Showing posts with label JN Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JN Wine. Show all posts

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Flavours of New Zealand


Flavours of New Zealand


New Zealand wine-growers came in force to Dublin last Monday and the tasting at the Radisson Blu in Golden Lane was appropriately called Flavours of New Zealand. Delicious flavours both in very approachable entry level wines and even more so in the very desirable top end wines, both in red and white.

Sauvignon Blanc is THE white wine grape associated with New Zealand and, aside from the individual wineries, the event featured a SB Table. The seven wines had been picked by sommeliers who had visited New Zealand on scholarship. I noted three, beginning with the very refreshing Clos Henri Marlborough 2016, imported by Les Caves de Pyrene. We two had a bit of a contest between the Framingham F-Series and the Greywhacke Wild, both Marlborough, and the less expensive Framingham got the nod, both very very good, both distributed by Liberty Wines.
Great to see Findlater still going strong at the New Zealand tasting. They were founded in 1823.
This bike, donated by the company, is an exhibit at the Little Museum of Dublin.

New Zealand is not that well known as a Chardonnay producer. But it is grown throughout the country, reflecting the terroir and the wide regional diversity. This grape also had its own table. Two of the best ones from the eight on the table, I thought, were the Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve (Marlborough) and the outstanding Pegasus Bay Virtuoso (North Canterbury) . Both are distributed here by Febvre.
Stunning Pinot Noir
One to keep!

Mount (Mt.) Beautiful was a winery table with a full hand of excellent well-priced wines and, like quite a few of the wineries here, they are seeking representation in the Irish market. David Teece and his wife Leigh started by purchasing four farms in 2003 and wasted no time in planting vines. We tasted three whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling) along with their Pinot Noir, all certified-sustainable and estate-grown, and all better than normal. Only eleven kilometres from the ocean, the vines are protected by Mt Beautiful and the couple, who also do conventional farming, make the best of their terroir.

We had a similar success at the multi-award winning Saint Clair Family Estate table. Luckily you can get their wines here as they are distributed by Findlater & Co. The entry level Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir were very acceptable and the higher levels had that bit more going for them by way of restraint and sophistication and, yet, the price difference isn’t all that much. Watch out for Saint Clair.
Excellent!

One of the more unusual Sauvignon Blancs came from the well-known Brancott Estate (distributed here by Pernod Ricard). They are one of the vineyards trying to include naturally lower alcohol wines in their portfolio. I tasted one, the Flight 2017 (Maryborough). Just 9% but no lack of flavour at all - very encouraging, like the recent Dr John Forrest one purchased from Marks and Spencer.

Our second stroll around the tables saw us concentrate on the reds and here it was mostly about the Point Noirs! Felton Road had a strong hand as you'd expect from a vinery with a “formidable worldwide reputation for Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir”. They are very special wines and pricey.

I’d have been very happy with the first Bannockburn, a really top notch Pinot at €52.99. And then came their Block 3 Bannockburn, an even better wine, matched by the one from Block 5, each at €79.99. Pricey yes but really very special and imported by JN Wine.

Gru-Vee!
And speaking of special takes me back to Cloudy Bay, distributed here by Edward Dillon. Again there was a great start with the 2016 Pinot Noir from Marlborough (45.60). And then I spotted a Te Wahi from Central Otago. I was told excitedly that this comes from a new project and is produced to be “age-able”. 

Otago is way down south and the fruit comes from two small “very high” parcels. The intent to make it “age-able” is underlined by the use of cork as a closure - all the others on the table had screw-cap. It does however cost €87.90. Happy Birthday. Happy Christmas. Happy Anniversary. I’ll think of something.

Seifried Estate had a full range, everything from bubbles to dessert and including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. I more or less went off piste here and came up with a handy double, from grapes normally used in Austria. Their Grüner Veltliner Nelson 2016 was a beauty (and, dare I say it, a great change from SB and Chard!). And I was equally impressed with the flavour and finish from their Zweigelt Nelson 2014. Both are distributed by Classic Drinks so do watch out for them.

