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The loess soils of the Wagram are particularly favourable to Grüner Veltliner and this is another excellent example by Diwald. Very Highly Recommended.
This is a light gold colour, and bright. Aromas led by citrus, a touch of pepper. Zesty too on the palate as this light and lively wine spreads around. Light and thirst quenching yet also quite assertive. It has spent 8 months on lees.
Generally GrüVe is well paired with salads and vegetables and makes for a mouthwatering aperitif and importer Mary Pawle recommends serving this Diwald with scallops.
But the grape is very versatile. Terry Theise, in Reading Between the Wines, says GrüVe is a hugely important variety “both for its flavour and also for its usefulness”. It is “by far the most flexible dry white wine in the world at the table”. He concludes: “..once you encounter it, you may not be able to imagine life without it”. High praise indeed.
The Diwalds, long-time practitioners of organic wine-making, say Goldberg is one of the best single vineyards in the village. Terraces and hills which slope towards the Danube Valley and mighty loess ground build the foundation for the Goldberg wines. According to Martin Diwald, the goal is “to produce cheerful wines, in which the zest of the region and the philosophy of the vintner are united.” Reckon he scores with this one! As do his customers.
Jacques Frelin Pouilly-Fumé (AOP) 2017, 13%, €26.60 Mary Pawle
Minerality and elegance are head-lined on the back label of this organic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and they are indeed a notable part of the very pleasant experience.
Colour is a very light straw. Intense aromas (melon, pear/apple, honeysuckle notes). Lively fruit, the classic citrus in there too, lively acidity, that minerality and elegance, very refreshing and a good dry finish. Well made, well balanced. Excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
No need to say too much more. Mary Pawle recommends trying it with trout or salmon and also goat’s cheese. I’ve seen recommendations for pairing it with shellfish, spicy food, salads, pork, and light pasta dishes.
Karwig's Closing Down Sale Continues Three to look out for!
Rochebin Macon Lugny (AOP) Chardonnay 2018, 12.5%, Karwig Wines was 15.85, now 10.30…
Colour is a mid gold. Aromas of white fruit, floral notes too. Soft and rich on the palate, peach and melon flavours, rounded mouthfeel, fresh acidity too and a good finish. Very quaffable on its own and pairs well with: spiced tapas, charcuterie, white meats (chicken, veal) or seafood platters. Treat yourself - Highly Recommended.
Machard De Gramont “Dom. De La Vierge Romaine” Pinot Noir Bourgogne (AOC) 2017, 13%, €19.95 (prior to closing down sale) Karwigs
Aged in old oak for 13 months, this is an excellent Pinot Noir, full of character and well-priced even before news of Karwig’s closing-down sale broke.
Mid-ruby is the colour and it has a bright sheen. Aromas, with berries and cherries in the mix, are light and lovely. On the palate it is deliciously fruity, the merest touch of sweet spice, acidity enough, tannins barely noticeable with a decent finish. Elegant and fresh and Highly Recommended.
This has the VDP eagle displayed on the neck, “a guarantee of pure wine pleasure”, not a bad start. For many years the winery was a foundation for the benefit of the town of Eltville in the Hattenheim region. In 2003, it came back into private ownership.
Colour is a light straw with green tints. Citrus aromas with a touch of diesel. Lively and fruity on the palate, fading slowly to a dry finish. Highly Recommended.
Esprit de Crès Ricards Marsanne-Roussanne Pays d’OC (IGP) 2017, 13%, €14.50 Karwig Wine
This Esprit is part of a series made by Crès Ricards from local grapes. I’ve always liked these two, either solo or in a blend (as is the case here) and that’s why I bought this in Karwig’s. It is 70% Marsanne.
Colour is a mid-straw, bright and clear. White fruit and floral notes on the nose. Intense and lasting flavours, passionfruit and honeysuckle, make this a pleasant experience from rich and fresh attack to the apricot affected finalé. Highly Recommended.
Interestingly, one of the suggested pairings is blue cheese. Maybe not that surprising anymore. In Matt Kramer’s book, True Taste (2015), he wrote: “…. increasingly, the most serious lovers of cheese choose white wines over red. This would have astounded our wine- and cheese-loving forebears.”
