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When I’m 64 – Quality Mixed Case

September 9th, 2013

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now.

I was a Beatles fan from an early age and remember liking that song and laughing at how old someone would have to be when they’re 64 (I am aware that the answer is in the question). The trouble is its not so funny anymore as I approach 40.
Like many parents I sent kids back to school and took on all the emotion that goes with that. The cliche is true. It all goes by too quickly. So, this mix case is dedicated to the parents. With that in mind, we’ve tried to put in something really nice to help ease you back in. The NZ Sauvignon and the Rioja stand out for me.

New-Miz-Case-Banner-Sep-13

The name comes from the fact that this mix case is discounted back to €64 – The wines on offer include :

Ant Moore Sauvignon Blanc
Bozeto de Exopto Rioja
Casas de Herencia Red
Casas de Herencia White
Santa Alicia Sauvignon Blanc Reserva
Solonio Il Grottone ( Ripasso Style CabSab Syrah )

SurePrint-A1-Mix-Case-Back-to-School

The Mythical Bird of Promise

April 11th, 2013

We are delighted to introduce our newest vineyard to the Red Nose Wine stable of stars.

Kanu is the Mythical Bird of Promise and we have taken in 5 of their wines ( to start ).

All-the-wines

The Classic Dry White and the Rifle Range Red offer great value and punch well above their weight at €11.99

The Sauvignon Blanc gives fresh, zesty, green fruit flavours; whilst the Chenin complements with tangy tropical fruit, green melon and honeysuckle.

The Sauvignon Blanc gives fresh, zesty, green fruit flavours; whilst the Chenin complements with tangy tropical fruit, green melon and honeysuckle. The Rifle Range Red is  an easy drinking Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend offers tantalising aromas of biltong, dark chocolate and Christmas spices on the nose. Soft supple tannins and lingering mocha notes make this an amazingly accessible wine that combines the elegance of old world style wines, with new world fruit.

The Chenin Blanc comes in at €12.49 and it has a rich, welcoming nose with tropical nuances, freshly quartered guavas and undertones of green nettle. On the palate it is tropical, underpinned by a lively acidity. The wine creates a broad mid-palate, highlighted by hints of winter melon and even a trace of streaky minerality, leaving a lingering finish.

The Shiraz (€13.99) is concentrated, brooding with cherry black rim. It has a multi-layered nose: bitter chocolate, Marcello cherries, stewed rhubarb, milled pepper and rich mocha tones; all accentuated by a subtle vanilla. A perceptive sweetness follows onto the palate, highlighted by black fruit and touches of allspice. A sleek, muscled wine, well balanced acidity, layered richness and a long finish.

If you really want to treat yourself the GSM ( Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre ) will blow your socks off. If you like Chateauneuf du Papes style wines, this might be for you ( for less money ). The deep ruby colour hints at the flavours to come… aromas of dark chocolate, juicy red berries and herbaceous notes tempt the nose whilst on the pallet mulberry and blackcurrant compote flavours balance out the well-structured tannins. It has spent 18 months in French barriques which gives a depth of flavour and elegance to this multidimensional wine. If this was a European wine it would be €30-€40 but its a snip at €19.99.

All the wines are available online or in the shop – a lot of them are open at the moment including the GSM so be quick…

We also came across some great videos on their website including a great one of the sound of wine fermenting

There was also another one from the harvest.

Wines of the Week – Rioja and French Sauvignon

September 17th, 2011

We have 2 new wines of the week. One of our big favourites, a very approachable Rioja called Pago Malarina is down from €10.99 to €8.99. The wine has a bright cherry red colour with purple hues. On the nose, it is youthful, clean, open with predominant aromas of fresh juicy fruit, especially red berries. A touch of vanilla is evident from time in oak. On the palate the wine is full, revealing fine balance. The finish is rich and long with great persistence.

