Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Caveau. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

La Stoppa Trebbiolo. “Youthful and purple and vibrant. Cries out for a big plate of charcuterie.”

La Stoppa Trebbiolo 2021, 12.5% ABV.

RRP: €25.50.  Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

Youthful and purple and vibrant. Cries out for a big plate of charcuterie.

This remarkable Trebbiolo, named after a local river, comes from the hills near Piacenza in Emilia Romagna and is produced by Elena Panteleoni, “one of the most powerfully charismatic voices of the natural wine movement” according to

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Fattoria di Vaira Vincenzo Bianco, brimming with the promise of juicy goodness

Fattoria di Vaira Vincenzo Bianco 2021, 12.0% ABV

RRP: €20.95. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

Brimming with the promise of juicy goodness

Our blend in hand, which is organic, is dry and aromatic with a cloudy golden hue, brimming with the promise of juicy goodness.  On the nose, it's a delightful dance of white flowers, apricot, and peach, with a touch of pine and herbal intrigue. The palate is surprisingly dry and refreshingly herbaceous, with hints of orange peeking through. Light tannins and lively acidity keep it balanced and ensure a crisp,

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Rodano's Chianti Classico reflects a sense of place and tradition

Rodano Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019, 14.50% ABV

RRP: €23.80. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

“Reflects a sense of place and tradition”

Our gorgeous Chinati Classico has a bright ruby colour with a garnet rim. Aromas are soft but fairly intense with cherries, forest fruit and an earthy hint. The savoury fruit is well balanced by the striking acidity and the long finish is enhanced by lingering red fruit flavours plus a hint of smoke.

Importers Le Caveau are happy with it: “..great to taste a

Thursday, May 2, 2024

A must-try from the Monferrato Hills: GAIA “Brich” Barbera Piemonte

GAIA “Brich” Barbera Piemonte (DOC) 2021, 14% ABV

RRP: €18.45. Stockists: 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau


A must-try from the Monferrato Hills 

This beautiful wine from the Monferrato Hills is a must-try!“Brich” is derived from bricco, the Piedmont dialect word for hill top or crag, while in Italian, it means jug!

This organic wine has a dark ruby colour, and fruity aromas of cherry and blackberry. On the palate, it boasts ripe dark fruit flavours with a juicy, spicy, and fresh acidity. It has a smooth and elegant finish that leaves a lasting impression. 

It is Very Highly Recommended and pairs well with pasta dishes with a meaty sauce, salami or cheese and it is perfect with pizza!

Brich is a collaboration between Gianluca Ravizza of Cascina Gaia and Eric Narioo (Vino di Anna) in the hilly Monferrato region of Piedmont. The vineyards cover 20 hectares of rolling hills, surrounded by an ancient forest, and include an orchard and working farm.

Barbera makes some terrifically exciting wines. 

The recently published VINO acknowledges that “the grape has played second fiddle to Nebbiolo for years” but also insists that Barbera “is capable of making some terrifically exciting wines”. 

According to Grapes & Wines (2015) about half the Piedmontese vineyard is given over to Barbera, “and it is from Piedmont that the finest, most concentrated examples come”. With Brich, we’re in the right place, on the right track, right here!

This post is part of a series of Italian wines that are produced by usually small or medium-sized wineries, are organic and made from native grapes. Taking some “guidance” here from the recently published VINO. Mightn’t always net the hat trick but hope to score two from the three each time. I have quite a few lined up but I’m happy to consider any suggestions or help. #OrganicItaly

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

“One of the best bottles of Verdicchio in the world.” Collestefano Verdicchio Di Matelica.

Collestefano  25 Anni Verdicchio Di Matelica (DOC) 2022, 12.5% ABV 

RRP: €19.25. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

“One of the best bottles of Verdicchio in the world.”

The colour of this outstanding organic white is a pale gold. Aromas are herby, grassy, and minerally, reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. With its herbal tang, it is lively and refreshing on the palate, lime zesty with the tartness of green apples and quince. And, like many Italian wines, the crisp acidity means it is superb with food (“seafood ready” is a term I've heard used in connection with Verdicchio from this area). 

