Monday, September 30, 2013

A Knight for a Hour on A Day in Paradise.

A Knight for a Hour on A Day in Paradise.

“Sir Billy Leon”, the receptionist repeated as he walked down the lobby at Hennessy’s Distillery Offices in Cognac. I haven't often been called Mister. So, Sir was certainly a step up.

The young man, in his three piece suit, was new to the job I reckon. I had put my name down around noon for the 2.30 tour. After lunch I had returned and indicated to him that he had my name in the book and thought he had ticked it off.

So I was quite surprised by the call as the impressed tourists looked around to see who the sir might be. I might have enjoyed the moment more but I reckon the shorts and tee didn't quite fit the "Sir" image.

In any case, it was all sorted easily enough and soon we crossed the Charente River in  a company boat to start the tour. Quite an interesting one as it turned out with a very polished guide indeed. Highlight was perhaps the visit to Paradise, the place where they keep the older cognacs. The photo shows some from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Was reminded by the incident when Colm McCan got in touch to say that Hennessey’s Marc Boissonnet will be in Ballymaloe on the 10th as part of the WineGeese Series. Should be a brilliant evening. Details below..

Sir's shot at Paradise!

Hennessy Cognac event, at Ballymaloe, Thursday 10th October 2013, 7pm, €18
We are looking forward to welcoming Marc Boissonnet from Hennessy Cognac, to lead us on a tutored tasting of a range of the finest Hennessy Cognac, which will also be paired with some matching food tastings. Hennessy Cognac also has strong connections with County Cork, as the Hennessy’s originally came from North Cork.
This event takes place here in Ballymaloe, in the Grain Store, on Thursday 10th October, 7pm €18 Please also see
We are also planning to arrange transport to/from Cork city to Ballymaloe, should this be of interest – hop on the Hennessy Bus to Ballymaloe! Further details to follow, or please let me know if this is of particular interest

Ballymaloe boutique wine shop at Brown Thomas Cork
We have a selection of wines from the wine list and wine cellar here at Ballymaloe, available in the ‘Ballymaloe wine shop at Brown Thomas Cork', which is open every day. This Friday, 4th October, from 12.30 – 2.30pm, we are delighted to be welcoming Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau for a tasting of organic, biodynamic and natural wines – please feel very welcome to pop in , informal tasting, taste the wines, and have a chat.

Literary Festival of Food and Wine, 2014!
A little bit early to be writing about this, but just as a date for your diary!  16th – 18th May 2014. We look forward to welcoming wine writers, wine people and winemakers for a variety of events over the weekend of ther Literary Festival - some of the visiting winemakers confirmed to date include Lilian Barton, of Château Leoville Barton, and Château Langoa Barton, St-Julien, Bordeaux; Aline Baly, of Château Coutet Barsac, Bordeaux, and Telmo Rodriguez, Spain, to name some of the winemakers confirmed so far.

Amuse Bouche

They decided stocking the cupboards would be a great wedding present, as Uncle Jim and Aunt Norma would surely appreciate this. These guys were practical jokers and took all the labels off every item on the shelf. A lot of cans look alike...especially when they are undressed. Aunt Norma asked me to have lunch with her ..... and it was like a treasure hunt, shaking this can and that can until we found one that sounded right. We were going to have tuna salad sandwiches that day, but the can of tuna turned out to be water-chesnuts, and the peas turned out to be fruit cocktail! So when I say that lunch was different it really was, but Aunt Norma kept a stiff upper lip and laughed about it.

from Marilyn Munroe by Michelle Morgan

Lunch, local and fit for a king. And guests. At The Farmgate.

Lunch, local and fit for a king. And guests. 
At The Farmgate in Cork's English Market.
Corned Beef (from the market downstairs) and cabbage.

Sparkling Elderflower cordial
Old Millbank smoked salmon

Pork and hazelnut terrine

Lemon Sole (from the market)

Chapel Steps still at the top of the posts

Chapel Steps still at the top

Just been checking some of my Google stats and amazed to see that last November's post on Bandon restaurant, The Chapel Steps, is still topping the poll with almost five and half thousand hits.

The Top Five Posts

1   The Chapel Steps
2    Toonsbridge Dairy Shop
3    Rico's
4    Sharkey meets Ike. Ex US President in Cobh
5    Glounthaune Days

Friday, September 27, 2013

Paul Flynn Cookery Demo for Marymount

Just heard from Marymount Hospice:

"Paul Flynn from the Tannery in Dungarvan and one of Ireland's foremost chefs, will be doing a cookery Demo for us on the 10th of October at the Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig. There will also be a food fare with over 14 stalls confirmed to date. The event is to raise vital funds to support the work done by the Hospice. We are desperate to get a push on tickets sales, which are €20 each. 

The Food Fare opens at 7pm and the Cookery Demo with Paul will start at 8pm."

Tickets available from Marymount Hospice, Curraheen, Bishoptown, or their shop on 87 Oliver Plunkett Street, They may be purchased at the Oriel House Hotel.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Kilkenny Restaurants feature in Michelin Star Winners

Two Kilkenny Restaurants feature in Michelin Star Winners
Two Kilkenny restaurants - Campagne in Kilkenny City and the Lady Helen at the Mount Juliet Hotel in Thomastown - have been awarded Michelin stars in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2014.

Campagne is a contemporary restaurant located at Gashouse Lane in the new heart of Kilkenny. Open since 2008, it is run by Garrett Byrne and Brid Hannon and serves modern French food using the very best of local and Irish produce.

Situated on the rolling Mount Juliet demesne, the Lady Helen Restaurant enjoys panoramic views over the estate and River Nore and serves a variety of international dishes, prepared using local produce and fresh herbs, picked daily from the estate's own garden.

These two new additions to this year’s guide bring to nine the total number of Michelin star restaurants in Ireland. Others are The House Restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford; Aniar Restaurant at Lower Dominic Street, Galway; Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Thornton’s at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Chapter One, L’Ecrivain, all in Dublin City and Bon Appétit in Malahide.

A Michelin Bib Gourmand has been awarded to La Brasserie in Malahide, part of the renowned Bon Appetit eatery which itself is a Michelin starred restaurant.
The Bib Gourmand award recognises restaurants offering good food at affordable prices – up to EUR40 for three courses.
La Brasserie is described as a chic but informal bistro located at lower ground floor level, ideal for that quick bite after work, a weekend get-together with friends, or a relaxed Sunday lunch that offers the ultimate in comfort food.
According to Michelin Guide editor Rebecca Burr, establishments awarded a Bib Gourmand are hugely popular with readers in these difficult financial times, proving that providing good value for money doesn’t mean compromising standards. 
La Brasserie’s inclusion in the 2014 Michelin Guide brings to eleven the total number of Bib Gourmand restaurants in Ireland. 
The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2014 will be available in bookshops from Friday 4th October priced at €16.99.

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week

Torrontes is the white grape of Argentina
and this Finca La Linda is a terrific example
by the Luigi Bosca company.
Amazingly, the grapes are grown at 1700 metres.
Available from O'Donovan Off Licences

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Amuse Bouche

He’d said: “If you’re looking for a room, go next door, pick whichever you fancy, first floor. The key will be in the lock.”

I had chosen the one with the view. A handwritten notice in reception on a wooden table, where a bowl with apples and another with sweets had been placed, said: “Plees, wen to chick-out, leef euros uder doore. Bon voyage.” I thought, this is the place for me. 
From The Olive Route by Carol Drinkwater.

A Look Back at Cahir Cider Celebration

A Look Back at Cahir Cider Celebration

I have to say that I was surprised and delighted with my trip to the Apple Farm in Cahir last weekend to visit the Slow Food Cider Festival. The big surprise was the sheer variety of styles and flavours of the ciders in the tasting tent. Just incredible, everything from dry to sweet and beyond (including that organic Traditional Medieval Honeyed Cider by Highbank Orchards).

