Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Couple of Classics. To Charm the Palate if not the Wallet.


A Couple of Classics. 
To Charm the Palate if not the Wallet

Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva Rioja (DOC) 2011, 14.5%, €44.95 Bradley’s Cork

Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are a rich mix of dark fruits (plums etc). Rich fruit too on the palate, no shortage of spice, polished tannins in play too, all adding t a pleasurable harmony from initial attack to the slow-fading notes of the long finish. Full bodied with a velvety power, this is one to savour, slowly. Very Highly Recommended.

Riscal, who up to the middle of the previous century were synonymous with Bordeaux style wines in Rioja, are a large company. Sometimes they are better known for their Frank Gehry designed hotel in the vineyard.

In some ways, the hotel has helped wine-lovers re-discover the Riscal wines, according to the “The Finest Wines of Spain”. And this Gran Reserva is one of their finest. Quantities are relatively small but “it has all the subtle appeal of delicate, traditional Gran Reserva aged in old American oak”.

By the way, the Gran Reserva wines age in a huge vault directly beneath the hotel’s lobby. Other wines of note from this producer include Proximo, and Baron de Chirel along with the 100% Tempranillo, the Frank Gehry Seleccion, named for the famous architect. 

Most Rioja reds will have spent some time in oak. Check out the various designations below:
The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.


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Masi Costasera Amarone Classico (DOCG) 2013,  15%, about €39.95, Bradley’s Cork.

This is often referred to as Masi’s gentle giant, a benchmark for the Amarone category. It is indeed excellent and Very Highly Recommended. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Highly Recommended Wines from Austria, France and Italy. European Excellence.


Highly Recommended Wines from Austria, France and Italy. 
European Excellence.

Judith Beck Koreaa (Austria) 2017, 12%, €23.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

So how does an Austrian wine get to be called Koreaa. Some years back, Beck’s rented an old vineyard, originally parcelled out in the 1950s. It was then so far away from the village that people said of it that you might as well be going to Korea (the war was on in that country at the time). So, decades later, Judith decided to use that as a name for this wine.

You will see too that this is a Gemischter satz. What is that, you might well ask? I asked too and Le Caveau tell me it is a field blend, mainly Grüner Veltliner and Scheurebe but also composed of Welschriesling, Weissburgunder, Muskat and some Zweigelt (a red grape). Spontaneous wild yeast ferment is followed by 6 months in old oak barrels on its lees.

For me, the most important word on this wine is Beck, now one of my favourite wine-makers. So I have confidence when I approach this bottle with its light orange colour and it unusual melange of aromas: marmalade, honey, fresh herbs. In the mouth it is lush for sure with exotic flavours but importantly there is good acidity so all is in balance before that lip-smacking finish, for this is essentially a dry wine. Something different and Highly Recommended.



Vin de Frantz Un Salmon Dans La Loire 2016, Vin de France 12.5%, €21.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

A Vin de France and also called Vin de Frantz (after the producer) is made from the fruit of 30-year old vines, fermented in stainless steel. Le Caveau tell me it is “great with simply prepared fish dishes”.

Vin de France as you probably know more or less replaced the old Vin de Table and covers the whole country. But this vineyard is in the tiny Montlouis appellation, which has to put up with living in the shadow of the much better known Vouvray on the other side of the river Loire. Montlouis is about halfway between Tours and Amboise.

This excellent organic Sauvignon comes in a light gold colour. Citrus features in the moderately intense aromas. It has an engaging attack, lively and pleasantly tart, pleasantly fruity too (gooseberry). Fresh all the way to very good finish. Highly Recommended.

Renato Ratti “Battaglione” Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2016, 14%, €24.90 (before closing down sale) Karwig Wines. 



The late Renato Ratti has been credited, at least in Vino Italiano, with being “The Father of Modern Barolo”. He took that wine by the scruff of the neck in 60s and his more accessible style became a hit. 

The production of classic affordable Piedmont wines goes on, now under the direction of son Pierro Ratti and “..the wines keep getting better” according to Vino Italiano. 

