Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.
Historically the wine sales in France this time of year were a means of clearing out the old vintage before the release of the new. Superquinn is credited with bringing the annual sale to Ireland. When I lived in Blackrock, County Dublin I used to look forward to the sale each year, and now that SuperValu
has taken over the chain, the tradition has carried on albeit not on as grand a scale.
Before making some recommendations I thought I would offer a little refresher about the finest of all French regions, which may help you choose your sale wines. For my money Bordeaux still makes the best wine in the world, so I am always looking for good value here. The great wine critic Robert Parker described Bordeaux wines as ‘having intensity of flavour without heaviness’.
The region is split by the great Gironde estuary, the left bank being synonymous with the Medoc and Haut Medoc. Wines here are cabernet sauvignon dominated and their finest expression is found in the towns of Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac and St-Estephe.
Across the Gironde on the right bank wines are merlot based, with St Emilion and Pomerol the most famous production areas although great value can be found in Fronsac, Cotes de Castillon, and two of my personal favourites, Cotes de Blaye and Cotes de Bourg. Near the city of Bordeaux itself the Graves region is also worth a mention with its finest expression being the wines of Pessac-Leognan.
Dunnes Stores sale has stepped up a notch from previous years, with Chateau Begadanet 2014, €13 a fine example of a classic wine from the Medoc. Chateau Chantemerle 2014 €18 has a classic left bank composition, 60 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 35 per cent merlot with small amounts of cabernet franc and petit verdot. Also well worth a mention from outside the Bordeaux region is Visan L’Enclave Nord Cotes du Rhone, a glorious expression of wine from the southern Rhone Valley. Great value at €11.50. Think black olives and ripe fruit.
Over in SuperValu, I like the Chateau Manon Des Brumes, a dry white from the aforementioned
Blaye region and a steal at €9. Another white worth mention is the lovely Domaine du Hout Bourg Muscadet, €10. An annual favourite of mine back in the reds, Chateau Moulin Lafitte, is merlot based and very elegant with spice and red fruit, €12. Further value can be achieved if your selection is in SuperValu’s three for €25 or two for €20 sections.
Finally, keep an eye out for the Lidl sale, which started on September 25 and is sure
to feature some great value from the classic Bordeaux regions.