Began to run out of puff (and time) at that stage and had to leave without trying all the tables. Nonetheless it was quite an afternoon of tasting, more than enough to illustrate that New Zealand is a major player and a welcome one in the Irish market, two islands from opposite ends of the world helping one another one in trade even if we knock one another out on the rugby field.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Couples. One White. One Red.


Christmas Couples




A couple of bottles of wine, one red, one white, can go a long way at the Christmas meal. Lots of lovely couples below!







Karwig Double

Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, €21.15 Karwig Wine
It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure!

Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine
This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.

Two from South Africa

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2016 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2014 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

This James Nicholson red is a very popular wine and you’ll see it on quite a few restaurant lists. It is a dark ruby colour, the legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits (plums, blackberries) feature in the enticing aromas, also a touch of vanilla. That fruit is also there on the vibrant palate, a drift of spice too, smooth with silky tannins, well balanced and with an excellent finish.

It is mainly Syrah (86%) and the other grapes in the blend are Mourvèdre (13) and Viognier (1). It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak prior to blending and bottling.

The Wolftrap white was accorded Superquaffer of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine.

It is an unusual blend of Viognier 48% (for spice), Chenin Blanc 41% (melon) and Grenache Blanc 11% (white peach), all contributing to the experience. The different grapes are fermented and aged partially in French oak before blending and bottling. 

It has a very clean light yellow colour with green tints. Pleasant white/yellow fruits, plus floral notes, feature in the inviting aromas. Fresh and fruity, unexpected depth in this elegant body, a lively acidity all through and then a lip-smacking finish.

Two from Portugal

Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo (DOC) 2016, 14%, RRP € 19.99 wineonline.ie

It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.

After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.

Herdade do Peso Sossego Branco Alentejano (IG) 2016, 13%, 
RRP €16.99, Matson Wine Store 

The local tranquility wasn’t too bad either as I opened the Sossego with its light yellow colour and tints of green. Scents of citrus fruit and blossoms, more floral than fruity, enhance the mood. Lively and fresh on the palate, the fruit flavours are balanced by excellent acidity and a good dry finish follows. Refreshing and flavourful. 

The grapes used by winemaker Luis Cabral de Almeida were 75% Antão Vaz, 20% Arinto, 5% Roupeiro. This may be enjoyed on its own or as an aperitif. It pairs wonderfully with various fish dishes, some white meats and an array of salads. 

Australian Pair 

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Chardonnay (Australia) 2016, 13%, €14.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.

Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances it and a persistent finish crowns it.

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95  

“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.

A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.

Spanish Couple

Dominio de Punctum Finca Fabian Verdejo Castilla (Vino de la Terra) 2016, 12.5%, €12.20, Mary Pawle Wines


This Verdejo is made  from organically grown grapes, night harvested and cold maceration before fermenting. Colour is straw yellow, bright and clear and there are white fruits in the aromas, floral notes too.

It is fresh and a little livelier than many Verdejos, excellent fruit flavours and balancing acidity. A lovely drop indeed with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended. Good value also, by the way. 

Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines

This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.

Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value also.

Gary’s Pair

Haven’t tasted these in quite a while but must say I like the look of this pair from the excellent Luis Canas at Gary O’Donovan’s. The red is the Madurado Tempranillo/Garnacha while the white is Viura/Malvasia. Both are 2017 and the total cost of the presentation two-pack is €25.00. 

The white blend is dense and unctuous on the palate, with a good balance between acidity and alcohol. The aftertaste brings notes of ripe fruit and minerality.

The red blend has spent 12 months in oak, is fruity on the nose, all enveloping on the palate while it finishes well with fruit and acidity.

Duo from O'Brien's

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €21.95 (was 24.95).

The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish, also smoked fish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!

d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz Australia, 19.95 
Colour is a clean and bright purple. No need to nose the glass here as the aromas - attractive dark berries and plums mainly - come up to meet you. Terrific fruit too on the palate with great balance, tannins are fine, lovely and a lingering dry finish. Footbolt is a favourite here and Very Highly Recommended.


