Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude. Especially when it come to food!


Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude
Especially when it come to food!
Beef Brisket Croquette

Kinsale’s renowned Good Food Circle seem to have backed a winner with their Restaurant Week. The place is abuzz as was Finns’ Table when we walked in there around 7.00pm last Monday. We hadn’t met Julie and chef John with quite a while so it was great to take the opportunity to eat, drink and chat in such a lovely and lively spot.


Julie had reserved the “Love Table” for us, knowing that we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. So we sipped our Veuve Clicquot and soon we were tucking into two delightful mini-loaves from John’s kitchen, a treacle bread and also a potato bread, each different, both delicious.

So, what do they give you for your twenty euro. A choice of four starters and four mains, all really top class. One starter was Mushrooms on toast, crispy hen’s egg and Hollandaise sauce, another was Jerusalem Artichoke soup with honey, almond and rosemary granola.

Not easy to turn down either of those but I picked the Braised Irish Beef Brisket Croquet with celeriac remoulade and horseradish cream. The packed croquet was full of flavour, the remoulade and cream the perfect partners. CL spotted that the local mussels (from nearby Oysterhaven) were enhanced with coconut, coriander, ginger and lemongrass. Oh, the steamed bivalves have rarely been so well accompanied in a bowl.

Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre - we would meet Olivier from the winery later on in the evening - were produced and much appreciated as the lovely occasion unfolded.

So what would we have for mains?  The quartet on offer were all very tempting indeed. There was a Confit Duck Leg, slow cooked, with Rosscarbery black pudding, and cider braised lentils and also a Vegetarian Wellington (Uncle Tom’s Turnip, Sweet Potato and Bandon Vale Cheddar). 

The Irish Lamb Tasting plate was CL’s choice: Roast Rump, Slow Cooked Neck and Braised Shoulder, with Fondant Potato and Jus. We swapped wines at this point with CL taking the Pinot Noir and I taking the Sauvignon Blanc. The SB proved a perfect match with the exquisite Seafood Bourride, a Provencal style fish stew containing lightly poached local fish and shellfish in saffron broth with garlic aioli and herbs, a delightful  mix of flavours and aromas.
Bourride

I’ve often thought that it is the small things on your plate that can indicate a chef’s skill. And what caught our attention here, in the most delightful way, was the side of Mixed Garden vegetables. No exotic veg included but excellent stuff, superbly cooked and a pure delight on the palate. Still wondering what little extra magic he added here. 

Fair play to the Finns. Since moving to Kinsale from nearby Timoleague about six years ago they have played a full role in the Good Food Circle, as indeed do all the members. Bookings have been brisk for this week’s combined venture and you may find it too late to reserve a place in some venues. 

But two excellent courses and a glass of top notch Veuve Clicquot champagne for just twenty euro is well worth checking out. The full list involved is: Actons Hotel, The Blue Haven, The Bulman, Jim Edwards, Finns’ Table, Fishy Fishy, Man Friday, The Supper Club, The Trident Hotel, The White House, and The White Lady. The week opened on the 18th and closes on the 24th - no time to lose!
Lamb

The big event for the Good Food Circle comes every October when the annual Gourmet Festival takes place. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. And, believe it or not, bookings can now be made. Check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”  for further info.

Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the national Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 

Cast Your Vote in the 9th All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off on Sunday 7th April.  Kinsale Good Food Circle want your help to find the best chowder chef in Ireland. A representative from each of the 32 counties will compete for the title of “All-Ireland Chowder Champion” at the annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off. Everyone attending the event will have a chance to vote for their favourite chowder-chef. The food festival in the streets will be held on the Saturday (6th).


FINNS' TABLE, 6 MAIN STREET, KINSALE. 
Phone:  021 4709636



Monday, February 18, 2019

Masi & Louis Jadot Feature as Findlaters bring Wineberries to Cork

Masi and Louis Jadot Feature as Findlaters bring the Wineberries to Cork
Part Two: Masi, Louis Jadot
Mick O'Connell MW of Findlaters talking to guests at the Chapoutier stand.

Masi (Italy) and Louis Jadot (France) were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Masi 

Masi are “one of the great entrepreneurs of Italian wine,” according to The Modern History of Italian Wie and they were ably represented in the Montenotte by Export Manager Giacomo Boscaini.

Masi are well known for using techniques that enhance the flavour and concentration of their wines but I was somewhat surprised when he mentioned the technique in conjunction with the white he was pouring, the Massianco. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Grigio and 15% Verduzzo from Friuli. The Verduzzo spends three weeks drying and this enables it play quite a part in the final result (the fruits are vinified separately). This 2017 carries the DOC de Venezia.

They are proud of their techniques, experts in “enhancing aromas and tastes using lightly semi dried grapes”. This appassimento leads to a higher concentration of fruit and it seems to work well here.

There are excellent white fruit and blossom aromas and the colour is light gold with a green hue. This is Pinot Grigio plus, with character and concentration, a lip drying acidity and an impressive finalé. Well worth a try.

Just as I was going to another table, Giacomo asked me to try their Canevel Brut Prosecco Superiore DOCG. I’m so glad he did. I can take or leave Prosecco but will forever regard it in a different light after tasting this beauty, proudly sporting its DOCG, the fruit from the prime area of Valdobbiadene. A benchmark in the Canevel range, a dry and silky sparkling wine with delicate aromas of apples and spices. More than enough to convert me!

Skipped on down to Tuscany then for the first of the Masi reds. It was the Poderi Bellovile Rosso di Toscana (IGT) 2015. “Fresh, fruity, an everyday wine with lots of Tuscan character.” Would do nicely at the weekends too!

It is made from a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo grapes grown in the Cinigiano hills on the Poderi del Bello Ovile estate. Masi's purchase of this estate in collaboration with Conti Serego Alighieri marks the return of the descendants of the poet Dante to Tuscany.

Off to Argentina now with Giacomo to try the Passo Doble Valle de Uco 2016, a red wine with an unusually high aromatic content made on the organically run Masi Tupungato estate at Mendoza. The fruit is grown on sandy soil at a height of 1000 metres.

It is striking for its intense fruitiness and delicate spiciness and lovely finish. Its strong and exuberant character comes from the local Malbec grape, while the addition of lightly dried Corvina Veronese (that technique again!) gives it the easy appeal and attractiveness of Venetian wines.

Superb Prosecco
It is also the subject of a double fermentation. At the end of the first (after a month), the dried Corvina is added to start the second fermentation.

And Giacomo still had one big treat for me, the Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG. Proud, majestic, complex and exuberant: this is a special cru version of Masi's gentle giant, Costasera.

And here Masi's unrivalled expertise in the Appassimento technique is used to give the grapes a long period of further ripening on bamboo racks and then there’s an ageing period for the wine of at least three years in casks made from the finest wood types.

The expert use of indigenous grapes for the Valpolicella Classica area - Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara - is enriched by the addition of the unique Oseleta. Needless to say, this was superb!

The Oseleta is interesting as it had been forgotten until re-discovered by Giacomo’s uncle and “now we are using it”. Just goes to show that while companies are important, it is the contributions of individuals that can make all the difference. Saluti!



Maison Louis Jadot
Nicolas was in great form at the Louis Jadot stand. We had a Louis Jadot dinner with Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director of the company, in Inchydoney Lodge not too long ago and you may read about the wines here

Interestingly, Nicolas told me they had their own cooperage, Cadus, that they bought in 1996. Our first wine though, the Chablis 2017, is unoaked, deliciously fresh with a beautiful mouthfeel. Next up was the Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2016. After a soft pressing, part of the juice is fermented in "double barrels" of 406 litres. The other part is vinified and aged in stainless steel vats. Ageing usually lasts 13 to 15 months on fine lees before bottling. This is more intense, with more volume than the previous one, with good acidity and a really long finish. “Will last for years,’ said Nicolas.

Jadot make wines in Burgundy and also in neighbouring Beaujolais and when I came back to the reds, Nicolas offered the Fleurie 2017. Fleurie is one of the ten crus in the region and straightaway you notice its bright light red colour. “It is one hundred per cent Gamay. Red fruits, acidity, some tannins, well balanced.” A lovely drop as we might say around here.

In 1996, Louis Jadot bought Chateau de Jacques in Morgon, “a really old winery” who also have holdings in other crus here. Morgon is one of the main crus and this 2014 bottle had the added distinction of coming from the highly regarded Cotes de Py with its “granitic volcanic soil”. It was a cold year, natural yeast was used here and the wine spent 12-15 months in oak. Because of the cold, it took a while to open out “but now it’s getting better and better”. 

Torres and Hugel were also well represented here and you may read about my chats with them here.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town


Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town
Part One: Hugel, Torres, and Chapoutier

Torres and Hugel were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Hugel
Wines of Alsace in the Montenotte, with the city in the background
I met a proper star at the Famille Hugel stand where I was greeted by none other than Jean Frédéric Hugel himself and a taste of their outstanding Gentil. Gentil is an Alsace tradition, made from all the white grapes of the estate. And it is done carefully, to a very high and controlled standard.

I’ve been very partial to it for quite a few years now (the Hugel one is on sale in Bradley’s). Jean Frédéric told me it is their best seller. “It is produced from six different grapes. These are blended after the wine-making stage to balance it better. It is super versatile and works well by the glass in restaurants.” I thought that was interesting as I cannot recall seeing it offered around this area. Maybe there’s an opening there - it is delicious and, as Jean Frédéric said, super versatile.

Many shrug when climate change is mentioned but those closest to the ground - the farmers - know it is happening. Jean Frédéric referred to it as he offered me their 2009 Pinot Noir, “their simplest Pinot but from a great vintage, stellar”. Especially because of climate change, the quality of Pinot Noir in the northern regions, including Alsace of course, is incomparable to what it was twenty years ago.” Burgundy beware seems to be the message.

Back in the old days, Alsace was known for its sweet wines and, like Germany (after Liebfraumilch), it took it a while to regain the respect for its wine. “But we have learned from those mistakes and are now back on track as a region”. I think that has been the case for quite a while now.

This was well illustrated with a couple of excellent Rieslings, beginning with the 2016, “a textbook Riesling, very dry”.  The 2015 was very dry again, “even a little flinty, a little bit smoky.. just a little bit of age now but this will evolve well”.

I then spotted the unmanned  Chapoutier stand nearby and helped myself to the sip of the white: Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2017, quite aromatic, good acidity and with a long finish. The whites here are often under-appreciated. The winemaker’s motto by the way is “Enjoy. Don’t over-analyse.”


Chapoutier’s winery and negociant business is situated in the Rhone area (with vineyards further afield, including Australia). “Our own vineyards and the single vineyards that we select from are cultivated either organically or biodynamically.”  He is of course famous for his reds and had the Cotes de Rhone Collection Bio on show here. I previously did a little feature on him and you may read it here

Torres
With Miguel Torres (left) in Dublin
"The more we care about the earth,
 the better our wine"

Torres is a big company but it is still a family company. And concerned about the climate. Just like Hugel, they see what is happening to the earth. 

Less than four years ago, Miguel Torres, one of the family’s fifth generation, spoke in Dublin saying the threats from climate change are been seen “more and more”. “Vineyards are very much at risk. Hailstorms are an example.” And they are doing something about it as you may read here in my article “Message in a bottle”

Lucas, whose parents are from Argentina, managed the Torres stand in the Montenotte and told me he had three different wines from different regions (plus one from Chile where the family is credited with reviving and transforming the industry). 

Torres are based in Penedes (near Barcelona) in the north east of Spain but our first wine was from the other side, an Albarino by Bruxas from Rias Baixas. No oak is used and it spends just six hours on lees. Very light, citrusy and refreshing with great acidity. “Very good with all seafood and goats cheese,” Lucas advised.

