Showing posts with label Greene's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greene's. Show all posts

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Greene's Rhône Wine Week Dinner. Perfect Pairings with Wines of Chateau Pesquié

Greene's Rhône Wine Week Dinner

Perfect Pairings with Wines of Chateau Pesquié
The line-up
Perfect pairings all through the evening were a highlight of the Rhône Wine Week dinner at Greene’s last Wednesday evening. Rarely have I seen such perfectly matched food and wines as was the case when Chef Bryan McCarthy’s food met the wines of Chateau Pesquié, Rhone Valley wines grown under the shadow of Mont Ventoux.

Thanks to the windy mountain, the chateau enjoys one of the coolest micro-climates of the Southern Rhone. The wines have a beautiful freshness and now the whole operation at Pesquié is organic. You’d be foolish not to go organic in this area, said Leslie Williams who introduced the wines along with Cindy Albero from the Chateau.
Chef relaxes, at the end!

I joined dozens of other guests and listened as the two spoke both before and, at intervals, during the meal. As we moved into the main part of the restaurant we nibbled on some of Bryan’s Seasonal Snacks: Celeriac, Mackerel, and Chicken.

Then we were onto Cured Trout, Crab, Daikon Radish and Seaweed and that was matched with Le Paradou blanc. The wine was from the Viognier grape, apricot, floral, fresh, delicious. This was a grape that nearly died out in the 20th century and this excellent example showed just what we would have had missed.
Scallop

And Viognier would also feature in our second wine, the Terrasses. It accounts for 70% of the blend with Roussane and Clairette also in the mix. Citrus and floral aromas, again that freshness and ideal with Seared Scallop, Cauliflower, raisin and curry. A tasty little Espuma followed, a hint of half-time. Then it was the turn of the Pesquié reds.

What would you pair with Pork belly, Black pudding kohlrabi, apple? The correct answer on the night was Le Paradou rouge! This beauty features Grenache, a grape that’s at the basis of many Rhone wines. It just thrives in the climate here and you can sense it in the generous aromas and flavours. And, yes, it again was the perfect match.
Venison

And would you like some more meat? More wine? Oh yes, go on. And on came the Venison (it is game time), celeriac, chocolate, Elderberry. Big flavours here. The Terrasses rouge, Grenache (60%) and Syrah, would take care of it. Intense aromas, intense and spicy on the palate, well balanced, a great fit for the game, and the chocolate!

There was a buck on the cheese course too. Joking! Young Buck Blue cheese, a regular at Greene’s is made in Northern Ireland from raw milk and was accompanied here by a Medjool Date and a glass of Quintessence rouge. Rich with a gentle power, the Ventoux freshness again prominent, darker fruits on the nose and on the palate, this blend of Syrah (80%) and Grenache was excellent, an impressive partner to the very impressive cheese.

Woodruff, blackcurrant and Macadamia Nut was our sweet finalé, a lovely dessert on its own but enhanced by yet another wine. I've always been a fan of the sweet wines of Beaumes de Venise and the Pesquié version reinforced that admiration. This organic Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, to give it is full title, is made from 100% Muscat à petit grains from old vines (50 years plus). Obviously whoever said the younger the berry the sweeter the juice got it wrong! 
Gail Cotter-Buckley, Catherine O'Mahony and Breda Buckley all from CIT Tourism and Hospitality Department.

So big thanks to Bryan and his crew, Leslie, Cindy and Damien of Tindal's for putting on a splendid evening of food and wine and thanks too to Greene’s for being such excellent hosts and to all at our table for being such splendid company throughout!



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cask’s Andy Ferreira: Top of the Cocktail World


Cask’s Andy Ferreira: Top of the Cocktail World

Andy Ferreira of Cask (Cork) was one of the 55 bartenders who competed in the recent World Class Bartender of the Year in Mexico City, a competition geared to “change the way you drink in 2018”. Kaitlyn Stewart from Canada emerged as the overall winner.

Andy, who won the Irish competition, didn’t make the final round but won’t be looking back with self-pity, far from it as you can gather from his reflections after his exit. “So my World class adventure has come to an end. Incredible two days competing and I gave it everything. No regrets, which is great. Can't wait to see the top 10 in action tonight. Thanks for all the love y'all. The support was unreal.”

