Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under. Plus Wine News in Brief!

Big Bold Zinfandel from Down Under
New to SuperValu Range


“We’re living in an age when great big gobfuls of super-ripe juicy red fruit win a lot of plaudits in the wine world. Well, step forward Zin.” 

The quote is from Grapes and Wines as they introduce their account of the Zinfandel grape. No doubt that Zin is a “big robust” grape and revels in hot climates such as California and South Australia and south-east Italy (where it is known as Primitivo). These two are pretty well balanced, very approachable, and will go well with steak, burger, BBQ.

Nugan Estates started as a broad-based agricultural company over six decades ago but are quite a young wine company, only going into grape growing in 2001. They are now a "veritable giant" according to James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia who also says that unlike some, Nugan "has built its business on quality rather than low prices."

Nowadays, with Matthew Nugan in command, they have a very successful export business and are the 13th largest exporter of branded Australian wine. To mark the launch of the two wines into the SuperValu portfolio earlier in the year, the company confirmed they  are “building on new found determination to further develop and improve the Nugan Estate brand and its legacy”. We look forward to that.



Nugan Langhorne Creek Single Vineyard Zinfandel (South Australia) 2015, 15%, €13 (Was €15.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Eighteen months in oak (new and seasoned French and American) has helped concentration and depth here and rich aromas are also promised.

Colour is dark ruby and, true enough there are intense aromas of jammy fruit. On the palate, it is fruity and juicy, pepper and spice, but this big bold wine is balanced, persistent fine tannins and well integrated oak and the high alcohol all playing a role. A hint of caramel and vanilla add a sweetish note in a good finish. This single vineyard Zinfandel, exclusive to SuperValu, is a great mate for BBQ and burger.


Nugan La Brutta Zinfandel Petite Sirah 2016, 15%, €12 (Was €14.99). On offer from Thurs 18th – Wed 31st October  


Just spotted on an electronic advert “Unleash the beast” on the side of a pitch holding a Premier League game as I was  unleashing this Australian beast, simply by twisting the screwcap. 

Nugan do seem intent on letting us know that Zin is big and bold, especially here where it’s blended with Petite Sirah. This Sirah is not related to Syrah or Shiraz at all; it is the same grape as Durif and grown mostly in California and in other very warm areas such as Australia. The fruits for this one are grown in Langhorne Creek (South Australia) and the Riverina (New South Wales).

Colour is a deep purple. There are seriously intense aromas, mainly plum. Bold fruit flavours rush across the palate, full-bodied, robust and spicy, with smooth velvety tannins that persist through to a good finish. Like ‘em big? This one’s for you.

Some rather humourous bottle notes tell us that La Brutta is Italian for beast, going on to say this beast takes no prisoners and “make no Mis’steak this is a wine to enjoy with MEAT! A wine that cuts the mustard."

The advert on the football pitch also refers to a drink, the Monster Energy Drink. By coincidence, there is a red bull on the front label of the wine but no sign of wings! 

Wine News in Brief

News from Gary Gubbins at Red Nose Wines about his new Rhone Supplier

“Did you know that the southernmost tip of the Rhone Valley is  actually in Costières de Nîmes ( which lies at the crossroads of the Rhone, Provence and the Languedoc ). We are delighted to finally do business with Chateau de Valcombe – they have 6 wines including 2 organic wines. The vineyard is in fact fully organic but only a small section is currently certified. The rest is in conversion and all will be certified soon.

The certified organic wines have a very particular name. No Sex for Butterfly and its all about a vineyard management technique involving pheromones - click on the wines to understand more. The red is 100% Syrah and the white a blend of Rousanne, White Grenache and Viognier. 


Cliff Townhouse
Spend a leisurely, pleasurable and informative Sunday afternoon (Oct 21st) in Cliff Townhouse with Wines from Spain and Susan Boyle, exploring some of the delicious wines of DO Navarra.
Susan will introduce a selection of wines from Navarra, the unique wine region in northern Spain, close to the Pyrenees, where wine has been produced since Roman times. Stretching 100 kilometres from the valleys of Pamplona to the plains of the Ebro river, the diversity of the climate and landscape of the DO help to produce a variety of diverse and different styles of wine. More details here https://jeansmullen.com/WineDiary/Index/1393

Rhone Wine Week takes place from 3rd to 10th November in venues all over Ireland. So if you’re a fan of Rhone Valley wines, keep an eye out for promotions and events. You can check out the website for full details here: www.rhonewineweekireland.com

SPEED TASTING at L'Atitude

The Most Fun Way to Learn About Wine

Friday 16th November 7.00pm 
 
As the October date sold out very quickly, we have scheduled another Speed Tasting for November 16th.   
 
Open to anyone who likes wine, socializing, having fun and, above all, enjoys a challenge.

Here’s how it works: we teach you the basics of how to taste wine and then it’s over to you – you taste 6 wines over the course of the evening – but you’ll be on the move: a different table, a different wine, different co-tasters. And here’s the fun part…..you taste all the wines blind (i.e. we won’t tell you what each wine is) - it’s up to you to work with your co-tasters to try to guess based on the information provided at the start. There’s a prize for the person who correctly identifies all 6 wines. 

Price €30pp - includes Prosecco reception, introduction to wine tasting, taster of 6 wines & canapés.  

The O'Briens Wine Festival - Winter Edition returns and we cannot wait to welcome you and our winemakers back to Dublin and Cork! With over 300 wines to try and over 60 of the world's best winemakers in attendance, this is a wine lover's event not to be missed!

Clear your diary for Saturday 17th November - Sunday 18th November in Dublin at the The Printworks, Dublin Castle and Thursday 15th November in The Clayton Hotel, Lapps Quay, Cork.



Monday, October 15, 2018

Taste of the Week. Greenfield Yogurts


Taste of the Week
Greenfield Yogurts

Greenfield Yogurts are new to me. They are made on a family farm in Killavullen and indeed you can find them on sale at the local Farmers Market though I got this one in Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork.


The yogurts are made from the whole milk from their cows, with no added thickeners, preservatives or sugar; five strains of natural live yogurt are added which create a hell of a lot of “good bacteria”. 

Speaking of sugar, you'll know there are some well-known brands of this type of yogurt on the market and some of these have added sugar. So be sure and check the label.You may read more about the benefits of this product (and stockists) on their website here.

So how do you use this natural live yogurt? Greenfield: “Some of our favourite ways to enjoy our yogurt is at breakfast time. Having the yogurt with Weetabix is a lovely substitute to milk along with a squeeze of your favourite honey and some fresh fruit for example raspberries or blueberries.  Greenfield Yogurts live natural yogurt, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and a sprinkle of porridge! Quick, easy and filling with getting natural probiotics into your body first thing in the morning.”

We’ve also used it, most of the pack, to make a dozen apple muffins, very tasty apple muffins, I hasten to add.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Morning of Comté at Hegarty’s Cheesemakers. In Whitechurch with Jean-Baptiste


Morning of Comté at Hegarty’s Cheesemakers
In Whitechurch with Jean-Baptiste
Ready to go. Cheesemaker Jean-Baptiste

It is 9.45am when I arrive at Hegarty’s farm on the outskirts of Whitechurch, less than twenty minutes north of Cork City. Here, I’m greeted by Dan Hegarty, the frontman for their magnificent cheddar cheese that has been snapped up by restaurants and retail customers alike over the past 16 years or so. For the past three years, he has had the considerable help of French cheese-maker Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin.

Jean-Baptiste had been on duty from earlier that morning and he helps me get my kit on as I start to note how he makes their Templegall, a Comté style cheese, which has been getting sensational reviews over the past few months. 
Savoir faire. Checking the curds, by hand!

The Bordeaux native, who holds a Masters in Agriculture, Food Processing, Marketing and Management, is tasked here with the development of a new range of hard cheeses, including the Comté (similar to Gruyère), speciality cheddar and smoked cheddar.

The focus today though is on the Templegall. The vat, a beautiful 60 year old copper one, is full of fresh milk. The outside is made of stainless steel and temperature controlled water circulates in the enclosed cavity. Patience and timing are key in cheesemaking as is the personal touch, elements all common to artisan food producing. You can have all the high tech gear but a feel for the cheese (in this case) is just as important. Savoir faire is the term Jean-Baptiste uses.
Almost there

He waits until the milk - the culture and rennet had already been added - thickens, judging how quickly his scoop spins around on the surface. As it slows, he knows the perfect moment is approaching. And when it does, he starts to cut the curds. 

The cut for Comtè is smaller than that for cheddar. And he can’t afford delays at this point as there is an optimum window of just four minutes. “You have to do it quickly, otherwise the curd is not what you want,” Jean-Baptiste tells me. The more it is cut the more whey is lost and so the dryer the cheese.
Filling the moulds

And the cheesemaker’s touch is vital here. “You must get it as regular as you can. Too big, you get too much water. Too little could block the mould.”

That done, a paddle attachment starts to spin in the vat and the aim now, as the temperature rises slowly to 56 degrees, is to get those little curds as moisture free as possible. He regularly takes a fistful into his hand, squeezes them to check the moisture. He hands me some to taste. Don’t think he expects me to eat the lot but I do (I've missed my ten o'clock break!), and enjoy it. 
Water is squeezed out as the solids find their place

In the meantime and as the steam rises, we take a look at the stored cylinders of Hegarty’s renowned Cheddar. They are clothbound, it keeps in the moisture, and Jean-Baptiste is delighted with their progress, pointing to the older ones and telling me he loves the signs of mould and mites!

