Restaurant Reviews. Food. Markets. Wine. Beer. Cider. Whiskey. Gin. Producers. . Always on the look-out for tasty food and drink from quality producers! Buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together, the further we will go. Contact: email@example.com Follow on Twitter: @corkbilly
Facebook: Billy Lyons
So how does an Austrian wine get to be called Koreaa. Some years back, Beck’s rented an old vineyard, originally parcelled out in the 1950s. It was then so far away from the village that people said of it that you might as well be going to Korea (the war was on in that country at the time). So, decades later, Judith decided to use that as a name for this wine.
You will see too that this is a Gemischter satz. What is that, you might well ask? I asked too and Le Caveau tell me it is a field blend, mainly Grüner Veltliner and Scheurebe but also composed of Welschriesling, Weissburgunder, Muskat and some Zweigelt (a red grape). Spontaneous wild yeast ferment is followed by 6 months in old oak barrels on its lees.
For me, the most important word on this wine is Beck, now one of my favourite wine-makers. So I have confidence when I approach this bottle with its light orange colour and it unusual melange of aromas: marmalade, honey, fresh herbs. In the mouth it is lush for sure with exotic flavours but importantly there is good acidity so all is in balance before that lip-smacking finish, for this is essentially a dry wine. Something different and Highly Recommended.
A Vin de France and also called Vin de Frantz (after the producer) is made from the fruit of 30-year old vines, fermented in stainless steel. Le Caveau tell me it is “great with simply prepared fish dishes”.
Vin de France as you probably know more or less replaced the old Vin de Table and covers the whole country. But this vineyard is in the tiny Montlouis appellation, which has to put up with living in the shadow of the much better known Vouvray on the other side of the river Loire. Montlouis is about halfway between Tours and Amboise.
This excellent organic Sauvignon comes in a light gold colour. Citrus features in the moderately intense aromas. It has an engaging attack, lively and pleasantly tart, pleasantly fruity too (gooseberry). Fresh all the way to very good finish. Highly Recommended.
The late Renato Ratti has been credited, at least in Vino Italiano, with being “The Father of Modern Barolo”. He took that wine by the scruff of the neck in 60s and his more accessible style became a hit.
The production of classic affordable Piedmont wines goes on, now under the direction of son Pierro Ratti and “..the wines keep getting better” according to Vino Italiano.
This is a mid to dark ruby colour. Rich aromas of dark red fruits (berries, cherries, plums). Light and lively on the palate with engaging flavour and also a lively juicy acidity. A touch of sweetness too and a persistent finish. A terrific harmony between fruit, acidity and tannins, distinguishes this lovely wine with its rich body. Highly Recommended.
Pair with hearty dishes especially those featuring red meat and it will also do the business with aged cheese.
Much of the red wine in Piedmont is made with the Barbera grape. Alba is the town in the centre of the region and so you get the typical Italian combination in the wine’s name Barbera D’Alba. * By the way, Karwig’s still have some wines left for you in their closing down sale which is due to finish on August 16th.
Esprit de Crès Ricards Marsanne-Roussanne Pays d’OC (IGP) 2017, 13%, €14.50 Karwig Wine
This Esprit is part of a series made by Crès Ricards from local grapes. I’ve always liked these two, either solo or in a blend (as is the case here) and that’s why I bought this in Karwig’s. It is 70% Marsanne.
Colour is a mid-straw, bright and clear. White fruit and floral notes on the nose. Intense and lasting flavours, passionfruit and honeysuckle, make this a pleasant experience from rich and fresh attack to the apricot affected finalé. Highly Recommended.
Interestingly, one of the suggested pairings is blue cheese. Maybe not that surprising anymore. In Matt Kramer’s book, True Taste (2015), he wrote: “…. increasingly, the most serious lovers of cheese choose white wines over red. This would have astounded our wine- and cheese-loving forebears.”
The winery suggests seafood, fish, poultry dishes and, yes, blue cheese, and also as an aperitif. As you probably know, Karwig's are closing their business in Carrigaline and a closing-down sale is in progress. You may well get this one at a better price than above.
