Showing posts with label Portugal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Portugal. Show all posts

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




Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura


Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 9%, €17.96 Mary Pawle Wines

One variety, one river. It says on the label. Better tell you about the variety as I had to look it up myself.  It is 100% Loureiro. Wine-Searcher says it is a thin skinned white grape variety native to northern Portugal and used to make the ever trendy Vinho Verde wines. Taking its name from the laurel or bay-leaf plant for its resembling aroma, Loureiro wines are refreshing with a slight effervescence. They have fresh acidity and are low in alcohol making them a perfect wine to enjoy on its own or with light meals.

Many of you will be familiar with Vinho Verde wines from the north west coast of Portugal which has a relatively cool climate, perfect for growing vines. Quite often Loureiro is used in a blend. Food pairings suggested include with canapés or seafood. It also pairs raw fish in a flawless fashion (sushi, sashimi) and dishes of strong and exotic flavor (especially oriental food).

This organic crisp and dry wine, from Casa de Mouraz, has a light straw colour. Aromas of peach and apricot, orange blossom too. It doesn’t have the obvious petillance that you sometimes get in Vinho Verde but there is a quite a tingle on the palate. Fruit is light and lively and the high acidity reinforces its refreshing nature. This low alcohol Vinho Verde, even without the bubbles, is Highly Recommended.


“La Flor de Margot” Treixadura Ribeiro (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

A grape name that is not very familiar on Irish shelves features in this white from the north west of Spain. Treixadura is grown mainly in Spain and in Portugal where they call it Trajadura. It is usually blended. This one though is 100% Treixadura and has been aged on its lees.

It boast an attractive light gold colour, lots of tiny bubbles cling to the glass. Aromas are fresh, both fruity and floral. Flavours of peach and apricot mainly, also citrus; it has a lovely mouthfeel and the citrus is more in play through to the long finish. Wouldn’t mind a few examples of this one, Highly Recommended.

Seafood is widely considered a match, eg clams in tomato sauce, seared scallops with herb salad. Red peppers stuffed with cheese is also recommended.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Portuguese Perfection Bottled


Quinta dos Carvalhais Alfrocheiro Dão (DOC) 2015, 14%, €31.99 Wine Online

Mid to dark ruby is the colour. Plum and a touch of vanilla in the complex and pleasant aromas. Smooth and elegant in the mouth with concentrated dark fruit flavours, a little spice, soft tannins and there’s a long lip-smacking finish. Quite the complete wine and Very Highly Recommended.

The different Alfrocheiro grapes (sourced from 3 different vineyards) are matured for 9 months in used French oak barrels. The final blend consisted of wine aged in oak (94%) and wine retained in stainless steel tanks (6%). 

The wine underwent fining and filtration prior to bottling. In order to preserve the wine at its peak, in terms of quality, it was bottled without cold treatment and natural deposits may therefore form as it ages. They recommended decanting and that may be more necessary as the wine gets older. I decanted mine but no sign of sediment.

Carvalhais comes under the Sogrape umbrella and they are regarded as one of the top Alfrocheiro producers in Portugal. By the way, they say, that once opened, consume the same day - although the wine should retain its quality for some time providing it is kept in a well-stoppered bottle (ideally vacuum-sealed).

Alfrocheiro is a not a grape you come across every day. Alfrocheiro Preto, to give it its full title, is found in Portugal and grown mainly in Dão. Because of it susceptibility to fungal attack, it is a bit of a gamble and the rewards are deep colour, balanced sugars and acidity. See here for more detail.

Herdade do Peso Sossego Branco Alentejano (IG) 2016, 13%, 
RRP €16.99, Matson Wine Store,  wineonline.ie

Serve, Hardade do Peso advise, at 9 to 11 degrees. That helps for sure. But the real secret for the perfect serve is that this white blend requires tranquility, “an Alentejan calm, free from daily concerns, as peaceful as the rolling plains .. where this wine was born. Listen, breathe, taste. In Portuguese, 'sossego' means 'peace' or 'quiet'. The name says it all.”

The local tranquility wasn’t too bad either as I opened the Sossego with its light yellow colour and tints of green. Scents of citrus fruit and blossoms, more floral than fruity, enhance the mood. Lively and fresh on the palate, the fruit flavours are balanced by excellent acidity and a good dry finish follows. Refreshing and flavourful, and tranquil too, it is Highly Recommended.


The grapes used by winemaker Luis Cabral de Almeida were 75% Antão Vaz, 20% Arinto, 5% Roupeiro.  After fermentation, the wines remained in vats for around three months. The wine underwent gentle fining, stabilisation and filtration before bottling.This may be enjoyed on its own or as an aperitif. It pairs wonderfully with various fish dishes, some white meats and an array of salads.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Three Country Wine Tour with Karwig's


Three European wines from Karwig's, each from a different country and each highly recommended. Take a trip!

Domaine de la Potardière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2017, 12%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
Holiday feeling on the Loire.
Back in the 80s, and maybe earlier, many Irish motoring tourists, most having gotten lost in pre-peripherique Nantes, were venturing no further south than Brittany, and were dipping their beer trained beer stained tongues in French wine, mostly Muscadet or the even more ghostly (or should that be ghastly) Gros Plant. Muscadet at less then a punt a bottle was a great wine while on the hols but not so good when you got it home. Unless it was Sur Lie, matured on its lees.

Now we know what to ask for and with Sur Lie you do have a better chance though some other Muscadets can be fine as well. Muscadet, we thought, was the grape. It’s not. The grape is Melon of Burgundy; the Loire region (near Nantes) in which it is grown is known as the Muscadet area but apparently Muscadet is not an actual geographic place.

This bottle from Karwig’s has just the merest yellow colour, aromas of white fruit, melon prominent. It is lively and fruity on the palate - that holiday feeling - time on the lees has added a certain creaminess; it is totally fresh, a good citrusy finish, overall very engaging and easy to give it the thumbs up. Highly Recommended. Bring on those fish platters in the Relais Routiers, even a DIY selection from Pat O’Connell.

Food pairing tips  : Perfect accompaniment to oysters, seafood in general, fish, sushi.


Quinta do Valdoeiro Syrah Bairrada DOC (Portugal) 2015, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wine

This is not your normal Syrah but is a very interesting one. The vineyard says it has a lot of potential and will “definitely grow in the bottle”. They point out that the striking minerality comes from the red clay (terracotta) soils, the freshness from the proximity of the Atlantic. It is naturally stabilised so sediment is a possibility and they advise serving at ten to twelve degrees. New oak has been used here.

Colour is an intense ruby. Aromas of ripe plums, cherry, also vanilla notes. On the palate it is fresh and fruity, spice, smooth with youthful power, lively acidity and persistent in the finish. Would certainly like to try it in a few years. For now, this very interesting Syrah is Highly Recommended.

Gran Passione Rosso Veneto (IGT) 2016, 14%, €13.95 Karwig Wine

This is an Amarone type wine at an un-Amarone price. It is from the area around Venice and is a blend of Merlot (60%) and Corvina. Corvina is the principal grape in red Valpolicella wines. The interesting thing here is that the grapes are naturally dried on vines for about 15 days. This process helps towards a more intense wine and that is the case here.

Colour is dark ruby. Very pleasant aromas of ripe fruits (cherry, plum), a touch of vanilla too. Velvety and concentrated black and red fruit flavours, mild spice and soft tannins, quite a long finish. Overall a rich and well-balanced palate and Highly Recommended. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Excellent Portuguese Reds. + Wine Briefs


Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo (DOC) 2016, 14%, RRP € 19.99 wineonline.ie

It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.

After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.

Serve: Trinca Bolotas Red should be served at between 16ºC-18ºC.

I read the story of the local pigs on the bottle label: This pig is part of the "Porto Preto" breed, and meat from this pig is called black pork (pata negra i.e. black hoof). During the fattening-up phase, these pigs, which have never been crossbred, roam freely over the countryside and eat the acorns of holm oaks and seeds of cork oaks that are native to the area. The acorns are the secret that makes these pigs so special. The Alentejo pig or black pig (porco alentejano, porco preto) is a native of Portugal, the only surviving species of grazing pig in Europe. It is a gastronomic treasure, part of local cuisine since time immemorial. See more on the ham here.

The Alentejo pigs are classed as Iberian and therefore may be used to make the much desired Iberico ham (of which the Bellota is the highest standard of quality). So the Iberian pig is not exclusively Spanish. And if you can get your hands on the Portuguese ham, you know where to get a lovely wine to match it!

