The Irish wine community had a rough start to June with two much loved members succumbing to cancer at a young age.
Claire O’Boyle-Gallagher of Green Man wines died on June 7 and the Business Post’s wine writer Tomás Clancy left us on the June Bank Holiday Monday.
I’ll tell you about wonderful Claire in a few weeks, but first to Tomás.
That Monday was a glorious sunny day and I know Tomás would have been furious at leaving his beloved family and the world so soon, especially on a day that called for Champagne in the garden.
So that is what we did in my house, I grilled a spatchcock chicken on the barbecue and opened a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a producer he loved.
I visited Bollinger with Tomás once and it was a magical couple of days - I probably learned as much from him over those days as I did from all the tastings.
I first encountered Tomás in Trinity College Dublin (I was a fresher, he was in 4th Year), when he produced and wrote a stage version of Casablanca along with his brother Luke (of Lyric FM) and his girlfriend Claire (now sadly his widow).
Somehow they secured sponsorship from Jack Daniels which was poured liberally for the audience, I couldn’t have been more impressed or intimidated.
I became proper friends with Tomás around the time I began writing this column, purely as a result of long conversations after tastings, at dinners and on wine trips.
We obviously shared a love of wine but he could talk on any subject for hours and what I think he liked about me was that my own rag bag mind contains random information on subjects that differed from his specialties - he was curious about everything.
He would play me (via his phone) the latest teenaged hip-hop talent or describe driving a Ferrari F40 (he rented one for a day once); while I could direct him round a perfume counter or explain the mechanisms in the Watches of Switzerland shop in Heathrow.
If you haven’t heard Tomás talk magically about wine you need to - use the Listen Back section on Newstalk.com or search for ‘Movies and Booze’ on the site.
I also recommend his ‘Intermezzo’ series of interval drinks talks on Lyric FM with Raymond Blake.
Suggestions this week are some French wines in Dunnes Stores new to this page and three fine wines that I know Tomás liked.
Wines Under €15
Vaugelas les Falaises Blanc, Languedoc AOC, France - €11.50
Stockist: Dunnes Stores
The Languedoc is capable of making wine to match anything from the New World at the same price point and this is exactly the kind of wine they do best - fragrant but dry and lively, and packed full of fruits.
A blend of 50% Grenache Blanc to give white flower aromas and textures, 30% Vermentino for citrus and freshness and aromatic acacia scented Marsanne for the fun of it.
Château Sainte Marthe 2017, Languedoc AOC, France - €12.50
Stockist: Dunnes Stores
This is a typical weighty but ripe Languedoc red grown at a bit of altitude - 140m above sea level on the slopes of an old volcano.
Dark blackcurrant and tar Syrah (60%) dominates the nose but the spice and acidity of the Grenache (30%) comes through on the palate while the Mourvèdre (10%) adds a bit of heft to the finish.
Château Fourchou Bordeaux Supérieur 2018, France - €12.00
Stockist: Dunnes Stores
From a forty hectare vineyard near Saint Émilion this is a typical Bordeaux Supérieur made from 80% Merlot plus some Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon.
Bright peppery plum fruit aromas with a hit of blackberry and spicy structure on the palate, a mere baby so best to serve with some barbecue to cut through those tannins or maybe serve with a bit of mature Coolea or Comté.
Wines Over €15
La Chablisienne Chablis “La Pierelée”, Burgundy, France - €24.95
Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, 1601, World Wide Wines, Vintry
My good friend the late Tomás Clancy adored Burgundy and he could talk for hours about Chablis - its ‘fossil strewn chalky soils, cut and exposed by the River Serein… one part wet wool, one part wet stony minerality, and one part a nutty and lime treasure house of pleasure’.
A perfect description of this wine with extra emphasis on the citrus-lime elements.
Domaine Tempier Rosé, Provence, France - €35.99
Stockists: D6 Wines, Green Man Wines, 64 Wines, Redmonds, Mitchell & Son www.mitchellandson.com, www.thecorkscrew.ie
On Valentine’s Day this year, Tomás recommended this wine on Movies & Booze - ‘a fine wine that just happens to be rosé… a rare and fabulous thing’.
Tomás revelled in the rich Oeil de Perdrix colour (Partridge Eye), its textured floral red fruit complexity and ability to age.
As usual he was correct, it’s stunning.
Château Ksara, Reserve du Couvent, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon - €19.99
Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, Ardkeen Stores, JJ O’Driscolls, www.wineonline.ie, McHughs www.mchughs.ie, Mitchell & Son, Drinkstore.
A blend of Syrah/Cabernet from the land of Cana (where that wedding feast happened).
Tomás in his Business Post column revelled in this wines historic nature and described it as like ‘an old-fashioned Bordeaux.. purposefully medium bodied, spicy and restrained’.
I would add it also has lingering plum and dried berry fruits.
Spirit of the week
This is the 3rd edition in the Brabazon Series.
While No 2 was an eight-year-old Single Malt finished in Port casks, this is a 14-year-old finished in PX Casks sourced from the tiny high quality Bodegas Ximénéz Spinola in Jerez.
The 67 PX barrels date from 1918 and were filled with a 2005 distillation single malt that was aged a further three years to maximise the sweet Sherry influence.
Sweet Christmas Cake, raisins, and dried fig aromas jump from the glass, intense luscious dried fruits wallop the palate while toffee and spice notes linger on the long long finish.