Showing posts with label O'Brien's Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Brien's Wine. Show all posts

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Wine Brief. Bradley’s Host Wine Tasting as Street Lights Shine



Bradley’s Host Wine Tasting as Street Lights Shine
Bradley's celebrate the switching on of the North Main Street Christmas lights this Friday with a wine-tasting in the famous old food and drink shop. The tasting, from 5.30 to 7.30, is in conjunction with Findlaters and there'll be a selection of reds and whites. You may well get something for Christmas table.

Rioja Reserva
Looking for a really versatile, food-friendly red?  This Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2014 Tinto could be just the job, available at O’Brien’s at a reduced price of €20.95. See review here.


Australia Day Tasting
The 2019 edition date is January 31st. All the details on the poster. Do note this is a Trade tasting.


Chateau Feely
Do you love someone enough to gift them a share in a vineyard? Yourself? Pourquoi pas?Chateau Feely in Bergerac gives you the opportunity for this and more unusual presents. Check out their “classic vine share “. To order the excellent Feely wines for delivery in Ireland or to find a stockist near you please contact Mary Pawle organic wines info@marypawlewines.com .

Chateau Minière
One of the best wine tastings I ever had was outdoors at Chateau Minière in the Bourgueil area of the Loire Valley. 

Their broad range of vine ages and of soils allows the production of delicate fruity wines to be enjoyed young, as well as more full-bodied wines with great ageing potential with tannins that become silky over time. The “Vignes Centenaires de Minière” is a unique wine, produced from their oldest vines. I bought a fair bit of that during my visit but well gone now!

The good news is that you stay here nowadays - details here.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Win tickets for O'Brien's Wine Fair on Nov 15

And the winner is: @ger_connor Congratulations!!

Yay! We've 2 tickets for O'Brien's Wine Fair on Nov 15 up for grabs.



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Flirty Nouveau’s on her way but here’s some Beaujolais that will stay around.


Flirty Nouveau’s on her way but here’s some Beaujolais that will stay.

I’ve known for a while now that the annual Nouveau affair is not meant to last very long. She’s certainly a palate pleaser, with "more of a floral bouquet" this year, and even those wine-merchants who talk her down during the year are all so eager to sing her praises while she’s on the premises. By all means enjoy the date. But, when the one-night stand is over, it will be time to take a look for a more long-lasting relationship with Beaujolais and I've got a few mature suggestions from my little black book!

Chateau du Chatelard Brouilly, Karwig €19.25
Karwig Wines have relied on Chateau du Chatelard for years now and I’ve always liked their Brouilly (19.25). There are ten Crus in Beaujolais and Brouilly is the largest. This bottle has concentrated aromas and flavours. It may throw a little sediment so no harm in decanting it. Enjoy and look forward to a longer acquaintance!
Jamie Goode gave a
Beaujolais masterclass in
Cork earlier this year.

Juliénas, Domaine de la Conseillère, €20.95, O’Brien’s
This is pretty much faultless: expressive fruity aromas, well rounded, ripe fruit, long finish.

Chateau des Jacques Moulin À Vent 2012, €28.00 Mitchell & Son
A challenging vintage from the best known cru. Vineyard owned by Louis Jadot since 1996. This is a Burgundian style, oak included, the colour is towards Pinot Noir. At a Louis Jadot tasting with Findlaters earlier in the year, I found it very approachable, fruit driven with a refreshing acidity. In Moulin à Vent, the Gamay grape thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel!

Domaine Jean Foillard Cote du Py, Morgon 2013, €34.20 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This, from the second largest of the crus, is a standout wine.

Colour is a light ruby. Look closer and you’ll see a little cloudiness - no worries, this is a natural wine. Aromas hint of red cherry, berries too. The palate is out on its own, red fruits and a little spice, that typical balancing acidity again, tannins are fine and then a superb finalé.

The fact that the vines are grown on “one of the best sites of the entire Beaujolais region”, on an extinct volcano, plus the use of minimum intervention (the use of oak is minimal), makes this a rather unique expression of the Gamay. You could well settle down with this single vineyard Beaujolais gem.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines

In Fleurie, Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.

This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage.

