Champagne and Sparkling Wines – ideal for New Year Celebrations

Champagnes and Sparkling wines have a celebratory status no other wine has.

Sparkling wines range from light Italian Prosecco, more affordable crisp Cava, elegant steely Champagnes to rich, heart warming toasty sparklers from warmer New World vineyards and red Sparkling Shiraz from Australia.

The classic blend of grapes for sparkling wine (Champagne in particular) is Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This combination develops fruitiness with firmness and fragrance.

Good Champagne should have complex toast, nut, butter and biscuit flavours, and the bubbles should give a tingling sensation to balance the flavour.

 

Here are a few to try…

La Tordera Prosecco, DOC Treviso, Italy, 10.5%alc, €14.99

The limited production allows the single bunches to reach a perfect degree of ripeness. Delicious, light and pleasant with a fruity fragrance.

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, 11.5% alc., €14.99

Crisp and delicious citrus apple, lime flavours exude with delicate crispness.

Graham Beck Brut NV, Robertson, South Africa, 12% alc., €22.99

Tart red berries and green apples in a refreshing crisp sparkling wine with a light biscuity touch adding complexity. Light and zesty with rich apple fruit.

Bouvet Saumur Brut 2008, Loire, France, 12.5% alc., €23.99

Chenin Blanc based with quite exotic ripe spiced pear fruit. Very crisp and fresh, lively small bubbles and a long delicious finish.

Champagne Forget-Brimont 1er Cru, 12% alc., €39.99

Fresh, light, bready nose with balancing acidity and a light creamy coating in the pear fruit.

Rose Champagne Forget-Brimont 1er Cru, 12% alc., €44.99

Delicious nose of red fruits. In the mouth, sensations of ripe red fruits – blackcurrants and redcurrants. Fresh and elegant finish. Perfect harmony between the richness of the Pinot Noir and the firmness of the Chardonnay

All the above are perfect alone, with fish, fresh salmon or seafood..

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences

Wines for Christmas Day

On these cold frosty nights with fires blazing, radiators hopping and the Christmas tree lights sparkling, there is nothing more warming than a delicious glass of wine!
With Christmas just a few days away it’s time to stock up on your wines…Here are some ideas bringing you from aperitif to digestif.

Apéritifs/Sparklers
Drinks before dinner have a really important purpose: they get the appetite stimulated. This should be a very simple, dry, crisp and light wine that can be drunk easily without food; light Italian whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Champagne/Sparkling wine.
• Custoza, Zenato, Italy Normally €10.99 Special €7.99
• Pere Ventura Cava Brut, €13.99
• Forget-Brimont 1er Cru Brut Champagne €39.99

Starters
It’s probably a good idea to keep the starter wine simple in taste, something crisp and cleansing. Salad based starters work well with most dry whites; Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, crisp Chablis or Unoaked Chardonnay. Soup suits medium bodies Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and indeed rosés and sparkling wines .
• Pinot Grigio, San Giorgio, Normally €9.99 Special €8.50
• Norte Chico Unoaked Chardonnay, €10.99
• Sauvignon Blanc, Hunky Dory, Marlborough, €11.99

Turkey/Ham/Goose
Turkey and ham go well with a very wide range of wines, red and white. A merlot based Bordeaux, Burgundy, a soft Pinot Noir, or something more full bodied such as a Ripassa from Italy, Chateauneuf du Pape or Australian Shiraz are ideal. If you prefer white wine go for something with plenty of fruit and body. A rich Chablis, Chardonnay, oaked or not or a Sauvignon Blanc. If you are having goose, a rich textured Pinot Gris, an off dry German Riesling or once again a Pinot Noir are the best choice.
• Domaine des Malandes Chablis, €18.99
• Domaine des Malandes Chablis 1er Cru Normally €23.99 Special €20.99
• Wakefield Chardonnay, Normally €12.99 Special €9.99
• Dandelion Chardonnay, Australia €14.99
• Wakefield Pinot Noir, Normally €12.99 Special €9.99
• Domaine Gayda T’air d’oc Syrah, France €12.99
• Forrest Estate Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough, €22.99
• Zenato Ripassa 2006, Italy Normally €19.99 Special €15.99

