“Gentil is an old Alsace term, revived by the Hugel family, winemakers here since 1639. It is a blend of noble grapes. It is gently dry, round and pleasingly aromatic. It is an ideal introduction to Alsace wines.”
That is what it says on the back label and I found it pretty accurate. Colour is light green, pale yellow, very bright. And it is aromatic, mainly floral. On the palate, it is fruity, not overly so. It is fresh and fleshy. Dry, gently so, as they say. Highly recommended.
The grapes are hand harvested and the blend is Gewürztraminer (11%), Pinot Gris (18), Riesling (16), Muscat (7), Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc (48).
The closure is DIAM and you may read about this method here.
Nothing is left to chance by the Hugel family, whose winegrowing tradition in the very centre of Alsace goes back to 1639. The Michelin Wine Regions of France gives the demanding details: “Meticulous harvesting and wine-making methods include the absence of fertilisers, hand-picked grapes, ruthless selection of stock and voluntary restricted yields.”
Sounds pretty severe but one of the result is this Riesling gem.
This is a bright wine, with a mainly straw colour with hints of green. The nose is fresh and fruity and on the palate it is beautiful and fresh and absolutely dry. A lovely, lively example of the variety with a citrus tinged finish. Very Highly Recommended.
American Pale Ale, 7.5%, 75cl bottle, €7.99 Bradley’s
Dark amber colour and a really bitter taste. Sufficient initial head soon reduces to a thin lacy cover. A really good balance of malt and hops (which they grow themselves). The bitterness doesn’t make your mouth pucker but it is obvious enough in the dry finish. Good body, made for food, and should perform ably at the table. Maybe that’s why I served it in a Reidel glass!
Tipperary Brewery White Gypsy, where Cuilan Loughnane is owner and brewer, intends this ale, one of a series of four beers, as a food beer and Cuilan says this is great with spicy dishes and grilled chicken. So you might well see it in restaurants in the near future and that would be no bad thing.
Well done to Margaret Smith and Goodall’s on publishing A Modern Irish Cookbook in double quick time. Well illustrated and uncluttered, it is packed with recipes provided by dozens of bloggers and it neatly divided into sections: Light Bites, Brunch, Dinner, Bread and Sweet Things.
Lots of us don’t like Raw Oysters but have you ever tried them grilled. Zack has just the recipe for you: Grilled Oysters with a Bacon and Blue Cheese Crumb. Many eye catching pics in the book and one features Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Hollandaise by Donna.
Lots and lots of Dinner recipes including Potato and Scallion Strudel with Local Pork and Apple Velouté by Fritz, the chef proprietor of County Down’s Strudel Bistro. From Kildare’s Kenny’s Kitchen comes a tasty looking Sausages with Lentils.
Some really promising looking bread recipes including the famous one by Avril of Rosscarbery Recipes titled: Cheddar, Stout and Black Pudding Bread.
Hard to resist the Sweet Things, especially the Plum, Cardamom and Almond Cake by JensKitchen and the Beetroot and Orange Blossom Fudge by Kate from Fenn’s Quay, known as FQChefess on Twitter.
I even got roped in – hard to say no to Margaret! You’ll find my Marinated Mushroom Salad on Page 9. The trick here is to skip the marination, entirely possible if you live in Cork. Just go to your local market and buy a jar of the delicious marinated mushrooms by Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, remove the top and pour them out onto your salad. Top class and no bother at all!
But do take a look at the book. Check it out on the top right corner of the screen and, remember, that proceeds go to two charities, including Cork’s own Penny Dinners!
Time for Port
I’m partial to a glass of Port at any time of year but know that many prefer it during the winter season and particularly at Christmas time. Some of you will have a favourite but, if not and even if you have, why not try the Taylor’s First Estate Reserve available at €11.99 from Bradley’s in North Main Street. It comes in a full bodied traditional classic style and is an excellent introduction to the Taylor’s style.
