IT’LL always pay you to be aware of what’s going on at Karwig’s. The importer, distributor and wine shop has won many awards and is widely acknowledged as one of the best places to buy good wine — in the shop between Crosshaven and Carrigaline, Co Cork, or online at www.karwigwines.ie.
I was at a brief tasting there this week of some of their new and notable wines. And by a delightful coincidence in a momentous week for these islands, one theme that emerged was the often unseen commonality shared across borders.
A map of Europe will emphasise the lines between countries, but a good wine list will show up some of the bonds across them: Grapes and winemaking styles spanning the south of France and northern spain; the unique German-French tradition in the often stunning simple white wines of Alsace; the contrasting but shared heritage of Spain’s Ribera del Duero which becomes the Douro as it flows into Portugal.
The stunning pinot grigio I’ve highlighted today comes from the Slovenia-Italy border. And one of today’s ranges has an extra twist, as it’s made by a German couple in the south of France using Spanish grapes, and with great success at that.
It’s extraordinary how seldom you see the tempranillo grape outside the Iberian peninsula. For no discernible reason, the new world has eschewed the grape. So it’s intriguing to see that the young couple who run Domaine Bourdic have embraced it wholesale and make wines with tempranillo, both on its own and in handsome blends.
There were other highlights at the tasting too. If you’re looking for an out-and-out treat, Karwig’s new Collego Crianza 2007 Ribera del Duero (€19.80) is a fabulous poised glossy dense red, opening up beautifully in the glass.
And whichever bottles you settle on this evening, I hope you’ll raise a glass with me to friendship, neighbourliness and peace.
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Domaine Bourdic “Density” 2010
Sauvignon blanc isn’t the only show in town: here’s yet another example of an affordable fresh and pretty south of France white, this time blending Vermentino (which we usually associate with Italy) and local native Roussanne.
Domaine Bourdic “Octandre” IGP
The name refers to the eight grapes of the domaine that make up the blend. I like this a lot — a fresh bright berrylicious blend of typical south of France grapes leavened by the Spanish tempranillo that’s been planted in the domaine.
Domaine Bourdic Zappa 2006
This syrah grenache tempranillo blend is dry, taut and spicy and it develops beautifully in the bottom of your glass. Or try for the sake of contrast the sweet-natured and amiable little 100% tempranillo.
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Domaine Bourdic Merlot
Of the Bourdic range, this Vin de pays de cote de Thongue got yet another exclamation mark in my copy-book. Try it before the other reds, though, as its subtlety and lovely spicy nose might be lost by comparison.
Chateau du Donjon Cuvee prestige 2008
In terms of value per euro this is the outstanding red of the range I tasted: A fabulous rich dense red that’s made for a long evening of contemplation. Or try its partner, an elegant 100% grenache at €14.65.
Ronco Blanchis Pinot Grigio Collio 2006
Joe Karwig is right — one of the worst calumnies in the wine world is the way ‘pinot grigio’ means cheap alcopop to many people. This is a stunning example of the white made with care, a luscious creamy beautifully balanced wine that could be perfect with creamy saucy fish dishes.