Friday, September 30, 2011


Jane Ferrari with Maurice O'Mahony (left) and yours truly at Ballymaloe


Jane Ferrari, the roving ambassador for Yalumba Wine Company (Australia), was in Ballymaloe yesterday. Despite being in the process of recovery from a recent knee operation, the indefatigable Aussie was in top form.

Busy, busy, busy. In the afternoon she spoke to the Cookery School, early evening she conducted a wine tasting and later a full scale wine dinner. And all that after a hectic few days and nights in Dublin.

Dodgy knee or not, she kept her lively show on the road. She also writes a blog and her latest post concerned the Irish game v Australia. Obviously she likes her sport and, also obviously, her sportsmen, including current favourite Ronan O’Gara.

But back to the wines, all produced in the Barossa area by the long standing family company and available here through Cassidy Wines.

Started off with the Pewsey Vale Riesling, produced in the high country above the valley floor and costing about €13.00. “This Riesling is absolutely spot on with Mediterranean-Asian crossover food,” said Jane. “It is essential to have this well chilled,” added Ballymaloe sommelier Colm McCan.

Jane then moved on to their Barossa Eden Viognier 2009, perfumed and luscious and made from super ripe grapes, handpicked. “This means the yield is halved but the wine is pretty elegant.”

The second Viognier, the Virgilius Eden Valley 2008, comes from the same 22 acre small yield vineyard. At €30.00, it is double the price of the first one. Hints of ginger in the peachy apricot aroma, it is an “unctuous and complex its best with food....complements a wide range of flavours”.

The Barossa valley floor is too hot for Pinot Noir and the Yalumba favourite is Grenache. Jane gave the winemaker’s point of view: “Grenache is easy to get along with. If you’re looking for the Diva of grapes, it has to be Viognier.”

The first Grenache was the Barossa Eden Bush Vine 2009 (€17). The fruit comes from 14 different parcels on the valley floor, mainly river sand. “It is raspberry over rosemary, berry over herb, no heat. The Number One word with Grenache is balance and this medium weight wine is a perfect match for juicy chargrilled pork chops.”

Then we moved on to the Single Site Bowden Vineyard Moppa Block Grenache 2006, darker, more cherry, more intense. This fruit comes from a tiny vineyard and 2006 was a “stellar vintage”. This is a “cracker of a food wine, ideal with roast veal, chorizo and other Spanish, Italian dishes”. Unfortunately, this gem is not available in Ireland.

Next up was their €40.00 The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz 2005. “This was originally called Galway Claret and is a bit of a specialty with us. It is the old Claret style and we are trying to keep the style alive. The Cabernet dominates the nose while the long lasting palate is down to the Shiraz. This could live forever!”

Then we moved to Shiraz and “into carnivorous territory”. Stared with the €24.00 Barossa Eden Patchwork 2008, an “old school juicy fruity middle weight”.

Next came The Octavius Old Vine 2004, a “serious heavyweight, long lasting in the mouth, great length of power and the flavours remain, ideal with meat off the bone, including venison fillets and also good with vegetarian dishes such as those featuring Shitake mushrooms”.

We finished on a sweet note with the Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier, Wrattonbully 2009, €18.00. It is a gorgeous dessert wine and Jane said cheese makers and dessert chefs “are going nuts for it. It goes well too with old fashioned desserts such as apple crumble.”

A lovely end to a lovely evening with a lovely person who entertained and informed with an abundance of down to earth fact and insight and no shortage of good humour. We cheered her off the stage and I reckon she’ll be cheering for Ronan on Sunday.

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