• Concannon Winery

    Concannon Irish WhiskeyConcannon Gate
    On the 11th October,2011 Oliver Murtagh, Vice President, Emmet Fitzgerald, Trustee, Anke Hartmann, Member and Andrew O’ Gorman, Secretary of The Irish Guild of Sommeliers met John Concannon, Fourth Generation Vintner  from the Concannon Winery, Livermore, California who was doing some filiming in connection with the Concannon Irish Whiskey at The Palace Bar, Fleet Street ,Dublin.
    .4th Generation: John ConcannonBarrel Room
    John Concannon
    John is a descendant of James Concannon who was one of thousands of Irishmen who emigrated to the USA as part of the Irish 19th century diaspora. “Livermore Valley’s Concannon Vineyard prefers to tell its story with a handshake” and that is how the story of their whiskey was told at The Palace Bar after  introductions by Willie Aherne, third generation of the Aherne family at The Palace Bar.
    The name Concannon as Gaeilge means “Wisdom without compromise”.
    Concannon Irish whiskey is distilled and matured in collaboration with Cooley Distillery, Co. Louth. It is a blend of 100% Irish whiskey mellowed in Concannon Petite Sirah wine barrels for optimal flavour and complexity. “We mellow our whiskey in both small bourbon casks and our own family wine barrels for a minimum of 4 years.”
    John Cashman, Global Brand Ambassador, Cooley Distillery was also present to oversee operations at The Palace Bar.
    On the 23rd September,2011 Andrew O’ Gorman witnessed a large container of whiskey leaving the Cooley Distillery Plc, Riverstown, Dundalk, Co. Louth for the Concannon Winery , Livermore, California.
    This whiskey will be bottled in December,2011 and launched in the USA in January,2012.
    The whiskey was tasted by the 4 of us at The Palace Bar on 11th October,2011.
    Labels of historical interest
    Chateau Y’ Quem label
    Chateau Y’ Quem label: used during prohibition years (1920 – 1940)
    Prohibition wine label
    Prohibition wine label (1920 – 1933)
    Prohibition wine label
    Prohibition wine label (1920 – 1933)
    Muscat de Frontignan
    Muscat de Frontignan: popular altar wine (1920 – 1933)
    Concannon back label
    Concannon back label (1920 – 1933)
    Bottle neck label with federal bond stamp
    Bottle neck label with federal bond stamp #616 (1920 – 1933)
    Original Petite Sirah label
    Original Petite Sirah label (1961)
    California historical label: Concannon Riesling
    California historical label: Concannon Riesling (1979)
    America’s gift to Ireland by President Regan in 1984
    America’s gift to Ireland by President Regan in 1984
    Altar WineApproved Altar Wine

    Wine is one of the two elements absolutely necessary for the sacrifice of the Eucharist. For valid and licit consecration vinum de vite, i.e. the pure juice of the grape naturally and properly fermented, is to be used. Wine made out of raisins, provided that from its colour and taste it may be judged to be pure, may be used (Collect. S. C. de Prop. Fide, n. 705). It may be white or red, weak or strong, sweet or dry. Since the validity of the Holy Sacrifice, and the lawfulness of its celebration, requires absolutely genuine wine, it becomes the serious obligation of the celebrant to procure only pure wines. And since wines are frequently so adulterated as to escape minute chemical analysis, it may be taken for granted that the safest way of procuring pure wine is to buy it not at second hand, but directly from a manufacturer who understands and conscientiously respects the great responsibility involved in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice. If the wine is changed into vinegar, or is become putrid or corrupted, if it was pressed from grapes that were not fully ripe, or if it is mixed with such a quantity of water that it can hardly be called wine, its use is forbidden (Missale Rom., De Defectibus, tit, iv,1). If the wine begins to turn into vinegar, or to become putrid, or if the unfermented juice is pressed from the grape, it would be a grievous offence to use it, but it is considered valid matter (ibid., 2).To conserve weak and feeble wines, and in order to keep them from souring or spoiling during transportation, a small quantity of spirits of wine (grape brandy or alcohol) may be added, provided the following conditions are observed: 1. The added spirit must have been distilled from the grape (ex genimime vitis); 2. the quantity of alcohol added, together with that which the wine contained naturally after fermentation, must not exceed 18% of the whole; 3. the addition must be made during the process of fermentation ( S. Romana et Univ.Inquis, 5th August, 1896). Ref. Catholic Encyclopaedia.hostcmas.jpg (19865 bytes)

