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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Classy Double in O'Brien's Summer Promotion


Classy Double in O'Brien's Summer Promotion
Must say I'm very happy with my picks from the O'Brien's summer promotion that runs right through to the end of August. This latest double highlights the quality available, especially the Amancaya (made even more attractive by the generous deduction). Check out my four earlier picks here.

Nicolas Catena and Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), vignerons since the 19th century, have combined their deep knowledge of Mendoza’s terroir and the art of winemaking to create Amancaya. This rich full-bodied red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of Argentinian Malbec. The Amancaya has been aged 12 months in French oak barrels (75% new oak).

The Catena family of Mendoza is correctly credited with helping to revive the industry there, according to Wines of South America. While attending university in Berkeley in the late 70s, Nicolás, Decanter’s Man of the year in 2009, learned much from Robert Mondavi. Bodegas Caro (1999) is a partnership with Domaines Barons de Rothschild and the operation focuses on classic red Bordeaux blends. Main label is Caro while Amancaya and Aruma are also highly regarded.

Colour is dark ruby, legs are slow to clear. Nose of rich dark fruits.Fruity, elegant, spicy, and persistent, one of good ones, more or less what you’d expect from the distinguished  families involved in its production. Ripe and rich with fine juicy tannins and that long finish, this is Very Highly Recommended.

The vineyard tell us that Amancaya is the native Indian word for a flower found high in the Andes mountains and is a fitting name for this floral and elegant wine. The traditional Malbec grape is masterfully blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and then aged 12 months in old oak barrels to give a European elegance. With expressive notes of red fruit, coffee and black pepper this is a complex and beautifully-balanced wine.



Colour is a bit more golden than your usual Chardonnay. Aromas of citrus and heady hints of blossom. The richness of this Highly Recommended wine continues to the palate and finish, yet this succulent drop, with its hint of muscat, is harmonious. Nothing jars from initial attack to fine minerally finalé. Importers O’Brien’s tell us it is a classic example of Saint-Véran with “an extra degree of richness and ripeness”.

Château-Fuissé is the benchmark estate of Pouilly-Fuissé. Currently managed by 5th generation winemaker Antoine Vincent, it combines traditional winemaking with carefully applied modern technology. The Saint-Veran vineyards of the Château-Fuissé are located in the north of the appellation and nearly touch the Pouilly-Fuissé zone. It is one of the few villages in Burgundy's Mâcon region that has the right to its own appellation. 

Pair with meaty fish, Pork Belly, Roast Chicken.

Check out my four earlier picks here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

What To Drink When You’re Not Drinking.


What To Drink When You’re Not Drinking.
Taste Better Than Previous Efforts. Look Better Too!
NA Cocktail at Hotel Europe

While settling up after a recent lunch at Kingdom 1795 in Killorglin, we began talking to Suzi about non alcoholic drinks. She and chef Damien, who have put so much into this lovely new restaurant, carry a selection including Stonewell NA Cider, Seedlip and Heineken Zero.

Bradley's include
a NA Cava
I first came across Seedlip a couple of weeks back at lunch in the Whale’s Tale Bistro in Clonakilty. This was the Garden version, the company do two others: Spice 94 and Grove 42. 

So where did the name come from? Seedlip: Over three hundred years ago, it was common for physicians to distil herbal remedies using copper stills, harnessing the power of nature & alchemy to solve medical maladies. In 1651, one such physician, John French, published The Art of Distillation documenting these non-alcoholic recipes. At that same time, a family in Lincolnshire had started farming, hand sowing seeds using baskets called ‘seedlips’.

Seedlip in Clon
Today, you can find Seedlip in quite a few places and it does indeed give you a choice. The Whale’s Tail version was a substitute for gin and served in the big fashionable gin glass. I tasted it like that and it did seem a bit “vegetable” - there were a few slices of cucumber in there too. But once the Fever-Tree Elderflower was added, the magic happened and the combination was just excellent, very acceptable indeed.