The winery suggests seafood, fish, poultry dishes and, yes, blue cheese, and also as an aperitif. As you probably know, Karwig's are closing their business in Carrigaline and a closing-down sale is in progress. You may well get this one at a better price than above.
Casa de Mouraz Encruzado Dáo (DOC) 2016, 13%, €21.00 Mary Pawle
In 1997, Casa de Mouraz became the first biodynamic winery in the Dao. Portuguese grapes aren't that well known individually in this country. Encruzado, the grape here, is “potentially the best white grape of the DAO” according to Grapes and Wine. Barrel fermentation and lees stirring help bring out the character. It is indigenous and regarded as the most important white grape in the region and this particular wine has had eight months on fine lees with batonage.
The first thing you’ll note is that the cork is covered with a wax. Just remove that with the blade on your corkscrew. It is fairly soft but be careful!
Colour is a mid-straw. Aromas of medium intensity recall white fruits and citrus, floral notes too. Fresh fruit flavours (apricot, peach), excellent mouthfeel, acidity enough to nudge it towards crisp and a decent citrus-y finish too. Highly Recommended.
Food pairing: Oven baked fish (such as codfish, salmon or tuna). Also very good with white meat and some vegetarian dishes like pasta with pesto or cheese sauces. Aside from handling full flavoured fish dishes (also the Portuguese favourite bacalao), it is excellent on its own. very versatile indeed.
“A real drinking pleasure” is how Le Caveau describe this Pinot Noir from New Zealand. They have been trying to source a Kiwi supplier for Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc for a while and reckon Pebble Dew is the answer.
It has one of the lightest red colours you’ll see, very close to rosé. The red fruit aromas are packed with promise. And the fruit delivers well on the palate, supple and juicy, right to the refreshing finalé, with a touch of tannin, evident on the top of the lips. It is a light and lively wine for summer, has a bit more going for it than the Sauvignon Blanc.Highly Recommended.
Colour of the Pebble Dew Sauvignon is a very light straw. Aromatic too with white stone fruit and lime in the mix. Gets more citrus-y on the palate, the lively fruit matched with acidity. Pleasant and easy drinking. Nice aperitif and should go well with seafood and salads. Recommended.
Château de Bastet “Aeris” Côtes du Rhone 2015, 13%, €15.20 Mary Pawle
Generally, white Côtes du Rhone have a clear and crisp appearance, with a floral and fruit bouquet and a well balanced palate. This “Aeris”, organic and biodynamic, certainly fits that description. Serve at 8 to 10 degrees and it is the perfect match to grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goat cheeses. Salad Nicoise too.
Château de Bastet decided to go biodynamic in 1997. This 2015 is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. Other white grapes permissible in the region are Clairette, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc too and Picpoul.
It is light straw in colour. And there is a nice mix of aromas, floral along with pear and peach. Smooth with good depth of flavour and a pleasant finish. Highly Recommended and, by the way, well priced.
Chateau Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet (AOP) 2018, 13%, €13.80 Mary Pawle
A dry white from the Languedoc region near the Med in the south of France. Mary Pawle tells me this grape, Picpoul de Pinet, is often referred to as the Muscadet of the South and is excellent with oysters and most shellfish. And that’s confirmed by the label recommending fruits de mer, coquillages et crustacés, with a serving temperature of 8 degrees.
It has a mid-yellow colour with green tints. Aromatic for sure - citrus, melon and floral. Rounded and abundant fruit flavour (lime, grapefruit), generous mouthfeel (close to creamy), a perky acidity and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.
Picpoul is the grape and Wine-Searcher says this Picpoul de Pinet is its most famous incarnation. “The variety's ability to keep its acidity even in a hot, Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect choice for the region, making taut, full-bodied white wines with herbal and citrus aromas.”
This is a bit of an ambush. Nothing in the colour (a weak red) or in aromas (delicate) quite prepares you for what lies ahead when you sip this Languedoc blend of Syrah (mostly) and Grenache. “Smile inducing.” “Sings in the glass.” Quotes from importers Le Caveau and I fully agree.
That weak red colour is very close to a rosé. And the aromas have a delicate red berry nose, a touch of white pepper too. It is a pleasant surprise in the mouth, supple and pretty, with quite a lively character, reaching a high level of quality.
