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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 )

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – Italy, you really have a lot of wine

May 27th, 2010

Now and again the wine world and the political world collide, and politics being politics and collisions inevitable, this can mean one can find oneself treated to a wonderful all expenses paid event. One such collision took place in Cork last week, at the very comfortable Clarion Hotel. The Italian Trade Commission are trying to increase awareness of Italian Wine in Ireland, and with the help of Jean Smullen, a well known organiser of marquee wine trade events, they organised a tutored tasting. What is a tutored tasting as opposed to a regular tasting I hear you ask? A fine question, that someone somewhere surely has asked.

A Tasting vs A Tutored Tasting

A regular tasting involves tables full of wine, where everyone supposedly follows a very regimental anticlockwise routine, where we walk around a large hall talking to the importer or the winemakers, while supping and spitting. The true professionals make two trips, the first taking in the whites and the second the reds. I have not always been the true professional in this regard, and I would not suggest tasting a delicate Soave after a big Brunello di Montalcino. Anyway, this tasting was not of that type, for we sat at tables and had a neat array of tasting glasses in front of us. It was like being back at school. The glasses sat upon a mat and were numbered 1 to 6. There was a swarm of bottles to be seen but alas, our glasses were empty. Before the tasting, came the tutoring.

Let The Powerpoint Begin

There was a big screen set up and Helen Coburn, a well know authority on Italian wine, set about a very in-depth and fast as lightening PowerPoint assessment of the white wines of Italy. The range of grapes and regions and rules that are obeyed and rules that are ignored put instant validity to the need for a regional expert such as Helen. When many people think of Italian wines, they think Tuscany or Sicily or maybe the ever popular Pinot Grigio. That’s a fair enough assessment of what is popular in Italian wine, but like many things in life, there is always so much more. We flew through grapes such as Pinot Bianco, Cortese, Garganega, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Greco di Tufo, Vermentino, Inzolia and Prosecco with speed and precision. For those planning a wine holiday, the regions included Trentino / Alto Adige, Piedmonte, Veneto, Lombardy, Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany, Campania, Sardinia and Sicily. So who thought there was only Pinot Grigio in Italy?

Italian Wine Map

Italian Wine Map

There are many other white wine varieties grown in Italy that were mentioned but the varieties above are what we eventually tasted. I have a mass of notes on each wine, and I was happy to see a number of Red Nose Wine selections amongst the mix. We have been working very hard this last year to improve our Italian selection. Our €8.50 Pinot Grigio’s big sales are testament to the fact that the public like what we are doing. Rather than bore you with individual tasting notes on all wines tasted (there are many others who specialise in this), I will list of some of the words scribbled down in the frenzied tasteathon. Creamy, High alcohol, medium acidity, nervy, grassy, yeasty, fresh, good price point, lemon tones, crisp, dry, not enough fruit to the fore, fills the mouth. These of course were for the whites. All wines were spat out.

The Matching of the Food & Wine

After the whites were tasted and rated, we were then invited to partake in a matching of food to wines with Lorenzo Loda, the Italian sommelier from Thorntons Restaurant in Dublin. Little tasting plates were given out, consisting of olive oil, basil, authentic Parmesan cheese, salami and some almond cake. We then were given some Moscato, Gewurztraminer, Brunello de Montalcino and Barbera d’Asti wine. The aromatic Gewurztraminer swamped the olive oil, but was delicious with the basil. The Salami could not stand up to the rich Brunello, but was divine with the Barbera, as was the Cheese. The expensive rich Brunello really needs something like meat to counterbalance it. The Moscato and the cake were a match made in Italian heaven. Some classic Italian Wine – Food pairings include Soave & Risotto; Amarone & Rabbit ; Chianti and Wild Boar ; Verdicchio and Sea Bass to name a few.

Lunch & Parisian Tiramsu

Italian Food

Italian Food

At this point, the little touches of food only made me realise that I was starving, and there was a very Italian lunch laid on, with some classic dishes. I went for two helpings of Lasagne and some Tiramisu. When I lived in Paris, there was a local Italian restaurant that had homemade Tiramisu ( in rue Claude Bernard ) and a guarantee that if it was not the best you ever tasted, you didn’t pay for it. All I can say is that I always paid for it, and will on my next visit. The Cork version was nice, but I can still taste that Paris one. Mind you, in Clonmel we are spoiled for Tiramisu. Both Catalapa and Befanis have delicious versions.

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The Mighty Reds of Italy ( as opposed to Manchester )

Anyway, full up and weary, I still had to face the biggest challenge of the day. The rich reds which made Italy famous. It was obvious that the Italian Trade Commission were footing the bill because they really opened up some special bottles. Pinot Nero, Lagrein, Teroldego, Nebbiolo, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino ( Sangiovese clone), Montepulciano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Allianico, Negroamaro, Primitive Salento, Nero d’Avola and even that old favourite Cabernet Sauvignon were all on show. The superstar regions like Barolo, Barberesco, Chianti Classico and Brunello stood side by side with the Lagrein and Lunelli wines of Trentino / Alto Aldige. The feast finally came to an end and I came out of the tasting a lot more knowledgeable than when I went in. I think that is one of the things that I really like about wine. While you might hold some assumption of knowledge on a particular area or variety, but there is still so much more to learn. Humility and the lack of assumption are two traits that I have found invaluable as I search for new wines. For anyone who wants to try these different Italian varieties ( or the traditional classics ), we have a very good range in stock, at all price points. You are more than welcome to visit and taste. The Italians have a wonderful saying, and Fellini made a film based on the saying, “La Dolce Vita”. In these trying times, we all need a little of the sweet life.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Article – Tastings, Horses and Bridgestone

January 22nd, 2010

It is positively balmy out today as I write this article, at least when compared to the trauma of last week’s cold weather. Will the improved weather inspire an article about wines born of the heat – I don’t think so – we are not quite there yet. On the radio today, they spoke of Blue Monday and the despair that is out in the country. I turned it off and threw the negativity in the bin. It is true that this is the slowest part of the year, and retailers struggle as people hide away. However, poor sales aside, I would suggest that it is a great time to plan out the new year, and in the wine world that means trade shows. My calendar for this month and next is filling up with trips to Dublin to slurp, smell, swish and spit out the wines of the world. There are portfolio tastings from bigger suppliers, trade shows put on by different embassies, and many other connotations and excuses for me to taste my way to some interesting new wines. The reality is that I might find one wine in every hundred tasted. Ideally, though, these Irish shows don’t offer me too much, unless they have wineries that are looking for Irish representation. It is always good to keep tasting new wines, and get used to the nuances of changing vintages, so that is one the main reasons to go to these shows. While I hold wines from some of the best importers in the country, my core offering will always be made up of the wineries that I import directly from.

With this in mind, I am delighted to say I will be attending one of the best shows in the world at the end of January. It is in based in Montpellier in the south of France, and hosts the very best in small, family estates from France, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Argentina and many other countries. What they all have in common is they are part of the organic and/or biodynamic wine movement. I have written about this type of wine recently, but suffice to say more and more of the world’s top vineyards have converted or are in the process of converting. I will talk more about the show in an article I will write while at the show, as well as numerous blog pieces I will post to including video footage direct from the fair, so be sure to log on from next Tuesday (January 26th). With this in mind, I really need to get my hair cut before I go. There is nothing worse than a scruffy video blog. It is easy to get carried away at these shows but I never buy or even promise to buy at them. I find it a great way to meet existing suppliers, get introduced and recommended to new contacts by them, and find interesting wines that you can then arrange to follow up with. I always try to physically visit the vineyards I import from. It builds up trust, and I can personally see how they make the wine and if they do as they promise. There are too many stories of wines tasting very different at the show when compared to when it arrives. They also really appreciate it as well, as it offers them a chance to “sell” their dream to the customer. Everyone I buy from believes in their product and their way of life. “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. I like to think that passion is evident in the wine you take home from Red Nose Wine, and especially when compared to the commodity wines on the market. There is one vineyard I met last year and his wines were sublime and very well priced. I arranged to meet him at his vineyard last summer, which I did. I travelled three hours out of my way and we agreed a deal, but he has yet to export his wines. It is a very small allocation but I think he had been badly stung from an importer, i.e. he was not paid, so is very hesitant to go down that road again. I will give him one last chance when we meet for a 3rd time.

