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Archive for April, 2011

New Vintages of Gassac Arrived & Are on Special

April 29th, 2011

The new vintages of the Moulin de Gassac wines have arrived in and to help you fall in love with them, we are offering a discount on the range.


To celebrate the arrival of the new vintage of Gassac, our great wine from the Languedoc, we are offering :

Gassac Classic Red @ €7.49 (normally €9.49)
Gassac Classic White @ €7.49 (normally €9.49)

Guilhem Red @ €7.99 (normally €9.99)
Guilhem White @ €7.99 (normally €9.99)

Albaran Cabernet – Syrah @ €9.99 (normally €11.99)
Elise Merlot – Syrah @ €9.99 (normally €11.99)
Faune Viognier @ €9.99 (normally €11.99)

The Reserve the Gassac has been renamed Pont de Gassac and is also on offer for only €12.49 (normally €14.99)

The Red is fantastic and we still have a little of the Reserve white left over, but this is also on special.

This offer will expire when May turns to June

Please call in for a taste or take our word for it . great wines at a great price from one of the most celebrated wine families in the world.

Article – A Taste of Japan

April 15th, 2011

To celebrate the increase in the ECB base rate, and as a tip of the hat to better times ahead, I am going to indulge in some luxury this week.

2 Juicy Ones

I was the very grateful recipient of two of Pat Whelan’s famous Wagyu steaks recently. I could pretend that I bought them, but in the wine world if a reviewer gets a free sample they are obligated to say it was a sample. I am assuming it is the same for food, so I hear by declare I was a happy guinea pig for the Rolls Royce of Steaks.

What is Wagyu and what does it have to do with wine? I decided not to waste the opportunity to taste one of these world famous pieces of meat and opened a very special bottle of wine that I had been saving. The best of food deserves the best of wine, and I will try and explain how a very fine Bordeaux tastes while matched with this very unique cut of beef.

Ahh… Bordeaux

I opened one of my favourite Bordeaux wines, the fabulous Clos du Marquis, which comes from the famed village of St Julien in the Medoc area of Bordeaux. It is the second wine from Leoville Las Cases, which is a part of the second growth wines from the 1855 Classification.

Leoville Las Cases - Bordeaux

Leoville Las Cases - Bordeaux

These are the wines you buy for a small fortune and keep them for a few years and they turn into a large fortune. As stated, the wine I opened was the second wine from one of these giants, and I got it as a present, before the chanting starts – “There’s no recession in that house”. I can assure you there is. Incidentally I do sell it as well and it is a steal at €56 Euros. If I could sell a few cases, it would help with the whole recession thing.

The Farmers Market

Anyway, the wine was opened and the carrots and parsnips courtesy of Paddy Stokes from the Farmers Market were prepared as well as spuds drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper and popped in the oven. I am a big believer in letting top quality food and wine speak for itself, so no sauces for steak of this quality. The wine would be the sauce.

Let me explain a little bit about about Wagyu for those of you not familiar. Wagyu literally means Japanese Cow, and that is where this breed originates from. They are known for their unique textured flavour. The cattle are raised on a traditional diet of organic grains to give an authentic fullness of flavour and tenderness. According to Pat’s very informative website, during cooking the high concentration of inter-muscular fat or marbling melts and marinates the wagyu beef from the inside.

Is Wagyu cheaper than the cholesterol pills?

The really good news is that the “studies have shown Wagyu has major health benefits as part of a balanced diet. The high level of unsaturated fats and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which is said to boost the immune system and also helps lower cholesterol as part of a balanced diet to fight diseases like diabetes and heart disease”.

Whatever about that all I know is that I never tasted anything like them. There was a texture to the meat that was very different to fillet or sirloin. There is a layer of fat that runs through the cut, and it instils a slow release flavour that lingers long, just like a fine wine.

The wine … at last

Speaking of wine, I think it is time that I described it and more particularly why someone might pay good money for the top stuff. Top end Bordeaux, from the Left Bank or Medoc is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc on the side.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine in the Barrel room of Leoville Las Cases

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine in the Barrel room of Leoville Las Cases

There are Proteins in beef and the tannins found in Red wine, and in particular Bordeaux, soak up these proteins and helps bring out the flavour. The tannins are those things that make your mouth go all dry when you drink the wine without food. Hence, heavily tannic wine needs aging or food.

When you match this tannic wine to a beef as complex and textured as Wagyu, this marriage of proteins is so much more pronounced. The tannins were neutralised and the fruit expression in the wine came to the fore. That almost buttery tenderness in the beef is filled with this fantastic expression of blackcurrant and red cherrys from the wine.

