Last – but no means least – of our awesome foursome from Spit is GrapeCircus. Enrico’s wines are the most “edgy” of the whole gang (if you’ve got a moment, some are edgier than U2’s guitarist walking along the side of the Cliffs of Moher watching Tom Cruise film “Edge of Tomorrow” on his Samsung phone.) This means that even open minded wine geeks such as myself won’t necessarily like every wine in a tasting line-up, but it’s highly likely that we will love lots of them!
Here are five that I loved from SPIT:
Laherte Frères Champagne Extra Brut “Ultradition” NV (12.5%, RRP €53.00 at Sheridans Cheesemongers Dublin, Meath & Galway; Fallon & Byrne Exchequer St & Rathmines; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock; Mitchell & Son; SIYPS)
Founded in 1889, Laherte Frères is now in the hands of the sixth and seventh generation of the family. The latter is represented by Aurelien Laherte who has spearheaded the estate’s move to organic and biodynamic practices. A key strength is their use of over 350 old oak barrels to ferment each parcel separately, giving lots of options when putting together each cuvée.
“Ultradition” is of course a portmanteau of “ultra” and “tradition”, though at 4g/L the dosage is extra brut rather than ultra brut. The blend is 60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir (including 40% reserve wines). The nose is quite floral with a touch of biscuitiness. Fresh red and citrus fruit dominate the palate
Agusti Torello Mata Xarel-lo “Xic” 2017 (11.0%, RRP €18.00 at Sheridans Cheesemongers Dublin, Meath & Galway; Green Man Wines, Terenure; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Ashes of Annascaul; SIYPS)
Xarel-lo is best known as one of the three traditional Cava grapes, along side Macabeo and Parellada. Agustí Torelló Matá does indeed make Cava but this is a single varietal still offering designed to be fun and drinkable. It does drinkable in spades, so delicious and moreish! The palate abounds with fresh quince, apple, grapefruit and lime. This is a stunning wine that really drinks ahead of its price point.
Meinklang “Burgenlandweiß” 2017 (11.0%, RRP €19.00 at Sheridans Cheesemongers Dublin & Galway; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock; Ashes of Annascaul; SIYPS)
So now to Austria’s Burgenland and an aromatic white blend from biodynamic producer Meinklang. And it’s aromatic as hell! Enrico made sure I tasted this when he showed it at the Ely Big Tasting as he knew it’s my kind of wine (he’s a shrewd man). A blend of 50% Grüner Veltliner, 40% Welschriesling and 10% Muscat, this is just a downright delicious liquid that puts a smile on your face when you sniff it and a sh*t-eating grin when you drink it!
Welschriesling’s origins have yet to be discovered. Also known as Riesling Italico, Olaszrizling, Laški Rizling or Graševina, it is unrelated to “true” (Rhine) Riesling or Schwarzriesling (better known as Pinot Meunier).
Le Due Terre “Sacrisassi” Bianco 2014 (13.0%, RRP €49.00 but on-trade only at the moment)
This wine is exactly why independent wine festivals like SPIT are important – they give trade, press and public an opportunity to try wines that they otherwise would not have the chance or the yen to try. The hefty price tag and lesser known region of production might put many off, but this is a wine that, once tried, goes straight into the “special treat” category.
A blend of 70% Fruliano (the grape formerly known as Tocai) and 30% Ribolla Gialla, on tasting this wine has the “wow factor”, such depth of flavour. It shows wonderful soft stone fruit at the core, surrounded by an envelope of sea-spray freshness.
Roccalini Barbaresco 2014 (14.0%, RRP €47.00 at Green Man Wines, Terenure; Sheridans Galway)
Paolo Veglio follows the traditional “hands off” winemaking practices of Barbaresco, making wines that would be considered by many to be “natural” (though more on that another day.) As well as their overall quality, Paolo’s wines are known for their drinkability and their texture. Too often (for me at least), 100% Nebbiolo wines are too tannic and a little on the thin side, even though they might have prodigious levels of alcohol. At Roccalini they use a traditional third way of extracting colour and flavour from the grape skins; instead of punching down or pumping over, they wedge sticks in the top of the concrete fermenters which keep the cap submerged
This is a thick, chewy, viscous, amazing Barbaresco that needs to be tried!
The SPIT series: