Showing posts with label Tandem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tandem. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Gorgeous Valpolicella Ripasso. And a couple to note when dining out.

A Gorgeous Valpolicella Ripasso.

And a couple to note when dining out. 

Musella Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2017, 14%, O’Briens Wine €24.45

Musella is an organic family-run winery and one of the "13 Amarone Families", a group regarded as the best producers in the Veneto region, in the Northeast of Italy. Musella value their local grapes (grown in the predominantly limestone soil), including those in this blend:  Corvina and Corvinone 85%, Rondinella 10% and Barbera 5%.

The colour of the blend is a bright ruby red. And the nose draws you in further with aromas of red fruits and spices. The palate is full of vibrant cherry flavours, smooth for sure, and with the most perfect balance. And it finishes well and long with more fruit (raspberry included now) and some herbal notes plus a gentle touch of tannin on the lips. A very engaging Valpolicella indeed, complex yet quaffable,  and Very Highly Recommended.

The concentration here is the result of the Ripasso method. Ripasso (re-passed) wines are made by fermenting young Valpolicella wine with the unpressed but drained skins and lees left over from making Amarone and this process can give the Ripasso a “super-charge”. Read more details about the method here.

Suggested pairings are cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Nutroast, Pheasant/Pigeon, Pizza/Pasta, Rib-Eye Steak, Sirloin/Striploin/Rump steak.

By the way, I was just reading there in Vino Italiano that Valpolicella means “valley of many cellars” (vallis polis cellae). The Modern History of Italian Wine though, says the POL refers to large mounds of sand and gravel left behind after flooding in the local river but goes on to confirm that “this great land of wines has always practiced the characteristic technique of over-ripening and drying the grapes”.

Wine Folly has proposed a hierarchy of Valpolicella blended wines with our Ripasso in the middle. Above it are Recioto Della Valpolicella and Amarone Della Valpolicella while below are plain Valpolicella Superior and Valpolicella Classico. So now you know!

The Veneto (capital: Venice) is one of the 20 Italian regions and has a population of about five million.

Two O’Briens Spotted In The Wild

(Well, in restaurants really!)

Bodega Tandem Casual blanco 

I was surprised to find this one on the by-the-glass list (also by the bottle of course) in the Michelin Bib Gourmand Restaurant CUSH in beautiful Ballycotton. 

You rarely see Viura as a house white in Irish restaurants. Tandem's gorgeous Casual, with its elegant nose (floral and fennel) and its vibrant, fresh and mineral palate, could change all that. The wine, from Navarra, was superb with the halibut.

They like their Latin in this Spanish winery, even the Tandem is Latin. The wine name here is from the word casualis, accidentally, luckily. It is the only thing accidental about this wine though,  a beautifully made Viura from a gorgeous plot. Viura is perhaps best known as the main white grape in Rioja but has obviously crossed into neighbouring Navarra. In the rest of Spain it is known as Macabeu.

It has been fermented in stainless steel with its wild yeasts at 15-16ºC for 32 days and aged on its lees for 4 months at 16ºC. Recommended serving temperature is 12 degrees.

Lagar de Costa Geal Albariño

Geal Albariño is made on an artisanal scale by O’Briens Wine Director Lynne Coyle MW and the family owned Lagar de Costa winery in Rías Baixas, Spain. Most of these vineyards are very small and Lynne told us at a recent Albariño tasting that the Lagar de Costa winery has 11 hectares and is regarded as quite large.

The wine was aged on lees in a single concrete egg for eight months bringing complexity and depth. Geal Albariño is dry, refreshing, and lightly textured with green fruit notes, a hint of white peach and a lingering salinity making it an ideal wine for seafood. 

Geal by the way is the Irish and Scottish (Lynne is Scottish) for bright. Most of you will have come across it in school; if you don’t remember, check out the pronunciation here. 

In Nell’s, the new wine bar in MacCurtain Street, Cork, we took Aine’s advice and ordered a glass of the Geal and it went well with their lovely Fennel infused Nocellara olives.

