When I started writing about wine in Irish Country Living, one of my main goals was to introduce readers to new wine varieties, to break them out of the Sauv Blanc trap.

The Sauv Blanc trap is where you go to the supermarket shelf on a Friday night, tired after the week and you reach for the same bottle as usual. There is a whole world of wine to explore and I wanted to bring readers on the journey with me.

But let’s face it, people love Sauvignon Blanc and who am I to ruin a great love? So in this issue, we’re sticking with the beloved white but I’m still going to challenge readers a bit by encouraging them to up their budget a bit and appreciate one of the best Sauv Blanc regions in the world, Sancerre.

Sancerre is an appellation in the Loire Valley of central France and one of the key characteristics of this wine is that it takes on a firm, minerally depth, usually described as flint. This comes from the limestone soil in the area and really adds a complexity to the wine. It works great with seafood and salads, perfect for Neven’s menu.

For our second wine variety, we’re also sticking with another popular white, Pinot Grigio which comes from the Veneto region in northeast Italy, best known for its capital Venice. This is a lighter style of wine with a slight bitterness which will complement the fresh, delicious seafood flavour. It’s not as complex as the Sancerre but both wines are coming in at a much more affordable price point so you’ll have lots of different price point options for your dinner party.

Tesco Finest Sancerre

Tesco | €22

You’ll often find with many supermarket-branded wine, that the region will be highlighted, rather than the vineyard. Its still being sourced from excellent land and in order to be called Sancerre, it must meet strict regulations. However, it allows them to source grapes from different vineyards while still maintaining brand consistently on the shelves. On the nose, this wine has lovely delicate floral notes which leads you to well-balanced taste profile of citrus flavours, especially lemon as well as peach and melon. It has good minerality with a long creamy finish which will complement Neven’s seafood pasta.

Sancerres les Fossiles Domaine Roblin

O’Briens Wines | €28.95

Many of the independent off-licences are more focused on celebrating the vineyard and this wine is certainly made for a celebration. The winery is run by Matthias and Emile Roblin and it’s a fourth-generation, sustainably-farmed, family-owned and run estate. On the nose, those delicate floral notes shine through again but it’s nuanced with more fruit flavours such as apple. Taking a sip, lemon and lime shine through buts its softened with orchard fruit, again the apple with a pop of pear. That flinty minerality is easy to find but still well balanced and works well with its crisp acidity.

Castellore Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie

Specially Selected range at Aldi | €7.99

The Specially Selected wine range in Aldi is really accessible, and I’m not talking about the amount of Aldi stores in the country. What I mean is their labels are really accessible giving customers a snapshot of the taste profile as well as suggested food pairings. Lots of readers are telling me they like this approach. On the nose, citrus flavours are immediately recognisable, specifically lime but on the palate, it’s more about celebrating orchard fruits such as apples and pears. It’s very fresh with this brilliant acidity that will work well with the seafood pasta but also the satay sauce.

Laudato Pinot Grigio

Simply Better range at Dunnes Stores | €12.99

Another wine that will work great with this dish is the Laudato Pinot Grigio. On the nose, we’re getting lots of citrus, as expected, with lovely pops of lemon and lime and a hint of stone fruit. On the palate, that citrus continues through, complemented by grapefruit and green apple. Again, we’re treated to lots of acidity and it’s a very crisp wine. It’s a little tart but not enough to overpower it. What sets the Sancerre apart from the Pinto Grigio (apart from the price point) is the finish. The finish on both Pinots is nice and clean but its not as long and pronounced as the Sancerre (and you wouldn’t expect it to be).

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