I reckon they were all winners but on the day the judges decided on one and they awarded Best in Show to the, by now, well known and very well made Longueville House Cider, a 100% natural medium dry from their own orchards in Cork’s Blackwater Valley. Lots of people think you have to have ice in your cider but producer William O'Callaghan disagrees: “It is best drunk well chilled with no ice and is an ideal accompaniment to fish and meat”.

William, like many of the producers in Cahir, hasn't stopped with just one product. He was also showing his Apple Brandy (Calvados styled). And a very nice one too. This is really rich and mature and, in my opinion, not as fiery as some of its more famous counterparts from Normandy. He also makes liqueurs, must get my hands on some of those!

Longueville House is a busy spot and they have a few interesting events coming up:

  • 12th Annual Mushroom Hunt, Sunday 06th & 20th October 2013
  • Harvest Lunch & Cider Making Tour, Sunday 27th October 2013;
  • Girls Night Out in Style, Pre Christmas Shopping , 21st November 2013;
  • and don’t forget the New Year’s Eve Party!

Lisburn’s Tempted? were displaying their new snake logo and “4 tempting flavours”, including the lovely Strawberry that won Gold at the 2012 Irish Food Awards. But, this time, it was their dry cider that was voted Best in Show in that category. Reckon they'll be keeping the Snake. And maybe that Question Mark. Must admit I concentrated on the dry when I visited the MacIvor’s stand but it was their sweet that won the Best in Show in that category.

Great to meet up with Angus Craigie and Simon Tyrrell and taste their excellent cider, the Ballyhook Flier. Orpens and Keeved Cider’s Cockagee (not on general release yet) were other very enjoyable drops.

And then there was one with a difference from Kilmegan, their Wild Elderflower Infused Cider. Really gorgeous and worth a try if you come across it.

Had a terrific chat at the Highbank Orchard stand. Knew some of the products, including their limited edition Proper Cider and the multi-purpose Highbank Syrup. But the Medieval Cider was new to me as was their sweet cider. They are busy busy at Highbank Farm this month and have a day of family fun scheduled for the 29th. Click here for details.

The main focus was rightly on the cider producers but there were a few other stalls as well and, of course, the famed Apple Farm Shop was open. Great to meet up again with Sarah Grubb, husband and children at the Cashel Blue stand.

Amazing professionalism and a genuine courtesy to all as the couple managed to keep three young kids and a stream of interested callers happy. And we left here happy too with a small wedge of their Shepherd’s Store, a hard sheep cheese (you can't store the milk!) made during a good summer. It is a gorgeous cheese, with the trademark creaminess, and I'd advise you to get a wedge for yourself if you get the chance.

Did hear one or two complaints about the five euro (per car) parking charge, mainly because it wasn’t flagged in advance. Then again, there was a nice bonus (which I also hadn't known about). As you paid your seven euro entry fee to the Cider Tasting tent, a large bottle of a Con Traas cider special, called the Crow Black Chicken, a really nice dry cider, was presented to each punter.l

Wine Expert Neil McGuigan at The Boardwalk

Wine Expert Neil McGuigan at The Boardwalk
Neil McGuigan
October is off to a great start for Cork’s wine-lovers, with celebrated wine-maker Neil McGuigan, winner of multiple International Wine Maker of The Year titles, leading an exclusive wine dinner at The Boardwalk Bar & Grill on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013. Neil McGuigan, , 

The evening will kick off with a drinks reception at 7.30pm, followed by an exquisite seven course dinner at 8pm, prepared by Niall Mooney, Head Chef at The Boardwalk Bar & Grill. McGuigan, CEO of McGuigan Wines, will share his extensive knowledge and experience as a world-class wine expert, as diners sample a line-up of peerless wines (minimum of five) from the newly launched McGuigan Reserve Range, which have been perfectly paired to the menu.

