Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Lidl bit of Xmas Cheer - Updated

I can't believe I'm finally doing a wine post. Apologies to the fans of the grape, it's been a little while since I wrote about anything other than the grain. Anyway, I headed out into the cold Dublin mountain air earlier with the aim of buying some cheap booze for the Chrimbo to Lidl on the Grange Road .

I was hoping to find some of the Cepa Lebrel reserva, which I have been enjoying for the last year and a half and my luck was in and I bought a few for the very reasonable price of €8.49. I figger they'll be handy to have for last minute entertaining. The other two I got are pictured below:

Medici Riccardi Morellino di Scansano 2011  - €10.99
This is almost the most expensive wine I've ever bought in Lidl, but I have to say that the 10-12 euro wines from Lidl are generally pretty solid so here's hoping this follows on trend.

Herself isn't crazy about this but I quite like it. It's warm, rich and full with some nice cherry and plum notes. Would I buy it ahead of the €8 Lidl Rioja? Probably not, but if you are a Sangiovese fiend you'll find a lot to like here...
Chianti Riserva Corte Alle Mura 2010 - €6.99
Total punt here. The standard (cheap) Chianti comes at about a fiver but that's not great. I'm hoping for the modest addition of two euro that magic will occur and transform this wine into a winner.

So this is...not bad. There's a little plummy fruit, a touch of acidity; perfectly pleasant with a decent finish. If you are a Chianti freak this is probably not for you but otherwise this might be worth a try at 7 notes.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Four Cheap screw-tops from Tesco

I found myself in Dun Laoghaire yesterday morning, so I popped into Tesco for some of their delicious houmous and maybe some vino. I have to say the selection of reds was pretty good but rather than buy some old faves I grabbed four (relative) cheapies, The Negroamaro and the SGM (?)  are new to me but the Malbec appears to be a new slant on a wine I had fallen out of like with. The Villa Maria should prove interesting, as it normally goes for north of €15, and their Sauvignon Blanc is pretty decent. 

Rawnsley Estate Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2012 - €9.00
Awful, cheap, and nasty. (Note: judicious use of Oxford comma) Gave it a couple of hours in the decanter and it didn't improve. Down the sink with it. Found someone else who didn't like it here.

Quindi Negroamaro 2012 - €9.00
Another "drinkable" wine - apologies for using that somewhat meaningless term again. There was a little bit a pleasant, plummy fruit and a touch of spice. Not bad value for nine europes, but probably not a runner for much more.

Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2011 - €9.00
You know, there was a more expensive Trapiche Malbec in Tesco and I should have bought it, cos I really didn't care for this melody. There was plenty of fruit but I (and Herself) found it slightly cloying. I haven't found (m)any decent Malbecs below €15 so no surprises here.

Villa Maria Malrborough Pinot Noir 2011 - €9.74
I had expected this to be the best of the four and it was, by a long way. Light bodied, but delicious with lashings of zingy raspberry fruit. If you like your NZ Pinots them go and stock up on this. It's great value as priced.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dunnes French Wine Sale 2013

Not to be outdone by Superquinn, Dunnes are also in the middle of their own French wine sale. I reviewed a number of last years offerings hereI couldn't remember when I was in the shop, what I had bought last apart from the Chateau de Clotte 2010 which I loved a year ago but didn't really care for when I opened a bottle recently.

Anyhoo - I got the following:
Moulin de Meyran Cotes Du Rhone 2011 - €10.50
I really liked this last time out (the 2010 vintage) and the 2011 is no exception. Warm brambly fruit and a nice balance. Good value as priced.

Chateau Capitoul La Clape Languedoc 2011- €10
(up next!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Superquinn Autumn Wine Sale 2013

So I went easy on the wine in Superquinn for this year's French Wine Sale. I decided not to buy anything I'd bought before, for reasons of economy and efficiency. There are lots of nice wines I've bought before in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

I decided to be lazy and bought a couple of reds as recommended by Kevin Ecock and they are as follows... 

Domaine Cristia Cotes Du Rhone 2012 - €10
I've had a couple of wines form Domaine Cristia and they've been pretty decent, so I'm giving this one a try. 

*Update - drinking this as we speak and it's not bad,  fruity but drinkable with a decent finish. Not sure I'd but it again, though. 

Puy de Dome Auvergne Pinot Noir 2011 - €10
It's hard to get good Pinot at a reasonable price  so I'm hoping this is as nice as in the review.

*Update - this was delicious. Some nice soft red fruits, elegant and light and definitely drinkable with or without food. I think I'll get some more of this.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lidl French Wine Sale 2013 - Updated

Yesterday  I had to buy a variety of mundane items and as I was on my way home from my mechanic (the beast lives!), so I popped into Lidl to get said items and may be some wine from the Lidl French wine sale that I had heard about. Kevin Ecock wrote a post about it here. I was invited to the press tasting but alas, I work full time, so was unable to attend.

I picked up the wines at left (along with some of their Cepa Lebrel Rioja Crianza - a steal at €6.50). BTW R Bampfield is Lidl's own MW and he rates all their wines out of 100 (sort of).  The Brochure is here.

