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Protocolo 2013 VdT de Castilla, Spain

Protocolo 2013 VdT de Castilla, Spain

Image€9 from O’Briens

An inexpensive light red wine with light dark cherry fruits and a hint of vanilla.

With pizzas, tapas and lighter dinners, or just by itself. It would make a great party wine too.

A perennial favourite with O’Briens customers, this is  a sort of not-Rioja; made by a Rioja producer with Tempranillo grapes grown outside the borders for the wine or from younger vines within. The label, once black and circular, is now white and oval. I cannot pretend that the wine will taste like the finest Gran Reserva Rioja; it won’t. But for €9 a bottle on current promotion, you cannot ask for more.

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A weekends drinking – not a great pic

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Bethany G6 Semillon 2010, Barossa Valley, Australia
I like their wines and this has always been a favourite – I suspect they have lightened up a bit on the oak, but mature Semillon probably doesn’t need it. Lovely maturing refreshing wine – with light waxy, toast and clean lime fruits.
From O’Briens – for €18.45

Kesseler Pinot Noir 2012, Rheingau
Delicious light but intense slippery dark cherry fruits, elegant and great with roast duck.

From Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown €40

Huber Grüner Veltliner Alte Setzen 2014, Transiental

A brilliant, brilliant wine full of Grüner character, an impeccably balance of rich fruit and mineral acidity.
€30 from 64 Wine, Glasthule

Albamar Albariño 2015 Rías Baixas
Lovely elegant Albariño from a cool climate. A new arrival to Ireland and worth seeking out.
€21 from 64 Wine, Glasthule, Clontarf Wines.

Ulivo Rabigato 2015, Douro
Not sure as to price – I was handed a half-bottle by an importer; I thought it a well made clean white iwne with a bit of chracter – I would pay up to €16 – will let you know.

Rosso Piceno Boccadigabbia 2014
A sample from importers La Rousse – a big powerful Rosso Piceno – 14.5% and tasted it. But plenty of stiffing and concentration to go with it. Atypical but pretty good.

Beaujolais Villages 2014, Potel-Aviron
Tried it earlier in the week when it seemed fine, but it was exceptional for a wine at this price when I sipped a glass on Friday night. €13.99 from Wines on the Green, Dawson street and Baggot Street Wines.

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A FEW BARGAINS FROM THE O’BRIENS SEPTEMBER WINE SALE

A FEW BARGAINS FROM THE O’BRIENS SEPTEMBER WINE SALE

A FEW BARGAINS FROM THE O’BRIENS SEPTEMBER WINE SALE
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Xovial Albarino, Rías Baixas
€10

Fresh zesty dry wine with attractive plump pear fruits. It wouldn’t compete with the best wines of Rías Baixas (such as the Pazo de Señorans, €22.95 from O’Briens) but it is very nicely priced, and went down well with fishcakes and dill mayonnaise.

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Leyda Garuma Sauvignon 2013, Leyda Valley
€11.95

Leyda make some excellent exuberant fruit-driven wines in the Leyda Valley. Crisp refreshing gooseberries and grapefruit with loads of lime zest. One for the Savvie lovers to enjoy.

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Bethany Semillon 2010, Barossa Valley
€12.95

The Bethany Semillon is now starting to take on some delicious mature toasty, nutty flavours that combine beautifully with the lime zest and tropical fruits. Very well priced. Perfect with all manner of seafood, but salmon in a buttery sauce sounds good.

Jaspiblanc
Jaspi Blanc 2012, Terra Alta
€9

I haven’t tried this for a year or so, but it was great back then, and I suspect it is as good, and a steal at this price. A well-made crisp refreshing dry white wine with white peach fruits for €9? You cannot go wrong.

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Borie de Maurel 2014, Pays d’Oc Cuvée Luna
€10

Concentrated ripe wild fruits, an attractive earthiness, wrapped around a mineral core. Very Languedoc and very seductive. A steal at €10.

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Ch Belles Eaux Les Coteaux 2012, Languedoc

€11.45

A big, powerful, full-bodied red wine with rippling supple meaty dark fruits, dried herbs and black olives. Classic Languedoc at a very keen price. Decant just before sitting down to a nice juicy rare steak.

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Norton DOC Malbec 2013, Uco Valley
€12.95
Medium to full-bodied and smooth with ripe dark fruits, milk chocolate and spice. The perfect wine for the last barbeque of the season.

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Arpège de Marsau 2010, Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs
€14.95

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.

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Arpège de Marsau 2010, Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs

Arpège de Marsau 2010, Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs

Image 3Arpège 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.

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Les Maselles Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Val de Loire

<strong>Les Maselles Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Val de Loire</strong>

Image 5Les 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’.

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Pink for Summer

Pink for Summer

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 9th July, 2016

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Sales of rosé wines in this country have increased a little in recent years, but still remain stubbornly low at 4-5% of sales. This is largely made up of those drinking inexpensive sweet “white” Zinfandel all year round, and by occasional bursts of general pink drinking when the sun makes an appearance in our skies.

We drink the colour as much as the wine; there is something quintessentially summery about a rosé wine, drunk well-chilled over a lunch outside in the sun. I am constantly being told that rosé is much more than that, and we should be drinking it the year round. It is one of the most adaptable of wines, perfect with all sorts of food, but somehow I cannot bring myself to drink it on a wet January evening.

Rosé comes in more styles than one. Leaving aside the aforementioned sweet Californians, elsewhere just about every country has had a go at making rosé; ranging from light and crisp to full-bodied and sometimes fairly alcoholic. Today we concentrate on French rosé.

The lightest, which would include the Bordeaux and Provence rosé below, is very similar in makeup to a crisp dry white wine; these go very well with lighter salads, including seafood, as well as more delicate pasta and rice dishes.More fruity and full-bodied rosés can go with a wide variety of foods, including grilled or barbecued chicken and pork, all of those southern French classics with anchovies, olives, garlic and herbs. They also go nicely with cold meats, pâtés and other charcuterie. I also find they are good match with slightly spicy dishes including curries.

Much has been made of Provençal rosé, usually dry and sometimes very expensive. I have yet to be convinced that any rosé is worth €30 or more. To me it is frivolous and fun, and that means less than €20. The Domaine d’Eole below does offer very good value for money. Look out too for the Mirabeau Rosé from O’Briens, at a price that works out at €12.71 if you buy two bottles. Marks & Spencer have the very tasty Coteaux Varois en Provence 2015 for €12.49. Tavel, a small town in the southern Rhône, traditionally made the most powerful, alcoholic rosés. The appellation here is exclusively for rosé wines. They have gone out of fashion, and most of the wines are lighter, although full of fruit, as with the Tavel below. Those from the Loire tend to be light and crisp.Rosé d’Anjou is usually a bit too sweet for my tastes, but Sancerre rosé, made with Pinot Noir, can be exquisite, and certainly worth the money. Alsace also produces some beautifully fragrant Pinot Noir rosé.

DSCF6640Domaine d’Eole 2015, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
12.5%
€16.95

Very attractive exuberant strawberry fruits with a dry finish. Great with or without food.

Stockists: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown

Image 1Tavel Rose 2014, Prieuré de Montezargues
13.5%
€18.99

The deepest colour, with concentrated red cherry fruits. With herby Provençal salads.

Stockists: Wines on the Green; Dicey Reilly; McCabes; Nectar Wines, Nolans Supermarket.

DSCF6712Bordeaux Rosé 2015, Brande Bergère.
12.5%
€19.95

The palest of colours, with sour cherry and plum fruits. Delicate, dry and moreish.

Stockists: Grapevine, Dalkey.

Image 2Famille Bougrier, Les Hauts Lieux 2015 Le Rosé, Vin de France
12%
€12.95 (2nd bottle ½ price)

Light clean refreshing summer fruits. Perfect al fresco drinking.

