Monday, April 27, 2009

Guest Blogger - Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001

I had a request from my friend June to blog about a wine she sampled in Shanahans over the weekend, so over to you June...

Name: Finca Valpiedra Reserva
Year: 2001
Price: €45 
Notes: Obviously you can't avoid the restaurant mark up but it was lovely, very rich and smooth with spicy backnotes.....Went very nicely with the steak and would definitely order it again.....would buy it if I saw it in a shop (I'd imagine it probably retails at about €20)......
Rating: 7/10

Willie says - I'm a big fan of Shanahans food & wine but not their prices. One of my favourite wines is Lytton Springs from Ridge Vineyards in California. €89 in Shanahans, €60 in Town Bar & Grill, €30 in a shop*. I can do a 100% markup but 200% is taking the piss. 

* I don't think this is still on either wine list anymore...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tesco Wine festival 2009 - Revisited

Had another look around "Tesco Wine festival 2009 " in the Merrion centre today, on the off-chance that I missed something last week and I did manage to find a couple of interesting items.

1) Tesco Argentina Malbec Reserve 2008. (at left)
I saw this in Mary Doweys 101 Great Wines under €12. I've never tried it but as I am a fan of Argntinian Malbecs and this wine was priced at a mere €6-69, I could hardly refuse.

2) Chateau Cazal Viel Saint Chinian Cuvee des Fees 2006 (at right)
Also in Mary Doweys 101 Great Wines under €12. I have been a big fan of this wine since I saw it lauded in the Irish Times (I think) about 5 years ago. We haven't had it for a while but at €10-99 it's great value. It's from the Languedoc and is made from the classic Rhone varieties Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.

Marks and Spencer Vinalta Malbec

This was a present brought by our neighbours  last Saturday. The M&S website says of this wine  - "A juicy Malbec with plum and spicy flavours. It was made by Hervé and Diane Joyaux Fabre in Mendoza, using fruit from 15 year old vines. The vineyards were planted at an altitude of 1200m, which brings cooler temperatures to ensure freshness. The wine was left un-oaked."

Name: M&S Vinalta Malbec
Year: 2008
Price: ???
Notes: Like the blurb says, this was a medium bodied, spicy, plummy wine. Easy to drink and I suspect would go with most red wine type foods. Perhaps this was missing some of the depth of flavour of some other recent Malbecs I have had, but if you are new to Malbec or you saw this at a reasonable price then you won't go too far wrong.
Rating: 6/10

Marrenon Private Gallery - Grenache Syrah

At the "Tesco Wine festival 2009 " in the Merrion centre last Sunday I bought  a Private Gallery - Grenache Syrah from Marrenon in the Cotes du Loberon, reduced to €8-99 from €15-99.

Name: Marrenon  Private Gallery - Grenache Syrah
Year: 2008
Price: €8-99 reduced from €15-99
Notes: Another decent French wine. This showed the value of decanting. For various, frankly boring, reasons I was only able to decant this for a few minutes before drinking it. Initially this was 
thin and a little sharp with some French fruitiness to the fore.  However after a while the sharpness faded somewhat and some lovely Rhone-ish dark fruits became noticeable. As with so many recent wines, at the reduced rice its worth a punt but at €15-99 I'd find it hard to justify. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Rating: 5/10 (6/10 at €8-99)  

Note: apologies for the crappy quality picture.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rizzardi Munus Badolino II - Revenge of the Sausage

On the QT , I bought another bottle of this, on Saturday in O'Briens, again for €12-99, reduced from €19-99, if you read the last post on this wine, we ended up pouring it down the sink as it initially tasted of sausages and we couldn't get past that taste. I couldn't blind taste myself but I poured some for Herself and she didn't complain, she even guessed the country right.

Again there was a strong spiciness to this  light to medium bodied wine but not a huge amount else, I thought.  A pleasant wine, but nothing more, perhaps worth a try at €12-99, if this style is your cup of tea but two strikes and I'm out...

BTW - Had a quick look around "Tesco Wine festival 2009 " in the Merrion centre on Sunday. Not too much for me here. Lots of the regular Tesco wines have been discounted but as I don't care for most of their range (worthy of a long post some day), I wasn't tempted. The only wine I did buy was a Private Gallery - Grenache Syrah from Marrenon in the Cotes du Loberon, reduced to €8-99 from 15-99.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lucien Lardy Fleurie

At the end of another Saturday dinner, we broke this out after a couple of bottles of my current fave Protocolo*. The Protocolo is a big wine and I would not normally attempt to drink a lighter wine after a couple of bottles of heavy wine, but this Fleurie managed this difficult feat of not being overpowered.

Note - I didn't buy this wine, it was brought by one of our guests. I would not normally buy a Fleurie as I have often found them to be too lightbodied for my tastes, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Name: Lucien Lardy
Year: 2007
Price: €18-99 from Spar
Notes: A classic French wine. Yes, it was light but it made up for it with  lovely fruity, floral flavours and some nice depth. This would be a nice change of pace for someone like me who would not normally venture into Beaujolais.
Rating: 6/10.  

*Some people at the table handled their wine better then others, not looking at anyone in particular...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Argento malbec

This is the third (of three) reviews of wine I bought in O'Briens on Saturday (on right in the picture).

Year: 2006
Price: €7-50 (reduced from €8-99)
Notes: This is a very pleasant wine, not a fabulous, "oh my god" wine, but a good solid everyday wine. Initially it's spicy in the mouth, giving way to some dark fruits and a slightly alcoholic wash but well balanced nonetheless. At this price it would be harder to find a better everyday wine.
Rating: 7/10.  (extra point for Value)

Next: I'm going to hit Tesco for their "Wine Festival 2009" this weekend and make a few purchases.

Artiga Garnacha 2006

This is the second (of three) reviews of wine I bought in O'Briens on Saturday (on left in the picture).

Year: 2006
Price: €8-99
Notes: Another OK wine from O'Briens. This was medium bodied, with a little spiciness, not much in the way of fruit and a decent, rounded finish. Perfectly drinkable and not bad value at €8-99, but not a wine I'd be in a hurry to buy again.
Rating: 5/10.  

Next: The Argento Malbec

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rizzardi Munus Badolino

Went to O'Briens yesterday as they were having one of their periodic sales, which have proven to be good value in the past. So I bought three reds, from left to right..

1) Artiga Garnacha 2006   €8-99
2) Rizzardi Munus Bardolino 2006 €12-99 (reduced from €19-99)
3) Argenta Malbec €7-50 (reduced from €8-99)

We drank the first of these last night...

Year: 2006
Price: €12-99 (reduced from 19-99)
Notes: This smelled nice as I decanted it although it looked a little thin. A couple of hours later we sampled it and the overwhelming flavour was of sausages. Yes, sausages. I don't know if this was because of what had just eaten (Salmon fish cakes) or some other contamination but that is the flavour we got, a spicy, fatty taste that was unpleasant in a wine. Even without this I don't believe this wine had much to offer, but as we couldn't get past the sausage flavour we may never know, as we poured about half of it down the sink. Perhaps we just got a bad bottle, and judging from the blurb on the O'Briens website I'm guessing we did,  but I'm not sure I'd spend €12-99 (definitely not €19-99) to find out.
Rating: 3/10.  

***Update*** - This wine was the "to buy" wine as picked by Tomas Clancy in the Business Post and he said the following (shows you what I know)...


Guerrieri Rizzardi, Munus, Bardolino Superiore Classico 2006 €13 (down from €20), O’Briens off-licences and selected wine shops (89) When wine which is as well made and complex as this one is discounted by €7 per bottle (until May 4), don’t just visit the wine shop – run there. Only 1,000 or so cases of this wine are made each year, making it as small as many Burgundy cult wines. This blend of four grapes is predominately made from Corvina, the basis for Amarone and Valpolicella. 

