Showing posts with label Marlborough. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marlborough. Show all posts

Monday, January 28, 2019

Two Highly Commended Whites from Liberty: Marlborough and Chablis

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017, 12%, €21.99, Egans Off Licence, World Wide Wines, Jus de Vine, Wine Well Off-Licence, 64 Wine, Baggot Street Wines

Once on a guided tour of Switzerland, I met a New Zealand couple, sheep farmers from Queenstown. They were outgoing and friendly, no humming or hawing.
“Will we jump off at the next stop,” I’d asked on a descending ski-lift. “and walk down.”
“Yeah, right, no problem.” They’d answered. This wine reminds me of them.

Not particularly because it is a beautiful light gold with green tints, the sheep farmers were well tanned. Nor because of the exuberant tropical aromas, that typical cut grass too. The palate is awash with tangy citrus, pineapple and ripe white fruit flavours, fresh and refreshing. All positive and Highly Recommended, just like my Kiwis and "no problem". Crisp and satisfying, try it with fresh seafood, goats cheese salads or just on its own.

Kim Crawford, by the way, gather the fruit from all over the Marlborough region, but emphasise that seasoned winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst, had individual blocks targeted for their strengths and overall contribution to the blend. It is a pattern established early on by Kim and his wife Erica when they started at the turn of the century without owning grapevines or tanks. 

The vines for this Sauvignon Blanc ranged in age, up to 14 years, bringing a mix of youthful vigour and depth of flavour. Anthony has won local awards for his Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Les Hauts de Milly Chablis 2017,  12.5% , RRP €29.99 Cinnamon Cottage The Wine Centre

This fresh and youthful Chablis has a light straw colour, green tints (or was that from the Christmas tree?). You'll note white fruit and floral notes in the aromas. There is a prominent citrus element on the palate flavours. The best part of a year on its fine lees has contributed to the excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Fresh and mineral with an excellent finish. An excellent good quality early-drinking Chablis and Highly Recommended.

In the vineyards a totally natural approach is adopted, herbicides and pesticides are banned. The little fertiliser used is organic compost. The wines are pure, fresh and textural. This Chablis is vinified on its fine lees for 10 months before bottling and you are advised to serve it at 11 degrees. I would err on the upper end rather than risk it too cold.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Whites Alright at Marks & Spencer

Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (New Zealand) 2017, 9.5%, €16.00 Marks and Spencer

Just 9.5% alcohol, as compared to the normal 13-14%, yet with all the taste. Dr John Forrest is the man, not the only one (Villa Maria are among the others also involved), behind this trend where “through careful manipulation of the leaves of the vines, the grape berries end up with around 60% of the normal amount of sugar.” Expect more lower abv’s as other varieties come under Dr John’s appliance of science, a pioneer in the field.

Three per cent Riesling is included with the Sauvignon. The wine is a lightly coloured yellow, with green tint and mini-bubbles clinging to the bowl of the glass. Herbaceous aromas, especially nettle (which I’m told is more associated with Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire). The nettles continue on the palate, citrus and gooseberry making an impression here also, and a superb acidity also. Amazing about that nettle effect; I’ve often heard of it but this is the first time I’ve had it face to face, so to speak. It is an amazing wine and Very Highly Recommended.

There are already technological solutions, such as using reverse osmosis, which passes the wine through a membrane to strip it of ethanol, or a spinning cone column, which uses centrifugal force and steam for the same purpose. But winemakers would prefer something they can control themselves in the vineyard and so it looks as if the Forrest method may be the way forward as climate change continues to lead to higher alcohol counts.

Castro Martin Albarino Rias Baixas (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €19.00 Marks and Spencer

This light and fresh wine has a light straw colour, tints of green and micro-bubbles were noted clinging to the glass. Aromas are mainly pear and peach. It is vibrant on the palate with intense fruit, lemon now also in the mix, a zesty refreshing acidity too and a long dry citrusy finish. Try with shellfish, white fish and salads and also as an aperitif. Highly Recommended.

You’ll see the words Sobre Lias on the label and you’d be right if you guess that means on the lees. Castro Martin, a family estate where Angela Martin is the wine-maker, use this method to “add richness, flavour and aroma complexity”. The Albarino grape comes mainly from north west Galicia where it flourishes.

M&S winemaker Sue Daniels notes that this bone dry white is made with minimal intervention and no oak “to allow full expression of the grape’s unique flavours. Couldn’t argue with that after finishing the bottle (I did share!).

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas

Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas

The Tinpot Hut winery is named after the huts, famed in New Zealand sheep country, huts used by musterers as they round up the sheep who have spent Spring to Autumn in the hills. Fiona Turner, a regular visitor to Ireland, is the winemaker.

Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir Marlborough (New Zealand) 2015, 13%, RRP € 24.99 Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

Colour is Pale ruby. There are plum and cherry aromas, touch of blackberry too. Same fruit on the smooth palate, spice well in the mix too, soft and silky tannins and well balanced through to a long finish. Hard to top this one. Very Highly Recommended.

Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon blanc 2016, 13.5%, €19.99 Stockists: Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Myles Creek; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

Another beauty from Fiona Turner and Tinpot Hut. Colour is light straw with green tints. Vibrant aromas of melon, pineapple, lemongrass, a drift of herb. On the palate, exotic fruit flavours, citrus also in there, make it quite a flavourful experience, but with a lively acidity, and this elegant wine continues in balance as it heads to a long finalé.

Fiona is proud of her well earned Sustainable Winegrowing logo and proud too of this Sauvignon that has been declared “exceptional” by Decanter who also awarded it 98 points. Very Highly Recommended.

Tinpot Hut wines are imported here by Liberty Wines and they also include Pinot Gris, Syrah, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner in their portfolio.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Three Delightful Whites. Chapeau Chaps!

Three Delightful Whites
Chapeaux Chaps!

We have been traveling all over to assemble this top notch trio of white wines for you. Maybe just a trio but they amount to quite an orchestra, maybe even capable of a symphony. The traveling has not been done by me personally but by the folks from Wine Mason, Mary Pawle and Le Caveau. They have bought well. So, let us doff the hats and say Chapeaux to the chaps and chapesses!

Turner Pageot Le Blanc 2015, Languedoc (AOP), 14%, €19.95 Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork.

Colour is a shiny pale gold. The nose, slightly honeyed, is of ripe apricot and exotic fruit. Ripe fruit abounds on the medium-dry palate. This is fruity, rich and round and quite a powerful wine with a long and mineral  finish. Very Highly Recommended.

It is an organic blend of Roussane (80%) and Marsanne (20). Turner Pageot, imported by the Wine Mason, produce a range of “gastronomic wines” and say the striking colourful collage on the label suggests exciting food and wine matches.

And the food and wine pairings they suggest are Fish and crustaceans in sauce; Saint Jacques with black truffle; Pike dumplings Nantua sauce; Noble poultry; White sausage. Old-fashioned veal blanquette. Mushrooms with cream. 

Noble poultry, how are ye! Well, come to think of it, there was some right royal Irish chicken in the Thai Green Curry from Cinnamon Cottage. I tried the wine with that delicious dish and they got on very well together!

Diwald Goldberg Grüner Veltliner, Wagram (Austria) 2013, 12.5%, €20.75 Mary Pawle Wines

The low-yielding vineyard overlooks the Danube and this organic trocken (dry) white wine has spent 8 months on lees. Importer Mary Pawle recommends matching it with scallops. It is often recommended with Asian also. Indeed, Grüner Veltliner is a very good food wine, very versatile, so much so that sommeliers regularly mention it, especially if a small group is hesitating over which wine to order.

This Diwald bottle boasts an attractive light gold colour. You’ll first meet its light fruit (apples, citrus) and white pepper on the nose. A tingly feel introduces it to the palate, that clean fruit fresh is there too, balanced by a lively and lovely acidity. Very Highly Recommended.

Framingham Classic Riesling, Marlborough 2009, 12%, €22.65 Le Caveau
Colour is an inviting rich yellow. Floral and citrus elements in the aromas and a hint of diesel too followed by a mouthful of delicious complex flavours. It is just off-dry with a little sweetness in the mix - think Mosel rather than Rhine.

Texture has been reinforced by some six months spent on lees. Balance comes from the juicy acidity and the finish is long and drying. Overall quite a rich Riesling and a Highly Recommended one.

The diesel is almost always an unwanted distraction for me in New Zealand (and Australian) Rieslings but here it is just about noticeable and hardly at all with food, especially with that delicious Skeaghanore Smoked Duck Breast.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Red Trio from SuperValu. Delicious Whites too.

Top Red Trio from SuperValu
The annual SuperValu Christmas showcase gets underway tomorrow, 24th of November, and here are three reds (from many) to watch out for. My top three consist of an Italian style Shiraz from Australia, a lovely food-friendly Sangiovese from Tuscany and a delicious Rioja to try with the red meats, leg of lamb in particular. Cheers!

Nugan Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012 (Australia), 14.5%, €19.99 (15.00 from 24/11) SuperValu

The dried grape technique is borrowed from Italy. It is used mainly to increase concentration. Five days then in contact with the skins before going on to spend 12 months in French and US oak. It comes in a noticeably heavy bottle!

Darkly coloured (garnet), it is lighter towards the rim.  It has very inviting fruit aromas, cherry and plum. And the velvety palate is certainly concentrated, complex deep flavours (that cherry again), some spice too; quite intense; excellent acidity too and it has a long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Castellani Arbos Sangiovese (IGT Tuscany) 2013, 13.5%, €12.99 (10.00 from 24th Nov) SuperValu
Vanilla is prominent in the aromas of this Highly Recommended medium red; darker fruits there too. On the palate, it is smooth and fruity (cherries and plums), drifts of spice too, plus that quintessential acidity (almost an ever-present in Italian wines), and fine sweet tannins make it a pleasure in the mouth and the dry finish ain't bad either. Great value.

The producers aim has been to use the best Sangiovese grapes “to produce a Tuscan red dominated by fruity and spice notes, typical of the grape”. This worthy effort may be enjoyed with red meats and pasta dishes.

Pagos de Labarca AEX Rioja (DOC) 2011, 14.5%, €22.99 (18.00 from 24th Nov) SuperValu
Vanilla for sure in the complex nose but fruit shines through as well in this dark cherry red. That excellent balance is also noted on the smooth palate, tannins close to fine, plus some spice too, fruit and wood are well integrated and then follows a long and juicy finish with the dark fruit and vanilla still in harmony. Highly Recommended.

Bodega Covila, a co-op in Alavesa, regard this, rightly I think, as a Premium wine. It is a limited edition, just 6,400 bottles. It has excellent acidity and should be a good match for roast leg of lamb (no mint sauce though!), a match to repel the December chill and reinforce the Christmas cheer.

All Right With SuperValu Whites

Coopers Creek Dillons Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough (New Zealand), 12.5%, €14.99 (12.00 from 3.11) SuperValu
Best enjoyed young and fresh, say Coopers. So let's get at this Dillons, part of their Select Vineyards series.  It is light gold in colour with white fruit aromas (gooseberry, lime and peach in the mix). A power of flavour on the intense palate, balanced by a delicious acidity. Young and fresh it comes with a reverberating finish. Not to be left on the shelf. Highly Recommended.

Abellio Albarino 2015 Rias Baixas (DO), 12.5%, €13.99 (10.00 from 24/11) Supervalu

Liked the colour of this immediately, an inviting medium gold. It is hand-harvested and ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. The medium intense aromas are of white fruit. It has a smooth character on the palate, intense fruit (pear, apple and peach) with refreshing minerality. It is zesty and well balanced and Highly Recommended.

Domaine Les Guignottes, Les Resses Montagny 1er Cru 2014, 13%, €24.99 (€20.00 from 24/11) SuperValu

Not too much to say about this - just go out and buy and enjoy! This classic Chardonnay has beautiful intense white fruit aromas, peach the most prominent. Colour is a bright gold and there are amazing fruit and nut flavours, some spice too. The acidity too is outstanding. Fresh, with  a gorgeous mouthfeel and a long finish. Very Highly Recommended. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauvignon Blanc Still Sings

Sauvignon Blanc Still Sings
Marlborough New Zealand
Very recently, one of Ireland's top wine writers admitted that he had been avoiding Sauvignon Blanc for a few years despite never really disliking the variety. But now he is back and enjoying one of the most popular of what are termed the “international” varieties.

Many of us, including myself, my motto being variety is the spice of life, regularly try the lesser known grapes. But it would be a mistake to totally ignore the internationals. By coincidence, I've been trying a few Sauvignon Blancs recently. Last summer, enjoyed some terrific ones in the Loire area but the three here are from Chile and New Zealand’s Marlborough (where the variety does particularly well).
First though, there was an example of why our aforementioned writer and indeed anyone with a wee bit of wine knowledge may be turned off and that bottle came as a gift that had been bought via a supermarket offer. It was a Chilean but had so little to offer, no discernible aromas, very little flavour, no finish worth talking about, that it was poured down the sink with some gusto.
Viento Monte, Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Chile, 13%, €10.30 Karwig Wines
That Chile can produce decent Sauvignon Blanc and at a very good price is well known and indeed well illustrated by this bottle. It has a pale yellow colour with green highlights and an intense aroma of citrus, green apples and the typical (maybe a little less than normal) hint of grass. On the palate it is crisp and refreshing, quite a light mouthfeel and a very fresh finish. Recommended. I'm told their Chardonnay is also excellent. Must try that soon!
Greyrock Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2012, 12.5%, €13.80 Karwig Wines.
Greywacke is getting much attention recently but, for a tenner or so less, this Greyrock is well worth a try. By the way, they also produce a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc!
This 2012 still example is light gold, again with green tints and the nose has that fresh grassy element. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity with a mouthfeel that is both intense and lively, very refreshing,almost bubbly, and then a good dry finish. Highly Recommended.
Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011, 13%, €18.99 Wine Alliance stockists
Sauvignon Blanc is the flagship grape of New Zealand, accounting for the majority of the harvest in Marlborough where it grows best. And this Little Beauty is one of its best!
Little Beauty’s Fleur McCree was at a tasting in Cork last year and told us that the different blocks around the vineyard ripen at different times yet the intense fruit is preserved and there is “a build-up of layers of flavour to enhance the experience. Mango, Passion fruit at the start followed by Citrusy flavours mid-palate and then basil at the back of the tongue”. Really top notch, distinctive (somewhat more refined than your usual SB from here), and Very Highly Recommended.
* Note that you are now more likely to find the 2012 version of Little Beauty in the shops.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Aoife McCan, Gerry Gunnigan (Liberty Wines), Fiona Turner and Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) at Electric

New Zealand winemaker Fiona Turner brought her Marlborough wines to South Mall’s Electric last night and they went down a treat with the diners. The upstairs room, with a view, was full and over 70 per cent of the punters took up the offer of five half glasses for a tenner.

Fiona and yours truly
Naturally enough, both Denis O’Mullane of Electric and Fiona herself were delighted with the success. It was a first time wine and dine venture for Electric while Fiona is in the middle of a busy ten day period in Ireland and the UK.

She brought five wines, three white and two red. The aim at Tinpot Hut  is to make wines that they themselves enjoy drinking. Going by last night, quite a few other people enjoy drinking them too.

First up was the 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (13.5%); pleasingly rich and powerful, it is well balanced with a long pleasant finish. And it is on sale at Bradley’s, North Main Street.

Their Pinot Gris 2010 was another of the whites. A very refreshing drink, medium bodied and flavoursome with an ABV of 13%.

Didn’t expect to see a Gruner Veltliner in the line-up . The Austrian grape though has travelled well and ended up in good hands and the 2010 result is a complex medium-bodied wine, a classic style and a multi-award winner to boot, including gold at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2011.

Another award winner is the Tinpot Hut’s Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2007 (13%). They called it Syrah rather than Shiraz for a reason. The pepper and spice here doesn’t invade your senses but instead contributes proportionately to the overall experience. Ruby red with an aromatic nose, I thought it a brilliant mouthful, a terrific example that brings out the true flavours, mainly plum and pepper on the palate.

The Marlborough Pinot Noir  (12.5%) was the other red. No gold or silver medals here but still a smashing wine. “Classic cherry flavours dominate the palate and are supported by hints of plum and redcurrant.” This 2008 offering benefitted from the “prolonged warm dry summer...all grapes on the vine...were able to open fully, yielding...well developed, intensely flavoured fruit.”

So there we had it, five good easy drinking wines and not a dud among them. And, listening to Fiona explaining her criteria, I don’t think Tinpot will be releasing any inferior wine while she’s around.

And the food? I started with the Crispy fried tripe with chorizo, kale & chilli, then a tender steak and finished with a sweet sweet Strawberry meringue roulade. All top notch. And you can see the full menu here

Electric has come a long way since it opened during the Jazz weekend last autumn. Already, it is a fixture in the city. But they are not sitting back. There is better to come as the Electric ensemble is being trained to be the best around. Interesting times ahead in Cork’s “Theatre of Life”
Tinpot Hut wines are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another Little Beauty

Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc Limited Edition 2009, New Zealand, 13.5%, €15.99, stockists

She may have a big nose but this tropical visitor is another Little Beauty.

Raised and finished in Marlborough by Eveline Fraser, formerly of famed Cloudy Bay, this Sauvignon Blanc takes her well deserved place in a distinguished family.

We recently met her sister, the irresistible Pinot Noir  and look forward to meeting the other siblings, especially Dry Riesling.

This 13.5% Sauvignon Blanc sports a complexion of pale gold and the vibrant sheen is enhanced by attractive aromas. On the palate, the fruit shines through, grapefruit and gooseberry for me. It is refreshing, dry and crisp with a long and satisfying finish.