Browse Our Wines

Archive for 'Wine Articles'

Fathers Day Wines and Bloomsday rambling

June 16th, 2017

Its a long time since i wrote a blog. ( btw – you can skip half way down to get to the offers if you don’t want to indulge in the ramble ) I usually do the MailChimp shots with a photo or an offer or whatever else comes to mind on a Thursday evening or sometimes Friday morning. My radio ‘career’ on Tipp FM has taken me from the articles i used to like writing for The Nationalist. The odd piece for the Sunday Business Post aside, my inner James Joyce ( it is Bloomsday ) has been stifled. In the words of Freddy Mercury, “I want to break free”

Red or White?

One of the most popular gifts for Fathers Day is wine. It is a quick and easy fix and a lot of Dads really like wine. I know its a terrible and often untrue cliche that Men like Red and Women like White wine. I am a Dad and like wine. However, i do like Red, White and Rose, but its my job to, so maybe I’m not the best example. However, one thing is true. When people are buying wine as a gift for a man, 99 times out of 100 they will buy Red wine.

Buy me some Burgundy

While it is very nice to own a wine business, one draw back is that everyone is afraid to buy me wine. If they bought some cheap supermarket rubbish they would have good reason to fear my wrath, but nobody should ever be afraid to buy me a good bottle of Burgundy ( another subtle Bloomsday reference for all of you Joycean scholars ).


I’m partial to a good vintage of La Tache, but who isn’t. Alas, it never happens and I fear Fathers Day may pass me by once more, but it should not mean that the Fathers in your life should go without. With that in mind, i have 4 Red Wines to tempt you with. And I picked these wines with me in mind. 2 from France, 1 from New Zealand and 1 from Italy.

The Wine Offers are here


Domaine des Anges has long been a favourite of mine. I harbour dreams of cycling up Mount Ventoux some day and falling into the lovely pool in the vineyard afterwards. The Red is normally €17.99 but down to €14.99 to treat the Daddy in your life. Buy it here


I met the lovely Vicky at a wine show a few years ago and she makes equally lovely Fleurie – a perfect summer wine. You could even chill it a little if it gets too hot this weekend ( but don’t tell Vicky ). Normally €22 but down to €17.99 – Buy it here

New Zealand

If any of you bothered to google la Tache you will see it is a silly price, but we do have a lovely New Zealand Pinot called the Better Half and it is also a great little summer wine. Not too heavy and full of sweet strawberry and macerated cherry flavour. Yum. Normally €19.99 but down to €16.99 which is a great price for New Zealand Pinot ( especially in the current currency environment ). Buy it here


Last but by no mean least, we have something special. A magnum ( which means a double size bottle ) of Barolo. This is a wine for putting away and opening in 5,10 or 20 years. Maybe when the kids go to college. We are down to our last 6 in the shop, and when they go, they are gone. Normally €65 but all Daddys should own some Barolo so we are giving this away for €50 – Buy it here

Me looking smug in the vineyards of Barolo

Me looking smug in the vineyards of Barolo

Happy Bloomsday and Happy Fathers Day this Sunday to all the heroes out there ( I know the mothers are the heroes but just give us this one day ( and buy us some wine ).

By the way, i deliberately didn’t put on wines that are €12.99 down to €9.99 because we fathers deserve a treat. Don’t be insulting us with cheap wines :)

Life is much too short to drink bad wine

The Birth of Red Nose Wine … How it All Began

September 21st, 2016

Once upon a time, and engineer moved to France …

The birth of a wine business … the weeks the banks pulled down their shutters on the world economy, Red Nose Wine – the difficult child born out of 2 years living in France and an MBA on my return to Ireland. We are 8 years old… this is how it all began.

Meet Nicolas and Arnaud of Chateau Viranel

August 15th, 2014

The multi award winning Château Viranel

Nicolas & Arnaud BERGASSE-MILHÉ are two brothers who have taken over the family estate of Château Viranel. Where is this estate? It is in the heart of Languedoc, in Saint-Chinian. Here, in the south of France, on limestone terraced hills, the vines share the land and sun with the garrigue and olive trees. Their family vineyard consists of 40 hectares on which they use a system of sustainable agriculture in order to preserve the lasting quality of its soils.

The property has been in the family for nearly five centuries (since 1551), passed down from generation to generation. In the grounds of our property are the remains of a Gallo-Roman villa.

