There’s value and quality to be found in often overlooked corner shops
If you’re feeling financially stretched at the end of what is always the tightest month of the year, then now is a good time to acquaint yourself with some bargains in your local independent wine merchant, multiple off-licence or convenience corner store. Today’s recommendations include something from each of the above, ahead of upcoming spotlights on supermarket bargains and promos.
Wine retail tends to fall broadly into two brackets: those retailers that attract wine lovers with their specialist offer, and supermarkets whose price-sensitive appeal is boosted by the handiness of being part of the household grocery shop. It’s easy to overlook the convenience of the corner store but, if you know what you’re looking for, there are decent drops to be had in BWG outlets, aka Eurospar, Spar, Mace and Londis stores.
Today’s selection includes a simple Spanish Tempranillo that is clean-tasting as well as certified organic, and a smart new French listing. Les Ormières spotlights relatively obscure regions such as Côtes du Tarn IGP, northeast of Toulouse, or lesser-known varietal pairings like Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc, as in today’s Blanc de Blancs, or Marselan-Alicante Bouschet, as in its smooth, plummy red sibling (a solid choice for burgers, meatballs or spicy hotpots, both €10.99). Also worth a spin are the new Tussock Jumper wines (€10.99). Their zippy Sauvignon Blanc from Gascogny in south-west France sits stylistically between France’s Loire Valley and New Zealand’s Marlborough, with notes of blackcurrant leaf, gooseberry and juicy tropical fruits making it an able match for tangy, tomato-based seafood dishes.
My wine of the week was a toss-up between two Tuscan reds — Burchino’s Genius Loci Sangiovese 2016 (€19.99) and Poggio al Casone’s La Cattura 2018 (€15.99), both Toscano IGT wines. The latter won out, and not just as the more accessibly priced. It also makes intriguing use of the dark-skinned, late-ripening, ancient Teroldego grape more typically found in the alpine foothills of northern Italy, but here grown organically in Tuscany and blended with 15pc Syrah before 12 months’ oak ageing. If you can stretch to €20, however, the extra year each of oak ageing and bottle ageing lend the Sangiovese’s greater complexity. Hints of soy sauce, mushroom, black tea and sweet spice layer sour red fruits, and well-integrated acidity and tannins make an excellent match for roast duck (mine was from Ranelagh’s excellent CN Duck, which allows BYO with a €6 corkage).
Besides these BWG recommendations, I’ve included one each from Whelehans Wines and O’Briens Wine, whose consistent efforts to offer value makes them fertile ground for bargain hunting.
Poggio al Casone La Cattura 2018, Toscana IGT, 12.5pc, €15.99
An unusual oak-aged blend of the ancient Teroldego grape with a touch of Syrah, this smart package drinks dry, fresh and medium-bodied with smooth tannins, its sour plum and cherry fruits overlaid by notes of orange peel, balsamic and red winter berries. A versatile food wine and a great match for tomato-based pasta and pizza. For more complexity, look to the Burchino Genius Loci Sangiovese 2016 (€19.99), but what La Cattura lacks in nuance, it makes up for in originality. Selected Eurospar, Spar, Mace and Londis stores nationwide
Les Ormières Blanc de Blancs, IGP Côtes du Tarn, France, 12pc, €10.99
A 70:30 blend of Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc with lees ageing bringing a creamy smokiness to the bouquet of plump papaya, ripe melon and grapefruit zest, this is nicely balanced with plump body undercut by zesty freshness on the finish. A party-friendly drop. Selected Eurospar, Spar, Mace and Londis stores nationwide
Castillo de Mureva Tempranillo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain, 13pc, €8.99
Simple and clean, with fruit-forward character (pure blackcurrant juice, fresh strawberries and cherry), this unoaked easy drinker finishes dry with smooth tannins and refreshing acidity. Go pizza, pasta and grilled meat, while the white (an organic Verdejo) is a match for seafood. Selected Eurospar, Spar, Mace and Londis stores
Château Beauchene Côtes Du Rhône Grande Reserve 2021, France, 13.5pc, €15 (from €18)
The family behind this GSM-led blend have winemaking heritage dating from pre-1794, when they bought the plot they had worked on as tenant farmers. Robust yet finessed, with spiced black cherries, balsam and a hint of violet. Think juicy lamb. Whelehans Wines; whelehanswines.ie
Laurent Miquel La Gauphine Cabernet Sauvignon, IGP Pays d’Oc, France, 14pc, €14.95
This is rich and spicy with soft tannins and aromas of ripe cassis fruit, baking spice and forest floor. Think steak sandwiches or hearty stews. See also promo offers on the plush Almorquí Tinto (€10.95) or zesty Château Ste Michelle Riesling (€15.95).O’Briens Wine stores; obrienswine.ie