Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 2017

The First Monday of April came along with an unexpected rush! Sorry for the late reminder. Mind you, great turnout .....

Kevin (that's me) brought a selection of wines that had been presented to him on a recent press trip to Ribera del Duero in northern Spain. He began by giving the Club a brief introduction to what is arguably the greatest region for growing Tempranillo in Spain.

Up to the 1970's this was a very poor region with at most 4 operating wineries. Vega Sicilia didn't count! Today there are over 400 wineries and most of the best sites are planted and farmed with a fabulous attention to both detail and hygiene.

Why is Ribera del Duero such a great vineyard?

It is Spain's highest vineyard area ranging from 800 to over 1000m above sea level. This produces a truly impressive diurnal range during the growing season and an annual variation from +42 to -20celsius! ). This ultimately produces an intense concentration of both fruit and structure into the grapes which are then translated into memorable wines.  

The central part of the administrative area hugs the Duero river with just the right combination of soils that the local clone of the Tempranillo grape - the Tinta Fino (Tinta del Pais) excels in a manner not found anywhere else. (see below for a photo of a selection of soils, vistas and meticulous neatness)

Ribera del Duero was 'found' and introduced to the world by visionaries such as Peter Sisseck at Hacienda Monasterio and Pingus and also by the timeless legacy of Vega Sicilia.  Other local estates, such as Emilio Moro, that had been farmed for many generations, were then discovered by admiring overseas markets just at the right time to allow them to prosper.

Modernity and traditional values sit easily beside one another in Ribera. A great example is where Jose Moro at Emilio Moro continues to develop an absolutely incredible family winery at Emilio Moro while at the same time has developed the ultra modern Cepa21 to make a completely different style of wine. The brilliant and Venerable. The brilliant and New.


Back to the tasting!! I'll write another blog on the region. When I do, I'll let you know.

Member Deirdre brought the Mystery Bottle and chose to intoduce it half way through the tasting. Once again it was a great addition to the evening and (once again) was an honest purchase that didn't try to fool anyone. Mind you, as it was a Cotes du Rhone Villages that's exactly what it did in the end!! In blind tastings they really do have the ability to end up in Chianti, northern Spain as well as France itself.....

This was our Ribera line up:


They reflected a number of things:

Wines from Ribera are dominantly red (permitted varieties are Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Garnacha Tinto with the latter often used in the Rose styles. White wine can only be made from the local Albillo grape (see below).

Red wines
Roble /Joven: between 3 and 12 months in barrel - released young
Crianza: 12 months in barrel - released on 2 to 6 years
Reserva: 36 months in barrel and bottle with at least 12 in barrel - released 3 to 10 years 
Gran Reserva: 60 month in barrel and bottle with at least 24 in barrel - realeased after Dec 1st five years after harvest



Garcia Viadero Albillo 2016 


This is mouthwateringly superb wine. Amost no-one makes a straight white Albillo in the region. This not because they have no potential. It's because the reds are so good! That's a pity because this wine screams quality with a lifted lemon and peach bouquet and a finely sculpted palate of minerality and ripe citrus fruits. I would go out of my way to find this. Loved by the Club. see Bodegas Valduero here


Martin Berdugo Barrica 2015


Martin Berdugo has a winery that is so new it positively sparkles! (the old one burnt to the ground after a lightening strike ... )  Barrica is referred to as a 'semi crianza with a stroll in the wood'. This is intensely fruited with soft and agreeable tannins - a hallmark of the region - and a long, deeply satisfying finish.


Ribera del Duero Crianza 2013

This was a bottle from the Consejo (governing authority) and used as a 'type example' of the style and vintage. It didnt disappoint. The ageing is on both the colour (slight tawny) and the nose. Great balance in the mouth. Tannins (once again) soft and inviting while the fruit is big, broad and bold.


Martin Berdugo MB 2011

MB, we are told, is 'Sophisticated'. In fact it's more than that. It's complex also. Compared to the 2013 a softness enters the equation here. The nose has less of the onbvious primary fruits and a lot more of the rich depth associated with good ageing. Ribera wines are 'fruit forward' This MB shows why as even with ageing the quality of the Tinta Pais takes centre stage and shines through.


Valduero Reserva 2011

There is so much to talk about with Valduero that it needs to be left to another day! Welcoming, homelines, honesty, warmth, charm, integrity .... they all fit well here.. This is a wine that might very well last for the next twenty years. It is charming and subtle and packed tight with nuance.

Read more here



This was another great night at the AC Wine Club. Hope everyone learnt lots and had a great time! Next Month we are held up with the Bank Holiday Monday so we'll meet on the the second Monday of the month instead. See you all then.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March2017

Member Brett brought a mystery bottle to the Club for our March meet. It was good fun working out what it was.


It was one of these!!!

The loose (very loose) theme of the evening was to 'not to give up on a wine after a first impression'. So we had a number of wines that were sort of surprising.


Corsican Nature Muscat Doux from SuperValu  2014 €6.99
I suppose the price was because they couldn't sell it at a higher one. Probably because as the Doux tell us it's quite sweet. The gas thing in Ireland is that if we taste sweet we turn away but if we are fooled into believing that a wines sweetness is in fact its fruitiness then we love it!! Case in point are
a lot of the GAllo wines, Blossom Hill and even McGuigan Black Label.
This Muscat is a great summer time drink. Serve it ice cold to dampen the sweetness. Then enjoy its rose petal lychee style.




This contrasted (very sharply) with :

Torreon de Paredes Sauvignon Blanc
A Chilean wine from a label that always carries its fruit with distinction. This shows as a very good
halfway house between an exuberant Marlborough NZ style and a traditional more reserved one from the Loire. Lots of fresh cut grass and a crisp heart to a long finish. Nothing exceptional but well made and memorable.

Now go back to the Corsican for a reality check on sweet v fruity.


Rioja Cebrel Joven Lidl c €6

I always like this wine for its great value and honest to goodness fruit. It didn't disappoint. We then compared it to its more expensive cousin from the same store.

Cosada Morales Rioja Reserva Privada c €14
Excllent style. Lots of soft oaking has spiced up the middle palate, bouquet and finish here.  Still, most of the members preferred the Joven!


Then we had the Mystery Bottle! It turned out to be very instructive as it had been brought up from France as part of a wine buying spree in France last summer. As it was a mostly Sauvignon Blanc based wine from Bordeaux it contrasted fabulously with the riper Torreon de Paredes. (It was served here as up to now we didn't know if it was a white or a red wine!! It was:

Domaine de Ricaud Entre Deux Mers 2015
I love Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends from Bordeaux. Sadly the Semillon element is missing from so many Bordeaux whites these days. It showed well here with a fine textural palate and a stalky
mock aged bouquet. Good wine showing a bit of lees work creaming up the palate. Members twigged the Sauvignon straight away. Good for the members! Great for cheese and for ageing a couple of years.

Next up we had the Torreon de Paredes Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a wow and shows why Chile can be considered one of the finest growers of Cab Sauv in the
world. Delicous, strong and yet restrained. All round a good one.





Great tasting so far. I wanted to show how the Cabernet flavors can be rounded up. I introduced rustic elements onto the palate. To do this I opened a wine from Portugal - Porta 6 from O'Briens Wines. Great wine. Slightly roasted, very rich and yet soft tannins only. It was universally given a big thumbs up on the night.

Then I asked them to go back and try the Corsican --  again!!

Finally. I sometimes grab a bottle on the way out the door. Just so they could put the Corsican sweetness into context I brought a 10year old half bottle of Magnotta Limited Edition Sparkling Vidal Ice Wine 2006 from Canada. I'm a Canadain ice wine lover ....sin sceil eile.....

Now Vidal makes a white wine and this wine was no longer sparkling! It wasnt white any longer either!! Other words were used. Tawny, Magnificent, Sweet, Acidic, Brilliant. Raisins and light fudge compete with apricit and peach. Must be in excess of 200g res sugar per litre. Now this makes the Corsican seem positively dry!! Why is it tawny brown? No idea. The blue glass and my wardrobe should have protected it! Fascinating stuff




The AC Wine Club wuill meet again on the First Monday of April See you there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Take to the Slopes with the Wines of Austria


         My latest column for Checkout Magazine was on the Wines of Austria. I opened with, 'A few years back I was presented with a cd by Austrian wine producer Willi Opitz titled ‘The Sounds of Wine’. It was a recording of his wines as they fermented in his cellars in Illmitz near the Hungarian border. Clearly it was unique!

         This month the AC Wine Club had a look at five wines from Austria. Unique. It's a word that sits comfortably alongside most of what Austria produces. Others are Interesting, Quality and Very Food Friendly.

The white Gruner Veltliner makes up about 30% of the Austrian trade. While its hallmarks include crisp, fine acidity, peach blossom and a spiced, long finish this months' two wines from Laurenz V showed just how versatile it's wines can be.
    
Laurenz V, Singing Gruner Veltliner 2013

Blossom bouquet, gentle fresh fuit, rich crisp palate and a fine finish with distinct hints of spice.
Universally liked by the Club. Excellent lifestyle wine. Would be fabulous 'By the Glass' or at a wine bar lunch.

Laurenz V, Charming Gruner Veltliner 2008

Yes. 2008!  Does this grape age well and if so, what happens to it?  The Laurenz V website tells us that 2008 was a 'winemakers vintage'. It was a perfect harvest and the fruit taken for this wine from the Kamptal Region spent 6 months on its lees in stainless steel tankes before bottling.

Obvious darkening with slight tawny hints but still clear and attractive. Nose has some damp earth elements and a bit of empty cigarette box allied to a persistent ripe peach skin. Fabulous alert palate with soft fruit and plenty of it supported by a rich acidity. The finish was mellow! The middle palate here is truly fabulous. Does Gruner age? Yes it does!! Or at least this Charming 2008 has. (Distributed By Gilbey/Gleeson)



Domane Wachau Terrassen Riesling Federspiel 2015


Wachau is reputed to be one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. Domane Wachau is a co-op in the region and takes grapes from about 400 local farmers. That sort of makes it very, very influential. Good thing then that it's wines are so good. (recently taken on by Cassidy Wines for the Irish market)
TheTerrassen series of wines are made from grapes grown on rocky sites that are in themselves too small to make a wine. (The 'Federspiel' is a local designation of ripeness and roughly translates into about a 12.5%vol potential and uses the falcon as its sigil.) 
Absolutely fabulous wines. Loads of juicy citrus fruits with an immmensely impressive, brilliant and  balanced acidity. This is all about ripeness, freshness and length and does not show any developed Riesling effects such as old cheeses etc. Very much one for New World style aficionados.
Rabl Riesling Steinhaus


Rabl Steinhaus Riesling Kamptal DAC 2013

Imported by O'Briens Wines this is a classic where acidity meets rich ripe fruit and fair dose of ageing Riesling bouquets where whiffs of sewing machine oil fumes are noticeable. Love it. 


The term 'Minerality' is tossed around the wine trade often without having any apparent meaning. Here's a wine that might explain it! Terroir is where a wine comes from. It is the totality of its genesis. Sometimes this throws up a grape where fruit ripeness balances in with acidity in a way reminiscent of licking  freshly split limestone. I'm not talking flint here but 'tongue tingles'. That's minerality and this wine has it in abundance.   


Heinrich Red Burgenland 2015

I am an absolute fan of a number of the red grapes grown in Austria - I always hanker after St Laurent and love the Zweigelt. This Heinrich Red (Liberty Wines) is a blend where Zweigelt is to the fore (followed by Blaufrankisch and St Laurent) and shows very well with its light, almost austere, palate entry only to blossom into fresh bramble fruit. This in turn brings it back to the ripe and freshly scented bouquet. Interesting colour - rich cherry!  Really fine example of a modern wine trade. Burgenland, and epecially the Neusiedlersee in SE Austria, is home to 'ripeness'. As such, it is capable and produces some of the finest dessert wine styles in the world. It also ripens red grapes!! 
                   


The AC Wine Club meets on the first Monday of each month
Village Centre, Ardclough Co Kildare.

We know nothing. We learn lots.