Vistamar Chardonnay Chile

TASTING and assessing wine is by no means an exact science.

The writer Auberon Waugh was once asked if he had ever mistaken Bordeaux for Burgundy — “Not since lunch” was his reply and I know exactly what he meant.

There are many things that influence the way we taste wine from the food we are eating to the mood we are in, and the same wine can taste quite different even at different times of the day. Having said that, blind tasting a wine is by far the best way to assess its quality and whether it is to your taste and I recommend you try it occasionally with a selection of your favourite wines as even if you guess completely wrong I guarantee you will learn something (if only to be a bit more humble!).

Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh published a study a while back which showed that the mood evoked by background music could also influence the taste of wine and that, for example, a powerful heavy sounding music (say ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana) could make a cabernet sauvignon based wine taste more powerful and rich. Similar tests in a supermarket a few years back showed that playing French music can lead to increases in the sale of French wine.

I tasted the wines for this week’s column with different types of music and while none of the music (whether classical, jazz or rock) made me like or dislike a wine more, the mood created by the different music did indeed seem to enhance or detract from some of the characteristics already present in the wines.

The Twelve Hotel in Barna in Galway will be testing the music and wine theory with a specially organised tasting as part of their Indie Wine Weekend on Jun 21-22; email:

Some of the wine selections this week also have a Galway connection as I am a big fan of Grape Circus wines imported by Enrico Fantasia for Sheridans.

Best value under €10

Vistamar Chardonnay Chile — €9.99

Stockists: Vineyard Galway, O’Donovans, World Wide Wines, Waterford, Jus de Vine, Portmarnock

I have mentioned Vistamar wines made by Irene Paiva before but not the Chardonnay. These also have a Galway- based importer — Frank Kinneen of the Vineyard. Pale yellow colour with ripe tropical fruit aromas and a touch of oak, a nice touch of richness on the palate and a crisp finish.

Viña Maipo Syrah, Chile — €8.00

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

All the Viña Maipo wines are reduced to €8 in Dunnes this month and all are worth trying. Classic dark fruit and tar aromas, fruity and soft on the palate and with a nice bitter-sweet edge to the finish that will pair well with lamb chops or steak.

Romio Chardonnay Grillo, Sicily, IGT 2011 — €9.99

Stockists: JJ O Driscoll, Ballinlough, Matsons, Bandon, No 21, Midleton and Coburg St, Cork, Parting Glass Enniskerry, Carpenters, Carlow, Next door, Thomastown

From a hard working Co-Op in Sicily using local Grillo and not so local Chardonnay. Buttery nose with touches of peaches and tropical fruit. Light and fresh on the palate with good weight and balance, a pleasing peachy quality and dry finish.

Best value under €20

Édalo Blanco Joven, Condado de Huelva, Spain — €12.95

Stockists: Sheridans Cheesemongers Galway and Dublin, Mitchells, Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty, John B's, Listowel

Made from 100% Zalema (a grape that is new to me too) from Huelva in Andalusia in Southern Spain. Fragrant lemon zest and lemon sherbet on the nose with lemon and pear touches on the palate, good weight in the mouth and lively acidity.

Fattoria San Lorenzo Marche Rosso “Il Casolare” 2011 — €12.50

Stockists: Sheridans Cheesemongers Galway and Dublin, Mitchells, Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty, John B's, Listowel

Made with 50-50 Sangiovese and Montepulciano in a natural way using bio-dynamic growing methods. Hint of barnyard on the nose (that’s natural wine for you), but generously fruity and a delicious middle palate with a warming finish.

When We Dance Chianti 2011 — €16.75

Stockists: Sheridans Cheesemongers Galway and Dublin, Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty, John B's, Listowel

Modern style Chianti from on an old Tuscan estate recently restored by rock star Sting and his wife. Hint of caramel and cherries on the nose, ripe and soft with meaty fleshy fruit and some good length.


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