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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

An impressive Austrian sparkling wine and an interesting semi-sparkling red from Piedmont.

An impressive Austrian sparkling wine and an interesting semi-sparkling red from Piedmont.

Loimer Brut Rosé Niederösterreich - Reserve Sekt NV, 12%

RRP €43.99

Sekt is the term for sparkling wine in Germany and Austria. This Brut Rosé Reserve blends Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and St. Laurent and spends at least 24 months on the lees. It is made with 20% reserve wines and 80% from the 2018 vintage. Bottled June 2019. Disgorged 2021. Dosage 2g/l. Traditional bottle fermentation, shaken by hand.

Good strong pink colour here with an amazing display of bubbles rising. Foam doesn’t last very long. Yeasty notes in the aromatics. The palate is mouth-filling, strawberry among the gentle fruit flavours, a pleasing mouthfeel with a lively acidity at play before a dry finish. 

The winemakers say this “comes very close to a champagne”. For me, it is better than many champagnes. Well worth a try. Very Highly Recommended.

The Loimer winery is based in the Kamptal region of Austria and it is biodynamic and Fred is a fan of cows: “Cow manure is the best you can find for composting.”  He mentioned this on a Zoom masterclass last year, following similar endorsements by Aurelio Montez (Chile) and Giovanni Manetti (Chianti Classico).

“… Use resources you find in your place, not to buy everything, but to find on the farm what you need to produce. For instance, we make our own compost and we buy very little. Second, you cannot separate plants and animals, nature works in a holistic way, together they have composted over the years to create the soil we have today.”

“Herbicide is a disaster. There is life in our soil. Always something going on, even in a small square, something like 60,000 lives in there, all doing something. We cover our soils, green cover, blooming cover. Our own compost is getting better and we spread it in the autumn and we also make compost tea out of it for spraying. Stinging nettles (they’re everywhere) and other herbs are also used for spraying teas.”

“Cow horns, many people don’t believe. You can’t really measure the impact of these preparations but you can see the difference. There is for sure an impact and cow manure is the best you can find for composting.”

Biodiversity is another essential plank. “Monoculture is a big problem today. It is necessary to create as much biodiversity as possible. Not one hundred per cent vineyard but always bushes, trees and grassland over the whole area.”

Latest from Austria. 2022 vintage seen as promising

The president of the Austrian Winegrowers’ Association Johannes Schmuckenschlager sees the 2022 vintage as promising, albeit with a somewhat lower harvest volume, in a season that has been challenging in terms of both climate and costs. “Austria’s winegrowers are already busily preparing for this year’s wine harvest. In places where grapes typically ripen earlier, such as the Seewinkel in Burgenland, harvesting has already begun. Due to the weather conditions, the harvest has begun slightly earlier than last year. In the best-case scenario, we can expect wine volumes to match the average of previous years at around 2.4 million hectolitres,” said Schmuckenschlager at a press conference in Vienna Friday (02.09.22)


Contero Brachetto D’Acqui (DOCG) 2021, 5% ABV

RRP €22.99: The Malt House, Blackrock Cellar,

Brachetto is a red wine Italian grape grown predominantly in the country’s Piedmont region.

This really delightful frizzante pours a deep pink from the screw-capped bottle and there’s a brief life for the bubbly pink head. Aromas are both floral (roses) and fruity (pomegranate, strawberry). There is a slight sweetness on the light and lively palate before a drier finish. A very pleasant low ABV wine and Highly Recommended.

Distributors Liberty tell us Contero is now owned by the Marenco family, who are Moscato and Brachetto specialists.  “The 11 hectare Contero estate remains one of the best producers of invigoratingly delicious Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui. The vineyards are situated on steep hills, on tufaceous-marl soils, in a perfect amphitheatre in the commune of Strevi (the heart of one of the best zones for Moscato in Piemonte).

The vines are superbly tended and produce fruit of stunning quality. The Moscato is lifted, fresh and frothing, while the Brachetto has a lovely rose petal character that emerges from the aromatic, grape-scented fruit.” 

The grapes were hand picked into wooden boxes and carefully selected. After gentle pressing, the must fermented on the skins for two to three days at low temperatures, in stainless steel tanks. The must was then separated from the skins, with fermentation halted at 5.5% volume alcohol by filtration to leave around 100g of sugar per litre. Bottling took place under pressure for a light sparkle. 

Brachetto d’Acqui is best enjoyed when served at a temperature of between 8 and 12°C. Excessive cooling should be avoided, because at cold temperatures, the wine’s aromas are not released, and their scent does not reach the palate.

Thanks to its moderate alcohol content, Brachetto d’Acqui is an excellent accompaniment for desserts and fruit, regaling even less sophisticated palates with delicious sensations. Sublime with fresh strawberries or ripe peaches in season: the aroma and scent of the fruit mingle with those of the wine, producing a heady and intensely pleasant floral bouquet.(From )

Brachetto d’Acqui has made a name for itself as an ingredient in mixed drinks, cocktails and aperitifs, proving an excellent accompaniment not only to sweets, but savouries, too. Try it with cold cuts and cheese.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Found Two Beauties For You. An Italian Verduzzo and A Spanish Garnatxa.

GIOL Verduzzo Marca Trevigiana (IGT), 12%, 

RRP c. €14.00 Taste, Castletownbere// Little Green Grocer , Kilkenny// Mary Pawle

This organic and vegan wine, part of the vineyard’s 1950 series, is made from a local grape Verduzzo. This off-dry white (15 g/L) has a cork closure, quite a pop when extracted. And quite a lot of bubbles on the surface for a short while. 

Colour is a weak straw yellow with definite green tinges. Aromas are on the shy side, hints of peach just about making it to the fore. Fresh on the palate with peach sweetness and citrus tartness and a bubbly tingle on the tongue. Pleasant indeed and Highly Recommended. Not the longest of finishes but an agreeable one with a nice bit of citrus in attendance.

I can agree with the producer’s suggestions to pair it “with spring herbal dishes, with pizza, it is pleasant between meals, delicious with desserts and sweets. Serve at 10-12 degrees.”

They say: For nearly 600 years, our winery has placed an emphasis on nature, quality and beauty. Our family’s long experience is apparent in our esteemed wines. Since 1987, we have been producing wine from grapes grown in our historic vineyards using organic farming methods, respecting both the environment and the raw ingredients.Vegan wines are intact and pure products of the highest quality. They are preferable for their high digestibility and more natural taste. 

Verduzzo enjoyed considerable fame here in the past, later obscured by the arrival of international vines, it is now almost completely abandoned: very few producers continue the cultivation of this variety. “we vinify it in purity, giving life to a very pleasant product that deserves much more consideration than it has been granted up to now.” 

The late harvest of the grapes is done manually (towards the end of September). The production includes the following phases: crushing and destemming, soft pressing, static decanting of the musts, racking and inoculation with selected yeasts. Then the controlled cold fermentation takes place at 14 °. At the end of fermentation, the wine is decanted and maintained on its noble lees with periodic batonage, to then move on to bottling.

Marca Trevigiana IGT is just one of several IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) titles used in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. A Marca Trevigiana IGT wine may be made in any one of various styles: red, white or rosé, blend or varietal and still, frizzante or sweet. 

DIT Cellar “Cabirol” Monsant (DO) 2018, 14.5%

RRP €16 Stockists: Lettercollum Kitchen in Clonakilty// The Olive Branch in Clonakilty// Mannings Emporium, Ballylickey// Connemara Hamper, Clifden// Mortons of Galway// Mary Pawle 

From the first certified organic winery in Montsant, comes Cabirol, a tasty and intensely fruity wine. It is a deep colour, more or less purple. Aromas are also intense, a melange of small black and red fruits fruits and a whiff of peppery spice. Spice and vibrant fruit (cherry and blackberry) appear too on an immediately engaging palate and there is a racy acidity; everything is in balance, smooth and elegant with a similar finish. Cabirol, complex and with good length,  is Very Highly Recommended.

It isn’t uncommon to see a Cabirol (a European deer) when you are ascending (or descending) through the vines in the Llaberia mountains where this wine is born. The vineyard, 20 to 75 years old, is located in the natural park, surrounded by forest. Every summer afternoon, a wind coming from the Mediterranean called “Marinada” cools down the temperature and helps give to the wines a special freshness.

