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Dunnes Mediterranean Wine Festival

Dunnes Stores has A Mediterranean Wine Festival running from June 15th for three weeks and there are plenty of good value wines to enjoy. I got the chanceto try the wines at a press tasting recently and while there was very little that was amazing the wines are generally well chosen and plenty would rate as a bronze medal or so which is say 86/100 or 15.5-16/20 depending on your scoring methods.

One disappointing note is that Mediterranean has been restricted to meaning France/Spain/Italy. It could have of course included Greece, Lebanon, Slovenia, Croatia, Lebanon, Israel and North Africa. A nod towards at least Greece and Lebanon wouldn’t have been too difficult but seems to have been a step too far.

The best of the three countries featured for this critic was easily Spain followed by France with Italy the least interesting. In the notes below I’ve quoted the sale price and the alleged headline price. As ever with supermarkets the later is often a fictitious number designed to make the current price look exceptional.

Spanish wines have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and Dunnes have a few well worth buying. Nebla Rueda Verdejo 2010 (€6.99 from € 9.99) a bang on the money bronze with the kind of zesty grapefruit and herbaceous character this grape delivers. Also of particular interest is one of Spain’s other hip regions Rias Baixas, Dous Albarino 2010 (€9.99 from €15.99), another bronze. If you are looking for a party white you could do a lot worse than Gandia
Chardonnay (€5.99 from €9.99).

There are several reds at €5.99/6.99, any of which are an acceptable drink including Gandia Tempanillo (€5.99 from €9.99), Marques de Chivas 07 Utiel Requena (€5.99 from € 3.99), Oristan Reserva (€6.99 from € 13.99), Pacheco Organic Jumilla (€6.99 from €10 .99), Poco a Poco Tempranillo (€5.99 from ?) and Domaine Zoe (€6.99 from € 13.99). However I’d avoid Castillo de la Pena Gran Reserva 2002 and Altos
d’Oliva at any price.

A little further up the scale Riaza Crianza Rioja (€8.99 from €12.99) does what it says on the tin. I was less impressed with the Tinto Arroyo Ribera del Duero pair as the Joven was reductive and the Crianza a bit too hard. It’s good to see an affordable Priorat and Crossos (€12.99 from €17.99) shows that region’s intense almost sweet fruit character from the Garnacha variety.

Spanish mega brand Torres is also part of the sale and it has to be said they are one of the world’s most consistent and reliable brands. A great deal of the range is here so if yo just want an affordable wine you can be sure you’ll like (as you’ve drunk it before) grab a Vina Sol or Sangre de Toro at only €7.49 (or even €6.99 from €9.35). Personally I liked the Gran Vina Sol at €9.99 (from €12.84). The sale though allows you to trade up and explore the finer end of the range. The
Fransola 09 (€19.99 from €29.99) barrel fermented Sauvignon looked particularly good to me as did their Salmos Priorat (€19.99 from €29.99). Both would score solid silver medals for me.

There are also a couple of Spanish sparkling wines at €9.99 are competent clean but not exciting. If you just want to make a ‘pop’ noise for a minor celebration then they might be a pleasant change from Prosecco.

I don’t know if it’s me or Italian reds in general but in the last couple of years in particular I’ve found most of them to be unrewarding tasting. They just seem to be so lacking in fruit and full of tannin and acid and appear to have more faults like VA or brettanomyces than any other country in the world. I hearpeople call them ‘food wines’ but I’m sorry food doesn’t make them taste better. OK, rant over, but sadly I can’t recommend any of the Italian reds in the sale as they conformed to the above observations, even the Sicilian ones which have been a beacon of rich soft fruit in recent years. The whites in the sale are
cheap but light and simple. The Spanish ones mentioned provide much more but no doubt the sound but very simple Pinot Grigio at €5.99 will outsell everything else. The Riva Leone Gavi (€6.99 from €13.99, 1/2 price? – yeah really, not) is
the most interesting of the whites with attractive lime and pear fruit.

The French section of the sale, not surprisingly concentrates on Languedoc-Roussillon wines. There are familiar names here that rarely fail to deliver including Laurent Miquel, La Baumé and Gerard Bertrand. Oddly the two Laurent Miquel reds I liked least were the expensive ones, the €12.99 (from €17.99) St. Chinian and the Faugeres. However the €12.99 (from €17.99) Viognier Verite was stunning, a 92/100 or a solid silver. Plenty of Condrieu doesn’t give this much pleasure. Clearly his grape is a strength for them as the €9 (from €10.94) Viognier and the €6.99 (from €8.99) Chardonnay-Viognier are very good too.

The Bertrand 6th Sens wines are sound but not as exciting as his slightly more expensive Art de Vivre wines while the best of the Le Baume was the Merlot. The most interesting French red for me was the bargain Ch Milegrande Minervois (€8.99 from €15.99). It has that alluring smoked bacon character you get on Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage sometimes. But half price? No.

One wine really illustrates the folly of supermarket half price offers and it’s the Manoir Grinon Chardonnay Oak (€6.99 from €13.99). It’s frankly awful unless you want a lesson in how not to use planks or oak chips to give an oak character in
wine. I wouldn’t pay half of €6.99 for it.

So my advice if you are short on time, grab a bottle from the Spanish section of the sale and you’ll more than likely have a

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