Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €12.00 Aldi
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Thursday, December 27, 2018
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
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).
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
La Jara Rosato Frizzante Veneto (IGT) NV, 10% abv, €12.95 Karwig Wines GOOD VALUE
This frizzante is an organic wine, a special cuvée. No mention of Prosecco on this bottle though the grape is the Glera which is used in the region to produce the famous Italian drink, both spumante and frizzante. The cork is secured with string and this confuses some people, confused me up to a few years ago. There is a helpful diagram of a corkscrew on the top of the cork and you can easily open it with the regular one.
It is a very clean and bright pink in colour. There are very delicate aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Bubbles, except at pouring and for a short while afterwards, are scarce enough but do remember that this is a frizzante (semi-sparkling). There is a bubbly feel to it in the mouth and also a biscuity flavour along with some fresh and fruity berry flavours. This very pleasant wine is perfect as aperitif. Get in a few of these for summertime in the garden. Highly Recommended and good value too.
Domaine de Ménard Rosé 2016, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP), 12%, €12.25 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Tannat and the salmon pink colour has more depth than your normal rosé but with a bright sheen. Strawberry and floral notes in the aromas. No shortage of lively red berry flavours. It is fresh (harvest takes place at night) and full with excellent balance. One of the better rosés and Highly Recommended.
Serve it well chilled, they say, with Basque and Spanish cuisine. I’m sure we can come up with something Irish also. In any case, it is delicious on its own.
La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2016, 7%, €17.06 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny.
The Malvasia di Candia aromatica is the fruit for this moderately sweet bubbly wine. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%. Ripe melon and notes of honey come through on the nose.
Colour is a light straw, lots of micro-bubbles cling to the glass. Not that many bubbles and not for very long. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet (like a French moelleux), honey and fruity and a good finish. Gone up, in my estimation, since the previous year, so now Highly Recommended.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau
Starting with a Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl
|Meeting Rhona at St Peter's last week|
“We are a small vineyard, ten hectares in total, eight planted with Chardonnay, two with Pinot Noir,” said Rhona Cullinane of the 1701 vineyard in the Franciacorta region of Italy when I met her at the Le Caveau portfolio tasting in Cork’s old St Peter's Church last Thursday. So I hear you asking: Rhona Cullinane, from an Italian vineyard? Well, Rhona is from Clonakilty and went to Sienna to finish off third level education and fell in love with the country and now divides her time between the 1701 vineyard and London with plenty of opportunities to get back to Clon.
1701 is an unusual name for a winery . It comes from the year of the first vinification there by the Conti Bettoni Cazzago family; that was in the “brolo”, a four hectare vineyard framed by X1 century walls. In 2012, brother and sister Federico and Silvia Stefini took over the estate and the winery and named it 1701 in honour of that long-ago first vintage. Rhona works with the Stefinis and they were the first in the Franciacorta region to be awarded the coveted biodynamic Demeter certification in July 2016.
There are about 100 to 120 producers in the area and they are now “slowly focusing” on external markets, Rhona told me last week. “there is a regional ambition to move to organic and biodynamic”.
Rhona was showing the 1701 Franciacorta Brut DOCG. It is a blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%). The summer heat of the vineyard is tempered by the breeze from the lake (Iseo) and the mountains to the north. “We choose to keep it on the lees for 30 months, well above the appellation minimum. It is made in the traditional manner, manually harvested, with the indigenous yeasts, and a secondary fermentation in the bottle but with zero dosage.
|Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel (left) and Damiem of Clos de Caveau|
It is a gorgeous sparkling wine, the palate full and generous, clean, fresh and elegant, apple notes, citrus too and that typical brioche note, beautifully balanced and a dry finish. Expect to pay in the mid 30s, considerably less than what you'd pay for the bigger names of the region; lovely wine, great value.
Jules, who is spending a few month in L’Atitude (Cork) improving his English, was keen to show me some of the wines he was familiar with from his home in the south west of France, beginning with the family’s impressive Chateau de Cedre héritage. “This is 95% Malbec, 5% Merlot,” he said. “Four of the five parcels are organic but the next vintage will be fully organic. It is started in cement tanks, matured in barrels.”
It is medium to full bodied, gorgeous black fruits on the silky palate with a clean finish. Colour is a light ruby, it is easy-going, no shortage of drinkability. Another quality wine at a very good price (15.40).
The small Mirouze vineyard in Corbieres produces some excellent wines, including that Ciel du Sud that Jules showed. It is a lovely lively blend, 50% Grenache, 50% Carignan. It is raised in cement tanks and no sulphur is added.
|Margaret of Le Caveau and, right, Dave of Café Paradiso|
The little vineyard is surrounded by garrigue. That means the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.
Domaine No Control is into wine (of course) and music. One of their Gamay is called Fusion, the other Rockaille Billy. I had spotted the Billy on the list early on and wasn't leaving until I had a taste of it. The domaine consists of just five hectares and Jules agreed that this was that bit different to Beaujolais Gamay. “Lovely, great drinkability”. Must get a few bottles of that for the table when I have guests!
The next chat I had was with Damiem and he was showing the Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras AC Carmin Brilliant. Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm.
And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours, and bearing the distinctive diagonal wraparound label designed by Karl Lagerfeld. It is a superb blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, natural yeast is used and nothing is added. Good structure and bite, lovely ripe tannins, excellent acidity and freshness.
|Sustenance via L'Atitude 51|
Then it was on to the Alsace table where there was a strong showing from Meyer-Fonné. Always find the Gentil wines from the Alsace very drinkable and the MF 2016 was typical. Later, I would come across a similar effort from Oregon’s Ovum Wines called Big Salt!
The Meyer-Fonné Gewürztraminer 2015 Réserve was aromatic and rich. Hints of sweetness too in the Pinot Blanc but this was dry with a minerally finish. Also excellent - it suited my palate well - was the 2015 Riesling while the 2013 Grand Cru didn't quite do it for me, almost always find it hard to tune out that whiff of petrol.
|Mayer-Fonné well represented on Le Caveau list|
The 2016 Pinot Gris was much more to my liking and the winery points to this one as “the archetypical Pinot Gris for the table”. Will put that on my list. Indeed, I think I may just make a list of all the Meyer-Fonné wines and see how I get on.
I had been pointed towards the Kumpf et Meyer 2016 Riesling by Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel. And with good reason. From its fresh, fragrant and full nose through its complex palate to the long and savoury finish, this is worth a second longer look and so another that will make my ever lengthening shopping list!
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Three Wines. And a few beers!
Valdivia Dorius Amontillado seco sherry, Jerez (DO), 18%, €17.85 (50cls) Karwig Wines.
This dry amontillado is the perfect match for meat dishes and mature cheese and vanished very quickly here, where it was used as an aperitif - so quickly, I didn't have time to take any notes.
To get the best from its generous aromas and flavours, serve it at between 12 and 14 degrees. It has lovely amber colour, a rich almond nose, a nutty and tangy flavour and the superb finish goes on and on. And you can get all this from just one little sip. Very Highly Recommended. Enjoy, with all five senses, as they invite on the bottle.
Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €11.29 Aldi
Had to pick up a sparkling wine in a hurry and got this Brut (dry) in at the local Aldi. A few hours later, I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, was perfect for our little celebration. It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, a hint of biscuit (that you find in champagnes), and a fine finish. Good price too. Very Highly Recommended.
Barefoot Merlot (California), 13.5%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
“Wine tastes better in a tee than in a tux”, Barefoot say. So you’re thinking cheap and cheerful, nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with this Merlot either. This is smooth and warming, full of raspberry and blackberry flavours, mild tannins, well balanced too and with a decent finish. It is an easy-drinker and good value.
Cloudwater Session IPA Wai-iti 4.5%
Thought this was an American brewery but they are from Manchester. Brexit or not, this is an excellent beer, a superb IPA. You’ll get hoppier but the balance here is spot-on and as a result, the beer is well worth a try. You may not get it in Old Trafford or The Etihad but you’ll certainly find a bottle in Bradley’s.
St Bernardus Wit, 5.5%,
St Bernardus has quite a smile and his abbey beers deliver every time. As they do with this perfect wheat beer. This traditional Belgian wheat beer is more or less a perfect example of the type, with clove notes, very refreshing, your perfect thirst quencher. Thirsty? Bradley’s have this answer.
St Bernardus Abt 12, 10%
Another big delivery from the Belgians, the big here referring to the alcohol at 10%. Not a big worry though; the beer is perfectly balanced between malty, bitter and sweet. It has fruity aromas, is full bodied with a hoppy touch on the finish.
They say: It is the pride of our stable, the nec plus ultra of our brewery. Abbey ale brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
THE APPLE FARM
Enjoyed some exceptional plum jam at lunchtime. Spread it out on some pieces of a sliced bloomer from ABC in the English Market and..Wow!!.
Bought the jam last week from the Apple Farm in Tipperary. Just brilliant. If you can’t find it in stock in Cork, drive up to Cahir. It is only up the road. Worth it! It is very easy to get to and something to do on a bad day.
The shop is on the edge of Con Trass’ fruit farm and is a few miles outside of Cahir on the main road to Clonmel. Of course, you may also buy online.
Con makes one of my all time favourite Irish drinks: Sparkling Apple Juice. They were actually bottling some of it as I visited.
Stocked up on that (plus one of Sparkling Apple and Blackcurrant Juice) and also loads of the well known Karmine Apple Juice. Jars and jars of jam: apple, strawberry and that fabulous plum!
The apple harvest doesn’t begin until later this month and we were between strawberry pickings and there were none ready but should be there in abundance this week. But there were lots of those plums and we got a pack or two.
Soon we were on the road with two big boxes full of fruit drinks, jam and fruit. Apples have been grown in this area for hundreds of years, and since 1968, Con Trass has been planting more orchards to increase supply. Read all about this fascinating venture here. Every county should have at least one fruit farm like this. Maybe Con might start a chain!