Wines to try that are new to the country

This week’s column is all about the new as none of the wines below are in the country more than a few weeks. There are two from Lidl and four Spanish wines from Wines Direct who have a knack of ferreting out interesting wines.

The most unusual of the Spanish wines is probably Jimenez Landi Bajondillo which is made with an heirloom version of Garnacha known as Hairy Garnacha or Garnacha Peluda. These are old vines but the estate itself is a new project and only dates from 2004. The small region of Méntrida is also new to the page and is famous for its Garnacha, a grape which is more commonly found in Catalonia than in Castile-La Mancha in central Spain.

Speaking of Catalonia one of the world’s most renowned Garnacha sites is Priorat as you probably know but good Priorat is never cheap with top wines selling for up to €100. Nearby Montsant can offer better value and similar flavours (if occasionally a little less refined), and while I admit that at €20 the Bancal del Bosc below isn’t exactly cheap, is a very fair price for the quality.

I have been asked a few times to mention the wines of Croatia but the reason I haven’t is simply because there are so few available here. The Croatian wine I have tried has often been expensive (even if you are in Croatia) but Lidl has recently brought two on board that I’m happy to recommend.

The one thing you may know about Croatia is that it is the birthplace of Tribidrag — better known as Zinfandel in California and Primitivo in Italy. Plavic Mali was thought to be the same grape but DNA analysis has shown it to be a cross between Tribidrag and Dobricic (a rare Croatian grape). If you are interested in the story about how we know all this you should look up Jancis Robinson online as she has written about it extensively.

The Plavic Mali below is a first for this column I think and I have also never mentioned Graševina which is grown throughout Eastern Europe but is often over-cropped and clumsily made. I have tasted others but this was the first worth a mention.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Plavac 2014, Dalmatia, Croatia — €8.99

Stockist: Lidl stores nationwide

Plavic Mali is closely related to Zinfandel/Primitivo and is Croatia’s most important red grape variety. This has bright red fruit aromas and a good hit of cherry and red plum fruit on the palate. In character this is a little closer to Primitivo than a Californian Zinfandel and is well worth its price.

Graševina 2016, Slavonija, Croatia — €8.99

Stockist: Lidl stores nationwide

Also known as Laski Rizling this much maligned grape can be quite tasty in the right hands. Aromas of bright pear and limes, fruity and fresh with decent acidity and a good hit of under-ripe pear on the finish. This would work with food in a similar way to a Loire Sauvignon — perhaps with grilled fish or a goats cheese salad.

Pedral Blanco 2015, Valdeorras, Spain — €12.75

Stockists: Wines Direct Mullingar and Arnotts Dublin, winesdirect.ie

Valdeorras is a small region in eastern Galicia on the banks of the River Sil. Godello is the main white grape although here it is blended with Palomino Fino. This new wine from Wines Direct is from a small producer and has light fresh pear and apple aromas, clean and fruity — suitable for a light lunch.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Bancal del Bosc 2015, Montsant, Spain — €19.25  

Stockists: Wines Direct Mulingar and Arnotts Dublin, winesdirect.ie

A new wine to Wines Direct and from well off the beaten track in a remote region of Catalonia. Fruity with a cherry pie aroma, initially elegant and light-textured on the palate but with grip on the middle palate and some fine chewy darker fruits coming through on the finish. A good example of what this region can do.

Montelaguna Roble, Ribera del Duero, Spain — €18   

Stockists: Wines Direct Mulingar and Arnotts Dublin, winesdirect.ie

From one of the higher vineyards in Ribera near the town of Pesquera. Due to their elevation the estate is often forced to pick late in October (and risk frost damage). American oak noticeable on first sniff then dark berry fruits come through — fresh and fruity on the palate but with grip and some seriousness. Will show best with a chargrilled steak.

Jiménez-Landi Bajondillo, Méntrida, Spain — €16.25

Stockists: Wines Direct Mulingar and Arnotts Dublin, winesdirect.ie

From a vineyard around 600m above sea level near Toleda in central Spain. This is mainly garnacha with some cabernet and syrah and grown on sandy soils with a granite base. Dark, earthy black and red fruit aromas with tar, mint and lively bramble fruits on the palate with a hint of chocolate on the finish.



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