Posts Tagged Tempranillo

Is it time for a new way to classify wine?

At one time all wine literature was laid out by country and region; then came wine by style. In recent months it occurred to me that we should categorise our wines slightly differently – by producer type. I reckon they can be roughly divided into four groups, with some overflow. The problem is knowing where to put your favourite wine, when everyone is pretending to be small and artisan.

Big Wine

Like big beer, these are the large-scale industrial producers, although they don’t always like being called that. Modern technology allows them to churn out huge quantities of soft fruity, often off-dry wines that are drinkable if rarely exciting. They will usually have several ranges of wine, including some very expensive ones. We should probably be thankful for these producers; they keep us supplied with plenty of drinkable everyday wines and some of the more expensive wines can be very good.

Small and medium farmers

Most often found in Europe, many small and medium-size farmers simply sell their grapes to the local co-operative, which then falls into the “Big Wine” category. But some do produce their own wine. Generally it will be okay, occasionally very good. They often struggle to market their wines and earn a living unless they come from a fairly well-known area such as Sancerre, Soave or Rioja, and can therefore charge higher prices. The best producers within this group are responsible for the most interesting and best-value wines. It is here that you will find the truest expressions of a grape variety, climate or region.

The wild bunch

The nearest wine gets to hipster. Often young, experimental and dismissive of all other producers, they seek out new grape varieties, unheard of ancient regions, and love to make organic, biodynamic or even natural wines using as little modern technology (or sulphur) as possible. If the winemaker is good, the wines can be excellent – if not, they smell and taste of vinegar or poo, or both together.

Luxury goods

These will probably come from a very well-known posh region such as Bordeaux, Champagne, Rioja, the Napa Valley or Margaret River. The owner, often a wealthy businessman or multinational, will hire a very expensive consultant who will produce plush, lush, rich, smooth, ultra-ripe red wines with plenty of new oak. You won’t always be able to tell the grape variety or wine region, but you can tell it costs a lot; it has been teased and manicured like the greens at Augusta. These wines are made to be drunk by other very wealthy people who don’t always know a huge amount about wine, but want to have the best of everything.

This week, three small to medium producers, plus a good value wine from a co-operative.

La Bicicleta Voladora 2015, Rioja



A delicious unoaked Rioja packed with succulent dark cherry and bramble fruits.

Stockists: 64wine, Glasthule.

Les Demoiselles de Ch Falfas 2015, Côtes de Bourg (biodynamic)



Forward bright juicy ripe dark fruits with a lovely balancing acidity. Perfect with the Sunday roast.

Stockists: Terroirs, Donnybrook

Domaine des Nugues 2015, Beaujolais Blanc



Delicious unoaked wine with gentle fruits, a lovely texture, a fine minerality and an excellent finish.

Stockists: Martin’s, Fairview; 64wine, Glasthule.

Posted in: Irish Times

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My Top Ten Red Wines under €20 for 2016

This post came about as a result of a challenge set by a Twitter follower; to name my top five red wines for under €20. I have expanded it out here to ten wines. All have appeared in the Irish Times or on my blog before, and many in Wilson on Wine 2017, but I thought it might be good to see them all together. Doubtless they will change soon. In the meantime I have bought myself six bottles each of the Dâo, Geil Pinot, and Roka for drinking over the next few months.



DSCF7103Albizu Tempranilllo 2015, VdT de Castilla, Spain


I have a weakness for unoaked (or very lightly oaked) Rioja. I love the lively aroma, the pure cherry fruits and the refreshing acidity. Here they come together in an easy-drinking but sophisticated wine, great for sipping alone or for drinking with a variety or red and white meats. This example, made by a Rioja producer, from grapes grown within the region, doesn’t actually have the name Rioja on the label, but it certainly tastes like it. Worth buying in quantity for the season ahead.


€11.95-€12.95 from Mitchell & Son; Avoca Rathcoole; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Baggot St wines; Blackrock Cellar; Corkscrew; Fallon & Byrne; Listons; MacGuinness; Green Man; 64 Wines; World Wide Wines.



Sa de Baixo 2014Sa de Baixo 2014, Douro, Portugal       


This has been one of my go-to wines for a few years now, and I know I am not alone; many of our independent wine shops do a brisk trade with it. The label has changed recently, but the wine is just as good . Succulent ripe red fruits with a smooth tannin-free finish. Light harmonious and very quaffable. A good all-rounder to drink by itself or with white meats – creamy chicken with pasta sounds good.


€13.50 from Mortons, Ranelagh; McHughs; Blackrock Cellar; Gibneys, Malahide; Avoca Rathcoole; Wicklow Wine Co.; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Baggot St Wines; DrinkStore, D7; Martins, Fairview; Browns Vineyard, Portlaoise; Red Island, Skerries; Probus, Fenian St; Sweeneys, Glasnevin; 64 Wine, Glasthule.



DSCF6516Borsao Garnacha Seleccíon, Campo de Borja, 2015, Spain


The label is fairly dazzling, and so is the wine. The Campo de Borja region produces large quantities of big ripe warming red wines, usually made from Garnacha. This is a warm hug of a wine. 14.5% alcohol, it is big, rounded and ripe with soft spicy strawberry fruits and a very decent supple finish. Fantastic value for money. Perfect for barbecues and other red meats.



