Restaurant Reviews. Food. Markets. Wine. Beer. Cider. Whiskey. Gin. Producers. . Always on the look-out for tasty food and drink from quality producers! Buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together, the further we will go. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter: @corkbilly
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“We are gearing ourselves up for the Christmas holidays here in the Well!
Once again we will be turning our award winning beer hall into a winter wonderland. Through out the month of December we will have live music, cocktails & hot drinks from the MONK cocktail bar (as well as a new seasonal menu ) and Christmas markets!
The market will run on Saturday the 8th and Saturday the 15th of December from 1-6pm. They will be run by local artists who will be selling original handmade gifts such as hats, cards, ceramic pieces, wooden cheese boards and much more! Admission is free.” More info on their Facebook.
Christmas Gin Festival
The Revolution Bar, John Street, Waterford.
November 30th from 8.00pm
Check the bar’s facebook page for tickets.
“as with Harvest Festival we have invited some of the best Gin Companies in the Country to showcase their products for you. Your Ticket will entitle you to a lovely Gin Glass (to take home). 4 Gin & Tonics of you Choice. We will also have some nice Christmas drinks to try. ALL GIN COMPANIES WILL HAVE BOTTLES OF GIN FOR SALE FOR THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS PRESENT.”
Heart of Spain 1st birthday 8th December
I met Massaya’s Sami Ghosn in Cork a year years back, not long after he had returned from the US to help revive the family vineyards. You’d think the family would have enough on its plate with the uncertainties of the region without worrying about the future of the planet. But they do and they do something about it:
“For years now we have been treating our waste water, we have made our compost, recycled waste, encouraged our team to reduce their carbon footprints, given preference to local producers, chosen ingredients and material that were as natural as possible, planted our kitchen garden, planted bamboos to recycle water, prioritized organic treatments of vineyards, reduced to minimum the use of sulfur, oxygenated water for use in irrigation, and followed the moon calendar to filtrate and bottle our wines.” For more on the remarkable Massaya vineyard, read here
The Rain in Spain.
There was a late Late Harvest in Spain for 2018 following an early on in 2017. Ripening was delayed and picking times have turned out to be the major headache of the vintage. But it wasn’t the same all over the country. Terrific insight herefrom Spanish Wine Lover with no less than eight stories from around the country.
Labels Battle as California winemaker used labels that carried the Oregon AVA. Then there’s the Rubired concentrate that gives Pinot Noir more colour!!
The Feds have stepped into the middle of a simmering battle over wine provenance by ordering a California winemaker to change labels that carried the Oregon AVA, even though the wines were made in Lodi. Read more here.
Casa de Mouraz 2011 (DAO), 13.5%, €17.50 Mary Pawle
The grapes for this excellent red come from several vineyards of Casa de Mouraz “some of which are mentioned in documents from the 16th century”. They were no doubt organic then and are organic now.
The wine has been matured in fine Nevers oak for 8 months and is a blend of local grapes: Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and the almost unknown Agua Santa.
It is an intense red colour with violet hue and the legs are in no hurry to clear. You’ll find ripe rich fruits in the aromas. It is smooth, spicy, with a lovely mineral streak, and a lasting finish. A serious drop indeed and Highly Recommended.
Ambroise Lettre d’Eloïse Coteaux Bourguignons 2013, 13%, €17.85 Le Caveau
The wines of Maison Ambroise, certified organic since 2013, are regarded as classic Burgundy “with distinct terroir influenced personalities”. This, new to the Le Caveau range, is 100 per cent Pinot Noir and has been aged in 400l barrels, two to five year old, for ten months. No fining or filtration has been applied so be sure to decant. By the way, did you know that synonyms for Pinot Noir include Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spatburgunder, Blauburgunder.
Colour here is a pale ruby; red fruits in the aromas, most noticeably cherry. It is wonderfully fresh, the lively fruit flavours well matched by the acidity, a perfect balance, plus an excellent finish. Highly Recommended.
Saw a few matching suggestions and the one that made most sense was Roasted duck breast with plum sauce. One from BBC Food here.
Interestingly, this was “tested” on a Friday, then the Vacuvin was applied. The bottle was finished off on the following Wednesday and a small improvement was noted! The vine is made by a cooperative of growers from “gnarled 40 year old vines”.
Ruby is the colour, tending towards violet. And there are rich jammy aromas, plus vanilla. All that rich fruit appears too on the warm palate but nicely balanced by the acidity, some spice too, vanilla again, plus a decent finish. Pair with hearty dishes of beef, pork, fowl and various game. Recommended.
No less than eight grape varieties featured as Liam Campbell, in association with Wines of California, presented a very interesting and high quality tasting at the Grainstore in Ballymaloe last Wednesday.
The big “spread” was no accident as Liam deliberately chose to show that the Sunshine State can grow any variety under the sun. “No matter what variety, you can be sure that someone in California is experimenting with it.”
When you think of California, you bring up some lovely images: “Tee-shorts, shorts, flip-flops, beach, laid-back, easy-going. And the producers embrace that friendly attitude and praise one another’s wine.”
He started the whites with Paul Dolan’s 2012 organic Chardonnay from Mendocino. Classic Drinks are the importers and rrp is €26.99. The Dolan family has a Waterford connection. This “is totally dry but fruity with medium acidity”. It is full-bodied, with a persistent finish. Dolan is a leading proponent of biodynamic and organic grape farming, according to Wines of California (2014). This was my favourite of the three whites.
The Benziger 2012 Sauvignon blanc, imported by Febvre (rrp €24.99), “has quite a European accent”, according to Liam. “Great acidity with lemon, lime and apple characteristics, a very versatile food wine”. It certainly went well with the St Tola Ash Goat Cheese.
Benziger, not to be confused with the Beringers, are another vineyard that use natural farming methods and to quote from Wines of California: “The rolling hills of their Glen Ellen estate are home...to..sheep, cattle, and a host of bugs and birds that keep the vineyard in balance."
In between the whites and the reds, Liam spoke about the Morgan Bay 2014 Zinfandel Rose that we had started with as we took our seats in the grainstore. At 10% abv it is a light drink, also a little bit sweet. “But like Blue Nun, it gets people into wine; it is fresh and fruity and a great cheese partner.” Now it was time “to move on to the dark side”.
The reds started with a Pinot Noir, the La Crema (Monterey) 2012, imported by Celtic Whiskey & Wines with an rrp of €31.99. Liam praised it for its high acidity, a great summer wine, versatile and very good with food, not just red meats but may be served cool with poultry, fish and so on. Again, the vineyard is sustainably farmed.
Wines are produced in four quality levels. We had an excellent example in Ballymaloe but apparently the Point Noir to watch out for is the third tier Russian River Valley 2011 from the Appellation series.
Liam continued his exploration of the many varieties when he next introduced the Barbera 2010 from Montevino (Spanish for mountain wine). “It has a gentle ruby colour, looks very young for a 2010, plummy aromas now..mouth-watering, gentle tannins, high acidity that cuts the fat in your chorizo!” Sure did. It is imported by Findlaters and rrp is €14.50.
Wouldn't be a Californian tasting without a good red Zinfandel and our example was a Bonterra 2013, with a big abv of 15%, imported by Richmond Market, rrp €18.00. This has a pale-ish ruby colour with black fruits and gentle tannins and was a perfect match with that delicious Mossfield cheese. Bonterra, well known for their Merlot, are the leading producer of organic wines in California.
The Delicato Vineyards are one of the leading family vineyards in the US and produce under a variety of labels including Gnarly Head that you will see in Ireland. We enjoyed their First Press 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, imported by Cassidy Wines and with an rrp of €26.99 .This is ageing well, “a perfect ruby to the edge” and went down well. Liam’s tip here was to decant!
We finished on a high note with a Syrah, the Tepusquet 2013 from Cambria. You'll find it in O'Brien’s at €24.99. The Tepusquet vineyard has been replanted over the past 20 years. Liam: “The nose is subdued but there is a deep mine of flavour, black fruit characteristics and great acidity. Great with steak… but try it with fried calamari! The temptation is to use it now but it will age well.”
Zinfandel now has a birth cert. Until only recently, it was California's "mystery grape" because its origins were unknown.
DNA fingerprinting has confirmed that Italy's Primitivo and Crljenak Kastelanski, an ancient Croatian variety, are genetically identical to Zinfandel grapes. However, differences in vine vigor and cluster size separate Zinfandel from its genetic twins, and further differences in cultivation, terroir and winemaking combine to give Zinfandel its own particular flavor profile with a truly American name, history and style. On wine labels, U.S. regulations require that Zinfandel and Primitivo be identified separately. Read more...
Clos du Val Napa Valley Zinfandel 2013, 14.5%, €29.95 O’Brien’s
From the very first sip, there was no doubt but that this Zinfandel was going to get a Very Highly Recommended. The drinking was spread over two days: it just got better.
Color is a rich purple and the vibrant aromas are not at all shy: dark frit and more. It is magnificent on the palate, with its warming mouthfeel, full of red fruit flavours, vanilla too, some spice as well, fine tannins. It is rich and full bodied, elegant and refined, with a lingering finish. And, yes, Very Highly Recommended.
The wine is produced in California but the the food match was made in Douglas. I bought the wine in O;Brien;s there and paired it with a gorgeous Pork and Prune Terrine from On the Pig’s Back. On the second day, it went very well indeed with mousaka.
Clos du Val was started by John Goelet in 1970 and it was quality from day one. Wines of California, an excellent recent book on the area, particularly recommends their reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) and the Carneros Reserve Chardonnay.
Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2012 (Lodi, California), 14%, €10.00 on offer and widely available.
This is a wine for the barbecue, before during and after. A fun wine. Pretty good fun though and Highly Recommended. Generally, it seems that a fun wine in California is well removed from a poor wine.
Rioe fruit notes, particularly strawberries, dominate the aromas.No shortage of fruity flavours on the palate and there are vanilla notes too. Intense enough with traces of spice and pretty good length as well. Small amounts of Petite Sirah and Tempranillo have been added “for increased intensity and dark fruit characteristics”. Most of the Zin fruit comes from Lodi, the self-proclaimed “Zinfandel Capital of the World”.
Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California, many dating back to the Gold Rush of 1849. Lodi’s wine industry continued to flourish through Prohibition, thanks to farmers who maintained their crops for legally sanctioned “home winemaking.” Today, Lodi is Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Wine Region of the Year and a leading producer of California’s top varieties. However, with over 100 varieties now in production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse and interesting wines, all of which thrive in the region’s Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool nights. More on Lodi here.
Pinot Noir hasn't the best of reputations on the vineyard: capricious, a prima donna. But this is a delicate delight, Californian by birth but strong traces of a Burgundian accent, and is Highly Recommended. Cooperage: 40% new French oak, 60% neutral oak. The winery recommends pairing it with porcini and cremini mushroom risotto or roast rosemary chicken.
It has the typical light red colour, cherry to medium garnet. There is a beautiful red fruit nose, cherries plus berries. Fruit flavours follow through on the vibrant palate, restrained spice, fine tannins too, a lovely balance to this easy-drinking medium-bodied beauty and an excellent finish to boot.
Some 40,000 acres of Pinot Noir are now grown in California, well up on the 25,000 acres of 2004. Its popularity, according to the Wines of California, “is due to the general trend towards lighter, higher-acid food-friendly wines”. This lively Gladiator is certainly one of them, a good juicy one at that.
I bought this one from Bubble Brothers in the English Market and got good advice from Paddy. Must also say that the company's website is excellent, giving good detail on a big range of wines from around the world.
Wines From California. Serious. Cheeky. And Over Here.
California Wines – Less is Moreis the title of a Wine Event in Ballymaloe next month and here, by way of introduction, are three wines from the Golden State. Two are reasonably serious players, the other not serious at all!
Still on the lookout for Californian wines, so let me know if you have a tip!
Joel Gott Chardonnay (California) 2013, 13.8%, €14.99 Bradley’s, Cork.
This has a bright golden colour, micro-bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass. Aromas of white fruits, blossoms too. Fresh and fruity on the palate, tingles as it spreads its lively acidity, all combining in a really long finish. This elegant wine is unoaked and Very Highly Recommended.
The grapes come from three different counties of California; from Monterey (which enhances the acidity) and from Sonoma and Napa (for better concentration). It is all stainless steel after that with some time sur lies to “improve viscosity”.
The Gott family have been making wine in California for five generations and are also well known for Gott’s Roadside where you can get “great burgers and milk shakes” according to Wines of California which itself has Joel's recipe for Fish Tacos (paired with Sauvignon blanc). Watch out too for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Alakai (a red blend).
See the maker’s short video on the Chardonnay here.
Wilson Vineyard The Crusher Chardonnay (Clarksburg) 2011, €16.90 Karwig Wines
Another with a bright golden colour, tints of green too. Aromas of white fruit, blossoms, even hints of herb. Great mix of fruit on the fresh palate, nicely restrained though, beautiful rounded mouthfeel, enough acidity to balance and a long engaging finish.
This well balanced wine is “a perfect candidate for a bevy of dishes. Try pairing with halibut with lemon butter atop of rice pilaf or a delicious vegetable stir-fry with soy sauce”. There is, by the way, a small percentage of Viognier included.
The Crusher, from Clarksburg (beginning to emerge on the wine scene), captures the freshness of this world-class growing region, and is Very Highly Recommended.
“Wine tastes better in a tee than in a tux” is the motto, one of them anyway, for Barefoot who pride themselves on making wines “free from the tyranny of all wine snobbery”. Jennifer Wall, their winemaker since 1995, is best known in-house as Pinky Toe and, with some 2,000 medals to her credit, Pinky is quite a success story. Barefoot is part of E & J Gallo since 2005.
Merlot, of course, is also quite a success story in California. In 1990, 15,205 tons of Merlot were crushed here and that had risen to 282,300 by 2014. In the US overall, consumption figures for the grape are 2.8 million cases in 1990, 18 million in 2014.
This Barefoot is a fun wine with 76% Merlot and 24% other red wines. The Merlot grapes were harvested from select vineyards in The Central Valley, at the mouth of the Sacramento Delta, a location which provides beautiful warm days and cool breezy nights that foster ideal weather conditions for perfect fruit ripeness.
Colour is purple and there are red and dark fruit aromas (mainly plum, cherry). This medium bodied wine is smooth and warming, full of raspberry and blackberry flavours, mild tannins, well balanced too and with a decent finish. It is an easy-drinker, good value and Recommended. One half of the house is more inclined to make that Highly Recommended, so I used my casting vote! It is versatile too and Barefoot say it may be served with beef, poultry, pasta (with tomato sauce), cheese and dessert.