It is also perfect with shellfish and seafood. The vineyard is right alongside the Atlantic and the vines grow on granitic soil. So that, and the fact the some of the roots are more or less in the water, may account for the traces of salinity in the Geal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

O'Briens Spanish Wine sale from 21st July to 2nd August

 O'Briens Spanish Wine Sale

 from 21st July to 2nd August 

Here's two to start with!

Ars Nova Navarra (DO) 2014, 14%, €13.96 (was €17.45)

Dark ruby is the colour of this fresh and elegant blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the northern fringe of the Navarra wine region. The darker berries (blackcurrant, blackberries) and herb-y notes feature in the aromas and accompany the wine onto the palate as well. It’s complex with spice also in the melange. But it is that fresh acidity that helps harmony reign in this blend and lifts Are Nova into the Very Highly Recommended category.

Founder José María Fraile: “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights, and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.”

Tandem was founded in 2003 by José María along with Alicia Eyaralar, and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona.

This rich and complex red has been aged a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. Open, decant and let it breathe for half an hour before enjoying with a roast leg of lamb (or duck!).

The Latin Ars Nova translates to new art and indeed Ars Nova was a musical movement in the 14th Century which brought about the advent of volume in music. And Tandem thought this very applicable to their philosophy of this wine which also has their trademark acidity. 

Watch out also for other Tandem wines on offer, including Ars in Vitro Tandem Mácula, and Tandem Inmácula

Granbazán Etiqueta Verde Albariño Rias Baixas (DO) 2019, 13% €14.95 was €19.95

A few years ago, at a tasting in Cork, a wine professional’s statement that you never get a bad Albarino met with general agreement by those at the tasting table. What you do get however are some really excellent ones, that stand out from the crowd. This Granbazán is one of the stand outs, even if it's not their number one Albarino.

Colour of this gem is a light golden straw. Citrus aromas are expected and present, not so much the green apple though. The palate is outstandingly flavoursome, complex and zesty, citrus-y and briny with a slight spritz. Amazingly fresh acidity, dry of course and that slightly saline aftertaste. A striking mix of flavours that make you think fish for pairing, everything from ceviche to fish tacos, from mussels to plump oysters, from sardines to sushi. Very Highly Recommended.

O’Briens agree: A perfect match to any seafood. From the team behind our perennial-favourite, Contrapunto Albariño, Etiqueta Verde comes from the beautiful Bodegas Granbazán estate in the heart of the Salnés Valley in Rías Baixas. 

The winemakers tells us that the fruit comes from vineyards of over 35 years old, “from a soil with high granite content, on the banks of the Arousa estuary, and with a strong Atlantic personality .A classic Albariño with the characteristics of the Salnés subzone. Destemmed and cold macerated for 6 to 8 hours. Controlled fermentation in a stainless Steel tank. Rest on its fine lees without batonage. Bottled 4 to 5 months after fermantation is complete”. A

And they add more pairings: spicy white meats and cheeses such as Camembert and San Simón (both from cows milk, soft and creamy) or Cabrales (a famous blue cheese).

As mentioned above, the Granbazán Contrapunto Albariño is a customer favourite in O'Briens and is massively reduced to €12.95 and another to look for is Granbazán Limousin.


With close on 90 wines reduced, the sale covers most of the Spanish regions. There is even a six bottle offer of Rioja. Some of the major producers are listed, including Torres. Many of you will be familiar with Campo Viejo - look out for their Garnacha.

And being Spain, it is not just still wines. There are at least two interesting sherries on the reduced list. Toro Albalá Fino Eléctric, from the lesser known Montilla-Moriles region, is made from the Pedro Ximenez grape but, instead of being sweet as you might expect, is bone dry. They also produce an Oloroso from the same grape and that too is reduced. And they both come in the smaller 50cc size, making them convenient to try!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

A Cork gin, GF beer, Tandem Wines at O'Briens. And more on wine, beer and spirits in Cheers #20

A Cork gin, GF beer, Tandem Wines at O'Briens.
And more on wine, beer and spirits in Cheers #20
Bhagya and Robert

Rebel City Distillery is a boutique distillery situated in the heart of Cork’s Docklands. Founded in 2020, Rebel City Distillery is the first distillery in Cork city for almost 50 years. Over the last year we have painstakingly renovated the old Ford Building and transformed it into a fully functional distillery where we create, distil and bottle a unique range of spirits on-site. The distillery will produce premium spirits, which draw inspiration from around the world. Read more here.


We have a range of uniquely crafted beers; our renowned pale ale, a beautiful Irish red ale, an award winning black IPA, the best stout you've ever tasted, our balanced IPA and seasonals such as our Pilsner Ól-e. Everything we do is 100% gluten free.    

Check all the latest here



Bodega Tandem was founded in 2003 by Alicia Eyaralar (right), José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving friends. The winery is situated in the Yerri Valley in the northern Spanish region of Navarra.
Winemaker Elicia Eyaralar uses traditional, minimum intervention winemaking techniques in the modern boutique winery. The tanks are gravity fed and the wines undergo minimum filtration to give the best expression of the grapes. Stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels are used for winemaking and maturation.
Discover more about their wines at O'Briens here.

We'd like to remind visitors to Micil Distillery that you can rest assured you are in safe hands when you visit our distillery.
Our team are members of the Fáilte Ireland COVID-19 Safety Charter and have completed training to operate all of our tours and tastings in line with current public health advice.
Since reopening, we've reduced the capacity on our tours to ensure the safety of our guests.
This, of course, means spaces are limited so booking is advisable.
To find out more about the Micil Distillery Experience, and how you can book your spot, visit #MakeABreakForIt #MicilDistillery #TheSpiritOfGalway

Game of Thrones or Game of Rhônes?
Laurent Plantevin from Domaine Plantevin gets hands on with this years' harvest.

Lords and ladies, brothers and warriors — Wine is coming!

Game of Rhônes is the celebration of the great grape varieties of the Rhône Valley. The Rhône Valley has a reputation that precedes itself. It has been a hub of wine culture since Roman times and has earned an international standing for rigorous production that yields outstanding wines. Wines Direct are in the Rhone game and have 6 and 12 bottle cases here.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Class in Glass from Navarra's Tandem Winery

Class  in  Glass  from  Navarra's  Tandem  Winery

Latin is a theme at the Navarra based Tandem winery. Tandem itself is Latin for “finally” (and nothing to do with cycling in this case) while the names of the individual wines are in Latin (or derived from it): Casual, Inmacula, Ars In Vitro, Ars Nova, Macula, Ars Memoria, and Inmune.

Tandem was founded in 2003 by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. 

Speaking in Cork in 2018, Jose Maria said: “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights, and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.”

The Ars in Vitro (art in glass) is an unfiltered, unoaked red wine with fruit and fragrance and a silky palate. “How wine for me should taste,” remarked Tandem’s Jose Maria Frail, speaking in Cork’s 12 Tables. 
With Jose Maria (left) in Cork 2019

This has been raised in concrete. “Nowadays, concrete is accepted, the epoxy lining has made the difference, more complexity, more tannins, more colour, finesse and elegance.” 

It is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot. And yes, that acidity is there too, making it a versatile wine at the table. Enjoy, as I did recently,  this complex red, its long lasting red and dark fruit flavours. Fresh, enjoyable, pleasant and ideal for any occasion.

O’Briens say:  “..classy red from a boutique, quality obsessed producer in Navarra…  expresses the pure cool climate Yerri Valley Tempranillo and Merlot fruit without the use of oak".

Dark ruby is the colour here. Joes Maria, as you would expect, had this spot-on at 12 Tables, summing up the blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as fresh, fruity and long. “More complex, more spice and great with lamb.” Great too with duck as I found out later.

