Like many wine lovers, I squirrel bottles of wine away to see how they will age and then somehow forget about them. As part of my continuing attempts to clear out my cellar I opened up these four white wines over the weekend. Some had aged better than others.
Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2013, Yann Chave.
This wasn’t really forgotten wine; I am a fan of the Chave white wanted to see how it aged. The answer is very well. This had attractive plump peachy fruits, subtle toasted almonds held together by good acidity. Delicious. 13% abv. Imported by Tindal Wines.
Riesling Grand Cru Kitterlé 2005, Domaines Schlumberger
I has high hopes for this as I am a fan of both Schlumberger and mature Riesling. As it turned out, this bottle was good rather than great. Mature toasted nuts, a touch of pineapple, some orange peel, dominated by high acidity. Nice, but looking at tasting notes online, I suspect it would have been better five years ago. 12% abv. Imported by Tindal Wines.
A Chardonnay with an (unspecified) proportion of Ansonica (aka Inzolia). I have always enjoyed this wine, and been impressed with its ability to age. This was no exception, although possibly it might have been even better a few years ago. The 2007 at twelve years old was ripe and rounded with toasted nuts, honeyed, soft, round peach fruits and good length. I really enjoyed this. 13.5% abv. Imported by Liberty Wines.
Bourgogne Aligoté 2008, Domaine G. & J.H. Goisot
I bought of this wine, and this was the last remaining bottle. At the time it was very good, but I should have finished this off a few years ago. Light brown in colour and oxidised. This went down the sink. 12.5% abv Imported by Nomad Wines.
This week, two wines I enjoyed during a three day visit to East Cork. Along with Colm McCan of Le Caveau, I gave a talk on religion and wine (a fascinating subject) in Cloyne Cathedral. If you ever visit East Cork, take a few minutes to visit this hidden gem, a lovely church with a fascinating history. We tasted the Viré-Clessé below, as many vineyards in the region were first planted by the monks in Cluny.
The following morning, I gave a talk and tasting on Spanish wine to the students at Ballymaloe Cookery School. I thought the Camino Real stood out against some pretty serious competition.
Viré-Clessé 2016, Les Pierres Blanches, Domaine André Bonhomme
Gorgeous generous textured apple and pear fruits with a lovely crisp mineral streak, finishing dry. Lovely pure unoaked Chardonnay.
This would go nicely with chicken dishes – either roast or in a creamy tarragon sauce.
I have been a fan of the Bonhomme wines for many years; they drink well young and age very well too. In the sea of indifferent wines found in the Mâconnais, they stand out as special – and very well priced too.
Lightly aromatic with seductive perfectly ripe dark cherry fruits, a spicy savoury edge and a freshness, an elegance that draws you back for another sip. Delicious wine.
A seared breast of duck, or maybe belly of pork.
Pedro Rodríguez is one of the rising stars of Ribera Sacra, a region that has been receiving huge interest in recent years, for the amazing scenery as well as the unique wines. Made primarily from ancient Mencía vines clinging to the slate soils on vertiginous slopes sweeping down to the river, the wines can be spectacularly good.
€26 from Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie.
Every now and again I follow my heart and try to convince you to try a few unloved wines. Usually this mean Riesling and sherry. I know most of you are unlikely to pay any attention, but I am relatively content, knowing I can continue to enjoy both of these great wines at reasonable prices.
I have also suggested you try Muscadet and Beaujolais. I am not sure about Muscadet, but Beaujolais is enjoying a genuine resurgence as consumers seek out lighter wines. Beaujolais is the perfect summer wine, although I drink it all year round. It is typically low in alcohol, with juicy fresh fruits and is the perfect picnic or alfresco wine, to be consumed cool, on sunny days.
The Beaujolais region can be divided neatly into two. The southern half has inferior soils (with a few exceptions) and produces wine simply labelled Beaujolais, the most basic wine. The northern half is a mass of different granite and schist soils. Beaujolais Villages, a step up from Beaujolais, comes from one or more of 39 villages in the northern half. At the very top are 10 crus, the villages with the very best soils.
