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Sunday, April 7, 2019
The first thing you’ll notice about this wine is that Garnacha is displayed prominently on the front label. This is to distinguish it from the more usual Tempranillo. El Coto has six or seven vineyards in Rioja and these grapes come from their Los Almendros vineyard.
They say that Garnacha was, for years, “a disparaged variety due to its complex viniculture, but prepared and aged in barrels matched to its delicate and complex character, it results in very pleasant wines, with a lot of fruit and a good body, very much in line with the demands of the consumer of today.”
I certainly liked it very much. It has a mid-ruby colour with a lovely sheen. Pretty intense red fruit aromas, hints of vanilla. Juicy and fruity (cherry and more), fresh with balsamic notes, good acidity, fine tannins in a long finish. A vibrant harmonious wine, easy-drinking and Very Highly Recommended.
The character of the fresh fruit has been carefully respected during its 12 months in 225-litre American oak barrels (followed by six months in bottle). It comes to you silky and velvety with good intensity. Serve at 16 to 18 degrees. Perfect, they say, with white meat, certain fish (especially cod), veal and mild cheese.
Casa los Frailes Trilogia Valencia 2011, 14.5%, €19.00 Mary Pawle Wines,
This compelling organic wine from the south east of Spain is a blend of Monastrell (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20) and Tempranillo (10) and aged for 12 months in Hungarian oak.
It has a dark ruby colour and the legs are slow to clear. Rich powerful aromas with blackcurrant perhaps the more prominent. Super concentrated flavours of ripe fruits, fresh acidity and more than a touch of spice. This layered award winner finishes dry and long. Could be kept for a few years yet but it gives great pleasure right now and is Very Highly Recommended.
Casa Los Frailes “was certified organic in 2000, being one of the very first ones in Spain. 15 years later, we are convinced that we do not only need to respect and sustain the land, but also transform it and make it a livelihood. As a result, we embrace biodynamic agriculture as an inspiration pattern and model.”
This is Spanish Wine Week in Ireland. Check here for details of the main events.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
A Trio of Excellent Reds
from Mary Pawle Wines
According to Ana Fabiano in her 2012 book, The Wine Region of Rioja, you can expect good things from the winemakers of Rioja Baja. Their spirit is “based on enormous reverence for their land, respect for the heritage of their ancestors, and a commitment to carry it forward”. By the way, she mentions Luis Jiménez as one of the producers worth seeking out in the area and we have two of his below.
Ruiz Jiménez Paisajes Rioja (DOC) 2015, 14%, €17.70 Mary Pawle Wines
This organic Rioja is an “edition especial Garnacha 2015”, special because it is 100% Garnacha, not a drop of the customary Tempranillo. It is also rather special as “100% of the creative process is in our own hands.”
It is mid to deep ruby, bright and clear, legs reluctant to clear. Aromas of sweet red fruit, hints too of its season in the oak. Fruity and dry, elegant on the palate, this well balanced wine maintains its smooth power right through to the persistent finish, tannins still a factor. Beautifully reined-in power and Very Highly Recommended.
Pago de Valcaliente Rioja 2015, 14.5%, €26.30 Mary Pawle Wines
This organic wine has a cherry red colour. Fairly intense aromas of dark and red fruit fruits, and a hint of spice. Juicy, fruity and spicy, this young wine with its smooth tannins and balancing acidity is a tasty drop indeed and Highly Recommended.
The Valcaliente vineyard is in the Rioja Baja, one of the three areas of Rioja, and the producer is Luis Jiménez. This wine, a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, is aged in a concrete egg.
Domaine Bassac Syrah Côtes de Thongue (IGP) 2015, 13.5% €13.25 Mary Pawle Wines.
Produced by a young duo that started working here in the Languedoc in 2014, this Syrah is organic. It has a nice mid ruby colour and a moderately intense nose of blackcurrant. There is a fair concentration of fruit and spice in the palate.
You’ll come across some much brasher Shiraz but this is a restrained and well-made Syrah, a rounded and a good warm wine and Highly Recommended. Importer Mary Pawle suggests trying it with Lamb Tagine.
A young enough wine but do not hesitate to open an hour or two in advance and do also decant. Well worth the effort.
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Flor de Anon Garnacha Campo de Borja (DO) 2015, 14.5%, €11.99 SuperValu
Red cherry is the attractive colour; quite light and could be mistaken in appearance for a Pinot Noir or Gamay. Nothing shy about the intense and complex mix of red and dark berries in the aromas (floral notes too). On the rounded palate it is engaging, the lingering concentrated fruit is well balanced by the acidity and the flavours fade hardly at all in the long soft finish. Easy drinking and Very Highly Recommended. Good value too, by the way.
