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FR EE Issue 2 | Winter 2014

BRINGING OREGON TO YOUR TABLE. We’re not France, and we aren’t California, and we’re okay with that. Oregon is unique and so is our wine. We feel that sometimes the slower pace of life here, just means taking more time to craft what we love.

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At Union we don’t get too caught up in wine scores, the best French oak barrels or whether our sweater vest clashes with our ascot. We simply make good wines for ou r friends, and we embrace the challenges and excitement of the coordinates of where we reside. Fussiness bores us.

So, if you find yourself here in Oregon, pull up a chair at the table, be yourself and have a glass of our wine. Just remember to do it with your pinkies down, please.

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Tomรกs Clancy, wine critic at The Sunday Business Post, pops some bubbles in the dazzling world of Champagne and sparkling wines. CHRISTMAS 2014 UNCORKED | 3

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Must Buys Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut NV 75cl was €44


The Holy Grail for many of us is a Champagne at sparkling wine prices, and this is a solid example. A tart, savoury wine with lean good looks and a zesty finish, all framed by lovely, persistent bubbles.

Barciño Cava Brut Method Tradicional NV 75cl was €26


This Cava has all the complexity of a fine Champagne, with a dab of lime-edged Spanish joy that cuts perfectly through slightly oily tapas or softer cheeses.

Grifòn Prosecco Vino Frizzante DOC NV


hampagne is probably the world’s most famous sparkling wine, but it’s not the oldest. That prize goes to Crémant de Limoux, from the southern French region of Languedoc. Crémant de Limoux has been made since the sixteenth century, but back then they didn’t know how the bubbles came to be in their white wines. A certain monk called Dom Pérignon discovered the méthode behind the bubbly madness in the Champagne region in the eighteenth century, and that’s why Champagne rules the sparkling wine world today.

What’s the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine?

Prosecco, Ireland’s most popular sparkling wine, and Champagne differ in both the way they are made and in the grapes they use. In the nineteenth century, a French engineer, Eugène Charmat, invented a strong enamel lining for wine vats. This meant you could make sparkling wine in a large vat instead of inside one bottle at a time, which is the expensive and labour-intensive Champagne method. Using this tank method, you can make sparkling

‘“A certain monk called Dom Pérignon discovered the méthode behind the bubbly madness in the Champagne region in the eighteenth century, and that’s why Champagne rules the sparkling wine world today.”


75cl was €11.99

This is an attractive and well-made example of the lighter, less fizzy style. This is ideal for casual sparkling party fare, with light nut and lime notes and a smoother finish.


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Champagne grapes in a Champagne flute.

wine quickly and cheaply, which is how Prosecco is made in Italy. Needless to say, Champagne producers feel their handmade wine is worth the extra euros. The other difference is the grapes used. Prosecco uses the Glera grape (previously called the Prosecco grape), which is lighter and has a bit more lime cut, whereas Champagne uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, three expensive and complex grape varieties. Cava is made in the bottle, like Champagne, but uses local Spanish grapes. In other regions, they use either of these methods and their own local grapes.

What is the traditional Champagne method?

The ‘méthode traditionelle’ was invented in Champagne. Every single bubble is created in an individual bottle by living yeast. Once it has done its work the bottles are stored neck down so the defunct yeast gathers at the top. The clump of yeast is then quickly frozen in the bottle. Then the cork is popped off, which fires the yeast out like a bullet. Next the bottle is topped up with Champagne by hand with a dosage (a mix of Champagne and sugar). The bottles are also topped up with older, reserved Champagne to ensure the taste remains the same across many years. The bottles are then recorked with the familiar Champagne corks and stored again before they are finally labelled to be sold.

Must Buys Champagne Charles Mignon Premium Reserve Brut NV 75cl was €44.99

The Farra di Soligo Prosecco vineyards in Italy.


Mignon is a family-owned estate and this is their flagship wine. A shard of sweet toasted grapefruit flickers in the background above the mouth-watering zesty rush. The finish is snappy and precise.

Lunetta Prosecco Rosé Spumante 75cl was €18.99

Freshly picked Chardonnay grapes in crates in the Champagne region.


Strawberry blush colouring and sweet strawberry-like fruits on the nose, this is a wellpriced wine that balances acidity and a restrained alcohol level at just 11%.

Griffith Park Sparkling Rosé NV 75cl was €17.99


This sparkling wine is clearly firing a warning shot to other well-known New World sparkling wine makers. Made with noble grape varieties in a bright, fruity, modern style with a tingling finish, at this price it’s one of the most attractive sparklers out there. The Cison di Valmarino Prosecco vineyards in Italy.

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Must Buys €45

Champagne Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne Brut Grand Cru 75cl was €59.99 This is a stunning grand cru that demonstrates how brilliant Champagne can be at the top level. Reserve cuvées are probably the most affordable luxury on the entire wine landscape. The key is that this isn’t just a good Champagne, it’s also a very fine wine. Gloriously balanced fruit, then wiry, crisp lemon notes with just a touch of creamy lusciousness and a complex, elegant finish.

Cava cellars, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, near Barcelona, Spain.

What do brut and demi-sec mean?

During the topping-up process after the yeast is removed from a bottle of Champagne, if you add an unsweetened Champagne top-up, the Champagne remains very sour. It’s called dry in other regions or brut in the Champagne region. If you add a slightly sweetened Champagne top-up, it’s called demi-sec.

What do NV and vintage mean? Champagne Leon Launois Prestige Vintage Grand Cru 75cl was €49.99


Vintage Champagne can be an acquired taste. It tends to reflect the terroir more than a house style, and as such many consider it to be more expressive than the typical Champagne style. This glorious, rich 2005 offering is all mushroom, touches of toasty brioche, a hint of spice and tinned apricot, then a rush of cool, crisp, lemon-edged notes.

M. Bonnamy Crémant de Loire Brut Methode Traditionnelle NV 75cl was €19.99


The letters NV on a sparkling wine mean non-vintage. In Champagne and other sparkling wines, this really means multi-vintage, because the producers hold back vats of Champagne from previous years and then blend the amount they need each year from several years to get a consistent taste. Vintage Champagne and sparkling wine are exactly the same as still wine. They are made from grapes that were all harvested in one year.

What’s the difference between grand cru and premier cru Champagne?

Champagne vineyards throughout the region are meticulously mapped, graded and priced depending on their quality. The very best vineyards are designated grand cru and are the most expensive to buy grapes from. If you own or buy grapes from these, you can label your Champagne grand cru. Premier cru is the next step down below grand cru. There are far more of these and they represent real value and quality. Below that are ordinary vineyards. Wines from these will just say Champagne.

