Wine: Talamonti Trebì, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2012 — €13.99

FOLLOWING on from last week’s theme of wines to match spicy food, a number of the ones recommended this week were tasted over an excellent meal in the long-established Indonesian restaurant Chameleon in Temple Bar.

While not all the dishes we tried were spicy, the exotic flavours suited the white wines of the Gascon estate Domaine du Tariquet exceptionally well.

Tariquet’s crisp fragrant “Classic” Cotes de Gascogne is one of the best selling French white wines in the world but is only available in Ireland since late 2013.

The estate was first established over a century ago and is still in the same family. Interestingly much of the family’s initial seed capital was made in the US at side shows and circuses with their performing mountain bears (captured in the Pyrenees). From 1912 until 1982, Tariquet used their entire harvest to produce Armagnac. However as sales of brandy began to decline in the 1970s they wisely began to produce fresh crisp white wines under the Vin de Pays de Cotes de Gascogne appellation. Soon their neighbours followed suit and a phenomenon was born with crisp white wines now the major export from the region.

While it is true that the classic grapes for brandy such as Ugni Blanc and Colombard are rather light and are not generally thought suitable for quality white wines, if you ferment them at low temperatures and prevent oxidation, they make excellent food wines and are also fragrant enough to drink on their own.

Tariquet is now the largest family owned estate in France in a single appellation at 900 hectares and the name is known by virtually every wine drinker in France.

Given the time of year I am recommending four wines under €15 and just two under €20 this week. As for the connection between them they are all (relatively) new to the Irish market, begin with the letter “T”, and should brighten up your January.


Talamonti Trebì, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2012 — €13.99

Stockists: Vintry Rathgar, Jus De Vine Portmarnock, La Touche Greystones, Independents

This lovely, light, fragrant wine has aromas of Galia melon, lime zest and green apples, and is crisp and refreshing with a zingy finish. Talamonti is relatively new to the Irish market and imported by Alan O’Toole.

Domaine du Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc — €13.99

Stockists: Widely available

Crisp, classic Sauvignon Blanc, with some pear and green-apple touches and good, lemony acidity. Not as pungent as the typical New Zealand version, but perhaps a better match with food, as a result. This tasted particularly good with Chameleon’s crab cakes and prawn dishes.

Domaine du Tariquet Chardonnay — €13.99

Stockists: Widely available

I know many Irish wine consumers have abandoned Chardonnay, but, don’t forget, it is the great grape of Burgundy and Champagne and no-one is making sweet buttery versions any more (not even the Australians). This has fresh lemon and pear aromas and some good weight on the palate, while remaining dry and crisp.


Talamonti ModA’, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012 — €13.99

Stockists: Vintry Rathgar, Jus De Vine Portmarnock, La Touche Greystones, Independents

Montepulciano is another much-abused grape variety, but like its (Trebbiano) sister wine, above, if you treat the grape with due respect you can get spectacular results. This has sweet, complex aromas of chocolate and baked cherries, a ripe, flavourful middle palate, and an attractive and solidly juicy finish.

The Flower and the Bee Treixadura - Ribeiro Spain — €15.99-16.99

Stockists: Baggot St. Wines, D6 Wines Harolds Cross

Treixadura is more commonly known as the Portuguese variety used in Vinho Verde, but it is also found in Galicia, in North West Spain. This has lovely, light citrus and orange-peel aromas, a crisp, weighty palate with a fine combination of elegance, structure and acidity. Another gem from Colin Egan, of Distinctive Drinks.

Domaine du Tariquet Les Premières Grives — €16.99

Stockists: Widely available

Named after the “first thrushes”, this moelleux (demi-sec) wine is best served as an aperitif or with paté, cheese or light desserts. In Gascony, this would be served with foie gras or, perhaps, with their light filo-pastry “pastis” apple tart. Made with Gros Manseng, this has aromas of baked pineapples and honey, with sweet, tropical flavours, but also balancing acidity.


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