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

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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A couple of excellent Karwig reds from the Veneto


Conte Loredan Gasparini “Falconera” Colli Trevigiani Merlot (IGT) 2013, 13%, €18.95 Karwig Wines

This Merlot is from the Montello region, 50 kms north of Venice, where the Count used to hunt with his hawks (hence the wine’s name). 

With medium tannins and good acidity, you’ll find it pairs well with many foods. It has spent 18 months in oak (25 and 50 hectolitre barrels). And, “a little secret” from the vineyard is that they add in 10% Malbec from the same fields.

Mid ruby is the colour. There are intense scents of cherry and berry, plus vanilla from the oak. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity, light and bright, with delicate spice notes, a pleasing acidity and a long mellow finish. 

Many of us would not immediately associate Merlot with Italian wine (though it has some history in this area - see last para) but this is a very convincing effort and Very Highly Recommended.

Count Loredan Gasparini wasn't just a hunter. In the the 1960s, he was responsible for the “celebrity” wine Riserva Capa di Stato, first made in 1964 and still produced today. 

According to the Modern History of Italian Wine, this celebrity owed its name to the fact that it was served to heads of state visiting Venice. They loved it and international newspapers included it in shortlists of the world’s great wines. The wine, like our Falconera, came from the Montello area where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec are grown from old clones.


Luigi Righetti Campo Tordi Corvina Veneto (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €13.95 Karwig Wine

Mid ruby is the colour here. Aromas of ripe red fruit, slight spice. Fruit and spice on the palate too; it is mid-bodied, a light touch of tannins, balancing acidity of course! Very quaffable everyday wine I was thinking but it’s a bit more than that. Certainly has the second glass appeal and Highly Recommended. 

Corvina may not be one of the big names in grapes mainly because it is usually blended in its home area which is the north of Italy. It is the cornerstone of Valpolicella and Bardolino and the major contributor to the blend that gives Italy’s most famous dried grape wines, Amarone and Recioto.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Three Whites. Each Highly Recommended.


Beck Weissburgunder Burgenland (Austria) 2016, 12.5%, €18.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), from eastern Austria, first came to my attention at the Chef Sessions in ORSO in March last and I noted it for an extended trial! It is biodynamic and new to the Le Caveau portfolio. The fruit is hand-picked and the wine spends six months on its lees in oak casks.

It is a pale gold, with lots of micro-bubbles clinging to the glass. There are aromas of white fruit, including pear. A lively tingly introduction to the palate with lots of white fruit flavours following on, full-bodied with a pleasant refreshing acidity and a long finish. Fragrant and refreshing, this is a versatile food wine and Highly Recommended. More to Austrian whites than Gru-Vee!



Wohlmuth Kitzecker Riesling 2016, Sausal Südsteiermark Austria, 12.5%, €21.65 Karwig Wines

The fruit comes the village of Kitzeck where slopes of up to 80% makes it one of Europe’s steepest vineyards.

Light gold is the colour and you’ll note green tints. Aromas are of peach and melon. On the palate it is juicy and fruity, outstanding fresh acidity, it is long, minerally and citrusy, makes your lips pucker. With peach, apricot and citrus elements in the mix, it makes for a lovely aperitif. Great too with seafood, particularly with prawns. Highly Recommended
.


Luigi Righetti Bianco di Custoza (DOC) 2016, 12%, €13.95 Karwig Wines.

This blend, one hundred per cent of the Soave grapes according to the Karwig website, has a light straw colour. It is moderately aromatic, fruity with a dry and delicate flavour, a good mouthfeel and a decent finish. Excellent as an aperitif or with fish or shellfish. Easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

The Bianco di Custoza is a white DOC wine from the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. Nine grape varieties are allowed, but generally just three are used, the best known of which is Garganega, the Soave grape.

Located in the heart of Valpolicella Classico, the Luigi Righetti estate is a small to mid-sized, family run winery. Since 1909, when Angelo Righetti first earned a reputation as an outstanding winemaker, the family has focused on producing quality wines offering extremely good value as is the case here.


New Zealand 2018 Vintage Latest:
Vintage 2018 benefits from warm summer
A warm summer benefited New Zealand’s winegrowing regions, with 419,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during Vintage 2018.
This is up 6% on the 2017 tonnage, but is still lower than initially anticipated in a season marked by a very early start to harvesting.
New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says many wineries had been hoping for an even larger vintage, given 2017’s small harvest.
“However, we now expect export growth in the year ahead will be modest. It will be up to wineries to manage any product shortages from the vintage.”
In addition to prompting an early harvest, the warm summer produced fruit with good ripeness levels.
A highlight from Vintage 2018 is the increased production of red wines.
“Production of both Pinot Noir and Merlot has lifted more than 20% on last year, which will be welcomed by both wineries and consumers. These varieties were down sharply in 2017 and it is very positive to see a return to more normal production levels this year,” Mr Gregan says.
New Zealand Winegrowers is confident Vintage 2018 wines will add to New Zealand’s reputation as a premium producer of cool climate wines.
“Every vintage is different and ultimately the final test is the quality delivered in the bottle to consumers. We are certain that consumers will enjoy the benefits of the warm summer when they get to taste the wines from Vintage 2018,” Mr Gregan says.

New Zealand wine exports are currently valued at $1.71 billion, up 3% in the past year. Wine is New Zealand’s fifth largest export good.

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!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Rosé and Low in the Garden. Summer Wine.


La Jara Rosato Frizzante Veneto (IGT) NV, 10% abv, €12.95 Karwig Wines GOOD VALUE
This frizzante is an organic wine, a special cuvée. No mention of Prosecco on this bottle though the grape is the Glera which is used in the region to produce the famous Italian drink, both spumante and frizzante. The cork is secured with string and this confuses some people, confused me up to a few years ago. There is a helpful diagram of a corkscrew on the top of the cork and you can easily open it with the regular one.

It is a very clean and bright pink in colour. There are very delicate aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Bubbles, except at pouring and for a short while afterwards, are scarce enough but do remember that this is a frizzante (semi-sparkling). There is a bubbly feel to it in the mouth and also a biscuity flavour along with some fresh and fruity berry flavours. This very pleasant wine is perfect as aperitif. Get in a few of these for summertime in the garden. Highly Recommended and good value too.

Domaine de Ménard Rosé 2016, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP), 12%, €12.25 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Tannat and the salmon pink colour has more depth than your normal rosé but with a bright sheen. Strawberry and floral notes in the aromas. No shortage of lively red berry flavours. It is fresh (harvest takes place at night) and full with excellent balance. One of the better rosés and Highly Recommended.

Serve it well chilled, they say, with Basque and Spanish cuisine. I’m sure we can come up with something Irish also. In any case, it is delicious on its own. 

La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2016, 7%, €17.06 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny.

The Malvasia di Candia aromatica is the fruit for this moderately sweet bubbly wine. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%. Ripe melon and notes of honey come through on the nose.

Colour is a light straw, lots of micro-bubbles cling to the glass. Not that many bubbles and not for very long. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet (like a French moelleux), honey and fruity and a good finish. Gone up, in my estimation, since the previous year, so now Highly Recommended.