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

Monday, June 10, 2019

Three Rosés for Summer 2019 at O'Brien's. Dive in as prices tumble!


Three Rosés for Summer 2019 at O'Brien's
Dive in as prices tumble!



She laid take out on the coffee table
Prepped the dishes poured a glass of wine
Turn down the sound and move a little closer
Here for the moment everything is alright
(from Bon Jovi's  "Because We Can)

This rosé from the south of France, with an American accent, really comes into its own on the palate, a delicious melange of flavours, fresh and fruity and acidity enough, followed by a light and lengthy finalé. A superb aperitif and probably excellent too with finger food, seafood and salads. One for the back garden (no pool to dive into, alas) in the months ahead.

It is a collaboration between renowned France winemaker Gérard Bertrand and Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse, hence the American name. It was voted Wine Spectator’s top rosé last year. This appearance in Ireland is thanks to O’Brien’s. It comes with an almost clear robe, the merest blush of colour. Floral and fruity elements feature in pleasing aromas of moderate intensity.

It is produced primarily from the Grenache grape though other Mediterranean grapes, such as Cinsault and Mourvedre, are also in the blend, all selected by Gérard Bertrand. Particular attention is paid to the pressing to ensure that only the first, highest-quality juice is kept. Highly Recommended.




Quite a few words on the label here: Alicia and Lynne, Navarra, Native Garnacha, Hand Farmed, Hand picked, Wild ferment, concrete tanks, force of nature, Artisanal, vegan.

They tell you most of what you need to know. Alicia and Lynne are the wine-makers, Alicia from Tandem and Lynne from O’Brien Wines. O’Brien’s are very happy with the part played by their very own Wine Director Lynne Coyle (Master of Wine) in this “delicious little rosé using natural wild yeast". It was produced in Navarra in the north of Spain and Garnacha is the grape here.

Force of Nature hints at the overall process, they worked “without technology”. It is also the name of a thriller by Jane Harper that I’ve just finished. The book, like the wine, is Very Highly Recommended!

It has a salmon colour. A very pleasing aromatic bouquet and an equally pleasing presence on the palate, fruity for sure (strawberry prominent), persistent too. I like this one, the introduction and the while handshake, start to finish. A very attractive wine, even more so at the reduced price. Very Highly Recommended.


Another famous name on this bottle, that of renowned French wine family J-M Cazes. This rosé though comes not from Bordeaux (where they have owned Chateau Lynch-Bages since 1939) but from another of their vineyards in the Languedoc.

So, L’Ostal is from the south of France, the source of many of those rosés that we know and love. It has somewhat less flavour than the Rós which also has a longer finish. This though is a lighter wine, a drink anytime kind of wine. Try it with a salad in the back-garden at lunch-time (check the forecast!) and you’ll be delighted with it.

Made from Syrah (50%) and Grenache, it is quite a pale pink, though its colour has more substance than the Hampton Water. It has been macerated (soaked) for a very short time on the skins to create this modern blush effect. The aromas too are delicate and also complex; concentrate and you may find pomegranate and rose petals there. The strawberry flavours are restrained but nothing wrong with that. It is fresh and supple in the mouth, refreshing with a slightly fruity, slightly sweet finish. Highly Recommended.

Summary:
Not that easy to pick a winner. Each of the three has its own character. So it's down to personal taste and you won’t go wrong with any of the three. My first instinct is to go with the Rós, my second is to call for a 3-way replay! Oh, by the way, virtually every rosé in O'Brien's is reduced by 25% in the O'Brien's summer promotion that runs from now until July 21st. We'll take a look at the whites and the reds on offer soon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Three Light Reds for the Months Ahead


Three Light Reds for the Months Ahead

Les Foulards Rouges “Octobre” Vin de France 2018 11.5%, €20.85


This is a bit of an ambush. Nothing in the colour (a weak red) or in aromas (delicate) quite prepares you for what lies ahead when you sip this Languedoc blend of Syrah (mostly) and Grenache. “Smile inducing.” “Sings in the glass.” Quotes from importers Le Caveau and I fully agree.

That weak red colour is very close to a rosé. And the aromas have a delicate red berry nose, a touch of white pepper too. It is a pleasant surprise in the mouth, supple and pretty, with quite a lively character, reaching a high level of quality. 

Despite the initial doubts, I totally concede: this is exquisite, distinctive too, closer to a Beaujolais than one would think possible in a Southern red with Syrah as the main grape. Perhaps the sea breezes wafting in over the spiralling red roofs of Collioure have something to with that and with the lower ABV. If you are looking for a pretty and light red wine, and many people are nowadays, then look no further than this Highly Recommended red. 

