There are many thousands of grape varieties planted in a vast array of regions worldwide, Italy alone accounts for over a thousand, yet when it comes to choosing a wine, most of us invariably fall back on a very small selection of old favourites.
There is of course great security in choosing one of these old favourites, but wines produced from less familiar varieties and regions can often be both surprising & rewarding.
Here at O’Briens though, we are always on the lookout for something new, and with this in mind, our wine Director Lynne Coyle, has brought together a wonderfully eclectic selection of wines, chosen not just for curiosity’s sake, but because they all stand up on their own merit.
The one thing that links all of these ‘Discovery’ wines, both red and white is their perfect suitability for pairing with the lighter fare on all our tables in the summer months.
All of these wines will be on offer at 25% off all summer long, so there can be no better time to step away from the Sauvignon, move off the Merlot, put down the Pinot Grigio, and begin your experimentation, I can guarantee the selection below will not disappoint!
My first choice, Gaia Monograph Assyrtiko (€11.95 down from €15.95), comes from vineyards located in the semi-mountainous Koutsi region of Nemea, Greece. Unlike the bone-dry, volcanic soils of its native Santorini, the calcareous soils of mainland Greece impart an entirely different character to the varietal, making for a wine with a delicious, bright, refreshing green tinged fruit character with a hint of minerality in the finish.
Next up is a gorgeous Spanish white, Alma de Blanco (€11.20 down from €14.95), is made from the Godello grape, growing in popularity as a style and currently very trendy in Spain, it is a wonderfully fresh lively wine with aromas and flavours of green apple, pineapple and lime zest but with surprising depth, richness and minerality.
Moving on, the first of two reds is Rizzardi Bardolino Classico (€11.20 down from €14.95), Bardolino has for too long sat in the shadow of it’s much more famous cousin, Valpolicella, but for me this is the ideal light red, with delicious bright crunchy red-berry fruit and some savoury complexity, barely-there tannins and refreshingly low-alcohol.
We must return to Spain for the last wine of the bunch, whose name, ‘Tolo do Xisto’(€17.95 down from €23.95), which translates from the Galician as “mad about slate”, tries to define the effort involved and the love of the land which are much needed when making wines in the spectacular landscape of steep sloped river gorges along the river Sil, where vineyards cling to the slate. Made with the region’s native Mencía grape this has delicious juicy cherry and raspberry fruit on a fresh palate with subtle tannins and framed by a little oak.
*Please note, prices are correct at time of publishing, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.