Each cru has a character and style all of its own, depending on the soil. Fleurie is said to be floral and scented, Julienas richer and more powerful. And so on. All of the wines, from Beaujolais to the very best cru, are made entirely from the Gamay grape.
All are likely to be nimble and fruit-filled, although some, such as Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent, can have a tannic structure that rewards ageing. I am enjoying my last bottles of 2008 and 2009 Moulin-à-Vent (from Domaine Vissoux, available from Terroirs, Donnybrook). While each wine may taste different, they all have a common thread that unites them.
Most of the supermarkets have a basic Beaujolais on offer. Aldi has a Beaujolais Villages for €7.99, and Marks & Spencer has one for €10.50 and a Fleurie for €13. While these are very acceptable, if you venture to the smaller single-estate wines (sadly, usually €20 or more) you will find some really great wines.
As indicated above, Beaujolais is a great warm weather wine, the kind you would love to be served sitting outside a cafe in France or in the cool of an evening at home.
It is a great match for the famous foods of the nearby city of Lyon – salade Lyonnaise with bacon, pâtés, cold meats, sausages, chicken and pork, but it will happily partner any lighter barbecued foods, including burgers and white meats.
Fleurie Tradition 2016, Domaine de la Madone 13% €20.95
A delicious, fresh, thirst-quenching wine with juicy dark-cherry fruits. Serve cool with charcuterie, salads and crusty sourdough bread. From Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, Co Dublin, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow, and Dunboyne, Co Meath, mitchellandson.com; Myles Doyle, Gorey, Co Wexford, myselectgrocer.com; Wilde & Green, Dublin 6, wildeandgreen.com
Lucien Lardy Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes 2016 12.5%, €22
Perfumed, refined strawberry fruits with freshly cut hay; good acidity and a nice succulence to the fruit. With seared salmon or tuna. From Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com; Mortons of Galway, mortonsofgalway.ie; Daly’s, Boyle, Co Roscommon; Martin’s Off-Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Coach House, Dublin 16, thecoachhouseofflicence.ie; Red Island Wine, Skerries, Co Dublin; Thomas’s of Foxrock, Co Dublin, thomasoffoxrock.ie; Grapevine, Dalkey, Co Dublin, onthegrapevine.ie
Daniel Bouland Morgon Corcelette Vieilles Vignes 2016 13.5%, €26
Elegant and refined with a seductive fragrance; combines freshness and power with concentrated dark cherry fruits and soft, fine tannins. Some garlicky Toulouse sausages with green lentils. From Cabot and Co, Westport, Co Mayo, cabotandco.com; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; No 1 Pery Square, Limerick, oneperysquare.com
Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon La Voûte St-Vincent 2017 12.5%, €27
An utterly charming wine, fragrant and fresh, with layers of elegant ripe red fruits, but with real depth and concentration too. Serve with roast or grilled chicken or chicken salads. From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; La Touche, Greystones, Co Wicklow, latouchewines4u.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie
First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 25th May, 2019
Sicily is an island of huge contrasts: ugly and chaotic at times, amazingly beautiful, enchanting and serene at others. Any downsides are offset by the warmth, friendliness and vitality of the people, the excellent food and of course, the wine.
In the past, Sicily was best known for inexpensive bulk wine that ended up being turned into cheap Marsala or vermouth. Over the last decade or so, a group of high quality producers has emerged, primarily using indigenous grapes to produce a variety of red and white wines (and sparkling too) with their own unique Sicilian character.
In many ways this is the ideal place to grow vines; Sicily gets more sun than any other part of Europe, 2,500 hours, compared with 2,000 on the mainland and 1,800 in the south of France. The constant winds keep temperatures in check, particularly on the higher mountainside slopes. Over 40 per cent of vineyards are farmed organically (the highest in the world), a figure that rises further in quality estates.
While you will find some of the international grape varieties (Syrah in particular has been around a long time), Sicily has a treasure trove of indigenous varieties, some very ancient, that are only now beginning to show their true potential. Many of these have various different clones that are almost like separate varieties
Four white grapes are worth remembering: Inzolia and Cataratto are usually used in fresh fruity wines. Grillo, once used to make Marsala, shows real potential. Decent inexpensive versions of these can be found on the shelves of your local supermarket. These days, most of the white grapes are picked early and the resulting wines are crisp, light and dry. Carricante, grown almost exclusively on the slopes on Mount Etna, can be delightful – the elegant, cool fruits and acidity, tasting more like the Loire than Mediterranean.
For red wines, Nero d’Avola grown on warmer flat sites can be rich and powerful; wines from the cooler hillside sites can be surprisingly floral and elegant. Nerello Mascalese, grown primarily on the slopes of Mount Etna, produces distinctive, very exciting wines with soft, silky Pinot-like fruit, often combined with a dry tannic finish.
Frapatto, usually grown in the southeastern corner of the island (often blended with Nero d’Avola to produce Cerasuolo di Vitoria) is fragrant and light with juicy strawberry fruits. Perricone is highly regarded by many quality producers, and is often blended with Nero d’Avola.
Sicilian food is unique and magnificent, varying region by region, clearly showing influences of the various invaders that have passed through over the centuries. Every kind of fish is eaten, high quality Mediterranean vegetables take pride of place in many recipes. Sicilian whites go perfectly with fresh grilled fish, and the reds with rich pasta dishes and roasted vegetables.
Nero d’Avola Principi di Butera IGT Sicilia 2015 14%, €16.99
Attractively aromatic, with supple rounded red cherry fruits, black olives, and a nicely rounded finish. A good flexible red to serve on its own or with an Otto Lenghinian mezze of kofte and Mediterranean salads. From Deveneys, Dublin 14; Fresh, Dublin 2 and 7, freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie; Boggans, Wexford
Sherazadze Donnafugatta 2017, Sicilia DOC, Nero d’Avola 13%, €22.99
A lovely fresh juicy mouthful of voluptuous dark fruits with hints of spice, and nicely integrated tannins on the finish. Serve cool with roast lamb accompanied by roast Mediterranean vegetables or caponata. From Sweeneys Wines, Dublin 11, sweeneyswines.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; Thomas Woodberrys, Galway, woodberrys.ie; Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com; Gibney’s, Malahide, Co Dublin, gibneys.com; Alain & Christine’s, Kenmare, Co Kerry, acwine.ie; Red Island Wine Co, Skerries, Co Dublin; wineonline.ie; the Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie
Pietradolce Etna Bianco 2018 13%, €27
An elegant, refined and delicious light white with cool green fruits, mouthwatering lemon zest, and a long dry finish. Grilled white fish with lemon and herbs. From Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; the Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Deveneys, Dublin 14
Rosso del Conte 2014, Regaleali, Tasca d’Almerita, Sicily Contea di Scalfani 14%, €53
Made from a blend of Nero d’Avola and Perricone. A magnificent wine, rich and hugely concentrated with very ripe sweet cherry fruits, held together by a fine tannic structure. Save it for your finest roast of beef or lamb. From winesofitaly.ie
Two wines from the same estate today. Les Deux Cols was founded by Anglo-Irishman Simon Tyrrell back in 2012. A specialist Rhône importer based in Ireland, he studied winemaking in Plumpton College in the U.K. He was later joined by former sommelier and wine importer Charles Derain, and later still by wine retailer Gerard Maguire. They now have four hectares of vines in one of the coolest parts of the Southern Rhône, on the boundary of the Gard and the Ardèche. Most of the vineyards are on a line of hills above the village of Saint Gervais at an altitude of 220 metres. They have a complex soil structure with a limestone base, and a topsoil that may contain loess, granite, sand, clay or loam, all within in a short distance.
I have always found the wines good, but in 2017, I think they have hit new heights. They may seem expensive for Côtes du Rhône, but I believe they offer great value for money.
