Showing posts with label Barbera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barbera. Show all posts

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Two Highly Recommended Wines for you, a Barbera from Italy and a Vermentino from Languedoc-Roussillon.

Two Highly Recommended Wines for you, a Barbera from Italy and a Vermentino from Languedoc-Roussillon.


Valle Unite Montale Barbera Colli Tortonesi (DO) 2013, 14% 

RRP & stockists: €23.95, Le Caveau Kilkenny, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

While Nebbiolo may be the star (think Barolo!),  Barbera  is the popular everyday red wine grape in Piedmont; those wines from Asti and Alba are probably the best-known of the varietal. With high acidity and alcohol, low tannin and sweetness, Barbera is approachable and affordable. This particular Barbera has the advantage of being organic. 

Colour is a mid ruby, somewhat lighter around the edge. This may be of the 2013 vintage but the nose is fresh and complex, its ripe cherries hinting at youth rather than age. And that complexity is striking on the palate as is the typical acidity. Smooth and well balanced right to the end, some grip still there though as it lingers long. Dry in the end and very satisfactory indeed.

Pasta, veal, pork, and game are the regularly suggested pairings. Wine Folly say roasted and vegetable-driven dishes while Wine-Searcher goes for Seared rabbit livers, Thai duck noodle soup, and Roasted, herb-crusted lamb rack. I think the lamb would be my first port of call!

They also produce an excellent white. Recent review here.

Highly Recommended.


Click here for growing list of top wines for 2023


Domaine Bassac Le Vermentino du Grand Mur Nos Parcelles Côtes de Thongue 2021, 14% ABV 

A wine new to Mary Pawle list, expect to pay €20 to 21. Contact: Mary Pawle Wines 

Vermentino is mostly a grape of the Mediterranean coast, grown mostly in Italy (all over the country but most notably in Sardinia and Tuscany) and France (widely in the Languedoc-Roussillon and also in Provence). Expect citrus (lemon, lime), apples and a lively acidity. Best drunk when young.

Our wine here, part of which has been barrel fermented, comes from Languedoc-Roussillon, from the Côtes de Thongue. The vineyard is situated at Puisalicon, a small medieval village in the heart of the Languedoc not too far from Beziers, a town that rugby fans will be familiar with. Domaine Bassac is a family estate of several generations standing and much of its wine is exported. Pioneers in organic farming, current operators François Delhon (family member) and Jean-Philippe Léca have been doing it organically since 1987.

The colour is quite a light straw, shimmering bright in the glass. Light fruity and herbal notes in the aromatics. Good firm fruit flavours follow, citrus mostly with hints of tropical, and also the expected (but certainly not over the top) acidity that ensures balance.


This dry and fruity wine should pair well with pasta, vegetarian dishes, poultry, lean fish, and also as an aperitif. 

Highly Recommended


Click here for Good Value Wine List 2023


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A youthful and impressive pair, César Florido Fino En Rama and a Barbera from Piemonte

An impressive and youthful pair, César Florido

 Fino En Rama and a Barbera from Piemonte.

Bodegas César Florido Fino En Rama Pena del Aguila Jerez (DO), 15% 

€18.00 (37.5cl) 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The Palomino grapes for this Bodegas Cesar Florido Fino en Rama come from the prestigious Pago de Miraflores vineyard. The wine is aged slowly under flor in the cellar solera. From one special cask (Bota No 22) – bottled to order, making 600 halves – without filtration or fining.

Serve this in a clear wine glass and enjoy the golden colour. And that glass will also enhance the amazing briny and saline aromas and flavours, with a characteristic biscuit-y yeastiness. 

The professional advice is to drink it chilled though, personally, I’d be careful of overdoing it. I started this bottle at a cool room temperature and thought I got more out of the first glass, both in aroma and flavour, than from the second (poured after some time in the fridge). Different strokes for different folks!

Don’t rush this beauty, a sip will go a long way. I remember that tip from César Saldaña, Consejo Regulador Jerez, then (2011). While speaking at an event in Ballymaloe he said: When drinking sherry with your meal you should always have a glass of water at hand. When you want to “wash” down the food use the water and then take “a few drops” of the sherry as it goes a long way!