This rich and complex red has been aged a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. Open, decant and let it breathe for half an hour before enjoying with a roast leg of lamb (or duck!).

The Latin Ars Nova translates to new art and indeed Ars Nova was a musical movement in the 14th Century which brought about the advent of volume in music. And Tandem thought this very applicable to their philosophy of this wine which also has their trademark acidity. 

Importers O’Brien are also very happy with this one: “One of the finest reds we have seen from Navarra; only a producer performing at the very highest level is capable of making such a wine - a masterpiece in innovation and testament to the passion of this boutique winery.” 

Music to Jose Maria’s ears and to those of Tandem’s customers. Play on, maestro!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Focus on Winter Reds plus some Valentine's tips, all part of O’Briens Wine February Promotion

Focus on Winter Reds just a small part of O’Briens Wine February Promotion.
And then there's Valentines!

Taking a look here at two of the winter reds, a small part of the O’Briens Wine February promotion. February is also the Valentine’s month and with that in mind, the sparkling wines are also in the frame and we have a few tips for you.

Tandem “Bolído” Valle de Yerri Navarra (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €12.71 (16.95) O’Briens Wine Promotion (3rd Feb to 8th Mar).

Dark ruby robe. Rich mix of aromas, red and black fruits. And so it continues through the rich and silky palate, fruit and spice in harmonious tandem. A lively acidity also and that should help it on the table. Excellent finish as well. Easy-drinking and Highly Recommended.

Tandem are based in northern Spain's Navarra region and produce some of O’Brien's most popular reds. This is an unoaked blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. The wine is aged on its lees in concrete vats for 24 months to give a richness to the body weight. The cool climate of the Yerri Valley helps maintain freshness and acidity in the wine.

The vineyard itself is at the foot of the Camino de Santiago in the Yerri Valley. Cool microclimate, sustainable farming and minimal intervention philosophy are all harnessed to good effect. The winery is built north-facing and partially underground to enable the use of a gravity system.

Ortas Côte Du Rhone (AOC) Réserve 2018, 14%, €11.21 (14.95) O’Briens Wine Promotion (3rd Feb to 8th Mar).

Bought some good stuff here in Rasteau, in this particular local coop, a few years back and, since then, have had a soft spot for wines from the Rhone village. This Côte du Rhone, a blend of Grenache (70%), Cinsault (20) and Carignan (10), is mid to dark ruby. Spicy red fruit and blackcurrant, a touch of pepper and smoke. Juicy and spicy also on the palate, some wild fruit in there too. Tannins close to smooth and a lovely warm finish. Highly Recommended. Try this young wine with roast chicken, lamb dishes and goats cheese and more.

Rasteau, about 40 minutes east of the Rhone, sits on a hill in the Vaucluse, one of the five departments of Provence and the climate is typically Mediterranean (meaning a high level of grape maturity). It is to the north of better known villages such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise. The village also has the distinction of making fortified wines (vin doux naturel) including a deep coloured red.

Love Bubbles
If you want to produce a bottle of bubbles on Valentine's night, you'll have a huge choice at O'Brien's. Some 16 wines have their prices cut, everything from Mito Frizzante (now at 8.95) to Bollinger Rosé (now at 68.00, that's with 15 euro off).

Rizzardi are one of the big names in Italian wine and their Frizzante Prosecco is available at 12.50 (two for 25). Step up to their Spumante (more bubbles) for 17.95. Lots of you though will probably plump for the romantically named Romeo & Juliet Spumante Rosé at a very reasonable 14.95.

One of my favourites is the Granzamy Brut NV Champagne.The only grape used in this stunning champagne is the black Pinot Meunier, leaving both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the other regular champagne grapes) out of this particular equation.

It has an inviting eye-catching light gold colour - the bubbles look even better! Aromas are light and fruity (strawberry). Light fruit on the palate also, refreshing and well-rounded, well balanced with a lip-smacking long finish with typical brioche aftertaste. Reduced by a fiver to 29.95.

