The wine buff: The 'iconic wines' to buy for Father's Day
Sometimes I get invited to tastings of what are called 'iconic wines'. These are the wines that you read about, but could never afford. But people do buy them, and, as it's Father's Day tomorrow, I thought it might be a good time to mention them.
Let's start with Opus One. Wine Searcher recently released a list of the most searched for wines over the last 20 years, and Opus One was the only non-French wine to make it onto the top 10. It's from Oakville, in the Napa Valley in California, but it does have strong French affiliations. It started as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of esteemed Bordeaux estate, Château Mouton Rothschild, the first vintage was released in 1985, and, since then, it has steadily increased in price and fame.
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According to Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci, who was in Dublin recently: "There are two types of wines in the world - wines that are made to reflect a personality, and wines that are made to reflect a place. Opus One falls into the second category." Wines like Opus One are always on allocation, and there's a limited stock in Ireland. If you're tempted, Terroirs in Donnybrook and Green Acres in Wexford have the 2012 vintage for €495. Other vintages starting at €300 are available from the importers, Pembroke Wines.
For an even more eye-watering price, you could start checking out the rest of the wines on that list. The only one cheaper than Opus One is Dom Pérignon, and after that you're into the top Châteaux of Bordeaux. Château Haut-Brion clocks in at number seven, and as it happens is brought into the country by O'Briens (although apparently Haut-Brion is not a corruption of the name O'Brien), but there are plenty of more affordable wines out there for the Bordeaux loving man in your life. Ask for help in an independent off-licence and you will be able to pick up something really interesting.
Other iconic wines include the Italian Super Tuscans, Sassicaia and Tignanello, 'Tig' being Meghan Markle's favourite. Or for an even more powerful wine, go for one of the Amarone classics like Tomassi, a wine that is described as a meditation wine, which means that you shouldn't knock it back over dinner, but enjoy it, almost like a port, afterwards.
Spain also has its share of premium wines. Vega Sicilia from Ribera del Duero is up there with the heavy hitters, but one you might not know about is Mas la Plana, a red wine from the Penedès region made by Familia Torres. The chief winemaker, Josep Sabarich, held a tasting at Liath restaurant recently and it was fascinating to hear all the work the Torres family are doing to revive ancestral varieties in Spain and in their vineyards in Chile. These are organic wines which are made with a light touch. This means that the concentration of fruit is really allowed to shine through and not overwhelmed with oak and overwrought wine making.
Whiskey loving dads are easy to buy for these days as there are so many new Irish whiskies. Fercullen Premium Blend Irish Whiskey, Fercullen 10-Year-Old Single Grain Whiskey and Fercullen 14-Year-Old Single Malt Whiskey all come from the new Powerscourt Distillery; Teeling has a number of interesting whiskies, and there are always old favourites like Red Breast and Green Spot. Check out Mitchell's, the Celtic Whiskey Shop and top independents.
Mas La Plana 2015
€67, 14pc, from The Corkscrew, Dublin; La Touche, Greystones; Brown Thomas nationwide
Made from 100pc Cabernet Sauvignon, this iconic wine has an abundance of ripe berries and forest fruits with a touch of violet. Vibrant and sappy, this is beautiful to drink now, and even more spectacular if you allow it to age a few years.
Crozes-Hermitage "La Guiraude" 2015, Domaine Alain Graillot
€49, 13pc, from Green Man Wine, Ely 64 Wine and Sommelier in Your Pocket siyps.com
A 100pc Syrah from the Northern Rhone, this is a structured wine with smoky, dark fruit, olives and meaty flavours of charcuterie, savoury spice and liquorice.
Château Phélan Ségur 2012, Cru Bourgeois
€56, 13.5pc, from O'Briens
A Wine Geese Bordeaux from Saint Estèphe, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc has classic dark fruit flavours with supple blackberries, a touch of cedar and a good tannic backbone. Great with a charred rare steak.