The en rama approach showcases a different expression of sherry’s potential. Bottled with minimal or zero filtration and released seasonally, en rama sherry offers a much closer approximation of what the wine would have tasted like in its natural state, taken directly from the cask, with all it aromatic intensity, fullness of body, and essential flavours intact. En Rama certainly broadens the already wide potential of Sherry.

En Rama is a relatively recent development in sherry as importers Le Caveau point out: Up until recently (with a few exceptions), the only viable way to taste sherry en rama was to go to Jerez, or one of the other Sherry towns in the ‘Sherry triangle’, visit the bodegas, and taste the wine poured directly from the cask. The en rama version offers the more complex drinking experience: it’s pungent and saline, with notes of yellow apple, green olives, and a hint of almond, along with a corresponding fullness of body that somehow manages to be bracingly acid-driven and fresh.”

In the early days of en rama in these parts, word went out that it must be drunk on purchase as it would rapidly spoil. In fact, whether to drink or keep is a personal choice. ‘Not all en rama wines necessarily improve, although the best wines age really well and last many years.’ - Decanter Oct 2020


GAIA Brich Piemonte (DOC) Barbera 2019 14.5% 

€18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Barbera, according to Wine Folly, is the quintessential ‘wine of the people,’ it is meant to be enjoyed young — and it’s cheap! Italy is Barbera’s original home.

The best of it, including our GAIA produced Brich, comes from the Piemonte region. Colour is a fairly deep red. Aromas are intense, plum and cherry, lots of promise here. On the palate, it is fresh-tasting (meant to be drunk young), lots of acidity. Light and lively rather than the rich and smooth that you might expect. The fruit (including touches of blueberry now) and slight spiciness from the palate continue through the long and satisfying finish. Well made (well priced too by the way) and Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau, who import the wine, say: Brich is a wonderful Barbera, grown on the hills of Montferrato in Piemonte.  On the palate, the wine feels free and natural. Brich saw a short 12-hour maceration in concrete vats, 70% destemmed, fermentation with native yeasts, aged in concrete vats for 9 months, neither fined nor filtered and a mere 2mg of SO2 added at bottling.” 

AGRICOLA GAIA is a collaboration between Fabrizio Iuli and Eric Narioo (Vino dio Anna, Les Caves de Pyrene) in hilly Monferrato region of Piedmont. The grapes for this Barbera come from the lieux-dit “La Tina”, belonging to Fabrizio’s family for generations, formerly part of their old winery. The vines are 30 years old plus, and had been abandoned for 15 years before Fabrizio took them back. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Walter Massa: Rebel Without a Label! And a 3-handed Riesling venture.

Walter Massa: Rebel Without a Label! And a 3-handed Riesling venture. 

Two very interesting wines indeed from a collaboration between Bradley's Off Licence (Cork) and Wine Masons. I got box #2 but there are a few others, probably just as interesting.

Walter Massa Terra Implicito 2018, 13%, 

Rebel Without a Label!
There’s no putting a label, other than “Independent”, on the Piedmont winemaker Walter Massa. And, aside from Italy, you won’t see any statement of origin or whether it’s organic or biodynamic on the label of this bottle. 

The Modern History of Italian Wine (Filiputti) lauds Massa as one of the influential Italian winemakers, especially in the 1980s. “To those who ask him why he does not make DOC wines, he answers that he prefers to make wines which require three ingredients: grapes, time and common sense.”

He is noted for his Barbera, called just by its place of origin Monleale, and also for recuperating Timorasso, a white grape that was on the way out in the 1980s.

Colour of this Rosso (100% Barbera) is mid to dark ruby. Inviting bouquet of small red fruit, including wild strawberry. All the fruits again and a touch of spice on a fresh and lively palate with a beautiful fresh acidity. Easy drinking and the concentrated flavours linger. 

Grapes, time and common sense have certainly been brought together here in a pleasant and harmonious amalgam. A Highly Recommended (and Very Highly Recommended with the Cannelloni from the Cork restaurant Da Mirco). That Monleale must be really something special - must keep an eye out for it!

