Choosing a Father’s Day wine? Take inspiration from the characteristics that make Dads so special. Strength of character, powerful personality, integrity, sense of fun, versatility, ability to surprise, an unexpected colourful history and much, much more.
A selection of full-bodied and richly flavoured red wines from Southern France, Australia and California below represent many of these characteristics.
Chateauneuf du Pape is three French words that lift many a man’s heart. These wines have a potency of flavour and alcohol. The name translates literally as the “new palace of the Pope”. It references a time 600 years ago when the schism in the Roman Catholic Church resulted in a physical move by the Papacy from Rome to Avignon. Today, the imprint of this historical legacy is literally on the wine bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape: the triple crown of the Pope and the crossed keys insignia of St Peter.
Chateauneuf du Pape is significant in being the first wine region in France to devise an Appellation Controlée in the 1920s. Credit goes to a local aristocrat, Baron le Roy who reflected the growing frustration of the regions’ winemakers dismayed at the poaching of their name by winemakers from other wine regions in France and even outside of France.
The AC Chateauneuf du Pape specified a geographical area around Avignon and listed what grape varieties could be used in the blend. Thirteen in total for the reds of which Grenache and Syrah are the most notable. These are heart-warming wines, powerful and full flavoured by blending the fleshy strawberry character of Grenache with the backbone of the blackberry and tarry personality of the Syrah (aka Shiraz).
Workhorse turned Thoroughbred
For most of the twentieth century, Shiraz was the workhorse grape of the Australian red wine industry. Often used to make Port-like fortified sweet wine. However, a decline in domestic consumption in the 1980s and a swing to a taste internationally for dry but ripe fruity wines opened an opportunity.
Shiraz transformed from sweet, brash brawn to dry, sleek and sinewy. The blackberry fruit flavours and use of oak barrel aging are more restrained in recent vintages to reflect our growing preferences for less-is-more. Australian Shiraz is a constant companion at summer barbecues where the wine reflects the meat’s smoky spicy flavours.
McLaren Vale south of Adelaide enjoys a Mediterranean-like climate with the cooling influence of the nearby sea lengthening the ripening period for more nuances of flavour – typically blackberry, spice, chocolate and liquorice. While northeast of Adelaide, the Barossa Valley’s hot Continental climate produces powerful full-throttle wines with chocolate and spice characteristics.
Big and Bountiful
Zinfandel is the quintessential Californian wine. Its personality is bold and opulent with vibrant black fruit flavours. Alcohol is rarely shy or understated. Tannins are usually restrained making it enjoyable as a drink without requiring a food partner.
While it can be vinified off the black skins and partially fermented as a pale pink, medium sweet wine at 10.5% ABV, labelled as “White Zinfandel”, its dress code is regularly red.
1. Chateauneuf du Pape 2013, Les Trois Couronnes, France 14% ABV
Pure terroir in a glass. An earthy damp bouquet is followed on the palate by flavours of prune trimmed with leather. Bound in a cashmere-like texture, warming and smooth complete the long finish.
Food friend: savour with Szechuan sizzling beef and green peppers.
Buy: €28 at independent off-licences
2. Chateauneuf du Pape 2015 Victor Bernard, France 14% ABV
Rich aromas of red berries, earth and blood sausage. Rounded flavours of the vineyard’s terroir, dark fruits integrated with white pepper unfurl in a long velvety finish.
Food friend: partner with a meaty summer salad of sliced rolled brisket and pickles.
Buy: €25 in Dublin at Martin’s, Fairview; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock and Morton’s, Ranelagh
3. Chateauneuf du Pape 2014, Grande Réserve, Chateau Beauchene, France 14% ABV
A rich meaty and savoury bouquet that contrasts with a fruitier black and red berry palate. Still youthful in its development and demands decanting for a few hours. Silky smooth and seductive.
Food friend: enjoy with beef stew topped with a mash of sweet potatoes and carrots with a little grated orange zest.
Buy: €34.95 at Whelehans Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown
4. Luna Shiraz 2016, Chalk Hill, McLaren Vale, Australia 14% ABV
A meaty black pudding spicy bouquet. Gravelly texture like a two-day stubble. The mid-palate is lifted by black pastille fruit and a mouth-watering juicy finish.
