Wine: Pleno Tempranillo, €9.99

THE Government’s proposal to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol following the recent budget increases will probably mean an end to the €5 bottle of wine in the supermarket.

The prediction is that the minimum price for wine will likely be around €7, but it is impossible to be sure at this stage.

Of course, this will have little effect on the supermarkets who want to sell below cost to bring extra footfall. I suspect the larger supermarkets may even be pleased as it will mean they can compete better with the German discounters.

The local off licence and independent importer will be under huge strain and minimum pricing will do nothing to stop the loss of jobs in the independent sector.

The one thing your local off licence can offer is a selection of wines different to those found in the multiples. This month you will find some new wines in your local offy as every year the National Off Licence Association (NOffLA) asks importers to submit a selection of wines in different price categories for their annual wine show. NOffLA represents over 300 independent off licences so importers are willing to give good discounts on the wines that do well in the competition.

An expert panel whittled down the hundreds of wines submitted to the top three and myself and master of wine Jane Boyce adjudicated on the gold medal winners. All the wines were tasted blind and we were in agreement on every winner.

I was pleased to discover on my re-tasting of the wines this week that no duds had hoodwinked us. I will include some of the other winners in the weeks to come, but if you are curious, drop into your local off licence and pick up the Gold Star Winners brochure.

¦ For the diary: Kellys Rosslare Wine Appreciation Week runs from Nov 3 with tastings of Bordeaux and Port and Puligny Montrachet from Francois Carillon’s family estate. — Tel: 053-9132222,

Contact Leslie Williams at


Pleno Tempranillo, Navarre, Spain 2012 — €9.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off Licences nationwide — eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen

This was the clear winner in the old-world category under €10, although all three were worthy entries. At pre-budget 2012 and 2013 prices this would be just €7.99, but punches far above its weight. Sweet stewed fruits on the nose with classic Tempranillo flavours of plums and tobacco with a light herbal note and fine concentration and elegance.

Verum Roble Vinho de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain 2010 — €14.95

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off Licences nationwide — eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo from the plains of La Mancha. Rich smoky aromas with concentrated blackberries and prunes. On the palate the wine is structured but elegant with lingering sweet dark spicy fruits. Despite being 14.5% I found this balanced and very drinkable.

Alpha Zeta Chardonnay, Veneto Italy 2012 — €14.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off Licences nationwide — eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen

Surprise White Wine of the Year winner was this Chardonnay from the Veneto, home of Amarone and Valpolicella. . Ripe, slightly toasted (oak) aromas with melon and lemon curd. Full bodied and concentrated on the palate, but with a lingering lemon zest zing.


Trimbach Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France 2010 — €16.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off Licences nation -wide — eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen

I was pleased to see an Alsace wine make the list as the region deserves any publicity it can get given that the Germanic look puts people off one of Europe’s great white wine regions. Apples and pears on the nose with mineral, stony touches. Nice concentration on the palate with lingering sweet apple flavours and clean acidity.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc — €15.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off Licences nationwide — eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen

This Sauvignon Blanc had no asparagus flavours which I have come to dislike intensely, but had lovely concentrated gooseberries and lime essence on the nose, fine acidity and balance on the palate and a pine needle kick on the finish.

Leone de Castris Salice Salentino Reserva 2009, Italy — €19.99

Stockists: NOffLA Independent Off Licences nationwide — eg O’Donovans, Galvins, Ardkeen

Voted Red Wine of the Year, this is from the Salento peninsula in the heel of Italy. Made from the local grapes Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, this has very typical southern Italian aromas of bitter cherries, raisins and spice. On the palate you get an immediate hit of sweet cherries with elegant mouth-feel and structure and lovely balanced flavours.


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