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Article – A Tipperary Taste of Provence

November 15th, 2010

Red Nose for the The Frontline

This is the second attempt at this article. When I wrote the first, it was on the back of hitting a creative wall and not knowing what to talk about. Inspiration, for use of a better word dragged me into a political and social rant. I will shelve that article and save the argument for when Pat or Miriam ask me to rant in the centrally approved forum that is RTE 1. Until that happens, I will bring you sunshine and rainbows with a side of wonderful wine.

Pat Kenny tries to get Red Nose Wine on the show !!!

Pat Kenny tries to get Red Nose Wine on the show !!!

Tipp Food goes on and on

If you buy the paper on Wednesday you are no doubt very excited about tonight’s Tipperary Food Producers Extravaganza. If it is later in the week, you are in awe of the wonderful food (and wine) on your doorstep and can’t wait to tell everyone about it. Alternatively, you missed the show and are avoiding all of your friends who were there, as they keep reminding you of how good it was. Wherever you fit in this little jigsaw please keep local business in your thoughts this Christmas. We need your support.

Jane Boyce MW and Pat Whelan discuss wines to go with Pat's recipes.

Jane Boyce MW and Pat Whelan discuss wines to go with Pat's recipes.


The Twitterati and Food Connect Program cover the Food Extravaganza

There are even more events to look forward to in the run up to Christmas. I had lunch last week with Gay McGuiness, the Kilkenny man who owns Domaine des Anges, the organic vineyard that lies in beautiful Provence, just over the hill from Chateauneuf du Pape. We are delighted to announce that the winemaker, Ciaran Rooney will be visiting Clonmel on November 24th and taking part in a wine dinner in Befanis.

Domaine des Anges Dinner Poster

Domaine des Anges Dinner Poster

Kilkenny & Tipperary meet again

Myself and Fulvio have been trying to organise a wine dinner for a long time, so I am delighted that it is with one of my own personal favourites. Places are limited and selling very well so if you want 5 different wines and a 4 course dinner for only 45 Euros, please contact Red Nose Wine or Befanis to get your ticket. There will be special prizes on the night as well.

I wrote about my visit there this summer, and will not wax lyrical about the room with the view this time. I will talk more about the wines and why they are constantly being reviewed as among the very best in France. Tomas Clancy gave them a huge write up in last week’s Sunday Business Post (although he forget to mention Red Nose Wine), and Oz Clarke has them in his 250 Great Wines book every year. My old friend Jancis Robinson is also a big fan.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine with Gay McGuiness at Domaine des Anges

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine with Gay McGuiness at Domaine des Anges

As well as the quality, the most consistent message from them all is the value. These are very well priced and if you don’t want to pay for Chateauneuf du Pape or White Burgundy, then you would do a lot worse than try these. They have been one of my big success stories this last year.

Some Tasting Notes

The Reds are based around Syrah and Grenache, the classic Rhone Valley varieties. The Classic cuvee (i.e. the cheap one) is dominated by Grenache just like its illustrious neighbour in Chateauneuf. The nose is a mix of raspberries, cranberries, chocolate, and liquorice with subtle notes of thyme and rosemary. But will we like it Gary? I believe that you will if you like full bodied wine with a long silky finish. I think it tastes much better when decanted and there is not a lot of 12 Euro wines you can say that about.

Domaine des Anges

Domaine des Anges

The L’Archange Red is a huge step up in quality and this Syrah dominated wine from old vines is a star. A Northern Rhone Syrah is one of the iconic wines in the world and usually has an iconic price to match. The likes of Jaboulet La Chapelle can put you back some serious money. The L’Archange is under twenty and offers spices such as nutmeg and clove complete with ripe blackcurrant and plum on the nose. The palette explodes with rich, ripe fruit and a refreshing note of lemon thyme all supported by spicy tannins. The finish is full, round and lingers long in the mouth. I cannot wait to try this with Befanis fillet of beef on November 24th.


 

Del Boy Trotter’s favourite wine

While comparisons with its Fancy Dan Red Wine neighbour over the hill are the most obvious, the critics would tell you that the real stars are the white wines. Tomas Clancy from the Sunday Business Post thoughts is closest to my own on the top wine. “For me, the star of Domaine des Anges, it makes only 750 cases a year as it is a single vineyard wine. Barrel-fermented Rousanne, letting the wine sit on its lees, and ageing in oak provides the kinds of kid-glove treatment you expect of a flashy and expensive Burgundy”. High praise indeed. This is an allocation wine for me. That means I can only get a very small amount every year. I have six cases to get me to the next vintage. We’ll drink at least one of those at the dinner, so hurry up.

 The Hills are Alive…. with Acidity

White wine from Provence is not supposed to taste like this, and the reason that it does? The vineyard is situated on a hillside facing Mont Ventoux, “The Giant of Provence”, which rises to 1912m in altitude. The mountain has a profound influence on the climate of the vineyards with cool evening breezes refreshing the vines in summer after the day’s intense heat, and so enabling the vines to maintain high natural acids and elegant tannins.

In fact, the best white wines from traditionally warm parts of the world nearly always share this altitude and cooling effect. The great white wines of the Loire Valley and Burgundy are much more northern so the climate gives them this coolness that acidity demands.

 Hollywood is coming

As I write this, tomorrow sees another new wine departing the vineyard for Red Nose Wine. I wrote about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s vineyard in Provence earlier this year and I am delighted to say that the wonderful Chateau Miraval is on the way. This is another Provence wine that sits high up in the hills, beside my old favourite Chateau Margui. I am delighted that Ciaran Rooney will be the star of Red Nose Wine’s first wine dinner and we are planning more. Will Brad and Angelina attend one of these? If they do, it will be first refusal for the people who attend the other ones.

Chateau Miraval

Chateau Miraval

If you want to taste Domaine des Anges but can’t make the dinner, don’t forget we are having our very first portfolio tasting in Hickeys Cafe at the Westgate in Clonmel on December 9th. There won’t be the usual winemaker talk and taste format. We will have a huge amount of wines open and it will be very informal as you taste what you want in a very social atmosphere. There will be food and maybe even some music – I will need to restring my guitar. I will have everything opened from the 8 Euro everyday wines to the seriously complex superstar wines. Book your tickets now.

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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”

Article – Hollywood and Wine

July 24th, 2010

I am still sweating and writing this article about 5 minutes after coming back from two vineyard visits today in the searing heat. I hear there has been a drop of rain in Ireland but France continues to sizzle. There are only so many times you can change your underpants in one day. Too much information I hear you shout. Anyway, this article will describe a visit I had today with a legend in wine.

John cools off in the heat

John cools off in the heat

Emmanuel Gaujal is the foremost consultant in Provence wine and in particular white wine. He owns a company that consults with other winemakers but his most important client is the very famous Chateau Miraval. I have used the word famous with many vineyards so you might think, “here he goes again”. Why is Miraval famous? Is it because it goes back to pre Roman times or because Pink Floyd recorded their seminal album “The Wall” there? Is it because The Cranberries recorded in the same studio, as well as a lot of other famous artists? Maybe it’s because it was recently purchased by a very famous Hollywood couple who are among the most famous people on the planet, if you are into that type of thing. All of the above is true, but it is also famous for creating a white wine that many regard as the best in France.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine in Chateau Miraval, Provence

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine in Chateau Miraval, Provence

In advance of the trip I had to send details of my car and the person travelling with me. A rigorous interview at the security gates and we were in, and took the 2km drive to the main house and around the back to the office where an early morning coffee and a discussion on the philosophy of the estate was had in the courtyard. Organic is the order of the day here and very traditional methods are used in parallel with Mr. Gaujal’s many years of expertise. He helped create estates including the original incarnation of Chateau Vignelaure, later made famous again by David O Brien. This part of Provence is not really known for white wine as the hot weather does not make a good bedfellow for the acidity often required in great white wine. However the commune of Correns near Brignols uses its altitude ( a few dodgy bends were manoeuvred to get there ) and microclimate to create a truly exceptional wine. We tasted their Rose ( called Pink Floyd ) before the 3 whites. While the “Lady Jane” is the wine that is technically the most complex, for me the middle wine, Terre Blanche really stole the show. It had supreme balance, acidity and a wonderful expression of fruit. It really impressed me, and also my guest, who usually prefers red wine. At a fraction of the cost of the serious Burgundy wines, I am seriously considering trying it out on the Irish market. I’ll keep you posted. If I get it in, it will be in small amounts, but I will open it for a week in the shop. I can’t promise we will get Brad or Angelina over for a tasting, but you never know.

The Miraval estate covers 2 appelations - Cotes de Provence ( left of road ) and Cotes Varois ( right )

The Miraval estate covers 2 appelations - Cotes de Provence ( left of road ) and Cotes Varois ( right )

After the visit to the Hollywood Hills, we met one of my earliest suppliers, Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui for a very long and leisurely lunch. This was followed by a visit to Margui itself and while I have been there a few times, my guest has not, and was suitably impressed. He renovated an old farmhouse from the 18th century and it is a sight to behold. If you are near Provence, and want to visit a vineyard, let me know. Philippe is a most gracious host and his estate will blow you away. Like most of France, Philippe is very excited by the 2009 vintage and i have the white chilling in the fridge as I write. The reds won’t be bottled until next year. I have long waxed lyrical about Philippe and his generosity to me when I started. The fact that his wines are still as popular is testament to his skill as a winemaker and a businessman. Until next time, from the sunny south of France.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui

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”

Article – The water and the wine

July 8th, 2010

The gardeners of the country are rejoicing. The rain has arrived and their plants, vegetables and flowers are well in need of it. I was in college with the founder of GIY, Grow It Yourself, who promote the idea of self sufficiency in the back garden. He has been tweeting this morning about the rain and how welcome it is. Looking out the window into my backgarden, I can tell you that my wife’s spinach is out of control, so the rain did its job. Seeing as I was looking for inspiration on today’s subject, I thought Mick’s tweet was as good a place as any to start. Rain – how important is it to a wine’s quality?

Water is one of the four elements, with fire, earth and air the other three. There is of course a Bruce Willis film about an attractive supermodel from Eastern Europe being the fifth element. There was very little wine in that particular film, so we will dismiss it. By all means, if it comes on TV late at night, take a leaf out of George Hook’s book, and Sky Plus it. You can judge for yourself, but always remember, Sky care; as least that’s what George tells us. I am now well into the second paragraph and I haven’t really talked about wine. Water is a very important component to wine, but seeing that if you spill it on yourself, you will get wet, but this may be fairly obvious. But to assess the impact water has on the lifecycle of the grape and subsequent wine, you need to look at one important factor. Is it a dry vineyard or does it use irrigation. As a rule, the old world is dry and the new world tend to use irrigation, but there are countless wines that dismiss this theory. In fact, there seems to be a growing trend from premium winemakers in the new world towards terroir driven ‘dry’ vineyards. A lot of it stems from the practice of ampelography ( the “wha” is the cry from the back of the church?). As any proficient user of Google will tell you, it is the practice of matching the grape variety to its environment. If this is done correctly, you really shouldn’t need to irrigate the vines. Buyer beware when you see certain grape varieties grown in areas where they really don’t belong. What Mother Nature can’t provide, Uncle Chemistry supplements and Doctor Paracetamol is needed for Father Hangover. As is the wine world’s prerogative, there are of course exceptions and little pieces of land with very different characteristics to its neighbours have been found and miracle wines produced.

A dry vineyard means no irrigation, and a reliance on the weather falling at the right time. In many cases, the lack of regular water puts a stress on the vine, which many people believe is necessary for it to produce it’s best expression of fruit. Think of professional sport, and the shots produced in the heat of battle in golf majors, or the incredible scores found on All Ireland day in hurling. Look at cycling, and drugs or no drugs, the limits those people push their bodies to in the Tour de France is insane. After hours in the mountains, they must then sprint to defend attacks. I have no idea if Lance Armstrong is a nice guy or not, but having read his book and seeing him in his pomp on the Champs Elysee in Paris, he produces his best “fruit” while his body his under severe stress. Other people collapse at this point, and some vines can also collapse under the stress. The dry vineyard people also believe in this stress, so on older vines you will have roots that travel for miles underground in search of water and their fruit is a reflection of this journey as much as it is about the plot of land where the vines are planted. One of my best selling wines is Chateau Margui from Provence and Philippe Guillanton planted apricot trees near his white wine vines. These were young vines so very impressionable and almost immediately took on the flavours of the nearby fruit.

Irrigated vines would be very fruit driven as well, but the characteristics of the grape variety would be stronger here. The fruit tends to be more forward so Cabernet Sauvignon tends to taste of blackcurrant and other typical Cab Sab varieties. They can be jammy ( in hotter climates ) or quite vegetal in cooler climates. They get drip-fed water at appropriate times so never to be under pressure. This begs the question, for vines that are not irrigated, what are the optimal times to get a drop of rain. Ideally, a vineyard will get rain early in the cycle to encourage growth, but a rain towards the end of the cycle can bring on rot, which is not what you want. Excess rain in June can also prevent pollination of the vines flowers. A blast of sunshine in the last month before harvest has been known to save many a vintage. Too much rain at this point and you get big fat juicy grapes, but they are not concentrated. There is too much water and not enough fruit.

I have a personal preference for dry vineyard wines, but there is a strong case for a little bit of help at certain times, when there is a real need to save the harvest. Both Spain and France are reviewing their laws on this, so you may see changes going forward. Life is hard enough for these people, without losing everything to a hot spell at the wrong time. Shrivelled up dehydrated grapes can often result in very concentrated wines, and very often with high levels of alcohol. Climate change is forcing the issue to the table sooner than it might have. When the weather is perfect ( like 2009 was all over France ), the taste of place and character from a traditional wine is a great advert for nature. So, as I finish writing, I look forward to tonight’s home grown spinach and the good weather returning sooner rather than later.

Red Nose Wine are making room for the news wines we have found, and are having a massive sale starting this week. There will be very serious wines and not so serious wines to be had, at clearance prices. Prices start from €3.75.

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 July 8 2010

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”

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.

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”

Our fallen comrades

March 31st, 2010

Today was a terrible day in Red Nose Wine. I dropped the kids to the crèche and came back to try and do a little bit of work at home before facing the cold cold warehouse. Such was my rush to start tweeting and engage in all things virtual that i grabbed the laptop case and forgot that I had deposited a little present in the side pocket the night before. We are currently in the days of Wine and Roses, without the Roses. I am receiving samples from my recent travels on nearly a daily basis. While the warehouse has warmed up considerably, you still don’t want to take the vest off, so I tend to bring the reds home to taste. Also, you need to give the poor bottles a chance to recover from the journey. Anyway, the wine was in the bag, and bang, whoosh, wallop. With one swift movement, i created this :

broken bottle

Needless to say, the tweeting was reduced to a limited few expletives and the mop and broom took centre stage. But it got me to thinking, what else have i dropped. A couple of bottles of the wonderful Les Terrasses and Margui and Margaux. But the worst story i witnessed was in a restaurant in Paris a few years ago. A regular client was impressing a few friends and brought with him a bottle of 1961 Petrus. This is BYOB at its best. The poor waiter was so nervous opening this €2,000 – €4,000 bottle of wine that it slipped through his palms and bang. I was about 2 tables away but the look on his face and the wine’s owner said it all… I will have to drop a lot more bottles to catch up. I hope today was my last.

Has anyone else any good bottle dropping stories? I heard a few on twitter today but won’t repeat them without consent. So, Kevin, Mike, Frank, Paula and David, the floor is open to you and anybody else who nearly tasted that fruit of the vine only for the crash of the bottle to end it all on tears.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

——- update on BlogPost ——-

My comment above ” I hope today was my last” has proved to be a bit of a jinx. Only 2 days later, in a vain attempt to clean up the warehouse when closed for Good Friday, i did the following :

Another Broken Bottle

Another Broken Bottle

The only consolation was that it was Le Page de Vignelaure and not Chateau Vignelaure that i dropped. In future i shall keep my mouth ( or blog ) shut….

Trains, Planes and Burping Bacon

February 4th, 2010

Gary Gubbins blogging 'live' from Milliseme Bio 2010

It’s always easier to write about something that has happened to you, as you can hang your little throwaway comments against something tangible. As I mentioned last week, I was going to the Milliseme Bio organic wine fair in Montpellier. I am back and have lots to say, so this article will be stretched over two parts as I feel compelled to talk about the supermodels, paparazzi and the smallest toilet in Paris. Before all of that I need to talk about wine of course. Last week’s article title should have prepared me, but instead it jinxed me. I had all of my planning in place for a very well organised trip. However, the fog on Monday morning delayed the flight from Cork to Paris for three hours and the train to Montpellier I had pre-booked had long since left Charles de Gaulle’s TGV train station. It was getting late when we eventually got to the notice board in the station and I spotted a train leaving for Marseille. I knew it would have to go through Lyon, where there was a chance we could catch a connection to Montpellier. If it didn’t work out, we would end up in Marseille or Lyon, both fine places to find oneself stranded. In the end, after a chat with a very nice conductor, I found out that there was an 11 minute gap between the Paris train arriving in Lyon and the Montpellier train leaving. European trains are great – they actually use the timetables as more than rough guidelines. By all accounts, the conductors will actually enforce your claim for a reserved seat. What a concept. Excuse the slight sarcasm, but I am reminiscing about a trip to Dublin for a Tipperary match where a person would not vacate the seat I had booked online. The fact that I was a little sick on that particular morning did not help the situation. Needless to say, the ‘officials’ did not want to get involved and I am a peaceful man at heart and decided not to physically eject the 6ft 4inch monster from my seat. I digress from my journey into deepest France. We arrived in the hotel for about 9.30 that night, after an 8 a.m. start. Some food and then an early night for there was tasting to be done the next day.

I rose early and had a light breakfast, which was difficult considering the wide array of fried delicacies available at the buffet. When I am doing a marathon tasting I don’t like to be full or even eat anything more than bread or toast, as the flavours can come back at you later. Burping up the scent of an earlier bacon roll while, trying to figure out the subtleties of a good Burgundy is not ideal. Fizzy drinks and mints are also banned. Women should avoid perfume and men should avoid aftershave ( and perfume for that matter ). A shuttle bus was arranged to collect would be tasters near the hotel and I boarded full of enthusiasm. After registration and a cloak room visit, the sleeves were rolled up and I was ready to go. The hall has rows of tables with about 500 exhibitors ( which is actually quite a small show – relatively ), each showing anywhere from 4 to 50 wines. I had a list that I had researched and that needed to be cut again. You need to be brutal in your discrimination, and a simple thing like a bad label will end the visit before it begins. What has a label to do with the quality of the wine you ask? Absolutely nothing but public perception demands a certain aesthetic and I have a list of great wines I could not sell because of the labels. I sell a great Provence wine called Domaine de Tara, but I find it hard to shift, and I constantly get negative feedback about the label. People who taste it in generally love it, and it is very well priced for wines of that quality ( €13.50 and €16.50 ). With this in mind, I attack my list.

Philippe Guillanton of Ch Margui at Milliseme Bio 2010<

I can’t go into too much detail of the actual winemakers I met as I need to go into negotiation stage with some of them and that can be a delicate process and one can’t appear too keen. They might be reading the blog. I can tell you that I met with some really good Italian winemakers and would hope to start bringing in some Chianti, Pinot Grigio, Piedmont, Sicilian wines and others at a really great price. Bringing in the wines direct makes a huge difference in terms of quality but also in terms of price. I am really excited by some of the Rhone Valley wines I found. I have slowly been increasing my range in Rhone Valley and this trip has given me a number of great contacts to follow up on. I tasted some exceptional wines and can’t wait to fly down this spring and negotiate. The easy thing to do at these shows is to decide based on what you taste there. However, you are tasting a lot of wine, you are under pressure for time, and it has been suggested that some people take their ‘special’ wines to these shows. Therefore, if you are serious about importing wines I think it is essential that you go and meet these people in their own house, and see the work they put in on a daily basis. Their passion deserves respect but they also need to know that you will pay them as well. Sitting across the kitchen table from a winemaker (or farmer) and telling them that you will pay them in the agreed time is an important part of the process and travelling to their home to tell them this means a lot to these traditional people. You also need to taste again and be sure of what you are buying.

I also managed to meet some existing suppliers when there. I met with Caroline Feely of Chateau Haut Garrigue and congratulated her on the recent Nationwide feature which has resulted in lots of bookings for the holiday home in the vines as well as big interest in the wines. The video of the show is available on www.rednosewine.com for those interested. The wines are very popular for us, and it’s easy to see why. Great quality at a great price. I also got to meet Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui and he introduced me to a very important winemaker. The vineyard in question is famous as its recording studio has seen Pink Floyd, Sting and even the Cranberries record there. More recently it is the home of a very famous Hollywood acting couple, and I have been invited to visit this summer, as it is next door to Margui. I only hope that Angelina is home when I call. I posted a lot of videos and photographs from the trip on www.rednosewine.com/blog - log on to have a peak. Next week I will talk about what happened after the show – a great restaurant and wine list, colliding with the paparazzi and a supermodel in Paris and a dodgy sandwich on the TGV. It’s not pretty and won’t be for those of a delicate nature.

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”

Blogs posted “live” from Trip
http://www.rednosewine.com/blog/index.php/2010/01/26/live-from-montpellier-part1/
http://www.rednosewine.com/blog/index.php/2010/01/26/live-from-montpellier-part-2/
http://www.rednosewine.com/blog/index.php/2010/01/26/live-from-montpellier-3/

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Feb 04 2010

Live from Montpellier 3

January 26th, 2010

Back in the hotel and black teeth to the fore. Had a great days tasting and I made some great contacts and look to have found some really excellent wines. It was great to catch up to Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui as well as Caroline Feely of Chateau Haut Garrigue. Caroline was still enjoying her recent brush with fame when Nationwide featured them on the program.

Phillipe Guillanton and Gary Gubbins at Milliseme Bio 2010

Phillipe Guillanton and Gary Gubbins at Milliseme Bio 2010

I also met up with Vincent Careme of the wonderful Loire Valley Sparkling Chenin Blanc that we bring in.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Vincent Careme

It looks like I found some great wines from all over and there is still work to be done before they become official, but included was a really great wine with a huge history and the wines matched the stories. Super stuff indeed. More will be revealed when it can be revealed.

A dodgy video of me towards the end of the day with black teeth and a slightly glazed look in my eye, even though i spat all day long.

Live from Montpellier Part 2

January 26th, 2010

“Live” video direct from Millisme Bio in Montpellier

Pilippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui

Caroline Feely of Chateau Haut Garrigue

Live from Montpellier – Part1

January 26th, 2010

Welcome to the south of France and Montpellier in particular. I am blogging live from the Milliseme Bio Trade Fair which houses organic and biodynamic winemakers from all over the world.

Gary Gubbins blogging 'live' from Milliseme Bio 2010

I was a long time getting here as fog in Cork airport delayed the flight by 3 hours and our train was gone. We jumped on a later train that was going to Marseille and got off in Lyon – France being France, there was a train going to Montpellier in 10 minutes, 12 hours after leaving Clonmel, we finally arrived in the hotel in Montpellier. We dropped the bags, had a quick drink in the hotel and just about made our resevation in a fantastic resteraunt called Le Bains de Montpellier. The building is based around the 12th century bathhouse of the gentry of the time. The food was fantastic and we had a very nice local wine called Bergerie L’Hotus, Pic St Loup from the Coteaux du Languedoc. Very spicey with Syrah coming to the fore.

Anyway, an early start and i have already met Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui and here he is showing his wares to a group of would be buyers. Or maybe they are tyre-kickers. I have spotted a few of them as well. We will get back to Philippe in a later blog.

Philippe Guillanton of Ch Margui at Milliseme Bio 2010

Until then, a tasting i will go and I will be back soon with video, photos and wines….

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