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Sam Neill – The Big Interview

November 19th, 2012

Firstly, thank you very much Sam for taking the time to come over to Ireland and in particular Red Nose Wine to help us launch your wonderful wines on the Irish market.

Sam Neill visits Red Nose Wine

Sam Neill visits Red Nose Wine

Q1 – I will try and get the obvious questions out of the way quickly. What was the first wine that you had that changed your perception of wine from a commodity to something more profound
A Gevrey Chambertin drank in Lausanne Switzerland – it was like Gods hand came out of a cloud and changed the course of my life.

Q2 – What is the greatest moment you enjoyed with a bottle/glass of wine, and where was it? I always find surroundings & company can have a big influence on this.
The first time we served our own wine at a dinner party to a bunch of my thoroughly disgraceful and undeserving friends – a great wine like that is wasted on them frankly.

Q3 – If you were a singer instead of an actor, who would you be and why?
Brian Wilson without the psychedelic drugs thank you very much, although Carl was the better singer.

The Beach Boys

Q4 – If you were to have written any song, what would it be and why?
This week I would say ‘Don’t talk, put our head on my shoulder’ a wonderful version I recommend is by Anne Sofie von Otter and produced by Elvis Costello.

Q5 – When I lived in France, I was told that after people’s flirtations with other regions, all roads eventually lead to Burgundy, and Pinot Noir. Where does Central Otago fit into this odyssey?
When you have got to Burgundy, stay on the same road and it will eventually bring you to Central Otago, and everything we do originates from Burgundy – vines, methods we use to grow those vines and to make the wines subsequently – it all comes from Burgundy, but that wine take a very subtle change of expression at the other end of the world.

Sam meets the great Galilieo at Coolmore

Sam meets the great Galilieo at Coolmore

Q6 – Can you tell us about your latest film project, and did you know that your co-star already has a connection with Red Nose Wine. Have you tasted Domaine des Anges - Cillian Murphy’s father in law make this wine?
Yes, I am doing a 6hr project for BBC 2 called Peaky Blinders alongside your man from Cork Cillian Murphy. A fellow wine enthusiast

Q7 – Why weren’t you in Lord of The Rings?
Actually I was unavailable – no loss for them.

Q7 – What are your plans for Two Paddocks long term? Are you looking to spread the good news all over the world or just the lucky countries, like Ireland?
There is not enough to go around the world but I am always happy to see it in places where people truly love wine, so more of that please.

Q8 – Lastly, you were born in Ireland, and lived for a few years up North before leaving for New Zealand. With this strong connection to Ireland, and your great standing back in New Zealand, could you possibly ask that the All Blacks take it easy on us the next time we play them. The last one really hurt.
I’m always happy to please but now you have gone too far.

Thank you very much, and it is a pleasure to represent such a truly wonderful collection of wines. The feedback so far has really been superb. Sam’s Two Paddocks wines are available online or directly in the shop. You can follow Sam on Twitter at his @twopaddocks handle.

A Guest Blogger – Forever Young

April 12th, 2012

I grew up in Cherrymount on the outskirts of Clonmel and have great memories of playing football on the old tennis court and buying sweets on a Saturday morning in Deccies shop with my 50p pocket money. I lived up the back of the estate and my cousin Alan lived in the front. Conor O Mahony made up the trio of Cherrymount Musketeers.

Bob Dylan & The Nationalist

As we grew older we went in different directions and lost touch as childhood friends often do. Conor is sadly no longer with us as he died unexpectedly of Sudden Cardiac Death following a football match in Dublin in 2006. However it turns out for as much as we had in common as kids, we had a lot in common as adults. We both play guitar, love Bob Dylan’s music, travelling and we both have been known to write our thoughts on paper and The Nationalist have been kind enough to publish them.

Forever Young

I was living in Paris when Conor’s travel journey was published in the Nationalist so it was not until I read the book that has recently been published that I knew about his articles. His father Brendan (of Clonmel Travel fame) walked a part of the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to raise funds for CRY, a charity that raises awareness, offers support for families and also offers access to Cardiac screening for anyone who might feel they are at risk.

