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Something for the Weekend – a Tasty Riesling

Something for the Weekend – a Tasty Riesling

DSCF6387Pikes “Hills & Valleys” Riesling 2014, Clare Valley, Australia
€17.50/£11.75
10.5%

I reconnected with Clare Valley Riesling yesterday at the Wines of Australia Tasting in Dublin. They had a delicious mature Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling 1999 at the masterclass. Back home I opened a bottle of this lovely light Riesling from one of the better producers in the region. Light, fresh and crisp with lime zest and green apple fruits, finishing dry. A nice aperitif, or even better with crab. The price drops to €15.75/£10.58 if you buy a case from jnwine.com. Also available from The Corkscrew, Chatham Street, D2,

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Bründlmayer & Muhr van der Niepoort tasting at Greenacres, Wexford

I went to a wine dinner in Greenacres, Wexford last Friday, featuring the wines of the two producers above. It was a great night, with very good food, very good company, and some fantastic wines.

I am more used to meeting Thomas Klinger at the Bründlmayer stand at various trade wine fairs. At these he manages to pour an endless stream of wines to half a dozen clients while imparting a huge amount of information, all without missing a beat. Thomas is hugely knowledgeable and full of enthusiasm. It helps that he works for Bründlmayer, one of Austria’s greatest winemakers.

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Willi Bründlmayer produces a large number of wines, mainly white, from his vineyards on the terraced slopes of the Kamptal. Over the last five years, I have come to prefer the wines of this region compared to those of the neighbouring Wachau, which has a higher reputation. Wachau wines tend to be rich and powerful, those from the Kamptal more elegant. The Bründlmayer reds are delicate and refined; the whites are always good and often profound. Thomas showed three wines before dinner, including the stunning rich Grüner Veltliner Kaferberg 2013 (€40). With dinner the stars were the delicious Grüner Veltliner Ried Loiserberg 2011 (€20) and the amazing Gelber Muskateller TBA 2002, transported over by Thomas from Austria but sadly unavailable commercially. In addition to the above wines, I am huge fan of the Bründlmayer Rieslings; my value pick from Greenacres would probably be the 2013 Riesling Kamptaler Terrassen for €17.50.

Dorli Muhr attends the same wine fairs, but is a very different presence with far fewer wines. She runs one of the leading PR agencies in Austria, representing many of the wine producers. However, she is also very involved in her own winery. Having bought a vineyard in Tuscany some years ago, she met Dirk Niepoort of the eponymous Port house. They fell in love and she moved to the Douro. However, when the relationship ended, they collaborated on a project in Austria, where the cooler climate allowed them to produce more elegant refined wines, the style that Muhr herself preferred. Until recently the wines were made by South African Irishman, Craig Hawkins who worked with Eben Sadie and now makes wine at Lammershoek. The vineyards are on the Spitzerberg in Carnuntum. Muhr has planted a mix of grape varieties on the limestone soils, but the star is Blaufränkisch, Central Europe’s native red grape that is now attracting interest worldwide.

Before dinner, we tasted Cuvée Vom Berg, a very decent Cabernet, Merlot, Blaufränkisch blend, the Samt & Seide below and the wonderful Liebkind Blaufränkisch 2012. At €25 this is very good value and a great expression of Blaufränkisch (made from very young vines), a svelte fresh wine with piquant dark fruits. Over dinner, we tried a very good Merlot, Rote Erde 2012 (€22.50), but the conversation switched to Syrah, and Muhr called for a bottle of her 100% Syrah Sydhang 2011, the surprise of the night for me. I am tired of producers telling me how their Syrah is ‘just like the Northern Rhône’, when it clearly isn’t, but the Sydhang certainly had some resemblance, along with a lovely character all of its own. Great value at €22.50 too.

Dorli & Thomas try out Irish cheese
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Wines to buy

All of the wines below are available from Greenacres in Wexford. You may also find the Muhr van der Niepoort wines in a few independent wine shops around the country as well. Greenacres have a wide range of both producer’s wines. I have yet to come across a dud from either.

Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner 2013 Kamptaler Terrassen
€17.50

Delicious light fresh crisp dry wine with hints of ginger spice and subtle green fruits.

Muhr van der Niepoort Samt & Seide 2012
€20.00

Superb silky soft wine with blue fruits, balanced acidity and an easy finish. Pinotesque in style, a restrained and elegant wine.

However, if I were wandering around Greenacres, I would certainly be sorely tempted to buy a few bottles of the Bründlmayer Rieslings and the Sydhang Syrah too.

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The wonderful wines of Alsace

The wonderful wines of Alsace

From the Irish Times Saturday 8th August 2015

Tucked away in a corner along the eastern border of France, Alsace is often passed over by wine lovers. I admit to being guilty of this myself. I cannot remember when I last featured the wines from this region. It holds a place dear in my heart, and not just because of the lovely wines, for it was here that I spent my honeymoon.Mind you, it was bitterly cold in early March so romantic walks among the vines were not really an option. I have been back several times since though. This is a beautiful region with great walks and delicious food too. I would highly recommend a visit, preferably avoiding the summer months when picturesque towns such as Riquewihr are jammed with tourists. Alsace offers a range of great wines including a few light red wines and some very good rosés, both made from pinot noir. But the region is best known for its fantastic dry white wines. These deserve to be better known by the Irish wine drinker.

At first glance the wine nomenclature seems very clear. Alsace is the one region of France that has always allowed varietal labelling. A wide variety of grape varieties are permitted, but you are most likely to come across riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, pinot blanc and muscat for white wines, and pinot noir for red and rosé. The majority of wines are crisp, clean, fruity and dry, exactly the kind we like to drink. Alsace also makes some great sweet wines. The term “vendange tardive” on a label means that the grapes were harvested late and the wine is likely to be medium dry.The classification Sélection des Grains Nobles (SGN) indicates a wine made from grapes affected by noble rot, as with a Beerenauslese in Germany. This is likely to be sweet, although with both of the above wines it depends on the grape variety and producer. Again this seems fairly clear. The problem with Alsace for wine drinkers is that in recent years, some wine producers have started to make off-dry wines. This is partly a result of rising temperatures and lower yields. But very few give any indication on the label, making it difficult for the consumer to know what kind of wine they are buying. A few grams of residual sugar is not a problem, but I have bought a number of sweet flabby wines that lacked acidity.This trend seems to be reversing a little, but when buying a bottle it is best to stick to well-known names or ask the shop assistant for advice.

As in Germany, riesling is held in the highest esteem. The very best are brilliant, compelling wines, powerful and complex with a taut steely acidity.Lower down the scale, you get lovely fresh apple and citrus fruits. Gewürztraminer seems to have fallen out of fashion a little, but when made well, the wines can be a great match for Indian and other Asian dishes, as can pinot gris, which tends to made in an off-dry style in Alsace.The surprise of my tasting were two pinot blancs, one each from Hugel and Trimbach. Both were light (12-12.5 per cent) elegant wines with plump juicy fruits and a pleasure to drink as an aperitif. Alsace also produces large quantities of sparkling crémant d’Alsace, some of it very good. The best vineyards in Alsace are designated grand cru. There are some 50 of these. Generally these are made from a single variety (although some producers are allowed to blend several) and it will appear on the label.

The two big names are Trimbach and Hugel. Both are good. I am particularly fond of Trimbach. Two co-operatives, the Cave de Turckheim and the Cave de Hunawihr, widely available through independents, produce a solid range of wines. Look out too for anything from Josmeyer, Zind-Humbrecht, Weinbach, René Muré, Sipp Mack, Meyer-Fonné and Kientzler.

jwilson@irishtimes.com

DSCF5739Trimbach Riesling 2012
12.5%
€19.50

A lifted floral nose followed by lovely crisp lip-smacking green apple fruits, and a bone dry finish.

Stockists: widely available in independent wine shops.

DSCF5690Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbés 2012
12.5%
€21.95

Enticing fresh quince and honey fruits with a lovely lingering finish.

Stockists: Searsons, Monkstown.

DSCF5673Muré Riesling Grand Cru Vorbourg Clos Saint Landelin 2012
13.5%
€38.99

Riesling at its imperious best. Complex intense honeyed fruit with a steely backbone.

Stockists: Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove & Avoca Kilmacanogue.

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Tesco’s Finest Tingleup Riesling 2012, Great Southern, Australia

Tesco’s Finest Tingleup Riesling 2012, Great Southern, Australia

DSCF585812%
€15

Available from Tesco

A delicious lip-smacking Riesling, full of intense lemon and lime zest, light green fruits, with a touch of honey on the finish.

This would go really well with crab salad, scallops or prawns.

Australia has been growing Riesling for over a century and makes some seriously good age-worthy wines. The Eden and Clare Valleys have the best reputation, but the Great Southern region, on the very tip of Western Australia also produces its own delicious style. This wine is made for Tesco by Howard Park, one of the leading wineries in the area.

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