nonetheless.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Kinsale’s CRU is Grand! Bubbling with personality


Kinsale’s CRU is Grand!
Bubbling with personality


CRU, at 5 Main Street, Kinsale

Cru is a relatively new winebar and bistro in Kinsale’s centre and was busy and buzzing when we called recently for dinner. Good simple food is promised here with good wine and music as well. And they deliver on all counts.

And there’s a very warm welcome led by owner Colm Ryan and backed up by the friendly staff. The wine list is pretty extensive ranging from cheap and cheerful to the very serious stuff and all the notes are by the owner who will also be very glad to help you make your choice. Indeed, there is almost a “standing order" here to have fun. Enjoyment is positively encouraged.

Colm has also compiled the music list which blends perfectly into the buzz as the long and narrow room, divided into three sections, fills. There is also a smaller room upstairs, ideal for groups of up to twenty two or so.
Fish special - Lemon Sole

No delay here - you soon have the menu and water at your table and either the owner or one of the staff on hand to answer any queries and also to fill you in on the day’s specials. And these specials are seriously worth reading and noting.

Fish is prominent here, on both the regular menu and on the specials. It is a very good place to try oysters if you haven't done so before as they sell them singly here. They come from nearby Haven Shellfish as do the mussels.

Indeed CL started with the Moules Mariniere with the traditional white wine, cream and garlic sauce. They don’t promise cutting edge here, just “simple but high quality food”. And that can be applied to the mussels. And also to my Pan seared scallops with Clonakilty black pudding, pea and mint puree, crispy pancetta. And the Clon mention reminds me to say that there is a definite support here for local producers.

On then to the mains, both fish. My pick, and it was faultless, was the Pan roasted John Dory with salsa verde, basil mash and a side of market vegetables. CL went for the special of Lemon Sole, a couple of delicious fresh fillets with prawns and mussels, samphire, black pepper and lemon butter, crushed baby potato and market veg. Well cooked, well presented and another dish well polished off. Indeed, all of six plates went back empty.
Sundae

There is also a desserts specials board, quite a few choices. CL is a crumble specialist so she picked the Apple and Blackberry Crumble with crême Anglaise and ice-cream. The fruit was superb here. I meanwhile was tucking into the eye-catching strawberry and lemon curd ice-cream sundae.

Oh, I’d better mention the wines!😀 We enjoyed an Albarino; the Val de Sosego 2017, from Rias Baixas DO, had a great balance of fruit and acidity and went well with the fish. And our second was the Frescobaldi Castello di Pomino 2016, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, with a lovely rich palate and persistent finish. I think I got more out of this excellent wine while sipping between courses.

Prefer a beer? You’re covered here with craft beers by Eight Degrees, 9 White Deer, Black’s of Kinsale, Clonakilty Brewing Company, all available and also the local Stonewell cider.

So that was it. After another wee chat with Colm, another two happy CRU customers headed out into the calm summer’s evening.




Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We are red, we are white. Samurai Dynamite.


We are red, we are white.
Samurai Dynamite

Talking here about two Australian wines new from Le Caveau, both in the Samurai series by Free Run Juice and each worth taking notice of. By the way, you won't see Samurai written on the labels but it is there in the illustrations!

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Chardonnay (Australia) 2016, 13%, €14.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. Do you remember what that tastes like? In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.

Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances and a persistent finish crowns it.

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95  

“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.

A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A couple of excellent Karwig reds from the Veneto


Conte Loredan Gasparini “Falconera” Colli Trevigiani Merlot (IGT) 2013, 13%, €18.95 Karwig Wines

This Merlot is from the Montello region, 50 kms north of Venice, where the Count used to hunt with his hawks (hence the wine’s name). 

With medium tannins and good acidity, you’ll find it pairs well with many foods. It has spent 18 months in oak (25 and 50 hectolitre barrels). And, “a little secret” from the vineyard is that they add in 10% Malbec from the same fields.

Mid ruby is the colour. There are intense scents of cherry and berry, plus vanilla from the oak. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity, light and bright, with delicate spice notes, a pleasing acidity and a long mellow finish. 

Many of us would not immediately associate Merlot with Italian wine (though it has some history in this area - see last para) but this is a very convincing effort and Very Highly Recommended.

Count Loredan Gasparini wasn't just a hunter. In the the 1960s, he was responsible for the “celebrity” wine Riserva Capa di Stato, first made in 1964 and still produced today. 

According to the Modern History of Italian Wine, this celebrity owed its name to the fact that it was served to heads of state visiting Venice. They loved it and international newspapers included it in shortlists of the world’s great wines. The wine, like our Falconera, came from the Montello area where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec are grown from old clones.


Luigi Righetti Campo Tordi Corvina Veneto (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €13.95 Karwig Wine

Mid ruby is the colour here. Aromas of ripe red fruit, slight spice. Fruit and spice on the palate too; it is mid-bodied, a light touch of tannins, balancing acidity of course! Very quaffable everyday wine I was thinking but it’s a bit more than that. Certainly has the second glass appeal and Highly Recommended. 

Corvina may not be one of the big names in grapes mainly because it is usually blended in its home area which is the north of Italy. It is the cornerstone of Valpolicella and Bardolino and the major contributor to the blend that gives Italy’s most famous dried grape wines, Amarone and Recioto.