A tasty white from Marks & Spencer

Saint Mont 2010, V.D.Q.S.

€10.99  13%


Made by the Producteurs de Plaimont, a large company based in south-west France, this is a really interesting and enjoyable wine at a very good price. A blend of three local white grapes  – Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Arrufiac, it has delicious peach and pear fruits, a touch of grilled nuts, good firm acidity, and a dry finish. Try it with white fish or  chicken.


Stockists: Marks & Spencer


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A Tale of Two Burgundies

A tale of two Burgundies

Inspired by a trip toGermanytasting Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), I cracked open two bottles of redBurgundyfor dinner. The first was a recent purchase from the 2010 vintage, the second an elderly bottle from the cellar.

 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Aux Beaux Bruns 1993, Domaine Barthod


I bought six bottles of this back in the mid-90s. Having had a brilliant bottle last year, I had high hopes, which seemed dashed when I first tasted this one; quite light and acidic, seemingly past its prime. However after ten minutes it opened out into a beautiful elegant wine with delicate silky-soft red fruits and a pleasing freshness. Great wine. As far as I know, Barthod is imported by le Caveau ( and Nomad Wines.


Bourgogne Rouge 2010 Domaine Guillot-Broux


I really enjoyed my visit to this estate, high up in the hills of Mâcon. Emmanuel Gillot-Broux is a talented and thoughtful man making some lovely sappy light reds, and rich mineral ageworthy whites. As featured in the Times, this is a lovely fresh wine with redcurrants and summer fruits. I can see it improving further over the next year. From Cabot & Co,Westportand On the Grapevine, Dalkey for around €20.

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Runners & Riesling

Some of you may have seen a young Swedish man on RTE news last week, proposing to his Irish girlfriend having completed the ultramarathon course in the Connemarathon. The gentleman concerned was Hakan Eriksson, who has worked in the wine business here for a number of years, and is currently with Honest2Goodness wines. As it happened Hakan had dropped me in a sample of a new German Riesling, about which he was very excited. This is the wine:


 Sybille Kuntz Riesling Trocken 2009, Mosel



 Classic dry Riesling; a lightly floral nose, pristine crisp green apple fruits and citrus acidity. Fresh as a spring morning and a delight to drink.

 Stockists: see  



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A refreshing red form the Loire.

Domaine de la Renaudie Cabernet 2010, Touraine

12% €13.95

Possibly a bit expensive for an everyday wine, but I bought myself a half-dozen bottles of this recently and have been motoring through it at an alarming rate. It hits all the right buttons for me; first of all it is refreshing, and makes you want to have another sip, and then a second glass; it is light enough to enable you to do this without keeling over; and lastly it tastes great, with supple fresh blackcurrant fruits and a clean tannin-free finish. The perfect mid-week pick-me-up to have with dinner. The Chenin Blanc (see pic.) is pretty good too.

Stockists: ; Wicklow Arms Delgany; On the Grapevine, Dalkey; 64 wine, Glasthule


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Henschke Julius Riesling 2006, Eden Valley, Australia

One of the greatest Australian Rieslings I have tasted was a Henschke Julius Riesling 1997. It had wonderful mature fruit with a lovely streak of mineral acidity. This wine is not quite in the same class yet, but may get there given a few years ageing. At the moment it has light floral aromas, with crisp mineral citrus and green fruits on the palate, finishing dry. At the reduced price, it is a real bargain. I will certainly be heading off to Donnybrook Fair to buy a few bottles, and would recommend you do the same.

€16.99 down from €29.99 at Donnybrook Fair for their ‘spring clean’ sale.

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Easter Alternatives

When tasting at home, I usually taste blind (and then ‘seen’ afterwards) and try to taste a group of 6-8 similar wines at the same time. My backlog of wines had been building up, and after two days of very disappointing tastings, I really wasn’t looking forward to tasting still more wine. I understand this is not a complaint that many people understand, but tasting a series of well-made, but uninteresting wines night after night tires very quickly. Last night I found five wines supplied for a ‘Something different for Easter’ article which never materialised. We had nothing for dinner, so I bought a shoulder of lamb from my local butcher, which I roasted. Not only was the lamb magnificent – tender and full of flavour, but three of the wines were really enjoyable and each went very nicely with the lamb. So, three very different wines, each good in their own way, and perfect with Easter lamb. I also tasted a few white wines, and really enjoyed a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, pert of the Superquinn wine sale currently running.

J. Mourat ‘Sacré Blanc’ Chenin Blanc 2010

Fresh honey and quince on nose and palate, with good acidity and pretty decent length. A really enjoyable interesting wine at a great price.

€11.99 down to €9 for the Superquinn Spring French Wine Sale

Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2009

Light violets and red cherries on the nose; light sweet fruit with good acidity; very pleasant and refreshing, with a nice earthy note on the finish. A very Italian wine that went very nicely with the lamb.

€14.50-14.95 from Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer St; Baggot Street Wines; 64Wine, Glasthule; Wicklow Arms, Greystones; Deveneys, Rathmines; Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Nectar Wines, Sandyford; Hargadons, Cabinteely.

Castello di Potentino 2005, Montecucco Rosso

Sweet ripe cherry nose with an earthy note; on the palate, sweet old-style Italian, with tea and liquorice flavours alongside the mature sweet fruit; possibly not the most polished, with some drying tannins on the finish. Possibly tiring a little, but a wine of real character and I really liked it – great with the lamb too.

€14.10 from

Domaine des Hauts Châssis, Cuvée Esquisse 2010

Forward clean dark fruits on the nose; sweet and savoury at the same time, with cool just-ripe dark cherries, and a light savoury kick, and a touch of tobacco; no great concentration or structure, but a very pleasant wine for drinking now.

€19.95 from , The Vineyard Galway; On The Grapevine, Dalkey.

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Bourgogne Rouge 2010 Les Coteaux des Anges
€8 or 3 for €20

Lovers of Burgundy should head straight to Superquinn for this delightful Pinot Noir – light and refreshing with smooth easy cherry fruits. Given that it is not easy to find any drinkable red Burgundy at under €10, this is a real bargain.

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Below a range of really interesting off-beat wines that I tasted for a recent article in The Irish Times. Sadly I am limited to four wines each week, so I thought I would include the remainder here. All were tasted blind.


Cistus Branco Reserva 2009, Douro

Not much on the nose; crisp pithy stone fruits, bone dry with some quince. A pleasant wine with a bit of character. 11/20

Stockists: Mitchell & Son, IFSC and Glasthule.

Quinta da Lixa 2010, Vinho Verde

A little fiz when you pour, as is traditional with Vinho Verde; lifted tropical fruit and pear aromas; light crisp and fresh with apple and grapefruit. A mouth-watering wine with lots of zip. This would be great as an aperitif or with slighter seafood. The Muscadet of Portugal? Very good value. 11.5/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

Provia Régia Premium 2010, Bucelas

Rich pear and peach aromas, with a touch of bananas too; light, but this carries quite a bit of fruit, ripe peaches shot through with lemon zest and grapefruit; Very stylish fresh wine. 13/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

Morgado de Sta. Catherina Reserva 2008

Arinto fermented and aged in new French oak. A much deeper colour, with broad spice, cloves and some peach fruits. Good acidity too. This would appeal to those who enjoy oaky wines. I prefer slightly less spice. Good wine though. 12/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

Antão Vaz de Peceguina

A lightly floral nose; medium-bodied with a nice creamy texture, spiced apples and pears, with lovely clean length. This is a really well-made modern wine, bearing some similarity to a white Burgundy. 14.5/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.


Quinta do Cardo, Beria Interior, 2009

Is this the Portugese version of Beaujolais? It has light fresh raspberry and redcurrant fruits, tangy and lively, with a dry slightly raspy finish. Different and possibly not a crowd pleaser, but I really enjoyed it with dinner later – it is certainly a food wine. 11.5/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

Grilos 2008 Dão

Light violets on the nose; a very good food wine with nice acidity, no real tannins, and pleasant smooth easy dark damson fruits; no huge concentration but an appealing good everyday wine, of the sort I really enjoy. 12.5/20

Wicklow Wine Company 0404 66767 for stockists.

Quinta do Cachão 2009, Douro

Relatively light fruits, cooler with good acidity and no rough edges, although a nice earthy savoury touch. This went down very nicely with roast pork for dinner. 11.5/20

Karwig Wines , email for local stockists.

Dom Rafael, Mouchão 2009, Vinho Regional Alentejano

Mouchão is one of the historic wineries of Portugal, owned by the Reynolds family since the mid-nineteenth century, (with a brief interlude during the revolution in 1974). The flagship wine, just called Mouchão is serious stuff indeed, and well worth trying out. There are also a few special cuvées which I tasted on a visit there a few years back. The Dom Rafael is made to be drunk earlier. This is a fairly powerful structured wine with serious chewy ripe dark fruits, well-integrated tannins and very good concentration. A great winter wine with real character to serve with stews or red meats. 14/20

Paulo Laureano Clássico 2009, Vinho Regional Alentejano

This had a funky slightly animal edge to the dark plum aromas and some spice too; on the palate earthy meaty warm fruits and no real tannins. A rustic wine but pleasant with a slight tarriness too. Warming wine and very well-priced too. 12/20

For stockists, contact Mitchell & Son, IFSC and Glasthule. 01 2302301/01 6125540.

Paulo Laureano Permium 2008, DOC Alentejo

A medium to full-bodied wine with some new oak, but a nice distinctive cool plum character, nice loose tannic structure; a very well-made wine. There is very good quality fruit on the centre-palate. It opened out, and seemed to take on weight after a while into a fairly big swarthy wine that I really enjoyed. 13/20

For stockists, contact Mitchell & Son, IFSC and Glasthule.

Herdade dos Grouse Vinho Regional Alentejano
€16.99 but on special at €12.99 in Fresh Outlets and La Touche Wines, Greystones

This was very different in style to the other wines; very modern, with svelte ripe rich classy fruits, and plenty of spicy new oak. There is good concentration too and quite noticable alcohol.
A very appealing commercial style, almost Europe meets Australia with a Portugese twist. 13/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

Quinta dos Aciprestes 2007, Douro

Savoury blackcurrant and wet-stone on the nose; somehow less structured than I expected, with sweet ripe strawberries, a real earthy maturity, a decent whack of alcohol but it seems in balance. It improved with time, developing a pleasing swarthiness. Nice wine. 12/20

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

Casa de Santar 2008, Dão

Light pure dark cherry aromas; a really attractvie wine with clean morello and plum fruits a lovely light acidic kick at the end, good persitence and a dry finish. Yummy.14/20

Wicklow Wine Company 0404 66767 for stockists.

Munda 2008, Dão

This is serious stuff; warm ripe dark fruits and dark chocolate on the nose. A structured young wine with a masses of tight dark fruits, distinctive dark chocolate, and excellent length. Very nicely balanced, if a bit young. Decant before serving, or keep a year or two, but well worth the money.

Imported by Grace Campbell. Email for local stockists.

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Mr. Amarone

A range of great Amarone going back twenty three years.

Mr. Amarone, Sandro Boscaini, president of Masi, specialists in all things appassimento, put on a great tasting this afternoon. It was Sandro’s father who first dreamt up the idea of Ripasso in the late 1950’s, making the first commercial vintage in 1964. Some years later, he offered the name to the local Chamber of Commerce, thus allowing other producers to use the term. He is not entirely happy with the current standards (some use the dried grapes three times – the result he says is a bit like a teabag; it gets lighter each time). However we were tasting Amarone. We tried eight wines, including six of the Masi Costasera, their ‘standard’ Amarone, and two vintages of Serègo Alighieri Vaio Amaron, from the ancient estate of the family of Dante Alighieri. It was a really good reminder that high alcohol wines can be perfectly balanced; also that Amarone, a much abused name, is a great wine. Some really good, and two absolutely stunning wines.


 Masi Costasera Amarone 2007

Young, intensely fruity wine, plums, baked fruit and spices. Good acidity, good length; a very good young wine. 14.5/20


Masi Serègo Alighieri Vaio Amaron Amarone 2005

Deeper in colour with pure dark chocolate, coffee and intense ripe dark fruits and vanilla; tannic and long, hugely concentrated. A very impressive young wine, which will only improve. 17.5/20

 Masi Costasera Amarone 2000

Starting to show some mature notes of tea and prunes, but still has some very attractive primary cherry fruits too. Savoury, long and very stylish wine. 16.5/20

 Masi Costasera Amarone 1998

Brown sugar on the nose; soft savoury liquorice flavours – tea, prunes and chocolate too; the alcohol stuck out a little at first, but it opened out very nicely, with a good bitter finish. 16.5/20

 Masi Costasera Amarone 1995

A slightly dirty nose initially, which blew off after a bit. Old woody, mint and figs, but a little vegetal too. Good, but not my favourite. 13.5/20

 Masi Serègo Alighieri Vaio Amaron Amarone 1995

A stunning wine of great power, complexity and balance. Big savoury plums soy, liquorice, cassis and hints of mint; changes all the time in the glass. Huge concentration, a lovely long bitter finish. 18.5/20

 Masi Costasera Amarone 1993

Hard to follow the wine above, and this was fine, but probably starting to fade a little; stewed tea, herbs, some soft prunes and a leafy note. Elegant and enjoyable. 16.5/20

 Masi Costasera Amarone 1988

I thought this was past it at first, but it opened out beautifully to reveal wonderful mature flavours of grilled hazelnuts, stewed fruits and raisins. Lovely sweet-sour flavours. 17/20


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