Stockists: O’Briens

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Domaine de la Chauvinière, Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie 2014

<strong>Domaine de la Chauvinière, Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie 2014</strong>

DSCF5570Domaine de la Chauvinière, Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie 2014
€13.95 (2nd bottle ½ price) from O’Briens

Muscadet is so much more interesting than Picpoul de Pinet, often called the Muscadet of the south, and currently very fashionable. Picpoul is a good crisp dry white wine. In the hands of a clever winemaker, it can be a little better than that, but most of those on offer come from one large producer. Muscadet on the other hand, is also be light, crisp and dry, but it can offer so much more. The really good ones (which sadly cost over €15) have a depth and complexity you will never find in a Picpoul. The Chauvinière is made by one of the best growers in the region. It has a lovely leesy touch, some lemon zest, and delicious light apple fruits. Perfect summer drinking, and great value for money.

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A weekend’s Drinking of Wine, Beer, Gin and Tonic Water

Two beers at the weekend, both consumed after a few hours in the garden. I also tried out the Herbal Crest tonic water, made with kefir water, with my Bertha’s Revenge gin. It was excellent.
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Eight degrees Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner
Lightly spicy with a subtle bitter twist. Perfect summer drinking.These guys really make great beer in every style.

Wicklow Wolf A Beer Called Rwanda
I had a bottle of this coffee flavoured beer lying around; I had forgotten how good it is. Lovely medium-bodied ale with a very pleasant fruitiness.Wicklow Wolf are another of our best craft brewers.

Goisot 2008 Bourgogne Aligoté
I bought a case of this and have been slowly consuming it over the last five years. It is still very good, but starting to fade a little. Lovely crisp slightly nutty fruits. Light and very enjoyable.

Delheim Chardonnay sur Lie 2013, Stellenbosch
A sample from O’Briens (€21.95) that went perfectly with my salmon cutlets. Rich and creamy with toasted nuts and some spice. Lovely wine.

Domaine d’Eole 2015, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
€16.95 from Whelehans. A lovely rosé full of exuberant young strawberry fruits. Also matched very nicely to my salmon cutlets.

Fleurie2014 Domaine de la Madone
A wine of the week in Saturday’s Irish Times. Light vibrant and deliciously fruity; it improved as the evening went on, suggesting it will be even better with a little time. €17 from Mitchell & Son.

Maison Plantevin Côtes du Rhône 2014
An organic red from Wines Direct (€13.95) and great value for money. Rich and warming with lovely ripe red fruits. Went really well with my barbecued chicken.

Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado

The leftovers from a Spanish wine talk I gave down in Ballymaloe last week, this is a brilliant sherry, all grilled almonds and other nuts with a crisp bone-dry long finish. €39.95 per 500ml bottle from Searsons.

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Bougrier Les Hauts Lieux Chenin Blanc 2015, Vin de France

<strong>Bougrier Les Hauts Lieux Chenin Blanc 2015, Vin de France</strong>

DSCF6628Bougrier Les Hauts Lieux Chenin Blanc 2015, Vin de France
12%
€13.95 from O’Briens

We know our Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and some even Riesling, but how many of you have tried out Chenin Blanc? This is one of the world’s great white grapes, producing excellent long-lived wines, mainly in the Loire Valley and South Africa. Some are very sweet, others bone dry. This attractive very well-priced version has lovely clean peach and apple fruits with good crisp acidity, and a slightly off-dry finish. Perfect summer drinking at a great price.

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Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2013, Barossa Valley

<strong>Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2013, Barossa Valley</strong>

WoodcuttersSemillonTorbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2013, Barossa Valley
13.5%
€24.95 from O’Briens

This is an unusual but very enjoyable wine. In the past, Dave Powell’s white wines were very full-bodied and oaky (I quite liked them), but he seems to have toned down the oak a bit and possibly picked earlier to get a fresher more balanced style.

This has delicious floral and toasted almond aromas, medium-bodied waxy lemons and honey on the palate and a bone dry finish. I would happily lay down a few bottles, as I suspect it will age for another five years. Right now, I would drink it with grilled and barbecued fish or chicken dishes.

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