Prices are rising and wine is not immune to the same economic pressures that drive up the cost of other raw materials, although falling demand from Russian oligarchs may affect prices for luxury wines. Apart from that, small harvests and rising packaging and transport costs mean prices have risen.
This is the time of year when many importers hold portfolio tastings for their customers and the press. It seems to me that many wines have gone up a euro or two in price, and sometimes more. Wines that were selling for up to €15 until recently are now pushing the €20 mark.
Many supermarkets have started selling more low-alcohol wines, like the German Riesling featured here, at very low prices, as they are less affected by minimum price regulations. I do not know if this is the intention of the health authorities, but it should mean that consumers drink less alcohol.
When it comes to portfolio tastings, we have an ever-growing group of enthusiastic wine importers who offer fascinating wines that are only available in limited quantities. It makes my job much more interesting, even if a bit more difficult. Despite all the new wines I tasted at the first spring tastings, the four featured here, selected for their value and flavor, are old favorites.
German Riesling seems to be making a comeback if multiples are any indicator. Dunnes Stores has the Schiefer Steillage, Lidl the Braunberger Kurfürstlay, SuperValu the Albert Glas Brown Label and O’Briens the Lingenfelder Bird Label. All of these wines are under €15, so if you’re looking for some well-priced whites to drink this summer, they’re well worth trying. Most are off-dry, but with that bright, laser-like acidity so you don’t really notice it.
I probably don’t write about Alsace wines often enough. I don’t know why as they are great value for money and I drink them frequently. Meyer-Fonné wines are classic examples, very expensive considering the quality. The Gentil d’Alsace is made from a blend of Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
Luis Seabra is one of Portugal’s most talented winemakers. He selects grapes from Douro, Dao and Vinho Verde vineyards. All wines, red and white, are made in a distinctive refreshing mineral style. I enjoyed the wine presented here while dining at Grapevine in Dalkey.
Amalaya is one of my favorite producers in Argentina. The Calchaquí Valley, far north of Mendoza, has vineyards ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 m above sea level. The wines here have bewitching aromas, invigorating freshness and delicious purity of fruit. The same company owns the Colomé estate, a bumpy two-hour drive through rugged countryside and home to some of the tallest vineyards in the world.
Blutengarten Riesling 2021, Rheinhessen, Germany
Crisp, zesty lime with green apples and crisp pears, off-dry finish, though in perfect balance with the acidity. A great summer wine to enjoy on its own or with crab, including Thai crab cakes and all manner of shrimp dishes.
Since: Aldi, aldi.ie
Amalaya Calchaqui Valley Malbec 2020, Argentina
Fresh and very aromatic with delicious pure cassis and plum fruit, a touch of spice and a slightly tannic finish. Drink it with a steak for sure, but it will go well with all kinds of Mexican dishes, from fajitas and burritos, to red peppers and eggplant.
Since: Red Nose Wines, Clonmel, rednosewine.com; Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Martin’s Off License, D3, martinsofflicence.ie; Wineonline.ie
Meyer-Fonne Gentil d’Alsace 2019, France
Seductive aromas of plump stone fruit, peach and apricot, with a subtle honeyed note, lots of freshness and a dry finish. A wonderful appetizer, or try it with a semi-soft cheese, lightly spiced chicken or butternut squash curry.
Since: Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Martin’s Off License, D3, martinsofflicence.ie; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk, dundalkwines.com; Ely Wine Shop, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Fallon & Byrne, D2, fallonandbyrne.com; Le Caveau, Kilkenny, lecaveau.ie
Luis Seabra Xisto Ilimtado 2019 Douro, Portugal
Crisp, taut blackberries and plums with a strong mineral streak, fine, grippy tannins and a refreshing finish. Thrilling wine. Try it with pork, charcuterie or grilled pork chops.
Since: Pinto Wines, D9, pintowines.ie; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Lilliput stores, D7, lilliputstores.com; Lilith Wines, D07; Loose Canon, D2, loosecanon.ie; thenudewineco.ie; Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Lot, Falcarragh, lot.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; SIYPS.com; Martin’s Off License, D3, martinsofflicence.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie