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The other day I was invited to a wine tasting. Nothing unusual about that except this one came with a dress code attached -- "A jacket and tie are required. Comparable attire is required for ladies. Non-permissible attire for Gentlemen and Ladies include; jeans or other denimwear, shorts, T-Shirts and athletic wear. Overcoats must be left in the front hall."

Give them their due, the assembled management of SuperValu did look rather shamefaced when I arrived at the faux gentleman's club where the tasting was being held. "Not our fault," one of them whispered, placing the onus squarely on the club's committee, to whom I would commend Article 3 of the wine writer's creed which is "Never, ever taste while wearing a tie unless its colour is somewhere between claret and burgundy". I've ruined heaps of neckwear through forgetting this simple rule.


The purpose was to introduce us to SuperValu's newest range of wines. The chain had invited a number of winemakers and export managers to tutor us in their wines, including Nugan Estate's talented Darren Owers, former Aussie Young Winemaker of The Year. The SuperValu 'Specially Sourced' Collection numbered 143 wines by 21 wineries, some of them old reliables such as Nugan and Aresti, others from names new to the Irish market.

Does the venture succeed? I'd give a qualified 'yes'. One of the undoubted stars was Nugan's 2008 McLaren Vale Parish Vineyard Shiraz in which skilful winemaking and an abundance of quality dark plummy fruit masked the 15 degrees of alcohol, allowing the wine to punch well above its weight for the €15.99 ask.

Sauvignon Blanc was heavily representative. Most attractive was the Les Deux Collines Pouilly FumE 2010 (€18.99), really joyous stuff and well worth the extra €1 over the abrasive Sancerre from the same stable.

The 2008 Gigondas from Remy Ferbras (€16.99) didn't immediately impress but taking the bottle home afterwards it opened up a treat with some 'air time'.

Of the budget range the Portuguese Proeza Cabernet Sauvignon-Castellao 2009 provided fine quaffing for €9.99, a lovely balance, with the tannins well on their way to submission. Le Secret des Capitelles Saint Chinian 2009 (€9.99. above), bit of a mouthful, but well worth the exploration with fragrant violets, thyme and ginger on the nose, figs, red plums and blackcurrant on the palate and a long, herbal finish. The Proeza Arinto-Chardonnay (€9.99), restrained, surprisingly complex and with an impactful mouthfeel was by far the best of the lower priced whites.

Good news is that from September 25 to October 16 this and others in the Specially Sourced Collection will be available at SuperValu stores nationwide with their prices further reduced.