This is a mid to dark ruby colour. Rich aromas of dark red fruits (berries, cherries, plums). Light and lively on the palate with engaging flavour and also a lively juicy acidity. A touch of sweetness too and a persistent finish. A terrific harmony between fruit, acidity and tannins, distinguishes this lovely wine with its rich body. Highly Recommended.

Pair with hearty dishes especially those featuring red meat and it will also do the business with aged cheese.

Much of the red wine in Piedmont is made with the Barbera grape. Alba is the town in the centre of the region and so you get the typical Italian combination in the wine’s name Barbera D’Alba.

* By the way, Karwig’s still have some wines left for you in their closing down sale which is due to finish on August 16th.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Four of the Best from O’Brien’s Summer Promotion


Four of the Best from O’Brien’s Summer Promotion
 -22nd July to 1st September-
The O’Brien’s Summer Promotion began this week and runs until 1st September. Over 100 wines are on offer, with discounts ranging from 6% to 42%. I think I've been lucky with the examples I've picked (below),  all red as it turned out.

But there is so much more in the promotion. Anyone for rosé? Why not try L'Ostal Caze from the many on offer. Whites to consider include the Château-Fuissé Saint-Veran  and the outstanding Robert Weil Riesling trocken. Having a little get-together out-the-back? There are two Rizzardi proseccos reduced and no shortage of cava or champagne either. Enjoy the summer! Responsibly, of course. Regular price in brackets.

Vaglio "Chango" Red Blend 2015 Argentina, 14.5%, 15.95 (18.95)

An expressive and pleasant wine according to the man who produced it: José Lovaglio Balbo, from Mendoza. Vaglio is a new micro-winery located in Tupungato created by José. He produces four single vineyard wines that all focus on micro-climates and minimal winemaking. José is a young winemaker at the well known Dominio del Plata and the son of renowned winemaker Susana Balbo. Each of his wines represent a unique terroir as well as different stages of his life. 

The fruit comes from different vineyards, the Malbec (65%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) are from Altamira and the Tannat (20%) is from Cafayate. It has spent 11 months in oak (2nd/3rd use barrels).

Colour is close to a dark ruby. Bruised red fruit on the nose, a touch of orange peel too, slightest hints of vanilla emerge also. Palate is soft, full of that red fruit flavour, then the long-lasting finish, with tannins that are not yet quite smooth. A really well-made wine from Mendoza, an amazing amalgam of the grapes and the terroir conducted by the young wine-maker. He does ask for your feedback on the bottle! Very Highly Recommended. Chapeau, José. @joselovaglio


Tandem, at the foot of the Camino de Santiago in the Yerri Valley, is a cool micro-climate where they practice sustainable farming and minimal intervention. Built north-facing and partially underground to use a gravity system, they have the finest natural conditions to age the wines.

Owner José María Fraile was in Cork last year and told us  the vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings at 12 Tables.

Inmune (Spanish for immune) was one of the wines on the night, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.”

“We aimed to make a powerful, deep and concentrated wine, with nice weight and tannins in which the purity of the fruit garnacha would shine.” Reckon Tandem got it spot-on. Very Highly Recommended.



Leyda, 12 km from the Pacific is an ideal spot for viticulture. The maritime influenced cool conditions makes it an extraordinary area for the development of Pinot Noir. Vineyards are all on slopes, planted on the least fertile soils and they are managed in order to keep low yields. 

Light to mid ruby is the colour. Summer berries combine for an intense aroma.  Rich rounded palate of ripe red fruit (cherries prominent), a lively acidity, smooth tannins and a long and pleasing finish. An excellent Pinot Noir, Very Highly Recommended. Good value too, even at the original price.

Leyda, founded in 1997, are best known for their Pinot Noir (notably Lot 21), Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah (according to Wines of South America). This wine was aged in French oak barrels for ten months and pairs well with cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Pheasant/Pigeon, Pork Belly, Slow roast Pork loin.


Words of wine wisdom from the Contessa (below) encourage us to drink with emotion rather than a data sheet, passion rather than intellect.

Mid to dark ruby is the colour of this light Munus from the Lake Garda area. Aromas are intensely fruity, a hint of spice there too. Flavours are quite concentrated, acidity is excellent, hints of that sweet spice too, and a good finish to boot. 

All that acidity means it's meant for food. I’m thinking: Bring on the lamb! The producer says: “Superb with pork and poultry dishes and lighter game such as partridge and quail. Also porcini mushroom risotto.” Another note from the vineyard recommends it to be served (16° C or 60° F) with pork roast, spicy dishes or casseroles. Quite versatile apparently!

A wine that belies its youth.  Very Highly Recommended.

Lots of history behind Rizzardi and Munus which is produced mainly from Corvina, Merlot and Ancellotta grapes from their vineyards. 

Created to celebrate the Contessa Loredan Rizzardi, a descendant of the Loredan Doges of Venice and she has been quoted as saying that this is her favourite wine, adding You have a perfect marriage of grapes when one grape is not prevailing over another. ….But I drink with passion, and without brains. 

The label bears the word Munus - a gift - which was engraved on the silver coins given by the Doge on special occasions. It is part aged in large oak barrels. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Estate grown and bottled.

You may be wondering about the Ancellotta grape. Wine-searcher: Ancellotta is a dark-colored grape variety that originated in Italy. It is most often used as a blending component in sparkling red Lambrusco wines, but varietal examples can be found in BrazilArgentina and Switzerland.







Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Whites Shine in O'Brien's Summer Promotion


Whites Shine in O'Brien's Summer Promotion

There's a whole world of white wine out there aside from the big names such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio. The O'Brien's Summer Promotion, now in full swing (until July 21st), gives you the chance to try something new. I took advantage myself as I sampled a few, including a gorgeous Verdejo from Spain, a fresh and fruity Verdicchio from Italy, a Grüner Veltliner (a long-time favourite of mine) from Austria, and a top notch Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Terrific wines and now at very attractive prices. While I did concentrate on the whites, the reds too are excellent and that Sicilian Appassimento will go down well at most tables.

De Alberto Organic Verdejo Rueda (DO) 13.5%, on offer 12.95 (was 14.95). New at O’Brien’s


The more I drink Spanish whites, like this Verdejo (new to O'Brien's), the more I begin to appreciate them. This organic wine, by De Alberto, is refreshing and quite intense (with citrus to the fore) and is Very Highly Recommended.

Colour is a light straw, clean and bright, with a green tint. Ripe white fruit, herby notes too in the aromas. Superb fruit flavours make their presence felt instantly, a lively citrus-y acidity too, lips a tingle and a persistent and very pleasing finish. Enjoy with poultry, fish and seafood

The 2018 vintage enjoyed good weather conditions, no extremes at all, and this meant the grape stayed healthy and reached an optimum state of maturity.

Verdejo, which may not be familiar to us as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, is an aromatic grape variety behind the crisp white wines of Rueda, its undisputed home in central Spain. Wine-Searcher says that full-bodied Verdejo wines are held in high regard, displaying herbaceous, nutty characters with balanced acidity and some cellaring potential.

Marotti “Albiano” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (DOC) Classico 2018, 13%, €11.95 on offer, was 14.95. O’Brien’s

I’m a big fan of Verdicchio, whether it is from Castelli di Jesi or from Matelica (a bit further inland). Both are in the Marche in the central eastern part of Italy. And this typically refreshingly crisp Albiano is as good an example as you are likely to come across.

It comes in a light straw colour, greenish tinges, lots of micro-bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass. There’s a pleasant aromatic mix of floral and white fruit, moderate rather than intense. Bright and lively palate, citrus led flavours with a barely noticeable herbaceousness, and that typical zesty acidity. 

Unoaked, there is nothing overly complex here, dry, fresh, fruity. Good finish too and this well-made wine is Very Highly Recommended, a good one to start your relationship with this grape if you haven’t already done so!

