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New 4 week wine course

October 16th, 2013

We are delighted to announce details of our much requested wine course. We plan to change the format from the last one and bring in a few guests to add a little spice to proceedings.

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As well as Gary, some of the course will be co presented by Brendan who has many years experience in all aspects of the wine trade and brings additional expertise to the proceedings. BUT, the real stars will be some of our guest presenters.

On one of the evenings we will be having a Spanish theme as the course will precede a Spanish event we are planning with Iván Acebes García of Castello de Medina. Iván will take some of the class and then a Spanish Wine / Tapas evening will follow the class.

Gary visiting Castello de Medina earlier this year

Gary visiting Castello de Medina earlier this year

On another evening a member of the iconic Grubb family has agreed to come in and talk us through wine and Cashel Blue cheese. This will be a great event as they will offer you the chance to pre-order some aged Cashel Blue for Christmas. Much like wine, maturity is vital to fully appreciate great cheese.

cashel-blue-cheeses
The course will be held in our new custom built shop in The Regal Centre on the Davis Road. It will be a 4 week course commencing Thursday November 7th and will cost €75 person. It will run from 7.30pm to 9pm every Thursday for 4 weeks.

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For those of you who were at last years course in the old premises, I am sure you will appreciate the more comfortable new digs.

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While we have a set course outline, we are also open to adapting it to what the people want to learn about, to a degree. Ernest Hemingway once used the phrase “A Moveable Feast” about Paris and we would like the course to be like this.

In saying all of that there are core fundamentals that we think you would benefit from learning, so this course will be aimed at the beginner but with enough flexibility to challenge those who really want to advance their knowledge.

However, we hope that most of all it will be fun and social. We had a really fun bunch last time and it would be great to create the same atmosphere.

To secure a place on the course, please contact us during shop hours on 052-6182939 or email us on info@rednosewine.com to book your place. Bookings are only secure with payment. Updates will be posted on www.facebook.com/RedNoseWineFanPage

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

When Hails Come to Town

September 18th, 2013

I feel like a teacher, but with longer holidays. It’s been a long time since the last article. In fact it has been nearly four months. I’d love to say I have been sitting in a hammock counting my money and drinking my wine, but I’ve been busy. I have lots of news.

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Much like The Nationalist, Red Nose Wine has gone through some changes. We moved in July to a customized Retail space in The Regal Centre on the David Road, beside Larry O Keeffe’s Furniture. We are delighted with the new digs and customer feedback has been hugely positive. We hope you’ll get a chance to come down and say hello.

Regal-Centre-Montage-Photo

The Regal Centre had a re-launch last weekend. We’ll plan an evening event closer to the season that is jolly but we won’t mention the C word yet. We’ve the B word to come first ( Budget ).

Now if I continue in this vein of blatant self promotion it will be another four months before I get another article, so I think I better start talking about wine, rather than the selling of wine. As the summer draws to an end, a line from an old poem came to me.

Last of the Summer Wine

The “last of the summer wine” has all been enjoyed but fear not for the Autumn wines are just bursting to be sampled. Though our summer is over, the last of its golden rays are still doing their best to hang on.

As summers go it was a wonderful vintage. Comparisons with the few that came before are also helping of course. 2010 was a great year in Bordeaux but is not as lauded as it might be as it came on the back of the wonderful 2009.

However 2013 wasn’t such a great summer for some winemakers. There is one scourge that comes along that frightens the life out of ever winemaker I know. A form of solid precipitation (hailstones) can destroy a year’s work in a matter of minutes. They can measure between 5 and 150mm in diameter and when they strike, the good life turns very sour indeed.

When Hail come to town

A great friend of Red Nose Wine in Bordeaux, Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc recently went through a very traumatic visit from this most vicious of natural disasters. They were enjoying summer drinks with friends in the garden after completing all of the manual work on the vines. As he sipped Gavin looked west, and he didn’t like the look of the sky towards the Atlantic.

The warm and sunny evening had a chill to it and just before 8.30pm the wind picked up, and then as Bob Dylan might have once sang, ‘A Hard Rain’ started to fall. Now, Bob was talking about nuclear rain during the cold war, and Gavin was referring to real rain. However, as many of you know, I can never resist the chance to insert a Bob Dylan reference.

It’s an affliction that I suffer with. My eldest child was played Like A Rolling Stone whilst still in the delivery room. The child wasn’t 20 minutes old but I wanted the first song she heard to be a good one. Like I said, it’s an affliction.

Back in Bordeaux, the poor old Quinney family were watching in horror as the hail “came in low, from the side, propelled by fierce winds.” He wrote a 4 piece blog on it where he describes how “the hail had smashed into the grapes on all the west facing rows, splitting and bruising them. Leaves lay all about, with the little icy balls interspersed amongst them. Many leaves still on the vine looked bedraggled, some in tatters. Branches were pockmarked.”

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The next day they had a handle on the full extent of the damage and 50% of the crop was lost. This is bad news for Chateau Bauduc but some of their neighbours lost 100% of the crop. The storm had come in a straight line across from the West and battered everything in its path. Gavin said that “vineyards just 2.5kms west of Bauduc were hardly touched, while those some 2.5kms south of the Château were stripped bare.”

One neighbour had been hit for the 2nd time in three years and like many people ( including the Quinneys ) does not have insurance. It’s a bit like a racehorse – you can insure it but the price is just too prohibitive. Only about 15-20% of vineyards are insured.

Bauduc Hail - 060

The reality of this hailstorm is that there will be much less ‘bulk’ wine to be sold to coops for supermarket wine but also, many of the smaller quality driven vineyards like Bauduc will have very little wine to sell, and it will be interesting to see how the price will be affected. In many cases the market dictates this and you need to make a certain amount of wine to get to a point where you cover costs.

Chateau Bauduc experienced hail in May 2009 and even though 80% of the crop was lost then compared to 50% this year, it is worse in 2013. The reason is that in 2009 it happened when the shoots were new and tender and very little work had been done. This year there had been a huge amount of work including lifting 100,000 vine branches, removing unwanted shoots and 5-6 rounds of mildew spraying. As any business knows, the cost of Sales is a very big part of the whole Gross Profit equation.

Photos courtesy of Gavin Quinney’s wonderful blog.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter and then there is the Facebook Page.

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”

The Launch of the new Red Nose Wine – this weekend

September 11th, 2013

We are just over 2 months in our new premises at the Regal Centre and we are finally having a bit of a celebration. This weekend sees the official launch of The Regal Centre and all of the businesses are having promotions, demonstrations and we’ll surely be pouring some wine as well as giving some away.

Regal-Centre-Montage-Photo

While the celebrations will be held over the whole weekend (including Sunday), we will be having the main thrust of ours on the Saturday. This will include 2 free wine classes. The word class is probably a bit generous as we will do 30 minute demonstrations but everyone who is there will get a glass in their hand, so its all good.

Free Wine Classes

The first class will start at 2pm and will concentrate on what constitutes a dry wine. When you mean you like a dry wine, is that what you really mean? The second class at 4pm will be more of an Old World versus New World challenge. We will compare similar style wines from both regions and allow you all to ‘taste the difference’.

All classes will have generous amounts of wine to test the theory so bring a driver or take the bus. Alternatively our new neighbour Larry O Keeffe can sell you a bed. In fact, we will have a lot of bottles open throughout the day and we might even dig out some cheese out of somewhere as well. Party on Wayne!

Both classes will start by going through the basics on how to taste ‘properly’ and will do the famous Jelly Bean test. These will be a taster for some wine classes we are planning to hold this Autumn so if you are thinking of doing one, this would be a good litmus test.

Special Offers

We will also have a range of offers including our Super 6 ( up to 20% off ), as well as a new Mix Case that we call ‘When I’m 64’. We are also doing a great in-house special on one of our perennial favorites Domaine des Anges. Up to 25% off.

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All people who attend the class of even just come and buy a bottle of wine over the weekend will get a free voucher ( €10 when you spend €50 ). And remember,

‘Life is much too short to drink bad wine”.

When I’m 64 – Quality Mixed Case

September 9th, 2013

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now.

I was a Beatles fan from an early age and remember liking that song and laughing at how old someone would have to be when they’re 64 (I am aware that the answer is in the question). The trouble is its not so funny anymore as I approach 40.
Like many parents I sent kids back to school and took on all the emotion that goes with that. The cliche is true. It all goes by too quickly. So, this mix case is dedicated to the parents. With that in mind, we’ve tried to put in something really nice to help ease you back in. The NZ Sauvignon and the Rioja stand out for me.

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The name comes from the fact that this mix case is discounted back to €64 – The wines on offer include :

Ant Moore Sauvignon Blanc
Bozeto de Exopto Rioja
Casas de Herencia Red
Casas de Herencia White
Santa Alicia Sauvignon Blanc Reserva
Solonio Il Grottone ( Ripasso Style CabSab Syrah )

SurePrint-A1-Mix-Case-Back-to-School

Meet the Super Six ( first cousins to the Famous Five )

August 2nd, 2013

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I was on my holidays in Devon this summer and I started reading my kids The Famous Five book. The Devon coast reminded me of my childhood images of what it might look like ( even though the Five were based in Dorset, not Devon). Anyway, in lieu of the Famous Five, I give you the Super Six.

We have picked 6 wines of varying prices that we are promoting for your oenological pleasure. We are offering you varying discounts on the wines. We are also going to have them all open and offer a ‘tutored tasting’ this weekend. There is 10% off them all regardless of quantity, and 15% off any 3 and if you get any mix of all 6, them its 20% off.

Online, there is a minimum 6 bottle order anyway so they are all currently at 20% OFF. So you can get a lovely little mix case for €63.55 ( normally €79.44 ) or mix it in with other wines and still get your 20% on the Super Six.

The wines in question come from all over the world – Spain, Chile, Burgundy, Italy and New Zealand. The list of wines in this Super Six are:

La Granja Hen Syrah
Santa Alicia Merlot Reserva
Santa Alicia Sauvignon Blanc
Chartron et Trebuchet Macon Rouge
Poggiobello Friulano
Ant Moore Pinot Gris

All Wines are OPEN for tasting at Red Nose Wine in our new custom designed shop at The Regal Centre, Davis Road Clonmel.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Goodbye

June 28th, 2013

Its nearly Closing Time at Red Nose Wine Mark 1 ( aka the shop on the bypass ).
We are moving to our customised new premises on Monday next. How to get there?
Click here.

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Ahead of it we are in the last two days of the Moving SALE. Up to 35% Off. Get in before 6pm Saturday June 29th.

Moving-Sale

Hopefully we will see you in the new shop…
Here is a little Leonard Cohen to take us there ..

The road to the New Shop

June 20th, 2013

Wondering where we are going – its quite close by. Here’s a map

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RED NOSE WINE MOVING SALE

June 19th, 2013

The rumours ( that we started ) are true. Red Nose Wine is leaving its little warehouse on the bye-pass and moving to pastures new. The Regal Centre on the Davis Road is the new digs – in beside Larry O Keeffe’s furniture warehouse. Marks and Spencer’s are beside us as well. We have loads of private parking and a customised new retail space that will be very nice indeed.

There will be more on the new place to come, but ahead of all that we need to leave the current warehouse and we don’t want to bring too much wine with us ( We hate carrying it ).

So, we are having a HUGE Sale and offering varying discounts depending on quantities.

Moving-Sale

The Spanish Odyssey Part 2 .. The Road to Valencia

May 30th, 2013

Last week I left you in a vineyard in Rioja with a French wine maker called Tom. The story continues with Tom and his never-ending tour of his little plots of old vines. He has tiny little fields ( as an Irishman might call them ) scattered around where Rioja Alta meets Rioja Alavesa. If you recall last week, many regard this border to be the best place to make Rioja.

Anyway, as much as I like looking at old bush vines, after the fourth of fifth vineyard in a row, it gets kind of old and bear in mind this was about seven o clock in the evening and we had been on the road since early morning. As he turned off another bohreen I said there had better be a tapas bar at the end of this field. He said there was and I didn’t appreciate his sarcasm. My own was at least warranted.

The Tapas Bar on top of a Vineyard

However to my great delight Tom drove up a dirt road and onto the top of a hill and parks in the middle of a vineyard with spectacular views. He opens up the boot and takes out a cooler bag with white wine, chorizo, cheese and bread. The glasses were clinked and myself, Tom and Sancho ( the other importer I referred to in the last article ) were staring out into the late evening sun, all of us wishing we were there with someone else.

Its a tough life ...

Its a tough life ...

Of course the person I would have preferred to share it with was my wife and I can only hope and assume the others were thinking the same ( their wives, not mine). Anyway, it was a view and setting wasted on three men in their very late thirties. In lieu of the romance, we took to the drink – as men often do. As we watched the sun set, the white wine turned to red, and the second bottle of red appeared magically through the mist. Like I said, it was all very romantic.

Football & Wine

I’d like to say the night ended there and we went back to our hotel to catch up on emails and all the admin that goes with owning a business. Alas, winemaker Tom insisted we visit his town, a lively little spot called Logroño. First port of call was a bar to watch the Barcelona match ( the Real fans cheered when they were stuffed ), followed by a wine bar to taste Tom’s wines in more ‘traditional’ surroundings and just when I thought I was getting away, a late night bar was found just to finish me off.

Lately I have been known to wax lyrical about The Forge CrossFit gym and some would say I might get a little boring talking about it. Anyway, the fear of boring people is not something I worry too much about, so at about 2am and after the late bar, I ended up talking about the gym and showing my accomplices what a burpee was.

A Burpee in Rioja

The miracle was that I didn’t smash my face into the Spanish ground. I am sure there is CCTV footage of this in central Logroño, which is a great little town I would highly recommend you visit. If you want to know what a burpee is then I suggest you call to The Forge. You might be sorry you asked though.

Post burpee, we found a taxi and suffice to say the early start the next morning was put off for a few hours and it was only on checking out of the hotel did we realise that Sancho had lost his iPhone and his wallet. For some miraculous reason I was feeling fresh as a daisy and Mike was sick as a small hospital.

One thing I should stress about this trip is the hospitality of the people we met was immense and they genuinely were delighted to show us around their family wineries. However bad we are having it in Ireland, and we are having it bad, the Spanish face a far worse scenario. I drove from Barcelona across through Zaragoza past Madrid and onto Valencia and the lack of trucks on the road was palpable. The unemployment rate for under 26s is in near the 45% bracket.

We had another meeting in Rioja with a potential new supplier and rather than squeeze him into this article, such is his tale and such are his wines, that he deserves his own article ( if and when we cut a deal for the wines ). With Rioja in our mirror we headed on a longish drive to Medina, which is in Rueda country, home of one of the most popular Spanish white wine styles.

Rioja ... Alavasa

Rioja ... Alavasa

Campo de Medina

For those of you who like Sauvignon Blanc, I can recommend this often cheaper variety which is made up of Verdejo, Sauvignon or a blend of the two. Another long and boozy lunch ensued and then a vineyard tour with Ivan. Ivan was very generous with his time but luckily he had to go to Madrid that night so we were able to have a quiet beer in the hotel and catch up on all the sleep we lost the next day. Some days the cards fall for you.

Don Quixote gets to La Mancha

An early start got us on the road from Medina past Madrid and into La Mancha. Don Quixote was home and in the famous old town of Noblejas to meet with the charming Bienvenido Muñoz Pollo, who heads up the family winery Bodegas Muñoz. This is one of the cheapest regions in Spain ( and Europe ) to make wines and in the right hands can produce some great value wines that punch well above their weight.

La Mancha at last

La Mancha at last

For those of you who want to test the theory, I’m glad to say that the wines are here already and start around the €10 mark. As I type we have some open in the shop. Do call in to say Hola and try these great little wines. If its value you are after, then our final destination offers that and a bit of style to boot.

Valencia in the rain

Some of you will already be familiar with our Valencian wines from Bodegas Antonio Arráez. We arrived into the vineyard about an hour outside of Valencia city and another long boozy lunch with a fantastic indoor barbeque. This was an old style roadhouse restaurant and it stays open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It was a very cool spot and the T-bone steaks were beyond huge.

A BBQ in Valencia

A BBQ in Valencia

We went on to the winery, which holds a fascinating story. Toni is in his early 30s and has transferred the family business from a bulk wine operation into something modern, young and marketable. The wines are great too and have been huge hits for us since we starting bringing them in last year. The very cheap price and ease of drinkability helps immensely.

Families in old villages around Valencia and Rioja traditionally would have made their own wine in every house. In Arraez, they have transformed the old wine vats and cellars into a museum and social setting. You can book it for groups and spend a night in a wine vat. I wonder if Bulmers could do something similar? Anyway, after the tour we were due to spend our last night in Valencia, 1 hour away. A nice big motorway to take us there.

Great in theory but the drive was among the worst I have every experienced. The rain that fell was biblical and with 3 and 4 lanes of speeding traffic it was hit and miss for a while. We couldn’t see more than a foot in front of us and all the trucks we never saw during the week suddenly came out to play. The speed we were forced into was criminal and I was very glad not to be driving but being a passenger was hairy enough. We passed 3 accidents on the way to central Valencia and boy were we happy to find our hotel.

A Valencia tapas night with Octopus and other exotic foods ended the social side of our trip. There was a lot of business and it just so happened that a lot of it was socially structured. Don’t blame me – blame the Spanish and their sensible approach to life.

A whole lot of kilometres

A whole lot of kilometres

A Long Road

A long drive the next day to Barcelona airport brought us full circle on our 2,200km Don Quixote wine adventure. A bumpy flight to Cork and a tired drive back to Clonmel brought a very fruitful trip through the wine regions of Spain to an end. Some of the wines are already here and there are more to come. I would encourage you to try Spanish wines as it offers diversity, quality but also great value for money. Don Quixote has left the building.

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”

Don Quixote reincarnated – A Spanish Odyssey Part 1

May 3rd, 2013

A great work of literature is a wonderful thing, and always a pleasure when you get to visit where one was set, or to possibly re-enact it, in as much as modern life allows. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra wrote about Alonso Quijano and his fantasied alter ego Don Quixote, the wandering knight.

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Last week I became Don Quixote and with a fellow wine importer in tow to play the part of Sancho Panza ( Don Quixote’s travel companion ), we flew into Barcelona to do a 2,200KM wine trip through Spain. We would end up in La Mancha but not quite yet. This article will be in two parts and will document a journey through cold, sunny and rainy Spain.

Our flight from Cork landed on Sunday into Barcelona airport and the Spanish equivalent of Sky Sports messed up our plans to watch Barcelona play football that night ( the game was moved ). So we drove directly from the airport in our rented Volkswagon and with the aid of our trusty GPS ( who is called Margaret ) towards Pamplona, the city of the bulls.

Pamplona is Basque country and is also in the region called Navarra. It is a busy stop for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. For those not in the know, this is the way of St James, an ancient pilgrimage from France to Compostela on the West coast of Northern Spain. Pamplona is also known for the running of the bulls and was made famous by another well known literary figure, Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway's Hotel Pamplona

Hemingway's Hotel Pamplona

When we eventually reached Pamplona and our hotel, we raced the sunset in order to try get a beer in the famous Plaza del Castillo. It was a race well run, but the sun beat us and we instead found ourselves inside Café Iruña, made famous in Hemingway’s first big book, “The Sun Also Rises”. Now, with the well-earned cold beer in hand after the four-hour drive, the series subject of tomorrow’s journey could be discussed.

Where Ernest had a tipple

Where Ernest had a tipple

I won’t bore you with tales of a very strange Tapas ( or Pintxos ) bar we ate in. Suffice to say we had to eat our starters on one table and our main courses at another. The waiter was as confused as we were but the average wine quenched our thirst and we suffered on for our art.

The next morning we headed into the countryside, for you do not find too many vines in big towns and cities. The Navarra wine region lies between Rioja and the French border to the northeast. The foothills of the Pyrenees descend towards Navarra from the north and the Ebro River runs up from the south into Rioja to the west. The region can be broken into 5 different wine locations, Valdizarba, Tierra Estella and Baja Montana to the north. Ribera Alta in the middle and Ribera Baja in the south.

A Bodegas in Navarra

A Bodegas in Navarra

One of our most popular wines comes from Navarra, Pago de Cirsus. It is from the Ribera Baja in the south. We were rummaging around in the north west and came across a couple of great estates. I can’t say too much now as they may be following my blog ( illusions of grandeur ) and my bargaining position would not be strengthened by then knowing I was interested. It’s a bit like being a teenager again. “Does she like me?” “Yes, she does”. “But does she Like Like me?”

We also came across a wine fountain in Navarra. It is beside a very famous monastery in Ayegui on the Camino. Right beside the path that the pilgrims walk is a fountain that has two taps. One serves wine and one serves water. It is free to pilgrims and we were told that in high season, they go through 3,000 litres of wine a month, which is 4,000 bottles or nearly 7 pallets of wine. So if you find yourself on The Way of St James, you know where to get a free drink.

The Wine Fountain on the Camino de Santiago

The Wine Fountain on the Camino de Santiago

We headed south to Pago de Cirsus and saw their spectacular castle ( man made by the film producer owner ). It is all part of a luxury hotel complex nestled among the vines. Its kind of in the middle of nowhere and boasts a very well regarded restaurant which we had to refuse lunch in (Sancho Panza has not forgiven me yet ). The fancy digs kind of goes against the price point of the wines which are definitely among the best value wines we sell.

Pago-de-Cirsus

Onwards and westwards we went, towards the medieval village of Lagardia in the Rioja Alavesa. There are three regions in Rioja, Alta, Baja and Alavesa. All have very different characteristics and Alavesa is widely believed to be the best, but some of the winemakers argued that the best region is where Alavesa borders the Alta.

Such is the importance of Rioja in the wine selling world that we were scheduled for two nights here and we had meetings set up with existing and potential new suppliers. One of these new winemakers ( who we have been courting for a while ) told is the best French wine is made in Rioja. This refers to the fact that is was the French who came here after phylloxera had wiped out the majority of French vines in the middle of the 19th century.

among-the-Rioja-vines

The wine business was of course well established in Rioja, but the French introduced oak which is a big component of Rioja wines today. The classical definition talks about Joven, Roble, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva wines. These are all determined by how much time the spend in oak and also how much time they spend in bottle before being released. The more oak, the more money in general terms, but Gran Reservas are in many cases over oaked, in my opinion.

What is interesting to see is that many of the new generation like to experiment outside the official rules, and thus making much more interesting wines. A French wine maker called Tom Puyaubert is one who is very experimental. He make the Exopto wines that we have been selling for about six months. I love when winemakers experiment. It makes for much more interesting wines.

The black teeth in a Rioja sunset

The black teeth in a Rioja sunset

While this has been a whirlwind tour of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza’s wine adventure, I will continue in Part 2 and recant tales of a crazy winemaker in Rioja, a hilltop sunset vineyard picnic, a list wallet and phone as well as a very scary drive into Valencia in the worst rain I have ever seen. Hasta Luego Amigos.