MOVIES & BOOZE: Fancy a drink this weekend?

Wine expert Jean Smullen on winter wines...

Jean Smullen reviews a number of cosy wines as the cold weather approaches...

Today we are going to look at two “winter wines”. Now that the evenings are drawing in and there is a definite chill in the air we start to drink more full bodied red wine styles. The two reds we are going to look at today are big wines, but with oodles of class.

2014 Familia Castaño, Hécula Monastrell (14% ABV) €14.99

Stockists: Available in NOffLA member outlets, of which there are more than 315 nationwide

This is a Spanish red from the DO Yecla that just oozes class and at €15 punches WAY above its weight. It is also the National Off Licence Association (NOffLA) Wine of the Year 2016/2017.
The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Star Awards to a total of 45 wines at the The Irish Wine Show Awards ceremony which took place on Monday, 10th October. Now in its sixteenth year, in excess of 600 wines were submitted to The Irish Wine Show Star Award adjudication panel of NOffLA judges and independent wine writers.

The autonomous region of Murica is located in the South East of the Iberian Peninsula. It occupied a strategic position along the Spanish Mediterranean coast with 176 kilometres of coastline. It is situtated in that section of Spain know generically as El Levante "the East". The region of Murcia has a semi-arid Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and short mild winters. There are three DO's in Murcia, DO Jumilla, DO Yecla and DO Bullas.

From a winemaking perspective, Murica used to be yet another bulk wine making region, phylloxeria hit in the 1980’s and the region underwent enormous change. The main grape variety here is Monastrell (in France, this variety is known as Mourvédre). Murica went through a re-birth in terms of how wine is made in the region and it is now one of the more exciting wine producing regions of Spain.

The Castaño family re-developed their vineyards in the 1990’s. Working with an Australian flying wine maker they started to blend in some French grapes to their Monastrell. The result in 2002 was 93 Parker Points for a Hécula Monastrell /Shiraz blend which put both the winery and the region on the map. They never really looked back after that and are now one of the best know quality wine producers from the DO Yecla.

The 2014 Hecula is made from 100% Monastrell, old bush vine grapes grown on sandy soil in the Yecla DO. It has been barrel aged for 6 months in oak barrels (80% French 20% American oak). The French oak tends to make for a more robust wine. Monastrell tends to produce wines that are quite tannic and high in alcohol. The Gold Star Taster wrote “The perfect expression of sunny Spain in a glass – ripe blueberries, black raspberries and rich liquorice tinted dark fruits. Elegant, full-flavoured and complex”.

2014 Predator Old Vine Zinfandel (14% ABV) €25.99


This is another blockbuster red wine from one of the best know regions in California for the Zinfandel grape Lodi. The wine is made by the Rutherford Wine Company whose portfolio includes includes Rutherford Ranch Winery, Scott Family Estate, Predator Wines, Lander-Jenkins Wines, Rhiannon, Silver Buckle and Round Hill. Rutherford Ranch Winery was named 'Napa Winery of the Year' at the 2013 New York International Wine Competition.

The Lodi appellation in California's Central Valley, is known for its legendary "Old Vine" Zinfandels. Ideally situated between the Sierra Foothills and the San Francisco Bay Delta, Lodi benefits from cool afternoon and evening breezes, producing world-renowned Zinfandel. Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California. While often used for White Zinfandel production, in the red style, Lodi Zinfandels have a reputation for being juicy and approachable.

Zinfandel originated in Croatia, DNA testing have found that it is genetically Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag, the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Apulia is also the same grape. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, where it became known as Zinfandel.

Predator Zinfandel is sourced from 50+year old vines that produce rich and intensely flavored fruit. The resulting wine is big and bold with hallmark "old vine" velvety texture, spice and vibrant varietal flavors. These 50+ year old vines produce fruit that is very concentrated and complex. Great fruit-forward flavors of black cherries and raspberries, with aromas of spice, espresso, and bacon fat. A real “chewy” wine…perfect with venison stew.

The 2014 Predator is made from 100% Zinfandel which has been aged in French and American oak.


Wed 26th October, 2016 @ On the Grapevine, Dalkey Time: 19:00 – 21:00

Join Lebanese wine writer and journalist Michael Karam at Ireland’s first tutored tasting of Lebanese wines. The event, part of a global initiative Michael, the author of the award-winning Wines of Lebanon, show Lebanese wines at tastings and dinners in the Far East, the US and Europe over the past two years. The wines will reflect Lebanon’s diversity with some of the most exciting blends on the market, including the ancient and indigenous Obeideh and Lebanon’s first “old vine” Cinsault.

The Lebanese wine event will take place in On the Grapevine, 26 Castle Street, Dalkey.
Tel: (01) 235 3054 E:

Tickets for the tasting are now on sale for €20.00 at On the Grapevine in Dalkey.

Details of wine events on