Browse Our Wines

Archive for 'Wine Tastings'

Back in the Saddle again – the return of the Articles

April 5th, 2013

“It’s been a long time since Rock’n’Roll” – Sing that in a high pitched voice and insert a Jimmy Page guitar riff and you have a classic Led Zeppelin song. While I have in fact recently listened to some Rock’n’Roll on my new turntable ( Christmas present ), I am referring to the fact that it has been a long time since I presented an article for your delectable critique.

The post budget blues

You may have thought I have been curled up in a ball in a dark room rocking to and fro in shock from the 41% excise duty increase in December. Tempting as that solution might be, I decided to focus on improving on the great gains we made in 2012. Onwards and upwards and the search for newer wines is in full flight. As I write this three new wines arrived into the shop today, and there are loads more on the horizon.

I have been very busy looking at every wine we currently stock and seeing if it has a future or not. There are many criteria needed for a wine to stay in the Red Nose family and many will not survive but the good news is that makes room for more wines. These are strange times we live in and when you are asking people to part with money, you really have to consistently over deliver on the quality and value offering.

With that in mind, this last month saw us throw out the old to make way for the new. Our Pick-A-Dot Sale cleared out a lot of wines at up to 50% off and this allows room for the newer wines that have been exciting us to shine. There is still a little bit left, but not a lot. To make up for it, we have introduced a new mix case for €50 that is proving very popular.

WIne courses and dinners

Last October we held our first wine course and it was a huge success. After 5 weeks of tasting, swirling, spitting, swallowing and listening to me waffle on about wines, we held our last night in the StoneHouse restaurant’s private dining room and matched their fantastic tasting menu to some great wines.

The good news is that we are currently finalizing plans for another wine course. This time we are looking at a few different options. We plan to repeat the classic 5 week course on a Thursday night but we are also looking at a slimmed down ½ day version, more than likely at the weekend. Depending on interest, we have also investigated the possibility of some Magical Mystery Tours. This basically means a mini bus, a foodie destination with lots of wine to match. You do the drinking, we organize the driving.

If any of you are interested in Top End Bordeaux wines, you might want to get in contact with me. I have been offered some seriously good value on some of the very best wines in the world. I am talking about the top end wines for putting down, but at a fraction of the normal price. We are still talking about €30 a bottle and a minimum case purchase. Contact me directly at info@rednosewine.com if you want more details.

Smelling Swooshing and Spitting

A wine merchants calendar after the busy period that was Christmas is busier than you would think. Its not all accounts and stocktaking though. Traditionally this time of year we get invited to all manner of tastings. Last week I took the train to Dublin and was let loose on 256 wines from an importer I work with. Smell, Look, swish, inhale and spit. And so it went – whites first and then another lap of the hall to get the reds in. Experience has taught me to leave those big Barolos until the end. One is almost tempted to forget to spit those wines.

At this stage we import over 90% of our wines directly from small, large and in-between vineyards from all over the world, so the Irish trade tastings are not going to get you those real value driven wines or those little magical small vineyards that make this job so special. The do however serve a purpose and some of our favourite Italian wines ( such as Allegrini ) come via this route.

Later this month I am flying to Germany for the best Wine Trade show in Europe – ProWein. This will have vineyards from all over the world showing off their wares in 8 massive halls in the vast and very impressive Dusseldorf Messe convention centre.

Ireland really missed a trick not building one of these during the boom years. The Germans may not know much about debt relief but they sure know how to organize a trade fair. I’ve been to shows in France, Italy and London and this is by far the best. Hopefully, I’ll be writing about the wines I found soon

Are there Horses in Spain?

I think that Spain will become more and more important in the Irish wine world. It still has loads of great value regions that are unknown and very well priced. The punters in Cheltenham always look for value and sometimes a great Bordeaux at €30 can be great value and a €9 special offer wine is a waste of money. It is all about perspective. But I think regions like Navarra and Valencia offer true value when compared to Rioja and Ribero and we hope to find more at ProWein.

