The Corkscrew Wine Blog

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Friday 8th February 2019 - Anna Hickson

 

Tindall’s 2019 Portfolio Tasting(Part 2):

 

Following on from wednesday’s post with a few more recommendations from Tindall’s 2019 Portfolio.

 

Beginning with another gem from the mighty Antinori empire: Conte della Vipera 2016 comes from Castello della Sala, a medieval hilltop manor in Umbria. This is a refreshing blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the typical White Bordeaux duo, and a reminder of their chemistry as a blending pair. The savoury, herbaceous quality of Sauvignon Blanc is tamed by the weightier Semillon which lends its golden colour, body(alcohol) and rich tropical fruit. Semillon can sometimes overpower but not here. Instead it barely makes itself known, playing a secondary role in balancing its zesty partner. The end result is a bone dry wine with bright acidity and sour-citrus flavours(grapefruit and lemon). The wine’s pronounced salinity is thought to be influenced from the marine fossils in the soil - it’s the first thing you’ll notice! Locals might drink this with freshwater trout from the Umbrian mountains but Irish rainbow trout will do the job, both cheap and in-season! Try grilled with lemon and rock salt. Or perhaps Umbricelli(Umbrian tagliatelle) with lemon and artichokes...

 

Moving onto something quite different altogether: Petite Arvine 2017 from Domaine Rene Favre et fils. Petite Arvine is an indigenous grape from Switzerland which reminds me of Gewurztraminer with its aromas of spiced ginger, grapefruit and honey. On the palate, honey fades to peach, balanced with delicate acidity and a distinct mineral undertone. This is a wine for Asian cuisine like chicken or tofu with plum and ginger sauce. A boutique wine for those of you who like to veer off the beaten track.

 

Deep in the heart of the Petit Causse, the most western part of the Languedoc, lies Clos Centeilles. Patricia Boyer-Domergue is the leading force here, quoted to be “allergic to classic” according to her very charismatic daughter, Cecile, a reference to her mother’s bold and innovative wine-making choices. For instance she chose against the use of oak to mature both the single varietals Carignan and Cinsault because she believes the grapes have plenty of character as they are. Generally these grapes are blended with other Languedoc varieties(by law in the region) but once minimum quantities are met, producers can choose to make limited editions using single varietals. Boyer-Domergue also decides to press a portion of her barrels using the traditional punching down with feet(pigeages), an image which always reminds me of Pretty Woman.

 

‘Carignanissime’ 2014 is 100% Carignan from bush vines up to 100 years old. Also known as Gobelet pruning(the way the Romans pruned!), the vines are trained down to a short trunk and are pruned to a few spurs arranged in a sort of circle like the shape of a goblet. The bush, which is low to the ground, creates a canopy shading the grapes from harsh sunlight. This results in a smaller crop and grapes with much more concentration! The grapes are handpicked and the wine contains no yeasts or sulphites - none! The character is rustic but fruity with flavours of licorice root and ripe red fruit(raspberries, strawberries) with rich, round tannins.

 

If you prefer something a little more herbal, the ‘Campagne de Centeilles’ 2012 is an option. Produced from 95% cinsault, the grapes here are destemmed and pressed by foot(pigeages). The colour is garnet and deep with dried mint and liquorice coming up on the palate. This is rich and spicy and would pair well with a roast dinner(beef with thyme and madeira sauce). Beetroot being both sweet and earthy would work as a vegetarian base, maybe in a tart with goat’s cheese and sage.

 

And that’s a wrap! As always, get in touch if you need any more information on the wines mentioned.

Castello della Sala

Wednesday 2nd February 2019 - Anna Hickson

 

Tindall’s 2019 Portfolio Tasting (Part 1!)

 

This week I’ll be reviewing wines from Tindall’s Portfolio tasting in two parts. This is the problem with having too many favourites, brevity becomes a hopeless aim! As it happens, I’ve only mentioned reds here but these are all very suitable wines for this time of the year - rich and warmly spiced.

 

A brief note on Tindall’s introduction to their 2019/2020 wine list before we get onto the wines. As I read through their tasting brochure I was surprised to see that even the most prominent and traditional importers have to acknowledge the demand for natural, ‘clean’ wines from both a market and an environmental perspective. They point out that many producers in their portfolio have always leaned closely to a minimal intervention approach, even before the certifications for organic and biodynamic became de rigeur. Good producers generally take great care of their land because they intuitively understand the importance of terroir(indigenous grapes and soil, native yeasts, organic fertilizer). Many of the wines in their Portfolio are organic and biodynamic certified and out of those I tasted, none showed anything off-beat. These are all very orthodox in style proving that wine needn’t succumb to the current gastronomical trend for natural-tasting wine which can require some palate readjustment, to put things politely! The following are all interesting, timeless wines.

