Taste of Donegal

Visit us at Taste of Donegal Food Festival this weekend, where we will be exhibiting an array of our speciality beers, wines and spirits from around the world, coupled with expert knowledge and sampling over the course of the weekend at stands no 6 & 7. Dean McGuinness, Ireland’s most renowned beer critic from the Moncrieff show on Newstalk will be in attendance at our stands for the duration of the weekend.

Dean McGuinness

Dean McGuinness

Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley, France…

Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley, France…

Loire Valley, France..

I love the Loire Valley. And I love the wines..they are fascinatingly varied and versatile, from the bone dry and luscious sweet whites, to light and elegant reds and rosés and delightfully effervescent sparklers. The overall theme of wines from the Loire is one of harmony and easy drinkability.

The majority of the Loire’s wines are white, representing 52 percent of the total volume. The northerly latitude for winemaking and generally temperate climate ensure good acidity and a refreshing nature in all the wines. Touraine places the emphasis on delicacy and flavour, rather than power and fruit-driven concentration of the New World. Touraine surrounds the town of Tours, a multitude of grape varieties are permissible, but one of the two most common, often used as varietal name on the label, is Sauvignon Blanc. The climate is among the mildest in France; fruit and vegetables grow so well here that the region is known as the “Garden of France”. Sauvignon de Touraine is often seen as an affordable alternative to the more illustrious, and expensive whites of  Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

Domaine Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 12.5% alc., €13.99

This Sauvignon Blanc is a star summer thirst quencher! It is brimming with tropical fruit, drenched with juicy lime and grapefruit, and ending on a crisp and sprightly finish.

Perfect solo or with starters, battered cod, salads, crab, hake, mackerel, mussels, bbq chicken…

Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

What is Monbazillac?

Monbazillac is a sweet country cousin of Sauternes, based on the Sémillon grape, with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle lending a helping hand. It is richly honeyed, with a trace of liquorice and a shade less bite than Sauternes.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina…

 

Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina…

From the air, Mendoza appears as a stretch of green in a vast area of  brown scrubland. Most of Mendoza remains a desert, but parts of it were turned into an oasis 700 years ago by the diversion of mountain-fed rivers through irrigation canals. Now Mendoza is Argentina’s most important viticultural region, producing 70 percent of the country’s wine grapes.

Malbec’s home is Southwest France where it plays a minor role in Bordeaux, Bergerac and Cahors. However, Malbec seems to have found its true home in Argentina..where it shows some real class, either on its own or in blends with other grape varieties – most commonly Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines were probably brought to Argentina in the late 19th Century by immigrant workers from Southwest France, where it is known as Cot. Malbec is versatile, able to blend with other varieties and distinctive in style. It ripens well in the South American sunshine, producing rich, lush, damonsy wines.

Malbec is Argentina’s second most widely planted variety, with about 17 percent of the total vineyard area.

 

Finca Sophenia Reserve Malbec 2009, 14% alc., €16.99

Deep red and violet in colour with aromas of wild blueberry, blackberry, plums, cherries and violets. This Malbec has serioius concentration and complexity with well integrated tannins embellished by hints of dried fruits and minty nuances. This lengthy wine will drink well through to 2014.

Winner of Silver Medal at 2010 Argentine Wine Awards.

Perfect for grilled meats, steak or any hearty meat dishes..

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

What are Vielles Vignes?

Literally ‘old vines’. As a wine gets older it tends to produce fewer, but better quality grapes. However, it is no guarantee of a superior wine, as there is no legal definition of what constitutes old.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Primitivo, Puglia, Italy…

Primitivo, Puglia, Italy

Primitivo (Pree-mih-Tee-voe), Italy..

The earliest knowledge of Primitivo is that it originated in Greece. It has been called many things, but is also known as the father of Zinfandel grape which is now so popular in California. It is genetically identical to California’s Zinfandel, although it makes quite different wines. Primitivo is rich and concentrated with zesty cherry and clove fruits, soft on the palate with blackberry and raspberry flavours and a spicy finish. The extreme south eastern provence of Salento is where the finest reds come from; when you taste the best wines from Primitivo you can see something of the spicy berry flavours of Zinfandel shining through.

Primitivo is a deeply coloured wine from the Puglia area in south eastern Italy. Puglia has very flat land in the south of Italy. Grape growing is easy: it is sun-scorched through the long summer months; rain falls obediently during the winter months long after the grapes have been harvested; grapes generally ripen beautifully with little annual variation.

