Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Riesling to remember and a Chardonnay with a difference



Let the drums and trumpets sound for this outstanding German Riesling. The label does it well: A Riesling dry in style and well balanced like its Rheingau predecessors from the glorious age of Riesling a century ago: a contemporary classic and a perfect partner for many foods.

Don’t know anything about the Rieslings of a century ago but this light gold coloured wine is a gem for sure. Intense aromas of apple and pear indicate a good year in the Rheingau, a year for the grape to flourish. And that’s soon confirmed on the palate with its crisp acidity and yellow stone fruit (peach, apricot), a striking minerality too maintained to the persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended. No wonder Wilhelm Weil considers it as one of the best he has produced in 30 years (reported by none other than an enthusiastic Robert Palmer). 

You can hardly talk of Riesling without mentioning acidity and minerality. In his book Reading Between the Wines, Terry Theise says "Acidity is innate to the berry". "Minerality, " he continues, "is inherent to Riesling, because the variety is, in its essence, more mineral than fruit. The Riesling genre is one of a mineral-tasting wine into which are woven various strands of fruit, depending on site and vintage."

Fruity, tangy, yet charming and harmonious, you’ll find it this Weil typically versatile at the table. A couple of suggestions, one “a merry table companion to a wide range of cuisines” and another, this via Google Translate, “goes brilliantly with fried fish, poultry and Asian dishes. But even without banqueting - he can sip excellent …"


The Mornington Peninsula, just over an hour south of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, is perfectly suited to growing Chardonnay and “a foremost region” too for Pinot Gris”. Chardonnay here though, according to Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, “is markedly different from any other Chardonnay produced in Australia”.

Stonier was established here in 1978 and are noted for their Burgundian style cool climate wines. The vineyards overlooks the ocean. Chardonnay is a signature wine for Stonier and this is a gem.

It has a yellow colour, with green tints. The aromas are gentle, of exotic fruits. Even the background flavours are delicate with melon and citrus to the fore. There is excellent texture, a pleasant creaminess, and complementary acidity. And it boasts a long and distinctive finish too. Delicious and satisfying, this is well made, harmonious and Highly Recommended.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest. Wines, Spirits and Beers Events


CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers Events

Wine Course at L'Atitude
The Wine Fundamentals Level 1 Course starts Saturday 19th January at 3.30pm and will run over 4 weeks, finishing on February 9th. 

Each class lasts 2 hours and the programme will cover the following: 

- Week 1: Basic Tasting Techniques, Introduction to Winemaking and the Main Wine Regions
- Week 2: Major Grapes of The World
- Week 3: Influence of Winemaking Techniques, Climate and Regionality on Wine Style
- Week 4: Sparkling Wines & Food & Wine Matching

Each class costs €40, or €160 for the full course (€150 with discount if you sign up or all 4 classes). 

You can enrol by ringing L’Atitude 51 on 021 2390219 or coming directly to the bar or send us an email to let us know you'd like to attend - info@latitude51.ie

Prosecco for two features in Greene’s offer
Happy New year from all at Greenes Restaurant.
We have a very special new years offer for all our customers.
You can enjoy a 40% discount on our Weekend 5 Course Lunch Tasting Menu with Prosecco from now until the end of March. Valid Thursday to Sunday
OR
A 40% discount on our midweek 6 course evening tasting menu until the end of March. Valid Sunday to Thursday.
View these offers on our website here.

AFTER DARK AT THE CRAWFORD
5-7pm Sunday 20 January

“So bring a friend or date, grab a complimentary drink, take a pop-up tour with our inspiring guides, and enjoy a night at the gallery as we celebrate the Eve of St Agnes!

At length burst in the argent revelry,
With plume, tiara, and all rich array...

Join us after dark on Sunday 20 January for our special celebration of the Eve of St Agnes in partnership with Irish Distillers.

For centuries, this medieval tradition has inspired lovers, poets, and artists alike, including John Keats and Harry Clarke. This year, it is the central theme of our new exhibition Dreaming in Blue: Harry Clarke Watercolours, in which star-cross'd lovers Madeline and Porphyro elope on St Agnes' Eve!”


This event runs as part of Dreaming in Blue: Harry Clarke Watercolours (until 14 February). Free event but book your place here.  

