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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vegan Degustation Menu a Pop-Up Delight

Vegan Degustation Menu a Pop-Up Delight
Clockwise from top left
1st course, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.
Dee's Wholefoods sponsored last week’s National Vegetarian Week, and Dee herself, whose motto is “Goodness is Tasty”, hosted a pop-up vegan dining club dinner in Cork last Thursday.

The advance notice read: “It will take place at a secret location in the City Centre where a minimum 10 course tasting menu will be served in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Guests can enjoy refined plant-based cuisine based on seasonal local ingredients. If you would you like your taste buds tantalised by an innovative culinary experience then come and join us!”

Well, I joined her and it sure was a very enjoyable experience. It was held in the Barden Supper Club in Leitrim Street and every single course of the ten was a treat. And we had good company as well. You can see the menu below.  

Vegan Degustation
Mushroom tempura maki roll sushi, cherry daikon nigiri

Deep fried chilli mozzarella, guacamole & pepper mayo

Cashew cheese, spinach & artichoke mille-feuille, beetroot oil

Asparagus & olive risotto smoked tomato coulis

Bloody mary sorbet

Maple glazed sweet potato with pickled rhubarb

Pan-fried miso’d tofu & kim chee

Cucumber sunomono on Japanese style kale

Wasabi & peanut grilled stuffed aubergine on butternut squash puree,
granny smith salsa

Chocolate coconut & strawberry mousse

Clockwise from top left
5th course, 6th, 7th, 8th
At the end of the meal, we had a chat and Dee asked what was the highlight. Naturally enough, the courses just eaten came up first but gradually we worked our way back through the menu and, in some cases, certainly in mine, every single course had something to enjoy.

Got “ambushed” with the first when I inadvertently picked up a hidden piece of wasabi. That certainly woke up the taste buds. The next two courses were thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps the Asparagus and Olive Risotto was the highlight of the first half, a really lovely combination of flavors and textures.

Mark Cronin is the expert chef here and has problems getting Irish asparagus and indeed, his is the third kitchen I’ve heard say the same thing over the past week, though the other two were on Twitter. I know Lisheen Organics in West Cork grow some great asparagus but surely there must be other Irish growers.

After an excellent Bloody Mary Sorbet, with its own celery stick, we started on part two and here highlight followed highlight. The pickled rhubarb was an unusual treat as was the warmed Kimchee (a Korean dish). I loved the texture and taste of the kale and then that stuffed aubergine was a delight, enhanced by the Granny Smith salsa.

And then we had that sweet ending. The chocolate and strawberries combined well, as they usually do, and the dusting of coconut was a nice touch. Indeed, the whole event was excellent and demonstrated as Dee said at the outset that you don't have to be a vegan to enjoy this delicious menu.

This is a BYO venue and there is no corkage charge. We brought along the 2012 Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp tropical white that seemed made for the occasion. Importer Maurice O’Mahony of Wine Alliance told me that is “drinking well right now” and he was spot-on. With all the conversation going on, I neglected to take notes on the night but this New Zealand gem is Very Highly Recommended. Wine Alliance stockists
9th course (left) and dessert.

Mark Cronin is adding to his reputation with these vegan menus but he does quite a few styles and his skill is well recognized as parties of restaurant staff are among his clients. Find out more about this interesting club here.  Barden Supper Club, 20 Leitrim Street, Cork.

By coincidence Síle ní Donaile, a member of a Food Club of 8 members, was in touch that very evening. Basically about once a month one of the group hosts an evening, whereby they invite someone to cook and demonstrate what they are cooking to the group. The group then sits down to eat the food, generally a starter of some sort, main and dessert.  The chef demonstrating brings and cooks the food and the hostess provides wine, table set etc.

“So far we have been paying from €35 to 45 pp.  The Chef normally leaves as the mains are dished up so it’s not a late night for him. It’s very casual”. Interested? Then contact Síle at

And I have previously posted about another Cork Supper Club, this run by Ruth Stockdale & Banu Balaji. Read all about the social and local South Indian Supper Club here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Branco and Blanc. Won't break the bank.

Branco and Blanc. Won't break the bank.
And very enjoyable too!

Chateau Belingard, Bergerac sec 2012, 12.5% abv, €13.99 Karwig Wines

Something of a favourite here since early in the century (not that long ago really!). It stands comparison with the whites of neighbouring Bordeaux and is better value. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle is fresh and fruity with a long aftertaste.

