Best buys | Segredo do Lisboa Castelao-Syrah, Lisboa 2011

Best buys

Segredo do Lisboa Castelao-Syrah, Lisboa 2011

For obvious reasons* I was all set to recommend a handsomely bottled Irish whiskey I’d discovered this weekend but then I tasted it and actually didn’t rate it so here’s a fantastically good value wine deal I found in my local Co-op instead.

It’s a typically dark, intense Portuguese red with lovely brambly, but not too jammy, fruit that would pair swimmingly with dishes like beef stews, rich meaty pasta sauces and beef or venison sausages. But obviously people are not impressed by something that sounds so obscure so the Co-op is flogging it off for £4. No, that’s not a misprint. £4!

At least I hope they are in a Co-op near you. The Co-op moves in mysterious ways which is probably why it’s in such trouble these days so although they had it in my local Bristol branch, it may not be in yours. Or it may be and cost £7.99 which wouldn’t be such a steal.

There's also an equally obscure white, Segredo do Lisboa Fernao Pires-Arinto Chardonnay 2012 which isn’t quite as impressive tasted on its own but perfectly fine with anything fishy. And ‘perfectly fine’ is good enough for £3.80 (the 'bin-end' price)

At the other end of the price scale I tasted an amazing Vouvray up in Settle where I was inspecting one of our BBC Food and Farming Awards shortlistees The Courtyard Dairy (a brilliant cheese shop, btw). It was the 2009 Clos de la Meslerie which was fragrant and delicately honeyed with a lovely balancing acidity - and a very good match with a Gorgonzola Dolce.

Oddly it’s made by someone called Peter Hahn who doesn’t sound particularly French and indeed turns out to be an American who’s rather improbably making natural wine in the Loire. But don’t assume it’s all weird and funky, it’s the best Vouvray I’ve tasted for an age. You can buy it online from BuonVino (the wine merchant next door to the Courtyard) for £28 and for marginally less from an outfit called WineBear but the Buonvino people have a lovely shop so do buy it from them.

The whisky, if you're curious, is called Writer’s Tears and comes from Marks & Spencer. I was seduced by the tall elegant bottle but in truth the whisky itself is lacking in depth and unbalanced by a crude woody finish. I don’t know how old it is, certainly not old enough to justify charging £28. Try one of these recommendations I made in the Guardian a couple of years ago instead though infuriatingly Sainsbury's seems to have dropped their excellent Taste the Difference Dun Leire Irish Single Malt, according to Irish drinks writer Tom Doorley, since Cooley was taken over by Jim Beam (and now Suntory).

A final thought since I was chided for giving the impression that whiskey was the only Irish drink, there's a cracking Irish cream liqueur in Lidl (for £5.99 when I last checked the price). Though I think he was probably talking about beer.

*St Patrick's Day in case you'd forgotten . . .

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