Consumer Tasting for Australian Wine


O'Brien's Monthly Sale
A Louis Jadot Fleurie is one of the wines featured in O'Brien's monthly sale. Jadot's reputation as one of the grand old houses of Burgundy is well established and justifiably so, classic wines from Grand Cru to Cru Beaujolais. Fleurie is one of the 10 Cru's of Beaujolais situated between Villefranche sur Saone and Macon. And Louis Jadot Fleurie is currently at €16.95 instead of €22.95. Another worth checking is the d'Arenberg d'Arrys Shiraz/Grenache also at €16.95 (from 21.95).
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Lucky Irish
I’ve often thought that Irish wine drinkers are blessed because of the huge choice available to us, bottles from all over the world. And that opinion was reinforced when I read this paragraph from a newsletter I get from a winelover in the Languedoc.

“And just for fun I opened a trio of Gimblett Gravels from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay, all variations on a bordelais theme, with a very New World taste.    it is virtually impossible to find any New Zealand wines in the Hérault, so our languedocien friends enjoyed being taken out of their comfort zone!”

The Growing Thirst for Exotic Wine
Bored with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc? Discover some new grapes with Wine-Searcher’s Kathleen Willcox who reports that the heirloom tomato effect is at work in the wine world. The biggest driver of the trend is Millennials, who are seeking not only something pleasing to their palate, but wines that will horrify their parents with their unpronounceability and esoteric country of origin. Read more here


Richy’s BYO Offer
Clonakilty restaurant Richy’s are offering a helping hand when dining out. “Feeling the crunch after Christmas? Why not save some dosh by bringing your own wine to Richy’s! T&C's apply. Available 14th Jan - 28th Feb 2019. Corkage €5.”

Cask Ales and Strange Brew Fest
Our favourite festival of the year....The Cask Ales and Extraordinary Brew Festival running from Jan 31st to Feb 2nd. 
Featuring a range of special brews using curious and interesting ingredients, the festival will showcase the growing experimentation of Irish brewers and their ability to challenge the norms of brewing.

Yellow Belly, Rising Suns, Metalman and West Cork Brewing are just some of the brewers at the festival and will compete in the Beoir Cask Competition to see who can come up with the most extraordinary beer under categories: Best lager, best "pale', best stout and best specialty. Judged by The national Beer enthusiasts club, winners will be announced on the Saturday of the festival. 

Live music, performances & Pompeii pizza! Admission is free

  


Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Sparkling New Year to you. Not forgetting Nollag na mBan



The only grape used in this stunning champagne is the black Pinot Meunier, leaving both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the other regular champagne grapes) out of this particular equation.

It has an inviting eye-catching light gold colour - the bubbles look even better! Aromas are light and fruity (strawberry). Light fruit on the palate also, refreshing and well-rounded, well balanced with a lip-smacking long finish with typical brioche (biscuity, like Marietta!) aftertaste.

The vineyard is planted on the privileged Epernay soil; Epernay is the capital of Champagne and also a town of artistic and historical importance. And, yes,Granzamy do blends of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Here, a small number of growers are concentrating their efforts into bringing Pinot Meunier back into the limelight as a variety which produces quality Champagnes and not just a varietal to compliment a blend. Granzamy is one of those growers.


Akarua Brut NV, Central Otago (New Zealand), 13%, €43.99 Tindal Wine Merchants Limited, Baggot Street Wines, Searsons Wine Merchants,The Corkscrew, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants WINEONLINE.IE
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the grapes used here and, yes, it may be New Zealand but this is made in the Methode Traditionelle, that is the champagne way, and it spends a minimum of 18 months ageing on yeast lees. 

A serious contender then with an inviting gold colour and very good small-bubble flow. Aromas are floral, savoury and that brioche is there too. It is almost creamy in the mouth followed by that long crisp brut (dry) finish.

Sparkling wines are a relatively new operation of the vineyard but already Akarua has been bringing in the medals, mainly gold. This Brut NV (non vintage) is a fine aperitif wine and is ideal for celebrating with friends whenever and wherever you get together, be it New Year’s Eve, birthday or anniversary, or Nollag na mBan! If using it as an aperitif (it was outstanding here on Christmas morning), don’t forget to provide some nibbles - these bubbles go to the head faster than still wine!

Here’s another lovely bottle of bubbles from O’Brien’s. This is from Australia and is a rosé. Again, it is made by the Traditional Method (same way as champagne) and is a blend of selected vintages, hence the NV. 

Produced from Pinot Noir grapes, it comes in a gorgeous pastel salmon hue in which fountains of micro-bubbles constantly rise. There are delicate scents of strawberry and pomegranate. The palate is more intense than the nose, strawberry again and now cherry as well, and a pleasing refined finish and, along the way, you come across that bread-biscuit flavour. Another superb and delicious aperitif and, again, don’t forget those nibbles for yourself and your guests! Happy New Year.






Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €12.00 Aldi

Got this Brut (dry) at the local Aldi. I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, again made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, is perfect for any celebration (big or small). It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, that hint of biscuit and a fine finish. Good price too, bubbles on a budget.

French sparkling wines made by the méthode champenoise but falling outside the boundaries of the Champagne region are termed Crémant. Grapes other than the traditional Champagne varieties may also be used.They are produced in many regions of the country including Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Limoux, Alsace, and the Rhone (known as Crémant de Die).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under. Plus Wine News in Brief!

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under
New to SuperValu Range


“We’re living in an age when great big gobfuls of super-ripe juicy red fruit win a lot of plaudits in the wine world. Well, step forward Zin.” 

The quote is from Grapes and Wines as they introduce their account of the Zinfandel grape. No doubt that Zin is a “big robust” grape and revels in hot climates such as California and South Australia and south-east Italy (where it is known as Primitivo). These two are pretty well balanced, very approachable, and will go well with steak, burger, BBQ.

Nugan Estates started as a broad-based agricultural company over six decades ago but are quite a young wine company, only going into grape growing in 2001. They are now a "veritable giant" according to James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia who also says that unlike some, Nugan "has built its business on quality rather than low prices."

Nowadays, with Matthew Nugan in command, they have a very successful export business and are the 13th largest exporter of branded Australian wine. To mark the launch of the two wines into the SuperValu portfolio earlier in the year, the company confirmed they  are “building on new found determination to further develop and improve the Nugan Estate brand and its legacy”. We look forward to that.



Nugan Langhorne Creek Single Vineyard Zinfandel (South Australia) 2015, 15%, €13 (Was €15.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Eighteen months in oak (new and seasoned French and American) has helped concentration and depth here and rich aromas are also promised.

Colour is dark ruby and, true enough there are intense aromas of jammy fruit. On the palate, it is fruity and juicy, pepper and spice, but this big bold wine is balanced, persistent fine tannins and well integrated oak and the high alcohol all playing a role. A hint of caramel and vanilla add a sweetish note in a good finish. This single vineyard Zinfandel, exclusive to SuperValu, is a great mate for BBQ and burger.


Nugan La Brutta Zinfandel Petite Sirah 2016, 15%, €12 (Was €14.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Just spotted on an electronic advert “Unleash the beast” on the side of a pitch holding a Premier League game as I was  unleashing this Australian beast, simply by twisting the screwcap. 

Nugan do seem intent on letting us know that Zin is big and bold, especially here where it’s blended with Petite Sirah. This Sirah is not related to Syrah or Shiraz at all; it is the same grape as Durif and grown mostly in California and in other very warm areas such as Australia. The fruits for this one are grown in Langhorne Creek (South Australia) and the Riverina (New South Wales).

Colour is a deep purple. There are seriously intense aromas, mainly plum. Bold fruit flavours rush across the palate, full-bodied, robust and spicy, with smooth velvety tannins that persist through to a good finish. Like ‘em big? This one’s for you.

Some rather humourous bottle notes tell us that La Brutta is Italian for beast, going on to say this beast takes no prisoners and “make no Mis’steak this is a wine to enjoy with MEAT! A wine that cuts the mustard."

The advert on the football pitch also refers to a drink, the Monster Energy Drink. By coincidence, there is a red bull on the front label of the wine but no sign of wings! 

Wine News in Brief

News from Gary Gubbins at Red Nose Wines about his new Rhone Supplier

“Did you know that the southernmost tip of the Rhone Valley is  actually in Costières de Nîmes ( which lies at the crossroads of the Rhone, Provence and the Languedoc ). We are delighted to finally do business with Chateau de Valcombe – they have 6 wines including 2 organic wines. The vineyard is in fact fully organic but only a small section is currently certified. The rest is in conversion and all will be certified soon.

The certified organic wines have a very particular name. No Sex for Butterfly and its all about a vineyard management technique involving pheromones - click on the wines to understand more. The red is 100% Syrah and the white a blend of Rousanne, White Grenache and Viognier. 


