Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


 

2013 Spann Vineyards Smoke Vineyard Syrah

Spann Vineyards might be familiar to many of you. We’ve carried many of their wines over the years and, when possible, have tastings with Peter Spann, the winery’s owner when time allows. This month’s offering, his 2013 Syrah is typically only available at the winery, but through a little string pulling (and some begging and pleading), we managed to secure a few cases for you all.

Like so many of Peter’s wines, this is actually a blend, in this case of Syrah and Viognier (95/5%) in the style of the great wines from France’s Cote Rotie region of the Rhone river valley. The Viognier, a white wine, here actually adds color and body to the wine. How does a white wine make red wine darker? When the two grapes are fermented together the white grapes pull more color out of the red resulting in more color and flavor extraction.

I recently asked Peter about his propensity for blends, and why he makes them almost exclusively. “We started our winery during the 2001/2002 recession,” he said.  “The dot-com bust happened, followed by the 9-11 attacks and wine consumption dropped dramatically…Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots [were selling] at half price so we decided it would be foolish to make the same wines that the market already had too much of. Betsy and I grew up on French wines, most of which were blends so we simply made the style of wines we knew and enjoyed.”

(you can check out my full interview with Pete here) 

I highly recommend decanting this bottle for several hours. It’ll bring out the wonderful gamey and earthy aromas that make it so special. When I first began drinking this wine, I was overwhelmed by the “rustic” aromas that came to me: desiccated summer grasses and dried earth. Once it had time to open up it showed the most intriguing aromas of smoke, truffle, and ripe blackberry. For being a Californian wine, the fruit here is decidedly subtle, a fact that makes this stand out among Peter’s other wines.

This is an ideal wine for the grill – I feel like I’ve said that about most of the wines we’ve shared with you this summer, but I think there is no better wine that goes with grilled meat better than Syrah.
If, after you try your bottle, you think you’d like some more for aging (and this could easily age a decade), please let us know. We’ll have a few extra bottles that weren’t allocated to Shamrock Selections, but they won’t last long.

2012 Notre Vin Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon

We just couldn’t let summer end without another rosé. This one, like the Spann Syrah, is a limited release that we’re happy to be able to share with you. A rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, this bottling comes entirely from vineyards on Howell Mountain, one of the most prized growing sites in Napa Valley. It’s rare to see fruit from a site of this renowned being used for rose (with many Howell Mountain Cabernet running north of $100/blt, it’s understandable why many winemakers would choose to focus solely on their red offerings). But not Denis ‘Denny’ Malbec.

Denny grew up with wine. His grandfather was the winemaker at Bordeaux’s famous Chateau Latour and his father was the winery’s, Cellar Master. Eventually, after stints in Bordeaux and Champagne, Denny began making wine in northern California. As a shop, we’ve been carrying his wines for quite a while, most notably his Alienor Syrah and the beautiful Alienor Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.

Unfortunately, Denny passed away in April of 2016, leaving many vintages of unreleased wines. These wines allow Denny’s spirit to stay with us as we enjoy the fruits of his final years of winemaking.

This rosé is unlike almost any other rosé I’ve tried. It’s age and fruit quality give a depth of flavor that is so different from the Provencal style of rosé that most people are used to. Though the wine is completely dry, I immediately picked up the strong candy-like aroma of cotton candy. On the palate, it reminded me of the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. It’s okay to serve this chilled, but you don’t want it too cold. An ice bath would dull the intense fruit flavors (though we fully support drinking this in the bath…). Pair this with food a little heavier than you otherwise would for rosé. Mushroom risotto or pasta come to mind.

Want to join Shamrock Selections? There’s still time to subscribe in order to get next month’s selections. Use the link below to subscribe!


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


I haven’t done any official research on the topic, but I’d be willing to wager that after December, May is the second busiest month of the year. Everyone is graduating or going to events or on their first bit of vacation. With all of that in mind, we wanted to give you some wines that you could slow down and relax with as this month’s Selections.

How many times have Keegan and I told you that we’re always looking for unusual wines and unheard of grapes? Well, this month, in the two blends we’ve collected, there are 7 different grapes used with 6 of them being (to our count) completely new to Shamrock Selections.

So, sit back and relax and enjoy these wines. They’re superstars on their own, but in tandem, as part of a meal, they really shine.

