AS YOU may have noticed in recent weeks the autumn seems to be French Wine Sale time in Irish supermarkets.
Superquinn started this trend around 20 years ago, partly thanks to their former links with the Casino supermarket chain in France who hold a huge Fete des Vins around this time (as do all the supermarkets in France).
I have often visited French supermarkets during their wine fairs, but despite the huge range I have generally been disappointed with the overall quality; although this is the best place to pick up bargain Cru Classé Bordeaux.
Besides famous names I would caution buying anything in a French supermarket unless you know the wine or have tasted a sample. Competition in Irish supermarkets is such that few risks are taken and hundreds of wines are tasted before the final decision is made on what to import.
Richard Moriarty of Superquinn reckons he tasted over 2,000 samples before he chose the new 14 wines for their range. Hopefully some of the more unusual wines will make it through the merger with SuperValu early in 2014.
What I really liked about their new wines is that they offer new flavours and taste experiences. Irish consumers who currently only drink Sauvignon Blanc will find similar flavour profiles in grapes such as Bourboulenc and Picpoul.
The old favourites are still there, including Chat-en-Oeuf for €9, Chateau Sissan Bordeaux for €13 and a very drinkable Crément de Loire sparkler for €12.
Cases wine warehouse in Galway have begun a French wine sale with good reductions, such as the Dom. des Anges range at just over a tenner (usually €15) and Ch. Mouton Rothschild 1989 at €385, down from €475. www.Cases.ie
Another Francophile is wine importer (and Craigies cider producer) Simon Tyrrell who has just launched his own
So go on, go explore France, you won’t be disappointed.
BEST VALUE UNDER €10
Fer Servadou Pure, Vin de France — €10 (was €15.99)
From Chateau de Brau in the Aude and made with the highly obscure Fer Servadou grape which I have only found in the Marcillac AOC in Aveyron before now. Intensely bright and juicy with ripe fruit and a nice weight with some nice structural touches, making it a good match for a steak sandwich perhaps.
Dom de Simonet Bourboulenc — €10 (was €14.99)
Bourboulenc is one of the white grapes allowed in (both red and white) Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes-du-Rhone and features in two wines in Superquinn’s sale (the other is lemon-fresh Ch. d’Anglès La Clape). This has aromas of almonds and lemon peel with some herbal touches and a chalky mineral finish.
La Croisade Réserve Pinot Noir, Pays d’Oc- €10 (was €15.99)
Accessible Pinot Noir is everywhere these days and you need to get on the bandwagon. This is the more fruit driven of the two Pinot Noir wines in the sale (the other is the red-currant and smoky-tasting Puy de Dome from the Auvergne). Ripe red fruits with weight and balance in a very drinkable style.
BEST VALUE UNDER €20
Les Deux Cols Cuvée d’Alizé 2012, Cotes du Rhone — €13.99-14.50
Stockists: 65 Wine Glasthule, Wicklow Arms Cheers, Drink Store D7, www.thewinestore.ie
From a blend of 55% Grenache, 35% Syrah and a little Cinsault to lighten up the blend. Bright ripe damsons and wild berry aromas with a hint of smoke, a solid juicy palate and some lingering cherry flavours. A well made wine in a very drinkable style. Try with some char-grilled courgettes and lamb chops.
Chateau d’Anglès La Clape, Pays d’Oc — €11 (was €15.99)
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre (the holy trinity of grapes in this part of the world) and made by Eric Fabre who was once technical director at Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux. Aromas of brambles and perhaps a touch of pepper, soft fruity palate with touches of liquorice and blackcurrant and lots of elegance and balance.
Chateau Vincens Origine Cahors 2009 — €14.50-15.50
Stockists: No. 21 Coburg Street and Midleton, McHughs, Sweeneys, Drinkstore D7
Another little seen French wine from south-west France. Cahors is the birthplace of Malbec and has been rather eclipsed by Argentina in recent years. This is a rich dark red with aromas of smoke and plums and flavours to match. Best drunk with a beef stew or braised shoulder of lamb.
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