Wednesday, November 25, 2015

California Cheering. Star Reds: Predator and Rhiannon

California Cheering
Star Reds: Predator and Rhiannon

Rutherford Wines Predator Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, 14%, €25.99
(Stockists: independents including D6 Wines, Donnybrook Fair, Clontarf Wines, Matsons Cork & Bandon, Ardkeen Waterford.)

The cup that cheers comes from the California, not quite from the West Coast but from inland Lodi, known locally as the Capital of Zinfandel mainly because there are some two thousand acres of Zinfandel old vine planted here.

Colour of the Predator is violet and so so bright and healthy looking. The berries are prominent in the inviting aromas. Colour and aromas may well lead one to believe this is a lightweight. But the first attack, rich and full of flavour, announces that this a serious wine. Aged in French and American oak, it has fruit and spice and fine tannins too, a delightful balance and a lingering finish and is Very Highly Recommended.

You don't see Zin very often around here but you have more than likely heard of it. It is the red grape of California, even if it apparently came from Croatia via Italy (Primitivo). Wines from the old vines have more flavour and intensity. For a Californian viewpoint, check here.

The Predator refers not to some large monster of the place but to the humble Ladybird (Ladybug in Lodi). This little bug is encouraged in the vineyard and rewards the winemakers by feasting on the destructive aphids, one of many eco-friendly strategies adopted by Rutherford Wines.
Speaking of feasting, they recommended trying it (the wine, not the Ladybird!) with short ribs or a juicy burger. My tip (from experience!) is Poulet Basquaise.

Rutherford Wine Rhiannon 2012 red (California) 13.5%, €25.99.
(Stockists: independents including D6 Wines, Donnybrook Fair, Clontarf Wines, Matsons Cork & Bandon, Ardkeen Waterford.)

This is a blend of Petite Sirah (44%), Syrah (42%), and Barbera (14%); proportions can vary from vintage to vintage. The Petite Sirah is a half brother of the Syrah and the Petite refers to its grape size.

Deep ruby is the colour and there are quite intense aromas (cherry, blackberry). Rounded fruit flavours in the palate, tannins too; it is smooth and elegant with a lush mouthfeel, beautifully balanced and with a long finish. Continuous pleasure from vibrant start to refined finalé. Complex, yet so approachable. Very Highly Recommended.

Rhiannon was a Celtic goddess - magical birds and horses featured in her portfolio - and she is used here “in homage to our family’s Welsh roots”.  Use it to accompany grilled meats and chicken. Divinely (of course!) delicious as a glass on its own.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Taste of the Week. St Gall Cheese.

Taste of the Week

St Gall Cheese
Fermoy Natural Cheese Company is a small family farm run by Frank and Gudrun Shinnick. The farm uses raw milk from their Friesian cows to produce several varieties of cheeses, yogurt, kefir, labneh, and raw milk. Gudrun learned her cheesemaking skills in her native Germany and later in Switzerland.

St Gall, it is said, was an Irish monk who brought cheese-making skills to Appenzell in Switzerland. And this Fermoy cheese, available at On the Pig’s Back in the English Market, is based on a recipe for the Swiss cheese.

St Gall is hard and dry, with a pale golden colour and scattering of small holes. In the mouth it is smooth with a creamy sweetness, a very lovely taste with a slight herby flavour. A delightful cheese and our Taste of the Week.

I certainly enjoyed my few slices at lunchtime but the guidebooks recommend using this cooked hard cheese in fondues and sauces. You might also consider grating it in recipes which call for grated gruyere. St Gall is a good cooking cheese as it keeps its flavour well when melted.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Suggestions. Gin, Whiskey and Wine

Press releases

Ireland’s First Cask Aged Gin

Blackwater Distillery have launched Ireland’s first aged gin. 
Blackwater Juniper Cask Gin which goes on sale this week has rested in casks made from juniper wood for at least thirty days. The barrels are specially made for the West Waterford distillery and because juniper trees aren’t very big, they can’t be larger than 50 litres. 

