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Archive for May, 2012

See the 99 point vines at La Peira

May 31st, 2012

One of our very favorite vineyards, La Péira was part of the visit to the Languedoc with our friends at Curious Wines last May, and Mike has posted a little video of Jérémie Depierre, winemaker at the great estate.

This is the vineyard described by Gary Vaynerchuk as “the next great global cult wine”. He also said this – “Dense, rich and explosive, with layer after layer of flavor and complexity. Ripe, but never over the top, this stunning effort should easily last 25 to 30 years. Expect ENORMOUS ratings for this wine. Syrah with a small amount of Grenache Noir. This wine just took my breathe away.” 99 points.

Jeremie Depierre shows me the cellars in La Peira

Jeremie Depierre shows me the cellars in La Peira

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate award the 2009 vintage 96 points and called the wines “sensational”.

One of my favourite critics, Jeb Dunnuck of The Rhone Report said this before lavishing it with scores….

“One of the top estates in the Languedoc, and certainly in the crème de la crème of estates in the south of France, La Pèira en Damaisèla is owned by the well-known UK composer Robert Dougan, with the winemaking team consisting of Jérémie Depierre, with Claude Gros consulting. Producing full-bodied, powerful, and exceedingly rich wines, this estate is set apart by their ability to produce wines that not only show thrilling levels of fruit and texture, but also manage to hold onto a sense of purity, elegance, and balance.” – The Rhone Report, March 2012.

2010 La Pèira Terrasses du Larzac: “A more classic, structured, and mineral-driven profile with utterly captivating aromatics of crème de cassis and pit styled fruits that are intermixed with notions of roasted herbs, chocolate, crushed stone, and candied flowers that literally soar from the glass. Deep, layered, and yet still incredibly light and elegant on the palate, with spectacular purity of fruit, loads of richness, and fantastic freshness, this full-bodied beauty might just eclipse both the ‘07 and ‘09 (97-100 pts.)” – The Rhone Report, March 2012.

Enjoy a rare peak into a very special vineyard at the start of its journey into superstardom.

Valencia – a hidden Spanish gem

May 25th, 2012

We are delighted and excited to introduce our new range of Valencia wines, from the very exciting Bodegas Arraez vineyard.

The wines of Bodegas Arraez

Bodegas Arraez is a family winery with a long tradition. The winery was founded in 1916 by some winemakers and bought it later in 1950 by Antonio Arraez. Then he began to develop his own wines becoming to be one of the leaders in the region selling bulk and bottled wines from the Denominación de Origen Valencia. The winery is located in the town of Fuente de la Higuera with special climate and terroir. The have 35 Hec. of vineyards with indigenous grapes like, Monastrell, Tempranillo, Garnacha Tintorera, Macabeo and Muscat and other foreign grapes as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

The next generation

Currently the company is in the third generation managed by Toni Arraez which is a young wine maker who has being elaborating wines in Ribera del Duero for some years and he has taken the winery to a further step beginning to build a new style of Spanish wines which have had a great success during this two last years in the national market.

Bang for your buck

What we like ( and we think our customers will like ) is that these wines are very well made with no expense spared. They are also incredibly well made for the price. If this was Rioja a wine like Eduardo Bermejo could easily be selling closer to €20, but we think it offers fantastic bang for your buck at €11.99.

Even the ‘cheaper’ range, Casas de Herencia get light oaking and this is unheard of at €8.99. Let me introduce the range and please call in, as we have some open now and will open more as the infiltrate the Irish market.

Casas de Herencia

Casas de Herencia The so called entry level wines offer great value and easy drinking – The red is a great mix of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Grenache. The wine is is garnet in color and has an intense aroma of red fruit such as blackcurrant. Lots of upfront fruit and a long velvety finish. The wines spend 4 months in oak, which is very rare at this price point.

The white has a lovely nose of white flowers with peach and honeysuckle. It is crisp and wonderfully balanced and bursting with melon, mango and ripe peaches.


Eduardo Bermejo
These wines are names after a well known Valencian painter. The red is a brilliant red colour layer which identifies its freshness. On the nose it is very fruit-bearing, with intense connotations of red fruits as raspberry and well integrated oak notes. ( 4 months in American oak ).

The white is palid yellow colour with greenish tones that demonstrates its predominant variety , Verdejo. On the nose it is very clean and floral with great intensity. On the palate it turns out to be fresh, and elegant, with well balanced acidity that fills the palate.


Guilty Pleasures

We also have a few guilty pleasures, small quantites of a wine called Mala Vida and a Monastrell ‘Author’ wine called A2. Mala Vida means the bad (in a good way ) life, or the Italians might say, La Dolce Vita. It is a blend of Monastrell, Cabernet, Grenache and Shyrah and 8 months in American oak. It has a dark red colour, full with a rich aroma. Red fresh fruits flavours and well integrated oak that doesn´t hide its fruity savory nature. Only €12.99 but it tastes a lot more expensive.

The A2 Monastrell is a serious wine and made in tiny quantities. Dense purple colour, the fruit flavors like black currant and cherry are dominant, but perfected emblessed with balsamic and mineral notes typical of the variety Monastrell. The primary tastes is sweetness with agradables tannins. It should be noted the perfect balance of fruit and the toasted of the oak.

Article – Horses for Courses

May 24th, 2012

The communions are in full swing as I write this on a sunny / cloudy Saturday morning. I passed a good few white dresses and stressed parents on the way into work this morning. We have a five year old’s birthday to contend with but it seems less daunting than the communions.

Knobbly knees and Dairy Milks

My memory of my communion is my neighbour buying me a red confirmation rosette instead of a white communion one. Everyone noticed and laughed outside St Marys church. At least my mother didn’t dress me in shorts like some of the lads. The sight of the knobbly knees brigade deflected away from my Red rosette. There were no wine laden dinners in those days or €50 notes in a card. Careys Lounge was the post communion setting and Dairy Milk the reward for making the big step on your spiritual journey.

Anyway, memory lane is an indulgence the good wine public of Tipperary won’t suffer too much longer, so I better talk about wine. I want to compare wines to the breeding of horses, if I may. I recently joined the FUSE initiative, which is an networking organisation among businesses in the South East of Ireland. They organised a breakfast meeting in Coolmore this week and I jumped at the chance to attend.

I had never been there and have long been fascinated by what they do. I was lucky enough to attend the Ryder Cup in Ireland a few years ago and it was organised to such a word class level, it made me really proud to be Irish. Coolmore had a similar effect.

The Great Galileo

I am way off the point now, but in an attempt to be succinct, Coolmore is a world leader, and sets worldwide standards for others in their industry to try and reach. It is an example of what the Irish can do well, but it is coupled with an execution and vision that sets it apart. I came out of the visit very inspired, and I got to meet Galileo. I was hoping to meet Dylan Thomas as he made me some nice money a few years ago. I owe him at least a lump of sugar.

A fine Tipperary Stallion

A fine Tipperary Stallion

Hey Camelot – who’s your Daddy?

A good friend on mine in London, originally from Clonmel is an avid follower of Ballydoyle and the great Aidan O Brien. He has put a ‘small’ wager on a horse called Camelot in the Epson Derby. The horse is favourite so why is that strange? He placed the bet ante post at over 20-1. I have a very nice case of wine set aside for his hopeful winnings.

Who's your Daddy

Who's your Daddy

Communions, stallions and very little wine – what are we to do. Those familiar with Coolmore will know about a horse called Northern Dancer, and his son Saddlers Wells. My mate Galilieo is a son of Saddlers. The breeding in this line of horses has created a roll of champions that is the envy of the racing world. Wine is quite similar, but slightly different.

The 1855 classification in Bordeaux tells us what were the great wines of that year, and bye and large, they still hold true. They were broken into five groups with the 1er Cru at the top. One of these five is Chateau Margaux and it was regarded the very best estate in Margaux back then, and still is. Chateau Latour and Lafite are still seen as the standard bearers for Paulliac. Their ‘breeding line’ has stood the test of time.

Chateau Margaux – the Coolmore of Wine

Chateau Margaux - the Coolmore of Wine?

While I appreciate that vines don’t breed as a stallion and brood mare might, the fact exists that the same vines are consistently producing great wines year after year. Over 150 years after their greatness was recognised, they are still the standard bearers. While the root vine and terroir are a part of this, there is also constant reinvestment and the attention to detail is staggering.

There are many examples of vineyards within the list that didn’t maintain their attention to detail and have fallen back into mediocrity. While they maintain their place on the list, the prices paid for the wines reflect their true standing.

The manicured vines of Chateau Margaux

The manicured vines of Chateau Margaux

Equally, if I go out and look for a pieball pony and breed it with any old willing mare, there is a good chance its offspring will not challenge Camelot or any of his siblings at Epsom. I could go and buy a few hectares in the south of France and go and make wine. I can be as meticulous as I like, but if that land is not suitable for making great wine, I will join the many who live in the pleasant world of mediocrity.

