Showing posts with label Liberty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liberty. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Livio Felluga Sharis Bianco Venezia Giulia. From one of the exceptional producers in the area

Livio Felluga Sharis Bianco Venezia Giulia (IGT) Sharis 2022, 13% ABV.

RRP €32.95. Stockists: Barnhill Stores, 64 Wine, Drink Store, Jus de Vine

from one of the exceptional producers in Friuli Venezia Giulia

This Chardonnay and Ribolla Gialla blend from Venezia Giulia, has a gold/yellow colour. Vibrant aromas are floral and fruity, quite intense, with hints of juniper and elderberry. Fresh with tropical fruit on the tangy palate. 

You may also notice the

Friday, May 3, 2024

"A light and fruity beauty, easily drunk." Pedro Parra's ‘Vinista’ Itata, Chile.

Pedro Parra ‘Vinista’ Itata (Chile) 2019, 12% ABV

RRP €25.95. Stockists: The Cinnamon Cottage /
JJ O’Driscoll Superstore Ballinlough / Donnybrook Fair /
The Corkscrew / Avoca

"A light and fruity beauty, easily drunk." 

An attractive light red colour is a feature of this Pedro Parra ‘Vinista’. Aromas are also light and inviting with cranberries, some spice and herb as well. No shortage of that fruit on the light and vivacious palate either, all complemented by a gentle kick of acidity. Fruity and light along with featherweight tannins. String quartet rather than full orchestra, it is immediately harmonious right through to the engaging finalé. 

‘Vinista’ comprises 100% País sourced from 120-year-old vines, aged in concrete and stainless steel. Pais is a red grape variety of great historical importance. It was the first Vitis Vinifera grape variety to be exported (via the conquistadores) from the Old World to the New World in the 16th century. It is known as Criolla Chica in Argentina and as Mission in California.

Pais is pronounced as pah-ees. Don’t say no just because you’re not familiar with it. You’ll miss out on a light and fruity beauty. An easily drunk wine and Very Highly Recommended.

Pedro Parra (via Liberty Wines)

Pedro Parra is a major favourite of mine. He has spent decades working internationally but bit by bit realised he really wanted his own vineyard and winery and so he set up in Itata near the ocean, 500 kms south of Santiago, the capital of Chile. And this Vinista, the fruit sourced from 120-year-old vines planted at 300 m above sea level, is one of the results. It was my wine of the year in 2020. 

Besides wine and family, Pedro’s other great love is jazz music. His three single-vineyard Cinsault ‘Premier Cru’ wines are aptly named after legendary musicians: Freddie Hubbard, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.

You may well spot DO Secano Interior Itata on the label. It means  Itata Interior Dryland (secano meaning 'dry land' or 'unirrigated') and is the special DO for wines made from País or Cinsault in the area of southern Chile between the Mataquito and the Bío-Bío rivers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

"Why don’t we see more Chardonnays from Beaujolais?" Dominique Morel Beaujolais-Villages Blanc.

Dominique Morel Beaujolais-Villages Blanc (AC) Chardonnay 2022, 12.5% ABV, 

RRP €23.95. Stockists: The Cinnamon Cottage; JJ O’Driscoll Superstore Ballinlough; Higgins Off Licence;

"Why don’t we see more Chardonnays from Beaujolais?"

The colour of this Beaujolais Chardonnay is a lovely mid-gold, pristine in the glass. The vibrant aromatics feature blossom and citrus. On the palate, it is sprightly and crisp, light and fresh, nicely acidic. 

This fresh unoaked beauty is a wine with much to offer, including an elegant finish. With good fruit and acidity and moderate alcohol, it is quite versatile at the table, well endowed with the potential to feature as a terrific house wine in a restaurant.

One of the best Chardonnays around and Very Highly Recommended.

So why don’t we see more Chardonnays from Beaujolais? Mainly because the growers concentrate on the Gamay grape whose red wines are so much sought after. 

At the same time, there is a fair bit of Chardonnay grown here. Indeed, Jean Bourjade, then MD Inter Beaujolais, told a Cork audience in 2016 that as the Macon overlaps Beaujolais, many white wines made in northern Beaujolais are sold under the better-known Mâcon appellation.” Just to underline the point, Mâcon is less than a 25 minute drive from Émeringes where Morel ia based.

Ten years ago Christine and Dominique started on the adventure of exploring the possibilities of white in a region that is devoted to red. Importers Liberty tell us that the Blanc is made from Chardonnay planted on granitic-clay soil, producing a wine with distinct freshness and excellent fruit concentration. 

The grapes are gently pressed and fermented in stainless-steel tanks, to preserve delicate fruit aromas. All work in the vineyard, including harvesting, is done by hand. The vines are an average of 15 years old. The resulting wine then undergoes lees-ageing for four to five months, lending texture and roundness to balance its vibrant acidity.

Morel’s Recommended pairings: Avocados stuffed with prawns, scallops, fish and chicken vol au vents, fish mousse, frogs’ legs, mixed salads, button mushrooms in cream, andouillette with white wine, veal curry, chicken curry. As an aperitif with appetisers. Serve at 10 degrees.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Pedro Parra's delighful blend of Pais and Cinsault from Chile's Itata

Pedro Parra's delightful blend of Pais and Cinsault from Chile's Itata

Pedro Parra Pencoplitano Itata Chile 2019, 12.5% ABV 

RRP €28.95. Stockists include The Cinnamon Cottage and JJ O’Driscoll Superstore Ballinlough

This blend of Pais and Cinsault from Pedro Parra is a delightful and refreshing wine. It's light red and has a distinctive spice on the nose and palate. The tannins are fine and the acidity is vibrant. 

Pedro is a renowned soil and vineyard mapping expert always seeking the best soils for a variety. He has had much success with Cinsault. The other grape here, Pais (Mission in North America), is important in Chilean wine history, being the first Old World grape brought to the country.

Don’t be afraid to chill this a little, especially in summertime. There was a little sediment in my bottle, so you may wish to decant.

Highly Recommended.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

The versatility of Portugal wine, featuring Vinho Verde, Lisboa and Alentejano

The versatility of Portugal wine, featuring Vinho Verde, Lisboa and Alentejano*.

Part IV (Vinho Verde, Lisboa and Alentejano).

Part III (Alentejo) 

Part 11 (Douro, Dão, Alentejo and Setubal.)  

Part 1 (Minho) 

Evaristo Vinho Regional Lisboa Tinto 2021, 13.5% ABV

RRP €15.95. Stockists: Red Nose Wine, Searsons Wine Merchants, Pinto Wines, Barnhill Stores, Neighbourhood Wines, Bradleys, Hen and Hog, O'Driscolls Off Licence, Myles Creek, Ely Wine Store, Morton’s Ranelagh, Donnybrook Fair, Simply Delicious, Foxrock Ave, Flemings Butchers Kilmacud, The Vintry Rathgar.

Diversity could well be Portugal's watchword, a least in terms of grapes, says Foot Trodden. “Its vineyards teem with native varieties that are rarely seen outside the country. The fashion for ripping them out in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay never took hold in Portugal..:”  And with all those varieties available, blending was more or less inevitable and is well illustrated with this Evaristo.

This comes from Lisboa, formerly Extramadura, a prolific wine region located at the centre of Portugal's Atlantic coast, across the mouth of the neck of the estuary of the Tejo (Tagus, the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula) from the more southerly Setubal. “Despite being one of the country's most productive winemaking areas, its name remains relatively obscure in wine terms,” says

It has a dark ruby robe. Vibrant aromas of ripe cherries float up from the glass. Cherries and dark berries burst open on the palate where a crisp acidity provides balance. Very ripe and refined tannins make for a plush and lasting finish. Portuguese winemakers often use oak but the talented Diogo Sepúlveda refrained from so doing in order to retain the vibrant fruit flavours,

This easy-drinking wine is bursting with flavour and is Very Highly Recommended. And, by the way, great value.

Like the majority of the country’s reds, this is a blend and the grapes used in this instance are Touriga Nacional (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet.

The cartoon crow on the colourful label is a nod to Saint Vincent, the patron saint of Lisbon. Legend has it that a flock of crows escorted the ship that returned his remains to the city and still keeps watch over the cathedral where he is buried to this day.

The Lisbon area is a bit like Chile in that it has a wide range of climate variations. Coastal vineyards situated to the west of the region experience a cooler microclimate and produce grapes with great freshness and aromatics. Vineyards found further inland are more sheltered from these cooling influences and bring a riper aroma profile and body to the blend. Blending the different characteristics and getting the correct results is something in which Diogo is so talented as he demonstrates once again with this dark and rich Lisboa gem.


