Wine + Music

The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series #6 – Nirina Plunkett

In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time. As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:

  • A piece of music –> they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
  • A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it

It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!) Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.

For Part 6 of the Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series we return to Dublin and the choices of the bubbly (-lover) Nirina Plunkett.  The song I chose for Nirina is Jamiroquai’s Space Cowboy, though not the original version; while that has its appeal as a funky, soulful track it’s rather downbeat – if I want depressing I’ll listen to The Cure or The Smiths, thank you very much!  Instead this is the result of a major reworking by the legendary David Morales of Def Mix Productions, turning in into upbeat, uplifting dance floor classic.

The wine choice for Nirina was dead easy – she was an enthusiastic participant in Alsace Wine Week in Ireland last year, including the live Twitter tasting where she extolled the virtues of Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace!

My good friend and fellow wine enthusiast Frankie invited me to take part in his new Frankly Wines & Friends: Wine and Music Series, and naturally I accepted! It’s no secret that I am a big wine fan, and always love exploring and learning more, and also that I LOVE music. I literally listen to music every day, when I’m blogging, writing, cooking, doing my makeup and even as I fall asleep. I’m kinda obsessed!

Therefore this series is pretty ideal for me as it brings together two of my favourite things. Today I’ll feature two different songs matched with two wines and a little chat about them. One of each has been chosen for me by Frankie, and I’ve then paired them with my own choices.

“Space Cowboy” (David Morales Classic Club Remix) By Jamiroquai

This remixed song choice from Frankie sure takes me back to when I was in my early twenties, and seems like it’d be hard to match with wine. But because of its party vibe, it’s got to be a bubbly choice for me. This Bottega Gold Prosecco, which hails from the Valdobbiadene hills in Northern Italy, is one of my favourites.

Bottega Gold Prosecco Cookie FM Frankly Wines

This sparker is made from a tasty blend of the varieties Moscato, Glera (Prosecco), Pinot Nero, and Raboso Piave, and together they give this Prosecco a fresh and fruity aroma. And then there’s the sweet fizz and the gorgeous gold bottle – ideal for any party occasion! I can picture myself and the gals with a bottle of Bottega Gold Prosecco as the club soaks up the atmosphere with this song blasting away. Plus popping any bottle of bubbly instantly puts a smile on my face, it’s my favourite sound!

Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace Brut

Wolfberger Brut Crémant d'Alsace Cookie FM Frankly Wines

I do love a good bottle of fizz, and this Wolfberger Brut Crémant d’Alsace is such a beauty. I was fortunate enough to try this last year but I will always remember it for its lively and light floral notes. It’s made with five traditional varieties of the Alsace region as well as the Chardonnay grape, that altogether give a slight apple finish. I do find this Wolfberger more elegant than the aforementioned Prosecco, and therefore with such a bubbly brut, I’ve chosen this classic Rihanna song “Diamonds”

I feel it’s the right song to sip on this sparkling wine, played extra loud, of course. I can picture myself out the back garden as dusk settles, with my best friend, chatting the night away and pouring glass after glass of this Wolfberger with a minimal cheese & cracker platter.

Nirina Plunkett

Nirina Plunkett, 29, is from Dublin and of Irish and Malagasy ethnicity and has been a blogger and website owner since she was 10 years old! Nirina’s blog Killer Fashion celebrates 10 years this year, while she started Cookie FM in 2015, a food & lifestyle blog, to explore her love for food, music and adventures even more. Nirina loves trying new recipes, dining out, tasting new cuisines, learning about wine and having delicious cocktails. If you want to drop Nirina an email about anything contact KillerFashionNP@gmail.com

Make Mine A Double

Puglia Pair for BBQ Season [Make Mine a Double #56]

With the current restrictions on being able to visit restaurants in many countries, eating – and drinking – at home has become the new dining out.  As we have been lucky with the weather in Ireland so far this summer the siren call of the barbecue has been heard throughout the land.

How should we choose the wines to drink with our charcoal cooked food?  For me there are a few key criteria:

  1. Drinkability: this doesn’t mean a dichotomy between wine that is either palatable enough to be drunk or wine to be poured down the sink, it means a BBQ wine should be approachable, gluggable, and not austere.
  2. Robustness: barbecue food has lots of strong flavours and needs wines that can stand up to it and take it on.  There’s little point drinking a delicate Tasmanian Pinot Noir with flame-grilled burgers or sticky ribs
  3. Affordability: barbecues are an informal affair – you’re often eating without utensils, possibly on paper plates, and quaffing multiple glasses, so reasonably priced wine makes the most sense.

