Explaining Italian red wines with ely wine bar, Dublin

Italy can be as confusing as France when it comes to knowing what you are drinking. There are over 1,000 indigenous varieties in Italy and the wines produced in the cool northern hills of the Alto-Adige are wildly different from those made in the baking heat in Puglia down south.  Although it might seem confusing trying to understand the grapes and appellations of Italy, it’s an utterly rewarding task!

Broadly speaking there are 3 characteristics found in all Italian red wines: cherry fruit, refreshing acidity and firm tannins. The reason Italian wines make such great food wines is the combination of mouth-watering acidity and firm tannins which are the ideal components when matching food with wine. Below are some of the great Italian red grapes, and if these whet your appetite, then join us at our key Italian red grapes tasting on the 28th September 2011.

Chianti, Brunello, Vino di Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano: Sangiovese is the principle grape grown in the rolling Tuscan hills. In its ubiquitous Chianti form it is both sweet and sour, with cherries, cranberries, redcurrants and hints of rosemary and thyme. Chianti at it’s best is complex and layered with both red fruit and herbs, our favourite producers include Fontodi and Isole E Olena. Brunello is the big daddy of Tuscany and must be with 100% Sangiovese, it is a rich, complex and elegant glass of wine – with a savouriness of herbs, tomatoes and hints of violets.  The 2004 and 2005 vintages have both been exceptional and it you shop around you should find great examples of these. Vino Nobile and Morellino both make great Sangiovese and represent good quality and value for money. What should you eat with Sangiovese – roast leg of lamb stuffed with garlic and rosemary. And pretty much anything with a rich to tomato sauce!

Barolo: If Tuscany is the heart of the great Italian reds, Piedmont is the soul. The wines of Barolo, in the heart of Piedmont, are often likened to Burgundian Pinot Noir for their elegance, complexity and savouriness. The grape in Barolo is Nebbiolo and its typical characteristics are very high acidity and lots of tannins with perfumed and delicate flavours of damsons, red cherries, mulberries, dried fruits and herbs.  With bottle age the tannins mature and the wine becomes very light in colour with a silky texture. Our current favourite is made by Cantina Giacomo Borgogno e Figli. It is a wine that  will make you fall in love with Italy if you have not already done so! Try with braised pheasant and red cabbage, or with some really stinky cheese!

Barbera: Also native to Piedmont is Barbera. Lighter in colour than Nebbiolo and less serious, yet it punches above its weight with those yummy cherry red fruit and earthy tones. The distinguishing characteristics are  high tangy acidity and a light colour. Very much in fashion with the Pinot Noir drinkers of the world! Barbera is grown across Piedmont with the most famous towns being Alba and Asti.  Barbera d’Alba tends to be more serious and complex than the fresh and bright Barbera d’Asti . Our current favourite is Vigne Marina Coppi’s Sant’Andrea 2008. What to eat with a glass of barbera? We’d suggest a pepperoni pizza!

Valpolicella and Amarone: From around the region of north-east Italy, in the Veronese hills, Valpolicella is made from a blend of 3 local grapes:  Corvina, Molinaro and Rondinella. In it’s most common form, Valpolicella is one of the lightest, simplest wines you can get in Italy, but these wines are certainly worth exploring. Unique to Veronese wine is a style called Amarone. Made using the best quality Valpolicella grapes and allowing them to dry out over the winter. Rather than making wine with fresh juicy grapes as normal, Amarone is made with grapes that resemble raisins. This creates serious intensity and body as well as wines that are high in both alcohol and natural sugars, with delicious flavours of dried figs, prunes, cherries, spice and herbs. There is another process unqiue to Verona, the ‘ripasso method’ wines are made by fermenting standard Valpolicella on the skins of grapes used to make Amarone and are often referred to as baby Amarone. Fancy a truly great Valpolicella, try Allegrini’s Palazzo della Torre, a single vineyard Ripasso method Valpolicella. Try this and you’ll never look back!

Negroamaro: Never heard of it? Bet you’ve tasted it before! Negroamaro is one of the grapes in Salice Salentino, from Puglia in Italy’s heel. It is perfumed, earthy and quite robust – especially if it is going to withstand the baking heat of Southern Italy! If you are looking for great value for  money the wines of Southern Italy are the perfect place to shop. Other local varieties include Primitivo and Malvasia Nero. As cliche as it sounds, the best dish to have with this is pasta salsiccia, pasta with spicy sausage!

Contact wineclub@elywinebar.com for more information or to reserve your ticket at one of our wine nights!

*** UPCOMING EVENTS 2012***

7th December: Sweet, Stickie and Fortified Tasting
19th January: Bordeaux
26th January: Great Whiskeys of the World
2nd February: Chateauneuf du Pape
16th February: Southern France
22nd February: Italy

 

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Wine Tasting: Sauvignon Blanc’s of the World and many more!

The Old World v New World tasting took place last night in ely winebar.

24 enthusiasts arrived at 7pm delighted for the excuse to learn and, ahem, drink delicious wines on a Monday evening! Start as you mean to go on was the motto as Michele Jordan introduced the white wines of the evening.

