All wine selections this week are Spanish

Only a couple of weeks to Budget 2015 and still time to contact Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to encourage him to give small wine importers and wine shops a break by reducing our criminally high wine taxes.

All wine selections this week are Spanish

There is another group however that he needs to consider and that is the closest thing we will ever have in Ireland to a wine industry: our wonderful Artisan Cider producers.

Globally the consumption of cider has risen by 50% since 2004 while production in Ireland has actually fallen by 21% (figures from Cider Ireland).

We are currently the second highest taxed cider market in Europe and the current tax system unfairly discriminates against artisan producers as their 100% apple cider is naturally higher in alcohol (commercial cider is approx 35% apple and easily adjusted).

Cider naturally ferments to 7% so would be taxed at €218 per 100 litres, beer at 7% is taxed at a mere €78 — how could this possibly be fair given that artisan cider is 100% Irish ingredients, and 99.9% of Irish craft beer is made with some imported ingredient, either hops, yeast or malt?

All my selections are Spanish this week and all make their debut here.

The Spanish Wine Fair is always a highlight with the only problem being there are so many wines worth writing about.

Spain is still the best value country to source wine from I believe and while we think of Spain for reds more than whites, I think readers of this page already know of my love of Albarino, Godello, Verdejo and even Viura if done right.

Just one white this week however which has a wonderfully dramatic label and a huge amount of character.

The three importers featured below are Tasserra, Ampersand and Approach Trade, the last sharing many of their wines with Karwigs in Carrigaline.

Rafael Alvarez is one of the stalwarts of the Irish wine trade and I have very rarely disliked a wine that he imports.

If you live anywhere near his home base in Carrick on Suir, Tipperary you will find his wines in many of the local shops and restaurants.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Daimon Blanca de Rioja Alta, Rioja, Spain — €14.95

Stockists: Ardkeen Stores, Independents

According to the producer the name Daimon refers to the ancient Greek idea of conscience guiding us in our actions, the eyes showing us the way. A blend of Viura, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia and Tempranillo Blanca this is hugely fragrant with floral notes, pear drops and tropical fruits with a clean citrus finish. The red is also worth a look.

Tinedo Cala No. 1, Castilla, Spain — €12.95

Stockists: No. 21 Off-Licences Cork and Waterford, JJ O’Driscolls, Ardkeen Stores, Independents

Sweet cherry fruit with chocolate and liquorice touches. A family run organic wine estate with strong principles about how they treat the environment. The faces on the label played a part in the wine, a blend of Tempranillo, Cab. Sauvignon and Syrah with a touch of Graciano and Roussanne.

Musica en El Camino 2011 Rioja, Spain — €14.75

Stockists: Ardkeen, 1601, Kilkenny Wine Centre, Karwigs Carrigaline

This winery is owned by Bodegas Martin Codax, best known for their Albarinos which I have featured here before. This is a soft richly fruited generous wine with cedar and spice aromas and lots of character. This is a more modern style of Rioja good value for the price and would work well with rich stews and casseroles

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Herència del Padrí, Priorat, Spain — €14.75

Stockists: Ardkeen, 1601, Kilkenny Wine Centre, Karwigs Carrigaline

Priorat is a fascinating region to visit with high terraced vineyards, slate soils (the vine roots burrow between the slates) and some fine old Carinena and Garnacha vines. This is a big wine and tastes quite mature with fine savoury black fruit flavours and lingering cooked blackberries. One for the cheeseboard perhaps.

Via Terra Negra, Terra Alta, Spain — €16.49

Stockists: Ardkeen, 1601, Kilkenny Wine Centre, Karwigs Carrigaline

This is a blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Carinena from Terra Alta in the province of Tarragona in Catalonia and was one of my finds of the Spanish tasting along with its big brother the Seleccio (€33). The Seleccio is the bigger wine of course but both are complex, concentrated, fruit driven, and warmly recommended.

Paal 01, Navarra, Spain — €16.95

Stockists: Ardkeen, 1601, Kilkenny Wine Centre, Karwigs Carrigaline

Syrah grows very well in Spain and many producers use it in blends but it is actually relatively unusual to come across a pure Syrah.

This is a rich earthy wine with liquorice tinged dark black fruits.

It’s soft on the palate with good grip and a bright fruity freshness on the finish.

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