One of the best things about this job is that with our constantly evolving wine-range there is always something new to try, and while January and February can be a little quieter on that front, things kick up a gear in Spring with an abundance of newly-made wines in the tasting room awaiting sign-off and lots of new wines hitting the shelves in our stores.
With that in mind, for my recommendations this week I am going with three brand new white wines and one delicious red which was added to the range late last year.
My first choice, the Retreat Sauvignon Blanc (€11.95 down from €14.95) is made with blend of Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in several premium wine-producing regions including Hawkes Bay, Marlborough & Waipara, all of which benefit from cool-climate conditions.
The soils and climate of these regions combine to make the perfect terroir for growing Sauvignon Blanc and this wine delivers everything that has made NZ Sauvignon Ireland’s favourite wine style; deliciously-dry & bursting with tropical fruit flavours & citrus notes, extended lees contact has added complexity and depth, making for a wine that can more than hold its own against fuller-flavoured dishes such as a Thai Green Chicken Curry.
My next selection comes from another superb cool-climate location, Rías Baixas in Spain’s Northwest corner. Follas Novas (€14.95 down from €18.95) is made with grapes grown in sustainably-managed vineyards, spread out in the heart of the Salnés Valley, it is a beautifully aromatic Albariño with floral notes, peach, pear, and lemon with a bone-dry palate with a refreshingly-zesty citrus edge to the finish. I would pair this wonderful white with some seared scallops or indeed with any shellfish dish.
On to France now, and while it may not be as well-known as some of the other central Loire Appellations such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy was in fact, the first French white wine appellation to be given AOC status in 1936.
With its vineyards planted mainly on Kimmeridgian limestone (as are the very best vineyards in Sancerre and Chablis) Domaine des Ballandors Quincy (€16.95 down from €19.95) is an incredibly elegant Sauvignon Blanc from a small family owned winery. Lemon zest & freshly-cut grass on the nose combine with subtle stone-fruit notes on the palate, and a flinty mineral-character lingers on the finish.
The restrained fruit profile and refreshing acidity mean that this wine works beautifully with simply-grilled Sole or Plaice.
To finish we have another family-owned winery, but this time it is one of the largest family-owned wineries in Italy, Fratelli Pasqua was established in 1925 by four brothers and is today managed by the family's second generation who despite the scale of winery have very successfully retained the traditions of family ownership and the quality-focus that goes with it.
Romeo & Juliet Passimento Rosso (€12.95 down from €17.95) is the Pasqua family’s tribute to Romeo and Juliet and the 3,000 messages of love which are left every day on Juliet’s wall in Verona, this rich, spicy & velvety red is made following the local ‘Passimento’ method whereby the grapes are dried prior to fermentation. This is just the wine to serve alongside rich meaty dishes such as Veal Osso Bucco.