Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Excellent Wines from Franconia in the famous "Flat Bottle"


Horst Sauer Escherndorfer Silvaner Franconia (Germany) 2016, 11.5%, €20.90 Karwig Wine

The vineyard, Escherndorfer, its steep slope open to the south, has been regarded as a special one for centuries, creating wines of a distinctive concentrated fruitiness and great longevity.The producer is a member of the German Premium Wineries and you will see the indicator of this, the initials VDP, on the neck.

The wine, made from the Silvaner grape, in the distinctive Franken Bocksbeutel, is a light straw colour and you’ll note micro-bubbles clinging to the “flattened” bottle. There are intense scents of pear, melon and gooseberry. Aromatic and fruity, with a vivid and refreshing minerality also at play. Not really as “reserved” as the website hints at, as flavours are quite concentrated from early on and the finish is persistent with elegant acidity and that minerality of course. Highly Recommended.

Horst Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Franconia (Germany) 2016, 12.0%, €23.60 Karwig Wine


Again, the protective south facing slope is a big factor in this attractive trocken (dry), powerful and complex. The producers have no doubt about it: “In these Escherndorfer Lump wines lie our life blood”.

So what do you get from this light straw coloured wine? Firstly, complex aromas of peach and nectarine, apricot and hints of honey. Much the same fruit flavours combine superbly on the rich palate, moderate but effective acidity, intense and well-balanced, minerality too, all the way to the satisfactory dry finalé. Looks well, smells well and tastes well and Very Highly Recommended from the Franconia area. 

Perfect match with spicy and Indian food.

The Bocksbeutel
This bottle shape, according to Wikipedia, is derived from that of field bottles, which were known already in antiquity, and which were manufactured with a flattened shape for practical purposes, for example to keep the bottle from rolling away on uneven ground. 

The Bocksbeutel has been used for wine from Franconia at least since the early 18th century, initially for the wines from the region's most famous vineyard, the Würzburger Stein, and later for other Franconian wines, in particular those of better quality. The city council of Würzburg decided in 1728 that the best wines from the city's own winery, the Bürgerspital, should be filled in Bocksbeutel bottles. 

You probably have seen the same shaped bottle used for Portuguese rosés. Read more about it here  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Trio of Excellent Reds from Mary Pawle Wines


A Trio of Excellent Reds 
from Mary Pawle Wines

According to Ana Fabiano in her 2012 book, The Wine Region of Rioja, you can expect good things from the winemakers of Rioja Baja. Their spirit is “based on enormous reverence for their land, respect for the heritage of their ancestors, and a commitment to carry it forward”. By the way, she mentions Luis Jiménez as one of the producers worth seeking out in the area and we have two of his below.


Ruiz Jiménez Paisajes Rioja (DOC) 2015, 14%, €17.70 Mary Pawle Wines


This organic Rioja is an “edition especial Garnacha 2015”, special because it is 100% Garnacha, not a drop of the customary Tempranillo. It is also rather special as “100% of the creative process is in our own hands.”

It is mid to deep ruby, bright and clear, legs reluctant to clear. Aromas of sweet red fruit, hints too of its season in the oak. Fruity and dry, elegant on the palate, this well balanced wine maintains its smooth power right through to the persistent finish, tannins still a factor. Beautifully reined-in power and Very Highly Recommended.


Pago de Valcaliente Rioja 2015, 14.5%, €26.30 Mary Pawle Wines

This organic wine has a cherry red colour. Fairly intense aromas of dark and red fruit fruits, and a hint of spice. Juicy, fruity and spicy, this young wine with its smooth tannins and balancing acidity is a tasty drop indeed and Highly Recommended.

The Valcaliente vineyard is in the Rioja Baja, one of the three areas of Rioja, and the producer is Luis Jiménez. This wine, a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, is aged in a concrete egg.

Domaine Bassac Syrah Côtes de Thongue (IGP) 2015, 13.5% €13.25 Mary Pawle Wines.

Produced by a young duo that started working here in the Languedoc in 2014, this Syrah is organic. It has a nice mid ruby colour and a moderately intense nose of blackcurrant. There is a fair concentration of fruit and spice in the palate. 

You’ll come across some much brasher Shiraz but this is a restrained and well-made Syrah, a rounded and a good warm wine and Highly Recommended. Importer Mary Pawle suggests trying it with Lamb Tagine. 