Despite the initial doubts, I totally concede: this is exquisite, distinctive too, closer to a Beaujolais than one would think possible in a Southern red with Syrah as the main grape. Perhaps the sea breezes wafting in over the spiralling red roofs of Collioure have something to with that and with the lower ABV. If you are looking for a pretty and light red wine, and many people are nowadays, then look no further than this Highly Recommended red.
Octobre is released each year in… October; 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache grown on granitic soil, hand harvested and spontaneous carbonic fermentation, no SO2 added. Jean-François Nicq, one of the Foulard Rouge (red scarves), took over the domaine in 2002 and practices natural wine-making and you can taste it in this pure wine.
Contrefours du Delta Côtes de Ventoux (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle
There is an increased interest in lighter red wines in recent years and, if you’d like to try one, this bottle fits the bill. It is an organic wine from the southern edge of the Rhone Valley, a “supple and juicy” blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah.
Mid ruby is the colour. It is aromatic with a mix of red fruits (raspberries and strawberries included). It is indeed charming and light, juicy and a refreshing drop with a decent finish, tannins just about noticeable on the lips. Can be served cool too, so handy for the warmer days ahead. Well made and Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.
Pairing tips included grilled lamb with thyme, goat cheese or with a fig tart.
Do you need a light summer-time red for that pizza or pasta?Check out this easy-drinking well-priced wine Tuscan wine from Karwig’s. Sangiovese is the grape and it is a major grape in that part of Italy, its reputation reinforced over the years by its role in wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti itself of course, and also Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. You’ll note rich dark red fruit (cherry, plum) in the aromas. Well balanced on the palate, light fruit and lively acidity, a touch of soft tannins towards the finish. Easy drinking and Recommended.
Maison Emmanuel Giboulot Bourgogne (AOC) 2016, 11.5%, €30.00 Mary Pawle Wines
This wine is organic and biodynamic, as are many of the wines that Mary Pawle imports. So nothing new there.
Except that, as recently as 2014, this winemaker Emmanuel Giboulot was fined and threatened with a jail term for sticking to his principles. He was convicted for refusing a government order to spray crops with pesticides, following fear over an outbreak of golden rot, only to have the decision reversed on appeal. Prison rather than poison.
This is quite a wine with a lovely light gold colour. Delicate aromas of white flowers. A velvety mouthfeel, beautiful intense fruit (stone, citrus) from start to long finish. Excellent bright minerality too. This elegant wine is superbly balanced and is Very Highly Recommended.
Emmanuel met the problem of agricultural practices and its impact on wine and human health head on and is now a prominent advocate for organic and biodynamic viticulture. His wines reflect his principles and the widely acknowledged exceptional Burgundy terroir. Enjoy this one! As we celebrate Real Wine Month.
Maison Emmanuel Giboulot “Terres Macônnaises” Mâcon-Villages (AOC) 2016, 11.5%, €30.00 Mary Pawle
Sometimes, I have very little to say about the better wines - they speak for themselves. This is one such. It is 100% Chardonnay and biodynamic. Colour is a very bright light gold. There are appealing aromas of white fruit, blossom notes too. Superb fruit (pear and apple), a refreshing acidity, and that balanced mix takes you all the way to a long and satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Grapes are hand-picked and sorted. The whole bunch is pressed and cold settled for 24 to 48 hours. The light must is fermented in old oak tanks. Before being bottled, it is aged on fine lees for 11 months.
The Mâconnais wine region is in the south of Burgundy and takes its name from the town of Mâcon. It is best known for its Chardonnays.
Hemingway was quite a lover of these wines as he disclosed in A Moveable Feast. On a drive up from the south of France with Scott Fitzgerald, they enjoyed a packed lunch which included truffled roast chicken and he reported that Scott was very happy when we "drank the white Maconnais at each of our stops". Later on that day, "At Mácon I had bought four bottles...which I uncorked as we needed them." No breath-analyser in those roaring twenties. The French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann was born and raised in Mâcon but was deemed too small to play for Lyons so headed for Spain where he is now earning about €400,000 a week with Atletico Madrid. Since I didn’t have to say too much about the excellent wine, I thought I’d throw that in!
Dit Celler “Selenita” Montsant (DO) 2008, 14.5%, €17.00 Mary Pawle Wines
Biodiversity in the vineyard
This powerful red is a blend of Garnatxa, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mary Pawle: “If you are fond of the wines from Priorat then you should enjoy the Montsant wines from the opposite valley.”
