Showing posts with label Tindal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tindal. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Tindal Staff Choices A Rewarding Focus At Seasonal Tasting In Metropole Hotel Cork

Tindal Staff Choices A Rewarding Focus 
At Seasonal Tasting In Metropole 

Lots of tables highlighting seasonal offers of wines and spirits at last week’s Tindal event in the Metropole Hotel. But I found all I wanted, more or less, at Tables 6 and 7. These highlighted the Tindal Team Favourites and included quite a cross section of the company’s wines, a range of grapes, a range of vineyards from across the globe and they also covered a range of price-points. 

Very happy with my tastings there and quite content to head home but, after some gentle persuasion, finished on a high at Table 10, the Port display. Here, I unreservedly enjoyed the Dows 10-year old Tawny and the remarkable 2000 vintage by the same company.


Grüner Veltliner, Furth-Palt Weingut Malat 2021

€22.99 – Searsons Dublin

This is an exquisitely crafted Grüner by Malat from Kremstal in Austria. It has the typical peppery herbal nose, is filled with exuberant apple flavours, all the way through the crisp palate and refreshing finish. Very versatile at the table as Grüner Veltliner usually is. May be a bit more in this one though as Mr Malat says it always works and recommends it “from breakfast to midnight snack”. Now, that is versatility for you!

Cups & Rings, Albarīno El Escocés Volante 2017

€21.99 Bradleys Off Licence, JJ O’Driscolls 

Twenty months of ageing with fine lees helps give this Albarīno quite a mouthfeel and a salty refreshing tang. Produced by Scot Norrel Robertson MW, it is much awarded and deservedly so. Celtic connections abound in this part of Spain, Rias Baixas, and so Robertson was quite happy to go with Cup & Rings, a Celtic motif common to Scotland and Galicia. Any Irish examples that you know of? Wikipedia tells me there are some in the Iveragh area of Co. Kerry.

This is how they serve Txakoli in the Basque country

Gorka Izagirre Basque Country 2021

€23.99 – Searson’s Dublin

This Txakoli, the refreshing effervescent wine of the Basques, is new to the Tindal portfolio but immediately engages your taste buds, opening the way to a different wine experience. When I came across Txakoli first (in the Basque country), the drink seemed highly acidic and I didn’t think it would sell here in Ireland. But I’m coming across more and more examples that are better balanced and this is one for sure. You may not get the classic Basque over the shoulder pour into a solid tumbler (to avoid spillage and increase the bubbles) but you’ll enjoy the perfect balanced sensation and a smooth and satisfactory finish.

Pietrabianca, Tormaresca 2019

€32.99 – Fields Supervalu Skibbereen

Teeming with flavour, this blend of Chardonnay (mostly) and Fiano is a pleasure for the palate. From its glorious yellow colour to its chorus of citrus and tropical fruit this Italian certainly has the wow factor. Drink it with Eros Ramazzotti playing Quanto Amore Sei in the background and you’re on a winner.

Kracher ‘K’ Weingut Kracher 2016/17

€34.99 – Searsons Dublin

Tempting aromas of apricots and orange introduce this Kracher ‘K’ from Austria. Pronounce like cracker. This is a gorgeous off-dry with rich flavours on the palate before a pleasant citrusy farewell. Not really that sweet by the way, but something close to what the French call Moelleux. It is a blend of Welschriesling, Scheurebe and Chardonnay.

Missionvale Chardonnay, Hemel en Aarde, Walker Bay, Bouchard Finlayson 2018

€39.99 – Searsons Dublin

I was easily converted by this Missionvale.  The South African Chardonnay is beautifully made, a shining gem that wouldn’t be out of place in Burgundy. It is a more traditional take on the grape and all the better for it. A classic example as you might expect from Bouchard Finlayson, part owners of Ashford Castle.


Llebre, Costers del Segre, Tomàs Cusiné 2020

€21.99 – JJ O’Driscolls 

Tempranillo is grown all over Spain and this excellent one comes from close to Barcelona and boasts some of the colour and vivacity of that magnetic city. It is organic and bio, packed full of sensory interest on the nose and in the mouth, an exemplary wine that will resonate long after the final sip.

Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Terra Mater 2020

€15.99 Fields Supervalu Skibbereen

The Maipo Valley has been called the ”Bordeaux of Chile” and this Vineyard Reserve by Terra Mater, is no sad song of exile. The Cab Sauv may be a long way from home but you’ll find no bum notes here, just a joyful expression from first note to last. Complex nose, round and soft in the mouth and with a full and long finish. Good value too by the way.

