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The Modern Face of San Felice

Posted by Robyn on Fri, January 25, 2013

You could be easily forgiven for assuming that San Felice is an old school, “traditional” Tuscan wine estate. Take one look at their famous Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio €19.99 with its venerable medieval knight on the label and it screams traditional. Indeed the style too would be classed along the traditional lines as it harks back to pre-‘Chianti boom’ days to when top producers stuck to Sangiovese and aged in old, large format Slavonian oak barrels.

However behind this traditional face San Felice are in fact extremely innovative and are constantly seeking ways to improve their established wines as well as create new wines to suit the modern world.

One of their most exciting developments in recent years has been the creation of an affordable wine from their Maremma coast estate. With Perolla Rosso (€12.99) they have championed local grape  Ciliegiolo (20%) which they believe is better suited to the area than Sangiovese which has dropped from 35% of the blends to just 10%. The results are astonishing; Perolla is now a super-ripe, modern Italian with great depth of sweet dark-berried fruit and a kick of Morello on the finish.

Incidentally its white partner is the super fresh, aromatic Perolla Vermentino (€12.99)  which even has a 15% dollop of herby/lemony Sauvignon Blanc thrown in to really tune it towards modern tastes in white wine.

Elsewhere from their Chianti vineyards they have created a brand new wine that again follows the lines of modern, fruit-rich reds. The wine is Contrada di San Felice (€12.99) and it began life as a local project that simply took off. The Contrada are districts or wards of Italian cities and each year in Tuscany the 17 Contrada of the city of Siena take part in the famous horse race the “Palio”. T his is followed by huge traditional banquets and it was these that Contrada di San Felice was originally designed for.

 However the wine was immediately a hit and literally sold out on the spot leaving San Felice to conclude that they had something really special on their hands. Contrada is now the new star in their portfolio and offers a proper Tuscan wine experience at a low price but with none of the ‘bitter twists’ you get with cheap Chianti.

Speaking of Chianti there have been changes here too and although Il Grigio is untouchable – and frankly needs no change – the normal Chianti Classico (€15.49) however has been re-shuffled to include 10% of Pugnitello. A grape San Felice have championed in the region. This adds a degree of richness and black fruit to the final wine, and that extra layer makes all the difference to the final blend.

So the next time you are looking for a good, modern Italian that won’t break the bank but will add a good degree of class to a meal then please do have look at San Felice’s new gems.

Tags: chianti (1) , italy (9) , tuscany (1)

Posted in Top Tips | Winemaker Spotlight | No Comments »

Ten Under €10……for January

Posted by Lynne Coyle on Fri, January 18, 2013

There is no doubt that we are all looking for value this January. In wine terms that does not mean that you have to compromise on either quality or choice of grape variety or country. We have a great selection of promotional wines selling below €10.00 this January.  

MODERN CHILEAN CHILEAN PAIR FROM THE FAMOUS EMILIANA ORGANIC PRODUCER    

€ 7.99 Andes Peaks Sauvignon Blanc

€ 7.99 Andes Peaks Merlot

VENETO PINOT GRIGIO PERFECT WITH PASTA AND RISOTTO   

€ 8.99 Celso Eco Pinot Grigio

WARM SPAINISH RED IDEAL WITH TAPAS AND MANCHEGO CHEESE    

€ 8.99 Marques de Aldaz Tinto

NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON FRESH, ZINGY AND REFRESHING 

€ 9.99 Sloop Bay Sauvignon Blanc

RICH DOURO RED TO SIP BESIDE THE FIRE 

€ 9.99 Tons de Duorum Red

CLASSIC LOIRE SAUVIGNON IDEAL WITH GRILLED GOATS CHEESE 

€ 9.99 Robert Cantin Sauvignon Blanc

BRAND NEW THONE SPICY, JUICY AND RIPE  

€ 9.99 Ortas Cotes du Rhone Réserve

INDIGENOUS SPANISH GRAPE THAT OFFERS STRUCTURE AND OPULENT FRUIT 

€ 9.99 Molino Loco Monastrell

COOL CLIMATE CHILEAN SAUVIGNON 

€ 9.99 Ventolera Sauvignon Blanc

Tags: ten under €10 (1)

Posted in 2009 En Primeur | O'Briens News | No Comments »

A Good Start

Posted by Robyn on Fri, January 11, 2013

On Sunday Tomás Clancy published the results of the Sunday Business Post Annual Wine Awards.

We are delighted to feature in three different categories and especially with our first place as Best Multiple Wine Chain.

Here’s what Tomás had to say:

“The total dominance of the Irish wine landscape by sheer quality, intelligence and an inexhaustible supply of energy coupled by a mastery of its market and a telepathic connection to its customer base makes victory for O’Briens wines once again inevitable”

On top of that we took 2nd place in Tomás Clancy’s Best Wine Website Award -  Bravo to Winedirect.i.e. for its 1stplace. Here’s how Tomás described our website:

“O’Briens is easy to use, sharp and engaged”.

Last but not least; for the first time in the history of these awards we have made it into the top 10 list of Best Fine Wine Importers and are the only specialist retailer on the list. Wholesaler Simon Tyrell’s excellent portfolio specilazing in Rhône wines scooped top prize in this Category.

All in all that makes a bright start to the year and we look forward to 2013 with lots of plans to keep improving the range and our wine offerings.

In the meantime there are some cracking wines on offer this January and my weekend choice will most definitely be the velvety smooth L’ Ostal Cazes Eclipse Red from Minervois. Richly textured with incredibly bright, fragrant, black-berried fruit – not to be missed this one! €12.99 (was €15.99)

Tags: awards (6)

Posted in Awards | O'Briens News | No Comments »

Argentine Superstar

Posted by Robyn on Fri, January 04, 2013

This is really a bit of a heads-up as the new vintage of Amancaya - an all-time Argentine favourite - has just landed. The vintage is 2010 and it the best we have ever seen of this hedonistic Malbec/Cabernet. Luscious and full-bodied with layer upon layer of succulent dark fruit framed in French oak it is a class act.

Amancaya comes from Bodegas Caro in Argentina’s Mendoza region and it is a Bodega with some of the most impressive pedigree in the country. Established in 1999 Bodegas Caro is a joint venture between Bordeaux aristocrat Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)and Argentina’s most famous producer Nicolas Catena.

From Monday the 7th  it will drop from €19.99 to €14.99 and although it is January and purse strings are tight this really is a treat not to be missed. Don’t just take my word for it though take a look at some of the praise this vintage has already received at the hands of the world’s major wine journalists.

"The Malbec dominates the floral bouquet with dark cherries, violets and strawberry pastilles that is well-defined. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannins that lend the Amancaya a silky smooth texture. There is a touch of red peppercorn on the mid-palate with a spicy-tinged finish that is controlled and very focused. This is a classy wine for the price. Drink now-2017." - NM

Rated “Outstanding” 91 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

"The bouquet is loaded with sweet-smelling aromas of dark plum and blackberry. It feels intense, packed and pure in the mouth, with potent flavors of blackberry, baked plum and cassis. The finish feels mild and smooth, with a long, jammy, steady fade." - MS

Rated “Outstanding” 90 points Wine Enthusiast Magazine

"A joint venture between Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena. The nose beams with plums, dried figs, cherries and mint with a juicy palate of spices, herbs and balancing acidity."

4**** Decanter Magazine

So if all this appeals then my advice is get in early, we only have 400 cases and with 32 stores means approximately just 150 bottles per stores. In other words this will sell out.

Tags: argentina (1)

Posted in Awards | Top Tips | No Comments »