The Awards

Their list of awards is long but the big one is their award for the 2011 V for Viranel, which received 95/100 from Decanter but also 13th place in their Top 50 wines of the year ( that’s of all wines from all over the world ).

I’ve often waxed lyrical about terroir and wines that reflect the place where they come from, and the people who make them. These wines are a perfect example. This is how Nicolas & Arnaud describe why their wines taste like they do…

Four factors

– Our climate
- Our terroir
- The grapes we choose to grow
- Our skill in making our wines.

Our hot Mediterranean climate is tempered by the north wind – the Tramontane – from the mountains of the Cévennes. Cool nights help our grapes ripen gently, and the breezes dry up any moisture that might spoil them, so they are in the best possible shape when picked.

Our vineyards feature three main soil types:
• Rolled pebbles which help us make rounded, supple and fruity wines
• Limestone terraces which bring freshness, finesse and aromatic richness
• Sandstone which brings power, complexity and minerality

Finally, as winemakers, we use our know-how to work with the climate, the terroir and our vines in as natural and respectful a way as we can. Nature has given us this wonderful heritage, and we do our utmost to preserve and enhance it. That’s why we practise culture raisonnée, a balanced and sustainable approach to winegrowing. And in the winery, combining traditional winemaking with the most modern vinification methods enables us to achieve the best we can. It’s the combination of these four factors that gives wines from VIRANEL a real identity.

The Wines

The Chateau Range

Tradition Rouge St Chinian
Tradition Blanc St Chinian

The Wines made from the weird grape you haven’t heard of

Trilogie Rouge
Aromes Sauvages

The wine made for easy drinking with a blend of the two Cabernets

Rendez Vous

The top wine – the one that won the awards

V for Viranel

Here is a nice video we found online showing a tour of the vineyard and an explanation of where the different wines come from ( how’s your French ). We’ll hopefully visit soon and do our own version.

Introducing Mas de La Barben

May 21st, 2014

A range of new wines are arriving and we will do our best to introduce you to them all. First up is a tiny winery i found during my trip to ViniSud in Montpellier in February. We are always looking for quality wines that over deliver and this is most definitely one of these. A little gem outside of Nimes and I got the chance to call there on a recent trip.

Gary meets winemaker and owner Damien & Cathy of Mas de La Barben

Gary meets winemaker and owner Damien & Cathy of Mas de La Barben

They have a range that they call L’Improviste which has an absolutely fantastic Red, White & Rose and at a great price. These wine are all €13.99 but offer a taste of the south – the vineyard is where Provence meets the Languedoc.


Click on the links for each wine to see the tasting notes.

When you step up a gear, you get to the Lauzieres Range. The Red is a blend of Grenache and Syrah and is dark ruby in color and on the nose, has matured black fruits and morello cherries and spices. If this was a few miles up the road in Chateauneuf du Papes you would talking serious money but this is a steal at €17.99

The white is a real special occasion wine and has 10 months in oak. It is golden in color and has an inviting buttery nose. There are aromas of ripe white fruits. It has nice roundness on the palate with notes of caramel latte and white pepper.

If you really want to go all out then their multi award winning Sabines is a rare wine indeed. The vineyard have held back the wines until they are ready. This vintage is 2007 and is 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache with 24 months in oak. This fantastic wine has a rich, deep color. It has red and black fruits aromas, mixed with espresso and mocha notes, are followed by spicy, garrigue (laurel, rosemary) aromas and hints of menthol. Tiny amounts available but a steal at only €25

Call in soon as we will have these wines open for tasting – we think you are going to love them.

Article – Wine Aromas and Love

February 18th, 2011

I suppose there is only one thing to discuss this week – the candidates for the upcoming election. Only joking. I would not subject you to that, and I really wouldn’t know what to say. There is a lot I would like to say, but there is a Clonmel man who writes very well on the subject for the Sunday Business Post so we will leave it to Pat.

Hands up in you Hate this!

We will discuss love and all of its promises. Much like an expensive wine, sometimes it can promise much but deliver little. Oh cynical little me – blame it on the terrible film with the dancing Prime Minister, “Love Actually”. We’ll talk about the expensive bottles in this little comparison and let us forget about Hugh Grant and that lady who used to be in EastEnders.

In case you haven’t guessed, Valentine’s Day is the subject of this article and we will weave the beauty of wine through the mystery of love and see what kind of an omelette we can create. In case you are wondering I am not writing with a glass in hand. I just feel like waxing lyrical. Let us tarry not, yet progress to the romance and the grape.

20% Off Rose & Bubbly until end February

20% Off Rose & Bubbly until end February

Rosé – You know you want it

Rosé is an obvious choice for a tipple to share with the better half and of course sparkling Rosé is even more tempting. Samuel Johnson memorably quipped “The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne.”



All manner of terribly wonderful things happen under the influence of the bubbles.

However, we are still in winter ( regardless of what some might say about Spring ) and red is the colour of love and also of wine to drink by the fire. As we get a glimmer of hope that Spring might be coming, it’s the last of the choc ices and in this instance, the choc ices are big spicy Reds.

A little Pepper ?

Shiraz is great for a night in by the fire as it normally has a little pepper to it and is rich and warm and cosy. One should be cosy on Valentines night. I need to be careful what I write here as it is very easy to be inappropriate and I need to remember my audience. “Hello Mrs. Byrne”. “That’s not what I meant”. “I was talking about other people”. “I really was talking about wine”.

There has been research carried by Dr. Max Lake that the aromas of certain wines can spark arousal. This is very sensitive and powerful information and if I print it, Mrs. Byrne could be proven right. The theory is that certain wine aromas can replicate the scents of human pheromones (which signal attraction in the brain).

Do you want the theory behind it or a list of the wines? We live in a fast moving world and my gut tells me to list the wines, but the engineer in me really wants to tell you why. To quote Ferris Bueller “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Let’s look around for a minute.


My compromise is that I will give a one line explanation and then list some of the wines. “In general, Lake found that the earthy scents of red wines (like leathery, musky, etc.) come most close to resembling male pheromones. Female pheromones are best represented by the earthy side (sweaty, yeasty, doughy, etc.), in white and sparkling wines.” That wasn’t too painful now, was it?

Romantic Wines

According to my source, some wines to consider for your little romantic night could include Pinot Noir, Saint Julien Bordeaux (Cabernet blend), French Syrah or Italian Valpolicella style wines in Red. The whites recommended included an oaked Chardonnay and a New Zealand Riesling. The last wine suggested was a Rosé Champagne (what else would it be?). The full list, the wines themselves and the link to the article are available in Red Nose Wine.

One can of course be very obvious and share a bottle of Chateau Valentine, which I do believe is sold in Clonmel and online and is very reasonably priced. If you don’t stay in then enjoy the night out and remember my tips as you look over the wine list.

Peppa Pig and vomiting baby

You should always remember where this romance can lead and as I started this article late on a Wednesday I was interrupted by a vomiting 2 year old who then came down stairs and in between pukes, tried to get me to put Peppa Pig on the laptop. As much as I like Peppa, I really have seen every episode many times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I knew there was a good reason to buy all of that Champagne when I lived in France.


To all of the mortgage laden couples with small children. Enjoy the stolen kisses between Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly, and when the kids are asleep, open up that special bottle and sit back and enjoy Valentine’s Day. We deserve it more than most.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – How Old is Too Old?

February 4th, 2011

When I sit down to write the article, the final piece of the jigsaw is usually the title. I reread the article and try to pick a title that reflects the content but might get people intrigued enough to stop them going straight to Pat’s Food column. This week, the title came first and stems from an incident in Dublin last weekend.

A Birthday at Ely

I was doubling up business and pleasure last weekend in our nation’s capital and Sunday and Monday were about meetings and a New Zealand wine tasting event. Saturday was about my birthday and a good meal and a sublime bottle of wine. I spent a great evening in Ely Bar who have 550 bottles of wine on their list. I was on a wine trip with Anthony, the manager, last September and had promised to drop in. If you are looking for a great night out in Dublin with great food and wine, I can highly recommend Ely.

Anthony among the wines on Liberty Wines Italy Trip Sep 2010

Anthony among the wines on Liberty Wines Italy Trip Sep 2010

Famous Blue Raincoat

Recommendations aside, after a long night, myself and my wife were walking down a wet and windy Grafton Street at about 1.30 in the morning. I was wearing a coat I get frequent abuse over. It is a long raincoat that apparently makes me look much older than I am. All I know is that it keeps me dry.


