It has been a fortnight of celebration here in Ireland. Last week saw the St Patrick’s day festivities and this week will see the commemoration of the Centenary of the 1916 Rising on Easter Sunday. To help us celebrate, O’Briens Wines are giving 15% back on your Loyalty card when you buy 6 bottles of wine. There is also a 6 For 5 deal on Irish craft beers, so below are a few recommendations to help celebrate this long weekend in style.
Wicklow Wolf, Children of the Revolution IPA, €3.95/500ml
First up is a celebration IPA from the lads in Wicklow Wolf brewery. This beer got some great press when some bored whingers with nothing better to do with their time accused the brew of being aimed at children due to the name. Surely if your kids manage to get their mits on beer you have bigger things to worry about?
Keeping in style with their regular bottles the lads have subtly blended in the shadow of a Tricolour on the label to distinguish it from their Free Ranger IPA. A deep golden colour in the glass, this beer has a warm white grapefruit and orange peel nose. Made with a medley of 5 different hops, it unsurprisingly has a satisfying hoppy finish alongside refreshing citrus flavours.
The Irish Wino’s Verdict: This beer is the best to come out of Wicklow Wolf yet. Refreshing and easy to drink (possibly dangerously so!) I reckon this Centenary Celebration brew will sell out quickly, so stock up if you see it.
Bodegas Valdemar, Conde Valdemar Gran Reserva Rioja 2007, €19.99 (down from €33.45 for Easter) O’Briens
The first wine comes from the consistently impressive Bodegas Valdemar; a family-owned winery dating back to 1889 and now boasting its fifth generation of winemakers. Only produced in the best vintages, their Gran Reserva wines are made from carefully selected estate-grown Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graziano grapes.
Unlike most other countries, Spain has imposed a legal definition on the terms Reserva and Gran Reserva appearing on wine labels. This wine is aged in oak barrrels for 26 months before being left to develop in bottle for a further 4-5 years. Even then the wine is subject to the strictest of standards and only the crème de la crème will achieve the Conde Valdemar label (the 2008 vintage fell at this final hurdle).
The care and attention that go in to making these wines means they are capable of ageing incredibly well and tend to develop a rich meaty and balsamic character with time. Last year I tasted a number of older vintages, dating back to 1973, and they were still deliciously vibrant.
The 2007 above has a lovely perfumed and floral nose, helped by the small dash of Graciano in the blend. The oak is still quite evident (spice, coconut, vanilla), but is balanced by ripe cherries and deep black fruits, as well as an attractive fresh tobacco aroma. In the mouth the wine really packs a punch of bramble fruits and sweet spices; as well as a more savoury character on the finish from the long ageing.
The Irish Wino’s Verdict: This wine is a perfect match for an Easter Sunday roast beef. If you have the patience (and dosh!) grab a few at this price and lay them down for a few years; they’re a great addition to any budding wine cellar. If you like this, try rooting out Bodegas Valdemar’s excellent Maturana- a long-abandoned Rioja grape variety that is being rejuvinated by a couple of pioneering wineries.
Château Les Auzines, Hautes Terres Rouge Corbières 2011, €12.95 (down from €14.95 for Easter) O’Briens
The second wine has a suitably Irish connection. It is made by Laurent Miquel and his Irish wife, Neasa, in their organic estate high in the hills of Corbières, in the south of France.
On the nose this wine has deep red fruits- cherry and overripe strawberry- from the Grenache, as well as some darker bramble fruits and black pepper from the Syrah. In the mouth it follows through with the bramble fruits, sour cherry and some balsamic notes from the ageing. It has a long, pleasant finish.
The Irish Wino’s Verdict: This wine is screaming out for a nice rack of lamb and mint sauce. At €12.95 this is a very good value wine from a top producer.