MOVIES & BOOZE: Perfect winter wines

Jean Smullen reviews 2017 Kaiken Terroir Series Vistaflores Malbec and Taylor’s Limited Edition Reserve Tawny

Today is the Winter Solstice and according to the Meteorologists, winter officially begins today!  That said it is also the shortest day of the year and of course the last Friday before the Christmas holidays.  

At this time of year we tend to hibernate and feast and on Movies & Booze today we are going to feature two treat wines that are perfect for winter days.  An Award winning Malbec from Argentina and a “treat” wine a wonderful Tawny Port that just tastes of Christmas!


2017 Kaiken Terroir Series Vistaflores Malbec €20.00

Available from Independent Off Licences, Nationwide

The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) organises its annual Irish Wine Show Star Awards.  Now in its eighteenth year, this year 45 wines were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze stars.  The winning are available to consumers all over the country in NOffLA outlets and they have a great booklet called The Irish Wine Show Star Award Winners 2018-2019 which has great information about all the wines.  You can pick one up in any of the 315 independent off licences nationwide. The chosen are recognisable by distinctive Award symbols on each bottle.   The Irish Wine Show Star Awards 2018-2019 Collection is an  ideal Christmas gifts and is available in a variety of special gift packs so look out for them this weekend.

This Argentine red was voted “Wine of the Year 2018-2019” by the tasting panel made up of Noffla judges and independent wine journalists who tasted 600 wines.  Points were awarded on the basis of appearance, smell, taste and value for money.  15 Gold Medal wines were selected from key suppliers across a number of price categories.   The Wine of the Year, i.e. the best of the 600 wines that day is 2017 Kaiken Terroir Series Vistaflores Malbec/Bonarda/Petit Verdot.

This wow of a wine is made from a blend of 80% Malbec, 12% Bonarda and 8% Petit Verdot. 

Argentine Bonarda originated originally in Savoie in France, Bonarda has tons of fruit, lots of plummy fruit flavours with medium body. It is a low tannin grape with a lovely belt of acidity in it.  Petit Verdot was traditionally a blending grape from Bordeaux.  A late ripener it has blueberry flavours and a good wedge of tannin.  Argentine Malbec is currently is one of THE  most fashionable red grape varieties.  The grape is native to south west France but has found its natural home in the high altitude vineyards of Mendoza,  Argentina’s premium wine region.  Malbec is usually low in acidity, high in tannins and has an inky-black color. Aromas and flavors of red plums, black currants and dried cherries are common.

Although Argentina has a continential climate there is key factors that adds to the quality of the grapes grown there and that is altitude!  The vineyards in Mendoza vary from 600 meters to 1,500 meters above sea level, which means the higher the altitude gives cool nights.  With warm days to ripen the grapes to maximum ripeness,  at night, when its cooler the grapes cool down creating  the perfect scenario for fresher more complex fruit with a bit of an edge.

This is a complex but completely delicious wine Malbec, it doesn’t have aggressive tannins so it will work with goose or duck if you are having an alternative Christmas dinner.  For those of you who love the dark meat on the turkey, it will also work well with that too!

Tasting Note from panel:  “Cherries and woodsmoke, poised and elegant”


Taylor’s Limited Edition Reserve Tawny  Port €55.00

Stockists: Independent stores national wide

A classic winter wine styles, long associated with the festive season is a fortified wine styles.  Fortified wines are wines to which extra alcohol has been added during their production.  There are two different reasons for doing this and Port illustrates one of them.  In Port production, alcohol is added during fermentation while quite a lot of the grape sugar still remains in the juice.  This dose of spirit kills the yeasts, stops the fermentations and so the wine retains some of the natural sugar.  The wine is sweet, tastes of spirit and needs a few years in oak barrels to soften and mature. 

Established in 1692 Taylor’s is one of the oldest of the Port houses. They are based in Oporto and their vineyards are all in the Douro Valley.  

The limited edition is bottles in a traditional 18th century bulbous bottle.  Traditionally the bottles were hand blown but could not be laid on their side and were not suitable for long term ageing.  Instead they were used mainly to transport the wine from the wine merchant’s cask to the consumer’s table.  The bottles were expensive to produce and were often re-used.  They usually had the family crest or the initials of the owner embossed on the bottle.

This bladder shaped wine bottle was traditionally made in England from 1715 to 1740.  Like this limited edition bottle, traditionally they held a litre of wine. The blend for this wine was carefully put together from specially selected Ports from Taylor’s extensive aged Tawny stocks.  The wine is aged in seasoned oak Port pipes.

  • Tawny Port is blended from wines destined for 10, 20, 30 & 40-Year Old Tawnies
  • Limited Edition - now is the only time this blend will be available
  • Commemorative, early 18th Century style bottle with handsome wood case

This wine has a beautifully mature and complex nose, full of evocative, subtle nuances. Aromas of plum, fig and raisin blend with a mellow redolence of marzipan and butterscotch. Hints of cigar box,

cedarwood and leather add an exotic dimension to the nose. The wine has beautifully integrated tannins and rich, fruit cake flavours (think Christmas pudding).

This would be perfect with any sort of dessert made with coffee or caramel, but especially with  crème brûlée. It can also be served at the end of the meal with walnuts or fruit cake.


Flavours of New Zealand Monday 14th January, 2019

New Zealand Winegrowers will host its 22nd tasting of New Zealand wines in Ireland in January 2019.  The consumer tickets are now on sale.   This is one of the most popular consumer wine events and is a great way to start the wine New Year! A great idea as a Christmas stocking filler for the wine enthusiast in your life.


FLAVOURS OF NEW ZEALAND - DUBLIN 2019   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm 

Monday 14th January, 2019   Venue:  Radisson Blu, Golden Lane, Dublin 8.

Tickets are now on sale price €15.00. 


Dublin Consumer masterclass 07:00 - 07:30 : (Tickets also available on the link below price €5)

The New Zealand Wine Trail

John Wilson will lead you on a road trip around New Zealand wine regions to highlight the diverse array of styles being produced today.

To purchase tickets you can use the following methods:

To purchase a ticket to the 2019 New Zealand event CLICK HERE 

Or contact Jean Smullen in Dublin. Email:  Telephone (086) 816 8468 

More details of wine events in the wine diary