Two great value Pinot Noirs from the south of France have caught the attention of wine editor MARY DOWEY …
Solas Pinot Noir, IGP Pays d’Oc, Laurent Miquel 2017
Tell me honestly how many wines you’ve enjoyed so much this year at around a tenner that you’d be prepared to strongly recommend them? My answer to that question is a tiny handful (even though I taste hundreds of wines every month). Irish excise duty and VAT are so high that the value of the wine itself in a bottle at this price is worth buttons – so you can expect a huge leap in quality if you trade up to €15 or so. But these Pinot Noirs from the south of France are two scrumptious exceptions.
The first, Solas, comes from the Languedoc estate of talented winemaker Laurent Miquel and his Irish wife Neasa Corish. I’ve been following the output of this energetic couple for years. Their wines get better and better with every passing vintage and currently offer the most impressive quality:price ratio I’ve come across in the Irish market for a very long time.
Solas Pinot Noir is fragrant with ripe cherry, plum and damson aromas, silky in texture and deliciously juicy. A glass will slip down easily by itself (making it a great choice for parties or those summer evenings when people are standing around waiting for the barbecue to perform). It will also make an easy match for an infinitely wide range of foods. This is the kind of red that goes with almost anything, grilled BBQ food included. It also tastes terrific slightly cool.
Its pink partner, Solas Syrah Rosé 2018 (also from Dunnes Stores, €12.50) was one of my top recommendations in the June issue of The Gloss and is also well worth scooping up for summer drinking. In case you didn’t know, Solas means ‘light’ in Irish and ‘enjoyment’ in Old French.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild Pinot Noir, IGP Pays d’Oc 2017
My second Pinot, also at around a tenner from Dunnes, comes from one of the most familiar names in French wine, Baron Philippe de Rothschild. This sizeable company is famous for its celebrated Bordeaux first growth Château Mouton-Rothschild; it’s also responsible for high-volume, everyday wines like the spectacularly successful Mouton Cadet and, more recently, the Languedoc range to which this Pinot belongs.
The Baron Philippe Pinot is the same vintage as the Solas, 2017, and similar in style – perhaps a little spicier, with notes of plums and a tiny hint of caramel. Although it certainly can be drunk by itself, this one to me tastes better with food – especially grilled meats or vegetables, roast chicken or pork, beef stir-fry or pretty much any dish with a toasted cheese top. I’m not prepared to tell you how many bottles of this I saw disappearing at a recent Saturday dinner hosted by friends.
Both from Dunnes Stores
Solas Pinot Noir 2017, alcohol 13.5%, €10
Baron Philippe de Rothschild Pinot Noir 2017, alcohol 12.5%, €10.50
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