People often ask at wine tastings whether medals and awards seen on bottles are genuine indicators of quality. The simple fact is that they are. They are awarded on the basis of having been tasted ‘blind’ (that is without knowing what the wine is), usually against a set of similar wine styles. Australia and other New World countries are particularly reliant on awards, presumably as these producers have to build their name from scratch, unlike their European counterparts with centuries of reputation behind them.
Closer to home, the Irish off licence organisation, Noffla, has just announced the wines which they believe are Gold Star wines in their members’ off licences. In the face of increased competition from supermarkets, convenience stores and forecourts, Noffla members pride themselves, rightly, on the range of wines on offer. Typically an independent wine shop will have a range of 500 wines in stock.
I love shopping in an independent off licence for the hand-picked selections, offered with genuine passion. It is definitely worth finding developing a relationship with your local wine shop so that they know your likes and dislikes. There is nothing worse than spending hard-earned money on an expensive bottle, only to realise that it is just not to your taste.
There are over 330 off licences which are members of Noffla, all over the country.
Here are just some of the Noffla Gold Star winners which you can find there:
Tiki Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Wonderfully minerally, elegant Sauvignon. Subtle gooseberry and elderflower aromas, extremely fresh, with crisp acidity on the palate. Well-balanced, with kiwi, passion-fruit and lemon zest on the finish. Well worth €14.95.
B&G Original Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 Bone dry, with ripe zesty grapefruit and lime. This is a terrifically fruity wine from France’s Loire valley, and it’s organic. €9.99.
Riscal Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Rueda. I have been a fan of this wine for years, and this vintage is no exception. Immediately enticing with lime, grapefruit and gooseberry flavours, with a hint of minerality on the palate. Refreshingly dry, firmly fruity, with zippy green acidity and a long finish. About €12.
Evodia 2011, Catalyud, Spain. Stunning value for money from this Grenache-based wine. An abundance of ripe cherries and berries is offset with cloves, cinnamon and a savoury earthiness. €9.99
Cousiño-Macul Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010. From some of the finest vines in one of Chile’s top-notch valleys, Maipo, this is a deliciously ripe style, bursting with classic blackcurrants and a hint of mint, and set against supple tannins. €14.95