Zéphyr 2017, Côtes du Rhône (organic)
Made primarily from the Roussanne grape, this is fermented and aged six months in in barrique. It is a medium-bodied wine with floral aromas and a very attractive textured palate with succulent peaches and apricots, interwoven with honey and toasted nuts. A lively acidity keeps it fresh and there is a lovely savoury bite on the finish. A nice wine with real character.
Try it with richer fish dishes, or chicken dishes. Chicken in a creamy sauce sounds good.
€24.95 from from La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork, cinnamoncottage.ie; No. 21, Cork;
A very stylish Côtes du Rhône, elegant and long, with harmonious smooth dark forest fruits and hints of liquorice. At 13.5% alcohol, it is vibrant and fresh, and very different to many of the bigger, more heady wines found under the same appellation.
This would go nicely with white meats, and firm cheeses.
€18.95 from La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork, cinnamoncottage.ie; No. 21, Cork;
First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 18th May.
According to the viticulturist Dr Richard Smart, the world’s wine industry “is the canary in the coal mine, because it’s the early-warning system”. A map of the world’s wine regions shows that almost all vineyards lie in two narrow ribbons, between 30 and 50 degrees north and south of the equator. This is changing gradually, partly because of increasingly sophisticated methods of viticulture but also because, all around the world, grapes are ripening earlier.
Even a degree or two’s change in annual temperatures can make a huge difference to the quality and style of a wine – which is why every vintage is unique. There will be winners and losers: cool regions such as the Loire and southwest France, Hawke’s Bay, in New Zealand, and Tasmania, in Australia, once had difficulty ripening red grapes. Nowadays they don’t. Very high quality sparkling wine is now being produced in the UK.
At the other extreme, warmer areas such the southern Rhône in France, central Spain, parts of California and the Barossa Valley in Australia may become too hot to sustain viticulture. Irrigation, once commonplace in hot regions, may become expensive or illegal. Increased ripeness means higher sugar levels, leading to more alcohol. In classic regions, such as Bordeaux and the Napa Valley, alcohol levels have increased over the past 20 years from 12.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent and more – a lot of Napa Valley wines now comes in at over 15 per cent. Yet many consumers are looking for lighter wines with lower alcohol.
A producer can chose to pick early to keep sugar levels low, although the danger is that the phenolic compounds, tannins and anthocyanins essential to high-quality wine may not have ripened yet.
Forward-looking producers such as Miguel Torres in Catalonia long ago began planting vines at much higher altitudes and investigating possible alternative grape varieties. (Torres is also investigating carbon capture and storage.) Others without that option are looking at planting vines on their cooler, north-facing slopes or adjusting their leaf canopies to protect grapes from sunburn.
The other option is to plant varieties that can thrive in warmer, drier climates. Here the Mediterranean countries have plenty of ancient indigenous varieties to offer. White grapes, such as Vermentino and Fiano from Italy and Arinto from Portugal, retain their acidity even in hot climates. For red wines, expect to see more Touriga Nacional, Castelâo and Trincadera from Portugal, as well as Nero d’Avola, Aglianico and Grenache instead of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
But most European wine regions are restricted to growing a limited number of grape varieties, and marketing Sauvignon Blanc or Malbec is a lot easier than marketing Aglianico.
Of course, this doesn’t address the other effects of climate change: extremes in weather, such as storms, floods or drought, as well as frost and hail are all predicted to increase.
