The wine buff: The top 15 wines for Easter

Lamb at Easter is one of those great traditions, and, if we’ve taken anything on board over the last few decades, it’s that traditions are made to be broken. But that doesn’t mean that you have to. We’ll be having lamb, but rather than roasted, it will be done Nigella style, butterflied, marinated and barbecued. When it’s done this way, you get a mix of rare and charred meat, so it seems to suit everyone, except the vegetarians and vegans. So yes, a few more dishes will have to be prepared.

Rioja, which can be made from a number of grapes, but most usually with Tempranillo, is one of the classic wine pairings with lamb. But what you might not know is that there is also a Tempranillo Blanco grape. In 1988, Jesús Galilea Esteban discovered some green and yellow grapes growing on a single cane among his black Tempranillo grapes in his Murillo de Rio Leza estate in Rioja Oriental (previously known as Rioja Baja), so he set about trying to identify what varietal it was. After years of investigation the Consejo Regulador of Rioja concluded it was a white mutation of Tempranillo, and permitted it to be planted. Only a few vineyards grow the grape, one of which is Bodegas Ontañón, a fifth generation family-owned winery in Rioja Oriental. It should not be confused with white Rioja which typically is made from Viura, among other varietals.

I’ve included a white Tempranillo here in today’s line-up. There are also plenty of sparkling, white and red wines from which to choose, so no matter what you’re cooking you can have something delicious in your glass.

As it’s a week to Easter Sunday, there’s time to order online. It’s worth checking out Green Man Wine, 64 Wine, Searsons, The Wine Buff, Cass & Co, or O’Briens, which all have online sales, or Sommelier in Your Pocket, a dedicated online wine shop at


Pata Negra Gran Reserva 2009

€8.99, 13pc, from Aldi

From the Valdepeñas region of Spain, this is an easy drinking red with oak flavours and has developed a savoury character from aging. Great if you’re having a crowd and perfect for all types of roast meat.

Finca La Celia Elite 2015

€17.99, 14pc, from Spar, Eurospar, Londis and Mace

Malbec goes beautifully with beef, and this one, which has a touch of Cabernet Franc, has a floral nose and graphite running through the concentrated palate of red and dark fruit.

Poggio Tempesta Chianti Riserva 2015

€16.95, reduced from €18.95, 13pc, from O’Briens

Italian wine is made for food and this low-intervention Chianti pairs beautifully with roast lamb and roast beef. With classic flavours of sour cherry, black plum, sage and a touch of warm spice.

Domaine de Fondrèche, Ventoux rouge 2017

€19.95, 13pc, from Drink Store, Searsons, Blackrock Cellars, Donnybrook Fair, Dublin; Ardkeen, Waterford; and

A biodynamic wine from the southern Rhône, this blend of Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah has cherry, redcurrants, thyme and rosemary, with a touch of smoky black pepper.

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2014

€19.95, reduced from €23.95, 14pc, in O’Briens and leading independents

A classic Rioja made from 90pc Tempranillo, with a touch of Graciano and Mazuelo, this has concentrated red and dark fruit with notes of liquorice, balsamic, warm spice and black pepper. Perfect with roast lamb.

Ribera del Duero Crianza Martín Berdugo 2015

€23.95-€25, 14.5pc, from Mitchell’s, Green Man Wines, Sheridan’s in Dublin and Galway, and

Made from 100pc Tempranillo, there is a freshness and pure fruit quality to this vibrant wine which has generous flavours of red and black cherry, blackberry, bramble leaf and spice, with polished tannins and a long finish.

Castellore Organic Sparkling Grillo

€12.99, 11.5pc, from Aldi

Grillo is a white Sicilian grape which was traditionally used to make Marsala. This sparkling wine will appeal to Prosecco lovers with ripe peach, lime and a touch of spicy minerality.

Tuffeau 2017 Blancs de Blancs Brut Nature

€19.50-€19.95, 12pc, from First Draft, Lilac Wines, Grapevine, Blackrock Cellar, Ely Maynooth, Ely 64 Wine, Green Man Wines, all Dublin; Eleven Deli, Greystones; Cass & Co, Dungarvan, Waterford

From the Loire, this is totally down with the kids with its crown cap closure. Refreshing with zesty flavours of crisp apple and a touch of citrus.

Filipa Pato 3B Rose Sparkling

€25 approx, 11.5pc, from Blackrock Cellar, Ely 64 Wine, Green Man Wines, Baggot Street Wines, and Loose Canon, Dublin

From Bairrada, northwest Portugal, this sparkling rose, made from hand- harvested Baga and Bical grapes and fermented using wild yeast has refreshing flavours of ripe red berries.

Granzamy Brut NV Champagne

€29.95 reduced from €34.95, 12pc, from O’Briens,

Vegan-friendly, this 100pc Pinot Meunier Champagne is rich and toasty, has soft flavours of spice, apples and a touch of savoury cherry.

Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet

€9 until April 16, 12.5pc, from Tesco

Perfect with seafood and grilled fish, this Picpoul from the Languedoc in France has crisp apple flavours and refreshing acidity; a good alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.

Gaia ‘Assyrtiko by Gaia’ Wild Ferment

€24.95, 13pc, from O’Briens and

An indigenous grape from Greece, this Assyrtiko has an exuberant bouquet of lime, tropical fruit, honeysuckle and a touch of clove, balanced with crisp freshness.

Ontañón Tempranillo Blanco 2018

€16.99, 12pc, from the Wine Buff in Cork, Dungarvan, Ennis, Limerick, Nenagh, Newbridge, Portarlington, Sligo and Glasthule, Dublin

A white Tempranillo with flavours of pear, nectarine, lime, a hint of pineapple and a crisp minerality. Great with roast chicken, roast veg and also suitable for vegans.

Domaine de l’Ecu Muscadet ‘Classic’ 2018

€24 approx, 12pc, from 64 Wine, Blackrock Cellar, Mitchell’s and Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin, Galway and Meath and

A really complex biodynamic Muscadet, this has an intense savoury and herbaceous quality with fresh citrus and grapefruit flavours. Beautiful with fried or grilled fish.

Róisín Curley

Saint-Romain 2016

€55, 13pc, from Whelehan’s, Clontarf Wines, Ely 64 Wines, Green Man Wines, On the Grapevine, Drink Store, Martin’s and Deveney’s, Dublin

Exquisite, special occasion white Burgundy from Irish winemaker Róisín Curley. Elegant with gentle note of citrus peel.


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