NOffLA news: October 2017

Peter Aherne of Galvins Carry Out in Carrigaline, Co. Cork
Peter Aherne of Galvins Carry Out in Carrigaline, Co. Cork

A round-up of news from the National Off-Licence Association, including a full report on the recent Champagne Academy Tasting and a tempting 'My Favourite from Peter Aherne of Galvins in Carrigaline, Co. Cork



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19 October 2017

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My favourite…

In our monthly column outlining members’ favourite tipples, NOffLA members share their expertise on the brands that excite their palates. This month, Peter Aherne of Galvins Carry Out in Carrigaline, Co. Cork, highlights his favourite picks

Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I saw many changes occur in Ireland and in particular in Cork and one thing that I look back on now was the minute choice available to wine drinkers. Wines such as Hock and Liebfraumilch, with familiar labels such as Blue Nun and Black Tower (a favourite of my grandmother’s, of which I would from time to time dare to take a sip) among the bestsellers. Nowadays we do not realise how lucky we are not being a wine growing nation. It is thanks to this that we have come to import varieties from all over the world. Instead of isolating ourselves with our own varieties of wine, we have been allowed to open our doors to the world of wines.

To say I have one favourite wine might be a disservice to all the other fantastic wines that I have tried and the many others I still hope to. So to choose a favourite wine; for me it has to stand out in more than just taste, body and smell. What makes a favourite wine for me is a wine that combines memories and conjures up moments of happiness, special moments with my family and also moments of being young and adventurous and heading off to Italy and making friends, dinner around the table with the Nonna (Granny) at the head of the table and being swamped by several courses of homemade Italian food, simply to find yet another course has still to make it to the table. Of course there was a bottle or two of red wine at the table to help wash this down. The wine I have chosen to highlight on this occasion is Ripasso.

Ripasso is a marvelous wine which hails from the Veneto region of Italy. It is made using the remains of the pressed dried grapes (Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara) for the Amarone wines with Valpolicella to cause a second fermentation of Valpolicella. This adds an extra oomph and complexity to the wine. It is said that it is rich with dried fruit, cherry and plum flavours. It is a robust wine, deep ruby in colour, but you don’t need to know all this. All you need to do is enjoy it and most of all savour this moment with your friends and family. You might also like to try it with stews and braised/grilled meats and strong cheese. And if this wine is not to your taste then find another to mingle with your memories; we are fortunate to live in a country that imports from all around the world.

Reggie Walsh (NOffLA) and Patricia Callan (ABFI)

Reggie Walsh (NOffLA) and Patricia Callan (ABFI)

Strong result for Champagne Academy tasting

The association’s recent Champagne Academy press-only tasting event was a notable success, after getting off to a fizzing start! NOffLA retailers who are members of the Champagne Academy manned the various tasting stations in order to brief everyone on the array of house styles. The servers were:

Evelyn Jones, The Vintry, Rathgar

Tom Deveney, Deveney’s of Dundrum

Julie Cullen, Jus de Vine, Portmarnock

Cathal McHugh, McHugh’s Off-Licence, Kilbarrack and Malahide Road

Lynne Coyle MW, O’Briens Wines & Spirits

Jimmy Redmond, Redmond’s of Ranelagh

John Shiel, Shiel’s Londis, Malahide

Left to right: Brendan Doyle (Febvre Wines) and Reggie Walsh (NOffLA)

Left to right: Brendan Doyle (Febvre Wines) and Reggie Walsh (NOffLA)

The Annual Wine Report, outlined in full overleaf, was launched at this event, and members of the press in attendance were fully briefed on the double taxation of champagne and the excessive excise applied to wine.

Indeed, the event was attended by a number of well-known wine journalists who appreciated tasting the current vintages. In particular, there was a highly positive response to the quality on display this year, with an interesting discussion ensuing. It was great to see how educated our wine writers are becoming regarding the various vintages and their unique tastes through tasting these wines year-on-year. 2017 marks the fourth year of the prestigious event.

Left to right: Peter McCann (The Merrion Hotel), Mal Deveney (Champagne Academy) and Jonathan McDade (IBEC)

Left to right: Peter McCann (The Merrion Hotel), Mal Deveney (Champagne Academy) and Jonathan McDade (IBEC)

NOffLA would like to extend our appreciation to all members who participated and performed a superb job at their various stations. Julie Cullen (Jus de Vine) was responsible for briefing and pouring the Veuve Clicquot, Lanson and La Grande Dame vintage wines, Cathal McHugh (McHugh Group) covered the Hiedsieck, Louis Roderer, Don Perignon and Moet wines. Ruinart was poured by Evelyn Jones (The Vintry) along with GH Mumm and Pol Roger. Krug, Laurent Perrier, Piper Heidsieck were poured by John Shiel (Londis Malahide). Tom Deveney poured the Bollinger and Pommery Cuvee Apanage and Jimmy Redmond poured the Taittenger and Perrier Jouet and Charles Heidsieck.

Irish consumers continue to pay the highest rate of excise on wine in the EU

Irish consumers continue to pay the highest rate of excise on wine in the EU

Irish wine industry facing ‘perfect storm’

EU’s highest excise rate and impact of Brexit – new report

The Irish Wine Association recently launched the Irish Wine Market Report 2016, calling for an alcohol excise reduction in the upcoming Budget, stating that Ireland’s penal excise rate is bad for jobs, consumers and tourism. The Irish government has increased excise on wine by 62% since 2012. These increases introduced during the financial crisis as an emergency measure have created significant cash-flow issues for distributors and importers, as many have to pay excise as an upfront cost. Irish wine importers and distributors are now paying €38,240 upfront, on excise per 1,000 cases when they are imported.

The report also notes the negative impact of Brexit on the industry must be considered by the government in Budget 2018. In particular, the weak Sterling which is driving cross border shopping and has already led to a noticeable decline of British tourists visiting Ireland this year. The implications of Brexit and Ireland’s penal excise rate have created the ‘perfect storm’ for Ireland’s wine industry.

Speaking at the launch of the report, chair of the Irish Wine Association, Jim Bradley said Ireland’s wine industry is facing uncertainty. The implications of Brexit and the looming threat of an excise increase in Budget 2018 will put jobs, growth and investment under threat. The uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations has resulted in the falling value of Sterling which is likely to drive cross-border shopping and has already seen a fall in the number of British tourists visiting Ireland.

Despite this uncertainty and these challenges, the wine industry continues to employ over 1,100 people directly, while supporting thousands of other jobs in Ireland’s 13,000 restaurants, pubs, independent off-licences and hotels that sell wine. In 2016 sales of 9 litre cases increased to just over 9 million, up from 8.56 million cases in 2015. Over the coming years the industry will struggle to perform and provide the €380 million it paid in excise to the Exchequer in 2016, unless the government takes immediate action to reduce excise rates.

Irish consumers continue to pay the highest rate of excise on wine in the EU and since 2012 the government has subjected the sector to penal excise increases of 62%. While 14 EU countries pay no excise on wine, the excise rate in Ireland equates to €3.19 for a €9 bottle. This is 64 cent more expensive than Finland, the second most expensive country in the EU.

In light of this stark reality, it is imperative that the government decreases the rate of excise on wine in order to alleviate the risks associated with the impact of Brexit. The benefits of an excise decrease will not only benefit consumers but it will protect and create jobs in the tourism, retail and hospitality trade.

The report shows that Chile is the number one country of origin for Irish wine drinkers with Australia, France and Spain coming in as the next three most popular. Wine is Ireland’s second most popular alcoholic beverage after beer; market share for wine increased slightly from 27.7% in 2015 to 27.8% in 2016. Ireland’s most popular wine type was white wine.

Dates for your diary: Craft beer and cider training

Craft beer and cider are experiencing unprecedented growth in Ireland. NOffLA is subsequently spearheading an exciting and innovative Craft Beer and Cider Training Programme.

This training programme is designed specifically for people working in the retail licensed trade in Ireland. It will provide frontline retail staff and retail managers with the skills and knowledge to position their business as an authoritative destination for craft beer and cider consumers in Ireland.

NOffLA approached Dean McGuinness (Twitter – @BeerMessiah) from Premier International Beers to develop a multi-level craft beer and cider training programme. As Ireland’s longest established importer of premium and craft beers, Premier has delivered various training initiatives over the last 30 years.

Dean McGuinness is Ireland’s foremost authority on craft beer – a qualified beer sommelier, a beer importer who has worked with the world’s leading brewers of premium and craft beer and a brewer with 15 years’ experience trained in the Siebel Institute in Chicago (the oldest brewing school in the U.S.), Dean has been talking about craft beer on Irish media for over a decade.

With his team (which includes more than 25% of Ireland’s beer sommeliers), they are perfectly

positioned to deliver a training programme that will meet the needs of people seeking to

understand craft beer and cider and to explain beers and ciders to their customers.

Course dates

Craft Beer Level 1 training took place in Nenagh on 25 September 2017 and in Dublin on Monday, 2 October at the Maldron Hotel, Pearse Street.

Level 1 training will also take place on 6 November in the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs in Cork city.

Level 2 training will take place on 16 and 17 October in Dublin’s Maldron Hotel on Pearse Street. Applicants who would like to participate, can register at

Sneak peek: SIP Drinks 2017

The inaugural SIP Drinks show took place on Monday, 9 October at The Morrison Hotel in Dublin 1. In next month’s issue we will bring you full details of the event, and all the award winners and news from the night.

NOffLA contacts

If you have any queries regarding NOffLA membership or services, please contact our administrator, Reggie Walsh, at Block D, Unit 6, Nutgrove Office Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, by telephone on 01 – 296 2326, by fax on

01 – 296 2451 or by email at

The NOffLA website can be found at





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