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8th October
Hello. I'm back, having been mainly in the Gaillac wine region over the past months - of which more later. (We've found a few new treasures.) And a trip to Vienna surfaced some more treats.
The next Preamble meeting will feature some Rhônes and Clones from Jus de Vine in what promises to be a very interesting tasting. Check back! If work allows I'll have some more notes from Preamble tastings soon.

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.

Winter Light

1st January 2013

Old and New Wine Bottles

25th December 2012
Happy Christmas. It's been a wonderful season for wines. Apart from the PreambleLebkuchen, Vienna Christmas Market 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
The 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.
We 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
Just 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 both a lot. The Sarrabelle fizz, or methode Gaillacoise, is particularly appealing: my discerning friend 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.
Our 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.
The 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.
We've managed to miss Preamble's October tasting but the Setember one, with Corbally Wines showing off some excellent Burgundy, was very worthwhile. Notes here.

31st July 2012
Good 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
with 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

Preamble 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 an lá ag dul chun síneadh / Agus tar éis na féil Bríde / Ardóigh mé mo sheol. 

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 available here.

31st DecemberWelcome to 2012
Happy 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.  

22nd December
Compliments of the season! Or, you might say, Season'd Greetings. Condiments of the season, maybe? Sorry, I'm a bit giddy today.Season'd Greetings
Preamble 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.

10th September
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, andRed Basil Nuits-St-Georges, this is a budget buster. Not to be missed.
And 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 and smells.

17th July
The 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, completing 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 Sarrabelle Methode Gaillacoise from our favourite corner of France.

24th AprilDaffodils in my garden
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 were 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 one.
At Preamble, Frank Searson guided us through the famed 2000 vintage Bordeaux from his own cellar. Notes soon. 

26th March
Just 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.

19th March
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. Notes soon.
In 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.

23rd December
A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all and may 2011 bring everything that you wish.

My garden in the snow

Preamble's 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.

20th November
Preamble's 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.
We 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!  

6th NovemberAhr Valley, near Bonn
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.

22nd August
Well, 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).

Work, 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 September.

17th March

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 shamrock.

7th March
Mick Harkin is hors de combat 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.
March at Preamble will feature Rhone expert Pat Smyth, presenting Syrah vs Shiraz: Old World vs New World; it promises to be a fascinating session.

8th February
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 here.

1st January
As The 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 more.
Preamble's Christmas 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 The Economist.
Preamble's April 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.
Christmas 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!
Preamble's 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!
Recently 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.
 
November 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.
Preamble's September meeting 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.
My China 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.
The March 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 
In February, 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 featured Chris 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 near Narbonne. (La Clape means a pile of stones in Occitan.)
Preamble's 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, a single estate Chianti Classico Riserva etc. An excellent tasting.  Notes soon.
Looking back, 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. Notes here. 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 and 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.
April's 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). 
At the 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 summer 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!
Sean and 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, didn't win.)
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.
We 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 Camberbelly grape.
I 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.    Notes 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.
My 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.


The infamous Dukkah recipe is still here.     

Help wanted:
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 Grapes
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 :)
Wrathofgrapes.com 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.
This site unashamedly concentrates on content rather than graphics and it contains some basic information about wine and wine tasting, a large selection of relevant quotations, 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.
There are 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 :)
I 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.
And finally...
...over to you. Any and all contributions, constructive criticisms and, of course fulsome praise will be gratefully accepted. You can reach me by email from here.

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