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Monday, July 22, 2019
Four of the Best from O’Brien’s Summer Promotion
-22nd July to 1st September-
The O’Brien’s Summer Promotion began this week and runs until 1st September. Over 100 wines are on offer, with discounts ranging from 6% to 42%. I think I've been lucky with the examples I've picked (below), all red as it turned out.
But there is so much more in the promotion. Anyone for rosé? Why not try L'Ostal Caze from the many on offer. Whites to consider include the Château-Fuissé Saint-Veran and the outstanding Robert Weil Riesling trocken. Having a little get-together out-the-back? There are two Rizzardi proseccos reduced and no shortage of cava or champagne either. Enjoy the summer! Responsibly, of course. Regular price in brackets.
Vaglio "Chango" Red Blend 2015 Argentina, 14.5%, 15.95 (18.95)
An expressive and pleasant wine according to the man who produced it: José Lovaglio Balbo, from Mendoza. Vaglio is a new micro-winery located in Tupungato created by José. He produces four single vineyard wines that all focus on micro-climates and minimal winemaking. José is a young winemaker at the well known Dominio del Plata and the son of renowned winemaker Susana Balbo. Each of his wines represent a unique terroir as well as different stages of his life.
The fruit comes from different vineyards, the Malbec (65%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) are from Altamira and the Tannat (20%) is from Cafayate. It has spent 11 months in oak (2nd/3rd use barrels).
Colour is close to a dark ruby. Bruised red fruit on the nose, a touch of orange peel too, slightest hints of vanilla emerge also. Palate is soft, full of that red fruit flavour, then the long-lasting finish, with tannins that are not yet quite smooth. A really well-made wine from Mendoza, an amazing amalgam of the grapes and the terroir conducted by the young wine-maker. He does ask for your feedback on the bottle! Very Highly Recommended. Chapeau, José. @joselovaglio
Tandem “Inmune” Valle de Yerri, Navarra, 2017, 12.95 (15.95)
Tandem, at the foot of the Camino de Santiago in the Yerri Valley, is a cool micro-climate where they practice sustainable farming and minimal intervention. Built north-facing and partially underground to use a gravity system, they have the finest natural conditions to age the wines.
Owner José María Fraile was in Cork last year and told us the vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings at 12 Tables.
Inmune (Spanish for immune) was one of the wines on the night, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.”
“We aimed to make a powerful, deep and concentrated wine, with nice weight and tannins in which the purity of the fruit garnacha would shine.” Reckon Tandem got it spot-on. Very Highly Recommended.
Leyda, 12 km from the Pacific is an ideal spot for viticulture. The maritime influenced cool conditions makes it an extraordinary area for the development of Pinot Noir. Vineyards are all on slopes, planted on the least fertile soils and they are managed in order to keep low yields.
Light to mid ruby is the colour. Summer berries combine for an intense aroma. Rich rounded palate of ripe red fruit (cherries prominent), a lively acidity, smooth tannins and a long and pleasing finish. An excellent Pinot Noir, Very Highly Recommended. Good value too, even at the original price.
Leyda, founded in 1997, are best known for their Pinot Noir (notably Lot 21), Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah (according to Wines of South America). This wine was aged in French oak barrels for ten months and pairs well with cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Pheasant/Pigeon, Pork Belly, Slow roast Pork loin.
Words of wine wisdom from the Contessa (below) encourage us to drink with emotion rather than a data sheet, passion rather than intellect.
Mid to dark ruby is the colour of this light Munus from the Lake Garda area. Aromas are intensely fruity, a hint of spice there too. Flavours are quite concentrated, acidity is excellent, hints of that sweet spice too, and a good finish to boot.
All that acidity means it's meant for food. I’m thinking: Bring on the lamb! The producer says: “Superb with pork and poultry dishes and lighter game such as partridge and quail. Also porcini mushroom risotto.” Another note from the vineyard recommends it to be served (16° C or 60° F) with pork roast, spicy dishes or casseroles. Quite versatile apparently!
A wine that belies its youth. Very Highly Recommended.
Lots of history behind Rizzardi and Munus which is produced mainly from Corvina, Merlot and Ancellotta grapes from their vineyards.
Created to celebrate the Contessa Loredan Rizzardi, a descendant of the Loredan Doges of Venice and she has been quoted as saying that this is her favourite wine, adding You have a perfect marriage of grapes when one grape is not prevailing over another. ….But I drink with passion, and without brains.
The label bears the word Munus - a gift - which was engraved on the silver coins given by the Doge on special occasions. It is part aged in large oak barrels. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Estate grown and bottled.
You may be wondering about the Ancellotta grape. Wine-searcher: Ancellotta is a dark-colored grape variety that originated in Italy. It is most often used as a blending component in sparkling red Lambrusco wines, but varietal examples can be found in Brazil, Argentina and Switzerland.
Monday, June 10, 2019
Three Rosés for Summer 2019 at O'Brien's
Dive in as prices tumble!
Dive in as prices tumble!
She laid take out on the coffee table
Prepped the dishes poured a glass of wine
Turn down the sound and move a little closer
Here for the moment everything is alright
(from Bon Jovi's "Because We Can)
This rosé from the south of France, with an American accent, really comes into its own on the palate, a delicious melange of flavours, fresh and fruity and acidity enough, followed by a light and lengthy finalé. A superb aperitif and probably excellent too with finger food, seafood and salads. One for the back garden (no pool to dive into, alas) in the months ahead.
It is a collaboration between renowned France winemaker Gérard Bertrand and Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse, hence the American name. It was voted Wine Spectator’s top rosé last year. This appearance in Ireland is thanks to O’Brien’s. It comes with an almost clear robe, the merest blush of colour. Floral and fruity elements feature in pleasing aromas of moderate intensity.
It is produced primarily from the Grenache grape though other Mediterranean grapes, such as Cinsault and Mourvedre, are also in the blend, all selected by Gérard Bertrand. Particular attention is paid to the pressing to ensure that only the first, highest-quality juice is kept. Highly Recommended.
Bodegas Tandem Rós Rosado Navarra (DO) 2018, 13.5%, €12.75 on offer (June 10th-July 21st), was 16.95.
Quite a few words on the label here: Alicia and Lynne, Navarra, Native Garnacha, Hand Farmed, Hand picked, Wild ferment, concrete tanks, force of nature, Artisanal, vegan.
They tell you most of what you need to know. Alicia and Lynne are the wine-makers, Alicia from Tandem and Lynne from O’Brien Wines. O’Brien’s are very happy with the part played by their very own Wine Director Lynne Coyle (Master of Wine) in this “delicious little rosé using natural wild yeast". It was produced in Navarra in the north of Spain and Garnacha is the grape here.
Force of Nature hints at the overall process, they worked “without technology”. It is also the name of a thriller by Jane Harper that I’ve just finished. The book, like the wine, is Very Highly Recommended!
It has a salmon colour. A very pleasing aromatic bouquet and an equally pleasing presence on the palate, fruity for sure (strawberry prominent), persistent too. I like this one, the introduction and the while handshake, start to finish. A very attractive wine, even more so at the reduced price. Very Highly Recommended.
Another famous name on this bottle, that of renowned French wine family J-M Cazes. This rosé though comes not from Bordeaux (where they have owned Chateau Lynch-Bages since 1939) but from another of their vineyards in the Languedoc.
So, L’Ostal is from the south of France, the source of many of those rosés that we know and love. It has somewhat less flavour than the Rós which also has a longer finish. This though is a lighter wine, a drink anytime kind of wine. Try it with a salad in the back-garden at lunch-time (check the forecast!) and you’ll be delighted with it.
Made from Syrah (50%) and Grenache, it is quite a pale pink, though its colour has more substance than the Hampton Water. It has been macerated (soaked) for a very short time on the skins to create this modern blush effect. The aromas too are delicate and also complex; concentrate and you may find pomegranate and rose petals there. The strawberry flavours are restrained but nothing wrong with that. It is fresh and supple in the mouth, refreshing with a slightly fruity, slightly sweet finish. Highly Recommended.
Not that easy to pick a winner. Each of the three has its own character. So it's down to personal taste and you won’t go wrong with any of the three. My first instinct is to go with the Rós, my second is to call for a 3-way replay! Oh, by the way, virtually every rosé in O'Brien's is reduced by 25% in the O'Brien's summer promotion that runs from now until July 21st. We'll take a look at the whites and the reds on offer soon.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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."|
Sunday, May 13, 2018
12 Tables & Tandem Winery
In vino veritas.
In vino veritas.
In vino veritas. And truth to tell, there was good wine, good food and good company as some fifty diners enjoyed the Tandem Winery Tasting Dinner at the 12 Tables in Douglas last Wednesday.
|The welcome drink|
The truth of another Latin saying, Dove regna il vino non regna il silenzio (Where wine reigns, silence does not) was also well illustrated on the night.
But, what’s with all the Latin boy?
But, what’s with all the Latin boy?
It is a theme at the Navarra based winery. Tandem itself is Latin for “finally” and nothing to do with bikes while the names of the individual wines are in Latin (or derived from it): Casual, Inmacula, Ars In Vitro, Ars Nova, Macula, Ars Memoria, and Inmune.
Tandem is of much more recent vintage than the ancient Latin tongue, founded in 2003 by by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. José was in the 12 Tables having left Pamplona at 5.00am that morning on a route that brought him to Cork via Madrid and London.
He was introduced by Nicolas Sicot of O’Brien’s Wines who import the Tandem wines. “I love organising these events, love to share the wines. It's great to meet the people behind the label and delighted to have José here. Dave Farrell has worked wonders and has come up with a great menu to go with the wines.”
José admitted to being delighted with the full house. “It is incredible. I hope you enjoy the dinner and the Navarra wine. I feel very humbled and proud; it would be hard to match this crowd in Spain!”
The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings.
Their rosé, or at least the very first version of it, was more or less an accident and hence the name Casual. A very enjoyable accident though, as we appreciated on arrival.
The kitchen, with chef-patron Dave Farrell at the head, produced an excellent starter: Serrano wrapped Monkfish, spiced crevettes, roast pepper purée, pistachios pickled samphire and Parmesan cream. And the wine was the Immacula (meaning without blemish), a blend of mostly Viognier and 15% Viura. It is fermented in French oak (not new) and kept on its fine lees for three months to gain texture and volume. “It is very successful for us and highly rated and there is nothing of it left at the winery.” We were on a winner.
Immune was the next wine, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.” He, and we, were enjoying the meal: “Amazing dishes.”
Up next was Jack McCarthy’s black pudding rosti, caramelised Radicchio, golden beets, wild mushroom, Crozier blue cheese and aged balsamic. Quite a lot going on in that plate and José had a favourite wine to match, the Ars in Vitro (art in glass), an unfiltered, unoaked wine with fruit and fragrance and a silky palate, raised for a minimum of two years. “How wine for me should taste,” remarked Jose.
This 2014 has been raised in concrete. “Nowadays, concrete is accepted, the epoxy lining has made the difference, more complexity, more tannins, more colour, finesse and elegance.” It is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot.
The wines and the food reached a high point with the main course. Jose introduced his Ars Nova, a 2014 blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fresh, fruity and long. Ageing is a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. “More complex, more spice and great with lamb.”
Great too with duck as it turned out as the kitchen pulled out all the stops with Tea Brined Skeaghanore Duck breast, Almond and Apricot roulade, potato confit, charred onion, baby carrots and roast shallot purée. Quite a climax.
We eased out with a Trio of Artisanal Cheese with Fig Jam. The cheeses were Roquefort, Milleens and Tipperary Cheddar and the wine was Mácula, described as “a masculine wine of good length” and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from 2011. Tandem are slow to let their wines off to market. This, for instance, spends a minimum 24 months in concrete and 26 months in 300-litre French oak barrels.
José was delighted with the reception for his wines. “It has been an incredible dinner, fantastic being here. I'm so happy.” Nicolas thanked the kitchen and front of house at 12 Tables saying “We’ll do it again!”, a sentiment that went down well. In vino veritas.
You may view a video of José talking about Tandem and its wines here.
Check the Tandem wines in stock at O’Brien’s website or just call in to Nico at their Douglas branch!
All the news, including menus, from 12 Tables in Douglas is here; also on their Facebook page.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Marco Real Colection Privado Crianza Navarra (DOC) 2013, 14.5%, €17.40 Karwig
The wines of Navarra are not as prominent in the Irish market as those of Rioja, its next door neighbour in Spain's North West. But this impressive amalgam of Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah, illustrates well why it should be taken more seriously.
The grapes are hand-picked and sorted twice on arrival at the winery. Twelve months in new French oak barrels is followed by 12 months in bottle and that earns it the Crianza sticker (on the back of the bottle).
The legs here, as you might expect, are slow to clear; colour is a deep ruby. There is an attractive mix of aromas (mainly ripe red fruits) plus hints of oak. Silky, Fruity. Spicy. Tannins are more or less totally integrated as is the oak. This full-bodied intense wine has a persistent finish and is Very Highly Recommended. Good value as well.
Casa de la Ermita Idílico Jumilla (DOP) 2012, 14.5%, €19.99 (€15.00 on offer from 23/11 to 1/3) SuperValu
A blend of Petit Verdot and Monastrell, this Crianza comes from old vines grown at 700 metres above sea-level.
It has an intense garnet colour, the legs slow to clear as you'd expect. Intense aromas too: darker fruits, plum prominent, hints of mint too. Rich on the palate, full of concentrated fruit flavours, spice too and close-to-smooth tannins. Excellent finish also, leaving you with that second glass feeling. This newcomer to SuperValu is very welcome and Highly Recommended.
Koha (Merlot, Cabernet Franc) Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) 2016, 13%, €14.00 Marks and Spencer
As you can see, this is a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc. It won Platinum for the producers, the Giesen family, in the recent Decanter awards and it is exclusive to Marks and Spencer. The sunny region of Hawkes Bay is perfect for Merlot. Just noticed that the Giesens produce an unusual style “blend” of hard apple cider and white wine, in a can!
Back to our smooth and fruity wine with its deep purple colour. Warm dark fruits prominent in a lovely mix of aromas. Plums and berries on the juicy palate, oak in the background. Fresh and vibrant, this smooth engaging young wine, medium to full-bodied, is worth getting to know. Highly Recommended. Pretty good value too. Match with roasts and BBQ.
The Koha, by the way, is a long tailed cuckoo, a summer visitor to New Zealand.