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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.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Wines from New Zealand and France
via Le Caveau and Mary Pawle
Pebble Dew Pinot Noir Marlborough 2017, 13.5%, €24.95 Le Caveau
“A real drinking pleasure” is how Le Caveau describe this Pinot Noir from New Zealand. They have been trying to source a Kiwi supplier for Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc for a while and reckon Pebble Dew is the answer.
It has one of the lightest red colours you’ll see, very close to rosé. The red fruit aromas are packed with promise. And the fruit delivers well on the palate, supple and juicy, right to the refreshing finalé, with a touch of tannin, evident on the top of the lips. It is a light and lively wine for summer, has a bit more going for it than the Sauvignon Blanc. Highly Recommended.
Pebble Dew Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2018, 13.5%, €20.95 Le Caveau
Colour of the Pebble Dew Sauvignon is a very light straw. Aromatic too with white stone fruit and lime in the mix. Gets more citrus-y on the palate, the lively fruit matched with acidity. Pleasant and easy drinking. Nice aperitif and should go well with seafood and salads. Recommended.
Château de Bastet “Aeris” Côtes du Rhone 2015, 13%, €15.20 Mary Pawle
Generally, white Côtes du Rhone have a clear and crisp appearance, with a floral and fruit bouquet and a well balanced palate. This “Aeris”, organic and biodynamic, certainly fits that description. Serve at 8 to 10 degrees and it is the perfect match to grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goat cheeses. Salad Nicoise too.
Château de Bastet decided to go biodynamic in 1997. This 2015 is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. Other white grapes permissible in the region are Clairette, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc too and Picpoul.
It is light straw in colour. And there is a nice mix of aromas, floral along with pear and peach. Smooth with good depth of flavour and a pleasant finish. Highly Recommended and, by the way, well priced.
Chateau Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet (AOP) 2018, 13%, €13.80 Mary Pawle
A dry white from the Languedoc region near the Med in the south of France. Mary Pawle tells me this grape, Picpoul de Pinet, is often referred to as the Muscadet of the South and is excellent with oysters and most shellfish. And that’s confirmed by the label recommending fruits de mer, coquillages et crustacés, with a serving temperature of 8 degrees.
It has a mid-yellow colour with green tints. Aromatic for sure - citrus, melon and floral. Rounded and abundant fruit flavour (lime, grapefruit), generous mouthfeel (close to creamy), a perky acidity and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.
Picpoul is the grape and Wine-Searcher says this Picpoul de Pinet is its most famous incarnation. “The variety's ability to keep its acidity even in a hot, Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect choice for the region, making taut, full-bodied white wines with herbal and citrus aromas.”
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Binner Cuvée Béatrice Pinot Noir Alsace (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €36.50
This Pinot Noir from Alsace was, for me, one of the stars of the Le Caveau portfolio tasting in Cork in March. Heartened by that tasting and also the words of Jean Frédéric Hugel (at a February tasting) that Pinot Noir from the Alsace is now “incomparable to what it was twenty years ago”. I put it on my buying list and didn’t wait long before giving the wine an extended “trial”. I wasn’t disappointed.
I removed the glass closure and poured, its deep pink (rosé, if you like) filling the bottom of the glass. Concentrated red fruit aromas rise up. Those juicy red fruits flavours (mainly strawberry, cherry) engage you as the juice spreads across the palate. Don’t judge a wine by its colour - this has quite a backbone, no wilting rose. Tannins are smooth and there’s a long and satisfying finish. A generous unfiltered Pinot Noir that stands out from the crowd and Very Highly Recommended.
Good acidity too and that makes it an excellent food wine. Recommended pairings are: Filet-mignon, cold meats and terrine with friends, with a white meat, or simply to accompany the cheese plate. Serve at 18 degrees. The label discloses that this organic wine has spent 11 months on lees in traditional large oak foudres (casks).
The Winery doesn’t add sulphur and poses an interesting question about it. I quote, without correction of any kind: When it comes to the idea that natural wines age badly, we must now twist it! Sulfur, and the "wine pharmacopoeia" that appeared only 60 years ago, never helped to preserve the first great wines. It is only after the appearance of fertilizers and pesticides that sulfur has invaded our cellars to rectify the imbalances introduced to the vineyard. How did they do before modern oenology?
