All over Europe and the Northern Hemisphere, grape growers are checking the weather forecast on an hourly basis, and saying prayers that the rain stays away.
The harvest will be early this year, and already some of the white grapes have been picked.
A summer heatwave throughout Northern Europe has left producers cautiously optimistic for 2015’s wines with the Bordelais particularly enthused.
Some are predicting 2015 will be like 2003 but let’s hope not, as many of those wines were rather unbalanced.
To coincide with harvest time many shops are having French wine sales. If you would like to stock up on Bordeaux, you should look to Lidl.
I recommend Chateau Gloria 2010, but they also have the some very good second wines from the likes of Pichon Lalande, Valandraud, and Prieuré Lichine and of course some very good value at the lower end.
Where possible I advise buying 2009 and 2010 wines but you may also be interested in Chateau Phélan Ségur 2007 — a very light year but it is hard to argue with a price of €25 when this wine would normally sell for around €60.
Elsewhere you will find French wine sales in SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, and Wines Direct (www.winesdirect.ie) and I will feature some wines from their sales next week.
My selections this week include two of the wines I will be featuring at Theatre of Food in the Mind Field at Electric Picnic next weekend.
I am doing two events this year on wine, whiskey and beer matching. I’ll be tackling what goes best with bean-to-bar chocolate from Wilkies and Clonakilty and secondly finding matches for Birgitta Curtin’s excellent Burren Smoked Salmon.
For the chocolate we’ll be testing stout, Teeling’s whiskey and for the Salmon we’ll have Bollinger Champagne, Albarino and German Riesling. Do drop over if your are at the festival.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Chateau Mauras Sauternes, Bordeaux, 50cl — €14.99
Inexpensive decent quality Sauternes is a rare thing and although this is just a 50cl bottle, this represents very good value. Ripe apricot and honeyed aromas mixed with boiled sweets, rich and sweet on the palate with some freshness and acidity on the finish. Serve with the last of the summer strawberries.
Chateau Grand Abord 2010, Graves, Bordeaux — €12.99
The Graves region is just south of the city of Bordeaux and often a source of good value, particularly in good years like 2010, as it is overshadowed by the more prestigious Pessac-Leognan (which broke away from the region in 1987). This has lots of ripe prunes and black fruit aromas, soft generous ripe flavours and lingering chewy blackcurrants.
Chateau Maugresin de Clotte 2010, Castillon, Bordeaux — €11.99
From one of the many vineyards on the right bank near St Emillon (known as satellites) this was one of my highest marked wines under €20 at the Lidl tasting. Classic Bordeaux aromas of pencil shavings, plums and blackcurrants, solid juicy Merlot flavours, chewy crunchy lingering fruit.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Chateau Gloria 2010 Cru Bourgeois, St Julien, Bordeaux — €39.99
While more than you would expect to pay in Lidl, this is €15-€20 cheaper than is usual. While not a Cru Classé, Gloria sells for the same price, thanks to its consistency, complexity and ageing potential. Cedar and blackcurrant scented, densely layered chocolate-tinged black fruits — decant if drinking now or lay down for 10-30 years.
Weingut Burg Ravensburg Riesling Trocken, Baden — €16.75
Stockist: 1601, The Malthouse, Karwigs www.karwigwines.ie
From an ancient estate in Baden, this is a great aperitif or food wine and one of my favourite matches for Burren Smokehouse Smoked Salmon. Sweet yellow apple aromas with citrus and bright green apple, mineral and fresh tasting with complex and lingering pear and grapefruit flavours — also goes well with shellfish, fresh mackerel and pork dishes.
Mas Amiel Maury, Roussillon, France, 375ml — €20.99
Stockist: JJ O’Driscolls, Stuffed Olive Bandon, Cashel Wine, Bubble Brothers, www.bubblebrothers.com
This is one of the wines I will be matching with Shana Wilkies bean-to-bar chocolate at Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic. A delicious fortified Grenache-based wine with aromas and flavours of black fruits, raisins and plums and a supple rich mouth feel. A French Classic.
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