Versatile reds for a springtime feast
Choose from these light- to full-bodied wines to suit your Easter menu this weekend
Four very different red wines to enjoy with your Easter lunch or dinner, varying from light to full-bodied, so you can choose accordingly.
There is a lovely large leg of Wicklow lamb resting in my freezer. It has been there for some time, but it is far too big for my household of three people, so I doubt we will take it out to enjoy this Easter. We will celebrate somehow, but I am not sure what we will eat.
Many people are probably facing the same dilemma, so this week, four very different red wines to enjoy with your Easter lunch or dinner, varying from light to full-bodied, so you can choose accordingly.
The Languedoc is the largest wine region in the world and is responsible for some great value wines. The red wines, often scented with herbs and full of ripe fruits, make great casual celebration wines, especially if accompanied by substantial red meat dishes, or roast Mediterranean vegetables, preferably with lots of herbs, black olives and garlic.
Minervois, one of the best-known sub-regions, produces large quantities of unremarkable cheap red wine, mostly made by large co-operatives. But there are plenty of ambitious estates making high-quality wines at very wallet-friendly prices. L’Ostal Cazes is owned by the Cazes family, better-known as owners of Château Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux.
I have covered Dão in this column before, it is a region that has changed out of all recognition in recent years, producing great wines, both red and white. The reds are fantastic all-purpose food wines, light enough to match lighter meat and cheese dishes, as well as more substantial red meats. There are a number of great value wines that sell in independent wine shops for about €15. Trade up to €20-€25 and there are some wines that will make your Easter celebrations special.
Cabernet Franc is the lesser-known and underrated cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon. Whether from Bordeaux or the Loire valley, it generally produces wines with a fragrance and lightness that is very appealing while young, although they can last and mature every bit as well as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cab Franc is widely planted in the northeast of Italy and Friuli in particular, where one of this week’s wines comes from. Those of you who hanker after elegant Bordeaux should certainly consider the Dorigo featured here.
Zinfandel is the flagship grape of California. Although its reputation has been tarnished by the mass of inexpensive medium-dry to sweet pink “White Zin” on our supermarket shelves, it can produce some of the very best red wines of California. They vary from medium-bodied to full-on powerful wines with 15-17 per cent alcohol.
Decoy is a range of wines produced by Duckhorn, one of the leading estates of Napa Valley. The grapes used in Decoy are usually sourced from their own vineyards, and others, in the Sonoma Valley. This Zin is definitely in the medium-bodied camp.
Estibals 2017, Minervois, Domaine L’Ostal Cazes 15 per cent, €13.95 (down from €16.96)
From the Languedoc, a pungent, herbal full-bodied red wine with smooth ripe dark fruits. Match it with equally substantial dishes; a rich tomato-based vegetarian stew or spicy barbecued pork.
Dão 2017, Adega de Penalva, Portugal 12.5 per cent, €14.95
Light refreshing juicy dark fruits with a touch of elegance. You could serve this with grilled lamb chops or with the Sunday roast, but it would go very nicely with lighter white meats or a leek and mushroom bake.
Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Sweeneys Dublin 3, sweeneysd3.ie; McHughs, Dublin 5, mchughs.ie; Nectar Wines, Dublin 14, nectarwines.com; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Brown’s Vineyard Portlaoise; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, Clontarfwines.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Eleven Deli, Greystones, Elevendeli.ie; The Wine Pair, Dublin 8; Drinkstore, Dublin 7, drinkstore.ie; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; SC Grocer, Monkstown, Co. Dublin; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; The GrapeVine, Dublin9, thegrapevineofflicence; The Vintry, Dublin 6, vintry.ie.
Dorigo Cabernet Franc 2017, Friuli, Italy 12.5 per cent, €22.95
A very attractive, fragrant, medium-bodied, elegant red wine with perfectly balanced red cherry and raspberry fruits and light spicy tannins. Serve it with baked ham, or chicken dishes.
Avoca, Ballsbridge & Rathcoole, Avoca.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Sweeneys Dublin 3, sweeneysd3.ie; McHughs, Dublin 5, mchughs.ie; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; The Wine Pair, Dublin 8; Drinkstore, Dublin 7, drinkstore.ie; SC Grocer, Monkstown, Co. Dublin; Deveney’s, Dublin 14, deveneys.ie.
Decoy Zinfandel 2018, Sonoma County, California 14 per cent, €36.95
A very stylish medium-bodied Zin with plenty of smooth lush loganberry and cherry fruits set off by some well-judged toasty oak. Try it with the Sunday roast, or stuffed mushrooms.
D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Avoca, Ballsbridge & Rathcoole, Avoca.com; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; The Wine House, Trim; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, Clontarfwines.ie; Gibney’s, Malahide, gibneys.com; Basil Market Deli, Basil.ie; Cashel Wine Cellar, Cashel.