More and more

Friday, April 12, 2024

“A truly remarkable glass of white”. Occhipinti SP68 Bianco Terre Siciliane.

Occhipinti SP68 Bianco Terre Siciliane (IGT) 2022 11.0% ABV

RRP €29.95. Stockists: 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau

A truly remarkable glass of white”


The colour is a deeper shade of gold than you might expect. This organic wine has spent 155 days maceration on the skins. The aromas are also quite complex, white flowers, moderate tropical fruit (think lychee, mango) and a mild spice. 

Strongly aromatic, yet this blend of two little-known Sicilian varieties, 60% Zibibbo (a regional name for Muscat of Alexandria) and Albanella, is surprisingly light on its feet as it dances across the palate, unveiling layer after layer of flavour as you sip, and meditate, to a very satisfactory finish indeed. 

It is packed with vivacious character, a drink to remember. As Le Caveau say: “A truly remarkable glass of white”. Full of juice, joy and vitality, this stellar wine is one to savour. Very Highly Recommended.

Arianna Occhipinti, the winemaker, learned the ropes as a 16-year-old from her uncle Giusto Occhipinti who is well-known for his use of Spanish amphorae at COS, a winery he founded in the area with two friends in 1980. 

Arianna has been learning well before and since launching her own winery in 2006. She has a big interest in reviving forgotten Sicilian grapes and is indeed credited by the recently published VINO with bringing Frappato back to life “almost single-handedly” and has become a “rock star in the world of natural wine.”

All the vineyards are worked using biodynamic principals and the work in the cellar is measured…not pushing the wine in any way…letting it find its own space…..natural yeasts, no temperature control, no fining or filtration and minimal SO2 at bottling.

The SP68 is the name of the main road that passes near to Arianna’s home town of Vittoria….it lies in the far south of Sicily just to the west of Ragusa. She also produces a red SP68 and you may read a recent review of it here


Her vines are grown organically, under the clear Iblean sky, with no chemical intervention. The farming system is Guyot and spurred cordon and the average age of the plants is 15 years. Harvest time is late September into early October.

Vines (via Occhipinti)

In the winery, fermentation is with indigenous yeast and it spends 155 days of maceration on the skins, then 6 months in concrete tanks, plus 1 month in bottle, and there is no filtration.


Thursday, April 4, 2024

Foradori Tasting at Ballymaloe. Superb organic wines from native Italian grapes

Foradori Tasting at Ballymaloe

Superb organic wines from native Italian grapes.

Holiday weekend or not, you can always bank on Ballymaloe for an excellent tasting. That is exactly what we experienced in a packed upstairs at the Grainstore when Theo Zierock came to East Cork bearing no less than seven amazing organic Foradori wines from the family’s Trentino-Alto Ridge vineyard.

The magnificent Dolomites look down on their vineyard. “We make wines that speak of the mountains and the valleys. We don’t make wine like they make in Bordeaux.” Not that he was doing down the wines of Bordeaux or indeed those of any other region. He was simply saying that each area, each terroir, has a wine story of its own to tell.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

A Sicilian gem by the dynamic Vesco family. Ciello Rosso ‘Nero d’Avola’

Ciello Rosso ‘Nero d’Avola’ Sicilia (DOP) 2022, 12.5% ABV

RRP: €14.50. Stockists include 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau 

A Sicilian gem by the dynamic Vesco family

This sprightly Sicilian red, crafted by the dynamic Vesco family, is fighting fit and full of freshness and vitality. Made from organically grown Nero d'Avola grapes, it boasts a  ruby hue (not quite the vino nero that it is often called) and an enticing bouquet of black plum, hints of coffee, and subtle chocolate notes. On the palate, the wine sings of the high hills with a pleasant spiciness and smooth dark fruit flavours.

Sustainable viticultural practices

Nearly two decades ago, the Vesco family took the helm at the winery, implementing sustainable viticultural practices and investing in cutting-edge technology. Their commitment to quality shines through in their organic vineyards perched high in the hills above Alcamo.