    James Concannon and Divine Intervention. James Concannion was born in Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Galway in 1847. At the age of 17 James left Ireland for the USA and worked at various jobs throughout America. When he reached California he was interested to pursue a new venture. It was here that he discovered the Livermore Valley, with its unusual east-west orientation and rocky soil which was strikingly similar to the famous Rhone and Bordeaux winemaking areas of France. James enrolled in the University of California to learn everything he could about viticulture. After a few years of intense study and planning, James Concannon became the first Irish immigrant to make wine in America. He built a beautiful Victorian home for his growing family later that year, and stored his first wines in its cellar in 1884. In his lifetime, James travelled to France to learn about winemaking, to Mexico to introduce viticulture, and to Ireland five times.Altar Wine

    They say timing is everything, but it also helps to have friends in high places. Prior to establishing his vineyard in Livermore, James lived in San Francisco’s Irish Mission District. He became good friends with Archbishop Alemany, a powerful figure in the Catholic Church and a man whose influence would help shape the future of the Concannon Vineyard. Archbishop Alemany suggested that James develop a line of sacramental wines for use in church services. It was a suggestion that proved to be a tremendous blessing.

    When prohibition came into effect in the 1920’s Concannon continued producing a number of wine varieties, Savignon Blanc, Semillon, and a full range of Sacramental wines. Under special dispensation from Archbishop Alemany, Concannon Vineyard was among a few wineries legally permitted to continue operation during Prohibition       (1925 – 1933). Less fortunate vintners were forced to completely shut down.

    After surviving Prohibition and the Great Depression, Joe passed away in 1965 and the next generation of Concannons continued to run the winery. Today, Concannon Vineyard is run by his grandson Jim and exports their wines to various countries.

    John Concannon Fourth Generation is also very much involved in the running of the winery.

    Over the past few years Church members evaluated the possibility to resume the old – time tradition of distributing the Holy Communion in two ways, with the Host and with the Wine. Such an imitative has aroused the interest on a limited but prestigious wine production.Concannon Bunch of Grapes

    Cannon 924 of the Cannon Law provides that the wine used for church ceremonies, the wine so-called altar wine, should be “de gemine vitis et non corrumptum”, namely obtained from grape and uncorrupted. In practice, grape must be intact and nothing should be added to wine, and moreover any type of acidity is prohibited. This genuineness is guaranteed by some provisions under which priests should buy the wine from convents, other religious institutions, or from vine-growers and dealers authorised by the bishop.

    An international seminar held in 2005 about altar wine revealed that one million litres of wine per year are used for the purpose. Such consumption however saw a remarkable fall, equal to about 20%. “the decrease affected above all Europe and in particular Italy”, Roberta Bava sys, a Piedmont producer specialising in altar wines. “This happened both because the number of celebrated masses has dropped and because priests pay less attention to the choice of wines for sacramental use with a growing tendency to use any type of wine”.

    The bishops’ proposal could revive its production and market. In Italy Romagna plays a secondary role in this sector compared with, for example, Piedmont where in Cocconato d’Asti, a study group called “Il Vino sull’Altare (the wine on the altar) was set up in 1987 following an oenology booklet written by Don Bosco. Its purpose is to analyse and promote the production and consumption of wine used during church celebrations. A similar attempt was made in Romagna in 1993 during the February meeting of Tribunato di Romagna which in collaboration with Ente Tutela Vini Di Romagna, submitted a set of regulations suggesting that Albana di Romagna DOCG could be a particularly suitable wine for church celebrations. In fact Cannon Law neither specifies the grape variety nor the colour of the wine. In ancient times, the altar wine was mainly red to recall more effectively the blood of Christ mentioned by the liturgy. Later on, the Synod of Milan in 1565 established the preferential use of white wine because it stains less when it falls on the altar. Today priests usually choose a dry, semi-sweet and sometimes sweet white wine with an alcohol content of about 11% volume. The interest in this market does not lie in its economic value but rather in the prestige granted to those producers who could boast to be “Supplier of the parish of Newport or of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly”.

    Lastly, this would be a way to acknowledge, through the product of an ancient variety how much the world of wine owes to the Church which safeguarded and spread the vine so that wine was always available for the Eucharist. Vineyards were preserved by the religious communities in the Upper Middle Ages when vine growing suffered a general degradation following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Barbarian Invasions.Sacramental Wine

    Written by Andrew O’ Gorman, Secretary of The Irish Guild of Sommeliers .

  • Sommelier Certificate Course September 2012


    January 2015 – There are no Sommelier Courses planned by the Irish Guild of Sommeliers







    Find the champion in your team

    Next 8 week Sommelier Certificate Course commencing September, 2012

    Following the hugely successful training programme launched in October 2010,  The Irish Guild of Sommeliers (IGS) in partnership with the Restaurants Association 0f Ireland (RAI) are delighted to announce they will be running another modular 8 week Sommelier Certificate Course in wine service and product knowledge to members of both organisations. This will conclude with an exam in January,2013. The course  venue will be The Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club,9, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin,2.