The Juniper Cask Gin contains the same 12 botanicals found in the company’s award winning Blackwater No.5, though here they are different proportions. The sweeter roots like liquorice are increased so the gin isn’t overpowered by the astringent juniper wood. The result is a copper coloured gin, complex and aromatic with plenty of character and a wonderful long finish.



Peter Mulryan
Blackwater Distillery
Unit 3 Cappoquin Enterprise Park
Co Waterford, Ireland


A Christmas Collection
Whiskey and Wine

Have yourself a very whiskey Christmas!

Have yourself a very whiskey Christmas this festive season with some cracking gifts for the whiskey lover in your life.
From Single Malt to Small Batch to mini gift packs and distillery tours, Teeling Whiskey has a gift to suit all tastes and budgets. All of the below is available to purchase from the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, as well as good independent retailers; The Celtic Whiskey Shop, James Fox’s and Dublin Airport to a name a few.
Whiskey lovers should also check out the Teeling Whiskey Distillery which opened its doors in June. The first working distillery in Dublin in over 125 years, it offers daily tours and has extended its opening hours for the festive season. What better way to round off an afternoon of Christmas shopping?
1.      Teeling Whiskey “Revival”- RRP €100 - €120 – brand new to the range, this Single Malt Irish Whiskey was specifically bottled on a limited edition run to celebrate the launch of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery. This whiskey is a 15 Year Old Single Malt which has been fully matured in ex-rum barrels.
2.      Mini Trinity Pack – RRP €18 –the Trinity pack includes all three of Teeling Whiskey’s non-aged portfolio - ideal for whiskey lovers and those who aren’t sure which is their favourite tipple but would love to sample them all over the festive season. It includes the Teeling Irish Whiskey Single Grain, Teeling Irish Whiskey Small Batch and the Teeling Whiskey Single Malt. There’s a different finish in there for everyone!
3.      Small Batch Gift Pack – RRP €45 - For those who know their whiskey and like to enjoy it in the comfort of their own home, TWC also have a special Small Batch Gift Pack which comes with two  stylish Teeling tumbler glasses.
If you know someone that’s a fan of the whiskey and history, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery offers brilliant tours running daily. The tour itself involves a walk through the exhibition space which brings you through the history of whiskey in Ireland, then venturing to the inner workings of the distillery where visitors can experience the heat and sweet smell from the stills and witness the whiskey making process first hand. Gift vouchers for the distillery are available online from and in the distillery on Newmarket Square.
If you would like to book your Teeling Whiskey Distillery experience now, you can do so by calling +353 (0)1 531 0888 or via email on
For more on the Teeling Whiskey Company and its award winning Irish Whiskeys,
Try a little Heritage