Casa Ferreirinha Esteva Douro (AOC) 2016, 12.5%, RRP €14.99, Stockists include JJ O’Driscoll Cork, The Cinnamon Cottage Cork, Bradley’s Cork, winesonline.ie


Mid ruby is the colour of this Highly Recommended Portuguese wine. Intense aromas feature fruits and floral plus a hint of spice. Light red fruits too and again some spice on the harmonious palate with polished tannins a benign factor. There is good acidity and the finish is long and dry. 

It is a welcome wine at the table. You could well come across it on restaurant lists - I enjoyed it recently at Killarney’s Great Southern - if you do see it, go for this easy drinking example of Douro reds.
Like many Portuguese wines, this is a blend and the grape varieties are Tinta Roriz (40%), Tinta Barroca (35), Touriga Franca (15) and Touriga Nacional (10).

Wine Briefs


Red Nose Wine
"We will keep this simple and tell you that we have added 10 more wines to the special 25-30% Offer wines and we even left a few from the last list on. You can see what wines are now on sale ( they include Mirabello Pinot Grigio, Gassac Picpoul30 Mile Shiraz, Chateau ValcombeBordeaux  and many more ) 

Lots open for tasting and don't forget, the Ladder SALE is still on until the end of the month

Beautiful Wines at Beautiful Prices."

+++++++++++++
Chateau Feely is a winery in Saussignac, a winery with an Irish interest. The excellent wines are imported by Mary Pawle. 

News from Chateau Feely https://chateaufeely.com/

Harvest 2018 took place under gorgeous Indian summer conditions. The good weather meant no need to rush and perfect timing for all the wines. Quality is excellent and quantity is more than last year's frost affected vintage but not as much as 2016. Read on for news of this happy harvest, the early season tour and course schedule, accommodation and more.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friends, music and a bottle of Fado!


Continuing our look at the new wines in SuperValu highlighting the Fado Reserva, the current wine of the month.


Paço das Côrtes Friendship FADO Reserva (Vinho Regional Lisbon) 2016, 13.5%, €13.99 (down to ten euro until October 10th)

Paço das Côrtes is a Portuguese family-based wine company especially dedicated to producing fine wines, with a modern style, from the vineyards of the Lisbon Region and are focused on the international markets. This Fado is a blend of Tinta Roriz (40%), Alicante Bouschet (30) and Syrah (30) and has been aged for 4 months in French oak.

Colour is a dark ruby and there are aromas of ripe red fruits plus balsamic notes. Smooth, fruity and spicy, this warmly introduces itself on the palate. Quite intense all through but with good acidity and a persistent finish. 

Nice and satisfying with approachable ripe fruit, this ticks a lot of boxes and well worth looking out for on the SuperValu shelves. And, with that spectacular (trade-marked) label you should find it easily enough! 

Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of SuperValu Wine, is a big fan: “The Fado is one of the best at that price position I’ve seen in a while….. This is a no-brainer for me.”

Where did the name come from? Fado music is a form of Portuguese singing that is often associated with pubs, cafés and restaurants. It is often profoundly melancholic, a European form of the blues. 

Still, Fado and friends and a bottle of good wine make for a great night out. The colourful label shows a couple sharing a bottle of wine while listening to a Fado performer, perhaps singing of lost love or exile (there is a caravel sailing away in the distance), subjects familiar to an Irish audience.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Couple of Portuguese White Stars, including an Alvarinho Vinho Verde


Portuguese wines are on the rise. 

And not just the red ones. The whites too can be remarkable and we have two gems for you to try including a Vinho Verde - remember that little sparkler? I've noticed these excellent wines coming more and more onto the shelves over the past five or six years. I'm not the only one - check out the quotes below. Very good value a few years ago. That could be changing, but still good value. Buy now and try! 

Vinho Verde is one of Portugal’s most distinctive wines. Jancis Robinson. More here.

It's high time Portuguese wines were given the same respect we grant French, Spanish and Italian ones. The Guardian here.

Wines from Portugal have been enjoying impressive growth worldwide thanks to improvements in both the quality and range of wines over recent years. The Buyer Here

Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €24.99 Bradley’s Cork; wineonline.ie

Did you drink Vinho Verde back in the day? It had a little bit of fizz and was low in alcohol. Then, when we were also drinking Blue Nun and Black Tower and dipping our tongues in hostile foreign languages, we thought Vinho Verde meant green wine; it means young wine. 

And there is no spritziness here, natural or induced, but its absence is no loss at all. This Morgadio da Torre is far from the simple sparkler of our experience. More than likely that earlier Vinho Verde wasn’t made from Alvarinho (Albarino in Spain) as this one is.  

Alvarinho, often compared to Riesling, is one of seven grapes permitted in the DO; they regard it as “the most noble” grape of the region and is usually that bit more expensive. Other grapes that may be used are Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura. 

This dry aromatic Morgadio is certainly a wine of distinction, very enjoyable with fish and seafood and also as an aperitif. Colour is a light straw, very clear. There are fairly intense tropical fruit aromas. Fruity, fresh, mineral, are the first sensations noted on the palate. The fruit is pure and persistent, vibrant notes of lime and citrus prominent, the aromas at play all the way through to the very dry finish. The fact that it was a very good year in the area helped and this is Very Highly Recommended.


Casa Ferreirinha “Papa Figos” Vinho Branco Douro (DOC) 2016, 12.5%, €18.99 winesonline.ie 

Lots of different grapes in most Portuguese blends and this is no exception with Rabigato (55%), Viosinho (15), Arinto/Pedernã (15), Códega (10), and Moscatel (5) all in the mix here.

It has a pale straw colour. Attractive aromas, yellow fruit and floral notes. That attractive tropical fruit again features on the palate and is persistent, good acidity too. And an excellent finish as well on this fresh and vibrant wine. Very Highly Recommended.

After fermentation, roughly 20% of the batch was matured in used French oak barrels for three months; the remaining 80% was kept in stainless steel tanks. The wine went through careful fining and filtering before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spain, and Karwig Wines, keep surprising!


Spain, and Karwig Wines, keep surprising!

Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine

Spain keeps surprising. From Galicia, the green Spain, this Cunas Davia white is an impressive newcomer to the Karwig portfolio and Very Highly Recommended. It is a blend of Treixadura (70%), Albarino (20), Godello (8) and Lado (2). Valdavia is a small family farm using biodynamic production methods on its two hectares.

It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure!

“Ribeiro is building a reputation for fresh but elevated Treixadura-driven wines made from grapes planted on hillside terraces. A combination of Atlantic and Mediterranean influences gives Ribeiro wines more body and floral richness than Albariño from Rías Baixas.” So wrote winemag.com in 2016. I agree!

Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine 


Okay, a few clues for you. Quatro Castas means 4 types, 25% each of Touriga Franca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Alicante Bouchet (a red fleshed grape named after its breeder). Blend varies from vintage to vintage and picking the four grapes and then getting the blend right is the annual challenge to the winemakers.

All four are vinified separately. The first and third spend 6 months in American oak, the Cab Sauv 6 months in French oak, and 6 months of stainless steel for the AB. The year, 2014, provided very favourable weather conditions for red wines with high quality concentrated grapes resulting in fresh aromatic intense wines with an excellent equilibrium.

This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.



Velenosi Rosso Piceno (DOC) 2016, 13.5% abv, €15.50 Karwig Wines

This engaging blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese (30) is part of Velenosi’s organic line, “a line that will surprise and charm you”. This red is pretty good and Highly Recommended.

It is a mid to dark ruby colour, with a lighter rim. There are fairly rich aromas, red fruit mainly. Fresh on the palate, it is soft with a good body, some spice, excellent acidity, strong and pleasant right through to the long finish. An elegant wine, well made in “typical Velenosi style”.

When Angela Piotti Velenosi and her husband founded their winery in 1984, cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned in her local area of the Marches and Piceno. They started with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

Read more about the Velenosi wines here 


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Couple of Recommended Reds to Consider!

Thierry Germain Saumur-Champigny (AC) 2015, 13%, €26.45 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau,
Chateau de Saumur
Saumur, on the Loire in Western France, is a great town to visit. Highlights include the medieval fort (Chateau de Saumur), the underground Musée du Champignons, plus wine tours and tastings. Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation for the two named places and six neighbouring villages. The wines are made, almost exclusively, from Cabernet Franc.

