Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Opening Hours

We would like to wish all our customers a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year. We hope to see you over the festive season - our opening hours are as follows:

Sunday 23rd   12-6pm

Christmas Eve 10.30am - 5pm

Christmas Day  closed

St. Stephen's Day  closed

Thursday 27th  closed

Friday 28th 11am - 8pm

Saturday 29th 11am - 8pm

Sunday 30th 12 - 6pm

New Year's Eve 10.30am - 5pm

We will be closed until Thursday Jan 10th when we reopen with our normal working hours.

Friday, December 7, 2012

My letter to Michael Noonan sent today

Dear Minister,

I want to write to you to express my shock at the announcement, in Wednesday’s budget, of an increase of €1 in excise on a bottle of wine. This might seem a soft target for you as a trade with no lobby group, but there is no way you can look at this move in which it makes sense.

1.       Tax take

The last time duty was increased a few years ago, there was a rush over the border as people flocked to Newry, Derry and elsewhere in Northern Ireland to buy not only wine, but groceries, electrical goods and everything else. The result was a decline in revenue from excise duty and a swift reversal the following year. A savage increase in tax like this will not only encourage cross-border trade, but will surely encourage smuggling of wine, just like there is of cigarettes. You know where there is a buck to be made, criminals will find a way.

2.       Social and Health Aspects

It is well-recognised that we have a less than healthy relationship with alcohol in this country. The most obvious way this manifests itself is in the atmosphere of menace that is present any weekend night not only in Dublin, but pretty much any town and city across the country. The way people drink nowadays is to buy cheap trays of beer and cheap bottles of vodka, go to somebody’s house and get pissed even before they go out. They then hit the town and we end up with fights, people getting sick on the street etc. Wine does not feature as part of this type of consumption. We have a wine shop (we don’t sell beer or spirits) and not only do we not have a problem with requests from under age drinkers – we hardly have anybody under the age of 30 coming into the shop. It is rather unusual for someone to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and then go out causing mayhem on the streets.

3.       Retail Diversity

This measure plays beautifully into the hands of Tesco and the other multiples. Below cost selling by the multiples is the cause of many of the problems outlined above and has made alcohol cheaper than it has ever been. They use alcohol as a loss leader to build market share in the grocery sector and blatantly ignore so-called “self-regulation” in the alcohol sector by using alcohol as the lead product in advertising and promotions. If you want to see what this dominance leads to, take a walk through any town in the UK and you will see a large Tesco and few other shops apart from bookies and pound shops. Unless you regulate against the multiples, this is the bleak retail future that awaits us as a country. In our case, you need to ban below cost selling and, in order to raise revenue, introduce a scale of licence fees based on turnover. It is wine shops now, next it will be butchers, greengrocers and newsagents.

4.       Jobs

You claim this was a budget to create jobs. The 10 point plan for SMEs was just a smokescreen which will have no impact whatsoever. The reality is that taking 3.5 billion out of an economy on the edge of the abyss will be disastrous, but specifically with regard to the excise duty, you are putting jobs directly in risk in wine importers, independent off-trade business and the hospitality sector. What is the point of attracting tourists here only to be met by a ripoff restaurant scene with a €4 increase in wine prices in restaurants that leads directly back to your door? Wine shops like mine are certain to close as the difference between what we can offer in price and the below-cost selling supermarkets widens even further.

Do the decent thing and reverse this savage attack on our trade. Tax take on wine and our livelihoods are about to be destroyed.

Yours sincerely,

Gabriel Cooney

On the Grapevine, Dalkey

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wine Fair November 15th

Details as follows:

Annual Wine Fair

Fitzpatrick's Killiney Castle - Wintergarden Suite

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 

6pm to 9pm

Tickets €10

We are coming up to our 14th (!) Annual Wine Fair next week and I have to say it is a night we love putting on and a night that our customers seem to really enjoy. Apart from some local sponsorship, it is the only advertising we do all year. It is a terrific opportunity for ourselves and our customers to try both old favourites as well as new wines we have found throughout the year.

We also offer significant discounts on the night to encourage customers to get their Christmas wine in early which means we can get some good customers what they want at great value and deflect some of the rush from December.

With everyone expecting duty to go up in the budget early December, early buying could be a big factor this year.

We are changing the layout this year - instead of doing it by supplier or country, we are doing it by wine style  with 8 tables in all:

Sparkling & Champagne
Light and Refreshing Whites
Round and Fruity Whites
Light and Elegant Reds
Rich and Fruity Reds
Full bodied and Powerful Reds
Christmas Table
Gifts Table

With about 100 wines open and some great value to be had, it will be a great night!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wine Fair November 15th

Our Annual Wine Fair takes place this year in Fitzpatrick's Hotel - the Winter Garden Suite on Thursday November 15th from 6pm to 9pm.