Here are a couple of wines I tried recently that perfectly fit the bill – and as it happens they are both from Puglia in Italy.

Disclosure: Both bottles kindly provided as samples, opinions remain my own.

Old True Zin Barrel Aged Zinfandel Salento IGT 2018

Old-True-Zin-Organic-Zinfandel

The name and label design of this wine are more reminiscent of a beer than a wine, and using the better known term Zinfandel rather than its Puglian name Primitivo give it an American image.  Is this misleading?  Perhaps a little, but the most important aspect of any bottle of wine is the liquid, and its that which I am assessing.

The bright purple colour in the glass gives you an idea of what you’re in for.  The nose showcases an intense collection of fruits – plum, black cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant among them – plus notes of coffee and chocolate – mocha anyone – and vanilla from the barrel ageing.  The flavours on the palate are a continuation, so no surprises there, but even given the richness of the nose the full-on explosion of flavour might take you back.  It’s the richness and sweetness together which make this such a mouthful.

On reflection, if this wine suggests that it is a Californian Zinfandel then that it is fair enough as it is exactly in that style!

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €17.95
  • Stockists: Mortons, Ranelagh; Listons Camden Street; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; Gleeson’s, Booterstown; Molloys Liquor Stores; The Old Orchard Off Licence, Rathfarnham

Bacca Nera Negroamaro Primitivo Salento IGT 2018

Bacca Nera Negroamaro Primitivo

The Bacca Nera is from the same place as the Old True Zin and is the same vintage, but differs in two main respects; firstly, it has (attractive) conventional packaging with an Italian name, and secondly that Puglia’s other main grape: Negroamaro.  It’s a little less deep in colour than the Zin, but we’re not talking Pinot Noir here.

The nose is delightfully spicy at first, then revealing dark berry fruits.  In fact “Bacca Nera” means “Black Berry” according to google translate, so the name is apt.  On tasting this wine is a big mouthful – round and powerful with sweet and rich fruit – very more-ish.  The fruit flavours are both red (strawberry, raspberry and red cherry) and black (blackberry and black cherry), tamed by a touch of bitterness (that would be the Amaro) which adds interest and partially offsets the sweetness.

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €17.95
  • Stockists: Mortons Ranelagh; Listons Camden Street; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; Gleeson’s, Booterstown; Molloys Liquor Stores; The Old Orchard Off Licence, Rathfarnham

Conclusion

These wines both fit the bill perfectly.  There’s little to choose between them in quality and just a slight difference in style.  With my BBQ ribs I would narrowly choose the Bacca Nera!  Now where are my coals…

 

 

**Click here to see more posts in the Make Mine a Double Series**

Wine + Music

The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series #5 – Penny Sadler

In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time. As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:

  • A piece of music –> they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
  • A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it

It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!) Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.

Part 5 of the Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series is in the capable hands of Penny Sadler. As the wines available in her home city of Dallas differ a fair amount to those in my home city of Dublin, I wanted to choose a nice, recognisable and widely available wine. Bollinger’s excellent Special Cuvée Non-Vintage Champagne fit the bill perfectly!

One of the albums I recently included in my all-time top 10 list is the seminal Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. It has been a favourite of mine since the early ’80s, and most people of my age from the UK will remember John McVie’s bass riff introducing Formula 1 coverage. The band’s line-up has changed frequently over their 53 year (and counting) but retained the same rhythm section. I had the pleasure of seeing them live in November 2003 and June 2019.

Just as an aside, Deep Dish (two fantastic deep house artists / DJs from Washington DC) did a “cover version” of Dreams but kept it authentic by having Stevie Nicks rerecord her vocals for their version – check it out here.

Bollinger Special Cuvée NV

Bollinger Special Cuvée NV

The wine Frankie chose for me is Bollinger Special Cuvée NV. I have to say that I wondered for a moment if Frankie had hacked my email, because at the time I was writing a newsletter and blog about sparkling wine.

Bollinger is one of the oldest and most revered champagne houses in France. All of their wines are aged twice as long as is required by the rules of the AOC. They’ve survived phylloxera, WW2, and a lot more. The Special Cuvée is made with 65% Pinot Noir grapes. I feel the dominant Pinot Noir gives the wine more depth, more layers, and more fruit forward aromatics, which I like.

