Leslie Williams: Planning ahead for your Christmas wines

Christmas is approaching rapidly and it is wise to begin planning a little and thinking about your wines for the season. 

Every supermarket and wine shop in the country will have special offers for Christmas and not everything tastes as good as it sounds. It is wise to test run some of these offers this month before the panic begins to make sure they suit your palate. If you are super organised there are lots of online shops that will deliver to your door but also remember that a large number of off-licences deliver in their local area, as long as you are willing to buy a case or more. Some importers sell direct to the public and there are two in particular worth a mention given how often I feature their wines — www.lecaveau.ie and www.winesdirect.ie. There are three well known Cork based importers to try: www.curiouswines.ie, www.bubblebrothers.ie and www.karwigwines.ie and I also recommend www.wineonline.ie.

You may have noticed the website www.siyps.ie appearing in my stockists lists recently and this is the new kid on the block. SIYPS.ie is run by former and current sommeliers with an emphasis on small organic and biodynamic wines from specialist importers including Grape Circus (Sheridans, Piglet Wine Bar), Vinostito, Wine Mason and former Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud Sommelier Charles Derain’s Nomad Wines. Anyone that attended the recent SPIT wine tasting will know the wines and there are some additional Champagnes sourced through LVMH. The selection is large and fairly comprehensive and focused on European wines from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria and Germany. The hope is that shoppers will engage with the site and ask the sommeliers (including Julie Dupouy) for advice and suggestions.

Wine selections this week are a mix of Italian and Spanish wines. Both countries are sources of excellent value. I’ve snuck one French wine in but it is made with the most charming of Italian white grapes Vermentino, and also a couple of Spar wines as it is good to be aware of their stock should you have a wine emergency.

For your diary: O’Donovans Christmas Wine, Beer and Spirits Fair, Clayton Hotel, Thursday, November 16, 4-9pm, Tickets €15 via O’Donovans Off-Licences.

Best value under €15

Domaine de la Provenquière Vermentino, Languedoc, France — €12.95

Stockists: LaTouche Wines, Donnybrook Fair, www.siyps.ie 

Slight theme cheat here as this is a French interpretation of the classicItalian grape Vermentino which is actually quite common in Southern France. Fragrant and fresh with citrus, apple and floral aromas, crisp and zingy with stony, crisp apple acidity. Try with fish, pasta or as an aperitif.

Carrione Salice Salentino 2016, Puglia, Italy — €10.99

Stockists: Spar, Eurospar, Londis, Mace

Another good value wine from Puglia which has be one of Italy’s mostreliable regions (especially given how often I mention it!). This is ripe and fruity with prune and dried fruit flavours and very decent concentration for the price. Try with Italian sausage or meatball pasta.

Bosco del Conte Prosecco Frizzante, Italy — €8.99 (was €11)

Stockists: Spar, Eurospar, Londis, Mace

I don’t often mention Prosecco but this is a bit of a bargain. Given the lower fizz in frizzante Prosecco it is taxed as wine rather than as (double tax) sparkling wine. This has lemony peach aromas a soft light mousse and a refreshing lemon sherbet character. Serve well chilled.

Best value over €15

Bodegas Gil Luna, Strabón, Toro, Spain — €16.49

Stockists: JJ O’Driscoll Ballinlough, JC Savage Swords, Jus de Vine, Selected Independents.

From a family-owned organic producer in newly fashionable Toro in North West Spain. Made with 100% Tinta de Toro (the local clone of Tempranillo) this has lovely pure dark fruits and a supple rich plum character. There is oak use (French and US oak) but it is integrated and adds a toasted quality. Try with slow roast lamb shoulder.

Domino del Urogallo Fanfarria Blanco 2015,DO Cangas, Spain — €20.99

Stockists: Sheridans Galway and Dublin and via www.siyps.ie

From Asturias in North West Spain and made with the rare grapes Albillo and Albarín (no relation to Albariño). This biodynamic no-added-sulphur wine has a scent of washed stones, preserved lemons and sweet apple and is complex and elegant with a pleasing herbal freshness. Also watch for the smoky soft Tinto version.

Augustí Torelló Rozat Trepat Cava 2014,Spain — €34.95

Stockists: Sheridans Galway and Dublin and via www.siyps.ie 

Organic, lees-aged Cava from one of Spain’s best producers. Supple soft red fruit aromas with a distinct cherry (cherry pie!) character, soft luxurious mousse, fruity and ripe but with a pleasing crisp freshness on the finish. The blanco Brut Reserva 2011 (€29) is equally delicious.


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