Wine: Cream of the crop
This week concludes celebrating excellence in exceptional off-licences. Below are the winners in the specialist categories at the National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) 2014 Awards and a wine they highly recommend.
1) So Prosecco Extra Dry Superiore, DOCG Valdobbiadene, Italy 11pc
Feminine charm – fragrant with white peach and pear fruit also reflected on the palate, emphasised by the vigorous fizzing bubbles. The Extra Dry style flatters more than an ultra-dry Brut style. Tasty with wild mushroom risotto.
€22.49 - recommended by Judith Boyle at Next Door Off-licence, Kildare Town: RTC Online Trainee of the Year 2014.
2) Macon-Uchizy 2012, Mallory & Benjamin Talmard, Burgundy, France 13pc
Hay, white peach and apple aromas. Delicious, rich and flavoursome with white pepper lifting the orchard fruit. Classically Burgundian so very food friendly. Serve with roast chicken and a herby stuffing.
€16.99 - recommended by Julie Cullen, Jus de Vine Off-licence, Portmarnock, Co Dublin: Wine Specialist of the Year 2014.
3) Carmenere Gran Reserva 2008, Medalla Real, Santa Rita Estate, Colchagua Valley, Chile 14pc
Bouquet of seasoned leather. Concentrated baked red and black fruits unfurl in a velvety smooth texture. Superb and perfect now. Shred duck with a plum sauce on a nest of noodles.
€12.99 from €19.99 until end of May - recommended by Gary O'Donovan, O'Donovan's Off-licences, throughout Cork City: Specialist Off-licence Group of the Year.
4) Tempranillo Crianza 2009, Vinea Finca Museum, DO Cigales, Spain 14pc
Woody spicy bouquet. Full-bodied and blackberry fruit spiked with a subtle peppery and paprika spice flattered by gentle tannins. Stew over chorizo, white beans and red peppers in a tomato sauce.
€17.99 - recommended by Declan Martin, Martin's Off-licence, Fairview, Dublin 3: Customer Service Award of the Year 2014.
5) Independent Pale Ale, Independent Brewing Company of Ireland, Carraroe, Co Galway, 6pc
Caramelised apple pie aromas with a scent of hops. Very creamy texture, full-bodied and richly satisfying, finishing with a malty savouriness. Snack with a nutty Hegarty's Cheddar cheese and pickles.
€3.99 (500ml) - recommended by Garret Connolly and Catherine Noakes, Baggot Street Wines, 17 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4: Beer Specialist of the Year 2014.
6) Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Domaine des Anges, IGT Vauclause, France 14.5pc
Black fruity scents and a woody note. Very fruity palate in a sunny Californian style. Full-bodied, firm and ripe tannins hold interest and add structure. Serve with a steak dabbed with a barbecue sauce.
€13.99 from €15.99 until mid-June - recommended by Joel Durand, Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, Co Dublin: Best First Time Entrant 2014.
7) Armagnac VSOP Brandy, Chateau de Laubade, AC Bas Armagnac, Gascogne, France 40pc
Subtle mellow spices smouldering under a fiery spirit. Spicy wood notes persist on the palate over a fruity base and crisp acidity from the region's crisp wine grapes.
€44.95 - recommended by Peter Dunne, not ignoring Laubade's Vintage Armagnacs from 1993-1939 from €85 to €600, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants, CHQ Building, IFSC, Dublin 1 and Glasthule, Co Dublin: Spirit Specialist of the Year 2014.
Grateful thanks to NOffLA's Reggie Walsh and to chairperson, Evelyn Jones, The Vintry, Rathgar, who co-ordinated the bottles for my tasting.
See noffla.ie for full details of all the NOffLA 2014 Award winners.