By the time this article goes to press, Cheltenham will be over and I’ll know how much value I managed to squeeze from the Tipsters draw in Careys and Dalys. In my experience value and Cheltenham do not go hand in hand. However I still smile when I remember shouting War of Attrition home in the Gold Cup. I met Mouse Morris about 6 months before and he said he thought the horse was a superstar. My little ante post wager came in at very nice odds. Let’s hope my trip to ProWein brings home a few winners as well.

As always, there is more information on the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at href=”mailto:info@rednosewine.com”>info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Sam Neill and his trip to Tipp

November 4th, 2012

Irish born Kiwi Sam Neill is on his way to Tipperary for a whistle stop tour to promote his wonderful Central Otago wines. He will be out in McCarthys of Fethard at 2pm for a quick meet & greet followed by a reception in Red Nose Wine in Clonmel at 4pm. As well as Sam’s wines, there will also be some local Tipperary Food on offer, courtesy of James Whelan Butchers, as well as some delicious Cooleeney Farm cheese.

Meet-Sam-Neill

Sam is more well known for his acting and has appeared in such films and TV shows as Jurassic Park, Kane & Abel, The Omen, Dead Calm, The Hunt for Red October, The Piano, The Simpsons, The Tudors among many more. He is becoming very well known for his wines however and we are delighted to be importing them into Ireland.

snowy

Ireland is a place the Hollywood star holds close to his heart. Only in October past he visited his old home place in the North, where he lived until he was 7. His Irish roots still firmly intact, he recently claimed, “I got an Irish passport the other day. I love it. It’s the best thing in my pocket.”

Why not take a nice tour of the chateau with the proprietor himself …

If you would like to call on Wednesday at 4pm to Red Nose Wine to meet Sam, send us an email or drop us a line at 052-6182939 so we can have enough food. All lovers of great wine are welcome.

Red Nose Wine Portfolio Tasting Dec 8th

November 17th, 2011

Red Nose Wine are delighted to announce a portfolio tasting for Thursday December 8th at Hickeys Cafe at the historic Westgate in Clonmel. We will open a large selection of wines in a social atmosphere. We will have some food to allow you time to gather your strength to taste through all of the wonderful wines.

Tasting-Poster

There is no need to sit and listen to me or someone else waffle about wine. This is less talky more drinky.
The wines will be open and we are encouraging a social atmosphere on the night.

A Taste to Savour this Christmas at Red Nose Wine

A Taste to Savour this Chrismtas at Red Nose Wine

We will update this list on Facebook and Twitter as we add wines to the list.

We will take recomendations as well, so let us know what you want to taste and if is possible, we will open it…

When Rachel Allen met Red Nose Wine

October 18th, 2011

Red Nose Wine had the great pleasure of visiting Ballymaloe House recently for a photoshoot with Rachel Allen and our friend Michael Kane from Curious Wines. Colm McCan, Ballymaloe’s Tipperary born sommelier gave us a great welcome.

It was all to publicize our upcoming tastings / wine dinner with Samuel Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac on Thursday Ocotber 20th in Inch House and Friday in Ballymaloe. Details of which are here

Here are some of the pictures.

This wine lark is great fun

This wine lark is great fun

Picking a nice wine for dinner

Picking a nice wine for dinner

Dinner in the wine cellars of Ballymaloe

Dinner in the wine cellars of Ballymaloe

winemaking  pic1.jpg

Cheers

Cheers

Article – A Tipperary Taste of Provence

November 15th, 2010

Red Nose for the The Frontline

This is the second attempt at this article. When I wrote the first, it was on the back of hitting a creative wall and not knowing what to talk about. Inspiration, for use of a better word dragged me into a political and social rant. I will shelve that article and save the argument for when Pat or Miriam ask me to rant in the centrally approved forum that is RTE 1. Until that happens, I will bring you sunshine and rainbows with a side of wonderful wine.

Pat Kenny tries to get Red Nose Wine on the show !!!

Pat Kenny tries to get Red Nose Wine on the show !!!

