Monday, May 31, 2021

A Couple Of Excellent French Wines To Consider, from Burgundy to Bouche du Rhone

A Couple Of Excellent French Wines To Consider, from Burgundy to Bouche du Rhone

Cowboy of the Rhone Delta

Domaine Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Chardonnay  Couteaux Bourguignons (AC) 2018, 13%

€19.40 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Light gold is the colour of this Chardonnay from Burgundy. Citrus and floral notes in the aromas. A citrus-y tingle as it hits the palate, an excellent acidity.  This fresh and lively wine, a wonderful drop indeed, is very well made and Very Highly Recommended. The wine is fermented in 1-, 2- and 3-year-old 400-l oak barrels, where it stays for a period of 10 months and we benefit beautifully because of it. The wine is not fined and only lightly filtered. The fruit for this excellent Chardonnay, one of around nine produced by Domaine Ambroise, comes from young vines.


Le Caveau say: Harvested manually, neither filtered nor fined, the wines are classic and expressive with distinct terroir-influenced personalities.

Maison Ambroise is a long established, small négociant house, who operates on 21 hectares of their own vineyards and purchase grapes from another 3. They own vines in Prémeaux, Nuits-St-Georges, Ladoix, Meursault, the hill of Corton, Vosne-Romanée (with some Grand Cru Echezeaux!), Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Beaune and as far as Saint-Romain. Bertrand Ambroise has been a key figure in the development of the estate and this wine is named for his grand-daughter.

Some official info from the area: This appellation Coteaux Bourguignons, created in 2011 covers red, white, and rosé wines, grown over four départements. The Coteaux Bourguignons appellation covers wines that can be blended or come from a single varietal, and which can use some more old-fashioned varietals. The word rosé can be replaced by the word Clairet.

This Bourgogne blanc is very adaptable at the table. It makes it a delicate and tasty pre-dinner drink while its wide-ranging and persistent aromatic spectrum (thanks to the Chardonnay grape) makes it a team player in the kitchen, especially with fish and shellfish. Its native power enables it to prevail over onion tarts as well as over a wide variety of soft and hard cheeses such as Brie, Vacherin, Saint-Nectaire, Mont-d’Or, Beaufort, Comté and all varieties of Gruyère.

Serving temperature: 11 to 13°C.

Saint-Cyrgues, Saint-Cirice 'Syrah - Grenache’ VdP du Gard (IGP) 2019, 13.5%

€14.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Cherry red in colour, this blend from Costiers de Nîmes is produced with 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Marselan and 10% Merlot. Cherry and raspberry in the aromas. 'Saint Cirice' is the estate's entry level red and is rich and a little spicy. A good finish too.

Costières de Nîmes is in the Rhone delta and has those rounded pebbles (decent sized stones!), indeed the terroir is very close to that of Côtes du Rhone. It is well known over the decades for producing good wines and is one place in France where you can get exceptional value and this Highly Recommended bottle is an excellent illustration!

Le Caveau sum it up well: It will have broad appeal and would be a perfect choice for a house wine, or for any occasion where the need for a pleasurable drop and a keen price are essential.

St Cyrgues is an estate with vineyards along the southern slopes of the Costières de Nîmes which has a history of vine cultivation dating back centuries, and it was bought in 1991 by a young Swiss couple, Evelyne and Guy de Mercurio, and is run along organic lines.

Quite a versatile wine at the table. Suggestions noted are to serve it with wild mushroom risotto, gardiane ( a local stew made from smoked bacon, black olives and garlic) or a chunk of tomme cheese. Should perform well when matching up with roasted or barbecued meats so would do well during your Sunday lunch.

Nimes is the major city in the area in the eastern Languedoc, the city where denim (de Nimes) was invented. If you go to see the local bullfights (spectacular action fests where the athletes are more at risk than the bulls) you’ll note that the people involved with the bulls and the horses (paraded through the town before the spectacle), are kitted out in

denim just like your cowboy.

Under Pont du Gard - definitely not a cowboy

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #53 On the craft journey with a handy quartet of IPAs.

A Quart of Ale± #53

On the craft journey with a handy quartet of IPAs. 

O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale,  5.2%, 500ml bottle via Radical Drinks

Colour of O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale is a light and bright copper with a soft white head that soon thins down. It may be an Irish Pale Ale in title but their description is “A Contemporary style IPA with an Irish twist. Combining the balance of European IPAs with the generous dry hopping of American pale ales (APAs), this beer is everything an IPA should be and more.”

Aromas, a mix of floral and fruit, are fairly intense. And that citric zestiness is more pronounced in the palate. Excellent body and the refreshing bitterness persists all the way through to the satisfactory finish. Quite a beer with inputs from both sides of the ocean, rich, smooth and balanced, one that I very much enjoyed. Mid-Atlantic? 


Most of you probably know how IPA came about but just in case:

The term "pale ale" originally denoted an ale that had been brewed from pale malt. During the British colonial period in the late 1800s demand grew for export pale ales and a strongly hopped pale ale was developed, hops being a natural preservative and a higher abv lending the beer style better suited to the long voyages, particularly to India, hence the style name IPA.

For the geek:


Contemporary Style IPA



Plato °





Top fermentation


Keg (carbonated), Bottle 50cl and 33cl (occasional 41L cask-conditioned)

Serving Temperature


Food Pairing

Works incredibly well alongside the BBQ, with spicy food and shellfish.


O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beer conical glass

The Brewery:

Carlow Brewing Company, also known as O’Hara’s Brewery, is an independent, family-owned business established in 1996 and one of the pioneers of Irish craft brewing. Located in the heart of Ireland’s traditional malt and hop-growing “Barrow Valley” region which has strong historical linkages to the Irish brewing industry, “we are proud to have been at the forefront of the new wave of Irish craft brewing for 25 years. As a craft brewery we brew our beers true to the tradition – with taste and flavour.”

O’Hara’s 51st State IPA, 6.0%, 500ml bottle via Radical Drinks

Colour of this “attack on the senses” is a mid-gold, with a long-lasting white head. Bubbles galore rise through a light haze. Aromatics are intense, exotic fruits leading the way. The big aromas continue with the big flavours in a smooth sensation right to the finish. Citrusy and soft and very very quaffable indeed.

They say: Bursting with bold tropical flavours of grapefruit, passion fruit, apricot and peach, this unfiltered IPA, which takes its inspiration from the New England IPA style, is an attack on the senses. A carefully chosen hop blend provides an intense citrus aroma while adding a well-balanced yet mild bitterness. Malts are combined to deliver a smooth mouthfeel.

The addition of lots of different hop varietals late in the boil help achieve the big aroma and flavour. Further enhanced by later dry hopping with Citra and Amarillo while “generous additions of wheat, crystal and caramalt make this beer very smooth on the pallet (also on the palate!)”. They also make a session version of this, with a 4% ABV.

For the geek:

Style - IPA


ABV - 6.0%


Plato ° - 15.0°


IBU - 40


Fermentation- Top fermentation


Availability- 30L Keg (carbonated) and 50cl Bottle

Serving Temperature - 6-8°C


Food Pairing- Perfect for matching with spicy chicken dishes, steak, Eton Mess and Stilton cheese.


Glass- O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beer conical glass

Dundalk Bay Brewmaster Irish IPA 5.6%, 440 can O’Donovan’

Amber is the colour of this one, couldn’t even tell you about the head as it vanished so quickly. Checked it with a robust second slash later on and it is (barely) off white and with some little lasting power.  Aromas are reticent, a vague hint of tropical fruits. It is soft in the mouth and soon you know you have a pleasant ale, one without extremes. Passionfruit and grapefruit flavours are moderate and there’s a slightly bitter finish but the balance is superb, harmony all the way.

I like this one, an excellent beer for an evening when the conversation is pleasant, not boisterous nor cranky, the kind of evening most of us like.

Food suggested by the maker: Pair with salty or fried foods. Recommended with red meat.

