Greetings from the sunny Coats du Rain

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Typical day in the Cotes du Rhain aka Galway

What with all of the horrible wintery weather we have had of later we were thinking of diversifying and stocking coats, wellies and umbrellas. But thankfully (and i say that with a lot of doubt) the sunshine appears to have finally grace us with its presence just in time for June. So hopefully the only coats on our minds will be the lovely wines of cotes duRhone.

And the sun literally began to shine today as we opened the first box of our new Cotes du Rhone, maybe Jean-Pierre the winemaker, had them box a little of the warm Rhone Sunshine to be released when we opened the cases of wine.

Anyway enough about our terrible weather and a little info on the wines, the range is called Ferme  du Saint Antonin. It all started in 1980 when Jean-Piere over the family property in southern Jonquières which had, at that time, various crops planted, vegetables and grapevines.

Through the years, more vineyard was added, and today Josy & Jean-Pierre Allemand have 4.5 hectares in (new) AOC “Plan de Dieu”, 4.5 hectares in Côtes du Rhône. in heavy, large pebble, rolled quartz stone soil, sitting atop clay-limestone bedrock. Manual harvest, low yield, these wines have more impressive structure, fruit and purity than most Châteauneuf-du-Papes on the market today.

What makes this particular brand all the more attractive is the husband and wife team: Very charming, polite and genuine, just like the wines they make.



Do you Need Glasses???

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And that's only a very small selection!

 Does wine taste better in certain glasses?  Apparently your palate can become   confused if you’re sipping wine from the wrong glass? Supposedly, the wine doesn’t produce the correct aromatics and the it enters the mouth and floods the wrong receptors on the tongue! But with the appropriate glass, the true make-up of a varietal can be shot to the proper section of your tongue to immediately introduce you to bitter, sweet, sour, or salty. Now having spent a day last week tasting 20 or so wines out of the same glass I can say with full conviction after a while wine starts to taste distinctly wine like with only bitter and sweet flavours coming out. But I’d say this had more to do with the amount tasted than the glass which we were using! But maybe there is something to the science of specific glasses for specific wines otherwise Riedel would be in trouble but for me, I think I’ll stick with my basic Bordeaux style glass unless some kind folks out there would like to send me some of Riedel’s extensive glassware collection.

Chalk One Up for Chablis

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This blog is dedicated to a blogger out there calling himself the winephantom. This funny phantom of the vine, has been unimpressed of late with the wines of Chablis, and as part of our Queen of Grapes week we are gonna state the case for this sometimes wonderful area.

 Chablis is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy,in France. The grapevines around the town of Chablis are almost all Chardonnay, making a dry white wine renowned for the purity of its aroma and taste.  The wines often have a “flinty or minerally” note, sometimes described as “steely”. The wines tend to be more acidic than a lot of other fruity new world and European Chardonnays. And of course as with every where these days you have plenty of tart, acidic Chablis out there to burn your throat, but in the main it is an area that produces some beautiful whites, especially some excellent grand crus at reasonable prices €20ish euro mark, expensive you say, not really I have yet to see a drinkable Chablis for less than €14, so in the context of price an extra fiver for quality is well worth it.

But what makes Chablis so special and deserving of these high prices is the soil on which the grapes are grown, the region’s oldest soil dates back to the Upper Jurassic age, over 180 million years ago and includes a particular vineyard soil type known as argilo-calcaire. This same Kimmeridge clay is found across the English Channel in Dorset and is a composition of limestone, clay and tiny fossilized oyster shells. All of Chablis’ Grand Cru vineyards and Premier Cru vineyards are planted on primarily Kimmeridgean soil which imparts a distinctively mineral, flinty note to the wines. The crusty limestone-based soil of the region give the landscape a chalky white appearance think of the white cliffs of Dover!

The Queen of Grapes


What with the arrival on these green shores this week of the Queen, and this is not the place to discuss your sour grapes or not about her arrival as we decided to focus on a Queen of another sort, our number 1 white grape, Chardonnay. Say what you will about Chardonnay, despite years of abuse and bad winemaking techniques it still produces some of the most majestically wines out there, therefore we are dedicating this week to the Queen of Grapes.

Firstly a small bit of background, Chardonnay is believed to have originated in Burgundy, France where some of the best examples are still made, think Chablis, Mersault and Montrachet. But it is now found almost everywhere the fruit of the vine is turned in to liquid joy! Chardonnay is a very malleable, grape meaning it adepts well to different sites around the world and can be given the kiss of oak, this as we will discuss later is probably what lead to its world conquering and eventual down fall, but like a good things you can’t keep her down!! She’s on the way back up and she is looking to claim her crown back from the pretenders Princess Pinot Grigio and Csarinna Sauvignon Blanc.

Belvoir Cordails and Hugo (not the troll)

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As many of you who have been into the shop of late will have noticed we have a new range of Cordials from our Friends at Belvoir Fruit Farms. These include a lovely Blackcurrant and Cox apple flavour, along with the always loved cranberry and ginger cordials, and the highly sought after Lime and Lemon grass, which grew legs and walked out the door during our summer (otherwise known as that hot spell we had in April!). The most popular and most requested one how ever has only just arrived over the weekend; the Organic Elderflower Cordial.

Quench that Thirst

And what better way to celebrate than with cocktails, here’s on from South Tyrol in Northern Italy called Hugo. It’s very simple all you need is 1 bottle of Prosecco, 1 bottle of Elderflower cordial, some fresh mint and some Lemon or lime. Preparation is easy fill a glass with some Elderflower cordial, top up with the Prosecco and added mint and Lemon wedge.  Careful though this drink can be extremely adicitive on warm days!

Ps I Love You.

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Petit Sirah aka Duriff, has toiled in anonymity for years. It’s a solid blending grape and has added punch and color to some of the most approachable bottles of bulk wine to come out of California and a fair few Aussies too. s.  While Petite Sirah has had trouble gaining a following, we are lucky that a California has a pretty good amount of old vine beauties, much of them dry-farmed, head pruned relics of a day gone by, that wine makers are begining to create wines from using modern techniques.
 A cross of Peloursin and Syrah, and named for its resemblance to the “petite” clone of Syrah, Petit Sirah is slowly establishing itself as a premium wine and earning a little of the respect it deserves. From the first varietally labeled bottle, Concannon’s 1961, to today’s broad range of  producers, it’s been a long, slow journey.
 In the hands of a good wine maker this wine offers wonderfully ripe, round fruit  and has subtle  black pepper spice and earthy notes. When young Petite Sirah has a rich yet chewy texture and a nice peppery note to the black berried fruit. In the mouth the wines almost always have wonderful acidity and tends to be a rich deep black red colour with ABV around coming at a surprising 13.5 to 14%. This results in a wonderfully drinkable yet fully flavoured wine, perfect for barbecues and grilling.

And the downside? Well the wines are not the most complex and while there is some development with age the appeal here is really the wonderful fruit.  After-all sometimes one just wants a damn good bottle of wine that one doesn’t have to think about to enjoy. And if that’s what you’re looking for: take a look Petite Sirah. Equally as pleasant on a dirty wet Irish day as at a BBQ!

A wine to make you blush

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Today’s post was going to be a rant about the evils of huge companies and the horrible wine one some times gets from them but i decide to go another way and look at the history of White Zinfandel, a wine that gives most decent hard working Rosés a bad name for being sweet! White Zinfandel, Zinfandel Blush or White Zin, is a sweet, pink-colored wine.  White Zin is made from the red Zinfandel grape, which would otherwise produce a bold and spicy red wine. In America its home it outsells red Zinfandel wines by 6 to 1.

But where did it come from? 

Zinfandel was first made into a rosé wine in 1869 by the El Pinal Winery in Lodi, California. But it wasn’t until the 70s that it really took off. In the 1970s Sutter Home Winery was a producer of premium Zinfandel red wine in the Napa Valley. To increase concentration in their wines, they used the saignée technique to bleed off some of the grape juice before fermentation, to increase the impact of compounds in the skins on the remaining wine. The excess juice was separately fermented into a dry, almost white wine that Sutter Home called “White Zinfandel.”

All good till now but in 1975, Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel experienced a “stuck fermentation”, a problem that occurs when the yeast dies out before consuming all of the sugar. This problem juice was set aside. Some weeks later the winemaker tasted it, and preferred this accidental result, which was a sweet pink wine, think candy floss. This is the style that became popular and today is known as White Zin. Sutter Home being good capitalists, realised they could sell far more White Zin than anything they had produced to date, and gradually became a successful producer of inexpensive wines.

They remain one of the biggest producers of the wine, with annual shipments of over four million cases. One good that came out of the White Zin craze was that old vine Zinfandel that would have been ripped up, was kept and was available when in the 80s and 90s people realised that you could make prized red wines from these old vines.