New Year Resolutions are usually tedious things such as “visit the gym more than once a week”, “pay off the Visa bill every month” etc. This week I am proposing some pleasurable resolutions which will be no hardship.
Number 1: Break your wine habits. No more Sauvignon Blanc (if that is your habitual choice), try Verdejo from Rueda in Spain, Gruner Veltliner from Austria or perhaps a bottle of Arinto from Portugal. Ask in your local wine shop for a recommendation similar in flavour to what you usually buy but from a different region/country.
Number 2: Discover (or re-discover) Sherry. No wine region produces such high quality wines at such low prices (given how long they are aged and the care that goes into crafting them). Fino Sherry is a perfect match for fish and chips and other seafood and richer (dry) styles like Amontillado and Oloroso work well as an aperitif or with soup but can also match rich stews.
Number 3: Education. There are lots of wine courses and tasting evenings every month and one-off tutored wine evenings are regularly held in wine bars like L’Atitude 51 and Ely as well as in better off-licences.
Number 4: Explore. As a non-wine producing country we import wine from just about every country in the world so the selection in the average Irish wine shop is better than in almost any other European country except perhaps the UK.
To take two examples I suspect you have not tasted wines from Georgia or Greece.
Georgian wines will likely appear in Ireland this year as the EU signed a new trade agreement with the country and Greek wines are already available (try the Celtic Whiskey Shop or the excellent Gaia range from O’Briens).
With countries you are already familiar with remember that there is a wealth of weird grape varieties in Europe — any guesses where these are from: Mencia, Bobal, Fer Servadou, Mauzac and Antao Vaz?
My selections this week are designed to test your palates — trust me it will be pleasurable...
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc, Pays d’Oc 2012, France — €12.99
Stockists: Karwig Wines Carrigaline
An blend of Grenache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac and others. Mauzac is always interesting (e.g. in Blanquette de Limoux and Gaillac). Lemon peel and dried apples and fine soft flavours perfect for a creamy pasta dish. Karwigs is always worth a visit as they have a range of wines to be found nowhere else including many great German wines.
Saumur Réserve des Vignerons 2012, Loire, France — €13.99
Stockists: Ardkeen Stores Waterford, 1601 Kinsale, The Vintry, Rathgar, Baggot Street Wines, Martins Fairview
Chenin Blanc is the classic grape of sweet Vouvray, Coteaux du Layon and Bonnezeaux but also makes fine dry whites with good acidity and an ability to age. This version from the Co-Op in St Cyr-en-Bourg has fruity lemon drop aromas.
Prova Régia Arinto 2013, Lisboa/Alentejo, Portugal — €13.99
Stockists: O’Donovans, O’Briens, La Touche Greystones, Redmonds Ranelagh, Deveneys Dundrum
This is from just north of the Alentejo near Lisbon from a grape that deserves to be better known thanks to its combination of pear, peach and apricot and decent acidity for balance. One of Ireland’s best selling Portuguese wines from a region that rarely disappoints.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Chateau Vincens Origine Cahors 2009 — €15.99-€16.99
Stockists: No. 21 Coburg Street and Midleton, McHughs, Sweeneys, Drinkstore D7
Cahors is the birthplace of Malbec although here it is called Cot. Argentina in recent years has rather stolen their crown but good Cahors can be just as interesting with darker, earthier flavours. Rich dark colour with aromas of smoke and plums and flavours to match. Try with a winter stew.
Cantamerli Rosso, Monferrato, Piedmont Italy — €16.99
Stockists: Vintry Rathgar, McCabes, Jus de Vine, Wine Centre Kilkenny, Kennedys Aughrim, Next Door Kilrush, Ennis and Kilkee.
This is a wine I drink at least once a month. A blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon this is a rich fruit-driven wine with lots of depth and character. Flavours of red and black fruits – especially plums – and a warming spicy finish.
Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2011, Casablanca, Chile — €25.99
Stockists: Bradleys, JJ O’Driscolls, 64 wines, Amber Fermoy, O’Briens, The Corkscrew,
Cono Sur choose their best 20 barrels of Casablanca Pinot for this blend and it is always weighty and dense with a combination of red fruits, spice, and touches of leather. This would be perfect for any game birds that are still around (season ends later this month).
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