Showing posts with label Chardonnay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chardonnay. Show all posts

Friday, September 8, 2023

This Gru-Vee will get even the weariest of spirits moving again!

This Gru-Vee will get even the weariest of spirits moving again!

Stagård Urban.GV Grüner Veltliner 2022, 12% ABV

RRP: €21.80. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

Urban, a fresh and lively Gruner Veltliner, is made from fruit of vineyards that are in some of the steepest locations of the western Kremstal in Niederösterreich (Austria).

This Gru-Vee (as it is sometimes called, not to universal approval!) has a strong citrus colour. Many micro-bubbles cling to the bowl of the glass. The nose gives apple and lime. It is indeed fresh and lively on the palate with almost a spritzy lime and grapefruit flavour with pepper traces and a crisp refreshing finish.

I like the way the Stagård website puts it: ““And he's so alive, he'll get even the wearyest of spirits moving again”.  Highly Recommended. 


Check my growing list of top wines for 2023


Check out my Good Value Wine List here


The current owners, Dominique & Urban, made their early reputation with exciting interpretations of Riesling.  Looks like they are doing the same with Grüner Veltliner if this beautifully made wine is anything to go by. They also produce a rosé in the Urban series, all organic and vegan. They have pursued an organic approach to the vineyards and cellar since 2006.

Their philosophy is to combine the characteristics of the grape variety with the natural conditions of the region and the vineyards. The wines are vibrant and distinguish themselves mainly by two factors: spontaneous and slow fermentation and extended time on the lees. “Above all,” says Urban, “we trust in time.” This allows each wine to find its own individual rhythm and equilibrium. These are true wines of terroir …. delightful to drink.

Stagård is an unusual name in these parts and came from Urban's father, who originally hailed from Sweden. But the history of Lesehof Stagård is as old as the town of Krems where it is situated: The "Lesehof der Tegernseer" was an old German abbey, first mentioned in official documents in 1424; its cellar dates back even further, to the year 1000. The estate passed into private hands in 1786.

Friday, August 18, 2023

An excellent Chardonnay from Austria. Beck’s the best.

 An excellent Chardonnay from Austria.

Beck’s the best

Judith Beck Chardonnay Austria 2022, 12.5% ABV, 

RRP: €21.95 Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

“The region around Lake Neusiedl (in Austria) is particularly suited to cultivate Burgundian varieties and provides optimum conditions for Chardonnay.”  - Le Caveau.

Winemaker Beck is brief, to the point: “..handpicked grapes, whole bunch pressed, natural fermentation in old Barriques, 6-7 months ageing on the lees.”

Fruity, Aromatic

We have an excellent and delicious Chardonnay on our hands here! The light gold colour with tints of green is a good indication of its youth, and the micro-bubbles on the glass suggest that it has been aged on the lees, which gives it a creamy texture and complexity. The fruity nose of peach and apple is also a classic characteristic of the variety, and the full-bodied palate with good acidity and a long finish makes it a very enjoyable wine to drink.

A Chardonnay from Austria? I was a little surprised when I first came across this wine about six years ago but have come to expect the high standard now. It is harmonious from start to finish. Very Highly Recommended. Try with fish or poultry dishes or pasta or on its own.

In Brief

  • Colour: Light gold, tints of green
  • Nose: Fruity, with notes of peach and apple
  • Palate: Full-bodied, with creamy fruit, good acidity, and a long finish
  • Food pairing: Fish, chicken, pasta dishes
  • Grape: Chardonnay

At this point, Judith Beck is on my short list of favourite winemakers. Here she explains how they get the best from their whites: Due to the warm climate and the very light soils, we usually have perfect physiological ripeness at an early stage. Acidity levels can be quite low. That’s why we like to work with skin contact on our whites to give them extra structure. The whites are fermented and matured in large wooden casks or old Barriques. This and the relatively long maturation on fine lees results in marked varietal characteristics as well as lasting fruitiness and aroma complexity. Wines definitely suitable for bottle ageing of several years.


