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Chocoholic Pinotage





The South African signature grape – Pinotage. A cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. The idea was to create a grape with beautiful Pinot flavour whilst making it hardy and fast growing like Cinsault (hermitage) as it’s known in South Africa hence the name.

It’s usually a love it or hate it kind of grape and doesn’t float everyone’s boat with bad quality Pinotage displaying acetone notes. I haven’t had Pinotage in a while but this label was harassing me in the shop so I had to pick up a bottle.
I was thinking the label was more marketing than the reality but there is certainly vanilla, marshmallow and chocolate with notes with banana. Underneath the banoffee nose is good solid red fruit. Full bodied, nice tannic structure, perfect acidity to alleviate the weight of the chocolate impression. Notes of coffee on the finish. 
Not your average glass of red, but it’s nice to mix it up a bit. Yes I’m a sucker for marketing but this one paid off and I’ll do it again!
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Groiss Gruner Veltliner 

Producer: Ingrid Groiss 

Groiss Gruner Veltliner 



Green apples and peaches on the nose.

On tasting there’s a slight spritz in the wine and my mouth is watering with tangy juicy fruits of pineapple and steely citrus, some saltiness with chalk and nut elements.
Sherbet and white pepper bite with a refreshing grapefruit/lime tang on the long finish… Mouth still watering.
Dry wine, no oak, light to medium bodied with piercing acidity- would pair well with Asian, pork and seafood dishes. Or enjoy it by itself and appreciate every single flavour in this wine.
So good you’ll be licking the drips from the end of your glass.
Bought in Probus Wines on Fenian Street Dublin 2
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The Ginger Man

As if any Dublin pub needs to be promoted in the run up to St. Patrick’s day, but here’s one that I had to mention just because it’s a little bit different. The Ginger Man on Fenian Street is a traditional Irish bar with a hint of 50’s diner thrown in with an upstairs like something out of The Quiet Man. See for yourself… 

The upstairs, like a little street in Connemara 









  

The food is traditional pub grub and the crowd is a mix of tourists, students and office workers in the area. Great beers and father Ted type  surroundings. You have to love this place. 

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Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2012

This old vine zin from Lodi California (known as the Zinfandel capital of the world) is fantastic value, retailing here at €12. Bought in McHughs off licence. It’s difficult to find american wines on our shelves apart from the big brand generic ones. You know who they are.

Zinfandel, grown in America and Primitivo, grown in Italy are actually the same grape variety. Ravenswood winemaker Joel Patterson, with a love for old world wines, wanted to keep this wine close to its European roots and use only french oak, shunning American as “the first planters in Sonoma California were Italian” ahh romanticism vinified.

Ravenswoods ‘no wimpy wine’ motto is indeed upheld with this punchy full bodied wine. What I like most about it is that I can quite happily sip on it without needing food. Yes it’s a robust wine not to mention the 14.5% alcohol so go easy, but it’s full of lifted black cherries, juicy blueberries on a bed of vanilla and mocha with a mild spice aftertaste, which takes nothing away from the smooth silkiness that lingers on the palate. Sometimes it’s good to appreciate bold flavours and a full body alone.

If you would rather have this wine with food, suggested pairings have been blackened steaks, BBQ, Italian meatballs and tomato based dishes.

Either way … Enjoy!

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The Pembroke

Not that I don’t love Dublin, because I do, I really and truly do. But
it was another grey, cold, windy, rainy day and dreariness had set in. Have you ever felt, when you’re walking in Dublin city that you instantly need to be somewhere else, warm and drinking (that just me?) ok…
Coffee then, but please without the bright lights, the restless babies and harsh wooden seats of a café. Sometimes the hustle and bustle is just too much to handle when you’re feeling delicate or just want your surroundings to give you a big fat hug.

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This scenario has happened upon me more often than not and I always find myself looking for somewhere I can just stop into that’s warm and snug and can fix me right up with a stiff drink or a proper coffee.

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Alas my friends, I have found such a place on Pembroke Street. The Pembroke is both glamorous and quirky but most importantly cosy. As we entered there was some chilled out music in the background. I was in a more Ella Fitzgerald kinda mood that day but that’s my high maintenance self talking. Ignore her, she’s drunk!

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Thankful to be in from the cold, myself and my leave me never friend sat near the window, overlooking the historic Georgian quarter and ordered a couple of coffees, which came in some cutsie little cups. The grey misery of outside began to take a step back.