Beaujolais rocks



Villa Ponciago Les Pierres Bleues Morgon 2016, Searson's 21.95

The fruit is grown on a mix of blue schist and ancient igneous type rocks. Complex aromas, excellent fruit, some grip, acidity too and a superb finish. Very very impressive. In 2016 and 2017, the quantity of wine produced in Beaujolais was down because of hail but the quality was up.





Saint Amour, Maison Jean Loron, Domaine Des Billards, Classic Drinks.

If your love is on the serious side rather than flirty, then this Saint Amour is the Beaujolais for you and him/her. Colour is a youthful ruby with aromas of small red fruits combined with a spicy note of chocolate is unveiled quickly. In the mouth, the attack is round and supple, then a pleasant and persistent. A beauty from the most northerly Cru. The 2017 edition earned 16.50 from 20 from Jancis Robinson.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under. Plus Wine News in Brief!

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under
New to SuperValu Range


“We’re living in an age when great big gobfuls of super-ripe juicy red fruit win a lot of plaudits in the wine world. Well, step forward Zin.” 

The quote is from Grapes and Wines as they introduce their account of the Zinfandel grape. No doubt that Zin is a “big robust” grape and revels in hot climates such as California and South Australia and south-east Italy (where it is known as Primitivo). These two are pretty well balanced, very approachable, and will go well with steak, burger, BBQ.

Nugan Estates started as a broad-based agricultural company over six decades ago but are quite a young wine company, only going into grape growing in 2001. They are now a "veritable giant" according to James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia who also says that unlike some, Nugan "has built its business on quality rather than low prices."

Nowadays, with Matthew Nugan in command, they have a very successful export business and are the 13th largest exporter of branded Australian wine. To mark the launch of the two wines into the SuperValu portfolio earlier in the year, the company confirmed they  are “building on new found determination to further develop and improve the Nugan Estate brand and its legacy”. We look forward to that.



Nugan Langhorne Creek Single Vineyard Zinfandel (South Australia) 2015, 15%, €13 (Was €15.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Eighteen months in oak (new and seasoned French and American) has helped concentration and depth here and rich aromas are also promised.

Colour is dark ruby and, true enough there are intense aromas of jammy fruit. On the palate, it is fruity and juicy, pepper and spice, but this big bold wine is balanced, persistent fine tannins and well integrated oak and the high alcohol all playing a role. A hint of caramel and vanilla add a sweetish note in a good finish. This single vineyard Zinfandel, exclusive to SuperValu, is a great mate for BBQ and burger.


Nugan La Brutta Zinfandel Petite Sirah 2016, 15%, €12 (Was €14.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Just spotted on an electronic advert “Unleash the beast” on the side of a pitch holding a Premier League game as I was  unleashing this Australian beast, simply by twisting the screwcap. 

Nugan do seem intent on letting us know that Zin is big and bold, especially here where it’s blended with Petite Sirah. This Sirah is not related to Syrah or Shiraz at all; it is the same grape as Durif and grown mostly in California and in other very warm areas such as Australia. The fruits for this one are grown in Langhorne Creek (South Australia) and the Riverina (New South Wales).

Colour is a deep purple. There are seriously intense aromas, mainly plum. Bold fruit flavours rush across the palate, full-bodied, robust and spicy, with smooth velvety tannins that persist through to a good finish. Like ‘em big? This one’s for you.

Some rather humourous bottle notes tell us that La Brutta is Italian for beast, going on to say this beast takes no prisoners and “make no Mis’steak this is a wine to enjoy with MEAT! A wine that cuts the mustard."

The advert on the football pitch also refers to a drink, the Monster Energy Drink. By coincidence, there is a red bull on the front label of the wine but no sign of wings! 

Wine News in Brief

News from Gary Gubbins at Red Nose Wines about his new Rhone Supplier

“Did you know that the southernmost tip of the Rhone Valley is  actually in Costières de Nîmes ( which lies at the crossroads of the Rhone, Provence and the Languedoc ). We are delighted to finally do business with Chateau de Valcombe – they have 6 wines including 2 organic wines. The vineyard is in fact fully organic but only a small section is currently certified. The rest is in conversion and all will be certified soon.

