Paul Sharkey, winner of recent wine
competition - see bottom


A couple of new-to-Ireland Spanish Reds have just hit the market, thanks to Wine Alliance and it is worth watching out for the Shiraz and Tempranillo in the distinctive Mojo Rojo labels of  Lozano’s Cellars in La Mancha, Spain’s biggest wine region.

The 2009 Shiraz, with an ABV of 13.5%, is a deep red colour, currant and spice on the nose, berries also on the palate and moderately spicy (close to the Rhone Syrah, unsurprisingly). It is well balanced, full bodied, easy to drink with good length on the finish and good value at €8.99.

While I was finishing off this bottle, I happened to be reading Dining with Al Qaeda by Hugh Pope and Shiraz, a city in Iran, featured, mainly because of a very famous 14th century poet called Hafez who, like many of his fellow citizens at the time, was into his wine.

On a 2001 visit by Pope, a billboard type sign on the Shiraz ring road, highlighted a couple of lines:
“You’re late, O drunken-headed lover.
I won't let your skirt slip easily from my embrace”

This was not the only reference to wine in Hafez’s writings and, yes, according to Pope the famous grape variety was “first brought from Shiraz to the Rhone valley by a crusader knight returning from the Middle East. Grapes are still a leading Shirazi crop.”

The Rojo Mojo Tempranillo is also a gorgeous wine, especially for those of you who might not like the more peppery reds. The 2009 version is deep red with black and red fruit on the nose, plums and berries on the palate. This well balanced, full bodied wine is a smooth drink with very good length in the finish. ABV is 13% and the price is a very reasonable €8.99.
Both available at: 1601 Off Licence (Kinsale), Cases Wine Warehouse (Galway), Hollands of Bray, and other fine wine stockists nationwide.
The recent Rojo Mojo Spanish Red Wine competition, sponsored by Wine Alliance, drew a large entry from all over the country and the winner was Paul Sharkey of Kildinan, Co. Cork. Well done Paul. And most of you knew that Cork wore white jerseys in the 1973 All-Ireland.