The wine also has a back story. The O'Neills (for whom the winery is named) and the O'Reillys were two competing clans in Northern Ireland. Land was scarce and the two warring groups decided that they would race each other, by boat, to a plot of land. Whichever clan reached the shore first, would win the land. The currents were fierce, the rowers were neck and neck when the O'Neills began to slip behind the O'Reillys. One of the O'Neills dropped his oar, grabbed his sword, cut off his hand and threw it to shore - winning the race and the land.
The wine is even more appropriate for the series premiere of Game of Thrones because it is a Rhone styled blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault grapes. I was fortunate to travel to Yakima earlier this month and stop at the Owen Roe winery where a delightful employee suggested the play on words - Game of Rhones.
I promised no spoilers for season six - so true to my word, there are no season six spoilers here; if you are not current up through season four, read no further because there are spoilers. On two occasions, the guilt or innocence of Tyrion Lannister has been decided by trial by combat. In the first season, Tyrion was accused of the attempted murder of Bran. Tyrion, because of his status as a little person, asked for a champion to fight in his place. Ser Bronn, thinking that he would benefit from assisting a Lannister, stepped up to champion Tyrion. Bronn won the battle and Tyrion walked free. In season four, Tyrion is accused of murdering King Joffrey. Oberyn Martell stepped in as Tyrion's champion. Cersei named The Mountain to champion for the throne. While it appeared Oberyn would win at first, he allowed his ego to get the best of him. Instead of finishing The Mountain off, he continues to ask him who gave the order to kill his sister. The Mountain is able to summon up the strength and - shockingly - kills Oberyn (leading to a substantial plot line in season six).
Where does George R.R. Martin get these plot ideas???? Truth is stranger than fiction. Trial by combat was a Germanic method of resolving legal disputes -- a legally sanctioned duel. When two parties were contesting an issue (usually guilt or innocence), and there were no witnesses or a confession, the two parties would fight it out. The winner was right. The practice was used until the 16th century, despite critics who rightly pointed out that many innocent people were convicted solely because they were weak fighters.
Lawyers generally were not allowed to practice the profession of advocating for and protecting the rights of others until the 13th century. As they came into existence, they were able to try and steer their clients away from trial by combat to gain a trial by jury. In some cases, lawyers were able to get the court to ignore the facts that would have required trial by combat. In civil cases, women, children, the disabled, clergy and the elderly could hire a champion to fight on his or her behalf. In cases where a man and woman were the combating parties, the man was required to fight from a hole dug in the ground up to his waist, in theory, to even the playing field. Eventually, trial by combat was outlawed in Europe.
In every profession, however, there are unorthodox players. The legal field is no different. In August, 2015, an attorney from New York demanded to settle a lawsuit where he and his law firm were the named defendants - via trial by combat. He filed a counter suit and proposed to settle that one by combat as well.
The attorney's request for trial by combat was denied in the last week of March in a one page ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Philip G. Minardo. Apparently, the judge agreed with the attorney that the right to trial by combat was not outlawed in New York, stating that the that the power to sanction or deny trial by combat resides within the (state) Supreme Court. See Staten Island Advance, March 28, 2016 (siadvance.com). I was able to view a copy of the Court's ruling which reads as follows: "Motion of [Plaintiff] Luthmann in 150848/15 Luthmann v. Chusid is denied and specifically [Plaintiff's] request for Trial by Combat is denied, although this Court does not deny that such power resides within the Supreme Court. The matter shall ultimately be decided by trial by jury or judge." I am amazed to hear that a judge has found trial by combat has not been outlawed in the United States. This opens a whole new dimension to the practice of law! My imagination is running away . . . . But I digress. Rather than wait for a trial by judge or jury, since his request for trial by combat was denied, the attorney settled his cases earlier this month.