Posts Tagged Amalaya

Spanish and Argentinian reds for a late summer barbecue

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 13th August, 2022

At this time of year, we need to make the most of our barbecue opportunities, before the cooler days set in. The Irish barbecue has become more varied and more sophisticated in recent years, and this requires a more nuanced approach to wine. But a great many still revolve around red meat, and if I am cooking beef or lamb in some form, I still hanker for a full-bodied red wine.

While you could certainly go for a Zinfandel or Cabernet from California, or a rich red from South Africa, the Languedoc or southern Italy, this week I have chosen wines from Argentina and Ribera del Duero in Spain, both regions expert at the art of grilling and barbecuing. However, just about every country produces a full-bodied red wine that will go down well with a barbecue.

The Cillar del Silos featured here is the best-selling wine for WineSpark, a newish company that claims to sell all of their wines at cost price. Obviously, I cannot verify this, but the prices are certainly highly competitive. The only downside is you have to take out a subscription — that is how they make their money — but the company’s website is certainly worth a look. Ribera del Duero is one of the most famous regions in Spain. A rival to Rioja, it produces richer more full-bodied wines, usually from the Tempranillo grape known as Tinto Fino or Tinto del País there.

Navarra, next door to Rioja, was once best-known for a rich rosé made from the Garnacha grape, otherwise known as Grenache. More recently, it has been producing very good red wines, typically lighter and fruitier than those from other regions. I thought the Volandera featured here would make a great all-purpose barbecue wine. I had forgotten how good it was until tasted again recently after a long gap.

The Gran Corte is a classic Malbec with a twist or two. Firstly, it is blended with 8 per cent Cabernet Franc and 6 per cent Tannat to add structure and complexity. The wine is then aged in used French and American oak barrels, adding a spiciness and rounded tannins. Finally, the Amalaya vineyards are, at 1,800 metres, bringing a unique combination of freshness and concentration.

The Luna Single Vineyard Malbec comes from the highly regarded Agrelo region. Close to the city of Mendoza, it is home to some of the most prestigious producers. It is rare to see a single vineyard wine from the region selling for less than €10.

If the weather is hot, remember to keep the reds cool, ideally at around 16-18 degrees. No wine, even the most full-bodied red, tastes good served warm, especially on a hot sunny day. And have plenty of lighter wines, beer or alcohol-free options for before and after your food.

Lidl Luna Single Vineyard Malbec, Agrelo, Argentina

14%, €9.99

Rich rounded soft dark fruits with subtle vanilla and a savoury touch. Perfect with a burger or beef ribs.

From Lidl

Volandera Garnacha 2021, Navarra

13.5%, €18.25-18.95

Medium to full-bodied, this delicious exuberant wine, replete with fresh raspberry and strawberry fruits, is big enough to take on red meats yet light enough to go well with pork, poultry and grilled Mediterranean vegetables

From McCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork; Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellar; Greenville Deli, D6;; Sweeney’s D3; Liliput, D7; Brindle, D8; Clontarf Wines, D3; A Taste of Spain, D1 & D2; Manning’s Emporium, Co. Cork

Ribero del Duero Crianza 2018, Cillar de Silos

14.5%, €17.91

Voluptuous smooth ripe dark fruits with a lightly spicy touch and a savoury finish. The local speciality is baby lamb roasted whole in a clay asador, but lamb chops, steak, mushrooms or aged Manchego would all do nicely as well.


Amalaya Gran Corte 2020, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Calchaquí Valley, Argentina

14.5%, €25.99

An excellent deeply flavoured wine that combines power with a certain elegance. Rich ripe forest fruits, dark chocolate and spice combine nicely leading to a long, dry finish. Perfect with a posh barbecue.

From Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; Baggot Street Wines; Clontarf Wines; Power & Co, Lucan; World Wide Wines, Waterford;

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A lighter shade of Pale: Lighter whites for brighter weather

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 6th July, 2019

Now that the schools have closed, and Met Éireann is promising temperatures approaching 25 degrees, we turn our attention to summer wines again. I recently splashed out on a mixed case of white wines: two Vinho Verdes, a few Rieslings, a tasty Muscadet and a few others too. All were 12.5 per cent or less in alcohol, the Vinho Verdes just 11.5 per cent. These (if they last) will be my summer whites.

Thankfully, as our general tastes move towards lower alcohol wines – particularly with lighter white wines – buyers are providing us with a greater choice. I tend to avoid very low alcohol wines, those at less than 10 per cent, as they often don’t really seem like wine.

The one exception is German Riesling Kabinett and Spâtlese, both of which make for fantastic summer drinking. Bear in mind when buying that a producer is allowed 0.5 per cent leeway either way, so a 12.5 per cent wine could actually be 13 per cent or 12 per cent.

There is no shortage of choice; virtually every country produces something light and white. Muscadet would always be one of my first choices; it is still incredibly good value. Most of the multiples including SuperValu, Aldi, Dunnes Stores and O’Briens offer at least one. Picpoul de Pinet, often tagged as the Muscadet of the south, is another option.

Elsewhere in France, many of the white wines of the Loire and southwest France come in at under 13 per cent. I covered Vinho Verde from Portugal a few weeks ago. Semillon from Australia, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, as well as a host of Italian white wines all register as light and refreshing. But this week, I am focusing on four less well-known names, all at 12 per cent alcohol or less.

Gentil d’Alsace, once a traditional name for any wine made from various varieties, now has official AOC status. It must include at least 50 per cent “noble” grapes – riesling, gewürztraminer, muscat and pinot gris – with the remainder made up from sylvaner, pinot blanc, chasselas.

The version below, a blend of four different grape varieties from one of the most reliable producers in Alsace, is excellent value for money. Sauvignon blanc drinkers should certainly check out Tesco’s Finest Côtes de Gascogne; made from the very local colombard and gros manseng grapes, this is a bargain at €9.

The Édalo comes from Huelva, in the far south of Spain, right beside the Portuguese border. The cooling Atlantic winds make for a delicate light dry wine, made from the local Zalema grape. Argentine made from the Torrontés grape can sometimes be a little too aromatic and rich, but in the wine below, the inclusion of 15 per cent Riesling adds a lovely vibrancy to the aromas and fleshy fruit of the Torrontés. This is one of my favourite summer (and winter) white wines.

Tesco Finest Côtes de Gascogne 2018
11%, €9
Lightly aromatic with clean fresh apple and pear fruits, with plenty of brisk citrus. On its own, with seafood or soft goat’s cheese salads.
From Tesco,

Édalo 20 Condado de Huelva, Contreras Ruiz, Spain
12%, €13.90
Lightly herbal nose with fresh green apple and pineapple fruits, finishing dry. An old favourite revisited at a party recently, on a mild summer’s day, it made a perfect aperitif, and also later with summery salads including salmon.
From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Bradleys Off-Licence, Cork,; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3,; Drinkstore, Dublin 7,; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6;; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3,; Listons, Dublin 2,; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7,; Wicklow Wine Co,

Amalaya Torrontés Riesling 2018, Calchaquí Valley, Argentina
12.5%, €17.99
Torrontés with a touch of Riesling, and it really works very well. Lightly aromatic, with subtle elderflower aromas; very fresh crisp and pure with mouth-watering peaches, finishing dry. By itself, or with fish. A seafood ceviche?
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Blackrock Cellar, Co Dublin,; the Corkscrew, Dublin 2,; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, Co Dublin,; Kellys, Dublin 3,; Martin’s Off-Licence, Dublin 3,; Red Island Wine Co, Skerries, Co Dublin;

Gentil d’Alsace 2015, Meyer-Fonné
12%, €18.95
A blend of Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer that is softly fruity with touches of honey and ginger, balanced by lively citrus. A perfect summery aperitif, with quiche and salad or spicy chicken dishes.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Drinkstore, Dublin 7,; Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2,; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,; Worldwide Wines, Waterford,



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