Crémant de Loire is great value. It uses the traditional bottle-by-bottle method of Champagne producers, but sources grapes from less fashionable sparkling areas, such as the Loire, to produce a classical sparkling wine for Loire fans. 6 | UNCORKED CHRISTMAS 2014

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Ringing in the of New Year


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Raymond Blake, author of Breakfast in Burgundy, has created a wine menu for a stylish New Year’s Eve dinner party and a tipple list for a house party. Now you just need to decide which party to throw.


Let’s assume your guests have had a traditional Christmas, sticking to the vinous classics such as Chablis and Claret. I think we can also assume that come year’s end, palates may be a little jaded and will welcome refreshment and some tingling excitement. It’s time to ring the changes prior to ringing in the New Year. This dinner party quartet will do the trick nicely. And just look at the variety, from four different countries and in four radically different styles. Above all else, variety and diversity are wine’s greatest attributes and they are richly celebrated in this selection.

Château Cabannieux Blanc, Graves France

Pórtico da Ría, Albariño 2011 12.5%, Spain


Now €10, was €13.99

The Graves region of Bordeaux is much longer established than the better-known Médoc, which is a mere pup of some 300 years of age. By contrast, continuous records of cultivation at Château Pape Clément, for instance, go back over 700 years. White Graves is Bordeaux’s secret treasure, appreciated by those who know it but largely unheralded otherwise.

In recent years, scores of Irish people have taken themselves to northern Spain to walk the Camino, the pilgrims’ way that ends in Santiago de Compostela, where they then discovered the delights of Albariño. Serve this as an apéritif with seafood canapés and you will get your dinner party off to a great start.

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Château Musar 2004 14%, Lebanon €29.99

selected stores only Today, Serge Hochar of Château Musar is something of a legend in the wine business, which wasn’t the case when Ireland became his first export market in 1967. Since then we have had an enduring love affair with Musar and its lavish, even baroque, flavours. Serve with roast beef or a meat casserole and watch the smiles break out on your guests’ faces.

Try this tangy little number as an apéritif.

Château Roumieu 2010 13.5%, France Now €12, was €14.99

selected stores only Everybody has heard of Sauternes but few people choose to serve it. Can its exalted reputation really be that intimidating? Its great attribute is that it can be served with cheese (Roquefort is the classic match) before seguing into dessert, where it does the honours just as well. It is lighter than port, though no less memorable for that.

Seafood is a magic accompaniment to the Albariño grape from Galicia.


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The great challenge of choosing wine for a crowd is so obvious that people forget it time and time again: you want something with broad appeal that will please as many palates as possible. This is not the time to serve up some quirky little treat that you are simply dying to tell all your friends about. Play it safe. And pay attention to the alcohol levels in the wines you select. Two of the four on the next page (the Castellani and the Coreto) are noticeably lighter on the scales than is the norm these days. More and more people are checking those tiny numbers on the labels before deciding what to drink. They will appreciate your wisdom and consideration.


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Castellani, Orvieto Classico 2012 12%, Italy

Coreto, 2011 11.5%, Portugal €10

€9.99 For too long Portuguese wine has been consigned to a place in the shadows as an adjunct to Spain. We drink it on sun and golf holidays and then forget all about it when we return home. Which is a shame, as this tasty little number demonstrates. Red berry fruit flavours and a light texture make it deliciously gluggable.

Orvieto is the classic white wine of Umbria in central Italy, north of Rome. Made from low-profile grapes such as Trebbiano Toscano, Verdello and Grechetto, it has slipped below the radar in recent years and deserves to be rediscovered. This one is a good start.

Niel Joubert, Chardonnay 2012 13.5%, South Africa €11.99 It’s time to stop bashing Chardonnay! The wobbly, over-oaked and over-alcoholic concoctions of the 1990s are gone. Chardonnay has trimmed down and lightened up. Chardonnay is back. There’s lush tropical fruit here without overt weight. In short, a perfect comfort white for the dark winter nights.

Must Buy

Best Buy

Gift idea

D'Arenberg, The Stump Jump Sauvignon Blanc 2010 12.5%, Australia selected stores only

Candido, Salice Salentino Riserva 2006 13.5%, Italy selected stores only

Château Beaumont 2010 14%, France selected stores only

The Umbria wine region in Italy is ready to be rediscovered.

Caño, TempranilloGarnacha 2012 13.5%, Spain Now €8, was €11.99

selected stores only You can hardly go wrong with Tempranillo, Spain’s signature red grape. No matter what style it’s made in, there is a basic warmth at its core that always appeals. And when it’s partnered with the sweet fruit of Garnacha, you are onto a winner. This one is no different: an enticing aroma leads on to a plump texture and good depth of flavour.

Chester Osborn, owner and winemaker at d’Arenberg, loves zany shirts, sports a zany hairdo and issues zany opinions at rapid-fire pace. The wines are less outrageous, though full of character nonetheless. This Sauvignon is well-balanced, clean and fresh, and comes with enough zip to recharge the most jaded of palates.

Can it really be a quarter of a century since I first discovered Salice? Yikes! It must be good, for I have been drinking it with pleasure ever since and over that time have squirrelled away the odd bottle to see how it ages. Very well indeed, is the answer. Think warmth without too much weight, tingly fruit and a lingering glow on the finish. Beaumont is one of the largest vineyards in the Médoc and has been the source of savoury, supple Claret of fine character for many years. Which is no wonder, for it is in the same ownership as the prestigious Château Beychevelle in St-Julien. The recipient of this gift will thank you warmly. Perhaps include a corkscrew.

D'Arenberg, The Stump Jump Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Now €14, was €16.99

Candido, Salice Salentino Riserva 2006, €13.99

Château Beaumont 2010, €24.99


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ELEGANT, Italian


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04/11/2014 04/11/2014 12:24 15:27



stormy NIGHTS

Port is one of the world’s greatest wines, says Matthew Nugent, the Irish Sun wine correspondent, and he shares his passion for its ancient traditions here.


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Where port begins

The story of port begins 40 miles inland in the harsh, rugged Serra do Marão mountain range that rises from the river Douro and extends all the way to the Spanish border 100 miles away. It’s a remote region, with few towns or villages. The mountains create a micro climate, dramatically reducing the rainfall to the east of them, with extremely dry, hot summers that often reach 44ºC and winters where the temperatures can drop below zero. The Serra do Marão is made of hard schist rock, but after centuries of backbreaking work, the sides of these imposing mountains have been fashioned into terraces with a ‘soil’ of pummelled rock to a depth of about one metre. The roots of the vines push deep into the mountainside in search of what little water and nutrients they can find. Some of the grapes are cultivated at up to 550 metres, but the best are grown at lower elevations. Remarkably, some 80 grape varieties are allowed in port production. Touriga Nacional (for its elegance

Port wine maturing in barrels in wine cellars, Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal.

