Posts Tagged Protocolo

The best fine Christmas wines you can buy in supermarkets

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 9th December, 2017

Some are sedate, refined affairs with polite conversation. Others are huge, loud, clan gatherings, semi-organised chaos with a horde of noisy children and even noisier adults. If your Christmas dinner falls into the latter category, then it is quite likely that your wine selection will be based on quantity rather than quality. This is not the best time to roll out that expensive bottle you squirrelled away for a special occasion. If you do open it, chances are that cousin Ronan down the other end of the table will knock most of it back while you are carving the turkey or finishing off the sprouts.

However, this does not mean buying caseloads of the cheapest possible wine. Spend €1 or €2 more and your guests will notice the difference, and thank you for it. There are plenty of very drinkable wines at anything from €8-€15. Today I’m doing a round-up of the multiples. I generally go for a bottle of fizz to gets things going (with nibbles to provide soakage) followed by a medium-bodied white and  red wine. Remember to provide interesting adult soft drinks for those who don’t drink alcohol.

To start off, Prosecco is hugely popular and unlikely to offend. I have featured the SuperValu Grifón (€9) before, or alternatively the Aldi Cremant de Jura is an outstanding bargain for €11.99. I would also recommend their beautifully packaged rich Astelia Chardonnay (€10.99) and either the smooth, elegant Rioja Reserva (€10.99) or the uber-ripe, hearty Exquisite South Australian Shiraz (€8.79). SuperValu have a very attractive offer of a six-bottle case containing two organic Spanish red wines, both of which would go very well with turkey, for €40.

Tesco’s Finest Prosecco Valdobiadenne (€17.99) may stretch the budget but is worth the premium, while its Picpoul de Pinet (€12) will make a nice change to Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. For a budget red, it is hard to look further than their Finest Limestone Coast Shiraz, mentioned here before but a bargain for €9.

From O’Briens the ever -popular Protocolo (€9.95) is hard to resist, but I was bowled over by the Garnacha featured below. For white wines the new Duffour Côtes de Gascogne (€9.99) is great value, or the Yalumba Organic Viognier (€13.95) will go nicely with starter and main course. For sparkling wine, the Rizzardi Prosecco Frizzante for €12.50 will certainly get the party started.

Shoppers at Dunnes Stores should head for the Viognier below, and for red wine, to the fruit-filled El Circulo Rioja Crianza(€10.50) or the warming, spicy Visan La Souco (€11.50). Spar, Eurospar and Londis all have the smart, richly textured, buttery Couveys Chardonnay (€10.99) and soft, ripe Eugenio Bustos Malbec below from Argentina.

Tesco finest Prosecco Valdobbiadene

Tesco Finest Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV

11.5%, €17.99
Frothy ripe pear fruits, balanced very nicely by crisp lemon zest. Great on its own, with nibbles, or even alongside fishy starters.
Stockists: Tesco

LM_SOLAS_VIOGNIER_BLC_DETOURELaurent Miquel Solas Viognier 2016
13%, €12.50
A very seductive wine bursting with exotic fruits, luscious peaches and subtle toasted almonds. This would go down a treat with lightly spicy prawns and other shellfish, as well as turkey.
Stockists: Dunnes Stores

EBustos MB sc

Eugenio Bustos Malbec 2016, Mendoza, Argentina
12.5%, €9.99
A lighter, juicier style of Malbec with ripe plum and loganberry fruits overlaid with vanilla and spice. With turkey, ham and spiced beef.
Stockists: Eurospar, Spar, Mace & Londis.


Tandem Inmune Garnacha 2015, Velle de Yeri, Navarra
14%, €14.95
A very moreish ripe bouncy red wine with herby aromas and vivid, pure black fruits. A real crowd-pleaser to drink alongside turkey and ham.
Stockists: O’Briens

Posted in: Irish Times

Leave a Comment (0) →

Wines to keep you warm this autumn


First published in The Irish Times, Saturday October 7th, 2017

I cling to the dying days of summer for as long as possible, hoping against hope that the days won’t get shorter and the temperature won’t drop. Sadly, inevitably, the weather has changed, the leaves are turning and autumn has arrived.

As the season changes we move on from the lighter wines of summer to something a little more warming, not necessarily to anything quite as big and powerful as the robust winter reds, but we certainly drink more red wine, or white wines with a little bit more body and texture. We still drink fresh, crisp whites and light reds from time to time, of course, but many of us instinctively drink seasonally. Sales of rosé plummet, and of red wines increase, once the sun disappears.

Choosing a wine is as much about mood as about the food you are serving. I often find myself returning to old favourites, such as the Protocolo below. Like a favourite old coat or jacket, or a cosy blanket returned to the sofa, they offer a certain comfort at this time of year.

My favourite autumnal wines include mellow Riojas, some of which can have a definite aroma of autumnal undergrowth, as does mature Pinot Noir. Both are perfect for all of those game dishes that become available for the next few months, or pork with roasted vegetables – onions, butternut squash and root vegetables. If you add a couple of apples the white Château Saint Auriol below would work well. If you add a little spice a fuller-bodied Grenache or Shiraz would be perfect.

For white wines with a little more richness and body, go for Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne or maybe a Godello, from Spain. All of these work really well with white meats and fuller-bodied fish dishes. I had a great fish pie this week that was perfect with a medium-bodied Chardonnay. Chenin Blanc from South Africa also has that comforting cushioned richness that seems just right on a colder evening. I have also enjoyed several warming curries in the past few weeks. My lamb bhuna worked a treat with the Grenache Noir below on a damp Thursday evening; the Château Saint Auriol went nicely with a creamy chicken curry.

Around this time of year all of those back-to-school expenses start to bite. If you are self-employed the taxman is waiting impatiently for his annual payment. So, this week, four budget wines, all widely available and all well under €15, to keep us warm in the cooler evenings.


Protocolo 2014, Castilla, Spain 13.5%, €10.95

An old favourite that is on song. Light, smooth cherry fruits with a hint of vanilla spice. Perfect all-purpose wine. From branches of O’Briens

Tesco Shiraz 2016, Limestone Coast, Australia 14.5%, €9

Instantly gluggable full-bodied red with generous blackcurrant fruits and a nice seam of acidity to balance it out. Serve with red meats. From branches of Tesco

Château Saint Auriol Chatelaine Blanc 2015, Corbières, France 13%, €12.99
Perfumed, medium-bodied, textured white wine with peaches and toasted nuts. Serve with creamy chicken or pork. From branches of SuperValu

Grenache Noir 2016, JC Mas, Sud de France 13.5% €8.49
Soft, seductive ripe strawberry and raspberry fruits. Another good all-purpose wine. Serve with red or white meats. From branches of Aldi

Posted in: Irish Times

Leave a Comment (0) →

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.

Posted in: Daily Drop

Leave a Comment (0) →