I have featured this before I think, but this is one of my favourite white wines, made by Englishman James Kinglake at his domaine, high in the hills above Carcassonne. The blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc works really well; the latter giving it a lovely zestiness, and the former pristine rounded green apple fruits. Think really good Chablis, but at half the price. Perfect on its own or with seafood, salads and summery recipes. Begude also produce a really good value Pinot Noir, also available from O’Briens.
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When making notes at wine tastings I have a personal shorthand. W.M.D.W.W. means well made dry white wine, O/O.O/A.O/E. is for over-oaked, too much alcohol and over extracted. O.D.C. signifies ordinary decent claret (as opposed to ordinary decent criminal), for a particular kind of red wine from Bordeaux. These are light to medium bodied wines, with just ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, with a refreshing acidity and a dryish finish. I love them; they are great all-purpose wines to go with red and white meats, including stews and cheese dishes. The ordinary bit means they have to sell for less than €15. The Guillebot Plaisance fits all the above criteria, and is even light enough to sip solo.
It is what made Chile famous in the first place; inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon. We Irish fell in love with it many years ago, and still cannot get enough. Back then we were used to drinking Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux. The Chilean version was a little riper and more full-bodied. It was also much cheaper and a lot more consistent. The Torres version is a classic. Medium-bodied ripe plums, blackcurrant and cassis with good acidity and a nice structure. Perfect with roast red meats or grilled pork chops.
Viña Esmeralda 2014, Catalunya
€13.95 from independent off-licences
The first time I tried this wine I was sitting outside a tapas bar in London on a very warm summer evening. I was completely won over. The crafty blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer is a winning combination. This is quintessential summer wine; fragrant and floral, with succulent pears, grapes and lychees. It has just enough refreshing acidity to balance out the rounded finish. Try it, sitting outside, as soon as the next fine evening comes along, by itself or, even better, with a plate a prawns.
Percheron Chenin Viognier 2015, Swartland, South Africa
€11.95 from World Wide Wines, Waterford; Blackrock Cellar; MacGuiness, Dundalk; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Green Man Wines, Terenure.
Horse lovers will be aware that Percheron is a breed of draft horse, originally from the west of France. It appears on the label, as the producers have apparently bought some to work in the vineyards, as is currently very trendy. The wine is pretty good, a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc, South Africa’s workhouse (sorry!) grape variety and 20% Viognier. Put them together and you get a light, clean, fresh wine with peaches and apricots, a subtle creaminess and a dry finish. Try it with prawn dishes.
Tour de Gendres Rouge 2014, Bergerac
€15-15.50 from Avoca, Rathcoole; Baggot St. Wines; The Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Donnybrook Fair; Liston’s, Camden St.; World Wide Wines, Waterford; 64wine, Glasthule; MacGuiness, Dundalk; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Green Man Wines, Terenure.
At one time, this was one of my all-time favourite red wines. I hadn’t come across it for a while so for a while, so I was delighted to see it at a tasting recently; it is as good as ever and still something of a bargain. Made by the de Conti family in Bergerac (right next-door to Bordeaux) this is modern French winemaking at its best. Light fresh blackcurrant and plum fruits, no oak and a dryish finish. Clean and moreish; perfect everyday wine to match up with roast meats – pork, lamb or beef, or pâtés and other charcuterie.
I hesitated to make this a wine of the week, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I was afraid you wouldn’t. It is made by Ch. de Fesles, one of the top estates in this part of the Loire, and producers of some very good dry and sweet wines. You would expect to pay €20 and more for most of their wines. This wine is classic Loire Chenin Blanc, with a fragrant nose, followed by quince and green apples overlaid with honey and beeswax on the palate. It finishes bone dry. I enjoyed it, but it does have a fairly severe lean mineral streak and lots of citrus acidity. If you are used to off-dry Pinot Grigio, it may give you a jolt. But the price is great, so it is certainly worth trying, preferably with food; some kind of shellfish sounds good.
The label is fairly dazzling, and so is the wine. Campo de Borja produces large quantities of big ripe warming red wines, usually made from Garnacha. Along with Tempranillo from La Mancha, they represent some of the best value red wines available. Not just from Spain, but from anywhere. This is a classic of the style, with more fruit and intensity than most of the supermarket versions. Big, rounded and ripe with soft spicy strawberry fruits and a very decent supple finish. Great value for money, and perfect for barbecued meats.
Haut Marin 2015, Côtes de Gascogne
€13.95 from Searsons, Monkstown; La Touche, Greystones; The Drink Store, Manor St; Market 57, Clifden; Nolan’s, Clontarf; MacGuinness, Dundalk; Next Door, Kimmage.
Light, aromatic and bursting with crisp apple, exotic fruits and citrus. Great on its own or with white fish dishes.
We had this as an aperitif at a wine dinner hosted by La Touche Wines in Greystones last week. The event, in Theatre Lane restaurant, was great fun, and the food and wines both very good. The white wines of Côtes de Gascogne, generally a blend of Columbard, Ugni Blanc along with other varieties can smell and taste uncannily like a Sauvignon Blanc; aromatic, fresh and fruity. They can offer incredible value.
Very attractive modern Bordeaux with generous plum fruits and light soft tannins. With roast meats (red and white) or firm cheeses. Very good value.
I started out in the wine trade at a time when everyone drank red Bordeaux and have always retained a fondness for what I call ODC – ordinary decent claret; unpretentious, medium-bodied wine with plum and blackcurrant fruits and some drying tannins. They make for perfect everyday dinner wines. This is one such example.