Here comes the Bulls%$*

Without sounding too full of rubbish, the wine and the Wagyu seemed to blend together and a kind of calm came over me. I felt I was walking in Japan among the cows with the vines of Bordeaux in the background. I think I’ve taken it too far. I can see Pat cringing.

My review of the Wagyu, for what it is worth, is that it is a sublime piece of meat that tastes like no other I have had. I would love to retry it in a barbeque as I imagine the flavours would be even more pronounced. If you ever have it, be sure to match it to a good wine. This beef deserves it.

The Chileans are Here

I must admit that both the wine and the Wagyu are a treat, as they are not the cheapest things on the menu, but the good news is that Pat also has Wagyu burgers and I have a new range of Chilean wines that I bring in direct from the vineyard. Once again, there are some great matches to be had, especially as BBQ season approaches.

As a proud Francophile, it has taken me nearly two years to find a Chilean wine I would commit to the larger quantities that are required to import direct. I found it in Santa Alicia and their wines come in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Carmenere. The prices start at €7.99 and then move to €9.99 for the Reserva range and it is only €12.99 for the Gran Reserva range. The Cabernets in particular are superb and a real alternative to the more expensive French variety. Try the discount case of 12 which has a little of everything and is only €99.99 ( from €124.88 )

Communion, Confirmation and Christening & Weddings

So, call in for a taste as we will have these wines open over the next few weeks and will be doing some really special deals on case prices, which are perfect for the three Cs, Communion, Confirmation and Christening. It’s also great for the big W.

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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 Apr 13 2011

Spanish Wine – 20% OFF

April 15th, 2011

We are delighted to offer some of our latest arrivals from Spain at 20% off.


The wines on the offer include our Animal Range ( its Crackers )

La Granja “ Pig ” Tempranillo
La Granja “ Hen “Syrah
La Granja “Zebra” Tempranillo – Garnacha

Then there is the star from the very trendy Bierzo region – La Mano Mencia

There is always time for Rioja and we have three to offer on our sale.

San Pedro Randez Rioja Joven
Pago Malarina Rioja
Vallobera Crianza Rioja

So, remember last year’s World Cup and the summer holidays to come and have a taste of Spain with 20% Off.

Grow It Yourself ( Food that is, not wine – buy that from me )

April 8th, 2011

This is a blog about a very good idea that really took off. Michael Kelly wrote a book about jumping off of the Celtic Tiger merry-go-round and his hellish Dublin commute. He bought a house by the sea and grew his own vegetables. His 2nd book was about Growing It Yourself and from it came the GIY movement that is growing at an exponential rate. What is little known is that he also recorded an album and I have a copy ( signed !! ). I will take bids online. He has now completed 2 items on my bucket list.

We started GIYing last year (and by we, I mean my wife does everything) and we ate very well from a small raised bed in the back garden. We haven’t taken to pigs and chickens yet, but I have good thing going with TJ Crowe and Pat Whelan and other members of the Tipperary Food Producers Network. I don’t want to rock the boat. I am sure TJ would do the job on the pig for me. What struck me about everything we grew was the flavour and how easy the ‘crop’ grew. We had to water it when we had that 4 day sunny spell last summer, but other than that it was fairly easy to manage, or so my wife says.

The next generation GIYers

The next generation GIYers

Anyway, what has all of this got to do with wine? Most of my very best wine experiences have had some superb food involved. I remember an all day and all night dinner in Tuscany with many bottles of Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Trips to Provence and the Languedoc always involve as much food as wine. Most of the artisan winemakers grow their own food as well. They have huge respect for the land and all of its bounty. If you can at all, get invited to a winemaker’s house for dinner. They love showing off many vintages of their wines, and matching them to all manner of food. You may not want to eat for a week after it however.

Andrea Felluga hospitality

And now the point of this blog and the good news. We are delighted to join the growing band of GIY Friends who offer a discount to members with the Friends of GIY cards. It is only €15 to join and you get a range of great deals as well as a wealth of information on Growing your own. We are offering a 10% discount in-house and online.

Life is much too short to drink bad wine, and tasteless, imported & over-processed food.

Article – The Grapes of Wrath

April 6th, 2011

As I write this I am reading about the bank stress tests and the potential billions we will need. I am also reading a book, but not at the same time, for that would be truly wonderful – to be able to read two things at once. The book I am reading in my spare time is called “The Grapes of Wrath” and was written by John Steinbeck.