Andy’s road to Mexico involved a number of varied challenges. Nial Molloy, World Class Ireland Brand Ambassador, told me all about it: "Andy was first selected for the final 12 from over 40 top calibre entrants from all over the island of Ireland. He then went through an in bar judging stage which whittled the competition down to a final six. Andy then won out the Ireland leg of the competition in a live final which involved a number of challenges such as creating sustainable and signature cocktails for Industry leading judges followed by a speed round in front of over 200 of Irelands top industry professionals.  

In Mexico Andy competed brilliantly. Keeping his signature style and Irish charm consistent across the four challenges set for him.  He was particularly well received in his Mex Eco and Signature Cocktail challenges where he got to showcase his style of bartending to some the World’s leading talents and judges. As Ambassador for World Class Ireland, I personally couldn’t be prouder of his efforts and achievements there. And needless to say he was much loved by judges and competitors alike. The competition boasts an extremely high calibre of Bartenders, with many coming from the Top Fifty bars in the world, a place I have no doubt Andy will bring Cask to in the not too distant future."

Hospitality is in Andy’s blood. His parents owned a successful restaurant which gave him exposure to the fast-paced industry from a young age. After furthering his trade in Dublin, he’s spent time in the USA, Australia, Africa and Asia. 

He’s managed venues in the Thai mountains and rural Ireland, has won several awards and even set up a consultancy! His drinks programmes have introduced nature to his customers, using local produce. 

Cask is the bar he manages in Cork and hopes to make it the best cocktail bar in Ireland! Indeed, while he was in Mexico for the finals, Cask was voted the "Best cocktail bar in Ireland”.

The organisers’ press release (from here down) say Cocktail culture is skyrocketing internationally. Almost 9 out of 10 younger drinkers (88%) now enjoy cocktails on a night out. With Asia, the Middle East and Latin America now represented on the World's 50 Best Bar list, the people leading this revolution are from across the globe. They are bringing new ideas, techniques and cultural influences, leading to a dynamic fast-paced industry where new trends are emerging, inspiring people to drink better the world over.
The World Class Bartender of the Year Finals is the world's biggest bartending competition. Nearly 10,000 bartenders from 57 countries have taken part to win the crown of best bartender in the world.
In between judging the finalists, leading lights from the food and drinks industry got together to uncover the main trends they expect to see next year.

Diageo Global Cocktailian Lauren Mote led a discussion including mixology legend Dre Masso; Australian MasterChef host & judge Matt Preston; Alex Kratena (formerly of Artesian - three time winner of World's Best Bar) and the WORLD CLASS BARTENDER OF THE YEAR 2014, Charles Joly.

Made in Cask! Home of the champs!
The trend panel predicted a rise in sustainability, signature serves, the link between mixed drinks and fine cuisine, and the increase in crafting cocktails at home. Some spectacular cocktail serves were produced as examples at the event.

Sustainable Serves - In a recent consumer poll, nearly one in two customers expressed a willingness to pay a 10% premium for socially responsible and environmentally friendly goods. So as well as helping the environment, going down this route could also make sound business sense for bar owners. 
Dre Masso commented: "Sustainable and re-useable methods and ingredients are becoming increasingly important. The mixologists who embrace this new reality are the ones who will flourish.” Read more about sustainability in the cocktail bar here

Signature Serves - One of the original cocktail innovators, Giuseppe Cipriani, created the Bellini in Venice in the 1930s, and today the home of the Bellini - Harry's Bar - is a must-visit. So with people now spending 5% more on luxury experiences than luxury goods[3], bar owners and mixologists who tap into this desire can thrive in 2018.

Alex Kratena said: "I expect to see more switched-on bar operators and bartenders creating unique drink experiences that go beyond 'what's expected' and push signature serves to become the answer to what tasting menus are in the restaurant world.'

Culinary Cocktails - This trend can be seen in some of the world's top bars with occasionally eyebrow-raising results, whether it's a foie gras and salted caramel infused Manhattan; or even a 'Margherita' pizza cocktail.

