Showing posts with label Wines Direct. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wines Direct. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wines Direct Hit Double Top With French Pair

Wines Direct Hit Double Top With French Pair

Domaine des Corbillieres Sauvignon Blanc Touraine (AOC) 2015, 13%, €14.35 Wines Direct

Sometimes it pays to go back to the source. And, in this case, you don't have to pay all that much to get a prime bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, one the world’s favourite grapes and certainly one of its favourite wines.

This is a little known classic from the Loire. Well maybe not that little known. M. Robert Palmer has credited the winery with producing “some of the consistently finest, not to mention best value, Sauvignon Blanc on the planet.”


High praise indeed and well deserved for the organic winemakers. This Sauvignon Blanc has the classic aromas of gooseberry and pear, herbaceous and citrus elements on the palate and a strong minerality in the dry finish.  Light bodied and high quality. It may not have much colour but it has everything else. What a pleasant surprise. Very Highly Recommended.


Chateau de Cardaillan Graves (AOC) 2012, 14%, €23.15 Wines Direct



Cardaillan is a vineyard on the eastern edge of Graves, part of the better known Chateau de Malle (famous for its Sauternes). The blend here is fifty fifty between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and it is matured in oak for 12-18 months (depending on the vintage).

It is quite a deep red with a pronounced bouquet of ripe red fruit. The complex fruit flavours and almost velvety tannins endow this medium bodied blend with finesse and an easy drinking elegance. There is a good long finish and acidity enough for food. Wines Direct recommend T-bones but why stop at beef? Try it with lamb and venison too. Very Highly Recommended

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Prezzies, from three euro to 3.5k euro!

Christmas Prezzies
from three euro to 3.5k euro!
First aid from Wines Direct!

Wine App.
Want to know a little bit more about wine? In a hurry? Then download Grape Personalities - a guide to grape varietals and the wines they make. The APP retails for €3.99 in both iOS and Android and is available at http://grape-personalities.appstor.io

Christmas Day Survival Kit 
Wines Direct make Christmas Day easier for you with their Survival Kit. Along with two classic French whites and two classic French reds, you’ll get a bottle of sparkling wine (Cremant de Loire by Alain Marcadet) and, for afterwards, a bottle of Port (Quinta do Crasto LBV 2011). It is available online at Wines Direct and the six bottles will cost you €115.00 (over 30 euro off and free delivery).


Eight Degrees Festival Beers
You can never mention wine within 25 miles of Mitchelstown without Caroline Hennessy shouting beer! She tells me Eight Degrees have some very special ones to offer. “The Three Dukes of Burgundy is our 2016 Barrel Aged Project. From that series, The Fearless Farmhouse Ale and The Bold Imperial Stout were just released last week. In January, we will be releasing The Good Barleywine.” 

All of these limited edition beers are bottled into 750ml amber champagne-style bottles and are available either individually or in 2 x 750ml bottle gift packs (RRP €19.95). 

Fearless Farmhouse Ale is your perfect Christmas table beer. It won’t shout too loudly over the turkey, will happily hang out with ham and doesn’t balk in the face of any cranberry relish-type shenanigans.
RRP €7.95

Save The Bold Imperial Stout for the end of a meal and pair it with something sweet like Christmas pudding, a rich cranberry cheesecake or some quality vanilla ice cream. RRP €10.95

The Whiskeys of Ireland

Want to read up on your whiskey? Then get Peter Mulryan’s Whiskeys of IrelandThe very experienced Peter (the man behind the Blackwater Distillery in Waterford) knows his whiskey as well as his gin and the book charts the history and the current state of Irish whiskey. A very intertesting read indeed. The Whiskeys of Ireland is published by the O’Brien Press and is widely available. I spotted it in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork  selling for €19.95.

Teeling’s Top Drops
While you’re reading, why not sip from either The Teeling 24 or 33 Year Old Single Malt, available  initially in the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Celtic Whiskey Shop and Dublin Airport in Ireland and retailing for €300 per 70cl for the 24 Year Old and €3,500 per 70cl for the 33 Year Old. 

Too expensive? Well you can get a perfectly good bottle of Jameson for thirty euro or less! Another favourite around here at the moment is Writer’s Tears, also in Bradley’s at €45.99.

Tipperary Crystal

Have you a wine lover in your life? But don’t know which wine to buy for him or her. Why not make a present of some suitable glasses instead. Tipperary Crystal have just produced a new range for white and red wine, for bubbles, and also for whiskey and brandy. Prices are mainly twenty euro for a gift box containing a pair of the glasses. All the details here.  

The Oxford Companion to Cheese
Wine and cheese go together of course and so too do beer and cheese. You can get all the best pairings and so much more in this massive just published (December 1st) book on cheese. Lots of Irish interest too with Cashel Blue, County Cork and pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele covered in this landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike. See more here.  Published by the Oxford University Press, the impressive volume costs forty pounds sterling.


Bertha’s Revenge Gin

The producers are so happy with the complexity and smoothness of this milk based gin that they really enjoy sipping it with a “splash of water”. But they add “she works very well with a good quality tonic”. And she performs well also in a martini. Bertha, shaken with ice and a suggestion of vermouth, poured into a chilled glass with a simple zest garnish delivers “a gloriously smooth and precise cocktail experience”. Try it for yourself - stockists here - about 50 euro per bottle.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Trio of White Alternatives

A Trio of White Alternatives


Landron La Louvetrie Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AP) 2015, 12%, €15.65 Wines Direct

This fresh tasting Muscadet is a long way from the many cheap ones consumed on half-forgotten Breton holidays. It has been rasied sur lie, is organic, biodynamic (vegan friendly). The grape used by the way is not called Muscadet (as many of us holidaymakers then thought) but the local Melon de Bourgogne. It is light bodied, dry, with medium to high acidity and they recommend using it with mussels, oysters and herb omelette.

You’ll note light gold with tints of green in the glass, yeasty aromas, a tingly mouthfeel with lively citrus fruit; rather elegant - the time on lees has helped. All in all, a pleasurable renewal of acquaintance with a wine I once (maybe more than once) had more than enough of. Highly Recommended.

Great for fish and shellfish they say but why not try it my way - with trout (both tinned and fresh, not at the same time!) from the marvellous Goatsbridge Farm in Kilkenny.

La Fonte Vermentino di Terrabianca Tuscany (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €16.15 Karwig Wines



This is another fresh and fruity wine, on a par for quality with the Muscadet. Colour is a very light straw and the aromas are on the slight side. After the lightness of the aromas, the palate is a surprise and a very pleasant one at that, a smooth feel and then those fresh and concentrated fruit flavours (grapefruit, lemon), excellent acidity and a long finish as well. Reminds me of a good quality Sauvignon. Highly Recommended.

Casa Maria Verdejo, Castilla Y Leon (VDT) 2014, 12.5%, €10.45 Le Caveau

Steely pale yellow is the producer’s apt description of the colour. Aromas too are rather muted, suggestions of apple. On the palate though, it has much more going for it, fresh and dry and zesty with green fruit flavours and a good finish.



Agricola Castellana is a long standing and important coop and this Recommended wine is very approachable and food friendly. Ideal with a salad of Goatsbridge Farm trout, other fresh fish, shellfish. Try it too as an aperitif with olives. Besides, it will do well too with spicy sauces.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Celebrating international Tempranillo Day?

Celebrating international Tempranillo Day?
In Rioja, you may well hear familiar accents

If you ever find yourself in Rioja searching for Tempranillo, don't be surprised if you hear familiar accents in the bodegas. I was there a few years ago and at each of the three wineries visited in one afternoon, I was greeted by someone who had learned their English in Ireland, two in Dublin and one in Cork.
Rioja vineyards seen through the glass of Bai Gorri.
The receptionist here had learned her English in Cork. Doubcha by gorri.

Vinasperi Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2012, 13.5%, €15.15 Wines Direct

Celebrating international Tempranillo Day? Here’s a duo of bottles to help, one from Rioja Alavese and one below from Alta. Alavese is the most northerly of the three Rioja sub regions; the others are Alta (to the South West) and Baja (to the South East). 

This light bodied dry red is said to be a good example of the “modern style of Rioja”, a very pleasant one at that. It is quite a dark red and has pretty intense dark fruit aromas. And attractive fruit flavours also feature on the plum-y palate, barely a trace of tannins, just light and juicy, very approachable with a persistent finish. Highly Recommended.


Bodegas Gran Martinez Gold Selection Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2013, 13%, €17.30 Bubble Brothers (this bottle bought at Cinnamon Cottage).

This is a medium red colour with cherries and raspberries in the aromas and on the palate too where you'll also notice smoothness and power, vanilla and spice, fine tannins and a decent finish. Delicious and a touch more serious than the Vinasperi and also Highly Recommended.

The fruit comes from 40 year old vines; it spends 12 months in French and US oak and they recommend pairing it with roast lamb or beef.

Tempranillo, indigenous to Spain and used in the great Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, is planted in 500,000 acres of the world’s vineyards, making it the fourth most planted wine grape, and that would be enough to celebrate.

Until recently, this noble grape’s entire acreage was almost all grown in Spain. But things have changed. Tempranillo today is grown in many more countries including the United States, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, France, Portugal, Turkey, Canada, China, Thailand, and more.

You’ll notice a Crianza sticker on these bottles and other coloured stickers on other bottles from Rioja. Here’s the key:
The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.

The periods are mimimum.

* 2017 Australia Day Tastings will be held in London on the 24 January at a brand new venue, B1 Bloomsbury Square, in Edinburgh on 26 January at The Balmoral Hotel and in Dublin on 30 January at the RHA Gallery.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Superb Reds. Both French.

Sainte Croix Le Fournas, Corbieres (AC) 2013, 13.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

This purple beauty is a blend of organic fruit: Carignan 50%, Grenache 21%, Syrah 19%, and Mourvèdre 10%, grown near the ruins of a 19th century lime furnace in the Garrigue scrub. Wild yeast and minimal pumping (to keep the fruit quality as intact as possible) are used. Ageing is 100% sur lies in tank for 18 months.

Aromas are of rich red and darker fruits. Superb delicious fruit flavours (including cassis and plum) and impressive concentration on the palate, a fresh acidity, soft tannins and some spice all contribute and what follows is an equally impressive finish. Very Highly Recommended and a wine to try again in a few years time.

They suggest pairing it with the cuisine of the Mediterranean region using tomato-based sauces, olives or wild herbs such as thyme or rosemary. The concentration of fruit and acidity balances rich sauces and particularly ‘red’ poultry/game such as pigeon, duck or guinea fowl.


Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly (AOC) 2014, 12.5%, €21.85 Wines Direct

From the vineyards of the Golden Stones, a village in Beaujolais north of Lyon, comes this wonderful and gorgeous wine. The Côte de Brouilly is one of the ten crus of Beaujolais and, yes, Brun’s Gamay grows on the granite that the grape thrives on. Jean-Paul is in the minority of French winemakers that use natural yeasts.

Colour is an attractive light red with a bunch of red and black berries in the aromas. The palate too is ripe, with a brisk and balancing acidity, lovely and soft and elegant to the end. Wonderful and refined and light on its feet, this cru is Very Highly Recommended.


I’ve been lucky this year to have had enjoyed some lovely Beaujolais and this is another one. I have a small assortment of Riedel glasses but enjoy this and similar wines from the much less expensive Lumen Arc globes that I won in a raffle in L’Atitude 51.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Saturday is Cabernet Day. Two to enjoy!


Saturday is Cabernet Day
Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for nearly 65% of the vines planted in the Margaux appellation. “It gives wine structure, bouquet, and a potential to age.”

The related Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon, celebrate their day this coming Saturday (September 3rd).

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most famous red wine grape. It is highly adaptable, will grow in different climates and soils. So expect good quality examples from many countries, especially from France (mainly Bordeaux), USA (California), Australia (below) and Chile (Cono Sur’s Silencio is a prime example, if an expensive one). Good Cabernet Sauvignon can pop in from anywhere, including from Craggy Range in New Zealand and Ernie Els in South Africa.

It is also a very well-known variety so its name on a bottle means that the customer has a familiarity with it and that gives the marketing people an immediate edge. No wonder it  sells well in so many countries.

But you still have to be careful. It is a high-yielding vine and that means producers can go for quantity over quality! So the words Cabernet Sauvignon on the label are not a guarantee of a good bottle. The two below though are good!

Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux and is grown all around the region, invariably blended (though there is no universal formula for the mix). Regular blend partners are Merlot and Cabernet Franc and sometimes a little Petit Verdot is added.

DNA profiling (should we all get it done? Maybe not!) has confirmed Cabernet Franc is the daddy of Cabernet Sauvignon and that Sauvignon Blanc is the mammy.


Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Victoria (AUS), 13.5%, €18.25 Wines Direct

For decades now, Australian has been associated with top class Cabernet Sauvignon. Margaret River in the west has outstanding examples. Our excellent example comes from the east, from the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria, one of the nation’s premier viticultural areas. Since 2012, Tahbilk Winery has been certified Carbon Neutral.

Nothing neutral about this violet beauty though. Blackcurrants, and some spice, feature in the pleasant aromas. Some serious flavours on a well rounded palate, tannins are fine and the finish is good. A excellent example indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Lalaurie T’Wines Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah, Pays d’Oc (IGT), 2015, 13.5%, €11.75 Wines Direct

Once upon a time, according to Grapes and Wine (2015), the classic Bordeaux blend included Syrah. This blend is very popular nowadays in Australia but the one we’ve got comes from much nearer home, from the Languedoc.

Bit wary of these funny wine names, this one coming because the two leading women in the winery are twins (and one is a marketing expert!). But I needn’t have worried. This is a very engaging wine and good value to boot.

It has a bright ruby colour and the aromas are mainly of blackcurrant. It is very approachable, medium bodied, well balanced between fruit and acidity, minimum tannin presence. Not the longest but a decent finish nonetheless. Easy drinking and easy to Recommend!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sicily The Ancient Land. New Blends.

Sicily. The Ancient Land.
New Blends from Wines Direct.



Wines Direct have a bunch of new wines just in, including these two beauties from Sicily.


Sicily, with a current population of about five millions, has had an amazing history. It was at the crossroads of the known world for centuries and the home of the female monster Scylla. You wouldn't want to meet her after a volcanic eruption. And another Sicilian, we Irish would have preferred not to have crossed paths with is Schillaci, the island’s most famous footballer! Sicilian cyclist Nibali was prominent in the just finished Tour de France.


But let's talk about these two wines and in particular two of its grape varieties: Nero d’Avola and Grillo. Vibrancy and freshness is what Daniela Molaro, winemaker at Feudo Luparello, is seeking and uses these two grapes to ensure a successful outcome. Nero d’Avola is probably the best known of the two and now important in other parts of Italy as well.



Grillo is a key grape in the making of Marsala, the island's well-known, if not now overly popular, fortified wine. Grillo’s robust nature (astringent, earthy, according to Jancis Robinson) is somewhat tamed in this blend with the oily Viognier and the result is a “succulent, well balanced wine”. Feudo Luparello is on the way to being certified as organic and could well be so some time next year.

Feudo Luparello Grillo Viognier 2015, Sicily (DOP), 13%, €16.75 (reduced to €15.85) Wines Direct
The lovely pale colour of this blend catches the eye and draws you in. You won't regret giving in to this temptation. Both white fruits and floral elements, much of which is contributed by the Viognier, feature in the aromas. The very pleasing palate experience also sees those white fruits in flavourful action, but it is bone dry with good acidity and with a long finalé. This refreshing medium bodied white is Highly Recommended.

The blend is of Grillo (c. 70%) and Viognier.

Feudo Luparello Nero d’Avola Syrah 2014, Sicily (DOP), 13.5%,  €16.75 (reduced to €15.85) Wines Direct
Colour is close to purple and there are rich red fruit aromas. The palate is fresh, with fruity flavours, well balanced, tannins close to fine; medium to full bodied, this dry red has an elegant mouthfeel and quite a finish. Quite a pleasant surprise and Very Highly Recommended.

The blend is Nero d’Avola (c. 70%) and Syrah.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Introducing Schioppettino. Strange Name. Friendly Wine!

Introducing Schioppettino
Strange Name. Friendly Wine!
Never know who or what you’d meet in Cork on a showery afternoon. “Come over and meet Giorgio, an Italian winemaker,” invited Beverly from L'Atitude 51. So over I went and met Giorgio and his Schioppettino, a gorgeous red wine that he produces on his Colutta Farm in North East Italy. His vines grow in the Colli Orientali del Friuli region, close to Slovenia.

The Schioppettino grape variety is from this area and has a history there dating back to at least the 13th century. Giorgio told us the name means “little bang”, the sound the grape makes when you pop a ripe one into your mouth!

It grows well here and has to be severely thinned (green harvested) with up to fifty per cent of fruit being dropped. The surviving grapes then thrive and the wine is more concentrated. Giorgio says the wine is similar to Pinot Noir, a light style. Cabernet Franc was also mentioned.
There is fruit and pepper on the nose and then it is fresh, “not too heavy”. “It is very good in summertime… with poultry, white meat and roasted fish.” Only a small quantity is produced. It is indeed a lovely wine, worth seeking out. I loved its light and fresh qualities and, as Giorgio said, “ it's typical north eastern acidity”.

It is something different from a tradition that had almost died out. So many different grapes in Italy, “hard to save them all”. This was fermented and aged in big Slovenian oak barrels. Freshness, fruit and finish!

We had started with the Colutta Pinot Grigio and it is a good one too, loads of character, flavour and balance and a good colour too. No wonder Wines Direct claim it is the best PG available in Ireland.

Colutta are not organic but they are trying to be eco friendly - they are self sufficient with solar energy. Their first aim is good fruit and they hand pick the best of it to make a good wine. The fruit comes from two parcels which are blended. It is kept unfiltered on the lees and stirred weekly. That and the clay soil enhance its character and body. If it is filtered early, it is “thinner”.

Check the Pinot Grigio out on the Wines Direct Website here. Fionnuala Harkin, who was at the tasting, said they have been chasing the Schioppettino for some time and are delighted to have it. It is new, so not on the website yet, but will soon make a welcome appearance.

O'Brien's Wine Dinner
Florent Cazaux of J.M. Cazes is in Cork later in the month to host an evening of delicious food and wine. Guests will enjoy a four course menu paired with a selection of wines from Domaine L'ostal Cazes, Domaine des Sénéchaux and Michel Lynch. Tickets are €80 each and booking is essential.

Thursday 21st April at 7.30pm in Les Gourmandises Restaurant, Cook Street, Cork. To purchase your ticket call in to O'Briens Wine Douglas or contact Nicolas on (021) 436 9596 or email Douglas@obrienswines.ie

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Euro-toques Day Out. From Wood to Waterfall

Euro-toques Day Out
From Wood to Waterfall
Under the waterfall at Greene's: Pam, Kate, Christine.
From foggy morning to sunny afternoon, the Munster contingent of Euro-toques enjoyed their day out last Monday. That foggy morning was spent foraging mushrooms in a North Cork wood while the afternoon saw the chefs and guests tuck into a gorgeous late lunch in Greene’s by the Waterfall. Greene's head chef Bryan McCarthy put the day’s package together with a huge input from Mark and Lucy of Ballyhoura Mushrooms and sponsorship by Wines Direct and La Rousse Foods.
In the wood
It was quite an education in the woods and we all agreed you’d need more than one outing with an expert before trusting yourself in the mushroom field. Lots to take in as Mark and Lucy shared their in-depth knowledge.

“Chanterelles can't be cultivated, they are symbiotic. They grow from May to the first frost, have a sweet seafoody flavour and an apricot aroma when fresh. They have a solid stem. The false chanterelle has a hollow one. There are also autumn chanterelles, including a black one one called the Horn of Plenty, found in areas of pine, with a lovely woody flavour, our favourite!”.
In the wood (2): Caroline takes the higher ground;
Fionnula relaxes with her bag of food.
Bottom: "This one stinks!" (right)
and Gautham searching in the fog.
Note the polypores on the tree
on the left.
“Ceps are found near mature beech trees, When they are young they are snow white with a natural umami flavour, great texture and very versatile as regards use.” But maybe not as versatile as the Birch polypore which, when dried out, can be used to sharpen your kitchen knives!

Much more to be found out as the bus load of mostly amateurs spread out among the trees, watching out for branches springing back, muddy patches, cow pats, slippery slopes, briars, even barbed wire here and there. Still, despite a few minor tumbles, it turned out to be a terrific morning in the old deciduous wood and quite a few baskets were filled.
Cured organic Deenish Island Salmon
Back to the bus then and we arrived in Greene's in mid-afternoon sun be be greeted with cool glasses of La Contesse spumante.  Fionnula Harkin of Wines Direct, introduced us to Francesca of Le Contesse who told us about the family run vineyard, how the grapes are handpicked and that quality and consistency are prime considerations. Fionnula emphasised that this is the kind of vineyard that Wines Direct deals with, “family run vineyards, nothing industrial”.

Ross Lewis from Chapter One, a senior member of Euro-toques, then spoke. “Ireland has some of the best primary produce in the world. And Euro-toques is one big food family, passionately engaged with artisans. As the artisan movement gets stronger and stronger, Ireland's food will have its day in the sun.” He reported that tourists in his own restaurant are overwhelmingly positive about their experiences of Irish food.

Seared Wild Irish Venison Haunch Fillet
wine: Luc Lapeyre Les Clots (Languedoc)
And then it was time to sample some of that food. We had some beautiful nibbles by the waterfall in the sun before moving indoors to continue enjoying the produce of Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Wines Direct, Caroline Robinson Organic Vegetables, Kilbrack Farm, La Rousse Foods, Ummera, Jack McCarthy, Waterfall Farms, and Arbutus Breads. Greene’s chefs, like their Euro-toques colleagues nationwide are, as Ross Lewis said, “passionately engaged with artisans”. And this meal brilliantly underlined it!

  • If you spot your favourite chef sprouting a moustache this month and next, he’s more than likely doing it for charity, all in aid of Movember who raise awareness and funds for prostrate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s health. Don’t leave it all to the chefs!
Poached Garden Pear & Wild Foraged Blackberry
wine: Le Contesse Pinot Rose.