Aldi Muscadet Sur Lie, Loire, France — €8.49

SORRY to mention the war but this is pre-budget submission time and talking to some of those wine trade in recent weeks reminded me how difficult Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, has made it for small wine shops.

Aldi Muscadet Sur Lie, Loire, France — €8.49

Revenue demands excise payment from importers immediately when wine leaves the bonded warehouse for delivery to shops, and with the credit difficulties imposed by the banks these days this means everyone needs payment sooner and sooner. Inevitably this puts an extra squeeze on small off licences, added to the difficulties they already have in competing against below-cost selling in the multiples. The independent Irish wine trade will continue to struggle unless there are changes made to our punitive tax regime. However this week there was some good news with Cork-based Curious Wines (www.curiouswines.ie), run by brothers Mike and Matt Kane, announcing plans to open a new wine warehouse just off the M7 in Tougher Business Park near Naas. The new shop has been successfully crowd-funded through Linked Finance using Curious Wines’ own customer database.

Curious Wines’ model of engaging with their customers through newsletters, facebook and twitter is one that all small businesses need to imitate and might be a way to take control back from the corporate and a way to source financing for cash-strapped businesses.

There is a certain irony in my writing about the importance of independent wine shops and importers when I also regularly feature supermarket wines. But we all need a bargain every now and then. Just remember your local shop when next month’s pay cheque hits your account.

Wine recommendations this week are for inexpensive summer drinking mixed with a couple of unusual choices.

* For the diary: July 29 — Torres “Wine & Dine in the Dark” €49.95 per person for five-course dinner with matching wines. Sittings at 6.30pm and 9pm. Tel: 01-6794020

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Aldi Muscadet Sur Lie, Loire, France — €8.49

Stockist: Aldi

Part of the generally reliable (for the price) Exquisite Collection at Aldi. Muscadet is a good light fresh summer wine that is worth re-discovering if you haven’t had it since the ‘80s. Aldi’s version is typically crisp and clean, with some lemon and light galia melon flavours and a dry crisp finish – serve well chilled.

Aldi Cotes de Provence Rosé, Provence, France — €8.99

Stockist: Aldi

Cotes de Provence Rosé is the essence of summer but it rarely comes cheap unless you buy it in Provence. This is a relatively representative example which is surprisingly good for its price. Fragrant red fruits on the nose and palate with a bright dry finish. Try with some grilled salmon.

Prova Regia Arinto, Bucelas, Portugal — €13.99-€14.99

Stockists: O’Donovans, La Touche Greystones, Redmonds Ranelagh, Deveneys Dundrum

Portugal is still a little neglected by Irish wine consumers considering how many of us go there every year on holidays or weekends away. This is made with local grape Arinto and has delicious citrus, pear and peach qualities, and good acidity and not a little complexity – excellent for the price.

BEST VALUE UNDER €25

Taylors Chip Dry White Port, Portugal — €24.99-€25.99

Stockists: Corkscrew (www.corkscrew.ie), Hollands Bray, Sweeneys, Ballymaloe House

First created in 1934 and made from local Douro white grapes and aged in oak. Rich, complex and satisfying, with sweet nuts and dried fruit in the centre, but dry finish. Feel free to add tonic, with mint or lemon slices to make a long drink.

Tio Pepe En Rama Sherry — €19.99

Stockists: Mannings Emporium Ballylickey, Ballymaloe, Selected O’Briens.

Gonzales Byass only release a few dozen bottles of this to Ireland every year, but it is always a treat. This is an unfiltered “raw” version of the classic Tio Pepe blend, with significantly more complexity and a lovely wild flower and slightly funky citrus aroma, mixed with the usual straw and white flowers.

Albet i Noya Lignum! Blanco Penedès, Spain — €15.99-€16.99

Stockists: Fields Skibbereen, Mortons Galway, Lilac Wines Fairview

I’m a big fan of the wines of this producer who farm organically and use minimum interference in the wine making process (eg, very little sulphur). A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and the local Xarel-Lo with lively melon peach aromas, rich and complex in the mouth, and mineral and fresh on the finish.

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