The General Election is next Saturday and I have a small plea to make — ask election candidates you encounter what they will do for small businesses such as your local wine merchant.
Remind them that supermarkets sold alcohol at deep discounted prices before Christmas, and they got their money back by selling household necessities at full price.
The Public Health (Alcohol) Act became law 14 months ago but it has not been acted upon.
Minimum pricing will have no effect on the cost of wine in your local wine merchant but it will stop predatory pricing by the multiples.
I love my wine, beer and whiskey, and I love a bargain, but I am also aware that alcohol should be sold responsibly.
The family-owned, local wine merchant that knows their customers and the actual age of their
teenage kids will disappear if curbs are not put on deep discounting.
The Off-Licence of the Year Awards were announced recently, a competition that celebrates quality and customer service, not price gouging.
The National Winner was Jus de Vine in Portmarnock.
Father and daughter Tommy and Julie Cullen have never stopped looking to improve.
Jus de Vine has very fair pricing (“Northside price,” as Tommy says), even on their rare collection of Bordeaux Cru Classé (Mouton Rothchild, Lynch Bages, etc).
The shop has lots of on-trend ‘natural’ and organic wine but also rarities such as old vintages of Guigal’s La Landonne and La Mouline, Penfolds Grange, Sassicaia, and Vintage Ports dating to the 1970s.
Rare Champagnes include Krug Clos de Mesnil and large format Bollinger from Mathusalem (6 litre bottle) to Nebuchadnezzar (15 litres).
Munster Off-Licence of the year went to Galvins Carry Out in Carrigaline, another gem of a shop with a range of rare whiskies and vintage Bordeaux.
The Wine Centre Kilkenny won Leinster, Mitchell & Son CHQ won Wine Specialist and Deveneys Dundrum for Spirits.
Selections this week are available in Independent Off Licenses only, support your local shop or it won’t be there much longer.
For the diary: Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Dinner, Maryborough Hotel, February 5, €85, Tel: 021-436-5555.
El Perdiguero Barrica Cigales, Spain — €14.95
Stockists: Independent Off-Licences, O’Donovans, Vintry, World Wide Wines, Jus de Vine, Wine Centre Kilkenny, Deveneys
This was the gold medal winner in the 2019 Gold Star Awards run by the National Off-Licence Association. From the small region of Cigales in north west Spain.
Concentrated dark plum and cedar aromas, rich and full flavoured and punching well above its price point.
Ohh Poitou Sauvignon Blanc, Loire, France — €14.99
Stockists: World Wide Wines, Jus de Vine, Martins, Independents
This is from the Haut Poitou region of the Loire near Poitiers and you will find a few different Poitou Sauvignons in independents (O’Donovans have one as does O’Driscolls).
This is probably my favourite Haut Poitou around at the moment, pristinely fresh and zingy with gooseberry and tropical aromas and lovely crisp citrus flavours.
Chateau Vaugelas, Corbières, France — €14.95
Stockists: Jus de Vine and selected independents
This won’t be so easy to find but Jus de Vine always have it in stock.
Corbières in the Languedoc is not as well known as it should be — this is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan with some new oak ageing and ripe red and black fruit aromas with a touch of vanilla, ripe and smooth with good texture and length.
Galius Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2016, Bordeaux, France — €34.99
Stockists: O’Donovans, Jus de Vine Portmarnock, Vintry, Independents
Solid example of Saint Emilion, Merlot-dominated Bordeaux, a wine that will drink nicely for the next 10 years.
While still a little young this is fruit forward as you would expect with bright plummy fruits, textured cedar and spice edges and good grip and texture.
Perhaps decant for an hour.
Marqués de Riscal Reserva Rioja, Spain — €24.95
Stockists: Galvins Carry Out, JJ O’Driscolls, Ardkeen Stores, Molloys, Donnybrook Fair, Independents
This classic Rioja house has been on Irish shelves for decades.
Riscal Rioja spends time in oak and in bottle until it is ready to drink — toasted oak, spice and red fruit aromas, blackberry fruits on the palate with elegance and structure.
Talmard Mâcon Uchizy, Burgundy, France — €17.95-€18.95
Stockists: Jus de Vine, World Wide WInes, Vintry, Searsons, Independents
A proper classical white Burgundy with layers of flavour and complexity.
From a good producer Mâcon can thrill — this has creamy lemon and melon aromas, ripe white fruits on the palate with floral-tropical touches and lingering complexity.