Whether you’ve been abstaining for Lent and want to celebrate Easter or you just want to mark the brighter, longer days of Spring, this week’s wine selection calls for some extra special reds to completely blow both your palate and your wallet.
I’ve chosen the wines to match the succulent sweet flavors of Spring lamb, or whatever you’re having yourself.
Castellare I Sodi di San Niccolo’, Tuscany, 2003 (around €50)
My wine of the week this week. This bucks the Super Tuscan trend of Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet and Merlot. It’s made in the heart of Chianti from local varietals of Sangiovese (or Sangioveto to be precise) and black Malvasia. Full bodied, substantial wine which needs a few hours in a decanter to show its best. If this is a stretch too far for the wallet, try the younger brother, the Chianti Classico for €19.
Availability: Wines on The Green (Celtic Whiskey Shop), Dawson Street, Dublin (online at www.winesonthegreen.com)
Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2005 (around €80)
I got chatting to Bruce Cakebread last week and had the pleasure and privilege of trying some of the wines from Cakebread cellars.
What started in 1973 with a humble four barrels is now a fairly sizable family owned producer in California’s Napa Valley. Eighty bones is a lot of money, unquestionably, for a bottle of wine, but comparable in quality to a good Margaux which would fetch two or three times the price.
Not just Cabernet, but some Merlot and Cabernet Franc in there too. Complex range of flavours and minerality with blackcurrants, chocolate, vanilla and herbs with a smooth creamy texture and long lasting finish. Needs a few hours in a decanter.
Availability: 64 Wine, Glasthule, Mitchell & Son, IFSC. Cellar Master Wines, Sandyford. The Wine Boutique, Ringsend.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2004 (around €36)
In the context of our previous Californian, this is a relatively affordable Napa Valley Cabernet of class and distinction. It’s made by the Irish American Barrett father and son, Jim and Bo, the makers who came to fame in the fabled Paris tasting of 1976 (fabled in the film, Bottleshock, starring Alan Rickman which could be still doing the rounds on Sky Movies). To get tbe true story, head over to Lyric FM’s website for Tomas Clancy’s series on the Irish winegeese. The second episode features Jim Barrett and Montelena.
Back to the wine, while it says Cabernet on the label, it’s actually a Bordeaux blend which also includes Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Blackcurrant, eucalyptus, vanilla and warming spices. Top notch Napa.
Availability: Straffan Wines, Straffan, Co. Kildare (online: straffanwines.ie), Cases Wine Warehouse, Galway (online www.cases.ie) and from Fallon & Byrne, Dublin.
Most of this content will feature in this week’s Sunday Tribune T2 Magazine wine column.