It is blended from young red wines and then mellowed for several years in oak casks and is a lovely after meal drink. Use it on its own or as a match with a salty cheese. The Taylor Port website is a very enjoyable one, with lots of information laid out in a simple clear way – see the entertaining section on Port traditions, for example.
My current coffee is the most recent offering from the Robert Roberts’ Club and is a relative rarity in that it comes from Panama.
Gareth Scully says that coffees from Panama are few and far between and are highly sought after in the US and Germany. “Rancho Gotta Coffee Estate has been producing specialty coffee since 1985 and now produces solely Arabica coffee. The harvest is all done by hand. Rancho Gotta Coffee was one of the few coffees used at the 2011 World Coffee Tasters Championship in the Netherlands. I roasted this one to a medium level which is always important to make sure all the flavours in a coffee like this come through.”
“The medium roast compliments all the unique flavours, with strawberry, peach and dark chocolate notes. Among other things, are hints of blueberries as it cools. An incredible body to this coffee with a butterly feel to it too. Poetic license I know, but another great example of what specialty coffee should taste like….. Enjoy!”
Marcal, Penedes 2010, 12.5%, €8.49, Curious Wines.
This is a lively
little gem. The initial feel is almost creamy and then you note the lively
fresh citrus fruits, though with sufficient acidity. An excellent wine from the
Catalonia area and so well priced. Recommended.
Use it as an aperitif
or with fish and salads. Got that off the label! The labels are really well
designed. They are not large but give all the necessary information (in a few
languages) in a clear and precise way.
The grape varieties in
this wine are Xarel-lo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and the producer website
Digna, Fairtrade Chile, 2010 Gewurztraminer Reserve, 13.5%, €8.99, Bradley’s
Nose here is aromatic,
floral. Quite a pleasant flavourful mouthful with an excellent dry finish. Full
bodied with those tropical fruits prominent yet it finishes dry. Well balanced
and fair trade to boot and a good one to start with if you haven’t tried Gewurz
Ideal for shellfish (particularly
recommended for oysters) and most fish dishes. Good price. Recommended.
This superb wine has a
colour of pale straw with an exotic aromatic nose. The palate says great! An
immediate thumbs-up. A mouthful of fabulous flavours from the Beautiful
Country, exotic to the North Atlantic palate, and blessed also with a terrific
indisputably, I think, the top standard for New World SB and this Tinpotis one of the best from the region. Well done
to Fiona Turner (right) whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Electric a few months
back. Congrats too to Liberty Wines for supplying us with such a gem. A bit pricier
than the others but Highly Recommended!
Hennessy’s in Cognac have a room that they call Paradise as it contains much of their very old brandies. I reckon the title could easily be applied to Bradley’s Off License in North Main Street. Here, they stock virtually every drink you can call for and, besides, are great supporters of the local craft brewing movement.
Take cider for instance. They are one of the few, if not the only store, to stock the relatively new Stonewell Cider which has taken off very well indeed. The Stonewell is made by Daniel Emerson in Novohal and now has a rival from Mallow, from William O’Callaghan of Longueville House.
I’ll let apple expert Con Traas, owner of the Cahir Apple Farm, talk on the subject he knows so well. “Both make excellent ciders. William’s is full of traditional cider apples, which makes it a real West Country type cider, as it would be known in the UK. Daniel’s is less tannic, but also excellent. If you get the chance to try either, I would highly recommend them.”
And if it is beer that you’re after, then Bradley’s is the place. There is a wall of beer here, over one hundred craft beers from these islands and further afield, including local notables such as Eight Degrees Brewing and Dungarvan Brewing and sometimes including the limited run specials (such as that fantastic Shandon Century Extra Stout) from the Franciscan Well just across the river.
All kinds of wines on sale here also and you are sure to find something you like. Maybe the NV Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato, the low alcohol wine that is taking Australia by storm. If you fancy a sherry, I can recommend the Lustau range, everything from Amontillado to Oloroso to PX.
And then there are the spirits. No, the place is not haunted, though it was established in 1850. I was in there recently, looking for a gin. I was shown quite a few but, in the end, settled for Bombay Sapphire, my old reliable.