I enjoyed this as an aperitif but I’ve read that it goes well with Brodetto di Pesce, a rich seafood stew made locally in the Marche. You may not be able to get that here and other recommendations include seared scallops, Linguini with clams, other shellfish, with pasta and rice dishes, and salads, even pecorino cheese. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (DAC) 2018, 11.5%, €14.95 (was 18.95). O’Brien’s

From peachy attack to citrus finish, this Grüner Veltliner goes the delicious distance. The Grüner Veltliner grape, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil.

Colour is light gold. There is a fresh bouquet of white and yellow fruit, a touch of white pepper. Peach and citrus mingle well in the tingly palate. Mineral notes too plus excellent acidity. All followed by a lip-smacking dry finish. Fresh, crisp and zesty, a refreshing experience and Highly Recommended.

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes, fresh shellfish and salads.





This is new to O’Brien’s and worth keeping an eye out for. The fruits are hand-harvested with careful selection, barrel and tank fermented and the wine is further barrel matured for a rounded complexity. Ideal, according to the label, with seafood and shellfish, also with mildly spiced curries and lovely with saffron.



This ia regular award winner over recent years and comes in light gold colour. White fruit and honey notes in moderately intense aromas. A good depth of flavour follows: apricot, melon, plus touch of vanilla. No shortage of acidity either. Quite a mouthfeel too - it has spent some 9 months on lees. It is harmonious all the way through to a very satisfying finalé. Another ace Chenin Blanc from Forrester and this rich and ripe wine is Very Highly Recommended.


Fonte do Ouro Branco DÃO (DOC) 2018, 13%, on offer 13.95, was 16.95. O’Brien’s




Portuguese wines can often be a hard sell because of the unfamiliar names of the grapes but don’t let that put you off. You could be missing out on some real gems such as this white blend of Arinto and Encruzado, ideal with starters, seafood and fish when served at 10 degrees. Like the way Boas Quintas (the producers) sum it up on the label: green colour, apple, pear, and tropical fruit aromas, good structure, fresh and mineral.


Pretty accurate too, I’d have to say. Colour is a light straw with a pronounced green influence. You’ll find peach, apple, pear and more exotic notes too in the aromas. A very pleasant melange of flavours on the palate, mouthfeel also impressive, fresh too with minerality, and acidity enough to balance. Finish is persistent. Highly Recommended.

Fonte do Ouro Tinto DÃO (DOC) 2017, 13%, on offer 13.95, was 16.95. O’Brien’s
And here's another good one from the same stable, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Jaen. This fresh and smooth wine has spent six months in oak and should be served at 16 to 18 degrees and will go well with red meats.

It has a dark ruby colour. Fairly rich aromas of blackcurrant and cherry. I see lots of references to Earl Grey Tea but must admit I didn't pick it up in the nose. There’s a great mix of those fruit flavours on the palate, fresh, with a touch of spice, smooth tannins and a very satisfying finish. Highly Recommended.

All three grapes are popular in the region. The Alfrocheiro adds depth of colour, Touriga Nacional is considered to be the country’s finest, while Jaen is the local name for the what the Spanish call Mencía.



Colpasso Nero D’Avola Appassimento Sicily (DOC) 2018, 14%, on offer at €12.95 (was 15.95). New to O’Brien’s.

Appassimento? You may well ask. If you ask Wine Spectator, they’ll tell you it is the Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for a few weeks up to several months, to concentrate the sugars and flavors. 

Appassimento is most associated with northern Italy but there are many examples in the south and this Colpasso is one. Here they make a careful selection of the very best Nero D’Avola grape in the Sicilian area of Agrigento and Vittoria. Some of the grapes are partially dried prior to vinification “giving the wine an incredible intense flavour”. You’ll note that intensity at your very first sip.

Colour is a dark ruby. Those rich red fruit are noticeable in the aromas, immediately. And the flavours are indeed rich and intense, the main feature of the velvety palate, some spice there too, and a hint of sweetness. A good example of appassimento, easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

Check out my post on a few of the O'Brien rosés here




Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Two Outstanding Wines from Lesser-known Grapes.


Two Outstanding Wines from Lesser-known Grapes.

“Semplicemente Vino” Bellotti Bianco 2017, 11.5%, €22.75 

A simple wine, made for everyday drinking. Will do well at weekends too, I’d say. Highly Recommended. 