Christmas Cake or Pudding
Christmas isn’t the same without a bottle of something sweet and sticky. Whether with pudding, Christmas cake or blue cheese, a glass of something fortified or dessert wine is an essential part of Christmas Day. Dessert wine will keep for up to a week in the fridge, Port and Sherry will last a few weeks.
• D’arenberg The Noble Riesling 2006, Australia €21.99
• Chateau Filhot Sauternes 2005, France €22.99
• Valdivia Pedro Ximenez, Spain €16.99
• Elysium Black Muscat, California €14.99

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Domaine Gayda T’air D’oc Syrah 2009

Languedoc, France
Blue skies, dazzling sunlight, cypress, pine, and olive trees bowed by the force of the mistral wind, rocky terrain, and tiny villages with medieval towers – this is the South of France. Stretching along the Mediterranean coast between the Italian and the Spanish borders, this area is also an enormous viticultural zone, Languedoc-Roussillon alone representing a third of France’s total vineyard area.
Red wines account for nearly 90% of production. The hillsides have been planted with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, while mature vine Carignan has been nurtured to produce wine of greater character. These grape varieties, combined with increased investment and modern winemaking techniques, mean that Languedoc-Roussillon appellations now produce some of France’s most exciting wines – rich, characterful blends with the distinctive imprint of this region. It has become France’s answer to the New World.
There are several ways of spelling Syrah, including Sirah, Syra, and even Schiras. In Australia, it is known by the names of Shiraz, and Hermitage after the famous French vineyard.

Domaine Gayda T’air D’oc Syrah 2009, 13.5% alc, €12.99
Domaine Gayda has captured the spirit of the Languedoc in this wine. Using delimited fruit from the famous La Clape region, this displays a pure varietal character enhanced by judicious use of oak. Heady notes of blackcurrant, spice and violets lead to a smooth, yet brightly fruity palate.
If you like wines that have soft tannins and are fruity with subtle oak, are medium to full bodied, you will love this wine…Just Yummy…
and can be enjoyed solo or with turkey, chicken casserole, beef, pies, vegetarian chilli, spicy cheeses or pizza..
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
What is the difference between French Syrah and Australian Shiraz?
This is the same grape. French Syrah is deeply coloured and full bodied with flavours of black fruits, pepper and burnt rubber. Australian Shiraz is a riper and more intense style of wine, due to the warmer climate.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Primitivo (Pree-mih-Tee-voe), Puglia, Italy

Puglia, Italy
Primitivo is a deep coloured wine from the Puglia area in south eastern Italy. Puglia has very flat land in the south of Italy. For grape growers the living is easy: it is sun-scorched through the long summer months; rain falls obediently during the winter months long after the grapes have been harvested; grapes generally ripen beautifully with little annual variation; and land values are a tenth of the value of what they are in the north of the country.
The earliest knowledge of Primitivo is that it originated in Greece. It has been called many things, but is also known as the father of Zinfandel grape which is now so popular in California. It is genetically identical to California’s Zinfandel, although it makes quite different wines. Primitivo is rich and concentrated with zesty cherry and clove fruits, soft on the palate with blackberry and raspberry flavours and a spicy finish. The extreme south eastern provence of Salento is where the finest reds come from; when you taste the best wines from Primitivo you can see something of the spicy berry flavours of Zinfandel shining through.

