Friday, November 13, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Funky Whites 4th November 2009

Today we looked at something different and a little bit funky in White wines.

The white wine options can at times appear to be a rolling sea of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. There are plenty of other interesting and tasty white wines available and so to alleviate the Marlborough Sauvignon seasickness, we tasted a groovy Gruner Veltliner from Austria and a funktastic Viognier from the Rhone.

Mas de Libian Viognier 2007 RRP 15.95
Viognier is a rather interesting grape mainly associated with the Rhone Valley.
(That’s a bunch of Viognier grapes from the Mas de Libian vineyards in the photo!)
Its often described as a “white wine for red wine fans” in that it has lots of aromatic character, plenty of flavour and is not too dry. The good ones have peach or apricot fruit character, a mellow honeyed texture and a nice mineral/spicy twist. This one is really good and is made by winemaker Helene Thibon. We’ve been importing Helene’s wines since the 1998 vintage and the quality and consistency is really excellent. Her white is very good but her red Cotes du Rhones are even better! The wines are organic too which is very nice to know.

Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner 2007 RRP 16.95
A bit of mouthful this wine both in name and character! I’ve heard this wine described as Gru. V. for short and I have to admit I do find it fairly groovy as white wines go. I spent a weekend in Vienna last February exposing my palate to the joys of Gru. V and was well impressed! The Austrian home market snaffles up most of the production of this wine so we don’t see too many offerings on wine shelves here. The ones I’ve tried so far remind me of peaches, citrus fruit and minerals and there’s always a fair whack of spice or pepper there aswell. Excellent dinner wines they really come into their own with food.
I tried this wine in a Korean restaurant in Vienna, with Beef Bulgogi and all I can say is Wow..what a combo! Bulgogi is a stir-fry beef and veg dish that you cook up yourself (they have a little oven hob in the middle of the table!) and it’s a great bit of craic cooking up a storm in the middle of a busy restaurant!

The grapes for this wine are grown on steep terraces and its another one of those wines I get excited about in terms of that “licking a stone” idea. You can certainly sense the soil or terroir in the mineral flavours and aromas of a wine like this..Groovy Baby..
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Wicked Halloween Wines 28th October 2009

Thinking of Halloween I thought we’d have a look at some truly Wicked Wines.

Devils Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2008 RRP 13.95
A wine all the way from Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) this wicked drop is named after a treacherous bend in the Tamar river, where many a sailor lost life and limb over the centuries.
Tasmania is a cool-climate region (like New Zealand) and Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes do really well here. Its zingy stuff for sure so if you like Marlborough whites you would enjoy this one very much.

Whispering Woods Red 2004 RRP 12.95 (2 for 20euro on promotion)
A lovely smooth blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet that sees four months ageing in oak. Its from Western Australia, a very good region for quality Aussie wine.This one definitely falls into the Winter Warmer category and its currently on promotion at 2 for 20euro! If you drank enough of this at 14.5% you wouldn’t exactly be whispering in the woods! ...more likely a bit of singing and dancing..

All the talk of sailors, misty climate and trees that do a bit of whispering, got Linsey Dolan and myself talking about scary movies like The Fog and The Shining. I watched The Shining again a few weeks ago and scared the bejaysus out of myself!
Enjoy the Halloween!!..grab a bottle of wine for backup and give yourself a good scare!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Knockout! Wines 21st October 2009

On this weeks show we looked at some tasty wines for everyday drinking.

Antares Sauvignon Blanc RRP 7.95
A great little Tuesday Night Wine that recently won a prize in The Irish Wine Show, as the “Best New World White Wine of the Year under 8euro”
Pretty much a benchmark good-value Sauvignon Blanc, this is a great (screwcapped) party wine which goes down very easily indeed.

Vaughan Johnson Good Everyday Red RRP 9.95
This is my Ronseal Wine (it does exactly what it says on the label..)
The wine is selected each year by Mr. Vaughan Johnson, who runs an excellent wine shop in Cape Town South Africa. The blend varies slightly from year to year, its always local grape verieties, but the aim remains the same, to present an easy-drinking wine for everyday drinking. Its modelled on the rustic wines of the South of France, in general style, in that it has a bit more bite than your average New World Red. A nice little drop especially at the price (also screwcapped!)

Celebrity Chef Andrew Rudd prepared a lovely stir-fry Beef and Broccoli dish in studio and we tried the food and wine together. Linsey Dolan raved about the dish, I loved the beef but I have to say broccoli and me have a chequered history at best.. The South African red went nicely with this particular dish (because of the soya sauce and beef combo..)

Karen Lawless, Dublin’s Talkings producer described the wines as “Knockout” and she must have been seeing the future! On my drive back from the studio, the car hit a bump in the road, the two wines hopped up from the back seat, spilled all over the car and very nearly knocked me out!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot World Cup Qualifier Wines 14th October 2009

With talk of “possible” World Cup Qualification for the boys in green (here’s hoping anyway!) I thought we’d have a look at some South African wines.
People often consider South Africa as a “New World” wine producer but there’s quite a history here as they’ve been making wine since 1659.
In more recent times, Cape wines really started to cause a stir in international markets after the end of the Apartheid regime and the lifting of the trade embargos.

Anyway today we looked at two wines from the family-run Backsberg winery (or “winefarm” as they like to say in South Africa) This winery, based in the Paarl wine region near Cape Town, is on the go since 1916, so lets just say the Back family have a seriously solid tradition and background in wine production.

Backsberg Chenin Blanc 2007 RRP 11.95
Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted grape in South Africa and this one is a really tasty, well-priced introduction to the variety. The wine has a lovely subtle sweetness to the fruit, balanced by a nice little bite of citrus acidity. To me, its like a halfway house between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and its certainly very easy to drink. Chenin Blanc makes a refreshing change in white wine because your palate can easily suffer from over-exposure to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (the big two in White Wine Varietals) We had this wine just after tasting Andrew Rudd’s Meringue Roulade and I reckon it worked very well with this dessert.Dublin's Talking presenter Linsey Dolan gave us the thumbs up on the wine and dessert combo which was great! If you like Chenin Blanc try some Vouvray, the classic French wine made from the grape!

