Showing posts with label Rhone Wine Week. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rhone Wine Week. 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!



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celebrate Rhone Wine Week with these two!




Rhone Wine Week
4th to 11th November
Two to try. 🍷👍


Pope, Parker, Mistral
A Pope and a Parker were among the key figures that enhanced the reputation of wines from the Rhone Valley. Wines had long been made in the area even before Julius Caesar arrived in Chalon-sur-Saône and found two Romans already in the wine trade there.

The shell of the Papal holiday palace
 remains after wartime bombing
Fast forward now to 1309 when Pope Clement V moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon. Most of the wine drunk in the temporary papal palace (they also had a summer palace called Chateauneuf du Pape) was from the local area and so the fashion for Rhone wine began in earnest. 

Clement of course came from a Graves wine family (think Chateau Pape Clement!) and would be followed by five more popes before the move back to Rome. The papacy was here was 67 years, a lot of wine!

The Rhone was firmly among the most respected wines in France when infallibility of another kind arrived in the 1980s. Robert Parker, the American wine guru, "intervened". He just loved the naturally ripe style and gave them very high scores and his many international "followers" took his word for it, bought the wines and found out for themselves just how good the Rhone bottles really are.

In between Pape and Parker, there was the wind of 1956, perhaps even more influential than the famous pair. Then the Mistral battered the region for three weeks and contributed to the temperature dropping to minus 15 degrees. The olive trees, then the big crop in the area, suffered badly but the vines resisted so well that a majority of farmers turned to vine cultivation.

Santa Duc Les Blovac Rasteau (AOC) 2011, 15%, €18.45 Le Caveau, Bradley’s Cork

If you’re thinking of celebrating Rhone Wine Week, then this Rasteau is a great choice. Even Robert Parker agrees, at least he did seven years back when he praised Yves Gras of Santa Duc saying he “produces some of the best buys in Cotes du Rhone”. Viticulture in this vineyard has always been organic in style and intent and full certification was achieved in 2012.

This wine is the typical Southern Rhone blend, often called GSM from the initials of the three varieties. The 2011 is a blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20) and Mourvedre (10). There has to be a minimum of 50% Grenache, so this is well above that. The fruit is late-harvested so no shortage of ripeness or power - note the ABV of 15%. No oak is used and the wine is bottled without filtering.

Colour is a deep ruby and the legs are slow to clear. Aromas are complex, a melange of red and darker fruits, hints of pepper too. Upfront on the palate, generous fruit flavours prominent, well balanced though, tannins still grippy and there is a persistent tingly finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Rasteau was, from the 17th century, best known for its fortified wines. But was gradually forced to accept the conditions of the C. d. R village appellation and eventually came onboard in 1967 and gained the coveted cru status for the village in 2009.


You can still get a Vin doux Naturel (VdN) here, of course. The red is perhaps best known and the only one that I've ever tasted. That was in the village itself and led to a little argument with the salesperson. She had suggested pairing it with Stilton but I flew the flag and told I’d be taking it with Cashel Blue. We got on very well after that. 


Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Côtes du Rhone (AOC) 2015, 14%, €16.95 Bradley’s (Cork), Le Caveau


There are, as you know, many skilled wine-makers in the Rhone and they don’t suddenly lose those skills when they turn their attention to white wines. Indeed, their well-made whites can often be better value than the more popular reds. In any case, Chaume-Arnaud, (along with Santa Duc above), is one of the area's leading producers, according to Grapes and Wines.

This particular bottle is a blend of Marsanne, Roussane, and Viognier. Other white grapes that are permitted are White Grenache, White Clairette and Bourboulenc.

You see a lot of lovely light gold in your glass. The aromas, white fruit and blossom, are harmonious. Refreshing white fruit flavours abound on the palate, with a refreshing acidity at play, well balanced, and with a long mineral-y finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Try with grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goats cheese. My own tip: Goatsbridge trout with Mothergrain Quinoa (with Golden Veg.).