Showing posts with label Barossa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barossa. Show all posts

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Greywacke and John Duval. Two Cracking Wines from Marlborough and The Barossa. Do you know the Arneis grape?

Greywacke and John Duval. Two Cracking Wines from Marlborough and The Barossa

John Duval, `Plexus` Marsanne/Roussanne/Viognier, Barossa 2019, 12.5%

RRP € 28.99 The Corkscrew; Baggot Street Wines;

Vibrant light start colour with hints of green invites you to take this Rhone inspired white a little further. And then you experience rather intense aromas of honeysuckle and stone fruit (including rich ripe peach).  Well structured and balanced, you continue to enjoy the ride, the complex palate packed with pure fruit, the six months in oak adding to the vibrancy of the fruit. 

I’ve long been a fan of Rhone white grapes, especially Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, the three in this blend. Now even more of a fan. Very Highly Recommended.

All varieties were gently pressed. The pressings were then combined with the free run juice and cold settled. Fermentation commenced entirely in stainless steel tanks with some of the Marsanne and Viognier (9%) completing fermentation, and then maturation, in puncheons until bottling in late August. The remaining Marsanne (50%) and the Roussanne (41%) were matured on lees in tank until bottling to enhance the structure and texture of the finished wine.

From a family boasting four generations of South Australian vignerons, John Duval is one of the world’s best known winemakers. After 28 years with Penfolds, including 16 years as Chief Winemaker, John launched his own label in 2003 - a new challenge that would allow him to be involved first hand from vineyard to glass, and provide an opportunity to build something for his family.

Growing Rhone varieties is a no brainer in the Barossa. The Valley has a Mediterranean climate with warm-climate vineyards. And so a red Rhone was the first Plexus: “Our affinity for working with old vine Barossa Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvédre began with John’s time at Penfolds, and continues with this wine - the first to be released by John Duval Wines from the inaugural vintage in 2003.”

 “The aim of Plexus is to express a wide spectrum of fruit flavours, whilst ensuring seamless integration of the contrasting characters of the three varietals. Shiraz provides rich dark fruits and mid palate weight, whilst Grenache delivers a bright flavour spectrum of red fruits and spiced notes. Old vine Mourvèdre is integral to the blend, ensuring a good firm backbone of savoury tannin and a long finish.”

I drew heavily on the Wine Australia website for info on the Barossa and John Duval (including the final two paragraphs).

Greywacke Riesling Marlborough New Zealand 2019, 11.5%

RRP € 27.99 The Wine Centre Sweeney's D3 Martins Off Licence Fine Wines Fresh - Dublin outlets

Light straw is the colour of this off-dry Greywacke Riesling from New Zealand. Exotic fruits feature in the intense aromas along with  the more humble such as apple, plus a hint of pepper, and diesel in the background. The fruit flavours, with citrus exuberant, dance across the palate, a little sweetness wafting in there too. But there’s a lively acidity helping bring it all together.  There’s quite a mouthfeel too and a fantastic long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

There’s quite a lot of attention to detail involved in the production of this Riesling. Here’s a flavour: Half of the juice was inoculated in a stainless steel tank using cultured yeast, while the other half was filled into old French oak barriques, where it was allowed to undergo spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation. All of the wine was then transferred to a stainless steel tank where the fermentation was stopped, retaining 19 g/l residual sugar. The blended wine was filled into old barrels, where it remained on yeast lees for a further five months….

Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd, chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay from its inception for 25 years and instrumental in the international recognition which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc enjoys now. The name 'Greywacke' was adopted by Kevin for his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Kevin is also an accomplished wine photographer.

The Riesling grade is a relative newcomer to New Zealand, first planted in the 1970s and steadily increasing in acreage since then. Marlborough is the leading area for both sweet and dry styles (Grapes & Wine edition. 2015).

Have you heard of the Arneis grape?

Giovanni Almondo Roero Arneis “Brico delle Ciliegie” (DOCG) 2020, 13.5%

Not too many of us will have heard about this Arneis grape. Indeed in the middle of the previous century, it was on the way out of the scene. The website says it “has been rescued from the verge of extinction”. Obviously the local Barolo producers, so rich in reds, took to it as a white to be proud of and that helped the revival as has its distribution in these islands by Liberty.

Now the Arneis wines are known as Barolo Bianco and are synonymous with the Roero region where this one is produced by Giovanni Almondo.

This single vineyard Arneis has a straw gold, bright and clear. Liberty Wines MD David Gleave, alerted by their local Barolo producers, tried this a few times before deciding to import it to the UK and Ireland. Aromas and flavours are modest and pleasant with touches of apple and peach, a hint of hazelnut too. And there’s a lovely fruity crispness about the initial contact on the palate, a contact that soon proves refreshing and is satisfactory right through to the lengthy finish. Highly Recommended.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Australia 2020 Vintage. Not a great vintage for accountants but a beautiful one for winemakers.

