Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Grand Dame Celebrates. Metropole 120 Party

The Grand Dame Celebrates

Metropole 120 Party
“McCurtain Street is back on the map. Is Grand Dame, the Metropole Hotel, never went away and, in appropriate style, she celebrated her 120 anniversary at the weekend. The hotel and especially the ballroom, where so many couples met and married over the decades, was looking splendid as the many guests arrived.

And there were many of the couples who got married here along with former staff members among the invited guests. Newly elected Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald recalled a wedding occasion in his speech. He was a page boy at his aunt’s reception in the Met in the early sixties but admitted to spending most of the day checking out the lift! Indeed, that very lift was a major attraction in the very early days of the hotel when it was owned by the Musgrave family.

“Cork,” he said, “is a great city to work and live in. And also a great city to visit.” He told us that mayors from two of our twin cities will visit this year and he is also looking forward to a visit from the World Health Organisation to mark Cork's designation as a healthy city. “The Metropole has played its part in the development of the city. Long may it continue.”

General manager Roger Russell was next to address the guests and said it was a great opportunity to look back through the memories. “The response has been phenomenal, especially from former team members. What a story she, the Grand Dame, could tell, of the city, of the world. After starting in 1897, the Metropole, which was a temperance hotel owned by the local Musgrave family, quickly established itself."
This week's photo of the hotel's front and, below (from a few years ago), the back is reflected in the Lee

"In more recent times, just forty years ago, it began its relationship with the Cork Jazz Festival and we’re looking forward to the new Oyster Festival in September. I'm very proud to be manager here this evening.” And he finished with a big thank you to the team.

Aaron Mansworth, Group General Manager and Director at Trigon Hotels (they also include the Cork International Hotel and the Cork Airport Hotel in their portfolio), extended a big welcome. “It’s wonderful to be here. I spent five years working in the Waldorf Astoria in New York and there are certain similarities. We had a great team there and a great team here.

And he spoke of the exciting plans for the area and their new “M” hotel to be built nearby on the old PJ O'Hea site. “It is a wonderful project. Will be a huge benefit to the area, especially in terms of jobs. I’d like to acknowledge the local  business people who have put McCurtain Street back on the map. Here in the Metropole, we hope to continue creating memories for life! So please join with me in raising a glass to the wonderful Grand Dame!” 

And that we were all glad to do. The hospitality was terrific. All kinds of drinks: bubbles, beer, wine, cocktails. And chef Shane O’Sullivan sent out a constant stream of delicious canapés. And all the while the band (jazz, of course) played. A lavish party, they promised. And that is exactly what the Grand Dame and the team delivered. Here’s to another 120.
These ladies know how to organise a party!

Let us take a  few “flashbacks” to incidents in the hotel’s history before we finish. Edward VII is reputed to have had tea on the roof of The Metropole when he visited Cork in 1903 for the city’s Great Exhibition. Down the years many more famous personalities have been guests of the Metropole, and included Gregory Peck, James Mason, Frank O’Connor, John Steinbeck, Vittoria de Sica, John Huston and Walt Disney. 

However it was Dawn Adams, the 1950’s British film star, who created the greatest stir when she stayed at The Metropole. When she was attending the Cork Film Festival she requested a bath of milk. Douglas Vance, the famous hotelier of the Metropole, refused such a request as the people of Cork were finding it hard to makes ends meet. The story made headlines around the world at that time.

It wouldn’t be Cork without someone taking the pee!  According to a weekend Facebook post, one Cork comedian said that Dawn Adams eventually had her milk bath and while it was being poured a porter knocked at her door and she told him to go away as she was having a milk bath. He asked if it was pasteurised and she replied "it isn't past my ass yet“.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A City by the Sea. Exhibition at St Peter’s





A City by the Sea. 
Exhibition at St Peter’s



Is this the oldest outdoor advert in Cork?
 The Cork Harbour Festival Week has come and gone, and a very enjoyable week it was, but the exhibition A City by the Sea at St Peter’s in North Main Street goes on and is well worth a visit.


