Showing posts with label Hawkes Bay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawkes Bay. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Two Winners. A Malbec from its Cahors home and a Hawkes Bay Syrah

Two Winners. A Malbec from its Cahors home and a Hawkes Bay Syrah

You've heard of flying winemakers. You're more
likely to find Pedro Parra in the ground.

Causse Du Theron Terrasse Malbec Cahors (AOC) 2018 13.5%, 

RRP € 23.99 The 1601 The Cinnamon Cottage Cork Simply Delicious

In 1947, a few growers founded this cooperative in Parnac. Their goal was to revive Malbec, the grape of Cahors. They succeeded.

I’m always interested in a wine that has had input from Pedro Parra, the renowned expert on soil and vineyard mapping. Always interested also when I come across a wine from Cahors. And here I have both, together!

In the summer of 2010, I was meandering lazily, like the River Lot, through the vineyards of Cahors and the ancient Cathar fiefdom of Luzech before getting down to buying some wine in the little village of Parnac. Here the Cave Cooperative du Vignoble de Cahors (you saw Les Cotes d’Olt on the signs) have a massive cave with a fine shop.

Founded in 1947, it has also been credited with the revival of winemaking in the area which had fallen on hard times. The  Cahors vineyard and its Auxerrois (Malbec) was fading having had survived for at least 600 years.

Led by the Syndicate, then "headed by Abel Baudel, and by the new actor that is the cooperative cellar, Cahors wine received its first quality label, the VDQS in 1951. …On April 15, 1971 the classification decree (AOC) appeared. Cahors enters the elite of French wine.”

And while Malbec is now very much associated with Argentina, Cahors remains one of its best vineyards. Indeed, the ongoing revival, even this bottle, has been boosted by an Argentine touch. 

Causse du Théron is a project started by Antonio Morescalchi of Altos Las Hormigas in Argentina and his friend Pedro Parra, the renowned expert on vineyard mapping in South America. 

Following their first visit to Cahors in 2013, they became fascinated by the origins of Malbec and the region’s diverse soils, especially the vines planted on Kimmeridgian limestone. They selected two vineyards owned by a local family as the wellspring of their Cahors Malbec project. The name, Causse du Théron, translates to ‘hills of Theron’, causse meaning hill in the local dialect.

Wines from Cahors were, over the centuries, known as “Black Wine” but this one is light, an alluring and bright mid ruby. Cherries and herbal notes head the aromas. Tart berries and cherries backbone the fruit-driven wine on the palate where a fresh acidity is an outstanding actor. Concentration is high - the vines are forty years old. Silky tannins underline its refreshing quality and the slightly spicy finish is lengthy. Elegance over power. Very Highly Recommended - just as well after the build-up! 😉

Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled, stainless-steel tanks using ambient yeasts. The wine spent between 15-21 days on its skins with gentle pump overs to aid extraction. The wine then aged for 18 months in cement tanks to allow it to mellow into what is the top Malbec I’ve enjoyed in a long while.

Food pairings: Malbec is a beaut with leaner red meats (try steak and mushrooms or buffalo burgers and mushrooms). Beef Brisket, Lamb and BBQ Pork Ribs also come up trumps.

Geek Bits:

Closure: Agglomerated Cork

Alcohol (ABV): 13.5 %

Acidity: 5.55 g/l

2018: an ideal vintage.

Oak: none


Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2018 Hawkes Bay New Zealand 12.5%

RRP € 34.99 The Corkscrew Avoca Handweavers Shops Mitchell & Son Clontarf Wines

In 1993, Trinity Hill was one of the first to plant grapes on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay in 1993. The Gimblett Gravels, located on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River, is now a highly sought-after sub-region renowned for the quality of its wines, particularly those made from Syrah.

Colour here is quite a dark crimson, lighter around the rim. Jammy fruits and pepper in the aromas. That fruit is prominent on the palate, with subtle oak in the background. This Syrah lives up to its French name with an elegant restraint. Tannins are ripe and the natural acidity is another plus factor. Finish is smooth and long. Great purity and freshness here and Very Highly Recommended.

The wine was aged for 14 months in a mixture of new and older French oak 228 litre barriques and 5,000 litre oak ovals. This barrel ageing regime, more typically used in the making of Pinot Noir, includes lees stirring and very minimal racking. It was bottled in early 2019.

They say: Our premium wines made from hand-picked fruit exclusively sourced from estate vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels grape growing region. These wines are elegant yet powerful and reflect the very best expression of the vineyard and winemaking team. They are made with food in mind (great with red meat dishes but especially good with game, particularly with duck and venison) and lend themselves to mid to long term cellaring.

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”.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Tall. Dark. And Handsome. A Trio of Irresistible Reds from O'Briens Wine

Tall. Dark. And Handsome.
 A Trio of Irresistible Reds from O'Briens Wine

This dark and handsome ruby is an irresistible contender. Aromas are loaded with fruit notes and that continues on to the supple palate, with sweet slender spice cozying up well with all that muscular ripe blackberry. And the finish, smooth and knockout long, is also packed with flavour. Quite a punch, quite a wine. Count it out yourself. No wonder O’Briens report it as “Our perennial customer favourite wine…With its memorable label, Porta 6 delivers a huge amount for its price”. Highly Recommended.

This rich full-bodied red, with its eye-catching label, is ideal with roast lamb or beef and with sirloin, striploin and rump steak. It is a blend, as many Portuguese reds are. The locally grown grapes used are Castelão, Tempranillo (Tinta Roriz here), and Touriga Nacional. It has been aged for 3 months in French oak.

* For just a few euro extra, you can get your hands on Porta 6 Reserva. Must keep an eye out for that myself!

Deep ruby is the colour here. Aromas are quite intense, mature dark berry fruit the main characteristic. It is indeed soft, round and velvety on the palate as the label indicates and there is also acidity enough. And it shows good character all the way to a very pleasing finish. A harmonious wine and should be fine with red meat dishes (including venison) or hard cheese, poultry too (depending on sauce).

This Very Highly Recommended wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. Ageing is carried out partially in oak barrels for between 6 months and a year, the rest being aged in concrete. You don’t have to rush this one - it is expected to keep well for ten years. No need to say too much when the wine is this good.

Deep ruby is the colour of this engaging Syrah. Aromas are quite intense, quite complex too with berry fruits, pepper and floral elements in the mix. On the palate this light red is vibrant, dark red fruit flavours with a tangy acidity. And that bright fruit takes you all the juicy way to the excellent finish. A well balanced wine indeed and Highly Recommended.

Sacred Hill are a certified Sustainable vineyards located in some of the best vineyard sites, on the famous Gimblett Gravels, in the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island. Brothers David and Mark Mason, and winemaker Tony Bish, founded Sacred Hill in 1966, with the aim of developing traditional French styles with a distinct Kiwi twist.

This Syrah is aged for 8 months in French oak to give extra complexity and richness of flavour and is an excellent example of what the trio and the Hawke's Bay region has to offer.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Cracking Reds. Bergerac, Chianti and Hawkes Bay.

Terroir Feely Grâce Vin de France NV, 13.5%, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

You might have those eye-catching Purple Violetta potatoes currently being grown and marketed by Ballymakenny; that is more or less the colour of this excellent wine. Aromas are of freshly picked ripe plums and dark berries, leaves attached.

And the palate is of fresh fruit and acidity (all the better for food pairing). An amazingly pure wine, tannins a fine, very fine, influence. Balance is super, the fruit and astringency equally in evidence deep into the satisfying finalé. Very Highly Recommended.

This “rich and elegant” dry red wine, highly marked by Jancis Robinson, is produced by Caro and Sean feely in their Saussignac vineyard in the Bergerac area. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Unusually, it is non vintage (NV). Just 2,650 bottles were produced. No sulphites were added and the winery is certified organic and biodynamic. This “grace of nature” is the delicious result.

By the way, the Feelys recommended pairing it with Lamb (with Rosemary), duck breast, and Comté. Heard it went well also with venison at a recent dinner in Ballymaloe!

Ama Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €28.50 Karwig Wines

Husband and wife team Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti produce this wine at their Castello Di Ama vineyard which is close to Sienna. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in the blend which also includes four per cent Merlot.

It is a light and bright ruby red and you’ll find expressive red fruit (cherry, raspberry) in the aromas. It is light and juicy, notes of spice, tart red fruit prominent, mid to full bodied, mid to high acidity contributes to the balance, silky tannins also in play and then a moderately long finish.

If I had to just one wine for the summer ahead, this would be it, more than one bottle of course. Approachable, carefree and attractive, it is Very Highly Recommended

Unison Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2005, 13.5%, a gift from a friend.

Unison describe themselves as “a truly boutique winery consistently producing world class wines”. No pressure then on this winery from the Gimblett Gravels wine growing district that produces finely balanced wines “of great elegance with a soft tannin structure”.

