MOVIES & BOOZE: We're off to Australia & South Africa

Jean Smullen reviews Bend in the River Pinot Grigio and Yellowtail Shiraz

Today we are going to take a look at a couple of big wine brands.  Most of the wines we drink in Ireland are in the lower price, high volume end of the market so I thought we’d look at a few examples. 

There is good stuff to be found as well as some which is not as good. Looking for a bottle to cheer up Tuesday's pasta?  How do you decide between Two Oceans and A Bend in the River? Not easy, which is why many Irish shoppers tend to stick with specific brands because they know what style they like and so therefore tend to go back time and again to the same wine style and producer.

2017 The Bend in the River Pinot Grigio  €10.50

Stockists:  Widely Available in most supermarkets and off licences including Carry Out

The Bend in the River is a modern wine made by a big German company called Kendermann. The Bend in the River takes its name from the majestic River Rhine at the beginning of the beautiful gorge section of the Middle Rhine, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As well as The Bend in the River, Kendermann are also responsible for Black Tower which in the 1970’s was the ONLY game in town, wine wise, here in Ireland.

Pinot Grigio has to be one of the most popular white grape varieties currently being sold on the Irish market.  It is everywhere, and now you can get Pinot Grigio grown in nearly every country in the world where wine is produced.  The grape is originally  French and originates in the Alsace region of Northern France where it goes by the name,  Pinot Gris;   It is also produced in the Alpine regions of Italy where the Italian name for the grape is Pinot Grigio.  Because of the success of the fairly neutral Italian style of wine made from this grape, the term Pinot Grigio  is now used globally to sell wine. 

The original Pinot Gris or Grauburgunder as it is known in Germany was originally a mutation of the red Pinot Noir grape.   Pinot Gris from Alsace will have a slight pink tinge because the grapes are not actually white.   Good quality Pinot Gris has a very spicy finish to it and quite an oily, weighty texture. 

The Italians like to ferment their white wines at a cool temperature, this strips a lot of the colour and flavour out of it, leaving a rather neutral white wine with stone fruit flavours, lower alcohol which can be a bit bland.  That said, Pinot Grigio is quite a food friendly grape and its very neutrality means it can be matched with a huge variety of food styles.

The fruit for this wine comes from South Africa.  Kendermann  have a range of well made wines that are very competitively priced made from fruit sourced all over the world.   This South African Pinot Grigio is light in style, with a relatively low alcohol level of 12% ABVA classic Pinot Grigio with delicate floral aromas and a hint of citrus. Great with salads,  perfect to pair with chicken, fish and light dishes.

2016 [yellowtail] Shiraz €10.99

Stockists:  Widely Available in most supermarkets and off licences including Carry Out

Built on the pioneering spirit of Australia's early vignerons, the Australian wine industry , with it's 200 year heritage is now spread across all states and territories.  The Australian wine revolution is now half a century old.

Australia is going to be very much in vogue for 2018.  2017 was not a good year for European wine producers.  A series of “weather” events, spelled disaster.   Severe frosts in April,  followed by a very hot summer gave Spain,  France and Italy their smallest harvest in years.   Forest fires in Portugal wreaked havoc in June, returning again to both Spain and Portugal in October.   Vines struggled with drought and heat all over Europe during the summer of 2017; the result of these many weather related events meant that France and Italy had their smallest crop in over 50 years. The impact of all these erratic weather events on European production has predictably meant that there is less wine available.  This has understandably resulted in higher ex-cellar prices, which may end up being advantageous for Australian wine sales during 2018.  

John Casella created [yellow tail] exclusively for the US  market in 2001, the brand named after Australia’s Yellow-Footed Rock  Wallaby has created a huge niche for itself since it was founded 17 years ago.  In 2005 [yellow tail]  became the first  variety wine to sell one million cases in a single year.   Two years later [yellow tail]  was launched on the Irish market and this year celebrates 11 years of  success.  Last year of [yellow tail] showed extremely good growth and was one of the top selling wine brands on the Irish market in 2017.

Shiraz is what the Australian’s call Syrah.  In France Syrah is the great red grape of the Northern Rhone.  It has lots of blackcurrent fruit and peppers and when aged in wood, spice!  Yellowtail has a great following, mainly because it is a very good well made wine.  This gives you everything you want from Australian Shiraz, pepper and spice, tons of blackcurrant fruit.  Interestingly the ABV on this is only 13.5% which is a similar alcohol level to a wine from Bordeaux.

As we cope with the last sting in winter’s tale, match this wine with Spring lamb or slow cooked beef stew.

Wine Diary

The Big Tasting at ely is back !  Today, March 9th,  at their biggest casual style tasting of the year, there will be more than 100 wines from 15 countries, including classics from the Old world & modern classics from the New, not to mention Champagnes, Ports, Sherries and Sweet wines all under one roof. 

More details