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Icons of the World Stand Up

December 18th, 2009

It’s that time of year when we reflect on what’s gone before and we look forward to what’s on the way. Considering what has passed, may I quote the great Bob Dylan, “Let me forget about today until tomorrow”. Any by tomorrow I mean many years from now. Onwards and upwards and all of that type of positive sentiment. During the heady days of my youth when I was not as ‘sophisticated’ and insensitive to criticism as I am now, I used to read a little bit. Once I got used to the language I really enjoyed Shakespeare. I found it all very relevant to the modern world and that is probably why it is held up so high in literature. To quote the hip kids of the street, he was down with it. By writing this last sentence I have condemned myself to never having being in anyway hip. Well I don’t care and never have, so that probably makes me hip in a different sort of way – what do the hip kids think? Are they reading this article, do they read the blog or do they follow me on twitter? Maybe I am needy after all. Anyway, there is a famous speech in Henry V where the good king rallies the troops as they face almost certain death on the battlefield. His cousin Westmoreland had a moan about the situation and Henry launched into speech which by its end had made you feel sorry for anyone who wasn’t about to die in this battle. They would not have this chance at immortality. “We happy few, we band of brothers.. on St Crispin’s Day”… Some retailers might feel that this year has been one long St. Crispin’s Day, so that is why I suggest we look forward, not back. With that in mind, I will leave the best of the year lists to the papers and magazines. I will talk about wine, and in particular – very expensive iconic wines that most of us can never expect to taste, at least not this year. But once St. Crispin’s Day has passed and until that day shall come, I will give you an alternative that is affordable.

First up, the famous Chateau Pétrus. This is a wine from the right bank of Bordeaux and in particular the village of Pomerol. Considering all the bad press that Merlot gets, it is strange that one of the worlds most sought after wines is predominately Merlot. It is only 11 hectares in size and produces on average 2,500 cases per vintage. The wine has many fans, and sells for huge money. The current price in London for a bottle of 2005 is 2,800 sterling. I have held it in my hand but never tasted it. I have tasted its next door neighbours and hold a very good 2005 Pomerol from just down the road in the shop that sells for 26 euros. Alternatively, I have a very good Lalande de Pomerol for 19 that gives you the idea without the pricing. However, if you get invited to a party and they are serving Pétrus, don’t miss the chance.

Next up is Burgundy’s famous Pinot Noir, Romanee Conti – I covered this in a previous article but suffice to say, this is the one I want the most in my collection. I have a 1er Cru Nuits St Georges for 55 euros that gives you an idea of what to expect. This will be my Christmas dinner wine.

From Chateauneuf du Papes there is the famous Au Vieux Telegraphe or the new icon Clos du Papes. I have tasted these and even own a few bottles. Clos du Papes is owned by the Avril family who’s daughter is married to Bill Kelly of Kelly’s in Rosslare. For such an iconic wine, it is very reasonably priced. You can pick it up for about 55 to 60 euros a bottle. A very nice alternative is Bosquet des Papes which I sell on offer for Christmas for 24. Both are the traditional style wines and typical of the real authentic wines of centuries gone by.

Italian wines are less well known for iconic wines and vineyards, but more for iconic wine types and chief among them are Brunello di Montalcino, Amarone della Valpolicella and Barolo. These are very different wines from Tuscany, Veneto and Piedmont respectively. What they all share is a necessity for food and age if possible. At our recent Italian tasting, we had a huge response to the Amarone and it was easy to see why it won the Decanter World Wine Award Gold Medal, as did the Barolo. There are countless other icons from around the world and to list them all would be a book – in fact, many such books exist. I have a few of them in the shop if you want a peek.

The good news is that we are taking the excise duty off all wines immediately, even though the wines cleared customs at the top rate. Our little Christmas gift to you, and also, in the run up to Christmas we are open 7 days a week and will be opening many of the wines I have just mentioned. Come in and taste the difference. Thanks to everyone for reading the articles all year and especially for those of you who called in and ‘tasted the difference’. Remember, we deliver nationwide, so don’t get caught without good wine this Christmas. Log in or call in – you are more than welcome.

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 Dec 17 2009

Good Food and Wine and how to match them

December 10th, 2009

A great time was had last night in the Clonmel Park Hotel where a cookery demonstration was held by James Whelan Butchers and Jenny Flynn of The Sweetest Thing. Red Nose Wine were on hand to match the foods to wine. It was no surprise that Christmas dinner was on the agenda. Of course with this in mind, i pushed the boat out with the wines. Everyone was greeted with a glasss of Domaine des Anges Red and White on arrival and the chattering amongst the crowd intenstified as Jenny and Pat and their team got everything in place. I poured the wine as quickly as I could, but I had to go to back to the van quicker than I anticipated. The ladies ( for there was not one man in the audience ) were out for a good night and that is what they got. Jenny and Alaister ( one of Pat’s senior butchers ) chopped and prep’d their way through a feast. In between courses I would jump up and try and control the crowd with talk of the best wines for turkey and ham and then duck. We opened Vincent Chidaine’s magnificant Vouvray and it went down a treat. This wine is full bodied for a white and offers a good match for a white drinker who is taking on all of the turkey trimmings. We then brought out GreenHough New Zealand Pinot Noir. I was considering bringing a Premier Cru Burgundy, but it’s hard to go back once you have tasted it. No need to be cruel. Turkey is difficult because it has light and dark meat and the meat can be earthy & dry so needs a wine with lots of flavour. Pinot Noire also matches well to the gravy especially if you use giblets for more flavour, which Jenny did ( I think ).
For the gamier food I decanted some Chateauneuf du Pape and it needed the 2 hours open. It was worth the wait though as all who tasted it were enchanted. This is a real example of traditional CDP and I told them all about my greatest ever meal. It was in a small family resteraunt in the village of Chateauneuf du Pape and I had wild duck with a bottle of CDP. I can still taste both. Anyway, back to reality and the basic points about matching the right wine with your foods are :

Match the weight & texture of the food to the weight & texture of the wine, such as Sole with a light wine like Pinot Grigio but Salmon could take on a more full bodied Chardonnay.

Balance the intensity of flavors in the food and wine – plain turkey requires a very different wine to turkey with all the trimmings

Balance Tastes – Salty and sour will make a wine taste milder, but Sweet & savoury will make a wine taste stronger. e.g. Beef tames a wine’s tannin, but chocolate brings it out

Match flavours – Roast duck with plum sauce like red wines with plum flavours

Counterpoint flavours – The opposite to matching flavours can also be true. Spicy oriental dish should not be matched with a high alchol red as the heat in the dish ignites the alchol in the wine. A low alchol wine is better, and a Riesling will frame and tame the spicy flavours. The added sugar will also help cool down the dish.

Alaister getting ready

Alaister getting ready

Red Nose News – December 4th 2009

December 4th, 2009

Hello Wine Lovers

December is here and we are all allowed to spend our money on good wines regardless of the price :)
And then I awoke from the dream, and the recession was still upon us – agghhhh!!!!!!!!

Anyway, less rambling and more news… of which I have lots.

Last Saturday John Wilson of the Irish Times gave us a plug – our Italian Wine Tasting next Thursday to be precise. Great news indeed…. Interest has been great but there are still tickets available. First come first served.

I am recommending wines at different levels, and here we go :

Under €10

Sensi Pinot Grigio @ €8.50 / bottle

€10 – €15

€12.50 –> Albaran : 40 % Cabernet Sauvignon , 25% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah and 10% Alicante. 30 year old vines.


€15.50 @ La Source Vignelaure Red : 2nd wine of Chateau Vignelaure

over €20

On offer for ONLY €24 @ Bosquet des Papes “Tradition” Chateauneuf de Pape 2006

There are new wines on the special offer page of the website – valid in the shop as well of course

We have a great selection of corporate gifts available – call in for a brochure or click online to get it as well.

If you know any business’s that are doing corporate gifts and want maximum impact for minimum price – please keep us in mind.

We are also doing a tasting along with Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers in the Clonmel Park on Wednesday night as part of a cookery demo.

On Tuesday, I will be under the arches of the Clonmel Main Guard for the Clonmel Chamber / Tipperary Food Producers Network Christmas market.

And last but not least – the winner of the €250 case of wine from the New Zealand tasting is Kevin McAdoo – congratulations to Kevin.

Don’t forget – the next tasting is next Thursday – Italian Wine !!!!


The Latest Article – “Baboons like Pinot”

November 26th, 2009

Depression has overtaken me this week and after the robbery in Paris, I am finding it very difficult to find any joy in sport, so I must find it in wine. We had a very well attended tasting last week in the middle of the floods. I was amazed at the turnout considering the conditions. Nuala’s café in Hickey’s Bakery proved a fantastic venue where Nuala, Paddy and Helen put on a great spread with some help from Paul Smith earlier in the day. A huge thank you to all of them. The great food really complimented the wines. Joyce Austin, who was over from New Zealand wants me to convince Nuala to sell wine by the glass, as she thought the place was an absolute gem. Negotiations will begin in earnest next week. I was personally delighted that the tasting was not a French one, as it could have proved a hard sell with the week that was in it. It now looks like I won’t fashion a wine trip to South Africa next summer, so based on my last trip there a few years ago I will tell you all about the history of its wines. Not that any of us really care about South Africa anymore. Thierry, you broke the heart of a nation.

