26th January 2013
I'm older (no wiser, mind you) and a significant birthday meant many gorgeous wines from wonderful friends over which to ruminate - one of which I'm currently enjoying :) Too
much rain is interfering with my "winter light" photography - very
aggravating since my beloved bought me a camera and some wonderful
new glass for my birthday.
Preamble's January tasting was unusual and very interesting. Notes here.
9th January 2013
I hope your year has started well and gets better. Notes from the "Extravaganza" now here. The winter light continues to fascinate.
1st January 2013
25th December 2012
Christmas. It's been a wonderful season for wines. Apart from the
Preamble extravaganza (notes soon) I've had the opportunity to try
Thackrey's Pleiades VIII (needs decanting very carefully but tastes
great); Zind-Humbrecht 'Hengst' Gewurtztraminer 1997 (not as good as
the 2008 but still amazing); Vina Ardanza Reserva
Especial 2001 (wow!) and a very nice Marques de Borba by J.
Portugal Ramos, from Alentejo (a gift from a friend). This last led me
to look more closely at Alentejo and to find some
interesting stuff on Mouchão.
9th December 2012
Preamble Christmas Extravaganza, with an all-star cast of wines
presented by Mark Downes and Tom Kirley, takes place on Monday 10th -
members only. The November tasting was a personal selection by Jeff
Corbett of Searson's and featured some excellent wines: notes here.
had occasion to open a treasured bottle of Marcarini Barolo Brunate
1982, bought in Rome when it was young (and so were we). While it isn't
going to get any better, it was not over the top but instead delivered
fruit, spice and earthiness. There was some quite indefinable flavour,
to my palate anyway: liquorice and tea is the closest I can get. Shame
I only had one bottle.
28th October 2012
back from another stay near Gaillac, where the temperature last
Wednesday hit 30ºC in the shade (and the forecast for tonight is -1ºC).
We mainly drank Ch. Lastours and Domine de Sarrabelle as our
daily wine. They happen to be the nearest but we like them
Sarrabelle fizz, or methode
Gaillacoise, is particularly appealing: my discerning
Ollie says that it's red apples rather than green. Methode Gaillacoise
is, of course, older and superior to methode Champeroise :). The latest vintage
could do with a little more acid and a little less sugar, though.
other favourites include Domaine de la Chanade, whose Galien red is
excellent but the white, made only in some years, I think, is quite
mind-blowing; and Domaine Rotier, whose top wine is Renaissance.
Chanade also has a nouveau
equivalent designed to be drunk cold: apart from the typical maçeration carbonique
character that I dislike, it's pretty good.
inexpensive Ch. Louvignes, made by Maitre David and available in the
local hypermarket, is also very good, especially when you consider the rapport prix-qualité.
We were treated to
lunch at La Falaise and drank Causse Marine wines. Our hosts were do
impressed that we drove to tthe vineyard after lunch to buy some. It's
a bit off the beaten track!.
We were lucky in being
able to attend the open day at Chateau de St. Géry,
near Rabestans, seat of Count Henri O'Byrne. Beautiflly situated on the
Tarn, this is a lived-in house - no musem stuffiness and "don't touch"
- and very charming people.
managed to miss Preamble's October tasting but the Setember
with Corbally Wines showing off some excellent Burgundy, was very
worthwhile. Notes here.
31st July 2012
morning campers! (For younger readers, google "Hi de hi"). Much water
has passed under the bridge and sweat dripped from the brow since
February and, fortunately, much time has been spent in the wonderful Gaillac wine
district in France. The region makes claims to be the earliest
viticultural centres of ancient Gaul
wine production established early in the 1st century. Lots of grapes
that you've probably never heard of (Mauzac, Braucal, Duras and others)
and loads of lovely wine. More later.
has had its summer garden party already and autumn starts officially
tomorrow; time flies! I have lots of tasting notes to publish but work
continues to interfere with my social life.