Matt Preston said: "With the rise of celebrity chefs and the increased interest in cuisine, the most enlightened mixologists will explore and experiment with flavours, textures, ingredients and techniques borrowed from their peers in the world of fine dining.

"From shock cuisine and hard core fermentation to extreme locality and the growth of restless "palate syndrome" there is so much the culinary and bartending worlds can learn from each other."

Cocktails at Home - Research indicates that 73% of younger drinkers enjoy cocktails at home on special occasions. They are switching-up the ingredients they keep in their kitchen cupboards for more adventurous cocktail-making.

Charles Joly said: "Rather than just cracking open a bottle of wine when guests arrive, it's the logical next step for cocktail lovers to be able to craft beautiful cocktails at home when entertaining friends."
Lauren Mote added: "The aim of WORLD CLASS is not just to find the best bartender in the world, we also want to inspire cocktail enthusiasts around the world to drink better, to give 'home bartenders' to the courage to explore what's possible, creating their own signature cocktails in their kitchen."


Lauren brought the four trends to life at the session with the following recipes:
Sustainable Serves: Café Cantata 
Ketel One Vodka, Banana, Vermouth, Cold Brew Mexican Espresso, Tea Leaves & Flowers, Bittered Sling Arabica Coffee Bitters
Signature Serve cocktail: Juniper Cream Soda 
Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Campari and Manzanilla Sherry, Clarified Watermelon Juice, Mexican Vanilla Bean, locally-made Kombucha, Bittered Sling Plum & Rootbeer Bitters (entire mix should be carbonated, bottled and capped)
Culinary Cocktail: Kernel Horchata 
Ron Zacapa 23 YO Rum, Calvados and Oloroso Sherry, Starchy Rice and Almond Milks, Cacao, Mexican Spices, Bittered Sling Moondog Latin American Bitters
Cocktails at Home Cocktail: Pantry Punch 
Johnnie Walker Black Label, Red Vermouth, Mango & Black Pepper Shrub, Cold Brewed Ceylon Black Tea, Bittered Sling Kensington Aromatic Bitters

Visit Diageo Reserve makeitworldclass.com for the latest trends and recipes.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cork City by The Lee. Stay. Eat. Shop. See!

Cork City by The Lee. 
Stay. Eat. Shop. See!
Music city



The Firkin Crane in Shandon,
once the butter capital of the world
See: The Queen made it her number one stop in Cork so you’ve just got to see the English Market, an institution in the city since 1788. Nearby, you’ll see the spires of historic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

St Anne’s Church in Shandon is another landmark. Visit and don’t forget to ring the bells.  Cork was once the butter capital of the world and the Butter Museum is in the shadow of Shandon.

Staying north of the river, why not pay a call to the storied cells of the 
City GaolThe Glucksman is a lovely art gallery in the leafy grounds of the university while the well established Crawford Gallery is easily accessible in the city centre, next door to the Opera House. And don't forget Elizabeth Fort and the newly opened Nano Nagle PlaceAlways something interesting on at The Triskel, an arts venue in a converted church.

Shop: While in the English Market why not do a bit of shopping and check out local delicacies such as buttered eggs and spiced beef. The compact city centre boasts a few top notch shopping centres: Merchants Quay, Opera Lane and the new Capitol area. North Main Street has Bradley’s, founded in 1850, and famous for its wall of craft beers.

For a different experience head to 
Mahon Point Farmer’s Market every Thursday where you’ll find fantastic local cheese and meat and much more, including wild mushrooms, all within a few yards of the large shopping centre.
No shortage of farm to fork restaurants in Cork

Eat: No shortage of eating places including Greene's, JacquesLesGourmandises and Isaac's while lively lunchtime venues include the Farmgate and Nash 19Mad on meat? Try Son of a Bun, Holy Smoke, SpitJack, and many more. Exceptional Japanese at Miyazaki (just six stools though!) No meat? Then the amazing Cafe Paradiso is the one, Iyers is another. Idaho is the city centre cafe while coffee stops abound.  For a fuller list of restaurants and cafes, city and county, see my regularly updated list here. Also check the Whazon Cork listings.

