Wine: Irish wine drinkers are too polite

Irish wine drinkers are far too polite. I doubt any other consumer sector in any other country would take the same level of abuse from their government so placidly.

Together, us wine drinkers contributed €635m to the exchequer last year — a third of the tax take on alcohol — yet wine represents only a little over a quarter of alcohol consumption.

We drink a modest 16.6 litres of wine per capita (compared to 55 in Portugal and 53 in France) yet wine is taxed higher in Ireland than in any other EU country.

Since 2012 there has been a 62% increase in excise on wine (and this does not include the 23% Vat added on top). The excise on 1,000 cases of wine is now €38,000 — an increase of almost €15,000 since 2012.

There are 1,100 people employed directly by Irish wine distributors and importers, and thousands more in our 13,000 pubs, restaurants, and independent off-licences. The supermarket and multiple sector have continued to be profitable since the excise hikes because they can offset the increases. Independent off-licences only sell wine, beer, and spirits, and have to do so responsibly or risk closure.

There have already been many jobs lost in off-licences; if excise is not reduced there will be many more lost and closed. Do we really want a situation where the supermarket is the only option?

Selections, right, are from two family-owned companies — Molloys Liquor Stores in Dublin employs more than 100 people in their shops and Mackenway is a family-owned company with almost all members involved. Both are exactly the kind of business under threat from the Government’s punitive taxes on wine.

Diary: September 18, Cork Culture Night: L’ Atitude 51 is retracing the footprints of Cork’s Wine Geese Families, Buildings etc. Meet at L’Atitude at 4.15pm

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Cintila Red, Lisboa, Portugal — €9.99-10.99

Stockists: JJ O’Drisocolls Ballinlough, 1601 Kinsale, Vintry Rathgar 

The Lisboa region used to be known as Estramadura and is just to the north of the Alentejo. Made from the Castelao grape, this has classic bright red fruit aromas and provides simple fruity pleasure at a good price. Best served a little cool to bring out the fruit.

Butterfly Tree Chenin Blanc South Africa — €10 (2 for €16)

Stockist: Molloys

Chenin is at its best in the Loire Valley (Vouvray, Saumur) but South African Chenin has come on a lot and this is a good example of the value it can represent. Aromas of straw and lemon, clean fresh apple and grapefruit, crisp acidity on the finish. The Pinotage in the range is soft and fruity with (thankfully) no paint character.

Croix de Bézard Picpoul de Pinet 2014, Languedoc, France — €11.95

Stockist: Molloys

If you haven’t discovered Picpoul de Pinet you are behind the times. This good example from a respected co-op has intriguing pear, melon and lime aromas. Those fruits do feature on the palate at first but as usual with Picpoul the acidity kicks in and the finish is more lime, lemon and mineral focused. A bargain given the quality.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Wine: Irish wine drinkers are too polite

Mas de Mas Chardonnay Viognier Pays d’Oc IGP – €15.95

Stockist: Molloys www.molloys.ie

This is another nice find by Molloys. A blend of 60% chardonnay to 40% viognier, the Chardonnay finishes its fermentation in oak where it ages for four months. Vanilla, spice and tropical touches on the nose, rich on the palate with a citrus and ripe pineapple character. Good clean fresh finish.

Petit Fumé Pouilly Fumé, Loire Valley, France - €19.99

Stockists: JJ O’Drisocolls Ballinlough, 1601 Kinsale, Vintry Rathgar, Independents. 

Mention Sauvignon Blanc and everyone thinks of New Zealand but for a more subtle (and often more food-friendly approach) to the grape you need to look to Sancerre and its neighbour Pouilly Fumé. This is one of the more attractive and better value versions around – mineral and fresh with soft floral and apple aromas.

Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva 2010 - €19.99-€20.99

Stockists: O’Donovans, JJ O’Drisocoll, 1601, O’Briens

The last time I mentioned this wine it was the excellent 2005 vintage but 2010 was arguably just as good. This is packed with rich red and black fruit flavours and spicy overtones, elegant and balanced and perfect for a piece of rare steak or some mountain lamb.


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