And now for something completely different as the Pythons would say. There was some celebration over the last week in Liam Dalys pub in O Connell Street, Clonmel as Sean Daly’s horse won at 14-1 in Thurles. I had given them some champagne glasses for New Year’s as well as selling them some bubbly, so I was also delighted for the win. He will have to carry lots of bubbly from now on, just in case. Unfortunately I did not have any money on the horse, but I am not bitter about the times I did back the horse in the past, and it lost. I can rejoice in Sean and his fellow syndicate member’s happiness. I was once in a greyhound syndicate with Sean and let’s just say it did not go so well, so Sean knows the highs and lows. I would love to tell you about the greyhound but I am not ready to talk about it yet. As well as missing the race last Sunday, I also missed the celebration in the pub last Sunday night. On a slightly more relevant note, Hickey’s Bakery, The Cookie Jar and Red Nose Wine all won Bridgestone awards in the new guide. We are all part of the Tipperary Food Producers Network and are proud to join the other members in the guide. We must have been doing something right this last year and a bit. Until the next article from France, I will ignore the January blues and look forward and plan for the spring.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Jan 21 1010

Latest Article – Ice Ice Baby

January 15th, 2010

Frosty the snowman is still here as I write this article. I am down in the warehouse on a Saturday braving the elements and trying to stay warm. It’s not easy. The heating is on but useless, however the coffee is brewing. It was suggested on Twitter this week that I am making lots of mulled wine to keep warm, but alas, it is not true. The water pipes are frozen and I have no where to cook it up. As Judy once sang, “We’ll have to muddle through some how”. Being that we are in the coldest weather I have seen since I spent a winter of discontent in Canada back in my engineering days, I think it apt to talk about something called “Ice Wine”. It is quite rare and be default, tends to be expensive. But since we probably won’t have a chance to buy any, who cares what it costs. Some might say, if we can’t get it, why write about it in the first place. But my cynical hat is frozen so I will offer this useless knowledge regardless. In Germany it is known as Eiswein and it is a desert wine, as it is in Canada. The grapes have been frozen whilst on the vines. The water in the grape freezes but the sugar does not. This has the effect of much smaller quantities, of a more concentrated, sweet wine.

The grapes do not need to be affected by Botrytis Cinerea or noble rot as it is more commonly known, unlike other sweet wines like France’s Sauternes and Hungary’s great Tokaji wines. Good IceWine should be high in acidity, as you would expect, but also have a refreshing sweetness. I have some Canadian friends in Paris who always have a supply of IceWine and Super Tuscan Italian Reds whenever we visit ( He is of Italian stock ). They just had their 2nd child, so I assume they will do what all parents do for those first few months – panic and hide away. Maybe he’ll send me some if I ask nicely. A reverse baby present as such. The cold is affecting my brain and I am babbling again, so I will go for a little walk to get the circulation moving and then attack the article from the flank. Many people might assume it a rather strange thing to do, make wine from ice grapes. However, there is some evidence to suggest it has been going on since the Romans, and we all know what they did for us. Well, what they did for everyone else. They had a look at Ireland and then thought “a frozen barren land with no natural resources to plunder” – not tonight Josephine Caesar. They called is Hibernia which means Wintery. That’s what you call foresight, assuming they knew 2000 years later we would be in a deep recession, the country would be covered in snow and I would be writing this article and making references to the fact that the Romans possibly made IceWine. The cold is really starting to take hold now.

With that in mind, and the fact that there have been a few customers stocking up for the cold week ahead, I will mention a few subtle facts about IceWine, before looking towards the door and the fireplace. Some Riesling versions in Germany have alcohol content as low as 6%, but the norm is between 8 and 13%. It tends to have a long lingering finish, as you would expect from a desert wine and experts quibble and fight over its ageing potential. The high sugar and high acidity levels would suggest it does age well but I have never tasted an old one, so really can’t offer anything new on this point. But I would suggest you try it if you get a chance, at least just to say that you have had it and did not like it. If I get to meet Filippo in Paris I’ll try bring back a bottle and will open it up in the shop. Stay warm and be sure to enjoy the rich spicy full bodied reds by the fire on these cold cold nights.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Jan 14 2010

Winner of Draw for Italian Wine

December 31st, 2009

The winner of the draw for a half case of Italian wine from the recent Italian tasting is Alan Aherne

Congratulations to Alan. You can collect your prize at Red Nose Wine.