That is not a bad place to be, as long as you know where you are. I must stress I am talking about the top end of wine here. This should not take from the fact that most of the wines we drink and gain pleasure from do not fit into this elite group. It should be stated that previously unheralded parts of the world have created superstar wines. The Languedoc is now producing some of the finest wines in the world. They are a fraction of the prices of the top Bordeaux and Burgundy. Seabiscuit does exist in the wine world.

If Seabiscuit was a vineyard

Places like the Terrases du Larzac always had the ‘breed’ in the land, but it was never properly harvested. Bulk wines are all about volume, while fine wine is all about concentration. These two cannot co-exist so when serious wine makers came in, they brought execution and vision. The latest scores for La Peira have just been released and they are touching 100 points. I have tasted most of the top Bordeaux wines, and La Peira is a serious contender.

Jeremie Depierre shows me the cellars in La Peira

Jeremie Depierre shows me the cellars in La Peira

Many more experimental winemakers will go and get clippings from the great estates of the world transplant them to their vineyard. Aime Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac did this back in the 1970s in his now famous estate. People thought he was mad, but he grafted Burgundy Pinot Noir, Bordeaux Cabernet, Piedmonte Nebbiolo and many more to create a unique vineyard that was eventually described as the Grand Cru of the Midi.

The great Languedoc pioneer Aime Guibert and his son Samuel

The great Languedoc pioneer Aime Guibert and his son Samuel

A very fine affair in Ballymaloe

While his Grand Cru red is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, there are 19 or so other varieties that Samuel Guibert describes as the salt and pepper. Samuel’s mother Veronique co founded the vineyard with Aime and she has written a book based on cooking among the vines in the Gassac Valley. I am honoured to co host an event for the launch of this book on August 2nd in Ballymaloe.

Darina Allen and her team in the famous Cookery School are having a long table dinner in the grounds of the school with Madame Guibert’s book being the inspiration for the menu. The Grand Cru wines are going to be served as the Allens and the Guibert’s talk and taste their way through a feast of food and wine. Get your tickets quick as this is a small intimate event.

Who’s coming to Epsom?

So, I will be cheering on Camelot on June 2nd and hoping to move a case of La Peira to my ante post hero. I may have to consider going over to Epsom to make sure all runs smoothly. Now there is a plan worth pursuing. We could organise a bus from McCarthys in Fethard. I’ll bring the wine if someone else brings the tickets.

The new Loyalty card scheme is proving very popular. The Silver cards are free, and after 10 stickers ( earned every time you spend €25 ) you get FREE WINE. You also get a Gold card and at the end of that, there is even more FREE WINE, and you move on to the revered platinum card. The May sale if still on, so call in for 20% off the Languedoc and South Africa.

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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”

Gary and Mike’s Bon Voyage

May 21st, 2012

Our good friends at Curious Wines have put a trailer together for a video of a trip myself and Michael Kane ( not the actor ) made last year to Mas de Daumas Gassac and La Peira in the Languedoc.

I have the footage as well, so if they hand me on the edit, I can always put out a behind the scenes version. I will post the ‘film’ and its sequel as they are published. Here’s the teaser …

20% OFF Languedoc & Sth Africa

May 4th, 2012

May is here and we can start to dream about the summer. We will be offering a little sale for the merry month of May and offering 20% off on some of our favourite Languedoc wines. I watched the film Invictus this week, so I will also throw our Paarl Heights wines from South Africa into the sale.


The Gassac Collection
Gassac Classic Red @ €7.19 (normally €8.99)
Gassac Classic White @ €7.19 (normally €8.99)

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

Albaran Cabernet – Syrah @ €9.59 (normally €11.99)
Elise Merlot – Syrah @ €9.59 (normally €11.99)
Faune Viognier @ €9.59 (normally €11.99)

The Reserve the Gassac has been renamed Pont de Gassac and is also on offer for only €11.99 (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.

The Best of the Rest

Grandiose Cabernet Sauvignon

Corbieres St Lucie

Malis Cotes de Roussillon

Delsol PicPoul de Pinet

Agnel Minervois

Chateau Calce Cotes de Roussillon Villages

Star Buys

Dignite Syrah

Mas de L’Ecriture ‘Emotion

South Africa

The vineyards of South Africa

The vineyards of South Africa

We are also offering Paarl Heights Shiraz and Chenin Blanc on offer. €7.19 (normally €8.99)

Don’t forget, all of the SALE wines count towards the Loyalty Card points.

Have a great Bank Holiday.