Breuer-Mehrlein-Lundén“Riesling Venture” Rheingau 2018, 12.0%.

Light straw colour, bright and clear. Citrus fruit, minerality and my unfavourite diesel in the aromas. It’s a merry dance of fruit and acidity on the palate, both in step, and the harmony continues all the way through to a super finish. Enjoy wherever, whenever, they say on the label. Right here, right now, I say. Highly Recommended.

Three names are listed on the bottle: Breuer, Mehrlein, Lundén. The first two are the names of the two collaborating wineries while the third is the name of the winemaker at Breuer.

They say: a Riesling Cuvée, standing for lightness, a fine sweet-acidity-match presenting the Rheingau in best shape. The modern label shows the river Rhine, who characterizes our region. Together we want to tease people and present an entrance in the world of Rheingau-Wines.The Cuvée is being bottled by Weingut Bernhard Mehrlein.

Looks to me as if they enjoyed making it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy drinking it. I did, even with that the note of diesel in the aromas!

The Label:
3 names, 3 characters, 3 styles.
floral, fruity, fresh.
100% pure Rhiengau Riesling.
enjoy wherever, whenever.

Bradley's Mixed Box #2 (is a collaboration with Wine Masons) consists of the Niepoort Rotulo DAO along with two other reds, a Horizon de Bichot Pinot Noir and this Walter Massa Barbera. The three whites are Rijckaert Arbois Chardonnay (Jura), a Casas Nonas Vinho Verde, and the Venture Riesling. Total cost is €125. Sorry, I don’t have individual prices.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Obama's Wine. And Semplicemente Amazing!

A President's Wine From A King's Field. 
And An Italian Master Keeps It Simple.

via Pixabay

Adega Cachin Peza do Rei Ríbera Sacra (DO) 2017, 13.5%, €18.95

Barack Obama, no less, gave this very wine, a major boost a few years back when, thanks to his Galician wine guru, the Cachin Peza do Rei was chosen for the toast at a gala in Washington, D.C., to honour the legacy of the Hispanic community in the United States, according to the Daily Beast article

The demand for Peza do Rei bottles has skyrocketed ever since. “Obama’s wine” has been selling out. The grape is the relatively unknown Mencia, a red grape native to the north-west Spain. It thrives in this warm but wet corner of the country and is often compared to Pinot Noir.

Mid to dark ruby is the colour of this 2017. Relatively intense aromatics, mainly red fruit, herbal notes also. Light-bodied, it is smooth and juicy on the palate, flavours of redcurrant and cranberry, refreshing acidity too, a lovely minerality also, and goes on to finish well. This light dry red is Very Highly Recommended.

Le Caveau tell us this Peza do Rei is fermented and aged in stainless steel and sees no oak at all. “Try with local chorizo stew, cured meats, even the local pulpo a la galena (octopus with paprika and olive oil) is a great match.” Another source recommends it with “tomatoey meat stews”.

As well as the assumed presidential nod of approval, there is something of an earlier (much earlier) royal link. Peza do Rei is a medieval walled vineyard and woodlands estate taking its name from the Kings of León, for whom it served as an income source and private hunting retreat.

Bellotti Semplicemente Vino Rosso 2016, 14%, €21.95

A couple of  months back, in the Gallery Wine Bar in Westport,  I was enjoying this red from the late Stefano Bellotti’s winery in Piemonte. My rosso was down to its last drops  as owner Tom passed and, before I knew it, he had topped me up generously with the last bit in the bottle. That’s the kind of place this Gallery is. Generous, friendly. Just like the wine.

This red blend is mid to dark ruby in colour. Ripe red fruits in the aromas, herbal notes as well, even a hint of undergrowth (someone here mentioned dirty boots!). Vibrant and friendly on the palate, tarty fruit flavours prominent. Fresh and juicy too with a spicy dry (very dry!) finish. A simple country wine to enjoy with charcuterie and or cheese, or just as an aperitif. Very enjoyable indeed and Highly Recommended.