Cascina Degli Ulivi is a biodynamic farm located on the hills of the Gavi region (South Piemonte, Italy) and it is here that the Cortese grapes for this white wine are grown biodynamically. No sulphites are added and unusually the closure is a crown cap. 

The Cortese are raised in 11 ton oak vats (50%) and the rest in stainless steel. The result is described by Le Caveau as “like a Jura wine”.

It has a mid yellow colour. Aromas are a rich mix of white fruits from the orchard (think apple peel), honey, with some spice too. More citrus-y in the mouth. It is subtle on the palate, complex too with a long dry finish, toasty, nutty, hints of sherry. 

Crown cap
Simple yes but not for slugging. Just take a sip, it has got so much going for it in terms of flavour and aroma and satisfaction. Best drunk young and here are a few food recommendations from the winery: great with vegetable starters, egg based pasta or soft cheese.

Cortese is not that well-known, though it is the grape from which Gavi is made. Can have too much acidity but barrique fermentation can counter this. No over-acidity in this young and well-made Bianco so it looks as if those huge barrels have done their work well.

In 2017 the estate lost 80% of production due to the frost in April and the summer drought. “In order to be able to produce this wine we have bought biodynamic grapes from various friend producers whom we trust and thank."

Adega Cachín “Peza do Rei” Ribeira Sacra (DO) 2015, 13%, €19.35


Ourense is the name of both a city and a province in Galicia in North West Spain and here on the steep hillsides you’ll find the spectacular vineyards of Ribeira Sacra (the sacred riverside). Adega Cachín is a small (70,000 bottles), compact no-frills winery built into the hillside.

Many of us will not have heard of Ribeira Sacra, the DO, and the grape Mencía is also among the lesser known.  It is pronounced “Men-thee-ah”, according to Wine Folly, who go on to say that it is a  “medium-bodied red wine grape that produces high quality wines with floral and red fruit flavors. If you love aromatic red wines like Pinot Noir and Gamay, Mencía is definitely worth tasting.” This Peza do Rei would make an excellent start on that particular journey of discovery.

Colour is a mid-ruby. Aromas of medium intensity (lighter red berried fruits). Fresh and fruity with good acidity, not unlike a young Cabernet Franc from Chinon or Bourgueil. Redcurrant and raspberry in the flavour mix. This is a balanced, soft easy-drinking wine with a long refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau indicate matching it with local chorizo stew, cured meats, even the local pulpo a la galega octopus with paprika and olive oil. I think the “local” is in Galicia but I’ve no doubt we could come up with some very worthy Irish equivalents! Think too it would go well with some of those sharing boards down in Kinsale’s Crackpots Encore. Pulpo, piano and Peza all night long!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

German Chardonnay. Italian Pinot Noir.


German Chardonnay. Italian Pinot Noir.
Danese Pinot Noir Trevenezie (IGT) 2017, 12%, €13.95 Karwig

Grapes and Wines (Clarke & Rand) recommend that Pinot Noirs from the “home” of Côte d’Or should be drunk young “within five years or so”. Our timing is good with this interesting one from Italy which has some pretty accomplished Pinot Noir producers.

Colour of this Danese is a very light ruby. Blackcurrants and raspberries feature in the aromas. Flavour seems to be in line with the aromas; they are moderately intense and you’ll find moderate spice also, quite dry, with subtle tannins,  and a decent finish. Easy drinking and got the thumbs up from a four person tasting and is Highly Recommended. Pretty good value too.

The Winery suggests pairing this medium bodied wine at 14 to 16 degrees with  Roast chicken , rack of lamb, served pink. Rare fillet steak and carpaccio. Roast pork with herbs and fennel. Chicken or turkey sausages. Mushroom risotto. In summer, you can serve it slightly chilled.




Kilian Hunn “Junge Wilde” Chardonnay, Baden (Germany) 2017, 14%, €18.30 Karwig Wine

Junge Wilde means young and wild and is a name of a series of wines by Kilian Hunn aimed to show off the potential of the Tuniberg vineyard. And  this, the label proclaims, is “an aromatic pleasure wine for many beautiful moments.”

