Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Wine Tasting with Little Beauty

It's amazing to learn that New Zealand didn't really have a wine industry until the early 1970s. This late start makes the phenomenal growth of Kiwi wines in the intervening 40 years all the more impressive. The natural topography of the islands means that most wine is produced on the sheltered east side of the islands, with the now famous Marlborough region located at the northern tip of the South Island.

These were some of the interesting facts that I picked up at a recent wine tasting in the new L'Atitude 51 wine bar in Cork. The first in a new "Meet the Winemaker" series, this evening was showcasing the independent Little Beauty winery, represented by the vibrant Fleur McCree. 

Fleur took us on a tour of NZ wine history, before telling us of the story behind Little Beauty. It's not easy buying and planting a brand new vineyard, and with a first vintage produced only in 2008, the success achieved by Little Beauty is all the more impressive. Stocked by hotels such as Claridges, the Savoy & Gleneagles, the accolades have flowed in, and it's easy to see why when you taste the wines.

The Little Beauty range of wines (from the Wine Alliance blog)
Over the course of the night, Maurice from Wine Alliance poured out glasses of the different wines, while Fluer amused us with stories and facts about the grapes and wine. In order of tasting, here are my thoughts on the wines we enjoyed
  • Riesling: Aromas of honey (maybe beeswax) with lots of fresh citrus and later petroleum. This continued on the palate, with loads of crispness.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Smells of soft exotic fruits but comes alive in the mouth. Very vibrant. It was amazing to learn that all Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc comes from a single clone - especially given the different end versions that I've tasted. My definite favourite on the night.
  • Pinot Gris: Fleur had me in stitches with descriptions of the fast-growing, handpicked and pampered Pinot Gris grape. On the nose, it smelled of stone fruits, with perhaps a touch of sea air. This was definitely a more adult wine with creaminess on the palate and is definitely a wine to drink with food. For some reason, I thought about martini and their oiliness when drinking this wine.
  • Gew├╝rztraminer: Another delicate grape, handpicked like the Pinot Gris. Perfumed and floral nose with rose petals. Some spice on the tongue. A bit too floral for my tastes, but would go well with dishes containing tamarind, coconut and coriander.
  • Pinot Noir: This is the only red in the Little Beauty range, but it is a stunning example of wine made from traditional Burgundian clones. Intense aromas of soft fruits such as strawberries and black cherries. In the glass it has a beautiful light ruby colour while the taste is more complex. A really recommended wine.
All throughout the night, lovely snacks and canap├ęs were provided by Emma and Beverly, the team behind the newly-opened L'Atitude 51 wine bar. I remember when this was the famous Lobby bar, followed then by An Cruibin. Now it looks like a new era is starting with this lovely new venue providing fine wines, Irish craft beers and tasty eats.

The Little Beauty range of wines is imported by Wine Alliance, and is available for drinking in L'Atitiude 51, or for purchase in Bradley's Off-Licence on North Main St, Cork.  Prices range from €15 to €24, depending on the wine. 
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