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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Lyrath Estate. Friendly Place. Friendly Faces


Lyrath Estate. 
Friendly Place. Friendly Faces  

Young Rudy
Ringo, Reilly, and Rudy will more than likely catch your eye during a  visit to Kilkenny’s spectacular Lyrath Estate Hotel. The hotel’s three Golden Retrievers pose in many hotel publicity shots and indeed you’ll see  them in guest wedding pics as well. But popular and all as the threesome are, it is the humans around here that you’ll rely on and, as we found out during a recent stay, they too are very friendly indeed.

Just one example. As we walked into the magnificent Yew Tree room for breakfast, we got the biggest smile and a lovely warm greeting from the lady on duty. It is not very unusual in Ireland but we were particularly delighted with it, as a week earlier, we got an unsmiling silent greeting (hardly a greeting at all) from a corresponding person in a Wexford hotel.
Front of the "old" house

Our initial greeting on arrival at Lyrath the previous day was warm as well and we got all the info we needed. Soon we were passing their very impressive Christmas decorations, all on a grand scale under the high ceiling, and heading off to our executive room. The 137 rooms are generally off from the central part of the hotel, itself based on the original mansion.

There are a number of room categories and Executive rooms offer more space for guests to enjoy and come with a king size bed. They include an entrance hallway, a walk-in wardrobe/dressing area and large bathroom with double basins, bath and separate walk in shower. Our room overlooked the estate. We certainly had all we needed with a separate toilet in the bathroom, TV of course and the WifI was perfect as well.

Head Chef: Kenneth Murphy
Lyrath has just appointed Kenneth Murphy as Head Chef. The much travelled Carlowman has a wealth of experience, worked extensively with the Virgin Limited Edition Group and, more recently, was also Executive Head Chef at Fota Island Resort.

O'Hara's ale
No doubt he’ll be putting his own stamp on the menus here in due course. There are two main dining rooms, the Yew Tree (open only on Fridays and Saturdays at present) and the very comfortable Grill and Bar, situated on the mezzanine over the entrance foyer.

We were there in midweek and our reservation was at the Grill. First we called to the bar there and again had a lovely chat with a young barman. He filled us in on what was available when we requested Gin and Tonic and we were glad to hear they had Dingle Gin. So we enjoyed those before strolling across the floor to the restaurant.
Twilight at Lyrath

Like the rest of the hotel, comfort and space are the main features. Soon we were seated in a lovely booth with the menus at hand and making our choices. 
Beetroot Tartarin
Also had a good look at the wine list, quite a quality one, and CL settled on a glass of their Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner (11.50), fruity (citrus, apple) but with excellent acidity and well able to handle the food. I was glad to see they had quite a selection of the local O’Hara’s beers in bottle and even more so when I found out the Yellow Belly Citra Ale (6.00) was available on draught. “A pint, please,” I beamed.
Beef cheek

Soon we were enjoying our starters. Mine was Smoked Salmon with beetroot purée, cucumber, fennel and cress salad. CL’s was Beetroot Tartarin, the classic combination of goats cheese, beetroot (spiced in this version), pine nuts and horseradish. We enjoyed those two.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon was CL’s choice for the mains and that came with grilled asparagus spears and béarnaise and got the thumbs up. Mine was Slow-braised Hereford Beef cheek, quite a large portion, served with shallot purée, carrots and creamy mash. It was top notch, enhanced by a side of Steak chips, heartily recommended by our server!
Santa in the lobby

Dessert choices made us think before I plunged for my first slice of Christmas pudding of the season. It came with Brandy Anglaise and vanilla ice-cream. Pas Mal!

The main bar, Tupper's, is on the ground floor and has a club like atmosphere in its two rooms with an adjoining much brighter conservatory which overlooks Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe’s Victorian garden (now restored). More beer for me, a lovely glass of draught ale, this time by O’Hara’s, sipped in front of the open fire.

The breakfast in the spacious Yew Tree, with its views over the old garden, was excellent. Great buffet choices, juices, cereals, fruits, cheese, ham, and more. 

And the kitchen was in top form too and the stack of Hugh’s Pancakes with fresh blueberries and maple syrup, along with my server's suggestion of bacon, went down a treat. My starter here was a granola-topped pot of yogurt. All good, as Christmas music played gently in the background.
Breakfast

With the weather turning nasty we were’t able to take advantage of the walks around the 170 acre estate, one marked 2.5km, another 5.km. 

At other times of the year, you’ll have, among other things, falconry and archery available. And of course they have a spa and leisure centre (with 17 metre pool). And there is also a Conference Centre here. 

All within a couple of kilometres of the heart of medieval Kilkenny. You could spend well more than a day here and that is what I’d heartily recommend. And say hello to the dogs for me!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Amuse Bouche


As winter approached…they would finally make their big move and the whole world would find out what they had been up to.
It was going to be a great and important day. To celebrate the years of hard work, Norris promised to take Randall and Berryman to dinner at Peter Luger, a famous Brooklyn steakhouse, where gruff old waiters throw down $80 platters of sizzling porterhouse. It seemed a fitting tribute because Luger’s happened to be Chuck Blazer’s favourite restaurant.
Blazer had been a terrific cooperator. There could never have been a case without him.

from Red Card, FIFA and the Fall of the Most Powerful Men in Sports, by Ken Bensinger (2018). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Couples. One White. One Red.


Christmas Couples




A couple of bottles of wine, one red, one white, can go a long way at the Christmas meal. Lots of lovely couples below!







Karwig Double

Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, €21.15 Karwig Wine
It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure!

Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine
This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.

Two from South Africa

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2016 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2014 Western Cape (South Africa), 14.5%, €14.50 Bradley’s Off, Matson’s, Cashel Wine Cellar. JN Wine online

This James Nicholson red is a very popular wine and you’ll see it on quite a few restaurant lists. It is a dark ruby colour, the legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits (plums, blackberries) feature in the enticing aromas, also a touch of vanilla. That fruit is also there on the vibrant palate, a drift of spice too, smooth with silky tannins, well balanced and with an excellent finish.

It is mainly Syrah (86%) and the other grapes in the blend are Mourvèdre (13) and Viognier (1). It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak prior to blending and bottling.

The Wolftrap white was accorded Superquaffer of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine.

It is an unusual blend of Viognier 48% (for spice), Chenin Blanc 41% (melon) and Grenache Blanc 11% (white peach), all contributing to the experience. The different grapes are fermented and aged partially in French oak before blending and bottling. 

It has a very clean light yellow colour with green tints. Pleasant white/yellow fruits, plus floral notes, feature in the inviting aromas. Fresh and fruity, unexpected depth in this elegant body, a lively acidity all through and then a lip-smacking finish.

Two from Portugal

Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo (DOC) 2016, 14%, RRP € 19.99 wineonline.ie

It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.

After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.

Herdade do Peso Sossego Branco Alentejano (IG) 2016, 13%, 
RRP €16.99, Matson Wine Store 

The local tranquility wasn’t too bad either as I opened the Sossego with its light yellow colour and tints of green. Scents of citrus fruit and blossoms, more floral than fruity, enhance the mood. Lively and fresh on the palate, the fruit flavours are balanced by excellent acidity and a good dry finish follows. Refreshing and flavourful. 

The grapes used by winemaker Luis Cabral de Almeida were 75% Antão Vaz, 20% Arinto, 5% Roupeiro. This may be enjoyed on its own or as an aperitif. It pairs wonderfully with various fish dishes, some white meats and an array of salads. 

Australian Pair 

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Chardonnay (Australia) 2016, 13%, €14.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.

Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances it and a persistent finish crowns it.

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95  

“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.

A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.

Spanish Couple

Dominio de Punctum Finca Fabian Verdejo Castilla (Vino de la Terra) 2016, 12.5%, €12.20, Mary Pawle Wines


This Verdejo is made  from organically grown grapes, night harvested and cold maceration before fermenting. Colour is straw yellow, bright and clear and there are white fruits in the aromas, floral notes too.

