Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is anybody else fed up of Marlborough Sauv Blanc?

I was at the New Zealand wine fair last week and there was a table of Sauvignon BLancs designed to show you the differences between various parts of Marlborough. Well, if there were differences, they were too subtle for my barbarian palate. I'm fed up of them all at this stage - does anybody out there have any interesting ones? Something that isn't the usual glass of pungenttropicalgrassyblahblah? No oaked suggestions, please, they are really pointless.

While I am giving out about New zealand wines, I heard the other day that about 150,000 cases of New Zealand wine were sold in Ireland. I thought that was pretty good until I heard that Oyster Bay Sauvignon Bland made up 90,000 of those cases. How depressing is that? The hilarious thing is that I'm sure it sells so well because it reminds people of Cloudy Bay....

But don't worry, I still love Felton Road (Central Otago, not a Sauvignon in sight) and Muddy Water (Waipara, amazing Riesling).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bin End Wines

Our ridiculously good bin-end sale continues, but the stuff is running out. Here are a couple that I tried last week.

Little James Basket Press (reduced from €13 to €8)
This is a cuvee made by Chateau de Saint Cosme, top Gigondas producer, a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Merlot - hence it's Vin de Table designation. It's like a good Cotes du Rhone - soft, fruity, versatile with everything in the right place. If you can live with the quirky label, it's a total steal at this price for a good mid-week option. Bottle quantities only left.

Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2006 (reduced from €18 to €9)
White CdR is always a difficult sell, but this wine is a really good example of what white wines from this region can offer. Broad on the palate with loads of stonefruit flavours - peach, apricot, etc. Acidity could be a bit fresher, but overall this wine makes a big impact and at this price cannot be lft behind. A couple of cases left.

St. Michael Eppan Riesling Montiggl 2006 (reduced from €17 to €10)
another labour of love that has proven hard to sell, this wine is fantastic, fresh, crisp, bone dry, impeccable fresh pure fruit. Brilliant Riesling, have taken a case for myself.

Boroli Langhe 2004 (reduced from €17 to €9)
A blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera nad Merlot, this has always been a fantastic introduction to wines from Piedmont - all the character and intrigue of the Piedmontese varieties, softened by the Merlot which helps to make a soft, round very-easy to drink wine. Good few cases left.

More reports as I drink them - still trying to keep my consumption reasonable!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some wines

Corvo 2007 - the long-established cheap and cheerful staple from Sicily, currently on offer in the shop at 2 for 16 euro. Lightish, simple and fruity, an acceptable bottle at this price and arguably nice enough with a bowl of pasta.

Is Argiolas Vermentino 2007 - a step up from the Costamolino. Nice floral nose, fresh, crisp, fruity style with a salty finish. Reminds me of a sunny day on a beach in Wexford.

Pesquera 2005 - this was tightly sprung when opened first, so I decanted it and we had it with lamb. Full-bodied, rich, spicy, leathery, really delicious and with a bright future ahead of it. WE had the 2001 recently and it was just drinking nicely, so I will come back to this one in a few years time.

Bin End Sale on now

Savings of upto 30% can be had now on wines as the bin end sale starts. These are genuine savings on good wines, but we have to make room for new stuff coming in over the next few weeks. It varies from wines we have a a fair amount of to wines where we just have a few bottles left on the shelf. well worth a look....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

10th Birthday this year!

It's hard to believe it, but On the Grapevine is 10 years old this year. We opened the doors for the first time on St. Patrick's Day 1999. We first met John, our landlord, in early December 1998 with the crazy idea of opening a wine shop in this new unit he had just built as part of a mixed development off the main street in Dalkey. Dalkey is a funny place in terms of what works and what doesn't and he wanted to make sure that whatever went in was there for the long haul. So, we met him, presented our plan and he liked the idea. Then we went to the bank, back when they were lending money to people and they gave us the green light as well. All of a sudden, from having a pipe dream, we were in the position where we could do this thing if we had the courage. It was one of those things where you would spend your life saying "What if....?" if you DIDN't do it, so really we had no option but to try it out.

We were both in reasonably well-paid jobs, both very busy lives. We were just married, no children, starting out in life. We had no experience in the wine trade and, although we both liked and were interested in wine, we really knew very little about the world of wine. So, it was a leap in the dark, to say the least. But we did leap - Pam gave up her job in Feb 99 and set about getting the shop open. I stayed on in my job for the first 6 months just in case...

More about history another day.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back from Portugal

Just spent a week in the Algarve and tried my best to drink interesting stuff. However, the bar where we were staying was doing happy hour every night at 6pm and they had decent Guinness so it was a pint with dinner followed by a couple of glasses of something half decent from the supermarket at home after the kids had gone to bed.

The best in terms of price / quality we found was Don Rafael by Mouchao, which I think is the entry level one from this really good producer, one of the best in Portugal (in my limited knowledge). It was medium bodied with really nice fruit and balance, very drinkable stuff. WE also had a bottle of Mouchao 2003 the one night we went out for dinner and this was really good - very elegant for such a big wine and everything in harmony. Very nice stuff indeed. It costs about €35 a bottle here, I think. (I saw it for €49 in Faro airport). I must ring the lads in Wicklow Wine to see what the story is....

Any cheap bottles we tried (less than €4) were pretty poor, not surprisingly. Worst of all was some sparkling wine we bought in Aldi (the proper supermarket was closed). Don't know how much it was, but it was undrinkable. Nice choc chip cookies, though, in fairness.