Archive for the ‘Wine of the Week’ Category

Perfect as the nights close in and the seasons change. This is our second recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain and another success. It takes two days to make but is so straightforward that it’s not a chore at all. As we had torrential rain in Dublin on Saturday and Sunday we could not have picked a better weekend to try it!

P.S. you have to like sucking on bones!

Oxtail and Red Wine Stew from Pamplona – Rabo de torro de Pamplona – to serve 6

  • 2kg oxtail, cut across into 5cm thick pieces
  • 50g plain flour, seasoned
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 200g carrots, sliced
  • 175g leeks, thickly sliced
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 500ml red wine
  • 500ml dark beef stock
  • A bouquet garni of bay leaves, parsley stalks and thyme sprigs
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Trim the excess fat off your oxtail pieces and season well with salt and pepper. Toss in the seasoned flour and knock off the excess, keep the remaining seasoned flour. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium-high heat, add the oxtail pieces in batches and fry until well browned. Lift them onto a plate as they are done.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan with the garlic, onions, carrots and leeks and fry for about 10 minutes or until browned.

Pour the brandy over and set alight. Once the flames have died stir in the remaining seasoned flour, then gradually stir in the red wine and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 3 minutes, then stir in the oxtail, the beef stock, bouquet garni, 1/2 tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until the oxtail is tender but not falling apart yet. Remove from the heat, leave to cool, then cover and chilli overnight.

The next day, scrape the layer of fat off the top of the casserole. Gently reheat, then lift the oxtail into a bowl. Pass the sauce through a fine seive into a clean pan, pressing out as much sauce as you can with the back of a ladle. Discard what’s left in the sieve. Return to the heat and simmer vigorously for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is reduced and is well flavoured. Return the oxtail, season and simmer for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Nice with steamed or mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a medium bodied red wine based on Tempranillo and maybe with a dollop of Garnacha to give it extra juiciness. We drank a Sierra Cantabria Cuvée which had some good age in the bottle and 18 months in oak which softens and rounds the tannins. Anything heavier or more tannic will feel a bit too much with this rich dish.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books, 2011)

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A very eye-catching wine label and a delightful wine to drink as well. This was brought over by our friend Jennifer from one of our local wine shops: The Wine Boutique in Ringsend, Dublin.

Being from Rueda in central Spain this wine is dominated by Verdejo, but interestingly it also has some Albillo,  a little known grape. Albillo has very little flavour characteristics, but has been cleverly used by the winemaker because it is quite glycerous and smooths acidity in wines. Because Verdejo is fresh, aromatic and typically acidic this is a clever trick and has worked very well as the wine is fresh, fruity and smooth, so very easy to drink.

Well recommended by Jen and well enjoyed by all – worth checking out and great value at €11.00

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We opened this as a a birthday on a week night treat. We wanted bubbles, but also liked the idea of lower alcohol, and it hit the spot very nicely!

Antech, Doux Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale NV (£8.95 form the Wine Society, UK)

This wine is a bit of a throw back and is made in a more rustic way than the sophisticated Champagne method. The grapes are grown to extra ripeness and partially fermented to about 5% alcohol. The wine is then transferred to bottle where it ferments a little more, giving the fizz. Made from Mauzac, the result is an apple pie of a wine; in fact we’re going to serve an apple pie or tarte tatin next time we open a bottle! It has a real creaminess with soft and mouth-filling bubbles. Though not completely elegant and sophisticated this nonetheless oozes charm and playfulness. The flavours are dominated by apples, but we also got rich double cream, poached pears and a touch of quince plus hints of caramelisation (like you get when cooking a tarte tatin). Delicious!

In contrast to Champagne and many traditional sparkling wines this has bags of fruitiness. It is comparable with the very fruity Moscato d’Asti, which like this has naturally low alcohol. The Blanquette however has a good dollop of acidity, which comes from the Mauzac grape, to make it all the more refreshing and attractive.


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The wine of the week is a little gem: the Chateau Dereszla, Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2000 – in a snipe (187ml) and sells for €13.95 from Mitchells in Dublin.

You may be saying to yourself, how can they be seriously reviewing a snipe as the wine of the week? Quite simply, this is no ordinary wine.

Chateau Dereszla is from the the Hungarian region of Tokaji and this type of wine can be considered one of the great wines of the world. It is intensely sweet, but at the same time wonderfully fresh. This particular example has over 120g of sugar per litre, which makes it very sweet, and yet it is so fresh that the wine never tasted cloying or sugary. Rather it has an intenseness to the flavour: very lemony, with orange peel, marmalade and honeyed aromas and flavours from the botrytis (noble rot) that lends this character to great sweet wines. The acidity balances the sweetness perfectly and the flavours last forever.

Normally Tokaji comes in 50cl bottles which is great when sharing with a few friends, but if there is just one or two drinking (or nobody else likes sweet wine) the 187ml snipe is perfect. We had a delightful glass each while nibbling on a little cheese after dinner. A real treat.

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Harvey Nichols, Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2008 €14.95

We had actually tried another Cotes du Rhone Villages from a different wine shop (which will remain nameless as we’re in the business of recommending not slating wines) and it wasn’t good enough to have as our wine of week. To be fair though it too was a 2008, which wasn’t a great vintage in the Rhone, with poor weather (rain and hail storms) in July and August.

This wine was a bit lighter in colour than you would expect for a southern Rhone red which probably also reflects the difficult vintage. More importantly though there was plenty of red berry and black pepper aromas with a slight herbal note.  A perfect wine for uncomplicated food; try it with steak, sausages or stew.

Well done Kelly in Harvey Nichols wine shop in Dundrum who suggested we try it.


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Oops, we’ve broken our price point slightly on this one – the rule for wine of the week is to stay under €15.00, but this was the cheapest Italian red in Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street, Dublin and came in at €15.99. As we had a hankering for an Italian at the time to go with our meatballs (see below), this wine gets to be our Wine of the Week!

From an area slightly less prestigious than Chianti Classico, this Chianti Rufina delivers on value and flavour. It had a lovely, juicy cherry flavour which was balanced with fine, and slightly rustic tannins. This gave the wine a delightful character and was perfect with the Meatballs.

I am sure this would have been a few Euro more if from Chianti Classico as it had personality and good levels of fruit.

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Boat Shed Nebbiolo Rosé, Adelaide Hills 2010

As recommended by Tony, we tried this Aussie Rosé and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Made from nebbiolo, which is more famous in Barolo from Italy and very rare anywhere else. There is, however, an outpost in the Adelaide Hills in Australia with a handful of producers really working hard to produce good wine. Most of these, and the Barolo’s are expensive (and also red). This is €14.99 from O’Briens, and a Rosé.

The biggest thing about the Boat Shed Nebbiolo Rosé is that it has a very easy drinking cherry and strawberry fruit flavour with hints of rose petals. Very approachable and, dare I say it, gluggable. The other thing is that it has a texture to the palate, and this helps with food: anyone who wants to drink rosé with turkey this Christmas … go for this!

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This is our new “Wine of the Week” feature where we recommend a good value (under €15) wine we’ve liked.

It’s always good to have your drinking choices confirmed by a respected member of the wine trade; and it has happened with our house white wine this year!

We’ve been drinking the Domaine de Pellehaut, Harmonie de Gascogne blanc 2009 for the past four or five months and enjoying it most thoroughly. It is uncomplicated, fresh and flavoursome and a perfect medium weight. The flavours are a bit lemony and appley with a light, stoney mineral twist and it drinks well on its own and with food. Being a blend of grapes it takes a little of the best of each to make an interesting wine, without being too full-on – this makes it a perfect  week night wine and a great one to entertain a group of friends.

Stephen Spurrier, Decanter magazine’s Consultant Editor, concurs in an admission in his December edition column. His house wine too!

We get ours from Mitchell’s Wine Merchants in Glasthule or the CHQ Building, IFSC for €9.95  which is a great price for such a versatile wine.

Wine of the week

Jono 🙂

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