Octobre is released each year in… October; 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache grown on granitic soil, hand harvested and spontaneous carbonic fermentation, no SO2 added. Jean-François Nicq, one of the Foulard Rouge (red scarves), took over the domaine in 2002 and practices natural wine-making and you can taste it in this pure wine.


Contrefours du Delta Côtes de Ventoux (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle

There is an increased interest in lighter red wines in recent years and, if you’d like to try one, this bottle fits the bill. It is an organic wine from the southern edge of the Rhone Valley, a “supple and juicy” blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah.

Mid ruby is the colour. It is aromatic with a mix of red fruits (raspberries and strawberries included). It is indeed charming and light, juicy and a refreshing drop with a decent finish, tannins just about noticeable on the lips. Can be served cool too, so handy for the warmer days ahead. Well made and Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.

Pairing tips included grilled lamb with thyme, goat cheese or with a fig tart.

Terrabianca “La Fonte” Sangiovese Tuscany (IGT) 2012, 13.5%, €16.15 Karwig


Do you need a light summer-time red for that pizza or pasta?  Check out this easy-drinking well-priced wine Tuscan wine from Karwig’s. Sangiovese is the grape and it is a major grape in that part of Italy, its reputation reinforced over the years by its role in wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti itself of course, and also Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. You’ll note rich dark red fruit (cherry, plum) in the aromas. Well balanced on the palate, light fruit and lively acidity, a touch of soft tannins towards the finish. Easy drinking and Recommended.


Monday, May 27, 2019

A Riesling to remember and a Chardonnay with a difference



Let the drums and trumpets sound for this outstanding German Riesling. The label does it well: A Riesling dry in style and well balanced like its Rheingau predecessors from the glorious age of Riesling a century ago: a contemporary classic and a perfect partner for many foods.

Don’t know anything about the Rieslings of a century ago but this light gold coloured wine is a gem for sure. Intense aromas of apple and pear indicate a good year in the Rheingau, a year for the grape to flourish. And that’s soon confirmed on the palate with its crisp acidity and yellow stone fruit (peach, apricot), a striking minerality too maintained to the persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended. No wonder Wilhelm Weil considers it as one of the best he has produced in 30 years (reported by none other than an enthusiastic Robert Palmer). 

You can hardly talk of Riesling without mentioning acidity and minerality. In his book Reading Between the Wines, Terry Theise says "Acidity is innate to the berry". "Minerality, " he continues, "is inherent to Riesling, because the variety is, in its essence, more mineral than fruit. The Riesling genre is one of a mineral-tasting wine into which are woven various strands of fruit, depending on site and vintage."

Fruity, tangy, yet charming and harmonious, you’ll find it this Weil typically versatile at the table. A couple of suggestions, one “a merry table companion to a wide range of cuisines” and another, this via Google Translate, “goes brilliantly with fried fish, poultry and Asian dishes. But even without banqueting - he can sip excellent …"


The Mornington Peninsula, just over an hour south of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, is perfectly suited to growing Chardonnay and “a foremost region” too for Pinot Gris”. Chardonnay here though, according to Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, “is markedly different from any other Chardonnay produced in Australia”.

Stonier was established here in 1978 and are noted for their Burgundian style cool climate wines. The vineyards overlooks the ocean. Chardonnay is a signature wine for Stonier and this is a gem.

It has a yellow colour, with green tints. The aromas are gentle, of exotic fruits. Even the background flavours are delicate with melon and citrus to the fore. There is excellent texture, a pleasant creaminess, and complementary acidity. And it boasts a long and distinctive finish too. Delicious and satisfying, this is well made, harmonious and Highly Recommended.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Tasty Morning With Karen Coakley On Kenmare Foodies Tour.


A Tasty Morning With Karen Coakley
On Kenmare Foodies Tour.
Enthusiastic Emma at Maison Gourmet
Henry Street is abuzz this sunny mid-May morning. Shoppers out and about, drivers trying to find parking. All kinds of small shops here, cafés and bars too. But we’re in a back lane watching bakers at work. We’re privileged because we’re with Karen Coakley, the Kenmare Foodie herself, and her Kenmare Foodie Tour takes you to places you won’t get to on your own, allows you see what goes on behind the scenes (away from the bustling street and the busy counters) and in most places you get to chat with the person or persons who started the food (or drink) business.