Ideal Terroir, Exceptional Results

Certified organic and planted on southeast-facing slopes with sandy soils (150-300 meters above sea level), the vineyards benefit from a climate perfectly suited for nurturing high-quality grapes.

Ciello Rosso's grapes are harvested earlier than many in the region, contributing to the wine's characteristically bright and fresh style. Night harvesting and modern temperature-controlled fermentation further ensure the vibrancy and freshness of the final product.

Stands out from the crowd

Ciello Rosso stands out from the crowd. Unlike some overripe styles, this Nero d'Avola offers a refreshing and contemporary expression of the grape. The result? A delightful and versatile wine, perfect for enjoying on its own or paired with food. See also our recent review of their matching white, the Ciello Blanco Cattarrato; both are terrific natural wines for everyday drinking, a pair perfect for conversation rather than meditation.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Italian Natural Wine Royalty Represented At Le Caveau Spring Portfolio Tasting In The Old Apple Store

 Le Caveau Tasting In The Old Apple Store.

Italian Natural Wine Royalty Well Represented  

Colm McCan (l) of #lecaveauwinemerchants with artist Tom Campbell in the Apple Store (Barrack St Cork) Wednesday.
Pic taken during Le Caveau spring portfolio tasting where Tom ( 
#tomcampbellart ) was guest artist.

Celebrating 25 years, Le Caveau moved its annual Cork Spring Portfolio back to the 200-year-old Apple Store for the first time since 2019. For much of its life, the building facilitated the local apple trade. Its most recent and continuing role is as headquarters and collection branch of the Neighbourhood Food organisation.

The modest high-ceilinged building proved quite an eye-catching venue with plenty of artwork scattered around the stone walls, quite a bit of it (lots of dogs) created by Tom Campbell, the guest artist on the day.

Time to Garg 'n Go

Humble it may be but the Apple Store also showcased the amazing wines of Italian Natural Wine royalty. Angiolino Maule, Arianna Occhipinti, Elena Pantaleoni and Elisabetta Foradori are names to remember and respect and in each case are featured pictorially (and otherwise) in a recent in-depth study of wine in Italy, VINO by Joe Campanale. This book concentrates on artisanal producers, exceptional terroir and native grapes. Joe and Le Caveau's Pascal Rossignol sing from the same hymn sheet.

Angiolino Maule and his family are featured because of what he is doing to his Garganega grape which got a bad rap through its association with mass-produced Soave. Nowadays, in the Veneto region, Maule is doing "as little as possible to his Garganega grapes in order to illuminate their mineral spirit". 

Le Caveau stocks his delightful La Biancara Masieri Rosso and Bianco. But it is not all serious stuff here. Produced with Garganega and vinified in stainless steel, Garg’n’Go is a fun, approachable sparkling wine (a frizzante) and that was the very first one we tried and enjoyed in Barrack Street. It is vinified in stainless steel and bottled at the end of February. Refermentation in bottle is started with dried Garganega must. 

Similarly, Arianna Occhipinti, who celebrated her 20th harvest in 2023, is well-known for her SP 68 Rosso and Bianco, each named after the neighbouring highway in Sicily where she operates. Her "Il Frappato," a red, is also listed in "VINO" as a top pick

At the Apple Store,  SP68 Bianco was on show but, with one in the queue here at home, we gave it a skip and moved on to her Siccagno, our first red of the day. That too got a big thumbs up and, as it is a terrific expression of Nero D'Avolo. It is fermented with native yeasts with 30 days of maceration. It ages 22 months in large 25HL Slavonian oak barrels and is bottled unfiltered.

Chief fancies

Campanale calls her "a young force of nature" and lauds her "resurrection of Frappato". She is not the only family member producing excellent varietal Frappato (rather than as part of a blend with Nero D'Avolo). VINO sums her up by saying "she embodies the future of Sicilian winemaking in particular and, one hopes, of Italian winemaking in general".