    Programme Dates 2012/13

    Training Dates

    Monday September 24th

    Monday October 8th & 22nd

    Monday November 5th & 19th

    Monday December 3rd

    Monday January 7th

    Exam January 21st, 2013

    Training Costs

    Member of both Restaurants Association of Ireland  & Irish Guild of Sommeliers : €250

    Membership of Irish Guild of Sommeliers: €75

    Member of Restaurants Association of Ireland only: €500

    Member of Irish Guild of Sommeliers only: €300

    Non- Member course only: €1000

    Special Offer to non –members: Join both the Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Irish Guild of Sommeliers and be included on the training course for €921.

    If you require further information please contact Karen McBride, ph: 01 6779901 or  email info@rai.ie.

    Application forms available from:

    Kim Leonard, Restaurants Association of Ireland, 11 Bridge Court, City Gate, St Augustine St, Dublin 8

  • Grape Picking

    Vineyards at War

    BY HENRY SAMUEL, in Paris – Daily Telegraph,  London, SEPTEMBER,2011

    The makers of the most expensive Burgundy wines have changed the rule book to make grape-picking by hand compulsory in an attempt to defend the region’s age-old traditions.Afbeelding 101

    The makers of the most expensive Burgundy wines have changed the rule book to make grape-picking by hand compulsory in an attempt to defend the region’s age-old traditions.

    The domains, which say that machines damage taste and are bad for the vines, want other top Burgundy wine makers to follow suit, with the hope of a total ban on machine-picking in the region by 2014.

    The Vosne-Romanee boasts famed vineyards, notably the legendary Romanee-Conti, which produces the world’s most expensive wine, at up to €13,000 a bottle.

    For the past fortnight, thousands of seasonal workers have been toiling under the sun to pluck precious pinot noir grapes destined for Burgundy’s top quality red wines, its grands crus, using methods little changed since Cistercian monks cultivated the land 1,000 years ago.

    The owner of the Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in the Cote d’Or, central Burgundy, has rallied the big five producers in a united front against mechanization.Afbeelding 104

    Louis-Michel Liger-Belair still ploughs his land with a horse – he insists tractors compress the soil too much – and bottles wine when the moon is waning as it improves taste.

    Wine has been a family tradition since Louis Liger-Belair, one of Napoleon’s generals, created the domain in 1815, and the chateaux’s motto states: “As long as man seeks to correct nature instead of listening to her, following her, and helping her, he will be on the road of error.”Afbeelding 032

    So when Mr Liger-Belair saw harvesting machines within the walls of Clos de Vougeot, a celebrated grand cru vineyard dating back to 1330, he saw red.

    “When tourists come here and see machine harvesters in these ancient vineyards, it is an embarrassment,” he said.

    Only a handful of winemakers use machines in the area, as little as two per cent of grands crus producers, but Mr Liger-Belair said these were “terrible for our image”. “When we sell wine, we sell dreams,” he added.

    The machines compress the soil, damage fragile pinot noir grape skins and weaken the older vines when they shake them to make bunches fall, he said. Hand-picking costs € 2,000 per hectare, twice as much as with a machine, and the idea of a ban for all Burgundy grands crus and even the lower quality premiers crus has met with resistance.

    “I’m against banning machines,” said Frederic Gueguen, of the Chablis appellation, 90 per cent of whose white chardonnay grands crus are machine-picked. “Machines have improved hugely since the 1970s, they don’t affect quality and are a fantastic tool. I challenge anyone to distinguish between a white harvested by hand or machine.”

    Faced with such opposition, Mr Liger-Belair is now moving towards the idea of a charter that producers can sign voluntarily to “shame” machine users.Afbeelding 107

  • Masi


    A Tasting Masterclass was conducted by Dr. Sandro Boscaini – President of MASI Agricola accompanied by his colleague Mr. Pier Giuseppe Torresani, Export Manager on Tuesday 7th May, 2013 at the United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2.

    This tasting was kindly  facilitated by Findlater Wine & Spirit Group (Ms. Michelle O’Sullivan, Marketing Manager)

    “Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toll” Lord Byron

    Bruce Schoenfield once declared that  Boscaini is to Amarone what Gaja is to Barbaresco and  Antinori to Chianti

    This tasting was organised by Caroline O’ Dowd, Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street & Member – Irish Guild of Sommeliers. Thanks to Caroline for all her hard work in organizing this tasting.

