ShelfLife Special Tasting: Some bargains for Autumn

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Costcutter Dunmanway store front at night

Helen Coburn highlights her choice of wines that fit the bill in terms of providing something special for Halloween, Christmas and New Year



8 September 2011

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autumnThis summer was strikingly short of wine trade tastings, in sad reminder of the fact that many companies don’t believe that Ireland is worth marketing to right now. Things look like picking up in autumn but, meanwhile, as times are so tough, our tasting group had an informal session to see what wines we thought were delivering particularly well for their price. That’s going to be particularly important in this year’s seasonal run up, as value becomes the dominant theme.

The wines below are not absolutely entry point, partly in order to reflect the slightly higher wine spend that characterises the pre-Christmas period, and partly because the €9-€16 price band has a larger proportion of wines which over-deliver on price. Though they are unlikely to trade up regularly, most wine drinkers will want something a bit special for Halloween, Christmas and New Year; hopefully the wines below will fill the bill without busting the wallets. Prices approx retail.


Cuatro Rayas Verdejo Rueda Spain 2009 (Bubble Bros €12.50) Flavoursome, delicious, hints of gooseberry and tropical fruit – great with fish and white meat.

Castillero del Diablo Reserva Chardonnay Chile 2009 (Irish Distillers €9.50). Rounded chardonnay with good body for the price.

Baron de Badassiere Picpoul France 2010 (Liberty €10). Good value wine from a lesser known French grape, grown in coastal area of the Languedoc.

Cave de Hunawhir Pinot Blanc France 2009 (Liberty €11). Characterful, dry citrus flavours; perfect with pork, baked ham and monkfish.

Napa Cellars Mount Veeder California Chardonnay 2008 (Findlater €16). A bit of a treat, but very elegant with dry citrus palate and decent length. Good one for turkey and simply cooked lamb.

Redbank Long Paddock Chardonnay Australia 2008 (Cassidy €12.50). Very classy with dry citrus fruit and the tiniest hint of baked bread; good weight and finish.


Carmen Reserva Pinot Noir Chile 2009 (Dillon €11). Very sound value for money, adding a slight cassis note to the typical summer fruit palate. Would please those who decry pinot as being too light.

Borsao Garnacha Spain 2009 (Searson €9). Soft hearty fruit; perfect companion for steak or winter casserole.

Gallo Dancing Bull California Zinfandel 2008 (Cassidy €12). Solid stuff, with flavoursome bramble and plum fruits; good with game and beef.

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico Italy 2008 (Findlater €17). Not cheap but quintessentially Italian, with loosely textured cherry and plum fruit leading to lingering, tasty finish. Happy with virtually all meats and dangerously moreish.

Torres Celeste Ribera del Duero Spain 2007 (Findlater €14). We’ve recommended this before but its striking label makes it a great seasonal wine. Good inside too, though, with soft plum and blackcurrant fruits; good with turkey, game and lamb.

Dona Paula Malbec Argentina 2009 (Dillon €12). The Dona Paula range delivers well at all its price points but this classic malbec is especially tasty with its blackcurrant and damson notes. Perfect for beef and venison.

Old Coach Road Nelson Pinot Noir 2008 (Classic Drinks €16). New Zealand pinot noir comes in a wide range of styles and prices; this is very decent value with firm summer fruit and decent structure. Good with lamb and lighter meat casseroles.

Other treats worth their price

Valdivia La Rubia Manzanilla Jerez (Febvre €11.99). Dry sherry with hints of nut and grapefruit; try with nuts, olives, smoked salmon, prawns, sautéed mushroom tapas, and serrano ham.

Bisol Jeio Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Italy Sparkling nv (Searson €18). I bought some of this two years ago; recently we drank the last couple of bottles and they were unbelievably fresh for a sparkler that’s meant to be drunk young. The apple and citrus fruits have a satisfying depth and there’s lovely balancing acidity.

Cockburns Special Reserve Port (Barry & Fitzwilliam €12). A few months ago someone asked me what was the best everyday port for its price, and that impelled me to do a little private tasting and to consult the various tasting notes I’ve built up over the last few years. And this, I found, was my favourite for the money, with generous rounded fruit, good alcohol balance, just the right amount of sweetness and decent length. 




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