Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Masi & Louis Jadot Feature as Findlaters bring Wineberries to Cork

Masi and Louis Jadot Feature as Findlaters bring the Wineberries to Cork
Part Two: Masi, Louis Jadot
Mick O'Connell MW of Findlaters talking to guests at the Chapoutier stand.

Masi (Italy) and Louis Jadot (France) were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Masi 

Masi are “one of the great entrepreneurs of Italian wine,” according to The Modern History of Italian Wie and they were ably represented in the Montenotte by Export Manager Giacomo Boscaini.

Masi are well known for using techniques that enhance the flavour and concentration of their wines but I was somewhat surprised when he mentioned the technique in conjunction with the white he was pouring, the Massianco. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Grigio and 15% Verduzzo from Friuli. The Verduzzo spends three weeks drying and this enables it play quite a part in the final result (the fruits are vinified separately). This 2017 carries the DOC de Venezia.

They are proud of their techniques, experts in “enhancing aromas and tastes using lightly semi dried grapes”. This appassimento leads to a higher concentration of fruit and it seems to work well here.

There are excellent white fruit and blossom aromas and the colour is light gold with a green hue. This is Pinot Grigio plus, with character and concentration, a lip drying acidity and an impressive finalé. Well worth a try.

Just as I was going to another table, Giacomo asked me to try their Canevel Brut Prosecco Superiore DOCG. I’m so glad he did. I can take or leave Prosecco but will forever regard it in a different light after tasting this beauty, proudly sporting its DOCG, the fruit from the prime area of Valdobbiadene. A benchmark in the Canevel range, a dry and silky sparkling wine with delicate aromas of apples and spices. More than enough to convert me!

Skipped on down to Tuscany then for the first of the Masi reds. It was the Poderi Bellovile Rosso di Toscana (IGT) 2015. “Fresh, fruity, an everyday wine with lots of Tuscan character.” Would do nicely at the weekends too!

It is made from a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo grapes grown in the Cinigiano hills on the Poderi del Bello Ovile estate. Masi's purchase of this estate in collaboration with Conti Serego Alighieri marks the return of the descendants of the poet Dante to Tuscany.

Off to Argentina now with Giacomo to try the Passo Doble Valle de Uco 2016, a red wine with an unusually high aromatic content made on the organically run Masi Tupungato estate at Mendoza. The fruit is grown on sandy soil at a height of 1000 metres.

It is striking for its intense fruitiness and delicate spiciness and lovely finish. Its strong and exuberant character comes from the local Malbec grape, while the addition of lightly dried Corvina Veronese (that technique again!) gives it the easy appeal and attractiveness of Venetian wines.

Superb Prosecco
It is also the subject of a double fermentation. At the end of the first (after a month), the dried Corvina is added to start the second fermentation.

And Giacomo still had one big treat for me, the Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG. Proud, majestic, complex and exuberant: this is a special cru version of Masi's gentle giant, Costasera.

And here Masi's unrivalled expertise in the Appassimento technique is used to give the grapes a long period of further ripening on bamboo racks and then there’s an ageing period for the wine of at least three years in casks made from the finest wood types.

The expert use of indigenous grapes for the Valpolicella Classica area - Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara - is enriched by the addition of the unique Oseleta. Needless to say, this was superb!

The Oseleta is interesting as it had been forgotten until re-discovered by Giacomo’s uncle and “now we are using it”. Just goes to show that while companies are important, it is the contributions of individuals that can make all the difference. Saluti!



Maison Louis Jadot
Nicolas was in great form at the Louis Jadot stand. We had a Louis Jadot dinner with Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director of the company, in Inchydoney Lodge not too long ago and you may read about the wines here

Interestingly, Nicolas told me they had their own cooperage, Cadus, that they bought in 1996. Our first wine though, the Chablis 2017, is unoaked, deliciously fresh with a beautiful mouthfeel. Next up was the Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2016. After a soft pressing, part of the juice is fermented in "double barrels" of 406 litres. The other part is vinified and aged in stainless steel vats. Ageing usually lasts 13 to 15 months on fine lees before bottling. This is more intense, with more volume than the previous one, with good acidity and a really long finish. “Will last for years,’ said Nicolas.

Jadot make wines in Burgundy and also in neighbouring Beaujolais and when I came back to the reds, Nicolas offered the Fleurie 2017. Fleurie is one of the ten crus in the region and straightaway you notice its bright light red colour. “It is one hundred per cent Gamay. Red fruits, acidity, some tannins, well balanced.” A lovely drop as we might say around here.

In 1996, Louis Jadot bought Chateau de Jacques in Morgon, “a really old winery” who also have holdings in other crus here. Morgon is one of the main crus and this 2014 bottle had the added distinction of coming from the highly regarded Cotes de Py with its “granitic volcanic soil”. It was a cold year, natural yeast was used here and the wine spent 12-15 months in oak. Because of the cold, it took a while to open out “but now it’s getting better and better”. 

Torres and Hugel were also well represented here and you may read about my chats with them here.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town


Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town
Part One: Hugel, Torres, and Chapoutier

Torres and Hugel were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Hugel
Wines of Alsace in the Montenotte, with the city in the background
I met a proper star at the Famille Hugel stand where I was greeted by none other than Jean Frédéric Hugel himself and a taste of their outstanding Gentil. Gentil is an Alsace tradition, made from all the white grapes of the estate. And it is done carefully, to a very high and controlled standard.

I’ve been very partial to it for quite a few years now (the Hugel one is on sale in Bradley’s). Jean Frédéric told me it is their best seller. “It is produced from six different grapes. These are blended after the wine-making stage to balance it better. It is super versatile and works well by the glass in restaurants.” I thought that was interesting as I cannot recall seeing it offered around this area. Maybe there’s an opening there - it is delicious and, as Jean Frédéric said, super versatile.

Many shrug when climate change is mentioned but those closest to the ground - the farmers - know it is happening. Jean Frédéric referred to it as he offered me their 2009 Pinot Noir, “their simplest Pinot but from a great vintage, stellar”. Especially because of climate change, the quality of Pinot Noir in the northern regions, including Alsace of course, is incomparable to what it was twenty years ago.” Burgundy beware seems to be the message.

Back in the old days, Alsace was known for its sweet wines and, like Germany (after Liebfraumilch), it took it a while to regain the respect for its wine. “But we have learned from those mistakes and are now back on track as a region”. I think that has been the case for quite a while now.

This was well illustrated with a couple of excellent Rieslings, beginning with the 2016, “a textbook Riesling, very dry”.  The 2015 was very dry again, “even a little flinty, a little bit smoky.. just a little bit of age now but this will evolve well”.

I then spotted the unmanned  Chapoutier stand nearby and helped myself to the sip of the white: Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2017, quite aromatic, good acidity and with a long finish. The whites here are often under-appreciated. The winemaker’s motto by the way is “Enjoy. Don’t over-analyse.”


Chapoutier’s winery and negociant business is situated in the Rhone area (with vineyards further afield, including Australia). “Our own vineyards and the single vineyards that we select from are cultivated either organically or biodynamically.”  He is of course famous for his reds and had the Cotes de Rhone Collection Bio on show here. I previously did a little feature on him and you may read it here

Torres
With Miguel Torres (left) in Dublin
"The more we care about the earth,
 the better our wine"

Torres is a big company but it is still a family company. And concerned about the climate. Just like Hugel, they see what is happening to the earth. 

Less than four years ago, Miguel Torres, one of the family’s fifth generation, spoke in Dublin saying the threats from climate change are been seen “more and more”. “Vineyards are very much at risk. Hailstorms are an example.” And they are doing something about it as you may read here in my article “Message in a bottle”

Lucas, whose parents are from Argentina, managed the Torres stand in the Montenotte and told me he had three different wines from different regions (plus one from Chile where the family is credited with reviving and transforming the industry). 