DiT Cabirol is made by Danni of the Azul y Garanza trio and is his personal project. It is Garnatxa but with some Syrah, % depending on the year. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

A Couple of Highly Recommended Organic Wines, from Bergerac and Campobasso.

 A Couple of Highly Recommended Organic Wines

From Bergerac and Campobasso

Tour Des Gendres Cantalouette Bergerac Rouge (AC) 2020 14.5% 

€19.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Malbec. Not too sure about the name, though there is a bird (not like any lark I’ve ever seen!) on the label, and there is a town of this name about 30 minutes from Ribagnac where Tour des Gendres is based.

Very glossy and deep red in the glass. The nose is intense, a bouquet of vibrant small red fruits. And the fresh fruit flavours are also intense, juicy cassis and other darker fruits, a touch of moderate spice too. Tannins have a tender grip and this is an easy-drinking soft and balanced wine with good length. Really gorgeous, well made (typical of Tours des Gendres) and Very Highly Recommended.

The grapes come from the Tour des Gendres’ organic certified vineyards. The grapes are Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (noted for its quality of freshness), grown on a mix of sand, clay and limestone soils. Luc is looking for purity and intensity in his wines, relentlessly searching to reach the maximum potential of each vintage.Viticulture is organic and biodymanic and yields are low.

Le Caveau tells that Luc de Conti is a wonderful character and one of the finest wine-makers of his generation, he feels passionately for his wines, his 54-ha vineyard and his Bergerac region.”Luc is looking for purity and intensity in his wines, relentlessly searching to reach the maximum potential of each vintage.”

Over the years Bergerac winemakers have been overshadowed by those of neighbour Bordeaux who historically controlled the ports and so the  exports. As Robert Joseph said a good few years back: The second class status of Bergerac today owes more to the efforts of Bordeaux merchants to discriminate against it than to the quality of its wines.

As a result, to this day, Bergerac doesn't command the same price level as Bordeaux. So watch out for Bergerac reds (and the whites also) and you should save yourself a few euro without sacrificing quality.

Fattoria di Vaira Vincenzo Bianco 2020, 11% abv 

€18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This white blend comes from southern Italy (not from the deep south); inland Campobasso, where the vineyard is located, is roughly equidistant from Rome and Bari but nearer the Adriatic then the Tyrrhenian.

Colour is an orange/gold, a haze cloud in the glass. Aromas offer quince and sweet peach notes, along with floral hints. The complex palate is full of lively fruit flavours (apricot, peach, even apple). Mouthfeel is a little tingly. Fresh and well structured, this is a delicious wine and an excellent introduction to the style of skin-contact white (also known as orange wines). Highly Recommended.

The blend sees light skin-contact Fiano grapes in with some direct press Trebbiano. The fruit for the Vincenzo wine is sourced from Fattoria di Vaira, one of the largest biodynamic farms in Italy, with more than 500 hectares, just 40 of which are planted to vines.

There is a wonderful diversity here, a very clean environment, with animals, fruit plants, cereals. Shepherds, farmers, cheese makers, vignerons all work in harmony on the farm.

You can visit if you are in the area. Not alone visit, stay as well. And you’ll be well entertained with wine tours and evenings of wine, food and music. Check it all out here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A White and a Rosé to savour this season

A White and a Rosé to savour this season

Terras Gauda, Abadia de San Campio Albarino, Rías Baixas (DO) 2019, 12.5% abv

€20.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

My first introduction to this particular wine came with the 2011 vintage which arrived on the doorstep just as I was heading off to Hendaye on the French/Spanish border. I brought a few bottles with me - talk about bringing coals to Newcastle. I was very impressed and rated it Very Highly Recommended. Lots of Albarino since then, including one in Nerua (in Bilbao) during that holiday!

And, glad to say, this 2019 is up there with the best of them, Very Highly Recommended again! Aromas are intense, tropical fruit (mostly mango and pineapple). And there’s amazing power and balance on the palate, “the intensity of taste of a harvest of well-ripened grapes”, as they say themselves, is balanced by a vibrant acidity. And the finish is persistent and pleasant all the way.


