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O'Briens Wine by Lorcan O'brien - 4d ago

With the great review for our Sicilian Nero Oro Appassimento by James Martin and Oz Clarke on ITV's Saturday Kitchen last week I have been spurned on to show some of the terrific reviews we received closer to home recently.

We are lucky to have a great set of wine critics in Ireland but we don't all get a chance to see every review, so here is a snapshot of the O'Briens wines recently recommended in Irish newspapers.

Irish Winemakers

Although we don't have the climate to commercially produce wine in Ireland, there are historic Irish wine families embedded in some of the most famous wine regions in the world: Bordeaux springs to mind with, among others, the prestigious Barton and Lynch families making excellent wines there:

Michel Lynch Bordeaux Blanc 2017, Maureen O’Hara Irish Daily Star 16/03/2019: “Crisp, dry, lightly floral, with subtle citrus and grassy/dill-like notes.”

Château Mauvesin Barton 2014, Maureen O’Hara Irish Daily Star 16/03/2019: “Drinking well now. Black cherry and slightly dried currants, toasty, earthy and beautifully savoury, with a dry finish- perfect for roast lamb.”

(SNEAK PEEK! The Château Mauvesin Barton will be reduced in our Bordeaux Wine Parcel sale that starts next week. )

In more recent times Irish winemakers have been carving a name for themselves in the world of wine and some of these hard working people got some well-deserved attention over the past couple weeks in the run up to our National Holiday.

Les Auzines Hauts Terres Rouge €12.95 (down from €14.95)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

This superb organic Languedoc made by Dublin native, Neasa and her French husband Laurent Miquel, got an unprecedented three press reviews last weekend alone.

Corinna Hardgrave, The Irish Independent 16/03/2019: “In the Languedoc, Foxrock native Neasa Corish and husband Laurent Miquel run an organic vineyard and this Carignan, Grenache and Syrah blend has lush ripe red fruit with a touch of wild herbs.”

John Wilson, The Irish Times 16/03/2019: “Lightly tannic with warming, rounded red fruits. Perfect with shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, or bacon and cabbage.”

Matthew Nugent, The Irish Sun 16/03/2019: “Languedoc winemaker Laurent Miquel will admit his success has been a team effort- with his Dublin wife Neasa Corish. One of their most popular wines in Ireland is their Terres Rouge- a heady blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah with silky tannins. Enjoy with: Roast duck.”

Les Beauchamps Syrah €10 (down from €14.95)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Neasa and Laurent also make this excellent value, silky Languedoc. Unoaked and bursting with bright bramble fruit flavours.

Tom Doorley, Irish Daily Mail 09/03/2019: “With a fiver off during March, this chunky southern French Syrah is a snip. Ripe blackberry and spice. Made by Laurent Miquel and his Irish wife, Neasa.”

Teac Mor Pinot Noir €39.95

A bit further afield the Moore family, originally from County Galway are producing premium Burgundian varietal wines in the cool climate Russian River Valley in California.

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Matthew Nugent, The Irish Sun 16/03/2019: “The Moore family, originally from Leitra, Co Galway, have built a reputation for the wines crafted at their cool climate Russian River Valley estate in California. This savoury, well- balanced Pinot Noir has lots of crushed red fruit flavours, refreshing acidity and fine tannins. Enjoy with: Braised lamb shanks.”

Final Call for Winter Reds Promo

This is the final week of the O'Briens Winter Reds deal: this 'Buy One Get One Half Price' promotion is a range of excellent red wines hand picked by our wine team. They have proved very popular with both our customers and the Irish wine press alike. Here's a sample of what the press have been saying about this selection of wines.

Norton Porteño Malbec €14.95 (Buy One Get One Half Price)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Leslie Williams, Irish Examiner 09/03/2019: "This is part of the wines in the O'Briens 'buy 1 get 2nd half price' sale that is on for the month of March. Norton are a really solid producer and this is a fine expression of Malbec with no oak, just dark juicy fruits- perfect for a roast or even the barbecue if you are feeling brave. Norton's Barrel Select Malbec is also on offer should you prefer some oak."

St Hallett Gamekeeper's Shiraz Grenache Touriga €19.95 (Buy One Get One Half Price)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

This delicious unoaked Barossa is an unusual blend that includes the Portuguese grape variety, Touriga Nacional. And it works wonderfully- fragrant and floral fresh.

Leslie Williams, Irish Examiner 09/03/2019: "This is new to O'Briens and is part of their 'buy one, get the second at half price' offers this month. I've long been a fan of St Hallett, their Old Block Shiraz is outstanding (€60), so it is great their wines are available again. This is bright and juicy with mainly red fruits at first and darker fruits on the finish, textured, supple and moreish."

John Wilson, Wilson On WIne 2019: "Big, powerful, warming, meaty, ripe red fruits with a touch of spice. A great winter warmer or barbecue wine."