Priorat is a region in Catalonia, Spain. The central part of the region, Priorat històric, produces the highly-regarded wines that are certified under the DOQ Priorat. Wines from elsewhere in the region are certified as DO Montsant.
So now that we know about Montsant, how about the name of the wine? The Selenita are the inhabitants of the moon and the producers infer that some of their night-time magic has been bottled. You too are free to use your imagination! While we’re on it, the winery is named after its founders Dani Sánchez (from Azul y Garanza in Navarra) and Toni Coca, so D and T (DiT).
Wine-Searcher says Montsant, an approved wine region only since 2001, has earned a reputation for its high-quality red wines. This dark ruby offering is one of them. It is lighter at the rim (still very narrow, even after ten years). The legs are certainly slow to clear, confirming the high abv. Intense dark fruit aromas (plum, cherry, cassis), toasty notes too. Powerful yet velvety on the palate, elegant, deeply flavoured and tannins by now well-integrated (you’ll get a soft reminder onthe lips), smooth spice, and the long finish echoes the palate. A big hug of a wine and Very Highly Recommended.
Mas Théo Gemeaux Vin de France 2016, 13.5%, €17.20 Mary Pawle
The little-known Grignan-les-Adhémar AOC growing area lies to the south of Montélimar (a Rhone city famous for its nougat). Planted among fields of lavender and thyme or olive groves, on land long famous for its truffles, the vines soak up the scents and aromas distilled by the generous sun of the Drôme provençale and it is in the heart of this area that you’ll find Mas Théo. Mas by the way means farmhouse; Mas de la Dame near Baux de Provence is another example. This AOC is between the northern and southern Rhone and is regarded as southern.
This “delicious and crunchy” wine is a blend of Carignan (60%) and Mourvedre (40), is organic and biodynamique. Recommended serving temperature is 14%.
It has a very dark red robe and you’ll find blackberries and notes of the garrigue in the aromas. It’s nice and smooth on the palate, has excellent acidity, medium to full bodied, smooth tannins and a good finish. Highly Recommended.
Domaine de la Fessardière“L’Air Innocent” Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2015, €18.65 Mary Pawle
Brittany Ferries opened the Cork-Roscoff route in 1978 and, for quite a few years afterwards, virtually every Cork driver visiting France got lost in Nantes. Happened to myself once and I ended up in the vineyards to the south-east of the city (not the worst of outcomes, quite recoverable). French roads have improved a lot since then and now most major cities, including Nantes, have either a rocade or a périphérique.
Like most early ferry travellers, we didn’t go too far in the first year or two, mainly to the south of Brittany around Concarneau, Guerande and Carnac. The supermarché (even the odd hyper) were the main attractions for the first (and last) few days of the hols with the male eyes concentrating on the bottom shelves and the bottles of Muscadet for less than punt! Got a lot of it then (also Gros Plant, even cheaper) and that cheap stuff put many off the fruit of the Melon de Bourgogne grape for years.
Bit by bit though we began to realise that two very important words on the bottle were Sur Lie, though only a year or two back the somm in a five star hotel in Kerry didn’t seem to know them. Glad to say that this bottle is Sur Lie (raised on lees) and is a splendid offering via Mary Pawle Wines.
It has indeed been kept on its lees for six months. Besides there is no added sulphur and the fruit has been hand-harvested.The grape variety is the normal Melon de Bourgogne and the vineyard follows organic methods.
Mary says it is round and unctuous in the mouth and a good match with seafood or a semi-soft cheese.In addition, the producers recommend “fish in sauce, poultry with the cream, cooked cheese like the county (Comté, I presume) or Cantal.”
The name of this round, fresh and fruity wine, “L’Air Innocent”, emphasises this closeness to nature. Colour is a very light straw, bright and healthy looking. The aromas, delicate and appealing, are of white fruit (apple). Apple flavours are somewhat stronger than the scents and there’s a touch of citrus too, also a refreshing acidity, a tingle of minerality as well, and it also has a pleasant long finish. Highly Recommended.