They say: At Brewmaster we develop unique recipes with a modern brewing style to create sessionable and refreshing premium quality beers. Dundalk Bay Brewery and Distillery is a family company that started from a vision and passion for building breweries and distilleries. The idea came about when one day we decided to take a leap of faith and build our own showcase living and breathing brewery and launched our premium Irish beer, Brewmaster.

The journey has continued since when they developed a Gin Distillery and subsequently Ravenrock Premium Distilled Irish Gin was born in January 2020. The expansion continues…

Rising Sons “5th Horseman” session IPA 3.8%, 440 can Bradleys

Light gold is the colour of the 5th Horseman, a session IPA from Cork City centre brewery The Rising Sons. Nice white head’s not for staying and you’ll see plenty of bubbles rising in the slight haze. The aroma signalled that this is decently hopped and so it proved and the lower strength does not mean less flavour. Aromas (fruit and hints of pine) are rather intense and the palate follows suit more or less, lots of flavour (citrus, melon) in a lively background, the finish also good and hoppy. A very friendly beer indeed and should take you through a session comfortably. Glad they’re selling their beers in cans. While they have a dozen or pubs scattered across the city, not always easy to get down and sample the draught.

They say: 5th Horseman is a low ABV session IPA. Hopped with Amarillo, Centennial, Huell Melon and Idaho 7 hops. Notes of pine , orange , lemon and grapefruit

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Taste of the Week. On The Pig's Back Couscous Salad

Taste of the Week

On The Pig's Back Couscous Salad

Couscous has become very well-known here over the past few decades. You can use it as an accompaniment to meat dishes. Tagine is a regular example.Or you may enjoy it as a standalone salad.

Either way, you'll find it hard to top the fresh and spicy Couscous salad with carrots, peppers, raisins and almonds, and Moroccan spices that On The Pig's Back produce. It is our current Taste of the Week.

We ordered it (€5.50) via Neighbourfood and paired it with those very tasty Skeaghanore duck confit legs (widely available, including via Neighbourfood). A superb result!

On The Pig's Back


Gleesons are once again the Travellers' Choice!

press release

Another TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award For Gleesons

Mary, Eamonn and Cáit Gleeson outside Gleesons Roscommon


Once again Gleesons Roscommon has been rewarded for excellence with a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award. This is a significant tribute for the family run Roscommon business putting them in the top 10% of hotels worldwide. TripAdvisor is the biggest travel review website in the world with a staggering 200 million user reviews.


Gleesons also appeared in the recent Irish Times ‘Best 100 Restaurants to Eat Outdoors’. Their brand new outside dining area is completed and ready to go for when restrictions lift.


The Travellers’ Choice is the highest honour available from TripAdvisor and is based on millions of reviews and opinions from travellers from around the world. The annual award recognises the very best tourism establishments in terms of service, quality, customer satisfaction. It’s an exclusive group, which Gleesons are very proud to be part of.


“We are absolutely delighted with this award”, said Cáit Gleeson, General Manager, Gleesons Roscommon, “It’s exactly the boost we need just as everything is opening up again. It’s a recognition of our whole team and how hard they work to give every guest the best possible experience. This proves that our guests notice the difference and have told the world through TripAdvisor.”


Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at TripAdvisor recognises how difficult the Covid19 restrictions have been for the hospitality industry. He congratulated all the winners, saying, “I know the past year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses. What has impressed me is how businesses adapted to these challenges, implementing new cleanliness measures, adding social distancing guidelines, and utilising technology to prioritise guest safety. The Travellers’ Choice Awards highlight the places that are consistently excellent.”


Gleesons was the first premises in the county to be awarded  the Failte Ireland Covid19 safety charter. The Charter reassures customers that the business is ready to re-open and operate safely. Cáit, Eamonn, Mary and the whole team are really looking forward to welcoming their customers and friends back again. The entire building has been reorganised to meet and exceed Covid-19 requirements while retaining the unique character of the 1872 listed building. Gleesons will be reopening on Monday 7th June for outdoor dining and accommodation. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Blacks Launch 18 Year Old Single Malt with Irish Rum Cask Finish

 press release


-Blacks Launch 18 Year Old Single Malt with Irish Rum Cask Finish-


Just as 18 is a monumental age in a young person’s life, opening the doors to adulthood, it also holds a very special significance in the whiskey world, indicating a level of maturity and commitment to patience and craft.  For whiskey connoisseurs, in order to curate the perfect collection, they are constantly on the hunt for that special spirit which is rare and unique – a one of a kind.  The newest addition to the Blacks Brewery & Distillery portfolio, 18 Year Old Single Malt with Irish Rum Cask Finish, answers this brief.

