Browse Our Wines

Archive for 'Bosquet des Papes'

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.

BYOB – Etiquette Debate

May 22nd, 2010

A BlogPost that asks the hard questions about BYOB wine etiquette.
When you go to a house party, it is customary to bring a bottle of wine; in fact it may even be requested on the invitation. As a wine merchant, I think that is a great idea. However, this can lead to a delicate issue rearing its unsocial head. What I refer to is the social acceptance ( or not ), of bringing a bottle for the house and a bottle for yourself. I like wine, and have developed a taste for a certain quality of wine over the years. I know there are certain wines that I can drink without food that will have no ill effects the next morning. So, when I go to a party I bring one of each, a bottle to be placed on the table for the masses to attack, but also, a bottle for myself.


This is the bottle which I and I alone get to drink. In the same way someone else might bring a six pack of Corona, because that is their tipple of choice, I like to bring a nice Provence or Rhone Valley Red. However, this seems to mortify my wife who says I should drink whatever is open instead of opening my own one and getting stuck in.

Why should I pretend to drink a wine that will, for the most part, be undrinkable? To the eternal despair of the independent wine merchant, the modern household tends to buy all its weekly needs in foreign owned supermarkets and proceed to drop the wine into the trolley along with the ham, cheese and tomatoes. There is usually an offer to get you shopping and as the independent wine merchants source the world for true value, it is the discounted rubbish that finds its way into many a household. I wouldn’t mind if they bought something bloody decent from the supermarket. At least people are too embarrassed to ask me my opinion on their great wine find. As Doc Holliday said to Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, “My hypocrisy goes only so far”. Indeed Sir.

A number of very near misses with the old fashioned wing style corkscrews ( which are useless ) has led me to recently start bringing my own corkscrew. I haven’t yet reverted to bringing my own glass, but have not ruled it out either. So, I ask you, am I being unreasonable and do I need to take yet another long hard look at myself? All comments and opinions welcome.

“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.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog 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 – Old Age and Dodgy Corks

February 22nd, 2010

The anticipation when opening a very special bottle of wine is much like the anticipation with anything you are looking forward to. The only difference in the case of a bottle that you have been saving is the time involved can vary from months to years. Seeing as it was Valentine’s Day this weekend, I opened a bottle I had bought a number of years ago in France. It is from a tiny little appellation in the south of France and is quite different to much of what is on the market. I don’t sell it, so of course its name is not important, but suffice to say, I was looking forward to getting the cork out. The dinner was on, and I opened the wine to give it the time it needs to loosen up the tight fruit. I had a little taste, as I find it hard to resist, but it didn’t taste great. I thought maybe it was tight, so I gave it more time, but after an hour, it still was a little off. To be honest, I may not have noticed this a few years back, but the wine was slightly corked. The fruit, which is what makes this particular wine famous, was faded and while the wine was drinkable, it was not enjoyable. I had opened another bottle of the same wine about a year ago, and it sung like a great wine should. I had kept this wine under perfect conditions, but it just goes to show you can never be certain. It must be cruel for an unknown winemaker to go through the process of getting their wines in front of critics only for their wine to be listed in the “corked” section of the review.

So what should a corked wine taste or smell like? Think of cleaning out your garage and you find a bunch of old newspapers that you used to mop up some liquid spill at some stage in the past. That wet, damp smell is the closest you will get to a corked wine smell. The natural aromas of the wine (all of those wonderful descriptions that you read in the tasting notes – meadows of wild strawberries, hints of meandering black forest fruits) are dramatically reduced and in some cases, decimated. You can technically drink tainted wine, but it won’t taste great and in many cases is just undrinkable. However, a large majority of wines that are corked (albeit slightly) go undetected by the average consumer. It takes a bit of practise to judge a slightly corked bottle. The flip side of this is that there are other wines that are old and their flavours change over time towards a more raison like experience, and sometimes people mistake this for the wine being “a little off”. This is not true, as mature wine is supposed the change and people have returned fantastic old Bordeaux wines that are perfect. To be fair, the market is driven by wines that are not yet mature and very few merchants can afford to hold young wines that need time before selling. The big tight wines that are so often sold too young are slowly becoming the norm and it is a shame as wine with age really does offer something very different. Of course, young Chilean Merlot is intended to be drunk while young. Ageing will not improve this wine.