1st February 2012
Happy St. Brigid's Day. Anois teacht an Earraigh / Beidh
ag dul chun síneadh / Agus tar éis na féil Bríde / Ardóigh mé mo
6th January 2012
Preamble's January tasting will be a personal
selection of South African wines by chairman Liam Kelleher.
Notes from the December extravaganza now
New Year. May 2012 bring all that you wish. The turkey was accompanied,
in a departure from tradition, by Jonathan Maltus Exile 92 - 98 points
from Parker. It's a tough old life! And very generous friends have made
this a vinous Christmas season to be remembered. Long may it continue.
Compliments of the
season! Or, you might say, Season'd Greetings.
Condiments of the season, maybe? Sorry, I'm a bit giddy today.
has had a wonderful season, with Conor Richardson showing Burgundies in
September, a taste of Portugal from Donnybrook Fair in
October, Jim Nicholson presenting some very exclusive wines in November
and Mark Downes and chairman Liam Kelleher doing the usual Christmas
Extravaganza. Notes will come over the Christmas period. The Apostles
gathered chez nous last weekend and everyone must have had a good time:
the number of bottles taken to recycling was embarassing but at least
the quality was something of which to be proud.
The old Christmas
recommendations can be found here.
Have a good one.
Preamble is back!
September will have Burgundy expert Conor
Richardson to guide us expertly through the complexities of terroir,
producer, vine and vintage. Quality Burgundy is never cheap, but Conor
will also show us where the wise find value wine that
performs out of its class. Including Macon Solutre,
Chassagne-Montrachet, Volnay, Gevrey-Chambertin, and Nuits-St-Georges,
this is a budget buster. Not to be missed.
in the garden, despite the rotten summer, the tomatoes are ripening,
the grapes are swelling and the red basil looks as good as it tastes
joys of an Irish summer! Preamble's annual garden party managed to get
half way through the tasting with only a few spits of rain before we
had to run for it. Ken Willoughby coped magnificently,
his tasting of three summer whites and three reds (all Old World) in
the kitchen, despite the noise. A good time was had by all as we
sampled the vinous and culinary delights brought by the guests. Our
genial host had welcomed us with a sample of the excellent Domaine de
Gaillacoise from our favourite corner of France.
Happy Easter. We recently had the pleasure of an
amazing evening of Australian Shiraz (not to mention La
Fleur-Pétrus and the excellent Chateau Capion). The Oz wines
John Duval (of Grange fame) Shiraz, Songlines 2003 (on which Duval was
a consultant), JCP Maltus (of Ch Teyssier) Exile 2002 and Rosemount
Balmoral 1992. I'd leave the Exile alone for a few years, I think. The
Balmoral was the wine of the night. Outstanding. Shame it was the last
At Preamble, Frank Searson guided us through the
famed 2000 vintage Bordeaux from his own cellar. Notes
been enjoying some Eroica by Dr. L: amazing stuff! Sweet version of the
petrol nose; clean, rounded, medium weight lemon and lime, mineral,
slightly sweet with a long finish. Yum! Did I mention the result of the
Ireland-England match? Notes from Preamble's March tasting here.
Spring has sprung. The shamrock has been well
and truly drowned (in some fine Australian Bordeaux look-alikes) and
Ireland plays England at the Aviva later this afternoon. At
Preamble, Jim McCabe presented "North by Northwest" last Monday
evening: an excellent selection of Spanish wine from north of Madrid.
April we'll be especially spolied when the eminent Frank Searson
presents a horizontal tasting of 2000 Bordeaux from his own cellars.
Not to be missed.
A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all and may
2011 bring everything that you wish.
Christmas tasting showed some great wines - notes later - and we've
been drinking some well-aged Zind-Humbrecht single-estate Rieslings and
Gewurtztraminer, as well as the absolutely stunning Colonial Estate
'Exile' 2002 (Parker gives it 98) and its excellent little brother,
Etranger. Haven't decided what to have on Christmas Day but
suggestions from previous years can be found here.