Torres are based in Penedes (near Barcelona) in the north east of Spain but our first wine was from the other side, an Albarino by Bruxas from Rias Baixas. No oak is used and it spends just six hours on lees. Very light, citrusy and refreshing with great acidity. “Very good with all seafood and goats cheese,” Lucas advised.

Torres seek out higher vineyards (climate change again a factor) and the grapes for the next wine, the Altos Ibericos, are grown between 400 and 700 metres above sea level in Rioja Alvesa. The altitude helps the grapes retain acidity. 

Sixteen months in French oak and two years in bottle qualifies this 2012 as Reserva. It is elegant, very smooth, with softer tannins. “As it ages, the tannins will soften more, the flavours will become more like dried fruit and the colour will fade a bit.” Good now and good in the future! Oh, by the way, it is one hundred per cent Tempranillo.

And another high vineyard featured in the story of our next wine, the Celeste Criaza 2016 from Ribera del Duero. The fruit is grown in the western part of the region at a height of 900 metres above sea level. It is more or less a continental climate and the diurnal range “is good, with cool nights”. And in cooler areas, the Tempranillo grape develops a thicker skin to help protect its valuable properties. Lucas described it as a fruit bomb but it is quite a rounded one, very drinkable indeed. Crianza means it has spent 12 months in French and US oak and 12 months on bottle before release.

So now to Chile and the old vines Manso de Velasco (grown close to the ocean), a superb Cabernet Sauvignon from 2013. It has spent 18 months in French oak, small barrels. It was a warm year and the abv is 13.5%. “Fruit flavours are of blackberries and cherries. Drink now,” Lucas says, “but it will last”. One to watch out for!

Jadot and Masi also featured; details here.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Future Trends of an Exciting Wine List


Future Trends of an Exciting Wine List
It's Natural, says Beverley. Bryan's more cautious.


There’s definitely a massive trend towards natural wines, according to Beverly Mathews, owner of the L’Atitude 51 wine-bar in Cork. “Paris, London and New York are leading the way. People are looking specifically for natural wines. It’s a definite trend. Jean Foillard, who visited L’Atitude last year, is a star in Beaujolais. Aldi sold a natural orange wine last year and sold out quickly. Natural wines are full of character but can be quirky.”

Dalcassian Wines & Spirits came to Cork in force last week for a portfolio tasting. And very impressive it was too. It wasn’t all tasting of course and there was quite a bit of talking too. One of the best discussions came in a side room and was entitled Future Trends of an Exciting Wine List.  Beverley and Bryan McCarthy (Head Chef at Greene’s Restaurant) were the main speakers; Jules Mahon, Business Development Manager with Dalcassian, was in the chair and smoothly facilitated a very interesting hour or so on the main subject.

Bryan wasn’t as convinced about natural wine’s progress saying world trends in food and wine don’t necessarily follow through in Ireland.
L'Atitude 51, with natural wine-maker Thierry Puzelat (right)

He admitted to being surprised when he began to work with Frank Schiltkamp a few years ago. “I work closely on the pairing with the somm. It is when we introduce a new dish that more cooperation is required and it was something new to me that I may have to take some element out of the new dish and then Frank will have a matching wine. It’s all about the balance between food and wine. Wines by the glass is a growing trend and we now have twenty by the glass.”

The chef has noticed that German, Austrian and Portuguese wines are becoming more sought after, though the “old” wines are still popular but thought that in the future they will be seen less.
Bryan sees an increase in the popularity of Portuguese wines. This Reynolds range is  part of the Dalcassian portfolio

Beverley told us that L’Atitude is a fully licensed wine bar so they can serve a glass of wine without food and that “gives us flexibility to play around with wines. Wine is the most important element to us. We are a wine led bar.”

Jules then asked if there was a demand for lower ABV wines.
Bushby’s Strawberries at Greene's, paired with Alasia Moscato d'Asti, a low alcohol frizzante
Beverley said she gets lots of requests and that there is a definite demand for low alcohol drinks. Greene’s have introduced what they call “Sips” for couples on their tasting menu. So one gets the full wine treatment while the other can opt for Sips at about half the price.

Beverley wasn’t impressed with alcohol free wines saying “they’re not essentially wines”. But she said the technology is improving and that Torres have an 0.5% line. “There are lots of low alcohol beers and ciders, though”.

No matter the ABV, Bryan’s main aim is that the wine complements the food, doesn’t clash with it and doesn’t overpower it. Frank will have his own aims but “we do work well together”.

Organic Wine
Brian said that, for him, flavours in organic wine are similar to those in non-organic. For him too, it was more about provenance.

Beverley: “In recent years concern for the environment has been spilling over into food and wine. People are asking more and more for organic, bio and natural. Customers are drinking better, making more informed choices and are more demanding. Wines, whose sales were once static, are now more popular and giving us more fun. People now ask for different grape varieties, want to explore”.

Brian agreed the people “are more experimental”. Frank has spotted the trend and people are buying accordingly.

Beverley is a big fan of Coravin. “We have over a hundred wines by the glass. Coravin is essential and not just for the more expensive wines. I know the wines are fresh from it and we use it on many wines. Wines are at their freshest and people get variety.”

How best to present the wine list
Greene’s sommelier Frank says they have tried various formats, grouping by region, by flavour profile, by price. And it would seem that price is key for many. “Even corporate customers have a budget”. 
An Italian at Cask (Greene's little sister)

Frank though loves seeing a customer who knows exactly what he wants and ordering it straightaway. Sometimes that can be a lower priced wine and sometimes a top of the range champagne but, either way, the somm gives credit to the customer. Bryan said sample sips are not generally available in the restaurant (Greene’s) but are in Cask.

Beverley’s list is divided by style. “We have six or seven choices under each category. It encourages the customer to explore and not be daunted. It helps us that we can offer the customer a taste before purchase.”

Sparkling Trends?
A popular Friday Fizz at L'Atitude

Bryan says sparkling sales are customer driven. Prosecco is the most popular but Cava and Champagne are available. Frank concurred: “Frizzante is most popular because of price, especially among groups of women who’ll order a bottle before a meal. It is fun and nice to drink.” Beverly bemoaned that Cava suffers because of higher import duties and Bryan agreed that those same taxes “have a lot to do with what people drink”.

Could Crémant be the next big thing? “You do see it,” says Frank “but it’s still a hard sell. On the other hand, you don’t sell champagne, people buy it!” Beverley confirmed that champagne is selling well now after stalling for a good few years.

Of course, despite all the problems (including taxes of all kinds), people can still help themselves. L’Atitude have a long-running Friday Fizz where customers can buy a glass of the nominated bubbles at a very reasonable price and the Raven (who held a successful Spanish wine tasting recently) offer all wines at the same price, €22.00 per bottle, every Monday. night.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Frank Hederman: “Great talker. Great smoker”


Hederman: “Great talker. Great smoker”

How do you know when it’s ready? That’s a question often asked by visitors to the Hederman Smokehouse in Belvelly as they see the salmon hanging in the old smokehouse. Not an easy one to answer, lots of variables including the time of year, the weather (including the wind).
Fishing for wild salmon, close to the city, by the Lower Glanmire Road. July 2018

And you can’t put a timer on it. “You know when it’s done by feel,” says ace smoker Frank Hederman, speaking at the launch of this year’s Munster Wine and Dine programme in L’Atitude 51. And that feel can only come from experience. 

So the balance between the fish flavour, the salt (for the cure) and the smoke is achieved with some delicate handling and determined by the experienced touch of the smoker. Time, timing and touch. It’s a simple process and, when well handled, the results are simply superb, as has been the case for decades and as would be confirmed later in the evening. Thirty five to thirty six hours is the rough guideline for organic farmed fish while wild fish are done quicker.

