Roz Crowley

Food, wine, travel, music

Winegeese evening with Tomás Clancy

The sculpture room at the Crawford gallery was the first location for a wine tasting and talk about some leading Winegeese families, those emigrants who set up wine importing businesses and vineyards around the world, some of them centuries ago. Moving  later to the House Café of the Cork Opera House in all we tasted six wines to celebrate their history.

Tomás Clancy spoke about wines which are a good example of the success of Winegeese families worldwide with amusing anecdotes and a decent dollop of history easily absorbed from this able speaker, a barrister by profession.

The wines below were tasted in the Crawford and Opera House and were a sampling of the diversity of their provenance. They all have something to offer at different price points, while making an interesting topic of conversation at dinner.  Perhaps if you if you tried hard enough, you might even find you are related to one of them.

El Comandante Chardonnay – Tom Lynch Wines

Tom Lynch was an EU policy analyst when his father died in 2008, having set up the vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina just two years beforehand.  El Commandante is named after his father who was a Commandant in the Irish Army. An easy drinking oak-free crisp, fruity wine, Good on its own or with salads or light fish,  it is available amongst others in Manning’s Food Emporium, Bantry; Bradley’s Off Licence, Cork, Mitchell & Son, Dublin, €12.99

L’Abeille de Fieuzal, Passac-Leognan, Bordeaux 2009

Chateau de Fieuzal, owned by Irish businessman Lochlann Quinn, is a Grand Crus Classé de Graves estate of 48 acres. This wine, out of the Graves sub-region, is the second string of the company, a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. With light oak on the nose and a fresh finish, it has a few edges which will smoothen out over a few years, to yield more of the honeysuckle tones we might expect of this blend. For about €23, try it a treat with seafood dishes (prawn risotto) and poultry with a creamy sauce.

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2010

The story of James Barrett’s journey to buying this estate is long and amusing and the success of his white wine in a blind tasting in 1973 against the best French wines is the stuff of legend. He died recently, but his wine and sense of humour will live on. In his book A Kingdom of Wine, a celebration of Ireland’s wine geese, Ted Murphy shows a photograph of Jim Barrett in his green bow tie. The car park of his winery has a sign saying “Car park for Irish only. Others will be towed away.” RIP. His wine, like himself with a fresh finish, was simply delicious.

Chateau de La Ligne – Barry & Fitzwilliam
Owned by a canny northerner Terry Cross who made his fortune in printing, this chateau produces wine which sell for as little as €10 a bottle, which in recent years has come good in a typical blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Keep a few bottles for a few years and see it develop. At this price in Dunnes Stores, it’s a bargain.
Chateau Leoville Barton, St.Julien – generally available in wine shops
Anthony Barton is one of the gentlemen of wine. He rejoices in his Irish heritage which does back to 1793 when Hugh Barton fled to Ireland during the French revolution. Straffan House was the family home and Chateau Léoville Barton in Bordeaux has been Anthony Bartons’ family home since 1826. His respect for the customer has been in evidence since the recent rise in popularity of his and other Bordeaux high prestige wines, which he has kept at a fair price so that not just the new monied of the world can afford to buy it. This one’s opulent nose and touch of pencil case, typical of the Cabernet Sauvignon of the Bordeaux blend, is a treat with meat dishes – a decent steak is just perfect for it.
Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon –
This Winegeese connection was news to me and comes through the Leoville Barton connection. Ronald Hochar of the Hochar family which started the vineyard is called after Ronald Barton. While over the years I have found this wine inconsistent and a little overpriced, this evening is vowed at it super-ripest and easy drinking best.

Tomás Clancy has a book in the making, and Ted Murphy’s is also still available. Clancy acknowledges Dr.Murphy as the wine historian who unearthed the winegeese connections. He was awarded his honorary doctorate from UCC in acknowledgement of this work. His book A Kingdom of Wine has just 20 copies left, only from

The evening was part of the Gathering programme of events organised by a group of wine enthusiasts including Colm McCann sommelier at Ballymaloe, Beverley Mathews of L’Altitude 51 and Maurice O’Mahony of wine They have a terrific line-up of events planned for the year, including a visit by Fleur MaCree from New Zealand on 16 May in L’Atitude 51, a black tie dinner in Flemings organised by O’Donovan Off Licence on 18 May, a visit by Emma Cullen of the excellent Cullen vineyard in Cafe Paradiso on 28 May, a food and wine ‘extravaganza’ in Mannings Emporium on 22 June and an evening with Pierre Lawton and Ted Murphy in the Crawford Gallery. Further details:


One comment on “Winegeese evening with Tomás Clancy

  1. Pingback: A wonderful evening of wine and the winegeese story with Tomás Clancy « Bringing The WineGeese Home


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