Leo La Gaffeliere Bordeaux 2011 - €8.99  R Bampfield 88 - Very Good
I had intended to buy the Cotes de Blaye Chateau Grand Mazerolles 2010 €9.99, as recommended by Kevin but when I arrived home I had the Bordeaux above. I don't know how. I never buy generic Bordeaux. Anyhoo, I'll try to approach it with an open mind.
**Update -  This ain't great. It tastes like cheap Bordeaux, eh... because it is cheap Bordeaux, it's all tannins with a smidgin of blackcurrant. If you like cheap cab sav, this Bud's for you. 

Les Sarralieres Crozes-Hermitage 2012 - €11.99 R Bampfield 86 - Very Good
There's nothing like a nice Crozes-Hermitage and this is probably nothing like a nice Crozes-Hermitage, but here's hoping.
**Update -  I drank this but I didn't really enjoy it. It was a nearly wine. There were suggestions of nice fruit and tannins but they were trumped by a slightly unpleasant ripe fruity aftertaste. So far no joy from Lidl.

La Croix des Celestins Fleurie 2012 - €9.99  R Bampfield - No Rating
I'm not normally a big Beaujolais fan, the expensive stuff I like but the rest often find a bit thin. I deliberately picked this because it's outside my comfort zone. Low expectations here.
**Update -  It's not bad. It's light and fruity, natch, but with some decent acidity. We had it with a tomato and pasta dish and it worked well.

Oh and I grabbed a Chablis too, as evangelised by Kevin "Such a versatile wine style. Simple examples such as this always please me as the relatively lean fruit, acidic structure and tingly finish are just a perfect food accompaniment.". Sounds good...

I'll be drinking them over the next few days so watch this space...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Liveblog - Orellan Bierzo Roble 2009

Tonight I shall be liveblogging a red that I picked up in OBrien's in Carrickmines on special not one hour ago. I went there looking for some beers but the selection in this shop is much inferior to the wide range available at their Beacon Store, for some reason.

I should also mention our weekend wine experience. As we have recently celebrated 10 years (legally) together, we decided (and we had a voucher) to go to the Cliff House in Ardmore for some Michelin starred food, and for a quiet weekend away.

Long story short, the food was amazing and not bad value when you factor everything in. Three courses of Michelin starred food for €68, which included an amuse-bouche (four separate things) and a tasty sorbet before the main course; sounds like a lot of dough but when the grub is that good I don't think it's bad value. I suspect you'd pay a lot more than that in Paddy Giblets or one of the other starred places in Dublin.

We opted for the optional wine tasting accompaniment (specially chosen) for our three courses which was another €27 per head. My smoked salmon starter (done about 8 ways) came with a Tahbilk Marsanne, a white not for the faint hearted ( I ordered it once before, for a group and just about nobody liked it) but it suited the salmon well. My veal main came with a glass of Chateau Ksara from Lebanon, which I initially decided was much too tannic but actually worked really well with the meat, although it's a wine that resolutely needs food to accompany it. With my various apple deserts (spiced apple cake = best dessert ever), I was given a decently large glass of an Austrian sweet wine called Kracher, which was delicious.

Anyway - on to tonight's live blog and pictured above -
Orellan Mencia Bierzo Roble 2009 €9.99 (reduced from €15-99)

7pm. I like it. Apparently it's made from the Mencia grape with which I am not familiar, but at this early stage it's elegant and well balanced with a hint of plummy fruit. I think this will improve as the night wears off.

9pm. I still like it. Smooth. The O'Brien's website reckons it's not dissimilar to a Pomerol and I'd go along with that, its not as big, but it echoes the right bank.

11pm.Surprisingly, this didn't improve markedly during the night, started well and finished well. Not sure I'd pay 16 quid for it but as priced it's great value and would probably be a good wine to entertain with.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Short reviews of three wines from Baggot St Wines

Portillo Malbec €11.19
Fantastic, big, chewy and a little bit fruity. Great value as priced.

Gran Cerdo €13.99
A little thin, we reckoned, got a bit better after being open for a while but not ones the Willies cared for very much. And check out their website - a testament to shocking web design.

Matsu El Picaro €13.99 reduced from €16.99
Oh yes, this is how to do modern (relatively) inexpensive Spanish red. Wonderfully complex with a great finish.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why all the beer posts? Make with the wine, already...

A lot of readers (Ed. - really?) have been wondering why I've been doing so many beer posts of late  and so very few wine posts. There are a couple of reasons for this, the most obvious reason is that I am in the middle of the International Lager Challenge (tm). There are a total of 17 rounds and 20 lagers involved. The current status is below; we are now at the semi final stage of each country and I'm really enjoying the competition element.

The second reason is that I'm (mostly) bored with the wine that I'm drinking, I buy pretty much all of the wine that we drink at home and I don't accept samples, as I don't have it in me not be influenced such largesse, and secondly, one of my reasons for starting this blog was to attempt to identify value for money, harder to do if you get the goods for free. (Full disclosure: I haven't been offered that many freebies; for the last couple of years, what with working abroad and then redundancy, I haven't been putting myself about like I used to, at tastings and whatnot, so sample offers have been few and far between.)

