Jean Smullen reviews 2015 Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Stellenbosch and 2015 Andean Vineyards Reserve Malbec Mendoza
Today we are going to feature two award winning wines from the Irish Wine Show 2017-2018. The Gold Star Awards were established by the National Off Licence Association (NOffLA) seventeen years ago. The 15 Gold Star wines are selected as the best wines across a number based on wine style and price categories. European wines are judged against each other, as are wines from the “new world” i.e. everywhere outside Europe. They also award a further 30 wines, Silver and Bronze Awards as part of their Gold Star Awards.
All 45 winning wines are then sold in one of NOffLA’s 300+ member outlets nationwide. NOffLA was established in 1991 and represents independent specialist off-licences across Ireland. The winning wines will be easily identifiable on the shelf of independent off-licences nationwide as they display the NOffLA medals as well as neck collars. There is also a very useful booklet with details of all 45 wines, called 45 Wines, ONE definitive guide. The wines will also be sold as ideal Christmas gifts in a variety of special gift packs. For more details of the winning wines http://www.noffla.ie/
The overall winner and 2017/2018 Wine of the Year was awarded to:
2015 Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Stellenbosch €20.00
Stockists: Independent off licences, nationwide
Many years ago I was working for Wines of South Africa here in Ireland, I met the founding winemakers Gary & Cathy Jordan. More recently a trip to Stellenbosch in August 2016 gave me back my wine mojo when I saw all the exciting developments going on there. As recently as last week I organised a small South African wine trade event in Dublin a the quality was outstanding, so it does not surprise to me that this year’s winning wine is from South Africa!
Gary and Kathy Jordan have been making world-class wines since 1993 on a farm with a history going back over 300 years. He’s a geologist, she’s an economist and together they run an impressive business. Gary’s parents, Ted and Sheelagh originally purchased the 164 hectare Stellenbosch property in 1982, so Gary & Kathy are 2nd generation wine farmers.
The grapes for this Chardonnay are grown on south and east facing slopes, in a distinct ravine in Stellenbosch which benefits from cooling breeze from nearby False Bay. This adds to the intense flavour compounds found in the grapes. The wine was then barrel-fermented in French oak barrels and and matured “sur lie” for 9 months.
The tasting note for this written by the jury states: Toasty yet zingy, lush yest lemony – luxury and harmony!I
Stellenbosch is a university town about an hours drive from Cape Town. It is a very mountainous region, slightly inland, the vineyards benefit from slightly higher altitude here. With a Mediterranean climate the proximity of the ocean means cooling breezes bring down the ambient temperature in the vineyard resulting in a fresher style of white wine.
This wine was also a Gold Medal winner at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards.
2015 Andean Vineyards Reserve Malbec Mendoza €15.00
Stockists: Independent off licences, nationwide
Our second wine was the Gold Star Award winner in the New World Under €15.00 category and this wine really punches above its weight! Malbec growws nowhere better than in the Andes Mountains. The warm days ripen the grapes and the cool nights keep them fresh, packing them with extra complexity.
Mendoza is THE most important region. 90% of all Argentinan wines come from this region. The soils of the different viticultural areas are mainly made up of rocks and minerals from the mountains.
Malbec was once a significant Bordeaux grape, but in that region it has taken a back seat to Merlot and the two Cabernets (Franc and Sauvignon). Its origins are cloudy, as in France it has over 400 synonyms. One of these is Auxerrois Noir or sometimes simply Auxerrois, a hint that it may be from the region around the town of the same name in Burgundy. Malbec is usually low in acidity, high in tannins, and has an inky-black color. Aromas and flavors of red plums, black currants and dried cherries are common.
Malbec comes from the Cahors region of southwest France, where it is known as Côt, though it is also found in the Anjou and Tourraine regions of the Loire valley. Perhaps the greatest of all Malbec comes from Argentina, particularly Mendoza, where it is now the most widely planted varietal and is transforming the country's wine industry for the better.
The tasting note for this reads Fruity and warming - genuine crowd-pleaser!
Argentine Malbec is very much a wine of the moment. It is in great demand and has, in a few short years built a great following for its wine style.
Wine Diary: Tickets are now on sales for:
November 9th - The Big Rhone Tasting in ely Bar & Brasserie
November 15th - Guigal Dinner at Ballymaloe House
November 10th/11th O’Briens Winter Wine Fair in Dublin Castle
November 16th The 15th Cork Wine Fair in the Clayton Hotel
November 23rd The 20th Gibneys of Malahide Wine Fair in the Grand Hotel Malahide
More details on https://jeansmullen.com/