Australia 2020 Vintage. Not a great vintage for accountants but a beautiful one for winemakers

"Not a great vintage for accountants but a beautiful one for winemakers."

That’s how veteran winemaker Virginia Willcock described the 2020 vintage at Vasse Felix where she has been part of close to 30 vintages; Virginia is, since 2006, Chief Winemaker at Margaret River’s founding wine estate. 

Monday’s webinar, organised by Wine Australia and moderated by Sarah Ahmed (The Wine Detective), also featured Louisa Rose (Chief Winemaker at 170 year old winery Yalumba in South Australia’s Barossa Valley) and Sarah Crowe (Winemaker and General Manager at Yarra Yering, one of the oldest vineyards in Victoria’s Yarra Valley).

Virginia was talking about the low yield and that was much the same account from across the vast country (Vasse Felix is about 4,000km from Canberra). Low yields yes but beautiful wines to come!

“Margaret River is a very different place”, she enthused. “Very interesting, dynamic, diverse. A unique piece of land formed millions of years ago and great surfing is one result!” The ocean, at three sides of the narrow strip of land, is a massive influence on the vines and the wines. “We have a Mediterranean  climate, cool wet winters, warm dry summers. The maritime influence is of huge significance, our ‘air conditioner’ cools the grapes and gives beautiful extra ripening time. It’s a beautiful cape, so many different areas, different characteristics. We do feel like an island here.”
Harvest 2020. Social distancing in a  Yalumba vineyard in Tasmania

And they certainly felt like it during the 2020 vintage when Covid19 arrived. “We were isolated and there was no vintage party. Our vintage casuals departed early, mainly to catch the last of the flights home. All our own hospitality had been closed down due to the virus and so the staff there helped out in the later stages of the vintage and it was great, some terrific bonding.”
Bush fires not too far away from Yalumba

Conditions over the seasons were pretty good in the area but Virginia points to the springs of 2018 and 2019  (very cool, with some hail) as having been major factors in the low yield for 2020. “Bunch numbers were down and those that survived had low weight. We didn’t get any dramatic vintage conditions. The vines were very healthy, a beautiful vintage.”

“Overall, very happy. Some beautiful whites and great reds with tannins and concentration, a phenomenal vintage for us. Chardonnay is magnificent. Sauvignon Blanc incredible. Cabernet brilliant and Shiraz great also.”

Louisa, who joined Yalumba (Barossa Valley) in 1992 and became Chief Winemaker in 2006, described her 2020 experience in the famed vineyard as “a rollercoaster of a vintage”. “Temperatures in October to December were all over the place. On November 18th, frost saw the overnight temperature drop to below zero. Two days later, as the vines were flowering, we had a 42 degree day!”

“And then the bush fires were not too far away. We were lucky here with the wind direction, kept the flames and the smoke away. Still it was a pretty horrific time.”

Luckily, the vines got a break a few weeks before the harvest. The weather got cool and stayed cool and that “refreshed” the vines. After a good ripening period, the harvest started. As expected, the yield was low, as much as 50% down in some cases. Still, like Margaret River, the quality is promising with excellent acidity a factor.

Sarah Crowe told us that Yarra Yering, in the Yarra Valley, is about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. “We are warmer than Burgundy, cooler than Bordeaux. The mountains and the Southern Ocean are major influences.”
Sarah Crowe

And it was much the same conclusion that she reported: “It was a year like none before and, I hope, like none that comes after. Quantities are lower, down by 30%, but we have lovely beautiful wines to come from this harvest, even if it was hard work. Picking was at the end of March with rainfall well above average and temperatures below average. The gumboots got a lot of use!”

The fires didn’t get close here though Covid19 did have an impact. “But we were classed as an essential business on the production side and so we were able to harvest and are pleasantly surprised at the result.”

Now, it’s over to the salespeople.  And the accountants, of course.

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!

A Couple of Decanter Winners for you!

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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

O’Brien’s July Sale. Three to Consider

O’Brien’s July Sale
Three to Consider

The monthly sales at O’Brien’s are always worth a look. I’m afraid I was a little late getting to Douglas this time. But the bottles I wanted were still there and here are three of them, from a great selection of close to one hundred! Check them out here.

Tons de Duorum, Douro (DOC) 2014, 13.5%, €15.45 (11.95 in July sale) O’Brien’s

The name is inspired by the bright colours that result from the reflections of the sun on the Douro creating different tones in the vineyard. Local grapes Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz are used; they are hand-harvested and the wine goes on to spend six months in oak.

