THE lights are on, the music is on the radio and the trees are up — there is no getting away from it: Christmas is imminent.
The good news is that this is one of the best value times to buy wine so if you have any spare cash, and can resist temptation, this is a good time to stock up.
Special offers are everywhere and in the coming weeks I will try to point you towards some of the best wines in the different price ranges.
Don’t be dazzled by the big signs in the supermarkets as they may have some of the best prices but not necessarily the best wines for the price range. A spend of a euro or two more may make all the difference in quality terms. Local wine shops need our business more than ever given the job-killing budget increases this year, so please try to spread your wine-spend this Christmas.
Speaking of local businesses, don’t forget the craft brewers and distilleries this year, many of whom have seasonal releases. I was intrigued to taste Teelings stunning Sauternes cask limited edition whiskey which, although it costs €150, is cheaper than many a vintage Sauternes and should last a lot longer.
Many of the nascent distillers are already producing poitín (eg, Glendalough and Teelings) and white spirits (eg, Dingle Distillery’s gin and vodka) while they wait for their whiskey to mature.
If you are thinking of giving wine as a present this year I recommend going for the unusual rather than the familiar to ensure your present stands out. For example, find out what your loved one likes and ask for advice in your local shop for something similar in style but less common eg, Gruner Veltliner instead of Pinot Grigio.
Most of the wines below are on special offer for Christmas and as I have rather neglected Australia in recent months I include a few. The Australian dollar is strong against the euro but I think the wines below represent good value.
Best Value under €10
Circa 1788 Shiraz Viognier, South East Australia — €11.49
Red Nose Wines Clonmel, Curious Wines Cork – www.curiouswines.ie,
This costs just €9.99 if you buy more than a few bottles in Curious Wines Warehouse just off the Kinsale Road Roundabout. The 1788 in the title is a reference to the first vines planted in the country. Raspberries and blackberries on the nose with a pleasing light touch on the palate and some decent length for the price. A good party wine.
Bleasdale Langhorne Crossing White 2012 — €10.99
Curious Wines Cork – www.curiouswines.ie, Red Nose Wines Clonmel,
A blend of Verdelho (of Madeira fame) and Sauvignon Blanc from south of Adelaide. Limes, peaches and tropical fruit touches with a refreshing clean palate. Good light style with just 12% alcohol so ideal for light suppers and serving on its own to guests.
Marqués de Almonacid 2010, Cariñena, Spain — €9.20 (was €13.95)
Stockist – Dunnes
I recommended the previous vintage of this wine from Northern Spain earlier in the year and I’m pleased to see that the 2010 has the same ripe plum and tobacco flavours but with a little more spice and concentration and a lot of extra length. Perfect with some spicy chorizo based dishes or perhaps with a curry.
Best Value under €20
Heartland Shiraz 2010, Langhorne Creek, South Australia — €19.99
Stockists: O’Donovans, Galvins, Independent Off-licences Nationwide
Langhorne Creek specialises in dense aromatic red wines. Ben Glaetzer’s Heartland Shiraz is typical with solid ripe black fruit aromas and juicy structured plum and blackcurrants on the palate with touches of mint and anise. This will taste great with any winter stew or game dish.
Veuve Monsigny Brut (Philzot et Fils) Champagne — €19.99
Aldi have a few well-priced Champagnes this year with the best being Janisson at €26.99. This entry level Champers, however, does the job admirably and has a fine biscuity aroma with lemon and citrus touches, good body and elegance and decent length. Perfect with some scrambled eggs and smoked salmon over the holidays.
Niepoort Senior Tawny — €24.95-€25.95
Stockists: Curious Wines Cork, Red Nose Wines Clonmel, Wicklow Wine Co, www.wineshop.ie, Dublin: Corkscrew, Martins, McHughs, Redmonds, Listons, Jus de Vine
Celebrate the end of Movember and replace your moustache with one of the cut-out fake moustaches on the box. Niepoort are tawny specialists and this 7-year version has light damson and dried fruit aromas and flavours with lovely balance. Also available by the glass in Café Paradiso and the Black Pig Kinsale.
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