Margaret of Kenmare Ice Cream is one of those protagonists. Rose also plays a key role but she has to leave on business and it is Margaret that tells us the story. Both are Ballymaloe trained and were looking to start something in 2007. A gourmet deli was the first aim and they did much work on that before a discouraging coffee stop in Adare put them off. By the time they got back to Kenmare the ice cream idea was born but not yet taken seriously!

Margaret at Kenmare Ice Cream
But after research, it quickly gathered momentum and they got some equipment. How do we sell? They bought a tricycle, added three planks, and Margaret went off selling while Rose made the ice-cream. By the end of that summer, with over 11,000 scoops sold, they knew they were on to something.

Soon they had to scale up. They found “proper equipment” , including a 24 flavour cabinet, and a UK expert came over to give them two days training. They had  started making French style ice cream but now switched to the Italian style. “Because it’s all about flavour,” said Margaret. “More so than the richer (egg based) French style. Raspberry Ripple was our first flavour, and still my favourite. We stay as clean and green as we can. Four years ago, we started making whipped ice cream and that is now a big success. We do high quality but at a good price.”

Their Bia Bia is a full scale cafe, including ice-cream of course, in Railway Street while Kenmare Ice Cream, where we visited, can be found on Henry Street (open 11.00am to 11.00pm in season when Margaret and Rose have 22 people employed). Oh yes, you may still see that tricycle around Kenmare on special occasions but their famous cow, Moodini, is parked up for a while, awaiting a suitable grazing spot!
Patrick and Emma talk sourdough
If you’re arriving in Kenmare from the West Cork side, you’ll spot Maison Gourmet on top of Henry Street on your left. It was here, on the terrace at the rear that we joined up with Karen and her group. Soon, we met Emma, the French lady behind the bakery/café. And she took us out the back, to the lane where the bakery is and where we got our hands on the dough and fashioned our little baguettes (which we would collect, nicely baked, at the end of the tour).

Here they use a rather special butter, the Isigny AOC (now AOP). They can’t use Irish butter. It is good but it doesn’t have the same elasticity as the Isigny. Emma, having been part of large bakeries in Carcassonne and Toulouse, is delighted to be in Kenmare and you can see that Kenmare is delighted to have her and her bakery. Amazing too how many French visitors find their way to Maison Gourmet. Maybe it's that tempting smell of the breads, cakes and Java coffee.

Thirty years ago, she met Patrick who was already a baker, fell in love with the baking and the baker. Emma has “flirted” with Ireland since she came here as an au pair when she was twenty. Then, 3 years ago, she and husband Patrick “took the path of our dream and we opened a bakery in Kenmare. That was the best idea that we ever had.”
Beara Gin truffles at Lorge

Their butter and flour may be imported from France but they also use lots of high quality Irish produce in the busy café. But it is the breads (including sourdough) and pastries that attract me, all those classics from butter croissants to pain au chocolat (again the very best of chocolate is used) to Macarons to Mille Feuille, strawberry tartlets and more.
Olivier (On the Wild Side)

More chocolate down the street where’ll you find the Lorge shop. Hard to believe he started making chocolate by accident. His “factory” at nearby Bonane is housed in the old post office and is now a thriving business. Karen told us he is currently working with Beara Gin and indeed we sampled some of those delicious white chocolate truffles and, later, bought some bars and a bag of his marshmallow.
Alain knows his wines

Soon we found ourselves down by the town park where the weekly market was in progress. As we walked, Karen was dispensing food and recipe ideas, lots of tips all the way through the morning. 

At the market, we sampled the cured meats (including a beetroot and pork saucisson and a delicious chorizo) by Olivier of On the Wild Side. Later we called back to get some of his paté and also those Merguez Lamb Sausages. Cheese samples then, including Milleens and Coolea, from Christian’s cheese stall where he had many choices for his customers.

“How about a glass of wine?,” said Karen. Oh yes was the answer. We headed for the Vanilla Grape, a wine and card shop owned by Alain and Christine. “We are here 15 years now,” said Christine. “though those shelves are over 100 years old.” Frenchman Alain is always on the lookout to give his customers wine at a good price, not easy though considering we “had two tax hikes since the recession”.

But he did have just the job for us, a Cà Vittoria apassimento style, not from the Veneto but from Puglia, and well priced at €19.50. As we sipped the Nero D’Avola, we discussed serving temperatures with Alain saying the fridge is not a friend of wine. Had another chat with him later in the afternoon and bought myself a bottle of Chateau Vincen from Cahors much to the delight of Alain who himself is from the area (Figeac).
Making coffee with the Syphon

Alexa and Dave are the duo behind Babors Beans at the Brewhouse in the Square. Here they are serving top quality coffees, sharing bites, monstrous burgers and zesty cocktails to brighten up your day. But we’re here for the coffee that they roast themselves.

