O’Briens Wine Beer & Spirits
33 Spruce Avenue Stillorgan Industrial Park Co. Dublin Ireland Ireland
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  • Top picks from our Italian Wine Sale

    With our Italian wine sale kicking off this Friday the 9th , I thought now would be the perfect time to take a whistle-stop tour through Italy’s wine regions and look at some of the wines produced therein.

    We start our journey in the Northwest, in the region of Piedmont which is home not just to Italy’s finest reds; Barolo and Barbaresco, but also to one of the country’s best whites in Gavi, which can be just about the most refreshing of Italian white wines with clear lemon, ripe apple and pear fruit, and an underlying stony-mineral character. An extremely elegant white, la Battistina (€11.95 down from €14.95) is easily one of the best examples of Gavi in Ireland. Enjoy it with Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken.

    La Battistina Gavi would be perfect with a delicious lemon and herb roasted chicken.

    Moving across to the Northeast, we come to the Veneto region, this vinous powerhouse produces more wine at D.O.C. level (Quality equivalent to AC in France) than any other region in Italy. This of course includes lots of white and sparkling wine, but the region is most famous for its red wines made using dried grapes. Porta Nova (€14.95 down from €20.45) is a big, bold, chunky Ripasso with loads of sweet, ripe, dark fruit, clever use of oak and that distinct 'sour cherry' Amarone tang. The velvet smooth texture means that this wine can quite easily be enjoyed on its own, but to see it at its best, I would serve it alongside a meaty Italian dish such as Tagliatelle al Ragù or even better with Veal Osso Bucco.

    Veal Osso Bucco would be perfect with Porta Nova Ripasso.

    Staying east but moving down the Adriatic coast to the Marche region of central Italy we have, Marotti Campi's  Albiano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (€10.95 down from €14.95) which has refreshing citrus fruits, zesty acidity and complex minerality as its hallmarks, when well-made like this example, Verdicchio is one of the very best whites Italy produces. Serve alongside Linguini with Clams for a match made in Heaven.

    Lorenzo Marotti Campi amidst his Verdicchio vines.

    Crossing west again we come to the Tuscany region, home to what is perhaps Italy’s most renowned wine in Chianti. Made by the award-winning winemaker, Stefano Chioccioli, Volpetto Chianti Riserva (€11.95 down from €19.95), is modern Chianti at its best, packed full of juicy, ripe red-berried fruit, nice touch of oak and above all silky smooth. It's a superbly made wine that will appeal to everyone, not just fans of Italian reds. This is a wine that is crying out to be paired with slow-roast shoulder of lamb.

    Volpetto Chianti Riserva is crafted by the award-winning winemaker, Stefano Chioccioli.

    We finish our journey deep in the South in the heel of Italy. From the Puglia region, Luna Argenta (€12.95 down from €18.95) is made using the Apassimento method (borrowed from the Veneto), whereby the grapes are partially dried prior to vinification. This yields a wine with intense aromas of crushed black berry and black cherry with notes of vanilla and cinnamon spice, these aromas follow through on to the palate along with hints of mocha/chocolate, with this wine’s wonderfully rich style braised lamb shanks would make for a delicious pairing.

    The sun-drenched vines of the Puglia region yield super-ripe fruit.

    Our Italian wine sale continues right through Saint Patrick’s weekend and finishes at 10.00pm on Monday the 19th.

    *Please note, prices quoted are valid from March 9th – 19th 2018, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.

  • A Return to the Classics.

    Along with most wine bloggers, I am probably guilty of directing most my attention to the new wines on the scene, all the better if they come from an upcoming or even a surprising region or if they are produced using a largely unheard-of grape varietal or winemaking technique. Not that there is anything wrong with this per se, but it would be a shame not to give a mention to the some of the established classics every now and then.

    After all, these are the wines that for most of us (myself included), first got us thinking seriously about wine, and if truth be told, these are also the wines I most often select from when choosing a wine to enjoy at home.

    My first choice, Chablis, is in my opinion, the definitive dry white wine, and few producers in Chablis have such an extensive range of brilliant wines as Jean-Marc Brocard. From basic, right up to Grand Cru they excel. These are wines for the real Chablis lover, balancing wonderfully pure fruit and steely minerality. Their Chablis AC (€24.95 down to €18.95) is a benchmark for the region, showing the conference pear, chalky minerality and steely firm, citrusy acidity it's renowned for.

    Jean-Marc Brocard and his Son, winemaker Julien enjoying the fruits of their labours, amidst their vines.

    Next up is a wine from one of the Loire valley’s very best producers, Langlois-Chateau, which is owned and run by Champagne House Bollinger, whose quality charter is applied rigorously to all the wines of this great estate. Their Château de Fontaine-Audon Sancerre (€21.95 down to €18.95), has a terrific purity of fruit, with elderflower and piercing lemon peel freshness against a background of chalky minerality.

    The grape growing and winemaking at Château Fontaine-Audon is overseen by winemaker François Régis de Fougeroux.

    On to the reds now, and no collection of classics would be complete without including a Bordeaux. The example I have chosen, Château La Raz Caman (€19.95 down to €16.95), is sourced from a single vineyard which is planted on 'clayey limestone, stony' hills on the right bank of the Gironde, just across the river from Pauillac.  It is an ambitious and charming wine made with 30% new oak barrels from four varieties that has plenty of black fruits, vanilla, spice, and supple tannins.

    Just-picked, these wonderfully-ripe, plump Merlot grapes are destined to form part of the blend for Château la Raz Caman

    For my next choice, we must cross the Pyrenees into Spain. Based in Cenicero Rioja, Monte Real farm 300 hectares of Tempranillo vineyards with the objective of making modern fruit driven Rioja. They can trace their heritage back over 100 years and this coupled with a modern winery allows them to straddle tradition and innovation. Monte Real’s Reserva (€20.95 down to €12.95), consistently delivers a little more weight and depth than its peers, and although light in colour, it has plenty of fruit on the nose including blackberry and cherry supported by nut and toasty oak notes with the full palate also showing the classic vanilla character Rioja is renowned for.

    Monte Real's Rioja Reserva, spends many years ageing in their thoroughly modern cellars.

    On to Italy now, and to San Felice, where the search for quality has always been of paramount importance and this has encouraged new initiatives for the replanting of its vineyards, technological innovation in the wine cellar and experimentation. Yet through all of this, their wines remain true expressions of the Tuscan landscape from which they come. San Felice’s Il Grigio (€22.95 down to €18.95), has great concentration without being too big or flashy. Boasting real Sangiovese, black cherry character, this is as authentic as Chianti Classico gets.

    Sangiovese vineyards surround San Felice's breath-takingly-beautiful Tuscan estate.

    Best of all, we are offering 20% back onto your loyalty card for any six wines purchased from this Friday the 17th right up until 10.00pm on Sunday, November 26th, so there can be no better time to pop into your local store and reacquaint yourself with these classics or indeed any of the more than 200 exciting wines we have on promotion.

    *Please note,  prices are correct at time of publishing, these offers will end on January 2nd, 2018, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.

  • Portfolio of a Maestro

    Few winemakers in Italy have garnered the sort of acclaim, both nationally and internationally as winemaker extraordinaire Stefano Chioccioli. Stefano has worked for some of Italy’s best known and most renowned estates and brought their wines to the pinnacle of achievement in Italy; the award of Tre Bicchieri. More than 70 wines that have come from the hands of Stefano have earned this most coveted Italian wine award. International acclaim is no less salubrious as several ‘Chioccioli’ wines have gained 100 points with both Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator.

    The relevance for us however is that Stefano Chioccioli heads up the winemaking for a range of wines that have reached our shores over the last two years. The wines are from a dynamic team (The Wine People) that make wines from several key Italian regions and Stefano is responsible for every aspect of winemaking in each of their bases.

    In Chianti the Volpetto Chianti Riserva €17.99 calls on Stefano’s vast experience with Sangiovese and he manages to craft a wine that is modern, very ripe and pure in fruit but never sacrifices that natural, dark-cherry Tuscan character. Having worked for years with Stefano Girelli - the Wine People’s co-founder - at Girelli’s estate of Santa Tresa,  Stefano Chioccioli is well used to  Sicilian fruit. This is clearly in evidence when you taste the Indesio Pinot Grigio €9.99 (was €13.99), a wine full of vibrant, pear and peachy  fruit yet with remarkably fresh acidity keeping it all very interesting. Meaning in a blind tasting this Sicilian would outclass many a more expensive Pinot Grigio from northern Italy.

    Working with first class organic fruit at Girelli’s Sicilian estate of Santa Tresa the results produced are astounding. Stefano Chioccioli never loses his sense of place, these wines are undeniably Sicilian but they hava a richness mid-palate and a purity of fruit that give wide international appeal. Try the Santa Tresa Nivuro Cabernet €17.99 with a good rib-eye – let the wine breathe for an hour – and you are in for a treat. The white wine from Santa Tresa, the Rina Ianca Grillo/Viognier €14.99 (was €17.99) is an exotic, aromatic, complex white that gives boundless pleasure and is a dream match for rich seafood.

    Finally for those who are sulphur intolerant, Stefano has mastered a technique which allows a very decent red to be made from the local Nero D’Avola grape and not need the addition of sulphur as a preservative. The Santa Tresa Insieme €13.99 is 100% NSA (no added sulphur) and it is a terrific little red, full of punchy, wild, dark berried fruit all wrapped up in a silky smooth mouth feel  -this has just landed instores.

    Whereveryou  look the wines from Stefano Chioccioli go far above and beyond the norm. Great wines that reflect all that is dynamic and innovative about modern Italian wine.

  • The Modern Face of San Felice

    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.

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