Posts Tagged Sicily red wine

A Weekend’s Drinking 12th December


Markus Molitor Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2014, Mosel

From one of the finest producers in the Mosel, a delicious vibrant wine, with developing honeycomb to add to the green apple and pear. Excellent acidity keeps it fresh and interesting . 11.5% Vol. The perfect alternative to Champagne on Christmas morning? Imported by Tindal.


Mâcon Villages 2014, Nicolas Maillet

Very attractive well-made wine with easy plump apples, a touch of orange peel and lemon zest. Light elegant and moreish. Yum! €23.25 from Wines Direct.


The Edge Pinot Noir 2015, Escarpment, Martinborough

Light fresh juicy Pinot at a very reasonable price. A posh party wine with nibbles, but went very well with or roast chicken. €19.95 from independents, including Searsons. Imported by Tindal.


Valdecontina Viño de Parcela 2014, Casa Aurora

A Mencía from Germán Blanco, who makes the most wonderful Ribera del Duero. From memory, this is from his grandmothers vineyard in the hills above Bierzo. Excellent , structured cool-climate Mencía with savoury tight dark fruits. Real concentration and grip. Sadly I don’t think it is commercially available. From importer Vinostito


Venus ‘la Universal’ 2011 Monsant Sara Pérez I René Barbier

Two names to conjure with here. René Barbier has been one of the most influential winemakers in Catalonia since the 1970’s; this is his son, who is married to Sara Pérez, daughter of José Luis Pérez, another hugely important figure in Monsant and Priorat. Venus is her project. Made from Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, this is her ‘attempt to interpret femininity, the Earth, through a bottle of wine’, according to her website. If so, she sees femininity in fairly powerful terms. This wine has fresh dark cherry aromas, plenty of body, although not without some elegance, with a strong mineral element that runs throughout. In need of food. Imported by La Rousse.


Vigne Vecchie Nerello Mascalese 2005A.V. Calabretta, IGT Sicilia

A family-owned very traditional estate, located on the black volcanic soils of Mount Etna. When I say traditional, the wines are aged for 6-7 years in large 50-70 hectolitre oak casks, as was once practised by most producers in Barolo and Montalcino. The vines are 70-80 years old, some ungrafted. The result is a wine with a wonderful lifted fragrance, savoury dark fruits and swinging dry tannins on the finish. My wife commented that it needed ten years ageing until I pointed out that it already had that! The next day, those firm dry tannins remained. A fascinating wine but choose your audience carefully. Imported by La Rousse.


Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

Syrah 2014 Feudo Arancio, Sicily

Syrah 2014 Feudo Arancio, Sicily

DSCF6833Syrah 2014 Feudo Arancio, Sicily
€15 from Mitchell & Son & Myles Doyle, Gorey.

Lovely cool supple plum fruits with a sprinkle of black pepper.

We tried it with chicken baked in a creamy sauce. The chicken was lovely but the wine went better with the sheep’s cheese that followed – Cáis na Tíre, my new best friend.

I first came across this wine a decade ago over lunch in the winery, and have followed it ever since. Sicily produces some very good Syrah, and this is one such example. It is richer than a Northern Rhône Syrah, but lighter and cooler than a Shiraz from Australia, This was a massive hit over dinner with a group of friends. I also featured the equally good Nero d’Avola a few weeks back.

Posted in: Daily Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →

Islands in the Sun

Islands in the Sun

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 21st May, 2016

From its probable birth over 8,000 years ago in the Caucasus, vine growing and wine drinking was spread, by the Phoenicians, and later the Greeks and Romans, around the entire Mediterranean. Wine sustained empires and provided its inhabitants with something safe to drink.

By the time you read this column, I will be down at the Ballymaloe Litfest 2016, the third year of this excellent event. On Sunday lunchtime I will be giving a talk and tasting entitled Islands in the Sun.Since a visit to Pantelleria a decade ago, I have been fascinated by the island wines of the Mediterranean. Wine was produced on virtually every island of any size, many of them volcanic. Despite being surrounded and ruled by various competing powers, many have developed a separate identity, with undiscovered indigenous grape varieties producing unique wines.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Once a source of cheap bulk wine, it is now home to some of the most exciting producers, on the slopes of Mount Etna in particular. Sardinia was ruled for four centuries by the Spanish kingdom of Aragon (as was Corsica). As a result, Sardinia’s most famous red wines are made from Cannonau, the local clone of the Spanish Garnacha.
The best white wines comes from the Vermentino (known as Rolle in France) grape, a variety that retains acidity in warm climates, and is showing great potential both here and in Corsica as well as mainland France and Italy. The wines of Corsica are less easy to find. The lesser wines go under the wonderful title of Ile de Beauté. The more expensive wines tend to stay on the island, or can be found on mainland France.

Moving to Greece, the island of Santorini once supplied Eucharistic wines to the Russian Orthodox church. Today, this arid windy volcanic outcrop produces some unique fresh, crisp mineral dry white wines from the indigenous Assyrtiko grape. The vines are formed into basket-like circles that stay close to the ground.

Pantelleria is a small volcanic island that is closer to the coast of Africa than Sicily. Here the ancient practice was to shield vines from constant wind by digging small craters in the volcanic rocks. The Muscat grapes, called Zibibbo here, are dried in the sun, before being fermented into a luscious sweet wine.

This is only scraping the surface. There are so many more. For the tasting I have sourced wines from Corsica, Malta, the Canaries, as well as those below. Space does not permit me to cover them all here, but if you are free this Sunday, why not come along?

DSCF6559Pinot Noir Réserve 2015, Ile de Beauté, Barton & Guestier
€11.99 (sometimes offered at €9.99)

Light juicy easy red fruits with a refreshing acidity. Perfect summer drinking.

Tesco; C&T Supermarkets; Carpenters, Castleknock; Amber,Fermoy; Joyce’s, Galway.

Image 3Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko , Santorini 2015

Fresh floral and mineral, Chablis-like with crisp fruits and a lingering dry finish.

Stockists: O’Briens

Image 4Tenute Dettori Vino Renosu Rosso NV, Sardinia

Delicious welcoming warm herb-scented wine with soft red fruits.

Stockists: 64wine, Glasthule.

DSCF6556Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 200, Azienda COS, Sicily

Soft smooth strawberry and plum fruits overlaid with dark chocolate. Wonderful wine.

Stockists:; No. 1 Pery Sq.; Market 57; Grapevine, Dalkey; Corkscrew; Red Island; Listons.

Posted in: Irish Times

Leave a Comment (0) →