Sunday, January 21, 2018

Kinsale’s Engaging Lemon Leaf Café. Contender in this week's Burger Fest.

Kinsale’s Engaging Lemon Leaf Café  
Contender in this week's Burger Fest.



If you are in the Kinsale area and looking for great food in a relaxed atmosphere, serving local ingredients and the finest coffees, teas, breakfast, brunch, lunch and baked desserts, then the Lemon Leaf Café on the Main Street, just three minutes from the big central car park, is the place for you.

You’ll get a big welcome from Tracy Keoghan and from her staff. Tracy has owned and operated the Lemon Leaf since 2010. There are two big rooms here although many customers gravitate towards the glass roofed one, so bright and airy. And when the weather improves a bit, there is an outdoor area too. If you are a regular here, you’ll know all about their Loyalty Card.

A new menu is on the cards from Chef Gavin by the end of January but you can be sure that some old favourites will still be there. The Lemon Leaf had a series of Supper Nights in the run up to Christmas and so successful were these that another is planned for February 17th. Like the others, it will be a single theme (not Valentine’s, I’m told). It will be a set menu, cooked up for you by Claire O’Brien, well-known from her market stall.

The Lemon Leaf is an engaging café, always up to taking part in local promotions. For instance, they are one of Ruth Healy’s Cork Character Cafés (@cuisinecork on Twitter) that, during the past year, highlighted some typical Cork foods, such as Milleens Cheese (April) and Cork’s Summer Bounty (July).

And Tracy has also entered the Lemon Leaf into the national Burger Festival and the entry was on the board when we called so that was my choice for lunch! My Viking Beef Burger was topped with bacon, Jalapeños,  Carrigaline Oak Cheese, Baby Gem, Mayo, Avocado, and Tomato, all in a Kaiser Bun served with hand-cut chips. A big one and a very good one. Will surely be a contender!

We had actually started by sharing another dish from the specials board: Flash-fried home-made Falafel on a bed of mixed leaves, pickled cucumber, grated carrot, pomegranate, and poppy seed yogurt. Hummus too. A delicious warming taste of the East on a cold wet day in Kinsale!

CL went for one of regulars on the menu, a regular that most likely to be on the new menu as well. This was the Warm (we were all looking for heat on the day) Spicy Chicken Wrap: Cajun chicken, roasted red peppers, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes & sweet chilli mayo dip, served with organic mixed leaves. Another delicious dish from the Lemon Leaf kitchen, another happy visitor.

And happier again after a shared dessert, a delicious apple crumble, and a large coffee. They do all the coffee styles here and lots of teas too including green and herbal. 

Breakfast is 8.30am to 11.30am and you may have anything from Porridge (power porridge, that is) to scrambled eggs to Eggs Benedict. How about Eggs Royale? Two eggs, Ummera smoked salmon on Focaccia with a zesty Hollandaise sauce.Light bites and pastries too, including Sausage Rolls with black pudding. You’ll be set up nicely for the morning! By the way, Breakfast or lunch, you’ll find many vegetarian, gluten & dairy free options in this lovely bright café in the heart of Kinsale.

Lemon Leaf Café
70 Main Street,
Kinsale, County Cork, 
Ireland, P17 PN28
Tel: +353 (0)21 470 9792
Open Hours:
8:30a-4:30p Monday to Friday
8:30a-6:00p Weekends

Friday, January 19, 2018

Amuse Bouche

Caciocavallo
He went to the kitchen, opened the fridge, and his heart sank. A little piece of caciocavallo cheese, four passu luna olives, five sardines in oil, and a sprig of celery. Well, at least Adelina had bought some fresh bread. He opened the oven. And howled like a wolf with joy. Aubergine parmigiana, done just right, enough for four!


from The Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano) by Andrea Camilleri.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Old Bank Café. New Eating and Meeting Place in Mayfield

The Old Bank Café

New Eating and Meeting Place in Mayfield

Cork suburb Mayfield has a lovely new meeting place. The Old Bank Café, that the O’Connor butcher family opened last month, is quickly becoming the place to eat and meet in the area. 

It has the field to itself as, amazingly for a place of its size, there is no other café in the area. Why Old Bank, you might ask. Well because the new building stands on the Iona Road site occupied for many years by the Permanent TSB bank. 

