SIP Drinks Show & Gold Star Awards 2012

The SIP Drinks Show gave independent retailers the opportunity to meet many suppliers in one night, while the Gold Star Awards recognised quality wines offerings

nofflaEdward Dillon & Co. Ltd swept the boards at the 2012 Gold Star Awards, winning four out of the 15 award categories. Findlater Wine & Spirit Group picked up the much coveted ‘Wine of the Year 2011-2012’ award and Overall Award Winner, for J. Moreau & Fils Chablis 2010. The equally prestigious ‘Red Wine of the Year 2011-2012,’ award went to Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys for Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2005.

In winning the Wine of the Year Award for J. Moreau & Fils Chablis 2010, Findlater Wine & Spirit Group have clearly identified a wine that is exceptional. This wine was chosen from the 15 category award winners as being the most outstanding wine choice for the 2012 awards. This wine was the clear selection from amongst more than 600 wines that were submitted to NOffLA for consideration amongst the Gold Star Awards.

Winning a “Gold Star Award” is a distinctive accolade for the featured wines and also provides a strong marketing platform – particularly in the all-important pre-Christmas selling period. In announcing the Gold Star Awards, NOffLA chairperson, Evelyn Jones, pointed to the key role in communicating the variety of excellent wines available in Ireland, at different price points: “The awards are categorised by price and so have gained a reputation, over the past nine years, for being the essential guide for selecting great wines at any price. There is sometimes a misconception that the higher the price, the better the quality of wine. But, four of NOffLA’s Gold Star winners retail at under €8 so we are confident that consumers will be able to pick up some superb wines, whether they want to spend €7.99 or €19.99.”

Gold StarThese awards genuinely represent the very best of what is available across the independent off-trade in Ireland. What is distinctive about these awards is that they are the selection of the very best according to wine distributors, wine retailers and wine writers. As NOffLA chairperson, Evelyn Jones, explained previously: “The tasters have no idea what wines they are tasting, or by whom they have been submitted. So this really would appear to reflect the importance of the pre-selection process of wines by wholesalers, before they are submitted to NOffLA. More and more wholesalers are spending a huge amount of time on this selection every year so, for those who do not take the time to pre-select, I do recommend that this is an area on which you should concentrate”.

SIP is a good investment

Time spent at the SIP Drinks Show is a great investment. This year’s event, held at Krystle Nightclub added a touch of glamour to the event and excitement to the awards. The opportunity to meet suppliers in one place, on one day, can save independent retailers so much time and money. A visit to the SIP Drinks Show is always enjoyable, educational and profitable. For some visitors, they are considering updating their wine range; others take the opportunity to taste some of the best fine wines on the market today. Other NOffLA members may be tempted to expand their range into areas in which they are not strong; or perhaps those attending simply want to be one of the first to taste the winners of the Gold Star Awards! There are many opportunities at the show, but the main benefit for those who attended this year’s show is that it is about improving one’s business, and ultimately profitability. Having the chance to taste from an incredible selection of wines, including some great new vintages, it is the perfect place to meet new suppliers and deal with existing ones. This year’s attendees got to meet them in a relaxed and open environment and discuss the specific needs of their business – a really worthwhile experience.

Selection panel

Evelyn Jones expressed the gratitude of all those attending the Irish Wine Show to those who had helped to select the winning wines.

In particular, the NOffLA chairperson expressed the association’s thanks to master of wine, Jane Boyce and wine writer Mary Dowey for conducting the final stage of the blind tasting for the 2012 Gold Star Awards.

Wine consultants, Joe Coyle, Catherine Griffith and Laura Peterson were joined by seventeen NOffLA members holding WSET Diploma and Higher Certificate holders in Dublin on 10 August to blind taste wines from across the globe to establish which of them should be considered for a Gold Star Award for 2012. Thanks are due to:

Pat Carroll, Gibneys, Malahide;
Daragh Cassells, Hargadons Wine Shop, Cabinteely;
Lynda, Coogan, Sweeney’s Wine Merchants, Finglas Road;
S. David Cope, Samuel C. Cope Ltd., Castledermot;
Julie Cullen, Jus de Vine, Portmarnock;

Christine Smith, Mackenway Distributors

Christine Smith, Mackenway Distributors

Stephen Dillon, Next Door Swiss Cottage, Santry;
Niall Finn, Higgins Off-Licence, Clonskeagh;
Barry Forsyth, McHugh’s Off-Licence, Malahide Road;
Evelyn Jones, The Vintry, Rathgar;
David Lonergan, The Vintry, Rathgar;
Cathal McHugh, McHugh’s Off-Licence, Kilbarrack;
Niav McNamara, Shiel’s Londis, Malahide;
Ann Moran, Gibneys, Malahide;
Niamh O’Callaghan, Deveney’s Rathmines;
Jimmy Redmond, Redmond’s of Ranelagh;
Kevin Summons-Walsh, Donnybrook Fair.

Peter Royenoff, Findlaters

Peter Royenoff, Findlaters

Working in pairs, each wine submitted was blind tested, with marks awarded under the headings of appearance, smell, taste and value for money. Then having short-listed three entries in each category and tested them a second time the selections were assessed by master of wine, Jane Boyce and wine writer Mary Dowey.

In thanking all of those who assisted in the assessment process, the NOffLA chairperson underlined both the importance and the size of the task undertaken. “Selecting just 15 wines from over 600 was an incredibly challenging task.  However, the level of interest and the number of submissions tangibly demonstrates the credibility and standing of these awards, not just at an industry level but more importantly, amongst consumers”.

Each of the winning wines will now be sold in NOffLA member outlets and will be recognisable by distinctive award symbols on each bottle. In the pre-Christmas period NOffLA members will promote the Gold Star Awards 2012 Collection as ideal Christmas gifts, in a variety of special gift packs.

Philip Robinson, Overall Wine of the Year

Philip Robinson, Overall Wine of the Year


The Irish Wine Show could not be a reality without the partnership of the independent off-trade and their suppliers.
The awards are a valuable opportunity for our members and equally importantly for more and more suppliers. The National Off-Licence Association is keen to underline the effort made by distributors, who make the effort to ensure that the latest vintages are submitted for the awards. They are finding that they benefit the most because they are in the best position to ensure that adequate supplies of the award winning wines are in stock and are promoted in our shops. In particular, NOffLA is very pleased that a number of suppliers are now identifying the awards by producing special labels which allow customers to easily identify them.

It is also important to point out that the SIP Drinks Show is one of the important initiatives that allow independent retailers to work together with suppliers to further enhance the great business success story that the Irish wine market undoubtedly is. It is important that NOffLA members acknowledge the importance of this ongoing partnership by supporting our associate members who supported the association in this instance:

Kevin Behan, Edward Dillon & Co

Kevin Behan, Edward Dillon & Co

• Ampersand Wines
• Barry & Fitzwilliam
• Bulmers Ltd
• Cassidy Wines Distribution Ltd
• Diageo Ireland
• Edward Dillon & Company Ltd
• Findlater Wine & Spirit Group
• Gleeson, incorporating Gilbeys
• Heineken Ireland Ltd
• Inter Rhône, c/o Sopexa Ireland
• Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard
• Mackenway Distributors Ltd
• Molson Coors Ireland
• Noreast
• Richmond Marketing Ltd
• Searsons Wine Merchants
• Taserra Wine Merchants

The Winning Collection 2011-2012

Wine of the Year:    J. Moreau & Fils Chablis 2010
Red Wine of the Year:    Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2005

Lynda Cody, IDL

Lynda Cody, IDL

Old World White:

Under €8:    Sauvignon L’Abbaye Vins de Pays de Loire 2010
Under €14:  Marqués de Riscal Rueda 2010
Under €20:  J. Moreau & Fils Chablis 2010

New World White:

Under €8:    Hazy View Chenin Blanc 2011
Under €14:    Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2009
Under €20:    Wolf Blass President’s Selection Chardonnay 2010


Under €15:    Rosemount Diamond Cellars Rosé 2009

Old World Red:

Under €8:    Castillo de Benizar Tempranillo 2010
Under €14:    San Donaci Contrada del Falco 2009
Under €20:    Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2005

New World Red:
Under €8:    Obikwa Shiraz 2010
Under €14:    Secret Pinot Noir 2010
Under €20:    Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Sparkling / Champagne:
Under €25:    Campo Viejo Cava NV
Under €60:    Veuve Clicquot NV

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