Christmas special tasting will take place on 13th December. I have only
managed to find out one wine that will be shown and if the rest are as
good then it'll be spectacular - as usual.
tried a half bottle of Gewurtztraminer Hugel Jubilee, Reserve
Personnelle,1990 to celebrate our anniversary last weekend. It was made
to celebrate their 350th anniversary in 1989. What an amazing wine. I
have one more half-bottle and I don't think it will last until our next
anniversary :). We followed this with an amazing Domaine Les
Aphillanthes,Vielles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2001.
It's 95% Grenache and some Syrah/Mourvedre: very
limited production. Parker
said of this domaine "maybe the richest
Cotes du Rhone I have tasted"). Things are tough!
This is the Ahr
Valley, near Bonn, Germany: if you thought Germany was only about white
and some thin Pinot Noir then go here and have your brain
rewired. (And if you want a helluva party then I have some German
friends who know how to organise one!)
The next Preamble
tasting will feature the amiable John McDonnell of Wine Australia and
will include his Wine Club Challenge. Last month we had an excellent
night with Peter Dunne of Mitchell's taking us along the Duero and the
Duoro. Notes soon. Peter also introduced me to Torres Natureo; at 0.5%
alcohol it manages to taste of (Muscat) wine.
summers almost gone but the rain stayed away from the barbie this year.
One of the pleasant consequences of having a lot of friends around is
that we get to sample all the gifts of wine for ages after. Last night,
for instance, we tried an excellent Ch. Milhau-Lacugue, Cuvée
Magali 2003 (thanks John).
technology and house renovation have combined to keep me from here for
months but now I'm back and the tasting notes will soon be back too.
Preamble is having its summer break but will be back in
Happy St. Patrick's Day. Master
of the tricky
blind tasting Mick was back with us - in audience participation mode
only - for Preamble's March meeting so our delayed annual humbling will
no doubt be with us soon. Great night; notes soon. I'm off to wet the
Mick Harkin is hors de
so the "great leveller", the brown paper bag, must wait for another
while. Mick, we hope you're better soon. February saw a well-researched
New World Pinot tasting that seemed to go down well, but then, I'm
biased. :) Notes here.
Preamble will feature Rhone expert Pat
Smyth, presenting Syrah vs Shiraz: Old World vs New World; it promises
to be a fascinating session.
The snow and ice did for
Preamble's January event
but that great humbling experience, Harkin Blind, will be with us in
March. This month sees an ecelectic but well-researched selection of
New World Pinot Noir - and maybe an Old World one just to confuse.Notes
Wrath of Grapes enters its fourteenth year I wish you
pleasant tippling and hope your year is as bright and vivid as the
snow-covered view from my window this morning.
I recently had the pleasure of
tasting, with some
expert colleagues, 21 New World Pinot Noirs as a research exercise
(yes, I know life is hard but someone has to do it) for Preamble's
February presentation. The secret tasting team found some real crackers
amongst the offerings but you'll have to wait until February to hear
special was a tour de force, with a stunning
collection of wines including Chateau Gruaud-Larose 1998, Pommard
Premier Cru 'Jarollieres' 1999, possibly the last known bottles in the
universe of Steve Maglieri Shiraz 1997, an amazing Clos de la Soucherie
2003 Coteaux de Layon and Oloroso 'Trafalgar' 1963. Notes here - soon to be joined by
those from intervening months. The November tasting was from O'Briens.
Wine Australia had an excellent peripatetic tasting,
including the opportunity to taste two vintages of Penfold's Grange.
The Rieslings made the night for me.
Our friend Tao Kiang,
astronomer, philosopher and
wine-lover, passed away in March. Ní bheidh a leithéad ann arís. The garden
party wines were "Tao's Summer Wines", presented by his daughter
Sophie. Notes here.
A new study by
a team led by
Gary Pickering at Brock University in Canada has come up with some
unexpected findings about wine containers. See the article in
tasting featured Constellation Ireland presenting
a selection of their premium wines from around the New World. March had the excellent Conor Richardson taking us
around Burgundy in style. The February tasting featured a range of wines from South
Africa, well presented by Bren Smith of Mackenway Wine Distributors.
