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Showing posts with label Tuscany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuscany. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany


Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany
Terrabianca Chianti Classico Riserva Croce (DOCG) Riserva 2012, 13.5%, €25.75 Karwig Wines 

Colour is a beautiful ruby red. Aromas of ripe cherry. Superb fruit on the palate, sweet juicy cherry, touch of pepper, terrific structure, good acidity and satisfyingly long fruit-driven finish. Very Highly Recommended.

This is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. The grapes are selected at the winery before being approved for separate vinification in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Ageing: Aged in Slavonian oak (50 hectolitre), then about 3 months in French oak barrique (2nd use) and in bottle for at least 12 months. 

Serving Suggestions: Best served at 16-18 °C (60.8-64.4 °F). Pairs well with pasta dishes.


Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2015, 13.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Wine OnLine, Liberty Wines 

Rufina is a highly regarded sub-zone in Chianti and its best wines are a match, some more than a match, for those from Chianti Classico. This producer is one of the best and produces the wine from the area’s famous Sangiovese grape (with a touch of Canaiolo). It is aged for 12 months, some in steel but most in oak casks and barriques.

It is a startlingly light red. Cherry and berry on the nose. Fresh and juicy on the palate, quite a backbone of flavour, smooth though and easy drinking but also generously blessed with finesse. Elegant and precise and with a long finish, this Chianti Rufina is Very Highly Recommended, especially if you like the lighter styles.


Camillo Ciliegiolo Maremma Toscana (DOC)  2015, 13.5%, €18.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is made from organically grown, forty year old Ciliegiolo vines. Ciliegiolo? I hear you ask. I asked too and confirmed it is little known with an uncertain genealogy, being either the parent or offspring of Sangiovese. 

Antonio Camillo is noted as a top grower in Maremma (an area of southern Tuscany that has been producing wines since the Etruscans) by none other than Oz Clark in Grapes and Wines.

The book, co-written with Margaret Rand, says Ciliegiolo (little cherry) “is sometimes bottled as a varietal, and it can be found as far south as Sicily and as far north as Val d’Aosta.”

The Camillo version is a bright mid-ruby in colour, the aromas a mix of cherry and berry. Refreshing ripe cherry fruit, some spice also, good acidity and persistent fine-grain tannins all in the dry finish. Good structure, very drinkable and Highly Recommended. Try, they say, with hearty dishes (stews) and hard cheeses.



Sunday, April 15, 2018

Grapecircus at Spit Cork. Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.


Grapecircus at Spit Cork.
Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.
Enrico, with square halo, and Aileen

Enrico Fantasia is enthusiastic about wine #77 on his stand at the Spit Cork event in the River Lee Hotel. It is Falanghina ‘Insania’ 2016 by Bambinuto. That Falanghina is the grape variety and the best known variety from this area in Campania is Greco di Tufo which is also produced by Bambinuto.

The vineyard is about an hour east of Naples, yet in 2006 Marilena Aufiero was told she was mad to start her operation here, hence the name Insania. “She took a chance,” said an admiring Enrico, the man behind Grapecircus who are best known for Italian wines. The wine, which has spent six month on lees, is delicious, fresh with minerality. This, and others from the Grapecircus portfolio, are available via Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. Others available online via SIYPS.

Enrico has been described as “the charismatic ringmaster of Italian wines in Ireland”. He also owns a wine bar, Piglet in Temple Bar. It is not his first restaurant venture. “I couldn't stay away.”. While Grapecircus have a strong Italian list, they now include wines from all over Europe, “made by passionate people with respect for nature.. that express terroir and tradition.”

Traditionally, the Castelli dei Jesi wine-producing zone in eastern Italy is noted for its Verdicchio and Enrico’s example was the Saltatempo 2016 produced by La Marca de San Michele. Verdicchio apparently means the little green one and there are tints of green in the colour and apple notes on the palate. This one is soft and round with a crisp acidity and a pleasant slightly bitter finish.

My next white came from the Mengoba vineyard in Bierzo, Spain, the Brezo Blanco 2016. It is a Godello with some Dõna Blanca, produced more or less organically but with no certification. This relatively full-bodied wine has responded well to five months on lees, pretty intense and with a strikingly long finish.

I had intended to try his Muscadet but Enrico wasn't happy with the bottles supplied - just goes to show his professionalism - so I switched my attention to the Albarino. A taster alongside me remarked there is no such thing as a bad Albarino and this Saras 2015 by Entre Os Rios was another good one. Good colour and aroma (tropical fruits), a richer style perhaps than usual, fruity, juicy and a long dry finish. 

Aileen took me through some of the Grapecircus reds, a brilliant mini-tour, mainly through Italy. Starting with When We Dance 2015, the Chianti by the Sting co-owned winery Tenuta Il Palagio. “It is the entry level wine,” Aileen said. “they are just outside the Classico area so it is good value and 2015 was a very good year.” And indeed, this is a very good wine, cherry prominent, and fresh, organic of course.
When we dance

A quick step over to France and to Bourgueil by the Loire and a tasting of Yannick Amirault’s La Coudraye 2016. Yannick is “one of the top producers and is certified organic.” Cabernet Franc is the red grape all around this area. It is noted for its freshness and that shone through this lovely rich wine, Aileen describing it as dense.

Back to Tuscany now and the Rosso de Montalcino Banditella 2014, produced from Sangiovese grapes by Col D’Orcia. This is a super wine from “the area's third largest producer”. “But the focus is on quality. It was a tough year in 2014 but good producers produce good wine even in bad years.” The winery was certified organic in 1999 and this red is a beauty, balanced, great finish.

The Marche in Italy wasn't too far away and my final stop was Fattoria San Lorenzo for their Rosso Piceno Burello 2014, a blend of 50/50 Sangiovese and Montepulciano, their top wine,  rich but not heavy, superb and with a long long finish.

Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Excellent Reds From Karwigs

Teruzzi Puthod Peperino Toscano (IGT) 2014, 13.5%, €19.35 Karwig Wines

From the heart of Tuscany comes this deep-ruby wine. Fragrant for sure, all the way through to the end. In between, you’ll find it well-balanced and satisfying on the palate, tannins assertive, spice much less so. A very pleasant amalgam indeed and Highly Recommended. They also make a lovely white Vernaccia.

The grapes in this blend of Sangiovese and Merlot are grown on the little hills around San Gimignano, well-known for its medieval towers, including the Torre Grossa. Well-known too for its ice-cream which is certainly very good. What I didn't fancy very much was the cappuccino I got in the lovely old Piazza della Cisterna. The wine spends 8 months in barriques, 10% new, and  they say it’s fine for meats and cheeses.

Cà Vittoria Apassimento Gold Release Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €16.95 Karwig

Late ripening and then the harvest is followed by a period of drying in trays. When the grapes are close to being raisins, the wine is made. This Appassimento process increases fruit concentration but leaves enough acidity to balance the rich fruit. Grapes used in this bottle are Negroamaro (60%),  Merlot (25%) and Primitivo (15%).

Gold Release may refer to the fact that this mid-purple coloured wine from Puglia in the south of Italy (the heel) has won a few awards. The aromas, like the colour, are intense, mainly plum, hints of sweetness. 

And that fruit concentration, typical of appassimento, is immediately obvious on the palate, that sweetness too. But there is indeed enough acidity to balance; the tannins still grippy. Overall, a pleasant easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.

Chateau La Bastide L’Optimée Corbieres (AOP) 2012, 14%, €19.25 Karwig
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and has spent some 12 months in Bordelaise barriques. Recommended serving temperature is 16-17 degrees. 


It has a dark red colour, slightly lighter at the rim. Quite an intense red fruit aroma, plus a bit of spice. Intense too on the palate, dark fruit and spice again, ripe round tannins and a long lingering finish. A very pleasant wine indeed and, like earlier editions, Very Highly Recommended. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three Handsome Reds! One in a Litre Bottle.

Azienda Ampeleia ‘Un Litro’ Costa Toscano (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €21.95 Le Caveau
Vines in the Wild

This relatively new estate - Ampeleia is the Greek for wine - is certified organic and biodynamic; it is biodiverse with the vineyards interspersed with chestnut and cork oak forests as well as scrub.