Food friend: try with grilled tuna steaks topped with and fried diced aubergine, tomato and garlic.
Buy: €18.95 at Searson’s, Monkstown and online: searsons.com, La Touche Wines, Greystones and Daly’s, Boyle
5. Jarman Shiraz 2015, Wakefield, Clare Valley & McLaren Valley Australia 14.5% ABV
Muted aromas of red fruits. Utterly delicious. Juicy marriage of elegant, peppery black berry fruits sheathed in silky tannins with a long and harmonious finish.
Food friend: serve with a stew of smoked bacon and white beans in a rich tomato and rosemary sauce.
Buy: €22.49 at independent off-licences
6. Portrait Shiraz 2014, Peter Lehman, Barossa, Australia 14.5% ABV
Subdued woody aromas. A powerful attack of a battering ram of oak on the palate initially yielding to spicy peppery black plum flavours. Smoothly textred.
Food friend: partner with a slow roasted leg of lamb in an oven bag marinated in yoghurt, mint and garlic.
Buy: €20 at in Dublin at Martin’s, Fairview; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock and Morton’s, Ranelagh.
7. Cunning Plan Shiraz, Thistledown, Langhorne Creek, Australia 14% ABV
Richly scented with freshly roasted coffee and mocha aromas. Supple and mellow on the taste buds. Ripe opulent core of black fruits and topped with a bitter chocolate finish.
Food friend: share with fried steak strips tossed in a soy and barbecue sauce served on a nest of noodles.
Buy: €19.99 in Dublin at Red Island Wines, Skerries and McHugh’s, Kilbarrack and Malahide roads
8. Zinfandel 2015, Heritage Collection, De Loach, California 13.5% ABV
An earthy bouquet contrasts with a bountiful palate of bright red fruits and refreshing raspberry acidity. Its restraint due to its French owners. Elegant, medium-bodied and a juicy finish.
Food friend: echo the earthiness with a match of corned beef with honey-glazed carrots and ground coriander seeds.
Buy: €21.99 in Dublin at Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellar; Clontarf Wines; Fresh; Grapevine, Dalkey; Power & Co., Lucan; Red Island Wines, Skerries and Searson’s, Monkstown. Egan’s Food & Wine, Portlaoise; J.J. O’Driscoll Superstore, Cork; Myles Creek, Kilkee and WineOnline.ie
9. Zinfandel 2014, Vintner’s Reserve, Kendall-Jackson, California 14.5% ABV
Subtle peppery oak cask aromas. Still very early in its development with the barrel aging dominant on the palate, like an oak craft sailing on a dark brooding sea.
Food friend: requires a simple rich dark meat. Try duck breast wrapped with smoked rashers and roasted together with plums.
Buy: €23.95 during June at O’Brien’s nationwide
10. Zinfandel 2014, Cline, Lodi, California 14% ABV
Rich, savoury meaty pork aromas. Delicious with silky tannins. A seductive lingerie of a wine. Revealing enough to excite interest and enhanced by flavours of juicy fruit.
Food friend: marry with a venison and juniper berry stew enriched with red wine and a teaspoon of cocoa powder.
Buy: €21.95 at Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Lilac Wines, 117 Philipsburgh Avenue, Drumcondra; Blackrock Cellars and online jnwine.com
11. Santa Rita Limited Release Rosé 2017, Valle Centrale, Chile 12.5% ABV
Anticipating a summer heatwave. While technically not a red wine but made as a rosé with partial skin contact from Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Syrah. Faintly fragrant but saving its concentration for the palate. Bone dry entry of tart raspberry fruits, riper red fruity flavours evolve on the mid-palate and a refreshing grapefruit zesty finish. Light-bodied but intense and masculine.
Food friend: a brilliant versatile non-vegetarian summer salads wine, for party nibbles or sipping solo.
Buy: €12.50 at Tesco and SuperValu nationwide
Liam Campbell is one of Ireland’s most experienced wine writers. His work has been featured in the pages of numerous publications, most recently as the Wine & Drinks Editor for The Irish Independent, as well as in Irish Homes, Easy Food and The Dubliner magazines.
Besides writing, his involvement in the world of wine goes deeper: he’s an approved WSET educator and holder of a WSET Diploma, Diploma in Craft Beer & Cider, and he has worked as judge in international wine competitions and as a wine consultant.