Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Christmas is coming, but first things first – we are now in Game Season and we should start to see pheasant, partridges and wild ducks appearing in good butchers this month. 

Wild venison is available at other times, but the best quality seems to be available in November.

The flavours in game work particularly well with red wine, but there are some whites that work well with lighter meats such as partridges or pheasants. Alsace Pinot Gris from a producer such as Trimbach or Hugel has a richness on the palate that marries well, but so also will some of the more fragrant whites from Spain such as Albariño and Godello. German off-dry Riesling can also be a surprisingly good match as I found out in Knockranny house when it was paired with a teal and duck liver terrine.

Most of us associate game menus with the classic regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux, but the extra fruit power to be found in the New World also has its charms, particularly with stronger flavours. I recently tasted smoked duck with a glass of Viu Manent Secret Pinot Noir, for example, and I believe it would also work well with wild duck.

Viu Manent is a family-owned company based in the Colchagua Valley in Chile and is distributed here by Mackenway and I recommend a few of their wines below. I tasted my way through much of their range a few weeks back in Asador Restaurant on Haddington Road in Dublin.

Viu Manent mostly produces wines from its own vineyards (the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc in Casablanca Valley being the exception). The “secret” in the Secret range is that most wines contain a secret 15% of another grape variety to balance out the flavours while not disturbing the varietal character. My other recommendations are from Spain because value-wise it is hard to beat right now.

For The Diary:

Nov 15 - O’Briens Christmas Wine Fair, Round Room, Mansion House, Dublin 1

Nov 21-22 - Knockranny House Hotel Game Weekend - www.knockrannyhousehotel.ie

Best value under €15

La Granja 1080, Tempranillo Garnacha 2009, Cariñena, Spain - €13.99-€14.99

Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Stockists: Independent Off-Licences – McHughs, Vintry, O’Sullivans Blarney, 1601 Kinsale, JJ O’Driscolls, Brosnas Eurospar Schull

The Cariñena wine region is is a good source of approachable and value-driven wines. I’ve mentioned the white (Verdejo-Viura) baby brother of this wine before but this a significantly meatier wine which has some spicy oak and rich juicy dark fruit flavours. Serve with Venison or spicy meat dishes.

VN - Via Nova Godello, Valdeorras, Spain - €14.99

Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Stockists: World Wide Wines, 1601 Kinsale, Baggot St. Wines, Vintry

Valdeorras is located in Galicia in North West Spain to the east of Albariño/Rias Baixas country. The name means Valley of Gold and the classic white grape of the region produces whites with a light golden tint, apricot and cooked pear aromas, and a weighty rich palate with just enough acidity. This would match partridge but also roast pork.

Monastario de las Viñas Garnacha Tempranillo, Cariñena, Spain - €10.99

Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Stockists: Independents - McCabes, Ardkeen Stores, Next Door Forum, Selected Next Door Off-Licences

The grape Carignan takes its name from this region. A light drinkable damson scented wine with good fruit and acidity that I think would match well with lighter game such as pheasant or even Saturday night pizza.

Best value over €15

Secret Pinot Noir 2012, Casablanca, Chile - €18.99

Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, World Wide Wines Waterford, Mortons Dublin and Galway, Drinkstore.ie

Pinot Noir is an almost seamless match for duck and sometimes with wild duck the richer New World Pinot Noir flavours such as those from the Casablanca Valley work even better. This is perfumed and elegant with lots of juicy red cherries, reasonably good acidity and a lingering finish.

Secret Carménère 2011, Colchagua Valley, Chile - €16.99

Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, World Wide Wines Waterford, Mortons Dublin and Galway, Drinkstore.ie

Carménère can be green and leafy in flavour, so pick older vintages. This has a touch of blackcurrant leaf aroma with black pepper and tobacco touches mixed with sweet fruit. Works with game birds or spiced beef.

Vibo Viñedo Centenario 2010, Colchagua Valley, Chile - €22.99

Spanish wines are hard to beat right now

Stockists: World Wide Wines, Baggot St. Wines, Martins of Fairview, Hollands of Bray

This limited production Bordeaux blend (mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec) was matched well in Asador with rib-eye steak or venison. Classic ripe black fruit and cedar aromas with a distinct spicy quality.


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