Australian Chardonnay

bernard hickin

The changing face of Australian Chardonnay It seems hard to believe, but Australian Chardonnay is a relative newcomer to the wine scene.  In the early 1970s, Murray Tyrrell of Tyrrells, and of Bob Oatley of Rosemount, led the way in creating a full-flavoured, oaky, dry Chardonnay, to replace Riesling which dominated at the time.  It […]


Penfolds Bin wines

penfolds logo

Australian Shiraz is one of the world’s most recognisable and popular styles, and owed much to Penfolds.  Until the 1950s, Australian wines were fortified with spirit, and drank ostensibly for medicinal purposes.  Max Schubert came back from a European tour with a yearning to replicate the wines he had tasted there.  He continued to make […]

Best wines for Christmas


Many people ask for wine recommendations at this time of year.  I am fortunate to be attend retailers’ wine tastings, where they show their exclusive wines, and am pleased to relate that there are many superb wines on offer, and some exceptional value.  The flipside of this is that there are more disappointing wines than […]

Noffla Gold Star wines

Noffla goldstar

People often ask at wine tastings whether medals and awards seen on bottles are genuine indicators of quality.  The simple fact is that they are. They are awarded on the basis of having been tasted ‘blind’ (that is without knowing what the wine is), usually against a set of similar wine styles.  Australia and other […]

Great value wines from the Languedoc


I am often asked at wine tastings about value for money wines.  Wines from the south of France are really impressing me lately, particularly reds from Languedoc Roussillon, tucked into France’s south west Mediterranean coast. I took a wine tour of the area last April, and was surprised that you can drive for several hours […]

Zenato Wines

Alberto Zenato and Maureen OHara 150x150

Zenato wines greatly impressed me at a recent wine tasting. Quality was consistently high across the  range of red and white wines. Moreover, on re-tasting the humble Valpolicella after the delight of Amarone, the quality still hummed.  A good sign! Alberto Zenato, who heads the family-owned business, kindly gave a wine tasting for Premier Wine […]

The best wine shops in Ireland

buying wine in a shop

The best wine shop in Ireland?  Redmonds of Ranelagh, according to Noffla, which annually awards the title to its very best members. The National Off Licence Association Awards are based on a range of criteria, heavily weighted towards range and wine knowledge, and independently judged. When buying wine, especially for  an occasion, there is no […]

Lidl wine recommendations

Richard bampfield

“How would you rate wines from Lidl?” is a question I am asked more frequently of Lidl than any other store.  In the last 10 years Lidl’s cheap wines have been a massive influence in buying wine in Ireland. Finding the cheapest gluggable wine has become a national pastime and conversation piece.  After a wine tasting of Lidl’s range, my […]