Showing posts with label MacCurtain Wine Cellar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MacCurtain Wine Cellar. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2022

A stunning white blend from Valencia and a delightful Cab Franc from Sancerre

A stunning white blend from Valencia and a Cab Franc gem from Sancerre


Cullerot Celler del Roure Valencia (DOP) 2021, 13%, €17.50 MacCurtain Wine Cellar

Cullerot is a white wine from the D.O. Valencia. produced by Celler del Roure. It is a blend of different grape varieties: 30% Macabeo, 30% Pedro Ximénez, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Malvasía, 10% Merseguera, 10% Verdil. Haven’t heard of the last two before. 

The wine is aged mostly in clay amphora (6 months) , a method which follows ancient winemaking traditions, and provides Cullerot with “a truly complex and unique character”. It is a blend and method that works very well indeed.

Straw yellow is the colour, clean and bright. It’s got a very interesting nose indeed, fruity, floral and herbaceous. Entry is impressive, fresh and packed with fruit flavour; it is well balanced thanks to a sharp acidity, has a beautiful texture and finishes strong and long. Very Highly Recommended.

The producers suggest serving it at 7 degrees (others say 8 to 10) with rice dishes. Others, including the Wine Society, indicate Gazpacho, Prawns, Spaghetti Puttanesca, Olives, Shellfish risotto, Salads, Aperitifs, Rice with fish, white fish, and shellfish. 

Celler del Roure, founded in 1996, is a small family winery which works with the utmost care on every inch of land. The winery also keeps its eye on the future, collaborating on various projects with the Universitat Politècnica de València.

The use of large clay amphorae may be unusual in Spain but not so in other ancient wine countries such as Georgia. Celler del Roure’s utilisation of them is a nod to the tradition as well as a means of aging without oak influence.

I bought this bottle from the relatively new MacCurtain Wine Cellar in Cork. Co-owner Sean Gargano has visited the winery and been very impressed: "We love pretty much everything from Celler del Roure. Owner Pablo Calatayud is doing heroic work bringing local Valencian varieties back into fashion. He gets help in the cellar from Javi Revert, one of Spain brightest wine makers." 

"Watch out for Valencia to become a player in the near future. And if you see Celler del Roure be it red, white or rosé, buy it.  Prices are guaranteed to go up when they get the recognition they deserve." 

Watch this space!


Best Value Wines 2022 Under €18.00. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Petit Bourgeois Cabernet Franc Val de Loire (IGP), 13% ABV, €17.45 (14.95)

The town of Chinon and its surrounds is the heartland of Cabernet Franc in the Loire Valley; this one though comes from Sancerre (a few hours, along the valley, to the east), an area best known for its eponymous Sauvignon Blanc.

Freshness is taken for granted with Loire Cabernet Franc and this one certainly has it. It’s also got the fruit, both in the aromas and on the palate, lots of lighter berries (raspberries and strawberries) plus darker (blackcurrant and blackberry) as well, and there are hints of spice. The lingering finish is along the same lines. That wonderful freshness keeps it light and easy drinking. Indeed, it may be served slightly chilled but you’ll hardly need to do that this time of year. A Highly Recommended wine.

We had a beautiful plate of Organic Kerry Wild Meat at a recent meal in Kinsale’s Rare and I reckon this Cabernet Franc would have been a terrific match. And the winery’s list of suggestions includes the French version as you can see: fowl or other white meats are perfect as a wide range of prepared cold meats such as a plate of French “charcuterie”. Could go well with the turkey! 

No mention of Chavignol goats cheese. Chavignol because that is the area where producer Henri Bourgeois is based. It is a renowned 10th generation winemaking family, making exquisite award-winning wines from some of the best terroir in the Loire Valley.

A few years back I was in Chinon and failed to drink a glass of Cabernet Franc! And that meant I didn’t quite make the cut for membership when I visited the Caves Painctes of Chinon, the headquarters of the Confrerie de Bons Entonneurs Rabelaisiens, situated in a network of subterranean tunnels running beneath the town’s chateau. You have to drink a glass of wine. What’s the problem? You may well ask. The problem is the glass takes a whole bottle and you must finish it without a pause! 

Chinon (and include nearby Bourgueil) is a terrific visit, especially if you go late August/early September. Our highlight was a day-long vintage fair with an old fashioned threshing. Thirsty work and that’s why we withdrew from the streets for a spell to Caves Painctes.

* Most of you will know that Cabernet Franc appears in Bordeaux red blends where, more often than not, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot take the lead roles.


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Sunday, November 6, 2022

A Duo Of Excellent Whites From North-West Spain. Monterrei and Rias Baixas

 A Duo Of Excellent Whites From North-West Spain

Via Arxéntea Godello Y Treixadura Monterrei (DO) 2021, 13% ABV, €17.80 MacCurtain Wine Cellar

This is a Spanish white wine with a marked varietal character. Made with Godello and Treixadura, both native Galician varieties, to transmit those aromas and flavours that our land, climate and fruits are capable of producing. 