And here’s a neat one. After purchasing the gin, I was presented with a tonic, made especially for gin and containing some of the same botanicals as the spirit. The jury is out as far as I am concerned but if you want to try it, it is called Fentiman’s, available in Bradley’s. Of course!
There is something of a study on the best tonic for gin here.
Never know what you’ll find when you visit Bradley’s in North Main Street. A bit of a sweeping statement so let’s adjust to something more like the truth: “I never know what I will leave with when I visit Bradley’s.”
Called at the weekend with a simple enough mission: to replenish my stock of Stonewell Cider and also to add the sweet PX to the Oloroso and Amontillado already bought from their brilliant Lustau sherry range.
That was easily accomplished, all in stock. But I also left with the 8 Degrees Brewing Company’s Knockmealdown Porter and that was the first thing I tried out. It is the latest addition to the Mitchelstown based brewery’s range and follows two well received ales.
So this is the first porter. It is black (as you might expect!), rich with a chocolatley flavour and well balanced (some old world bitter hops were used). It leaves, all too soon, with a longish dry finish. I like this one, another reason to call to North Main Street. Will have to get a bigger stronger bag! Maybe a porter to carry my porter. Bottle size is 33cl and the ABV is 5%.
Had been traipsing round town looking for Port glasses, without success. Tried TKMax as a last resort. They didn't have them either but did have sets of two Riedel wine glasses at the knockdown price of €15.00. Bought a couple of sets and tried them out over the weekend with a couple of Spanish reservas. But that’s another post!
“Here's a bit of a treat and a bargain to boot,” said Michal Creedon of Bradley’s (North Main Street) as he introduced his latest offer: a bottle of Taylor’s First Estate Reserve Port at €9.99.
Novice port drinkers can do no better than to begin here: First Estate is a soft and glorious mouthful. It is an outstanding vintage character blend, made at the very first property purchased by the company, Lugar das Lages, in 1744. Rich, fruity and elegant, it is aged for four years in cask and is ready for drinking immediately.
As enjoyable before a meal as after, they say. I’ve tried both ways and it is true. Really nice and a great price. But Bradley’s, who have a huge range of spirits, beers and wines, have a string of other quality wines on offer for less than a tenner. Check out this list.
Botter Prosecco €9.99 Masseria Pietrosa Salice Salentino €9.99 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir & Louis Jadot Macon Lugny both €9.99 Antinori Santa Cristina & Orvieto, both €8.99 Marques de Riscal Tempranillo & Rueda white, both €8.99 Curio Bay Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) €7.99 Montes Reserva range (Cabernet, Merlot & Chardonnay) all €6.99.
The long established North Main Street shop has recently began selling drink of another kind: loose leaf tea, just like the old days.
Black Teas include Assam, Darjeeling Singtom, Earl Grey Blue Flower and Black Chai.
Green Teas available include China Organic Mao Feng and Jasmine Superior.
Pu-erh, Rooibos, Herbal and Fruit teas are also included. For more details, check here
Got a good nose for that those strange things the experts find when
they sniff a sample of wine? No wine in Little Buddha’s in McCurtain Street but
you could certainly give your sniffing "muscles" a workout in this treasure trove
of teas and coffees from around the world.
Called in there today, after a longish absence, on the lookout for some
Pu-erh, the black Chinese tea. They had at least six on the packed table (must
have been about 100 types altogether).
Lifted the lids on the big jars and
sniffed. Some were very flowery (you could see the petals and stems) and in the end I settled for some Shu
Pu Erh and some Pu Erh Pomegranate and Nettle.
The first is a four year old loose black tea, from the Menghai district
in Yunnan province, the second is 79% tea to which have been added nettle
leaves (7.2%) and pomegranate seeds (1.3%).
I let slip that I had been drinking branded varieties of Pu Erh. The
lady was rather shocked. “Oh, those are very weak.” She warned. “These are much stronger. For the
morning, not for the evening.”