Most of the wine that Herself and I drink is in the €8 - €13 range. 1 wine out of 10 is pants, 1 out of 10 is delicious and 8 out of 10 are "meh", and these are the problem. I don't know why but I'm not really enjoying these wines. It's not that they're bad, they are totally "drinkable" (I know, that's a loaded term these days) but they are forgettable. There are a couple of things that might be happening here.

One is I'm just bored with wine (most wine) or two, my tastes are getting more expensive/rarefied, it has happened before. I'm not sure which, maybe a little from column A and a little from column B. On the beer front, I think it's the whole craft beer thing (which is relatively new, in this country) that has me genuinely excited every time I walk into an off-licence and even mildly excited in supermarkets, even they are getting into the act, albeit slowly and in a limited fashion.

By the same token I should be excited whenever I walk into an off-licence, as there are always many many bottles that I have never heard of waiting to be sampled. Not so much in Supermarkets (Tesco and Dunnes anyway) as I pretty much know every bottle on the shelves.

It may be a function of cost. In offies the wines I want to try generally cost between €15 and €20, it's a not inconsiderable sum to wager on a bottle. However, most craft beers are between €2-50 and €3-50, even if it's piss, you are only out a couple of quid. Experimenting with craft beer is cheaper and less risky. And I'm nothing if not cheap.

There is also a surprising variety of flavours, not so much with lagers, but in spades with ales. I'll probably get shot for saying it (in a wine blog) but there is at least as much (if not more) variety in ales than there is with red wine. There's also the fact that there is an ever increasing number of Irish craft beers, it's gratifying to support Irish brewers and to be able to talk to them on Twitter.

I'm rambling. Long story short, beer is exciting me at the moment, wine, not so much. I'm sure I'll get my wine mojo back at some point. Until then, Beer me!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chateau Millegrand Redux - Liveblog

With "artful" dribble
In April I reviewed a Chateau Millegrand 2011 from Dunnes Stores and I really didn't like it. I thought no more of it until a comment appeared on the blog from none other them Martin Moran MW himself, who loved it.

Occam's razor would suggest that I was the one mistaken here, and that there was a problem with the bottle I tried, so I bought another bottle, on special for €11 (reduced from €16, apparently). I opened and decanted it about an hour ago and am about to try it.

7-30pm  Martin said the wine has "vibrant black fruit and pepper notes", and I suppose it does. It's perfectly fine (so I guess the last bottle was faulty) but that particular combination isn't winning me over right now. Hopefully it will improve as the evening progresses.

9-30pm After two hours it's a bit smoother and fruitier but I (and Herself concurs) just plain don't care for it. Something about the fruitiness just doesn't work for me. I'm finding it slightly cloying, but I'll check again later...

11pm Intriguingly this developed some subtle perfume flavours towards the end, but it wasnt enough to save it. It reminded me of some Chilean Cab Savs, all blackcurrant fruit and oaky tannins on the edges and nothing in the middle.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Some "new" wines from Tesco

Whenever I'm in Tesco I always peruse the reds for any new wines, bargains etc. Last weekend I found two new candidates amongst the usual suspects and they are pictured above.

Prunus Dao Vinho Tinto 2010 - €9.99
Hmmmm. I decanted this for a couple of hours, but it still tasted a bit cheap and cheerful. It cost less then a tenner so maybe I had unrealistic expectations. Meh. 

Trapiche Fincas Malbec 2010 - €12.00
I've had a mixed relationship with Trapiche Malbec over the years. In 2009 I loved it. In 2012, not so much. I'm not even sure if the wine above is the same wine, I suspect it is, but I can't find it on the Trapiche website. This time out, I liked it; it was still quite fruity but there was a little body and a decent finish. If Malbec is your bag then you probably won't go wrong here.

So in conclusion, eh....can't really recommend either.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Fourth Protocolo - It's not you, it's me*

I've fallen out of love. It happened a couple of years ago although it took me until last night to realise it. When Protocolo first came out, in, I think 2008, (the 2006 vintage), I loved it. I picked up a bottle in O'Briens as part of one of my regular trawls of their reds on special offer, and I loved it.

I loved it so much I recommended it to all my friends, some of whom also loved it and used it for parties. I believe it was John Wilson from the Irish Times (but I can't find the link) who raved about it, and suggested it had the potential to age and would be worth cellaring. Also, it was not your typical Spanish red, it was fruitier, and, I suspect, made to appeal to a younger, New World influenced wine drinker.

So I took a bottle of the 2006 and duly "cellared" it, for future consumption. Over the next four  years, I bought the 2009 & 2010. I don't know what happened to the 2007 & 2008; I know I missed one of them and I suspect the other never made it to the shop floor but I couldn't be sure. Either way, I picked up the 2011 yesterday for tasting purposes.

I need to confess that I last time I bought the Protocolo was in summer of 2012 (the 2010 vintage), for old time's sake, and I didn't enjoy it. I don't know if the wine has changed or I have, but one of us has moved on.

Anyhoo, I have been looking for an opportunity to do a vertical tasting of the various vintages for some time and last night presented the perfect occasion. It was forecast to be a lovely sunny evening, we had our new chiminea to burn our old patio table in,  a butterflied leg of lamb to bbq, and we had our neighbours Tricki'n'Baz from one side in, and MJ from the other, along with Aunty June, whom we hadn't seen for a while.

