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Archive for January, 2010

Red Nose Wine at Paris Fashion Week

January 29th, 2010

I joined the ranks of the Paparazzi this week as I wandered along the Odeon section of Paris and was nearly crushed by a gang of supermodels. Normally they would be running away from the press, or so you would imagine, but in this case they all seemed to by running towards them. It was funny to watch them get out of their rented limos and wait for the flash of lights to hail upon them. Digital photography might be free, but the paps were not wasting their shots. The odd flash here and there, but they were obviously waiting for someone else. And then she arrived. She was about 7 foot tall in heels and had not a pick of meat on her. I do not know who she was, but I was tempted to give her the name of the great restaurant I ate in the night before in Montpellier. The paps went crazy and shouted her name – Nadia ( or Danielle ). Hard to hear it as they were shouting so loudly. If anyone recognized her, please let me know.

The sad thing was, even if she had spotted me and invited me into the party, I was about 15 minutes away from the full extent of food poisoning – and it was about to hit me very hard. It was from a dodgy sandwich on the TGV. I was to spend the next 12 hours in a small hotel room going from the bedroom to an even smaller room… many many times. But I am home and my appetite is back and Nadia or Danielle will have to party without me.

A wonderful meal and a lady playing bad piano

January 29th, 2010

On my first night in Montpellier, i went to a restaraunt that was highly recomended. It is called Les Bains de Montpellier and is situated behind the opera in the famous Place de la Comedie.

A great bite to eat in Montpellier

A great bite to eat in Montpellier

The city baths were founded in the 12th/13th century and were popular up until the second world war. It was so good on our first visit that i broke my rule of eating in the same place 2 night running, and we went back. After having fish the first night, and after a days tasting at Milliseme Bio (on an empty stomach), the 2nd meal had to be a fillet steak, nice and bloody. And it was cooked to perfection. I can still taste it. The wines consumed on both nights were a delicious Terroir Pic Saint-Loup on night one and a Cotes de Rousillon called Petit Taureau on the 2nd night. Lots of spice in both, but 1st one had a lot more minerality. Very different. After dinner, a walk in the sqaure and a late night piano bar was in full flow.

She didn’t know how to play Slievenamon but she could hardly play whatever she was playing, so we left her for the comfort of a nice wine bar i know.

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….

A Tale of 2 Cohen’s

January 23rd, 2010

Apparently Brian Cohen is not related to Leonard Cohen and has changed the spelling of his name to Cowen.

My tweet yesterday about the conference with the Taoiseach and my accidental spelling of his name drew many comments over cyberspace. So, having been to 2 performances by Leonard ( 2008 & 2009 ) and 1 by Brian(yesterday), I think that I enjoyed Leonard’s a little bit more. But, why don’t you decide. Footage is from last year’s concert – i was sitting closer of course but i was singing, not videoing – so i took this from someone else. I’m the person he addresses about 34 seconds in.

Brian Cowen sings the blues

Brian Cowen sings the blues

Article – Tastings, Horses and Bridgestone

January 22nd, 2010

It is positively balmy out today as I write this article, at least when compared to the trauma of last week’s cold weather. Will the improved weather inspire an article about wines born of the heat – I don’t think so – we are not quite there yet. On the radio today, they spoke of Blue Monday and the despair that is out in the country. I turned it off and threw the negativity in the bin. It is true that this is the slowest part of the year, and retailers struggle as people hide away. However, poor sales aside, I would suggest that it is a great time to plan out the new year, and in the wine world that means trade shows. My calendar for this month and next is filling up with trips to Dublin to slurp, smell, swish and spit out the wines of the world. There are portfolio tastings from bigger suppliers, trade shows put on by different embassies, and many other connotations and excuses for me to taste my way to some interesting new wines. The reality is that I might find one wine in every hundred tasted. Ideally, though, these Irish shows don’t offer me too much, unless they have wineries that are looking for Irish representation. It is always good to keep tasting new wines, and get used to the nuances of changing vintages, so that is one the main reasons to go to these shows. While I hold wines from some of the best importers in the country, my core offering will always be made up of the wineries that I import directly from.

With this in mind, I am delighted to say I will be attending one of the best shows in the world at the end of January. It is in based in Montpellier in the south of France, and hosts the very best in small, family estates from France, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Argentina and many other countries. What they all have in common is they are part of the organic and/or biodynamic wine movement. I have written about this type of wine recently, but suffice to say more and more of the world’s top vineyards have converted or are in the process of converting. I will talk more about the show in an article I will write while at the show, as well as numerous blog pieces I will post to including video footage direct from the fair, so be sure to log on from next Tuesday (January 26th). With this in mind, I really need to get my hair cut before I go. There is nothing worse than a scruffy video blog. It is easy to get carried away at these shows but I never buy or even promise to buy at them. I find it a great way to meet existing suppliers, get introduced and recommended to new contacts by them, and find interesting wines that you can then arrange to follow up with. I always try to physically visit the vineyards I import from. It builds up trust, and I can personally see how they make the wine and if they do as they promise. There are too many stories of wines tasting very different at the show when compared to when it arrives. They also really appreciate it as well, as it offers them a chance to “sell” their dream to the customer. Everyone I buy from believes in their product and their way of life. “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. I like to think that passion is evident in the wine you take home from Red Nose Wine, and especially when compared to the commodity wines on the market. There is one vineyard I met last year and his wines were sublime and very well priced. I arranged to meet him at his vineyard last summer, which I did. I travelled three hours out of my way and we agreed a deal, but he has yet to export his wines. It is a very small allocation but I think he had been badly stung from an importer, i.e. he was not paid, so is very hesitant to go down that road again. I will give him one last chance when we meet for a 3rd time.

And now for something completely different as the Pythons would say. There was some celebration over the last week in Liam Dalys pub in O Connell Street, Clonmel as Sean Daly’s horse won at 14-1 in Thurles. I had given them some champagne glasses for New Year’s as well as selling them some bubbly, so I was also delighted for the win. He will have to carry lots of bubbly from now on, just in case. Unfortunately I did not have any money on the horse, but I am not bitter about the times I did back the horse in the past, and it lost. I can rejoice in Sean and his fellow syndicate member’s happiness. I was once in a greyhound syndicate with Sean and let’s just say it did not go so well, so Sean knows the highs and lows. I would love to tell you about the greyhound but I am not ready to talk about it yet. As well as missing the race last Sunday, I also missed the celebration in the pub last Sunday night. On a slightly more relevant note, Hickey’s Bakery, The Cookie Jar and Red Nose Wine all won Bridgestone awards in the new guide. We are all part of the Tipperary Food Producers Network and are proud to join the other members in the guide. We must have been doing something right this last year and a bit. Until the next article from France, I will ignore the January blues and look forward and plan for the spring.

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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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Jan 21 1010

Tipperary Food Producers Network

January 21st, 2010

A little bit late, but here is some information from last summer’s hugely succesful Long Table dinner where Red Nose Wine joined other members of the Tipperary Food Producers Network and 230 members of the public in a great night’s feast. The Red and White wines on show on the night were the world famous Mas Daumas Gassac’s Reserve wines.

The 2009 Tipperary Food Producers’ Long Table Dinner attracted more than 230 people to a night of culinary delights held in the grounds of Kickham Barracks, Clonmel on Saturday August 29th 2009. Despite the very inclement weather, Saturday evening was dry and warm and certainly added to the jovial atmosphere. The organisers didn’t wish to tempt fate and in true army style, the dinner was served under canvas in front of the historic Officers’ Mess with its lovely lavender lined lawns.

Featuring around twenty local producers and suppliers the challenge for the evening was to create a multi layered, several course meal using only local ingredients. The result was outstanding and a feast for all the senses with the dishes looking every bit as good as they tasted. Each producer involved in the event also had a produce stand on the lawn. Guests were invited to mingle freely with the producers before dinner while being served pre dinner drinks and canapés, all created from local ingredients.





Red Nose Wine wins Bridgestone Award

January 20th, 2010

Red Nose Wine got a Bridgestone Award in the recent 2010 guide.

Gary Gubbins is doing something interesting with Red Nose, a new wine warehouse where Mr. Gubbins sells the good wine from the good growers that he has sniffed out from all over the globe. “Our winemaker skills lie more in in wine making, than marketing”, says Gary, a vital distinction in the modern world of wine where so many mass market brands are just alcoholic cola”

Latest Article – Ice Ice Baby

January 15th, 2010

Frosty the snowman is still here as I write this article. I am down in the warehouse on a Saturday braving the elements and trying to stay warm. It’s not easy. The heating is on but useless, however the coffee is brewing. It was suggested on Twitter this week that I am making lots of mulled wine to keep warm, but alas, it is not true. The water pipes are frozen and I have no where to cook it up. As Judy once sang, “We’ll have to muddle through some how”. Being that we are in the coldest weather I have seen since I spent a winter of discontent in Canada back in my engineering days, I think it apt to talk about something called “Ice Wine”. It is quite rare and be default, tends to be expensive. But since we probably won’t have a chance to buy any, who cares what it costs. Some might say, if we can’t get it, why write about it in the first place. But my cynical hat is frozen so I will offer this useless knowledge regardless. In Germany it is known as Eiswein and it is a desert wine, as it is in Canada. The grapes have been frozen whilst on the vines. The water in the grape freezes but the sugar does not. This has the effect of much smaller quantities, of a more concentrated, sweet wine.

The grapes do not need to be affected by Botrytis Cinerea or noble rot as it is more commonly known, unlike other sweet wines like France’s Sauternes and Hungary’s great Tokaji wines. Good IceWine should be high in acidity, as you would expect, but also have a refreshing sweetness. I have some Canadian friends in Paris who always have a supply of IceWine and Super Tuscan Italian Reds whenever we visit ( He is of Italian stock ). They just had their 2nd child, so I assume they will do what all parents do for those first few months – panic and hide away. Maybe he’ll send me some if I ask nicely. A reverse baby present as such. The cold is affecting my brain and I am babbling again, so I will go for a little walk to get the circulation moving and then attack the article from the flank. Many people might assume it a rather strange thing to do, make wine from ice grapes. However, there is some evidence to suggest it has been going on since the Romans, and we all know what they did for us. Well, what they did for everyone else. They had a look at Ireland and then thought “a frozen barren land with no natural resources to plunder” – not tonight Josephine Caesar. They called is Hibernia which means Wintery. That’s what you call foresight, assuming they knew 2000 years later we would be in a deep recession, the country would be covered in snow and I would be writing this article and making references to the fact that the Romans possibly made IceWine. The cold is really starting to take hold now.

With that in mind, and the fact that there have been a few customers stocking up for the cold week ahead, I will mention a few subtle facts about IceWine, before looking towards the door and the fireplace. Some Riesling versions in Germany have alcohol content as low as 6%, but the norm is between 8 and 13%. It tends to have a long lingering finish, as you would expect from a desert wine and experts quibble and fight over its ageing potential. The high sugar and high acidity levels would suggest it does age well but I have never tasted an old one, so really can’t offer anything new on this point. But I would suggest you try it if you get a chance, at least just to say that you have had it and did not like it. If I get to meet Filippo in Paris I’ll try bring back a bottle and will open it up in the shop. Stay warm and be sure to enjoy the rich spicy full bodied reds by the fire on these cold cold nights.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

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”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Jan 14 2010