A young enough wine but do not hesitate to open an hour or two in advance and do also decant. Well worth the effort.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hard To Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon).


Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon). With France and Croatia meeting in Sunday's World Cup final, I thought I'd sneak in these two excellent wines. Hard to pick a winner! Enjoy the wines. And the match.

Matoševic Alba “Malvasia Istriana” 2016, 13%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This wine, imported by Liberty, is Croatian and comes from the Istrian peninsula, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The grape is Malvazija Istarka - easier to pronounce the version on the label (above). Malvasia  has probably been best described by Oz Clark when he said: “..the thing about Malvasia - it’s not so much a single grape as a whole family”. So you don’t get similar results.

There has been some ageing on fine lees but no oak and the winemaker, Ivica Matoševic, has been called “Croatia’s best winemaker” by no less than Steven Spurrier.

This has a quite light straw colour. It is well scented, white fruit and blossoms, and mineral notes too. Flavours are fresh and concentrated, mouthfeel is smooth (the time on lees has helped), and there is super acidity and a long minerally finish. The very good first impression is maintained and Highly Recommended is the verdict!


Domaine Laguilhon Jurancon sec (AP) 2016, 13%, €19.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This Jurancon is a blend of Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, 50% each. It has spent 9 months on lees “to enrich the palate”. The vineyards, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, are in Monein, and are “known for making richer styles of Jurancon’.

It is a pale yellow with green tints. Scents of white fruits (pears apples), floral notes also. Fresh fruit on the palate, citrus becoming prominent, vivacious acidity, lovely mouthful and a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.

I noted the “sec” on the label. And that reminded me of a visit to the Dordogne. On arrival in Sarlat on our first night, we rushed down to the local Lidl (the only shop open) so stock up. I took charge of the wines and spotted a cardboard box full of Jurancon on the floor . From an earlier holiday in the Pays Basque, I knew this to be a lovely dry white so I grabbed one and put it in the trolley.

But we needn’t have rushed to Lidl as our host plied us with red wine in the gite and the Jurancon was left in the bag. Pulled it out the following day and looked at it. Saw that it was a deep yellow colour. Checked the back and saw the Moelleux word.

Not too impressed. I didn't like sweet wines then, only dry. Still, by this stage, we had plenty in the gîte and said we’d try it as an aperitif, as suggested on the bottle. Love at first taste. Aperitif and also dessert. Can't remember what we had in between. And if you like the Moelleux (don’t think I’ve ever seen one here though), you might like to try the delicious sweet wines from the area (which are regularly featured on restaurant lists in Ireland).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill. And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.


Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill
And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.
Isla and Paul, when I
met them in Cork

The Syrah for the wines below is trellised across the top of a windy hill in the Languedoc that was planted with the aid of dynamite. The earth is completely made up of classic blue/grey schist with practically no topsoil. Therefore the rock had to be blown up so that the vines could find some dirt where they could anchor.

Despite these kind of local obstacles, there are more vines growing in the Languedoc than in Australia. Paul Gordon should know. He is Australian and he and his Carlow wife Isla work (and I mean work) the Sarabande vineyard, about twenty minutes drive from Beziers. The rugby-loving couple’s vineyard is called Domaine la Sarabande. 

They met in New Zealand in 2003 and then spent five or six years in wine in Marlborough. In 2009, they settled in France and raised some €40,000 from relations and friends in return for wine in the future. Isla: “There is just the two of us. We are very small; everything is gently worked and done by hand..” 

With so many vineyards in the area, there is much competition locally and so the pair export most of their wine, mainly to English speaking countries. And indeed, those same countries (Ireland, US, Australia and New Zealand) are all happy with the Sarabande screw caps but not so the French. 

Today, working with some unique terroirs and old vineyards treated organically and by hand, the Gordons, according to their importers O’Brien’s, “produce some stunningly good old world wines but with a modern Oz twang”.

Sarabande “Les Rabasses” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, €21.45 (got it for 17.16 in sale) O’Brien’s

The aromas of the Faugeres are dominated by black cherries and plums as is this blend. The Syrah, on its exploded base, is trellised across the top of the windy hill. Unlike the Syrah (the dominant grape - about 50% - in this GSM blend), the Grenache and Mourvedre are grown as bush vines. They sit on a south facing slope which is well drained. This is particularly important for the notoriously late ripening Mourvedre variety.