The ladies had been on the white wine for a while and me on the Grolsch, so I figured I'd start with the oldest first before we all got too squiffy to taste anything.

2006 - First off, everyone else liked it, but I didn't really care for it. It had a big alcoholic wash and had lost pretty much all its fruit. Not unpleasant, but not what I was expecting. Which was? Dunno, not this. They say most wines are made to be drunk with a short number of years so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

2009 - Really didn't like this. There was a slight sharpness to this wine that I didn't care for. Our guests didn't comment as such but that could be just politeness. I pride myself on serving nice wine to anyone who comes to my house for dinner but I feel I let myself down here; at the very least I need to like what I'm serving.

2010/2011 - Not much in the difference here, as I mentioned above, this wine just doesn't do it for me anymore, I'm sorry to say.

So there you have it, a failed love story for my part, but do try it yourself (it generally retails for about €8.99), even if you don't like it you won't be out of pocket by too much...

* Probably

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The High Council

I wrote a post about wine from Consejo de la Alta almost exactly 4 years ago. It has been a family staple ever since, courtesy of Papa Willie and Papa Vincent (long story). Anyhoo, at a family "do" recently the Papas were having a lively discussion about the merits of the "Novo" from 2010.

Papa Willie opined that it couldn't possibly be any cop (I'm paraphrasing, obviously). I generously offered to arbitrate the dispute so long as I got some for free.

Papa Vincent duly obliged, with the not only the 2010 Novo but with various other Consejo de la Alta vintages and styles. See below...

Left to right, they are:

Reserva 2004, Reserva 2005, Crianza 2008, Novo 2010, Alta Rio Crianza 2010

I think Alta Rio is the second wine (now) of this winery, but I'm not sure, as they appear to have used Google translate to generate the English language version of the website...

Reserva 2004
Selfishly, I'm keeping this for a future vertical tasting. I already have a 2001 and a 2005 Reserva in my "cellar" against just such a possibility.

Reserva 2005
Big alcoholic wash at first. Some fruit, some tannins, very long finish. Very nice.

Novo 2010
Not bad - good nose. A little sharp at first but got better over the course of the evening. Not a patch on the Reserva but pretty decent.

Crianza 2008
Very very tasty, and, in the absence of tasting directly against the Reserva, this comes off very well. 

Alta Rio Crianza 2010
Corked, desafortunadamente.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dial A for Aldi - and a sort of Liveblog. *Updated

A "new" Aldi opened a couple of years ago in Sandyford and I have been meaning to check out their booze for ages, but have been continually diverted by Dunnes at the Beacon and the nearby O'Briens wines, just around the corner. So yesterday, I girded my loins, and with my conscience in the back seat (Lil Bill), sallied forth to the aforementioned Aldi.

Things didn't start well. Their trolleys only take 2 Euro coins, rather than the standard one Euro coins (or tokens if you prefer) and they don't "do" baskets. I was about to leave in disgust when I managed to collar a helpful employee who sold me a token for a mere 89c. Perhaps I am not the target audience but would putting out a few baskets kill them?

Matters didn't improve. Lil Bill refused to pick out a breakfast cereal as he didn't fancy any of their copycat brands. I was only there for the booze so that's pretty much all we got. The booze purchased is pictured below...

Not pictured is a bottle of Aldi Old Hopking Gin, €12-99 for 70cl, which is very cheap. I had heard good things about it , see this. We tried it out in a G&T later and it was perfectly decent. I intend to test against an open bottle of standard Gordon's next weekend. (I try to only drink spirits on non"school" nights)
*Update - I set up a blind test for Herself and she preferred the Gordons, just. I knew which was which and I also just favoured the Gordons; there was a little botanical extra present. Still, the Aldi gin is great value as priced, especially if you are not a gin snob, like me.

On the beer front I got some of the following:
Spaten (not pictured) €1.79. A good price for this beer which I was co-incidentally drinking on Friday night at a Harvest (Neil young tribute band) gig at the Sugar Club. Great gig, although the Spaten was €6 a pop there, ouch.

Marston's Pedigree Pale Ale - €2.09 4.5% abv, Never seen this before but as I am an IPA junkie I got some. Report on this to follow. Per the Sindo today, liking craft IPAs, the more exclusive the better is a hipster trait. I think that's my only one, unless driving a Skoda and shopping in Penney's counts?
*Update - meh, nothing to see here.

Staroslav Czech Pilsner - €1.19 Another punt here. Although at 4%, it's not off to a good start.
*Update - This wasn't too bad. Not a huge amount of flavour but what was there was pleasant enough. One for those who like cheap weak lager, methinks. 

Rheinbacher Premium Pils - €6.99 for 6. More random German beer from the budget retailers. Most of the similar beer from Lidl is piss but the Grafenwalder & Finkbrau are OK, so long as you don't drink them after a "name" beer, at which point the cheapies tend to come off second best.
*Update - Ugh. I've had two of these now just to make sure the first one wasn't a fluke. In a nutshell, it's not very nice, its watery at first and then there's an unpleasant aftertaste. I'm regretting buying six as I'm not sure I can force myself to drink the remaining four, loathe as I am to pour beer down the sink.

