Showing posts with label Findlaters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Findlaters. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Masi & Louis Jadot Feature as Findlaters bring Wineberries to Cork

Masi and Louis Jadot Feature as Findlaters bring the Wineberries to Cork
Part Two: Masi, Louis Jadot
Mick O'Connell MW of Findlaters talking to guests at the Chapoutier stand.

Masi (Italy) and Louis Jadot (France) were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Masi 

Masi are “one of the great entrepreneurs of Italian wine,” according to The Modern History of Italian Wine and they were ably represented in the Montenotte by Export Manager Giacomo Boscaini.

Masi are well known for using techniques that enhance the flavour and concentration of their wines but I was somewhat surprised when he mentioned the technique in conjunction with the white he was pouring, the Massianco. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Grigio and 15% Verduzzo from Friuli. The Verduzzo spends three weeks drying and this enables it play quite a part in the final result (the fruits are vinified separately). This 2017 carries the DOC de Venezia.

They are proud of their techniques, experts in “enhancing aromas and tastes using lightly semi dried grapes”. This appassimento leads to a higher concentration of fruit and it seems to work well here.

There are excellent white fruit and blossom aromas and the colour is light gold with a green hue. This is Pinot Grigio plus, with character and concentration, a lip drying acidity and an impressive finalé. Well worth a try.

Just as I was going to another table, Giacomo asked me to try their Canevel Brut Prosecco Superiore DOCG. I’m so glad he did. I can take or leave Prosecco but will forever regard it in a different light after tasting this beauty, proudly sporting its DOCG, the fruit from the prime area of Valdobbiadene. A benchmark in the Canevel range, a dry and silky sparkling wine with delicate aromas of apples and spices. More than enough to convert me!

Skipped on down to Tuscany then for the first of the Masi reds. It was the Poderi Bellovile Rosso di Toscana (IGT) 2015. “Fresh, fruity, an everyday wine with lots of Tuscan character.” Would do nicely at the weekends too!

It is made from a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo grapes grown in the Cinigiano hills on the Poderi del Bello Ovile estate. Masi's purchase of this estate in collaboration with Conti Serego Alighieri marks the return of the descendants of the poet Dante to Tuscany.

Off to Argentina now with Giacomo to try the Passo Doble Valle de Uco 2016, a red wine with an unusually high aromatic content made on the organically run Masi Tupungato estate at Mendoza. The fruit is grown on sandy soil at a height of 1000 metres.

It is striking for its intense fruitiness and delicate spiciness and lovely finish. Its strong and exuberant character comes from the local Malbec grape, while the addition of lightly dried Corvina Veronese (that technique again!) gives it the easy appeal and attractiveness of Venetian wines.

Superb Prosecco
It is also the subject of a double fermentation. At the end of the first (after a month), the dried Corvina is added to start the second fermentation.

And Giacomo still had one big treat for me, the Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG. Proud, majestic, complex and exuberant: this is a special cru version of Masi's gentle giant, Costasera.

And here Masi's unrivalled expertise in the Appassimento technique is used to give the grapes a long period of further ripening on bamboo racks and then there’s an ageing period for the wine of at least three years in casks made from the finest wood types.

The expert use of indigenous grapes for the Valpolicella Classica area - Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara - is enriched by the addition of the unique Oseleta. Needless to say, this was superb!

The Oseleta is interesting as it had been forgotten until re-discovered by Giacomo’s uncle and “now we are using it”. Just goes to show that while companies are important, it is the contributions of individuals that can make all the difference. Saluti!



Maison Louis Jadot
Nicolas was in great form at the Louis Jadot stand. We had a Louis Jadot dinner with Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director of the company, in Inchydoney Lodge not too long ago and you may read about the wines here

Interestingly, Nicolas told me they had their own cooperage, Cadus, that they bought in 1996. Our first wine though, the Chablis 2017, is unoaked, deliciously fresh with a beautiful mouthfeel. Next up was the Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2016. After a soft pressing, part of the juice is fermented in "double barrels" of 406 litres. The other part is vinified and aged in stainless steel vats. Ageing usually lasts 13 to 15 months on fine lees before bottling. This is more intense, with more volume than the previous one, with good acidity and a really long finish. “Will last for years,’ said Nicolas.