The vineyards of the Douro Valley above Piñhao.

The world of port


and aromatics), the fruity Touriga Francesca, Tinta Barroca (for its softness), Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão and Tinta Amarela are

the dominant port grapes these days. For white port, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina and Viosinho are considered the best varieties. After the grapes are harvested in September through early October, they are transported to the winery, where they are crushed. There has been a return to traditional crushing by foot in many of the big port houses, particularly for their top wines. This natural crushing in lagares (vats) helps extract maximum colour and tannin. When the sweetness in the fermenting grape juice reaches the required level (the alcohol is about 6 to 8 per cent ABV at this point), the ‘aguardente’, a clear, flavourless, 77 per cent alcohol brandy, is added to stop the fermentation.

his is where the magic of port begins. With the fermentation halted, the wine’s sweetness is retained and the added alcohol helps harmonise the fruit, tannins and alcohol in the wine. It also drives the alcohol level up to 19 to 20 per cent. “The wines are transported by road to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia the following January, where the different styles of port are blended and matured,” says Chris Forbes, Marketing Manager for top port house, Taylors. Hundreds of barrel samples are taken as experts with decades of experience decide what goes into the final blends. Then the wine is matured into two different styles: bottle aged and cask aged. The bottle-aged styles are aged for a short time in a cask or tank and then do most of their maturing in the bottle. Vintage and single quinta ports are classic examples. These are rich, full bodied and packed with red and black fruit. Cask-aged ports remain in wooden casks until they are perfectly ready to drink. These include tawny, aged tawny and colheita ports (single harvest reserve). These tend to be lighter and slightly less sweet. They display dried fruit flavours, are more food friendly and are usually silkier and finer. Ruby, crusted and late bottled vintage ports are aged for up to six years in a cask or tank and are ready to be drunk as soon as they are bottled. They are closer to the upfront fruit style of bottleaged ports. Croft Pink port, which was only introduced to the market in 2008, has opened up the world of port to a whole new audience. Chris says, “We had no preconceptions about how it should be drunk when we introduced Croft Pink to the market, but it soon became very popular as an apéritif and as the base for many cocktails.” Any adventurous shakers out there will find a library of exciting cocktails at

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Port and food

Blue cheese, such as Ireland’s famed Cashel Blue, is a magic match with port.

There is so much more to port than just pairing it with cheese or as a post-meal digestif. “It is very versatile,” says Chris. “A glass of 10-yearold makes a delicious apéritif, but is equally good matched to a hard, nutty cheese or a pudding such as apple pie. Ruby ports are the ideal partner for a cheeseboard or chocolate dessert, like a chocolate brownie. They are also just as good with a bar of chocolate.” My own all-time favourite match is a vintage port and a chunk of Cashel Blue. And what would Chris recommend to a first-time port buyer? “Croft Triple Crown, made from a blend of fruity, ripe ports, is a great value, full-bodied, ready-to-drink port.”

Croft Late Bottled Vintage 2009 Port Now €16, was €19.99

Fonseca Quinta Do Panascal Vintage Port 2001 €38 selected stores only

Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port Now €26, was €29.99 selected stores only

Croft Triple Crown Now €13, was €19.99

Alluring aromas of blackberries and cassis on the nose of this full-bodied port. Beautifully smooth on the palate, with great structure and concentrated flavours of liquorice, blackberries, raisins and spice with a long aftertaste. Drink it with A rich chocolate cake.

Ageing in large casks gives this exceptional wine its ruby to tawny colour. Mellow yet full-bodied and sweet, warming and nutty on the palate with notes of chocolate, ripe figs, toffee and a long finish. Drink it with Gorgeous with most desserts, particularly dark chocolate, as well as fruits, hard cheese and blue cheese.

Full-bodied, ripe ports from across the Douro’s finest vineyards are selected for this approachable bottle. Aged in seasoned oak for three years, this exceptionally fruity ruby is perfect at the end of a meal. Drink it with Perfect to end a meal, either on its own or with Cashel or Crozier Blue cheeses.

A rich purple colour in the glass, with an aromatic nose of black cherries and plums. Elegant and complex on the palate, with concentrated fruit flavours of ripe black fruit and hints of cocoa and mocha with a lovely intense finish. Drink it with A wedge of Stilton or Roquefort and biscuits.

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Port on the shelf

White Port

Can be off-dry or sweet and is a cooling summer apéritif served with tonic and ice. A local Porto favourite is to serve it chilled with a slice of frozen orange.

Ruby Port

The best-selling port, this is simple and fruity. It’s aged in wood for about three years before release. Reserve or special reserve is usually aged for about six years and costs a little more.

Tawny Port

A versatile port style. The colour fades to a pale garnet or brownish red during long wood ageing. Good as an apéritif or after dinner.

Colheita Port

A tawny from a single vintage that is aged in wood for many years.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port

From a specific vintage, but not from a top year. Aged four to six years in wood before being bottled and ready to drink. Quite full bodied.

Vintage Port

Look after your port

TreaT vinTage porTs like oTher fine red wines: sTore The boTTles on Their sides in a cool place. You can sTore oTher porTs eiTher on Their sides (if TheY have a cork raTher Than a plasTic-Topped cork sTopper) or uprighT. all porTs excepT whiTe, rubY and older vinTage porTs keep well for a week or so afTer opening. aged TawnY porTs keep for a few weeks.

Wine of a single ‘declared’ vintage year, blended from several of a port house’s best vineyards. Bottled at about two years of age, before the wine has a chance to shed its strong tannins. It needs lots of time in the bottle and usually is not ready to drink until about 20 years after vintage.

Single Quinta Vintage Port

These are vintage ports from a single estate. Made in good years but not in the best vintages, when the grapes are needed for the vintage port blend.

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CHARDONNAY “Ripe fruit bouquet, soft sharpness and freshness are the features of this variety. In Casillero del Diablo we have created an exclusive Chardonnay. Its grapes receive the fresh breezes from the South Pacific Ocean, while develop a mineral style obtained from the unique composition of its soils”.

