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.