The white is a French Sauvignon called Grandiose, which is quite exotic on the nose, almost New Zealand in style, this Gascogone Sauvignon is fresh and crisp with a great acidity. A great value alternative to the classic Loire Valley alternative.

wine-of-the-week---pagoRioja-Grandiose

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.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog, visit our All New Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RedNoseWineFanPage or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine
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 Apr 13 2011

Article – Wedding Wines

March 2nd, 2011

“The Bells, the Bells”. I can hear them ringing in my head. That may be due to the amount of wine tastings I have been attending lately, but I think it is due to the wedding season being upon us. I was at a very lively wedding fair in the Clonmel Park recently and it was abuzz with innocence and youth.

I remember it well. I was married in Minella back in 2004. My wife never asked me to go to a wedding fair though. She knows me too well. I turned up and the hair was combed. My promise fulfilled.

Wines for all occasions

I love supplying the wines for weddings as people really care about the wine being good but are also on a budget. This is where small independent importers come into their own as we can offer consistent ‘direct from the vineyard’ prices for serious quality wine. The happy couple can also taste the wines and be confident in their selection. This approach has also worked for christenings, communions and confirmations.

But apart from all the obvious self promotion, the thing that people want to know about wedding wines ( apart from the price ) is what to serve. As much as I love Riesling, I would not serve it at a wedding and as much as I adore Pinot Noir, it is too expensive and most people won’t get it.

happy-bride

Its all about the bride people

I am going to abandon my normal position on being adventurous in your wine choices. In terms of large gatherings where the wine is very much down the agenda in terms of the day’s priority (It’s all about the bride), I would suggest being conservative. My advice is stick with a crowd pleaser, and I am not talking about the bride. Stick with what is popular and goes well with beef or salmon.

Sauvignon Blanc is popular for a reason but closing in on its popularity is Pinot Grigio. These are the two white varieties of choice at the moment. The poor old Chardonnay grape cannot get a look in but it’s a pity as it is great match with that old stalwart of Irish weddings, Salmon.

Chilean Merlot still seems to lead the charge with the reds but the French Languedoc Syrah-Grenache blends are doing very well as that whole authentic earthy style sits well with the Irish palate. Cabernet Sauvignon is still doing well as it goes so well with that other classic, beef.

We want the finest wines available to humanity

You can’t ignore the price issue and to be honest when it is a large gathering and costs are already astronomical, price is important. However, If you want to spoil your guests, I am ready to serve. I am still waiting for Richard E Grant to jump in the door of the shop and scream “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now”. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a scene from one of my favourite films, Withnail and I.

 

To sum up, keep it simple and keep it cheap with wedding wines but don’t poison your guests. They are bringing you presents after all so you need to treat them well. If the wine is bad they will tell everyone and they may not come to your next wedding.

Enough with the bloody politics

This is my last political commentary – I promise. By the time this is published, we will have a new Taoiseach. Hopefully at that point, we can move forward as a united country and build a future that works for Ireland. I think that maybe I should run in the next election.

As Jackie Healy Rae famously said that he represented “the people who eat their dinner in the middle of the day”, I could represent the people who drink wine with it. I should probably distance myself from those who drink wine in the middle of the day.

This week I met with some like minded importers from around the country at a little wine sampling / dinner in Ely Bar in Dublin. Lots of progress was made and a serious plan put in place for the year. We were able to confirm our new shared Spanish wine collection which starts at €8 Euros per bottle.

New-Wine-Collection

Don’t miss our current 20% Sale on Languedoc wines. Now that is value.

Who wants a coffee?

As mentioned last week, Red Nose Wine is delighted to announce we have taken delivery of our first coffee. We are constantly expanding our range in wines, but we are now giving you another reason to call in. The coffee comes in full beans and ground bags and comes from Tipperary Food Producer Tommy Ryan of Ponaire. They have a fantastic roasting facility and have a range of flavours to choose from. We will be adding more quality coffee producers to the range in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

Please have a look at our Facebook site and ‘Like’ Us so we can share all the photos with you. Feel free to share this page with your friends and enemies.