Casa de Mouraz Encruzado Dáo (DOC) 2016, 13%, €21.00 Mary Pawle
In 1997, Casa de Mouraz became the first biodynamic winery in the Dao. Portuguese grapes aren't that well known individually in this country. Encruzado, the grape here, is “potentially the best white grape of the DAO” according to Grapes and Wine. Barrel fermentation and lees stirring help bring out the character. It is indigenous and regarded as the most important white grape in the region and this particular wine has had eight months on fine lees with batonage.
The first thing you’ll note is that the cork is covered with a wax. Just remove that with the blade on your corkscrew. It is fairly soft but be careful!
Colour is a mid-straw. Aromas of medium intensity recall white fruits and citrus, floral notes too. Fresh fruit flavours (apricot, peach), excellent mouthfeel, acidity enough to nudge it towards crisp and a decent citrus-y finish too. Highly Recommended.
Food pairing: Oven baked fish (such as codfish, salmon or tuna). Also very good with white meat and some vegetarian dishes like pasta with pesto or cheese sauces. Aside from handling full flavoured fish dishes (also the Portuguese favourite bacalao), it is excellent on its own. very versatile indeed.
Joe Karwig (RIP) and yours truly a few years back.
Not the kind of news, I'd prefer to highlight, but many of you will already know that the Karwig family are in the process of closing their wine business in Carrigaline. You may have seen this statement from Betty and Jurgen:
To all our Karwig Wines supporters,
We would like to announce that after 40 years of business, we will be closing Karwig Wines later this year. Karwig Wines has solidified its reputation for quality wines and personalised service throughout the years. We are proud of what we have achieved as a family business and are thankful for the opportunity to finish well.
There are many people we could pay tribute to for this. We would like to thank our dedicated staff for their work and to our suppliers for entrusting us with their wines. Most importantly, we would like to thank our customers. We could not have achieved any of this without your business and loyalty to us throughout the years.
It has been a memorable journey with you all and we think Joe would be proud of the legacy he has left behind. All of our wines are now being sold at a reduced price in our shop until closure. We look forward to seeing you all in the coming weeks.
Two things you should know about this lovely wine from near where the Saar River joins the better known Mosel. It has an ABV of just 8% and it is on the sweet side. Not overly sweet by the way, fairly close to what the French label as Moelleux.
It is a very pleasant aperitif and Karwig’s suggest pairing it with fruity desserts, creamy cheese varieties, chutneys of pineapple and fig, vanilla ice-cream with red vineyard peaches, shrimp steaks with fruity and spicy sauces as well as the general Asian cuisine.
It has a very light straw colour. White fruit (peach, citrus) in the aromas, along with a hint of diesel (that more or less vanishes as you sip). Sweet-ish on the attack but finish is good and dry. In between, enjoy the balance of fruit and acidity in this light white. Juicy and refreshing, it is indeed a very pleasant wine to sip and is definitely Recommended.
Brouilly is the largest and most southerly of the Beaujolais crus and this bottle, from plots located at the heart of the appellation, has quite a lot going for it.
Colour, a mid to dark ruby, is a bit darker than some other Beaujolais wines. In the aromas you’ll find ripe red fruits (berries and plums), typical of the region. Really vibrant flavours, tannins close to smooth, good acidity too and a long dry finish. Highly Recommended. Karwig Wines have relied on Chateau du Chatelard for years now and I’ve always liked this Brouilly, an excellent expression of the Gamay grape, the dominant one in Beaujolais.
* The prices quoted above come from a month or two back, so it's probable that you'll get a reduction if you call to Karwig's over the coming weeks.
This is a bit of an ambush. Nothing in the colour (a weak red) or in aromas (delicate) quite prepares you for what lies ahead when you sip this Languedoc blend of Syrah (mostly) and Grenache. “Smile inducing.” “Sings in the glass.” Quotes from importers Le Caveau and I fully agree.
That weak red colour is very close to a rosé. And the aromas have a delicate red berry nose, a touch of white pepper too. It is a pleasant surprise in the mouth, supple and pretty, with quite a lively character, reaching a high level of quality.