The Banks

There is a very apt quote in the book about how decent people ended up destitute through no fault of their own. “The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.” In another bank reference they talk about how “They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don’t get it, they die the way you die without air.” This was all written back in the 1930s.

Some light social commentary to start the day. On a personal and local level, I like my bank very much and could not stay in business without them. Let us shift quickly from this potentially uncomfortable paragraph. I should mention that The Grapes of Wrath is also about wine so is relevant.

Praying for Rain

It is about wine in the sense that it is about migrant people from Oklahoma who search for a new life out West among the vines. As Dean Martin, and my uncle Pa sang. “I’m praying for rain in California, so the grapes can grow and they can make more wine”. These are the people who picked the grapes for very little money.

I can highly recommend the book but I warn you, it is not a happy read. It is a sad and depressing novel but also very dignified. I mention it because I have tasted a lot of Californian wines this week and I rarely mention wines from the Sunshine State, and as Obama is coming, I thought, why not.

The Silicon Chip Inside my Head

I have traditionally stayed away from Californian wines as they are often the epitome of the very worst in winemaking or the superb but overpriced excess of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. This is a massive generalization, and I know it. However, the tanned and laid back West coasters are slowly realising that the Silicon Valley revolution does not have an unlimited bank account and they need to flog some wine in Europe. They are beginning to get real with prices.

I was in the very efficient ProWein wine trade fair in Dusseldorf last week, and it really has some of the very best in wine in a very structured environment. I tried to call to Angela Merkel and see if she would reduce our interest rate, but I couldn’t get close enough. I will revisit this show and its treats in another article anon, as the writers of fairytales might write. But for now, I will describe some of California’s better wines.

California accounts for 90% of the entire American wine production and as a state is nearly three quarters of the size of France. The more famous regions include Sonoma and Napa. Just as it started to grow as a region the advent of Prohibition kicked in and by the end of it there were only 140 vineyards left in operation. Up until the 60s, it was seen as a place to get rubbish wine. But as the music of the sixties waned, the vineyards flourished and some serious wines emerged.

The Judgment of Paris

Names like Krug, Mondavi, and Bruce started to make some really serious wines and then a small English wine merchant in Paris had an idea that turned into a revolution. Englishman Steven Spurrier, who owned a small shop in Paris, invited Californian winemakers to compete in a blind tasting against French iconic wines. In a huge surprise, the US wines beat the best of Bordeaux and Burgundy in what became known as “The Judgment of Paris”.

The rest, as the say, is history and US wine came into its own. It had a renaissance in a way, but to be honest it never had an ‘aissance’ to begin with. With the exception of people like Al Capone and bootleggers, up until this moment, it struggled for price and for acceptance. There might even have been an issue with quality.

Having ignored these wines for commercial and personal reasons for a long time, I got stuck into the tasting in Germany and tried both cheap and moderately prices Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and of course Zinfandel. I have to say I changed my opinion and while I am not sure I will go very heavy on an order, do watch this space. I think I may start bringing them in and offering a chance to taste the difference.

The wines that were celebrated at the famous tasting were the Chardonnays ( against their Burgundy counterparts ) and the Cabernet Sauvignons ( up against the giants of Bordeaux ).

Fruit and Alcohol

The reliably warm weather allows many wineries to use very ripe fruit which brings up a more fruit forward rather than earthy style of wine. It also creates the opportunity for higher alcohol levels with many Californian wines being 1 or 2 degrees above Bordeaux. The style of Californian Chardonnay differs greatly from wines like Chablis with Californian winemakers frequently using malolactic fermentation and oak aging to make buttery, full bodied wines.

When the Baron met the Mogul

The Cabernets are known for their concentration of fruits and structure which produces lush, rich wines that can age well. In fact, Baron de Rothschild of Mouton fame came together with Robert Mondavi ( of Falcon Crest ) fame to create Opus One, which is a Bordeaux style wine that is made in California and commands huge prices across the world. With the Chinese buying up all of the top end Bordeaux ( and driving prices crazy ) maybe the world will look West for their top end Cabernet.

The Judgment of Tipperary

In the meantime, I will announce when I bring in some affordable Californian wines and we can have our own challenge. We will look for a suitable venue and have “The Judgment of Tipperary”. We are starting to plan our winemaker trips so watch this space for tastings, wine dinners and lots more. Cloughjordan is playing host to the Totally Tipperary Food ( and wine ) festival in late June. More on that to follow.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at, visit our All New Facebook page 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”

Article 93 - nationalist Apr 6 2011