The cold weather of recent weeks has not just been in Ireland as some of Europe’s major wine regions have been hit by very bad frosts.
A quick Google of the words ‘frost’ and ‘vineyards’ will lead you to a number of news stories about the extreme conditions French vignerons have had.
While the stories are not happy ones, the pictures are quite beautiful with small braziers burning between the vines in Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy in an attempt to heat the air and prevent damage.
There have also been problems in Cognac, Alsace, the Loire, the Languedoc and parts of the Rhone with vines effectively burned by the frost so that they look like dried tobacco.
Elsewhere, Italy, Switzerland and Germany have also been affected.
The vines at this stage of the year are just small shoots which makes them particularly vulnerable.
Temperatures have dropped to minus-7 in places and young shoots simply cannot survive at that temperature.
Some growers have lost more than 50% of their crop and most have suffered at least a 20% drop.
This is the second year in a row that frosts have hit Burgundy and prices are likely to increase further due to supply and demand issues.
This year’s frost in Burgundy is even worse than last year and thought to be the worst since 1981.
A number of my recommendations this week are available in The Cinnamon Cottage in Rochestown.
You probably know them as a source of brown bread, scones and cakes but they have a decent wine selection sourced from Bubble Brothers, Karwigs and Tindal wine merchants which also distributes the wines of importer Simon Tyrrell.
As well as the wines below watch out for the Dom la Bouissièrre Gigondas, Chateau Pesquié, Zenato Ripassa and Valpolicella, La Vielle Fermé, Nebbiolo de Langhe and the Gramont Bourgogne.
Also this week I have a couple of SuperValu wines as they have an Italian sale beginning on May 11.
Besides the two mentioned you could also try the Tombacco Aglianico.
Diary: On May 9, I will be hosting a tasting of Spanish wine in Whelehans Wines in Loughlinstown in Dublin.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Fantini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy — €13.99
Stockists: Cinnamon Cottage Rochestown, Egans Portlaoise, Searsons Dublin.
Farnese are a solid producer in Abruzzo and if you ever spot their luscious top wine ‘Opi’ snap it up.
This is a bright fruity purple colour with ripe berry fruits and a fruit-driven palate with touches of liquorice and prunes. Perfect for pizza and tomato based pasta sauces.
Ricossa Barbera Appassimento, Piedmont, Italy — 6 for €50
This wine goes on special offer next Thursday and will probably sell out by the weekend, given that it would normally be at least €16 per bottle. Made from partially dried grapes this is super-fruity with soft ripe blackberry and plum flavours.
Burdizzo Vermentino, Tuscany, Italy — €10
I’m not sure I’ve mentioned a Vermentino in at least a year — this is a relatively simple fresh version but well worth a tenner (normally €13).
Aromas of lime and grapefruit with a floral touch, crisp and fresh on the palate with lingering lemon balm citrus flavours. Perfect for a fish supper or as an aperitivo.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Gitton Sancerre ‘Les Montachins’ 2014, Loire, France — €23.95
I don’t mention Sancerre much but I liked this pure one from Gitton who have 27ha in the region (having started with half a hectare in 1945).
This has ripe green apple and citrus aromas with some typical gooseberry touches, crisp and fresh and a little bit of structure which will allow this to age a little longer.
Chateau Pesquié ‘Les Terrasses’, Ventoux, France — €19.99
Stockists: Cinnamon Cottage, Searsons, Jus de Vine, Ardkeen Stores
The name comes from the terraced vineyard slopes of Ventoux which produce the best grapes.
A blend of Grenache-Syrah (70-30) this is fragrant and fruity on the nose with soft generous black and red fruits on the palate and a lingering freshness.
Perfect for some of the colder evenings these days but also good served a little cooler in the sunshine.
Williams Fèvre Chablis, Burgundy, France — €24.99
Stockists: Cinnamon Cottage, Searsons, MacGuinness Wine Merchants, Mortons, 64 Wines
Chablis is the purest expression of Chardonnay and William Fèvre produces some lovely wines across the range of premier and grand cru.
This is mineral and stony on the nose with apple and citrus hints, clean and brisk on the palate with more stones and honeysuckle touch on the finish.
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