On the wine front I picked 2 reds.

Domaine Roussellet Pinot Noir "Vin De France" - No Vintage specified. - €6-99
We drink this last night  and it was just OK, just about drinkable. Even at this price I wouldn't recommend it, unless bargain, non-vintage, non-Burgundy, Pinot Noir is your thing.

Minarete Ribera del Duero Roble 2011 - €7-99
9pm: I opened and decanted this at 4pm before we headed out to our local gastropub The Wild Boar (where the service was a little random but the food was very, very good). Anyhoo, just tasted the wine and after the Pinot Noir yesterday, I wasn't hopeful. Surprise! This is quite nice. Some nice plummy fruit and a bit of depth to the flavour. Not bad for 8 notes.

10pm: It's still good. Not earth shattering, but solid. There's now the tiniest bit of astringency in the mix, along with some recently evolved tannins. All in all, its pretty decent and good value as priced.

I think I've gone on long enough, so I'll leave it at that. It's a mixed bag so far from Aldi. I'll probably blog or at least tweet on the various beers above at some stage over the next few days...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Liveblog - Ciclos Malbec Merlot

I haven't liveblogged a wine in a while ( I haven't blogged a wine at all in a while, if truth be told), so here we go. The wine in question was a present to Herself, bought I believe in @BaggotStWines and it's Argentinian, per the bottle, from "our Valley in the North". I saw it reviewed somewhere recently but I'm buggered if I can find it online. Here's the link to the winery - I can't link to the individual wine page 'cos it's all Flash. When will they learn!

Michel Torino Ciclos Malbe Merlot 2008 - €??
20:30 The wine has been open and decanting for approx two hours so let's see what we can taste. Hmmmm, lots of fruit as expected and some oak on the finish too, I think. It's definitely a Malbec but the Merlot is bringing something to the party too. I like it, but I don't love it. Let's see where we are in an hour...

21:30 I think I have ruined my tastebuds with a big chunk of yummy Ardrahan cheese, but I'll take one for the team and press on. The tannins have softened a bit and the whole package is more integrated. I'm still not sure that the Merlot adds much, but this is a pretty decent New World wine, for those who like their New World, with a bit of Old World (like me). See you back in an hour for the conclusion...

23:00 I'll go back to where I started, I like this but I don't love it. I'd happily drink it but I'm not sure I'd spend my own loot on it. It's missing something that I find in the Malbecs that I like, and that is...love. Ha!

On that note, goodnight.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

O'Briens Spanish Wine Sale

So I was down in O'Briens in Carrickmines on Saturday searching for an elusive bottle of Punk IPA, when I noticed a few interesting wines on special. I made a mental note and returned on Sunday; the wines above are the result. You may have noticed that only one is actually Spanish and I don't know what to tell you about it. From left to right they are:

Tandem Ars In Vitro 2010  €9-99 reduced from €14-99 link
This is a Tempranillo/Merlot blend from the Navarra region of Spain and all done in a very vegan friendly organic crusty manner. After an hour or so in the decanter this tasted...OK. Nothing special but "drinkable". Some acidity from the Tempranillo and some soft fruit from the Merlot I guess.  It accompanied a roast chicken and was perfectly fine. By the end of the night it had developed some nice complexity but it took a long while to get there. Fine as priced but not a runner for me at full whack.

Aruma Malbec 2010  €12-99 reduced from €17-99 link
Classic malbec. From the off, this had lots of fruit, but not in a shirazzy, in your face, fruitbomb way. Lots of fruit but plenty of other stuff, some little complexity and after it had been open a while, a delicious long finish. If you like yessir Malbec, then you won't go wrong here, especially at the sale price. This winemaker also makes the amazing Amancaya, twenty bills but worth every cent.. 

Volpetto Chianti Riserva 2009 €10-99 reduced from €17-99 link
Yummy. A very tasty Chianti. Smooth, fruity and delicious. Not sure I'd pay full price but great value at €10-99. I'd suspect it needs food to really shine but it's pretty good on its own.

Piuma Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 €8-99 reduced from €10-99 link
I have to say I opened this last, because I suspected it might be "cheap and cheerful"; and initially I thought I was vindicated, with the wine coming off initially as a bit tart and acidic. But after a while the acidity receded into the mix and some lovely plummy fruit appeared. By the end of the evening, this was really rocking. Well worth a look at either price.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Superquinn Italian Wine Sale

A little bird, my friend June in fact, let me know on Friday that Superquinn was having an Italian Wine Sale, and they never told me! Anyhoo, after a lovely weekend in Kelly's in Rosslare, en famille, we all ventured down in search in bangers, spuds and Vino.

I bought four reds, seemingly at random, as detailed below and pictured above. I know they were all reduced but I don't have the brochure to hand and the receipt only showed two of the four reductions, for some reason.

Emotivo Montepulciano 2011 €8-00 (reduced from €11-49)
Superquinn Classic Collection Chianti 2012 - €7-00 (reduced from ???)
Santa Christina Toscana 2011 €10-00 (reduced from 12-49) 
Sammicheli Chianti Riserva 2009 €11-00

I'll be drinking them over the next few days  but tonight we start with the 

Santa Christina Toscana 2011. I'm not trying to damn this wine with faint praise but it was very...easy drinking.Some nice acidity and fruit, well balanced and no food required to enjoy it. Decent value for a tenner.

