Leslie Williams' selection of sunny-weather wines

Last week’s gorgeous weather got me thinking about rosé and the ripe fruity wines of the sunny South of France.

I’ve been neglecting France a little recently but it is their own fault; in value terms, Spain and Italy are a much more reliable bet these days. In volume terms, France is our third most important wine import after Chile and Australia but I predict Spain will overtake France this year if they haven’t already. 

Spain is hugely reliable and a stronger brand in the crucial under-€12 range which is so important in Ireland thanks to our punitive excise rates. At the top end, France is still winning and no restaurant is dumping their Chablis or Sancerre any time soon but they would need to watch out here too — Ireland is now the fifth biggest purchaser of Spanish Albariño in the world.

But back to rosé where France currently has little competition and their light crisp floral style of Provence rosé is still very much in vogue. Rosé sales last year were well up but we still lag far behind the rest of Europe — hopefully the early batch of warm weather will have started the ball rolling. 

French rosé is perfect for matching the food of Provence and is about the only wine that can cope with a proper aioli or garlic and anchovy pissaladière. Rosé is the perfect barbecue wine, of course — and if you melt some garlic butter on your steak, it will match that too.

Wine recommendations this week are all from France and from Dunnes Stores who have some new wines in this Easter as well as reductions on old favourites. I’ve featured the Laurent Miquel range before but not the two wines below — I’m a fan of winemaker Laurent and his Irish wife Neasa who have together built up an impressive business with a crowd-pleasing range of wines.

Laurent was the first person to plant Albariño in France (much to the bemusement of his neighbours and the French wine media) but it has paid off. Bottled under the label Les Auzines Alaina it is luscious and complex and available in O’Briens for €16.95 — a less expensive, lighter version is available under the Solas label through Dunnes Stores.

I have three rosé suggestions below in the hope that the good weather will have lasted to the weekend and if I’m wrong don’t forget that rosé is excellent with spicy food.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Laurent Miquel Solas Syrah Rosé, Langudoc, France - €12.50

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

The Solas varietal range from Laurent Miquel includes a good Pinot Noir and Viogner and an excellent Albariño, all of which I’ve mentioned before, but this Syrah rosé is new to me. In an attractive opaque bottle and a light pale, pink colour, this has floral and strawberry aromas with ripe fruits on the palate and just enough acidity.

Belrose IGP Méditérranée Rosé, France - €11

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

Méditérranée is the regional appellation covering the Provence coastal area and the island of Corsica and is used extensively for Rosé made in the light Provençal style. This is a typical light style, pale onion-skin pink in colour with some cherry and raspberry aromas and a bright fruity freshness. At this price don’t expect miracles but I did like its lively fruits.

La Reine Pedaque Bourgogne Aligoté - €12.50

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

Legend has it that the Burgundy fire brigade used to use Aligoté to put out fires as it had less value than water and they certainly wouldn’t use Chardonnay. These days the other Burgundy grape has carved out its own niche and this is a pleasing example with bright bitter lemon aromas and crisp, textured, and slightly salty citrus and pear fruit flavours.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Domaine Bastide Neuve Rosé, 1500ml Magnum - €21

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

Given this is a double bottle I should perhaps have put it in the under €15 category. Pale salmon colour in the classic Provence-Languedoc style, light red currant and cherry fruit aromas, soft on the palate with more red fruits, a touch of sweetness and lingering cherries. Not complex or particularly memorable but tasty and drinkable and in a very elegant bottle.

Château Bechereau Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2015 - €16.50

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

From the largest of the Saint-Émilion satellites which is frequently a good source of Merlot-dominated Right Bank Bordeaux. This Cháteau has won awards in the past and made a fine 2012 so this is an excellent price for the 2015, a considerably better year. Bright dark fruit aromas with touches of cedar and plum jam — fruity on the palate with chocolate tones.

Laurent Miquel Bardou Saint Chinian 2014, France - €20

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

Made from 100% Syrah from a single plot of old vines on the Laurent Miquel Estate and aged in new (55%) and second use French oak. Rich dark red in colour with aromas of blackcurrant with floral and smoke notes, ripe and full on the palate with good concentration. This is one of Laurent Miquel’s top wines and capable of ageing up to a decade, so a good price.

- Contact Leslie Williams at wine@examiner.ie

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