Pierre Ponnelle Chablis

THE summer’s wine highlight has come and gone.

Pierre Ponnelle Chablis

Krug Champagne had a tasting at Ballymaloe house in late July (flagged here) which I believe is the first tutored tasting of Krug Champagne open to the public in around 20 years.

Presented by the charming Nicole Burke, Krug’s US ambassador, this was a rare chance to taste both the Grand Cuvée and the Krug Rosé — wines of intense depth and complexity. Nicole happened to be on holiday in West Cork with her Irish husband and, of course, Colm McCan at Ballymaloe managed to persuade her to do a tasting.

Krug is a small Champagne house and simply refuses to compromise on anything. Such attention to detail does not come cheap, but boy does it show in the wines.

The Grand Cuvée (€155-€165 — the Corkscrew, Le Caveau, Greenacres) was assembled from 142 different wines and ten vintages. The concentrated floral, brioche and citrus aromas were followed by deep dense flavours that brought to mind roasted yellow peaches and apples with touches of almonds and honey. There was ‘atin ‘n drinkin’ in it and I could have drunk it all night.

The Krug Rosé (€299-€329 — O’Briens, Greenacres, Terroirs, Wines on the Green) was onion skin in colour with aromas of fresh dough and raspberries, flavours of dried fruits and red-currants, and a beautifully elegant mousse with a surprisingly soft finish. The rosé had perhaps a little more subtlety than the Grand Cuvée but both were extraordinarily pleasurable to drink.

Now I realise that Krug is too expensive (the Ballymaloe tasting is just €15) but consider that Champagne is by far the cheapest part of the Champagne lifestyle — I would save to drink Champagne like this every now and then.

As this is holiday time I am sure many of you have set aside that Henry James Omnibus and picked up a copy of JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith — the wine recommendations below are for those that do the same with wine.

Best value under €10

Pierre Ponnelle Chablis, Burgundy, France €12 (was €17.50)

Stockist: Dunnes

Generally this Chablis is on offer at €14 but for the next week or two it is on sale for just €12, a steal of a price. This has the classic mineral and stony Chablis characteristics you would hope for with a complex layered palate and a crisp clean finish. Like any decent summer wine or book there is complexity here if you choose to seek it out.

Winzer Krems Riesling Von Den Terrassen, Austria — €14.99

Stockists: Karwigs Carrigaline

Riesling can run the gamut from the gluggable simple freshest examples to wines of true greatness such as Trimbach’s Clos St Hune (a wine I’ve only tasted twice, but each sip has lingered with me for years). This wine is on the simple side so won’t linger quite as long, but I suspect you will wish you had bought two thanks to its apple and pear aromas and flavours with a tiny hint of spritz for extra freshness.

I Heart Sauvignon Blanc — €10.95

Stockists: Karwig Wines, Matsons, JJ O’Driscolls, Hollands Bray, Gibneys Malahide, Hole in the Wall

The I Heart range includes wines from a number of regions made in a crowd-pleasing international style. Surprisingly this is Romanian, a region that has all but disappeared from our shelves since the mid-1990s. This is straightforward light crisp Sauvignon Blanc to quench the thirst rather than tax the brain.

Best value under €20

Rosa Dei Masi Veneto IGT, Italy — €17.49

Stockists: Widely Available

A percentage of the grapes for this Rosé are dried in the appassimento process as for Amarone which adds some extra textures and softens the fruit a little. Light pink in colour with some red current and raspberry aromas and just a touch of sweetness on the middle palate. Elegant and with a touch of complexity (but only if you care to look for it).

Gran Passione Rosso del Veneto, Italy — €15

Stockist: Molloys

This is a blend of Merlot and Corvina (the main Valpolicella/Amarone grape) made using partly dried grapes. Bright fruity style with some a tart, black cherry character on the palate and soft sweet fruit on the finish this is a bit of a flavour-bomb but has some underlying elegance — well worth the price.

Riesling Trocken QBA, Mathern Niederhauser, Nahe, Germany €16.90

Stockist: Karwigs Carrigaline www.karwigwines.ie

My campaign to get the world (or at least parts of Munster) drinking more Riesling continues. This fine example from the Nahe which is between the Mosel and the Rheinessen/Rheingau is on one level a crisp white wine for Summer, and on another level a floral, mineral and fruit-laden wine with admirable complexity, finesse and subtlety.

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