Tag Archives: Pinot Gris

Superquinn Italian Sale

Just had this from SQ

OVER 50 Italian wines reduced to €5.00 at Superquinn, this weekend only

“From Thursday 18th to Sunday 21stSeptember shoppers will be able to stock up on their favourite Italian wines* at up to 80% off the normal retail price, with a further 5% off when they purchase any six bottles.

Over 50 wines are included in the clearance, selling at €5 strictly while stocks last.

Superquinn’s end of summer clearance offers a huge range of wines that usually retail from €5.49 right up to €30.59, all retailing for just €5 a bottle this weekend,

included in the sale are:

_

Tommasi Valpolicella Amarone, €5.00 (Normal RSP €30.59)

This is a classic Amarone, with dark morello cherry fruits layered over a raisin fruit core, pure elegance and class.

Castello D’Albola Chianti Classico, €5.00 (Normal RSP €24.49)

This Chianti comes from the heartland of the Chianti region in Tuscany, with woodland and cherry flavours with a dark smoky background.

_
Marques de Collavini Pinot Grigio, €5.00 (Normal RSP €12.99)

Italy is the heartland of Pinot Grigio which is fast becoming one of the most popular styles of white wine in Ireland._ This wine is crisp with green apple flavours and a hint of nuttiness on the finish.

Casa Mia Organic Grillo, €5.00 (Normal RSP €8.99)

Sicily has become one of the heartlands of organic wine, with its beneficial climate negating the need for the use of chemicals._ Grillo is indigenous to Sicily and offers rounded melon flavours that can age.

*A limit of 6 bottles per customer will apply

**Sparkling wines are not included in the sale

COMMENTS ABOVE ARE SUPERQUINN’S NOT MINE. PERSONALLY I HAVE NO TIME FOR AT LEAST 90 PER CENT OF ITALIAN PINOT GRIGIO – ALMOST EVERY EXAMPLE I’VE EVER TASTED WAS BLAND AND CHARACTERLESS.

AT THE SAME TIME, I THOUGHT THIS INFO WAS WELL WORTH PASSING ON.

THE AMARONE, IN PARTICULAR, LOOKS A BIT OF A BARGAIN – Ernie

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GUBU IV Good/Unlovable/Brilliant/Undrinkable

January 17th ushered in the Year of The Monkey which we celebrated with a Chinese Banquet chez moi, cooked by the esteemed Chung Yin who formulates all those tangy and entirely authentic Chinese sauces for Sharwoods. Chung is an amazing guy, a great chef too and produced a menu to die for including duck, beef, succulent scallops, fat muscly king prawns and a whole steamed sea bass, not to mention a dessert.
I’ll put the recipes on stove slave as soon as I have them to hand.
Six of us consumed all the above, plus ten wines (but not necessarily in the order listed below) viz:-

Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 1999, Alsace.
Lovely, beautifully bottle aged wine of some style and class. I’d like to get some more of this.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rich Reserve 1996
An older style of Champagne, a last minute dosage giving a richly sumptuous brew that you couldn’t call sweet, more lush and decadent. I could have drunk this all through the meal.

Springfield Estate Methode Ancienne Chardonnay 2002
Thank god I’ve got another bottle, I want to let it lie. Impressive now, I suspect there’s bags of keeping in this fullsome eminently stylish and beautifully balanced Chard. One of the superstars of a stellar evening. One guest said “If you’d told me this was 70 quidsworth of Puligny Montrachet I wouldn’t have demurred!”

Vasse Felix 2002 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River W.Aust
A hard act to follow, the Methode Ancienne, but this buttery expansive Aussie from one of WA’s best producers held up nicely.

Nepenthe Pinot Gris 2002
Decent , different drinking with some (American?) barrel age lending a touch of distinction. A bit lost by this stage, but would have made a very decent warm up – alternative to the Trimbach above

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose
Very decent gear, flavoursome, dry, crisp, slight tayberry fruit flavours with a little herby kick. I like these guys.