 

“Trends come and go: Many of our producing partners have been farming for generations and will continue for many more; they aren’t swayed by short-term fads”

 

Something Fragrant:

One such example is the Clos des Quarterons vineyard which has been a part of the Amirault family for six generations and is currently 100% certified organic. They also practice biodynamic farming. For anyone who doesn’t know, Bourgueil must, by law, contain approximately 90% Cabernet Franc, a grape who is father to the more rugged, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon and I find it to be one of the most interesting varieties to taste. Both of the Bourgueils were a thrill to try - perfumed and precise. Their first wine, ‘Les Quarterons’, is unoaked. Black fruit and violet aromas waft liberally from the glass. The purity and concentration is remarkable considering a very bad frost destroyed 90% of their yield in 2016. The second wine ‘Vielles Vignes’ is lightly oaked and fuller in body(the grapes come from old vines with an average age of 55 years). The result is a deep, dense and spicy character. Both wines show fresh acidity and distinct floral aromas. Drink with lighter meats like chicken, pork and lamb to retain the wine’s fragrance. A young sweet cheese would pair well too(I love Schnebelhorn! - a decadent cream-infused Swiss cheese from high altitudes).

 

Something Classic:

Moving eastwards to Tuscany, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed by Marchesi Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2015, the almighty Tignanello’s 2nd Cru. Notably soft and smooth, the representative at the table informed me that Marchesi Antinori is credited with ‘taming Sangiovese’. The fruit shows signs of maturity with dried black fruit(prunes, baked juicy raisins) showing up on the nose and palate, accompanied by savoury(pepper), metallic and saline qualities. An intriguing, complex blend of flavour and a pity to spit out! Pair with a rich Italian tomato sauce like a slow cooked Ragu or a vegetarian porcini and lentil alternative.

 

Something Interesting: Tasting the Prunotto Barbaresco(2015) was a learning curve for me. The flavours are unique, less familiar and quite difficult to pin down. The colour is garnet, almost copper and very clear. Apparently this is typical of the Nebbiolo skin. Stewed red fruit flavour predominates, particularly strawberry accompanied by cardamom-like spice from the oak. Although this is quite full bodied, the grapes go through a de-stemming process removing many of the bitter tannins. I mostly associate Nebbiolo with the prestigious Barolo(tannic, earthy, ‘masculine’) so I was pleasantly surprised to try a Barbaresco. If anyone would like a very approachable introduction to Nebbiolo, you should start here!

 

In the next post, I’ll review two very different whites, Castello della Sala Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Arvine Domaine Rene Favre et Fils and two single varietals from Clos Centeilles in Minervois. As always, if any of these wines peak your interest, get in touch with us over the phone or pop into our store on Chatham Street.

Vineyards of Prunotto

Clos des Quarterons vineyard

Thursday 31st January 2019 - Anna Hickson

 

Women in Wine! Australian Trade Tasting 2019

 

Last Wednesday I sipped my way around the annual Australia Wine Tasting at The Mansion House on Dawson Street. 30 out of 65 Australian wine regions were represented - a wide range in terms of climatic influence and style. The spotlight fell in the middle of the room on The Women in Wine Focus Table, an impressive exhibit from some of the female winemakers leading the way. A number practice organic and biodynamic viticulture, a rapidly growing and very necessity trend.

 

One such winemaker is Stephanie Toole from Mount Horrock’s Winery. The ‘Watervale’ McLaren Vale Riesling 2017 is pleasant and understated, demonstrating the elegance Australian Riesling can achieve. I noted slight oxidation on the nose although this didn’t reappear on the palate. This is by no means a flaw in the wine, in fact, Toole, well on top of the current trends, employs minimal intervention (no acidification, no fining) and her vineyard is certified organic. This can often cause wine to display a soft aroma of vinegar. To taste, this was bone dry with each layer of flavour accentuating this further- lemon pith, sour grapefruit, bitter almond and a final layer of crushed stones. This is light but masculine and would pair well with oysters or clams. Prominent acidity will support long ageing. One to crack open in the warmer months!

 

Toole’s ‘Alexander’ Shiraz was just as graceful with dense cooked black fruit (blackcurrant, black cherries) coming through in abundance along with a hint of star anise. The is one of those wines with the kind of complexity in both flavour and texture that extends the tasting experience, with full and generous tannins carrying sweet spice and black pepper into a long, memorable finish… Drink with grilled or charred beef and vegetables like aubergine and mushrooms.

 

Another star for me was Vanya Cullen who resides in Wilyabrup, Margaret River, where she runs her vineyards and winery at a picturesque site distinguished by steep cliffs. Cullen took over the position as chief winemaker and managing director of the estate in 1999. Her vineyards are certified both organic and biodynamic: an approach which prioritises sustainable soil fertility (no additions of yeasts or acids) and works in accordance with the rhythms of nature. Taste the wines and you’ll agree the care and effort is well worth it!

 

Cullen’s ‘Red Moon Mangan Vineyard’ Malbec and Petit Verdot 2017 appeared bright in the glass with that familiar magenta rim from the Malbec. The nose is delicate, developing notes of red cherries. Bold tannins and plenty of freshness makes this a real contender for ageing and time will help the flavours mellow. We currently stock the 2016 Mangan Vineyard (Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot) which James Halliday awarded a smacking 96 points! “A 78/15/7% blend, matured in French oak (34% new) for 7 months. Bright crimson-purple hue; a super-fragrant bouquet, followed by an immaculately balanced and structured palate full of juicy red fruits. Terrific value, drink any time over the next 20 years.”

 

We stock a range of wines by both Cullen and Toole. Please enquire within The Corkscrew for any of the wines mentioned.

Riesling Vineyard (organic, biodynamic) at Mount Horrock's

Stephanie Toole from Mount Horrock's


 

Wednesday 30th January 2019 - Anna Hickson

 

Wine of the Week:

 

Moreish Monastrell It’s cold out there and it’s set to get colder! Why not cosy up in front of the fire this week with a glass of ‘La Sonadora’ Monastrell(aka Mouvedre)? Made by Irish wine producer Simon Tyrrell, these grapes come from a single vineyard of higher altitude in Yecla, deep in the Spanish South. Higher altitudes, especially in such hot conditions, help to retain freshness in the wine and allow the grapes to ripen slowly avoiding jammy notes. We were blown away by this when our friends from Tindall’s brought it in for tasting. The aroma of black and blue fruit is pronounced reminding me of Malbec. To taste, it is medium in weight with bright fruit coming through, followed by liquorice and black crushed pepper. The texture is smooth, the tannins fine but present. Drink with red meat and pepper sauce or for a vegetarian option, the fruit would hold up well to fresh goats cheese - perhaps a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tart.

 

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Tuesday 27th January 2019 - Anna Hickson

 

Findlater’s 2017 En Primeur and Mature Burgundy Tasting.:

 

How often here in Ireland do we get the opportunity to taste and compare a wide selection of Burgundy vintages? The production is low relative to other wine producing regions like Bordeaux due to Burgundy’s equal inheritance laws which has resulted in the scaling down of vineyards into smaller and smaller parcels of land. Pair this with high demand for the big names and tastings don’t come cheap.

 

This Tuesday provided an opportunity we couldn’t miss: Findlater’s 2017 En Primeur and Mature Burgundy Tasting held in the peaceful function roomupstairs at Brookwood Restaurant, showcasing some of the best from Maison Louis Jadot. Peter Roycroft, Findlater’s fine wine manager, greeted me warmly and explained the layout of the wines - I was (eagerly) the first to arrive. Peter advised to start with the en primeur whites ands reds. For those who don’t know - the term en primeur refers to wine that is still in the barrel with a portion released to negociants before bottling to gauge customer reaction. The 2017s will need time to develop fully but it’s always fun to experience a wine at different stages of its journey.

 

The Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2017 was one of the first I tried - ‘Fourchaume’ being the name of the Premier Cru vineyard. If you like an oaky Chablis, this is your guy - expect yeasty aromas with a grippy, mineral-driven mouthfeel. The Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Referts 2017 appeared faint on the nose so I was surprised by the intensity of flavour. This example lives up to Puligny’s reputation for lean, angular Chardonnay - chillingly stony with lemon citrus dominating. Combine this with searing acidity and the mouth is left puttering long after. So I was more than happy to move onto the Meursault expecting riper fruit, vanilla, cream and a softer texture; they often remind me of lemon curd pie. We had the chance to compare the 2017, 2016 and 2015 Meursaults. Both 2017 and 2016 showed serious length and generous ripe fruit. The 2016 received a big smiley face in the margin of my tasting notes - bursting with flavour, this beauty fills the mouth broadly with layers of lemon and peach with an impression of crushed stones that is immediately present. The Meursault Clos du Cromin 2017 shows great promise and should live up to its 2016 precedent. The 2015 was lean and less fruit driven with a distinct aniseed flavour, like crushed green fennel seeds. Astringent acidity leads to a mouth watering finish and offers structure and potential for lengthy ageing. Now onto the reds.

 

Red Burgundy, by law 100% Pinot Noir, really shouldn’t be consumed young, nevertheless it is always interesting to observe how vastly different the new vintages compare to the mature. The Volnay showed more concentrated fruit than the Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petite Chapelle whose character resembles more tart cranberry than ripe strawberry. It’s hard to imagine how the Gevrey-Chambertin can transform into something like its 2013 older brother. Age was evident from the aroma of the 2013 GC with that distinctive wet leaf, farmyard whiff that Pinots often develop over time and the colour has mellowed into a soft brick hue. The fruit here was very well integrated and the body unexpectedly full for a Pinot, however the texture remained soft and silky. The real winners for me were the Corton Grand Cru 2016 and Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2011, which showed little difference despite the gap in age, demonstrating how well a Pinot can mature from a better vintage. Expect cooked dense fruit, mainly red plums and soft tannins. The 2011 has quite a decent weight, presumably from its time in oak, which carries all the flavour into a memorable finish. I noted that minerality was less obvious in the 2016 with sweet spice dominating like cinnamon and liquorice.

 

These are just a selection of my favourites from the offering. I reached the mature Beaujolais last by which stage my palate had reached sensory overload - in the best possible sense! Made traditionally, without Carbonics, they seemed to receive a positive reaction. I’m looking forward to trying the 2017s in five years to see how they get on! Watch out next year for their release here at The Corkscrew!