The Bollinger Special Cuvée is meant to be drunk young, though you can cellar it for a few years. But, as it’s already aged for at least thirty months instead of the minimum fifteen, I say, go for it.

I had a hard time choosing between a song that was fun, energetic and bubbly, like Champagne, or a song that was a classic, just as Champagne is a classic drink, marking so many important events in our lives.

As it turns out, I got both, in the song Dancing In The Street. Originally written by Marvin Gaye and performed by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1964, it’s a catchy song that reminds me of travel and good times. It’s just a fun song! It became a number one hit in the U.S and the UK, and is one of only fifty sound recordings preserved in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. Just like the Bollinger Special Cuvée, this is a special song.

Dancing In The Street has been recorded by a number of different artists over the years. Mick Jagger and the late, great, David Bowie recorded it as a duet for Live Aid, in 1985. These two iconic singers put their own riff on the song calling out the names of places around the world––Tokyo, South America, Australia, France, Germany – challenging everyone, to dance in the street. I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a lot of that when we’re all able to travel freely again!

They’ll be dancing, dancing in the street
(Dancing in the street)
It’s an invitation across the nation, a chance for folks to meet
They’ll be laughing and singing and music swinging
Dancing in the street

Can’t you just see yourself drinking a class of Bollinger Special Cuvée and then, no matter where you are, “dancing in the street.”

Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac, a British American pop band released the album Rumours in 1977, with four singles. One of them, Dreams, became the #1 selling single from the album and the only #1 song for the band in America. 40 years later, the album is still wildly successful and has sold over 45,000,000 copies.

Frankie asked me what kind of music I liked and though I gave him quite a few options, he picked one of my all time favorites. Dreams is a beautiful melody written and sung by Stevie Nicks. She said she wrote it in about ten minutes with just her keyboard. The song is about her breakup with band member and boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham. Nicks also said that even though they were both really pissed at each other at the time, when he heard the song, he smiled at her.

I remember listening to Rumours obsessively as my BFF and I primped and crimped ourselves for a night out. It wasn’t uncommon for us to leave a few broken hearts in our wake, which fits with the theme of the album. Not only Dreams, but every single song on the album is about relationships gone awry between the band members. It remains to this day a ’70s rock classic.

When I started thinking about what wine to pair with Dreams, I thought, well, what was I drinking in 1977. Wine wasn’t a big thing in my life in those days, and frankly (Frankie), there wasn’t much available that fit the budget of a high school girl. However, instead of taking a different approach to the wine pairing, I stuck with the period theme. I recall the only wine we drank was Soave, a light, Italian white wine. Aptly, as an adult I’ve become a frequent traveler to Italy and lover of great Italian wine. But in high school I was drinking the cheap stuff, by Bolla.

bolla soave classico

I wouldn’t call Bolla Soave a great Italian wine, but it has stood the test of time; for only 10 dollars a bottle it is quaffable. But, no, I haven’t had it since 1978.

Penny Sadler

Penny Sadler is a travel and wine writer and student of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, an internationally recognized certification and credential in wine and spirits.

Penny has traveled extensively to some of the world’s most interesting wine regions. She’s picked grapes in Barolo and Emilia Romagna, visited a 2000 year old wine cave in France, and led winery tours in Napa Valley.

A native Dallasite, Penny spent a year in Napa Valley learning the ins and outs of the wine tourism industry. She writes creative content for the travel and hospitality trade as well as assisting others with travel planning and hosting wine tastings. You can keep in touch with Penny via her website, Adventures of a Carry-on, a travel and lifestyle blog. Or follow her on Instagram @Adventureofacarryon or Twitter @PennySadler

Wine + Music

The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series #4 – Jim Dunlop

In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time.  As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:

  • A piece of music –>  they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
  • A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it

It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!)  Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.

The fourth part in this series is in the capable hands of Jim Dunlop, a canny Scotsman who loves wine but doesn’t take it too seriously.  The wine I chose for him was a New Zealand Chardonnay that I love (and have recommended many times in these pages) and that he had enjoyed on a recent trip to New Zealand: Man O’War’s Valhalla Chardonnay.

The song I chose for Jim was one that holds a dear place in my heart due to hearing it played many times on family holidays when I was young: The Long And Winding Road by The Beatles.  It’s only in the last decade that I’ve learned that Paul McCartney hated the additional strings and choir added by Phil Spector – and even cited it as a reason for leaving The Beatles.  However, it remains my favourite version and – in my opinion – one of the best songs ever made by the Fab Four.

