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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Organic doesn’t have to mean pricey

In recent weeks I’ve been giving the supermarkets and big players such as O’Briens far too much attention so for the next month I’m going to focus on small importers where I can.

Regular readers of this page will know how fond I am of the wines imported by Mary Pawle, and of course how fond I am of Mary herself. Mary and her husband Ivan have been at the forefront of the organic movement in Ireland since the 1970s, and a number of the icon organic wines imported into Ireland were first imported by Mary (eg, Château Le Puy and Dom de L’Ecu).

Mary is based in Kenmare and only imports certified organic and biodynamic wines, and is effectively a one-person business with only her trusted bonded warehouse to help with deliveries. 

Whenever I talk to Mary about one of her producers she usually has a tale to tell of a recent visit where they cooked her dinner and killed a fatted calf on her arrival. I exaggerate a little, but you get the point.

Mary kindly sent me a case of wines I hadn’t tried from her range recently and there wasn’t a dud in the case. I have recommended six here and you will notice they are very competitively priced.

The one wine that costs a little more is a remarkable Burgundy from Emmanuel Giboulet who owns around 12 hectares in Burgundy. Giboulet’s dad Paul converted to organic in the 1970s and his son has continued the tradition, converting to bio-dynamic viticulture in 1996. 

They farm some “lieu-dits” (named) vineyards in Côtes-de-Beaune, some village wines, (eg, Rully) and some Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. The Hautes-Côtes of Beaune and Nuits are cooler and more difficult terroirs and can be challenging, but the wine I recommend here is stunning — far and away the best wine I’ve tasted from either of the Hautes-Côtes. 

Also, there is a fine Rioja Joven as good as many a wine costing 25% more. The same could be said for the Puglian aglianico and a delicious verduzzo that will restore the faith of anyone that thinks northern Italy means light insubstantial wines.

Wines under €15

Giol Organic Verduzzo, Marca Trevigiana IGP, Italy — €13.85

Stockists: Quay Co-Op Cork, Taste Castletownbere, Vintry, www.marypawlewines.com

The Verduzzo grape is native to Northern Italy and was first mentioned in 1409 but is rarely seen here. This has lively lemon-lime aromas with a hint of pear, fruity and zingy with a tiny hint of spritz, rounded and juicy on the palate with a crisp lively finish. This is a gem and is guaranteed to chase away any Autumn blues.

Osoti Rioja Joven 2021, Spain — €14.95

Stockists: O’Donovans, Vintry Rathgar, Lettercollum Kitchen, Connemara Hampers, www.marypawlewines.com

Osoti is one of the few bio-dynamic producers I’ve encountered from Rioja and despite being a Joven this shows pleasing depth. Fruit forward nose, cherry fruits, juicy and supple with a lively berry-focused palate and lots of texture and character. There is also an intriguing, textured and tasty, Tempranillo-Blanco/Sauvignon-Blanc blend.

Julie et Nicolai Éléfantaisy Côtes-du-Rhône 2020 — €14.95 – 15.95

Stockists: Organico, Quay Co-Op Cork, Urru Bandon, www.marypawlewines.com

A négocient project from the team behind Château de Bastet in the Southern Rhône — I’ve recommended their Teram a few times. The elephant represents strength and grace which is the aim behind the wine – ripe primary fruit flavours, supple and ripe with a delightful rounded palate and pleasing, lingering, dark fruits.

Wines Over €15

Albet i Noya Lignum! Penedès, Spain — €16.99

Stockists: O’Donovans, Fields Skibbereen, Mortons Galway, www.marypawlewines.com

Albet i Noya were organic pioneers in Spain and use minimum intervention and minimum sulphur (just enough to ensure the wines are pristine and fresh tasting). A blend of Cab. Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah with generous and juicy blackberry fruits and a touch of spice and tobacco on the finish.

Amastuola Aglianico 2017, IGP Puglia, Italy — €17.95

Stockists: Mannings, Little Green Grocer Kilkenny, Mortons, www.marypawlewines.com

Aglianico is the long-lived, high-quality red grape of Taurasi and Aglianico del Vulture (Campania & Basilicata respectively) but can also be found in pockets in Puglia. Aromatic, with leather and spice aromas mingling with dark cherries and chocolate — juicy and fruity with ripe cherry fruits and a delightfully fruit-driven, long finish.

E. Giboulot ‘En Grégoire’ Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits 2017 — €41.50

Stockists: www.marypawlewines.com

Organic pioneers since the 1970’s and Biodynamic since 1996 Giboulot’s focus is on minimum intervention and allowing each plot to express its terroir. Pleasingly mature with delicate and remarkably pure red fruit flavours overlain with gorgeous complexities from cinnamon to forest floor to candied rose-petals to the finest black cherries. A stunning wine and worth every penny.

Spirit of the Week

Blackwater & Aldi ‘Root and Branch’ Fruit of the Forest Gin, 38% ABV, 50cl — €19.99

Stockist: Aldi

Blackwater Distillery has linked up with Aldi to produce a range of gins that will change with the seasons. First up was the Blood Orange and Pink Peppercorn which should still be available — distinct pepper, juniper and citrus aromas — creamy and soft at first but with a spicy orange peel finish.

Fruit of the Forest gin arrived on September 15 made with blackberry, blackcurrant and rosehips — this too is juniper forward but dark fruits linger in in the background, berry fruits and citrus coat on the mid-palate with pepper and cinnamon on the finish. Try shaking with blackberries, lemon juice and sugar syrup to make a bramble.

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