Gérard Bertrand H de l'Hospitalet Malbec €13.95 (Buy One Get One Half Price)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Leslie Williams, Irish Examiner 09/03/2019: "Another wine from O'Briens 'buy 1 get 2nd half price' sale- one of a few from Gérard Bertrand on offer this month. I like Bertrand's wines a lot and although this is entry level it still packs in lots of ripe fruity flavours, red fruits at first with darker fruits on the finish."

There are plenty more fantastic wines on promotion in store now, so head down to your local O'Briens where our friendly and enthusiastic staff will happily help you pick out that perfect bottle.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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O'Briens Wine by Lorcan O'brien - 1w ago

Last Saturday our Wine Director and Master of Wine Lynne Coyle was a guest on Virgin Media's Weekend AM. She presented a trio of Mediterranean wines and the Torres de-alcoholised Muscat. We were pre-recording in their studios at 07.30am due to the live rugby coverage but that is no hardship when we got to taste such a delicious lineup of vino! 

Lynne Coyle MW talking through O'Briens fantastico Italian wines on Weekend AM - YouTube

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €24.95

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Coming from the island of Santorini this made is made with Greece's premier white grape variety, Assyrtiko. It is fermented using wild and native yeasts that are present in the vineyard and the winery to give it an usual yeasty complexity. Some of the wine is fermented in oak and acacia barrels to add a subtle toasty and textured complexity to the wine. Mineral and preserved lemon citrus fruit notes before a long satisfying finish. This would pair wonderfully with fresh grilled fish.

Les Beauchamps Syrah €10 (down from €14.95)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

This superb Syrah is produced by Laurent Miquel and his Irish wife Neasa. It perfectly reflects the sun-drenched terroir of the Languedoc with a super-smooth palate and jam-packed with ripe bramble fruit and hint of spice, it is equally good with or without food.

Luna Argenta Appassimento €12.95 (down from €18.95)

Southern Italian Sunshine in a Glass

Coming from the hot southern Italian Puglia region this wine is made from partially-dried (Appassite) Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes. Intense aromas of crushed blackberry and cherry with notes of vanilla and cinnamon spice that follows through to the palate along with hints of sweet mocha/chocolate. A deliciously more-ish and decadent wine.

This superb wine is part of our Italian Wine sale that runs until Monday 18th March. With 20-40% Off our Italian range there is some great value to be found in-store.

Torres Natureo Blanco €7.95

Torres De-Alcoholised Muscat

With an ABV of under 0.5%, this is the best de-alcoholised wine on the market at the moment. This smells and tastes like good white wine and has all the positive attributes we look for. It lacks only alcohol. Very aromatic with ripe white peach, floral character and a lively grapiness from the Muscat. We are very impressed!

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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O'Briens Wine by Lorcan O'brien - 1w ago

Cortese estate, Sicily

With the O'Briens Italian Wine Sale continuing until 18th March there is at least 20% off all Italian wines. This offers the perfect opportunity to explore some of the lesser-known regions of the largest wine producing country in the world for the past two years. This week I will look at some of the exciting wines coming out of one of the great cultural crossroads of the world: Sicily.

As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has proved a vital strategic location throughout history and has been invaded and settled by most of the powerful Mediterranean cultures from Phoenicians and Romans to Byzantines and Arabs. The legacy of three millennia of conquest and immigration is a unique cultural legacy on Sicily, complete with a vibrant food and wine tradition.

Sicily's Topography & Climate

The island of Sicily is dominated by the influence of Mount Etna: one of the most active volcanoes in the world and the largest in Europe outside the Caucasus. Its frequent eruptions have created a unique dark, rich volcanic soil in the eastern part of the island, ideal for viticulture. The Hyblaean mountains dominate the southern portion of the island, whilst the vineyards to the west of the island follow the hilly coastline- it is from here we get the famous fortified Marsala wine.

Sicily has a classic Mediterranean climate- long hot dry summers with ample sunshine, followed by short, wet, moderate winters. These perfect growing conditions have seen grapes cultivated on Sicily since the ancient Phoenicians brought vines to the island.

The heat and low rainfall mean there is very little risk of mildew and rot on the island, facilitating an increasing number of organically certified vineyards. During the summer the scorching Sirocco winds can blow up from Africa to bake the island. To help moderate this heat many of the best vineyard sites are planted at altitude.

Grapes in Sicily

Harvest at Cortese estate, Sicily

There is archaeological evidence that shows Sicilians drinking wine as far back as the 17th BC and today Sicily is the second largest wine producing region in Italy with a whopping 330,000 acres under vine (roughly the same as all of South Africa), producing over 800 million litres of wine per year!

With this long tradition, varied terroir and huge output it is unsurprising that Sicily has a wide variety of grape varieties growing across the island. Alongside international varieties such as Chardonnay, Syrah and Grenache there are numerous native varieties that are garnering international recognition for Sicilian wines. Amongst these are Nero d'Avola, Nerello Mascalese and Perricone for red wines, Carricante, Catararatto and Grillo for white wines.

Sicilian Wines in O'Briens

It would be hard to include a list of Sicilian wines without including Nero d'Avola, which has been cultivated on the island for centuries. It is the most widely planted red grape variety and accounts for about 20% of all vineyards on the island. For much of its history Nero d'Avola was used as a blending variety but there has been recent growing interest in single-variety wines produced from the grape.

