Showing posts with label Argentina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Argentina. Show all posts

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon. Both Sides of the Andes

Cabernet Sauvignon
From Both Sides of the Andes
Cono Sur winemaker Adolfo Hurtado in the Opera House last year.

“The Los Cardos wines are readily available and are among the world’s great values.” So says the recently published Wines of South America. Not that readily available around here but did find this one in the city centre Tesco a few weeks before Christmas and alongside it was the Block 18 which is made by Cono Sur winemaker Adolfo Hurtado who, coincidentally, was hosting a wine tasting in the Opera House at the time. “That will be good,” he told me. And he was right, as he usually is! The prices at the time of purchase were €18.00 for the Doña Paula and €20 for the Block 18 (a Tesco Finest).
Cabernet Sauvignon makes wine that can age for decades. The two below are very young but don’t worry. “South American Cabernets...are bursting with flavour at only a couple of years old.” declares Grapes and Wines. I think this pair confirm that.

Doña Paula Los Cardos Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza (Argentina), 14%
Los Cardos means thistles, “a sign of good terroir” according to the bottle. The vineyards, by the way, are at about 1050 metres up. Doña Paula is the Argentinian arm of the Chilean company Santa Rita. Malbec is their signature wine but they are also well respected for their Cabernet Sauvignon and more as you can see from the Wines of South America endorsement.
Despite the large size of the company, they make quite a lot of wine, including this one, from estate grown fruit. Colour is deep ruby and the aromas are quite expressive, featuring mainly dark fruit including typical blackcurrant scents. Quite an intense attack from this one, smooth fruit, spice and fine tannins and a long finish and Highly Recommended.

El Recurso Vineyard Block 18 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Valle de Maipo (Chile), 14%,
This is also a dark ruby and the aromas are a shade more intense with dark berries and plums to the fore. It is smoother and rounder and more complete on the palate, more full bodied than the Doña Paula and the long lingering finish too is superior. Twelve months in French oak has had the desired effect in terms of complexity and smoothness. Very Highly Recommended.
The El Recurso Estate has vineyards divided into blocks and the grapes for this wine, carefully selected by Adolfo, come from number 18, selected for its privileged location in the upper north east Maipo Valley. The rocky, alluvial soil here contributes to the impressive colour and marked intensity. Great with grilled, roasted or barbecued meat.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

All Red For You. Garnacha-Syrah-Nebbiolo

All Red For You
Garnacha-Syrah-Nebbiolo
Ricossa Barola 2010 (DOCG), 14%, €17.00 (down from 22.99), SuperValu Christmas


In the Langhe hills it’s the aromas - of truffles, mushrooms, hazelnuts, coffee, and above all else, Barolo or Barbaresco wine - that sweep people off their feet. (Vino Italia).


Barolo, by the way, is a place in Piedmonte (Italy) and the grape is Nebbiolo. There is a minimum aging requirement of three years (two in barrel) and the result has been described as the king of wine, the wine of kings.

So let's be king for a day and try this vibrant ruby red. And yes there are gorgeous dark red fruit (cherries mainly) wafting up from the glass. The Riedel (Veritas 6449/67) has been made for New World Pinot Noir but it certainly works well here! The fruits are agreeably prominent on the palate but there is a great balance, some spicy elements too, a sweet and savoury experience and then the long dry finish. I really like this one, feeling rather royal! Very Highly Recommended.

Marco Real Corraliza de Los Roncaleses 2012, Santacara (Navarra DO), 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines

Colour here is a bright cherry, long lasting legs. For me, nose is more fruit (cherry) than floral (which is highlighted on the label). Soft and full-bodied and elegant too, moderate acidity and yet, despite the high abv, the balance is fine; the finish is long and pleasant. Highly Recommended.

It is one hundred per cent Garnacha and wines made from this variety can be high in alcohol (as is the case here) and heady (not the case here!).  By the way, I had this with Poulet Basquaise and it was an excellent match.

Think I may have been fairly close to this vineyard a few years ago when I came over the mountains from France to Roncesvalles, a major stop on the camino to Santiago. It was lunchtime and I was hoping to get the  Pilgrim’s Meal but was told it was available only in the evening!



Finca Pasion Mi Fuego Syrah 2012 (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Colour is a dark red (with a lighter rim) and it has ripe fruits aromas. Then you get the fruit again on the palate, spice too and quite fine tannins, a pleasant presence in the mouth plus persistent finish. Hand-harvested and estate bottled, this is easily quaffable and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

White Across The World. Chardonnay-Riesling-Gruner Veltliner

White Across The World
Chardonnay-Riesling-Gruner Veltliner

El Grano Chardonnay 2013 (Chile), 13.5%, €14.30 Le Caveau
Sun, the snow capped Andes, and the Pacific Ocean have all influenced the character of this El Grano Chardonnay. So too has the French father and son winemaking team of Denis and Gregoire Duveau. Chile is their Pays de Rêves, their country of dreams, and their organic wines are known for their very pleasant roundness.

Colour is quite a pale gold. There is a nice aromatic drift of white fruits and blossoms. The palate is loaded with fruit, fresh and round and smooth, a very pleasant balance and long echoing finish. Does this please me? Answer is a resounding yes. Very Highly Recommended.


Finca Pasion Mi Vida Chardonnay 2012 (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Another everyday wine, unoaked, from Mendoza. If giving this as a present, you can add your own personalised greeting on the specially designed back label.

And there’s no reason why you wouldn't give it as a gift. Its colour is a light gold, very bright. White fruits and floral notes on the nose, a good feel, flavours and finish from a lively and pleasant wine. Recommended.


 Carl Ehrhard Rudesheim Riesling trocken 2014, Rheingau (Germany), 12%, €16.50 Karwig Wines


Colour is a shiny light gold, totally clean; micro bubbles cling to the glass. Aromas are citric and orchard, even a weak drift of petrol. Tempting flush of fruit on the attack, crisp with a little tingle too in the mouth, a refreshing acidity and a long flavourful finish. Another thoroughbred from the Ehrhard stable and Very Highly Recommended.


Johann Strauss Gruner Veltliner 2013, Kremser Sandgrube Kremstal DAC (Austria), 12.5%, €16.15 Karwig Wines

Colour here is a light to medium gold, not quite as golden as the famous Strauss statue in the Stadtpark in Vienna. White fruits in the aromas, some blossom too. Minerality and fruit front the initial attack and then refreshing flavours take over, yet balance is perfect; all combine for an excellent finale, little wave after little wave.
The Kremser has long been recognised, the Romans among its early fans, as excellent for viticulture and this Gruner is Very Highly Recommended. The producers suggest matching it with asparagus, fish, pork and scallops. I found it excellent too as an aperitif.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Malbec Quartet. Wines of Mendoza

The Malbec Quartet
Wines of Mendoza

The leading soloist in this Malbec Quarter is the Llama but the four are all worth noting and one can see why the US has taken to Malbec in a big way. Each of the quartet is from Argentina and each is from Karwig Wines.

And as we post this, there is a sadness that Joe Karwig will no longer be around his Carrigaline shop to guide us on our wine adventures across the vinous globe of his packed shelves. May the good and generous man rest in peace.
Finca Ocho Siete Ocho Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13%, €14.65 Karwig Wines

Finca 878’s vino tinto is, they say, “intended for young consumers, who like enjoying good wines.” I say: “Why should the young have all the fun?” These wines are “fresh, fruity, easy drinking.” And I enjoyed their Malbec/Merlot blend a few weeks back.

Colour of this Malbec solo is cherry red with a healthy shine. Jammy red fruits on the nose and same red fruits too on a smooth palate, a little spice too, tannins also play on the lips, then a good dry finish. “Easy-drinking” may be under-rating it a little. Highly Recommended.
Belasco de Baquedano Llama Malbec (old Vine) 2013, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €17.50 (now reduced to 14.00) Karwig Wines

This has intense aromas of ripe red fruit and announces its arrival on the palate with fruit, spice and tannin. Easy to welcome this rather smooth wine, a worthy guest that makes a lasting impression. Elegant and well balanced, it is Very Highly Recommended.

The winery focuses exclusively on Malbec, according to the Wines of South America and “lies in Mendoza’s finest vineyard zone”. Its “Swinto” Malbec makes the book’s Top Ten. Must look out for that!
Moncagua Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.95 Karwig Wines
Colour is ruby and bright and aromas are intensely fruity. Outstanding ripe reds on the palate too, very fruity, juicy and a little spice too, a perfect balance between fruit and structure. A second glass wine for sure and Highly Recommended.