Primitivo Surani 2009, 13.5% alc., Italy, €13.99

This Primitivo oozes deep aromas of berry, ripe cherry and plums. It is soft on the palate with blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, balanced with a wonderful light spiciness and a dry lightly tannic finish.

If you like wines that have soft light tannins and are super fruity and medium to full bodied, you will love this wine… and can be enjoyed solo or with lamb, pork, beef, ribs, roasted red meats, game, spicy cheeses or pizza..

Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

What is Corvina?

Corvina is the most distinguished grape of Valpolicella DOC, providing the backbone for the region’s cherry and herb scented wines, providing concentrated flavours and silky tannins.

 

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Caladoc…


 

Caladoc…

Caladoc is a rare grape variety planted primarily in the southern French wine regions such as the Rhone and Languedoc. The grape is a crossing of Grenache and Malbec that combines some of their best features, eschewing some of Grenache’s high alcohol for the colour and the tannin and intensity of Malbec. Caladoc also adds smooth tannins along with raspberry and spice flavours to blends.

Caladoc was created by grape breeder Paul Truel in 1958. It was created with the aim of having a vine that could grow in Southern France which was less prone to coulure (see below) than its parents.

Domaine du Grappillon d’Or is a very famous producer in Gigondas and Vacqueras. The wine below is a distinctive Merlot Caladoc blend, with grapes grown in clay limestone vineyards just outside of Gigondas. After a hand harvest, the grapes macerate for ten days before six months of ageing.

 

Domaine du Grappillon d’Or Merlot Caladoc 2009, 13.5%, €13.99

Deeply garnet coloured wine with a nose of wild fruit, pepper, spice and earth. On the palate this chewy, concentrated wine combines generous dark fruit (loganberry, plum and blackberry) flavours with spice, liquorice, smoke and pepper.

Medium bodied and refreshing with a clean finish of soft tannins.

Perfect for grilled meats, salads, pizza, exotic foods and cheese….Excellent value!

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

What is Coulure?

Coulure (pronounced coo-LYUR) is a potential viticultural hazard that is the result of metabolic reactions to weather conditions that cause a failure of grapes to develop after flowering, triggered by periods of cold, cloudy, rainy weather or very high, out of season temperatures.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Macon Lugny…

Macon Lugny…

 

Macon Lugny…

Macon wines are those produced under the Macon Appellation. Lugny is one of the better known names of the Macon Appellation. Macon Lugny covers white wines produced exclusively from the Chardonnay variety.

Chardonnay is the world’s most famous white wine grape. It’s spiritual home is Burgundy in France. Chardonnay is most widely appreciated not for its own intrinsic flavours, but as a vehicle for other influences, most notably the oak in which it is fermented or matured.

Macon Lugny is at the southern extreme of Burgundy, here the climate is warmer. Macon Lugny make some of the most keenly priced, plump Burgundian Chardonnay. Macon Lugny is Burgundy with a sun tan, nutty and buttery, with an honest fruity flavour.

 

Louis Jadot Macon Lugny 2009, Burgundy, France, 13% alc., SPECIAL €11.99

Fresh green apples with some buttery and very slightly honeyed notes. Medium bodied with lemon peel and citrus bursts of kiwi and white grapefruit. Delicious and Excellent value!

Perfect partner to roast chicken, chowder, salmon, trout, barbequed chicken or you could drink it without any food at all!

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

Describe the colour and taste of Chardonnay?

Still or Sparkling, Dry or Sweet, Chardonnay wines have a distinctive elegance which is supported by well judged acidity and an intense range of aromas. The complexity of the bouquet varies according to the terroir. Chablis wines have aromas of gun flint, lime blossom and peaches, pears and lychees, while those of the Cote d’Or offer scents of butter and acacia honey. Chardonnay wines are also distinguished by their magnificent luminous green highlights.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa…

Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa…

 

Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa…

Chenin Blanc is the Jekyll-and-Hyde of white grapes, the ugly cygnet that can turn into a magnificent swan. In South Africa Chenin Blanc is known as Steen, it is the most widely grown variety, making up over 30 percent of the vineyard area. South African wines are often described as being half way between the Old World and the New; with the structure and restraint of the former and the fruit intensity of the latter. Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape, producing a range of styles; from dry through to rich and sweet with flavours such as honey, lime and vanilla.

Swartland, the “blackland” gets its name from the black bushes that dot the area’s gentle hilltops. Traditionally known as wheat country, Swartland has seen the development of many new vineyards during its emergence as premium wine country in the last decade. Sites here have to be carefully selected due to the long, hot summers and the minimum irrigation available. Swartland produces a rich ripe style of Chenin Blanc which is capable of developing with age.