 

Prats & Symington Post Scriptum de Chryseia Douro 2013

Who knew they made wine in Portugal that wasn’t Port? Well, you probably did, but have you actually had any of it? If not, you’re in for a treat.

This month’s wine is an interesting blend of 4 grapes: 59% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 5.5% Tinta Roriz, and 5.5% Tinta Barroca. The blend really hangs its hat on Touriga Nacional (tor-REE-ga na-see-o-NAL). This is the grape most commonly used in Port production, but here it’s presented in a dry style. The result is big, bold wine with lots of grip and tannin. There are lots of violet, date, and plum notes with a strong hint of blueberry pie crust on the finish.

The second most prominent grape in the blend, Touriga Franca, is where this wine gets is ink-like color. This is definitely a wine that will leave your lips a shade or two darker. On its own, Touriga Franca can best be compared to Zinfandel with its dark color and milder tannins. Here it delivers a very strong note of black cherry.

The remaining two grapes are popular blending grapes for Portuguese wines, both dry and fortified. Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for the Spanish grape Tempranillo which you got to experience in your January selection.

If you’re like me and you’ve been finding excuses to use your backyard grill, this is the wine for you. It’s big and bold enough to handle almost anything you might want to pair with it, from steak to brats. This wine is cravings a hearty meal and company.

Lightning CDP Blanc 2015

CDP stands for “Chateauneuf du Pape,” a wine-growing region along France’s Rhone river. Châteauneuf du Pape is generally known for its red wines, but they also produce a rich white wine that I absolutely love. This isn’t that. But it’s close and it’s delicious!

This is the same blend that you’d find in France, but produced in Napa Valley. The blend here is 55% Grenache Blanc, 30% Piquepoul Blanc, 15% Marsanne.

Piquepoul Blanc is light-bodied grape common in southern France. In many ways, it’s quite similar to Pinot Gris, but with a more herbal character. For me, it’s the two full-bodied grapes in the blend that make this wine so interesting.

As the name suggests, Grenache Blanc is the white version of the red grape Grenache. Here it adds the wine’s tropical notes; papaya, pineapple, guava. Marsanne, on the other hand, gives the wine its unique texture, a subtle viciousness that makes the wine seem heavier or more mouth-coating than many others.

We recommend serving this wine only slightly chilled as many of its herbal aromas are so light that they’ll be easily hidden by a colder temperature. The high acidity of the wine means that it will pair nicely with most foods. I imagine it going well with salads and fish. The herbal notes in the wine would go especially well with a herb roasted chicken.

As always, we hope you enjoy this month’s wines. We’ve already started hunting for June’s selections and we think we’ve found something you’ll love.

Want to join Shamrock Selections? There’s still time to subscribe in order to get next month’s selections. Use the link below to subscribe!


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


Some months, choosing the wines for Shamrock is one of best parts of our jobs here at O’Looney’s. We get to dig deep into the portfolios of our distributors and find the hidden gems that no one else has found. It’s really fun to imagine your reactions to what we hope will always be a new and, at the very least, interesting bottle of wine.

Unfortunately, April wasn’t one of those months. This time, finding the wines was like pulling teeth. As is common when people discuss things they’re passionate about, some disagreements can arise, and we had a lot of…passionate deliberations about this month’s selections. We didn’t like the idea of a third bottle of Chardonnay in a row. And though we agreed that it would be an interesting selection, we couldn’t find a distributor who carried any of the Listan Blanco wines grown on the Canary Islands. We briefly toyed with a few ideas from Washington state and New Zealand, but we eventually found inspiration in our own recent trip to Napa.

 

2014 Round Pond Estate Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

As I mentioned in last month’s Shamrock blog, Keegan and I recently spent a week in California drinking all the wine we could find. We’d both tell you that one of the highlights of our trip was our visit to and lunch at Round Pond Estate. Located in the heart of Rutherford, Round Pond is almost in the exact center of Napa Valley.

The Estate has been growing grapes for decades and has long been one of the most sought after producers of fruit on the valley floor, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that the MacDonnell family, owners since the 1980’s, decided to start making their own wine.

You may have had “Kith & Kin,” their entry level wine, as it’s one we all try to recommend to clients because of its excellent value, but this is their estate wine (hence the photo of the eponymous round pond on the label). Made entirely of fruit grown right on the winery grounds, this is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot.

While you might think that 12% isn’t much, it’s that small percentage of Petit Verdot (PV) that makes this wine so special. PV originated in southwestern France, near Bordeaux during the time of the ancient Romans. It was planted in Bordeaux long before Cabernet Sauvignon, and up into the mid-1700’s, was a leading grape in most of the region’s wines. Today, PV is most commonly used as a blending grape, with usually less than 10% making its way into the finished product. PV is added to wines for any of three main reasons: to add a deep purple, almost black color, to increase tannins, and to add its uniquely spicy yet floral flavors to the blend.

As you’ll see in your wine this month, the PV is doing all of those things and more. PV is one of most tannic wines in the world, and those tannins, especially when combined with the solid tannins coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon, provide a huge springboard for the wine’s fruit flavors while also creating a solid backbone that will allow this wine to age for years. Don’t worry if you don’t get around to cracking this one open anytime soon. I’d say you’ve got until the early 2030’s before this one even starts to head downhill.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the PV, but I don’t want to ignore the Cab, here. It is, after all, the real star of the wine and that’s because the quality of the individual berries that went into this wine is just so ridiculously high. Of all the parts of Napa Valley, there may not be a region that produces Cab as well as Rutherford. Most people will say it’s a product of the “Rutherford dust,” the red, dusty soil the area is known for. What does that actually mean? Well, on the palate, you’ll notice key notes of cocoa powder, eucalyptus, and mint, while the tannins are a bit more subdued, more rounded, more “dusty” than the “kick in the face” tannins you’ll find in other parts of the valley. In fact, it’s these dusty tannins that the PV’s brash tannins hold up over the many years of aging.

When you open this wine, you’re going to first notice how deep and dark the color is, so purple it’s almost black. That comes from the PV, though if you age this bottle for a long time, you’ll notice a significant color change. You’ll also pick up the aromas of ripe blackberries, black currant, cassis, and just the faintest hint of lavender (another telltale sign of PV). On the palate, black cherry and raspberry are most noticeable, with notes of pepper, coffee, and dark chocolate on the finish.

For a wine like this, you’re going to need a meal that can stand its ground against such a powerful wine. I had this wine with steak recently for my birthday and it was perfect. If you’re doing beef, I recommend a cut with a bit more fat like filet mignon, hanger, or New York strip.

Also, please do the world a favor and decant this. Thirty minutes will do wonders but ninety will make your life better, I promise.

Lago Cerqueira Vinho Verde Rosé

So, I know what you’re probably thinking: “How you have a rosé from a “green” wine?”

Well, to explain, we have to delve into one of the many misnomers in the wine world. Portugues Vinho Verde isn’t actually green, well, at least not really green. Though literally translated as “green wine,” the more correct meaning is “young wine.” Also, Vinho Verde is not a specific grape, but a large growing region in northwestern Portugal along the Atlantic coast. In Portugal, it’s quite common to see the Vinho Verde label on wines that are either red, white, or pink, though white Vinho Verde is most commonly imported into the US. And yes, depending upon which white grape the wine is made from, there can be a slightly green tint to the juice.

Your rosé this month is made from the grape Vinhão (veen-HOW), a rare grape outside of Portugal where it’s typically made into red Vinho Verde. The interesting thing about Vinhão is that it’s a teinturier or a red grape whose flesh is also red. This is actually quite rare among red grape varieties, and it’s the factor that produces such a vivid hue in this wine. While the juice of many red wines is left in contact with the grape skins for several days or weeks in order to impart a deep red color, this rose’s color was imparted straight from the juice, as the skins were removed from the juice immediately after pressing. To give you an idea of the color of a true Vinhão wine, look for a bottle of Port. Vinhão is often added to Port wine blends to add an inky purple color.

Color aside, this wine is bright with fruit notes of strawberries, watermelon, and cherry. It just tastes pink! We recommend pairing it with a light salad or an afternoon spent outside. This is a no-frills wine meant for enjoying on the beautiful weekends we’ve been having.

Want to join Shamrock Selections? There’s still time to subscribe in order to get next month’s selections. Use the link below to subscribe!