In youth it is vibrant and plummy, while more complex examples offer chocolate and dark raspberry flavours. The best wines tend to be grown at higher elevations where the cooler temperature will moderate alcohol and give a gentler ripening season.

Nero Oro Nero d'Avola Appassimento, Terre Siciliane IGP €11.95 (down from €15.95 for March)

This is Sicily's 'Black Gold' and has been a quiet favourite amongst our staff and customers since it landed on our shelves 18 months ago. Last weekend it grabbed the attention it deserved when the famous wine critic, Oz Clarke and celebrity chef, James Martin, raved about Nero Oro on ITV's Saturday Kitchen.

Nero Oro - YouTube

Some of the grapes for this wine are allowed to hang on the vine long in to the warm Sicilian Autumn, slightly raisining them. Other grapes are dried in air-conditioned rooms in the same manner as Amarone grapes I discussed here in last week's blog.  This loss of water weight (10-15%) concentrates the flavours and sugars in the grape.

Appassimento for Nero Oro Grapes

The resulting wine is rich and concentrated with an intense bouquet of cherry, damson and blackcurrants. The palate is powerful, yet approachable with a rich intensity and great depth of fruit flavours. Absolutely delicious! A bottle will be open in all of our stores until Sunday if you want to try it for yourself?

Nero d'Avola Food Match:

This is a very food-friendly wine that would pair wonderfully with a wide range of foods from tomato-based pasta dishes to rich red meat stews. But why not try the deliciously simple Sicilian delicacy made with fried aubergine- Pasta Alla Norma.

Cortese 'Nostru' Nerello Mascalese €11.96 (down from €14.95 for March)

Cortese 'Nostru' Nerello Mascalese

This grape is named after a small village in the foothills of Mount Etna and when planted at higher altitudes the variety flourishes. The difference between day and night temperatures (diurnal swing) on hillsides allows for a balanced and even ripening of this grape.

The vines for this wine are grown at 400 metres and are certified organic, allowing the natural fresh fruit flavours shine. It is bright ruby in colour with fine and complex aromas of red fruits and spice. There is no oak contact to allow the bright red berry flavours come to the fore: but 6-8 moths lees ageing adds a delicious rich texture. An excellent wine for the price and shows the potential quality of Sicilian wines when the correct grape variety is planted in the perfect location. If you like richer Pinot Noir you will love Cortese Nerello Mascalese.

Nerello Mascalese Food Match:

Sicily was a major crossroads for trade between Europe, Africa and the Near East, so herbs and spices play a significant role in their cuisine.  The soft fruit flavours of this wine would match well with any meat marinaded in spices such as Turmeric, Coriander, Nutmeg etc.

Cortese 'Nostru' Catarratto Lucido €11.96 (down from €14.95 for March)

Cortese 'Nostru' Catarrato Lucido

The Catarrato grape is Sicily's most widely-planted grape variety. Much of this production is for bulk wine and Marsala but when the correct variety is used and planted in an ideal location it can make a wine of real quality.

The Cortese version is made from the rarer Catarrato Lucido clone and is certified organic. This clone produces small bunches of high-quality berries and is planted at 400 metres above sea level. This altitude retains a refreshing acidity and fruit profile. Unoaked and aged for 5 months on the fine lees gives this wine a characterful bouquet of jasmine, aromatic herbs and nutmeg. On the palate there is a strong mineral backbone, balanced by lively acidity, almond and stone fruit flavours. If you think all Sicilian white wine is light and thin, try this complex and textured wine- it will change your mind.

Catarrato Food Match:

Arancini are deep fried rice balls and Sicily's most famous food export. With a rich texture from the risotto rice and mozzarella these need a similarly rich white wine to match. The Cortese Catarrato Lucido would be ideal.

Arincini Balls (credit BBC Food)

The O'Briens Italian Wine Sale continues in-store until March 18th, so drop in to your local store where there are over 90 Italian wines with at least 20% Off. Our helpful staff will gladly help you pick out the perfect Sicilian wine.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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O'Briens Wine by Lorcan O'brien - 2w ago

Passito is the Italian word for wines made by the Appassimento method where grapes are air dried on straw mats or plastic boxes prior to fermentation. By losing water weight the grapes' flavours and sugars are concentrated.

Since pre-Roman times many European wine regions have produced wines with partially-dried grapes, traditionally called straw wines. These are wines that are made from grapes that have been allowed to raisin in the sun to concentrate their sugars and flavours, producing a full-bodied rich style. As far back as the 9th century BC the Greek poet Hesiod described a Cypriot straw wine in his poem Works and Days.

Pedro Ximenez Grapes Drying On Straw Mats In Andalucía (credit www.montillamorileswines.com)

In recent times our preference has shifted towards dryer styles of wine but happily the tradition of making wines from dried grapes is still alive. And although many of these wines do not have global attention and only survive through a dedicated local market, there is an increasing demand for Italian wines made with raisined grapes in a dry to off-dry style. You may have heard of Amarone and Ripasso but wines made with semi-dried grapes are produced up and down the Italian Peninsula from the Veneto to Puglia and Tuscany to Sicily.

So with the launch of our Italian wine Sale today, and running until 18th March, there is no better time to explore these exciting and increasingly popular styles of wine.

What is a Passito Wine?

The generic Italian term for wines made from dried grapes is passito (raisin) and the method is rasinate (to dry). The wines are made in styles from dry to unctuously sweet. There are regional and local names for these wines including Appassimento, Passimento, Ripasso, Amarone, Van Santo etc but they are all made in a similar process.

The grapes are picked in perfect condition and are traditionally laid out on straw mats. In the hot southern regions of Italy these mats may be placed in fields under the sun to begin to turn to raisins. In the cooler climate of Northern Italy the bunches of grapes may be placed in the rafters of stone sheds or on bamboo racks in a barn to dry. In today's modern wineries this drying process is usually carried out in climate controlled drying rooms (fruttaio) in plastic baskets, allowing a more stable and predictable drying process.

Ripasso/Amarone grapes drying in the Fruttaio at Musella winery (credit Lynne Coyle MW)

Whichever method is used, water will evaporate through the skin of the grape. The grape sugar, as well as aroma and flavour compounds are retained inside the skin. Depending on the final wine being produced the grape can lose up to half of its weight through this water loss. These raisined grapes are then either used by themselves to make full-bodied and rich wines, or added to a young wine during the winemaking process to lend body and texture to the wine.

The increased sugar concentration can result in two broad categories of wine:

  • If most/all of the sugar is allowed to be converted to alcohol you will end up with a high-alcohol wine that is dry to off-dry.
  • If the fermentation is stopped before all the sugar is converted to alcohol you will have a sweet wine that is lower in alcohol but with a high concentration of natural grape sugar.
Amarone

Amarone comes from the Valpolicella region of northern Italy and is the most recognisable wine in this style. It is made using only raisined grapes that have lost up to 45% of their water weight after about 120 days of drying.

In Italian Amarone means 'the great bitter' but that is only to distinguish it from the sweet Recioto wines of Valpolicella. Amarone is typically rich and full-bodied with concentrated  flavours of mocha and ripe dark berry fruits. They will usually be high in alcohol as most of the concentrated sugars will be fermented to a dry or off-dry style. The drying process will help moderate tannin and acidity to give the best examples a delicious silky mouth feel with every element of the wine being in perfect balance. The best Amarone houses will age their wines for up to five years to ensure there is perfect harmony in the wine.

Musella Amarone €31.16 (down from €38.95 for the Italian Wine Sale)

Biodynamic Amarone- O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Musella are one of the top Amarone producers and grow their grapes biodynamically. This wine shows freshness and less of a ripe, syrupy quality-than some of its peers, with a fine balance between juicy currant and tangy black cherry fruit and notes of tar, chocolate shavings and spice box. The high alcohol (15.5%) is not noticeable due to the perfectly balanced acidity and tannins. A fantastic introduction to the joys of top Amarone.

Amarone Food Match: 

This rich and full-bodied wine needs a robust dish to match. Try it with slow cooked lamb shanks and red wine jus served on a bed of garlic sweet potato mash.

Ripasso/Governo/Appassimento

As Amarone is made with 100% dried grapes it is an expensive wine to produce. Enter Ripasso-style wines.

Ripasso is a protected term that can only be used in the Valpolicella region of northern Italy. It is produced when the leftover grape skins from Amarone production are macerated (steeped) in a new wine. This 'repassing' of the grapes imparts some of the rich body and texture found in an Amarone but at a more affordable price.

Rizzardi Pojega Ripasso €16.36 (down from €20.45 for the Italian Wine Sale)

Elegant & Silky Ripasso- O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Coming from one of the finest wineries in northern Italy Rizzardi Pojega is a fine and elegant Ripasso. Dry and generous this wine is the essence of that dark chocolate/wild cherry character that defines a good Ripasso.

Ripasso Food Match:

The dry and full style of this wine would pair wonderfully with rich game stews. Try it with a venison and Mediterranean herb stew served on a bed of root vegetables.

San Leonino Governo all'uso Toscano €15.16 (down from €18.95 for the Italian Wine Sale)

Semi-dried Tuscan- O'Briens Wines Exclusive

Governo is the Tuscan equivalent to Valpolicella's Ripasso wines and offer much of the same structure and depth of flavour. Semi-dried passito Sangiovese grapes are added to the new vintage wine. This starts a long slow second fermentation in large oak barrels. The resulting wine is soft and round with a touch of residual grape sugar, soft tannins. The typical Sangiovese acidity gives this a nice freshness on the long fine finish.

Governo Food Match: 

The acidity and ripe fruits of this wine would pair well with tomato based dishes. An aubergine and sun-dried tomato bake with shaved parmesan would be an Italian sensation for the taste buds.