Castellini Vermentino 2017, IGT Toscana 12.5%, €10 (down from €16.99) from Thursday, May 23rd
Floral, herbal nose with plump pear and ripe peach fruits, with good refreshing acidity. On its own, or with Italian fish dishes – spaghetti with clams, mussels or prawns. From SuperValu, supervalu.ie
Prova Regia Arinto 2017, Bucelas, Portugal 12.5%, €13.95
Fossil 2015, Vale de Capucha, Lisbon (organic) 13%, €20
Made with 60 per cent Touriga Nacional, this wonderful, moreish wine with violet aromas, lively concentrated dark fruits – blackcurrants, blackberries and wild fruits, with a strong, refreshing mineral streak, is unputdownable. Try it with pork dishes – grilled chops or a herby roast. From Urbanity, Dublin 7, urbanity.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3, lilacwines.ie; Grape & Grain, Stillorgan, Co Dublin,leopardstowninn.ie; Baker’s Corner, Kill of the Grange, Co Dublin; 1601 Off-licence, Kinsale, Co Cork; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Drinkstore, Dublin 7,drinkstore.ie; Martin’s Off-Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie.
Mont Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2017, Clare Valley, Australia (organic) 13.7%, €39.99
Australian Nero d’Avola: a sign of the future? This one is excellent: medium to full bodied, with perky bright red cherry fruits, touches of spice and smooth, gentle tannins on the finish. Drink cool with herby grilled chicken. From wineonline.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Co Dublin, blackrockcellar.com.
I recently retrieved a few cases of wine from a kind (and trusted) friend who allows me to store my wine in the basement of his house. I had bought all of them 5-10 years ago, all between €20-50 a bottle. As a result we have been having some lovely surprises over the last few weeks, including these two last weekend.
Ekam 2008, Castell d’Encus, Costers del Serge, Spain
Glorious developed nose of herbs and honey; there is plenty of precise crisp lime zest and minerals, and the palate fills out with rich complex mature stone fruits, honey and grilled nuts, finishing dry. Delectable wine – and I have two more bottles to savour!
Riesling is rarely found in Spain, but here it forms the majority in a quite unique bend with Albariño! It works amazingly well. From vineyards at 1,000 metres altitude. I bought three bottles of this some 7-8 years ago, and squirreled it away. I wish I had bought more. The Celtic Whiskey Shop/Wines on the Green are listing the 2016 vintage for €32.
Sankt Paul 2010 Spätburgunder, Erste Lage, Friederich Becker, Pfalz
Relatively full-bodied and powerful with lush ripe red cherry fruits, hints of spice and some toasty oak. Rounded, voluptuous and silky, with almost a sweetness to the fruit. Opened out very nicely over an hour or so.
Becker is reckoned to be one of the finest producers of Spätburgunder (aka Pinot Noir) in Germany. The wines are generally made in a rich powerful style. Most of his vines actually lie over the border in France, although not the single-vineyard Sankt Paul. I bought a couple of bottles of this wine from Cabot & Co. following a visit to the estate back 6-7 years ago. It has aged very well. Still available from Cabot & Co for €64 exc VAT.
“The amount of bullshit in the wine world is almost as much as that in the world of fashion”. Marco de Grazia, founder of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, doesn’t pull his punches. “Winemaking is a cultural process whereby you want to express the character of that vineyard; therefore you have to step back. Most winemakers have very big egos – we are the opposite, we want you to taste the vineyard.”
Thirty years ago, de Grazia, an American wine importer, was one of the very first to set up an estate on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, an ancient vineyard that had largely been forgotten. Since then, the region has been recognized as one of the finest in Sicily, with producers from all over Italy flocking to buy up vineyards.
Today the Terre Nere estate has 55 hectares on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, 27 of which are in production. That includes 24 separate parcels, four released as single vineyard wines. Except for seven hectares of recently planted vineyards all of the vines are 50-100 years old, growing at altitudes of 600-1,000 metres. All of the Terre Nere wines are made from local, indigenous grape varieties. “A happy vineyard produces happy grapes”, says de Grazia; all of the wines are organic and vegan.
De Grazia recently visited Dublin where he, and importers Wine Mason, put on a tasting of the Terre Nere wines. The wines are all good, and some spectacular; over the last few years, this has become one of my favourite Italian producers.
Etna Bianco 2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere
Floral, fresh and light, with soft pears and subtle stone fruits, and a lively mineral acidity. There is a fantastic succulence and purity to the fruit. Delicious wine with real character and good length.
