Showing posts with label Supervalu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supervalu. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest: Wines, Spirits and Beers. A Wolf in Town!


CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers


At The Bierhaus Cork, this Thursday, 7.30pm
Wicklow Wolf X Anspach & Hobday (London) Tap-takeover
Meet the Wicklow Wolf Team & Anspach & Hobday owner/brewer (Jack Hobday) 
3 Beers from Wicklow Wolf 
3 Beers from Anspach & Hobday 
1 Collaboration beer 
Tastings promos on the night! Details on the Bierhaus Facebook page.

and if you want more Wicklow Wolf then you’ll find them teaming up with their friends Dungarvan Brewing Company at Dungarvan’s Merrys Gastro Pub for a 6 Course Beer Dinner, celebrating Irish Craft Beer on Friday the 23rd November.


Spanish Wine Evening at Rostellan Chocolate
Friday, November 30, 2018 at 7 PM – 9 PM
An evening of tasting 6 varieties of Spanish Wine with cheese and pates. Alejandro from Heart of Spain will present this event which promises to be a fantastic evening. Strictly limited tickets are on sale at an introductory price of €25 each. Contact Peter at 087 2908774 to purchase a ticket.

SuperValu Case Deal

Kate Barry of Barry & Fitzwilliam has been on to tell me about the terrific Villa Maria Case Deal exclusive to SuperValu.

6 different bottles of Villa Maria wine per case.  The RRP for the pack is €105 – it is on offer in selected SuperValu stores at €70.00

The Buy 6 Save €10 starts next Thursday 22nd November and will run until December 24th -  hence this will bring it down to €60.

Please note the Villa Maria Case Deal is a limited offer and once it’s gone it is gone!!

Mezze & wine pairings night in Ardkeen Quality Food Store. 
Join us at the Barista Bar in Ardkeen Quality Food Store on Saturday 24 November for a Mezze & wine pairings night. Husband and wife team Dvir and Nicola of Mezze (Waterford locals) will prepare an authentic Middle Eastern feast with shared plates using the amazing locally sourced produce from Ardkeen Quality Food Store. Experience casual authentic Middle Eastern dining, ideas of how to use local produce to prepare bright and vibrant foods, and learn which wines work best with Middle Eastern flavours - all chosen by resident expert Julie Ward.

Tickets include 4 course vegetarian meal with wine tastings and must be purchased in advance. 


Les Gourmandises have a Malbec wine & dinner on November 27th (7.00pm); details on their Facebook page.

Premium Irish whiskey tasting and 4 course tasting menu at Cronin’s Pub.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 7:30 PM – 10 PM
"Join us in Cronin's Pub, Crosshaven for a premium Irish whiskey tasting and 4 course tasting menu. We will be joined by Irish Distiller's whiskey ambassador Michael Cowman. Each whiskey will be paired with a specially prepared tasting menu from the Mad Fish Kitchen at Cronin's Pub.

Be amongst the first to taste the newly launched Red Spot, 15 Year Old Single Pot Still, which was discontinued in the mid-1960s and now rejoins Green Spot and Yellow Spot in Irish Distillers’ Spot Whiskeys range. It has been created using an old recipe handed down by the Mitchell & Son family of wine merchants, who created the original Spot Whiskeys in the early 1900s. We will be tasting this alongside Yellow Spot 12 Year Old.

This will be a night to remember! Starts at 7.30pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance."

Cillian of Mescan Brewery has a special for you

Westport’s Mescan Brewery
“Delighted to announce the release of our Christmas beer, Beoir na Nollag!

We made a version of the beer 3 years ago and it was a huge success. This year's beer follows the theme but it's a new recipe. It's a strong dark beer 8.8% which was brewed in the spring and was cold conditioned in bulk for 6 months before transfer to Irish Whiskey casks for 2 months of barrel ageing. It was then dry hopped and bottle conditioned. 

The flavour profile is malty, with dry fruits, warming alcohol and sublte notes of whiskey, wood and hops. Over time it will demonstrate an evolving complexity as it matures farther in the bottle so it's a beer that can be enjoyed now or cellared for later drinking. 
We only bottled 1,000 litres but we hope not to run out before Christmas!”

