Last Thursday I had the pleasure and privilege of being invited to a particularly special dinner by Stuart Smith from online wine retailer, Fallon & Byrne’s function room was the venue and alomg with me there was a great collection of Stuart’s colleagues, friends and customers.

Who are From Vineyards Direct?

David Campbell and Esme Johnstone established FromVineyardsDirect. Both have an incredible wine pedigree, David in wine publishing and Esme having established Majestic in the UK before heading over to Bordeaux and actually making the stuff.

They’re joined by Stuart Smith, General Manager, based in Malahide, in north Co. Dublin. Stuart has been working in the Dublin wine trade having cut his teeth in many of Dublin’s best known wine shops.

Their proposition, as their name implies, is to cut out the middle man and go straight to the vineyard to source their wines. As a result, many of their wines are at least 20% cheaper than elsewhere.

I’ve checked out a couple and the prices are hard to beat – the wines are bloody good too – there were plenty of them on show at last week’s dinner.

The wines

The wines I tried were fantastic – all but one stocked by From Vineyards Direct and four of the reds from Bordeaux properties owned by the Sichel family, represented by Charles on the night.

The wines opened during the evening’s dinner:

  • La Chapelle 2008 White from the Côtes de Gascogne – a gorgeous full flavoured wine made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Colombard which served as a great aperitif.
  • Château Sainte-Marie, 2008 Entre-Deux-Mers – a white Bordeaux made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. The Sauvignon brings the intense grassy lime, the Semillon adds a bit of weight and the Muscadelle adds a floral element. I really liked this one – plenty of flavour and structure which I look for in my white wines.
  • Margaux 2005 – from the venerated soils of Margaux, this red wine is without a chateau on the label, but is made from the grapes of one of the most famous producers there. It’s described thus on the site, “A spectacular parcel of a wine declassified from one of the most famous Cru Classé in Margaux whose wine normally sells for €1500+ a case” – a very very good wine, quite big for a Margaux and probably needs a couple of years to chill out before it’s ready to drink.
  • Château d’Argadens 2004 – a very easy drinking Bordeaux Superior and an absolute steal at €12.95. Since the Sichel family bought the property in 2002, they’ve been focused on restoring the property and it looks to be paying off
  • Château d’Angludet 2001 Another property owned by the Sichel family (co-owners of the famous Château Palmer). Quite a big wine for Margaux, but well structured nonetheless
  • Château Palmer 2001: gorgeous wine. If the d’Angluet is a big masculine wine, this would more feminine, more perfumed, silky, yet still a little young to be drinking for the moment.

Guest of honour, Charles Sichel

Charles Sichel, member of the family who owns d’Angludet, d’Argadens and the flagship Château Palmer in Margaux talked about his family connection with Bordeaux, the terroir and, of course, the wines, many of which are available for purchase online at

A fantastic night, with great company, great food and great wine. A big thank you to Stuart for the invite.