Man O’ War Valhalla Chardonnay

When Frankie asked me to put music to wine and wine to music, it seemed a good thing as usually our preference is open a bottle and have memories of the area it has come from.

Man-O_War-Valhalla-Chardonnay

The wine I know is one of Frankie’s favourites and we would not have tasted it had he not mentioned while on our recent (non wine holiday) circumnavigation to visit Waiheke island while stopping over in Auckland. We will ever be grateful for that tip as Waiheke is a rather special island and it was there at lunch we selected Valhalla from Man O’ War winery. The winery is located in a distant spot on the island and we did not have time to visit it. This is probably the finest example of Chardonnay we have ever tasted but there again maybe the view out to sea and the sunshine helped a lot. Frankie has assured me that in wet grey Dublin it is still a magical wine.

So I had many songs to choose from but in the end I came down for Sing a Song of Love to me by Chris Rea.

The second verse is just right for this Chardonnay:

Cause if you sing a song of love to me

I will always find a smile

That will warm my cold cold heart

Just for a while

The Beatles – The Long And Winding Road

The song Frankie selected was The Long and winding Road

Here it was easy to make a choice for it is truly a long and very winding road to get to the winery from any direction, coming from the north taking the Spluga Pass from near the source of the Rhine over into to Italy and down to Valchiavenna there to find the glorious Nebbiolo of Valtellina.

spluga
Credit: Jim Dunlop

If you come at it from the east then you have the even more amazing Stelvio Pass. Both are squeaky bottom drives but most enjoyable. There are so many fine wines in this area but I have to make it one from our friend Mamete Prevostini and his wonderful Valtellina Superiore Riserva.

WP_20180907_13_54_09_Pro (2)
Credit: Jim Dunlop

Words fail me on this beauty which should be given time to sleep and not many have heard me propose that about wine.

mamete prevostini riserva valtellina superiore
Credit: Mamete Prevostini

Jim Dunlop

Jim is retired from a life involved with printing presses and packaging. He now enjoys the beauty of the world in “travels with Julia”, groundwork for a possible travel blog (that might happen if he ever gets round to it). Pre-COVID19 he seemed to be away on holiday more than at home, and even “non-wine” trips involved wine. Jim has semi-professional tasting experience in the wines of Northern Italy, Germany, New Zealand and the Canaries which he often shares on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Make Mine A Double

A Lidl Bit Chile For Summer? [Make Mine a Double #55]

How well do you know Chile?  It’s the slim country running down to the west of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean:

Chile Chili
Credit: Nolo Sanchesky (via The Language Nerds, Facebook)

Joking aside, here’s how the country is broken down into different wine regions:

WoC_Map2
Credit: Wines of Chile winesofchile.org

The two wines we are looking at here are from different – though relatively close – sub-regions.  If you find the capital Santiago on the map above and head due north into the Aconcagua region you find the Aconcagua Valley and thus the Aconcagua Mountain after which the region is named.  Best known for red wines – including Errázuriz’s super-premium “Seña” – it also makes fuller bodied whites.

South west of Santiago and on the coast is the Leyda Valley, attached to the more established San Antonio Valley.  Due to the influence of the Pacific the climate is cool here and so the best performing varieties tend to be Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.  In Ireland at least, Leyda Valley has become a name to look out for on the label of these wines.

The two wines below are available from Lidl Ireland as a limited release from Thursday 21st May, while stocks last.

Disclosure: both bottles were kindly provided as samples, but opinions remain my own

V Selection Valle de Leyda Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva 2019

211113 Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva Valle de Leyda €9.99

Emblazoned with a Chilean flamingo, this Sauvignon Blanc has the label “Gran Reserva” – a term with no standing in Chile – the grapes were picked barely 12 months ago – but nevertheless designed to communicate a high quality level.  Sauvignon Blanc is a key white variety for Chile and is often recognisable in blind tastings by strong hints of fennel.