Despite the initial doubts, I totally concede: this is exquisite, distinctive too, closer to a Beaujolais than one would think possible in a Southern red with Syrah as the main grape. Perhaps the sea breezes wafting in over the spiralling red roofs of Collioure have something to with that and with the lower ABV. If you are looking for a pretty and light red wine, and many people are nowadays, then look no further than this Highly Recommended red.
Octobre is released each year in… October; 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache grown on granitic soil, hand harvested and spontaneous carbonic fermentation, no SO2 added. Jean-François Nicq, one of the Foulard Rouge (red scarves), took over the domaine in 2002 and practices natural wine-making and you can taste it in this pure wine.
Contrefours du Delta Côtes de Ventoux (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle
There is an increased interest in lighter red wines in recent years and, if you’d like to try one, this bottle fits the bill. It is an organic wine from the southern edge of the Rhone Valley, a “supple and juicy” blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah.
Mid ruby is the colour. It is aromatic with a mix of red fruits (raspberries and strawberries included). It is indeed charming and light, juicy and a refreshing drop with a decent finish, tannins just about noticeable on the lips. Can be served cool too, so handy for the warmer days ahead. Well made and Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.
Pairing tips included grilled lamb with thyme, goat cheese or with a fig tart.
Do you need a light summer-time red for that pizza or pasta?Check out this easy-drinking well-priced wine Tuscan wine from Karwig’s. Sangiovese is the grape and it is a major grape in that part of Italy, its reputation reinforced over the years by its role in wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti itself of course, and also Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. You’ll note rich dark red fruit (cherry, plum) in the aromas. Well balanced on the palate, light fruit and lively acidity, a touch of soft tannins towards the finish. Easy drinking and Recommended.
Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling (Rhinegau) 2017, 12%, €16.90 Karwig Wine
I’ve long been a fan of Carl Ehrhard’s wines. I met the man himself at a Ballymaloe wine event a few years back and there he described Riesling as “the most fantastic white variety”. This particular bottle is one of his everyday wines but an above average one, well priced too.
The Rheingau is the spiritual heart of German wine, the birthplace of Riesling, according to the World Atlas of Wine. The area in general is well known for its dry Rieslings - “full bodied with racy acidity”.
Colour is a light straw with greenish tints and you'll note micro bubbles clinging to the glass. Aromas are a gentle mix of apple and citrus, with the slightest hint of diesel. There is that trademark tingle on the palate. Intense fruit, now led by citrus, and that bracing and refreshing acidity combine well all the way to a long and satisfying finish. This dry wine is Very Highly Recommended.
Might be no harm, I say to myself, to get a few of these in for the summer evenings in the back garden. Perfect for aperitif and with seafood and Riesling is regularly recommended for Asian food. The vinification is directed towards preserving the natural fruit and, not for the first time, Mr Ehrhard succeeds. One of the most reliable winemakers.
We’re on a good thing here. I’ve given the 2013 vintage a big thumbs up in the past and this 2015 is also Very Highly Recommended. I have the guys at Grape and Wines “behind” me as the book lists Bourillon as a leading maker of Chenin Blanc and, in addition, lists this Coulée d’Argent as one of the top five classic dry Loire wines.
Chenin was first planted in the Loire in the 15th century and still the best Chenin wines come from here. Quite a range actually as the grape is used to make sparkling wines, dry wines, even sweet ones. But this one is dry, very dry, you’ll note the sec on the bottle. You’ll also see the words Vieilles Vignes (old vines) on the label.
It has a mid straw colour. Moderate aromas, with quince, apple and pear to the fore. On the palate, it is bone dry with mouthwateringly high acidity. That expected minerality is not shy either though it is moderated by the fruit and even a touch of sweetness. It has quite a strong character, the body having a little more heft than expected, and also an invigorating finish. It is made from those old vines and has been aged on its lees for six months. This bracingly dry Chenin Blanc, from what is regarded as the homeland of the variety, is excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial Sardon de Duero 2014, Castilla y Leon (VDT), c. €36.00 Karwig Wines
“Our winemaker Ángel Anocíbar likes to describe Selección Especial as a compendium of each new vintage in the Abadía Retuerta estate. And the recently released 2014, …., is one that he finds particularly satisfying.”