The northern Italian regions don't have a monopoly on producing top quality passito wines. In the warm sunny south conditions are ideal to fully ripen grapes and then dry them through the long summer.

Luna Argenta Appassimento €12.95 (down from €18.45 for the Italian Wine Sale)

Southern Italian Sunshine in a Glass

This customer favourite will be recognisable to many of our customers. Coming from the hot southern Italian Puglia region this wine is made from partially-dried Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes. A full-bodied, off-dry wine with intense aromas of crushed blackberry and cherry with notes of vanilla and cinnamon spice that follows through to the palate along with hints of sweet mocha/chocolate. With its supple soft tannins and refreshing acidity this is a deliciously more-ish and decadent wine.

Food Match: 

The sweet and rich fruits of this wine and soft tannins would be delicious pairing for a spiced tomato flatbread or pizza with mozzerella and salami.

The Italian Wine Sale runs in store and online until Monday 18th March. So drop down to your local O'Briens shop where you will find over 90 Italian wines with at least 20% off.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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O'Briens Wine by Paul Barry - 2w ago

We are celebrating Irish brewing this month in O’Brien’s. It’s an exciting time to be a craft beer drinker with the quality and variety of craft beer being produced in Ireland getting better all the time. With so many quality breweries on these shores it can be difficult to choose.

Well, we are here to help, whether its discovering something new or rediscovering an old favourite we have a great line-up on promotion this month.

In fact, we have gone all out on Irish craft beers for the month of March with a  fantastic offer on 50cl bottles from some of Ireland’s best brewers. We have 4 for €10 across a selected range of great beers from the likes of 12 Acres, Black Donkey, Blacks of Kinsale, Boyne Brewhouse, Carlow Brewing, Galway Hooker and Porterhouse Brewing.

We have over twenty different beers in the mix so, whether your tastes run to IPAs and Pales; Red ale, Stout, Lager or Saison, we have something for all tastes. There is a lot to choose from so pop in to your local O’Brien’s store to browse the range.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.

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O'Briens Wine by Lorcan O'brien - 3w ago

Last week I was delighted to introduce the new Los Coches range of Chilean wines from Luis Felipe Edwards to our shelves. They have proven an immediate hit with our customers and would be perfect crowd-pleaser wines for a wedding or other family event.

But our Wine Director, Lynne Coyle MW, and her team work tirelessly all year to offer our customers the widest range of exciting wines in O'Briens. This week I have chosen four of my favourite wines from March's promotional lineup that have hit our shelves in the past year.

Brand New Southern Spanish

Stunning Brand New Southern Spanish

My first pick is a Sneak Peek at the brand new Luzón Colección Roble- so new it only landed in Ireland today and will be in our stores at the end of this week.

Hailing from the hot sunny southeastern Spanish region of Jumilla this is another wine from top esate, Bodegas Luzón.  The vibrant Monastrell (Mourvèdre to you Francophiles) grape can fully ripen in this hot climate to reveal its plummy and spiced character- fresh, smooth and full on the palate with ripe sweet tannins. Aged in French and American oak for 3 months to give an added depth of flavour.

This is sure to be another firm customer favourite but don't take my word for it- this wine will be on the tasting table in your local O'Briens all weekend. So pop in and try before you buy.

Marvellous Organic Malbec

Casa de Uco in the Foothills of the Andes
Casa de Uco is a stunning estate located in the Uco Valley of Mendoza, tucked against the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Their Casa de Uco El Salvaje Organico is 100% Malbec from fully organic vineyards located 1300 metres above sea level. This elevation maintains a fresh acidity in the grapes, giving a surprisingly fresh, supple wine whilst retaining all the big punchy fruit flavours expected from a Mendoza Malbec.
Malbec Food Match:

The fresh and supple fruit profile and  high acidity of this wine will match wonderfully with a salty cheese and olive based dish. Why not try a black olive tapenade and feta cheese on basil passata filo pastry pie?

Top Rioja Reserva

Our Customer Favourite Rioja

Next we have a wine that proved an immediate hit with our customers over Christmas. The Marqués de la Concordia Reserva is a classic Rioja revisited. This is a modern fruit-driven style backed up by an unmistakably traditional vanilla and savoury character. 100% Tempranillo from Cenicero vineyards and aged in French & American barrels for 24 months, it displays deep red berried fruit, well integrated oak and a touch of spice all wrapped up in velvety tannins.

Rioja Reserva Food Match:

This cries out for grilled Lamb chops or chorizo and pork belly casserole. If you love our classic Monte Real Reserva you will adore this!

Herbaceous New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular, food-friendly styles of wine in Ireland right now. A restaurant wine list would not be complete without one and with this popularity the price has been pressured upwards. So it's great when the O'Briens Wine Team can still unearth such good value as the Russian Jack Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Coming from the sleek and modern Foley Family winery and named after a popular vineyard worker, the fruit for this vibrant Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. Bursting with lifted herbaceous aromatics on the nose, the palate is full of tropical and zesty fresh grapefruit and passionfruit on the long crisp finish.