Here are 5 reasons why you should come along:

1. We will have about 100 wines open for tasting, so it is a great opportunity to try old favourites alongside new wines that you might like to explore.

2. There are brilliant discounts available for orders on the night - upto 20%, depending on the wine. It is a chance for us to sort out Christmas wine for regular customers ahead of the Christmas rush and we are happy to incentivise you to order early. That way, you get what you want in plenty of time and at a good price and we get to spread some of the business so that not everything is condensed into the week before Christmas when we start running out of stuff.

3. We will have loads of gift ideas, hampers and other nice things to inspire you with ideas for those awkward, difficult-to-buy-for people. We all have one.

4. Tickets are only €10.

5. It's a great night out. Come along, bring a friend, taste loads of fab wines and then head down to the Dungeon for a bite to eat.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A euro is not a euro

The fear has begun again. We are heading into our fifth nightmare budget and kite-flying season is in full swing. Property tax, water charges, cuts to child benefit, cuts to social welfare, all have been floated on the airwaves to try and gauge the level of outrage that various measures will cause.

There never seems to be a coordinated plan of what is right and just and appropriate - it is merely a case of what can they get away with, politically.

One area that hasn't really been mentioned directly, but is almost certain to be hit, is excise duty. There has certainly been no shortage of anti-drink propaganda in the media. For a proper rant on this, feel free to read a more articulate and better-researched piece here . The Late Late Show (surely Ireland's greatest example of what a long, slow death looks like) came blazing back to our screens with not one, but two, programmes featuring the evils of having a glass of wine. The second on was a lecture by that great paragon of virtue, Alistair Campbell. When we need to be told what to do by Mr. Iraq-can-attack-us-in-40minutes, it really is time to flee for the hills. When it comes to wine, or indeed pretty much any other topic, Mr. Campbell can, if you will pardon my unparliamentary language, fuck right off.

Obviously, I am completely biased and think that excise on wine should be decreased. I am probably wrong, the best we can hope for is that it remains unchanged. However, I fully expect excise duty on wine to increase in this year's budget. If you were a sensible person, thinking clearly, the best way to do this is to have a moderate increase, implemented at the start of the year, or midway through. At the same time, you would ban below-cost selling and ensure that the recommendations on alcohol selling from a numebr of years ago be fully implemented -primarily in the case of having separate sales areas and tills in supermarkets and that proper training of staff takes place. It won't happen like that though.

Instead, we will have a big increase in the first week of December which will kill off the Christmas trade, the only thing that keeps most of us in business at all. There will be a rush north of the border and then they will reduce the duty again in a year's time because excise revenues have collapsed and when many more businesses have already closed down and the supermarkets have an even larger share of the market flogging an even smaller range of wines.

What does a rise in duty do to retail prices? 50c increase in duty just means 50c increase, right? Wrong. Duty, along with the cost of the wine, go in at the very bottom of the costing equation in pricing a bottle of wine. By the time it is multplied up with importer/retail margins and lets not forget the 23 % VAT at the end, it results in a €1.25 increase in retail price, all else being equal. A €1 increase in duty will increase RSPs by €2.50. So that bottle you buy now for a tenner will be €12.50. It would mean we would have nothing at all in the shop at less than €10.

That's just at retail - in restaurants, the differential will be even greater.

A grim vista indeed. Hopefully some kind of sanity can prevail in the Dept of Finance.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flash Sale - Saturday 29th Sept - 20% off Everything

We have a bee in our collective bonnet about bogus wine sales - where wines are marked up only to be marked back down in a supposed "sale". If someone is offering you 50% discount on a bottle of wine, there is something wrong because we just don't make those kind of margins here in the wine world.

We tend to avoid that sort of thing, we prefer to offer real wine at honest prices.

Nonetheless, I got a notion this morning and we are going to do one of our




This is a great opportunity to get REAL WINE at a REAL DISCOUNT, so come in and stock up.

Open at 11, lots of bottles open...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September News

September News

Skillogalee Winemakers Dinner – Last Call!!
Dave Palmer from Skillogalee joins us on Monday, September 10th to host a Winemakers Dinner which takes place in Ouzo's Restaurant Dalkey at 7,30pm. We will taste a range of these world class wines with a 3 course dinner, €45 per person will cover everything for the night. Still some places available, it will be a great night, call the shop on 01 2353054 to book a place!
September Offers

2 for €20 Mix n Match
Beso de Vino - a great range of new Spanish wines - a red, white and Rose - cracking value, easy drinking, well made wines.
Cordo de Regua - a smooth and complex wine from the Douro valley - if you are picking this wine up for a tenner, you are doing very well indeed.

