O’Briens Wine Beer & Spirits
33 Spruce Avenue Stillorgan Industrial Park Co. Dublin Ireland Ireland
+353 1 2931040 online@obrienswine.ie Monday-Saturday 10:30am-10pm Sunday 12:30am-10pm


  • Game of Rhônes


    As autumn begins to settle in, my thoughts, wine-wise tend to shift from the crisp refreshing white and rosé wines of summer towards warming juicy-fruited reds, these thoughts inevitably lead me to one of my favourite wine regions of all: The Rhône Valley.

    The Rhône is one of the longest established regions for wine production in the world, so if you believe that “practice makes perfect”, these guys have been making delicious wines for centuries.

    Although viticulture as we know it arrived in Southern France with the Greeks in the 4th century BC, it was the Romans who really established the vineyards and reputation of the area, using the Rhône as their highway through France (and planting a few vineyards along the way).

    If we flash-forward a couple of thousand years and take a look at the wines produced in the Rhône today, it is definitely a game of two halves, if you will excuse the footballing cliché.

    Starting in the Northern Rhône, Syrah is the star grape here, and in sites such as Côte Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas it accounts for some of the very finest wines produced anywhere in France, of course these wines fetch a pretty fine price too, so I have picked out below a couple of stunning Syrahs below which won’t break the bank.

    With fruit sourced exclusively from vineyards in the northern Rhône valley, Nobles Rives Syrah from (€14.99) is one of the best cool-climate Syrahs I have tasted. Incredibly pure, fragrant, wild berry fruit, well-structured with every element working in harmony.

    The Cave de Tain are one of France's best Cave Co-ops making great wines at all levels. Their textbook St. Joseph (€17.99 down from €22.49 until October 5th) has delicate aromas of dark berry fruits, with vanilla and light oaky notes. It is wonderfully rich on the palate with a firm yet smooth tannic structure and a long finish with notes of fresh blackcurrant, violet and oriental spices. 

    In the Southern Rhône, Grenache is king and it is here that, perhaps the regions most renowned wine is produced, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Thankfully the Châteauneuf-lookalikes below come in at a fraction of the price commanded by Châteauneuf itself.

    Costières de Nîmes is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for wines that are produced in the area surounding the ancient city of Nîmes. Formerly considered part of the Languedoc, it is now part of the Rhône wine area as the wines more closely resemble those of the Rhône valley in character than those of the Languedoc. Château de Nages is the top estate in the region and their Vieilles Vignes (€12.99 down from €18.49 until October 5th) is made from the estates oldest vines. Powerfully built but very much in balance, the fruit is exceptional and is lent a helping hand by subtle use of oak.

    Côtes-du-Rhône AOC accounts for 50% of the valley’s production, Ortas Reserve (€9.99 down from €13.99 until October 5th) is an absolute classic Côtes-du-Rhône from a multi-award winning producer (Caves de Rasteau). Made in an upfront juicy style with lots of fruits of the forest, this wine is far better than any other Rhône available at this level.

    Hopefully you will enjoy these wines as much as I have done, and remember, when the leaves begin to turn, there’s no place like Rhône!

  • Grab a Grenache!

    Today is International Grenache Day, celebrating one of the World’s most widely-planted (and under-appreciated in my opinion!) grape varieties.

    Grenache or Garnacha as it is known in Spain is a late-ripening variety so it thrives in hotter and drier regions such as the South of France, Australia’s Barossa Valley and most of Spain.

    Grenache also enjoys some of the oldest vines in Europe. In Châteauneuf-du Pape, numerous growers boast vines which are over 100 years old. Those gnarled, old vines produce extremely low, yielding fruit that which makes rich, concentrated wines

    Grenache is also one of the most versatile wines when it comes to food-matching, but  It pairs particularly well  with grilled, stewed and braised meats like beef, veal, and of course game. The spicy character of Grenache means that it also holds up well to hearty and mildly spicy dishes such as the delicious Spiced Autumn Meatballs described by Domini Kemp in last Saturday’s IrishTimes.

    If you still feel like you need some persuading on the merits this gorgeous grape variety, check out what some of the world leading wine-critics have to say below, or even better why not drop into your local O’Briens store and pick up one of the wines I have highlighted.

    “Grenache has basically been disregarded for the last century. I find myself buying more and more Grenache based wines as I get older.”

    Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

    “Grenache is an unlikely hero of a grape. Until recently… at best ignored in much of the world, it is the grape responsible for the world’s more celebrated reds, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and… Priorat…. In this century much of it has been uprooted as part of the EU vine pull scheme, at the end of the last century it was planted on more land than any other grape in the world…”

    Jancis Robinson MW, Purplepages.com

    Cruz de Piedra Garnacha (€21.99)  is made with fruit selected from some very old vines in the Calatayud region of Northern Spain. Unlike many Spanish reds this wine is completely un-oaked, giving the gorgeous Grenache fruit a chance to shine on its own. It has a superb depth spicy summer fruits (redcurrants, blackberries) on the palate which follow on from the ripe, fruity nose. This wine is very well-balanced with a good weight of fruit, light, perfectly weighted tannins and great length on the finish.

    Geoff Schrapel is the 6th Generation of his family to make wine at his family-owned and run estate in the heart of the Barossa Valley. His Bethany Old Vines (€17.99 down from €21.49) is a very impressive Grenache made from ancient vines with buckets of sweet, ripe dark berried fruit. Incredibly warm rich and smooth, it is deliciously easy to drink.

    Planets de Prior Pons (€21.99) is a beautiful Priorat from a tiny family owned Domaine. The winemaker (the celebrated Toni Coca of Coca I Fito) makes a wine both rich in fruit and terroir. With a high proportion of old vine Garnacha going into the blend, the centre of this wine is intense and concentrated with outstanding fruit quality and with a deep mineral-rich vein of acidity running through it that keeps everything fresh and vibrant. 

    Château Mont-Redon (€33.49)  is a top Châteauneuf-du Pape from one of the region's oldest and best estates. Still family owned and run, the quality of the wine is impeccable; a big, smooth, generous red that is a perfect example of quality Châteauneuf. With judicious use of oak, this is not a big modern blockbuster but a true fine wine - complex, age worthy and smooth. 

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