To celebrate its 290th anniversary, Barton & Guestier launched Héritage N°290, the Ultimate wine brand and an innovation in the world of wine!
For almost 300 years, Barton & Guestier has been excellent at vinifying, ageing, fining and shipping the best wines from France. 290 years ago, these wines were those produced at Margaux, Lafite, Haut Brion... The cellar masters were adding their final touch to the wine and Barton & Guestier's 1st cellar master, Germain Rambaud was shaping the best wines of the 18th century.
Barton & Guestier has been sucessful in keeping the tradition and continues to select, make and ship the best wines from France.
In 2015, inspired by the spirit of the B&G founders, winemaker Laurent Prada is bringing Héritage by Barton & Guestier, the 1st brand to offer consistency in quality, in price and in availability to winelovers worldwide. Like the great Cognac, the most exclusive Whiskies, the most illustrious Champagne, Héritage is non vintage to offer consistant style and quality.
More about the wine:
Héritage N°290 offers a rich wine, full of character just like the 2 founders of B&G.
  • Vineyards: Northern of Languedoc, south west side of the Rhône valley, between Nîmes & Alès
  • Winemakers: Partnership between B&G winemakers team, led by Laurent Prada and Philippe Nusswitz, Sommelier-winemaker in the Cévennes area, best sommelier of France in 1986. Philippe worked for B&G in the 90's and he is one of the founder of our famous Wine Connaisseur program created in Château Magnol.
  • Varietals: Blend of Syrah (80%) and Grenache (20%)
  • Vinification: De-stalked grapes - daily pumping over - long maceration in concrete vats (3 weeks)
  • Ageing: French oak barrels for 6 months
  • Classification: AOC Duché d'Uzès.
Tasting notes:
  • Dark red colour with violet highlights.
  • Rich nose developing intense black fruit aromas (morello cherry) and spices. On the second nose, violet notes appear.
  • A wine with a harmonious structure, balance, mixing intense flavours of fruit and toasty and vanilla hints.
  • Food & Wine pairing:
  • Perfect with lamb, duck, beef, dark chocolate, strong cheeses and spicy dishes - Best at 18-20 °C.
  • Good ageing potential for 5 to 10 years.
The packaging
Heritage comes in an original bottle, with a capsule supported by a strong B&G branding and a label design based on the personality of its founders featuring their embossed portraits with a pearly white varnish to bring a touch of modernity and the brand name Heritage N°290 in black varnish.
Heritage is available in personalized carton outershippers of 6 x 75 cl.
B & G are represented in Ireland by Richmond Marketing


Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron from Masi Becomes the First-Ever Venetian Wine to 
Make the Wine Spectator Top 10

Masi’s Amarone Classico, Vaio Armaron Serego Alighieri 2008, is the first wine from the Venetoto be included in Wine Spectator’s “Top 10”, the most eagerly awaited list in the wine world.

The result was unveiled last week by the prestigious wine magazine, which put this emblematic wine from Valpolicella in 8th place with a score of 95/100.

Commenting on the achievement, President of Masi Agricola, Sandro Boscaini, said, “This is the first time that a wine from the Veneto has reached the Olympus of the world’s 10 best wines.

"This is proof of the potential of our territory and of its most historic and representative wine: a unique product sometimes jeopardised by the politics of production – or rather over-production – and low-end market orientation.

"This achievement confirms how our land is naturally suited to high quality production, without any compromises.”

Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron is an  Amarone Classico that Masi makes in collaboration with the Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante. This multi-award-winning wine with a noble history back to 1353, which already received 95/100 points from Wine Spectator last April, now enters the firmament of great icon wines with territorial provenance.

Masi is exclusively distributed in Ireland by

Findlater Wine & Spirit Group //

Sunday, November 22, 2015

L’Atitude Hosts The Menu at Pieta House Fundraiser

L’Atitude Hosts The Menu at Pieta House Fundraiser
Joe's very happy with help from Derek (left) and Yoann (L'Atitude)
It was a good night in L’Atitude 51, with Joe McNamee (The Menu) and Leslie Williams (Examiner Wine Correspondent) in command, Joe in the kitchen, Leslie pouring a selection of wines. And all present, customers, L’Atitude owners and staff, joining together in supporting Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide.

Pieta House offers One to One counsellling, Family support, Self/Family/Friend referral, and Free professional therapy. Pieta House in Cork is at Highfield Lawn, Model Farm Road and the phone number is 021 434 1400. See the contact details for other areas at
Beaujolais bán
Back to Joe and Leslie who gave us a great evening, good food and good wine and a large measure of craic, all made possible by the staff at L’Atitude and the sponsors. Check out the list below, a list that includes many of the top local producers.

Bubbles were served as we arrived. Not just any bubbles. Ours came from the Wiston Estate in the South of England. This Blanc de blancs is very highly rated and produced by Limerick winemaker Dermot Sugrue. The same bubbles also made an second appearance, perfectly accompanying the Oyster dish. There was a choice here as the Oysters came complete with a shot of the new premium vodka Kalak.
Leslie in action
Have to say O Risal by Terras Gauda has been one of my favourite Albarinos for a while now and I was delighted to see Leslie pour it when the Chicken and Dillisk broth arrived.

Thursday of course was release date for Beaujolais Nouveau and we were treated to a natural one. “This is from the Gamay grape, a wine for pleasure. So drink it and be happy,” exhorted Mr Williams as he poured. He is always full of surprises and one was his introduction of a white Beaujolais, quite a beauty too, made from Chardonnay by Jean Paul Brun.
Harty's Oysters
And soon we would have another unexpected twist from Leslie when he poured a Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2012 Vintage Port to accompany the Beef Brisket. A lovely dish and a gorgeous port but did they go together? Opinion was divided!

No such divide though with the next pairing which saw Longueville House Apple Brandy matched with Tarte Tatin. A natural!
Tuna by Sally Barnes
And then a sad moment as we clinked glasses of Riesling in remembrance of Joe Karwig who died recently. The Willi Haag 2004 Riesling Spatlese, only 8% abv, was a terrific match with the Smoked Durrus Dote and the crackers from Sheridan’s.

Still not quite finished. An espresso cup of Golden Bean Coffee Halambo AA (custom-roasted for The Menu himself) was my finalé while CL went for the Kingfisher Teas Moroccan Mint Green Tea with Honey, a sweet drop indeed. And further sweetness at hand too as plates of Yoann’s Muscadine Truffles made an all too brief appearance.
Beef brisket (O'Mahony's Butcher)
L’Atitude 51, Union Quay, Cork
Thursday, November 18th, 2015

Miso & Saffron Butter, Sourdough Bread

Chicken, Dillisk, Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers

Bare Nekked Harty's Oyster/Harty’s Oyster, Kalak Vodka, Honey, Black Garlic Lime Mayo/
Rye Crisp, Mustard Crème Fraiche, Pickled

Cold-Smoked Loin of Tuna, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Leaves, Radishes

Beef Brisket, King Oyster Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Leek, Radish, Cavelo Nero

Smoked Durrus Dote, Sheridan’s Brown Bread Crackers, Garden Cherries & Black Pepper

Tarte Tatin, Vanilla Ice Cream

Golden Bean Coffee Halambo AA (custom-roasted for The Menu)
Or Kingfisher Teas Moroccan Mint Green Tea, Honey
& Joann’s Muscadines Truffles

KARWIG’S Carrigaline, Marcus Gates
LE CAVEAU, Kilkenny, Pascal Rossignol
WINES DIRECT, Mullingar, Fionnuala Harkin
TAYLOR’S PORT Porto Chris Forbes

Joe Harty, Harty’s Oysters, Gortnadiha Lower, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Kirsti O’Kelly, Silver Darlings, Corbally Road, Limerick
Patrick Shelley
Lucy Deegan & Mark Cribben, Ballyhoura Mushrooms
Eoin O’Mahony, O’Mahony’s Butcher, English Market, Cork
Alan & Valerie Kingston, Glenilen Farm, Drimoleague
Declan Ryan, Arbutus Bread, Mayfield, Cork
Derek Hannon, Greenfield Farm, Knockraha, Co Cork
Tom Clancy, Ballycotton Free Range Poultry, Ballycotton, Co Cork
Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery, Castletownshend
Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese, Durrus, Sheep’s Head, West Cork
Bryn Perrin, West Cork Garlic, Enniskeane
Jane & Richard Graham-Leigh, Cookies of Character, Dunmanway
Marcus Hodder, Yum Gelato, Crosshaven, Co Cork
James Scannell, Knockmealagula Orchard, Ovens, Co Cork
Marc Kingston, Golden Bean Coffee Roasters, Ballymaloe
Mico & Colm Hassett, Kingfisher Teas, Co Wexford