Wine: Craft brewers only people happy with Budget 2016

The only people that seem to be happy with Budget 2016 are the craft brewers. 

Craft cider producers were ignored and remain discriminated against by this Government, despite the fact that there is an untapped export market waiting to be filled and the only thing they import for their product is the bottles.

No duty reductions were given thus guaranteeing that more independent family run off-licences and wine importers will close this year and the supermarkets will increase their share. Do Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin have some reason they want to reduce the number of small businesses in Ireland?

Our rapidly growing distilling industry was also ignored — think about it, we invented whiskey and yet we are one of the world’s most expensive places to buy and distil it. Right now our distillers are waiting in genuine fear of their water bills.

I learned that we now have 36 distilleries in Ireland at the third Irish Whiskey Awards run as always by the Celtic Whiskey Shop and held this year in the impressive new Teelings Distillery.

Midleton’s Redbreast 21 Year Old won Whiskey of the Year and the Pot Still Whiskey trophy, Tullamore Dew won best blended whiskey, Connemara won best single malt and Teelings won best poitín. The gin winner was Thin Gin. Dingle won the vodka trophy and whiskey bar of the year went to the great Dick Macks in Dingle.

My wine picks, right, are taken from the The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) Gold Medal winners list.

For The Diary

Wine dinner with John Wilson, Monday, October 26, Ballymaloe House. Wines on the night will include a selection from the Wilson on Wine 2016 book. Cost €85

Spit Wine Fair - 6.30-9.30pm - Thursday, October 29, Smock Alley, Dublin. Featuring wines from five excellent independent importers — Vinostito, Grape Circus, Nomad, WineMason and Tyrrell & Co. Tickets €25, visit www.spit.ie

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Lab, Lisboa Region, Portugal — €9.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off-Licences Nationwide – e.g. O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen, Worldwide Wines, Next Door Raheen, Vintry, McHughs, Baggot St. Wines

Lisboa is just to the north of the Alentejo and makes similar wines using mainly native Portuguese varieties. This is a blend of Castelao, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Syrah and Touriga Nacional and won us over thanks to its rich red and black fruits.

Portuga, Lisboa Region, Portugal — €9.99

Stockists: as above

A blend of Arinto, Fernao Pires and Sauvignon Blanc, the former being two of Portugal’s better white grapes from this region. This is fragrant and light but with a good crisp citrusy summer feel – try with some Asian food or as an aperitif.

In Vino Érotico, Coteaux du Libron, France - €14.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off-Licences Nationwide – e.g. O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen, Worldwide Wines, Next Door Raheen, Vintry, McHughs, Baggot Street Wines

This is a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Viognier with a fifth of the Chardonnay oak-fermented. A great name and label and a very moreish wine packed with soft spicy citrus aromas and flavours, mingled with hazelnuts, a touch of spicy vanilla, and lingering tropical touches.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Wine: Craft brewers only people happy with Budget 2016

Suavia Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy — €19.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off-Licences Nationwide

White Wine of the Year award went to this fragrant Soave, an unexpected winner given that for so many years Soave was derided in much the same way as Pinot Grigio due to the rather neutral flavour of its grape (Garganega). This, however, is richly fragrant with floral and citrus notes with lots of balancing freshness – try with a light risotto.

D’Arenberg D’Arry’s Original 2012, McLaren Vale, Australia — €19.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off-Licences Nationwide

I featured an earlier vintage of this wine around 18 months ago when the price was €24 so this is a bit of a bargain. McLaren Vale is perfect growing country for Shiraz and Grenache and this blend has been made since the 1950s by the Osborn family. This spicy darkly fruited gem is the perfect winter wine.

Ondarre Rioja Reserva 2010, Spain — €19.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off-Licences Nationwide

Red Wine of the Year award went to this Rioja which is about as traditional as you could get given its blend (Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo), and that it spends 16 months in American and French oak. This has classic vanilla and spice aromas mingled with rich plum fruit and would go particularly well with roast meats.


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