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


2011 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Chardonnay

With March being Women’s History Month, we thought it appropriate to highlight a wine by one of California’s greatest female winemakers: Merry Edwards. Merry has been inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame and has won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in the United States, just the fourth woman to do so.

Merry began making wine in 1973, a time when female winemakers were still a rarity. Pinot noir was her first love, but her Chardonnays are every bit as good. The Olivet Lane vineyard sits about 3 miles northwest of Santa Rosa in the heart of the Russian River valley, and from it, Merry makes of one the most regal Sonoma Chardonnays I’ve ever had. It’s very much a Lady. Refined but sassy, it reminds me of Maggie Smith’s character from “Downton Abby.”

Whereas last month’s Chardonnay (from Chablis, France) was sleek and racy, this one takes its time. Less a race than a procession. But what a procession it is! A parade of aromas greets you from the glass: apricot, ripe yellow apples, honey, creme brulee. It’s really just so decadent. The texture here, again comparing it to last month’s light bodied example, is thick and mouth coating, almost like drinking creme fraiche. That’s a result of what’s called malolactic fermentation, a process that takes place after the wine’s actual fermentation in which crisp malic acid is converted into the more lush and creamy lactic acid.

I just can’t get over how good this Chardonnay is. It’s the polar opposite of last month’s example, but the differing styles show what I love most about the grape: that it can act almost like a blank canvas, allowing the drinker to get a better sense of who the winemaker is as a craftsman through the finished product.

As far as food pairings, I honestly don’t think one is needed. This wine more than stands on its own, but if you want to enjoy it with food, I’d recommend something light but filling, like grilled salmon. Merry herself recommends bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken breast, which sounds equally perfect.

2010 Beneventano Aglianico

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the grape Aglianico (al-leON-a-co).

No one?

Yep, that’s about what I expected. Aglianico originated in Greece but was brought to southern Italy about 2,500 years ago. Known for their distinctly black color, Aglianico grapes are thick-skinned and hold up well in the heat. Interestingly enough, this trait has led to it becoming one of the more widely planted grapes in Texas.

As a wine, Aglianico is known for its high tannin and acidity, two qualities that make it ideal for aging. Stylistically, it can seem similar to Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and is often blended with those grapes. In most cases, Aglianico is best aged for a few years in the bottle before drinking. Thankfully, you’re getting the 2010 vintage which is perfect for drinking.

This Aglianico hails from the region of Campania, and specifically the vineyards surrounding the city of Benevento, just a few miles inland from Naples. The rich volcanic soils of the area make for an ideal vineyard site and, year after year, they produce grapes of excellent quality.

The wine is still a deep russet color, with a slight fading of the color at the glasses edges, a tell tale sign of age. On the nose, there’s a hint of spiced plum and the smoke from a campfire. The plum is evident on the palate, as well, where it’s joined by black cherry and white pepper notes.

Aglianico is such a great wine for food. You could almost pair anything with it, but I think it’s best for BBQ and other grilled meats. I’m a huge brisket fan, and I can only imagine how well this would be with beef that’s been cooking all day. For a lighter pairing, I think a dish centered around mushrooms or eggplant would be superb. Likewise, any hard Italian cheese (Asiago, Provolone, Pecorino, Grana Padano, etc.) would be ideal.

Want to join Shamrock Selections? There’s still time to subscribe in order to get next month’s selections. Use the link below to subscribe!


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.


As you might have noticed, we try to always give you wines that are seasonably appropriate. Light and crisp whites in the summer, with deeper and heavier reds in the winter. There are, of course, alway exceptions, but that’s a trend line we try to stick to. So, what do we do with a month like February? Just a few days ago it was almost 80º without a cloud in the sky, but as I write this (Valentine’s Day) it’s 45º and raining. Well, we tried to split the difference with a wonderfully delicate white wine and big, bold red. Drink them whenever and however you like, but as always, enjoy.

2013 Garnier & Fils Premier* Cru Chablis "Mont de Milieu"

I was recently helping a customer in the shop when he asked me about chardonnay, saying that he never drank it because of the “ABC rule.” He went on to explain that this stood for “anything but Chardonnay,” a rule he’d learned during college. I’ll admit that hearing him say this broke my heart, as there are just so many excellent chardonnays being produced in the world. Of course, for every great chardonnay, there is a…less great chardonnay out there lurking on the shelf (but not our shelf, we only stock the great ones). 