Jadot make wines in Burgundy and also in neighbouring Beaujolais and when I came back to the reds, Nicolas offered the Fleurie 2017. Fleurie is one of the ten crus in the region and straightaway you notice its bright light red colour. “It is one hundred per cent Gamay. Red fruits, acidity, some tannins, well balanced.” A lovely drop as we might say around here.

In 1996, Louis Jadot bought Chateau de Jacques in Morgon, “a really old winery” who also have holdings in other crus here. Morgon is one of the main crus and this 2014 bottle had the added distinction of coming from the highly regarded Cotes de Py with its “granitic volcanic soil”. It was a cold year, natural yeast was used here and the wine spent 12-15 months in oak. Because of the cold, it took a while to open out “but now it’s getting better and better”. 

Torres and Hugel were also well represented here and you may read about my chats with them here.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town


Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town
Part One: Hugel, Torres, and Chapoutier

Torres and Hugel were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Hugel
Wines of Alsace in the Montenotte, with the city in the background
I met a proper star at the Famille Hugel stand where I was greeted by none other than Jean Frédéric Hugel himself and a taste of their outstanding Gentil. Gentil is an Alsace tradition, made from all the white grapes of the estate. And it is done carefully, to a very high and controlled standard.

I’ve been very partial to it for quite a few years now (the Hugel one is on sale in Bradley’s). Jean Frédéric told me it is their best seller. “It is produced from six different grapes. These are blended after the wine-making stage to balance it better. It is super versatile and works well by the glass in restaurants.” I thought that was interesting as I cannot recall seeing it offered around this area. Maybe there’s an opening there - it is delicious and, as Jean Frédéric said, super versatile.

Many shrug when climate change is mentioned but those closest to the ground - the farmers - know it is happening. Jean Frédéric referred to it as he offered me their 2009 Pinot Noir, “their simplest Pinot but from a great vintage, stellar”. Especially because of climate change, the quality of Pinot Noir in the northern regions, including Alsace of course, is incomparable to what it was twenty years ago.” Burgundy beware seems to be the message.

Back in the old days, Alsace was known for its sweet wines and, like Germany (after Liebfraumilch), it took it a while to regain the respect for its wine. “But we have learned from those mistakes and are now back on track as a region”. I think that has been the case for quite a while now.

This was well illustrated with a couple of excellent Rieslings, beginning with the 2016, “a textbook Riesling, very dry”.  The 2015 was very dry again, “even a little flinty, a little bit smoky.. just a little bit of age now but this will evolve well”.

I then spotted the unmanned  Chapoutier stand nearby and helped myself to the sip of the white: Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2017, quite aromatic, good acidity and with a long finish. The whites here are often under-appreciated. The winemaker’s motto by the way is “Enjoy. Don’t over-analyse.”


Chapoutier’s winery and negociant business is situated in the Rhone area (with vineyards further afield, including Australia). “Our own vineyards and the single vineyards that we select from are cultivated either organically or biodynamically.”  He is of course famous for his reds and had the Cotes de Rhone Collection Bio on show here. I previously did a little feature on him and you may read it here

Torres
With Miguel Torres (left) in Dublin
"The more we care about the earth,
 the better our wine"

Torres is a big company but it is still a family company. And concerned about the climate. Just like Hugel, they see what is happening to the earth. 

Less than four years ago, Miguel Torres, one of the family’s fifth generation, spoke in Dublin saying the threats from climate change are been seen “more and more”. “Vineyards are very much at risk. Hailstorms are an example.” And they are doing something about it as you may read here in my article “Message in a bottle”

Lucas, whose parents are from Argentina, managed the Torres stand in the Montenotte and told me he had three different wines from different regions (plus one from Chile where the family is credited with reviving and transforming the industry). 

Torres are based in Penedes (near Barcelona) in the north east of Spain but our first wine was from the other side, an Albarino by Bruxas from Rias Baixas. No oak is used and it spends just six hours on lees. Very light, citrusy and refreshing with great acidity. “Very good with all seafood and goats cheese,” Lucas advised.

Torres seek out higher vineyards (climate change again a factor) and the grapes for the next wine, the Altos Ibericos, are grown between 400 and 700 metres above sea level in Rioja Alvesa. The altitude helps the grapes retain acidity. 

