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Superquinn Autumn Sale October 3 – 23rd

Superquinn’s autumn French sale runs from October 3rd to 23rd. This year as well as the usual favourites at cut prices there’s a small selection of fine wines, available in their top ten stores. This tradition has been revived after I and a couple of others berated the buyer at their spring press tasting! We reminded him that the sales were originally a copy of the French Foire aux Vins where large amounts of expensive fine wines at reduced prices sold alongside the basement bargains. In the 1990s  Superquinn used to have stacks of first growth Bordeaux on the floor, which was an amazing sight in a supermarket.

A reminder about scores. 95-100 is equivalent to a gold at the IWC competition, 90-94 is silver, 85-89 is bronze, 80-84 is commended and less is not recommended.

 

Fine Wines

 

 

Wine

Score /100

Price €

Champagne Blin Limited Edition Rosé NV
Didn’t like this at all with its earthy dirity edge. Maybe a dodgy bottle.

79?

35

H. Blin Limited Edition Extra Brut Vintage 2002
Really classy smart wine with biscuit and honeyed nose combined with a citrus fresh finish & good length. Miles better than well known brands at €35-40

91

35

Ropiteau Puligny-Montrachet 2009
Pretty classic, classy stuff with nutty character and creamy notes. Maybe oak a little strong so serve it in a larger glass.

90

35

Chapoutier Condrieu ‘Schistes d’Agrumes’ 2010.Plenty of viognier character with pear and apricot

89

35

Bouchard Ainé Pommard 1er Cru 2009
Some lovely cherry perfume on the nose with some nuttiness evidence of oak. Quite full bodied with some tannin, suggesting it will age. Not bad but not fab.

89

Haut Medoc de Giscours 2009. 150cl Magnum.
Giscours own some land just outside their usual appellation of Margaux so it’s not included in the main label or ‘grand vin’. This is a touch on the wrong side of herbaceous for me in such a ripe vintage but many won’t mind that.

87

35 (ie equiv of 17.50 per 75cl)

Le Dame de Montrose 2008
Seems surprisingly developed for four years old with some savoury notes adding to the core of blackcurrant fruit. There’s still some tannin and a bit of oak. Maybe a hint of green too. Decant it for a couple of hours first.

90

35

Domaine Cristia Hermitage Rouge 2011
Not a muscular style of Hermitage but still lovely with floral aromas mixing with fruit and spice, some oak and surprisingly smooth for such a young wine.

91

35

Chapoutier Cotes-Rotie ‘Les Micas’ 2009.
A classic aromatic Northern Rhone beauty with scents of smoked meats and violets and great texture. Intense without being heavy. This is what classy syrah is about.

95

35

The Main Sale

Note that most of the wines at €7 & 8 are available at 3 for €20. There are maybe 5 or 6 wines which I was unable to rate as the sample wasn’t available or I didn’t get to it in time.

Wine

Score /100

Price €

Reds

Rare Vineyards Carignan Vielles Vignes 2011

86

6

Rare Vineyards Malbec 2011

85

6

C. Vienot GSM 2010

85

7

Classic Collection Cotes du Rhone

87-88

7

Cuvee des Amandiers Rouge 2011

84

7

Dom, Astruc Syrah Viognier 2011

90

7

Dom. Cristia Cotes du Ventoux 2010

85

7

Dom La Condamine Mourvedre 2011

88

7

Dom La Condamine Petit Verdot 2011

Faulty sample ?

7

Bourgogne Pinot Noir Coteaux des Anges 2010

85

8

Le Croisade Reserve Cabernet Syrah 2011

86

8

Chat En Oeuf Grenache Syrah 2010

85

8

Longue Dog Grenache Shiraz 2010

86

8

Ch La Mayne 2008, Bordeaux

83

8

Ch Lions Lamartine Gaillac 2011

84

8

Ch Pasquet Bordeaux Petit Verdot Malbec 2010

87

8

Corsica Nature Pinot Noir 2010

84

8

Dom des Grande Esperances Touraine Gamay Malbec 2010

84

8

Ch Lorgeril St Chinian 2011

87

8

Ch Lorgeril Cabardes 2008

86

9

Ch Pierriere 2010, Bordeaux

84

9

Dom Colonge Beaujolais Villages 2010

83

9

Ch Camplazens Marselan 2011

86

10

Bouchard Ainé Coteaux Bourguigons Pinot Noir 2011

85

10

Etienne Barret Crozes Hermitage 2010

85

11

Ch Sissan Grande Reserve 2009, Bordeaux

88

12

Dom de Brunely Vacqueyras 2011

90

12

Dom de Rothegres Moulin à Vent 2009

90

12

Ch de Rully Rouge 2009

84

12

SQ St Joseph 2010

88

12

Dom des Grande Esperances Supernova Malbec 2009

87

13

 

Whites

Rare Vineyards Marsanne Viognier 2011

85

6

Rare Vineyards Ugni Blanc Vielles Vignes 2011

86

6

Ch Lorgeril Viognier 2011

87

7

C. Vienot Grenache Sauvignon Marsanne 2011

84

7

Cuvee Des Amandiers Blanc2011

82

7

Dom Astruc Vermentino 2011

87

7

Dom Cristia Cotes du Ventoux Blanc 2011

83

7

Le Croisade Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011

82

8

Macon Lugny les Coteaux des Anges 2011

87

8

Ch Lions Lamartine gaillac Blanc 2011

86

8

Corsican Nature Muscat 2009

82

8

Dom Begude Chardonnay 2011

88-89

8

Dom des Grande Esperances Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2011

87

8

La Croisade Reserve Chardonnay 2011

84

8

C. Vienot Chablis 2010

86

9

C. Vienot Macon Lugny 2010

87

9

Coteaux de Giennois Sauvignon Blanc 2011

85

9

Bersan Sauvignon de St Bris 2010

88

10

Etienne Barret Crozes Hermitage 2011

88

11

Pouilly Fumé les Pierre Blanches 2011

88

12

Ch de Rully Blanc 2011

84

12

SQ Sancerre 2010

89

12

Dom de Roure de Paulin Pouilly Fuissé 2011

89-90

14

 

Sparkling

Cremant de Loire 1er Cru NV
rotten egg sulphide aroma but I’ve had many good bottles, so still worth a try as usually an 86/100

79?