First sip and a pleasant surprise. Yellow fruit flavours lead to a very pleasing palate. Nice bit of acidity too and all combine in a lovely finalé. The colour is a pale straw. Aromas of peach and apple hint of good things to come. A decent wine at a decent price from a surprising source as I wouldn’t have thought of Sicily as a hotbed of Pinot Grigio.
The first thing you’ll notice about this wine is that Garnacha is displayed prominently on the front label. This is to distinguish it from the more usual Tempranillo. El Coto has six or seven vineyards in Rioja and these grapes come from their Los Almendros vineyard.
They say that Garnacha was, for years, “a disparaged variety due to its complex viniculture, but prepared and aged in barrels matched to its delicate and complex character, it results in very pleasant wines, with a lot of fruit and a good body, very much in line with the demands of the consumer of today.”
I certainly liked it very much. It has a mid-ruby colour with a lovely sheen. Pretty intense red fruit aromas, hints of vanilla. Juicy and fruity (cherry and more), fresh with balsamic notes, good acidity, fine tannins in a long finish. A vibrant harmonious wine, easy-drinking and Very Highly Recommended.
The character of the fresh fruit has been carefully respected during its 12 months in 225-litre American oak barrels (followed by six months in bottle). It comes to you silky and velvety with good intensity. Serve at 16 to 18 degrees. Perfect, they say, with white meat, certain fish (especially cod), veal and mild cheese.
Casa los Frailes Trilogia Valencia 2011, 14.5%, €19.00 Mary Pawle Wines,
This compelling organic wine from the south east of Spain is a blend of Monastrell (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20) and Tempranillo (10) and aged for 12 months in Hungarian oak.
It has a dark ruby colour and the legs are slow to clear. Rich powerful aromas with blackcurrant perhaps the more prominent. Super concentrated flavours of ripe fruits, fresh acidity and more than a touch of spice. This layered award winner finishes dry and long. Could be kept for a few years yet but it gives great pleasure right now and is Very Highly Recommended.
Casa Los Frailes “was certified organic in 2000, being one of the very first ones in Spain. 15 years later, we are convinced that we do not only need to respect and sustain the land, but also transform it and make it a livelihood. As a result, we embrace biodynamic agriculture as an inspiration pattern and model.”
This is Spanish Wine Week in Ireland. Check here for details of the main events.
Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura
Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 9%, €17.96 Mary Pawle Wines
One variety, one river. It says on the label. Better tell you about the variety as I had to look it up myself.It is 100% Loureiro. Wine-Searcher says it is a thin skinned white grape variety native to northern Portugal and used to make the ever trendy Vinho Verde wines. Taking its name from the laurel or bay-leaf plant for its resembling aroma, Loureiro wines are refreshing with a slight effervescence. They have fresh acidity and are low in alcohol making them a perfect wine to enjoy on its own or with light meals.
Many of you will be familiar with Vinho Verde wines from the north west coast of Portugal which has a relatively cool climate, perfect for growing vines. Quite often Loureiro is used in a blend. Food pairings suggested include with canapés or seafood. It also pairs raw fish in a flawless fashion (sushi, sashimi) and dishes of strong and exotic flavor (especially oriental food).
This organic crisp and dry wine, from Casa de Mouraz, has a light straw colour. Aromas of peach and apricot, orange blossom too. It doesn’t have the obvious petillance that you sometimes get in Vinho Verde but there is a quite a tingle on the palate. Fruit is light and lively and the high acidity reinforces its refreshing nature. This low alcohol Vinho Verde, even without the bubbles, is Highly Recommended.
A grape name that is not very familiar on Irish shelves features in this white from the north west of Spain. Treixadura is grown mainly in Spain and in Portugal where they call it Trajadura. It is usually blended. This one though is 100% Treixadura and has been aged on its lees.
It boast an attractive light gold colour, lots of tiny bubbles cling to the glass. Aromas are fresh, both fruity and floral. Flavours of peach and apricot mainly, also citrus; it has a lovely mouthfeel and the citrus is more in play through to the long finish. Wouldn’t mind a few examples of this one, Highly Recommended.
Seafood is widely considered a match, eg clams in tomato sauce, seared scallops with herb salad. Red peppers stuffed with cheese is also recommended.
Azul y Garanza Desierto Navarra (DO) 2012, 14.5%, €39.00 Mary Pawle
The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of some 42,000 hectares in southeast Navarre. The soils are made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and have been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, called cabezos.
