Mystery German wine….

Torsten, The Winerambler, likes his German wines and he likes to trip me up with his unusual and rare finds so it was with much anticipation that I arrived at his house last night. He had promised a mystery wine and he swore I wouldn’t be able to guess what it was. Well, I have to say the cards were stacked against me, seeing as other then my favourite Riesling, I don’t have that much experience with German wine blind tastings but I was game. I had had various obscure wines at Torsten’s before so I thought I might have a fighting chance. I had seen the label briefly so I knew it was a VDP and it looked like a Weingut Knipser but that’s all I knew. While we waited for the risotto to cook, Torsten poured the wine. A clear vibrant yellow, it looked like a bright summer’s day in a glass. Nosing it, not too aromatic, bit of apricot and overripe peach, you know when it get’s to that point when it’s just about to turn and go off, not unpleasant just very sweet and slatey, you could smell the rocks. On the palate, more of the very ripe peach and apricot but with great acidity and honeyed toasted notes. Did I detect a hint of petrol? Aged riesling!? no, too obvious….a rather oily, mouthfeel…hmmm, Semillon? Viognier? No. A finish of bitter Seville orange marmelade…pinot gris aged in barrel (well, he did say it was unusual)?  Nope. Oaked chardonnay? Not-uh. By now I just started naming off all the white German varietals I could think of, sylvaner, pinot gris, gruner even! I did get into the ballpark with it’s age, guessing it to be about 9 -10 yrs old, it’s 8 yrs old, a 2003. Although Torsten  was enjoying this guessing game, he finally put me out of my misery and did the great reveal…..the Knipser 2003 Gelber Orleans Auslese. The what? Gelber Orleans? Yeah, like me or anyone outside of...

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Cafe Paradiso, eat your veggies (and drink your wine)

Do you know what my favourite thing about my press trip to Ireland was? It wasn’t the fantastic food, the amazing people (both my travelling companions and the Irish we met), the unbelievable sunny days and beautiful scenery or the fact I got to pick all the wines with most of our dinners (although those were all great!). It was the fact that we also had activities! From swimming to lounging around in a jacuzzi to kayaking down the River Lee in Cork, it was such a refreshing change from: get on the bus, get off the bus, eat, drink, repeat. I know, I may be sounding a bit churlish but anybody who’s ever been on a press trip will know what I’m talking about. We also had free time (!) and no 7am starts. A big thanks to Tourism Ireland and Eat Like A Girl for planning such a great trip.  Take note, trip planners. After all that kayaking, I was ready to  continue on with our discovery of Irish cuisine. I wanted to bite into something meaty and hearty. A vegetarian restaurant? My heart sank like a stone to the bottom of the well that was my despair as soon as I discovered we were going to a meatless restaurant. Vegetarian? Ugh, how depressing. I was plotting a room service hamburger upon our return to the hotel before we even arrived at Cafe Paradiso. A small, modern, clutter-free dining room greeted us and as we sat down to order, I got a bit of the cafe history. Cafe Paradiso wasn’t the first vegetarian restaurant in Cork, but it was the first to take vegetarian cooking out of the lentils and rice brigade and serve original and delicious vegetable based cuisine. The Cafe has won much acclaim for it’s modern approach to vegetarian cooking and they source all of their produce locally, mostly from the Gort-Na-Nain Farm, south of the city. They are so committed to using only locally sourced produce that they...

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Two Argentine whites for the holidays

Although it’s freezing cold outside,( in Europe at any rate, I’m still sunning myself in South America) there’s always room for white wine, whether as an aperitif or something to go with a roast chicken dinner, white wine is a lovely choice. Pinot grigio is often the go-to drink when people are looking for a light white wine but I’ve discovered a lovely Torrontes from Terrazas de los Andes, an Argentine winery situated in the wine region of Mendoza. Terrazas de los Andes has been producing quality wines since the 1980’s and have turned their hand at making a fresh and fruity yet dry white wine. Torrontes one of the flagship varietals of Argentina along with Malbec and is a hybrid that is unique to Argentina. A cross of malvasia and criolla chica, a native grape of Argentina, it has proven itself to be a real winner of a wine from the vines of Argentina. The Terrazas Torrontes Reserva 2009 is fresh and clean, a great wine with lovely tropical fruit notes, full bodied with great acidity and balance, it was refreshingly dry, an elegant wine which would work on it’s own or with Asian cuisine. Thai dishes, Japanese tempura, ginger, shrimp, all of these popped to mind while I was drinking this wine. Another of Terrazas wines I really enjoyed was their 2009 Chardonnay. Terrazas de los Andes’ vineyards are situated in the Lujan de Cujo region of Mendoza and the chardonnay vineyards sit at 1200 meters. This is great for producing fresh wines. Too much sun and not enough time to cool down at night would result in wines that are flabby and lack freshness and acidity. Terrazas does everything to ensure that their chardonnays are crisp and clean including NOT letting them go through malo-lactic fermentation to preserve freshness, while still exhibiting the true expression of Argentine fruit. So what does a true Argentine chardonnay taste like according to Terrazas de los Andes? A crisp, clean wine, tropical fruit notes with...

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dal Pescatore with the wines of Lugana DOC, Italy

Driving through the Italian countryside I was beginning to feel a bit peckish. I mean I hadn’t eaten in, like, the last 15 minutes so I was due for some lunch. Such was our timetable on my recent press jaunt to region of Lombardia in Italy with Gambero Rosso. I’m not complaining at all, it was a fantastic trip, we sampled some excellent cuisine and discovered (well, I did anyway) a new and exciting wine producing region, but it was a lot to take in in 5 days. One of the highlights was lunch at dal Pescatore paired with the wines of Lugana DOC, one of the lesser known appellations but one that should not be overlooked. It’s amazing the variety and quality of wines that are made in Italy. It’s a country with over a thousand different wine varieties so it’s no wonder I had never really come across the wines of Lugana. Situated quite close to the southern shores of Lake Garda, the area specializes in producing white wine made from the Turbiana  or Trebbiano di Lugana grape, as it is known there. The soils are mostly clay and produces wines that are dry and delicate but also quite lively, aromatic and well balanced. There are two types of wine that come for the region. Lugana DOC anad Lugana Superiore DOC. The Superiore is made from selected grapes and is aged for a year in oak. This makes it a much fuller wine then the Lugana DOC with more structure and spicer, riper fruit flavours and aromas. By law, producers can use up to 10% of grapes from other regions but they cannot be aromatic varietals. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, heading to dal Pescatore, a legendary restaurant of Mantua to sample their wares matched with the wines of Lugana. You definitely have to know how to get to dal Pescatore as it’s situated in a nature reserve, the Oglio Sud park, on a country road in a village...

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Sonomo Cutrer 2006 Chardonnay – brief tasting note

California chardonnay. Not usually one of my go-to wines but I had a chardonnay from Sonoma-Cutrer the other day that was really quite enjoyable. Sonoma-Cutrer is located in the Russian River Valley and have been producing quality chardonnay since the early 1980’s. I was a bit sceptical as my memory of California chardonnays are oaky butter bombs but the 2006 Sonoma-Cutrer is nothing of the sort. A straight up chardonnay, it was a clear bright wine with flecks of gold dancing around the glass. A fresh nose of tropical fruits, most notably creamy pineapple along with mango and ginger and a faint aroma of honeysuckle. There wasn’t a butter bomb in sight. The wine slipped down quite easily. Quite a rich chardonnay, with more of the pineapple notes and a zesty lime finish. The oak was present but not overpowering. I had it with my dinner of roast chicken and salad and it was quite tasty. I’m no longer afraid of California chardonnays, at least not Sonoma-Cutrer’s chardonnays. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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