Check my growing list of top wines for 2023



Check out my Good Value Wine List here


They decided in 2007 to convert to biodynamic viticulture with the help of the expert Dr. Andrew Lorand. Keeping the vines naturally healthy includes cover crops, care for biodiversity, fertilizing with organic humus, manual labour, considering moon cycles for the working processes, and many other details.

You’ll see lots of wildflowers and weeds and grasses growing in the vine rows here. “We welcome everything that buzzes here” so note those bug hotels around. If you visit in the autumn, you may well see them digging in the cow horns. 

And there are a few by-products. Obviously, the hens that wander around lay eggs. Not so obviously, the same kettle used in the preparation of herbal tea as a plant resistance improver is used to make their beers including a Pale Ale and Punk Pils.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Looking for superb Chardonnay? We’ve got you covered!

 Looking for superb Chardonnay? We’ve got you covered!

Domaine Corsin Mâcon-Villages (AOP) 202, 13% 

RRP €26.99 Mannings Emporium. The Cinnamon Cottage Cork

This unoaked Mâcon is bright gold with refreshing citrus fruit on the palate and a long finish.

The nose is inviting and expressive, something magical about the lovely citrus notes. The aromas go on to the end, joined on the palate by more delightful fruit (peach and apricot). And our light gold wine - you also spot green tints - continues on its merry way, balanced by a refreshing acidity, to a very satisfactory finalé indeed.

Serve as an apéritif and with starters along with pork meats and goat cheese. The producers recommend a serving temperature of between 11°and 13°C. One of the best Chardonnays I’ve come a cross in a long while. Very Highly Recommended.

This was a good vintage in the Mâconnais and the harvest took place under perfect conditions; both yields and quality were excellent. The fruit for this wine come from vineyards around the villages of Davayé and Solutré, with a north-easterly exposure and an altitude between 200 and 280 metres. The Chardonnay vines are rooted in clay-limestone soils. The Mâcon-Villages plot “Les Prés Cousins”, is one of the oldest vineyards in Davayé, with an average vine age of 30 years.

Domaine Corsin, now in its fifth generation, has established an excellent reputation for making wines in Saint-Véran and Pouilly-Fuissé since 1864. They were among the first to label wines as Pouilly-Fuissé and Mâcon Blanc.

Innocent Bystander Chardonnay Yarra Valley 2021, 13% 

RRP €28.99 Mitchell & Son. O'Donovans Off Licence. Drink Store. The Wicklow Wine Co. World Wide Wines

This year marks the golden anniversary of Australian Chardonnay. With varietal labelled Chardonnay first produced back in 1972, I thought It would be a good time to try at least one example of modern Australian Chardonnay.

Colour of this Yarra Valley wine is a light straw. Aromas, not overly powerful, are a pleasant melange of pear, apple and citrus along with floral elements.  And the crisp and dry palate follows the same criterion, nothing like the big buttery Chardonnay that the Aussies sprang on the world three or so decades ago, rather it is a supple presence on the palate, beautifully citrus and stone fruit flavours with a youthful acidity delivering balance and a dry and satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

This sophisticated and complex wine, bursting with vibrant stone fruit character and a hit of zingy citrus, is one to seek out and enjoy. Pairings? Simple. “Great paired with people” says the label. More serious recommendations are Paella del Mar, BBQ chicken with fresh coriander salsa verde, smoked salmon and brie frittata. Then there’s fiction, fantasy and a little romance.

Innocent Bystander add: Yarra Valley Chardonnay is a queen amongst wines; sophisticated, serene and perfectly poised. A variety whose remarkable winemaking heritage combines with regional youth and vitality to deliver a rewarding, multi-faceted wine able to satisfy a thirst or take to the table.

The year 2021 was the tale of two seasons. Leading up to harvest it was very wet and cool. Then only weeks before picking the sun came out and led to fully ripe and flavoursome Chardonnay with excellent natural acidity.

