Posts Tagged Wiston estate

Irish Wine

It takes one hundred days of sunshine to ripen grapes. As we rarely get anything like a that in this country, we cannot produce wine. And yet, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands all do just that. England has a burgeoning wine industry, winning awards for its high quality sparkling wine. Even our nearest neighbour Wales has a dozen vineyards.

Based in Lusk, in north Co. Dublin, David Llewellyn has been producing his Lusca wine since 2005. As far as I know, this is the only commercially available Irish wine, the O’Callaghans of Longueville House having decided that cider and brandy was better suited to the Irish terroir. I admit I have been dismissive of David’s wines in the past, but a recent tasting featuring five vintages of Lusca prompted a change of mind. All of the Irish wine writers were impressed, if not shocked, by the quality of the wines, one scribe even comparing them to the red wines of the Loire – high praise indeed.

A different route has been taken by Brett and Pamela Stephenson of Wicklow Way Wines. They make fruit wines. “We both love Irish food and go out of our way to buy Irish,” says Pamela. “I am very supportive of the craft beer and whiskey business, but I don’t drink either. The only thing I like to drink is wine. There was nothing there that addressed my need, so I said why not make something Irish from the lovely local produce? It took three years to get it right. The first wine is Móinéir [Irish for meadow] a strawberry wine. Apparently it takes 150 strawberries to make one bottle.“The reception has been brilliant,” says Brett. “We are thrilled how people are across all ages and gender like it. We thought it might be strawberries and ladies but it has transcended all that.” There are plans for gooseberry wine (possibly with a bit of elderflower) which should appeal to Sauvignon Blanc drinkers. I tasted a delicious blackberry and elderberry wine from the tank, as well as a lighter, fruitier blackberry and blueberry wine. They source most of their fruit from Pat Clarke in Lusk, although they are also working with Irish blackcurrants from Des Jeffares in Wexford. Brett has foraged elderflowers, elderberries and other fruits around Wicklow. “We want to use 100 per cent Irish fruit,” says Pamela. “It is a real challenge, but it is fun to make the wine and we want to do it this way.”

The process of making a fruit wine is very similar to ‘normal’ wine, and the winery looks just like a boutique winery anywhere in Europe or the New World. Already, Irish restaurants and retailers are queuing up to buy Móinéir, and abroad the latest client is Fortnum & Mason!

DSCF6637Móinéir Fine Strawberry Wine, Wicklow Way Wines

Summer in a glass; lovely ripe juicy strawberry fruits and a rounded clean finish.

Stockists: Whelehans; Grapevine; Morton’s; Parting Glass; La Touche; Lotts & Co.; Green Man.

Image 2Lusca Cabernet Merlot 2014
€44.95 per bottle ½ bottle €24.95

Leafy lightly herbal nose, with cool ripe red fruits, a touch of caramel, good acidity, and a decent finish.

Stockists: Wines on the Green; Direct (David Llewellyn 0872843879) Jus de Vine; Searsons; Green Man Wines; Bradleys.

Wiston estateWiston Estate Blanc de Blancs NV, England

Made by Irishman Dermot Sugrue, a superb refined sparkling wine with subtle brioche, ripe fruits and a steely backbone.

Stockists: Le Caveau, Bradleys; Corkscrew; World Wide Wines.

Posted in: Irish Times

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A few snapshots from the Le Caveau tasting.

A Few Snapshots from the Le Caveau tasting.

Wine importer Le Caveau held a great tasting during the week. There were many, many highlights, including wines from Morocco, Georgia and England. Below a very brief look at three producers. More to follow.

Wiston Estate & Sugrue Pierre, West Sussex

Dermot Sugrue makes some of the best sparkling wines in England; the Wiston Blanc de Blancs (€53) is a delight, complex with brioche, racy acidity and delicious plump fruit. The vintage Rosé 2011(€62) has matured very nicely showing lovely ripe raspberry fruits. Dermot’s own wine, the Pierre Sugrue ‘The Trouble with Dreams’ is a wonderful creamy complex wine, which made the Champagne next door seem a little ordinary, no mean feat as this was Philipponnat Royale Réserve Brut.

Ch. Turcaud, Bordeaux

Stéphane Le May makes that wonderful thing; inexpensive Bordeaux. I love his red wine (€14.95), a classic light juicy dry Bordeaux, but it was one of his white wines, the Cuvée Majeure that stood out; the 2014, a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris, the remainder Sémillon fermented in new oak is a superb balanced rich textured dry white. A bargain at around €19.

Tour des Gendres, Bergerac

Guillaume de Conti, cousin of winemaker Luc de Conti was there to present these marvelous wines, amongst my all-time favourites. Both red and white offer great value. The Bergerac Rouge Classic 2014 (€15.15) was light fresh and fruity; the Cuvée des Contis Blanc fresh and textured, and the superb elegant Bordeaux lookalike, Gloire de Mon Père 2012, astounding value at around €22.


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