Any hints of fennel are subtle in this wine, but the overwhelming aroma and flavour is of asparagus!  It’s not that rare in Sauvignons as such but it ordinarily tends to be just a component of the nose and / or palate.  The only other I can think of with such an asparagus bias is the very cool climate Astrolabe Kekerengu SB from the southern part of Malborough.  But it’s not just asparagus, there’s also lime and lemon rounding off the palate and a lovely crisp, clean finish.  This Leyda Valley wine is perfect for salads and seafood.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €9.99
  • Stockists: Lidl Ireland

V Selection Valle del Aconcagua Chardonnay Gran Reserva 2018

242485 Chardonnay Aconcagua €10.99

The national bird of choice for this Chardonnay is the Humboldt penguin, what a cute little thing!  Again we have a Gran Reserva, but at least this one is two years old.  There’s a tropical tinge to the nose, though not overpowering.  This does continue though to the palate but it is very restrained; tasted blind I would probably have guessed it to be from southern Burgundy.  There’s a lot of texture on the wine, partially from the high altitude vineyard and partially from the use of (mainly seasoned) oak.

Don’t make the mistake of drinking this wine straight from the fridge; give it at least half an hour and drink from your biggest wine glass for extra swirlage.

  • ABV: 14.0%
  • RRP: €10.99
  • Stockists: Lidl Ireland

Conclusion

These are both good wines that offer very good value for money.  Compared to the New Zealand pair I reviewed previously that are part of the same release, I am not quite as enthusiastic, but they are both worth a try – unless you hate asparagus, in which case you should pass on the Sauvignon and just head for the Chardonnay!

 

 

**Click here to see more posts in the Make Mine a Double Series**

Make Mine A Double

Lidl’s New Zealand Outlook

Lidl Ireland’s latest wine promotion is broadly termed “Iberian” – very broadly in fact as it includes Chile (Spanish speaking, granted) as well as Australian and New Zealand wines.  Kicking off on Thursday 21st May, the wines will be on limited release – once they are gone, they are gone.

Here I look at two examples from New Zealand.  The first is from NZ’s biggest and best known region – Marlborough – though isn’t a Sauvignon Blanc.  The second is from one of the longest standing NZ wine regions – Hawke’s Bay – which is roughly two thirds the way down the east coast of the North Island.  The brand Outlook Bay appears to be a Lidl private label, i.e. you only find these wines in their stores.

nz-regions.DcoCkA
Credit: nzwine.com

Disclosure: both bottles were kindly provided as samples, but opinions remain my own

Outlook Bay Marlborough P.G.R. 2019

242394 Outlook Bay Marlborough €9.99

P.G.R. stands for Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer1 & Riesling, though immediately below the wine name on the back label it gives the blend as Pinot Gris, Riesling & Gewürztraminer2, so P.R.G. would be a better name.  Perhaps PGR is now a “thing” in New Zealand, or sounds better in other languages?  Ours is not to reason why…

Although the blend might be unusual for New Zealand, it makes sense; all three grapes are classed as aromatic and the long, cool growing season in much of Aotearoa – particularly Marlborough – therefore suits them, just as it suits Sauvignon Blanc.  And where else is famous for its aromatic wines?  Alsace of course!  And as these are the three key Alsace grapes (in my opinion) I have no compunction in calling this an Alsace blend.

The nose is very floral (apple blossom?) with lychees – that’s the Gewurz3 showing its superpowers.  The palate is something of a conundrum; it has a gentle, juicy attack then a textured, dry mid-palate.  There’s round pear and apple yet spice as well.  There is a little sweetness here, but the slight (pleasant) bitter hints on the crisp, citrus finish resolve it as fruit sweetness rather than sugar.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €9.99
  • Stockists: Lidl Ireland

Outlook Bay Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2018

242393 Outlook Bay Chardonnay €9.99

Marlborough does make some remarkable Chardonnay, but Hawke’s4 Bay’s richer style seems to be more in demand at the moment, and that is where this wine hails from.  It’s unmistakably oaked Chardonnay on the nose, with toasted coconut and pineapple – almost like the coconut “mushrooms” and pineapple cubes that were around when I was a nipper – but not as synthetic.

The aromas continue through onto the palate which has a rich, creamy, tasty texture.  The sweetness promised by the tropical fruit on the nose is more moderate in the mouth; I would guess that a good proportion has been though MLF but not overwhelmingly so as there is lots of tangy freshness.

This isn’t going to covert (m)any people of the ABC = Anything But Chardonnay crowd, but for those in my ABC = Always Buy Chardonnay camp this is a cracking example and ridiculously good value for money at a tenner.

  • ABV: 13.0%
  • RRP: €9.99
  • Stockists: Lidl Ireland

Conclusion

An easy one – buy both!!  These two wines are quite different in style, but happen to be styles that I’m very partial to.  They are well made and absolute bargains at the price.

