Ireland’s top sommeliers and wine experts have the opportunity to taste amazing wines through the year and the knowledge to spot the truly outstanding among them all. And while they recommend bottles you will love practically everyday, this time they’re talking about a very special pick. We asked them what’s their favourite wine for Christmas, that bottle that they’re happy to share with friends and family, and on this holiday special, with you as well.
PHILIP DUNNE – HEAD SOMMELIER AT ASHFORD CASTLE
“My wine choice would be O’Dwyer Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, Australia, 2009 (the current release). This sublime rich, full bodied Cabernet is a product of Irishman Donal O’Dwyer, originally from Tipperary. With its elegant black fruit and smooth tannins, the O’Dwyer Cabernet Sauvignon is a firm favourite of mine – the perfect accompaniment to cheese and a warm crackling fireplace on a winters’ evening.”
DAVID WHELEHANS – DIRECTOR AT WHELEHANS WINES
MICK O’CONNELL MW – WINE SOURCING AT WINEMASON
BARBARA BOYLE MW – WINE BUYING & COMMUNICATIONS AT WINEMASON
“It has to be Riesling. Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Kabinett 2015.
With such an abundance of food, a wine with racy acidity and intense flavours is perfect.
The lower alcohol level is also a bit of a plus.”
CLAIRE O’BOYLE GALLAGER & DAVID GALLAGER – OWNERS AT GREEN MAN WINES
“We have tasted so many great wines over the last year, but one that stands out for sheer exuberant joy and drinkability is Nicolas Reau’s Anjou Rouge ‘Pompois’ 2014. It’s organic, hand harvested, wild yeast fermentation, very low SO2, unfiltered, unfined, so suitable for vegans. Juicy black fruits, woodsmoke and a touch of leather on nose, then mid-weight, supple and fresh with a long, clean, savoury finish. It works well with a variety of foods from turkey to game or beef.”
ENRICO FANTASIA – OWNER GRAPECIRCUS
“I had a love affair with this wine since the early 90s… Sacrisassi Rosso 2010 Le Due Terre, it’s a blend of Schioppettino and Refosco, two indigenous grapes from Friuli, in the north east of Italy. it’s dark, intense and with an incredible elegant structure. Fantastic with a rare loin of venison! It’s made without the use of any chemicals either in the vineyard or the cellar, and only 5,500 bottles produced every year. And last, but not least, it’s made by some amazing people!”
MAGDALENA MOCEK – HEAD SOMMELIER AT BALLYFIN DEMESNE
“My favourite wine for Christmas would be a red wine from Côtes du Rhone, from the Southern Rhône wine region of France, like a Vacqueyras A.O.C. This powerful and elegant red wine is made mainly from the Grenache grape witch gives it a lovely spicy and fruity character and the addition of the Syrah and Mourvèdre grape brings a great structure, vivid tannins, and a gamey or leathery undernote. Perfect for warming anyone on an Irish Winter’s evening. My personal preference right now would be Vacqueyras Cuvée Doucinello, Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux 2013.”
RAFAEL SALAZAR – COFOUNDER AT VINOSTITO
“My choice for a wine for Christmas, -have in mind that I would have more than one!- would be Vina Tondonia Reserva 2004 (or any other good vintage). At home, in Spain I always remember an old vintage Rioja at the table and I like to do the same here as it makes me feel close to home. I like that they are wines that are very complex and at the same time easy to drink. Also, I think that good, traditional oak aged wine matches very well with the classic Irish Christmas dinner, perfect with spiced meats.”
JULIE DUPUOY – 3rd BEST SOMMELIER IN THE WORLD 2016 & OWNER AT DOWN2WINE
LIAM CAMPBELL – WINE EDUCATOR AND WRITER AT THETASTE.IE
“My wine of choice this Christmas would be Beaumont de Crayers Champagne. Champagne turns a simple occasion into something special with just the popping of its cork, it is also an extremely versatile wine over the festivities. Beaumont de Crayers is fresh and crisp with citrus and apple notes and delicious hints of biscuit and brioche – for wicked indulgence have a late breakfast with warm croissants, smoked salmon and Beaumont de Crayer”
IAN BROSNAN – WINE MANAGER AT ELY WINE BAR
“One style of wine which I rarely drink at home is sweet wines, not because I don’t enjoy them (I love them) but it sometimes seems an indulgence too far. But not at Christmas. So, this year, I’m cracking open a bottle of sweet wine that I’ve been holding onto for a while. It’s from Sicily, Ben Ryé Donnafugata. It’s everything you could possibly wish for in a sweet wine- it explodes with flavours of apricot, honey, ginger and exotic spice, with a surprisingly fresh finish. I won’t be having it with cake or pudding, I’ll sit back after dinner and savour every last drop. Looking forward to it already!”
“I like to open presents on Christmas morning with a Buck’s Fizz.
There’s no point in polluting Dom Perignon, so I use a good affordable fizz, Tesco Finest Premier Cru, and use freshly squeezed orange juice.”
JEAN SMULLEN – WINE EVENTS MANAGER
“Condado de Haza Crianza the second label of Pesquera, considered to be the second most important premium wine producer from the Ribera del Duero. This rich red wine has lovely pronounced dark forest floor fruits with a touch of raisin and spice. It’s aged in French oak so it has a tight tannic structure backed by lovely mocha flavours. This is a perfect winter wine for the Christmas season and is a great to match with any sort of game including roast duck or pheasant.”
MICHAEL REDMOND – OWNER AT REDMONDS OF RANELAGH
“I’m going to have a red from France called Le Versant Pinot Noir 2015 Pays d’Oc France with dinner.
It’s made at the oldest co-operative cellar in France.
Its light in colour and has good notes of strawberries and cherry plus a little spice.”
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.