MERLOT “Native from Bordeaux, France, is elegant by nature. Flexible, of soft tannins, expresses freshness and sweetness. In its Merlot, Casillero del Diablo captured all the finesse of a subtle wine, of low astringency, with blackberry, strawberries and raspberries, together with chocolate, vanilla and cassis notes”.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON “It is the most famous variety of Casillero del Diablo. Its 2010 Vintage was recognized as the finest value Cabernet in the Planet by Matthew Jukes. It owns an intense cherry and plum bouquet, with vanilla and toast finishes. Is one of the red varieties with full wine in mouth, elegant and ideal to match beef in pepper sauce”.

SAUVIGNON BLANC “With origins in Bordeaux, France, this variety reminds us of freshness. In Casillero del Diablo this feature joins to a mineral note, with a refreshing style, with peach and red currant bouquets. A round, full wine, with perfect balance and finesse for matching a salmon ceviche and fresh oysters”.



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10/10/2014 21:31 10:17 29/10/2014



Kristin Jensen, co-author of Sláinte, raises a glass to Irish craft beer coming of age.


aving so much choice of craft beer might seem new, but it’s actually a throwback to the past, when there were hundreds of small breweries all over the country and beer was a local product. And now, after 200 years of globalisation and consolidation, the pendulum is swinging back. Chances are there’s a microbrewery somewhere near you, with local people making exciting new beers that you can find on the off-licence shelf.

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Meet the brewer Craft beer is booming. There are now more than forty microbreweries in Ireland, but when Carlow Brewing Company was established in 1996, there were only four. How did they make a go of it in the early years, before craft beer started to become so popular? “Export was another string to our bow that kept us in the game as we gradually built up the domestic market,” says owner Seamus O’Hara. Winning several Brewing Industry International Awards in 2000 certainly helped to put them on the radar internationally as an Irish brewery.

“Export is still an important part of the business, but the domestic market has been on fire for the past three or four years,” Seamus continues. Five years ago, 75% of their beers were exported. That’s down to 50% now as the demand from drinkers at home has increased. In fact, demand is now so great that in 2013 the brewery also opened its own pub, Brewery Corner in Kilkenny City. “We’re interested in Irish beer heritage and what’s been happening with ales and stouts over the years, but we’re also inspired by what’s happening internationally in

Seamus O’Hara of Carlow Brewing Company.

The carbonation and bitterness in beer cut through rich cheeses and cured meats, letting you taste each bite as if it’s the first.

craft beer and in pushing the envelope,” Seamus continues. You can see this in the way Carlow Brewing Company is expanding their range. They have branched out from their core offering – a pale ale, a red ale and a stout, amongst others – to include more adventurous beers, such as a double IPA and a barrel-aged stout. “As people get into craft beer, they start looking for what else is out there in terms of flavour and diversity, so we have to follow through in our products,” Seamus adds.

So what does the future hold for Irish craft beer? Is it all just a passing fad? Not at all. Seamus says we’re just scraping the surface of the industry’s potential. “We’re only just at the start, even though we’ve been at it for more than fifteen years. Consumers are demanding these products, so this growth is coming from the ground up. And once people start enjoying the flavours and diversity, there’s no going back.”

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Basic beer styles Most Irish microbreweries have a core offering of familiar favourites: a pale ale or lager, a red ale and a stout. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect from these styles. Lager Long associated with flavourless big brands, craft brewers are putting the taste back into this classic style. Good lagers have a sparkling gold colour and a dry, crisp, refreshing flavour. Pair it with BBQ, burgers, chicken, pizza, seafood, Mexican food or mildly spicy food.

Pale Ale & Pasta

Pale ale

Lager & Pizza

Irish microbreweries are putting their own stamp on this wide-ranging style. Look for a golden colour with citrus and floral notes and a hop bitterness that can be anything from moderate to high. Pair it with burgers, cold meats, creamy pasta sauces, grilled or roasted beef or chicken or a ploughman’s lunch.

Red ale This traditional Irish style ranges in colour from amber to a striking ruby red. The hallmark aromas and flavours are of toasty, caramel malt balanced with a little hop bitterness. Pair it with bacon and cabbage, BBQ, burgers, chicken, lamb, pork, steak or any roasted or grilled meats.

Stout & Stew


Red Ale & Steak

You won’t get the same long-lasting, creamy head on a craft stout as you’ll get from the nitrogenated global brands. What you will get is roasted coffee and chocolate flavours and aromas and a signature dry finish. Pair it with autumn game, beef, berries, black pudding, chocolate, roasted and smoked food, oysters, shepherd’s pie or stew.

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Crafty Brews O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Extra Irish Stout The brewery calls this the big brother of their regular stout, with a bolder flavour and a more full-bodied mouthfeel. Chocolate and dark-roasted espresso aromas and flavours are to the fore, with some spicy, bitter, slightly smoky notes following in close behind. Try pairing this robust stout with a rich chocolate dessert. You’d be surprised how well they complement each other.

Old Speckled Hen This amber-coloured English pale ale has a fruity aroma and a toffee, toasty flavour with a bitter finish to balance out the malty sweetness. A full-bodied, smooth mouthfeel makes this an easy-drinking ale. Try pairing it with a burger or a classic ploughman’s lunch or even a creamy pasta dish or a semi-soft cheese like St Killian.

Donegal Blonde Ale If you’re just starting to explore the world of craft beer, blonde ales are a great introduction since they don’t hit you over the head with hops and have only a hint of bitterness. The bready aroma is a forerunner to the biscuity, refreshing taste with a citrus spritz of orange. The delicate flavour means it would be a great match for chicken or seafood. If you’re not a fan of bitter beers, give this blonde ale a try.

Wychwood Hobgoblin Ruby Beer This is an extra special bitter (ESB) style of beer that’s amber red in the glass. The name of the style is a bit misleading, since bitters are actually very well-balanced, drinkable beers, and this one is no exception. The crystal and chocolate malts it’s brewed with lend a sweet caramel, raisin and bready flavour to the beer that is rounded out by the fruity, slightly citrusy hops to give an even balance between the bitterness and the sweetness. Great with bangers and mash, ham or a hearty shepherd’s pie.

O’Hara’s Irish Stout O’Hara’s award-winning stout is their flagship beer and has been brewed since 1999. It’s a ruby black in the glass with a fluffy tan head and a malty, dark-roasted coffee aroma. A smooth mouthfeel and more coffee, dark brown sugar and a hint of liquorice balance the bitterness. At only 4.3% ABV, it’s a surprisingly easy-drinking stout too for so much flavour. Black pudding, oysters, stew or a steak are all winning matches with a stout.