After-dinner entertainment will feature Alexandra Manning, acclaimed singer and pianist who will be accompanied by guitarist Jimmy Moore; a fitting conclusion to this intimate and elegant mid-week event.

Run by John and Darina Gately (also of The Montenotte Hotel), Cork’s only award-winning authentic steakhouse, The Boardwalk Bar & Grill, is renowned for the quality of their food, their excellent range of menus, and their outstanding hospitality. Located centrally on the vibrant Lapp’s Quay, the bar and restaurant offers guests a relaxed and sophisticated dining experience on the banks of the River Lee.

Tickets for this event, which is run in conjunction with Barry & Fitzwilliam, cost €49.50 per person, and places are limited, so why not book early to avoid disappointment!

To book tickets, call 021 4279990 or email

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Sultan of Penrose Quay

The Sultan of Penrose Quay
Baba Ghanoush (Spicy Aubergines), 
There is a little piece of the Levant on Penrose Wharf, right opposite the bridge, and here you can have Kafta, Shish, Kebab, Couscous, Shawarma, Moutabal, Falafel and more meals from that area of the Mediterranean.

This Lebanese restaurant, called The Sultan, has been open for about five months, with one entrance on the quay and another at the rear but do be aware that the car park in the complex closes early in the evening. In any event, there is a surprise if you enter by the quay as right in front of you is a Shisha Lounge complete with pipes and there too is a display of spices and herbs that they used in the cooking.

The spices, by the way, are not that hot. “Think of our spices as flavours. They are not very hot, we do not use chilli, for example.” Indeed, if you really want to find out more about Lebanese cooking, The Sultan runs cookery courses every Sunday. They also do takeaway and are to be seen at food festivals (they sold out in Midleton last Saturday week).
Lamb Shish 
But we were there to eat in the very well appointed alcohol free restaurant. It is clean and bright and well lit with very comfortable tables and seating (including high backed leather chairs).And if you want help with the menu, it is readily available from the very courteous staff.

We worked our way through the pages of the menu and they pointed out to us that we could take the Early Bird which gave us two courses for just €16.95 and that saved us a few euro. We were indeed early and so too were quite a few others and the place was more or less full by about seven on last Saturday night.

CL’s starter was the Moutabal which is Smoked Aubergine mixed with Tahini Sauce, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil and served with Lebanese bread. My Baba Ghanoush (Spicy Aubergines), a paste of smoked aubergines mixed with fresh pepper, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and again served with Lebanese bread. Two really palatable dishes, full of light and delightful flavours, and much more substantial that I thought at first sight.

Chicken Kafta 
Very happy also with my main dish called Lamb Shish (13.90). This was grilled lamb cubes marinated in lemon juice and mixed spices, served with mixed salad, parsley, onions, tahini sauce on top and Lebanese bread. Some terrific flavours again, nothing very spicy, and that thin bread was a perfect foil.

The other mains was Chicken Kafta (12.90). This consisted of grilled minced chicken, sweet peppers, garlic and special spices and was served with mixed salad, garlic sauce on top and, of course, Lebanese Bread. This surprisingly was probably an even bigger dish than the lamb. Lots of it there. I took a few spoonfuls of the chicken mix and it was really satisfying and very much enhanced by the blend of peppers, garlic and spices, again overflowing with flavour, but nothing even approaching extreme.

And before we left, we had a surprise when a small plate of their Baklava was delivered to the table, the layers of filo pastry are filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. That sure left a sweet impression as we left the Sultan.
The Sultan, 5 Penrose Wharf, Cork. 021 2414272.
Lebanese Take-away and Sit-Down.

The Sultan in action at Midleton Food Festival

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cider Scope

Cider Fest at The Apple Farm in Cahir

 Looking for something to do this Sunday afternoon? Why not take a trip up to Cahir to the Cider Fest at the Apple Farm and sample some of the amazing ciders available, including the Longueville House, winner of the Best in Show in the presentation and taste category.