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.

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For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Dec 17 2009

Italian tasting

December 14th, 2009

The Italian Tasting last Thursday went very well and a great crowd came out again. Thanks to everyone for turning up. I know things are busy at this time of year. A range of wines were open for tasting and there was a hugely different opinions on the wines. Thanks to Gerry Gunnigan for coming down and presenting the wines. Once again Nuala, Paddy and Helen put on a great spread and Nuala’s Cafe is a perfect location for a tasting. Very cosy and the mulled wine on arrival helped to warm them all up. The wines on show were :

Borgo Selene White
Gavi Lugarara, La Giustiniana
Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Borgo Selene Red
Poggio del Sasso Sangiovese di Toscana
Barco Reale di Carmignano, Capezzana
Chianti, da Vinci
Chianti Superiore, Poggiotondo
Allegrini La Grola
Alpha Zeta Amarone

We offered great prices on the night and dropped the excise duty back to the new post budget rate.

A picture from the night.
DEc09 Tasting

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 !!!!


Article – “Listen very Carefully, i shall say this only once”

December 3rd, 2009

“Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once”, whispered the attractive Resistance lady. I may have been on the cusp of adolescence and did not get all of the jokes, but I remember very clearly liking the accent. I am not sure if that is exactly when I started liking France or Europe because back in the 80’s it was difficult to look past the interest rates and the dole queues. However, these were my parent’s problems and I was still getting over seeing the Star Wars – Empire Strikes Back double bill in the Regal. I distinctly remember coming out of that with a sense of awe, but it was a million miles away from wine. In fact, it was a galaxy far, far away.

The BBC TV show ‘Allo Allo did offer something different and looking back now, I can see how the police man with the terrible accent telling Rene that he was “pissing by the window” was revolutionary in terms of what was allowed on TV. Economically they were bad times, but even the suggestion that there was a difference between the wine that you could technically physically consume ( you know the ones ) and wine that actually whispered in your ear as you drank it was considered strange. In many ways it still is. The times were dark but did we know any better – the French and the Italians were used to drinking the good stuff – wine is a staple and to this day there is no duty on it over there. The Irish, in general went to Tramore on holidays, not Nice. I do remember when a particular light came in to the country, and I am sure that it will come again. It was 1990 and the Irish soccer team found themselves among the best of the best in Italy for the World Cup. I’d like to tell you I went down there ( at the age of 16) and was introduced to the great wines of Italy, but I watched most of that world cup in a friends house in Toberaheena. My visits into Europe and the wine world came later. In fact, in terms of Italy, if I was to pinpoint the moment, it was in Capri, an island off Naples. There is a rich ( and trashy ) part and almost poor ( but much more real ) part of the island. In the later, there lies a section of beach at the end of a long dusty road and when you get there, “all” you have is a sunset, a lone bar/café and a beautiful beach. On my visit, Bob Marley sang on the stereo and my wife to be swam in the sea as I sat by the bar watching the sun set. There was a person diving into the sea from the high cliffs, and I told myself that I could do that if I wanted to. I just chose to have some wine instead, and this particular one was a Brunello di Montalcino and I can still remember it. Ironically, you should probably drink a wine like this with food, at night, when it is cold outside and not on a beach. It still tasted great though. The beach, the sunset and the swimmer definitely did help.

As we must, let’s jump back to the modern world and the harsh reality of floods, church scandals and economic ruin. Faith in the human and particular Irish, spirit must be sought in these times. If the church, government or the weather won’t test you, there will always be someone or something that will. The trick is to survive. That is not as always as easy as it might seem, and the pressures of the modern life should not be underestimated.

To help you along the way and to revisit a great time past, Red Nose Wine are having a very special tasting of Italian wine on December 10th in Nuala’s Café at the Westgate in Irishtown. I am hopeful that the Chianti, Montalcino, Barbera, Montepuliciano or whatever we open will drag us to sunnier climates, if only for a little bit. The Italians have a great outlook on life and outlive us to a large degree. They have their scandals and their politicians are interesting to say the least, but they have super wine. The high acidity of wines like Chianti ( or the Sangiovese grape ) matches perfectly with healthy tomato based meals. Not a great one to drink the day after a session though, as this acidity will make for an uncomfortable stomach. That’s why lighter wines (like Pinot Grigio) are great the day after. But let us not bemoan the hangover before we actually enjoy the wine. There is time enough for complaining. If difficulty faces you down, say as Rene would, “Tell him to pass off”, or dream of Naples like Officer Crabtree as he says,”See Niples and Do”. But as the budget approaches, I will l will leave the last word to Herr Flick of the Gestapo, as he answered the phone. “Flick, the Gestapo… No, I said FLICK, the Gestapo”.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”


The latest article – “The X Factor”

November 20th, 2009

This article sees the return of Gerry, the wine merchant with a much more interesting life than mine. Last weekend, with memories of his wine covered shirt from the Italy match fresh in his mind, he travelled to Dublin to see the playoff with Ireland and France. To justify this little jaunt, he needed to visit a few restaurants and see what kind of wine is making its way into the eateries of our fair capital. The match came and went and Wednesday is not yet here, so I can’t really tell you if Gerry and the Irish nation will be drinking Waterford Estate wine from Stellenbosch in South Africa next year. We can only hope. He did visit a few restaurants and wine shops on the day of the match. However it was after the match that he seemed to take an accidental turn into celebrity culture. In Jurys Hotel he bumped into Ronnie Whelan and Paul McGrath and when he went outside to try get a taxi, he had to compete with Bernard Dunne. As it happens, the taxi-man wanted stupid money so both Gerry and Bernard agreed to keep looking. When he finally got back to the city, he met his party for food and ended up beside the parents of a very famous rugby player. I won’t break Gerry’s trust, but their son is very tall, and has red hair and captained the kings of the jungle. By all accounts they were lovely people and told some hilarious stories that I can’t repeat. To top it all off, during the meal and a fantastic bottle of Chianti, Sinead Cusack, the actress passed the table, and someone knocked a bottle of wine over. As luck would have it, the bottle was empty and after apologies were concluded, she had a lovely chat about Tuscany and its wines. She and her husband Jeremy had made a film with Bertolucci there a few years ago. To paraphrase Dom Perignon, “come quickly, I am drinking with the stars”. Dublin was indeed alive last weekend.

I am sure Gerry would have met Louis Walsh and JedWard were they not in London performing in the X Factor. I will try and ultimately fail to bite my tongue about what I think about this show. At the risk of offending a nation, I hate it. It represents everything that is bad about music and television. But the lights are bright and they sell it very well. This is very much like the vast majority of the wine that is sold in this country. You see, there was a point to the celebrity story, apart from the very obvious name dropping. The marketing people know how to sell this type of wine, and even give you the impression that it is value for money, while a lot of the time, it is overpriced. It all comes down to substance and Bob Dylan or Tom Waits would never win the X Factor because they tell the truth. A real wine also tells the truth. It shows you the heart and soul of the people who made it and tells you about the history of their family and region. It won’t compromise and it won’t be for everybody. But the beauty of wine is that there are so many styles to choose from. You can try a different one and find your taste. I like jazz, blues, rock and folk music but I would like to think that I can appreciate the good pop music that’s out there. Take That are just not my kind of thing, but they have good tunes – they have the X Factor. How many of the factory wines offer the X Factor. The acts that go on the show get one song in the charts and fade away to nothing. There are always exceptions, but you can waste a lot of time and money finding them. Ultimately, you don’t remember them. I can still almost taste some of the great wines I had the good fortune to drink over the years. A lot of them were cheap wines, but had a lot of soul.

The restaurants and cafés that were visited in Dublin were much more adventurous in their wines than the regional restaurants tend to be. Of course they have a large tourist and business footfall and I can understand this decision from a commercial perspective, especially in these dark times. In Dublin, there was a lot of wine being drunk at the 28 euro bracket. While not cheap, the wines were very high quality and the margin was not as heavy as it might have been. This was offset however by groups buying the 2nd bottle. The chances to eat in these restaurants and meet the celebrities are rare, but we can buy a nice fillet steak from Pat Whelan and other local butchers, as well as potatoes and vegetables from the local farmers in the market. We can then match it with a wine that this artisan food deserves. Coming up to Christmas I am planning on matching foods to wine a little more. If anyone has any particular food they would like matched, please let me know. 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”