Bibendum and La Rousse . Portfolio Tastings in Cork

 Bibendum and La Rousse 

Portfolio Tastings in Cork

Choices galore last Monday: Sauvignon Blanc from Le Rousse and Chardonnay from Bibendum

Very seldom indeed that you get two wine companies doing their portfolio tastings in Cork on the same day but that was the case last Monday when Bibendum and La Rousse came to town. 

For me, the more impressive wines came from Portugal and South Africa at the well-attended Bibendum event at Hotel Montenotte while a Telmo Rodriguez quartet and a couple of Slovenians alerted the tastebuds in the Glass Curtain where La Rousse displayed their excellent range.


The Glasshouse, an excellent venue

Bibendum were very happy indeed with the impressive Glasshouse in Montenotte, a very bright and colourful room, with views over the city and ideal for this and similar events.

I had been hoping to taste a share of Portuguese wines here and at The Glass Curtain. But, with a combined total of close to 200 wines for tasting, there were just two. Both of these were Bibendum’s and each was excellent.

One was the Conde Villar Alvarinho Vinho Verde (DOC). In an unusual tall bottle (right), it was engaging from first contact, floral aromas, fresh and elegant, rich and full bodied, memorable. It is 100% Alvarinho, the same grape that grows across the border in Spain’s Rias Baixas. Really excellent and worth looking out for.

The second was from the Alentejo, the red Tapada de Villar, and this too was excellent. It is a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Trincadeira. Intense aromatics, ripe red fruit flavours in the mouth, soft and elegant. Another to note.

Tom Hanson-Smith of Journey's End

Next up was a rewarding stop at the Journey’s End table where Tom Hanson-Smith was showing three of the wines from their Stellenbosch vineyard (the second wine farm in SA to be solar powered).  The Haystack Chardonnay had a great balance of oak and fruit and gets a major thumbs up.

And I went on to complete the hat-trick with two super reds, the Huntsman (a blend of Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Grenache) and Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. The Single Vineyard was premier class but I would be reluctant to leave the Huntsman behind.

There was one other wine that I wasn’t leaving without tasting. It was at the Fine Wine Table. Here, I rebuffed a whole lot of temptation, treating myself only to the Chateau Kirwan Margaux 3eme Cru Classé. No Irish connection there now but, for old times sake, I sipped sinfully before saying au revoir to Mark Redmond and the lovely and helpful Bibendum crew.

La Rousse

Thompson ladies. Le Rousse wine.

A refreshing stroll down the hill then to the Glass Curtain and a lovely warm welcome from Vera O’Grady of La Rousse. She gave me a few helpful tips before I made a start in this excellent Cork restaurant.

I enjoy white Mediterranean grapes and they came up trumps in whites such as Eric Texier’s Roussane, JL Chaves Hermitage Marsanne, Le Soula white blend and Gilles Troullier’s Macabeu. More excellent stuff from Italy, the Monte Tondo Soave Classico and the Mora e Memo Tino Vermentino (left).

And right at the end of that line came Telmo Rodriquez. I met him last in Ballymaloe about nine years ago. He could have had comfortably slotted into the family winery Remelluri but, after an intensive wine education in France, he eventually headed off on his own, to the most unlikely places. Barren hillsides where vineyards had been abandoned. Sometimes a few survived with practices dating back five hundred years, including “beautiful bush vines”. 

Telmo (left) and yours truly. Ballymaloe 2013

He still makes wines all over Spain and his smooth and excellent Basa (Verdejo, Viura) from Rueda is one to note as is the Branco de Santa Cruz (Bierzo), an gorgeous blend of Godello, Treixadura, Dona Alana.

Next for me was an orange wine from Slovenia. The Guerilla Retro Selection (Pinela, Zelen, Rebula and Malvazija) was just beautiful. And they also had an excellent 2020 Barbera. This, also marked by Vera, was different class, quite amazing.

Slovenia impressed
Last, but by no means least, was Telmo again, with two beauties. First top was the young 2021 LZ, a bright and delightfully easy-drinking un-oaked (aged in concrete) Rioja. It comes from the village of Lanciego and is organic, same blend as the Lanzaga below.

The Lanzaga (a field bland of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano) is oaked, organic, elegant, full of dark fruits and a smokey finalé.

Quite a finalé then for me at the Glass Curtain. Time to say goodbye to Vera and head for the hills.

What a double to finish on!