The wine fair in Dublin’s Mansion House on 30th January by Wine Australia was truly inspirational. From the hundreds of wines available for tasting, three distinct themes emerged. Consistency amongst high-quality wines representing many diverse and unexpected grape varietals and blends and from less familiar regions. Here is a sample of some exceptional wines offering value for money including in the higher price bracket.
1. Riesling 2016, La Bohème Act I, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Food friend: Perfect as an aperitif or with chicken fried rice with star anise and saffron.
€20 at On the Grapevine, Dalkey; Ely, Maynooth; Cooler’s, Swords; The Wine Well, Dunboyne and Lilac Wines, Fairview.
This dramatic blend of Riesling with Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris is in the Gentil style of Alsace whites. Floral aromas of rosewater from the Gewürztraminer give a feminine character that delivers in a light-bodied dry wine with the purity of the Riesling’s steeliness embossed with the richness of the Pinot Gris.
2. The Stump Jump 2016, d’Arenberg, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Food friend: Serve with seabass steamed with Chinese Five Spice, bay leaf and lemongrass.
€14 at Dunnes Stores and selected independents.
A quartet performance by four varietals. Perfumed lime juice of Riesling and its citrussy acidity sings through to the long finish, underpinning the honeysuckle and golden fruits of the Roussanne and Marsanne and the grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc.
3. Riesling 2017, Exquisite Collection, Clare Valley, South Australia
Food friend: Match with the freshest mackerel and grill.
€9.99 at Aldi nationwide.
Classic mineral and lime zest aromas of Clare Valley Riesling. Friendly attack of salted lemon and a purity of citrus fruit. Light bodied but intense. The acidity is interwoven and delivers a wet slate mineral finish.
4. Semillon 2016, Mitchell, Clare Valley, South Australia
Food friend: Partner with pork medallions in a cream and mustard sauce.
€19.95 at Searson’s, Monkstown and searsons.com
Seductive aromas of cream and vanilla custard. Contrasting palate of pithy kumquats and cream. Integrated vanilla flavours from fermentation in oak barrels. Light bodied but not light in flavour. A wine that will reward aging for several years.
5. FSW8B Botrytis Viognier 2017, Yalumba, Wattonbully, South Australia
Food friend: Savoury salty blue cheese or paté – or a dessert of fresh fruit flan and vanilla cream.
€25.99 – 375ml at SuperValu, Sutton; The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Whelehans Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown; Dollard & Co Retail, Wellington Quay and Redmond’s, Ranelagh.
A natural honeyed wine made in the same classic way as Sauternes, with the noble rot of botrytis to release the water from the grapes’ juice and concentrate the fruits natural sweetness. The added beeswax and honeycomb aromas from the botrytis add complexity to the heady perfume. Deliciousness in every drop, contrasting apricot and tangerine fruits lingers endlessly on the after taste.
6. Fiano 2017, Chalk Hill, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Food friend: Enjoy with a platter of shellfish grilled on the shell.
€21.95 at Searson’s, Monkstown and searsons.com
Aromas of lemon curd and elderflower. Concentrated flavours with a nervous balance between the apricot flesh and lemon zest. Crisp and fresh; delicate and focused.
7. Pinot Noir-Syrah 2017, Giant Steps, Healesville, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Food friend: Savour the wine and serve with a simple grilled steak.
€29.99 at The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Thomas’s, Foxrock and Wineonline.ie
Fruit-forward Pinot showing ripeness of red fruit scents and contrasted by a meaty savouriness from the blending with Syrah. Outstanding depth of flavour and balance from an eccentric blend that over-delivers and delights.
8. Terzetto 2013, Kangrilla Road, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Food friend: Serve with dark game meat.
€18.95 in O’Brien’s Wine stores nationwide.
Named after a musical term for three instruments is apt for this harmonious trinity of Italian varietals: Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo. The Italian accent of elegance echoes on the palate. The flesh of Primitivo’s blackberry fruit is given a tannic frame with Nebbiolo’s tannins and refreshed by Sangiovese’s mouth-watering acidity. Full-bodied but with the alcohol well-integrated.
9. Syrah, Grenache, Mataro 2014, Apostrophe Possessive Reds, Frankland River, Western Australia
Food friend: Keep it classic with a roast leg of lamb speared with sprigs of rosemary and slivers of garlic.
€18-€19 at Grape & Grain, Bakers Corner & Leopardstown Inn; Morton’s Ranelagh; Baggot Street Wines; The CoachHouse Ballinteer and Drink Store, Stoneybatter.
Western Australia is more associated with boutique wineries and Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes than this popular Australian blend typical of South-Eastern Australia thousands of kilometres away. Subtle black fruit aromas yield quickly to a full-bodied palate of very restrained and beautifully balanced earthy and musky flavours with the Mataro (Mourvèdre) providing the steely frame.
10. La Brutta Zinfandel/ Petite Sirah 2016, Nugan Estate, Langhorne Creek, New South Wales
Food friend: A barbecue’s delight, smoky ribs, spicy sausages and char-grilled burgers.
€14.99 at SuperValu nationwide
Meaning The Beast, this gentle giant delivers a powerful palate of ripe blackberry fruits that ripple over the taste buds. This duo of varietals is more associated with California. The tannic Petite Sirah (aka Durif) gives structure and counteracts any jaminess from the Zinfandel. Mouth-watering and juicy with the hefty alcohol held in balance with the depth of flavour.
11. Barbera 2016, Chalk Hill, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Food friend: Match the high acidity with tomato based or creamy dishes – a cheesy lasagne.
€24.95 at Searson’s, Monkstown and searsons.com
Muted aromas with a hint of raspberry and red cherry. Refreshing raspberry fruit flavours, accentuated by Barbera’s typical high acidity and gentle tannins give a lively and exhilarating character that finishes with a peppery spice finish.
12. 18 Eighty-Nine Tempranillo 2017, Brown Brothers, Victoria
Food friend: Savour with duck in a hoisin sauce.
€19.95 at Parting Glass, Enniskerry; La Touche, Greystones; Blackrock Cellars; Jus De Vine, Portmarnock and Redmond’s, Ranelagh.
Fragrant red fruity aromas of cherry cordial. Red cherries follow through on the palate. Full-bodied with a warming alcohol finish cosseting gentle tannins and a smooth texture.
13. Mencia 2017, The Anthropecene, d’Arenberg, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Food friend: Pair with slow-cooked beef olives in a rich sauce.
€25 new to the market and at independent wine specialists including Martin’s, Fairview and Grenham’s, Ballinasloe.
Savoury aromas of sausage meat and an assertive entry on the taste buds of sappy red and blackberry fruits. Gripping tannins hold the interest. Light-bodied, tart and crunchy redcurrant fruits finishing with a leafy edginess.
Liam Campbell is one of Ireland’s most experienced wine writers. His work has been featured in the pages of numerous publications, most recently as the Wine & Drinks Editor for The Irish Independent, as well as in Irish Homes, Easy Food and The Dubliner magazines.
Besides writing, his involvement in the world of wine goes deeper: he’s an approved WSET educator and holder of a WSET Diploma, Diploma in Craft Beer & Cider, and he has worked as a judge in international wine competitions and as a wine consultant.