Evoke the feel of holidays with wine and sherry

What could be better than manzanilla or fino sherry sipped in the shade of a hot day?

Drinking wine will bring back memories of the vineyard, the people who made it or a dinner shared with family and friends.

Drinking wine will bring back memories of the vineyard, the people who made it or a dinner shared with family and friends.

 

As our summer holiday season gets going, the idea of jetting off somewhere warm and sunny seems remote. Many of us have had cancellations and are chasing refunds. But we can still read and we can certainly dream. So today, four holiday wines, an amalgam of memories and the promise of future trips to come. Feel free to substitute your own memories and fantasy holidays. 

Our own plans for Greece, the south of France, or even the north of Portugal have been put firmly on hold, as have notions of a long weekend in Jerez. Yet drinking the wine will bring back memories of the vineyard, the people who made it or a dinner shared with family and friends. 

I will never forget, on my only visit to Greece, sitting in a restaurant in Thessaloniki watching the Mediterranean waters lap against the shore as the sun went down. I drank a few glasses of chilled Assyrtiko alongside six wonderful courses of seafood. I have always wanted to return.

Assyrtiko is just one of many fascinating Greek grape varieties. Wines Direct, Grapevine, Dalkey and O’Briens all have excellent examples of this white wine, but I was bowled over by the red wine from Greece that is included in this week’s selection.

Vinho Verde

The sunny south of Portugal has never really appealed to me, but I realised a dream last year by finally visiting the Dão and Vinho Verde regions in the north. I have always loved the wines, and on this fleeting visit, was drawn in by the uncluttered beaches and less developed verdant countryside. 

We have enjoyed several wonderful holidays getting lost on winding roads in the rolling green hills of Aveyron, the Ariège, the Aude and Tarn, drinking delicious recherché wines made from Negrette, Fer Servadou, Prunelard, Mauzac and Len de l’El. After a gap of several years, a return journey was being planned. 

What could possibly be finer than a glass of chilled manzanilla or fino sherry sipped in the shade on a baking hot day, while nibbling on some freshly toasted almonds, a few wafer-thin slices of the finest jamón Ibérico, perhaps a few croquetas, or a salty anchovy-stuffed green olive or two? In lockdown I have been recreating this very scene in my back garden when the sun is out. Sadly the sherry seems to have run out, as has my jamón.

If we do have a holiday this summer, I suspect it will be a staycation, in which case I can pre-order a case of wine online from a large number of Irish wine retailers, who will deliver it right to my door.

Château Plaisance 2017, Fronton

13.5%, €20.50

 Medium-bodied with very attractive just-ripe black fruits, a nice refreshing streak and light tannins on the finish. Ideally drink it with aligot à la saucisse (delicious local sausage and mash), but most pork dishes would work well. 

From: SIYPS.com; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co. Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; Eleven Deli, Greystones, Elevendeli.ie. 

Manzanilla Fina, Callejuela, Jerez

15%, €18.50 / Half-bottle €12

A wonderful tangy dry sherry with delicate notes of freshly baked bread, toasted almonds, green apples finishing with a lovely saline streak. Drink it with toasted almonds, charcuterie or Spanish tapas. 

From: La Touche, Greystones, Latouchewines4u.ie; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, Clontarfwines.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie

Rótulo 2016, Dão, Niepoort

13%, €17.50

Vibrant crunchy fresh dark fruits with a twist of black pepper. Medium to light-bodied, this makes perfect spring and summer drinking. We drank ours with pork chops, but most white meats would work well. 

From: First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8, Firstdraftcoffeandwine.com; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie; Drinkstore, Dublin 7, drinkstore.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie.

Nimbus Russus 2017, Kamarta Estate, PGI Thessaloniki

13.5%, €26.65

A delicious, full-flavoured wine with the Xinomavro tannins balanced very well by the Merlot and Syrah; masses of brooding dark fruits, a firm structure and ripe tannins on the long, lingering finish. We enjoyed ours with Nigel Slater’s pork burgers, but grilled or roast red meats would be ideal. 

From: Wines Direct, Mullingar; and Arnott’s, Dublin 1, winesdirect.ie 

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