I’ve been enjoying some excellent Pinot Noir recently. Any tips on what I should add to this list:
Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (Oregon USA) 2014
Justin Girardin “Clos Rousseau” Santenay 1er Cru 2015
De Loach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma County (California)
Binner Cuvée Béatrice Pinot Noir Alsace (AOP) 2016
Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard New Zealand
Craggy Range Martinborough New Zealand
Little Yering Pinot Noir Australia
Joseph Mellot Le Connétable, Cuvée Prestige, Loire
Hugel 2009 Pinot Noir Alsace.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Pinot Noir on the Double!
One from Oregon and one from Burgundy.
Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (Oregon USA) 2014, 14%, €46.55 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
Unusually, this US winery gives a list of “contents” on the bottle: Sun. Rain. Drizzle. More sun, Some fog. The fruits of sustainable farming. Flavours of black cherry and raspberry mingling with earth and truffle. Aromas of the same. 16 m in French oak. Love and Care.
Put them all together and you get an excellent organic wine. The word “Estate” on the label is significant in that the fruit for this wine comes from virtually every parcel of the farm.
Colour is the classic light ruby. Aromas of raspberry and cherry, a little hint of the oak. Amazing flavours, cherry and plum, intense and seductive. Oak is well integrated, tannins retain some grip. And this fragrant, silky and harmonious wine boasts a long satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.
“A beverage of pleasure” may be an apt description here. The phrase was used by a certain Mr Robert Parker though he was probably referring to wine that was much bigger and bolder than this elegant Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir thrives at Sokol Blosser and the exceptional red (volcanic) jory soils of the Dundee Hills provide a good home. The estate 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.
Dundee Hills is an important AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the Willamette Valley and is well established as a centre for top quality wine and the World Atlas of Wine confirms that, “since the mid 1970s, Oregon and Pinot Noir have been inextricably linked”.
Justin Girardin “Clos Rousseau” Santenay 1er Cru 2015, 13%, €33.99 JN Wine
This juicy and fresh Pinot Noir has spent about 15 months in French oak barrels, 20 per cent of which were new. Many organic techniques are used in the Girardin Burgundy vineyard and the wine is bottled “on a favourable lunar day”.
And, yes, I’m tempted to say I’m over the moon about this one, Very Highly Recommended. It has a light ruby colour. There are attractive scents of ripe cherries and strawberries.
Delicate fruit flavours and a modest touch of spice ooze seamlessly together across the palate. Gentle tannins and acidity help make this a food wine. Delicate and modest yes but enveloping all is a seductive harmony that takes it all the way through to a long and very satisfying finish, delivered with finesse.
Suggested pairings: Red meats, game, mature cheeses, Coq au Vin and almost any chicken or poultry dish prepared with mushrooms.
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Two Pinots From De Loach In California
De Loach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma County (California), 14.5%, €34.99
JJ O’Driscolls, Ballinlough; Baggot Street Wines; Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants; Redmonds of Ranelagh; www.wineonline.ie
JJ O’Driscolls, Ballinlough; Baggot Street Wines; Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants; Redmonds of Ranelagh; www.wineonline.ie
Jean-Charles Boisset, of De Loach, has been hailed as being among the “Top 59 Power Brokers” in the wine world by Decanter while Wine Enthusiast has accorded him the title of “Innovator of the Year”.
The Boisset family, with vineyards in Burgundy, have owned De Loach in California since 2003. Jean-Charles immediately noticed the similarities with Burgundy and the potential for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Boissets recognised that the land needed its health restored. They dug up all the existing vineyards and replanted using biodynamic techniques and produced their first wines in 2010. In addition to De Loach they own these other Californian vineyards (according to Wines of California): Raymond in the Napa Valley and, since 2011, the legendary Buena Vista, the sunshine state’s first and most historic winery.
This Russian Valley Pinot has a delightful mid ruby colour; it shines in the glass. Pleasant aromas of ripe dark and red fruit feature in the nose, mainly cherry and raspberry, and there’s a hint of vanilla there too. Delicious light red fruit flavours, a touch of sweet spice, a bright acidity, very smooth tannins and a long dry finish. No shortage of backbone either but it is soft with a velvety mouthfeel, easy drinking, very enjoyable and Very Highly Recommended.
