Beverley Matthews is owner of l’Attitude 51, Cork’s award-winning wine bar known for its accessible wine education events including regular movie nights and speed tastings.
Lately I?ve been enjoying Loire Chenin Blanc. I’ve always been a huge fan but recently I discovered a fantastic example, Attention Chenin Mechant by Nicolas Reau, who is a natural winemaker. It‘s just incredible: baked apple and clove and underpinned by an incredible minerality. I could drink it morning, noon and night.
The moment I knew I wanted to work with wine was during that time in Italy too. On the last Sunday in May they have an open cellar day and I went along with friends to check it out. We were out on the grass outside one of the wineries drinking god knows what expensive wine from plastic cups. The experience of wine is enhanced by where you are and the people you’re with. I just thought I really want to share this experience with people.
The best value wines today are being produced in Portugal, though Spain still has some really good value, particularly down south, and the south of Italy too (Sicily is producing some really good wines but also some of the smaller regions like Puglia). The south of France of course has great value as well.
The people having the most influence now on the wine world are the smaller growers who are doing things that are a little different. There are small passionate winemakers who really want to take care of the land that they farm, and for the wine they make to be a pure expression of the area that they come from. One person who for me is making particularly good wines is Elena Pantaloni from La Stoppa in Italy’s Emilia Romagna.
Europe used to be very much about tradition whereas now they seem to be breaking away from the more commercial style and actually going back to the traditional ways of winemaking, using skin contact and natural fermentation and so on. They’re moving away from the whole idea of the snobby elite Bordeaux-style wines. It’s really refreshing, and it’s bringing a lot more young people into wine which is fantastic. Long may it last.
My dream cellar would have to contain something Italian for meditation, such as Brunello, Barolo, Sagrantino di Montefalco. I’d have to have a couple of cases of Franciacorta for when I was feeling low and needed a little pick-me-up! And something sweet like a Tokaji. I suppose your cellar wouldn’t be complete without a Romane-Conti but I’m not making enough money at the moment to afford that unfortunately, so I could be waiting a while for that!
In conversation with: Aoife Carrigy, wine & drinks editor of Image Interiors & Living