In Kingdom 1795, I tasted the Spice version neat, very aromatic and you could easily see how it would be the basis for an excellent drink. Again, Suzi suggested the Fever-Tree as an ideal companion. No wonder the Seedlip company reckon they have the solution to the question “what to drink when you’re not drinking” #wtdwynd
Killorglin's Kingdom, well worth a visit

There is a Seedlip rival on the market also, marketed as a non-alcoholic gin and called Ceders. I was talking to Michael Creedon of Bradley’s (North Main Street, Cork), about things non-alcoholic and he says there is a a definite trend in that direction. He has non-alcoholic wines in stock and also the Ceders.


When we departed Kingdom 1795, we went for a superb walk in the sun on the stunning Bray Head (Valentia Island). On the way back, we called to the Glenbeigh Hotel, again looking for a non alcoholic drink. And right in front of us, on the counter of the old bar, there was a card full of suggestions (Coca Cola suggestions, I think). The driver tried one, the South African “Appletiser”, a sparkling fruit drink with carbonated water, and it went down well. We also saw the non alcoholic Cronin’s Cider (bottled in Wexford) but too late!

NA Cocktail at Cask
based on Ceders spirit
We went upmarket later on that night. In the bar of the Europe Hotel - probably the best hotel bar in the country - we checked out the offerings. They have a terrific cocktail list - I can recommend the Brandy Alexander and the Negroni - that includes a choice of non alcoholic offerings including a long and delicious apple based one with ginger and lemongrass (the name escapes me). And we were also offering a zero alcohol wine.

They also carry the Erdinger NA beer, quite a good one too. I also find the Paulaner a handy substitute from time to time. And yes they support local here with normal strength beer on draught from Killarney Brewery and bottles of the NA Cider by Kerry based Cronins.

We also tasted that cider at lunch in Dingle’s Boatyard the following day. It is refreshing, somewhat drier than their regular 4.5% offering, and not bad at all. It does come for some reason in the smaller 330 bottle.
A selection of O'Brien's zero alcohol wines

Back in town, after the Kerry break, we called to O’Brien’s in Douglas. They carry the Seedlip drinks and indeed say the non-alcoholic drinks in general are flying, so much that they have to work hard to keep on. They have quite a few non-alcoholic wines including some from Torres and three that they bring in themselves.
At The Kingsley

Just the other night, we were going through the drinks list in the Springboard Restaurant in the Kingsley Hotel and spotted a trio of non-alcoholic cocktails (not too many places are using “mocktail” these days). They have the Shirley Temple and the Fishers and the Nojito, the latter an amalgam of mint, fresh lime juice, sugar and soda water. 

So there you are. Just a sample of the many alcoholic options out there now. Now you know #wtdwynd. Enjoy.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Four of the Best from O’Brien’s Summer Promotion


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, 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 BrazilArgentina and Switzerland.







Thursday, July 11, 2019

Impressive New Lunch Menu at New Yorker in Cork International Hotel


New Menu at New Yorker in Cork International Hotel
Flatbread plus!

No shortage of choice in the new lunch menu at the New Yorker, the cool and comfortable bar at the Cork International Hotel. And there’s a good choice too for the vegetarian. And it’s not just choice - quality is excellent also as we found out during a mid-week visit to check out the new menu, available from 12 noon until 5.00pm.

Of course, this is also a bar, so you’ll also have a great choice of drinks and many are detailed on the back of the menu. If you’re on fish or vegetarian, you might fancy the Contrapunto Albariño. Dona Paula is a quality Argentinian producer and their Malbec would be a good red choice. But most grape varieties are covered here and you’ll find something to suit. Prosecco and Champagne are also available. 

Lots of cocktails too. Fancy a Rebel Cooler (Jameson, Lemon Juice, Bitters, Simple Syrup, Soda Water)? There’s no shortage of Irish whiskies, gins galore (including quite a few Irish ones). And of course, there are beers, draught and bottle. Craft producers also figure on the list, Stonewell for cider, Eight Degrees for beer.
Chicken, moist and delicious

It takes a while to read it through the large menu (it is available online, so you can prepare!). I was looking at the International Seafood Open Sandwich with Kinsale gin cured salmon, smoked salmon, crab & shrimp salad, house brown bread. Also at the Tagliatelle Bolognese  (an Irish lamb Bolognese, fresh egg pasta tagliatelle, rocket and parmesan). 