Slinging Arrows on Culture Night

Slinging Arrows on Culture Night
Flash. Bang. Boom!
Here’s a bit of culture for you:
I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where.

I tell a lie. It was at Elizabeth Fort on Culture Night that I let fly. Up and away. Well it would have been away but for the enormous wall of the fort as my first ever shot from a bow flew well above the huge seemingly unmissable target. Got better with the next two though, still no bull’s eye but closer. Well done to the members of the Cork City Archery Club for helping the young and the not so young have a bit of fun.
Bit disappointed though that we didn’t get to fire cannon balls. That would have caused some consternation in the area of the historic fort (early 17th century). Reckon I’d have chalked up a bowl of odds (more Cork culture) up South Main Street!

We did have the red coats on hand though and they were demonstrating their prowess with the muskets. After a couple of technical hitches and malfunctions, the shot went off and, despite being ready for it, we all jumped as the noise echoed around. Great fun and thanks to everyone involved.

Oh, almost forgot. We had a guide to take us around the fort and fill us in on the history. Some great views up there, a great semi-circle of the city visible from the east, to Shandon and other churches of the north side and out to the west. The nearest church of course is the great St Finn Barre’s and you get a fabulous close-up.
The English Market were ready for us now and we were ready for it. After a sample of Tom Durcan’s spiced beef, the first serious stop was Frank Hederman’s: Jazz, Cava (via Bubble Brothers), a chat with the busy Mrs Hederman and a carton of their terrific smoked salmon and smoked mackerel with salad and veg.

The Market was packed. You could hardly move. But it was a terrific atmosphere, good manners and courtesy all around. And simple humorous chats also with complete strangers when you shared a surface to eat. Chats too of course with quite a few that we knew, Cork being both a city and, especially at times like these, a village.
O’Connell’s Fish always contribute on these kind of evenings and they too were buzzing, their menu going down a treat. Here I opted for a tasty crab cake. Just around the corner then to the Olive Stall where a plate of their goodies and a glass of wine cost a reasonable six euro, all put away as the music played, a traditional trio at this stop.

Getting full now and feeling like dessert. Knew Lillie Higgins was operating at the ABC stall and she had a few sweet things at hand: Chocolate Soup with frangelico, softly whipped cream, toasted hazelnuts and a hazelnut sourdough soldier was the first; another was Belgian waffles with salted caramel sauce and Chantilly cream. Both were winners.

And we felt like winners as we headed out of the market, unable though to resist buying some Turkish Delight before getting the bus. The sweets, along with a glass of Chaume (recently acquired at Château Soucherie in the Loire ) provided a sweet end to a sweet night of culture.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Culture Night Food

Culture Night Food
Some food stops on the Culture trail in Cork's English Market last evening.
Bottom: Chocolate Soup and Belgian Waffle with salted caramel,
 both by Lilly Higgins at the ABC stall. Above: O'Connell's Crab Cake with
Smoked Mackerel and Salmon by Hederman.
Top: Plate from the Olive Stall.
Main pic shows people queuing at Hedermans.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Amuse Bouche

Although Mohammed was diabetic, his uncle had persuaded him that pure honey was compatible with diabetes. “You can eat as much of this as you want; honey is wonderful for the health. What you should avoid is white sugar, city sugar. Honey can only do you good! Allah talks about it in the Koran: There will be exquisite honey in paradise, rivers of honey – it can’t be bad for you.”
So Mohammed ate honey every morning before going to the plant. His diabetes was getting worse......but he would not give up his honey. Hot bread soaked in olive oil, then dipped in honey – that was his treat, his pleasure.

From: A palace in the old village (Tahar Ben Jelloun).

Margherita! Look what you started.

Bruno’s Mouth-watering Pizzas

Inside Bruno's
In Bruno’s in Kinsale, they make a pizza using Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel. It is a mouth-watering taste experience.

Probably would not have been recognized in Naples in 1889. At the start of that year, according to food writer Matthew Fort (Eating Up Italy), there were just two pizzas. One was the basic pizza bianca (the crust plus olive oil and a garlic rub), the other the pizza marinara (so called because the sailors could take the ingredients to sea with them).