The certified organic wines have a very particular name. No Sex for Butterfly and its all about a vineyard management technique involving pheromones - click on the wines to understand more. The red is 100% Syrah and the white a blend of Rousanne, White Grenache and Viognier. 


Cliff Townhouse
Spend a leisurely, pleasurable and informative Sunday afternoon (Oct 21st) in Cliff Townhouse with Wines from Spain and Susan Boyle, exploring some of the delicious wines of DO Navarra.
Susan will introduce a selection of wines from Navarra, the unique wine region in northern Spain, close to the Pyrenees, where wine has been produced since Roman times. Stretching 100 kilometres from the valleys of Pamplona to the plains of the Ebro river, the diversity of the climate and landscape of the DO help to produce a variety of diverse and different styles of wine. More details here https://jeansmullen.com/WineDiary/Index/1393

Rhone Wine Week takes place from 3rd to 10th November in venues all over Ireland. So if you’re a fan of Rhone Valley wines, keep an eye out for promotions and events. You can check out the website for full details here: www.rhonewineweekireland.com

SPEED TASTING at L'Atitude

The Most Fun Way to Learn About Wine

Friday 16th November 7.00pm 
 
As the October date sold out very quickly, we have scheduled another Speed Tasting for November 16th.   
 
Open to anyone who likes wine, socializing, having fun and, above all, enjoys a challenge.

Here’s how it works: we teach you the basics of how to taste wine and then it’s over to you – you taste 6 wines over the course of the evening – but you’ll be on the move: a different table, a different wine, different co-tasters. And here’s the fun part…..you taste all the wines blind (i.e. we won’t tell you what each wine is) - it’s up to you to work with your co-tasters to try to guess based on the information provided at the start. There’s a prize for the person who correctly identifies all 6 wines. 

Price €30pp - includes Prosecco reception, introduction to wine tasting, taster of 6 wines & canapés.  

The O'Briens Wine Festival - Winter Edition returns and we cannot wait to welcome you and our winemakers back to Dublin and Cork! With over 300 wines to try and over 60 of the world's best winemakers in attendance, this is a wine lover's event not to be missed!

Clear your diary for Saturday 17th November - Sunday 18th November in Dublin at the The Printworks, Dublin Castle and Thursday 15th November in The Clayton Hotel, Lapps Quay, Cork.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Two Organic Beauties from Le Caveau. Plus Wine Briefs


Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky No. 9 White Blend (Dundee, Oregon, USA) NV, 12%, €24.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is worth trying; it is excellent, in the same way that Gentil from Alsace vineyards can be surprisingly delicious. Gentil are multi-grape blends and so is this non vintage white. The grapes used are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Sémillon, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. It is a non-oaked wine and was introduced in 1998 and this is the 19th edition. 

Evolution No. 9 is a play on the Beatles number Revolution No. 9. Sokol Blosser say the white was created out of the desire to make a fun wine, one that would accompany the modern predilection for "yoking different kinds of food together" and is “very much more than the sum of its very disparate parts”. Pair it with spicy Asian, Indian, Mexican and Caribbean foods. Or with a jambalaya.

Pioneers Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971 in the Dundee Hills. Their vineyards are farmed organically; local organic straw, organic cow and horse manure, grape pomace from the crush and organic rock phosphate contribute to the composting. The insect population is kept in check by a resident flock of bluebirds.


It has a pale straw colour but the juice looks really good and clean in the bottle and you’re thinking this is a good one, your opinion reinforced by the fairly intense mix of lush and tropical aromas. Again that same amalgam of fruit on the smooth palate, a touch of sweetness early on but there is excellent acidity in there too that ensures a satisfying crisp finalé. Very Highly Recommended. The Evolution Big Time Red, was first released in 2012, and is on my list!

Alfredo Maestro Viña Almate Castilla y León (VT) 2016, 14%, €14.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The Tempranillo grapes for this wine are grown in Peñafiel in Ribera del Duero but, according to Spanish Wine Lover, it has always been sold as VT Castilla y León. Le Caveau say the wine is raised for four months in neutral French oak; it is unfined, unfiltered and very low SO2.

Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are quite complex, ripe red fruits prominent. Red fruit flavours too on the generous palate, while a touch of spice heightens the pleasure of this easy drinking young wine. Highly Recommended. This is Alfredo’s flagship wine and Spanish Wine Lover rates it “as outstanding within its type and style”.