The vines are raised in the foothills of the Andes at some 1020 metres, under the shadow of Monte Aconcagua (you can see where they got the name for the wine), the highest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres.
Finca Pasión Mi Amor Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines

Made from hand-harvested fruit, this friendly Malbec is Highly Recommended. Ruby is the colour and the aromas are of dark fruit, plum and cherry prominent. These dark fruits are in evidence on the palate also, now with a good wash of spice, fine tannins too in this well balanced and pleasant wine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Best of Blends. More than 15 varieties in one

Best of Blends.
More than 15 varieties in one.


Blending has been a part of winemaking for many generations. Probably started by accident. But no accident in the Douro below where more than 15 grape varieties are used! Sometimes, as it in the majority here, just two grapes are used. There can be up to six in Port and sometimes more than double that in Cotes du Rhone. Blends everywhere then, including our two from South America.

Quinta do Judeu Vinho tinto 2010, Douro (DOC), 13%, Curious Wines

Colour is somewhere between violet and purple. It has a smooth silky feel, rounded flavours, some spice, some grip, quite intense yet harmonious in all aspects, not least in the long finish. Much to be said for the human touch: this has been foot trodden in granite lagares. Hope that bare-footed gang had as much fun trampling forwards and back on it as I had drinking it. Very Highly Recommended.

It is not filtered so should be decanted. I got this bottle as a present from Maurice O'Mahony (of the former Wine Alliance) and it is “made from more than 15 Douro varieties from old vineyards, with the predominance of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Roriz and Tinta Amarela”. Curious Wines are now selling the wines of Quinta do Judeu.





Chateau de Rochemorin 2009, Pessac-Leognan (France), 13%, €16.40 in Graves. Bordeaux wines are widely available in Ireland.
This “assemblage” is the classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with Cab Sauv supplying 60 per cent of the mix. The aim is to produce a well balanced wine that is the best possible expression of the terroir.

This left bank bottle comes from a Lurton vineyard, a family “who have strived for excellence...this family’s passion for viticulture goes back a long way”. The Lurtons, particularly André, are highly respected.

Colour is purple and on the nose there are berries, vanilla, even a drift of tobacco. Two thousand and nine was one of those very good years so this expression is one of the best, elegant and smooth and drinking so well now. Soft and easy drinking, fresh with ripe tannins, long, flavoursome and Very Highly Recommended.

Finca 878 Clásico Vino Tinto Malbec Merlot 2012, Argentina, 13%, €13.95 Karwig Wines (now reduced to 11.15, great value).
This blend is popular in Argentina and, according to Wine Searcher, is becoming popular in New Zealand. This 878 is designed for the younger drinker. The producers’ translator calls them junior drinkers but it went down well with this senior imbiber!

This medium red gives off aromas of ripe red fruit. Palate is pretty smooth, fruit yes but with good balance, easy drinking, finish not the longest but Highly Recommended. In Argentina, they grow over 90,000 acres of these two grapes, four times more Malbec than Merlot. Most Argentinian Merlot ends up in blends.

Something to check before you start drinking. The bottom eight on the label is upside down!

Dóna Paula Malbec Syrah 2011, Mendoza (Argentina), 14%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence.

This is a rich dark red and aromas of plum dominate. Beautiful fruit flavours follow, sweet notes yes, yet very good acidity, a pleasant mouthfeel with a long finish. Good wine, good value and Highly Recommended.

The estate, part of the Chilean Santa Rita group, in the foothills of the Andes, has “always been managed using Sustainable Agricultural practices”. Watch out too for their Los Cardos wines which, according to Wines of South America, “are among the world’s great values”.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In Argentina. Malbec Reigns In The High Vineyards.

In Argentina. Malbec Reigns

In The High Vineyards.

Argentina, the world’s fifth biggest wine producer (World Atlas of Wine) and well known for its high altitude vineyards (the highest in Salta at over 2,700m), took its time before making its mark on the world stage. Quality, as it is so often, was the key to the breakthrough in recent decades and their Malbec gained a huge reputation in the USA. Not too hard though to find Argentine wine here and I came across quite a good selection locally.

Argentinians are very proud of their Bonarda and, with close to 45,000 acres of it, it is second only to Malbec (76,000). In the whites, Torrontes is their signature grape with some 26,000 acres. Chardonnay, on 16,000 acres, is the most popular of the European whites grown here.