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The absolutely fabulous thing about this new gastro bar is that it’s open from 8am! Yes sir, why wouldn’t you grab your coffee and croissant and read your paper here or go over your emails before work. Pretend for half an hour that the office doesn’t exist.

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We had already eaten, annoyingly but I
did read over the menu. One of the salads got my stomach thinking. Warm spicy chicken, avocado, rocket, red roasted pepper, onion jam and lime crème fraiche. And for the vegemetarians! grilled soft goats cheese, roasted veg, beetroot, seeds and basil pesto. I could do both of them! There was also a mention of tapas on Wednesdays.

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For desserts I did a double take on a caramel and malteser Eton mess…
come on! Lots more to choose from but these offerings had spoken to me in an inappropriate manner!

As you know I am a passionate lover of all things alcoholic and their cocktail list made me feel quite satisfied in a warm and getting warmer kind of way. All the classics are here, however as it’s just after Christmas, for some reason I was feeling either I hadn’t had enough unctuous liquor or was at this point highly addicted, so it was, these three seductive concoctions got all my attention:

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Espresso martini – Vodka, freshly brewed espresso, Kahlua and baileys,
“benefits of coffee with even better benefits of alcohol” – here here!

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White Russian – Big Lebowski special, how can you not feel happy
drinking this. Vanilla vodka, hazelnut liqueur, milk and white chocolate. Thinkin bout that rug that really tied the room together… No? Just me again…?

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Amber Spyglass – Hennessy, bison grass vodka, apple juice, angostura
bitters and cinnamon. “Perfect winter warmer” warm me all over baby.

It’s the kind of convenient, welcoming (great staff, no matter how early), and cosy kind of place I’ve been looking for for quite a while. Great quality coffees, appetizing lunches, after work drinks or just that perfect stop off while traipsing around town. It’s situated right above Dax restaurant so perfect for before or after dinner drinks too.

IMG_9189This place feels like one of those best kept secrets so get there before the masses but the table beside the fire belongs to me…

No. 23 Pembroke Street Upper. Follow them on Facebook for more info.

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Portuguese Pair

Try not to overlook or underestimate Portuguese wine. These two beauties were bought in Sweeneys off licence in Glasnevin. Priced at €16/15.

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Lasso: from Lisboa. Touriga Nacional is the grape variety. Appropriate orange like fruit aromas for the season. Some floral and herbaceous notes underneath. Light bodied with red fruits and spice on the palate. Incredibly smooth with great acidity. Be careful to not drink too fast. (Goes down very easy!) Savour and enjoy.

Sobro: From Alentejo. Arogonez, Alicante Bouschet, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are the grape varieties. Aged in french and american oak for 3 months, cedar and spice on the palate match with big black fruit. Full bodied with firm tannins. Great with food but be careful not to overpower the wine. Quite the little star by itself.

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Rhône It

It was Rhône Wine Week earlier this month and the big Rhône tasting was held in the gorgeous Ely wine bar.

So many gorgeous wines to try with so many producers and importers. The team behind this event is Tyrrell & Co. Ltd. You can find them on the winestore.ie They specialise in wines from the Rhône valley but also have wines from the rest of France and Spain. I have always been a huge fan of Northern Rhône wines and if you are ever looking for great examples from this region then get on to their website, they offer some absolutely fantastic bottles.

If you like your wines and are looking for something to knock your socks off this Christmas or looking to find the perfect bottle for that special wine lover in your life look no further..

My top two on the night came from Tyrell & Co. They were also from the same producer –

Domaine M. Et S. Ogier d’Ampuis (Northern Rhône)

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Viognier ‘La Rosine’ 2012 €30
Made with 100% Viognier. 2/3 barrel fermentation. On tasting this white wine I had one of those outer body experiences. Ok maybe a bit dramatic but it certainly gave me a few moments of absolute pleasure. All of a sudden there was no one in the crowded room just me and this wine!… Great minerality on the nose, didn’t expect such vibrant fruits on tasting. I felt I was was enveloped in a bubble of pineapple, citrus, apricots and melon. Medium bodied with a honey ladened mouthfeel. Luscious wine. Definitely on my Christmas list.

Côte-Rotie 2010, Domaine M. Et S. Ogier d’Ampuis €70

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Yes this is a bit pricey but the wine lover in your life would want it! This fantastic wine delivers fruit flavours of blackberries, cherries and raspberries with some woodland earthy influence. Quite an evocative taste. It almost takes me to a fairytale scene… A waft of country smoke from a little cottage chimney in the middle of a damp pine forest at dusk (if you will) … Imagine how that would taste in a glass with a touch of black pepper and sweet oak. Though it gives the impression of quite an intense bold wine, there is so much elegance and charm. It has a long, rich finish and although it is heavenly drinking now, it will age well for a few years yet.

This Christmas I will be raising a glass to Michel & Stephane Ogier… Cheers!

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James Nicholson ChristmasWine Tasting

Held in the beautiful Merrion Hotel, a couple of weeks ago James Nicholson brought 15 of his winemakers/winery reps to showcase some of the fantasic wines they have to offer. James Nicholson wine merchants is located in Co. Down but wines can of course be bought online at jnwine.ie

Here are a few of the wines that really stood out for me:

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Quinta Soalheiro, Alvarinho Reserve 2012. €31.45

This gorgeous white wine from sunny Portugal is full of rich stone fruit, zesty lime, honey and a creamy mouth feel. Delivering fresh fruit forward wine with a luscious palate. Imagine an apricot/lemon cheesecake! Oh my mouth is watering…

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Loosen Estate, Villa Wolf Pinot Noir 2012. €16.50

Loosen Estate from Germany for me, was the highlight of the night. Their Villa Wolf Pinot Noir was a nice surprise. Maybe a little on the feminine side but certainly made an impression. The kind of wine that your mouth remembers for a full week afterwards. Medium bodied with demure cherry character enveloped by caramel and butterscotch notes most likely due to its barique ageing. This pinot although not completely typical was a pleasure to drink and one that I will look forward to again.

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Nino Franco, Posecco Rustico N.V. €27.50

I’ve never been much of a Prosecco fan as I remember a couple of bad headaches the day after especially a certain new years eve! but lets not go there. Upon meeting the lovely Federica from Nino Franco, she informed me that most Irish people do not like Prosecco as the bottles sold here are bad quality hence the next day head throbbing. On tasting their Prosecco Rustico non vintage, I was surprised as It wasn’t the usual Prosecco taste im sure we have all become accustomed to. It wasn’t harshly drying and didn’t taste like stainless steel . It was almost comforting, with fine effervescent bubbles and an almost meaty hops flavour. I wasn’t sure if I was a fan at first, but since then it has won me over. Federica advised us that it was more of a food wine and could be drank throughout the meal as bubbles go with all food types. This is very true! Think of Christmas dinner. I can taste the combinations already. There was talk of a Nino Franco Prosecco wine pairing dinner next year. Looking forward to it already.

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Dog Point Pinot Noir 2010 €37.50

From New Zealand, comes an intriguing Pinot Noir, on the nose it smells like anything but. I was sniffing for that familiar cherry, strawberry, blueberry character, but what I got from this wine was cloves, geranium and cinnamon. Very interested, I tasted.. and found that familiar cherry, blueberry pinot pleasure with spiced oak and a touch of minerality. Complex and structured. Medium tannins and long finish. Certainly one to try.

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Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2009. €46.99

Gusbourne of England brought us a bit of bubbly. I hadn’t tasted English bubbly before and was a little excited about their wines. What really shone for me was their Blanc de Blancs. I know we all tend to go for the generic Champagnes for special occasions but I think opening a bottle of this makes any occasion special. The quality of this wine is right up there with the top Champagne houses. Made from 100% Chardonnay it delivers fresh apple and citrus flavours with some butter, praline and mineral notes topped off with a delicate mousse. Perfect with seafood starters on Christmas day. Or with anything any other day! Hopefully we can start growing our own here soon, who’s moving with me to Wexford!

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Domaine Saint Rose Barrel Selection Roussanne 2013 €19.99

I had heard from another girl at the tasting that this particular wine was enough to turn a red wine drinker to whites. So if you are not a fan of white wine then take the Barrel Selection Roussanne test! From the Languedoc in France, comes this luxurious full bodied wine. Melon and spiced apricot fruit with vanilla and hazelnuts, creamy mouthfeel and a long rich finish. I’m drooling…

For all of these fabulous wines and more log on to jnwines.ie

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Thinking Bordeaux for Christmas?

I usually steer clear of mid priced Bordeaux as they tend to be meh.. Especially from supermarkets.

However I happened upon a lovely little bottle from the Graves region located on the left bank of Bordeaux where our big bodied, bold, blackcurrant style Cabernet Sauvignon grape plays the dominant role as opposed to the right bank in Bordeaux where the more feminine plum-like Merlot takes centre stage.

