Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Opening Hours

After a trying run in to Christmas in a very beautiful but logistically difficult Dalkey, we are looking forward to a well-deserved rest. The following are our opening hours over the Christmas period:

Christmas Day - Monday 27th - closed

Tuesday 28th - Friday 31st - open from 11AM to 6PM

The shop will then be closed until Tuesday January 11th when we return from our annual break. Wholesale customers can reach me on my usual number for wholesale orders.

A very Happy Christmas to everyone and looking forward to a good 2011.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Services this weekend

The weather forecast is looking rather scary for this weekend, so we would like to remind you that we offer free local delivery for those of you who can’t get out. For those of you that do, we will be having fantastic tastings all weekend as well as great deals on all your favourite wines. So venture out, come in and see us and we will welcome you with a nice glass of wine!
Some specials include :

St Michelle Sparkling wine – last remaining bottles reduced from €20 to only €10

John’s Blend Cabernet Sauvignon reduced from €35 to €20 per bottle….

Case deals available on Bordeaux, Burgundy, Sancerre etc etc etc.

Fingers crossed the weather won’t be as bad as forecast!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Come on Tomas, come out and see us!

I had a run in with the Bridgestone Guide a number of years ago, when they had included us in their guide, but descibed us as "an offshoot of the Cabot empire". Now I am happy and proud that Liam and myself continue to work well together, importing wines, sharing expertise and information and generally working very closely with each other, but I had to let the Bridgestone people know that Cabot and Co and On the Grapevine are very much separate entities and both operations very much stand on their own two feet. The bottom line was that Bridgestone had never set foot in the shop, so how they were in any way placed to include us remains a mystery. I was amazed at the lack of research in a guide that deems itself to be an expert on all things gastronomic. If they were recommending us, but had no idea what we were like, on what basis do their other recommendations stand? The upshot of it was that I politely asked them just to leave us out of the guide altogether.

Now, Tomas Clancy, I have met you on numerous occasions over our 12 years in business and you keep saying you must come out to visit us, but we still haven't seen you. Dalkey is not that far away, so hop on a dart and we will be glad to see you. We might even open something interesting for you. Then, feel free to exclude us from your various top ten listing as per today's paper!

By the way, the only gripe I would have with the lists is Tesco as the number 1 in multiples. Not sure about that - I know they have a big market share as a result of their bogus half-price promos, but surely Superquinn have a better range? Just sayin'.....

Now back to packing shelves.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Irish Times Wines of the Year

At some stage, I will get my thoughts together on the year gone by, but for now I just want to record the wines of ours that are featured in today's Irish Times. I have known John Wilson for many years now and I have said before I really think he has a great palate and is very fair in his spread of recommendations. His picks from our range this year are a couple of old favourites and a couple of new wines to the list.

Clos Petite Bellane Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2007 - should be €15
"A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache, this is a beautifully made wine with plenty of warm, ripe dark fruits. Unlike many southern Rhones, it also has a lovely clean elegance and soft purity of fruit. Great value and worth seeking out. Try it with grilled or roast pork."

Chinon Les Granges, Bernard Baudry 2008 - €15
"Baudry is one of my favourite producers of Cabernet Franc in the Loire, making wonderfully elegant wines. This has some very intense, pure summer fruits and leafy notes, bound lightly by some dry tannins. It may improve further, but you will find it irresistable now. This would go perfectly with some slightly fatty pork dished, either hot or cold."

Felton Road Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2008 €45
"The current 2008 vintage is drinking beautifully and would go very nicely with a roast goose. Lovely vibrant piquant  dark cherry fruits, smooth on the palate with a light spiciness."

Clos Petite Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas "les Echalas" Blanc 2007 €24
"This was one of my star wines of teh summer, a superb rich white wine packed with peaches and apricots, subtle, perfectly judged oak, and a streak of mineral acidity. It fills the mouth with flavour and lingers beautifully. Not cheap, but well worth a splurge. Try it  with full-flavoured fish dishes or grilled chicken."

Other wines in the supplement that you can find chez nous include:

Bisol Prosecco
Grange Dapot Corbieres
Simone Joseph Syrah
Muga Rioja
Chateau du Cedre Cahors
Pellehaut Cotes de Gascogne
Birgit Eichinger Gruner Veltliner
Pieropan Calvarino
Innocent Bystander Moscato
Niepoort LBV
Alamos Malbec

A reasonable we just need it to stop snowing so that we can sell some wine!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bring out Your dead report

Thanks to Liam for being more together than me, you can read the list of wines with Liam's notes here .

From what I can remember, I was broadly in agreement with Liam's assessment of the wines.

Another great night, thanks again to John and Hugo, Sue etc...

New Wines from Spain - Castellroig

Spanish wines are on a good run at the moment. Really interesting wines are coming out of new, emerging wine regions such as Bierzo, Cigales, Yecla as well as the establishment of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Wines that are ripe, well-made yet have the character that people who like wine are looking for AND offer great value for money.
Carol went on holidays in northeastern Spain this year and went on a bit of a tasting binge. As well as tasting with the great and the good of Priorat, she also came across what we think might be a gem in a winery from Penedes called Castellroig.
Best known and widely acclaimed as a Cava producer, they also make a range of reds and whites, with really no weak wines in their whole range.
We have brought in their entry level white - a Xarello (a grape variety usually used for Cava). It is a delicious, bright, aromatic fruity wine which has a lovely clean mineral finish.
The red is Ull de Llebre, also known as Tempranillo. It gets 10 months in oak, is quite full bodied, really smooth, well-balanced and very tasty indeed.
We also brought in their Cava Brut - a world apart from "normal" Cava, this has concentration and complexity and finesse and is a really delicious sparkler.
The Cava is €20, the red and the white are both €15.
On tasting this weekend...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bring out Your Dead - the third rising

One week late for Halloween, we had our annual Bring out your Dead dinner last weekend, kindly hosted again by Hugo Arnold. It was the usual gathering of the great, the alright, the old and decrepit and the downright weird. But I want to talk about the wines ha ha!

Unfortunately, I left my notebook behind me, which reflects well on the amount of craic on the night but reflects rather badly on my professionalism as a wine commentator. When I get my notes back, I'll do a full report...

Beaufield Mews French Classics Dinner

I have been very slack on the blogging front for the last week or so, mainly because I have actually been busy, I am happy to report.
Quick roundup: Wine Fair went really well. It is always a good night and we haven't had a single one that I haven't enjoyed, but this was our best one ever. A big crowd, fantastic atmosphere and great support from our suppliers on the night - Searsons, Liberty, Comans and Wicklow Wine. Thanks again. The orders were really strong as well, so thanks to all who came, drank and ordered!

Next Friday night we have a French Classics Dinner in the Beaufield Mews. John Wilson (Irish Times) will be introducing the wines, Beaufield Mews will be putting together a French menu and the rest of us will be having a nice time.

I think this is nearly sold out, but if you want to try and come along, contact John at 01 2880375.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wine Fair final reminder

Final call for our 12 Annual Wine Fair on this Thursday, November 4th from 6pm to 9pm in Fitzpatrick’s Killiney Castle Hotel. Come along and bring your friends for a great night out, with 6 tables laden down with delicious wines for you to sample. Tickets cost €10, you can pay on the door if you can’t make it in to the shop in time to collect tickets.

On tasting we will have many old favourites as well as classic wines – Meursault, Amarone, Barolo, Champagne, Chateauneuf du Pape etc etc.