As a matter of interest, there is also a La Rioja in Argentina. It is in the foothills of the Andes located at 1,700m above sea level and is the oldest wine region in the country.
Bodegas Salentein, Portillo Malbec 2013, Mendoza, 14%, €11.99 Bradley’s Off-Licence

Fruit and freshness in a delightful bottle from Mendoza’s Uco valley. Open the screw cap and, as you pour, you’’ll notice a purplelish colour. Aromas are of dark fruit, especially plum. Its impressive flavour and rich softness on the palate make this a welcome addition to the table (especially if you have grilled meats) and, at this price, it will also find a welcome in your wallet.

The Uco valley is named on the label but the estates are high up, located between 1050 and 1700 metres, the winery itself is in the foothills of the Andes. Dutch owned Salentein is noted for its Malbec and this well balanced effort is Highly Recommended.

Bodegas Salentein, Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Mendoza, 12.5%, €11.99 Bradley’s Off Licence

This excellent Sauvignon blanc is also called Portillo, after a pass in the Andes that is a gateway into the high altitude Salentein vineyards. It is a 5,000 acre estate with 1124 acres of vines. While Torrontes is by far the most widely grown white grape in the country, the Uco Valley is highly rated for Sauvignon blanc and producers Fournier and Salentein are noted as two to check in Evan Goldstein’s Wines of South America.

Colour is a light gold with tints of green. White fruits abound in the aromas and on the palate. It is fresh and crisp, very approachable with a decent finish and Recommended.

Las Moras Reserva Malbec 2013 (San Juan, Argentina), 14%, €13.50 Karwig Wines

Speaking of their reservas, Las Moras say: “This is where we get serious.” The wine has been aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Big aromas of ripe fruit greet you as you sniff this. Smooth and fruity, with very good aftertaste, illustrates why Malbec, from Argentina mainly, has taken the US by storm. This is an excellent one to get us into the game and not a very expensive one either. It has an elegant balance between fruit and wood and is Very Highly Recommended.

San Juan, La Rioja and Mendoza are all areas in the the wine region of Cuyo, a region that produces ninety per cent of Argentinian wine. Here, Las Moras are highly regarded producers. This Malbec is a gem but their Black Label Syrah is stellar according to The Wines of South America. They also produce the well oaked Dadá that was quite a hit at the Our Table event in Cork a few weeks back.

La Puerta Reserva Malbec 2010 (Famatina Valley, Argentina), 14%, €17.99 Bubble Brothers

The Famatina Valley is in La Rioja, the vineyard at a height of about 1,000m. Thirty per cent is aged in oak for 6 months and then blended with the 70% that has been raised in stainless steel “achieving greater balance between the oak and the fruit”.

This intense red coloured wine has aromas of ripe fruit, hints too of smoke. It is another excellent Malbec, smooth with rich plum flavours and a long lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Valla de la Puerta, an estate of some 750 acres, produces premium grape varieties and, according to the Wines of South America, is also well known for turning out some of Argentina's finest olives, peaches and plums.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Three Reds and a Rosé. Dadá is me daza!

Three Reds and a Rosé
Dadá is me daza!

Dadá is me Daza

Dadá De Finca Las Moras, Art Wine 1 2014 (Argentina), 13%, €10.99 O’Donovan’s Off Licence


This wine went down very well indeed at Our Table  in Cork last Sunday night when 400 white-clad dinners enjoyed a three course meal on the street!

On the nose, it is vanilla, no doubt. You’ll also find Art Wine 2 and 3 but this #1 has had contact with medium toast American oak, hence the vanilla. They say this is “an artistic wine inspired by Dadáism, a cultural movement that began in Zurich in 1916”.

Art inspired or not, the vanilla remains a major feature on the palate, spice there too and soft tannins. Hard to discern by taste just what grapes are involved. But look at the back label and you’ll see that Bonarda and Malbec are used. It is an opulent blend. The winemaker has had a major say here and I admit I’m a convert. Very Highly Recommended.

Masi Campofiorin 2009 Rosso del Veronese (IGT), 13%, €15.99 (now at 12.99), Bradley’s Off Licence


This deep ruby red has aromas of red fruit, mainly cherry. Serious and rich are the immediate impressions as it reaches the palate, good concentration and some spice too, well balanced with lengthy finalé. 

“Friendly at the table” the makers say and I couldn't disagree. On the label, in Latin, it says (Google translation, so beware), Nectar of Angels and Men. The angels have had their share, now time for mine. Highly Recommended.