The wine is savoury and brooding, blue-purple in the glass. The palate is deeply savoury, and velvety soft and shimmering. There is bright cherry, touches of spice and gamelike notes, and a chocolate and cherry burst at the finish. A polished fine wine that demands a Venetian risotto with asparagus, or very crumbly lamb."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Campo Viejo Reserva 2004

Name: Campo Viejo Reserva
Year: 2004
Price: €12 (approx)
Notes: This wine is generally a go-to wine. If this is the only familiar wine available, it's a safe bet, a solid oaky Rioja for reasonable money. We were a little disappointed with this bottle however. It tasted a little thin and anaemic, with no great amount of flavour. Perhaps because I didn't decant it, as I have been doing of late or perhaps because we have been drinking lots of this (superb) of late, I don't know.
Rating: 5/10. - Was going to be 4/10 but gets the extra point for being better than this on previous occasions.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Saturday Night Tasting - Part 2 - The Whiskeys.

I know its a bit OT, along with the beer posts, but when JR was over last night she expressed an interest in trying some whiskey. As well as being the resident wine bore I'm also a budding whiskey bore, having spent the last 5 years or so developing an appreciation and taste for single malt scotches. I know, being Irish I should drink more Irish but to be honest there simply isn't the variety or dare I say the quality here to wean me away from my scotches.

I duly took out 5 whisk(e)ys, which I hoped would give here a sample of styles and flavours.
Note: I deliberately didn't bring out any big peaty Islay malts (e.g. Lagavulin 16 yo) as she professed not to have any interest in that style. 

From left-to-right...
1) Bushmills malt - 16yo
My current favorite Irish tipple, warm and fruity. JR said - smelled like puke.

2) Glenmorangie 10yo
The basic expression and a good solid example of a Highland malt. JR said - meh.

3) Macallan Elegancia 12yo
An unusual (duty free only I suspect) Macallan , matured in Fino and Oloroso sherry casks. JR said - Yum.

4) Talisker 10yo
My latest acquisition,  fairly peaty (for a non-Islay) and some lovely spiciness. JR said - meh.

5) Highland Park 12yo
Possibly the nicest all rounder I have tasted and a good starter for a newbie. JR said - OK.

So there you have it, not a disaster as she clearly likes sweeter, sherried whiskeys, of which there are many and over time I'm sure her tastes will expand to include some other styles.
Herself, on the other hand has developed quite a taste for almost all the scotches (she also isn't big on the peaty Islay monsters), I'm going to have to start locking the Whiskey cupboard.

On a related note , about tastes changing, the first time DD and myself tried 10yo Laphroaig, about 5 years ago, all we could compare it to was medicine or TCP, I now love it, DD alas still hates it but really loves my Highland Park.

Saturday Night Tasting - Part 1 - The Wines.

JR came over last night and we heroically got through four bottles of red, all in the name of reviewing said wines of course. To accompany the wines we had a mystery stew, which had been lurking in the freezer, and which turned out to a delicious lamb tajine.

1) Las Casetta di Ettore Righetti - Valpolicella Ripasso - 2005.
We got this in a hamper from Sheridans Cheesemongers so I'm guessing you can get it there. This was universally acknowledged to be divine. A silky smooth velvety wine, with delicious fruits and a big chocolately* finish.

2) Penfolds Bin 389 - Cabernet Shiraz - 2005.
This wine is known as the mini Grange and I had wanted to try this for ages and about 6 months ago I finally stumped up the €30 in O'Briens. I was not disappointed. Big jammy fruits but some solid structure and a suggestion of tannins make this a winner. A perfect marriage of old and new world styles.

3) Tesco Chianti Classico - 2007.
Good solid Chianti from Tesco, ticks all the boxes and is perfect with any tomato based food.