Finally, I picked the Stone Baked Italian Flatbread - Parma Ham, Toonsbridge Burrata Cheese and Cherry Tomato, Olive Oil, Shoestring fries. Quite substantial but also quite a delicious and satisfying dish, full of flavour on an excellent base.

The Crispy Daily Fresh Fish Soft Taco with Hot sauce, pineapple salsa, soft shell taco, sweet potato fries made CL's short list as did the Crispy Vegetable Taco (Hot sauce, tomato salsa, soft shell taco, French Fries ) from the Vegetarian menu.

In the end, her choice was the Chargrilled Lemongrass and Ginger Sweet Chicken Tortilla Wrap with Buffalo Sauce, Crème Fraiche, Tomato, Watercress, French Fries.  She enjoyed that one, the chicken was superb and well cooked and, all in all, it was a terrific combination. 
Cheese

Also on the main menu, you’ll find  curries and sandwiches, including the West Cork  Sandwich (Gubbeen Chorizo, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, Oven Roast Tomato, Sourdough, Herb Pesto) and, from the Vegetarian, you may fancy Sameera's Columbo Yellow Curry or the International Veggie Burger (Tomato, Gherkin, Rocket, Brioche Bun, Coleslaw, Sweet Potato Fries).


Probably a bit easier to make up your mind when it comes to desserts. I was inclined to go for the Strawberry and Death by Chocolate Fool or the Sweet Pancake with ice cream. But it was the excellent Cork (captained by Gubbeen) v Tipperary cheese (skippered by Cashel) that got the nod. Fruit and crackers came along too, as well as an outstanding spicy apple compôte. Who won? With our host, the Tipperary hotel manager, in the wings, we needed to be diplomatic and called it a draw!

Overall though a visit here to the New Yorker, where manager Justin and his crew will take good care of you, is a win win.

Our lunch was part of a media visit and the New Yorker is open for 12:00 – 14:00 Artisan Deli (Mon – Fri); 12:00 – 17:00 Lunch Menu (Daily); 17.00 – 22:00 Full Dinner Menu (Daily). All the menus and more details here

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Whites Shine in O'Brien's Summer Promotion


Whites Shine in O'Brien's Summer Promotion

There's a whole world of white wine out there aside from the big names such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio. The O'Brien's Summer Promotion, now in full swing (until July 21st), gives you the chance to try something new. I took advantage myself as I sampled a few, including a gorgeous Verdejo from Spain, a fresh and fruity Verdicchio from Italy, a Grüner Veltliner (a long-time favourite of mine) from Austria, and a top notch Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Terrific wines and now at very attractive prices. While I did concentrate on the whites, the reds too are excellent and that Sicilian Appassimento will go down well at most tables.

De Alberto Organic Verdejo Rueda (DO) 13.5%, on offer 12.95 (was 14.95). New at O’Brien’s


The more I drink Spanish whites, like this Verdejo (new to O'Brien's), the more I begin to appreciate them. This organic wine, by De Alberto, is refreshing and quite intense (with citrus to the fore) and is Very Highly Recommended.

Colour is a light straw, clean and bright, with a green tint. Ripe white fruit, herby notes too in the aromas. Superb fruit flavours make their presence felt instantly, a lively citrus-y acidity too, lips a tingle and a persistent and very pleasing finish. Enjoy with poultry, fish and seafood

The 2018 vintage enjoyed good weather conditions, no extremes at all, and this meant the grape stayed healthy and reached an optimum state of maturity.

Verdejo, which may not be familiar to us as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, is an aromatic grape variety behind the crisp white wines of Rueda, its undisputed home in central Spain. Wine-Searcher says that full-bodied Verdejo wines are held in high regard, displaying herbaceous, nutty characters with balanced acidity and some cellaring potential.

Marotti “Albiano” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (DOC) Classico 2018, 13%, €11.95 on offer, was 14.95. O’Brien’s

I’m a big fan of Verdicchio, whether it is from Castelli di Jesi or from Matelica (a bit further inland). Both are in the Marche in the central eastern part of Italy. And this typically refreshingly crisp Albiano is as good an example as you are likely to come across.

It comes in a light straw colour, greenish tinges, lots of micro-bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass. There’s a pleasant aromatic mix of floral and white fruit, moderate rather than intense. Bright and lively palate, citrus led flavours with a barely noticeable herbaceousness, and that typical zesty acidity. 

Unoaked, there is nothing overly complex here, dry, fresh, fruity. Good finish too and this well-made wine is Very Highly Recommended, a good one to start your relationship with this grape if you haven’t already done so!

I enjoyed this as an aperitif but I’ve read that it goes well with Brodetto di Pesce, a rich seafood stew made locally in the Marche. You may not be able to get that here and other recommendations include seared scallops, Linguini with clams, other shellfish, with pasta and rice dishes, and salads, even pecorino cheese. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (DAC) 2018, 11.5%, €14.95 (was 18.95). O’Brien’s

From peachy attack to citrus finish, this Grüner Veltliner goes the delicious distance. The Grüner Veltliner grape, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil.

Colour is light gold. There is a fresh bouquet of white and yellow fruit, a touch of white pepper. Peach and citrus mingle well in the tingly palate. Mineral notes too plus excellent acidity. All followed by a lip-smacking dry finish. Fresh, crisp and zesty, a refreshing experience and Highly Recommended.

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois 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, fresh shellfish and salads.





This is new to O’Brien’s and worth keeping an eye out for. The fruits are hand-harvested with careful selection, barrel and tank fermented and the wine is further barrel matured for a rounded complexity. Ideal, according to the label, with seafood and shellfish, also with mildly spiced curries and lovely with saffron.



This ia regular award winner over recent years and comes in light gold colour. White fruit and honey notes in moderately intense aromas. A good depth of flavour follows: apricot, melon, plus touch of vanilla. No shortage of acidity either. Quite a mouthfeel too - it has spent some 9 months on lees. It is harmonious all the way through to a very satisfying finalé. Another ace Chenin Blanc from Forrester and this rich and ripe wine is Very Highly Recommended.


Fonte do Ouro Branco DÃO (DOC) 2018, 13%, on offer 13.95, was 16.95. O’Brien’s




Portuguese wines can often be a hard sell because of the unfamiliar names of the grapes but don’t let that put you off. You could be missing out on some real gems such as this white blend of Arinto and Encruzado, ideal with starters, seafood and fish when served at 10 degrees. Like the way Boas Quintas (the producers) sum it up on the label: green colour, apple, pear, and tropical fruit aromas, good structure, fresh and mineral.


Pretty accurate too, I’d have to say. Colour is a light straw with a pronounced green influence. You’ll find peach, apple, pear and more exotic notes too in the aromas. A very pleasant melange of flavours on the palate, mouthfeel also impressive, fresh too with minerality, and acidity enough to balance. Finish is persistent. Highly Recommended.

Fonte do Ouro Tinto DÃO (DOC) 2017, 13%, on offer 13.95, was 16.95. O’Brien’s
And here's another good one from the same stable, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Jaen. This fresh and smooth wine has spent six months in oak and should be served at 16 to 18 degrees and will go well with red meats.

It has a dark ruby colour. Fairly rich aromas of blackcurrant and cherry. I see lots of references to Earl Grey Tea but must admit I didn't pick it up in the nose. There’s a great mix of those fruit flavours on the palate, fresh, with a touch of spice, smooth tannins and a very satisfying finish. Highly Recommended.

All three grapes are popular in the region. The Alfrocheiro adds depth of colour, Touriga Nacional is considered to be the country’s finest, while Jaen is the local name for the what the Spanish call Mencía.



Colpasso Nero D’Avola Appassimento Sicily (DOC) 2018, 14%, on offer at €12.95 (was 15.95). New to O’Brien’s.

Appassimento? You may well ask. If you ask Wine Spectator, they’ll tell you it is the Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for a few weeks up to several months, to concentrate the sugars and flavors. 