Sixteen months in French oak and two years in bottle qualifies this 2012 as Reserva. It is elegant, very smooth, with softer tannins. “As it ages, the tannins will soften more, the flavours will become more like dried fruit and the colour will fade a bit.” Good now and good in the future! Oh, by the way, it is one hundred per cent Tempranillo.

And another high vineyard featured in the story of our next wine, the Celeste Criaza 2016 from Ribera del Duero. The fruit is grown in the western part of the region at a height of 900 metres above sea level. It is more or less a continental climate and the diurnal range “is good, with cool nights”. And in cooler areas, the Tempranillo grape develops a thicker skin to help protect its valuable properties. Lucas described it as a fruit bomb but it is quite a rounded one, very drinkable indeed. Crianza means it has spent 12 months in French and US oak and 12 months on bottle before release.

So now to Chile and the old vines Manso de Velasco (grown close to the ocean), a superb Cabernet Sauvignon from 2013. It has spent 18 months in French oak, small barrels. It was a warm year and the abv is 13.5%. “Fruit flavours are of blackberries and cherries. Drink now,” Lucas says, “but it will last”. One to watch out for!

Jadot and Masi also featured; details here.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum of Dublin
Was your first wine step with Blue Nun? You weren't on your own - it was the biggest selling wine of the 70s

The U2 room. These few pictures are just a little dip in the treasure trove that is in the museum.
The Little Museum of Dublin, across the road from the northern edge of Stephen’s Green, is a superb visit with a guided tour and three floors of exhibitions. In the basement, there is the excellent Hatch and Co café where your museum ticket entitles you a discount!
FX Buckley - still serving excellent steak to this day
The museum tells the story of Dublin in the 20th century and indeed all the exhibits have been donated by the public. There’s a lot there to go through and a guided tour is included in your ticket. Your guide, most are actors, will set the scene for you over half an hour or so and then you are free to wander back and forward through the rooms.
Express delivery

Our guide,  June,  expertly and light-heartedly (mostly) took us through the 20th century in the capital, the big events such as the 1916 rising and later the bombing of North Strand during the second world war, and often the small ones too, like the six ducks that were killed during the 1916 fighting in Stephen's Green where the rebels were led by Michael Mallin and Countess Markiewicz.
At the grocers
 There is a U2 room also with all kinds of artefacts from the group’s rise to fame. There is a room dedicated to Wings of Ireland, A people’s history of Irish aviation, a relatively new exhibition. Also The Shaking Hand of Dublin display recall Alfie Byrne who was the most popular Dublin-born politician of the 20th century. Byrne's personal archive is now on view here. There are features on the women who have always played a part in Ireland's history- their contribution now recognised. And a corner called the Editor’s Desk, a tribute to the Irish Times.


 And there is much much more. Lots of events too are arranged here, the Green Mile is a guided walk around the green, bring your school class to visit the museum for free, every Monday at 1.00pm Sarah Costigan tells you the story of Ireland's famous female pioneers……. I could go on and on. Do visit - it is Very Highly Recommended for young and old alike, maybe young and old together!

Irish Times exhibit

The Joshua Tree Award


Rory Gallagher (in the U2 room)


Good old days (for some) remembered

The Little Museum of Dublin
15 St Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
also on this Dublin trip:
Pearse Lyons Distillery
Café en Seine




Thursday, January 17, 2019

Flavours of New Zealand


Flavours of New Zealand


New Zealand wine-growers came in force to Dublin last Monday and the tasting at the Radisson Blu in Golden Lane was appropriately called Flavours of New Zealand. Delicious flavours both in very approachable entry level wines and even more so in the very desirable top end wines, both in red and white.

Sauvignon Blanc is THE white wine grape associated with New Zealand and, aside from the individual wineries, the event featured a SB Table. The seven wines had been picked by sommeliers who had visited New Zealand on scholarship. I noted three, beginning with the very refreshing Clos Henri Marlborough 2016, imported by Les Caves de Pyrene. We two had a bit of a contest between the Framingham F-Series and the Greywhacke Wild, both Marlborough, and the less expensive Framingham got the nod, both very very good, both distributed by Liberty Wines.
Great to see Findlater still going strong at the New Zealand tasting. They were founded in 1823.
This bike, donated by the company, is an exhibit at the Little Museum of Dublin.

New Zealand is not that well known as a Chardonnay producer. But it is grown throughout the country, reflecting the terroir and the wide regional diversity. This grape also had its own table. Two of the best ones from the eight on the table, I thought, were the Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve (Marlborough) and the outstanding Pegasus Bay Virtuoso (North Canterbury) . Both are distributed here by Febvre.
Stunning Pinot Noir
One to keep!

Mount (Mt.) Beautiful was a winery table with a full hand of excellent well-priced wines and, like quite a few of the wineries here, they are seeking representation in the Irish market. David Teece and his wife Leigh started by purchasing four farms in 2003 and wasted no time in planting vines. We tasted three whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling) along with their Pinot Noir, all certified-sustainable and estate-grown, and all better than normal. Only eleven kilometres from the ocean, the vines are protected by Mt Beautiful and the couple, who also do conventional farming, make the best of their terroir.

We had a similar success at the multi-award winning Saint Clair Family Estate table. Luckily you can get their wines here as they are distributed by Findlater & Co. The entry level Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir were very acceptable and the higher levels had that bit more going for them by way of restraint and sophistication and, yet, the price difference isn’t all that much. Watch out for Saint Clair.
Excellent!

One of the more unusual Sauvignon Blancs came from the well-known Brancott Estate (distributed here by Pernod Ricard). They are one of the vineyards trying to include naturally lower alcohol wines in their portfolio. I tasted one, the Flight 2017 (Maryborough). Just 9% but no lack of flavour at all - very encouraging, like the recent Dr John Forrest one purchased from Marks and Spencer.

Our second stroll around the tables saw us concentrate on the reds and here it was mostly about the Point Noirs! Felton Road had a strong hand as you'd expect from a vinery with a “formidable worldwide reputation for Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir”. They are very special wines and pricey.

I’d have been very happy with the first Bannockburn, a really top notch Pinot at €52.99. And then came their Block 3 Bannockburn, an even better wine, matched by the one from Block 5, each at €79.99. Pricey yes but really very special and imported by JN Wine.

Gru-Vee!
And speaking of special takes me back to Cloudy Bay, distributed here by Edward Dillon. Again there was a great start with the 2016 Pinot Noir from Marlborough (45.60). And then I spotted a Te Wahi from Central Otago. I was told excitedly that this comes from a new project and is produced to be “age-able”. 

Otago is way down south and the fruit comes from two small “very high” parcels. The intent to make it “age-able” is underlined by the use of cork as a closure - all the others on the table had screw-cap. It does however cost €87.90. Happy Birthday. Happy Christmas. Happy Anniversary. I’ll think of something.

Seifried Estate had a full range, everything from bubbles to dessert and including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. I more or less went off piste here and came up with a handy double, from grapes normally used in Austria. Their Grüner Veltliner Nelson 2016 was a beauty (and, dare I say it, a great change from SB and Chard!). And I was equally impressed with the flavour and finish from their Zweigelt Nelson 2014. Both are distributed by Classic Drinks so do watch out for them.

Began to run out of puff (and time) at that stage and had to leave without trying all the tables. Nonetheless it was quite an afternoon of tasting, more than enough to illustrate that New Zealand is a major player and a welcome one in the Irish market, two islands from opposite ends of the world helping one another one in trade even if we knock one another out on the rugby field.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Wine Brief. Bradley’s Host Wine Tasting as Street Lights Shine



Bradley’s Host Wine Tasting as Street Lights Shine
Bradley's celebrate the switching on of the North Main Street Christmas lights this Friday with a wine-tasting in the famous old food and drink shop. The tasting, from 5.30 to 7.30, is in conjunction with Findlaters and there'll be a selection of reds and whites. You may well get something for Christmas table.

Rioja Reserva
Looking for a really versatile, food-friendly red?  This Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2014 Tinto could be just the job, available at O’Brien’s at a reduced price of €20.95. See review here.


Australia Day Tasting
The 2019 edition date is January 31st. All the details on the poster. Do note this is a Trade tasting.


Chateau Feely
Do you love someone enough to gift them a share in a vineyard? Yourself? Pourquoi pas?Chateau Feely in Bergerac gives you the opportunity for this and more unusual presents. Check out their “classic vine share “. To order the excellent Feely wines for delivery in Ireland or to find a stockist near you please contact Mary Pawle organic wines info@marypawlewines.com .

Chateau Minière
One of the best wine tastings I ever had was outdoors at Chateau Minière in the Bourgueil area of the Loire Valley. 

