Archive for Top Drop

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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Crozes-Hermitage 2005 Alain Graillot

St. Joseph ‘Les Royes’1999 Domaine Courbis

Syrah ‘Sensation du Nord’ 2009 Patrick & Christophe Bonnefond

Over the August bank holiday weekend, I sipped my way through three delicious light elegant Syrahs from the Northern Rhône.  Over the last few years, probably only Pinot Noir has given me more pleasure than wines from this region. Most have a seductive delicacy and finesse combined with light alcohol and a savoury edge.

Bangs per buck Alain Graillot’s red Crozes Hermitage must be one of the best value wines in the market. Both red and white sell for under €30, and both are accessible young but with an ability to age – a wonderful combination. The red is never big nor alcoholic winning you over with its subtle charms. I have drunk many vintages and rarely been disappointed. This was a bottle of 2005, given to me by a friend. It was great wine; light elegant with slightly pithy dark cherry fruits, some liquorice and a pleasing underlying earthiness. The finish was silky smooth. I savoured it over three days and it was as good the third day as the first.

The Saint Joseph 1999 Courbis was another gift, originally cellared in one of the Oxbridge colleges. 1999 was a great year in the northern Rhône. The wine did not have quite the elegance of the Graillot, but had lovely developed medium-bodied savoury dark fruits and very good length. Really delicious wine.

The third wine was a 2009 Vin de pays des collines Rhodanniennes Syrah from Christophe Bonnefond, one of the up-and-coming producers in Côte Rotie. This was made from young vines I think. It was very good, lighter than the others but with lovely purity of fruit.  There was a little new oak on the finish in particular, but it never overshadowed the smooth fresh ripe dark fruits. It sells for just under €20. Mine came from Jus de Vine in Portmarnock.

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From Terroirs in Donnybrook one of the few French Basque wines available in this country; both Wines on the Green and 64wine have Txacoli, the white Spanish Basque wine. Arretxea are the leading estate in the region and the wine was very good, especially with meatballs in a mushroom sauce. It sells for €19.50 and is pretty good value at that.

This was very good although ripe and richer than I had anticipated; great colour, ripe dark fruit on the nose, soft rounded forest fruits on the palate with a little spice and a smooth finish. It has some of the structure you would expect of Iroulégy, but the tannins are ripe and well integrated.


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Birthday Wines

Yesterday was my birthday, so I opened up a couple of bottles from the cellar. Two delicious wines and one disappointment.

Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling 2001 (half-bottle)


€19.99 for a ½ bottle

This is one of my favourite white wines, so I couldn’t resist buying a ½ bottle when I came across it in Greenacres in Wexford a year or two ago. Sadly the wine was completely oxidized, and undrinkable.


Gevrey-Chambertin 2006 Domaine Arlaud


This came from the Wicklow Wine Company a few years back. Arlaud do not appear in the list of superstars of Burgundy, but I have always found the wines to be very good. The Gevrey was no exception; a lovely mature wine with soft dark cherry fruits, just the right amount of acidity and a pretty decent finish too. 15/20

Bought from, who list the current vintage for around

Crozes-Hermitage ‘Le Rouvre’ 2005 Domaine Yann Chave


I bought a half dozen bottles of this about five years ago, as part of my plan to buy more medium-priced wines that will improve for a few years. This was excellent, one of those wines that grows in stature throughout the evening. It had wonderful soft savoury dark fruits and very good length, with some dry tannins on the finish. I suspect it will improve further for another year or two. 16.5/20

Bought from a source of all things great from the Rhône. They are currently offering the Chave basic Hermitage 2011 for €25.


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A Tale of Two Burgundies

A tale of two Burgundies

Inspired by a trip toGermanytasting Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), I cracked open two bottles of redBurgundyfor dinner. The first was a recent purchase from the 2010 vintage, the second an elderly bottle from the cellar.

 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Aux Beaux Bruns 1993, Domaine Barthod


I bought six bottles of this back in the mid-90s. Having had a brilliant bottle last year, I had high hopes, which seemed dashed when I first tasted this one; quite light and acidic, seemingly past its prime. However after ten minutes it opened out into a beautiful elegant wine with delicate silky-soft red fruits and a pleasing freshness. Great wine. As far as I know, Barthod is imported by le Caveau ( and Nomad Wines.


Bourgogne Rouge 2010 Domaine Guillot-Broux


I really enjoyed my visit to this estate, high up in the hills of Mâcon. Emmanuel Gillot-Broux is a talented and thoughtful man making some lovely sappy light reds, and rich mineral ageworthy whites. As featured in the Times, this is a lovely fresh wine with redcurrants and summer fruits. I can see it improving further over the next year. From Cabot & Co,Westportand On the Grapevine, Dalkey for around €20.

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