Catena Offer
Catena have been at the forefront of quality Argentinian winemaking for many years now and they manage to turn out amazing value at all levels. Their best value range are the Catena range, normally selling at about €18 - for this month we will offer these wines at €13.99 per ottle, so if it is powerful Malbec, complex Cabernet or elegant Chardonnay, this is great wine at the price. Snap it up.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone

This has just arrived in - the  new vintage of Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone 2010. Clos Bellane is situated on a plateau 400m above sea level in the northern part of the Southern Rhone about an hour north of Avignon. The altitude and the fact that the vineyards are north and east facing give their wines a freshness and an elegance that appealed to us immediately. Their white wines are really well regarded for this very reason - in fact, when we were in Slovenia recently, Liam gave us a glass of white, blind, and asked us what we thought. Everyone around the table thought it was a really good Burgundy, maybe Meursault or Chassagne, but it turned out to be a white wine from this estate "Les Echalas" - a 100% Roussane, late harvested and aged in oak - it was fresh, balanced, complex and delicious.

We also really like the red...

The Cotes du Rhone typically has a decent dollop of Syrah in it which gives their entry level wine a distinct Northern Rhone feel to it and makes it stand out from the crowd. We tasted this in the Spring with Stephane Vedeau and, apart from noting another simplification of the label and the dropping of the "Petite" from the name, we were slightly worried that the trademark elegance had been compromised for power.

However, tasting it now, 6 months later and it has really settled down. Yes, there is power, yes there is concentration, but there is a harmony and elegance there that makes this wine utterly gorgeous to drink. The mineral finish reflects the chalky soils from the mature vineyards.

Bravo, Stephane, we shouldn't have worried...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shameless Bandwagon Jumping

As you know by now we have absolutely no shame when it comes to jumping on bandwagons and I am therefore happy to announce details of our much-awaited Euro 2012 Promotion:

So far, we have 3 matches, we might have more, you never know (a meeting with England in the quarter-final??), so we will line up as follows:

Ireland v Croatia, Sunday June 10th
Obviously, we don’t have any Croatian wines, but we will improvise with Slovenian and Austrian wines for this one (at the risk of upsetting someone). So:
Sunday 10th – 10% off all Slovenian and Austrian wines
Monday 11th – 20% off all Slovenian and Austrian wines – IF WE WIN

Ireland v Spain, Thursday, June 14th
Thursday, June 14th – 10% off all Spanish Wine
Friday, June 15th – 20% off all Spanish Wine – IF WE WIN

Ireland v Italy, Monday, June 18th
Monday June 18th – 10% off all Italian Wine
Tuesday, June 19th – 20% off all Italian Wine – IF WE WIN

So, basically, if you are a pessimist and think we haven’t a hope of winning against these teams, come in and get your 10% discount the day of the match. If, however, you are more optimistic/well-informed/mad and think we can win, you can avail of a 20% discount the day AFTER the match. If you are thirsty or indecisive, you can of course avail of the discounts on both days!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ballymaloe Riesling Revolution Tasting

My father was always happy to go to hurling matches - whether it was an All-Ireland final or a Junior B League relegation decider, he would be there chewing the fat with his mates, one of whom summed up the action of every single match as "the worst I think I ever seen".

I am rarely seen at hurling matches these days, but I am happy to turn up at any wine tasting, if I can. The Riesling tasting held in Ballymaloe last Thursday night was very much at the All-Ireland end of the spectrum of wine tastings and was a successful meeting of minds between Colm, the sommelier in Ballymaloe and John McDonnell, the bundle of energy that runs Wine Australia in Ireland. That they got 130 people to turn up at a tasting of one grape variety was amazing. That this grape variety was Riesling made the night even more amazing.

We had three winemakers, all successful exponents of this noble variety - Tim Adams from Clare Vally, Australia, Severine Schlumberger from Alsace and Carl Ehrhard from the Rheingau. In the spirit of the evening, the winemakers showed some of their own wines , but also some wines from other producers. The evening was moderated by John Wilson from the Irish Times.

There were 4 flights of 3 wines each designed to show the different expressions of Riesling. The flights were as follows (* marks my favourite from each flight)

Young Riesling
Tim Adams Riesling 2011
Kunstler Stielweg 2010*
Trimbach Riesling 2009

Aged Riesling
Tim Adams Riesling 2007
Kunstler Kirchenstuck 2007 *
Schlumberger Kitterle Grand Cru 2005

Off-dry Riesling
Peter Lehmann Riesling 2011
Carl Ehrhard Rudesheimer Berg Rosneck 2010
Weinbach Schlossberg Grand Cru Cuvee St Catherine 2004 *

Sweet Riesling
Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut 2010 *
Carl Ehrhard Berg Rottland Beerenauslese 2007
Schlumberger Vendange Tardive 2009

It was a fantastic range of wines of different styles, price points and producers - something for everyone....well done to the organisers!

Afterwards, Ballymaloe got together some local food producers and set up a mini farmers market so there was some amazing food on offer as well, with the proceeds going to the East Cork Slow Food movement. It was high quality food with a very easy-going atmosphere.

The best I think I ever seen.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Stability Wine Tasting

I heard someone on the radio the other day talking about some vote or other on May 31st. I didn't get the details because I was busy putting together the plans for our SUMMER WINE FAIR, taking place on the same date. It fits in really well because you might well need a stiff drink by the time you have finished voting, so how better to celebrate than with a Wine Tasting?

The details are :

  • Summer Wine Fair, Thursday May 31st 6PM to 8.30PM
  • Location : The Magpie Inn (upstairs)
  • We will be showcasing a lot of new wines, including some great options for "summer"
  • Great discounts for orders on the night
  • It's only €10 to get in to taste over 50 wines - and you get your tenner back if you put in an order!

So, this is a really important decision and you should really educate yourself about the details, weigh up the options and then decide to come to our Wine Fair. 

We will have lots of wines from France, which have just got a lot more interesting (and less annoying). Italy will be well represented by plenty of nicely presented wines trying not to look like they are enjoying themselves too much. The Spanish wines are as good as ever, despite the slightly worried look on their faces. Wines from Germany and Austria will, of course, be central to the proceedings. The UK and Sweden have decided not to take part in the tasting this time. 

There won't be any Greek wine, unfortunately.

Some people have said we should defer the tasting till after the summer, but we are determined to go ahead with it, so should you come along for a great night out? YES!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vina Aliaga Tempranillo 2010

The above wine was one we used to bring in a number of years ago but kinda fell off the list along the way. We bumped into Carlos Aliaga at Prowein earlier this year and retasted his now extensive range of 14 wines, along with some delicious jamon, and were reminded just how good this Tempranillo is - pure Tempranillo, no oak from one of Navarra's most exciting producers.

This is juicy, fruity Spanish wine at its best - smooth with dark berry fruit and a smooth finish. A brilliant wine on its own or with food - a great all-rounder.

On tasting this weekend - €11.99 or 2 for €20. Well worth a try.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reasons to be happy

A random list of places to buy, drink and a few importers...people keeping the wine world in ireland vibrant and interesting...

Where to buy wine - curious, red island, bin no 9, gibneys, parting glass, red nose, wine centre, jus de vine, redmonds, vintry, 64 wine, mitchells, listons, our own little place in Dalkey, Denis in Delgany, all the Deveneys

Restaurants worth a visit - cafe paradiso, dalis, ouzos, chapter one, the greenhouse, cliff house hotel, all the elys, chapter one of course, one pico, il vicoletto, l'ecrivain, talbot 101, Three Qs, Liberty Grill, Electric, Beaufield Mews for best value wine, Ballymaloe , Town Bar

Importers to work with - Tyrell & Co., Searsons, approach, ourselves and the Cabots of course, Wicklow Wine, Le Caveau, Vinos Tito, classic

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So why can't we have a drink on Good Friday?

It's like one of those phantom sensations you hear about - you know when someone's leg is amputated but they can still feel an itch in their foot. So it is with our licensing laws on Good Friday which prohibit the sale of alcohol for the whole day on Good Friday. Just when we thought we have shaken the Catholic church off our back, we get reminded just how dominant the Church was in this country. The Angelus is another daily reminder for us to pause from our hectic life, take a moment and reflect in solemn silence on just how screwed up this country was by the Catholic Church.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the day off. The panic buying that usually happens the day before more than compensates for the day lost in sales and yet hardly suggests that people are taking the whole fasting thing too seriously. However, there is nothing that will drive an Irish person to drink more than an official edict that says you can't have a drink. So people go to all sorts of lengths to get a drink - having house parties, going on train journeys, heading's madness.

People often say to me "It's only one day in the year - would you relax!!!" Well, guess what, I can not drink any day I like - it happens most weeks that we can control ourselves for 24hrs - sometimes even more! What I don't like is being told that I can't have a drink - especially for spurious religious reasons. I'm as religious as the next man (there is nobody next to me!), but should we have somebody's religious views imposed on everyone? I am all for religious freedom - if you want to wear a burkha, sacrifice a goat, meditate in a cave, go to Mass, become a Scientologist or a Jehovah's Witness - go for it, knock yourself out - just leave me out of it, thanks very much. In return, I will leave you in peace as well.

