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.
Well, favourite wines actually! Some people like to find a wine they enjoy and then just stick with it. Understandable, but I like to try different types, different grapes, different countries, although I have my favourites as well, wines that I know will not disappoint. The following recommendations also take into account that for most of us, good value is a consideration after the splurges of the festive season.
Dolle Riesling and Dolle Gruner Veltliner. I can’t decide which of these delicious whites I like best although the Gruner is particularly interesting because it is exclusive to Austria. At €10 they have to be just about the best value wines available at the moment. (Super Valu).
Cecchi Chianti Classico 2013. A lovely young chianti I find myself going back to again and again over the years. From one of the very best growing areas, Castellini in Chianti. Think blueberry and cherry flavours. Smart new label as well. Dunnes Stores, €13.
Il Tauro, Salice Salentino Riserva, 2013. This is a real stunner from Puglia in the very south of Italy. Warming rich red wine, and a steal at €10 from both Dunnes Stores and Next Door Wines.
Lidl Valpolicella, 2013. Classic light red made on the shores of Lake Garda from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. €8.99
Cupcake Red Velvet, 2013. The name doesn’t give much away, and unusually the label does not divulge the grapes used, but all you need to know is that the wine is a delicious example of what California red can be but too often is not. I love giving this as a present, but like even more unscrewing the top and imbibing! Marks and Spencer around €14.
Terrazze Della Luna Teroldeg, unusual red wine with dark fruit flavour from the Dolomites region of Italy. From the same wine maker comes the best Pinot Grigio I have tasted this year. Both are on special at €9 from Super Valu. Your wine writer is off to this region of Italy, formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, next week. At present it is –seven degrees and snowing there. Hope to find lots of warming northern Italian reds!
I admit the Italian bias above and must take a more worldly view in the future. Hey, my first New Year’s resolution!
My favourite wine-matching experience this year? It was one of those Saint Emilion Grand Cru Bordeaux reds that Lidl and Aldi bring in as specials once or twice a year, and once they are gone, they are gone. Along with a tender roast beef on the bone from Michael O’Neill’s in Clonakilty, it proved that beef and claret really is a match made in Heaven.
Now for my favourite 2015 wine shops- very personal selections.
Best overall, wide selection, helpful manager etc.- SuperValu Clonakilty.
Best organic selections – Lettercollum and the Olive Branch, Clonakilty, (a tie).
Best beer selection – Matson’s and O’Donovan’s in Bandon, Next Door in Clonakilty, (a three-way tie!)
Most eclectic selection – URRU in Bandon.
Best value, especially for their twice a year posh French wines sale-Lidl, Clonakilty, Bandon, Skibbereen.
Best online service, Curious Wines and O’Briens Fine Wines, Cork.
Best for the personal touch- Eugene’s in Kenmare.
Wishing all our readers a healthy and happy new year.