Dave told me they have eight single origins and five blends. He has to keep an eye on the price. “You have to watch the market as the price changes every day. It is too expensive to buy from the individual farmers. I get mine from Inter America Company. 

He is, of course a passionate enthusiast. “You can drink 10 to 15 cups a day and it’ll do no harm if you drink a lot of water as well!” He showed us two ways of making coffee, with the Syphon (which I preferred) and with the Chemex. We also enjoyed an espresso. By the way, not alone can you buy 250 grm bags of the various coffees here but you can also get the implements including the Syphon and Chemex. The new roastery is close to being ready and then he’ll be doing classes and demos and no doubt Karen will have that on her tours as well!

After all that, it was back up to Maison Gourmet to collect our loaves and say goodbye to one another. The tour takes about three hours but it was so enjoyable, with so many different and informative chats, that the time flew.
Christian and his cheeses

Get all the info on Kenmare Foodie Tours here.   Karen is always working on varying the tour and soon there’ll be a fish call.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A couple of French classics that unexpectedly landed on my table

A couple of French classics that unexpectedly landed on my table


Château Vincens “Les Graves de Paul” Cahors (AOC) 2009, 15%, 

A village, on the River Lot, in the Cahors area
I needed a Malbec to go with a steak in winter and pulled out this one from Cahors, a gift from a friend, from his own stock. If you use wine-searcher.com I’m pretty sure you’ll find an Irish supplier, and the search will be well worth your time for, while Argentina Malbec is popular, the expertise of centuries in Cahors has not suddenly vanished, a point well illustrated in this bottle.
Hard at work in a Cahors vineyard


Chateau Vincens is in the heart of the region and Les Graves, aged from 20 to 22 months in new oak barrels, is Very Highly Recommended. Old vines from the best low yielding (gravelly) parcels of the estate are the basis for this intense concentrated gem.

Colour is a deep red, almost black. Intense dark fruit aromas, vanilla too. Harmony is perhaps the word for this, now that it has survived to 2019. Harmony of fruit and oak as this powerful wine purrs over the highways and byways of the palate, tannins close to smooth, the final stretch long and very satisfying indeed.

While a glass went down well with the steak, the winery suggests pairing it “with a duck with figs or a tagine of lamb with prunes”.








Joseph Domaine de Bellecours Sancerre (AOC) 2016, 13%, imported by Longueville Wines

This is Sauvignon Blanc from the quiet country hills of Sancerre. No salty aromas here from where ocean meets land, though the ocean has been here, twice, in ages past. No ocean spray here now, no high grass bent by the fresh wind, sun yes but nothing blinding in the calm countryside, just the calm of centuries of crafting the vine and its fruit. Une vieille verité dans le verre.

Since 1513, the Mellot family have worked in the vines and cellars here. Once, one of them was wine adviser to the King of France himself. Their customers now, in forty countries worldwide, are somewhat more modest (presumably!), especially for this young wine with its light straw colour and aromas of pears and peach. The palate of fruit and freshness has brio and balance. Highly Recommended. Their Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2015 would be Very Highly Recommended.

Food pairings. Shellfish (Oysterhaven mussels) and a Seafood Bourride  (the Provençal bouillabaisse) have worked well for me. The producers recommend Grilled sole, fried langoustines, scallop terrine or goat's cheese.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Four Super Wines from Mary Pawle


Four Super Wines from Mary Pawle Wines

Maison Emmanuel Giboulot Bourgogne (AOC) 2016, 11.5%, €30.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This wine is organic and biodynamic, as are many of the wines that Mary Pawle imports. So nothing new there.

Except that, as recently as 2014, this winemaker Emmanuel Giboulot was fined and threatened with a jail term for sticking to his principles. He was convicted for refusing a government order to spray crops with pesticides, following fear over an outbreak of golden rot, only to have the decision reversed on appeal. Prison rather than poison.

This is quite a wine with a lovely light gold colour. Delicate aromas of white flowers. A velvety mouthfeel, beautiful intense fruit (stone, citrus) from start to long finish. Excellent bright minerality too. This elegant wine is superbly balanced and is Very Highly Recommended.

