The Indian Summer we have been experiencing in recent weeks is not just putting us in better form, but also the winemakers across Europe.
Crops have been low the last few years and it is thought that this yearthere may be an increase of up to 50 per cent in Bordeaux to take just one example. Burgundy had bad hail storms earlier this year but those vines that survived the hail (some as big as golf balls) should at least produce high quality fruit.
Hail also hit parts of the Languedoc and Bordeaux (even in September) and few regions escaped some trauma from what now seems to be an annual curse — blamed by many on global warming. However acording to the online feeds from winemakers, they are optimistic for the fruit still on the vine or already in the fermentation tanks.
The red grapes are being picked in Bordeaux at the moment, the dry white grapes (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) are already being vinified, and the misty mornings and warm days are perfect conditions for creating good Sauternes and Barsac. Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet (who charmed so many of us at Ballymaloe LitFest earlier this year) is confident about this year’s harvest as botrytis cinerea has already spread through a number of parcels in the vineyard.
I am a little late getting to the SuperValu French wine sale which contains a few new wines along with some decent reductions on their regular range. As well as the wines mentioned below there is a good selection in the “Three for €25” range including wines from Burgundy, Minervois and other worthwhile appellations.
The other two wines mentioned below are from Febvre who are making inroads into Munster at the moment and have an Iberian wine promotion until Christmas. Stockists of Febvre wines include Number 21 in Cork and Ardkeen Stores in Waterford.
For the diary: O’Briens New Zealand tasting, Rochestown Park Hotel, Featuring: Fleur McCree from Insight and Melanie Brown from Man 0’War on Thursday, October 9, at 7.30pm; cost: €20
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Monte Velho Branco, Herdade do Esporao, Alentejo, Portugal - €12.99
Herdade do Esporao is one of the great modern Portuguese wine producers and this fragrant wine is typical of what they can do. I suspect this is Arinto with maybe a touch of Antao Vaz, thanks to its mix of fragrance and acidity – perfect for grilled barbecues fish.
Stockists: Redmonds Ranelagh, McHughs, Jus de Vin Portmarnock and possibly No. 21 Cork and Ardkeen Stores.
Chateau Roumieu Sauternes 2010, Bordeaux, France, 375ml - €10.00 (was €14)
Top end Sauternes and Barsac dessert wines are not cheap but are still under-priced given the tiny quantities produced. This is actually a Barsac (either name can be used) and is my pick of the SuperValu sale with delicious acacia flower aromas and honeyed fruit balanced by just enough acidity.
Les Hauts Gros Caillou St Emilion 2011, Bordeaux, France - €14 (was €28)
While I wouldn’t recommend this at full price it is a decent Claret for under €15 with some nice blackcurrant fruits and some touches of spice on the palate.
I suspect this will also soften and develop a little in the bottle over the next two years if you have some patience.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Crémant de Loire Premier Cru, Loire Valley, France - €15 (was €25)
This is an old favourite of the SuperValu/Superquinn French wine sale and worth stocking up on. Too often cheap Loire sparklers are thin and acidic (e.g. beware the bargain bins of French supermarkets) but this is charming and elegant with a fine fruity palate.
Balland-Chapuis Sancerre Rouge 2010, Loire, France - €15 (was €19)
Red Sancerre is rare and often over-priced but at its best can offer up light fragrant Pinot Noir with a stony mineral core. This is good for the price and it has decent red-fruit aromas and flavours with a little bit of weight on the palate that would ensure it matched well with some grilled lamb chops.
AgnusDei Albariño, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain - €16.99
It must be nearly a month since I recommended an Albariño, easily Spain’s best white wine grape from (Celtic) Galicia. As usual this has a peach and apricot aroma but also some good racy acidity with a greengage and kiwi freshness on the finish.
Stockists: Redmonds Ranelagh, McHughs Jus de Vin Portmarnock and possibly No 21 Cork and Ardkeen Stores.
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