News, Expert Opinions and general chit chat from the world of wine

JN Wine Blog

Up to 15% Off Wonderful Wines of Chile

Chile – don’t tell me it isn’t one of those places you stare longingly at photographs of, dreaming of the day you can make a trip over to soak in their fabulous culture – not to mention the food & wine!

Unfortunately I cant send you all there ( as much as I believe we would have a rockin’ time on a fabulous group holiday ) but I can help with the wine part of the equation! And with 15% percent off some of my favourite Chilean wines – there has never been a better time to embrace the taste of Chile.

Chile’s exclusive mix of climate & geography mean that it is an ideal location for some sensational wine growing. Surrounded by a desert, ocean, mountains & some ice fields, Mother Nature has provided Chile with a truly individual set of bonuses.  These natural barriers serve to protect the vineyards of Chile from a number of pests and diseases – most famously the terrible destruction caused by Phylloxera.

This means that Chile has become one of the world’s leaders in sustainable & organic viniculture. Warm, dry summers - paired with cool, wet winters provide the grapes with their favourite growing conditions. Whilst the striking difference in temperature from day to night, provide the grapes with the broad spectrum they need to reach their full potential. White grapes develop bright fresh fruit flavours, accompanied by crisp acidity, and the reds – ripe tannins, a deep colour & high levels of anti oxidants. 

Now – let me introduce you to the Viña Casablanca Cefiro range. Named after the greek god of the spring breeze, the constant presence of a cooling current shapes, structures and gives freshness to the wines.

Cefiro Merlot £8.85 Offer Price £7.52

Casablanca Cefiro Merlot 2012

Cefiro Sauvignon Blanc £8.95 Offer Price £7.61

Casablanca Cefiro Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Cefiro Cabernet Sauvignon £8.95 Offer Price £7.61

Casablanca Cefiro Cabernet 2011/2012


The second range of wines that we are celebrating this month is the Viña Casablanca Nimbus selection - named after the clouds that help to make the area so suitable for their bright yet elegant style of wine.

Nimbus Merlot £10.99 Offer Price £9.34

Casablanca Nimbus Merlot 09

Nimbus Cabernet Sauvignon £10.99 Offer Price £9.34

Casablanca Nimbus Cab Sauvignon 2009

Nimbus Sauvignon Blanc £10.75 Offer Price £9.14

Casablanca Nimbus Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Nimbus Chardonnay £10.99 Offer Price £9.34

Casablanca Nimbus Chardonnay 2011 Pk6

If you only try one new wine this month, I would strongly recommend one of Viña Casablanca’s Carmenères. A Chilean speciality, it is practically non-existent in the rest of the world. The Carmenère grape originated in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France and was also widely planted in the Graves – when it was known as one of the 6 ‘noble’ grapes allowed in red Bordeaux.

However there are few Carmenère vines in France today as a Phylloxera plague in 1867 nearly destroyed all the vineyards of Europe, afflicting the Carmenère grapevines in particular. For many years the grape was presumed extinct. However, today it is Chile’s signature grape – with over 8,827 hectares dedicated to the grape.

Producing wines which are rich in blackberry fruit and a slight black pepper spice, with smooth, well-rounded tannins – Carmenère makes a tasty glass of wine, both alone, or as an accompaniment to your favourite meal. Personally, I would enjoy with a tapas type feast – Chilean Empanadas would be just perfect!

Nimbus Carmenère £10.99 Offer Price £9.34

Casablanca Nimbus Carmenere 2011

El Bosque Carmenère £9.99 Offer Price £8.49

Casablanca El Bosque Carmenere 2011



Last of the Summer WINE SALE

We like to keep things fresh at JN towers.

Give summer the perfect send off with these delicious summer wines.

It's hard to argue with the fantastic value of the summer scorchers below, so why not drop a few bottles in your basket while stocks last!

*Hurry Sale Ends Sun 14th Sept 2014.

Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Bottle Price: £21.95  

Offer Price: £16.50 

Saving: £5.45

Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc 2010


Gayda Cepage Syrah 2011

Bottle Price: £9.35 

Offer Price: £6.99

Saving: £2.36 

Gayda Cepage Syrah 2011 Pk6


Bests Chardonnay 2010

Bottle Price: £12.25 

Offer Price: £7.60 

Saving: £4.65

Bests Chardonnay 2010


Gayda T'Air D'Oc Syrah Back Label Only

Bottle Price: £7.75

Offer Price: £4.99

Saving: £2.76

Gayda T'Air D'Oc Syrah Back Label Only


Malena Chardonnay/Chenin 2010

Bottle Price: £9.35

Offer Price: £4.75

Saving: £4.60

Malena Chardonnay/Chenin 2010


JN tasting evening with Nathan Waks of Kilikanoon

For the love of shiraz…

We are delighted to announce that Nathan Waks of Kilikanoon winery will be here to host a tasting of some of our best Australian wines.

Kilikanoon is top of the league of Australian wineries with a 5 star rating from James Halliday (top Aussie commentator and ex-winemaker) and was nominated as his 2013 winery of the year.

They have a superb range of wines from all the top spots in South Australia – Clare, Barossa and McLaren Vale and we will taste wines from across the range under the expert tutelage of Nathan Waks, director and owner of the winery. 

The quality of the wines across the board is truly exceptional as all the fans of Killerman’s Run and Lackey Shiraz already know.  Their top wines are outstanding and this is a wonderful opportunity to taste the different expressions of Shiraz from some of their top vineyards in each of these different areas.  These wines are a world apart from the mass produced, syrupy wines flooding the supermarket shelves.  Come and be seduced by the charms of Shiraz in all its glory.  There will be some deliciously refreshing whites to explore too. 

We will be serving some tasty canapés to accompany these wonderful wines too.

Book your tickets now and join us for what promises to be a truly memorable night.

Venue: JN Wine Crossgar

Date: Friday 10 October

Time: 7-9pm

Price: £30 per person.

Entrance by ticket only. Book online here, call us on 028 4483 0091 or email to reserve your place.

Domaine de Ventenac Free Magnum Offer

We have an exclusive offer from Domaine de Ventenac for all our JN customers.

Order 24 bottles of Domaine de Ventenac wines and receive a free magnum of the Reserve de Jeanne Cabardès red!

Domaine de Ventenac is in an appellation called Cabardès which is nestled in between the mountains of the Massif Central on one side, and the Pyrenees on the other.  The climate here is an interesting mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic influences.  The Mediterranean brings warmth and sunshine, the Atlantic brings cooler weather, rain and showers which means they have an extraordinary capacity to grow all sorts of thirsty, sun-loving grapes.  Usually around the Med, you will find Rhône varieties – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre etc.  The Bordeaux varieties are of course Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  In order to use the AOC Cabardès, you have to include at least 40% Bordeaux grapes and 40% Mediterranean grapes.  A unique and interesting mix. 

The philosophy at Ventenac captures all that is exciting and interesting about the Languedoc.  This is the south of France and all that tradition and heritage is still very much alive and kicking.  At its heart that means wines with a unique sense of place.  The defined appellations (of which Cabardès is just one) have their unique identities, histories and consistencies and the appellation rules and regulations act to preserve that identity.  At the same time, wineries have the freedom to step outside the strictures of the controlled appellation system, and make ‘vin de pays’ wines which allows them to put the name of the grape varieties on the label and make bright, fruity wines that reflect the character of those grapes – a refreshing (and dare I say) new world idea!

If you would like to take advantage of this exclusive offer, simply order 24 bottles from the following selection.  Then sit back and relax and the wines will be with you in early October.

You can mix and match the 24 bottles any way you choose, but you have to act fast because this offer is only available for a short time.  Once all the orders have been received, we will call Ventenac with the quantities; they will pack up all the wines and ship them to NI!  As soon as the wines arrive on our shores we will deliver to your door or you can collect from our Crossgar shop at a time that suits you. 


Telephone orders must be received by 7pm Saturday 6th September or online by Sunday 7th September.

Wines open for tasting in Crossgar Saturday 30th August and Saturday 6th September 12-5pm.

Wines will be delivered / ready for collection beginning of October.

Domaine de Ventenac Colombard/Chenin 2013  

Full price £9.75.  Offer price £8.75

Full price €14.59.  Offer price €13.13

Dom De Ventenac Colombard Chenin 12 Pk6


A bright, fresh and fruity wine with intense grapefruit and lemon flavours and aromas.  The addition of a small proportion of the lesser known Gros Manseng intensifies the citrus freshness of this attractive wine.

Domaine de Ventenac Chardonnay 2013

Full price £8.99.  Offer price £8.09

Full price €14.59  Offer price €13.13

Domaine De Ventenac Chardonnay 2012 Pk6


The aim here was to create a wine with minerality and freshness balanced with ripe, exotic fruit flavours and velvety texture.  The wine is not barrel aged, but does spend some time on fine lees to develop some complexity, body and a slight toasty flavour.  These flavours harmoniously blend with the ripe exotic fruit and honey notes of the grapes.