Cliff Townhouse
Spend a leisurely, pleasurable and informative Sunday afternoon (Oct 21st) in Cliff Townhouse with Wines from Spain and Susan Boyle, exploring some of the delicious wines of DO Navarra.
Susan will introduce a selection of wines from Navarra, the unique wine region in northern Spain, close to the Pyrenees, where wine has been produced since Roman times. Stretching 100 kilometres from the valleys of Pamplona to the plains of the Ebro river, the diversity of the climate and landscape of the DO help to produce a variety of diverse and different styles of wine. More details here https://jeansmullen.com/WineDiary/Index/1393

Rhone Wine Week takes place from 3rd to 10th November in venues all over Ireland. So if you’re a fan of Rhone Valley wines, keep an eye out for promotions and events. You can check out the website for full details here: www.rhonewineweekireland.com

SPEED TASTING at L'Atitude

The Most Fun Way to Learn About Wine

Friday 16th November 7.00pm 
 
As the October date sold out very quickly, we have scheduled another Speed Tasting for November 16th.   
 
Open to anyone who likes wine, socializing, having fun and, above all, enjoys a challenge.

Here’s how it works: we teach you the basics of how to taste wine and then it’s over to you – you taste 6 wines over the course of the evening – but you’ll be on the move: a different table, a different wine, different co-tasters. And here’s the fun part…..you taste all the wines blind (i.e. we won’t tell you what each wine is) - it’s up to you to work with your co-tasters to try to guess based on the information provided at the start. There’s a prize for the person who correctly identifies all 6 wines. 

Price €30pp - includes Prosecco reception, introduction to wine tasting, taster of 6 wines & canapés.  

The O'Briens Wine Festival - Winter Edition returns and we cannot wait to welcome you and our winemakers back to Dublin and Cork! With over 300 wines to try and over 60 of the world's best winemakers in attendance, this is a wine lover's event not to be missed!

Clear your diary for Saturday 17th November - Sunday 18th November in Dublin at the The Printworks, Dublin Castle and Thursday 15th November in The Clayton Hotel, Lapps Quay, Cork.



Monday, September 3, 2018

O’Brien’s Cut Deep. Over 100 Wines Now On Offer


O’Brien’s Cut Deep. Over 100 Wines On Offer


The much anticipated annual sale at O’Brien’s Wine is on since last Saturday and, as you can see, from the examples below, the cuts are mega, 36% in the case of the d’Arenberg. Indeed some price cuts go as deep as 50%.

So, if you fancy a red or a white, something from the Old World or something from the New, something dry, something sweet, O’Brien’s is well worth checking out.

d'Arenberg d'Arrys Shiraz/Grenache McLaren Vale 2015, 14.5%, €13.95 (down from 21.95) 

This bottle, with the d’Arenberg stripe, has fragrant fruity aromas. Colour is mid to dark ruby and it is fruity, spicy and fresh on the rewarding palate. Rich but not overpowering with excellent acidity playing a key role. Tannins feature also in a well textured wine. Good finish too and Very Highly Recommended. “A real go-to wine if you are ever stuck for a great bottle at a sensible price.” And they are talking about the original price!

The barrel fermented component is aged on lees to keep the wine fresh while also reducing the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending. This young wine will benefit from decanting and may also be kept for a few years. 

Did you know they use foot treading here (two thirds of the way through fermentation)? And fermentation is then completed in a mixture of new and used French and old American oak barriques. 

I didn’t know about the foot treading. Nor did I know that all d’Arenberg estate and leased vineyards are NASAA Certified for organic and biodynamic processes. These practices also ensure that yields are kept low with concentrated flavours and excellent natural acidity. And the proof is in this bottle! 


Katnook 10-Acres Malbec Coonawarra 2017, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95)

This smooth full-bodied Malbec comes not from South America nor from Southern France but from South Australia. Dark ruby is the colour and there are scents of plum with hints of vanilla. Rich flavours of juicy cherry and plum, plus mocha, abound on the palate. Some spice there too. Tannins are ripe and there’s freshness enough. The wine has power enough to smoothly match your steak, or your kangaroo! Highly Recommended. 

Katnook Estate is long established in central Coonawarra in an area once known as Fat Land, red fertile lands now called Terra Rossa. in 1890, the land was sold off in 10 acre units and vendor John Riddoch kept the best blocks for himself at Katnook HQ.