This winery changed hands in May 2016, with a family company, Brown Brothers (should probably be called the Brown Sisters nowadays), taking over. Geoff Alexander joined the Brown Family Wine Group as Assistant Winemaker in 2005. In October 2007, Geoff was promoted to the position of Winemaker and is now responsible for a portfolio of red, white, sparkling and fortified wines at a range of price points including the Innocent Bystander brand. He is particularly interested in the development of new varieties and wine styles, something for which the Brown Family Wine Group is rightly famous. A company to look out for then!

Monday, May 31, 2021

A Couple Of Excellent French Wines To Consider, from Burgundy to Bouche du Rhone

A Couple Of Excellent French Wines To Consider, from Burgundy to Bouche du Rhone

Cowboy of the Rhone Delta

Domaine Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Chardonnay  Couteaux Bourguignons (AC) 2018, 13%

€19.40 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Light gold is the colour of this Chardonnay from Burgundy. Citrus and floral notes in the aromas. A citrus-y tingle as it hits the palate, an excellent acidity.  This fresh and lively wine, a wonderful drop indeed, is very well made and Very Highly Recommended. The wine is fermented in 1-, 2- and 3-year-old 400-l oak barrels, where it stays for a period of 10 months and we benefit beautifully because of it. The wine is not fined and only lightly filtered. The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of around nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines.


Le Caveau say: Harvested manually, neither filtered nor fined, the wines are classic and expressive with distinct terroir-influenced personalities.

Maison Ambroise is a long established, small négociant house, who operates on 21 hectares of their own vineyards and purchase grapes from another 3. They own vines in Prémeaux, Nuits-St-Georges, Ladoix, Meursault, the hill of Corton, Vosne-Romanée (with some Grand Cru Echezeaux!), Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Beaune and as far as Saint-Romain. Bertrand Ambroise has been a key figure in the development of the estate and this wine is named for his grand-daughter.

Some official info from the area: This appellation Coteaux Bourguignons, created in 2011 covers red, white, and rosé wines, grown over four départements. The Coteaux Bourguignons appellation covers wines that can be blended or come from a single varietal, and which can use some more old-fashioned varietals. The word rosé can be replaced by the word Clairet.

This Bourgogne blanc is very adaptable at the table. It makes it a delicate and tasty pre-dinner drink while its wide-ranging and persistent aromatic spectrum (thanks to the Chardonnay grape) makes it a team player in the kitchen, especially with fish and shellfish. Its native power enables it to prevail over onion tarts as well as over a wide variety of soft and hard cheeses such as Brie, Vacherin, Saint-Nectaire, Mont-d’Or, Beaufort, Comté and all varieties of Gruyère.

Serving temperature: 11 to 13°C.

Saint-Cyrgues, Saint-Cirice 'Syrah - Grenache’ VdP du Gard (IGP) 2019, 13.5%

€14.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Cherry red in colour, this blend from Costiers de Nîmes is produced with 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Marselan and 10% Merlot. Cherry and raspberry in the aromas. 'Saint Cirice' is the estate's entry level red and is rich and a little spicy. A good finish too.

Costières de Nîmes is in the Rhone delta and has those rounded pebbles (decent sized stones!), indeed the terroir is very close to that of Côtes du Rhone. It is well known over the decades for producing good wines and is one place in France where you can get exceptional value and this Highly Recommended bottle is an excellent illustration!

Le Caveau sum it up well: It will have broad appeal and would be a perfect choice for a house wine, or for any occasion where the need for a pleasurable drop and a keen price are essential.

St Cyrgues is an estate with vineyards along the southern slopes of the Costières de Nîmes which has a history of vine cultivation dating back centuries, and it was bought in 1991 by a young Swiss couple, Evelyne and Guy de Mercurio, and is run along organic lines.

Quite a versatile wine at the table. Suggestions noted are to serve it with wild mushroom risotto, gardiane ( a local stew made from smoked bacon, black olives and garlic) or a chunk of tomme cheese. Should perform well when matching up with roasted or barbecued meats so would do well during your Sunday lunch.