The winemaker says the wine, from different clones, was fermented for 16 months in individual lots with native yeasts in open top fermenters, basket-pressed and aged on lees before being blended together and aged for an additional 2 months. They recommend pairing with wood-fired pizza or mushroom risotto.
“Heritage Reserve” Pinot Noir 2016 California 13.5%, €24.99 JJ O’Driscolls, Ballinlough; Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants; La Touche Wines; Donnybrook Fair; Clontarf Wines; The Wicklow Wine Co; La Touche Wines, Greystones; Searsons Wine Merchants; Redmonds of Ranelagh; Lilac Wines; Martins Off Licence www.winesonline.ie
De Loach: As leaders in the world of Pinot Noir, we take special pride in the wines that we produce. Believing that fine wine is “grown” in the vineyard, we crafted this Pinot Noir using fruit carefully selected from premium vineyards throughout northern and central California. This effort helps us achieve the unique balance of delicate Pinot characteristics and the more intense fruit flavors found in the different terroirs that comprise our California Pinot Noir.
The Heritage Collection range is designed to offer superb value and quality for mid-priced Californian wines. The fruit for this Pinot Noir is primarily from the Delta region of California and is it fermented in closed-top fermenters. A small portion is aged in seasoned barrels to impart slight oak characteristics to the wine, but most is kept in stainless steel in order to stay true to the wine’s lighter, food-friendly style.
Colour is light to mid Ruby. Raspberry and cherry feature in the fresh, if modest, aromas. Lovely light red fruit flavours follow, spice too, juicy from start to finish, a hint of sweetness but acidity enough to make it food-friendly, smooth tannins play a role in the lengthy finish of this well-balanced medium-bodied wine. Highly Recommended.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Wines from the edge. Tasmania and the Chilean Coast.
Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Lo Abarca Riesling 2017, 12.5%, €12.00 Marks and Spencer.
This wine is exclusive to M&S and they call it quirky on the label. It comes from cool climate vineyards in Chile’s San Antonio valley. Here in Casa Marin, the sunny vineyards are cooled by nearby Pacific breezes (the ocean is just a few kilometres away) and that makes them perfect for ripening Riesling grapes with excellent balance.
Wines of South America (2014) described the Lo Abarca area as “unofficial” noting just two producers there, Undurraga and Casa Marin.
This wine has a very light straw colour, tints of green, very clean. Pleasant aromas of circus (lime) and also floral notes. Crisp and refreshing on the palate, yellow fruit plus lime, an impressive natural acidity and a long dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Winery: Excellent as an aperitif with a delicious fresh ceviche or any type of seafood. Furthermore, it is the best friend for spicy food, like for example a delicious Thai Curry.
M&S: Enjoy this wine chilled with spicy southeast Asian curries or sweet and sour Chinese noodles.
By the way, in the 2018 awards, Decanter magazine awarded this Riesling its Gold Medal.Pure South Pinot Noir Tasmania 2015, 13.5%, €16.45 Marks and Spencer
This one which, according to M&S winemaker Belinda Kleining, has subtle integrated oak to complement the generous red fruit, grew on me. Highly Recommended.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
German Chardonnay. Italian Pinot Noir.
Danese Pinot Noir Trevenezie (IGT) 2017, 12%, €13.95 Karwig
Grapes and Wines (Clarke & Rand) recommend that Pinot Noirs from the “home” of Côte d’Or should be drunk young “within five years or so”. Our timing is good with this interesting one from Italy which has some pretty accomplished Pinot Noir producers.
Colour of this Danese is a very light ruby. Blackcurrants and raspberries feature in the aromas. Flavour seems to be in line with the aromas; they are moderately intense and you’ll find moderate spice also, quite dry, with subtle tannins, and a decent finish. Easy drinking and got the thumbs up from a four person tasting and is Highly Recommended. Pretty good value too.
The Winery suggests pairing this medium bodied wine at 14 to 16 degrees with Roast chicken , rack of lamb, served pink. Rare fillet steak and carpaccio. Roast pork with herbs and fennel. Chicken or turkey sausages. Mushroom risotto. In summer, you can serve it slightly chilled.
Kilian Hunn “Junge Wilde” Chardonnay, Baden (Germany) 2017, 14%, €18.30 Karwig Wine
Junge Wilde means young and wild and is a name of a series of wines by Kilian Hunn aimed to show off the potential of the Tuniberg vineyard. And this, the label proclaims, is “an aromatic pleasure wine for many beautiful moments.”
It has an inviting light gold colour; lots of micro bubbles cling to the glass. Yellow stone fruit aromas, apricot to the fore. Quite a complex wine on the palate, richly flavoured, an excellent mouthfeel too (has spent three months on the lees) and a long dry finish (you’ll note the trocken on the label). A very interesting German Chardonnay indeed and, as they say themselves, an excellent “Maul voll Wein” (mouthful of wine) and Highly Recommended.
Try with poultry, fish, white meats, pasta, seafood, vegetables (including asparagus), soft cheese.
Karwig also carry other Kilian Hunn wines including Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Spat Burgunder (Pinot Noir).
Monday, February 4, 2019
Astrolabe Province Pinot Noir Marlborough (NZ) 2015, 13.5%, €25.45 O’Brien’s
The province of Marlborough has long been recognised as ideal for the growing of Pinot Noir and here winemaker Simon Waghorn takes full advantage of the local advantages: leafy vineyards, ripe fruit and cool climate growing.
“Almost Burgundian Pinot Noir” I read. Why not full Marlborough Pinot Noir? For this is what it is, as it sings its way “across the palate and lingers beautifully”. Conductor Waghorn takes the fruit from his valleys, with the aim of allowing the flavours and aromas of the region come through. “I seek to maintain svelte plushness and good length in my Pinot Noir, built around a natural vibrancy of fruit.”
And, happily, he succeeds with this mid ruby coloured wine (you will see lighter Pinot Noirs). Aromas are cheerful, ripe fruits (cherry and berry). Full bodied, flavours of plum and brambly fruits, well balanced, the oak (11 months of it) harmoniously integrated, supple and silky in a long and totally satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Food pairing suggestions: Venison, lamb, wild game and game fowl, Asian-style duck, seared tuna and swordfish.
And the name? Astrolabe was once a navigational instrument and also the name of the ship in which French adventurer Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville explored the province’s coastline in the late 1820s. The Waghorns also produce wines called Durvillea.
Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley (Washington, USA) Dry Riesling 2016, 12.5%, €16.95 O’Brien’s
Dry, with a lime enhanced finish, this American wine is new to O’Brien’s, the fruit sourced from cooler climate sites in the world class vineyards of the Columbia Valley.
It has a light straw colour. Peach, apricot and citrusy aromas. On the palate it is dry and crisp with zesty fresh fruit flavours (lime now in the mix). It has an engaging acidity and a very decent finish indeed. Very refreshing and Highly Recommended.
Wendy Stukey, a winemaker at the chateau says, on a website video, that it is an incredibly versatile food wine, as are most Rieslings, and her favourite pairing is with oysters. They also recommended scallops, mild cheeses, Asian dishes, Indian curries. Chateau Ste Michelle, since 1999, has been involved in a cooperative local venture, Eroica Wines, with famous German winemaker Dr Loosen, a acknowledge master of Riesling.
We don’t get that many US wines here, mainly because they are at quite a high price point (not the case here!). I’m not that familiar with Washington vineyards so did a little research. “Today,” according to World Atlas of Wine (2013), “Washington is the second most important wine-growing state in the US….producing some of America’s most admired Cabernet, Merlot, Riesling, and, especially, Syrah.” And, by the way, O’Brien’s also have the Syrah from Ste Michelle. Must try that!
100% Vinafera Rootstock is printed on the front label. Puzzled? More research: ‘I’ve seen this phrase most often on bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle wines from Washington. Columbia Valley’s dry summers and chilly winters make the region phylloxera-resistant. I asked winemaker Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste. Michelle what makes vinifera rootstock wines so special, and he said, “Having vines on their own roots helps us maintain the health and longevity of our vineyards and preserves the grape variety in its natural state, with no influence from the grafted roots.”’
