Posts Tagged Wine Mason

Herbert Zillinger – a new Austrian star.

I have tasted the wines of Herbert Zillinger three times over the last year or so. On each occasion I have been blown away by them. I met Zillinger briefly at VieVinum, the biannual showcase Austrian wine fair. He came across as modest and unassuming but very assured when talking about his wines.

Zillinger is based in Weinviertel, a large area in north-eastern Austria, better known for producing decent everyday wines, usually made from Grüner Veltliner. The Zillinger wines are anything but everyday. He and his partner Carmen farm biodynamically in deep loess soils. They work naturally, adding only a small amount of SO2. Zillinger are members of respect-BIODYN, a group of biodynamic producers in Austria, Germany and elsewhere, including some of the very best estates. The results are spectacular. As he writes on his website “we don’t compromise. We create unique wines, wines with a profile, structure and ‘USP”. I am a big fan of Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal; these wines are different but every bit as good.

Wine Mason is the Irish importer. They list four of his wines. I see from his website he produces over a dozen, all in small quantities.

Neuland Grüner Veltliner 2021, Weinviertel
Tight and closed at first, but then explodes with flavour; layers of textured ripe green fruits, lots of ginger spice, and a dry finish. 17/20

€26 from Barnhill Stores, Dalkey, Co. Dublin;; Lilith, Dublin7; La Touche, Greystones; MacCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork; The Wine Pair, Dublin 8; SIX, Dublin 6.

Horizont Grüner Veltliner 2021, Weinviertal
Intense ripe peaches and apricots, with spice aplenty, a very mineral backbone and long finish. Gorgeous wine. 17.5/20

€29-31 from Redmonds, Ranelagh, Dublin 6; La Touche, Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Radikal Grüner Veltliner 2019, Weinviertal
Rich, powerful and exotic with intense honey, pineapple chunks, some herbal notes too. Lingering finish. A sensational wine that will develop further. 18/20

€68-70 from Lilith, 31a Prussia Street, D7.

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A Duo from Sicily

A Duo from Sicily

“The amount of bullshit in the wine world is almost as much as that in the world of fashion”. Marco de Grazia, founder of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, doesn’t pull his punches. “Winemaking is a cultural process whereby you want to express the character of that vineyard; therefore you have to step back. Most winemakers have very big egos – we are the opposite, we want you to taste the vineyard.”

Thirty years ago, de Grazia, an American wine importer, was one of the very first to set up an estate on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, an ancient vineyard that had largely been forgotten. Since then, the region has been recognized as one of the finest in Sicily, with producers from all over Italy flocking to buy up vineyards.

Today the Terre Nere estate has 55 hectares on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, 27 of which are in production. That includes 24 separate parcels, four released as single vineyard wines. Except for seven hectares of recently planted vineyards all of the vines are 50-100 years old, growing at altitudes of 600-1,000 metres. All of the Terre Nere wines are made from local, indigenous grape varieties. “A happy vineyard produces happy grapes”, says de Grazia; all of the wines are organic and vegan.

De Grazia recently visited Dublin where he, and importers Wine Mason, put on a tasting of the Terre Nere wines. The wines are all good, and some spectacular; over the last few years, this has become one of my favourite Italian producers.


Etna Bianco 2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere


Floral, fresh and light, with soft pears and subtle stone fruits, and a lively mineral acidity. There is a fantastic succulence and purity to the fruit. Delicious wine with real character and good length.


This would go perfectly with simply-cooked white fish. Grilled hake or sole.

The red wines of Mount Etna tend to get all of the attention, but the white wines can be spectacularly good and are well worth seeking out. The Bianco is made from a blend of 65% Carricante, with varying smaller proportions of Catarratto, Inzolia, Grecanico, and Minella. Organic and vegan.


€25.95 from Redmonds, Dublin 6;; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth;; Mitchell & Son, chq, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne,; The Wicklow Wine Co., Wicklow,; Ely 64, Glasthule,; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Devenys, Dublin 14;


Etna Rosso Guardioloa 2016, Tenuta delle Terre Nere


Elegant, high-toned cool savoury red fruits – redcurrants and cherries, with a taut structure, and fine drying tannins and minerals on the finish. Fantastic concentration and depth. Magnificent wine.


Keep for a year or two, or if you must open it now, decant and drink alongside roast or grilled pork with tomato-based sauce of some kind.


This is made from primarily Nerello Mascalase with some Nerello Cappuccio, from a single vineyard, one of the highest plots at around 1,000 metres. Di Grazia describes it as “an austere taut coiled spring”, and “a soprano of a wine”. I bought some of the 2014 to lay down for a year or so.


€45 from The Corkscrew, Dublin 2,; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,



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Sa de Baixo 2014, Douro, Portugal

Sa de Baixo 2014, Douro, Portugal

Sa-de-Baixo-Colheita-510x1060Sa de Baixo 2014, Douro, Portugal

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.

Available from Redmond’s Ranelagh, On the Grapevine Dalkey, Red Island Wine Co Skerries, 64 Wine Glasthule, Blackrock Cellar, Wicklow Wine Co., Morton’s Ranelagh, McHugh’s kilbarrack & Malahide Road, Power Wine Merchants Lucan.

The Douro Valley is better known for Port. This stunningly beautiful region is responsible for one of the world’s great fortified wines, but also offers some amazing red (and even white) wines. It all depends on where the vineyards are located and which direction they are facing. The cooler vineyards make some very tasty wines. Sadly the best are expensive – everything has to be done by hand here, but every now and again you come across a real bargain. This has been one of my go to value reds for a few years now.

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Vale de Capucha Branco 2012, Vinho Regional, Portugal

Vale de Capucha Branco 2012, Vinho Regional, Portugal

Vale de Capucha Branco 2012, Vinho Regional, Portugal

An enchanting combination of zesty citrus, grapefruit pith and plump peachy fruits. One of those that gets better with each sip. Just don’t serve it too cold.

I would have this with richer fish dishes, maybe fairly plain cod, hake or black sole.

Available from Mitchell and Son, Gibney’s Malahide, Corkscrew, Redmond’s Ranelagh, 64 Wine, Glasthule.

Pedro Marques is one of the rising stars of Portuguese winemaking. He visited Dublin last year to attend the SPIT tasting (if you don’t know about it, google and make sure you get to the 2016 event) where he showed his amazing wines. The white wines are brilliant, and the reds pretty good too.

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Vale da Capucha 2011, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal

Vale da Capucha 2011, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal

IMG_4472Vale da Capucha 2011, Vinho Regional, Portugal

Very restrained with just ripe damson fruits, good acidity and a very attractive mineral core. Great wine with real character.

This has the acidity and tannic structure to cut through fatty meats; grilled duck breast or maybe belly of pork, so long as they aren’t swamped with a sweet sauce.

Available from Corkscrew, Gibney’s Malahide, Redmond’s Ranelagh.

Pedro Marques is better known for his white wines than red (see above), but I tried this red three times over the last six months and was very taken with it. As my tasting note suggests, it was a lovely elegant wine with a slight earthy minerality. I was gobsmacked to find out it was 15% alcohol. So not one to sip while watching TV.

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