So a quality organic from a supermarket! Whatever next? It is not the first organic from Kevin O’Callaghan and his team at SuperValu but is one that has been highly anticipated. It is produced from the fruit of 20 year old vines and you are recommended to serve it between 14 and 16 degrees.
Campo de Borja doesn’t exact spring to mind if you are asked to name a Spanish wine region. I looked it up for you! It is an inland area in the north east, some 45 minutes north-west of Zaragoza, 75 minutes south-east of Logrono (Rioja). Your Supervalu though will be easier to find!
*Just noticed, on a leaflet via our post box, that SuperValu have an interesting organic wine from the Languedoc as Wine of the Month. You can get the Grain De Bio Des Terres De Gaujac for ten euro, marked down from €12.99. Great colour, great nose, full and smooth, according to the blurb. Sounds good. Must get my hands on one.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild
This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.
This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.
Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.
Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines
Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.
Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau
No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.
The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Decanter Man of the Year 2015.
Wine drinkers can be a bit like race-horse followers. When betting, the race horse fan may follow the form, may follow the trainer, maybe the jockey, maybe a combination. Wine drinkers too have their favourite region, a favourite grape, and sometimes a favourite wine-maker. Quite a few these days are following ace Spanish winemaker Alvaro Palacios (quite a few of his wines are imported by Classic Drinks).
|Me, and a tub of Alvaro's favourite grape|
“His pioneering nature helped to rescue both Priorat and Bierzo from oblivion,” said the April 2015 edition of Decanter when they named him their Man of the Year. His current focus is on the family vineyard in Rioja Baja. He is out of mainstream Rioja, away in the far eastern corner, in what he calls “Garnachaland”. “And I’m so happy about that.”
He sure loves his Garnacha as the following quote from The Finest Wines of Rioja shows. “Through its behavior, we can see that Garnacha is a very Spanish variety - perhaps even more than Tempranillo itself. It likes the sun, the heat, the stress from drought.”
“Alvaro has great affection for his vineyards and a relationship with the wines and the soil. That is where his passion lies. His great joy comes from growing old vines and maximising their ability and expression”, according to Ana Fabiano in Rioja, a recommended book on the region.
In the hilly vineyards of Priorat, he made his name with L’Ermita, “widely considered to be the most important Spanish wine of the modern era”. Made some money too with it: this will cost you a four figure sum! Not bad going for the seventh son of a family of nine. Fortunately for us, his Camins del Priorat and a few others are much more affordable, as are the majority of his Rioja wines, including the gorgeous pair below, so different to any Rioja red I’ve tasted before.
Palacios Remondo La Vendimia 2014, 14%, €17.99
Stockists: Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Co. Waterford. Baggot Street Wines, Co. Dublin. D6Wines, Co. Dublin. The Wine Centre, Co. Kilkenny. Number 21 Off Licence, Co. Cork
Every now and then, a wine comes along and makes your tastebuds sit up and notice, makes you sit up and notice. That’s what happened when I was introduced to this amazing opulent blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from the far eastern corner of Rioja. The unusual element here is that there’s 50% Garnacha in the mix. Here too, in the area around the town of Alfaro, is where the first Rioja grapes are harvested each year.
Ruby is the colour of the Vendemia, perhaps a shade darker than most of the other young Riojas I’ve come across the past few weeks. There is rich mix in the aromas, fruit (cherry, plum), mineral, even herbal notes, also hints of vanilla. A soft mouthfeel, the wine is pleasant and full of fruit, no shortage of acidity, fine tannins, some spice too and a good finish as well. Very Highly Recommended and leaves me looking forward to their crianza.
Palacios Remondo La Montesa Rioja Crianza 2012, 14%, €23.99
Stockists: Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Co. Waterford. Carpenters Off Licence, Castleknock, Co. Dublin. The Corkscrew Off Licence, Co. Dublin. Jus de Vine, Co. Dublin. Matson's Wine Store Grange & Bandon, Co. Cork. The Parting Glass, Co. Wicklow.
Named after the hill side slope (1800 feet) on which the fruit is grown, this unfiltered blend of Garnacha (70%), Tempranillo (25%) and Mazuelo (5%), is another gem from the Alfaro region of eastern Rioja, “a wine that invites you to enjoy life” according to the winemaker.
Ruby is the colour and there is a complex aromatic mix of fruit (cherry) and floral elements. With rounded fruit flavours and an immediately compatible mouthfeel, it flows smoothly across the palate, great finesse and elegance enthral and all before a stunning finish from a terrific wine produced from a year of “austere weather conditions”.
Just looking here at the winemaker’s notes and would have to agree: Perfect by-the-glass on its own or when paired with flavourful cuisine, La Montesa is a welcoming wine from Rioja that is sure to please both the novice and the true wine connoisseur alike. Very Highly Recommended. Lets hope Alvaro's love-affair with Garnacha continues.
Recent Rioja posts: Rioja Rocks and also Rioja whites.
Recent Rioja posts: Rioja Rocks and also Rioja whites.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
All Red For YouGarnacha-Syrah-Nebbiolo
Ricossa Barola 2010 (DOCG), 14%, €17.00 (down from 22.99), SuperValu Christmas
In the Langhe hills it’s the aromas - of truffles, mushrooms, hazelnuts, coffee, and above all else, Barolo or Barbaresco wine - that sweep people off their feet. (Vino Italia).
Barolo, by the way, is a place in Piedmonte (Italy) and the grape is Nebbiolo. There is a minimum aging requirement of three years (two in barrel) and the result has been described as the king of wine, the wine of kings.
So let's be king for a day and try this vibrant ruby red. And yes there are gorgeous dark red fruit (cherries mainly) wafting up from the glass. The Riedel (Veritas 6449/67) has been made for New World Pinot Noir but it certainly works well here! The fruits are agreeably prominent on the palate but there is a great balance, some spicy elements too, a sweet and savoury experience and then the long dry finish. I really like this one, feeling rather royal! Very Highly Recommended.
Marco Real Corraliza de Los Roncaleses 2012, Santacara (Navarra DO), 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines
Colour here is a bright cherry, long lasting legs. For me, nose is more fruit (cherry) than floral (which is highlighted on the label). Soft and full-bodied and elegant too, moderate acidity and yet, despite the high abv, the balance is fine; the finish is long and pleasant. Highly Recommended.
It is one hundred per cent Garnacha and wines made from this variety can be high in alcohol (as is the case here) and heady (not the case here!). By the way, I had this with Poulet Basquaise and it was an excellent match.
Think I may have been fairly close to this vineyard a few years ago when I came over the mountains from France to Roncesvalles, a major stop on the camino to Santiago. It was lunchtime and I was hoping to get the Pilgrim’s Meal but was told it was available only in the evening!
Finca Pasion Mi Fuego Syrah 2012 (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Colour is a dark red (with a lighter rim) and it has ripe fruits aromas. Then you get the fruit again on the palate, spice too and quite fine tannins, a pleasant presence in the mouth plus persistent finish. Hand-harvested and estate bottled, this is easily quaffable and Highly Recommended.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
BESO DE VINO OLD VINE GARNACHA 2009, (Cariñena, Spain), ABV 13.5%, RRP €9.99, Stockists , 4 stars
I’ve often seen “grows on you slowly” as a descriptor in wine tasting. So, maybe half the bottle is gone before you realise you’ve got a good one? Well, there’s no danger of wasting any of this warm super-tasty red.
The warm hello comes on first contact: “Howya doin’ old stock?” And it is old stock, as the fruit (100 per cent Garnacha) is from old vines, vines with an average of 40 years to be more precise. Later, that veteran Garnacha spends four months in new French oak before the product is released.
Then it is good to go, keen to please and the experience is totally satisfactory, especially when you consider the price is just €9.99! Antonio, the little bull fronting Beso de Vino, can be proud of this one. It is a bit like himself, friendly and confident.
Antonio boasts that there is lavender in the nose. Not too sure about that, he can be a bit of chancer at times, but there is certainly the aroma of black cherries there. The fruity mouthfeel is big, for sure, but the dense fruit rush is held in check by the almost unobtrusive tannins to give a well balanced wine with quite a pleasant finish.
Just to underline the quality, Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate Robert Palmer gave it 89 points.
I know many will just twist off the screw-cap and pour. But take a second and look at that cap. You will see three little holes in it. I’m told they are not made by Antonio’s horns. So why are they there? Check it out here.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Corona d’Aragon old vine Garnacha 2009, Cariñena, Spain, ABV: 13.5%, stockists
This Wine Alliance import comes highly rated by Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate Robert Parker who gave it 89 points. Other awards include Decanter Award (Bronze) 2011 and IWC Bronze Medal 2011. It is certainly a quality wine and comes at an attractive price.