I tell this story because I’m sure there are several of you who’ve heard of the ABC rule, or who, in general, have a mental picture of chardonnay as a strangely buttery, flabby wine that’s often given out for free at charity events. I don’t blame you for being weary, but don’t worry, you’re entire life (or at least the chardonnay aspect of it) is about to change!

Chablis is a small commune in the Burgundy region of France where some of the world’s best chardonnay is grown. Chablis is a sexy, sports car version of chardonnay, the Beyoncé of Chardonnay if you will. A key thing to look for here is a racing acidity that serves as the wine’s backbone. It’s this acidity that allows the wine’s fruit flavors to really shine. Right off the bat, you’re sure to notice a strong lemon aroma (personally, it reminds me of a lemon cream), that’s followed up with notes of ripe peach and fresh pear. The finish here is quite long and commanded by a lingering hint of brioche or of lightly buttered baguette. 

A wine like this can really elevate a simple meal. One of my weeknight standby by recipes is for poached salmon with a beurre blanc sauce, and I can only imagine how well the wine’s acidity would balance with the salmon’s natural fat. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, I think this would be an excellent pairing with a hearty grain-based salad with a light vinaigrette. 

*Now, if you look at the bottle, you’re going to see “1er” which is pronounced “premier.” Unfortunately, no one told me this until after I had been working at the shop for about six months. I had been pronouncing it “une-er.” Don’t make the same mistake I did! 

2011 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua, Chile

The second wine is from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. It takes the idea of a Bordeaux-style blend (i.e. lots of cabernet sauvignon, with other French blending grapes) and gives it a uniquely South American twist. The predominate grape here is still cabernet sauvignon (75%), with carmenere, malbec, and sryah rounding out the rest in almost equal amounts.

When I first opened this wine, I was struck by how reductive it was. That’s a fancy way of saying that the winemaker took special care to expose the wine to as little oxygen as possible. What that means for us is that this wine greatly benefits from being run through an aerator once (or even twice) or decanted for at least an hour.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be rewarded with a surprisingly fruity wine. The most immediate fruit notes for me were plums and blueberries. Blueberries is a tell-tale sign of malbec for me, so even had I not known where this wine was from, it would have given me a hint. Where this wine really gets interesting is its finish. There was a lot of debate amongst our staff on this, but we all came away with notes of chocolate, tobacco, black pepper (that’s the syrah saying hello!), and mocha.

This wine is just aching for food, and I want to give it some meat. I think it would be excellent with steak or pork, even lamb. Likewise, I think this would really shine if paired with a hearty pasta (ooh, lasagna!). While you’re cooking, add a splash of wine to the sauce to liven things up.

Want to join Shamrock Selections? Click here. 


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.

 

This month, we’ve got two incredible red wines to keep you warm on these cool January nights!

2013 Bodegas Emilio Moro

The Moro family has been tending their vineyards in Spain’s Ribera del Duero for almost 100 years. For years, they sold their grapes to other winemakers, and it wasn’t until 1988 that they made their own wine. Emilio’s son José invested the family’s entire savings in winery equipment, so there was little turning back. Today, the winery produces some of the most complex and delicious wines from the tempranillo grape in the Ribera del Duero. This wine, the “Emilio Moro,” is the flagship wine of the Bodega and it’s a perfect example of the region’s typical style. The tempranillo grapes for this wine underwent a 28-day long maceration and were then allowed to age in barrel for a full year before bottling. I’m always impressed by the combination of freshness and ripeness I find in these wines. Leather, dark tomato sauce, mushrooms, and strawberry compote notes are combined with fresh red apple, wet stone, and violets, making this a very complex wine. On the palate, it is full-bodied but still fresh and lively with a kick of acid. Tempranillo always makes me crave mushrooms and, to that end, I can think of no better pairing that grilled ribeye covered in jaeger sauce (mushroom gravy).