This particular wine comes in a squat green one litre bottle - hence the name - and is a blend of Alicante (Grenache), Carignan and Alicante Bouschet which has spent 6 months in cement tanks. It is unfined, unfiltered and has no added SO2.

Colour is between a deep pink and a pale ruby. Aromas, say Le Caveau, have balsamic notes, plus wild herbs and spice hints and I find no reason to disagree! It is juicy, light and youthful on the palate with an engaging purity of fruit, a light mist of spice and then a dry yet fruity finish. Highly Recommended.

Mas Igneus FA206 Priorat (DOG) 2005, 15%, €21.75 Mary Pawle Wines

Mas is a traditional farmhouse found in the Provence (eg Mas de la Dame, winemakers in the Vaucluse) and Midi regions of France, as well as in the Catalan regions of both France and Spain. And FA206 means six months in second year barrels. Agricultura Ecologica is the method use by Mas Igneus, one of the newer wineries in the Priorat region. The blend is Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is a deep ruby and you also note the long legs, slow to clear. There are beautiful aromas of ripe dark fruits, a touch of vanilla. It is smooth, concentrated, spice also, a warming mouthfeel, plus a long and rounded finish. Quite a superb wine, an oldie but goldie, and Very Highly Recommended.

Henri Nordoc Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d’Oc (IGP) 2014, 12.5%, €11.75 Le Caveau

No blending here, just 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is a rich ruby. There are intense aromas: dark fruits, vanilla and toast. Dark fruits follow on the palate, fresh and juicy, spice and tannins also in play but neither prominent. This Highly Recommended wine finishes well and is good value also.

The great concentration and purity comes from vines that are well cared for; they aim for a low yield. Later, the wine spends 8 months on its fine lees. The back label promises a wine “characteristic of the Languedoc terroir which produces rich wines bursting with flavour”. I reckon Henri and the Languedoc have delivered.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

I think we’ve all been confused at one time or another by Montepulciano on an Italian wine bottle. It is the name of a grape and of a town in Italy. According to Wine-Searcher.com the grape was named after the town and was once widely grown there.

Nowadays, the grape has found another home in Abruzzo, hence Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy (Wikipedia). 

Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast. The local wine industry, according to Vino Italiano, is dominated by giant cooperatives of which Cantina Tollo (below) is one example.

Now let us return to the city of Montepulciano. This is in Tuscany, in the province of Sienna, and is one of the most attractive hill towns in the area.

The main grape grown here is Sangiovese (blood of Jove or blood of St Giovani or maybe something else entirely!). Only the very best grapes are used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The others are used for Rosso di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile has the big reputation but the simpler Rosso is no mean wine either as our example indicates.

Other grapes grown here, according to Vino Italiano, are Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache). No mention of the Montepulciano on that list, so you are highly unlikely to see a Montepulciano di Montepulciano. Let me know if you do!

Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015, 13%, €14.45 Le Caveau


This organic wine has quite a few admirers and I'm among them. Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, the importers: “The Bio wines are a great find. The wines are literally singing in the glass with their exuberant fruit and juicy flavours”. The winery itself says they are bursting with primary red fruit.

The fruit is hand-harvested and the wine is neither “fined nor filtered”. Colour is an attractive ruby. Aromas are mainly of red berried fruits. It is fruity and juicy and easy drinking. Lots of lovely fruit flavours, nothing extreme, mild tannins, well balanced and with good acidity. Class finish too, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended.

Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012, 14%, €17.45 Le Caveau

The Innocenti estate lies between Montefollonico, a walled city in Tuscany, and Montepulciano, just a short drive between them. This is a blend of Sangiovese (mainly), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo and has spent six months in oak.


Colour is bright, and light, ruby. Generous aromas of stewed plums and a touch of heavier gamey notes. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, really well balanced. Fine tannins noticeable on a long and dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s


Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s
Three very young oils

Bradley’s of North Main Street, Cork, are well known for their selection of fine wines. And, where there’s wine, there’s olive oil. Indeed, quite a few of the oils available here are made by top wine-makers including a few from Tuscany and Spain’s Torres.

Speaking of Tuscany, a wine and olive oil producer there once told me that the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked grapes. In his place, it was done in the cool of the night as the Olive Press was too hot during the day, which it was. I tried it and you could hardly stand there for a minute.

