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Oh what a night

July 5th, 2010

TWEBT 5 happened last night and Red Nose Wine were the supplier.
I didn’t know how it would go and if people would like the wine. I completely forgot that the top of the cork said 2007, and the year is one of the questions. Whoops! For the rules of TWEBT, see Brian Clayton’s blog.


I asked everyone to open it up a little early, so at 8pm I did the same. However, I knew the wine, so felt it only polite to start ahead of the group. ( They had to wait until 9pm). The wine is question was a Cotes du Rhone from Nicholas Boiron, maker of the award winning Chateauneuf du Pape wines. It was also from great 2007 vintage so it had a lot of body and very pure fruit. In fact, when deciding on which wine to use for #TWEBT, it was these recent comments from Robert Parker, that made up my indecisive mind – “last call…2007 Cotes du Rhone’s among the best values I have ever tasted but disappearing, and replaced by less successful 2008s and 2009s”.

Gary Gubbins and Nicholas Boiron C de Pape 2009

Gary Gubbins and Nicholas Boiron C de Pape 2009

I really wanted to put in a Loire Cabernet Franc, or maybe a Chenin Blanc, but felt it important to give the crowd something they might be familiar with and enjoy across the board. There were some very nice comments about the wine and I think for the most part everyone enjoyed it. There was a very interesting Whiskey tasting going on it parallel. Most people got old world, and higher end of alcohol spectrum but it took a long time to get the 3rd grape variety, Cinsault. To be fair, its only 5% of the mix. The newly anointed @grapes_of_sloth, Paul Kiernan was very aggressive with his guesses. He tweeted with the air of a man with his WSET diploma in the bag. I got so carried away with it all, I even offered a free bottle of wine to the person who guessed the right grapes in the right order of magnitude. A bottle will soon be on its way to @JoannaSchaff – Congratulations.

Anyway, all in all a great night and I was delighted with the response to the wine. While not to most adventurous selection, I think it goes to show that if you look for it, there really are top quality wines from the south of France at a great price. With the sale on, this wine is a steal at €13.05 ( 10% off ). Other similar wines are on sale with 15% and 20% off.

Big thanks to Brian and Kevin for inviting me… we all await Twebt 6.

Article – Twebt A Virtual Taste of Wine

May 8th, 2010

I am trying something very different in this week’s article. It may work and it may not work. I am writing the article in real time, as I take part in a virtual wine tasting. Using the social media format Twitter, I am one of many around the country, and beyond who are simultaneously opening a covered bottle of wine and blind tasting it. The concept is called #Twebt. The rules of #Twebt or the “Twitter Event Blind Tasting” to give it its full name, are as follows. It is open to anyone and this is the 4th event and the numbers are growing every time. You must register for or have a Twitter account. For those of you who may not be familiar with Twitter, it is a social media format where different people “follow” other people and what they “say”, or post online. They are only allowed to “say” something in 140 characters or less. By adding the hashtag #Twebt to the end of your statement, people can then filter so they only see people involved in the tasting, thus ignoring all of the other rubbish that is sent out into cyberspace. Basically, they must get to the point very quickly. The power of Twitter is that your message can get to a huge amount of people instantly and they then have to power to pass it on to their followers instantly. A lot of the recent world breaking news events were announced first on Twitter, and then the TV stations caught up. I use it from a business perspective and have found it very powerful to gain potential new customers, or even press coverage. I was featured in last Sunday’s Tribune and it came about by getting to know the journalist online via Twitter. Anyway, back to the blind tasting.

Each event sees a different merchant making the wine available to purchase online and we all take delivery of the wine in good time for the event. There are 5 things we are trying to identify with the wine and in this order – Whether it is Old World or New World, what year the wine is, what country it comes from, the grape or combination of grapes used and finally the exact region. The idea is the organisers call for guesses as the tasting progresses and as you can imagine, the dialogue can get a little rowdy as well. I will try and write this in time with the tasting. The organiser has just asked for our first guesses on whether the wine is from the old or the new world. I should state that tonight we taste a white wine. I think it has high alcohol content for a wine of this type, so I have just guessed new world. The fact that it has a screwcap is also a hint, but not definitive. Someone else has just guessed Bordeaux, so if they are right, I need to consider a return to engineering. The crowd had seemed to be strongly looking at New World, but there is a late surge towards the old world. I was sweating there for a while, but the supplier just came back with the verdict – it is New World. It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way. There is a temptation to listen to the crowds and that late rush for the old world could sway you. It’s like the exchanges in Cheltenham just before the race goes off. I was always thought to go with your first instinct on a wine, and that is something you have to trust when tasting wines for possible purchase. I am glad I stuck to my guns.
The next thing we are looking for is the year. My instant impression was a wine that had some age on it. I may be wrong, but we’ll see how it turns out. My reason for this is that the alcohol seems to be more prominent. It is not being masked by the fruit. The acidity is high though but the wine does not have a freshness to it you might associate with a young wine. The secondary characteristics such as honey and aniseed are prominent. The result is in and it is 2007. I had guessed 2006, so I am happy enough with my guess. The exact year can often be a guess, unless you know the region, so you are really looking to get close. I would hazard a guess that 99% of white wines currently for sale in Ireland from the new world are less than 2 years old, so an older one does jump out a bit.

Country is the next thing to consider. I always take a guess outright at the very start and write it down on a piece of paper. I am not allowed to guess at the start. It ruins the fun. This time my guess was an Australian Semillon Chardonnay with some age on it. I have just entered my country guess as Australian. After a protracted wait, I am confirmed correct, so I am happy enough to proceed with the next guess, which is the grape variety. In the last blind tasting I got 4 out of 5 correct, but missed one of the grapes in the blend. This time I think it is a blend again, but predominantly Semillon. I can’t choose between aged Sauvignon and Chardonnay. We have just been given a hint that is a single variety so I am fairly confident it is Semillon as the honey is to the fore. It is hard to build the tension of waiting for the Tweet machine to go ping, so after said same tension was endured, it did indeed turn out to be Semillon. I may not have explained it earlier, but as I input my guesses and thoughts, so do the other people and I see there messages online, as they also see mine. For my final guess, I chose the region to be the Hunter Valley, and only because it is famous for its Semillon. I do think there is a high level of alcohol so that leads me to consider another, hotter region, but at this stage it is a guess. My strength is definitely not in identifying Australian Semillon regions. The last event was a Southern France Red, and I was much more confident. The final answer appears online and it turns out not to be the Hunter Valley, but the much warmer Barossa Valley. I rip off the wrapper and see a 14% alcohol Barossa Valley Semillon wine. The tasting is over, and I am very happy with my performance. It must be said that it came on the back of my brother in laws wedding on Friday in Minella, and the post wedding session in Careys on Saturday night. I wasn’t sure I could taste anything. The wedding was a huge success and I had forgotten how good Minella is for weddings. I can still taste the beef. I’m getting hungry now, but its getting late and its time for an early night after a very heavy weekend. It should be noted that I have been spitting the wine all through the tasting in the interest of responsible journalism.

If you want to get involved in the next #Twebt event, let me know and I can get you all the details. If technology is not your thing, it makes a great game for a party. Call in and I will wrap a bottle for you and write down the answers in sealed envelopes.

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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”

A Virtual Taste of Wine

A Virtual Taste of Wine