And, speaking of Christmas specials, Eight Degrees have two beauties. Check them out here 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under. Plus Wine News in Brief!

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under
New to SuperValu Range


“We’re living in an age when great big gobfuls of super-ripe juicy red fruit win a lot of plaudits in the wine world. Well, step forward Zin.” 

The quote is from Grapes and Wines as they introduce their account of the Zinfandel grape. No doubt that Zin is a “big robust” grape and revels in hot climates such as California and South Australia and south-east Italy (where it is known as Primitivo). These two are pretty well balanced, very approachable, and will go well with steak, burger, BBQ.

Nugan Estates started as a broad-based agricultural company over six decades ago but are quite a young wine company, only going into grape growing in 2001. They are now a "veritable giant" according to James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia who also says that unlike some, Nugan "has built its business on quality rather than low prices."

Nowadays, with Matthew Nugan in command, they have a very successful export business and are the 13th largest exporter of branded Australian wine. To mark the launch of the two wines into the SuperValu portfolio earlier in the year, the company confirmed they  are “building on new found determination to further develop and improve the Nugan Estate brand and its legacy”. We look forward to that.



Nugan Langhorne Creek Single Vineyard Zinfandel (South Australia) 2015, 15%, €13 (Was €15.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Eighteen months in oak (new and seasoned French and American) has helped concentration and depth here and rich aromas are also promised.

Colour is dark ruby and, true enough there are intense aromas of jammy fruit. On the palate, it is fruity and juicy, pepper and spice, but this big bold wine is balanced, persistent fine tannins and well integrated oak and the high alcohol all playing a role. A hint of caramel and vanilla add a sweetish note in a good finish. This single vineyard Zinfandel, exclusive to SuperValu, is a great mate for BBQ and burger.


Nugan La Brutta Zinfandel Petite Sirah 2016, 15%, €12 (Was €14.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Just spotted on an electronic advert “Unleash the beast” on the side of a pitch holding a Premier League game as I was  unleashing this Australian beast, simply by twisting the screwcap. 

Nugan do seem intent on letting us know that Zin is big and bold, especially here where it’s blended with Petite Sirah. This Sirah is not related to Syrah or Shiraz at all; it is the same grape as Durif and grown mostly in California and in other very warm areas such as Australia. The fruits for this one are grown in Langhorne Creek (South Australia) and the Riverina (New South Wales).

Colour is a deep purple. There are seriously intense aromas, mainly plum. Bold fruit flavours rush across the palate, full-bodied, robust and spicy, with smooth velvety tannins that persist through to a good finish. Like ‘em big? This one’s for you.

Some rather humourous bottle notes tell us that La Brutta is Italian for beast, going on to say this beast takes no prisoners and “make no Mis’steak this is a wine to enjoy with MEAT! A wine that cuts the mustard."

The advert on the football pitch also refers to a drink, the Monster Energy Drink. By coincidence, there is a red bull on the front label of the wine but no sign of wings! 

Wine News in Brief

News from Gary Gubbins at Red Nose Wines about his new Rhone Supplier

“Did you know that the southernmost tip of the Rhone Valley is  actually in Costières de Nîmes ( which lies at the crossroads of the Rhone, Provence and the Languedoc ). We are delighted to finally do business with Chateau de Valcombe – they have 6 wines including 2 organic wines. The vineyard is in fact fully organic but only a small section is currently certified. The rest is in conversion and all will be certified soon.

The certified organic wines have a very particular name. No Sex for Butterfly and its all about a vineyard management technique involving pheromones - click on the wines to understand more. The red is 100% Syrah and the white a blend of Rousanne, White Grenache and Viognier. 