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glass espana

A of

There’s a reason you keep hearing about the wines of Spain: they’ve the largest vineyard growing area in the world. Ross Golden-Bannon recalls a meander through some of their more famous regions.


rriving in Bilbao a number of years ago, on a culinary trip with the Spanish Commercial Office, I was greeted by a stylish guide who welcomed me to the great Basque city. After first extolling the city’s gourmet credentials, she then expanded to the Basque country and finally, with some reluctance, to Spain. This layered welcome greeted us across Spain’s wine growing regions. Their knowledge, and rivalry, of their local food and wine, from farm worker to high-octane businesspeople, was universal. This fierce local loyalty and gastronomic knowledge is a bit like our loyalty to GAA clubs and our inter-county rivalry. It just tastes better. Terroir, that magical combination of land and micro-climate, dictates flavour and Spain has more than its fair share of contrasting landscapes. With some 79 specially designated wine growing regions, known as Denominación de Origen (DO), there’s plenty to taste. The region could be roughly divided into six, but there are many other delights beyond this region. After all, they do have over 400 varieties of grapes to harvest.

Green wines

The Camino Way Rioja Rueda SCaonmtipaogstoeldae Castilla y León

TBahsqeutery Coun es d e n e P

a i n alo

aC t

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The region of Rioja is famed even to those with little interest in wine, but once the wines of this region are tasted, the name Rioja is forever cemented in the imbiber’s mind. The elegant, flavour-filled reds are created from long periods of storing the Tempranillo grape in American oak barrels, which creates hints of strawberry, vanilla and a steady acidity. The further maturation in barrels and then in bottles refines an already chic little drop. But don’t ignore the whites, where the Spanish entrepreneurial spirit has seen a shot of new techniques in the mostly Viura grape, which you’ll also see called the Macabeo grape.


One to try

Finca Labarca Gran Reserva €15

Strictly speaking the Rueda DO rests within the wider Castilla y León region, but as it is home to the celebrated Marqués de Riscal wines that led the way in revitalising wine production here, it seems only fair to give them a nod. The flat high plains, where the rain in Spain really does stay on the plain, at least in springtime, winter can see sub-zero temperature. Then there’s the scorching hot summers where the hardy white Verdejo grape thrives.

Penedès & Cava

One to try Marqués de Riscal Rueda €11, was €13.69

By the time the French managed to get the EU to ban anyone from using the term ‘champenoise’ outside the Champagne region, Cava had already established its own elegantly bubbling reputation. In general terms Cava is found in Penedès in Catalonia, but production of Cava is allowed as far afield as Rioja and Navarra. The grapes here are Xarel-lo (or Pansa Blanca), Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay. Cava must, by law, spend 18 months on the ‘lees’, or with the dead yeast, giving it great flavour. Many spend a lot longer on the lees so this is a bubbly that is taken seriously by the producers and can often rival their Champagne cousins.

One to try Freixenet Corden Negro Brut €15, was €19.99

Spring showers bring out the flowers the high plains of Rueda Vineyard in Rioja, Spain Cava bottles stored in cellars where it got its name. Cava is the Catalan for cave.

no ia

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An early ripening black grape producing full-bodied reds, easily the most famous Spanish grape.


Castilla y León

Few places in Spain have a more contrasting landscape than the historically important Castilla y León. It is Spain’s largest autonomous region, with nine provinces covering sandy soil to stony and blistering hot summers and bone-chilling winters. The landscape has so many Denominación de Origen it is hard to compare one against the other, but it is still the reds from the Tempranillo grape that dominate the region. The DO to keep an eye out for is Ribero del Duero. But you’ll also find some green-tinged Verdejo, all citrus and passion fruit, made with thoroughly modern precision. That’s a good thing.

The Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Castilla y León. Even the Romans liked the local wines.

One to try

Condado de Oriza Ribera del Duero €13.99

Garnacha Tinta This is better known as the red Grenache. It produces a soft, dark


berry flavoured wine.



A black-skinned grape

known as Mourvèdre in France, with dark berry and plum notes.


If there was ever a region of Spain to be jealous of, it would be Catalonia, with golden beaches, the rich harvest of the Mediterranean as ingredients in their celebrated cuisine and even their own sparkling wine, Cava. Not to mention the cellars of one of the world’s greatest restaurants, El Celler de Can Roca, which are crammed with wines of the region that never even leave Spain. This gives you some idea of the diversity and quality of wines from Catalonia. Luckily some do get exported, including wines from Priorat, where the unique slate soil and misty hills produce near mythic wines of liquorice, black fruits and spices.

The isolated and dramatic Priorat vineyards in Catalonia

One to try Mosaic Priorat €15, was €23.99


A red grape often play-

Green Spain

ing a minor role blended with more famous grapes.

Airén A drought-resistant white grape planted across the dry, central plains.


The ancient fame of the Camino pilgrimage across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela is fast losing charttopping status to the unique flavours of the region’s ‘green wines’. If you like aromatic wines with a salty, savoury edge, these are the wines for you. The lush, emerald landscape looks remarkably like Connemara in parts, but with less rain and more wine.

The Camino Way, where pilgrims revive themselves with the glorious green wines of northern Spain

One to try Paco & Lola Albariño €14.99


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ca Fin rca a Lab

Finca Labarca a taste for real RIOJA Mundus Vini RESERVA Gold

Challenge du Vin


Les Citadelles du Vin CRIANZA Silver

Intenational Wine Challenge GRAN RESERVA Bronze CRIANZA Bronze

Wine Enthusiast

GRAN RESERVA 92 points

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FLAVOURS Aoife Carrigy, wine writer at FOOD &WINE Magazine, meets the Viña Aresti winemaker Jon Usabiaga and discovers some arresting flavours from this Chilean family business.

Viña Aresti vines are grown with a deep commitment to the environment.

The Aresti vineyard, where you’ll find a family business with over sixty years of experience.


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A winemAker’s paradise Chile is a winemaker’s paradise. It’s a long, thin country flanked by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the snow-capped Andes on the other, with a great range of climates and soil types in between. Protected by deserts to

Our approach is very much new world in style.”


the north and glaciers to the south, Chile’s vines have never been attacked by phylloxera, a pest that has plagued most of the wine-making world. The sharp contrast between daytime and night-time temperatures, particularly in coastal or high-altitude regions, means grapes ripen more slowly, producing ripe fruit with crisp acidity. Meanwhile, the warmer micro-climate in the fertile central valleys gives a boost to hard-to-ripen varieties such as



Aresti Estate chief winemaker Jon Usabiaga

xcitement is in the air at Hayfield Manor, where the scene is set for a tasting of the full range of Aresti wines available on SuperValu shelves. “My English is not great,” apologises Jon Usabiaga, who has travelled to Cork city from the Curicó Valley in the heartland of Chilean wine country. As chief winemaker for the family-run Aresti winery, Usabiaga’s job for the last decade has been to bottle that pasión familiar (family passion) instilled by the winery’s patriarch, Don Vicente Aresti Astica, and inherited by his daughters. Today, Usabiaga is in Cork to tell SuperValu store owners and off-licence staff why it’s a good time to be passionate about Chilean wine.