Le Caveau are obviously enthusiastic about it: Abadia de San Campio Albarino is such a lovely white..No sign of oak, the wine is therefore as pure and bright as a whistle.. Served with tuna steaks, it works brilliantly. Ideal with seafood, shellfish (Percebes!), fish... or almost anything coming out of the Atlantic.


Vintage 2019 all came right in the end as there was an “excellent ripening of the grapes, offering us a broad, concentrated and very lively Albarino”.

Back in 2012, as is the case now, ageing was not recommended. Quite a few experts, such as Hugh Johnson, were giving Albarino the DYA designation, meaning drink youngest available! You’ve been warned!

The producers recommend serving between 10 and 12 degrees with shellfish, oysters, clams, crabs and enjoy with spicy Asian cuisine.

Located in the O Rosal valley, in Galicia, Terras Gauda is notable for owning around 85% of its own vineyards; the remainder of the grapes are provided under strict quality control agreements with local growers.

Antica Enotria Contessa Staffa Rosato Puglia (IGP) 2019, 13% 

€18.25 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The colour, more a red rose (close to pomegranate) than a pink rose, is what catches the eye with this Italian rosé from Puglia. It is a blend, Nero di Troia (85%) with Montepulciano. Aromas are rather intense - strawberry and cherry. It is light and lively on the palate, with a crisp and refreshing acidity, yet full of flavour with a good balance and a reasonably long finish. It is one of the drier rosés around, also that bit different to the French rosés, and Highly Recommended.

Contessa Staffa Rosato is the Mediterranean wine par excellence, with a strong restorative power on hot summer days. Yet it is liked for its versatility in the kitchen. It should be served cool, usually around 10 ° -12 ° C, so that it can express all its aromas and give soft and round sensations in the mouth.

With what to combine it? Almost with everything! It is an excellent aperitif, an obvious combination with cold cuts; with sushi it is a must; but try it with a soup or fried fish; with any first course, it is the king of summer cold dishes. Perfect for chicken and veal tuna salads; the roundness and softness make it the ideal companion for many spices.

Raffaele di Tuccio bought this run-down farmhouse (dating back to the 1700’s) in 1985 and over the past 30 years has worked tirelessly with his wife, Antonia, and son, Luigi, to bring the property back to life. Sadly Raffaele passed away in late 2020. the care of the farm and vineyards are now in the hands of Antonia and Luigi.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Do you remember Mateus Rosé? Here’s to Rosé, Rós, Rosado, even Pink!

Do you remember Mateus Rosé?

Here’s to Rosé, Rós, Rosado, even Pink! 

Back to the rosé theme again, a very pleasant one, for this post. For the past few weeks, I’ve been telling you about various rosés from the South of France, mostly from Provence and the Languedoc. This post we’ll take a taste of two from outside of that country, one from Italy and one from Spain, both imported and distributed by O'Briens Wine.

Did you remember what started you on this style of wine? I can tell you that I started with Mateus Rosé and its unusual flask bottle shape (made an attractive candle holder!). It was at one point the best-selling imported wine in the U.S. market and was indeed very popular here in Ireland a few decades ago, mainly in the 70s. It is still very much on the market and you can buy a bottle for around €10.99 in supermarkets. The Portuguese wine is produced from Baga and Shiraz grapes.

The fact that we have a Spanish one below reminds me of a 2012 trip to Rioja, to the famous wine town of Haro and to the old premises of R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia in particular. I was taken with their aged whites, the Viña Gravonia Crianza 2002 and the Viña Tondonia Reserva 1996, and bought some of each.

Sampling in Vina Tondonia

But there was still some disappointment when I left. I had been hoping to get their famous Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva, another aged wine, but there was none available and, because it is not made every year, I was told “none will be available for another year or two”.  The current vintage that is available from the winery (perhaps not in Ireland) as far as I can see is 2011. If you come across it or a later vintage of this rosé do buy a few and include one for meë

Not surprising that you can find rosés all over the wine world. Indeed, many winemakers produce just enough for themselves. Back in 2013, I visited Chateau du Petit Thouars near Chinon. At that point, they had yet to harvest their first Chenin Blanc and every wine they had was produced from Cabernet Franc and that line-up included a very agreeable rosé.