Cliff Townhouse
Spend a leisurely, pleasurable and informative Sunday afternoon (Oct 21st) in Cliff Townhouse with Wines from Spain and Susan Boyle, exploring some of the delicious wines of DO Navarra.
Susan will introduce a selection of wines from Navarra, the unique wine region in northern Spain, close to the Pyrenees, where wine has been produced since Roman times. Stretching 100 kilometres from the valleys of Pamplona to the plains of the Ebro river, the diversity of the climate and landscape of the DO help to produce a variety of diverse and different styles of wine. More details here https://jeansmullen.com/WineDiary/Index/1393

Rhone Wine Week takes place from 3rd to 10th November in venues all over Ireland. So if you’re a fan of Rhone Valley wines, keep an eye out for promotions and events. You can check out the website for full details here: www.rhonewineweekireland.com

SPEED TASTING at L'Atitude

The Most Fun Way to Learn About Wine

Friday 16th November 7.00pm 
 
As the October date sold out very quickly, we have scheduled another Speed Tasting for November 16th.   
 
Open to anyone who likes wine, socializing, having fun and, above all, enjoys a challenge.

Here’s how it works: we teach you the basics of how to taste wine and then it’s over to you – you taste 6 wines over the course of the evening – but you’ll be on the move: a different table, a different wine, different co-tasters. And here’s the fun part…..you taste all the wines blind (i.e. we won’t tell you what each wine is) - it’s up to you to work with your co-tasters to try to guess based on the information provided at the start. There’s a prize for the person who correctly identifies all 6 wines. 

Price €30pp - includes Prosecco reception, introduction to wine tasting, taster of 6 wines & canapés.  

The O'Briens Wine Festival - Winter Edition returns and we cannot wait to welcome you and our winemakers back to Dublin and Cork! With over 300 wines to try and over 60 of the world's best winemakers in attendance, this is a wine lover's event not to be missed!

Clear your diary for Saturday 17th November - Sunday 18th November in Dublin at the The Printworks, Dublin Castle and Thursday 15th November in The Clayton Hotel, Lapps Quay, Cork.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Two Organic Beauties from Le Caveau. Plus Wine Briefs


Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky No. 9 White Blend (Dundee, Oregon, USA) NV, 12%, €24.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is worth trying; it is excellent, in the same way that Gentil from Alsace vineyards can be surprisingly delicious. Gentil are multi-grape blends and so is this non vintage white. The grapes used are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Sémillon, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. It is a non-oaked wine and was introduced in 1998 and this is the 19th edition. 

Evolution No. 9 is a play on the Beatles number Revolution No. 9. Sokol Blosser say the white was created out of the desire to make a fun wine, one that would accompany the modern predilection for "yoking different kinds of food together" and is “very much more than the sum of its very disparate parts”. Pair it with spicy Asian, Indian, Mexican and Caribbean foods. Or with a jambalaya.

Pioneers Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971 in the Dundee Hills. Their 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.


It has a pale straw colour but the juice looks really good and clean in the bottle and you’re thinking this is a good one, your opinion reinforced by the fairly intense mix of lush and tropical aromas. Again that same amalgam of fruit on the smooth palate, a touch of sweetness early on but there is excellent acidity in there too that ensures a satisfying crisp finalé. Very Highly Recommended. The Evolution Big Time Red, was first released in 2012, and is on my list!

Alfredo Maestro Viña Almate Castilla y León (VT) 2016, 14%, €14.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The Tempranillo grapes for this wine are grown in Peñafiel in Ribera del Duero but, according to Spanish Wine Lover, it has always been sold as VT Castilla y León. Le Caveau say the wine is raised for four months in neutral French oak; it is unfined, unfiltered and very low SO2.

Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are quite complex, ripe red fruits prominent. Red fruit flavours too on the generous palate, while a touch of spice heightens the pleasure of this easy drinking young wine. Highly Recommended. This is Alfredo’s flagship wine and Spanish Wine Lover rates it “as outstanding within its type and style”.

From the beginning, in 1998, Alfredo farmed organically, his mantra: “Wine made with only grapes, well-kept vineyards, and healthy land.” With more land and experience now at his disposal, Alfredo is one to watch as the story of his pure and elegant wines evolves.Look out for more well-made wines from the man "known as the 'magician of the Duero’, a prominent exponent of the natural wine movement in Spain.
Wine briefs
SuperValu's current wine sale continues until October 10th and is headlined by their mix and match offer of 6 bottles for €50.00. Plenty of choice so I had quick look and here's my half-dozen, three white and three red.