This would go perfectly with simply-cooked white fish. Grilled hake or sole.
The red wines of Mount Etna tend to get all of the attention, but the white wines can be spectacularly good and are well worth seeking out. The Bianco is made from a blend of 65% Carricante, with varying smaller proportions of Catarratto, Inzolia, Grecanico, and Minella. Organic and vegan.
€25.95 from Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Mitchell & Son, chq, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; The Wicklow Wine Co., Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Devenys, Dublin 14;
Etna Rosso Guardioloa 2016, Tenuta delle Terre Nere
Elegant, high-toned cool savoury red fruits – redcurrants and cherries, with a taut structure, and fine drying tannins and minerals on the finish. Fantastic concentration and depth. Magnificent wine.
Keep for a year or two, or if you must open it now, decant and drink alongside roast or grilled pork with tomato-based sauce of some kind.
This is made from primarily Nerello Mascalase with some Nerello Cappuccio, from a single vineyard, one of the highest plots at around 1,000 metres. Di Grazia describes it as “an austere taut coiled spring”, and “a soprano of a wine”. I bought some of the 2014 to lay down for a year or so.
€45 from The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com.
First published in The Irish Times, 11th May, 2019
Having missed a connecting flight from London home to Dublin a few weeks back, and utterly exhausted, I treated myself to a reviving glass of Pewsey Vale’s The Contours Riesling, from Australia, and some potted shrimp with sourdough toast. It wasn’t cheap, but it was by far the best airport food I have had in years. It also reminded me just how good Riesling is with food.
Riesling is a contender, alongside Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, for the greatest white grape variety, with or without food. The food-matching side is all down to the acidity; white wines (and red) with good acidity tend to go well with food.
The best Riesling comes from four places: Alsace, Austria, Australia and Germany. Alsace and Austrian Riesling tends to be richer, higher in alcohol and dry. Australian Riesling, from the Clare and Eden Valleys, is light, bone dry and laced with lime and citrus. German Riesling varies, but if it has the word “Trocken” on the label, as many do, it will be dry (or just off dry) too.
Alsace Riesling goes really well with Alsatian food, such as coq au Riesling, choucroute garnie and other pork dishes, including belly of pork, as well as with all kinds of creamy sauces – try it with pork chops in a creamy mushroom sauce. A glass of Alsace Riesling is almost mandatory with onion tart, one of my favourite posh lunchtime dishes.
Riesling, particularly the German type, is very popular in Scandinavia as a partner for cured, smoked and lightly pickled seafood. Farther afield, it provides the perfect balance of light fruit and crisp acidity to match raw seafood – oysters, tartares, sashimi and ceviche. German Riesling tends to be lighter than others in alcohol (although not always these days), and I love it with fresh crab (sometimes with slivers of apple, matching the wine’s green-apple fruits) or with plainly grilled white fish.
German and Australian Riesling also work with Asian food. Try Aussie Riesling with crab cakes, pad thai and seafood salads, as well as with dishes with ginger, coriander, basil, lemongrass and green chillies. I once came across a memorable Mexican match of halibut ceviche with coriander leaves on a taco with a glass of Aussie Riesling. Heaven.
As you may have realised, much of the above is merely a ploy to get you to drink more Riesling. Over the past month I have enjoyed a bottle at least once a week. Most have been German Trockens, including several bottles I had aged for a few years. All have been brilliant, including a few glasses of the I Love Mosel Riesling (from Wines Direct, €18.25) that I couldn’t quite fit in below.