9

Cremant de Loire Rosé 1er Cru NV

86

9

Champagne Louis d’Or NV

88

20

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Lidl Range Review March 2012

Apologies for the formatting. Done in a hurry and keen to publish Friday evening 23rd as promised on Moncrieff show. Will fix over weekend.

White Wines – Europe

 

Item Description

Price €

Score

Riesling Pfalz/Rhh QbA  2011
Attractive tangy citrus fruit, off dry, modern clean. Good.
5.99  86-87/100
Pinot Blanc Pfalz/Rhh. QbA  2010
Skightky earthy orangey fruit on nose and palate but very gulpable.
5.99  86/100
Chardonnay Vin de France 2010
clean with good peach and orange fruit. Bit of a bargain.
5.99  86-87/100
Bourgogne Aligoté AOC 2009A little nit of mineral and classic zingy acidity. Nice to see something a bit different 8.49  87-88/100
Chablis AOC 2010
Does what it says on the tin. Nothing like the earthy poor ones they used to sell.
8.99  86-87/100
Sancerre AOC 2010
Not bad, a bit light but not course and vegetal as cheap ones can be.
10.99  86-87/100
Pouilly-Fumé AOC 2010
Quite classic smart gooseberry and citrus flavours dominate with just a little grassiness. Good.
9.99  88/100
Pouilly-Fussé AOC 2009
Quite full bodied with soft buttery notes, which is just as it should be, but at a knock down price.
10.99  87/100
Chablis AOC Premier Cru  2009
Classic Chablis flinty/stony character. Not great for 1er cru but good for price.
13.99  88-89/100
Soave DOC Classico 2010
Wet and dry and that’s about it.
4.99  82/100
Pinot Grigio IGT Province Pavia 2010Simple and vaguely nutty. There are so many morte interesting cheap wines to enjoy instead of Pinot Grigio. 5.39  80/100

 

White Wines – Rest of the World

 

Cimarosa Chilean Pedro Jimenez 2010
Aromatic and orange fruit. Dry. A bargain.

4.99

86-87/100
Cimarosa Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2011.Not as characterful as 2010 but has some varietal gooseberry flavours.

5.29

85/100
Cimarosa Chilean Chardonnay Reserva Privada 2010
Distinctive oak influence but restrained showing as nut and a little toffee. A jump up from the basic, so good value.

6.99

87/100
Viajero Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Winemaker’s Selection 2009
good length with typical sauvignon flavours of gooseberry and lemon.

7.99

 87/100
Cimarosa South African Chenin Blanc Western Cape (EUA) 2011. Light and bland.

4.49

80/100
Cimarosa South African Chardonnay / Chenin Blanc (EUA) 2011. medium bodied but pretty bland.

4.99

82/100
Cimarosa Australian Chardonnay / Colombard 2010
Magnolia paint as wine. Ie it’s light and bland

5.49

79/100
Cimarosa Australian Chardonnay 2011
Old style tropical fruit Oz Chardonnay but on the light simple side, not doubt from very high yield vineyard.

5.49

82/100
Cimarosa New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011
Could be Oyster Bay or Montana/Brancott in a good year.

8.29

88/100

 

Rosé

Item Description

Price €

Score

Cimarosa Californian Zinfandel Rose  2010
Not my type of wine but if you like Blossom Hill you’ll kike this as it has that same strawberry and watermelon fruitiness.

4.69

 84/100

 

European reds

Item Description Price € Score
Bordeaux Génériques AOC 2010
Slightly stalky black fruit.

4.99

 84/100
Merlot IGP d’OC 2009
Plummy, smooth, quite good.

5.79

 86/100
Côtes du Rhône AOC Villages 2011
G.S.M. blend with  smooth tannins and good length. Flavours of strawberry and a sprinkle of spice

5.49

 87/100
Vacqueyras AOC 2010
Rich quite smooth fruit.

8.99

 87/100
Fleurie AOC 2010
Typical gamay grape nose of raspberry and cherry. Serve chilled.

8.99

 86-87/100
St. Emilion Gran Cru AOC, 2009
A lot of wine for the money with typical merlot dried fruit, some spice oak and classy length. Good.

11.99

 89-90/100
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2010
Simple, short and bland but drinkable at a party and that’s an improvement on previous years.

3.99

 81/100
Chianti D.O.C.G.  2010
The shock of the tasting. Cheap Chianti can be thin, sharp and fruitless. This is anything but with ripe fruit and soft acidity.

4.99

 87/100
Chianti D.O.C.G. Riserva 2008
Savoury cherry fruit means it’s more classic than its cheaper companion but it doesn’t give me as much pleasure.

6.99

 84/100
Valpolicella Classico DOC 2010
Attractive light cherry fruit, as it’s meant to be.

6.99

86/100
Cepa Lebrel Rioja DOCa Joven 2010
Fruity and smoot. Mod length,

5.19

 86/100
Cepa Lebrel Rioja Crianza DOCa 2008
Plenty of dark fruit with a kick of oak derived vanilla.Good value.

