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Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Taste of the Week
Pares Balta Cava
I was introduced to this Cava, the sparkling wine of Spain, during a fish dinner in Ballycotton recently. ENO wines are the importers of our Taste of the Week. Very Highly Recommended.
Donie O’Brien is the Commercial Director of ENO and he told me that Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas, the wives of the joint owners, are the winemakers and oenologists and they all take the organic approach seriously, even to the extent of keeping their own beehives to help with pollination and keeping their own flock of sheep to fertilise the vineyards in Autumn.
The traditional Cava grapes - Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel·lo- are used here and the wine is made by the traditional method, the same method they use in Champagne. It has a pale yellow colour. Medium intensity on the nose with toasty notes combined with aroma of pear and apple. Fresh and alive in the mouth with dominating notes of fruit. Light and soft with a pleasant finish.
ENO is a family owned company and they specialise in the authentic produce of small, family-owned, quality-driven wineries. The bad news is that our Taste of the Week is not available in retail outlets, only in selected hotels and restaurants. But do keep an eye out for it! Very impressive.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Fish Out In Force at the Bayview.
Not the usual suspects!
For me, the humble mackerel was probably the highlight of Chef Ciaran Scully’s Seafood Evening at the spectacularly situated Bayview Hotel last Friday. But there were starring roles too in Ballycotton for less familiar fish, such as Megrim and Witch.
Witch? This is a flounder, known in the UK as Torbay sole. It is caught in abundance around our coasts and about 95% is exported! Megrim, also common, has the sole flavour and a slightly softer texture. The other fish that featured in the six course menu (including a fishless dessert) were Dublin Bay Prawns and Octopus.
The prawns were first up. They were grilled, scented with Rosemary from the garden, shell oil and Atlantic sea-salt, and served with carrot, cappuccino of Bisque, and Leamlara Celery cress.
Then came the Seared filet of Mackerel with cucumber, pickled Mushroom, Wasabi cream, dried sea grass, Purslane and sea spinach. Chef Scully says the mackerel haven't arrived in force yet this season but he had some good plump ones here and created a terrific dish.
Time now for the Megrim soup. First came the garnish (Coolea cheese croute, saffron rouille, fennel and tomato) and then the soup was poured, a perfect match. Second time in a week that the soup came midway through a meal. No problem on either occasion!
And it was also the second time in a week that I had octopus. This was landed in Duncannon (Wexford) but, like all the other fish, was caught by a Ballycotton boat. The Char-grilled Octopus was glazed with apple syrup and served with sweetcorn purée, chorizo lime and oil, a delightful combination of flavours and textures.
Now it was the turn of the Witch fillet, with lemon and potato purée, brown shrimp, parsley, capers, nut brown butter, samphire. Quite a finalé to the fish dishes.
Dessert was Caramelised pineapple, coconut parfait and Mount Gay rum with mango jelly, pineapple sorbet, fizzy citrus syrup, Speculoos biscuit, pina colada foam. Delicious with plenty of fruit flavours to match with the Brumes de la Tour Blanche Sauternes, an intense wine with concentrated fruit, yet with a refreshing acidity.
The wines for the evening came from Eno Wine and their Commercial Director Donie O’Brien was on hand to give a brief rundown on each wine, starting with the amazing Pares Balta organic Cava.The family keep bee hives (to assist in pollination) and sheep flocks (to fertilise the vineyards in autumn). When presented with a Cava like this, it is hard to believe that it is still one of the lesser known sparkling wines in Ireland.
That is not the case though with Albarino, which has been gaining in popularity for “past 25 years” according to Donie. And he had a delicious example, the Etra Albarino, aromatic, full of fruit and again that acidity that means its goes well with food, especially food from the sea!
It is often compared to Sauvignon blanc and we soon had the chance to compare as the next wine was Domaine L’Aumonier, an organic wine from the Loire produced by Sophie and Thierry Chardon. A fruity and pleasant wine to taste on all occasions. It is aromatic, well balanced between freshness and intensity and the perfect match for the Octopus and its sauce.
Donie reckons that the Godello grape is becoming ever more popular in Ireland and may well follow Albarino on the way to even greater acceptance here. Certainly the one he had is a gem, a great match with the Witch dish. This was the Celdina from Galicia. Donie says it has the richness and weight of Chardonnay but with a bit more crispness. Beautiful aromas too and, while good with fish, has the wherewithal to “accompany chicken, turkey and pork dishes even when served with a sauce”.
After that it was the turn of the dessert and the Sauternes to bring the very pleasant event to a close.
The fish was finished for the night but I started the next day with more fish. I was staying in the lovely Garryvoe Hotel, a sister of the Bayview across the bay, and was delighted to see plaice on the breakfast menu. Ballycotton Bay is noted for its plaice and this reinforced that opinion. No wine though!
The next special food evening in the Bayview’s Capricho restaurant, “Ingenuity and the Bounty”, again seafood themed, is scheduled for Monday September 4th and is also part of FEAST. More info here.
Bookings: 021 4646 746.
Maria Coleman and Chef Ciaran Scully have been filling me in on future themed evenings. Our Portuguese Night – Isaac's Soiree (this date has moved from the 15th of September to the 6th of October) - will consist of a Portuguese tasting menu to include paired Portuguese wines. Keeping it simple there will be no choice! We will also have music on the night."
"Following that on the 20th October we will be having the Bayview Swing- this will be held on the 20th of October 2017. It will be a themed 1920’s event to ease into the Jazz weekend in Cork. A Black tie event/1920’s theme, Full four course dinner, Prosecco and oysters arrival reception, Live music."
"All event are €65 per person and we are doing a special over night to include the above at €110 per person sharing."
Monday, December 29, 2014
No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End
No doubt that Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are the big three in sparkling wine. But there are many more from all over the world. We enjoyed a white and a rosé from Cono Sur during the recent blogging competition final in Paris and, speaking of France, the country produces well over twenty such wines aside from the well known champagne. This is one of them, from the Loire and made in the same way as Champagne (méthode traditionnelle). It survived the Christmas and I'm looking forward to opening it on New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to you all.
There is no shortage of sparkling wine to see out the old year and to welcome the new, anything from an expensive champagne such as Krug to the inexpensive Prosecco below. The big selection gives you a good chance to get one to suit both your palate and budget.
Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut, €20.00 at SuperValu
Cava Brut Barcino, €12.00 at Supervalu
Griffon Prosecco Frizzante, €9.00 at SuperValu
These are just three from the SuperValu range. The champagne itself was put to the test here on Christmas Day and went down very well indeed. It certainly has got the usual characteristics, is crisp and well balanced and runs out quickly!
The Cava stood into the breach then and you'd hardly notice. No shortage of small bubbles here, the typical breaded nose and again fresh and zesty. Just the job at about half the price.
Prosecco has made a huge impact, not always good, on the sparkling wine scene and this friendly Frizzante is but one of many on the market. It is made in a different way with the secondary fermentation taking place in a bulk tank rather than in the individual bottle, hence the twine on the cork, rather than the more usual more robust arrangement! It is less expensive to produce than Spumante which undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. Don't delay too long with your glass of Frizzante as the bubbles don't hang around.
Carl Jung Sparkling White (de-alcoholised), €5.99 widely available
Superquinn; Dunnes Stores; Joyce's of Galway; Molloy's Off-Licences, Dublin; O'Brien's; Next Door Off-Licences; Supervalu nationwide; and good independent off-licences nationwide
With a few drivers among those calling to the house at Christmas, I thought this Carl Jung might come in handy. It sure did and drew a few compliments as well, showing that sparkling celebrations may be enjoyed without the alcohol. Actually, there is quite an intense rush of bubbles and no shortage of fruit in the palate.
Oh, by the way, if someone says he’d prefer to drink tea, you can keep the sparkle going by offering him a glass of Mariko. Cheers!