As we walked down the cobbles, I heard two homeless men shout from behind me. “Look at yer wan with the auld fella. He’s old enough to be her Da”. While I realise the grey hair, need of a haircut and the overindulgence that night did not help my appearance, I took immediate offence. My wife on the other hand started to laugh and was reflecting in the glow of their compliment on how well she looked.

I gave them one of ‘These’

The correct thing to do would be to walk on, but I found myself stopping, turning and shouting back to the gentlemen of leisure, “Are you familiar with the Horse Outside video?”. They responded that they were, so in the spirit on that video, “I gave them one of ‘these’”. You’ll have to watch the video (over 18s only) to see what ‘These’ are. In fact, I gave them numerous ones and did a little jig as I delivered ‘them’. As I was in mid jig with fingers flying, it suddenly dawned on me that they could react.


They stared back in shock and I turned and did that walk that is nearly a run and got out of there very quickly. I am not condoning my reaction but you must understand the embarrassment after they questioned my age. It was my birthday after all. As I reflected on it the following morning, I thought up the title for this article. How old is too old?

I’m saving the Vin de Table for a special occasion

Of course I am talking about wine, and it is a question I get asked a lot. How long will a bottle of wine last? I remember finding a bottle of Spanish Table Wine in my parents’ house that was dated 1985 and they were ‘saving’ it. I can very safely predict that the bottle was undrinkable before the end of the eighties. I am sure that many a holidaymaker is harbouring similar treasures across the utility rooms of Ireland.

Like many of the truths in wine, it very often ( but not always ) comes down to money. If the wine is purchased for under 10 Euros, then you are looking at anything between 2 and 5 years maximum, but in many cases, the wine will be made for early drinking so try to enjoy it in that first 2 years if you can. The fruit will be to the front and will very often be the point of the wine. There may be nothing to wait for.

I’d love some Condrieu

Reds last longer than white. Is this fact or fiction? It is in fact fiction, and some of the great aging wines of the world are white (think German Riesling, Rhone Valley Condrieu). However, these wines are very expensive and the wines that most of us buy are meant to be consumed early. There is a startling statistic that the average time between wines being purchased in Ireland and opened is measured in hours, not days.

The things that will keep a wine alive are the quality of the fruit, the level of acidity and the balance in the wine. There is also the grape variety as some grapes are made to be aged and some are made to be drunk early. Cabernet Sauvignon from France can be quite tannic in its youth and will benefit from age, but Chilean Cabernet is much softer and often a little sweeter. This should be drunk young.

If you ever taste good Nebbiolo it will be terribly difficult in the first few years but with age it can become spectacular. However, I can remember nearly ever bottle of Barolo and Barbaresco that I sell so for the purpose of a wider audience, we will assume the wines we are talking about fit into the sub 12 Euros bracket.

Tick Tock … Tick Tock

There are still a lot of 2008 Whites drinking very well and some 2007 wines are holding their own. Anything older and you may really need to look at the country, the winemaker and more importantly the wine merchant. There are good bargains to be had sub 12 Euros from merchants making room and clearing 20 Euro bottles of 2005 and 2006 whites that are still drinking very well.

Beware wines of an older vintage that are not discounted because they may well have been meant to be drunk already. The southern hemisphere has its harvest early in the year, so a 2010 Australian wine is older than a 2010 Italian wine.

Wines that are past their best are not bad for you, but they don’t taste great. Wine has one ultimate destiny if it is not consumed and that is to become vinegar. That is a reality and I know many a person who got caught at the ferry ports of northern France with ‘bargain’ wines. If you pour it down the sink the price is irrelevant.

A 1920’s Wine

The Reds will hold a bit longer but unless it is at the higher end, I would start to ask questions on anything pre 2005, unless of course it has been discounted back in good faith. I was at a party a few weeks ago and the host had a bottle of 1962 Pomerol open. I can’t tell you I tasted it as I did not, but it smelt great. I have tasted 50 year old wines and another importer I do a bit of work with got a present of a wine from the 1920s which he opened on Christmas Day and by all accounts it was as fresh as a daisy.

old wine bottle

I hope the homeless men of Grafton Street are warm and safe and keeping their comments to themselves. While my hair is greying slightly, it is still very much intact and I’ll suffer a few grey hairs above losing them. I should really take their comment as a compliment for how young my wife looks. As Groucho Marx once said, “you are only as old as the woman you are feeling”. Of course she may not be talking to me after this article.


Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – A Soave kind of wine

October 29th, 2010

Bulls Blood

Last year around this time I wrote a piece on a Hungarian wine known as Bulls Blood. It was supposed to be a tip of the hat towards Halloween with the Blood reference. At some point I must have thought that I would consider bringing the wine into Ireland. Well that’s not going to happen anytime soon I am afraid. The market is not quite ready I think. We have a few more bottles of Merlot and Pinot Grigio to sell. It’s a shame as it is a really good hearty wine.

The Irish Times agree

I was interested to note in the weekend edition of the Irish Times that John Wilson covered the same ground as I did recently when breaking down the price of a bottle of wine. The only slight difference was that he has the final margin a little higher than I had. Maybe I need to put up the prices. Thunderbolts and Lightening, I think I am selling my wine too cheap. When this gets out we will need to install the crowd control grids again. All joking aside, I encourage you to look up Saturdays Times online and read about the pricing of wine in this country and how the government are talking such a huge cut. When the budget comes out, we may need to revisit it, so get your wine before Mr. Lenihan sucks the soul from the country.

I now banish this mention of the evil day to the toilet of inevitability. Instead, I will return to some of the characters I met on my recent trip to Italy. I deliberately took a little break from introducing them, as I was conscious of diluting what was a really educational and delicious trip to Italy. In some ways I am saving the best for last, as the remaining two winemaking families are iconic and have been for many years. Their very names evoke the heart of Italian white wine excellence.

The Hills of Soave

The Hills of Soave

Soave People

The Italian region of Soave got a bad name for a number of years as a change in Italian law expanded the region from its historical base in the hills around the medieval village of Soave. An historical and small area around a little village expanded into a huge area of commercial high yielding vines. So, now much like Burgundy, it is very important to know and trust the producer.

The KIngs of Soave

The KIngs of Soave

The very first bottle of wine to call itself Soave came from the Pieropan estate in the early 1930s. Founded by Leonildo Pieropan in 1890 and subsequently run by his two sons, Fausto and Gustavo, it was the youthful enthusiasm of his grandson Leonildo, known as Nino, that revolutionised it. Nino and Teresita run the company now and have been joined by their sons, Dario and Andrea.

Screwcaps and Classicos

Despite this link to tradition, they are pioneering screwcaps on classified Italian wines. They are determined that screwcap is the way forward and their Soave Classico wines reflect this. However, they were forced to reluctantly abandon the Classico denomination to achieve this. When you buy a bottle of Pieropan Soave you are actually getting a bottle of Soave Classico. Forget under cost rubbish wines, that is real value.

Jane Boyce MW listens beside the old bamboo drying Table

Jane Boyce MW listens beside the old bamboo drying Table

The mighty Oz is a fan

Oz Clarke ( who was in the first Superman film ) agrees and says “when the right grapes were grown in the right vineyards and turned into wine with skill and care, Soave was, and is, one of Italy’s loveliest white wines. This has a comehither scent of ripe apple and soft leather with just a whiff of tobacco and white peach. The flavour is subtle yet delightful: a tiny nip of grape skin tannin is easily disarmed by scented lemons and stones, a whisper of violet, a dash of creamy softness – succulence in pastel shades.” Flowery words indeed from Mr. Clarke, but good Soave is known as the Chablis of Italy and anyone who has tasted great Chablis will absolutely love this.

Darius Pieropan gives us the tour

Darius Pieropan gives us the tour

That restaraunt in Verona

A few people have asked me about the restaurant in Verona that I mentioned in a previous article. It is called Trattoria al Pompiere and has a website at If you are planning a trip to Verona, I would very much recommend this little piece of heaven. I can still taste the Amarone Risotto. It is a few steps from the Romeo and Juliet balcony, so if you need romantic inspiration, may I suggest a meal here followed by a squeeze under the balcony. If he or she is not butter in your arms at this point, you still have the ancient open air opera, which is about three minutes walk away. “Buona Fortuna”.

A good table in Verona

A good table in Verona

Food Extravaganza

There has been a huge uptake in tickets for the Food Extravaganza in the Clonmel Park on November 10th. Held in conjunction with Bord Bia, this promises to be a great evening. Jane Boyce MW will be on stage and matching wines to the food that Pat Whelan among others will be preparing. A lot of companies are using this as a team building night out and for 15 Euros it is great value. We want to show you what is on your doorstep and I think you will be amazed. Jamie Oliver and Richard Corrigan make TV shows about people like those in the Tipperary Food Producers. I urge you to come along and see what the term Taste the Difference really means.

A Very Tasty Wine Dinner

Red Nose Wine are starting to put final dates on our own more intimate wine evenings and we will be having an Irish winemaker in France over on November 24th. Ciaran Rooney of Domaine des Anges will host a wine dinner in Befanis restaraunt in Clonmel. They menu looks superb and I have never had a bad meal there. €45 for food and wine and a peek into the world of winemaking in Provence.

I am then planning on having an open house portfolio tasting on December 9th which will involve lots of wine open and little or no talking. I will pick the cream of the wines and open them up for a tapestry of wine. Be sure to get on the mailing list to get the information when it is hot off the press. Tickets will be limited. The competition for the Icon Wines from the Languedoc closes today, so if you are not Liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter – do it today. Winners will be announced on Facebook & Twitter.  

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Domaine des Anges Wine Dinner Nov 24th

October 27th, 2010

Christmas is coming and the goose will be a miserable looking effort after Brian Lenihan gets us in his radar for the Budget. So before all of that, Red Nose Wine makes a galant effort to bring a little continental flavour into your lives.

As you all know, the Irish travel well, and have made great success of themselves across the globe. We all have the relations who made good in America. To this day Irish names resonate across the wine world. Bordeaux in particular has Lynch, Kirwan, MacCarthy, Barton and Phelan stil commanding prices and respect across the world.

Another Irish Family done good

Another Irish Family done good

The latter day Wine Geese found themselves moving a little further south and one of the great modern Irish vineyards is based in a wonderful little part of Provence. It is called Domaine des Anges and Kilkennyman Gay McGuinness owns it and Dubliner Ciaran Rooney makes the wines, and they have been fantastically received all over the world. They have been very popular in Red Nose Wine since we started taking them in.

Ciaran Rooney

After that rather long winded introduction, what’s the point. I am delighted to announce that Red Nose Wine is having a wine dinner with winemaker Ciaran Rooney on Wednesday November 24th in Befanis Restaurant in Clonmel Co. Tipperary.



This promised to be a fantastic night where a menu of fresh in season food will be prepared to match the artisan and organic wines of Domaine des Anges.

Gary Gubbins climbes the hill above Domaine des Anges

Gary Gubbins climbes the hill above Domaine des Anges

For those of you not familiar with the vineyard, it is basically “over the hill” from Chateaneuf du Papes and its Reds reflect the style, especially in its entry level offering. I would suggest the Archange is more like a nothern Rhone in style and the high altitude definetly helps here, but its whites are where the real surprise occurs. Countless critics from Oz Clarke to Jancis Robinson and Tomas Clancy have raved about these wines. I haven’t even told you the best bit. They are fantastically priced and a real bargain from €12.50 up Retail.

Tickets can be purchased from Red Nose Wine or from Befanis, but places are limited and with all the food and wine included for only €45, this could sell out very quickly.

Article – La Dolce Vita a Allegrini

October 1st, 2010

Some more Risotto Sir?

What a week, what a trip, and what an obscene amount of risotto consumed over a short period of time. I am of course talking about my trip to Italy with Liberty Wines, the Italian importer I work with. They brought a handful of their favourite customers to the Veneto area of Italy. This strict selection criteria aside, I still managed to get invited, and I was very quick to respond in the affirmative. I was tempted to register a letter with this acceptance in case they suddenly realised they meant to invite someone else. Either way, I was delighted to go and meet some of the most iconic winemakers in Italy. Over the next few articles I intend to introduce some of these people, their wines, history and their status in the wonderful world of the vine. Our base for most of the trip was Verona, and the regions we visited included Valpolicella, Lugana, Alto Adige, Pressano, Soave and fabled Rosazzo hill within Friuli. I am hopeful that the importer will offer me, and by default you, the consumer, some incentive to showcase these wines. At the very least, you will have a chance to taste them in Red Nose Wine, but I am confident we’ll be able to wrangle an introductory price as well.

For everyone who is feeling a little bit nauseated by my joyous description of this freebie trip, before you run to the local supermarket for a case of industrial wine, you need to know a number of facts. We had to be in Dublin airport for 5.15 in the morning. We went straight to the vines and didn’t let up for the 3 days. The turnaround when we finally got back to the hotel in the afternoon was between 10 and 20 minutes. There were some serious choices to make in the short window. Would it be a shower, a shave or a quick look at the best that Italian TV has to offer? Tick tock, tick tock. The bus is leaving.


The 'Wine Gang' entering Palazzo della Torre

The 'Wine Gang' entering Palazzo della Torre


The first wines I would like to introduce are ones that already have a following in Red Nose Wine. For those of who you know them and for those of you who don’t, let me introduce The Allegrini family from Valpolicella. They have not one but two icon wines, and while I sell La Grola, I only got to taste La Poja for the first time on this visit. If you are going to taste a famous wine for the first time, then why not taste it beside the owner of the vineyard. In this case it was the charming Silvia Allegrini. I had met Silvia at a tasting in Dublin briefly, but it was great to visit the famous vines that make the famous wine.

Silivia Allegrini and her grapes

Silivia Allegrini and her grapes

Is Val Policella named after Val Doonican?

I think a little background into the type of wines we are talking about is called for. Basic Valpolicella is made primarily from the Corvina (but also Rondinella, and Molinara) grape and at its purest will be vibrant and taste of black cherries and have an innate freshness. They are round and supple wines that when done well are very approachable and enjoyable in their youth. Allegrini’s single vineyard wines are not technically part of the DOC, and embrace the freedom of IGT classification. This means that Palazzo della Torre and the iconic La Grola can do as they please and reflect the purest expressions of the vineyards. To go and visit the actual vines makes this statement so much easier to comprehend. As the group stood looking down on the vines from the top the hill after a very winding road, the darkness fell and the temperature dropped. We knew it was time to move this party to the restaurant, and a sleepy little village housed an unassuming eatery whose name escapes me now. You must remember I was up since 4am, having visited and tasted a number of vineyards and was now on my 9th course of food of the day and my 25th different wine. It was a wonder I was still alive. This restaurant’s name is known outside of this village however; as it is here that the River Cafe people (of London restaurant fame) learned how to make fresh pasta all those years ago. The best of the wines were paired with some fantastic food. Even though I was up at a ridiculous hour to catch the flight and was getting tired, it’s not a bad way to spend a Monday.

Dinner with Silvia in the restaraunt with no name

Dinner with Silvia in the restaraunt with no name

The pasta melted in the mouth - fresh as a daisy

The pasta melted in the mouth - fresh as a daisy

Do you dry your grapes?

The true superstar wines of the region are those known as Amarone della Valpolicella. This is a type of wine that many people claim to like, but are unwilling to buy. Also, the wines are made a little differently to normal red wine. As we were there the harvest was in full swing and the some of the grapes were picked. Rather than start fermentation now, the wines are placed on small plastic trays and huge fans are used to dry them in a big warehouse. This goes on until January and the sugars in the grapes are concentrated and a lot of the water is lost – the grapes become raison like. The wines are also aged for a number of years and when eventually released are high in alcohol (but very balanced when done right) and offer bitter sweet chocolate, raisin, dried fig flavours. Bottle aging can help these monsters of wines. Allegrini’s Amarone is regarded as one of the very best. Their other icon wine is a single vineyard Valpolicella known as La Poja. It is 100% Corvina and once again taken out of the DOC. This is an increasing trend among the very best winemakers in France and Italy. Rather than be restricted by ancient rules, they are relinquishing their appellation (or DOC) status and producing wines that they believe best reflect the land.  

The grapes are picked and dried until January

The grapes are picked and dried until January

A Tasting missed ( except by me )

For those of you who would like to taste these wines in the presence of Sylvia Allegrini, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that she is doing a tasting lunch in Ballymaloe House and a dinner in the Cliff House in Ardmore. You will get to hear her describe the wines and you will enjoy them with some top class food. She is passionate about her wines in that wonderful Italian way and you should not miss an opportunity like this. So what’s the bad news you are wondering? Well, by the time the paper comes out on Wednesday, she will be on a plane back to Italy. The tastings are planned for Tuesday September 28th. Don’t worry, if you call into me in Red Nose Wine I will tell you all about it and show you some photos and videos. Also, we will have a very special promotion on the wines. 15% OFF these wines for the week… Hurry up, the bus is leaving. Tick Tock Tick Tock

Allegrini lunchmenu at Ballymaloe House

Allegrini lunchmenu at Ballymaloe House

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Silvia Allegrini

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine and Silvia Allegrini

( There are much more photos available on Facebook and we will be posting video very soon )

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – The Social Media Harvest party

September 24th, 2010

Maggie May picks the grapes

“It’s late September and I really should be back in school”. So sang Rod Stewart in his little ditty about Maggie May. Wouldn’t it be nice if one could make a living out of playing pool? I must admit to being a little jealous of the people who are heading back to college now for another year of learning and a bit of fun on the side. Youth really is wasted on the young. Before I choke on another cliché I must confess to being in a panic. I am sitting in the shop on a Saturday and I am leaving for Italy early Monday morning. No recession here you are shouting, but I assure you that the recession is alive and well. However, it shall be put to one side for a few days, as I am delighted to say I am being brought away for a few days by one of the importers I work with. They are paying for everything, and all I have to do is be at the airport at 5.15 on Monday morning, which is a little obscene in my eyes. It’s not the early morning or the late of night. It is like a parallel universe where nobody is really awake. I can confidently predict I will be like a briar for the first few hours. Needless to say I will squeeze a few articles out this trip, and hopefully some nice pictures from the Venice/Verona area.


Talking it up

Before this I have a list of jobs to get through and the clock is ticking. One of those jobs is this article, so here we go. The harvest is currently in full swing across the vineyards of Europe and I am waiting on many a winemaker to get back to me on varying issues and orders. I don’t see them doing so until the hay is saved, so to speak. The harvest is the whole point of their year and as usual the whisperings of the potential crop is varying. Bordeaux are talking it up as normal, but they are alone as other parts of France are not so excited. The others don’t have a new and cash rich group of customers in China who are driving prices of the great Cru Classé wines even higher. The sad part is that many of these great wines are now out of the reach of most people and only a privileged few get to taste them. During the interviews for my MBA thesis, I had the great pleasure to meet and taste with the winemakers in Châteaux Palmer, Leoville Las Cases and possibly the most famous of them all, Chateau Margaux. These wines are phenomenal but I can’t even write down the prices for the good vintages, such is my fear of being ridiculed. If you are curious, go to, the online fine wine exchange to see the market prices for these classics and others. You have been warned – the prices are crazy.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine at Chateau Margaux

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine at Chateau Margaux

The vineyards communicate

I’ve written about the harvest in a previous article so I won’t repeat myself, but will talk about it from a different point of view. The social media world ( Facebook, Twitter)  that I have embraced so warmly lets us look into the fields and the Vignerons at work. Many of the vineyards that I work with are posting photos and updates from the ongoing harvest. Chateau Paradis in Provence have decided to delay the harvest until September 19th, their latest ever start. Basile Guibert from Mas de Daumas Gassac has posted lots of photos from the vines and regular updates on progress. These are just a handful of the vineyards posting their progress back as it happens. I only hope that they continue this into the final evening’s harvest party where many a row of vines has known to be visited by a courting couple at 2 in the morning. They feel no rocks beneath them and do not realise that the bare vines hold no cover from the prying eyes of the other workers. Ah, the stories that they tell me on my visits. By all accounts, many a long distance relationship was forged over the backbreaking work that is a harvest. Other people give false addresses and disappear from the romantic setting of a harvest, never to be seen again. A winemaker will give you all the gossip if you order enough wine.

romantic vineyards

It tends to be migrant workers who return each year from different parts of the world and the same people in general return every year to the same vineyard. If any of you would like to partake in a harvest, please let me know and I can try and arrange a job in the sticky hot vines for next year. The pay is terrible, the work backbreaking but the harvest party is supposed to be great. The harvest will be in full flow for my trip to Italy, but I might be too early for the party. I am willing to offer useless advice from the comfort of the tasting room, but I have no intention of using my back. It’s already in a bad way from lifting cases of wine. So, with this in mind, I have a few more jobs to get through before I can head off to Dublin and a flight to Venice. I hope to report back with lots of stories next week. Ciao for now.

The Tipperary Food Producers are organizing a Food Extravaganza on November 10th in the Clonmel Park Hotel. We hope to get one of our winemakers over to talk about wine and food, so keep that date in your head. It could be a great night out with lots of food and wine and interesting conversation.

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”