O’Briens Wine Beer & Spirits
33 Spruce Avenue Stillorgan Industrial Park Co. Dublin Ireland Ireland
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Monthly Archives: August 2013

  • Why choose Biodynamic?

    Wines produced from biodynamically grown grapes are often described as being super-organic.

    But that doesn’t really tell us too much about what actually goes on in a biodynamic vineyard, so I thought it might be useful to sum up a few of the key points.

    To start out we need to think of biodynamics as an holistic philosophy rather than just a set of agricultural practices.

    These philosophical principles were first put forward by Austrian philosopher–scientist Rudolf Steiner in 1924.

    According to Steiner there are very strong links between the material and spiritual worlds, and it is with respect to these links that he drew up the foundations of biodynamic agriculture, such as paying special attention to the lunar calendar before doing anything in the vineyard.

    Now I know this is all starting to sound a bit hippy and mystical, but one of the central principles is the view that the soil itself is an organism and therefore the idea of using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides is completely out of the question.

    It is to this principle that most biodynamic wine producers are attracted, and in fact many will distance themselves from some of the more kooky elements of the philosophy.

    One thing is certain Biodynamism is here to stay and as more and more producers are gaining certification there are some wines of truly amazing quality being produced.

    I have picked out a couple of great examples below.

    From Alsace, Marc Kreydenweiss’ Andlau (€18.99) is a small production, estate-grown Riesling derived from slopes that are a continuation of Grand Cru land.

    This white is delicate and floral at the moment but with tremendous underlying fruit.

    It proves a dream of a Riesling and the perfect match for aromatic Cantonese or Thai cuisine.

    Emiliana's winemaker Alvaro Espinoza is Chile's leading exponent of biodynamic practices.

    His wines have tremendous purity and depth of fruit and none more so than the magnificent Coyam (€17.49 down from €20.99).

    Rich and powerful but still softly textured, it's a bit like a Chilean Châteuneuf-du-Pape.

    Try it with slow roast shoulder of lamb for a match made in heaven.


  • What’s in a name?

    You say Syrah, I say Shiraz, is there anything more to differentiate between these two than just spelling and pronunciation?

    Well I suppose the answer to that question is both yes and no.

    Wines labelled as either are produced using the exact same grape variety, but depending on the climate in which the grapes were grown these wines can taste very different indeed.

    To start out we should take a look at the Rhone valley where Syrah has planted here for many centuries, in fact some of the earliest mentions of it date back to Roman times.

    It is here in the northern Rhone ACs of Hermitage, Côte Rotie, Cornas, St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage that Syrah produces the dense, long-lived, savoury and peppery wines that typify the style.

    The Ferraton Crozes-Hermitage la Matiniere (€ 17.99) is a great example of this style, a beautifully balanced lighter style of Syrah in which elegance and very pure fruit combine, resulting in a silky smooth red that works well with a wide range of dishes from grilled red meats to roast poultry.

    When we come to talk about Shiraz, generally that means we are looking at a wine from Australia.

    The grape variety, along with many others was introduced to the country by James Busby in 1831 and since that time the spelling and pronunciation has evolved to give us Shiraz.

    In the hotter drier climates of Australia, Shiraz produces wines that tend to be rich and full-bodied with intense dark bramble fruit along relatively higher alcohol and sometimes even some confected notes.

    Produced in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia, the Longview Yakka Shiraz (€ 18.99) is dark purple in colour, with aromas of black cherries, white pepper and bakingspices exhibiting flavours of dark chocolate and coffee. It has toasty oak characters, perfectly balanced tannin and a long clean finish.

    This is the perfect red to match with full-flavoured dishes such as BBQ meats or a spicy Lamb Tagine.



  • French Favourites

    With our 20% off French wine sale running until Tuesday the 20th, there can be no better time to pick up a few bottles.

    With such a wide variety of wine styles to choose from and with sale prices starting from €8.79 there's something here to suit everyone.

    As an aperitif I think Muscadet is one of the best, crisp, dry and relatively high in acid it is just the thing to set those tastebuds tingling.

    The Domaine de la Chauviniere ( Sale Price € 9.59 ) is a fantastic example, aged on its lees for three months there is a roundness added to the green apple and lemon fruit which make this a great match with Shellfish or Sushi.

    If Sauvignon is your thing, then we have great choices running from the bone dry in Sancerrre right up to fuller flavoured examples that would put you in mind of Marlborough, New Zealand.

    The Sophie Bertin ( Sale Price €14.99 )has terrific minerality and is a fantastic of how good Sancerre should taste, try it with a zingy goat's cheese salad for a taste sensation.

    If you are looking for something fruitier, the Haut Poitou ( Sale Price € 9.99 ) has fantastic aromatics and is herby, fruity and very, very Sauvignon Blanc! This is exactly the 'New Zealand' style that Ireland loves.

    This wine would work well with meatier fish dishes or even  a Thai Green curry.

    Possibly the most versatile white wine in Ireland is the Chanson Macon Villages ( Sale Price € 11.99 ), not too fruity, not too dry, just perfectly poised between crunchy green apple fruit and soft warm honey flavours. This is a great all-round wine that drinks well on its own but can match a wide variety of food from fresh shellfish to roast poultry.

    Staying with versatility as a theme, Cotes du Rhone reds tend to have restrained tannins and a ripe fruit profile that allows them to match easily with a wide range of dishes.

    The Ferraton range are among the regions finest and their "Plan de Dieu" Côtes du Rhône-Villages ( Sale Price € 11.99) excels, you get a solid, bullet-proof red at an affordable price, a wine that has complexity of flavour and delivers every time. With its "so ripe it's almost sweet" dark fruit and satin smooth mouthfeel, this is a brilliant wine.

    Moving into Bordeaux and  the Château Pey de la Tour ( Sale Price € 14.39 ) is a perennial star in many a wine critics "Best of" lists. It  consistently and in every vintage manages to ably show of the charms of succulent, plummy, wild berry fruit and the classic cedar aromas of good barrel ageing.

     Pair this up with some grilled lamb chops and you are in for a real treat.

    To finish my selection I have chosen an intense red from the south of France,  The L'Ostal Cazes Estibals has superb density of dark blueberry and blackberry fruit, new French oak and complex sweet spices.

    This is a wine that is crying out for a juicy rib-eye steak.



  • Sancerre Savvy

    Sancerre has been around for a long time as the Loire Valley was probably cultivated by the Romans and Sancerre is one its main appellations. Famously the home of Sauvignon Blanc, the vines are grown on a chalk soil which is similar to the soils of Champagne and Chablis. Located in the central vineyards of the Loire Valley, near the river, this chalk soil along with the hot summers and long cold winters define the style of the wines.

    However with so many options available it can be tricky to understand what this style should be. For an authentic Sancerre experiience my suggestion is to find a winemaker whos wine style you like. Winemakers such as the Bertin family focus on expressing the purity of the Sauvignon Blanc grape as well as highlighting the natural terroir character of the region. When assessing your Sancerre wine you should look for an expression of gooseberry and citrus aromas and flavors, on the palate typically it should be bone dry and have high natural acidity with notable mineral or flinty notes.

    The newly launched 2012 vintage of Sophie Bertin Sancerre ticks all of these boxes, plus you are safe in the knowledge that the wines are made by a small family business who are focused on the quality of the wine and respecting the heritage of the region and of  the Sauvignon Blanc grape. http://www.obrienswine.ie/sophie-bertin-sancerre.html

    For a wine that is similarly bone dry with a mineral backbone but has a bit more weight on the palate try Chateau Fontain Audon http://www.obrienswine.ie/ch-de-fontaine-audon-sancerre.html - the additional richness on the palate has been achieved through a touch of lees contact during the winemaking process, which adds complexity and fullness.

    Both wines are ideal to serve with light summer foods, goats cheese but above all freshly caught shellfish such as crab.

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