 

**Click here to see more posts in the Make Mine a Double Series**

 


  1. Notice the German spelling with an umlaut
  2. It’s still there!
  3. Arghhh sorry I forgot it this time
  4. Hawke’s more often than not has the apostrophe, so I’ve put it in, even though the label omits it
Wine + Music

The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series #3 – Avril Kirrane McMorrough

In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time.  As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:

  • A piece of music –>  they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
  • A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it

It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!)  Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.

For the third installment in this series we are back to Dublin with the well-travelled Avril Kirrane McMorrough (see her bio below). For Avril’s wine there was an obvious choice – the Joseph Cattin Riesling Reserve that I recently wrote about myself and which Avril mentioned she is a fan of.

The track I selected for Avril is one of my favourites: “Don’t Know Why” from Norah Jones‘s debut album Come Away With Me.  I could ramble on about this song for ages with its understated elegance, but really all I need to do is show the chorus lyrics:

My heart is drenched in wine

But you’ll be on my mind

Forever

Joseph Cattin Riesling Reserve

Joseph Cattin Alsace Riesling

Riesling is arguably one of the world’s finest white wine grape variety. It can produce a range of styles to suit every palate ranging from light and floral to dry and spicy, rich and fruity or absolutely bone dry. It is also a wine with amazing cellaring potential. The North Eastern French region of Alsace produces some of the world’s best aromatic wines.

The Cattin family of Swiss descent have a long history in the Alsace, dating back to 1720. With knowledge and experience that has been passed down through the generations, the family now own 60 hectares of vines around Voegtlinshoffen, 10 kms South of the Alsatian wine capital of Colmar. Joseph Cattin became renowned for his pioneering work in grafting and is widely credited for saving some of Alsace’s best vineyards from Phylloxera.

Joseph Cattin Riesling Reserve fits into the dry, minerally, floral with lots of citrus lemon and lime category. On the palate there are expressions of apple and peach with a vibrant acidity and a long finish.

Our sense of taste, smell, hearing and sight can lead one to a magical memory that especially in these times can seem like a very long time ago. This Riesling reminds me of days spent in balmy summer evenings, out in the open air, carefree and laughing with loved ones while cooking seafood over an open fire. The liveliness of this wine is a perfect accompaniment not only to the food but to a happy atmosphere.

The track I have chosen “Time of the season” by The Zombies, with its psychedelic keyboard and vague jazzy feeling summons those exact joyful and warm memories. Its heady ambiance would make you get up, glass of Riesling in hand and boogie your way around that open fire. Both bring a sense of carefree gaiety, they are my perfect music/wine duet.

Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why

“Don’t Know Why” was recorded in one take in October 2000 for it was deemed good enough. The producer used the original demo as the final vocal take and added guitars and vocal harmonies to make it sound as if Jones was harmonizing with herself.  I have chosen to pair this song with Domaine Les Yeuses Syrah ‘Les Epices’.

Located in Mèze in the Languedoc region of France, between the Mediterranean and the Etang de Thau, Domaine Les Yeuses was built in the 13th century by the Templars at the site of an ancient Roman villa. The estate gets its name from a forest of evergreen oak trees (‘Yeuses’ in the local dialect). Today they have nearly disappeared, replaced by a path of olive trees. The estate has been in the Dardé family for more than 30 years. Jean Paul and Michel, brothers, share the vineyard and winemaking responsibilities. Their winery is continually recognised for its wide range of varietal wines; indeed, the geography of their vineyard gives their wines a lively acidity and distinctive profile.

Domaine Les Yeuses Syrah Les Epices

Their Syrah ‘Les Epices’ has been compared by some critics to a young Crozes-Hermitage, so value for money is achieved with this wine. A luscious dark garnet colour with purple hues, Les Epices is round and harmonious with an elegant softness. Hints of spice and notes of ripe black fruits, cherries and sweet liquorice and toffee lends itself to a velvety, sensual feeling in the mouth.

Elegant, soft ,round and structured can describe both wine and song. My perfect wine & song pairing.

Avril Kirrane McMorrough

Avril is the business development manager and in house sommelier for Boutique Wines and is WEST 3 qualified. Having previously gained 20 years experience working in the restaurant business, most notably St John (London) and The Vintage Kitchen (Dublin), she provides a unique understanding of people’s needs with an emphasis on customer service and thrives on guiding people through their wine selections. Contact avril@boutiquewines.ie for more information.

Single Bottle Review

Hauller Alsace Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes 2017

Last year our family holiday (remember them?) was in Brittany which, although convenient for the ferry ports, isn’t a quality wine producing region.  My vinous needs therefore have to be met by trying various wines from the supermarkets, and of course many of those were from Alsace.  Two rules of thumb were therefore brought into play:

  1. French supermarket wines aren’t always great; they tend to be sold on the appellation name and at a low price, so the bottle contents (especially without a reputable producer on the label) tend to be very average.
  2. Alsace has many family names shared by different wineries – so don’t assume it’s the same one.

On the second point, when researching the producer of this wine I found Famille Hauller in Dambach-la-Ville, but there was no sign of Hauts de Hauller on the website.  A forensic review of the back label found that it was bottled by “JHF”; that turned out to be J. Hauller et Fils, a different company entirely!

Hauller “Hauts de Hauller” Alsace Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes 2017 

Hauller Alsace Sylvaner Vielles Vignes 2017

Sylvaner can be a bit meh, but this bottle sported the magic words “Vieilles Vignes”.  Old vines are prized for the additional concentration and depth of flavour they can bring to the finished wine, offset (for the vigneron) by lower yields.  A modest price premium over wines made from younger vines is the balancing factor and looks after both the consumer and producer…happy days!

I picked a bottle of this up in Intermarché and liked it so much I managed to bring a couple home as well.  I’ve often posited that Alsace Sylvaner is somewhere between the out-and-out raciness of Riesling and the rounder fruit tones of Pinot Blanc.  These aspects are true for this Vieilles Vignes example, but it also has richness and some weight – almost like a dash of good Pinot Gris was added to the recipe.  The end combination is a wine that is dry, crisp, refreshing yet incredibly appealing.  I just wish I’d brought more back with me!

  • ABV: 12.0%
  • RRP: ~ €7
  • Stockists: Intermarché (France)
Wine + Music

The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series #2 – Tim of Soliciting Flavours

In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time.  As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:

  • A piece of music –>  they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
  • A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it

It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!)  Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.

For our seconding outing into the world of wine and music matching I am delighted to present the musings of Tim from Soliciting Flavours.  I don’t know what it is about his writing style but I could enjoy reading his review of the opening of a door or a glass of water. 

With my suggestions to people in this series I have tried to be kind rather than obscure – after all, they are doing me a massive favour by writing for me – so I picked a Spanish wine for Tim as he is such a hispanophile.  What I didn’t specify was the vintage; I’ve only tasted the most recent release (2005 I believe) available in Ireland but Tim has gone back much further!

As Tim professed to be somewhat old-fashioned in his musical taste I picked something orchestral for him, a piece which I know best from the film Platoon.  Another interesting take is William Orbit’s version taken from his album “Pieces in a Modern Style” or the dancey-trancy Ferry Corsten remix which – I’d imagine – features on many a gym bunny’s playlist.


“When I was asked by Frankie to participate in this exercise, I was rather daunted. My musical taste is somewhat dated, with nothing remotely contemporary on my quite small “what I listen to” list. Would I recognise the piece of music and what on earth would I pair music wise with the wine Frankie chose? Would I end up pairing a Breaky Bottom wine with the Cheeky Girl’s ” Touch my bum” 😱?

As it happened both the music piece and the wine came to me pretty much instantly on receiving my instructions from Frankie.

Viña Tondonia Blanco

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Viña Tondonia Blanco is certainly a unique wine. Made by arch traditionalist R. Lopez de Heredia, whose cellars are thick with mould and cobwebs, it has a glorious golden hue and the gran reservas can age for probably as long as the sun shines. To my mind never has the quote from Galileo (who knew a thing or two) that “wine is sunlight held together by water” been more apt for a wine.

The piece I have paired with this wine is Golden Brown by the Stranglers. It is a quirky number with a quite oldie worldie feel to it (like Tondonia) from the liberal use by David Greenfield (RIP) of the harpsichord. I saw someone refer to it as a song that could be a hit in 1981 and 1681. Timeless like Tondonia.

It is a song about passion (for a girl and heroin – not a missing “e” there I am afraid) and once I acquired a taste for Vina Tondonia Blanco it became a wine I am quite passionate about.

The first verse goes as follows:

“Golden brown, texture like sun

Lays me down, with my mind she runs

Throughout the night, no need to fight

Never a frown with golden brown.”