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Food Match:

The bright and lifted aromatics of this wine would pair well with strong bold flavours. I chef friend of mine once served me wild garlic and nettle pesto on scallops in their shell with Marlborough Sauvignon blanc. The lifted herbaceous aromas of the wine were ideal with the strong pesto flavours, whilst the texture of the wine's body ideally complemented the meaty shellfish.

For over 100 other great promotions this March drop in to your local O'Briens wines where our friendly and knowledgeable staff will happily talk you through our range.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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We love introducing new wines to our range here at O'Briens, particularly new wines that offer our customers excellent value for money. This week we are delighted to introduce the new Los Coches range of varietal wines from Chilean producer Luis Felipe Edwards (LFE).

Luis Felipe Edwards was founded in 1976 with the purchase of a 60ha estate in Colchagua Valley. Over the years the company has expanded across the premium grape growing regions of Chile to become one of the largest wineries in the country, exporting to over 100 countries worldwide. Despite its size the company is dedicated to remaining in the hands of the Edwards family and following their core values with a firm commitment to innovation and sustainability.

Luis Felipe Edwards Vineyards, Colchagua Valley Chile

Their mission is to become the leading source of Chilean wines across categories, delivering highest-quality wines at the best prices. And they are certainly succeeding with this new range of Los Coches varietally labelled wines- named after the old horse-drawn carriages of the region. Offering unbeatable value for money these are easy-drinking, crowd-pleaser wines that would be perfect to serve at a wedding or family event.

The Los Coches were horse-drawn carriages used for special occasions

To celebrate their launch we have reduced the Los Coches range of wines from €9.95 to €8 until March 24th! All of our stores will have a bottle from the range open to taste every day this week, so drop in to your local O'Briens to see why we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of this range of wines!

Los Coches Sauvignon Blanc

New and Exclusive to O'Briens Wine

Chilean wines are the most popular in Ireland- accounting for 27% of all wine sold here. And the most popular white variety from Chile is Sauvignon Blanc- a fresh herbaceous and crisp style that is equally delicious with or without food. The Los Coches is a vibrant gold with green hints in the glass. The fresh citrus and tropical fruits are lifted with a light herbal aroma. The palate is balanced and clean with a freshness and persistence that begs for another sip. This is benchmark Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc Food Match: The crisp herbal aromatics and fresh acidity would pair wonderfully with a light feta, red pepper, kalamata olive and beetroot salad.

Los Coches Chardonnay

New and Exclusive to O'Briens Wine

Chardonnay has fallen out of fashion with many wine drinkers, as we turned away from the heavily oaked versions coming out of Australia. If you are one of those ABCs (Anything But Chardonnay) it is worth taking another look at this wonderfully adaptable grape variety. When grown in a cooler climate Chardonnay can produce a delicious fruity wine with masses of citrus and tropical fruits and moderate acidity. The Los Coches Chardonay sees 3 months oak ageing to give it a lightly almond flavour and a creamy texture to accompany the myriad tropical and refreshing citrus flavours. This is a very good quality wine that delivers a lot for the price.

Chardonnay Food Match: The depth of flavour and textured palate would pair wonderfully with a meatier fish cooked with Mediterranean herbs, capers and samphire.

Los Coches Syrah

New and Exclusive to O'Briens Wine

Syrah is best-known in the Northern Rhône and as Shiraz in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, but many other regions produce good examples of this grape variety. Chile's varied terroir allows it to grow a wide-variety of grapes and this silky and smooth example of Syrah shows that diversity. With some Alicante Bouchet and Petite Syrah in the blend this is intense with notes of black fruits and pepper accompanied by vanilla and coconut from the 3 months oak aging. With medium acidity and silky tannins this is an ideal food-friendly wine.

Syrah Food Match: Enjoy this with a mixed BBQ. Grilled red peppers will help lift the naturally peppery spice of the Syrah grape.

Los Coches Cabernet Sauvignon

New and Exclusive to O'Briens Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of Bordeaux's Left Bank, but has found a place in many of the great wine regions of the New World also. It needs plenty of heat to fully ripen and Chile's Central Valley offers ideal conditions to reveal its intense red and black fruits- strawberry, blueberry and blackberry accompanied by hazelnuts, cocoa, coffee and vanilla from the light touch of oak. This is a fine full-bodied wine with firm tannins and a long fruity finish. There are very few locations in the world that can deliver so much wine for such a reasonable price.

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Match: The firm tannins and ripe berry fruits will pair well with supple juicy red meat. Try it with a rack of lamb this Easter.

Easter Lamb

Drop in to your local O'Briens store where our friendly staff will gladly offer you the chance to taste from the Los Coches range on our in-store tasting table.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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O'Briens Wine by Elizabeth Foley - 1M ago

Looking for the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day, we have some treats for you. Maybe you are staying in and creating a romantic meal for two or just cosying up by the fire, there’s some great options to share this Valentine’s Day also. Of course, these are great for treating yourself as well!