Tipp Food goes on and on

If you buy the paper on Wednesday you are no doubt very excited about tonight’s Tipperary Food Producers Extravaganza. If it is later in the week, you are in awe of the wonderful food (and wine) on your doorstep and can’t wait to tell everyone about it. Alternatively, you missed the show and are avoiding all of your friends who were there, as they keep reminding you of how good it was. Wherever you fit in this little jigsaw please keep local business in your thoughts this Christmas. We need your support.

Jane Boyce MW and Pat Whelan discuss wines to go with Pat's recipes.

Jane Boyce MW and Pat Whelan discuss wines to go with Pat's recipes.


The Twitterati and Food Connect Program cover the Food Extravaganza

There are even more events to look forward to in the run up to Christmas. I had lunch last week with Gay McGuiness, the Kilkenny man who owns Domaine des Anges, the organic vineyard that lies in beautiful Provence, just over the hill from Chateauneuf du Pape. We are delighted to announce that the winemaker, Ciaran Rooney will be visiting Clonmel on November 24th and taking part in a wine dinner in Befanis.

Domaine des Anges Dinner Poster

Domaine des Anges Dinner Poster

Kilkenny & Tipperary meet again

Myself and Fulvio have been trying to organise a wine dinner for a long time, so I am delighted that it is with one of my own personal favourites. Places are limited and selling very well so if you want 5 different wines and a 4 course dinner for only 45 Euros, please contact Red Nose Wine or Befanis to get your ticket. There will be special prizes on the night as well.

I wrote about my visit there this summer, and will not wax lyrical about the room with the view this time. I will talk more about the wines and why they are constantly being reviewed as among the very best in France. Tomas Clancy gave them a huge write up in last week’s Sunday Business Post (although he forget to mention Red Nose Wine), and Oz Clarke has them in his 250 Great Wines book every year. My old friend Jancis Robinson is also a big fan.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine with Gay McGuiness at Domaine des Anges

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine with Gay McGuiness at Domaine des Anges

As well as the quality, the most consistent message from them all is the value. These are very well priced and if you don’t want to pay for Chateauneuf du Pape or White Burgundy, then you would do a lot worse than try these. They have been one of my big success stories this last year.

Some Tasting Notes

The Reds are based around Syrah and Grenache, the classic Rhone Valley varieties. The Classic cuvee (i.e. the cheap one) is dominated by Grenache just like its illustrious neighbour in Chateauneuf. The nose is a mix of raspberries, cranberries, chocolate, and liquorice with subtle notes of thyme and rosemary. But will we like it Gary? I believe that you will if you like full bodied wine with a long silky finish. I think it tastes much better when decanted and there is not a lot of 12 Euro wines you can say that about.

Domaine des Anges

Domaine des Anges

The L’Archange Red is a huge step up in quality and this Syrah dominated wine from old vines is a star. A Northern Rhone Syrah is one of the iconic wines in the world and usually has an iconic price to match. The likes of Jaboulet La Chapelle can put you back some serious money. The L’Archange is under twenty and offers spices such as nutmeg and clove complete with ripe blackcurrant and plum on the nose. The palette explodes with rich, ripe fruit and a refreshing note of lemon thyme all supported by spicy tannins. The finish is full, round and lingers long in the mouth. I cannot wait to try this with Befanis fillet of beef on November 24th.


 

Del Boy Trotter’s favourite wine

While comparisons with its Fancy Dan Red Wine neighbour over the hill are the most obvious, the critics would tell you that the real stars are the white wines. Tomas Clancy from the Sunday Business Post thoughts is closest to my own on the top wine. “For me, the star of Domaine des Anges, it makes only 750 cases a year as it is a single vineyard wine. Barrel-fermented Rousanne, letting the wine sit on its lees, and ageing in oak provides the kinds of kid-glove treatment you expect of a flashy and expensive Burgundy”. High praise indeed. This is an allocation wine for me. That means I can only get a very small amount every year. I have six cases to get me to the next vintage. We’ll drink at least one of those at the dinner, so hurry up.

 The Hills are Alive…. with Acidity

White wine from Provence is not supposed to taste like this, and the reason that it does? The vineyard is situated on a hillside facing Mont Ventoux, “The Giant of Provence”, which rises to 1912m in altitude. The mountain has a profound influence on the climate of the vineyards with cool evening breezes refreshing the vines in summer after the day’s intense heat, and so enabling the vines to maintain high natural acids and elegant tannins.

In fact, the best white wines from traditionally warm parts of the world nearly always share this altitude and cooling effect. The great white wines of the Loire Valley and Burgundy are much more northern so the climate gives them this coolness that acidity demands.

 Hollywood is coming

As I write this, tomorrow sees another new wine departing the vineyard for Red Nose Wine. I wrote about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s vineyard in Provence earlier this year and I am delighted to say that the wonderful Chateau Miraval is on the way. This is another Provence wine that sits high up in the hills, beside my old favourite Chateau Margui. I am delighted that Ciaran Rooney will be the star of Red Nose Wine’s first wine dinner and we are planning more. Will Brad and Angelina attend one of these? If they do, it will be first refusal for the people who attend the other ones.

Chateau Miraval

Chateau Miraval

If you want to taste Domaine des Anges but can’t make the dinner, don’t forget we are having our very first portfolio tasting in Hickeys Cafe at the Westgate in Clonmel on December 9th. There won’t be the usual winemaker talk and taste format. We will have a huge amount of wines open and it will be very informal as you taste what you want in a very social atmosphere. There will be food and maybe even some music – I will need to restring my guitar. I will have everything opened from the 8 Euro everyday wines to the seriously complex superstar wines. Book your tickets now.

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

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

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Article – The corked bottle of wine and the IMF

October 15th, 2010

The Revolution is coming

The wind is howling and the fires are being lit all over the country. I suppose I could wax lyrical about the leaves as they succumb to the call of nature and make their final journey, before the inevitability of decay. Am I talking about the weather or about the country itself? Will there be a general election or does it really matter? Will the guilty face justice or is revolution and anarchy a foregone conclusion in these crazy times?

Matt Cooper & the IMF

That first paragraph started off with such hope, and was really supposed to be a fancy way of telling you all that staying in with red wine by the fire is the new going out. Somewhere along the way, I got distracted and sucked into Matt Cooper style Last Word political comment. I am waiting for the call from Matt for an entrenched small businessman’s take on the economy. I have an MBA so if he needs it, I can get into all of the numbers and the IMF question. During the MBA, our economics lecturer brought over an economist from the IMF and he told us about what happens when they move in. It not a discussion to have during daylight hours or without some liquid courage, so we might need to combine it as part of an on air wine tasting. We’ve tweeted on Twitter, so Matt, you know how to contact me.

The last two articles have seen me squeeze many words from my trip to the Veneto area of Italy. The Pinot Grigio I spoke so highly of last week went down a storm for tasting this week. Rather than introduce another winemaker to you so soon, I will wait a little bit and talk generally and tell you a story from the trip that caused me great anxiety and to question my wine tasting abilities. But first, some background is necessary to suitably build tension and pathos towards the central character.

Masters of Wine

Jane Boyce MW with the Liberty gang on recent trip to Veneto

Jane Boyce MW with the Liberty gang on recent trip to Veneto

I have referred to people with the title Master of Wine a number of times in the past, and suffice to say it is a very difficult title to achieve. Many aspire to it, but most fail. There are only four of them in Ireland, and Jane Boyce MW is one of them. She was invited on the recent trip to Italy, as she writes freelance for a number of publications (including Food & Wine magazine and The Irish Times) about wine.

On the 2nd night of the trip we were taken to this very famous restaurant in the centre of Verona. An elderly man prepared cold cuts of meat in open view, as he has done for decades, and everyone squashed into the corners of the small dining room. Space was at a premium and we had a big table in the middle of the room. I was sitting at the corner, closest to the kitchen. Jane was on one side of me and a lady called Lizzie, who worked with the importer, was on the other side.