Over the years Blacks have become accustomed to setting the industry trends and securing their place in history books with a number of firsts.  Located on the Wild Atlantic Way in Kinsale, Blacks are Ireland’s first co-located brewery & distillery. In 2018, husband and wife duo of Sam and Maudeline Black launched Ireland’s first-ever spiced rum, Blacks Spiced Rum, made entirely from start to finish in Ireland. Continuing to expand their offering Blacks Golden Rum hit the shelves and in 2020 took home the coveted gold award at the World Rum Awards.

Founders Maudeline and Sam Black

With one simple mission, to escape the mundane of the mass market by producing beers with passion, personality and lots of hops, while also pushing the boundaries of flavour when crafting their range of award-winning spirits, Blacks are once again bringing us a world’s first.

Securing a limited amount of aged Single Malt that would complement the characteristics of their rum casks, which previously held their award-winning liquid gold, Blacks began the process of maturing a single malt whiskey with a unique twist.  After continuous sampling and endless hours of profiling, in April 2021 this treasure had reached peak maturation.

It is a whiskey lover’s dream come true! A world’s first for Irish Whiskey – an Irish Rum Cask finish. There are only 563 bottles of this limited edition 18 Year Old Single Malt, each individually numbered. For many whiskey collectors their collection remains unopened for many years, and so with every purchase Blacks are providing these whiskey fanatics with a free 20ml spirit sample so that they can also sip and enjoy this new Irish spirit.

Speaking in relation to this exciting new launch, founder Sam Black commented, “The idea stemmed from our desire to push the boundaries for Irish spirits and continue to bring about new and innovative releases.  We are very familiar with this rum cask style here at Blacks, but it is something completely new to even the most renowned whiskey connoisseurs.”

Presented in a bespoke treasure chest style box, this cask strength beauty comes in at 56% ABV and will transport you to a world never explored before by a whiskey drinker.

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: Opens with confected aromas of vanilla maple syrup, sticky toffee pudding and candied fruit. Slight hints of coffee beans are set aside by the oak wood undertones before being reminded of banoffee pie and tropical desserts.

Palate: A velvet soft, toffee rich mouthfeel gives way to notes of caramel coated nuts and butter baked biscuits. Sweet malt and rum spices then demand your attention, as exotic fruit notes push to the forefront of your palate.

Finish: An amazingly complex finish with lingering nutmeg spices and dried sultanas fading out before being left with the oak wood undertones that characterised this whiskey for the first 18 years of its life.

Retailing at €500 per bottle, this matured one-of-a-kind whiskey is available exclusively through the Blacks online store, www.

To find out more about Blacks award-winning spirits and craft beers, or for more brewery and distillery offers and exclusives follow Blacks online at Facebook/BlacksOfKinsale, Instagram/blacksbrewery and Twitter @BlacksBrewery

‘Park life’ at the Imperial. Something to sing about!

press release

‘Park life’ at the Imperial


Park Life? Savage Garden? The Imperial Hotel is crowdsourcing song suggestions for a playlist to match the green outdoor vibe of their South Mall parklet

The Grande Dame of the Mall. Looking Well. Looking Swell

New outdoor dining space on Pembroke Street and continued refurbishments at Cork City’s most historic hotel


The Imperial Hotel is calling on Cork to help them compile the ultimate playlist for their eco-friendly parklet on the South Mall. They are looking for feelgood music with a ‘park’, ‘green’, ‘garden’ ‘natural’ theme that will give people a boost as they enjoy takeout burritos and other treats from the hotel’s Lafayette restaurant, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city at the unique outdoor seated area!  


You can make your playlist suggestions on the Imperial’s social media and the top 10 entries will win complimentary burritos for two!