 

Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2010, Swartland, South Africa, 14%, €14.99

This is the hottest new release from South Africa. This is lovely Chenin Blanc from old vines. Floral, intense, rich and honeyed this wine retains that all important freshness coupled with the intensity of flavour; satsumas, apples, pears, mineral and honeyed notes, finishing long and dry. This wine over delivers in every way. It is an absolute pleasure from start to finish.

Delicious alone or crying out for roast chicken dinner, roast chicken salad, chicken with creamy sauce, pork with apple sauce or vegetable pie…

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

What is Chenin Blanc also known as?

The most common synonyms for Chenin Blanc are Pineau – or Pinot – in the Loire in France, and Steen in South Africa. Vignerons in the Gard also sometimes also refer to Chenin as Ugne Lombarde.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Sauvignon Blanc…Marlborough Style…

Sauvignon Blanc…Marlborough Style…

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

One of the major wine regions in New Zealand is Marlborough. Marlborough’s first Sauvignon Blanc, from Montana Wines, caused quite a stir in 1973 with its cut grass pungency. It was seen as uniquely New Zealand and unable to be replicated elsewhere. Since, Marlborough has burst forth as a premier wine region and now boasts 53% of all New Zealand’s vineyards. It is incredible that in just 30 years they have built up such a reputation. Marlborough has a number of things that sit right with Sauvignon; protected to the west by mountains, plenty of sunshine and a long growing season that ensures grapes ripen fully, and are bursting with flavours. Soil is important too: the region’s fertile silty soils produce a zingy style of sauvignon, while the stony sites, where the heat is trapped during the day and released at night, result in a less aggressive wine. Virtually every one of Marlborough’s 68 wineries now produces Sauvignon Blanc, but styles differ: some are fiercely herbal, while others are ripe and tropical.

Heart of Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5%, €12.99

Ripe gooseberry, tropical fruits and passionfruit galore. The palate has good mouthfeel; gooseberries, tropical fruits and spice characters. Clean and crisp finish abundant with tropical fruits.

Perfect alone or with prawns, scallops, mussels, battered cod, Indian, thai curry, salads with bacon…..

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

I like Sauvignon blanc, what other wines might I like?

Sauvignon blanc is the grape used to make Sancerre and Pouilly-fume in the Central Loire Valley in France. These wines are crisp and steely with gooseberry and grapefruit fruit. Bordeaux whites also use Sauvignon blanc which is grassy and vegetal, a little like a green pepper. They generally blend Semillon with their Sauvignon blanc which adds a hint of honey.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

 

Ribera del Duero…

Ribera del Duero…


 

Ribera del Duero…

Ribero del Duero is unquestionably the most important of Castilla y Leon’s five DO zones, and its most famous wine, Vega Sicilia, has proved since the mid 19th century that it is possible to make world class red wines in this area.

Opinion is divided as to whether the best wines are those made entirely from Tempranillo, known locally as Tinto del Pais or Tinto Fino, or those where up to 25 per cent of other varieties have been used. There are several wines which provide eloquent arguments for both sides of the debate. Where blending occurs, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot are the main grapes used, but some producers prefer the white variety Albillo, which brings a touch of perfume to the wines.

As in Rioja the wines are graded according to how long they have been aged. A crianza must be a minimum of two years old on release, having spent at least a year in barrel, a reserve must be three years old, with at least one year in barrel; and a gran reserve must be five years old, with at least two years in barrel.

Ribera del Duero’s principal advantages are the altitude (up to 900m) and chalk rich soils over a schistous bedrock, which is perfect for vines. The wines are bold, powerful, full of fruit, and have impressive ageing qualities.

 

Martin Berdugo Joven 2010, Ribera del Duero, Spain, 14% alc., €13.99

Here’s one to seek out – a young Spanish red that delivers more than the simple fruit flavours typical of a wine designed for early drinking. Nicknamed spotty youth; it’s earthy, spicy and brilliantly lively on the palate, with a gentle squeeze of tannin.

Excellent value!

Perfect partner to roast lamb, meat dishes, cheese, but this is so supple you could drink it without any food at all.

 

This Week’s Snippet of Info…

Describe the Ribera del Duero taste?

Full bodied, rich wines full of damson, cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruit, with a spicy, earthy edge and the occasional hint of citrus peel.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences