On a Wine Goose chase around a Loop at Dublin Airport

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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I’m on a Wine Goose Chase at Dublin Airport.

Surely I mean Grey Goose (as in the vodka), or Wild Geese (as in the Irish whiskey)?

Nope, for while returning to London through Dublin Airport Terminal 1 after the recent Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, I came across one of the most novel takes on the wine category I have encountered.

If I could have a Dollar for every time I have said airport retailers should make more of their country’s wine heritage I would be a wealthy man. But in all those cases I was talking about wine-producing countries. At Dublin Airport’s ‘The Loop’ shopping zone, Aer Rianta International has come up with a brilliant twist on the theme of wine heritage by promoting those wines with Irish links.

As the son of a Dublin emigrant to New Zealand, I have always been fascinated by the subject of the Irish diaspora (Diaspóra na nGael). Almost 10 million people born in Ireland have emigrated since 1700, more than Ireland’s population at its peak in the 1840s.

Ireland even has a Minister of State for the Diaspora (the word diaspora refers to the movement, often forced by economics, religion or racism, of a population from its original homeland, to settle on a scattered international basis).

The seminal work on the Irish diaspora was given to me by Galwayman Colm McLoughlin, better known as the Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free. It is called The Great Hunger and is written, perversely, by an Englishwoman, Cecil [correct name] Woodham-Smith (if you didn’t know who the Trevelyan is in the line ‘for you stole Trevelyan’s corn’ in the anthemic Fields of Athenry – and I know many young Irish people who shamefully do not – you certainly will after reading this searing book about what many, though not Woodham-Smith, consider a genocide as much as a famine).

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The term Wild Goose or, in its plural form, has become synonymous with the Irish diaspora. In researching this Blog I discovered that the original Wild Geese comprised 30,000 Irish soldiers who left Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, believing they had negotiated a treaty that guaranteed the rights of their people.

As a condition of the agreement they were exiled to France. But after they left their homeland the Treaty was ripped up and replaced by the Penal Laws. These stripped Irish Catholics of their land and removed all citizenship rights. For over a century the French army would include an Irish brigade, fed by a stream of young Irishmen.

I digress, though I think importantly so. The Wine Goose Chase is an ingenious collection of wines with Irish heritage. And you know, I was absolutely delighted to see that the wine on high-profile promotion was from New Zealand. And there lies a story within a story within a story, one I wrote about many years ago on this Blog.

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The display signage for the Wine of the Month promotion for Hunter’s notes: “When Irishman Ernie Hunter arrived in New Zealand in 1979, Marlborough had not even been considered as a wine growing region.” The text [which by the way needs a good proof read -Ed] goes on to say that within five years he was producing award-winning wines and that the winery is now headed by Jane Hunter (below), described as “the most-awarded woman in the New Zealand wine industry”.

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Jane Hunter kept husband Ernie’s dream alive and built on it

That’s true. It’s also a tiny proportion of the real story, one that holds particular resonance for me. The first article I ever wrote for publication (for a New Zealand consumer title called ‘Wineglass’) was an interview with Ernie about the wine offer he was featuring at his inner-city hotel in Christchurch, long before he turned from publican to winemaker.

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Ernie Hunter: Tragic loss

Tragically, five years after his first vintage, Ernie was killed in a car crash – just one year after Hunter’s surprised the wine world by winning The Sunday Times Vintage Festival in the UK with an oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc. That success is widely considered as a seminal moment in the international acceptance of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, now one of the world’s most popular wine styles.

As I noted in my earlier Blog, Ernie’s death happened just after I arrived in the UK, where I was by now eeking out a living as a part-time wine writer. It was an appalling tragedy but not the end of the Hunter dream. His wife Jane took over the reins and has built the label into one of the truly great names in New Zealand wine. How very good to see them in my mother’s home town of Dublin. Ernie would be proud. A Hunter become a Wild Goose.

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Did you know that the famous Bordeaux wine Château Phélan Ségur boasts Irish heritage? I didn’t. The clue lies in the Phélan, of course. Irishman Bernard Phelan (1770–1841) bought Domaine Le Clos de Garamey in 1805 and Ségur de Cabarnac five years later. In Ireland, incidentally, he was a neighbour and friend of Hugh Barton who established the legendary Château Léoville-Barton.
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Michel Lynch, the knight who owned Château Lynch-Bages and was Mayor of Pauillac during the French Revolution, is inextricably linked with the great wines of Bordeaux. The Irishman, born in 1754, devoted his life to improving the wines on his now famous Lynch-Bages property. He was one of the prime movers in the viticultural advances of the 17th century, in particular with the early trials of de-stemming (separating the stalk and pips) before fermentation, which subsequently became widespread in Médoc.
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A flock of wild geese: Château Kirwan to the right is a famous Margaux winery, a third-growth Bordeaux that ranks as one of the world’s great wines. The original Kirwan family were one of the so-called Tribes of Galway, 14 merchant families who dominated the western Ireland city’s political and commercial affairs between the mid-13th and late 19th centuries. To its left is Santa Rita from Chile, Ireland’s best-selling wine brand.  There’s Irish heritage to the fore again with McGuigan wines from the Hunter Valley in Australia. The winery was stared by Owen McGuigan, the son of Irish immigrants, at the end of the 19th century. You’ll recognise Barton & Guestier to the far left. The famous Bordeaux house was founded in 1725 by Thomas Barton, known as “French Tom”, who left his town of Curraghmore in Waterford to work in the wine trade. His legacy has stood for centuries.

Footnote: There’s plenty else to admire about Dublin Airport Terminal 1 too, from ARI’s impressively diverse The Loop offer to an eclectic and often excellent food & beverage offer, highlighted by the outstanding Irish food court, Marqette.

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The excellent food to go outlet/delicatessen Wrights of Howth

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Wow, an honesty box for water purchases. But will people be honest?
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Why of course they will be. Did you ever doubt it?
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Not the most flattering shot (taken on the run to my plane) but the reality of Irish food court Marqette is very good indeed. And commercially it’s flying.

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Home-grown food from Street Feast
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Walk-through wonderland: ARI’s branded duty free and travel retail offer The Loop
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If you think the wine effort is good, wait till you get to the Irish whiskey

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Dublin hendriks bath
Bath-time Hendrick’s gin-style
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Dazzling display: Irish cream liqueur Coole Swan

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The effervescent Candy Cloud store boasts a strong Irish selection

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Dublin butlers
Hot chocolate brand: Another famous Irish name, Butlers is prospering here in cafe form

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From ‘brow’sers to buyers – On-trend brand Benefit is doing well in Dublin
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Now this one stopped me in my tracks. But ‘thinning’ and ‘disappeared without trace’ are two entirely different propositions…

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