And so it is from this hilltop vineyard that this Les Rabasses comes with its hard-won flavours. Keep it, they say, or drink it now with “equally flavoursome food”. Suggested are: Cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Hard mature cheese, Roast lamb/beef, Slow cooked shoulder of lamb.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are strong aromas of dark fruit, spicy. Fruit forward and deep, power and finesse in equal measure, that spice too, excellent acidity as well; the finish is pure, long and also balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Sarabande “Misterioso” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, 16.95 (13.56 in sale) O’Brien’s 

Sarabande tell us that “bright cherry flavours are the backbone of this cheeky little number…that will invite itself.” Indeed, it is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. Highly Recommended.

The blend this time is mostly Grenache and Syrah with “a small amount of Mourvedre.” Only the best quality fruit survives the sorting stage.

Monday, July 2, 2018

White Wine Weather. Three of the very best!


Trimbach Riesling Alsace (AC) 2015, 13%, €15.96 (was 19.95) O’Brien’s

Trimbach (not Jean methinks!) sum up their wine story that began in 1626: “exceptional terroirs and fine wines”. And so they continue. This is “a great example of dry Riesling” according to Decanter, talking about the 2014 edition.

It is indeed a lovely wine with a light strawy colour. Apples and a touch of lime in the restrained aromas. Smooth on the palate with terrific white fruit flavours and the amazing dry finish goes on and on. Well made as you’d expect from this producer and Very Highly Recommended (even at the regular price - I got this in a sale).


Gitton Père & Fils Les Montachins Sancerre (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wines

Colour of this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is a light straw, tints of green. Fairly intense aromas, lime and apple, mineral notes too. Terrific rush of outstanding flavours, citrus now prominent, matched by an equal burst of the most refreshing acidity. And the finish lacks nothing at all, long and satisfying.  No need to say too much about this one, just Very Highly Recommended.

Speaking of the variety, Wine-Searcher.com says the key selling point of Sauvignon Blanc “is its straightforwardness” and that is certainly the case here. Its home land is the Loire and it is now found growing successfully in quite a few countries, notably in New Zealand.

Pair with oysters, crab, delicate white fish, green vegetables and salads, and cheese (goats in particular).

Albet i Noya El Fanio Xarel-lo 2016 Penedes (DO), 13%, now €17.00 Mary Pawles Wines.

Colour of this organic wine is light gold.
Citrus, gooseberry, floral notes too, in the nose.

Lovely creamy mouthfeel here - it had been on lees for six months; herb flavours to the fore, thyme and rosemary and other notes from the local scrub, fresh and lively acidity too make this a very friendly wine indeed, a distinctive one also and Very Highly Recommended. Great value as well.

El Fanio is the name of the vineyard and the grape variety is Xarel-lo, familiar to many of you as a key grape in Cava. The wine is aged in cement eggs (not very romantic!) and in acacia barrels.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jamie Goode: Why Beaujolais is better.


Jamie Goode: Why Beaujolais is better.
Jamie Goode, the wine journalist, book author and flavour obsessive, reckons the move towards natural wine has been a big factor in the renaissance of Beaujolais. 

Speaking at Monday’s masterclass on the region at the River Lee Hotel, the jet-lagged Goode (he had just come that morning from Vancouver), said that the movement (including Jean Foillard, another recent visitor to Cork) has “inspired a new generation”. “It is encouraging to see many more working organically or on the way towards it.”

Goode, like quite a few before him, reckoned that Beaujolais Nouveau didn’t do the region any great favours. The Gamay grape also suffered in reputation. But that is now reversed and there is lots of excitement worldwide about Gamay. He maintained the trend towards lighter wines is also helping as Beaujolais can come up with lighter styles that are still complex and he would use the masterclass to demonstrate that and the the diversity within the region.

He took us back to the time when climate was everything. Find a climate like Burgundy and you can make great Pinot Noir. It doesn’t necessarily follow. The focus is now on soil, the granite here, limestone is also sought after. He doutlined the very detailed work done on soil in Beaujolais and promised us a “very intertesting range”.

Jamie did make a case for the wine critics. “The community of critics can determine which wines are the best.” Though not necessarily unanimously. Sometimes it is not easy. Jamie told us of experts being given Beaujolais in disguise as Burgundy and falling for it!

Oddly enough, our second bottle came in a Bordeaux shape. This was the 2017 Maison Coquard from clay and limestone soils, aromatic, ripe fruits, fresh acidity and “pretty impressive for a regular Beaujolais.”