From the beginning, in 1998, Alfredo farmed organically, his mantra: “Wine made with only grapes, well-kept vineyards, and healthy land.” With more land and experience now at his disposal, Alfredo is one to watch as the story of his pure and elegant wines evolves.Look out for more well-made wines from the man "known as the 'magician of the Duero’, a prominent exponent of the natural wine movement in Spain.
Wine briefs
SuperValu's current wine sale continues until October 10th and is headlined by their mix and match offer of 6 bottles for €50.00. Plenty of choice so I had quick look and here's my half-dozen, three white and three red.

1  ABELLIO ALBARIÑO
ARESTI TRISQUEL SAUVIGNON BLANC
BURDIZZO VERMENTINO TOSCANA 
HOMMAGE DU RHONE VINSOBRES
CHATEAU HAUT BERTINERIE RED
CASA DE LA ERMITA CRIANZA

O'Brien's have dozens of wines of offer also for the month but what really caught my eye is their Organic Wine Masterclass on October 18th. Details below:

Introduced by expert Sommelier François Pages from Gérard Bertrand, guests will be led through a selection of Gérard Bertrand’s finest wines, including the exquisite single-vineyard, Clos d’Ora. Learn about the organic and biodynamic philosophies that are at the heart of each Gérard Bertrand wine and the meticulous attention to detail in the cellar.

The Masterclass will begin at 7.30pm and a light cheese board will be served to accompany the wines. 


Tickets: €25 - Available online HERE

There'll be a discount on the night for any orders placed on Gérard Bertrand wines.
Date: Thursday October 18th
Time: 7.30pm
Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 2.


A week earlier, SPIT – out of the Ordinary wines from artisan wineries represented by four independent wine companies, GrapeCircus, Nomad, VinosTito and WineMason - will be held on October 11th in The Chocolate Factory (Dublin). Details here.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sophie Bertin Sancerre is a Star at O'Brien's Annual Sale


Focus on the Whites in the O'Brien's Annual Sale
Reds may outnumber the whites by about two to one in the ongoing annual sale at O'Brien's but there are some excellent whites to consider. We tasted the first three over the past week while the two at the end were tasted a few months back. All good, but we do advise putting the Sophie Bertin Sancerre at #1 on your shopping list!

La Côte Blanche de Sophie Bertin Sancerre (AOP) 2016, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95).

Of the three whites tasted this past few days, this is the star. Not that you’d know it from the pale straw colour, much the same as the Waiheke. The magic starts with the aromas, a degree or two more intense, white fruit and floral notes, minerality and more, full of promise.

And that promise is handsomely delivered. The palate has extra intensity, more body, rounded and flavourful, perfect balance between fruit and acidity, plus quite a long and satisfying dry finish. Very Highly Recommended. An ideal pairing with seafood, salad, or simply by itself. The winery recommendations are Goat's cheese, Risotto, Salads, Shellfish, Smoked fish.

This top class Sancerre benefits from the Domaine’s “fantastic soils (chalk and clay, and flint)" and a policy of reducing yields to increase fruit flavours.  In the cellar, the wine is matured on its lees for several months.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (Austria) 2017, 12%, €14.95 (was 18.45).

This light straw coloured wine has aromas of white fruits, light pepper in the background. The purity of the fruit (peachy) is exceptional - the Grüner Veltliner, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil - no shortage of minerality  and you have a dry refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. Well priced too - especially now!

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois, Austria’s largest wine-producing city, has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes and salads.


Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc Waiheke Island (New Zealand) 2016, 12%, €16.95 (was 19.95).

Very light straw is the colour of this Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc. The island, known for its beaches and vineyards, is a short ferry ride to the east of Auckland on the North Island. Aromas tend to citrus as does the fairly intense palate of this fresh and crisp wine. Acidity is not shy at all and, with a hint of grapefruit, there’s a pleasing refreshing finish. Recommended. By the way, it is not entirely Sauvignon as there is five per cent Semillon in the blend.