6.99

 87/100
Cepa Lebrel Rioja DOCa Reserva 2005.
A sort of ‘Reserca Light’ but great value with rich-ish fruit and developed savoury notes. 7.99 is a serious bargain if you like aged wine.

7.99

 88/100
Tarragona DO Reserva 2007
tempranillo/Grenache/cab blend with American oak that’s super smooth so will e a bargain crowd pleaser.

5.79

 87/100
Baturrica Tarragona Gran Reserva  2005
Age has brought some savoury ceder and leather notes but still fruity and smooth.

6.79

 88/100
Navarra DO Crianza 2008
good rich smooth fruit.

9.99

 88/100
Ribera del Duero DO Joven 2010
A touch reductive but there’s richness there too.

9.99

 87/100

 

New World Reds

Item Description

Price €

Score

Cimarosa Californian Ruby Cabernet 2010.
Stalky green fruit. Don’t go there.
5.49  78/100
Cimarosa Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon  2011
I expect off putting green unripe stalky character in cheap cabernet but this avoids it and provides ripe blackcurrant fruit. 
4.49  86-87/100
Cimarosa Chilean Merlot 2010
Am shocked to discover a sub €5 Chilean merlot that I’d be happy to drink is a shock, but this has classic varietal plum and dried fruit character.
4.89  87/100
Cimarosa South African Merlot Western Cape 2011
It has some of merlot’s dried fruit character but not a bit short and simple
5.29  84/100
Cimarosa South African Shiraz/Cabernet (EUA) 2010
A bit green, a bit tannic, a bit South African which means it lacks drinkability.
5.29  79/100
Cimarosa South African Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
It has some cabernet blackcurrant fruit but it’s short and a bit green.
5.29  79/100
Cimarosa South African Pinotage 2011
Pinotage on alabel isn’t usually a good start and this lives up to that. Simple and bland.
4.99  77/100
Fairglobe South African Fairtrade Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2011
cab and merlot should give blackcurrant and plum and this does and it’s smooth and drinkable, which is rare in cheap Cape wines.
5.99  87/100
Cimarosa Australian Shiraz 2011
Dark fruit but a toffee-ish edge that suggests it’s ageing too quickly or been subject to heat somewhere along the line is not a good sign. 
4.99  77/100
Cimarosa Australian Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Reasonable dark fruit but simple.
4.99  80/100
Cimarosa Australian Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
A bit of varietal blackcurrant but that out of place toffee character suggesting age in a young wine.
5.29  79/100
Cimarosa Australian Merlot  2011
Supple but very simple and short.
5.29  77/100

 

Sparkling

Item Description

Price €

Score

Prosecco  DOC Frizzante 2011
Has Prosecco’s typical pear fruit but very simple and short.

6.99

 79/100
Cava DO Brut
Sound fruit, as opposed to earthy as Cava can be. Soft

8.99

 86/100
Marquis de Plagne Crémant d’Alsace Brut AOC
A really pleasant surprise with attractive aromatic and citrus fruit on the nose and palate. Good wedding wine.

9.99

 87/100
Comte de Brismand Champagne Brut
Elegant if light affordable Champagne that avoids the sour green app[le character of much cheap Champagne.

17.99

 86/100

 

Spirits and Fortified Wines

Item Description

Price €

Score

Liberte White Rum 37.5%
It’s not Bacardi but it’s pretty good.

11.69

 88/100
Rachmaninoff Vodka 37.5%
Very good for entry for bottom price vodka with lovely creamy character. 

11.69

 89/100
Rachmaninoff Vodka 40%The extra abv adds depth and length and there’s no burn.

13.99

 90/100
Putinoff Premium Vodka 40%
I really like this smooth creamy and nutty spirit. Drink it neat or in martinis.

11.99

 92/100
Castelgy Club Dry Gin 37.5%
Oh no, this is just plain nasty and I’m a serious gin fan.

12.29

 70/100
Majestät Brandy 36%
Very basic cooking brandy with raisiny character.

11.59

 78/100
Vieux Garcon Cognac V.S. 40%
Not bad pure clean fruit character.

19.99

 87/100
Dundalgan Irish Whiskey 40%
A strong fusel oil like character. Powers on a bad day. Use it in mixed drinks.

15.99

 85/100
Queen Margot Scotch Whisky 40%
Simple fusel oil and peat on nose. Use for mixed drinks

13.39

 86/100
Queen Margot 8 year Scotch Whisky 40%
Classy nose of honey and light peat with smooth palate. Great value. Scotches are made by White and Mackay.

16.99

 90/100
Western Gold Bourbon Whisky 40%
Very American with burnt orange notes, toast and vanilla. Better than Jim Beam if memory serves me well.

14.99

 88/100
James Cook Overseas Rum 40%
Robinson’s sugar barley squash like character and smooth on palate.

13.99

 87/100
Dundalgan Irish Country Cream 14.5%
Creamy and smooth and enjoyed more than the higher abv cream.

6.39

 86/100
Deluxe Irish Cream Liqueur 17%
Pretty good, coffee and cream flavour.

8.79

 85/100
Romanetti Vermouth Bianco 15%
Very herbal and sweet. Not my thing.

4.79

 82/100
Armilar Ruby Port 19%
Sweet, simple and fruity.

6.49

 79/100
Tio Nico Sherry Cream 17%
Sweet, nutty, raisin and simple.

6.79

 79/100

 

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Fizzical Attraction

Copy of newsletter to subscribers to Moncrieff show:
Movies & Booze on Newstalk 106-108 FM’s on the Moncrieff Show,

It may still be November but the Christmas season is well and truly upon us with the shops full of trees and decorations and drink piled high in off-licences and supermarkets. The next six weeks will provide plenty of opportunities to party and celebrate and the sound of a popping cork is sure to bring a smile.

Champagne is the classic choice but plenty of us are feeling the pinch financially and even if we’re not it might seem a bit flash and flahulich. Either way it looks like it should be a bumper year for good value sparking wines. Champagne starts at around €20 and goes way north of that but is it possible to get drinkable sparkling wine at about €10 or less? The answer is yes, which is all the more surprising when you think that 21% of that is VAT and €4.10 is excise duty.

Champagne gets its bubbles via a second fermentation in bottle, which traps them in the liquid. This is the expensive way compared to doing it in a big tank. It’s one of the reasons it’s so expensive or so they say, but they are not unique. The Spanish do it with Cava and they do so also in the Loire and Limoux, not to mention many other countries too. Cava these days is better than ever and a far cry from the earthy dull drink of a decade or so ago. All the supermarkets should have something for under a tenner and I’ve enjoyed examples recently from M & S and Tesco. If you want a name you may recognise, although over €10, the black bottle of Freixenet is reliable as is Campo Viejo Cava, which recently won an award from Noffla.

If your budget does run to Champagne look out for Tesco Premier Cru usually €27.99 but certain to be cut in the run up to Santa’s big day and also Bisinger Premier Cru at €21.99 in Lidl, which is a leap in quality from the regular cheaper bottling.

If you intend to buy, do so before budget day (Dec 6th) as VAT and excise are odds on to rise and avoiding that would be another cause to celebrate.

Wines Tasted on the Show

M & S Prestige Cava Brut €9.49, reduced from €12.49.
Lovely fresh citrussy style.

Cremant de Loire Brut, Superquinn, €9 reduced from €17.99
Light with a refreshing lemon and apple character. Made from Chenin, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.

Saccheto Prosecco Frizzante, Dunnes €6.99
Shows the typical pear like fruit of Prosecco and is slightly less fizzy than the other two. It’s cork is held in by string not a metal cage so it avoids the tax levied on sparkling wines and saves a couple of euro.

Wine Tastings Coming Up

I’m hosting a tasting called Martin’s Christmas Crackers. It’ll feature good value wines for under €10 for a range of occasions like parties or to match withturkey. The wines (about 20) are all from the main supermarkets and tickets are
€10 each. Book online here at winerepublic.com

There are many other wine and food tasting events coming up in the next couple of weeks and
Jean Smullen lists many of them here.

www.twitter.com/thegargleguru for my recommendations on drink.
www.twitter.com/winerepublic.com for my views on wine and other rants.

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Give The Merlot A Miss

newsletter to subscribers to Moncrieff show:
Movies & Booze on Newstalk 106-108 FM’s on the Moncrieff Show,  22
nd July 2011

Give The Merlot A Miss

Despite this week’s proposed interest rate cut the economy is still in trouble and money is tight which may be enough to make you turn to drink. And if you do, the odds are, increasingly, that you’ll spend under a tenner on a style of wine you know and have tried before. It’s understandable. Most people drink within the comfort zone of the tried and tested. I mean, if you know you like Merlot why would you bother picking up a bottle of Mourvèdre or Monestrell even if you can pronounce them confidently. Wine can be a risky purchase; a waste of money if it turns out you don’t like it.

To me that seems nuts. Do you watch the same DVDs again and again or read the same book again and again? Do you even eat the same food every day? No because that would be dull and variety is the spice of life. Wine is a little luxury, a window on a different world, a different country and culture and flavour. It can be a bit of fun in these difficult times.

So red wine lovers my suggestion is that you put aside that Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot or Pinot Noir and try something new. You’ll find wines in France like Grenache or Mourvèdre but Southern European wines is the section in the off-licence to seek out.

It’s hard to pick up a bottle of Portuguese that isn’t made of something you’ve never heard of with Touriga Nacional from the Douro being a consistent winner in my book. Across the border in Spain many of us will be familiar with their main red Tempranillo but a exciting new wine on export markets is the Mencia grape from the North West.  And how many Italian grape varieties have people heard of? Sangiovese or Barbera maybe. My suggestion is to look for varitetal wines from the South and islands made from grapes like Nero d’Avola or Primitivo.

There’s a whole world out there with hundreds of grape varieties to try. I’d love to recommend the red wines of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria or Romania but you’re unlikely to find them. Oh and don’t forget Carmenère from Chile or Malbec from Argentina, both of which are easy enough to find.

My advice is to be bold to expand your repertoire and pick up a bottle of something you’ve never had before in your local supermarket or better still go into your local independent offie or an O’Briens or an O’Donovans and get talking to a passionate expert who will be only too delighted to share their experience with you.

Wines Tasted on Today’s Show

Tesco Finest Nero d’Avola 2009, Sicilia Italy €6 until August 5th, then €11.99.

A good value introduction to this dark horse of a grape. This is mid weight but they do come more richly flavoured. Expect to find blackberry and cherry-ish fruit with a liquorice like spice. One for Shiraz lovers to try.

Escondite Perfecto Bierzo 2010, Bierzo, Spain, M & S €14.99.
North West Spain’s Mencia grape is a rising star and the Bierzo region has attracted many of Spain’s leading winemakers over the last 6 or 7 years. It’s usually manages to strike good balance. It gets ripe without every getting jammy, spicy without overwhelming, firm without being tannic. All of which makes it versatile enough to drink on its own or with most meat dishes. If this is too expensive try La Mano Mencia Bierzo from simplywines.ie at €9 or Spanish Steps Bierzo from Superquinn €10.99. One for merlot drinkers.