Intense dark and red fruit aromas greet you from this ruby to violet coloured wine and the legs are slow enough to clear. 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 Douro and Highly Recommended.
Brocard La Boissoneuse, Chablis (AOC) 2013, 12.5%, €24.95 (22.95 in July sale) O’Brien’s

You really don't have to wait to get this light gold wine into your glass to appreciate the gorgeous aromas. The white fruits and some floral hints emerge from the bottle the minute you extract the cork.

The cork has a wax coating. A bit of a nuisance I thought - until I looked up this You Tube demo. Suitably instructed, I warmed the top of the wax with the palm of my hand and then extracted the cork as normal, the wax top breaking off cleanly as the cork emerged.

There is true harmony on the palate, those white fruit flavours (apple, citrus) and a charge of bracing minerality giving a superbly clean combination and a long and very satisfying finish.

The winery has respect for its ancient soils and notes the cycles of the sun and the moon, all with the aim of bringing the Chardonnay grapes to “perfect harmony”. Their organic principles have been rewarded with this Very Highly Recommended Wine. Two euros off may not be a great draw. Definitely you’ll get bigger bargains in the sale but few better wines than this. O’Brien’s themselves say it “leaves some of the best Premier Crus in its wake... a revelation”. "Not your typical Chablis," says Nicolas, the Douglas manager. But a very good one.
Bethany Creek Shiraz, Barossa 2011, 13.5%, €19.95 (€12.95 in July sale) O’Brien’s

The grapes for this excellent wine come, as is not uncommon in Australia, from their own and a number of neighbouring vineyards. Vintage commenced on 4 March at Bethany Wines, later than usual and a full month later than in 2010; the cooler temperatures resulting in slow, even ripening of the fruit and good flavour development. So, no harm done! On the contrary.

Colour is purple and there are fruity aromas, some spice too. Those red cherry characters follow through to the palate, fruity and spicy with fine tannins, a soft mouthfeel, an elegant wine that has “gained from two years careful oak maturation”. This approachable well-balanced wine is Highly Recommended. So get in quick as stocks, at this bargain price, may not last until the end of the month!

Friday, September 30, 2011


Jane Ferrari with Maurice O'Mahony (left) and yours truly at Ballymaloe


Jane Ferrari, the roving ambassador for Yalumba Wine Company (Australia), was in Ballymaloe yesterday. Despite being in the process of recovery from a recent knee operation, the indefatigable Aussie was in top form.

Busy, busy, busy. In the afternoon she spoke to the Cookery School, early evening she conducted a wine tasting and later a full scale wine dinner. And all that after a hectic few days and nights in Dublin.

Dodgy knee or not, she kept her lively show on the road. She also writes a blog and her latest post concerned the Irish game v Australia. Obviously she likes her sport and, also obviously, her sportsmen, including current favourite Ronan O’Gara.

But back to the wines, all produced in the Barossa area by the long standing family company and available here through Cassidy Wines.

Started off with the Pewsey Vale Riesling, produced in the high country above the valley floor and costing about €13.00. “This Riesling is absolutely spot on with Mediterranean-Asian crossover food,” said Jane. “It is essential to have this well chilled,” added Ballymaloe sommelier Colm McCan.

Jane then moved on to their Barossa Eden Viognier 2009, perfumed and luscious and made from super ripe grapes, handpicked. “This means the yield is halved but the wine is pretty elegant.”

The second Viognier, the Virgilius Eden Valley 2008, comes from the same 22 acre small yield vineyard. At €30.00, it is double the price of the first one. Hints of ginger in the peachy apricot aroma, it is an “unctuous and complex its best with food....complements a wide range of flavours”.

The Barossa valley floor is too hot for Pinot Noir and the Yalumba favourite is Grenache. Jane gave the winemaker’s point of view: “Grenache is easy to get along with. If you’re looking for the Diva of grapes, it has to be Viognier.”

The first Grenache was the Barossa Eden Bush Vine 2009 (€17). The fruit comes from 14 different parcels on the valley floor, mainly river sand. “It is raspberry over rosemary, berry over herb, no heat. The Number One word with Grenache is balance and this medium weight wine is a perfect match for juicy chargrilled pork chops.”

Then we moved on to the Single Site Bowden Vineyard Moppa Block Grenache 2006, darker, more cherry, more intense. This fruit comes from a tiny vineyard and 2006 was a “stellar vintage”. This is a “cracker of a food wine, ideal with roast veal, chorizo and other Spanish, Italian dishes”. Unfortunately, this gem is not available in Ireland.

Next up was their €40.00 The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz 2005. “This was originally called Galway Claret and is a bit of a specialty with us. It is the old Claret style and we are trying to keep the style alive. The Cabernet dominates the nose while the long lasting palate is down to the Shiraz. This could live forever!”

Then we moved to Shiraz and “into carnivorous territory”. Stared with the €24.00 Barossa Eden Patchwork 2008, an “old school juicy fruity middle weight”.

