A Weekend of Wine

A Holiday Weekend here in Ireland, and three bottles opened and consumed over the period. An Italian sandwiched between two from Spain, with varying degrees of success.

Neleman Nucli Blanco 2019 – Valencia DO

First up on Friday was this blend of Macabeo and Sauvignon Blanc from Derrick Neleman from Godella in the Valencia DO. A fully organic, vegan friendly wine, where the grapes are grown around 600 masl, with the cooler nights and warm days leading to a long ripening season, before seeing the inside of stainless steel tanks and three months on the lees.

The colour of the wine is straw yellow, and the nose shows significant features of Sauvignon Blanc, or at least Southern Hemisphere SB, with tropical fruit, hints of melon and grapefruit being dominant. I am not aware of the mix in the blend, but clearly Sauvignon is dominant, as the nose did not resemble White Rioja, where the Macabeo is known as Viura, far more stringent.

The first taste was puckering, as the acid bit into my palate, before mellowing somewhat and the fruits developed in the mouth. Citrus fruits, the tropical melon and pear where there, and a hint of newly cut grass was hanging around the nose as I drank. The finish was medium in length, with a 12.5% alcohol level not leaving too much to savour.

All in all, whilst I wouldn’t rank this above a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume from the Loire Valley, it compares with New Zealand SB’s, and if you enjoy those old favourites from Marlborough, such as Cloudy Bay or Greywacke, this might appeal. Nothing outstanding in my book, but with the right, light seafood, on a summers day, this would be very pleasureable.

2015 La Palazzola Umbria Rubino

Saturday night swung around, and we were having a second helping of the Venison in Red Wine that I had made earlier in the week, while clearly cooking enough to emulate Feeding the 5,000! As this was a very rich dish, it was time to open up a strident Italian, a hearty Bordeaux Blend from Umbria. With 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot I knew I was in for a kicking of Tannins. This Umbrian Rosso comes in under the IGT , rather than the DO, given its International Grape make-up, but don’t be deceived that quality suffers classified as such, far from it.

The nose was full of fruit. Plums, black cherry, blackberries, they were all there, and not overpowered by the vanilla and tobacco from the 12 months ageing in barriques that this wine undertakes. My first thoughts were that this may have been uncorked a little early in its life, being a 2015, and I know that this wine will appreciate over time, bringing out more secondary and tertiary aromas as it develops, but that doesn’t take away from the excellent aromas coming my way. I should point out that I did indeed decant for an hour before serving, and it was clearly nicely opened up when I tasted.

On the palate, the tannins were not as strident as I had expected, with a medium level of acidity balancing out the tannic qualities, and allowing the flavours to be the key factors as I explored. Dark fruit was in abundance, those plums, black cherries, blackcurrants, all to the fore. There were spices trying to get out, some pepper, black rather than white, with a fiery element, not really from the alcohol, which only came in at 13.5%, and hints of an earthiness, those tertiary notes, which will no doubt come to the fore in the future as the wine extends. There was certainly a good length to the finish, and the wine worked wonders with the remains of the Venison, another perfect paring of game and wine.

This wine came from my Italian Wine Club at Rimessa Roscioli in Roma, and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick more of this up, maybe putting some away for some time to see how, and if, it would appreciate with age. While on the subject of Rimessa Roscioli, they have just set up a wonderful new, (free), Wine Community, consisting of Videos, Fora, Classes, and an open Community of like minded wine fans, focusing on Italian Wines, obviously, but a wealth of information, really worth checking out – Here’s the link.

2017 Guerinda El Maximo Crianza

Last, but not least of the Trio over the weekend, saw me heading back to Spain, and a trip to the Guerinda Mountains in Navarra, and to Bodegas Maximo Abete and the wine names after Maximo, the founder of the winery, The Maximum! A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and of course, Garnacha (Grenache), sourced by my “other” Wine Club here in Ireland, Wines Direct, who also supplied the Nucli Blanco. The vines grow on the very steep hillsides of the Guerinda Mountains, at an elevation of 700 masl in Vallervitos.

Maximo passed away a few years ago, but his two daughters, Yoanna and Maria Abete, along with Yoanna’s husband Juanma Lerga, are continuing the legacy created by their father, and this wine certainly does justice to the founder. A deep, black lagoon of wine cascaded into the first glass I poured, the Cabernet and Merlot hiding the more subtle shades of the Garnacha, and on the nose, dark fruit was prevalent, with a peppery spice element, plummy and hints of violets.

However, on the palate, the Granache came back to the fore. While it may have lost the battle on the colour front, it won the taste test, pushing the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot back behind it, and bring its juicy fruits, raspberries and cranberries to the front, while allowing the blackberries to linger a while, passing through. The high alcohol content of 14.5% (hard to find Garnacha much lower), gave that warmth as the juice slipped down the throat, and with a medium acidity level and the low tannins dominant from the Garnacha, there was a hint of almost sweetness in the aftertaste.

Certainly the last wine of the weekend didn’t disappoint. We paired it with Turkey Meatballs in a peppery sauce, over gnocchi, and in truth, this wine would have gone well with the Venison on Saturday night, but it worked perfectly with the Meatballs, and again, a wine would I would be happy to add more off to the cellar. Perhaps more an everyday wine, rather than one to lay away a while like the Rubino, but certainly comparable, and worthy of the table.


A good weekend at home, still under relative lockdown thanks to Covid19, although we can get out and about locally, shopping, exercise etc. One of the positive sides of being confined to quarters, so to speak, is the ability to try out new wines, and new recipes to match. The three wines we had over the weekend were perfect examples of this, and I would recommend all three.