Their broad range of vine ages and of soils allows the production of delicate fruity wines to be enjoyed young, as well as more full-bodied wines with great ageing potential with tannins that become silky over time. The “Vignes Centenaires de Minière” is a unique wine, produced from their oldest vines. I bought a fair bit of that during my visit but well gone now!

The good news is that you stay here nowadays - details here.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Very Likeable Rogue. And One Sweet Wine.


A Very Likeable Rogue in his Sunday best

Matsu “El Picaro” Tinta de Toro (DO) 2017, 14.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s


Le Rogue
This “series” of wine, Matsu de Domingo”, recalls the spirit of the old Spanish Sunday: rest, church in your Sunday best, special dishes and the best wine opened. Check the website here for more details on this and others in the series.

Tinta de Toro is, as you probably know, Tempranillo, and the Matsu vines in the Toro region are cultivated using organic techniques. Like the man on the label, this El Picaro has youth on its side,  even if the fruit comes from 90 year old vines. The other wines show progressively older faces - worth a look on their website.

And that youth is illustrated in the deep ruby colour. There are intense dark berry aromas. On the palate, fruit flavours are the prominent feature as this fresh wine makes his merry way to a very pleasant finish indeed. Very Highly Recommended. I told you this is a engaging rogue! Even if some frown when there is a giggle, with El Picaro at its source, in the back of the chapel.

“The freshly ironed new shirt, the shiny shoes and the special hat. The best stews and the best wine. Tomorrow they will go back to work, but today is a day to rest and celebrate.  Today is Sunday.”  Enjoy!

Sweetly Traditional

Gerard Bertrand Banyuls Traditionnel (AP) 2013, 16%, €23.95 (got it on sale 19.16) O’Brien’s


Grenache, mostly from ancient bushes and often harvested only when they have reached the dried wrinkly stage (like raisins), is the main grape in this naturally sweet wine (vin doux naturel or VDN for short).  The fruit is grown in Mediterranean cooled French vineyards around Banyuls-sur-Mer, close to the Spanish border. 

While the traditional vinification process is underway and when the alcohol reaches 8 or 9 per cent, fermentation is halted by light fortification with a spirit. That full-stop leaves some sugar in the wine.

Banyuls is often compared to Port but is a gorgeous dessert wine in its own right, tasting drier than it actually is - no cloying syrupy stuff here. 

In the Rhone area of Rasteau they make a similar red dessert wine that also goes well with blue cheese (among other things, including chocolate). The World Atlas of Wine says straight out that Banyuls is France’s finest VDN.

Our Gerard Bertrand has a garnet colour; the aromas are of small red and darker fruit. On the palate it is full and well-balanced, fresh, elegant, yet with power and persistence. Very Highly Recommended.

They recommend pairing it with desserts of fruit, with créme brulée, with foie gras and also as an aperitif. I tried it with a mature Cashel Blue and it was quite a treat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lopez de Haro. The Classica Collection from Rioja.


Lopez de Haro. The Classica Collection
On the outskirts of Haro

Lopez de Haro are based a short drive east of Haro, a historic wine town in Rioja. You’ll also hear La Rioja used but that refers to the administrative area rather than the wine region.

Wine has been made here for over 2,000 years. While Haro may not trip off the lips, as would St Emilion for example, it is still a hive of activity and, with so many bodegas there, it will drive your Sat-Nav crazy, not to mention the driver! 

However, even with Sat-Nav Susie confused, it is very easy to find an interesting bodega, almost by chance. I certainly enjoyed my visits to Bodegas Lopez de Heredia/Tondonia with their old timber buildings and modern bar and, across the road at Bodegas la Rioja Alta, well known for their Arana and Ardanza reds.

For all that the bodegas and wine activity, Haro is a small enough town with a population of around 12,000 people. The completion of the train station in 1880 led to the concentration of wineries here. When very few European cities had electricity, Haro (and Jerez) had it. In the way that every street in France seems to have a pharmacy, every street in Haro then had a bank. 

Aside from the practical benefits of railway and electricity (and banks), the town also benefits from the soil of the region, a combination of soil and clay that deliver complexity, according to the Finest Wines of Rioja, a recommended book that concentrates on the top producers not alone in Rioja but in NW Spain. 

For more on Haro, and Rioja in general, you could do worse than get your hands on the easy-reading The Wine Regions of Rioja by Ana Fabiano. And for more on its wines, why not start with this excellent trio, new to the Findlater portfolio and all available at Bradley’s of Cork. Good value too.

Lopez de Hara Rosada Rioja (DO) 2017, 13.5%, €14.95, Bradley’s Cork.
This rosada is a blend of Garnacha and Viura (the Riojan white grape) picked from low producing old vines in Rioja Alta and like the other two here is part of their Classica Collection.

Colour is a clean pale salmon. Red fruits, and banana notes, on the nose, floral notes too. There is an unexpected depth of flavour on the palate with a touch of sweetness, a pleasant mouthfeel, well balanced, fresh and lively and a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.


Lopez de Hara Rioja blanco (DO) 2017, 12.5%, €14.95, Bradley’s Cork.


The main grape is Viura (also known elsewhere in Spain as Macabeu), again from old vines. There is a small percentage of other local grapes blended in and the wine is matured for 3 months in French oak barrels.

Colour is a pale straw, light and bright. Ripe fruits feature on the complex nose. Palate is amazingly fresh, edgy fruit and tart acidity combine all the way to a long finalé. Subtly oaked with a lip-smacking farewell, this wine is a steal and Highly Recommended.

Lopez de Hara Rioja Crianza (DO) 2015, 13.5%, €14.95, Bradley’s Cork.
From old vines, in a privileged location between the River Ebro and the Sierra de Tolono, comes this crianza, mainly Tempranillo but with Garnacha and Graciano also in the mix. It has spent 18 months in French and American oak.

Colour is a dark cherry. Aromas of ripe red fruit, liquorice, and vanilla from the oak. Warm and rich with a soft mouthfeel, tannins silky (little grip), hugely impressive on the palate, elegant and accessible through to the finish. No wonder Decanter put this multi-award winner in its Top 50 Best Buy Rioja in 2016. This skilful harmonious combination of fruit and wood is Very Highly Recommended and, by the way, great value as well.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot. Location and Terroir Combine

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot
Stunning Combination of Location and Terroir

Isn’t the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa one of the best situated hotels in the country? One of the most welcoming too! Can’t recall any other greeting me (and every guest) at reception with a glass of the excellent (and local) Stonewell Tawny. And when you leave, well there is a pot (a very tasty one too) of their own Winter-Berry Jam. 


So now add in a wine dinner with the renowned Maison Louis Jadot and you can understand I was in a foodie heaven. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate (it was about 12 hours behind schedule!) so the event didn't quite live up to the Burgundy on the Beach title but it was top class in every aspect.

The beach-side hotel, miles of sand to each side, supports quite a few local producers and a few were featured in the five course menu. But I spotted many also in the ancillary menus: Kids, Sandwiches, Room Service, and Afternoon Tea. Some of those included were: Clonakilty Pork, Bushby Strawberries, cheesemakers (Coolea, Cashel Blue, and Bandon Vale), Timoleague Ham, Ummera Smokehouse, and Shannonvale Chicken. Breakfast is also quite an occasion, some great choices on the menu (hot and cold) and lovely service in a smashing room.

And that Gulfstream Restaurant, with its windows looking down on the Atlantic,  was also the venue for the Wine Tasting Dinner at which I was an invitee. The guests met in the superb lounge and we were welcomed with some tasty canapés and a cool glass of Chablis, by Louis Jadot bien sur. This bright and fresh wine was just the ticket to get the evening off to an excellent start, the canapés vanishing and the chats starting.
Starter

Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director with Maison Louis Jadot, supported by distributors Findlater's, was introduced in the restaurant before dinner. And, not wanting to interfere with the flow of the dinner, spoke about the three white wines, produced by Jadot from their 250 hectares of vineyard.

The Chablis comes from the northern part of Burgundy, somewhat cooler than the second wine, the fresh and fruity Saint-Véran. This comes from a small village in the Maconnais region, “nice to compare the two, side by side”. Both are produced from Chardonnay. Generally, white wines from here are Chardonnay, reds are Pinot Noir.

