Those Crazy Italians

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bisson abissi Neptune, cellarmaster

Those zany Italians are doing it again. Piero Lugano, a sun-tanned artist-turned-wine-merchant-turned-wine-maker has decided to age his sparkling wine, made from local indigenous varieties grown in vineyards overlooking the Golfo Paradiso on the Mediterranean, under the sea! He had a problem when he began producing the wine about 10 years ago: there was simply no space in his already cramped shop and winery to carry out the aging required to make a bottle-fermented sparkling wine in the classic method of Champagne. He then had the brilliant or crazy idea of aging the wine under the sea! To most of us, the idea of making wine underwater might seem nuts.

But Mr. Lugano makes an interesting argument: “It’s better than even the best underground cellar, especially for sparkling wine. The temperature is perfect, there’s no light, the water prevents even the slightest bit of air from getting in, and the constant counter-pressure keeps the bubbles bubbly. Moreover, the underwater currents act like a crib, gently rocking the bottles and keeping the lees moving through the wine.”

There was another problem however, the area where he wanted to age the wines was a national marine preserve, the Area Marina Protetta di Portofino. So the odds would seem overwhelmingly against such a project. But it turns out the crazys work in the Government in Italy and not only was it possible, the ministry thought it was a very cool idea. The scientists did research to ensure no environmental impact and determine the ideal site to place the wine.

On May 20, 2009, 6,500 bottles of wine from the 2008 vintage of Bianchetta and Vermentino grapes, made without adding sugar, in the traditional method known as pas dosè, were  lowered about 200 feet below the sea.  When they went to retrieve the wine 13 months later, they found the bottles intact but transformed. Far from having a negative impact on the underwater environment, it was the sea that had had an impact on the bottles. The wine christened Abissi, meaning depths in Italian.

Orignially reported in the NY Times 23 August 2011


National Spud Day – Do we really need one?

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Today is the first national Potato day- yes a day devoted completely to the humble spud.  I mean, who doesn’t love Spuds?  But do we the people of Ireland need a day to celebrate the one food that is most associated with us! Well apparently the answer is yes. Just in case you have forgotten how lovely spuds are, they are encouraging us to have at least one spud today. I will producing my delicious bangers and mash, mmmmm.  Top 3 Bangers and mash wines: 1) Sangiovese, nice Chianti or Rosso Di Montalcino, great with spicy Sausages, 2) Big Jammy Zin, if you have some like a lovely red onion jelly and 3) Argentinian Malbec, what can I say they’re meat wines!

But most importantly don’t forget the humble spud today! After where would we be with out Mister Potato or even his cousin Mister Tayto.

Its the BOMBino!!

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3 Bright, dry  and sunny days called for a bit of celebration and how better than to relax in the garden with a lovely bottle of chilled white wine.  And what better than a bottle of Rivera Bombino Bianco. The new Vintage 2010 has been in for nearly two weeks and people have been going crazy for it. Sunshine and wine how better to spend an August Sunday! If you are not familiar with Bombino Bianco, it’s a grape variety found in southern Italy, specifically around the Puglia region. Rivera are one of the leading producers in Puglia and their ‘Marese’ Bombino Bianco comes from the Castel del Monte region.  The region is named for the 13th century Castle on a hill that dominates the centre of the region. Many different grapes are grown in this district but one of the most interesting, we think anyway, is Bombino Bianco, and that’s its real name! As with many other grapes in the south of Italy it is prone to over cropping because of the hot weather conditions but when treated right, well it produces some lovely wines.

While many producers in Puglia sought high yields during the last century, many of the producers in Castel del Monte instead chased quality over quantity. This is obvious from the minute one opens a bottle of Rivera Bombino Bianco. Aromas of orchard fruits, green apples and pear abound; with a of  hot-house of white florals and a touch of minerality. The palate is light and fresh, with clean acidity that you wouldn’t expect from such a hot climate, and flavours that come true are crunchy pear and apple with nice length on the finish. Simple put this wine is the BOMB!!!

Falling back in Love with Cabernet……..

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What with all the new wines and different varietals we have gotten in the last while I haven’t tried a nice bottle of Cabernet in a long time. But that all changed last night. A new Burger restaurant has opened up the street from the shop and the have a BYOB policy (Bring your own wine). No corkage, just open your wine and enjoy, they even supply the glasses. Anyway I decide to visit the restaurant in question and as I was meeting a few friends who are pretty obsessive about Cabernet; so my choice was made for me, O’Leary Walker Cabernet Sauvignon.

Talk about an over looked red, I had completely forgotten how good this wine is, 100% Clare valley fruit from Polish Hill River and Armagh districts. Some of the vines are 50 years old and you can tell. This is a really honest and straight up red wine, aromas of rich redberry fruits with inviting hints of mint and spice. Simpler than Bordeaux or even Coonawarra Cabernet, but with a warmer more friendly nose, that promise ease of drinking and depth of flavour.

