Thursday, November 24, 2011

What's for Christmas? Tasting on Friday the 9th of December

Every year we are asked what's worth buying for Christmas. So, we have put together a selection of wines that are perfect for both the Christmas meal and for having around the house for that 'Just in Case Moment'. All of these will be available locally.

In addition we have canvassed each of the main retailers working in our area and have asked them for their suggestions.


So, this will be a Christmas tasting with a talk on what goes with what and why, when to throw away the rule book and how to create a few new traditions of your own!

Venue: Ardclough GAA
When: Friday the 9th of December at 8.00pm
Cost: €10.00 per person

Sparkling - Ports - Sherries - Whites - Reds and everything else.

Ardclough 2010

Friday, October 28, 2011

Discover the Wines of Chile was a Great Success

Our meeting last month was a great success. Kevin Ecock presented a power pointed presentation of the Wine Valleys of Chile and then guided us through the following ten incredible wines. Yes, TEN and the entry was only a fiver!

This was a sponsored event by Wines of Chile and the Association of Wine Educators of which Kevin is a keen member.

The wines were sponsored by local wine merchants and a number of national wine distributors. Each of these is acknowledged alongside their wines below.

The theme for the evening had been designed to show off the diversity, complexity, technical mastery and regionality of the Chilean wine trade. All of this was shown with regards to the differences each of the major wine producing valleys can display in a bottle of wine! Sounds complicated. It wasn't. It was fascinating.

Wine 1
Aconcagua Costa
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Cassidy Wines
This was probabaly the best wine to begin a tasting like this with. It is exceptional. Herbal and lime driven this is cool climate Sauvignon Blanc at it's best. Vina Errazuriz Chief Wine maker Santiago Francisco used this wine to show cool climate wine making in Chile in his Specialties range last year here in Ireland. The Aconcagua Costa is only 12km from the very cool Pacific Ocean.

Wine 2
Vina Casa Silva Reserve Viognier 2010
Febvre & Co 
For wine lovers of rich and generous Viognier. Really super ripe wine making allows the grape to express itself in a lovely, full and show-off sort of a way. It would not be possible to develop the nuances this grape shows here unless the Cochagua Valley was used with pin point precision.

Wine 3
De Martino Legado Reserva Chardonnay 2009
Febvre & Co
De Martino prides iself on being 100% organic and to only grow grapes in areas that are best suited to them ie they are terroir driven. Limari shows expertly here with its northern latitude and quick sweep to the ocean from the mountains. This does Chardonnay proud.

Wine 4:
Carmen Reserva Pinot Noir 2009
Edward Dillon and Co
Fickle grapes need the attention of great winemakers. Chile is beginning to find its feet with Pinot Noir in terms of finding cool growing sites and the attention of experts such as Carmen's Sebastian Labbe. This is great intro to what's happening with Chilean Pinot Noir but I have no doubt that in a short while we will look back on this as merely the beginning of something great.

Wine 5
Valle Central
Karu Merlot 2010
O'Briens Wines
It's easy to see why this is so popular with O'Brien's customers. It's juicy, full and tremendous value at €7.49. It's a fine example of how the Central Valley in Chile can be used well. Let's face we all want value but we also want quality. Chile can provide both.

Wine 6
Carmen Reserva Merlot 2009
Edward Dillon and Co.
I purposefully put this after the less expensive Karu Merlot. If you're asked to pay more for a wine (€12.99 in this case) it seems reasonable that you get an added dimension in the bottle. Chile prides itself on having multiple price points. Indeed it is now attempting to associate price points, style and places of origin into hierarchies that the consumer will recognise. Everyone at this tasting appreciated the careful use Carmen has made of Colchagua's sub appellations in bringing freshness and subtlety to the table. Couple this with some oak ageing and it all made sense! 

Wine 7
Vina Maipo Reserva Syrah 2009
Dunnes Stores 
This went down well. No-one could quite believe that Dunne's regularly sell this for only €8.99. Vina Maipo specialise in Syrah and when this passion is combined with Rapel valley nuances the result is consistent. Lots of true varietal character with nothing forced.

Wine 8
Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2007
Clearly a Carmenere was needed. What a great wine Pehuen is! It has a great depth of red colour and rich very dark slightly spiced dark fruits on the nose and then surprises by a smooth palate. Apalta is warm with long growing season and great night v daytime temperatures. All suited to Carmenere! 

Wine 9
Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Gleeson Gilbeys
Super counter point to the Carmenere. Not many wine clubs get to see Santa Rita quality side by side like this. Very impressive. Served slightly the wrong way around but the point was well made. Maipo and its satellite the Apalta has genuine variety exploited really well by Santa Rita's talented team of wine makers.

Wine 10
Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2008
O'Brien's Wines
What a wine to finish off with. This is big in every sense and really should be coming from the Maipo. It's also a lot of fruit and a lot of wine making packed into one bottle. Comes across as relatively young still. Good value at the €20.00 O'Brien's sell it for.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Discover the Wine Valleys of Chile - October the 5th

I am giving an exceptional lecture and wine tasting to the AC Wine Club on Wednesday October the 5th.

I will explore by a power pointed slide show and lecture the diversity of the Chilean wine trade. I intend to explore each of the main wine producing valleys both through visuals and through their wines.

It is essential to book places before hand. I have sourced some quite brilliant wine for this event. It really is not to be missed. I am being part sponsored by Wines of Chile as a member of the Association of Wine Educators Chilean Wine Lecture Programme and also by a number of Irish wine distributors and retailers. Everyone will be thanked on the night and written up into our blog report next week.  

See you all there.


May 2011 - We met on a very warm evening!

This evening was only a marginal success. The successful part of the evening was that the members who showed up were truly committed. It was an exceptional warm and sunny evening outside. We could all have stayed in the back garden so easily! The marginal part of this was that many did stay in their back gardens!!
Thanks to everyone who turned up. We had a great time. See you all again in October.

The wines were excellent and told their story well  - talented wine makers really do make a difference.

Denman Semillon 2006, Hunter Valley Australia

Bellingham Sauvignon with a splash of Semillon 2009

Katnook Founders Block Chardonnay 2008 Coonawarra, Australia

Bellingham Shiraz with a splash of Viognier 2008 Paarl, South Africa

Bellingham with a dash of Petit Verdot 2006

Katnook Founders Block Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This is not the AC Wine Club. It's an Albert Bichot cellar in Burgundy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Great News on Chile but first: We meet next Week

Our June meeting approaches! Remember we meet on the first Thursday of the month  -- except for July and August!

Meet at Ardclough GAA
Thursday June 2nd at 8.00pm
Entry: €5.00

Contact Kevin beforehand at or 087 6919191 -- This is a MUST DO. Well, it's preferable.
Everyone is welcome. It is our intention to make this the most populist, and popular, wine club in the country.

This time around we have another interesting bag of grapes to look at. We'll visit Semillon to Cortese from Tesco to South African Shiraz and Chenin from Dunnes Stores. These will fit in beautifully with Katnook Founders Block Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauv from Coonawarra. What an education!

MORE GOOD NEWS : Chilean Wines on show at the AC Wine Club

When we meet up again in September  Kevin Ecock  will present an evening on the Wines of Chile. This will be a full powerpointed, whistleblowing celebration of one of the world's top wine producing countries. The evening will have the full support of the Wines of Chile promotional body. Much more on this later in the summer.  

Kevin is a member of AWE

Monday, May 16, 2011

May Meeting ran into a few fences at Punchestown!

I should have known that Punchestown would deplete our numbers. No harm. We garnered a lot of good will by meeting no matter what.

Our May meeting was designed to support local retailers. Support in this sense meant tasting wine with the retailer in mind as much as the producer or the grape type. I think it's important to understand the difference between wine retailers and how they piece their portfolios together. I also think it's very important to recognise what an incredibly good wine retail scene there is in Ireland. We lack for nothing!! Not bad for a non wine producing, under populated, small island off the west coast of Europe.  

I coupled this idea with a few grape types that we haven't looked at yet. I can sense a new Fact Sheet coming along nicely for next month!

Curious Moscato 2010 Victoria, Australia  €7.99
This style of wine is all the rage in Australia. Curious Moscato has only just been introduced to Ireland. alcohol, high fruit content, a touch of sugar and a good dose of balancing acidity. The fruit here is exuberant with loads of aromatic rose petal, rich honey dew melon, ripe peach and so on. Very well received. Suited best to al fresco barbecue dining in summer sunshine. Serve well chilled. Alcohol content is only 5%  making this a wine suited to modern and busy lifestyles.

Zonin Prosecco Spumante Brut Italy     Specially Selected by Superquinn   €12.00 down from €14.99
In tip top condition. This is fully sparkling, shows a fine mousse and beading. (Now we all know what these mean!) Great depth of light peach and melon to the Prosecco with rich autolytic effects punching through. ie good yeasty bread tones. Once again very well liked and reckoned to be super Value for Money.  

Chanson Macon Villages 2009 Burgundy, France    O'Briens Wines. €9.99 down from €11.99
This divided the camp. One half loved its nuttiness; the other was looking for more fruity notes from the Chardonnay and put the nuttiness down to astringency. The appellation is well known for ripeness allied to delicacy and minerality. This came scross as bit stalky. Lovely presentation!

Sparina Vineyards

Villa Sparina Gavi 2009 Piedmont, Italy    Superquinn  €12.00 down from €13.99
A wow. Well liked. Bottle is tremendous - great to see on a supermarket shelf! This shows of the Cortese grape at its best. Has a fine depth of unusual fruit where dried peach skin meets haunting honeysuckle. Really good food wine. Needs to keep its price down to win friends. Great ambassador for Gavi.  

Chanson Fleurie 2008 Burgundy, France    O'Briens Wines  €9.99 down from €16.99
This was a winner though many would have preferred to have had a meal with it! Not a simple wine at all but shows how interesting the Gamay grape can be. Rustic background with a firm structure married well to a bouncy fruit where soft small fruit flavours mingle - raspberry with a touch of super ripe gooseberry and a lashing of banana fool. Really good value at the price.   

Torres Coronas Tempranillo 2008 Catalunya, Spain   Widely Available €10.95
This came as a pleasant surprise to everyone. I was very pleased with it as a good intro to the Tempranillo grape. Most were unfamiliar with Tempranillo even though they had drunk it many times and noone associated Torres with it as a grape! A bit of education/marketing required me thinks. Classy wine maker Miguel Torres makes a simple and yet very enjoyable wine here. Some earth character mixes well with understated and soft fruity notes. Fine structure and finish. Excellent teaching wine.  

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2008 Tuscany, Italy   Widely Available  €17.99
I am a real fan of this wine. So I was thrilled to show it. Everyone appreciated it but not everyone enjoyed it - and that was the reaction I'd hoped for. This is not a wine where Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot has been blended into it to make it popular. No. It's unadultered Sangiovese bravado. Old teapot, ripe spiced wine with oodles of interesting fruti. Really classy. 

Last Weeks Leinster Leader gave us a mention and a fresh surge of interest!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

May 2011 Meeting Details

Our second evening approaches! The response to the AC Wine Club has been so positive that we need to take advance bookings for the May session - otherwise we won't have enough glasses or indeed wine. It was dodgy enough with the glassware last time around..... 

Meet at Ardclough GAA
Thursday May 5th at 8.00pm
Entry: €5.00

Contact Kevin beforehand at or 087 6919191 -- This is a MUST DO.
Everyone is welcome. It is our intention to make this the most populist, and popular, wine club in the country.


I thought long and hard about what wines to show this month. Well, not really. The topic was 'suggested' to me last month when I found myself fielding questions about what's worth buying locally. So, this month all of the wines are available locally, are all good value and hopefully brilliantly made also.

Just to spice things up our final wine will be served blind. This will be blind to me also. It really is the best way to learn, to make a complete ass of yourself and have the best fun of all .... many would say I've been doing all three for years.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Inaugural AC Wine Club Tasting!

Thanks to everyone who turned out yesterday on a spectacularly warm and wonderful evening here in Co. Kildare. It was a great session. We are now up and running. Membership is open and we will meet on the first Thursday of each month at 8.00pm in the GAA at Ardclough.

I kept our first session confined to a populist range of wines that showed us a range of grape types, wine making style and country of origin  influences.

I then introduced my new, and fabulous:
ACWine Club Fact Sheet no 1: Tasting
ACWine Club Factsheet no. 2: Grapes.
You've just gotta join to get your hands on them!

Highlight of the night was when I brought up the concept of a Classics Tasting later in the year. Mind you a Champagne Tasting suggestion went down pretty good as well!!

The Wines last night:

Seifried Pinot Gris 2007 Nelson New Zealand Food friendly style with emphasis on savouriness. Perhaps a tad too old allowing acidity to mask the fruit. I have tasted more recent vintages of this and normally find it excellent. Really got our first discussion going well - everyone found their acid taste buds! I met, and interviewed, Chris Seifried in Dublin last year - genuine guy.

Les Jamelles Chardonnay  2009 Vin de Pays d'Oc France Soft and accessable wine with ample fruit for the price. This brought a great debate re chardonnay into focus. I'm still on a chardonnay roll and want everyone to try as many as possible. Bring Chardonnay back - I nearly said, 'in from the cold' ,but aren't cool vineyards giving a lot of Chardonnay's reputation back to it as a brilliant grape! les Jamelles is widely available.  

Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 California Last month I met, and interviewed, Stephanie Gallo. Really nice lady. Last year I was lucky to do likewise with Chief wine maker for Gallo, Cal Dennison. I say lucky because I have been fan of what Gallo has achieved for many years now. I understand their ideas behind wine styling and I have very little time for critics who dismiss their wines without even tasting them! This wine did not disappoint. As with all things Gallo it is very well made and appeals to a wide audience with a full, slightly fat fruit and a touch of residual sugar. Commercial and popular. Brilliant teaching wine. 

Marks and Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Margaret River Western Australia I admit that most of the Club last night were not as familiar with Marks and Spencers' wines as I had expected. That should change with M&S's new initiative utilising the skills of the members of the Association of Wine Educators. I hope so because wines like this should not be left to a chance purchase. They should be sought out, nay hunted down! This was brilliant fruit aged to perfection in both oak and bottle.

Michel Torino Coleccion Malbec 2010 Colchagua Valley 1700 metres Argentina If any area of the world expresses its location through its wines it really must be these fabulous high altitude ones out of Argentina. The depth, smoothness and sheer enjoyability of this wine is exceptional.
Muriel Rioja Crianza 2007 Rioja Spain This was my first introduction to this wine and I wasn't dissapointed. This shows modern and inviting soft fruits galore and yet has a good traditional oaking and velvet smoothness. If the previous wine was supposed to show off provenance and this one, wine making then both were very much on top of their game.  


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Night Out for the New Ardclough Wine Club - Call us AC for short!

Welcome to the AC Wine Club. Our first night will be on Thursday the 6th April. Our theme, as always, will be populist and so what better way to begin than to look at wines that are based on widely available and likeable grapes!

This Club is a new venture based on the age old premise that wine is fun as well interesting!
Wine Clubs work because they bring people and wine together in a setting less formal than the classroom.
The AC Club was first suggested by students at my Wine School in's taken me a while! Oh, I'm Kevin Ecock and I'll run the AC Club for the first year.
The inaugural meeting of the AC Club will take place on the first Thursday of April 2011 at the Ardclough GAA at 8.00pm

How does it work?
Once a month for ten months of the year (no-one will come in the summer!) we will get together to Swirl, Spit and sometimes Swallow. There will be at least six wines shown, to a theme, each month. So, Rocking Reds from the Rhone, Stunning Style from the McLaren Vale or Sparkling Wonders of the World may indeed all feature.
An expert - most likely me! - will guide the group along. Everyone will be expected to shout out, criticise, praise, damn, remember and often enjoy as many wines as we can get around to. This is easily the best and least expensive way to try loads of wine styles at all price levels. This will not be a stuffy Club and is suitable for absolute beginners!
Membership will only cost 50Euro per year plus 5Euro per evening. So even if we turn up every month through the whole year the total cost will only come to about a hundred. In the meantime I can guarantee that you will have easily tasted in excess of a thousand Euros worth of vino! It's that simple - oh, and along the way you will transform yourself into an accomplished wine taster. Now, that's value.

Contact me at 087 6919191 or at