Other Suggestions

I’ll be taking a closer look at some O’Brien whites soon but in the meantime here are a few other bottles worth looking out for.

Gérard Bertrand is a winemaker always seeking out. His Cigalus Red is renowned, a biodynamic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rich and full bodied this Languedoc gem is down from €38.95 to 29.95. His Domaine de Villemajou is another stalwart, another full-bodied beauty, this a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, and Syrah, and is available at €16.95, a saving of four euro.

From Portugal’s Duoro comes the gorgeous Tons de Duorum Red, a wine I enjoyed a few months back. 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 Duoro and even better value now that the price is down from €15.45 to 11.95.

Recently on the blog, I highlighted a couple of wines by Isla and Paul Gordon from Sarabande in Faugeres. One was the Misterioso and this is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. This is now reduced as is their top wine, the Bousigue.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We are red, we are white. Samurai Dynamite.


We are red, we are white.
Samurai Dynamite

Talking here about two Australian wines new from Le Caveau, both in the Samurai series by Free Run Juice and each worth taking notice of. By the way, you won't see Samurai written on the labels but it is there in the illustrations!

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Chardonnay (Australia) 2016, 13%, €14.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. Do you remember what that tastes like? In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.

Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances and a persistent finish crowns it.

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95  

“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.

A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!
Ragondin

Les Closiers Lirac (AC) 2015, 14%, €15.00 Marks and Spencer.

On the Rhone, a town called Roquemaure,
Drank some Lirac in a noisy bar.
After lunch of Poulet l’Estragon,
On the river, I saw the Ragondin.

Lirac, on the right bank, is, since 1946, one of the 16 crus of the Rhone and Roquemaure is one of the towns in the appellation. Marks and Spencer winemaker Belinda Kleinig says this is “an opulent example” made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault and recommends trying it with steak and sausages. One thing that struck me while drinking it, not on the Rhone but here in Cork, was the reliability of Rhone wine.

Decanter are also impressed and made it a winner in last year’s awards saying it was exquisite. “Lirac is often overshadowed by better known rivals but is a source of outstanding value wines.”

This has a beautiful deep ruby colour. Aromas are also enticing, mainly black fruit with spice and herb notes. Not at all shy on the palate, generous, well balanced. Try this lovely Lirac with red meats and game and you may well become a fan as did Avignon popes John Paul XX11 and Clement V. Blessed be the winemakers. An excellent drop and Very Highly Recommended. Very good value too. 

And the Ragondin? A relatively recent import, a kind of a cross between a rat and an otter, from South America. The French don't have much regard for them; you can't eat them, though one lady told me that someone had made a passable paté.

La Fête du Baiser ("festival of the kiss") is a festival celebrated in Roquemaure on the Saturday after St. Valentine's Day. The town also claims to be the place where Hannibal and his army (including elephants) crossed the Rhone in 218BC.

Torbreck Marananga Dam - Roussane, Marsanne, Viognier - Barossa Valley, Australia, 2015, 14%, €22.00 Marks & Spencer

This is another of the Platinum winners from the most recent Decanter awards. The Mediterranean grapes each add to the excellent blend. The Roussane provides structure and finesse. The Marsanne gives palate texture and richness while the Viognier offers a pure floral lift and finishes the wine with refinement and elegance. It is certainly a winner and Very Highly Recommended.

You immediately note the bright and beautiful light gold colour. White fruits and floral notes mingle in the nose. It is rich and fruity (apricot, citrus), hints of honey too, flow across the palate, no shortage of finesse in this medium to full-bodied wine. And there is a persistent finish, the dry finalé still with pleasant echoes of the fruit.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Shiraz and Tempranillo. No exotic grapes this week!

Shiraz and Tempranillo. No exotic grapes this week!

Okay, so I've been pushing some unusual grapes your way in recent posts. This week though, it's back to a couple of familiar old reliables, Shiraz and Tempranillo. Both are mainstream.

Shiraz is the common New World name for the French Syrah while Tempranillo (I regularly omit the "p") is grown worldwide but synonymous with Spain, especially with Rioja and Ribera Del Douro regions. I think you'll enjoy these two very drinkable expressions.

Flores de Callejo Ribera del Duero (DO) 2015, 14%, €17.70 Karwig

This organic wine is 100% Tempranillo and has spent six months in French oak. Not overly surprising that it is an excellent one. The 2015 has been declared a “good, easy vintage for us, perhaps less tannic and less abundant than 2014, but the quality is high”. And a tip for you: the good news continued into 2016.