Up a step then to Beaujolais Villages, this the Moillard 2014, light of colour, moderately aromatic and good for food. Interesting thing here is that one half goes under carbonic maceration, the second is destemmed and ferments traditionally in stainless steel.

Then we were on to the crus starting with the Chiroubles Domaine des Marrans Vielles Vignes 2015 aged for 12 months in old oak foudres, nicely scented with sweet ripe fruit, tannins and some fresh acidity and an excellent finish.

Our Régnié was the most impressive at this stage and not because it came in an almost squat bottle, “a statement” according to Jamie. Ripeness in the scents, fresh yet luxurious, good balance, tannins almost contained and excellent finish. But, like quite a few of the wines on show, not available here and looking for a distributor.

The Saint-Amour, your Valentine’s day bottle, kept the standard up. The Chardigny A La Folie 2017 had direct fruit, smooth texture, tannins too and a hint of minerality, not bad at all from a high density planting.

The Bertand Vuril 2016 from Brouilly, the largest of the crus, comes from “quite a mixture of soil types” including clay, silt and limestone. Supple and elegant with that fresh fruit again, a little bit of pepper, nice mouthfeel and good finish.

Fleurie is one of my favourite crus but the Chateau Gaillard 2017 is not showing great at the moment. It has potential though and Jamie reckons it will age well.

Chateau Thivin, in conversion to organics, has “a high reputation, really solid wines” and their Les Sept Vignes 2016 demonstrated that in abundance. This excellent drop has a lovely structure, good fruit of course, very impressive for a young wine. This estate in Côtes de Brouilly is in conversion to organics.

The Chers Vielles Vignes 2017 was grown on schist soils with volcanic blue stones. I liked this, from the Juliénas cru, with its soft fresh fruit scents, its smoothness on the palate, lively acidity and long dry finish. Very Impressive.
Jamie, with Beverley of L'Atitude (Cork's top wine bar)

The Chénas region was represented by Domaine de Côtes Rémont 2916, fresh and bright, slight grip, nice finish and a “good example”.

Morgon would provide my favourite of the day, the biodynamic Villa Ponciago Les Pierres Bleues 2016. The fruit is grown on a mix of blue schist and ancient igneous type rocks. Complex aromas, excellent fruit, some grip, acidity too and a superb finish. Very Very Impressive. In 2016 and 2017 the quantity of wine produced in Beaujolais was down because of hail but the quality was up.

Moulin A Vent is another well know cru and the 2016 wine here came from Richard Rottiers. This was another with potential, one to wait for.

My Tops:
1 - Morgon
2 - Juliénas
3 - Régnié, Côte de Brouilly

Previous Beaujolais masterclasses

The Beaujolais Irish tour continues: Galway and Limerick, details below




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Two From Fleurie. Beaujolais Gems From the Granite.


Two From Fleurie
Beaujolais Gems From the Granite
Granite from Beaujolais
Fleurie, like all ten crus, is in the north east of the Beaujolais region. Here the Gamay grape, thrives on the granite soil, the wines always refreshing and never short of acidity. Fleurie, with delicious cherry scents, flavours of red berries, is an elegant and excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Did you know that the Gamay grape is an exile in Beaujolais? In 1395, it was outlawed by Royal decree as being “a very bad and disloyal plant”. Sixty years later another edict was issued against it. And so it was pushed out of Burgundy and south into neighbouring Beaujolais where it has thrived on the granite based soils.

In Beaujolais generally, there is a continuity of quality, almost a guarantee of it, if you move up a step or two to the ten crus and the Villages that ring them.

In 2016, May and June, it wasn't at all pleasant in Beaujolais. In the area where the crus are situated, the hail came with a vengeance and, according to Decanter, Beaujolais authorities reported some plots in the appellations of Chiroubles and Fleurie were completely destroyed. But that fickle spring was followed by a splendid summer and a friendly autumn and the result, with less fruit, was a very fine vintage indeed.

By the way, the ten crus that produce the flagship wines are: Chiroubles, Saint Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) 2016, 12.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Cork; Wine Online


Dominique Morel has set himself a target: “I make wines that I like to drink, with lots of fruit, good colour and a rounded mouthfeel". And this light ruby coloured wine, with delicate cherry aromas, also floral notes, is silky with superb fruit, just as M. Morel would have wanted. Silky and with terrific concentration and lovely velvety tannins. Very Highly Recommended.

