Chateau Ballan-Larquette, 2014, Vignobles Chaigne et Fils

For the money, an outstanding value claret that sends some of the famed / named houses to Coventry.

Pantone 209 with good legs in the glass, warm nose, wonderful dry mouthfeel, silky firm tannins, lovely aftertaste. Always a pleasure to imbibe a Chaignes creation.


Domaine Filliatreau, 2014, Samur, Champigny

You can taste the soft warm summer evening sun in this delightfully smooth yet earthy Red wine from Samur – which we visited last year. Delicious, lovely fruit, worth seeking out and it blows the myth of boring light Reds from Samur.

Brian and I enjoyed this over dinner after a hard day visiting Powerscourt Waterfall, followed by lunch in Avoca, a drop in to wish the parents a Happy New Year, then to the O’Byrnes to wish Sarah a Happy Birthday, capped with a swift Pint of Guinness in The Tinsel Knacker. The girls had Irish Wolfhound Pale Ale. Phew.

Benziger Family Glen Ellen Winery Tour & Tasting, Sonoma Valley

A very pleasant tour through their “Demeter certified Biodynamic” vineyard and extensive new eco-Cellars. We also witnessed the start of the crush and their new super duper optical grape sorting camera-laser machine.

There is an interesting desplay at the entrance to the vineyard with explains their BioDynamic philosopny which takes an originally organic ethos to a new level through all aspects of the business (

The wines we tasted were:

new 2012 Signaterra “West Rows” Chardonnay

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We tasted this sheltering from the sun under a tree in the vineyard – more like a Sauvignon Blanc than a traditional Oaked Chardonnay, this was a crisp drop with a hint of Melon nose. $32.

2012 Signaterra “La Reyna”Pinot Noir

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Light, cherry fruit with a hint of spice. €49

2011 Oonapais Sonoma Mountain Red

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Names after one of their plots this had tints of Leather and Coffee. $49

2013 Frank Johnson Sauvignon Blanc

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A typical ‘agrume’ Sauvignon Blanc: Lemon, Lime and Apple orchard. $26

2011 Winemaker’s Bend

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A blend of 6 varietals from the various plots, more leather and coffee with a plum nose. Lesley’s favourite. $42

2011 Signaterra “Three Blocks” Cabernet Sauvignon

The star for me: black fruits with a dry finish and great mouthfeel. $49.





Charmes de Kirwan, Margaux, 2007

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Tony & Anne brought this eponymous wine to our Early Valentines dinner with the two AK47’s and their respective Husband & Spouse.

We sampled it two weeks later. This is the second wine of Chateau Kirwan (Some Irish influence through a marriage) itself a third estate of Margaux.

Elegant, well balanced claret,

Charmes de Kirwan 160214 b