Lamb and tempranillo

As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. Thank you.

IN this week’s Irish Examiner Weekend (April 28, 2012), I’m suggesting some fragrant Spanish reds as a great pair for roast lamb. While I have a relaxed attitude to matching (really, most wines will be okay with most dishes) I do believe you can optimise both wine and food with a little thought. And the first thought about lamb is not to lump it in with beef under the heading ‘red meat’. That category is far too broad.

An oak barrel is fired at a cooperage in Ribera Del Duero, Spain. Picture: Blake Creedon

The flavour of lamb is really quite delicate, often augmented with savoury, sweet and bitter herbs and spices. Unlike beef, it doesn’t really beckon the astringent tannins you might find in a well-made cabernet merlot such as a Bordeaux. Take inspiration from the delicacy of the meat and its fragrance, and pair lamb with an elegant red. And one of the best quick one-stop-shops – good Spanish red. Generally it’ll be a tempranillo, often blended with other indigenous grapes such a graciano and mazuelo – and indeed sometimes with ‘international’ grapes, especially cabernet.

As I mention in the column, the character of tempranillo plus ageing in barrel and in bottle add up to one of the wonders of the wine world. While many countries in the new world permit their wine industries to throw around words like ‘reserva’ willy-nilly, this is serious business in Spain. There, the term really does mean something. The different Denominación de Origen (DO) regions of Spain have different rules but the broad outline of the ageing is as follows.

Joven (young) or Cosecha (literally ‘harvest’) wines are relatively rarely seen in Ireland — young, fresh, generally unwooded and unassuming. Roble (oak) is sometimes put on the label to signify that a young wine has spent some time in oak – but that it hasn’t spent sufficient time to qualify it for  the ageing system as follows…
Crianza literally means upbringing or breeding, and this is the rank at which you really see Spain’s super quality/value ratio. The wine will have spent at least six months in oak (or a year in the case of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero DOs. Be aware though that Sin Crianza means without such ageing.
Reserva is the next step up the scale. In the case of reds, the term means that the wine has spent at least three years ageing, at least one of which must have been in oak, imparting increasing complexity and colour to a wine. Rosado (rosé) and white reservas spend a shorter six months in a barrel and two years in a bottle.
Gran Reserva wines tend to be the top of a winery’s range, and only produced when they regard the vintage as particularly good. A red gran reserva will spend two years in wood with a further three long slow years maturing in the bottle. Whites and rosés get six months in barrels and four years in bottle.

As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. Thank you.

While the longer-aged reds will often be luxuriantly complex, don’t presume a gran reserva will always be better than reserva or a crianza. In my experience tasting hundreds of Spanish wines side-by-side, the younger grades often achieve remarkable degree of subtlety.

One of the wines I recommend (a reserva at M&S) is a perfect example, being the middle tier of its range. At Lidl also, I’ve tasted a cheap-as-chips Joven which prejudice might suggest wouldn’t be worth looking at, but which my senses of smell, sight and taste suggest would be well worth putting on the dinner table.

Bear in mind personal taste. And shelf-life. While the longer-aged bottles are designed to be bought and enjoyed years or even decades after vintage, their lease isn’t limitless. Just like ourselves, they too will fade past their peak. And at any one time a less preposessing grade such as a crianza may outshine its posh gran reserva stablemate.

As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. Thank you.

In-store tastings today in Carrigaline and Midleton

♦ Today (April 28, 2012) there are in-store tastings of Nugan Estate wines (including the super McLaren Parish Shiraz 2008 which I think is good enough value at its regular price of €17 but which is reduced now to €12) at the following venues.
SuperValu Midleton from noon to 3pm;
SuperValu Carrigaline from 3.30pm to 6pm.

♦  Also today (Saturday April 28) Chris Pfeiffer will introduce some of his wines, including a tremendous rich, sweet muscat that I love all day in Karwigs, Carrigaline.

Beer and curry in Lismore

On Friday April 27  O’Briens Chop House in Lismore, Co Waterford  is again presenting a four-course beer and curry feast in association with Green Saffron spices, and the Dungarvan and Eight Degrees breweries. It begins at 7:30pm and is topped and tailed by “homemade mango, chilli and ginger Bellini” (oh my) and chai to finish. €42.50 per person. Phone them on  058-53810 and see  obrienchophouse.ie.

As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. Thank you.

Beerfest in Galway

The third annual Brewers On The Bay festival takes place in Oslo, Galway, on May 5 and 6.If you’ve visited this or similar events you’ll know the drill already – barbecue, music and the delicious beers being made by some of Ireland’s fine microbreweries. And if you haven’t dipped into such events yet, it’s about time you did. I’m shocked, shocked I tell ya, by the many people I meet who appreciate good food and wine but who are as yet oblivious to the revolution that’s been happening under our noses, solely because by habit they don’t associate beer with taste. Beer and cider are the wine of Ireland. And it’s time to take a hint from the url www.winefoodbeer.com and wake up and smell the hops.


As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. Thank you.

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It’s all in the best possible taste

If you are involved in importing or retailing wines and have a tasting or dinner coming up anywhere in Ireland, please send brief details to blake[dot]creedon[at]examiner[dot]ie as soon as possible. Ta!

Wine fairs and tastings

Thursday October 28 —  Tuscan treats at Blackrock Castle Wine Club

Bubble Brothers is celebrating its appointment as agents for Avignonesi estate wines with a Blackrock Castle Wine Club session presented by Alessio Guidi. It all takes place at Blackrock Castle Bar & Trattoria, beginning at 7.30 pm. You can also avail of the special €20 deal to ‘dine before you wine’ at the trattoria from 6pm to 7pm.

These events do fill up fast so book now on 01 4316000 or www.bubblebrothers.com.  Non-members can join for one night for €25.

Thursday November 4On The Grapevine Wine Fair, Dalkey

Another hundred wines (phew!) will be open for tasting between from 6pm and 9pm at Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel for On The Grapevine’s wine fair.  Tickets are €10.  The shop will be offering discounts of up to 25% on some wines  on the night. Drop in to the shop on St Patrick’s Road, phone 01 235 3054, or see www.onthegrapevine.ie for details.

Two dinners with wines from Bodegas Valdemar

Bodegas Valdemar wines are on show in Galway and Straffan

Wednesday November 10 —  Bodegas Valdemar dinner at The g.

There’s luxury on a remarkably tight budget on offer at the g Hotel when Cristina Alvarez Flores presents a five-course gourmet wine dinner with wines from Bodegas Valdemar on November 10.

Wines from that most upmarket of posh Rioja houses will be teamed with executive chef Stefan Matz’s menu drawn from “exquisite organic Connemara smokehouse smoked salmon, fresh fish caught in Galway Bay and quality cuts of meat from McGeough’s butchers in Oughterard.”  Couldn’t put it better myself.  I don’t know the details of the menu but am drooling at the thought of McGeough’s succulent air-dried lamb which I think is particularly well suited to a well-made Rioja.

Tickets are a very reasonable €69 per person including a welcome reception and a five course meal with wine. To book, phone 091 865200 or see www.theghotel.ie.

Friday November 12 —  Bodegas Valdemar dinner and B&B at Barberstown Castle.

Barberstown Castle’s website is a little less forthcoming on the details but broadly you can expect something similar to the above, relocated to Straffan, Co Kildare. They are offering a combined dinner and B&B package for €149 per person sharing. And while you can’t book dinner alone online, give them a bell and it’s yours for €75.

While you’re at it, take a look at some of Bodegas Valdemar’s Irish retailers  including James Nicholson and SimplyWines and of course the winery itself.

Valdemar

Valdemar's Alto Cantabri vineyard

November 14 Corkscrew Winter Wine Fair

This is the annual winter wine fair of one of the best remaining independent wine shops in Dublin city centre, The Corkscrew on Chatham Street. A hundred-plus wines will be open for tasting from 1pm to 6pm at the Westbury Hotel just around the corner. Tickets are €25, and proceeds go to Cheeverstown House, Templeogue, which offers education and support to children with intellectual and other disabilities from pre-school age up. Drop into the shop, phone 01 674 5731 or see www.thecorkscrew.ie for details.

November 18 Christmas Wine Fair – Cases Wine Warehouse, Galway

Fifteen importers will be pouring 120 wines and beers from around the world for your delectation. 6.30pm to 10pm in the store on the Tuam Road — which Tomás Clancy named his Sunday Business Post Wine Warehouse of The Year, no less. Tickets are €20 and all the proceeds go to Console, the charity which offers counselling and support to families who have lost a loved one to suicide. 091 764 701  www.cases.ie.

November 18The 10th Cork Wine Fair

Hosted by O’Donovan’s, this annual event is a massive affair. This year’s takes place from 4pm to 9pm at the Clarion Hotel, Lapp’s Quay, Cork.  Some 400 wines from O’Donovans’ impressive list will be available to sample, along with beers and tasty food samples. Plus, for the really dedicated wine fan, there will be a handful of focused masterclasses conducted by Jean Smullen and John McDonnell.  Tickets are €10 and available from any of the 15 O’Donovans branches in Cork City and County. All proceeds go to the Cork Simon Community.

November 24Gibney’s Wine Fair,  the Grand Hotel, Malahide

The people at Gibney’s of Malahide know what they’re talking about: This year they won the NOffLA Off-Licence of the Year Award for their third time, and their annual fair is one of the most highly anticipated wine events in the calendar.  Get tickets (€15) and further details in store, on 01 8450606, or via cheers@gibneys.com. All proceeds from ticket sales go to local schools.

Late November / early December Blake’s Favourite Fifty Australians

MY column and blog can never provide what they’re intended to inspire — the pleasure of enjoying  good company and a decent glass of wine. Well, here’s a rare opportunity for me to thrust a glass into your hand, saying ‘here, try this’.

Wine Australia, which represents much of the industry, has given me free rein to put together a list of wines from down under.  All 50 or so will be open to sample in a Cork city centre location (to be confirmed) for one evening only. Tickets will be €20 and booking opens in mid-November.

I’ve long been convinced by the depth and breadth of quality wines made in Australia. But the process of whittling down the prospective wines (it was at 90 or so just a few weeks ago) has come as an eye-opener even to me: Trust me, there are all sorts of treats on the final list. Scrap that. Don’t trust me – come along and suck it and see. It promises to be a fun evening.

I’ll be updating the details here as soon as it’s all confirmed.

November 26 to 28Taste of Christmas, the Convention Centre, North Wall Quay, Dublin

This is a bit different to the other fairs. Sponsored by Marks & Spencer, it’s being run by the people behind the Taste Of Dublin and Taste Of Cork festivals.

The Convention Centre is the venue for Taste Of Christmas

The centrepiece is a 50-minute live show in the 2000-seater auditorium.  Presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin will be mixing it up with chefs Kevin Dundon and Gino D’Acampo and guests (including Heston Blumenthal) who will be demonstrating inspiration for cooking and entertaining.

There are also open-ended tastings organised along the lines of the Taste festivals where customers buy ‘florins’ to exchange for food and drinks. Tickets start at €19.50.  The whole thing is quite a bit more structured than regular wine fairs, so do phone 0818 30 00 30 or look up  www.tasteofchristmas.ie for details. ♦

 
 
 
++++++++++++++++   I’ve moved a handful of previous events down here just for the record an ting   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
October bank holiday weekend Pick your own Hallowe’en applesCELEBRATE Hallowe’en (and reconnect your concept of food to the field it came from) by taking yourself and the children to pick your own apples at Con Traas’ farm between Cahir and Clonmel over the bank holiday weekend — 10am to 5pm on October  23 and 24. These are the youngest, smallest trees on the farm, so the fruit are  easy to reach. You only pay for what you pick.  Phone 052 7441459 and see  www.theapplefarm.comfor details.If you’re still not convinced, or if you’re wondering why yer man is holding forth about apples  on a wine blog, please take a look at this postfrom earlier this year.
 
 
♦ TOMORROW, Wednesday October 20 , Cases Wine Warehouse, Tuam Road, Galway, is hosting a  food and wine night at Cava Restaurant, on Dominick Street, Galway. The focus is on the food and wine of Mallorca, with a five-course tasting menu of Mallorcan tapas, created by JP McMahon of Cava, accompanied by wines from the Anima Negra winery, presented by winemaker Miguel Angel Cerda.One of the many details that tickled my interest in this event is the dessert course. You can choose between a PX (that uniquely Spanish unctuous dessert wine made with the Pedro Ximénez grape) and a special edition Tyrconnell whiskey conditioned in Anima Negra wine casks. Cool or what?Dinner starts at 7pm. Get details and tickets  (€37.50) from Cases Wine Warehouse, Riverside Commercial Estate, Galway, 091 764701 or on www.cases.ie.♦ Tuesday October 19 Blindfold tasting dinner, Augustine’s restaurant, Cork
Cork City Slow Food convivium is hosting a blindfold tasting dinner tonight from 6.45pm at Augustine’s restaurant in the Clarion Hotel on Lapps Quay. The idea is that by temporarily removing the cues we get from one sense, sight, we intensify our focus on the others — touch, taste, smell, and even hearing. After each course, chef proprietor Brendan Cashman and sommelier Frank Schiltkamp will discuss the dish with the participants.Normally costing €25, this special edition of Augustine’s tasting menu costs €40, or €35 for Slow Food members, and it is accompanied by a glass of wine. To book, email Elke on elkepacey@hotmail.com and see www.augustines.ie.
 