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”

Article – No sugar please, I’m sweet enough

August 13th, 2010

Dont mention the Trip

I will not mention travel, foreign food or even nice views from hot climate terraces in this piece. I think I have flogged my recent wine trip to within an inch of its life, if transient ramblings through vineyards exist as an entity, and actually have a life. Have I swallowed a dictionary or am I abusing a thesaurus again? Alas I have not. I ate a Pizza late last night and spent the night having mad, crazy dreams and my conclusion is that one of those dreams must have involved a duel with words. Suffice to say, I don’t remember my dreams and this is a very longwinded way of telling you that I will not talk about my trip to France.

pizza

Confusing Times in One’s Head

So what else can I talk about? Lots of things I hope you agree. For instance, rather than mention a wine, or a region or price or quality, I will attempt to answer a question that I get asked about regularly. How does one taste wine properly? One must first desist from referring to ones self in the 3rd person, for that gives the impression that one is full of one’s own importance, and this is one of the many regular battles we in the wine world are trying to change. So, we and oneself shall become myself, yourself and whoever else is tuning in. “Dear Doctor, come quickly. I am having the dreams in the daytime now”. Begone foul cheese dream monster and leave me in peace.

inside_head

Tasting Wine

I have covered the topic of tasting wine before and at the risk of repeating myself ( as opposed to oneself ), I will attack it from a different angle. Even though the jelly bean test is a great way to reveal the importance of smell in tasting, I will refer to someone whom I have a lot of time for when in comes to wine, the first lady of the critics, Jancis Robinson MW. The MW means she is a Master of Wine, of which there are only 280 in the world today. Apart from all that, she is great at getting to the heart of a wine, and is very level headed about the hype and most important, she has a great palate. She has a book called, “How to Taste Wine”, and for someone who wants to go past the “I know what I like” stage of wine appreciation, this is a good place to start. It covers the basic questions and moves with consummate ease up through the more complex parts of tasting.

jancis_robinson

Sugar or Spice

The first thing she discusses is what formed the basis of the last article I wrote on tasting, which amounts to, “its all in the nose”. Hold your nose as you eat a pineapple and then release it as you chew. The huge rush of flavour comes from your nose and your sense of smell. Draw air in as you eat your food to enhance the flavours. I don’t have enough space to go into all the various aspects involved, but I think they are all important, so I will start with Sweetness in wine. Depending on how it is received, I will cover acidity, tannin, body, balance and the rest of the equation in later articles. Sweetness in wine is one of the most misunderstood descriptions of a wine. The tip of the tongue is the place where we assess how sweet something is, be it ice cream or wine. The science goes back to the basic principle that “grape juice becomes wine when yeasts act on the sugar in ripe grapes to convert some, or nearly all, of it into alcohol”. The sweetness is determines by the amount of sugar left in the juice, the residual sugar. This sugar varies between 1 and 200 grams per litre, and a ‘dry’ wine is a wine containing between 2 and 10g. You will see a lot of cheaper wines ( think Chilean and Austrian ) containing a lot of sugar, as the enhanced sweetness can often mask the rougher edges that might exist. The wine world wouldn’t be what it is if there was not a direct contradiction to this. In this instance, it is the wonderful sweet German wines and the desert wines of Sauternes and places like it. These are super sweet, and a million miles away from the commercial wines with added sugar. People talk about excessive sulphites giving them a hangover, but added sugar isn’t the best thing for your head either. Have you ever had a Coca Cola Sugar hangover? To sum up, most wines are dry and when you are asking for a sweet wine, as yourself if you want a sugary desert wine, or do you mean off dry.

