My selections this week are from the Lidl French wine sale plus some new Alsace wines from Karwigs in Carrigaline, Co Cork — Chateau d’Orschwihr.
The wines are not long in stock so have not yet made their way to many other outlets yet, so you may have to head out to their own (charming) shop.
Alsace has long been a favourite region of mine but I know it is difficult for many consumers to get their head around, especially anyone with memories of inexpensive German wine in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Alsace bottles look German and the grape varieties are more associated with Germany but this is very much a French wine region and the wines are usually dry.
The Vosges Mountains protect the region and create a microclimate perfect for growing grapes like Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot (blanc, gris and noir).
Alsace is not a region I recommend you buy in bulk in French supermarkets without tasting the wine as it can be rather light and dull, but from a good producer they can be taut and thrilling.
The first mention of Château d’Orschwihr is in the 16th century and relates to the sale of a barrel of wine to the Murbach Abbey but grapes have been grown on their patch of land since Roman times.
The current owners, the Hartmann family, have been running the estate since the 1950s and have around 25 hectares under vine.
I review their Riesling and Gewurz below but their Pinot Blanc and Gris are also well made.
Lidl have a French wine sale on at the moment with a selection of around 20 wines from well known regions beyond their standard range.
The sale began earlier this week and the wines will be available until stocks run out.
I recommend a few of the wines that showed best at the press tasting below.
Some wines I didn’t have room for include an intriguing demi-sec (or Moelleux) Alsace Pinot Gris which will work well with duck or goose liver paté or a ripe Milleens or Munster cheese.
Puech Morny Gigondas (€14.99) had good plum and black fruits while the Cave des Charmilles Moulin-à-Vent (€11.99) had some light cherry fruit and the Bordeaux wines from 2014 and 2015 were all eminently drinkable.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Alsace Riesling AOP 2015, France — €9.99
There are two good Alsace Rieslings in the Lidl sale including a richly- fruited Grand Cru Engelberg one from JP Muller at €15 and this lighter version for a bargain tenner. I liked the straightforward freshness of this which is packed with apple aromas and has a fine tense, clean finish.
Chéreau Carré Muscade Sévre-et-Maine Réserve Numérotee, Loire — €9.99
Muscadet is going through a bit of a revival and quality has improved across the board — the sub-region of Sévre-et-Maine being the most reliable. I liked this zingy freshness of this which even has a hint of spritz so is perfect as an aperitif. Muscadet and fresh oysters are a joyous combination but also try with Mussles or grilled prawns.
Chateau Tour Negrier Médoc AOP, Bordeaux, France — €11.99
There are a few good value Bordeaux wines in the sale including this decent Médoc from 2014 (the first good vintage since 2010). Solid ripe cedar tinged plum and blackcurrant fruit, fruity and fresh with reasonably supple tannins. Also try the Chateau Chaigneau Lalande-de-Pomerol.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Chateau d’Orschwihr Gewurztraminer 2013, Alsace, France — €21.95
Stockists: Karwigs Carrigaline, karwigwines.ie, JJ O’Driscolls, Independents.
Alsace Gewurztraminer, we now know, is actually genetically the same as Savignan from the Jura but you would never believe it if you tasted the wines side by side. This is ripe and aromatic with rose petals and lychees and a mouth-filling fruity exuberance yet with a dry finish.
Chateau d’Orschwihr Riesling Bollenberg 2015, Alsace, France — €19.49
Stockists: Karwigs Carrigaline www.karwigwines.ie JJ O’Driscolls, Independents.
The estate’s Riesling vines average over 50 years old and are grown on a limestone soil. This has a bright apple and pear character with a distinct confit pear ripeness on the middle palate and a dry clean finish and not even a hint of petrol.
Chateau l’Ange de Ripeau Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2014, France — €16.99
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru is the rough equivalent of Cru Bourgeois in the Médoc across the Gironde estuary and is not to be equated with wines of Grand Cru Classé status. This has lots of soft dark fruits with hints of chocolate and plum — perhaps decant this to open it up a bit further and serve with steak.
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