Showing posts with label Penedes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Penedes. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Two Highly Recommended Organic Whites From Penedès and Burgundy

Albet i Noya Lignum! Penedes (DO) 2020, 12%, 

€16.60-17.00 Wunderkaffee in Farran Village// Quay Co.Op// The Olive Branch, Clonakilty// Harringtons, Ardgroom// Taste . Castletownbere// Organico, Bantry// Sonas , Newcastle West// Morton of Galway/ The Connemara Hamper// The Vintry, Dublin// Ardkeen, Waterford// Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny. And many more.

Light straw is the colour of this  Catalonian blend. The moderate aromas, of moderate intensity, give up floral notes along with exotic fruits and a touch of oak. In the mouth it is surprisingly rich and complex, with notes of peach and citrus, and with a long lingering finish. Highly Recommended.

The blend is off Xarel-lo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and they come together very well indeed. The winery itself says: There are two sides to this wine. The Sauvignon gives it a perfumed, floral nose. Xarel·lo and Chardonnay together with a hint of oak (where the Chardonnay spends 2 months) give it a little body and complexity in the mouth with a long finish.

Xarel-lo, a high-yielding white grape, is best known as the main grape in the Cava blend. Mostly found in Cataluña where Albert i Noya is regarded as one of its best producers (according to Grapes and Wines).

This organic Catalonian wine is quite versatile at the table, particularly with food from the “whiter” side such as Vegetables, Salads, White fish, Rice dishes, and Seafood and, also, as aperitif. Serve at 18 degrees.

In 1903, during the phylloxera crisis, “our great great grandfather, Joan Albet i Rovirosa, arrived in the Penedès to work the the vineyards at the Can Vendrell de la Codina estate, in Sant Pau d’Ordal”. And this is where the company still operates.

In the late seventies “an opportunity knocked on our door and, restless as ever, we decided to embrace it. A Danish company was searching the Penedes for an organic wine grower. Nobody had ever heard of organic wines. But curiosity won us over and that's how we threw ourselves into this adventure.”

Josep Maria Albet i Noya decided to try one of the vineyards, despite doubts from friends and family. But it worked out well and encouraged him to extend the practice. Healthier vines and healthier wines are the result. The winery is well known for this white and also for its red equivalent also known as Lignum!

Ambroise Bourgogne Aligoté (AOC) 2020, 12.5% ABV 

€18.75 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Colour is mid-gold and it is clear as crystal. The aromatics are modest, citrus and floral. There’s a creamy texture. The fruit, fresh and tangy citrus, impresses, with a streak of minerality, all the way to an excellent finish. Not a Chardonnay but a very engaging white Burgundy and very well priced as well. Produced from vines located in the town of Premeaux Prissey, this cuvée aged in vats for 10 month.

Aligoté is Burgundy’s second white grape and doesn’t really get much of a vote of confidence in its few paragraphs in Grapes & Wines but Le Caveau, importers of this bottle, report that is making a comeback lately and that our bottle “is quite a delicious example of this variety”.

Back in 2017, in St Peter’s Church (not the one in Rome but the one in Cork’s North Main Street,), I was delighted to have the chance to chat to Bertrand Ambroise and taste his delicious Burgundy wines. Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family. I have been a fan of the wines for quite a while but this is my first Aligoté from them. It is a good one and Highly Recommended, especially with any creamy sauce, or shared in the garden with some cheeses and meats.

Maison Ambroise is a long established, small négociant house, who operates on 21 hectares of their own vineyards and purchase grapes from another three. They own vines in Prémeaux (where the grapes for this one grow), Nuits-St-Georges, Ladoix, Meursault, the hill of Corton, Vosne-Romanée (with some Grand Cru Echezeaux!), Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Beaune and as far as Saint-Romain. 

Bertrand Ambroise was relatively recently joined by his son Francois and daughter Ludivine, they received their organic certification (2013). Ludivine explained the move to organic viticulture is one of true belief as she lost her grand-father due to illness caused by chemicals used in the fields.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Loving the natural balance of these sparkling wines. Cava and Pét-Nat, from where the birds sing. #equilibrinatural

Loving the natural balance of these sparkling wines. Cava and Pét-Nat, from where the birds sing. #equilibrinatural


Entre Vinyes Funàmbul Brut Nature Reserva 2017,  11.5%, 

€23.50 approx. Manning’s, Ballylickey; Mary Pawle

Fresh and dry, this elegant Cava is one for your shortlist; elegant yes, but full of energy and flavour (apricot and apple) and with amazing balance, all with a mineral note lingering on to the end. The mousse is creamy and smooth. New to the Mary Pawle portfolio, this is pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.

Three varieties,  Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada varieties, are in the blend. The wine has been aged for 24 months. It has been produced by Maria Barrena ( she also makes the Pet-Nat below). She is one of the trio at Azul y Garanza in Navarra (whose wines we feature regularly). They each have a personal project as well and Maria found here in Catalunya, the lure of recuperating Pep’s old vineyards drawing her to the Baix Penedès.

With an average age of 60 years, these vineyards are in the natural environment of Foix, surrounded by oak and pine forest, under a dry climate and on a porous soil (which swallows the water) and limestone, very poor and shallow, with hardly any organic matter. The great biodiversity present creates a unique ecosystem that naturally regulates the balance of the vineyard. Here, working in an artisanal way, Maria has produced some terrific wines including this Cava. #equilibrinatural

Cava info (via

If Cava differs from most sparkling wines in something, it is in the production method. The years and technological advances have made it possible to improve processes, but what has remained unchanged is the essence of caring for the vineyard and quality viticulture in addition to the so-called traditional method, which provides Cava with its main characteristics and one of its secrets of his excellence.

Also called champenoise - due to its French origin - the traditional method is distinguished by carrying out the second fermentation in the bottle, unlike most sparkling wines in the world that use other methods


Entre Vinyes Oníric Pét-Nat 2020, 11.5%, 

RRP €16.60. Regular stockists include Ardkeen Foodstore, Waterford/ Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny/ The Vintry, Dublin/ Toon’s Bridge, Dublin & Cork/ The Connemara Hamper, Clifden/ Mortons of Galway/ URRU, Bandon/  Lettercollum Kitchen, Clonakilty/ Organico, Bantry/ Mannings, Ballylickey/ Bridge St, Kenmare/ Taste, Castletownbere; Cheese Press Ennistymon / Mary Pawle.

The Parc Natural Del Foix, mentioned in the Cava story above, is also the source of this pétillant and is also made by Maria Barrena. Not everyone is familiar with the term Pét-Nat. So what is this Pét-Nat wine they are all talking about? It is an abbreviation for pétillant naturel, the French term that roughly means naturally sparkling.

Is it then a copy of champagne? Not so. It is the other way around if anything, as Pét-Nat has been around longer. Pét-Nat is bottled while still undergoing its first round of fermentation. The French call this process “methode ancestral” and you may see that on some labels.

You may see “bottle fermented,” or the Italian “col fondo,” (more or less a  pét-nat Prosecco). The crown cap and a little bit of sediment are other clues!

The method is pretty widespread across the wine world. Most are fun and good with food, especially lighter dishes. Uncomplicated, authentic and quite diverse, Pét-Nat puts the sparkle on your dinner table or even picnic spread. It is bubbles without the hefty price tag.

Oníric in Catalan translates as dreamer and Entre Vinyes is a personal project of Maria Barrena (Azul y Garanza in Navarra), the aim being to rescue old forgotten vineyards and restore a balanced ecosystem. This 60-year vineyard, surrounded by a rich biodiversity, is in the Baix Penedes region (in Catalonia) close to the Med. The grapes for the pét-nat are Xarel-lo (mostly) and Muscat.

Colour is a cloudy yellow/lemon. On pouring, you create a large white “head” but it won’t hang about. This is easy drinking, approachable and refreshing, with good depth and length. And of course, it has that pleasant sparkly tingle. White fruit flavours and just enough acidity to balance, make it harmonious all the way to the lip-smacking finish. A wine for sun and fun. Highly Recommended.

Monday, July 2, 2018

White Wine Weather. Three of the very best!