Bouvet Saphir Saumur Brut 2011
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Campo Viejo. Still and Sparkling
Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2008, 13.5%, €14.31 Widely available.
Campo Viejo is the "dependable" Rioja. Even in Spain, according to our guide on a recent Tapas Trail. And not just in Spain. It is in the No. 1 Rioja position worldwide. And one can see why, or at least taste why, in this bottle. The wine has been aged for 18 months in French and American oak and a further 18 months aging in the bottle.
Colour is a clean and bright ruby and it has inviting red fruit aromas. You’ll find rounded fruit flavours and spice notes on the palate. Really well balanced with little or no sign of tannins and it has a lovely long finish. Made mainly from Tempranillo (85%), it is added to our Very Highly Recommended list.
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva, 11.5%, €15.38, O’Brien’s nationwide http://www.obrienswine.ie .
Cava is usually associated with the Catalunya region of Spain and indeed the vast majority of this traditionally made sparkling wine is made there. But it is also produced in quite a few other regions such as Aragon, Navarra, and La Rioja. The usual grapes in the blend, and in this wine, are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.
Take a look at this in the glass and you see a clean greenish yellow colour, bright and with no shortage of rising bubbles. There are white fruit aromas which I've seen described as complex but I didn't find anything very intense. White fruits too on the palate and a terrific balancing acidity. Fresh for sure and with an excellent dry finish. A good value Cava, made by the Metodo Tradicional, and Highly Recommended.
They also produce a Rosé Brut, made with 100% Trepat.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
CHRISTMAS WINE REVIEW
Glad to say most of the wines flagged in a last month’s A Festive Wine Mix came up trumps over the holiday period. The Hamilton Ewell Fortified Red Wine, available from Bubble Brothers for about €18.00, was an after dinner highlight and this port taste-alike went down well with the Green Saffron Christmas Pudding.
|Not all alcohol|
Much before all that, the Innocent Bystander, Victoria, 2010 Moscato, 5.5% (Bradley’s Off Licence), drew quite a lot of favourable comment as did the Mont Marcal Extremarium Cava from Curious Wines.
There was a split decision when the Jip Jip Rocks Sparkling Shiraz from Karwig Wines was introduced and I must admit I didn’t get too many converts. But another red from the Carrigaline outlet went down a treat and that was the Monte Veho 2010 Vinho Regional Alentejano (€13.85). Made from a selection of regional grapes, this was well balanced, nicely rounded, soft and easy drinking.
And another Portuguese red, the Fontanario de Pegoes Palmela DO Reserva 2007 (Portugal), 14%, (€16.99), also got a big welcome. This is imported by Wine Alliance and widely available as is one of their brilliant whites: Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc Limited Edition 2009, New Zealand, 13.5%, €15.99, another Christmas star.
Back to Karwig’s for another white that found wide acceptance: Rebenfeld Gruner Veltliner 2006 from South Austria (€11.00). This crisp fruity dry wine, from Austria’s flagship white grape, has good balance and a good finish and is very good value indeed. Perhaps the top Karwig white that found its way onto the holiday table was the Martin Codax Albarino 2010 (€13.85). A lovely wine: aromatic, crisp and dry.
I also had the pleasure of a couple of doubles from the Southern Rhone, a pair of Chateauneuf du Pape, and also a pair of good ones from La Citadelle, one of the top producers in the Luberon. I’ll fill you in on these later.
It wasn’t all alcohol of course. The Innocent Bystander drew favourable comment partly because of its low alcohol and I also had my favourite non alcoholic beverage available, the Tipperary Sparkling Apple Juice by Con Traas.
Con also does a gorgeous still apple juice from his Carmine apples and, at Midleton Farmers Market on Christmas Eve morning, I found a worthy rival in the still juice by the Little Irish Apple Company from Kilkenny. It is made from Bramley and Seasonal Dessert varieties and is refreshing and natural and lovely when chilled, a different taste that also found favour around here this holiday.