He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that the oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.




Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows. 

The one in 1985 was a disaster. The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took all of ten years to get a good crop again. So the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event. It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and they always cook with good oil. 

Fontodi Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a richly coloured oil from Tuscany, very delicately balanced. Fine aromas of artichoke leaf and an elegant peppery flavour come together in a fragrant lingering finish. The organically raised olives are picked by hand and carefully pressed the same day in order
to keep the fragrance. Read more here.  


The River Cafe I Canonici 2016 EVOO: also from Tuscany, this is an almost luminous green in its youth (as many of them are!); this bright oil is fragrant and very spicy with lovely fresh grass and green olive characters. Clean and bright it has tremendous depth of flavour right through to the long peppery finish.


Capazzana 2016: Organic and another Tuscan. Quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.




Alpha Zeta 2015 EVOO: Golden-green in colour with a light delicate perfume of fresh grass and ripe olives. Light and delicate on the palate with a fresh grassy taste, medium body and a smooth ripe finish. Excellent for drizzling over more delicate dishes. This comes from the hills outside Verona where cool breezes come down from the Dolomites.

Torres Silencio: Sourced from the estate of Los Desterrados in Lleida, Catalonia, from centuries-old Arbequina olive trees. The olives are harvested and cold-pressed on the same day, and only the oil from the first pressing is used. The resulting extra virgin olive oil is rounded and well balanced with aromas of artichoke, unripened almonds and fresh-cut grass. And Miguel A. Torres Senior requests it at every meal when travelling (where available). 

West Cork Olives: Bradley’s also carry oils marketed by West Cork Olives and imported from Spain and Greece. I haven’t had a chance to sample these yet.


Suggestions On Olive Oil In Cooking

1 - How about delicious Pumpkin and Farro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and a good oil?

2 - A lovely plateful of local scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread (with oil on it) with these two dishes. 

3 - Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with red wine (Italian or Spanish!), thyme, garlic and black pepper, served with braised winter greens and an olive oil potato mash.  

If you prefer fish why not try this Fenn’s Quay dish that I came across a few years back: Grilled plaice, with braised leeks, olive oil crushed potatoes and onion puree. The first three dishes were served at an olive oil tasting in Ballymaloe.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting Cork, featuring The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting

The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat
Pascal with Michael Creedon (right) of Bradley's Off Licence
Nicolas Donne of
Guy Allion
“This is what Le Caveau is about,” said Pascal Rossignol as he surveyed the scene in St Peter’s Church in the early stages of the Cork tasting of his 2017 portfolio last Thursday. And he had much to be pleased about as the visiting growers and Pascal’s staff displayed some 145 wines, all sustainable low intervention, many fully organic and some natural, for the tasting.

And if the tasting in general spoke of Le Caveau, then one wine in particular hinted at where M. Rossignol might be taking us in the future. And that was the Anne and J.F. Ganevat Vin de France Rouge called Madelon. 

Pascal was enthusiastic about this amazing blend. And no wonder! The mix of 50% Gamay from Morgon and 50% of Ganevat’s own field grapes (ancient varieties here are lost in one another) is amazing, yet so focussed, with a dry finish. This superb wine, which has spent ten months in foudre (large wooden vat) is produced outside the appellation rules, hence the Vin de France on the label and hence no vintage mentioned (not allowed!).

Formidable!
While the Madelon is made with his sister Anne, the other wine on show, Cotes du Jura blanc “Sous La Roche”, is produced by Jean-Francois himself. All his wines are made in very limited quantities, so are hard to get and so full praise to Le Caveau for giving us the opportunity to taste this gem with a finish that rolls on and on.

Great to have the chance too to chat to Bertrand Ambroise and his delicious Burgundy wines. We started with a Chardonnay, named after his grand-daughter, the Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This is a really round wine with balancing acidity. The Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2013 was another splendid Chardonnay (one of nine that they produce), apricot to the fore with no shortage of minerality.