Bastion De L’Oratoire Chanson Fleurie (AC) 2014, 13%, €14.95 in sale (was 18.95) O’Brien’s

Colour of this beauty is a bright mid-ruby. Abundant aromas of cherries and spice. Juicy in the mouth; no shortage of red berries (strawberries, raspberries) and sweet cherry in delicious combination, smooth and well balanced, refreshing too with excellent length. Impeccable and Very Highly Recommended. It is, of course, 100% Gamay and no oak has been used by Chanson who are both négociants and winemakers.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Iberian Way. A Generous Bite Of Spain In Cork


Iberian Way.
A Generous Bite Of Spain In Cork 


Made my first visit to Iberian Way in Douglas Street recently, expecting some small one-bite tapas. It didn’t happen. Just wonder why, in Ireland, virtually every tapas provider, either Irish or Spanish, doesn't serve the one-bite tapas you get in Spanish bars, though Feed Your Senses in Washington Street did have a few on the menu last time I called.

Anyway, back to Iberian Way, a restaurant cum deli that is contributing to a new lease of life for the old Cork street. The Tapas here are served on plates or platters or in bowls and are generally meant for sharing (some are designated two units, four units etc). There is a choice of 17 on our menu, including some well-known ones eg. Patatas Bravos, Croquetas, CalaMARi.
Asparagus

We order four, starting with the IBERAGUS: green asparagus in olive oil with slices of ham and grated cheese. A good start with the warm asparagus blending in well, especially with the cheese. Thumps up there.

I like honey and I like Aubergines so I thought I was on a good thing when I ordered Aubergines with honey. The vegetable was deep fried and well drizzled with honey, a bit too sweet for me. Maybe one round would have been enough but we got about five each. Overall, they are pretty generous here!
Aubergine and lots of honey

We passed on the Mini BURGERS, the TACO, and the FLAMENCObergine (they do play a lot with capitals here!) and the BrOkEn EGGS. But we would have eggs with our CoJoNuDaS, toasted slices of bread with black-pudding and quail eggs. Very tasty indeed.

Our final plate yielded six CROQUETAS, creamy and crusty bites of béchamel, three with cheese, three with ham. Deep fried and pretty filling, pretty flavoursome too in fairness. Each of our four dishes cost eight euro, a fair price indeed.
CoJoNuDaS

Would we finish on a sweet note? Yes, we would. There is a short list including a homemade soft cheese with coulis, chocolate brownie with white chocolate soup, and a selection of cured cheeses. 

We picked the Coulant of Turrón, the “chef’s signature”, described as Almond Nougat with hazelnut pralineé and spiced corn ice-cream (€6.00). It came in a huge bowl, packed with delicious flavours and textures’ it was a true delight for the sweet tooth, an outstanding finalé indeed.

By then, our wine has vanished. The wine list, comes in a ring binder, and looks bigger than it actually is. But you do have a good choice of reasonably priced wines and all the information you need to make a choice. 

Quite a few available by the glass (mostly about 6.50). CL enjoyed her Castelo de Medina Verdejo, fresh and persistent (just like her husband!), while my happy pick was the excellent and refreshing Abadía do Seixo Albarino.

Iberian Way
72 Douglas Street
Cork
087 954 6451




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Two Superb Reds. A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.


Two Superb Reds. 
A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.

Jean Foillard Côte du Py Morgon (AOC) 2016, 13%, €35.60 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


Every month in the vineyard, there are decisions to be made, practical crossroads to be negotiated. They concern, for instance, cultivating and fertilising soil, planting, training and pruning vines, and when to begin picking the grapes. But before all that, the vineyard is shaped at a philosophy crossroads. Quantity before quality. Chemical or organic. Fortunately for us, Jean and Agnes Foillard gave the thumbs down to the industrial and choose the natural organic route. Their healthy and beautiful wines are their reward and our pleasure.

In Morgon, Foillard wines express the terroir like a maestro musician. “The aromatics soar and the texture is silky and fine”. Try it in three movements: Le Classique, Cotes de Py, and Corcelette. Long may the maestro of Morgon play on.

The fruit for our Côte du Py, also known as Le Classique, is grown on a hill that is actually an extinct volcano and is masterfully transformed into a soft delicious vibrant-red wine with superb depth of vivacious flavours and a refreshing acidity. There are cherry and raspberry notes, floral too, in the aromas. On the palate, it is elegant with no shortage of minerality, tannins are a very fine influence here and the finish just goes on and on.

