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The loess soils of the Wagram are particularly favourable to Grüner Veltliner and this is another excellent example by Diwald. Very Highly Recommended.
This is a light gold colour, and bright. Aromas led by citrus, a touch of pepper. Zesty too on the palate as this light and lively wine spreads around. Light and thirst quenching yet also quite assertive. It has spent 8 months on lees.
Generally GrüVe is well paired with salads and vegetables and makes for a mouthwatering aperitif and importer Mary Pawle recommends serving this Diwald with scallops.
But the grape is very versatile. Terry Theise, in Reading Between the Wines, says GrüVe is a hugely important variety “both for its flavour and also for its usefulness”. It is “by far the most flexible dry white wine in the world at the table”. He concludes: “..once you encounter it, you may not be able to imagine life without it”. High praise indeed.
The Diwalds, long-time practitioners of organic wine-making, say Goldberg is one of the best single vineyards in the village. Terraces and hills which slope towards the Danube Valley and mighty loess ground build the foundation for the Goldberg wines. According to Martin Diwald, the goal is “to produce cheerful wines, in which the zest of the region and the philosophy of the vintner are united.” Reckon he scores with this one! As do his customers.
Jacques Frelin Pouilly-Fumé (AOP) 2017, 13%, €26.60 Mary Pawle
Minerality and elegance are head-lined on the back label of this organic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and they are indeed a notable part of the very pleasant experience.
Colour is a very light straw. Intense aromas (melon, pear/apple, honeysuckle notes). Lively fruit, the classic citrus in there too, lively acidity, that minerality and elegance, very refreshing and a good dry finish. Well made, well balanced. Excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
No need to say too much more. Mary Pawle recommends trying it with trout or salmon and also goat’s cheese. I’ve seen recommendations for pairing it with shellfish, spicy food, salads, pork, and light pasta dishes.
Karwig's Closing Down Sale Continues Three to look out for!
Rochebin Macon Lugny (AOP) Chardonnay 2018, 12.5%, Karwig Wines was 15.85, now 10.30…
Colour is a mid gold. Aromas of white fruit, floral notes too. Soft and rich on the palate, peach and melon flavours, rounded mouthfeel, fresh acidity too and a good finish. Very quaffable on its own and pairs well with: spiced tapas, charcuterie, white meats (chicken, veal) or seafood platters. Treat yourself - Highly Recommended.
Machard De Gramont “Dom. De La Vierge Romaine” Pinot Noir Bourgogne (AOC) 2017, 13%, €19.95 (prior to closing down sale) Karwigs
Aged in old oak for 13 months, this is an excellent Pinot Noir, full of character and well-priced even before news of Karwig’s closing-down sale broke.
Mid-ruby is the colour and it has a bright sheen. Aromas, with berries and cherries in the mix, are light and lovely. On the palate it is deliciously fruity, the merest touch of sweet spice, acidity enough, tannins barely noticeable with a decent finish. Elegant and fresh and Highly Recommended.
This has the VDP eagle displayed on the neck, “a guarantee of pure wine pleasure”, not a bad start. For many years the winery was a foundation for the benefit of the town of Eltville in the Hattenheim region. In 2003, it came back into private ownership.
Colour is a light straw with green tints. Citrus aromas with a touch of diesel. Lively and fruity on the palate, fading slowly to a dry finish. Highly Recommended.
“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.
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.”
This is a very young estate, the first vines planted by owners Brian and Marion Smith in 2007; it is now certified biodynamic. Marion is from Ballyjamesduff and they set up in Elgin having sold their IT business in London to pursue their dream of farming organically. The farm had lain idle for some time and that made it easier to go organic. Marion: “We are living the dream and have wonderful workers here.”
It is not just vines. Marion is the largest breeder of Dexter cattle (the native Irish breed) in the Western Cape. Sheep “mow” the grass between the vines. Their ducks also help. “These are hatched on our farm and trained to eat pests daily.” Lots of eggs too from the ducks and the chickens.
What does she miss about County Cavan? “I miss the long bright evenings sitting out in Ireland”. Darkness falls rapidly here. Be sure and take a look at the website. Elgin Ridge is a gorgeous place, so many animals.
The name comes from the fact that the vines grow at 282 metres, “the ideal height to create cool climate Sauvignon Blanc in the Elgin Valley. Organic farming gives the wine its elegant and unique flavour”. The vines benefit from the cool afternoon breeze and the proximity of the ocean.