Emmanuel met the problem of agricultural practices and its impact on wine and human health head on and is now a prominent advocate for organic and biodynamic viticulture. His wines reflect his principles and the widely acknowledged exceptional Burgundy terroir. Enjoy this one!   As we celebrate Real Wine Month.

Maison Emmanuel Giboulot “Terres Macônnaises” Mâcon-Villages (AOC) 2016, 11.5%, €30.00 Mary Pawle

Sometimes, I have very little to say about the better wines - they speak for themselves. This is one such. It is 100% Chardonnay and biodynamic. Colour is a very bright light gold. There are appealing aromas of white fruit, blossom notes too. Superb fruit (pear and apple), a refreshing acidity, and that balanced mix takes you all the way to a long and satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Grapes are hand-picked and sorted. The whole bunch is pressed and cold settled for 24 to 48 hours. The light must is fermented in old oak tanks. Before being bottled, it is aged on fine lees for 11 months.

The Mâconnais wine region is in the south of Burgundy and takes its name from the town of Mâcon. It is best known for its Chardonnays. 



Hemingway was quite a lover of these wines as he disclosed in A Moveable Feast. On a drive up from the south of France with Scott Fitzgerald, they enjoyed a packed lunch which included truffled roast chicken and he reported that Scott was very happy when we "drank the white Maconnais at each of our stops".  Later on that day, "At Mácon I had bought four bottles...which I uncorked as we needed them." No breath-analyser in those roaring twenties.

The French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann was born and raised in Mâcon but was deemed too small to play for Lyons so headed for Spain where he is now earning about €400,000 a week with Atletico Madrid. Since I didn’t have to say too much about the excellent wine, I thought I’d throw that in!
                   

Dit Celler “Selenita” Montsant (DO) 2008, 14.5%, €17.00 Mary Pawle Wines
Biodiversity in the vineyard
This powerful red is a blend of Garnatxa, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mary Pawle: “If you are fond of the wines from Priorat then you should enjoy the Montsant wines from the opposite valley.”
Priorat is a region in Catalonia, Spain. The central part of the region, Priorat històric, produces the highly-regarded wines that are certified under the DOQ Priorat. Wines from elsewhere in the region are certified as DO Montsant.

So now that we know about Montsant, how about the name of the wine? The Selenita are the inhabitants of the moon and the producers infer that some of their night-time magic has been bottled. You too are free to use your imagination! While we’re on it, the winery is named after its founders Dani Sánchez (from Azul y Garanza in Navarra) and Toni Coca, so D and T (DiT).

Wine-Searcher says Montsant, an approved wine region only since 2001, has earned a reputation for its high-quality red wines. This dark ruby offering is one of them. It is lighter at the rim (still very narrow, even after ten years). The legs are certainly slow to clear, confirming the high abv. Intense dark fruit aromas (plum, cherry, cassis), toasty notes too. Powerful yet velvety on the palate, elegant, deeply flavoured and tannins by now well-integrated (you’ll get a soft reminder on the lips), smooth spice, and the long finish echoes the palate. A big hug of a wine and Very Highly Recommended.


Mas Théo Gemeaux Vin de France 2016, 13.5%, €17.20 Mary Pawle

The little-known Grignan-les-Adhémar AOC growing area lies to the south of Montélimar (a Rhone city famous for its nougat). Planted among fields of lavender and thyme or olive groves, on land long famous for its truffles, the vines soak up the scents and aromas distilled by the generous sun of the Drôme provençale and it is in the heart of this area that you’ll find Mas Théo. Mas by the way means farmhouse; Mas de la Dame near Baux de Provence is another example. This AOC is between the northern and southern Rhone and is regarded as southern.

This “delicious and crunchy” wine is a blend of Carignan (60%) and Mourvedre (40), is organic and biodynamique. Recommended serving temperature is 14%.

It has a very dark red robe and you’ll find blackberries and notes of the garrigue in the aromas. It’s nice and smooth on the palate, has excellent acidity, medium to full bodied, smooth tannins and a good finish. Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Spit 2019. Part One. With Winemason and Nomad.


Spit 2019. Part One
With Winemason and Nomad.
Ballymaloe's Samuel (left) with Winemasons Ben and Killian (right)

Non alcoholic
Quite a few sparkling wines (Cava, Champagne and Prosecco) on display when SPIT Cork came to town yesterday. I thought it would be rude not to try at least one and so I asked Ben of Winemason for a taste of the Llopart Organic Brut Reserva Cava 2015, a blend of Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada. It was an excellent start and again I was left wondering why we Irish don’t drink more of this Spanish sparkler.

