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Article – Easter : Lamb, Chocolate & Wine

April 3rd, 2010

Hello Lovers of the Vine. We are in the holiest of weeks, and whatever your decision regarding rugby, alcohol or Good Friday, Easter offers a great excuse to trade up and enjoy the finer wines with your dinner. I myself will be closing the shop on Good Friday, as the law requires it, but I have always taken it handy on that day. I like to take a step back now and again, and that’s a great day to take stock. Of course it also means that I can spend a few more Euros at the weekend without any guilt. Being Catholic can often lend itself towards delayed gratification and the sweet taste that can so very often follow the sacrifice. With this in mind, and the recession clearly ignored, I am going to discuss wines to match two of Easter’s more popular delicacies – lamb and chocolate.

Let’s carve up the lamb first and this has some classic pairings that are already engrained in the wine vocabulary. There are a number of reasons for this. Going back thousands of years, to ancient Greece and into old France, Spain and Italy, the most popular meat was lamb. The sheep often grazed in the vineyards so the pairing was almost instinctive. Go to Greece (or even your local kebab shop) today and there is quite a lot of lamb on the menu. But add to this practicality, and the fact that the flavour of the lamb lends itself perfectly to wine. My mouth is watering as I write this, and I am not sure it is for the wine or for the lamb. It could also be that I was in Cork all day and was delayed getting back to the shop and had no lunch. A packet of peanuts might also make my mouth water at the moment. I digress again, and it is back to the lamb and in particular the wine to accompany it. I think it would depend on the cut of lamb and how it is prepared. If money is no object, then I would suggest a Pauillac from the Medoc region of Bordeaux. If your budget can’t stretch to a 1st growth Château Mouton Rothschild or even a 5th growth Lynch Bages, then there are plenty of substitutes. There are lots of really good value Bordeaux wines out there and it is the dry tannic nature of the Cabernet Sauvignon that reacts so well with the lamb. Many attest to the minty herbal nature of Cabernet with the grassiness of the lamb, and others think this is a load of rubbish. Pinot Noir tends to show off different sides of the lamb, so if it is not overly lean, I think the Pinot Noir can offer some great flavours. Regardless of the grape, one thing that seems to run true is that a chewier meat should be matched to a chewier wine, and by this I mean a younger tannic wine. The meat will make the wines seem smoother than they would be on their own. Other wines that go with Lamb for much the same reasons are Spanish Rioja’s and Italian Chianti or Sangiovese varieties. The really great news is that I have a huge selection of all of the above at all prices. We will be opening some of them this week. What is sure is that if you are looking to show your red wines at their best, be they Cabernet, Shiraz or Pinot Noir, match them with some lamb and you have a head start.

If you are not too pushed on your lamb, and would prefer to think about all that chocolate you gave up for Lent, then read on. If you gave up both chocolate and wine for Lent, then I am about to blow your mind. I am going to match chocolate and wine. I will give you a few minutes to gather yourself, and then we will begin. Are you ready? Many would argue that the two are incompatible. In fact one of the first things I was warned against eating before wine tasting was chocolate, along with garlic and mints. The idea was that the intense flavour of chocolate overwhelmed the wine. In this instance I am talking about real artisan concentrated chocolate, in much the same way as I always refer to handmade wine. At least with chocolate there is a brand association with quality. Because it is a controlled environment, and the weather doesn’t play a big role, you can mass produce great chocolate, unlike wine. The bad news for all you white wine drinkers is that chocolate prefers red wine. Unless it is something like a desert wine or IceWine, you will be looking at strong wines, with a lot of body, ideally, a bit of Cabernet for that minty undercurrent. This is much the same reason it goes with lamb, and as an interesting aside, why mint sauce is often served with lamb. You are looking for harmony and complimentary behaviour. It is the aftertaste in the chocolate that you are trying to stand up to, and you need this edge in the wine.

A perfect example is Chateau Paradis (Cabernet and Syrah), from Provence which was featured in the Irish Times last Saturday. There was a nice little piece on Red Nose Wine and Chateau Paradis, which was wine of the week. A fantastic wine for Easter and a real bargain at 15.50 a bottle. It will go with both the lamb and the chocolate. Was that a subtle plug or was it overly aggressive? The wine is ridiculously cheap for the quality, so I am confident to take the Pepsi challenge against other wines at that price.

I had a great time in Fethard last week. Thanks to all the committee members of the Acorn Childcare Committee for letting me talk about wine to a room full of 150 women. I learned all about the different shapes a woman can have at the fashion show. I think women are possibly as complex as wine. Tickets for the Wine tasting with Samuel Guibert on April 14th are really moving, so don’t be disappointed and book now – only 10 Euros for a chance to meet and taste with one of the great winemakers in France today.

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 Apr 1 2010

Mas de Daumas Gassac Tasting

April 1st, 2010

We are very excited to announce that Samuel Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac will be travelling to Ireland and Clonmel in particular for a very special tasting of Mas de Daumas Gassac wines. As well as the 2007 Red, we will be trying the new 2008 vintage, just released. We will also compare the 2008 White to the 2009. These are very special wines from a very special vineyard. The accolades for the wines stretch back over decades and too many to mention. A sample include :

“Daumas Gassac brought new ideas to the Languedoc by farming organically, using low-yielding old clone vines and planting a multitude of grape varieties to build complexity in their wines. The French magazine Gault-Milau called Daumas Gassac “Lafite Rothchild of the Languedoc-Roussillon” while the London Times argued that it tasted like a “Latour”; Hugh Johnson called it “the only Grand Cru of the Midi”, Michael Broadbent wrote “One of the ten best wines in the world” and Robert Parker, Jr. claimed it to be “Exceptional” and “One of the most remarkable non-appellation wines of France.” The Wine Spectator’s 1994 article on this region concluded, “Only four wines rated outstanding, and they are all from the same producer – Mas de Daumas Gassac, the undisputed star of the Languedoc-Roussillon.”

And for what it is worth, I agree. I had the great pleasure of visiting Gassac last year and saw for myself the magic in the valley.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Samuel Guibert welcoming Red Nose Wine to Mas de Daumas Gassac

Samuel Guibert welcoming Red Nose Wine to Mas de Daumas Gassac

We will also be tasting a range of wines from the Reserve Red & White, Concept wines – Elise, Albaran and Faune, as well as the Guilhem Red & White wines. We will also have an exclusive first tasting of the new wine – Le Classic du Gassac. €10 per Ticket, payable in advance.
Contact Gary Gubbins by phone 052-6182939, email or call into the shop or to Nuala’s cafe for tickets.

Article – The Supermodel and the Parisian Toilet

February 12th, 2010

Last week the story left off after a very successful trip to the Milliseme Bio organic wine show in Montpellier. Good contacts were made and as I write there are samples ferrying their way across France for re-tasting. The trick is to leave them settle for a week or so after their journey. Wines don’t like to move and when they do, it is best to give them a little rest after the trip. If you ever open up a bottle of wine straight from the holiday suitcase, and it tasted a little tight, it will probably be the fault of the journey. I usually let any regulars who are in shop when I am tasting the wines take them away afterwards. My generosity knows no bounds. Giving away free samples after I have opened and tasted them. How will the multinationals compete? They are running for cover as they read this and the imaginary queues are leaving the supermarkets and forming at Red Nose Wine. I want to tell you two little stories this week, one which is wine related and the other is about this celebrity culture that we cannot escape. It is not about a Chelsea footballer.

After the show in Montpellier I was very hungry and I dined at Les Bains de Montpellier, a fantastic restaurant that is situated behind the opera in the famous Place de la Comedie. It was recommended by a number of wine makers, so I knew that the wine list would be good at the very least. It was, and when you have a list that is based around the food, you know you are in for a treat. I had fish the night before and was craving a steak, medium rare with a rich local wine to wash it down with. The matching of food and wine is often overplayed, and a good rule is to keep it simple. I had the sauce on the side, and let the wine flavour the meat, and vice versa. The wine was a top notch Cotes de Roussillon wine that cost €25 and was sublime. The proteins in the steak complimented the wine and I only went near the delicious sauce with the bread after the steak was demolished. I won’t go on about the value, even in the upmarket restaurants, that exists in France and the continent in general. As so many Irish restaurants are struggling at the moment, I don’t think it is fair to comment on the prices they are often forced to charge. But what I do lament is this constant instance to bring in inappropriate wines for the foods that they serve. They choose based on price and quality rarely comes into it. Even the expensive wines that they have don’t suit the menus. There are of course exceptions to this rule all over the country but what is the point in having a big strong Amarone in a fish restaurant? Why don’t more Oriental restaurants offer white wines like Riesling, where the sugar cools down and integrates with the spices? Why don’t we see more affordable Pinot Noir’s on the menus, as they go great with Chicken, which seems to have replaced potatoes as the staple of choice for the Irish people. I understand why people like Chilean Merlot and Italian Pinot Grigio, and I sell lots of them, but sit down with your wine supplier and by all means buy on price, but think of your customers and your food when making the choices. All that will happen is that the market will dictate a very narrow view on which wines are imported and we will go back to the old days. There are a few independent wine importers like myself who are bringing in something different. While the public are definitely open to the choice, the hotels and restaurants are proving harder to infiltrate. We need the public to demand something more from them, but they need to support them by eating out as well. Staying in is the new going out but we all need to get out of the house. The bad weather over the Christmas resulted in a lot of cabin fever in my house anyway.

After this great meal in Montpellier I managed to eat a very dodgy sandwich on the TGV the next day. If you add to this, that the seat was facing the wrong way for the 3 ½ hour journey to Paris, I was very queasy by the time we rolled into Gare de Lyon in central Paris. After checking into the hotel I went for a short stroll around my old haunting ground of the 5th and 6th arrondissements. I was passing Odeon and fell into a crowded entrance where there were loads of paparazzi and a string of limos and fancy taxis pulling up. I stopped to look and it turns out if was Paris Fashion week and there was a party on here for Jean Paul Gautier. It was funny to watch the people who stepped out of the cars looking for the paparazzi and the quick look and even quicker rejection by the paps, when they realised the mutton dressed up as lamb was not worth a photo. I was about to leave when the paps suddenly went bananas and attacked a car where a 7ft skinny blonde model appeared. I recognised her, but could not be sure who she is exactly. Its a few years since I followed the fashion model scene. I did manage to capture the Odeon fashion scene on video ( I have a small camera for the live blogs from the shows ). If you want to have a look and see if you can identify the model, log on to www.rednosewine.com/blog and hazard a guess. I just missed Dita Von Teese and Kate Moss but my sandwich was starting to do its work, and I had to rush back to the smallest hotel room in Paris. I was due to eat in an old haunt and meet up with some people to watch the Manchester United match. My stomach informed that all bets were off and without going into too much of the graphic detail; I spent the next 12 hours going from the bed to the bathroom. I crawled out of bed in the morning and took a taxi to the airport and finally came back to Cork, and on to Clonmel.

Don’t forget St. Valentine’s Day next Sunday. You can surprise your loved one with a €12 bottle of Chateau Valentine ( a lovely Bordeaux Red from the great 2005 vintage ) which we will be promoting and tasting this week. We also have some lovely gift packs which hold a bottle of bubbly and 2 champagne flutes. What could be more romantic? Congratulations to the owners of the local horse that won at 18-1 in Leopardstown last weekend. For once, I did get the tip and had money on. There was also some great news for one of my favourite producers this week as Nicolas Boiron of Bosquet des Papes in Chateauneuf du Papes won the 5 star Decanter awards for the 2007 vintage with his very special cuvee Chante Le Merle. A lot of my regulars know his wines as the Cotes du Rhone and his traditional Chateauneuf are very popular. I often get people into the shop who love to tell me about the amazing price they paid for a Chateauneuf that they bought somewhere else. Considering the time and oak involved in making a traditional one, I always suggest that they taste the difference. There is just no comparison of flavour, length and power. Now, some people don’t like a wine so complicated, so the light weight Chateauneuf might suit their palate more. That’s fine and a matter of taste, but if that is the case, then they should try a Cotes du Rhone, or something made for their style. One thing that should always be the case for a wine be it an €8.50 Pinot Grigio or a €24 Chateauneuf is that the fruit, alcohol and acidity must be in balance. That is very often the problem with large scale commodity wines and why the cheaper wines from the serious winemakers ( like Nicolas ) are often the very best value.

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 Feb 11 2010

5 Star Decanter Award – Bosquet des Papes

February 6th, 2010

The wonderful Bosquet des Papes in Chateauneuf du Papes were just awarded the 5 star award from the very influential Decanter wine magazine. It was for their 2007 Chante Le Merle.

Decanter Award Bosquet Chante 2007

This was a vintage that has been hailed since it was harvested, but Decanter’s group of experts including Margaret Rand and Steven Spurrier, were not overly impressed and felt only a few stars really shone, relative to what was expected. Among them was Bosquet des Papes. Customers have been enjoying the 2000 and the 2005 Chante Le Merle for a while now. I still have the 2007 in bond, and haven’t even had it in the shop as I think it is too soon to drink it. Since the award this week, I have already had an order for case from a customer, so my advice to all its fans, get it when it is going – i don’t have huge stocks. My daughter was born on 2007, and her name is on one of the cases in bond.

I am delighted for Nicolas Boiron as he is a gentleman and i first met him and his wines about 8 years ago when i lived in Paris. I was introduced to him by a Danish friend that I played on the same football team with. The multicultural Paris Gaels. We were just knocked out of the French Cup ( very preliminary stages ), and we went to the big wine fair in Porte de Versailles to drown our sorrows. I ended up buying about 6 cases of different vintages ( as well as countless other Burgundy’s and Bordeaux wines ). A very expensive match. Anyway, I had a great day last summer with Nicholas in his domaine and his cellar has wines going back through the many generations that his family has owned the land.

Bosquet des Papes Tasting selection

Gary Gubbins and Nicolas Boiron at Bosquet des Papes

His other wines, including the very affordable Tradition blends and the magical La Folie also fared very well with 3 stars. One of my best selling wines is his 2007 Cotes du Rhone which leans much more towards a CDP than a CDR. I now need to get more of these wines back in before he sells out. To the batphone !!!!

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