A couple of excellent reds: Malbec from Mendoza and a Gamay from the Loire.
Altos Las Hormigas “Terroir” Malbec Valle de Uco Mendoza 2018,13.5% ABV,
RRP €26.99 The Corkscrew Baggot Street Wines Blackrock Cellar wineonline.ie
The ants (Las Hormigas) love newly planted vines. But the owners didn't want to poison them, after all the ants were the original inhabitants; they lived with the nuisance and then found that the ants had no interest in the vines once they began to grow. (Source: Wines of South America by Evan Goldstein.)
The fruit for this one hundred per cent Malbec comes from the Valle de Uco (in Argentina), an area known for its fine fruit and floral bouquets. Seventy five per cent of the wine is aged for 18 months in concrete piletas (pools) and 25% in untoasted large oak foudres. Then ageing for 6 months in the bottle.
Colour is a mid to deep ruby and there are aromas of plum and cherry; floral and herb notes too. So smooth, fresh and spicy also, the perfect introduction. And so it progresses harmoniously across the palate, the lively acidity playing its part, balancing the sweet ripe fruit all the way through to the long finalé, just a little grip from the tannins. This is a marvellous wine, from producers well respected for their Malbecs, and is Very Highly Recommended.
Suggested pairings are Mediterranean cuisine and red meats. Serve at 16 degrees. Keep for up to 7 years.
Importers Liberty tell us that friends and business partners Alberto Antonini and Antonio Morescalchi have come a long way since they were impressed by Mendoza’s vineyards on their first visit in 1995. “They have gone from being youthful interlopers to one of the country’s leading producers, as well as being pioneers of a more elegant style of Malbec.
Their combined wealth of experience as a winemaking team, as well as their never-ending experimentation and desire to produce the best wines that Argentina can offer, has made Altos Las Hormigas a Malbec specialist, with a reputation as one of the country’s top producers of this variety.
Region: Uco Valley, Mendoza
Winemakers: Alberto Antonini, Attilio Pagli
Serving temp: 16 degrees.
Keep: 7 years.
Closure: DIAM 10
Acidity: 5.7 g/l
Residual Sugar: 1.9 g/l
Régnier David Gamay (IGP) 2018, 12.5%
€19.95 approx Saturday Pop-Up (2-5pm) at Grainstore Ballymaloe
You don’t come across Loire Valley Gamay very often in Ireland but that is indeed where this comes from. It is produced by artisan winemaker Regnier David based in Meigné sous Doué, quite close to the lovely city of Saumur.
Colour is a light ruby, as is more or less usual. Aromas from this 2018 are fruity (Blackberry) and floral (Violet) with hints of soil. it ambushes the palate with succulent fruit (with a bramble spine to it). It offers a generous juiciness, nice bit of acidity too and virtually no tannins in play. Pleasant finish, of medium length. Highly Recommended.
Smith & Whelan are the importers here and are based in Ballymaloe. Sacha Whelan is the grandson of Myrtle and Ian Allen, the couple who started Ballymaloe. S&M specialise in “quality, hand-picked wines that we enjoy drinking ourselves”. Initially, they concentrated on Spanish wines but have gradually expanded their offering into an interesting list.
Pairings: Lighter meat dishes, charcuterie, are fine with Gamays. Cold meats, grilled poultry and cheese, salads, cold meats, grilled poultry, also. In the Loire, I’m told the local delicacy of river eel is a must with this Gamay.
Gamay is the main variety planted in Beaujolais where it thrives on the granite soils. The vast majority of the grape is grown in France and most of that in Beaujolais. Neighbouring regions such as Burgundy and the Loire raise small amounts.