“Here’s one you should try,” said Ben offering me a German sparkler. “The Germans are the biggest consumers of sparkling wine,” he said. As this Fritz Muller Alcohol Frei NV was non-alcoholic, I had no reason to say no! It has a little bit of sweetness but very enjoyable and one of best non alcoholic wines I’ve tasted. It has become very popular and Ben emphasised that it is “a real success”.

Time for a few whites then beginning with the :
Aphros Biodynamic Loureiro, 2017. Aphros was probably the first biodynamic vineyard in Portugal and here on the granite soil Loureiro is the grape. Superb flavour and long finish in this one. Some Albarino can be a little over the top in terms of aroma and flavour but the Leirana 2018, from Forjas del Salnes, is more restrained, a beautifully crafted wine from Rias Baixas.

Moment of Silence, 2018, by South Africa maverick Blankbottle is a star wine. Excellent, year in year out, always Chenin based though the other varieties may vary. The 2018 blend features Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. One to look out for.
Pieter of Blankbottle

And the white may soon have a red parter as Master of None is proving “very interesting, unique” according to Killian of Winemason. The 2017, that impressed on tasting, is their first year making the Master of None, the name is apparently a joke against the winemaker himself (he also designs and prints the labels himself). The bland features Grenache, Cinsault, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Roussane. It will be interesting to see how the 2018 stands up.

Cuvee Vom Berg, 2015, by Muhr Van Der Niepoort in Carnuntum, Austria, a blend of Syrah and Blaufrankisch, is a knockout wine. Fruit-focused, with supple tannins and pure acidity, it has great finesse, and is quite Pinot-like in style. The Muhr is Austrian while the Niepoort will be familiar to you from their wine (including port)  business in Portugal. Killian told me it has been getting great reviews and I was certainly taken with this very smooth and polished wine.

The Organic Pitti, 2016, by Pittnauer was another impressive Austrian, a blend of Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt. A nice range of flavours, floral notes and a touch of spiciness, moderate acidity and an excellent finish.

Back to the whites at Nomad Wines. Vin de Savoie “Or Blanc” 2018 Domaine Trosset was my first sip. Virtually no colour at all in this one but, light, fresh and fruity, it has about everything else. Grape variety is  Jacquére.

Had been hoping to try an Alsace Sylvaner but the Zinck 2017 didn’t make it to Cork. But there was an excellent substitute in the Goisot Bourgogne Aligoté 2016. Not too familiar with the Aligoté but this excellent winemaker neatly illustrates its potential.
Bourgueil tasting

Have enjoyed a few Cabernet Franc from Bourgueil over the years and the 2016 Domaine Guion didn’t let the Loire down. The Fleurie 2017 by Domaine de Fa was another excellent light wine. And another light one, unexpectedly so considering that the grapes were Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon, was the Buzet “Jarnicotton” Domaine du Pech. No sulphites added here by the way.

Winemason is owned by Ben Mason and Barbara Boyle and provide independent retailers and restaurants with original and distinctive wines from Europe and South Africa. They also help shape exciting well-priced wine lists for the on and off trade.

Nomad are regarded as Burgundy specialists. It was founded in 2007 by Thierry Grillet and Charles Derain and, in 2016, Jérémy Delannoy joined the team and they “are always looking for wines that have lots of precision and definition”.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Pinot Noir on the Double!


Pinot Noir on the Double!
 One from Oregon and one from Burgundy.

Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (Oregon USA) 2014, 14%, €46.55 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Unusually, this US winery gives a list of “contents” on the bottle: Sun. Rain. Drizzle. More sun, Some fog. The fruits of sustainable farming. Flavours of black cherry and raspberry mingling with earth and truffle. Aromas of the same. 16 m in French oak. Love and Care.

Put them all together and you get an excellent organic wine. The word “Estate” on the label is significant in that the fruit for this wine comes from virtually every parcel of the farm.

Colour is the classic light ruby. Aromas of raspberry and cherry, a little hint of the oak. Amazing flavours, cherry and plum, intense and seductive. Oak is well integrated, tannins retain some grip. And this fragrant, silky and harmonious wine boasts a long satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

“A beverage of pleasure” may be an apt description here. The phrase was used by a certain Mr Robert Parker though he was probably referring to wine that was much bigger and bolder than this elegant Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir thrives at Sokol Blosser and the exceptional red (volcanic) jory soils of the Dundee Hills provide a good home. The estate vineyards are farmed organically; local organic straw, organic cow and horse manure, grape pomace from the crush and organic rock phosphate contribute to the composting. The insect population is kept in check by a resident flock of bluebirds.

