Take it from the experts: four wines chosen by award-winning retailers

This week’s wines were selected by four National Off-Licence Association award winners

The overall winner of the highly sought-after Off-licence of the Year title at the recent National Off-licence Association awards was Jus de Vine in Portmarnock, Co Dublin. This is the fourth time this shop, run by Paul McKenna, Julie Cullen and her father, Tommy, has taken the top award.

The trio were visibly pleased on the night. “We consider these awards to be the Oscars of the trade and are thrilled and honoured to be this year’s recipient,” Tommy said. “We are always trying to make improvements and make a big effort every year. Standing still is going backwards. This competition keeps us on our toes.”

For those who haven’t visited the shop, it has one of the finest collections of craft beer, spirits and wine, including an amazing selection of mature fine wine. Service is friendly and expert yet very down to earth. Prices are equally friendly.

For the second year in a row, Daly’s Drinks in Boyle picked up the award for best off-licence in Connacht and Ulster. This very attractive shop, along with the pub next door, is run by Ger Daly and her daughter, Sarah-Jane.


“You have to put a lot of background work in, but it is starting to make a real difference. We are in a small town, and the local community are great, we support each other in so many ways. It is all about giving back.”

This is one of the few off-licences that allows you to buy a can of craft beer or a bottle of wine and bring it into the pub next door. The original founder, Paddy Daly, passed away last year aged 96.

The Wine Specialist of the Year award went to Mitchell & Son in CHQ in Dublin. This branch opened in 2008, when Mitchells moved out of 21 Kildare Street, a site they had occupied for nearly 100 years. “It had a good corporate client base, and this has grown, with a lot more offices and apartments since,” says Robert Mitchell. “Compared to our other branches, it is more Monday to Friday [trade], with young professionals from tech and banking who work in the area.”

The off-licences and wine shops are judged on a wide range of criteria, including appearance, hygiene, responsible trading, product knowledge, atmosphere and of course, their range of drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Each year an anonymous “mystery shopper” pays a visit.

Given the battering the independent sector has taken from the multiples in recent years, it is heartening to see there are still plenty of quality retailers. It is quite possible that the new alcohol regulations, when they are finally introduced, may help this sector. In the meantime they deserve our support. This week’s wines were chosen by four of the winners.

Monte del Fra Custoza 2018, 12.5%, €14-€16
Nominated by Daly's in Boyle. This is a very seductive refreshing light white wine, with floral aromas and clean pear and lemon fruits, finishing dry. Try it with creamy pasta dishes, or as an aperitif. 
Stockists: Daly's, Boyle; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Grape & Grain, Leopardstown, Co Dublin, leopardstowninn.ie; Hargadon Brothers, Sligo, hargadons.com

Ademán Carabizal Roble Toro 2018, 14.5%, €17.95 
This Toro, suggested by Mitchell & Son, is rich and full-bodied with swarthy smooth ripe fruits with a sprinkling of toasty spice. This calls out for something substantial; a steak or beef casserole. 
Stockists: Mitchell & Son, CHQ, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny, thewinecentre.ie; The Wine House, Trim; Wilde & Green, Dublin 6, wildeandgreen.com

Rioja Reserva 2014, La Rioja Alta, Alberdi, 13.5%, €19.99
This excellent, classic Rioja Reserva is on special offer in Jus de Vine (it is €24 elsewhere). Rich black cherry fruits overlaid with gentle vanilla spice and a long sweet finish. Perfect with roast lamb.  
Stockists: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Wines on the Green, Dublin 2, celticwhiskeyshop.com; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie; Gibney's, Malahide, gibneys.com; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie; Deveney's, Dundrum; Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; Whelehan's Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie

Château Guinot 2011, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, 13.5%, €24.95 
Recommended by Mark Tormey of the Wine Centre, Kilkenny, winner of the Leinster Off-Licence of the Year. A very tasty Bordeaux with concentrated dark fruits and well-integrated tannins coming through on the lengthy finish. Drink it with a roast of beef.  
Stockists: The Wine Centre, Kilkenny, thewinecentre.ie