Not only do we have great wines open for tasting, we have great deals on those great wines! Highlights include :

Zenato Ripassa reduced by 20% to only €16 per bottle
Twiggy reduced by 19% to €13 per btl
San Giorgio Pinot Grigio down 20% to €8 per btl
Ste Michelle Sparkling down by 25% to €15 per btl
Trapiche Medalla Cabernet down by 23% to €17 per btl
Quiot Chateauneuf du Pape down by 18% to €23 per btl

And many more….hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is it really 40%?

Someone told me today that Tesco now have 40% market share in the Irish wine market. Does anyone know if this really is the case. When I was in the grocery trade many moons ago, Tesco and Dunnes were always fighting it out for leadershoip of the grocery trade, usually trading places around 23 - 24 % each, according to the Nielsen figures at the time. Tesco's share of the grocery trade may have increased slightly by now, but I'm pretty sure it's not 40%.

Therefore, if they have a higher share of the wine trade than they do of grocery in general, this means that below-cost selling in booze is working nicely for them and probably helping build share in grocery in general.

Before I go on a rant, I need to get the facts, gather my thoughts and try to do it coherently.

Anyone got the facts?

@superquinnwine maybe?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wine Fair Reminder

I can believe it's coming round so fast - the Wine Fair is on next week! Carol has been busy putting the lists of wines together, talking to suppliers, organising Sheridans to arrive with some nice cheeses, it's all coming together.

Huge range of wines to taste, discounts of upto 25% - not to be missed.

Make sure to book your place, tickets are only €10.

Date: Thursday November 4th, 2010 from 6pm to 9pm.

Place : Fitzpatricks Killiney Castle Hotel

Call us on 01 2353054 for more details.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All you can drink for €10?

No this isn't an attempt to go one better than the supermarkets in trying to flog cheap booze, we wouldn't be so irresponsible!

We have our wine fair on Thursday November 4th from 6pm to 9pm in Fitzpatrick's Castle Hotel. Tickets cost €10, taste over 100 wines, Sheridans cheese; we will have discounts of upto 25% on certain wines. It will be a great night, spread the news!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Central Otago Tasting this morning

I was at a Central Otago Masterclass this morning, held in the Hilton in Charlemont Place. Struggling as I am with a pretty bad headcold and still recovering from a weekend in the lovely town of Bremen, I wasn't in the best of shape, but I thought Pinot Noir, especially from one of the most exciting Pinot regions in the world, was worth the effort.

We had three flights of 5 wines, each flight from different vintages. For the record, the wines were as follows:

2008 - light vintage, elegant, bright fruit
Domain Road
Maori Point
Desert Heart Mackenzies Run
Coal Pit Tiwha
Te Mara

2007 - big on concentration, small on quantity - very lush, ripe concentrated wines
Northburn Station
Akarua Cadence
Felton Road
Bannock Brae Barrel Selection

2006 - like 2008, but signicantly warmer, the wines are more tannic, higher in acidity, less fruit-driven
Pisa Range
Prophets Rock
Mount Difficulty
Olssens Jackson Barry

I wasn't familiar with most of these wines, the only ones I had tasted before were Mount Difficulty and Felton Road. There was a very clear difference between the three vintages and quality was high throughout, as were the prices (Felton Road was about average price, to give you an idea). The uniting theme, I suppose, throughout all the wines was the purity and brightness of the fruit.

A couple of interesting issues came up in the discussions throughout the morning:

1. There was only one bottle closed under cork. One of the bottles was corked and there seemed to be a bit of bottle variation, even with the good bottles.All the rest were in perfect condition.

2. Terroir. Or lack thereof. It was put to the speaker that, outside of Burgundy, terroir wasn't a relevant issue. That there are plenty of New World Pinot Noirs now with excellent fruit, well made wines at reasonable prices. What is so special about Otago?

3. Prices. All the wines we tasted would retail in Ireland for between €30-€50 (the prices on the sheet supplied were, as usual, completely wrong). Why are they so high?

My own thoughts? The wines, while expensive, were  all of a very high quality. It would be unsual to get that consistency in a tasting of Pinot Noirs from anywhere else. Central Otago does seem to have something about it that produces excellent Pinot Noir. Even in 3 wildly different vintages, the wines were very, very good, but obviously with a lot of vintage variation. To get vintage variation ,but still churn out high quality is admirable.
In many cases, the vines are still very young. If they can produce wines of this quality with vines that are only 10-15 years old, surely the future holds great promise. It is maybe expecting too much to expect great expressions of terroir with vines so young. They are getting complexity, concentration, great fruit expression and balance; maybe the minerality will come. Maybe it won't. Maybe it doesn't matter, as someone else pointed out.
These are hand-crafted wines made by small wineries in a very remote part of the world in a marginal climate with a notoriously fickle grape variety. Of course, they are expensive. The big question is, are they worth it?
We are finding it hard to sell Felton Road at the moment because few are spending that kind of money on any wine at the moment. However, I really do believe the quality is there to justify the price. It is unfair to compare Otago with Burgundy because they are completely different animals. It's like comparing top Australian Shiraz with Cote Rotie. Taken on their own merits, there is complexity, balance, purity of expression. That's good enough for me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Making room...

We have a few things we need to clear to make room for stock for Christmas. These are limited stocks, so once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Isole del Sole Rosso – RRP €10.99 - now €7.99
This is a soft fruity red from Argiolas, the best producer from Sardinia. Brilliant value at this price.

Terres d’Azur Merlot– RRP €10.99 now €7.99
Soft fruity, easy drinking, exactly what you would expect from a Languedoc Merlot. However, we don’t work with this producer and have only a dozen or so cases left. If you would like a some great everyday red to have on hand for the evenings drawing in, this one is great value.
Vignes d’Oc Blanc RRP €9.99 now €7.99
Clean, fresh, fruity, very easy do drink, this is a blend of Grenache Blanc and unoaked chardonnay. Again, a good all-rounder and a great one to stock up on.

Argiolas Perdera 2007 RRP €14.99 now €12.00
A blend of 90% Monica, 5% Carignano and 5% Bovale Sardo, (all indigenous varieties), it spends a brief sojourn of 5-6 months in French oak. This delicious, hearty red has loads of dark cherry fruit , soft tannins and a spicy finish. Well worth a try.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On tasting this weekend

We got some new Bordeaux in - Chateau Noaillac 06 back in stock and I ordered a few cases of this stuff to try. Hadn't tasted it before I ordered which is usually asking for trouble, but pleasantly surprised. Good fruit, decent structure, well rounded and smooth, very happ indeed. On tasting this weekend, its around €20ish.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The numbers don't add up

In last Sunday's Tribune, Lar Veale recommended three wines - Protocolo from O'Briens and two wines from Aldi - one at a fiver, the other a Chilean Merlot at €4.69. I know that journos are there to give their recommendations as they see fit and the tumbling prices and incredible value in wine is great from a consumers point of view. Nobody is challenging the figures though, asking how is it so cheap? For those of you at the back who haven't been paying attention, here's how a wine at €4.69 breaks down:

Retail Price €4.69
Less Vat 21% €0.81
Leaves €3.88
Less duty €2.05
Leaves €1.83
Less transport €0.50 (conservative - has to get from Chile to Germany, Germany to Ireland etc)
Less materials €0.50 (bottle, label, closure, outer box etc)
Leaves €0.83  for both Aldi and the poor guy who has to make the stuff.

Even the most basic industrial swill will cost at least 1 euro per litre, so what's going on?

Option 1
The wine is really really cheap. In which case it will not be good enough for Lar to like it?

Option 2
Aldi are selling below cost - legal, but not sustainable

Option 3
Aldi love the Irish people so much that they just want to give them wine as cheaply as possible and are not interested in profit.

