Monday, September 5, 2016
A Premium Sherry
Follow My Apostoles
Apostoles Palo Cortado V.O.R.S., 20% abv, González Byass (Jerez), c €23.95 (37.5cl) in Bradley’s, Cork.
This is an amazing sherry, a serious one, yet a wine to have fun with. Try it with your favourite paté. In the English Market I picked up some delicious Chicken Liver Paté, the brandy and garlic version, from On the Pig’s Back. This proved to be a superb pairing.
I was a little worried about complicating it further but couldn't resist adding a taste of Harty’s Cumberland & Port Jelly to the pair. Now, I had a triple to relish. Not quite a ménage à trois, but sexy! Cheese and red meats are also recommended as partners for the sherry.
The dark amber liquid is complex, full of aromas and flavours of concentrated fruit, soft on the palate and so concentrated that a sip goes a long way. Savour it for a while, the hints of sweetness, explore the tangy notes, the salty notes and then enjoy that very long smooth finish. Smooth from start to finish in fact.
This Very Highly Recommended wine has been a long time in the making, thirty years no less. I’ll let the winemakers tell the story of this blend of Palomino (87%) and Pedro Ximenez (13%): As soon as the Palomino grapes reach the winery they are gently pressed using pneumatic presses without crushing the stems, seeds or skins. This must from the first light pressing is called ‘yema’ and is the most elegant and delicate must. The Pedro Ximenez grapes are lightly pressed separately. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks and classification, the Palomino wine is fortified to 18%, the PX to 15.5%.
The wines then enter their own separate Soleras of American oak barrels to begin their aging in contact with the air. After an average of twelve years, the wines are blended and enter the Apostoles Solera where they will remain for a further 18 years following the traditional Solera system.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Across Northern SpainOn A Red Wine Trail
|Checking out the Garnacha in Rioja
Let’s take a trip across the north of the Spain and sip a few red wines. We start in Penedes, near Barcelona on the east coast, in the country of the Catalans, and head west to the Basque country (País Vasco).
Maybe you've been to Barcelona. Sitges perhaps? Then you won't have been very far from the vineyards of Albet i Noya. You’ll no doubt have heard of the bulls running and other crazy goings on in Pamplona. Those of you seeking a something a little quieter may well have headed to Santacara, the location where our Marco Real wine comes from.
And if you’ve made it to that vineyard in Navarra, then head west for about an hour and you’ll arrive at Hacienda Grimon which is pretty close to Logrono, the capital of the political area known as La Rioja. The wine area is simply Rioja. Let’s go. Vamonos (Spanish) or Goazen (Basque). Warning: translations by Google!
Albet i Noya Tempranillo, Penedes (DO) 2014, 13%, €14.50, Mary Pawle Wines
Violet is the colour of this Catalan wine and there are subtle aromas of dark and red berries. It is young and juicy and gorgeous, strawberry and raspberry flavours now, good acidity with fine tannins and a dry finish to enjoy.
In Catalonia, at least on the Spanish side of the mountains, Tempranillo is known as Ull de Llebre. This too is on the bottle along with quite a few other Catalan words! You’ll have no doubts about the place where the Albet i Noya wines are made.
Neither will you have any doubts but that they are passionate about their organic wines; they been a pioneer since 1978. “We never measure the effort according to the difficulty. All that matters is the end result and that will only ever be optimal if the whole process is meticulous from the roots up.”
“We believe in what we do and how we do it.” And, so do I! This is one of their basic wines and is Highly Recommended.
Marco Real Finca Corraliza de los Roncaleses, Navarra (DO), tinto 2014, 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines
Colour of this tinto (red wine) is purple; you’ll note the legs are slow to clear from the glass, a sign that there’s high alcohol here! For the second time, firstly some time back with the 2012 and now with the 2014, I find it hard to agree with the “floral” aromas noted on the label. Seems to me to be more like dark fruit. There you go!
There is quite a body here, fruit and spice plus matching acidity, well-balanced (considering the high ABV), fine tannins and a good long finish. Smooth, elegant and refreshing and Very Highly Recommended. Note the suggested serving temperature below.
Winery info: Wine made with grapes that are hand-picked from the best Garnacha vines, owned by the Belasco Family, at “Corraliza de los Roncaleses” in Santacara. Upon arrival at the winery the grapes are manually selected and then alcoholic fermentation takes place at 23ºC followed by a long maceration of 20 days to endow the wine with optimal finesse and elegance. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 5 months. Recommended serving temperature: between 12 and 14ºC.
Hacienda Grimon Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2013, 13.5%, €17.45 Le Caveau
This wine, produced using organic principles (no herbicide, no pesticide, fertiliser is sheep manure and the fruit is hand-harvested), comes from a little known corner of Rioja Alta. It is a 100% Tempranillo, according to the label (other sources suggest a small proportion of Graciano); it has been aged in French and American oak for 14 months (much longer than the regulation six) and there is a pay-off.
It has quite a dark colour, between violet and purple, with aromas of dark fruit, hints of spice. On the palate, there is an immediate appreciation of the soft attack; the wine is smooth and rich, some pepper, fine tannins; balance is perfect thanks to the fresh acidity and this close to full bodied wine is Highly Recommended.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Wines from Spain Take Over in Little Island
|Meeting up at last with Mary Pawle
Met some old faces and some new at the large 2014 Wines from Spain Tasting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island (Cork) last Wednesday. As a teenager I was often up and down the road, then a country lane, outside Ditchley House where the hotel is located. Good stories there, but I think I'd better stick with the wines.
With a sherry workshop with César Saldaña, Consejo Regulador Jerez, imminent, time was pressing so I didn't have the chance to get to all the tables but I was determined to get to one in particular. I've been chatting on Twitter, on and off, from home and abroad, to Mary Pawle, so it was great to meet up in person and taste some of her gorgeous organic wines.The 2012 Lignum Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay) and the 2011 Lignum Negre (Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon), both DO Pinedes, are her “flagship” wines and one can taste why. Well worth trying. From the same organic producer, Albet I Noyo, comes a terrific Tempranillo Classic 2012. This is truly excellent. “The vineyard are very proud of this one, “ said Mary. “They feel it is a true expression of the Tempranillo.”
|Sparkling! Brid Carter
Always delighted to meet the folks from Karwig and they had Frank and Marcus in attendance. Started here with a couple of whites produced from the Airen grape but, wouldn't you know it, it was an Albarino that caught the taste buds here, a complex well balanced 2011 effort by Vina Almirante. Keep an eye out for this as it has been highly rated by Decanter.
Bren Smith of Mackenway was next door to Karwig’s and he had some tempting reds on offer including the Museum Real Reserva 2006. If the budget doesn't stretch to the 2006 (22.99), the Vinea Crianza 2009,from the same producer, is recommended at €17.99.
In between, there are two other reds worth looking at. One is the Coto de Imaz Reserva 2008, a Rioja Tempranillo, and the other is the Las Rocas Garnacha which has lots of flavours and a good dry finish. Do you like Verdejo? I do and I’d recommend their Montespina 2013, DO Rueda, by Avelino Vegas, fresh, clean and zesty.
|Simple label says much.
At the James Nicholson table, the Paco Garcia Seis 2012 Rioja Tempranillo went down well though perhaps not quite as well as the Baltos 2011 Bierzo by Dominio de Tares, made from the local Mencia grape. But the big news here was the imminent departure of their long time rep Conor O’Brien. He is off to pastures new and he introduced us to his replacement Richard Reeves, well known from his time at the Chop House in Lismore. Best of luck to both of them.
My introduction to Brid and Colm Carter, the friendly couple behind Honest2Goodness wines, came via a refreshing drop of their gorgeous cava, the DDLV Brut NV. No wonder I was impressed as this is produced by Dominio de la Vega, three times best Cava producer in Spain! Brid and Colm’s wines come from organic certified producers and from suppliers who farm with respect for the environment.
When I went back to their table for the reds, Colm introduced me to “a steel fist in a velvet glove”. Frenchman Francois Lurton’s Tinta de Toro 2011 is impressively smooth yet so well balanced that its 15.5% abv is well disguised. Bodega Los Barrancos, in the Granada area, is organically certified and their 2008 Corral de Castro is another gem. Indeed, they had a very impressive line-up of reds here and another ace was the Tres Patas 2008 (DO Mentrida), a blend of Garnacha and Syrah.
|Superb Cava from Honest2Goodness
You can see that Colm, on his wine travels, gets to areas others just don't reach. Next time, I must take a closer look at their whites and, of course, have another sip of that Cava.
By the way,while on a drive through La Rioja one day in 2012, I called to a few vineyards, the last being the unusual glass-cubed Bai Gorri near the ancient town of Samaniego. We were received by a young Spanish lady who had learned her English in Cork, right here in Little Island!.
|Ins & Outs at James Nicholson.
Conor O'Brien (left) and replacement Richard Reeves.