A large number of info panels illustrate, mainly in words, the city’s relationship with the sea, the good things and the bad things, tourists and invaders. And food and drink of course, flowing in and flowing out, and that was the thread that I noted on my read-about.

And the first thing I see is Bertha’s Revenge! The exhibition, curated by Turtle Bunberry, had many helpers and there, in among the librarians and historians, I spotted the name Justin Green (of Bertha’s). Well done to all.

And then I spotted another name, my family name. Apparently, in the 4th century, the Uí Liatháin ruled the region and had colonies in South Wales, also Devon and Cornwall. Must go and see my cousins sometime!
Brian Boru Bridge. Although no longer opening, the bridge is an important reminder of the history of the river and quays.
Did you know that in 1273, Richard Wine was the Mayor of Cork. Indeed, in the following centuries, many Cork mayors were closely connected to the French and Portuguese wine trade.

The Flight of the Wild Geese begins in 1691 when 14,000 Jacobite soldiers, along with 6.000 women and children, set sail from Cork for Europe. The mainly Catholic exiles, many of them merchant families, included the Galwey family who became prominent wine merchants in the Loire.
Fitzgerald's Park, site of the 1902/3 exhibition
Among those who fled in Penal Times were the O’Murphy draper family. Their daughter Marie Louise, also known as La Petite Murfi, became mistress of Louis XV. Legend holds that her fortune helped the Murphy family establish their brewery a century later! A revealing portrait of Marie Louise now hangs in the Alta Pinakothek in Munich, a city well known for its beer.
Cruise liner at Cobh
 In 1756, France and Britain were at each other’s throats in the Seven Years War and “the Great Ox-slaying city of Cork” emerged as the Royal Navy’s preferred supplier for beef, pork and butter.


Less than a hundred years later, that beef boom was long forgotten as famine struck. In 1847, the USS Jamestown warship arrives in the harbour with 800 tons of food and clothing. The commander is shown around the stricken streets of the city by Fr Matthew.
The Firkin Crane, a  reminder when Cork led the world in butter.
In 1859, Sir John Arnott, originally from Fife in Scotland, is elected mayor for the first of three times. He is a well known and successful businessman. He was involved in shipping in Cork and Passage, founded the Cork racecourse (later Henry Ford built on the site), the Arnott shop and a brewery (St Finnbarr’s).

By 1861, the Cork Butter Exchange becomes the largest butter exchange in the world. Exports peak in the 1870s.
 By 1880, the spectre of famine rears its head again. It is a borderline case but enough to see more help from the USA. Five hundred tons of provisions and clothing arrive on the sloop of war Constellation and the distribution of supplies is supervised by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Outward bound; passing Cobh
 In 1902, the Cork International Exhibition took place in the Mardyke. Harutun Batmazian, an Armenian exile, is an exhibitor and his Hadji Bey’s Turkish Delight is such a treat that he stays and opens a shop in the city, a shop that lasts for decades. Though it is no longer made in Cork, you can still get the treat (produced now in Kildare). We'll finish on that sweet note.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sage. New Superlatives Please!


Sage. New Superlatives Please!
Ravioli

Mackerl
Think I’d need a stack of superlatives to describe a recent dinner at Sage on Midleton, the home of the 12 mile menu. I could easily go over the top as Kevin Aherne’s kitchen is easily ahead of many around the country. But I’ll try and not bore you, just to say here at the start that the place, in a courtyard just off Midleton’s main street, has never ever disappointed.

Sage and its junior sister, the Greenroom, cater for a variety of tastes and budgets and the recent addition - the semi-open courtyard itself -  is a lively food and drink venue and was indeed booked out on the night we visited. Sage too was full by the eight o’clock mark so the advise is to book ahead.