Appassimento is most associated with northern Italy but there are many examples in the south and this Colpasso is one. Here they make a careful selection of the very best Nero D’Avola grape in the Sicilian area of Agrigento and Vittoria. Some of the grapes are partially dried prior to vinification “giving the wine an incredible intense flavour”. You’ll note that intensity at your very first sip.

Colour is a dark ruby. Those rich red fruit are noticeable in the aromas, immediately. And the flavours are indeed rich and intense, the main feature of the velvety palate, some spice there too, and a hint of sweetness. A good example of appassimento, easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

Check out my post on a few of the O'Brien rosés here




Monday, June 10, 2019

Three Rosés for Summer 2019 at O'Brien's. Dive in as prices tumble!


Three Rosés for Summer 2019 at O'Brien's
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.




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.

Summary:
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.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Riesling to remember and a Chardonnay with a difference



Let the drums and trumpets sound for this outstanding German Riesling. The label does it well: A Riesling dry in style and well balanced like its Rheingau predecessors from the glorious age of Riesling a century ago: a contemporary classic and a perfect partner for many foods.

Don’t know anything about the Rieslings of a century ago but this light gold coloured wine is a gem for sure. Intense aromas of apple and pear indicate a good year in the Rheingau, a year for the grape to flourish. And that’s soon confirmed on the palate with its crisp acidity and yellow stone fruit (peach, apricot), a striking minerality too maintained to the persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended. No wonder Wilhelm Weil considers it as one of the best he has produced in 30 years (reported by none other than an enthusiastic Robert Palmer). 

You can hardly talk of Riesling without mentioning acidity and minerality. In his book Reading Between the Wines, Terry Theise says "Acidity is innate to the berry". "Minerality, " he continues, "is inherent to Riesling, because the variety is, in its essence, more mineral than fruit. The Riesling genre is one of a mineral-tasting wine into which are woven various strands of fruit, depending on site and vintage."

Fruity, tangy, yet charming and harmonious, you’ll find it this Weil typically versatile at the table. A couple of suggestions, one “a merry table companion to a wide range of cuisines” and another, this via Google Translate, “goes brilliantly with fried fish, poultry and Asian dishes. But even without banqueting - he can sip excellent …"


The Mornington Peninsula, just over an hour south of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, is perfectly suited to growing Chardonnay and “a foremost region” too for Pinot Gris”. Chardonnay here though, according to Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, “is markedly different from any other Chardonnay produced in Australia”.

Stonier was established here in 1978 and are noted for their Burgundian style cool climate wines. The vineyards overlooks the ocean. Chardonnay is a signature wine for Stonier and this is a gem.

It has a yellow colour, with green tints. The aromas are gentle, of exotic fruits. Even the background flavours are delicate with melon and citrus to the fore. There is excellent texture, a pleasant creaminess, and complementary acidity. And it boasts a long and distinctive finish too. Delicious and satisfying, this is well made, harmonious and Highly Recommended.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Enjoyable Lifeboat Inn Wine Dinner. Fabulous Food. Superb Wines. Best of Company!


Enjoyable Lifeboat Inn Wine Dinner
Fabulous Food. Superb Wines. Best of Company.
Monkfish and Ripasso de Valpolicella 

I think many of the customers at last week’s superb Rizzardi wine dinner in Courtmacsherry’s Lifeboat Inn had Amarone on their minds. And when the 3CRU 2013 came, it didn’t disappoint. It was introduced, like all the previous wines, by Giuseppe Rizzardi and he gave us a few tips.

“Don’t decant,” he said. “By all means, open it a few hours in advance but don’t decant! Also, don’t serve it too warm. It is our most prestigious wine. Amarone is not a grape, not a region, it is a method, a process. The grapes are picked and then put into boxes that hold 4 to 5 kgs. Some 15,000 to 18,000 boxes are left to dry out in a large room in a method known as appassimento. It takes 2 to 3 months and you end up with less fruit but with more concentrated tannins, more colour, more sugar. It then spends two years in barrel.”

The Rizzardi version, a 2013, was excellent and fantastic match with the Beef Cheek and the pairing was heartily endorsed by the winemaker. But Giuseppe told us that not all Amarones are the same. “Too often is it very sweet and that sweetness covers the lack of other qualities.”

