Wine

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Food - Les­lie Wil­liams Con­tact Les­lie Wil­liams at wine@ex­am­iner.ie

Fash­ion by its very na­ture is a fickle thing. Just as hem­lines go up and down and ties and lapels widen and nar­row so wines come in and out of fash­ion. All my rec­om­men­da­tions this week are wines (or wine styles) that were eas­ily found in Ire­land in the 1990s and are now fash­ion­able once more (or at least they are in my house!). It is true that Rioja never re­ally went out of style but there was a pe­riod in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they be­gan to price them­selves out of the mar­ket. The fame of the re­gion sim­ply went to the pro­duc­ers’ heads and they be­gan build­ing winer­ies that look more like art gal­leries blended with cathe­drals. Frank Gehry, Zaha Ha­did and San­ti­ago Cal­i­trava were em­ployed (at re­spec­tively Mar­qués de Ris­cal, López de Heredia Viña Ton­do­nia and Bode­gas Ysios) and their cre­ations are stun­ning (if not al­ways prac­ti­cal – Cal­i­trava’s roof leaked). The Rioja men­tioned was never showy and is now with Lib­erty Wines so you will be­gin to see it more fre­quently. My other throw­backs this week are two Cõtes de Gascogne, a Dão from Por­tu­gal and a Mus­cadet and a Vou­vray from the Loire. There were hardly any New World wines in Ire­land in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s so th­ese wines of­fered value and punched a lit­tle above their price points. I vis­ited Gas­cony on hol­i­days in the early ‘90s specif­i­cally so that I could buy fresh crisp white wines from places like the Plai­mont Co-Op (Mol­loy’s still stock their Colombelle Gascogne IGP). Mus­cadet and its Ital­ian equiv­a­lents Soave, Fras­cati and Orvi­eto were soon re­placed by fleshy Chardon­nays from Aus­tralia and Sau­vi­gnon Blancs from Chile and New Zealand. Soave and Mus­cadet are mak­ing a de­served come­back now be­cause the wines are much im­proved and they of­fer el­e­gance and value and a wel­come light­ness of touch. Por­tu­gal has been on a roll in re­cent years as it com­petes so well at the cheaper price points but Dão re­mains a bit of a se­cret. The sleek mod­ern styles of the Douro and the fruit-driven fleshy wines of Lis­boa and Alen­tejo are what usu­ally ap­pear here but Dão (and Bair­rada) have their place too, even if they some­times seem a tiny bit rus­tic in com­par­i­son. So I hope you en­joy th­ese throw­back wines, not all are com­pletely fash­ion­able again but I’m de­ter­mined that they will be soon!

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