Torres seek out higher vineyards (climate change again a factor) and the grapes for the next wine, the Altos Ibericos, are grown between 400 and 700 metres above sea level in Rioja Alvesa. The altitude helps the grapes retain acidity. 

Sixteen months in French oak and two years in bottle qualifies this 2012 as Reserva. It is elegant, very smooth, with softer tannins. “As it ages, the tannins will soften more, the flavours will become more like dried fruit and the colour will fade a bit.” Good now and good in the future! Oh, by the way, it is one hundred per cent Tempranillo.

And another high vineyard featured in the story of our next wine, the Celeste Criaza 2016 from Ribera del Duero. The fruit is grown in the western part of the region at a height of 900 metres above sea level. It is more or less a continental climate and the diurnal range “is good, with cool nights”. And in cooler areas, the Tempranillo grape develops a thicker skin to help protect its valuable properties. Lucas described it as a fruit bomb but it is quite a rounded one, very drinkable indeed. Crianza means it has spent 12 months in French and US oak and 12 months on bottle before release.

So now to Chile and the old vines Manso de Velasco (grown close to the ocean), a superb Cabernet Sauvignon from 2013. It has spent 18 months in French oak, small barrels. It was a warm year and the abv is 13.5%. “Fruit flavours are of blackberries and cherries. Drink now,” Lucas says, “but it will last”. One to watch out for!

Jadot and Masi also featured; details here.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Amuse Bouche


At each place there is at least one hollowed-out tree truck with a hole at the end, where at harvest time they stomp grapes to get juice for making wine. The two women said they could easily get 1 ton of grapes into a tree trunk. First the boys walk on the grapes, and then the older and heavier men crush them harder. … It takes about two hours to finish the job. Turpa, one of the women, proudly pointed to one tree trunk and said the family had been using it for three centuries.

from In Search of Bachhus by George M. Taber (2009). Recommended. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Future Trends of an Exciting Wine List


Future Trends of an Exciting Wine List
It's Natural, says Beverley. Bryan's more cautious.


There’s definitely a massive trend towards natural wines, according to Beverly Mathews, owner of the L’Atitude 51 wine-bar in Cork. “Paris, London and New York are leading the way. People are looking specifically for natural wines. It’s a definite trend. Jean Foillard, who visited L’Atitude last year, is a star in Beaujolais. Aldi sold a natural orange wine last year and sold out quickly. Natural wines are full of character but can be quirky.”

Dalcassian Wines & Spirits came to Cork in force last week for a portfolio tasting. And very impressive it was too. It wasn’t all tasting of course and there was quite a bit of talking too. One of the best discussions came in a side room and was entitled Future Trends of an Exciting Wine List.  Beverley and Bryan McCarthy (Head Chef at Greene’s Restaurant) were the main speakers; Jules Mahon, Business Development Manager with Dalcassian, was in the chair and smoothly facilitated a very interesting hour or so on the main subject.

Bryan wasn’t as convinced about natural wine’s progress saying world trends in food and wine don’t necessarily follow through in Ireland.
L'Atitude 51, with natural wine-maker Thierry Puzelat (right)

He admitted to being surprised when he began to work with Frank Schiltkamp a few years ago. “I work closely on the pairing with the somm. It is when we introduce a new dish that more cooperation is required and it was something new to me that I may have to take some element out of the new dish and then Frank will have a matching wine. It’s all about the balance between food and wine. Wines by the glass is a growing trend and we now have twenty by the glass.”

The chef has noticed that German, Austrian and Portuguese wines are becoming more sought after, though the “old” wines are still popular but thought that in the future they will be seen less.
Bryan sees an increase in the popularity of Portuguese wines. This Reynolds range is  part of the Dalcassian portfolio

Beverley told us that L’Atitude is a fully licensed wine bar so they can serve a glass of wine without food and that “gives us flexibility to play around with wines. Wine is the most important element to us. We are a wine led bar.”

Jules then asked if there was a demand for lower ABV wines.
Bushby’s Strawberries at Greene's, paired with Alasia Moscato d'Asti, a low alcohol frizzante
Beverley said she gets lots of requests and that there is a definite demand for low alcohol drinks. Greene’s have introduced what they call “Sips” for couples on their tasting menu. So one gets the full wine treatment while the other can opt for Sips at about half the price.

Beverley wasn’t impressed with alcohol free wines saying “they’re not essentially wines”. But she said the technology is improving and that Torres have an 0.5% line. “There are lots of low alcohol beers and ciders, though”.

No matter the ABV, Bryan’s main aim is that the wine complements the food, doesn’t clash with it and doesn’t overpower it. Frank will have his own aims but “we do work well together”.

Organic Wine
Brian said that, for him, flavours in organic wine are similar to those in non-organic. For him too, it was more about provenance.

Beverley: “In recent years concern for the environment has been spilling over into food and wine. People are asking more and more for organic, bio and natural. Customers are drinking better, making more informed choices and are more demanding. Wines, whose sales were once static, are now more popular and giving us more fun. People now ask for different grape varieties, want to explore”.

Brian agreed the people “are more experimental”. Frank has spotted the trend and people are buying accordingly.

Beverley is a big fan of Coravin. “We have over a hundred wines by the glass. Coravin is essential and not just for the more expensive wines. I know the wines are fresh from it and we use it on many wines. Wines are at their freshest and people get variety.”

How best to present the wine list
Greene’s sommelier Frank says they have tried various formats, grouping by region, by flavour profile, by price. And it would seem that price is key for many. “Even corporate customers have a budget”. 
An Italian at Cask (Greene's little sister)

Frank though loves seeing a customer who knows exactly what he wants and ordering it straightaway. Sometimes that can be a lower priced wine and sometimes a top of the range champagne but, either way, the somm gives credit to the customer. Bryan said sample sips are not generally available in the restaurant (Greene’s) but are in Cask.

Beverley’s list is divided by style. “We have six or seven choices under each category. It encourages the customer to explore and not be daunted. It helps us that we can offer the customer a taste before purchase.”

Sparkling Trends?
A popular Friday Fizz at L'Atitude

Bryan says sparkling sales are customer driven. Prosecco is the most popular but Cava and Champagne are available. Frank concurred: “Frizzante is most popular because of price, especially among groups of women who’ll order a bottle before a meal. It is fun and nice to drink.” Beverly bemoaned that Cava suffers because of higher import duties and Bryan agreed that those same taxes “have a lot to do with what people drink”.

Could Crémant be the next big thing? “You do see it,” says Frank “but it’s still a hard sell. On the other hand, you don’t sell champagne, people buy it!” Beverley confirmed that champagne is selling well now after stalling for a good few years.

Of course, despite all the problems (including taxes of all kinds), people can still help themselves. L’Atitude have a long-running Friday Fizz where customers can buy a glass of the nominated bubbles at a very reasonable price and the Raven (who held a successful Spanish wine tasting recently) offer all wines at the same price, €22.00 per bottle, every Monday. night.

The Commons Inn for Fresh and Local


The Commons Inn for Fresh and Local

Tasty wings with Louisiana sauce
If you’re in the Blackpool area and looking for a meal, why not try the Commons Inn, now over thirty years in business. Michael Fawcett is the chef here and has a passion for fresh products and loves working with products from the English Market Cork. Mike, originally from Victoria Australia, found his home in Cork City and has been living here for 17 years.

We had the opportunity to try their Early Bird recently and enjoyed it. Nothing too highfalutin here, just good produce well handled and neatly presented and served with a smile.

Wings are a standard in many Irish hotels and bars and I started off with the Commons Buffalo Chicken Wings: Crisp chicken wings, tossed in Frank’s Louisiana hot sauce and served with Cashel blue cheese dip and celery sticks. Good quality chicken and that sauce was superb.
Salad

CL picked the Classic Caesar Salad of Cos lettuce, crisp bacon lardons, garlic herb croutons, parmesan cheese, creamy Caesar dressing. Lots of bacon but well assembled and, may I say, well demolished! 

