Blog

Archive for Top Drop

Two for the weekend

This week, two wines I enjoyed during a three day visit to East Cork. Along with Colm McCan of Le Caveau, I gave a talk on religion and wine (a fascinating subject) in Cloyne Cathedral. If you ever visit East Cork, take a few minutes to visit this hidden gem, a lovely church with a fascinating history. We tasted the Viré-Clessé below, as many vineyards in the region were first planted by the monks in Cluny.

The following morning, I gave a talk and tasting on Spanish wine to the students at Ballymaloe Cookery School. I thought the Camino Real stood out against some pretty serious competition.

 

Viré-Clessé 2016, Les Pierres Blanches, Domaine André Bonhomme

Gorgeous generous textured apple and pear fruits with a lovely crisp mineral streak, finishing dry. Lovely pure unoaked Chardonnay.

This would go nicely with chicken dishes – either roast or in a creamy tarragon sauce.

I have been a fan of the Bonhomme wines for many years; they drink well young and age very well too. In the sea of indifferent wines found in the Mâconnais, they stand out as special – and very well priced too.

€22.95 from Le Caveau, Kilkenny, lecaveau.ie; Listons, Dublin 2, listonsfoodstore.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk, dundalkwines.com.

 

 

 

Camino Real 2017 Ribera Sacra, Guímaro

Lightly aromatic with seductive perfectly ripe dark cherry fruits, a spicy savoury edge and a freshness, an elegance that draws you back for another sip. Delicious wine.

A seared breast of duck, or maybe belly of pork.

Pedro Rodríguez is one of the rising stars of Ribera Sacra, a region that has been receiving huge interest in recent years, for the amazing scenery as well as the unique wines. Made primarily from ancient Mencía vines clinging to the slate soils on vertiginous slopes sweeping down to the river, the wines can be spectacularly good.

 

€26 from Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie.

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

Wines of the Week – Deux Les Deux Cols

Wines of the Week – Deux Les Deux Cols

Two wines from the same estate today. Les Deux Cols was founded by Anglo-Irishman Simon Tyrrell back in 2012. A specialist Rhône importer based in Ireland, he studied winemaking in Plumpton College in the U.K. He was later joined by former sommelier and wine importer Charles Derain, and later still by wine retailer Gerard Maguire. They now have four hectares of vines in one of the coolest parts of the Southern Rhône, on the boundary of the Gard and the Ardèche. Most of the vineyards are on a line of hills above the village of Saint Gervais at an altitude of 220 metres. They have a complex soil structure with a limestone base, and a topsoil that may contain loess, granite, sand, clay or loam, all within in a short distance.

I have always found the wines good, but in 2017, I think they have hit new heights. They may seem expensive for Côtes du Rhône, but I believe they offer great value for money.

 

Zéphyr 2017, Côtes du Rhône (organic)

Made primarily from the Roussanne grape, this is fermented and aged six months in in barrique. It is a medium-bodied wine with floral aromas and a very attractive textured palate with succulent peaches and apricots, interwoven with honey and toasted nuts. A lively acidity keeps it fresh and there is a lovely savoury bite on the finish. A nice wine with real character.

Try it with richer fish dishes, or chicken dishes. Chicken in a creamy sauce sounds good.

€24.95 from from La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork, cinnamoncottage.ie; No. 21, Cork;

J.J. Fields, Skibbereen, fieldsofskibbereen.com; Eleven Deli, Greystones; Eleven Deli, Greystones, elevendeli.ie: Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3 clontarfwines.ie; Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; Deveney’s, Dundrum; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie.

 

Alizé 2017, Côtes du Rhône

A very stylish Côtes du Rhône, elegant and long, with harmonious smooth dark forest fruits and hints of liquorice. At 13.5% alcohol, it is vibrant and fresh, and very different to many of the bigger, more heady wines found under the same appellation.

This would go nicely with white meats, and firm cheeses.

€18.95 from La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork, cinnamoncottage.ie; No. 21, Cork;

J.J. Fields, Skibbereen, fieldsofskibbereen.com; Eleven Deli, Greystones; Eleven Deli, Greystones, elevendeli.ie: Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3 clontarfwines.ie; Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; Deveney’s, Dundrum; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie.

 

 

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

Two middle-aged wines.

I recently retrieved a few cases of wine from a kind (and trusted) friend who allows me to store my wine in the basement of his house. I had bought all of them 5-10 years ago, all between €20-50 a bottle. As a result we have been having some lovely surprises over the last few weeks, including these two last weekend.

Ekam 2008, Castell d’Encus, Costers del Serge, Spain

13%

Glorious developed nose of herbs and honey; there is plenty of precise crisp lime zest and minerals, and the palate fills out with rich complex mature stone fruits, honey and grilled nuts, finishing dry. Delectable wine – and I have two more bottles to savour!

Riesling is rarely found in Spain, but here it forms the majority in a quite unique bend with Albariño! It works amazingly well. From vineyards at 1,000 metres altitude. I bought three bottles of this some 7-8 years ago, and squirreled it away. I wish I had bought more. The Celtic Whiskey Shop/Wines on the Green are listing the 2016 vintage for €32.

 

Sankt Paul 2010 Spätburgunder, Erste Lage, Friederich Becker, Pfalz

13.5%

Relatively full-bodied and powerful with lush ripe red cherry fruits, hints of spice and some toasty oak. Rounded, voluptuous and silky, with almost a sweetness to the fruit. Opened out very nicely over an hour or so.

Becker is reckoned to be one of the finest producers of Spätburgunder (aka Pinot Noir) in Germany. The wines are generally made in a rich powerful style. Most of his vines actually lie over the border in France, although not the single-vineyard Sankt Paul. I bought a couple of bottles of this wine from Cabot & Co. following a visit to the estate back 6-7 years ago. It has aged very well. Still available from Cabot & Co for €64 exc VAT.

 

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

A Duo from Sicily

A Duo from Sicily

“The amount of bullshit in the wine world is almost as much as that in the world of fashion”. Marco de Grazia, founder of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, doesn’t pull his punches. “Winemaking is a cultural process whereby you want to express the character of that vineyard; therefore you have to step back. Most winemakers have very big egos – we are the opposite, we want you to taste the vineyard.”

Thirty years ago, de Grazia, an American wine importer, was one of the very first to set up an estate on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, an ancient vineyard that had largely been forgotten. Since then, the region has been recognized as one of the finest in Sicily, with producers from all over Italy flocking to buy up vineyards.

Today the Terre Nere estate has 55 hectares on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, 27 of which are in production. That includes 24 separate parcels, four released as single vineyard wines. Except for seven hectares of recently planted vineyards all of the vines are 50-100 years old, growing at altitudes of 600-1,000 metres. All of the Terre Nere wines are made from local, indigenous grape varieties. “A happy vineyard produces happy grapes”, says de Grazia; all of the wines are organic and vegan.

De Grazia recently visited Dublin where he, and importers Wine Mason, put on a tasting of the Terre Nere wines. The wines are all good, and some spectacular; over the last few years, this has become one of my favourite Italian producers.

 

Etna Bianco 2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere

 

Floral, fresh and light, with soft pears and subtle stone fruits, and a lively mineral acidity. There is a fantastic succulence and purity to the fruit. Delicious wine with real character and good length.

 

This would go perfectly with simply-cooked white fish. Grilled hake or sole.

The red wines of Mount Etna tend to get all of the attention, but the white wines can be spectacularly good and are well worth seeking out. The Bianco is made from a blend of 65% Carricante, with varying smaller proportions of Catarratto, Inzolia, Grecanico, and Minella. Organic and vegan.

 

€25.95 from Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Mitchell & Son, chq, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; The Wicklow Wine Co., Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Devenys, Dublin 14;

 

Etna Rosso Guardioloa 2016, Tenuta delle Terre Nere

 

Elegant, high-toned cool savoury red fruits – redcurrants and cherries, with a taut structure, and fine drying tannins and minerals on the finish. Fantastic concentration and depth. Magnificent wine.

 

Keep for a year or two, or if you must open it now, decant and drink alongside roast or grilled pork with tomato-based sauce of some kind.

 

This is made from primarily Nerello Mascalase with some Nerello Cappuccio, from a single vineyard, one of the highest plots at around 1,000 metres. Di Grazia describes it as “an austere taut coiled spring”, and “a soprano of a wine”. I bought some of the 2014 to lay down for a year or so.

 

€45 from The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com.

 

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER

FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER

 

It is often said that wine is all about time and place; it tastes better (or worse) depending on the food, the company and where you find yourself eating. I had tried the two wines below before in professional tastings. Both were very good but had been outshone by rival wines. Both tasted immeasurably better one Friday night, after a long, hard week, over dinner at home with my wife.

Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2017, Domaine Séguinot-Bordet

13%

€30.95

Floral and fresh, very forward with excellent racy acidity to keep balance; verdant lip-smacking green apple fruits, and a cleansing dry finish. Still youthful but irresistible right now.

We had ours with seared scallops with lemon zest and butter.

Fourchaumes is one of the best-known of the premiers crus of Chablis, partly due to its size. It also has a very favourable position just north of the Grands Crus, south facing with clay-limestone Kimmeridgean soils. It is held to be one of the finest of the premiers crus along with Mont de Milieu and Montée de Tonnerre, all of which are located on the north banks of the river Serein.

Available from Wines Direct, Mullingar, and Arnott’s, Dublin 1, winesdirect.ie

 

 

Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré 2015, St. Julien

13.5%

€45

Classic modern Saint Julien, forward and fragrant, with rich opulent blackcurrant fruits, cedar and subtle new oak, fine tannins and impressive rounded length.

A roast leg of lamb would be perfect.