Then you can relax. Everything will be fine: the fresh local food, the very friendly efficient service, the drink (much of the wine is organic) and the beer is craft and local as you'd expect. You can spot the crew cooking in the kitchen as you sit back in a lovely simple room, one of whose walls honours the many suppliers from within that 12 mile radius.
We, subsidised by the last of the gift vouchers from Christmas, were on the A la Carte but I spotted much of the same menu on the Early Evening offering (three courses for thirty euro!). Breads were delivered to the table as we studied the menu. We also thought about the drink and, with steak in mind, I settled on the regular stout from O’Hara’s. Regular but excellent, a bottle for 6.00. Soon we were nibbling on the amuse bouche of Apple rings  and Ardsallagh Goats cheese.
Hake


Great choice of starters, and mine was magnificent: Mackerel, oyster mushroom and samphire (10.00). It was a great combination, the warm soft flesh of the mackerel, full of flavour, perfectly complemented by the supple mushroom, the peppery crunch of the radish and the salty bite of the samphire.

Hard to guess sometimes what you are going to get on your plate when you read the brief description, as CL did: Beef cheek ravioli, horseradish, parsnip (9.00). Well, the beef was contained in one big plate-filling ravioli and the parsnip was a crisp. But it all worked so well together, another delicious interesting starter. I'm sure the other four on the list would have been of the same standard, each perhaps with a little surprise.
Beef

So, surprised and happy, we moved on to the mains. No big ambush for me: Beef Fillet (Charlie Terry), horseradish, shallots and spinach (30.00). I've long maintained that if a chef looks after the little things, that he will also come up trumps with the big items. In this case, for example, the shallots were outstanding, sweet and good and the spinach was fresh and tasty. The fillet? Add any meaty superlative you wish. As good as you’ll get and better than most.

And was the other side of the table jealous? No, not a bit of it. She loves her hake and that affair was enhanced by Sage’s: Hake, pasta, mussels, chorizo, samphire (24.00). A lot on the plate but another winning combination, well cooked, well presented and well served.
Sweet

It is strawberry time in Ireland so we both finished with a Strawberry and Marshmallow Posset (8.00). The two glass bowls were well stripped, as indeed were all the previous plates, when the servers came to take them away. We like good food and there’s no shortage of that in Sage. Very Highly Recommended!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Taste of the Week. Cream Donuts

Taste of the Week
Cream Donuts

Cream is a new donut, coffee and ice-cream place in town. Its first base, open just two weeks back, is at the corner of Daunt's Square and Paul Street and a second outlet, in Oliver Plunket Street, is due to open any day now.

Donuts are popular in Cork, always have been. But are now much different, more colourful, than the basic jam and cream filled bullet of a few decades ago. I'm thinking in particular of one, by Cream, the Caramel Donut, our sweet Taste of the Week.

It is not the most spectacular donut on display here but it is amazingly popular, already established as a best-seller. Take a taste of the outside and its good but get those teeth in a little deeper, into that luscious lake of caramel in the middle. Death by caramel!

1 Daunt’s Square

Cork.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

These Ladies Like to be Out and About. Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese

These Ladies Like to be Out and About

Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese

“Our goats are outside all the time. They have the use of the shed but seem to prefer the outdoors, even when it’s wet,” said Victor O’Sullivan to me when I visited his Bluebell Falls goats, all four hundred of them, last week. “It makes a definite difference to the cheese.”

Victor and his cheesemaker wife Breda have a mix of three breeds on the farm, just outside Newtownshandrum in North Cork “Why the mix?”, I asked. “They each have different characteristics and, with the three, we get a more balanced type of milk.” 
Milking lessons!
Two of the breeds here are originally Swiss. The Saanen goats are a white or cream-coloured goat breed, named for the Saanen valley in Switzerland. The Toggenburg goat, is a breed of milk goat, named after the region in Switzerland where the breed originated, the Toggenburg valley in the Canton of St. Gallen. The British Alpine is a high-producer of quality goats' milk, and the breed can be found in many goat dairies.

They’ve had goats here since the middle of the last decade and the herd was up to the 400 mark by 2007, the milk being sold on to dairies. They took the big step in 2013 when they bought out Bluebell Falls (then in County Clare). Breda and Victor did cheesemaking courses under Eddie O'Neill at Moorepark (near Fermoy) and, very importantly, Paul Keane of the original Bluebell gave them a solid grounding in the business over a three month period. 
By 2014, they were retailing their own cheese. And, continuing “the same system as Bluebell”, have expanded each year since and are proud of their BRC accreditation, the global standard for food safety.