It is fresh and a little livelier than many Verdejos, excellent fruit flavours and balancing acidity. A lovely drop indeed with a long and pleasant finish. Highly Recommended. Good value also, by the way. 

Punctum Viento Aliseo La Mancha (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €13.30 Mary Pawle Wines

This joven (young) wine is a blend of Tempranillo (70%) and Petit Verdot. Organically and biodynamically farmed (Demeter approved) and made from “our estate-grown grapes”.

Cherry is the colour. Cherries and blackberries feature in the aromas. And the same fruit too on the full and smooth palate, matched by a lively acidity, the tannins just about in evidence. Quite complex for a joven and Highly Recommended. Good value also.

Gary’s Pair

Haven’t tasted these in quite a while but must say I like the look of this pair from the excellent Luis Canas at Gary O’Donovan’s. The red is the Madurado Tempranillo/Garnacha while the white is Viura/Malvasia. Both are 2017 and the total cost of the presentation two-pack is €25.00. 

The white blend is dense and unctuous on the palate, with a good balance between acidity and alcohol. The aftertaste brings notes of ripe fruit and minerality.

The red blend has spent 12 months in oak, is fruity on the nose, all enveloping on the palate while it finishes well with fruit and acidity.

Duo from O'Brien's

Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment €21.95 (was 24.95).

The grapes are grown high up in circles around the top of the craters on Santorini, one of the Greek islands. Sometimes wines from hot climates lack acidity, but that is not the case here. Try it with shellfish, also smoked fish. The grapes are soaked on the skins after crushing for a long period. This gives the wines their excellent structure and complexity of flavour. Well worth a try!

d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz Australia, 19.95 
Colour is a clean and bright purple. No need to nose the glass here as the aromas - attractive dark berries and plums mainly - come up to meet you. Terrific fruit too on the palate with great balance, tannins are fine, lovely and a lingering dry finish. Footbolt is a favourite here and Very Highly Recommended.


The Odd Couple

Elgin Ridge 232 Sauvignon Blanc South Africa (from Le Caveau).
Decanter praise: vibrant, at once savoury and saline, yet ripe and tropical. 

Made by Brian and Marion Smith. Marion’s from Cavan. I’ve sampled this a few times and have a bottle in the house for the festivities. Well worth a try.

Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt “St Severin” trocken (Austria) 13%, €14.45 Karwig Wines

This well-priced quality red wine has gorgeous and intense fruit aromas. Also engaging red fruit flavours (cherries, berries, redcurrants), a touch of spice, full bodied and quite dry to the finalé. This is easy drinking, light and bright, not unlike Pinot Noir.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Brunch at Hook Head. Then take the tour.


Brunch at Hook Head
Then take the tour.
On a good day!

A reviving brunch first. Followed by the refreshing lighthouse tour t. Vice versa perhaps? 

It’s up to you when you visit the fabulous Hook Head Lighthouse in County Wexford. And it’s a place you may visit any time of the year, even during the winter, even during the Christmas holidays.

Let us start with the brunch as I did on a recent Sunday. They have really upped their food offering here since a 2016 visit and brunch is available all day every Saturday and Sunday and they hope to extend it throughout the week during the school holidays. 

Oh, by the way, the lighthouse and cafe are open year round. So if you’ve seen the beautiful views on a calm day, do not hesitate to go down on a rougher one and you’ll get a different “tour”.
Not such a good day!

During our December (02.12.18) visit, the weather was mainly cloudy and very windy at the Hook and that meant it was quite spectacular, a great day to visit! Even if we had to work our way through spray flying across the narrow approach road from time to time. Indeed, there is a wooden “rampart” by the wall surrounding the lighthouse and we got an invigorating splash or two as we took in the views from that vantage point.

