Published in The Irish Times, Saturday 10th June, 2017
Lidl launches its Italian wine sale next Monday. It is more modest in scale than their annual autumn French wine sale, which usually includes plenty of top Bordeaux at very attractive prices. There are 28 wines included in the offer, some of which are already in stock. Almost all are very inexpensive, the vast majority less than €10, with only two pitching in at more than €15. The white wines are all refreshing, lightly textured and unoaked, and will make decent budget summer drinking, although some seemed to be rounded off by a few grams of residual sugar. I am not a fan of this, but I know many of you are. As well as the white wine below, look out for the fresh tropical Falanghina Sassi del Mare (€7.99), and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano (€9.99) with its layered pineapple and red apple fruits, balanced by a reviving acidity. If you are planning a refreshing summer cocktail, you could add some pomegranate juice (and maybe a few seeds) to the Pinot Grigio Rosé Spumante (€10.99).
As for the red wines, I can see the ripe, rounded Cannonau di Sardegna (€7.99) being popular when the barbecue comes out, or you could go for the grippier Rosso di Montalcino (€8.99) with its dark cherry fruits. I won’t claim that the Barbaresco below will compete with any of the top Nebbiolo from the region or neighbouring Barolo. However, it is a very drinkable bottle of wine. My favourite wine, however, is the Chianti Colli Senesi Medici Riccardi. From one of the best subregions of Chianti, the 2015 vintage (2014 was on sale until recently) is a wonderfully light, elegant wine with plenty of succulent fruit. It will go very nicely with pork, chicken and lighter red meats in the coming summer months.
While on the subject of Chianti, I recently tasted an excellent range of wines from Castellare, one of the top estates in Chianti Classico, the subregion that is home to almost all of the great Chianti. Castellare has never gone for the rich and powerful style of wine, preferring lighter, more refreshing, food-friendly wines. Quality has always remained high, and prices reasonable compared with many of their rivals. Their Chianti Classico 2014 is excellent, and the importer is waiting for stocks of the equally good 2015. I would also look out for their superb I Sodi di San Niccolo 2012 (Wines on the Green), the very best wine from the same producer; at €66 it may seem expensive, but it is far cheaper and superior to many of its ‘Super-Tuscan’ rivals. In recent weeks I have also enjoyed the Rocca delle Macie Vernaiolo Chianti 2014 (JNwine, €14.99) with its supple light savoury dark cherry fruits.
Müller Thurgau 2016, Südtirol Alto Adige 13%, €9.99
Rounded ripe apple and pear fruits, with good cleansing acidity. Lovely summer drinking.
Chianti Colli Senesi 2015 Medici Riccardi 13%, €9.95
Clean refreshing red cherry fruits, good acidity and pretty good length for a wine at this price.
Lightly fragrant nose, smooth elegant summer fruits with a pleasant savoury finish.
Chianti Classico 2014, Castellare di Castellina 13.5%, €22.99
An excellent sophisticated harmonious wine with elegant ripe dark cherry fruits, a refreshing seam of acidity and a lingering finish.
Stockists: Wines on the Green; 64 Wines; Fresh; Kelly’s, Clontarf; McCabe’s; McHugh’s.