Their long oval packages have becoming well known to cheese lovers at markets, festivals and in the aisles of supermarket such as Dunnes and Tesco. Varieties such as the Original, the Honey and Garlic, the Cranberry, the Pepper, Mixed herbs and Garlic, and the Caramelised Onion and Caraway seeds, will be familiar to many of you.

I met Victor at the recent Mallow Garden festival and he showed me the original and the cranberry in a newer different “tub” packaging. As tasty as ever but looking well. 

And right along them were the new products, not made from goats milk but from cows. Not any cows either. He uses gorgeous creamy milk from a herd of pedigree Jersey cows on a farm in nearby Dromcollogher. And the two new products, the Jersey Cream Cheese Original and the Jersey Cream Pesto  are absolutely superb, well worth seeking out.
After that chat, it was time to get out and do a bit of farm work. Victor took us through the long grass where a big group from the herd were grazing and soon, with the promise of food, we were surrounded.

“How about giving a hand with the milking?” was the surprise question. Both of us put the hand up. Soon, he had a hold of one of the goats and CL was taking instructions, trying to concentrate and avoid the odd stray leg flying out. A second goat was more steady and the milk flowed, well flow may not be an exact description but she was getting the hang of it as I did later.
One of the young ones
Luckily, Victor doesn't have to rely on city visitors to do the milking of the large herd. He has a mechanical set-up that milks them twice daily. Then of course the cheese making starts. 

And when it is made, you must sell it. And that too takes time. Last weekend, Victor was at both the Mallow Festival and at The Sheridan's Irish Food Festival in Co. Meath. This week, it is five days at Bloom in Dublin, not counting the coming and the going. Tough going really but he gets great satisfaction from making a top class product and getting it out to the public. He is rightly proud of Bluebell Falls cheese and we consumers are lucky to have him on our Irish doorstep. Bluebell Falls is another reason why I'm happy to buy local!
Victor at the Mallow Show
The multi-award winning soft cheese is supplied to top end  hotels, restaurants and food service. It is distributed by, among others, Pallas Foods, La Rousse Foods, and Plassey Foods. Also available in all major retailers and good health stores.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dinner and Movies. Great Views too. Montenotte Hotel's Panorama Bistro

Dinner and Movies. Great Views too.
Montenotte Hotel’s Panorama Bistro
Dine with Rosanna next month

The restaurant at the revamped Hotel Montenotte is called The Panorama and the spacious and comfortable bistro and bar certainly lives up to the name. From most of room and from the terrace outside you have a great view over the river and much of the city.

And the revamp isn't confined to the inside. Below the level of the restaurant and out in front, a lovely new “formal” garden is rapidly taking shape. The rectangular centrepiece is divided into quadrants and the matching plants in the four areas are about to burst into bloom. 

And a feature inside, an unusual one, is the hotel’s very own cinema, The Cameo. And it is quite a luxurious room as we found out after dinner in the bistro last week.

When you enter through the door your cinema experience immediately begins with curtained walls, cinema lighting, large projection screen, luxurious tiered seating, surround sound and the latest in cinema technology, you will not have an experience elsewhere like it. They offer themed film nights from Comedy to International; there is something for everyone. And the venue is for hire.

The hotel caters for quite a few events and next month will start a series called “An Evening With…”.  Author, model and nutritionist, Rosanna Davison, starts the ball rolling on June 14th. Among her accolades, Rosanna has been crowned Miss World, qualified as nutritionist, and is a successful top model and most recently she is author of two bestselling health, nutrition and fitness books ‘Eat Yourself Fit’ and ‘Eat Yourself Beautiful’. 

Ticket cost is €100 per person and includes the reception, evening meal with Rosanna, and a donation to the hotel’s charity the Daisy Chain Foundation More details here
Work in progress

There is a new chef Adrian Hillgrove in charge. He has wide experience including working at Rick Stein’s flagship eatery in Cornwall. He has a love of seafood and fish and you'll see some of his fishes dishes on the A La Carte for the Panorama here.  