    Various presentations were made to Sandro and Pier Giuseppe by Mary O’ Callaghan Guild President and Caroline O’ Dow


    Dr.Sandro Boscaini hosted an excellent wine tasting of Masi wines for members of The Irish Guild of Sommeliers at the United Arts Club on Wednesday the 5th October,2011.Dr. Sandro Boscaini, Chairman of Masi

    Dr. Sandro Boscaini

    At the end of the tasting Sandro was presented with a bottle of “The Palace Bar 9 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey” by Guild President Mary O’ Callaghan.

    The following tasting notes were written by Liam Campbell of the tasting committee and organiser of the Masi tasting.

    1. Masi Masianco 2010, a Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo varietals from Venezie IGT 12.8%

    Palest lemon colour. Steely aromas with hint of pineapple core and apricot fruit.  Crisp palate with lemon curd flavours and nettle-tea finish.  Light-bodied and refreshing acidity.

    Pinot Grigio as a varietal style has enjoyed incredible success overseas as an alternative to oaked Chardonnay.

    2. Serego Alighieri Possessioni Rosso 2009 from Veneto IGT 13%

    Youthful medium deep ruby colour.  Perfumed with scents of red cherries. Excellent concentration on the palate of cherry fruits, sandy tannins and typically crisp acidity.

    The estate was acquired in 1353 by a Judge who was the son of the poet, Dante. “Possessioni” means “estate” in an ancient Venetian dialect.

    Varietals: Corvina and a very special clone of Molinara which has a greater depth of colour and intensity of fruit is named after the estate: Serego Alighieri.

    3. Masi Campofiorin 2008 from Veronese IGT 13.5%

    Medium ruby colour.  Perfumed aromas of wild black fruits and luscious cherries.  Delicious ripe flavours of cherry and cranberry fruits balanced by refreshing acidity. Full-bodied with ripe tannins.

    Ripasso, the richer style of Valpolicella uses the still-warm pomace from racked young Amarone added to Valpolicella’s fermenting grape juice.  This addition increases tannins and fruit to allow for long aging and greater flexibility with food.  The Ripasso method was devised by Sandro Boscaini’s father to compete with the popular fuller-bodied and richer styles of Chianti Riserva and Californian Cabernet.  The Campofiorin 1964 was the first vintage of this expression of the Ripasso method.

    4. Masi Amarone “Costasera” 2007 from Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 14.7%

    Subtle and reserved aromas of mossy and raisiney fruit.  Delicious and complex on the palate with a graphite minerality from the single vineyard’s soil underpinning the dried cherry fruit with herbal sage notes.  Typically full-bodied with a spicy paprika finish.

    The Amarone classification started in 1941.

    “Costa” means slope and “sera” means evening.  The five stars denoting the exceptional quality of the 2007 vintage’s label were awarded only seven times including 2006, 1997, 1995, 1983, 1980 and 1964.

    5. Serego Alighieri  2005 from Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 16%

    Still vibrant ruby colour.  Subdued aromas belying the powerful attack on the palate of intense, richly textured cherry fruit.  Gravelly tannins and mouth-watering acidity with a warming alcohol finish.

    From the sloping single vineyard, Vaio Amaron the terraces are supported by dry stone walls and limits production to produce concentrated fruit.

    6. Serego Alighieri  Vaio Amaron 1995 from Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 15.9%

    Medium pale mahogney colour, tawny at the rim.  A complex and mellow bouquet of dried tea leaves and tobacco. Dried fruits and still sprightly acidity with the alcohol concluding on the finish.

    Amarone does not need tannins to help it age.  The combination of the elements of concentrated fruit from dried grapes, the high acidity and the high alcohol all combine to make Amarone an age-worthy wine.

    Amarone is derived from Appassimento, the ancient wine-making method of drying grapes where the best bunches of grapes are laid on bamboo racks late Sept. to early Oct. in the lofts.  Large opened windows provide natural ventilation to avoid humidity and possible rot.  By five to six months the dried grapes are pressed and slowly fermented for about fifty days.  When all the copious sugar has been fermented to dryness, the wines undergo a malolactic fermentation to reduce the high acidity levels.

    Food pairings: red meats, game, quail, roasts and richly flavoured dishes.  Strong hard cheeses e.g. pecorino and parmesan with almonds.

    Sandro Boscaini is the current president of iconic Italian wine producer Masi and widely credited with being the unofficial spokesman of the Veneto, the historic Italian wine region which covers such iconic wines such as Amarone, Valpolicella, Bardolino and Soave. He is the sixth generation of the Boscaini family to be involved in winemaking and an established and respected figure in the world of Italian wines.

    Staunchly rooted in his Venetian upbringing and the history of the area, Sandro nevertheless is an incessant innovator: while constantly exploring the potential of the Veneto region through rediscovering and cultivating ‘lost’ native grape varieties such as Oseleta, Sandro also experiments with oddities such as square barriques, sandlewood and cherrywood barrels, applying ancient Venetian techniques to the New World, and much more. Such pioneering work led to Masi establishing in the early 1980s what is now known as the ‘ripasso’ technique, which today is emulated by many throughout the region.Masi winery at Gargagnago (Verona)

    Masi Winery at Gargagnago, Verona, Italy

    This paradoxical outlook is manifested best in two philanthropic movements established by Sandro in recent years: The Masi Foundation, which funds and awards Venetian locals for their contribution to the cultural heritage of the area, and the Masi Technical group, which engages in on-going scientific research into all aspects of wine production, from soil to glass, involving collaboration and sharing research with leading Italian universities. Sandro has also been instrumental in the establishment of Vinitaly in the 1960s, and the Amarone Families interest group in the 2000s, the latter which aims to protect the heritage and prestige of the Veneto’s iconic wine style, as well as being the prime mover behind leading promotional bodies abroad such as the Istituto Grandi Marchi (‘Institute for Leading Brands’) and ‘Excellence from Italy’.

    Masi’s wines are the tangible result of Sandro Boscaini’s  love for both tradition and evolution, where the passion for a place and its advancement shine through in every glass.

    Findlater wine and spirit group are agents in Ireland for Masi Wines and they supplied the above wines for this tasting.

    email  info@findlaterws.ie  or 01 404 7300

    Alexander Findlater, the great-grandfather of the present Alex Findlater, established Findlaters in 1823.

    In 1852 the Findlater Mountjoy Brewery in Dublin was established and Findlaters involvement with wine goes back as far as the 1800’s. John Fitzgerald, Alex’s Great-grandfather certainly seems to have enjoyed a visit to Bordeaux in 1877, as he took with him the equivalent of €13,000 for “expenses”!

    Findlater’s were keen to develop their brand name, and amongst Cadbury’s chocolate, Jacob’s biscuits, Nestle condensed milk and Heinz canned goods, Findlaters developed their own extensive range of Findlater-brand tea, jams, jellies, furniture polish, coffee and sugar. Indeed almost all wines and spirits were bought in cask and sold under the Findlater label and guarantee. One could buy Findlater bottled Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Lafite, Leoville Bartons and many more.

    Over the last 200 years Findlaters has become a veritable Dublin institution, with shops across Dublin, many of the original Findlater stores are still standing in Blackrock, Dalkey Rathmines, and the Gables in Foxrock.

    Findlaters have a long history with Cantrell and Cochrane (C&C) going back as far as 1905 and in 2002; Alex Findlater sold his company to the Group.

    Further information

    Brolo di Campofiorin 2001, Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Brolo di Campofiorin 2001
    Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grapes: Corvina (80%), Rondinella (20%)
    The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and plum followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, licorice, cinchona, cocoa and cinnamon. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. A well made wine. Brolo di Campofiorin is produced with the double fermentation system “Ripasso”, part of the Corvina grape is dried for 15 days, ages for 36 months in cask followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
    Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Hard cheese

    Valpolicella Classico Superiore dell'Anniversario Serego Alighieri 2001, Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Valpolicella Classico Superiore dell’Anniversario Serego Alighieri 2001
    Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grapes: Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%), Molinara (10%)
    This wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and plum followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, cocoa, mace and pink pepper. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. A well made wine. This Valpolicella ages for 18 months in oak casks, 6 months in cherry wood casks followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
    Food Match: Roasted meat, Broiled meat and barbecue, Braised and stewed meat

    Grandarella 2001, Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grandarella 2001
    Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grapes: Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso (75%), Carmenère (25%)
    Grandarella shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and plum followed by aromas of violet, tobacco, vanilla, black pepper, licorice, menthol, cocoa, cinnamon, mace and coriander. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. A well made wine. Grandarella is produced with dried grapes, ages for 24 months in cask followed by at least 4 months of aging in bottle.
    Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese

    Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Vaio Armaron Serego Alighieri 2000, Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Vaio Armaron Serego Alighieri 2000
    Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grapes: Corvina (65%), Rondinella (20%), Molinara (15%)
    The wine shows an deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of plum jam, black cherry and blackberry followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, vanilla, tobacco, pink pepper, cinnamon, clove and cocoa. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry and plum. A well made wine. This Amarone ages for 3 years in oak casks, 4 months in cherry wood cask, followed by at least 5 months of aging in bottle.
    Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese

    Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano 2000, Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano 2000
    Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grapes: Corvina (75%), Rondinella (20%), Molinara (5%)
    This Amarone shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, plum and black cherry followed by aromas of blueberry, black currant, violet, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, mace, chocolate and cinnamon. The mouth has very good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. A well made wine. This Amarone ages for 3 years in casks followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
    Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese

    Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe 2000, Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe 2000
    Masi (Veneto, Italy)
    Grapes: Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%), Molinara (5%)
    This Amarone shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, black cherry and plum followed by aromas of dried violet, blueberry, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, pink pepper, cocoa, cinnamon, mace and hints of leather and enamel. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balance by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry. A very well made wine. This Amarone ages for 3 years in cask followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
    Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese
  • Cheese


    Ireland’s biggest farmhouse cheese-maker has just got bigger. The Cashel Blue dairy that has been churning out cheese by the barrel for the best part of 30 years hit a ceiling a few years ago in terms of the volume it could produce. At that time, the dairy was producing five tonnes of cheese a week.

    However, that is all set to change following a €6m investment in a new dairy that was opened last week.

    Designed by family member and heritage architect Brian Grubb, the Grubb family hopes to eventually double production to 500t a year.

    It’s a far cry from that day in 1984 when Jane Grubb cut her first Cashel Blue curds in her mother-in-law’s copper preserving pan in the kitchen of Beechmount House and then matured it in their earthen floor cellar.Beechmount 1942

    Jane had been experimenting with several different types of cheese since she and her husband, Louis, had decided to move back to the family farm in Co Tipperary in 1978.

    Louis had spent the previous years studying agriculture and botany and working as an agricultural adviser in the west of Ireland.

    When he returned home, the farm was still being run as a mixed enterprise, with a few hens, pigs and a range of livestock.

    Deciding to heed the advice he had been dishing out to farmers for the best part of a decade, Louis set about establishing a dairy herd.

    Using her experience garnered during her time as a chef, Jane set about capturing the fresh, rich and creamy qualities of the farm’s milk and experimenting with different styles of cheeses.

    Despite morphing into a business with an annual turnover of €2.5m over the years, the enterprise remained true to its farmhouse credentials. Indeed, the company’s phone continued to ring directly into Jane and Louis’s kitchen until late last year.

    The new dairy is located just a stone’s throw from the farmhouse and the Grubb’s continue to pride themselves on the fact that the company remains family owned and operated.

    Jane and Louis’s daughter, Sarah, along with her husband, Sergio, have now taken over the day-to-day management of the business.

    In addition, Ireland’s only blue sheep-milk cheese, Crozier Blue, is also made at the Grubb’s premises with milk from a flock belonging to their cousins, the Clifton-Browns.


    The Grubbs are also proud of the fact that the average length of service among their 25 employees is more than eight years.

    More than 50pc of the cheese is exported, mostly to Britain and the USA, although there is growing interest in the product in France, Italy and Germany.

    The cheese is available in SuperValu, Superquinn, Tesco and Dunnes Stores, as well as through cheesemongers Sheridans and Lago’s in Cork.

    Speaking at the opening of the new facility, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said: “Cashel Blue fits so well with the Harvest 2020 targets for the milk sector and for specialty foods.

    “The Grubb family are to be congratulated on their vision and commitment to achieving their plans. I am particularly pleased to see completion of an important project supported under the Dairy Investment Fund, which is operated by Enterprise Ireland with funding from my Department.”

    Cashel Blue was the first softer-style blue cheese to be made in Ireland or Britain. In latter years, this style of cheese has become popular and is now a cheese category in its own right called Modern British Blues.

    In turn, this has spawned increased competition for the Grubb family, but Cashel Blue continues to hold a premium position in the market, winning its third consecutive gold at the Nantwich International Cheese Awards in the summer.(September, 2011)

    – Darragh McCullough

    The Association of Farmhouse Cheesemakers

    During the late 1970’s a few enterprising dairy farmers commenced making farmhouse cheese. For at least a quarter of a century before this cheese-making in Ireland had been exclusively confined to large scale factory production mainly concentrating on cheddar production and mainly owned by the dairy cooperatives. One exception to this was a small scale production operated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mosy at Lough Glynn in Co. Roscommon. However, even they had ceased producing cheese by the late 1970’s, by 1983 there was a small number of farmers successfully producing a range of cheeses between them. The National Dairy Council which has responsibility for promotion of dairy produce in Ireland realised the potential of Farmhouse cheese production and facilitated the forming of the Irish Farmhouse Cheese-makers Association in 1983 and helped its development in the earlier years. Among those initial founding members were the following all of whom continue to produce cheese to this day:

    • The Steele family who produce Milleens.
    • The Willems family who produce Coolea.
    • Jeffa Gill who produces Durrus.
    • The Berridge family who produce Carrigbyrne.
    • The Ferguson family who produce Gubbeen.
    • The Brodie family who produce Boilie.
    • The Maher family who produce Cooleeney.
    • Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry who produce Gabriel and Desmond.

