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A weekend’s drinking December 2016

A weekend’s drinking December 2016


Aldi Exquisite Limoux Chardonnay 2015

Limoux seems finally to have taken off as an appellation, with several of the multiples now offering inexpensive versions. You can also find some excellent smaller domaines, such as Begude in O’Briens. This wine, made by the ubiquitous Jean-Claude Mas, has pleasant rounded apple and pear fruits, good acidity and a very subtle toastiness. For €9.99, excellent value.


Sartarelli Tralivio 2014, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

Sophisticated textured apricot and apple fruits with a touch of honey, held together nicely by a cleansing citrus acidity. Charming, stylish wine. The less expensive Verdicchio is also worth trying. £12.99/€18.75 from


Rara Avis, Raúl Pérez, VdT de la Tierra de Castilla y Léon

Raúl Pérez has been one of the driving forces behind the renaissance of indigenous grape varieties in Bierzo and Galicia. Most of his wines are individual and brilliant. This wine is made from Albarín, a very rare local grape variety from Léon in northwestern Spain. It is not to be confused with Albariño. Developed wine (no vintage that I can see) with textured grilled hazelnuts and soft stone fruits. I don’t think it is commercially available in Ireland – mine was a gift/sample from wine importers Vinostito.


Silice 2014, Ch. Les Croisille, Cahors

Time was when all Cahors was firm and tannic. How things have changed; you can now come across plenty of juicy ripe wines that are ready to drink in their youth. Fabien Jouves seems to be one of the prime exponents. You can find his wines in Terroirs, Donnybrook and elsewhere. Marks & Spencer had a wine from Ch. Les Croisille for a year or two. This is a different cuvée, available from O’Briens at €15.95. Light juicy and fresh with crunchy dark fruits. Delicious!


Bourgogne 2014 ‘Le Chapitre’ Marchard de Gramont

Light, floral Pinot Noir with elegant dark cherry fruits and a slight earthiness on the finish. Good value at €19.65 from Karwig Wines in Cork.


Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits 2012, Domaine Anne Gros

I bought this in 64wine, for around €35 I think. Anne Gros is one of the top growers in the Côtes de Nuits, with holdings in some of the top sites, including Richebourg, Echezeaux and Clos Vougeot. This wine is from a single vineyard, Concoeur, situated just above the village of Vosne-Romanée. I was a little disappointed at first, but this opened up nicely after half an hour. Pure fresh dark fruits, good acidity and clean length. Nice wine.


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A weekends drinking – not a great pic


Bethany G6 Semillon 2010, Barossa Valley, Australia
I like their wines and this has always been a favourite – I suspect they have lightened up a bit on the oak, but mature Semillon probably doesn’t need it. Lovely maturing refreshing wine – with light waxy, toast and clean lime fruits.
From O’Briens – for €18.45

Kesseler Pinot Noir 2012, Rheingau
Delicious light but intense slippery dark cherry fruits, elegant and great with roast duck.

From Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown €40

Huber Grüner Veltliner Alte Setzen 2014, Transiental

A brilliant, brilliant wine full of Grüner character, an impeccably balance of rich fruit and mineral acidity.
€30 from 64 Wine, Glasthule

Albamar Albariño 2015 Rías Baixas
Lovely elegant Albariño from a cool climate. A new arrival to Ireland and worth seeking out.
€21 from 64 Wine, Glasthule, Clontarf Wines.

Ulivo Rabigato 2015, Douro
Not sure as to price – I was handed a half-bottle by an importer; I thought it a well made clean white iwne with a bit of chracter – I would pay up to €16 – will let you know.

Rosso Piceno Boccadigabbia 2014
A sample from importers La Rousse – a big powerful Rosso Piceno – 14.5% and tasted it. But plenty of stiffing and concentration to go with it. Atypical but pretty good.

Beaujolais Villages 2014, Potel-Aviron
Tried it earlier in the week when it seemed fine, but it was exceptional for a wine at this price when I sipped a glass on Friday night. €13.99 from Wines on the Green, Dawson street and Baggot Street Wines.

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Six Wines, Five Countries. A weekend’s Drinking


Ch Martinolles 2015 Limoux Chardonnay
A nice rich textured Chardonnay that will feature in my Irish Times online piece this Wednesday. €15 a bottle in Molloys.

Keller Riesling Trocken 2013, Rheinhessen
Brilliant pure citrus and minerals in a thrilling wine. €22ish from Cabot & Co and Grapevine Dalkey.

Fusco 2015 Ribera Sacra 2015, Mencia
V firm mineral and tightly bound piquant dark cherry fruits – I reckon this needs decanting or a year or two in bottle. All there though.

Puszta Libre 2015, Austria
Cool bottle and design from Austrian producer Claus Preisinger
The internet tells me, through my very unreliable German, that this is Austria’s answer to Beaujolais. Made from Zweigelt and Sankt Laurent, it should be drunk like a white wine, cold, without thinking. I did so, and it was a delicious mouthful of crunchy ripe plum fruits. Not sure as to price, but this is right up my street. Perfect with the Sunday evening roast chicken.

Port Phillip Balnarring Pinot Noir 2012, Mornington Peninsula

€29.95 from Whelehan’s., Loughlinstown.
A vivid seductive wine that improved as the evening went on. Light in style, with piquant dark cherry fruits and a nice savoury bite.

Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2011, Alain Graillot

I paid around €30 for this in Mitchell & Son. I was a bit disappointed; this is usually a lovely wine. It had light citrus and lean apple fruits, but I was hoping for a little more. Now I have an excuse to buy another bottle.

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Three Centuries of Wine

I was lucky enough to get an invite to a tasting spanning three centuries, part of International Port Day. A great day overall, with lots of brilliant Ports (aged white Port is my new thing) and some lovely people. A fascinating talk from Heini Zachariassen, CEO of Vivino – 31k new members daily, 100k new wine reviews every day – who knew?

This was a great tasting, memorable wines, no real duds, starting with Dow’s Vintage 2011, through Noval Nacional 1996 finishing with a very old, but very alive Port from the 1860’s produced by Bulas, who also had their (very good) current wines there on tasting. My overall favourite was the Kopke Colheita Branco (or white Port) from 1935. Amazingly fresh lively wine. To be continued, but a few pics below.





And, lest we forget, the most beautiful vineyards in the world – the Douro Valley. This shows Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas.

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A Wild Weekend with Marks & Spencer

A Wild Weekend with Marks & Spencer


Marks & Spencer Go Wild

Well, not quite wild, but three wines from three very different countries, with one thing in common; they are all made by ‘natural’ methods, The first is macerated on the skins, the second and third fermented in clay amphorae with skin maceration. Whatever your opinion of natural wines, I think Marks & Spencer deserves real credit for trying them out. I can think of only a few independent retailers that stock such an esoteric range of wines, from the Mediterranean, Eastern and Central Europe in particular but from elsewhere as well. As for the three wines, they were all very enjoyable and worth trying out – the Fresquito in particular.

Fides 2014, Bosman Family Vineyards, Wellington, South Africa
14% and €22 from marks & Spencer

Skin macerated, naturally fermented orange white wine boasts the label. This has a slightly bready nose, and clean fresh pear fruits with a subtle breadiness and distinct orange and lemon peel. Dry finish. Interesting well-made wine that went down well with out roast chicken.

Fresquito Vino Nuevo de Tinaja 2014, Montill-Moriles, Spain

14% and €10.40 from marks & Spencer

If you are a fan of sherry, this is a must buy. Made from the Pedro Ximenez grape in a region next door to Jerez, this is a deliciously fresh light almondy, slightly earthy bone-dry wine – sort of a funky fino. I adored it. At €10.40 is offers fantastic value for money too. As the back label suggests, it goes perfectly with one of Spain’s gastronomic treasures – Iberico Ham.

Tbilvino Qvevris JSC Tibilvino 2014, Kakheti Region, Georgia

12% and €14 from Marks & Spencer

Sort of qvevri light, a qvevri being the traditional clay amphora of Georgia. Not as funky as some I have tried, but enjoyable with light yellow fruits, good refreshing acidity and a light touch of nuts. Made from the local Rkatsiteli grape. At €14 very good value.

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Xovial Albarino, Rías Baixas

Fresh zesty dry wine with attractive plump pear fruits. It wouldn’t compete with the best wines of Rías Baixas (such as the Pazo de Señorans, €22.95 from O’Briens) but it is very nicely priced, and went down well with fishcakes and dill mayonnaise.


Leyda Garuma Sauvignon 2013, Leyda Valley

Leyda make some excellent exuberant fruit-driven wines in the Leyda Valley. Crisp refreshing gooseberries and grapefruit with loads of lime zest. One for the Savvie lovers to enjoy.

Bethany Semillon 2010, Barossa Valley

The Bethany Semillon is now starting to take on some delicious mature toasty, nutty flavours that combine beautifully with the lime zest and tropical fruits. Very well priced. Perfect with all manner of seafood, but salmon in a buttery sauce sounds good.

Jaspi Blanc 2012, Terra Alta

I haven’t tried this for a year or so, but it was great back then, and I suspect it is as good, and a steal at this price. A well-made crisp refreshing dry white wine with white peach fruits for €9? You cannot go wrong.

Borie de Maurel 2014, Pays d’Oc Cuvée Luna

Concentrated ripe wild fruits, an attractive earthiness, wrapped around a mineral core. Very Languedoc and very seductive. A steal at €10.


Ch Belles Eaux Les Coteaux 2012, Languedoc


A big, powerful, full-bodied red wine with rippling supple meaty dark fruits, dried herbs and black olives. Classic Languedoc at a very keen price. Decant just before sitting down to a nice juicy rare steak.

Norton DOC Malbec 2013, Uco Valley
Medium to full-bodied and smooth with ripe dark fruits, milk chocolate and spice. The perfect wine for the last barbeque of the season.

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Arpège de Marsau 2010, Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs

Rich smooth blackcurrant fruits, with a touch of spice and a nicely rounded finish. Relatively full-bodied for a Bordeaux, this is a nice wine and very good value at less than €15. Drink with roast red meats. A leg or shoulder of lamb would be a lovely weekend treat.

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Three Brilliant Wines from Rioja on their way.

Three Brilliant Wines from Rioja on their way.



Remelluri, the home of Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodriguez, will shortly make a welcome return to these shores. This has always been one of my favourite wines in Rioja, and now seems to be destined for even greater things. When I met Rodriguez back in 2014, he was determined to set things right in his home territory. ‘I am’ he said ‘a little bit old, so I think we have enough projects now. But Rioja is very important to me. My family bought our estate there back in the 1960s and I grew up there. Rioja is my main project today, the one in which I am investing most money and effort. It is like the other places I worked in; I have that excitement all over again. Rioja is one of the most amazing places in the world. The big old well-known wineries are responsible for the destruction of the vineyards of Rioja. We and other small producers are recuperating vineyards, finding old vines, going back to what existed before. Rioja needs to show what is inside.’

Rodriguez was born into a Basque family. His father had bought and restored an old monastery in Rioja and named it Remelurri, where he produced wine. Rodriguez studied winemaking with some of the top producers in France and returned to Rioja full of ideas. His father was quite happy with the way he was making wine, so Rodriguez departed. He had met Basque enologist Pablo Eguzkiza while studying at Bordeaux University. Together they founded Compañia de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez in 1984, and set about restoring the historic grapes and traditional practices of Spain. In each region they hired an old grower who remembered the way things used to be done and a young enologist who knew how to make wine. The two men have probably done more than anyone else to restore Spain to its rightful position as one of the great wine-producing countries of the world.

As for Remelluri, the wines were always good, but have even better since Rodriguez returned. He now produces two wines under the Lindes de Remelluri name. These are single vineyard wines, from estates that Remelluri bought every year. It is part of the plan to focus on the varying soils and terroirs of Rioja. One is from the village of Labastida, the other from San Vicente de la Sonsierra. The first is in Rioja Alava, the second in Rioja Alta. Then there is the Remelluri estate wine from their own vineyards.

The wines are now being imported by Vinostito, and should arrive in mid-September. I suspect they will be stocked by leading independents around Ireland. The two Lindes wines will sell for around €22, the estate for €31. Don’t miss them; these are very exciting wines.


Lindes de Remelluri 2012 Viñedos de San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Rioja


Cool elegant black fruits and chalky minerals on the nose; Impeccable linear dark fruits and minerals; precise, young, taut, structured and dry. An excellent wine that needs a few years or decanting before drinking with red meats.

Lindes de Remelluri 2012 Viñedos de Labastida, Rioja

Slightly riper on the nose than the Sonsierra but the same delicious blackcurrants – a wonderful nose; cool clean linear blackcurrants, a little more giving than the Sonsierra, but still a young taut wine. This is a brilliant wine – it doesn’t have the sweet extracted oakiness of a modern Rioja, nor the developed vegetal notes of the traditional style, but this is all the better for it.

Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2010

Wow! Wonderful wine. Broader, showing some soft maturity on the nose and palate; ripe dark fruits with real depth and complexity, yet at the sme time a lovely purity of fruit. This is exceptional Rioja. I have coravined my bottle and cannot wait to try it with roast lamb over the weekend!

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A Modest Haul – the weekends consumption


Mauzac Nature R&B Plageoles 2013, Gaillac
I bought some of this wine a few years back while on holiday in France, and really enjoyed it in the sunshine over there. This sample arrived from Terroirs a few months back – possibly I should have tried it sooner. Crisp, fresh, dry and quite cidery. I enjoyed it, my drinking partner less so.

Terras do Cigarrón 2013, Godello, Monterrei
Confirms my theory that Godello, even inexpensive Godello, ages very well. Very pleasant plump easy drinking light white wine. €12.99 from Whelehans, La Touche, Jus de Vine.

Poggio del Sasso Sangiovese 2013, Toscana
Light cherry fruits, no real tannins, went very well with our Danish meatballs. Good light easy drinking.

Lieu-Dit, Saint Joseph 2006, Guigal
Wasn’t sure what to expect of a 10 year old Marsanne. This was light in fruit with toasted nuts and wood smoke. Nice enough wine, and interesting to drink, but would have hoped for a little more, as current vintages seem to cost around €50-60.

Villa de Corullón, D. de J. Palacios 2012

Coravined back in early March; excellent wine, a lovely mix of savoury dark cherry fruits with a strong mineral streak running throughout. €63 retail.

in vino érotico, Coteaux du Libron 2014

This won the Noffla best white under €15 last year, and I can see why; a good clean fresh wine, the Chardonnay and Viognier giving it a subtle texture on the palate, the Sauvignon bringing a nice freshness. Nice wine.

Le Petit Chat Malin Blanc 2014 IGP Pays d’Oc
Medium-bodied wine with light yellow stone fruits and custard – peaches in custard? With a crisp acidity. Good everyday wine. €12 from Molloys, Spar, SuperValu, Next Door, Gala, Londis.

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I have already posted a short piece on the forthcoming Lidl French Wine Sale which starts on 12th September. Not to be outdone, Aldi will launch their own Wine Festival on 21st August, featuring wines from fifteen different countries. In the bright surroundings of the Kevin Kavanagh art gallery on Chancery Lane, we tasted our way through 26 wines. It included many decent well-made wines, and a few real stars. Below is a quick run-through of my favourites.



Tokaji Furmint 2015, Hungary €7.99
Very crisp and dry with some lean white peach fruits.