Also, whether I drink myself or not, I would like to feel free to conduct my business whenever I want and not be told I have to close on a certain day because of some random diktat by a bishop in the 1930s.

So, come on Ireland, grow up and change this stupid law.

I will get Carol to work.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

20% Discount Deal for April

When I was but a lad growing up above a pub in Co. Wexford, the two days in the year when the pub wasn’t open were Christmas Day and Good Friday. It meant no packing shelves, no cleaning ashtrays and it meant my father got a rare day off. I thought that was why it was called “Good” Friday…ah the innocence of youth!

Of course we are closed on Good Friday, but we will be open as always on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday and then closed again on the Bank Holiday.

Easter is always a time to think of the new spring lambs bouncing gaily in the fields….with that in mind I have put together an offer of wines to go with lamb. Bordeaux is, of course, the perfect match, and what could make it taste even sweeter?

20% off, that’s what.

I have also picked one of our favourite whites in the shop Domaine Reverdy Sancerre – don’t be fooled by the pretenders in Sancerre – this is the real deal – concentrated, fresh and mineral, amazing wine. And then we have the Lanzos red and white – easy, gluggable wines from Spain that are great value at their normal price, let alone with 20% off.

So here is our April offer – buy any 6 (can be mixed) of the following to get 20% off:
Chateau La Brande, Cotes de Castillon – this is our smart buy from Bordeaux’s right bank. The vines are across the road from the more swanky Saint Emilion Grand Cru, the wine gets exactly the same careful treatment and yet it sells for a fraction of its more illustrious big brother. RRP - €16 – April 6 btl price €12.80

Domaine Reverdy Sancerre – crisp, bone dry, elegant, concentrated with a long mineral finish, this is definitive Sancerre. RRP €20 – down to €16.

Lanzos Tempranillo – soft, juicy, fruity Tempranillo. As a bonus, it has sheep on the label so you can feel extra guilty munching on your Spring lamb! RRP €11 – down to €8.80

Lanzos Sauvignon Blanc/Viura – aromatic, fresh and fruity with real character. RRP €11 – down to €8.80.
Hope to see you soon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Is it just me?

I have a confession to make. I like to read car reviews. I am not a fast driver, I don't know the difference between a carburettor and a catalytic converter. I have only a vague idea what torque is. I will probably never be able to afford a Porsche or a Ferrari and even if I have the money, I would probably spend it on something else. And yet, I like reading about big cars, fast cars, unusual cars. However, I'm not a complete saddo - if the review is of a Ford Fiesta or a Skoda Fabia or a Nissan X-trail (the commercial version of which I drive myself), I probably won't bother reading it. Is there someone out there who can explain why I like reading about cars I will never drive and refuse to read about cars which are much more practical, affordable and within my scope of experience? Is it just me?

This occurred to me over the weekend as I read the review of the BMW640D (rsp€100k!) after reading a couple of wine columns in the national papers. One of the articles was about some slightly obscure and not cheap wines from Spain being made by a couple of young hippyish guys and brought in, I'm guessing, by Vinos Tito. I don't stock these wines, maybe I won't like them, but reading about them made me curious to try them. It was interesting to read about a couple of new kids on the block trying something different and quickly building a good reputation for themselves.

The other article I read was headlined - ignore the wine snobs, here are the bargains! I scanned over the introduction about the writer getting admonished by members of the wine trade for promoting "industrial swill" selling at cheap prices in the likes of Lidl and Aldi. Obviously, the wine trade is a very polite and gentle group of people and I can't imagine anyone coming out with such strong language. But apart from that, I was looking forward to hearing about the amazing wines about to be recommended.

Instead, we got a list of wines which were damned with faint praise. Wines were described as "worth drinking", "likeable" - some of them even "tasted as it should"....a lot of them not reviewed but are on sale are apparently "bland" and a "few downright horrible". From a wine consumer's point of view, I would rather hear about the really horrible wines to avoid rather than the ones that are only OK.

I know the story is that, despite what people like me might say, you can get drinkable wines at €4.99 (wine cost approx 0.50c) and €5.99 (wine cost approx €1). My answer to that is - So What?

Is it really amazing that Lidl and Aldi - two of Europe's retail giants - can find cheap wine that is "drinkable"? I think it is more amazing that, with all their buying expertise, they are still bringing in wines that are (according to the wine expert in question) bland or horrible.

There isn't a retailer in the country who wouldn't tell you that the most important issue for consumer's buying decision is value. However, price is only one aspect in trying to judge value. Quality is the other aspect and it is just as important. If we offer a wine that isn't good quality, our customers will let us know in no uncertain terms and it doesn't matter what the price is. When they come in to us, they would rather spend €10 on a wine they like than €6 on something they don't.