I suspect it is some combination of 1 and 2. I don't know. But somebody knows. And somebody should be asking the question on behalf of the consumer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This tastes ok, but can I drink it?

I thought there was an interesting comment by John Wilson in the Irish Times last Saurday, when he was talking about a Rioja that tasted thin and weedy in tasting, but was delicious with dinner. Is it possible for wines to taste and drink differently?

When we do tastings in the shop, as we do every weekend, it is noticeable that a fruity, soft merlot or shiraz from the Australia or Chile always gets a better reaction than a Bordeaux or a Chianti, both of which can be a bit dry and tannic when tasted on their own. If it is 12 noon on a Saturday afternoon and you are grappling with a hangover, it can be even tougher. and yet, these wines are often better wines and, presented in a different context - preferably over dinner - most people would probably prefer them.

You can draw your own conclusions about the implications of this phenomenon in terms of wine shows, critics ratings and the unsurprising Parkerisation of the wine world.

In terms of buying wine, this is often done in the unreal world of the wine fair, such as Vinexpo, VinItaly or any of the other ones around the world. However, when making a decision about whether or not to import a wine, we usually try to introduce a bit of rigour to the process by requesting samples to be sent to us back in Ireland, where we taste them blind against their peers. Then we rate them, but also reveal them and drink them over dinner. It is a combination of the blind tasting and the performance of the wine over dinner which informs our decision. If it performs well in the blind tasting AND is one of the first bottles to empty, then we know we are on to something.

So, I think tasting and drinking are two connected, but separate things. Drinking is more informative and better fun. It also is a lot more time-consuming. Sometimes, you have to taste and try to make an informed judgement about how the wine will drink with a meal, which is the primary purpose of wine...

I'm sure that all our esteemed wine critics can make this distinction and this judgement and are rarely seduced by showy, blockbuster fruit-driven monsters with new oak, heavy bottles?!

What do you think?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beaufield Mews Languedoc Dinner next Tuesday

Next Tuesday, September 14th, we are hosting a Languedoc dinner in Beaufield Mews in Stillorgan. The good people in Beaufield have devised a special menu featuring dishes from the region and we will match them up with the following wines, introduced by Jean-Michel Langevin, an expert in wines from this region:

Domaine Grauzan Sauvignon Blanc
Cuvee Paredaux Blanc
Chateau Larzac Coteaux de Languedoc
Mas de Martin Cuvee Roi Patriote
Mas de Martin Cuvee Ultreia

Cost per head is €50, all in including food and wine. Champagne will be available from 7.30, we will eat at 8pm. Call John or Julie on 01 2880375 - there are still a few places'll be a great night!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tasty line up for Yalumba dinner next Tuesday

I just got the line-up of wines for the Yalumba dinner next Tuesday, this will be a great night.

First the food: we are doing the regular Jaipur Tasting menu  - this menu is normally €45 so the deal we have is pretty good at €50 incl wine. Jaipur have been at the forefront of quality Indian cuisine in this country for years now - their food is modern, authentic, balanced. Service is exemplary.

The wines to be presented by Jane Ferrari of Yalumba Wines are as follows:

Y Series Riesling
Y Series Chardonnay
Y Series Shiraz/Viognier

Barossa Viognier
Patchwork Shiraz

The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon
The Signaure Cabernet Shiraz

Late Harvest Botrytis Viognier


Friday, August 20, 2010

Get yourself some glasses!

If you are into music, it is worthwhile spending money on decent speakers. If you are into cars, you can appreciate the value in a good set of wheels. So it is with wine glasses. If you like and appreciate wine, it is worth investing in decent glasses. Good wine glasses can improve the drinking experience immeasurably. There are none finer than Riedel, who make several ranges of glasses, designed specifically for different wine styles.
I was a sceptic of the efficacy of Riedel glasses until we did a taste test, trying different wines in normal wine glasses versus their Riedel equivalents. There difference was startling. If you try a Chardonnay in a paris goblet versus a Riedel Chardonnay glass, you would expect the Riedel to perform better. But even a chardonnay in a Chardonnay Glass versus a Sauvignon Blanc glass made a huge difference. I have been a Riedel convert ever since and rarely use anything else.
If you want to see what the fuss is for yourself, there is a tasting by Maximilian Riedel himself, no less, on in the brand new Convention Centre on Friday, September 17th. For information, contact Jean Smullen at

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is gonna be great - don't miss it!

The irrepressible Jane Ferrari, Yalumba's global wine ambassador is back in Dublin next month and we are delighted to host another dinner to celebrate the wines of Yalumba on Tuesday, September 7th in Jaipur, Dalkey.

We have stocked Yalumba wines since we opened over 11 years ago and I still rate them as some of the best Australian wines on the market. They have a number of different ranges at various different price levels and they all over deliver in terms of bang for buck. As well as, the expected Shiraz, Chardonnay etc, they also make some amazing Viogniers, classy Rieslings and the quality when you get up to the level of Menzies Cabernet and (my favourite) The Signature is really world-class.

Jane Ferrari is one of the best speakers I have ever seen in a wine context. She effortlessly combines a huge depth of wine knowledge with brilliant anecdotes, one-liners and off the cuff quips, making for a hugely entertaining and informative night.

Did I mention we are doing it in Jaipur? So the food will be brilliant as well.

So, World Class wines, brilliant speaker, the best Indian food in the us on 01 2353054 to book your place. Tickets are €50 per person to cover everything for the night.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thinking about Bordeaux

I have been thinking about Bordeaux a lot recently. I am a fan of its wines, I think that they can be some of the best wines you can get, when they are good. It is, of course, a bit of a minefield. They can be weedy, green and unpleasant at the lower end, and then it climbs a graph of price and quality until the prices just become out of reach for the average Joe.

So, there exists, I believe, an area where Bordeaux delivers not only an excellent wine experience, but also good value for money. The problem is, where does it lie - €10 - €30? €15-€40? €25-€60.

Anyone on for a tasting to find out?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Good deals for August


New Wines and Special Offers

Focussing on New World wines for a change….

Alamos Malbec – RRP €12.99 - now €9.99
Arguably Argentina’s best producer, Catena offers excellent value at every level of their extensive range. The Alamos Malbec is a fine example of Argentina’s best known grape variety with chunky dark fruit, soft tannins and a smooth finish. Excellent at this price.
Hellfire Bay Chardonnay – Western Australia – RRP €11.99 now €9.99
Easy-drinking wine from superstar producer Plantagenet, this is a soft, round fruity wine with just a touch of oak, very nice wine.

Innocent Bystander Shiraz – RRP €16.99 now €14.99
The guy on the label looks highly suspicious if you ask me, but this is a rich, lush Oz Shiraz, soft, full bodied and spicy; you won’t be disappointed.

La Motte Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa – RRP €11.99 now €9.99
This is classy stuff from top Franschoek producer La Motte, Crisp, fresh, grassy flavours – nicely aromatic and balanced.
New Wines

The Bogle range from California fills a gap that we have always had a problem with – namely the decent mid-range Californian. You can get cheap and nasty industrial swill and you can get outrageously expensive good stuff, but a decent bottle at €15 has been elusive. No more! With Old Vine Zin, Cabernet, Pinot, Chardonnay and even a delicious Chenin Blanc, this is a range worth looking at.
Portugal Promotion – Win a trip to Alentejo

Buy a bottle of Alentejo wine and you could be in with a chance to win a trip to this amazing wine region. We will have the wines on tasting next weekend – August 13th-15th, so you can try the wines and enter the competition.

Wine dinner coming up in September – details to follow….

