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And Conor Mulhall, from the Little Milk Company, came yesterday to Jacob’s on the Mall, armed with a line-up of terrific cheeses, all made from organic cows’ milk supplied by the ten farmers, spread over Munster and South Leinster, that make up the company. The herds include a mix of Jersey and Montbeliarde cows and even some rare breed.
John Liston from Croom, one of the farmers, explained that just because they are organic doesn't mean they are a bunch of fuddy duddies. Far from it; they are cutting edge, some of them ranked in the very top tranche of Irish dairy farming. Indeed, one is introducing a robotic milking system (powered by alternative energy), a system that apparently is very well liked by the cows.
John did say that generally they are small farmers and their milk is being turned into cheese by small cheesemakers and they are Knockdrinna (Kilkenny), Mossfield (Offaly) and Knockanore (Waterford).
The tasting started with the Organic Brie, soft and creamy, rich and full of flavour. Superb. The new Brewer's Gold, a star in Paris and a top seller at Christmas, was semi-soft and, its rind washed daily by a local ale, might well have been better paired with a local beer, but there was no denying the beautiful flavours contained in this rich and creamy cheese. Watch out for it!
Then we were on to the multi-award winning 9 month cheddar, this made in an 18kg wheel from pasteurised milk. The body may be firm but the cream is till there, mild and gorgeous with earthy tones and a nutty aroma.
Next up was a 12 month Cheddar, 13 months actually. Harder for sure but still that creaminess is there. This too has picked up its share of awards and was a favourite at the Jacob's tasting. In fact there is no stopping these guys as their last cheese, the 18 month Vintage Cheddar, is also a medal winner. This is that bit drier, that bit more flavoursome, maybe a bit too strong for some but well worth a try.
All the cheeses are hand-made and hand-turned using traditional methods. No fewer than 17 awards have been won in the past year, most of them internationally. The judges like them and I'd have to agree that these cheeses are all very good indeed.
The wines too were quite interesting as they were described by Billy Henchy as own-brand wines. He explained: “Anthony Tindall has been flying round the world since the company's launch in 2004, visiting our producers and sourcing the best wines for our customers. In 2007 we decided to fly solo by producing our own range of wines from South Africa. Swallows Tale was 'hatched'. Puna Snipe from Chile and Hooded Plover from Australia migrated to Ireland over the next couple of years expanding our avian collection and increasing our offering of consistently high quality, good value wines to our customers.”
You’ll see Puna Snipe in quite a few restaurants and that is the name that Tindals use to market their Chilean own-brands. We enjoyed a Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 Chardonnay and both came across really well, the Chardonnay going down well with the Brie. And the two Chilean reds, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot, both 2012, were also very acceptable, especially with the Cheddars.
Two Tindal blends came from South Africa, both really good, the Swallow’s Tail Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and Swallow’s Tail Sauvignon Blanc Chenin Blanc 2012. Again the red was better with the cheddars while the lively if lightly flavoured white paired off well with the Brewers Gold. Would have liked to have tried that with either a beer or a cider.
So well done to Conor, to Billy and to John for the information and insight they brought to our little corner of Jacob’s on the Mall on Tuesday afternoon.