Showing posts with label James Nicholson Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Nicholson Wine. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

James Nicholson at The Opera House. No Shortage of Stars

James Nicholson at The Opera House
No Shortage of Stars
Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof
James Nicholson Wines, came, saw and conquered at the Cork Opera House last Monday, three South African producers starring in the impressive portfolio tasting. Burgundy's Bertrand Ody of Chateau De Beauregard had just three wines but what a superb hat trick. Verdicchio featured strongly at organic Umani Ronchi; the Plenio was amazing. Liked too the Freestyle Range from Domaine Gayda (Languedoc), especially the easy-drinking Cabernet Franc.

Louis Strydom of Ernie Els Wines was proud to fly the flag for South Africa: “We over-deliver at every price point”. And I think the best examples of that were his Sauvignon Blanc (16.95) and The Big Easy White, a 100% Chenin Blanc (14.95). “The Chenin is our most planted grape, our most exported wine. We are proud producers of the grape. This is uncomplicated, lemon, zesty, great noses. Very versatile, excellent for the on-trade. And it ages well.”

The Els Proprietor's Cabernet Sauvignon (34.99) is a good one. But I had a slight preference for the Proprietor's Syrah (29.99). It is 95% Syrah and is called Syrah (rather than Shiraz) to indicate that it has been made in a Rhone style. The big one here though was the Ernie Els Signature 2012 (58.99), a Bordeaux blend with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, some Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
Over-delivery came to mind again when tasting the Wolftrap Red 2014 (14.49). Winemaker Marc Kent was on hand to explain that it is a blend that includes Syrah and Mourvedre. They marry nicely. Marc, from the Boekenhoutskloof winery in Franschhoek, was much in demand as he had the iconic Chocolate Block (29.00) up for tasting and that, with 73% Shiraz in the blend, had no shortage of fans.

And there was no shortage of South African quality at the Rustenberg stand where I met Murray Barlow. His basic Sauvignon Blanc (14.75) and especially the “quite complex” Chardonnay (18.99) were excellent. The John X Merriman (19.99), named after the previous owner, an estate blend of mainly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, is quite superb, even if still young.

Top of his whites though, and one of the very best in the room, was the Five Soldiers Chardonnay (35.95), excellent fruit and finish here. And there was also a very high class red, the Peter Barlow 2009 (35.95). This is named after his grandfather who bought the property in 1941. It has spent two years in oak and four in bottle. “This has seven years on it,” he said. “And is getting better.” Before we left Murray, we enjoyed a sip of their Straw Wine, a farewell treat!

Nicolas Sordon of  Demazet had a beautiful Armoires White 2013 for just €12.99, same price as the entry level Verdicchio Villa Bianchi from Umani Ronchi. But the Verdicchio to get your hands on is the Plenio. Not sure it is available here yet but do try the Casal di Serra 2013 (17.99), fresh, fruity and aromatic.
Leticia of Grupo Pesquera
And then, at the Grupo Pesquera stand, there was a white or was it? This the 100% Alejairen 2012 (25.75). It spends 8 days on lees and then two years in US oak. It has many of the characteristics of a red.

By the way, they use all US oak here and Alejandro Fernandez was “the first to make a 100% Tempranillo wine”. More US oak, two years again, has had its impact on the excellent Dehesa la Granja 2007 (19.99). It is full bodied, great with food and “we expect it to be better with time”.

Nicholson’s themselves had a big selection of their other wines on show and I very much enjoyed the Soalheiro Alvarinho 2015 (18.99). Great acidity here with nicely restrained fruit, a really good example of the grape.

And they also had the very affordable and very good Uno Pio Uno 2015 (14.95). This is a blend of Primitivo and Nero Troia. It is organic, is new to the Nicholson range and is already selling well. I could see why.
A Very Good View!

I suppose we should never be surprised when we see something different from the Languedoc but I did ask Tim Ford of Gayda about the lovely fresh Cabernet Franc (21.99). “There are not many in our area,” he said. "But our winemaker is from the Loire and he insisted on making it. It is my TV wine!” I certainly loved it as I did the more serious Chemin de Moscou 2013, its seductive palate with restrained fruit followed by  a great finish. It is an IGP and the blend is 62% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 6% Cinsault.