The Odd Couple

Elgin Ridge 232 Sauvignon Blanc South Africa (from Le Caveau).
Decanter praise: vibrant, at once savoury and saline, yet ripe and tropical. 

Made by Brian and Marion Smith. Marion’s from Cavan. I’ve sampled this a few times and have a bottle in the house for the festivities. Well worth a try.

Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt “St Severin” trocken (Austria) 13%, €14.45 Karwig Wines

This well-priced quality red wine has gorgeous and intense fruit aromas. Also engaging red fruit flavours (cherries, berries, redcurrants), a touch of spice, full bodied and quite dry to the finalé. This is easy drinking, light and bright, not unlike Pinot Noir.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Three of the Best from JN Wine


Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2016 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

This James Nicholson import is a very popular wine and you’ll see it on quite a few restaurant lists. It is a dark ruby colour, the legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits (plums, blackberries) feature in the enticing aromas, also a touch of vanilla. That fruit is also there on the vibrant palate, a drift of spice too, smooth with silky tannins, well balanced and with an excellent finish. This full-bodied dry wine is Very Highly Recommended. 
It is mainly Syrah (86%) and the other grapes in the blend are Mourvèdre (13) and Viognier (1). It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak prior to blending and bottling.

According to The Wine Advocate, Boekenhoutskloof is the only outstanding South African wine estate. The reputation of the winery is built as much on the outstanding value of the everyday wines as it is on the quality of the flagship bottles. This is an outstanding example of one of their everyday wines - the Wolftrap white is another beauty - and goes well with steaks and barbecued meats.

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2017 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online


Boekenhoutskloof was awarded 2012 Winery of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine Guide. This Wolftrap white was also accorded Superquaffer of the Year status in the Guide.

I didn’t know that when I first came across it at a Fish Banquet in Ballycotton’s marvellous Bayview Hotel in September last, enjoyed with a dish that had a quirky title: My Ding A Ling! Better explain this was Torched Ling with Salt Baked Celeriac, Little gem, Hazelnut & Gubbeen Pesto, Smoked Skeaghanore Duck-breast,  a superb combination. And this vibrant wine here made a terrific impression at the table and, with its fantastic aromas and flavours, proved a great match.

It is an unusual blend of Viognier 48% (for spice), Chenin Blanc 41% (melon) and Grenache Blanc 11% (white peach), all contributing to the experience. The different grapes are fermented and aged partially in French oak before blending and bottling. 

It has a very clean light yellow colour with green tints. Pleasant white/yellow fruits, plus floral notes, feature in the inviting aromas. Fresh and fruity, unexpected depth in this elegant body, a lively acidity all through and then a lip-smacking finish. Superquaffer indeed and Very Highly Recommended. Excellent value also.

The name goes back to the early days of the European pioneers who erected a wolftrap. To date, no wolf  (an animal of the northern hemisphere, though there is a relation in Ethiopia) has been seen in the valley!

Domaine Bellevue Chardonnay Val de Loire (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off Licence, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar, JN Wine online


The Loire Valley is better known for its Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon so this Chardonnay is something of a surprise. But a very pleasant one indeed. It has spent some time on its lees, is unoaked, and that, with its northern freshness, gives the wine a lovely mouthfeel, excellent depth of fruit there too. Very Highly Recommended.

It has a lovely mid-gold colour. Intense aromas of pear, pineapple. Fresh and lively on the palate, excellent fruit flavours, and no slacking off in either flavour or aroma in the finalé. Had a glass of this at a FEAST Fish Event in Ballycotton's Bayview. It was paired with Deep fried monkfish, octopus, pea, lemon and potato purée, fried capers, oyster mayonnaise, Jerusalem artichoke chips - the Bayview’s version of Fish ’n Chips!  I was impressed by the wine’s performance. More impressed now after having had a bottle to play with!

It was introduced at the dinner by Richard Reeve of JN Wines. "Chardonnay," he said, "was the variety of the 90s, before oak on the cheap gave it a bad name and it fell out of fashion. It is coming back now in an unoaked style as this is. From a sauvignon Blanc region of the Loire, it is rich and fresh, a big favourite of mine. Enjoy!"