Nimes is the major city in the area in the eastern Languedoc, the city where denim (de Nimes) was invented. If you go to see the local bullfights (spectacular action fests where the athletes are more at risk than the bulls) you’ll note that the people involved with the bulls and the horses (paraded through the town before the spectacle), are kitted out in

denim just like your cowboy.

Under Pont du Gard - definitely not a cowboy

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Two highly recommended wines to savour. A Hawkes Bay Chardonnay and a Touriga Nacional from the Dão

 Two highly recommended wines to savour. 

A Hawkes Bay Chardonnay and a Touriga Nacional from the Dão

Trinity Hill “Gimblett Gravels” Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2017, 13%, 

RRP € 34.99 Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellar; C Morton & Sons; The Corkscrew;; World Wide Wines

Colour of this New Zealand Chardonnay is a bright mid-gold. Aromas are fruity, grapefruit and lemon and no shortage of floral notes. Quite stunning on the palate where, along with the minerality, you again meet the citrus accompanied by a lively natural acidity. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in 500 litre oak puncheons followed by a further four months in tank on lees has enhanced the experience, including the texture. 

Delicate, rich and elegant this beauty finishes long. It is a very distinctive, harmonious Chardonnay, is closer to cool Burgundy rather than the rest of the (warmer) New World, and is Very Highly Recommended. Try with Pork (including belly), rich fish (salmon, trout, tuna), and poultry.

The year 2017 was a very good one in the Hawkes Bay area, a moderate spring with low frost risk and generally good flowering led to an extremely dry and warm summer, recording above average temperatures in January and February before rainy weather came in late February followed by humid conditions with heavy rainfall from March to May.

Importers Liberty: Winemaker Warren Gibson has been with Trinity Hill since 1997. He is also in charge of the 80 hectares of vineyard owned by Trinity Hill and knows Hawkes Bay and the Gimblett Gravels exceptionally well. The wines reflect this. Warren and his team make wines that show the best of what Hawkes Bay and the Gimblett Gravels can produce. The wines have an elegance, balance, drinkability and precision of flavour that makes them a joy to drink.

The gravelly soils resulted from a flood in 1876 when the Ngaruroro River changed its course and a vista of gravel was left behind. Probably best known for red wines. But Chardonnay grown here has distinctive floral notes and pronounced minerality on the palate. 

The Gravels have been described as “the most famous single vineyard in New Zealand”. And from these gravels come surprising wines. It is now a highly sought-after sub-region renowned for the quality and Trinity Hill was one of the first to plant grapes on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay in 1993. And soon after Warren Gibson arrived.

Quinta Dos Carvalhais Touriga Nacional DAO (DOC) 2017, 13.5%

RRP € 31.99 Baggott Street Wines, Lucey’s - The Good Food Shop,

Info on the label is brief and to the point

Complexity 4/5; Tannins 3/5; Body: 4/5; Fruity: 4/5; Oak: 4/5.

Pair with: Seafood, fish, chicken.

12 m in oak.

Serve at 16-18 degrees.

This intense, complex and elegant Touriga Nacional from the heart of the Dão has a dark ruby colour, slighter lighter at the rim. Aromas hint of its black fruit and the well-integrated spice from its 12 months residence in oak. Vibrant dark fruit and spice again on the palate and more besides. Great depth, acidity too and smooth, harmonious all through to the persistent finish.

The Touriga Nacional is a much loved indigenous variety but you rarely see it, in these parts, on a solo run. Quinta dos Carvalhais are credited with spearheading the quality renaissance of wines from the Dão in the early ‘90s. And it is located in the heart of the Dão. The 105-hectare estate, with 50 hectares under vine, was purchased by the Guedes family in 1988. They invested a huge amount into improvements in both the vineyards and the winery.

And part of that improvement is a series of single varietals from indigenous grapes. Along with the Touriga Nacional, look out for Encruzado and Alfrocheiro. While our bottle is single varietal, some three different batches of Touriga Nacional grapes were used in this Highly Recommended wine, each of which was harvested separately.

This wine is aged for 12 months in used and new 225-litre French oak barrels. The final blend was made to fully express the high quality of the Touriga Nacional, as well as the distinctive character of the Dão region. Serve at a temperature between 16ºC-18ºC. Pairings advised for this “Very gastronomic and perfect for meal-times” wine are “with dishes such as octopus à lagareiro, oven-roasted pork and mushroom risotto”.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Two Lovely Whites from the southern half of France

Two Lovely Whites from
 the southern half of France

Terroir Feely “Luminosité” 2016, 13.5%, €19.00 Mary Pawle

The fruit for Luminosité is grown and the wine’s bottled by Sean and Caro Feely in Saussignac in Bergerac (next door to Bordeaux). They pack a fair bit of info onto the label: Vin de France sec, Sauvignon blanc 50%, Semillon 50%, zesty fruit, luminosity of nature, organic and biodynamic, hand-harvested, indigenous yeast, unfined, vegan friendly.

Light straw colour. Aromas of quince and gooseberry. Zesty flavours on the palate, quite intense, with a pleasant astringency, lovely mouthfeel too (has this been on its lees for a spell?), and a persistent finish. What’s not to like?

This Irish-South African couple “are passionate about the environment” and I think you can taste the difference here, without any funky stuff in either aroma or flavour. Highly Recommended. Find out more about the Feelys here - they have quite a lot to offer if you are visiting the area. 

Jacques Frelin “La Marouette” Chardonnay Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2018, 13%, €13.30 Mary Pawle

Colour of this organic Chardonnay from the South of France is a light straw. Pleasant floral aromas of modest intensity. This is a fresh one, peach and citrus flavours with a lively acidity to help at the table. Ideal as an aperitif or with a few grilled sardines. The label also indicates a match with shellfish and sole meuniere. Serve at 8-10 degrees for best results. 

For over thirty years now, Jacques Frelin has been at the forefront of the organic wine movement in France. While organic is often associated with small, this is not the case with Frelin who has vineyards all over the country including the Languedoc where this wine comes from, “very popular with our customers” says importer Mary Pawle and I can see why. Highly Recommended. Well priced too.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Distinctive Wines From Jura and Vinho Verde

Distinctive Wines From Jura and Vinho Verde

Rijckaert Chardonnay Arbois (AOC) 2018, 13.5%

Colour is a light to mid straw. Nose is fairly intense with floral and fruity elements. And the refreshing fruit with minerality and a superb acidity is the highlight of the fresh palate. Terrific wine with a lip-smacking deep-reaching finalé. The notes that came with the box declared it “in line with great Burgundy whites”. Oh yeah? Oh yes! Very Highly Recommended.
Wine Mason, who collaborate with Bradley’s, tell us that Domaine Rijckaert has small holdings in both Jura and Macon. Under owner and winemaker Florent Rouve, the Domaine produces tangy, lemony, stony and mineral Savignin ouillé which ages well. The Chardonnays from both Jura (Arbois is in the Jura) and Macon are very fine, spending a long time on lees without stirring and are fermented and aged in older oak barrels.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that there such a strong similarity between the Jura and Burgundy as the viticultural soils of both come from the same geological stage, more than 150 million years old: the Jurassic (think Jurassic Park!).

The website has a few food pairing hints: Jura trout with butter and flaked almonds; Thick fillet of wild tandoori-inspired salmon; plus oysters, octopus, snails, Peking Duck.

Cazas Novas Avesso Single Variety Vinho Verde (DOC) 2018, 13%

Very pale straw colour in this single variety Vinho Verde. Pleasant aromas, peach, citrus and floral. Barely a sign of the spritz that you may be expecting with a Vinho Verde but the fruit is lively (citrus and apple), the acidity is also engaging. 

All in all, a fresh and friendly wine and should be a good pairing with a plate of sardines if you’re on holidays in Portugal and very acceptable as an aperitif in any country. Could also pair well with a Lobster Roll from Sage or The Lobster Man (Midleton Farmers Market). Serve at 8-10 degrees. Highly Recommended.