Check my growing list of top wines for 2023



Check out my Good Value Wine List here


Azevedo Alvarinho Vinho Verde (DOC) Reserva 2021, 12.5% 

RRP €18.95. Stockists:  Blackrock Cellar, Baggot Street Wines, McHughs Off Licence - Kilbarrack Road, Michael's Mount Merrion, The Wine Centre, Clontarf Wines, World Wide Wines, Thomas Woodberrys, Hen and Hog, O'Driscolls Off Licence

The vineyards of Azevedo, in north-west Portugal and very close to the Atlantic, date back to the 11th century when they were granted to the Azevedo family by royal decree. A thousand or so years later, this 2021 showcases the best of the Alvarinho which many consider the best Portuguese white grape variety.

Amazing how Albarino (the name of the grape in neighbouring Spain) has taken off in Ireland over the past decade or more but you don’t see that much Alvarinho here. Many wines from Portugal are blends, sometimes with many grapes, and the less experienced customers find it difficult enough. But this one is 100% Alvarinho, surely not more difficult to pronounce than the successful Spanish equivalent.

When Fernando Guedes acquired this historic estate in 1982, he revolutionised the viticulture by planting 35 hectares of cordon-trained vineyards, rather than the traditional high-trained pergolas, and built a modern winery with state-of-the-art facilities for the production of fresh and elegant wines. Today, under winemaker Diogo Sepúlveda, they make an impressive range of wines, all marked by a signature freshness and pure and precise flavour. 

This 100% Alvarinho is one of them, even though the 2021 vintage was a tricky one, Diogo was very pleased with the quality. It wasn’t rushed in any way in the winery. After fermentation, it remained in stainless steel tanks for three months, during which time the lees were stirred to add textural complexity to the palate.

Colour is a straw yellow. Aromas are quite intense, zesty. And the refreshing flavours hint of lime, melon and nectarine. Quite a lively acidity brings the flavours, with a touch of salinity, all the way to a balanced and refreshing finalé. Pair with fish tacos (like those served in Cork’s Good Day Deli) and ceviche.

Highly Recommended

Foot Trodden refers to Minho (the country’s second biggest wine region after the Douro) as “Portugal’s sister region to Galicia”. Here in the Spanish homeland of the ancient Celts, Rias Baixas, also wet and green, is home to the crisp light and refreshing Albarino. Minho is best known to us, and around the world, as the area of Vinho Verde and this bottle is designated with that DOC.

Esporão 2019 Alentejano* (IG), 14% ABV 

€14.40 (reduced from 18) O’Donovan’s Off Licence Cork

Esporao is fast becoming something of a favourite around here.

Alentejo is an area in the southeast of Portugal and it is where this organic red wine comes from. Like most Portuguese wines, it is a blend and the grapes used are Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Touriga Franca. 

The country has scores of native grape varieties in regular use, the two Tourigas above for instance. The Alicante Bouschet is an important variety in Alentejo. It is one of those grapes where both the skin and the flesh are red, that is to say a teinturier grape. It first saw the light of the vineyard in France in the late 1800s where it was bred as a cross. It does very well in Alentejo where, as reported by Grapes and Wines, one of its best producers is our Esporão.

Anyhow, though Portugal is never boring,  enough of the background stuff.   Deep ruby is the colour. Ripe fruits, mostly red, waft out in the aromas, with a little spice too along with a herbaceous note. It is quite fresh with a silky texture, that ripe fruit prominent with a touch of spice but superbly balanced right through the persistent finish. 

Highly Recommended.

The producers: The Wine is produced solely from grapes grown at Herdade do Esporão, applying organic farming methods. It expresses the typical features of the vintage year, the diversity of the soil where the vines are planted, as well as the character and identity of the selected varieties.

This is a Portuguese wine region located in the Alentejo region. The entire region is entitled to use the Alentejano IG designation, while some areas are also classified at the higher DOC level under the designation Alentejo DOC. More here from Comissão Vitivinícola Regional Alentejana.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Hits All The Right Notes

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Hits All The Right Notes

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) Vendemmia 2020, 13.5%ABV

RRP €25.99. Avoca. Neighbourhood Wines. Mitchell & Son. 64 Wine. Sweeney's D3. Power & Co Fine Wines. Blackrock Cellar.