JP Azeito Tinto 2010, VR Peninsula de Setubal, Portugal. Superquinn €6 and 3 for €15.
A stalwart of many a bargain basement basket in many an Irish wine store for the last 20 years or more and tasting better than ever and these days it’s a Superquinn exclusive. Expect to find mid weight raspberry fruit with a little pepper. Made from 70% Castelao 20% Aragonez and 10% Syrah. One for bargain hunters.

www.twitter.com/thegargleguru for my recommendations on drink.

www.twitter.com/winerepublic.com for my views on wine and life.

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Mediterranean Wines on the Moncrieff Show

This is a copy of the newesletter sent to subscribers of the Moncrieff show following the discussion on Movies & Booze on June 17th 2011

Movies & Booze on Newstalk on the Moncreiff Show 17th June 2011

Wine by The Gargle Guru  Martin Moran MW

Mediterranean Wine

The Irish have been in thrall to the New World wines of Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and the USA for over 20 years now. In that time they have blown the Europeans away and claimed over 70% market share. The fruity smooth flavours have beguiled us and made the classic French, Spanish or Italian wines look thin, tannic, fruitless and just plain hard work in comparison.
Times change though and the Europeans have had to pick up their game and develop wines that export markets will buy. Their wines these days, particularly from the warmer fringes around the Mediterranean are now fruity, smooth and often a match for the New World technocrats. And they have what I think is a trump card in an amazing diversity of native grape varieties. Wine doesn’t have to be just Chardonnay or Sauvignon for the whites or Cabernet, Merlot or Shiraz for the reds. The Euro floodgates first opened a few years ago with Pinot Grigio and Prosecco but there’s plenty more. Dunnes have decided to ride this wave by having a Mediterranean Festival, which started on June 15th and runs for three weeks. They’ve sourced a range of new wines from Southern France, Spain and Italy and offered discounts on those and others already listed.
I attended a press tasting recently in an attempt to sort the wheat from the chaff and have written it up on my blog here.There are plenty of good value wines but it’s a pity their search didn’t extend to the rest of the Med, which of course includes Greece, The former Yugoslav states, Lebanon, Israel and North Africa.
The Australians, in particular, aren’t taking all of this lying down and in recent weeks I’ve tried new Australian wines from European grapes like Vermentino and Tempranillo.

Wines Tasted on the Show

Poco a Poco Tempranillo 2010, Spain, €5.99, Dunnes
A raspberry scented fruity smooth drink from the Rioja grape Tempranillo but grown for this wine on the
Jumilla/Yecla borders in the S.E. of the country.
Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2010, Languedoc, France, €10.99 Tesco
It starts with P so maybe this could take over from Pinot Grigio. Picpoul makes the Languedoc’s fish
wine, which is to say it’s zesty, crisp fresh and dry with a lemon scent.
Vina Zoe Gran Reserva 2005, D.O. Carinena, Spain, €6.99 reduced from €13.99), Dunnes
Carinena in Northern Spain (Aragon) is, I think, an underrated region. It’s at altitude, which is good and
has a range of classic Spanish and international varieties and offers terrific value like this. Aged for 2 years in oak and then 3 years in bottle before release to give a smooth satisfying flavour. A 70/30 blend of Tempranillo  & Cabernet.
Wine News
There have been some bargain
deals from Australia and New Zealand in the last couple of years as both countries try to cope with over supply from a vine planting boom a decade ago. The latest estimates of the 2011 harvest show both up on last year. And that means depressed prices for grape growers but another year of bargain prices for consumers.
Martin Moran MW
Twitter.com/thegargleguru

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Dunnes Mediterranean Wine Festival

Dunnes Stores has A Mediterranean Wine Festival running from June 15th for three weeks and there are plenty of good value wines to enjoy. I got the chanceto try the wines at a press tasting recently and while there was very little that was amazing the wines are generally well chosen and plenty would rate as a bronze medal or so which is say 86/100 or 15.5-16/20 depending on your scoring methods.

One disappointing note is that Mediterranean has been restricted to meaning France/Spain/Italy. It could have of course included Greece, Lebanon, Slovenia, Croatia, Lebanon, Israel and North Africa. A nod towards at least Greece and Lebanon wouldn’t have been too difficult but seems to have been a step too far.

The best of the three countries featured for this critic was easily Spain followed by France with Italy the least interesting. In the notes below I’ve quoted the sale price and the alleged headline price. As ever with supermarkets the later is often a fictitious number designed to make the current price look exceptional.

Spanish wines have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and Dunnes have a few well worth buying. Nebla Rueda Verdejo 2010 (€6.99 from € 9.99) a bang on the money bronze with the kind of zesty grapefruit and herbaceous character this grape delivers. Also of particular interest is one of Spain’s other hip regions Rias Baixas, Dous Albarino 2010 (€9.99 from €15.99), another bronze. If you are looking for a party white you could do a lot worse than Gandia
Chardonnay (€5.99 from €9.99).

There are several reds at €5.99/6.99, any of which are an acceptable drink including Gandia Tempanillo (€5.99 from €9.99), Marques de Chivas 07 Utiel Requena (€5.99 from € 3.99), Oristan Reserva (€6.99 from € 13.99), Pacheco Organic Jumilla (€6.99 from €10 .99), Poco a Poco Tempranillo (€5.99 from ?) and Domaine Zoe (€6.99 from € 13.99). However I’d avoid Castillo de la Pena Gran Reserva 2002 and Altos
d’Oliva at any price.

A little further up the scale Riaza Crianza Rioja (€8.99 from €12.99) does what it says on the tin. I was less impressed with the Tinto Arroyo Ribera del Duero pair as the Joven was reductive and the Crianza a bit too hard. It’s good to see an affordable Priorat and Crossos (€12.99 from €17.99) shows that region’s intense almost sweet fruit character from the Garnacha variety.

