Marks & Spencer Margaret River (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, 14%, €16.50 M & S
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Two Cracking Bordeaux Blends. But not from France
Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva Mendoza (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 (I got it on offer at 16.95) O’Brien Wines
Bodegas Caro, founded in 1999, is a Catena family partnership with Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the owners of Chateau Lafite. “The operation focuses on classic red Bordeaux blends,” according to Wines of South America. “…all grapes for this project are purchased.” Caro tastings are held in their vineyard caves that date back to 1884. So there is some pedigree in both sides of the partnership.
The signature wine is Caro and other main labels are Aruma and Amancaya. The blend for the latter is based “on the elegant texture of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of the Argentinean Malbec”. It has been aged in French oak and is more fruity due to the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter ageing. The name is the native Indian name of a flower found at high altitudes in the Andes in the Mendoza area.
Colour is ruby, the legs slow to clear. There are generous aromas of cherries and dark berries, plus sweet spice too. The palate has fruit (no shortage) and vanilla (from the oak) and it is noticeably dry. Tannins are still at play here in a smooth and elegant wine, supple and satisfying right up to and through the long finish. Very good on the first day and even better on the second; decant and take your time! Very Highly Recommended. A match with beef is guaranteed but venison may be the pairing to remember!
Marks & Spencer Margaret River (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, 14%, €16.50 M & S
The Margaret River area, in Western Australia, is justifiably famous for its smooth and complex Cabernet Sauvignon, though usually at a higher price than this. Winemaker is Matt Byrne and producers Marks and Spencer say this is “a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot (12%)”. The Decanter tasting panel recently gave it a score of 95 and awarded it Platinum: Best Value Australian Red Bordeaux Varietals.
Colour is a deep ruby. Dark red fruits feature in the aromas. It is indeed complex and smooth on the palate, juicy and full of intense blackcurrant flavours, some spice too, tannins on the lips (inside and out); the finish is very satisfying with the fruit still a factor and hints of the oak there too. Elegant and well balanced this is Very Highly Recommended.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso
|Ger (Paradiso) and Emma in great form.|
Tuesday’s coming together of Cullen’s biodynamic wines from Australia’s Margaret River and the renowned quality cooking of Cafe Paradiso, looked, on paper, like a match made in food heaven. You won’t be surprised to learn that it lived up to that billing.
This multi-course meal, part of the Wine Geese series, was one highlight after another. I really lapped up the Baby Carrots with the buttermilk yoghurt and the roast kombu. And then another highlight: grilled asparagus with miso beurre blanc and nori gomasio, matched with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon.
The last of the whites was the superb 2010 “Kevin John” Margaret River Chardonnay and that went so well with the sublime Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella with beetroot, pickled fennel, roast grapes and dukkah.
Emma Cullen, from the Western Australian vineyard family, was with us and she was proud to say that the Kevin John, named after her grandfather, had sold out in the UK. It is a complex elegant wine which has spent nine months in new oak. If you hurry, you might get some (along with more of the Cullen wines in Bradley’s, North Main Street).
On then to the substantial and delicious Aubergine involtini with a pistachio-lemon salsa, potato and broad beans, paired with the 2010 Margaret River Red, “an incredibly popular wine”.
Chocolate and Cherries followed, enjoyed with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Merlot-Petit Verdot-Malbec. “This is a very interesting blend,” said Emma. “and has a bit of a cult following. Try it with roast duck, it is incredible! It has not seen oak. It was a terrific vintage and the fruit was so great, it didn’t need the oak!”
And we finished with that superb Crozier blue cheese (with celery and dates) and matched with the big red, the 2010 “Dian Madeline” Margaret Rover. Diana was Emma’s grandmother. This last wine also benefitted from the incredible vintage of that year. “It is very much a Bordelaise style, the cream of the crop.”
Cullen Wines, now in its 42nd year is, since 2004, certified A Grade Biodynamic by the BFA of Australia. “Put simply, biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos. It is a method of farming that treats the vineyard as a living system, which interacts with the environment to build a healthy living soil that helps to nourish the vines and general environment.”
Emma is a big fan. “The results have been incredible. All bug related problems are gone. We have better water retention. The quality of the fruit is absolutely flawless...and there is an extra life and vibrancy in the wine”.
If you’d like to read more of the fascinating details, including the famous cow horns filled with cow manure and planted in the fields, then go direct to the Cullen website here
Cullen Wines are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines.
So a big big thanks to Emma, to Gerry Gunnigan of Liberty, to Ger and to all the staff (especially to chef Mark) at Paradiso for a stunning mix of excellent food and top class wine.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Margaret River Pioneer at Ballymaloe
The Margaret River visited East Cork yesterday.
After cricket and a kite surfing demo on the lawn, the action in Ballymaloe moved in to the Grain Store where Australian wine legend (and founder of New Zealand’s Cloudy bay) David Hohnen produced a team of six scintillating wines, three in white and three in red.
David, of McHenry Hohnen, is a brilliant speaker for an occasion like this, delivering solid information with wit and with sharp brevity.