And another sure to please is the Petaluma Croser Rosé NV, Adelaide HillsThis lovely bottle of bubbles is from Australia. 
Produced from Pinot Noir grapes, it comes in a gorgeous pastel salmon hue in which fountains of micro-bubbles constantly rise. There are delicate scents of strawberry and pomegranate. The palate is more intense than the nose, strawberry again and now cherry as well, and a pleasing refined finish. Now at 24.95 instead of 27.95. Enjoy the bubbles and the love!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

My Shortcut Through 228 Wines at O'Brien's Festival Cork

My Shortcut Through 228 Wines at O'Brien's Festival Cork

Jose Maria and Yours Truly

The amazing O’Brien’s Winter Wine Festival posed a problem or two, even for experienced tasters, at the Clayton Hotel  in Cork on Thursday evening. No problem at all with the wines, just the sheer scale of it: no less than 228 wines on show. My solution was generally to take the organic route and that worked out well enough. 

And that gave me time enough to catch up with friends, such as John Wilson who was launching his Wilson On Wine 2020 and Jose Maria Frail owner of the small family-owned Tandem Winery in Spain’s Navarra.

Indeed I had planned to attend the Tandem masterclass in an adjoining room but it was booked out in no time. Still, there was the considerable consolation of attending the masterclass on the wines of Germany’s Lingenfelder Estate, given by Georg, a member of the 14th generation of the family that has been making wine here for some 500 years! We’ll return to that and to John Wilson’s book later this week.

A few years ago, we enjoyed a lovely lunch and wines at the Lynch-Bages owned restaurant, Café Lavinal, in the village of Bages, at the gates of the Chateau. JM Cazes are the owners of Lynch-Bages and also own high-quality sites in key wine regions. Our “starter” on Thursday was the Michel Lynch Organic Bordeaux Blanc, an attractive aromatic blend of Sauvignon Blanc (85%) and Semillon, dry and refreshing with a crisp palate, well priced at €15.95. It is organic and the label is made from recycled paper.
Café in Bages

Gérard Bertrand has quite a reputation for his wines in the Languedoc region and it was his Prima Nature Chardonnay 2018 that the we tried next. This is organic, vegan, with no added sulphur and no oak either. It soft, elegant, refreshing with apple and pear flavours and also well-priced at €16.95. 

Also well priced and also dry and refreshing is the Cortese Nostru Catarratto Lucido with its eye-catching label. It’s an organic white from Sicily made from the local Catarratto grape. It is a fresh and light wine with a ruby robe. Red berries and a hint of spice in the complex aromas. It is fresh and lively, again that spice and fruit, elegant with silky smooth tannins, harmony throughout right to a very satisfying finish.

The reserve Chin Blanc 2018, from Ken Forrester in the Stellenbosch (South Africa)  has spent some 9 months on lees. It is harmonious all the way through to a very satisfying finalé. M.A.N. Vinters, also from South Africa but from the Agter-Paarl, had the seriously impressive Bellow’s Rock Chenin Blanc, also 2018, aromatic and fruit. Hard to separate these two, especially since both are priced at 15.95 for November and December.
South Africa, well represented.

Looking for an organic vegan Merlot, juicy and lively, at a good price? Then go no further than the Prima Nature Merlot from Gérard Bertrand. Good fruit flavours, fresh acidity and a juicy finish. And no added sulphites by the way.

Back then to Sicily for a couple of Cortese Nostru reds. The Nerello Mascalese 2018 is smooth and silky, organic too, and “a great match with tuna”. It’s down from €14.95 to 12.95 in O’Brien’s Nov/Dec sale.

From the same table, the same stable, comes the Nero d’Avola 2018. Unoaked, aged on lees, pure and silky. It is organic, no added sulphurs and “drink it young” was the advice from the table.