Also got to taste three of his thirteen Pinot Noir, starting with the 2013 Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This has been aged in old barrels - he didn't want oak influence here. A gorgeous well-priced wine.
Bertrand Ambroise (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau
Then I enjoyed a sip of the Cotes de Nuits Villages. “Very interesting to drink now but it will last fifteen years,” said Bertrand. “It is 40% new oak, no fining, no filter and we are using less and less sulphides.” Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family. The final treat at this table was the Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’. This is faultless with an astounding finalé.

Guy Allion (Loire Valley) was represented by Nicolas Donne and I enjoyed their Touraine Sauvignon Blanc ‘Haut Perron’, very expressive and very fresh (the harvest is “early nighttime” to enhance those very qualities). 

Nicolas also had an unlisted addition, the 100% Sauvignon Chenonceau 2015. It can be made only in the valley of the Cher, a new appellation since 2011. Aromatic and elegant, it comes in its own unique bottle (made in Italy) and “can age for ten years”.

Chaume-Arnaud are pretty well known for their lovely Rhone reds but it was a white that caught my tastebuds: the 2015 blend Côtes du Rhône, very complex with excellent mouthfeel and excellent acidity as well. Thibaud Chaume explained that 2015 was “a bit hot..but this fruit is grown on top of a hill where it is fresh, also cool at night” and these factors all helped.

And he also had another off catalogue wine, “perfect for barbecue”, the 2015 Marselan, “well structured and great with food”.

Tour des Gendres are well represented on the Le Caveau catalogue and, once Guillaume de Conti began to speak, I could see why. You might think the basic entry wine might not get that much attention but Guillaume said that is the one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, so it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this certainly is, six months on lees also helps. A very reasonably priced wine too.
Lovely to meet up again with Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa (left). Her orange wine, the fantastic Ageno, has just been named as the number one natural wine in the world in the May issue of Decanter. 
Another Italian wine-maker that caught my attention was Ampeleia. Giulia Zanellati showed me three very interesting reds indeed, including the Un Litro Di Ampeleia, a blend of four varieties. It comes in a one litre bottle that is proving very popular in Italian restaurants. Giulia made me rather jealous as she described their vineyards which are near the sea. “It is a beautiful place to work, all the different levels where the views, the trees, the animals, all change as you go up or down. 
The 2016 Alicante Nero, Costa Toscana IGT, is 100 per cent from a single vineyard, at 400 metres with clay and rock dominating, another delicious fresh wine. And freshness too in the 2013 flagship, the Ampelia Costa Toscana IGT, a blend of Cabernet Franc (80%) and Sangiovese. The Cabernet Franc - they use it a fair bit - is noted as adding freshness and obviously enjoys the terroir here.


Le Caveau were also showing a large range of house wines, very acceptable house wines I hasten to add. One that I really like is the Petit Verdot, Haut Medians, Robert Vic and also the Madrigale in both red and white. And Charles Rossignol introduced me to more excellent house whites in St Peter’s (pictured right) . Perhaps the one I liked best was the Ciello Bianco Catarratto (Terre Siciliane IGT). This is certified organic and unfiltered and is refreshing and grippy, great with food I'd say.



All in all, quite a tasting. I didn’t get to taste all 145 but the name that stood out was that of Ganevat. The maestro from the Jura has three pages to himself in the 2017 Le Caveau catalogue but beware that quantities available “are very small and can only be managed via allocation”. He is, after all, one of the royalty of natural wine!


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

SuperValu's Italians. 
On Offer For Next Two Weeks


SuperValu's Italians
On Offer For Next Two Weeks

SuperValu are in the mood to celebrate all things Italian and their wine expert Kevin O’Callaghan is joining in the fun by putting the focus on their range of Specially Sourced Italian Wines which will be on offer for two weeks from Thursday May 11th. 

We’ve enjoyed the five below over the past few days. From the "fashionable" Aglianico to the more traditional appassimento, they are all good (good value too) with the Ammasso just about about shading it  (I might need a re-run!) as our number one of the bunch. 



Tombacco Aglianico dei Beneventano (IGT) 2013, 14%, €10.00 (down from 12.99).

Aglianico, a variety with Greek connections, is prominent in the vineyards of Campania and Basilicata. Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry. The Italian vineyards are among the most diverse in the world and hundreds of varieties have been “authorised” for planting and selling as wine, according to Vino Italiano.