January's blind date with Mick Harkin caused the usual grief ... notes here.
saw off some old Jaboulet Gigondas and a couple of vintages of Chasse
Spleen ('85 was better than '89). We also shared with friends a couple
of bottles of excellent Vosne-Romanee 2000 from Jacky
Confuron-Conteditot. Well, someone has to try these things for you!
Christmas Tasting, “The Chairman’s Christmas Crackers”, one of the
highlights of our calendar, took place on Monday 8th and featured a
selection of some very high quality wines mainly from France, Italy,
California and Portugal. Supper was exceptional!
back from France - brilliant weekend in Toulouse including a (very
expensive) dinner at Restaurant Michel Sarran: I strongly suggest that
you do this on someone else's credit card but it's worth doing.
was a very special tasting, in memory of our late
treasurer, John Heavey. October's
tasting was Richard McMahon, wine buyer for Erne Drinks and
Enowine. The whites will be a horizontal tasting of three
2007 wines from Villa Matilde from Campania in Southern
Italy. The reds will be a vertical tasting of Baron de Ley
Reserva from 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, finishing with a special
cuvee that this Rioja bodega now produces, called Finca
Monasterio. These wines have undergone a revolution during
the period of these vintages.
featured an excellent Spanish tasting by Rafael Alvares of Approach
Trading. The Mon. 11 Aug meeting took another look at Gleeson’s bin-end
clearance list and July's garden party had a 'Norn Iron' tasting from
Anya Pierce, the notes from which are here.
sort-of-a blog is still here.
Despite Katie Melua's
assertion that it's a fact, there aren't nine million bicycles in
Beijing: lots of VW and Buicks are replacing them and creating traffic
jams that rival the M50. There are still quite few bikes,
though. And I've tasted some OK Chinese wines too. Apparently the
national palate likes 'oxidised', which is a bit unfortunate from my
point of view.
Preamble tasting featured John McDonnell
of Wine Australia, complete with his quiz - the winners will represent
Preamble at the Inter Wine Club Competition. John brought us up to date
with new developments and trends in the world of Australian Wine (I
think - I wasn't there, I'm afraid. Still, travel has its advantages J
Liam Campbell presented an interesting selection of Napa Valley wines. Notes here. Conor
McGuinness caressed our jaded palates at January's tasting,
easing us into the New Year with his own selection of light and elegant
wines from around the world. In December we had
the magnificent 'Christmas Crackers' tasting via Preamble's chairman
with food by the excellent Ann Willoughby. Reports soon on the
ex-chairman's dinner at the King Sitric. Preamble's November Tasting
Stewart of Dalcassian Wines who presented wines from Australia (Cumulus
Wines/Philip Shaw), New Zealand (Sileni) and Chile (La Joya) together
with a few examples from Europe.
Some Friday's back I
gave my beloved 'La Clape', which I got from my friend
Michael. Stop giggling down the back, there: La Clape is an
amazing wine from Château Ricardelle
Narbonne. (La Clape means a pile of stones in Occitan.)
October tasting saw
David Whelehan of O’Briens focusing on wines from some of his favourite
stomping grounds in Northern and Central Italy. He backed up his claims
that the wines from the best terroirs in Italy offer unparalleled value
and excitement when compared with their French cousins with a
Brunello Riserva, an Amarone, a Barolo,
single estate Chianti Classico Riserva etc. An excellent
tasting. Notes soon.
September featured Berry Bros and Rudd, August had Ciaran Lynch of
Gleesons and in July we had our annual garden
party on Bastille Day, with
French wines (what else?) presented
by Sophie Kiang.
Our colleague, Rodney Shaw, presented his
postponed ‘Special Offers’ at Preamble in May, featuring among a
high-class lineout an outstanding Brunello di Montalcino and Sauternes.
Yours truly was in France for some weeks tasting, drinking and
buying the wines of Gaillac. It's a tough job but
someone's got to do it. This little-known area has some wonderful wines
made from weird
wonderful grapes such as Loin de l'Oeil, Braucol and Duras. More on
this later. This meant missing the June Preamble tasting, where
Preamble basked in Burgundy with Richard Verling of Tindal Wine
Merchants, but I'll have notes soon from an obliging friend.