Germain is biodynamic and produces Cabernet Franc with purity, finesse and drinkability, wines that feature “generous and ripe darker fruit flavours”. His cellars are in “tuffeau” caves below the winery. Tuffeau is the soft local limestone and you see it in many buildings in the area.

Le Revue des Vins des France gave the domaine its coveted Three Star designation and later made him Winegrower of the Year in 2011.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are fruity aromas, ripe berry mainly, floral notes too. Fruit flavours follow through to the palate, amazingly generous for such a young wine; freshness and purity too plus an excellent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

It is made from the fruit of vines with an average age fo 25 years and harvested to preserve aroma and freshness. It is raised for 3 to 4 months in a combination of stainless steel and foudres (large wooden vats). A good partner with a variety of dishes. Thierry himself recommends ballotine of chicken with cracked black pepper.

Aplanta Alentejano (IG) 2015, 14%, €13.95 Bradley’s Cork


I like this mid to dark ruby Portuguese wine with its dark fruit aromas. Palate has that fruit, cherry prominent, spice too, a hint of vanilla, soft tannins. It is quite plush but good acidity makes for excellent balance. A well made everyday wine that won't be out of place at the weekend! Like many wines from Portugal it over delivers at the price. Quite a lot of character in this refreshing glass and Highly Recommended.



As you might expect it is a blend, produced by Obrigado with grapes from a community vineyard. It is 70% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 30% Alicante (Garnacha). They recommend pairing it with grilled meat (burgers, steaks), charcuterie and “sharp” cheeses!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Trio of Very Highly Recommended Wine Treats!

Chateau Pape Clement Grand Cru Classé de Graves Pessac-Léognan 1998, 13%. 

Amazing how the colour is so dark,  a deep purple with virtually no diminution at the edge. Quite a subtle scent, rounded, hints of spice. It is smooth, elegant, rich and rounded, not a note out of place, a symphony for the senses, perfect on the palate and a perfect long dry finish. 

Concentrated, fine and harmonious from start to finish, an admirable wine and Very Highly Recommended.


It is a blend of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with some Cabernet Franc also in the mix and spent 18 months in oak.

The first harvest here was in 1252! It was first planted by Bertrand de Goth, Archbishop of Bordeaux, who later (1305) became Pope Clement V (of Avignon fame). The Graves vineyard was run by the Bordeaux Archbishops until the French Revolution.

When the grapes for this particular bottle were produced, the chateau was under Bernard Magrez, “a passionate wine entrepreneur”. His efforts were rewarded in 2009 when critic Robert Parker gave “the mythical score of 100” to the Chateau’s white and the same score for the red in the following year.

This was a birthday gift that I took a while to open, so I'm not sure of availability or price.

Taylor’s Port Late Bottled Vintage 2011, 20%, €25.95 Bradley's (Cork), Le Caveau
Taylor’s, pioneers of the category, launched their first LBV in 1970 to satisfy a demand for a high quality ready-to-drink alternative to Vintage Port. Unlike vintage port, which is bottled after only two years in wood and ages in bottle, LBV is bottled after four to six years and is ready to drink immediately. Its longer wood ageing means it needs no decanting and will remain in good condition for several weeks after the initial opening.

This 2011 has a solid purple colour. It is aromatic for sure, cherry and plum, berries too. Rich and fruity on the palate, some spice also, hints of liquorice, tannins just about in evidence. Superb balance overall. The blending process ensures it is “balanced and complete and that there is a continuity of style in relation to previous Taylor LBV”. A true Taylor-style port indeed.


This beautiful elegant wine, with a wonderfully long finish, is Very Highly Recommended.


Clos Puy Arnaud Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux (AOC) 2014, 14%, €39.95 Bradley’s Cork.


Not too much to say about this one other than it is just brilliant. Colour is mid to deep purple. Aromas are complex, plum mainly, vanilla too, herby notes. Fruit is opulent, plus a marked freshness (a good proportion of Cabernet Franc may have something to do with that) and acidity, a fair bit of spice also, tannins close to smooth, and a quality finish. Very Highly Recommended. Duck and steak may be the best matches, hard cheeses too.

