What to buy in Vinbudin
There's a very small section here of wines under 1.500 kr, because there isn't much in this range which isn´t boring grape juice or paint stripper. The problem in Iceland is that every bottle has a fixed amount of tax, so the less you pay, the less the value of the wine. Most of the cost of a bottle of Funky Llama or Concho y Toro is made up of tax, whereas a wine for around 2.000 kr will have much more money spent on the wine itself.
NB: For non-Icelandic readers, there are approximately 200 Icelandic kronur to the British £, or 120 kronur to the US $, though this changes like the weather here....
Cheap and Easy
Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay (W) 1.290 kr
I would never normally advocate buying a wine that mixed Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonny, but needs must, and this is a successful attempt given the price. Glen Carlou is a first rate South African winery and this offering manages to combine fresh and zippy Sauvignon with some fruity, lightly-oaked Chardonnay.
Norton Malbec (R) 1.530 kr
Norton is well-known for making high-quality and excellent-value Malbecs - the king of Argentinian red wines. Deep red in colour, this wine marries warm and spicy black fruits with soft and smooth tannins.
Alamos Chardonnay (W) 1.897 kr
Elegant, nutty and floral with sweet fruit and oak on the palate and a fine creamy finish. Something for a good roast chicken or heavy fish supper, or even taking as a present.
Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (W) 1.950 kr
For those of use who like slightly sweet wines, award-winning wine guru Dr Loosen produces some of Germany's best whites. If Pinot Noir is considered the greatest red grape, then Riesling is the greatest white. Capable of producing a whole range of styles andalso ageing well, this wine is a perfect example of a modern, well-made German Riesling. It may not be considered a plus point in Iceland, but the fact that it's only 8% means that you can sip this divine fresh nectar without falling into random strangers' arms. It's perfect summer drinking (we can but hope!), outside, chilledand by itself. It also hasn't risen in price as much as the other wines featured here.
Alamos Malbec (R) 1.897 kr
Inky-black, full-bodied with violets and lush, silky blackberries - perfect for long winter nights. There's also Cabernet Sauvignon for the same price but it's not quite as good.
Montes Cabernet Sauvignon / Carmenere (R) 1.898 kr
You can smell the burnt caramel and luscious tropical fruits which have gone into making this inky, full-bodied, high alcohol, winter warmer of a wine. It boasts soft tannins, subtle oak and ripe fruit which makes it so easy to drink, but still manages to show a little sophistication with its long seductive body. A very well-made Chilean red and surprisingly good value.
Push the Boat Out
Pfaffenheim Pinot Gris (W) 2.130 kr
Pinot Gris is the French version of the omnipresent Italian Pinot Grigio - however the Gallic version is far superior. Way more interesting, full-bodied, fragrant, semi-sweet, the Pfaffenheim Pinot Gris is currently my most favourite unusual white wine. Try it, you might love it!
Clay Station Viognier (W) 2.390 kr
Viognier is a very special grape and here is a chance to taste one from a good producer. It's an elegant, aromatic wine with luscious tropical fruit, but balanced by crisp acidity. Very tasty.
Yalumba Shiraz Viognier (R) 2.058 kr
This is a smooth fat little Ozzie darling which is perfect for sipping on its own. Luscious, warm plummy fruit, no oak and no harsh tannins, I can't think of a better red wine for evening drinking. For the clever ones who noticed, yes, Viognier is a white grape but in this wine it's mixed in with the Shiraz to give it a little floral exoticism and beautiful silky texture. The best thing though, is that the price didn't rise during the last tax hikes so it's now excellent value for money.
D'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz (R) 2.390 kr
Another big Aussie Shiraz; deep purple, full-bodied, licoricey and tannic. The wine maker at D'Arenberg, Chester Osborn, is famous for making funky, well-made, rich, fruit-driven wines which are always crowd-pleasers.
High End Swingers
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (W) 3.999 kr
This is somewhat of a cult wine in the UK which means it's pretty hard to get hold of. Fortunately for Iceland their ration is large enough to go round so you can find this rather special wine in many bars and restaurants. It's a classic New Zealand zippy, gooseberry-laden Sauvignon Blanc and is credited with introducing the world to this new style of Sauvignon back in the 1990's. Too bad the price has gone up 1.600 ISK in a year!
Cloudy Bay Chardonnay (W) 4.199 kr
One of the best oaked Chardonnays I have tasted. Beautifully complex, this is an elegant, savoury wine but still has some exciting (but controlled) New Zealand citrus fruit. The most remarkable thing about Cloudy Bay Chardonnay is the oak. I‘m no fan of oaked Chardonnays but the oak here is so seamlessly and smoothly integrated it gives the wine a long, slender, velvety backbone and deep complexity. It‘s a rich, fascinating, but unfussy wine, which will keep you occupied for hours. It's also gone up 1.700 ISK in a year.
Nights to Remember
This (small) section is only for wines which I have tried and would contemplate having with only very special wine-savvy friends on very special occasions. The annoying thing about good wine is that once you've tried them, it's hard to go back to drinking everyday plonk........life is tough!
Dom Perignon Champagne 16.707 kr
Apologies, but I had to include this! Dom Perignon is always a vintage champagne which makes it special to start with, but it's far better than the 'normal' vintage champagnes you can find. If served correctly and in the right environment, it's probably the best champagne you will ever taste. Too bad it's gone up 5,000 kronur in a year!