Bottle Stories

Peter Lehmann, Barossa Semillon, Australia 2003 (88) around €11 and on sale at €10.75 when buying a 12 bottle case from and selected wine shops nationwide

The Semillon grape is a consistently overlooked variety, it is quite widespread and therefore it tends to lack the novelty or chic of the kind of peripheral grapes like Gruner Veltliner, Torrontes, Albarino or Pinot Gris that pop in and out of fashion regularly. Semillon is most often found blended with Sauvignon Blanc as the basis for the majority of Bordeaux white wines and it often tends to be found bulking out New World Chardonnay mass market blends. Left to its own devices however and its slightly full bodied and unctuous nature evolves into a hugely attractive lime marmalade, nutty and even petroleum jelly like offering. Not for everyone, but this nutty, lime streaked aged Semillon can open your eyes to a whole range of new flavours that Pinot Grigio will rarely offer. A fine accompaniment for Stuffed Pork Fillets and roast potatoes.


Petit Clos by Clos Henri, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2008 (89) at €12.99 down from €14.99 in O’Briens Wines nationwide and online at

The convoluted double name on the label tells you immediately that you are looking at a complicated production. This is a Sauvignon Blanc, the grape of France’s iconic Sancerre, made by a leading Sancerre producer, in their New Zealand winery in the heart of the world’s second greatest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, at Marlborough. The French estate is Maison Henri Bourgeois a respected Sancerre and Pouilly Fume maker. Clos Henri is the name of their New Zealand winery. Now, Henri Bourgeois makes an entry level French Sancerre-like Sauvignon Blanc at €12.39 and their actual AC Sancerre is around €20. This wine is excellent, with vibrant, lips-making fruit, touches of lime, some green pepper skin and a slither of minerality, topped off with good acidity. It easily surpasses the complexity and interest of the Petit Bourgois French Sauvignon, but is not a match for the complexity and minerality of their full AC Sancerre. So, at €12.99 it is an easy recommendation, but at €14.99 it falls between two stools. Try this with a Goats Cheese Salad and warm toast.

Chateau Villa Bel Air, AC Graves 2005 (90) around €22.95 from The Vintry, 102 Rathgar Road, Dublin; Berry Brothers, now from their site and from selected independent Off Licences nationwide

This is wine is from a Chateau owned by the Cazes Family, owners of the most famous of the Irish Wild Geese Chateaux, Chateau Lynch-Bages. Villa Bel Air is located to the south of Bordeaux city, in the AC Graves region. Many AC Graves reds tend to be medium bodied and quite savoury, this example is a little more generous, a fault to some. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon driven blend from gravely soils on a noticeable slope. The 2005, a hot summer, still shows through in great ripe fruit, clean plum and blackcurrant notes and a polished coconut sheen, mainly due to the toasty oak. It is a smooth, generous wine that hints at Napa or Margaret River. I have been following the 2003 and the 2005 vintages when ever I can get them and they are still improving, with the 2005 looking like it has a few more years to give. If this were a €60 Bordeaux it would be unremarkable, but at €22, it is a fine cellar choice. Perfect now without decanting, ideal with Lamb or Duck or richer, sweeter meat dishes.


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