I didn't get to all the tables but one I wasn't going to miss was Chateau De Beauregard from Burgundy and the three top class wines that Bertran Ody was showing. The St Veran 2014 (22.85) and the Pouilly Fuisse 2013 (28.95) were real treats but my favourite was the Fleurie Classique 2012 (22.85), with its floral aromas, fruity palate, its smoothness and long finish. Superb.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wines from Spain Take Over in Little Island

Wines from Spain Take Over in Little Island
Meeting up at last with Mary Pawle
Met some old faces and some new at the large 2014 Wines from Spain Tasting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island (Cork) last Wednesday. As a teenager I was often up and down the road, then a country lane, outside Ditchley House where the hotel is located. Good stories there, but I think I'd better stick with the wines.
With a sherry workshop with César Saldaña, Consejo Regulador Jerez, imminent, time was pressing so I didn't have the chance to get to all the tables but I was determined to get to one in particular. I've been chatting on Twitter, on and off, from home and abroad, to Mary Pawle, so it was great to meet up in person and taste some of her gorgeous organic wines.
The 2012 Lignum Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay) and the 2011 Lignum Negre (Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon), both DO Pinedes, are her “flagship” wines and one can taste why. Well worth trying. From the same organic producer, Albet I Noyo, comes a terrific Tempranillo Classic 2012. This is truly excellent. “The vineyard are very proud of this one, “ said Mary. “They feel it is  a true expression of the Tempranillo.”

Sparkling! Brid Carter
Always delighted to meet the folks from Karwig and they had Frank and Marcus in attendance. Started here with a couple of whites produced from the Airen grape but, wouldn't you know it, it was an Albarino that caught the taste buds here, a complex well balanced 2011 effort by Vina Almirante. Keep an eye out for this as it has been highly rated by Decanter.
Bren Smith of Mackenway was next door to Karwig’s and he had some tempting reds on offer including the Museum Real Reserva 2006. If the budget doesn't stretch to the 2006 (22.99), the Vinea Crianza 2009,from the same producer, is recommended at €17.99.
In between, there are two other reds worth looking at. One is the Coto de Imaz Reserva 2008, a Rioja Tempranillo, and the other is the Las Rocas Garnacha which has lots of flavours and a good dry finish. Do you like Verdejo? I do and I’d recommend their Montespina 2013, DO Rueda, by Avelino Vegas, fresh, clean and zesty.
Simple label says much.
At the James Nicholson table, the Paco Garcia Seis 2012 Rioja Tempranillo went down well though perhaps not quite as well as the Baltos 2011 Bierzo by Dominio de Tares, made from the local Mencia grape. But the big news here was the imminent departure of their long time rep Conor O’Brien. He is off to pastures new and he introduced us to his replacement Richard Reeves, well known from his time at the Chop House in Lismore. Best of luck to both of them.
My introduction to Brid and Colm Carter, the friendly couple behind Honest2Goodness wines, came via a refreshing drop of their gorgeous cava, the DDLV Brut NV. No wonder I was impressed as this is produced by Dominio de la Vega, three times best Cava producer in Spain! Brid and Colm’s wines come from organic certified producers and from suppliers who farm with respect for the environment.
When I went back to their table for the reds, Colm introduced me to “a steel fist in a velvet glove”. Frenchman Francois Lurton’s Tinta de Toro 2011 is impressively smooth yet so well balanced that its 15.5% abv is well disguised. Bodega Los Barrancos, in the Granada area, is organically certified and their 2008 Corral de Castro is another gem. Indeed, they had a very impressive line-up of reds here and another ace was the Tres Patas 2008 (DO Mentrida), a blend of Garnacha and Syrah.
Superb Cava from Honest2Goodness
You can see that Colm, on his wine travels, gets to areas others just don't reach. Next time, I must take a closer look at their whites and, of course, have another sip of that Cava.
By the way,while on a drive through La Rioja one day in 2012, I called to a few vineyards, the last being the unusual glass-cubed Bai Gorri near the ancient town of Samaniego. We were received by a young Spanish lady who had learned her English in Cork, right here in Little Island!.

Ins & Outs at James Nicholson.
Conor O'Brien (left) and replacement Richard Reeves.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week

Jurancon, Ballet d'Octobre, Domaine de Cauhape, France 2009

Been celebrating this week and finished off a gorgeous midweek meal in Star Anise with a glass of this lovely wine from the Basque country.

My first experience of Jurancon was the very good dry white from the area and that is what I thought I was getting when, in a rush to stock a Dordogne gite, I put my hand into a carton marked Jurancon on the floor of a Lidl in Sarlat and pulled out a bottle.

It was only when unpacking at the gite that I noticed the deeper colour. But no problem. It is a lovely medium sweet (moelluex) wine and quite versatile. It may be used as an aperitif, with some patés and foie gras and with certain cheeses and fruits desserts. And why not have a glass after the meal as we did in Star Anise. Certainly, worth a look and an ideal first step into the world of dessert wines. Very Highly Recommended.

Available at Star Anise and via James Nicholson Wines