Next came The Octavius Old Vine 2004, a “serious heavyweight, long lasting in the mouth, great length of power and the flavours remain, ideal with meat off the bone, including venison fillets and also good with vegetarian dishes such as those featuring Shitake mushrooms”.

We finished on a sweet note with the Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier, Wrattonbully 2009, €18.00. It is a gorgeous dessert wine and Jane said cheese makers and dessert chefs “are going nuts for it. It goes well too with old fashioned desserts such as apple crumble.”

A lovely end to a lovely evening with a lovely person who entertained and informed with an abundance of down to earth fact and insight and no shortage of good humour. We cheered her off the stage and I reckon she’ll be cheering for Ronan on Sunday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Ballymaloe's Colm McCan, one of those who enjoyed last night's wine event in Electric, told me about their upcoming wine event....

Learn about the heritage, culture and wines of Yalumba
with Jane Ferrari, from Yalumba Wines, Barossa Valley, Australia
Thursday 29th September, 2011

The inimitable Jane Ferrari, is simply one of the of the world’s best wine speakers, reflecting her wine knowledge & experience, heartfelt infectious passion, and expansive personality, coupled with that laid back, straight talking, down to earth wit & humour, open soul Australian approach. 

Jane’s interests also include a lifelong passion for horses & racing, and she also makes her own olive oil from her treasured gum-studded block of Barossa land.

Yalumba was founded in 1849 by Samuel Smith, purchasing a 30-acre parcel of land just beyond the southern-eastern boundary of Angaston, Smith and his son began planting the first vines by moonlight. Samuel named his patch “Yalumba” – aboriginal for “all the land around”. Six generations and 160 years later Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery.

7.00pm Wine presentation and tasting in The Grain Store at Ballymaloe House. Jane will give a wine presentation and tutored tasting on various wines that are made by Yalumba. A great evening not to be missed. €10, booking advised.

8.30pm Wine dinner with Jane Ferrari at Ballymaloe House. After the wine tasting, Jane will give a wine dinner at Ballymaloe House – with the wines matched to the Ballymaloe Dinner menu. Over dinner, Jane will introduce and speak about the wines as they are served with each course. €75, booking essential.

Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021 4652531
Lonely Planet Top 10 Wine Weekends
Georgina Campbell Wine Award of the Year 2010
Food & Wine Magazine Top 10 Wine Experience of the Year 2010

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chardonnay winner from Curious Wines

Langmeil Eden Valley Chardonnay 2010 13%, Curious Wines €11.99, 4.5 stars

Not all plain sailing in South Australia (pic by Langmeil)

I liked this one from Curious Wines,  an excellent expression of this widely grown grape from a producer best known for its Shiraz. And it goes straight to my list of 2011 favourites.
Colour is a very pale straw and it has an inviting aromatic nose. With some of the mix spending a few months in French oak, this has a rounded user friendly mouthfeel. It is vibrant, fresh with a fruit tang and that is all carried into the decent finish.
Not too much more to say about it. Well worth the money as there is a 20 per cent discount on Australian wine for the month of August.
The Langmeil winery is based in the Barossa, adjacent to the Eden Valley, and here is some Technical Stuff from the vineyard:
2010 Eden Valley Chardonnay - Sourced from a small vineyard in the Eden Valley, this elegant wine is made from pristine, flavour ripe bunches, gently pressed and cool fermented. Most components remain un-oaked for freshness (70%) while some are finished in French oak (30%) for complexity as well as undergoing secondary malolactic fermentation to soften natural acidity. This wine exhibits fresh, full fruit flavours, fine structure and a dry finish.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Nine Lives Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008, 14.5%, stockists (€16.99 rrp) 

Full ,spicy and dark red, this Barossa has a nose of inviting dark berry. There is a terrific mix of fruit and spice on the palate and the long finish of this lively full bodied wine is along the same pleasant lines. Not surprised that the producer, Rosedale Wines, won a silver medal for this at the 2010 New World Wine Awards.

Probably didn't win any medal though for the originality of the back label which has a string of cat puns. Still they draw a smile or two and I did have a laugh at the final line: drink in moderation – then have a catnap.

Bord Bia played a leading role during the queen’s visit and plays quite a role at all times in Irish food. Picked up a pork leaflet from them about a year back and adjusted one of the recipes for this wine.

The recipe is Pork Fillet with Prunes  and the only real change was to substitute red wine for the white. Must also mention that the pork was top class, a beautiful piece bought recently from Gubbeen   at the Mahon Point Farmers Market . 

Served with a puree of parsnip and potato, I’m glad to say (and this will earn me brownie points) that the dish was marvellous and was enhanced by the Shiraz which is imported by Wine Alliance and available at these stockists.