€13.95 from Bradleys, Cork; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Next Door, Arklow; & Searsons Monkstown; Drinkstore, D7.



DSCF7060Acón Joven 2014, Ribera del Duero, Spain


A world away from the big tannic oaky monsters that once made up most of Ribera del Duero. This unoaked ‘young’ wine has forward floral aromas and delicious pure damson fruits. It packs a fair punch too, coming in at 14.5%, but you would hardly know it. Great value for money and perfect with roast lamb and beef.


€14.50 Red Island Wines; 64 Wine; Wicklow Wine Co; Clontarf Wines; Listons, Camden St.




Domaine des NuguesDomaine des Nugues, Beaujolais Villages 2014, France    


Beaujolais is finally coming back into fashion as we seek wines that are lighter in style. I spent a few lovely days in the region earlier this year, tasting the various crus. I also visited this estate. This wine is one of the best, and certainly superior to many of the cheap Fleurie you will come across in the shops. Wonderful aromas and pure sweet red cherry and blackcurrant fruits with a touch of liquorice. Patés, cheese and all things porcine, including belly of pork, ham and boiled bacon, as well as roast chicken.


€16.75 from Martin’s, Fairview; 64 Wine, Glasthule.




Roka BlaufränkischRoka Blaufränkisch 2015, Stajerska, Slovenia


Made by Irish couple Sinéad & Liam Cabot from their own grapes, both this and their equally delicious white Šipon are really good wines, and quite amazing for a first real effort after a few limited releases. The Blaufränkisch is a true vin de soif, with fresh supple cherry and damson fruits, but that really does it a disservice; this is a wine with plenty of depth and concentration. Well worth seeking out.


€16.99 from Cabot & Co;, Westport; No.1 Pery Square, Limerick; Grapevine, Dalkey; The Poppyseed, Clarinbridge; McCambridges, Galway.




DSCF6122Dâo Rótulo 2015, Niepoort, Portugal


If your tastes run to rich full-bodied reds, stay away from this wine. It is a delicious refreshing light red with a savoury edge to the clean damson fruits. Moreish, and with a mere 12.5% alcohol, you don’t have to deny yourself.


€16.99 from Redmonds, Mortons, Martins,Jus de vine, Green Man, Donnybrook Fair, Clontarf Wines, Blackrock Cellar and Baggot Street Wines




DSCF7121Geil Pinot Noir 2015, Rheinhessen


Charming free-flowing light supple sweet cherry fruits with a nice kick of acidity. Try it with salmon, tuna or pork. I have tried this several times in wine bars recently, including La Touche and Grapevine in Dalkey. It seems to suit all tastes, and is light enough be drunk without food.


€16.95-17.95 from La Touche; Grapevine; Mortons; Sweeneys; Redmonds; Wicklow Wine Co; Mitchell & Son; Listons; Jus de Vine; Drinkstore; Corkscrew; Blackrock Cellar; 64Wine.




DSCF5905Ch. Pey-Bonhomme Les-Tours 2012, Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux, France

This was a really enjoyable wine, classic Bordeaux, with clean blackcurrant fruits, a seam of acidity running through, and a light dry tannic bite on the finish. I had mine with a roast shoulder of pork (Tamworth, from, excellent) and it was very good. I suspect it would be even better with lamb. Affordable well-made Bordeaux.

€19 from Green Man Wines, Terenure; 64Wine, Glasthule; Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer Street; Clontarf Wines; Mortons, Ranelagh.






Quite 2014 BierzoQuite 2014 Bierzo, Veronica Ortega


Medium-bodied and perfumed with fresh clean dark fruits; delicious, but if I was feeling flush I would go for Ortega’s Roc (at €30). I have been on a big Mencía kick for the last few years. I still love the Castro Valtuillé Joven, and the Brezo de Grégory Pérez, both widely available from independents, but I have really enjoyed this several times at home over the last eight months.


€19.50 from 64wine, Glasthule; World Wide Wines, Waterford; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Blackrock Cellars; Clontarf Wines; Drinkstore, D7;


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Protocolo 2013 VdT de Castilla, Spain

Protocolo 2013 VdT de Castilla, Spain

Image€9 from O’Briens

An inexpensive light red wine with light dark cherry fruits and a hint of vanilla.

With pizzas, tapas and lighter dinners, or just by itself. It would make a great party wine too.

A perennial favourite with O’Briens customers, this is  a sort of not-Rioja; made by a Rioja producer with Tempranillo grapes grown outside the borders for the wine or from younger vines within. The label, once black and circular, is now white and oval. I cannot pretend that the wine will taste like the finest Gran Reserva Rioja; it won’t. But for €9 a bottle on current promotion, you cannot ask for more.

Posted in: Daily Drop

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Albizu Tempranillo 2015, Spain

Albizu Tempranillo 2015, Spain

DSCF7103Albizu Tempranillo 2015, Spain

Available for €11.95-€12.95 from Mitchell & Son; Avoca Rathcoole; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Baggot St Wines; Blackrock Cellar; Corkscrew; Fallon & Byrne; Listons; MacGuinness; Green Man; 64 Wines; World Wide Wines, Waterford.

I have a weakness for unoaked (or very lightly oaked) Rioja. I love the lively aroma, the pure cherry fruits and the refreshing acidity. They come to together to form an easy-drinking but sophisticated wine, great for sipping alone or for drinking with a variety or red and white meats. This example, made by a Rioja producer, from grapes grown within the region, doesn’t actually have the name Rioja on the label, but it certainly tastes like it. This is a perfect example of the style. Worth buying in quantity for the season ahead.



Posted in: Daily Drop

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Canforalles Syrah Tempranillo 2015, La Mancha

<strong>Canforalles Syrah Tempranillo 2015, La Mancha</strong>

DSCF6847Canforalles Syrah Tempranillo 2015, La Mancha
€13 from La Touche, Greystones; World Wide Wines, Waterford; 64wine, Glasthule; Liston’s, Camden Street.

Nice young wine – the Syrah gives it a savoury touch, the Tempranillo an elegance. Together they form a well-made wine, with clean dark fruits and light tannins. Ideal with pizza and tomato-based pasta dishes. Organic.

La Mancha is one of the largest vineyards in the world, and produces massive quantities of wine, largely red. They are usually very reasonably priced. I reckon La Mancha Tempranillo is one of the best-value red wines you can find. This wine mixes in a bit of Syrah too, a nice innovation. Great value for money.

Posted in: Daily Drop

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Finca Resalso 2014, Ribera del Duero, Emilio Moro

<strong>Finca Resalso 2014, Ribera del Duero, Emilio Moro</strong>

Image 1Finca Resalso 2014, Ribera del Duero, Emilio Moro

Tasted more like 14% or even more to me, but a very good polished wine with smooth dark fruits, very subtle oak, a bit of real power and good length too. Nice wine. Went very well with our Armenian chicken, stuffed with walnuts, prunes and sumac.

Available from Redmonds, Ranelagh; Deveneys, Dundrum; The Coachhouse, Balinteer; Higgins, Clonskeagh; Sweeneys, Glasnevin; Clontarf Wines; O’Driscoll’s, Cahirsiveen; Donnybrook Fair; Holland’s, Bray; Fresh, Canal St.; No.21, Cork; 1601, Kinsale; Joyce’s, Galway.

Posted in: Top Drop

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Artuke 2014, Rioja

Artuke 2014, Rioja

IMG_0005Artuke 2014, Rioja

Delicious wine; ripe strawberries on the nose; supple easy sweet ripe strawberry and red cherry fruit on the palate with surprising concentration and depth. Lovely easy-drinking wine and very much my style. Sadly the retail price of this wine increased to over the €15 mark at the last minute.

I love unoaked Rioja, mainly I suspect, because I like Tempranillo. Too often it is swamped with oak, and you cannot actually taste the grape. Artuke are a producer worth looking out for; based up in the Basque part of Rioja, Rioja Alavesa, Arturo and Kiki (hence the name) are sons of Miguel Blanco who set up the winery. They make a number of single vineyard wines, and Pies Negro, which featured in Wilson on Wine last year.

Available from: Liston’s, Camden St.; 64wine, Glasthule; Clontarf Wines.

Posted in: Daily Drop

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Ad Libitum 2014 Rioja (White, Organic)

Ad Libitum 2014 Rioja (White, Organic)

IMG_0027Ad Libitum 2014 Rioja (White, Organic)

Normally I steer well clear of white Rioja; most of it either tastes of nothing, or has been aged in oak barrels, and therefore tastes of oak and little else. There are exceptions though and this is one. It is made from an obscure mutation of the Tempranillo grape by Juan-Carlos Sancha, professor at the University of Rioja, who discovered the grape and planted it in a small vineyard in Rioja Alata. Sancha also produces a very good red made from Maturana, another unknown variety.

This had unusual but very attractive textured fruits, good acidity and a good dry finish. A great price for an wine with real interest. Light enough to drink on its own, but excellent with white fish. I had mine with fried hake in a herb and lemon butter.

Stockists: Cabot & Co, Westport; No.1 Pery Square, Limerick.

Posted in: Top Drop

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Señorío de Cuzcurrita 2008, Rioja

Señorío de Cuzcurrita 2008, Rioja

Image 26Señorío de Cuzcurrita 2008, Rioja

Exclusive to Wines on the Green, Dawson Street, D2.

This was a standout wine in a recent Rioja tasting. The importer tells me that is from a single old vineyard (planted 1970) surrounding a medieval castle (take a look online). They also tell me that is cheaper here than in Spain, surely a reason to go out and buy it. I enjoyed it over three evenings and it showed no sign of tiring. Great wine.

This is gorgeous, mature, fascinating wine; ripe, sweet perfectly ripe strawberry and dark fruits laced with a soft, dusty earthiness and a definite minerality. A little oak on the finish and good length.

Stockists: Wines on the Green

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