Preamble featured Jennifer Sanford of
Papillon Wines, with her selection of fine wines from South Africa, a
country now making waves in the wine world. March at Preamble
featured the affable Gregory Alken of Febvre, presenting a star-studded
cast of wines from Limoux in the Pyrenean foothills east along the
Mediterranean to Nimes and then swinging upstream to the northern Rhone
- an interesting slice of France taking in some fine old regions and
some newer ones too. In February Peter Dunne of Mitchell's gave an
excellent presentation on Bordeaux. Our
January presenter had the misfortune to end up in hospital
before the event. The chairman took over and presented some
of Rodney's selection complemented by some of his own choices.
Christmas was celebrated "not
wisely but too well", featuring some wonderful Condrieu 'La Doriane'
2001 from Maison Guigal and the best Gewurtztraminer anyone around here
has ever tasted; Hengst Alsace Grand Cru 1997 from Domaine
Zind-Humbrecht. The reds were led by Ch. Peyrelongue Saint Emilion
Grand Cru 1982.
In December we had the 'Tasting
we can't afford' at Preamble. The November meeting
featured Linda Forde and Melanie Sanz of Sopexa discussing the ten of
the Top 30 Vins de Pays chosen by a distinguished local panel. Notes
when I get them (Rodney, oild friend ... ). In October, Michael Meagher and Ray
Dowdall of Gleeson Wines brought us an
excellent selection from around the world and some terrible
jokes. Notes here, as are the delayed July notes from Jean
Smullen's Wines of Portugal.
Memories of the Gulf have faded
rapidly, unlike the impact of the credit card bills. Back to reality.
Coping with Heathrow airport a
couple of times a week has unfortunately dulled the memory of my recent
trip to Slovenia, where I drank (too much of) some excellent wines,
especially the whites. The Sivi Pinot (Pinot Gris) that was
the house wine in most places was generally excellent, as was the Bela
Pinot (Pinot Blanc). I also had a superb sweet Chardonnay, of
which more later, and was lucky enough to try Teran (dubious) and Modra
Frankinja (excellent as well as unusual).
September Preamble meeting Ray McGlynn of
Select Wines from Italy presented 'Southern Italy and the
Islands': A new generation of Italian wine makers is
producing high quality wines from indigenous grape varieties.
Notes here. The
wine tasting and garden
took place in early August and, despite the threatening weather, was a
lively and happy affair. (My barbeque, a few weeks
later, was however a total washout but thoroughly enjoyable too. For
those unfamiliar with the joys of the Irish summer see
photo.) June was the 25th anniversary dinner and no formal
tasting took place; I'll draw a veil over the proceedings.
On Monday 8th May, Sophie Kiang presented her choice of
largely Italian wines with food. John Pierce presented an
eclectic selection of European wines in April, including a few very
rare examples of the best of the old world, especially the '79 and '83
Jean Leon Cab Sauvignon. Earlier in the year we spent some
time with Gerard Dolder in Mittelbergheim, whose charming wife gave us
a very generous tasting and some great food. I think I'll
have to do an Alsace tasting, despite the fact that most of my friends
think that real wine is red!
Françoise Gilley of Terroirs took us to
France and further afield in their examination of terroir at
the Preamble March tasting. At the February Preamble meeting
Charles Searson of Searson’s Wine Merchants of Monkstown presented a
Bordeaux evening with two special treats.
The January meeting featured John McDonnell of
Wine Australia with an update on developments in the Australian wine
industry, followed by his Australian Quiz competition. (Nope,
The Preamble Christmas Extravaganza was
presented by chairman Tony Fahy and former chairman Mark Downes, it lived up to its alternative
title 'The tasting we can't afford'. In November we had a return visit to the Rhone
with the key Irish expert on the region, Pat Smith, after Carol
Cunningham of On the Grapevine introduced us to her selection from the
Rhone Valley, North and South in October.
The September meeting featured
Richard Ecock, now of Dunnes Stores, presenting wines
from Chile, Argentina - and others.
were in South Korea last year, and no, I didn't
know they made wine there either. Most of it is rather sweet,
catering to local tastes used to rice wine. Furthermore, with
the exception of Chateau Mani (named after Mount Manisan nearby), it is
mostly blended from local and imported must. Ch Mani's
Nouveau is probably the best bet for my taste. Majuang also
makes some very drinkable wines. Information is hard to come by unless
you can read Korean, but most wine seems to be made from the local
am conscious that several tasting notes have yet to be
published. It is, as always, a case
of work interfering with my social life. Please bear with me.
from all soon.
Links will be
updated when I
find the time - sorry. There are many new non-wine
links to keep you amused if you have time on your
hands. Lots of new quotations have been added here.
good friend John Kavanagh and his partners Klaus and Lutz (JKL Wine)
are importing German wines from small producers; find them in the links section.
Lots of people
ask about Irish wines; I've been doing the research and will publish
something here soon.
Dukkah recipe is still here.
I am trying to trace the owner of the copyright of a picture called the
Wrath of Grapes (below). It appears to have the name Fisher
on it. All help appreciated here.
About the Wrath of
The Wrath of
Grapes is a resource for the Irish
wine lover with an emphasis on wines available here; local
prices, local suppliers and local interest. It is completely
independent, having no connection with any commercial operations,
although anyone who wants to bribe me with gifts of excellent wine or
large denomination notes in brown envelopes will be warmly
welcomed. I set the site up because, although the web is
awash with information about wine, much of it is not directly relevant:
The prices do not reflect the Irish market and most of the stuff can't
be found here anyway. The websites of our friendly, local
suppliers deserve support but they, obviously, have some slight bias :)
is now in
its twelfth year, with a more-or-less unbroken
series of tasting notes, the world's biggest collection of wine
quotations (as far as I can determine) and other bits and pieces for
your amusement. A revamp is long overdue but is unlikely
anytime soon. Work keeps interfering with my social life.
unashamedly concentrates on content
rather than graphics and it contains some basic
information about wine and wine tasting, a large selection of
occasional special features
and especially notes from the
monthly tastings at Dublin's Preamble Club.
The notes (and prejudices) are mainly my own, with occasional very
welcome assistance from colleagues.
also links to some of the other
wine resources on the
Internet, including wine and health, in case you need an
excuse for imbibing!
I would love
to take advantage of new technology
to enable better searching (e.g. show me all the Italian wines), cross
references, etc., and I want to change the graphics as soon as I can
get permission to use a wonderful cartoon called "The Wrath of Grapes"
(above) that appeared in a magazine about 20 years ago and has pride of
place on my wall. However, pressure of work from the day job makes this
unlikely any time soon.
In case it
hasn't dawned on you, the wrath of
grapes is what you feel the morning after. I hope Steinbeck
would have approved :)
have been asked who first used
"the wrath of grapes". To me it has always been an expression
for hangover and I don't know where I first heard it. I am aware of a
cocktail by that name (3.75 cl. Dark Rum 2 cl. Grape Juice 3 cl. Sweet
and Sour Mix); a book by Sandi Bachom (quotations); another book on the
wine industry by Lewis Perdue; and another by Andy Toper (hangover
companion). It was suggested that it could have been Oliver
Reed, Jeffrey Bernard or John Steinbeck. I doubt that it was
Steinbeck. (The title of his book, by the way, came from 'The Battle
Hymn of the Republic' by Julia Ward Howe, from which his first wife
Carol took the title.) Oliver Reed isn't old enough, so
Jeffrey Bernard, famous for such lines as "I
have been commissioned to write an autobiography and I would be
grateful to any of your readers who could tell me what I was doing
between 1960 and 1974", is the most likely answer.
you. Any and all contributions,
constructive criticisms and, of course fulsome praise will be
gratefully accepted. You can reach me by email from here.
Resource Tasting Notes