Tag Archives: Chanson

Some Picks from the O’Brien’s September Wine Sale

So the O’Brien’s September wine sale started yesterday, timed to coincide with our newly-acquired, post-holiday, sure-it-might-as-well-be-winter mentality.

Thankfully they have a great batch of wines at keen offers to help us through the rut. I haven’t tasted all the wines on offer but below are some I tasted at the Spring Wine Fair that I’d highly recommend…


Domaine Duffour, Cos de la Roque
Was €12.95 now €9.00

I’ve waxed lyrical about Domaine Duffour’s Blanc Cotes de Gascogne before,  and now they’ve their newer cuvée on sale for the frankly ridiculous price of €9. I wonder how the Duffours survive at all at prices like this. Again this is a blend of the regional Colombard and Ugni Blanc varieties (the latter usually used for Cognac) – expect crunchy limey apple fruit flavours and plenty of easy drinking.


Jaspi Blanc
Was €16.45, now €9.00

I really love the characterful, simple, cheap wines expressive of their locality. The Duffour above is one example, and this Grenache Blanc and Macabeo blend from Catalunya is another. It’s not exactly complex and brooding, but then again that’s not the style you enjoy in the sunshine with friends, great food and a bit of music. Instead it’s fresh and expressive, easy-drinking yet structured, and just really nice to drink. For €9 you’re laughing.


Leyda Sauvignon Garuma
Was €16.95 now €11.95

Very vivacious green pea and asparagus, definitely a New World Savvie and not for lovers of the often more austere Sancerre style. This still has a lovely core of acidity though, so good marks all round.


Chanson Mâcon-Villages
Was €16.95 now €12.95

If you like your Chardonnay on the more restrained end of the spectrum then this is great value from a notable region. Expect shy fruit and coy flavours, but with expressive clarity and focus.


Bethany Cabernet/Merlot
Was €20.95 now €11.95

I love the Bethany wines from Australia. I’m not sure of this wine’s merits at €20.95, but at €11.95 it’s an absolute steal. Expect leafy blackcurrant and blackberry flavours and general all-round goodness, a really fantastic wine for €12.


Torres Celeste Ribero del Duero
Was €21.95 now €16.95

Whenever this is on offer you’d be mad to miss it. Celeste is a family favourite in my house – originally we loved its lush glossy fruit, and as our tastes matured so did the winemaking style. Now you can still expect lots of rich fruit but a bit more toned down and now with a core of nervy energy and tannic grip. It’s just one of those wines: you can’t but love it, and it’s right for every occasion. Also the label is gorgeous and the price is keen. What’s not to love?


Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot
Was €27.95 now €22.95

Not for the faint of heart! This is a very decadent merlot, rich and ripe. Lots of menthol and chewy black fruit. But what amazed me was its balance: despite being a massive wine it still has nice grippy tannin and decent supporting acidity. So a blockbuster but in ballet flats, so to speak. I’m rambling. Grab a bottle and find out for yourself. I know I’ll be having “some fucking Merlot!”


Wines I’ve Had Recently (September to November 2014)

I’ve had a folder sitting on my desktop named “Wines” which contained an increasing number of hastily-taken iPhone photos of wines I’ve had over the last couple of months, and only now I’ve finally come around to writing up the  notes on them. At last!

Some I took proper notes for – recorded on my CellarTracker account – others I’m only recalling now off the top of my head. Looking back over the below it looks like I haven’t had a lucky time of it as it appears at first that I didn’t like any of them! But apart from one or two duds I did really enjoy all of them, despite some honest reservations or critiques which I had no problem in highlighting of course.

This on-the-fly round-up of wines I’ve tasted at home or out and about will likely be a regular feature, so I hope you enjoy this inaugural edition!


Chanson Gevrey-ChambertinChanson Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 2007
€48.50 from O’Brien’s, nationwide; and Millesima
Really very nice, though perhaps lacks the complexity for the price. Nicely balanced with savoury characteristics to the fore. Nice minerality and delicate acidity. Good length, a good all-round package but, as I said, I was found wanting somewhat.


