WHEN we think of Bordeaux wine we think of quality and the famous châteaux.
Bordeaux is easily the largest wine region in France, producing over 700m bottles of wine each year with over 8,500 chateaux, many of whom struggle to make a living as the world seeks out fruit-driven wines from Australia and Chile often growing the exact same grape varieties.
The reputation of the region rests on the shoulders of the great châteaux, probably none as famous in Ireland as Château Lynch Bages which Charlie Haughey made sure was served on the Government jet and which was served to Queen Elizabeth II at the State dinner in Dublin Castle last year.
The Irish connection is thanks to the Lynch family of Galway who married into the château in the 18th century. Since the 1930s the estate has been owned by the Cazes family who sell wine at different prices.
Sadly Lynch Bages costs around €140 for a recent vintage. I was lucky enough to taste the 2008 vintage recently and found it elegant and silky with rich complex dark fruit flavours, remarkably approachable for a wine that will last for decades.
The Michel Lynch range is infinitely more affordable and named after the man that first established Lynch-Bages’s reputation in the early 19th century. The reds are worth trying.
Look out for another Cazes property Château Villa Bel-Air which has a complex blackcurrant and mint flavoured red and an aromatic white at around €20.
■ For the Diary: Curious Wines Christmas Wine Fair on Saturday next, 2pm-6pm at the Berwick Room, The Bowery, 21 Tuckey Street, Cork. Admission: €15
■ O’Donovans Christmas Wine Fair takes place in Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork, on Wednesday next 49pm. Entry €10, in aid of Cork Simon Community
BEST VALUE UNDER €10
Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2011 €9.95
O’Donovans, Ardkeen Waterford, Ivans, Limerick
From Poitiers in the Loire Valley this great value and great tasting wine has crisp citrus aromas with a hint of granny smith apples, flavours of lime and pear and a lovely lemony fresh finish.
Pasquiers Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Pays d’Oc 2011 €9.95
Select Independents including The Vintry Rathgar
An unusual blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino a grape more commonly found in Italy. Here the Vermentino adds both an exotic aroma and mineral edge to the crisp fresh Sauvignon.
Antares Merlot 2011 €7.99
Widely available: Independents, Mace, Costcutter etc.
Ripe plum aromas with a hint of tar, this has crowdpleasing soft juicy fruit on the palate and an easygoing style that could happily be drunk on its own.
BEST VALUE UNDER €20
Chateau Villa Bel-Air Graves Blanc 2010 €19.99 — €22.99
Collins Carrigaline, Redmonds Dublin, Bradleys
Not everyone has this under €20 but ask around. Creamy lemon on the nose with apples, pears and citrus. Lingering lemon cream puff flavour with good acidity.
Michel Lynch Classic Red 2009 €12.99
Widely Available — Dunnes, SuperValu, CarryOut, Bradleys, Independents
Plum and blackcurrant aromas and lingering fruit flavours with a solid structure and a pleasing freshness. Tannins are noticeable but integrated with the fruit. This will be at its best when served with red meat.
Michel Lynch Organic Red 2009 €13.99
O’Driscolls Ballinlough, Mannings Ballylickey, Cottonball Ballyvolane. Blackberry leaves and eucalyptus hints on the nose with soft plummy fruit and a gentle structure and a dry finish. This is very easy drinking wine and noticeably softer than the Classic version.
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