Showing posts with label shiraz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shiraz. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Red Trio from SuperValu. Delicious Whites too.

Top Red Trio from SuperValu
The annual SuperValu Christmas showcase gets underway tomorrow, 24th of November, and here are three reds (from many) to watch out for. My top three consist of an Italian style Shiraz from Australia, a lovely food-friendly Sangiovese from Tuscany and a delicious Rioja to try with the red meats, leg of lamb in particular. Cheers!

Nugan Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012 (Australia), 14.5%, €19.99 (15.00 from 24/11) SuperValu

The dried grape technique is borrowed from Italy. It is used mainly to increase concentration. Five days then in contact with the skins before going on to spend 12 months in French and US oak. It comes in a noticeably heavy bottle!

Darkly coloured (garnet), it is lighter towards the rim.  It has very inviting fruit aromas, cherry and plum. And the velvety palate is certainly concentrated, complex deep flavours (that cherry again), some spice too; quite intense; excellent acidity too and it has a long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Castellani Arbos Sangiovese (IGT Tuscany) 2013, 13.5%, €12.99 (10.00 from 24th Nov) SuperValu
Vanilla is prominent in the aromas of this Highly Recommended medium red; darker fruits there too. On the palate, it is smooth and fruity (cherries and plums), drifts of spice too, plus that quintessential acidity (almost an ever-present in Italian wines), and fine sweet tannins make it a pleasure in the mouth and the dry finish ain't bad either. Great value.

The producers aim has been to use the best Sangiovese grapes “to produce a Tuscan red dominated by fruity and spice notes, typical of the grape”. This worthy effort may be enjoyed with red meats and pasta dishes.

Pagos de Labarca AEX Rioja (DOC) 2011, 14.5%, €22.99 (18.00 from 24th Nov) SuperValu
Vanilla for sure in the complex nose but fruit shines through as well in this dark cherry red. That excellent balance is also noted on the smooth palate, tannins close to fine, plus some spice too, fruit and wood are well integrated and then follows a long and juicy finish with the dark fruit and vanilla still in harmony. Highly Recommended.

Bodega Covila, a co-op in Alavesa, regard this, rightly I think, as a Premium wine. It is a limited edition, just 6,400 bottles. It has excellent acidity and should be a good match for roast leg of lamb (no mint sauce though!), a match to repel the December chill and reinforce the Christmas cheer.

All Right With SuperValu Whites

Coopers Creek Dillons Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough (New Zealand), 12.5%, €14.99 (12.00 from 3.11) SuperValu
Best enjoyed young and fresh, say Coopers. So let's get at this Dillons, part of their Select Vineyards series.  It is light gold in colour with white fruit aromas (gooseberry, lime and peach in the mix). A power of flavour on the intense palate, balanced by a delicious acidity. Young and fresh it comes with a reverberating finish. Not to be left on the shelf. Highly Recommended.

Abellio Albarino 2015 Rias Baixas (DO), 12.5%, €13.99 (10.00 from 24/11) Supervalu

Liked the colour of this immediately, an inviting medium gold. It is hand-harvested and ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. The medium intense aromas are of white fruit. It has a smooth character on the palate, intense fruit (pear, apple and peach) with refreshing minerality. It is zesty and well balanced and Highly Recommended.

Domaine Les Guignottes, Les Resses Montagny 1er Cru 2014, 13%, €24.99 (€20.00 from 24/11) SuperValu




Not too much to say about this - just go out and buy and enjoy! This classic Chardonnay has beautiful intense white fruit aromas, peach the most prominent. Colour is a bright gold and there are amazing fruit and nut flavours, some spice too. The acidity too is outstanding. Fresh, with  a gorgeous mouthfeel and a long finish. Very Highly Recommended. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Down Under with O’Brien’s. Advice: Watch those sales!

Down Under with O’Brien’s
Advice: Watch those sales!

I always try and keep an eye out for the regular sales at O’Brien’s Wines. Some are quite short-lived. That was the case with their Australian & New Zealand one. But I did make that and bought these two, the Penfolds at 16.76, the D’Arenberg at 15.96. A decent saving and very decent wines indeed. I should follow my own advice more often!

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet 2014, South Australia, 14.5%, €20.95 O’Briens

The name Seventy Six is a tribute to the “original and now legendary 1976” Shiraz Cabernet. This multi-regional blend is Shiraz (c.80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon and is regularly billed as a “retro” wine.

