Agustí Torelló Mata Cava Reserva 2011
Light brioche with toasted almonds, delicate fruit, a subtle creamy texture and a dry finish. Delicious wine; not trying to be Champagne, but every bit as good at the price.
The perfect light aperitif, or with lighter tapas.
This is one of the leading family-owned Cava estates. Based in the Penedès, they remain loyal to the three traditional Cava varieties, Macabeu, Xarello and Parellada. This Cava is a blend of all three, aged for a minimum of two years before release. This is one of the finest Cavas I have tasted in years, and well worth seeking out.
Available for €29 from Mitchellandson.com (online only) and Sheridan’s Cheese shops, Dublin, Meath and Galway.
Primitivo Lamie dell Vigne 2012, Masseria Guttarolo, Puglia
€24 from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Green Man Wines, Terenure, and Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove & Avoca, Kilmacanogue.
A superb wine, powerful and concentrated with morello cherries and plums, a lovely freshness combined with a slight herby funkiness and a long finish with a nice tannic bite.
Try it with substantial dishes; I drank mine with spiced, grilled lamb kebabs.
I have to admit I deliberately ignored this wine for a week or two. I had tasted far too many pumped-up, over alcoholic and over oaked wines from Puglia in my time. When I finally coravined it to try, I quickly uncorked the bottle and drank it. This is an absolutely gorgeous wine, powerful certainly, but complex and balanced with brooding perfectly ripe, but never over-ripe dark fruits, and a solid welcoming earthiness. Apparently Cristiano Guttarolo is a natural winemaker, growing organic grapes, and using little or no sulphur. I also tried his amphora wine called Joha, which I really enjoyed, but for me, this was the real star.
Fratelli Barba Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Colle Morino 2015
€14 from Sheridans Cheesemongers.
Light – a mere 12% – and refreshing with clean pear fruits and a dry finish. It is so much better than most of the confected sub €10 Pinot Grigio on the market and worth the €14 price tag.
It is not often anyone gets excited about a Trebbiano from the Abruzzo. The grape variety is renowned for tasting of very little, and yields in the Abruzzo tend to be high, further stretching any available flavour. I cannot pretend that this is a brilliant life-changing wine; it did however make for very pleasant drinking on a summer’s evening.
l’Acino Toccomagliocco 2009, IGT Calabria
€26 from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers; Mitchell & Sons; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Blackrock Cellar.
Light and refreshing with earthy cherry fruits and some dry tannins on the finish. Intriguing stuff. I tried it with grilled pork chops that I hade brined with fennel seeds and garlic; it worked very well.
This wine is made from a completely unknown grape variety grown in one of the more obscure regions of Italy. The grape is Magliocco (no, me neither) and the region Calabria, the toe of Italy, sticking out towards Sicily. Most wine here does not make it to DOC status and is simply blended with lighter wines produced in the north of Italy. However, every now and again, you come across a really interesting wine, usually made from a local grape variety. L’Acino was set up by three friends, one a lawyer, one a film director, the third an historian. They bought some old vineyards, planted a few more, all with ancient local grape varieties. The results are very promising.
Umberta, Cantina Viticoltori del Monferrato
€20 from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
Delicious refreshing sour damson fruits, with a lovely lively acidity and a strong mineral streak. Perfect served coolish with fatty pork dishes, or a medium-strength firm cheese.
The back label simply says Vino Rosso. There is no vintage either. This small cantina, founded in 1998 by a small group of like-minded growers and winemakers led by Fabrizio Iuli, is dedicated to making high-quality Barbera in the Monferrato commune in Piemonte. They decided to leave the DOC, arguing they the authorities simply support large producers of average quality wine. These wines are excellent.
We drank these two wines for dinner last night, both from lesser-known regions.Both were very good.
Burja Bela 2010, Vipava, Slovenia
Lovely complex ripe fruits, softly textured with a touch of orange peel and a savoury finish with good mineral acidity.
I first came across this wine at a Slovenian wine tasting in Dublin a few years ago; I think it was actually the same vintage. Primož Lavrenčič of Burja estate is a believer in natural wine, made with as little intervention as possible. He farms biodynamically and uses only local grape varieties. In this wine he blends 30% Rebula, 30% Malvasia, 30% Riesling Italico, and 10% Zelen. Despite, or possibly because of its age, the wine is drinking beautifully. Not cheap though at €27.50 – certainly from Sheridans, and probably Green Man Wines in Terenure, they being very keen on natural wines.
De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2014
D.O. Secano Interior/Colemu, Chile
A very interesting and enjoyable wine; a strange mix of red cherry and canned strawberries with an earthy note, and some light tannins on the finish. 13% alcohol and almost Beaujolais-like at times in its weight.
This is made from unirrigated old vines down in the Itata Valley in Chile. It was part of a tasting of wines from this region for a forthcoming article in the Irish Times. It sells for €17.99; I am still waiting for a list of stockists.
Available from Sheridans Cheesemongers, and 64wine, Glasthule for €22.50.
From a small family estate based in Fuenmayor in Rioja Alta, this is a wonderful Rioja, one of the best I have tasted in some time. Made from 90 Tempranillo, it has an irresistible combination of perfectly ripe dark cherry fruits, good acidity, and very subtle oak. It carries its 14% alcohol effortlessly. There are some tannins on the finish, and I suspect it will improve for another five years or so, but it went perfectly with a roast shoulder of pork for Sunday lunch. Excellent wine worth seeking out.