Did you know that there are now just seven permits for wild fishing in Cork harbour and that’s where Frank gets his small supply of wild. “In some cases, it’s the third generation that are supplying us. They get just 12 weeks a year to make an income. We get our organic from Clare Island off Mayo”
Smoked mackerel on the Hederman stall at a local market 

It wasn’t easy for Frank when he started up in the mid 80’s. “Then it was only wild fish, lots of them. Drift netting though was very indiscriminate and was banned in 2006. When I started no one would tell you anything and there was also a recession to contend with.”

He doesn’t use any fancy salts, certainly not of the Himalayan variety. (Salt must be consistent, not exotic, just consistent). Once salted, the fish are then put on hooks in the smoker and left hang there until it’s ready. "We use beechwood. Salt, smoke and time are all that’s needed. A bit old-fashioned but it works rather well and people like it”.
Hot smoked salmon

And soon that last phrase was confirmed as we tucked into Smoked salmon and mushroom soup, with a touch of chilli and also Smoked sun-dried tomato on Brioche, both paired with a Pena del Aguila Fino En Rama Sherry from St Lucar. By the way, if you open a bottle of this,  don’t let it hang around for more than a month.

Next came the smoked Mackerel Paté followed by Hot Smoked Salmon with horseradish, lemon juice and creme fraiche. The matching drink here, and a good match too, was the Basque wine Ameztoi Txacoli de Getaria
Mackerel smoked on the bone by Hederman. Find out more about this amazing smoker here

And there was more including a generous tasting of the fantastic smoked organic salmon and a final flourish of delicious Smoked Salmon and Spinach cakes with garlic, the wine here Cantina Tollo Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
Trebbiano

Big thanks to Beverley and the L’Atitude kitchen for their contribution, to Jaques Restaurant for the brown bread and to Le Caveau for the wines.  Beverley had introduced Frank and his wife Caroline at the start of the evening, saying he was a great talker and a great smoker. Spot on, Bev.
Txacoli

Then Munster Wine and Dine announced details of the 2019 programme with at least four major events on the cards including an April multi-stop tour of producers and a restaurant in the Clon area, the next one in June will concentrate on Macroom and neighbouring parishes for more food and drink, September sees the bus going east to the new Blackwater Distillery, a cheesemaker and a top notch restaurant, before ending in November with a call to the Bertha’s Revenge micro distillery and a macro lunch at Ballyvolane House. Munster Win & Dine: mwdcircle@gmail.com
A vineyard in Getaria, where the dry Txacoli wine (made from local grapes) comes from.





Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum of Dublin
Was your first wine step with Blue Nun? You weren't on your own - it was the biggest selling wine of the 70s

The U2 room. These few pictures are just a little dip in the treasure trove that is in the museum.
The Little Museum of Dublin, across the road from the northern edge of Stephen’s Green, is a superb visit with a guided tour and three floors of exhibitions. In the basement, there is the excellent Hatch and Co café where your museum ticket entitles you a discount!
FX Buckley - still serving excellent steak to this day
The museum tells the story of Dublin in the 20th century and indeed all the exhibits have been donated by the public. There’s a lot there to go through and a guided tour is included in your ticket. Your guide, most are actors, will set the scene for you over half an hour or so and then you are free to wander back and forward through the rooms.
Express delivery

Our guide,  June,  expertly and light-heartedly (mostly) took us through the 20th century in the capital, the big events such as the 1916 rising and later the bombing of North Strand during the second world war, and often the small ones too, like the six ducks that were killed during the 1916 fighting in Stephen's Green where the rebels were led by Michael Mallin and Countess Markiewicz.
At the grocers
 There is a U2 room also with all kinds of artefacts from the group’s rise to fame. There is a room dedicated to Wings of Ireland, A people’s history of Irish aviation, a relatively new exhibition. Also The Shaking Hand of Dublin display recall Alfie Byrne who was the most popular Dublin-born politician of the 20th century. Byrne's personal archive is now on view here. There are features on the women who have always played a part in Ireland's history- their contribution now recognised. And a corner called the Editor’s Desk, a tribute to the Irish Times.