Read more of what Dr Vinny has to say on the subject here https://www.winespectator.com/drvinny/show/id/Rootstock-Phylloxera-Resistant-Vinny-54401
Monday, January 7, 2019
Domaine Machard de Gramont Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune (AOC) 2012, 13%, €19.95 Karwig Wines
This elegant refined wine is a beauty from the high slopes of the southern Côte d’Or. Its colour is a very light red, even for a Pinot Noir. Delightful aromas of red berries (strawberry) welcome you. Fresh and smooth, more supple (muscle, if you like) than expected, more flavour than anticipated, velvety, comfortably compelling right through to the fabulous finalé. Very Highly Recommended.
The mainly red region of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is regarded as the poor relation of its lower altitude neighbour Cotes de Beaune. Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is more picturesque but its vineyards are cool and exposed, the fruit slow to ripen. Careful replanting (to face the sun) and a more traditional approach has paid off over the decades.
At their best, according to French Wines (1999), “these light wines are supple and fruity and offer good value for money”. This Gramont, with the emphasis on its fruit character rather than on its weight, is an excellent illustration as to how the gap between these Burgundy neighbours has closed and the current opinion seems to be that Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is now only slightly less prestigious than the neighbour!
Mas Cuvée Secrète, Merlot - Cabernet Franc, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 14%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
Colour of this red blend is a dark ruby. Aromas are rich and jammy, black berries, plum, cassis. Fruity (black and red) again on the palate but beautifully restrained, fresh acidity too and a long pleasant finish. This well-made vibrant young wine is Highly Recommended. Good value too.
Jean-Claude Mas has been working on the “Cuvée Secrete” wines for seven years. This Organic Cuvée comes from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes with low yields. It had no added sulphur and offers great richness – a lovely wine from the Languedoc region which is the perfect match to grilled meat, pasta, cheeses and fruit tarts.
Merlot is widely credited with giving this opulent wine its complex flavours but the Cabernet Franc must be credited for the engaging Loire-like freshness.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Double Up with Tinpot Hut this Christmas
The Tinpot Hut winery is named after the huts, famed in New Zealand sheep country, huts used by musterers as they round up the sheep who have spent Spring to Autumn in the hills. Fiona Turner, a regular visitor to Ireland, is the winemaker.
Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir Marlborough (New Zealand) 2015, 13%, RRP € 24.99 Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.
Colour is Pale ruby. There are plum and cherry aromas, touch of blackberry too. Same fruit on the smooth palate, spice well in the mix too, soft and silky tannins and well balanced through to a long finish. Hard to top this one. Very Highly Recommended.
Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon blanc 2016, 13.5%, €19.99 Stockists: Bradley’s, Cork; Cashel Wine Cellar; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Myles Creek; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.
Another beauty from Fiona Turner and Tinpot Hut. Colour is light straw with green tints. Vibrant aromas of melon, pineapple, lemongrass, a drift of herb. On the palate, exotic fruit flavours, citrus also in there, make it quite a flavourful experience, but with a lively acidity, and this elegant wine continues in balance as it heads to a long finalé.
Fiona is proud of her well earned Sustainable Winegrowing logo and proud too of this Sauvignon that has been declared “exceptional” by Decanter who also awarded it 98 points. Very Highly Recommended.
Tinpot Hut wines are imported here by Liberty Wines and they also include Pinot Gris, Syrah, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner in their portfolio.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Bertrand Ambroise: Message in a Burgundy Bottle
|Bertrand (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau|
Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family since 2013. Once upon a time, Bertrand was front and rear at his Premeaux-Prissey vineyard. He was the boss. Now his children, Francois and Ludivine, have taken on the business and Bertrand says he, no longer the boss, now works for them. He is glad to have them share the load, allowing him the freedom to concentrate on making good wines, such as this pair, made and named for his granddaughter.
Daughter Ludivine has said 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.Take a taste of their Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’ to see where they are heading. This is a faultless wine with an astounding finalé and is also available from le Caveau.
In Cork, earlier this year, Bertrand told me that this Pinot Noir is fermented in mixed-age 400 litre oak barrels, he doesn't want oak influence here, so no new barrels are used.