 
 

Suck it and see…

Edit: I’m leaving these posts up but please note I quit writing drinks columns here and in The Irish Examiner in 2012 and your host nowadays is Leslie Williams. Do pop over.

Howya horse!

THE big noise on the Irish wine web now is all about the fab four Australian tasting opportunities in September – the Tim Adams Clare Valley event touring to Cork, Ennis and Galway, and Phil Sexton’s Yarra Valley evening in Dublin.

But if I were to choose just one wine event in September 2010, it would have to be the other tasting headliner next month, Wines from Spain – The New Way on September 9, 2010. Hosted by the Spanish Embassy’s commercial office, it’s going to be the biggest Spanish wine event ever in Ireland.

More than 200 wines will be available to sample, represented here and at the tasting session by 20 of Ireland’s most prominent importers including Approach Trade, Barry & Fitzwilliam, Febvre, Findlater, Gilbeys, Mackenway, Searsons and organic wine specialist, Mary Pawle.

Tutored tastings such as the Aussie ones are very useful as a spotlight. But big open-ended tastings like the Spanish event provide the floodlight. An open tasting is the best opportunity you will ever have to delve into grapes and styles and regions.  Trying a wine on its own will tell you much about that specific one. But trying it side-by-side with its peers is far more informative and interesting, and can often provide a revelation about relative quality and value for money. To quote yet again that old advert for throat lozenges,  the message is to suck it and see.

It takes place on Thursday September 9, 2010, at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin 2, from 6.30pm – 8.30pm.  Book tickets (€20) from Sarah Currey on 01 240 5387 or scurrey@harmonia.ie and see the Wines From Spain Ireland  blog for more.

Here comes the bit about horror movies, Madrid, lollipops and Salvador Dalí

Edificio Carrión in Madrid

♦ THE picture at the top of the page is King Charles III’s horse eyeing up the advert for Tio Pepe sherry in Puerto del Sol in the heart of Madrid. There’s a bloglet about the history of the famous sign here.

I snapped it one day a few years ago, inspired by a new-found enthusiasm for giant outdoor advertising in Madrid… Well one advert in particular, the animated neon Schweppes sign in the nearby Plaza del Callao, left.

Unfortunately I can’t find my pic right now. The pic I’ve used here comes from Blog de Adolfo‘s post about Edificio Carrión.

I know little about horror films but greatly enjoyed a movie I stumbled upon some years ago, El día de la Bestia (The day of the beast) a fine horror / satire / comedy by Alex de la Iglesia. The Schweppes sign is the location for a key chase scene which also features a hilarious literal gag. I’d recommend a look, and hope the trailer on YouTube here will whet your appetite.

That movie shares its affection for the geography of Madrid with another excellent film, Pedro Almodóvar’s Carne Trémula (Live Flesh). It’s a treat, not least for its metaphorical use of locations, many of which it shares with the Iglesias film, especially the twin leaning towers of the Puerta de Europa.

Chupa-Chups logo

Dalí’s original design

Now where was I? Oh right. Suck it and see. Which reminds me of a snippet of info about another bit Spanish commercial design.

You know that familiar logo for the Chupa-Chups brand of lollipop? Well it’s is an updated version of a design originally created in 1969 by none other than Salvador Dalí.

See here, here and here. Cool or what? ♦

Range rovers at Bubble Brothers

AS with any biggish wine tasting, some interesting themes emerged as I lurched around the recent Good Wine Show in Cork.

Three retailers ran the 'Good Wine Show' tasting in Cork.

First there’s the relatively rare phenomenon where I find myself becoming an enthusiastic advocate of a winery’s entire range.  Sure, the world is awash in ‘good’ wineries, any of whose products one should be happy to consume, and whose wines could sit nicely in anyone’s drinking repertoire. But some ranges are further impressive by providing something interesting, characterful and of good value in every one of its wines, at all price points and in each wine style it makes.

The two wineries scattered among Bubble Brothers’ stands that impressed me so were Mas Codina and Ch Jouclary.