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sort of a Spanish night

Our holiday in France had to be abandoned after 3 nights because of extreme crappiness on the part of our accomodation and the town of Port-La-Nouvelle - needs a post all on its own, but avoid at all costs. We ended up in Spain, where we had a great time.
To sort of celebrate that and all things Spanish, we had a night with friends very loosely based around Spanish wines. 

To start, we had Rafa's Cava - Olle Roig, or roig Olle or whatever it's called. Nice anyway, a good cut above the usual uninspiring stuff from Cava, now churning out more bottles than champagne. Then we tried the 2009 Sancerre from Reverdy, just in. Riper than the 08 and higher in alcohol, but really delicious - bone dry, sculpted Sauvignon fruit and minerality to beat the band. Would happily drink it every day. Then we had Petalos from Bierzo - a very intersting wine from the Mencia grape. Floral. medium bodied with a silky sensuous texture. Disappeared alarmingly fast and we followed up with the top wine from Baron de Ley. Rioja crossed with Oz Shiraz, this was heady stuff, but not our of kilter, very good in fact. We had some Comte with Anticaia Riserva from Puglia to wrap things up, french cheese and Italian wine the perfect finsih to our Spanish evening!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Waterford Cabernet Sauvignon

Another bottle from the rack, this time Waterford cab Sauvignon from 2004. I often find reds from south Africa have a peculiar woody, stalky character in the background. I don't know if it's the oak, some sneaky pinotage slipped in or just my imagination.
Anyway, at 6 years old, this cabernet is packed with juicy blackcurrant fruit, soft tannis and lowish acidity. No sign of stalkiness. Nice stuff. Should be about 20 -25 euro

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July Offers

Below are our special offers for July, focussing on la bella Italia:

Taverna Nova Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Was €11.99 Now €8.99
A very decent Montepulciano with good fruit, medium body and smooth tannins – a bowl of pasta or a pizza and this is the perfect midweek special!

Alasia Sec (Moscato) Was €10.50 Now €8.50
The Alasia Sec is made from the Moscato grape - Aromatic and light bodied, this is a deliciously refreshing wine with mouth-watering rounded fruits.The perfect aperitif, or with light seafood dishes.

Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, San Giorgio Was €10.00 Now €8.00
A great all-rounder to drink with most fish and shellfish, as well as lighter chicken and pork dishes.Light aromatic with fresh juicy pears balanced by crisp citrus notes.

Lugana San Benedetto Zenato Was €13.99 Now €10.99
One of our shop favourites, now at an unbeatable price.
A deceptively full-flavoured wine with a good intensity of rich pear and apple fruits, finishing dry.This would go perfectly with richer seafood and shellfish dishes, such as scallops, crab or sea bass.

Barbera D’Asti Albera Araldica Was €10.50 Now €8.50
A refreshing red wine with lively dark cherry fruits and a smooth finish. Great with pork and chicken dishes, particularly when combined with pasta.

Primitivo Salento San Giorgio Was €10.00 Now €8.00
A fairly full-bodied wine with ripe loganberry and dark fruits, balanced with a light spiciness and a dry, lightly tannic finish.

Rosso Piceno Brecciarlo Velenosi Was €13.99 Now €10.99
An award-winning wine with voluptuous dark cherry fruits, light hints of spice and a long supple finish. A good partner for grilled pork and lamb dishes.

We will have the above wines on tasting at various stages throughout the month, so we hope to see you at some stage in July.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Santa Rita Floresta

I have always had a bit of a problem with brand new Chilean wineries launching "super-premium" wines. These are new estates, usually financed with money from the US or elsewhere, making wine by numbers and charging a fortune. Low yield Cabernet, lots of new oak, heavy bottle and a fancy label - hey presto - a super-premium, that'll be €50, thanks. No thanks, if I want to spend €50, you can get a bloody good bottle from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, Spain - even Australia - wines that have a lot more heritage behind them, hundreds of years in some cases and at that level, I still believe France delivers real value.

OK, if I had a tenner and the choice was between a juicy, fruity Chilean or a limp, insipid and austere Bordeaux, I know wher my money is better spent. But at €50? Not convinced....

Anyway, Santa Rita Floresta doesn't really fall into the bling category. It is a winery that has heritage to spare, this particular wine comes from 60 yo vines, naturally low-yielding. It normally retails at €35, but a recent Twitter tip-off led me to Superquinn where they were selling the 2002 Floresta for a tenner. We had it last night. It has everything you would expect of a top-end Chilean - rich, full-bodied with blackcurrant fruit jumping out the the glass. Good fruit concentration, good length - Pam thought the alcohol (14%) stood out a bit - I thought it was ok (she tends to be a bit more sensitive to that sort of thing). Normally, when we are drinking something at this level, the bottle tends to empty alarmingly quickly, but we didn't quite finish it.

All in all, I think that this is a serious, well-made wine to be taken on its own merits. It compares favourably with other examples at this level from Australia, US, Argentina etc. However, I still don't think I would pay €35. If it was €20, it would represent real value and would be a compulsive offering. At a tenner, it is amazing. At €35 though, I am still looking at Gevrey Chambertin, Margaux, Barolo, Amarone......

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No wine shop? No problem!

If you are thinking of heading down the country to your idyllic country retreat and the only cloud on the horizon (apart from the obvious ones) is the lack of a decent wine shop, fear not, because we are on hand to help you out.

We offer next day delivery to anywhere in the country and, as a summer special, if you order a case, we will deliver it for free. Just call us on 01 2353054 and we will do everything over the phone.

Whether it's Ballymoney or Ballbunion or Ballygobackwards, we will not let you go thirsty!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We had this the other night

We got a late text inviting us down to a friends house for a drink on Sunday night. We had a bottle of Domaine Hamelin Chablis Premier Cri "Beauroy" 2007 in the fridge and the in-laws ready to babysit, so we hopped on our bikes, Chablis in Pam's basket, and pretty much free-wheeled the whole way down to the waterfront (the cycle back up the hill was a long way off at that stage).

Our thoughtful friends had some nice Brie and another unspecified cheese ready and it was all very pleasant. Hamelin's Chablis always has a nice balance of typicity and drinkability that makes it an excellent example of its type. 2007 wasn't a stellar vintage, but Hamelin always seems to get great consistency in their wines. The 2007 Beauroy was delicious, steely and mineral as you would expect, but with nice ripe fruit and very good balance. Really good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Arrivederci - Italian wines on sale this weekend

With Ghana, South Korea, England and Uruguay among the qualifiers due to play this weekend, my plan to do amazing World Cup tastings is falling down around me.

Italy, the current World Champions, were turfed out of the World Cup unceremoniously by Slovakia this afternoon, a result which will result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the streets of Rome, Milan etc tonight.

To cheer them up in our own little way, we will be doing 10% off all Italian wines this weekend, lots of nice ones on tasting.

To those of you eating out, Beaufield Mews are doing the same thing except on French wine. Their list is already good value, so this is worth seeking out. And yes, I am blatantly plagiarising their idea!!

Some wines amaze...

We have been lucky enough to have been part of the couple of "Bring out your dead" wine tastings where people are asked to bring a bottle or two of wine that they have had for ages that might be over the hill. Or it might be brilliant. These occasions are always good fun and usually throw up some surprises about the longevity of wines.

I have written before about how Pieropan Soave has lasted 2 weeks in the fridge, still drinkable when we came back after our holidays. I got another such surprise with a wine called MArques de Allela 2005. This is a simple, light (11.5%) wine made in the hills outside Barcelona, meant to be drunk young, chilled and with fish. It always reminded me of a Spanish Picpoul with its twist of lemon and memories of seaside.

