There are few words that bring joy to a winelover’s ears as much as “fine wine sale”. Below are some of the French wines included in Irish chain O’Briens’ fine wine sale that I have tried and enjoyed this year. I will leave the discussion on what constitutes “fine wine” for another day!
Note: these offers are in-store only, and for a short time.
Julien Brocard La Boissonneuse Chablis 2017 (13.0%, €28.45 down to €21.95)
After studying engineering Julien Brocard joined the family firm in the 90s. At first he concentrated on some special wines before eventually taking over the reins from his father. Although he doesn’t necessarily use the term itself, he has followed the principle of Kaizen – continuous improvement in the vineyard, winery and onwards.
This is a very special wine indeed, and not just because it is from organic and biodynamically grown grapes – no easy thing in the northern climes of Chablis. It’s simply the most accomplished and interesting Chablis I’ve ever tasted. Yes it’s on offer in the Fine Wine Sale, but to be honest this is an absolute steal at its regular price. There’s vibrant lemon and lime and a funkiness which I find really appealing. The only reason for you not to buy this wine is to leave more for me!
Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2015 (14.5%, €43.95 down to €29.95 at O’Briens)
This wine has two prestigious names behind it – Châteauneuf-du-Pape of course and the JM Cazes family of Lynch Bages fame. Complexity comes through three distinct soil types: stony clay-limestone, deep sand and mollassic sandstone. The assemblage is the traditional GSM blend, with 64% Grenache, 19% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre plus a dash of Vaccarèse and Cinsault (2% together). It’s a great example of CNDP which has some serious competition at €44, but is an absolute steal at €30!
Domaine L’Ostal Cazes Grand Vin Minervois La Livinière 2015 (14.5%, €23.95 down to €18.95 at O’Briens)
The Grand Vin of L’Ostal Cazes is probably my favourite wine of the JM Cazes family, especially when value for money comes into the equation. It’s made in one of the top appellations of the Languedoc – Minervois La Livinière – which has as few as 30 producers. The blend is 90% Syrah plus 10% Grenache, all aged for 15 months in French oak barrels. There’s no mistaking that this is predominantly Syrah based, though it’s richer and spicier than the northern Rhône’s reds. This is the perfect wine for cold winter nights.
Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Rouge 2015 (14.5%, €38.95 down to €29.95 at O’Briens)
This is a premium cuvée from Gérard Bertrand, rugbyman (a word which works equally well in French as in Irish English) turned biodynamic winemaker. The blend for Cigalus is (I hope you’re sitting down): Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache and Caladoc. The last grape is a cross of Grenache and Malbec that is grown here and there in the Languedoc but is not generally permitted in AOC wines. As this is an IGP there’s no issue! Given the long list of grapes it’s no surprise that the wine is a mouthful, but in a good way – smooth and rich, it’s a very satisfying wine full of fruits of the forest. Definitely one to quaff with a stew or a good book!
Château Phélan Ségur Saint-Estèphe Cru Bourgeois 2015 (13.5%, €70.00 down to €50.00)
Buy this wine, but don’t drink it. I’m serious! Well, sort of…I mean don’t drink it now, but lay it down out of sight and out of mind for several years before opening it. You will reap the rewards.
With obvious Irish roots, Phélan Ségur is officially a Cru Bourgeois but is often talked about as being of Cru Classé…erm…class. 2015 was a great vintage in Bordeaux so this is definitely one to snap up if you can. The blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and 47% Merlot giving a mix of blackcurrant and plum with a structure that will stand it in good stead for the long haul. Second wine Frank Phélan is worth its €39.95 so for a tenner more this is a bargain.
Also see my NZ & Aus picks in part 1