€36 from Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Redmonds, Ranelagh ; The Vintry, Rathgar ; Grape & Grain, Leopardstown; Clontarf Wines; Sweeney’s; Thomas, Foxrock ; Shiels, Malahide ; McHughs; Wine House, Trim.
A large certain section of the Irish population buy Chablis every Christmas simply because it is a safe recognisable name. Nothing wrong with this, although the cheap supermarket versions are not exactly thrilling and there are plenty of far more interesting alternatives. Unless you come across a really good Chablis such as this one. Fresh and floral on the nose, with a fine racy minerality and lightly honeyed peach fruits, finishing long and dry. Wonderful wine, and perfect to start the Christmas fesitivites. Drink alongside smoked salmon, prawns and other seafood, but ideally I would like a half-dozen oysters.
€31.95 from Searsons, Monkstown; No. One Pery Square, Limerick; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock.
Stephane Ogier produces some of the finest Côte Rôtie and other wines in the Northern Rhône. This is one of his less expensive wines, made from vineyards outside of the more glamorous appellations. It is a beautifully elegant wine (12.5% alcohol) with savoury dark cherry fruits on nose and palate. Ready to drink now, this is an impeccably balanced wine. Try it with turkey if you wish, but it would also go nicely with goose or pork dishes.
€16.95 from Green Man Wines, Terenure; Baggot Street Wines; Gibney’s, Malahide.
A light herbal nose, textured on the palate with peaches and a strong saline mineral element.
Drink with all manner of seafood.
Located eight kilometres from the Atlantic coast, the Vale de Capucha vineyards are maritime and humid. Pedro Marques aims for wines that reflect both climate and the limestone soils. His white wines are fascinating; textured and broad, with complex fruits. They are a world away from the aromatic Sauvignon Blancs that are so prevalent. Warning: stocks are being eeked out as the producer has run out. Also available in Heron & Grey, Bastible, L’Ecrivan, Black Pig Wine Bar and other restaurants. If you can’t find it, seek out his other excellent white wine as featured in my blog of 11th March last.
€26 from Green Man Wines, Terenure; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin, Galway and Meath; Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove and Avoca, Kilmacanogue; 64wine, Glasthule.
A wine with amazingly fragrant aromas (worth buying for the nose alone) wonderfully elegant savoury fresh dark fruits, and a powerful finish. It has a fine-grained tannic structure that would suggest keeping it a few years, but I would happily drink it now. Brilliant wine.
Grown on the slopes of the world’s most active volcano. 100% Nerello Mascalese. Author John Szabo, in his great new book ‘Volcanic Wines’ says that wines grown on volcanic soils share ‘a common mouthwatering quality and savoury character….a sort of weightless gravity, intense, heavy as a feather, firm but transparent, like an impenetrable force shield of flavour that comes out of nowhere but doesn’t impose itself’. Sounds a little pretentious, but try this wine and you’ll see what he means.
Saint Aubin ‘Le Banc’ 2014 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey
€39 from Cabot & Co. (cabotandco.com), Westport; No. 1 Pery Square, Limerick; Grapevine, Dalkey.
Magnificent classic white Burgundy with grilled hazelnuts, toasty new oak and ripe green apple fruit, cut through by plenty of zesty mineral acidity.
This calls out for your finest fish; black sole or turbot swimming in butter sounds appropriately grand. Alternatively, this would go perfectly with a starter of smoked salmon with your Christmas dinner.
Pierre-Yves Morey recently installed himself in a large modern winery on the edge of Chassagne-Montrachet. I recently tasted his white wines from 2015, a vintage he predicts will be great. They were wonderfully precise and supremely elegant with complex rich fruits. In the meantime, we can enjoy the wine above, which features in Wilson on Wine 2017.
G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2011
€78.99 from Baggot St. Wines: Jus de Vin, Portmarnock; Terroirs, Donnybrook; Corkscrew, Chatham Street.
Fragrant aromas of rose petals and violets; an intense palate of firm, elegant dark damson and cherry fruits, a slight spiciness and a long elegant tannic finish. Relatively approachable, but will certainly keep another five years or more. Beautiful wine.
If you drink it now, decant before serving with robust dishes; steak, beef and mushroom stew, roast game or an aged Parmesan cheese.
Vajra is a fairly new enterprise, set up by the energetic Aldo Vajra in 1972, the worst vintage in the 20th century. He is now assisted by his daughter and two sons. Over the years, Vajra has assembled a relatively large sixty hectare estate that includes prime vineyards in all three sub-regions of Barolo. The wines are wonderfully aromatic, with all of the authentic pure flavours of the Nebbiolo grape. The Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo (around €30) is well worth seeking out for earlier drinking.
Bellavista Franciacorta ‘Alma’ Gran Cuvée Brut NV
Wonderful fresh elegant wine with lemon verbena aromas, complex white peach and nectarine fruits, subtle toasted almonds and an excellent dry finish. Spellbinding wine.
This would make a brilliant aperitif, on its own, or with a few cheese nibbles and toasted almonds.
You may not have come across Franciacorta or Bellavista before. Franciacorta is in Lombardy to the east of Milan. Sparkling wine production only really began here in 1961, but has been hugely successful over the last few decades – it now makes the best sparkling wine in Italy (streets ahead of Prosecco). Bellavista was founded by businessman Vittorio Moretti in the early 1970s, with the aim of producing an Italian version of Champagne company Louis Roederer. In this he has succeeded; this is one of the finest, if not the finest sparkling wine houses in Italy. This wine is made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir (both Champagne grapes) and aged for 2 ½ years in bottle before release. So, would I be prepared to shell out €53, the same amount of money as for a good Champagne? The answer in this case, is unequivocally yes!
Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2014, Tasmania
Wonderfully fragrant, with precise elegant redcurrant and cherry fruits, plenty of acidity and really good length. A very charming, delicate wine.
I think something piggy would do nicely here. A roast loin of pork without the apple sauce.
I featured the 2013 version of this wine in Wilson on Wine 2016 last year. The 2014 is a worthy follow-up; this had the room buzzing at the Liberty tasting yesterday. Tasmania is producing some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Australia today, as well as some of the best sparkling wine. This vineyard was planted in 1988, and subsequently bought by cousins Michael Hill-Smith and Martin Shaw, who own Shaw + Smith, one of the leading wineries in Adelaide. They also craft an excellent Chardonnay from the same vineyard. Would I be prepared to pay €63, the price of a pretty good bottle of Burgundy? The answer is yes.
Keller Riesling Trocken 2013, Rheinhessen
€21.99 from Grapevine, Dalkey and Cabot & Co, Westport
A wine that dances across the palate; light and fragrant, free-flowing and fresh. A mere 12% in alcohol, it gently explodes with fruit.
Drink by itself or with light white fish dishes.
Klaus Peter Keller is one of Germany’s finest winemakers. Based in one of the less fashionable regions of the country, he still manages to produce a series of unbelievably good dry and sweet wines. This is his entry-level dry white, a steal at around €20.
Arpège de Marsau 2010, Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs
Available for €14.95 down from €19.95 from O’Briens
Rich smooth blackcurrant fruits, with a touch of spice and a nicely rounded finish. Relatively full-bodied for a Bordeaux, this is a nice wine and very good value at less than €15.
Drink with roast red meats. A leg or shoulder of lamb would be a lovely weekend treat.
Ch. Marsau is one of the leading properties in the Côte de Francs, now renamed Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs. It is one of the value areas of Bordeaux when compared to nearby Saint Emilion and Pomerol. I have many happy memories of mature grand vin of Ch. Marsau. This is a more approachable version.