As far as I know, this wine isn't available in Ireland any more, but we found a bottle lurking in the fridge in the shop. I didn't want to sell it as, at 5 years old,  I assumed it was over the hill, but the colour seemed intact, so I took it home and it was as fresh as a daisy, delicious, light summery white.

Not so with the Ridge Chardonnay 2003, all of which seems to be completely oxidised. Oh well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dalkey Book Festival Report

What a great weekend! There was a great buzz around the town, the weather was great and everybody was in good form and having a good time. All the events were sold out and, while I didn't get to many of them myself as I was working, the reaction seemed to be very good indeed.

We had two events in the shop - the poetry reading on Saturday had the shop packed out with people to listen to readings by two local poets - Katie Donovan and Bernie Kenny. Later, John Wilson (Irish Times) did a brilliant tasting, laced with literary quotations and he had the 70 or so people well entertained and well watered with 7 wines. The favourites (going by the sales afterwards) seemed to be Verus Pinot Gris, Baudry Chinon and Basciano Chianti. Many thanks to John for doing such a great tasting.

Thanks also due do David McWilliams and his wife Sian Smyth for doing an amazing job organizing a world class event in such a short space of time, The Dalkey Business Group, the writers involved and of course, residents, customers and friends who turned out in great numbers to make the event a success.

Looking forward to next year already!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dalkey Book Festival - Activity this weekend

We are all busy getting ready for the festival this weekend, there is a great buzz around the town and a really amazing line-up of writers, talks and events right throughout the weekend.

Needless to say, we have some activity this weekend that may be of interest:

Saturday 3pm – Poetry reading by Dalkey poets Katie Donovan and Bernie Kenny – refreshments will, of course be supplied if you want to come along.
Saturday 6.30pm – Irish Times Wine tasting with John Wilson – quite a few people have already booked in for this, thanks. John has picked 7 of his favourite wines from our range and will do a light-hearted tutored tasting for us. This will take place in the courtyard behind the shop as the weather looks set to be nice for the weekend.
We are also doing 10% discount off EVERYTHING for the whole weekend – Friday to Sunday inclusive.
For all other details on events including such names as Maeve Binchy, Ross O’Carroll Kelly, Mark Little, Robert Fisk, John Connolly, Joseph O’Connor, Conor McPherson, David McWilliams and many more, see
The other event that I think will be great is the Midsummer BBQ in Fitzpatrick’s on Sunday evening – contact Fitzpatricks on 01 2305400 for details and to book a ticket.

I really hope you can support Dalkey and the festival and come along for a great weekend!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Irish Times Tasting this Saturday 19th June

John Wilson, wine writer with the Irish Times, is doing a tasting for us this weekend in the shop. The tasting will feature a selection of John's favourite wines from the shop which have been recommended recently by the Irish Times.

This is a free tasting, but call us on 01 2353054 if you would like to come along as we will need to prepare according to the numbers.

The tasting is part of the festival happening in Dalkey this weekend - see for a full programme.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Tasting - Italy v New Zealand

Our selective World Cup tasting whereby we only choose matched whose wines we like to tase for this weekend is as follows:

Italy - Casa Emma Chianti Classico


New Zealand - Muddy Water Sauvignon Blanc

It has a score draw written all over it....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec "Le Haut Lieu" 1995 - one day offer

Huet Vouvray is probably the most affordable truly WORLD CLASS wine. I have about 12 bottles left of the dry version from 1995. 15 years old, this wine is fully mature and there is a little bottle variation. Some bottles are magical, some are great, some are heading towards the tired end of the spectrum. None are less than interesting, however.

At this stage of their development, the flavours are tertiary, vegetal, mushroomy very very complex, but you need to be prepared for it and be ready to get your head around it.

However, it does need to be consumed soon so I want to move them on. This is a genuine 1/2 price deal on amazing wine. Normal price is €30 - you can get a bottle for €15 today and tomorrow (Wed/Thurs).

First come, first served!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Domaine La Cabotte Cotes du Rhone "Colline" 2007

We found this wine at Vinisud - a wine fair in Montpellier - earlier this year and agreed to taste with them partly because of the name. My partner in crime in terms of wine importation is Liam Cabot, you see, so it had a certain resonance. To make matters worse, thye even have a Cuvee "Gabriel", must remember to order some of that next time.

Anyway, we were amazed by the wine - rich, ripe crushed blueberries on the nose, soft smooth tannins, lush fruit on the palate, soft and elegant and very pleasant to drink.

Produced biodynamically by the almost impossibly French-sounding Marie-Pierre Plumet d'Ardhuy, this is very, very good Cotes du Rhone and quite a bargain, in my humble if biased opinion.

Friday, June 4, 2010

World Cup Tastings

The first of our world cup-themed tastings kicks off this weekend with a random selection of South African wines. Will we be able to avoid France? Probably not....with the wine so good, you have to let bygones be bygones.

Keep watching here for future tastings - I saw Italy are to play New Zealand at some stage. The tasting will be more interesting than the football...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recap of Wine Club Dinner in Dali's

I am a bit late getting my act together as I was away for the weekend, but we had a great night in Dali's last week. The food, as you would expect was very, very good and we had 27 people there to sample some good food and wine. The wine lineup was La Riva dei Frati, Fattori and Enzo Boglietti. The wines were introduced by Giussepina Andreacchio, seen here in full flight.

In general, the prosecco, as always went down very well, all the whites went down well, with some differing views about the favourite choice between the Pinot Grigio, Soave and Sauvignon which are all clean, well-made wines, feflecting well their respective characteristics. With the reds, I felt the Nebbiolo, while very good, needed a bit more time. Lots of people preferred the Dolcetto, but I felt the Barbera was the star. The surprise of the night was the universally liked Recioto di Soave which washed down dessert very nicely.

A good time had by all, more photos on ...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Italian Dinner in Dali's tomorrow

Line up for dinner in Dali's tomorrow night:

Prosecco La Riva dei Frati

Fattori Pinot Grigio

Fattori Soave

Fattori Sauvignon

Enzo Boglietti Dolcetto

Enzo Boglietti Barbera

Enzo Boglietti Nebbiolo

Fattori Recioto

Monday, May 17, 2010

Baudry Chinon in Irish Times last Saturday

John Wilson's tasting nore from Irish Times, Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Chinon Les Granges, Domaine Bernard Baudry 2008, 12%, €14.99.
I mentioned Baudry in passing a few weeks back as one of my favourite producers of Cabernet Franc in the Loire. Since then I have had the opportunity to taste this wonderful elegant wine once more. It offers up some very intense, pure summer fruits and leafy notes, bound lightly by some dry tannins. It may improve further, but irresistible now. This would go perfectly with slightly fatty pork dishes, hot or cold. Stockists: On the Grapevine, Dalkey; Liston’s, Camden Street (both Dublin); World Wide Wines, Waterford; Market 57, Westport; The Wine Room at No. 1 Pery Square, Limerick.

Couldn't have put it better myself...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wine Dinner Wednesday May 19th

We are hosting an Italian Wine Tasting Dinner in Dali's Restaurant Blackrock. The theme is Northern Italy, food will be provided by Dali's ( always excellent) and wine provided by us.

The cost is a very keen €50 per head to include all food and wine on the night.

Call 01 2353054 to book or email

Special Offers for May

Verdicchio, Velenosi – was €13, now €10.50
Crisp, fresh and summery, this is a delicious Italian white that is great on its own or with seafood, salads etc. If you want a change from Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon, try this.

Araldica Gavi – was €16.00, now €13.00.
See above, but from Piedmont. Lovely fresh fruit, with a medium body and a slight hint of almonds. Excellent value.

Rully, Domaine de l’Ecette – RRP €20, now €15
Drinkable and affordable make uneasy bedfellows in Burgundy, so this is an offer not to be missed. Easy-drinking, delicious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is one to stock up on for the summer.

Domaine de Fondreche – Cotes de Ventoux
This is one of the top estates in the Southern Rhone operating to biodynamic principles and always very high quality wines:

Cuvee Nature (no sulphites) – was €16, now €13
Cuvee Fayard – was €16, now €13
Cuvee Persia – was €25, now €18

Please note these wines are very limited!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baudry Chinon Les Granges

On Wednesday, we opened this for a couple of customers to try and finished the remainder of the bottle that night with a bowl of spaghetti carbonara - not necessarily the most obvious food and wine matching, but this is what happens on a Wednesday night in the real world where you eat and drink what is to hand.

Happily, everything worked well, the crisp acidity natural in Cabernet Franc cutting through the carbonara nicely. I really like Cabernet Franc and Baudry's wines are always in the top tier of what is on offer from Loire reds. Loads of fruit, crisp acidity and frim tannins make for a delicious food wine, perfect for summer, if we ever get one.

Catch up

Very slack this week, so a quick catch up. On Monday (it was a bank holiday), we treated ourselves to a bottle of Darviot Perrin Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Bondues" 2005. Something of a rarity, red Chassagne can be a good value offering from the Cotes de Beaune, often coming in less expensive than its more sought-after white cousins. This is from a great producer and a great vintage. still a baby, we decanted it and it was still quite tight, but had an intense core of dark fruit, more fruit of the forest than the red fruits you might expect. Long, mineral finish, this has a long and glorious life ahead of it.

Nothing on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baudry Chinon Rose

We had fresh tuna last night- it was supposed to be a salad nicoise, but the potatoes didn't look like salad material, so I fried them instead - tasted good anyway. With the tuna, we had the Baudry Chinon Rose. As you can see from the picture, this is a very delicate salmon colour. It is delicate all over actually, delicate nose and delicate fruit on the palate. Crisp acidity and a real mineral finish make this a great food wine as opposed to a sitting-in-the-garden type of rose. We liked it and finished the bottle, which is always a good sign.

I think this might feature in the Irish Times soon as well, so keep an eye out...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wexford Wine Circle

I did a tasting with these nice people last week in the Talbot Hotel, Wexford and I am a bit late getting around to my report of the night...
I am, of course, originally from Co. Wexford (Oulart, to be exact) so I am reasonably familiar with the lie of the land in these parts; it was still my first tasting in 7 years in Wexford.
We tasted:

Prosecco La Riva dei Frati
Pinot Grigio, Gregoris
Soave, Pieropan
Dolcetto d'Alba, Enzo Boglietti
Chianti Rufina, Basciano
Salice Salentino Riserva, San Donaci
Cerasuolo di Vittoria, COS
Barolo, Boroli

We started off safe with the old stalwarts of Prosecco and Pinot Grigio, and then wandered slightly off the beaten track with such lovely wines as COS Cerasuolo and the Dolcetto from Enzo. The wines were all well received, everyone had their favourites, but I was really pleased with the reaction.

It is good now and then to taste the wines in public, it renews your faith in the wines you sell.

Good night had by all...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hamelin Chablis drinking nicely

The 2008 vintage of this is drinking very nicely - we had some people over ofr lunch on Sunday and it went down very easily indeed....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bellinter House

I read in the Irish Times today that Bellinter House, owned by Jay Bourke and John Reynolds, is going into voluntary liquidation, but staying open and will in future be run by a new company, Patrick Hotels, also owned by Jay Bourke and John Reynolds.

We are thankfully not involved, but presumably the trade creditors will get screwed in the liquidation process. Meanwhile, they just carry on with a new company...

Anyone know how does this work? Do I have the wrong end of the stick?

Vigna Piccola Chianti Classico Riserva 2001

I don't stock this or know how much it costs or even know where I got it, but we really enjoyed this when we had it on Saturday night. Bright, clear Sangiovese fruit, good concentration and nice ripe, smooth tannins. Finished it rather quickly between us. Very niiiice...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taverna Nova Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

The Italians are great. With hundreds of wine regions, styles, grape varieties and quality variations that span the very best and the very worst of winemaking, they must have been having a laugh when they decided to give the same name to two vastly different wines. Montepulciano the lovely town in Tuscany lends its pretty name to the sometimes wonderful Sangiovese-based winesVino Nobile di Montepulciano and its little sibling Rosso di Montepulciano - see Poliziano for top examples of both.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, on the other hand is from Montepulciano, the grape variety and comes from Abbruzo on the east coast of Italy, heading south. It is a wine often viewed as a somewhat rustic country cousin of its more polished Tuscan namesakes, a view that somewhat compares apples with oranges as they tend to be at very different price points.

The version viewed to the right is a good example, chunky, dark fruit soft tannins, fresh acidity. Give it a bowl of meatballs on a Tuesday night, watching the football or whatever and you will not go wrong. Now only €8.99. Bargain.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Simone Joseph Chardonnay

I don't know that much about the origins of this wine, it is bottled under the Simone Joseph label, designed as a house wine by Simon Tyrell, esteemed importer and expert on all things Rhone. This is from the South of France and is quite different from the Grauzan Chardonnay of a few days ago. Quite full, and rich this has good depth of flavour and has is quite like a decent Macon. At €10.99, if you get a decent MAcon, you are doing well. So I think this is a very pleasant drink and good value for money, despite a slightly curious dusty finish - might be just me ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Anticaia Salice Salentino Riserva 2006

New vintage of this just came in so I was curious to try it. This comes from Puglia, is made entirely from Negroamaro and gets aged in barriques for 2 years.This wine often reminds me of the wines from the Southern Rhone - surprisingly light in colour, big flavours, highish alcohol and a savoury character - many of the characteristics of Grenache. But there is more - a baked fruit character, rich and smoky with that pleasant acidity that many Italian wines have that make them such a great match with food. Something different that delivers great bang for your buck and an authentic taste of the South of Italy, try this with spaghetti and meatballs, chilli or any food that packs a punch.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Domaine Grauzan Chardonnay

What is the hidden meaning of the phone beside the bottle? It means I am a crap photographer, that's what. Anyway, Domaine Grauzan Chardonnay has just come in. For many years now, Domaine Grauzan has been a reliable source of good quality, well made, straightforward wines at reasonable prices. The wines are not the type of wines to stop you in your tracks or change your world forever, but they do a great job at being unpretentious, easy-drinkng wines. Exactly what you want mid-week or as a house wine in a restaurant. It's like the Ronseal of wines - it tastes clearly of its declared varietal and it won't let you down. So it is with this Chardonnay. Unoaked, fresh, fruity, straightforward and very easy to drink. Pass it blind to a committed ABCer and they would probably love it, because there isn't oak or butter or anything heavy about this wine, just fresh appley fruit. Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Verdicchio are all great in their own way, but it's good to re-visit something like this. Well worth a try at around €11. It might even be under €10 for a limited time in the shop, where it is on tasting this weekend. Go see!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A wine a day

I have been thinking for a while about changing my blog from just random meanderings and ranting about stuff to doing a wine review with the aim of doing a wine a day. I also considered doing video reviews like some of the more intrepid bloggers out there, (yes, that's you Matt and Lar etc), but I decided i have a face more suited to the written word.
Let me state right now that it won't be a wine a day because I will inevitably miss some days, but it will be as regular as possible. It will also feature quite a lot of wines from the shop, as that is what I taste most, but I will also review samples, bottles I buy elsewhere - whatever I taste, I will try to include. I will try to be as impartial as possible, but of course I like the wines we sell. However, expect some honest (negative) opinions as well!
Here goes....
Alpha Zeta Soave 2008 12.5%
Why start here? Because the bottle is open, that's why.In fact it has been open a few days now, so it mightn't be as fresh as it should be. This is made by Liberty Wines under the supervision of excellent winemaker Matt Thompson. It is made by a co-op outside Verona, near Soave where all the Alpha Zeta range is made. It's a good way of delivering good quality at a reasonable price and it is a strategy that I assume works well for Liberty. This has pear drops on the nose, typical of what you would expect from a modern wine of this type. It has decent weight of fruit, pears and apples and apricots. It's like skipping through a meadow on an early summer's day, fruit and flowers and looking forward to Wimbledon. Decent stuff for a tenner, look for the 2009, this needs to be drunk as early as possible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More madness, from Scotland this time

My mother-in-law is not my most reliable source of political news, she would make a lively contributor to Fox News, but she informed me over the weekend that that Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP, is talking about banning wines at ober 10% abv. The SNP is worried about the amount of binge-drinking going on in Scotland and the various problems it causes with disorderly behaviour, health problems etc. It is a story we are familiar with on this side of the Irish Sea.

So, how would this work, exactly? Sell only Liebfraumilch or will producers be asked to dilute their wines? That'll get rid of any fanciful of notions of terroir. Maybe, the Spanish will be asked to harvest in July, to make sure the grapes don't have enough sugar to ferment above 10%.

I noted that they weren't talking about whiskey (some slight domestic political issues to deal with), vodka (surely a bigger problem than wine?) or anything else - just wine.

In my experience, fighting in the street is not the natural result from a nice meal and a bottle of Vosne Romanee. Vodka, red bull and a mixture of cocaine, e, and whatever you like from the local headshop are a more potent mixture.

As usual, it is a case of politicians coming up with the wrong answer to a question that isn't being asked. From a casual observation of the fine people walkin around where I was at the weekend, the SNP would be better off banning chips.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

COS Cerasuolo - a wine lover's wine

We have been fans of COS Cerasuolo for nearly 10 years now and it is great to see it recognised in this month’s Decanter as the finest example of one of Italy’s hidden gems and Sicily’s only DOCG, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico.

Check for more info.

Here is the note from Decanter:
COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico 2007 ***** (18.5/20)
Heady, earthy, floral aromas with succulent cherry, raspberry and spice flavours. Lovely minerality, great depth, fantastic length. Now – 2015.
Couldn’t have put it better myself. It will be on tating this weekend if you would like to try this intriguing wine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I hate corked wine

We had slow roasted shoulder of Irish spring lamb for dinner on Sunday, so we decided to open a nice Bordeaux to go with it. Chateau Branaire Ducru 2000, a middling ranking Saint Julien from a great vintage should have been delicious, but, just as we sat down to dinner, we tasted it and it was badly corked. I have held on to this wine for a good few years now, so it was a disappointment. As well as that, I didn't have time to choose and open a new bottle, so we just had a glass of what we had open from the night before.

Luckily, this turned out to be Paleo Rosso 1999 from Le Macchiole in Bolgheri, a delicious Cabernet-based wine from one of Italy's great producers, so it was no hardship....Situation saved, but we only had half a bottle....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Tasting

So much for the weather getting better - it's snowing in Dublin today. Might leave the weather reports to someone else. It's like when, in a previous life, I tried to do a BBQ promotion, only to bring on the wettest summer on record.

Anyway, regardless of the weather, we are having a great Easter Wine Tasting in the shop over the next 2 days (Wed & Thur) featuring wines we think would be good choices over the Easter holiday or just because we want to have a nice tasting. Wines on tasting will include:

Felton Road Pinot Noir - because we want to
Pesquera  - on promotion
Chateau Noaillac - on promotion
Michel Ecard Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru  - again because we want to
Pavillon Saint Jacques Lalande de Pomerol - lamb, yummy
Palazzo della Torre, Allegrini - super yummy
st. Michael Eppan Riesling - crisp and fresh
Reverdy Sancerre - new vintage 08 is amazing
Verus Pinot Gris - Slovenia's finest

and many more - it's gonna be great!

Monday, March 29, 2010

As promised - some great April offers

April Special Offers – REAL SAVINGS ON REAL WINE

Degani Valpolicella Classico 2008 – save €3, now only €9.99
The wines of Aldo Degani seem to get better and better each year and this Valpolicella is a perfect quaffer for Spring. Light, fruity with lovely pure cherry fruit, this is dangerously easy drinking. A good crowd pleaser.
Chateau Noaillac Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2006. Was €16.99, now €14.99
If spring lamb is on your menu this month, good Bordeaux is the perfect match. This is lovely, medium-bodied with just the right structure and fruit to make it a perfect food wine. Decant or open for a couple of hours and this is great value at this money.

Pesquera Ribera del Duero Crianza 2006 – RRP €25, now €20
Sometimes a wine just has everything and this is one of them. The granddaddy of them all in Ribera del Duero continues to dazzle. This is full-bodied, rich with leather and spice and ripe fruit all wrapped up in a smooth texture and long length. Very special wine.

Verus Pinot Gris 2008, Slovenia – RRP €19, now €15
Want to try something not only different, but delicious? This Pinot Gris from a really good producer is great stuff – medium bodied with really nice balance, clean fruit flavours and a long finish.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Looking forward to Easter

Is it just me or are there more people than normal who are off the booze for Lent? Now fiving up vodka or kahlua or that weird blue Bols stuff is one thing, but giving up wine? Seems a bit extreme. I presume the country hasn't been struck down with a new strain of religious fervour, so what is it?

In any case, with the weather finally a bit milder, the daffodils poking their heads out of the ground and the clocks going forward tomorrow night, I am finally looking forward to Easter.

Easter means lamb and lamb means nice red - typically Bordeaux, Chianti or a Rioja or Ribera del Duero from Spain. I will have more information on Monday regarding great deals for Easter (and beyond) on cracking wines such as Pesquera, Chateau Noaillac and a nice Italian, yet to finalised....

More on Monday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Birthday celebrations - St. Patrick's Day

On the Grapevine will be 11 years old on Wednesday. It has been quite a journey - it seems like only yesterday when we were madly varnishing floors and packing shelves as we took a big leap into the unknown, with neither Pam nor myself having had any experience in the wine trade prior to opening the shop.

On another level, we have immersed ourselves so completely in it since then, that our previous lives seem quite distant. The arrival of 3 children and various other ups and downs have made the 11 years go past in something of a blur.

And so, here we are. To celebrate the occasion, we will have various bottles open for tasting and we will offer a free glass of champagne to anyone who would care to join us.

As well as all that, we are doing 20% of EVERYTHING for the day.

Real deals on real wines - there is a theme developing....

Hope to see you there, we will be open from noon till 6pm.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Great wines

We had company over the weekend and drank some very nice stuff. Pam, as usual, excelled on the food front. I was in charge of pouring. Friday night started with Lamiable champagne, which continues to impress, every time I try it. Small family grower, grand cru vineyards, very easy on the system. Then we had L'Eglise Clinet 1995, a top Pomerol from a good vintage. nose promised great things, but the palate lacked something. It was very good, don't get me wrong, Pam loved it, but was it worth the money? Next up was Domaine Pegau Cuvee Laurence 1998. I loved this, it was still relatively youthful but full of complexity, length and balance. Very nice.

On Saturday, we had a bottle of prosecco to get us going and then upped the ante quite considerably by going on to Zind Humbrecht Clos Hauserer Riesling 1996. Rich, exotic (as you would expect), but again quite youthful, certainly full of fruit. Bit of residual sugar just added to the balance. Long long finish. Chasse Spleen 1989 was next up and this was perfect Bordeaux and really showed up the Pomerol from the night before at a fraction of the cost. To make sure we had a good night's sleep we went on to Noon Eclipse 1997 (?) a monster from Australia that probably got 100 points way back when. This is grenache based and weighs in at 16.3% alcohol. The nose was intriguing, I wouldn't have got it as australian, maybe the alcohol vapours were fooling me into thinking of Amarone. Not a food wine, but one for sipping and thinking about. Great wine and a delight to taste, but not my thing.

Many thanks to all contributors - there are few things I enjoy more than enjoying good wine and good food with good company!

Good news for the ladies

More good news for the ladies here

Vinisud Report

Vinisud is a bi-annual wine fair held in Montpellier and features all the wines of Languedoc, Rhone and southern France in general. There is a smattering of wines from other regions, but the focus is the south of France. It is always well run, not too big and Montpellier is no great hardship to visit, so it is one we like to go to.

As well as catching up with producers we already work with, we were on the lookout for some new wines, at the cheaper end of things, needless to say. So, while everyone imagines us standing around sipping Cote Rotie and Chateauneuf du Pape, the reality is rather more mundane and a lot of time is spent scrabbling around the Vin de Pays end of the market.

Anyway, we found some useful options at the house wines level and some interesting Rhone wines as well. We never make a decision at the wine fair; we insist on getting samples back to Ireland and we will do a big blind tasting of the samples against each other and against their peers in the market and, only if they perform well in the blind tasting, will me make a decision to import. It's a bit long-winded, but it works and we haven't made too many bad importing decisions as a result.

The mood at the fair was very upbeat with lots of deals on offer and everyone keen to do business after a poor 2009. It was a relief to get some optimism into the head - I recommend a weekend out of the country....

I will report on the results of the blind tasting.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Austrian Wine Fair

I have made it a sort of policy to go to as many wine tastings as I can this year to try and keep in better touch with what is going on in the wine world. With this in mind, I made my way to the Austrian Wine Fair alst week, where there was a good range of Austrian wines, both red and white, imported and those looking for representation.

I tended to veer towards the wines that were available on the market as I was looking for new wines for the shop. I also wanted to educate myself on Austrian reds, a topic on which I am embarassingly ignorant.

Overall, the quality was very high, I don't think I tasted a single wine that was badly made or unpleasant in any way. The wines I liked best came from names like Gobelsburg, Sepp Moser and Eichinger. The best ones, in my opinion, however were from Brundlmayer. We used to bring in small amounts of this through the UK, but we might start working with them directly if we can make the economics and logistics work. I currently have a bottle of Riesling Zobinger Heiligenstein 2007 open in the fridge that is just magic. Clarity, complexity, concentration, this wine has it all. Fantastic stuff and all their wines are of an exceptionally high quality. I will come back to these, definitely.

I did a quick run through the reds, here is my still quite ignorant summary:

Zweigelt - the ones I tried had a slightly medicinal quality to them and some harsh tannins - all in all too much like Pinotage for my liking.

Blaufrankish - better but still not doing it for me

St. LAurent - this was more to my taste, elegant, silky texture and nice fruit - heading in to Pinot Noir or Syrah territory, where I like to be

Blauburgunder - Pinot Noir - some very tasty examples of this, particularly from Schloss Halbturn (not available, very expensive) which was the best red I tasted on the day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

10 reasons not to give up wine for Lent

1. What is Lent all about anyway? Seriously, what is the point of giving things up for 40 days before Easter? It's just another way for the Church to make you feel bad about yourself. As far as I know, Jesus drank wine on Holy Thursday, and so should you.

2. It's springtime. The days are getting longer, the daffodils are starting to raise their heads again, we should be happy, we should be gambolling in the fields like the lambs....

3. Spring lamb - really needs a nice glass of Bordeaux.

4. Wine is good for you (in moderation). Plenty of evidence on this, no need to revisit it here.

5. Wine is good for your sex life. Katherine Donnelly in the Indo last Saturday was writing about a study on women in Italy (where else?) and they proved that wine drinking was better for your sex life. You still need someone to do it with though, not sure if wine helps you out there.

6. Wine makes food taste better. See point 3.

7. Wine cheers you up. The country needs it - do your civic duty!

8. It's cheaper than ever - thanks to intense competition, below-cost selling, reductions in duty, wine is cheaper now than it has ever been in this country.

9. Wine is a life-enhancing drink, far removed from the binge-drinking, fighting and vomiting that the anti-alcohol brigade fret about. So, ignore them and enjoy a glass with your dinner, to hell with the begrudgers!

10. The children need shoes...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chateau Mangot Dinner

Chateau Mangot is an excellent St. Emilion Grand Cru producer with whom we have been working for close to 10 years now. They do 3 wines: their main wine, Chateau Mangot, a very fine example of St. Emilion Grand Cru; Chateau La Brande Cotes de Castillon which is the best bang for buck you will find from a Bordeaux wine in the market at the moment; finally, their top wine is called Cuvee Quintessence which is excellent and very concentrated and arguably a tad expensive for the current economic blahdy blah.

Yann (son of the owners) is coming over on Feb 17th to do a tasting for us of the full range as part of a dinner we are hosting in Ouzo's, Dalkey. If you would like to come along, the tickets for serious dinner and serious wines are €60. Call us on 01 2353054 to book place.

More on Chateau Mangot here ; more on Ouzo's here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend drinking

We have been taking it pretty easy on the booze since we came back after Christmas, so we decided to compensate for the lack of quantity by adding some quality.

On Friday, we had a bottle of COS Contrade 2002, the top Nero d'Avola from one of our favourite producers - Azienda COS from Sicily. The nose was wild and amazing, a rollercoaster ride of fruit and spice and leather all whooshing around in the glass. The palate was intense, brooding with tannins to match the fruit and a long long finish. It overpowered the delicious chicken casserole we had it with, but amazing anyway.

Out on Saturday, but we had a bottle of Latour a Pomerol 2001 with the roast yesterday and that too was delicious. Maybe not as plump as some Pomerol lovers might have expected, but a damn fine bottle nonetheless.

Both were finished.

Next weekend is shaping up to be even better with Felton Road on Friday and a few other gigs in the pipeline as well. January isn't so bad, after all!

Plans change sometimes....

Due to a disappointing lack of interest in our Felton Road Dinner scheduled for Ely Wine Bar, this dinner is now cancelled. We will just have to take Nicola out for a few pints ourselves - ha!

Anyway, in its place, we will do a Felton Road tasting in the shop next weekend instead, so come along to that and you can get a taste of greatness....

Details of February's dinner will follow later.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Felton Road - best Pinot outside Burgundy?

I am still here. Just realised, it is over a month since my last post, the longest gap ever. I have missed Christmas, New Year, everything. What's my excuse?

Well? Don't have one.

Anyway, back to business. We have a Felton Road dinner coming up at the end of the month. Nicola Greening (Nigel's daughter) is over for the weekend and she will be on hand to take us through the range of wines and they will be matched with a specially selected menu from the guys in Ely.

The dinner takes place on Friday, Jan 29th in Ely CHQ and will be a great night.
Not a cheap night, but a great night drinking amazing wines from a world-class winery in the company of the owner's daughter and representative in Europe.

Tickets cost €95 and can be booked by calling us on 01 2353054.

And yes, I think they are the best outside Burgundy....