Then Queen Margherita of Savoy came to visit and they invented the pizza Margherita, “which combines tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves in imitation of the Italian flag in her honour”.
Courgettes like you've never tasted them before; a gem of a starter.
Pizza would never be the same again, as topping after topping was invented and used. Not sure that anywhere else uses the smoked fish, maybe they just haven’t any as good. But, if you are in Kinsale, do drop in to Bruno’s (open from six every evening) and treat yourself.

And you may well keep returning and studying the pizza. You may start at the start as they do both the Marinara and the Margherita and specials keep popping up on their big red board (also on their Facebook page). The mackerel is not the only local produce that Bruno’s use as St Tola Goat Cheese, Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Toonsbridge Mozzarella also appear on the menu.

Aside from the produce, another plus is that the Bruno pizza is done in their own wood fired brick oven, especially imported from Naples. It is complete with paddle which you can see being wielded in the kitchen, viewable as you come in the door.

And another factor is their crust is made from slow rising sourdough. You know the way many pizza edges are hard and usually discarded. Not the case here. I ate every crumb of mine. A little Primitivo and later a little Valpolicella helped!

Not into pizza. Don’t worry. Lots more to choose from, including salad and bruschetta. Perhaps you’d like a fish dish such as Fresh local squid with chill and garlic. Maybe a heap of courgette ribbons.

What was that again? A mound of courgettes ribbons. Yes, indeed, another surprise for your taste buds. Doesn’t sound much, does it. And, even when topped with a bunch of pine nuts, the green and white mix doesn’t look that great.

But take a chance and start eating and soon you’ll know you are enjoying quite a treat. A treat that shows the policy of buying locally and in season and handling the produce well is paying off, not just for Bruno’s Tom and Fiona but for their customers as well. No wonder then that on a gloomy mid-September night, the split level restaurant is full!

Handmade Fresh Ravioli of Organic beetroot and ricotta
 with a lemon and sage butter and rocket and parmesan
It is quite a quirky building, built up the slight slope in the street and finishing as a sharp edge between two streets. That initial triangle is where the kitchen is and then you have two rooms on different levels. The exposed stone walls are whitewashed, ceiling beams are exposed and generous cushions mean you may eat and drink with comfort.

And with some class as well. So now, do go down and try that Hederman pizza. Or of you prefer meat to fish, then maybe the one featuring Jack McCarthy’s black pudding is for you. It will be for me, next time I visit. Margherita! Look what you started.

Fresh local seafood risotto

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Caramelised onion and Chicken  paté on sale from Barrie Tyner in Mahon Point Farmers Market.
Also check out his Chicken and Cognac one. But not too much too early!!
The Market is open this Thursday morning.Always worth a visit.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A smooth, savoury triumph from Portugal

A smooth, savoury triumph from Portugal

Marco de Pegões 2010, Setubal (Portugal), 13.5%, Stockists 

From land once owned by a beer magnate, a mixture of local and French grapes and the expertise of winemaker Jamie Quendera has produced a rich full bodied wine. Flavours of dark fruits abound, there is a hint of spiciness and a grippy acidity.

This has been a very consistent wine over the past few years and the impressive red comes at a terrific price. “A smooth, savoury triumph!”, according to Curious Wines, and I whole-heartedly agree. They sell it at €10.99.

The grapes are Castelão 40%, Syrah 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet 20% and it is aged for four months in French and American new oak barrels. The wine is imported by Wine Alliance. Very Highly Recommended.

The story of the Setubal coop Pegões, founded in the 50s and rocked by the revolution in the 70s, is very interesting .Below is a little taster that you may follow up here.