Of course, they are buying the €5/€6 wine in Lidl/Tesco/Dunnes or wherever and are adjusting their expectations accordingly, but when they make the effort come in to an independent wine shop, they want something different, something better. If we don't deliver that, we lose our raison d'etre, we lose our customers and we lose our business.

So, what do you want to read about? A Skoda Fabia, which will get you from A to B or the BMW 640D which also gets you from A to B, but will do so in considerably more style? I know which one you will buy, but what do you want to read about? Likewise, are we really resigned to the dumbing down of the wine trade, heading the same way as the UK market ,where wine sells primarily on price and primarily on promotion or should we in the trade and press not be praising the unusual, encouraging the quirky and promoting real wines made by real people?

The €4.99 Pinot Grigio in Aldi will probably sell anyway as it is cheap and has Pinot Grigio on the label. Promoting it is not really offering a service to consumers as everybody knows these functional wines are out there. They have their place in the market, sure, but does it make for interesting copy?

I prefer to read about a weird and wonderful, terroir-driven, elegant red from som wacky guy in the hills in Spain.

I may still buy the Pinot Grigio, but at least I know there is something more interesting out there somewhere.

Is it just me?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Birthday Celebration this St. Patricks Day

How time flies when you are having fun - we opened our little shop on a sunny St. Patrick's Day 1999 - that's 13 years ago this Saturday. We still remember waiting for the varnish to dry the night before and then frantically packing the shelves with all sorts of wines - some good, some ill-advised - to get the place ready for our grand opening the next day, which mainly consisted of friends and family being brow-beaten into coming in and buying something on our first day.

Thankfully, some of the customers who came in to see us on that first day are still customers and friends today and we hope we have gotten rid of the bad wines and expanded the good ones.

To celebrate our 13th Birthday, we will have a FLASH SALE this Saturday with 20% OFF ALL WINE. This is just on Saturday, one day only, so ignore the rugby and call in.

We will also have several bottles open for tasting with even bigger discounts including:

Lawsons Dry Hills Pinot Noir - 30% off
Chateau Le Vivier, Medoc - 25% off
Chateau Bourneuf Vayron, Pomerol - 40% off
Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner - 25% off
Contino Rioja Reserva - 30% off

As if all that wasn't enough, at 1pm (13.00hrs - see what we did there...) we will be opening a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee for tasting and then offering a limited number of bottles at the very special price of €95 per btl (normal price €160!).

Birthdays, Discounts, Krug.....what's not to like?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Villa Cerna Chianti Classico 2005 - only €8.99

We have got our hands on some limited quantities of a nice Chianti Classico which we can bang out at €8.99. It is one of the top estates owned by the Cecchi people, one of Tuscany’s largest producers. Not sure why it is so cheap, but we thought it seemed like a good deal. I have just cracked it open – it has a lovely deep ruby colour, attractive nose of dark cherry and spice…full-bodied with nicely concentrated dark red fruits, smooth tannins and a nice chewy finish. A really good Chianti Classico, drinking well – fantastic value for money at €8.99.
On tasting this weekend, come in and try it and fill yer boots!

Friday, March 2, 2012

March Case Deal

In March we have St. Patrick’s Day, Mothers Day, the fiscal compact to study, so we want to take a load off your mind and get some seriously good wines at seriously good prices in to you so you have one less thing to worry about….

Mixed Case Offer
We are doing a mixed case deal on some of our favourite wines this March. It’s a mix of French and Italian, reds and whites, some posh, some less so – you will have wine for every occasion……we recommend 3 bottles each of:

Gregoris Pinot Grigio 2011 – this is REAL Pinot Grigio, made with real character and depth of flavour by one of Northern Italy’s best white winemakers Antonio Fattori.

Domaine Saumaize Saint Veran 2010 – amazing purity and concentration from this unoaked Saint Veran. Crisp acidity, with ripe, red apple and citrus fruit and a long, mineral finish. Beautifully balanced wine.

Domaine Grauzan Pinot Noir 2009 – light, juicy, fruity Pinot Noir with soft tannins – dangerously easy-drinking!

Degani Ripasso 2008 – full-bodied, rich and chocolatey with delicious dark cherry fruit, ripe tannins and great concentration. Great food wine.

The normal case price is €187.50 – we are doing it at 20% discount for €150 with free delivery anywhere in the country. Order now and get your wine delivered for the month (or the week!).

You can, of course, mix the case any way you want and get your 20% discount, so, for example you can get the case of Pinot Grigio for €129.60 instead of €162 etc etc

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Spanish Bargain and an Italian Deal

Carol and myself tasted this wine yesterday, a wine which comes to us at a great price as a result of a "misunderstanding" between a certain wine importer (not us) and a certain customer (also not us). The wine was ordered in specifically for this customer who then decided they didn't want it because it didn't have the net you so often see on Spanish Gran reservas. And so, the importer was left with it and is now clearing the stock at a knockdown price. Clouds, silver linings etc.

So, what is it? It is a 2004 Gran Reserva from Catalunya - a blend of low-yielding Tempranillo, Cabernet and Grenache grape. Fully mature, smooth and rich with spicy notes and dark fruits - altogether a very pleasant wine indeed with lots of interest and complexity. This would, we are told normally retail in the high teens - but we are able to offer it at €8.99.

It is a one-off, won't be seen again deal, once it's gone, it's gone, as they say....on tasting this weekend.

Ireland v Italy
20% off Italian wine if we win. If we don't win this one, I promise I will stop undermining the efforts of the national team! To get the discount, just mention the rugby deal - it is SATURDAY ONLY!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The real reason why drink crisis gibberish gibberish

"Never trust a man who doesn't drink" - a renowned philospher*

If you want to get yourself annoyed today, I suggest you get hold of the Irish times and turn to John Waters' column which has a headline not dissimilar to the above. Sometimes, it is difficult to know where to begin but I suppose the beginning is as reasonable a place as any.

The first line reads "We are used to politicians running scared of proposals to tackle Ireland's lethal relationship with alcohol". It is a popular myth that successive governments are under the evil control of the drinks industry, just as in the USA, right-wing commentators constantly moan about the 'liberal media" which they themselves dominate. If governments were so scared of publicans, why did they introduce the absolutely correct policies of smoking ban and rigorous enforcement of drink-driving laws? Correct as these policies are, the result has been a drastic and continuing reduction of the number of pubs, especially in rural areas.

Last Friday's Irish Times ran a report saying that alcohol consumption in Ireland reduced by 17% in the years 2001-2011 and yet today John Waters tells us that alcohol consumption increased by the same magic figure between 1996 and 2007, the "decade of the Celtic Tiger" (John very subtly links alcohol with the CT and with the EU/IMF bailout to make it seem even more evil). So which are we to believe? Are both correct, just different ways of looking at the same figures? Is it more relevant to talk about figures to 2011 or 2007, given that in the intervening 4 years, the country has changed utterly?

He goes on to say that poor people spend a greater proportion of their income on alcohol than rich people. What a massive surprise. I suspect the same is true of food expenditure, utilities and everything else, because guess what - rich people earn more than poor people! But no, John uses this completely random and useless fact to argue that Irish people use alcohol to "even out the effects of felt-inequality and to ameliorate social pain".

In John's world, the whole country is in some sort of alcohol-induced reverie that stops us from thinking straight. Foreigners are apparently queuing up to avail of John's wisdom about the lack of riots on the streets in Ireland, compared to, say, Greece and John tell them mysteriously to "look at the drinking statistics". Given that we are drinking less than we used to, I presume the foreigners deduct that we need to drink more!

No, despite the facts, we are all, politicians and plebs alike, under the malign spell of the publicans and can't think straight, that's John main argument today and the job of the government is to keep us that way.

I don't know why some Irish people drink in the pattern that they do - nothing all week and then get plastered at the weekend - but we are not unique in this; if you don't believe me spend a weekend in Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool or, indeed and British city and you will see scenes that make Temple Bar look like Salt Lake City. Binge drinking seems to be concentrated mainly in countries that have high taxes on drink and bad weather - Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia. As I have said before, it is a culture thing, not a price thing - how that is to be solved is another question entirely, but attitudes can be changed through education. The current generation of twentysomethings largely regard drink-driving as a major no-no. Surely a distaste for being drunk could also be instilled in people?

The only thing the government fear from the alcohol industry is a reduction of the massive taxes that the industry creates. I have a small shop, operating in a small sector of the market, yet even we feel we are more tax collectors than wine merchants, handing over staggering (to us!) amounts every month in duty and VAT. Increasing duty will drive people north of the border, the Dept of Finance will testify to that. A ban on below cost selling would stop the use, by supermarkets, of alcohol as a loss leader. I believe alcohol is not like other grocery products and does need to be viewed seperately and hopefully this is what the government has in mind.

The newspapers are involved in quite a lot of hand-wringing about the future of their industry - and rightly so. One of the main arguments is that any old eejit like me can voice their uninformed opinion on the internet, whereas you have to go to the traditional media to get intelligent, informed opinion.

John Waters does his best to undermine that argument today.

As Valerie Clarke, in the letters page opposite says "A light hand from parents rather than a heavy hand from the government will be more effective in the long run".

* My father, whose philosophy was renowned really only in our house.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wine Weekend with the Eurostars

Wow, what a great weekend. We had some brilliant winemakers over showcasing some really interesting and different wines over the weekend at a series of events.

Firstly, we had a trade tasting in The Cliff Townhouse on Stephen's Green on Friday afternoon, followed by a tasting and really good dinner for about 60 punters in Beaufield Mews. An early start on Saturday morning led into a consumer tasting and masterclasses on Saturday, followed by an 8 course tasting menu with matching wines, with the food prepared with the much-feted Seamus Commons in the Knockranny Hotel.

The Wines

Wines were as follows:

Kunstler , Rheingau
Riesling Herrnberg - perfect example of Rheingau Riesling
Riesling Stielweg - my favourite of the range - amazing concentration and balance
Rieling Domdechaney

Verus, Slovenia
Pinot Gris - still proving to be a massive hit
Furmint - also known as Sipon, another star of the range
Sauvignon Blanc

Moric, Burgenland Austria
Blaufrankisch - perfectly poised, mineral example of this little known variety
Blaufrankisch Reserve - wowed many with its power and balance

Jean Marc Millot
Cotes de Nuits Villages - a wonderful example of purity and elegance
Vosne Romanee (Saturday) - stunning

Guillot Broux
Macon Blanc "Les Genievres" - complex wine, v nice
Macon Cruzille Rouge - made from Gamay, nice wine
Bourgogne Pinot Noir - serious, austere style, great food wine

Cantina del Pino
Dolcetto - elegant, pure and delicious
Nebbiolo - soft and supple, very drinkable
Barbaresco - stunning balance, power, but still with trademark elegance

Poggerissi Bianco
Poggerissi Rosso - great value house wine from Tuscany
Renzo Masi Chianti - remarkable quality at its price
Basciano Chianti Rufina - the best value Chianti on the market?

So, the wines were great, the producers were happy, thank you to all who attended the various events and aslo a HUGE thank you to Beaufield Mews who showed once again that they are turning out some great food, have probably the best-priced wine list in Dublin and are well worth checking out.

We were also blown away by the Knockranny House hotel in Westport, beautiful hotel with great service and stunning food.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Like Wine? Like Fish? Here's €5!!

Wine & Fish Promotion
As you know we have a great new fish shop – Roberts of Dalkey - next door to us where Xtravision used to house its sulky youths and, as we have noticed lots of people coming to buy wine with fish and vice versa, we have devised a little promotion to encourage you to do more of the same. Here’s how it works….
Go in to Roberts and spend €20 on fish (or other goodies), keep your receipt and present it in On the Grapevine and we will give you €5 off your bottle (or case!) of wine….OR it also works in reverse – spend over €20 on wine and you can present your receipt to get €5 off your purchase in Roberts…..
Hope that’s clear then, we will have lots of nice whites chilling and Peter will have lots of delicious and healthy fish on offer next door – we look forward to seeing you!

The deal is on this Friday and Saturday, if it works well, we might even do it again!

Beaufield Mews Dinner
We have about 50 people booked in for tomorrow night already, with over 20 wines from 7 producers being sampled BEFORE dinner and then 4 of the wines being guzzled WITH dinner, this will be a great night – still places left for any of you last-minute types! Call the restaurant on 01 2880375 to book….

Friday, January 20, 2012

Still places left for our Winemaker's Dinner Fri 27th

WE still have a few places left for our Winemakers dinner in Beaufield Mews on Friday 27th of January, which includes a lovely four course dinner with matching wines and a chance to have a walkaround tasting before dinner to try all the wines and meet the people who make them - the winemakers include:

Millot and Guillot Broux from Burgundy, Renzo Masi from Tuscany, del Pino from Peidmont, Kunstler from Germany, Verus from Slovenia and Moric from Austria....

This is a unique event and will be a great night - tickets are for €65 all inclusive - book your place directly with the restaurant on 01 2880375.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Clear Out Begins - Bin End Sale starts today

First and long overdue post of 2012....after a Christmas season that was thankfully busy, we now face into another year with renewed energy and optimism (stop sniggering down the back) and as ever, we plan to refresh the range with new wines to keep up with the never-ending search for great wines at reasonable prices.

To make space, we are clearing out some wines - at greatly reduced prices. Some, we just can't get any more and we may as well get rid of the last few bottles. Some, we bought too much of and need to move the stock. Still other, we are just fed up looking at them and want a change...

So, if you are in the mood for a random bargain, call in and  get something deliciously cheap for the weekend.

Highlights for me are : Niepoort Sasta at a tenner, Rupert & Rothschild at a tenner, Rully at a tenner, Lamiable 1/2 btls at €12.....