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Archive for December, 2010

Article – Power to the People

December 1st, 2010

A good night

Greetings wine-lovers and lovers of life. In fact, you can hate wine and even ( but I hope not) hate life; you are still welcome, for I write this article from the cradle of optimism. I attended two events this recently and I want to talk about them briefly. On Wednesday night last 500 people assembled in Clonmel for a food and wine event organised by the Tipperary Food Producers.

The buzz that pulsated from the event was electric and as I stood behind the wine and juice table, the crowds swarmed in and it was a joy to behold, although we kept running out of glasses. Thanks to the young man from the hotel who spent the night running for glasses. Con Traas and I barely had time to draw breath as an energetic and thirsty public patiently listened to us talk about our artisan product as we poured.

Tipp Foof Night

Tipp Food Night

Don’t order a Cocktail

It brought me back to my time working in a bar in France. I became very efficient at handling a busy Saturday night bar and taking five orders at once. The secret was not to ‘hear’ anybody who ordered a cocktail. After a few weekends, if you wanted a cocktail, you didn’t ask Gary. Luckily, Wednesday was no place for cocktails.

Red Nose serving behind the bar

I am sure there are a number of things we will do differently next year, but I think Jane Boyce, Master of Wine was a huge hit, as was Nicola, the MC who kept the night flowing. I will post Jane’s wine pairings to the website soon and I have already put together a six and twelve bottle discounted mix case of the wines she recommended for Christmas. Check online or in the shop for more details.

Ministers, Future Ministers and the usual answers

I listened to a sitting Minister from Fine Fail and a possible future Minister from Fine Gael at the Clonmel Chamber’s National Enterprise Conference on Friday talk about the trouble we are in and why we are in it. I really thought I would come away inspired by one of them, but all of the inspiration came from local people and local business. Be in no doubt, politicians will not get us out of this. The people they proclaim to represent are the only ones who can do this. I am up for the fight, whatever the outcome. Optimism may require blinkers, but I will lease them with an option to buy.

I asked the esteemed political panel a question about below cost selling in multiples, and got the answer I expected from the political machine. I can’t see it making its way to the top of the government agenda this side of the IMF.

Is a Good Idea Enough?

Don Davern, the Clonmel Chamber and a number of local business’s presented details of a competition which offers a technology idea 45 thousand Euros worth of support, including a premises and all the bits and pieces to get started. This is local people trying to create local business. This is the spirit of a proud people. I have no confidence in the political system but I have huge confidence in local business and local people and why I was so delighted to be from Tipperary and spreading the good news story that is the Tipperary Food Producers.

The Masters Answers

There were a lot of questions that Jane answered last week that I sometimes assumed people knew, so if you are calling into the shop between now and Christmas, please feel free to ask me anything. Alternatively, you can email me at and I can answer you. One of the higher end wines that Jane mentioned was the Pinot Grigio from Felluga. One of the highlights of my September trip to Italy was a meal at Andrea Felluga’s house.

Jane Boyce MW and Pat Whelan discuss wines to go with Pat's recipes.

Jane Boyce MW and Pat Whelan discuss wines to go with Pat's recipes.

Raiding Felluga’s Cellar

There are few producers who have been more important in defining the quality image of Italian white wines than Livio Felluga, Andrea’s father. Their landmark Terre Alte was first produced in 1981 and recently voted the 3rd best wine in Italy. The top 2 were a Barolo and a SuperTuscan – both red wines. Felluga have continued to make innovative and consistently high quality wines.

After experimenting for five years, Andrea now feels confident that screwcap is the right step for the Felluga wines, and that it will retain the freshness and perfumes that mark these wines out from the crowd.

This quality of the Felluga range is in a large part due to the fact that the fruit is grown on their 145 hectare property. The estate’s vineyards straddle provincial borders, being located in both Colli Orientali and Collio, which is very near to Trieste. Their most prized possession is the holding at Rosazzo, where their Merlot, and the grapes used in the fabled Terre Alte blend, are planted. On our trip we stood on the terraced gardens of the abbey and looked out towards Slovenia which is “just up the road”.

Sunset in Rosazzo

Sunset in Rosazzo

All of their wines were fantastic, but I chose to bring in two, their much lauded “Illuvio” Pinot Bianco and the best Pinot Grigio I have ever tasted. The Pinot Bianco is light straw yellow in colour, it is aromatic and forward on the nose, with perfumes of candied peel and a touch of pineapple, white flowers and aromatic herbs. On the palate it is full but fresh, with creamy, white chocolate flavours with a long, nutty, mineral finish. This is a Christmas Day white wine and a real alternative for those searching for something out of the ordinary.

Will someone buy the Picolit?

The highlight of the evening was a sweet wine called Picolit, which is also the grape variety. I don’t have a sweet tooth and am much more savoury in my tastes, but this was outstanding. It is rich, complex with wonderful balance and the sweetness is so delicate. They only make a tiny amount of this, and I mean a few hundred bottles.

By the end of the night we have drank eight from Andrea’s cellar. This was on top of numerous whites and reds. I was lucky enough to sit opposite Andrea and I got fantastic insight into this famous wine family and their evolution. He is a very patient man, considering the damage we did to his private cellar.

Gary Gubbins and Andrea Felluga

Gary Gubbins and Andrea Felluga

If I thought anyone would buy even a bottle, I would love to sell the Picolit, but it is very expensive and I fear I would still be looking at it on the shelf in a few years time. I may try and get six bottles but I fear they would end up on my Christmas table. I will ask the importer to bring a bottle to the tasting on December 9th and people can taste for themselves. The other wines will be open for tasting.  

Don’t forget the Tasting

Book your tickets soon for the tasting as there has been great interest and we will have serious bottles open. The event is free if you buy a voucher ticket and there will be offers on the night so it can save you money to attend, not cost you. It is happening the week of the budget and we are calling it “The Recession Session”.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”