Losada, Bierzo 2019

€21.99 – JJ O’Driscolls

Mencia has undergone something of a rehabilitation in recent decades and this example is immediately friendly and slow to leave you. It comes from Bierzo, in the Spanish province of Léon, where the grape is very popular. it is fresh and refreshing, evocative of Cabernet Franc, with which it was once thought to be related. With its complex aromatics, its floral elegance in the mouth and a spicy lengthy finale, its quiet generosity will ease you through your meal.

Fleurie, Camille Melinand 2020

€26.99 – Searsons Dublin

Some of you will know I’m a big fan of Gamay, of Beaujolais in general and of Fleurie in particular. And nothing changes here! That nose, fragrant and light, the lively berry fruits, the balancing acidity and the lengthy finish, add up to a Beaujolais beauty, another Gamay gem for me! I’ll savour every beautiful sip. Join me.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, La Braccesca 2018

€29.99 – Bradleys, JJ O’Driscolls, Number 21 Ballincollig, Supervalu Skibbereen

Pic from Riccardo on Zoom.

Maybe it’s the name, as it often is in Italy (not just wine!), that draws you in. Names like Alessandro Del Piero, Eros Ramazzotti,  Roberto Rossellini. Football, film and music aside, this wine title is hard to ignore and this particular expression is truly excellent. Pleasant from the start, strawberries and cherries on the palate with slender spice influences and a captivating finish, captivating from start to finish actually. 

We had an expert guide here earlier in the year with Riccardo Checchi (not a bad name either) telling us all about this wine on Zoom. "“The arm on the label represents the noble tradition. And when some see Nobile on the label, they think of a heavy wine.. no longer the case…now it’s all about acidity and fruitiness with softer tannins (than Sangiovese from different areas). You can drink it with everything.”


Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, Hemel Al Aarde, Walker Bay, Bouchard Finlayson 2019

€54.99 – Searsons Dublin

Indulging myself a bit here again as Pinot Noir is another favourite. Not always from Burgundy. And that is the case here as the Galpin Peak comes from South Africa. It starts confidently, and goes on to draw you in “with its classical old world” qualities (blackberry’s cherry, spice) and holding you gently with its amazing and superb finish. It boasts a lingering finalé. Let the moment linger. 


Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Virtual Tour and Taste of Maremma and Montepulciano with Antinori

A Taste of Maremma and Montepulciano

 with Antinori

Le Mortelle

We had the best of guides as we visited part of the amazing Antinori wine establishment last Wednesday, all online of course. Tindal’s Harriet Tindal MW introduced us to three “guides” in Italy: Filippo Pulisci of Antinori itself, Riccardo Checchi of La Braccesca vineyard and Georgia Dimitriou of their Le Mortelle estate.

Harriet, our expert moderator, asked Filippo to tell us a bit about the firm. “I’m the old guy in the room”, he started. But nowhere near as old as Antinori’s association with wine which goes back to 1385. Indeed, they were in business for a hundred years before that as silk merchants.

“But it is only in the last sixty years, even the last thirty, that Antinori accelerated to a full cycle producer - you must grow your own grapes and do the whole thing from start to finish. We are also a custodian of tradition but always innovative.” 

And Filippo cited their famous Tignanello wine as an example. A very good example indeed as it was Tignanello that helped catapult the wines of Tuscany onto the world stage in the 1970s. The explosion in popularity of Italian restaurants in the USA, and elsewhere, also helped. 

Tignanello was the first Sangiovese to be aged in barriques, the first contemporary red wine blended with untraditional varieties (specifically Cabernet) and one of the first red wines in the Chianti Classico region that didn’t use white grapes.

So Tignanello, which saw Piero Antinori lead the way, was a breakaway from the hidebound traditions (some of you may remember Chianti in its straw flask) and the rules of the appellation. He broke those rules in two ways, at least, by using international grapes and also the barriques. 

And so one of the first of what became known as Super Tuscans was born and went on to thrive. Piero is generally regarded as one of the heroes of Italian wine in the last century breaking away from a system geared more towards quantity than quality. Again, some of you will remember the EU “inspired” wine lakes and, closer to home, butter mountains.

Filippo continued: “Many followed us to Super Tuscans. We are an old family but also modern, never compromise on quality. We are also democratic producers in that we produce everyday wines to high-end expensive ones. We are always advancing, never resting on our laurels.”

We would soon see an example as Georgia began to talk about Le Mortelle, the estate she manages in the heart of Maremma Tuscany, in an area well known for the production of top quality wines. The winery appears on top of a hillside overlooking the surrounding countryside while the cellars lie underground in perfect harmony with the environment.

“It’s a mix of elegance and wilderness,”she said, where they grow quite a few of those international varieties, mainly the Cabernets and Carménère. “It is an ideal place with a warm Mediterranean climate, ideal for these varieties that require a longer ripening time."

Riccardo’s winery, La Braccesca (bought in 1990), has two different but adjoining terroirs between the hills of Montepulciano and Cortona and here two very different personalities live side by side in complete harmony: the traditional Sangiovese for Nobile di Montepulciano and the international Syrah in Cortona, an emerging wine producing area with great potential. The  La Braccesca winemakers take advantage of the terroirs, the clay near Montepulciano and the sand on the other side.

Soon he was showing us the first of the day's wines to be tasted, the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. “The arm on the label represents the noble tradition. And when some see Nobile on the label, they think of a heavy wine.. no longer the case…now it’s all about acidity and fruitiness with softer tannins (than Sangiovese from different areas). You can drink it with everything.”

Georgia, originally from Greece and, like Riccardo, well travelled and well educated in wine, started with Vivia, “a sunny wine, recently bottled, no oak”.

Her second Botrosecco, also from Le Mortelle, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Cabernet Franc. “I call it simple, simple but good, with soft tannins..easy to enjoy young… a very good expression and great value for money.”

Riccardo’s second offering was Achelo. A Syrah, “a famous grape of Cortona, a recent appellation, founded only in 2000. Some time back, a few growers, including us, saw similarities between here and the Rhone: climate, soil, acidity”.

They investigated, did their research and now produce top quality Syrah. By the way Achelo is the name of a local god of abundance. The Syrah is versatile: “Use it an aperitif. And dinner too. The more you keep it open, the more it expresses itself.”

He also showed two older Syrahs, the Bramasole from 2013 and 2016. “The plot is very well exposed, lots of sun, sandy solid. There’a an impression of sweetness, not sugar, just from the ripe fruits.. it reflects what the soil produces.. it is a powerful wine and needs 15 to 18 months in barrels plus two years in bottle.”

Then he “hopped” back to the Montepulciano side for the Santa Pia 2015, a Riserva. “Fresh, with a little bit of age flavour.” How long will it last? For decades was the answer, twenty or thirty years from the very best vintages. Maybe not as long from the other vintages.

Georgia then showed the Poggio alle Nane (Hill of the Wild Duck), La Mortelle’s “flagship wine”.  The blend of Cabernet Franc 80%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10 and Carmènére 10 was finalised in 2015. It is the only Carmènére vineyard in the area and the grape is suited by the hilly grounds. “It is demanding in terms of ripening but we have the right conditions in Maremma.”

And they work on guarding those conditions. “Our focus is to minimise our impact so we use a lot of stainable techniques: monitoring insects, encouraging predators, and more. The more we work in harmony with nature, the better the results in our wine.”

The cellar in Maremma

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Tindal Helmed Spanish Wine Week Webinar. The evolutionary journey of Spanish Wine.

Tindal Helmed Spanish Wine Week Webinar

The evolutionary journey of Spanish Wine

A "cathedral" in Jerez

Back in 2013, at a dinner in Ballymaloe House, Telmo Rodríguez declared that wine in Spain “had been in the wrong hands, now it is starting to be in the right hands. I am between a boring generation and an exciting generation”. 

Now Telmo finds himself handing over the baton to that new generation of Spanish winemakers, as he told this week’s Spanish Wine Week webinar hosted by Tindal’s Harriet Tindal MW.

After 30 years pushing the boundary, he is excited in his new role as mentor. “There is a most exciting new generation, time now to help and support them, to pass on the experience…. especially to help and push on the kids from the countryside. Now I love to teach and leave the others to do the job. I’m very proud of the last 30 years, recuperating grapes, recuperating vineyards. Now’s the time to recuperate the small grower.”

Mountain wine
Long before the Ballymaloe visit, he had heard of a legendary mountain wine from Malaga, via references to it from the unlikely pairing of Shakespeare and Hugh Johnson.

But it had disappeared and off he went to Malaga and began to search for the high altitude old vineyards and, as is his habit, talked a lot to the old people. He didn’t get too far but, in 1998, settled on an area and with advice from Château Y’Quem, started production. He secured a plot and then planted it with Moscatel.  It took three or four years. He finally got it right and the results were exquisite. 