Mas Codina pulled off this mightily impressive trick across the widest variety of styles – white, red, rose and sparkling. And a pair from Ch Jouclary was like a tutorial in what oaking adds to, and subtracts from, a wine.

Of course Bubble Brothers was only one leg of the stool at that tasting, the other two being Curious Wines of Bandon and Karwig’s, Carrigaline – both of which also sell online. I’ll be following up here shortly with my Christmas dinner wish-lists from all three, along with other Irish retailers.

In today’s Irish Examiner I’m suggesting you try out a pair from Ch Jouclary and all four wines from Mas Codina. At the Bubble Brothers stands I also revisited some of their smashing wines such as those from Mount Langi and Yering Station, and below are a handful of others I’d highly recommend.

Marlborough is of course the best-known and most sought-after region in New Zealand, the north-east coast of cool South Island made famous by the smashing but grossly over-rated Cloudy Bay. That winery, and the many others which have successfully emulated it, makes wines whose exotic pungency is a treat for me and many wine lovers. But frankly the excitement can also be exhausting, and can easily scare the womenfolk and servants.

Further to the west, nestling in a sheltered north-facing bay, lies the region of Nelson. It strikes me that the wines from there tend to be more simpatico, more rounded and reasonable citizens than the Marlboroughs.

Brightwater Sauv Blanc

And so it is with the alert, vibrant Brightwater Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (€16.95), with all the urgency you’d expect of a premium Kiwi sauv blanc, but that flash accompanied by the bang of gorgeous complexity. I also greatly appreciated the freshness, wonderfully complex nose and generous length of Brightwater Vineyards Riesling 2008 (€18.50).

And finally, if you’re musing about what wine Santy might pop in your sock, how about Agostino Pavia e Figli La Marescialla Barbera Superiore 2006 (€26.95). This is superb. Generous, complex and seemingly going on forever, its elegant richness all about seducing rather than overwhelming your palate. Habitués of Bubble Brothers might be more familiar with the estimable Bricco Blino Barbera 2007 (€16.95) from the same producer but if you’ve the bobs I’d suggest you consider its more upmarket stablemate cos I think its one of those cases where each extra euro really does count. Yum!

+++

BUY these wines online from www.bubblebrothers.com, or at Bubble Brothers’ shops in Cork at The English Market and Marina Commercial Park, Centre Park Road.

The following stores stock wines from the Bubble Brothers range.

Cork City: JJ O’Driscoll’s, Ballintemple; O’Keefe’s Delicatessen, St Lukes Cross; Sunday’s Well Corner Shop; The Rendezvous Bar, Model Farm Road;
Co Cork: Ballycotton Seafood, Midleton; Harrington’s Deli/Café, Ardgroom; Lucey’s Butchers, Mallow; O’Callaghan’s Delicatessen, Michelstown; Stuffed Olive, Bantry; Taste, Castletownbere; URRU, Bandon; West Cork Gourmet, Ballydehob.
Clare
Jayne’s Off License, Ennis.
Dublin
Butlers Pantry at Greystones, Sandycove and Temple Hill; Morton’s of Ranelagh, Rathmines; Wilde & Green, Milltown, D6. Galway Mortons; The Vineyard.
Kerry Jack’s Delicatessen, Killorglin; John R’s Delicatessen, Listowel; O’Driscoll’s Off Licence, Cahersiveen.
Waterford Nude Food, Dungarvan;
Airports Travel Value Retail at Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports.

Tasting Spanish down the hall

Bubble Brothers is holding a tasting from 7.30pm to about 9pm or 9.30pm next Wednesday August 19 at their recently revamped wine warehouse on the Marina in Cork City.

The theme is Spain, and you’ll be tasting eight to 10 wines in the congenial company of Julian Alubaidy. Tickets (€10) from Bubble Brothers’ shops at the Marina or the English Market; by phone on 021 431 6000, or from http://www.bubblebrothers.com.

This is the second in their new series of public tastings and, going by the success of the first (at the Aga shop near Lapp’s Quay in Cork) it’ll be a fun night out.  Sure where would you be going?

Enowine

Tasting dispenser at Enowine

Tasting dispenser at Enowine

Warning – wine ahead

• Enowine, The Crescent, Monkstown, Co Dublin (01 230 3500)
• Enowine, Mayor Square, IFSC, Dublin 1 (01 636 0616).
www.enowine.ie

THE two Enowine shops are unique, offering dozens of their range for tasting all day every day, the bottles arranged in dispensers around the shop, the whites and rosés in coolers of course.
You get a little ATM-style debit card at the counter where you also charge it up for a tenner or whatever amount you want to spend – the 25ml tasting samples start at 50c. Help yourself to one of the good, generous glasses they offer, put the card in the slot of the section you want to start with, and off you go.