Colour is a very pale yellow. Aromas of peach and apricot, gooseberry too. A vibrant wine, with a beautiful freshness, savoury yet full of ripe fruit. That palate also carries a classic mineral counterpunch and there is a satisfying lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.
It is a good food wine, a great match with our local Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid Goats Cheese. Fish (including scallop and squid) and pasta are also recommended.
Heredad de Emina Moscatel Castilla y Leon (Vino de la Tierra), 12%, Heart of Spain (Cork).
This is a sweet wine, not all-out sweet by the way. It is produced from the Muscatel grape; fermentation is halted to leave a natural sweetness; no spirit is added so ABV is in the normal range. It is ideal with desserts and snacks.
Colour is a light straw. Aromas hint at blossom and citrus. Excellent body, white and yellow fruit flavours and the natural acidity kicks in to balance. Use as they recommend (lighter desserts, though) and a glass is excellent too as an aperitif. A lovely little number and Recommended.
Didn’t keep the receipt and it is not listed on their website but I think it is priced in the low to mid teens.
While you may not immediately associate Austria with Sauvignon Blanc, Steiermark, to the south west of Vienna and next door to Slovenia, is synonymous with fresh, aromatic white wines, particularly Sauvignon Blanc.
Here’ll you find the Wohlmuth winery who also produce wine from other grapes such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muskatteler, and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Blaufränkisch, most of which are available via Karwig’s. Wohlmuth, by the way, is regarded by The World Atlas of Wine, as a producer of “some of Südsteiermark’s most elegant wines”.
This Sauvignon Blanc is classed as trocken (dry) and it is. It has quite a light lemon colour. Moderate intense aromas, herbaceous, leafy, hints of mint. On the palate it is light and gently fruity (ripe nectarine, peach, melon) and the lively acidity is a balancing factor. A really pleasant and elegant drop and Very Highly Recommended.
Wohlmuth say it goes well with asparagus with gravadlax salmon; chicken breast with red pepper sauce. Please take note also that they advise serving it at 12 degrees - they know what they are talking about and the advice will help you get the very best out of a top notch wine!
Trocken is dry, which is the case with many Austrian wines.
Blauer Zweigelt is a red grape variety, widely grown in Austria.
St Severin is the wine name.
This well-priced quality red wine has a dark ruby colour, lighter at the rim. Gorgeous and intense fruit aromas. Also engaging red fruit flavours (cherries, berries, redcurrants), a touch of spice, full bodied and quite dry to the finalé. Overall though this is easy drinking, light and bright, not unlike Pinot Noir, and is Highly Recommended.
The winery, which is situated 70 miles west of the capital Vienna,recommends matching it with game, beef and “a lot of cheese varieties”.
Once on a guided tour of Switzerland, I met a New Zealand couple, sheep farmers from Queenstown. They were outgoing and friendly, no humming or hawing.
“Will we jump off at the next stop,” I’d asked on a descending ski-lift. “and walk down.”
“Yeah, right, no problem.” They’d answered. This wine reminds me of them.
Not particularly because it is a beautiful light gold with green tints, the sheep farmers were well tanned. Nor because of the exuberant tropical aromas, that typical cut grass too. The palate is awash with tangy citrus, pineapple and ripe white fruit flavours, fresh and refreshing. All positive and Highly Recommended, just like my Kiwis and "no problem". Crisp and satisfying, try it with fresh seafood, goats cheese salads or just on its own.
Kim Crawford, by the way, gather the fruit from all over the Marlborough region, but emphasise that seasoned winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst, had individual blocks targeted for their strengths and overall contribution to the blend. It is a pattern established early on by Kim and his wife Erica when they started at the turn of the century without owning grapevines or tanks.
The vines for this Sauvignon Blanc ranged in age, up to 14 years, bringing a mix of youthful vigour and depth of flavour. Anthony has won local awards for his Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
Les Hauts de Milly Chablis 2017,12.5% , RRP €29.99 Cinnamon Cottage The Wine Centre wineonline.ie
This fresh and youthful Chablis has a light straw colour, green tints (or was that from the Christmas tree?). You'll note white fruit and floral notes in the aromas. There is a prominent citrus element on the palate flavours. The best part of a year on its fine lees has contributed to the excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Fresh and mineral with an excellent finish. An excellent good quality early-drinking Chablis and Highly Recommended.
In the vineyards a totally natural approach is adopted, herbicides and pesticides are banned. The little fertiliser used is organic compost. The wines are pure, fresh and textural. This Chablis is vinified on its fine lees for 10 months before bottling and you are advised to serve it at 11 degrees. I would err on the upper end rather than risk it too cold.
Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (New Zealand) 2017, 9.5%, €16.00 Marks and Spencer
Just 9.5% alcohol, as compared to the normal 13-14%, yet with all the taste. Dr John Forrest is the man, not the only one (Villa Maria are among the others also involved), behind this trend where “through careful manipulation of the leaves of the vines, the grape berries end up with around 60% of the normal amount of sugar.” Expect more lower abv’s as other varieties come under Dr John’s appliance of science, a pioneer in the field.
Three per cent Riesling is included with the Sauvignon. The wine is a lightly coloured yellow, with green tint and mini-bubbles clinging to the bowl of the glass. Herbaceous aromas, especially nettle (which I’m told is more associated with Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire). The nettles continue on the palate, citrus and gooseberry making an impression here also, and a superb acidity also. Amazing about that nettle effect; I’ve often heard of it but this is the first time I’ve had it face to face, so to speak. It is an amazing wine and Very Highly Recommended.
There are already technological solutions, such as using reverse osmosis, which passes the wine through a membrane to strip it of ethanol, or a spinning cone column, which uses centrifugal force and steam for the same purpose. But winemakers would prefer something they can control themselves in the vineyard and so it looks as if the Forrest method may be the way forward as climate change continues to lead to higher alcohol counts.
Castro Martin Albarino Rias Baixas (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €19.00 Marks and Spencer
This light and fresh wine has a light straw colour, tints of green and micro-bubbles were noted clinging to the glass. Aromas are mainly pear and peach. It is vibrant on the palate with intense fruit, lemon now also in the mix, a zesty refreshing acidity too and a long dry citrusy finish. Try with shellfish, white fish and salads and also as an aperitif. Highly Recommended.
You’ll see the words Sobre Lias on the label and you’d be right if you guess that means on the lees. Castro Martin, a family estate where Angela Martin is the wine-maker, use this method to “add richness, flavour and aroma complexity”. The Albarino grape comes mainly from north west Galicia where it flourishes.
M&S winemaker Sue Daniels notes that this bone dry white is made with minimal intervention and no oak “to allow full expression of the grape’s unique flavours. Couldn’t argue with that after finishing the bottle (I did share!).
Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines
Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.
Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.
Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.
Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.
Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.
Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.
Regular wine shoppers at SuperValu will have noticed many new “faces” on the wine shelves. Quite a few have eye-catching labels and Kevin O’Callaghan, Head of SuperValu Wine, while well aware that you cannot always judge a book by its cover, likes “the label to sing or depict an essence or style in the very wine they are producing. …” He reckons" the art of storytelling will be the next consumer motivator.”
So let us start with a look at three wines, including two whites, from Carcassonne wine exporters LGI Wines.
Duo de Mers Sauvignon Blanc Viognier (Vin de France) 2017, 12%, €11.99
The label here sees two fish, one heading in a directly opposite direction to the other, one darker. So what’s the story? The wine goes with fish. True. But look at the wine’s name, referring to two seas. The Sauvignon comes from Atlantic influenced Gascony while the Viognier is sourced in Mediterranean Languedoc. Similarities to Australia here with the fruit coming from different regions.
Sauvignon accounts for 70% of the blend in this pleasant easy drinking light coloured wine; the Viognier adds to the white fruit elements in the aromas. On the palate, the blend is fresh, fruity and smooth. Good value and great for a party. Try it on its own as an aperitif or with shellfish, fish, and salads.
Combeval SCG Grand Cuvée Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2017, 11.5%, €11.99
A relatively plain label on this one, just a selection of curved lines indicating little hills and a few words confirming that it is from the sunny slopes of the south of France. All the fruit - Sauvignon Blanc 60%, Columbard 20% and Gros Manseng 20% - comes from Gascony. Gascony may not often pop up in the wine conversation but it is a producer of lovely fresh white wines and there are many vineyards here and much of the fruit (including Columbard) is used to produce the well-known Armagnac spirit, Gascony’s worthy answer to the Charente’s Cognac.