San Giorgio Primitivo Salento 2008
Normally €10.99 Christmas Cracker Special €8.50
This Primitivo oozes deep aromas of berry, ripe cherry and plums. It is soft on the palate with blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, balanced with a wonderful light spiciness and a dry lightly tannic finish.
If you like wines that have soft light tannins and are super fruity and medium to full bodied, you will love this wine… and can be enjoyed solo or with lamb, pork, beef, ribs, roasted red meats, game, spicy cheeses or pizza..
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
What to do with leftover wine?
Leftover wine should be poured into the smallest appropriate bottle size, sealed with the original cork if possible, and kept in the fridge. It should then be finished off within 24 to 48 hours, as deterioration will quickly set in.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau
Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes, produced in the Beaujolais region of France. It is the most popular vin de primeur, fermented for just a few weeks, then officially released for sale on the third Thursday of November.
What gives Beaujolais Nouveau its particular character is the method by which it is fermented: carbonic maceration. Instead of crushing the grapes to break the skins and let the yeasts and sugars get at each other, the grapes are hand picked and carefully handled so that they remain whole, with the skins unbroken. Bunches of whole grapes are placed in a vat; the grapes at the bottom are crushed by the weight of those on top and begin to ferment in the normal way, but the rest ferment individually, berry by berry. Because this fermentation takes place within the grape, the colour and flavour are extracted from under the skin, and much of the tannin on the outside is therefore excluded.
The result is a soft wine, ideal for drinking young. Beaujolais Nouveau is dominated by fruity, ester flavours of bananas, figs and pear drops. These are enhanced by the frequent recommendation to serve the wine lightly chilled, at approximately 13 degrees Celsius.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2010
The Beaujolais Nouveau taste is the pure taste of Gamay: the light, but vivid purple pink wine oozes with soft, juicy fruit, from raspberries to strawberries to plums with hints of bananas and figs. This is extremely gluggable wine…
If you like wines that have virtually no tannins and are super fruity and light bodied, you will love this wine…Beaujolais Nouveau with its fruity notes and light body bridges the gap between red and white wine drinkers and can pair with everything from squash to turkey to cranberry sauce, salads, roasted meats, pork and cheese all compliment and are complimented by this young wine..ENJOY..
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
What does Tannin do to young/old wines?
Tannins taste hard and astringent in young wine, but act as a preservative for long lived wines, softening with age.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

McLaren Vale, Australia

McLaren Vale
The McLaren Vale made its name producing wine. The region is on the outer suburban fringes of Adelaide, rimmed by Gulf St Vincent to the west and the Mount Lofty Ranges to the east. The former cools this warm grape-growing region, while the latter offers higher altitudes, up to 350m; which are increasingly being explored.
Some of the roundest and biggest Australian Shiraz wines can be found in McLaren Vale. Reaching high alcohol levels is effortless in this warm climate; this allows the riper tasting spectrum of Australian Shiraz to be explored: blackberry, liquorice, chocolate, raisin, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In the early 1900’s, McLaren Vale Shiraz was hailed for its iron qualities and even prescribed by doctors to restore the vitality of anemic patients.

Dandelion Vineyards McLaren Vale Shiraz Riesling 2007
Dandelion vineyards receive a ***** (5) star rating in James Halliday’s Wine Companion 2011.

Dandelion Vineyards McLaren Vale Shiraz Riesling 2007, 14%, €14.99
The colour is a deep red with hints of violet on the edges. Intriguing rose petals and a summer pudding of lifted red fruits, berries and a little marmalade from the Riesling leap through the nostrils. Wild cherries, blueberries, mulberries, liquorice and opulent red berries form the juicy palate which is balanced by soft velvety tannins, chocolate and supple spicy oak.
If you like wines that have smooth tannins and are full bodied, you will like this wine…If you like berries and chocolate with a juicy mouthfeel, you will love this wine…
Perfect solo or with rich pasta dishes and red meats with winter herbs.
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
Why Store Wine?
As Wines sit in the bottle, a series of chemical reactions takes place that changes relatively simple fruity flavours to more developed, complex tastes. In reds, the colour becomes lighter, the tannins get softer, and the wine takes on aromas such as leather, cedar or mushrooms. Whites deepen in colour, become less sweet and more intense. Typical aromas of a mature white wine include nuts, wax and even diesel. The effects of oak barrels; hints of vanilla, coconut, and spice, lessen in all wines as they mature.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Botalcura Syrah Malbec 2007