The Avesso, by the way, is a wonderful semi-fragrant variety which has real weight and flavour but we don’t see it solo, as here, very often. It is grown in Northern Portugal and is sometimes touted “as the rising star of Vinho Verde”. Other white grapes that can turn up in the local blend include Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura.

Bradley’s Mixed Box #2 (is a collaboration with Wine Masons) and consists of Niepoort Ritual DAO along with two other reds, a Horizon de Bichot Pinot Noir and a Walter Massa Barbera. The three whites are the Rijckaert Arbois Chardonnay, this Cazas Novas Vinho Verde, and a Venture Riesling. Total cost is €125.00. Sorry, I don’t have confirmed individual prices but you should get the Vinho Verde for around 15 euro, the Arbois for about 25.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Trio Of Interesting Whites To Enjoy. Sancerre. Sauve. Pay D'Oc.

A Trio Of Interesting Whites To Enjoy


Jacques-Frelin Sancerre (AOP) 2018, 12.5%, €26.60 Mary Pawle Wines

Sancerre is a small wine district in the Loire Valley, famous for its crisp, aromatic white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. This one has a light gold colour with a tint of green. The pleasant aromas of this organic wine are both floral and mineral with gooseberry. A bracing acidity makes the taste buds sit up and take notice and what they notice is the apple and pear and citrus flavours, nothing over the top, all’s in balance. 

As it happens, there is a famous goats cheese (Chavignol) in the Loire Valley, a perfect match for the wine, which will also go well with fish and seafood. I’m certain the likes of Ardsallagh and St Tola would also pair well with it. Very Highly Recommended. Serving temperature is 10-12 degrees.

For over thirty years now, Jacques Frelin has been at the forefront of the organic wine movement in France. While organic is often associated with small, this is not the case with Frelin who has vineyards all over the country, in the Languedoc (where he is headquartered), in Gascony, in the Rhone and the Loire.

Fasoli Gino “Borgoletto” Soave (DOC) 2018, 12.5%, €15.55 Mary Pawle Wines

Mary Pawle imports quite a few well-priced wines and this 100% organic Garganega is one of them. It has a light straw colour, a pleasant bouquet both floral and fruity. Fresh and fruity on the palate, quite full-bodied, no shortage of acidity, with a long and dry finish. Highly Recommended.

The producers are also obviously very happy as they say, on the label, that it is “an ode to the terroir”. It is indeed a lovely easy-drinking wine and Fasoli Gino produce more Borgoletto than any other wine in their range. 

Their back label has most of the info you need, nicely and economically laid out: Vino Biologico. Hand picked 100% Garganega. Drink up to three years. And their social media addresses are also listed.

A dry, crisp, fruity white wine, Soave's naturally refreshing appeal led it to phenomenal popularity in the second half of the 20th century (pretty sure it was our wedding wine back in the day!). say it “is arguably the most famous white wine DOC in Italy”. But I think, most current Irish wine-drinkers would nominate Pinot Grigio as the most famous Italian white.

Domaine de Brau Chardonnay Pays d’Oc (IGT) 2018, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle

Colour is a lovely mid-gold. Fairly intense aromas of white fruit and a hint of honey. A pleasant burst of tropical fruit finds it way across the palate, rich and round, with an almost creamy mouthfeel it finishes well with increasing citrus notes. Lightly oaked and organic, this fresh and surprising Chardonnay is Very Highly Recommended. Well priced too and that’s a bonus!

This is made from 100% Chardonnay and fermented and matured in oak. A great food wine! Serve fresh at 10 - 12°C, with white meat, poultry and fish, grilled or in sauce.

Gabriel and Wenny Taris, of Chateau de Brau, are too close to the hard Languedoc ground to get carried way with romantic cliches - it is not sunshine all the way: "Not all vintages are exceptional. There are the weather conditions. And the weeds that we will never overcome. And the little beasts and larger animals who demand their share."

That they share with the little and large of the local animal world gives you the clue that the work here is more in cooperation with nature than against it.