WHITES
First up we looked at a grape native to Sardinia and Corsica but grown across Tuscany called Vermentino. Poggiotondo Bianco, made by the very talented winemaker Alberto Antonini is bright and zippy with delicate floral hints. The perfect summer wine! We compared this to it’s Aussie counterpart  a Vermentino grown in McLaren Vale. McLaren Vale is tempered by the sea breezes and produces wines with real finesse. Mitolo Vermentino is no exception. At 10% alcohol and light in body it is extremely refreshing, as a drink in its own right and as a wine style coming from the hot climes of Australia.

Round two was a comparison of Sauvignon Blanc from Australia, New Zealand and France. Everyone at the tasting had tried many a Sauvignon Blanc but couldn’t hide their delight at comparing the 3 key styles. Sancerre is an appellation in Loire, France that produces the archetypal Sauvignon Blanc: lean and focused with great minerality and green fruit whilst the Delta Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough jumped out of the glass with its tropical fruit aromas and brilliant intensity. Australia’s interpretation was easily the winner of the evening. Made in the Adelaide Hills by Shaw and Smith, it was definitely one of the stars of the evening. Restrained and elegant with a  full creamy texture and appley fruit aromatics. It sat perfectly in between France and New Zealand. Unusual for an Australia to retain all the subtle aromatics of Sauvignon Blanc and the tasters couldn’t help but be enamoured by the whole package.

REDS
The red flights included Pinot Noir from Australia, France and New Zealand and an extremely interesting comparison of Sangiovese made in its home town of Chianti, Italy and also in Heathcote, Australia. Interestingly there was no clear favourite in either comparison. Domaine Lafarge ‘s Volnay was the lightest in body with savoury aromas and dark cherries, New Zealand’s offering was Delta’s Hatters Hill Pinot. I have tasted this wine many a time and last night it was truly delicious. The 2008 vintage has really come out of its shell with yummy fresh summer fruit and undertones of spice. Yummy YUMMY. The last in the flight was Shaw and Smith’s Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills. Denser in colour and driven more by sweet fruit than savoury spice it is the most full-bodied of the three.

Most people love the taste of Chianti without ever knowing what the magic ingredient is that makes it so delicious – the grape Sangiovese! Widely grown across the Tuscan hills it produces wines with cherry and raspberry aromas, herbaceous tones, refreshing acidity and ripe tannins. Good Chianti is a wonderful thing and we experienced two delicious interpretations last night. Poggiotondo Chianti Superiore and Greenstone Sangiovese. My preference is for the richer, full bodied Aussie number which had aged well with soft fine tannins and lots of fruit whist other liked the softer and more delicate Italian one.

Just a quick update on the next session of wine tastings!

April Tastings

April 13th  – The Malbecs of Argentina and France
April 20th – New Zealand
April 27th – Barossa Valley v Rhone Valley – Shiraz on 2 continents.

Summer Wine Tasting Sessions

25th May: Summer Rose
1st June: Summer Whites
8th June: Summer Reds
15th June: Summer Sparklers
22nd June: Organic and Biodynamic Wine – tasting the difference

Visit our website for more details or contact Michelle Lawlor at 01 678 7867 / wineclub@elywinebar.com
Thanks for reading!

Stockists for the wines are as follows!

Stockists

Mitchells, Glasthule & IFSC

Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2

Jus De Vine, Portmarnock

Red Island Wine Co, Skerries

Sweeneys, Glasnevin

64 Wine, Glasthule

On the Grapevine, Dalkey

Drinkstore, Manor St

Next Door, Enfield

Callans, Dundalk

Red Nose Wine, Clonmel

Redmonds of Ranelagh

Terroirs, Donnybrook

Donnybrook Fair

Corkscrew, Dublin 2

Celtic Whiskey Shop, Dublin 2

The Vineyard, Galway

World Wide Wines, Waterford

Wine tasting in Dublin: a Masterclass in Europe v the Southern Hemisphere

Wine Masterclass
New World v Old World

On the 11th April ely bar & brasserie will present a masterclass in global wine styles featuring guest speaker Michele Jordan.

Michele Jordan has worked in the wine trade for over 20 years and represents some of the world’s most highly acclaimed winemakers. Through the evening Michele will talk us through the key differences between Europe, Australia and New Zealand, explaining why Europe looks towards Australia and New Zealand for emerging styles and why Australia and New Zealand are starting to emulate their European counterparts.

Ever wondered why wines from the Southern Hemisphere taste so different from those of Europe, or why New Zealand now rivals France on world class production of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The masterclass will feature 4 flights including a comparison of Sauvignon Blancs from Australia, New Zealand and France, Pinot Noirs from Australia, New Zealand and France and look at Italian varietals emerging from Australia!

Ticket price: €45
Date: 11th April 2011
Venue: ely bar & brasserie, IFSC
Time: 7pm

1ST FLIGHT
2009 Poggiotondo Bianco, Tuscany

Alberto Antonini, Poggiotondo's winemaker

Alberto Antonini, Poggiotondo's winemaker

2010 Mitolo Vermentino, McLaren Vale

 2ND FLIGHT
2010 Delta Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc
2010 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills

2009 Sautereau Sancerre, Loire

 3RD FLIGHT
2008 Delta Hatters Hill Pinot Noir, Marlborough
2008 Shaw & Smith Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills
2004 Domaine Lafarge Volnay, Burgundy

4TH FLIGHT
2008 Poggiotondo Chianti Superiore, Tuscany
2007 Greenstone Sangiovese, Heathcote
Greenstone Sangiovese

For more information or to book your place please contact Michelle Lawlor on 01 678 7867 or email wineclub@elywinebar.com.

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