Winery note: The 2016 Sauvignon blanc, with 5% Semillon, is a stylish vintage with typical herbaceous aromas, tight acidity and ample texture. Typical of Waiheke Sauvignon blanc, our 2016 Estate Savvy is perfect with a year or two of age allowing the wine to mellow and showcase the wines structure and longevity.

Two Others to Note

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €22.95 (was 24.95).
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. 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!

Terredora Greco di Tufo Loggia, 16.95 (was €18.95)
Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Greco di Tufo is the grape and you’ll find it difficult to get one better than this!

O’Brien’s themselves rave about this one: “Tasted by the wine team against two other major names in the region (Campania), this wine won hands down and was immediately listed for us. Simply amazing mineral driven, rich, complex white. Utterly irresistible!”

The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.” 


Monday, September 3, 2018

O’Brien’s Cut Deep. Over 100 Wines Now On Offer


O’Brien’s Cut Deep. Over 100 Wines On Offer


The much anticipated annual sale at O’Brien’s Wine is on since last Saturday and, as you can see, from the examples below, the cuts are mega, 36% in the case of the d’Arenberg. Indeed some price cuts go as deep as 50%.

So, if you fancy a red or a white, something from the Old World or something from the New, something dry, something sweet, O’Brien’s is well worth checking out.

d'Arenberg d'Arrys Shiraz/Grenache McLaren Vale 2015, 14.5%, €13.95 (down from 21.95) 

This bottle, with the d’Arenberg stripe, has fragrant fruity aromas. Colour is mid to dark ruby and it is fruity, spicy and fresh on the rewarding palate. Rich but not overpowering with excellent acidity playing a key role. Tannins feature also in a well textured wine. Good finish too and Very Highly Recommended. “A real go-to wine if you are ever stuck for a great bottle at a sensible price.” And they are talking about the original price!

The barrel fermented component is aged on lees to keep the wine fresh while also reducing the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending. This young wine will benefit from decanting and may also be kept for a few years. 

Did you know they use foot treading here (two thirds of the way through fermentation)? And fermentation is then completed in a mixture of new and used French and old American oak barriques. 

I didn’t know about the foot treading. Nor did I know that all d’Arenberg estate and leased vineyards are NASAA Certified for organic and biodynamic processes. These practices also ensure that yields are kept low with concentrated flavours and excellent natural acidity. And the proof is in this bottle! 


Katnook 10-Acres Malbec Coonawarra 2017, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95)

This smooth full-bodied Malbec comes not from South America nor from Southern France but from South Australia. Dark ruby is the colour and there are scents of plum with hints of vanilla. Rich flavours of juicy cherry and plum, plus mocha, abound on the palate. Some spice there too. Tannins are ripe and there’s freshness enough. The wine has power enough to smoothly match your steak, or your kangaroo! Highly Recommended. 

Katnook Estate is long established in central Coonawarra in an area once known as Fat Land, red fertile lands now called Terra Rossa. in 1890, the land was sold off in 10 acre units and vendor John Riddoch kept the best blocks for himself at Katnook HQ.

Other Suggestions

I’ll be taking a closer look at some O’Brien whites soon but in the meantime here are a few other bottles worth looking out for.

Gérard Bertrand is a winemaker always seeking out. His Cigalus Red is renowned, a biodynamic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rich and full bodied this Languedoc gem is down from €38.95 to 29.95. His Domaine de Villemajou is another stalwart, another full-bodied beauty, this a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, and Syrah, and is available at €16.95, a saving of four euro.

From Portugal’s Duoro comes the gorgeous Tons de Duorum Red, a wine I enjoyed a few months back. No shortage of ripe fruit flavours on the elegant palate, refreshing with a little spice there too, fine tannins and a lovely soft finish. Another good value wine from the Duoro and even better value now that the price is down from €15.45 to 11.95.

Recently on the blog, I highlighted a couple of wines by Isla and Paul Gordon from Sarabande in Faugeres. One was the Misterioso and this is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. This is now reduced as is their top wine, the Bousigue.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Suntory Roku Gin. Six Japanese Botanicals.


Suntory Roku Gin, 43% abv, €45.00 at 34 O’Brien’s Off Licences and O’Brien’s online  

6
There’s a whiff of the evergreens when you nose this, floral and citrus notes also. Clean and fresh  on the palate too, the aromatics still pleasantly at play. Quite a backbone of savoury notes too as you realise that this well-balanced gin is a good one, one that lives up to its premium tag.