Harriet Tindal got the best from a strong line-up for the seminar which was titled "The Progress of Tradition. A discussion on the evolutionary journey of Spanish Wine.” Telmo’s colleagues on the panel were Jonatan García, Suertes del Marques, Tenerife; Jan Petersen, Fernando de Castilla, Jerez; and Sara Pérez, Mas Martinet, Priorat.

 The dazzling white albariza soil of Jerez

When Jan Petersen took over Fernando de Castilla in 2000, the small firm was already well-known in Spain for the quality of its sherries and brandies. The firm organised new staff in both production and sales and that, along with the acquisition of a neighbouring high-quality vineyard in 2001, led to their wines being recognised worldwide. In 2000, they were selling 30,000 bottles, now it is 400,000.

In his previous work with Osbournes, Jan had noticed a tendency towards buying better quality sherry. “There was a trend towards quality and we (Fernando de Castilla) helped create that trend, making more interesting sherry. We will always remain in that premium sector, will never supply big supermarket chains. We are also working hard on our brandy (which is raised in sherry casks). We have a very good network of distributors who, like Tindal, share our philosophy.

With Telmo (right) in Ballymaloe 2013

“History, that’s where we need to start, making tradition into modernity. Jerez is the most traditional wine area in Spain as wine has been made here for over 3,000 years. People call me a sherry romantic but go back in history and see what kinds of wines were appreciated. The cheap sherry market is dying. Indeed, the average age of consumers for one of the best known brands was surveyed at 77 years old.”

Jan is more into the lighter sherries and the firm bottles no less than five wines En Rama. “We were the first to use clear bottles for sherry and now some of the bigger companies have followed us. Lots of smaller companies didn’t exist 20 years ago are finding customers.”

“To make the highest quality, you need the highest quality fruit - you need to start in the vineyard. We harvest by hand and we don’t transport the fragile young wines to the cellar immediately - we wait a year to take them to the cathedrals of wine.” Lots of attention to detail here also, floors are watered regularly, good ventilation is maintained and the cellar faces the Atlantic.

Sometimes, the old ways are best. In Priorat.

Harriet introduced Sara Pérez and told us she was “pushing barriers in Priorat”. And you could see straight away that Sara is determined to get the very best from the granitic and schist soil of the land, a land capable of so much diversity in its wines.

“We must stretch ourselves, need to express our place, our small vineyards, our magic soil, in our wines. It is important to live together with our tradition and future. We don’t use a lot of technology. If we ignore the past (which includes orange and sweet wine), we’ll not have doors and windows to the future.”

Harriet had many slides, photos and videos to illustrate the various points but the one that stood out for me was that of the amazing extended vines of Jonatan García in Tenerife. These are over 100 years old and stretch to between 40 and 50 meters. They take a different kind of pruning!

They grow mostly red grapes with Listán Negra the most popular. But there are many varieties on the island, most with unfamiliar names. There are some 50 indigenous grapes and they are still counting.

The long vines of Tenerife 

He was asked if manpower is a problem for him. “I’m a bit lucky. There are lots of young people familiar with the vines, always family to help and more manpower available at weekends.”

Spain, with its youth, its innovation, its diversity of terroir, (“a continent more than a country”, one speaker said), its huge selection of styles and grapes, its reserve of experience (as illustrated by Telmo (born into wine), and there are many more)), its respect for the past, its well-made well-priced wines, is very well placed indeed to be a major player at the quality end of the wine market for decades to come. Salud!

While sometimes sailor Telmo may be passing on the baton, that didn’t stop him from getting up early on the morning of the seminar to attend to the harvest. It was pretty cold outside - “I tell people the Rioja harvest is in winter” and he had the fire blazing in the background. Zoom doesn’t miss much.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Cracking Wines at O'Donovan's Wine and Craft Beer Festival

Cracking Wines at O'Donovan's
 Wine and Craft Beer Festival
Paddy from Clonakilty Distillery

I very much enjoyed visiting the 17th annual O'Donovan's Wine and Craft Beer Festival in the Clayton Hotel, Cork City, last Friday night; great to meet old friends and taste some new wines. And it wasn’t just wine. There was mead, from Kinsale of course, craft beers from home and abroad, whiskeys and gins galore including some from new and new-ish producers such as Clonakilty and Beara and more.

The O’Donovan’s staff were busying helping people make the most of it and one of their tasks was to man the tables featuring Gold Star winners from this year’s Irish Wine Show. Some 45 wines were awarded in all and are exclusive to NOffLA (National Off-Licence Association) member outlets nationwide.