Patrick Regnault Champagne Grand CruPatrick Regnault Champagne Grand Cru Vintage 2004
€40.00 from The French Paradox, Dublin
Delicate with baked pear most evident. Lean and a refreshing, but maybe a bit one-dimensional. This is a fantastic price for a vintage Grand Cru, but I was expecting perhaps more complexity for the prestige.


Serego Aligheri AnniversarioSerego Alighieri Valpolicella dell’Anniversario 2009
Approx. €20.00
A wine that impressed me immensely when I tasted it first maybe 3-4 years ago. Far richer than your usual light and refreshing Valpolicella – in fact it’s more comparable to Masi’s ripasso-style Campofiorin (Serego Aligheri is produced by Masi which may explain the potential similarity). This had kirsch cherry and bitter chocolate notes over a concentrated, taut palate.


Pol Roger 2000Pol Roger Champagne Vintage 2000
€67.99 from O’Brien’s, nationwide; Terroirs, Dublin; Mitchell & Son, Dublin; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin
The big one: taut and complex, mineral and steely, this was really impressive. I expected it to simply be a “better version” of the Pol Roger ‘White Foil’ non vintage whereas in fact it was it wasn’t really possible to compare this reserved and austere offering to the richer, more forward non-vintage label.


Domaine Guillot-Broux Mâcon-CruzilleDomaine Guillot-Broux Mâcon-Cruzille 2010
€19.99 in On The Grapevine, Dublin and Cabot & Co., Mayo
I tasted this originally a couple of years ago in On The Grapevine in Dalkey when they had a bottle open on tasting. I was really impressed by it: a refreshing and interesting Burgundian Pinot, whereas I was taken aback by the fact that it was in fact 100% Gamay, which I thought was only grown with any seriousness in Beaujolais. In fact Mâcon-Cruzille Rouge AOC can only be produced Gamay. I’ll need to read up on that one.

With some chagrin I bought a bottle to enjoy later. Problem is that I might have left it too late: this was, four years on, overly acidic and lacking in fruit, and a bit of a chore to get through. Either that or the bottle was flawed. Pity, but maybe I’ll try a fresher vintage some other time.


Chateau Dereszla Sparkling TokajiChateau Dereszla Sparkling Tokaji
€14.99 from Mitchell & Son, Dublin
A Hungarian sparkling wine made from a grape more famous for its sweet wines. If that doesn’t turn heads at your next dinner party then I don’t know what will (actually, here are few other fantastic factoids). This proudly proclaims itself as being frizzante, or lightly sparkling, despite being sealed under the traditional ‘mushroom cork’ used for fully-sparkling Champagne and Cava.

Pungent passionfruit, grapefruit and very ripe pear leap from the glass. Palate is equally generous with the sweet white fruit. Unfortunately it lacks the acidity or balance to offset its off-dry style – might be pleasurable for many but not my style. A nice interesting sparkler that’s well priced and goes down easily, but I’m not reaching for the third glass.


Allegrini Palazzo della TorreAllegrini Palazzo della Torre 2011
€24.99 from Mitchell & Son, Dublin; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; The Vineyard, Galway; Red Nose Wine, Tipperary; Greenacres, Wexford; The Drink Store, Dublin; WineOnline.ie
Very ripe and fruit forward, thick and mouthfilling palate, blackberry, smoke, some vanilla. Hedonistic, a bit chunky, but appealing if a big gutsy wine is what you’re after. Though in the same league as the Napa Cellars, above, in terms of weight and style, it has the balance and depth to match up to its beefy nature which is what the Napa Cellars lacked. A really nice drop.


CXVBodegas La Rosa CXV Cientoquince 2011
€26.95 from No. 21 Off-Licence, Cork
Really lovely, rich wine but with a balance that belies its 14.5% alcohol and New World origins. Not a shy wine by any means, this has plenty of sweet vanilla and coconut but that glycerine sweetness that’s usual from 14.5% alcoholic blockbusters is not much evident (again, see Napa Cellars above), resulting in a smooth and refreshing, full-bodied red. Nicely integrated tannin with a tingle of salinity. Really recommended.

The Obligatory Christmas Dinner Wine Review

It is a truism that wine bloggers get all jittery and gooey-eyed this time of year, and not for festive purposes. Christmas is the one guaranteed time of the year that ‘the good wine’ is permitted to be pulled out without an inkling of hesitation, uncertainty or guilt.

Throughout the year, wine-lovers, whether cognisant of the fact or not, torment and vex themselves on occasions where wine is requested of them, performing complex mental cost/benefit analyses in an effort to choose a bottle that fits criteria relevant to the situation. When a nice dinner is to about to be had, when friends call around on short notice, or something comforting is needed in front of the telly after a long day, all eyes turn to ‘the wine guy/girl’ in expectation and the mental gymnastics begin.

Of course the occasion for which the wine required is a big factor in the decision to be made. Should the wine be reliable or ‘interesting’; will the recipients ‘get’ an unusual bottle you choose; is it a time for alternative varietals or not? Are most of your wines in your collection for laying down for a couple of years or are some ready to drink now, and how can you be sure it’s in its drinking window? Should it be food-friendly or sipped on its own, and if the former then what food is being served and what will match it (and the complete can of worms that itself entails)? All these considerations and more jumble around your head while your hand hovers over various options until you find yourself, shamefully, weighing up if the occasion and the people involved are ‘worth’ a particularly fancy bottle on that specific occasion, before re-shelving that Super Tuscan for ‘another time maybe’.

Christmas is different though. ‘Tis the season for wild abandon of course, so the month tends to see your special wines wheeled out for all and sundry. Out come the vintage Champagnes, the icon Aussies, the Super Tuscans, the French Premier and Grand Crus, the bottles with just the right amount of aging or ones you’ll take a punt on. And of course with the ups come the downs: the bottles left too late; the ones that really should have been better; the oxidised, corked and TCA’d. But it’s all part of what we love about wine.

Anyway, here’s what we had on the day:

Ayala Champagne Brut Majeur NV[singlepic id=3 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Owned by Bollinger, the typical Bolly style is very apparent, though perhaps toned down a little – think of this as a ‘Baby Bollinger’ perhaps. Very vivid gold in the glass, there’s the toasty nutty nose and touch of butter and grilled nuts on the palate. The perlage perhaps isn’t as fine as some more expensive wines but this is just a niggle. Very good, and a decent QPR. Consistently a favourite of mine.

2001 Domaine du Duc de Magenta Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle 

A rare foray into cru white Burgundy. I’m suspicious that this may have been perhaps past its best or a victim of the scourge of random oxidation that white Burgundy has been suffering from of late. Notes of butter (real butter, and not just ‘buttery’) and nuts on the nose, even some sherry characteristics, which made me more wary of the possibility of oxidation. More sherry on the palate which blew off shortly to give more by way of nuts, a lick of oak and yellow-green apples. A sip with some Christmas turkey resulted in an explosion of this over-ripe, yellow apple characteristic which astounded me. Following from this was more sweet apple juice and some recurrent sherry notes. Overall this was an interesting bottle though I’m not sure I’d have it again.

2004 Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon[singlepic id=7 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Good solid wine but its time may be now. Blackcurrent liqueur, some firm menthol (but not to the usual Aussie blockbuster level), a lovely all-rounder. I’m guessing it’s slightly past it: I had this last year and it was firmer and more structured, but now it’s a little sweeter and not as balanced. A recent tasting of the 2002, which was certainly on its descent, suggests a similar prognosis. Still a rich, deep wine that’s very enjoyable now though. Perhaps give it a half-hour decant too.

2005 Chanson Beaune-Grèves 1er Cru[singlepic id=4 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Took a time to open up (initially it was jarringly harsh and acidic), but when it did it provided some nice Burgundian Pinot characteristics, but not to a a 1er Cru level I felt. Some nice mature baked red fruit, quite drying in the finish and nicely integrated acidity (eventually!), it went well of course with the Christmas dinner (especially matching and elevating the cranberry sauce) but as I said, perhaps not the 1er Cru level I was expecting.