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Article – Carcassonne to Bordeaux, the journey ends

August 6th, 2010

BBQ in the Rain

The Irish are a tough bunch. I am just in from a very nice BBQ on the neighbourhood green. It is the 3rd attempt ( in 3 years ) at it, but we would not let the rain dictate us this time. We stood out on the green in defiance until the drizzle stopped and the sun ( almost ) came out. It was a coming together of neighbours and the local butcher, baker and wine merchant supplied the goods. I spent last Saturday at another barbeque with Pat Whelan at his Oakville emporium of all things nice and tasty. I was giving out free samples of artisan wine to match Pat’s artisan food. One lady came out laden down with meat and before I could offer her a taste, she pronounced that she was a pioneer. I looked at her bag of meat and said, “It could be worse, you could be a vegetarian”. She laughed, but still didn’t break her pledge. However, I have no doubt that she was stocking up for a wonderful party with friends and family, and it is interesting to see the change in people’s attitude to eating and drinking at home. What was great at our local event tonight was that everyone pitched in and brought a plate and did their bit. I grew up in Cherrymount in the 70s and 80s and we would regularly be in our neighbours houses. They were dark days but people knew no better is what they tell us. I think that the current recession ( or maybe it’s a cultural shift ) is making people re-evaluate their social venues. I still like a night out, but it’s nice to meet the neighbours as well.

An Irish BBQ

 

An Irish BBQ

Leaving the Rat Race

The last leg of my French odyssey took place from Carcassonne to Bordeaux with a stop in the Dordogne valley along the way. I visited Sean and Caroline Feely of Chateau Haut Garrigue. Some of you will know them from one of our first tastings with Caroline in 2008. Others will know them from their cover story on the Irish Times or maybe it was the big TV feature on Nationwide last November. They get a lot of press and for a variety of reasons. Tomas Clancy of the Sunday Business Post calls their wines “a dazzling winery which is a model of organic and biodynamic excellence”. Their Bordeaux style blends have often been compared to a top end Bordeaux that sell for much more. If you ever want to try a 30 euro Bordeaux for half the price, try their red wines. Taste them blind and you will find it hard to pick it out. Regardless of all of this, their story is fascinating and they basically left the “rat race” of Dublin to start a new life in the country with their two young children. They somehow made it work and in a relatively short space of time, they have made superb wines that reflect both the land they come from and the people who make them. The really made me feel welcome and I wish I sold more of their wonderful wines than I do.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Sean Feely of Chateau Haut Garrigue

 

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Sean Feely of Chateau Haut Garrigue

An evening with Brando & Pacino

I booked into a cheap hotel in the suburbs of Libourne, near St Emilion for my final night in France. I was expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised. My room was modern with a flat screen TV and the hotel was immaculate. I watched the Godfather in French in complete comfort. Both Marlon Brando and Al Pacino are still cool in French. There was a little restaurant downstairs and I had a fantastic meal for 12 euros. The jug of wine cost 4 euros. One thing I have learned on this trip through the cheap hotels of France is that the house wine is worth trying. In Ireland, the general rule is the house wine is not for drinking, unless supplied by Red Nose Wine of course. You are usually better to try the 2nd or 3rd wine on the list. However in France, if you visit places that the locals frequent, then they cannot afford to have bad house wine as the people will not come back. If you go to a tourist spot, you are fair game and you will often do well to get a bottle worth the price. Some of the best wines I drank ( as opposed to tasted for work ) on my trip were carafes of house wines. It’s great to find a cheap wine that you can enjoy.

A morning in St Emilion

Saint Emilion Terrace view

Saint Emilion Terrace view

After my good meal, Italian mafia movie in French and power shower the next morning, I headed to the beautiful village of St. Emilion for lunch. I don’t know if the paper has room to print the photo I will send them, but there was a great view from the terrace of the bistro. If you are planning a wine holiday, and don’t want to go too far, St. Emilion is not a bad spot. There are flights to Bordeaux from Waterford and Cork and the village itself is stunningly picture postcard. I would advise strongly against buying any wine in the village itself. Very overpriced, and it is much more fun to go to the local winemakers. I can suggest some good ones to visit if you are planning such a trip. After my picturesque lunch, I headed to the Medoc region of Bordeaux and found myself outside some of the most beautiful and impressive chateau in the world. The villages of Pauillac, Margaux, St Julien and St Estephe are the money villages of French wine. This is where you will find Mouton Rothschild, Lafite, Latour, Chateau Margaux, Leoville Las Cases, and Lynch Bages. You need an appointment made months in advance to visit some of these places. I was visiting a family vineyard in the middle of all this that I import from and their pricing reflects the reality of market, unlike Lafite who’s opening en Primeur price of 1,150 euros a bottle is aimed at the Chinese market. So, amongst this wealthy land, my trip came to an end and I was happy to be back in Clonmel to meet my customers last week. I met some great people and tasted some great wines on this trip but the big thing that I am taking away is that my instinct of moving away from Bordeaux towards more southern based wines was right. The wines of the south really outshone those of Bordeaux in terms of style, price and originality. I will stock both, but the biggest choice and most exciting wine will come from the south.  I look forward to you tasting them soon.

Decisions Decisions

Decisions Decisions

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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”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Aug 06 2010

Paul (http://www.pauljkiernan.wordpress.com) writes:

So the rule in Ireland is not to drink the house wine unless Rednose Wine supplies it – I must write that one on my hand ;)

Sounds like a good trip. Bordeaux is actually a lovely spot for a break; surprisingly low key and chilled out.

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