Elena Pantaleoni inherited La Stoppa vineyard in Emilia-Romagna in 1991. It took her a while but she eventually "turned hard towards nature". Elena has visited Cork and it was with her at a Le Caveau lunch in Skibbereen that I was introduced (not only me) to the marvellous Ageno, an amazing orange wine, a blend of 90% Malvasia and 10% Ortrugo, named after the previous owner, who hailed from Genoa

She has ripped up French grapes such as Chardonnay in favour of native ones and VINO emphasises that she also has a gift for blending. We would see that gift in the old Apple Store as Wine #116 was La Stoppa's Trebbiolo Rosso, a radiant light blend of Barbera (mostly) and Bonarda. The name Trebbiolo is derived from the name of the nearby Trebbia River valley and it isn't a combination of Trebbiano and Nebbiolo! 

Elisabetta Foradori is praised by VINO as the "Queen of Teroldego". She is also its saviour. She took over the family vineyard as a 19-year-old and immediately took the side of native grapes that many looked down on. These included Teroldego. She had her ups and downs (including "A Year of Extreme Weather" according to their 2023 Harvest Report) in a long battle but eventually, Teroldego now has the respect it deserves. If you haven't already done so, treat yourself to a bottle!

Manzoni Bianco was another of those unfashionable grapes and we tasted it for ourselves here. This is a single vineyard expression from the Fontanasanta vineyard. Manzoni Bianco is an early-20th-century crossing of Riesling and Pinot Bianco created by Luigi Manzoni. Manzoni Bianco is not unfashionable nowadays and the Foradori version can be highly recommended. 

It was #106 at the Apple Store and, according to my companion, knocked the socks off #105, a Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelica that I highly regard and which Le Caveau lauds as "an Italian classic". The fruit grows in their 15 hectares nestled in a cold and dry microclimate alongside the Esino River between the Appenine Mountains and the Adriatic.

I confess to leaning towards brighter and more elegant Matelica than the Verdicchio of its neighbour Castelli di Jesi which can have a little more by way of fruit. Actually, that superb Metelica was one of several Italian wines not made by my "big four" in the tasting.
Grub's up.
Thanks to Simone


Denavolo Catavela is, after four months on its skins, an exuberant wine that is amber in colour, full of character, dry, tannic with aromas of yellow plums, dried flowers and more. It is a blend of 25% each of  Malvasia, Ortrugo, Trebbiano and Marsanne. An orange wine but it is still very much at home in the white zone!

That was the last of our whites but we still had some excellent reds to go through, beginning with the impressive Barbera Brich Agricola Gaia.

No duds here at all in the old shed, as you might expect from a wine company celebrating 25 years. The good wines continued with the delicious Palmento red by Vino di Anna. Anna is an Australian who while travelling in Europe met Eric Narioo. In 2007, they settled in Sicily, in Etna,  and this is where our red comes from.


In VINO, Monte Dall'Ora's Alesandra and Carlo Venturini are shortlisted as one of the top producers of Amarone/Valpolicella in Veneto. So I was expecting good things from their Valpolicella "Saseti" from the hills outside Verona. And I got it in spades, red fruits all the way to a fresh and tasty finish. It is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Molinara. The label features five wine-coloured handprints, those of husband-wife winemakers Carlo and Alessandra Zantedeschi and their three children.

The Rodano Chianti, wearing its 15% lightly, lived up to its Classico designation and, like the Palmento, is available by magnum and bottle. Though small and artisanal, Fattoria di Rodáno is a top source for classically made, user-friendly and complex Chianti. The Montefalco Rosso ‘Pomontino', from Umbria, with its large Sangiovese input (80%), maintained a high standard in the Le Caveau portfolio as did the Rosso di Caparsa, another Sangiovese wine.

For me, the star of this final red wine lap was the Casina Bric 460 Mesdi Rosso. This is 100% Nebbiolo and quite an amazing introduction to the stunning wines of Piemonte. One to watch, one to order!

High standards all the way then without touching anything from France, Germany or Austria. Next time!

How much is that
doggy in the window

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Nothing Added Nothing Removed. ..100% grapes. A superb Binner Saveurs from Alsace

Binner Saveurs Alsace (AOP) 2020/21, 14% ABV

RRP: €25.95.  Stockists include 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Nothing Added Nothing Removed. ..100% grapes.

