Les Maselles Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Val de Loire
€10 from O’Briens
Very attractive mild aromas of gooseberry and asparagus and plump green fruits with a lovely citrus bite. Perfect summery drinking at a very keen price.
This would make a great aperitif or party wine, or alternatively with a bowl of mussels.
I am not a big fan of inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc; I have tasted far too many sweetish, mawkish, confected wines that taste more like elderflower cordial than wine. However this was a pleasant exception. Made I suspect in Haut-Poitou, a region that produces good quality inexpensive white wines, but has the simple tag ‘Vin de Loire’.
Canforalles Syrah Tempranillo 2015, La Mancha
€13 from La Touche, Greystones; World Wide Wines, Waterford; 64wine, Glasthule; Liston’s, Camden Street.
Nice young wine – the Syrah gives it a savoury touch, the Tempranillo an elegance. Together they form a well-made wine, with clean dark fruits and light tannins. Ideal with pizza and tomato-based pasta dishes. Organic.
La Mancha is one of the largest vineyards in the world, and produces massive quantities of wine, largely red. They are usually very reasonably priced. I reckon La Mancha Tempranillo is one of the best-value red wines you can find. This wine mixes in a bit of Syrah too, a nice innovation. Great value for money.
Beauregard Mirouze Corbières Blanc ‘Campana’ 2015,
€14.85 from Le Caveau, Kilkenny & MacGuinness, Dundalk.
Very seductive floral aromas, with mouth-watering plump ripe peaches on the palate. Great value for money.
A good all-rounder to sip on its own or with summery salads.
You are much more likely to come across the red version of Corbières. The appellation is very large, and the reds range from cheap and watery to some serious age worthy wines. This wine is a slightly eclectic mix of 60% Marsanne, 30% Vermentino and 10% Roussanne that works really well.
Hauts de Médian Petit Verdot 2015 IGP Pays d’Oc
€14.50 from Le Caveau, Kilkenny & McGuinness, Dundalk.
Medium-bodied with ripe dark fruits, good acidity, and medium tannins on the finish. Well-made wine with a bit of structure. It needs a plate of food.
I would try this with red meats – grilled lamb chops sound about right.
Petit Verdot is a Bordeaux grape, often used in small amounts as part of a blend. Some producers argue that as little as 2-3% makes a big difference to the wine, adding a spicy or peppery note. Others argue that it is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but as they both ripen at the same time (late), it is of little use. I like the solid dark fruits and structure it adds to a wine, and would like to see more of it in the Languedoc.
Cornelia Swartland Red 2014, South Africa
€14.99 from Marks & Spencer
Lifted fragrant aromas, medium-bodied spicy dark fruits, and a rounded finish. Lovely stuff.
Full-flavoured white meats. Mine went nicely with brined pork chops and caramelised onions.
Marks & Spencer has both red and white wines under the Cornelia label. Both are made by Adi Badenhorst, one of the new stars of South African wine, and both come from Swartland, a region that has been growing grapes for a long time, but has become everybody’s favourite in the last year or two. The red is a Southern Rhône-style blend of Shiraz, Cinsault and Mourvèdre
La Perdrix de l’Année des Bêtes Curieuses, Muscadet sur granit 2014
€14.50 from One Pery Square, Limerick; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock;
The Drink Store, Stoneybatter; La Touche, Greystones.
Vivid and mineral with delicious flowing green fruits and a crisp finish. Don’t worry about the vintage. Muscadet can take a few years.
Drink with shellfish and simple fish dishes.
I have been enjoying countless bottles of Muscadet this summer. It is such a joyous drink; light and fresh, but with a complexity and depth rarely found in a wine at either this price, or at 12% alcohol. Only Riesling comes to mind, but you don’t find many good dry Riesling below €15.
Atlântico 2015, VR Alentejano, Portugal
€9.99 from Fresh Stores.
Fragrant, with plump rounded plum and red cherry fruits and a smooth finish. You cannot ask for more at this price.
Dangerously easy to drink and perfect for large gatherings and parties.
The label is a painting, showing the famous Number 28 yellow tram of Lisbon in the distance. This which may seem familiar to some of you; O’Briens have their Porta 6, a Portuguese red wine, featuring the same vehicle, that flies out when it is promoted at around €10 a bottle – the wine that is, not the tram. This wine is made by a different producer, but has a certain similarity in style. Apparently this is the best selling wine in all five Fresh stores.
Colinas del Itata Old Vine Field Blend Muscat Corinto 2014, Chile
€14.99 from Marks & Spencer
This blend of Muscat and the unknown Corinto grape is exotic and intensely perfumed, with intriguing spicy fruit and a dry finish. Lovely wine.
Drink as an aperitif or with lighter salads. Perfect on a summer’s evening.
New World should mean new, right? Yet this wine is made from a vineyard that is no less than 110 years old, from a region where grapes have been grown since 1551. Some of the first settlers (or invaders really) planted vines in Itata, 500 kilometres south of what is now Santiago. They needed wine for the Sacrament. In recent years, a small group of producers rediscovered the ancient dry-farmed vines in this region, and have started to make some very exciting wines. This is a lovely wine, and a fascinating piece of history for just €15.
Fratelli Barba Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Colle Morino 2015
€14 from Sheridans Cheesemongers.
Light – a mere 12% – and refreshing with clean pear fruits and a dry finish. It is so much better than most of the confected sub €10 Pinot Grigio on the market and worth the €14 price tag.
It is not often anyone gets excited about a Trebbiano from the Abruzzo. The grape variety is renowned for tasting of very little, and yields in the Abruzzo tend to be high, further stretching any available flavour. I cannot pretend that this is a brilliant life-changing wine; it did however make for very pleasant drinking on a summer’s evening.
Nero d’Avola 2014, Sicilia, Feudo Arancio
€15 from Wilde & Green; Rua, Castlebar; Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove & Avoca, Kilmacanogue.
Seductive rounded juicy ripe dark fruits with a smooth finish.
A good all-rounder to partner most roast or grilled red meats.
Fuedo Arancio is owned by Mezzacorona, a large company based in Trentino, right up in the north-east of Italy. I have always been very fond of the Fuedo Arancio red wines; the Syrah, at the same price as the wine above is usually very good value. Nero d’Avola is a grape native to Sicily. Ten years ago, it was seen by many as the best the region could offer. The wines tended to be big, oaky and alcoholic. Then along came Nerello Mascalese and Frappato, two varieties that produced more elegant wines, and Nero d’Avola got lost along the way. However, provided the winemaker doesn’t try too hard, they can make very good, balanced fruit-filled wines. As with the wine above.