O’Connor family member Sinead manages the Old Bank and is open for business from 8.00am. We arrived much later than that to try out the lunch menu! The café was quite full about 12.45pm and, as the first wave of diners left, they were immediately replaced by others. And, as we ate our excellent and well-priced dishes, we could see why it has taken off.

We could have had their excellent Roast of the Day, the healthy House Salad, or their highly regarded honey glazed ham, but we had been tipped off on two dishes in particular.

One, my pick, is their take on Eggs Benedict. The Old Bank Café style Benedict poached eggs come on sourdough toast with hollandaise or with salsa verde and is further enhanced by a choice of slow roast tomatoes, sauté spinach and roast button mushrooms or home cured bacon and slow roasted tomatoes. 

I went for the hollandaise, spinach and mushroom version. It is absolutely superb, terrific flavour and textures, well executed (eggs perfectly poached) and presented. And excellent value at €7.50. Both this and CL’s choice below are available all day (8.00am to 4.00pm).

CL meanwhile was tucking into her modestly named House Dish (again great value at eight euro). This includes crispy home-made potato hash, smoked ham hock, smokey baked beans, poached egg and salsa verde or hollandaise. That hash, the potato is done rosti style, is excellent and lots of flavour come through from the other ingredients.

We were feeling pretty satisfied after that  - they are both large dishes - but were tempted by the pancakes, newly added to the menu. These are American style and are made in house and served with cream, maple syrup or lemon curd. Delicious, with a beautiful texture, and, with a cup of well made coffee, we had no bother in finishing them off. Happy out!

* In the same building as the café, the O’Connor family also have a butcher’s shop and a food hall. See more on the complex here. 





The Old Bank Café
Iona Road
Mayfield
Cork
(021) 453 0541

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Excellent Reds From Karwigs

Teruzzi Puthod Peperino Toscano (IGT) 2014, 13.5%, €19.35 Karwig Wines

From the heart of Tuscany comes this deep-ruby wine. Fragrant for sure, all the way through to the end. In between, you’ll find it well-balanced and satisfying on the palate, tannins assertive, spice much less so. A very pleasant amalgam indeed and Highly Recommended. They also make a lovely white Vernaccia.

The grapes in this blend of Sangiovese and Merlot are grown on the little hills around San Gimignano, well-known for its medieval towers, including the Torre Grossa. Well-known too for its ice-cream which is certainly very good. What I didn't fancy very much was the cappuccino I got in the lovely old Piazza della Cisterna. The wine spends 8 months in barriques, 10% new, and  they say it’s fine for meats and cheeses.

Cà Vittoria Apassimento Gold Release Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €16.95 Karwig

Late ripening and then the harvest is followed by a period of drying in trays. When the grapes are close to being raisins, the wine is made. This Appassimento process increases fruit concentration but leaves enough acidity to balance the rich fruit. Grapes used in this bottle are Negroamaro (60%),  Merlot (25%) and Primitivo (15%).

Gold Release may refer to the fact that this mid-purple coloured wine from Puglia in the south of Italy (the heel) has won a few awards. The aromas, like the colour, are intense, mainly plum, hints of sweetness. 

And that fruit concentration, typical of appassimento, is immediately obvious on the palate, that sweetness too. But there is indeed enough acidity to balance; the tannins still grippy. Overall, a pleasant easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.

Chateau La Bastide L’Optimée Corbieres (AOP) 2012, 14%, €19.25 Karwig
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and has spent some 12 months in Bordelaise barriques. Recommended serving temperature is 16-17 degrees. 


It has a dark red colour, slightly lighter at the rim. Quite an intense red fruit aroma, plus a bit of spice. Intense too on the palate, dark fruit and spice again, ripe round tannins and a long lingering finish. A very pleasant wine indeed and, like earlier editions, Very Highly Recommended. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Taste of the Week . Butter Shortbread by Cookies of Character

Taste of the Week
Butter Shortbread by Cookies of Character

The Cookies of Character stand at the Mahon Point Farmers market every Thursday is well worth a call and it was there that I found these delicious Butter Shortbread, with Pistachio and Cardamom, our current taste of the week.

This is a fragrant and unusual combination of flavours in a chunky all-butter shortbread. It is outstanding, a different level entirely to most of the imported shortbread. The Cardamom is ground and provides a mild flavour and pleasant aroma. The little flakes of Pistachio also play a part in the overall experience as the buttery biscuit dissolves on the palate. Hugely enjoyable.