Gentil, a multi-blend white, is one of my favourites from Alsace. Besides, I am always happy to drink a Binner wine, so I had no hesitation in ordering this Saveurs, also a multi-blend, from Le Caveau.

The colour is an enticing bright gold and though the wine is unfiltered, there is only a slight cloudiness evident. Orchard aromas are on the other hand very evident and the pear, apple and peach are light and enjoyable. This array of aromatics continues all the way through and the palate has much the same flavours and is also well balanced with a fresh kick of acidity.

Very Highly Recommended. 

Haven’t seen any suggested food pairings but during the evening, I laid my hands on a pack of those delicious Apple Crisps by Con Traas of The Apple Farm in Cahir and they were quite a match for the Saveurs.

Check out  our Top Wines 2024 list (with stockists and short reviews) here 

Looking for better value? All under 20 euro. Click here

This Saveurs is a blend of 2 vintages (2020 and 2021). These were two 2 contrasting vintages, one was hot, ripe and rich, and the other was cooler and focused. Blending both brought the kind of balance and vibrancy Christian Binner loves.

The grapes, Le Caveay tell us, are mainly Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Auxerrois with a little Sylvaner, Chasselas and Muscat. The wine was aged on its fine lees, in large oak vats.

Not too sure if Binner produces a Gentil but this Saveur is a fantastic introduction to the family wines and indeed to their wine heritage that began in 1770. They operate 11 hectares of vineyards in and around Alsace including some prestigious Grand Crus.

They proudly proclaim this as a RARE wine: “Nothing Added Nothing Removed. ..100% grapes, without filtration, without sulfur or any added input.”

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Church Lane trip well worth it, even in the rain.

 Church Lane trip well worth it, even in the rain.


While home-cooked Sunday lunches chez moi are hard to beat, the recent arrival of Church Lane in Midleton piqued my curiosity at the weekend. Though the morning's weather was "apocalyptic" in co-owner Barry Hennessey's words, a well-timed dry (ish) spell and a nearby car park saved the day.

Stepping inside, a glass of Chateau De Cedre Marcel pushed back the weather blues. The concise wine list, featuring four whites and reds by the glass, included this delightful Malbec, a terrific reminder that Cahors is the home of this grape and can still come up with some gems.

Church Lane offers daily lunch, dinner from Wednesday onwards and a Sunday roast special, and promises more exciting additions (my receipt even mentioned new specials!). Last Sunday's Roast of the Day, chosen by regulars through a competition run in the previous week, was lamb. 

Given the team's impressive credentials, including chef Jamie Cullinane's experience under London's Richard Corrigan and his work in renowned local establishments (such as Ardmore’s Cliff House, Mallow’s Longueville House and Castlemartyr Resort) , our expectations were high. Barry and his brother Colin Hennessey co-own the business and they did well to get Jamie on board.

The lamb, reasonably priced at €17.50, surpassed expectations. Perfectly cooked and accompanied by delicious roasties, well-done root vegetables, and a generous jug of gravy, it was a complete success. Sharing a bowl of smooth mashed potato further enhanced the experience.

While CL slightly prefers regular potatoes to the purple ones accompanying her well-presented Roasted Plaice with trout roe butter sauce, she still thoroughly enjoyed the dish. The presentation was equally appealing, quite a plateful, also at €17.50.

Desserts, often a disappointment even in high-end restaurants, pleasantly surprised us. The shortlist presented two winners: a seasonal Rhubarb, Crème Patisserie, and Beetroot Meringue, and my choice of the classic Vanilla Creme Brulée with shortbread. I found myself slightly favouring the seasonal offering (I begged a few spoonfuls).

Rhubarb dessert

Church Lane is a vibrant space. On entering from the street, you'll find the restaurant to the right, through a brick arch. The large bar is to your left, where dining is also available, an option often chosen by midweek diners. Weekends offer live music and the opportunity to watch a game in a lively atmosphere.

Quite a lot going on here and you may stay up to date by checking their Instagram or Facebook

By the time we made our exit, very happy with the food and the service, we were glad to see the rain had eased off as we didn’t fancy sprinting (😉 ) up the lane on a full stomach!