Ciello Bianco 2016, Catarratto, Cantine Rallo, IGT Terre Siciliane
Vibrant and bright with juicy peaches and almonds, balanced nicely by lemon zest acidity, finishing dry.
A great all-purpose wine to sip before dinner, or with a wide variety of lighter seafood dishes or salads. Perfect lunchtime wine.
An organic wine produced from Catarratto, one of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties. In fact, it is the most popular variety, making up 30% of all plantings, and was used primarily in Marsala production. Wines made from low-yielding vines in good soils can be very tasty, although there is still a lot of very average wines on sale. This is one of the good guys.
€12.95 from Baggot St. Wines; Clontarf Wines; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Blackrock Cellar; Green Man Wines, Terenure; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk; Bradley’s Off Licence, Cork; Le Caveau, Kilkenny.
Jaspi Negre 2014, Coca I Fitó, Montsant
Full-bodied and powerful with masses of plush smooth red fruits, a savoury edge, and well-integrated smooth tannins on the finish. An iron fist in a velvet glove?
Try this with hard cheeses or grilled red meats. A côte de bouef sounds right.
Catalan brothers Toni and Miquel Coca i Fitó work with small growers from lesser-known regions in various parts of Spain to produce wines that reflect the local terroir. The Jaspi Negre above is a blend of 45% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 15% Cabernet and 15% Syrah. Montsant is a large C-shaped region, almost completely surrounding Priorat, high up in the mountains south-west of Barcelona.
€14.95 down from €16.95 from O’Briens, Obrienswine.ie
Castelli del Duca Secco Isabella 2016 Malvasia dei Colli Piacentini
Lightly sparkling, with aromatic, clean, fresh grapey aromas and light mouth-watering crisp dry fruit.
A very lovely aperitif or party wine and a great alternative to Prosecco.
The Medici family make a range of excllent Lambrusco and a juicy light Sangiovese under the Medici Ermete label. The Castel del Duca estate wines come from the Colli Piacentini DOC, on the western end of Emilia.
€13.99 from SUYPS.com; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
Cantina di Negrar Corvina IGT Verona 2015
A lovely light, juicy, fresh, red wine with beautifully defined crunchy dark cherries – a great glugger at a great price.
Coming in at a mere 12.5% abv, this would be great on its own, or with a plate of charcuterie and some crusty bread.
Good Valpol is one of my favourite wines. Light, juicy and low in alcohol, it refreshes snd invites you to take another sip; and then another, and so on. This may only have IGT status, but, made from the same grape, it is streets ahead of most Valpolicella at this price.
€13.95 from SIYPS.com; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
Domaine Gadais Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine sur lie 2016.
The Domaine Gadais Muscadet is a delicious light thirst-slaking wine with delectable easy pear fruits and a saline touch.
Perfect with a plate of briny oysters, but any other shellfish would do.
I always enjoy Marks & Spencer press tastings. Of all the supermarkets, they have the highest quality wines and stock the most eclectic range. The latest tasting included wines from Bolivia and Mexico which you will find alongside The Lebanon, New York, Croatia and Turkey and many more. Muscadet is certainly more mainstream, but is starting to regain popularity having been ignored for a decade or more.
€11.30 from Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer Loretto Sangiovese Rubicone IGT 2016.
A light fresh juicy easy-drinking wine with red cherry fruits and a twist of spice. No tannins, just light, supple, rounded fruits.
A good all-rounder to drink with lighter red meats, chicken and pork, as well as salmon or tuna.
You cannot ask too much of a wine selling for less than €10. I find most have a confected flavour from over-manipulation and usually a dose of residual sugar. You won’t mistake this wine for a top Chianti Classico, but it is a very gluggable fault-free wine and offers very good value for money.
€9.50 from Marks & Spencer
Dão Ribeiro Santo 2014, Portugal
A lovely harmonious medium-bodied wine with pure damson and dark cherry fruits.
Perfect with duck breast or pork dishes.
I have just finished a tasting of wines from the Dão region for a piece in the Irish Times. I suspect this will feature strongly. Dão is one of the best-known wine regions of Portugal, but until recently, often produced very average wines. This has changed over the last decade; if you enjoy light to medium-bodied wines, then this is well worth checking out.
€14.95 from Fresh Outlets, La Touche, Greystones; The Coachouse, Ballinteer; Power & Co, Lucan, D Six; Nectar, Sandyford; McGuinness Wines, Dundalk; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Corkscrew, Chatham Street.
Pato Frio Selecçâo 2015, Alentejo, Portugal
This white, with its light tropical fruits and refreshing citrus edge tasted of summers and holidays past. Apparently it is a vegan wine.
Drink on its own, creamy cheeses or with light seafood dishes.
I am a big fan of Portuguese wines. We are probably more familiar with the red wines, but the whites can be excellent too. For wine nerds, the good news is they have a dazzling array of their own indigenous grape varieties too. This wine is made from a blend of Antão Vaz (50%), Arinto (25%) and Síria (25%).
€14.95 from La Touche, Greystones; O’Briens; Fresh Outlets; Corkscrew; Fallon & Byrne; D Six, Harold’s Cross; Deveney’s, Dundrum; Sweeney’s, Glasnevin; The Wine Well, Dunboyne.
Selbach Riesling 2014, Mosel
€13.95 for March 2017
Fresh crisp green apple fruits, with a zesty citrus edge and a nicely rounded finish. Delicate and delectable wine.
By itself or with mildly spicy Asian fish dishes; that lemon and lime acidity works really well with many Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
I am a big fan of Riesling and was very happy when a friend served me a glass of this before dinner recently. Low in alcohol and refreshing with a touch of sweetness (as with many white wines these days) it is the perfect aperitif wine.
Available from O’Briens
Madregale 2015, Rosso Terre di Chieti
Light fresh juicy cherry fruits and no tannins. There isn’t really much more to say. Very good simple everyday drinking and great value for money.
Pizzas, lighter pasta dishes, and white meats. Or by itself.
This is made by Cantina Tollo, a well-regarded, large co-operative in the Abruzzo region. Chieti is the largest of the four provinces that produce Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Available from Avoca; Blackrock Cellars; Fallon & Byrne; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Listons, Camden Street; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk; Green Man Wines, Terenure; World Wide Wines, Waterford.