Emotivo Montepulciano 2011. We're not loving this. It's a bit vegetal both on the nose and to taste, in a not entirely pleasant way. But, given our shockingly precarious financial situation, there'll be no more pouring wine down the sink. I even went to Lidl tonight and bought 6 bottles of cheap red (of which more anon).

Part 2 is here

Superquinn Classic Collection Chianti 2012
As with the Santa Christina, this was a tasty "easy drinking" little vino with some subtle cherry fruit and a little acidity. Its not going to knock your socks off if you are an Italian wine buff, but is very good value as priced and should be liked by most folks.

Sammicheli Chianti Riserva 2009
This was definitely the pick of the litter, a classic Chianti with lovely plummy fruits, and some nice complexity at the finish. Definitely a buy at 11 europes.

Next Up - I continue my voyage down the plughole with the first two IPA semi-finals.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rossa Piceno - Something new from Italy

So it's been a long time since I bought a wine in Donnybrook Fair, a long time. The problem being that I don't shop in Donnybrook, since I moved away (sob) and the Baggot St branch is right beside Baggot Street Wines. However, being dinnerless, wineless and in Stillorgan this afternoon I ended up purchasing the wine above in DF #3, Stillorgan.

It's Brecciarolo Rossa Piceno Superiore €14-99 from Velenosi.I had never heard of the Rossa Piceno DOC and indeed there is no English Wikipedia page on it (there is an Italian one, if that floats your gondola). The wines are made predominantly from Montepulciano and Sangiovese with a little of local varietals added.

It was a little tart in the beginning but it's a bit smoother now with some nice acidity and a little fruit. It's perfectly fine but I'm not sure I'd spend 15 notes on it again.

BTW I have been posting a lot of beer-related posts of late, if you're fine with this, give me no sign whatsoever. Seriously, I have been contemplating starting a separate beer blog - negotiations are ongoing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dunnes Wine Sale

I have to take Dunnes to task. I have been in three separate Dunnes over the last couple of weeks, looking for some of the wines that are part of their "Wine Sale". In each store they had maybe 5 or 6 wines (that I could find) and virtually no promotional material. Just some small placards attached to the shelves. Maybe I caught the end of the sale and stocks were low... They should take a lesson from Richard Moriarty in Superquinn. That's how to do a wine sale.

Anyway, I bought a few reds, some are from the sale, not sure which; it's late and I'm tired with a dicky tummy and a dodgy back so reviews are limited to six words apiece.

Marques de Almonacid Carinena 2009 - €9.00 (reduced from €12-50)
Fruity, light and pleasant. Not bad.

Poco a Poco Tempranillo 2012 - €7-50 (reduced from €11)
Cheap cheerful, but not for me.

Chateau Millegrand Minervois 2011 - €11-50 (reduced from €16)
Awful, down the sink with it.

Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Syrah  - €10-50
Cheap cheerful, needs lots of air.

Next Up - More Beer, probably.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Liveblog - Romanico Toro 2010

So when Tricki'n'Baz came over the other night they brought with them a lovely Monsant from O'Briens which I am no stranger to. They also said they had picked another Spanish wine which had been highly recommended by the chap in O'Briens whose blurb says the following:

"Imagine Australian Shiraz meets Rioja and you get an idea of what this might be like. Big, rich and packed with fruit but never losing its distinctly Spanish accent and excellent structure. This is a phenomenal new wave wine from the Toro region and is from the hands of master winemaker Marcus Eguren" 

Romanico Toro 2010 €13-99 reduced from €17-99.

19:00 It's been open and decanting for over two hours now. Lots of bright fruit flavours initially but there is some structure behind it. Very pleasant indeed, although I'm not sure how much it will it will improve as the night wears off.

21:30 I do like this, maybe it's the influence of a "medium" Chicken Karahi (actually quite hot) from Bombay Pantry but I'm finding this a much more integrated beast than before. I don't know that it will impress old-world lovers but if you like your wine with a little fruit, fill your boots.

23:30  I'm still liking this and the finish is cracking but would I pay €17-99 for it? No. €13-99? Maybe. It's a grown up Protocolo, which is not an insult, buy I'd want more for this money. I'd buy it if I was entertaining and I knew the guests were big fruity new-world freaks. This would be right up their alley, so to speak.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Liveblog - Atlantico Sur 2011 Tannat

I saw this reviewed recently (I think it was John  Wilson) but for the life of me I can't find the review on line. Anyhoo, the wine at left is my first Uruguayan wine. Atlantico Sur Tannat 2011 €12-99 reduced from €14-99 in O'Briens.

The website describes it as "A beautifully made wine from Uruguay's top name Familia Deicas (Bodegas Juanico). Deep damson, black cherry fruit, all wrapped up in a smooth but structured palate. Designed for food."

Tannat is historically grown in the South West of France (e.g. Madiran) and typically produces big tannic wines. Per Wikipedia it has been adopted as Uruguay's "national grape" - good for them.

18:00 - Just opened and decanted via VinAire. It's not unpleasant, some tannins present and a little fruit, probably too early to say much more at this stage.

21:00 -  This is pretty nice. Smooth and structured is a good description, I guess. This is supposed to be Bordeaux-like and I'm not sure I'd buy that, but southern French yes.

23:00 -  Have just finished this and I have to say it really came together at the end, however it did take a while to get there. I'm not sure I'd pay 15 quid for it though. Worth a punt as priced if you like big southern French wines.

On a related note I had one of current favourites last Friday night, a Finca La Linda Bonarda from Baggot St Wines, which, as it happens is about €15 also. Food for thought.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Superquinn French Wine Sale 2013 - Updated X2!

So I don't get invited to tastings any more, probably because I could never attend any, given that press tastings seem to be always on weekday mornings and I am now and have been (apart from a recent and distressing brush with the scratcher) gainfully employed. Although with hindsight, I should have gone on the hop at least once or twice, if I'd known how those relationships would end. 

So I drove my lazy ass down to Blackrock on Sunday and pick up a half dozen reds, some I'd had before, in different vintages, some not. I could link to previous blog posts but eh, no. Let's judge them on their own merits.

Full disclosure: I haven't been enjoying my reds for the last couple of weeks. I suspect it's the god-awful cold I've been struggling with, which seems to have put the kibosh on my taste buds.
Note: This post will probably encompass three or more tranches, tranche the first consists of the following two wines:

Etienne Barret Crozes-Hermitage 2011 - €12 (reduced from €16-79)
Hmmmmm. While I said I wouldn't refer to previous reviews I do know that I used to like this wine very much, in previous vintages. This vintage didn't impress me, especially at it's notional non-sale price. It started off quite acidic but gradually smoothed out until it became a pleasant but unremarkable red. Not one I'd recommend at either price, I'm afraid.

Domaine Cristia Ventoux 2011 - €8 (reduced from €17-49)
Apparently the most expensive of my six purchases (pre-sale), this was a bit of a tannic beast at first but has been slowly softening ever since (I know the feeling). It's a bit peppery, maybe needs food to shine and on another night I'd probably be enjoying it more. For now it's perfectly fine and good value as priced.

Part Deux
Charles Vienot Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre 2011 - €8 (reduced from €11-99)
This has the advantage of being open since last night, so no surprises that it's nicely opened up and is well balanced with some lovely fruity Grenache'y flavours. Good value as priced. 

Domaine Astruc Syrah Viognier 2011 - €8 (reduced from €12-99)
Yummy! A blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier. It's got the classic old-world Syrah flavours with a little twist. I do like the New World version of this (D'Arenberg's Laughing Magpie is a lovely, if regrettably expensive example).

Part Threux
Chateau Lorgeril Cabardes 2009 - €10 (reduced from €15-79) 
I had this 2 years ago (the 2008) and this is what I said then - " Not bad. A little rough and ready initially, but rounded out over an hour or so to be a chunky, if unsubtle red. " Yep. No change here. OK value for a tenner, not worth 15 notes, IMHO. I would suspect a full day in the decanter would do this wine a power of good.

Domaine La Condamine L'Eveque Mourvedre Cotes De Thongue 2011 - €8 (reduced from €11-99) This was a bargain last year at €7, and is still good value as priced. Warm and fruity but in an old-world way. I have bought this a number of times last year, which is the acid test, I guess

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Post Live* from Mendoza

*Not really of course. I just picked up a cheap Malbec in Tesco and thought I'd liveblog it. I was in a cheap and cheerful frame of mind in the Merrion Centre earlier today and amongst the bric-a-brac I purchased was the wine at left. I also snagged a Tesco own-brand Chianti Classico for €6-99, which if decent would be for the win, but more of that in a separate post.

The main event is an Otra Vida Malbec 2012, a snip at €7. So it's young, New World and cheap; confidence is not high, although I do have a soft spot for Malbecs and have rarely had a nasty one. So let's have a sniff and a sip and see what's what...

19:00 - It's not bad, a little light but with some nice fruit and a little acidity. It's pleasant and easy drinking, which is probably all you could expect at this price point. I'd hope it might evolve over the next couple of hours, as young wines are wont to do, in the decanter.

21:00 - We just finished a particularly tasty meatloaf from Avoca in Monkstown and the above Malbec proved a fine accompaniment. It's probably as good as its going to get at this point (I decanted it at 17:00) and it has become more rounded and a tiny bit more complex in the finish. I'll have a final taste in a bit and hopefully a conclusion.

23:00 - All done here. In summary this is good value for €7, but if I was paying full price for a Malbec, say €12 - €15, I'd look elsewhere.

Next Up is the Ginger Beer challenge, and no, that's not Cockney rhyming slang.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Liveblog - Escudo Rojo 2010

Welcome to another liveblog. I tasked Herself with picking up a bottle in Baggot St Wines on the way home. Her mission was made more complex by the fact that both of us are literally* dying with the same cold, probably caught from Lil Sis at the big "do" this weekend. So whatever she buys has to cut through lots of icky stuff.

She returned with the wine at left, personally recommended by Garrett himself. It's a blend of Cab Sav, Carmenere, Syrah and Cab Franc, matured in French Oak for 12 months.

