As my friends never cease to remind me, I have a great job. They have a point. Over the past 12 months I have tasted hundreds, probably thousands of wines. As always, there was a sea of well-made but unexceptional bottles.
But I also had the privilege of tasting some truly amazing wines, the kind that stop you in your tracks. Sadly, many of them were expensive. It would have been easy to choose from these alone, but that would not have been of much interest to most Irish Times readers.
I could have easily chosen 100 wines but space does not permit. So, today a selection of wines costing from €7.99 to €35 that stood out as offering something special. Most made an appearance in The Irish Times during the year. Others are simply great wines that I couldn’t leave out.
I have included a few that are widely available, but inevitably some of the best wines are only available through specialist independents.
Callejuela Amontillado Sherry NV
A wonderful glass of wine, deeply flavoured with tangy, toasted nuts, dried fruits and a saline bite, finishing bone dry. A great aperitif or with Jamón ibérico, cheeses and pâtés.
From: 64 Wine, Green Man Wine, Baggot Street Wines, Lennox Street GrocerRedmond’s, Blackrock Cellar, Clontarf Wines, Whelehan’s, A Taste of Spain.
Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage NV
A delicious fruit-filled rosé champagne brimming with ripe redcurrants, raspberries, and orange zest. The perfect way to kick start Christmas alongside some nibbles, or with salmon or lobster.
From Sweeneys D3, wineonline.ie, Blackrock Cellar.
Laurent Miquel Côte 128 Viognier 2021
Nicely textured with apricot and peach fruits, a touch of toasted hazelnuts bound together by a crisp, refreshing acidity. Try it with chicken dishes or oriental prawn and crab recipes. Exceptional value for money.
From select Dunnes Stores.
San Lorenzo ‘di Gino’ Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2020
Nicely textured with a hugely appealing mix of nuts, green apples and citrus zest. Good with lighter tomato or herb-based pasta dishes.
From 64wine, SIYPS.com, Sheridans, The Allotment, The Fumbally, The Store Next Door (Westport), MacCurtain Wine Cellar (Cork).
Seeberg Pinot Blanc 2020, Burgenland, Prieler, Austria (Organic)
An utterly delicious wine with inviting gently floral aromas, followed by textured pear and yellow stone fruits that linger very nicely. Enjoy it with richer fish dishes, and roast pork or chicken.
From Martins, D3; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; 64 Wine, Glasthule; DSix, Harold’s Cross.
Saint Véran ‘Les Chataigniers’ 2020 Domaine Saumaize
A very impressive, richly textured Burgundy with vibrant lightly honeyed orchard fruits. Perfect with both salmon and turkey, a nut roast or macaroni cheese.
From Grapevine, Dalkey.
Dão Touriga Nacional 2021, Mimo Moutinho, Edicao Limitado
Light juicy morello cherries and blackcurrants with light tannins on the supple finish. Perfect with cold meats, mild cheeses or light chicken dishes.
Rizzardi Bardolino Classico Cuvée XV 2021
Smooth and very moreish with ripe crunchy dark berry fruits and light tannins on the finish. Fantastic value for money.
El Castro de Valtuille 2021, Mencía Joven, Bierzo, Raúl Pérez
A richer style of Mencía, with dark cherries, redcurrants and a seductive savoury note. Enjoy with herby roast pork, lamb cutlets or roast Mediterranean vegetables.
From Green Man Wines, D6; 64 Wines, Glasthule; Baggot Street Wines; Lennox Street Grocer, D8; Pinto Wines, D9; La Touche Wines, Greystones; thenudewineco.ie; Liston’s, D2; Manning’s Emporium, Ballylickey; Morton’s, D2; Mitchell & Son, IFSC, Glasthule.
B by Fonbadet 2019, Bordeaux
Luscious svelte cassis and dark chocolate with smooth tannins. Great with red pepper stew or lamb cutlets.
From Deveney’s, Dundrum, Drinkstore, D7; Clontarf Wines; Redmonds, D6; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; The Grapevine, D9; Baggot St. Wines and many more independents.
Luis Seabra Xisto Ilimitado 2019 Douro, Portugal
Taut lively blackberries and plums with a strong mineral streak, fine grippy tannins and a refreshing finish. Thrilling wine. Try it with pork, either charcuterie or grilled pork chops.
From Lilith, D7; Sweeney’s D3; Green Man Wines, D6; Blackrock Cellar; Loose Canon, D2; Pinto, D9; Redmond’s, D6; La Touche, Greystones; Martin’s D3; Baggot Street Wines.
Sancerre Silex Rouge 2020, Domaine Delaporte
Gorgeous, pure soft silky dark cherry fruits that are so seductive. Voluptuous yet refreshing with real depth and concentration. Try it with grilled chicken or duck or a cheesy frittata.
From Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown.