Archive for Top Drop

Great Value Rioja (2)

Great Value Rioja (2)

Rayos Uva 2013, Rioja  –  13%  –  €17


Made by Frenchman Olivier Rivière, who features in my blog this week, this is a delicious pure Rioja, without any of the cheap oak flavours associated with so many of the less expensive wines from this region. Fabulous fragrant fresh red fruits with a real elegance and light tannins. Try it with roast lamb over Easter or with any white meats.

Stockists: Black Pig, Donnybrook; Blackrock Cellar; 64Wine, Glasthule; Sweeneys, Glasnevin; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Ennis (SCR), Clontarf Wines.

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Great Value Rioja (1)

Great Value Rioja (1)

Viña Real Rioja Crianza 2010  –  13.5%  –  €15.95

vinarealplatacriaza08__77950__67210.1407756361.1280.1280Delicious smooth succulent dark cherry fruits with subtle spice. Perfect with lamb and white meats.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I tasted this wine one mid-week evening, even more so when I discovered the price. This really is a great bargain, a lovely elegant wine at a great price. It has a little oak, but as with the Rayos Uva below, it is the pure fruits that shine through.

Stockists: The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Molloy’s Clondalkin; Deveny’s, Rathmines; Egan’s, Portlaoise; Spar, Milltown and


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Semillon 2008, Bethany Wines, Barossa Valley

Semillon 2008, Bethany Wines, Barossa Valley  –  12.5%  –  €15.49

DSCF5284 Jeff Schrapel and daughter Tanya are the fifth and sixth generation of this family to run Bethany wines in the historic Barossa Valley. I have always been a fan of their Semillon, which takes on a lovely character with a few years ageing. This is a delicious complex wine with rounded fresh melon fruits, lime zest, subtle grilled hazelnuts and a dry finish. Perfect with chicken, pork or salmon.

Stockists: O’Briens

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Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2011 Guigal

Côtes du Rhône Rouge Guigal 2011  –  14%  –  €15.99


This was once consumed in vast quantities by most of middle-class Dublin; these days many have now moved on to other wines. I hadn’t tried it for a few years, and was very pleasantly surprised when I opened up a bottle recently. This is a very tasty smooth medium-bodied wine with ripe but savoury black fruits and a touch of spice. The white version, at the same price is also a very decent enjoyable wine.

Stockists: Supervalu, O’Briens and many independents.

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Tramin Pinot Grigio 2013, Alto-Adige Sud-Tirol


Tramin Pinot Grigio 2013, Alto-Adige Sud-Tiro–  13%  –  €15.99 per bottle

The Alto Adige is a wonderful source for clean fresh white wines; we don’t see enough of them in this country. This wine shone in a blind tasting of Pinot Grigio. It is so much better than the standard Veneto versions that clog up most restaurant wine lists. Beautifully balanced, lively and lightly textured, with ginger spice, pears and very good length.

Stockists: Wines on the Green, Dawson St.; McCabes, Blackrock; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellar; Clontarf Wines; Gibneys, Malahide; Jus de Vin, Portmarnock; Martins, Fairview; Nolans, Clontarf; The Vintry, Dublin 6.


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I Moline de Grace Chianti Classico 2010



I Moline de Grace Chianti Classico 2010  –  13.5%  –  € 19.95 per bottle

Chianti is not to everyone’s taste; some are put off by the lifted acidity and savoury bite of Sangiovese. I love it, particularly with red meat and game. This is a lighter version, but with lovely succulent fruit; lively with juicy sour cherries and herbs finishing with some well-judged tannins. Perfect with red or white meats, and very well-priced.

Stockists: Whelehan Wines, Loughlinstown,



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 Wagner-Stempel Rosé 2013, Rheinhessen, Germany


This is a delicious rosé; wonderful subtle red cherry fruits and a lip-smacking dry finish. A mere 12% alcohol and dangerously moreish.

Daniel Wagner-Stempel, who visited Ireland recently, is one of the most highly regarded young wine producers in Germany today. Based in the less-fashionable Rheinhessen region, he fashions a series of exotic, fruit-filled   white and red wines.

Stockists: Wicklow Wine Co.; The Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Searsons, Monkstown.



 Sipp Mack Rosé d’Alsace 2013 13%


In a similar vein to the Wagner-Stempel above, this is a delightful, elegant, fragrant, raspberry-scented rosé with good acidity and a long dry. By the way, Mitchells also have a delicious, more full-bodied Côtes du Rhône rosé  from Domaine Brusset for €15.49.

Alsace tries very hard to make red wine from Pinot Noir. In many cases the wines are little too light and acidic. However, Pinot noir can make excellent rosé and perhaps this is what Alsace should make with this variety.

Stockists: Mitchell & Son, CHQ, IFSC & Glasthule,


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I am just back from a trip to Vienna and therefore full of the joys of Austrian wines. Austria makes some great white wines and increasingly good red wines. As a small country with small producers, it will never produce really cheap wines, but the overall standard is remarkably high. These are two of my all-time favourite Austrian producers.


   Bründlmayer Kamptaler Riesling Terrassen 2013



  Willi Bründlmayer is one of Austria’s greatest winemakers. He produces a string of wines, some very good others brilliant, but always interesting. The Kamptaler Riesling is a wonderful racy wine with lively      refreshing citrus and green fruits and a long dry mineral finish. A perfect aperitif or with all manner of fish, chicken and pork dishes.


Stockists: Greenacres, Wexford





  Moric Blafränksich, Burgenland 2012



This is one of my all-time favourite wines, one that I beg people to try before dismissing Austrian red wines. Made from the local Blaufränkisch grape by one the greatest producers in Austria, this is a deliciously    light piquant elegant wine with clean dark cherry and blueberry fruits. Try it with roast pork or chicken.


Stockists: On The Grapevine, Dalkey (; No. 1 Pery Square, Limerick; Market 57, Westport, Mayo; Cabot & Co. Westport, Mayo (; Morton, Galway; McCambridges, Galway.


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Two Summer Classics

Two lighter fresher wines for this lovely warm sunny weather. Both are well-known names that are under-valued.

 Fleurie Domaine de la Madone 2012 €18.49

I love good Beaujolais but these days the best wines all seem to cost more than €20. I was therefore delighted to come across this delicious Fleurie at such a great price.  It has wonderful fresh aromas and concentrated but light juicy strawberry fruits, with a lip-smacking lingering finish. This is a light wine (13% alcohol and no tannins) so you could drink without food, but I would recommend it with anything porky, especially charcuterie, or chicken. I rarely drink wine during the day, but this would fit into that wonderful category of ‘luncheon wine’.

Stockists: Mitchell & Son, Glasthule, IFSC, Andreson’s Foodhall, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Ch. du Coing de St. Fiacre 2011 Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine €15.35

Yes Muscadet! Those of a certain age will remember how fashionable Muscadet was back in the 1980’s, when it was served at every event. Sadly the quality went downhill and we moved on to Chardonnay and then Sauvignon Blanc. Good Muscadet is one of the most delicious wines, light in alcohol, crisp and dry, with subtle green fruits. I love its purity of flavour and ability to improve with every sip. Drink it as the locals would, with a large bowl of mussels or a plate of fresh Irish oysters. This is the perfect example; light plump green fruits shot through with a zesty lemony acidity.

Stockists: Dicey Reilly Ballyshannon; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Le Caveau, Kilkenny;

World Wide Wine Waterford; Mac Guinness, Dundalk; Baggot Street Wines; Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Fallon and Byrne, Exchequer St.; Listons, Camden St.

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Two great wines last weekend

I‘ve been on a bit of a roll in recent weeks winewise. This is partly the result of my drink less, drink better regime. If I cut out wine three days a week, I am going to make sure I enjoy the remaining few days. The three Rhône Syrahs of last week (see previous blog) was followed by two delicious wines on Saturday night.

We ate a Caesar’s salad followed by crab linguini followed by a few slices of Ossau-Iraty, one of my favourite cheeses, made from sheep’s milk.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling 2012



An award winning wine and deservedly so. Beautiful lifted aromatic nose, wonderful crisp light lime and green apple fruits, perfectly balanced.  Delicious with crab linguini.


Fürst Spätburgunder Tradition 2010, Franken



I bought a few bottles of this, an utterly delicious German Pinot Noir from one of the leading practitioners, Rudolf Fürst. Fragrant nose, soft silky light cherry fruits with good acidity and a seamless finish. Perfect with the cheese and by itself.


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