You’ll note the typical cherry colour on the 2015. Quite an intense aroma, berries red and black, cherry too. Fruity and spicy, rather silky, on the palate, followed by a persistent finish. All in all a bright fruit-driven wine, well crafted, well balanced and, at first meeting, highly recommended. The softness of this one grows on you though and I revised the “verdict” to Very Highly Recommended.

Mt Monster Shiraz, Limestone Coast (Australia) 2011, 14.5%, €17.35 Karwig Wines

The Mount Monster wines are produced by the Bryson family who also do the Morambro Creek and Jip Jip Rocks labels. French and American oak has been used with this particular Shiraz but sparingly, the better to ensure that “maximum fruit expression is retained in the final wine”.

Colour is a pretty deep purple. Blackberry and plum on the nose with a bit of spice too. That policy with oak has paid off and there is no shortage of fruit on the palate, a little spice too. Sweet tannins add to the softness and all elements combine in a generous finish. Highly Recommended.

When wine-maker Brad Rey visited Cork a few years back he was thrilled with the 2008 version, thrilled that the minimum oak policy had worked so well. He said it may be served slightly chilled. “It is light fruit, blueberries and raspberries and the tannins are fruit tannins. This is about balance and reminds me of the joven I used to make in Spain.”


Monday, February 6, 2017

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting. Classics and New Wave Impress

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting
Classics and New Wave Impress
I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended!


Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA, said:  We hope this new section adds an extra dimension to this year’s event. Having looked at the nominations, these wines really do highlight the diversity of Australian wine and reinforce the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer.” 

The promise, and it was kept, was that “great classic wines from the likes of Cullen, Clonakilla and Bindi will be on show, plus new-wave artisans like Jauma, Ochota Barrels and Gentle Folk”.  

So the signs were good as I arrived at the Royal Hibernian Academy and sought out the Focus Table. And I made a sparkling start with the House of Arras ‘EJ Carr Late Disgorged’ Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003. Fresh and vibrant, an amazing sparkling wine.

Then followed a string of young Rieslings, including the Josef Chromy ‘SGR’ Tasmania Riesling 2016 with an ABV of just 7.5% and a delicious Skillogalee Clare Valley 2015 by Dave Palmer, “mineral, dry and crisp” as noted by Gavin Ryan from Kinsale’s Black Pig who selected it.

The Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon 2011  was superb, “intense and complex, but elegant and refreshing” noted Martin Moran. It was all good around here and the standard was maintained by the Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner, the grapes picked in the cold of the night to retain flavour and freshness.

Maximum drinkability and enjoyment is the aim of the producers of the Gentle Folk Forest Range Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015, the first of the reds and the first of Ballymaloe's Colm McCan’s selections for the table. I reckon the producers got it right as did Colm.

There were quite a few Syrah and Shiraz at this point, all very good including the Payton and Jones ‘Major Kong - Planet of the Grapes’, Yarra Valley 2015. My favourite though was the blend: De Bortoli ‘La Boheme Act Four’ Yarra Valley Syrah Gamay, imported by Febvre and a Liam Campbell pick. 

The Colm McCann selection, Jauma ‘Audrey’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, is produced biologically and intrigued with its “cider-y” notes.

Some excellent Grenache on the table too including Ochota Barrels ‘The Fugazi Vineyard’ McLaren Vale 2015, the Willunga 100 McLaren Vale 2015, and the Cirillo ‘1850 Ancestor Wine’ Barossa Valley 2011. The Cirillo was chosen by Ian Brosnan of Ely and he admitted that, until recently, he had never tasted Grenache of this quality.

And quality too, at a very good price, in Kevin O’Brien’s Kangarilla Road Terzetto, a McLaren Vale blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo. It is a favourite of mine, was chosen by Liam Campbell and is available at O’Brien Wines.

Perhaps the best blend of the lot came towards the end: the Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ Margaret River Cabernet Blend 2014, imported by Liberty Wines and nominated by Gavin Ryan who has fond memories of enjoying it at a full moon harvest party in Margaret River.

Time then for a chat at the Liberty Wines stand with Garry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates and a tasting of their sweet wines before heading into the general wine area.

Here we soon met up with Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines who import the Kelly’s Patch range to Ireland and we hope to link up in Cork soon and find out more about the company.