Brendan gathered all of Conor’s travel diary entries and added his own section on the Camino and a book that celebrates Conor’s life and raises money for a great cause was born. The book is called Forever Young, after one of Bob Dylan’s songs. It is one of Conor’s ( and coincidently one of my ) favorite songs. I have played and sang this song to my kids when they were small babies. I also made a promise in 2004 to walk the Camino someday, but that’s a story for another day, and involves high heels.

With kind permission from Brendan and Margaret, Conor’s parents, I am going to share one of his articles with you, where he visits a well known winery in Australia. To set the scene, he is backpacking his way up through the Hunter Valley with a bunch of people of a certain age who are enjoying life. Conor’s piece starts here.

Conor’s Wine Trip

“I’m on the OZ Experience bus, which will take me up the east coast, but inland, rather than on the coast, if you get my drift. But first we are heading towards a spot, more a region actually, a place that is famous for its wine – Hunter Valley. I have run out of superlatives for the scenery

The Hunter Valley could be described thus! Grapevines rolling over verdant hills, like well-drilled infantry and all in the cause of wine. I never thought I’d see where, for example, Rosemount wines were made. It has the familiar logo on the gate and on the way in we pass Lindemans and Coopers as well. As it happens, our guide John has factored in a tasting at Rosemount. Better still we are taking a tour around and the tasting and lunch will follow for those who want it.

Conor on His Travels

First we are shown the Hunter Valley ‘cellar door’ tasting. This is an Aussie tradition – you just drive up to the door of these huge warehouses and there is a sham inside who will give you a free tasting of the vineyard’s produce. It’s all done very informally but in that curious Australian way also all very professional and sales oriented – as Kenney Everett would have said ‘in the nicest possible way’. The guy who is doing the tasting is a dyed in the wool denim clad workmanlike Aussie – nothing poncy about this operation – all about good wine and very much to the point He places a couple of bottles of red and white on a barrel top tables and a sheila – Aussie affectionate name for a young lady places glasses and pours.

We have had a few glasses of Rosemount – the red Shiraz is cheeky with big fruit flavours – and the Semillon white is a fruity little wine with overtones of slate and lemon. I’m getting the hang of this wine lark. Some of us are feeling no pain – it’s 11 o’clock in the morning – because we ignored the advise to spit the wine out after tasting it – I mean imagine telling anyone, especially an Irishman, to spit out good – very good – free wine into a spittoon? ‘No way Bruce’ as they say in Queensland. Eventually we reluctantly left this cellar or even stellar experience and went on with the tour.

The most popular brands are the ones we know at home: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. The Aussies were crafty because, rather than do what the French do and name the wine after a region or vineyard, they label with the grape variety and this along with hi tech production saw Australian wines take off in popularity worldwide. Now we got down to the nitty gritty. Our wine lecturer, Sheila is an expert on wine, how grapes are grown, picked, processed, turned into wine, bottled and sent to points of sale worldwide.

Major wine producers from abroad now own Australian wineries, and Australian companies have taken controlling interests in wineries in countries such as France and Chile. The oldest grapevines in the world are here in Australia. Many of Europe’s established vineyards were destroyed by disease in the 1800s, but the vines brought to Australia survived. Funny how a quirk of fate can work in a positive way for some. Wine production here is different. There are no big wooden vats and no wooden barrels, these are used later to age the wine.

The Australian theory is: sell it young without pretension, so instead there are huge stainless steel vats in which the wine is stored. There are no chemicals added but Sheila tells us about bouquet, nose, taste for different parts of the tongue and the one I liked best: ‘length’ of the wine – this is the mmmm and tongue and lip smacking exercise that goes of after the wine is swallowed.

She also reveals that the secret of Australian wine success is control. The wine is popular because only sugar is added. Resident chemists analyse the wine each year and make sure the quality, taste, colour are the same. This may sound boring but it’s what happens to the bulk of the wine and the success is due to the fact that if you drink a 1995 bottle of wine and like it and you buy a 2002 bottle, the experience and the taste is going to be the same – the exact same.

Then our hosts decide to test us and have a competition. They bring out ten glasses of red wine and tell us that only one is a Rosemount ‘Who was poyin’ attinshun?’ Sheila asks. The prize: a bottle of champagne for the table. I got nominated to represent the group mainly because I was still able to stand up and wasn’t hammered like the rest of the crew. I hammed it up and did all the things were told on the course. I stuck my nose way down in each glass and took a mighty sniff. Jilly Goulding and Oz Clarke would have been proud of me. I bigged the whole thing up by saying stuff like

‘ I’m getting blackberries and wet hay with a hint of under the bed socks’ and ‘there are strong overtones of charred rashers here with a tinge of dry cow dung and maple syrup and just a hint of fresh mango and ‘mmmmmm slurp slurp – magnificent length on this one.’

This was eliciting cheers and guffaws from my coach companions and smiles from Sheila. Then I laid it on them. I had come to the eighth glass in the row. I recognised the colour and, when I sniffed it I knew, it was the same Rosemount Shiraz that is always on our table at home for Christmas, weddings, birthdays etc. I didn’t even have to taste it.

‘That’s the Rosemount’ I said. Sheila said ‘But yew hivvint toyasted it’

‘I don’t need to’ I replied cockily. ‘That’s the Rosemount Shiraz, Sheila.’

‘Give ‘im the shimpoyin’.’ Sheila said.

I resisted the urge to waste good drink – so I didn’t spray it- I poured it and drank to Ireland and Australia and Paddy Reilly and the Fields of Athenry. Most of my companions didn’t know Paddy but they got the message with an impromptu acapelo rendition of ‘The Fields’. Another memorable day but now we’re back on the bus and heading for Nundle.”

Buy The Book – its a great read

I hope you enjoyed a little piece of the book. It’s a great read and I have it for sale in the shop. I enjoyed it immensely. The O Mahony’s paid for every bit of the production so every penny from sales goes to the charity. It is only €20 and you can also buy it online at www.cry.ie or locally in Clonmel Travel, The Book Centre, McDermotts Irishtown, Texaco on the Cahir Road and at Flahertys Mace Supermarket , Irishtown.

If Conor was still with us, I would enjoy converting him from those Rosemount wines to some of the great wines Australia has on offer. Maybe a selective tasting, including those oldest vines he spoke of – (Langmeil in the Barossa Valley is the vineyard). Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen would form the soundtrack but I am a very average guitar player, so I would let Conor hold court there. When we were kids, Liverpool won everything and Man United were a cup team. I don’t think I could resist that discussion either. I know Conor would take it in the right spirit, maybe?

Red Nose Song – Dean Martin

February 21st, 2010

I know the obvious one is “Litttle Old wine drinker me”, and that may yet appear in the future, but I like this one for its hint of desperation …. we’re all a little desperate sometimes.

I think Dino is in need of something smooth and easy to drink and i think Gassac’s Albaran is the perfect pair. Don’t hang around, just pour it brother.

Red Nose Song – Joni Mitchell “A Case of You”

February 14th, 2010

Being Valentines Day, it is as good as any to start a new section of the blog, where I match great wines to great songs. One of the great singer-songwriters is Joni Mitchell and she wrote a great lovesong using a case of wine as the analogy. While I am tempted to match it to a great wine like Chateau Margaux or Romanee Conti, I think it would be hard to get through a case of such a wine. Also, I don’t sell them :) . So in the spirit of the song’s title, I am going to pick the wonderful Chateau Vignelaure, which is one of the great value wines out there. It is also very smooth and easy to drink, and hard to resist. Robert Parker famously described Vignelaure as “one of the showpiece properties not only of Provence, but of France.” I have bottle number 00001 in my private cellar and there were a few nights i nearly opened it. I am keeping it, so I now hold 3 or 4 in the house at all times, just in case.

Chateau Vignelaure

If anyone else would like to propose a song and wine link, please post a comment below. In the meantime, Joni Mitchell.

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