You’ll notice that this wine is designated DOCG, the highest in Italy. Rufina is one of the sub zones of Chianti and got its DOC In 1967 and the DOCG followed in 1984. Today the Chianti Rufina appellation, extending over 750 hectares, is the smallest appellation of Chianti.

A small area then but with quite a wine, made from the Sangiovese grape, the key grape in Chianti and the most planted in Italy as a whole. You may well be surprised that it is planted so widely in the country but it comes under a number of aliases including Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti, Torgiano Rosso, Montefalco Rosso, Rosso Di Montalcino, Morellino Di Scansano and Rosso Conero! Confusing for sure.

This vibrant ruby red sees blackberry and cherry feature in the aromas, along with herbal and spicy notes. It is elegant on the palate where it is ripe and juicy (with red fruit flavours) and where its typical refreshing acidity help maintain the superb balance all the way to the charming finish with its floral notes. Elegant and precise and with good length, this Chianti Rufina is Very Highly Recommended, especially if you like the lighter styles.

Rufina may be a sub-zone in Chianti but is a highly regarded.  Its best wines are a match, some say more than a match, for those from Chianti Classico. This producer is one of the best and produces the wine from the area’s famous Sangiovese grape (with a touch of Canaiolo). It is aged for 12 months, some in steel but most in oak casks and barriques.

The usual advice is to buy your Chianti from Chianti Classico, the name given to wines from the original historic boundaries. But Wine Folly writes: Both Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina are likely to be of higher quality, since they are made in smaller quantities from distinct historical areas. Our Rufina certainly underlines that point.

By the way, if you come across an olive oil from Tuscany with Selvapiana on the label, it is from this same producer and is superb. It is not just a sideline here as in many vineyards. The estate covers 250 hectares, 60 of which are planted under vine (95% being Sangiovese), 36 are olive groves, and the rest is covered by woods.

This Rufina is Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A stunning Pinot Gris from New Zealand’s Marlborough

 A stunning Pinot Gris from 

New Zealand’s Marlborough

Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris Marlborough 2022, 13.0% ABV

RRP €24.99. Stockists: Red Island Wine Co. World Wide Wines. Bradleys Cork.

The name Pinot Gris is well down the list when people think of the different grape varieties. So what is it? Is it part of the Pinot family? Pinot Gris (better known to most of us as Pinot Grigio) is a pink grape mutation of Pinot Noir as is Pinot Blanc. 

While Pinot Gris, as Pinot Grigio, is grown in many countries, it is mostly associated with Italy but is increasingly grown in New Zealand’s Marlborough. Our excellent example comes from Fiona Turner’s Tinpot Hut winery there. Tinpot say it is a dry style with fresh pear, white peach & spice notes. 

Very pale straw is the colour here. Aromas are fragrant, led by pear, peach and lime with a streak of spice there too, all a build-up to an amazing palate,  intense ripe fruit flavours, succulent and beautifully balanced, silky with good weight, lip-smacking and the flavour-packed finish lingers. Very Highly Recommended.

The Tinpot Hut story began in 2003 when winemaker Fiona Turner and her husband Hamish established their own 20 hectare vineyard in Marlborough’s emerging sub-region of Blind River.

When I met her in Cork’s Electric, a good few years back, Fiona explained that the name of her range of wines comes from a historic Marlborough mustering hut; that ‘Tinpot Hut’ links the area’s sheep farming past with its current state as one of the world’s most dynamic wine regions.

Fruit is sourced from Fiona’s ‘Home Block’ and is supplemented by grapes from selected vineyards. She is assisted by Matt Thomson, a friend and colleague with whom she has worked for many years.

The 2022 growing season was characterised by La Nina conditions. Warm flowering conditions and regular rainfall during berry sizing meant rigorous canopy and yield management was crucial to bring the vines and yields into balance, producing fruit of exceptional character. 

In the winery, once settled, the clear juice was cool fermented in stainless steel using an aromatic yeast to help tease out the delicate flavours, and to retain the fresh fruit characteristics and underlying spicy notes, ( a very successful operation indeed!)

Tinpot advises matching with Asian cuisine, a summer barbecue or winter roast chicken. Wine Folly suggests: white meats, seafoods and food with a fruit element (lemons, oranges, peaches or apricot).

Marlborough, on the north-eastern corner of the South Island, is well known for its excellent Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. You may  also add Riesling and Pinot Gris to that list. And if you want good examples of each of them be sure and check out  Fiona’s Tinpot Hut range that extends to superb Chardonnay,  Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Two Very Fine Viogniers. One from the Rhone, the other from South Africa’s Paarl.

Two Very Fine Viogniers. 

One from the Rhone, 

the other from South Africa’s Paarl.

Ferraton Viognier Collines Rhodaniennes (IGP) 2019, 13.5%

€19.50 Ardkeen Grocery Store, Waterford// Little Green Grocer,

Kilkenny// Manning's, Ballylickey// The Olive Branch, Clonakilty.

This mellow full bodied Viognier, from the Northern Rhone, comes in a lovely bright yellow colour with green hints. Apricot (with pear and orange) plus floral notes combine to promise much as they lead the aromas. And the promise is well delivered on the cheering palate, soft and thick, fresh and vibrant, all the way to a very pleasant fruity finish. 

It comes unostentatiously (it is after all the relation and neighbour of the ultra-famous, and much more expensive Condrieu), laden with a sack full of delicious scents and flavours. Very Highly Recommended.

Collines Rhodaniennes more or less covers the entire Northern Rhone, stretching from Montélimar (well-known for its nougat) in the south to Lyon (capital city of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region) in the north, and its IGP replaces Vin de France. 

The fruit for this Ferraton is grown on the right bank of the Rhône, along the foothills of northern Ardèche. The terroir is composed of granite and decomposed granite. Traditional agriculture methods are in use and the harvest is carried out manually when the grapes reach optimum ripeness. 

It is recommended to serve this wine at 12-13°C as aperitif, with foie gras, with salads, with grilled meat and all fish dishes. Wine Folly suggests dishes flavoured with almonds, citrus, stewed fruits, and aromatic herbs such as Thai Basil and tarragon. And, with its apricot influences, you could also try it, as Grapes & Wines indicate, with pork or chicken with an apricot stuffing. Also, the Armenian dish of trout and apricot should be another match.

I often wonder does the name of this grape put newcomers off buying a bottle, especially if you have to pronounce it. Here’s how: vee-own-yay. Much of the Viognier we come across here in Ireland is from France but it is grown around the world and finding favour in Australia and California in particular. And we've got another good one below from South Africa.

Charles Back

Fairview Viognier, Paarl South Africa 2020, 13.5% 

RRP €24.99 The 1601 /

The South African Viognier by Fairview has a bright light gold colour with exotic fruit aromas along with subtle oak notes. It is vibrant and refreshing in the mouth, rich and complex with apricot shining through, peach and lime in there as well. A lively acidity contributes to the balance along with the subtle oak. It feels close to creamy (thanks in part to its time on lees). And there’s a long lasting finish. Very Highly Recommended.

The grapes were hand picked in the early morning and whole bunch pressed. Only the free run juice was used. Sixty per cent of the Viognier was fermented in French oak barrels (20% new) with the remaining 40% fermented in stainless-steel tanks. After fermentation, the wine was left to mature on lees for eight months, with regular stirring, prior to being blended for additional texture and body.

The fruit is sourced from the vineyards at Fairview farm in Agter-Paarl. These trellised Fairview vines are grown on the slopes of Paarl mountain, on decomposed granite soils. Summer canopy management practices including leaf removal and shoot positioning ensure optimal sunlight penetration into the canopies.

I heard owner Charles Back and wine-maker Charl du Plessis, in a Zoom presentation the year before last, say the high cropping level is a problem. “We need to manage the canopy. Treat it as a red grape early on, the aim always is to get the correct balance between the alcohol and the tannins.” I reckon they got it spot-on in 2020.

That year, unlike previous vintages, was very good, not just for the region, but for South Africa in general. Winters were cool with sufficient rainfall. Spring was mild and summer saw warmer temperatures allowing fruit to ripen at a steady rate. The Viognier was harvested between the 2nd - 7th February.

The Fairview website, naturally enough, is proud of the achievements of owner Charles who  was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the International Wine Challenge in 2014. He is a true pioneer of the region, credited with bringing Mediterranean varieties to the Cape. 

“One of the (many) gifts that Charles Back has brought to Cape wine was, and still is, Fairview Viognier. Planting the mother block of this French grape in 1994, Charles and team have nurtured this variety to bring you a gorgeously aromatic and refined wine. A must try!”