Wine with Leslie Williams: Mixed reports on European harvest season

The 2019 European harvest is mostly picked by now and reports are mixed but positive.

Wine with Leslie Williams: Mixed reports on European harvest season

The 2019 European harvest is mostly picked by now and reports are mixed but positive. There are other problems besides quality and quantity. Brexit is looming and Trump’s 25% tariffs will hit wines from France, Germany and Spain (and of course Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky).

For some reason Champagne and sparkling wine has been excluded as have wines from Italy. China’s imports of European wine are also down 64% for the first six months of 2019 according to Decanter Magazine.

In Ireland, France now trails Chile, Australia and Spain in wine sales, so to cheer them all up my selections this week are mainly from France.

I include some inexpensive regional wines from O’Donovans and a couple of new wines from Molloys and this year’s White Wine of the Year from the recent National Off-Licence Association awards — a gem of a wine from Roussillon on the Spanish border.

I should mention O’Donovans a little more often given that they are still family-run and are such a long established Cork firm. Gary O’Donovan is always on the lookout for bargains and they keep their prices competitive, easily matching supermarkets.

The bad wine news for Cork is that L’Atitude 51 Wine Bar will be closed for a few more months while it undergoes refurbishment. L’Atitude’s owner and creative force Beverly Matthews is organising some wine events in St Peter’s in Cork in the coming weeks however so all is not lost.

For the Diary:

  • October 25, 7pm: ‘A Wine Goose Chase’ wine tasting/theatrical performance by Susan Boyle. Tickets €30 via Everbrite
  • November 8, 5.30pm in St Peter’s, Cork: L’Attitude Guerrilla Tasting ‘Volcanoes, Mountains & Coasts’ wine tasting with wines from extreme regions. Cost: €18, booking via info@stpeterscork.ie or info@latitude51.ie
  • November 12, Ashford Castle Autumn Winemaker’s Dinner hosted by Peter Finlayson and Victoria Tollman of Bouchard Finlayson Wine Estate. €120 per person with value overnight packages available. Visit www.ashfordcastle.com or phone 094 954 6003

Best value under €15

Château Franciment 2015, Bergerac, France — €9.99

Stockist: O’Donovans Off-Licences Cork

O’Donovans off-licences have a selection of good value French wines on offer at the moment, including this Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend from Bergerac to the east of Bordeaux. Bright red fruits with a touch of soft plums, fruity and fresh with some structure on the finish so a good match for a mid-week casserole or perhaps some grilled lamb chops.

Cave de Lugny Mâcon Villages Eugene Blanc, France— €13 (was €15)

Stockist: O’Donovans Off-Licenes Cork

The Mâcon region in Southern Burgundy is often a good source of inexpensive, tasty Chardonnay, although you need to be careful as there is a lot of rather thin generic Mâcon out there. This is not one of them, floral and citrus aromas with a touch of cooked pear, fruity, and supple on the palate with textured white fruits that pushes above its price point.

Luz de Serenidad 2013, Jumilla, Spain — €10 (was €15)

Stockist: O’Donovans Off-Licenes Cork

This is an outlier in this week’s recommendations, but I had to include it in case it sells out. Note that This has six years age on it but it is holding up fine, a blend of 80% Monastrell with 20% Tempranillo from Jumilla near Alicante. Brick red colour thanks to its age, with stewed plum aromas, fruity and soft with supple fruits and good length. Not for ageing further but drinking well now.

The 2019 European harvest is mostly picked by now and reports are mixed but positive. There are other problems besides quality and quantity. Brexit is looming and Trump’s 25% tariffs will hit wines from France, Germany and Spain (and of course Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky).

Best value over €15

Les Sources de Montmirail Gigondas 2016, France — €22

Stockist: Molloys Liquor Stores

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is by the best known village in the Cotes du Rhone but second has to be Gigondas which is probably the closest in style to its more famous neighbour. This is a really solid example with big juicy grenache flavours, ripe and supple with some good Chateauneuf-like heft and dark chocolate touches on the finish.

Dame Guilherme, Plan de Dieu 2018, Cotes du Rhone Villages, France — €15

Stockist: Molloys Liquor Stores

Plan de Dieu is one of the 20 named villages in the Cote du Rhone which elevates it slightly from regular ‘Cote du Rhone Villages’ which can come from more than one vineyard. This is bright purple and youthful with dark blackcurrant fruits on the nose but supple, juicy, brighter fruits on the palate and some lingering blackberries on the finish.

Domaine La Fage ‘Cadireta’ 2018, Roussillon, France — €18.99 to €19.99

Stockists: National Off-Licence Association, O’Donovans, World Wide Wines, No 21, Vintry Rathgar, McHughs, Drink Store, independents.

This producer has appeared here before, mainly for its grenache blanc blends: the Cote Est and Centenaire. This was the highest ranked wine in the National Off-Licence Association, Gold Star Awards — pure chardonnay but fermented on the lees of a Viognier with lovely exotic fruits.

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