Other starters on the Early Bird include Chef’s Soup of the Day, served with freshly made brown bread, and also the Chilli and Lime Battered Tiger Prawns.

Hard to beat a burger in a bar (the dining area is at one end of the long bar) and the Black Angus House Burger consists of Streaky bacon, aged cheddar, beer battered onion ring, baby gem lettuce, vine tomato, ramekin of house relish, toasted pretzel bun & chunky chips. The pretzel bun might be a bit unusual but the whole assembly hit the spot.

O’Connell's Salmon, with Tender stem broccoli, sautéed baby potatoes, spiced chorizo butter, was another good plateful. Other mains available are Classic Chicken Maryland , Irish 10oz Black Angus Sirloin Steak  (€5.00 supplement), Roast of the Day  and Thai Red Roasted Vegetable Curry.
Our mission was to try out the Early Bird but I must admit we failed at the final hurdle. The tempting line-up of desserts read: Bread & Butter Pudding Vanilla custard; Warm Belgian Chocolate Brownie Warm chocolate sauce, chocolate chip ice cream; Selection of Irish Artisan Ice Cream Crisp Tuile basket & strawberries; Dessert of the Day, Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Salmon 

Prices are reasonable: 2 courses €21 or 3 courses €25 all day, every day.

  • Check out also Make this Sunday a great one with a three-course lunch in Bailey's restaurant for only €19.95 per person! Booking is essential, so please call on 021 4210300 or email sales@commonsinn.com 
  • Special event coming - details below




Wednesday, February 13, 2019

SuperValu Feature Spanish Wines. Offers until March 6th


SuperValu Feature Spanish Wines
Offers from 14th February until March 6th
Great case offer from Rioja (above)

Mosaic “Winemaker Selection” Priorat (DO) 2016, 14.5%, €15.00 (was 23.99) SuperValu

Full bodied red Priorat wines from a small region in Catalonia (north-eastern Spain), have been finding a much wider audience in the past few decades. So I was expecting good things from this Mosaic “Winemakers’ Selection”. And I got them.

Many Priorat wines are based on Garnacha (Grenache across the border). This excellent blend, while having 15% Garnacha, is mainly composed of Syrah (58%) while Carignan (20) and Cabernet Sauvignon (7) complete the mix.

Colour of this very accessible wine is purple. There are complex aromas with red fruits and spice featuring. Intense and full-bodied, moderate spice all the way, fresh and dry, tannins silky smooth with hardly a bite at all in a deliciously lingering finish. High quality here, and now at a terrific price.

A few tips from the winery: 
We advise decanting the wine a few minutes before serving. 
Suggested wine temperature: 15-17 ºC.Excellent with roasted meats. 
Ideal to match with pasta and rice dishes

“La Maldita” Garnacha Rioja (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €10.00 (12.99)

La Maldita refers to the difficulty of growing Garnacha and apparently means “little cursed one”. Don’t think our local translation would be that mild. If indeed, it is that hard to raise. I hadn’t heard it before. Wine-Searcher has a good opinion of it: “It is particularly versatile both in the vineyard and the winery, which may explain why it is one of the most widely distributed grapes in the world”.

As you know, it is a regular part of the blend in Tempranillo dominated Rioja and is grown all over Spain with great success, particularly in Priorat.

In any case, what we have here is a really quaffable young wine. Colour is ruby and the aromas are fresh with balsamic and herbaceous notes. On the palate it is fresh and juicy with a terrific mouthfeel, the smooth tannins almost unnoticeable. Young and fruit driven, it has charm and drinkability. You’ll enjoy a glass of this, even a second one.

Condado de Oriza Roble Ribera Del Duero (DO) 2017, 13.5%, €10.00 (14.99)
Say “hola” to this impressive youth from Ribera Del Duero where they’ll tell you they make better wines from the Tempranillo grape than their Riojan counterparts. 

Wine has been produced in this beautiful wine region since Roman times, though it became well known outside of Spain only in the 1990s. Nature can be a tough taskmaster here where temperatures in summer can see big variations between the heat of the day and the cool of the night. And even more so between the summer (up to the mid 40s) and winter (down to minus 20).

