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Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Different Worlds but Two Super Red Wines
Domaine Sainte Croix Celèstra Corbieres (AOC) 2013, 14.5%, €29.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Sainte Croix in the Languedoc is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, who have extensive experience of working both in classic French stone ‘caves’ and giant, steel wineries in many parts of the world. From first sight of the unique geology and ‘climat’ here, professional intuition made it clear that it is an area of immense potential, a potential they consistently realise in their wines and illustrated well in this Celèstra, a blend of 50% Grenache (from 1968 vines) and 50% Syrah (from 1984 vines).
It is a dark red, verging on purple; legs are slow to clear, confirming the big alcohol count. Intense dark fruits (plums, blackberries) on the nose, Intense too on the palate, concentrated red and black fruits, spice prominent too. Tannins also in the mix as this attractive wine finishes long and well. Very Highly Recommended.
The name Celèstra is taken from an Occitan word for blue (origin latin caelum, meaning sky. . .). “As a wine with a highly Languedocian profile, it could be said to be from ‘le grand bleu’.” It is an organic wine, unfined, unfiltered. It has been 100% matured sur lie in 300 litre barrels (3-5 fill) for 18 months. Blended and returned to tank for 6 months before bottling. Enjoy!
El Abasto Malbec Mendoza (Argentina) 2017, 13.5%, €16.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This vibrant fruity full-bodied wine is named after an 1983 established market that became also a centre for tango, poetry, and culture.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. Lots of rich red and darker fruit, plus a touch of violet, in the aromas. Juicy and lively, full-bodied, a touch of spice, exceptionally smooth all the way to the excellent finish. Now where’s that steak? Also just the job with selection of charcuterie, cold cuts, firm cheeses, burgers, pasta with red sauce. Versatile is the word! This young very approachable wine is Very Highly Recommended. And it can be served chilled, though you probably won’t need to do that at this time of year!
There are, according to Wines of South America, two main factors that help Malbec thrive in Mendoza. The low rainfall (12” as against 30” Bordeaux) and its timing, falling mostly in the summer, promotes ripening and minimises desease. Second, Mendoza’s wide thermal amplitude (put simply, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) promotes aromatic development and softened tannins.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Two Superb Reds.
A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.
Jean Foillard Côte du Py Morgon (AOC) 2016, 13%, €35.60 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
Every month in the vineyard, there are decisions to be made, practical crossroads to be negotiated. They concern, for instance, cultivating and fertilising soil, planting, training and pruning vines, and when to begin picking the grapes. But before all that, the vineyard is shaped at a philosophy crossroads. Quantity before quality. Chemical or organic. Fortunately for us, Jean and Agnes Foillard gave the thumbs down to the industrial and choose the natural organic route. Their healthy and beautiful wines are their reward and our pleasure.
In Morgon, Foillard wines express the terroir like a maestro musician. “The aromatics soar and the texture is silky and fine”. Try it in three movements: Le Classique, Cotes de Py, and Corcelette. Long may the maestro of Morgon play on.
The fruit for our Côte du Py, also known as Le Classique, is grown on a hill that is actually an extinct volcano and is masterfully transformed into a soft delicious vibrant-red wine with superb depth of vivacious flavours and a refreshing acidity. There are cherry and raspberry notes, floral too, in the aromas. On the palate, it is elegant with no shortage of minerality, tannins are a very fine influence here and the finish just goes on and on.
Foillard, a leading natural winemaker, has been described as the master of this hill (Côte de Py) and this stunning 2016 will serve to reinforce that claim. Very Highly Recommended. Give this a few more years and it will be even more rewarding.
There are ten crus in the Beaujolais region and Morgon, as you probably know, is one of them. With the typical acidity, these wines can match a range of foods. One suggestion that I fancy is Moroccan Lamb Tagine with apricot.
Amalaya Gran Corte Barrel Selection, Valle Calchaqui (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €24.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Wine Online
In Salta’s high desert, for centuries farmers made offerings in hope of a miracle for a bountiful harvest. Esperanza por un milagro is on the front label and the miracle has come to pass inside.
This Gran Corte is an amalgam of Malbec (85%), Tannat and Cabernet Franc. Twelve months in oak has added complexity and roundness.
Amalaya is acknowledged as a leading producer in this region. Owned by the Hess family, they are best known for their Malbec and Torrontés and this Gran Corte is their signature wine.