 And there is much much more. Lots of events too are arranged here, the Green Mile is a guided walk around the green, bring your school class to visit the museum for free, every Monday at 1.00pm Sarah Costigan tells you the story of Ireland's famous female pioneers……. I could go on and on. Do visit - it is Very Highly Recommended for young and old alike, maybe young and old together!

Irish Times exhibit

The Joshua Tree Award


Rory Gallagher (in the U2 room)


Good old days (for some) remembered

The Little Museum of Dublin
15 St Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
also on this Dublin trip:
Pearse Lyons Distillery
Café en Seine




Monday, January 7, 2019

Heart of Spain. In the heart of East Cork


Heart of Spain
In the heart of East Cork



You’ll find the Heart of Spain at the very back of the Fota Retail Park (by Cobh cross). And by the Heart of Spain, Alejandro and his friends, mean Castilla y Leon, a big region in the North-West of the country. Speaking of Castilla y Leon, Lonely Planet says “as with most of Spain, food here is an agreeable obsession, promising the country's best jamón (cured ham), roast lamb and suckling pig.”

No roast lamb in Cork but they do have expressions of the other two. The Heart of Spain is the quality seal for Castilla y Leon´s finest food , has a special place amongst those products that bear the name, tradition and history of the farmers that have produced the ingredients they are made with. The eye-catching yellow heart seal certifies total traceability from origin, guaranteeing professionals and consumers alike clearly differentiated quality.

Just to be clear, you won’t be getting food or drink here from all over Spain, just from this region and that yellow seal is stamped with Tierra de Sabor, meaning Castilla y Leon is  “a land of flavour”.

Take the cured meats for example. Their supplier, Chacinerías Diaz, manages the entire manufacturing process from breeding and raising their own livestock to producing their own fodder, slaughterhouse and production plant.

You’ll find quite a display of sheeps cheese here for which Pago Los Vivales has been nominated twice at the World Cheese Awards between 2017 & 2018. You can get it at 6 months, 12 months (Reserva) and 18 months (Gran Reserva).

Lots of patés here also, including Foie Gras, made by three French brothers who returned to their parents’ Spanish village in the summer of 1989. Not just duck. They also sell pork paté and Ostrich (the one I bought).
This came in handy over the Christmas.

Quite a selection of jams and mermeladas too including Quince Jelly, Tomato Jelly, and a Fig jam that caught my eye. If you call there around lunch-time (from 1.00 to 3.00pm) on Saturdays, you won’t be buying blind. They serve up some lovely tapas, using the cheese and the various spreads. By the way, if you cannot make it to the store, they do have an on-line ordering facility.

And they have a couple of bottles of wine open as well every Saturday, usually one red and one white. The wines are DO Rueda & Ribera del Duero and produced by Emina, based in Valladolid.  Got myself a 50cl bottle of their Moscatel - also handy over the Christmas!

And where there’s wine, there’s usually olive oil. And yes, they have Extra Virgin Olive Oil and also Balsamic Vinegar of various flavours. 

No huge selection of anything - this is not a supermarket. More like a farmers market. If you have a taste for the real food of Spain, then this is worth a call. And while you are there, don’t forget that, a hundred meters away, the fantastic Bakestone Pantry has well over one hundred Irish artisan products for sale. 



Mary Presents Another Excellent Double!


Ferraton “Calendes” Rouge 2015, Crozes-Hermitage (AOC), 13.5% abv, €24.90 Mary Pawle Wines

Calendes is the name for the day of the new moon and an indication of time passing, an indication also that the winemaker is guided by the lunar cycles. This Biodynamic wine is one hundred per cent Syrah. The barrel ageing (20 to 30% in new oak) lasts about 12 to 14 months depending on the vintage.