The pretty parklet, which is positioned just outside the main entrance of the ‘Grande Dame of Cork’ as the hotel is known, was created in January with support from Cork City Council, Benchspace Cork and the Cork Zero Waste group.  It is now a project of passion for the Imperial ‘family’, who are growing locally sourced pollinator-friendly plants and herbs there, as part of their sustainability ethos and to bring a gorgeous splash of natural colour, texture and scent to the South Mall. 

Parklet Pranksters. 

Parklet seeks playlist suggestions! Launching a search for song suggestions for a playlist themed around their South Mall Parklet. Members of the Imperial Hotel Team took time out to enjoy the outdoor green space listening to music, wearing shades and enjoying some delicious food as a fun take on the 3 Wise Monkeys. Pictured L-R Reece Love Assistant F&B Operations Manager, Roisín Flynn Business Development Manager, Jazz Glennon Marketing Manager and Sanja Orlovic Assistant House Manager of the luxury boutique Imperial Hotel, Cork


There is also a newly added bike rack to facilitate cycle access, which is very convenient for anyone popping out for lunch! 


General Manager of the luxury boutique Imperial Hotel, Bastien Peyraud said, “The idea is to curate a playlist for visitors stemmed from the sensory experience of this miniature urban greenspace - the aromatic plants, community atmosphere, and tasty food are the perfect stimulation of the senses”. 


Once the playlist is compiled it will be available publicly on spotify, so anyone with headphones can listen in on their personal device, ensuring that there is no noise pollution for other visitors. 


The Imperial Parklet is part of the Re-imagining Cork City Programme that aims to make Cork’s urban landscape more about the people. The Parklet is currently one of the few places in Cork that customers can sit and enjoy takeaway beverages, breakfast and lunch.  It’s also a handy waiting point for the Imperial’s click and collect afternoon tea and a spot of urban respite for people on the South Mall.

Speaking about the Parklet and the planned pedestrianisation of Pembroke Street, Bastien said, “Outdoor dining has never been more important and we are delighted to have our eco- friendly little Parklet complete with its Hanako flowers from West Cork, and soon our new venue Sketch will be accessible from Pembroke Street, a street which I’m sure will bustling shortly as there is so much variety on the street from the Imperial, to Maynes and Orso.”  


Bastien continued “The Imperial is affectionately known as the Grande Dame of Cork because of our unique 200 years of history at the heart of the city.  The Imperial family can’t wait to reopen fully in the coming weeks to showcase our restyle and renovation work, designed by Allen Flynn CEO of the Flynn Hotel Collection, which kept us busy while working behind closed doors.”


If you would like to contribute a song suggestion for the ‘Parklet Playlist’ tag @theimperialhotelcork on social media from today [25 May 2021], and you will automatically be in with a chance to win burritos for two at the parklet.


For more see #ImperialMoments #GrandeDameofCork #ParkletPlaylist

Never Say No To Rosé. Bouquet drenched in Sunshine. Aromas of the Garrigue. Suave and Gourmet.

Once In Provence

O'Briens Rosé Summer Offer. All Summer!

Once in Provence - well I was there just the once - I thought I should get a bottle of rosé for a fish meal back at the gite that summer’s evening. 

It was mid-afternoon and I was visiting Roussillon, the reddest town in France. Red, not because of its politics, but because of the red/yellow/orange colour of its buildings, most constructed from the local ochre stone - you could see, from the town, the bright slashes of a quarry in the area.

As you might expect, the young man in the wine shop had quite a selection. After a chat, he offered the bottle that his family favoured and it turned out very well indeed. Just before we drove out of the carpark, I took a photo of the newly acquired rosé lying on the local soil.

The local soil adds colour to this rosé

One begins drinking with the eyes, they say down there, the beauty enhanced by the glass. That bouquet drenched in sunshine. Aromatic notes of the hot and dry garrigue (herbs, spices, fruit). The taste suave and gourmet. They can really sell wine in these parts! 

