Given how unpredictable 2016 was I’m not sure I want to try to guess what 2017 will bring but in wine terms surely Burgundy must be due a decent break after the last few years of hailstones and other problems.
Burgundy prices are expected to rise further this year so we are just going to have to learn to love the fine elegant Pinot Noirs of Baden and other parts of Germany (or the fruitier styles of Chile and New Zealand), or maybe it is finally time for a Beaujolais revival.
Beaujolais is of course made with Gamay rather than Pinot Noir but the very best Beaujolais can be a joy to drink, cost a fraction of the best Burgundies, but offer much of the same poise and pleasure (if perhaps less of the heady fragrance we all crave).
I’ll be visiting Beaujolais in April and am looking forward to it hugely (or perhaps that should be ‘bigly’ given the year that is in it). The Beaujolais Cru villages of Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon and Juliénas (to name four of the ten) can give very different results and I know that drinking these wines in-situ will help explain the regions various subtleties more than any amount of reading.
The same is true of all wines so I recommend visiting one of your favourite wine-producing regions on holidays this year.
According to some stats I read late in 2016 Spain continues to have the longest life-expectancy of any country in the EU — Spain is also the country with the most land dedicated to vines and has a food culture to rival anywhere so surely these things must be connected. Hence I’m also going to up my Spanish wine intake in 2017 for my New Year’s Resolution and so should you.
My wines this week are a couple of the Christmas season’s bargains which I hope are still lingering on shelves, plus a few wines I’d like to have included in my pre-Christmas columns had there been room. I’m predicting that Portugal will grow their market here in 2017 and I also want to encourage you to try your first orange wine and re-discover Beaujolais if you haven’t already.
Best value under €15
I mentioned a previous vintage of this wine and I’m pleased to see that the 2014 is just as tasty. Dunnes Stores also has it in Magnums and there may be some left in store. Lots of juicy plum and blackberry fruit with some tannic structure that means this will show best served with beef or possibly a spicy pizza.
The Castellani family have a few wines on the Irish market including their eminently drinkable chianti. At just a tenner this is well worth a try and a good intro to sangiovese – cherry fruits plus some darker flavours such as plum and blueberry, soft and very drinkable. Perfect for spag bol.
O’Briens, Green Man Terenure, La Touche Greystones, Martins, Sweeneys.
Wines from the Dão region in central Portugal used to be more available in Ireland but the region has been overshadowed here by Douro at the better end and Alentejo and Lisboa at entry level. This has fine pure fruits with cherry and ripe berries to the fore, tasty and well worth this price.
Best value over €15
La Touche, Corkscrew, Donnybrook Fair, Green Man Wines, Sweeney’s, Hole in The Wall, On The Grapevine, Coachouse, D Six Wines.
A blend of two classic white Alentejo grapes. I love the whites from here and this is a good example with mineral zesty and dry Arinto balanced by the peachy fruit-driven Antao Vaz. Poised and elegant this is both fragrant and enticing while remaining dry and mineral with balance and acidity and a good match for seafood or perhaps Thai food.
Bradleys, Green Man Terenure, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie.
Beaujolais is my tip for 2017 especially now as Burgundy prices continue to rise. Foillard typifies the region with his use of bio dynamic farming, natural yeasts, low use of sulphur, and fruit-driven wines. This is fragrant, full-flavoured, ripely fruited and gloriously gluggable.
Bradleys, Le Caveau, Green Man Wines Terenure, l’Atitude 51 Winebar (by the glass)
Meeting this wine’s creator was a highlight of 2016 for me. This is an ‘orange wine,’ fermented on its skins for 30 days with natural yeasts. Deep honey and orange colour, bruised pear aromas, tannic with stone fruit flavours, orange rind, lemon oil and grapefruit touches.