The Winebuff Blog

Clear as Clairet

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine Arrivals

You may have encountered the term Claret and wondered what it is? After all, there is no grape variety called claret. The term can be traced back to medieval times and has evolved in its meaning through the centuries. However one thing is certain, it’s deeply rooted in Bordeaux.

The term Claret comes from Clairet which means clear, and Clairet is a French type of wine much loved in medieval times but  rarely seen in the modern era, in fact when Eleanor of Aquitaine’s married Henry Plantagenet of England in the 13th century. Eleanor brought with her a taste for these wines and very soon galleons were shipping loads across the Channel to satisfy the great English demand. So originally all Clarets were Clairets, any clearer?

The Clariet is a peculiar dark rose and over time the English word Claret was used to describe Bordeaux wine that had been spiced, eventually the term Claret was used to describe any wine red wine from Bordeaux.

So what is Clairet wine like? Well is a deep dark rose colour, made from the same grapes as the reds of Bordeaux, the grape juice is left lie on the skins for at least two days if not more, rose wine just sits in the grape skins for a few hours. It is silky smooth, smells of ripe rich fruit and has a big fruit finish.

If you would like to try some we have a batch in from Chateau Haut Maurin, a wine from the past well worth a taste. But the most important question is, do you like it as much as we do? Let us know using the comments box below or drop a comment on face book.

Chateau Haut Maurin Clairet

Chateau Haut Maurin Bordeaux Clairet – A bouquet of ripe strawberries and  blackcurrants. In the mouth it’s velvety, rich, round and silky with a great full finish, for €12.95.

Blooming Wines

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine & Festivals

Bloomsday 2014 has only finished, which saw the streets of Dublin awash with fantastic period costumes from circa 1904. The men dressed up as either Joyce himself (round specs, cane, hat and braces) or as Bloom (who in the novel was going to a funeral to therefore a black suit). The women were again out in force with ruffled blouses, parasols, skirts and shawls.

Bloomsday Wines

This year The Wine Buff Sandycove (set in the heart of it all, the James Joyce museum is located around the corner at the Tower in Sandycove where the book begins) teamed up with some local hostelries to quench the thirst of the festival goers with a James Joyce wine experience. A Ulysses Red wine and White wine were bottled and shipped into Ireland especially for the event. There are still a few available at Fitzgeralds in Sandycove, The Eagle House in Glasthule and The Palace Bar, Fleet Street so pop in for a taste.

The James Joyce Centre are already looking for ideas and suggestions for the 2015 festival so if you have any you can get in touch with them at

From the fields of Burgundy

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine Reviews

Although one must never count one’s chickens before they’re hatched, the start of the 2014 growth cycle was pretty positive in the Bourgogne winegrowing region. After a fairly early budbreak, the vines flowered from the end of May to early June, in perfect health and ideal weather conditions.

the wine buff burgundy vine

The first flowers appeared on the earliest vines on 22 May. Thanks to the sunny weather, high temperatures and some necessary rainfall, flowering went off without a hitch.

The warm sunny weather during early June helped move things along. Flowering finished mid-June on most plots, from Chablis to the Mâconnais. The slowest sectors like the Hautes Côtes saw their last flowers blossom the following week.

The weather continued to be favourable, and fruit set followed, as bunches of small green berries from 2-4mm in diameter formed.

Flowering in 2014 was one of the earliest in the last two decades, with a head start of between a few days and a week compared to the average, and three weeks ahead of 2013.

The 2014 vintage is looking like a generous one, and the vines are satisfactorily healthy. Fingers crossed that it lasts.

To view the full life cycle of a burgundy vine, take a look at these photos.


Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine Offers

Sparkling, Frizzante, Bubbly, Spumante, Champagne, Cremant, the wine business is full of terminology that can be confusing to the wine drinker, for example the Italians refer to slightly sparkling wine as frizzante wines, in Spain, these are locally known as Vino de Aguja, the French term is Petillant and the German Perlwein.

So let’s clear away the haze of bubbles and offer some explanation. In the last few years Frizzante wines have become very popular in Ireland, these wines have very small fine bubbles that offer a refreshing tingle rather then a fizzy mouthful. They are sometimes referred to as semi-sparkling wines compared to champagne or spumante and are a great alternative for weddings, parties, sunny barbecues and celebrations.

Although there are many different types of semi – sparkling Frizzante wines, Prosecco, Lambrusco, Vino Verde, and Moscato d’Asti are among the most common, Prosecco Frizzante is now one of our most popular wines in the Wine Buff shops.

Moscato d’Asti is a Frizzante wine from the soft pressing of the Moscato Bianco grape in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is often served as a dessert wine, but great as aperitif.  We have a classic example of this in store from Montaribaldi.

The Wine Buff Montaribaldi

Monraibaldi Moscato d’Asti Righey, rich and intense with scents of rosemary, honey and orange blossom, available in our shops for €16.95.

Many of our customers who visit the west of Portugal often ask us about Vinho Verde, although the name literally means “green wine,” it refers to the fact that the wine should be enjoyed while it is still young. These wines have a slight fizz and are great with seafood.

On offer in our shops we have a wonderful Frizzante from the La Mancha region of Spain. This wine loves summer and is great for parties and enjoying with summer evenings.

The Wine Buff Vidal del Saz

Buyante Frizzante, Airen – Moscatel.  A delicious lightly sparkling wine, packed with floral aromas and fruit flavours of peach and mango, now on offer from €12.45 to €9.99.

Another Day – Another Four New Wines

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine Arrivals


Hot on the heels of our recent arrivals from Diemersdal in South Africa we have a batch of new wines arriving from Swartland. That’s right yet another South African region, just 30 miles north of Capetown and now ranking as the Cape’s most exciting wine producing district.

Swart is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘black’. After the Cape rains, mostly during the winter, the Renoster Bos (Rhinocerus Bush) takes on a dark appearance and when viewed for a distance the landscape looks almost black.

Wine had been produced here for centuries but over the past two decades the region has grown tremendously in importance and complexity. Seems the winery was first established after a few local growers decided to get together, I presume over a few bottles of wine. The result? Four great new wines available in The Wine Buff shops nationwide.

Swartland d'vine white

Swartland d’vine Chenin Blanc – Sauvignon Blanc, ripe flavours perfectly balanced by a frisky dry finish and lingering citrus freshness, for €11.95.

Swartland d'vine red

Swartland d’vine Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot, medium to full bodied, fruity with a hint of spice. In the mouth it is rich with ripe plumminess and a hint of blackberry. Smooth finish, for €11.95.

swartland winery chein blanc

Swartland Winemakers Choice Chenin Blanc, typical tropical guava flavours supported by passion fruit and underlying citrus blossom flavours. The wine is full and rich on the palate with a crisp finish, for €13.95.

swrtland winery pinotage

Swartland Winemakers Choice Pinotage, a wine with a deep ruby red colour and flavours of ripe red fruits with hints of strawberry, for €13.95.

Rosette of Lamb and wine of course

Written by Mike McDonnell in: Wine & Food


Easter Sunday is the perfect excuse for a festive roast dinner and lamb is one of the many dishes we are planning in the kitchen over Easter. After all lamb symbolises celebration and springtime, and the best fresh lamb is in season at this time of year, so no excuses.

The Wine Buff lamb recipe


1 shoulder of lamb, boneless, 1.5kg
1 red pepper
1 celeriac
1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
4 medium potatoes
salt and pepper

for the marinade

½ cup of red wine
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp. of olive oil
1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

To make the marinade mix all ingredients above and cover with foil for about two hours or in the fridge for as long as 12 hours.

for the stuffing

4 cloves of garlic
125g of feta cheese
3 tbsp. of olive oil
1 tbsp. of milk

Preheat the oven to 180°c

To make the stuffing wrap four unpeeled cloves of garlic and a dash of olive oil in foil and leave in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the garlic and squeeze the now soft garlic into a bowl, add the feta cheese and a tablespoon of milk, some pepper, mix until creamy.

Remove the ties from the lamb and roll the lamb out on the work surface. Place red pepper strips down the middle of the lamb, add basil leaves on top and the feta mixture on top of the basil. Fold the edges of the meat, roll the lamb to form a rosette shape and tie three times.

Place in a roasting dish, set the oven to 240°c and place the lamb in the oven for 15 mins, remove the lamb, pour the marinade over the meat and place back in the oven for 40 minutes at 180°c. This will give you a juicy pink roast for well done leave in the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and cover loosely with foil, let sit for 10 mins so the juices flow through the meat.

for the jus

6 tbsp. of finely copped onion

1 chopped clove of garlic
1 tbsp. of chopped rosemary
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup of chicken stock
2 tbsp. of butter
1/2 glass of red wine

Sauté onions on the pan until they become clear, add the remainder of the ingredients hold back on the butter and reduce to 1/3, remove from heat stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.

celeriac potato

Cut the celeriac into pieces the same size as your peeled potato pieces. Place the potato and celeriac into a pot with water, season with salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until cooked through. Drain well, add the butter and two tablespoons of crème fraiche. Season with salt, pepper and mash well to a smooth texture.

Mike’s Wine match

Lamb and Bordeaux have a long history together and this recipe pairs superbly with Domaine La Tuque Bel-Air from Cotes de Castillon which is now one of the most fashionable of all the Bordeaux wine growing satellites. The fat of the lamb combines so well with the tannin in the wine that it releases a combined heady mix of deep rich flavours. It may not be the equivalent of 20 years in a cool dark cellar, but wines and foods that are thoughtfully matched can unlock hidden qualities in each other and this match sure does deliver. Currently available in our shops reduced from €17.95 to €13.99 (while stocks last).