It has an inviting light gold colour; lots of micro bubbles cling to the glass. Yellow stone fruit aromas, apricot to the fore. Quite a complex wine on the palate, richly flavoured, an excellent mouthfeel too (has spent three months on the lees) and a long dry finish (you’ll note the trocken on the label). A very interesting German Chardonnay indeed and, as they say themselves, an excellent “Maul voll Wein” (mouthful of wine) and Highly Recommended.

Try with poultry, fish, white meats, pasta, seafood, vegetables (including asparagus), soft cheese.

Karwig also carry other Kilian Hunn wines including Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Spat Burgunder (Pinot Noir).




Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Two Lovely Italian Whites


Bianco de Ampeleia, Costa Toscano Bianco (IGT) 2017, 11%, €23.95  Le Caveau 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin,
The famous Elisabetta Foradori from Trentino is a driving force behind Ampeleia and, where Elisabetta goes you’ll find good wine. This, Bianco di Ampeleia, mainly made from the old variety Trebbiano, with an addition of other local white grapes (Malvasia, Grecanico & Ansonica) grown together in the same vineyard, is a fine example.

Might be a bit much to say the colour is rose gold but it is a cloudy gold with pink tones, very much in orange wine territory here and certainly organic. It is fragrant, hints of orange peel and dried fruit. You know now you are on to something different. And then you discover the amazing flavours; it is creamy, complex and fresh. Superb body and long dry finish. Very satisfactory indeed and Very Highly Recommended. Exactly the kind of wine to give organic orange-coloured wines a good name.

Should be excellent and versatile with food, anything from fish to turkey, from antipasti and bruschetta to creamy dishes like risottos, spaghetti ala carbonara, and fettuccine alfredo. Try it too with fruit desserts.

Podere La Prendia Pinot Grigio, Mantova (IGT) 2017, 12.5%, €16.50 Marks & Spencer

M&S winemaker Jeneve Williams had a hand in this excellent unoaked white, produced from grapes in the “mild and temperate” climate of Northern Italy (near Lake Garda). It is 100 per cent Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular varieties grown in Italy.

I remember hearing Australian winemaker Tim Adams speaking in Cork about ten years ago and he was introducing his Pinot Gris which had a distinct pink tint. He told us that this is a natural phenomenon of the grape and which he had retained, at least for that harvest. It is a distinctive grey on the vine but, when squeezed, the juice runs pink.

This is because Pinot Grigio is actually a red variety but with very low anthocyanin (the molecules that give colour to red grapes). Anyhow enough of the technical!

Back to the glass and what you’ll notice is that this wine from Montova has very little colour at all, just a hint of yellow. Aromas are pleasant, pear prominent. There is a surprisingly complex palate (it has spent some time on its lees), pear and lime mingle, a lively acidity and a persistent finish. A premium refreshing Pinot Grigio and Very Highly Recommended.

Serve it lightly chilled to get the best from it. Great as an aperitif or pair with white fish dishes or light herby pasta recipes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Three Country Wine Tour with Karwig's


Three European wines from Karwig's, each from a different country and each highly recommended. Take a trip!

Domaine de la Potardière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2017, 12%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
Holiday feeling on the Loire.
Back in the 80s, and maybe earlier, many Irish motoring tourists, most having gotten lost in pre-peripherique Nantes, were venturing no further south than Brittany, and were dipping their beer trained beer stained tongues in French wine, mostly Muscadet or the even more ghostly (or should that be ghastly) Gros Plant. Muscadet at less then a punt a bottle was a great wine while on the hols but not so good when you got it home. Unless it was Sur Lie, matured on its lees.

Now we know what to ask for and with Sur Lie you do have a better chance though some other Muscadets can be fine as well. Muscadet, we thought, was the grape. It’s not. The grape is Melon of Burgundy; the Loire region (near Nantes) in which it is grown is known as the Muscadet area but apparently Muscadet is not an actual geographic place.