This superb wine is named after the desert. Yet the vineyard itself is the exact opposite of a desert. They have planted different species of vegetation, such as aromatic plants, shrubs, and fruit trees (the greater the assortment, the better), but using only indigenous varieties. The vines occupy just 37% of the total available land area. Mono-crop cultivation is avoided; there is room and shelter for all kinds of life.
And here, in Ribera Alta, a warm area as you can imagine,they produce this 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Colour is an intense ruby, the legs slow to clear. Aromas are of ripe dark fruit, plums, blackberries included, also notes of vanilla. Deep and dark flavours in the full bodied wine, dense, touch of spice, warming, powerful and smooth with a long and very satisfying finish. A superb wine and Very Highly Recommended.
“Wild-natured vines, full of biodiversity and astonishingly beautiful; organic and endowed with special faculties which result in one-of-a-kind wines. Wines which are a clear reflection of the place they come from.” And the purity of the nearby desert gives the vineyard the advantageous pathway to produce this bio wine without too much trouble. Perhaps the biggest human intervention is its 15 months in French oak.
Navarra, for a long time now, has been criticised for its use of French grapes but, according to Wine-Searcher, “is beginning to attract attention for its high quality red wines made mainly from the Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varieties after years of being overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Rioja".
Founded in the year 2000 by Fernando Barrena Belzunegui, Azul y Garanza is a family winery, located in Carcastillo, with its own vineyards in the area called La Cañada de los Roncaleses, at the entrance to the extraordinary desert of the Bardenas Reales, the largest in Europe. . Thanks to this location, the vineyards enjoy ideal conditions for obtaining quality grapes: a very poor soil and an extremely dry climate, with strong thermal contrasts between day and night. The winery continues, since its inception, the principles of organic farming.
Osoti Crianza Rioja (DOC) 2013, 14%, €17.50 Mary Pawle Wines
Quite an exceptional blend of Tempranillo (85%) and Graciano organically grown grapes. It has a deep cherry colour, tears slow to go. Rich fruity aromas plus hints of the oak. Fruity and very very dry. Red and darker fruits feature in a power-packed palate and that keen acidity balances it all nicely. And no slackening off at all in the persistent finish. Very satisfactory rounded wine and Very Highly Recommended.
The wine has been aged in barrels for 12 months. Sediment spotted, so probably best to decant.
A few sentences from the website that I like:
“We continue the ritual that has not changed in thousands of years. The grapes are picked by hand and taken to the winery with care, as if they were treasure.
We put the wine in oak barrels where they wait in silence, at the correct temperature, until they turn into a wine that condenses the meaning of La Rioja in a bottle.”
"We take advantage of other herbs and plants to protect the vines and enrich them."
Calendes is the name for the day of the new moon and an indication of time passing, an indication also that the winemaker is guided by the lunar cycles. This Biodynamic wine is one hundred per cent Syrah. The barrel ageing (20 to 30% in new oak) lasts about 12 to 14 months depending on the vintage.
It has a deep ruby colour. Ripe red fruits on the nose. Smooth and rich too on the palate with a strong waft of spice; it is ample and generous with delicate tannins and a slight hint of vanilla and the lengthy finalé also features ripe fruity notes and spices.
They advise decanting about one hour in advance; must admit I didn’t do that. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Wines from Hermitage itself are of course the most sought after in this Northern Rhone area but you can find some good ones too in the much larger Croze-Hermitage and this is one of them. Very Highly Recommended.
According to an official Inter-Rhone information booklet, these reds in their youth combine well with delicatessen meat, lamb or roasted guinea fowl. On maturity they are the perfect accompaniment to casseroles, coq au vin, rich beef stew, beef in red wine etc.
La Marouette Blanc Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €13.50 Mary Pawle.
Sans sulfite ajouté is proudly displayed on the front label of this organic wine, one hundred per cent Chardonnay and new to the Mary Pawle list. Mary says this is “eagerly awaited” with pleasing aromas of pineapple and honey. Well rounded and supple in the mouth and a good match with fish, chicken or salad dishes.
It is produced in the heart of the Pays d'Oc in the South of France. The vinification is done at low temperature for a good conservation of the aromas. Jacques Frelin Vignobles, formerly La Maison des Terroirs Vivants, is a major French player in organic wine.