Brian Bowler, General Manager at The Montenotte Hotel, is delighted that Hillgrove has joined them: “He has a wonderful way with flavours, and his creativity and use of only of the finest in-season produce from the region ensures that our menus will delight those who visit and who stay with us.”
Salmon

There is a separate three course menu for the Movie Evening and we enjoyed that the other night.   The place was busy but the staff were on the ball and there was no delay in getting us sorted, the menus, water and some very tasty bread on the table without fuss.

Having read the chef's background, I started with the Chowder. I wasn't disappointed. The creamy bowlful was chock-a-block with red, smoked and white fish and a few mussels lurking there too for good measure. And CL was well pleased with a Watermelon and Feta Salad with chicken and orange and rocket.

Off to a good start. And so it continued. Sirloin Steak and Traditional Fish and Chips were featured on the Mains but I liked the sound of the Fillet of Salmon with Asparagus and Rocket; this had a fresh herb crust pesto, parmesan cheese, pink peppercorns and beurre blanc sauce. I liked the look and flavours of this excellent combination, loved the cheese and the pesto. Fairly simple and nothing over the top but a nice way of presenting the salmon.

Across the table, the Pan Fried Chicken Supreme went down well. A highlight here was a lovely Jameson and Wild Mushroom Sauce. The celeriac mash was excellent too as were our side dishes of vegetables.

The dessert list was short, with the usual suspects. But I was in for a delightful surprise as my Tiramisu was one of the best that I've come across in a while.

It was billed as a classic Italian dish, layered soaked biscotti and mascarpone cream, chocolate shavings. Plenty of sponge there to soak up all the sweet stuff! CL’s wasn't quite of the same class but not bad either. She had the Lemon Posset, poached winter berries, white wine stock syrup, blackberries, raspberries and ginger-nut crust. The berries were a little scarce but overall the lemon came through well. Two generous desserts, by the way and, on the A La Carte, each costs €6.95.

After then it was time to head the Cameo, just a few steps away, and the movie! Lights out.

Sit back and relax!
Movie Latest: Agents & Heroes @ The Cameo Cinema for the Month of June.

2 course meal €24.95 per person, 3 course meal €29.95 per person.

For bookings, call us on 021 453 0050






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Festival Cork’s inaugural Dessert Festival!

Week of events planned across Cork for Festival Cork’s inaugural Dessert Festival!

Following on from the success of hugely popular Burger Festival and more recently the Whiskey Festival the team at Festival Cork are delighted to announce their latest event
“ Cork Dessert Festival” running from June 26th to July 2nd - a festival showcasing the finest confections that Cork has to offer.

Ernest Cantillon and Eimear McCarthy festival organisers made the announcement this week:
 “We are very fortunate to have an abundance of quality producers and food outlets in Cork. Following the huge success of our previous festivals and the overwhelming support from businesses and visitors alike it was an easy decision for us to launch our newest event Cork’s very own Dessert Festival”

Across the week a number of well known venues including Electric, Sober Lane and Cafe Velo will pull out all the stops to deliver tastings, workshops and events allowing businesses & producers to promote their dessert offerings in a fun and innovative manner.

“The festival promises to appeal to everyone from the  sweet toothed dessert enthusiast to the master confectioner.” Ernest said, “We hope to showcase some of the finest desserts and allow for a few surprises along the way.”

The Dessert Festival is the first of it’s kind in Cork and if the previous events hosted by Festival Cork are anything to go by it promises to be a real treat.

Stay connected with the festival through
Facebook @Festivalsincork,
Twitter: @Festival_Cork and

If you would like to get involved in the festival please email dessert@festivalcork.com  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Maestro in top form at the Radisson Blu!


The Maestro in top form at the Radisson Blu!
Dessert terrine
After having sampled lots of food goodies at the official celebration of the Radisson Blu revamp, I was keen to try it out in depth. And we took the opportunity last week on a magnificent sunny evening. Indeed, there were quite a few families out on the sheltered terrace celebrating the local confirmations.