He did repeat himself a bit though. Well, just one phrase. “Take a step back.” He was talking passionately here about letting the wine “work itself out” and was a bit worried that modern technology and courses were giving students both the knowledge and the means to interfere too much in the process.
He did some interfering himself though when he started off in 1966/67, when varieties were not mentioned on the bottles. In the morning, they made claret; at lunch-time, they added dye and so made Burgundy in the afternoon!
David is a firm believer in blends, believing that they can add up to more than the sum of their parts and that belief was illustrated by four of the six wines.
“I won’t buy a bottle sealed by a piece of bark,” he declared, not for the first time, one suspects. He is a firm advocate of the screw cap, going as far as to say that in forty years of making wine, the screw cap was the most significant technical innovation, both for the maker and the consumer. “Both can have great confidence in the screw cap.”
And from one timber to another. Oak has its uses, he said, but as a container. “We don’t seek to add aromas, texture or flavour via the barrel.” They import older used barrels and the oak, at that stage, has little influence on the wine.
He highly praised modern machinery in the vineyard, especially for harvesting. “It doesn’t get pissed on Fridays and gets the work done in the window of opportunity.”
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2011
3 Amigos, 2008
Calgardup Brook Chardonnay, 2010
All three were excellent and all three have been marked in the mid 90s by James Halliday, but it was the 3 Amigos that caught my attention. I liked this, so rich and creamy, full bodied. David said it was one of their “new direction wines, a lovely delicious style, beautiful, a pure natural wine.”
3 Amigos, 2007
Tiger Country, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006
Once again a superb set. The Shiraz was “very much Shiraz, lovely, clean and sharp, made from Autumn ripened grapes.” Important if you are looking for good Shiraz to watch out for areas where the grapes ripen in Autumn, was a tip from David.
The 3 Amigos, with a very rich mouthfeel and a long finish, was a brilliant blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro (Mourvedre).
For me, the real class in the glass came with the Tiger Country blend. Tempranillo is the main grape here and it shows. It has power and elegance, is supple and silky with a persistent finish. “Tread carefully,” they say, “this Tiger’s got some savoury bite!” Well worth the risk for 24 euro.
|David and yours truly|
The wines, priced from €19.00 to €26.00, are available via Tindal Wine Merchants. Rounded off with a delicious Harvest Supper, it was another terrific night in Ballymaloe and well done to David, to our host Colm McCan and his colleagues and to William Tindal.
The Ballymaloe Sherry event has been postponed until the New Year but do watch out for the An Italian Evening - wines of Tuscany & New Season’s Olive Oil – on November 8th.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Cricket, Surf, Wine and Harvest Supper
A Margaret River event at Ballymaloe
Ballymaloe's Colm McCan tells me they have a special coming up at the end of the month:
"We are delighted to announce this unique wine, food, & sporting event, to take place on Thursday 27th September, at Ballymaloe House which connects two lovely coastal areas of the world - Margaret River, Western Australia and Shanagarry/Ballycotton Bay, East Cork.
Afternoon - Cricket with the East Cork Cricket Club, in association with Cricket Ireland, who will give a demonstration on the lawn at Ballymaloe, and explain the rules of the game to all. Have a go yourself – ‘learn the basics whilst trying out the game’. There will also be a demonstration on the sport of kite surfing – linking in with the theme of the day – Margaret River comes to East Cork!"
Evening 7.00pm - Wine tasting & Harvest Supper
Enjoy a Margaret River wine tasting & presentation, with iconic Australian winemaker, David Hohnen, in The Grain Store, Ballymaloe featuring the wines of McHenry Hohnen, followed by Wildside’s Ted Berner’s ‘Fire-cooking’ Harvest Supper.
Thursday 27th September 2012 €35
Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork
Tel: 021 4652531 email@example.com
|Harvest in Ballymaloe|
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
In Xanadu did Irishman...
I reckon I could on and write a few lines of doggerel but in respect to the late John Lagan, I’ll put a halt to it now. Let’s get to the wine.
Xanadu, Margaret River, Chardonnay 2008, 14% abv, €20.00 Bubble Brothers.
Must say I like this wine and its story, a story that began with the arrival of Irish medical doctors, John and Eithne Lagan, in Australia. Some time later, in the late 1970s, they set up the Xanadu vineyard in the Margaret River area of Western Australia. You may read more, much more, of the Lagans and their children here.
The early years were tough but decades of success followed for the Lagans. Nowadays, Xanadu is owned by the Rathbone family who are very strong on environmental protection and sustainability in their wine-making. They make excellent wines here and this Chardonnay got 91 points from James Halliday.
They also produce a “second” wine at Xanadu under the Next of Kin Label. Bubble Brothers also sell this and, in the recent past, I have been very happy with their Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon. These are priced at about five or six euro less than the top label.
The Chardonnay has a great nose, bright and citrus-sy. In a flavoursome mouthful, the citrus leads the way with other exotic fruits figuring strongly in the mix. Close to creamy, it is really well balanced with a persistent fruity finish. All in all an excellent Chardonnay and yet another winner from a terrific wine area. Highly recommended.