The Comté in France is made mostly from the milk of Montbeliarde cows but Jean-Baptiste says they are not necessary to the process here. “We are making an Irish cheese, so we use milk from Irish cows.” And the cows here at Hegarty’s are Friesians. Comté production in Whitechurch is now winding down for the year as it is only while the cows are out there eating grass that the milk is used for the cheese. “Sileage is not suitable for Comté,’ insists Jean-Baptiste.

The wheels, in their reinforced casings, will stay here for the night.

In the brine
Jean-Baptiste, who plays rugby with a local club, is enjoying “the craic” in Ireland and is amazed how much the Irish love Mediterranean food.

Back to business now as the contents of the vat are pumped into the moulds. The water and the whey are forced out under the pressure and drain away and after a few minutes, during which the cheesemaker is working flat-out, we are left with two wheels full of the cheese solids. Weights and pressure are applied and the wheels are left overnight, during which time the cheese will lose more water.


Hygiene is crucial at every point and now Jean-Baptiste has a lot of washing up ahead of him, even though he has been cleaning up in any spare minute during the past hour or two.

The wheel, which weighs upwards of 40kg, will spend one full day in brine. After that, “you must look after it, wash it every 2 or 3 days as the rind forms. Bacteria will cover the cheese in red and that helps keep moisture in. I don’t want to end up with a cheese with cracks or holes in it!”
A couple of young wheels

Mould forming in the cheddar
So how long will these big wheels be stored for? Nine months is minimum, 12 months is optimum, “18 months, if we can”. That last period though may not suit Dan’s bank manager!

Now I take the gear off and taste a piece of mature comté before leaving. It is exquisite! Very Highly Recommended. Do try and get yours hands on some. I did, thanks to Jean-Baptiste who handed me a large slice of Templegall as we said au revoir!

Brothers Dan and John Hegarty are the fifth generation of Hegarty dairy farmers.  At the turn of the century, they faced a familiar problem on Irish farms. And like many before them, and since, they found a way to diversify and add value by going into cheese production, a solution that allowed both stay on the farm. 









Friday, October 12, 2018

Amuse Bouche


In a proclamation to the Irish people, de Valera urged them to show discipline and to be ready to resist should force be used….
Dublin greeted the Truce with joy.
Crowds flooded into the streets, and overladen trams took tens of thousands to the seaside. Members of the Auxiliary Division commandeered military vehicles to join them. Ice cream vans sold ‘Gaelic ice cream’, and the city’s dealers laid out the fruit and vegetable on their handcarts in patriotic displays.

from De Valera Rise 1882-1932 by David McCullagh (2017). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fota Honey Show 2018. Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Association


Fota Honey Show Oct 2018
The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Association
Local honey

The East Cork Beekeepers’ Association organise the Annual Honey Show at Fota each year. It is held in the Education Centre at the well-known wildlife park. I called in there last Sunday and it was quite an eye-opener.

I was expecting to see lots of honey. And I did, and a lot more besides.  The show opened to the public for a few hours on Sunday afternoon but much more had gone on behind the scenes on the previous day when the honey, and its bye-products, were judged.


And there are many classes, close to three dozen. Three are confined to Cork beekeepers including one for East Cork beekeepers but, in general, there were entries from most of the neighbouring counties, including Tipperary, Waterford and Limerick.


Naturally there were mostly honey classes, including normal honey (eg light and medium), chunky honey (a jar with a piece of the comb in the run honey), full frame honeycomb, container of cut comb, prizes for novices and so on.
Gerry Clancy's prize-winning frame of honey

And then there was some unexpected stuff. Honey-cakes for one, mead (both dry and sweet), polish, various sweets with honey, beeswax (candles etc), even a photographic class. And if you wanted to get into beekeeping, there was advice and examples on show of what you’d need. 

There was also a Commercial Section but Eleanor Attridge of the organisers and herself a distinguished honey judge told me that all the exhibitors, even those under the commercial banner, were small-scale.
Beeswax candles
I was in fairly early so didn’t get to meet too many producers as they were scheduled to come at the end of the afternoon to collect their trophies and awards.

But I did have a good look and came away with a couple of purchases including a Very Highly Commended Honey Cake made by Hilary from Aghada. Enjoying that (left) at the moment! 

By the way, Hillary had to follow the rules here as do all the “competitors”. She was in #25 the Gift class: Honey cake no. 1: Honey fruit cake made with 227g (8 oz.) self-raising flour, 170g (6 oz.) Irish honey, 113g (4 oz.) butter or margarine, 170g (6 oz.) sultanas, two eggs and a pinch of salt. Bake in a 6.5"-7.5" circular tin. Honey Cake no. 2 had more or less the same guidelines except it had no fruit!

There was some honey on sale also and I was delighted to get my hands on some by Ben from Dripsey - haven’t tried it yet though.

Bridie Terry was in touch after the show and said it “was a tremendous success with a widespread distribution of the prizes.”

She listed the main prize-winners as 
“Mary O’Riordan won the supreme run honey. Patrick and Kay Cogan, Mick Lane, Thomas Quigley and Gretta McCarthy all from Co.Cork. 
Tom Prendergast won the best comb honey. Gerry Clancy, Eamon and Mary Hayes from Co. Tipperary. 
Tom O’Brien, Hannah Cooper and Irene Power from Co. Limerick.” 
A winning Comb section

Generally, it seems to have been a good year for honey but beekeepers will not be complacent. Bees are vital and the keepers continue to be anxious about a number of factors such as pesticides (including neonicotinoids, partially banned, which have been linked to declines in bees); the loss of forage from agricultural development, varroa mite pests (which have travelled all the way from Asia to Ireland),  and about climate change.

For more on the status of the Irish bee now, check this Irish Times article here

If you'd like to get into beekeeping, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers are keen to help. For news on courses, most start around this time of the year, don't delay and check the website of the Cork Beekeepers here.





Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Different Worlds but Two Superb Red Wines


Different Worlds but Two Super Red Wines

Domaine Sainte Croix Celèstra Corbieres (AOC) 2013, 14.5%, €29.50 Mary Pawle Wines

Sainte Croix in the Languedoc is owned and run by the English husband and wife team of Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, who have extensive experience of working both in classic French stone ‘caves’ and giant, steel wineries in many parts of the world. From first sight of the unique geology and ‘climat’ here, professional intuition made it clear that it is an area of immense potential, a potential they consistently realise in their wines and illustrated well in this Celèstra, a blend of 50% Grenache (from 1968 vines) and 50% Syrah (from 1984 vines).

It is a dark red, verging on purple; legs are slow to clear, confirming the big alcohol count. Intense dark fruits (plums, blackberries) on the nose, Intense too on the palate, concentrated red and black fruits, spice prominent too. Tannins also in the mix as this attractive wine finishes long and well. Very Highly Recommended.

The name Celèstra is taken from an Occitan word for blue (origin latin caelum, meaning sky. . .). “As a wine with a highly Languedocian profile, it could be said to be from ‘le grand bleu’.” It is an organic wine, unfined, unfiltered. It has been 100% matured sur lie in 300 litre barrels (3-5 fill) for 18 months. Blended and returned to tank for 6 months before bottling. Enjoy!

El Abasto Malbec Mendoza (Argentina) 2017, 13.5%, €16.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This vibrant fruity full-bodied wine is named after an 1983 established market that became also a centre for tango, poetry, and culture.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. Lots of rich red and darker fruit, plus a touch of violet, in the aromas. Juicy and lively, full-bodied, a touch of spice, exceptionally smooth all the way to the excellent finish. Now where’s that steak? Also just the job with selection of charcuterie, cold cuts, firm cheeses, burgers, pasta with red sauce. Versatile is the word! This young very approachable wine is Very Highly Recommended. And it can be served chilled, though you probably won’t need to do that at this time of year!

There are, according to Wines of South America, two main factors that help Malbec thrive in Mendoza. The low rainfall (12” as against 30” Bordeaux) and its timing, falling mostly in the summer, promotes ripening and minimises desease. Second, Mendoza’s wide thermal amplitude (put simply, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures) promotes aromatic development and softened tannins.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Taste of the Week. Glenilen Farm Yogurts


Taste of the Week
Glenilen Farm Yogurts
The Glenilen Farm yogurts, the current Taste of the Week, have long been a long time favourite here. Creamy, delicious, with a good whack of fruit (18%), absolutely no additives, and a joy to dispatch. 


And the bits that I cannot recover from the jar are expertly extracted by the dog who is obviously an enthusiastic fan as well.

They are widely available and I got a half-dozen at the Mahon Point Farmers Market. They do quite a range of flavours: strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, blueberry, a mango & passionfruit, and also a natural.

“Glenilen Farm is an idyllic location for dairy farming. The lush hills of Drimoleague, County Cork offer our cows a rich and plentiful supply of nutritious grass. And they in turn supply us with the rich tasty milk, which has become the core ingredient in all our delicious products.”
Other Glenilen products are: butter, lemonade cordial, clotted cream, crème fraiche, cream cheese and don’t forget their superb large cheesecakes and other desserts! The yogurts I bought were in 140g tubs but they are also available in 500g pots. More info here