This time, we started in the Banks Bar and were treated to a couple of cocktails. A Cosmo (Absolut Vodka, Cointreau, Cranberry juice, lime juice) and a Bramble (Hendricks Gin, lemon Juice, Sugar syrup, Crème de Mure) pour moi. Up and running!
Starter terrine
 We took some time to go through the menu. It is a large hotel so they cater for a wide variety of tastes, for adults and kids, so it is a large menu, with everything from small plates to sandwiches, to pizzas, to salads, to fish and steaks. Starters range from €5.50 to €13.95, mains from the mid teens to the high twenties (7-ounce fillet, for instance, is 29.95).


CL started with the Chicken, duck and smoked bacon terrine, with roast baby vegetable salad, orange and chocolate balsamic syrup. This was absolutely delicious, a great mix of textures and flavours but a surprisingly mega-plateful under the menu heading of “Something Small”. Meanwhile, I was eagerly tucking into my equally delicious Pan fried confit of lamb shoulder on a bed of braised Puy lentils, morel cream sauce. Hadn’t seen this as a starter before.
Confit of lamb
 I stayed with the meat for the mains and picked the Pan fried prime Irish 8-ounce rib-eye, with chunky skin-on fries, baked Portobello mushroom, slow roasted vine tomato, green beans and onion rings, and peppercorn sauce (from choice of three). It was quite the main event indeed, full of great flavour and I enjoyed every single element on the packed plate.


The other side of the table was also doing well, happy with her Pan fried salmon, chorizo and leek risotto, with lime and green tea dressing. All done to perfection and the risotto was highly impressive, really tasty.
Salmon
 Service was efficient and friendly from start to finish and a little tempting (along with recommendations) from that quarter saw us order dessert. Lemon Meringue Pie with Crème Anglaise was CL’s pick while my cool choice was the Raspberry and chocolate terrine, with lemon curd crème fraiche, and fresh berries. Happy campers after those two sweets!


Both wines came from Mendoza in Argentina. The white was Donna Paula Sauvignon Blanc, aromatic, crisp and lively and €6.95 per glass. Same price for the red, the Paula Malbec, a lovely supple wine, fruity and with a rich finish.
Main event!
 The significant refurbishment project, completed last month, incorporated The Great Island Ballroom, the chic hotel lobby, stylish Banks Bar and over 40 bedrooms, and culminated in the complete revamp of the hotel’s restaurant. Now sophisticatedly adorned with plush carpets, mahogany furniture and brown leather booths, the restaurant is the cherry on top of the hotel’s brand new look and has been renamed the Maestro. Well worth a try, for sure.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting Cork, featuring The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat

Le Caveau Portfolio Tasting

The Natural Kingdom of Ganevat
Pascal with Michael Creedon (right) of Bradley's Off Licence
Nicolas Donne of
Guy Allion
“This is what Le Caveau is about,” said Pascal Rossignol as he surveyed the scene in St Peter’s Church in the early stages of the Cork tasting of his 2017 portfolio last Thursday. And he had much to be pleased about as the visiting growers and Pascal’s staff displayed some 145 wines, all sustainable low intervention, many fully organic and some natural, for the tasting.

And if the tasting in general spoke of Le Caveau, then one wine in particular hinted at where M. Rossignol might be taking us in the future. And that was the Anne and J.F. Ganevat Vin de France Rouge called Madelon. 

Pascal was enthusiastic about this amazing blend. And no wonder! The mix of 50% Gamay from Morgon and 50% of Ganevat’s own field grapes (ancient varieties here are lost in one another) is amazing, yet so focussed, with a dry finish. This superb wine, which has spent ten months in foudre (large wooden vat) is produced outside the appellation rules, hence the Vin de France on the label and hence no vintage mentioned (not allowed!).

Formidable!
While the Madelon is made with his sister Anne, the other wine on show, Cotes du Jura blanc “Sous La Roche”, is produced by Jean-Francois himself. All his wines are made in very limited quantities, so are hard to get and so full praise to Le Caveau for giving us the opportunity to taste this gem with a finish that rolls on and on.