Backsberg Pinotage 2004 RRP 12.95
Pinotage is South Africa’s unique signature grape (its a crossing of two French grapes, Pinot Noir and Cinsault) and is one of those wines that people seem to love or hate.
I’ve tried some really good ones (Kanonkop and Diemersfontein) but there are equally some fairly dodgy ones on the market (especially at the cheaper end of things..) I think that the Backsberg is a really well-made wine and a good introduction to the grape at a fair price. Its got a big juicy strawberry, spice and herb character..there may also be the slightest hint of banana, although I may well have imagined that, it packs a fair punch on the alcohol front 14% . It doesn’t taste that heavy but you can certainly feel the kick after a few glasses!

The Backsberg winery is “Certified Carbon Neutral” by the way..they’ve made many innovations to cut back on their Carbon Footprint including using lighter glass and packaging on their range of wines.

Two tasty Cape wines in any case and another interesting tasting!

We’ll be celebrating our Fourth Anniversary in Sandyford Village this Saturday 17th October. Feel free to join us for a glass of prosecco and some cake between 6 and 8pm!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot P.S. I Love White Wine 7th October 2009

Having covered only red wines on last weeks programme I thought we’d balance up the scales and take a look at some fashionable whites this week. The show’s producer Karen Lawless tipped me off and asked me to cater for the ladies in particular (as Cecilia Aherne was in studio talking about her new book of romantic fiction)
So, we tasted two wines, a cheeky Pinot Grigio and a “lovely bubbly” Prosecco.
Both these wines are uber-fashionable at the moment (especially since Pinot Grigio got a mention in “Sex and the City”) and we’ve noticed a big increase in sales of both wines in recent times.
Pinot Grigio has several things going for it as a wine style, its dry, crisp, very fruity and quite light in alcohol, hence its easygoing drinkability! Its also pretty good value for money! There are quite a few well-priced PG’s on the market here now and if you’d like to splash out and try a really good one, trade up a few euro and pick a wine from the Collio or Friuli wine regions (the hilly areas where the good producers make the best wines, Collavini or Pighin are good winery names to look out for..)
Andrew Rudd, celebrity chef, was in studio cooking up his usual storm and a beautiful Chicken Pilau dish was on the menu to try with today’s wines!

San Giorgio Pinot Grigio 2008 RRP 10.95
A lovely refreshing drop (make sure its well chilled..) this is benchmark Pinot Grigio with plenty of fresh, pear fruit character and a nice citrus bite. A wine you can easily drink without food, it also worked beautifully with Andrew Rudd’s spicy Chicken Pilau. PG is a good wine for spicy dishes. You need something refreshing to offset the heat of the chilli or other spices and you really don’t want a wine that’s too posh (chances are the wine will be blown away by the strong spices in the dish.)

Teresa Rizzi Prosecco Frizzante RRP 11.95
A tasty little prosecco for sure, its no wonder this bubbly sells like crazy…it is just so easy to drink! Prosecco is the name of the grape by the way, it comes from the Veneto wine region near Venice, this is definitely the “Sparkling Wine du Jour” Fruitier, lighter and not as dry as Brut Champagne (it definitely does not have the class or cachet of a good champagne but hey it slips down very easily and sells at a quarter of the price!)
The “frizzante” style proseccos don’t have the full fizz bubbles of a champagne either. If you want more fizz for your euro, try a Spumante and look for ones from Valdobbiadene region (that’s where all the best prosecco is made)

We have both these wines on promotion (2 for 20euro!) at the moment as part of our Fourth Anniversary Wine Sale.

You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Gold Star Awards 30th September 2009

The NOFFLA Irish Wine Show 2009 took place yesterday in Leopardstown and a goodly portion of the Irish Wine Trade were all dressed up and in attendance. Its an annual event and a fairly big shindig in the Wine Trade calendar for the year. At the event the “Gold Star Wine Awards 2009” were announced and I took this idea as inspiration for this weeks Country Mix Radio WineSpot.
We looked at two of the winners: the “Best New World Red under 14 euro” a wine from Chile called Secreto Carmenere 2008 and the “Best Old World Red under 20 euro” a Spanish wine called Museum Real Reserva 2003.
Andrew Rudd, celebrity chef, joined us in studio and his spicy Kedgeree (a fish curry with rice and boiled eggs) and chocolate amaretti cake were on the menu today! I’ll post links to Andrew’s recipes when I get a chance. His seriously tasty chocolate amaretti cake had myself and the Country Mix staff in general ecstasy after the show, as we polished off the leftovers!

Secreto Carmenere 2008 RRP 13.95
This wine is really nicely presented in a tall bottle with a colourful arty label (designed by Chilean artist Catalina Abbott) and the wine inside is wonderful juicy stuff! It’s from the Colchagua Valley in Chile and made at the Viu Manent winery, which has an excellent reputation for quality wine. It’s made from the Carmenere grape, originally a French grape, now no longer really found in France and fast becoming a bit of a Chilean speciality. In the same way as Pinotage in South Africa or Zinfandel in California, it gives the Chilean wineries something a little bit different to offer the Wine Market.
The wine gets eight months ageing in oak to add a bit of complexity, spice and roundness to the intense fruity character. A lovely drinkable fruit-forward style of wine!

Museum Real Reserva 2003 RRP 19.95
This fantastic wine comes from D.O. Cigales in Northern Spain and once again is presented in an original bottle, with an eye-catching front label made of shiny metal!
The wine is made from old vine Tempranillo (seventy years of age!) and it’s aged in oak barrels for two years and then in bottle for anther three years before release. This is one thing I really like about top Spanish reds. Most of them do quite a bit of ageing before they hit the market for sale (an important thing when you are talking about “oaky wine”.. these wines need a few years to soften up and gain that velvet-smooth complexity that we all seek.) Anyway the Museum Real is absolutely packed with black fruits, spice and has a lovely complex mouthfeel. The finish is very long as the flavours linger long after you’ve swallowed the wine. If you’re a fan of Rioja or Ribera del Duero I reckon you’d really enjoy this wine, it’s a bit of a “Turbo” Rioja if you ask me..

Two cracking red wines, keep an eye out for other wines with the Gold Star Award as they appear in shops over the coming weeks and months.
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Wines with an Irish Connection 23rd September 2009

Today we were in studio with Linsey Dolan and Celebrity Chef Andrew Rudd,
who brought some sensational Chicken Quesadillas to taste with the wines.

In this week of celebration of the impact of 250 years of Arthur Guinness on the Beer World we thought we’d have a look at the impact of some Irish people on the Wine World. In typically Irish fashion we have connections all over the place!
Take Bordeaux in France, you can find Chateau Lynch Bages (and its more affordable Michel Lynch range), Chateau MacCarthy, Frank Phelan, Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Clarke, Chateau Dillon and that’s just for starters! Most of the connections with these wines date right back to the 17th and 18th Century and the Wild Geese, the rebel Irish families who fled to France after various failed attempts at ousting the British.
Let’s not forget about Hennessy? One of the brand-leaders in the serious Cognac market.

There are many New World wineries with vague Irish connections or who take Irish inspiration in naming their wines, for example, Waterford in South Africa and Jim Barry (The Armagh Shiraz) in Clare Valley, Australia. This tasting focused on a boutique Aussie winery Setanta, based in Adelaide Hills South Australia, which has interesting Irish credentials.
The winery is run by the Sullivan family, Sheilagh and Bernard, and they took inspiration from their Irish roots and heritage, when it came to naming their winery and presenting their wines. They chose Setanta (and the myths and legends of Cuchulain) and commissioned the wonderfully-named Anelia Pavlova (a local artist) to design the labels for their classy range of wines. The labels look fantastic but more importantly the wine in the bottle is great too!

Setanta “ Emer” Chardonnay RRP 22.95
Emer (the wife of Cuchulain) was the most intelligent and beautiful woman in all Ireland, she had beauty, sweet voice, wisdom and chastity..and the ability to "hold talk" (that most Irish of qualities!) This wine, named after the rather wonderful Emer, is a cracking lightly-oaked Chardonnay just bursting with toasty tropical flavours and aromas.
It went very well with Andrew Rudd’s spicy Quesadillas and would also be very tasty with Chicken or Creamy pasta dishes.

Setanta “ Black Sanglain” Cabernet Sauvignon RRP 22.95
This beast of a wine is certainly well-named (after Cuchulain’s horse, who led his chariot through all the mighty and heroic deeds) It’s a deeply coloured bruiser, packed with blackcurrant, plum, chocolate and spice. It sees 12 months ageing in French and American oak barrels and it’s a wine you could happily keep for 5 to 10 years to watch it develop. Having said that when it tastes this good sure what would you be keeping it’s a real Black Beauty!

Next week we plan to look at some of the award-winning wines from the Irish Wine Show 2009!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Portuguese Wines 16th September 2009

With talk of the Lisbon Treaty on everybody’s lips we thought we’d get ourselves in the frame and try some Portuguese wines. Sales of Portuguese wines still lag behind France, Spain and Italy in terms of the Irish Market but there is definite growth and interest in Portuguese wines as we get more familiar with the different wine styles and funky grape names. We find customers are coming back from golf trips or holidays in Portugal with a new-found interest in tasty wines they tried when they were away.
One of the really interesting things about wines from Portugal is that most of them are made from traditional, indigenous grape varities. This really gives them a point of difference and you can have great fun exposing your palate to some of these charming wines.You won't find much in the way of Shiraz or Merlot, you’re more likely to come across grapes like Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz, Arinto or Castelao..there’s even a grape called Bastardo (mainly used in port making)..I wouldn't mind trying it for the craic..with a name like that its got to be worth a blast!
The grape is also known as that sounds more like a "dirty" Brazilian footballer..

Prova Regia “ Arinto” White 2007 RRP 11.95
From a winery established in 1703 (it says so on the label..) this is a cracking dry, crisp wine made from the Arinto grape in the Bucelas wine region of Portugal. Its got pineapple, passion fruit and lime fruit character and a nice mineral twist that I’m very fond of.
It would remind you vaguely of a Sancerre (which is no bad thing especially at a decent price like this..) Its been one of the house wines in L’Ecrivain for quite some time too which is always nice to know! If you’re into fish this would be a great wine to go for but having said that its pretty damn tasty all on its own!

Pegos Claros 2004 RRP 13.95
This fantastic wine deserves more of a following..its really good stuff and very well-priced. Its made from the Castelao grape in the Palmela region of Portugal.
The soils here are sandy, the vines are 40 years old and the grapes are pressed under foot in the time-honoured way! The wine is aged for 12 months in a mix of French and Portuguese oak and to my palate tastes a bit like Bordeaux with a nice bit of maturity, in other’s like a lovely mix of spice, coffee and jam.
Definitely a wine to open in advance of drinking, it really opens up nicely and is very complex for the money.

Two super little wines by way of introduction to the wines of Portugal.

You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Wine and Chocolate 9th September 2009

What a way to start your working day...a Wine and Chocolate we’re talking!

Wine and chocs are two of my favourite things, but just how well do different types and styles work together? We tried some combos and here’s how we got on.
In general terms I’d read that Dark Chocolate worked best with stronger full-bodied reds and Milk or White Chocolate worked well with lighter fruity reds or sweet whites.
On that basis we teamed up Cline Zinfandel Red 2006 RRP 15.95 from Sonoma Valley in California (apparently Zin is a good wine for chocolate lovers..) and Oremus Tokaji Late Harvest Sweet Dessert Wine 2006 RRP 19.95 from Hungary, and three types of handmade chocolate made by talented and Kenmare based, French chocolatier, Benoit Lorge.
Lynsey Dolan absolutely loved the combo of Dark Chocolate and Sweet Hungarian wine which went completely against what we were told to expect, but sure that’s the fun of wine tasting, by experimenting we find new favourites!
I thought the golden nectar Tokaji went great with the White Chocolate..what a combo.. really luscious! It was pretty damn tasty with the Milk Chocolate & Pistachio far so good..By the way Tokaji is known as “the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings” and its one of the most exciting and historical dessert wines you will ever get your hands on.
I highly recommend you try some..if you can find it, go for a Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos (the higher the puttonyos rating the sweeter, more luscious and intense the wine!)
The dark bittersweet 70% chocolate with cocoa nibs was super with the red Zinfandel, something about the red fruit and spicy character that really set off the bitter tang of the chocolate and cocoa..yummy..

What a fun tasting, one of the best themes we've covered!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Organic Wines 2nd September 2009

We covered organic wines in our latest tasting.
Organic wines are essentially wines made in the traditional / natural way without the use of chemicals, weedkillers, pesticides etc.. in the vineyard. We’re seeing more and more Certified Organic wines on the market and just as there is interest in organic meat and fruit and vegetables so too with wine. It’s slightly confusing with wine however, since some producers work organically, but don’t have the Organic Certification on their labels.
If you want to try a “guaranteed” organic wine look for one with the Organic Cert on the label (just to confuse things even more, there are different Certification Bodies in different countries eg. AB, Ecocert, Demeter ) Feel free to ask your friendly neighbourhood wine merchant to advise on other wines where the winemakers “work organically”.

The two wines we tried today are from a Certified Organic Winery run by the Kalleske family in Barossa Valley, Australia.
The more I read about Barossa the more I like what I find out..its one of the oldest vineyards in Australia and they have some seriously old vines from the 1800’s, still producing grapes to make great wine! There’s a Prussian heritage in Barossa, hence the slightly Germanic sounding family names like Kalleske, Schutz or Henshke. There’s a great tradition in Barossa of family-run wineries which go back many generations.
Barossa wines we stock at Nectar Wines include Kalleske, Schutz Red Nectar and Langmeil. If you’re a fan of Shiraz, Grenache or Cabernet it’s a really happy hunting ground. The wines are not particularly cheap but boy are they good.

Kalleske “Clarrys” White 2007 RRP 19.95
A tasty blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon named in honour of Clarence (Clarry..) Kalleske, the grandfather of winemaker Troy Kalleske, who is still working away in the vineyards at 89 years of age! A lovely, fruity and smooth reminds me of limes mostly..its very easy to drink and really refreshing.

Kalleske “Clarrys” Red 2007 RRP 19.95
This is a Grenache/Shiraz blend based on classic Cotes du Rhone (one of my absolute favourites as it happens..I was weaned onto wine in France by drinking good Cotes du Rhone!) Fairly full-on this wine has bags and bags of flavour and aroma. A friend of mine described it as “liquid velvet” and I think that just about sums it up. Really smooth, with a finish that lingers on and on, you could literally drink this all night.

This was voted Red Wine of the Year by our WineClub members, so it has its fans.

If you’d like to join our WineClub and get involved in our tastings just send me an email to

You can find all the details on Kalleske wines on their website
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Pink Fizz 26th August 2009

We got ourselves in a bubbly frame of mind for this latest tasting
as our theme was “Pink Fizz”

Our first bottle was “Pink” by Yellowglen RRP 16.95, an Aussie sparkler from Victoria in South Australia. Yellowglen winery only produces Sparkling Wine and are recognised as quality winemakers and brand leaders in Australia. This bubbly is definitely one for the girls and everything about it screams PINK, from the bottle and label to the juice itself.
Lynsey Dolan absolutely loved this one, as she is a big fan of fizz in general, and sweeter types of Rosé. It has a great fizzy mousse with lots of strawberry fruit character.
A bit sweet for my palate, but I can see that it would be just perfect to kick off a Girls Night Out or a Girls Night In! I’d say it would be nice with dessert if you were having a dinner party and would be just great with pancakes or ice cream. The other nice thing about this wine is that the winery has their sponsorship link with the Pink Ribbon foundation
(Breast Cancer Awareness) proudly displayed on the label.

We travelled to the western cape of South Africa for our next bottle of bubbly tasting Graham Beck Vintage Brut Rosé 2006 RRP 24.95. A good step up in quality (admittedly more expensive..) this is a cracking bottle of fizz at the price. Its made from the Champagne method
(now called Cap Classique in South Africa, after the row with the Champenois who insisted,
quite rightly, that if you’re going to call it Champagne, it should come from the Champagne region!) The grapes used are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, typical Champagne grapes.
You get a lovely ripe strawberry character from the Pinot and a nice creamy feel
from the Chardonnay, all told a really super package with a nice bite of “Brut” acidity to keep things fresh and lively. These wines are meant to be Fun, fun, fun.. and thats just what we had tasting them!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Spanish Wines 19th August 2009

We headed into sunny Spain for our latest tasting, sampling a white wine from Galicia and a classic "oaky" red from Rioja.

Tobelos Rioja Crianza 2004 RRP 16.95 (Bodega La Encina)
If you're travelling into Rioja from the north, 'La Encina' (named after the estate's century old oak tree), with its striking, minimalist cellar, is the first bodega you'll encounter. It's closely followed by elite outfits Rioja Alta, Muga and Cune. Encina's debut 2002 vintage instantly placed them among the elite, a relief after vast expenditure on the winery and 1,200 American barrels.
This wine was oak-aged for 12 months, and the velvety blend of Tempranillo/Garnacha has rich aromas of blackberries, vanilla and spice. Beautifully smooth five years after vintage...thats one of the great things about Rioja..the wines are aged quite a bit before they release them for sale.
This definitely helps their drinkability..oaky wines can take a few years to soften up and hit their absolute cracker..great with lamb or Sunday Roast.
Our White wine was Valminor Albarinho 2007 RRP 18.95
This beautiful wine comes from Galicia in the North-West of Spain, a cool climate, maritime region which (surprisingly for Spain) is very green. not unlike Ireland!
The wine has lovely bracing acidity, its very fresh and grapefruity with hints of melon and apricot..really tasty as an aperitif before your dinner and it also works beautifully with fish or seafood.
Albarinho wines can seem a bit pricey at first, but they are considered to be the greatest white wines from Spain.This one is a consistently good performer, we've tasted several vintages now, so its a good place to start with Albarinho.
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Italian Wines August 12th 2009

Italian Wines – wines from the Veneto region
We tasted the Montezovo Valpolicella Ripasso 2005 RRP 18.95, a real Monica Belluci of a wine, full-bodied and voluptuous! A beautiful wine, bags of flavour and so smooth and drinkable even after 3 years in oak barrels.

