The O’Briens wine fair is a twice yearly institution on the Dublin – and now Galway – consumer wine scene. Well over 200 wines are open for tasting from over 20 different producers. There are always too many great wines to pick only a few favourites, so here I have concentrated on those which are on special offer in the month of May.
Weingut Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss 2015 (11.5%, €18.95 down to €14.95)
Austria’s signature grape comes in a multitude of styles, mainly dependent on the type of soil the vines are in. This example from Weingut Rabl (no, don’t you dare call them a rabble!) is from old vines grown in loess, which is a combination of sand and silt with a bit of clay. It is dry and elegant, a perfect introduction to Grüner and its citrus and white pepper characters.
Domaine Chanson Chablis 2013 (12.5%, €24.95 down to €18.95)
I’m generally a fan of Chablis, Burgundy’s northern-most vineyards, though the producer is very important. For some I find it essential to step up to the Premier Cru quality level as the basic wines can be a bit thin and acidic, but this example from Chanson shows that AC Chablis can be really good. It has citrus and minerality which are typical of Chablis but they are joined by toasty notes due to ageing on fine lees.
Delheim Chardonnay Sur Lie 2013 (13.5%, €24.95 down to €21.95 for May)
This is another perennial favourite, an absolutely corking Chardonnay from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Like the richer wines from Burgundy it is matured in oak and on its lees (“sur lie” in French) which are basically spent yeast cells – they add delicious toasty, creamy characters. So much so, in fact, that my tasting note for this wine said “Yummy, yummy, in my tummy”.
Insight Marlborough Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (13.5%, €18.95 down to €12.95 in May)
Insight’s vineyards are in the Waihopai Valley, West-South-West of the Renwick-Blenheim hub of Marlborough. The climate here is slightly cooler than the central Wairau valley, so the wines tend to be slightly racier. This Sauvignon has bright grapefruit and gooseberry notes, backed up by refreshing acidity. A total bargain at €12.95!
Astrolabe Province Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (13.5%, €19.99 down to €14.95 in May)
In contrast, this “Province” Sauvignon Blanc from Astrolabe is a blend of several sub-regions of Marlborough. It’s a long-term favourite of mine but I make no excuse for including the latest vintage – it’s just an excellent wine. Unlike some savvies it doesn’t totally fade after a year or so – I had a 2014 recently that was still delicious – though it’s still good to get the most recent vintage available. This Astrolabe was a little rounder than the Insight, with lime and lemon and even orange notes.
Domaine la Sarabande Misterioso 2014 (13.5%, €16.95 down to €13.95 for May)
From the Languedoc in southern France comes this super blend – a blend in terms of both grapes (Grenache and Syrah) and nationality (the husband and wife team are Australian and Irish). It’s fermented with wild yeast then bottled unfiltered and unfined, meaning it might look very slightly cloudy but will be full of flavour. And flavour it has, lots of juicy strawberry and blackcurrant. Would be great for quaffing at a barbecue!
Bonpas Sieur Alphonse Gigondas 2012 (13.5%, €22.95 down to €19.95)
In the southern Rhône hierarchy Gigondas is generally ranked second only to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but has very little of the latter’s fame, and thankfully not that much of its premium prices. Mainly Grenache with support from Syrah and Mourvèdre, this is thicker and richer than a basic Côtes-du-Rhône, but is still viscous and approachable. With some red and mainly black fruit it has power and finesse, more than a match for many Châteauneufs.
Frankie caught the wine bug living in France in the 90s and has been sharing his love of wine ever since. He also writes for his own blog Frankly Wines, Glass Of Bubbly magazine and he runs private wine tasting events.