There are few more evocative words in the wine world than the villages and famous Château of Bordeaux. I know someone that christened his daughter Margaux such was his love of the violet-scented wines of that commune (lucky for her he wasn’t a super fan of Pauillac).
If you are one of the lucky people that was able to save money over the last year you might consider buying some En Primeur Bordeaux as the campaign is on now. Prices are still being released as I write so not everything is available but O’Briens, Greenacres and Tindal are all taking orders. Harriet Tindal MW posted an interesting chat with Emeline Borie of Château Grand Puy Lacoste in Pauillac on her Instagram accountwhere they discuss the 2020 vintage and even take a virtual tour of the vineyard.
In case you are unfamiliar with the concept: you are placing a deposit on a case (of 6 or 12 bottles) that is still in barrel and will be bottled in 2023. Once the wine arrives in Ireland you need to pay the excise duty and 23% VAT before you take delivery. I have bought Bordeaux this way a few times and by the time you have to pay the duty and VAT it feels like you have gotten a bargain. 2020 is a little like the 2016 (a very good thing) and prices are a little up as a result.
If you can’t wait for two years and want some Cru Classé Bordeaux right now you might consider Forrestal Wines — forrestal.ie — run by Ron Forrestal who has a couple of decades of experience. Forrestal does not sell at retail but only to restaurants and private clients so have been less busy than they would like thanks to the pandemic. While Forrestal would be considered Bordeaux specialists (often with several vintages available from their better Châteaux), they cover many classic wine regions from Chablis to Champagne to Chile.
You can’t buy direct from the Forrestal site but you can browse to see what wines they have available before you email or phone them — note that they are happy to break cases and have no minimum order requirement (within reason!).
Selections this week are three fine Bordeaux wines with two from Forrestal and one from JC Kenny based in Galway — a fine family firm with a very solid portfolio. My under €15 selection is summer drinking wines I liked recently.
Stockists: No. 21 Off-Licences, World Wide Wines, Coopers Cahir, Jus de Vine, Donnybrook Fair, Cappagh Stores.
We don’t think of Tuscany as a Rosé region but given the upsurge in rosé sales in recent years, expect to see more. This is Sangiovese-based and fashionably pale with ripe strawberry aromas and rounded mouth-filling soft fruit flavours and a crisp finish. While the wine is dry I did detect a couple of grams of residual sugar which makes it a perfect aperitivo.
Stockist: O’Briens stores nationwide
Albariño is perfect for warm weather and a natural match for seafood given the vineyards' proximity to the sea. This is on sale in O’Briens this month along with A Vaca Cuco Albariño also from Rias Baixas at €14.95. Both are packed with peaches and cream flavours and a salty mineral tang perfect for seafood or simply sipping with some cheese in the garden.
Stockist: Forrestal Wines forrestal.ie
Often found as a house wine in restaurants in Limerick and other parts of Munster this is exactly the kind of Sauvignon I like and is available via Forrestal Wines of Limerick/Listowel. Green apple and gooseberry aromas with a hint of grapefruit. Fruity, crisp and refreshing with a pleasing stony chalky kick on the bone-dry finish.
Stockists: Dick Mack’s Bottle Library, No. 21 Off-Licences, World Wide Wines, Coopers Cahir, Jus de Vine, Donnybrook Fair, Cappagh Stores.
Imported by JC Kenny wines and one of the highlights in the Dingles new Dick Mack Wine Library shop. Dauzac is a 5th Growth Cru Classé making dark intense wines that often push above their ranking. This has classic Bordeaux cedar and blackcurrant aromas — still quite young but with lots of grippy dark fruits with a pleasing velvety core. One for bbq or grilled steak perhaps.
Stockist: Forrestal Wines forrestal.ie 068-21088
One of the gems on the Ron Forrestal’s wine list which can be ordered direct. This is the second wine of Ch. Lagrange (which Forrestal also has in stock). Like virtually all the 2010s this has fine balance and poise with black cherry and blackberry aromas, black fruit flavours with pepper and spice edges — and lots of life should you want to lay it down.
Stockist: Forrestal Wines forrestal.ie 068-21088
The Satellite villages of Saint-Émilion such as Lussac, Saint Georges and Puisseguin are a good hunting ground for quality and value. The 2016 vintage is one of the best of recent years with almost every one making dark ripe wines. This pours almost black with dark fruit aromas, but opens up beautifully in the mouth with soft dark plums and lots of concentration and finesse.
Rambler Juicy Pale Ale, 4.6% ABV, 440ml — €2.79
Stockist: Lidl Stores nationwide.
Porterhouse Craft brewery is one of our oldest, founded in 1996 to supply the Porterhouse brewpub on Parliament St. Porterhouse have now created three new beers for Lidl at a bargain price — a creamy XXXX Stout, a hop-forward New England IPA, and this Juicy Pale Ale, which is perfect for hazy summer days.
Rambler pours with a fluffy white head, aromas of mandarin orange and citrus, fruity peach, and apricot flavours hit first before the malt kicks in, followed by a complex hoppy finish.
Hope Brewery in Howth is five years old this month and is celebrating with a live virtual tasting on June 25. To order your Hope pack visit mchughs.ie