Recommendations this week include some Chilean reds and fragrant Albariños from Rias Baixas

Ireland is a small country that drinks a relatively modest amount of wine per head of population — around 17 litres per year compared with 24 litres in the UK and 53 litres per head in France.

Recommendations this week include some Chilean reds and fragrant Albariños from Rias Baixas

For most wine-exporting countries Ireland is strictly of minor interest, but not for the wine makers of Chile given that around one in every four bottles consumed here is Chilean.

Two of the better producers were in town recently Mario Pablo from Casa Silva and Marcelo Papa of Concha y Toro and both spoke enthusiastically about Chile’s relationship with Ireland (well with its wine drinkers at least!).

Chile has a strong hold here on the entry level market and all the producers are trying to encourage us to trade up to their better wines.

Largely I would agree that spending a few extra euro to get to the Reserva level or higher will yield significant benefits in terms of flavour.

The exception is Sauvignon Blanc where personally I tend to prefer the simple freshness of the entry level wines over the rather herbal and (over-ripe) asparagus flavoured fruit to be found at the top end.

Casa Silva is betting on cooler coastal climates and on Carménère for the future, and has recently identified some specific high-quality Carménère clones — their micro-climate Carménère is one of Chile’s great wines (sadly it is produced in tiny quantities and is not available here).

Marqués de Casa Concha’s range here includes their dense ripe Chardonnay, their blackcurrant essence Cabernet plus a smoky Syrah (see below).

These are the big brothers to the Casillero del Diablo range but still sell at a very fair price.

The brand will soon include old vine Cinsault and Pais varietals in their range and here’s hoping they make it here at some point.

Recommendations this week include some Chilean reds but also some fragrant Albariños from Rias Baixas which has organised a series of tastings this summer.

I will be hosting a masterclass on the grape on July 13 at Green Man Wines in Terenure in Dublin.

A similar tasting will be held by Elizabeth Fox of GMIT at the Twelve Hotel next Thursday, July 7.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Thomas Schmitt Riesling Kabinett 2011, Mosel, Germany — €12

Stockist: O’Donovans

I only get to mention the occasional Mosel Riesling on this page (thanks Karwigs!) so I was pleased to see this on offer in O’Donovans.

Be warned that this has sweetness as well as acidity and is probably best described as demi-sec with sweet apple confit fruits and a lemon oil character. Try well chilled with mature Durrus or Gubbeen.

Casa Silva Cool Coast Pinot Noir 2012, Chile — €14.95

Stockist: O’Donovans, www.winesoftheworld.ie

From a vineyard just 5km from the cool Pacific Ocean where temperatures are rarely above 23C in the day and 8C at night.

Bright red fruit and classic earth tinged Pinot Noir aromas, darker fruit on the palate, dry but with a luscious edge. Serve a little cooler to bring out the freshness.

Casa Silva Carménère Reserva 2012, Chile — €14.95

Stockist: O’Donovans, www.winesoftheworld.ie

As often with Carménère this has rich black fruit aromas mixed with a herbal leafy note (familiar to anyone that has picked blackcurrants!).

Fragrant black fruit on the palate with supple fruits and a lingering freshness that will make this a good outdoor wine.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Marques de Casa Concha Syrah 2012, Buin Maipo, Chile — €12-€16.95

Stockists: Tesco

This is occasionally on special offer for around €12.95 so keep an eye out. Syrah grows very well in Chile and I expect we will see more of it once we start to buy it in larger numbers.

Aromas of black fruit, vanilla and spice (oak) and warm mouth-filling flavours. Try with some roast summer lamb.

Pazo Barrantes Albariño, Salnés Rias Baixas, Spain — €22.95

Stockist: O’Briens

This is from the Salnés region of Rias Baixas, arguably the best of the five sub-regions with cooler temperatures and more sea influence.

This is owned by Marqués de Murrieta and is worth the extra few euro for its minerality and intensity mixed with honeysuckle aromas and weighty texture.

Terras Gauda Albariño, O Rosal Rias Baixas, Spain — €24.95

Stockists: Matsons, Mannings Ballylicky, Ardkeen Stores, Stacks Listowel, The Corkscrew, Jus de Vine, Donnybrook Fair, Mitchells

From the sub-region of O Rosal near the river Minho which creates the border between Galicia and Portugal.

Intense washed stone and white peach aromas, solid textured palate with a dry mineral finish.

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