Giuseppi, enjoyed the craic
in Courtmac
Giuseppe is quite familiar with Ireland and did a few summer jobs here in the 1990s and of course he's a regular visitor now to O'Brien's Wine, his distributors here. On arrival the guests were treated to a glass of Rizzardi Prosecco, the famous sparkling wine made from the Glera grape. “This one is smooth and dry, with a little bit bit of character.” He told us they use it as a base for cocktails, “especially Bellini.”

The Italian enjoyed the food and was intrigued by the local Mozzarella in our starter. Pinot Grigio is quite a well-known Italian white and we started our meal with that. “It is not barrel aged, is quite light, made with fruit from the region of Soave. It’s ideal as an aperitif and will go well with soups.” And it went very well indeed with our delicious opener.

Indeed Giuseppe, like the rest of us, was every impressed with the starer, surprised to hear that the cheese was locally sourced “very interesting texture, very impressed”. He told us that a lot of Soave, our next wine, is made but much of it is just for everyday. Theirs comes from a beautiful fortified village in the Classico area and the Gargenega vines are grown on volcanic soil. “Again it is unoaked, a little bit of Chardonnay is blended in.” And he advised against serving this too cold. “You get more flavour as the temperature goes up.” It was paired with the scallops, local and absolutely superb.

So don’t serve the Amarone too warm, don’t serve the Soave too cool. What next? Well a red wine with fish! And the Roast Monkfish paired with the 2013 Ripasso de Valpolicella was a match made in a Courtmacsherry heaven. Again, Ripasso is a method with the grapes “refermented on the skins of the Amarone and then 12 months in big barrels”. “This is a red wine that can be poured cool, at about 14 degrees,” he advised. “Great freshness and acidity and it provides a link between simple Valpolicella and Amarone.” 

And it did indeed go very well with that splendid Monkfish dish. Front of house here is David O’Halloran and he had been giving us some extra details on the dishes. He told us it was a “purposeful decision” to pair the Ripasso and the Monkfish “to show that fish and red wine will go together”. Referring to the Amarone he said that here, in a reversal of the norm, they picked the food to go with the wine, not the other way round. Chef Martin Buckley got out later on and thanked Giuseppe, saying “it was special to have him here tonight”. 

And there was another surprise when it came to the dessert, an excellent chocolate offering as the wine was, believe it or not, a Merlot, the 2016 Clos Roareti. An unusual choice. And an unusual project, according to Giuseppe, that began in 1999 in a region near Verona where there was no Merlot. But they succeeded and produced their first bottles in 2006. “Now (we were drinking the 2016) the vines have matured, there is a good richness and concentration but not too much. It has spent 12 months in barrel and this 2016 is still a baby. Production is limited and the bottles are individually numbered.”

The Menu
Heritage Tomato, Macroom Mozzarella, Hazelnut, Balsamic Dressing
Pinot Grigio 2018

West Cork Scallops, Parsnip, Gubbeen Chorizo, Blood orange
Soave DOP Classico 2016

Roast Monkfish, Risotto Nero, Parma Ham, Confit Tomato
Valpolicella Ripasso 2013

Haulie’s Beef Cheek, potato, Wild Garlic, Grilled Sprouting Broccoli and Carrot
3CRU Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013

Guinness and Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Clos Roareti Rosso Veronese (IGT) 2016
The Lifeboat Inn
Courtmacsherry
Co. Cork.
For more on the Rizzardi wines, please check the O'Brien website

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest. Wines, Spirits and Beers Events


CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers Events

Silver Spear Gin Tasting at The Woodford. Date has been changed and is not on this Friday.