Our White was the Zenato Lugana 2008 RRP 14.95 from Lake Garda, another perennial favourite of mine. Wines produced from the Lugana grape are well worth checking out.
I reckon they have a lot more to offer in terms of aromas and flavour than most Pinot Grigios.
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Lower Alcohol Wines August 5th 2009

Ligher Wines / Wines with lower alcohol
We visited Germany and Portugal for this tasting of two white wines.
We had the Max Ferd. Richter Zeppelin Riesling 2008 RRP 13.95 from the Mosel Valley, a really tasty, off-dry wine with lovely aromas and flavours at 9.5% alcohol.
We also tasted another classic summer wine, the Vinho Verde from Portugal (Vinhas Altas 2008 RRP 10.95) slightly spritzy with a nice hint of lemon and green apple fruit. 10% alcohol and very refreshing. Both these wines are perfect for lunchtime drinking.
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Rosé Wines July 29th 2009

Rosé Wines – Sunshine in a glass!
We tasted Finca Flichman Malbec/Shiraz 2007 RRP 10.95 from Argentina, a tasty and unusual blend made from two serious red grapes and Estampa Cabernet/Syrah 2008 RRP 10.95, another funky blend all the way from Colchagua Valley in Chile. We even got a sunny day for this tasting which reminded me just how good a nice chilled rosé can be when that eye in the sky is shining!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot French Wine & Cheese July 15th 2009

Bastille Day – French wines and French cheese
I paired up a Loire Sauvignon, Haut Poitou 2008 RRP 10.95 with a St. Maure Goats Cheese..a very tasty combo indeed..and a Cotes du Ventoux Red (Terrasses d’Eole 2005 RRP 13.95) wine from the Rhone with a beautiful Jura cheese I love called Comté..yummy..the Country Mix staff got stuck into the leftovers..its never too early for good wine and cheese!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

County Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Wines with "unusual" names July 8th 2009

Wines with “unusual / funny” names –
We tasted Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007 RRP 15.95 from Marlborough (named after the Spy Satellite Station in the valley around the vineyards!) and Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2007 RRP 14.95 from Franschoek (South Africa) named in honour of the porcupines who roam the vineyards!
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot Summer BBQ Wines July 1st 2009

Summer / BBQ Wines – ideal wines for our “scorcher” of a summer
We tasted Jeio Prosecco RRP 19.95 and Barking Owl Shiraz / Viognier 2004 RRP 16.95
You can listen to my weekly winespot every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am on Country Mix 106.8fm.

Country Mix 106.8fm WineSpot

I started doing the WineSpot on Country Mix recently.
It airs every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11
on Linsey Dolan’s Show “Dublins Talking”

Its been great fun selecting a theme for each show.
Tune in if you’re available!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Icon Wine Tasting

We had our latest WineClub Tasting the other day
in the shop and the tasty theme was “Icon Wines”

The “Wow factor” wasn’t bad as the line-up was as follows:

Domaine Chene Saint Veran 2006 RRP 16.95
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 RRP 29.95
Jean Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2005 RRP 29.95
(La Piece au Comte)
Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Les Corbins 2005 RRP 35.00

Mas Laval Les Pampres 2007 RRP 17.95
Domaine Zede Margaux 2004 RRP 29.95
Vieux Chateau des Templiers Pomerol 2006 RRP 29.95
Chateau Musar 2001 RRP 27.95

The Saint Veran was very well received
and showed extremely well against the more expensive
Chablis and Meursault (all Chardonnays French-style..)

The Meursault being an oak-fermented and aged Chardonnay took some tasters by surprise. The poor old Chardonnay grape, behind some of the greatest white wines in the world (Chablis / All White Burgundies / Macon) and yet pretty much universally scorned and derided (and impossible to sell if labelled as Chardonnay! ) Rosemount, Wolf Blass and those other “oaky” Aussie numbers have a lot to answer for..they’ve put a lot of wine drinkers off Chardonnay for life!

The Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc was a real winner with tasters, clean and fresh with plenty of zip, citrus bite and interest. It’s a true Icon Wine in that it put New Zealand and Marlborough region on the world wine map for top-quality Sauvignon Blanc. Its certainly arguable now that there are other Marlborough producers giving Cloudy Bay a challenge at half the price, but Cloudy Bay has built up its name and reputation over the years and people still get a kick out of tasting the wine or even getting their hands on a bottle..
Its not quite the Holy Grail of wine that it used to be but its definitely one to try for any budding wine buff.

I put in the Mas Laval Les Pampres ( a wine from Aniane in the Languedoc) to see how it fared against the more expensive, stellar Bordeaux names of Margaux and Pomerol and it fared pretty damn well..its very well priced for the quality you’re getting..I often recommend this one to customers in the shop (who like French wine..) as I think its one of our best. We only get 25 cases per annum since it’s a small “in-demand” winery.

The Domaine Zede Margaux 2004 was showing very nicely with a beautiful open nose of black fruit, oak and a smooth, supple tannic structure. By contrast the 2006 Pomerol was very tight, it needs another few years to show its best. You could put this wine in a decanter for a few hours as it seemed to open up a bit, over the few hours of the tasting.

The star of the reds was the Chateau Musar from Lebanon.. as a friend of mine put it so very well by text recently when I recommended he try it..MUSAR IS KING! What a wine..great complexity of smooth fruit and changes in the glass as you drink it..its really funky stuff. Watch out for the sediment in the end of the bottle. There is usually quite a bit as Musar is only released for sale after seven years. If you’re a red wine fan you have to try it.

Overall an interesting little tasting...thanks to all who attended!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Real Wine vs. Varietal Wine

Pascal Bouchard Chablis 2008

I really enjoyed this bottle of Chablis the other night..its an early release from the 2008 vintage (which apparently turned out to be pretty exceptional in Burgundy.)
After fairly horrific summer conditions last year there was a kind of long, late Indian Summer, which helped the grapes achieve quality and ripeness.
Anyway this wine is pure “Classic Chablis” all flint,citrus and minerals..I remember someone describing Chablis as “licking a stone” and this wine fits the bill exactly!
(I should know.. I’ve licked a few stones as a wayward youth.. and the occasional pebble..I digress..)
I had the wine with a seafood bake, oven roast potatoes and pan-fried asparagus.
The wine worked really well with the food and got me thinking about what I like to call “real” wine. To me “real” wines are wines with a sense of place and Chablis is a perfect example. It’s a wine with something beyond the primary fruit character which can develop in the glass and hold your interest. The wine reflects the local soil or “terroir” with its flavours and aromas.,that’s where the “licking a stone” idea comes from. Chablis is made from the much-maligned Chardonnay grape and good Chablis is a million miles away from most New World Chardonnay offerings. Varietal wines labelled as Chardonnay are just hard to get excited about. Sure there are some good ones from Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere but I’ve never tried one to really rival a good Chablis or White Burgundy for sheer character, class and interest.
I guess Varietal wines fit the bill when you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful for a party or barbecue where you’re not going to have time to worry too much about the wine. Chilean Merlot is another good example..pretty boring after a while..grand when you’re new to wine and you’re looking for a fruit-bomb in a glass. If you want “Real” wine, Europe is the best hunting-ground, head for France, Spain and Italy and get stuck into wines with a sense of place and tradition,,Chianti, Barolo, Rioja, Chateauneuf, Sancerre, St.Emilion, Volnay etc....all the proven Classics..the list goes on and on...
A word of advice, don’t just buy the cheapest one you find. Because they are Classics these wines have almost become their own brands at this stage and there is some absolute tack out there masquerading as classic wine. I picked up a Chateauneuf Red at 9.99 from SuperValu a while ago for educational purposes..big mistake..the wine although labelled as Chateauneuf tasted pretty average, verging on slightly nasty..I certainly wouldn’t buy it again. The problem with these commodity wines is that they devalue the regions reputation for quality and the hard work of the reliable quality-driven producers who make the good wines that we all know and love.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Magic and wine..