    Cheeses & other founding members have either subsequently ceased production or sold on their businesses.

    Combining creativity and innovation with respect for traditional craft simplicity, Irish cheesemakers are at the forefront of a new and diverse culture. Their cheese offers the complex world of international retailing and foodservice a simple product which appeals to today’s consumer. Traceability of Irish farmhouse cheese extends not just to a region, but family, to a small valley, even to the slopes of a mountain. Irish farmhouse cheese gives you an opportunity to offer a food to your customers which encapsulates the essence of the brand that is Ireland her lifestyle and her pleasant environment. Give your customers a taste of the salty winds of the atlantic, the soft rain on mountain slopes, the lush grasses of the hills and valleys, the delicate wild herbs growing in rocky fields, the wild and the gentle Ireland.


    Bord Bia has recently produced a guide and wall chart for the Irish Farmhouse Cheese sector. The guide includes useful background information on Ireland’s farmhouse cheesemakers along with descriptors for each of the cheeses and references to seasonality, where applicable.

    Wall Chart

    The wall chart was designed to accompany the booklet and is ideal for foodservice and specialist retailers.  It is intended that the guide and wall chart will act as educational tools for industry.

    To order a hard copy or for bulk orders please email Eimear O’Donnell –eimear.odonnell@bordbia.ie1982 the early days of cheesemaking on Beechmount Farm

  • Drinks Intenational

    Drinks International last week published the “World’s Most Admired Wine Brands” which is an industry poll of the world’s best regarded wines.

    Findlater Wine and Spirit Group distributes

    3 of the Top 10 wines!

    ·        Torres (#2)

    ·        Antinori (#4)

    ·        Marques de Riscal (#9)

    The global wine community was represented by masters of wine, consultants, winemakers, critics, retailers, educators, buyers and analysts.

    Judges – who were all offered the option of anonymity – included: Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, global wine director of Direct Wines; Dan Jago, category director of beers, wines and spirits at Tesco; Charles Metcalfe, author, wine competition judge and speaker; Stephen Rannekliev, analyst at Rabobank; Neil Barker, former commercial director for UK and Ireland for Foster’s Group.

    They were asked to choose up to five wine brands – with which they had no association – using the following criteria:

    –       Wines should be of consistent or improving quality

    –       They should reflect their region or country of origin

    –       They should respond to the needs and tastes of their target audience

    –       They should be well marketed and packaged

    –       They should have strong appeal to a wide demographic

    Supplement editor Graham Holter said: “Drinks International’s Most Admired Wine Brands project was conceived as an opportunity to salute the producers whose products have done the most to put regions on the map, to popularise wine drinking and to spread best practice throughout the industry.”

    “We feel this is the most thorough and democratic exercise of its kind, and a fascinating glimpse into the way the international wine industry regards its leading producers.”

  • Ken Behan Australian Tasting

    The Irish Guild of Sommeliers Australian Wine Tasting

    On Thursday 15th September Ken Behan hosted an excellent a tutored tasting of Australian wines for members of The Irish Guild of Sommeliers in Dublin.

    Ken Behan, Guild member, on completion of his WSET Diploma last year won the prestigious Australian Scholarship.

    He spent 2 weeks earlier this year visiting many Australian vineyards.

    He presented some wines he tasted while in Australia and gave information on the wines along with the background of the people behind the label. The following is a list of  the wines and those who donated some of them:

    1. McWilliams Mount Pleasant “Elizabeth” Semillon 2005 Hunter Valley.
    2. Wakefield Riesling 2009 Clare Valley
    3. Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir 2008 Yarra Valley. Timo Mayer of Mayer Wines, Yarra arranged the bottles of his 2009 close planted Pinot Noir from his UK agents. It is available from Le Caveau, Kilkenny.TIMO MAYER, CLOSE-PLANTED PINOT NOIR
    4. Bowen Estate Cabernet Savignon 2009 Coonawarra which was donated to Ken for this tasting when he was in Australia by Emma Bowen of Bowen Estates in Coonawarra.Label-2009CabernetSauvignon-Small
    5. Langmell Orphan Bank Shiraz 2008 Barossa – supplied by Curious Wines, Cork.
    6. Pfeiffer Rutherglen Muscat, thanks to Emily and Joe Karwig, Karwig Wines, Cork who supplied this wine on behalf of Chris Pfeiffer.

    Ken Behan

    This tasting organised by Catherine Griffith WSET Dip.

  • Tasting

    Tasting Techniques- Ref WineOnLine.ie
    There is no mystery to tasting wine. Most people can become excellent tasters with just a little practice and by following a few basic ground rules. You will find here the correct structure and basis of appraisal which can be applied to all wines – it’s simple and it’s fun.

    What you will need…Viticole Tasting Glasses 7.6oz / 215ml (Pack of 6)

    Proper tasting glassesISO Tasting glass - 6 pack
    A box of six standard ISO tasting glasses, available from most good wine shops is a modest and invaluable investment. These are designed to maximise the bouquet (nose) of the wine.

    Good light
    It is impossible to appreciate the colour characteristics of a wine in poor light. A bright room with a white tablecloth or any white background is ideal

    A sense of smell
    Don’t worry if it’s not great at first – it will improve with practice. Avoid wearing perfumes/after shave etc. – they spoil it for you and for everyone else.

    Some company
    Wine is for sharing and a small group of friends is an ideal way to reduce cost and spread the enjoyment.

    Start with four or six straightforward varietal wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc etc. If you have a small group let one person select and buy the wines and split the cost or rotate the purchasing.

    Pen and paper
    Always write a note, no matter how short or uncomplicated. You don’t have to read it to anyone but it’s great to look back on for reference. See our sample tasting notes.

    A keen sense of enjoyment
    This is what wine is all about. It is a social creature that is there for our enjoyment. We just need to remove some of the mystique that surrounds the subject.

    The approach to tasting…

    Arrange your glasses in a row, marking them from 1 – 6 etc. from left to right. Pour all the wines to fill approximately one third of each glass – never fill the glasses. Serve the whites lightly chilled but not too cold as this masks the aromas. Reds should be at room temperature and, if possible, opened one hour beforehand – longer if they are more serious wines. Always taste from white to red, from dry to sweet and from young to old. Allow ten minutes per wine and approach your tasting as follows:

    Tilt the glass against your white background and look at the wine. See if it is clear with no obvious haze and comment accordingly. Check the colour – in whites it can go from almost water white to deep straw yellow, depending on style and age, and in reds from light cherry red, through deep ruby to almost mahogany brown. Note a colour and see if it changes between the core (centre) and the rim – this is often an indication of age.

    Give the wine a swirl (that’s why you didn’t fill your glass) and a good sniff. Does it smell clean – fresh, floral or fruity, honeyed, earthy, stalky, vegetal, oily – these are all characteristics of different wine styles, which you will learn and identify as you progress. Watch out for acrid aromas, sour or vinegar style, excessive mustiness that can indicate a wine is out of condition, corked or simply past its best. Many mature quality wines can assume very complex aromas which take time to understand and appreciate, so start with young fresh varietals and work up from there.

    Taste the wine, swirl it around your mouth, swallow a fraction and spit the rest (you can enjoy a drink after the tasting). The first discernible factor is whether it is dry, off dry or sweet on the finish. This requires a little practice as fruit concentration or ripeness can sometimes be confused with sweetness. Most varietal wines are nowadays vinified dry – if in doubt check our wine database and read the section on vinification*.

    The next important consideration is acidity. All wines require acidity as otherwise they will taste flat or flabby. Acidity is that prickle you get on the side or your tongue after you swallow – a type of drool. It should be there, so comment on it. Tannins are present and are a vital component of red wines. These are generally noticed on the gums and roof of the mouth and have a drying effect. Try a sip of cold black tea to demonstrate a tannic effect.How to grip the tasting glass

    Fruit is next and should be there in abundance. It could be gooseberry or green apples in a Sauvignon, tropical and pineapple in a ripe Chardonnay, soft blackberry and cedar in a mature Cabernet etc.

    What you find is what you get and your description is important to you alone as it will help you to identify the varietal in future tastings. Drawing in a little air before spitting highlights the alcohol content of the wine and can merit comment if pronounced. Most still dry wines fall into the 11.5% – 13% alcohol category with some notable exceptions.

    Having viewed, nosed and tasted the wine and noted your observations, you should now draw your conclusions. Is the wine well made? Are the components in balance? Is it drinking well now or will it improve with time? What is the quality level? Tasting a wine with the label exposed is cheating a little, as invariably you will write your note to that label. Try covering the labels – a blind tasting – it is not as daunting as it seems especially in the company of like-minded friends. www.wineonline.ie

    Dimensions of ISO tasting glass