Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vinitaly 2011

Apologies about the delay in getting this out there, real life has been getting in the way.

Anyway, we had a great trip to Vinitaly this year, having missed the last couple of years. We really just wanted to meet up again with our existing producers, taste the new vintages and maybe try some new stuff along the way. The first hurdle we had to overcome was to try and convince our suppliers that the sky hasn't completely fallen on our little Ireland and theat there was still business to be done. There was a lot of sympathetic nods of the head, anxious smiles, at times we felt as though we were being comforted at a funeral! The overall insecurity about Ireland as a market does impact on us as importers, however, as more and more suppliers ask for payment in advance - in most cases though, we have been working with them for so long that they know we are reasonably trustworthy! On to the wines....

St. Michael Eppan
For many years now our favourite pitstop for refreshing, aromatic, well-made whites. Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Gewurztraminer all showed terrific purity and clarity. Brilliant wines.

Cantina Terlan
We tried these just to make benchmark against St. Mick and their Pinot Bianco had got a great write up in Decanter. Nice, but not as nice as St. Mick, we thought.

San Donaci
From one end of the country to the other, we were keen to try wines from Puglia as a cheap and cheerful red from Southern Italy was on our wish list. We weren't expecting to nail it in one however, but San Donaci have just launched a new entry level range, with a red, white and rose that all show terrific fruit - perfect house wines - we are very excited about these and they are on the way. The Salice Riserva (old favourite) was great as usual and a new wine - Contrada del Falco - a Malvasia/Negroamaro blend was amazing - silky texture, smooth, fruit bomb style but elegant as well. One of our favourites of the trip and definitely coming in. Great wines, nice people.

This up and coming Slovenian outfit were on the stand of their Italian importer, so it was a good chance to taste the 2010 vintage and wangle some extra stock out of them. Wines were great, especially Sipon and Pinot Gris.

We think these aren't being brought in by O'Brien's any more, so we thought we would try them as we were passing. Rude people and bland wines meant we didn't hang around too long.

My headcold was in full flow here, so my tasting notes aren't worth a damn, but suffice it to say that Paolo and anna Rita were as charming as ever and their wines continue to grow in popularity with our customers. New label for Poggerissi will be a relief to us all!

We usually have to call out to Aldo's house to taste, but he's gone all fancy now with his stand at Vinitaly and his snazzy brochures. His wines continue to get better and better, classic Valpolicella, silky Ripasso and elegant (yes elegant!) Amarone.

La Riva dei Frati
What was supposed to be a quick tasting of prosecco turns out to be a 2 hour msaterclass of prosecco and the new DOCG regulations. FINALLY understand it, loved the DOCG frizzante need to haggle on price...

A quick Pinot Grigio tasting turned out to be a 2 hour masterclass in the white wines of Northerrn Italy - Antonio really opened our eyes with some amazing whites that we hadn't tried before including a sulphites-free Soave as part of the "Freewine" project - more on that another time. Soaves were very good. Didn't taste the Pinot Grigio in the end as we know the 2010 already and it's cracking.

Il Follo
Lovely tasting of the range from these new(to us) producers, really nice proseccos - will definitley consider some of their elegant rose...

This is where it gets scary - massive wines in every way....is it too much?

Didn't have time to taste properly, but we did taste a new Barbera at a very interesting price - will have to come back to it later in the year. Current 2004 Barolo is amazing!

Cantina del Pino
Another new (to us) producer - classic, elegant Piedmont wines. We like very much!

Villa Cafaggio
These wines are done by someone we think, so we weren't tasting with any degree of intent, we just wanted to try some Chianti Classico. These are excellent wines, great examples of Chianti.

That's it! Didn't make it to Bellavista for our usual tasting of wines we love, but can't sell!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Special - literally! Save almost 25% on Pasqua Passimento

Pasqua, as we all know (as of this morning), is the Italian word for Easter and, as it happens, we have just the thing to wash down Spring lamb or anything else you might have...

Pasqua are a large producer of mostly mediocre wines from Italy, so it was without much excitement that we tried this wine about a month ago. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the intensity and concentration of fruit and it made us take another look.

It is made from semi-dried grapes, using Corvina, Craotina (both varieties commonly used in the wines of Valpolicella) and a dash of Merlot. Partially drying the grapes concentrates the fruit and the sugars and makes for a turbo-charged version of a modern Valpolicella.

This is a different process to that used for Ripassa (where they introduce Valpolicella onto the lees of the Amarone to induce a second fermentation). This is more like a halfway house to Amarone. If you like Ripassa, you will love this.

The wine is full-bodied, with rich dark fruit, chocolate and spice, soft tannins and a nice velvetty texture.

It is delicious and on offer - normal RRP is €16.99 - we are selling a chunk of it at €12.99.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bad Science can prove anything 50% of the time

Lead researcher psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman said: "These are remarkable results. People were unable to tell expensive from inexpensive wines, and so in these times of financial hardship the message is clear - the inexpensive wines we tested tasted the same as their expensive counterparts."

This is the rather incredible conclusion from a dodgy sounding experimented reported today here.

I don't know the criteria used or how the experiment was carried out - which wines, how the people were chosen, etc. However, regardless of how the experiment was carried out, the fact that 50% of people couldn't tell the difference between the cheaper wine and the more expensive wine doesn't mean they taste the same. It just means they couldn't tell which was which. I don't think it's remarkable, I think it's entirely predictable. The only thing that is remarkable is that someone would think it is remarkable.

There are good cheap wines. There are bad ones. There are good expensive wines. There are bad ones. In general, price can be an indication of quality, but often it isn't. This is exactly why you should buy wine in an independent wine shop or offlicence or at least somewhere where they know what they are talking about. They can steer you away from the pitfalls and, if they don't, you can go back and give them a hard time.

I think its remarkable that the BBC would carry a story without the slightest bit of scrutiny between a study and the conclusions you can draw from its results.

2 + 2 = 5 and all that...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What do you think of this label?

Carol hates it, Pam hates it.

I actually think it's ok. Apart from looking like it has been designed by a flute-obsessed eight year old girl desperately trying to impress her hippy parents and disregards all the basic tenets of label design such as clarity of name, I think it works somehow.

Grapes, vine leaves, sun, errrr...flautist... - all reasonable things to have on a label. If you've got it, flaut it, as James Galway used to say.

Luckily, the wine is delicious. Very pretty colour, lifted aromas of strawberry, clean fruit, fresh acidity and very nice finish, it is one of the nicest roses I have tasted in a long time.

On offer at €11.

Oh yes, the girl's parents will be happy to note that it is organic as well.

Bruno Paillard Champagne Tasting - April 20th

Charles Searson has kindly agreed to do a tasting of their new champagne house - Bruno Paillard - for us on April 20th.

The tasting will be in Benito's in Dalkey, it will run for an hour or so featuring the 4 champagnes on offer - Brut, Rose, Blanc de Blancs and Vintage 1999.

These are elegant, high quality champagnes, Charles will be his usual entertaining and informative self, I am sure, and the entrance fee of €20 goes to charity.

Everyone's a winner.

Call us to book. 01 2353054