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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...

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