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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try
Local grapes feature in these three bottles, one each from Bordeaux, the Alentejo region of Portugal and Piedmont in Italy. While the Bordeaux grapes will be familiar to most of us, the local Portuguese and Italian grapes will be less so. Worth a try though!

Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Wines Direct

I love Bordeaux (and Bergerac) whites, especially when Semillon is the main grape, and this excellent dry wine, rich and full flavoured, suits me very well indeed. Sec (dry) is highlighted on the front label and it has spent 3 months ageing on lees. The blend is Sauvignon Blanc (35%), Sauvignon Gris (15) and Semillon (50).

Colour is a clear gold/straw. There are rich aromas, exotic fruit plus floral elements. From its elegant and attractive nose, to its generous mouthfeel, its excellent freshness ad acidity, to its long finish, it is pretty much faultless, Well balanced and Very Highly Recommended. Should be superb with most kinds of sea fish including lobster and salmon, freshwater fish too. 

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro ALR, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2012, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle Wines

The organic grapes for this blend grow in an wooded area planted with Pine, Oak and Chestnut. I though I got a hint of oak but maybe not as it is unoaked! Trincadeira, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante-Bouschet and Touriga Nacional are in the blend and the wine-makers say “it goes with everything”.

This versatile medium bodied wine has a ruby red colour and red fruit aromas. Baked fruit and spice on the palate, moderate tannins, and a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

* The lettering on the bottle could fool you into thinking it is AIR but no, the ALR comes from the initials of Antonio Lopes Ribeiro.


Valle Unite Ottavio Rubé Rosso 2014, Costa Vescovata, 13.5%, €14.55 Le Caveau

Costa Vescovata is a town in Piedmont and the Valle Unite is the winery. The grapes - it is a blend of Dolcetta and Croatina - are local and this organic wine is “a brilliant price/quality ratio” say Le Caveau. It is named after Ottavio Rubé, one of the founders of the co-op.


Colour is a deep ruby and there are strong, even “funky” red fruit aromas. Same strong fruit evident on the palate, a good input of spice too, also savoury flavours, quite grippy with excellent acidity. A decent finish too. A good buy and Highly Recommended. You can expect some sediment here so best to decant.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Duo of Superb Italian Whites from Liberty

A Duo of Superb Italian Whites from Liberty


Cà dei Frati I Frati Lugana (DOC) 2016, 13%, €23.99 Liberty Wines




This winemaker comes highly recommended. “Cà dei Frati of Sirmione in Lombardy is widely regarded as the top Lugana producer,” says Vino Italiano.

Managed since 1939 by the Dal Cero family, The Modern History of Italian Wine notes that the I Frati is simpler than their well-known Brolettino “but no less reliable. It offers guaranteed value year after year and is perfect for approaching this type of wine.” The Brolettino, by the way, is also available from Liberty.

But what exactly is this type of wine in its thick-lipped bottle? I wondered too, especially when I saw that the grape is Turbiana, one hundred per cent. After a fair bit of digging, I find that Turbiana is the local name for Verdicchio. 

Sirmione is just to the south of Lake Garda. Cool nights, thanks to the moderating influence of the lake, ensures the grapes retain nice aromas and acidity. The wine is unoaked and has spent six months on its lees.

Light straw is the colour. There are fairly intense aromas, a mix of white fruit and blossom. Fresh flavours, of peach and mainly citrus, follow; there is a lively acidity and it is rich and crisp plus an excellent finish. It does indeed live up to the build-up and is Very Highly Recommended.



Franz Haas Pinot Grigio 2016 Alto Adige DOC), 13.5%, €22.99 Liberty Wines

Franz Haas is a consultant and scholar and also a founding member of the Comitato Grandi Cru d’Italia, whose objective is “to protect and augment the prestige of wine producers that have been making wines with the highest ratings for at least twenty years”. He is also, according to Vino Italiano, “one of the biggest and most respected brand names in the Alto Adige… Good wines across the board.”

Pinot Grigio is considered a simple wine but if harvested and vinified with care, shows enjoyable notes of acidity and intense perfume. Our bottle is quite impressive; “four months on its yeast to build body, depth and structure” has certainly helped.

The rise, and rise, of PG is relatively recent. In 2000, it didn't figure in the top 20 most planted grapes in Italy (ISMEA, Rome, 2000, via Vino Italiano). By 2010, it had risen to number nine ((ISTAT, 6th General Census of Agriculture (2010)), its 17,281 hectares representing an increase of over 60%.

This Franz Haas has a pale straw yellow colour. There are pretty intense floral aromas, herbal notes too. The intensity continues on the palate, pleasant and elegant. This Pinot Grigio is a gem, far from simple; it has excellent acidity and Very Highly Recommended.


Pair with pasta, vegetable dishes, grilled white meat without sauces and great with a summer salad from the garden. You might tell your twenty-something daughters that it doesn't mix well with 7Up!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A City by the Sea. Exhibition at St Peter’s





A City by the Sea. 
Exhibition at St Peter’s



Is this the oldest outdoor advert in Cork?
 The Cork Harbour Festival Week has come and gone, and a very enjoyable week it was, but the exhibition A City by the Sea at St Peter’s in North Main Street goes on and is well worth a visit.


A large number of info panels illustrate, mainly in words, the city’s relationship with the sea, the good things and the bad things, tourists and invaders. And food and drink of course, flowing in and flowing out, and that was the thread that I noted on my read-about.

And the first thing I see is Bertha’s Revenge! The exhibition, curated by Turtle Bunberry, had many helpers and there, in among the librarians and historians, I spotted the name Justin Green (of Bertha’s). Well done to all.

And then I spotted another name, my family name. Apparently, in the 4th century, the Uí Liatháin ruled the region and had colonies in South Wales, also Devon and Cornwall. Must go and see my cousins sometime!
Brian Boru Bridge. Although no longer opening, the bridge is an important reminder of the history of the river and quays.
Did you know that in 1273, Richard Wine was the Mayor of Cork. Indeed, in the following centuries, many Cork mayors were closely connected to the French and Portuguese wine trade.

The Flight of the Wild Geese begins in 1691 when 14,000 Jacobite soldiers, along with 6.000 women and children, set sail from Cork for Europe. The mainly Catholic exiles, many of them merchant families, included the Galwey family who became prominent wine merchants in the Loire.
Fitzgerald's Park, site of the 1902/3 exhibition
Among those who fled in Penal Times were the O’Murphy draper family. Their daughter Marie Louise, also known as La Petite Murfi, became mistress of Louis XV. Legend holds that her fortune helped the Murphy family establish their brewery a century later! A revealing portrait of Marie Louise now hangs in the Alta Pinakothek in Munich, a city well known for its beer.
Cruise liner at Cobh
 In 1756, France and Britain were at each other’s throats in the Seven Years War and “the Great Ox-slaying city of Cork” emerged as the Royal Navy’s preferred supplier for beef, pork and butter.


Less than a hundred years later, that beef boom was long forgotten as famine struck. In 1847, the USS Jamestown warship arrives in the harbour with 800 tons of food and clothing. The commander is shown around the stricken streets of the city by Fr Matthew.
The Firkin Crane, a  reminder when Cork led the world in butter.
In 1859, Sir John Arnott, originally from Fife in Scotland, is elected mayor for the first of three times. He is a well known and successful businessman. He was involved in shipping in Cork and Passage, founded the Cork racecourse (later Henry Ford built on the site), the Arnott shop and a brewery (St Finnbarr’s).

By 1861, the Cork Butter Exchange becomes the largest butter exchange in the world. Exports peak in the 1870s.
 By 1880, the spectre of famine rears its head again. It is a borderline case but enough to see more help from the USA. Five hundred tons of provisions and clothing arrive on the sloop of war Constellation and the distribution of supplies is supervised by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Outward bound; passing Cobh
 In 1902, the Cork International Exhibition took place in the Mardyke. Harutun Batmazian, an Armenian exile, is an exhibitor and his Hadji Bey’s Turkish Delight is such a treat that he stays and opens a shop in the city, a shop that lasts for decades. Though it is no longer made in Cork, you can still get the treat (produced now in Kildare). We'll finish on that sweet note.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. A Short List Of Favourites!



Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. 
A Short List Of Favourites!

With a little help from the recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine, we have been tasting our way through quite a few wines from the peninsula and its islands. Such a range of terroirs, such a range of wines from the cool foothills of the Alps to the heat of Puglia out to the hot islands with their cooling breezes. You won't find the very expensive classics here but I think the selection below contains some excellent wines at reasonable prices. And they all are readily available in Ireland. Just click on the links for review, supplier and price details and don't forget to come back here. Enjoy.


Red
Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015
Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012
La Vigne di Sammarco Salice Salentino (DOP) 2014
La Vigne di Sammarco Primitivo di Manduria (DOP) 2015
Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012
Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG)
Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013
Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009

Orange
La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011


White
Pighin Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli (DOC) 2015
Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013
Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%
Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015
Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015
Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015
Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012

Dessert
Masi Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (DOC) 2012

Context: The Modern History of Italian Wine

 See the posts from the Italian series:

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Italian Wines from the Alps. From the west to the east

Italian Wines from the Alps
From the west to the east
Dolomites

Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012, 13%, €31.25 Le Caveau

Petite Arvine, better known over the mountains in Switzerland (in the Valais), is “an indigenous variety” in the Valle D’Aosta, with “soaring aromatics and rich sweet fruit” according to Robert Parker, Wine Advocate. 

Proprietor Constantino Charrère is the driving force in the region, “seeking out native grape varieties” for the wonderful wines of Les Crêtes, according to Le Caveau.

His work in this mountain area is the subject of an appreciation piece in The Modern History of Italian Wines and they list him as an influential figure right from the 1990s when Les Crêtes was founded.

As you may guess from the languages in the wine description, Valle D’Aosta grows a mix of of Italian, French and Swiss varieties. Surprisingly, the wine that brought Les Crêtes to international notice was their Cuvée Bois, a Chardonnay!

While wine has been produced here from at least Roman times, not much ever got out of Italy and Val D’Aosta has been designated “the forgotten corner” in Vino Italiano.

From the vineyard, one can see the high peaks of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and Gran Paradiso. Well known ski resorts, including Courmayeur and Cervinia, dot the landscape. Here, in the valley, Petite Arvine makes “a light, flinty wine with hints of grapefruit and mandarin orange”.

Colour is a rather rich straw. The aromas are an intense melange of white fruit, honey and floral elements. It is very pleasing on the palate, rich white fruit flavours, citrus too, and a long drying, almost flinty finish. A gem from the ancient valley and Very Highly Recommended.

Weingut Niklas Südtiroler Lagrein (DOP) 2012, 13%, €19.75 Le Caveau

Grapes and Wine describes the Lagrein grape as an interesting mouth-filling variety and it is grown here in the north-east of Italy and over the border in Austria in the Tyrol. If you’re on a tourist coach crossing from Austria to Italy, the guide will take some pleasure in pointing out how neat and tidy the Austrian part of the Tyrol is by comparison with the Italian bit.

That bit, also known as the Alto Adige, became Italian in 1918 as part of the settlement after World War 1 and, as you can see by the wine bottle, it is still a mix of cultures and languages. 

It is entirely located within the Alps and the craggy peaks of the Dolomites dominate in the east. Nowadays, thanks to the efforts north and south of the border, with no little help from the EU, this area is very prosperous.

This particular wine from Niklas Erhof is 100% Lagrein and has spent 10 months ageing in big oak barrels. It is perfect with game, beef and similar. We had it with new season lamb from Eoin O’Mahony butchers in the English Market and it was perfect.


It has a deep dark colour and you’ll more than likely note cherry and plum in the aromas. Dark fruit too on the velvety palate, a hint of spice also, not very tannic at all and indeed it is a surprisingly easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.


See also (from current Italian series):

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Calm, comfortable and courteous place. Carrig House Stay

Calm, Comfortable and Courteous Place

Carrig House Stay

It is breakfast time. Outside, there are blue skies and the lake water is blue as well. Caragh Lake is a big and beautiful body of water and I’m staying in Carrig House on the shore. Carrig, by the way, serves one of the best breakfasts in Ireland, so all in all it is rather a perfect morning. And would still be a very good one even if, as sometimes happens, the sun doesn't shine!


With breakfast behind us, we are well placed to take in the local sights of this part of south west Kerry, known as the Iveragh Peninsula. It is the largest peninsula in southwestern Ireland. The Macgillycuddy's Reeks, with Carrauntuohill the highest point, lies in the centre of the peninsula. And not too far away is Killorglin, Cahersiveen, Valentia Island, the Skelligs, the Skellig Ring, Ballinskelligs, Waterville and many other places worth a visit.
Good morning. What would you like for breakfast?
We were here for three nights. Carrig, with its 17 guest rooms, doesn't come cheap but a gift of a Blue Book Voucher eases the hit on the wallet as does everything else here: the comfort, the welcome, the gardens, the courtesy, the chat, the private pier onto the lake, and the food.