Colour is light straw and the aromas here are mainly those you’d expect of Sauvignon, herbaceous with fruits (e.g. gooseberry, apple). On the palate, it is well endowed, thanks in part to time on both big and fine lees, a tingly touch too and a good finish, somewhat longer than the Duo above. Again pair with fish and salads and treat yourself to a glass beforehand!
The SCG is a play on the well known GSM of the Rhone and neighbouring areas. Indeed, Supervalu have the Combeval GSM and the red grapes in the blend are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Should be worth a try also.
Dark Apparition Alicante Bouschet Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €12.99
The label shows an ectoplasmic figure trying to break out of its containment unit. The monochrome ghost is, according to the online blurb, apparently trying to express the full body and power of the wine. Really?
Let us move on to the grape itself. Unlike many grapes, this one has a precise birthday. In 1855, Henri Bouschet crossed Grenache Noir with Cabernet Sauvignon and this baby was born and has gone on to prove quite popular, especially in the south of France. Unusually, its pulp is red which enhances the colour. It also provides fatness to the wine. Put it all together and you have a Dark Red Apparition! Really?
Let us move on to the wine itself, let the Alicante materialise! At harvest, the fruit is divided into two sections. Some fruit goes through the modern process of thermal maceration, most is traditionally fermented on skins for three weeks and is then aged for six months with French oak which “adds complexity” providing a full-bodied cuvée when both parts regroup.
Colour is indeed a dark red. Quite a concentrated melange of scents, ripe fruit, floral and vanilla. Smooth and juicy on the palate, concentrated too with initially a slight sweetness, always the merest trace of vanilla, smooth tannins (on the lips), a good dry finish. The Alicante is well and truly out of the bottle and it is an excellent drink. Really!
Reds may outnumber the whites by about two to one in the ongoing annual sale at O'Brien's but there are some excellent whites to consider. We tasted the first three over the past week while the two at the end were tasted a few months back. All good, but we do advise putting the Sophie Bertin Sancerre at #1 on your shopping list!
La Côte Blanche de Sophie Bertin Sancerre (AOP) 2016, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95).
Of the three whites tasted this past few days, this is the star. Not that you’d know it from the pale straw colour, much the same as the Waiheke. The magic starts with the aromas, a degree or two more intense, white fruit and floral notes, minerality and more, full of promise.
And that promise is handsomely delivered. The palate has extra intensity, more body, rounded and flavourful, perfect balance between fruit and acidity, plus quite a long and satisfying dry finish. Very Highly Recommended. An ideal pairing with seafood, salad, or simply by itself. The winery recommendations are Goat's cheese, Risotto, Salads, Shellfish, Smoked fish.
This top class Sancerre benefits from the Domaine’s “fantastic soils (chalk and clay, and flint)" and a policy of reducing yields to increase fruit flavours.In the cellar, the wine is matured on its lees for several months.
This light straw coloured wine has aromas of white fruits, light pepper in the background. The purity of the fruit (peachy) is exceptional - the Grüner Veltliner, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil - no shortage of minerality and you have a dry refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. Well priced too - especially now!
The Rabl Winery in Langenlois, Austria’s largest wine-producing city, has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes and salads.
Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc Waiheke Island (New Zealand) 2016, 12%, €16.95 (was 19.95).
Very light straw is the colour of this Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc. The island, known for its beaches and vineyards, is a short ferry ride to the east of Auckland on the North Island. Aromas tend to citrus as does the fairly intense palate of this fresh and crisp wine. Acidity is not shy at all and, with a hint of grapefruit, there’s a pleasing refreshing finish. Recommended. By the way, it is not entirely Sauvignon as there is five per cent Semillon in the blend.
Winery note: The 2016 Sauvignon blanc, with 5% Semillon, is a stylish vintage with typical herbaceous aromas, tight acidity and ample texture. Typical of Waiheke Sauvignon blanc, our 2016 Estate Savvy is perfect with a year or two of age allowing the wine to mellow and showcase the wines structure and longevity.
Two Others to Note
Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €22.95 (was 24.95).
The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!
Terredora Greco di Tufo Loggia, 16.95 (was €18.95)
Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Greco di Tufo is the grape and you’ll find it difficult to get one better than this!
O’Brien’s themselves rave about this one: “Tasted by the wine team against two other major names in the region (Campania), this wine won hands down and was immediately listed for us. Simply amazing mineral driven, rich, complex white. Utterly irresistible!”
The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.”
“Langhe Nebbiolo is a close relation of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines but one that is usually softer and more accessible.” - Decanter. They also say that it is “Part of great value Italian wines made by cooperatives".
This mid ruby coloured wine has inviting red fruit aromas, a hint of spice too. The same fruit and spice invade the palate, in the nicest possible way; it is medium-bodied with good acidity, a decent finish with soft tannins. Easy drinking (despite the high alcohol), very pleasant and Highly Recommended.
Perfect, they say, with pizzas and pastas, white and red meat, and rich fish dishes.
Verso Rosso Salento (IGT) 2016, 14%, €15.75 Karwig Wine
Salento is a town in Puglia in the south-east of Italy. Oak ageing has played a role here and the wine is made with a “small amount of apassimento” which gives a raisin element in the flavours. They recommended using it with red meats, stew, game and mature cheese. Duck breast should also be a good match. The blend is Negromaro (60%), Primitivo (35) and Malvasia Nera (5).
It is a deep red (skins have been left in must for “extended period”). Legs are slow to clear. Dark fruit on the nose. Juicy and fruity (think crème de cassis) with a vibrant spice, sweet tannins at play also. An easy drinking wine and Highly Recommended.
Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc (AC) 2016, 12.5%, Karwig Wines €14.95
This blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris comes from a stunning estate located at the gateway of Cadillac in the small municipality of Beguey, overlooking the Garonne River. You’ll hear that Bordeaux whites are often better value than the reds and this is the case here.
It has a pale straw colour. Citrus and floral notes feature in the expressive nose. Fresh engaging fruit on the palate, lovely acidity also and a superb lip-smacking finish. A Highly Recommended melange of Bordeaux fruit and craft.
It has spent two months on fine lees and is, they recommend, a perfect accompaniment for oysters, sea food and smoked salmon sushis. The salmon I enjoyed it with wasn't smoked but they paired well nonetheless.
Into the Loire Valley with Karwig Wines Focus on the classic white grapes: Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc
Hardworking winemakers in Vouvray
The Loire Valley has claims, quite strong, to being the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc. Eventually it got together with Cabernet Franc, another grape widely-grown in the valley, and produced Cabernet Sauvignon. "..wine lovers would have to thank it for that," say Grapes and Wines. The name of the grape was rarely on labels until its debut in the 70s in New Zealand and then everyone got to know it through the pungent wines from Marlborough. Well-made Loire examples, while usually somewhat more restrained, are still worth checking out. And the bottle below from Menetou-Salon is excellent and at a good price too.
While Sauvignon Blanc is now grown all over the world, Chenin Blanc has a much less extensive footprint, mainly found in the Loire and in South Africa. Here in Ireland, we get examples that are usually dry but it is a versatile fruit as you can read below. Vouvray is in the middle of the Loire Valley, not too far from the historic city of Tours. St Martin, the patron saint of wine, was a bishop here. Bourillon Coup de Trique Vouvray (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine
From a troglodyte cellar in the Loire Valley and bearing a very modern fancy orange cork (100% recyclable nomacorc), comes this Highly Recommended Chenin Blanc from Vouvray.
You’ll note the word sec (dry) on the front label, unusual for French still wine labels. But this Chenin Blanc is a very versatile wine. “In the Loire… its wines go from scaringly dry, to dry, to fairly dry, to vaguely off-dry, to off-sweet, sweet, very, very sweet - and there’s good Chenin fizz too.” Grapes and Wine go on to detail an equally long list of styles from South Africa (where Chenin is well-known) andwhere it makes “an awful lot of brandy”.
This has quite a bright light straw colour. Aromas feature white fruit, floral and herbal notes. A lively attack with white pepper in among the fruit and the long very satisfying palate is followed by a lengthy and equally satisfying finish.
Jean-Max Roger Morgues Le Petit Clos Menetou-Salon (AOC) 2015, 13%, €21.55 Karwig
Menetou-Salon is a village at the eastern end of the Loire Valley wine region and considered an up and coming rival to its famous neighbour Sancerre. Inhabitants are known as Monestrosaloniens and you thought Corkonian was a mouthful!