Name the Wines

For reference, bone dry wines include Muscadet, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc ( Sancerre ; Pouilly Fume ). Dry wines account for most of the wines out there, and they include most Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, white Burgundy, white Rhone & Provence wines, Pinot Grigio, and many more. To experience medium dry, you should look to my favourite white variety, Riesling, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris and the German wines labelled Kabinett, Spätlese or Halbtrocken. You then move up to Medium Sweet with late harvest wines from Asti and Moscato or Tokay from Hungary. There are varying levels of Sweet and then very sweet above this with Sauternes being the standout wine. All of the above are white, and while Red Wines do vary in sweetness, 85% of them are Dry, but if you want a slightly sweeter one, try Pinot Noir, Chateauneuf du Pape or a juicy Australian Shiraz.

Don’t forget that the Tipperary Food Producers Long Table dinner is coming up on August 25th in Chez Hans, The Old Convent, Inch House and Brocka on the Water. I’ll be representing the Network in Clogheen myself and look forward to a wonderful night with Christine and Dermot.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

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 12 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Aug 12 2010

The SALE goes on

July 2nd, 2010

The weather remains, and the poor old barbecue is wrecked. It never knew work like this before.

SALE SALE SALE

SALE SALE SALE

The sale has been very popular and the 20% and 15% wine have really been well taken up. If I am to pick my own stars among that batch, I would say

The Pont de Brion Graves - down from €15 to €12 and from the mythical 2005 Bordeaux vintage.

The Chateau Margui Blanc – down from €18.50 to €14.80 and in many a Michelin Star restaurant the world over.

The Michel Bailley Pouilly Fume – down from €19 to €15.30 – we had this last weekend and it drinking perfectly. High end Sauvignon from the Loire.

In Red, the some of the standouts include :

Twiggy - the famous Montepuliciano d’Abruzzo wine withe a piece of vine on the bottle – down from €17 to €14.45

The Cantina di Montalcino Sangiovese – Chianti without the price – down from €14.50 to €12.33

The famous New Zealand Muddy Water Pinot Noir- down from €28 to €23.80

This is all about while stocks last, so now is as good a time as any to stock up. Beat the recession pricing.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget Twitter Blind Tasting ( #twebt) on Sunday night at 9.
You can still buy your mystery bottle for €14.

Gary

Offer – Buy 6 get 1 Free – New Zealand Wines

May 27th, 2010

Red Nose Wine are launching a very special and innovative new style of weekly promotion.
We strive to have the wines at the best prices we can, so there really isn’t a whole lot left to discount.
What we can do however, is offer you free stock. So, we will offer a different type of offer every week.
We will bring specific countries, areas, grape varieties, and styles together and give you the chance to get free wine.

THE OFFER

 

Each week, there will be 3 Wines on Offer – of a shared theme.
Buy 6 get 1 free
You can mix and match the wines
You can choose all the one wine OR any mix of the 3 on offer each week.
You must choose a total of 6 in order to get the free one
It won’t suit you every week, but we’ll keep it fresh.

To start with – the 3 wines this week are :

New Zealand – A Taste of the Exotic

New Zealand Vineyard - Nelson

New Zealand Vineyard - Nelson

Tussock Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – Tropical, Delicious and Only €13
Greenhough Pinot Noir 2006 – Ripe black cherries & dark chocolate : Only €16
Waipara Springs Premo Dry Riesling – Fresh lemon zest & crisp green apples : Only €14.50

Buy 6 bottles : all of one, or any mix and get a 7th bottle free.

The details

Just order as normal online – pick a mix of the six online and tell us which one you want free
( if you get 12, you will get 2 free ).
Or you can pick your mix of 6 offer wines and any 6 other wines to make up a case.
The choice is yours.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Special Offer – Loire Valley Wines : FREE WINE

May 14th, 2010

Red Nose Wine are launching a very special and innovative new style of weekly promotion.
We strive to have the wines at the best prices we can, so there really isn’t a whole lot left to discount.
What we can do however, is offer you free stock. So, we will offer a different type of offer every week.
We will bring specific countries, areas, grape varieties, and styles together and give you the chance to get free wine.