Dao Branco Ecosta da Vinha 2014, Portugal €7.99
Light melon and greengage fruits with good refreshing acidity. Made from Encruzado & Bical. Remarkable at the price.

Ried Seiber Gruner Veltliner Reserve 2015 Wachau, Austria €8.99
The star of the show amongst the whites for me. Unusual to find anything from Austria for under €15, let alone €10. From the Domaene Wachau, a high-quality co-op (despite the name)in Austria’s premier wine region, this is a very good refreshing crisp dry white wine, with decent ripe pears and peaches.

Edition Fritz Keller Baden Riesling 2015 €8.99
Off to medium-dry with clean apple fruits, but doesn’t really have much Riesling character. Good well-made white wine at a very cheap price.

Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Coastal region, South Africa €9.99
Herbaceous green peppers and lime zest, with crisp gooseberry fruits; if you like Marlborough Sauvignon and Sancerre, chances are you will enjoy this.



Edition Fritz Keller Baden Pinot Noir 2014, Germany €9.99
Fragrant, and elegant; the acidity might stick out a little, but this is a lovely light wine with red cherry fruits. Nice wine at a mouth-watering price.


De Bertoli GS Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley 2015, Australia €10.99
Richer than the German Pinot above with attractive dark cherry fruits. Again, decent wine at an incredible price for a Yarra Pinot.


Nikau Point Estate Syrah Reserve 2014, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand €9.99
Possibly a little over-extracted but this is still a very nice wine, at an incredible price. Clean herby dark savoury fruits, with a nice light tannic structure. V. good.

Nonius Estate Feteasca Neagra/Shiraz 2014, Romania €8.99
Not bad; nice plump fruit, good concentration, but finishes on a slightly bitter note. Worth trying though.


Gloria Douro Reserva 2014, Portugal €8.99
Elegant, dry light claret-like wine with dark brambly fruits. 13% alcohol. Worth trying with food.

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Canada, Croatia, Volcanoes and Boy Scouts – plus Arbois – a weekends drinking


Vina Laguna Pinot Sivi 2014, Istria, Croatia
A very pleasant Pinot Grigio with light tropical fruits. €14.95 from Mitchell & Son plus other independents.

Domaine de la Pinte Chardonnay, Arbois, Jura 2014

A beautifully crafted wine with fine green apple fruits, lemon zest, subtle hazelnuts and honey, very good acidity and dry length. According to Wink Lorch in her book Jura, Pinte have the largest holding of Savignin in the world – strange that M&S bought the Chardonnay? Biodynamic. €23.50 from Marks & Spencer.

Alonso del Yerro 2012 Ribera del Duero
A full-bodied, smooth wine, rich in velvety dark fruits, with good length and plenty of power. The kind of wine that would appeal to the hedonists/Parkerites amongst us. Sent to me by the producer. They were imported by Vinostito at one stage, but are currently seeking distribution in Ireland. Give me a shout if you are interested.

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

I met Brian Meyer, my former scout leader at a function recently; he told me how his cousins had emigrated to Canada decades ago, and ended up owning a vineyard. He visited them at a family reunion and they had sent him a case of Chardonnay, which he said was ‘very nice’. Two weeks later I was in Marks & Spencer and what did I see but the Meyer Family Pinot Noir. I drank it with roast duck (also from M&S) over the weekend. This is a seriously good Pinot, light and juicy but concentrated, with dark cherries and plums. Pricewise, it stacks up well against the competition from Burgundy, Germany and the New World too. €28 from Marks & Spencer

Benanti Etna Rosso 2014
Part of a tasting for a piece on Etna wines for the Irish Times. Both red and white were nice elegant wines; the red had more fruit and intensity than the white. Waiting for the pricing. Imported by Honest2Goodness.

Castel Firmian Marzemino 2014, Mezzacorona, Trentino
A very tasty light wine with leafy crunchy redcurrant fruits, and good acidity. Drank this with pork chops and mushrooms – worked very well. Nice wine. €15 from Mitchell & Son.

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