This 100% Sauvignon blanc has a lovely gold colour. In the aromas you’ll find white fruit (citrus to the fore) and floral elements too. Excellent mouthfeel, fresh and fruity, and matching acidity all the way through to the long finish. Highly Recommended.
Fish, shellfish, white meats and goats cheese are the suggested pairings. “It is an ideal way to start a meal or to enjoy with friends during the day.”
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 € 24.99Bradley’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.
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.
Quite a bit of variety in this quartet of whites, all possible aperitifs, which should stand youin good stead over the holidays. All will be fine as aperitifs and two have the advantage of being rather low in alcohol. One is a rosé (usually associated with summer but I'm sure the house will be hot!) and another is a slightly sweet bottle of organic bubbles. The Vinho Verde is easy-drinking (indeed, they all are) and has a very slight fizz while the Sauvignon Blanc can also do duty during a meal. And speaking of The Meal, we have two (each well-priced) at the end that will certainly do the business there for you. Enjoy.
Messias Vinho Verde (DOC) 8.5%, €12.35 Karwig’s
This Vinho Verde is light and crisp, with a subtle and sparse fizz. It is made, in the Atlantic north of Portugal, from traditional regional varieties (Loureiro and Pedernâ in this case).
It has a light lemon colour, a touch of green and plenty of fizzy bubbles. Aromas are of light fresh fruits. The light white fruits continue to the palate, also a touch of sweetness (residual sugar is 13 gram/litre), a gentle fizz is part of the lively acidity. Recommended, especially as an aperitif.
La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2016, 7%, €18.95 Bradley’s, Le Caveau.
The Malvasia di Candia is a rather unusual moderately sweet bubbly wine. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%.
Note too the beautiful golden colour. Not that many bubbles. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet, honey and fruity and a good finish. This lightly sparkling beauty is Recommended.
Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose Cabrieres Languedoc (AOP), 13%, €14.95 Bradley’s Cork.
This rosé is one of the new wines added to the Findlater range. It is produced from Cinsault (50%), Grenache (40) and Syrah (10). “Summer in a glass” they claim, full of red fruit and a refreshing zestiness. Sophie Valrose wines are regular award winners (the rosé indeed picked up another gong at the recent National Off Licence Awards).
Colour is a light to mid salmon, more flush than the blush on the label. Strawberries and blossoms in the aromas, round and elegant on the palate, excellent acidity and a decent finish to boot. Summer has been successfully bottled here. Recommended, even in winter!
Passage du Sud Sauvignon Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP) 2016, 11.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s (Cork)
Usually in Gascony, the white wines I've come across are the kind that go well during the holiday. Often they are produced from Ugni Blancand Columbard (used in Armagnac) fruit, great with the local oysters and other seafood but rarely worth bringing home. This Sauvignon Blanc has a bit more going for it and is Recommended.
The Gascony area, in the south west of France, often hosts migrating birds, hence the name on this bottle. The designation Côtes de Gascogne is in the Gers department. Here too you will find Armagnac and Floc de Gascogne (the local aperitif). This is the area where you are strongly advised not to ask for Cognac or Pineau des Charentes (also a good aperitif, as is the Floc, if you can get your hands on them).
This wine, also new to the Findlater list, has a light straw colour. White fruit aromas are matched on the crisp and fruity palate, citrus elements prominent, and a lively acidity. Quite a pleasant surprise this from a generally unconsidered area. Recommended. Good value too.
And Two for The Meal!
Le Petite Source Le Clos Rouge Pays d’Oc (IGP), 12.5%, €11.95 Bradley's, Le Caveau
This is one of the selection of excellent “simple” wines that Le Caveau have on their house wine listings. Under a convenient screw cap, the organic blend is of Grenache, Cinsault and Merlot. It is deliciously light and fruity and a good example of price/quality ration from the Languedoc.
It has a lovely medium ruby colour. It is fresh and fruity (blackberry, raspberry and strawberry), juicy and simple, silky tannins with just a little bite. Well balanced but with a good deal of heft about it and Highly Recommended.
Le Petite Source Le Clos Blanc Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.95 Bradley's, Le Caveau
This 2014 edition (2015 is now available) has a light straw colour. There are rather exotic fruits on the nose. And they follow through to the palate. It is deliciously fresh and fruity, no shortage of acidity. Very refreshing with a longish finish. This well made blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay is Highly Recommended.