Each week, there will be 3 Wines on Offer – of a shared theme.
Buy 6 get 1 free
You can mix and match the wines
You can choose all the one wine OR any mix of the 3 on offer each week.
You must choose a total of 6 in order to get the free one
It won’t suit you every week, but we’ll keep it fresh.

To start with – the 3 wines this week are :

The Loire Valley – Undervalued and underpriced

Loire Valley Vineyard and Chateau

Loire Valley Vineyard and Chateau

Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – the new vintage is proving very popular for this favourite. A bone dry wine : Only €13

Chateau de Coulaine Soleil Chinon – 100% organically grown Cabernet Franc – sweet cherries, cranberries with a slightly earthy/spicy finish : only €15

Domaine Merieau “La Rosée” – refuse the clichés and pick a Rose from the Loire – strawberries to the fore. : only €13

Buy 6 bottles : all of one, or any mix and get a 7th bottle free.

Just order as normal online – pick a mix of the six online and tell us which one you want free
( if you get 12, you will get 2 free ).
Or you can pick your mix of 6 offer wines and any 6 other wines to make up a case.
The choice is yours.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Past Articles – The weary wine merchants travels

May 3rd, 2010

Long before there was my blog, there were my articles in the paper. Seeing it is a bank holiday and I am feeling lazy, I will copy one of last summers articles ( or 2 ). I am also planning this summer’s big journey so nostalgia is setting in. However, it may be my age, but nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Anyway, these articles were posted from the road last June.

Greetings from the vineyards of Provence in the south of France. The sun is beating down on my white Irish brow, and the insects must know I am on a wine tasting trip. They sense either the alcohol or sweet fruits of the vine that are flowing through my sunburned veins. They have devoured me these last few days and one of my legs looks like an overworked bodybuilder, on a bad day. If only I could explain to them that I have been spitting all the wine on this trip.

I have a little gap in my itinerary and have time to grab lunch in Le Bistro de Lourmarin, which funnily enough is in a small village called Lourmarin. This is the village where Peter Mayle re-settled after having to sell his original Luberon house when his book, “A Year In Provence” became a worldwide hit. It made the Luberon very crowded and Mr. Mayle a tourist attraction. I was hoping to spot him having a quiet coffee, but it is not to be. After lunch I make the hazardous and extremely scenic mountain drive between Lourmarin and Bonnieux, which leads on to Roussillon, where Domaine de Tara can be found. Incidentally, Roussillon is where Samuel Beckett spent most of World War 2, having being exiled from Paris. He later complained that he found it too hot, and today I can understand why.

The very scenic village of Roussillon in the Luberon, Provence

The very scenic village of Roussillon in the Luberon, Provence

Those of you familiar with Red Nose Wine, may be aware of Tara and Michele Follea’s award winning wines, which we have imported since our first day in business. I am here to taste the latest vintage and fight over price. Poor Mr. Lenihan and his excise duty get yet another battering. The wines are Cotes de Ventoux and the reds are primarily made up of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. A cheaper version of Chateauneuf du Pape for all the world, and not as heavy, so you can drink them in the summer. The whites are delicate Rousanne based wines and offer a great alternative to those sick of Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The meeting/tasting goes well and I try once more to find out whether the domaine is named after Scarlett O Hara’s homestead or the big hill beside the motorway. It depends who is asking is the well worn line. Whatever the truth, it is amazing how Ireland permeates the wine culture of France.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine at Domaine de Tara

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine at Domaine de Tara

Tomorrow I am off to visit the great vineyard of the Languedoc, Mas de Daumas Gassac. Aimé Guibert’s wife Véronique is one of the preeminent scholars on Irish ethnology, and the family have a house in Bantry Bay. Their son, who now runs the business, went to school in Rockwell College. It is a small world. This is a family who redefined Languedoc wines on their own. The wine is referred to as the “Lafite of the Langeudoc” or the only Grand Cru wine from the region. They are no fools though, and have a range of wines from €8.99 all the way up the Grand Cru wine. They are also a joy to work with, as they show true understanding of the demands and realities of the Irish wine buying public. And in true French style (when you get to know them that is), they have also promised to give me a nice lunch among the vines tomorrow. Bon appétit.