Domaine de Bellevue is situated not far from the city of Nantes and is a young wine estate created in 2005 by the talented young winemaker Jérôme Bretaudeau. By the way, earlier vintages of this Chardonnay had what they describe as “a very good evolution; a conservation of five years seems reasonable”. In other words, you may hold on to it for a few years and it should improve! Recommended pairings are as “a great accompaniment to just about every white meat or fish dish and also makes a delicious aperitif”.




Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bayview's Feast of Fish. Flavour and Fun, thanks to Ciaran & Team


Bayview's Feast of Fish
Flavour and Fun, thanks to Ciaran & Team
Seafood Cocktail

Stephen Belton, GM of the Garryvoe Hotel, welcomed the guests to host venue the Bayview (where he is also GM), for the first big event of Feast 2018. Speaking of Bayview Chef Ciaran Scully, Stephen said he’s never met anyone with “such a passion for food”. And a mischievous sense of humour too as you can see by the second dish being called My Ding A Ling. “Enjoy the flavours and the fun,” Stephen concluded.

Kevin Ahern of Sage was introduced as the driving force behind Feast but he quickly countered that he wasn't the only person pushing the expanded and expanding festival. “We are proud of Midleton’s past festivals but now we want to drive it forward. We see East Cork as a food destination, both nationally and internationally. We want to create revenue in the area, not in just one town. We are very happy with it so far, so many nights booked out already.”
Ciaran's Ding A Ling

The wines for the evening were provided by James Nicholson Wine and their man on the
spot was Richard Reeve. “The wines chosen are a little left field, not the obvious ones (not even a Sauvignon Blanc!)”.  The pairings were excellent and we got more info on the individual bottles as the evening went on.

The first offering from the kitchen was a rather spectacular Seafood Cocktail (Ballycotton Brown Shrimp, smoked eel, herring, trout caviar, confit of tomato, pickled apple, Bloody Mary Jelly, Samphire, Sea purslane, Fried sea lettuce). Lots of flavours and textures there. And the wine chosen, was the Bodegas Coloma Pinot Noir Rosé from Extremadura in Spain. This early release wine has quite a bit of heft compared to the normal rosé and was certainly a winner with the mix in cocktail. A terrific opening all round.
Mackerel

The high standard would be maintained. Next up was My Ding A Ling (torched Ling with Salt Baked Celeriac, Little gem, Hazelnut & Gubbeen Pesto, Smoked Skeaghanore Duck-breast).  A superb combination with that celeriac playing a key role. And the wine here, the vibrant South African Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap white, was terrific and again a great match, with its fantastic aromas and flavours.

Holy Mackerel was the title of Ciaran’s next offering. Basically it was all about the humble fish, the flavour packed pan-fried fillet enhanced by a Roast Miso Aubergine, Pickled mushrooms, peanut powder, Nasturtium, rice crackers. A good fresh wine to cut the oily fish was required here and Richard had just the job in the Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Terre di Chieti Pecorino. An intense aromatic wine with clear mineral notes, fresh with ripe fruits, it matched the mackerel well.

Fish and Chips

Now it was time for the Fish & Chips. The Bayview’s version: Deep fried monkfish, octopus, pea, lemon and potato purée, fried capers, oyster mayonnaise, Jerusalem artichoke chips. Another amazing effort from the kitchen. Richard didn’t have a Sauvignon Blanc but he did have a Chardonnay. The Domaine Bellevue from the Touraine, Loire Valley, was unoaked with excellent depth of fruit and that with its northern freshness gave the wine a lovely mouthfeel, another excellent match.

Time now for the sweet finalé. The Chocolate Trinket Box contained Jameson and Burnt Orange Chocolate Mousse with a Beamish Stout Ice Cream, rich and delicious. The dessert wine came from the Quady Winery in California, the Essensia Orange Muscat 2014.

A superb night of fish and wine again at the Bayview. Great how Ciaran chooses these events to highlight the super qualities of fish that we don't always rate in Ireland, such as the Ling and the Mackerel in this case.

Still lots to do in Feast. Check the remaining events here