I sell a 1995 version of our award winning 5 star Chateauneuf du Pape producer, Nicolas Boiron’s wine and to compare it against the 2005 is really interesting. The same vines and the same grapes produce the same wines in two great vintages and they taste completely different. Which is nicer or better you may ask, and of course there is only one answer – Whichever one you prefer. That’s both my Enda Kenny answer and my George Lee answer. If I am to be honest, it took me a while to ‘get’ older wines and the added dimension that a good one can offer. I have seen the look of friend’s faces when I opened an old bottle at dinner and they were forcing out the compliments. The alcohol integrates into the fruit, so you often don’t get that big kick often associated with modern wines. Some people do get it immediately as there is a lot happening there, but if I can offer any small bit of advice, it is to slowly start collecting a bottle a week or a month that is for “laying down”. Life moves pretty fast the older you get, and in no time, the relatively cheap 2007 Chateauneuf du Papes will be 10 years old and coming into their own. I have wines ready to drink with age, but you will pay for them. Wines that might have cost 10 or 15 Euros ten years ago are now trading for 40 or 70 Euros. The secret is to buy from a good vintage. I can always help you with that.

Another misconception that is out there is this. If you break the cork on opening the bottle, do not panic. This just means you made a mess of opening the bottles or probably used one of those terrible winged openers. The wine should still be perfect, and just pick out the bits of cork and enjoy. Going forward, I would suggest that you get yourself a proper double hinged “waiter” style cork and your troubles “should” be over. I sell top quality ones for 5.50 and I’ll even show you how to use it. Inserting the corkscrew at an angle is key. If you buy a nice case of wine, I might even throw in the corkscrew and the lesson for free.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog 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”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Feb 18 2010

Article – The Supermodel and the Parisian Toilet

February 12th, 2010

Last week the story left off after a very successful trip to the Milliseme Bio organic wine show in Montpellier. Good contacts were made and as I write there are samples ferrying their way across France for re-tasting. The trick is to leave them settle for a week or so after their journey. Wines don’t like to move and when they do, it is best to give them a little rest after the trip. If you ever open up a bottle of wine straight from the holiday suitcase, and it tasted a little tight, it will probably be the fault of the journey. I usually let any regulars who are in shop when I am tasting the wines take them away afterwards. My generosity knows no bounds. Giving away free samples after I have opened and tasted them. How will the multinationals compete? They are running for cover as they read this and the imaginary queues are leaving the supermarkets and forming at Red Nose Wine. I want to tell you two little stories this week, one which is wine related and the other is about this celebrity culture that we cannot escape. It is not about a Chelsea footballer.

After the show in Montpellier I was very hungry and I dined at Les Bains de Montpellier, a fantastic restaurant that is situated behind the opera in the famous Place de la Comedie. It was recommended by a number of wine makers, so I knew that the wine list would be good at the very least. It was, and when you have a list that is based around the food, you know you are in for a treat. I had fish the night before and was craving a steak, medium rare with a rich local wine to wash it down with. The matching of food and wine is often overplayed, and a good rule is to keep it simple. I had the sauce on the side, and let the wine flavour the meat, and vice versa. The wine was a top notch Cotes de Roussillon wine that cost €25 and was sublime. The proteins in the steak complimented the wine and I only went near the delicious sauce with the bread after the steak was demolished. I won’t go on about the value, even in the upmarket restaurants, that exists in France and the continent in general. As so many Irish restaurants are struggling at the moment, I don’t think it is fair to comment on the prices they are often forced to charge. But what I do lament is this constant instance to bring in inappropriate wines for the foods that they serve. They choose based on price and quality rarely comes into it. Even the expensive wines that they have don’t suit the menus. There are of course exceptions to this rule all over the country but what is the point in having a big strong Amarone in a fish restaurant? Why don’t more Oriental restaurants offer white wines like Riesling, where the sugar cools down and integrates with the spices? Why don’t we see more affordable Pinot Noir’s on the menus, as they go great with Chicken, which seems to have replaced potatoes as the staple of choice for the Irish people. I understand why people like Chilean Merlot and Italian Pinot Grigio, and I sell lots of them, but sit down with your wine supplier and by all means buy on price, but think of your customers and your food when making the choices. All that will happen is that the market will dictate a very narrow view on which wines are imported and we will go back to the old days. There are a few independent wine importers like myself who are bringing in something different. While the public are definitely open to the choice, the hotels and restaurants are proving harder to infiltrate. We need the public to demand something more from them, but they need to support them by eating out as well. Staying in is the new going out but we all need to get out of the house. The bad weather over the Christmas resulted in a lot of cabin fever in my house anyway.

After this great meal in Montpellier I managed to eat a very dodgy sandwich on the TGV the next day. If you add to this, that the seat was facing the wrong way for the 3 ½ hour journey to Paris, I was very queasy by the time we rolled into Gare de Lyon in central Paris. After checking into the hotel I went for a short stroll around my old haunting ground of the 5th and 6th arrondissements. I was passing Odeon and fell into a crowded entrance where there were loads of paparazzi and a string of limos and fancy taxis pulling up. I stopped to look and it turns out if was Paris Fashion week and there was a party on here for Jean Paul Gautier. It was funny to watch the people who stepped out of the cars looking for the paparazzi and the quick look and even quicker rejection by the paps, when they realised the mutton dressed up as lamb was not worth a photo. I was about to leave when the paps suddenly went bananas and attacked a car where a 7ft skinny blonde model appeared. I recognised her, but could not be sure who she is exactly. Its a few years since I followed the fashion model scene. I did manage to capture the Odeon fashion scene on video ( I have a small camera for the live blogs from the shows ). If you want to have a look and see if you can identify the model, log on to and hazard a guess. I just missed Dita Von Teese and Kate Moss but my sandwich was starting to do its work, and I had to rush back to the smallest hotel room in Paris. I was due to eat in an old haunt and meet up with some people to watch the Manchester United match. My stomach informed that all bets were off and without going into too much of the graphic detail; I spent the next 12 hours going from the bed to the bathroom. I crawled out of bed in the morning and took a taxi to the airport and finally came back to Cork, and on to Clonmel.

Don’t forget St. Valentine’s Day next Sunday. You can surprise your loved one with a €12 bottle of Chateau Valentine ( a lovely Bordeaux Red from the great 2005 vintage ) which we will be promoting and tasting this week. We also have some lovely gift packs which hold a bottle of bubbly and 2 champagne flutes. What could be more romantic? Congratulations to the owners of the local horse that won at 18-1 in Leopardstown last weekend. For once, I did get the tip and had money on. There was also some great news for one of my favourite producers this week as Nicolas Boiron of Bosquet des Papes in Chateauneuf du Papes won the 5 star Decanter awards for the 2007 vintage with his very special cuvee Chante Le Merle. A lot of my regulars know his wines as the Cotes du Rhone and his traditional Chateauneuf are very popular. I often get people into the shop who love to tell me about the amazing price they paid for a Chateauneuf that they bought somewhere else. Considering the time and oak involved in making a traditional one, I always suggest that they taste the difference. There is just no comparison of flavour, length and power. Now, some people don’t like a wine so complicated, so the light weight Chateauneuf might suit their palate more. That’s fine and a matter of taste, but if that is the case, then they should try a Cotes du Rhone, or something made for their style. One thing that should always be the case for a wine be it an €8.50 Pinot Grigio or a €24 Chateauneuf is that the fruit, alcohol and acidity must be in balance. That is very often the problem with large scale commodity wines and why the cheaper wines from the serious winemakers ( like Nicolas ) are often the very best value.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog 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”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Feb 11 2010

5 Star Decanter Award – Bosquet des Papes

February 6th, 2010

The wonderful Bosquet des Papes in Chateauneuf du Papes were just awarded the 5 star award from the very influential Decanter wine magazine. It was for their 2007 Chante Le Merle.

Decanter Award Bosquet Chante 2007

This was a vintage that has been hailed since it was harvested, but Decanter’s group of experts including Margaret Rand and Steven Spurrier, were not overly impressed and felt only a few stars really shone, relative to what was expected. Among them was Bosquet des Papes. Customers have been enjoying the 2000 and the 2005 Chante Le Merle for a while now. I still have the 2007 in bond, and haven’t even had it in the shop as I think it is too soon to drink it. Since the award this week, I have already had an order for case from a customer, so my advice to all its fans, get it when it is going – i don’t have huge stocks. My daughter was born on 2007, and her name is on one of the cases in bond.

I am delighted for Nicolas Boiron as he is a gentleman and i first met him and his wines about 8 years ago when i lived in Paris. I was introduced to him by a Danish friend that I played on the same football team with. The multicultural Paris Gaels. We were just knocked out of the French Cup ( very preliminary stages ), and we went to the big wine fair in Porte de Versailles to drown our sorrows. I ended up buying about 6 cases of different vintages ( as well as countless other Burgundy’s and Bordeaux wines ). A very expensive match. Anyway, I had a great day last summer with Nicholas in his domaine and his cellar has wines going back through the many generations that his family has owned the land.

Bosquet des Papes Tasting selection

Gary Gubbins and Nicolas Boiron at Bosquet des Papes

His other wines, including the very affordable Tradition blends and the magical La Folie also fared very well with 3 stars. One of my best selling wines is his 2007 Cotes du Rhone which leans much more towards a CDP than a CDR. I now need to get more of these wines back in before he sells out. To the batphone !!!!