Wine: Barton & Guestier Cotes-du-Rhone




IT ALL comes back to France. That country’s wine sales may have fallen dramatically in recent years, but it is still the benchmark producer for most grape varieties and wine styles.

Certainly Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Casablanca Valley in Chile can be excellent but at some point you are going to want to try Burgundy. The same is true of Vouvray for Chenin Blanc, Chablis for Chardonnay and Bordeaux for Cabernet-Merlot blends.

Barton & Guestier have recently introduced what they call their Passeport range of wines featuring examples from all the great wine regions of France from Chablis to Chateauneuf-du-Pape to Sauternes.

There are 16 wines in the range and you can spend from €12 for the basic Bordeaux, up to €33 for the Margaux. The excellent Sauternes is just €25 (made in part from wines de-classified by Chateau d’Yquem rumour has it!).

The French rarely drink wine without food so a recipe booklet has also been launched to tie in with the range. The B&G Culinary Passeport should be available at the points of sale mentioned below or can be found online at www.barton-guestier.com. The booklet looks like an EU passport and has classic French recipes to match the wines.

If food and wine matching is of interest B&G have also introduced a range of pairing wines with the food matches on the label. Bordeaux red is labelled Chops & Burgers and Bordeaux white is labelled Salmon & Trout and Muscadet has Lobster & Shrimp.

Not all the wines mentioned in the recommendations below are available in every store as the range is too large. All the wines work well in their price range. I also recommend a Saumur from another producer that I like.

* For the Diary: Curious Wines Christmas Wine Fair — today Sat, Nov 23, Metropole Hotel Cork, 2-6pm — €15.

* Cloudy Bay Wine Dinner & Tasting, Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford — Tues, Dec 3; €75 per person, Contact: 024-87800

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Barton & Guestier Cotes-du-Rhone, France — €12.99-€1399

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, O’Donovans, Fields Skibereen, Dunnes Stores,

Generally a blend of Grenache and Syrah (this is 50-50) and sometimes with Mourvedre, Carignan and other varieties. This has a classic spicy, fruity character with fragrant black fruit, soft tannins and a hint of cinnamon. Try with spicy chicken dishes.

Barton & Guestier Beaujolais Villages, France — €13.99-€14.99

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, O’Donovans, Fields Skibereen, Dunnes Stores,

Fleurie is the most famous wine from the Beaujolais region. This B-Villages has classic bright cherry fruit aromas and flavours and is soft and rich with a little bit of structure for balance. Beaujolais works with steak and other meats or try a cheese tart as suggested by B&G.

Saumur Réserve des Vignerons 2012, Loire, France — €13.99

Stockists: Ardkeen Stores Waterford, 1601 Kinsale, The Vintry, Rathgar, Baggot Street Wines, Martins Fairview, Mortons Ranelagh.

. Savennieres and Vouvray & are famous names but this Saumur from the Co-Op in St Cyr-en-Bourg is excellent and better value. Fruity lemon drop aromas, soft on the palate followed by dry lemon curd and floral flavours and a bone dry finish.

BEST VALUE UNDER €25

Barton & Guestier Vouvray, Loire, France — €13.99-€14.99

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, O’Donovans, Fields Skibereen, Dunnes Stores

Vouvray wines can be dry, off-dry, sweet or sparkling and are rarely dull. The B&G version is very typical with straw and lemons on the nose with a hint of TCP, sweetness on first taste with a fruity palate and a fine dry finish. Perfect for paté or perhaps Pear & Roquefort Tart as recommended by B&G.

Barton & Guestier Saint-Emilion 2010, France — €17.99-€18.99

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, O’Donovans, Fields Skibereen, Dunnes Stores,

From one of the great recent vintages for the aint-Emilion region this has plums, violets and cassis and solid structured ripe fruit flavours and good length. This is classic and typical and good value given the quality. B&G recommend chicken breast stuffed with foie gras.

Barton & Guestier Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy, France — €20.99-€21.99

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, O’Donovans, Fields Skibereen, Dunnes Stores,

Pouilly Fuissé is the most famous village in the Macon in the most southerly (and warmest) sub-region of Burgundy. Mineral and citrus on the nose, taut and lemony with very fresh clean lingering fruity flavours with tropical fruit and almonds on the finish. B&G recommend Blanquette of Veal to match.


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