Wine: High tax on wine putting independent retailers out of business

Have you noticed the closure or takeover of a local wine shop recently?

Wine: High tax on wine putting independent retailers out of business

I could name a number of prominent shops that have closed in recent months or have sold out to a chain retailer.

The reason is simple — our outrageously high tax on wine and severe (and I would argue unfair) competition from the supermarkets.

The supermarkets do not mind our high excise tax as they can always take the hit by pressuring their suppliers and writing off the cost of promotions by increasing the price of other goods.

Since the Competition Authority removed the ban on below-cost selling the average price of groceries has gone up not down.

Can you name any other potentially harmful drugs that the Government allows to be sold below cost?

Alcohol should not be sold at large discounts and should be sold by responsible retailers which specialise in the product rather than ones that use it to increase sales of nappies.

I believe a special case can be made for wine (and possibly higher strength craft beers and ciders) given that it is most likely to be drunk with food — easily the healthiest way to consume alcohol.

And yet Ireland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to consume wine — we tax it at over 700% of the EU average.

We are also tax beer and spirits higher than is the EU norm but 200% to 280% higher — blatantly showing favouritism to products we produce and export ourselves and in flagrant disregard for the spirit (and some would say the treaties) of the European Union.

All the recommended wines this week are from the recent Irish Wine Show.

Importers that deal mainly with the independent trade submit their wines for blind tasting and with the combined buying power of the independents they can offer good value prices to compare with the supermarkets.

I mentioned the red wine of the year last week — Hecula monastrell from Yecla near Alicante.

I confess I was one of the blind tasters in the final round so I’m a fan of all.

Again, Spain showed very strongly but I was pleased to see a couple of South African wines winning out.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Monastario de las Viñas, Macabeo 2015, Cariñena, Spain — €9.95

Stockists:O’Donovans, No. 21, Ardkeen Stores, McHughs, Independent NOffLA Off-Licences

Macabeo is a synonym for Viura as used in white Rioja and though the grape is not regarded noble or fine, in the right hands it can be refreshing. This is from the small region of Cariñena in Aragon and the wine is what you would hope for in a bargain — and stone fruit aromas and bright.

Las Rocas Vinas Viejas Old Vine Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain — €14.95

Stockists: As above

Calatayud is not next door to the Cariñena region near the town of Zaragoza. Made from garnacha vines of a minimum of 70 years old this has deep rich spicy fruit flavours and a floral violet character. This is a good autumn-winter wine perfect for casseroles and roast meats or for serving with strong cheese.

Adega de Pegoes Colheita Seleccionada, Sétubal, Portugal — €14.95

Stockists: As above

This ‘harvest selection’ is a blend of local grapes from the Sétubal region (near Lisbon) — Arinto, Verdelho and Antao Vaz plus some chardonnay. Antao Vaz always adds a lovely peach quality and is evident on the nose here along with almonds, pears and vanilla. Full flavoured and complex with a fine vineous mouth-feel.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Valmiñor Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain — €17.95-18.95

Stockists: O’Donovans, No. 21, Ardkeen Stores, McHughs, Independent NOffLA Off-Licences

This classic and typical Albariño is the NOffLA White Wine of the Year. From the O Rosal sub-region of Rias Baixas which borders Portugal this has a pristine freshness a peach aroma, a rich feel and freshness. An excellent match with shellfish but also with Chinese and Thai dishes.

Jordan ‘The Prospector’ Syrah 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa — €19.99

Stockists: As above

South Africa is making a bit of a comeback these days having been rather neglected by Irish importers in recent years. This is typical of what the country’s best winemakers can do — dense ripe fruit flavours mixed with hints of chocolate, leather and tobacco, light, integrated tannins and a pleasing fleshy ripe plum finish.

Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc, Groenekloof, South Africa — €19.95

Stockists: As above

South African Sauvignons for me have often combined the best of the New and Old World and this is a good example. From a cool maritime region on the Cape West Coast this has bright gooseberry fruits with some tropical tinges with and a ripe lemon oil character and fine crisp acidity and freshness. Try with some fish and chips.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up