It has been a success for Masi since 1964 and has won numerous awards. The blend is of three native grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. And the appassimento technique - the grapes are dried to obtain greater concentration of flavour and aroma - is used here.

The Masi Masianco white has been Very Highly Recommended in a previous post.



Velenosi Querciantica Lacrima di Morro d’Alba (DOC) 2013, Marche Italy, 12.5%, €17.10 Karwig Wines




Just one variety of grape in this bottle, the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. Colour is a rather intense ruby and there are rich aromas of red berries, strawberries and raspberries, some cherry too and floral hints. Medium bodied and very smooth, it is fruity and juicy, easy drinking, with slight spice and just about noticeable tannins, all followed by an excellent finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Claude Val rosé 2014, Pays D’Oc (IGT), 13%, €12.25 Karwig Wines

Summer time, they say, is rosé time; never confined myself to just one unreliable season though! And certainly not with this excellent example from the Pezenas region of the Languedoc. It is a blend of three grapes: Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah.

Colour is pink, of course; quite an arresting blush actually. The red fruit aromas are also attractive and there are floral notes too. Fruit is generous and it is very pleasant on the palate, lingering on and on. Approachable, easy drinking and fantastic value could all be applied here and the producers would have no problem with that as it was indeed their aim! Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Argentina Scores with Reds. And Whites.

Argentina Scores with Reds. And Whites.
Mascota Malbec And Beef Wellington Hit The Spot At Cornstore Wine Event
Matias, introduced by Mags O'Connor (Cornstore)
The Cornstore is renowned for its aged steak, Argentina’s Mascota Vineyards for their Malbec. Put the two together and you are on a winner. That happened in Cork’s Cornstore last Monday night and it was the highlight of a lovely wine evening with El Esteco’s Matias Ferraro our knowledgeable and humorous host.

Matias took us through a series of excellent wines from two vineyards, the whites from Amaru High, the reds from Mascota, all imported by Cork company Classic Drinks who also helped the evening run smoothly.

As we started off with some gorgeous tapas from the Cornstore kitchen, we were introduced to the Amaru High Torrontes 2013. The vineyard, believe it or not, is situated at 1700 metres and higher. “The height and coolness leads to a thicker skin, more concentration. Light yellow, it is a little spicy but with good balance,” said Matias.

The Torrontes is regarded as Argentina’s national grape and I'm surprised it is not better known here. Perhaps with Matias and Classic Drinks promoting it, we’ll see more of this gorgeous wine with its beautiful fresh flavours and balancing acidity. If Albarino can make the breakthrough here, Torrontes must have as good a chance.
Now we dropped down to the Finca La Mascota, a vineyard near Mendoza, the town where Scotland beat Holland in the 1978 World Cup. Matias may have been down following the recent World Cup final loss to Germany but this Buenos Aires resident has Boca Juniors to cheer on in the weeks ahead.

He cheered us all up on Monday when he introduced the Opi Cabernet Sauvignon. Opi Sadler is the winemaker; delays in his journey meant he didn't make the Cornstore but Matias went solo and was in top form. As was this excellent wine, full bodied and full too of dark fruit with a long finish. Superb with some of the tapas, particularly the Beef Carpaccio.

And then it was on to the Beef Wellington, with twice cooked Roast Potatoes and Caramelised Root Vegetables and a Bordelaise Sauce. What a dish! What a wine! The La Mascota Malbec 2012 is a gem, beautiful aromas, vibrantly fruity, smooth and easy drinking and with a long lazy finish. It takes two to tango and this beef and this wine were the perfect pair.

Beef Welllington.
The Menu
Amaru High Vineyards Torrontes Rosé 2014
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Parma Ham and Toonsbridge Mozzarella Roulade.
Beef Carpaccio en Croute with Truffle Oil & Parmesan Cheese.
Smoked Salmon Rillette with pickled Cucumber.
Wild Mushroom Risotto beignets with Celeriac Purée.

Amara High Vineyards Torrontes 2013.
Opi Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

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Classic Beef Wellington, with twice cooked Roast Potatoes and Caramelised Root Vegetables and a Bordelaise Sauce.

La Mascota Malbec 2012.

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Poached Rhubarb and Strawberry in Rose Jelly with Blood Orange Sorbet.

Santa Ana Sparkling Wine Malbec Rosé.

Yours Truly and Matias.