Perhaps the best sell of all comes from an unexpected quarter: from the monks of Via Caritatas. They have produced a rosé that “addresses itself to the soul… Silence is the only thing that suits.” Check it all out here on this short video from the winery. Thanks to their Gabriel Teissier, I have tasted their beautiful Lux red but not that tempting rosé Lux de Cælo!

Came across quite a lot of rosé that Provence trip, including some at the famous Tavel (on the Rhone). Mostly though we bought and drank the pink from the ladies of Mas de la Dame (spoken of by Nostradamus, painted by Van Gogh, its wines recommended by Mary Dowey, three legends there!). 

The Mas rosé was popular in the restaurants around Arles (our base) and the vineyard itself was in easy reach and so we called and bought wine at the farm in Les Baux de Provence, a charming medieval village perched atop a rocky outcrop near where Anne Poniatowski and Caroline Missoffe, the current “dames”, continue to make excellent wines (not available in Ireland as far as I know).

Chateau Gairoird Organic Rose Côtes de Provence (AP) 2020, 13%, €14.21 (18.95)

This organic rosé from Provence has a very pale salmon colour. Quite aromatic with, for me, strawberry leading the charge, also notes of grapefruit and white peach. Strawberry also on the full flavoured palate, good balance too. Plus a decently long finish. Perhaps this is more suited to table rather than aperitif duty with a veal blanquette, cheeses, crab fritters, tuna tartare, grilled salmon, linguine with tomato and olive sauce, among the dishes suggested. Serve at 12 degrees.

Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah are among the grapes used in this blend. This Côtes de Provence rosé is all about the blend and up to 10 other varieties (including Rolle and Tibouren and mostly in tiny proprortions) may go into this wine.

O’Brien’s tell us the Pierrefeu family has owned this estate since 1824 and have farmed it organically for the last ten years. The estate has a maritime climate and benefits from a sea breeze every day which keeps the grapes healthy and disease free without the need for spraying, this is a deliciously elegant textbook Provence. The terroir is classic Provence with free-draining, chalky-clay soil dotted with galets and, with wonderful echoes of Jean de Florette, the Château has its own ‘source’.

While this rosé from Provence has nothing much more by way of colour than a blush hue, a recent edition of Wine Enthusiast reports, that in recent vintages the local rosé in Provence has “gotten exactly what it needed: more color.” 

Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Languedoc 2020 13.5%, €14.21 (18.95)

The "sculptured" base of the Bertrand.

Another impressive bottle from the Languedoc. There’s a rose on the neck (top) and the bottom has been “sculpted” into a rose shape (above).

Glass closure

So how does the wine shape up? Quite well actually as you’d expect from Gérard Bertrand who played rugby well and now makes wines well. The colour is a soft pale rose, with a hint of grey. Aromas are delicate, of red summer fruit (strawberry and cherry) and blossom too. With its generous rounded mouthfeel, the freshness and fruitiness on the palate, it is all the better to match your grilled white meat, white fish or Mediterranean style summer salads or just as an aperitif as you and your friend shoot the breeze and smell the back garden roses.

This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, certainly looks, and tastes, well enough to give as a gift when calling to a friend and don’t forget to get one for yourself as well. 

Summer Long Rosé Offers at O'Briens Wine

Revino PostCard Organic Pinot Grigio 2020 Veneto €11.96

Delheim Pinotage 2020 Stellenbosch €10.46

Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir 2019/20 €11.96 Loire Valley

Langlois Rosé D’Anjou 2020 €11.96 Loire Valley

Pasqua 11 Minutes 2020 €14.21 Veneto

Laurent Miquel Les Auzines Alaina €12.71 Languedoc Roussillon

MiMi en Provence Grande Réserve 2020 €14.96 Côtes de Provence

Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses 2020 €14.21 Languedoc Roussillon

Famille Bougrier 2020 €10.46 Loire Valley

Domaine L’Ostal 2020 €11.96 Languedoc Roussillon

Château de Gairoird 2020 €14.21 Côtes de Provence

Rós Rosé 2020 €12.71 Navarra

Passe Colline Rosé Ventoux 2020 €11.21 Rhone

See previous post on the Alaina and L'Ostal here.