Four wines new to these shores bring plenty of taste and excitement
John Wilson: Lesser-known, local grape varieties and a new generation reinventing Australian wine among offerings
Many of the nation’s wine importers hold their annual portfolio tastings in February and March each year. The aim is to impress the assembled buyers from restaurants, wine bars and wine shops. It also provides the wine press with a great opportunity to taste new vintages as well as wines new to the market. This year there were plenty of new wines on show, an indicator of the improving economic climate. We seem to be happy to spend a little more on wine, and possibly as a result of this, the overall quality seemed higher than ever.
I mentioned Vinostito in last week’s column, but companies such as Le Caveau, Liberty, Tindal and Corkscrew were all showing plenty of new exciting wines. It will be interesting to see if the multiples follow suit; tastings of supermarket wines so far this year have been a very mixed bag.
Not all of the new wines have reached our shores yet, but this week I feature four newbies. As in previous weeks, we go on a little mystery tour; three of the wines below are made from lesser-known, local grape varieties. The fourth is an example of how a new generation is reinventing Australian wine.
It may not sound different, but the Samurai Australian Shiraz is a world away from your average big oaky Aussie red. Made by Patrick Sullivan (must be some Irish there) from fruit sourced in the Yarra Valley, this unoaked, vibrant wine exudes pure fresh fruit.
Fiano is a very high-quality grape variety found mainly in Campania, a large region surrounding Naples in Italy. Here on the volcanic mountain soils it produces crisp dry wines that can be drunk young or after a few years. This is one of the very best producers in the region, so why not splash out a little on this, or even better it’s big brother, the Fiano di Avellino.
Le Sabina is made from a blend of Grenache Blanc and Vermentino. Vermentino, known as Rolle in Provence, brings a refreshing acidity, herbal notes and lemon peel as well as having nice plump peach fruits. Grenache Blanc, a mutation of Grenache Rouge is native to Catalunya in Spain and is also widely grown in the Languedoc in France and southern Rhône. Like its cousin, it has low acidity and rich fat fruit – perfect for adding texture and fruit to more acidic white wines.
Rufete is another rediscovered Spanish grape variety, although I am sure the Portuguese would argue that it belongs to them. Certainly, it is grown over the border from Salamanca in Portugal and is one of many varieties used in Port. Sierra de Salamanca is one of the newest and smallest D.O.s (designation of origin) in Spain.
Samurai Shiraz 2018, Free Run Juice, South Australia
A dangerously gluggable red offering pure juicy dark fruits, a touch of dried herbs, and an easy supple finish. Try it with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and/or lamb kofta.
From: Le Caveau, Kilkenny, lecaveau.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Matson’s, Grange and Bandon, twitter.com/matsonswines; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; The Wine House, Trim; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie.
Irpinia Fiano 2018, Ciro Picariello
Floral and inviting with delicious pure clean pear fruits, a touch of honey, a burst of mineral acidity, finishing long and dry. Try it with sea bass baked with fennel.
From: Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells - Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; Siyps.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie.
Le Sabina Blanc 2019, Clos del Rey, Maury
Nicely textured peach and pineapple fruits, a dab of fresh thyme and a crisp clean finish. Different and delicious. Try it with brill or sole with a creamy sauce.
From: Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com.
Ciclón 2018, Viñas Serranas, Sierra de Salamanca
Juicy pure dark cherry fruits with dried herbs and a light tannic kick on the finish. One to drink alongside fabada – bean stew with chorizo, morcilla and pork.
From: Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3 clontarfwines.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com.