Belingard sounds French but apparently it comes from an ancient Celtic language, “beleen garten” meaning the garden of the Beleen or Belin, the god of sun and war. More details on the story and the wine here . Highly Recommended.

Pegoes Branco 2013, Setubal (Portugal), 12.0%, €10.49 Wine Alliance stockists

This Setubal white is well worth looking out for. It is an excellent regional wine by the highly rated Santo Isidro Co-op (Jamie Goode says it is possibly Portugal’s best co-op) and at under eleven euro is fantastic value. It is made from the Fernao Pires grape (70%) and is pleasant and delicious, fresh and fruity, crisp and clean with zesty flavours, easy drinking with a clean refreshing finish. The advice here to drink it as soon as possible after purchase. Don't delay. Great value and Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Taste of the Week: Star of the Dão. Flor de Viseu.

A Star of the Dão. Flor de Viseu.

Flor de Viseu, Selection Branco 2012, Dão (Portugal), 12.5%, €12.99/13.99 Wine Alliance Stockists.

Must admit I know very little about Encruzado, Cerceal Branco and Malvasia Fina, three Portuguese grapes. What I do know now is when you skillfully blend the three, as has been done here, you’ll have a lovely crispy zesty white wine in your hands, a Very Highly Recommended one. This is so good, I have no hesitation whatsoever in adding it to my (rather skimpy) 2014 recommendations.

Colour may well be a bit on the pale side but the aromas are inviting. And, once you have it on the palate, you'll know you have a good thing. Fruitiness and freshness combine, reaching all parts and then you have a gorgeous lingering finish.

They recommend serving it at 8 degrees centigrade. Advice worth taking. Certainly, don’t serve it at anything under it or you'll risk losing some of those beautiful flavours.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Foot-treading has its merits! Douro Delight.

Foot-treading has its merits! 
Quinta do Judeu
A Cracking Douro Red.
Quinta do Judeu Corgo da Régua 2012 (Douro), 14%, €13.99 at Curious Wines, other stockists

If you thought foot-treading in wineries was a thing of the past, think again. It is alive and kicking, at least in the Douro region of Portugal. Chris Forbes of Taylor’s Port sang its praises - it maximises the juice and the flavors - at a tasting in Ballymaloe the other evening and, at the weekend, I had its merits beautifully confirmed by this bottle.

Colour is a dark red and the aromas are of red fruit. On the palate it is fresh and fruity and with a gentle mouthfeel. Tannins have their say but they are mild. Perfect with red meat, this is your everyday wine. And not just weekdays! Weekends as well. Very Highly Recommended.

While you might not expect the foot-treading, you won't be too surprised by the cork closure as after all it is a Portuguese wine. Grape varieties are local: Tinta Roriz 35%, Tinta Barroca 35%, Touriga Franca 20% and Touriga Nacional 10%. Decanting advised.

Domaine de Rochelin, Macon-Lugny 2012, 12.5%, €14.60 Karwig Wines
Must say I rather like the Chardonnays from this region and this is no exception. You've got a pale straw colour with tints of green and a nose of white fruits, peach and melon. It is fruity and fresh, with an almost plump feel and with a floral finish..

It is the result of sustainable cultivation, the aim being to create a style of freshness and exuding fruit aromas. I reckon they succeeded. Highly Recommended.

Bodegas Exopto, Dominio del Viento, Crianza 2010 Rioja, 13.5%, €15.99 Curious Wines.
Colour here is a light red and a bright one. The red fruit flavours are pleasantly obvious in the mouth while a mild acidity is enough to balance. Some spice too. All the delicious elements at play too in a decent finish. A well made rounded example of the type and Highly Recommended. It is made from 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha and has spent 12 months in oak barrels.

Domaine des Geslets, Les Geslets Bourgueil 2010, 13%
Domaine du Raifault Clos du Villy, Chinon 2009, 12.5%
Not sure you'll find either of these two in Ireland (you will find similar) but if you are in France during the summer, do watch out for them. I have been praising the reds of Chinon and its neighbour Bourgueil recently and these are two really excellent examples.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauvignon Blanc Still Sings

Sauvignon Blanc Still Sings
Marlborough New Zealand
Very recently, one of Ireland's top wine writers admitted that he had been avoiding Sauvignon Blanc for a few years despite never really disliking the variety. But now he is back and enjoying one of the most popular of what are termed the “international” varieties.

