Six stylish summer reds
To enjoy a little Mediterranean languid pleasure without the use of a passport, the craggy sun-bleached mountain vineyards of France's southern coastal region, Languedoc, or d'Oc, arching from the Rhone river towards the Spanish border has a well-deserved reputation for rich and savoury reds.
These are heart-warming wines, full-flavoured by blending the fleshy strawberry character of Grenache with the backbone of the blackberry and tarry personality of Syrah, aka Shiraz.
The polished leather of Mourvedre and the red-berry crisp fruit of Carignan all add to the different dimensions of the wines.
Non-local varieties may be used to encourage experimentation and innovation. Most use Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines transplanted from Bordeaux for the reds, and these wines are usually classified under the Pays d'Oc classification, recently renamed Indication of Geographical Protection (IGP).
Savour the flavour of the south. Sante!
1) L'Autre Versant 2009 Domaine de Bebian, Pays d'Oc, 14pc
The bouquet of freshly shaved pencils suggests long ageing in prime quality, French new oak barrels. Delicious cassis and purple-skinned fruit subtly spiced with nutmeg.
Its Claret-like character is not surprising as it comprises Bordeaux's best grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Match with a Moroccan lamb tagine with chopped prunes and couscous.
€18.99 at Wines on the Green, Dawson Street, and Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4; winesonthegreen.com
2) Chat-en-Oeuf 2011 Boutinot, Pays d'Oc, 14pc
The spicy black-fruit fragrance surrenders easily to ripe and fruity flavours of juicy black berries and a gentle grip of tannins. Match with a meaty mixed grill of lamb chops, beef sausages and rashers with potato cakes.
€9.99 at Supervalu; Next Door off-licences and Superquinn nationwide. Molloy's off-licences Dublin citywide
3) Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2011 by Comte de Monteney, 15pc
More earthy than ethereal aromas contrast with more forward flavours of red fruits and white pepper associated with the fleshy and very potent Grenache dominating the blend.
The weight of fruit in this full-bodied red submerges the alcohol. A contemplation wine to retreat with a nutty Cheddar-style cheese.
€12.99 at Aldi nationwide
4) Domaine de Bisconte 2011 Cotes du Roussillon, 13pc
Classic rosemary and thyme scents of the local wild herbal 'garrigue' vegetation. Black and red-berry fruits are highlighted with black pepper and framed with oak which lingers on the long finish.
Serve with burgers of minced lamb with rosemary burgers and garlic potatoes.
€13.15 at Next Door at: Malthouse, Templemore and Corcoran's, New Ross; Jayne's, Ennis. In Dublin: Searson's, Monkstown; On the Grape Vine, Dalkey; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Nolan's, Clontarf; Baggot Street Wines; Higgin's, Clonskeagh, and Lilac Wines, Fairview
5) Cote Sud 2010 Domaine Lafage, Cotes Catalanes, 14pc
Perfumed with ripe cherry and lush blackberries. This 'South Side' wine is intensely flavoured with black fruits and peppercorns. Firm tannins hold interest.
Partner with duck and a star anise and plum sauce.
€13.99 at Swan's on the Green, Naas. In Dublin: Deveney's, Rathmines and Dundrum; Morton's and Redmond's, Ranelagh, and D-Six, Harold's Cross
6) Chateau Millegrand 2011 Minervois, 13pc
Pungent and intriguing aromas of spicy black pudding, orange zest and white lilies. Assertive, spicy ripe berries in a velvety smooth texture.
A meaty and masculine style that would love a T-bone steak.
€16 at Dunnes Stores nationwide