Le Chemin des Reves Abracadabra 2007 RRP 15.95

One of my favorite French wines of recent times is this red wine from the Languedoc.
Its made by Benoit Viot at Le Chemin des Reves (“The path of dreams”)

Its certainly a modern-style French wine with a funky colourful label and an English description of the wine on the back label. Benoit travelled to the UK and Chile and he picked up some nice ideas from the New World wines that he came across there.
There’s also a nice quote on the bottle “Reve ta vie en couleur, c’est le secret du bonheur” (dream your life in colour, this is the secret of happiness!)

Ahh, the French and their’d be surprised how many small winemakers
do a nice sideline in philosophy..I’ve certainly come across a few.
(In fairness I think we all like to philosophise after a decent drop of vino! )
I guess there are plenty of times when winemakers have to react philosophically..can you imagine the stress they must be under when a hail-storm threatens their vines and their livelihood! The amount of graft, skill and patience winemakers have to call upon in looking after vines and making good wine constantly amazes’s a real vocation if you ask me..

Anyway,this wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. It weighs in at a healthy 14% alcohol and is absolutely packed with fruit and spice and all things nice. It could easily pass for a Rhone wine and geographically speaking, the vineyards are very close to the Rhone wine region (just to the north of Montpellier) in an area called Pic Saint Loup, which is gaining a real reputation as a top area for red wine.

Keep your eyes open for wines of this region..any of the ones I’ve tried so far have been really good.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chateau Musar 2001

Chateau Musar 2001 RRP 27.95

This is a must-try wine for any self-respecting red wine fan.
Like Cloudy Bay is to New Zealand its Lebanon’s icon wine and has been for many years now.

I’ve tried this wine in several vintages and I’ve never been disappointed.
I had a memorable bottle of the 1998 at the Slieve Russell Hotel in Cavan with a tasty fillet steak...God Help me..I’ve a hard life..

The people at Musar only release the wine after seven years so its already got some bottle age and is showing a nice bit of complexity by the time you can actually buy it. I really think that’s a great many wines hit the market way too young where they’re not near ready to drink and enjoy.

I had a really enjoyable tasting of Musar wines at the London Wine Fair some years ago and Serge Hochar himself talked us through the wines, red and white. Yes there is a Musar White..although its hard enough to find in Ireland. We tasted several brilliant vintages of the reds and then (on Serge’s advice) moved onto the whites!! An unusual approach to tasting..usually its whites before reds..but then again Musar is far from a “usual” wine.
In fact I think Musar is pretty "unique" in the world of fine wine.

It’s a wine made following Bordeaux winemaking principles (Serge Hochar learned quite a bit from some famous names in Bordeaux) its not really Bordeaux-like though, it has a more exotic "feel" and spicy character from the hot climate and unusual grape mix.

I certainly think it’s a “fine wine” by any measure. Its got quite a funky mix of flavours which I absolutely love and it develops and changes in the glass as you work your way through the bottle.

Its quite liable to throw a sediment as you reach the end of the bottle (the wines are made as naturally as possible and it is eight years old afterall..)
I always get quite excited when I see sediment at the end of a red wine.
(Over the years drinking wine most of the wines I’ve found sediment in have been absolutely sensational.)

There’s obviously a political backdrop to where the wine comes from, the vineyards are in the Bekaa Valley, where there have been many bomb attacks and battles over the years..that they continue to make such great wines through such difficult times gives the wines an added dimension.

Chateau of the World’s most interesting fine wines!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Domaine Aimé Minervois La Liviniere 2002

Domaine Aimé Minervois La Liviniere 2002 RRP 15.95

This is a great little wine from the south of France, made by Remi Bonnet at his family domaine in the Minervois region.Speaking of families.. thats Remi and his family in the picture..

Remi and Flo (his wife) are true "vignerons" in the best traditions of the word.

Their wines are truly hand-made, with passion and know-how passed on from generation to generation.. Remi named his wine after his Grandfather Aimé..thus Domaine Aimé..
Remi has quite a few different grape varieties available, which he blends according to the vintage conditions and the style of wine he's making..Syrah, Grenache, Merlot and Old Vine Carignan are the main ones..

We love selling wines made by people like Remi and Flo..they're friends of ours at this stage and we always look forward to meeting up with them for dinner and some wine, when we visit the Languedoc..They're small quality-focused producers and they produce "true" wines, a million miles away from the big brands you'll find in the supermarché!
I highly recommend that you give this wine a try..its in a tall bottle with an orange label!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mas Laval / St. Patricks Day

Thought I'd give myself a wine treat for Paddys Day so
I cracked open a bottle of the Mas Laval 2005..

All I can say is Wow..what a wine..its absolutely gorgeous stuff..
(Its not cheap at 25.95 but I strongly feel that its worth every cent)
The wine is a Syrah / Grenache, Mourvedre blend
(a blend I'm really fond of by the way..)
Sometimes they add a small component of Cabernet Franc
aswell depending on the vintage conditions..
The wine is aged for 18 months in one year old burgundy
barrels from Domaine de la Romanee Conti, no less!!
The Mas Laval vineyards are near the village of Aniane,
a famous terroir in the Languedoc, where some really famous
and more expensive wines (Mas de Daumas Gassac / Grange des Peres)
are made.
I visited the winery and vineyards on my last trip to the Languedoc
and tasted wines directly from the vats and barrels with Joel Laval,
one of three brothers involved in running the winery.
A fascinating visit and having tasted the wines now over several vintages a wine I can heartily recommend..

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sideways Wine Tasting

I finally managed to have a “Sideways” inspired tasting in our shop in Sandyford..
We haven’t stocked too many Californian wines in our shop so far as, in general, we found them falling into two camps : cheap, bland, big brands (Blossom Hill / Sutter Home etc.. ) or really good but expensive (Ridge / Saintsbury etc..)
Anyway recently we came across a new importer with a great little range of Californian wines, from interesting wineries, that won’t break the bank!

Our guest for the tasting was Jonathan Spielberg (California Wine Imports)

We tasted eight wines.

Silverado Sauvignon Blanc 2007 17.95
Bogle Viognier 2007 17.95

Estrada Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 12.95
Estrada Creek Syrah 2005 12.95

Bogle Pinot Noir 2006 19.95
Bogle Petite Sirah 2006 17.95
Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2006 17.95

Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 25.95

I thought the Estrada Creek Syrah was a real winner on the night and, at 12.95, I reckon it’s very decent value too..the Bogle Pinot Noir showed very well, a cracking bottle of red..Its been a while since I had any Napa Cabernet and the Merryvale didn’t’s a beauty..

In terms of what sold well on the night..the Bogle Petite Sirah and Viognier were the bestsellers..

There was a “Merlot Ban” for this tasting which was quite funny in the end, as we had our very own Sideways moment..
Near the front door of the shop, I had Sideways playing on the laptop and closeby I set up a “Shrine to Pinot Noir” in tribute to Miles the “wine nut” character in the film..
Later in the evening I overheard Jonathan offer a customer a taste of one of his range, running through all the various and many options he had on the end of a lengthy description of the various whites and reds that were open.. the customer just said “Do you have any Merlot?” Oh well..

Many thanks to California Wine Imports and Mr.Spielberg for a truly cinematic tasting!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Le Caveau Wine Tasting

Popped into Fallon & Byrne for the Le Caveau Portfolio tasting..

A great line-up of wines covering lots of regions and grape varieties.

Tasted a line-up of whites from Meyer Fonné, a really good Alsace producer.
It constantly amazes me that Alsace Whites do not sell better..they are fabulous white wines with great character and flavour..I guess it must be the German looking bottles and labels...Pinot Blanc / Riesling / Gewurztraminer & Pinot Gris that knocks spots off any Pinot Grigio you’d care to mention..the wines of Meyer Fonné are truly excellent..
Tired of Sauv. Blanc / Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay I urge you to try some Alsace whites..great with spicy food especially Thai.

Meyer Fonné Gentil d’Alsace 2007 (nice funky mix of grapes..)
Meyer Fonné Pinot Blanc 2007
Meyer Fonné Riesling 2007
Meyer Fonné Gewurztraminer 2006
Meyer Fonné Pinot Gris 2007
Meyer Fonné Riesling Grand Cru Wineck Schlossberg 2006 (sensational wine..)

Tasted four “affordable” Red Burgundies and one New Zealand Pinot..The New Zealand wine, Framingham Pinot Noir 2007, won hands down..The Burgundies were admittedly all fairly young but they were too much of the “iron fist” and not enough of the “velvet glove” Anyway good Red Burgundy at any kind of affordable price is very scarce in Ireland..

Tasted some Bordeaux and Bergerac reds..A basic Bordeaux from 2005 beat the bejaysus out of a few 2004’s… even wines moving up a level or two..a good vintage in Bordeaux really makes all the difference. Bergerac is definitely good hunting ground for Bordeaux-style wines..I guess the producers there just have to try that little bit harder and can’t just sit back and rely on selling the wine on its “supposed” good name..Tour des Gendres is a really good producer to try from this region..

I’ve been on a bit of an Italian white discovery trail recently after a lovely bottle of I took the chance to run through a line-up of Italian Whites..San Marziano Pinot Grigio 2007 (light and watery, the usual story with PG..Why Oh Why does it sell so well..) Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelica 2007 (great stuff..) and Tamellini Soave Superiore 2006 (even greater stuff!! one of my wines of the tasting..reminded me of the Pieropan Soave.

There are plenty of tasty white options beyond Pinot Grigio that’s for sure..Lugana, Vernaccia, Greco di Tufo etc..

Next, a couple of cracking Italian reds..Frentano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2007 and Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo these are really lovely wines, spicy and fruity with just the right balance of weight/alcohol and acidity..

Tried some Madiran (Alain Brumont Torus 2006) and Ribera del Duero (Atalayas de Golban 2005)..My God you have to be in the humour for these heavyweights..loads of tannin / loads of oak / loads of alcohol..when I first got into wine these bruisers used to really impress me with their full-on flavour and I’m not so sure..
Both definitely way too young for my palate..I’d love to try these wines with a bit of bottle-age when the wines settle down..

Almost forgot to enthuse about a lovely little Languedoc white I tried near the start of my tasting, Montredon Picpoul de Pinet 2007..Rick Stein raves about this wine whenever he gets the chance..its great on its own and perfect with oysters! Summer in a glass..roll on a bit of decent weather!

Overall a very interesting tasting..Well done et Merci Le Caveau!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bogle Petite Sirah 2006

Tried one of our new arrivals last night.. Bogle Petite Sirah 2006 (RRP 17.95 ) all the way from Clarksburg California...don't get me started on my obsession with Sideways..It comes in a fairly funky bottle..quite an unusual almost looks more like a bottle of beer..

Anyway this was a really delicious wine, great deep dark colour, powerful intense blackberry fruit with some spicy notes and lovely toastiness from the oak...As soon as I poured this wine I knew I was on to a winner..funny that..certain wines just seem to have a look or feel about them when you just know its gonna be good..its like a certain magical viscosity or something..

Now I know thats hardly scientific but its happened me too often to ignore..if you feel or see that magic in the wine you are in for a treat! Reminds me of a book I read years ago where it spoke about wine being a "living thing" just waiting and waiting in the bottle for that magical moment where the cork pops.. and the wine breathes and interacts with the air and the world again..I really like that idea..savour those moments..the circumstances are unlikely to ever be exactly the same again..

