Wine with Leslie Williams: The perfect Christmas gifts

Just a few days left before Christmas and if you are stuck for present ideas don’t forget that a decent bottle of wine or gin is always a welcome gift. 

With dozens of Irish craft spirit and beer producers you can also buy local. Dingle Distillery’s second Pot Still release debuted late last month and it is excellent but at €90 might be something you buy for yourself rather than the in-laws. An excellent mother-in-law gift might be the limited edition Dingle Gin Bauble (€15) which is refillable and will live on as a Christmas decoration for years to come. Dingle’s Four Seasons Gin collection (€65) is also worth considering. Halfpenny Gin has a similar idea with a Gin Bauble Giftpack costing €30 in SuperValu. Also in SuperValu you will find some exclusives including Dhá Chasca Single Malt from West Cork Distillery for €39 and Teelings 15 Year Old Single Malt at €85.

For a longer lasting present you might want to consider the Donnybrook Fair Discovery Series Wine Club which costs €49.99 per month (first month €29.99). Three wines from their selection are delivered each month and if you buy this for you partner you both get the benefits – www.donnybrookfair.ie/wine-subscription

Donnybrook Fair began in 1991 as one shop on Morehampton Road in D4 but now has five shops in the Dublin area. In September 2018 Donnybrook Fair was acquired by the Cork based Musgrave Group and while it will continue to run independently it seems logical that Cork might be getting one soon. There is a high commitment to quality in the shop and things have only gotten better since Chris Gifford took over as wine director. As well as stocking excellent small importers such as Nomad Wines they also source a smattering of their own wines. 

Do remember your local shops this year also and I’d urge you not to buy below cost Baileys in the supermarket as a present but instead get advice from your local off-licence on a wine for the same price. Some Independent wine shops I recommend: Bradleys, Cinnamon Cottage, 1601 Kinsale, JJ O’Driscolls, Mannings, World Wide Wines, Wine Centre Kilkenny, Greenacres, Mortons Galway and Dublin, Redmonds, Jus de Vine, The Vintry, Terroirs, Sheridans Cheesemongers, The Corkscrew and Baggot Street Wines.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Prova Regia Arinto, Bucelas-Lisboa, Portugal — €14.99

Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, Donnybrook Fair, Corkscrew, Baggot St. Wines, Martins, Mitchells, La Touche.

This is an old favourite and punches well above its price point. Made from Arinto, arguably Portugal’s best white variety, and packed with delicious lemon, pear and peach flavours with good acidity and not a little complexity. This will work well with turkey and even better with left-overs.

Château Les Garelles 2016, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, France — €13.99

Stockists: No. 21 Group, Cappagh Stores, Salthill Liquor Store, Hole in the Wall, Corkscrew.

One of a selection of very good wines I tasted on a recent wine weekend in lovely Renvyle House all imported by JC Kenny. This is organic and has zero added sulphur but is bright and clean with soft plum fruit aromas and textured darker fruits on the palate with blackberry and prune touches.

Abert Glas Pinot Noir Black Label, Pfalz, Germany — €15

Stockist: SuperValu

This was €20 but has been reduced by a fiver for Christmas and there is a further €1 discount if you buy six. I love German Pinot Noir for its bright cherry flavours as you will find here, ripe and lively with good bright flavours and an excellent lightness of touch and even elegance. This will work perfectly with duck and goose but also with turkey.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Château de La Guerche Chenin Blanc 2017, Loire, France — €18.99

Stockists: No. 21 Group, Cappagh Stores, Salthill Liquor Store, Hole in the Wall, Corkscrew.

Chenin-Blanc does not get enough love despite the fact that it can produce gorgeous honey-scented long lived wines that retain their acidity and perfume. This is one of the best wines in JC Kenny’s portfolio with ripe lemon and sweet apple aromas, weighty and textured fruits on the palate.

Moillard Mâcon-Villages, Burgundy, France — €17.99

Stockists: No. 21 Group, Cappagh Stores, Salthill Liquor Store, Corkscrew.

There is a lot of indifferent wine produced in the Mâcon and I tend to avoid anything under €15. This is much better and still at fair price — fruity and full flavoured with pear aromas, creamy textured soft apple fruits on the palate and good length.

Pelissero Barbera d’Alba ‘Piani’ 2015, Piedmont, Italy — €19.99

Stockist: Donnybrook Fair Donnybrook, Greystones etc. www.donnybrookfair.ie

Pelissero are a fine producer and Donnybrook Fair also stock their Barbaresco and Nebbiolo Langhe. Barbera can be a little tart if you don’t pick a good one but it can also be fragrant and dense like it is here. This is from a single estate and has black cherry aromas and taut layers of ripe fruits.

Contact Leslie Williams at wine@examiner.ie

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