Champagnes & Sparkling wines

Valentine’s day is quickly approaching, and that can mean just one thing -the ely Champagne and sparkling wine tasting!!!

Here is just a sample of some of the wonderful wines we’ll be tasting on February 13th…


Valentines art work

1. Ca’ Morlin Prosecco Frizzante
This is a perfect choice for entertaining of any kind. Not only is it everything a Prosecco should be- fresh, frothy and fruity- this is also frizzante. This means that is has a softer spritz or fizz than most sparklers, and as a result, attracts a lower rate of duty from our lovely government. So, the same producer will make both a Spumante (Sparkling) and a Frizzante (less sparkling) but the latter can cost up to €5 less in a shop. Don’t be put off by a screwcap on your Frizzante – just be prepared to drink up – the bubbles won’t last as long.

2. Campos de Estrellas Cava
As we all know, over the course of the last decade, Champagne sales have significantly fallen and Prosecco sales have rocketed. All well and good, and to be expected. But for some reason, Cava seemed to miss out on the cheaper sparkling wine boom. This is a great pity, not only because there are some wonderful wines being made, but also because they are much closer in style to Champagne. Usually produced from native Spanish varieties such as Xarel- lo and Paralada, although some include a little Chardonnay, Cava often displays some of the lovely biscuity, yeasty flavours found in great Champagne, alongside pear and apple fruit. It is also light enough to drink by itself, or, if you’re feeling indulgent, with breakfast.

bollinger3. Bollinger Special Cuvee
One of the most famous names in Champagne, and with good reason. Bollinger have been doing things their way, and producing their distinct style of Champagne regardless of trends or fads. The blend is dominated by Pinot Noir, providing a structure and ‘vinous’ quality not often found in NV Champagnes. In fact, it is often described as being more “wine –like” than many of its peers. This is most certainly true when it comes to food. On its own, Bollinger is without question one of my favourite Champagnes, however, when paired well with food it becomes one of my all time favourite wines. It is especially wonderful with shellfish such as lobster and prawns, but also works with poultry and even some cheese.

Something a little different..? A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, just like in Champagne, but this is from southern England. This area is proving itself to be perfect for sparkling wine production, and Nyetimber are the pick of the crop! Lovely lemon tart aromas, a rich biscuity palate and perfect balance. This is not just Champagne quality- this is better than most! Do yourself a favour…..

5. G.D. Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2012
One of my finds of the year, and, as a style of wine criminally undervalued. Produced from the Moscato grape in Piedmonte, this is a lightly sparkling, lightly sweet dessert wine. Bursting with flavours of peach and apricot, and with a lively citrus twist, this is one of the most refreshing wines I can think of, and ideal for when you’ve eaten a little too much, but not yet ready to give up. It is also only 5.5% alcohol, so there is no excuse not to try it.

Taittinger6. Taittinger Nocturne “Sec” NV Champagne
Sec Champagnes have never really taken off in Ireland but that is all about to change.
Yes, “Sec “ means sweet, but these should not be thought of in the sense of traditional sweet wines. Taittinger are renowned for their delicate yet powerful Champagnes and this is no exception, with flavours of peach and white flowers, followed by a subtly sweet, but distinctively smooth and mellow finish. Designed, and perfect, for drinking long into the night!

Champagne & Sparkling Feb 13th 2014 – €45 Click here to reguster
Just in time for V-day- this tasting will come in handy if you’re planning to drink some bubbles! Join us in ely to sample the wonderful array of sparkling wines from around the world.
Of course there’ll be Champagne, but there’ll be a few surprises too!

For more information about wine tastings and Valentine’s Day visit

Syrah & Shiraz

Syrah & Shiraz.
I always find this to be one of the most interesting tastings of the year, not just because it is one of my favourite grapes, but because everyone who attends seems to have an expectation confounded, or a prejudice overturned. Those committed to the Northern Rhone find a connection with the elegance and restraint of great New Zealand Syrah- this has got to be the future of NZ reds??- or the constantly impressive cool-climate Aussies – Clonakilla.

Likewise, those more accustomed to the New World styles find themselves seduced by the wonderful smoky, savoury character of St. Joseph or Crozes Hermitage. And then there are the outsiders, wines which fit neither profile, but express an entirely new side to this fantastic grape- Tuscan Syrah being the perfect example.

Yan Chave

Choosing highlights from a tasting like this is always difficult, simply because I could easily argue a case for all of the wines we tasted. So instead, I’ll choose the two that got the best feedback from our esteemed and eager tasters!
Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage 2011 – long a favourite in ely, not just because Yann himself is such a character, but because his wines have such a wonderful purity of flavour.
Sourced from three different terroirs, the 2011 is a stunner – intense dark berry fruit, that lip-smacking acidity that you only get from great Northern Rhône Syrah, and lovely smoky, savoury flavours starting to come through on the finish.
John_DuvalJohn Duval Entity 2010- at the far end of the Syrah/Shiraz spectrum, but just a beautifully put together! The nose is incredible- we must have 20 different aromas from blackberry and cherry to anise, chocolate, coffee and licourice. The palate is rich but not heavy, velvety smooth with everything in seamless harmony. The flavours last an age… this wine left the room in absolute silence. Well, before the “wow”’ started!
So, after all those amazing wines we now turn our attention from the Northern Rhone to the South, and in particular, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Watch this space !!!!

Click here  more info and to register to an ely wine tastings evenings

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