That’s part of the info on the label of this blend produced by Via Arxéntea in Monterrei in North West Spain.

It has a bright yellow colour and it is certainly aromatic, apple, peach (especially) and mango to the fore; notes of citrus also. The intensity is also evident on the palate where flavours are bold but balanced by an excellent acidity. There is a long and fruity aftertaste, with a faint sweet sensation never too far away. 

Serve at 8-11º degrees and pair with cooked fish, grill, seafood rice, squid a la plancha and vegetable dishes. Very Highly Recommended. 

The DO Monterrei is in the province of Ourense, close to the Portuguese border. Most of its wine is white and most of that is based on Godello (which is also called Verdello); other varieties of white grapes here are the autochthonous Doña Blanca  and Treixadura.

Godello is quite possibly the most scented of the newly fashionable white varieties in Spain’s far north-west, according to Grapes and Wines. “Almost extinct in the 1970s, it is now flourishing in Valdeorras.” Valdeorras is also in Ourense.

Early ripening Treixadura is one of the grapes that blends well with Godello. In Portugal, where it is called Tradajura, it adds crisp, citrus characters to Vinho Verde.

The MacCurtain Wine Cellar, owned by Trudy Ahern and Sean Gargano, is essentially a wine shop where you may select your purchases from a huge wall of wine. Don't worry though, you'll have lots of excellent advice, given with knowledge and a rare enthusiasm, not to mention charm. 

If you wish to drink on the premises, that is no problem in the evenings. And while wine is their priority, they also provide some very tasty small plates and sharing boards as well. Such a poremises is known as a Cave à Manger in France.

There is a the fantastic range, all organic, biodynamic or natural. I picked the Godello and Treixadura blend from Monterrei while Sean suggested the Celler del Roure Cullerot Blanco (toi feature in a later post!). He was very enthusiastic about this winemaker and about the future of wines from the Valencia area.


Almirante “Vanidade” Albariño Rias Baixas (DO) 2020, 

13% ABV,  €15.95 Bradleys.

Did you know that we Irish are the fourth largest importers of Albariño in the world? It comes from our Celtic cousins in Galicia, in Spain’s Rias Baixas region. It has all happened quickly and relatively recently.  

“It is a young industry,” said Lynne Coyle MW, one of our hosts at a Rias Baixas Tasting in L’Atitude during the summer. “In 1975 there were just 200 hectares of Albariño here, now there are over 4,000, lots of small holdings.

Val de Salnés is the main region. And it is from here and its granite soil that this wine by Vina Almirante comes. That ocean influence is evident in this dry crisp and elegant wine.

The Vanidade has a beautiful and inviting gold colour. Citrus and peach notes in the aromas. Those fruits also feature on the intensely flavoured palate, fresh and zesty, no shortage of acidity,  with a slightly salty tang, plus the starting fruit all the way through to a clean and refreshing finish.  

You don’t get many poor  examples of Albariño but this is outstanding and you are thinking straightaway of matching it with seafood and white fish. See for yourself why Albariño became so popular so quickly. Very Highly Recommended.

Vanidade translates as vanity. I’m very happy with this one and so too are the producers: “Very tasty, very good, wonderful. This is Vanidade, a wine of which we are particularly proud. Both because its organoleptic properties and tasting ratings, and because it’s a champion of cultural change in our time.”

Vain? Proud? Not you? Take a look at the producers site where they have a vanity test ready and waiting. Up for a bit of fun? Click here.”

Importers Findlaters tell us that Vina Almirante is one of the most important wineries in North West Spain. “Its properties are in the borough of Portas in the Caldas de Reis region situated in the northern part of Salnes Valley. These legendary vineyards, which extend over the 35 hectares, are treated with tender loving care and in keeping with state-of-the-art wine growing techniques. The wines.., are distinguished by the faithful reflection of a late autumn harvest, giving rise to a macerated wine endowed with brilliant notes of freshness, elegance and an intense flavour that’s sure to please even the most demanding of palates.”

Monday, October 17, 2022

Cracking Wine and Warm Welcome in MacCurtain Wine Cellar

 Cracking Wine and Warm Welcome in MacCurtain Wine Cellar

The MacCurtain Wine Cellar has just celebrated six months in business and is already making its mark on the busy street, now a go-to destination for eating and drinking with a huge choice of venues and styles to choose from.

The Cellar is essentially a wine shop where you may select your purchases from a huge wall of wine. Don't worry though, you'll have lots of excellent advice, given with knowledge and a rare enthusiasm, not to mention charm. If you wish to drink on the premises, that is no problem in the evenings. And while wine is their priority, they also provide some very tasty small plates and sharing boards as well.