This is how the winemaker at Abadia introduces this wine and it is indeed a particularly good one, outstanding in fact. The winery is just outside the Ribera del Duero and so cannot use that DO hence the Vino de la Tierra of Castilla y Leon on the label. But don’t let that put you off - this is excellent, as good as many Ribera and Very Highly Recommended.
It is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 17% Syrah and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vintage produced some 390,000 standard bottles, 22,000 magnums and 1,800 double magnums. Seems like a lot of wine but, at the same time, if you want it, I’d hurry on down to Karwigs and get a bottle or two. Don’t think it’s available anywhere else in Ireland.
Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are intense, of blackcurrant, cherry, vanilla. Fruit flavours are concentrated, a touch of spice, abundant fine-grained tannins a benign factor. Vintage conditions were excellent and this rich wine is a polished expression of the fruit and the year. Eleven months in oak, French and American, help make this a harmonious wine, smooth and easy drinking. A very special selection indeed.
Surprisingly, the winery offers “our very own Selección Especial cocktail”. I didn’t try it but just in case you want to give it a go, this is the recipe:
5 cl. (1.7 fl oz) Abadía Retuerta Selección Especial
6 drops of Droplets Fresh Ginger
2 cl. (0.7 fl oz) Chambord
1 spoonful of Apple Pie syrup
4 cl. (1.4 fl oz) pineapple juice
Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake well and serve in a Martini glass and garnish with Luxardo cherries on a skewer.
Chateau de Chatelard “Cuvée Les Vieux Granits” Fleurie (AOC) 2016, 13%, €20.30 Karwig Wine
Fleurie, like all ten Beaujolais crus, is in the north east of the region. Here the Gamay grape, thrives on the granite soil, the wines always refreshing and never short of acidity. Fleurie, with delicious cherry scents, flavours of red berries, is an elegant and excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.
And this Chatelard, as you may guess from the name, is made exclusively from vines planted on an old pink granite hillside. The Gamay, by many accounts, flourishes here. This is a happy wine.
It has a mid ruby colour. And aromas of ripe red fruits. Bright and juicy fruit flavours, enlivened all the way by a refreshing acidity. Delicate tannins too on hand as it reaches an impressive finalé. This elegant and engaging wine is Very Highly Recommended.
The winery reports that, after pressing, the ageing is done in tanks on very fine lees to preserve the maximum freshness. They suggest pairing it with fillet of pikeperch, truffled sausage Lyonnais, oysters served with small sausages, venison terrine with cherries, Poulet Bresse, Lobster Sashimi. A few interesting ones there for you.
The first thing you’ll notice about this wine is that Garnacha is displayed prominently on the front label. This is to distinguish it from the more usual Tempranillo. El Coto has six or seven vineyards in Rioja and these grapes come from their Los Almendros vineyard.
They say that Garnacha was, for years, “a disparaged variety due to its complex viniculture, but prepared and aged in barrels matched to its delicate and complex character, it results in very pleasant wines, with a lot of fruit and a good body, very much in line with the demands of the consumer of today.”
I certainly liked it very much. It has a mid-ruby colour with a lovely sheen. Pretty intense red fruit aromas, hints of vanilla. Juicy and fruity (cherry and more), fresh with balsamic notes, good acidity, fine tannins in a long finish. A vibrant harmonious wine, easy-drinking and Very Highly Recommended.
The character of the fresh fruit has been carefully respected during its 12 months in 225-litre American oak barrels (followed by six months in bottle). It comes to you silky and velvety with good intensity. Serve at 16 to 18 degrees. Perfect, they say, with white meat, certain fish (especially cod), veal and mild cheese.
Casa los Frailes Trilogia Valencia 2011, 14.5%, €19.00 Mary Pawle Wines,
This compelling organic wine from the south east of Spain is a blend of Monastrell (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20) and Tempranillo (10) and aged for 12 months in Hungarian oak.
