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Silice 2017, Ribeira Sacra

Silice 2017, Ribeira Sacra

Seductive, perfectly ripe soft sweet/sour dark cherry fruits; light, svelte and soothing. This is a lovely bottle of wine. I defy anyone to dislike it.

 

Try this with pork dishes – pork chops with mushrooms?

 

I have featured many wines from Ribeira Sacra over the last few years; here the Mencía grape, sometimes blended with other local varieties, produces wines with a thrilling purity of fruit and delicate balance. In fact there are probably less than half a dozen really good producers, but we can expect this to expand in the next few years. This one was new to me, but I will investigate further.

 

 

€23.95 from Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Deveney’s, Dundrum; Eleven Deli, Greystones; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie.

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Sandhi Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay 2016, Sta. Rita Hills, California

Sandhi Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay 2016, Sta. Rita Hills, California

White flower aromas, subtle fresh lemon and peach fruits, interwoven with light oak; this is a brilliant subtle Chardonnay with great complexity and character. I loved it.

Treat yourself and drink it alongside grilled black sole with maître d’ butter.

This formed part of a brilliant trade tasting put on by importers Wine Lab and Findlaters; more to follow. Following trips to San Francisco, I was always frustrated that the excellent wines I tasted there were not available back home in Ireland. It was partly down to cost, but more a lack of volume; California is a large state and can mop up most of their own boutique wines. Now we have a string of fine small producers including Sandhi, one of the most sought-after producers of all, and a source of some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir you will find – anywhere. Expensive but a match for fine white Burgundy.

 

€50 from www.stationtostation.ie – see their website for a great offer of wines from California and Oregon.

 

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Rouge-Gorge 2016, Coteaux du Loir Domaine de Bellivière

This is an, engaging and utterly charming, lightly aromatic wine, with elegant redcurrant fruits and light tannins on the finish. It has good acidity, giving it a lovely freshness and an attractive subtle earthiness. There is a wonderful purity of fruit that draws you back to the glass time after time. Well, it did me anyway.

We drank it with our weekly roast organic chicken, often the perfect match for any wine, red or white. Serve it very cool; I chilled ours in the fridge for an hour. It then warmed up as we drank it.

The vineyards are farmed biodynamically. Eric Nicolas uses natural yeasts and minimal intervention in his winemaking, fermenting in large barrels in his tufa caves. That probably makes this a natural wine, although it bears little resemblance to many that I have tasted. Over the last decade, Nicolas has built a reputation as one of the finest white winemakers in the Loire valley, crafting some sublime dry, medium and sweet wines from the lesser-known appellations of Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir. Try his sublime Vieilles Vignes Eparses (€48) if you get the chance. All of the white wines are made from Chenin Blanc. Pineau d’Aunis is, as the labels tells us, an unusual local red grape variety, a close relative of the Chenin Blanc.

€39 from SIYPS.com; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com.

 

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Clima 2016, Vale da Capucha IG Lisboa

Clima 2016, Vale da Capucha IG Lisboa

Delightful fresh medium-bodied white with textured ripe nectarines, and a crisp saline dry finish. Dangerously moreish.

Grilled mackerel or sardines.

Made from a blend of three Portuguese varieties, Gouveio, Fernão Pires and Arinto, this is one of many excellent white wines now coming out of Portugal. Vale de Capucha, run by the youthful Pedro Marques, is one of my favourite producers in Portugal for both red and white wines.

 

€20 from Lilac Wines, Dublin 3, lilacwines.ie; The Wine House, Trim; First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8, Firstdraftcoffeandwine.com;

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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