It has a mid-ruby robe. Plums feature prominently in the bouquet. The palate is full of pure fruit, firm tannins there too, along with a lively acidity and that focused combination plays all the way to a classic faultless finalé. Much has been squeezed from the parcels of poor soil and, lovingly guarded every step of the way, much remains in the bottle. A gorgeous well-priced wine, one of his thirteen Pinot Noirs, and Highly Recommended.
Bertrand Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons Chardonnay (ACBC) 2014, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau
The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines. It is fermented in barrels of different ages (one, two and three years old oak), not fined and only lightly filtered.
Colour is mid-gold, with tints of green. Fairly intense aromas feature white fruit and blossoms. It is round and fruity (citrus to the fore eventually), with just enough acidity. A wonderful drop indeed, very well made and Highly Recommended.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Go East For A Classy Pair
Diwald Grüner Veltliner, Grossriedenthaler Löss (Wagram, Austria) 2014, 12.5%, €16.00 Mary Pawle
“We don’t like Coca Cola wines or Glass House tomatoes,” declares this organic pioneer from Austria, their way of saying they prefer to make their wines in the vineyard. Organic it is and it also looks and tastes very much like a well-made classic Gru-Vee.
It is light gold in colour, bright and clean. White fruits in the aromas (apples and gooseberries, I thought). Refreshing white fruit flavours follow with a perceptible tingle, superb body though and excellent balance and a good long finish. Very Highly Recommended.
The vineyard is located north of the Danube, roughly equidistant from Vienna to the south-east and Melk (with its famous monastery, where they serve an excellent sauerkraut) to the south-west.
Kilian Hunn Spätburgunder 2009 (Baden, Germany), 13%, €18.30 Karwig Wines
Lots of talk, including some guff from this quarter, on Pinot Noir from Burgundy, New Zealand, Chile, even Oregon. All good for sure. But do be sure to add Germany to the short-list. With confidence.
And yes it is Germany. Lots of Badens around. More than one in Germany, one in Switzerland and there's even a Baden-Baden in Austria (the only one I’ve visited). Baden means spa so that accounts for the many towns with the same name.
Colour is a youthful red, red to the very edge, despite its relative age. There are good berry aromas, mainly strawberries. Super fruit flavours, dry, elegant, then a persistent finish. Simply excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Dao. Burgundy. Lodi.
A Trio of Reds
Casa de Mouraz 2011 (DAO), 13.5%, €17.50 Mary Pawle
The grapes for this excellent red come from several vineyards of Casa de Mouraz “some of which are mentioned in documents from the 16th century”. They were no doubt organic then and are organic now.
The wine has been matured in fine Nevers oak for 8 months and is a blend of local grapes: Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and the almost unknown Agua Santa.
It is an intense red colour with violet hue and the legs are in no hurry to clear. You’ll find ripe rich fruits in the aromas. It is smooth, spicy, with a lovely mineral streak, and a lasting finish. A serious drop indeed and Highly Recommended.
Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons 2013, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau
The wines of Maison Ambroise, certified organic since 2013, are regarded as classic Burgundy “with distinct terroir influenced personalities”. This, new to the Le Caveau range, is 100 per cent Pinot Noir and has been aged in 400l barrels, two to five year old, for ten months. No fining or filtration has been applied so be sure to decant.
By the way, did you know that synonyms for Pinot Noir include Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spatburgunder, Blauburgunder.
By the way, did you know that synonyms for Pinot Noir include Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spatburgunder, Blauburgunder.
Colour here is a pale ruby; red fruits in the aromas, most noticeably cherry. It is wonderfully fresh, the lively fruit flavours well matched by the acidity, a perfect balance, plus an excellent finish. Highly Recommended.
Saw a few matching suggestions and the one that made most sense was Roasted duck breast with plum sauce. One from BBC Food here.
Jewel Collection Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 (Lodi, California), 14%, €16.90 Karwig Wines
Interestingly, this was “tested” on a Friday, then the Vacuvin was applied. The bottle was finished off on the following Wednesday and a small improvement was noted! The vine is made by a cooperative of growers from “gnarled 40 year old vines”.
