The term dupe is often used in the beauty and fashion industries when referring to the affordable lookalike of a luxury item. It is understood that it won’t be exactly the same, but generally, “dupes” are expected to have the main features of the high-end product they resemble and in the case where they become recommendable, they’ll be of very good quality, even thought they lack the brand appeal.
It might be the case of an outstanding own label item on the shelves of a discount retailer, or perhaps a producer itself decides to launch a less pricey creation to reach a wider demographic. For non-wino examples, Fender would be one of the dearest guitar brands but they make Squier, which would be the affordable “dupe”. Think Lexus and Toyota, if you are into cars.
When it comes to wines, once you know what it is that you love about the regions that have earned their place in the Parthenon of vinous opulence, it is possible to discover bottles that deliver similar pleasures without the pocket pain.
Love Chablis? Perhaps a cool climate Chardonnay from a less famous region will satisfy you. Have a soft spot for Bordeaux? A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and perhaps some Cab Franc from a continental climate region might do the trick.
Below, five popular styles of fine wine and a budget friendly “dupe” to explore.
The map of fizz might be expanding but the Queen of bubbles remains crowned. While Prosecco might be the go-to choice when looking for an affordable bubbly, if you want to stay closer to the ultimate indulgence that is Champagne, sourcing a sparkling wine made with the “Traditional Method” makes sense.
Knowing that Champagne’s grape varieties of choice are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier will also come in handy as fizz based in these will more closely resemble what we know and love about Champagne.
Brimoncourt Brut Régence NV Champagne
A lively, elegant and refined Champagne made with 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. A pleasant mix of refreshing zesty citrus and a more complex toasted background, think almond croissants.
Price €52.60 – Available at Latouche Wines, Donnybrook Fair, Blackrock Cellar, The Corkscrew.
ON A BUDGET
Crémant de Loire Brut
This vibrant Crémant combines Chardonnay with the Loire’s local favourites, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc into a crisp and light bodied fizz. Expect aromas of grapefruit, and a delicate greenness and minerality.
Available at Lidl
While Burgundy and California are the two places that come to mind when looking for a big, buttery Chardonnay to treat your taste buds, sometimes, you’ll struggle to find a satisfying bottle in these regions if you’re hopping to keep things under €20. While it’s not impossible, looking South might bring rewards…
La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent 2012
This complex Chardonnay is aged for 15 months on fine lees, combining vats and small barrels, which translates in a full body and delightfully creamy texture. Notes of nectarines, lemon curd and honeysuckle contrast with a mineral tension in a wine of elegance and a long finish.
Price €33.95 – Available at Whelehans Wines, Redmonds, Clontarf Wines, McHughs, 64 Wines.
ON A BUDGET
Salentein Barrel Selection Chardonnay
Argentina’s Uco Valley offers a cold climate haven for fine Chardonnay and this full bodied example offers the pleasures of buttery, aged Chardo with a combination of ripe lemons, green apples and juicy nectarines. Punching above its weight, it’s a rare sight on its price bracket.
Sancerre has made a name for itself as the ruler of Sauvignon Blancs with finesse, to the point that many who love the wines from this Loire Valley sub-region, have little love for less elegant Sauvs from other regions. If you fancy its flinty, crisp wonders, you could try some of its more affordable cousins. In fact, you don’t need to even leave the Loire to stumble into budget friendly alternatives such as Touraine or Menetou Salon.
Sancerre Les Hautes Pierres 2016
A textbook example of the appellation, lean and mouth-watering, with a tense balance between fruit and mineral; on one side, zesty limes and green melon and on the other, a flinty character.
ON A BUDGET
A crisp and adequate rendition that offers a pleasant taste of the famous appellation for a fraction of what you’d usually expect to pay for. Grapefruit and green necterine notes are delivered along a subtle greenness with a sharp acidity.
Available at Aldi
Have a soft spot for tantastic Napa Valley Cab Sauvs, and Bordeaux blends and Rioja Gran Reservas? Who doesn’t? But, let’s be real, if you’ve made it this far on this article, chances are, they’re are not on your shopping cart every #WineWednesday. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a big and beautiful red that won’t break the bank!
Chateau La Renaissance Pomerol 2012
This power duet between Merlot and Cabernet Franc offers layer after layer of goodness. Ripe plums, cranberries and blackberry preserve on the fruit front, combined with toasted cocoa beans, vanilla and clove. Smooth and moderate tannins that wrap your palate like a velvet cape will give way to a long, pleasant finish.
Available at Donnybrook Fair
ON A BUDGET
Doña Paula Los Cardos Cabernet Sauvignon
Luja de Cuyo, within Argentina’s Mendoza Valley features the high altitude that gives grapes intense exposure to sunshine and cooler nights, a combo that allows for generous and concentrated wines such as this Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberries, cassis and a subtle peppery touch are its main notes.
Available at SuperValu
If you enjoy more the softer shades of red, you’ll know this: Pinot Noir has expensive taste. The variety loves it in Burgundy’s and California’s pricier sites and even up and coming Central Otago in New Zealand comes at a premium. Is there any hope to find good PN without incurring in a second mortgage?
Maison Marchand-Tawse Volnay 1er Cru
A star within stars, this diva comes from the commune of Volnay, between Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune and Mersault. It’s complex union of earthy, floral and sour cherries, evokes a summer day of foraging. It’s gentle but assertive use of oak (19 months, 20% new) confers an extra punch to its subtle character and moderate tannins.
Available from Pembroke Wines and selected restaurants
ON A BUDGET
Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas
On Chile’s Leyda Valley, cool climate and a refreshing oceanic influence converge to help Pinot Noir stay fresh and happy. Juicy red cherries and cranberries are complemented by a mild spicy touch, courtesy of sensible oak ageing (30% of the wine saw a mix of new and used barrels). Low tannins and a light body.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.