This bottle from Karwig’s has just the merest yellow colour, aromas of white fruit, melon prominent. It is lively and fruity on the palate - that holiday feeling - time on the lees has added a certain creaminess; it is totally fresh, a good citrusy finish, overall very engaging and easy to give it the thumbs up. Highly Recommended. Bring on those fish platters in the Relais Routiers, even a DIY selection from Pat O’Connell.

Food pairing tips  : Perfect accompaniment to oysters, seafood in general, fish, sushi.


Quinta do Valdoeiro Syrah Bairrada DOC (Portugal) 2015, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wine

This is not your normal Syrah but is a very interesting one. The vineyard says it has a lot of potential and will “definitely grow in the bottle”. They point out that the striking minerality comes from the red clay (terracotta) soils, the freshness from the proximity of the Atlantic. It is naturally stabilised so sediment is a possibility and they advise serving at ten to twelve degrees. New oak has been used here.

Colour is an intense ruby. Aromas of ripe plums, cherry, also vanilla notes. On the palate it is fresh and fruity, spice, smooth with youthful power, lively acidity and persistent in the finish. Would certainly like to try it in a few years. For now, this very interesting Syrah is Highly Recommended.

Gran Passione Rosso Veneto (IGT) 2016, 14%, €13.95 Karwig Wine

This is an Amarone type wine at an un-Amarone price. It is from the area around Venice and is a blend of Merlot (60%) and Corvina. Corvina is the principal grape in red Valpolicella wines. The interesting thing here is that the grapes are naturally dried on vines for about 15 days. This process helps towards a more intense wine and that is the case here.

Colour is dark ruby. Very pleasant aromas of ripe fruits (cherry, plum), a touch of vanilla too. Velvety and concentrated black and red fruit flavours, mild spice and soft tannins, quite a long finish. Overall a rich and well-balanced palate and Highly Recommended. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Three Highly Recommended Whites from across Europe


Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines

Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.

Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.


Diwald Fucksentanz Riesling Wagram (Austria) 2016, 12%, €18.30 Mary Pawle Wines

Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.

Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.

Amastuola Bianco Salento Italy (IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.69 Mary Pawle Wines

Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.

Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine


A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe (DOC) 2015, 14.5%, €21.65 Karwig Wines

“Langhe Nebbiolo is a close relation of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines but one that is usually softer and more accessible.” - Decanter. They also say that it is “Part of great value Italian wines made by cooperatives". 

This mid ruby coloured wine has inviting red fruit aromas, a hint of spice too. The same fruit and spice invade the palate, in the nicest possible way; it is medium-bodied with good acidity, a decent finish with soft tannins. Easy drinking (despite the high alcohol), very pleasant and Highly Recommended.

Perfect, they say, with pizzas and pastas, white and red meat, and rich fish dishes.

Verso Rosso Salento (IGT) 2016, 14%, €15.75 Karwig Wine

Salento is a town in Puglia in the south-east of Italy. Oak ageing has played a role here and the wine is made with a “small amount of apassimento” which gives a raisin element in the flavours. 

They recommended using it with red meats, stew, game and mature cheese. Duck breast should also be a good match. The blend is Negromaro (60%), Primitivo (35) and Malvasia Nera (5).

It is a deep red (skins have been left in must for “extended period”). Legs are slow to clear. Dark fruit on the nose. Juicy and fruity (think crème de cassis) with a vibrant spice, sweet tannins at play also. An easy drinking wine and Highly Recommended.


Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc (AC) 2016, 12.5%, Karwig Wines €14.95

This blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris comes from a stunning estate located at the gateway of Cadillac in the small municipality of Beguey, overlooking the Garonne River. You’ll hear that Bordeaux whites are often better value than the reds and this is the case here.

It has a pale straw colour. Citrus and floral notes feature in the expressive nose. Fresh engaging fruit on the palate, lovely acidity also and a superb lip-smacking finish. A Highly Recommended melange of Bordeaux fruit and craft.

It has spent two months on fine lees and is, they recommend, a perfect accompaniment for oysters, sea food and smoked salmon sushis. The salmon I enjoyed it with wasn't smoked but they paired well nonetheless.