I havent come across this grape variety much..pretty much exclusive to California I believe..
this one didn't last long..went down very easy..great stuff indeed!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

3 Great Rhone Wines

I've been on a bit of a Rhone Valley wine trail the last week or so...and I've been having great fun working my way through 3 fantastic wines from (probably..) my favourite wine region..

Mas de Libian Bout d'Zan AC Cotes du Rhone 2006 RRP 14.95

A blend of Grenache (mainly) and Syrah this is a cracking bottle of wine..Ideally it needs to be opened an hour or two in advance to fully enjoy all the aromas and flavours..Having said that, quite often with this wine I just "pop and go"

Fairly full-on the wine is absolutely packed with all sorts of fruit and spice..a really enjoyable drop and one I'm sentimentally attached to (since it was the first winery we shipped directly from.. way back in the 1998 vintage!)

La Pialade 2005 AC Cotes du Rhone RRP 25.00

A wine from the Chateau Rayas (Chateauneuf du Pape) people and a real stunner.

Mostly Grenache, 80% I believe..this wine is a must for Grenache lovers..fairly light in colour, beautiful silky spicy flavours, smooth tannins..I 've tried several wines from this producer (Fonsalette and Pignan) and the quality level is outstanding. This wine also comes from the excellent 2005 vintage, pretty good across the board in France and really good in the Rhone Valley...I'm saving up and on the lookout for Chateau Rayas..its usually close enough to 100euro a bottle and hard enough to find..

Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage 2003 RRP 19.95

A superb wine from the Northern Rhone and a really good example of what good Northern Rhone Syrah should be..elegant, spicy, savoury (its amazing how you can pick up a smoky bacon or barbecue note on the nose mixed in there so nicely with lashings of fruit and spice) A real beauty. I think the fact that it was 5 years old was a help..I tried the 2005 about a year ago and found it decent but a bit closed..I was expecting fireworks from the 2005..I got them this time with the 2003!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Le Chemin des Reves Exubérant 2006

Tried this wine again the other night..tasty stuff indeed..

Its from a winery in the Languedoc called Le Chemin des Reves and a relatively new winemaker called Benoit Viot, who's getting some great reviews for his eclectic and downright funky range of wines. (thats Benoit on his bike!)

I met Benoit on my trip to France last spring, fell for his wines and agreed to ship a selection late last summer.There are 6 different reds in his range to try!Thats nearly one for every day of the week... even the Wine Gods have to rest up one day a week!

Exuberant 2006 (Gres de Montpellier) RRP 15.95
Its a blend of Grenache(mainly), Syrah and Carignan..weighs in at 13.5%..
Lighter and more restrained in style than his Abracadabra Pic St. Loup (one of my favourite wines of 2008!), this one has lovely fresh aromas of wild red berries with just a hint of chocolate and spice..Went down very nicely with Roast Chicken and Gratin Potatoes! Oh yeah and the Tarte Tatin for dessert wasn't half-bad either..

Why I love wine (Part 2)

From the film SIDEWAYS

I don't know. Why are you into wine?

… I do like to think about the
life of wine, how it's a living thing.
I like to think about what was going
on the year the grapes were growing,
how the sun was shining that summer
or if it rained... what the weather
was like. I think about all those
people who tended and picked the
grapes, and if it's an old wine, how
many of them must be dead by now. I
love how wine continues to evolve,
how every time I open a bottle it's
going to taste different than if I
had opened it on any other day.
Because a bottle of wine is actually
alive -- it's constantly evolving
and gaining complexity. That is,
until it peaks -- like your '61 --
and begins its steady, inevitable
decline…And it tastes so f##king good!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New year.. new vintages

Onwards and winewards into 2009..

We were excited to receive the new vintages from our Barossa wineries Kalleske, Pirathon and Red Nectar and delighted that no bottles were broken on delivery!..the pallets got stuck across the road from our shop in the new tarmacadam the builders left there before Christmas..

Cue panic in general..

Anyway everyone got stuck in..customers, neighbours (Thanks Damian!)and helped stop the traffic and handball the wines into the shop safely (before the rain came down!)

My vision of a 4 car collision in Sandyford village with smashed glass everywhere and an all pervading bouquet of fabulous Barossa Grenache and Shiraz did not (thankfully!) come to pass..

Tried the brand new Kalleske Moppa Shiraz 2007 (29.95RRP) last night.
This is Troy's new baby and he was raving about the wine during his visit in October.
I was well looking forward to trying it..we only have 36 bottles to sell..

it didn't disappoint..its an absolute beauty..

The wine is made from Shiraz fruit sourced from Kalleske's Moppa vineyard and Troy added a dash of Viognier and Petit Verdot to the mix..gorgeously pure fruit character (all the wines are certified organic),quite typically Shiraz in style, its a bit fresher and lighter than some of Troys other monster reds, which can have a warmer spicier feel to them.It has that signature Kalleske smoothness and super long lingering flavour which I absolutely love.It weighs in at 14.5% all the same so its a fairly big wine by any standards.The bottle disappeared rather quickly..Bravo Troy!

Wines over Christmas/New Year

One of my standout wines this Christmas was most definitely the Zenato Amarone 2003 which we enjoyed with chocolate dessert at the end of Christmas Day dinner..a stunner of a wine, really luscious with layer upon layer of flavour. It really worked so well with the chocolate too..would remind you just how good a wine and food combination can be..note to self.. think more about food and wine pairings in 2009

I also picked up a bottle of Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2004 (25euro) in County Clare which I couldn't resist trying..its one of those much-hyped Rioja wines you read stellar reviews for.. and I was curious to see what the hype was about..anyway it took a while for the wine to open up..definitely one to open in advance of drinking..very savoury in style, I guess classic old-style Rioja with soft red fruit and plenty of spicy notes.. no modern-style fruit bomb here..would work wonders with lamb I'd say..those dry savoury spicy notes had me dreaming of a barbecue in Sunny Spain..a lovely wine made in a fairly traditional style..not sure if its really worth 25bucks though..I can think of a few other wines around 15 or 16 euro which would give it a good run for its money..still I have to say I enjoyed the wine..very true to its origins..

That reminds me of my recent trip to Barcelona where on the first night of arrival I nearly fell off my seat when handed the bill for several sensational rounds of tapas and wine..the wine bill was 4.50euro for 3 glasses of Rioja! 1.50 a glass..I think it was cheaper than a bottle of Coke..note to self..retire to a wine producing country!!