Wine: January is a month for experimenting

January is a month for learning new things and many off-licences are offering wine courses this month and early next month.

Wine: January is a month for experimenting

For example O’Donovans Off Licence Group run the Cork Wine School and have a range of courses at all levels — details can be had from

L’Attitude 51 Wine Bar on Union Quay in Cork run regular courses but also wine tastings from wine makers and journalists such as myself. These evenings are less formal and usually include food to match the wines and a great way to painlessly broaden your knowledge.

My recommendations this week are mainly from Wines Direct who have a worthy sale on at the moment with 20% off many of their wines, all of which are sourced from family owned producers.

Wines Direct feature on this page fairly often as smaller producers tend to make more interesting wines (or perhaps that should read “smaller producers make wines that are of more interest to me!”).

Wines to watch out for include Domaine Tatraux Givry at €22, wines from Beaujolais producer Jean-Paul Brun (two of which I mention below) and regional wines from France, Spain and Italy.

I had room for just one wine from Curious Wines who also have a sale on focused partly on their French range, a region where they are particularly strong.

However you will also find a 20% reduction on wines from Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps the best bargains are in their bin-ends with some wines priced as low as €7 and €8 — hurry as stock is limited.

For the diary:

Australian Wine Fair, Wednesday, January 27, 6.30-8.30pm, RHA Gallery, Dublin.

One day after Australia Day this is a chance to taste wines from more than 30 producers. Admission €15, booking via


Coriole Chenin Blanc 2014, McLaren Vale, Australia — €14.40

Stockist: Wines Direct,, Mullingar & Arnotts

Chenin Blanc is grown by a number of producers in McLaren Vale, despite its reputation as a warm region more suited to Grenache and Shiraz. This has a touch of tropical fruit and a pear-drop character as you might expect from Australia but is also packed with fresh acidity and has a lingering mineral edge. Drink with some shellfish and dream of warm summer days.

Paddy Borthwick ‘Paper Road’ Pinot Noir, Wairarapa, New Zealand — €14.50

Stockist: Wines Direct,, Mullingar & Arnotts

Pinot Noir from New Zealand is always a little riper than you would get from Burgundy but good ones like this have a solid earthiness to cut through the richness. This is good value (reduced from €18 in the sale) and has warming strawberry and cherry fruits aromas and flavours mingled with some forest-floor character.

Moulin de Gassac Classic Rouge, Hereault, France — €9.99

Stockist: Curious Wines Cork and Naas,

Mas de Daumas Gassac is the one first growth wine of the Languedoc but they also make wines at all price levels, many of which are imported by Curious Wines. A blend of Syrah and Grenache with blackberry and red fruit aromas and a hint of tar and liquorice on the nose and ripe spicy fruits on the palate. Perfect for a mid-week pizza.


Domaine des Terres Dorées ‘L’Ancien’ Beaujolais, France — €18.50

Stockist: Wines Direct,, Mullingar & Arnotts

From an organic vineyard using natural yeasts this is a vegan-friendly wine made in as natural a way as possible (although the producer dislikes the fashionable term ‘natural’). Few basic AOP Beaujolais have made it into this column but this version from Jean-Paul Brun has huge amounts of zippy juicy fruit, freshness and lingering supple cherry and plum flavours.

Domaine des Terres Dorées ‘Classé’ Beaujolais Blanc, France — €18.95

Stockist: Wines Direct,, Mullingar & Arnotts

Less than five per-cent of Beaujolais’ production is white but they are worth seeking out as they offer many of the delights of top-end Macon (the Burgundy region just to the north), but for less money given the quality. This is bright and fruit-driven with pear and melon aromas, a mineral core, ripe fruit and lingering lemon balm flavours. Stockist: Wines Direct,, Mullingar & Arnotts

Quinta do Crasto LBV Port, Douro, Portugal — €21

In Ireland we drink most of our Port at Christmas time but on recent cold evenings I have been hugely enjoying this Late Bottled Vintage Port from the Roquette brothers Tomas and Miguel. Rich and fruity, warming and complex with a long slightly spicy finish that will work wonders with some decent dark chocolate or with that last slice of Christmas Cake.

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