With tonic (Fever tree regular), the nose remains clean and fresh. Give the mix a bit of time and more of the flavours and aromas of this nuanced gin emerge before a dry lingering dry finish, a touch of tannin at the finalé.

Roku means six in Japanese and six, including the Kanji symbol, is all over the hexagonal bottle. Indeed, there are six Japanese botanicals inside: Sakura (cherry) flower, Sakura leaf, Yuzu peel, Sencha tea (green tea), Gyokuro tea (refined green tea) and Sanshō pepper. And each, delicately embossed, has a side of the bottle to itself.

“Each has been harvested at the peak of its season to extract the best flavour, and distilled to fully embody the blessings of nature.” Four distinct types of pot stills are used in a process unique to the "Liquor Atelier", the specialised craft distillery for Suntory spirits, whereby “the botanicals are distilled separately according to each feature of botanicals to extract the best flavour and maintain their individual characteristics. For instance, the delicate scent of cherry blossom is drawn out through vacuum distillation in stainless pot stills, whereas the deep flavour of yuzu is achieved by distillation in copper still pots”.

There is of course a big nod to the gin tradition so juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel are also in the mix.

I’m certain the mixologists will find many applications for this excellent gin. Roku themselves offer just one recipe. They believe that the warm, pungent flavour of ginger further highlights the unique quality of the Japanese botanicals and so they give us the the Roku Gin and Tonic, their Perfect Serve that “evokes the style of Japan”.


  1. Use six thinly sliced sticks of ginger
  2. Pour 5cl of ROKU into a measuring glass.
  3. Add the ginger sticks and ROKU to a long glass filled with ice and tonic water.
  4. Enjoy!
I've tried this GG&T a few times and it is indeed very enjoyable. I tried re-using the ginger sticks in the next glass as well and it seemed to heighten the partnership in this Perfect Serve. Or was that just the second glass effect?


Monday, August 13, 2018

A Very Likeable Rogue. And One Sweet Wine.


A Very Likeable Rogue in his Sunday best

Matsu “El Picaro” Tinta de Toro (DO) 2017, 14.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s


Le Rogue
This “series” of wine, Matsu de Domingo”, recalls the spirit of the old Spanish Sunday: rest, church in your Sunday best, special dishes and the best wine opened. Check the website here for more details on this and others in the series.

Tinta de Toro is, as you probably know, Tempranillo, and the Matsu vines in the Toro region are cultivated using organic techniques. Like the man on the label, this El Picaro has youth on its side,  even if the fruit comes from 90 year old vines. The other wines show progressively older faces - worth a look on their website.

And that youth is illustrated in the deep ruby colour. There are intense dark berry aromas. On the palate, fruit flavours are the prominent feature as this fresh wine makes his merry way to a very pleasant finish indeed. Very Highly Recommended. I told you this is a engaging rogue! Even if some frown when there is a giggle, with El Picaro at its source, in the back of the chapel.

“The freshly ironed new shirt, the shiny shoes and the special hat. The best stews and the best wine. Tomorrow they will go back to work, but today is a day to rest and celebrate.  Today is Sunday.”  Enjoy!

Sweetly Traditional

Gerard Bertrand Banyuls Traditionnel (AP) 2013, 16%, €23.95 (got it on sale 19.16) O’Brien’s


Grenache, mostly from ancient bushes and often harvested only when they have reached the dried wrinkly stage (like raisins), is the main grape in this naturally sweet wine (vin doux naturel or VDN for short).  The fruit is grown in Mediterranean cooled French vineyards around Banyuls-sur-Mer, close to the Spanish border. 

While the traditional vinification process is underway and when the alcohol reaches 8 or 9 per cent, fermentation is halted by light fortification with a spirit. That full-stop leaves some sugar in the wine.

Banyuls is often compared to Port but is a gorgeous dessert wine in its own right, tasting drier than it actually is - no cloying syrupy stuff here. 

In the Rhone area of Rasteau they make a similar red dessert wine that also goes well with blue cheese (among other things, including chocolate). The World Atlas of Wine says straight out that Banyuls is France’s finest VDN.