Cordoba Crescendo 2000 Helderberg, Stellenbosch SA
A brilliantly balanced Bordeaux Blend varying from year to year but always majoring on Cabernet Franc, another huge hit on the night. Complex, intense figgy fruit, herbal and flowering current fragrance, lovely powdery aftertaste, massive length, everything you could wish for in a wine and for the price charged (well under e20) fantastic value for money.

Albet Y Noya Col Leccio 1999 Penedes Spain
Brilliant stuff from Spain’s kings of organic wine. Mint on the nose, blackcurrant, plums and all sorts of nice things on the palate and again, huge length.

Penfolds Bin 389 Shiraz/Cabernet 1997
The “baby Grange”, always a class act, a darling of a red wine from the guys who’ve forgotten more about Shiraz than most New World wine makers know. Elegant, dark, brooding, plummy with black coffee overtones and a fine white pepper nose this is one joyful wine.

Villa Maria Pinot Noir 2000
Middle of the road NZ Pinot. Clear evidence that they are getting to grips with this difficult grape the French call “The Black Bitch.” Some way to go before it gets desirable, though. For me, Felton Road leads by miles.

Also tasted recently

Springfield Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2003
I seem to keep plugging this but with every bottle I drink it seems to shout “World Class” in fact Springfield are making some of the best wines to come out of South Africa so I’m entirerly unabashed. Pristine SB, with that killer so-refreshing mineral zip – for me you can keep most of the Kiwi gooseberryfests if I could drink this. Bloody brilliant and only e15-ish a bottle.

Nugan Third Generation Chardonnay 2002. South East Australia.
Decent stuff, quite civilized for Aussie. Nice melon notes without diving into mango & pineapple overload. This should do very well for SuperValu

Nepenthe Pinot Gris 2000
Like the above only more so, mellowed with two year’s extra bottle age. Lovely stuff, deep gold, honeyed, subtle, great melon and marzipan flavour

Gigondas Laurus 1999 Gabriel Meffre – first bottle of this I’ve had since GUBU II so maybe time for a bit of a rethink as it’s mellowing out nicely, plummy and dark morello flavours, good long finish and still quite a bit of keeping in there.

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SOLE SEARCHING – pairing wine with fish

No subject causes diners so much angst, or wine writers so many headaches, as the pairing of wine and food.

There are three schools of thought on wine and food pairings. There are the people who say “drink what you like to drink” and I have some sympathy with this view. The second school follows the ‘rules’ developed by wine writers over many years which lay down specific matches – red wine with red meat, white wine with fish. Unfortunately by the late-20th century these rules had become set in stone, offering no solution to a diner seeking wines to complement the vibrant international cuisine rapidly becoming commonplace in restaurants and homes. The third school, to which on balance I belong, takes pains to find elemental matches while, at the same time, stressing that there are no perfect pairings and few imperfect ones, or in a nutshell “anything goes, but some things go better than others”.
The emergence of ethnic and that much abused word, ‘fusion’, cooking liberated wine writers from having to expound the conventional wisdom and caused them to focus instead on the food on the plate. At the same time the new availability of hitherto ‘undiscovered’ or neglected varietals presented further oportunities to re-write the canon. Nevertheless, we cannot discount entirely the old truisms. White wine is undoubtedly the perfect foil for white fish and it would be a brave wine or food writer indeed who would challenge the classic pairing of wild salmon and Chablis.
The first rule, if there is a rule, must be ‘look to the region’ and a brief scan of a topographical map of France will reveal that the upper reaches of many of that nation’s most notable salmon rivers run either through the Burgundy region or close to its fringes. Go to the Vendee or to the Charente Maritime and suss out what the locals are drinking with their oysters and you’ll find it’s invariably Muscadet, made a mere thirty or so miles inland around the lower reaches of the Loire. It applies in the New World too. Although New Zealanders are far less zealous about ‘what they drink with what’, the Taupo fisherman, celebrating the landing of a monster trout, invariably wolfs the monster down accompanied by a glass or three of Sauvignon Blanc.
Here’s the next clue – acidity. After years of experimentation I’ve come to the conclusion that wines with a high acidity level suit fish, simply cooked, to perfection. And before anyone writes in to say “that’s so obvious” I’ll agree, yes it is. But before I came to these conclusions I went down many a false trail – New World Chardonnay and Riesling to name but two. Okay, so why don’t we drink Muscadet, better still Gros Plant – wine’s equivalent of battery acid – with everything? There are two reasons: the first being that these are not terribly satisfying wines in their own right. More important is that super-sharp acidity has its own natural counterbalance – salt. Which is why Muscadet goes so well with oysters, Fino Sherry with anchovies and Vino Verde with sardines. Reduce or take away the salt factor and lean, austere, high in acid wines taste… lean, austere, high in acid.
So cool climate Chardonnay, not over-oaked, with your wild salmon – I won’t eat farmed salmon anyway so I’m not going to comment further. Although Pinot Noir from one of the less serious appelations can work if you’d prefer to drink red – the Burgundian thing again! And a good Sancerre, perhaps, with your unsullied cod, haddock, hake or black sole. Lovely. But let’s stress again the lack of dogma and say if you like to play with Pinot Grigio or Gavi, fine.
Add a sauce, the kaleidoscope gets shaken up and the picture changes. Although to me anyone who puts more than a plain hollandaise with salmon, or a beurre blanc with a few strands of fennel and the odd shrimp with a fine hunk of white fish, is nothing short of a vandal. Alsace Riesling, ultimate all-purpose food wine, and, perhaps, that fine grape Gruner Veltliner become possibilities. The Sauvignon can be New World. Or you could go for broke and drink one of the more full-bodied Champagnes.
Mackerel always presents me with a problem. Fresh caught, I love this fish. But I love it most in summer accompanied by a puree of beetroot and horseradish or wasabi; or by a sauce made from my own gooseberries, a dessert variety, not too tart. Provocative stuff when it comes to matching; and the answer is… oak! Here’s where New World Chardonnay starts to do it for me. Not the currently fashionable unoaked ones but the big old traddies. Hunter Valley Semillons work fine too. Smoked food can do weird things to wine. Nevertheless, for me, smoked Irish salmon (note the wording) and Alsace Pinot Blanc are food and drink’s equivalent of Rodgers and Hart.
I love fish (and shellfish) cooked in Asian styles – Goan curries for example, Thai ways with prawns – chili, lemongras, galangal, palm sugar coatings; or the crab or sea bass baked with ginger and scallions that the Chinese do so well. With onion-heavy curries tannins help counteract the richness suggesting, against all the odds, Cabernet Sauvignon. Any sweetness in the food, I counterbalance with big, soft rounded flavours – Semillon, Viognier or Gruner Veltliner perhaps in whites and Merlot, Grenache or Zinfandel in reds.
Scientists say the tongue’s taste receptors can detect five aspects of flavour: sweetness, sourness, salinity and bitterness, plus the umami, best described perhaps as a kind of ‘feel good factor’. Similarly, when seeking wine to go with Asian food I like to separate the food into its components. Chilli, ginger and coriander in particular, are hard to deal with. Zinfandel used to be my preference but latterly I’ve come to believe that Riesling is your only man with Thai food, particularly fish dishes.
Chinese food, goes well with Gewürztraminer, pundits tell you and the match of the aforsaid baked sea bass and a decent Alasce Gewurz (and there are few bad ones) is one made in heaven. However, not everyone appreciates this highly spiced and perfumed grape and as alternatives I would suggest maybe a Viognier, Rousanne or Marsanne.

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Not much to say about wine, is there?

Only joking. Well, sort of. Judging by the number of books written on the subject, from scholarly biochemical treatises to the ‘aroma of petrol with overtones of ripe mango and wet slippers’ gush, there’s quite a lot to be said. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that there are really only four questions you need to ask when confronted with an unfamiliar bottle.
These are:
• Is the smell agreeable?
• Do I like the taste?
• After I’ve drunk the wine, does it leave me with any lasting impression?
• How much does it cost and would I buy it if I could afford it?
A touch simplistic, I know. but wine is like any other hobby. You can sit back, quaff and enjoy or you can don your anorak and gown and take the pursuit of knowledge to Professor of Trainspotting levels. The choice is yours, but, along the way, don’t be misled by pontificating pseudo-pundits or by reputations. Be wary of domineering bluffers. Trust your tastebuds and learn to make your own judgements. In my former capacity as a wine critic, I was privileged to attend a vertical tasting of one of the First Growth Medoc wines. (A vertical tasting is where you compare different vintages of the same wine, as opposed to a horizontal tasting, where you compare different wines made in the same year, nothing to do with drinking to excess). Albert, the host, had found some bottles of the ’68 in his cellar and thought it might be interesting to throw them in among the majestic ’75s and ’78s. 1968 was one of those vintages that turn up now and again to remind man that he is still a long way from conquering nature so it came as no surprise to find that the ’68 didn’t measure up the grower’s reputation. Nevertheless, I wasn’t prepared for how throat-clutchingly bad it was. I wrote one word in my tasting notes. That word was ‘undrinkable’. One of my fellow tasters was looking over my shoulder at the time. Affronted as if I’d written ‘the guy behind me is an ugly bugger’, he spun me round to accuse me of heresy.
‘You can’t say that. It’s Chateau Bombast. How can you say Chateau Bombast is undrinkable?’ I stood my ground, inviting him to taste some more. He declined, instead going off to drum up reinforcements for his standpoint. He returned with a friend. ‘Algy’, he said, ‘here’s a man who says the ’68 Bombast is undrinkable’. ‘You can’t say that’, said Algy, ‘it costs forty one quid a bottle’. If there are two worse reasons for declaring a wine to be of merit, I’ve yet to hear them.
When matching wine to food, be wary of the exotic imagery school. If the bouquet of New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay Chardonnay reminds you of green bananas, almonds, Oil of Ulay and old rugger boots, well and good; but if what you really need to know is ‘will this wine do the business with my Black Sole Bercy?’ A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will suffice. Speaking of emotive language, a wine merchant friend lucky enough to possess one of the world’s most discerning palates had but three categories in which to place wine. These were, in order of merit, ‘crap, sound and fucking sound’. In ten years of tasting with Paul I never found a reason to doubt his judgment.
The old sages of cookery used to dictate ‘red wine with meat, white with fish’, good advice in the days when people, if they drank wine at all, drank awful Liebfraumilch. These days, it’s a more complex affair with every grape variety known to man on the supermarket shelves. I’d rather advise that you:
• ignore the above red/white dictum
• remember Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are not the only grapes. There is a good deal of enjoyment to be had in exploring varietal wine made from Grenache, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo not to mention Syrah (Shiraz), Sauvignon Blanc and blended wines. Live a little.
• drink complex, heavyweight wines with rich foods and light, fragrant wines with delicately flavoured dishes.
• don’t waste money drinking really expensive wines with red sauced Italian food, especially pasta dishes.
• drink a counterpunching wine with Chinese food. Like the robust Piedmontese reds, Barolo or Barbaresco. Or old-style Aussie shiraz. If you prefer white wine drink Gewurztraminer or a big, oaked Chardonnay.
• drink beer, water or lassi (spiced yoghurt) with curry.

Oh, what the hell. If you favour champagne or Johnnie Walker Black Label with filet de boeuf en croute, or with Bangalore Phal for that matter, then go for it. But try to have on hand something a bit more mainstream for your guests.
Any bottle of wine is only as good as your memory of it. And no palate is perfect. I used to reckon mine was pretty good. Until I got into the finals of a competition, held by The Observer newspaper, to ‘Win Your Own Weight in Wine’ *. The twelve finalists had to undergo an ordeal in which we were each presented with twenty four glasses of wine, grouped in threes, and asked questions about each group. As befitting a serious affair, spittoons and palate neutralising nibbles were provided. By the end of the evening I could tell a Bath Oliver from a Carr’s Table Water Biscuit, blindfold. And nothing more.

* about six and a half cases. Winner got claret; runner up, champagne; third place, burgundy. The rest were given one mixed case each. My cunning suggestion that we pool all the prizes, i.e. we depute the three heaviest contestants to make a serious stab at the questions (one fat guy was worth a conservative nine cases), while the rest of us treat the night as a piss up, was turned down by the misery guts who eventually finished twelfth and serve him bloody well right.

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