It has a dark ruby colour and the legs are slow to clear. Rich powerful aromas with blackcurrant perhaps the more prominent. Super concentrated flavours of ripe fruits, fresh acidity and more than a touch of spice. This layered award winner finishes dry and long. Could be kept for a few years yet but it gives great pleasure right now and is Very Highly Recommended.
Casa Los Frailes “was certified organic in 2000, being one of the very first ones in Spain. 15 years later, we are convinced that we do not only need to respect and sustain the land, but also transform it and make it a livelihood. As a result, we embrace biodynamic agriculture as an inspiration pattern and model.”
This is Spanish Wine Week in Ireland. Check here for details of the main events.
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.
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. Andthis, 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).
Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura
Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 9%, €17.96 Mary Pawle Wines
One variety, one river. It says on the label. Better tell you about the variety as I had to look it up myself.It is 100% Loureiro. Wine-Searcher says it is a thin skinned white grape variety native to northern Portugal and used to make the ever trendy Vinho Verde wines. Taking its name from the laurel or bay-leaf plant for its resembling aroma, Loureiro wines are refreshing with a slight effervescence. They have fresh acidity and are low in alcohol making them a perfect wine to enjoy on its own or with light meals.
Many of you will be familiar with Vinho Verde wines from the north west coast of Portugal which has a relatively cool climate, perfect for growing vines. Quite often Loureiro is used in a blend. Food pairings suggested include with canapés or seafood. It also pairs raw fish in a flawless fashion (sushi, sashimi) and dishes of strong and exotic flavor (especially oriental food).
This organic crisp and dry wine, from Casa de Mouraz, has a light straw colour. Aromas of peach and apricot, orange blossom too. It doesn’t have the obvious petillance that you sometimes get in Vinho Verde but there is a quite a tingle on the palate. Fruit is light and lively and the high acidity reinforces its refreshing nature. This low alcohol Vinho Verde, even without the bubbles, is Highly Recommended.
A grape name that is not very familiar on Irish shelves features in this white from the north west of Spain. Treixadura is grown mainly in Spain and in Portugal where they call it Trajadura. It is usually blended. This one though is 100% Treixadura and has been aged on its lees.
It boast an attractive light gold colour, lots of tiny bubbles cling to the glass. Aromas are fresh, both fruity and floral. Flavours of peach and apricot mainly, also citrus; it has a lovely mouthfeel and the citrus is more in play through to the long finish. Wouldn’t mind a few examples of this one, Highly Recommended.
Seafood is widely considered a match, eg clams in tomato sauce, seared scallops with herb salad. Red peppers stuffed with cheese is also recommended.
A keen sense of anticipation as I opened this one, pulling out a cork that had been there for about eleven years. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot and has been one hundred per cent raised in oak (40% new).There is no let-down here, quite the contrary. I decanted for an hour as advised and served somewhere close to the 16-18 degrees on the label.
Colour is a dark ruby with lighter rim; legs are slow enough to clear even if the abv is not that high. Ripe fruit aromas (blackberries, blackcurrants), a touch of chocolate too. Ample and fleshy, classic and elegant, spicy too, soft and well integrated tannins, a superb finish, fruity, smooth, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended. Look out too for the 2010 as it is supposed to be even better!
Pair with hard cheese, grilled lamb or a juicy steak.
Cru Bourgeois is an evolving classification: Since 2010, the official selection has been published annually. Criteria: The quality and value of red wines produced in one of the eight Médoc appellations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe.
Each year, between 243 and 278 properties, often family-owned, form the Crus Bourgeois Alliance, accounting for more than 40% of the Médoc's production. From the 2016 vintage, there are three tiers of quality; Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. It is an evolving system! Read more about it here.
This award winner from the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers has quite a dark ruby robe. A great bouquet of ripe cherry and berry, smoky notes too. Intense flavour, a touch of sweet spice, tannins are very soft, superb character and it has a lovely lingering finish. Well balanced, well made. Well, try it! Very Highly Recommended.