Dundee Hills is an important AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the Willamette Valley and is well established as a centre for top quality wine and the World Atlas of Wine confirms that, “since the mid 1970s, Oregon and Pinot Noir have been inextricably linked”.


Justin Girardin “Clos Rousseau” Santenay 1er Cru 2015, 13%, €33.99 JN Wine 



This juicy and fresh Pinot Noir has spent about 15 months in French oak barrels, 20 per cent of which were new. Many organic techniques are used in the Girardin Burgundy vineyard and the wine is bottled “on a favourable lunar day”.

And, yes, I’m tempted to say I’m over the moon about this one, Very Highly Recommended. It has a light ruby colour. There are attractive scents of ripe cherries and strawberries.

Delicate fruit flavours and a modest touch of spice ooze seamlessly together across the palate. Gentle tannins and acidity help make this a food wine. Delicate and modest yes but enveloping all is a seductive harmony that takes it all the way through to a long and very satisfying finish, delivered with finesse.

Suggested pairings: Red meats, game, mature cheeses, Coq au Vin and almost any chicken or poultry dish prepared with mushrooms.

Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes. And a Simply Better Surprise.


Lost in Muscadet Vineyard in Nantes. 
And a Simply Better Surprise.
Lost in Nantes? Encore?


Domaine de la Fessardière  “L’Air Innocent” Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2015, €18.65 Mary Pawle

Brittany Ferries opened the Cork-Roscoff route in 1978 and, for quite a few years afterwards, virtually every Cork driver visiting France got lost in Nantes. Happened to myself once and I ended up in the vineyards to the south-east of the city (not the worst of outcomes, quite recoverable). French roads have improved a lot since then and now most major cities, including Nantes, have either a rocade or a périphérique.

Like most early ferry travellers, we didn’t go too far in the first year or two, mainly to the south of Brittany around Concarneau, Guerande and Carnac. The supermarché (even the odd hyper) were the main attractions for the first (and last) few days of the hols with the male eyes concentrating on the bottom shelves and the bottles of Muscadet for less than punt! Got a lot of it then (also Gros Plant, even cheaper) and that cheap stuff put many off the fruit of the Melon de Bourgogne grape for years.

Bit by bit though we began to realise that two very important words on the bottle were Sur Lie, though only a year or two back the somm in a five star hotel in Kerry didn’t seem to know them. Glad to say that this bottle is Sur Lie (raised on lees) and is a splendid offering via Mary Pawle Wines.

It has indeed been kept on its lees for six months. Besides there is no added sulphur and the fruit has been hand-harvested.The grape variety is the normal Melon de Bourgogne and the vineyard follows organic methods. 

Mary says it is round and unctuous in the mouth and a good match with seafood or a semi-soft cheese.  In addition, the producers recommend “fish in sauce, poultry with the cream, cooked cheese like the county (Comté, I presume) or Cantal.”

The name of this round, fresh and fruity wine, “L’Air Innocent”, emphasises this closeness to nature. Colour is a very light straw, bright and healthy looking. The aromas, delicate and appealing, are of white fruit (apple). Apple flavours are somewhat stronger than the scents and there’s a touch of citrus too, also a refreshing acidity, a tingle of minerality as well, and it also has a pleasant long finish. Highly Recommended.


Principesco Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane (IGT) 2017, 12%, €12.50 Dunnes Stores

First sip and a pleasant surprise. Yellow fruit flavours lead to a very pleasing palate. Nice bit of acidity too and all combine in a lovely finalé. The colour is a pale straw. Aromas of peach and apple hint of good things to come. A decent wine at a decent price from a surprising source as I wouldn’t have thought of Sicily as a hotbed of Pinot Grigio.

This wine has been exclusively selected for Dunnes Stores Simply Better. It is produced by Casa Fondata on the sunny island off the toe of Italy. Dunnes recommend it as a “perfect accompaniment to our Roasted Cod with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Mozzarella”. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Stunning Pair from Karwig Wines


A Stunning Pair from Karwig Wines

Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial Sardon de Duero 2014, Castilla y Leon (VDT), c. €36.00 Karwig Wines

Our winemaker Ángel Anocíbar likes to describe Selección Especial as a compendium of each new vintage in the Abadía Retuerta estate. And the recently released 2014, …., is one that he finds particularly satisfying.”

This is how the winemaker at Abadia introduces this wine and it is indeed a particularly good one, outstanding in fact. The winery is just outside the Ribera del Duero and so cannot use that DO hence the Vino de la Tierra of Castilla y Leon on the label. But don’t let that put you off - this is excellent, as good as many Ribera and Very Highly Recommended.