Many of us, including myself, my motto being variety is the spice of life, regularly try the lesser known grapes. But it would be a mistake to totally ignore the internationals. By coincidence, I've been trying a few Sauvignon Blancs recently. Last summer, enjoyed some terrific ones in the Loire area but the three here are from Chile and New Zealand’s Marlborough (where the variety does particularly well).
First though, there was an example of why our aforementioned writer and indeed anyone with a wee bit of wine knowledge may be turned off and that bottle came as a gift that had been bought via a supermarket offer. It was a Chilean but had so little to offer, no discernible aromas, very little flavour, no finish worth talking about, that it was poured down the sink with some gusto.
Viento Monte, Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Chile, 13%, €10.30 Karwig Wines
That Chile can produce decent Sauvignon Blanc and at a very good price is well known and indeed well illustrated by this bottle. It has a pale yellow colour with green highlights and an intense aroma of citrus, green apples and the typical (maybe a little less than normal) hint of grass. On the palate it is crisp and refreshing, quite a light mouthfeel and a very fresh finish. Recommended. I'm told their Chardonnay is also excellent. Must try that soon!
Greyrock Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2012, 12.5%, €13.80 Karwig Wines.
Greywacke is getting much attention recently but, for a tenner or so less, this Greyrock is well worth a try. By the way, they also produce a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc!
This 2012 still example is light gold, again with green tints and the nose has that fresh grassy element. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity with a mouthfeel that is both intense and lively, very refreshing,almost bubbly, and then a good dry finish. Highly Recommended.
Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011, 13%, €18.99 Wine Alliance stockists
Sauvignon Blanc is the flagship grape of New Zealand, accounting for the majority of the harvest in Marlborough where it grows best. And this Little Beauty is one of its best!
Little Beauty’s Fleur McCree was at a tasting in Cork last year and told us that the different blocks around the vineyard ripen at different times yet the intense fruit is preserved and there is “a build-up of layers of flavour to enhance the experience. Mango, Passion fruit at the start followed by Citrusy flavours mid-palate and then basil at the back of the tongue”. Really top notch, distinctive (somewhat more refined than your usual SB from here), and Very Highly Recommended.
* Note that you are now more likely to find the 2012 version of Little Beauty in the shops.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Two Excellent Reds. Well priced also! And two from the Loire.

Quarisa Enchanted Tree Pinot Noir (South East Australia) 2012, 13.5%, €13.99 Curious Wines

Wine is the colour of this excellent Pinot Noir. Didn’t know there was a colour with that name but apparently it has been in use since the early 18th century!
The wine itself is juicy and fruity, a silky medium bodied feel, well balanced with no alcohol burn, and tannins that shake hands without too much of a grip, and good length also.

Liked it (and the colourful label) at their pre-Christmas tasting and liked it even more when I brought a bottle home. Very Highly Recommended.

Beso de Vino, Seleccion 2011, Cariñena (Spain), 13.5%, €11.99, Wine Alliance stockists.
This was not supposed to be the Valentine’s Night star. That role went to a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the Adriatic ace didn't disappoint.
But then the Beso, the supporting player, took to the stage. Took its chance. Grabbed the taste buds’ attention with the initial friendly approach, strong and spicy and all things nice-y. This pleasantly potent blend of Syrah and Garnacha, soft and dry and with a fine finish, proved itself a class act and comes with a price tag that won’t worry the bank manager. Very Highly Recommended.
Vincent Gregoire Domain des Geslets, L'Expression 2009, Bourgueil (France), 13%, €8.80 Syndicat des Vins Bourgueil.
This dark red Cabernet Franc has aromas of dark fruits with some spice. It is smooth, fruity and refreshing and an excellent example of what they do with the grape in this area.
All the grapes used have been raised under the “Sustainable Agriculture” method and come from old (65 to 80 years) vines. It is matured in 400l casks for nearly 12 months, “gaining black cherry, vanilla and spicy aromas”. If you do get your hands on a bottle, be sure and decant! Very Highly Recommended.

Domaine du Clos d’Epinay, Vouvray Brut, Methode Traditionnelle, 12%, €9.00 at the estate.
Well, unlike Dom Perignon, you won’t be tasting “the stars” when you open a bottle of this Clos d’Epinay. But there are lots of bubbles, maybe not the smallest, and the wine itself has many of the elements associated with champagne. Indeed, it is quite a lovely substitute for the real thing and at a fraction of the price. Recommended.
It is a small vineyard and when I called there in the late summer of 2013, they reported that up to ninety per cent of the crop had been damaged by hail stones earlier in the year. “That’s nature.” Let us hope they’ll have a better summer this time. The grapes used are 100 per cent Chinon Blanc.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Reds from the Edges

Reds from the Edges
Thanks to the independents
Some unfamiliar grapes figure in these two excellent reds from the edges of old Europe, one from Austria, the other from Portugal. Not many of us, even if regular customers, will have heard of either the Blaufränkisch or the Alfrocheiro. The names of these grapes, excellent in their original areas, are not an advertiser’s dream (much easier to dream up a slogan for Merlot or Chardonnay).

But they survive, thanks primarily to the local winemakers and thanks to the independent wine merchants, of which we have a fair share in Ireland. They know, and more of their customers are coming to realise, that the bigger picture is made up of little gems whose names may not lend themselves to a catch-all slogan. Best of goods come in small parcels! (Not a bad slogan, come to think of it.)

Wohlmuth Aristos 2009 Burgenland (Austria), 13.5%, €20.59 Karwig Wines
You won’t find Wohlmuth in Hugh Johnson’s current handbook but, thankfully, you’ll find their wines in Karwig’s of Carrigaline. The Aristos, a blend of the local Blaufränkisch and Cabernet Sauvignon, is a product of the Neckenmarkt vineyard, one of a few owned by the Wohlmuth family, winemakers since 1803. The “most rigorous quality criteria” are applied while the terroir is regarded as ideal for the two varieties.

Austria is predominantly white wine country but it is a different story in the Mittelburgenland (close to the border with Hungary). Here the continental climate is ideal, especially for the juicy Blaufränkisch which also brings relatively high acidity to a blend.
Two thousand and nine was a good year in the area and it shows in this Very Highly Recommended wine. It is clean and bright with a medium red colour and aromas of dark berries. On the palate, you find the berries again, spice too, soft tannins and, yes, that balancing acidity, all the way to a long dry finish. Went well with steak the other night and the producers also recommended trying it with Lamb cutlets, also duck breast on lentils.

Flor de Viseu, Tinto Selection 2009, Dao (Portugal), 13%, €12.99-13.99, Wine Alliance stockists

Most people with a passing acquaintance of Portuguese wine will have heard of Touriga Nacional but Alfrocheiro, the main grape here, will no doubt raise a few eyebrows. Both are local grapes and popular in the Dao region.

The region, named after the local river, is the home of juicy friendly wines and this is one of them. You find red fruit aromas and a healthy looking ruby colour. The wine itself is warm, fruity and spicy. It is rather smooth with mild tannins, very engaging at all points of the palate and has a persistent dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pamper Your Pinot Gris

Pamper Your Pinot Gris

Little Beauty Pinot Gris 2010 (Marlborough NZ), 14%, €21.99 to 22.99), Wine Alliance stockists

This Pinot Gris comes from less than two hectares of vines. “Pinot Gris loves the stones, the water, and the sun", said Little Beauty's Fleur McCree during one of last year’s Wine Geese events. 
It just takes off in these conditions and that can, in the wrong hands, lead to quantity over quality. So it has to be reined in. Bunches are removed. Must be done by hand as machines can’t decide which bunches to discard. “Concentration in Pinot Gris means quality” and it is “the most pampered variety in the vineyard”.

Worth the effort though.  Here you have lip smacking flavour, oily, yet drier than their Riesling. Don’t over-chill it and use with nuts, pork, crab and so on. Very Highly Recommended.

Chateau de Petit Thouars, Cuvee Amiral 2009 Touraine (France), 12.5%, €15.00 at the chateau.
“Many great men of our family served in the French Navy” and so the top wine at the Chateau, near where the Vienne and the Loire meet, is called Amiral. It is a press wine made from the Cabernet France grape. All the refreshing characteristics of this variety are present here, even if the wine has spent some two years in previously used oak.
As you’d expect, it is a medium dark red with red fruits prominent in the bouquet. On the palate, it is fresh and light and rather smooth, terrific concentration and with a slight spiciness plus a pronounced dry lengthy finish. This is tailored for a long keep but only if you have proper storage available.
Highly Recommended, possibly Very Highly Recommended in a few years!

