Cold Weather Wines to Warm the Soul

Though there is talk of a season-saving Indian Summer on the way, we’ll be into the colder weather in no time, especially if past performance is any guide!

Below are some great wine recommendations for when the mercury drops, though they are chosen to be enjoyed whatever the weather – Indian Summer or not.

WOLF BASSWolf Blass Limited Edition Yellow Label Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (RSP €14.99 and widely available nationwide)

The world will once again go rugby-mad on 15th September when the latest world cup kicks off in England, the tournament that occurs only every four years to decide the best rugby team in the world.

To coincide with this 7-week festival of world-class rugby, fans will have the chance to enjoy the taste of triumph with some specially-commissioned labels exclusive to Wolf Blass’s famous Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon and Yellow Label Chardonnay wines.

Fifteen different labels are available – one for each rugby position – with each including a different number and illustration representing that player.

jean leon, chardonnay 2012Jean León 3055 Chardonnay (Organic) (RSP €19.99 from Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; O’Driscoll’s of Ballinlough, Cork; and Bradley’s of North Main Street, Cork)

The story of Jean León – born Ceferino Carrión – would be utterly unbelievable if it wasn’t true. At the age of 19, with not a penny to his name and on his eighth attempt, he successfully stowed away on a cruiser bound for New York, where he worked any odd job he could find in order to make ends meet. He drove a cab, something that always filled him with pride, and he worked as a busboy and waiter.

Eventually he crossed the country to Hollywood and landed a job at Villa Capri, the restaurant owned by Frank Sinatra and the legendary baseball player Joe DiMaggio. There, Jean León became friends with James Dean and together they opened the La Scala restaurant in the very heart of Beverly Hills in April 1956, which counted Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Marlon Brando and Robert Wagner amongst its clientele.
Jean Léon had a meticulous wine list and cellars, so it was only a matter of time before he started his own wine label. He found what he was looking for in Catalonia, in the very heart of the Penedès. In 1962, Jean Leon purchased 150 hectares of the very best land in the region, and a year later he founded the winery.

3055 was Jean León’s cab number when he worked as a taxi driver, one of his first jobs, and as such symbolises his modest origins and the importance of pursuing your dreams. The 3055 Chardonnay is a brilliant and fresh wine with lovely notes of tropical fruit such as pineapple, mango and papaya. Perfect as a toast to an incredible life well-lived.

Matua Pinot NoirMatua Marlborough Pinot Noir (RSP €15.99 from Tesco, Dunnes, and good independent off-licences nationwide)

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc these days, but it was Bill & Ross Spence, founders of Matua, who were the first to plant the grape in NZ back in 1969, producing the first bottles of Matua in an old tin shed which they had rented in 1974.

Four decades on and Bill Spence is still involved as Matua ambassador, with their award-winning wines now crafted by young local winemaker Nikolai St George. In those years – and especially more recently – Matua has become one of the most decorated New Zealand wine brands winning hundreds of trophies and medals.

Pinot Noir is the ideal chameleon, enjoyed slightly chilled for warm summer days or paired alongside warming grilled meat dishes. Drink it by itself, al fresco, after a half an hour in the fridge when the weather is warmer, or alongside hearty game stews when the skies darken.

Graham Beck The Game Reserve PinotageGraham Beck ‘The Game Reserve’ Pinotage (RSP €16.99 from O’Brien’s, nationwide; McLoughlins Off-Licence, Dublin 7; Martins Off Licence, Fairview, Dublin 3; Jus De Vine, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin; Conway’s Off Licence, Ratoath, Co. Meath; The Offie, Douglas, Cork; and other good independent off-licences nationwide)

Graham Beck are perhaps most famously known for their highly-regarded and critically-acclaimed Graham Beck Brut sparkling wine, but their still reds and whites are not short on quality either.

Pinotage is a cross of Pinot Noir with Cinsault, created in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, and has since become South Africa’s proudly ‘native’ variety.

Though big on flavour, its palate is nevertheless medium-bodied, making it another ideal candidate for the fluctuating weather, and especially the barbie – or “braai” as the South Africans would call it.

Expect ripe cherry, strawberries and plums with red berry fruit and spices, while the balanced palate reveals ripe juicy fruit but also savoury notes, a nod perhaps to its Pinot Noir lineage.

CIDER_CASK_2015Tullamore D.E.W. ‘Cider Cask Finish’ Irish Whiskey (RSP €54.00 from the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre and Dublin Airport)

This time of year will see Ireland’s orchards heaving with ripe apples, so it’s only fitting that we introduce this quite unique marriage of cider and Irish whiskey.

Tullamore D.E.W. – the original triple-distilled, triple-blend Irish whiskey – recently unveiled the world’s first cider cask finished Irish whiskey, which combines two of Ireland’s oldest crafts: cider- and whiskey-making.

Bursting with a light, golden amber glow, Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish tastes as rich as it looks. On the nose, the fresh, leafy, crisp green apple scent and sweet maltiness brings the senses on a journey – straight to the heart of Ireland. The smooth, light-bodied palate is distinctive: soft and mellow, with a lovely balance of oak, creamy malt and sweet, fresh apple notes. The final result is a richly rewarding, new taste experience for curious whiskey enthusiasts.

Due to the seasonal nature of the Irish apple harvest, Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish has a limited production, made only between September and November each year.


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