They also have a big selection of flavoured coffees and lots of
accessories. If you can't get into town (to give those sniffers a test), then
the next best thing to view the website.
Man does not live by beer alone so next stop was Daily Bread, just a few
doors up, where I bought a lovely Country Loaf. The young lady behind the
counter while plying me with a sample of their breads along with some tasty
Spanish ham told me they had recently taken over the shop and would have some publicity
material available shortly. I’ll let you know.
O’Brien Chop House are well known for their Curry Nights but there are some
big differences on July22nd
as the event is being held in Ballyvolane House and is in aid of charity. Get
the details here.
CHIP DRY EXTRA DRY WHITE PORT, 20%, (Bradleys, North Main Street)
This is a rather rare, in these parts anyway, white port. But is has a
77 year history, having been first introduced, as a style, by Taylor’s in 1934.
It is made in exactly the same way as regular Port but from white grapes.
Taylor’s claim that it is the original extra dry white aperitif port.
Don’t let the many mentions of dry put you off – it has a crisp dry finish but
it is some distance away from its Sherry counterparts in terms of jaw-locking!
Indeed, it is quite fruity, both on the nose and on the palate, the mild mellow
aromas coming from its aging in seasoned oak vats.
Even the white is a bit mis-leading, as the colour of mine was close to
Really glad I took a chance on this one. Chilled it down well and used
it as an aperitif with a small bowl of marinated olives from Provence. As you
know, there is no shortage of olives in the English Market (and in some Farmers
Markets) these days. Toasted almonds are also recommended as an accompaniment
or just have it on its own.
The producers also promote it as a long drink, in a big glass with ice
and tonic. Not too sure about that but different strokes for different folks!
Now the shop is well known both as a specialist off-licence and convenience/grocery store. The business may have changed but the treats go on, the latest coming from a group of artisans, most if not all members ofGood Food Ireland.
Bradley’s carry the most extensive range of wines, beers, spirits and liqueurs available in Cork. “That’s right," says the store's ever present Michael Creedon. “Apart from the brands you expect to find in a quality off-licence, we also carry those you just can’t find anywhere else! Furthermore, if we don’t stock what you are looking for, we also specialise in sourcing your requests.”
“Maybe you are looking for a wine for your wedding, or that special bottle for a big occasion. Possibly a chocolate stout is more to your taste, or an after dinner Limoncello. Whatever it might be, look no further! Next time you are in Cork, please feel free to visit us and browse our shelves. And if you can’t carry it home, nationwide delivery can be arranged.”
Estrella Damm Inedit is a creation of Ferran Adria and the team at El Bulli’s, a unique never-been-done-before beer blend. This creation is meant to go with food but I found it goes perfectly well without it also. It is one of the best, if not the best, beers that I’ve tasted.
Inedit – as you know, there are other varieties of Estrella - was created to pair “with the most exquisite and challenging foods. Foods that contain: citrus and oils...Bitter notes:...Asparagus, Artichokes...Oily textures: salmon, tuna, fatty cheese.”
Built a meal around those challenges, salmon and asparagus on the main course, and the beer, served in wine glasses, was a splendid match. It is cloudy, is lightly carbonated, has a creamy texture and the soft full body leaves a long and lasting finish.
Next challenge doesn't appear on the shortlist. This was a
Val de Vie’s Barista 2009 Pinotage, South Africa, 14%, Bradley’s Off Licence, €12.99.
This is a great excuse to call to Bradley's, if you ever need one!
Colour is a dark red and the nose gives up dark red fruit, the bite of plum skins for me, and the famous "rush" of coffee. On the palate, you also find those dark red fruits, also pomegranate and cherry, and that coffee which, remember, is also a fruit.
The deliberately induced coffee (see video) element has led directly to this wine being labelled Barista. Despite that and the lingering dodgy past reputation of the Pinotage grape (“A love it or hate it” – Mr Oz Clarke’s summation), there is nothing to be afraid of here.