Pegões Stella Rosso 2009 (Setubal, Portugal), 13.5%, €10.99,  Wine Alliance stockists
This was one of the first red wines that the then newly formed Wine Alliance brought in from Portugal. It was a winner then and is a winner now.
Made from the local Castelão (50%) and the international Syrah (50%) grapes, this rich easy drinking red is good on its own and even better with red meats. It is full, fruity and spicy, with a soft supple texture, carries flavours of black cherries and plums and is very well balanced.
Six months in American oak barrels followed by four in bottle before release. An excellent Highly Recommended wine.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wine Ace Maurice is Highest Achiever in Europe

Maurice, on stage and on screen!
Wine Ace Maurice is Highest Achiever in Europe
Relaxing in the Guildhall (l to r): Tony Ambrosini,
David Bird MW and Maurice.
Those of us who have been watching the rise of wine importers Wine Alliance in recent years know that founder and director Maurice O’Mahony knows his wines.

 And that was confirmed when the Corkman successfully came through his examination for the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Maurice emerged as the highest achieving student in Europe and he was awarded the body’s prestigious Wine Australia Scholarship in a grand ceremony in London’s Guildhall this week.

The WSET is the only wine and spirit education organisation approved by the UK government as a national awarding body of vocational qualifications. 

WSET Awards also co-ordinate the annual selection of outstanding candidates to be presented with industry sponsored Scholarships. And some 600 were in the attendance as Maurice received his diploma from WSET President Jancis Robinson and his scholarship from Yvonne May of Wine Australia.

“It is a very prestigious award and I am very proud. The ninety minute ceremony was fantastic. Jancis was charming and the location was stunning,” said a delighted Maurice.

The scholarship is a two week trip to Australia, beginning in Sydney. While details for Maurice’s tour are yet to be finalised he will visit most if not all of the country's wine regions. It will be quite an experience as iconic wineries will be visited, the key personalities behind the vineyards will be on hand to talk with Maurice and he’ll get to taste their very best wines.

But is has been a tough road to get this far, to the top of the European tree, studying hard while also building his company. Minimum of 600 hours study is required and Maurice reckons he well exceeded that in the two years leading up to the Diploma exam.

They started off with a Commercial Unit and that was followed by a Viticulture and Vinification Unit. Unit 3 was on the Still Wines of the World and then followed units on Fortified, Sparkling and Spirits, all involving theory and blind tastings.

He reckons Unit 3 was the toughest. In one particular day, he had to blind taste 12 wines and then do a three hour exam on wine theory! “Five hours in all,” he recalls. “That was a killer!” But the Glanmire resident came through that and all hurdles with flying colours and deserves all the congratulations coming his way.

Guildhall, built between 1411 and 1440
You may read Maurice’s own take on the Guildhall event here and below we reprint a few questions and his answers for scholarship sponsors Wine Australia.

1.       What does this scholarship mean to you?
Winning the Wine Australia Scholarship is a dream come true. I can clearly remember one of our lecturers speaking of it in our first class a couple of years ago. The prize seemed so far away and out of reach. When I was notified that I'd won I was thrilled and when I walked on stage with Yvonne May to be presented with my prize by Jancis Robinson MW in the Guildhall at the WSET Awards Ceremony, it was a surreal moment.

2.       What do you love about Australian wine?
There’s lots to love about Australian wine and I have been a fan for many years. Australia was one of the first countries that got me interested in wine. I love the variety of Australian wines and the way that there are wines of every style, grape variety and price level. Everything is covered from entry level well made value wines to iconic wines that compete with the world’s best.

3.       What are you most excited about your visit to Australia?
I have never been to Australia so that alone will be a thrill. I am a wine obsessive so the opportunity to visit some of the world famous wine regions that I have read about and studied for many years is incredibly exciting. I always find that when I visit vineyards, it enhances my relationship with the wines and the winery. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spanish Soul

Spanish Soul
Sembro Tempranillo, Vendimia Seleccionada 2012, Ribera del Duero, 13.5%, €14.99, imported by Wine Alliance  and widely available.

Some wines you only ever get to know briefly, a shakehands and a pleasant meeting and soon you don’t remember the name. This one makes more of a mark, goes that bit deeper. It has something special. From the heart of the Ribera del Duero it brings an expression of authenticity. I won’t easily forget the name of this magnificent Tempranillo.

Colour is a dark red and the pleasant aroma is of red fruits. On the palate it is fruity and smooth and then you have an excellent dry finish. After four to six months in new oak, there is some spice but it is pleasingly moderate. Very Highly Recommended.

The Osborne family, better known for their sherry, has been connected to the wine trade since 1772, are the producers.

Just had a quick look at the region in the World Atlas of Wine (available in Bradley’s) and was surprised to see that Swiss pharma company Novartis, “founded a vast property” there in 1996. More traditional wine names, including recent investors Torres and Faustino, have joined Osborne as Ribera investors.

