Top 20 Festive Wines
Our wine expert is wishing for a white (and red and pink... ) Christmas with this seasonal selection of great value tipples
1) Sancerre 2012 Lacheteau, Loire 12.5pc
Zesty grapefruit and lemon with a mineral tang of the vineyard.
€10.69 at Tesco nationwide
2) Los Cardos Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Doña Paula, Argentina 12.5pc
Fragrant and fruity with citrus and passion fruit exotica. NOffLA New World White of the Year.
€13.99 in Dublin at The Vintry, Rathgar; Redmond's, Ranelagh; McHugh's; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Gibney's, Malahide; Sweeney's, Glasnevin; and O'Donovan's, Cork
3) Rueda 2011 Herederos del Marques de Riscal, Spain 13pc
Crisp and dry with mineral, lemon zest and juicy fruit.
€12.99 at SuperValu and Superquinn nationwide. In Dublin citywide: O'Brien's, Molloy's Liquor Stores and Next Door off-licences
4) Chardonnay & Grillo 2011 Romio, Sicilia, 12pc
Nutty almond flavours coated in an oily texture.
€9.99 at Matson's, Bandon; No 21 Coburg Street, Cork and Midleton; Red Earth, Mullingar; Next Door, Thomastown; Maguire's, Skibbereen and Bantry.
In Dublin: Simply Delicious, Foxrock and Magic Carpet, Cornelscourt.
5) Alpha Zeta "C" Chardonnay 2012 Italy 13pc
Fresh cream scents with crisp fruit and lemon curd richness. NOffLA White Wine of the Year.
€12.99 and widely available at independent off-licences and wine shops nationwide
6) Malbec-Cabernet Rosé 2011 Domaine Jean Bousquet, Argentina 13pc
Invigorating and bone dry with sour cherry and refreshing rhubarb fruitiness.
€13 at tindalwine.com and the 1601 Off-licence, Pearse Street, Kinsale
7) Tempranillo 2011 Maximo, Spain 13.5pc
Lovely ripe and vibrant blackberry flavours held by gentle tannins.
€10.99 McCambridge's, Galway; Marton's, Salthill; Swans on the Green, Naas; and Wine Centre, Kilkenny. In Dublin: Drinkstore.ie; D-Six, Harold's Cross; Higgins, Clonskeagh; Gerry's, Skerries; Jus De Vine and Blackrock Cellars
8) Rib Shack Red 2011 South Africa 14pc
The blend of Pinotage and Shiraz delivers spice, dark roasted coffee beans and blackberries topped with a creamy texture.
€11.20 at Dunnes Stores nationwide
9) Pinot Noir 2011 Brancott Estate, New Zealand 13.5pc
Smoky and meaty aromas. Spiced red fruits wrapped in a silky texture. Light tannins so it can be served fridge-cool.
€15.28 at Dunnes Stores and Tesco nationwide
10) Saint-Esprit 2010 Delas, Cotes du Rhone 14pc
Smoked bacon bouquet. Richly flavoured with spicy black pudding highlighted by red berry fruits.
€15.50 in Dublin: The Corkscrew; Londis, South Circular Road and Malahide; Nolan's, Clontarf; Morton's, Ranelagh and Ardkeen Foodstore, Waterford
11) Gibo Asti Spumante Dolce, Italy 7.5pc
Fragrant with apple blossom and freshly crushed grapes. All sweetness and light topped with a frothy crown.
€13.79 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
12) Cava Brut, Contestoro Spain 11.5pc €8.99
Toast and honey aromas but very dry with apple and peach flavours.
€8.99 at Aldi
13) Jeio Foie Bisol, D.O.C. Prosecco Frizzante, Italy 11pc
Delicious freshly pressed orchard fruit – apples and pears finishing dry and invigorating.
€18 at Wine Centre, Kilkenny; Next Door @ Forum, Waterford; JJ O'Driscoll's, Cork; and Ardkeen Foodstore. In Dublin: Searson's, Monkstown; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Next Door off-licences; Drink Store, Stoneybatter and Icebox, Finglas.
14) Prosecco Extra Dry Fantinel, Italy 11.5pc
Classic pear and lemon sherbet flavours rise above the blizzard of tiny bubbles.
€23.99 at Joyce's Supermarkets, Galway. In Dublin: Cooper & Young, Dun Laoghaire; Deveney's, Dundrum; Baggot Street Wines and The Corkscrew
15) Graham Beck Cap Classique Rosé Brut Vintage 2008, South Africa 11.5pc
Strawberries, brioche and cream. A classy pink fizz enjoyed at last summer's royal wedding of Sweden's Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill.
€25.99 in Dublin: Mitchell & Son; CHQ at IFSC and Glasthule; The Corkscrew and Dunnes Stores nationwide
16) Comte de Brismand Champagne Brut Reserve, 12pc
Chalk dry with Marietta biscuits dunked in tea richness.
€19.99 at Lidl.
17) Canard-Duchene Champagne Authentic Brut 12pc
Apple pie aromas with restrained flavours of fresh apple and lemon.
€31.49 from €41.99 until January 6 at O'Brien's 32 outlets nationwide
18) J Charpentier Champagne Brut Reserve 12pc
Delicate almond nutty aromas and fruity white peach flavours.
€34.80 from €38.70 until January 5 at wines direct.ie and Wines Direct shop, Mullingar.
19) Jean Comyn Champagne Harmonie Brut 12pc
Delicious with a freshly toasted bread and brioche palate.
€34.99 at all Molloy's 10 off-licences Dublin citywide.
20) Forget-Brimont Champagne Brut Premier Cru 12pc
Delicate and as brittle as melba toast. Lemon fresh and chalk dry.
€39.99 at Dicey Riley's, Ballyshannon; The Counter, Letterkenny and online at jnwine.com
Ultimate Mulled Wine Recipe
YOU WILL NEED
A bottle of young Chilean Merlot or Spanish Tempranillo to serve 4 to 6
1-2 dspns honey
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
2 tsps ground ginger or allspice
1 orange, sliced
1 orange, sliced for garnishing
Combine all ingredients in a large non-aluminum pot.
Warm on low to medium heat for 20 minutes (avoid boiling), stirring to dissolve the honey.
When the wine begins to steam, remove from heat and stand for five minutes then serve.
Ladle the mulled wine into cups garnished with a slice of fresh orange.
Introduction to Irish family wines at 7pm and the story of the Irish who dominate wine regions throughout the world.
Residents and non-residents: €20 per guest.
What is all the fizz about? Sommelier Robert will guide the best food match for cava, prosecco and champagne.
€30 per guest.
Ashford Castle reservations, call 094 954 6003.