A city of bridges
Drink: For something a little different try L’Atitude Wine Café close to the City Hall. The emphasis here is on quality wines and tasty local snacks with a continental touch. Electric, with its downstairs bar and upstairs fish bar, has taken the South Mall by storm since it opened in 2010.  SoHo and the Bodega are other modern bars with restaurants attached.

For something more traditional, including the music, there are quite a few with The Oliver Plunket being very central indeed.
And, if you prefer craft beers then the Franciscan Well on the North Mall is the place to go as they have a micro brewery right behind the counter. Other pubs with micro-breweries include Rising Sons (Cornmarket Street), Elbow Lane (Oliver Plunket Street, excellent food here also) and Cotton Ball (Mayfield).

Stay: With excellent food in the building and efficient and friendly service, the River Lee is a lovely place to stay in Cork. If you need something more central, the Clayton is for you. A short distance from the centre, you'll find the Ambassador and the Montenotte, each with great views over the city
Fitzgerald's Park

If you are caught for time, stay at the Metropole and explore the amazing McCurtain Street, its pubs, theatre, cafes and restaurants.

Something on the traditional side? Why not the Imperial where you’ll be wined and dined and never be short of company as the locals come and go. Like it leafy? Then the Hayfield Manor and the Maryborough near Douglas are recommended as is the Radisson in Little Island.

Making a quick getaway? The Cork International Airport Hotel is excellent. Heading north or west? Check the Commons Inn.

Walk: Cork is very compact and great for walks. Call to the tourist office and pick up the maps and info for some city centre strolls.

Like to try something more energetic? Then start at the 
North Mall and take a brisk riverside stroll through the Mardyke, into Fitzgerald’s Park, past the UCC Grounds and then onto the Lee Fields. Just remember you have to come back!

There is a very popular walk by the harbour starting at 
Blackrock Castle, another great place to visit with an excellent restaurant, the Castle Cafe. For something shorter but still interesting, do the circular walk around the Lough, a suburban lake full of swans and ducks and other wildfowl.

Ballycotton cliff walk, just east of the city
Get Out: No shortage of things to see and do on the eastern side of the city. Take a trip to Fota House and its famous gardens and arboretum. If you have kids, then the Fota Wildlife Park is at hand. Much to do in Cobh also, including a trip by boat to Spike Island, a former prison with history galore. 

Spike Island
To the south then and a highlight in Crosshaven is the coastal artillery fort of 
Camden with a wealth of history and great views. Another fort, this also being restored, is Charlesfort in Kinsale, a historic town rich in excellent eating places and with a must visit Wine Museum in Desmond Castle. Blarney is just north of the city. The castle, and its famous stone, is a busy spot. Eat at The Square Table.

Strike off to the west and take in the impressive ruins of the abbey at 
Timoleague . WestCork boasts magnificent beaches and good food producers whose products you may sample in restaurants such as the Pilgrim's (Rosscarbery),  Richy’s Bistro (Clonakilty), and Bastion (Kinsale).

For more detailed guides to the county, check out my East Cork and North Cork recommendations.

Jazz time
Listen: There is almost always a music festival on in Cork and surrounds and the big one is the Jazz, always on the final weekend of October. There is a Folk Festival at the end of September and film buffs are in town in force in November. Check them all out here.

The Choral festival dominates in the spring and summer sings with the Midsummer Festival, followed by the International Folk Dancing Festival. 
Music in the Marquee  is a big highlight. Night after summer night, the Marquee hosts top names. Bryan Adams, Cliff Richard and Elton John played this summer (2017).


Avoid: The usual big city security precautions apply. Avoid leaving anything visible in your car and so on. Not much else to avoid. Maybe the rainy days. But even those can be fun. Never know who you’ll find singing at the local bar, even on the street. It is a fun city. So enjoy!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street. Find out where the ugly strawberries go.

Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street
Find out where the ugly strawberries go
McCurtain Street has another new gorgeous drink and eat venue. It is called Cask, a brand new bar with a menu of very tasty bites indeed. The menu, in the care of renowned Greene's chef Bryan McCarthy, will change every eight weeks.