West Kerry Take Over Bierhaus Taps

It’s time to get shouting about @CorkAleTrail 1st monthly event next Saturday16/02  7.30pm  @BierhausCork with @westkerrybeer #taptakeover #meetthebtewer 5 Beers pouring! @GrandCruBeers @Cadastrophe @bradleys_offlic @HouseAbbot @FranWellBrewPub @the_friary_bar #CAT


Meet the Alternatives - Wine Tasting
by Woodberrys 3 Middle Street Mews
Middle Street
Galway
Thu, 21 February 2019
17:00 – 19:00 GMT
We have selected 12 wines we think every adventurous wine lover must try! These are wines that you will love but may have overlooked when buying a bottle of your favourite Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Malbec! Call in a try these wines your guaranteed to find one you like.
THIS IS A FREE INFORMAL TASTING.
PARTICIPANTS MUST BE OVER 18. ID MAYBE REQUIRED
Book here


New consumer website for Australian wine. Packed with info.
The new consumer website will engage consumers with rich content that is educational and user-friendly. It highlights Australia’s 65 premium wine regions with winemaker profiles, stories, regional events and insights into some of Australia’s most popular wine varieties.
Content will be updated regularly and a simplified Chinese version will be published shortly.
Visit www.australianwine.com to explore this new resource for global consumers.

Wine Academy Weekend at Sheen Falls


Gallery Westport A Special Event!


The Cork Wine School Spring Dates


Valentine’s Night at The Rising Sons

Our beer & food pairings have always been popular with you rising sons and daughters and for this reason we're showing some love this Valentine's Day. Introducing our Beer and Dessert pairing - a guided tasting of our award-winning beer and a selection of sweet delights made in-house, paired perfectly for your Valentine night. All for the sweet price of €10.
Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7 PM – 10 PM

Spanish Wine Week 
ICEX Spain Exports and Investments and the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain in Dublin organize the IV edition of the SPANISH WINE WEEK (SWW), the biggest Spanish wine promotion event that takes place in Ireland between the 8th and the 14th of April. The main objective of the actions organized in the framework of that week and simultaneously in various cities in Ireland, is to give the greatest possible visibility to Spanish wines and their different regions, in addition to showing their diversity and high quality.

The different activities organized include tastings, dinner paired, discounts on the purchase of wine and promotions in stores and media, as well as raffles in the press and social networks. This aims to give the public the opportunity to taste a wide variety of wines through different experiences, while encouraging the consumption and purchase of Spanish wine throughout the week, precisely because of the offers and discounts offered by the stores , bars and restaurants.

The Cork Beer Mile with CAT
https://www.facebook.com/events/2177699485814114/ 
Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 6:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Get your walking shoes on and join us on a walk around Cork's must prestigious craft beer bars! 

This time we're in cahoots with two outstanding Irish breweries DOT Brew & Larkin's Brewing Company! More details to be announced soon! Who are the lads? 
​Dot :
Dot Brew is a gypsy micro brewery brand with roots strongly cultivated in Dublin 8. Specialising in uniquely designed barrel aged and blended beers for an evolving Irish and International palette. Dot adopts maturation and blending techniques from the Whiskey and Wine industries and applying them to break the boundaries of beer production. Dot has been rated one of the top 10 Irish brewers by Untappd users for 2018. (Placed 6th) 
Larkins :
Launched in 2018 after dipping their toes into the brewing market at the RDS Irish Craft Beer Festival the previous year, Larkins has already been rated one of the top 5 Irish brewers by Untappd users for 2018. (Placed 3rd) An independently family owned  brewery based in County Wicklow, Larkins set their focus on making lager style beers as good as they can be along with working on other styles of beers from IPA’s , Saisons to Pale Ales. 



Gin Tasting!!
Friday, March 1, 2019 at 7 PM – 9:15 PM

Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar & RestaurantOld Church of Ireland, Lower Bridge Street, Killorglin 6
see pic downloads..
On the night, we will present a selection of 6 superior gins, a selection of premium tonics and explore the different herbs and botanical's used in the distilling process of creating craft gins.  Info here https://www.facebook.com/events/236122720613873/ 

A welcome G&T will be served at 7.15 pm to allow the group to mingle before the tasting, the tastings itself will begin at 7:30 pm (sharp) in the upstairs Mezzanine.

You also have the option to have a meal if you so wish before or after the tastings.

We will be sampling lovely gins, its will be a unique night you won't want to miss

Tickets are €25 plus booking fees they are available through www.ticketstop.ie

There are only 24 spaces available so book early to avoid disappointment!