Indeed, the region itself has only recently taken off, as “there were just 24 bodegas in the region when the DOP was created in 1982”. Going by this Sembro, we can expect more good things from Ribera del Duero in the years ahead.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Last Minute Wine Suggestions

Last Minute Wine Suggestions
 Top one goes with "a variety of meats" - ideal for Christmas!

Tim Adams, Bluey’s Block Single Vineyard Grenache, Clare Valley 2009, 14.5%, €16.99 Curious Wines 

Colour is a very light red and the aromatics are pretty if restrained. The magic is on the palate. Fruity for sure but very very refined and so well balanced. It has of course, the typical spice of the variety and, what you might not expect, an ABV of 14.5%. Must say it was love at first bite (well, first sip) with this mouth filling beauty, with its subtle tannins (supple, the label says) and its long fruity driven finish. Goes with a variety of meats and is Very Highly Recommended.

Viñedos Iberian, Yaso, Tinta de Toro 2010, 13.5%, stockists 

Familia Osborne (of Sherry fame) owns Viñedos Iberian and this Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo to most of us!) is a classy bottle. Yaso comes from a selection of old vineyards in the Zamora region of the Toro DO. They’ve been growing vines here for over 2000 years and this is named after the Greek goddess of healing.

Not sure I needed any healing when I opened this red the other day but I sure felt good as the initial sips came in and better as the silky liquid reached all areas.  It has an intense concentration of red fruits – you see it in the bright cherry colour and catch it in the aromas – and it is prominent again on the long finish. Highly Recommended.

Kerpen Riesling 2010 (Blauschiefer, Bernkastel, Mosel), €17.52, Karwig Wines

This estate bottled Riesling is a my favourite of mine, confirmed as recently as last Sunday. It is bright with straw green colours and modestly aromatic. Ripe fruits reach all areas before a long dry finish. Luscious apple-ly fruits yet really well balanced and with a great texture. Good with fish with light sauces or on its own as an aperitif. Highly recommended, not for the first time!.

The vineyards are on the slopes of the River Mosel, a tributary of the Rhine.

Check out the full 2013 list of recommendations here 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Portuguese Pearls, one red, one white.

Portuguese Pearls, one red, one white.

Quinta da Lagoalva, Vinho Tinta 2011, 14.5%, Curious Wines (€14.99) and other stockists.

Colour: A bright and beautiful ruby.
Nose: Ripe fruit aromas.
Palate: Fresh and fruity flavours, slight spice, rich and velvety, a terrific mouthfeel and the long finish is more of the same. This has been compared to high quality Shiraz from the Barossa / McLaren Vale, an opinion that may possibly be underselling this outstanding wine. Very Highly Recommended.

This Vinho Regional Tejo is a blend of Castelão and Touriga Nacional. Tejo is the DOC and VR based around the River Tagus and Quinta da Lagoalva is noted by Hugh Johnson (2014 handbook) as one of the “more ambitious” producers.

Tinta, by the way, means red. You’ll notice that both the red and white used the traditional cork closure which is of course produced in Portugal. Cork, by the way, may be making something of a comeback. Indeed, it is well underway, according to Languedoc winemaker Philip Grant of Chateau Bellevue la Foret.

Speaking at a Winegeese event in L’Atitude 51 last month, Grant said he had noted a major improvement in the traditional closure since 2001 when the Portuguese cork industry reacted to the enormous pressure they was coming under from the emergence of the screw cap as the favourite closure of Australia and other wine producing countries.

Young and Refreshing from Setubal
Fontanario de Pegoes Palmela D.O. 2012, 12.5%, €11.99 to 12.99, Stockists 

This white wine is based on the Fernão Pires grape variety with a touch of Arinto. It is young, fruity, ever so slightly spicy, and with a refreshing finish, making it ideal to accompany any fish or salad dish. This aromatic grape is also called Maria Gomes.

It is produced in the Península of Setúbal, a region just south of Lisbon. Palmela is set in the east of the peninsula and it is here that the cooperative San Isidro de Pegões operates and produces quite a variety of wines, including some of the famous sweet wines based on the Moscatel grape.

Cooperatives are often looked down on and indeed ignored by many wine writers and importers but luckily not by all. Otherwise we could miss out on some very good wines indeed. Writer Jamie Goode says this is “possibly Portugal’s best co-op” and, with winemaker Jaime Quendera at the helm, it has won scores of awards.

If you haven’t tried a Portuguese white before, take a chance on this one. It is a gem and Very Highly Recommended.