19-30: The wine has been open for 15minutes after being decanted via my VinAire into my Ikea decanter. First impression is fruit, lots of it and some vegetal notes, maybe from the Cab Franc. Hmmmm. I'm not crazy about it just now, its not bad just not my style. Let's come back in an hour, after some Bombay Pantry.

20-45: Better, much better. The vegetal flavours have subsided somewhat and the various fruity notes have all, mostly, harmonised, leaving an interesting wine. Gun to my head, I'd say a Cab Franc from the Loire. See you again for the final chapter in a little bit.

22-00: It has come together nicely in the end. I like it but I don't love it,  I think that's because while this wine is very well made, it's not for me.  Having said that it's often a good thing to drink a wine you wouldn't necessarily buy. Educate yourself, or something...

*Not "literally", but I think it's apt here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bekaa's it's there

I picked up the wine at left in Molloy's earlier tonight. It was right beside the Chateau Musar, but that was €28, which was a bit out of my price range so I grabbed its neighbour a Chateau Ksara 2010 Reserve du Couvent, a snip at €12-95?

It's a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Cab Franc and 30% Cab Sav, and I have to say, 1 glass in, I ain't loving it. It's got that Chilean, oaky, cab savv'y, dry,  blackcurrant thing going on, with a little bit of sharp acidity.

It's possible that this just needs more time, but I doubt it, because I triple decanted it. Bottle to decanter, decanter to bottle, bottle to decanter, all done through my VinAire, to no avail.

I won't be buying this again. if this style finds you agreeably then by all means fill your boots, lofty. I'll be over here, drinking something else, probably this lovely Ribera, also from Molloys and only 4 cents dearer.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crash! - A Ribera that isn't a Ribera - Liveblog!

So I bought some vino in Baggot St Wines, after congratulating Catherine on their recent Noffla win - Beer Specialist of the Year 2013. A Don Tiburcio Malbec 2008 (really good), a Bajondilla 2011 from Mentrida in Spain (last tried here), and the subject of tonight's liveblog! one Crash! Ribera del Guadiana 2011 €11-99 (I think...)

It comes from the Extremadura region in Spain and contains the following grapes: Garnacha Tintorera, Garnacha, Syrah and Tempranillo. An unusual blend, IMHO.

8-pm. Catherine had told me it was light and fruity and while that's not normally my bag I decided to take a chance. It has now been open and decanted for an hour and a half so here goes. Well, its light and fruity, natch. But its pleasant. No great depth of flavour but easy drinking and perfectly fine.

9-30pm Still light, fruity and maybe some little acidity now and maybe a little depth at the back end now.

11-00pm All gone and very nice all round. Would I buy it again? Probably not, but if you like this style of wine then fill your boots.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

All right, Pilar?*

So I ended up in Molloy's** on the Ballyogan road tonight, on the way home from work; I had been instructed by Herself, under pain of extreme displeasure, to pick up some vino.

I have pretty much stopped buying Ribera, the stuff I have been seeing on the shelves is either expensive or is, and tastes cheap. So it was a pleasant surprise to see a 2006 Crianza for a mere €12-99. I have had some bad experiences with old Spanish wine of late, so it was a bit of a punt.

Long story short, this wine is rather good. There is quite a bit of acidity but also lots of nice fruit and a lovely finish. There's lots of life left in this old dog - see Molloy's page here. It appears from this page to have been reviewed in the Sunday Times back in May and was then well regarded.

That's two for two this week, btw. Last night Herself, with assistance from Garrett in Baggot Street Wines, chose a fantastic Argentinian Malbec, one Don Tiburcio.

That's all for a while, we are off to sunny Amsterdam next weekend, to celebrate Herself's no particular birthday, at all. I don't think we'll be drinking much wine; probably lots of beer and "coffee". Evening all.

*That's a very old reference, Marcoos.

**They have a cracking selection of craft beers, I bought a couple of Avalanche ales from Fyne Ales.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Seizing the Higher Ground

Hola, amigos. I know its been a while since I blogged at ya but the old Xmas was pretty hairy - in a good way, I should add. Lots of peeps home from abroad and some fun entertaining in Casa di Willie, with plenty of moderately priced champagne.

Anyhoo, we finally finished all the vino we bought, or got as presents so I dutifully, and with no ulterior motive, made my way down to Carrickmines and my nearest O'Briens. I picked up a couple of old favourites, i.e. this Jumilla and wonder of wonders some Amancaya. I'm supposed to be reviewing the Corbieres we drank last night but I'm actually sipping this Argentinian delight as I type and it's just wonderful. A fruity marvel.

So the wine I'm supposed to review is the bottle at left a Chateau Les Auzines 'Hautes Terres' Corbieres 2009 €11-99 reduced from €13-99. I tend to buy wine with "Corbieres" on the label because I tend to like most wines with "Corbieres" on the label. This was no exception. O'Briens website describes it thusly "it is has wonderful purity of ripe blackberry fruit. It is elegant and finely balanced, a seriously well-made wine"

I don't disagree, this tasted like a more expensive beast with lots of depth, some restrained fruit and a cracking finish. Even without the discount I'd be tempted. Another winner from Laurent Miquel, this man has a gift for producing reasonably priced and very solid Southern French reds.