Jon Usabiaga, chief winemaker at Viña Aresti in Chile. Christmas 2014 UNCORKED | 27

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The Andes have helped protect Chilean vineyards from the phylloxera louse that has plagued the rest of the wine world.

Chile’s Top Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon

Widely planted in diverse conditions, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon ranges from simple, fruity quaffers bursting with blackcurrant flavours to more complex, full-bodied and tannic wines.


Introduced from France, where it struggles to ripen, Carmenère has thrived in Chile’s warmer regions, where it develops a generous black fruit character with interesting herbal and red pepper nuances.

Sauvignon Blanc

Chile’s diverse climates and soils allow for a great range of Sauvignon Blanc styles, from fresh and fruity to pungent and vegetal.


Though harder to sell on the export market, Chilean Syrah is well worth exploring, particularly the premium styles from the cooler high-altitude or coastal regions.

SuperValu wine buyer Kevin O’Callaghan is excited too. “Right now, the Chilean wine industry is on their A game,” he enthuses. Usabiaga agrees: “It’s a very interesting time to be making wine in Chile.” Having established a global reputation for excellent value wines, wineries such as Aresti are exploring how they can take full advantage of Chile’s unique regional diversity, in particular by matching grape varieties to specific microclimates and soils. “Every year, someone is planting something new somewhere.” Usabiaga’s Hispanic accent is a reminder of Chile’s historic ties with Europe. His wines, however, are utterly Chilean. “Our approach is very much New World in style,” explains Usabiaga, who has worked with French and Australian wine consultants and observed the results of their different approaches. “The main aim for me is to show the real character of every variety. If

“The main aim for me is to show the real character of every variety. If someone is choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon, it should taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon, with good ripeness and balanced acidity. I realised that you can achieve that more with the New World style.” someone is choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon, it should taste like a Cabernet Sauvignon, with good ripeness and balanced acidity. I realised that you can achieve that more with the New World style.” Aresti’s wines speak for themselves, especially when tasted side by side to compare the influence of different regional conditions on particular grapes. “Our Special Release Sauvignon Blanc is from Casablanca vineyards, 25km inland, which produce more citrus and floral flavours. They are less intense than the Trisquel Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda,

right on the coast, which has more a more asparagus character, with peas, green chilli peppers and grass.” Now that Chile better understands how to tap into the diversity of grapes grown across its different regions, the next step for winemakers such as Usabiaga is to explore the diversity within specific subregions. In Curicó, Aresti are planting Merlot at heights of 900 metres to blend with grapes from coastal vineyards in their upcoming Icon wine. “You have to explore always,” Usabiaga says with his infectious enthusiasm. Those SuperValu staff and customers are in for a treat.

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Special Release

Aresti Special Release Sauvignon Blanc 2013, €12.99 This Casablanca Valley Sauvignon Blanc is closer to a fresh French style than a pungent New World style, with herby, salty notes of nettles and lime. Winemaker’s suggested food pairing: “Sushi, ceviche or other seafood dishes.”

Aresti’s best

Jon Usabiaga hard at work.

Aresti Special Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, €12.99 With lots of juicy black fruits, elegant oak spicing and food-friendly tannins to provide some structure, this all-rounder offers lots of bang for your buck. Winemaker’s suggested food pairing: “A versatile wine that pairs particularly well with pastas and meat dishes.”

Roses are planted as an early warning sign of disease.

Aresti Family Collection Assemblage 2009 Now €20, was €25.99

Aresti Trisquel Syrah 2012 Now €12, was €15.99

selected stores only

An elegant Syrah with rosemary-scented strawberry aromas leading through to juicy, vanilla-spiced fruits and delicate tannins. Winemaker’s suggested food pairing: “This goes very well with dark chocolate.”

Led by Cabernet Sauvignon but with Syrah, Merlot and Malbec in the mix, this is smooth yet structured, with spiced black fruits and a touch of mocha. Winemaker’s suggested food pairing: “Grilled lamb chops with a sweet, rich jus.”

selected stores only

Aresti Trisquel Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Now €12, was €15.99

selected stores only From the coastal Leyda Valley comes this pungent style of Sauvignon Blanc, with its punchy, vegetal, herbal character and crisp, bright acidity. Winemaker’s suggested food pairing: “Serve simply prepared shellfish or white fish.”

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Chart topping Wine& Food matches

Decide the right wine matches early for a stress-free holiday season. Ross Golden-Bannon comes up with some wine matches for everyone’s top Christmas dishes.

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eing convivial is about making people feel at home, so even if you know the ideal food and wine matches, not all your guests will appreciate this. Some are happier with red wine and never stray and others can only enjoy a glass of white. While this can be a bit of a challenge to the host, there are a surprising number of dishes that work just as well with red or white. Here are some hints on wine matching with the top five foods you’ll see in nearly every home this Christmas.


The traditional match with turkey is a good-quality white Burgundy, but New World Chardonnays are a sensible match too. Red wine drinkers will find the old reliable, Pinot Noir, a useful tipple here. Still, there’s a lot happening on a Christmas plate, from rich pork stuffing to Brussels sprouts, so you might want to dial up the red to something a bit punchier, like a Merlot or an Australian Shiraz.

Top of the pops A red or white Burgundy, creamy Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

The indie charts Test run a big-flavoured Chianti or a fruity Italian red.


The saltiness of the traditional ham finds a good foil with New World Chardonnays, which often have a tropical fruit element to cut through the salt. Now you know why that pineapple circle isn’t such a bad idea. Chefs differ on whether ham is a white meat or red meat. This means you can easily offer a light red Beaujolais, a low tannin Australian Pinot Noir, and for those who prefer a white what about a Riesling of nearly any sweetness or perhaps an Alsatian Pinot Blanc.

Top of the pops A tropical, fruit-driven New World Chardonnay will keep everyone happy.

The indie charts If your Christmas ham has been livened up with winter spicing, try a Garnacha from Spain.

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ChriStmaS pudding

The ceremonial arrival of the Christmas pudding with a flickering blue flame from the heated brandy might fool you into thinking brandy is the classic match here. In reality, the brandy is just showing off its flammable side. A glass of sweet fortified wine will work here, such as a tawny port, or a sweet Madeira.