Before all that though, we sat ourselves down in the spectacularly situated café in the former lighthouse keepers cottages and found that the food offering wasn’t bad at all! Indeed, it was considerably better than the breakfast fare endured earlier at an expensive hotel in the north of the county.

The two rooms were close to full. No wonder it is proving so popular. You may also choose from a more general menu for lunch or just for snacking.
Brunch

The Brunch list includes morning mainstays such as Eggs Benedict and Ballyhack Smokehouse Salmon. There’s also a Protein Packed Avocado Toast and another vegetarian option is Toast and local mushrooms, both options on toasted sourdough.

The general menu offers Soups, salads and sandwiches and quite a few more substantial meals such as a heart-warming Pie of the Day and they also have a Children’s Menu. At any time, you can drop in for a cuppa and a scone, a dessert perhaps.

Very encouraging too to see they are committed to the environment. Quite a few examples of that from their compostable napkins to their use of paper rather than plastic straws.

Back to the food and we ordered their Home-made Pancakes, described as Beer and cardamon sugar pancakes. No shortage of toppings: banana, crispy bacon, Ballyhack smokehouse salmon, cream cheese and, of course, maple syrup. We choose the banana and syrup and a generous  pot of decent quality tea.

So having made your way to Hook (about two hours from Cork, take the Passage East-Ballyhack Ferry), you may as well do the guided tour. Indeed the guides here are regularly praised and our fellow was also top class.
Take the ferry, from or to the Waterford side

If these walls could talk. You say to yourself as you enter the 800 year tower that houses the Hook Lighthouse on the tip of Waterford’s Hook Peninsula. 

You soon find out, they do talk. In the first room, with its ribbed vault structure just like the two rooms above, a monk, a digital one, appears and talks about when he came here in the 6th century (maybe!). He was Welsh and called Dubhain. Having founded a small monastery, he and his fellow monks noticed the many shipwrecks in the area and set up an open fire to warn mariners.
Inside the lighthouse

Good, but not good enough for the next person you meet, on the next floor. This is William Marshal, another Welshman and a powerful knight, who was very influential in the south east of Ireland at the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century. He built the nearby Tintern Abbey and the town of New Ross and more, including this lighthouse (sometime between 1210 and 1230). Monks were again in charge, living here, keeping the faith, keeping the flame.


As you climb the solid building, you see where the monks cooked, lived and slept. Many changes then during the centuries, before, in 1996, the lighthouse was automated and the light keepers (no longer monks!) departed after almost 800 years. And the modern keepers are commemorated on the third floor, projected onto the wall to tell their story.

Out then onto the windy balcony to take in the fabulous views over the seas, over the land. The famous bird sanctuary of the Saltee Islands is visible to the east and to the west you can see The Metalman, another landmark for mariners, this on a cliff near Tramore in County Waterford.
Games and picnics

As well as the light, a fog signal was operated at the lighthouse. For centuries a cannon gun was fired off the edge of the cliff during fog. This was replaced by a hooter, which in turn was replaced by rockets. In 1972 a foghorn worked by compressed air was installed. 
If you didnlt have the brunch or lunch before climbing and descending those 115 steps, you’re probably well up for it now! Enjoy.

Quite a few walks too in the lighthouse area but be careful. Not all tragedies here have happened to people in boats.

Our guided tour was in English and it is also available in French, German, Spanish, Irish and Italian. Whales and dolphins may be observed from the shoreline around Hook Head with a good pair of binoculars. It is a great visit, to what is believed to be the oldest operational lighthouse in the world, and you can find out much more, even see a video visit, see the web cams too, on the website here

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Killavullen Christmas Farmers Market, get ahead of the crowds!

Killavullen Christmas Farmers Market, 
a chance to get ahead of the crowds!


There are just two editions of the 2018 Killavullen Farmers Market to visit before Christmas, a regular one on the 15th and a special Soltice event on the 21st. Ciaran Cotter has been in touch with all the details.
Christmas is only weeks away and that means preparations are ramping up. That couldn’t be truer for Killavullen Farmers Market as not only do they have their famous evening Winter Solstice Market coming up on Friday 21st from 3pm to 7pm, they also have one more regular Saturday morning market on the 15th from 10.30am to 1pm. Be sure to come along as it is your chance to beat the crowds at the Christmas market and also allows you to put in your orders!


All regular stallholders will be there as usual, along with a number of seasonal producers. You will find plenty for the festive season ahead from staples to seasonal veg to unique gifts, all from local producers. One of the oldest farmers markets in Ireland, now into its 18th year, the regular Saturday market. is in the grounds of the Nano Nagle Centre, on the main road between Castletownroche and Mallow with plenty of parking. The market is continually evolving and continues to surprise each week!

Regular stallholders have a range of products from locally grown vegetables all in season, handcrafted baked goods, breads, jams, chutneys and cordials. There is a fine selection of smoked salmon, fresh raw milk and yoghurts. You can also buy a free range organically reared ham or Christmas breakfast. There is also be a hot food and the always welcoming café will be open.

Killavullen farmers market is a great spot to pick up crafted goods including knitwear, kids toys and wood turned products. There is also a great selection of plants and flowers available. The second hand bookstore is a must for any reader. All books cost 50 Cent and donations of books are also gladly accepted.



Finally, unique to Killavullen Market is the KOB (Killavullen Organic Buyers grouping). Here you can order bulk foods and household supplies at discounted prices. All products are sourced from Suma Wholesalers so check out there website if you are interested and then pop along to the market to find out more!

Christmas Market, Friday 21st Dec 3-7pm

If you haven’t heard about the Christmas Market then you have missed out! The unique solstice market is an amazing setting on the shortest day of the year. You can pick up last minute gifts, stock up on goodies for the Christmas period. It is really truly a magical experience and really kickstarts the Christmas period!

Santa

A special visitor has been at the market the last few years and we expect he will be there again this time round. Keep an eye on our Facebook for an arrival time!

Facebook:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Taste of the Week. Eight Degrees Blowhard Imperial Stout.


Eight Degrees Blowhard Imperial Stout 12%, 330ml bottle widely available

Long yarn on the label, rare deep-diving whales who go down to the darkest black and blow hard on their return. The Eight Degree brewers trawled to the furthest limits here and, barely decompressed,  came to tell their daring Christmas tale and they called this deep-dark and delicious creation Blowhard.

The smooth and flavour-packed beer, from regions hitherto unexplored, was quarantined for 30 days in Jameson barrels. Don’t worry, it is now safe in this Christmas season to open the little bottle but do pour slowly, sip slowly too. No point in going overboard when the hard work of the voyage is done. Enjoy the amazing flavours and do watch out for a nice hint of uisce beatha in the long aftertaste!

This is a classic Imperial Stout, with knobs on. They stuffed the mash tun to the gills, double mashed for extra flavour, used premium Irish malt, went overboard with toasted dark malts and extra roasted barley – all before committing the beer to a month long sentence in Jameson whiskey barrels, courtesy of their friends in Irish Distillers.

It is a spectacular seasonal special. Try it, they recommend, with steaks and cheese. Or at the end of the meal, pair with a dark and rich Christmas pudding or a decadent Belgian chocolate mousse. Didn’t have either in the house last Saturday night but did have some Mince Pies (made by Foods of Athenry). Got lucky with that pairing as it worked a treat. Pudding is next!

Availability: Very limited draught. 330ml bottles (RRP €4.20).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Three Mid-Winter Reds. Santa Will Love Them.


Three Mid-Winter Reds. Santa Will Love Them.

Dear Santa. I have been a little bit naughty but I have said sorry am I still aloud a present. I would love these three bottles of red, please.

Hello CorkBilly: I heard about the naughty bit! We'll get over that. These three would work for the Christmas /festive season and or as winter warmers. They are sustainable and/or organic in the production of the wine.

And Marcus, who was an able deputy for Santa, says "these wines reflect the Liberty wines ethos and continue our sustainability focus and curb the effects of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint." You will also note that Rudolph will be wearing a nappy this year; Santa was in Killarney in July checking out the jarveys and their horses.



Bodegas Arráez Monastrell Barrica “Vivir sin Dormir” Jumilla (DOC) 2016, 14.5%, €18.99 Blackrock Cellar, JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wineonline.ie

An eye-catching label and a rather fancy name draws you to this Spanish red on the shelf. The 100% Monastrell (Mourvedre in France) is grown organically on limestone soils in a high hot region 90 kilometres from the Mediterranean.

Colour is a dark ruby and the legs are slow to clear, confirming the 14.5% alcohol. Aromas are quite intense, cherry and plum noted. Intense too on the fruit-forward palate, warm and spicy also, good fresh acidity, a hint also of its few months in a mix of Hungarian, French and US oak. Good length on the finish also, the fruit still vibrant. A superb expression of the grape and Very Highly Recommended. Food match: Himalayan Salt Aged Cote de Boeuf. 



Blanville Merlot Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 13%, RRP €14.99 Cinnamon Cottage Cork, Menloe Store Cork, Next door Off licence Ennis and  wineonline.ie

From the Sud de France comes a Merlot to appreciate. Colour is mid to dark ruby and in the aromas there is a mix of red and dark fruit, a hint of liquorice also. It is certainly a smooth customer on the palate, full of flavour with terrific balance, some sweet spice and plush tannins. This very approachable wine has a superb long finish and is Very Highly Recommended.

The family-owned estate, built parcel by parcel from scratch in 1997, recommend serving it at 16-17 degrees and pairing with red meat and cheese.

The year in the vineyard didn’t get off to the best of starts with a cold rainy winter followed by very frosty spring. Early heavy rains though helped the vines through the exceptionally dry and warm mid-summer and harvest, at the end of August, was “one of the earliest on record”.

Bernard and Beatrice Nivollet came from Paris to realise their dream of becoming wine producers and now have some 40 hectares. No chemical fertilisers are used as they practice “organic cultivation and biodynamics”.

Zabu “Il Passo Verde” Nero D’Avola Sicily (DOC) 2017, 13.5%, €17.99 RRP, McHughs Off Licence - Kilbarrack Rd, Baggot Street Wines, Finian Sweeney,   


This Vignetti Zabù organic wine is a dark ruby colour. Intense dark and red fruit aromas. Same intensity on the palate, elegant juicy fruit, spicy too, and no let-up in the long lingering finish. 

Quite an excellent expression of the Nero D’Avola grape, full-bodied and deep-coloured, and Very Highly Recommended, particularly with red meat and game; they also recommended medium aged cheese.

The vineyards were planted in 2005 around Lake Arancio in Sambucca di Sicilia. The crystal clear waters provides an ideal micro-climate for the low-yielding vines, and protects them from the heat of the summer. This too was a hot summer, just three showers in July and August!

Only the best grapes were selected and they had a long fermentation, the aim being to extract colour, body and aromas. Half were aged in barriques, the rest in concrete tanks, both for six months. 

Nero D’Avola, almost always part of a blend in the previous century, is now regularly bottled as a varietal. It is often compared to Syrah because it likes similar growing conditions (Sicily has a hot Mediterranean climate) and exhibits many similar characteristics.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Amuse Bouche


I asked Corazón if she had a little bag of sugar. She was always stealing packets of sugar and tea bags. Her purse was full of everything she could pick up along the way.
I wanted some sugar, but Corazón had only a yellow packet of Splenda. It was better than nothing. I ripped it open and poured the powder into my hand and licked it off my palm. Many things are better than nothing.

from Gun Love by Jennifer Clement (2018). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest. Wines, Spirits and Beers. Hurry over to Leslie!


CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers

Hurry!!! Leslie Williams to host Annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser this evening.
Leslie's ready for you!

“Nasc will be hosting our Annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser on Friday 7th December 2018, in conjunction with Crawford & Co.

Where: Crawford & Co., Anglesea Street, Cork
When: Friday 7th December at 6:30 PM

Tickets are €25 and can be purchased through Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/nasc-wine-tasting-fundraiser-tickets-52715471394).

Proceeds will go towards maintaining Nasc's free legal service, which provides support to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrant families.

The event will be hosted by Sommelier Leslie Williams of the Irish Examiner.

Attendees will sample red and white wines, bubbly and port. They will also receive nibbles and be in with the chance of winning one of the many spot prizes up for grabs via our raffle.

Please join us on the night and help support Nasc's work!

For more information, visit our website: www.nascireland.org"

West Cork Brewing at Fionnbarra’s
A Birthday Party. December 8th from 8.00pm
Roaring Ruby - a super red ale

Hosted by West Cork Brewing Company
“Hi everyone! Its our 4th Birthday soon so we have decided to organise a special shindig in Fionnbarra Bar on December 8th for all our friends and customers! We will have a tap takeover on the night with Sherkin Lass, Roaring Ruby,The Rapids Rye Ale and a special keg of Breakfast in Baltimore Stout for one night only!
Delicious nibbles, special prizes and great beer are just the start of what the night has to offer!! Hope to see ye all there :-)”

Hey Dudes. It’s Flower Power for the Bees.
The Friary Saturday 8th at 7.00pm

“Hey brothers and sisters, it's time to hang loose and give some love (and moolah) to our awesome bee buddies - 60's flower power-style! We invite you to The Friary for a night of psychedelic music, shirts and flares, way out tunes, out of sight prizes, raffles and boss brews.

And all the righteous cabbage (cash :) ) we raise will go to our good amigos in Ballincollig Tidy Towns who are installing and maintaining bee-friendly sites just outside the city.

We'll have food (including brownies - not that type!), Honey Moonshine and mead cocktails (thanks to Blacks Brewery&Distillery and Kinsale Mead Company) and the Mostest Groovy Costume prize. DJ Mike Darcy will play 60's classics all night and also your requests :D The Hippie Wheel of Fortune will be going all evening for free drinks.”


Clonmel’s Red Nose Wine are ready for you!

with Christmas Offers and Sunday Openings 
“As announced last week, our Christmas Specials are now ready for you all.

You can pick up a copy of the offers here ( and also our Corporate / Gift brochure for all your gift needs ).

We also have a range of new wines ( Italy, Spain and France ) that just arrived today, and we will have loads open to try all the way to Christmas.

And we are now open Sundays ( from 2-5 ) all the way to Christmas. A good day to call in if you have a busy week.” 


O’Brien’s Wines Limerick. Christmas Tasting
In Store from 4.00pm to 8.00pm, this Friday.
The Parkway Shopping Centre.

Festive Night: 18 different suppliers popping in. Whiskeys Gins Wine Craft Beer Brandy's and cocktail making.

Note too that O’Brien’s Fine Wine Sale nationwide ends at close of business next Sunday the 9th. Here are a few to tempt you:
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Riojan Vineyard Turns Back The Clock - by 50 Years!
Now Arturo and his brother Kike, who joined Artuke in 2010 and spends most of his time on the vineyards, work their land like it was done 50 years ago and have returned to macerations that last six days (“if you work well in the vineyard and have moderate yields, there’s no need to force things at the winery”), cement containers, wooden vats and large 500- and 600-litre barrels, although they still use stainless steel tanks. 

Read the full story (via Spanish Wine Lover) here 

The Growing Wine World: Everyone Wants In, according to Wine-Searcher

Wine drinkers live in all parts of the globe and the wine world needs to adapt.
By James Lawrence | Posted Wednesday, 28-Nov-2018


If one were to imagine the most likely destination for an ambitious sommelier to thrive and prosper, the United Arab Emirates might, to put it mildly, not come very near the top of the list.
Yet despite the theoretical confines of Islam in the Middle East, record numbers of students are enrolling on WSET programs in the region, while leading hotel chain Jumeirah has started running courses in-house for staff. read more here .