Colour is purple and there are aromas of red and black fruit. A superbly concentrated wine with a wash of spice, complex of flavour with rounded tannins and a long spice-driven finish. The winery, by the way, makes only blends and this man-made Malbec miracle is Very Highly Recommended.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Kinsale’s Supper Club Now On Main Street
Come on Down. Wine and Dine. Whiskey too
|Crème Brûlée, with a twist!|
Kinsale’s Supper Club, in its new location at 2 Main Street, was buzzing when we arrived on a recent Wednesday. But no problem to the crew there who kept serving up delicious food with a smile.
Maybe we should talk about the drink first. Did you know that all the wines, including bubbles, are available by the glass? And there are some super wines on the list, ranging in price from six euro to over twenty per glass.
The Irish whiskey list is also striking. It’s a long one with well over twenty offerings from Teeling’s Small Batch to the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve. And then they have cocktails galore, divided into Classics and House.
You might never make it past the bar. And that’s all part of the Supper Club, also a social club. Come in for a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer or a whiskey and have a few nibbles with it, such as a few oysters (from nearby Oysterhaven of course!) to a Charcuterie Board.
The food menu is not as lengthy as the whiskey one but you do get a great choice, further enhanced by the fact that certain dishes (mussels, risotto, the charcuterie board) come in large and small sizes.
|Coq au Vin|
For my starter I was looking at the Crumbed Durrus Farmhouse Cheese with Roast Shallot & Cranberry Relish before going for their €8.00 Classic Chicken Caesar Salad (Crispy Cos Lettuce, Caesar Dressing, Garlic Croutons, Parmesan Shavings). Delighted with it, one of the best around. CL too was happy, having picked the Thai version of the Steamed Pot of Oysterhaven Mussels (9.00). The other style is Chardonnay, Garlic, Fennel & Cream.
Our wines were now being put to the test and each came up trumps. We had settled on the Guillemarine Picpoul de Pinet (8.10) from the Languedoc and the Rigal Malbec (8.10) from Cahors.
Time then for the mains and the high standard was maintained, the staff busy but going about the place with pace, precision and patience, always time to answer a query or check if everything was okay. And it was, all the way.
CL picked the Coq au Vin (18.00) and enjoyed the Kinsale version (as against the Dordogne version!), a superb Breast & Thigh braised in red wine with shallots and mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Truffle Mash. The mash, by the way, was outstanding. My sauce, a tomato and wild garlic seasonal one, was also outstanding in my Fish of the Day dish, a fresh as could be and generous piece of John Dory (26.50).
Dessert was offered. It comes in two series, the usual “solid” one and the less usual “liquid”. The latter included a Tiramisu Cocktail (Absolut Vanilla, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, Butterscotch, Cream, Mascarpone), also a Lemon Meringue Pie (Absolut, Limoncello, Lemon Curd, Meringue).
We resisted and were tempted by the Apple Tarte Tatin but then spotted the Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée with Hazlenut Puff Pastry Swirl (7.00). We shared that beauty and were hardly a mouthful into it when we were thinking we should have ordered two! This is so good. They’ve put a fair bit of work into getting this right, we were told, and it is right, more than right, very highly recommended if you get the chance, as is indeed the Supper Club experience itself.
The Supper Club
2 Main Street
Phone: (021) 470 9233
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Three Well Recommended from South America
Altos Las Hormigas Valle de Uco Mendoza Argentina Malbec Terroir 2015, 13.5%, €25.99 Wine Online
The ants (Las Hormigas) love newly planted vines. But the owners didn't want to poison them, after all the ants were the original inhabitants; they lived with the nuisance and then found that the ants had no interest in the vines once they began to grow. (Source: Wines of South America by Evan Goldstein.)
The fruit for this one hundred per cent Malbec comes from the Valle de Uco, an area known for its fine fruit and floral bouquets. It can age for up to five years. Fifty per cent is aged in cement piletas (pools) for 12 months, 25% in stainless steel vats and 25% in untoasted large oak foudres.
Colour is a mid to deep ruby and there are aromas of plum and cherry. So smooth, fresh and spicy too, the perfect introduction. And so it progresses harmoniously across the palate, the lively acidity playing its part, all the way through to the long finalé. This is a marvellous Malbec, from producers well known for their Malbec, and is Very Highly Recommended.
Montes Alpha Malbec Valle de Colchagua (DO) 2013, 14.5%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Wine Online
This wine comes from the Colchagua Valley in the centre of Chile. The Montes vines are irrigated under a Sustainable Dry Farming regime that has led to a 65% decrease in their water footprint.
It has a dark ruby robe, the legs slow to clear. The aromatic nose gives ripe dark fruits, toasty notes, hints of vanilla too. Palate is quite complex and intense, plums now prominent in the flavours, sweet notes too, though more or less well balanced. From a dry and sunny terroir, with outstanding fruit and aromas, this is a great example of Malbec from Chile and Very Highly Recommended.
According to the Wines of South America, Montes (founded in 1988) is credited for its pioneering work in the Colchagua’s Apalta district, the first to realise its potential as one of the best locations for red wines in Chile and “is among the most important wineries in Chile today”. As a further endorsement, their Alpha “M” (very limited production) is listed as one of the top 20 South American wines to drink before you die.
Amalaya Blanco de Corte, Valle Calchagui Argentina 2017, 12.5%, €17.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Wine Online
Amalaya make only blends and this is a mix of Torrontés (85%) and Riesling (15%). In Salta’s high dessert, Amalaya vineyards begin a mile above sea level and are well known for Torrontés and Malbec. The journey up “is not for the faint-hearted” according to Wines of South America, who recommend Amalaya as a top producer in the area.
Colour is a mid-straw yellow. White fruits feature in the moderately intense aromas. Beautiful fresh flavours, grapefruit and citrus, on the silky smooth palate, the crisp acidity provides balance. Fruit stays to the finish where mineral notes are much in evidence. Highly Recommended.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Three Rivers. Three Reds
Rhone. Dordogne. Piave.
|The arena in Arles|
Vines need water and no surprise then that so many of the world's best known vineyards are planted on the banks of rivers. You’re all familiar with the spectacular pictures from the Douro and the Rhine, both World Heritage sites. Two of the rivers below, the Rhône and the Dordogne, will be well known to you. I suspect that not may be the case with the Piava.
The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France where it splits into two near Arles - its delta encloses much of the Camargue - before entering the sea. It is 812 kilometres long.
|Monbazillac, one of the sweet wine areas on the Dordogne.|
The Piave is the baby of these three. It begins in the Alps and flows southeast for 220 kilometres into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. There is a cow's milk cheese with the same name and the river is known too for the Battle of the Piave (1918), the decisive battle of World War I on the Italian Front.
The RhonePierre Amadieu Côtes du Rhone (AOC) Grande Réserve 2011, 14%, €16.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licences
This well balanced wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a violet colour, the legs slow to clear. Blackberry and plum more than red berries feature on a somewhat muted nose, hints of clove too. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy, tannins are silky, acidity not too obvious, but it is well balanced overall, a powerful palate but not short on finesse and with a very pleasing finish.
The grapes are grown different soils, clay and limestone for the Grenache, pebbles and gravel for the Syrah. The fruit used is a “very careful selection”. Harvesting is manual and the wine is matured for six months in oak barrels. A good result! Very Highly Recommended.
Feely La Source Vin de France 2011, 13%, €23.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Saussignac, like neighbouring Monbazillac, is perhaps best known as an area that produces sweet wines. And it is here that Sean and Carlo Feely produce organic wines that are not sweet! Their vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Hand-crafted from old vines, this wine is aged gently for 18 months in French oak barrels. It is handpicked, basket pressed, with indigenous yeasts; it is unfined and unfiltered.
Colour is a deep purple. Plum is prominent in the aromas. Quite a depth of flavour (including plum), nice bit of spice too, concentrated and well balanced and the finish is good too. This 2011 blend is Merlot (80%) and Cabernet and is Highly Recommended.
The Feely suggests an Irish (Wine-Geese) connection to this Bergerac vineyard and there is. Read about it here. By the way, if you are in the area, why not visit Chateau Feely; it is just 75 minutes from Bordeaux and 15 from Bergerac. If you can't make it to Saussignac, maybe you'd like a little share in the vineyard? Details here.
Conte Loredan Gasparini Malbec Colli Trevigiani (IGT) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines
Colour here is a fairly intense violet and red fruits feature in the aromas. Rich flavours on the palate plus a good input of spice, excellent acidity too. Tannins are fine. Very smooth and approachable and then a good long finish. Very good indeed and Highly Recommended.
While this particular wine is labelled IGT, the winery has been cultivating Malbec for the past fifty years as part of their DOC Venegazzu. They say it is ideal as an aperitif (I can vouch for that!), with fried food and red meat.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Cahors and its Marvellous MalbecAnd an Argentinian Gem
|A meander of the Lot|
This little piece was originally intended to put the spotlight on the under-rated Malbecs of Cahors (France), often regarded as the home of the grape. I had picked up two excellent examples, one organic, in Bradley’s, North Main Street. And then along came the outstanding Bousquet (also organic), from Argentina, where Malbec has found a new and very agreeable home. To read more about Cahors, check out this article in wine-searcher.com
Cahors was famous for its “black wines” even before Bordeaux became established as a producing area. It has had its problems, including phylloxera in 1883-1885. There was a rebirth for Malbec with the founding of the Parnac Coop in 1947. But trouble again in February 1956 when frosts wiped out almost all the vineyards of the region, which thus needed to be replanted en masse. In this replanting, Malbec became more dominant than it had been before. Cahors was awarded AOC status in 1971. Most of the vineyards are planted close to the River Lot as it winds its way west.
While Argentina led the major Malbec breakthrough in the United States, Cahors also made big strides there, once the Americans were informed that it was Malbec in the bottle! Quality Malbec too as you can see from the two below. Next time, you see Cahors on the label, have confidence!
Domaine Bousquet Malbec Reserve 2012 (Tupungato Valley, Mendoza, Argentina), 14.5%, €18.80 Mary Pawle
Colour here is a deep violet, close to black and there are intense jammy dark fruits on the nose. The palate is full of flavour, dark fruits, even a hint of coffee, very intense, strong but not at all heavy, excellent acidity and amazing length. A more mature number than either of the Cahors and Very Highly Recommended.
The blend here is Malbec (85%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5), Merlot (5) and Syrah (5). Aged in French Oak for 10 months. They say it is ideal with red meats,sauces, cheeses and pasta dishes.
|Got lost up in this area, even the Sat Nav got confused!|
Chateau Leret Malbec Reserve 2012 (Cahors, France), 14.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s Offlicence
This is a favourite in Bradley’s, a rich wine, intense, tannic, with great mouthfeel. Merlot and Tannat figure in the blend (up to 20% between the two possible). A wine to keep and when opened to enjoy “with game and complex dishes”.
This has a ruby red robe (well supported - love those Google translations!).The mix in the aromas is of black and mainly red fruits, jammy. There is a lovely balance of juicy fruit (some spice) and good acidity, fine tannins are gentle in the mix, and it all ends in long dry finish. Highly Recommended.
|In 1947, a few growers founded this cooperative in Parnac. Their goal was to revive the Malbec , the grape of Cahors. They succeeded and were still going strong a few years back when I called.|
Chateau du Cedre 2012 (Cahors, France), 13%, €18.95 Bradley’s Offlicence, Le Caveau
Another excellent wine from the land of the Lot. The blend here is Malbec (90%), Tannat (5) and Merlot (5). It has spent 22 months in a mixture of Troncais oak (⅓ rd new) and the winery is certified organic by Ecocert. Would you like to see what the certificate looks like? Check here.
This purple wine has aromas of dark fruits, some savoury notes too in there. Dark fruit too on the palate, ripe, rich and rounded, yet this medium-bodied wine, thanks to a lively acidity, has a youthful engaging aspect. Highly Recommended.
By the way, if you've bought a lot of this, don’t worry. Stored correctly (at 10/15 degrees and with an air moisture of at least 70%), the winemaker will “guarantee the quality of this cuvée for the next ten years”. Just saying.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
The Malbec QuartetWines of Mendoza
The leading soloist in this Malbec Quarter is the Llama but the four are all worth noting and one can see why the US has taken to Malbec in a big way. Each of the quartet is from Argentina and each is from Karwig Wines.
And as we post this, there is a sadness that Joe Karwig will no longer be around his Carrigaline shop to guide us on our wine adventures across the vinous globe of his packed shelves. May the good and generous man rest in peace.
Finca Ocho Siete Ocho Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13%, €14.65 Karwig Wines
Finca 878’s vino tinto is, they say, “intended for young consumers, who like enjoying good wines.” I say: “Why should the young have all the fun?” These wines are “fresh, fruity, easy drinking.” And I enjoyed their Malbec/Merlot blend a few weeks back.
Colour of this Malbec solo is cherry red with a healthy shine. Jammy red fruits on the nose and same red fruits too on a smooth palate, a little spice too, tannins also play on the lips, then a good dry finish. “Easy-drinking” may be under-rating it a little. Highly Recommended.
Belasco de Baquedano Llama Malbec (old Vine) 2013, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €17.50 (now reduced to 14.00) Karwig Wines
This has intense aromas of ripe red fruit and announces its arrival on the palate with fruit, spice and tannin. Easy to welcome this rather smooth wine, a worthy guest that makes a lasting impression. Elegant and well balanced, it is Very Highly Recommended.