Having concentrated on the Focus Table we missed out on many stalls, including McGuigan where they were tasting the impressive Founder’s Series that I enjoyed in Kinsale a few months ago.

Hard to go wrong with the Deakin Estate and Katnook Wines that are imported by Findlater (and available in Cork in Bradley's and other outlets). 

Next time I'm up in North Main Street, I'll be looking at some of the Penfolds that Laura introduced me to at the Findlater’s stand. Both the Bin 2 South Australian Shiraz Mataro (that is what the Australians call Mourvedre) 2012 and the Bin 28 South Australian Shiraz 2011 impressed.

With Marcus (Liberty Wines)
Been writing this and wondering how the Australians get to name their wines. Heard a good story from Michael at the Lanchester Wines stand as we sampled the excellent ‘Don’t Tell Gary’, a McPherson Shiraz 2015 from the Strathbogie Ranges. 

This wine is a labour of love - one the accountants didn't know about.  In 2014, winemaker Jo Nash discovered an exceptional parcel of Shiraz from the Grampians which she gently crushed, then tucked away in some ridiculously expensive French oak barrels to age for 12 months.  

All the while, she was urging her fellow employees: “Don’t tell Gary”. No one did tell Gary, her boss. Now the wine speaks for itself - minimal intervention, purity of fruit, Shiraz at its best and Jo has been given free rein to investigate other possibilities in the vineyard!
John (left) and Michael at Lanchester Wines
See also earlier article on great selection of fortified sweet wines at the tasting here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tawny. Muscat. Topaque. Top Sweet Wines from Australia.

Tawny. Muscat. Topaque.
Top Sweet Wines from Australia.

Australia’s wine industry began with sweet fortified wines and the stickies were in great form at the Australia Day Tasting last Monday in Dublin’s Royal Hibernians Academy.

I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended.
Chris Pfeiffer

It included three sweet wines so I had to be patient, working my way through the white and the red before getting my hands on them. The d’Arenberg ‘Nostalgia Rare’, a McLaren Vale Tawny, more tawny port style than ruby, according to Liam Campbell’s note, was delicious. McCan’s choice, the Skillogalee ‘Liqueur’ Clare Valley Muscat NV, from Dave and Diane Palmer, poured slowly from the stubby bottle, a sweet stream, sweet but with balance.



And it was the Pfeiffer Wines Rutherglen Muscat NV, a Martin Moran pick, with its heady complexity and orange notes that was my favourite of the trio.

And there were more from the Rutherglen area at the Liberty Wine table, sipped as we chatted with Gerry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates. First up was the Chambers Rosewood Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge NV (€18.99) and the direct comparison was with the ‘Old Vine’ Rutherglen Muscat à Petits (34.99).

The first is unctuous and rich, yet balanced. The ‘Old Vine’ , with orange, raisin and floral aromas, and a concentration of riches on the amazing palate, and again that balance. Both delicious but, if feeling flush, go for the Old Vine which has had the benefit of going through their specific Solera System.


Back then to visit Chris and Robyn Pfeiffer at their stand and, first to try their Topaque Rutherglen Muscadelle NV (previously called Tokay). “This is 100% Moscatel. It is well ripened. There is plenty of accumulated sugar but we don't lose the fruit.” And this luscious flavour-full wine is another stickie gem.

On a previous visit to Cork, Chris revealed that the table wines “pay” for the fortified wines which are regarded as “an accountant’s nightmare, because they tie up so much capital”. Fortunately, thanks to people like Chris, the accountants don't always have their way. “Fortified wines are undervalued...they deliver great punch for your pound!”

Colm picked a good one.
And, on that occasion, at The Hayfield Manor, I had the pleasure of sampling the even rarer Pfeiffer Grand Muscat. It is twenty years old and has spent most of that time in barrel. “It is a very special occasion wine (like old Cognac). It is very complex and you don't need much.”

That left me wishing for a tasting of their Rare Muscat, four years older than the Grand. “Like to get a  sip or two of that sometime”, I said to myself that night. And it finally happened in the RHA when Robyn produced a bottle and we drank the amazing wine, clinking our glasses in honour of the departed Joe Karwig, the wine-person’s wine-person who left us too soon (in late 2015). A fitting end to my stickie excursion at the Australia Day Tasting.
Rich and rare
Robyn Pfeiffer and Johnny McDonald