Botalcura Syrah Malbec 2007, Maule Valley, Chile
Botalcura is a small village in the Maule Valley, set among rolling hills, that the gorgeous climate paint with a broad range of ever changing colours. The Maule Valley is Chile’s largest wine producing valley with 43% of the country’s total plantations. The entire region enjoys a hot, dry summer and a fairly long growing season. The Maule Valley features three distinct climatic areas; maritime climate in the west towards the coastal mountains, mediterranean climate in the inner mountain valley, and the Andean foothills have rocky, well drained soils and a climate that is influenced by the cooling effect of the mountains.
This Syrah(70%) Malbec(30%) showcases the synergy between these two great varieties. The Syrah lends grip and structure, while the Malbec provides colour, aromatic complexity and volumptuous body..The result is a remarkably intense, fruity and voluminous wine. It has been barrel aged to compliment the luscious grape flavours. The Syrah Malbec blend is gorgeous youthful, and will also be rewarding to an ageing of 4-5 years.

Botalcura Syrah Malbec 2007, Maule Valley, Chile, 14%
Normally €12.99 Special €9.99
Deeply complex and alluring, with ripe blackberry, black cherry, violets, black pepper and nutmeg. Juicy and full bodied with ripe brambly fruit flavours and vanilla hints leading to soft tannins and a smooth finish.
If you like wines that have smooth tannins and are full bodied, you will like this wine…If you like brambly fruity wines with a juicy mouthfeel, you will love this wine…Super Value!
Perfect solo or with beef, chilli, duck, ribs, spicy sauces, steak or hard cheese.
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
What does Complex mean when describing a wine?
A wine with many layers of aroma and flavour – many different fruits, plus other characteristics such as spice and vanilla. Complexity is one of the elements that separates an average wine from a good or great one. The most complex wines have typically gone through a period of ageing, allowing more flavours to develop.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Surani Vignapetrosa Unoaked Chardonnay 2008

Surani Vignapetrosa Unoaked Chardonnay
This is a boutique wine at an affordable price. It won a Silver medal at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2010.
Surani is located in Manduria, on a small estate only six kilometres from the Ionic sea, in sunny Apulia. The sandy and clay soil, the intense light and the fresh breeze that gently blows from the adjacent sea, contribute to the distinctive character of this chardonnay with mineral notes and crisp acidity.
The precise taste of Chardonnay is hard to pin down. What is often thought of as the Chardonnay flavour is actually the flavour of mass market New World Chardonnay. It was Australian Chardonnay that first got people hooked; splendidly oaky and laden with tropical-fruit flavours. That is largely the flavour of an oaked wine made in a certain fashion from very ripe fruit, rather than the flavour of the grape itself.
Chardonnay stripped down to the bone is seen in unoaked Chablis and Australian unoaked Chardonnay. Neither have been near oak barrels, or gone through malolactic fermentation (a process which takes place after alcoholic fermentation which converts the harsh malic acid to softer, creamy lactic acid)
Unoaked Chablis is light, crisp and appley with a green tinge leaving your mouth refreshed. Australian unoaked Chardonnay is fuller bodied, with a flavour like pineapple in syrup. Each reflects the climate in which the grapes were grown: coolish for Chablis and hot for Australia. This is more like the chablis taste.
If you’ve ever said “I don’t like Chardonnay” or “anything but Chardonnay” you might think differently after trying this unoaked Chardonnay.