Always have a soft spot for the Kangarilla Road in the McLaren Vale since the days of Wine Alliance. Now the Australian winery has a new generation on the road, Charlie O’Brien. He brought two reds with him. Our first was the Street Cred Shiraz, fruity and soft. Very quaffable indeed. The second, Terzetto 2013, had the edge though. It’s a blend of three Italian grapes, rich and robust, well balanced too. Something different and well worth a try.

By then, it was time to catch up with Jose Maria, just back having enjoyed meeting the punters at his masterclass. We were on his Ars in Vitro, a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot, that is as smooth as they come and, unoaked, it comes full of juicy fruit. Worth a try, especially as it’s down to 10.95 in the Nov/Dec sale.

Another smooth red, Ars Nova, features the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and the local Tempranillo. It has been aged for 24 months, the last 9 in oak. If the previous one is art in glass, this is class in a glass and we gave it five out of five. Good price too at €17.45.

The French varieties, Cab Sauv and Merlot, also feature in the Mácula, a serious wine with intensity of aroma and flavour yet rounded with a long and satisfying finish.

Ars Memoria 2012 was our final wine from Tandem, a rich and robust red that has spent “14 months in new French oak”. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon, dark of colour and rich of flavour, a superb wine to be drunk with friends, even in their memory (it was made in honour of friends and members of the Tandem family who have passed on).

See also:
Lingenfelder Masterclass 

Monday, October 14, 2019

A World Of Wine Coming To Cork Next Month. O'Briens Wine Festival

A World Of Wine Coming To Cork Next Month.
O'Briens Wine Festival 
The Lingenfelder brothers from Germany

They’re coming from many corners of the world, from California, Chile, Argentina, from South Africa, from New Zealand and Australia, all coming to Cork on Thursday November 7th. People will be there too from the Old World, all heading to the O’Briens Wine Festival at the Clayton Hotel in Lapps Quay, Cork. And watch out too for Kate and Denis from the local Kinsale Mead Company - they’ll certainly have something for those on your Christmas present list (including yourself!).

Wine Masterclasses are an additional feature this year. There will be three of them on the night, including one by Jose Maria Fraile of Tandem. This winery in Spain’s Navarra is one of my favourites. 

I see also that the Lingenfelder brothers, the double act of Georg and Karl, will be in attendance. Not too sure whether both will be doing the masterclass or just one but one way or the other you’ll have a laugh along with some very interesting wines to taste. 

The third masterclass will be given by Maison Schröder & Schÿler (they’ll have three reps at the festival) and they have some terrific Bordeaux wines under their wing, including Châteaux Kirwan (classified Grand Cru Classé in 1855); should be interesting!
Kangarilla's Charlie O'Brien (centre) pictured a few years back with his parents Helen and Kevin.

The Delicato Vineyards are one of the leading family producers in the US and produce under a variety of labels including Gnarly Head that you will see in Ireland. They’ll have Jonas Hillergen in attendance.

What’s going on in Chile these days? Check it out with Javier Letamendi from Viña Leyda (DO Leyda Valley). You won’t have to trek over the Andes to check out the wine scene in Argentina as Bodegas Norton from Mendoza will also be in Cork.

We recently highly recommended the Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch (South Africa) 2018, relatively new to O’Briens, and this excellent South African producer will have Louw Strydom on hand to tell you all about it and their other wines.
A beauty!

Looking forward to meeting Charlie O’Brien of Kangarilla Road in Australia’s McLaren. Hope he’s got some of the Devil’s Whiskers with him! New Zealand wines are always welcome here as are the country’s producers. Sacred Hill’s man at the Clayton will be Ben Stuart.

There’ll be bubbles of course, perhaps to begin the evening. Check the champagne by Champagne Beaumont des Crayères. Gilles Francois will have it at the perfect temperature.

And would you like to finish with a drop of Port? Ah, go on! The person to see is Lorna Rouse of Taylor's & Fonseca.

Tickets are selling fast for this outstanding event (199 wines, 45 winemakers). Check at your local O’Brien’s or order online here. Cheers, Cork!