4) Protocolo - 2006
Previously reviewed here. I'm still loving this wine.

*The ladies insisted that the wine was chocolatey - who am I to argue?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mary Dowey - 101 wines under €12

At the "do" on Tuesday night, the spot prizes were bottles of wine along with Mary Dowey's book (at left). Mary,  former wine correspondent for the Irish Times and now wine editor with The Gloss, has compiled a list of 101 wines under €12, although I suspect some of them may be slightly more than that now.

This is a great book, if, like me, you are interested in finding good value wine. There is a wealth of info on each wine including food matches, simple tasing notes and where to get each one.

I have come across a good few of these wines over the last few years and all the wines that I have tasted that are in the book are indeed very good value.

It has also suggested a few wines to me that I have seen in shops, which i will now take a punt on given that they have been recommended. BTW I am not saying Mary Dowey is God, but I have found that a wine recommended by a professional critic is rarely less than interesting, even if it may not be to my taste.

Chateau Pey Du Pont - Superquinn French wine sale

This is fourth and final review of four bottles of French red purchased as part of the Superquinn French wine sale last Saturday week.

Superquinn says "...on the famous right bank, or 'Rive Gauche' of the River Garonne" and "has been selling wines that are reminiscent of blackcurrant ever since"

As well as their poor French, Superquinn aren't saying much in the above description, and with good reason.

Name: Chateau Pey De Pont
Year: 2006
Price: €12 (reduced from €23.99)
Notes: Very disappointing, the main characteristic of this wine was a unpleasant bitterness and some tannins, not much fruit and only a suggestion of the famous Bordeaux minerality. I also was reminded of a Chilean Cabernet. Expensive at €12, I would be horrified if I had paid €25 for this. Avoid. 
Rating: 4/10.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Grenache - Domaine De Cristia - Superquinn French wine sale

This is third review of four bottles of French red purchased as part of the Superquinn French wine sale last Saturday week. 

Superquinn says "This wine has great plum flavours and has been made consistently since 1942"."

Name: Grenache - Domaine De Cristia
Year: 2007
Price: €8 (reduced from €11.25)
Notes: Like the blurb says, this medium bodied wine does have lovely plum flavours and a warm, welcoming finish. A surprisingly easy drinking wine and yet again good value for money.  A perfect party wine, even the wine snobs should be happy.
Rating: 6/10.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Portugese Wines at Donnybrook Fair

Went to a "do" last night in Donnybrook Fair (the Donnybrook version with the restaurant above it), apart from some very tasty food the two wines supplied were both Portugese and both very nice.

The white was from the Bucelas region of Portugal made from the Arinto grape, a uniquely Portugese grape.

Name: Prova Régia
Year: 2007
Price: €11-99
From: Donnybrook Fair / O'Briens
Notes: Cool, dry and crisp. Described on the menu as the Portugese Muscadet. Either way, great wine at a bargain price.

**Update** - The menu said "The Muscadet of Portugal. Better possibly,  with delightful rich aromas of red apples, rounded and lightly textured with a dry nutty finish"

The red was from the Palmela region of Portugal made from the Casteláo grape.

Name: Pegos Claros
Year: 2002
Price: €12-99
From: Donnybrook Fair / O'Briens
Notes: On the nose I thought this resembled a Bordeaux or even a big expensive Californian Zinfandel. On the palate, however, it was not at all like these. There was cherries, some good fruit and also, fittingly some Port-like flavours, all followed by a long, lingering finish. This wine is an absolute steal at €12-99.
Rating: 8/10.

**Update** - The menu said "Medium to full bodied red with lovely raisined fruits reminiscent of port. It has a lovely balance and a savoury twist on the finish"

Another of the guests drew this pen and ink drawing for Herself on the night and another drawing was auctioned on the night.

Note: Tonight I will be mostly drinking the €8 Grenache from Superquinn, which I only tasted last week - full review tomorrow.