Wine with Blake Creedon

YOU have to pinch yourself to recall how recently it was that we didn’t have instant connection.

And I’m not only talking about social networks such as Google+ and Twitter: I remain thoroughly impressed by the far more basic ability to search online, and to browse for information.

Because, in theory, the net should be revolutionising wine. The ease of access to information should be helping us find bottles, styles and wineries we’re likely to enjoy — and helping those wines find us. (You could envision it as the vinous equivalent of online dating. Or Friends Reunited, when what you’re seeking out is a wine you’ve enjoyed in the past.)

The most obvious way the net has revolutionised wine is via online shops. I’ve put a revised guide to online wine shopping on my blog (blakecreedon.wordpress.com) where you’ll also find tips about what to look for in an online store, plus a list of the most prominent Irish wine shops (the factual bit) plus my comments (the opinion).

One site, www.searsons.com is different to wine shops because Searsons are importers and wholesalers rather than retailers. So instead of a click-to-buy, they direct you to a national map of shops stocking their wines.

Thus supporting those shops, and providing invaluable info to us. Everyone’s a winner.

The thought struck me when looking up Carry-Out (www.carryout.ie) which has a similar, thorough and well-organised interactive map showing you its 50-plus locations.

I expect the franchise operator may add the other thing that makes Searsons’ site so useful: a list, even a partial list of, say, 20 of its exclusives to help us wine consumers orient ourselves.

Among the franchisees is the Galvins group with branches in Bandon Road, Douglas Road and Carrigaline in Cork, and Clondalkin in Dublin.

I dropped into the Bandon Road one recently and confess I was startled, in a good way, by changes happening there, not least the 200 or so Irish and international ciders and beers (see page 25).

Let’s look at some wine highlights.

BEST VALUE UNDER €10

Tagus Creek Rosé 2008 (pictured)

Galvins Carry-Out, €7.99

A lovely soft seductive gluggable raspberry rosé. Yes but what part of Australia is it from? Eh, no. Despite the presentation and name, it’s actually from Portugal’s Ribatejo, a blend of ‘international’ grapes and local Portuguese varietals — in this instance Shiraz and Touriga Nacional.

Castellani Chianti 2011

Galvins Carry-Out, €6.90

Sure, I applaud posh wine when it’s done well. But I’m far more impressed by everyday affordable competence, so hurrah for the revolution in Chianti: From being a byword for undrinkability just a few decades ago to the likes of this — a simple, bright, light-bodied herby red wine highly versatile at the dinner table, whether you’re having pizza or steak.

Il Meridiane Nero d’Avola Sicila 2010

Galvins Carry-Out, €7.99

Rule one about wine: hot climates produce only big, overpowering wines. Rule two: rule one is often wrong. Here’s an excellent example from Sicily of a wine that’s ripe and elegant - fresh, bright berries and lovely smoky overtones typical of the gorgeous black nero d’Avola grape.

BEST VALUE UNDER €20

Masi Valpolicella Bonacosta 2009

Galvins Carry-Out, €13.99

Overheard: ‘Bonacosta? Tis like a baby Amarone’. Wish I’d said that. Masi, one of the big names in Italian vino, is proud of the Amarone tradition and has been bringing aspects of it to bear on more popularly-priced wines such as red Masianco and white Campofiorin. Here the same grapes as the great Amarone in a modestly-priced succulent but dry and spicy red. Delish.

Jacques Charlet La Sarriette Saint-Joseph 2010

Galvins Carry-Out, €18.99

Yes, it may be surprising that an off-licence on Cork’s Barrack Street offers a choice of wines from Saint-Joseph — one of the star appellations of the Rhône. Although sharing its savoury tartness, this particular bottle is less generous than its huggable counterpart from Ogier below.

Ogier et Fils Duc de Caderousse Saint-Joseph 2007

Galvins Carry-Out, €18.99

A little surprisingly, this doesn’t contain even a dollop of white grapes, despite the common practice around much of the Rhône. Yet you’d never think it 100% shiraz/syrah. A lovely translucent ruby colour, its soft plum berries laced with the scent of herbs, its tannins attended by spicy oak. Easy-going but accomplished, and begging to be paired with roast lamb.


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