This is not the second wine of Ch. Léoville-Poyferré (that is Ch. Moulin Riche) but made from younger vines on the estate. Tasted and then Coravined a few weeks earlier. On the first occasion it was fine, but another less expensive wine showed better.

Available from Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie

 

Posted in: Blog, Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

2016 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Domaine Christophe

2016 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Domaine Christophe

2016 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Domaine Christophe

13%

€49

A lovely complex floral nose; beautifully balanced ripe apple fruits with lime zest; elegant and restrained with a fine seam of mineral acidity. A classic Chablis of the highest order.

Oysters or even better gougères, those gorgeous cheesy choux pastry puffs would be great, but ideally I would keep this for a main course; poached salmon with home-made mayonnaise, or grilled sole with masses of butter and herbs.

This is not cheap, but it was one of my favourite wines from a recent tasting of Chablis Premiers Crus and is certainly worth it. I would happily lay it down for a few years, but it is a pleasure to drink now. This is a small estate, started as recently as 1999.

Available from SIYPS.com; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie.

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

Chianti Classico 2015, Fontodi

Chianti Classico 2015, Fontodi

Picture 358

Chianti Classico 2015, Fontodi

14%

€31.99

This is relatively high in alcohol, but you wouldn’t notice it; lovely, fragrant, fresh wine with rich, ripe dark cherry fruits, a good backbone of fine tannins, and a nice bite on the finish.

Drink with grilled or roast red meats; bistecca alla fiorentina would be perfect.

I came across the smiling face of Giovanni Manetti, proprietor of Fontodi, on Netflix recently. He was talking about local butcher Dario Cecchini, who featured on Chef’s Table. Dario is a famous larger than life character based in Panzano, close to Fontodi, with a passion for meat and traditional butchery; he runs a butcher’s shop and several restaurants in Panzano. Where Cecchini is loud, talkative and expressive, Manetti is relaxed and charming. His vineyards are organic (as are virtually all in Panzano), located on the Conca d’Oro (or golden shell) an amphitheatre of vines facing to the south.

The Manetti family (who make terracotta tiles and now amphorae for making wine too!) bought the estate in 1968 and have slowly restored it. Giovanni has been in charge since 1980. It is now recognised as one of the finest in Chianti Classico. His special crus, Vigna del Sorbo and Flaccianello are both highly sought-after, but I have followed the above wine for many years; it mellows beautifully with age, but can always be approached when young. It is also very reasonably priced.

Available from: Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3 clontarfwines.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; The Hole in the Wall, Dublin 7; McHughs, Dublin 5, mchughs.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; he Malt House, Trim; Egan’s, Portlaoise; Sweeneys Wines, Glasnevin, sweeneyswines.ie; Terroirs, Dublin 4, Terroirs.ie; Wineonline.ie.

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

I Love Mosel Riesling

I Love Mosel Riesling

I Love Mosel Riesling 2017

Mosel Riesling Kabinett, Andreas Bender

€18.95 from Wines Direct, Mullingar & Arnott’s Dublin, or online from winesdirect.ie.

 

Delicious fresh light Riesling;  peaches and tropical fruits with a touch of honey, this is a lively, zingy crisp wine was the perfect aperitif last night. And at 8% you can have a decent glass (or two) without keeling over before dinner.

Posted in: Blog, Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

Soave La Rocca 2015, Pieropan

Soave La Rocca 2015, Pieropan

La Rocca high res_NVQuite deep in colour with a restrained lightly nutty nose. The palate opens out with time to reveal a delightful mix of almonds, light peach fruits and honey. A wonderful subtle wine full of nuance. Don’t serve it too cold; the flaovurs are quite delicate. Not cheap, but worth it.

Spaghetti or linguini with either prawns or crab sounds good.

Pieropan is one of the greatest white wine producers in Italy. Nino Pieropan, who sadly passed away in April, can take much of the credit for rescuing the reputation of the Soave region, ruined by a flood of cheap nasty wines over several decades. Sons Dario and Andrea now run the estate, which is fully organic. The La Rocca vineyard is primarily limestone, unusual in a region dominated by basalt. The wine is aged in a mix of large old oak casks.

€36.99 from Redmond, Ranelagh; 64 Wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; wineonline.ie

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

Le Cadet 2016, Montirius, IGP Vaucluse

Le Cadet 2016, Montirius, IGP Vaucluse

le cadet2A vivid youthful colour. Full of bold vibrant ripe dark fruits, this is a seductive medium to full-bodied red that retains a mouth-watering freshness. Not a keeper but excellent now.

We drank it with chicken thighs baked with herby tomatoes and peppers.

Montirius produce some of the finest wines of Vacqueyras and Gigondas in the southern Rhône. Le Cadet is the baby brother, a lighter more supple fruity wine that still packs a punch, and offers great value for money. 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah.

€17 exclusively from 64 Wine, Glasthule 64wine.ie

 

Posted in: Top Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 15 12345...»