At the time of writing, independent off licences are still open and many are delivering. It is significantly easier to operate social distancing in an off licence than in a busy supermarket as at least you can see in the window and wait if it is busy. Remember that family-run independent shops need our support now and during the recession that is on the way.
In staying healthy do remember that wine contains nutrients and antioxidants that are thought to keep our hearts healthy and most of all it has the magical capacity to ‘banish care’. This crucial characteristic is often mentioned by wine writer Hugh Johnson and the eighth edition of his The World Atlas of Wine was published last year. Jancis Robinson is co-author. I got my hands on a copy last week and It is as brilliant as previous editions with new photos, 20 extra maps and significantly expanded entries.
If you were to buy just one book on wine this is what I would recommend and if you are stuck at home like most of us you can happily travel the wine world in its pages. The extra time at home is useful for catching up on reading and if you are ordering wine books online do consider using Galway-based Kennys — www.kennys.ie. For new books I have often found them cheaper than Amazon — such as Simon Woolf’s excellent book Amber Revolution about orange wines costs around €37.71 delivered (Amazon) while on Kennys it costs €26.34.
All the wines recommended this week are available for delivery. About time I mentioned Station to Station Wine which has a really solid list with names like Alvaro Palacios and Beaucastel.
In Cork, look to Bubble Brothers and Curious Wines which has a 20% reduction on Spain,Portugal and Argentina this month. Searsons.ie deliver nationwide as do www.winesoftheworld.ie (from Barry & Fitzwilliam which brings in Pol Roger, Lynch Bages, Tio Pepe and many others).
The longest-running wine delivery service is www.wineonline.ie which stocks wines from a number of importers and I also recommend www.obrienswine.ie, www.winesdirect.ie and relative newcomer www.siyps.com which stocks wine from some of my favourite importers — Vinistito, Grape Circus, Nomad Wines and Wine Mason.
Pazo de Villarei Albariño, Rias Baixas,Spain — €14.30
Stockist: Curious Wines Cork and Dublin www.curiouswines.ie
Reduced from €18 this is part of Curious Wines’ March offers so get your order in quick. From the more maritime influenced Val do Salnés sub-region which is on average at least a degree or so cooler. Pleasing white flower and ripe peach aromas mixed with citrus, lemongrass and green apples, textured and fruity with a salty spice kick on the finish.
Merinas Organic Tempranillo, Uclés,Spain — €12-13
Uclés is in Castilla-La Mancha in Central Spain south-east of Madrid, another little known Spanish region making great tasting wine at affordable prices. Juicy bright red berries with dark cherry fruits with crisp herbal touches that make for spicy flavours. Try lightly chilled with chorizo-based dishes or maybe with a pepperoni pizza with chilli.
La Vielle Fermé Rosé, Luberon,France — €15
Stockist: Bubble Brothers www.bubblebrothers.ie
It must be time for Rosé by now with the long evenings. I’ve been drinking soft juicy La Vielle Fermé wines since the early 1990s and their gorgeously hued rosé will cheer you up before you even open it. Floral and spice aromas with a hint of anise, ripe red fruits and a textured crisp palate. The Perrin Family Luberon blanc is also recommended as is the Vielle Fermé red.
Dom Filliatreau Saumur Champigny VielleVignes Cab Franc 2016 — €22
Stockist: Whelehans Wines www.whelehanswines.ie
Whelehans Wines has become a bit of a destination wine shop since it opened five years ago. You can order online and now during the shut down they are offering a contactless drive through service, you pay in advance and pop your boot on arrival. Red fruit with blackcurrant leaf edges, brisk red fruit flavours, textured bright and taut with some grippy plum skins flavours.
Villa Antinori Rosso IGT 2016, Tuscany,Italy — €22.99-€23.99
Stockists: Cinnamon Cottage, O’Briens, Independents, Searsons www.searsons.com, www.wineonline.ie
This is available from a few sources and is quite widely stocked in retail. The great Tuscany house of Antinori need little introduction and they make consistently elegant wines across their range. This has lots of cherry and red fruit aromas but is rich on the palate than you might expect with chocolate and darker fruits including ripe plums.
Zinck Gewurztraminer ‘Cuvée Portrait’ 2017,Alsace — €22
Stockists: Green Man Wines, www.siyps.com
Zinck’s wines from Alsace are always outstanding and there is something about cool bright spring weather that makes me reach for Gewürztraminer. Ripe lychee and rose petal aromas, textured and rich on the palate with sweet pear fruits but just enough acidity. This is a fine aperitif, good with spicy Asian food interesting with salty bacon (or choucroute), and I particularly like it fully chilled with a big bowl of mussels.