It has a lovely light to mid-gold colour. The aromas, gentle tropical fruit, are reasonably intense. And there’s a similar persistent intensity on the palate, pineapple to the fore, fresh and with a delicately buttered body and the finish is good too. Highly Recommended. Good value also by the way. Serve between eight and ten degrees. Ideal as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to fish or shellfish.
A couple of bottles of wine, one red, one white, can go a long way at the Christmas meal. Lots of lovely couples below!
Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, €21.15 Karwig Wine
It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure! Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.
Two from South Africa
Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2016 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online
Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2014 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online
This James Nicholson red is a very popular wine and you’ll see it on quite a few restaurant lists. It is a dark ruby colour, the legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits (plums, blackberries) feature in the enticing aromas, also a touch of vanilla. That fruit is also there on the vibrant palate, a drift of spice too, smooth with silky tannins, well balanced and with an excellent finish.
It is mainly Syrah (86%) and the other grapes in the blend are Mourvèdre (13) and Viognier (1). It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak prior to blending and bottling.
The Wolftrap white was accorded Superquaffer of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine.
It is an unusual blend of Viognier 48% (for spice), Chenin Blanc 41% (melon) and Grenache Blanc 11% (white peach), all contributing to the experience. The different grapes are fermented and aged partially in French oak before blending and bottling.
It has a very clean light yellow colour with green tints. Pleasant white/yellow fruits, plus floral notes, feature in the inviting aromas. Fresh and fruity, unexpected depth in this elegant body, a lively acidity all through and then a lip-smacking finish.
It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.
After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.
Herdade do Peso Sossego Branco Alentejano (IG) 2016, 13%,
RRP €16.99, Matson Wine Store
The local tranquility wasn’t too bad either as I opened the Sossego with its light yellow colour and tints of green. Scents of citrus fruit and blossoms, more floral than fruity, enhance the mood. Lively and fresh on the palate, the fruit flavours are balanced by excellent acidity and a good dry finish follows. Refreshing and flavourful.
The grapes used by winemaker Luis Cabral de Almeida were 75% Antão Vaz, 20% Arinto, 5% Roupeiro. This may be enjoyed on its own or as an aperitif. It pairs wonderfully with various fish dishes, some white meats and an array of salads.
Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.
Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances it and a persistent finish crowns it.
Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95
“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.
A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.
Dominio de Punctum Finca Fabian Verdejo Castilla (Vino de la Terra) 2016, 12.5%, €12.20, Mary Pawle Wines
This Verdejo is madefrom organically grown grapes, night harvested and cold maceration before fermenting. Colour is straw yellow, bright and clear and there are white fruits in the aromas, floral notes too.
It is fresh and a little livelier than many Verdejos, excellent fruit flavours and balancing acidity. A lovely drop indeed with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended. Good value also, by the way.
Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines
This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.
Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value also.
Haven’t tasted these in quite a while but must say I like the look of this pair from the excellent Luis Canas at Gary O’Donovan’s. The red is the Madurado Tempranillo/Garnacha while the white is Viura/Malvasia. Both are 2017 and the total cost of the presentation two-pack is €25.00.
The white blend is dense and unctuous on the palate, with a good balance between acidity and alcohol. The aftertaste brings notes of ripe fruit and minerality.
The red blend has spent 12 months in oak, is fruity on the nose, all enveloping on the palate while it finishes well with fruit and acidity.
The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish, also smoked fish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!
Colour is a clean and bright purple. No need to nose the glass here as the aromas - attractive dark berries and plums mainly - come up to meet you. Terrific fruit too on the palate with great balance, tannins are fine, lovely and a lingering dry finish. Footbolt is a favourite here and Very Highly Recommended.
The Odd Couple
Elgin Ridge 232 Sauvignon Blanc South Africa (from Le Caveau).
Decanter praise: vibrant, at once savoury and saline, yet ripe and tropical.
Made by Brian and Marion Smith. Marion’s from Cavan. I’ve sampled this a few times and have a bottle in the house for the festivities. Well worth a try.
This well-priced quality red wine has gorgeous and intense fruit aromas. Also engaging red fruit flavours (cherries, berries, redcurrants), a touch of spice, full bodied and quite dry to the finalé. This is easy drinking, light and bright, not unlike Pinot Noir.