Not quite in the same league, sales wise, as Whispering Angel and its sister Rock Angel (both available from O’Briens) or the many celebrity rosés such as the Bongiovi’s Hampton Water, or bottles from Sarah Jessica Parker, Sting, Kylie Minogue and Drew Barrymore. Rosé’s popularity continues to grow. According to, referencing Nelson data, sales in the US grew by 40% from 2018 to 2019.


Pasqua “11 minutes” Rosé Trevenezie (IGT) 2020, €14.21 (18.95), O'Briens Wine.

Quite a mix of local and international grapes in this delicious Pasqua Rosé from Verona. The name refers to the minutes of skin contact (which give the wine its delicate and subtle colour, aromas and overall style). Just under the “11 Minutes” I noted these words Odi et Amo. Not Italian but Latin and meaning “I hate and I love”. I wonder why the three words have such a prominent position!

I brought a magnum to a back-garden party and four of the five present gave it a big thumbs up; the fifth started and stayed with the beer! It was our first little get together since the recent lockdown ended so there was more talk than note-taking. 

The pale, very pale, salmon colour was the first talking point. Also mentioned around the table were the beautiful (if mild) aromas on the nose. The fine fruity (strawberry, raspberry) flavours as well, along with the refreshing acidity and the pleasing dry and crisp finish, also drew the kudos.

Hiding in plain sight..
Think I’ll now let the vineyard have its say: “The Corvina varietal, which dominates in terms of percentage, was chosen for the floral aromas as well as the significant acidity it gives to the wine. Trebbiano brings elegance and a long finish; Syrah gives fine fruit and spice notes to the glass and finally, Carménère creates structure, ensuring stability over time. This a fresh, enveloping rosé with an intense and complex bouquet, created to accompany spring or summer evenings and more.”

This relatively new rosé interpretation by Famiglia Pasqua has been much awarded, including a recent 91 points from Decanter. Served chilled, between 10 and 12°C, it is ideal as an aperitif and as an accompaniment to the most delicate dishes (eg salad, fish and white meat)

You will notice a circular opening on the front label and if you look that bit harder you will see a classical lady seemingly in the body of the wine. The technique is not unique in the industry but can be quite a talking point. No magic here, though. The head and shoulders you are seeing is on the inside of the back label.

Rós Rosado Navarra (DO) 2020, 14.5%, €12.71 (€16.95)
O'Briens Wine

The darkest, and the strongest, of my recent set of six O’Briens rosés is a Spanish-Irish cooperation. All the info is given, very concisely, on the back label. The two words to note most are Alicia and Lynne. 

Alicia and Lynne are the wine-makers, Alicia from Tandem and Lynne from O’Brien Wines. Lynne is the Wine Director at O’Briens and made this rosé with Alicia Eyaralar, founder and wine-maker at Tandem (not to far from Pamplona in Navarra). It is an ongoing partnership. I’m quite happy to admit to having a grá for the wines of Tandem, many of which are available from O’Briens.

The is produced from Garnacha grapes grown in sustainably farmed vineyards in the cooler Yerri Valley close to the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean. After hand-picking and a short skin maceration, the grapes are fermented using wild vineyard yeasts and a minimal intervention regime follows in the winery. 

Colour is a deepish rose, with orange hints. Strawberry and raspberry on the nose and those summer fruits also feature in a most pleasant way on the dry and crisp palate. Indeed, this is one of the most flavoursome rosés on the market. Pretty decent finish too. If you don’t fancy anaemic looking and weak tasting rosés, then try Rós from the other end of the spectrum.

Handy wine to have in the house these days. Excellent as an aperitif and welcome for sure at the summer table in the garden. 