Plate of Cold Cut meats in Verona

Plate of Cold Cut meats in Verona

Tasting Corked Wines

The wines were ordered for the table and the sommelier came out with the reds to taste. This being Italy, the man was given the wine to taste. There is a Master of Wine on side of me and one of the people paying for the trip on the other, so I played the coward card. There was no way I was testing my nose and palate against these people. So, Lizzie tasted the wine, and low and behold it was rejected. A corked bottle is not as uncommon as you would imagine and the reason why so many people are pushing for screw caps on all wines. A replacement bottle was produced and once again, inexplicably, it was put in front of me to taste.

A Table full of empty glasses and full bellies

A Table full of empty glasses and full bellies

Once again, my cowardice showed its yellow face and I passed the honour to Jane. If you have a Master of Wine at the table, it makes sense to use them. As fate would have it, the second bottle was also corked, so I was delighted I had passed the glass. A third bottle was brought by a very contrary sommelier and his chauvinism knew no bounds, for he once again thrust it in front of yours truly. There was no way that the two ladies were gong to let me away this time, and I had no choice but to taste. I said to myself that it is not possible that three bottles could be corked, so I grabbed the glass and gave it a swirl with the confidence of a man who had statistics on his side.

Nowhere to Hide

I smelt the wine and I broke out in a cold sweat almost immediately. The wine wasn’t corked but it was not right in my very humble opinion. I was expecting lots of fresh fruit on the nose, but it was dead. I started to panic and doubt myself. Maybe this is what it is supposed to smell like. I tasted some and there was still nothing there that I would have expected to find. Mr. Red Nose was turning into Mr. Red Face. I remembered what I was always told when learning how to taste wine in France all those years ago. Trust your first instinct.

Delighted to say this was NOT corked and was fantastic - Txs DG

Delighted to say this was NOT corked and was fantastic - Txs DG

I took a deep breath and sucked in my belly and stuck out my chest and declared this wine to be “not quite right”. The sommelier wilted before our eyes and the rest of the table looked at me with a sense of impending doom. I quickly passed the offending glass to the Master of Wine and within a few seconds she confirmed my judgment. I could hear the fanfares blowing and the slow planning of a ticker tape parade in Clonmel to greet the returning hero. However, within a few minutes the conversation moved on and I was mortal once more. In saying that, it is very rare to find three corked wines in a row.

Food & Wine Extravaganza

If you would like to check the validity of this story, I am delighted to announce that Jane will be part of the Tipperary Food Producers Food Extravaganza in the Clonmel Park on November 10th. Held in conjunction with Bord Bia, this promises to be a great evening. I have already had a number of requests and enquiries for tickets and they are now available in the shop. Jane will work alongside the chefs on the night and do a food and wine pairing talk. This is not to be missed.

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

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

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Oct 13 2010

Article – The Groucho Marx of Wine

October 8th, 2010

The poster of Franz Haas we all received as we left

The poster of Franz Haas we all received as we left

Another Day, Another Lunch

That tasting I mentioned last week in Ballymaloe was fantastic and with the risk of Silvia Allegrini thinking that I am stalking her, I think I’ll wait a while before the next wine dinner. Two Allegrini dinners within a week and in two different countries is a lot. As promised I present a new tale from my Italian odyssey and. One of the longer bus journeys of the trip took us up towards Austria and the Alps. It was to a meet a man named Franz Haas in a place called Montagna, which lies half way between Verona and Innsbruck.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visits Franz Haas in Alto Adige

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine visits Franz Haas in Alto Adige

James Bond Elevator into the mountains

An impressive winery greets us, built into the side of the mountain. It looks tiny from the dangerous mountain road where it sits. However, the modest façade hides a labyrinth of cellars and tanks and an elevator that brings you high into the mountain and a dining room and tasting room that hangs over the edge of the world. Am I being a touch dramatic? Perhaps, but the wines were of a quality that really surprised me and made me wonder why I had chosen to ignore the Alto Adige region for so long.

Have you ever had Pinot Grigio? – Real Pinot Grigio

One of my best selling wines is a cheap and cheerful Pinot Grigio from Italy. It only costs 8.50 Euros and is all apples and pears and easy to drink. It is well made but not overly exciting but I understand why it is so popular. When my Pinot Grigio fans are in the shop I am going to ask them to taste Franz Haas’s version of Pinot Grigio. We will have it open from this weekend and on special. This is real Pinot Grigio just as Chablis and White Burgundy are real Chardonnays. By real, I mean the grapes are grown in a place where they belong and the full luscious fruit that Pinot Grigio is known for is fully expressed.

By all means, people can go back to their old style Pinot Grigio, but I would love them to at least know what it is supposed to taste like. Mr. Haas’s Pinot is straw yellow in colour with perfumes of flowers and rich almonds as the wine develops. On the palate it is ripe and full-bodied with a lifted acidity from the high vineyards, and has a lovely depth from the lees ageing. I will be running a special price on this to celebrate its arrival into the shop. Please call in to taste it.

Franz Haas treats us to a great dinner

Franz Haas treats us to a great dinner

So, other than his Pinot Grigio, what else is so special about Mr. Haas and his mountain wines? Well firstly, he has what we like to call pedigree or heritage. His family, and in particular each firstborn son (called Franz) has been doing this since 1880. The current Franz is the 7th in the long line.

The view from this vineyard is possibly the most beautiful I have ever seen, and I have been lucky enough to see lots of them. The man himself is quite a character and wears a Groucho Marx like moustache on this bald head. His mannerisms and movements are more like Harpo as he curtsied and bowed. He pretended not to speak very good English and came in and out of the visit as he was very busy.

The view from Franz Haas vines

The view from Franz Haas vines

We were gate crashing the harvest it must be said, so it would not have come as a surprise if we given the road. Instead we were treated like royalty and the panoramic vineyard tour was followed by a cellar visit and a chance to taste some freshly picked Sauvignon Blanc must from a fermenting barrel. Basically, it is like very concentrated sparkling grapefruit juice. A taste is enough, as it is very harsh on the stomach. A refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio brought us back to life. God Bless the bus driver. I normally spit my way around vineyards, but I could enjoy it a little bit more on this trip.

The cellar was followed by a delicious dinner in the aforementioned dining room. To all of my Tipperary Food Producer friends, can I suggest a new product? We had fennel bread with the lunch and it was just heaven. It may have something to do with a local saying, “Pane e vino fanno un bel bambino” which means “bread and wine make a beautiful baby”. Both are seen as essential nourishment. I am not recommending wine for a baby by the way. This magic bread was followed by the obligatory Risotto of course and a range of other local delicacies.

More Risotto ....

More Risotto ....

The Alto Adige region is strong with German roots but also with Venetian history and this offers a very different take on both styles. The Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomites wall this region in, and this is evident by the photo I took from the vineyard. Even if you don’t like wine, it is a beautiful place to visit. The wines of Mr. Haas are typical of the area and Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero (or Noir), Traminer join local varieties such as Lagrein, a delicious red wine.

I always enjoy being surprised in the wine business and for everything I have learned about new wines and areas, there is so much more to learn. I know that most people will stick to their cheaper Pinot Grigio but all I can do is show you the difference, and ultimately it is up the consumer. Never was the old adage about the customer being always right truer than in wine.

Keep a date in your diary free. There is a Tipperary Food Producers Food Extravaganza in the Clonmel Park on November 10th with Bord Bia involvement. As well as the chefs on show,  Jane Boyce MW, once of only 4 Masters of Wine in Ireland will be giving a talk on food and wine pairing talk. She is not to be missed and will be worth the price of admission alone. She was on the trip to Italy and I tried to convince her to travel down for this important local event. On another note, another Tipperary Food Producer, Nuala Hickey has just won Gold at the Blas na hEireann Food Awards in Dingle. Well done to Nuala.

(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 www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

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

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Oct 06 2010(

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

Icons

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 www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

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

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

The SALE goes on

July 2nd, 2010

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

SALE SALE SALE

SALE SALE SALE

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

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

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

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

In Red, the some of the standouts include :

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

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

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

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

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

Gary

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.

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

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

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010