Top of the pops A tawny port, with its ripe, dark berry nose and jammy, figgy flavours, is a heavenly match here.

The indie charts Some would say Champagne goes with everything and therefore will work with Christmas pudding. If you’re going to experiment, a vintage Champagne can deliver the necessary complexity and a marzipan edge that cuts through the richness of the dark fruit.

Top of the pops

Smoked Salmon

The unique smoky flavour of our national pride, smoked salmon, can work really well with a dry Austrian or German Riesling. The mineral notes of a Chablis happily skip along with salmon which is more lightly smoked. You’ll find extra wine hints from the very ingredients you use to match your salmon, from wedges of lemon to fronds of fennel. These are notes to look for in the wine you’re choosing.

Champagne, Cava or sparkling white wine is the classic match with smoked salmon.

The indie charts For a bit of adventure you could match your smoked salmon with a Fino or Manzanilla Sherry. This is especially good if you’re serving the salmon as a canapé or nibbles rather than as a starter.

Top of the pops

SpiCed beef

Christmas in Cork wouldn’t be the same without spiced beef and even further afield it is becoming the go-to dish for busy hosts. This noble tradition sings of big flavours and can take on all sorts of punchy reds, but you will struggle to match a white wine with the dark spicy notes.

A lush Zinfandel could be just the drop here, but anything too delicate will be overwhelmed.

The indie charts The low tannins of a Barbera from Italy make it a good front runner in the indie charts.

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Bourbon vs.Whiskey

From a simple gathering of ingredients comes two great drinks, whiskey and bourbon. Apparently Santa likes both.

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hiskey is one of life’s great miracles. From a modest gathering of barley, water and yeast, we have created the worldrenowned Irish whiskey. We may not be blessed with sun-baked beaches or rows of grape-laden vines, but we have a mild climate, plentiful supplies of water and the cleanest soil in Europe. Our barley thrives in this rich landscape before it’s transformed into Irish whiskey. Others claim superiority over our golden drop, like American bourbon, but in reality bourbon and whiskey are the products of two very different landscapes and traditions. Like Irish whiskey, American bourbon must follow certain legal requirements in order to call itself ‘bourbon’. It must be made in the USA with a minimum grain content of 51 per cent corn, but you’ll find rye in there too. The ageing in new, freshly charred oak barrels is part of their distinctive tradition too. Interestingly, Jack Daniel’s

call themselves a Tennessee whiskey, though they sit beneath the bourbon-making tradition. They are not alone, as other Tennessee producers tend not to use the term ‘bourbon’. That said, they do things slightly differently from the normal bourbon-making process. Jack Daniel’s use a filtering process, called the Lincoln County process, where the whiskey is filtered through sugar-maple charcoal before it’s aged in barrels. This is an entire extra step to the usual bourbon-making process. It’s no surprise, then, that after the first taste of vanilla and spice you’ll get a pleasant wash of clean charcoal and burnt sugar. It’s quite a contrast to Jameson whiskey’s fragrant, floral nose and nutty palate with a whiff of sherry and a smooth wash. But then again, we have a lot more in common with our Tennessee friends than we think. The Jack Daniel’s distillery is in Moore County, Tennessee, where the consumption of alcohol is illegal. They can make it there, but you can’t buy it. Sounds very Irish to us.

What’s in a name?

The rules of IrIsh WhIskey

To use the term ‘Irish whiskey’ distilled spirits must be ...


IrISh whISkey IS TrIPle dISTIlled And MATured on The ISlAnd of IrelAnd. unlIke ScoTTISh


whISky (no e!), whIch IS dISTIlled TwIce.

Produced AT 70% And Then dISTIlled To A MInIMuM of 40% for SAle AS IrISh whISkey.


Aged In wood bArrelS for A MInIMuM of 3 yeArS.

There are four differenT Types of Whiskey: single poT sTill Whiskey, grain Whiskey, MalT Whiskey and Blended Whiskey. Single pot still Irish whiskey is unique to Ireland. It’s made from a mash of both malted and unmalted barely, which is then triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak casks. Ireland is the only country in the world that can produce single pot still Irish whiskey, giving Irish whiskey its characteristic full-bodied, rich and creamy mouthfeel. Most Irish whiskies are distilled three times, producing a spirit that is extremely smooth and perfectly balanced, as opposed to Scotch and bourbon, which are typically distilled twice. Most of the Irish whiskey produced uses a malted barley that is dried using clean, dry air. This is in contrast to many Scotch whiskies, which are typically made using malted barley that is dried with peated smoke, which lends its smoky, peaty character to the final whiskey. This is why you will rarely find a peaty Irish whiskey. Christmas 2014 UNCORKED | 35

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Set of whiskey bottles in

the growing Jameson family

The Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin, Ireland

Jameson is a blend of grain and single pot still whiskey and is the number one selling Irish whiskey in the world. (We’ll raise a glass to that!) The newest member of the Jameson family is Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel. The whiskey has cosied up to our bourbon friends and is matured in handcharred bourbon barrels. These are specially burnt to a specification created by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley.

Jack Daniel’s style

Jack Daniel’s whiskey maturing in barrels in an old store warehouse at Lynchburg.

In contrast to Jameson whiskey, Jack Daniel’s use brand new handcrafted barrels, which give that distinctive vanilla note. They don’t follow a calendar when it comes to the maturation process either: Jack Daniel’s whiskey is only ready when their tasters say so. After more than a century they still judge it by their own senses: “By the way it looks. By the way it smells. And, of course, by the way it tastes.”

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e e s s e nn


ORIGIN Jameson is made in Midleton, Co.

Jack Daniel’s is from Lynchburg, Moore County, Tennessee, chosen for the cool,

Cork, surrounded by some of the

clear cave spring water that’s ideal for

most fertile land in Ireland. There’s

making good whiskey.

no shortage of water either.


GRAIN The Jack Daniel’s mash bill is made of fine


grade yellow corn, rye and malted barley.

Jameson use malted and unmalted barley and maize.



Jack Daniel’s is matured in newly charred

Jameson can be aged in bourbon,

white oak barrels. Each barrel is crafted by

sherry and port casks.

their own cooperage.

TASTING NOTES The Jack Daniel’s nose

la l i n Va


The Jameson nose

s t u N



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Christmas wine


Who better than SuperValu Wine Buyer, Kevin O’Callaghan, to shine a spotlight on wine stars for the festive season.


Kevin O'Callaghan, the SuperValu Wine Buyer

hen picking a gift, I’m always reminded of a story of a friend of mine who was invited to his boss’s house for dinner. Upon arriving with a bottle of wine to impress, his boss’s wife placed the wine on the dining table while her husband was upstairs getting ready. When the boss came down, he greeted his guest, offered some apéritifs and then casually pointed to the bottle of wine on the dining table and said to his wife, “Come on, love, take that away and serve up the good stuff.” Awkward to say the least. As it happens, this was done more to impress his guest rather than being an actual review of the wine. For me, this story emphasises the importance of selecting the right wine for the right occasion. So ask yourself what kind of occasions are coming up this Christmas and how they’ll determine the wines you need. For instance, it could be an entertaining get together for a big crowd, but remember that wines can get lost in the mix at parties. Or perhaps it’s a relaxing night with an intimate group of friends where the wine served, or the bottle you bring, like my friend above, can be a conversational piece. Perhaps it’s for a self-indulgent little cheeseboard on a cold night by the fire or a gift for someone who really enjoys wine and you want to impress them with your special choice of wine. Or it could be a treat just for you. Can you think of anyone more deserving after some busy festive entertaining than yourself? So here are what I consider to be the best buy and must try wines for each of these occasions. I’m guiding you away from the standard selection of wine and directing you towards some of the lesser-known but brilliant examples of fine wines for all levels. For me, these wines show what turning over a few stones can reveal and I am confident that no matter what the budget or occasion, there is a wine to fit the bill.

Celebration evenings shouldn’t include celebration wines, which get lost in the fun.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas,

Kevin O’Callaghan SuperValu Wine Buyer 38 | UNCORKED Christmas 2014

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what to bring as a house guest


you cAn’t Go wronG with A bottle oF SpArklinG wine AS A houSe GueSt. There are bottles from €12 and up and no one will ever think it’s pretentious when they’re the ones getting the gift. Make sure it’s chilled and make sure they open it!

Seafood is an ideal match with Rare Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

match food and wine

3 Kevin’s

top tips

save money, time and disappointment


Get to know the wine StAFF in your locAl Store. I know many of them and they all really enjoy talking about wine, helping and even learning from customers. Their aim is to make sure you get more back for what you spend.

wine iS the FinAl inGredient to mAtch A meAl. Consider what the dominant flavours are and ask what wine will best match those flavours. Red wine with beef is great, but if it’s in a teriyaki sauce, then that changes everything and a white may well be a better option. Match a citrusy white wine with lemon and limes and match protein-rich meats and dark sauces with red wines.

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Kevin o’callaghan’s Christmas Wine stars

Party time

Dinner host

Just for you


the gift

Rare Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Now €8, was €12.99

Kings Ridge Pinot Gris Now €15, was €19.99

Finca Labarca Reserva Rioja Now €12, was €15.99

Vinha de Foral Moscatel de Setúbal Now €12, was €24.99

Chablis Vaillons Premium Cru Now €20, was €29.99

A brilliant wine for a party, this is a fine French Sauvignon Blanc without the cost. The grapes are picked from selected vineyards to produce an incredibly balanced wine that aims not to overpower. Elegant citrus flavours, peeled apple and a touch of lime deliver a mouthwatering Sauvignon Blanc. Great on its own or perfect with seafood and Asian dishes.

This Oregon Pinot Gris is a bit left field for most, but it delivers a wonderful display of cinnamon, green apples and grapefruit zest on the nose. These aromas extend to the palate. Intertwined with the fruit is a freshness with a long and balanced finish. While you can happily match this wine with most foods, it comes into its own when paired with mild, spicy cooking.

Rioja is on the tip of every tongue and we have many fine examples to explore. This is my go-to Rioja as it delivers all the depth of character the style is famous for. Big on the nose, it keeps changing with every sniff: dark ripe blackcurrant entwined with vanilla and spiced richness, and finally a wonderfully smooth finish. Great with duck, roast meats or dark chocolate.

Great value for a bottle full of sweet lushness. With a honey and orange peel aroma, the wine has a wonderful weight on the palate with an incredible mouth-watering effect. These Moscatel grapes come from a single vineyard, where the grapes are grown on warm sandy soils and are harvested between August and September once the balance between acidity and sweet ripeness is perfect. The result is an unctuous dessert wine that’s a good match for most desserts and great with cheese.

Chablis premier cru is classified as higher quality than simple Chablis. The limestone and clay soil has visible fossilised seashells that are believed to produce the unique flinty flavours. The purity of the Chardonnay is maintained by maturing it in stainless steel vats, delivering a tropical palate with a crisp mineral bite on a long finish. Brilliant with shellfish and seafood.

The Romanesque towers in the famed wine village of Chablis.

Armas de Guerra Mencía Now €9, was €11.99

Underwood Pinot Noir Now €15, was €19.99

San Jorge Ribera del Duero Crianza Now €14, was €19.99

Sopra Sasso Amarone Now €20, was €28.99

Don’t be fooled by this wine’s odd looks. It’s made from a grape called Mencía (men-THEE-ah), a red grape that grows on 50-year-old vines and is warmed on the clay-like soil, creating a more concentrated fruit. Cherry red with intense violet hues, it has aromas of red and black fruit with almost balsamic and earthy undertones. But the palate is brilliantly fruity, fresh, floral and harmonious. I love this with party finger foods, easy conversation and gentle quaffing.

A lot of Pinot Noir can be overpriced, but not this one, a fuller-bodied Pinot Noir from Oregon with intense blueberry and raspberry fruit flavours and a bright finish. The wine is made by talented local winemaker Greg Bauer using Pinot Noir grapes sourced mainly from the Umpqua Valley in the south of the state. It’s a great example of quality Pinot Noir, which is why the grape is gaining such international recognition. A great option for roasted game and lamb or even strong-flavoured fish dishes.

The lesser-known Spanish region of Ribera del Duero produces sublime wines from the same grape as Rioja and it’s well worth a look. This indulgent red wine has heady aromas of dark red fruits with spicy nuances. On the palate the fruits are infused with toffee, liquorice and a touch of minerality. The complex flavours are thanks to a 15-month ageing process in French and American oak prior to bottling. Cured meats or tomato-based foods work well here.

Amarone is a powerful wine that comes from the northern region of Veneto in Italy and it always makes a statement. The wine is made from grapes that are dried in the sun to concentrate the flavours by reducing the water content, creating rich, raisin-like grapes. This creates a super-smooth wine with matured black cherry, spice and a touch of liquorice. Truly one of the world’s greatest wines. It will benefit from being decanted for a couple of hours and is great with red meats and hard cheeses.

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