It has become something of a tradition at DNS Wine Club for one of our events every year to be a fun event based on Irish Times wine columnist John Wilson’s annual book, “Wilson On Wine”. Here’s the post I did on our first such event back in 2015 which explains how it works in more detail. If you have a wine tasting / drinking group of six or more people then I highly recommend giving it a go.
For the first time, DNS were joined by the main man himself. John is a complete gentleman, and was unfailingly polite despite the far-fetched tales told about each wine by the club (which is all part of the fun of “call my wine bluff”). As I was keeping tight control of the answers he was left to guess the wine along with the rest of the gang, but of course he was spot on every time.
This first article will focus on the less expensive wines which shone on the night – all of course featured in Wilson On Wine 2019.
Aldi Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura 2014 (12.0%, RRP €11.99 at Aldi)
This fizz will be familiar to many as it’s a reliable, great value for money crémant which is perfect for parties. So much so, in fact, that it has appeared in every edition of Wilson On Wine to date. During our tasting it suffered from following a more sophisticated (and more expensive) Champagne, but I’d rather drink this than the vast majority of Prosecco on the market.
Pequenos Rebentos Vinho Verde 2017 (11.5%, RRP €15.50 at Baggot Street Wines and other good independents)
For me Vinho Verde usually falls into one of two categories – cheap and cheerful blends of local grapes or slightly more serious varietal Alvarinho, with the latter coming from the premium subregion of Monção & Melgaço. This is one of the cheap and cheerful types in terms of price and grapes, but for me rises above its lowly origins. The typical citrus and saline notes are present, but the fruit is so damn juicy! It has a certain je ne sais quoi which makes it one of the best Vinho Verdes I’ve ever tried.
Bairrada Messias Bairrada Selection 2014 (13.5%, RRP €12.65 at Karwig Wines)
Here we have another inexpensive Portuguese wine which rises above its modest origins. In decades past Bairrada was mainly a source of rough and ready bulk wine that was sold by the carafe in restaurants, but like many “lesser” European wine regions, quality has increased significantly with modern equipment and a firm eye on quality. The clay soils here are best known for the Baga grape, but this wine is actually more of a Douro (or Port) blend as it’s made with Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca. Red and black fruits abound, but again with a nice dash of acidity. This is a really well put together wine that I’d be happy to drink any time of the year.
Ingata Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (12.5%, RRP €18.00 at Baggot Street Wines and other good independents)
Outside of a few brands such as Villa Maria and Brancott Estate, less expensive Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is something I tend to avoid. It tends to be overly aromatic and intensely acidic – it gets plenty of attention with the first few sips but even a second glass is often too much. Trading up to the likes of Tinpot Hut, Mahi or Greywacke more than pays back the price differential. Here is one that breaks the mold -it’s a true but gentle expression of Marlborough Sauvignon, with all its components in balance. In fact, this is even worth a try for folks who “don’t like New Zealand Sauvignon” -they might be pleasantly surprised
Apart from the Aldi Crémant I hadn’t tasted any of these wines before, yet they really shone above and beyond their price tags. That’s one of the real positives of being able to rely on someone pre-tasting wines for you!