With that in mind, I bid you farewell from Provence and the searing sun and hungry insects. All going well, I will return next week with news on many new and exciting wines I have found.

Part 2 of the Article – published the following week

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visiting Mas de Daumas Gassac

Continued greetings from the vineyards of Provence, Languedoc, Chateauneuf du Pape and Bandol in the south of France. The sun has been joined by an unseasonal mini Mistral wind that swirls above us, and hammers the fishing boats in the harbor against each other. Yet, with nature roaring, the insects prove more resilient than the boats and continue to feed on my weary legs. At least the driving has stopped, and with it the torturous spiting of all the great wines that I have been tasting. Samples fill the corners of the house I am renting, and my 2 year old daughter is beginning to call it Daddy’s shop. Even sadder, I will have to dump the majority of them before I leave.

After I left you last week, I spent a fantastic day with Samuel Guibert in Mas Daumas Gassac. The “Lafite of the Languedoc” certainly lives up to its name and it is truly a magical valley. After a very pleasant lunch in a nearby village, we drove through the valley on Samuels jeep (no car would survive 5 minutes). The vineyard is spread out over an amazing natural amphitheatre – flat, steep and everything in between – see the photo. Rather than raze the whole plot, they decided to keep the natural boundaries in place and what you get is small independent portions of vines scattered throughout the valley. When the family bought this land, it was farmed traditionally with the horse. No chemical fertilizers have ever been on this land (the horse did ALL the work), and this is an integral part of their philosophy. Bordering the valley is the famous forest that Sameul’s father, Aimé, so famously defended from the Californian wine giant, Robert Mondavi. For those of you who remember Falcon Crest, the Mondavi’s were supposedly the blueprint for the family in the TV series. However, this would be completely irrelevant if the Guibert’s were not making fantastic wine at all price points. Samuel has promised to come over to Red Nose Wine next year for a very special tasting / dinner. I can’t wait.

Louis XV of France was once asked the secret of his eternal youth and he replied, “the wines of Bandol”. Now Louis may have told the truth, as the Mourvèdre based wines are delicious, but he did not have to drive from Martigues to Bandol to taste them. Any map will tell you that it is motorway nearly all of the way, and it should take under an hour. Considering I have covered more than 1,500km this week, it is one of my shorter trips. What they don’t tell you is that a part of the motorway goes through central Marseille, and there is a tunnel section that makes Jack Lynch’s look like the gap under Laffensbridge near Killenaule. As I entered Marseille, the traffic got busier, and the lanes got narrower. However, when we entered the tunnel, already being bullied into doing the maximum 130km/hr, every car suddenly found another gear and I found myself in the middle of a scary computer game. I was getting flashed and beeped and people were jumping lanes in the dark. There are actually exits off of the tunnel and people suddenly realize they have missed theirs and just veer at huge speeds to make it. The rules of skiing apply it seems. It is the responsibility of the person behind not to hit the idiot in front. After surviving the tunnel, they then have the audacity to ask you to pay a toll of €2.70. Don’t pay the ferryman. You have no choice if you want off of the mad merry-go-round. I was dreaming of Laffensbridge by the time I finally got to Bandol and its picture postcard wine country. I am still not sure the general wine buying public will have the stomach for Bandol when it is young, or the patience to wait for it to age. I am undecided whether to import into Red Nose Wine. I did taste some great examples of the wine though. I may bring in a little of the Rosé and the Red and see what happens. Incidentally, I took the long way home via Aix en Provence.

I was trying to get under this city at speed

I was trying to get under this city at speed

The next article they let me publish will be from Ireland, and I will keep you updated on how the insect bites are adapting to the Irish weather. I know you care. More importantly, I will return to a more structured piece on wine. I just thought you might like the peak into the wine buying routes.

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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”