This Unison 2005 is their signature wine, the usual  blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is the 9th release with the usual good results. 

Colour is mid ruby and the complex aromas feature ripe red and darker fruit. It is smooth and rounded, a superbly balanced blend, fine tannins and velvety all the way. Nothing jars in this harmonious mouthful, a fine wine all the way from first sniff to the long finish. This red blend from New Zealand is not to be rushed and Very Highly Recommended.

If you can get your hands on it - my Wine-Searcher drew a blank - please let me know where!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three cracking reds

Marco Real Colection Privado Crianza Navarra (DOC) 2013, 14.5%, €17.40 Karwig

The wines of Navarra are not as prominent in the Irish market as those of Rioja, its next door neighbour in Spain's North West. But this impressive amalgam of Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah, illustrates well why it should be taken more seriously. 

The grapes are hand-picked and sorted twice on arrival at the winery. Twelve months in new French oak barrels is followed by 12 months in bottle and that earns it the Crianza sticker (on the back of the bottle).

The legs here, as you might expect, are slow to clear; colour is a deep ruby. There is an attractive mix of aromas (mainly ripe red fruits) plus hints of oak. Silky, Fruity. Spicy. Tannins are more or less totally integrated as is the oak. This full-bodied intense wine has a persistent finish and is Very Highly Recommended. Good value as well.

Casa de la Ermita Idílico Jumilla (DOP) 2012, 14.5%, €19.99 (€15.00 on offer from 23/11 to 1/3) SuperValu

A blend of Petit Verdot and Monastrell, this Crianza comes from old vines grown at 700 metres above sea-level.

It has an intense garnet colour, the legs slow to clear as you'd expect. Intense aromas too: darker fruits, plum prominent, hints of mint too. Rich on the palate, full of concentrated fruit flavours, spice too and close-to-smooth tannins. Excellent finish also, leaving you with that second glass feeling. This newcomer to SuperValu is very welcome and Highly Recommended.

Koha (Merlot, Cabernet Franc) Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2016, 13%, €14.00 Marks and Spencer
As you can see, this is a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc. It won Platinum for the producers, the Giesen family, in the recent Decanter awards and it is exclusive to Marks and Spencer. The sunny region of Hawkes Bay is perfect for Merlot. Just noticed that the Giesens produce an unusual style “blend” of hard apple cider and white wine, in a can!

Back to our smooth and fruity wine with its deep purple colour. Warm dark fruits prominent in a lovely mix of aromas.  Plums and berries on the juicy palate, oak in the background. Fresh and vibrant, this smooth engaging young wine, medium to full-bodied, is worth getting to know. Highly Recommended. Pretty good value too. Match with roasts and BBQ.

The Koha, by the way, is a long tailed cuckoo, a summer visitor to New Zealand.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Classy Pinot Noir double from Hawkes Bay

Pinot Noir on the double from Hawkes Bay

Bilancia, Pinot Noir 2006, Hawkes Bay (NZ), 13.5%, €22.45, Karwig Wines 

This medium red coloured wine is nice and bright considering it is 2006. On the nose, it is classic red fruits, cherry and raspberry. In the mouth, it is juicy and beautifully fruity and very well balanced (the balance,  a prime aim of the makers Leheny and Gibson). The flavours have been enhanced by 15 months in new and old French oak and it finishes long and well. Very highly recommended.

More about Bilancia, which translates as balance, here 

Tahuna, Pinot Noir 2010, Hawkes Bay (NZ), 13.5%, €15.40, Karwig Wines 

This is quite a light red, again with the classic nose. On the palate, the feel is light and the wine is fruity for sure with a smooth dry finish. It is made for "early enjoyment". A comparative juvenile that lacks the adult heft and sophistication of the Bilancia. Nonetheless a lovely wine and a very pleasant companion, they suggest, “for hearty pastas, duck and lamb”. Highly recommended.

More about Tahuna here 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Good Value NZ Pinot Noir

Tahuna, Hawkes Bay (Australia), Pinot Noir 2010, 13.5% abv, €13.50 at  Karwig Wines

The white Kiwi feather features on the neck of the bottle from this winery which has vineyards in both Hawkes Bay and Marlborough .

Colour is light red, not see-through, while you'll get scents of cherries and raspberries on the nose. The same fruits feature on the elegant palate. It is juicy, slightly spicy, with a smooth lingering dry finish. Flavour rich, easy drinking and good value.

The winery's aim is to "produce rich, soft and approachable wines of exceptional quality"'. Exceptional might be pushing it but it is certainly very good. Recommended.