WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

04 September 2011

Belfast Wine Festival, the aftermath…

Belfast's first Wine Festival appeared to go swingingly last Bank Holiday Monday at St. George's market, which proved a perfectly satisfactory venue for the show (light enough, laid-back, has a lived-in food&drinkie feel to it). As I mentioned in my previous post, Olly Smith was on hand to liven up a couple of tastings with his usual enthusiasm or throw in wine matching tips for the chef demos that also took place live. There were a few good food stands there too, including Spanish caterer Tapitas who did a tasty wee platter of tapas for a fiver (paella, cured ham, chorizo, tortilla...) and the Co. Down Honey Farm (Crossgar) matching it with goats' cheese, sweet wines etc.
One small criticism perhaps: seems a tad mean to charge £16.50 entry, then another £5 if people wanted to try a further wave of ten wines (and then another fiver for the big samplers...). I appreciate the organiser would want to make a decent profit and it's not wise to let people 'try' as many as they like... But why not, e.g. put out more tip-buckets and encourage punters that they don't have to drain every drop in their glass (naive, moi)?! I've knocked up notes on my twenty-something favourite wines deemed to be very good for one reason or another: post a comment if you agree or disagree, or with yours…

Torres' Fransola vineyard, Upper Penedès
Whites
Italy: 2009 Primo Bianco Vermentino di Sardegna (13% alc.) – lovely example of the usually pleasant-surprise Vermentino grape variety, with floral honeysuckle aromas and peachy lightly tropical fruit notes, weighty vs elegant mouth-feel, tasty and intense finish. £10.99
France: 2009 Patrick Piuze Petit Chablis (Chardonnay, 12.5% alc.) – riper and fruitier (and less expensive) than a still good 2008 Chablis on show (by Domaine des Marronniers), this has nice classic creamy vs quite ‘mineral’ profile, attractive juicy fruit with good bite and zest. £14.99
2010 La Croix Gratiot Roussanne, Domaine Sainte Croix, Languedoc (13.5%) – quite rich with perfumed honey blossom and subtle toasty / yeast lees edges, nice balance of oomph and interesting flavours as the Roussanne grape often delivers. £9.49
South Africa: 2010 Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling, Elgin (the most southerly region on the coast, 10.5% alc.) - gorgeous linseed-oily and honeyed tones, rich sweet palate with dried apricot, pineapple, honey and citrus flavour combo vs attractive underlying fresh acidity. £12.49 half-bottle.
Spain: Torres 2009 Waltraud Riesling, Penedès (13%) - Torres must be the only one in Spain to plant Riesling (?), up in the hills northwest of Barcelona (see photo above taken from torres.es), and what a result! Floral 'mineral' style, quite intense and definitely Riesling-like showing hints of ripe citrus and oily development on nose/palate with enticing 'chalky' bite. £9.99


Rosé: Torres 2010 De Casta rosado, Catalunya (13.5%) - much simpler wine than above, and totally different of course, but this typical Catalan rosé is always enjoyable vintage after vintage. Ripe perfumed raspberry and rose petal notes, quite full-on mouth-feel with rounded vs crisp finish. £7.99


Reds
Italy: 2010 Gran Sasso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (the grape, the region) - tasty chunky red with liquorice tones and hints of coconut, powerful firm palate with well-integrated oak and ripe vs dry finish, good stuff. £9.99
2005 Allegrini La Poja, Verona (100% Corvina variety from a single vineyard, 14.5%) - complex maturing nose with savoury and old-wood tones, has a fair kick and acidity too lending nice bite to its grip, quite fine actually with attractive maturing fruit. £57!
2007 Allegrini Amarone Classico (same area as above, different grapes and winemaking 15.5%) - full-on style with maturing fig, date and liquorice fruit; grippy vs sweet-fruit palate, pretty classic Amarone style, tastes rounder and older than the above, funnily enough. £49
South Africa: 2010 Ernie Els Big Easy, Western Cape (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Viognier; 14.5%) - some varietal blend that, giving a punchy spicy red with herby minty tones vs dark fruits and liquorice, concentrated solid mouth-feel with 'sweet/savoury' profile and plenty of flavour; very South African but 'modern' if you follow me. £14.99
2008 Glenelly Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch (14.5%) - hints of coconut oak layered with concentrated 'inky' cassis fruit, quite extracted tannins vs rich liquorice too, big smoky and lush vs tangy finish. Pretty serious stuff, successful SA / Bordeaux combo (the owner was a top chateau owning nob from the latter). £10.99
2008 Glenelly Lady May Stellenbosch (91% Cabernet Sauvignon & 9% Petit Verdot, to be precise! 14.5% alc.) - even more Pauillac leaning, leafy vs spicy new-oak edges, concentrated firm and tight palate vs tasty long finish and lingering 'sweet/savoury' fruit. Wow. I'd perhaps prefer a touch more ripeness / less austere style although classy stuff. £25
2008 Spice Route Mourvèdre (14.5%) - spicy minty nose with a bit of slightly clunky oak, this has good substance though with again those herbal red pepper tones vs punchy dark fruit palate and chocolate oak texture. £9.99


