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Archive for May, 2010

Refer A Friend – Win a gift pack of Wine

May 28th, 2010

For everyone you refer to our mailing list, we will put you in a draw for a very nice gift pack of Wine.

The Winemaker is much more skilled that the photgrapher

Wine Pack gift

Just be sure to tell them to mention your name in the referall. They can email
info@rednosewine.com
direct or go to our Contact Us section on the website.

http://www.rednosewine.com/home/contact_us/form/

You can refer as many people as you like, and the more you do, the more tickets in the draw.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – Italy, you really have a lot of wine

May 27th, 2010

Now and again the wine world and the political world collide, and politics being politics and collisions inevitable, this can mean one can find oneself treated to a wonderful all expenses paid event. One such collision took place in Cork last week, at the very comfortable Clarion Hotel. The Italian Trade Commission are trying to increase awareness of Italian Wine in Ireland, and with the help of Jean Smullen, a well known organiser of marquee wine trade events, they organised a tutored tasting. What is a tutored tasting as opposed to a regular tasting I hear you ask? A fine question, that someone somewhere surely has asked.

A Tasting vs A Tutored Tasting

A regular tasting involves tables full of wine, where everyone supposedly follows a very regimental anticlockwise routine, where we walk around a large hall talking to the importer or the winemakers, while supping and spitting. The true professionals make two trips, the first taking in the whites and the second the reds. I have not always been the true professional in this regard, and I would not suggest tasting a delicate Soave after a big Brunello di Montalcino. Anyway, this tasting was not of that type, for we sat at tables and had a neat array of tasting glasses in front of us. It was like being back at school. The glasses sat upon a mat and were numbered 1 to 6. There was a swarm of bottles to be seen but alas, our glasses were empty. Before the tasting, came the tutoring.

Let The Powerpoint Begin

There was a big screen set up and Helen Coburn, a well know authority on Italian wine, set about a very in-depth and fast as lightening PowerPoint assessment of the white wines of Italy. The range of grapes and regions and rules that are obeyed and rules that are ignored put instant validity to the need for a regional expert such as Helen. When many people think of Italian wines, they think Tuscany or Sicily or maybe the ever popular Pinot Grigio. That’s a fair enough assessment of what is popular in Italian wine, but like many things in life, there is always so much more. We flew through grapes such as Pinot Bianco, Cortese, Garganega, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Greco di Tufo, Vermentino, Inzolia and Prosecco with speed and precision. For those planning a wine holiday, the regions included Trentino / Alto Adige, Piedmonte, Veneto, Lombardy, Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany, Campania, Sardinia and Sicily. So who thought there was only Pinot Grigio in Italy?

Italian Wine Map

Italian Wine Map

There are many other white wine varieties grown in Italy that were mentioned but the varieties above are what we eventually tasted. I have a mass of notes on each wine, and I was happy to see a number of Red Nose Wine selections amongst the mix. We have been working very hard this last year to improve our Italian selection. Our €8.50 Pinot Grigio’s big sales are testament to the fact that the public like what we are doing. Rather than bore you with individual tasting notes on all wines tasted (there are many others who specialise in this), I will list of some of the words scribbled down in the frenzied tasteathon. Creamy, High alcohol, medium acidity, nervy, grassy, yeasty, fresh, good price point, lemon tones, crisp, dry, not enough fruit to the fore, fills the mouth. These of course were for the whites. All wines were spat out.

The Matching of the Food & Wine

After the whites were tasted and rated, we were then invited to partake in a matching of food to wines with Lorenzo Loda, the Italian sommelier from Thorntons Restaurant in Dublin. Little tasting plates were given out, consisting of olive oil, basil, authentic Parmesan cheese, salami and some almond cake. We then were given some Moscato, Gewurztraminer, Brunello de Montalcino and Barbera d’Asti wine. The aromatic Gewurztraminer swamped the olive oil, but was delicious with the basil. The Salami could not stand up to the rich Brunello, but was divine with the Barbera, as was the Cheese. The expensive rich Brunello really needs something like meat to counterbalance it. The Moscato and the cake were a match made in Italian heaven. Some classic Italian Wine – Food pairings include Soave & Risotto; Amarone & Rabbit ; Chianti and Wild Boar ; Verdicchio and Sea Bass to name a few.

Lunch & Parisian Tiramsu

Italian Food

Italian Food

At this point, the little touches of food only made me realise that I was starving, and there was a very Italian lunch laid on, with some classic dishes. I went for two helpings of Lasagne and some Tiramisu. When I lived in Paris, there was a local Italian restaurant that had homemade Tiramisu ( in rue Claude Bernard ) and a guarantee that if it was not the best you ever tasted, you didn’t pay for it. All I can say is that I always paid for it, and will on my next visit. The Cork version was nice, but I can still taste that Paris one. Mind you, in Clonmel we are spoiled for Tiramisu. Both Catalapa and Befanis have delicious versions.

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The Mighty Reds of Italy ( as opposed to Manchester )

Anyway, full up and weary, I still had to face the biggest challenge of the day. The rich reds which made Italy famous. It was obvious that the Italian Trade Commission were footing the bill because they really opened up some special bottles. Pinot Nero, Lagrein, Teroldego, Nebbiolo, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino ( Sangiovese clone), Montepulciano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Allianico, Negroamaro, Primitive Salento, Nero d’Avola and even that old favourite Cabernet Sauvignon were all on show. The superstar regions like Barolo, Barberesco, Chianti Classico and Brunello stood side by side with the Lagrein and Lunelli wines of Trentino / Alto Aldige. The feast finally came to an end and I came out of the tasting a lot more knowledgeable than when I went in. I think that is one of the things that I really like about wine. While you might hold some assumption of knowledge on a particular area or variety, but there is still so much more to learn. Humility and the lack of assumption are two traits that I have found invaluable as I search for new wines. For anyone who wants to try these different Italian varieties ( or the traditional classics ), we have a very good range in stock, at all price points. You are more than welcome to visit and taste. The Italians have a wonderful saying, and Fellini made a film based on the saying, “La Dolce Vita”. In these trying times, we all need a little of the sweet life.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Offer – Buy 6 get 1 Free – New Zealand Wines

May 27th, 2010

Red Nose Wine are launching a very special and innovative new style of weekly promotion.
We strive to have the wines at the best prices we can, so there really isn’t a whole lot left to discount.
What we can do however, is offer you free stock. So, we will offer a different type of offer every week.
We will bring specific countries, areas, grape varieties, and styles together and give you the chance to get free wine.

THE OFFER

 

Each week, there will be 3 Wines on Offer – of a shared theme.
Buy 6 get 1 free
You can mix and match the wines
You can choose all the one wine OR any mix of the 3 on offer each week.
You must choose a total of 6 in order to get the free one
It won’t suit you every week, but we’ll keep it fresh.

To start with – the 3 wines this week are :

New Zealand – A Taste of the Exotic

New Zealand Vineyard - Nelson

New Zealand Vineyard - Nelson

Tussock Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – Tropical, Delicious and Only €13
Greenhough Pinot Noir 2006 – Ripe black cherries & dark chocolate : Only €16
Waipara Springs Premo Dry Riesling – Fresh lemon zest & crisp green apples : Only €14.50

Buy 6 bottles : all of one, or any mix and get a 7th bottle free.

The details

Just order as normal online – pick a mix of the six online and tell us which one you want free
( if you get 12, you will get 2 free ).
Or you can pick your mix of 6 offer wines and any 6 other wines to make up a case.
The choice is yours.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

BYOB – Etiquette Debate

May 22nd, 2010

A BlogPost that asks the hard questions about BYOB wine etiquette.
When you go to a house party, it is customary to bring a bottle of wine; in fact it may even be requested on the invitation. As a wine merchant, I think that is a great idea. However, this can lead to a delicate issue rearing its unsocial head. What I refer to is the social acceptance ( or not ), of bringing a bottle for the house and a bottle for yourself. I like wine, and have developed a taste for a certain quality of wine over the years. I know there are certain wines that I can drink without food that will have no ill effects the next morning. So, when I go to a party I bring one of each, a bottle to be placed on the table for the masses to attack, but also, a bottle for myself.

BYOB

This is the bottle which I and I alone get to drink. In the same way someone else might bring a six pack of Corona, because that is their tipple of choice, I like to bring a nice Provence or Rhone Valley Red. However, this seems to mortify my wife who says I should drink whatever is open instead of opening my own one and getting stuck in.

Why should I pretend to drink a wine that will, for the most part, be undrinkable? To the eternal despair of the independent wine merchant, the modern household tends to buy all its weekly needs in foreign owned supermarkets and proceed to drop the wine into the trolley along with the ham, cheese and tomatoes. There is usually an offer to get you shopping and as the independent wine merchants source the world for true value, it is the discounted rubbish that finds its way into many a household. I wouldn’t mind if they bought something bloody decent from the supermarket. At least people are too embarrassed to ask me my opinion on their great wine find. As Doc Holliday said to Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, “My hypocrisy goes only so far”. Indeed Sir.

A number of very near misses with the old fashioned wing style corkscrews ( which are useless ) has led me to recently start bringing my own corkscrew. I haven’t yet reverted to bringing my own glass, but have not ruled it out either. So, I ask you, am I being unreasonable and do I need to take yet another long hard look at myself? All comments and opinions welcome.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Special Offer – Loire Valley Wines : FREE WINE

May 14th, 2010

Red Nose Wine are launching a very special and innovative new style of weekly promotion.
We strive to have the wines at the best prices we can, so there really isn’t a whole lot left to discount.
What we can do however, is offer you free stock. So, we will offer a different type of offer every week.
We will bring specific countries, areas, grape varieties, and styles together and give you the chance to get free wine.

Each week, there will be 3 Wines on Offer – of a shared theme.
Buy 6 get 1 free
You can mix and match the wines
You can choose all the one wine OR any mix of the 3 on offer each week.
You must choose a total of 6 in order to get the free one
It won’t suit you every week, but we’ll keep it fresh.

To start with – the 3 wines this week are :

The Loire Valley – Undervalued and underpriced

Loire Valley Vineyard and Chateau

Loire Valley Vineyard and Chateau

Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – the new vintage is proving very popular for this favourite. A bone dry wine : Only €13

Chateau de Coulaine Soleil Chinon – 100% organically grown Cabernet Franc – sweet cherries, cranberries with a slightly earthy/spicy finish : only €15

Domaine Merieau “La Rosée” – refuse the clichés and pick a Rose from the Loire – strawberries to the fore. : only €13

Buy 6 bottles : all of one, or any mix and get a 7th bottle free.

Just order as normal online – pick a mix of the six online and tell us which one you want free
( if you get 12, you will get 2 free ).
Or you can pick your mix of 6 offer wines and any 6 other wines to make up a case.
The choice is yours.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

A terribly indulgent blog about Jack Kerouac and Wine

May 13th, 2010

On the road Jack Kerouac

On the road Jack Kerouac

There once was a man who wrote in a stream of consciousness and brought the beep into the bop and made jazz all that it was for that 50s generation. The wine he drank was not the wine I might now drink, as he had no money. I don’t have a lot but I do get to buy wholesale from some of the best winemakers in the world, and there is always a tasting to be done. This is my homage to the type of wine that Jack Kerouac might have drank were he a customer of Red Nose Wine.

I think Jack might have liked a wine that wasn’t what the rest of the people were drinking, I think he would have demanded quality and intrigue, but he would very much appreciate that the wine should reflect the people who made it and where it comes from. So, this is my recommendation for Jack. We must remember, that he was a French speaker.

Domaine Breton Bourgueil-Les Galichet 2006

Chinon La Diablesse 2008

Chateau de Roquefort Les Mures 2006

Chateau Margui

Bandol Domaine Tempier 2006

So, Jack, thanks for the inspiration – “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars”.

These are the winemakers I have searched for.

Article – Twebt A Virtual Taste of Wine

May 8th, 2010

I am trying something very different in this week’s article. It may work and it may not work. I am writing the article in real time, as I take part in a virtual wine tasting. Using the social media format Twitter, I am one of many around the country, and beyond who are simultaneously opening a covered bottle of wine and blind tasting it. The concept is called #Twebt. The rules of #Twebt or the “Twitter Event Blind Tasting” to give it its full name, are as follows. It is open to anyone and this is the 4th event and the numbers are growing every time. You must register for or have a Twitter account. For those of you who may not be familiar with Twitter, it is a social media format where different people “follow” other people and what they “say”, or post online. They are only allowed to “say” something in 140 characters or less. By adding the hashtag #Twebt to the end of your statement, people can then filter so they only see people involved in the tasting, thus ignoring all of the other rubbish that is sent out into cyberspace. Basically, they must get to the point very quickly. The power of Twitter is that your message can get to a huge amount of people instantly and they then have to power to pass it on to their followers instantly. A lot of the recent world breaking news events were announced first on Twitter, and then the TV stations caught up. I use it from a business perspective and have found it very powerful to gain potential new customers, or even press coverage. I was featured in last Sunday’s Tribune and it came about by getting to know the journalist online via Twitter. Anyway, back to the blind tasting.

Each event sees a different merchant making the wine available to purchase online and we all take delivery of the wine in good time for the event. There are 5 things we are trying to identify with the wine and in this order – Whether it is Old World or New World, what year the wine is, what country it comes from, the grape or combination of grapes used and finally the exact region. The idea is the organisers call for guesses as the tasting progresses and as you can imagine, the dialogue can get a little rowdy as well. I will try and write this in time with the tasting. The organiser has just asked for our first guesses on whether the wine is from the old or the new world. I should state that tonight we taste a white wine. I think it has high alcohol content for a wine of this type, so I have just guessed new world. The fact that it has a screwcap is also a hint, but not definitive. Someone else has just guessed Bordeaux, so if they are right, I need to consider a return to engineering. The crowd had seemed to be strongly looking at New World, but there is a late surge towards the old world. I was sweating there for a while, but the supplier just came back with the verdict – it is New World. It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way. There is a temptation to listen to the crowds and that late rush for the old world could sway you. It’s like the exchanges in Cheltenham just before the race goes off. I was always thought to go with your first instinct on a wine, and that is something you have to trust when tasting wines for possible purchase. I am glad I stuck to my guns.
The next thing we are looking for is the year. My instant impression was a wine that had some age on it. I may be wrong, but we’ll see how it turns out. My reason for this is that the alcohol seems to be more prominent. It is not being masked by the fruit. The acidity is high though but the wine does not have a freshness to it you might associate with a young wine. The secondary characteristics such as honey and aniseed are prominent. The result is in and it is 2007. I had guessed 2006, so I am happy enough with my guess. The exact year can often be a guess, unless you know the region, so you are really looking to get close. I would hazard a guess that 99% of white wines currently for sale in Ireland from the new world are less than 2 years old, so an older one does jump out a bit.

Country is the next thing to consider. I always take a guess outright at the very start and write it down on a piece of paper. I am not allowed to guess at the start. It ruins the fun. This time my guess was an Australian Semillon Chardonnay with some age on it. I have just entered my country guess as Australian. After a protracted wait, I am confirmed correct, so I am happy enough to proceed with the next guess, which is the grape variety. In the last blind tasting I got 4 out of 5 correct, but missed one of the grapes in the blend. This time I think it is a blend again, but predominantly Semillon. I can’t choose between aged Sauvignon and Chardonnay. We have just been given a hint that is a single variety so I am fairly confident it is Semillon as the honey is to the fore. It is hard to build the tension of waiting for the Tweet machine to go ping, so after said same tension was endured, it did indeed turn out to be Semillon. I may not have explained it earlier, but as I input my guesses and thoughts, so do the other people and I see there messages online, as they also see mine. For my final guess, I chose the region to be the Hunter Valley, and only because it is famous for its Semillon. I do think there is a high level of alcohol so that leads me to consider another, hotter region, but at this stage it is a guess. My strength is definitely not in identifying Australian Semillon regions. The last event was a Southern France Red, and I was much more confident. The final answer appears online and it turns out not to be the Hunter Valley, but the much warmer Barossa Valley. I rip off the wrapper and see a 14% alcohol Barossa Valley Semillon wine. The tasting is over, and I am very happy with my performance. It must be said that it came on the back of my brother in laws wedding on Friday in Minella, and the post wedding session in Careys on Saturday night. I wasn’t sure I could taste anything. The wedding was a huge success and I had forgotten how good Minella is for weddings. I can still taste the beef. I’m getting hungry now, but its getting late and its time for an early night after a very heavy weekend. It should be noted that I have been spitting the wine all through the tasting in the interest of responsible journalism.

If you want to get involved in the next #Twebt event, let me know and I can get you all the details. If technology is not your thing, it makes a great game for a party. Call in and I will wrap a bottle for you and write down the answers in sealed envelopes.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

A Virtual Taste of Wine

A Virtual Taste of Wine

The Tables are Turned – Wine Reviewee Reviews Food.

May 4th, 2010

I will now attempt to do something that I always said I never would. I am going to attempt to review a restaurant. In fact, I am going to review two of them. I was out and about this last week and had need of food in Cork and in Ardmore.
I let my iPhone and Twitter account lead me and found myself in Fenns Quay in Cork for lunch and then on bank holiday Sunday, in The Cliff House in Ardmore.

My inspiration for this blog came from Kevin Crowleys decision to review wines in his video blog. While visiting Kevin’s restaurant, Fenns Quay, I found myself in Cork, down to collect some wine from the bonded warehouse. I was early and the lads were away on lunch so i parked up and walked across Cork to just behind the courthouse and found Fenns Quay. This is the home of one of the famous Twitter Blind Tasting gurus. Kevin Crowley and Brian Clayton are credited with inventing #twebt, the Twitter Event Blind Tasting. There have been unsubstantiated rumours that Paul Kiernan, aka @grapesofsloth was a muse, but this could be more blatant self publicity from the media savvy Mr. Kiernan. Anyway, well into the 2nd paragraph and I haven’t even mentioned a piece of bread. Well, there was bread, and it was homemade, and both brown and white. It was very welcome and i polished it off very quickly. I was on my own, and away from the preying eyes of those who think I need to lose some weight. With that in mind, I saw a delicious looking oven baked open sandwich with chicken, bacon and relish. It came with salad and homecut chips. I was driving, and it was lunchtime, and a Wednesday, so I didn’t dare ask for the wine list. Having met Kevin at a tasting, and followed his guesses on #twebt, I had no doubt that it would be very good. It may be missing some French wines from the south, or some Loire Valley wines, but fear not Kevin – I know where you can get some.

My lunch at Fenns Quay

My lunch at Fenns Quay

The service was friendly and efficient. The water was refilled without me asking. Always a nice touch. I should mention, the place was very busy and there was a great buzz about. I particularly enjoyed listening to the solicitor opposite me talk very loudly about her current case. I think the punk will go down for a long time. Irrelevant I hear you shout – possibly, but the food was not, in fact it was delicious. The portion was judged perfectly and the salad was very fresh indeed. I had a very nice espresso and was ready for road. It really was great value, and it is cheaper to eat in Cork city than it is in Clonmel. Choice is wonderful. Another nice touch was the homemade biscuit that came with the coffee. So I went away to collect my wine a satisfied customer. I was in and out quick enough, but not rushed.

The Sunday of the bank holiday saw a very different dining experience, not least because I was not alone. Myself, Mrs. RedNose and our 2 kids were out for a drive. We were originally heading to Dungarvan but the kids were having a sleep ( they are only 1 & 2 ), so we kept going, and ended up in Ardmore. When I knew that Dungarvan would be bypassed, I went about Tweeting @cliffhousehotel to see if there would be space. By the time we got to Ardmore, the response was back, and we went in to try the new bar menu. The place was packed, and with these views alone, it was easy to see why.

Mrs. RedNose and John on CliffHouse Balcony ( the 2 yr old refused to pose )

Mrs. RedNose and John on Cliff House Balcony ( the 2 yr old refused to pose)

I was a little bit apprehensive about bringing children that young into a Michelin Star restaurant, but Adriaan Bartels, the general manager was very happy to risk it. He may have regretted it for a 90 second period when my wife tried to feed John, who let her know that he was not quite ready to eat. Once again, apologies to the neighbouring tables. We got him back on board pretty quickly, and the homemade brown bread shut him up. I ordered a potted monkfish and Claire had the charcuterie. Since it was the weekend, I had a little glass of wine, the Tinpot Hut New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I knew this wine from my Liberty Wines tasting.

I was not sure what to expect from potted monkfish to be honest. I ordered as if I knew exactly what I was getting, but it was a leap of faith. However, experience has always taught me that a leap of faith with a great chef can be very rewarding. And so it was. The fish was served cold and marinated in a white sauce that balanced perfectly with the white fish pieces. I was very happy with my choice, but being a card carrying Irishman, I ordered some of the divine mashed potatoes on the side.

Potted Monkfish Cliff House

Potted Monkfish Cliff House

Claire had the charcuterie and this was recommended by the chef. Seeing as when we lived in France that she would always order charcuterie as a starter, I was not surprised. It was delicious with the cured ham and the pickled onions in particular shining. As I have mentioned, the place was jammed and it was great to see considering the current economic environment. But, to be fair, the prices were very reasonable for such a fine dining restaurant – €9.75 for the monkfish and €15 for the charcuterie. I even got a thank you from the chef, via Twitter after the visit. It turns out I was there very first Twitter booking.

Charcutrie @ The Cliff House

charcuterie @ The Cliff House

I am glad to report that both Cork and Waterford are being well served by two fine restaurants. I would love to go back to them both at night, and have a crack at the wine list. I am sure that no matter how good it is, I would probably end up saying that it needed a little bit more Red Nose Wine. There’s time yet :)

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Past Articles – The weary wine merchants travels

May 3rd, 2010

Long before there was my blog, there were my articles in the paper. Seeing it is a bank holiday and I am feeling lazy, I will copy one of last summers articles ( or 2 ). I am also planning this summer’s big journey so nostalgia is setting in. However, it may be my age, but nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Anyway, these articles were posted from the road last June.

Greetings from the vineyards of Provence in the south of France. The sun is beating down on my white Irish brow, and the insects must know I am on a wine tasting trip. They sense either the alcohol or sweet fruits of the vine that are flowing through my sunburned veins. They have devoured me these last few days and one of my legs looks like an overworked bodybuilder, on a bad day. If only I could explain to them that I have been spitting all the wine on this trip.

I have a little gap in my itinerary and have time to grab lunch in Le Bistro de Lourmarin, which funnily enough is in a small village called Lourmarin. This is the village where Peter Mayle re-settled after having to sell his original Luberon house when his book, “A Year In Provence” became a worldwide hit. It made the Luberon very crowded and Mr. Mayle a tourist attraction. I was hoping to spot him having a quiet coffee, but it is not to be. After lunch I make the hazardous and extremely scenic mountain drive between Lourmarin and Bonnieux, which leads on to Roussillon, where Domaine de Tara can be found. Incidentally, Roussillon is where Samuel Beckett spent most of World War 2, having being exiled from Paris. He later complained that he found it too hot, and today I can understand why.

The very scenic village of Roussillon in the Luberon, Provence

The very scenic village of Roussillon in the Luberon, Provence

Those of you familiar with Red Nose Wine, may be aware of Tara and Michele Follea’s award winning wines, which we have imported since our first day in business. I am here to taste the latest vintage and fight over price. Poor Mr. Lenihan and his excise duty get yet another battering. The wines are Cotes de Ventoux and the reds are primarily made up of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. A cheaper version of Chateauneuf du Pape for all the world, and not as heavy, so you can drink them in the summer. The whites are delicate Rousanne based wines and offer a great alternative to those sick of Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The meeting/tasting goes well and I try once more to find out whether the domaine is named after Scarlett O Hara’s homestead or the big hill beside the motorway. It depends who is asking is the well worn line. Whatever the truth, it is amazing how Ireland permeates the wine culture of France.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine at Domaine de Tara

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine at Domaine de Tara

Tomorrow I am off to visit the great vineyard of the Languedoc, Mas de Daumas Gassac. Aimé Guibert’s wife Véronique is one of the preeminent scholars on Irish ethnology, and the family have a house in Bantry Bay. Their son, who now runs the business, went to school in Rockwell College. It is a small world. This is a family who redefined Languedoc wines on their own. The wine is referred to as the “Lafite of the Langeudoc” or the only Grand Cru wine from the region. They are no fools though, and have a range of wines from €8.99 all the way up the Grand Cru wine. They are also a joy to work with, as they show true understanding of the demands and realities of the Irish wine buying public. And in true French style (when you get to know them that is), they have also promised to give me a nice lunch among the vines tomorrow. Bon appétit.

With that in mind, I bid you farewell from Provence and the searing sun and hungry insects. All going well, I will return next week with news on many new and exciting wines I have found.

Part 2 of the Article – published the following week

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Continued greetings from the vineyards of Provence, Languedoc, Chateauneuf du Pape and Bandol in the south of France. The sun has been joined by an unseasonal mini Mistral wind that swirls above us, and hammers the fishing boats in the harbor against each other. Yet, with nature roaring, the insects prove more resilient than the boats and continue to feed on my weary legs. At least the driving has stopped, and with it the torturous spiting of all the great wines that I have been tasting. Samples fill the corners of the house I am renting, and my 2 year old daughter is beginning to call it Daddy’s shop. Even sadder, I will have to dump the majority of them before I leave.

After I left you last week, I spent a fantastic day with Samuel Guibert in Mas Daumas Gassac. The “Lafite of the Languedoc” certainly lives up to its name and it is truly a magical valley. After a very pleasant lunch in a nearby village, we drove through the valley on Samuels jeep (no car would survive 5 minutes). The vineyard is spread out over an amazing natural amphitheatre – flat, steep and everything in between – see the photo. Rather than raze the whole plot, they decided to keep the natural boundaries in place and what you get is small independent portions of vines scattered throughout the valley. When the family bought this land, it was farmed traditionally with the horse. No chemical fertilizers have ever been on this land (the horse did ALL the work), and this is an integral part of their philosophy. Bordering the valley is the famous forest that Sameul’s father, Aimé, so famously defended from the Californian wine giant, Robert Mondavi. For those of you who remember Falcon Crest, the Mondavi’s were supposedly the blueprint for the family in the TV series. However, this would be completely irrelevant if the Guibert’s were not making fantastic wine at all price points. Samuel has promised to come over to Red Nose Wine next year for a very special tasting / dinner. I can’t wait.

Louis XV of France was once asked the secret of his eternal youth and he replied, “the wines of Bandol”. Now Louis may have told the truth, as the Mourvèdre based wines are delicious, but he did not have to drive from Martigues to Bandol to taste them. Any map will tell you that it is motorway nearly all of the way, and it should take under an hour. Considering I have covered more than 1,500km this week, it is one of my shorter trips. What they don’t tell you is that a part of the motorway goes through central Marseille, and there is a tunnel section that makes Jack Lynch’s look like the gap under Laffensbridge near Killenaule. As I entered Marseille, the traffic got busier, and the lanes got narrower. However, when we entered the tunnel, already being bullied into doing the maximum 130km/hr, every car suddenly found another gear and I found myself in the middle of a scary computer game. I was getting flashed and beeped and people were jumping lanes in the dark. There are actually exits off of the tunnel and people suddenly realize they have missed theirs and just veer at huge speeds to make it. The rules of skiing apply it seems. It is the responsibility of the person behind not to hit the idiot in front. After surviving the tunnel, they then have the audacity to ask you to pay a toll of €2.70. Don’t pay the ferryman. You have no choice if you want off of the mad merry-go-round. I was dreaming of Laffensbridge by the time I finally got to Bandol and its picture postcard wine country. I am still not sure the general wine buying public will have the stomach for Bandol when it is young, or the patience to wait for it to age. I am undecided whether to import into Red Nose Wine. I did taste some great examples of the wine though. I may bring in a little of the Rosé and the Red and see what happens. Incidentally, I took the long way home via Aix en Provence.

I was trying to get under this city at speed

I was trying to get under this city at speed

The next article they let me publish will be from Ireland, and I will keep you updated on how the insect bites are adapting to the Irish weather. I know you care. More importantly, I will return to a more structured piece on wine. I just thought you might like the peak into the wine buying routes.

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For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

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