The easiest analogy to make is to cars.
A 10-year old Japanese three-door car will get you to your weekend break just as quickly (assuming the presence of speed cameras), as a new German built luxury car but you will probably find the journey in the latter a little smoother.
Similarly a bottle of Chilean Cabernet at €20 will encourage conversation and balance out the flavours of your Sunday roast just as well as a bottle of Chateau Phélan Ségur 2009 from Bubble Brothers in the English Market for €69.
You will probably find the latter more complex but this doesn’t make it a better match to your palate, or more importantly your wallet.
Even using the most expensive production methods few wines would cost over €40 at Irish prices and not return a reasonable profit to the winemaker.
However winemakers have car loans and mortgages just like everyone else so you can’t blame them for charging a price the market will take.
Most of what you spend over €100 is created by supply and demand — there are just too many people willing to pay high prices for iconic wines.
The price of high-end Bordeaux is rather dispiriting for those of us that began our wine obsession before prices went crazy (the late 1990s).
In 1996 I bought a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1993 for $50 in Gotham Wines on 94th and Broadway (IR£35) — a rainy vintage but still tasty.
O’Briens in Beacon, Dublin has the 2010 Lafite for €1,800 (a rainy 2012 costs around €1,000) — Nicholas in O’Briens Douglas will happily organise delivery down to Cork by the way!
Don’t get me wrong Lafite is still a glorious tasting wine, but my last car cost less.
The recommendations over €15 this week are wines that didn’t make it into previous columns that I think are worth highlighting, particularly as they are worth their price.
My wines under €15 this week are all from Centra’s new “Wines We Love” range which includes some good choices.
Some of these wines will also be available in SuperValu stores but prices may differ.
I have always found Nugan wines consistently well made across their portfolio. The full range is in larger SuperValu stores.
This shiraz rests for a time on the lees of an amarone style wine and is made in a bright fruity style with red and plum fruit aromas and a touch of tar, the palate is fruity with some integrated tannins and a lingering black fruit finish.
Vina Albali is another consistent producer and I would happily also pay the €12 standard price. Verdejo is the speciality (quality) grape of Rueda which is in north-west Spain and worth learning about — bright pear and citrus fruit aromas, clean and fresh on the palate, crisp acidity on the finish.
I’ve featured this grape before which is found throughout the Puglian peninsula in wines such as Salice Salentino where it is often blended with malvasia nera.
Liquorice and ripe black fruit aromas, soft fruity raisin and black cherries on the finish. Try with spicy tomato-based pasta sauce.
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain — €16
O’Donovans Cork, Vintry Rathgar, Martins Fairview
Another example of a supremely tasty regional Spanish red wine that punches well above its price.
Calatayud is beside Cariñena in Aragon, not far from Zaragoza and grapes are grown at around 600-800m above sea level. This is loaded with spicy red and black fruits and sits very comfortably on the palate with supple tannins and a soft juicy quality.
JJ O’Driscolls, Vintry Rathgar
Cigales in North-West Spain on one of the main routes of the Camino de Santiago. Made from Tempranillo this is from the same company as Coto de Imaz and El Coto Rioja both of which I’ve featured before.
A real crowd pleaser — ripe fruity aromas, blackcurrant and vanilla notes with a savoury element, all of which follow through on the fruit-driven palate.
JJ O’Driscolls, Quintessential Wines, Hole in the Wall D7
Imported by Quintessential Wines in Drogheda this is one of the oldest estates in Kamptal with a 16th century winery building and a 700 year old cellar.
Classic salt and white pepper aromas with good density and freshness and a ripe mouth feel. I drank this recently with some spiced yoghurt baked fish and it worked beautifully.