About Me

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Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm a Master of Wine (MW) having passed in 1997. I opened a wine shop in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library and this is my personal wine blog. There should be no conflict of interest between my work with The Wine Library and the opinions expressed herein but I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article in re the ethics of wine trips and writing. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy since 1990. From June 2013 until May 2017 I was the Retail Manager for The Wicklow Wine Company. I was a member of the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events, Trips, and Governance Committees. Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fit for purpose...



Are Harpers wine blogs fit for purpose?
No. Not a bit, judging by a recent example, namely one entitled “Is the Institute of Masters of Wine fit for purpose?” by Mr Stephen Forward. The main reason for my negative response is that he states the Institute (IMW) is an elitist club, accessible only by invitation and is not fit for purpose. He further states that IMW is not relevant to the modern wine industry.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

From Botticelli to Bond…



We did a lot on Saturday – too much to detail but here's the headlines.

Who ever heard of...



Early Saturday morning, drag yourself out of bed, put on suit (battledress all day as no time to change before tonight’s dinner), struggle to café for breakfast, feel refreshed (just), move on, find seat and ask yourself if you want to sleep or do a tasting of 46 wines?
But then…start with a pinot gris from the Valle d’Aosta and wow! where did that come from? Then a red made from the well known fumin grape (?) and the next thing you know you’re happily smiling as you taste one more new grape after another…
Old and well known such as trebbiano but being made into really good wines then new to me varieties such as schioppettino, tintilia, centesimino, mantonico, magliocco, timorasso, croatina, frappato, carricante and many more. I blame Jancis – it’s obviously a plot to sell more copies of J3… we all wanted to dip into it during the tasting!
Some stunning wines – centesimono is a red wine that basically tastes like gewürztraminer and there are only 20 Ha planted. Somebody found this old vine many years back and planted cuttings. A few other growers did the same and then got it DNA tested, discovering that it’s unique. Not knowing what it was they called it after the guy who first found it and whose nickname was “centesimono”!
Eventually, struggle back to the auditorium but enlivened and uplifted – what a revelatory tasting. You may be tired but when you get real quality allied to interesting and unknown wines the effect is amazing. Tiredness dissolves and happiness evolves…

A magical mystery tour



At the end of the day we were broken up into small groups to visit individual properties in Tuscany. We had a long, very long, drive to visit Fattoria Felsina in Castelnuovo Berardegna and it was worth it.

From past to future via the present…



The next three sessions covered a huge range of topics. The first, moderated by David Gleave MW covered the changes in Italy over the past 60 years. Marchese Piero Antinori started by giving us the background to the revolution which occurred in the 1960s and ‘70s (largely due to his pioneering spirit). Alberto Tasca d’Almerita and Maurizio Zanelli explained how changes have occurred in Sicily and Franciacorta respectively. The latter region is only about 50 years old, even wine has been made there for centuries (by the way, Piero let slip the first night that his family had been living in Florence for only 900 years so we were getting a really broad perspective). Gaia Gaja then gave an excellent viewpoint on how to move forward, based on her father’s determination to change the perception of Piemontese wines.
The next session was geek heaven (I was happy!) as it was about wine research. Some of the best wine researchers in the world gave an overview of their work – Peter Godden of the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) (and also ace nebbiolo producer); Hildegard Heymann of University of California Davis (UCD) and a long-time friend; Hans-Reiner Schultz of Geisenheim University, who has taught a number of Irish students; and Cesare Intrieri, Professor of Viticulture at the University of Bologna). The subjects are too technical to cover but there is a remarkable degree of work being done on a huge range of topics.
The final session of the day covered aspects of wine business with an impressive panel comprised of Christian Seeley of AXA Millesimes, Rajeev Samant of Sula Vineyards in India, Rowald Hepp from Schloss Vollrads and Oscar Farinetti of Eataly. Again, time constraints meant we barely got into the meat of the discussion but overall it was thought-provoking.

A new world of wine



Session 2 opened Friday’s programme, exceptionally well moderated by John Hoskins MW, took up the topic of climate change and how it affects the world of wine. The panel consisted of Prof. Greg Jones, a climatologist and winemaker from Oregon, Dr José Voillamoz, a geneticist and one third of J3 (the authors of Wine Grapes – Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW being the other two-thirds), Christophe Salin, President of Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) and Frank Cornelissen a winemaker on Etna.

The Symposium starts…



After a lovely morning exploring the streets and sights of Florence the Symposium started with a tasting of sparkling wines from Trento in the gardens of the Palazzo dei Congressi. Our first full session was about the role of different media in communicating with consumers.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Walk the talk...

MWs know how to make wine, right? Hmmm.... good question, brilliantly answered at yesterday afternoon's tasting after the first session of the IMW Symposium in Florence.Some 20 winemakers presented 36 wines from 9 countries and there were some superb wines on taste.

What a lucky band we are...

What you are looking at is the Madonna and Child with six Angels, by Botticelli. why on a wine blog? Because at dinner tonight, hosted by the Chianti Classico Consorzio for delegates at the Institute of Masters of Wine's 8th Symposium in Florence this painting was on display in the Palazzo Corsini.