It all started when the big landlord and beer magnate, José Rovisco Pais, donated his Pegões properties to the Lisbon State Hospitals. On these properties, the Government implemented a large “colonization” project, donating land to thousands of agricultural workers and directing the plantation of 2900 acres of vineyards. These workers became known as “Colonos”. The Cooperative was established on March the 7th 1958 in order to give technical and logistic support to the “colonos”. Part of the support consisted in the reception and processing of their grapes. The first Pegões wines were then born.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jip Jip Rocks the Opposition

Jip Jip Rocks the Opposition
David Bryson, General Manager of Morambro Creek, the South Australian home of Jip Jip Rocks and Mt Monster, was in town at the weekend and wearing a big smile as he met the punters at a tasting in the Ballymaloe Wine Shop at Brown Thomas.

I’m sure David, accompanied by Marcus of Karwig Wines, is in good form all the time but he was really well pleased with a report in the latest edition of Winestate, the Australian/New Zealand equivalent of Decanter. The magazine was reporting on what it called the world’s greatest Syrah/Shiraz challenge where no less than 582 were tested.

What made David so pleased was the fact that the 2012 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz, which sells for 19.95 dollars, scored 4.5 stars in the tasting. Contrast that, as he did, with the well known Penfolds Grange Shiraz 2008, which sells at €785.00 dollars, and scored a measly three stars. "You can see where the value for money lies!"

While you are waiting for the 2012 to come, check out Karwig Wines in Carrigaline where you may buy the 2010 for €16.80. That’s the one we tasted with Ballymaloe’s Colm McCan at BT and the multi-award winner in the 2011 Sydney International Wine Competition sure came up trumps in Patrick Street.
Yours truly with David (Left)
The Jip Jip Rocks sparkling Shiraz rightly caught much of the attention at BT and it sells steadily and well. “The sparkling is a little quirky. It has an elegant style and a good dry finish”, David told me. “But it is the still Shiraz that is our best seller.” Must say I’m not surprised.

We also got to taste the 2011 Jip Jip Unoaked Chardonnay, the fruit of "the wettest, coldest summer" but the weather helped this one, said David. And so too did the intervention of winemaker Ben Riggs who asked why not make a great wine better and did so by including ten per cent Sauvignon Blanc "to give a lift on the nose". Delight in a glass for sure and worth seeking out. This is another medal winner and the 2011 will cost you €16.80 at Karwig’s.

The tasting concentrated on the Jip Jip Rock vineyard but I also managed a sip of the Morambro Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, another medal winner and indeed quite a superb wine. It is selected from a small number of outstanding barrels each vintage. Traditional wine-making and minimal processing feature strongly in the making of “this Cabernet derived from our estate vineyard”.

Padthaway, on the Limestone Coast, is the area in which you’ll find the vineyards that David and his brothers, Paul and Andrew, look after. Their parents, Clive and Elizabeth, built the wine business up over the past half century before handing over to their three sons. Since 1851, five generations of the Bryson family have been involved in agriculture in the area.

Paul, David and Andrew Bryson.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Excellent Wines of Luigi Bosca Argentina

The Excellent Wines of Luigi Bosca Argentina

Gary O'Donovan (2nd left) introduces Soledad.
Soledad Martin, Export Manager with Luigi Bosca Argentina, was delighted with her steak in the chimichurri sauce, and we were delighted with the set of gorgeous wines that she presented at Friday’s Cork Supper Club Dinner in ClubBrasserie.

Established in 1901 by Leoncio Arizu, Bodega Luigi Bosca has an extensive track-record in the local winemaking industry. Currently managed by the third and fourth generations of the Arizu family, it is one of the few winemaking firms that is still owned by its founders. Its reputation, gained over the years, has made it the paradigm of Argentine 

La Linda
Gary O’Donovan introduced Soledad and the well travelled young lady told us that the winery in Mendoza was formed in 1901. There are two ranges produced. The lighter wines come to us under the Finca La Linda label while the flagship wines come under the Luigi Bosca label. Both are imported by Searson’s and they had Damien Archer on hand to mingle with the guests.

Must say I was pleasantly surprised with the two whites that started the evening. The Viognier was described as the “best value Viognier that exists” and it sure was excellent with a great aromas, flavours and finish. Very impressed with it but I think my favourite was the Torrontes, a “great Argentinian variety” according to Soledad and amazingly the grapes are grown at 1700 metres and some 15 hours distant from the winery. It is a different style and a different structure from the Viognier.
The steak with that chimichurri sauce
Torrontes  is the most distinctive of all Argentine wines, including both white and red, because Argentina is the only country to produce it. It is considered a wholly Argentine variety.

There then followed a couple of La Finca reds, including an excellent Malbec, “the powerhouse of Argentina”. Again though it was the other red, the Bonarda, which caught the attention of my taste buds. Described as a wine to drink while watching TV or a party wine, it is indeed a very agreeable companion and, like all the six wines on the night, great value as well.
Yours truly and Soledad
On next to the two wines under the senior label. First up was a terrific bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010, a powerful rounded wine. Excellent but there was even better to come. The star of the reds was the Malbec DOC Single Vineyard 2009. Produced under stricter regulations, from vines that average 70 years of age, it has been three months in oak and is fantastic value at twenty euro.

The Wines
Torrontes, grown at 1700m in the Salta area. Some 15 hours away from the winery in Mendoza. : Light yellow-green, with floral aromas, hints of rosehip and a touch of lavender. Sweet palate, balanced acidity, notes of white peach and memories of orange peel jam.

Viognier, Exotic, clean and bright golden white wine. Well-defined aromatic notes of orchid, musk and ripe apricot. Felt with an oily texture in the mouth, and creates a general harmonious sensation. Prolonged finish and penetrating acidity.
Malbec, aged 3 months in oak. Intense purple colour with distinct aromas of cherries and spices. Balanced tannins are perceived in the mouth as a result of three-month ageing in French and American oak casks. A varietal of great typicity and volume, well-structured, velvety, elegant and up-to-date.
Bonarda, aged 3 months on oak. Bright ruby-red wine with aromas of red fruit, dry fig and a touch of wood contributed by 3-month ageing in American oak casks. Full-bodied, smooth to the palate, round and velvety, with a compact and well-structured aftertaste.
Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010. Full svelte sweet cassis fruits in a powerful rounded wine. A superb Cabernet with rich powerful silky smooth cassis and mint fruits, with a lingering rounded finish.
Luigi Bosca Malbec DOC Single Vineyard 2009. This pioneering DOC was launched in 1991 “to protect the “preserving Mendoza’s richness”. 70 year old vineyard. 100% Malbec. Handpicked. 14 months in oak. Deep violet colour, with aromas of ripe cherries and plums. Additionally, it is spiced with notes of blackberries and mocha. Solid but elegant structure and balanced acidity. Mouth-filling, powerful yet subtle, with excellent typicity.
All six wines are available in O’DonovanOff Licences.  The first four at each at €12.99, the Cabernet is €17.99 while the DOC Malbec comes in at €19.99.

The Food
Well, if the wines from Argentina were in great form, so too were the crew at Club Brasserie. And we benefitted from some rally top notch dishes. The highlight was perhaps the Steak with the garlic and parsley sauce that always accompanies grilled steak in Argentina. Known as Chimichurri, you don’t see it very often in Irish restaurants but it was a terrific sauce and would be quite a change to the usual sauces here. Also thought the opening salad was superb.
Starter: Pancetta, Crozier Blue cheese, toasted walnuts and roasted pear salad (with a honey and mustard dressing.
Soup: Wild Mushroom Soup.
Mains: Chargrilled West Cork Steak with a chimichurri sauce with roasted tomatoes, Portobello Mushrooms and rustic potatoes.
Pan-fried Cod with Chorizo, white bean puree and caramelised fennel and chorizo.
Dessert: Mixed Sweet plate (Chocolate roulade, iced meringue gateau, cooks and cream cheesecake).
Cheese: Horgan’s Mature Cheddar with a spiced red pepper and tomato relish.