Aglianico is the dominant red wine grape in the IGT of Beneventano which itself is a thriving IGT in Campania. In Grapes and Wines, it is described as “suddenly one of the most fashionable grapes of a newly fashionable region”.

There are aromas of vanilla, red fruits too, from this deep ruby coloured wine. It is soft on the palate, cherry and plum, a little spice too, plus a decent finish. Elegant and warm and Highly Recommended. Pair with “all red meats and aged cheeses”.


Il Capolavoro Vino Rosso Appassimento, Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €10.00 (down from 14.99).

Some of you may have seen Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín score the goals that gave Juventus a vital away win over Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. His contribution was described as “il capolavoro”, the Italian for masterpiece. Might try a bottle of this next time that Higuaín is on telly.

The vinous Il Capolavoro has been produced by using the traditional “appassimento” method, whereby the grapes are partially dried to increase colour and concentration. It has worked well for the Italians over the decades and works rather well here too.

The colour is a rich ruby and you’ll notice the legs are slow to clear. There are intense aromas of dark fruits, chocolate notes too. On the palate, that sought after concentration is pleasantly evident; it is full of flavour with a touch of smooth spice, a hint of sweetness and it is juicy too. Easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

Pairings recommended are: veal, chicken, and pork and any pasta or pizza that comes with a tomato sauce.


Burdizzo Vermentino Toscana (IGT) 2015, 12%, €10.00 (down from 12.99)

Vermentino, a favourite of  mine, may be found “the length of Italy” according to Grapes and Wines but the “best wines come from Tuscany, Sardinia ad Liguria.” Outside of Italy you’ll find some pretty good examples in the Languedoc where it is also known as Rolle.

Vino Italiano considers it “one of Italy’s most distinctive whites” and also highlights the same three regions. Wine writer Fiona Beckett says that many tip Vermentino to challenge the dominance of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris.

Vermentino production in Tuscany, an area where red varieties account for almost 90% of the total vineyard area, has rocketed in the last 10 years, according to Decanter: “…. 2010 found 653 hectares planted to Vermentino. By 2015, the regional government was reporting 1,192 hectares….”.

Our Burdizzo has the colour of light straw. Aromas are of white fruit, with floral and herbal notes, a pleasant mix. Palate is crisp and fresh, no shortage of that white fruit with peach and green-melon flavours to the fore all the way to a long finalé. Highly Recommended.

Barone Montalto Ammasso 2013 Rosso Terre Siciliane (IGT), 14.5%, €15.00 (down from €18.99)

This too uses partially dried grapes, the method known in Sicily as Ammasso. The varieties blended in this gorgeous and complex wine are Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A serious work of wine is the result and it is Very Highly Recommended.

Medium ruby red is the colour and the aromas, of dark fruit, are pretty intense. There is a luscious concentrated fruit, hints of sweetness, light spice too; overall, a rather plush wine, tannins just about in play, and the finish is long.

Castellani Arbos Sangiovese, Tuscany (IGT) 2013, 13.5%, €10.00 (down from 12.99) 

Vanilla is prominent in the aromas of this Highly Recommended medium red; darker fruits there too. On the palate, it is smooth and fruity (cherries and plums), drifts of spice too, plus that quintessential acidity (almost an ever-present in Italian wines), and fine sweet tannins make it a pleasure in the mouth and the finish ain't bad either. Great value.

The producer’s aim has been to use the best Sangiovese grapes “to produce a Tuscan red dominated by fruity and spice notes, typical of the grape”. This worthy effort may be enjoyed with red meats and pasta dishes.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Season’s Olive Oil & Wines of Tuscany


New Season’s Olive Oil & Wines of Tuscany

 with iconic Italian producers


Thursday 8th November 2012, 7pm, at The Grain Store, Ballymaloe

Enjoy a ‘Taste of Tuscany’ in County Cork, at The Grain Store, Ballymaloe, with the following producers, in association with Liberty Wines.

Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, from Capezzana, Carmignano, Tuscany

Federico Giuntini, Selvapiana, Chianti Rufina

Federico Manetti, Fontodi, Chianti Classico

and Italian expert, David Gleave, Master of Wine, Liberty Wines



Thursday 8th November, 7pm, €24. Advance booking advised.



Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork

Tel:             021 4652531         res@ballymaloe.ie

More details here http://www.ballymaloe.ie/things-to-do/wine-events





**** Also a reminder that the Sherry event that was postponed (the Sherry event is not taking place 25th October due to unforeseen circumstances) will be rescheduled for early 2013 – dates to follow****

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

GREEN GREEN OLIVE OILS OF TUSCANY


OLIVE OIL MASTER CLASS


Three of Tuscany’s makers featured at an Olive Oil Master class in Ballymaloe Cookery School last Wednesday (9/11/11). Capezzana were represented by Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, Federico Giuntini Masseti was there for Fattoria Selvapiana while Liberty Wines’ David Gleave MW stood in for Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi.

Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the Olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows.

Federico remembered the one in 1985 as a disaster. “The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took us all of ten years to get a good crop again.” There were a number of difficulties this year mainly due to the very cold weather in December and this has resulted in an oil that isn’t as green and spicy as normal.

Still, the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event, according to Beatrice: “It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and we always cook with good oil.”

We started our tasting with the multi-varietal Capezzana, harvested a little earlier than usual. Like the others, this was quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.

Just two varietals in the Fontodi, the Frantoio accounting for 80%. Another lovely oil for salads or soups or for drizzling over pastas and salads. David Gleave remarked again that it wasn't quite as spicy as usual, lacking a little of what he termed austerity. I think most of us were maybe relieved that it wasn't as spicy as normal!

The Selvapiana was also neither as green nor as spicy as usual and, according to Federico, was part of a small crop after two bad winters in a row. But it was a lovely viscous liquid with enough of a spicy finish and he particularly recommended having it on toasted bread.

The lunch dishes that followed our “lessons” were a practical and tasty demonstration of the use of Olive Oil in cooking. We started with delicious Pumpkin and Faro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and the Selvapiana oil.

Then onto a light and lovely plateful of Roaringwater Bay scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and the Capezzana oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread was used with these two dishes.

The main course was Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with Allegrini, thyme, garlic and black pepper served with braised winter greens and Golden Wonder Fontodi Mash.

Pretty full at that stage but still room for a delightful Raisin, Orange and Walnut biscotti served with a knockout Capezzana Vin Santo, a sweet wine that requires much patience and investment to bring to the table. But well worth the wait!

Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t the only wine on the table as we got to taste samples of Fontodi’s Meriggio 2010 (100% Sauvignon Blanc), Selvapiana’s Chianti Rufina 2009 and their flagship Vigneto Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007, then the 80% Sangiovese Capezzana Carmignano Villa de Capezzana 2007 (91 points on the Wine Advocate) and next the terrific Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pive 2008 (92 points in the Wine Advocate).

Quite a line-up of wines but the focus during the morning was very much on the oils. And it was hard to believe that just a week ago, the olives were still on the plant in beautiful Tuscany.

The wines and the oils are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines who have a new website which you may see here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ballymaloe to showcase Tuscan Wines and Olive Oil


Wines and Olive Oil of Tuscany
Winemaker Dinner  
Wednesday 9th November 2011, 8pm, at Ballymaloe
      
     
For the first time to be held in Ireland, launching the new season’s Tuscan Olive Oil, will be the owners of some of Tuscany’s iconic Olive Oil & Wine Estates, in association with Liberty Wines. The Tuscan estates represented here by the owners themselves, on Wednesday 9th November, at Ballymaloe will be:

Bea Contini Bonacossi, from Capezzana, Carmignano www.capezzana.it

Federico Giuntini, Selvapiana, Rufina www.selvapiana.it

and David Gleave MW, of Liberty Wines will introduce the wines and olive oils of Fontodi www.fontodi.com
                 Dinner in the evening will be with the owners/winemakers from these Tuscan wine & Olive Oil estates here themselves for a unique evening at Ballymaloe, in association with Liberty Wines, with a specially chosen menu to match some of the finest wines from Tuscany, and the new seasons Olive Oil.

Wine and Olive Oil dinner, 8.00pm, €95
Tel: 021 4652531
Full details also online www.ballymaloe.ie