Aldi Exquisite Clare Valley Riesling 2015, Australia 13%, €9.99
Crisp lime zest and green-apple fruits, with mouthwatering acidity and a dry finish. Pair with prawn noodles, Thai crab cakes or spicy, herby Asian seafood dishes. From Aldi, aldi.ie
Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2017, Rheinhessen, Germany (Organic) 12%, €22-€25
Luscious nectarines and peaches, a touch of honey, with a vivid streak of lemon zest. Perfect with crab salad, stir-fried prawns, seared salmon or chicken tikka. From Listons, Dublin 2, listonsfoodstore.ie; Red Island Wine, Skerries, Co Dublin; the Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Grapevine, Dalkey, Co Dublin, onthegrapevine.ie
Riesling 2017, Domaine Zinck, Alsace (Organic) 12.5%, €22.90
Delicious crisp, light dry riesling zinging with green apples and lemon zest. Try it with plainly grilled sea trout, onion tart or roast chicken. From Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; siyps.com; McCabes @ the Gables, Dublin 18, mccabeswines.ie
Immich-Batterieberg Riesling Detonation 2017 (Organic), Mosel 11.5%, €26
I love everything about this wine: the pristine fresh peach and zingy lemon-zest fruits, the wonderful cleansing mineral acidity, the whiff of smoke and the excellent length. Pair with fresh crab salads, sashimi or simply cooked scallops or Dublin Bay prawns. From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Loose Canon, Dublin 2, loosecanon.ie; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7, lilliputstores.com; Grapevine, Dalkey, Co Dublin, onthegrapevine.ie
First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 4th May, 2019
The great outdoors is not the place to bring your finest wines unless you are having a very posh alfresco lunch or dinner. Otherwise, if the sun is out, you should be cracking open something light and fruity – white, rosé or red, and preferably cool or chilled.
For white wine the rule is simple: go for something lowish in alcohol, unoaked and fresh; New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, Spanish Albariño and French Muscadet are all ideal. For red wines, try Beaujolais, Loire Cabernet, Austrian Blaufränkisch, New Zealand Pinot Noir or one of the Chilean reds from Itata I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Beaujolais for me is the perfect all-purpose summer wine, with or without food. I tried it with my brined and barbecued shoulder of pork; it worked surprisingly well, the fresh acidity of the Beaujolais cutting through the fatty pork. You could try it with grilled pork chops, garlicky posh sausages, lamb, and vegetable brochettes, as well as cold meats and pates. Alongside, you could serve two other great French picnic wines, Muscadet and Provence rosé.
Like Beaujolais, Muscadet is one of the great summer wines, lively and refreshing, light enough to drink on its own but a great match for salads, white meats and fish. You can find inexpensive versions in most supermarkets. Aldi and SuperValu in particular offer good value. But as is invariably the case, if you spend a few euro more, the wine will so much better. These days Muscadet produces some very high-quality, nuanced, complex wines, and I adore them.
For many people, a chilled glass of rosé is the very essence of summer. Dry or off-dry, it is another great all-purpose wine, to be dunk solo, with salads and cold foods, and spicy barbecued white meats such as chicken. Just try to avoid the very sweet versions.
I have barbecued half a dozen times so far this year, each time a roast of some sort, although burgers grilled over charcoal with mesquite proved very popular too. Winewise, the St Hallett below worked really well with a whole roast chicken stuffed with garlic and herbs. This would also partner Jess Murphy’s lamb chops recipe in today’s Magazine very nicely, as would a Côtes du Rhône or Languedoc, or a Malbec from Argentina.
Fleurs de Prairie Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018 13%, €9.99
It comes in a very bling bottle and has tangy ripe raspberry and strawberry fruits, finishing dry. Serve with summery grilled seafood and chicken dishes or with salads. This would be good with Jess’s sherry and sesame drumsticks. From Aldi, aldi.ie
St Hallet Gamekeper’s Red 2015, Barossa, Australia 14%, €15.95 (down from €19.95 for May)
Medium-bodied, smooth and ripe, this would go down a treat with those spicy lamb chops and/or the chicken drumsticks. Perfect barbeque red. From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
Beaujolais Villages Le Vin des Roches 2016, Domaine Longère 12.5%, €23
Light, fresh, juicy red cherries and plums, with real length and style. The perfect summer wine to serve lightly chilled with all sorts of picnic foods, salads and barbecued white meats. From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, Ely64.com; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8, firstdraftcoffeeandwine.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie