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Latest Newspaper article – “Good wine for a good cause”

November 5th, 2009

“Good wine for a good cause” – Nationalist newspaper November 5th 2009

From time to time, I am awoken from my slumber and asked to do an informal tasting for a group. This can be a rowdy adventure with a group who heckle and shout their way through the tasting, like a recent experience I had in a local school. I hasten to add that it was with teachers that I held the tasting, not the students. Their mid term break had come and they were chomping at the bit. I tried to simultaneously manage a PowerPoint presentation and go through the range of wines we tasted. The questions and accusations flew and as the wines moved from light whites to rich reds, they really got going. I am not sure how much they learned about wine, but I definitely enjoyed the banter. The organiser sold tickets for the tasting and they raised some money for a local charity. I got my wines out to another group of people and sang my song of small family made wines. Everyone was a winner.

Charity was in the air in seems for I was also asked to participate in an evening for Cystic Fibrosis that was held in Barn Lodge on the eve of Halloween. It was billed as a coffee afternoon with wine. I drank coffee as I served and talked about wine. The charity is ‘tlc4cf’ which is trying to construct 5 treatment rooms at Limerick Regional Hospital. Caitriona Hayes from the Army Barracks in Clonmel is the Tipperary contact. They have a website with lots more information at I arrived at about 4, where the team of hostesses were busy trying to manage the very punctual guests. Irish people do arrive exactly on time it seems. I set up some wine and I chatted with a few different people about the wines on offer. As the evening wore on, the wine was nearly gone, and I fully expected the organisers to be close to the end as well. These were tough ladies though, and the fight was still in them. I was grilled about this wine and that wine, and questions flew and I had to be quick on my feet. Chateau Kirwan was discussed in great length and Elaine claimed some form of family connection with the great Bordeaux estate. I was in no position to argue and hoped she might even manage to get me a discount since I buy the wine for the shop. I have heard since that the final figure raised was around €5,000, and a great evening was had by all and Caitriona and tlc4cf are a little closer to their goal in Limerick.

I met someone who reads the column last weekend ( it still surprises me to find out they do exist ), and he gave out to me. I should concentrate more on the wine and less about the ramblings around it, he told me. I think wine is as much about the people you drink it with, and where you drink it, as it is about the liquid in the glass. Hence, I like to wander into the edges a little, as opposed to stick to the main road. “We are all in the gutter”, said Oscar Wilde, “but some of us are staring at the stars”. However, I do listen from to time to time, so Billy, this is for you. Barolo is one of the great wines of the world. It is grown in Piedmont in northern Italy and the Nebbiolo is the grape used. In football terms, it is a Juventas fan, as Torino is very close by. As a region, it is like Burgundy, as small vineyards tended by different generations of the same family are the norm. Like many of the great wines of the world – Barolo needs time. While you can enjoy its raw power while young, it only starts to express itself after 10 years in bottle. This is the land of white truffles and like them; great Barolos are sought after, expensive and mystical. If any of you have started that list of things to do before you visit the great vineyard in the sky, can I suggest you add the following. Eat a white truffle omelette with a glass of 20 year old Barolo. I am sorry Billy. I started out trying to be factual, but ended up off on another tangent. I have a large collection of books filled to the brim on wine facts. Call in and we’ll open a nice bottle and we can go through the optimum maceration period for Merlot. If not, the website is now live and at you can enjoy a huge amount of information about wine, both factual and mystical. You can also meet the many winemakers I talk about in the columns.

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Brian writes:

Billy will never slagg off Gerry again!!!

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