They are owners Trudy Ahern and Sean Gargano, both very experienced in the restaurant industry and thrilled to have finally been able to establish a small business of their own here in Cork's Victorian Quarter. Trudy’s career was as a restaurant manager while Sean was (and is!) a sommelier, drinks buyer and bar manager. The team is completed by sommelier Paris who is "our front of house whiz". You'll find ex-charcuterie butcher Bryan Rudd (who is now studying wine) mostly in the little kitchen.

West Kerry Saucisson, pickles & bread
After a warm welcome from Sean, we were soon sipping our wines and enjoying our small plates. They have a varying list of about 20 wines by the glass, plus some fortified wines as well. We settle on the Trepat by Succéss from Catalonia (Spain).  The grape is new to me and Sean explained that is close to Gamay. It is a light-bodied aromatic red, close to what you get either in Beaujolais or the Jura. Well worth a try. 

We were in more familiar territory with the Holzer Grüner Veltliner from the Wagram in Austria. It was fruity (tree fruits), zingy and refreshing, lime and pepper on the nose and versatile with the food. 

Macroom Ricotta with Squash, Hazelnut and Speck on toast

Food may not be number one here but the short list offers a pleasant accompaniment to the wines. Along with the two pictured, we had the options of Smoked Almonds; Nocellara Olives; Bread, Butter and Tapenade; Cheese Board; Charcuterie Board; a plate of Burrata, Mozzarella and Bresaola; and more. Very happy with the two that we chose!

We were never going to leave without getting a bottle or two from the fantastic range on the wall, all organic, biodynamic or natural. I picked the Godello and Treixadura blend from Monterrei while Sean suggested the Celler del Roure Cullerot Blanco. He was very enthusiastic about this winemaker and about the future of wines from the Valencia area. Looking forward to trying the pair in the weeks ahead and they are likely candidates for our Good Value Wine List.

Check menus and opening times and stay up to date with MacCurtain Wine Cellar (who also do pop-ups and tastings) by following their Instagram here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

MacCurtain Wine Cellar and Tuscany’s Capezzana, with a quartet of stunning reds, combine to spread a warming cheer on a miserable wet night in the city.


MacCurtain Wine Cellar and Tuscany’s Capezzana (with a quartet of stunning reds) combine to spread a warming cheer on a miserably wet night in the city. 

It wasn’t just the wine on Tuesday. There was a warm welcome from Sean Gargano and his crew at the Cellar. They also came up with some excellent small plates. Even tried to keep the summer going with a delicious Pet Nat (from the Veneto).

Sean, co-owner with Trudy Ahern,  did emphasise that wine always comes first here, that the food is secondary. In fairness, though, the food we were served was top notch and quite appropriate to the wines.

Soon, we got down to the serious (not really!) business of tasting those wines with gentle guidance from Pierpaolo Guerra of Capezzana who was accompanied by Marcus Gates of importers Liberty Wines.

Sweet potato

First up was their “baby wine, the everyday drinking wine”, the Barco Real di Carmignano 2019, a youthful, light and easy drinking blend of Sangiovese (75%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Canaiolo and Cabernet Franc. Pierpaulo explained that French grapes have a very long history here as we sipped this aromatic and fruity wine with a spicy finish. 

Barco Real is called the “Baby” because the fruit is sourced from slightly younger fruit and also spends less time in oak than the Villa di Capezzana 2018 that we would meet next. This was certainly a little more serious, full bodied with a concentrated finish and a slight touch of peppery spice. Again it is a traditional blend, this of Sangiovese (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon.

By the way, all their wines (even their superb olive oils) are organic. Sean made a point of this as organic is “very important to us” at MacCurtain Street Wine Cellar.

Speck and Macroom Mozzarella

Sean makes a point
Next on the list was the Ugo Contini Bonacossi 2016 from a vineyard where conditions are ideal for growing Sangiovese, the only varietal in this excellent wine. It has aromas of cherries and a touch of spice, red fruit abound on the palate and the full bodied beauty has a lengthy finish.

We finished with the Ghiaie della Furba. This 2018 had a tough growing season but all ended well. The yield was lower than normal (down 40%) but the quality was excellent. And so was the fruit and spice from the oak in the aromas; it was full bodied and balanced in the mouth and again a long and fruity finish. 

It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Syrah (35%) and Merlot (25%). Not quite a Bordeaux blend but a good one!

Mortadela (left in sandwich) and Spicy Sausage

The Capezzana estate, 24 km north west of Florence, is owned by the Conti Contini Bonacossi family. The family is mentioned in a contract dating back to 804 AD, written at the time of Charlemange. So they have been there a long long time and now a new generation is firmly in charge and,  going by these wines, making an excellent job of it.

In contrast to the ancient vineyard, the MacCurtain Wine Cellar is just a baby, a few months only. But already you can see that Sean and Trudy have give the intimate venue quite a personality. Look out for similar events in the months ahead!

Rainy night out. Red wine in