Ruby is the colour, tending towards violet. And there are rich jammy aromas, plus vanilla. All that rich fruit appears too on the warm palate but nicely balanced by the acidity, some spice too, vanilla again, plus a decent finish. Pair with hearty dishes of beef, pork, fowl and various game. Recommended.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
California TrioZin, Zin and PN
Zinfandel now has a birth cert. Until only recently, it was California's "mystery grape" because its origins were unknown.
DNA fingerprinting has confirmed that Italy's Primitivo and Crljenak Kastelanski, an ancient Croatian variety, are genetically identical to Zinfandel grapes. However, differences in vine vigor and cluster size separate Zinfandel from its genetic twins, and further differences in cultivation, terroir and winemaking combine to give Zinfandel its own particular flavor profile with a truly American name, history and style. On wine labels, U.S. regulations require that Zinfandel and Primitivo be identified separately. Read more...
California Wines – Less is More is the title of a Wine Tasting in Ballymaloe next week (9th) and I’d bet that a Zin or two will be featured.
Clos du Val Napa Valley Zinfandel 2013, 14.5%, €29.95 O’Brien’s
From the very first sip, there was no doubt but that this Zinfandel was going to get a Very Highly Recommended. The drinking was spread over two days: it just got better.
Color is a rich purple and the vibrant aromas are not at all shy: dark frit and more. It is magnificent on the palate, with its warming mouthfeel, full of red fruit flavours, vanilla too, some spice as well, fine tannins. It is rich and full bodied, elegant and refined, with a lingering finish. And, yes, Very Highly Recommended.
The wine is produced in California but the the food match was made in Douglas. I bought the wine in O;Brien;s there and paired it with a gorgeous Pork and Prune Terrine from On the Pig’s Back. On the second day, it went very well indeed with mousaka.
Clos du Val was started by John Goelet in 1970 and it was quality from day one. Wines of California, an excellent recent book on the area, particularly recommends their reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) and the Carneros Reserve Chardonnay.
Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2012 (Lodi, California), 14%, €10.00 on offer and widely available.
This is a wine for the barbecue, before during and after. A fun wine. Pretty good fun though and Highly Recommended. Generally, it seems that a fun wine in California is well removed from a poor wine.
Rioe fruit notes, particularly strawberries, dominate the aromas.No shortage of fruity flavours on the palate and there are vanilla notes too. Intense enough with traces of spice and pretty good length as well. Small amounts of Petite Sirah and Tempranillo have been added “for increased intensity and dark fruit characteristics”. Most of the Zin fruit comes from Lodi, the self-proclaimed “Zinfandel Capital of the World”.
Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California, many dating back to the Gold Rush of 1849. Lodi’s wine industry continued to flourish through Prohibition, thanks to farmers who maintained their crops for legally sanctioned “home winemaking.” Today, Lodi is Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Wine Region of the Year and a leading producer of California’s top varieties. However, with over 100 varieties now in production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse and interesting wines, all of which thrive in the region’s Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool nights. More on Lodi here.
Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir, Central Coast 2013, 13.5%, €18.00 Bubble Brothers
Pinot Noir hasn't the best of reputations on the vineyard: capricious, a prima donna. But this is a delicate delight, Californian by birth but strong traces of a Burgundian accent, and is Highly Recommended. Cooperage: 40% new French oak, 60% neutral oak. The winery recommends pairing it with porcini and cremini mushroom risotto or roast rosemary chicken.
It has the typical light red colour, cherry to medium garnet. There is a beautiful red fruit nose, cherries plus berries. Fruit flavours follow through on the vibrant palate, restrained spice, fine tannins too, a lovely balance to this easy-drinking medium-bodied beauty and an excellent finish to boot.
Some 40,000 acres of Pinot Noir are now grown in California, well up on the 25,000 acres of 2004. Its popularity, according to the Wines of California, “is due to the general trend towards lighter, higher-acid food-friendly wines”. This lively Gladiator is certainly one of them, a good juicy one at that.
I bought this one from Bubble Brothers in the English Market and got good advice from Paddy. Must also say that the company's website is excellent, giving good detail on a big range of wines from around the world.