1  ABELLIO ALBARIÑO
ARESTI TRISQUEL SAUVIGNON BLANC
BURDIZZO VERMENTINO TOSCANA 
HOMMAGE DU RHONE VINSOBRES
CHATEAU HAUT BERTINERIE RED
CASA DE LA ERMITA CRIANZA

O'Brien's have dozens of wines of offer also for the month but what really caught my eye is their Organic Wine Masterclass on October 18th. Details below:

Introduced by expert Sommelier François Pages from Gérard Bertrand, guests will be led through a selection of Gérard Bertrand’s finest wines, including the exquisite single-vineyard, Clos d’Ora. Learn about the organic and biodynamic philosophies that are at the heart of each Gérard Bertrand wine and the meticulous attention to detail in the cellar.

The Masterclass will begin at 7.30pm and a light cheese board will be served to accompany the wines. 


Tickets: €25 - Available online HERE

There'll be a discount on the night for any orders placed on Gérard Bertrand wines.
Date: Thursday October 18th
Time: 7.30pm
Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 2.


A week earlier, SPIT – out of the Ordinary wines from artisan wineries represented by four independent wine companies, GrapeCircus, Nomad, VinosTito and WineMason - will be held on October 11th in The Chocolate Factory (Dublin). Details here.

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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

SuperValu Freshen Up Wine Offering. Two Whites and a Super Red


SuperValu Freshen Up Wine Offering
Two Whites and a Superb Red

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!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Two Recommended Irish Whiskeys


Pearse 5 Year Old Single Malt Whiskey, 46% abv, exclusively at SuperValu €80.00.

Something amazingly clean about this, the crispness of the fruit (apple, citrus), the toast of the oak, a waft of pepper, and the clove notes, all there from the start to the lingering finish. Spice and citrus also feature in the aromas and the malt too of course. Nothing overly complex here, just pleasant clean lines, not unlike the lines of the stained glass windows in the Church of St James in Dublin, the home of the Pearse Lyons Distillery.*

It has been wholly produced and aged in Ireland.  Using Irish malted barley and their own special yeast strain, the whiskey spirit was produced on the unique pair of copper pot stills imported from Kentucky and aged in bourbon casks from their distillery in Lexington Kentucky.

The unique design of the unusual small-batch copper stills is credited with giving the whiskey a special character. The wash still, christened ‘Mighty Molly’, includes a “neck and ball” configuration which assists in refining the spirit character in the first step of distillation. The spirit still, ‘Little Lizzie’,  features four rectification plates that further purify and refine the spirit collected, harnessing the fullness, complexity and refinement of flavour of a double-distilled Irish Whiskey.

A Malt Whiskey, by the way, is made solely from malted barley in copper pot stills. A single malt is the product of a single distillery.

Conor Ryan, Global Whiskey Ambassador at the Pearse Lyons Distillery spoke at the recent launch: “As with the other whiskeys produced at the Pearse Lyons Distillery, the Pearse 5-year-old Single-Malt features no additional colourings, so the colour you see has been purely produced in the natural barrel ageing process. The maturation process has an enormous influence on the flavour profile of the end product whiskey with the length of time, quality and previous use of the barrel being the crucial components. We are lucky to have a fantastic supply of fresh used ex bourbon casks which we source from our sister distillery in Kentucky which contributes vanilla, toasted wood, fruity and spicy notes to the final product.”


The bottle design has been inspired by St James Church, the home of the Pearse Lyons Distillery.  The centrepiece of the label features the octagonal spire, the view seen when looking up from inside the distillery and the colour scheme reflects the copper stills which were used to produce the whiskey. Each of the limited-edition bottles has been individually numbered and the first bottle will be positioned in pride of place at the Pearse Lyons Distillery in the Liberties.

* Based on 5cl sample.


Tullamore D.E.W. Trilogy Irish Whiskey, 40%, €65.00 during distillery tour.

I enjoyed this one when I tasted it during a summer visit to the distillery, well the visitor centre, in Tullamore and enjoyed it even better when I poured from the bottle the other night.

The amber draws you in, as do the aromas of tropical fruit and sweet spice. On the palate it is rich and mellow, soft and full bodied, very approachable (more so with a few, a very few, drops of water) and there is a long and richly satisfying finish. One for the short list!

The Trilogy name refers in part at least to the fact that three different types of cask have been used. It was matured in Sherry and Bourbon and finished off in Rum casks. The deeper colour comes from the wood as well.

But where did the basic whiskey itself come from? The distillery operated between 1829 and the early 1950s and was revived by William Grant in 2010 so not their own whiskey obviously. I’ve read it came from Midleton and Bushmills. Three types of whiskey too, pot still, malt and grain, each triple distilled, the combination also a trilogy.

We’ll let the distillery have the final word - note the three generations: “Our 15 Year Old Trilogy is the very pinnacle of our craft. Across three generations of Williams, the three unique crafts of distillation, blending and maturation in finest oak were honed.” 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dream Comes True for Athula. New Production Facility Opened


Dream Comes True for Athula
New Production Facility Opened 
Happy Day!


A dream came through for Athula Kuruppu Achchige in Carrigaline yesterday when his state of the art production facility was officially opened in the local industrial estate. His immediate family from Cork and Sri Lanka, along with many friends, were present on this happy occasion for a man who has worked hard on his long journey to Cork.

A 26 year long civil war in his own country in 1983; that and growing family responsibilities forced him abroad to look for work as a chef. He couldn't be choosy and went where the agents sent him and that included Iraq (where he was head chef at an American base) and then Bahrein airport’s VIP Lounge (where he cooked for local and world leaders passing through).
County Mayor Declan Hurley (left) and local TD Michael McGrath open Athula's spanking new unit in Carrigaline.

Eventually, in 2005, he headed for Ireland and a job in the Hayfield Manor. In 2012, he opened his own restaurant Rooster Pil Pil in Ballincollig. But what he really wanted to do was to produce his own sauces and, with help from the local enterprise office, that became a really in recent years.

He was advised to go to the farmers markets and see if his products would sell. They did and he got an opportunity to find his feet in the new Cork County Council Incubator Kitchens (also in Carrigaline). He has proved himself there and now, again with local authority help and a large investment of his own, has a wonderful state of the art stream-lined production facility.
Great to congratulate Athula on his big day!

His first products, a range of Peri Peri Sauces (from mild to hot), went down well. And now he is also producing a few curry sauces including Jalfrezi, Tikka Masala and Korma. The products are available in 35 SuperValu stores, over 30 independents and now just coming onto the shelves in Aldi. And soon he’ll be selling spices and high quality Ceylon teas from his homeland.

Athula Fusion Foods
Unit 11, Carrigaline Industrial Estate
Kilnageary Road
Carrigaline
Co. Cork

Call 087 136 7525



Sunday, February 25, 2018

Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too. French Wine Fest At SuperValu


Allez Les Rouges. And The Whites Too
French Wine Fest At SuperValu.

The French have taken over the wine aisle of your local SuperValu and they’ll be entrenched until the last day of the month. So you'd best get in there quickly and take advantage of the current generosity. Some big cuts in regular prices here and other tempting offers; watch out for case deals and also get another ten euro off if you buy six bottles.

The Reds
Remy Ferbras Vacqueyras (AOP) 2015, 14%, €12.00 (20.99)


Colour is ruby red and ripe dark fruits abound in the inviting mix of aromas. There is a great balance between the ripe fruit and spices, plus a hint of liquorice, impressive texture, full bodied and rounded.  A good bottle to have on your table at this time of year, great with duck and roast meat dishes, and also the goat now being sold by Eoin O’Mahony in the English Market. It is SuperValu’s Wine of the Month and Very Highly Recommended. Note that massive discount!

Vacqueyras is one of the nine villages in the Southern Rhone that is allowed its own name as the AOC name. The others are Cairanne (the most recent, 2016), Rasteau, Vinsobres, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Lirac, Tavel and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and all nine are regarded as crus.

The village itself is small and tree lined. Indeed, when I called there a few years back, the summer canopy of leaves had the centre in deep shade in the early afternoon. Looked a bit unreal.

Homage du Rhone Vinsobres (AC) 2015, 15%, €12.00 (15.99)

Vinsobres may not be as well known as its fellow Rhone wine Vacqueyras but it is well worth checking out. Grapes allowed in the Vinsobres are Grenache (50% minimum), Syrah (25%) and/or Mourvedre, other varieties allowed 25% max. Serve, they suggest, at 16 to 17 degrees, with Provencal dishes of lamb or game. Goat perhaps?!

Colour is mid-purple and the legs are indeed slow to clear (as you'd expect with the high ABV). Aromas are rather intense, plum and cherry prominent. Spice and fruit lead on the palate, an intense tango; tannins there too but they are gentle. Bring on the red meat, that game, a stew perhaps, then the cheese. With this in our cups, we are well prepared. Highly Recommended.

Chateau Mauleon Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany (AOP) 2014, 13%, €10.00 (11.99)

This mid to deep purple wine features strong red to darker fruits in the aromas, floral hints too. There is a spicy introduction with strong fruit, the tannins close to velvety. Quite an impressive assemblage of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache. Recommended. Pairing dishes suggested are Mountain ham, Pata Negra, Rack of Lamb (with spices), or Pork chops (with herbs of Provence, stuffed tomatoes or mushrooms and cream).


Les Blancs

Andre Goichot Mâcon-Lugny (AC) 2016, 13%, €10.00 (14.99)

This is a terrific example of French Chardonnay from the grape’s birth place (there is a village called Chardonnay a short drive away). After a few years of tasting, I am coming to the conclusion that most AG wines are good and that quite a few are very good indeed.

This has a very light strawy colour. A nose of stone fruits, floral notes too. Palate features flavours of those fruits (peach, nectarine, apricot) plus apple and citrus too, a crisp acidity, and some minerality also. Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way.



Andre Goichot Pouilly-Fuissé (AC) Les Feuilles d’Or 2014, 13%, €16.00 (22.99)

Colour is a medium gold and there are aromas of citrus and white fruits among quite a medley. In the mouth, it is smooth, close to creamy, richly fruited and soft with good acidity too plus a lingering finish. An elegant wine indeed, one of my favourites from the sale, and Very Highly Recommended. 

La Baume Elisabeth Viognier Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2016, 14%, €10.00 (12.99)

This friendly, fresh and fruity white wine has a light, and bright, straw colour. Inviting white fruit aromas, floral notes also. The palate delivers a delicious mixture of citrus, peach and apricot flavours, a little tingle too, even a hint of sweetness, yet the fresh finish that follows is lip-smackingly dry. Highly Recommended. Sufficiently full-bodied to pair with Asian cuisine.


Others to note in the sale
Chateau Camp De La Hire 2010 (Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux), 13%, €12.00 (15.99)

Intense colour here; the fruity aromas are also quite intense. Medium to full bodied, with soft tannins, it is fresh and elegant, well balanced and pleasingly complex with long finalé. Highly Recommended.

This is not the Bordeaux of the big chateaux. But the same grapes are used, mainly Merlot in this case. Castillon, one of four Cotes de Bordeaux areas, is squeezed between the Dordogne River to the south, St Emilion (no less) to the immediate west and the Dordogne department to the east.

Alchimie Sauvignon Blanc (Coteaux du Giennois AOC), €12.00 (14.99)

This little known little appellation (202 hectares) on the eastern edge of the Loire Valley northeast of Sancerre (4181 ha) produces almost equal amounts of light-bodied red and white wines. With extensions of Sancerre limestone geological formations into the area, you can expect good Sauvignon Blanc and this doesn't disappoint. Highly Recommended.

Fancy a little sparkler? Try Andre Guichot Vin Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Brut €12.00 (17.99).

Price in brackets indicates the normal price per bottle.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Franciacorta, An Italian Gem. Best of Bubbles.


Franciacorta, An Italian Gem
Best of Bubbles. 


Alma Gran Cuvée Bellavista Brut Franciacorta (DOCG), 12.5%, €52.99, Wine Online.

From Franciacorta in Lombardy, to the south of Lake Iseo and to the west of the better-known Lake Garda, comes some of Italy’s finest sparkling wine and it’s not Prosecco. Franciacorta is made in the same way as champagne, with the second fermentation in the bottle, all the better for the character of the wine. 

For the past forty years, Vittorio and Francesca Moretti have been producing excellent Franciacorta at their Bellavista estate. Our bottle has a blend of 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Blanc.

It has a light straw colour with green tints. There are intense fountains of long-lasting small bubbles, pin-point and tiny. You may well note in the aromas the biscuit characters that turn up in good champagne, white fruit notes too including peach and citrus, plus floral and vanilla hints. It is intense also on the palate, fine, silky, beautifully balanced and then a lip-smackingly dry finish. Definitely makes a very good impression from first acquaintance and Very Highly Recommended.

Better than most Prosecco and as good as many Champagnes, this lovely wine is a welcome aperitif. Remember though that those bubbles go to the head faster than normal wines, so do provide a few nibbles, eg toasted almonds or cheese bits.

Interestingly, the area was once well-known for metallurgy and firearms (including the Beretta handgun, made outside of Brescia). Now, besides sparkling wine, it has some great cheeses such as Taleggio, Gran Padano and Gorgonzola. Franciacorta is a relatively recent phenomenon. "In 1968, there was nothing here," Maurizio Zanella, the unofficial ambassador of the wine, is quoted as saying.



Bargain Bubbles
Gran Troya Cava Brut NV 11.5%, €12.00 SuperValu

At a recent wine dinner in Cork, Irish Times writer John Wilson declared that Cava is getting better and better, “different, distinctive”. Yet many of us have yet to discover the Spanish sparkler, made in the same way as Champagne. This bottle, bought at twelve euro just before Christmas, is quite a good introduction. Recommended!

Colour is a pale yellow and there is no shortage of tiny bubbles rising to the top and forming a ring around the perimeter of the glass. It is intense and fruity with a long dry finish. A classic Cava. The grapes used are the traditional Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada “from our own vineyards”. Chardonnay is allowed but not used in this case. Try with olives, grilled almonds.

Covides Viñedos y Bodegas are the leading wine co-op in Catalonia in terms of volume and make their Cava using the método tradicional (same as Champagne). That means a thorough selection to get the best fruit, a careful blending process, secondary fermentation and subsequent ageing in the cellars at Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, a small town not too far from Barcelona. 


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Excellent Spanish Organic Wine at SuperValu.

Flor de Anon Garnacha Campo de Borja (DO) 2015, 14.5%, €11.99 SuperValu

Red cherry is the attractive colour; quite light and could be mistaken in appearance for a Pinot Noir or Gamay. Nothing shy about the intense and complex mix of red and dark berries in the aromas (floral notes too). On the rounded palate it is engaging, the lingering concentrated fruit is well balanced by the acidity and the flavours fade hardly at all in the long soft finish. Easy drinking and Very Highly Recommended. Good value too, by the way.

So a quality organic from a  supermarket! Whatever next? It is not the first organic from Kevin O’Callaghan and his team at SuperValu but is one that has been highly anticipated. It is produced from the fruit of 20 year old vines and you are recommended to serve it between 14 and 16 degrees.

Campo de Borja doesn’t exact spring to mind if you are asked to name a Spanish wine region. I looked it up for you! It is an inland area in the north east, some 45 minutes north-west of Zaragoza, 75 minutes south-east of Logrono (Rioja). Your Supervalu though will be easier to find!


*Just noticed, on a leaflet via our post box, that SuperValu have an interesting organic wine from the Languedoc as Wine of the Month. You can get the Grain De Bio Des Terres De Gaujac for ten euro, marked down from €12.99. Great colour, great nose, full and smooth, according to the blurb. Sounds good. Must get my hands on one.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Meet The Producers. All Winners at Blas2017 in Dingle

Meet The Producers
All Winners at Blas2017 in Dingle

(This is Part Two on the evening in the bank. See Part One here.)
Aoife of Galtee Honey

Bank of Ireland Startups, who helped get the successful Backyard feature off the ground during this year’s Blas Awards in Dingle, hosted a number of follow-up events last Tuesday, including one at their premises in Patrick Street, Cork. Joe McNamee was the moderator for the evening and the principal speakers were Artie Clifford of Blas and local chef Kate Lawlor. After the welcome and introductions, Joe asked Aoife of Galtee Honey Farm  to tell her story.