Multi award winning Château Tourteau Chollet 2010. 14.5% alc. has impressed me. Sumptuous creamy mocha with chestnuts on the nose reminiscent of comforting Christmas perfume. Bursting with red fruit, vanilla, dusty toasted oak, rum raisin chocolate, tar and earthy forest floor on the palate. Has the faintest spritz, great palate cleansing acidity and firm tannins. Great with big meat dishes or full flavoured cheeses.
Can’t say enough about this €12 !! Bordeaux .. Would be a perfect match for Christmas dinner especially with the stuffing, Turkey or vegetarian. Where can you get it.. @lidl of course 😉

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Tescos Christmas Wine Tasting

Tescos have a large range of wines on offer this Christmas. Most within budget. Along with all the usual classics like Sancerre and Chateauneuf Du Pape, I came across a few at their recent tasting that are definitely worth a mention especially if you are not sure on what to go for this festive season or want something a little different.

Picture it.. Christmas Day, 2 o clock, full house, kids running around, dinner almost ready, presents everywhere.. What’s the first thing you would like to be handed .. Bubbly!

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Tescos finest* Prosecco from Veneto Italy. Made from 100% Glera grapes 11.5% alcohol €17.99. One of the nicest Proseccos I have had in a while. Fresh floral notes on the nose followed by beautiful refreshing pear on the palate. Suitable for vegetarians.

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Or you can be that bit more extravagant and go for tescos finest* vintage Champagne made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. 12.5% alcohol, priced at €32. Vintage Champagnes are only produced in great years using the best quality grapes. This Champagne is dry and full bodied with minerality, complexity and elegance. Suitable for vegetarians.
Both work perfectly as aperitifs and a great accompaniment to hors d’œuvre

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Tescos finest* Albariño
Bodega Martin Codax 12.5% alcohol, priced at €12:99 made with 100% Albariño grapes. Crisp, clean, with plenty of peach and apricot fruit. Suitable for vegetarians. Perfect for light starter courses.

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Swingbridge Margaret River Chardonnay. 14% alcohol, priced at €10. Made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. Displaying stone fruit, hazelnuts and citrus notes on the palate with a creamy mouthfeel and crisp finish. This wine could easily carry the White wine drinker through Christmas dinner.

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From Australia we got good ol’ Jacobs Creek. This is a first release of their Sangiovese. 14.2% in alcohol and priced at €11.99. Medium bodied with lifted red cherry notes, savoury towards the end with some smokiness. Great food wine.

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From Spain, Maximo Limitada 100% Tempranillo priced at €10 and 13.5% alcohol. Alluring, deep, full of rich red berries wrapped up in vanilla and caramel notes with a long finish.

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DaDa Fincas Las Moras from Mendoza in Argentina. Made from Malbec and Bonarda grapes. 12.9% in alcohol and priced at €12 medium bodied off dry style tonnes of vanilla and red fruits.

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Terrunyo Carmenere from Chile. 14% alcohol priced at €19.99. This is more of a serious wine with great structure. Masculine, with dark fruits, earthiness and coffee. Long finish.

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Spier Vintage selection Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa. Priced at €13 with 13.5% alcohol. This is a lovely wine showing lots of red and black fruit, oak influence and dark chocolate. Chewy tannins and great structure. Big food wine.

A couple of interesting wines that stuck with me after the tasting:

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Palais Des Ancien Gaillac Perle White
From Cave de Labastide. Made from Loin de l’oeil, Mauzac and Sauvignon Blanc. 12% in alcohol and costs €9. Its got gooseberry, green apple and citrus flavours with an almost salty crisp clean finish. What’s more it’s got spritz! Definitely a palate cleanser either way!:)

For the chocolate lover in all of us, I present you with Dark Horse Chardonnay and Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon from E & J Gallo. Yes good ol’ Gallo. These are big bold American wines, less about sophistication and more about flavour.

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I’ve never tasted a Chardonnay quite like this. Completing malolactic fermentation and lees ageing for 6 months this wine is smooth with a creamy mouthfeel full of toffee apples, brown sugar, caramel, nutmeg and butterscotch. It’s like deconstructed white chocolate in a wine bottle.

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Their Cabernet Sauvignon equally as unctuous is full of black cherries, mocha, vanilla and slight coffee notes. If you have ever been trying to convert that one friend to wine.. These American offerings might be worth a go. If not .. Christmas cocktails coming soon;)