This vin biodynamique is produced by vigernon-proprietaire Thierry Valette and Puy Arnaud is a standard bearer for organic wine in Bordeaux. This is a blend of Merlot (70%), Cabernet Franc (25%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). It is a recent addition to the Findlater list.


Castillon-la-Bataille is a town on the Dordogne, about 50 minutes east of Bordeaux city and the vineyard is a few miles north of the town. Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon is the appellation title for Cotes de Bordeaux wines made specifically in the district. Until 2009, these wines were sold as Cotes de Castillon.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Superb Red and White from Portugal

Quinta dos Carvalhais Encruzado DAO (DOC) 2015, 13%, €29.99 Wine Online
Okay, first things first. Portuguese grapes aren't that well known individually so Encruzado is the grape here, “potentially the best white grape of the DAO” according to Grapes and Wine. Barrel fermentation and lees stirring help bring out the character and “it is suited by a little oak ageing” as we see here. Potential is being realised methinks by Sogrape Vinhos, the producers of our Very Highly Recommended bottle, imported by Liberty Wines.

It is not a blend and this 100% Encruzado has a light straw colour. Quite a melange in the bouquet: white fruit, floral, spicy, oak traces too. It is full bodied, fresh and fruity, oak notes too, well balanced with a lively acidity. A harmonious combination indeed with a long creamy and elegant finish with those lovely aromas hanging on to the end. 

Try with more elaborate fish and seafood dishes, smoked fish too, white meats, and some cheeses.

Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Douro (DOC) 2015, 14%, €19.99 JJ O’Driscoll (Cork), Wine Online.
This excellent red, also by Sogrape Vinhos, is a blend as most Portuguese reds are. The dominant grape is Touriga Franca and also included are Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (better know to us as Tempranillo). Pair with beef, pasta, lamb and game.


Colour is a deep ruby and legs are slow to clear. Aromas are complex, red and black berries, floral and herbal elements too. It is smooth and rich on the palate with fresh fruit flavours, magnificent depth, rounded tannins, peppery too, subtle oak in the background. Quite a lot going on but well balanced. The finish is smooth, dry and long. Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try

Local Grapes: Three Blends To Try
Local grapes feature in these three bottles, one each from Bordeaux, the Alentejo region of Portugal and Piedmont in Italy. While the Bordeaux grapes will be familiar to most of us, the local Portuguese and Italian grapes will be less so. Worth a try though!

Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 13%, €15.95 Wines Direct

I love Bordeaux (and Bergerac) whites, especially when Semillon is the main grape, and this excellent dry wine, rich and full flavoured, suits me very well indeed. Sec (dry) is highlighted on the front label and it has spent 3 months ageing on lees. The blend is Sauvignon Blanc (35%), Sauvignon Gris (15) and Semillon (50).

Colour is a clear gold/straw. There are rich aromas, exotic fruit plus floral elements. From its elegant and attractive nose, to its generous mouthfeel, its excellent freshness ad acidity, to its long finish, it is pretty much faultless, Well balanced and Very Highly Recommended. Should be superb with most kinds of sea fish including lobster and salmon, freshwater fish too. 

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro ALR, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2012, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle Wines

The organic grapes for this blend grow in an wooded area planted with Pine, Oak and Chestnut. I though I got a hint of oak but maybe not as it is unoaked! Trincadeira, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante-Bouschet and Touriga Nacional are in the blend and the wine-makers say “it goes with everything”.

This versatile medium bodied wine has a ruby red colour and red fruit aromas. Baked fruit and spice on the palate, moderate tannins, and a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

* The lettering on the bottle could fool you into thinking it is AIR but no, the ALR comes from the initials of Antonio Lopes Ribeiro.


Valle Unite Ottavio Rubé Rosso 2014, Costa Vescovata, 13.5%, €14.55 Le Caveau

Costa Vescovata is a town in Piedmont and the Valle Unite is the winery. The grapes - it is a blend of Dolcetta and Croatina - are local and this organic wine is “a brilliant price/quality ratio” say Le Caveau. It is named after Ottavio Rubé, one of the founders of the co-op.


Colour is a deep ruby and there are strong, even “funky” red fruit aromas. Same strong fruit evident on the palate, a good input of spice too, also savoury flavours, quite grippy with excellent acidity. A decent finish too. A good buy and Highly Recommended. You can expect some sediment here so best to decant.