Domaine de Ventenac Merlot 2013

Full price £9.75.  Offer price £8.78

Full price €14.59.  Offer price €13.13

Domaine De Ventenac Merlot 2012 Pk6


A beautifully expressive Merlot showing the attractive flavours we associate with this grape variety.  The wine has a ripe, red fruit flavour with some delicate chocolate and orange peel undertones.  Drink and enjoy when youthful and bright.

Château Ventenac Reserve de Jeanne Cabardès 2012  

Full price £10.50.  Offer price £9.45

Full price €15.45.  Offer price €13.91

Chateau Ventenac Res De Jeanne 2011 Pk6


The Château Ventenac range is named differently to signify the change in emphasis.  This Reserve de Jeanne wine is an AOC designated wine which means it is created to reflect the Cabardès appellation rather than purely the grape varieties it is made from.  The blend comprises 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 35% Syrah and 5% Grenache in accordance with the 40:40 rules of the appellation.  The wine is intense and concentrated with ripe red fruit flavours and some warming spicy notes.


Time to Consider Chenin Blanc


Where to start? Chenin has so many faces it’s hard to pin down a single characteristic that reliably gives it away. At the lower end of the quality scale, Chenin makes pretty, clean, crisp white wine with nicely refreshing acidity and fresh orchard fruit flavours.  With an improvement in quality and lower yields you get much more concentration and flavour and then it really starts to get interesting. A little like Riesling, Chenin can be bone dry, lusciously sweet or anywhere in between. Depending on the bent of the winemaker, it can crisp and light, or more full and rich (the richer, fuller style is more likely from warmer climates).

Chenin’s most wonderful incarnation has to be in the form of a botrytised sweet dessert wine. These glorious wines are golden, multi-layered exotic beauties with acidity that just dances across your tongue refreshing your palate after every sip. These sweet wines can age for decades and are the reason Chenin Blanc has a reputation for greatness.  

As a sparkling wine, Chenin glitters too.  The sparkling wines of the Loire Valley may not have quite the depth or complexity of champagne, but they do make very attractive, very good value sparkling wines.  

Best Areas

In France, you will find delicious Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley. Vouvray and Anjou are the names on the label that point to Chenin Blanc inside the bottle. Vouvray wines can be sweet or dry so you may need to dig a little to find out what’s inside.  If you see the word ‘moelleux’ on the bottle you will know it is sweet.  

Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux de Layon and Bonnezeaux are all wonderful appellations for dessert wines made from Chenin Blanc.

South Africa has large plantings of Chenin Blanc, but the quality is variable.  Look for a reliable producer and be aware that cheap wines are unlikely to be thrilling.  The good stuff is well worth seeking out though and there are gems to be found.  As with most things, high yields mean low quality but low prices.  You get what you pay for.

New Zealand has the ideal climate for good quality Chenin and indeed there are some lovely wines coming through.


Chenin will happily blend with other white grapes.  It is sometimes blended with Chardonnay, but there are other blends of Chardonnay/Viognier/Sauvignon and so on emerging.

Food matching

This largely depends on the style of the wine – the light, crisp styles of Chenin work with different foods than the richer, fuller styles.

Crisp, young, light Chenin works brilliantly with nearly all fish including, prawns, crab, oysters, smoked salmon, fish and chips and oysters.  It is also fantastic with fresh spring vegetables and fresh goats cheese.

Fuller styles of Chenin work with gravadlax, scallops, fishcakes, omelettes and frittatas, dishes in creamy sauces, salmon en croute, roasted root vegetables, roast chicken and particularly well with pork and apple combinations.

Chenin with a touch of sweetness works really well with mild fruity curries or south Asian salads.

Dessert wines made from Chenin are a match made in heaven with pear or apricot tart or even peach crumble.  



JN Sparkling Saumur, Loire Valley

Bouvet Brut Saphir, Loire Valley

Dry whites

Forrest Chenin Blanc, New Zealand

Secateurs Chenin Blanc, South Africa

Wines with a little sweetness

La Grille Chenin Blanc, Loire.  Off dry

Chateau Gaudrelle Vouvray, Loire.  Medium dry

Long Beach Chenin Blanc, South Africa.  Off dry


Domaine de Ventenac Colombard/Chenin, Regional France

Rives Blanques Chardonnay/Chenin, Regional France

Pikes White Mullet, Australia

Reyneke Organic White (Chenin, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc), South Africa

Wolftrap White (Viognier, Chenin, Grenache Blanc), South Africa