I got a box at the stall, and a welcome smile, in Mahon for €2.50. Great value. And they have even better value in the bargain corner of the stand. Here, you can get a variety of tempting flavours for just €1.50.

The Cookies are produced by the Régale Biscuit Company in Dunmanway and are widely available. Check for stockists here

Dunmanway, Co. Cork

Tel: 023 88 95 1 55
Mob: 086 086 81 83, email info@regale.ie

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pizza di Cork. And More. Olivo at Cork Airport Hotel

Pizza di Cork. And More.
Olivo at Cork Airport Hotel

A change is as good as a rest. They say. And it worked well for us at Olivo, the Italian restaurant in the Cork Airport Hotel. I was impressed with their contribution to the Cork Gourmet Trail late last year and, armed with a “two main course for the price of one” from that event, we headed out there the week before last. 

Before arriving, I had more or less settled on my mains: Pizza di Cork with tomato sauce, Clonakilty black pudding, crispy bacon, red onion and Ballymaloe relish (€16.00). And I wasn't at all disappointed. It was excellent, a perfect combination of tastes and flavours, amazing how well the black pudding and relish combined. The base was fine and the red onion also played a key sweetening role. Pizza di Cork was a star.
Hake
And across the table, the Nasello, oven baked fillet of hake with roasted courgettes, peperonata and basil pesto (18.00) also proved a winner, proving that you don't need a creamy sauce to get the best from fresh fish.

Olivo is a spacious comfortable casual restaurant for residents and walk-ins alike. There is a bar area, a couple of big screen TVs over the drinks selection (spotted a few bottles there from Torc Brewing in Killarney), a dining area, and an adjoining breakfast space, all sections nicely laid out and lit. The wine list by the way is already on your table - check out that bottle (back and front).

The menu, with a Specials insert, is laid out in typically Italian fashion. You have a good choice of Antipasti and Salads. Pizzas, of course, and also Contorni (sides) which range from a Fresh Garden salad to Hand Cut Fries. No shortage of Pasta dishes either - I was tempted by the Cannelloni. And then there’s meat and fish, including chicken dishes, hamburger, lamb shank and sirloin steak.

We started off with a couple of the Antipasti. CL’s Bruschetta al pomodoro was Tomato, garlic & basil, with rocket & parmesan (8.00). Quite a plateful but easy to eat and delicious. 


My pick was the Melanzane ripiene: stuffed aubergine with mozzarella and sun dried tomato pesto (7.00). Another delicious and surprisingly moist plateful, another substantial starter.

Service was friendly, casual but efficient. Nice spot if you’re in the area and looking for “a change”! And if you want a rest, well then you can stay overnight! Parking, by the way, is free for restaurant customers.

Cork Airport
Co. Cork
Eircode: T12 RPP9
Tel: +353 (0)21 4947500
Email: reservations@corkairporthotel.com


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Miyazaki. Special Every Time


Miyazaki. Special Every Time

Buta Yanagawa Don
It was a cold and wet Tuesday and crossing the city at rush-hour wasn't appealing. But there was ample reward at the end, picked from the Specials Board of Miyazaki. And to make it even better, we managed to get two of the famous six high-stools with a view of the rain-drops on the window and the remnants of rush-hour traffic outside.

That specials board keeps changing. Had I been in before Christmas, I might well have had Salmon Zuke Don, maybe Kisu Ten Don (fried whiting). Though I do think I would have started with the Bora Aria with Karashi Susimo (Grey mullet).
Looking out the window
 at remnants of rush-hour

Tuesday's menu though was every bit as inviting. There is always the usual addition, on a separate board (watch out for it!), of Hot Soup Noodle (Soba or Udon) Dishes, all eat-in only. One, for example, is Beef Soba or Udon (thin beef dashi in warm broth with garnish).

My pick from the Specials was the very top one: Buta Yanagawa Don, thinly sliced pork belly with dashi broth, burdock, onion, shimeji mushrooms, simmered with egg and nori (14.50). A large bowl of deliciousness, a superb mix of flavours and textures, the oh so thinly spread egg, the pork, the greens, the little mushrooms and, of course, the broth. Not bothering too much with the view outside as I concentrated on that.

Ebi Curry Udon

And, to my left, CL, who had been reading all about Takashi Miyazaki in the current Food & Wine magazine, was now totally engaged with her Ebi Curry Udon (Udon noodles in Japanese curry,  with prawn tempura, age tofu, ginger and sesame, also 14.50). She loves those plumb noodles and the dish was further enhanced with a little side bowl of pickled ginger while the heat in the curry was perfect for a girl that grew up nearby when this premises bore the name Yangtze River and was indeed a very popular venue for southsiders making their way home.
Afterwards!

We could see a few customers gathering in the small space, some for takeaway, some waiting for a stool. So we moved on, but not before buying a box of the sushi. “Just a simple one,” our friendly server said. I think it may have been the last one also.

So we paid up and walked out into the cool night, the rain had stopped, and took the opportunity to check the location of Bau Boi (another soutside raid in the planning), picked up the car and headed home
.
The sushi immediately attracted the attention of the dog but, determined as he was, he would have to do without on this occasion. It may well have been a basic Miyazaki but it was well ahead of any other we’ve tried locally, outstanding flavour; ginger, wasabi and soya sauce were all included with the six rolls, all for a tenner. 

We took our time with that and a bottle of Lustau Puerto Fino, a Fino sherry aged  on the Atlantic Coast of southern Spain in a town called  El Puerto de Santa Maria, bought in Bradley’s (Cork) and just the job for sushi!

1A Evergreen Street
Cork
(021) 431 2716
Hours: Tue-Sun 1.00pm to 3.30pm; 5.00pm to 9.00pm. Mon - closed.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Amuse Bouche



They hadn’t finished the champagne, yet Nat had ordered another bottle to go with the starters, brandade of smoked trout for her, fruits de mer in aspic for him. He’d also asked for a jar of caviar on the side……..
The waiter had poured, and departed.
‘Puligny,” Nat supplied, unable to stop himself giving the glass a pompous swirl and sniff. ‘When you dream of France, you’re really dreaming of Burgundy.’


from Eureka by Anthony Quinn (2017). Recommended

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Busy 2017 for Johnny Fall Down. Killahora Orchards Operation Expands.

Busy 2017 for Johnny Fall Down.

Killahora Orchards Operation Expands.
Barry (left) and Dave

This time last year, most of us heard about Johnny Fall Down for the first time. Their Rare Apple Cider was hitting the shelves. And not staying there very long as it was being snapped up.

I first visited the orchard at Killahora, near Glounthaune, last March and met Barry and Dave. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants while Barry is the man that turns the fruit into alcohol. The combination is a natural, has expanded and is expanding. Watch these warm south-facing slopes for more delicious developments.

Then they had over forty apple varieties. Now, on last week's visit, they told me thay have over 114. They also have about 40 pear varieties here, the latest a bundle of young Welsh pears. A similar bundle is on the way from Austria (Barry is thinking schnapps!).

They now have three products available commercially, including the latest edition of Johnny Fall Down, their award winning Bittersweet Cider. They have also created a uniquely Irish Rare Apple Port (Pommeau), and the first Ice Cider created mainly from Bittersweet varietals. 

I came across the Pom’O and the Rare Apple Ice Wine at SpitJacks on Washington Street where they form part of the amazing Cheese and Fortifieds Menu. More details about the Pommeau here .

The Ice Wine which may, in the future, be barrel aged, is made from the juice of their rare apples, concentrated using freezing temperatures and slowly thawed. The resulting beautiful deep and rich must is slowly fermented for a year and stopped before completion, leaving half of the apple sugars intact…nothing is added, so the abv is a low 10.8%.

The south facing land exposed to the Atlantic, “gives us the opportunity to create an infinity of expressions of the land itself, that will surely change year to year, but we hope will retain a familiar style and optimum quality”.
Dave, with his Welsh pears

The pair are hugely enthusiastic about the future, Barry always thinking about the various blends that are possible and that will become possible as the trees mature. 

And it is not just the apples and the pears in their neat lines. The hedgerows around their 30 or so acres include fifteen old crab trees, all with different characteristics that show in the fruit (apple babies don't grow up resembling their parents). 

Even months after the crab crop had been gathered in, there was still enough solid fruit on the ground to taste last week. The first one we sampled was close in taste to a normal green apple, the second on the opposite hedgerow, was much sourer.

And, as if the 15 crab trees (some of them quite large) aren't enough, they have planted other fruits in amongst them. Early days yet! But it’s not all plain sailing. Storm Ophelia did some damage to the established fruit trees in the orchard and one or two in the hedgerow have been chewed by the local wildlife! 
The Future.

OS Maps from 1838 show an orchard in the same place as it is today, with the same old walls bounding it, and the same south facing slopes slowly ripening the best of fruit. The revival is moving forward impressively and with help from Mother Nature! A beekeeper, Mick, has been recruited to set up hives around the orchards and we met him during the visit.


The bees will be helping with pollination. Already though Barry is looking forward to an interesting honey. I think some of it will end up in bottles rather than jars! 

What is also interesting is that the operation has found a natural ally in the mixologists at Cask. They bounce ideas off one another and often find out that two heads are better than one. Recently,  with help from others, they combined to make the world’s first single field cocktail! 
View of Cork Harbour from the Orchard: Fota Island stretches along centre from the left. See its folly (the tower on the point) just beyond the railway bridge on the Cork-Cobh line, both in right hand quarter of pic.
Barry thinks Cask is a marvellous place, one of the best in Ireland and the UK, and was not at all surprised that the McCurtain Street venue swept the boards at the Irish Cocktail Championships.

Dave is just as enthusiastic (and knowledgeable) in his field. Last year, he showed his skill with tongue and groove grafting. While not quite the season for it, this time we got an example of Chip budding which is one of the easier forms of grafting. 

A bud, rather than a shoot, is attached to a rootstock to produce a new plant. With practice, this technique can be mastered by anyone and, as just one bud is needed to make a tree, it is very efficient. Amazing how one tiny bud contains all the genetic material necessary to take over the host.

If there’s a lot going on outdoors, there’s a hell of lot going on indoors. In the cidery itself, there all all kinds of containers quietly getting there. No doubt some “experiments” will be cut short but others will succeed. There are three ex Bourbon casks employed here. We got a taste of one, a very encouraging taste indeed with the promise of whiskey notes to come in some future Killahora product.

So what can we expect next from Glounthaune? An apple champagne, no less! It is underway. Lots of bottles standing upside down in the cool cellar, a 180 year old shed. Just like champagne, the sediment will be frozen in the neck of the bottle, disgorged and then replaced with a dosage (a little sugar). The mind bubbles. 
Beekeeper Mick



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Curious. Orange.The Fourth Wine?

Curious: Orange
The Fourth Wine?

You’ll read that orange wine is like rosé. Not really. Not at all. Many wine novices could start with rosé and like it straight off. If they start with orange, they may never drink wine again. 

I reckon you have to serve a general apprenticeship, a rather pleasant broad-based one like I did, before you are ready for orange, at least the orange I've been tasting the past year or so, beginning with La Stoppa’s Ageno.  Well, I did start at the top as this wine has been declared, by Decanter, as the best orange in the world.

The orange colour of these wines, obtained by leaving the skins in contact with the juice, is not uniform for various reasons to do with varieties, geography and time in contact (weeks, even months). The Ageno above spends 30 days on the skins, the Dinavolina below has had four months of contact, the Baglio just four days!

Essentially they are white wines - both examples below are labelled bianco - but they also have a higher level of tannins, more like a red wine, and indeed can match foods where previously red would have been the only choice. Welcome to the fourth wine!

Baglio Bianco Catarratto Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2014, 12%, €19.50 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.

Bianco is certainly a bit of a misnomer here as this is most definitely an orange wine, a cloudy deep amber in colour, unfined and unfiltered. And Le Caveau say it is a “fantastic introduction” to orange, “both from a flavour and price point of view”.

A nose of baked apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg is promised and delivered. There are strong reminders of a flavoursome dry cider as this wine spreads across the palate. A fantastic concentration of the flavours follows through to a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.


Pairings suggested by the importers are free range pork with apple sauce; a herby roast chicken; and cheeses such as Durrus. Catarratto, by the way, is Sicily’s, and Italy’s, most popular white wine grape.

Azienda Agricola Dinavolo Dinavolina Bianco Vino D’Italia 2013, 10.5%, €21.65 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.

And now, from a vineyard height of 1,500 feet, with no added sulphurs, we bring you Dinavolina, the personal project of Giulio Armani, the winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia Romagna, where Ageno is produced. This “left of centre” wine is a blend of Malvasia di Candida Aromatico, Marsanne, Ortrugo and an unidentifiable ancient local grape.

The amber colour here is clear, unlike the cloudy Baglio. Again there are hints of the apple orchard in the aromas but not as pronounced as in the Catarratto. The acidity is certainly a striking feature, reminiscent of the Basque wine Txakoli.

Fruit flavours are spare but insistent - four months on skins have seen to that colour and the tannins. The finish replicates the palate and one can see how the Dinavolina would go well with the recommended dishes: salt cod; ricotta filled pasta; or hard cheese. Personally, I’d add pork. The wine itself is Highly Recommended.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Taste of the Week. Oriel Sea Salt

Taste of the Week
Oriel Sea Salt

Taste of the Week comes from County Louth and is the Oriel Kiln Dried Sea Salt. It’s Irish, it’s natural, nothing has been added. And it is top class.

 I’ve had the chance to sample the Oriel salts over the past six weeks or so and this particular one, free flowing and fine grained, has appeared on the table non-stop. This mineral rich sea salt has a powerfully smooth taste and allows you to use up to 25% less with no compromise on flavour. It has been endorsed by some of Ireland's top chefs, Ross Lewis of Chapter One among them.

This totally Irish salt has a deeper richer flavour yet is doesn't overpower your dish. Even if you add a little too much, it means more flavour, not saltier. Ed O’Donnell of O’Donnell Crisps: “..the taste profile of Oriel Sea Salt was supreme..”. 

It dissolves and disperses rapidly in recipes. No wonder the country’s chefs are praising it. The chefs will be also be happy with Oriel’s Whiskey Smoked Sea Salt. This has been smoked over Teeling Irish Whiskey freshly emptied 90 year old Nicaraguan Oak barrels to produce a “smokiness that is simply spectacular”. Read Joe McNamee’s hymn to it here.

The third product, all three are available in 250 gram tubs, is their Mineral Sea Salt Natural. This is slightly moist with a powder like grain. “For those who like to pinch.”

Whether you use the Oriel as a finishing or as an ingredient, you’ll be moving on up the flavour scale. It’s a little like changing from mainstream beer to craft - you’ll never go back!

Port Oriel, Clogherhead,
Drogheda, County Louth,
A92 V97C, Ireland.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Three Excellent Wines. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Three of the Best. From Beaujolais to Italy to Austria.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, 12.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines


Fleurie, like all ten crus, is in the east of the Beaujolais region. Here Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.


This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage. Serve at 15 degrees to get the best from this Fleurie. I found it easy to make my mind up here. No need to wait for the second glass - though that did come - Very Highly Recommended.

Loimer Langenlois Loiserberg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (DAC) 2015, 13%, RRP € 23.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online

The first thing I really noticed* about this bottle was its glass closure; plastic is also used in the seal. It is marked trocken (dry) and made by Fred Loimer in the Kamptal area of Austria. Kamp is a river, a left bank tributary of the Danube which it joins near Krems, about 45 minutes north-east of the famous monastery of Melk.

They have been organic since 2006 and admit to having been inspired by the natural scientist Rudolph Steiner. “this has brought us, we admit, criticism from some quarters”. Their wines though have not, on the contrary. You’ll find the typical Gruner characteristics of herb, spice and apple here in this refreshing example.

There is a good yellow colour and a mixed nose of fruity and herbal notes. There is a peppery touch on the lively palate, along with mellow fruit flavours (2015 was a warm vintage), nice acidity too and excellent balance. A mineral character is prominent in a good long finish. Highly Recommended.

* One of the last things I noticed was the cheeky little fellow embedded in the glass closure!


Alpha Zeta Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2015, 13.5%, €19.99 Bradley’s, Cork; JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; McKeoghs, Killaloe; Wine Online; World Wide Wines.

I know quite a few of you are Ripasso fans and this is another fine mouth-watering example of the technique and indeed has been described as a “mini-Amarone”. Grapes used are Corvina/Corvinone (70%) and Rondinella (30).

Ruby is the colour. Aromas speak of cherry and you may note the slightly raisin-ed notes familiar from Amarone. It has a rich concentrated palate, the cherry staying prominent, spice too, well balanced though with a fresh and dry finish, long too. Highly Recommended.