Tagus Creek Shiraz Touriga Nacional Rosé

IRELAND has become a nation of wine drinkers in a very short time but the wines we drink now are quite different to those sampled in the mid-2000s.

Tagus Creek Shiraz Touriga Nacional Rosé

One well known Cork importer/retailer told me this week that in 2007 he regularly had customers asking him to suggest a wine that cost over €50 but some of those same customers are now asking what he can recommend for €5.

I also learned this week from a supermarket wine buyer that the average amount of money spent on a bottle of wine in their shops in 2012 was just over €7 and that only around 5% of what they sell costs over €15. The average spend in the independent off licence sector would be higher but I would guess it is probably not a lot higher.

Supermarkets’ massive buying power gives them a huge advantage but don’t give up on the independent sector yet — the wine world would be a very dull place if we could only buy our wine in the supermarket with their smaller range and emphasis on big brands.

Congratulations to Dicey Reillys in Ballyshannon, Donegal, which won the 2013 Noffla Off Licence of the Year. Diceys have an excellent wine selection but also one of the best beer and spirits ranges in the country.

Other winners included O’Donovans for Specialist Off Licence Group, Deveneys, Rathmines, for Wine Specialist, World Wide Wines Waterford for Munster Off Licence of the Year, Gibneys, Malahide, for Dublin and The Wine Centre, Kilkenny, for Leinster. Beer Specialist of the year was Baggot Street Wines. All are well worth a visit.

* Fair Trade Fortnight runs from Feb 25–Mar 10 so watch out for some Fair Trade wines including the Lidl Fairglobe Cab. Sauv/Merlot and the Marks & Spencer Six Hats Chenin Blanc – both from South Africa. For more details log on to www.fairtrade.ie.

The wine picks this week don’t follow any particular theme other than the fact that I consider them very good value in their price range.

Wine under €10

Wild Block Sauvignon Blanc 2011 — €9.99

Stockist: Spar

Spar is not the first place you think of for wine but some are worth checking out. This has crisp aromas of nettles and gooseberries, green fruit flavours on the palate with strong acidity and a green apple finish. Drier than many a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc out there and good value.

Vitae Cuvée Puglia 2010 — €9.99

Stockist: Spar

Apulia in the heel of Italy is an excellent hunting ground for good value wines. This is a blend of local Negroamaro and Merlot and has bright fruity aromas of blackcurrants and plums with a solid juicy attack on the palate and a soft plum and spice finish.

Soledoro Rubicone Sangiovese IGT — €6.99 (was €7.99)

Stockist: O’Briens

This light Italian Sangiovese packs quite a bit of flavour for such a small price. Garnet in colour with good fruity aromas and a meaty texture with hints of spice. This has a solid but supple tannic structure that would be best enjoyed with a thin base Margarita Pizza or perhaps a winter warming beef stew.

Wine under €20

Tagus Creek Shiraz Touriga Nacional Rosé — €11.99

Stockists: Flying Enterprise Cork, Quick Pick Glengarriff, Next Door, Independents

From the up-and-coming Alentejo region of Portugal — dark pink colour, strawberry and cherry aromas, dry and with good acidity but lots of lovely red fruit flavours. This has a QR barcode you can scan to take you to some matching recipes that will complement the wine.

Rizzardi Munus Bardolino 2010 Italy — €14.99 (was €21)

Stockist: O’Briens

On special offer in O’Briens for the month of February. Bardolino is in the Veneto next to Valpolicella, using similar grapes. Light brick red in colour with redcurrants on the nose, blackberry and cherry fruit flavours with some svelte tannins and a creamy texture. Perfect for a rich tomato based pasta sauce.

Mitolo Jester Vermentino, 2011, Australia — €18.99-€19.99

Stockists: www.drinkstore.ie, Drink Store, Dublin Wine Rooms and Mitchells Glasthule

Made by the talented Ben Glaetzer in McLarenVale near Adelaide this has relatively low alcohol at just 10%. Bright clean citrus aromas with a hint of pine resin. Fresh and light on the palate with a clean zesty finish and a lingering elegance and grace.

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