Showing posts with label Mackenway Wines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mackenway Wines. Show all posts

Monday, November 11, 2019

Cracking Wines at O'Donovan's Wine and Craft Beer Festival

Cracking Wines at O'Donovan's
 Wine and Craft Beer Festival
Paddy from Clonakilty Distillery

I very much enjoyed visiting the 17th annual O'Donovan's Wine and Craft Beer Festival in the Clayton Hotel, Cork City, last Friday night; great to meet old friends and taste some new wines. And it wasn’t just wine. There was mead, from Kinsale of course, craft beers from home and abroad, whiskeys and gins galore including some from new and new-ish producers such as Clonakilty and Beara and more.

The O’Donovan’s staff were busying helping people make the most of it and one of their tasks was to man the tables featuring Gold Star winners from this year’s Irish Wine Show. Some 45 wines were awarded in all and are exclusive to NOffLA (National Off-Licence Association) member outlets nationwide.

Yours Truly with
Gerry Gunnigan
of Liberty Wines
Liberty Wines, with Gerry Gunnigan doing the honours, had two of the winners at their table and, after a conversation, mainly about Mayo, with Gerry, we started with those two. First up was the Italian Alpha Zeta “C” Chardonnay 2018 from the Veneto. Superb tropical fruits and as fresh as could be and it won Gold in the Under €15.00 Old World White Category.

And Gerry’s other Gold winner was the Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2017 from New Zealand’s Marlborough, which came first in the Under €20.00 New World White Category. Very elegant, tropical fruits again, well balanced and well worth looking out for as the festival season nears. Two fine whites then but perhaps the top white on the Liberty table was the Loimer Lois Grüner Veltliner, an excellent example of the Austrian grape. All their own fruit and organic to boot.

Conor O'Brien (NorEast Beers) with CL

Speaking of Christmas, one to look out for is the Delicato Gnarly Head Viognier from California. “Not over the top in aromatics” but lots of character and a great aperitif. The normal retail price is €18.00 but there’ll be reductions soon! Dave Buckley of Cassidy's also had a couple of well-priced South African whites. The Millstream Chenin Blanc struck a nice balance of fruit and acidity while the Franschhoek Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay had all the typical Chardonnay flavour and a good acidity. Doesn't miss the oak at all.

We then came across an outstanding Verdejo, by Spain’s Protos, at Comans Wines. A fresh and balanced wine from the Rueda with a dry lingering finish. Priced at €15.00, though, like most of the wines, it was reduced for orders during the festival.
Denis and Kate
Kinsale Mead

The Vineyard were showing a pretty impressive white from the Loire, the dry and refreshing Chateau de la Roulerie Petit Chenin 2018.  Nearby, Damien from Tindal had a couple of excellent Pinot Grigio from the Veneto and he was very enthusiastic about both. You could see though that special care had been taken in producing the Zenato 2018, refreshing, soft yet with good character, a really good wine indeed. The San Giorgio 2018 was well balanced, clean and crisp.

In between, we had a chance to chat with Denis and Kate from Kinsale Mead and to taste their Atlantic Dry (white) mead and their Wild Red Mead and to hear of some plans in train and for the future including barrel-ageing and using Irish Honey. Looking forward to seeing the results but it could be a while yet for us punters as the enterprising couple keep their fingers crossed!

No problem finding Malbec when we started on the reds. Mackenway’s Callia “Alta” from San Juan in Argentina, was very juicy, very drinkable, and made an immediate impression with its “fruit bomb” of flavours. The Kaiken Terroir Series Vistaflores 2017, from Mendoza, on show at the Liberty Table, was a somewhat more serious drink, full bodied and silky, the Malbec enhanced by some Petit Verdot and Bonarda.

A couple of superb Crianzas followed. Some of you may be familiar with the El Coto Rioja Crianza, a harmonious mix of red berry flavours, juicy tannins and a well judged touch of oak that help make this the biggest selling Crianza in Spain. This was on the Mackenway table with an RRP of €17.00, with a reduction off that available on the night, as was the case for most if not all of the wines in the show.

Back to Damien then at the Tindal table and he was singing the praises, quite rightly too, of the Luis Cañas Rioja Crianza 2016, saying the extra calcium in the vineyard’s soil makes a difference to the thickness of the skins, so more colour, more concentration and you could taste that in this dark fruit flavoured wine, hints of the oak too and a long and very satisfying finish. Normal price is €23.50 and again the offer on the night brought it down to 19.97 per bottle.

Gold Medal

We finished the wines at the Cassidy Table with Dave taking us through two from California. First up was the Delicato Gnarly Head Zinfandel from old vines between 35-80 years and weighing in at 14.5% abv. Intense and bold the notes declared and yes indeed it is a big wine, loads of fruit. And lots of fans too for this style.

For me though, the next one, the Delicato Gnarly Head Authentic Black, was more to my liking. It is bold enough, full bodied enough “to rock your palate” but the Zinfandel has been toned down through the addition of Petite Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. Should be superb with food as Dave indicated.

And there was some food around, including Carrigaline Cheese with the dedicated Padraig in attendance having overseen the Irish Cheese Awards the previous evening. Didn’t get much of a chance to try the food and we were heading to Dockland in any case. 

But we did have a beer with Conor O’Brien of NorEast Drinks. The Whitstable Bay Organic Ale, a delightful light coloured ale that is brewed using the brewery’s own chalk-filtered mineral water, is a soft blend of hops and malt. Liked that and must watch out for it next time I visit O’Donovan’s.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wines from Spain Take Over in Little Island

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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Winegeese. A New Generation in Cork last night.

The Winegeese. A New Generation.
Languedoc winemakers at L'Atitude
Bottom (l to r): Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner),
Neasa Corish Miquel and Philip Grant.
A couple of modern winegeese were at L’Atitude in Cork lasted evening and very impressive they were too. Both Neasa Corish Miquel and Philip Grant operate in the Languedoc and, with Irish Examiner’s Leslie Williams linking and prompting the pair, we had a very entertaining evening and tasted some excellent wines.

Neasa Corish Miquel is originally from Dublin and married into the Miquel family. They have two vineyards, one near Beziers, the other south of the Narbonne to Toulouse stretch of the A61 autoroute.

The big surprise from Neasa was her 2012 Albarino, the only one in France (at least for the present!). The Miquels took a big gamble here, planting 14 hectares “all in one go”. But is looks like paying off. This is an elegant fresh white wine with a lovely fragrance. Matched with a mix of smoked and fresh salmon, one of the many excellent bites from the L’Atitude kitchen, it went down well.

Her opening wine, the 2011 Viognier, has been harvested by night and “handled gently”. Its freshness was evident and it went well with the cheese. Neasa said it keeps well for days in the open bottle and is even decanted in some restaurants.

Then Philip who, after a successful business career, bought the large Chateau Bellevue estate in November 2007 (just before the crash!), spoke about the main grape grown there. It is the little known Négrette which has “fabulous colour and fabulous fruit” but “is tricky to grow”.

Worth it though as illustrated through his wines. The first was his 2012 Rosé. Some forty per cent of his wine is rosé and this beauty went very well indeed with Jack McCarthy’s classy Pastrami. Bren Smith of Mackenway, who distribute for Grant and Miquel, said it was also a terrific match with curry.

Philip then produced his first red, his 2009, a gold medal winner and his best seller. It is fifty five per cent Négrette, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah also in the blend. It is fresh and fruity, soft, and matched very well with the mushrooms.
The Canal du Midi flows through the Languedoc
and was once used for carrying wine.

Then came the big hitters. Neasa’s introduced us to her Larmes des Fees (the tears of the fairies), a 100% Syrah from 2006 and under the St Chinian appellation. It has been aged for 18 months in oak and much the same in bottle, is very high quality and will age well. The tears of the fairies, Neasa told us, flowed when they heard a group of washerwomen bad-mouthing absent colleagues. Probably still flowing so.

The 2009 Optimum is powerful and fresh and age worthy and another award winner for Philip. Indeed, it has been awarded a very hard to get Coup de Coeur by Hachette. This Fronton AOC red is from low yield vines and has “an enormous concentration of flavour. “It has taken off very well, “he said, “and the biggest buyers are the Vietnamese”.

It was quite a long evening but we didn’t notice the time going by, thanks to the good company and the good wines. More of the same next Wednesday (7.00pm) when the wines of Domainela Sarabande (also from the Beziers area and owned by Australian Paul Gordon and his Irish wife Isla) will be featured. Tickets from L’Atitude at 021 2390219.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Two November Winegeese Events at L'Atitude

Two November Winegeese Events at L'Atitude
Leslie Williams, at L'Atitude on the 14th.
Winegeese arrive at L'Atitude - On the Double.
L'Atitude 51 in Association with Mackenway Wines present
Bringing The Wine Geese Home November Edition (Part 1)
Presentation & Tasting with Winemaker Phillip Grant of Chateau Bellevue la Foret, Fronton AOC, South-West France, and Wine Writer Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner) 
Tickets €12 (include canapés selected to match the wines)
Booking essential. 
Contact L’Atitude 51 on 021 2390219 or
Bellevue were one of the victims of the June hailstones this year but they responded well as you may read here.

L'Atitude 51 in Association with Tyrrell & Co present 
Bringing The Wine Geese Home November Edition (Part 2)
Presentation & Tasting with Winemakers Paul & Isla Gordon of Domaine La Sarabande
Tickets €12 (include canapés selected to match the wines) 
Booking essential. 
Contact L’Atitude 51 on 021 2390219 or
Paul and Isla were the first Australian/Irish vignerons in the Languedoc and you may read their story here.