Wine ahead

Wine ahead

I had a long-overdue catch-up tasting at Enowine’s IFSC this week where I found quite a few to recommend, and four or five that stood out as extraordinarily good. Although I’d recommend all the wines below, I’d particularly highlight

[] The gewürztraminer
[] Boschkloof cabernet sauvignon
[] Vigna Piccola Chianti Classico
[] Corbières
[] Bodegas Martué

Especially amid the convulsions in the banking and economic life of this country, I couldn’t help feeling the IFSC is a strangely ironic location for Enowine. The suck-it-and-see openness, and the way the store puts authority back into the hands of us ordinary people exhibits pretty much the opposite philosophy to the deranged property pyramid scheme that we’re all paying for now. By the way, that road sign above alerting oenophiles to impending wine is on Custom House Quay not far from Enowine.

 

The Crossings

The Crossings

 


The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand 2008 €14.99.

No surprises here in a handsome fragrant wine that runs the gamut of kiwi sauvignon blanc — from fresh firm acidity to flashes of richer tropical fruit. The safe but rewarding bet of today’s two sauvignons.

3 Stones Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand 2008 €13.95.
Buckle up! Especially when compared to Enowine’s estimable, poised Crossings sauv blanc, this is an exciting roller-coaster ride up and down the kiwi spectrum of the grape, from grass and asparagus to lemons and pineapple. A bargain.

Becker Gewürztraminer Alsace 2004 16.95.

gewürztraminer

gewürztraminer

The gewürztraminer grape, mainly grown in Alsace, in Eastern France, and Germany isn’t for everyone as it can be overwhelmingly intense. Typically exhibiting heady, floral aromas, an often unctuous texture and apparent sweetness (even when it’s quite dry) wines made from this grape just don’t fit in with our expectations of what wine can – or should – be.  A pity, as it can be a delicious glassful, and even an excellent food wine offering exciting contrast to highly spicy food. This is a very good example, its floral perfume matched by ripe tropical fruit, its sweetness leavened by an almost minty minerality.

Chateau Saint Florin Rosé Bordeaux 2008 11.99.

An untaxing, dainty compromise between the much derided but entirely valid blush style and a full-throated rosé, this surprisingly characterful pink cabernet merlot blend would be excellent company on a warm summer afternoon.

Champy Macon-Uchizy 2007 €14.50.

A rare appearance by Burgundy on this blog, this certainly earns its place — complex, elegant and long, it’s good value compared to its peers among premium chardonnays from anywhere else in the world. Just don’t ask me to pronounce its name.

Beaumirail Vacqueyras Noir et Or 2007 13.

Confusingly, the producer, Gigondas la Cave, bears the name of a neighbouring appellation. But there’s no mistaking the rich elegant parade of red fruit and spice from this southern Rhone blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre.

 

Bodegas Martué

Bodegas Martué

 

Bodegas Martué vino de la Tierra de Castilla 2007 12. 99.

Another eureka moment — the nose alone recommends this Spanish red blend (tempranillo, cabernet and perhaps syrah). Don’t be fooled by its lack of pretension: the come-hither of its scent is followed up by a gorgeously nuanced, complex, elegant wine.

Unlike all the other bottles featured here, this excellent Spanish red doesn’t seem to be listed on Enowine’s online shop but I presume that’s a temporary aberration.

Arnaud de Lamy Ch Fontareche Tradition Corbières 2006 €10.95.

Corbières

Corbières

The bargain of the bunch, this grenache, syrah and carignan blend has all the generosity you’d expect from this appellation and much of the subtlety you wouldn’t expect.

Il Vescovino Vigna Piccola Chianti Classico 2004 €15.99.

One of my favourites at the tasting, this is gorgeous fragrant sangiovese, stuffed with a generous platter of fresh red fruit lifted by touches of savoury herbal notes.

 

Boschkloof

Boschkloof

Boschkloof Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch 2000 (14.99, six for 60).

My money-no-object favourite of the bunch, this South African is stunningly rich and complex, its beautifully nuanced red fruit and spice evolving in front of your eyes. A big wine for when merely big just isn’t enough. ♦

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