Historically, a large part of the wine trade in South Africa was controlled and oppressed by a national cooperative called the KWV and they had universal prices and quality simply was not an issue. The 1970s changed all of this and the winemakers were free to do what they wanted. The end of Apartheid in 1994 offered them a world market, and their popularity has been steadily growing since. The Mediterranean style climate paired with the cooling Benguela current from Antarctica offer fantastic conditions. The Cape Doctor wind sweeps through the mountains and blows the fungi away, much like the Mistral does in the Rhone Valley. A problem the French winemakers don’t have are with monkeys, or as Inspector Jacques Clouseau would say, “minkeys”. Baboons love the delicate Pinot Noir grapes, and electric fences must be used to protect them. Baboons it would seem have good taste, and have a definite preference for this noble grape. The other grapes that are grown in South Africa include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Merlot, Shiraz and Zinfandel. There is also a particular hybrid that was created by a Dr. Perold when he crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsault in 1926. We know it as Pinotage. On the white front, we have Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc.

In terms of areas of production, the main player is the Cape, which can be broken down into Constantia, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Tulbagh. An interesting fact (or not), about Constantia is that its desert wine was recommended in Jane Austin’s “Sense and Sensibility”. The area we would all be familiar with would be Stellenbosch, and the famous Waterford Estate is well known to Red Nose Wine customers. The Deise have their own wine it would seem. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the blockbusters here. The granite based soil offers quality reds that mirror Bordeaux and the sandstone to the west offer fine whites. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are the stars in this regard. South Africa has a huge diversity of choice but is really still playing catch up on the world market. After the World Cup, they might move to the next level, unless there is another travesty of justice of course. 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”

Wine Photos 234


Live from Provence – Chateau Margui

November 23rd, 2009


Greetings from the sunny south of France. I could take no more of the rain, so i decided to jump on a plane and visit some of my suppliers. Today I met with the every hospitable Philippe Guillanton of Chateau Margui. His wines are growing in status all over France and beyond. He sells out of the wines every year and is on restaurant lists in the best tables in France. After the visit today, we went to eat at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant , Hostelliere de L’Abbaye in the village of La Celle, just outside Brignoles in Provence. What a treat, and while the cough i am carrying didn’t allow me to savour the food and wine as I might, such was its flavour, it traversed my ailment. i am blaming the plane and the dry air in the hotel for the cough. There has been a lot more work done to Margui since my last visit in May 2008, and the wines are evolving as well. As with many parts of France, the 2009 vendage was a huge success and they are expecting great things. The 2007 Red just arrived into bond and will be on the shelves next week.
As you can see, it is a beautiful place.

Philippe at the main door of the house
Gary Gubbins wondering if it is still raining back in Ireland

Another view

Another view

A short video tour with Philippe and wind blowing in the background.

Professional version

Provence – the next big thing

November 4th, 2009

There is always the next big thing in every walk of life… music, cars, food and especially wine. These days the race seems to be to the bottom, especially in terms of price. It is getting very hard to get an interesting bottle of wine in a restaurant. House wines are all the rage these days of course, but what you get for your money is very questionable. One option might be for the proprietors to move from their classic choices. A Brave new world… well why not Provence.

They are making some really super wines now, and not just Rose. The reds are spicy and full of life and the whites can be both delicate and full bodied. Having lived in that part of France, I got to taste quiet a few and since buying them for Red Nose Wine, I get to visit and taste again. It’s a hard knock life.

Among the most interesting i have come across is Chateau Margui, made by Marie-Christine and Philippe Guillanton. They make Red, Rose and a fascinating white. They bought a derelict old house and vineyard and are making organic wines that are now on the restaurants of many a Michelin star chef, including Alain Ducasse, with his 3 star Cafe du Paris in Monte Carlo. The reds are Syrah and Cabernet and are full of upfront fruit. The nose promises much and the palate delivers even more. Huge coverage all over France.

Philippe and myself outside Margui

Philippe and myself outside Margui

Among the other wines that we have come across are Chateau Paradis which Robert Parker absolutely adores.
Then there is the Irish connection wines, including Domaine des Anges and up to recently, David O Brien’s Vignelaure. Domaine de Tara has an Irish name at least and a huge following in the Luberon, and growing.

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”