This verse sums up Vina Tondonia Blanco to me, a wine that looks like bottled sunlight, that can be laid down for eons. Not one to fight its golden embrace, it is a wine never brings a frown to my face (other than, perhaps, when I had to pay the bill for the 1991 Gran Reservas of it I have in the wine room).

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings

In terms of the piece of music Frankie chose for me, Adagio for Strings is hauntingly beautiful piece. It builds layer upon layer with multiple climaxes before gently fading to an end. It is a piece that has been described by a critic as “…something as perfect in mass and detail as his craftsmanship permits”.

This is how I feel about Bodegas Muga’s Prado Enea. I love Rioja and out of all Riojas I probably love Prado Enea the most. At a tasting earlier this year lead by Jorge Muga, which included Prados from 1985 to 2011 (as well as various Torre Muga and Aro wines), the 2001 Prado was the star of the show.

Screenshot_20200506-155405_Chrome

It is a magical wine that makes me thank the gods/the randomness of the universe for placing geniuses amongst us and giving them the tools to make such great wine. Beautifully elegant, with primary, secondary and tertiary notes of dark fruit, spice, cigar box, tobacco, dried meat and citrus in the mix. Gloriously complex on the nose and the palate.

It had great length, lingering and developing on the palate for an age, with multiple climaxes of flavour, before slowly fading into the night.

Drinking this wine whilst listen to Adagio for Strings seems perfect to me.

Soliciting Flavours

Tim is a food and wine obsessed Cardiff based lawyer, with a particular passion for Spanish food and wine, who blogs under the pseudonym “Soliciting Flavours“. Catch him on Twitter and Instagram.”

Single Bottle Review

Château d’Orschwihr Pinot Gris 2014

It’s fair to say that all châteaux, castles and palaces have history – they’ve generally been around a long time – but some have more than others.  The first recorded mention of Château d’Orschwihr dates from 1049 – almost a thousand years ago, and even before the Battle of Hastings – so that’s old in anyone’s book.  It has changed hands many times over the centuries, but one notable owner was royalty: at the end of the 13th century it was bought by Rudolf Habsburg, founder of the Habsburg dynasty, King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor.

Wine has been made in the area since Roman times, but the earliest existing record of wine made at Château d’Orschwihr is from the 16th century.  Viticulture waxed and waned over the years, but the Hartmann family reestablished it in the 1950s (Martin) and significantly expanded it in the 1980s (Hubert).  Gautier joined the family business in 2006 and took over as head in 2011.

The Alsace Wine Hierarchy

Most wine lovers know that there are three appellations in Alsace, namely:

  • AOC Crémant d’Alsace
  • AOC Alsace
  • AOC Alsace Grand Cru

Since 2011 each Grand Cru has its own AOC rather than just being mentioned after Alsace Grand Cru.  Other changes were introduced in the same year; unknown to most, there are three “sub-divisions” of AOC Alsace which have increasingly stringent regulations to improve quality.  They are:

  • Regional – just AOC Alsace
  • Communal / Inter-communal – AOC Alsace followed by a name (normally that of a commune)
  • Lieu-dit – AOC Alsace followed by the name of a specific vineyard

There are around 130 of the communal labels – they are specifically mentioned by name in the regulations – but there is no official list of the lieux-dits.  The best and most consistent of them have the chance to be part of the future Alsace Premier Cru designation, whenever that comes to pass!

Château d’Orschwihr Alsace “Bollenberg” Pinot Gris 2014

Pinot-Gris-Bollenberg

Bollenberg is a lieu-dit, and is one of the highest climats in Alsace at 363m (see also Agathe Bursin’s L’As de B, Assemblage de Bollenberg).  Château d’Orschwihr make five different varietals here including this Pinot Gris and an excellent Riesling.  The Gris vines were planted in 1963 (80%) and 1990 (20%) so a Vieilles Vignes bottling would certainly be possible!

When poured it shows as medium gold in the glass, mainly due to age as it sees no new oak and is dry.  The nose is complex and spicy, with hints of lemon and lime twisted around quince and peach.  These notes continue onto the palate where they are joined by (preserved) mixed peel.  The wine is technically dry but has a real richness about it that comes with top drawer Pinot Gris.  This wine would definitely deserve a Premier Cru label!

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RS: 2.4 g/L
  • RRP: ~ €20
  • Stockists: currently unavailable in Ireland