Tomas Clancy gets us in the mood from Electric Picnic
The Liberator, Old Breton Cabernet Franc, South Africa 2013
Pricing: around €22 - €25
Available :Widely in including Green Man Wines; Blackrock Cellar; 64 Wines; Kelly’s of Clontarf; Lotts & Co; The Corkscrew; La Touche and The Wine Library as well as selected wine shops and Off Licences nationwide
The wines of South Africa have been going through a low visibility period, for around 20 years now. That is a long time even for winery owners, who traditionally take the long view. After the fall of Apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela, there was a wave of joy, even love for all things South African and wine lovers who had not been able to sample South African wines under UN sanctions on Apartheid Era South Africa jumped at the chance to taste them.
There was also a feeling of supporting the new changed South Africa too.
Unfortunately during the over half century of isolation from the rest of the wine world, South African wine was dominated by inward looking, commercial state agencies and the stock of vines and quality of production had declined. Wine lovers drifted away from the ocean of bland, soupy red wines, odd white wines and moved over to Chile as the next big New World hotspot.
Over the last 20 years in South Africa, there has been a fundamental change, everywhere younger, well trained winemakers, with new excellent vines have burst on the scene. In addition however many smaller family owned wineries which had never been part of the state commercial giants and had small, parcels of ancient, well loved healthy vines began to commercialise these wines. These vines and their wines, rarely saw a glass beyond their local customers.
So, today there are two fine, fascinating South African wine landscapes, good, well made commercially sized wineries and older, boutique wineries that you rarely see outside South Africa.
One man, Master of Wine Richard Kelley hopes to cure this imbalance and bring the second new wave category, small hidden gem wineries to a world audience. He thinks of himself as liberating the wines from obscurity, imposed often by small size and lack of resources. The Liberator wines are therefore small parcels, which will run out fast.
Each time Kelley finds a new parcel, he calls it an Episode, makes a comic book style story of how he found it, and releases it like a rare jazz record, on his Liberator label in limited Editions.
This is his superb find No.5, a Cabernet Franc, a meaty, opulent, punchy and pungent red berry driven delight with deep muscular tannins, nice leafy edges, a kir like tone mid palate and warm, lengthy finish. A very fine boutique wine, which from Californian would be hundreds of euros. Worth seeking out.
Slane Castle, Triple Casked Irish Whiskey
Available: Nationwide through all good Off Licences and selected Supermarkets including Celtic Whiskey Shop, Dawson Street and online at celticwhsikeyshop.com and O’Briens Wines shops nationwide
There are few more Rock and Roll aristocrats than the Conyngham Family, whom we know better under the title Lord Mountcharles of Slane Castle the home of some of Ireland’s most revered rock concerts from U2 to The Rolling Stones, from Bob Dylan to David Bowie, they have defined a generation, or two of cultural exploration in Ireland.
Lord Henry Mountcharles, now Marquess Conyngham, and his son, now Lord Alex Conyngham have always taken leftfield and adventurous paths and their latest venture is equally exciting for many.
They have decided to build and found, in partnership with American distillers, Brown-Forman, producers of Jack Daniels Tennesse Whiskey, a Whiskey Distillery from scratch. Millions of euro have, and are, being poured into a state of the art distillery, within the stables and outhouses of Slane Castle, so fear not, the natural amphitheatre and concert bowl are untouched, as is the Castle of course.
Drawing from their rock and roll and concert experience, they have built not just a distillery but a multimedia extravaganza of a tour and their new whiskey is aimed squarely at a very broad, openhearted whiskey drinker.
Taking advantage of their new US links and good worldwide contacts this Irish Whiskey is what they describe as Triple Casked. What this means is that the whiskey is left to age not in one, or two, but three different barrels each from a different, and varying source. Each bringing its own flavours, so there is first use American Oak barrels, then seasoned US Barrels that have had Bourbon in them and finally former Oloroso Sherry casks. This complex multi barrel maturation process gives the Slane Whiskey its unique taste and mouthfeel.
Indeed if you like the smoother , more caramel and toasty flavours of Kentucky Whiskey, preceded by a spicy more robust initial note, with the silky smooth buttery rush of Irish whiskey at the finish, this may be the spirit for you.