2012 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir

For those who were Shamrock Selection subscribers in 2015, you might remember that we had the fantastic Evenstad Reserve Chardonnay just over a year ago (The 2014 vintage of that wine was recently named the best white wine in the world by Wine Spectator Magazine).  Now we are bringing you the Pinot Noir which received that distinction back in 2010. The Evenstad Reserve is a hand selection of the very best barrels each vintage produces. The extreme lightness of color can be deceiving, but don’t let that fool you; this is a magnificent wine bursting with ripe cherry and strawberry note. It is one of the most elegant pinot noirs I’ve ever tasted. It is so light and elegant that it glides across the palate, leaving a lingering, mouthwatering finish that makes you crave more. For a wine this good, it is best to go with the most classic and most simple pairings. Sauteed duck breast with tart cherry chutney would be the perfect way to elevate this wine. 

Want to learn more about Shamrock Selections? Click here. 


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.

 

This month, we’re highlighting the second round of wines that we imported directly from France. These wines are so special, and they’re unlike anything you’ll find on our shelves, or anywhere else in Arkansas, for that matter. A theme you will notice this month selections, and in previous selections is “old vines”. As vines age, the size of their grapes become smaller. This, in turn, results in a wine is more concentrated and complex. Old vineyards are rare and finding two wines from vineyards that are over seventy years old is a real treat.

Domaine D’Aupilhac l’Hérault “Les Servières” Rouge

This is the second time we’ve had a wine from Domaine D’Aupilhac and we’re thrilled to bring you another of their fantastic wines. The domain is owned by Sylian Fadet, whose family has been farming this land since the nineteenth century. The “Les Servières” is a truly amazing wine. The vineyard was planted in 1900 on extremely rocky terrain composed of clay and limestone. The resulting wine is deep and complex with ripe flavors of strawberry, cherry and an underlying savouriness. Composed entirely from cinsault, this is the greatest example of the grape I have ever tasted. I recommend decanting the wine as it’s a bit tight and angular at first sip. Given just a few minutes to breath, it opens up to reveal a great depth of flavor and remarkably smooth texture. I’d recommend enjoying it with hearty winter food like pot pie and roasts.

André & Michel Quenard Vin de Savoie Chignin “Vielles Vignes”

If you happened to guess that “Vielles Vignes” is French for “old vines” you’d be right. The vines here are all over seventy years old and were originally planted in the 1930s by Michel’s grandfather. Today he farms these old vines with the help of this two sons Guillaume and Roman. When I taste this wine I am immediately transported back in time to a summer I spent in the alps of Switzerland and France. The grape here is jacquere and it has that fresh crispness of mountain air combined with a surprising richness from a wine grown so high in the mountains. Drinking it makes me crave a big pot of fondue or raqulette.

Want to learn more about Shamrock Selections? Click here. 


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.

This month we’re highlighting exciting new wines that have never been available in Arkansas until now. For the first time, O’Looney’s was able to order wine directly from France specifically for Shamrock Selections. This has allowed us to deliver some really knockout wines to you that we just couldn’t get any other way.

2015 Eric Chevalier Clos de la Butte Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu Sur Lie

The nose is subtle but complex white pear, white flowers, chamomile, fresh melon and a hint of ocean brine are all there. At first, there is a lot of tension on the palette. The body is light with racy acidity, but there is also a round creaminess to the texture. The wine is very tart, but give it time to breathe and warm up a bit and that tension is relieved and it becomes really sublime. When it comes to pairing a wine like this I like to go two ways. First is to match the intense acidity with similar dishes like oysters with lemon or sushi. The second path is to pair it with heavier cream sauces. Fried catfish with tartar sauce comes to mind as a uniquely southern pairing. When it comes to serving a wine like this I recommend chilling it ahead of time then decanting it and leaving it out of the refrigerator to warm up just a bit.

2015 Catherine & Pierre Breton Bourgueil "Les Galichets"

The Bretons are one of the most interesting families in wine. They have been farming their twenty-seven acres of vineyard organically for over two decades. The “Les Galichets” is one of their single vineyard wines named for the gravel soil in the vineyard. The nose is bright with expressive notes of green pepper, tart cherries and a hint of smoked meat and spice. On the palate, it is quite dry with light body and refreshing acidity. The tannins are surprisingly fine for Cabernet Franc which can often be very rough and rustic. This will be the wine I pour at my family’s Thanksgiving celebration. It is perfect for pairing with the huge diversity of flavors on a Thanksgiving table. No need to get fussy with this wine. Just pull the cork and enjoy.