It is a new venture for Greene’s, at the other side of the arch, with its own entrance from the street. And it is not Greene’s lite by the way. While many of the same outstanding producers will feature in Cask, their produce will be in new “disguises”.

Blow-torched monkfish
 Take Skeaghanore Duck for instance, one of our dishes on Tuesday night. Skeaghanore Confit Duck, Smoked Sausage, Butter Bean, Sauerkraut, with Arbutus on the side, is reminiscent of a Cassoulet from the heart of France, a warming delight on a wintry night. 
The Cork Cassoulet
The hearty dish comes under the heading of A Little More and costs €12.90. You can start with Light, and progress to More or A Little More. There are Cheese and Charcuterie plates for sharing (perhaps!), Extras if want want to top up your More and you may finish with Sweet.


You may start wth a cocktail (or any drink of your choice) from the well stocked bar. Indeed you may pop in just for a drink. The cocktails are being described as seasonal so you can presume they'll be changing too. 


Hummus
I'm sure the Katty Barry (Gorse Flower infused Bombay, Woodruff, Irish Pears and Prosecco) will go down well. Watch out too for the Man of Arran (Connemara Peated Whiskey, Smoked Wakame Syrup, Cocchi Americano, and Grapefruit Oils); this was very well received at the recent Four Hands dinner in the main restaurant.

No shortage of wines either and our pick for the evening visit was Il Bucco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, with its sweet dark fruits but well balanced and with a smooth finish.

Frangipane Tart
 So let us go back to the beginning, at the Lights. You can have various nibbles, including olives and almonds, but CL went for the Hummus, Medjoul dates, Fennel pollen and crispy toasts (looked a lot like a well-known local medieval loaf, with dates inserted here too). Excellent starter, and so was mine which was Gubbeen Hot Dog Slider, Cotton Ball Beer Mustard, Seaweed salad, balsamic onions. This dog had a good bite! Each “starter” cost €5.90.

Rings Farm free range chickens were among the items that featured on the More section, all of these costing 7.90. But, like CL, I resisted the temptation of the Chicken Lollipops and other temptations and moved up to A Little More and my pick here was superb.

Yuzu
While CL was on the Skeaghanore I was enjoying Blow-torched medallions of monkfish, tomato bean stew with chorizo, lemon and seaweed (14.50). Inspiration from a warmer clime, perfectly executed and well presented, to warm the bones on a chilly night.

We were on a roll now and up for dessert. A short list but we got two good ones! And also found out where the ugly strawberries go.

Well they may have been ugly when they went in but they were oh so beautiful in Cask. The Bushby’s Preserved Strawberry Frangipane Tart with a dollop of cream was just perfect. The berries are judged not good enough to be out on their own on a plate but certainly shine as part of this lovely dessert (5.50).

I had to beg for a couple of bites of that one but I had a good bartering bait in my Yuzu Cheesecake, again with cream and also 5.50. The fragrant Yuzu with its acidic citrus juice brought my very enjoyable evening, helped by a friendly and efficient staff, at Cask to a delicious end. Guess I'll have to go back for A Little More!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.
JP McMahon at Greene’s, Cork.
Beetroot, goat's cheese
The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.

And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company. 

Celeriac
 And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.

The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!

Halibut
 Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.

And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis.  The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.

Sorbet
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.

Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.

Duck
 A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel. 

That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable  I've ever come across. 


Cheese
 The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!

The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore.  Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.

Dessert
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet. 

Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?


* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s. Wine, Dine, Talk

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s
Wine, Dine, Talk
Superb wine


The Rhone came to the Lee last Wednesday night, its two ambassadors, Bruno Boisson of Domaine Boisson and Simon Tyrrell of Les Deux Cols, introduced to the diners at Greene’s by none other than the Menu himself Joe McNamee. Top chef Bryan McCarthy ensured the food matched the excellent wines for the Rhone Wine Week Dinner.