It has a deep ruby colour. Ripe red fruits on the nose. Smooth and rich too on the palate with a strong waft of spice; it is ample and generous with delicate tannins and a slight hint of vanilla and the lengthy finalé also features ripe fruity notes and spices. 

They advise decanting about one hour in advance; must admit I didn’t do that. Serve at 16-18 degrees. Wines from Hermitage itself are of course the most sought after in this Northern Rhone area but you can find some good ones too in the much larger Croze-Hermitage and this is one of them. Very Highly Recommended.

According to an official Inter-Rhone information booklet, these reds in their youth combine well with delicatessen meat, lamb or roasted guinea fowl. On maturity they are the perfect accompaniment to casseroles, coq au vin, rich beef stew, beef in red wine etc. 

La Marouette Blanc Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 12.5%, €13.50 Mary Pawle.
Sans sulfite ajouté is proudly displayed on the front label of this organic wine, one hundred per cent Chardonnay and new to the Mary Pawle list. Mary says this is “eagerly awaited” with pleasing aromas of pineapple and honey. Well rounded and supple in the mouth and a good match with fish, chicken or salad dishes. 

It is produced in the heart of the Pays d'Oc in the South of France. The vinification is done at low temperature for a good conservation of the aromas. Jacques Frelin Vignobles, formerly La Maison des Terroirs Vivants, is a major French player in organic wine.

It has a lovely light to mid-gold colour. The aromas, gentle tropical fruit, are reasonably intense. And there’s a similar persistent intensity on the palate, pineapple to the fore, fresh and with a delicately buttered body and the finish is good too. Highly Recommended. Good value also by the way. Serve between eight and ten degrees. Ideal as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to fish or shellfish.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Sparkling New Year to you. Not forgetting Nollag na mBan



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 (biscuity, like Marietta!) aftertaste.

The vineyard is planted on the privileged Epernay soil; Epernay is the capital of Champagne and also a town of artistic and historical importance. And, yes,Granzamy do blends of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Here, a small number of growers are concentrating their efforts into bringing Pinot Meunier back into the limelight as a variety which produces quality Champagnes and not just a varietal to compliment a blend. Granzamy is one of those growers.


Akarua Brut NV, Central Otago (New Zealand), 13%, €43.99 Tindal Wine Merchants Limited, Baggot Street Wines, Searsons Wine Merchants,The Corkscrew, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants WINEONLINE.IE
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the grapes used here and, yes, it may be New Zealand but this is made in the Methode Traditionelle, that is the champagne way, and it spends a minimum of 18 months ageing on yeast lees. 

A serious contender then with an inviting gold colour and very good small-bubble flow. Aromas are floral, savoury and that brioche is there too. It is almost creamy in the mouth followed by that long crisp brut (dry) finish.

Sparkling wines are a relatively new operation of the vineyard but already Akarua has been bringing in the medals, mainly gold. This Brut NV (non vintage) is a fine aperitif wine and is ideal for celebrating with friends whenever and wherever you get together, be it New Year’s Eve, birthday or anniversary, or Nollag na mBan! If using it as an aperitif (it was outstanding here on Christmas morning), don’t forget to provide some nibbles - these bubbles go to the head faster than still wine!

Here’s another lovely bottle of bubbles from O’Brien’s. This is from Australia and is a rosé. Again, it is made by the Traditional Method (same way as champagne) and is a blend of selected vintages, hence the NV. 

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 and, along the way, you come across that bread-biscuit flavour. Another superb and delicious aperitif and, again, don’t forget those nibbles for yourself and your guests! Happy New Year.






Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €12.00 Aldi

Got this Brut (dry) at the local Aldi. I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, again made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, is perfect for any celebration (big or small). It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, that hint of biscuit and a fine finish. Good price too, bubbles on a budget.

French sparkling wines made by the méthode champenoise but falling outside the boundaries of the Champagne region are termed Crémant. Grapes other than the traditional Champagne varieties may also be used.They are produced in many regions of the country including Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Limoux, Alsace, and the Rhone (known as Crémant de Die).