The winery focuses exclusively on Malbec, according to the Wines of South America and “lies in Mendoza’s finest vineyard zone”. Its “Swinto” Malbec makes the book’s Top Ten. Must look out for that!
Moncagua Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.95 Karwig Wines
Colour is ruby and bright and aromas are intensely fruity. Outstanding ripe reds on the palate too, very fruity, juicy and a little spice too, a perfect balance between fruit and structure. A second glass wine for sure and Highly Recommended.
The vines are raised in the foothills of the Andes at some 1020 metres, under the shadow of Monte Aconcagua (you can see where they got the name for the wine), the highest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres.
Finca Pasión Mi Amor Malbec 2012, Mendoza (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Made from hand-harvested fruit, this friendly Malbec is Highly Recommended. Ruby is the colour and the aromas are of dark fruit, plum and cherry prominent. These dark fruits are in evidence on the palate also, now with a good wash of spice, fine tannins too in this well balanced and pleasant wine.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
In Argentina. Malbec Reigns
In The High Vineyards.
Argentina, the world’s fifth biggest wine producer (World Atlas of Wine) and well known for its high altitude vineyards (the highest in Salta at over 2,700m), took its time before making its mark on the world stage. Quality, as it is so often, was the key to the breakthrough in recent decades and their Malbec gained a huge reputation in the USA. Not too hard though to find Argentine wine here and I came across quite a good selection locally.
Argentinians are very proud of their Bonarda and, with close to 45,000 acres of it, it is second only to Malbec (76,000). In the whites, Torrontes is their signature grape with some 26,000 acres. Chardonnay, on 16,000 acres, is the most popular of the European whites grown here.
As a matter of interest, there is also a La Rioja in Argentina. It is in the foothills of the Andes located at 1,700m above sea level and is the oldest wine region in the country.
Bodegas Salentein, Portillo Malbec 2013, Mendoza, 14%, €11.99 Bradley’s Off-Licence
Fruit and freshness in a delightful bottle from Mendoza’s Uco valley. Open the screw cap and, as you pour, you’’ll notice a purplelish colour. Aromas are of dark fruit, especially plum. Its impressive flavour and rich softness on the palate make this a welcome addition to the table (especially if you have grilled meats) and, at this price, it will also find a welcome in your wallet.
The Uco valley is named on the label but the estates are high up, located between 1050 and 1700 metres, the winery itself is in the foothills of the Andes. Dutch owned Salentein is noted for its Malbec and this well balanced effort is Highly Recommended.
Bodegas Salentein, Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Mendoza, 12.5%, €11.99 Bradley’s Off Licence
This excellent Sauvignon blanc is also called Portillo, after a pass in the Andes that is a gateway into the high altitude Salentein vineyards. It is a 5,000 acre estate with 1124 acres of vines. While Torrontes is by far the most widely grown white grape in the country, the Uco Valley is highly rated for Sauvignon blanc and producers Fournier and Salentein are noted as two to check in Evan Goldstein’s Wines of South America.
Colour is a light gold with tints of green. White fruits abound in the aromas and on the palate. It is fresh and crisp, very approachable with a decent finish and Recommended.
Las Moras Reserva Malbec 2013 (San Juan, Argentina), 14%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Speaking of their reservas, Las Moras say: “This is where we get serious.” The wine has been aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Big aromas of ripe fruit greet you as you sniff this. Smooth and fruity, with very good aftertaste, illustrates why Malbec, from Argentina mainly, has taken the US by storm. This is an excellent one to get us into the game and not a very expensive one either. It has an elegant balance between fruit and wood and is Very Highly Recommended.
San Juan, La Rioja and Mendoza are all areas in the the wine region of Cuyo, a region that produces ninety per cent of Argentinian wine. Here, Las Moras are highly regarded producers. This Malbec is a gem but their Black Label Syrah is stellar according to The Wines of South America. They also produce the well oaked Dadá that was quite a hit at the Our Table event in Cork a few weeks back.
La Puerta Reserva Malbec 2010 (Famatina Valley, Argentina), 14%, €17.99 Bubble Brothers
The Famatina Valley is in La Rioja, the vineyard at a height of about 1,000m. Thirty per cent is aged in oak for 6 months and then blended with the 70% that has been raised in stainless steel “achieving greater balance between the oak and the fruit”.
This intense red coloured wine has aromas of ripe fruit, hints too of smoke. It is another excellent Malbec, smooth with rich plum flavours and a long lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Valla de la Puerta, an estate of some 750 acres, produces premium grape varieties and, according to the Wines of South America, is also well known for turning out some of Argentina's finest olives, peaches and plums.