Trimbach Riesling Alsace (AC) 2015, 13%, €15.96 (was 19.95) O’Brien’s

Trimbach (not Jean methinks!) sum up their wine story that began in 1626: “exceptional terroirs and fine wines”. And so they continue. This is “a great example of dry Riesling” according to Decanter, talking about the 2014 edition.

It is indeed a lovely wine with a light strawy colour. Apples and a touch of lime in the restrained aromas. Smooth on the palate with terrific white fruit flavours and the amazing dry finish goes on and on. Well made as you’d expect from this producer and Very Highly Recommended (even at the regular price - I got this in a sale).

Gitton Père & Fils Les Montachins Sancerre (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wines

Colour of this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is a light straw, tints of green. Fairly intense aromas, lime and apple, mineral notes too. Terrific rush of outstanding flavours, citrus now prominent, matched by an equal burst of the most refreshing acidity. And the finish lacks nothing at all, long and satisfying.  No need to say too much about this one, just Very Highly Recommended.

Speaking of the variety, says the key selling point of Sauvignon Blanc “is its straightforwardness” and that is certainly the case here. Its home land is the Loire and it is now found growing successfully in quite a few countries, notably in New Zealand.

Pair with oysters, crab, delicate white fish, green vegetables and salads, and cheese (goats in particular).

Albet i Noya El Fanio Xarel-lo 2016 Penedes (DO), 13%, now €17.00 Mary Pawles Wines.

Colour of this organic wine is light gold.
Citrus, gooseberry, floral notes too, in the nose.

Lovely creamy mouthfeel here - it had been on lees for six months; herb flavours to the fore, thyme and rosemary and other notes from the local scrub, fresh and lively acidity too make this a very friendly wine indeed, a distinctive one also and Very Highly Recommended. Great value as well.

El Fanio is the name of the vineyard and the grape variety is Xarel-lo, familiar to many of you as a key grape in Cava. The wine is aged in cement eggs (not very romantic!) and in acacia barrels.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Good Wine Mix. Your Thursday Tips.

A Good Wine Mix.
Your Thursday Tips
The grapes are dried by the Ammasso method,
explained on a peel-off back label.

Barone Montalto Ammasso 2013 Rosso Siciliane (IGT), 14.5%, SuperValu €18.99

This may well be Sicily’s answer to Amarone as the islanders have used the traditional Ammasso (known as Appassimento in the north of the mainland). The varieties blended in this gorgeous and complex wine are the locals Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese and the internationals Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A serious work of wine is the result and it is Very Highly Recommended.

Medium red is the colour and the aromas, of dark fruit, are pretty intense. There is a luscious concentrated fruit, hints of sweetness, spice too; overall, a rather plush wine, tannins just about in play, and the finish is long.

Albet i Noya, Petit Albet 2010, Penedes (DO), 12%, 12.49 O’Donovan’s

This organic wine from Catalunya is a blend of Chardonnay and the local grape Xarel-lo (60%). The Xarel-lo will be familiar to you as one of the grapes used traditionally in Cava. Albet i Noya started their move towards organic in the mid 70s. They also buy in grapes and these too are organic and, besides, the wine is certified vegan friendly.

Aromas are of white fruit, including melon. It is light and fresh and those scented fruits continue strongly on the palate. It boasts a bright acidity and a good dry finish. Enjoy it young, as the name implies. Highly Recommended.

Marques de Riscal Sauvignon 2013, Rueda (DO), 12.5%, €12.99 Bradley’s Off Licence

This bottle had just been opened and was on a table about two feet away. Yet, with the tail-end of a cold, I still got the very inviting aromas. Inviting too was the colour: light gold, fresh and clean.

And the wine continued to surprise on the palate. The feel, the flavour, the finish complete a hat trick of delights. Go try it now and then maybe move up the Riscal scale and see what their other Sauvignons have in store. This though is great value and Very Highly Recommended.

The World Atlas of Wine credits Riscal with a key role in the revival of Rueda’s Verdejo. On this evidence, they are doing well also with the Sauvignon, a more recent arrival.