Fish of course is a regular on the menu and we concentrated on it for one of our dinners. Roasted West Coast Cod Fillet topped with fresh Dingle Bay crab and prawns, fresh tagliatelle, morel mushroom velouté was my choice and it was delicious all the way. Our other mains was the Steamed Atlantic Stone-bass with asparagus three ways (seared, marinated, and crumb-coated), vinaigrette on a Cooleeny crème swish, balsamic pearls.


After a lovely amuse bouche by the fire in one of the drawing rooms, we had each started with Warm Spice Infused Quail, Beluga lentil Mung Bean jus and pickled onions. Not the easiest meat to pick off the small bones but it came with a big flavour, enhanced no end by the lentils and the onions. 

My dessert was another Carrig House gem, Rich Vanilla Crème Brûlée, cherry and hazelnut financier, and fruit tuile while CL indulged in the Passionfruit Marshmallow with roasted pineapple chiboust, pineapple parcels, and liquorice caramel.
Not always blue here.
The rooms are superb here, spacious and ultra comfortable. Ours had a view of the gardens but you can also get some with lake views. Wi-Fi is pretty good but the network service for mobiles is not. 

And don’t be put off if you see a brown tint in the water - the reservoir is in bogland - and the water is perfectly safe for washing yourself. And they do provide bottled water in the rooms. The bathroom, at least in our case, was spacious and well equipped with toiletries and towels (best bring your own face cloths, a general rule) and you do have a full sized bath as well as the shower.

The decor is beautiful all through the house. Newspapers are in good supply too if you want to sit by the fire and take it easy until that shower passes. Then again, if the sun is out, you’ll find it hard to resist taking a stroll around the colourful gardens, maybe an amble down to the lake.

Amuse Bouche in the cosy drawing room
Then, when you (don’t mind those fishermen who headed off early) are good and ready, you can head out for the day. The coast? The mountains? The choice is yours. And remember you'll have a stunning dinner to come back to!


Carrig House was built originally about 1850 as a hunting lodge. Frank and Mary Slattery, the current owners, purchased Carrig in 1996. They are the first Irish owners since it was originally built and have renovated  and meticulously restored the Victorian residence to its former glory. The atmosphere, they say, is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. It certainly is!
Cod

See also: Visiting Valentia Island

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Velenosi of the Marche

When Angela Piotti Velenosi and her husband founded their winery in 1984, cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned in her local area of the Marches and Piceno. They started with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

Velenosi Villa Angela Passerina, Marche (IGT) 2013, 12.5%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
Passerina, according to Wikipedia, is both a rare local white grape that is found in the Marche and a DOC for wines of the same name. It has large berries, high yields and a long ripening period. It makes appealing wines with clear, focused fruit.

Not a bad summation at all of this Highly Recommended wine. It has a rather rich straw colour. And there’s a mix of fruity and floral notes in the intense aromas. The palate is soft and fresh. Acidity is excellent and the finish is persistent.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Gold Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2012, 13.5%, €20.95 Karwig Wines

This is a blend of Montepulciano (mainly, c. 70%) and Sangiovese, It has been matured for c.24 months in new barrels.  Brecciarolo refers to broken stones, typical of soil in the area.

The colour is violet and the aromas (mainly of red fruit, especially cherries) are pretty intense. No shortage of strong flavours, spice is pretty prominent too, a refreshing acidity and it finishes well too. Warm, soft and harmonious, well balanced. Highly Recommended.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2014, 13.5%, €16.50 Karwig Wines

Just like the Gold, this is a blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese. After fermentation, the wine “is channelled into second-fill barriques where wines for the production of Roggio and Ludi had been kept the previous year.

Colour is ruby with tints of garnet. There are rather intense red fruit aromas and a little vanilla there too. Warm and juicy on the palate, the red fruit flavours are well delivered, some spice too. One of those mouth-friendly wines, easy drinking, easy to like and Highly Recommended.

* By the way, Velenosi produce quite a range, including a delicious sweet wine. It is a favourite in this house and you may check it out here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular grapes

Pinot Gris, more widely known by its Italian name Pinot Grigio, is one of the most popular grapes around.
Giorgio (right) in Cork last year.
Quite often it doesn't have much flavour and is easy to drink and these wines are sometimes described as inoffensive, a kind of damning with faint praise. It's as if someone said your wife or husband is "an inoffensive little person, you'd hardly know he/she was there". Luckily, the two below have lots of character, character that you'll appreciate as you get to know them. You'll soon know you have a real wine in your glass. And nothing offensive about it at all.

* In a 2015 article in the Irish Times, their wine expert John Wilson said Pinot was the Genghis Khan of wine and went on to write about Pinot Grigio (one of its many offspring). Read the full article here.

Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015, 12.5%, €17.50 Wines Direct.

Colutta may well be a small operator but is present in Ireland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa and, of course, United States and Italy. Giorgio Colutta took over the family vineyard in 1998 and The History of Modern Italian Wine credits him with being one of the influencers of the first decade of this century.

He is not organic; his emphasis, he told a group of us in Cork last year, is on being environmentally sustainable, it is easier to be organic in the south, he said. He uses mechanical control instead of herbicides, recycles rainwater and is self-sufficient with regard to energy consumption.

Modern Italian wine says “he used Pinot Grigio as his passe-partout to introduce the indigenous varieties”. These varieties include his amazing Schioppettino, which he showed in Cork.

Colour of the Pinot Grigio is straw yellow and there are fruit and floral elements in the bouquet. It is smooth and rich and full of flavour. Much more intense than your usual PG and no wonder Wines Direct regard it as “the best Pinot Grigio in Ireland”. A long finish adds to the pleasure. Very Highly Recommended.

The website tells us that the wine is left on lees until February to develop a better flavour and bouquet. It is not oaked and best served between 10 to 12 degrees.

Zenato Pinot Grigio della Venezia (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence

Zenato, well known for their reds, are on the fringes of Lake Garda and current wine-maker Alfredo Zenato heads the family’s drive to “produce affordable wines of exceptional quality”. And this is indeed an excellent expression of the grape, with more personality than most and a refreshing finish.

The colour is pale gold with green tints. A pleasant melange of citrus and peach in the aromas continues in the impressive palate, smooth and elegant right through to a persistent and grippy finish. A perfect wine for moules frites in the months ahead on the patio (finger crossed!). Highly Recommended.

Lovely as an aperitif and should go well with most of the lighter Italian and Italian style dishes. We tried it (didn't have that many options at the time) with salmon, risotto and pak choi and it worked very well.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

I think we’ve all been confused at one time or another by Montepulciano on an Italian wine bottle. It is the name of a grape and of a town in Italy. According to Wine-Searcher.com the grape was named after the town and was once widely grown there.

Nowadays, the grape has found another home in Abruzzo, hence Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy (Wikipedia). 

Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast. The local wine industry, according to Vino Italiano, is dominated by giant cooperatives of which Cantina Tollo (below) is one example.

Now let us return to the city of Montepulciano. This is in Tuscany, in the province of Sienna, and is one of the most attractive hill towns in the area.

The main grape grown here is Sangiovese (blood of Jove or blood of St Giovani or maybe something else entirely!). Only the very best grapes are used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The others are used for Rosso di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile has the big reputation but the simpler Rosso is no mean wine either as our example indicates.

Other grapes grown here, according to Vino Italiano, are Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache). No mention of the Montepulciano on that list, so you are highly unlikely to see a Montepulciano di Montepulciano. Let me know if you do!

Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015, 13%, €14.45 Le Caveau


This organic wine has quite a few admirers and I'm among them. Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, the importers: “The Bio wines are a great find. The wines are literally singing in the glass with their exuberant fruit and juicy flavours”. The winery itself says they are bursting with primary red fruit.

The fruit is hand-harvested and the wine is neither “fined nor filtered”. Colour is an attractive ruby. Aromas are mainly of red berried fruits. It is fruity and juicy and easy drinking. Lots of lovely fruit flavours, nothing extreme, mild tannins, well balanced and with good acidity. Class finish too, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended.

Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012, 14%, €17.45 Le Caveau

The Innocenti estate lies between Montefollonico, a walled city in Tuscany, and Montepulciano, just a short drive between them. This is a blend of Sangiovese (mainly), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo and has spent six months in oak.


Colour is bright, and light, ruby. Generous aromas of stewed plums and a touch of heavier gamey notes. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, really well balanced. Fine tannins noticeable on a long and dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.