It is a Bordeaux Supérieur and is, as is usual in these parts, a blend. The grapes are Merlot (about two thirds) and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged for about 15 months in oak barrels (new barrels and ones used for 1 or 2 previous vintages).
Chateau Turcaud recommend pairing it with full-flavoured meats such as rib of beef, game, duck breast, and strong cheeses. and say it is best decanted one hour before the meal. The wine name comes from the Sauve-Majeure Abbey that overlooks the vineyard and that I had the pleasure of climbing a few years ago, all of its 159 steps.
While you may not immediately associate Austria with Sauvignon Blanc, Steiermark, to the south west of Vienna and next door to Slovenia, is synonymous with fresh, aromatic white wines, particularly Sauvignon Blanc.
Here’ll you find the Wohlmuth winery who also produce wine from other grapes such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muskatteler, and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Blaufränkisch, most of which are available via Karwig’s. Wohlmuth, by the way, is regarded by The World Atlas of Wine, as a producer of “some of Südsteiermark’s most elegant wines”.
This Sauvignon Blanc is classed as trocken (dry) and it is. It has quite a light lemon colour. Moderate intense aromas, herbaceous, leafy, hints of mint. On the palate it is light and gently fruity (ripe nectarine, peach, melon) and the lively acidity is a balancing factor. A really pleasant and elegant drop and Very Highly Recommended.
Wohlmuth say it goes well with asparagus with gravadlax salmon; chicken breast with red pepper sauce. Please take note also that they advise serving it at 12 degrees - they know what they are talking about and the advice will help you get the very best out of a top notch wine!
Trocken is dry, which is the case with many Austrian wines.
Blauer Zweigelt is a red grape variety, widely grown in Austria.
St Severin is the wine name.
This well-priced quality red wine has a dark ruby colour, lighter at the rim. 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. Overall though this is easy drinking, light and bright, not unlike Pinot Noir, and is Highly Recommended.
The winery, which is situated 70 miles west of the capital Vienna,recommends matching it with game, beef and “a lot of cheese varieties”.
Domaine Machard de Gramont Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune (AOC) 2012, 13%, €19.95 Karwig Wines
This elegant refined wine is a beauty from the high slopes of the southern Côte d’Or. Its colour is a very light red, even for a Pinot Noir. Delightful aromas of red berries (strawberry) welcome you. Fresh and smooth, more supple (muscle, if you like) than expected, more flavour than anticipated, velvety, comfortably compelling right through to the fabulous finalé. Very Highly Recommended.
The mainly red region of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is regarded as the poor relation of its lower altitude neighbour Cotes de Beaune. Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is more picturesque but its vineyards are cool and exposed, the fruit slow to ripen. Careful replanting (to face the sun) and a more traditional approach has paid off over the decades.
At their best, according to French Wines (1999), “these light wines are supple and fruity and offer good value for money”. This Gramont, with the emphasis on its fruit character rather than on its weight, is an excellent illustration as to how the gap between these Burgundy neighbours has closed and the current opinion seems to be that Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is now only slightly less prestigious than the neighbour!
Mas Cuvée Secrète, Merlot - Cabernet Franc, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 14%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
Colour of this red blend is a dark ruby. Aromas are rich and jammy, black berries, plum, cassis. Fruity (black and red) again on the palate but beautifully restrained, fresh acidity too and a long pleasant finish. This well-made vibrant young wine is Highly Recommended. Good value too.
Jean-Claude Mas has been working on the “Cuvée Secrete” wines for seven years. This Organic Cuvée comes from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes with low yields. It had no added sulphur and offers great richness – a lovely wine from the Languedoc region which is the perfect match to grilled meat, pasta, cheeses and fruit tarts.
Merlot is widely credited with giving this opulent wine its complex flavours but the Cabernet Franc must be credited for the engaging Loire-like freshness.
A couple of bottles of wine, one red, one white, can go a long way at the Christmas meal. Lots of lovely couples below!
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.
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.
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.
Dominio de Punctum Finca Fabian Verdejo Castilla (Vino de la Terra) 2016, 12.5%, €12.20, Mary Pawle Wines
This Verdejo is madefrom 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.