Indeed, it’s not a wine of enormous impact. Not because there isn’t good intensity, there is. But it feels just right in the mouth acid and tannin are quite prominent but balanced in great harmony. No one area dominating the other. Pretty focused through the middle palate, this wine narrows through the back of the mouth red and black berry flavours hold sway until a finish of vanilla oak. This wine is brilliantly drinkable and quite attractive in its unassuming way. A great way to fall in love with Cabernets again!!

O’Leary Walker Retains 5***** Rating

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James Halliday has released his Annual wine companion and once again O’Leary Walker wines retains its Five Star rating. The five-star score is only possible a winery that regularly produces outstanding wines of quality and typicity. Only a very small percentage of Australia’s wineries are award this score. The following is a break down of how Halliday scored some of the O’Leary Walker wines we have in Stock. A score of 90-93 represents a highly recommend wine with great style and character and a score of 94-100 is reserved for outstanding wines that are of the highest quality and distinguished pedigree. The first wine in this class is their ever popular inky and powerful and delighfully Shiraz. The bouquet is dark blackberry spice, with hints of spice and red liquorice, the oak is all French which is subtle and gently enhances its layered characters. On
the palate the fruit weight is powerful and long with grainy balanced tannin and acidity. No wonder it scored 95 Points.

 2006 Clare Valley/McLaren Vale Shiraz                             Rating 95 Points

2008 Polish Hill River Riesling                                              Rating 95 Points

“Apple, lime and slate aromas; a beautifully structured and focused palate, the flavour flowing on evenly from the bouquet; thoroughly impressive line and length.”

2006 Clare Valley Cabernat Sauvignon                                Rating 95 Points

“Rich, juicy blackcurrant fruit aromas and flavours are perfectly supported by ripe tannins on the medium-bodied palate; quality oak adds to the picture.”

2008 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc                                  Rating 93 Points

“Elegant and crisp, with clearly defined varietal fruit on bouquet and palate, ranging through grassy to passionfruit notes; good length and finish.”

2008 Watervale Riesling                                                         Rating 91 Points

“Lime blossom bouquet and palate; very fresh and lively, with minerally backbone; lacks the complexity of the Polish Hill.”

2006 Blue Cutting Road Cabernet Merlot                            Rating 90 Points

“A bright and clearly defined red berry; cedar and coffee bouquet; the palate shows generous levels of ripe fruit, with cleansing acidity and slightly savoury tannins. Great value.”

Yummy Pinot Gris

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Pinot Gris can be wonderful, with medium, yet luscious body packed with honeyed fruits and apple and pear notes. And as it’s alter ego Pinot Grigio it can make clean crisp easy drinking wines. Unfortunately, as Pinot Grigio it can also be uninteresting, but not so Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris homeland is Burgundy apparently it is a mutant version of Pinot Noir! It found in very small numbers there, but it makes some excellent wines as Pinot Gris in Alsace, France and it is one of a number of wines that is starting to shine in the new world as the search for alternatives to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc gets under way. For my money some of the best examples can be found in New Zealand and Victoria in Australia. These wines are grown in the cooler areas and produce some exceptional varietal examples.

The Tussock Pinot Gris from Nelson, on New Zealand’s South Island is a wonderful example, medium bodied on the palate with aromas of pear, fig and some honeyed notes. The palate is silky with great balance and rich flavours of pear and apple leading to a hint of sweetness on the finish. This wine is a delight roast pork.

Even more new Arrivals!!

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Salice Salentino


Salice Salentino D.O.C. rosso is the most typical red wine of the Salento, the extreme south of Puglia, a blend of the area’s traditional grape varieties,  Negroamaro and some Malvasia Nera. After a brief stay in glass-lined vats, the wine matures 3-4 months in one-year-old small oak before being bottled. Dense, purple-tinged ruby red; good varietal nose, with hints of dried plum and morello cherry; generous and complex in the mouth, with excellent structure, and a finish exhibiting the pleasant, bitterish note typical of the Negroamaro.

The wine maker, Nuria Altes grew up in the Terra Alta area, a wine region located in the southeastern province of Catalonia, is one of the largest wine regions in the province.  The name Terra Alta means “high land, the vineyards on Herencia Altes than 450 meters above sea level.  Because it is not a very famous wine region’s wine region here is still a lot to discover. Beautiful old vines Grenache goes into this young and fresh red wine.  Tasty and elegant, soft wine with notes of ripe  red and black fruits such as blackberries and cherries, and subtle spiciness and a hint of chocolate.  Delicious wine to drink without food but also delicious with pasta, seafood and lighter mea dishes.

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