Soon we would “meet” the third white, the Meursault, another 100 per cent Chardonnay. This is fermented in wooden barrels and aged 15 months before bottling. “well balanced oakiness, much more complex and deep,” said Marie-Pierre. A beautiful wine, full-fruited bouquet, generous palate and a long finish and a terrific match with the Gulfstream Seafood Assiette.
Seafood Assiette

Now too sure which I was most looking forward to try: the fillet of Macroom beef or the Nuits-Saint-George. The wine is one of the region’s most famous wines, aged in oak barrels for 12 months, deep of colour and flavour. Marie-Pierre: “Lots of structure, tannin. Elegant.” Mais oui!

For our final wine, we moved south from Burgundy to Beaujolais next door and that meant a change of grape from the Pinot Noir of the Nuits-Saint-George to the Gamay.
Fillet

As you might expect, it wasn't any old Gamay (Beaujolais nouveau for instance is a Gamay) but a cru. There are ten crus in Beaujolais and Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill) was where our wine was produced. “The Gamay thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel. It is much more fruit driven and will be interesting with dessert!”, said Maire-Pierre. Probably not the best match but a lovely wine that I more or less held back until my plate was cleared. Then I enjoyed it and its reviving acidity all the more!

And those plates. Thanks to Head Chef Adam Medcalf and his crew, they looked splendid from start to finish.

The starter was Macroom Buffalo Cheese Plate: crisp Feta and polenta, Ricotta pannacotta, Mozzarella and Tomato Tian with beetroot, sun-dried tomato and rocket. 

The fish course was entitled Gulfstream Seafood Assiette and consisted of Ummera Smoked Salmon and crab roulade, sugar cubed salmon, crisp fried squid with a celeriac remoulade, pickled cucumber, quail egg and a bisque reduction.

The came the Roasted Fillet of Macroom Beef with a lobster and prawn crust, fondant potato, celeriac purée, shiitake mushroom and a horseradish cream sauce.

Time then for dessert: Roasted Rhubarb and orange pannacotta with ginger biscuit Ice-cream.

The lovely evening was drawing to a conclusion but Ruth McCarthy, Director of Sales & Marketing at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, cheered the guests up with a promise of “many more evenings like this”. Marie-Pierre complimented the hotel kitchen saying the food was "very good". “Hope you enjoyed the wines and see you in Burgundy.” Inchydoney on tour. Now who’s organising that trip.

The Gulfstream Restaurant
Also on this trip:
Syrian Food at Bandon's Bayleaf.
Bantry Market Every Friday



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Couple of Recommended Reds to Consider!

Thierry Germain Saumur-Champigny (AC) 2015, 13%, €26.45 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau,
Chateau de Saumur
Saumur, on the Loire in Western France, is a great town to visit. Highlights include the medieval fort (Chateau de Saumur), the underground Musée du Champignons, plus wine tours and tastings. Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation for the two named places and six neighbouring villages. The wines are made, almost exclusively, from Cabernet Franc.

Germain is biodynamic and produces Cabernet Franc with purity, finesse and drinkability, wines that feature “generous and ripe darker fruit flavours”. His cellars are in “tuffeau” caves below the winery. Tuffeau is the soft local limestone and you see it in many buildings in the area.

Le Revue des Vins des France gave the domaine its coveted Three Star designation and later made him Winegrower of the Year in 2011.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are fruity aromas, ripe berry mainly, floral notes too. Fruit flavours follow through to the palate, amazingly generous for such a young wine; freshness and purity too plus an excellent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

It is made from the fruit of vines with an average age fo 25 years and harvested to preserve aroma and freshness. It is raised for 3 to 4 months in a combination of stainless steel and foudres (large wooden vats). A good partner with a variety of dishes. Thierry himself recommends ballotine of chicken with cracked black pepper.

Aplanta Alentejano (IG) 2015, 14%, €13.95 Bradley’s Cork


I like this mid to dark ruby Portuguese wine with its dark fruit aromas. Palate has that fruit, cherry prominent, spice too, a hint of vanilla, soft tannins. It is quite plush but good acidity makes for excellent balance. A well made everyday wine that won't be out of place at the weekend! Like many wines from Portugal it over delivers at the price. Quite a lot of character in this refreshing glass and Highly Recommended.



As you might expect it is a blend, produced by Obrigado with grapes from a community vineyard. It is 70% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 30% Alicante (Garnacha). They recommend pairing it with grilled meat (burgers, steaks), charcuterie and “sharp” cheeses!