Foillard, a leading natural winemaker, has been described as the master of this hill (Côte de Py) and this stunning 2016 will serve to reinforce that claim. Very Highly Recommended. Give this a few more years and it will be even more rewarding.

There are ten crus in the Beaujolais region and Morgon, as you probably know, is one of them. With the typical acidity, these wines can match a range of foods. One suggestion that I fancy is Moroccan Lamb Tagine with apricot.


Amalaya Gran Corte Barrel Selection, Valle Calchaqui (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €24.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Wine Online

In Salta’s high desert, for centuries farmers made offerings in hope of a miracle for a bountiful harvest. Esperanza por un milagro is on the front label and the miracle has come to pass inside.

This Gran Corte is an amalgam of Malbec (85%), Tannat and Cabernet Franc. Twelve months in oak has added complexity and roundness.

Amalaya is acknowledged as a leading producer in this region. Owned by the Hess family, they are best known for their Malbec and Torrontés and this Gran Corte is their signature wine.

Colour is purple and there are aromas of red and black fruit. A superbly concentrated wine with a wash of spice, complex of flavour with rounded tannins and a long spice-driven finish. The winery, by the way, makes only blends and this man-made Malbec miracle is Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Kinsale’s Supper Club Now On Main Street. Come on Down. Wine and Dine. Whiskey too.


Kinsale’s Supper Club Now On Main Street

Come on Down. Wine and Dine. Whiskey too
Crème Brûlée, with a twist!


Kinsale’s Supper Club, in its new location at 2 Main Street, was buzzing when we arrived on a recent Wednesday. But no problem to the crew there who kept serving up delicious food with a smile.


Maybe we should talk about the drink first. Did you know that all the wines, including bubbles, are available by the glass? And there are some super wines on the list, ranging in price from six euro to over twenty per glass. 

The Irish whiskey list is also striking. It’s a long one with well over twenty offerings from Teeling’s Small Batch to the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve. And then they have cocktails galore, divided into Classics and House.


John Dory

You might never make it past the bar. And that’s all part of the Supper Club, also a social club. Come in for a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer or a whiskey and have a few nibbles with it, such as a few oysters (from nearby Oysterhaven of course!) to a Charcuterie Board.

The food menu is not as lengthy as the whiskey one but you do get a great choice, further enhanced by the fact that certain dishes (mussels, risotto, the charcuterie board) come in large and small sizes.

Coq au Vin
For my starter I was looking at the Crumbed Durrus Farmhouse Cheese with Roast Shallot & Cranberry Relish before going for their €8.00 Classic Chicken Caesar Salad (Crispy Cos Lettuce, Caesar Dressing, Garlic Croutons, Parmesan Shavings). Delighted with it, one of the best around. CL too was happy, having picked the Thai version of the Steamed Pot of Oysterhaven Mussels (9.00). The other style is Chardonnay, Garlic, Fennel & Cream.

Our wines were now being put to the test and each came up trumps. We had settled on the Guillemarine Picpoul de Pinet (8.10) from the Languedoc and the Rigal Malbec (8.10) from Cahors. 

Time then for the mains and the high standard was maintained, the staff busy but going about the place with pace, precision and patience, always time to answer a query or check if everything was okay. And it was, all the way.

CL picked the Coq au Vin (18.00) and enjoyed the Kinsale version (as against the Dordogne version!), a superb Breast & Thigh braised in red wine with shallots and mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Truffle Mash. The mash, by the way, was outstanding. My sauce, a tomato and wild garlic seasonal one, was also outstanding in my Fish of the Day dish, a fresh as could be and generous piece of John Dory (26.50).
Caesar Salad
Dessert was offered. It comes in two series, the usual “solid” one and the less usual “liquid”. The latter included a Tiramisu Cocktail (Absolut Vanilla, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, Butterscotch, Cream, Mascarpone), also a Lemon Meringue Pie (Absolut, Limoncello, Lemon Curd, Meringue).

We resisted and were tempted by the Apple Tarte Tatin but then spotted the Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée with Hazlenut Puff Pastry Swirl (7.00). We shared that beauty and were hardly a mouthful into it when we were thinking we should have ordered two! This is so good. They’ve put a fair bit of work into getting this right, we were told, and it is right, more than right, very highly recommended if you get the chance, as is indeed the Supper Club experience itself.