Aoife was brought into bee-keeping by her father and she said provenance was very important. “Genuine Irish honey has great flavour and complexity. It is because of our great bio-diversity, different flowers, different flavours. The native Irish black bees are under threat and we as a group are trying to preserve them”.

“Labelling is a problem, the public can be misled quite easily. Do check the label. Blas can help with awareness. Quality will cost more so Irish will cost more. This summer was great, we won't be running out of honey before the next harvest.”

Francis, a West Cork man, is with North Cork Creameries. “It is a small co-op, one of the originals. We sell milk and butter under our Kanturk brand and we also supply Supervalu. The butter is available in the Kanturk area and in Supervalus in the region generally.” Joe added that a lot of the milk in the supermarkets is not coming from the cattle you see grazing in the Republic’s fields but from indoor herds across the border.
Francis of North Cork Creameries


All of the producer speakers were winners at Blas 2017 and Avril, representing Caherbeg Pork, Ross-carbery Recipes,  and, most recently, Rosscarbery Biltong, is no stranger to Blas awards. 

Son Maurice is following in her footsteps with the Biltong, a dried beef product of African origin. Indeed, the machines used in West Cork are from Africa. Both Maurice and brother William are big into fitness and that inspired the move. He wouldn't be an Allshire if he didn't focus on quality and he does. Had a taste the other evening and no wonder it won a silver in Dingle. Seaweed and spice have been added and it is a handy and well priced packet.
Avril (Rosscarbery Recipes) and, right, Kate Lawlor

Avril just loves Blas and Dingle: “Food is at the core of it but the people make it. You are never on your own.”

More butter, but with a twist, as Mary and Billy from Waterford took to the stage with their Irish Gourmet Butter. They are in the early stages of development but still advanced enough to feature in Dingle where their Garlic & Herb stood out. Their butter is flavoured: cranberry and orange and Cointreau (have it with the Christmas pud) and cinnamon and honey (ideal on French Toast) are two examples. They are building on a long family tradition as Granny was an All-Ireland Butter Champion so food is in the family.
Artie and Tom Durcan (right)

Tom Durcan is a spice beef master and the Corkman is a huge supporter of the Blas Awards. “When I won in Blas, I milked it, got great contracts from it. It is definitely the most honest food competition going. To win, or even to be a finalist, opens doors. Do something, do it right, the world’s your oyster. Blas is a fantastic road for anyone in food to take. Great help available there. Thanks to Artie and to everyone involved.”

Sarah from Nut Case hasn't got quite the long experience of Tom but she too acknowledged the value of Blas. Their nut burger won gold this year. “It makes such a difference to us when we call to the shops.” We is Sarah and husband Mick who, in 2006, was made redundant. But he then took the 12-week course in Ballymaloe and they began checking their aunt’s nut business in the UK.
Sarah of Nut Case

They started Nut Case with a Nut Roast but after entering the SuperValu Academy found that their burger was outselling the roast. So they concentrated on the burger and their judgement was confirmed with that gold in Dingle. It is popular and they have many repeat customers. They place great value too on Farmers Markets, learning from the feed back.

“It is still early days, still doing it all by hand. Very time consuming but very satisfying. We are now included on the Body Chef menu so it’s a good success story for us”.

Joe McNamee then asked Kate Lawlor if she had any concerns for the Irish food story and she pointed to misleading labels and Artie agreed. They both hope that education in food, from an early age, can help counter this problem. And both agreed that if your product is being misrepresented, that you are fully entitled to shout long and loud about it.

Mary and Billy of Gourmet Butter
talk to Joe McNamee (left)
But McNamee wanted to finish on a positive note and prompted the main pair. Kate: “We are getting known for our food culture. We are value for money. We need to keep the small suppliers going. It is an exciting time.”

Artie: “I’d like to see it continue as it’s going, state agencies and producer groups pulling together. We have the raw ingredients and they are now being better used, the freshest, the best, all driven by passion, our biggest selling point. From bar food to silver service, the quality of Irish food is high and can improve even further.”

Reckon Joe got his wish there. And we had all seen the passion from the producers on the night. Consumers are key too. Check that label and buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together the further we can go.

This is Part Two on the evening in the bank. See Part One here.