Bellotti Semplicemente Vino Rosso is a natural red wine that is a blend of Barbera (80%) and Dolcetto, produced by Cascina delgli Ulivi. The white Semplicemente  is terrific too. Check it out here

Cascina delgli Ulivi, according to the website, is a family winery established on a farm. Stefano Bellotti was the person who ran it until he died of cancer in 2018. He is considered one of the fathers of biodynamics in Italy: He started making natural wines in 1977 and cultivated his vineyards following biodynamic principles since 1984. Currently, it is his daughter Ilaria who has taken over the reins from her father and seeks to preserve and transmit his legacy. They suggest pairing the red with, Rice with meat, Roasts nd as Aperitif; serve at 16 degrees.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Two Outstanding Wines From Recovered Vineyard

Abandoned Vineyard Restored to Vitality and Outstanding Wines Result.

When Carlo Volpi acquired the La Zerba farm in 2003, it had been abandoned and his plan was to start from scratch. But the eminent oenologist Giuliano Noè convinced Carlo not to do so but instead to recover and restore it. The advice was taken and the eventual results are outstanding.

Volpi La Zerba Barbera Superiore Colli Tortonesi (DOC) 2016, 13.5%, €18.80 Mary Pawle
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. Ripe blackberries feature in the quite intense aromas. Light and lively and a little bit spicy on the palate. Dark red fruit flavours now prominent. Tannins hardly a feature. But there is terrific acidity here and that means it will be quite versatile with food. 
Importer Mary Pawle says it can pair well “with more than just antipasta. Works well with steak and duck or goose dishes”. The word from the producers is “salami hors d oeuvres, highly structured first courses, red meat and game dishes.” Versatile indeed. Very Highly Recommended.
Jancis Robinson, while acknowledging the popularity of the grape in northern Italy says Barbera is not intrinsically the most flavourful grape in the viticultural universe – “a vague blackberry quality plus tartness is about as close as one can come to the essential flavour of Barbera”.  Our Zerba more or less fits that description and, at just over 18 euro, is good value and well worth a try.
Colli Tortonesi is one of the dozens of DOC zones in Piedmonte and is very close to Lombardy. The Cantine Volpi company is located in one of the most beautiful wine areas in the province of Alessandria and in the Piedmont region in general. DOC ageing for this wine is a minimum of 1 year. This has had 13 months between stainless steel tank and bottle.

When Carlo Volpi acquired the La Zerba farm in 2003, it had been abandoned and his plan was to start from scratch. But the eminent oenologist Giuliano Noè convinced Carlo not to do so but instead to recover and restore it. The advice was taken and the eventual results are outstanding.
Volpi La Zerba Timorasso Colli Tortonesi (DOC) 2016, 13%, €21.50 Mary Pawle
Released from its very dark bottle, this Timorasso shows a very light straw colour. Delicately aromatic, mainly floral. Full bodied and dry, with melon flavours, it is immediately refreshing on the palate with a fresh and herby acidity. Highly Recommended.
Timorasso, says Mary Pawle, is one of the most exciting Italian autochthonous grape varieties to surface in recent years, from the Colli Tortonesi wine region in south east Piemonte, not far from Gavi in fact. “This ancient variety was brought from the brink of extinction having been reduced to just 120 hectares in 2010. Aromatic, full bodied with good acidity.” The grape is still a bit of a rarity.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On Your Bike in Italy. A Champion Wine

Vigne Marina Coppi “Sant’Andrea” Colli Tortonesi Barbera (DOC) 2015, 13.5%, €25.99 Liberty Wines 

The winery was founded in 2003 and named for Marina Coppi, the child of renowned cycling champion Fausto Coppi who twice completed the Giro and Tour de France double, 1st in 1949 and then in 1952.

The estate, which concentrates on native varieties, is in the region of Piemonte where the Colli Tortonesi is a lesser known appellation. Ten per cent Croatina has been included with the Barbera. No oak has been used and you'll note there is very little tannin.

Ruby is the colour. There are intense aromas, mainly of cherry. Much the same fruit and intensity on the palate, also excellent acidity. As smooth and rounded as you’ll get with a trace of background spice. A beautiful lingering finish too and Very Highly Recommended. Liberty also carry the Coppi I Grop, another to watch out for.

