DON’T FRET, you still have time to get wine for Christmas and perhaps pick up a wine-related present for the wine-enthusiast in your life.
A wine lover can never have enough bottles and if you don’t know what kind of wine they like you could consider a voucher or a bottle of Champagne which is the ultimate fail-safe present for all occasions. Veuve-Cliquot has some attractive gift sets this year to name just one brand.
The other thing we cannot have enough of is decent wine glasses such as the beautiful Riedel varietal glasses available in Brown Thomas and many wine shops. Spiegelau is another good brand and will cost a little less. Well designed corkscrews and pretty decanters are other good choices and a decanting funnel or wine thermometer are possibilities.
Do not bother with wine gadgets that involve magnets which are supposed to rapidly age a wine or claim to make it easier to open Champagne bottles. I wouldn’t bother with a bottle holder unless it is ingenious and/or attractive.
The one thing every wine-lover wants is the Coravin (www.coravin.com) — a recently invented gadget that allows you to remove wine from a bottle using a tiny needle inserted through the cork, and immediately replaces the wine with an inert gas that allows the remaining wine to continue to develop as normal. In theory you could take a small sip every year and record how a wine develops in bottle over a couple of decades. They cost around €300 in the US but will probably cost much more once they become available here, although I am sure someone is already inventing a similar but cheaper version.
One last quick idea is a voucher for a wine course, so enquire in your local off-licence as many have courses planned for January.
* Maureen O’Hara of Premier Wine Training will be running one-day and 8-week WSET courses next year and can be contacted via www.premierwinetraining.com
Best Value Under €10
Borie de Maurel Cuvée Luna 2012, Pays d’Oc, France — €9.99
A lively juicy red from the Langudoc made from a blend of Mourvedre and Syrah and created by a renowned organic and biodynamic producer especially for O’Briens. Redcurrant and black fruit flavours and a hint of spice that would go well with some spiced beef or a turkey and ham pie made from left-overs.
El Comandante Malbec, Argentina — €13.99-€14.99
Stockists: Bradleys, JJ O’Driscolls, 1601 Kinsale, Mannings Ballylicky, Ivans Limerick, Donnybrook Fair.
Earthy and fruity Malbecs like this one are an excellent match for turkey and ham. Produced by Irishman Tom Lynch from the estate he inherited from his father in Mendoza (his father was a Commandant in the Irish Army), this has good cherry and stewed plum aromas with blackcurrants and a hint of spice on the palate.
Cono Sur Reserva Especial Pinot Noir, Chile — €13.69
Stockists: widely available
Pinot Noir is a classic match for turkey. This fruity but reasonably complex version from Cono Sur (pinot noir specialists) packs a good punch and has nice strawberry and cherry touches. The less expensive Bicicleta Pinot Noir is also worth considering and costs around €2 less.
Best Value Under €20
Chateau Bertinat Lartigue, Saint-Émilion 2009 — €17.95
Stockist: Redmonds Ranelagh
Jimmy Redmond brings this in himself so he likes it so much he has kept all the stock for his own customers. This was an excellent vintage throughout Bordeaux and this is very good value. Bright juicy black plum character on the nose and palate, fruity and very drinkable and some decent length.
Val delle Rose, Morellino di Scansano 2009, Tuscany, Italy — €24.99
Stockist: Marks & Spencer
This relatively obscure red is made from grapes grown in a small hilly region around the village of Scansano in the Maremma region of Coastal Tuscany. The main grape is Sangiovese (the local name is Morellino) and it seems to make particularly fragrant wines here — violets and sweet plum aromas with cherries and ripe plums and on the palate.
Louis de Custine Champagne NV, France — €24.50 (was €32)
Stockist: Dunnes Stores
You definitely need a bottle of Cava or Champagne chilling in in the fridge over Christmas for emergency celebrations and this offering from Dunnes ticks the right boxes with a light citrus and biscuity aroma, consistent bubbles and a light lemon fresh palate and a hint of brioche on the finish. This is lighter than many Champagnes but this also means it will have broader appeal.
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