All the wines above were supplied by Nick's Wines (Belfast, on-line) / Harry's Road Fine Wines (wholesale to restaurants). 
These reds below are available from Mundus Wine Company (Belfast):
Australia: 2008 Crackerjack Riverbend Shiraz/Viognier, Victoria (14%) - oak spice and black pepper notes plus sweet black cherry and blackberry; rounded mouth-feel with sweet fruit vs oomph and dry grip, aromatic too on the finish and fairly classy in the end. £11.99
2008 Nick Faldo Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra/South Australia (made by Katnook Estate, 13.5%) - cassis and coconut on the nose, quite intense palate with 'sweet/savoury' fruit, attractive tannins and punch vs tasty maturing and subtle too.
2007 O'Leary Walker Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills/S. Australia (12.5%) - elegant and juicy with typical 'sweet/savoury' perfumed Pinot style, fresh bite and a bit of oomph too, quite fine and long on the finish. £15.99
2003 O'Leary Walker The Ghan Sleeper Reserve Shiraz, Southern Flinders Ranges/S. Aus (15%) - delicious maturing meaty nose with liquorice and spice too, complex and big chewy mouthful, lush and concentrated, powerful yet with soft tannins; tasty foodie red with lots of flavours. £25


And a trio of tantalizing reds from Nouveau Wines (Groomsport):
Argentina: Pascual Toso 2009 Malbec, Mendoza region (14%) - spicy and punchy, hints of oak layered with red and black fruits, rounded tannins and 'sweet/savoury' finish. £10.25
South Africa: Simonsig Pinotage 2008 - smoky maturing complex nose with liquorice notes too, lively tangy mouth-feel vs lusher smoother side, powerful finish with 'earthy'/'tar' characters even! £10.25
Spain: 2008 Carlos Serres Old Vines Tempranillo, Rioja (13%) - light oak tones enhanced by developing savoury meaty and dried fruit, intense concentrated palate with rich maturing finish. Classy. £9.99


France: Chateau de la Ligne, Bordeaux - owned by N. Ireland businessman Terry Cross, more info and stockists @ chateaudelaligne.com - 2008: slightly leafy blackcurranty nose, quite smooth and tasty, fairly light but has substance too for not a great vintage. 2007: also a difficult year in Bordeaux weather-wise, this is a touch richer and firmer with a bit more oak, well-balanced though and more closed up than the 08 actually. £12.99


Finally, back to Spain and a couple of Torres reds:
2009 San Valentín Garnacha (14%) - aromatic ripe Grenache style with juicy cherry fruit and liquorice, soft vs punchy mouth-feel; attractive sweet vs dry texture, powerful yet very drinkable! £7.99
2007 Celeste Crianza, Ribero del Duero (relatively new wine and territory for Torres, this is probably mostly made from Tempranillo in this increasingly trendy region of northern-central Spain; 13.5% alc.) - scented cedar-y aromas with ripe berry and cassis fruit, quite lush and structured yet elegant and stylish, even if a little too Rioja like. £12.99 


Anyway, enough of my ramblings: see you there next year. I might think about doing a tutored tasting or something like that, if the organiser is game on. Watch this futuristic space...

No comments:

Post a Comment