Yours Truly with
Gerry Gunnigan
of Liberty Wines
Liberty Wines, with Gerry Gunnigan doing the honours, had two of the winners at their table and, after a conversation, mainly about Mayo, with Gerry, we started with those two. First up was the Italian Alpha Zeta “C” Chardonnay 2018 from the Veneto. Superb tropical fruits and as fresh as could be and it won Gold in the Under €15.00 Old World White Category.

And Gerry’s other Gold winner was the Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2017 from New Zealand’s Marlborough, which came first in the Under €20.00 New World White Category. Very elegant, tropical fruits again, well balanced and well worth looking out for as the festival season nears. Two fine whites then but perhaps the top white on the Liberty table was the Loimer Lois Grüner Veltliner, an excellent example of the Austrian grape. All their own fruit and organic to boot.

Conor O'Brien (NorEast Beers) with CL

Speaking of Christmas, one to look out for is the Delicato Gnarly Head Viognier from California. “Not over the top in aromatics” but lots of character and a great aperitif. The normal retail price is €18.00 but there’ll be reductions soon! Dave Buckley of Cassidy's also had a couple of well-priced South African whites. The Millstream Chenin Blanc struck a nice balance of fruit and acidity while the Franschhoek Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay had all the typical Chardonnay flavour and a good acidity. Doesn't miss the oak at all.

We then came across an outstanding Verdejo, by Spain’s Protos, at Comans Wines. A fresh and balanced wine from the Rueda with a dry lingering finish. Priced at €15.00, though, like most of the wines, it was reduced for orders during the festival.
Denis and Kate
Kinsale Mead

The Vineyard were showing a pretty impressive white from the Loire, the dry and refreshing Chateau de la Roulerie Petit Chenin 2018.  Nearby, Damien from Tindal had a couple of excellent Pinot Grigio from the Veneto and he was very enthusiastic about both. You could see though that special care had been taken in producing the Zenato 2018, refreshing, soft yet with good character, a really good wine indeed. The San Giorgio 2018 was well balanced, clean and crisp.

In between, we had a chance to chat with Denis and Kate from Kinsale Mead and to taste their Atlantic Dry (white) mead and their Wild Red Mead and to hear of some plans in train and for the future including barrel-ageing and using Irish Honey. Looking forward to seeing the results but it could be a while yet for us punters as the enterprising couple keep their fingers crossed!

No problem finding Malbec when we started on the reds. Mackenway’s Callia “Alta” from San Juan in Argentina, was very juicy, very drinkable, and made an immediate impression with its “fruit bomb” of flavours. The Kaiken Terroir Series Vistaflores 2017, from Mendoza, on show at the Liberty Table, was a somewhat more serious drink, full bodied and silky, the Malbec enhanced by some Petit Verdot and Bonarda.

A couple of superb Crianzas followed. Some of you may be familiar with the El Coto Rioja Crianza, a harmonious mix of red berry flavours, juicy tannins and a well judged touch of oak that help make this the biggest selling Crianza in Spain. This was on the Mackenway table with an RRP of €17.00, with a reduction off that available on the night, as was the case for most if not all of the wines in the show.

Back to Damien then at the Tindal table and he was singing the praises, quite rightly too, of the Luis Cañas Rioja Crianza 2016, saying the extra calcium in the vineyard’s soil makes a difference to the thickness of the skins, so more colour, more concentration and you could taste that in this dark fruit flavoured wine, hints of the oak too and a long and very satisfying finish. Normal price is €23.50 and again the offer on the night brought it down to 19.97 per bottle.

Gold Medal

We finished the wines at the Cassidy Table with Dave taking us through two from California. First up was the Delicato Gnarly Head Zinfandel from old vines between 35-80 years and weighing in at 14.5% abv. Intense and bold the notes declared and yes indeed it is a big wine, loads of fruit. And lots of fans too for this style.

For me though, the next one, the Delicato Gnarly Head Authentic Black, was more to my liking. It is bold enough, full bodied enough “to rock your palate” but the Zinfandel has been toned down through the addition of Petite Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. Should be superb with food as Dave indicated.

And there was some food around, including Carrigaline Cheese with the dedicated Padraig in attendance having overseen the Irish Cheese Awards the previous evening. Didn’t get much of a chance to try the food and we were heading to Dockland in any case. 

But we did have a beer with Conor O’Brien of NorEast Drinks. The Whitstable Bay Organic Ale, a delightful light coloured ale that is brewed using the brewery’s own chalk-filtered mineral water, is a soft blend of hops and malt. Liked that and must watch out for it next time I visit O’Donovan’s.