This is the selection or rosés that are reduced by 25% by O’Briens Wine:

Revino PostCard Organic Pinot Grigio 2020 Veneto €11.96

Delheim Pinotage 2020 Stellenbosch €10.46

Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir 2019/20 €11.96 Loire Valley

Langlois Rosé D’Anjou 2020 €11.96 Loire Valley

Pasqua 11 Minutes 2020 €14.21 Veneto*

Laurent Miquel Les Auzines Alaina €12.71 Languedoc Roussillon*

MiMi en Provence Grande Réserve 2020 €14.96 Côtes de Provence

Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses 2020 €14.21 Languedoc Roussillon*

Famille Bougrier 2020 €10.46 Loire Valley

Domaine L’Ostal 2020 €11.96 Languedoc Roussillon*

Château de Gairoird 2020 €14.21 Côtes de Provence*

Rós Rosé 2020 €12.71 Navarra*

Passe Colline Rosé Ventoux 2020 €11.21 Rhone

Previous posts covered four of the selection of samples. You’ll find the reviews on the Gairoird and the Bertrand here, those on the Laurent Miquel and JM Cazes here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A Royal Red Wine From The Queen of Teroldego

A Royal Red Wine From The Queen of Teroldego

Foradori Teroldego Vigneti Delle Dolomiti (IGT) 2018, 12.5%

€30.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

After an active day in the mountains of Trentino, perhaps trekking in the vast Naturpark Drei Zinnen (Three Peaks Park) or skiing in Cortina d´Ammpezzo, it’s time to replenish your reserves. And here a favourite at the table is a bowl of giant canederli (bread and flour dumplings), which are laden with smoked bacon chunks and served in a warm broth. Local breads and cheeses are also on the table, dispatched before you tackle the filling polenta and sausage based dish known as Smacafam. Apples will feature in the dessert course, perhaps their version of strudel.

And all the while your enjoyable companion is the Foradori Teroldego, a superb wine of the region made by the experienced Elisabetta Foradori. She is indeed regarded by many authorities as the queen of Teroldego.

“It has beautiful colour and rich fruit, but sometimes the tannins can be a little drying. You need to hold on to it for a while or pair it with gamey foods, but the flavour is unique. And you won’t find it anywhere else in the world.” That was young Elisabetta Foradori speaking to Vino Italio back in 2002 who even then considered her as the leading producer of Teroldego.

Regina Elisabetta

In 2016, The Modern History of Italian Wine honoured her as one of the leading producers in the renaissance from the 1960s onwards. She led the local change from pergolas to Guyot (lower yield, more quality), practiced the “diligent use of small oak barrels” (to tackle the international market), and then her embracing of biodynamic cultivation and her adoption of the amphora in “this land where Regina Elisabetta (Queen Elizabeth) reigns” further enhanced her wines.

A handy base in Drei Zinnen (Three Peaks Park) in the Dolomites,
about 3 hours from the Foradori vineyards.

Even the 8th Edition of the World Wine Atlas concurs: “the unrivalled queen of fine fully ripe Teroldego Rotaliano is Elisabetta Foradori. Her improved clones, and experiments with fermenting in amphoras, impresses her clients more than they do the authorities, so she sells them as IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti.” 

This dark ruby aromatic wine is indeed a gem, light in alcohol but full of flavour, a distinguished part of the Trentino gastronomy. About two months back, we got a great idea of how the wine and food go together thanks to a Tasting the Dolomites meal (Take Out of course in the current circumstances) organised by Cork’s leading wine-bar, Latitude 51, as part of their own deliciously defiant response to setbacks over the past two years (including those Covid 19 restrictions). The wine itself is pure, precise and elegant and Very Highly Recommended.

We nibbled on Speck (smoked cured ham) and Taleggio cheese for a start. Then moved on to the hearty Zuppa all’Orzo (pearl barley), eating and drinking in that bowl. I had been a little wary of the dumplings having been very disappointed with a series of Northern European dumplings a few years back. But these, packed with herbs and Speck, were in a different class altogether. Then on to another highlight, the Smacafam, a sausage and polenta pie, a hearty rustic type of pizza, full of flavour and topped with delicious cheese and that meaty sausage was just superb.

Speck (via Pixabay)

Then time for the finalé, after a decent pause! Apples are abundant in Trentino and L’Atitude included their take on an Apple Strudel, a superb take indeed, enhanced with a dab or two of crème fraîche. They even included a digestif, some prunes soaked (deluged!) in Grappa to bring the curtain down on an excellent insight into the area.

Been in that area just once myself, on a day trip from Austria, and remember having the best ever Spaghetti Carbonara in a high altitude restaurant in or near the Naturpark Drei Zinnen (Three Peaks Park) in the Dolomites and then enjoying a stroll around a nearby lake (in pic above) under some awesome peaks.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Striking Gold with a Riojan white and a Barbera D’Alba

Striking Gold with a Riojan white

and a Barbera D’Alba

Izadi Rioja Blanco (DOC) 2019, 13.5%

RRP € 21.99: Blackrock Cellar, Mannings Emporium, Redmonds of Ranelagh, Sweeney's D3,

Other than the famous aged Viura by Hacienda López, I know very little about Rioja white. So this blend, led by Viura, turned out to be a very pleasant surprise indeed.


It has a very light straw colour, hints of grey/pink, bright. Aromatic with fruits like melon, and gooseberry showing. Fresh and fruity on the palate, an outstanding first impression. Succulent but with good acidity. The finish is medium to long. That initial impression carries through to the finalé, a superb wine and Very Highly Recommended.

Izadi picks the six native white varieties of Rioja based on the oldest vineyards of the region to elaborate “a very special Blanco”. The blend is 65% Viura, 10% Malvasía, 10% Garnacha Blanca, 5% Tempranillo Blanco, 5% Maturana Blanca y 5% Turruntés, all from the area around Villabuena and the medieval village off Samanmigeo on the road between Haro and Logrono. 

Importers Liberty tell us Izadi is owned and run by Lalo Antón and his family. Izadi, which means ‘nature’ in the Basque language, is a project rooted in a passion for gastronomy and wine. The estate was founded in 1987 by Gonzalo Antón, Lalo’s father, who, at the age of 37 and with a background in restaurants, decided to create his own winery with the aim of producing modern, perfumed, food-friendly wines that are true to their roots and a natural expression of the area. As well as the winery, the family also run the Michelin-starred restaurant, Zaldiaran, in nearby Vitoria.

No wonder that it went so well with one of our recent At Home dinners, this a delightful and very different fish box from Goldie in Cork. While not perhaps gelling with every single element, the Izadi proved an able companion that evening. A wine for the notebook for sure! Dinner details here 

GD Vajra Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2018, 15%

RRP € 29.99: Alain and Christine Wine and Card Shop; Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellar; C Morton & Sons; Grapevine;

Jus de Vine; McHugh’s Off Licence - Malahide Road; Searsons Wine Merchants; Sweeney's D3; Terroirs; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork; The Corkscrew;

Mid ruby colour. Very pleasantly perfumed, with cherries prominent, even a note of sweetness. Scented and balanced all the way, this elegant wine is concentrated on the palate, full of pristine flavours of red and darker berries, a little spice too, along with a natural acidity and a mellow tannin. Refreshing and refined, this gem (on which oak has been judiciously used) finishes elegantly and is one that you’ll savour and remember. Very Highly Recommended. 

Barbera is Piedmont’s most planted red and fitting that the Vajra’s first “task” here was to match with Guancia Di Manzo Topinaburn Al Tarfuto (Slow-cooked Beef Cheek, Barbera D’Asti jus, creamy mash, truffle infused Jerusalem artichokes) from da Mirco’s “At Home” here in Cork. Aside from our Barbera d’Alba, you’ll also hear of its next door neighbours Barbera d’Asti and of Barbera Monferrato (lesser known hereabouts).

GD Vajra have been farming organically since 1971 but they didn’t get off to the best of starts. Giuseppe, during an April online masterclass, said he was dragged away from his soccer games (he was playing too much of it - well he was just 15) to plant his first vineyard. 

He and his current team are still youthful and he is proud of their work. “We hope we get wiser as we go on. We started organically and our first vintage in 1972 was not a good one, not worth ageing!” The whole extended family are at work here in this “multicultural team” near the village of Barolo. Perhaps, that first vintage was a disappointment but there have been many good ones since including this 2018.

Vintage summary: 2018 was marked by an abundant flowering, a gradual ripening and one of the latest harvests of the decade. Precipitations were exceptional during the entire year, as was the dedication of Vajra's vineyard team. Such determined work and a meticulous sorting brought only the healthy grapes to the winery, with delicate perfumes and a juice that was pink already upon crushing. This harvest was particularly favourable for the best exposed vineyards, those at high elevation, and the late ripening varietals. The wines are fragrant, deliciously aromatic, with elegant tannins.