April Fool….NOT!

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine Offers

The Wine Buff Easter Wine Offer

You will rarely see great Bordeaux white from an artisan producer for under €10.

Jacques de Chevillard has been supplying The Wine Buff since we opened our first shop in Limerick way back in 2000 and we have secured a few cases of the Marquis de Beaulieu which we are offering at just €9.99. It is likely to be snapped up pretty quickly so if you would like some, please see us soon.

We also have a few cases of Domaine Tuque Bel-Air from Jean Pierre Lavau,  another one of our original suppliers, Jean Pierre is more renowned for his St Emilion Grand Cru “Ch Petit Fombrauge”, the Domaine La Tuque Bel-Air is his prestige wine from the vineyard in the Cote de Castillon region. which neighbours St Emilion.

These wines are not available online, but you can buy in any of the Wine Buff shops or email/phone one of the shops and they will look after your order.  


The La Tuque Bel-Air is an excellent red from the vineyards of the Côtes de Castillon in Bordeaux. Made from a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet. Fleshy and rich with soft tannins, the wine boasts a deep ruby/purple colour along with sweet blackcurrant fruit intermixed with notes of tobacco and new oak. Available at €13.99 while stocks last.

The Marquis de Beaulieu is a deliciously refreshing Sauvignon Balnc white wine, offering a wonderful bouquet and a mouthful of fresh fruits with a refreshing finish.  It can be enjoyed on its own or with any white meats, fish or shellfish dishes. Available at €9.99 while stocks last.

A Year in Montaribaldi

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine Stories

The Taliano family who own Montaribaldi have been making wines since 1968 and are proud caretakers of their lands in the heart of Barbaresco. The family is committed to producing wine using Integrated farming methods, in short this means using agricultural and biological methods rather than chemicals to deal with disease and pests, only treating the vines when and where it is necessary, maintaining the local flora and fauna of the area which assists in the biological diversity of the vine growing eco system and ensuring sustainable production of high quality, healthy grapes.

Wine making is not just about growing grapes, it encompasses a large diversity of activities from sales trips, wine tastings, vineyard visits, celebrations and much more. To have a quick insight into a year in Montaribaldi take a look at their 2103 video.

Luciano and his team are currently out pruning the vines, this is a skilled process as the pruners have to know how to choose the best branches which will deliver not only the best 2014 yield but also the best yields for years to come. You can read more about their work at “Pruning in Montaribaldi”

Guinea Pig Tasting

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine & Festivals

A big thank you to everyone who visited us at Electric Picnic 2013, again this year we hosted the Guinea Pig club tasting for The Food & Wine Magazine and as always it was a great fun event. A big thanks to Aoife Carrigy who guided the festival goers through the wines, no mean feat with all the distractions and banter that is part and parcel of Electric Picnic every year.

Wines to fall for this Autumn

Written by The Wine Buff in: Wine & Food

Autumn is about falling leaves, shortening days, slightly chillier nights and warm evening fires. Just as we dress seasonally, we tend to eat and drink seasonally and at this time of year we revert back to our comfort wholesome foods of game, roasts and stews.

The summer is a little hot for the big, juicy, spicy style reds and autumn allows us to ease back gently into these wine styles, but it’s still a wee bit early to be diving into the big boys of heavy brooding dark reds like oaked shiraz and grenache.

In autumn medium bodied wines with aromas of wood, tobacco and pepper are the perfect follow on from the bright and fruity summer reds and a perfect gradual introduction to the heavier styles suited to cold November and December evenings in front of the fire.

It’s the perfect time of year to try a Montelpulciano d’Abruzzo from the central slopes of Italy, these wines are full of rustic charm and stewed fruit, great with grilled meat and roast chicken.

Arboreto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, highly aromatic with earthy notes and black berries, has an inky-purple colour with a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel, for €10.99.

A red wine partnered with October is wine from the Piedmonte region in Italy the world renowned truffle region celebrates October with a bang, try a Barbara d’Alba or d’Asti to match your rich mushroom infused dishes or if your lucky enough your fresh white truffle.

Montaribaldi Barbera d’Asti, ruby red with violet tints, with a complex balance of plum, cherry and blackcurrant at €15.95

While spring and summer whites are fresh, zesty and zingy, autumn whites take on a more serious note of oak and complexity. An oaked chardonnay from the Languedoc in France or the valleys of Chile are perfect autumnal wines with vanilla aromas, golden hues and rich fruit.

Rawen Reserva Chardonnay, a richly coloured white wine with aromas of banana, vanilla and a hint of pineapple, great depth of flavour on the palate at €12.95.

St Jean du Noviciat Chardonnay, ripe fruits on the nose with a touch of creamy vanilla. Big on fruit with a delicious oak and pepper finish at €16.95