Want to learn more about Shamrock Selections? Click here. 


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.

2015 Tercos Bonarda

You may not be familiar with bonarda (this is my first experience with the grape) but it’s actually the second most planted variety in Argentina. I was intrigued by the chance to try a new grape and I was delighted to find that it’s downright delicious. Bonarda is very late ripening and needs a warm climate, like that of Argentina or its native Italy, to develop fully. The Tupungato mountainside where it is grown is the perfect environment for bonarda because it has long warm summers but it also has cool nights. This allows the grape to ripen while retaining freshness. The winemaking is designed to accentuate that freshness along with the true varietal flavors. It is fermented and aged without any use of oak and is released early. The result is a wine with a distinctly smoky character that reminds me of syrah, though the fruit is much more lush and the tannins are less intense. For food pairings, look no further than Argentinian style rotisserie chicken or steak served with chimichurri.

2014 Ridge Lytton Springs

Ridge Vineyards is one of my all time favorite estates. I say estate because they are committed as much to excellence in the vineyard as they are in the winery. They really believe in expressing the true character of the place the grapes come from. To achieve this, every effort is made to limit human influence on the wine. Biodynamic and organic farming are practiced throughout their vineyards, and irrigation is only used in instances when the life of the vine is threatened. Even in 2014, the third straight year of drought in California, with only 18’ of rainfall, no irrigation was used. The winemaking is as hands-off as possible. The back label of the bottle says it perfectly “Ingredients: Hand harvested, sustainably grown grapes; indigenous yeasts; naturally occurring malolactic bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective SO2.”

All this meticulous work results in a magnificent wine, a field blend of old vine zinfandel, petite syrah, carignan, and mataro. The Lytton Springs is stylistically similar to wines that were common before prohibition. Upon first opening, the aroma is very tight with an intense note of graphite. As it has time to breath a myriad of aromas and flavors are revealed; cedar, tobacco, cherry cola, ripe and dried strawberries, cocoa, red apple, and pear notes are all present. This is one of the most complex wines I’ve tasted in quite some time. On the palate, it’s rich without being heavy, with strong but elegant tannin and a finish that seems to go on forever. What I like even more about this wine is its ability to work with many different dishes. I enjoyed it with General Tso Chicken which I usually find too spicy for red wine but was a delightful match. I encourage you to try it with something unusual.

Want to learn more about Shamrock Selections? Click here. 


Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.

2012 Barkan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Galil, Israel

The Barkan Winery has been operating for over 100 years, making it one of the oldest continually operating wineries in Israel.  It was fully upgraded and modernized in the year 2000 and now farms over 2,400 acres throughout Israel from the hills surrounding Jerusalem to the mountains of Galilee. For their reserve cabernet sauvignon, the grapes are sourced from two vineyards in the Galilee region. This is the coldest region in Israel and that cool climate helps the grapes ripen more slowly and retain acidity, which is key to a balanced wine. Once the grapes are picked and fermented the wine is aged for 20 months in oak. The aroma is bright with note of ripe plums, cherries, and blackberries, along with a note of spice from the oak aging. The fruit persists on the pallet but is replaced by a distinct earthiness on the finish. The wine will improve with time in a decanter but is also delicious right after opening. As you would expect from cabernet sauvignon grilled meat is the best pairing, I think lamb chops would be lovely.

2011 Spann Vineyards Cabernet Franc Amador County, California

Amador County is located about 100 miles east of Napa Valley in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. All of the vineyards are above 1,200 feet with some over 2,000 feet in elevation. This cabernet franc is treated to 27 months in 85% used and 15% new French oak barrels which allows the wine mellow and develop without picking up too much oak flavor. The result is a wine that is balanced with the classic cabernet franc note of green pepper along side a gorgeous ripe strawberry flavor. The time in oak has allowed the tannins to soften giving this wine a really pleasing texture. The wine is ready to drink right out of the bottle and it would benefit from a slight chill. I would recommend about 20-30 minute in the refrigerator just before serving. I think either chicken or pork with a cherry sauce would be an excellent pairing for the wine.

Want to learn more about Shamrock Selections? Click here.