It is a deep red to purple with a lighter rim and the legs are slow to clear (you know why!). There are intense dark fruit aromas and pretty intense on the palate too. Dark fruits, some spice (it has spent 15 months in a mix of old and new (15%) oak, silky tannins and impressive length. Highly Recommended.

Penfolds are master blenders, “able to craft wines of distinction without ever compromising on quality”. Andrew Baldwin is one of their winemakers and, last November, I met him here in Cork and asked for a few tips on starting to explore Penfolds.

Without hesitation, he recommended this very wine because of “its drinkability, lots of fruit”. By the way, he also told me that the Koonunga Hill Chardonnay is “really approachable”. So there’s another tip for you!

D’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2012, McLaren Vale (Australia), 14.6%, €19.45 O’Brien’s Wine

Tasted this early in the year at the Australia Day tasting in Dublin, so I knew I was on to a little beauty.

It is one hundred per cent Shiraz, harvested in small batches, gently crushed and then transferred to open fermenters. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. The wine is basket pressed and then aged in a mixture of new and used French and American oak for 12-18 months.

The Footbolt names comes not from the treading but from a favourite racehorse of the Osbourne family. In 1912, Joseph Osbourne made the hard decision to sell his horses to buy d’Arenberg.

Colour is a clean and bright purple. No need to nose the glass here as the aromas - attractive dark berries and plums mainly - come up to meet you. Terrific fruit too on the palate with great balance, tannins are fine, lovely sophie too and a lingering dry finish. Ootbolt is a favourite here and Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

O’Brien’s July Sale. Three to Consider

O’Brien’s July Sale
Three to Consider


The monthly sales at O’Brien’s are always worth a look. I’m afraid I was a little late getting to Douglas this time. But the bottles I wanted were still there and here are three of them, from a great selection of close to one hundred! Check them out here.

Tons de Duorum, Douro (DOC) 2014, 13.5%, €15.45 (11.95 in July sale) O’Brien’s

The name is inspired by the bright colours that result from the reflections of the sun on the Douro creating different tones in the vineyard. Local grapes Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz are used; they are hand-harvested and the wine goes on to spend six months in oak.

Intense dark and red fruit aromas greet you from this ruby to violet coloured wine and the legs are slow enough to clear. No shortage of ripe fruit flavours on the elegant palate, refreshing with a little spice there too, fine tannins and a lovely soft finish. Another good value wine from the Douro and Highly Recommended.
Brocard La Boissoneuse, Chablis (AOC) 2013, 12.5%, €24.95 (22.95 in July sale) O’Brien’s

You really don't have to wait to get this light gold wine into your glass to appreciate the gorgeous aromas. The white fruits and some floral hints emerge from the bottle the minute you extract the cork.

The cork has a wax coating. A bit of a nuisance I thought - until I looked up this You Tube demo. Suitably instructed, I warmed the top of the wax with the palm of my hand and then extracted the cork as normal, the wax top breaking off cleanly as the cork emerged.

There is true harmony on the palate, those white fruit flavours (apple, citrus) and a charge of bracing minerality giving a superbly clean combination and a long and very satisfying finish.

The winery has respect for its ancient soils and notes the cycles of the sun and the moon, all with the aim of bringing the Chardonnay grapes to “perfect harmony”. Their organic principles have been rewarded with this Very Highly Recommended Wine. Two euros off may not be a great draw. Definitely you’ll get bigger bargains in the sale but few better wines than this. O’Brien’s themselves say it “leaves some of the best Premier Crus in its wake... a revelation”. "Not your typical Chablis," says Nicolas, the Douglas manager. But a very good one.
Bethany Creek Shiraz, Barossa 2011, 13.5%, €19.95 (€12.95 in July sale) O’Brien’s

The grapes for this excellent wine come, as is not uncommon in Australia, from their own and a number of neighbouring vineyards. Vintage commenced on 4 March at Bethany Wines, later than usual and a full month later than in 2010; the cooler temperatures resulting in slow, even ripening of the fruit and good flavour development. So, no harm done! On the contrary.

Colour is purple and there are fruity aromas, some spice too. Those red cherry characters follow through to the palate, fruity and spicy with fine tannins, a soft mouthfeel, an elegant wine that has “gained from two years careful oak maturation”. This approachable well-balanced wine is Highly Recommended. So get in quick as stocks, at this bargain price, may not last until the end of the month!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Raise Your Hat to Syrah! Praise Too The Shiraz.

Raise Your Hat to Syrah!
Praise Too The Shiraz.


Syrah is one the best known grapes in the world. The origins of this dark-skinned red have been widely debated but, according to Wine-Searcher.com, its modern viticultural home is unquestionably the northern Rhone Valley of eastern France. In Australia, Syrah is overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) known as Shiraz, and is regarded as the country's national grape.


There is a wee chapel dedicated to St Christopher on the top of Hermitage in the Rhone. But was it St Patrick who started Syrah’s rise to world fame? In Grapes and Wine (published 2015), the story that the Irish saint planted the first wines on the famous cnoc as he made his way to the island monastery of Lérins is raised.

Another famous visitor to the area was Alexandre Dumas. “In 1834, Alexandre Dumas travelled to the South of France along with his friend Jadin, arriving one evening at Tain-l’Hermitage. ‘On entering the hotel, I took Jadin over to the window and invited him to raise his hat to the hill that towered over the town. This Jadin did, and when I told him that these were the slopes of the Hermitage, he took it upon himself to raise his hat a second time.’ “  The above quote is from About Our Wines (a Cotes du Rhone booklet).



Wayne Thomas Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale), 14.5%, €26.80 Karwig Wines


Twelve years old but still displaying a great depth of colour, dark with only a slight lightening at the rim; legs slow to slide down. Aromas of berries and spice. Superb rich fruit and spice on the palate too, oak is well integrated and a long finish. Robust and balanced or, as his son said, Big and ballsy! This is more or less perfect and Very Highly Recommended.


Get on down to Karwig’s, or just go online, while they still have some of it. Sadly, Wayne Thomas died in 2007 and though his son is a winemaker he operates not in the McLaren but in the Hunter Valley.


Wayne “Thommo” Thomas was quite a character and you may read a tribute to him here.

 
Clairmont Classique rouge Crozes-Hermitage 2008, 13%, €22.50 Karwig Wines
This one hundred per cent Syrah (from vines over 30 years old) has a purple colour, slightly less so towards the rim; legs slow to clear. Red fruits are prominent in the aromas. Again, good fruit, some spice too on the palate, smooth with fine tannins, excellent balance and long finalé. Somewhat more restrained than the Thomas and also Very Highly Recommended.

The producers indicate that this red Crozes-Hermitage will pair well with grilled lamb, cold meat or roast turkey. Aged, it will be a great match to any kind of stew.                                        

Much larger than the prestigious Hermitage appellation which it surrounds, Crozes-Hermitage is also much more prolific.

  
Morambro Creek Shiraz 2008 (Padthaway, Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines


The Bryson family “employ sustainable environmentally friendly viticulture” and “meticulous traditional winemaking”. It all adds up to gems like this!


It is purple in colour, a little less so at the rim, legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits and more in the aromas, blackcurrant for sure. Expansive on the palate, full of fruit and spice, yet great harmony there too, soft and balanced with a hint of sweetness, the wood is well integrated and you have a long and pleasant finish. Another excellent Shiraz and Very Highly Recommended.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Que Syrah, Shiraz. Southern Style.

Que Syrah, Shiraz
Southern Style

Bilancia Syrah 2004 (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand), 13.5%, €25.18 (was 31.50) Karwig Wines.
Before we even get to the contents, there are two things to note here. The grape is called Syrah and the closure is screw-cap. Don't think I’ve ever twisted a cap off a wine as old. In France, the grape is called Syrah. Elsewhere this ever popular grape is known as Shiraz unless the winemaker, as here, is aiming for the more restrained French style.

A small amount of Viognier (c. 2%) has been used here. The term for this, according to Grapes and Wines, is co-fermentation and says it “gives not just perfume but some extra silkiness of texture”. Syrah itself is, of course, a great blender, most famously in the Rhone where it mixes so well with Grenache and Mourvèdre (shorthand: GSM).

This Bilancia (balance) has a purple colour, aromas of ripe fruit, a little pepper. There is a gorgeous elegant mouthfeel, flavours (mainly plum) and spice; lives up to its name with perfect balance and harmony, good finish too. Highly Recommended. 

The Leheny Gibson mentioned on the front label refers to two people, winemakers Lorraine Leheny and Warren Gibson who first released their wines in 1998.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2012 (Padthaway, Australia), 14.5%, €16.75 Karwig Wines

This juicy vibrant wine is Shiraz rather than Syrah. Purple is the colour and there in the aromas you'll find ripe red fruits and some spice too. Juicy and vibrant on the palate, fine tannins, oak well integrated, well balanced and easy drinking. Excellent on its own, great too, they suggest, “with food and friends”. Highly Recommended.

Jip Jip Rocks is one of three Bryson family vineyards in the area; the others are Morambro Creek and Mt Monster, who also produce Shiraz. By the way, Jip Jip is well known too for its sparkling shiraz. Quite a few Australian vineyards produce a sparkling shiraz.

David Bryson told me in Cork a few years back that this still Shiraz is their main seller. It is a 100% Shiraz, 100% Padthaway wine with “a lot of vineyard character..a bottle of serious fun…,approachable”.

The Jip Jip rocks have existed for 350 million years and the striking outcrop is sacred to Aboriginal beliefs.


Pielow’s Shiraz 2012, (Tulbagh, Western Cape, South Africa), 14.5%, €17.95 Karwig Wines

Colour is a deep purple, dark fruit aromas plus oak. Quite a lively palate of dark berry fruit flavours, and vanilla; tannins well rounded. No shortage of power here yet it is well balanced with a decent finish. Juicy steaks, barbecued meats and spare ribs are suggested as matches. This is very much a New World Shiraz and is Recommended!

Colin and Teresa Pielow, formerly chef proprietors of two Irish restaurants (including one in Cobh), came to to South Africa a few years back and settled in the beautiful Tulbagh valley in the Cape Winelands. The property where they established and planted their own vineyard has produced this Pielow's Shiraz which is still in their ownership. They have returned to Ireland and opened Pielows Restaurant in Cabinteely where, of course, you may enjoy this fruit-driven Shiraz!

Pielow’s wines are available from:
Pielow's Restaurant, 2 Main Street, Cabinteely, Dublin 18, Ireland
Tel: 01 284 0914 Email: pielows@eircom.net
Karwig Wines, Carrigaline, Co.Cork.
Tel: 021 437 4159 Email: info@karwigwines.ie
Mitchell & Son, Glasthule, 54 Glasthule Road, Glasthule Co. Dublin
Tel: 01 230 2301 Email: glasthule@mitchellandson.com
Avoca Food Market, (stocked by Mitchell & Son), Kilmacanogue. Co. Wicklow
Tel: 01 274 6900 Web: avoca.com

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Australia displays many faces of Shiraz


Australia displays many faces of Shiraz

 WineAustralia’s John McDonnell showed over a dozen quality wines in Fallon and Byrne last Friday. The aim of the tasting was to demonstrate that Australian Shiraz can exhibit both power and elegance and that the country can produce much more than just the big homogenous style.

With sixty four of Australia’s wine regions producing Shiraz, it would be most unlikely that they’d all come up with the same big, rich and powerful style. But that perception is out there. Two hours in Fallon and Byrne did much to dispel that myth. No lack of variety in this line-up.

 There may have been some gentle disagreement between those present, mainly restaurateurs and writers, about the comparative merits of the individual wines but, overall, the occasion was well worthwhile. Joining John at the top table were Clare Valley producer Tim Adams  and wine writer Kevin Ecock

Kevin, Tim and John
 2008 Ferngrove Shiraz, Frankland River. This first Shiraz was the only one from Western Australia and Kevin Ecock praised it as “an extremely good wine”. Tim said it reflected the “coolness of the district, angular, lean, with age potential.” Already we were talking about different types!

2009 Innocent Bystander Syrah, Yarra Valley. The difference here, at least the one that caused some conversation, was the fact that 2% Viognier was added to this Syrah (the only label that didn’t use Shiraz!). I don’t think the room was overly bothered about whether the minimum Viognier input was noted or not on the label.

2010 Tyrrells Rufus Stone Shiraz, Heathcote. I liked this best of the opening flight. It had nice fruit and spice, an excellent mouthfeel and the best finish. Tim classed it as medium bodied with “nice bright fruit flavours”.
2010 Wakefield Estate Shiraz. This widely available Clare Valley wine from the Taylor family (who believe that great wines are made in the vineyard!) was smooth and fruity, with supple tannins and spice hints in a medium body.

2009 Tim Adams Shiraz, Clare Valley. Tim didn’t use this to fly his own flag but did enlighten us on how water costs and weather variations are mega factors in the area and that winemakers have learned to grown more sustainable crops with better quality but at a higher cost.

This one certainly had quality and the price (€16.95) is not that mighty high. Kevin described it as the “standard bearer”. I thought it was a gem with power and finesse, really rounded, approachable, loveable. Brilliant.

2008 d’Arenberg Lovegrass Shiraz, McLaren Vale. This was something different, a blend of areas and a blend of varieties. It had a very inviting bouquet but delivery on the palate wasn't quite as brilliant. Mary Dowey wasn't so keen on it, saying it “suffers in the line-up here”.

2009 Wakefield Jaraman Clare McLaren Vale Shiraz. This was a blend of Shiraz from two different regions and I liked it, the intense fruit, the hints of spice and more, all excellent. Tim though said it needs more time, maybe up to five years, to bring even more out of the fruit.

2008 Tim Adams The Aberfeldy Shiraz, Clare Valley. The good news is that this is another gem, another complete wine from Tim, another with power and elegance combined. It has spent 24 months in oak but Tim guards against the oak taking over.

The less than good news is that the 4 acre plot, planted first in 1904, is “naturally dying”. It needs to be replaced and Tim is working on it. 

2009 Gatt Hugh Eden Shiraz, Eden Valley. This 100% estate grown smooth fruity beauty was the first of the final flight and got a big reception. Tim: ..absolute cracker.. elegant..poised..a very good example. 

Kevin: ...layers of interest...gentle and elegant.

2008 Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz, Barossa.

2009 Schild Estate Shiraz, Barossa.


Soft and elegant on the palate, the Schild was the one I voted for when a discussion arose about the comparative merits of these two. Quite a few had their hands up for this one though there were a few serious hands, only a few, raised in favour of the Jacobs.

2008 St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz, Barossa

2008 St Hallett Old Block, Barossa.


The tasting came to a brilliant end with these two, though only the first is available in Ireland. Loaded with flavour and colour, the Blackwell is intense and excellent. "Delicious," said John.

But the Old Block was something else. Tim said it was big and bold, “a richer version than the Blackwell, multi-layered with a great balance.” He advised that both were good for long term keeping and that he keeps them himself in his own collection. 
Yours truly with Mary Dowey.
The audience certainly enjoyed the tasting and the knowledge of Tim, Kevin and John. Indeed, John was urged to mount similar events in the future and to use the same formula (the same number of samples to be tasted in a 2 hour time frame). He was delighted to hear that his hard work had been approved and indicated that a similar Chardonnay occasion is in the pipeline.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thank You Mr Karwig


Thank You Mr Karwig
(and Mr Whelan)

Morambro Creek, Padthaway Australia, Shiraz 2008, 14.5%, €18.50, Karwig Wines

A big thank you to JoeKarwig  in Carrigaline who imports this excellent New World Shiraz, a terrific wine. And thanks also to that well known butcher, Pat Whelan of Clonmel, and now also of Monkstown (Dublin), as it was from Whelan’s on-line shop that I got the ever so tender lack of lamb that I matched with the Morambro Shiraz .

The dark red wine is smooth and lush from start to long finish. It has a pleasantly aromatic nose. The introduction to the palate is excellent. This is a very well made wine indeed with rounded fruit flavours and spice, all in balance, nothing overly restrained and nothing extreme. Easy to enjoy.

The know-how of five generations of the Bryson family has gone into this one and they are justly proud of their methods and of the wine itself. They also say that it is best with food and you won’t get a much better match than the one I enjoyed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

BRINGING BAROSSA SHIRAZ AND GUBBEEN PORK TOGETHER

Nine Lives Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008, 14.5%, stockists (€16.99 rrp) 

Full ,spicy and dark red, this Barossa has a nose of inviting dark berry. There is a terrific mix of fruit and spice on the palate and the long finish of this lively full bodied wine is along the same pleasant lines. Not surprised that the producer, Rosedale Wines, won a silver medal for this at the 2010 New World Wine Awards.

Probably didn't win any medal though for the originality of the back label which has a string of cat puns. Still they draw a smile or two and I did have a laugh at the final line: drink in moderation – then have a catnap.

Bord Bia played a leading role during the queen’s visit and plays quite a role at all times in Irish food. Picked up a pork leaflet from them about a year back and adjusted one of the recipes for this wine.

The recipe is Pork Fillet with Prunes  and the only real change was to substitute red wine for the white. Must also mention that the pork was top class, a beautiful piece bought recently from Gubbeen   at the Mahon Point Farmers Market . 

Served with a puree of parsnip and potato, I’m glad to say (and this will earn me brownie points) that the dish was marvellous and was enhanced by the Shiraz which is imported by Wine Alliance and available at these stockists.