MOVIES & BOOZE: Fancy a glass of wine this weekend?

Jean Smullen reviews two wines...

Nollaig na mBan—Little Christmas or the Feast of the Epiphany as it is more commonly known is the 12th day of Christmas and traditionally in parts of Ireland, specifically in Cork and Kerry, this is the day when men take on the chores so women can have a day off. What better way to put your feet up and relax than with one of the most popular white wine styles among Irish female wine drinkers? We’re not going to leave the red wine drinkers out of the picture either, for lovers of red wines we have a great value red wine from the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal the Pocas Coroa d’Ouro.

2016 Flying Kiwi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc €10.99

Stockists: Select Eurospar, Spar, Mace and Londis shops, nationwide

In 1973, as Marlborough’s first Sauvignon Blanc vines were being planted, no one could have the superstar status it has attained today. Pungently aromatic, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc assails the senses with red capsicum (bell peppers) and gooseberry characters, lush passionfruit and tropical fruit notes. Fresh cut grass, tomato stalk and lime flavours added to the mix give this wine style its enormous appeal.

This time last year I travelled to Marlborough to take part the International Sauvignon Blanc Conference. The event was a who’s who of the wine world who basically tasted (and spat) and discussed Sauvignon Blanc from all over the world. The programme included a stellar line up.. Oz Clarke’s lecture “There’s no place like home” was all about regional New Zealand wine styles; Robert Joseph gave a superb lecture on the Future of Sauvignon Blanc, all very technical and for the wine geek ….Nirvana!

The world’s most reliable white wine should never be taken for granted. It brings over $1.5 billion New Zealand dollars to their economy annually. It is 142 years since Marlborough was first planted and 30 years since Cloudy Bay put New Zealand on the global wine map. Oz Clarke summed it up succinctly “this is the wine, wine snobs can’t bear” Its appeal is it simplicity, Jane Skelton MW called New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc the “Labrador of wine”

So on Nollag na mBan why not get the girls together, crack open a bottle of this lovely green number and enjoy the perfection of the fruit at the “just ripe” stage.

Flying Kiwi is produced by Grahame Thompson of Lismore Wines. I met him Wanaka in Central Otago where he lives and we had coffee overlooking lake Wanaka on a beautiful summer morning. The fruit comes from Marlborough and has intense flavours and balanced acidity, this is an elegant pungent wines with attractive floral thiols, good structure and a crisp finish.

One of my favourite Sauvignon lecture at the conference was called “I love the smell of thoil in the morning” Jamie Goode and Dr Wendy Parr, taught us all about the aromatics of the grape. Thiols are strong-smelling compounds responsible for pungent aromas… something that this New Zealand Savvy has in spades!

The Great New Zealand Wine Tasting Consumer Event

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm Thursday 19th January, 2017 Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8.
Tickets are now on sale priced at €15.00 at www.eventbrite.co.uk Search 'The Great New Zealand Wine Tasting Dublin'

And now for something completely different….

2013 Pocas Coroa d’Ouro €9.99

Stockists: Gerry’s Supermarket, Skerries; The Drink Store, Manor Street ; Morton’s, Ranelagh and Nolan’s in Clontarf.

Portugal has two things going for it. The diversity of its climatic regions and its wealth of native grape varieties. Both the Douro Valley in Portual and Marlborough share a common thread, they both emerged in their own right as famous wine regions in the same year.

The history of Port wine in the Douro is well documented but the pivotal point for the emergence of still wine making is much more recent. Originally there were many so-called quinta wines, i.e. wines that were produced and marketed by individual wine growers. In 1870, shippers who had established themselves in Porto increasingly replaced the producers. These shippers, many of whom were English negociant companies, developed their own brands and blended the wines from different vineyards to create their own "house style" of Port, which they then marketed globally from their cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. The power of these shippers became so absolute that a law was subsequently passed stipulating that port wine exports could only be carried out from Vila Nova de Gaia. It wasn't until 1986 when Portugal joined the European Union and this law was finally abolished that the true revolution in wine growing in the Douro region began to emerge.

The next generation stopped supplying fruit to the Port houses and started to make still wine styles from the same grapes used to make Port wine; Touriga Nacional (or Tic Nac and its affectionately know in Portugal), Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known in Spain as Tempranillo) and Tinta Barroca.

Grapes grown in the Douro terroir contain high levels of tannins and sugar, ideal for producing good quality still wines. Poças was a pioneer in the development of the still wines from the region.

This is a n easy-drinking red wine made from indigenous Douro grape varieties. It has lots of ripe cherry fruit and would be great served with any sort of meat, especially steak.

At this price the wine punches way above its weight and has a lovely soft structure, give it a try you won’t be disappointed.

Wine Diary: for details of wine events www.jeansmullen.com