It is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 17% Syrah and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vintage produced some 390,000 standard bottles, 22,000 magnums and 1,800 double magnums. Seems like a lot of wine but, at the same time, if you want it, I’d hurry on down to Karwigs and get a bottle or two. Don’t think it’s available anywhere else in Ireland.

Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are intense, of blackcurrant, cherry, vanilla. Fruit flavours are concentrated, a touch of spice, abundant fine-grained tannins a benign factor. Vintage conditions were excellent and this rich wine is a polished expression of the fruit and the year. Eleven months in oak, French and American, help make this a harmonious wine, smooth and easy drinking. A very special selection indeed.

Surprisingly, the winery offers “our very own Selección Especial cocktail”. I didn’t try it but just in case you want to give it a go, this is the recipe:

5 cl. (1.7 fl oz) Abadía Retuerta Selección Especial
6 drops of Droplets Fresh Ginger
2 cl. (0.7 fl oz) Chambord
1 spoonful of Apple Pie syrup
4 cl. (1.4 fl oz) pineapple juice
Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake well and serve in a Martini glass and garnish with Luxardo cherries on a skewer.

Cheers!

Chateau de Chatelard “Cuvée Les Vieux Granits” Fleurie (AOC) 2016, 13%, €20.30 Karwig Wine
Fleurie, like all ten Beaujolais crus, is in the north east of the region. Here the Gamay grape, thrives on the granite soil, the wines always refreshing and never short of acidity. Fleurie, with delicious cherry scents, flavours of red berries, is an elegant and excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

And this Chatelard, as you may guess from the name, is made exclusively from vines planted on an old pink granite hillside. The Gamay, by many accounts, flourishes here. This is a happy wine.

It has a mid ruby colour. And aromas of ripe red fruits. Bright and juicy fruit flavours, enlivened all the way by a refreshing acidity. Delicate tannins too on hand as it reaches an impressive finalé. This elegant and engaging wine is Very Highly Recommended.

The winery reports that, after pressing, the ageing is done in tanks on very fine lees to preserve the maximum freshness. They suggest pairing it with fillet of pikeperch, truffled sausage Lyonnais, oysters served with small sausages, venison terrine with cherries, Poulet Bresse, Lobster Sashimi. A few interesting ones there for you.



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Superb Wines from Austria's Judith Beck


Superb Wines from Austria's Judith Beck
Beck Blaufränkisch 2016, 12%,€17.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This organic wine from Austria is produced by Judith Beck from the Blaufränkisch grape, the second most widely grown red grape in the country but not very well-known outside of it.

Colour is quite an intense red. Aromas of darker fruits (plum, cherry). Those dark fruit flavours are intense, spicy too, excellent acidity; tannins have a noticeable grip (nothing too serious though). This inviting medium-bodied wine, vibrant and refreshing, is Highly Recommended.

Since 2007 Judith Beck has produced wines in accordance with biodynamic principles. The winery is housed in an impressive airy new building in the middle of the vineyards from Gols. Now the emphasis is on refining the style whilst capturing the potential of the grapes. Judith is passionate about the traditional red wine varieties: Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. 
Le Caveau say that Judith is an impressively calm, thoughtful person and that sense of relaxation seems to transmit itself into her wines, which possess a lightness of touch not always apparent in this region.  

You can meet her Wednesday 15th May  at The Chocolate Factory, King’s Inn Street, Dublin 1, the venue for the “The Real Wine Fair”, a one-day wine fair celebrating artisan growers who farm organically and/or biodynamically in the vineyard and make wine with minimal interventions in the winery. 



Beck Chardonnay 2016, Burgenland Austria, 12%, €18.95  64 Wine DublinBradley’s of CorkGreenman DublinLe Caveau Kilkenny

Le Caveau, who bring the fabulous Judith Beck wines into Ireland, say the region around Lake Neusiedl is particularly suited to cultivate Burgundy varieties and provides optimum conditions for Chardonnay (most of the Beck wines are red). “Manual harvest, matured for 5 months on its lees, the wine has developed a tasty richness without losing any of its focus and brightness.”

Colour is a light start yellow. Fairly intense fruit on the nose (peach, apple), floral notes too and a mild hint of spice. Lively and delicious, full and creamy, acidity enough, and with a long dry finish. Harmonious from start to finish. Very Highly Recommended.Try with fish or poultry dishes or pasta or on its own.