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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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

Bordeaux. On the Double
St Emilion and Côtes de Bourg

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Masterclass on the Veneto Renaissance. Good Clean Wines


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pascal


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

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

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Specials. Specially Sourced!

September Specials. 
SuperValu's Specially Sourced!
Peyrepertuse Castle, about a hour from Fitou and Corbieres
Saint Auriol Minervois (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €12.99 (€10.00 from 7th to 27th September, also in three for €25.00 in their French Wine Sale) SuperValu

A few years back I got to know Garrigue near Narbonne, Madame Garrigue that is. Madame rented us her gite in a rural village and, yes, there was no shortage of the famous garrigue in the surrounding countryside. It refers to the scrublands where you can expect to see low growing bushy plants including juniper, broom, cistus and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

I was reminded of that lovely holiday when reading the label for this deep red wine, as they say there are “smoky notes of the garrigue, thyme, rosemary and cistus” in the bouquet. Indeed, the bouquet is pretty well packed with jammy fruit, a little spice and that herby mix too.

On the palate, it is concentrated, that fruit again, more  spice now; it is soft and approachable and boasts a rich finish. Great value and Highly Recommended, as is a holiday in the Languedoc! The domaine suggests pairing with grilled meats, white meat in tomato sauce and BBQ foods.

Bordeaux born and trained, Benjamin Carteyron then picked up more experience around the world, including Russia, before becoming winemaker at Les Domaines Saint Auriol. 

The Minervois appellation stretches, more or less, from Narbonne to Carcassonne. Fitou, a smaller appellation, named after the village near the Mediterranean coast, adjoins Minervois. Both sets of vignerons are very proud of their own wines so be careful what you say in the area (Cognac and Armagnac are other sensitive neighbours). 

Saint Vincent Reserve Fitou (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €12.99 (€10.00 from 7th to 27th September, also in three for €25.00 in their French Wine Sale) SuperValu

The wines of Fitou are not unlike those of Corbieres. The main grapes used here are Carignan and Grenache (must account for a minimum of 60%). The minor players are Mourvedre and Syrah and each must have at least an input of 10%. 

This is another wine by Les Domaine Auriol and another Specially Sourced by the SuperValu team. Suggested pairings are red meat, especially leg of lamb.

Ruby is the colour. Scents of ripe red fruit abound in the bouquet and those garrigue herbs are there too. The palate is quite rich and concentrated, layers of fruit flavours, spice too, smooth and elegant, tannins just about in play in a long and satisfying finalé. Think it has a slight edge on the Minervois. Very Highly Recommended. Great value too. 

*******
SuperValu wine-buyer Kevin O'Callaghan is excited about their French wine sale that begins on Thursday (7th) and continues until Wednesday (20th September) pointing out some great new additions to the range: "All hand selected, with value that will help you explore the delights that France has to offer."

The two bottles highlighted here are in the mix. And speaking of mix, there's also a mix and match offer where you can buy three bottles for €25.00. I note that there is also a Saint Auriol blanc. Might well throw one of those into my hat trick. Cheers!


#specially sourced

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Three Wines of Gérard Bertrand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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


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

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

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Winemakers Since 1803: The Wohlmuth Family Of Austria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, August 14, 2017

Rossini’s. Local and Italian Misto.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three Handsome Reds! One in a Litre Bottle.

Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild

This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.

This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.

Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.

Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines

Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.

Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau

No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.

The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Orschwihr: Hard to spell, easy to drink!

The Wines of Chateau d'Orschwihr: Hard to spell, easy to drink!

The Celtic God of Fire is associated with the warm hillside vineyard of Bollenberg in Alsace. That Celtic god was Belen or Belenus and he was also associated with pastoral life. The Mont de Belen is said to be an ancient place of sun worship and indeed it still enjoys “an exceptional amount of sunshine.”

The general timeframe of grape growth and wine production is about five or six years. The aim at d’Orschwihr is to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly viticulture which produces a raw material that in turn produces remarkable wine. This is achieved by applying certain principles and you may read about the château’s philosophy here

Chateau d’Orschwihr Riesling Bollenberg Alsace (AOC), 13%, €19.30 Karwig Wines


Colour is an appealing light gold. There are white fruit aromas, with citrus prominent. The palate is mouth-watering and flavourful, well structured with a balancing backbone of acidity, well balanced all the way through to the long rich finish. This gorgeous golden wine is Very Highly Recommended. Try with seafood and fish, not forgetting freshwater fish, pork and poultry too.

Chateau d’Orschwihr Gewürztraminer Bollenberg Alsace (AOC), 14%, €21.85 Karwig Wines.

Again, we have a lovely gold colour. Intense aromas, fruit, hint of honey. Intensity of fruit on the palate also, a terrific mouthfeel too, and a rich finish.  Some sweetness too. After all, the residual sugar count is 9.3 gr/l, about twice as much as the Riesling. But it is pretty well camouflaged by the other elements. Very Highly Recommended.

Match, they say, with spicy Asian dishes of fish and meat, especially Japanese food.
My tip, tried and tested: Try it with Citrus White Chocolate Truffles by Skelligs Chocolate.











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.