Just two hours north of Madrid, there are about 300 vineyards following the banks of the Duero River in the Castilla y León region, a flowing swathe of land that’s approximately 115 kms long and 35 kms wide. A few years back, Larousse Wine described the DO as “truly the queen of the Iberian peninsula and the cradle of the greatest wines”.

This Condado de Oriza is one hundred per cent Tempranillo (also known here as Tinta del Pais) and has been aged in new American oak for six months, a style known as Roble. After the oak, it is kept in bottle in the cellar for another six months.
It has a dark ruby colour. Ripe darker fruits (plum, cherry) in the aromas, plus spice and fresh herb notes. Rich fruit flavours fill the palate, muted spice, hints of the oak, full bodied and the finish is strong and long.

Serve it at 16 to 17 degrees and pair, the vineyard advise, with lamb chops, pies, cured or semi-cured Manchego or Gouda cheese, as well as dates wrapped in bacon.

“Castillo de Embid” Crianza Cariñena (DO) 2012, 13.5%, €8.00 (11.99)

From the family vineyards of Ignacio Marin comes this invigorating blend of Temranillo and Garnacha.  It is a bright ruby and the legs are slow enough to clear. Cherry features in the aromas, with a touch of oak also. Fruity and juicy on the palate, velvety with excellent acidity plus a long-ish finish with smooth tannins. Quite an engaging amalgam of the two grapes. Another good value drink from the Specially Sourced list.

Cariñena is just one of several DO titles used for the wines of Aragon, northern Spain. A wine labeled crianza has spent one year in oak barrels. The producers suggest serving at between 16 and 18 degrees and pairing with red meat roasts, strong cheese.

Abellio Albarino Rias Baixas (DO) 2017, 12.5%, €10.00 (was 14.99).

Liked the colour of this immediately, an inviting medium gold. It is hand-harvested and ideal with shellfish and fish and also recommended for lightly spiced Asian chicken dishes. The medium intense aromas are of white fruit. It has a smooth character on the palate, intense fruit (pear, apple and peach) with refreshing minerality. It is zesty and well balanced and a favourite of mine.


Castaño GSM Yecla (DO) 2016, 14%, €10.00 (was 12.99)

This is another of Supervalu’s Specially Sourced series and a most enjoyable one. Smooth and restrained throughout, the fruit comes from the winery’s family owned vineyards in Yecla in south east Spain.

it is a blend of the Mediterranean varieties, Garnacha (15%), Syrah (25) and Monastrell (60), the GSM you often see in southern France. Monastrell, known as Mourvedre in France, is the most widely grown red grape in the small Yecla DO.

This GSM has a dark ruby colour. Ripe fruits on the nose. Balanced and rounded on the palate with juicy fruit (plum, cherry), a touch of spice, good acidity too, and a lingering finish. This barrel aged blend (4 months), was one of the best of my samples and is well worth a try.

On the Case!
As usual the Supervalu buyers have come up with a very attractive case deal, featuring a velvety Crianza from Rioja. Normal price for this six bottle deal is ninety euro but during the Spanish sale you can get it for €50.00. Not to be sniffed at! Though you probably will have a nose or two at the aromas before enjoying!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest. Wines, Spirits and Beers Events


CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers Events

Silver Spear Gin Tasting at The Woodford. Date has been changed and is not on this Friday.



West Kerry Take Over Bierhaus Taps

It’s time to get shouting about @CorkAleTrail 1st monthly event next Saturday16/02  7.30pm  @BierhausCork with @westkerrybeer #taptakeover #meetthebtewer 5 Beers pouring! @GrandCruBeers @Cadastrophe @bradleys_offlic @HouseAbbot @FranWellBrewPub @the_friary_bar #CAT


Meet the Alternatives - Wine Tasting
by Woodberrys 3 Middle Street Mews
Middle Street
Galway
Thu, 21 February 2019
17:00 – 19:00 GMT
We have selected 12 wines we think every adventurous wine lover must try! These are wines that you will love but may have overlooked when buying a bottle of your favourite Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Malbec! Call in a try these wines your guaranteed to find one you like.
THIS IS A FREE INFORMAL TASTING.
PARTICIPANTS MUST BE OVER 18. ID MAYBE REQUIRED
Book here


New consumer website for Australian wine. Packed with info.
The new consumer website will engage consumers with rich content that is educational and user-friendly. It highlights Australia’s 65 premium wine regions with winemaker profiles, stories, regional events and insights into some of Australia’s most popular wine varieties.
Content will be updated regularly and a simplified Chinese version will be published shortly.
Visit www.australianwine.com to explore this new resource for global consumers.

Wine Academy Weekend at Sheen Falls


Gallery Westport A Special Event!


The Cork Wine School Spring Dates


Valentine’s Night at The Rising Sons

Our beer & food pairings have always been popular with you rising sons and daughters and for this reason we're showing some love this Valentine's Day. Introducing our Beer and Dessert pairing - a guided tasting of our award-winning beer and a selection of sweet delights made in-house, paired perfectly for your Valentine night. All for the sweet price of €10.
Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7 PM – 10 PM

Spanish Wine Week 
ICEX Spain Exports and Investments and the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain in Dublin organize the IV edition of the SPANISH WINE WEEK (SWW), the biggest Spanish wine promotion event that takes place in Ireland between the 8th and the 14th of April. The main objective of the actions organized in the framework of that week and simultaneously in various cities in Ireland, is to give the greatest possible visibility to Spanish wines and their different regions, in addition to showing their diversity and high quality.

The different activities organized include tastings, dinner paired, discounts on the purchase of wine and promotions in stores and media, as well as raffles in the press and social networks. This aims to give the public the opportunity to taste a wide variety of wines through different experiences, while encouraging the consumption and purchase of Spanish wine throughout the week, precisely because of the offers and discounts offered by the stores , bars and restaurants.

The Cork Beer Mile with CAT
https://www.facebook.com/events/2177699485814114/ 
Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 6:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Get your walking shoes on and join us on a walk around Cork's must prestigious craft beer bars! 

This time we're in cahoots with two outstanding Irish breweries DOT Brew & Larkin's Brewing Company! More details to be announced soon! Who are the lads? 
​Dot :
Dot Brew is a gypsy micro brewery brand with roots strongly cultivated in Dublin 8. Specialising in uniquely designed barrel aged and blended beers for an evolving Irish and International palette. Dot adopts maturation and blending techniques from the Whiskey and Wine industries and applying them to break the boundaries of beer production. Dot has been rated one of the top 10 Irish brewers by Untappd users for 2018. (Placed 6th) 
Larkins :
Launched in 2018 after dipping their toes into the brewing market at the RDS Irish Craft Beer Festival the previous year, Larkins has already been rated one of the top 5 Irish brewers by Untappd users for 2018. (Placed 3rd) An independently family owned  brewery based in County Wicklow, Larkins set their focus on making lager style beers as good as they can be along with working on other styles of beers from IPA’s , Saisons to Pale Ales. 



Gin Tasting!!
Friday, March 1, 2019 at 7 PM – 9:15 PM

Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar & RestaurantOld Church of Ireland, Lower Bridge Street, Killorglin 6
see pic downloads..
On the night, we will present a selection of 6 superior gins, a selection of premium tonics and explore the different herbs and botanical's used in the distilling process of creating craft gins.  Info here https://www.facebook.com/events/236122720613873/ 

A welcome G&T will be served at 7.15 pm to allow the group to mingle before the tasting, the tastings itself will begin at 7:30 pm (sharp) in the upstairs Mezzanine.

You also have the option to have a meal if you so wish before or after the tastings.

We will be sampling lovely gins, its will be a unique night you won't want to miss

Tickets are €25 plus booking fees they are available through www.ticketstop.ie

There are only 24 spaces available so book early to avoid disappointment!