The Supper Club
2 Main Street
Kinsale
Co.Cork.
Phone: (021) 470 9233




Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Two to try from St Chinian and the lesser known Madiran


Two to try. St Chinian and the lesser known Madiran

Brumont Torus Madiran (AC) 2011, 14%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


Madiran is a lesser known wine region in Gascony in the South West of France and Tannat is the big red grape here. In this Torus, Tannat accounts for 50% while the two Cabernets, Sauvignon and Franc, account for the rest.

With freshness and depth from its terroir, it is a “perfect match for the local gastronomy” which features specialities such as Magret de Canard and Cassoulet, “foods that demand a wine of serious character and structure”. The Tannat provides all that plus tannins (of course!). When I first came across this grape I was told it was a man’s grape! Things have changed since then if this very approachable Torus is anything to go by.

It is dark ruby, lighter at the rim, legs slow to clear. Blackcurrant to the fore in the rather intense aromas. Rich and powerful is the first impression, great depth and concentration, fresh and full of flavour, good acidity too, and tannins as you'd expect from the name of the grape. Fruit and acidity well balanced all the way through to the soft finish. Highly Recommended.

The man’s grape tag may well be passé at this stage. Even six years ago I found a delicious rosé, with a strawberry nose, fruity and dry, entirely loveable and gluggable. Ten per cent Cab Sauv and 10% Cab Franc had been added to the Tannat and the winemakers of Irouleguy ended up with an award winning gem.

Research has shown too that the grape “has record levels of procyanidins, the heart-friendly chemical in red wine”. Grapes and Wines also says that Tannat reds have been and are being improved by modern wine-making methods (which include a tannin-softening technique). So not as tough as they were in the old days!



Tabatau Camprigou Saint-Chinian (AC) 2014, 13%, €15.20 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


St Chinian, just 20 miles from the Med, is in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, close to the other AOCs of Minervois and Faugeres. Tabatau, in Occitan, means child of the tobacconist. Winemaker Bruno Gracia’s grandfather was the village tobacconist, hence the unusual name for the winery. The blend for the 2014 is Syrah (50%), Grenache (40) and Carignan (10).

It is a ruby colour. There are red fruit aromas, moderate intensity. All that lovely red fruit, some spice too and silky smooth tannins (with just a little bite) combine on the palate. Medium bodied, with a nice balance between fruit and acidity, and Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Xarel-lo Still Wine. And two other whites.


Xarel-lo Still Wine 
And two other whites.
Albet i Noya Curiós Xarel-lo Penedes (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €13.90 Mary Pawle Wines

This is an organic wine, made from Xarel-lo, the grape synonymous with Cava, in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

Colour is light straw, very light. Fresh fruit, green and citrus, in the aromas, floral elements too. Fresh too on the supple palate, the flavours combining with the initial aromas to pleasantly surprise the taste buds, lively acidity also, and this lovely white also finishes well.

Food advice comes from the producers: on its own or serve with chicken or risotto dishes. Get a few of these in for the warmer days ahead (coming soon!!!). Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.


Gitton Chantalouette Pouilly Sur Loire (AC) 2013, 12.5%, €20.65 Karwig

A pleasing light straw colour. White fruit aromas of moderate intensity, hint of honey. Smooth on the palate, good mix of white fruit flavours, slight sweetness, and lively acidity before a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

It is a blend of mainly Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc (10 to 15%) and has spent 3 months in barrel. While there is a town called Chasselas in the French region of Maconnais, Wine-Searcher reckons the grape originated in Switzerland where it is the “most important and widely planted white grape variety” and matches well with traditional local cuisine like fondue. My match: Knockanore Cheddar and a few dried apricots from Lenny's  stall in the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

If you go reading up on this little known grape, avoid Grapes and Vines (Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand). “Suffers from a certain folie de grandeur” is one put down, referring to a Swiss wine. Delusions of grandeur. Don't think that Gitton Père et Fils would agree!

Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits (AOC), 13%, €27.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This wine is limpid in the glass, the colour a light to mid yellow. Nose is attractive, fresh, peachy. Superb fresh flavours (stone-fruit, citrus) in the mouth, no shortage of acidity either, all the way to a lip-smackingly finish. Recommended.

Maison Ambroise owns organically certified vineyards on some of the finest sites of the Côte de Nuit. I also spotted a mis-translation on the label. Their wines are generally “aged in French oak barrels to give addiction depth and complexity”. You have been warned!