Great to have the chance too to chat to Bertrand Ambroise and his delicious Burgundy wines. We started with a Chardonnay, named after his grand-daughter, the Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This is a really round wine with balancing acidity. The Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2013 was another splendid Chardonnay (one of nine that they produce), apricot to the fore with no shortage of minerality.

Also got to taste three of his thirteen Pinot Noir, starting with the 2013 Côteaux Bourguignons ‘Lettre D’Eloise’. This has been aged in old barrels - he didn't want oak influence here. A gorgeous well-priced wine.
Bertrand Ambroise (left) with Colm McCan of Le Caveau
Then I enjoyed a sip of the Cotes de Nuits Villages. “Very interesting to drink now but it will last fifteen years,” said Bertrand. “It is 40% new oak, no fining, no filter and we are using less and less sulphides.” Organic farming is a way of life for the Ambroise family. The final treat at this table was the Nuits St Georges ‘Les Haut Pruliers’. This is faultless with an astounding finalé.

Guy Allion (Loire Valley) was represented by Nicolas Donne and I enjoyed their Touraine Sauvignon Blanc ‘Haut Perron’, very expressive and very fresh (the harvest is “early nighttime” to enhance those very qualities). 

Nicolas also had an unlisted addition, the 100% Sauvignon Chenonceau 2015. It can be made only in the valley of the Cher, a new appellation since 2011. Aromatic and elegant, it comes in its own unique bottle (made in Italy) and “can age for ten years”.

Chaume-Arnaud are pretty well known for their lovely Rhone reds but it was a white that caught my tastebuds: the 2015 blend Côtes du Rhône, very complex with excellent mouthfeel and excellent acidity as well. Thibaud Chaume explained that 2015 was “a bit hot..but this fruit is grown on top of a hill where it is fresh, also cool at night” and these factors all helped.

And he also had another off catalogue wine, “perfect for barbecue”, the 2015 Marselan, “well structured and great with food”.

Tour des Gendres are well represented on the Le Caveau catalogue and, once Guillaume de Conti began to speak, I could see why. You might think the basic entry wine might not get that much attention but Guillaume said that is the one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, so it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this certainly is, six months on lees also helps. A very reasonably priced wine too.
Lovely to meet up again with Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa (left). Her orange wine, the fantastic Ageno, has just been named as the number one natural wine in the world in the May issue of Decanter. 
Another Italian wine-maker that caught my attention was Ampeleia. Giulia Zanellati showed me three very interesting reds indeed, including the Un Litro Di Ampeleia, a blend of four varieties. It comes in a one litre bottle that is proving very popular in Italian restaurants. Giulia made me rather jealous as she described their vineyards which are near the sea. “It is a beautiful place to work, all the different levels where the views, the trees, the animals, all change as you go up or down. 
The 2016 Alicante Nero, Costa Toscana IGT, is 100 per cent from a single vineyard, at 400 metres with clay and rock dominating, another delicious fresh wine. And freshness too in the 2013 flagship, the Ampelia Costa Toscana IGT, a blend of Cabernet Franc (80%) and Sangiovese. The Cabernet Franc - they use it a fair bit - is noted as adding freshness and obviously enjoys the terroir here.


Le Caveau were also showing a large range of house wines, very acceptable house wines I hasten to add. One that I really like is the Petit Verdot, Haut Medians, Robert Vic and also the Madrigale in both red and white. And Charles Rossignol introduced me to more excellent house whites in St Peter’s (pictured right) . Perhaps the one I liked best was the Ciello Bianco Catarratto (Terre Siciliane IGT). This is certified organic and unfiltered and is refreshing and grippy, great with food I'd say.



All in all, quite a tasting. I didn’t get to taste all 145 but the name that stood out was that of Ganevat. The maestro from the Jura has three pages to himself in the 2017 Le Caveau catalogue but beware that quantities available “are very small and can only be managed via allocation”. He is, after all, one of the royalty of natural wine!


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