This is what Hugh Johnson terms Pinotage Mark 11 and the evolution means there is nothing preventing you from making a call to the iconic North Main Street store, founded in 1850. Where half the world goes anyhow. Massive selection of drinks, just about as many languages.
The coffee in this version by Val de Vie (not by any means the first of its kind) is far from being a dominant factor and there are tannins enough to give a well balanced and quite mature mouthful for a 2009.
In this video, you will see Val de Vie MD Bertus Fourie. His favourite accompaniment “remains a blue cheese-filled brandy snap, with Belgian chocolate and roasted coffee beans”. Didn't have anything that exotic on hand on the football-less Wednesday but there were some high class chocs. Tried them out. Neither the chocs nor the wine were improved by the combining but neither deteriorated either.
Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Mara Oro DOCG Extra Dry, 11.%, (Bradley’s North Main Street) ****
Arriving in Venice
A few years back, I arrived in Venice with a group of about forty. As we waited to board our gondolas, I spotted a few wooden huts nearby, filled from top to bottom with bottles of Prosecco, stored with no respect.
On board, the gondolier handed out a bottle to one of our Australian companions. He shared it out among six of us and, with the sun shining and the excitement of the trip high, we toasted one another without a thought given to the quality.
For a while now, Prosecco has been seen as the cheaper alternative to Champagne and, in some cases as a serious rival. That has led to an explosion in production and in some cases a lack of quality. And non-Italian copycats are also a problem.
In the past two years or so, the Italian producers in this area have moved to enhance the status of the wine and protect it from local and international competitions by acquiring the DOCG status. This means that true Prosecco can come only from the designated area. The wines from outside this area will be called “Gerla,” after an old name for the grape Prosecco. http://www.enowinerooms.com/blog/italian-wine-tasting-and-seminars
Bradley’s bottle comes from the hills between the villages Conegliano and Valdobbiadene which is the birthplace of Prosecco as we know it today. Hugh Johnson in his 2011 Pocket Wine Book comments on it: "Now DOCG status light sparkler consumed as aperitif in all bars in Venice and throughout Italy".
Bradley’s offering is a very good example of the type: rich, round and aromatic and a smashing celebration pour for sure. It is full bodied and well structured with an appealing acidity and, with the soft peachiness typical of the grape, is quite an aperitif. And like all Prosecco is meant to be drunk young.
Compared to Champagne, Prosecco generally offers good value for its quality, so consumers are flocking to the Italian equivalent.
Brown Brothers Sangiovese Heathcote 2005 14.5% - Bradley’s (€5.99) ****
From the ancient soil of the Heathcote comes a bargain for the recession and a tasty one at that. This Sangiovese beauty from Australia has been marked down from €13.99 to 5.99.
It is an inviting medium red colour and draws you in further with a black cherry nose, with hints of liquorice. This medium bodied wine tastes of the black fruit. No real feel of tannins in the mouth but they are there and playing their role in a well balanced easy drinking wine, made from the same grape as Italy’s Chianti. Don't let the medium body take you in: it packs a 14.5 per cent punch.
Take your time with the wine but hurry up if you want to get it as stocks of this special bin end are limited and it is proving very popular indeed.
Called into Bradley’s, North Main Street, to browse among their 700 wines.
Wouldn't you know it – they didn't have the Four Sisters Shiraz that I was on the lookout for. At least that was my excuse for calling.
They had some bargains, one Australian Shiraz I had bought elsewhere before Christmas was marked down by three euro. The Penfold's Rawson Retreat range was also down by that amount and I treated herself (my excuse) to a bottle of Semillon Chardonnay.
They also have huge ranges of spirits and beers but I didn't have time to check them all or the arms to carry them. Settled for a few beers on this occasion and am now looking forward to sampling Pilsner Urquell (€2.99), Rick Stein’s Chalky’s Bark Open (€2.99) and, from Oz, Hahn Premium (€1.89).
My father always maintained that Bradley’s had the best bottled Irish beer in town but they have now spread their wings and are well worth a visit. Service, by the way, was relaxed and friendly.