Allegrini Valpolicella (DOC) 2016, 13%, €22.49 Liberty Wines 

The Modern History of Italian Wine pays the Allegrini family, best known for their rich and powerful Amarone, quite a compliment when citing them as one of the most influential winemakers: With the Allegrini family, Valpolicella takes the form of art, of a lifestyle where the beauty and light of Italy shine through wine.

Very high praise indeed. It might be a huge leap to see the art in this particular bottle but I’m inclined to the view that there is a delicate beauty and light to enjoy. And there is also a guarantee of quality as the family were, in 2005, one of the founders of the Comitao Grandi Cru d'Italia which unites the best of Italian producers.

This Valpolicella is a light ruby colour, and bright. On the aromatic nose, cherry is to the fore. It is light, fruity, with a hint of spice. This engaging youngster is a playful companion, ideal for that favourite sunny seat in the garden. But will grow and mature a bit over the next year or two. A blend of Corvina (65%), Rondinella (30%) and Molinara (5%), with a finish of some heft, it is Highly Recommended.

Read more of the Allegrini story on the Liberty Wines blog here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fontanafredda, important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

Fontanafredda: important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

The Modern History of Italian Wine (2016), to which we'll be referring often over the next few months, picks Fontanafredda, renowned for decades for its Barolo, as a key player in Italy's wine industry. The important company now produces some 7.5m bottles a year and you can find quite a few of its products, including the Barolos, in Karwig Wines. Below are just three examples. 

Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009, 14%, €21.15 Karwig Wines

In 1858, an area close to the village of Serralunga D’Alba was registered to the King Vittorio Emanuele II. Here he indulged his passion with the commoner daughter of a drum major and it was eventually their son Emanuele Guerrieri, Count of Mirafiore, who devoted his life to making wine here, “with a very modern approach”.

Success with Barolo followed later but, after war and economic strife, the banks took over in 1931 and appointed a winemaker to take charge. In recent years, the property passed to Oscar Farinetti, “another visionary” according to the recently published Modern History of Italian wine, “who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of the brand”. 

Dressed with the colours of the estate, the Stripes series “is the central line of production by Fontanafredda”. And the Barbera for this striped bottle is grown around Serralunga.

Part of the wine is aged in large French and Slavonian oak casks, the rest stored in small barrels of medium toasted French and American oak for about a year. The two parts are blended prior to bottling.

Colour is a deep ruby. There are intense aromas of cherry and plum, notes of vanilla. Quite a striking velvety mouthfeel on this one, round with ripe and tangy fruit, hints of spice, and an excellent acidity. A very pleasant drop indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Karwig’s also do another excellent example of the grape: Renato Barbera D’Alba.

Fontanafredda Gavi (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €23.10 Karwig Wines

This is another of the vineyard’s Stripes Series and the Cortese vines from which it is produced are grown near the village of Gavi in south east Piedmont. Serve between 10 to 12 degrees and you’ll find it is ideal for starters and light meals.

It is a light straw colour with a definite green tint and micro-bubbles cling to the sides of the glass. There are fairly intense aromas, a melange of white fruit and blossom. Lively fruit flavours predominate as it rolls smoothly across the palate. It is an easy-drinking well-balanced wine with a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Fontanafredda “Le Fronde” Moscato D’Asti (DOCG) 2012, 5.0%, €9.95 Karwig Wines

This is a gorgeous moderately sweet wine, another string to the impressive Fontanafredda bow. Try it with all desserts, they encourage. I had a few of those delightful cheesecakes from Charly and tried the two together. Excellent, though I'm told it may be even better with drier cakes (e.g. panetone). And, by the way, it is also lovely on its own.

May not have much alcohol on board - yes, that five per cent is correct - but it has quite a lot going for it otherwise. It is slightly fizzy, lots of bubbles in evidence, mainly clinging to the sides of the glass, a frizzante rather than a spumante. Indeed, the low alcohol count means it can be convenient to use within a multi-course meal, either as aperitif or with dessert. I prefer to use a normal white wine glass rather than a flute.

It is aromatic (this one sage and honey) and floral, full and fruity also. Well worth trying, ideal in the garden in summer, with three or four friends. Recommended.

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