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.
Marc Kreydenweiss Pinot Blanc, Alsace
€17.95 from O’Briens
Lively and fresh, a perfectly formed combination of pure apple and pear fruits with a lovely lingering finish.
We drank it as an aperitif (with tortilla chips, possibly not the best match), but also with some very fresh plain boiled prawns – delicious.
Every now and again you come across a wine that everybody likes; both the wine geeks and those who just want to drink a nice glass of wine, and everyone else in between. This is one such wine. Having tasted it myself, I tested it out on a gang of half a dozen or more friends before a casual dinner recently. Without being asked, they all raved about it. Why? It is light but full of flavour and it has a perfect balance of fruit and acidity. It is not cheap, but if you are looking for a failsafe aperitif, this is certainly an option.
Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
€28 from Marks & Spencer
This is a seriously good Pinot Noir. Light and juicy with piquant dark cherries and plums, very good concentration and nice length. Refreshing, but it has some depth too.
I drank it with roast duck (also from M&S) with my own version of petits pois à la française. Delicious.
I told the story earlier this week about how I first heard of this wine through my former scout leader. I have heard a lot about (aboot?) Pinot Noir from British Columbia, but very rarely had the chance to try it. In style this wine has a certain similarity to Central Otago, but is a little lighter. Pricewise, it stacks up well against the competition from New Zealand, Burgundy, Germany and elsewhere in the New World too.
Primo de Conti Rouge 2014, Bergerac
€16 from Marks & Spencer
Lovely elegant just-ripe blackcurrant fruits with cigar box and cedar wood, finishing with some well-judged tannins. So much better than most Bordeaux at this price.
Perfect with a dinner party roast of lamb, beef, or pork.
Luc de Conti and his family have been producing excellent wines, both red and white for many years, under the Tour des Gendres label. Based in Bergerac, right beside Bordeaux, they use similar grape varieties, grown biodynamically. Their wines over-deliver every time. This is a cuvée produced for Marks & Spencer.
Domaine Houchard Rosé 2015, Côtes de Provence
€16.95 from Gibney’s, Malahide; The Wine House, Trim; Drinkstore, Stoneybatter; Nectar Wines, Sandyford; Grapevine, Dalkey; Karwig Wines, Carrigaline.
Not much on the nose, but lovely pure strawberry fruits on the palate. Medium-bodied and textured, you could drink this on its own, but we found it even better with food.
Rosé is a great food wine and this one is no exception. Drink with summery Provencal salads, including tomatoes, tapenade and anchoïade and all sorts of summer vegetables. Herb-scented fish dishes would do very nicely too.
Houchard is owned by the Quiot family, proprietors of a number of estates further north in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Ventoux. Made from a blend of four grapes (Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah), this wine is richer, with more fruit than most Provence rosés. We enjoyed it immensely in sunny West Cork.