Our Gerard Bertrand has a garnet colour; the aromas are of small red and darker fruit. On the palate it is full and well-balanced, fresh, elegant, yet with power and persistence. Very Highly Recommended.

They recommend pairing it with desserts of fruit, with créme brulée, with foie gras and also as an aperitif. I tried it with a mature Cashel Blue and it was quite a treat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Taste of the Week A Sheridan’s Cheese and Jam Double


Taste of the Week
A Sheridan’s Double

Sheridan’s get the credit for our current Taste of the Week. It’s a double and features one product bought in their Galway store during a recent visit to the City of the Tribes and another product bought in Bradley’s of Cork but distributed by Sheridan’s.

The product from Bradley’s is a semi-circle of Cashel Blue made, as always, by the Grubb family in Tipperary, but selected, matured and distributed by Sheridan’s.

So there I was one lunchtime with that Cashel Blue at hand and wondering how I’d enhance it. And then I remembered being served Black Cherry jam with sheep’s cheese in the Basque Country. I had the very thing in the cupboard: a big pot of artisan made Confiture Cerise Noire (my purchase from Sheridan's).



A perfect pairing and a delicious Taste of the Week. Lots of that jam left, so it looks as if I’ll be heading to Bradley’s for more cheese. Indeed, I may well also keep an eye out for that new hard sheeps cheese by Velvet Cloud.

By the way, I also found another match for the cheese, a bottle of Gerard Bertrand’s Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (from O’Brien’s Wine). Not the whole bottle, mind you, a little sip will do! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill. And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.


Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill
And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.
Isla and Paul, when I
met them in Cork

The Syrah for the wines below is trellised across the top of a windy hill in the Languedoc that was planted with the aid of dynamite. The earth is completely made up of classic blue/grey schist with practically no topsoil. Therefore the rock had to be blown up so that the vines could find some dirt where they could anchor.

Despite these kind of local obstacles, there are more vines growing in the Languedoc than in Australia. Paul Gordon should know. He is Australian and he and his Carlow wife Isla work (and I mean work) the Sarabande vineyard, about twenty minutes drive from Beziers. The rugby-loving couple’s vineyard is called Domaine la Sarabande. 

They met in New Zealand in 2003 and then spent five or six years in wine in Marlborough. In 2009, they settled in France and raised some €40,000 from relations and friends in return for wine in the future. Isla: “There is just the two of us. We are very small; everything is gently worked and done by hand..” 

With so many vineyards in the area, there is much competition locally and so the pair export most of their wine, mainly to English speaking countries. And indeed, those same countries (Ireland, US, Australia and New Zealand) are all happy with the Sarabande screw caps but not so the French. 

Today, working with some unique terroirs and old vineyards treated organically and by hand, the Gordons, according to their importers O’Brien’s, “produce some stunningly good old world wines but with a modern Oz twang”.

Sarabande “Les Rabasses” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, €21.45 (got it for 17.16 in sale) O’Brien’s

The aromas of the Faugeres are dominated by black cherries and plums as is this blend. The Syrah, on its exploded base, is trellised across the top of the windy hill. Unlike the Syrah (the dominant grape - about 50% - in this GSM blend), the Grenache and Mourvedre are grown as bush vines. They sit on a south facing slope which is well drained. This is particularly important for the notoriously late ripening Mourvedre variety.

And so it is from this hilltop vineyard that this Les Rabasses comes with its hard-won flavours. Keep it, they say, or drink it now with “equally flavoursome food”. Suggested are: Cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Hard mature cheese, Roast lamb/beef, Slow cooked shoulder of lamb.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are strong aromas of dark fruit, spicy. Fruit forward and deep, power and finesse in equal measure, that spice too, excellent acidity as well; the finish is pure, long and also balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Sarabande “Misterioso” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, 16.95 (13.56 in sale) O’Brien’s 

Sarabande tell us that “bright cherry flavours are the backbone of this cheeky little number…that will invite itself.” Indeed, it is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. Highly Recommended.

The blend this time is mostly Grenache and Syrah with “a small amount of Mourvedre.” Only the best quality fruit survives the sorting stage.