If you would like to give the gift that keeps on giving then our Craft Club could be the one for you. You can pick up a three month or six month subscription and get fresh new beers delivered to your door every month. If you are looking for something to share with the craft beer lover in your life then our Eight Degrees mixed pack is on offer for Valentine. Pick it up in store, perfect for sharing!

If you are looking for a spirit that’s a touch romantic and a little fun than why not try Gordon's Pink for the day that’s in it. Pick up a bottle in stores over the Valentines period and collect a free glass as well.* If you tastes turn to darker spirits then why not try an Irish Whiskey set like Teeling Trinity? This set of Teeling best selling whiskeys makes a great gift but also a great experience for a night in.

Happy Valentines.

*While stocks last

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Throughout human history February has enjoyed an enduring association with love, romance and fertility.  Long before Hallmark cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, many ancient pagan societies celebrated festivals at this time of the year to herald the coming season of rebirth and regeneration.  This tradition stretches back at least 5,000 years in Ireland, when pre-Celtic peoples aligned the passageway of the The Mound of the Hostages at Tara to welcome the life-giving early February sunrise.  This festival was later adopted by the Celts as Imbolc, one of the four principal festivals of the Celtic calendar.  It honoured the love and fertility goddess, Brigid; such an important figure to the Irish that she was later assimilated into the Christian church as one of the country’s patron saints.

Many ancient cultures celebrated early February as the time of re-birth and fertility.

Over the centuries the festival has evolved to celebrate romance and love in all its guises. Although we wouldn’t recognise the peculiar hedonistic practices of the ancient Romans' Lupercalia festival, we do have something telling in common.  As with today, the Romans associated the silky texture of red wine with seduction and romance.  The grapevine was a sign of virility and fertility, sacred to Venus, the goddess of love and desire.  To this day we still recognise the alluring sensuality of the grapevine’s fruit, so this Valentine’s raise a glass to celebrate Venus with some of our favourite romance-inspired wines here at O'Briens.

Wine has long been associated with love and romance.
Valentine's Day Wines Bellow's Rock Sauvignon Blanc, €10 (down from €14.95 for February)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

This wine is a firm customer favourite and is the result of the collaboration between three good friends and their wives.  With crisp citrus fruit, tropical hints and a silky palate from the addition of Semillon to the blend this wine offers excellent value for money and would be the perfect match for everyone's favourite aphrodisiacal Valentine’s food: oysters.

Romeo & Juliet Passimento Red, €12.95 (down from €17.95 for February)

An Ode To Lovers: Romeo & Juliet Rosso Makes the Perfect Valentine's Gift

For something more seductive, be inspired by that most romantic of lovers.  From Shakespeare to Dire Straits, Romeo and Juliet has long been lauded as the ultimate tragic love story.  Named in their honour, this wine’s label shows part of Juliet’s wall in Verona, where 3,000 love messages are left daily.  Made in the local passimento method, whereby the grapes are dried prior to fermentation, this is a truly seductive, velvet smooth wine.

Bollinger NV Rosé. €83 (receive €23 Back in Loyalty card points until February 17th)

Bollinger Rosé NV

If this Valentine’s day represents a special occasion for you and your loved one, mark it with a bottle of prestigious Bollinger Rosé.  Attention to quality and finesse is the hallmark of the Bollinger house.  From the high proportion of Grands and Premiers Crus Pinot Noir grapes this sparkling wine offers plenty of luscious red fruits and fine tannins, married to a rich complexity from extended lees ageing.  This benchmark rosé Champagne is an excellent match for a wide range of dishes from smoked salmon to wild berry tart. Starting today you will receive €23 back in  points on your Loyalty card with every bottle of Bollinger NV Rosé.

Bollinger Aging Cellars, Champagne

Whitehaven Pinot Noir, €19.95 (down from €22.95 for February)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Pinot Noir is the most romantic of the noble grapes- notoriously difficult to cultivate, this Burgundian grape can produce wines of unparalleled complexity once tamed.  The Whitehaven Pinot Noir from Marlborough is a fabulous example of the aromatic, intense wine this grape can produce in New Zealand.  With an alluring violet tinge, this red offers fresh strawberry, raspberry and sweet spices.  A perfect food wine from a wonderful New Zealand producer.

Valhondo Rosado Brut NV, €12.95 (down from €17.95 until February 17th)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

Valhondo Rosado is our new pink Cava, produced near the vibrantly romantic city of Barcelona.  Made in the Traditional Method, this fresh and easy drinking pink fizz has fast become a customer favourite and for Valentine's week there is €5 off! Wonderful fresh bramble fruits that would match a Black Forest Gateaux or Wild Berry Cheesecake.

Pasqua Vineyards, Veneto
Lanson Rosé Label NV, €47.95 (down from €57.95 for February)

Lanson Rosé NV

For something more elegant, champagne is the ultimate celebratory wine to treat the one you love.  For Valentine’s day O’Briens are offering a discount on a number of big name brands, including Lanson Rosé Label, one of the first rosé champagnes. A seductive soft pink colour in the glass, this wine offers plenty of fresh summer berry fruits on a soft, subtle palate: an ideal match for chocolate dipped strawberries.

So drop in to your local O'Briens Wine where our helpful staff will gladly help pick out that perfect bottle for your Valentine.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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In unsurprising Irish fashion we warmly herald this week's coming of February with the coldest winter snap of the season- just in time to greet the earliest emergence of daffodil shoots I can remember. But so long as the snow holds off I thoroughly enjoy this crisp time of year. It gives me the impetus to dust off the slow cooker and make some hearty stews to enjoy in front of an open log fire (the fact I only have gas central heating does little to shatter my enthusiasm). In this blog I recommend warming red wines from the new February promo lineup here at O'Briens and match them with some of my favourite winter warming stews from around the world out of the slow cooker.

Indian Vegetarian Creamy Black Dhal & Crispy Onions with... Aruma Malbec, Mendoza Argentina €12.95 (from €18.45 for February)

It can be difficult to match red wines with Indian dishes- many of us tend to play it safe and steer towards German white varieties. The lifted aromatics of spices such as cumin and cardamon, as well as the heat of chili can make the tannins in red wine taste bitter and metallic. But if you opt for a young, vibrant unoaked red wine the result can be a delicious match. The Aruma Malbec from Argentina would fit the bill nicely. This wine is the result of the collaboration between Château Lafite-Rothschild of Bordeaux and Nicolas Catena, one of Argentina's top winemakers. It's an unoaked and restrained style of wine- the bold Argentinian fruits tempered by a light European touch and good acidity. The tannins are soft and supple and the bright fresh fruits and textured palate of the wine would be delicious with the creamy texture of the lentils.

Spanish Chicken, Chorizo & Chickpea Stew with... Altos de Luzón, Jumilla Spain €14.95 (from €19.95 for February)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

For the past decade or so I have been lucky enough to visit Spain 3-4 times per year and it has firmly become my home from home. Although the welcoming people and endless UNESCO World Heritage sites are a big attraction, the varied gastronomy and wonderful wines are the main draw for me. I try to imitate many of the dishes in my own kitchen, with wildly varying degrees of success! One dish that rarely fails however, is a slow cooked Chicken, Chorizo & Chickpea stew.

To match this warming casserole I will generally reach for a ripe southern Spanish wine, such as the Altos de Luzón above. Coming from Jumilla in the southeast of Spain, this wine is a blend of Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. Aged for 12 months in French & American oak, it is bursting with ripe black fruits and a touch of oak spice that will stand up to the strong garlic and paprika flavours of the dish. The quality of this wine shows the value of Spanish wine outside the better known northern regions and offers a winning winter warming combination with this dish.

Italian Ragú with... Tenuta Novare Valpolicella Ripasso, Veneto Italy €16.95 (from €19.95 for February)

O'Briens Wine Exclusive

As the late great Paulo Tullio would tirelessly espouse:  an Italian ragú sauce is a sofrito and slow-cooked meat dish with tomato added to it. This is in contrast to the runny tomato-based dish we tend to cook here. Before a baby hoovered up my free time I would regularly make a large batch of Heston Blumental's 'In Search of Perfection: Spaghetti Bolognaise' recipe that took about 36 hours to complete! Very time consuming but the results were always worth the effort: a complex rich meat dish with a subtle sweetness and fresh acidity from the sofrito, caramelized onions and tomato sauce. Not to mention the strong umami flavours of a Grana Pandano or Parmesan cheese.

To stand up to such a dish I recommend reaching for a wine with a good backbone of acidity to cut through the rich meat, but also with enough body and fruit not to get lost in the varied robust flavours of the meal. A northern Italian red wine, such as the Tenute Novare Valpolicella Ripasso would be perfect. The grapes for this wine come from premium vineyards on the Bertani estate in the heart of Valpolicella Classico and are semi-dried before fermentation to concentrate the flavour of the wine. Silky smooth, rich and full bodied with lashings of dark fruits this wine is ideal for tomato-based Italian dishes.

French Beef Bourguignon & Dumplings with... Whitehaven Pinot Noir, Marlborough New Zealand €19.95 (from €22.95 for February)

O'Briens wine Exclusive

Although the classic match for Beef Bourguignon is a red Burgundy, there are no firm rules to food and wine matching so I'm stumping for this delicious New Zealander: the Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Noir. This classic French dish is traditionally made with tougher, fattier cuts of meat that are slow-cooked in wine to tenderise, resulting in a rich warming dish. The bright fruit flavours of this wine and the fresh line of acidity will cut through the richness and fatty meat, while the savoury notes and tannin from 11 months aging in barrel will beautifully match the umami and savoury flavours of the beef and mushrooms.

Note: Beef Bourguignon is a similar dish to traditional Irish stew so this wine match would work just as well.

There are no firm rules to food and wine matching, so don't be afraid to experiment- oaked Chardonnay will match many of the dishes above, but fresher white wines such as Riesling and Pinot Blanc can work surprisingly well also. Drop in to your local O'Briens store where our friendly and knowledgeable staff will happily help you pick out that perfect bottle. Or shop online at www.obrienswine.ie.

Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.

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