Ireland’s Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas

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.

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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.”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]DAVID WHELEHANS – DIRECTOR AT WHELEHANS WINES

“Of all the wines that we ship I would adore to drink, the absolute stand out wine would be: Domaine Heitz-Lochardet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Maltroie 2014. This wine typifies all that is great about exceptional white Burgundy and definitively demonstrates why Chardonnay is unequivocally one of the world’s greatest white grapes. Intense, nervy, precise and complete this Chassagne is simply close to perfection.

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]MICK O’CONNELL MW – WINE SOURCING AT WINEMASON

“My Christmas pick would be Niepoort Senior Tawny Port. Christmas cake in a glass – hazelnuts,  raisins, dried figs, cinnamon. Layers of complexity with a delicious balance of sweet and savoury. Perfect Christmas season drink with cheeses or chocolate which is always tough to match! Also, once opened it can stay fresh for several weeks unlike ruby styles which hold more like a wine once open. In my experience, however, the bottle never lasts long enough to put that fully to the test!”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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.”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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.”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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!”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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 VINOSTITOIreland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]

“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.”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]JULIE DUPUOY – 3rd BEST SOMMELIER IN THE WORLD 2016 & OWNER AT DOWN2WINE

“My suggestion for Christmas is Rully ‘En Bas de Vauvry’, Domaine JB Ponsot 2014. I think it’s a real treat for Christmas without breaking the bank. Rully is situated in Cote Chalonnaise and is the appellation with the most potential in this part of Burgundy. Jean Baptiste Ponsot is a rising star. The style is very similar to a Puligny-Montrachet: citrus, white flowers, toast, dried almonds notes on the nose. Elegant, lean, silky with great minerality and purity on the palate.
Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]PADDY MURPHY – CERTIFIED SHERRY EDUCATOR AT THE VINE INSPIRATION
“Christmas invariably involves bubbles and this year I’m going a little leftfield with a bottle of Colet Navazos Extra Brut Reserva. This 100% Chardonnay has been topped up with Manzanilla Pasada in a collaboration between Colet from Penedés and Equipo Navazos in Andalusia. Bone dry, if it whets the appetite for something more traditional, I’ll be turning to Equipo Navazos’ La Bota 60 de Manzanilla Pasada “Bota Punta” alongside some Goatsbridge caviar for my mid-afternoon snack.”
Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]SUSAN BOYLE – OWNER AT BOYLE’S PUB & OFF-LICENCE
“My pick for a wine for Christmas is the delicious Lustau, East India Solera. Sherry is delicious every day of the year but is has a special place in my affections at this time of year. I love it because it hits all the right notes, it is a sweetened oloroso; a blend of 80% Oloroso, giving dept of flavour, and 20% Pedro Ximénez for sweetness. The wines are aged separately, then blended and then spend a further 3 years maturing. A decadent and deeply flavored wine with notes of fig and raisin, toffee and walnuts. It is sweet but not too sweet. Its surprisingly versatile, perfect by the glass or paired with salty cheeses or mince pies.”

Selbach Riesling InclineLIAM CAMPBELL – WINE EDUCATOR AND WRITER AT THETASTE.IE

“It’s going to be one of O’Brien’s bracing and refreshing German Rieslings with a little residual sugar and lower alcohol. The barley sugar-like sweetness is a good contrast to salty nibbles and grazing on the Christmas meal aftermath. Selbach Riesling Incline from Germany’s steeply terraced vineyards on the banks of the River Mosel.  Classically showcasing the Mosel’s delicacy and slatey minerality with all the poise and elegance of a ballerina.  The screwcap closure makes it convenient for regular top-ups and for serving to spontaneous visits from friends and family.  It’s best match is with chili hot vegetarian samosas as an antidote to the protein rich Christmas fare.”
Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]LYNNE COYLE MW – WINE DIRECTOR AT O’BRIENS WINES

“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

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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!”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]MARTIN MORAN MW – WINE WRITER AT SUNDAY TIMES

“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.”

 

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]RICHIE MAGNIER – ‎WINE WRITER AT THE MOTLEY CRU
“I was fortunate enough to have met one of the nicest people in the wine business: Paolo de Marchi of the famous Isole e Olena winery in Tuscany. His Isole e Olena Chardonnay really took me by surprise. Terroirs co-owner Seán Gilley introduced the wine as being akin to Meursault, which was a neat summation of what was a decadently poised, textural and experiential wine. It’s so well balanced, with oak, fruit and minerality all playing their part in equal measure. Good Burgundy-style Chardonnay tends to get overlooked at Christmas – I’d urge anyone to pick up a bottle of the Isole e Olena ‘Collezione Privata’ Chardonnay to help change their minds.”

Ireland's Top Sommeliers and Wine Experts Choose Their Favourite Wine for Christmas [December Edition]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.”

le-versant-pinot-noir-2015MICHAEL 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.”

ARTICLE BY GABY GUEDEZ

Gaby ProfileGabriela’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.

Gabriela Guédez Gabriela Guédez

 

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