Under gentle prodding from Joe, Bruno told us he is the owner of Domaine Boisson and that it has been in his family for 150 years. The little village of Cairanne is near better known villages such as Gigondas. He produces about 90,000 bottles a year, fifty per cent of which is sold in France. The Irish market is important to him. “It takes a lot, thanks to Tindal’s and their loyalty.”
Bruno, Joe, Simon

At 18 years of age, Bruno started Oenology school and later travelled to the Barossa in Australia. “It is important to see things “more global”, not just in a “tight” local view. While the family had been growing grapes for generations, it was only in the late 80s that Bruno’s father started bottling his own wines.

Cairanne “is becoming cru now. We are very proud of that and we remember the efforts of past generations”.

Simon’s trajectory was quite different to Bruno’s, his immersion in the wine business  happening “by chance”. In 1989 he was working in Willie’s Wine Bar in Paris, a bar that specialised in Rhone wines. The interest grew and grew. By 2009, he had a small negociant business but decided to go further. Back to college then in the UK and, after getting much advice, he began to buy grapes and, by 2012 was making his own wine. And, just now, he has bought his first vineyard, near St Nazaire.
Pork Belly

Simon explained that in the Northern Rhone, there is just one variety and that is Syrah. In the South, there is “more blending, less new wood.” “The wines are more generous, higher abv but they are balanced. There is something about Grenache based wines, lovely warm mouthfeel.” He reckons that they are very popular in Ireland because of our climate and gastronomy. “They have a roundness and warmth and nothing goes better with lamb.”

And what are the prospects for the current vintage? It has been getting a very good press, not just in France but in many neighbouring countries. Bruno revealed that friends of his are saying that the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape will be “the best since the legendary 1990…. time will tell.” Both agreed that 2015 was a good year and Simon reckons that 2016 has even “more finesse, more acidity”  and “will be better than 2015!”
Venison

Not all good news though. Later, after dessert, Simon told us that the well-known Muscat De Beaumes De Venise was struggling with much unsold as demand is shrinking for sweet wines generally. The producers are switching to making dry wines but then find that people are confused, thinking that because it is Beaumes that it must be sweet! A rock and a hard place!

Oaky, let’s start at the beginning of the evening and a lovely welcoming cocktail: Kalak Vodka Martini, rocks, twist. Kalak is an Irish made premium vodka, one worth looking out for!
Dessert

Our first starter was Goatsbridge Trout and crab, cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium, radish and this was accompanied by Vin de France ‘Les Terrasses’ 2015 by Chateau Pesquie, an organic blend of Viognier (70%), Roussane and Clairette. The 70% is significant as it is higher than the AOC rules allow and so the wine can only be sold as Vin de France. Demoted it may be but it’s a good one. 

Next up was the Pork belly, Black pudding, apple, celeriac, and cider and the wine here was Simon’s Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvée D’Alize’ 2015 by Les Deux Cols. “My staple wine”,  he said, “named after a local wind and a blend of Grenache 60%, Syrah 30 and Cinsault (“the Pinot Noir of the South”). No oak here, just stainless steel. His idea was to make “a moreish wine”. Reckon he pulled it off!
Endangered?

After a refreshing Espuma, we were onto Wild Irish venison, artichoke, potato, onion, elderberry and Domaine Boisson’s Cairanne 2014. “It is important to understand the real place of wine is on the table with food,” said Bruno. “This was a little late but it has higher acidity so good for food. I don't want to get too technical, not too much cerebral. Just enjoy it.” We certainly did.

And Bruno had quite a family story for his next wine, the Massif D’Uchaux ‘Clos de la Brussiere’ 2011 from a disused vineyard that his grandfather bought in the local Cafe du Commerce (where you could buy virtually anything in the good old days). There was much rock picking to be done before the ground was cleared. “He picked rocks. We pick grapes.” The grapes are Grenache (60%) and Mourvedre (40). A gorgeous serious wine with bright fruit and spicy notes and quite a perfect match for Mike Thompson’s Young Buck cheese.
In the Southern Rhone

We finished with Chocolate Pecan Cremaux Tart, preserved cherry and pistachio and the Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2014 by Chateau Pesquie, a very good example, sweet yes but with the acidity retained.

Simon summed it all up: “A very diverse valley with a very diverse range of wines.” And he made a plea to please drink the odd glass of Beaumes de Venise at the end of your meals!
Harvest in Cairanne