Surani Vignapetrosa Unoaked Chardonnay 2008, Italy, 14%
Normally €13.99 Special €11.99
Rich and textured, pure unoaked Chardonnay with refreshing peach and apricot. Soft and round with a delicious fresh crisp acidity.
If you like wines that have crisp fruits and are medium bodied, you will like this wine…If you like fruity wines with a refreshing mouthfeel, giving out lashings of apricots you will love this wine…Delicious wine at an even more delicious price!
Perfect solo or with pasta; spaghetti alle vongole, broccoli and ricotta , seafood and shellfish dishes.
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
Serving Order for Wines..
-White before red, although a light bodied red can be enjoyed before a full bodied white.
-Dry before sweet wines, this avoids making the wine taste excessively acidic.
-Light before heavy reds- lighter wines tend to taste thin after a heavier example.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Heading due east from Rome lays the region of Abruzzo. This is a historically poor region whose people inhabit the hills and mountains so prevalent in the province. The hillsides are excellent for viticulture. The most popular red grape is the Montepulciano, although many other grapes are grown here most notably Sangiovese.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was designated as a DOC in 1968. It covers most of Abruzzo ranging from Molise in the south, the Marche in the north and inland against the Apennines Mountains. The wines are at least 85% Montepulciano with Sangiovese permitted, but not required, at up to 15%. The Riservas need to be aged a minimum of two years before release, with at least 6 months of that in wood.
The Montepulciano grape grows easily in Abruzzo. It is plump with high amounts of juice. The grape has a deep purple and ruby color to its juice. It has lower acidity (especially for an Italian varietal) and mild sweeter tannins. The resulting wines tend to be softer and more accessible than Chianti or Nebbiolo for example. Accordingly, the young wines are nice pleasurable reds that go as well with food as without it.

Il Bucco Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008 DOC, Italy, 12.5%
Normally €10.50 Special €8.99
Light in alcohol, but smooth and richly fruity, with dark cherries. Bags of gluggable dark fruits with soft cherry charms. This wine certainly over delivers at the price. A gorgeous Montepulciano that is soft, fruit driven, juicy and mouthwatering.
If you like wines that have silky tannins and are medium bodied, you will like this wine…If you like fruity wines with a smooth mouthfeel, giving out lashings of cherries you will love this wine…Delicious wine at an even more delicious price!
Perfect solo or with pizza, chicken or tomato based pasta dishes.
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
Storing Wine
The majority of wines sold today are designed to be enjoyed young. Almost all mid priced bottles will survive in a rack for around two to three years, but are likely to deteriorate if left for longer. Traditionally, most wines worth cellaring were from the Old World, but age-worthy bottles are now created by the finest producers elsewhere, too. If in any doubt, it is always better to drink a wine too young rather than too old.
Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences

Bardolino, Zenato, Italy

Bardolino
Bardolino DOC is situated on the South East shores of Lago di Garda (Lake Garda). Garda is Italy’s biggest Lake, located almost at the foot of the Italian Alps, it is surrounded by lots of small towns and villages. Bardolino is a small town with just six thousand population, it is much loved by tourists for it’s scenery, wines and beaches, while it’s ancient part hides lots of cozy gourmet restaurants. Bardolino is made from exactly the same Corvina-Rondinella-Molinara/Sangiovese grape mix as Valpolicella, and offers the same cherry fruit and almondy finish, in a lighter and softer vein due to the slightly cooler climate.
I am constantly searching out lower alcohol wines as I like to be able to drink a decent amount of wine before reaching my limit too early in the night! I enjoy a red wine that offers a little freshness, and good Bardolino has a great refreshing bite.
Bardolino would be a great introduction to red wine for a white wine drinker, light but full of flavour with delicious cherries and red fruits.

Bardolino, Zenato 2009 DOC, Italy, 12%
Normally €10.99 October Special €7.99
Light in alcohol, but deliciously juicy, ripe cherry and red fruits jumping out of the glass. Light, fragrant, racy and dangerously easy to drink.
If you like wines that slip down easily you will love this wine…If you like wines that have silky tannins and are light bodied, you will like this wine…If you like fruity wines with a fresh mouthfeel, you will love this wine…Delicious wine at a delicious price!
Perfect alone or with pasta, charcuterie, white meat or meat salads.
Delicious De Cecco Pastas and sauces available in Dicey Reilly’s Off Licence…

This Week’s Snippet of Info…
Why are some red wines more tannic than others?
This depends on a few factors..
a)grape variety; eg bardolino has lower tannins than nebbiolo which is the grape used to make Barolo which is a full bodied and intensely powerful wine,
b)skin contact; winemakers can monitor and manage the tannin extraction from the grape skins through the length of their contact with the juice,
c)oak; oak ageing can also impart tannins to the wine,
d)climate; wines from cooler regions have a typically hard tannic taste, whereas those from hot countries have softer riper tannins.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon
And good independent Off Licences