Spanish mega brand Torres is also part of the sale and it has to be said they are one of the world’s most consistent and reliable brands. A great deal of the range is here so if yo just want an affordable wine you can be sure you’ll like (as you’ve drunk it before) grab a Vina Sol or Sangre de Toro at only €7.49 (or even €6.99 from €9.35). Personally I liked the Gran Vina Sol at €9.99 (from €12.84). The sale though allows you to trade up and explore the finer end of the range. The
Fransola 09 (€19.99 from €29.99) barrel fermented Sauvignon looked particularly good to me as did their Salmos Priorat (€19.99 from €29.99). Both would score solid silver medals for me.

There are also a couple of Spanish sparkling wines at €9.99 are competent clean but not exciting. If you just want to make a ‘pop’ noise for a minor celebration then they might be a pleasant change from Prosecco.

I don’t know if it’s me or Italian reds in general but in the last couple of years in particular I’ve found most of them to be unrewarding tasting. They just seem to be so lacking in fruit and full of tannin and acid and appear to have more faults like VA or brettanomyces than any other country in the world. I hearpeople call them ‘food wines’ but I’m sorry food doesn’t make them taste better. OK, rant over, but sadly I can’t recommend any of the Italian reds in the sale as they conformed to the above observations, even the Sicilian ones which have been a beacon of rich soft fruit in recent years. The whites in the sale are
cheap but light and simple. The Spanish ones mentioned provide much more but no doubt the sound but very simple Pinot Grigio at €5.99 will outsell everything else. The Riva Leone Gavi (€6.99 from €13.99, 1/2 price? – yeah really, not) is
the most interesting of the whites with attractive lime and pear fruit.

The French section of the sale, not surprisingly concentrates on Languedoc-Roussillon wines. There are familiar names here that rarely fail to deliver including Laurent Miquel, La Baumé and Gerard Bertrand. Oddly the two Laurent Miquel reds I liked least were the expensive ones, the €12.99 (from €17.99) St. Chinian and the Faugeres. However the €12.99 (from €17.99) Viognier Verite was stunning, a 92/100 or a solid silver. Plenty of Condrieu doesn’t give this much pleasure. Clearly his grape is a strength for them as the €9 (from €10.94) Viognier and the €6.99 (from €8.99) Chardonnay-Viognier are very good too.

The Bertrand 6th Sens wines are sound but not as exciting as his slightly more expensive Art de Vivre wines while the best of the Le Baume was the Merlot. The most interesting French red for me was the bargain Ch Milegrande Minervois (€8.99 from €15.99). It has that alluring smoked bacon character you get on Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage sometimes. But half price? No.

One wine really illustrates the folly of supermarket half price offers and it’s the Manoir Grinon Chardonnay Oak (€6.99 from €13.99). It’s frankly awful unless you want a lesson in how not to use planks or oak chips to give an oak character in
wine. I wouldn’t pay half of €6.99 for it.

So my advice if you are short on time, grab a bottle from the Spanish section of the sale and you’ll more than likely have a
hit.

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Australian Wine Tasting

Copy of mail sent to subscribers of Moncrieff show on Newstalk 106-108FM after programme on 27th May 2011

Australian Wine Tasting

The real reason Obama gave his speech at College Green and not Croke Park last Monday can now be revealed. It wasn’t because the organisers thought they might not fill it but rather that Wine Australia was hosting a trade tasting in the Hogan Stand that day.

There were less stands than usual at the show, which is probably more of a reflection on the state of our economy and our drinks importers finances than the Australian industry. Nevertheless there was plenty of good wine to try.

As ever their promotional body, while acknowledging the importance of the multi regional sub €10 brands is keen to push their higher quality region specific wines and they tend to be over €10. Sadly from my discussions getting people to part with more than about €12 or max €15 seems to be hard work these days. It’s not just about Australia. People are hanging on to their money, being less flahulach and not wanting to appear flash in these hair shirt austere times. Still, good regional wine can be found at under €12 as our tasting today will show.

The best of Australian regional styles really are worth looking out for and a notable step up from the big brands. A few regional classics to look out for include Semillon from the Hunter Valley, Cabernet from Coonawarra or Margaret River, Shiraz from McLaren Vale or Barossa, Riesling from Clare or Eden Valley and Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills.

Australia is best known for Chardonnay and Shiraz so not surprisingly the Aussies were promoting two other
grapes, Pinot Noir and Riesling to show case their diversity. A couple of Rieslings from Peter Lehmann really caught my eye this week and we’ll compare them in the tasting and see just how well they age.

Obama likes his Riesling too and drank the Alsace classic Trimbach Cuvée Frederic Emilé at his Nobel Prize
dinner.

Wines Tasted on the Show

Peter Lehmann ‘Word is my Bond’ Riesling 2007, Barossa Valley. €12.99, winetimes.ie.

It’s started to mature and the flavour has become more intense with distinctive lime zest character. Zingy fresh finish and the perfect choice on a warm day.

Peter Lehmann ‘Wigan’ Riesling 2003, Eden Valley. €24.99, Jus de Vine, Redmonds & 64 Wine.

The Wigan in question is nothing to do with the Lancashire town but named in honour of Andrew Wigan or Wiggy as he is known, the Lehmann winemaker since 1976. This has an extra dimension compared to the regular wine with a chalky mineral character and more floral notes as will as that distinctive lime character that’s common to Eden Valley Rieslings.

Dandelion Wine Shiraz 2008, Barossa, €8 reduced from €10.99, Superquinn.

The Dandelion Vineyards wines are probably the stars of the Superquinn New World sale (until 14th June). This tastes more like a €15 wine with its rich berry fruit and liquorice spice. There are also a couple of d’Arenberg wines that really should be snapped up too.

Wine News

When you are in Superquinn get details of their special offer of a discount on tickets for the Taste of Dublin food and drink event at Inveagh Gardens from 9th –12th June.

New wine retail website winetimes.ie launched this week. It’s heavy on videos compared to the more usual static wine
on the web retail experience with some good wines including the Lehmann Riesling tasted today.

Campo Viejo Tapas trail is on during June. For €20 participants visit 5 different central Dublin bars each Wednesday or Saturday and sample wine and 3 tapas. http://www.facebook.com/campoviejoireland for more detail.

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Chardonnay – A Comeback to Rival Rocky

Copy of the newsletter sent to subcribers to the Movies and Booze segment Moncreiff show on Newstalk 106-108FM on April 8th 2011.  Subscribe at winelist@newtalk.ie

Movies & Booze on Newstalk on the Moncreiff Show 8thApril 2011

Wine by The Gargle Guru Martin Moran MW

Manchester United beat Chelsea in the Champion’s League last Wednesday and while all the Red Devils’ Irish fans cheered there were plenty of others collectively known as ABUs (Anybody But United) whose hearts sank as Rooney slotted home the winner.

The wine world isn’t so different as Cabernet and Chardonnay were for years, you could say, the king and queen of grape varieties. They excel in their native French regions and have been copied, ie planted, all over the vinous world. Their relentless success though created something of a backlash with some consumers and critics styling themselves as ABCs (Anything But
Cabernet or Chardonnay). The problem for Chardonnay, in particular, was its ubiquitous nature – every country, A virtual A to Z from Austria to Zimbabwe was growing and selling it and the fact was that plenty of them were oaky,
bland and boring. They even named a character in the 2003 TV series ‘Footballers’ Wives’* after the grape while
Bridget Jones seemed to drink it instead of tea for breakfast. Anybody with any remote sense of cool switched off and bought something else. Pinot Grigio’s day in the spotlight was about to dawn, which is busy becoming almost as ubiquitous
and is even blander.

It’s time to then, I think, to rediscover Chardonnay. The classic examples, of course, never went away but the copycat ones have improved out of all recognition. The over oaked and over ripe tropical fruit bombs have pretty well disappeared. In their place we’re seeing more refreshing, lighter wines with less, if any, oak. Chardonnay from the New World these days tends to taste
of pear and peach rather than pineapple and melon and there’s rarely any chance of having to pick splinters out of your gums as the practice of fermenting with oak chips has all but ceased. The more expensive versions, fermented in oak barrels, tend to use fewer new barrels so the spicy vanilla character they contribute is less pervasive than ever and they’re getting harder to tell apart
stylistically from the original fancy French model.

Also, since the original Chardonnay girl Bridget Jones was first knocking it back new cooler climate regions making more refreshing styles have started sending wines here. If you see them, check out Chardonnay from Leyda, Casablanca, Bio Bio or Limari in Chile, from Tupengato in Argentina, in Australia from Tasmania, Margaret River, Yarra Valley or Adelaide Hills to name just a few or Otago or Martinborough in New Zealand. American versions tend to be expensive but can be very good. The wines of the north west from Oregon and Washington are especially good as are Sonoma, Carneros and Russian River in
California.

The grape’s home is Burgundy and all those famous names such as Chablis, Meursault, Macon, Corton Charlemagne and Montrachet are made using the variety and all are very different. Elsewhere in France there’s an ocean of it from the south under the label Vin de Pays d’Oc but my favourites come from Limoux, where grapes grown at cooler altitude give more refreshingly acidic and Chablis like results as shown with today’s tasting.

Even if you don’t like United, ABUs have to admit they’re good at what they do and it’s about time ABCs admitted the same about Chardonnay.

Wines Tasted on The Show

Domaine Begude ‘Le Bel Ange’ Chardonnay 2010, VdP d’Oc, €8 in Superquinn.
Grown at 1000ft in Limoux this unoaked Chardonnay also has a splash of Chenin Blanc and its deliciously crisp and fresh flavours are led by citrus and pear. A bargain alternative to Chablis. One of the star buys of the current Superquinn French sale. Great with oysters or stir-fried prawns.

Lone Range ‘Heretaunga’ Chardonnay 2009, Hawkes Bay, NZ, €11.49 in M & S.

A star turn at this week’s M & S press tasting. Made for them by this critic’s favourite New Zealand producer, Craggy Range. This is barrel fermented but it’s oh so subtle with the wood adding just a gentle nuttiness and creaminess to attractive light peach fruit. You might mistake it for a smart €15-20 Burgundy if it was served blind. Serve it with fish or chicken in a creamy sauce.

Wine News

Superquinn’s French sales is on at the moment. It’s virtually the same
as that last Octobe whichI reviewd on winerepublic.com. Dunnes too have a sale
on until April 12th. My advice is too ignore the alleged half price wines and pick up any of Gerard Bertand’s Art de Vivre
Corbieres/Minervois/Coteaux de Languedoc reds at €7 or their Portuguese reds.

Martin Moran MW

winerepublic.com
twitter.com/thegargleguru
thegargleguru.com

 

* in 2003 65 people in England & Wales called their daughter
Chardonnay or Chardonay (sic)! It was even 28 in 2008.

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Viva Espania

Copy of the newsletter to subscribers to the movies and booze newsletter for the Moncrieff Show on Newstalk 106-108FM.

Movies & Booze on NewsTalk on the Moncreiff Show 25th March 2011

Wine by The Gargle Guru Martin Moran MW

Spanish Wine

Ireland’s economy may be on its knees but we did at least have a few boom years where we managed to cobble together some kind of infrastructure, which should give us hope for the future. Fellow PIGS member Spain may also be standing in the corner in the economics class with a dunce’s hat on but they too had their own tiger years that transformed the country.

For the last 10 or 15 years Spain has been an exciting vibrant country and that has expressed itself in things like football, fashion, food, architecture of tennis but also wine too. Anyone with a semblance of interest in wine drinking should be investigating Spain, whether for bargains or top shelf treats.

Sales in Ireland may be dominated by Faustino and Torres, and they are fine, but the curious are advised to pick up a bottle of something you’ve probably never heard of. Inevitably the reds are more thrilling than the whites but any white made from Albarino from Rias Baixas in Galicia, Verdejo in Rueda or Godello from Galicia is worth opening and drinking.

Tempranillo is still king of the red grapes but not just in Rioja. It’s grown all over and standards are almost universally high but for my money the best come from Ribero del Duero.

A really fascinating variety on the rise is Mencia in the Bierzo region. I’d never heard of it until a few years ago but it has a terrific hit rate. O’Briens do one as do Simplywines.ie and Superquinn have it under the Spanish Steps label. Snap one up if you see it.

Less fashionable regions live Jumilla, Valencia, Utiel Requena or Valdepenas are turning out some stunning wines made from old vines from varieties like Garnacha, Monastrell and Tempranillo. Also expect to see a sprinkling of Syrahs and Cabernets, but usually as seasoning in a blend.

In short you’d be a dunce not to discover the wines of Spain
Wines Tasted on the Show

Marques de Riscal Rueda Verdejo, O’Briens, Superquinn, SuperValu, Molloys, Next Door &
Independents inc Sweeneys, Redmonds & Jus de Vine €11.15 –12.99.

If you like Sauvignon Blanc and looking for something similar but new than this is for you.  Verdejo delivers up a slightly riper version of the crisp green fruit associated with that grape. Great summer wine or with fish or salads.

Castillo de Luzon Jumilla 2007, O’Briens, €9.99 (reduced from €14.99 during March)

My first Jumilla, 20 years ago, came in a tetrapak and was cheap and not very cheerful. Boy how times have changed. This Tempranillo/Cabernet blend is rich and smooth and the promotional price makes this a real steal. Dust down the barbecue and open a couple of bottles soon.

 

Martin Moran MW

winerepublic.com
twitter.com/winerepublicw
thegargleguru.com

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Green Wines for the Day After St Patrick’s

Copy of the newsletter sent to subscribers to News Talk’s Moncrieff show about the wines tasted.

As a youngster Paddy’s day was, as I recall, just a one day event and wearing shamrock was about as dressy up as it got. These days though it’s morphed into a week long international festival. That means leprechaun outfits everywhere and schools closed Thursday and Friday, turning it into a very long weekend for many with more opportunities to entertain or be entertained by friend and relatives.

Drinks with Irish heritage often form the centrepiece of our celebrations. Aside from beers and spirits, many wine producers throughout the world have strong Irish connections, whether current or dating back to the famous historic wine geese era and Jean talked about some of them last week.

The theme for today’s wines is the national colour  ‘green’, which unlike green lager does not involve food colouring dye but means organic and so called ‘natural wines’. Some say that at the least they may spare you some of the headache.

Organic wines or more correctly wines made from organically grown grapes since there are no EU winemaking laws on the subject eschew the use of artificial herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. Although it’s not certified winemakers aim to use less than half the levels of the preservative sulphur dioxide permitted in conventional wines.

Natural wines are making waves in several countries, notably France and the USA but less so here, unless I’ve missed it.

It’s a loose knit, uncertified and unstructured movement but what they aim for is to create a wine that represents the character of the place, grapes and growing season as faithfully as possible with as little human intervention as possible. That will mean organically or bidynamically grown grapes. The grapes will be fermented with naturally present yeasts and nothing is added like sugar or acid or tannin. Some even avoid pumps and move wine around by gravity. Filtration is avoided or is very light and added sulphur is kept to as little as a tenth of permitted levels, if added at all. They’ve also created a new category of ‘orange’ wines, which is to say white wines made using the skins as if they were red.

They can be fragile things that need to stored at low temperatures so that they don’t referment in bottle and can  taste more like cider than wine but when they work can have an attractive freshness and personality.

If you want to know more about natural wines a good website to start at is http://www.thatcrazyfrenchwoman.com/ run by French Master of Wine and TV presenter Isabelle Legeron who is organising the UK’s first Natural Wine Fair in London on May 15th.

Wines Tasted on The Show

Organic Okhre Natur Brut Cava M & S €9.49
A great value fizz with notes of buttered toast and citrus fruits. Perfect as an aperitif or if looking for an affordable party wine.

Ch d’Orschwihr Pinot Gris Bollenberg 2009, Alsace, Oddbins* €16.09 (20% off when you buy 6 or more mixed bottles)

Pinot Gris is the French word for Pinot Grigio, only in Alsace it invariably delivers up more flavour than the sometimes anaemic Italian versions. Think of it as ‘The thinking woman’s Pinot Grigio’. This would probably be classified as ‘natural’ as it’s grown from organic grapes and has reduced sulphur use and the label’s printed on recycled paper. It’s fairly full bodied for a white and just off dry rather than bone dry and would suit a wide range of foods and could replace a red even.

*Note Oddbins has been in the news lately as they have had financial problems. They have closed 39 stores in the UK are trying to reach agreement with creditors that will allow them to continue trading, having just offered 21p in the £ to clear debts. Their 4 Dublin stores are still open but are up for sale. If a suitable buyer isn’t found they say that they’ll keep them as part of the group.

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